Overrated/Underrated: In praise of Janet on ‘The Good Place,’ and fine, the Oscars shouldn’t have a host—or a show

D'Arcy Carden portrays Janet — and many more — on the most recent episode of "The Good Place."
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)


D’Arcy Carden on ‘The Good Place’: When critics praise this NBC show, what’s often mentioned is its big heart, gentle charm and an egalitarian ensemble made up of funny people who genuinely like one another. But this actor who’s already portrayed bad and good versions of Janet (“not a human, not a robot”) set herself apart a week ago by also playing four of the series’ other main characters with only wardrobe cues like a track suit to guide her way. Like much of the series, the episode is complicated to explain. But it’s a strange pleasure to watch, and Carden just booked her trip to the Good Place for great behavior.

Neneh Cherry’s ‘Broken Politics’: Still best known on these shores for her breakthrough (and groundbreaking) single “Buffalo Stance,” this restless U.K. singer-songwriter has been on a tear since the skronky free-jazz of her 2012 album “The Cherry Thing” ushered her back onto the musical landscape for the first time since the ‘90s. Here, teamed with electronic producer Kieran Hebden (a.k.a Four Tet), Cherry’s taken another musical left turn amid intricate, unconventional arrangements that at times imagine a next-generation trip-hop. But with so many flashes of menace and invention on tracks like the Ornette Coleman-sampling “Natural Skin Deep,” she remains firmly situated on the edge.



Hosting the Oscars: By the time you read this, someone may have finally been appointed to that highest entertainment post in the land: Academy Awards host. While a few Twitter-suggested candidates such as Tiffany Haddish, Tina Fey, Lin-Manuel Miranda or Amber Ruffin all hold promise, why does the Oscars still bother with a host at this point? No comic can be funny enough or hit the requisite level of safety and reverence (or, crucially, transport the Oscars to a time when there was nothing else to watch on TV), so just push the winners onto our phones and let’s take awards season off. You’ve earned it, Hollywood.

PewDiePie: For those who have remained blessedly unaware of the weird world of YouTube fame: Congratulations, you have avoided the rise of this Swedish videogame commenter and so-called comedian, who’s also known as Felix Kjellberg. But while you weren’t watching, he’s amassed an unreal following — 76 million and counting — despite continually finding himself either saying racist things or “accidentally” promoting neo-Nazi content, as he did this week in boosting another YouTube channel. Truth can be elusive online, but how long until his followers believe this might be who this guy really is?

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