In the final episode of “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Jeb Pyre — the (fictional) Latter-day Saint police detective played by Andrew Garfield — finally gets upset enough to swear. Not that you can blame him when he drops an f-bomb.
Up to that point, Pyre and the other LDS characters mostly “Mormon swear.” They say “gosh” a lot. And “heck.” And even “oh my heck.”
There’s plenty of room for discussion about what’s true and what’s not in the miniseries, but the Utah language is real. Particularly for Utah County in the mid-1980s.
Asked about the language in “Under the Banner,” Garfield replied, “Gosh, it is a whole …” — and then he realized what he’d just said. “Gosh!?!” he exlaimed. “I can’t help it. It is a disease. F—!
“It is a whole different rhythm and way of being, evidently.”
Truth vs. fiction
FX/Hulu and Black have been clear since Day 1 that “Under the Banner of Heaven” is a fictionalized account of the Lafferty killings. And the seven-part miniseries is more about how women were/are treated in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints than it is about trying to solve the murders of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica.
However … I am concerned that people who watched the show came away thinking they’ve seen something closer to a documentary than a drama. There’s already evidence of that.
Many reviews of “Under the Banner” repeated the embellishment/falsehood that the Laffertys were one of the Utah’s best-known and most respected families. (They were virtually unknown before Brenda and Erica were killed.) We’re talking about the New York Daily News, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Playlist, rogerebert.com, Slate, The Hollywood Reporter, and the BBC, just to name a few. And many of those publications accepted as fact that the Laffertys were the “Kennedys of Utah” — which is laughable to locals.
No, that’s not a huge deal. But it does speak to how viewers — even professional viewers — can walk away from a production like “Under the Banner of Heaven” thinking what’s on the screen is fact.
I’m not arguing that FX/Hulu or anyone involved in the production did anything wrong. Again, they made it clear this was not a documentary.
But it’s troubling nonetheless.
Tuned in ...
Big gay rom-com • Comedian Joel Kim Booster wrote “Fire Island” (streaming on Hulu) a gay rom com, loosely based on Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and set during a summer visit to gay mecca Fire Island. Andrew Ahn directed, and Booster stars along with Bowen Yang (“SNL”), Margaret Cho, Conrad Ricamora (“How to Get Away with Murder”), Zane Phillips (“Legacies”), James Scully (“You”) and a bunch of others.
It has its moments, but I wanted it to be better. And funnier.
“Fire Island” is unabashedly gay in a way that would have been shocking 10 years ago — maybe even five years ago? — but times have changed. Gay guys have romantic misadventures, too.
Dopey gay documentary • “The Book of Queer” (streaming on Discovery+) wants to mix history with comedy. It’s not good at the former, and it’s downright dreadful at the latter.
It purports to tell us about figures from history who were actually gay. Or gay-ish. In the first episode, that includes Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt and an Egyptian pharaoh. The history is often suspect, and the comedy falls flat — often falling into offensive gay stereotypes. It’s a mess.
Rip-off redux • “The Orville: New Horizons” has a new title (the “New Horizons”) part, a new outlet (it moved from Fox to Hulu) and is streaming its first new episodes in more than three years, but it’s still a dopey take on “Star Trek” that’s far less funny than it thinks it is.
Some call it a spoof. Some call it an homage. It’s actually a total rip-off of “Star Trek.” Why Paramount hasn’t sued, I don’t know.
Dead shows walking • Both “Roswell, New Mexico” (Monday, 8 p.m., Channel 30) and “In the Dark” (Monday, 9 p.m., Channel 30) return for their fourth seasons — but The CW has already canceled both series, so this will be it.
There’s no confirmation on whether the shows will leave fans hanging when they air their final episodes.
No more ex-“Mormons” • “Seeking Sister Wife” returns for Season 4 on Monday (11 p.m., TLC), but there aren’t any Utahns in the cast anymore. St. George residents Colton, Tami and Sophie Winder — former members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints who are in a polygamous relationship — were not invited back after appearing in Season 2 and 3.
Risen from the Dead • CBS canceled the legal drama “All Rise” more than a year ago. But OWN stepped in and saved it — Season 3 starts airing Tuesday at 6 p.m. on the cable network.
Most of the cast is back. Marg Helgenberger will only be part-time, however, because she’s in Season 2 of “CSI: Las Vegas” (aka Season 17 of “CSI”), which will start airing this fall on CBS.
Season 1 of “All Rise” was really good. Season 2 was kind of just OK. The jury is out on Season 3.
Letterman is back • The man who hosted more late-night TV than anyone else in American history returns with his second Netflix series. In each episode of “That’s My Time with David Letterman,” which starts streaming Tuesday, an up-and-coming comedian performs, and then sits down to chat with Dave.
If you want to do the math, Letterman hosted “Late Night” for 12 seasons and 1,763 episodes, and then the “Late Show” for 22 seasons and 4,262 episodes — a total of 34 seasons and 6,025 episodes. Johnny Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” for 30 seasons and 4,531 episodes.
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