When the crazed eyes of Buffalo Bill are staring into your soul, it’s hard to shake off what he’s saying. Ted Levine, who played that role in “The Silence of the Lambs” and was a recurring guest star this season on “Here and Now,” never lost that look. The one he gave Clarice Starling back in 1991 isn’t far off from what his character, Ike Bayer, plants on Tim Robbins in the Season 1 finale of HBO’s ambitious-but-flawed drama.
“Don’t you feel like something’s wrong?” Ike asks. Robbins’ frustrated philosophy professor, Dr. Greg Boatwright, says, “I do,” and then again, with more conviction, “I do.”
“I’ve always felt that way,” Ike continues. “But it’s gotten worse. It’s outside of me.”
“Yeah,” Greg says, utterly transfixed. “It’s everywhere.”
This, in a nutshell, is what “Here and Now” has been saying for 10 episodes. The world was always a scary place, but the 2016 election — and the resulting chaos — has marked a distinct turning point for the progressive family, if not progressives across the country.
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And creator Alan Ball deserves credit for picking at something so many people don’t know how to grapple with. (He doesn’t have to, after all. He’s got “True Blood” money.) Though virtually all television series can find added relevance when looked at through the prism of post-election politics, few scripted series have actively sought out the conversation on purpose. “SNL” digs in from a sardonic viewpoint, as do other comedies looking to pick apart the D.C.-centric circus. “The Good Fight” is targeting the legalities surrounding Trump’s actions, and “American Horror Story” ineffectively tried to turn malaise into malice by bluntly pegging a season to political fear-mongering.
“Here and Now” is different: It keeps its story within reality, aside from a supernatural element (that could be a sickness), and wants to have an honest talk about what’s gone wrong. It wants to identify that uneasy feeling and provide catharsis if not clarity. Given the tumultuous state of affairs, it’s a message that should be eagerly absorbed by a wide audience; one ready to break down their newfound confusion and concern the way Ike and Greg do here.
That didn’t happen. Be it the …read more