Joshua Alston

Stories by Joshua Alston

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    Get Ready for Oprah, 24/7

    When it was announced, back in 2008, that Oprah Winfrey would soon be getting her own television network, a person could have been forgiven for thinking she already had one of those. Not just because she previously cofounded the Oxygen network before selling back her shares, but because Oprah wields such a singularly massive influence, it’s easy to forget there are cracks and crevices of the culture her glowing light hasn’t shone on. But the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) is a pivotal moment for the Oprah brand. When her syndicated talk show ends this year, OWN will be her only—not to mention her riskiest—television presence. Those who have wondered whether there were limits to Oprah’s power might get their answer soon.
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    Lisa Kudrow's Comeback

    The most conspicuous comeback of late belongs to the Sundance Channel and The Comeback, the most incisive, hilarious, and delightfully savage takedown of reality television ever made.
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    Join TV's New Frat Pack

    "Glory Daze" is a new scripted comedy that’s not quite original but is ambitious nonetheless: it’s set in college.
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    'Eastbound & Down': The Ugliest American

    If there’s a gringo least suited to a move south of the border, it’s Kenny in HBO's "Eastbound & Down," whose attitude toward people of different races leads him to make comments that help make the show the most racist on television.
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    Reality TV Loves Polygamy!

    The Browns, who live in a single-family home that is secretly three conjoined apartments, star in the new TLC show "Sister Wives," which captures the family’s day-to-day life. It’s essentially an unscripted answer to HBO’s "Big Love," but unlike that show, in which the harried patriarch Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) is practically crushed under the weight of his tripled domestic duties, Sister Wives casts a more favorable light on polygamy.
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    The Black Church, Homophobia, and Pastor Eddie Long

    One of the most powerful men in the black megachurch movement, Bishop Eddie Long, who in 2004 created a ministry to “deliver” men from homosexuality, faces allegations of taking sexual advantage of three teenage boys. Will the startling allegations make African-Americans rethink the sometimes hostile attitude churches and pastors take toward gays?
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    Spoilers Suck!

    Here's an advantage that television creators have over movie creators: there's a sense of community created among fans of a TV show that a movie never gets to amass—and generally, that community takes its cues from the top. If Matthew Weiner makes clear that the "Mad Men" community doesn't tolerate spoilers, there's a stigma around them. That's why the marketing campaign for "Catfish," the new documentary with a supposedly wild twist, is almost hilarious in its marketing hubris.
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    'Boardwalk Empire': HBO's Own Jersey Shore

    HBO’s anticipated new series "Boardwalk Empire," which is set in Atlantic City during the Prohibition era, is bound to fuel notions of its historical-drama envy.
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    Five Emmy Shockers

    With so many buzzy new series and first-time nominees, there were bound to be some shake-ups during this year’s Primetime Emmys. But in what categories they would occur was still a moving target, with prognosticators puzzling over whether voters would revert to old habits or reward television’s newest hopefuls. Naturally, the answer was a little of both.
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    ‘We Knew the Story Was Not Done’

    Spike Lee discusses the making of his new documentary about the ongoing impact of Hurricane Katrina and the state of New Orleans today.
  • 'The Big C' Is No Cancer Comedy

    Showtime has been able to find a toehold with this brand of hard-to-classify, half-hour dramedies in a way that has eluded HBO. The reason for their success is that unlike "Hung," which takes an inherently comedic idea and mines it for pathos, Showtime's comedies take dark premises and inject them with laughs.
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    Bravo's 'Real Housewives of D.C.': To Veto, or Not to Veto?

    Bravo’s take on the D.C. power-based economy might have yielded interesting results, but any bona fide Beltway divas wouldn’t touch this “Housewives” show in a couture hazmat suit. What remains? The lowest-hanging cherry blossoms—the women with no proximity to power, either physical (most of the cast members live in outlying burbs) or personal. To veto, or not to veto?
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    The New 'Mad Men' Likes It Rough

    Don Draper is back—and in many ways, 'Mad Men' now feels like a brand-new show. Some of the differences are subtle—Peggy Olson has freshened her priggish hairstyle, for one thing—but there’s so much new going on in Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce that such details might only assert themselves with repeated viewings. What can fans expect?
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    Snooki, Situation, 'Jersey Shore' Rule the World

    In spite of quickly becoming an international phenomenon, Nicole Polizzi would probably not feel welcome in France. Not because of the unfair yet persistent perception that the French are less than hospitable to tourists, but because the French Academy of Medicine recently announced it’s recommending a nationwide ban on tanning beds. And Polizzi, best known by her nickname, Snooki, needs her tanning bed.
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    Will Hulu Plus Hook TV Fans, or Overwhelm Them?

    We are, no kidding, in the midst of a golden age of television. There's so much great stuff on, you'll never have time for it all. So when I heard about Hulu Plus, I immediately rushed over to the site to join. Turns out, I might've been a bit hasty.
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    Who Got Left Out of the Emmy Nominations

    As television’s embarrassment of riches continues, the process of choosing nominees come Emmy time has gotten more and more difficult. Even increasing the number of nominees in each category hasn’t helped—year after year, worthy actors, actresses, and shows end up out in the cold.
  • What Happens to CNN After Larry King Hangs Up His Crown?

    While names surface for suitable replacements—King himself is rooting for Ryan Seacrest—the question for CNN is not who will replace King, but what. As we're rolling into midterm elections, could the network start to slant partisan?
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    'Treme,' 'The Real World,' and the New New Orleans

    “The Real World: Return to New Orleans,” premiering Wednesday night, couldn’t be less like TV’s other New Orleans show, “Treme.” But they’re both deeply flawed. Is there any serial approach to the new New Orleans that works?
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    Battle of the Bulge: TV and the Well-Endowed Man

    Both HBO’s dramedy 'Hung' (returning this Sunday) and MTV’s new high-school comedy, 'The Hard Times of RJ Berger,' consider the travails of the well-endowed man. It seems Hollywood is finally ready to stop playing coy and cater to its male audience. Which TV show hits the spot?
  • ABC Still Trying to Make Summer Happen

    It's already being called the Summer of Suck: this season's entertainment has become Opposite Land, where down is up, left is right, and no one goes to see "Sex and the City 2." What better time than now for TV networks, usually barren in the hot months, to make a play for eyeballs?
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    Josh Fox's New HBO Documentary GasLand

    It’s not hard to rage at BP, what with CEO Tony Hayward reminding us almost daily about how the company has bungled the gulf oil spill. What’s difficult is to point the finger at ourselves, to look at our own energy-consumption practices and think about how each of us could make tough choices in the short term that would benefit our environment and security in the long term. More difficult still is breaking this tired cycle. We blame Big Oil when energy exploration leads to disaster, then sheepishly go back to our old habits, like Sisyphus towing his boulder with a gas-guzzling pickup only to watch it roll down again.
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    Rue McClanahan's Blanche: The Original Samantha

    Rue McClanahan, who died Thursday morning at 76, won an Emmy for her uproarious work as an over-the-hill flirt. But how does McClanahan's Blanche compare with her most prominent descendant, Samantha of "Sex and the City"?
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    Gay on Facebook: Nowhere to Hide

    Hiding your sexuality in social media can be a full-time job. It can also provide a life-changing opportunity.

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