Jane Hu and I wrote a recap/review of all of the new network sitcoms—A to Z, Black-ish, Manhattan Love Story, Mulaney, Selfie—for Dear Television at The Los Angeles Review of Books. We talked about narrative trickery, gay panic, and, of course, the ubiquity of cellphone slapstick on TV:
“Phil: It really just ends up seeming like a show about Love in The Time of Texting featuring characters who have the technological agility of grandparents. What’s your take on these works of art in the age of whatever?
Jane: When did the cellphone become the primary motivator of plot in television? Or has this, in a sense, always been the case? (I’ve been watching a lot of Louis Feuillade, aka-early-silent-serials, recently and wow does he place pressure on the telephone.) As a very brilliant supervisor of mine once asked: do we use the phone to talk to one another, or do we talk to one another in order to use the telephone?”