Joshua Alston, The AV Club

Joshua Alston

The AV Club

Atlanta, GA, United States

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Past articles by Joshua:

OWN’s David Makes Man is a bracing tribute to Blackness and boyhood

Describing David Makes Man as a coming-of-age story or a family drama—though it’s both of those—feels inadequate given its breadth and fierce experimental streak. It's one of those shows that precedes the pithy genre descriptor that will eventually define it. → Read More

To save itself, Homeland had to get over losing its leading man

The fourth season of Homeland represents the peak of the show’s strengths, achieved as a direct result of expanding it beyond The Carrie And Brody Show. → Read More

War Of The Worlds gives a quietly compelling makeover to the iconic invasion story

Like any slow burn, War Of The Worlds reveals its charms over time. → Read More

Police brutality takes many different forms in the quietly powerful Monsters And Men

The public policy around police-involved shootings of unarmed African-Americans hasn’t progressed much since civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri pointed klieg lights at the issue four years ago. In the same period, the Black Lives Matter movement has precipitated enough scripted content to occupy its own bleak cinematic universe, with recent entries including the surprisingly playful… → Read More

Ethan Hawke introduces an unsung country renegade in the intimate biopic Blaze

Of the many challenges writer-director Ethan Hawke dealt himself in dramatizing the life of unsung country musician Blaze Foley, the biggest of them is simply justifying the exercise. Foley wasn’t a household name, at least for anyone who didn’t grow up behind a Texarkana dive bar, and his discography is limited to a batch of 45s and live albums recorded during his note-for-note rendition of a… → Read More

As Atlanta’s Robbin’ Season comes to an end, Earn pulls off a daring reverse heist

Of the many compliments that can be hurled at Atlanta, the highest has to do with the show’s tendency to dramatically shapeshift from week-to-week. It’s a horror anthology. It’s an indie comedy. It’s a commentary on contemporary black life. It’s a high-art after-school special about the grave consequences of fashion shaming. Atlanta is—and I beg you to read this in your best grindhouse trailer… → Read More

Atlanta can be anything it damn well pleases, even a coming-of-age period piece

“FUBU” has a vestigial quality, which probably sounds like an insult, but it’s not intended to. Perhaps it’s because Atlanta has acclimated its audience to ten-episode seasons, and Robbin’ Season features 11, including “FUBU,” the first episode of the show in which none of the regular cast members appear. But it feels less like a standard installment of Atlanta and more like a canonical,… → Read More

Another chaotic road trip leads to a fateful confrontation in Atlanta Robbin' Season

Nine episodes into Atlanta Robbin’ Season, each of the four central characters has lived their own surreal horror movie. In “Helen,” Earn was stalked by the Schnappviecher but ultimately succumbed to his fear of commitment. Darius witnessed the bloody final confrontation between Teddy Perkins and his brother after narrowly escaping the scheme to frame him as the culprit. Alfred endured a… → Read More

With Darius behind the wheel, Atlanta becomes an American horror story

“Teddy Perkins” is the sixth episode of Atlanta’s second season, a point by which most television shows have become whatever they’re going to be. Even Master Of None, Atlanta’s closest auteur sitcom peer, settled into a groove by the back half of its second season, save for occasional experiments like the Emmy-winning “Thanksgiving.” (Then again, Master’s decision to largely abandon its… → Read More

Earn and Van come to a dead end in Atlanta's oddest tourist destination

In most durable couples, there’s a dancer and a spectator, the person anxiously waiting for “Hot In Herre” to play at the wedding reception and the person who’s convinced themselves their body is a load-bearing pillar. In Earn and Van’s complicated situationship, it’s pretty clear which one is which. It’s equally clear that their biggest hurdle is their failure to understand the concept of… → Read More

Earn, Al, and Darius aim for better as Atlanta heralds the start of Robbin' Season

In the run-up to the second season of Atlanta, Donald Glover’s comments to the press have revealed two interesting themes about his approach. The first is that Glover wants the quasi-anthologized Robbin’ Season to be better than the show’s first batch of episodes, and the second is that his writers’ room spent a lot of time talking about Tiny Toon Adventures. → Read More

Nathan For You kicks off season 4 by celebrating Nathan's past...uh, successes?

“I Came Out A Believer,” Molly Lambert’s Grantland piece from 2014, remains the closest thing to a proper, thorough accounting of the lasting impact of Nathan For You on the entrepreneurs who have appeared on it. As much as Nathan Fielder’s surreal format borrows from the “small business makeover” reality subgenre, Nathan For You has never fully incorporated the where-are-they-now segment shows… → Read More

Wet Hot’s 10-year anniversary ends, and ends, and ends happily ever after

The hard part of processing the final act of Ten Years Later is figuring out what exactly happened to the Camp Firewood crew. It’s also the fun part. A lot of stuff happens between “Dance” and “End Summer Night’s Dream,” and for the vast majority of the Wet Hot characters, the conclusion of Ten Year → Read More

"Lunch" · Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later · TV Review Wet Hot American Summer has an overpopulation problem...and it’s growing · TV Club · The A.V. Club

At some point during these eight episodes of Wet Hot, I’m going to have to get it through my head that Ten Years Later is not a sequel to the movie. It’s a sequel to the entire franchise, including, but not limited to, practically every single character and element introduced so far. I’m half-expect → Read More

Andy makes his less than triumphant return to Camp Firewood in a middling Wet Hot

Wet Hot American Summer has expanded from a relatively small, esoteric comedy film about a weird summer camp into a massive, highly populated action series that also just happens to be set at a weird summer camp. Sequels always demand a raising of the stakes, even if those stakes were already comica → Read More

Ben’s epic nose job is among the surprises when the Wet Hot gang meets Ten Years Later

The Wet Hot American Summer Cinematic Universe is crammed tightly with goofy gags and absurd premises, many of which could be spun off into their own series. (I, for one, would enjoy a dark origin story chronicling the genesis of Coop’s superhero alter-ego, Miss Patty Pancakes.) Michael Showalter an → Read More

The Leftovers’ flawless finale earns its place in the new television canon

The Leftovers has earned the right to whatever kind of finale it damn well pleases. That feels like an odd thing to say about a television show that topped out at 28 episodes, barely more than many broadcast shows crank out every year. Then again, most television shows that end after 28 episodes ha → Read More

In an otherworldly The Leftovers, Kevin fulfills his purpose but loses his heart

The final season of The Leftovers wouldn’t have been complete without another visit to the other side, the terrifying, exhilarating alternate reality first introduced in season two’s “International Assassin.” Kevin Garvey’s adventures in the beyond lead the show to some of its most arresting visuals → Read More

Laurie Garvey counsels her final patients in a devastating The Leftovers

Episodic loglines are one of the more underappreciated art forms in the era of Peak TV. At their best, they have a certain poetic quality as they aim to describe the story without giving away even the slightest hint about the plot. Nothing says “worthwhile episode of television” more strongly than, → Read More

The Leftovers’ Matt Jamison faces off with a terrifying impostor and a stubborn old foe

In 1995, Neale Donald Walsch published the first book in his best-selling Conversations With God series, which chronicles what Walsch says are the transcripts of literal conversations between himself and a disembodied voice that began speaking to him after he wrote an angry letter to God. The series → Read More