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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Netflix Instant Watch: Slings and Arrows

Posted by Alison Hallett on Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 12:44 PM

I don't know how I slept on the short-lived Canadian TV show Slings and Arrows; I'm a theater critic, for God's sake. But I don't think you have to know or care anything for live theater in order to appreciate Slings and Arrows, which neatly balances mockery of the silly aspects of the theater world with an illustration of what live theater is like when it's actually good. (A useful comparison: It's to the theater world what Friday Night Lights is to football, meaning you don't have to care at all about the show's ostensible subject matter in order to love it. Another useful comparison: Like The Larry Sanders Show, it simultaneously skewers the goofiness of the showbiz world and provides an insightful window into how it operates. Yes, those are two of the best TV shows of all time. Yes, Slings and Arrows is that great.)

The show was co-created by former Kid in the Hall Mark McMinney, and ran from 2003-2006. It's set at a large Canadian Shakespeare festival, and each season focuses on the production of one play: Hamlet in the first season, Macbeth in season two, and King Lear in season three. Part of the fun of the show, if you're into that sort of thing, is tracking how Shakespearean motifs are integrated into each episode; other parts of the fun include attractive people trying to nail each other (pre-fame Rachel McAdams is sooo cute), cranky old gay couples being adorable, artsy theater types butting heads with their bottom-line oriented corporate sponsors, and theater people struggling to contain their enormous egos long enough to get some actual work done.

I started season 2 last night and I'm told it just keeps getting better—which is hard to believe, because season 1 is brilliant. (With the exception of the pilot, which is a bit rocky, tone-wise.) It's on your Netflix Instant. Go watch it. Do it.

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