Author Topic: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal  (Read 17238 times)

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #90 on: August 11, 2019, 10:26:27 AM »
While tootling about on the overground, I saw someone at Hoxton station wearing a very small trilby hat. It was well fucking futile.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #91 on: August 11, 2019, 02:30:30 PM »
It's quite telling that the best crafted piece of (TV) Barley is an audio-only extra from the DVD. Nathan prank calls his mother during his some shitty podcast only for Mrs Barley to swiftly yet gently scythe through her son's bullshit. "Why are you speaking like that, Nathan?" "Are you coming to the Village fete on Saturday?" etc . The only way a floundering Nathan can think to end the call is by bellowing, "Fuck off!" at his own mother, on-air.

On the basis of this I went to see if the DVD could be picked up cheap 2nd hand, and it can - £3. There are some interesting comments in the reviews which I agree with, like:

"Watching it, I couldn't help wondering if Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker, being trendy pranksters themselves, were suffering from the 'narcissism of small differences.'"

"Ultimately though the programme fails at what it presumably set out to do. The people it savages won’t change, indeed they may interpret it’s aping of so much of what they do as some sort of perverse tribute. Despite some very good performances Nathan Barley risks becoming part of the problem rather than a catalyst of some intellectual solution. In aping so much of contemporary programme making conventions it could become assimilated into the very malaise it set out to attack. And there is nothing “Well Weapon” about that."

I would say the last three lines of the second comment describe much of Brooker's subsequent career. He's pretty much complicit with the subject matter he's satirising, and the effect is mostly conservative.

rue the polywhirl

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #92 on: August 11, 2019, 03:06:19 PM »
Is the Jonnaton Yeah? name explanation really hammered home? It’s quick and brief, establishes his character better than not mentioning it and makes the most of what would have been a very vague text joke on the tv news screen in the background.

The pilot is absolute stretchy, formless gak in comparison to the series. I’m pretty happy with how the series turned out all things considering. One of things I like about the series is how it feels like an ultra heightened, non-stop despairing cartoon but Nathan Barley exhibits lots of relatable human qualities throughout the show - taking Claire’s side at the restaurant and defending her honour... not being the biggest villain in episode 6.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #93 on: August 11, 2019, 06:28:56 PM »
Is the Jonnaton Yeah? name explanation really hammered home? It’s quick and brief, establishes his character better than not mentioning it and makes the most of what would have been a very vague text joke on the tv news screen in the background.

The pilot is absolute stretchy, formless gak in comparison to the series. I’m pretty happy with how the series turned out all things considering. One of things I like about the series is how it feels like an ultra heightened, non-stop despairing cartoon but Nathan Barley exhibits lots of relatable human qualities throughout the show - taking Claire’s side at the restaurant and defending her honour... not being the biggest villain in episode 6.

Agree with this

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #94 on: August 11, 2019, 09:13:33 PM »
On the basis of this I went to see if the DVD could be picked up cheap 2nd hand, and it can - £3. There are some interesting comments in the reviews which I agree with, like:

"Watching it, I couldn't help wondering if Chris Morris and Charlie Brooker, being trendy pranksters themselves, were suffering from the 'narcissism of small differences.'"

"Ultimately though the programme fails at what it presumably set out to do. The people it savages won’t change, indeed they may interpret it’s aping of so much of what they do as some sort of perverse tribute. Despite some very good performances Nathan Barley risks becoming part of the problem rather than a catalyst of some intellectual solution. In aping so much of contemporary programme making conventions it could become assimilated into the very malaise it set out to attack. And there is nothing “Well Weapon” about that."

I would say the last three lines of the second comment describe much of Brooker's subsequent career. He's pretty much complicit with the subject matter he's satirising, and the effect is mostly conservative.

Although this is a plausible criticism, I think it may lie at the root of differences in opinion about the show. While there was undoubtedly a parodic element in spoofing this subculture, I'm not sure that Morris was hoping for the show to be some intellectually powerful satire. In some ways it's much dumber than that. The reason that I enjoy the show is just that Richard Ayoade saying "Keep it foolish" is fucking funny.

While tootling about on the overground, I saw someone at Hoxton station wearing a very small trilby hat. It was well fucking futile.

Keeping it foolish.

FerriswheelBueller

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #95 on: August 11, 2019, 09:28:40 PM »
There’s a place in Stoke Newington called “Food etc” which is also totally fucking Mexico.

Captain Z

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #96 on: August 11, 2019, 11:41:02 PM »
I think Jonatton Yeah? is the best character in it. He gets a lot across in very few words and some brilliant facial expressions. I was already aware of him as Marcus in Coronation Street when I first watched NB, but it's surprising to me that he's never really done any other comedy roles.


Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #97 on: August 12, 2019, 02:30:33 AM »
Is the Jonnaton Yeah? name explanation really hammered home? It’s quick and brief, establishes his character better than not mentioning it and makes the most of what would have been a very vague text joke on the tv news screen in the background.

The pilot is absolute stretchy, formless gak in comparison to the series. I’m pretty happy with how the series turned out all things considering. One of things I like about the series is how it feels like an ultra heightened, non-stop despairing cartoon but Nathan Barley exhibits lots of relatable human qualities throughout the show - taking Claire’s side at the restaurant and defending her honour... not being the biggest villain in episode 6.

He also boasts loudly on a packed bus about getting a blowjob from a thirteen-year-old (even though she wasn't). He really is a total cunt. His defence of Claire's honour is a performative act, he only does it to show off in front of her. I don't think he's really capable of caring enough about someone else's feelings to sincerely stand up for them in public.

However, I agree that there are moments in the series where Nathan comes across as more than a one-dimensional cartoon - he expresses insecurity, doubt, confusion and fear. These moments are fleeting, of course, as Nathan's contrived sense of self would crumble completely if he stopped to think about them for too long. But they are there.

As for the introduction of the Jonatton Yeah? gag, I really do think it's much funnier as a fleeting piece of text. You immediately grasp that this is a tediously ironic prick who styles his name in that way: show don't tell and all that. Yeah?

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #98 on: September 03, 2019, 01:14:53 PM »
There’s a place in Stoke Newington called “Food etc” which is also totally fucking Mexico.
There's a cafe in Bermondsey called "Fuckoffee".

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #99 on: September 04, 2019, 04:01:45 PM »
I HAAAAAAAAATE Nathan Barley.

I've mentioned before (numerous times, in fact) that I've tried three or four times to watch it, but I've never been able to make it past halfway through the third episode.

The main reason for hating it so much - and this is, oddly, a massive compliment to the writing, directing and acting - is that every single character in it is, at best, infinitely right-in-the-tits punchable, at worst an absolutely hateful cunt.  The characters are SO well observed that they may as well have been making a reality TV series.

In my top (bottom?) 5 disappointing TV things of all time, and in my top (bottom?) 10 worst comedy series of all time.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #100 on: September 05, 2019, 01:09:42 AM »
The main reason for hating it so much - and this is, oddly, a massive compliment to the writing, directing and acting - is that every single character in it is, at best, infinitely right-in-the-tits punchable, at worst an absolutely hateful cunt.  The characters are SO well observed that they may as well have been making a reality TV series.

You might have hit on the problem. The whole tone is the same as reality TV, but it's scripted and not as wild. In a lot of reality shows, you're not supposed to like the people, but slag them off to your friends as you watch. The characters in Nathan Barley aren't cartoonish enough to be reality TV contestants, and they aren't real enough to hit some deeper level. They're just too stupid to be real.

It's interesting to me to compare NB to The Thick of It. Both shows are relentlessly cynical and loved by the people they satirise. But only the Thick of It manages to be both funny and have real-feeling, grounded characters. Basically Nathan Barley is if every character had the same character inconsistency as Glenn, but were changing over the space of an episode as opposed to a series or two.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #101 on: September 05, 2019, 01:12:50 AM »
Re-reading back what I wrote, it's not even true, as Dan Ashcroft is a properly observed and (mainly) consistent and believable character. There just aren't enough of them, I guess. It would be like if every character in The Thick of it was one dimensional and stupid because politicians are all stupid, yeah?

I'm aware that I'm rambling.

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #102 on: September 05, 2019, 04:09:25 AM »
I haven't watched through NB yet but as an outsider the discussions of Nathan being both partly redeemable and an utter shit-cunt make him seem like an almost worryingly realistically grey person to me. I've known plenty of cunts that have been, all told, heinous cunts, but they've done one or two relatively decent acts every now and then to save their own skins or for selfish purposes and ended up looking like a martyr to those around them, making them only definable as 'grey' even if on a daily basis they'd gladly kick a toddler infront of a juggernaut for standing on their TopShop voucher.

Whether or not this is intentional (and a good thing) is up to those of you who've seen NB I suppose. It's my next series to watch.

Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #103 on: September 05, 2019, 04:34:42 AM »
A friend and I were discussing NB the other day.  Both of us lived in the East End during the '00s, and are in full agreement that it's essentially a documentary about the Shoreditch twats we spent much of our time trying to avoid.  And we both love it.

a duncandisorderly

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Re: Nathan Barley: a reappraisal
« Reply #104 on: September 05, 2019, 09:32:43 AM »
an interesting perspective I've not seen taken by the critics (here or in the media) is to compare nick burns' performance as NB (which the actor brings a lot to, in terms of expressions, nuances that one senses may have been conveyed from the writers on set rather than in the script) & his role in "absolute power", a sort of parallel universe career for the same character.