Looking for More Diversity In Your Next Binge-Watch? This Website Can Help

K.C. Bailey/Netflix
K.C. Bailey/Netflix

Hollywood is notorious for telling the stories of white men at the expense of just about everyone else. Despite research that says movies that cast more women and minority actors are actually more profitable than less diverse media options, studies have found that the majority of Hollywood jobs—both in movies and on television—still go to straight, white males.

On the audience side, there is strong demand for diversity in movies and TV. Despite UCLA sociologist Darnell Hunt's contention that “Audiences prefer content that looks like America,” truly diverse storytelling is still a relatively rare find. That’s where Mediaversity comes in. As Motherboard reports, the website rates on-screen entertainment according to how it depicts racial, sexual, and gender diversity—or if it represents it at all.

The site, founded by New York City visual designer Li Lai, looks at the gender, ethnicity, and nationality of a show or film’s creators, as well as if they’re LGBTQ. It grades each piece of entertainment on an A+ to F scale, looking at the quality of the work, the gender breakdown of the characters and their screen time, how people of color are presented, and how queer culture is treated. The reviewers also award bonus points if a film or show highlights a particularly underrepresented group, like seniors or people with disabilities, in a thoughtful way. But while the ratings do cover overall quality, the site is grading with an eye toward the diversity metrics, not toward the kind of reviewing Rotten Tomatoes does.

Mediaversity's homepage shows recent television reviews.
Screenshot via Mediaversity

Your high school’s grade inflation does not apply here: a piece of media doesn’t need straight As to be considered good. An A+ film is “some woke shit,” while a C is “chilling in that inoffensive groove.” A B+ means the creators “nailed it,” even if it didn’t shine in every single category. If a TV show gets an F, meanwhile, that means the reviewer questions how a studio even greenlit the project in the first place.

The reviews tend to be straightforward, giving you a sense of what you’re in for immediately. “Neo Yokio is so obviously a male work with an unapologetic male gaze,” one reviewer wrote. The show gets a D. “The writers of The Good Place prove that you can create ridiculous, exaggerated characters without ever having to reach for flat characterizations or stereotype,” wrote another reviewer of the NBC series, which received an A- rating from the site.

If you’re looking for a new show to watch, you could do worse than scan Mediaversity first, checking out which shows might actually paint a realistic portrait of the world you live in, and which will only present you with the same tired stereotypes.

[h/t Motherboard]

Friends Cast Confirms Reunion Special is Coming to HBO Max

David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston in Friends.
David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston in Friends.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Could we be any more excited? After months of reports that the cast of Friends might be coming together for a reunion of sorts, it looks like it's officially a done deal.

According to Variety, all of the six original actors—Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry, and David Schwimmer—have signed on for an unscripted special from HBO Max. While previous reports claimed each star would likely earn between $3 and $4 million for their appearances, it's now believed their paychecks will be "at least" $2.5 million apiece.

And to make everything even more real, the beloved actors behind the iconic series are personally confirming the news. All six stars took to Instagram quickly after the news dropped to share their excitement. "It's happening," they captioned the posts.

In a statement, HBO Max's chief content officer Kevin Reilly had this to say of the news:

"Guess you could call this the one where they all got back together—we are reuniting with David, Jennifer, Courteney, Matt, Lisa, and Matthew for an HBO Max special that will be programmed alongside the entire Friends library. I became aware of Friends when it was in the very early stages of development and then had the opportunity to work on the series many years later and have delighted in seeing it catch on with viewers generation after generation. It taps into an era when friends—and audiences—gathered together in real time, and we think this reunion special will capture that spirit, uniting original and new fans."

The Friends reunion does not have a release date yet, but HBO Max is debuting this May.

Party Like a Hobbit at Chicago’s Lord of the Rings Pop-Up Bar

Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Gollum and a Ringwraith loom near Bilbo's hobbit hole at Replay Lincoln Park's Lord of the Rings pop-up bar.
Replay Lincoln Park

One does not simply walk into Mordor, but one does simply walk into The Lord of the Rings pop-up bar in Chicago—as long as you’re at least 21 years old, of course.

Replay Lincoln Park, known for elaborate themed pop-ups for Game of Thrones, South Park, and other entertainment franchises, has transformed its premises into a magical reproduction of Middle-earth aptly called “The One Pop-Up to Rule Them All,” open now through March 23.

Inside, you’ll be able to crouch under an outcropping of tangled tree roots while one of the dreaded Nazgûl lurks above you, high-five a grimacing Gollum, and snap photos with all your favorite Lord of the Rings characters.

nazgul at the lord of the rings pop-up bar at chicago's replay lincoln park
The Nazgûl like to party, too.
Replay Lincoln Park

You might want to skip elevenses to make sure you have plenty of room for a Hobbit-approved feast during your visit. The menu, catered by Zizi’s Cafe, features items like Fried Po-tay-toes, Lord of the Wings, Beef Lembas, and Pippen’s Popcorn.

ent replica at chicago's replay lincoln park pop-up bar
Say hello to a friendly Ent while you munch on "Pippen's Popcorn."
Replay Lincoln Park

According to Thrillist, there will be three different counters in the bar, each with its own specialty drinks. Head to The Prancing Pony for a second breakfast shot (maple whiskey, bacon, and orange juice), or take a trip to Minas Tirith to toss back a palantir shot, made of silver tequila and passion fruit purée. If you’re in the mood for a little dark magic, you can trek over to Mordor and try a “my precious” shot, a fusion of dark rum, orange liquor, and Cajun seasoning.

lord of the rings pop-up bar at chicago's replay lincoln park
The Eye of Sauron is watching you order another round of Mordor shots.
Replay Lincoln Park

For those of you who are happy to accompany your Tolkien-obsessed friends to the pop-up but aren’t exactly tickled at the sight of a moss-covered Ent replica yourselves, take heart in this added bonus: Replay Lincoln Park also boasts more than 60 free arcade games and pinball machines.

[h/t Thrillist]

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