Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.
The Well-Timed: The Stand
How ironic that two major streaming events of the past few months would concern a global pandemic? Both It’s a Sin and The Stand went before the cameras ahead of COVID-19, and both have proven eerily prescient.
In the case of the latter, the horror of the story takes on a new significance. The Stand adapts Stephen King’s magnum opus for the second time, and features an all-star cast of game performers ready to battle for the future of mankind. The plot: a highly-contagious respiratory virus (seriously) spreads around the globe at lightning speed, wiping out 99% of the world’s population in the process. As the few survivors contemplate how to move forward amid the decimation, they begin having dreams of a kindly old woman named Mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg) and a seductive, dark figure called Randal Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård, often naked and sexy as ever). The remaining Americans begin to gather under Abigail’s watch in Boulder, Colorado, and under that of Flagg in Las Vegas. Tensions between the two communities mount, as both sides must make their stand in an epic battle for the future of humanity.
The Stand features first-rate production values and a terrific cast, including Goldberg, Skarsgård, James Marsden, Jovan Adepo, Irene Bedard, Heather Graham, Eion Bailey, Greg Kinnear, Odessa Young and JK Simmons, as well as queer stars Amber Heard and Ezra Miller. The show’s biggest misstep, however, comes in the form of inexplicable time jumps that flash back and forward in the story’s continuity, often robbing it of suspense and making it a tad hard to follow. That said, The Stand still offers plenty of thrills and entertainment as well as standout performances by Owen Teague, Nat Wolf and Goldberg, who does some of her best work in years. Epic if flawed, thrilling if frustrating, we recommend The Stand for its many strengths. Even if it’s something of a missed opportunity, King’s feminist, queer-affirming work (which includes a new epilogue episode penned by the author himself) still managed to seduce us.
Streams on Paramount+.