The ‘She-Hulk’ Special Effects Are an Uncanny-Valley Nightmare

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Disney+
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Disney+

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

This week:

Why Did They Have to Do She-Hulk So Dirty?

It’s never fun when your truth presents as a parody of yourself. But here I am, the person claiming that The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills produced masterpiece television, about to dump on a Marvel project, like a total cliché.

I’m the dog that sits at your feet during every meal, begging for a treat even though you’ve never once given him food. Foolishness, or optimism? Maybe this time, things will be different. There’s no fun in not enjoying the most popular entertainment enterprise there’s ever been. It’s why I hope every time—like that dog—that the next big franchise release is going to be one that surprises, that changes it all for me.

She-Hulk: Attorney-at-Law is not that release.

My colleague Coleman Spilde has the virtuoso distillation of everything that is wrong with this fetid dumpster juice of a show. I wouldn’t call it a takedown, because that insinuates bad faith or an agenda. We’re people who have to watch a lot of TV. We want it to be good! The review is a reasoned explanation of how nearly every element of the series is a misfire. (You may watch and have a different opinion. That’d be confusing, but totally fine! Enjoy what you enjoy!)

The piece of the rotting puzzle that I’d like to single out is the visual effects. If you’re going to give me yet another Marvel project, roughly the 53rd this month, you should at least live up to the Marvel brand: The special effects should be good. In She-Hulk, oh boy, are they not.

In the series, Tatiana Maslany’s character, Jennifer, acquires the same powers her cousin Bruce Banner, The Hulk, has. That means she occasionally transforms into a bulging-muscles, 6-foot-7, green lady Hulk. Critics of the series have used the term “uncanny valley” to describe how bad the effects are here. In pop culture, it’s come to mean CGI work on characters that resemble something realistic and almost human—but is just off in a way that takes you out of the narrative, and, frankly, can be quite unsettling.

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Have you ever seen Madame Tussaud’s display of wax figures of Beyoncé with the Royal Family? It’s kind of like that.

There are fair questions here: Why even make a series that would require such intensive CGI, if it wasn’t possible to pull them off? What is it about Maslany’s Hulk likeness that is so nightmarish? And, on top of everything else that’s wrong, why does Hulk Maslany have such bad hair?

Like with any Marvel project, those criticizing it have been targeted by angry fans incapable of processing any fault-finding in a series or movie. But there’s a video that’s gone viral illustrating the wonky CG and cringe tone of She-Hulk, and it’s proving a lot of these points. (Watch it here.)

Sending the Casting Gods a Fruit Basket for This

Sex Education is one of the most delightlful, deceptively progressive, tendert, and undersung TV series. Watching each season feels like laying under a weighted blanket with a warm tea. Well, this show is a little spicy. Maybe it’s a hot toddy.

Sensational news came out Friday that the series is currently filming its fourth season, and, as if it wasn’t already peak comfort viewing, the pandemic streaming era’s undisputed king of that genre has joined on: Schitt’s Creek star and mastermind Dan Levy. He’s playing a famous author who works at an Ivy college, where he tutors Maeve (Emma Mackey).

<div class="inline-image__credit">Thomas Wood</div>
Thomas Wood

Most importantly, following in the grand tradition of every single character on Sex Education, I very much would like to have his entire wardrobe. He’s living the cardigan-sweater life of my dreams.

It’s so tempting to be snarky about everything these days. For proof of just how immune Sex Education and Dan Levy are to that, here’s a little peek behind the curtain at The Daily Beast entertainment team’s reaction to this casting:

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I Need to Know Every Detail About These Things

Two monumental celebrity interactions happened this week, and I’m going to need an in-depth oral history on both. Perhaps a series of tell-all books. At least two ABC News specials, and absolutely a Ryan Murphy series. Someone check if Sarah Paulson is available.

First came this report that Jennifer Lopez took Ben Affleck’s kids to see the Broadway revival of Into the Woods (perfect show; I cried for the entire last 20 minutes, without stopping) but arrived late.

It’s unclear whether this was diva lateness or purposeful to avoid awkwardness while sitting with the plebeians waiting for the curtain to rise. Either way, J. Lo arriving in a crowded theater did still cause quite the to-do among the audience—except with Patti LuPone, who, according to the report, was sitting three rows in front and “seemed militantly unimpressed by the spectacle.”

Strike the Ryan Murphy series. I just want Patti LuPone on Watch What Happens Live to talk about this.

Then there’s this tweet from Cher about hanging out with Tina Turner recently:

<div class="inline-image__credit">Twitter</div>

As a nation in turmoil, I feel that we’re owed a detailed transcript of their conversation, as well as a photo of this Buddha.

It’s Been a Big Week for The Daily Beast’s Obsessed!

<div class="inline-image__credit">Illustration by The Daily Beast</div>
Illustration by The Daily Beast

By now, I believe you’ve noticed the arrival of our beautiful baby, the new Daily Beast’s Obsessed site. (I’m registered at Saks, though gifts of cash are acceptable.) It’s a destination for all the silly, serious, goofy, profound, and just-plain-fun pop-culture coverage that, if you’ve been a reader of The Daily Beast and of this newsletter, I know you’re going to love.

A sampling of our first week of stories: a horny ode to Lee Pace’s hotness; wildly entertaining reviews of She-Hulk and House of the Dragon; a dissection of what the hell was going on in their minds when two Big Brother cast members had sex on pool floats; and interviews with stars ranging from Stranger Things’ Joe Keery to Rhea Pearlman.

Please check it out, and check it out often. It’s been a blast to build this with the entire Daily Beast team. I think it’s really special. And I enjoy being employed, so I would very much like it to be a rousing success.

What to watch this week:

Beast: Idris Elba fights with a lion. Need I say more? (Fri. in theaters)

Bad Sisters: The most heartwarming series about siblings covering up a murder you’ll ever see. (Fri. on Apple TV+)

Everything I Know About Love: It’s like Girls, but British. Which is great, as I love Girls and also the Brits. (Thurs. on Peacock)

What to skip this week:

She-Hulk: Attorney-at-Law: As always, Tatiana Maslany deserves better. (Now on Disney+)

House of the Dragon: You don’t have to watch it. You will! But you don’t have to. (Sun. on HBO)

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