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You Have to Respect Chris Pratt for Flexing on the Critics of 'The Terminal List' Now That It's a Gigantic Hit

I have a certain reputation among my beloved movie geek friends for having a high level of appreciation for war and war-adjacent films. Not just the obvious megahits like Top Gun: Maverick, which any sentient being can, and does, love. But anything military. Like when Tom Hanks' Greyhound hit streaming, one buddy of mine said it sounds like it was created by an AI algorithm to appeal specifically to me. Which it did.  Maybe stemming from the fact that I was raised by a WWII vet and my most vivid memories of the man are sitting on his lap while he told me stories of his time stationed on an aircraft carrier. But whatever, when it comes to what I watch, I have a type. 

With that, I thought I'd like The Terminal List. The Irish Rose (also raised by a vet, who served in Patton's 3rd Army infantry and was telling her his stories while young me was listening to my dad's) and I watched it pretty much straight through once it landed on Amazon. We liked it for the most part. We didn't love it. Like virtually every show on streaming, it's about 30-50% longer than it should be. The script watered down to fill 10 episodes like a kid adding all sorts of unnecessary filler to get to the minimum 500 words on his book report. You can pretty much write the whole story arc before the end of the first episode. She surmised the surprise villain long before the Big Reveal. But it was well made and well acted and the kind of story they don't tell as much as they used to, with a revenge plot and shady bad actors in the government and a little bit of John Rambo action sequences. So worth the watch. 


But because everything now is terrible, this little limited series adaptation of a novel (I didn't read) has to be put in its place. And that place has to be on the front lines of the culture war. It's yet another piece of entertainment that was torched by critics but beloved by the viewers:

Daily Mail - Woke critics who panned Chris Pratt's new thriller series 'The Terminal List' were left red-cheeked this week as it leapfrogged other shows to place No. 2 on list of America's most-streamed shows. 

'The Terminal List,' which  stars Pratt as a US Navy Seal, racked up a whopping 1.6 billion minutes of streaming on Amazon Prime during the July 4-10 window, which marked the series' first full week on the service after premiering on July 1. 

While the show has been a hit with fans, critics showed disdain for the exciting military series.

They included The Hollywood Reporter writer Daniel Fienberg, who called it 'the entertainment equivalent of a charred hockey puck, with the same limited range of flavor and aesthetics.'

But the reaction from people who watched the series couldn't have been more different, with several viewers calling the show 'great' and 'excellent,' while another noted 'critics as usual got this one wrong.'

Rotten Tomatoes, a website used to rate movies via critic and audience reviews, showed a poor rating of 40/100 among critics, but a startling 94/100 from viewers. 

Good gravy, are these battles over "woke" or "anti-woke" content getting exhausting. So the critics hated it, but the fans love it. The same thing could be said about Tommy Boy. But I don't remember sociopolitical arguments debates raging about the "Fat Guy in a Little Coat" scene's place in the national zeitgeist or whether David Spade's masturbation scene was written to stick it to the elites. But that's where we are. 

So while I think this is largely a bullshit argument, there is something to it. I'm not saying anyone in their right mind would watch a thing they're really not enjoying just to "own the libs." At least I don't think. I can't imagine anyone consuming 10-plus hours of television out of a sense of duty to a cause. Just to upset some Harvard professor with 10 Town of Brookline dump stickers on her Prius or whatever. 

But I do think there's an appetite for the kind of entertainment the industry used to churn out in massive amounts. There's a limit to how many movies or shows you can watch where the main protagonist is a stunningly brave young female striking a blow for empowerment against the patriarchy so we can say "YASSS QUEEN!!!" from our sustainable, non-toxic sofas. 

Sometimes - and I say this with some trepidation because it might get me in trouble - we're not looking for a ...  Message. Sometimes we just like to see men blow shit the fuck up. Masculine, stoic, tough, testosterone-filled, rage-fueled manly men, fighting for a just cause. Protecting the innocent. Stopping the bad guys. Turning injustice into some form of rough justice. Making sense of a world gone mad.  Morally unambiguous. Giving a difficult mission, but overcoming their fear out of a sense of obligation or duty. Even, dare I say it, patriotism. Even sometimes to their own death. 

That is why I think The Terminal List is as popular as it is. Not because it's Band of Brothers. Not by a damned sight. That's arguably (by me) the best miniseries ever created. But there's a hunger for shows about heroes doing heroic things. The real, grounded kind. Whose superpower are things like courage and valor. And Hollywood is producing less of that all the time. So when they do, it's going to resonate with people who value those qualities. Which Chris Pratt and the filmmakers produced, flawed though it may be. 

So I respect the hell out of Pratt spiking the football as he broke the plane of this gigantic hit the critics savaged:


I for one hope it makes them billions, so we get more of this type of content. Money talks. So does 1.6 billion minutes of streaming.