The Strop is a place to whet your appetite for damn good stories. Check back every Friday for our latest recommendations.
1. The History of the Muppet Show, Defunctland
Defunctland is a YouTube channel, hosted by Kevin Perjurer, that produces content detailing the history of “defunct” theme park rides and attractions. The channel also has a secondary series called DefunctTV, which takes a deep dive into the history of now-canceled television programming — most often shows aimed at kids from the ’80s and ’90s. Perjurer’s recent six-part series goes through the entire history of Jim Henson’s career and the creation of The Muppets up to Jim Henson’s death in 1990. What the viewer is left with is a heartfelt, intimate detailing of Henson’s life, ambitions, failures, and impact on the world, alongside the many iterations of The Muppets. All episodes are available on Defunctland’s YouTube channel. – Daniel Mazzacane
2. Cayleigh Elise
Cayleigh Elise’s YouTube channel is all about a passionate woman digging up the past and bringing cold cases into a modern and (hopefully) fresher light — as well as playing horror video games and telling scary stories on the side. Elise’s Dark Matters and Nameless series have a sense of dread that pulls the curious and morbid viewer in, but with the added treat of a well-researched topic and a heartfelt person doing the reporting. She is also one of the kindest and gentlest people on the planet, and seeing how she handles particular cases can be very emotional and heart-wrenching. What’s more is that the comment section of nearly every single video is filled with added discussion as people trade theories back and forth, as well as share a sense of hope. That is probably one of the best reasons to come back to a video, as there are sometimes updates on a case — including when a murder has been solved. – S.N. Valadez
3. Eat the Menu, The Try Guys
Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that this is high cinema or documentary in the performative mode. But something about the Try Guys’ Eat the Menu series, in which Keith Habersberger literally eats every menu item from popular fast food chains, is enthralling, and it’s because each episode is truly about Habersberger’s slow descent into madness. In Poetics, Aristotle argues that the hero of a tragedy must evoke a sense of pity or fear within the audience. Habersberger is our tragic hero because we already know he is going to succumb to the effects, the unforgiving onslaught, and the banalities of excessive fast food. In the first episode, “Keith Eats Everything At Taco Bell,” he uses a bucket to separate items that taste virtually identical — and as he unwraps an endless stream of crunchy tacos, chalupas, and burritos, we pity Habersberger because we already know almost all of them are going into the bucket. At one point about halfway through the video, he spreads his hands out on the table and says, “I feel like I don’t want to eat any more Taco Bell” — and yet he keeps going, because that is his fate. His hubris is his downfall. His nemesis is the chalupa. Each video has millions of views, and maybe it’s because Habersberger’s downfall speaks to the secret hedonistic desires of his audience — the knowledge that we shouldn’t eat everything on the menu, but what would happen if we did? “I hope I don’t die. I hope I Live Mas,” Habersberger says. Same, friend. Same. – Rebecca Paredes