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Monday, August 30, 2010

The Inevitable Disappointment

I've realized that what's even worse than Bryan Cranston beating Jon Hamm for the third year in a row is that Emmy voters simply have no taste. In fact, the only major awards I think they got right were the Emmys given to Jane Lynch and Mad Men.

It always sucks when there's a category (Best Supporting Actor in a Drama, por ejemplo) where 5 of the nominees are so good I can't decide which one deserves it and the remaining one is lame...and wins it. Michael Emerson, Terry O'Quinn, John Slattery, Martin were robbed. Not to mention that Christina Hendricks and Elizabeth Moss lost to a woman who quite clearly stated, "This is great for my career" in her speech. No shit, dude. Now go do something worthwhile.

Fuck The Good Wife. I hate the title, I hate the subject, and I hate that it captivates all of the elderly and unimaginative Emmy voters. And while we're at it, fuck The Closer even harder. How cunty was it when Kyra Sedgwick made Tina Fey hold her Emmy while she gave her speech? I have always hated Kyra Sedgwick, but that just cemented it. God, what an awful thing to do. Tina, I love you. I'll give you an Emmy.

I'm glad that NPH won for the Tonys because clearly no one is ever going to give him or Steve Carell any of the love they so truly deserve.

And we're just going to forget everything that Jimmy Fallon said - let's just remember what he sang. Dude has seriously surprised me at actually being really good on Late Night, but the writing on the show last night was so bad there was no way he was gonna pull it off. Thank god for John Hodgeman.

The opening, however, was brilliant. They should all get Emmys just for that, including Tim Gunn and Randy Jackson (I'm not an Idol fan by any means, but it was awesome to see him actually up there totally shredding on the guitar), but we can leave out Kate Gosselin and that unrecognizable brunette who jumped in at the last minute. And can someone please make me a gif of John Hamm shimmying and then backing it up? And one of Jorge singing? I need that hotness multiple times a day, man.

In other news, once Jorge Garcia and John Hamm and Joel McHale form a band, my life will be complete. Seriously, guys...I would pay a lot of money to see that. Maybe all my money. Ever. So...get on it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And now please welcome once again to the stage...The Primetime Emmys!

It's time, kids. It's time to talk about the Emmys.

Now, I don't have a problem with the Emmys themselves, per se. Of course it makes sense for the medium of television to have its own awards show. The problem is that I don't think anyone really thought it through enough to realize that awards for television might need to be structured a little differently than those for movies or music.

Because what ends up happening is this: An actor lands a role on a show. The actor is nominated by Emmy (or Golden Globe, they have the same problem) voters. The actor wins an Emmy. And then next year, when that actor is nominated for playing the exact same role and wins again, no one says boo. I'm sorry, but even stellar actors like Alec Baldwin get stuck in this trope. No doubt that he's brilliant on 30 Rock, but there is so much good work being done on TV these days and this awards show-rut continuously rewards the same people. Like effing Tony Shaloub. Did anyone know that Monk was even still on the air? Tony Shaloub and Monk are like, the U2 of television: you don't know anyone who really likes them, yet they continue to be rewarded by their own industry (seriously, Rolling Stone: no one cares about U2. stop sucking Bono's dick and give me some more Matt Taibi and Rob Sheffield, because that's all I read anymore). Anyway, my point is that I really feel like there needs to be a rule where an actor can only win once for a particular role. I don't think it applies to the shows themselves; a show can be very different from season to season. But especially in comedies...god, I was so angry when that awful old man from Everybody Loves Raymond won over and over again, even after he died. Well, I was pretty angry when anything from ELR won at all, but that's just because I have good taste.

Seriously, though. Alec, Tina, Jon Hamm...I love you guys. You're amazing actors and you deserve the Emmys you already have. But I also love NPH and Jorge Garcia and Rainn Wilson and Jane Lynch and Zach Galifianakis and Nathan Fillion and Justin Kirk...just to name a few. And I think they deserve some recognition for the incredible work they do.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Point Of This Post Is That Martin Short Is Hilarious.

I recently watched Christopher Guest's first film as a writer/director, The Big Picture. Anyone who has any interest in the Hollywood scene should really watch it, it's a hilarious look at the ways the machine takes you in, grinds you up, and spits you out.

Plus, it led me to discover Martin Short in a role that rivals The Piv's Ari Gold. Unfortunately they don't have my favorite scene of his up on YouTube, but this one is still pretty good. And you should really just go watch the whole movie (it's on Netflix instant) because even though I hate Kevin Bacon and Teri Hatcher it's still totally awesome. And Michael McKean is so cute with his 80's beard and swishy hair.

Seriously though, Martin Short. Is awesome. Now, I loved Hamlet 2 as much as the next girl, but I'm still not entirely convinced that the whole concept isn't ripped off from Martin Short in Get Over It, one of the most highly underrated & unknown movies from the early '00s. It has Sisqo in it! And Vitamin C singing Captain and Tenille! And Shane West as a boy band member with a fake accent! And a musical version of A Midsummer Night's Dream! If you need more from a movie than that, I can't help you.

Anyway, check out Mr. Short (and Ben Foster) being utterly hilarious in this clip, and then go watch both of these movies. You can thank me when you're not so full with laughter and nostalgia.

"Projectioooooooooooooooooon, Mr Burke!"

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One More Reason Why Dawson's Creek Is Awesome:

Jane Lynch is Pacey's Mom. Like, for realsies. In this scene she's about to serve chipped beef on toast for Pacey's birthday, which she always forgets is actually Dougie's favorite. I'm betting you stopped paying attention about the time I said "chipped beef on toast", because that is one of those foods that always gets me thinking, "Why?"

anyway, I gotta say she's pretty funny, even in her limited role. And it's a good episode, except for the barfable Isabella Star Fairy story and Dawson and Gretchen making out in the basement. oops, sorry if i ruined it for you.

BTDubs, Pacey's Dad is the Chief on Cold Case, but that's not as exciting.

Images via People,

Shades Of Grey And Mad Men's Moral Ambiguities

After spending the last week or so re-watching the first three seasons of Mad Men, something about the characterizations really struck me. Unlike 95% of all other television, the characters on Mad Men live in a world where doing a bad thing doesn't necessarily mean you're a bad person...meaning they live in the same world as the rest of us.

Let's talk for a little about Pete Campbell, Greg Harris, and then we'll get on to Don and Betty Draper.
Pete was introduced as a man you love to hate. He's short-sighted, narcissistic, greedy, full of hubris, and most of all, entitled. He does some things that we (the audience) think of as cruel, but shows strength of character through his relations with Trudy, his progressive and positive views on race and integration, and his eventual ability to have a respectful, appreciative, and collaborative relationship with Peggy Olsen. In the 3rd season episode, Souvenir, we see Pete missing his wife, and coming upon an opportunity to do a nice favor for a poor German au pair. He's quite the gentlemen, right up until he shows up drunk and pretty much saying that she owes him some use of her body in return for his magnanimous favor. She does kiss him back, but later we learn that she's been crying all day because he forced himself on her.

In this day and age, as a twentysomething feminist, I'm conditioned to believe that rape is never ok. But we live in a world that purports to educate its young men on these things (although whether or not it actually does is unclear) - and Mad Men takes place in a world where men were expected and encouraged to go after what they wanted. Of course, what Pete does to the au pair is not ok. We, the 21st century audience, know that. But I have to admit that I didn't hate him after this episode. Pete finds redemption when his wife returns and you can see how pained he is that he got drunk and weak and fucked somebody else. He doesn't even need to say anything and she knows - that's how in sync they are. The next day, his apology is both typically-60s-male yet also very sweet: he tells her, "I don't want you to go away without me. Ever." while he is somewhat placing the blame for his indiscretion on her absence, he's also acknowledging his own weakness and promising to never put himself in a position where he can hurt her again. I know I said earlier that I keep hoping for Pete and Peggy to have a torrid affair, but it is more clear to me than ever how perfect Pete and Trudy are together. More than perhaps any other couple on the show, they are honest with each other and accept each other for themselves - because a good marriage has got give some room for people to make mistakes.

Moving on to Greg Harris, the more famous Mad Men rapist. Because he raped Joan, people, and that isn't as easily forgivable.

That scene in Don's office is so painful, because it demonstrates something that I'm sure happened a lot back then - men taking what they wanted, because they wanted it. Men slut-shaming their wives/girlfriends and using their sexuality as justification to be sexually aggressive. I think Dr. Harris is incidental to this scene - he represents a larger problem, not only in society but also in the relationship with Joan. He wants to to be able to give her what she wants on his own terms, but is ultimately unable to. In later scenes, we see that he truly does love and value her, but that their relationship is always doomed because neither is able to live up to the others' high expectations.

He probably is going to go die in Vietnam, but I no longer think he's a terrible person (and I hope he gives Joanie a baby first!).  He tried to be a good husband, and failed, but if Joan can forgive him, then so can I. Now, if that had happened in 2010, I'm sure she would have kicked him to the curb after kneeing him in the balls and fleeing and perhaps calling the cops and then putting "Greg Harris is a skeezy turd" on Facebook - but we can't apply modern social mores to these situations, it simply doesn't make sense. We have to be more forgiving, and look at the characters as nuanced and complex and fallible human beings, not representations of good or evil.

As I went from episode to episode, I wondered: what makes me able to understand and forgive Don's lying, philandering and occasional cruelty? And the answer is that he is a good man (no matter what Allison says). I can see that in his passions and his instincts and in the way he opened himself to everyone in the Season 3 finale. He is a good father (well, as good as he can be, given the circumstances). He lies about his past because he's afraid of losing the life he's built...and how do you explain something like that to a spoiled Mainline brat? He cheated on Betty because, well, he's fucked up and she's terrible...and he probably shouldn't have married Betty in the first place. In trying to create this life for himself, it seems he bought in to what society (and advertising) was telling him he needed: a perfect blonde housewife, two kids, house in the suburbs, etc. I doubt that Don Draper has ever asked himself what he really, truly wants because half of his problems come from trying to fit himself into a life that doesn't fit him.

He really is a good father. I cried last night watching the scene where they tell Bobby and Sally about the divorce - Sally asks her mother, "Did you make him leave?" and I want to scream YES OF COURSE THIS IS ALL HER FAULT. Because it is so heartbreaking to see Don, in the days after The Shoebox Conversation, look at Betty like she really knows him and loves him - and all the while she's plotting her escape route. You can see that he's relieved that he doesn't have to hide himself any more - and he's shocked when she rejects him. Don's ultimate motivation is to be loved for who he really is, whatever his name or his past. Betty holds that hope up to the sun and then crushes it underfoot.

This is because Betty is a horrible succubus. Every time I think i'm starting to feel sorry for her - as she goes through the birthing scene in The Fog, for example - she turns around and does something awful - naming her child after her father who died like, three weeks ago and whom her husband hated, for example. Betty, as has been noted many times before, is a child. Everything about her is childish and ultimately selfish. She is, like her "friend" Sara Beth says, "a horrible woman". And she is just a terrible fucking mother. Like, the worst mother ever. That, ultimately, is why Don ends up on higher moral ground then she does - her reaction to Sally regarding Gene Sr.'s death makes me want to slap her face. And yes, I know that things were tough for women and housewives in the 60's - but even my grandma, who could be a bitter and often difficult mother, did better than Betty. Though she occasionally does something right, it's never enough to push her character into gray ambiguity. Sorry, Betty Draper Francis, but if we're looking at black and white and are definitely in the black.

See? There are reasons to tune in besides all the pretty clothes and places and people. Mad Men (through the writing, acting, and directing) gives the audience complex and intimate moments with its characters and trusts us to makes the connections ourselves. I feel like television often assumes its viewer is stupid and needs gentle hand-holding through the story - Mad Men knows that the opposite is true.

I'm really looking forward to things continuing to develop over this season, but I hope they give Don a little hope. He's definitely stuck in The Swamps of Sadness (and bourbon) right now, but he's got to leave the past and Artax behind and save himself. And while he's at it, he should get a house and save those kids from the succubus. And BTW, what the hell is going on with Baby Gene? He's Don's baby, we all know that - is he going to be raised as Henry's?

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Betty is the worst.

Images via NYMag,, Daily Mail

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bloggers Aren't Always Right: Entourage

so, after that post on Entourage, i've kept watching the show. and, i have to say, i was surprised enough by it that i felt the need to write this little...well, it's not really a retraction, i'll just call a takesies-backsies. in fact, i think i'm going to start a series called BAAR: Bloggers Aren't Always Right just for these occasions where i form an opinion and then find evidence to contradict it. it happens often enough, and i like to keep an open mind.

well, at least partly. everything i wrote about guest stars and hating Eric and Drama and Adrian Grenier's hair and Turtle losing weight...that still stands. but i wanted to go back and talk a little more about the character of Ari Gold and about the presence of female characters on the show.

first, the wimins. historically on Entourage, women have only existed in relation to the main male characters. fans, starfuckers, starlets, girlfriends, ex-girlfriends, wives, studio execs, publicists...basically as tools the men use to achieve their needs and desires. the women who did have power (Ari's wife; Ari's partner, Barbara; Vince's publicist Shauna played by Debi Mazar; rival agent Amanda Daniels; Dana the studio head) were generally portrayed as one-dimensional bitches and/or shrews.

now, with this new season, we have some actual women development going. first, there's Ari's wife, who has some actual agency and is shown to not only love her husband but also stays on top of his shit. next, there's Sasha Grey. while the version of herself she plays may be a bad influence on Vince, the ideas she espouses in relation to sexuality and society are really spot on. it's nice to have a smart, sexy woman be taken seriously on this show.

we will not discuss Alex. i still hate her.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

You Can't Make Me Love Gossip Girl If I Won't

First, watch this:

(It's ok, you can laugh. In fact, laughing is encouraged.)

So, there's that. What stands out to me most about this video (besides his white turtleneck of which I had a similar one in 3rd grade and his repeated need to stick his tongue blowjobily into the corner of his mouth...and his terrible, terrible hair and his terrible, terrible, seizure-like singing) is that it says to me that Penn Badgley takes himself seriously. And if Penn Badgley takes himself seriously...then he must take Dan Humphrey seriously as well. And, you know, just typing those two names together made me realize how similar they are. Honestly, this video could be a Funny or Die parody of Dan Humphrey doing a pretentious interview after his novel gets hugely popular or something equally implausible....but it's not. It's Penn Badgley, talking about why he's this amazing Renaissance man (and pretty much just trying to get women to sleep with him). Penn Badgley is just Dan Humphrey with a better wardrobe and more name recognition (but only slightly more - for the longest time I thought Blake Lively was Penn Badgley and vice-versa).

I've never been a huge fan of Gossip Girl. I started watching it towards the end of the first season because I was stuck at home sick for a weekend and was avoiding writing my thesis. I was unimpressed. As a hardcore Dawson's Creek fan, I felt like Gossip Girl represented a lot of things I didn't like about the younger generation: the obsession with celebrity and notoriety through sexuality, power, money, overpriced status clothes, and texting. It lacked the honesty, the self-aware campiness, and the bare emotions of The Creek. And the editing was awful.

Things haven't gotten any better.

Now, I love me some Chuck and Blair. They're pretty much the only reason I've continued watching the show, and that's because I'm a sucker for Ed Westwick and a star-crossed lovers story. But even Chuck and Blair have become dull and staid. The (laughably bad) writers shot their collective wad too quickly - and then over and over and over again. Any sensible plotlines were used up long ago, and now they insist on making complex mysteries about things that no one cares about. Serena's dad? Snooze. Jenny not-doing drugs, not-having sex, and being unbearable? Double snooze. Anything involving Dan Humphrey and Vanessa lying to each other in order to not hurt each other's feelings? Double VOM. And god, Dawson's Creek, How I Met Your Mother and even Friends handled the inevitable incestuousness of a small ensemble cast miles better than Gossip Girl. They had a sense of humor when necessary yet hurting people and betrayal had real, continued, tangible consequences; on Gossip Girl something that is a huge deal one episode is NBD the next, and then all of a sudden something from the past will come back and be a huge deal again. I really just don't have the energy to care anymore.

And FOR PITY'S SAKE, enough already with every fucking episode having a party/gathering/gala/wedding/French ambassador thingy/traditional Roman Bacchanalia where every character shows up, invited or no. The writers are clearly atrocious, unoriginal failures and should be fired. Or maybe, since this whole thing seems to have started with the creators of the show, they should just stop making fucking Gossip Girl. The clothes aren't that great anyhow...certainly not enough to distract from the swirling vortex of mind-numbing stupidity that is plot, script, and character development.

In other news (and by news, I mean well-researched personal opinion), Penn Badgley is clearly an atrocious, unoriginal failure and should be fired from being Penn Badgley.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Entourage knows we know they know we know

every time i think of Entourage, i think of this:

sometimes i even say it out loud.

i've watched Entourage since the beginning, and it was with the last season that i really started to realize that the show doesn't particularly interest me. here is a graph that illustrates my feelings about Entourage over time:

i've really just begun to realize how much of a safe place Entourage is for Hollywood to make fun of itself. after PaceyCon and Eva Mendes' SEX Tape, the differences between the kind of self-mocking they do on sites like FunnyOrDie and the kind that they do on this highly produced (and lauded) HBO series became really clear to me. the guest stars on Entourage are clearly playing characters that are not themselves. although you'll see them referencing their past work and possibly even trashing it, the celebrities who guest on Entourage are written to be so overblown that they become ludicrous and thus unbelievable (except, perhaps, Gary Busey, bless his crazy little heart). they are also clearly still a part of the Hollywood machine...and some of them are such bad actors that it's painfully clear they're playing a role (i'm looking at you, Mary).

but the Funny Or Die skits refer to the celebrities' pasts as a real part of who they are, even though the person they present is still obviously not a straight-up representation of who they are. and because it's presented in a medium that isn't controlled by Hollywood or aimed at making money (beyond self-promotion), it's straight-up funnier. and more real. and really...funnier.

just look at the difference between these two examples of actors mocking themselves and making references to their past, and think about they way that each video makes you relate to the actor.

Bob Saget:

James Franco:

to me, James Franco's introduction with the clips of his on-screen crying supports the version of himself that he's playing (and mocking) in the movie. on the other hand, Bob Saget's comment about doing drugs in the 90's either rings true...or gross. honestly, i don't want to hear how fucked up you possibly were around all those kids. and i don't really believe that you were. and the Hollywood whorehouse brings up a whole other set of issues.

Entourage espouses to give us something that Americans have proven they love: a glimpse into the magical and mysterious lives of the rich and famous. this is what it's like to go to Sundance! this is what it's like to get the most exclusive sneakers! this is what it's like to fuck any starlet you want! but at this point, a lot of it feels like the rich people tooting their own horn. i don't care if there are whorehouses hidden in Hollywood and auctions where famous athletes will sell you their dinosaur skull. i'm sure there are. i just don't care about them. i'm tired of the most celebrated thing in this country being a lifestyle that is, simply put, wasteful.

so, it's refreshing to me when celebrities go low-budg, unserious, and celebrate the fact that their fans may love them for a less-than critically acclaimed piece of work. and in the age of the Internet, fans are constantly seeking out something that will tell them more about their favorite celebs. this way, the celebrities can put an honest and light-hearted piece of themselves out there without revealing too much.


Entouraaaage! bringing the focus back to the show, i'd like to direct your attention back to the graph i made. after making that graph, and writing some more, and leaving to go to a play and coming home and sleeping and then getting up to finish this post, i went searching for some images and learned that the show is now in it's seventh season. god, no wonder it's getting stale. i honestly thought we were on season 5, maybe 6. so, you know...adjust the graph accordingly, 'cause i'm too lazy to do it and it's hard to edit in MS Paint.

by this time, the relatively flat characters are already so developed that there's nowhere for
them to go from here. they're trying to give Grenier a bad-boy phase right now, but shaving
your head and doing a Cassavetes stunt and jumping out of an airplane and fucking Sasha Grey do not impress me. except for maybe that last one. seriously, they shaved his head! WTF? everyone knows the hottest part about him is his hair. gimme more of this ---->

and less of this:

Drama is ugly, annoying, and repetitive. Eric is a whiny bitch and i hate that i'm supposed to care about him. and Turtle, my lovely little Turtle, lost just enough weight to make me sad and is trying to fuck that Latina actress who is totally an Emily Valentine. there is really nothing exciting going on in the show; the characters don't learn anything or grow in any way. and maybe that's Hollywood...but it's also boring.

this brings us to Ari. you know, i hopped on the Ari train along with everyone else when Entourage came out. he was an honest and funny character. but now his stunts have gotten so overblown - they gave him too much power, and now it'm bored. and i am so unimpressed with the "bitches teaming up to get Ari 'cause they're bitches" storyline. i might be a little more forgiving if the show had a single positive female character, but i hate Sloane and though i love Debi Mazar and Ari's hot wife i'm not sure they count. Ari is most entertaining when he's in the trenches with Lloyd, trying to get shit done. and there's not enough Lloyd anymore!

ultimately, my problem with Ari comes down to this: i realized at the beginning of this season that the reason why Hollywood folk and the Emmys & whatnot love Ari Gold/Jeremy Piven is because he basically does an overblown and hilarious impersonation of their agents. those of us plebes who don't have agents don't understand why The Piv continues to get awards for playing a flat, static character...and i think it's because Hollywood loves to congratulate its own narcissism. all these actors can mock agents and the Hollywood process, which must feel liberating when you're stuck so hard in it. but what it comes down to is that Piven's performance, while convincing and funny, has zero depth. and i get really angry when original and talented actors get passed over come awards season in favor of more masturbatory statues being flung at Entourage.

(the way i feel about actors winning awards for playing the same roles year after year when the role doesn't markedly change is the subject of a whole other post.)

to sum up: Entourage has gotten stale. there's that line in the (irritating, interminable) theme song that goes, "you know i need you desperately"...and the answer to that is yes. i do know you need me, and i know you know i know. the problem is, you haven't convinced me to stick around, bros. after seven (god, i still can't believe it's been seven) years, it might be time to kick this toxic relationship to the curb and move on to something newer, fresher, and funnier.

sorry, boys. it's not me, it's you.