an awesome way to watch TV

Thursday, March 24, 2011

"And THAT is Dallas."

Oh man. One after the other, and I haven't even watched the Pulp Fiction episode of Community yet. But I've got to post while it's fresh in my mind, and tomorrow morning I won't have time.

One of the hallmarks of the best episodes of The Office are two or three storylines that all carry through and bring something great to the table in order to create the perfect blend of drawn-out-joke funny, quippy, and emotional. "Garage Sale" handles all three of these elements with the wit and visual dexterity we all know and love, and turns out yet another great segment in The Final Chapter Of Michael Scott. I want to break down all three of the storylines and then we'll deal with the fun squee! stuff at the end.

"Bird Internet"

Just realized that this is my 101st entry on girl glows green. Huzzah! Let us celebrate the moment by talking about tonight's awesome 30 Rock episode, "Plan B". Regular readers will be glad to know that a very similar celebration of last night's super-great Modern Family is on its way, but for the first time I'm gonna post on things out of order because I haven't had time to rewatch Modern Family but I just watched 30 Rock and it blew me away.

Maybe it's because this season has been so lackluster and filled with stuff that just hasn't worked. But last week's foray into reality TV with "Queen Of Jordan" was tons of fun, if not the comedy powerhouse that "Plan B" was. Even with the episode being unfortunately bookended by traditional "Hungry Hungry Liz" jokes, I was seriously impressed by how effortlessly 30 Rock returned to its classic and most hilarious roots.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"I still think about him in the shower"

Guys, I know I've been slacking. But there is a lot going on in my life right now, including a lot of travel, and it's just hard to keep up. Plus there just hasn't been a whole lot of great TV on lately. I don't think that Monday's episode of How I Met Your Mother qualifies as great, but it was noteworthy and I figured I should talk about it.

Some people may wonder where my love for HIMYM went. Well, to be honest, I'm not really sure. Part of it started with the shift of Barney's sexism from funny and tongue-in-cheek to something to be celebrated. Also - racist? The "Vietnamese shame wheel" joke was neither funny nor at all ok on a show where the only people of color are a cab/limo driver and Wayne Brady. And it was made TWICE. Part of it started when they broke up Robin and Barney because Barney got fat and Robin got...tired? Part of it started when Marshall and Lily's storylines got reduced to baby/dead dad. Part of it started when Jennifer Morrison showed up, but I've come to realize that it's not all her fault, although she should really never, ever try to be funny because those stricken eyes of hers are only good for narrowing to judge Doctors Chase and House and/or widening while birthing Captain Kirk in an alternate universe. But it has gotten beyond Jennifer Morrison.

The truth is that HIMYM has lost its edge. When it was a small sitcom struggling for popularity, there was much more envelope-pushing going on and the comedy was fresh. Now that (with the timely death of Two And A Half Men) it's competing with The Big Bang Theory for the title of the most mediocre sitcomy sitcom on CBS, the comedy is much more middle of the road. It's Jay Leno comedy, designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It's lost its intelligence, that unexpected aspect of the show that made you feel like the writers were getting away with putting this edgy comedy on CBS by disguising its jokes with a laugh track. Take the entire premise of the slap bet. Here is a joke that has stretched over multiple seasons, giving the most entertainment payoff to the hardcore fans. Something so weird and unconventional has provided the show with some of its best episodes, and managed to do so without the slapping edging into cruel or violent territory. Great stuff.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Tina Cohen-Loser"

Ok. Glee and me. We're making it work.

Obviously I wasn't going to stop watching, even if last week was the worst episode ever. A girl's gotta have an informed opinion. And I'm glad I didn't, because this week gave us, if not a great episode, certainly the best in a long time.

First, let's get the songs out of the way. The opening number was, properly, something we've heard a thousand times before from Blaine & The Pips. I thought Kurt's "Blackbird" was beautiful, and I totally understand it triggering Blaine's lightbulb moment. One of the best things about a lot of this episode was they not only played to certain cast members' vocal strengths, but the autotuning for the most part took a back seat. Santana's "Trouty Mouth" and Puck's "Big-Ass Heart" brought some nice comedy (Mercedes' "Hell No" had an obnoxious, oft-repeating catch phrase and too clearly showcased that the ONLY storyline she has had this season revolved around tater tots. So. No.), but like, FOR REALSIES, none of these kids could have written (AND ARRANGED, is that jazz band made up of musical leprechauns or some shit that are always available and know every song ever, even ones just written by a dumb-ass high school student? Way to be way serious on "Trouty Mouth". I'm looking at you, drums.) any of these songs in the time allotted, except for the two sung at regionals. We'll get to that.

I want to say that this episode really delivered on something it's been missing for a while: the heartfelt emotions and moments of pure, helplessly un-hip joy. That being said, the really awful shit that the past few episodes hath wrought (a no-fun, psychopathic Sue; a no-fun, man-hating Santana; too much Blaine) was still there in full force. Sue punched a woman for no discernible reason. In the face. To the ground. Like, what? Moving on, there was thank you oh my dear unbelievable lord in the sky only the tiniest amount of Schue this week. The best was Santana telling him to stop touching her. We really all want you to stop touching anybody at all, Mr. Schue. Oh, that reminds me, the worst was Holly Holliday calling him in the middle of effing class to talk about her yoga retreat. Barf. Wait, sorry, the WORST was him then telling his students that the person he was just being gross with on the phone is another teacher. No.

Detroit 1-8-7: More Than Just Crime And Procedure

Usually I don't talk about crime procedurals on here. There's a simple reason for that: they're all basically the same, following very similar formats with very similar characters. The exception is a show like Psych, which isn't really like any other show out there and deals much more with comedy than the drama of the murders they investigate. The other, more personal reason, is that I am a weirdo. Back in, like, 2005, before I got a handle on my anxiety and insomnia, I would fall asleep on the couch watching reruns of Law & Order on USA. A lot. This lead to Law & Order, and SVU and Criminal Intent in particular, becoming a sort of soporific comfort to me. I know all of the character's voices by heart and it gives my brain something predictable to focus on that isn't my own anxious thoughts. Since then (yeah, six years now) my preferred way of falling asleep is with some sort of crime procedural in the background. Some are better than others (Numb3rs, House [totally a crime procedural but with diseases], Without A Trace, any version of L&O) and the CSIs are pretty useless because of their screaming theme songs and the fact that there will be long, stupid interludes when no one says anything because they're using a mass spectrometer or whatever. This doesn't mean I love all CPs - I hate Bones, tried and failed to get into Hawaii 5-0, and can only stand OG CSI (unless I'm drunk, in which case bring on the Horatio Cane!). But it does mean that I'm more willing to give them a chance to be included in my detective-themed lullaby roster than your average television connoisseur.

Last week a friend requested that I write about Damages and Detroit 1-8-7 on here. Now, I love Damages but going back and watching all of those really intense episodes sounds, well, intense. Sounds like a good project for the summer hiatus months. But I figured, hey, here's a crime procedural I haven't seen - at the very least it might be nice to have something new to fall asleep too. I remember hearing about it back at the beginning of premiere season - it didn't get very good reviews, everyone seemed to think it was pretty boilerplate and then dismissed it. But as it turns out, Detroit 1-8-7 is not only a great CP, it's also a show that's good enough to warrant a post from me.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Talkin' 'Bout Bisexuality On The Internets

More complicated than you might think.

So apparently everyone seems to think that "Sexy" was just awesome, especially when it comes to Brittany/Santana. Now, I don't want to get all preachy, but I wanted to explain a little further about my feelings on their relationship. Here are two comments I left on TLo's post on the episode:

After the really terrible handling of the Blaine/Rachel situation in "Blame It On The Alcohol", Glee continues to marginalize the bisexual/queer experience. Santana's character is instantly changed from Equal Opportunity Bitch to Man-Hating Lesbian. There is zero discussion of sexuality as something fluid that can change with time, or as bisexuality being as simple as believing that love is about a person, not necessarily a gender. Maybe I expect too much from Glee, but I think they've put themselves out there as a positive force in the gay community, and that comes with expectations. I think the perspective of the writers is very limited, which is unsurprising as I have been lead to believe that there aren't many queer women hired on hit tv shows.

Just to be clear, I'm not calling you guys biphobic or anything. I just think you can occasionally suffer from a little short-sightedness when it comes to gay and/or fat women and their particular issues and so sometimes us gay fat women feel the need to put in our two cents. :)

and then, after a few comments talking about how I was blaming TLo, or didn't "really understand" about Santana being a lesbian...:

I thought I was pretty clear about this before, but alas, the internet always requires more clarification than I expect.

I was not blaming TLo for this episode. I was merely pointing out that they often have a limited perspective when it comes to issues relating to queer women, and that's what a comment section is for. :)

And look, I don't have a problem if they want to make Santana into a lesbian (although it's been made explicit that she is sexually attracted to men and just because she doesn't want to date the moon-faced albino rabbit known as Sam doesn't make her 100% gay). What I have a problem with is that we have two characters that the audience has been able to identify as bisexual for some time, and I've been complaining about the writers being afraid to come right out and say, "Brittany's bisexual" for a while. To take one of them from being completely unfeeling to being a sobbing, man-hating mess in one episode does no one any good. What many of you don't seem to get is that while the Santana/Brittany relationship may work for the characters, my real complaint is the squandered opportunity to have an actual conversation about fluid sexuality occurring in pop culture. When do we ever get TV characters talking about sexuality as being on a spectrum? It's always only one way or another, gay or straight, and that's just not how things really are. I don't hate Artie and Brittany together - in fact, I know very much what it's like to be in high school and in love with a boy but sexually attracted to girls. But I see Glee acting as this soapbox for gay boys and here was an opportunity to really talk about bisexuality and not having to put yourself into a box. An off-hand Ani DiFranco reference just doesn't cut it.

And I stand by my argument that a sad Santana is just a terrible idea. They're going to ruin her like they've ruined Sue.

The truth is I used to love this show, but now I don't trust the writers at all. I think Glee is going to go down as having a great first season before being destroyed by money and popularity and a glut of mediocre guest stars.

And one more and then I swear, I'm done:

@Anonymous, that's not it at all. I admitted that the way things played out MAY have worked for the characters. That doesn't mean there aren't other ways that could have worked just as well, if not better. Believe me, I'm one of the biggest advocates for more character consistency, but if Glee is going to be a gay soapbox (and it is), it should be more inclusive. Pop culture representations of sexuality continually present bisexuality as either a myth or a fetish, and I don't understand why my desire to see a representation of something more nuanced has people up in arms. The truth is most of the world is oblivious to the biphobia that is ingrained in both gay and straight cultures, and that's why I'm here railing against this relatively inconsequential instance of it. I am just really tired of being marginalized.

One of the reasons it's so hard to engage in thoughtful discourse about fluid sexuality is because most people simply don't know that much about it. AND THAT'S MY POINT. If more people saw representations of out-and-proud bisexuals in the media, maybe biphobia wouldn't be so rampant. So whether or not you enjoyed seeing Santana emoting, what could have been an opportunity for positive social change and education was completely squandered. And no surprise there, seeing that the Glee writers seem to be really good at squandering opportunities.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"You just got Zized"

Ok, Glee. W. T. F?

Last night I watched Glee with two of my friends. There was me, the jaded critic; Alia, the long-time fan; and Kristen, someone who had only watched a few recent episodes. Three people with three very different perspectives with one thing in common when it comes to Glee: we all really want to like the show. I was especially glad to have the two of them around, then, when "Sexy" started going off the rails and they could assure me it wasn't just me who thought this was the worst, poorly organized, most perplexing episode of the entire series.

Glee has been facing criticism for character consistency since the second season began. The show's writers have responded by removing any lingering ounce of character consistency and instead focusing on picking truly terrible songs to compliment the spectacularly awful and empty plots we have to plod through each week. Some critics have given up yelling into the void and are now defending the lack of consistency, saying, "That's just how Glee is!" But I refuse to give up. I will yell into the void for as long as I have lungs and people continue to stand by this crap. Why? Because I remember what 3/4 of the first season was like. It was inspiring. Uplifting. Joyful. It was not afraid to be uncool, or silly, or flamboyant. It presented an incredibly wide range of music in interesting and beautifully-sung ways. Now the show seems to exist solely to sell iTunes singles. The writers and producers are unconcerned with plot or pure musicality or character development or, well, quality, because they are making a bajillion dollars. And guess what? It shows.

I'm going to try to summarize with bullet points because there is too much to go over and none of it is presented linearly. I haven't read any other bloggers' thoughts about "Sexy", but I don't see how there's any way they can't agree that this is where Glee went off the rails and belly-flopped over that shark.

"It's like trying to follow porn!"

This is just to say that I have so, so much to say about the astounding, shark-jumpingly terrible episode of Glee from last night. BUT one of my best friends is in town and instead of dwelling on the shittiness of "Sexy" we're gonna go eat a delicious breakfast and chill in the botanical gardens. Consider this a place-holder until I get back to my regularly-scheduled snarkiness.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Are you trying to grow an afro?"

Mr. Sunshine was really en pointe last night. Great enough that I haven't eaten lunch and I need to shower and go to work but I just had to write this post.

Everyone was given a chance to shine in this episode. The A storyline was great, with Ben realizing that he needs to learn his employees' names in order to make them not hate him and do their jobs. I like that there wasn't any threat of firing anyone (except for the overachieving mascot, who has "come up with ways of hydrating that would disgust you") but that Ben realized that learning their names would actually be beneficial to everyone. And once he does (by giving their initials randomly cruel mnemonic devices, AKA Fred Patterson becomes Fat Pumpkin) he finds that he actually enjoys connecting with people. That happy feeling doesn't last long, however, since Roman gets distracted and, in my favorite moment of the night, turns up the giant fan to belt out Cher's "Believe" into and accidentally blows the name cards out over the arena where the workers find them. Anger and hilarity ensues. There were some great chances for Jorge Garcia to shine (I'm assuming he's doing guest spots here while waiting for Alcatraz to start filming full-time) including the tag. The show does an excellent job of humanizing the narcissistic, misanthropic Ben, and while I know he's not going to become a total softy he's already more of a person and less of a caricature.

Meanwhile in the B story line, they finally gave Andrea Anders something to do and she knocks it out of the park while looking really effing hot (and skinny blonde is so not my type). Crystal has a new boyfriend named Darius Washington whom she assumes Alonzo will know because they're both "brothers". It's much more funny to watch it all unfold and to see the tension ratchet up, so I'll let you watch it yourself, but suffice to say there is some hard-hitting comedy going on here.

Mr. Sunshine is a classic sitcom, but not in the tired CBS style. It doesn't go as far as Community in terms of mixing things up, but it lets the characters play off each other with fabulous results. Even if the storylines may be somewhat tired, Mr. Sunshine finds a way to showcase them from a fresh perspective. I am keeping my fingers crossed extra-hard in the hope that it gets picked up for a second season.

Notes & Quotes:

"You're not black."
"Well, I could've been! My mom was very progressive in her 20s."

Seriously, even if you don't watch anything else, you should watch Roman autotuning himself with the giant fan.

"Because of your ridiculous flash card scheme it's hot again and I look like Art Garfunkel."

"This is San Diego - they made the library out of conches!"

"Benjamin, you're a preening, self-centered narcissist and your socks are too design-y. What's with all the stripes? You're not Beetlejuice, you're a human man!"

The evolution of Crystal's hair is both hilarious and highly believable (unlike Monica in Barbados, which is hilarious and highly unbelievable (it doesn't get humid in NYC?) but ends in the pay-off of her "sexy" braids, which I love. /endparantheticalFriendsreference)

"Oh, good. I don't have kids or a wife. I'm gonna get drunk and race go-carts."

And with that, I'm gonna go get drunk and race go-carts. Oops...I mean go play cards with 5th graders.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Discussion Points!

I'm just gonna write a little about some random stuff that is too short to warrant a full post but that I want to muse upon anyway.

Firstly, Charlie Sheen. When I wrote this post way back in October I had no idea that things were going to get as bad as they've gotten with him. However, I agree with some of the complaints that I've been hearing...along the lines of "So it's ok for Charlie Sheen to be violent with women and go on destructive coke-fueled benders but threatening the creator of his shitty show is over the line?" What CBS has done is given terrible, often illegal behavior a pass, finally drawing the line at him saying awful things about Chuck Lorre. I'm not saying the things he said weren't awful. I'm just saying he's done a hell of a lot worse things in just the past year, and it
would've been nice if someone in charge had done something about it before now. In addition, why Charlie Sheen picked now to join Twitter is beyond me, but regardless of whether there are drugs involved in his insane behavior (and I'm fairly sure there are) this is an excellent example of why I don't want to be famous. Seriously - let's teach our kids that this is not an aspirational goal. Is there an opposite of aspirational? Because I think that's Charlie Sheen.