an awesome way to watch TV

Saturday, December 29, 2012

UGH, The Worst! 2012

Because when you have a blog you make lists at the end of the year otherwise it's not a real blog.

Lena Dunham/"Girls"

This was the year in which an uber-privileged white girl wrote a show called "Girls" in which the people of color that populate New York City became a backdrop upon which to paint a portrait of said privilege.  The fact that Dunham knew exactly what she was doing and made a conscious decision to NOT include any queers or POC in significant roles on her show makes it all so much worse.  And yet, even after a brutal take-down by critics, blogs, and viewers, white people's love of watching neurotic white people won out.  The AV Club, which is my go-to place for online TV criticism, wrote this and I died a little inside:

Saturday, December 15, 2012

An Expert Discussion On The Closing Of The "Gossip Girl" Ouvre

Lauren: Ok so seriously I did not even know about Gossip Girl ending until this morning when I read this article:
Lauren: Otherwise I would have been texting you much more often about it than I already have
Lauren: That, for me, is the saddest part about this whole thing...the end of our texts about Gossip Girl
Lauren: "I am riding the Dan & Blair train all the way to Awesomeville. DAN+BLAIR4EVA"
Lauren:  "Chuck has a dog. Its name is Monkey"
Lauren: “uggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhh Serenaaaaaaaaaaaa”
Lauren: "ugh, serena ruins everything."
Lauren: But I have to say that as someone who was initially not only resistant to, but actually disgusted by Gossip Girl, the show, in all its multifaceted horribleness, has really come to grow on me
Lauren: I went back and found all my posts tagged "Gossip Girl" - this first one is worth reading. And you HAVE to watch the video, the video is still amazing:
Lauren: And the show came back from that and was on my "The Best" list last year:
"Dan and Blair (and Chuck?)
I know that it is never to be and that Chuck and Blair are meant to be together, but Dan's love for Blair and the possibility of them boning has kept me watching Gossip Girl even after I stopped reading Richard's Gawker TV recaps. And while Dan and Blair (Dair? Blan?) may never be a couple, that doesn't mean a future plot twist won't involve them knockin' da boots and putting everyone into a tizzy. MAKE IT HAPPEN, writers. Honestly, maybe THEY should all be polyamorous, Chuck and Dan seem to be getting pretty tight with all that talking and bonding they've been doing. Dan got him a DOG and Chuck named that dog MONKEY. That's at least worth a handy during a three-way."

Friday, December 7, 2012

"The Perfect Last Christmas Party"

I realized a few days ago that I haven't really been talking about my shows much this fall - by that I mean the shows that are my real favorites, like Parks & Recreation.  Partly it's because I've been so busy, and partly it's because Community's not on the air, but it's also partly due to the fact that I've been watching with a more over-arching point of view, instead of simply evaluating shows on an episode by episode basis.  And with that in mind, it is time to talk about The Office.

Now, I have loved The Office for a very long time, and I was never the hugest Michael Scott fan.  I even thought the show had the potential to improve in his absence.  But they made some bad decisions along the way and cast the wrong people and went way too far down the Robert California rabbit hole and last season the show was, let's face it, bad.  Very bad.

But then this season came around.  And since we all know this is the final year, the show has been given a chance to get back to where it started as well and demonstrate how far it's come.  At the center of all that is the combination of relationships between Dwight, Jim, and Pam.  Oh, sure, there's Erin and New Jim, and Angela and Oscar, and all the rest in between and they're great, but resolving the Dwight/Jim/Pam relationships is clearly the documentarian's goal.  As someone who knows the early seasons to an obsessive point it is absolutely captivating and joyful to watch the pleasantly gradual denouement of these characters.

The Office's first Christmas episode was a classic in both the Michael-is-a-clueless-jerk and the Jim-and-Pam-are-tragically-in-love veins, with the Yankee Swap and the teapot and the shameless-but-apt iPod promotion and the Meredith's boobs.  It set the stage for many, many more great Christmas episodes - the dueling margarita/nutcracker parties (which includes my favorite Creed line: "I don't care which party I go to. Once you've danced naked at a hash bonfire with the spirits of the dead, all parties seem pretty much the same"); the Morrocan Meredith Intervention Christmas (which I believe was also the Princess Unicorn episode - "My horn can pierce the sky!"); the one where Phyllis is Santa.  The Christmas party is a time where the employees of Dunder Mifflin open up and get drunk and embrace the holiday spirit, and it's always a highlight of the season.  Last year's Christmas episode was a bright spot in a dark, glum year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Boardwalk Empire: Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

After every episode of Boardwalk Empire this season, I've thought, "Should I write about it now?"  And the answer has always been no, because the show has been leading to something big, but until these last few episodes I had no idea what it was.  Maybe I should've waited a few more weeks until after the season finale, but the time finally felt right.  We found out where Nucky's path this season is taking him, and it looks pretty grim.  I've actually been working on this piece for a couple weeks now because most of my time has been consumed with applying to grad school, and then I had a personal tragedy that didn't inspire a desire to watch people get beat to death or shot to shit.  I'm still dealing with that loss, but this piece has been eating away at me and it's finally time to finish it.

I'm going to backtrack for just a second and explain my feelings about Boardwalk Empire previous to this season.  I've watched it since the beginning, and enjoyed the performances and the beautiful set design, costume design, direction, and cinematography enough to keep coming back to the show, but it wasn't until last season when I really began to FEEL for the characters.  Much of this has to do with my current favorite dramatic character, Richard Harrow AKA Sexy Richard Half-Face, but not all.  As the stakes became higher and important character information like Jimmy and Gillian's fucked-up history was revealed, the show became imminently more fascinating.  The season two finale proved that Terence Winter and the rest of the writers aren't afraid to make big sacrifices for the sake of valuable plot and character arcs.  Ok, I was trying to avoid it, but we're gonna get all sorts of spoilery up in here now.  Join me after the jump!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Moving Forward With "Modern Family"

Damn, it's been too long, folks.  Unfortunately, when you're applying to grad school and traveling and picking up extra jobs to pay them bills, your little-read blog about television is the first thing to fall by the wayside.  That doesn't mean that I haven't had things to talk about, or been building up posts in my head for when I finally have the time to write them.  This season of Boardwalk Empire has been spectacular, and I'll be writing about it some time in the next week.  The Mindy Project is going well, but the real surprise of the new fall shows has been Ben And Kate, which is just a delightful, smart, playful romp every week.  Go On is solidly enjoyable.  Last Resort keeps getting better.  Revolution keeps getting worse.  The Office is, surprisingly, mostly turning it out for their last season, although everyone agrees that making Andy into a horrible monster was a terrible move.  Parks & Recreation is great, of course, although I do have some small nitpicks we'll get to eventually.  How I Met Your Mother is what it is, which is to say a little dull, very repetitive, a nice vehicle to get my Jason Segel fix, and still very staunchly Not Friends, however hard they try.  RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars is so poorly formatted that not only are the wrong people going home every week, but the show itself is actually boring.  What a disappointment.

But you know what's not a disappointment?  This season of Modern Family.  Oh, there have been some missteps (that stereotypical lesbian couple?  Let's not ever mention that again.) and just last night Jay made a homophobic joke ("If you had a man who wanted to pick out strollers with you, you wouldn't have gotten pregnant in the first place" UGH).  But this season seems to be focused more on the individual characters we've developed a relationship with, and less on making lazy jokes about whatever boring archetype they belong to (shrewish wife, trophy wife, nerdy girl, effeminate gay man, etc.).

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Harmontown Evening

So, depending on whether you know me in real life, you may or may not know that I went to Harmontown tonight.  If you don't know what Harmontown is, I'm not going to explain to you here.  Go listen to the podcast, it's amazing and engrossing and funny and weird and, like most television, best when enjoyed serially.

Afterwards, my friend Matt and I went to The Drawing Room along with some of the folks from the podcast and I expressed my love and admiration for Spencer (who looks precisely like a Dungeon Master SHOULD look, ie very wise and bearded) and talked briefly with Dan Harmon who I THOUGHT had been putting Sam Cooke songs on the jukebox which would've been awesome but instead was getting money from the ATM which was completely normal if not totally awesome.  But he was hella chill and cheersed me and I felt too weird to engage him in a conversation about his inadvertent Lindsey Weir costume which probably would've taken some explaining and man, it's like, I'd really like to just talk to these guys (Jeff Davis included, he's so adorable & I was gonna say impish but really it's Deanish) but even at a tiny bar post-Harmontown I feel like I'm imposing which is my own constructed bullshit & probably partly Matt's fault (sorry, Matt) but that doesn't mean it makes me feel magically confident (which I usually am, BTW, magically confident is kind of my middle name) or anything.

There's this weird paradox with comedians-as-celebrities where, because these days they often share a lot of their real, personal selves with the public, they seem more accessible.  And man, I can't wait until I live in LA and can go to Harmontown every week and become the token queer chick and all of that.  It'll happen.  But until then I just feel like an asshole talking to them.  They don't want to talk to me.  They want to talk to their friends!  And while *I* think I'm awesome, thinking that in public makes me an asshole.  Or maybe not, who fucking knows.  I still can't really figure out what's going on with some of the Harmontown regulars who are, as my friend Katie would say, totally Aspy.  Part of me wants to act just like them and put myself out there, and part of me hates them for being just as narcissistic as I myself definitely am.

I think that last sentence sums up a lot of aspects of LA culture.

In conclusion, Sir Dan Harmon:  I am even more awesome than everyone else (yes, I am an "awesome" girl, Dan).  I enjoyed the "Fag" anecdote as much as I enjoyed the faggot episode of South Park, which is to say A WHOLE FUCKING LOT...but wish you had called for at least one of us gays to join your multicultural coalition (I would've been much more funny and MUCH less creepy than the Puerto Rican girl).  I could sit in a tiny room and watch you all play Dungeon and Dragons FOR YEARS.  And wearing that coat with even semi-baggy jeans makes you look like you're in a half-hearted Lindsey Weir costume.  JUST FYI.  All you need is a brunette wig and to get Jeff wicked stoned so he can be Jason Segel.

Wish I could be there for Jarreth week next week.  Come on tour to San Francisco.  Next time, make the jukebox your bitch.  And I love you all forever, in the least creepy and most narcissistic way possible.

Thus ends my first LiveJournal entry in many a year.

Friday, October 12, 2012

New Drama Showdown: "Last Resort" vs "Revolution"

As we all know, the networks have been searching for the next Lost for some time.  There was The Event, Persons Unknown, V, Alcatraz, and a whole bunch of other short-lived shows I can't even remember that failed to hook and capture the public in the immediate, visceral way that Lost did.  I was reading an interview with Zeljko Ivanek where he was talking about being bummed he didn't get to work with Blair Underwood more on The Event, and while I love Zeljko and I love Blair Underwood, the sad truth is that The Event was terrible.  Just really, really bad.

My love of Lost got me into a quandary with some of my best friends when the sixth season aired.  I had been pretty obsessed with Lost since about mid-way through the second season, when I watched the first season DVDs and then went off to a new college and realized I could buy episodes on iTunes.  That shit hooked me pretty hard.  After I graduated and moved back home, I made a bunch of people start watching. I swore to them that the writers knew what they were doing and all the loose ends would be neatly tied up if they would just be patient.  Now, I still maintain that Lost was, for the most part, a great show, and after careful consideration, I even became a fan of the finale.  But fuck, the writers really dropped the ball during season six.  The episodes aren't all terrible and we do get some satisfying answers, but they spent WAY too much time introducing unnecessary new characters, faffing around with Charles Widmore, and getting to the heart of the Jacob/Smoke Monster thing and not enough time wrapping things up satisfactorily with the original cast and some of the mysteries they'd been developing for years.  Don't even get me started on the alternate reality/limbo thing - while I do like the finale, the build-up to it was frustratingly dumb.  Anyway, this is all to say that Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof robbed me of some of my well-earned reviewer credentials and to this day, my friends still give me shit when I recommend a mysterious drama.

Well, I'm hoping that I can redeem myself now.  There are two new dramas this year that have already found some success with the Lost style of a large, diverse ensemble cast and gradually-revealed mysteries, and it turns out that they're both pretty good.  One is already pulling ahead of the other in my book, though.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Real Gay Talk

One of the things that I'm not sure comes across all the time in my writing is the fact that I am always willing to have my mind changed, given there's a compelling reason for it.  I'm an incredibly logic-driven person and while I DO hold strong opinions, when presented with new evidence, I'm always up to revisit and possibly alter the way I feel.  There are plenty of things I've said on this blog that I have since come to look upon differently, but if I were to go back and change each post it would be, not only a pain in the ass, but also dishonest.  So instead, I'm here to explain myself.

Last weekend, a (young, gay, white, male) friend and I were having a conversation about the presentation of queers in the media.  I was talking about how it feels like the only gay people given any sort of representation  lately are white men, and he brought up that he feels like that being a gay woman is more socially acceptable than being a gay man, and because of that it's more important for men to have the media representation in order to make people comfortable with it.  My other (straight, female) friend brought up the point that the only really socially acceptable form of lesbianism is two traditionally attractive women who look like they could be straight having casual sexytimes with each other, usually presented as an object of male fantasy.  She also brought up that the most socially acceptable form of gayness usually comes in the Gay Best Friend role, a role which is almost always so neutered and de-sexualized so as to make him more palatable for the masses. I went on to argue that the gay male perspective currently being presented was so limited (usually young; ALWAYS white) and often offensively stereotypical and that what the queer community REALLY needs is a wide range of characters displaying a wide range of sexualities.

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Weeds" Crumbs

So I finally re-watched the Weeds series finale.  Like every other series finale basically ever, it made some people happy and left some unsatisfied, but most viewers, like me, probably felt some combination of the two.

It was nice what they tried to do with the symmetry of the show, with plenty of callbacks to the pilot and to the early halcyon days of the show.  But opening on a PTA meeting and bringing back Josh just weren't enough to make this episode the perfect cap on the series.  I've been talking to a number of my friends about it, and most of them agree that the early seasons were by far the best (though I would argue that Season 4 had some strong comedic highlights, particularly with Andy and Lenny but also Celia and Ignacio).  Season 5 was where things really started to go off the rails, and Season 6 was an absolute mess.  They brought back some of the spark for this final go-round, but it really was too little, too late.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Go On" Just Isn't Quite There Yet

About a year and a half ago, there was this show that premiered around mid-season on ABC called Mr. Sunshine.  It was fantastic.  It was created by Matthew Perry, and served to highlight his notably wry brand of humor.  It was cancelled after six episodes, and I'm pretty sure that I remain the only person who has ever seen all six.  Its cancellation had nothing to do with the quality of the show, and everything to do with the fact that it premiered on a Tuesday in March, and all the promotion in the world won't help a show that isn't given a chance to find an audience or build up steam.  I was really bummed out about it, because I love Matthew Perry (and Allison Janney and Jorge Garcia and everyone else who was on that show), and it seemed such a shame for him to have finally found the perfect vehicle and then to have the politics of television programming just totally fuck that up.

Go On is not Mr. Sunshine.  Is Perry good in it?  Yes, because he is good.  Is John Cho my favorite for ever and ever and do I love him SO MUCH?  Yes.  But remember when I was talking about bland comedy?  Go On is it.  I've heard a couple other people compare it to Community, and after watching the third episode this week, such a comparison is inevitable.  You've got an emotionally closed-off man who joins a group for purely selfish reasons and then, you know, learns things and becomes friends with them and everyone is very different and diverse and isn't it hilarious? isn't.  It isn't very hilarious, and that's not because they talk about his dead wife all the time.  It's because I have seen this show before, done a million times better.  And, it's because, as much as I love Matthew Perry, it's really John Cho who should be given his own starring vehicle.    Funny, handsome, young, and whip-smart, Cho could connect with viewers in a way that, if he were in the lead, would drive this show to success.  And who knows?  It's still early days; Go On has the potential to get much sillier and more creative as the season goes on.  But right now, it's looking like the easily-digestible, very standard show that everyone at NBC wished Community had been.

But at least it's better than Animal Practice.  Animal Practice is TERRIBLE.  You guys remember that episode of The Office where Jim and Pam and Andy are watching a fake movie starring Jack Black and Cloris Leachman?  That's what Animal Practice feels like.  A fake TV show that fake people watch on another TV show, played for laughs at how bad it is.  Uncle Andy, what have they done to you?  Annie's Boobs, what have they done to YOU?

Image via IMDB

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Guys With Kids" Parties Like It's 1999

So, I watched the Guys With Kids pilot.  Here's what I'll say - it wasn't sexist or homophobic or racist or anything like that.  It also wasn't very funny.

The show is filmed in front of a live studio audience, and it very much feels like an attempt to return to old school classic NBC sitcoms.  I say attempt because such a return doesn't really feel possible.  When shows like Louie, Parks & Recreation, and Community are pushing the boundaries of what television can and should be, a show like Guys With Kids feels out of place and perilously un-hip.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The List, Part Three

So, with all of my working full-time and devouring Game Of Thrones and changing the blog name this summer, The Hedgepig's second anniversary just passed on by without comment.  And really, there's not much to comment on other than to say that I hope you guys enjoy reading this as much as I love writing it, and that recently I've been getting some really good feedback from people who've taken some of my recommendations, which just makes it all worth it.  So thanks for reading and all of that.  You can check out last year's anniversary post if you're interested in a more lengthy acknowledgement.  In lieu of that this time, here's one of my favorite Abed moments ever.  I really, really like talking about TV, you guys.  In case you hadn't noticed.

Now comes the part where, if I had a shame gland, it would start acting up.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Vacation Is Over

Since it's now the weekend after Labor Day, and summer is officially over, it's time for Miss Hedgepiggy to return to the grind.  And man, do I have things to say and opinions to express!  Fall season premieres start this week, although, to be honest, none of the new shows aside from The Mindy Project have me feeling anything other than whelmed.  But I'm very excited for the return of some of my favorites, and to get back to a regular schedule of healthy analytical opinionating.  Here's a list of what I will and won't be watching this fall - new shows, old shows, and shows that weren't good enough last year to make the cut now.

The Mindy Project

If you haven't watched The Mindy Project yet, and you are a functioning human with a brain, vocal cords suitable for laughing, and eyes that enjoy looking at attractive people, YOU ARE MISSING OUT.  The pilot has been up on Hulu for a couple weeks, and I highly recommend it to anyone.  Mindy Kaling!  Chris Messina!  Stephen Tobolowsky!  Richard Schiff!  Bethany from Mad Men!  Penelope from Gossip Girl!  A hot guy with a British accent!  Literally something for everyone.  It's smart and funny and aimed toward women in the same way that New Girl seems to be but is MUCH more interesting and not at all divisive and there are no stupid jokes about the ways that women and men are SO different to each other.  And it has Mindy Kaling, a fantastic actress and writer instead of the grating, dumb, obliviously saccharine star-who-shall-not-be-named of that OTHER show.  Most importantly, it is something NEW and DIFFERENT and it acknowledges the fact that not all funny, smart, and sexy people in the world are skinny white people.  183% MUST WATCH show of the season.  Everything else I could take or leave, but The Mindy Project is a straight-up glass of finely distilled awesome.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Summer Watch List

So, as you may have noticed, it is summer.  And aside from a time where some of us like to engage in this little-known activity called reading, it is also a time when the cable networks put out some of their best shows.  So what have I been watching?  Not Breaking Bad.  But lots of other things!


I'll admit that I've already finished Season 2 of Episodes.  Much like Downton Abbey, it airs in the UK months before it comes to the States, and so it's easy to find links online.  And so even though I only started watching the season last weekend, I'm already done.  The reason for this is that it's SO EFFING GOOD.  Literally everything about this show is fantastic, but especially the actors.  Matt LeBlanc continues to be great at playing a parody of himself, and Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan are always brilliant as the transplanted British writers/producers, but this season gave more of the spotlight to the supporting actors, and Kathleen Rose Perkins shines like a goddamn star.  Her portrayal of Carol is at once pathetic and empowering; infuriating and endearing; hilarious and sad.  She's taken the character from the one-note Rigid Studio Executive and turned Carol into someone we root for and whose motives we come to understand.  And she's just SO fucking funny.  John Pankow as the studio head Merc Lapidus is a comedic gem, and Genevieve O'Reilly as his blind wife Jamie plays her role with a quiet subtlety that'll make you laugh out loud (as two characters are fighting and chaos erupts amongst the cast, she just keeps yelling, "What's going on???!!!").  Daisy Haggard as the erstwhile, clueless exec with the weird moaning voice steals every single scene she's in and Joseph May as Andy Button is the type of character who would eat a popsicle made of shit if you told him it was fudge - while smiling.  I honestly can't pick a favorite character because I love them all, and I didn't mean to brush past Greig and Mangan because they carry the show, and both actors' abilities to transform from glib to gutwrenching in the blink of an eye is astounding.  They grab you by the heartballs, and just won't let go.

Anyway, not to give anything away, but the season finale is one of my favorite moments of comedy of the entire year.  There're only nine episodes, so get watching and seriously, don't miss out on this show.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Girl Glows Green is now The Hedgepig

So, you might have noticed, while checking this page to see if I had FINALLY updated (I haven't, though I hope to in the next few days), that Girl Glows Green no longer exists.  I've been wanting to change the name for a while, as I begin to make steps towards my own actual website, but it took me a very long time and a lot of really bad ideas before The Hedgepig arrived in my brain.

Why The Hedgepig?  The reasons are myriad.  To begin with, hedgehogs are MY animal, if you will.   Small, round, sometimes prickly, sometimes cuddly, intelligent, and wily creatures, I've always had a fondness for them.  And I feel like their opposing dichotomies are pretty representative of the tone of this blog - sometimes sharp, sometimes soft, always discerning.  Hedgehogs have shown up in important things and at important times in my life, and I've always been interested in and strangely drawn to them.  There are more stories here, but I won't bore you with childhood dreams and obscure details.  And as for why it's The Hedgepig and not The Hedgehog, well, there's this E. Nesbit story in her collection The Magic World called "The Princess and The Hedgepig" that you should all read because it's really wonderful...but that was just the impetus.  In truth, hedgepig is simply more mellifluous and uniquely recognizable.  I like it.  It's a fun word for my favorite animal, and really, that's that.

The Hedgepig will continue to be what Girl Glows Green always strove to be - a funny, nuanced, and critical look at television and pop culture - and my plan is to make it even better.  I hope you'll come back to check out what's to come.

Image via Shutterstock

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Newsroom Is Bad

Ok, to start out with, I know I've been AWOL for a while.  Well, only a couple weeks, but it feels like a long time.  And the truth of the matter is I just haven't been watching TV lately.  *GASP*  Oh, I watched Mad Men, and I caught up on Veep over the weekend, but mostly my pop culture time (which hasn't been much, since I've started a new, full-time job) has been consumed with reading the Game Of Thrones books. They are just SO GOOD!  I could read them forever!  And I pretty much have been, to the exclusion of almost everything else.  I'm gearing up to start doing Dawson's Creek recaps pretty soon, but I've got to finish Storm Of Swords first.  SORRY!  But some things take precedence in life, and amazing books are one of them.

It's no surprise, then, that I slept a little on the premiere of Aaron Sorkin's new drama, The Newsroom.  And  then when I saw pictures of Kristin Davis macking on Sorkin, I remembered OH!  This show!  I am excited about it!  So I took a break from Arya and Jon Snow to check it out.

And....oh.  This face. :/

By now you've probably seen the opening speech that Jeff Daniels makes, where he talks about how America ISN'T the best country in the world:

It's wonderful and honest and informed and really great and exactly what I hoped this show would be.  But then...he says this (italics mine):
"But [America] sure used to be [the best] (ed: REALLY?  IT DID? SINCE WHEN???).  We used to stand up for what's right (again: REALLY? SINCE WHEN???).  We fought for moral reasons (like all those Native Americans we killed for 'moral reasons'?), we passed laws for moral reasons (like all those laws to keep black and white people from getting married?), we waged wars on poverty, not poor people (REALLY? Like all that help we've given poor people during the decades-long War On Drugs?).  We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chests (AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA).  We built great big things (Congratulations, America, on building big things.), we made amazing technological advances, explored the universe, cured disease, we cultivated the world's greatest artists (okaaaaay) AND the world's greatest economy (ummmmmm).  We reached for the STARS (vom).  We acted like men (VOM).  We aspired to intelligence, we didn't belittle it, it didn't make us feel inferior (If that is what you'd like to believe, Sorkin).  We didn't identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn't...we didn't scare so easy.  We were able to do all these things and be all these things because we were informed.  By great men, men who were revered (Yup, W.R. Hearst was super great and kept us EXTRA informed).  First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.  America isn't the greatest country in the world anymore."

So, as you can probably tell, I've got some problems with this speech.  America isn't the greatest country in the world ANYMORE?  So when was it?  When we had slaves?  When we shoved our immigrants into tenements to die of tuberculosis and starvation and factory fires?  Was it during the Trail Of Tears?  When we outlawed alcohol?  When we lynched black people?  When we put Japanese-Americans into internment camps?  Was it when we put "under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance or when we continually denied equal rights to women, and gays, and racial and ethnic and religious minorities?  When we entered in to multiple wars and armed confrontations against small countries because we disagreed with their ultimately ineffective and self-defeating ideologies? When we watched our citizens ravaged by AIDS and did so little to help?  When we freely armed horrible, genocidal people around the world?  When we allowed the Supreme Court to elect a president?  When we put our money where our mouth was and never beat our chests on Imaginary Island in Never Never Land?  Tell me, Aaron Sorkin, precisely WHEN America was the greatest country in the world.  Because by my count, that was NEVER.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Talkin' 'Bout Community On The Internets

I had the privilege to engage in a thoughtful discussion with my blogcrush, Gabe Delahaye, on Videogum today.  It was great, and everything I love about the Internet.  Even though I had to write it three times.  Check out the original post, and then scroll down to the end to read our comments.  Or you can read the entire thread after the jump.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Calling Bullshit On Mad Men

Since I've mostly stopped doing recaps, I find that for most shows there will be an episode that encapsulates the way I feel about the season as a whole - like the Leap Day episode for Modern Family.  "The Other Woman" was definitely that episode for Mad Men.  So, we can all agree this season has been pretty wack, right?  Definitely not the darkly beautiful subtle miracle of seasons past.  And yes, I understand that the tone of the show has changed to adjust to the tone of the world they live in, but it just doesn't seem like the storytelling holds as much weight as it used to.  That's not to say that this season has been bad; on the contrary, there have been many incredible moments (Roger on acid; Pete getting the shit kicked out of him; Joan kicking out her POS husband) and I still very much love the show.  But it's not the same.  Everything is a little more obvious, the emotions aren't as stark, and, worst of all, some of the characters actions and reactions don't seem at all in line with what we know of them.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Why We Should All Be Effing Pissed About Dan Harmon Being Fired

In case you missed it, since The Man did everything they could to make sure you would miss it, Dan Harmon was fired as showrunner of Community on Friday.  I highly recommend you go read about it in his own words because, like so much else that he does, it's funny and poignantly sad.

Done?  Okay, so here's why this sucks:  they figured out a way to cut the creative balls off of Community without killing it outright.  Look, clearly they've been gunning for Community for a long time.  Business men don't like shows that are smart because they might have to put some actual work into properly marketing them.  But when they tried to quietly kill it back in December, the Internet exploded.  Fans went crazy.  The comment thread at The AV Club's post for "Regional Holiday Music" exceeded 30,000 posts.  Community won not only Splitsider's tournament for The Best Sitcom Episode Ever, but also Hulu's Best In Show competition.  While I'm sure that the people in charge would have loved for Community to die a quiet death after airing the back ten episodes, that obviously wasn't going to happen.

Then two unfortunate things occurred.  Well, one occurred a year ago when Harmon's contract was only renewed for one instead of the usual two seasons.  The second was the Chevy Chase debacle.  Who knows how much effect Chevy's dickishness and Harmon's poor handling of the situation had on THIS situation, but you can bet it didn't help anything.  If nothing else, it provides enough reasonable doubt so bloggers like me will speculate on it since no one, not even Dan Harmon, really know all the reasons he was let go.  But I think that mishandled event is more of an excuse than an impetus for this disaster.

Taking Dan Harmon off of Community is like slaughtering Khal Drogo's horse.  It's like Peeta after the tracker jacker torture or McMurphy post-lobotomy.  They cut out the part that fights for what is good and right in this world.  They cut out the originality and the creativity and the magnificent, not-a-fuck-giving mind that created this show that speaks so wholeheartedly to my generation.  And look, it's not like Community is going to be bad; I have faith that as long as Megan Ganz is in the writing room, things will be alright.  It's not like the remarkably talented cast is going anywhere.  But it will not be the same groundbreaking, inspiring show it has been.  And that's because neither NBC nor Sony has ever shown much of an interest in supporting or marketing the show, but they also didn't want to anger all the millions of fans by cancelling it, so they first moved it to goddamn Fridays after goddamn Whitney (while The Office keeps its lazy, decomposing ass parked at 9 pm Thursdays) and then sneakily went in, cut off the head, legs, and balls, sent a press release to TV Guide at 7 pm on a Friday, and hoped no one would notice.  Well, guess what?  Notice taken, assholes.

So, other than the idiots who run television taking a big ol' dump on the fans and viewers that support them, why should we be pissed about this?  Because Dan Harmon is a champion for a new kind of television.  From its pilot episode, Community has celebrated diversity, not just in terms of race and gender and age and sexuality, but in terms of personality.  Harmon, like Matthew Weiner, personally fought for more women in the writing room, and as a result developed some of the most interesting, well-rounded, and hilarious female characters on television.  Community is all about diverse people coming together and forming a - what's it called? Oh, right, a community.  Is there another sitcom on television that features so many actors of color?  Nope.  Is there another sitcom that presents a queer character who likes to cross-dress in such a loving, non-judgmental light while still celebrating his inherent humor?  Sadly, no.  No other show has the temerity to take on a character like Fat Neil with such studied compassion, or to use an elderly character like Leonard to such a consistently brilliant degree.  Community has covered religion, lesbians, poor people, racist gardeners, racist parents, homophobic parents, plain shitty parents, racist grandparents, weight issues, bullying, class issues...and NONE of it has been preachy or saccharine.  Community has dealt in human emotions and chose to focus on what unites us instead of what divides us.  It has presented different kinds of people as PEOPLE, not as stereotypes.

I saw all this as the future of television.  But it seems like the people in charge don't see it that way at all.  Watching the upfront trailers, my stomach dropped lower and lower as white face after white face flashed on my screen (notable exception being The Mindy Project, which looks great and I can't believe NBC didn't pick it up except I can because they're obviously frittataed).  Network television looks whiter than it did in the 90s.  And Ryan Murphy gets to continue perpetuating his favorite stereotype that the only gays that matter are young white males.  What I wouldn't give for a funny queer chick on TV....

So, yeah.  I'm pissed, and sad, and currently trying to figure out what I need to do to get a job in television production so I can start changing things from within.  Dan Harmon has spent the last three years challenging our ideas of what television could and should be; he has given a voice to those who have for so long been voiceless; he created Troy and Abed, two of the best television characters of all time played by two of the very best comedic actors (not that the Emmys have noticed, because, you know, racism).  For me, he created a show that so clearly exemplified what I love about television that it helped me realize my passion and inspired me to work towards a career in the industry.  So I will stand with Dan Harmon in whatever he decides to do next (and it hopefully involves Chris McKenna, who left the show in solidarity with Dan), and we'll just have to wait and see what happens with Community next season.  Although the threat of cancellation has hung over the show all year, that thankfully allowed Harmon & Co. to pull out all the stops and fill this season with awesomeness.  Yesterday when I was mourning by rewatching most of season three, I kept thinking how appropriate the theme song is, and has been to this show.

"Gimme some more time in a dream
Gimme the hope to run out of steam
Somebody said it can be here
We could be roped up, tied up, dead in a year"

Dream big, don't give up, fight for what's right, and write every show like you're about to get cancelled - THAT'S how you make great television.  The season finale wrapped up in what would have been a satisfying series ending, and we'll just have to hope that when Abed steps into his mini Dreamatorium, he's imagining an alternate, far happier timeline.

Thanks for everything, Dan.

Images via aspecialthing, videogum

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Why It's Important To Keep Talking About Girls

One of the interesting (read: super depressing) things that has arisen over this whole Girls brouhaha is the backlash against the backlash.  Everyone was fine to talk about it for a week, but to keep talking about it was to "not be able to let things go".  But to not keep talking about it is, in my eyes, to ignore it, and like it or not, ignoring it is not the way to handle the issue.

I admit that my last post on the subject was a bit vitriolic, and my friend said, "It kind of sounded like you just hate the East Coast" which isn't the case at all.  There are many, many, things that I adore about the East Coast, but the tendency of people who live in New York City and produce work for the screen (or write, or blog, or photograph, or paint, or whatever) to be navel-gazingly obsessed with living in New York City and what that means is one of my least favorite things about pop culture in general and the East Coast in particular. I have lived in and spent a lot of time in different states up and down the East Coast and no matter what, my feelings about it always come back to Joni - "I wouldn't want to stay here; it's too old and cold and settled in its ways here".  In California, everyone is from somewhere else.  The importance of old money and history and who your family is and where you went to school fades here; we care about who you are now and where you're going and if your actions will help the world or the community.  Oh, we definitely trade in other weird issues (go watch some Portlandia for examples) and in certain circles all the dumb moneyed social crap still stands, but in my extensive experience, it's not as pervasively a part of the culture out west.

I see this idea of The Way Things Are Done not only in Girls, but in the backlashbacklash as well.  Famous people's children have always had an easier way of it, they say.  Why are you punishing Dunham for writing what she knows? the handwringers cry.  The types of people Hannah and her friends are probably DO only have white friends and it is ridiculous to expect otherwise, I'm told.  And my favorite, why aren't you as mad at any of the other all-white shows out there?  Why has Girls been forced to try to fulfill so many expectations?

Let's address these one by one.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wherein I Cry Actual Tears At The Parks & Rec Finale

Season finales abounded last night!  But we're only gonna talk about two of them.

Well, actually, three, because I've been meaning to say something about the Castle finale all week, so we'll start there.  Castle!  Ba-bam!  Finally!  Ok, the episode itself was pretty terrible because for some reason the showrunners use the season finales/premieres to abandon all the witty and glib humor that makes the show worth watching for heavy-handed, depressingly dramatic bullshit...but that doesn't mean that Nathan Fillion isn't AMAZING and TOTALLY THE BEST.  He delivers this speech that is pained and honest and beautiful and gratifying and Beckett, because she is an atrocious, selfish person, responds in an atrocious, selfish way.  Just watch:

But I never watched this show for her.  I've always known she's The Worst.  Like I said about last year's season finale, "We just want Castle and Beckett to make out.  It's all we've ever wanted."  And that's the truth. So I could care less about the crazy conspiracy and about Tahmoh Whatshisface from Dollhouse being a super-good murderer and about Esposito and Ryan's terminal cases of Serious Face and all of it, because at the end, not only did they make out hard-core, but they also definitely HAD THE SEX.  Which gives me great hopes for next season being less about Beckett's boring and illogical mental and emotional hangups and more about Castle and Beckett having all the sex.  I just can't believe it took FOUR SEASONS to get there.

Moving on.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

These Are Links!

Just some stuff worth checking out.

First is this excellent interview with Tony Hale, whom we all know I adore, and he talks about The Creek!  It's awesome.

Next, also from the AV Club, is a really good article about ending shows before they get sad and terrible, much like we were just talking about.

And lastly, did you see Jason Segel be stoned and/or adorably nervous on The Daily Show a few weeks ago?  Priceless.

Go forth and see these things!

Friday, May 4, 2012

How I Met Your Mother: Growing Up & Losing "Friends"

Sometimes I wait so long to post not because I have nothing to say, but because I'm not sure how to say it.  Or because I keep waiting to get inspired by a show that has ceased to be inspiring.  This post is full of a bunch of things that've been rattling around in my brain and have finally reached the point where they need to be forced out.

Oh, How I Met Your Mother.  I have been meaning for months to write a post about how this season of HIMYM has been markedly better from last season (or, as I call it, The Jennifer Morrison Tragedy), but have been waiting for an exemplary episode to really bring it all together.  That episode never came.  After "The Ducky Tie" early on, so full of promises and hope and boobs, HIMYM has sort of evened out to a mostly enjoyable, mostly mediocre sitcom.  The performances of the actors continue to give the show life and spirit, but the writing just isn't as fresh.  If you go back to an episode from seasons 2, 3, or 4, you'll find it has an edge that these days, has been blunted.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Veep Life

So, in all of the miserable hubbub about Girls, no one is talking about Veep.  Well, not no one, I heard a thing about it on NPR, but you know what I mean.  But, hey!  Guess what?  Veep is fantastic!

I should have started by mentioning that this show co-stars Tony Hale, and obviously anything Tony Hale touches turns to beautiful gold, including that episode of Dawson's Creek where he tells Dawson he has to pull the old man's plug or when he was the amazing ceramics teacher on Community ("No Ghosting!").  So it should come as no surprise to anyone that his role on an HBO comedy is anything other than perfection.

And, oh!  Julia Louis-Dreyfus!  I mean, talk about women in comedy.  It might be a little unfair to compare Veep to Girls, but too bad so sad, they're on the same night on the same channel so I'ma do whatever I want.  Whereas Hannah in Girls is relentlessly pathetic and trying so hard to be REAL that she becomes REALly unbearable, Veep's Selena is flawed in some charming ways of which she seems hyper-aware yet simultaneously totally oblivious, but her shortcomings only make her more likable and relatable (which, sadly, is I believe what Dunham was trying to achieve). And just the fact that Veep's cast has an authentic gender-balance, actual characters of color, and shows a woman holding a serious position of power (and yet simultaneously no power at all because being the Vice President sucks) in our government makes in miles better in terms of "women characters on television" than anything I saw on Girls.  Point made, contradictions left unexplained, let's move on.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Girls World

Ok, time to talk about Girls.

I've mentioned numerous times before that all-encompassing titles irk me.  Titles like Girls, Modern Family, Humboldt County, etc., that seem to purport to represent an idea, a place, or an entire group of people.  These titles set themselves up for failure, because there's no way they can be everything to everyone.  I came to Girls with this bias already in mind, and although brief moments of the show were enjoyable and fun, for the most part I found it excruciatingly insufferable.

To adequately discuss Girls, one must first have an understanding of Tiny Furniture.  Now, I kind of liked Lena Dunham's film, although I hated almost every character.  It was like they were insisting that "these are REAL characters, that's why they're stupid jerks to each other all the time", but just because real people are flawed doesn't mean that's ALL they are.  I have a similar problem with Girls, but we'll get to that in a second.  Tiny Furniture started out funny and relatable - English major, just out of college, forced to move in with her family - it pretty quickly turned frustratingly sad.  Dunham's characters, who appear to be autobiographical to some degree, are pathetic.  They struggle to maintain agency over their own lives, and when they finally attempt to assert themselves, they get in their own way.  It's not very much fun to watch, especially because by the end of the episode, I actually like every single character less than I did at the beginning.  Except the mom, because she (Leslie Ann Baker?) was great.  Seriously, they're all awful, but all of this leads to the real problem with Girls.

PRIVILEGE.  Ughhhhhhhhhh this show reeks of privilege.  White privilege, rich privilege, upper class city dweller privilege, legacy privilege, New-York-Is-The-Best-City-On-Earth-Ugh-Woody-Allen privilege, just all the horrible East Coasty privileges you can think of rolled into one giant rat king. And then everybody just fucking COMPLAINS for the ENTIRE show.  Boo fucking hoo, your parents have been supporting your life in The Most Expensive City Ever for TWO YEARS so you could work at an internship to advance your career except you were so used to being coddled and taken care of that you didn't think about maybe using the valuable experience you've gained to try to find a PAYING JOB even if it's not in your chosen field or whatever.  Sorry, let me just stop and think about the look on my parents' faces if I told them I needed them to give me $1100 a month.  AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  Oh, man.  Good one, guys.  I mean, yes, my parents have supported me and lent me money before, but, like 200 dollars to fix my car - like most people I know, they're not rich. Look, the truth is, Hannah and I have a few things in common.  We're twentysomething English majors a few years out of college with an eventual goal to write for a living.  The difference is I've been writing AND working for the past four years...just like everyone else.  Yes, a lot of people get support from their parents these days, and yes, it's hard to find a good job, but to be so upset and surprised about being cut off from your parents like it's this great injustice is just horrendous.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stuff We've Got To Talk About

Ok, I've got 45 minutes before I have to get in the shower and head off to meet a friend, so let's get to it!  So much going here it is, in absolutely no particular order.

Oh, the Chevy Chase/Dan Harmon thing makes me SO SAD.  Without knowing any more than what anybody else on the internet knows, my take on it is that these dudes are both just too cranky and too narcissistic to ever get along.  However, in the over-all scheme of things I've got to side with Harmon.  Chevy has been vocal about his disdain for sitcoms since the beginning, and doesn't seem to be able to understand how transcendent Community really is.  Here is a guy who has been, since the real beginnings of his career on SNL, a superstar, and has the ego to match.  I'm betting his agent or manager or someone convinced him to do Community in order to get his face out there to a younger audience and that Chevy didn't bet on the show becoming the phenomenon it has.  Additionally, I think the Pierce character hits a little too close to home for him sometimes.  I don't mean the daddy issue stuff (although, who really knows), but the old man/out of touch/hopelessly un-hip stuff ("Encarta it" ahahahahaha).  I bet before this show Chevy still thought of himself as being a classic bad-ass, but the writing has forced him to look his own old-man-ness in the face.  Anyway, that's just my take on it, who effing knows.  I think it was bad form for Chevy to walk off the set, and it was bad form for Harmon to chant, "Fuck you, Chevy" at the wrap party (although I do think that's pretty funny), but it was really bad form for Chevy to leave such a horrible message for the guy that is his BOSS.  And sorry, but calling D. Harms a bad writer doesn't hold water because everyone in the world knows that the opposite is true and that he's actually The Best writer (and I'm sure that Dan could care less about Chevy telling him to suck his cock).  Threatening to leave the show over this is a selfish, petty, childish, TOTAL DICK MOVE.  Honestly, I wouldn't care THAT much if he left - the incredible cast could pick up his slack - but the threat to do so just pisses me off.  Chevy needs to get over himself, stop thinking he's above doing television, and maybe if he were a little more respectful than stuff like this wouldn't happen.  Hmph.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

At Last! The Triumphant Return Of Mad Men

Mad Men! So incredibly great to have Mad Men back.  And such a fun episode!  I can't wait to see where the season goes from here.  We'll leave the heavy-handed textual analysis for others; here are my notes and quotes.

Friday, March 23, 2012

"Hot. Hot hot hot."

I know it seems like this has become a Community blog, but I promise that isn't the case.  I'm watching just as much television as ever, and will be talking about HIMYM, Up All Night, and Awake in the coming week.  I wasn't planning on recapping "Contemporary Impressionists", but then I watched it and holy hell!  What an amazing half-hour of television!  Like, comedically, of course, but also artistically...they just blew me away.

So the group is back from a very long winter break, and we learn that Abed has been hiring celebrity impersonators for fun.  We also learn that Jeff has a new shrink who has put him on anti-anxiety meds, which our budding psychologist Britta believes will only increase his pathological narcissism to a dangerously high level.  I love what they've done with Britta being a psych major - everyone knows the psych majors are all the craziest (no offense intended...I was almost a psych major).  This is one of my favorite Jeff moments EVER:

"Hello." makes me giggle EVERY TIME.

And then there's this.

If Jim Rash didn't already have an Oscar, that would have just won him the Oscar of my heart.  Like...what??? Amazing.  And we are not even a quarter of the way through this episode.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Community At PaleyFest

It's been almost two weeks since I saw Community at PaleyFest, and I know I probably should have written about it before now seeing that the Internet is going to blowing up with Community-related bidness tonight and tomorrow, but I don't care.  The posts come as they come, folks.  Anyway, it was an amazing night.  One of the reasons I've waited so long to do this is that the way the panel made me feel is almost ineffable.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

My seat was in the third row.  I can't emphasize enough how much of a difference that made.  Being close enough to not only see but also hear every little thing that was going on with the people on-stage was like being let in on a secret.  Watching the panels on LiveStream or even from farther back in the theater where you have to rely on the big screen is an incomplete experience.  The camera usually only shows 1-3 people at a time, but often the rest of the panel is doing or saying something that you would also like to see or hear, or the camera isn't quick enough to catch a quick visual joke that someone makes.  Danny Pudi and Ken Jeong in particular were sitting together and were basically just making jokes and having fun the ENTIRE time.  It was maravilloso.
Danny must hate his job
So the TV critic who's running the panel (my future job, fingers crossed) came out and introduced Dan Harmon, who then came out and gave a little talk that was equal parts grump and gratitude.  I love how little he cares about what anybody thinks of him and also his visible graciousness to his fans.  That was something that was apparent over and over again during the night: the people who work on Community know how much their fans love them, and the impact that the fans have had on the show's (hopefully rising) success, and they seem to be happy and even eager to do what they can to return that love.  So.  Basically they are all amazing people making an amazing show and I love them all.  The end.

Look at Danny's face!
Just kidding!  There is so much more!  Mr. Harmon introduced the episode that premieres tonight, "Urban Matrimony and the Sandwich Arts" (ahahahaha what?!) and then we got to watch it!  On the big screen!  Which was awesome.  I honestly don't remember much more than the basic plot of the episode because I was so hyped up on adrenaline, white wine, and love, but I remember it being VERY funny and having so many things I adore (Dreamatorium, anyone?) and laughing pretty much constantly and thinking, "Wow, they sure packed a crazy ton of jokes in here for the fans".  So be excited.  What's the opposite of a disappointment?  Because this episode is it.  I was able to scribble down one singular quote, which I believe was from Britta:  "I know what [an analogy] is! It's like a thought with another thought's hat on!"

So after the episode the panel came out for the discussion.  It included Harmon, two or three writers/producers, and the entire cast excepting Donald Glover and Chevy Chase.  During the Q&A somebody asked why Chevy never came to these things, which I thought was both rude and also wrong, because I've watched him on at least one of these panels before.  They were all like, "Uh, he does when he can.  He's busy.  He's Chevy Chase.  So rude! (words and emphasis mine)"  Basically the critic/moderator asked questions and people would answer them or just talk about whatever.  I'll admit, in the past I've been kind of bored by these types of panels, but what made this one so great is that everyone just used it as an opportunity to not only give a lot of love to the fans and share some cool behind-the-scenes tidbits with us, but also just to make a ton of jokes and be incredibly funny.  Danny Pudi and Ken Jeong were rocking it (I can only imagine what kind of fembot explosion I would have gone through had Donald Glover & his overwhelming hotness & mad improv skills been there), but Joel McHale was also totes killing it with his off-the-cuff one-liners and Jim Rash was/is (a) an amazing genius and (b) the toast of the theater/Internet, fresh off his Oscar win/successful mockery of Angelina Jolie.  This is where it became obvious that sitting up close was crucial.  While one person would be answering a question, somebody else would be telling a quiet joke to their neighbor, or, more often than not, doing a physical comedy bit, and the camera would miss it.  But not me!

Thursday, March 1, 2012


So, you may have noticed that I haven't really been doing the episode recapping like I used to. There are a few reasons for this; one, that recapping is totally a time drain because I have to watch the episode multiple times, and two, that I've been more interested in focusing on broader-picture stuff ever since the Glee Christmas episode brutally murdered the recapper in me. It's not that there aren't episodes that I'd love to talk about - I'm planning a post on this turbulent season of How I Met Your Mother in the coming weeks - I just often don't have the time or energy. But this week's episode of Modern Family was one of the worst of the entire series, and included all of my main issues with the show, so it will not be ignored and we're gonna talk about it RIGHT NOW. Because REALLY???!!! Try to at least pretend like you deserve all those awards.

To begin with, though, let's throw out a positive. One of my main complaints about Modern Family used to be Manny. He was so overly precocious and grossly sexualized and given waaaaaay too much screen time. This problem has been fixed this season (probably in response to critics, because I know I'm not the only one who felt this way), with Manny taking more of a backseat and acting more like a regular-yet-unique preteen. A good move on the writers' part, because it allows him to play the straight man against more insouciant characters like Luke and Gloria. So props are to be had for this adjustment.

And that is the only good thing I have to say.

Monday, February 27, 2012

All Things Community

COMMUNITY RETURNS MARCH 15TH!!!! I know, it's super-old (like 5 days) news, but I didn't feel like doing a whole post just for that, especially because the bummer part of the news is that it means Parks & Rec is off the air for six weeks. I don't understand why they won't just GET RID OF 30 ROCK because obviously no one likes it now because it isn't good anymore and also Tracy Morgan is The Worst and maybe if NBC actually supported the shows that EVERYONE LOVES they would have better ratings. And while The Office is clearly spiraling weirdly towards their series finale, things have gotten pretty dull over there (since when is GABE the best part of that show?) and every episode just makes me think of how much better everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) would have worked out if they had just ended the show when Michael Scott left. It's pretty ridiculous that they're still on the air. But anyway, COMMUNITY! RETURNS! MARCH 15th!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I Am Such A Nerd

This interview over at the AV Club with Bill Lawrence (creator of Spin City, Scrubs, and Cougar Town) is super excellent and totally worth a read. He talks about the evolution of Cougar Town and his experience working with the networks and about a lot of the stuff I was just discussing in The Community Conundrum about the obsolete nature of Nielson ratings and the ways in which television is changing. Maybe I'm just a huge television nerd, but it was one of the best interviews on the subject that I've read in a while.

Speaking of Cougar Town, I watched the whole series a few months ago and for the most part, really enjoyed it. It's a simple show about friendships and comedy and parenthood and wine, and I highly encourage anyone who has been put off by the name to not only go read that interview for Lawrence's explanation of its genesis, but also check out some episodes (maybe start at the second half of the first season if the cougar thing REALLY puts you off)! The cast is great (although lacking in diversity), the writing is solid, and overall the show is just irreverent and super fun. The first episode of the third season aired last night; go check it out! Or at least send Bill Lawrence a supportive tweet or two.

Monday, February 13, 2012

This Is An Excellent Idea

Have you been following The Best Sitcom Episode Ever Tournament over at SplitSider? I highly recommend doing so. The first round came out pretty much in my favor, with TWO episodes of Community making it through the juggernaut. Is Community ever not the greatest? The one heartbreaking decision I had to make was between Parks & Rec's "The Fight" and Arrested Development's "Pier Pressure"...if they had picked any other AD episode I might have been tempted to give it to "The Fight" because that episode is excellent and is responsible for THIS, but "Pier Pressure" deserves to win the entire tournament, it's a perfect episode from start to finish and is responsible for many of my favorite AD moments. I could quote you half the episode right now. Anyway, I highly recommend going over and voting because there are still plenty of shows that deserve to be eliminated (WKRP, Cheers, Sunny), and even more that need your votes to make it to the next round (Party Down, Friends, Community, The Simpsons)! I predict that the 21st Century bracket will come down to "Modern Warfare" and "Pier Pressure", and who knows what I'll do then, but if I had to pick two to go face to face in the final round, it'd be one of those two episodes (I just can't decide!) and Steve Guttenberg's Birthday, which is an incredible masterpiece of television art.

I love this game! It's so difficult! It's making me crazy! I love it! Go vote!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Community Conundrum

So, I've been watching Season 2 of Community for probably the fifth or sixth time, and it is still impossibly hard for me to understand just why this amazing show is not more successful. Oh, sure, you can point to the Dinner With Andre episode or the Hearts Of Darkness episode as examples of how esoteric the show can be, but for every episode like that, there are ten that are incredibly funny in a remarkably simple way. People constantly talk about how smart Community is, and they're right, but that's not the ONLY thing it is. It's not usually smart in the way that Arrested Development is smart - a sort of tricksy, dirty, pulling-one-over-on-the-censors kind of way (sometimes Community does do these kinds of jokes, and I love them, but that's not the point). Community's comedy is mostly just really funny, straight-up jokes. What differentiates it from other, non-mockumentary sitcoms like its timeslot competitor, The Big Bang Theory, is that Community's jokes are well-written. Awesomely-written, in fact. The writers and producers have a vision and a great deal of investment in their characters and they write incredible jokes for them. On top of that, Community has a stellar cast of comedians with some of the best improvisational skills, with Donald Glover leading the pack. Did you know "Set phasers to 'love me'" was an improv? He's stupendous. What makes people call Community "smart" is that they're simply not doing the same tired jokes that sitcoms have been doing for years. Once you scratch the surface, one Chuck Lorre sitcom is pretty much exactly the same as another - tired jokes about gender roles or fat people where glorified assholes are dicks to and then sleep with women much more attractive than they are. Throw in some thinly-veiled homophobia and you've got 83% of sitcoms on the air. Community's brand of comedy doesn't generally require the viewer to think or be knowledgeable about anything erudite or complicated - it just requires an openness to jokes that don't reinforce all the stupid, previously-constructed concept of what a sitcom is. Sitcoms don't have to all be "Men and women are so different! How will they ever get along in this crazy world? Also, don't get too close with that good friend of yours or people will think you're gay!" Community proves these shows can be silly, whimsical, creative, heartfelt, and, best of all, surprising, while still being continuously laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Um, WTF?

So last week, after being pretty proud of the piece I wrote in response to the Golden Globes about comedy awards, I submitted it to The Hairpin. Unlike Jezebel in its heydey (pre-2010), I don't like or read everything that's on the site, but a fair amount of it is pretty great and funny (especially The League Of Ordinary Ladies), and I think my voice could fit in well. Now, I didn't receive any sort of personalized response from them (just a boilerplate "we'll read your stuff and get back to you") and, while it would have been nice to at least hear SOMETHING, I wasn't really expecting for them to publish it because as a writer, you should never, ever expect that. Then last night, as I was catching up on my Hairpin reading, I saw this (posted on the 17th by Jane Marie):

Some people are mad at you because you're not really a comedic actress or something, and okay. But on to the real issue: YOU ARE THE BEST ON ENLIGHTENED and now it is official and not just a rule in my house. Amy, the character you play, is a living nightmare. I said it! Like, you really just want to duct tape her all up. Don't you leave that chair, Amy. And shut up! Don't say what you are about to... I KICK AT MY TELEVISION AND LOOSE A SQUEAL OF RAGE. For a mundane but infuriating example: don't tell your mom all about how you went over to your druggie ex-husband's house in the middle of the night and then get MAD at her, like literally throw a witchy tantrum because you are being personally violated, when she goes "Why?"
My skin crawls at you, Amy. It feels so good. You win, Laura. Incredible. Everyone go watch the whole thing and then let's all send Mike White care packages to keep him happy while he writes us another season.
And I am instantly frustrated. Because the point of my whole post (that the writer somehow both emphasizes and undermines) is that if Laura Dern is so great (and she is, I'm definitely not disputing that), then she should win a dramatic award for her (very obviously) DRAMATIC acting. Arguing that she should win a comedic award simply because she is good just continues this tradition of disrespecting comedy and misunderstanding female comedians.

Let me be very clear: I really love Enlightened, and I've been a Mike White fan since he was a writer on Dawson's Creek. But it is absolutely not a comedy. If the dramatic awards go to dramas, and the comedic awards go to dramas, where does that leave comedy? I continue to be irritated, and not only because Jane Marie flippantly dismissed the well-supported premise of my entire piece with the argument of "But I like her!". This has got to change somehow, and it's not going to unless enough people make some noise. But The Hairpin's noise is, in this case, just another part of the problem.

Boo, sadface. I will console myself with tonight's episode of Parks & Rec.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I feel like Alcatraz should always be pronounced the way that Gob Bluth pronounces Michael's name when he thinks he's escaping to Portugal down ol' South America way: "Michael!"

Monday, January 16, 2012

Dramedy Awards?

I know, it's been FOREVER. And it's not even that I've been doing anything (though I kind of have), but there just hasn't been too much to write about. And now! There's SO MUCH! So let's get to it.

Reading over the Golden Globe winners from last night, I've finally realized why I get crazy annoyed when actors from drama-driven, possibly-slightly-humorous shows win comedy awards. It's not just that these shows shouldn't be considered "comedies" since their main goal isn't humor - I fully think shows like Nurse Jackie, The Big C, Breaking Bad, and Enlightened should be considered dramas, regardless of their running time. And then, sure, if those actors stand up to the actors in the drama category (and they will, since they are all highly regarded actors and those shows are all great), then give them all of those awards. But to give an award for comedic acting to, say, Laura Dern for her role as Amy Jellicoe in Enlightened where she is many, many things - cruel, crazy, introspective, pained, blithe, and lazy being just a few - but is not and is not meant to be particularly funny...that straight-up devalues the art of comedy.