Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Empire

If we made a “Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already Bingo” – and Holy Netflix, why haven’t we? – then Empire would have a full board. Empire is a musical drama about the family of music moguls and artists behind Empire Enterprises, a fictional hip-hop label. None of those key words appeal to you? Don’t worry.  Empire has so many of our favorite tv show qualities and characteristics that I can’t think of too many people who wouldn’t like it. It has a classic television series premise (we’ll explain!), family struggles, fancy people – who used to be underdogs, if you’re the sort who hates fancy people, music, few enough episodes that you can catch up in a weekend, and 90s flashbacks. Okay? Okay. Let’s discuss that bingo card.

Classic Pilot Premise

Maybe none of your favorite TV series are about hip-hop dynasties, but you don’t have to be into the genre, you just have to like a good television drama. One of the classic tv series premises is the “shake up”: the pilot introduces a shift in circumstances for the characters, and the series progresses as people try to deal with it. I’m going to do this without giving out much info beyond the first episode. Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard) is the CEO of Empire Entertainment. Two of his sons are artists on the label: singer-songwriter Jamal (Jussie Smollett) and rapper Hakeem (Bryshere Y. Gray). His third son, Andre, is the company CFO. Lucious is diagnosed with ALS, and he has to decide which of his sons will take over the label. Probably not Jamal, because he’s gay and Lucious can’t deal, but who knows? So that’s shake up, Part I. Shake up part II: The boys’ mother, Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), is released from prison after 17 years and wants her piece of the Empire pie.

Biblical Family Struggles

Which child will be favored? Will the fight for their father’s blessing tear the brothers apart? And what happens when one parent chooses one child as a favorite, and the other parent favors a different child? It’s a family dynamic tug-of-war that’s as old as the Bible, and it makes for great television.

Fancy People

I like my television aspirational. Even when a series is about lower or middle-class folks, I want their clothes and house to be nicer than my own. Like, I wasn’t one of those people who was furious that Monica could never have afforded that apartment in Friends. What can I say, if I want to look at mall clothes and Ikea furniture, I can see them anytime I want. The Lyon family is totally loaded, and they’re in Hip Hop, so conspicuous consumption is the name of the game. Palatial estates, fur coats, a gold chain as thick as my hair braid … that’s what television is for. Lucious is partially inspired by Jay-Z, if that gives you an idea.

But maybe you disagree. Maybe you hate “rich people” (hi, Dad, didn’t know you read my blog). The Lyons rose from humble origins, and if the Jay-Z reference meant anything to you, you see where this is going – Lucious is a former drug dealer, which is what landed Cookie in prison.

Hip Hop

I know, I said you didn’t have to like hip hop to like Empire. And you don’t. But if you do like hip hop, you should definitely be watching. Just about every episode has amazing musical performances. Jamal has a gorgeous voice, Hakeem is a solid rapper and most of his songs are collaborations with other great artists, and the original songs are actually good. Since it’s a show about the music industry, the transition to song is pretty seamless. It’s not like a musical where everyone is talking and then decides to rap-battle their family meeting (I would watch that though). It’s not hokey. Think more Nashville, less Smash.

90s Flashbacks

If there’s one thing a tv series needs to be truly zeitgeist-y, it’s 90s stuff. Counterintuitive, but you know it’s true. Cookie was arrested 17 years ago, and there are plenty of flashbacks that take us back into the world of Empire during that time. For those of us who grew up on 90s hip hop and R&B, it’s a dream come true. [We also think you should be watching Fresh Off The Boat, another 2015 series with a fondness for 90s hip hop. What a time to be alive.] All I can do is hope that as the episodes go on, we’ll get to delve into the East Coast/ West Coast feud.

Speaking of the 90s, you may recognize Jamal from the 1990s series On Our Own, where he played an orphan growing up with his J-named siblings (sis Jurnee Smollett is one of those actresses that you definitely know, even if you think you don’t). He was also in Mighty Ducks. 90s royalty, is all I’m saying.

And You Can Watch It All Over A Weekend

There are a lot of shows I know I should be watching if I’m not already, but it’s just too hard. If there’s more than a season or so, you aren’t just deciding to start a show, you’re making a massive time commitment. But Empire just started in January, and as of right now, you can watch all of the back episodes online or on demand. Once you’re all caught up – so, by tonight if you have a free and clear schedule today, and by next week for sure, unless you have a busy weekend – you need to be watching this show. It airs on Wednesdays on Fox. The more people who watch it, the more people we have to discuss it with, so thanks in advance.

 

When Binge-Watching Isn’t a Choice

The third season of House of Cards was plopped into millions of Netflix accounts on Friday, and many people began a weekend of binge-watching the Underwoods as they

*SPOILER ALERT FOR SEASON 2 FINALE*

…prepared to become the President and First Lady of the United States.

As I begun my travels to this messed up version of DC, I could only remember two things about what happened last season – that Frank became President, and Stamper got beat up. You can attribute this lack of memory to the fact that I can barely remember what I did yesterday or that sometimes I tend to not pay attention to what’s happening, but mostly, I think you can blame it on the fact that I wanted to watch the second season as fast as possible as to not get any spoilers.

I hate spoilers. Spoilers are the worst. I’ve had arguments IRL about this, and while I understand why people who like to get spoiled (e.g. will this person get killed? I need to mentally prepare), I am 100 percent on the side of not getting spoiled at all. For me, television is an escape. Escape from my daily, boring life, into places like corrupt D.C., or Pawnee or Scranton or 1960s New York City, or Stars Hollow. I treat the characters in the shows as if they’re real, and like real life, I don’t want to know what’s going to happen next. That’s the half the excitement. If I know I’m going to get fired on Friday, I will be worried every single second waiting for that moment where my boss takes me into his office and gives me the bad news. If someone is going to be unexpectedly proposed to at the end of a Halloween episode, I would much rather be surprised than anticipate the moment where he gets down on one knee, because, romance.

I watched Guardians of the Galaxy for the first time on Saturday (I know), and I had seen the GIFs of dancing baby Groot on Tumblr, and was expecting him to show up at any minute. So when the thing happens towards the end and then later dancing Groot appears, it didn’t have the same impact on me as I imagine it did for a lot of people. This is why I hate spoilers.

But with a Netflix show like House of Cards, everyone is watching it at a different pace. There’s no one episode a week, like traditional television. It’s 13 episodes put at your fingertips and watch at your own will.

Last year, I went to the ATX Festival in Austin, which is a weekend-long event for TV fans (we’re going together this June, so look out for that!). I went to a panel called #SpoilerAlert, and among the panelists were executive producer Beau Willimon from House of Cards and Netflix social media rep Eric Pallotta.

*ANOTHER SPOILER ALERT FOR EPISODE 1 OF SEASON 2 OF HOC**

Eric talked about how when season 2 dropped at 12am, they were tracking what was happening on social media in regards to the show – what topics fans were talking about, and what they were responding to. He said that around the 12:10am/10 minute mark (or whatever time The Train Incident happened), they noticed a huge spike in viewers’ tweets, reacting to Zoe’s sudden demise. However, most of the tweets didn’t read, “Z0MG FRANK JUST PUSHED ZOE IN FRONT OF A MOVING TRAIN AND THEN WALK AWAY RULLL CASUAL”, it was more like, “OMG” or “DID THAT JUST HAPPEN” or “emoji of a train #HouseOfCards”. There’s an unspoken language amongst binge-watchers, especially among the Netflix community, that lets other people know something big just happened, but also to show you’re in the know and hip because you’re watching HOC.

So, here we are. It’s been a few days since season three was available to view, and there are some who finished on Saturday, some who are close to finishing, and some who probably won’t get to it until the next free weekend they’re not doing brunch. According to Variety, two percent of all Netflix subscribers binge-watched House of Cards in the first weekend season two was released. That doesn’t seem like a big number, but that’s still a lot of folks who did nothing but watch HoC all weekend.

At what point is it socially acceptable to start talking about the monsters and aliens that take over Frank’s body and the White House (JK that doesn’t happen. OR DOES IT). Is two weeks enough time to even start talking about the first half? I’m always in awe of the folks who manage to avoid spoilers. I mean, it’s nearly impossible to not get spoiled these days. Merely watching other programs leads to getting spoiled on other shows (see: SNL sketch from Saturday about being Brave and the Breaking Bad finale). For me, with the nature of my job, I have to be on top of everything that happens in entertainment the minute it occurs, so usually, waiting to see a movie or watch a series finale months later is not an option. Bless the people who can live their lives without even the threat of being spoiled. But also, I am torn with the option of making season three last as long as possible. If I timed it as if I was watching a regular TV show, this experience could last me the next four-ish months! Maybe I’ll actually remember more details of what happens come season four when I can’t decide to binge or not to binge.

But right now, I am already more than halfway through this season of HOC, so I’m clearly opting to go the binge route and not be spoiled. I’ve backed myself into a corner of fitting as many HOC episodes I can in a day in order to beat the clock of spoils. Mr. Underwood has given me no choice BUT to binge – I guess television is like real life, isn’t it Frank?

Internet Holes I’ve Fallen Down

In the internet age, we are all Baby Jessica. For the youths: Baby Jessica was an American baby who fell down a well in 1987. It was international news for days as a crack team tried to extract her. She is actually older than me, and fell down the well long before I formed working memories, but it was still a common reference throughout my childhood. It’s fine now; she’s fine now. Anyway, we’re all Baby Jessica in that we’ll probably all be briefly famous, probably for a youthful misstep. And we are ALSO all Baby Jessica in that at any time, in any place, any of us is probably stuck at the bottom of a deep hole – an internet hole.

An internet hole is what happens when you start looking up one thing and end up in a spiral of online research on something entirely different. You land on some wacky website, and before you know it you have fallen down a well of Wikipedia entries, abandoned forums and personal webpages. Hang on tight, Jessica. We’ve all been there, and here are a few of mine.

Baby Jessica

I mean. How else do you think I had working knowledge of this one baby who had broke her arm 28 years ago? I fell down it just today, and it perfectly illustrates how these web spirals go down. Here was my thought process:

1) Speaking of writing about “falling down a hole” … hey, remember Baby Jessica?

2) Google Baby Jessica, read Wiki summary.

3) Develop a need to see Baby Jessica throughout her life; re-Google Baby Jessica and access the image results.

4) Spend possibly too long weighing whether two days in a well as a baby is worth receiving a million-dollar trust fund at 25. I think it would be. Who even remembers being a baby, anyway?

Honestly, ANYBODY Who Was A Little Famous As A Child

We all know that nobody stays a child forever. But there’s something so fascinating about seeing people you haven’t seen since you were a kid, stretched out by a foot with their features morphed onto adult faces. This is the only reason you accepted that Facebook request with that girl you haven’t seen since second grade. It’s sort of amazing knowing these people as kids, then realizing that they’ve lived lives parallel to yours for decades since then. It’s the same way with famous people your age. I already know what happened to folks like Lindsay Lohan and the Olsen Twins, but you really can fall into an internet hole with those famous kids who disappeared into everyday lives. Just a few:

– The Dilley Sextuplets and McCoughey Septuplets. Before John and Kate, these litters were featured on Dateline and 20/20 type shows regularly. They’re all grown up now. It’s fascinating.

– JonBenet Ramsey’s brother (more on that later).

– The girl from the Missy Elliot video (who made the news again a few weeks ago!).

– Swan Brooner and Leslie Butler, the two little girls from an early 2000s child pageant documentary, before the age of Toddlers and Tiaras.

– Various participants of The 1900 House, a PBS reality series about a family who lived in an Edwardian row house as though it were the turn of the 20th century.

Stay At Home Daughters

We’ve mentioned our perverse fascination with the Duggars and their whole Quiverfull movement. One of the most interesting aspects of this subculture is the Stay At Home Daughter. These are young – and sometimes not-really-young-at-all – ladies who live with their parents until they get married. At first glance you’re probably like “student loans, tough economic times, post-recession America, no big deal,” right? Wrong. They are typically not allowed to go to college and most don’t work outside the home so that they aren’t subjected to bad influences. Their dad is in charge until they get married, when these gals become the captains of their fates! Haha just kidding. Then their husbands take over. These girls are most interesting from a sartorial sense. Lots of jumpers and improbably long hair, sack-like dresses, etc. Then, there’s also a whole coven of them that dress almost normal. Many of them spend their days helping to homeschool younger sibs.

The great thing about stay-at-home daughters is that a lot of them have blogs – like a stay-at-home mom blog, without the kids. Also, a lot of them are friends with each other, so if you find one central SAHD, you basically have the keys to the kingdom. I wasn’t reading to make fun of them, it’s more like I just couldn’t look away and it was hard to fathom people growing up in the same place and time as me in such a different way.

This also led into a tangential search about Purity Balls. It’s worth a Wiki view.

Fads Of Different Time Periods

By the time you’re in even your early 20s, you’ve lived through some doozies of collective pop culture madness. I say this as someone who spent some fifth grade bank on some of the GOOD Beanie Babies, the ones you’d put in that little clear coffin, like that purple bear you were supposed to buy to remind you of Princess Diana. It’s not like these trends started in the 90s; it’s been centuries of this madness.

So, looking up fads of the 1920s, I learned all about flagpole sitting and phone booth stuffing, eventually causing me to check a nonfiction book about flappers out of the library – Flapper by Joshua Zeitz; worth a read if you are at all interested in the subject. Or how about 1970s? Pet rocks and lava lamps, but also Laura Ingalls and string art.

True Crime

Oh, shoot. This is where internet holes get dark and disturbing. You will read the most horrific things, but the more you learn, the more theories and psychological analysis and sociological commentary you find that you need. If you don’t believe me, spend 10 minutes googling the JonBenet Ramsey case. If that doesn’t do it, start reading about the appeals of the Charles Manson killers. Then there are those teen girl killers from the 1950s who became the subject of the Kate Winslet film Heavenly Creatures. Or 1910s model Evelyn Nesbit and the Thaw-White case. How about Leopold and Loeb, these awful rich kids from the 1920s? I tend to gloss over how these crimes went down, but I’m interested in the “why” and also in what happened after – did the killers reform and live a long life, get granted new identities and settle into obscurity, or die in jail shortly after?

Time Slips

There are all of these (probably fishy) stories about people who seemingly slipped into the past for a while, even though they were geographically in the same spot. If you were ever into Charlotte Sometimes or A Wrinkle In Time, or just wondered what it would be like to wake up in your same bedroom decades in the past, you just need to let yourself tumble down the Time Slip internet hole.

Abandoned Buildings

All you need to do is enter those two words in a search engine and you’ll be stuck at the bottom of the internet for hours. Try to come up for air sometime between the lost mansions of Detroit and the ruins of Chernobyl. These places are like above-ground Titanic wrecks, and god bless the brave souls who took cameras into them, safety and legality aside.

Illuminati

The only thing I really ever knew about the illuminati is that they were supposed to like the shape triangle, and that Beyonce is supposed to be one. That’s still all I’ve really scraped together, but it’s still good for 45 minutes clicking through Wikipedia and blog links.

Unsolved Mysteries

No, not the show that I watched every day as a child even though the theme music alone sent chills up my spine. Things that nobody has figured out, but that a lot of internet weirdos have ideas about. JFKs murder, Amelia Earhart’s plane, and Atlantis are just a few that you probably shouldn’t start looking up unless you have a strong Wifi signal and a free afternoon.

ICYMI: I Want To Cry More So I’m Rehydrating

Well folks, it’s over. Our friends in Pawnee are off living their lives without the cameras and us to follow their every move. But it’s okay, because we know they’re okay, even in the future. And we left with so much more knowledge than we could ever ask for.

5,000 Candles in the Wind: Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Parks and Recreation

We’ve come a long way since the pit. From Lil Sebastian to Champion, Rent A Swag to Entertainment 720, waffles to bacon, 2009 to 2017, there was a lot to love about Parks and Recreation. And tonight, we’ll say a goodbye that’s more sad than the Lil Sebastian farewell concert or Ann’s move to Michigan. Parks had a lot going for it: the best actors and writers in comedy, critical acclaim and a loyal fan base. But above all, it had more heart than any other sitcom on the air. The show’s outlook was overwhelmingly positive, and its protagonist was a hard worker with total loyalty to her town, her career and her friends. We learned more from Parks and Recreation than we have from any show since Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers. Dare we say? Everything we need to know we learned from Parks and Recreation.

Ovaries Before Brovaries

Again, file under: priorities. Parks is about the relationships between a wide net of coworkers, friends, and significant others. If Ben came along and it was The Leslie And Ben Show from that point on, there wouldn’t be much reason to watch. Leslie’s not the sort to get into a relationship and write off her friends. So, the “uteruses before duderuses” approach can be broadened into “don’t forget about your friends just because of relationship stuff.”

There’s also the great way Leslie is supportive of her lady friends, even when it’s tough. It wasn’t easy to accept Ann moving away, but Leslie encouraged her to do what was best for her family. And rather than get jealous that April was moving up in her career, Leslie helped facilitate the move. Leslie knows one of the greatest secrets in life – which is also one of our lessons from Parks and Recreation: when the members of your “team” succeed – whether it’s your friends, family, or coworkers – then that’s your success, too.

Don’t Write The Concession Speech

In one of my classrooms growing up, there was a poster that said “Failure To Plan Is Planning To Fail.” But I also say that “Planning To Fail Is Planning To Fail.” School decor aside, it’s important to not behave as though the worst is going to happen. Ben doesn’t write a concession speech, because he doesn’t think that losing is a possible outcome.

Or maybe the better lesson is this: surround yourself with people who will think that you won’t need the concession speech. Maybe Leslie wouldn’t have won if her circle was full of people who assumed she wouldn’t succeed. Fill your life with the Bens to your Leslie: people who expect you to win, even more than you do yourself.

Be a Good Person

When Leslie realizes her job is at stake because of her romantic relationship with Ben (and the fact that they bribed the maintenance guy during Lil Sebastian’s funeral to keep quiet), Leslie thinks it’s all over for her. But Ron, in his vast font of knowledge, reminds her that despite the fact she did a frowned upon/illegal thing, it doesn’t make her a bad person. I think this show overall has taught us that there is good in this world, and you can be part of bringing that to real life. Parks never puts anyone down, it inspires and encourages us to be better. We’re human. We make mistakes. But it’s what happens after the fact that shows our true character.

Inspire Yourself

Speaking of being inspirational, while Leslie Knope herself is a great inspiration to us all, she also remind us that often times, the best person to encourage you is yourself. I don’t think Leslie would be half the leader she is today if she never thought she could do it. Yeah, she has to remind herself at times she can reach her goals (“Hey Leslie. It’s Leslie. Hang in there. I love you. Bye.”) Sure, you can have people like Ben around you believing in you and not writing concession speeches, but when Leslie walked out on the stage and gave the speech (as seen above a few paragraphs), she was ultimately the one to give the impassioned statement. No one fed her lines, she went with her gut and her gut made her win.


Still in deep denial Parks is over for good? Feel free to reference this handy grief model to cope with all the feels. PS: If you missed the rest of our 5,000 Candles in the Wind series, check it out here!!

TV Marathoning: 5 Steps of Grief (The Taylor-Bartlet model)

In a world where we can easily access DVDs, DVR and Netflix, it makes it so much easier to watch a TV series for hours on end, lending itself to the highest form of laziness. In the moment, you think it’s worth it, but is it really?

For me, TV marathoning began in college, when a few of my friends and I decided to spend an entire day devoted to a whole season of Friends. We were/are fanatics of the show, so it’s not like we needed to watch it, but it’s the experience of watching it together with, ahem, friends, that makes it 10 times better. We called it a Friendstravaganza, and literally played episodes non stop all day, only stopping to get take out for dinner.

That was the beginning of the end, because I’m pretty sure the Friendstravaganza taught me how to watch TV all day. In fact, I made it a goal to use this new found skill to catch up on series that I’ve been meaning to watch but haven’t seen yet. My roommates and I even made a list of all the series we aimed to watch. In the past few years, I’ve been able to cross off Veronica Mars, Grey’s Anatomy, Six Feet Under, Friday Night Lights, Arrested Development, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Homeland, and a bunch more.

Here is the original 2011 (?) version of the TV list. Crossed off 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, and 11. Plus 1 and 2 from the Catch up column. Here’s the newest version, if you’re still reading this.

I recently finished all seven seasons of The West Wing, thanks to Netflix Instant. A personal best, I managed to watch 155 episodes in 26 days. That’s about 1/7th of my month dedicated to President Bartlet and co. And as my beloved Tim Riggins would say, No Regrets.

But finishing The West Wing got me thinking, that just like Riggins and FNL, I found myself wanting to watch the last few episodes, but not wanting it to ever end. I was heading towards the usual post-show withdrawal and depression. In fact, with FNL, I immediately purchased all five seasons on DVD and watched the first season like a week after I finished the whole series.

Which got me thinking: post- TV marathoning is just like the five stages of grief, also known as the Kubler-Ross model. Except for entertainment purposes, I’ll call it the Taylor-Bartlet model. Let me explain.

**West Wing spoilers ahead**

1) Denial — “I feel fine.”; “This can’t be happening, not to me. Not to this show.”; “There’s gotta be more episodes, obviously.” ; “How can I go another day without watching another sexual tension filled episode of Josh and Donna moments?”

2) Anger — “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame for this show ending? NBC? Of course.”; “I want to know what happened to Moira Kelly’s horrible character, and now we’ll NEVER find out.”; “Why was Sam not at Leo’s funeral?? Come AWN Rob Lowe!”; “DID ZOEY MOVE TO DC TO BE WITH CHARLIE WHILE HE’S STUDYING AT GEORGETOWN TO BE A LAWYER LIKE HIS SOON-TO-BE FATHER-IN-LAW (I’M ASSUMING)??”

3) Bargaining — “I’ll do anything for another season, maybe Pres. Bartlet at his New Hampshire farm, driving Abbey crazy because he can’t smoke?”; “I will give my life savings if I can watch Toby’s kid Huck and CJ and Danny’s daughter get married”; “If only Aaron Sorkin came back for just one last half season and make a Two Cathedrals finale part two?”; “Ok, what if I rewatch season one in its entirety, that’s like a whole new revamped WW, seeing as it’s been weeks since I last saw it”

4) Depression — “I’m so upset that I never caught on to WW sooner.” “Nothing will be this good, why bother with any other show?”; “I miss Mrs. Landingham, why go on?”; “There will never be a series like this ever again. I’m looking at you, Newsroom.”; “No, it’s totally normal for me to be crying and laughing and eating ice cream while watching this reunion video, and this and this.”

5) Acceptance — “In hindsight, I’m just thankful Netflix finally decided to put it on instant so I could watch the entire series at a rapid pace.”; “It ended on a good note, so there’s really no where else to go with it. I’ll just watch the Parks and Rec episode with Bradley Whitford doing a walk and talk, now”; “It’s going to be okay. I still haven’t watched The Wire”

I’m pretty sure I’m still in stage one of TV Marathoning grief, so if you need me, I’ll be on tumblr reblogging gifs and photosets of Josh and Donna’s relationship.

Saturday Spotlight: What Color Llama? Capture The Dress?

If you’re reading our weekly post summary, I’m going to guess that you maybe weren’t around the internet this week. So, let me fill you in: some llamas ran away but were caught by a human. An ugly dress looked gold and white to some people, and black and blue to others.

And we all lost our damn marbles.

In the interest of full disclosure, the dress looked white to me at first then looked blue the next day. So I guess the lesson is this: never form an opinion. If you do, never speak it publicly. Whatever you think, you’re probably wrong.

Now that that’s out of the way … if you missed the llamas and the dress, you probably missed our posts, too. Read on to see what we wrote, and if you like what you see click on the title for the full post:

Continue reading

The Day The Internet Had No Chill

Thursday was a DAY, y’all. So, as you’re reading this blog, I think it’s pretty clear that we are fans of the Internet. The Internet has been good to us. It’s connected us with you fine people. It brings us GIFs. It tells us facts in seconds that would’ve taken forever to look up in Encyclopedia Britannica. But yesterday was a day for the record books (Google books?)

It all started in the afternoon when two llamas went on the run in Sun City, Arizona. On the real, according to AzCentral, and I quote, “The llamas were participating in animal therapy at an assisted living facility when they escaped. Authorities believe the llamas got spooked when the door to the trailer they had arrived in opened. They said there was a third llama in the trailer, but it did not escape.”

Thanks to a local news affiliate’s live video feed (#bless), the whole world was able to watch these two run freely in the world for about a 20-minute chase as handlers tried their best to wrangle them.

TBH, I showed up to the party late and couldn’t stay long, as my job doesn’t really allow me to enjoy nice things, so I had to quickly catch up and figure out what was happening. But by the time I entered the #LlamaDrama, there were already a ton of memes floating around. It’s stuff like this that the Internet was made for. We are at are best when we all have to make comments on a ridiculous thing. Here are some of what the Internet folks came up with.

My personal favorite:

When they incorporated the llamas with Balloon Boy. REMEMBER BALLOON BOY??

When someone had to speak the damn truth:

When I will laugh at a pun joke even if it’s not that funny (this one’s funny):

When they brought in Bri Willy:
When they incorporated a meme from the Super Bowl:

When CNN LIT’RALLY INTERVIEWED A CELEBRITY LLAMA NAMED PIERRE:

Was that enough excitement for one day? NOPE. Just a few hours later, a girl took to the Internet for advice on a dress someone was considering to buy, and they sent a pic of it asking if it was black and blue or white and gold. Tumblr first went crazy, as they are wont to do, and it then spread to the rest of social media. It soon became a war. Bloodshed. Lives ruined. People actually breaking up. Friendships torn apart. It was a gruesome scene. Even the local news here covered it. Literally the LA news station showed a picture of the dress and asked what color it was. LA NEWS IS NOT REAL NEWS. But I digress.

On Tumblr, GIFs and stills from TV shows were obviously used.

peggy-carter:

i went to work for six hours and come back to tumblr and my ENTIRE DASH is this dress thing and finally i understand that community gif on a spiritual level

goopypaltrow:

it’s not black/blue, nor is it white/gold.  It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

 

halpertjames:

I have never felt more like Jim Halpert in my life.

But the best responses came from Twitter.

Of course there’s already a Twitter account for The Dress

And celebrities, who obviously got in on the action. Even Taylor Swift chimed in. Honestly, if Oprah and/or Beyonce tweeted or Instagramed about it it would have been game over.

By FAR, Mindy Kaling had the best response to #TheDress. She was up in arms about it, staying strong in her #BlackandBlue stance, as only Mindy could. It’s exactly the type of response I expected from her, but I am obsessed with just how far she went. Her annoyance got increasingly more dramatic and I feel like she should probably just put this in her show now.

^^same^^

If you missed our tweet last night, we gave our two cents too:

 But what we really need is some perspective, courtesy of the rainbow infused space unicorn:

For the record, the folks at Buzzfeed (who started this who viral mess) tracked down the girl who first posted about the dress, and she says it’s black and blue. It’s all about lighting, y’all. Either way, whatever team you’re on – #WhiteandGold, #BlackandBlue, #LlamasOnTheRun, #LeftShark, it’s good to know we can all collectively #BreakTheInternet without actually baring our butts.

What a time to be alive.

First In Friendship: Small-Town Shows To Watch After Parks And Recreation

I haven’t been able to rewatch the Parks and Recreation finale yet. Part of it is because I’m just not ready to cry again just yet. And a bigger part  is that I’m busy. I’m not someone who treats busy as a four-letter word, even though it can have a negative connotation. Maybe we should start calling it something cuter, like “bustling,” or positive, like “engrossed.”  It’s good to be involved; Leslie Knope would be proud.

But even when you don’t have a lot of free time, it’s easy to feel a tv show-sized hole when one of your favorites gets cancelled. That was especially true of Parks, a half-hour (or hour, thanks NBC) oasis every week. When you’re busy – and honestly, I hardly know anyone who doesn’t qualify as such – you need those little breaks in your day or week. If you’re missing those 30-60 minutes in Pawnee every week, here’s what to watch next:

Parks And Recreation

I mean, again. Watch it again. Now that we know what happens to everybody, take it back to the beginning! Not every show holds up well on a rewatch. Sometimes those “off” seasons are too painful or your favorite character started off awesome and became terrible. I mean I’m still mourning for Season 1 Joey Potter. But Parks is a show that doesn’t have any of those pitfalls … well, it did have a lot of falling into pits for a while, but they filled it in and everyone moved on. Parks and Recreation did character development better than any other show. It’s so fun to watch bratty college April knowing that there was a hard-working go-getter in there all along, or tough cookie Ron Swanson before he had a wife and kids. Or Ben Wyatt, back when he seemed like Public Enemy Number One. So, my first suggestion for what to do after you finish watching Parks and Recreation is to watch it again.

One of the best things about Parks was getting to know all of the wacky residents of Pawnee and feel the sometimes stifling warmth of small-town life. Most t.v. shows are either set in major metropolises – and at that, it’s usually just New York or L.A. Or, it’s in a tiny town. You don’t get a lot of shows set in actual cities that are less acclaimed, like Toledo or Tucsan. If it’s small-town TV you want, we can find that for you. Once you’ve rewatched Parks, here are the next series you should check out:

For an endearing small town: Gilmore Girls

You can’t watch this without wanting to move to Stars Hollow so that you can buy coffee from Luke, take dance lessons from Miss Patti, and plan a weird event with Kirk. Like Pawnee, there are people you love, people you hate, and places you’ll come to know like they’re from your own hometown.

For an innocent small town: The Andy Griffith Show

But not too much Andy Griffith Show. It’s a television masterpiece but it can also get a little hokey in large doses. However, if you’ve never watched it you might be surprised by how fun and quirky it is. If you grew up on classic TV, Griffith is like a half-hour of childhood. Or your dad or grandpa’s childhood, if you grew up on modern TV.

For an April Ludgate-worthy small town: Welcome To Nightvale

Guys, it’s a podcast, not a tv show. You just have to trust me. It’s about the happenings in a spooky yet hilarious town, with idiosyncrasies to rival Pawnee. It’s one of those shows you just have to listen to to understand.

For a dramatic small town: Twin Peaks

Yes, it’s a drama about Poor Dead Laura Palmer. But the second the log lady shows up, you know that you’re dealing with something a bit more wacky than your typical network drama. Twin Peaks is a small town withs dark side, but there’s also teen drama and the requisite diner.

For a heartwarming small town: Friday Night Lights

If you watched Parks and Recreation, listened to the Tim Riggins references, and didn’t get it, I’m jealous of you. That means you haven’t seen Friday Night Lights yet and still get to watch it for the first time. If you’re one of those people who thinks “football? GROSS. Texas? NEVER” then this is the show for you. It’s about football but it’s about life. And Tami Taylor is like Leslie Knope if Leslie Knope got married young, worked in education, and lived in Texas. Guaranteed, you’ll change that “Texas Never” into a “Texas Forever” by the end of season one.

 For a small town that’s not actually a small town: Parenthood

All right, the Bravermans don’t live in a small town, but you never see evidence of where they live, anyway. The Bravermans are sort of a small town unto themselves. Like Parks, it’s a show about the people you love who also drive you crazy.

#RIP: The Oddity of Celebrity Deaths

As I write this, it’s moments after the Parks and Recreation series finale. The episode left me, like many of you fans out there too, laughing and crying and alternating between the two. It’s a bittersweet moment as we say one final bye bye to one of the best TV shows ever to exist. I’m so, so glad with the way it ended, but in a weird place knowing it’s never coming back again.

It became even more bittersweet with the end card that read “We love you, Harris. – The Parks Crew”, a note I had been anticipating yet was just as teary-eyed upon seeing it. For those that might not know, this was a dedication to Harris Wittels, a co-executive producer, writer, and guest actor (Harris the animal control guy) on the show, who died last Thursday from a suspected drug overdose. He was 30 years old.

*This post gets deep. You’ve been warned.

I work in entertainment news. It is lit’rally my job to be on the “pulse” of what’s happening in the industry, so when my boss sent me the email of a news alert from TMZ with the headline “Parks and Rec Exec Harris Wittels Found Dead Signs of Overdose” and asked me to write it up, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I felt my heart drop a little. I remember having to read it multiple times to make sure I was comprehending correctly, and was kind of sick to my stomach after realizing it was real life. I checked online to see if anyone was talking about it yet, and slowly, then at all once, I saw “#RIP” and “so sad ::emoji sad face with tear::” sprinkled throughout my social media timelines. While social media condolences often seem contrite and insincere at times, I was especially moved to see his name trending worldwide, only because, forgive me, I just didn’t realize that many people were familiar with his work.

I didn’t know Harris personally. Of course, I was a fan of his through Parks, and I was a fan of his through his Comedy Bang Bang episodes, particularly of the ever ridiculous Farts and Procreation series. One thing we did have in common is that we went to the same college. He graduated two years before me, and while I didn’t know him then, Facebook tells me that we have mutual friends, that my former RA was his close pal, and that we both went to the same beloved study abroad program. Something to know about the school we went to is that it’s fairly small, with around 3,500 undergrads. There’s a joke that we’re part of a “mafia”, especially in places like LA and New York, because most kids who graduate go on to work in film, TV, theater, industries of that nature. Because there are so many alums in the entertainment industry, it’s one of those things where you’ll no doubt meet a fellow mafioso at a job you’re applying for or at a random party, and they’re most likely willing to help fellow grads out with a job or interview. When Harris died, I wasn’t just seeing randoms pay tribute to him online, I was seeing people I knew in real life. I got an email from the school career services center (because they send out job listings and LA events and stuff), with a note from one of the professors who counted Harris as one of his students, and who I knew from working with on an event back in the day.

In the email, he recalls how kind Harris was to the students in his classes, how he skyped in several times to answer questions about comedy or writing, and willingly gave out his email address for kids to contact them if they needed advice or help with a script. Mafia. Harris’ death hit a little closer to home for me than some, but I still didn’t know him, I’ve never met him, I didn’t know what he was like as a person.

But in the age where we listen to Comedy Bang Bang podcasts and watch TV shows like Parks and easily connect to people on Twitter and receive instant responses via Humblebrag, we feel like we do know them. We treat their death like they were our friend, our family, because they have been inside our homes, our cars, our headphones for years.

I don’t think I’ve ever been truly upset about a celebrity death until Cory Monteith. I was kind of a Gleek circa season 1 and 2, but, like many other fans, that petered off towards the end. I even went to one of their CD signings for the first soundtrack and got to meet Cory. It was brief. He had a huge smile. Had kind eyes. Very nice. But, again, I didn’t know him. He wasn’t my friend. But for some reason, when my friend told me the news of his sudden death – I can remember it so vividly – I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. I couldn’t believe it. Watching the episode of The Quarterback where they say goodbye to him – forget it. I ugly cried through 98% of that. But what kept circling back in my mind is that Cory was a teen idol. There were tweens and teens out there who had posters of him up on their wall, and suddenly they find out he died from a drug overdose? The only thing I could compare it to would be if a member of BSB passed away from alcohol poisoning back in 1999. I would have been completely devastated and unable to properly cope with my feelings.

In addition, we live in a world where we not only feel like we spend so much time with celebrities in the privacy of our own homes, we now have the ability to reach out to them in a form that’s not a fan letter sent to some random Post Office Box on Santa Monica Boulevard. Kids these days have Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat. The chances of Harry Styles or Ariana Grande or Cory Monteith replying to your declaration of love or fan art is 10 times higher than me getting a signed autographed headshot of Leo DiCaprio in 1997. Celebrities just connect with people in such a different way now that we actually have evidence to prove that the delusional friendship might actually be… real.

And similarly, there are a handful of really important and powerful celebrities whose star status is enough for us to come together and agree that their body of work is worth praising. We had it with Robin Williams, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson in recent years. In the wake of their sudden deaths, we saw an outpouring of condolences and #RIPs for these people that most of us had never even come face to face with. But they were a part of our lives – their work marked important milestones for us, provided bonding moments with friends and family, and that’s why we mourn them. Not because we’re friends with them. But because their contribution to society made an impact on a single life.

All this TL;DR isn’t to say we shouldn’t grieve people in the public eye, especially when their passing is sudden and tragic. It’s that we should. And one step further, it’s to learn from it and let friends and family know you’re there for them and resources are always available if they think they’re going down the wrong path. I feel like I knew Harris through the Mafia. I encountered Cory’s kindness for a few seconds. But my sadness, like many others, shouldn’t be dismissed because it’s for celebrities we’ve never met. It’s because their lives still mattered to those who did know them. Their lives matter. Our lives matter. All lives matter.

 

5,000 Candles in the Wind: Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Parks and Recreation

We’ve come a long way since the pit. From Lil Sebastian to Champion, Rent A Swag to Entertainment 720, waffles to bacon, 2009 to 2017, there was a lot to love about Parks and Recreation. And tonight, we’ll say a goodbye that’s more sad than the Lil Sebastian farewell concert or Ann’s move to Michigan. Parks had a lot going for it: the best actors and writers in comedy, critical acclaim and a loyal fan base. But above all, it had more heart than any other sitcom on the air. The show’s outlook was overwhelmingly positive, and its protagonist was a hard worker with total loyalty to her town, her career and her friends. We learned more from Parks and Recreation than we have from any show since Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers. Dare we say? Everything we need to know we learned from Parks and Recreation.

Friends, Waffles, Work

Or waffles, friends work. No matter. In other words: priorities. Even Leslie, career-driven as she is, knows that work takes a back seat to the big things in life – your friends. And waffles, which in a broader sense you could interpret as something like “taking the time to enjoy life.” Except that I think she really does mean waffles.

Ovaries Before Brovaries

Again, file under: priorities. Parks is about the relationships between a wide net of coworkers, friends, and significant others. If Ben came along and it was The Leslie And Ben Show from that point on, there wouldn’t be much reason to watch. Leslie’s not the sort to get into a relationship and write off her friends. So, the “uteruses before duderuses” approach can be broadened into “don’t forget about your friends just because of relationship stuff.”

There’s also the great way Leslie is supportive of her lady friends, even when it’s tough. It wasn’t easy to accept Ann moving away, but Leslie encouraged her to do what was best for her family. And rather than get jealous that April was moving up in her career, Leslie helped facilitate the move. Leslie knows one of the greatest secrets in life – which is also one of our lessons from Parks and Recreation: when the members of your “team” succeed – whether it’s your friends, family, or coworkers – then that’s your success, too.

Treat Yo Self

You could say that Tom and Donna are a couple of silly geese, but no. They both work hard and play hard. The key to Treat Yo Self: it’s a once a year occurence. You don’t rack up credit card debt because you “deserve” good things, but every once in a while it’s good to enjoy the fruits of your hard work. Like Tom and Donna, it’s always nice to have a friend to back you up, so when you rationalize that you don’t really need those fine leather goods, a still small voice whispers “treat yo self.”

Say Thank You

I have a philosophy about the “sorry epidemic,” that is, the way people start or end sentences with “sorry” when they haven’t done anything wrong. My theory is that in most cases, what the person really means is either please or thank you. Rather than apologizing for being an inconvenience in advance, what they really mean to do is ask for something. And rather than apologizing for being an inconvenience in retrospect, what they mean to do is say thank you: thank you for accommodating me, or understanding, or going out of your way, or being supportive. People apologize for existing when they really want to thank other people for making their existence easier.

No show does “thank you ” better than Parks. Whether it’s the final moments before Ann leaves Pawnee, or April’s tear-inducing speech in D.C., these folks know how to thank the people who make their lives better. Next time you feel compelled to apologize when you haven’t really done something you shouldn’t, look deeper. Do you really want to say please or thank you instead?

Don’t Write The Concession Speech

In one of my classrooms growing up, there was a poster that said “Failure To Plan Is Planning To Fail.” But I also say that “Planning To Fail Is Planning To Fail.” School decor aside, it’s important to not behave as though the worst is going to happen. Ben doesn’t write a concession speech, because he doesn’t think that losing is a possible outcome.

Or maybe the better lesson is this: surround yourself with people who will think that you won’t need the concession speech. Maybe Leslie wouldn’t have won if her circle was full of people who assumed she wouldn’t succeed. Fill your life with the Bens to your Leslie: people who expect you to win, even more than you do yourself.

I Love You And I Like You

The phrase that Leslie and Ben often tell each other is quite endearing and sums up a perfect relationship. But the writers didn’t come up with it – Rashida Jones’ dad did. I believe Amy wrote the episode it first appeared in, and she revealed in an interview that when she was in Monte Carlo with Quincy Jones (as you do), he grabbed her face in his hands and said to her, “I love you and I like you.” Whether it be a significant other, family member a friend, or your daughter’s comedy wife, it’s important to not only let them know how you feel, but actually truly mean what you say. Anyone can say ‘love ya’ as a throwaway, but to add the ‘I like you’ part implies you enjoy them as a human being, enjoy their company, enjoy everything they have to offer.

Know Where Your Money Goes

Okay, on one hand, definitely treat yo self. On the other hand, don’t blow your budget on Harry Potter fantasy camp.

Of course, I would say that, I’m a Ravenclaw.

When You Love Something, You Fight For It

This speech from Leslie’s final statement as she vies for city council is the best summarization of Leslie Knope. “If you love something, you don’t threaten it. You fight for it. You take care of it. You put it first… If I seem too passionate, it’s because I care. If I come on strong, it’s because I feel strongly.” Leslie Knope is one of the strongest, if not THE strongest female character ever on TV because she doesn’t back down. She fights for what she believes in, and she stands up not only for herself, but for those around her. It doesn’t just apply to her career, it applies to her friendships. From making unnecessary holidays to going to all costs to help a friend propose, Leslie will do anything in her power to see things get done. When it came to her relationship with Ben, she was willing to give up her career just to be with him. She said, ‘Let’s just screw it,’ and it eventually paid off. When you love something, you fight for it. As Ron Swanson said, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.” Leslie can proudly say she whole-assed a whole bunch of things.

“I like to tell people get on board and buckle up, because my ride’s gonna be a big one. If you get motion sickness, put your head between your knees, because Leslie Knope’s stopping for no one.”

Time Is Money; Money Is Power; Power is Pizza; Pizza is Knowledge

This is probably my favorite thing April has ever said on the entire series. First of all, the fact that she’s running this meeting is just great character development. I love character development. But no matter how ridiculous it sounds when it comes out, she usually has a point. In Pawnee in particular, there are a lot of randoms who have nothing better to do but complain, like that woman who is always too concerned about her dog and brings up her pooch problems at town meetings. These are the folks April and co. have to deal with and they don’t have time to sit around listening to droll residents all day. Also, pizza. Pizza is always a good choice.

Have Dating Standards

Ok, this might actually be one of the biggest takeaways I’ve had from the show. When Tom said this, he spoke to my soul on a deep level. The fact that Ann didn’t know who Ginuwine was (Ginuwine – is Ginuwine) was astonishing, and honestly, I, like Tom, don’t think I could ever date someone who didn’t know who he was. Speaking of Ann, in her days of going through guy after guy, she often had a tendency to change into the people she was dating. Like Julia Roberts in Runway Bride – she didn’t even know what type of egg she liked. It’s important to have simple standards for your ideal mate, because when you figure out what you want – like Ann wanted a kid – you will most likely get what you’re looking for.

There’s Always Paris

paris parks

I kind of want this in a tattoo form but not, because it’s too long. Leslie always has a lot on her plate, but somehow she manages it all. She has time to make binders on how to be a garbage woman but also finds time to make a scrapbook about her “Thoughts on Sam Waterston“. So when something extremely stressful comes her way, like being recalled from city council, it’s important to just take a break from it all. We know Leslie loves her job, but it’s important to take a break once in a while. We get so caught up in the millions of things on our to do lists each day that we don’t actually take a chance to breathe and be present and let go of whatever is bothering us. Your trip to Paris doesn’t have to be Paris. Paris can be your favorite park or cafe or a place an hour away to the middle of nowhere. If you have the ability to get away, even for just a brief moment, do it.

Be a Good Person

When Leslie realizes her job is at stake because of her romantic relationship with Ben (and the fact that they bribed the maintenance guy during Lil Sebastian’s funeral to keep quiet), Leslie thinks it’s all over for her. But Ron, in his vast font of knowledge, reminds her that despite the fact she did a frowned upon/illegal thing, it doesn’t make her a bad person. I think this show overall has taught us that there is good in this world, and you can be part of bringing that to real life. Parks never puts anyone down, it inspires and encourages us to be better. We’re human. We make mistakes. But it’s what happens after the fact that shows our true character.

Inspire Yourself

Speaking of being inspirational, while Leslie Knope herself is a great inspiration to us all, she also remind us that often times, the best person to encourage you is yourself. I don’t think Leslie would be half the leader she is today if she never thought she could do it. Yeah, she has to remind herself at times she can reach her goals (“Hey Leslie. It’s Leslie. Hang in there. I love you. Bye.”) Sure, you can have people like Ben around you believing in you and not writing concession speeches, but when Leslie walked out on the stage and gave the speech (as seen above a few paragraphs), she was ultimately the one to give the impassioned statement. No one fed her lines, she went with her gut and her gut made her win.

Feminism Isn’t Just For Women

I am a goddess. a glorious female warrior, queen of all i survey. enemies of fairness and equality, hear my womanly roar. Also men’s rights is nothing.

Johnny Karate’s Rules for Success

I mean, I think that’s pretty self explanatory.

The Only Constant Is Change

Unfortunately, doppelganger Ron has a point. Returning for one of the final episodes, Eagleton Ron shows up like he usually does, out of nowhere, and gives sage advice, like a traveling Yoda who is easier to understand. As we say goodbye to the gang tonight, the gang says goodbye to each other. Ben and Leslie and Andy and April are moving to D.C., Tom’s getting married to Lucy, Donna’s enjoying married life with Joe and moving to Seattle, Ron has his construction company and family to tend to, and Chris and Ann are already off being domestic in Michigan. Oh and Garry’s the mayor (CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT). Despite the fact a lot has happened for the Parks department in the past seven/10 years, it was bound to change sometime. Leslie was always bigger than Pawnee, and while her dreams seemed far away in season one, we realize that it’s time for her to actually achieve those goals. She turned a pit into a playground and now it’s her turn to bring that same goal-oriented talent to D.C. And this show, no matter how much we love it, was bound to have its final episode whether we liked it or not. But we’ll find another show to like and love. Maybe not as much and not in the same way, but we will. We’ll move on. We’ll move up. And we’ll miss you in the saddest fashion.

Academy Awards 2015: Best and Worst Dressed

The 2015 Awards Season finally came to an end last night as Neil Patrick Harris sang and danced his way into our homes, Birdman “flew high” with a lot of awards and all the punny headlines, and Adele Dazeem finally got back at Glom Gazingo, who managed to be even creepier than ever before.

So as we take one last look at last night’s Oscars (which you can relive with our live blog here), we break down our favorite and not-so-favorite looks from Hollywood’s big night. Did your faves make the cut? Or were they snubbed like The Lego Movie and everything is actually not awesome?

Best Dressed

Molly’s Picks

Margot Robbie in Saint Laurent

Usually a black dress wouldn’t make my list, but we were seeing so much white and color last night that it was refreshing. This was like a modern take on the 1930s vamp look, and the red lip and vintage ’30s tassel necklace added just enough color. Sometimes loose hair can look too undone at the Oscars, but at this length it’s perfect.

Rosamund Pike in Givenchy

I’m in the fashion minority, but I don’t really like contour dresses. They always make me think of wearing a dress that has an outline of where a skinnier person could fit. But that’s when they do a full-body effect. The satin inserts draw her waist in, but it’s not obvious. I keep zooming in to look at the texture. They always say it’s hard to wear red on the red carpet, but it was a gamble worth taking here.

Lupita Nyong’o in Calvin Klein Collection

Only Lupita is so lovely and precious that she would wear a dress made entirely of pearls. You know, because she’s a pearl of a girl. Hi. I’m your grandpa. The light hit this beautifully. One article called this a Josephine Baker look and it totally is – 1920s but not a full flapper getup or anything. Also I cannot imagine how uncomfortable it must be to wear a dress made of 6,000 pearls.

Reese Witherspoon in Tom Ford

In some lights this was white, in others ice blue. Anyone want to weigh in? I’m on the “ever so slightly blue” side myself, but not in this photo. In any event, on a night when beading and tulle seemed to be the order of the day (not complaining!) this simple look was a nice change of pace. Witherspoon was promoting the #AskHerMore campaign last night, by the way, so for once we actually got to hear more questions about her portrayal of the awesome Cheryl Strayed and fewer questions about her ensemble.

Jennifer Lopez in Elie Saab

The rest of my true Top 5 is covered in Traci’s list below, so why not cover someone who ALMOST made the cut? J.Lo always looks like some sort of modern princess, but the asymmetrical beading/accent work keeps her from looking too Cinderella/Belle/Whatever. If I had a magic wand I’d lose about an inch of fabric from the bottom – the pooling is nice but it was hard for her to walk in. And I’d put that inch of fabric on the inside of the neckline – the plunge is fantastic but it’s just thatmuch too bare on the inside.

 

Traci’s Picks

Anna Kendrick in Thakoon

Oh goddess that is Anna Kendrick. This is one of my favorite looks from her – ever. The coral color is a perfect compliment to her paler complexion and the halter/keyhole combo is simple yet elegant and on point for the Oscars. She really is a princess.

Jennifer Aniston in Versace

Just call this Jen’s ‘Suck it for not nominating me’ gown. Despite the fact she got left out of the running this year, she still managed to look better than a lot of the other nominees in this stunning gold beaded gown. It’s a simple strapless dress, but the swooping lines and shiny touches are just enough to make you admire in awe.

Emma Stone in Elie Saab

OSCAR NOMINEE Gemma Skrones (I honestly can’t stop saying her name like that ever since Andrew Garfield called her that) is looking divine in this lime green *backless* number from Elie Saab. Paired with her gorge hair, it’s a great modern day take on old school Hollywood glamour, and I’m into it.

David Oyelowo in Dolce & Gabanna

The men’s trend this year was Not Black Tuxes, there were a handful of white suits (see Grand Budapest Hotel contingent) and Jared Leto Lavender, but nothing compared to David Oyelowo. Like Jennifer Aniston before him, David opted to wear his ‘suck it’ suit, and went with a bold dark red (crimson?) suit by Dolce & Gabbana that made him stand out from the crowd, despite the fact he didn’t get a nomination. But listen, I think Selma and everyone involved won the moment John Legend and Common stepped on the stage. So win/win.

Zoe Saldana in Atelier Versace

This champagne dress is beautifully made on its own, but add that to the fact that Zoe produced two – TWO – humans a mere three months ago and she managed to go on the red carpet and look like this. Hot freaking mama.

Honorable Mentions: Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka in hot couple suits and Faith Hill in J. Mendel (I still can’t get over how well accessorized she is with that necklace)

Worst Dressed

Molly’s Picks

Marion Cotillard in Dior

I really loved this until she turned around and I saw the butt-panel, too.

Gwyneth Paltrow in Ralph & Russo

Apparently Gwyneth is 42, which is not at all old, but I always think of her as a 20-something because she imprinted in my head during the Shakespeare In Love era. This dress is the same color as her iconic pink Oscar gown, and I almost really like it except that the shoulder reminds me of cabbage. Otherwise flawless.

Lady Gaga in Alaia

First of all, I know that it’s Lady Gaga so we aren’t really judging her on the same criteria as everyone else. Still, I saw this and my heart sank a little. You haven’t been hearing that much about her, and then she shows up in dishwashing gloves. I was never a superfan but I always thought she seemed like such a nice gal and I was hoping for a career reboot. Then she KILLED the Sound Of Music tribute and this look faded to the recesses of my memory.

Keira Knightley in Valentino

She’s pregnant, so it doesn’t even seem fair to place her on this list. If I’m ever pregnant I’m probably going to be dressed in sweatpants and frustration from the moment my clothes stop fitting. But the scalloped bodice and floaty florals look like a maternity flower girl dress. Knightley looked gorge at the Vanity Fair party, so she ended the evening on a high note. And dress aside, holy cow, she really IS glowing.

Scarlett Johansson in Versace

I have relatives who STILL buy me things in green because when I was a kid it was my favorite color. It’s weird to have a favorite color as an adult, but I still love it. And this dress is the perfect shade for ScarJo, and it’s really well-tailored, too. But then that necklace looks like it was poached from a Muppet’s neck-ruff or something. So close/so far.

 

Traci’s Picks

Julianne Moore in Chanel

I’d like to preface this by saying I adore Julianne Moore and think she deserves all the accolades and praise she’s received over the years, especially with her first Oscar last night. But. Woof. It’s not an ‘Oscar-winning dress’ and it’s really not a dress that anyone should wear. ever. The beading is impressive, however the design itself is no bueno. She should’ve gone with a green dress like from the SAGs earlier this year.

Laura Dern in Alberta Ferretti

Once a Gladiator, Always a Gladiator. In a literal suit of armor.

Felicity Jones in Alexander McQueen

Felicity seems like a delightful, British gal, but it’s almost as if she took one of those fashion design stencil plates and mix and matched a top and bottom that don’t actually go together. A for effort though, I guess.

Behati Prinsloo in Armani Prive

I never get how models can just not hit the mark on the red carpet. It’s their actually job to sell clothes, but when they wear a dress like this, it’s hard to sell. And the thing is that she’s a beautiful girl, but with that weird large necklace and slicked back hair, none of it is working for her.

Blanca Blanco

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I don’t really know who this is. I don’t know who designed her dress. But this is like Cinna’s first draft of Katniss’ Girl on Fire gown but decided it was too disgusting for the Games.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: John Travolta in this chain necklace. What in the world.