First House Diaries #2: Rooms Of Your House, From Most To Least Haunted

When you’re buying a house all by yourself, you deal with the real life threats first: does this look like a neighborhood I’m going to get serial killed in? How many break-ins have there been nearby? Is the roof sturdy? All of that stuff. But when you’re going to open house after open house, there comes a time when your house hunting expedition becomes a ghost hunting one. You want to make sure you don’t get Amityville Horror-ed, right? So check your dream home in the following areas before you put in that offer. Here are the rooms of any house, from most to least likely to be haunted:

(1) Any Unexplained, Walled-Up, Partially Hidden Room

 

You know what should have absolutely nothing to hide? Your HOUSE. If there’s a hidden doorway, a room you can only access through a closet, or a Harry Potter-style Cupboard Under The Stairs, your house isn’t being up front with you and probably has a secret. And that secret is ghosts.

In one of the houses I toured, the attic had a hastily-constructed extra room with chipped, clawed-looking walls and creepy ’50s children’s book illustrations on the walls. When I walked in there, my very first thought was “oh hey, that’s where the ghost lives.” Basically if there’s a weird room that makes you say “that’s where the ghost lives” – yep, that’s where the ghost lives.

(2) Bedroom

Bedrooms aren’t the most inherently creepy-seeming room of the house, but think about it. Most people’s ghost stories start with them being awoken in the middle of the night with a ghost staring at them. GROSS.

(3) Bathroom

I know, not the attic or basement? No, not yet. If a ghost wants to be extra creepy, they’d definitely hang out in the bathroom. It’s really all about the shower curtain. Imagine leaving the shower to find a ghost staring at you. Or worse, opening the shower curtain and finding a little-girl ghost in an old-timey dress in there. Plus there’s the bathroom mirror, prime location for Bloody Marys and menacing fog-writing.

As a kid, my house’s bathroom gave me the willies, to the extent that I used to rush and take showers as quickly as possible. As an adult, this habit has helped me maintain really low water bills so I’m not complaining. But the wacky thing is that years later, my mom told me that she went to a psychic who out of nowhere mentioned that the tiny hallway in front of the bathroom was the portal that the ghosts came in and out of.

(4) Attic

Here’s my rationale for the attic being more full of ghosts than the basement. Attics are usually less readily accessible than basements, so if someone had something to hide they would probably keep it in the attic. Secret deformed children, a church of satan, a wall of victim’s photos: attic material, all of them. Plus while your basement probably contains frequently-used utilities that might deter a ghost infestation (washer, dryer, furnace), your attic is more stagnant so ghosts are more likely to accumulate. Also moths, spiders, etc. Pretty much just don’t go into your attic.

(5) Basement

Don’t get me wrong, basements are still creepy. The main reason is that these are the most likely place in your house for a body to be concealed. Unless someone really Telltale Heart-ed it, there probably isn’t a body under your floorboards, but there might be one under that weird patch of mismatched concrete on your basement floor.  Apparently my great-grandparents’ house had a notoriously haunted basement – like, they were known for it – so my fear of basements might be part of my genetic memory.

(6) Hallways and Stairwells

 

Again, I blame my childhood home, which had a stairway landing so creepy that I used to try to fly past it on my way up and down. Maybe I should just blame being a weird kid. Still, hallways are full of doors for ghosts to pop out of, or twists and turns where you can see a ghost in the distance. If you want an excellent example of the hallway as a ghost device, look no further than The Shining.

(7) Kitchens

Kitchens aren’t spooky, but if you have a Poltergeist-y ghost that likes to play with things you’ll probably find it in the kitchen. Between the stove, faucet, microwave and fridge door, there’s a lot to open and close or turn on and off – like a Melissa and Doug toy, only for ghosts.

(8) Dining Room

I’ve just never heard of anyone having a haunted dining room, you know?

(9) Living Room/ Family Room/ Den

Here’s how I feel. Poltergeist aside, I think TVs are inherently confusing to ghosts, who seem to always be from sometime pre-1950. Not that they have to be, but I’ve never heard of anyone say “yeah, there’s a ghost in my house. He always appears and disappears wearing zubaz and a slap bracelet with a hypercolor shirt” or “we keep seeing this woman at the attic window with a spiral perm and mall bangs, checking her swatch watch then staring into the distance through her Sally Jesse Raphael glasses.” So if your living room is your TV spot, the ghost is just not interested. Now, if you have one fancy living room that just has uncomfy couches and a piano in it, the ghosts might like that one.

Real rational talk: ghosts make no sense. I don’t know why I would believe in the spirits of dead people manifesting out of thin air, when I barely believe in … you know, myself. (JK, I think I’m pretty good.) But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind when I looked at houses – particularly the one with the ghost room in the attic.

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Miley Cyrus as the VMAs host? It Could Be Worse

There’s nothing that makes us feel more old than the Teen Choice Awards, as we’ve discussed before. Now a few weeks after our faces have gone back to normal, we’re faced with the annual MTV Video Music Awards. Growing up, I always thought of the VMAs to be the edgiest out of all the awards shows – the one that if I showed up to school the next day and talked about it in 5th grade, I would feel super cool. That didn’t mean I actually was. Over the years, whether we care to admit it or not, the VMAs are a gem in the zeitgeist crown. Even if we don’t know some of the songs or artists nominated, there will ALWAYS be something to talk about around the watercooler (or conversational landmark of your choosing) the next day. This year, plenty of people have already been talking about the show, thanks to their choice of host:

Having not abused my eyes with this picture for a while, it looks absolutely ridiculous. What even is this world we’re living in. Beetlejuice and a grown-up nude Kewpie doll are grinding.

No it’s not Robin Thicke OR that foam finger. It’s obviously Miley Cyrus. Good ol’ Destiny Hope is returning to the VMAs stage two years after the performance that rocked her entire career. One year after she weirdly let her homeless friend accept an award on her behalf:

KATY AND SAM COORDINATED SIDE EYE FTW

But let’s be real here folks, no matter what you think of Miley, we can all agree that whatever she does is entertaining and will garner the attention of… everyone, whether it be positive or negative. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do at the VMAs, and I might be watching with my head down shaking it in disappointment, but I’m looking forward to what she’ll do. Also, brilliant move by MTV.

In saying this, there have been way worse hosts of the VMAs than I expect Miley to be, so let’s just thank MTV head honchos for at least making us want to tune in. Here are some questionable emecees MTV has hired over the years that pretty much make me long for Miley.

1984: Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler

Ok, let’s attribute this choice to the fact it was the inaugural VMAs, and in the early era of MTV itself. Maybe they didn’t know what they were doing, or what kind of audience they were going for. I guess to be fair, Dan Aykroyd was popular at the time because of SNL and Ghostbusters, and Bette Midler was, more Bette Midler than she is now. But were they really the voice of the youth culture back then? Also, who decided to put these two together? Couldn’t have been one or the other? I have a lot of questions.

1986: MTV VJs: Downtown Julie Brown, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, Martha Quinn & Dweezil Zappa

Again, for perspective, MTV was a huge deal in the ’80s, primarily because there was no network like it ever before. MTV was a channel that wasn’t ABC/CBS/NBC, that didn’t show scripted programming, and dedicated entirely to showing visual representations of music heard on the radio. It was groundbreaking, and in those first few years, it was such a big deal that the first VJs subsequently became a big deal too. So again, it makes sense that these folks were the hosts. But come on, that must have been a bore for the regular viewers. Even spreading them out throughout the country – and London? – is mediocre at best. They see these people all the time. It wouldn’t hurt for some new blood in there. I imagine it was so boring that that’s why I couldn’t really find any good clips of them. Which is why I’m sharing this video of a young Whitney singing How Will I Know. There’s something so special about her just singing and dancing without anything else except the neon MTV logos behind her. It’s a  far cry from the superproduced performances we’ve seen over the past decade. ‘N Sync and Britney, much? (As a BSB fan, I admit this is one of the best in VMA history).

1993: Christian Slater

You’re reading this right. Christian Slater, movie star and 90s hunk/bad boy, hosted the Video Music Awards. At the time, he was the hottie from Heathers and on the verge of hitting rave reviews in True Romance, so he was more or less the Zac Efron type of the era. However, he still didn’t quite fit into host of the VMAs, as evidenced by this clip of his monologue. He’s going through it as if he’s reading a presentation in science class. Except making horrible jokes like, “How ’bout that Madonna? I didn’t want that number to end but I ran out of quarters backstage”, in reference to this performance. He also made a joke about the Moonman being able to see up Sharon Stone’s dress from the stage, so, I mean, obviously a solid night.

 

1994: Roseanne

I do not like Roseanne. I do not think she’s funny. I hated her sitcom. The above outfit is physically hurting my eyes. I can’t even get myself to watch this clip of her hosting, but I’m assuming it’s bad.

2008 and 2009 Russell Brand

It’s not that I think Russell Brand isn’t funny. Because sometimes he can be. But also he can be a lot annoying, and bottom line is that I don’t find him entertaining. But hey, who am I to say what the youth of the world finds entertaining these days? I’m just saying do we trust a man with that hair and who divorces someone over the phone???

 

Wedding Guest Drinking Game/ Scavenger Hunt

It’s August, but Wedding Season isn’t over yet … because with the growing popularity of fall weddings, wedding season stretches from May to early November, with an additional, tiny bump around Christmas time. I’m in my  late 20s now, and it has been over 10 years since I have had a wedding-free summer. After you’ve been around the bridal block a few times, you start to notice that from your swanky sit-down affairs to your afternoon backyard bashes, most weddings really do have a lot in common. And after you’ve been around the bridal block more than a few times … especially if you’re single …. especially if like me, you cannot envision having a WEDDING-wedding even if you get married … you start to feel like you need some sort of a game, goal, or mission to keep the events feeling fresh.

Ladies and gentlemen, to that end I give you the Cookies + Sangria Wedding Guest Drinking Game/ Scavenger Hunt. EXTRAVAGANZA! 2015. Or whatever year you’re reading this.

1 point (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 Sip (Drinking Game)
  • Mason Jars
  • Burlap
  • In the days before the wedding, you go through that internal struggle of whether it would make more sense for you to take a cab to the wedding or just limit your drinking to a glass or two of wine way at the beginning. [Obviously if you come out in favor of driving to the event, you’re playing the scavenger hunt, so get your notepad ready to tally those points!]
  • Jordan almonds
  • A grandma
  • A photo announcement for everyone from your alma mater
  • A bride is tanned or toned beyond recognition
  • A bride is keeping her birth name, the couple will be hyphenating their name, the groom is taking the bride’s name, the couple is adopting a new name, or a same-sex couple does literally ANYTHING with regards to surnames … but guests or officiants can’t or won’t accept it (cards with wrong name on it, announcement of Mr. and Mrs. Dude’sName, etc).
2 Points (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 swig (Drinking Game)
  • Wedding party in matching Converse
  • The unity candle won’t light
  • Flower girls strewing something other than flowers
  • You are handed bubbles for when the couple leaves the ceremony
  • A guest misses a key point in the wedding because they are doing something on their phone
  • The first dance song was also the first dance at another wedding you went to
  • Canon in D
  • Wedding March
  • You’re in a barn
  • The ring does not go on easily
  • There’s a wedding coordinator or photographer who would be well-suited to some sort of upper-level commanding military position
  • Bridesmaid or groomsman speech mentions a fraternity or sorority
5 points (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 gulp (Drinking Game)
  • Edison lights
  • A man in white athletic socks
  • Actual tin cans tied to the car
  • Dollar dance
  • The couple does that thing where they make sand art instead of lighting a unity candle
  • One of those signs that tells you to pick a seat, not a side
  • Chalkboards or chalkboard paint
  • “Love is patient, love is kind…” etc.
  • It’s a destination wedding (beach resort, cruise, etc) and a non-wedding guest crashes accidentally. Or on purpose.
  • The wedding party takes photos in an awkward location, or one totally unrelated to the couple or event. (NB: now that the “photojournalistic,” candid, “creative” photo style is in, I always see people taking pics in the park and bridge near where I work by people who have, based on things I’ve heard them say, basically never been downtown in my city before).
  • The wedding party does a jumping picture
10 points (Scavenger Hunt) / 2 gulps (Drinking Game)
  • Superfluous Scrabble tiles incorporated into the decor
  • Another wedding guest with your first name
  • Bird decor
  • A ring bearer or flower girl who is actually a baby who can’t walk yet
  • A whole-hearted bouquet toss enthusiast
  • A bouquet toss conscientious objector
  • Unzipped fly on a guest
  • Something that you, personally, would deem an obvious Pinterest Fail
  • Signature cocktail
  • Photo booth
  • A camera whore is very obviously angling to be in the reception candids
  • Anything Disney (cake topper, dress, anything)
  • The table assignments are something “clever” or Pinterest-based, like photos of the couple at whatever age the table number was, or all based on different locations.
20 Points (Scavenger Hunt) / Chug (Drinking Game)
  • The flower girl can’t or won’t flower girl
  • The priest or officiant says something awkward (for instance: at our friend’s wedding, the priest talked about how wonderful it was that we were all  together to consummate the marriage, then he drew even more attention to it by trying to rephrase it for the next minute)
  • A non-bridal party person in an updo (like UPDO updo. Tendrils, hairspray … baby’s breath?)
  • Someone does a honk-y nose blow during the ceremony
  • Elderly people in love
  • It’s a religious wedding and the sermon/speech/whatever is about wives submitting to husbands
  • Someone in the bathroom who needs a sewing kit
  • Someone in the bathroom who has a sewing kit
  • A groom makes some sort of performance art piece out removing the garter
  • The first dance was choreographed
  • You’re single, and someone awkwardly tries to set you up with another single guest (it’s like when you were 12 at your dad’s company picnic, and your parents tried to make you hang out with another kid because of the great uniting factor of you both being in seventh grade, even though that doesn’t mean you have anything else in common).
  • Self-written vows
  • Unzipped fly on a member of the wedding party
50 points (Scavenger Hunt) / Finish Your Drink (Drinking Game)

  • Hay bales are involved in any capacity
  • The entrances to the reception were choreographed
  • A bride has separate ceremony and reception dresses
  • RHYMING vows
  • They make you sit on the hay bales
  • A direction sign pointing the way to food, dancing, custom candy table, etc
  • Custom candy table
  • Two women in the same dress (not in the bridal party)]
  • There’s a theme. Not a color scheme, but a THEME. Like Civil War.
  • An unassuming person with surprisingly awesome dance moves
  • A non-bridesmaid who accidentally wore almost the same dress as the bridesmaids
  • There’s another couple with the same, or almost the same, wedding hashtag that weekend
  • Crying bride (happy tears)
  • Custom cake topper
  • Cake smash. You’re gonna need that drink.
  • An ex-spouse of the couple is present
100 points (Scavenger Hunt) / New Drink (Drinking Game)
  • A non-bride is wearing white (flower girl doesn’t count)
  • The couple’s pet(s) are involved in the ceremony
  • An awkward bouquet/ garter combo (relatives, exes, massive age gap … I have been avoiding the bouquet toss my whole life because even as a little kid I realized that hey, if I catch this thing I don’t want, a stranger is going to have to put an undergarment on my leg??)
  • Somebody has an objection during the ceremony
  • Crying bride (non-happy tears)
  • One of the spouses serenades the other
  • There’s choreography when the bridal party and couple go down the aisle.
  • Someone surprises the couple with a performance that they don’t know about.

 

Pop Culture Extra Credit: College Edition

A couple months ago, my alma mater, Emerson College, announced that starting in the Fall of 2016, there will be a new major available to students – a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Comedic Arts, AKA a degree in comedy. Emerson is a communication and arts school where being a musical theatre major doesn’t make you a nerd and Quidditch is the top sport. We’re known for having unusual or quirky things that you wouldn’t find at a “normal” college. When I first heard the news, I thought, ‘Oh, that makes sense’. The school already offers classes on things like puppetry and “Queer TV After Ellen Came Out”, so yeah, a comedy major sounds about right.

However, it was a much bigger question mark to the rest of the world who went to schools that had classes like Accounting and football teams. Emerson even got a mention from Seth Meyers who suggested students can “just take your tuition money and burn it in front of your parents.” Fair.

So with kids heading back to college over the next few weeks, I thought that there must be other schools out there that offer odd, or pop culture-centric classes. Luckily, the American educational system did not let me down. Here are just a few courses you can take right now – did you guys take any weird classes in college?

Emerson College {Boston, MA}

TV Creators: Understanding the Whedonesque

Description:

This course will use the career of Joss Whedon to introduce students to the variety of positions in the entertainment industry and their potential for fulfilling and creative work… By examining his work at various stages, students will better understand auteur theory, modern industrial entertainment production, and artistic production across media. Works covered include: Roseanne, Alien: Resurrection, Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a film and TV series, Angel, Firefly and Serenity, Dollhouse, The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing, Buffy: Season Eight, and Astonishing X-Men.

Class Notes:

Surprisingly enough, I’m not too familiar with the Whedonverse. The closest I’ve ever gotten is watching Dr. Horrible multiple times over. Back in my day, this class was specifically about dissecting Buffy, and not any of Joss Whedon’s other works. My friend (who shall not be named because in her words, ‘I have a reputation to uphold’) took the Buffy class and had this to say about it: “12-year-old me couldn’t believe she was watching one of her favorite shows in class to achieve a real college degree, but it was surprisingly one of the most demanding classes (work load wise) that I have ever taken.” As I think we’re going to find with the rest of these courses, it may sound silly at first, but it’s probably really interesting and a lot of work.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology {Cambridge, MA}

Topics in Comparative Media: American Pro Wrestling

well this is frightening

Description:

This class will explore the cultural history and media industry surrounding the masculine drama of professional wrestling. Beginning with wrestling’s roots in sport and carnival, the class examines how new technologies and changes in the television industry led to evolution for pro wrestling style and promotion and how shifts in wrestling characters demonstrate changes in the depiction of American masculinity. The class will move chronologically in an examination of how wrestling characters and performances have changed, focusing particularly on the 1950s to the present. Students may have previous knowledge of wrestling but are not required to, nor are they required to be a fan (although it is certainly not discouraged, either).

Class Notes:

Exactly what major is this class fulfilling? I particularly like the disclaimer at the end. ‘You don’t have to be a fan of WWE… except you should probably be if you’re spending money on this class.”

Rutgers University {New Jersey}

Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyoncé

Description:

Calling all the single ladies: this exploration into Queen Bey’s influence on feminism, race, gender, and culture helps students become more aware of the way in which pop culture shapes society. Most classes that are named for celebrities deal with sociologies of fame or psychologies of human behavior, but Kevin Allred’s version zeroes in on politics. By juxtaposing Beyoncé’s song lyrics with readings by distinguished black leaders like Sojourner Truth and Octavia Butler, students ask and attempt to answer the question, “Can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?” Yet the more appropriate question may be: Who runs the world? Beyoncé.

Class Notes:

Sign. Me. Up. The person who wrote this description is clearly a member of the BeyHive, so that’s already a plus. But like previously mentioned, this class sounds hard as shiiiit. But that’s what you get when you break down the genius that is Queen B.

Georgia Regents College {Augusta, Georgia}

Good Kids, Mad Cities

Description:

Taking its name from Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 album, this course will examine the role of urban living on the development of young people. In Kendrick’s case, “the streets sure to release the worst side of my best” (Lamar 58). By studying and analyzing various literature, films, and K. Dot’s album, we will consider what effects our characters’ surroundings have on who they become as adults. The cities we will be visiting, in our imaginations, are Dublin, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Class Notes:

This class should be offered at more colleges, TBH.

Middlebury College {Middlebury, Vermont}

Urban America & Serial Television: Watching The Wire

Description:

Frequently hailed as a masterpiece of American television, The Wire shines a light on urban decay in contemporary America, creating a dramatic portrait of Baltimore’s police, drug trade, shipping docks, city hall, public schools, and newspapers over five serialized seasons. In this course, we will watch and discuss all of this remarkable-and remarkably entertaining-series, and place it within the dual contexts of contemporary American society and the aesthetics of television. This is a time-intensive course with a focus on close viewing and discussion, and opportunities for critical analysis and research about the show’s social contexts and aesthetic practices.

Class Notes:

I would take this class for one reason, the same one reason I watch the entirety of The Wire in the first place: Mr. Idris Elba. God bless.

Colorado College {Colorado Springs, Colorado}

Queen Bees, WannaBees, and Mean Girls

Description:

Queen Bees, WannaBees, and Mean Girls explores the means and motives behind why women seek authority and the actions they are willing to take in order to hold onto it. Students will examine this concept through the use of literary works and movies, such as the 2004 film Mean Girls.

Class Notes:

Temporarily ignoring the fact that first sentence makes it seem like this class is slightly sexist, it would be interesting to take a look into this culture of mean girls. And obviously, the class would have to be held on Wednesdays.

American University {Washington, D.C.}

Contemporary American Culture: Hunger Games

Description:

The Hunger Games trilogy is a publishing phenomenon that has dramatically impacted American popular culture. Using the series as a case study, this course examines the interplay of class, politics, ethics, and marketing. Topics covered include oppression, feminism, food deserts, rebellion, the publishing industry, and social media marketing. 

Class Notes:

Hunger Games isn’t just for kids, y’all. I also read “food deserts” as “food desserts” and immediately started to think what significance desserts had in the books, scouring my brain to remember Katniss’ fave food – then I realized it said “deserts” as in, the lack of food pretty much everywhere besides the Capitol. The Hunger Game isn’t just for kids, y’all.

Georgetown University {Washington, D.C.}

Philosophy and Star Trek

Description:

Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to do philosophy, but to watch Star Trek, read philosophy and hash it all out in class? That’s the plan. This course will center on topics in metaphysics that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments. Questions we will wrestle with include:

I. Is time travel possible? Could you go back and kill your grandmother? What is time?
II. What is the relation between your mind and your brain–are they separate items or identical? Can persons survive death? Could a machine someday think? Is Data a person?
III. What is a person? Must you have the same body to be you? Same memories? When do we have one person, and when do we have two (think of the episodes where people “split” or “fuse”).
IV. Do you have free will, or are you determined by the laws of nature to do exactly what you wind up doing (while believing you have free will)? Or both? What is freewill?

Class Notes:

This description is VERY thorough. Not only that, but seems questionable. For instance, why is one of the questions, “Could you go back and kill your grandmother?”. First of all, it should be “Would”. Second of all, what? Is this a plot point in the Star Trek series? If yes, WHY? Also, “What is a person?” ??? This could be a very deep and depressing conversation I personally wouldn’t want to have in a classroom setting.

Georgia State University {Atlanta, Georgia}

American Poetry: Kanye vs. Everybody

kanye vs

Description:

According to the syllabus, Kanye makes for a useful lens through which to “investigate the continuous development of African American poetry and poetics—the uses of language and literature to represent blackness and Americanness in particular—observing shifting meanings in and of the text with important considerations of race, class, gender, and sexuality.” Throughout the semester, students decode Kanye’s work and interviews, which Dr. Heath believes help draw a line from the Harlem Renaissance to the black nationalist era to current-day hip-hop.

Class Notes:

Can’t tell if Kanye would love this course or disagree with it so much he’ll interrupt during class to say just how much he hates it. Is that a dated reference? Him and TSwift are all good now? Ok.

University at Buffalo {Buffalo, New York}

Breaking Down “Breaking Bad”

Description:

“Breaking Bad” was one of the most spectacular narrative achievements in television. Its five seasons comprised some 60 hours of a single narrative arc, something no film or television program (cable or commercial) has ever accomplished… In this seminar, we’ll take a close look at all the components of the series; we’ll talk about what was done, how it was done, why it worked. There is one prerequisite: that members of the seminar have seen the series before the seminar’s first meeting. We’re going to be studying it, not greeting it. We’ll look at some segments during the semester, but only so we can deconstruct the work. I’ll expect participants to do class presentations on different aspects of the epic, and a term paper on a topic of their choice.

Class Notes:

Unlike the American wrestling course, watching the series IS a pre req to being in this class. Luckily, most people on this planet have watched Breaking Bad. There’s gotta be something meta about teaching a class about a show that features a chemistry teacher who isn’t the greatest teacher.

University of California, Berkeley {Berkeley, California}

Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows”

Description:

TV “Judge” shows have become extremely popular in the last 3-5 years. A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again. For example, when asked “Did you hit the plaintiff?” respondents often say, “If I woulda hit him, he’d be dead!” This reply avoids answering “yes” or “no” by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called “a fortiori” argument “from the stronger” in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court”and discussing why such strategies are so widespread. It is NOT a course about law or “legal reasoning” Students who are interested in logic, argument, TV, and American popular culture will probably be interested in this course. I emphasize that it is NOT about the application of law or the operations of the court system in general.

Class Notes:

As the lawyer of this Cookies + Sangria duo, I’m sure Molly can support or oppose this much better than I can, but in theory, this class actually sounds more interesting than it should? Although I hate watching court show, I’m sure there’s a psychology to it that can be studied. Or just a reminder of how stupid Americans can be.

 

Questions, Comments, and Concerns: The Unauthorized Full House Story

Another day, another unauthorized story of a 90s TV show from those fine folks at the Lifetime network. This past weekend it was all about Full House, that TGIF (and TBS/WGN/ABC Family/Nick at Nite) favorite that was a staple in our adolescence. We grew up with the Tanners-Katsopolis-Gladstone clan in our living rooms as we watched them grow up in theirs. We saw Rigby the Rhino, Tommy Page, the Beach Boys and even Little Richard come through the doors, and now, we get to see what really went down behind the facade of the Full House. In theory, that is.

Lifetime describes the movie as “the rise of the cast of one of America’s most beloved family sitcoms and the pressures they faced in balancing their television personas with their real lives”. But according to the FH cast, the movie wasn’t exactly how it went down, and to be honest, I’m more inclined to believe them.

Why? I had a lot of things going through my mind while watching it, so if you tuned in or even if you didn’t (probably better that you didn’t), let’s discuss The Unauthorized Full House Story

Question: Why is the VERY first shot of this movie a bush?

Photo Aug 24, 12 45 28 AM

Comment: We start in 1987, when they shoot the pilot, but I’m distracted because the fake Full House set looks like Becky’s house on the real Full House.

Photo Aug 24, 12 35 03 AM

Comment: The cameramen are laughing at the show. While it’s filming. This isn’t how television works.

Comment: We flashback to 1985 for origin stories, starting off with Bob Saget, who is doing stand up and taking about tampons. He sounds like Seinfeld shouting, ‘What’s the deal with tampons?!’

Question: Bob and Dave knew each other before the show? The world of standup comedy is smaller than you think, so it makes sense these two knew each other before FH.

Question: Dave Coulier was almost on Saturday Night Live? Really, how did I not know this? Apparently he was hired then Lorne and co. were like JK, you’re too similar to Dana Carvey. Ok… But tbh, he seems like a better fit for Full House than sketch comedy.

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Comment: John Stamos is played by Justin Gaston. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he used to date Miley Cyrus. Now he’s playing John Stamos playing Uncle Jesse in a Lifetime movie. Miley is hosting the VMAs on Sunday.

Concern: Bob’s wife tells him she’s pregnant. He says he’s happy about this. His face says otherwise.

actual snapshot of fake bob saget

Comment: Creator Jeff Franklin’s first pitch to ABC was a show called House of Comics (three men/comedians living in a house together, shenans ensue).

“The Cosby Show is doing so well. So the network really wants more of a family show.” Exec who clearly doesn’t know the shit that goes down with Jell-o man in 2015.

After the exec says that quote ^^ Jeff makes up a new show on the spot, which is the plot of Full House. And to think, Full House is all kind of Billy Cosby’s doing. ::insert joke and side eye here::

Comment: Candice Cameron, was only known as Kirk cameron’s little sister at the time. When she went in to audition for Deej, she overhears the casitng director say she was “only okay”. However Candace later redeems herself after a pep talk from her stage mom, and eventually gets the part. Being Kirk Cameron’s sister didn’t always help, folks.

Concern: Paul Reiser was the first choice for Danny Tanner, but he was busy with My Two Dads. What’s that show you ask? Well it’s where the girl from Step by Step is adopted and raised by the dude from Mad About You and straight George Michael. It only last three seasons, so is Paul Reiser upset? Probably not. He went on to Mad About You.

Question: John was already a star. At least with the daytime mom crowd, and he was getting hounded by crazy General Hospital fans. By the time he was approached by Jeff about FH, John was ready to find a new demographic. He was so eager about the new gig that he told Jeff the vision he had for “Uncle Adam” – he pitched that Elvis had a twin brother whose name was Jesse and died at childbirth, and he wanted to be Jesse. Uncle Adam became Uncle Jesse. I still don’t get why he wanted to paid tribute to Elvis’ dead brother?

Concern: MK & A just happened to be sitting in the waiting room of the casting office because their mom’s friend took her kids to the audition. How PISSED is that friend now?

Question: John Posey was originally cast as Danny, because Bob wanted another job on CBS or something. The pilot was shot with this Posey dude. The network picked up the show w Posey and Jeff Franklin (EP) wanted to reshoot the pilot w Danny. This is what one in the biz calls a “Shitshow.” More importantly, where is this footage with Posey as Danny Tanner???

Concern: Justin Gaston is like, significantly younger than the guys who play Bob and Dave.

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Comment: The dude who plays Bob is like *almost* nailing the real Bob Saget’s voice to a point, however it also sounds like he has a frog in his throat the entire time.

Question: Why does the guy who plays Bob have more chemistry with his sister than his wife?

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His sis convinces Bob he needs to bond with his co-stars

“If looked like him (John) I’d never get out of the shower.” – Bob

“So start there” – Sis

“In the shower with Stamos? – Bob

“No, you know what I mean” – Sis

Cue: boys’ trip to Vegas.

Comment: It’s interesting that they keep portraying Bob as a serial monogamist, seeing as how he decided to play blackjack instead of hanging out with John, Dave, and three hot ladies in Sin City. However, back on set, he’s still got a pottymouth and basically told Jodie Sweetin she hopefully won’t grow up to be a stripper. I mean, good advice, to be fair. He even pitched to Jeff that Danny get OCD or terets (so he can curse). The Olsens twins and Cameron’s moms hate this about him and decide to talk to Jeff about it.

Question: Did Dave Coulier really single-handedly convince MK&A’s  mom to stay with the show? She is basically juggling being a stage mom all by herself since her husband is not in sight, but Dave assures her everyone can help raise them, and even offer to help find them a nanny, just so they don’t leave the show.

Comment: Dave farts during tender moment about season 2 pickup. This I can believe.

Question: WAIT JOHN AND LORI DATED ‘A FEW TIMES’ BEFORE SHE JOINED THE SHOW??

“We went on a date to Disneyland before we were both married. In real life, when we were 18, 19 years old… No disrespect to her family and her husband now, I would say that she could be the one that got away. She’s one of my dearest friends, and that’s good enough. I really do adore her.” Real Stamos saying OTP could’ve been real {x}

Question: Why is Danny surprised when he gets fan mail dumped on his person? Like, he’s shocked that the bag of fan mail dumped on his person is all for him and not for the Olsen twins.

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Concern: Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler) runs into the on-set classroom to tell Candace she got upped to a series regular, and Jodie Sweetin looks on at their friendship longingly and a lil jeals. I feel like maybe this would’ve been true on a nine-year-old kid level, but not for realsies.

Comment: The guys find out MK&A are the most popular stars from the show, so Dave lit’rally runs to Jeff’s office so he can campaign for more scenes. Bob and John look at each other and say, “Should we tell him the EPs office is that way?”, in a way that easily could’ve been in the real Full House – it was that corny.

Question: Because MK&A were getting popular by the second, their parents decide to negotiate their contract to get more money. They ask to DOUBLE their salary. The twins are THREE YEARS OLD. Aren’t the other cast members a lil pissed about this??

Comment: Network execs are hoping to tie-in more of their programming with the super popular Full House by asking Bob to host a new show called America’s Funniest Home Videos. His response: “Americas Funniest Home Videos? That seems ever more sophmoric than Full House. Just kidding, that’s not possible.” They are really making it look like Bob had so much disdain for the show.

Question: Did John really set up a rehearsal space for his band in the.. green room on the FH set? And were there actual fam jam sessions

Photo Aug 24, 12 59 12 AM

Question: They keep giving a behind the scenes look at Bob’s marriage with him juggling a marriage (that’s clearly disintegrating), three kids and two jobs setting it up for disaster. Also how does this effect the show?

Concern: If this is how people gathered to watch TGIF in 1990, I really missed out.

The book on the coffee table, The Century, was published in 1998. Full House ended in 1995.

Comment: Instead of a talking woodchuck Joey has a talking dog.

Did somebody say…. BONES? (idk, i’m not good with dog jokes)

Comment: Dave announces he’s engaged to some chick, and for some reason, John mystericously jealous about this.

Concern: Candace goes crazy looking for Lori because she got the new script and found out she has to have her first onscreen kiss. Lori enlists “Stamos” to show Candace how to kiss. I feel weird about this.

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Question: Were John Stamos and Paula Abdul a tight enough couple that they almost got married? I always forget they dated, but per the movie, Stamos says, “I really like Paula I think she might be the one.”

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Except she wasn’t because in the next scene he says they break up. Wah wah.

Comment: Execs see Bob molesting a mannequin on the closed circuit video feed of the set, so Jeff chastises him for being inappropriate. Again with the ‘Bob Saget was an overly dirty man on a set about pure family values’.

Concern: Candace has a heart to heart with John after seeing an article in a tabloid that says she’s chubby. Stamos gives her advice to not let it bother her. She says, “My brother thinks I need to be closer to God.”

if you don’t get this picture, read this immediately

Question: WHY IS THERE NO COMET??? I just realized no dog has come on my screen yet!

Concern: I feel really bad for Dave, who says, “The truth is I’m not so good at being a grown up,” a notion we all can relate to. He reveals he’s getting divorced and his sister just died, so things aren’t going swell.

“Wouldn’t it be great if real life was more like Full House? No matter how big your problem is, you knew that everything was going to be okay?”

“And anything could be solved with a few bowls of ice cream and some hugs.”

Concern: Candace starts going to public school in ’93 AND SHE IS A NEW ACTRESS. Also, the clothes from “1993” are so “2015”.

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Question: Did Stamos, Bob and Dave really have whipped cream battles backstage? And if they didn’t, was this really the worst thing they could do? It’s like they’re 6th graders getting reprimanded at recess.

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Comment: Earlier in the movie, Bob’s sister tells him that their mom has some disease, but now it turns out that his sister has scleroderma. She later passes away and now I feel like an ass for saying they flirted earlier. All of the adult FH cast shows up to her funeral, and it’s nice to see them all supporting each other.

Question: Jeff Franklin created Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper? Because of his success with the show, he left Full House in order to get Mark Curry and co. off the ground. Jeff Franklin is responsible for your TGIF memories.

Comment: I’m so over this Bob/wife drama, especially because I know how it ends. There’s more about this than Jodie Sweetin.

Comment: We’re suddenly backstage at a fashion show where Dave and John are guests and John literally has a meet cute with Rebecca Romijn (I still call you last name Stamos).

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Concern: Lori gets divorced right as John starts dating Rebecca. Talk about bad timing. Perhaps they would have actually made a good couple?

Comment: The whole cast is gathered in a room and told the show is cancelled and they’re filming the last one next week. Jodie has a difficult time accepting this. This is really her only storyline beside being jealous of Candace/Andrea friendship.

“Now I’m even losing my make believe husband.” Lori about John. Too soon?

Question: WHO are the people in this audience?

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Comment: The last scene is very similar to the final scene of the series, in which Deej is off to her prom without a date but Kimmy surprises her by inviting Steve, who we see for the first time. Also for the first time: Nicky and Alex. Not seen: Michelle’s concussion where she forgets everything and confronts her other self AKA screen time for both MK and A.

“See somehow everything has a way of working out.”

“As long as we stick together.”

‘The way we always do.” META, MUCH?

Concern: We cut to two years later, and we’re back to seeing Bob doing standup. He overhears a woman say “It makes me feel gross. That’s Danny Tanner up there saying those horrible things!” You know what makes me feel gross? This woman’s inability to separate actor from character. She’s overreacting.

Comment: We see that John went on to star in a Broadway revival of How To Succeed… and he’s super in love with Rebecca Romijn, Bob gets a divorce (obvi), and Dave hosts a charity hockey game. Candace and Lori (who look the same age, BTW) visit Dave in the locker room, where he introduces Candace to Russian hockey player and her future husband Val, who lrearned Rnglish watching Full House in Russia… So their relationship started because he was a fanboy?

Concern: Candace and Val get married a year after FH ends, and all the cast goes to her wedding. Dave sits next to this woman:

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Candace meets and greets every. single. member. of the cast as if she’s a pop star backstage and meeting her fans and I literally say outloud  I HATE THIS.

Comment: Bob gives a speech at Candace’s wedding, and talks about the influence Danny Tanner had on his life.

“The best thing about Danny was that he knew what was important. He surrounded himself with lots of poeple he loved…”

“With ice cream and so many hugs!”

“As you start your new family, just know wherever you go – wherever any of us go – we’ll always have this family (John aside: that’s true). The one we made.” ::Dave farts::

Cue: Follow You Down. No, seriously, Follow You Down started playing in the background.

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Concern: THERE IS A VOICE OVER. I THINK IT’S DAVE? THERE IS A VOICE OVER THAT MIGHT BE DAVE PLAYED OVER A MONTAGE OF WHAT WE’VE SEEN SO FAR AND THE FH BILLBOARD BEING TAKEN DOWN.

“We had such good memories… and to this day, when one of deals with hard times, or one of the many challenges that life puts in front of us, the other ones do whatever they can to help out. You know, it’s pretty incredible after all these years we all remain close and get together often  – like the family we are.”

This actually faded into a pink background and FH graphic.

 

Playlist of the Month: Ridiculous Summer Jams

There are two times a year when we all act so ridiculous – wearing wacky clothes and garish color combos, attending party after party, and listening to corny novelty songs – that you have to wonder if we all have temporarily lost our minds. One of these times is Christmas – too wintery, too cold, no thank you – and the other is summer.

When we look back at the summers of our past, the soundtrack is a series of pop and hip hop jams, each more ridiculous than the last. We have another month of summer to go – a whole month of sunny skies, sundresses, and warm nights! And we have just the ridiculous summer jam soundtrack to remind us of all those silly, long-ago summer tunes.

Listen to the entire playlist on Spotify!

Jump by Kris Kross
{April 1992}

This song is anything but wiggidy wiggidy wiggidy whack, and makes me want to put on my backwards overalls and sideways ball cap. [ Favorite summer style c. 1992 – 1995: overall shorts with one strap undone, pacifier necklace, keds.] Jump was such a sensation during the summer of ’92 that my brother joked that he would one day have two sons and name them Kris and Kross. 2015: his boys are named Charley and Henry.

I thought the lyrics were more overtly summery, but they aren’t. I guess as a kid I just equated summer with jumping and free-form movement and winter with huddling miserably.

Fly by Sugar Ray
{June 1997}

Summer days from the mid-90s are a blur of riding bikes with the neighborhood kids, making new friends at acting camp, and hanging out at my aunt’s pool until way past my bedtime. This song was all over the place in the summer of ’97 and I can almost still taste the chlorine-tinged Sour Patch Kids when I listen to it. It’s also a little ridiculous: you just started talking two sentences ago, why are you telling me that your mother died? What are those weird sounds you’re making in the middle of it? Are you having a stroke? Is that how your mother died?

Walkin On The Sun by Smash Mouth
{July 1997}

This band’s songs were so tied to summer in the mid and late 90s that on my initial draft of the list I just said “something by Smash Mouth.” I’m sure Smash Mouth fans existed, but I never knew any. It’s more like their music just materialized near swimming pools, beach shops, and water parks from thin air during the summers of 1997 – 2003.

Summer Girls by L.F.O.
{June 1999}

In the summer of 1999 I was about to begin eighth grade. According to the photo album from our trip to the Cape, my three teenage siblings and I were really into khaki. What can I say? Gap and Abercrombie were pushing the khakis, and the youth of America wanted to look like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch.  Summer Girls was chock full of nostalgic references to the early 90s, which was only several years in the past … but to a 12-year-old it was a lifetime ago.

Thong Song by Sisqo
{December 1999}

Don’t let the December release date fool you: the video was released in the spring of 2000, and there were massive tie-ins to MTV’s Spring Break in order to boost it for summer’s Tacky Music Season. This was really at the beginning of butts being a thing; J.Lo’s butt was a pretty new topic in the national dialogue. I feel like Thong Song is at least partially responsible for kicking off the Butt Zeitgeist that I don’t fully understand.

Traci’s Picks

In The Summertime by Shaggy featuring Rayvon
{May 1995}

Years before Shaggy was in denial of it being him and going by Mr. Boombastic, he kept the tone light and fun by sticking to his Jamaican roots and singing straight up about hittin on chicks in the summer. I think my main problem with this, though, is that he constantly refers to himself in third person. “Shaggy say”, “Raggamuffin Shaggy” – both lines muttered by Mr. Boombastic. Also, in general he constantly sounds like he’s got nasal problems.

Cruel Summer by Ace of Base
{July 1998}

If you did a drinking game to this song and took a shot anytime “Cruel Summer” is sung, you’d probably be dead. They’re complaining that it’s too hot and it’s a “cruel summer” because of the heat. What makes this ridic is that the singer is complaining his/her mate isn’t in the city to experience the record heat, and therefore it’s an even crueler summer. Guess what – it’s going to be fucking hot no matter if your signif oth is there or not.

Steal My Sunshine by Len
{July 1999}

“Now the fuzzy stare from not being there on a confusing morning week impaired my tribal lunar-speak” WHAT EVEN ARE YOU SAYING, LEN. ALSO WHAT IS A LEN??

Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamic C
{June 2000}

This song came out when we graduated middle school, and for that reason alone, the timing was perfect and it became THE JAM. Back then, the song was reminiscing about our school daze and promising to K.I.T. forever and ever. But I’m more annoyed with it now because A), I’m older than the “we talked all night about the rest of our lives, where we’re gonna be when we turn 25” line, and B) she spoke/sang it like almost slam poetry but with less anger? And a little bit of a whisper, because Vitamin C is embarrassed of her hair, I’m assuming?

Who Let The Dogs Out? by Baha Men
{July 2000}

No one ever got the answer to this. No one cares. Carry on with your summer.

It’s 1996: Let’s All Decorate Our Childhood Bedrooms!

In this Let’s All Decorate, we’re taking it back to 1996 – one of the summers that stands out sharpest in my memory, although I’m not sure why. The Olympics were on TV and I was obsessed with the entire U.S. Gymnastics team and their flat snappy hair clips. My brothers and I knocked a pint of wall primer onto the hall carpet imitating old people at a wedding dancing the Macarena. I spent my days at acting camp, falling hard for improv. Mitzi, my beloved, gentle mutt, slipped out of the front gate and was never seen again. My mission in life was to be the kind of person who owned a bra, and by fall I had one (I concede that it was, and is, completely unnecessary).  Inspired by the summer’s hit film Harriet The Spy, I took to observing my inner-city neighbors and writing down their activities in a notebook … for about two weeks, when I forgot. There were kind of a lot of drug deals, to be honest. And with my older sister about to head off to her first year of college, we were all shuffling bedrooms.

Nothing says “child of privilege” more than getting your very own bedroom, and being given permission to pick out a new bedspread, wallpaper, and accessories. I took the mission very seriously for an almost-10-year-old: I went antiquing. However, most of my planning consisted of flipping through the giant fall Sears and J.C. Penney catalogs and dreaming about the perfectly coordinated tween bedroom.

A Stupid Comforter

THIS EXACT SET. Yes. The back had pink dots and teal bows.

Now, as an almost-fifth-grader, I wasn’t going in for licensed character merchandise anymore. But there was a comforter set for any tv show, movie, or hobby you were into. In my previous bedroom I had Minnie Mouse because my mom predicted that I’d only be into Beauty and the Beast for a year of so (so instead I got a character I was never into ever).

Here, you like unicorns? Of course you do. Enough to sleep under them? Hell yes:

Sports? I don’t get it, but sure, why not:

Maybe you’re just generically the kind of kid who likes to listen to music and eat ice cream, probably? (AKA the “your dad’s new girlfriend helped decorate a room in his new townhouse and things are okay, but sort of weird” set)

Curtains That Match The Comforter A Little TOO Well

I have to go put my head between my knees for a sec. Yikes. That’s a sick Mrs. Potts on the bedside table, though. Also: canopy beds. YES. Yes. Like sleeping in your own secret tent/fort every night.

But did anyone have parents who bought the whole curtain/rug/bedding set? Because my mom was always  like “come on, Moll, you can have the comforter but I’m just getting white curtains from K-Mart.” Unlike this nerd (who is probs really great at Carmen Sandiego):

A Bed That’s Trying To Be Something Else

Today my bed is just trying to be a bed. Well, I made the headboard out of an 1800s barn door, so I guess it’s trying to be that, but it’s mostly just a bed. But in 1996, your bed could be anything! It could be a race car, a doll house, or – as I had c. 1999 – a bookcase. I don’t know why beds couldn’t just be themselves but it was sort of a weird time socio-culturally.

Like, look at this lucky freaking kid. You just know that in 2015 she’s one of those girls who has a ridiculously lucrative job doing something vague in marketing and who actually enjoys bridal and baby showers, because her life has been blessed from day one:

By the way, I slept in my nephew’s race car bed last year and it was just like a tiny, awful bed with static electricity on the sides.

A Desk You’ll Never Use

Yeah, you’ll never use that desk. You do your homework at the dining room table.

Above is Abbi Jacobson’s childhood desk, and who knows, maybe she DID use it. Maybe that’s how she became who she is today, by being the kind of person who actually uses her desk.

A Regrettable Chair

Hey, former 90s kid, current adult person! How’s your back feeling? Not awesome? Yeah, that’s because we sat on bean bags and, like, pool toys. The inflatable chair was more late 90s and the bean bag was more early-mid, if memory serves.

Fun fact: my cat used my inflatable chair as a litter box (as it should be, honestly) and then my dad sloshed cat pee everywhere getting it downstairs. So not worth $21.99 from the Delia*s catalog.

A Shelf For Your Treasures and Collections (AKA Beanie Babies and Creepy Porcelain Dolls)

In the 90s, children and old ladies alike were really into collecting useless things. I actually still have a mix of mine and my grandma’s 90s porcelain doll collections in boxes in my attic that I won’t open because they’ll probably start haunting me. Like Kirsten Dunst, pictured above, you probably used your shelves to “express your personality” and stash your Dottie the Dalmation and World Book collection, plus maybe a Sand Art creation or two.

Maybe A Rug That Looked Like A Road?

As far as I was concerned, these were strictly for rich kids and dentist waiting rooms.

The Trouble With End gAme

It’s been one week since the big -A reveAl on Pretty Little Liars, and per the Internet, there’s a mixed bag of emotions on who turned out to be torturing this group of teenagers for three (?) years.

***SPOILER – BUT REALLY IF YOU WATCH THIS SHOW YOU SHOULD’VE SEEN IT ALREADY – ALERT***

To me, it seems like 80% of fans are upset that -A turned out to be CeCe Drake aka Charles DiLaurentis aka the transgender Charlotte DiLaurentis, while 20% are happy with the turn of events. When I watched it, I wasn’t immediately angry, or annoyed, or much of anything really. I think the word to best describe it would be… ambivalent?

ed note: finding riggins/taylor kitsch BTS gifs on the interwebs is pure gold

I’ve seen every episode of the show since the pilot, and stuck with it for six seasons, looking for clues and reading theories, but not going too far down the rabbit hole like those die-hArd fans. I think a theory that most fans concluded was the most likely was that Wren, the hot British doctor, would be A, and that made sense to me. Annddd it turned out that was wrong.

Now that I’ve had a week to digest the whole CeCe/Charles scenario, what I’m really annoyed with when it comes down with it, is this trend of TV writers stringing along their viewers for a long period of time just to result in fan fury. For those of you who aren’t into teen dramas like I am, the best thing I can compare this to is the How I Met Your Mother finale.

Last year, after nine seasons, we discovered the titular Mother dies of an undisclosed disease, and 2030 Ted is telling his kids the story basically as a way to indirectly ask them if it’s okay that he moves on and dates Aunt Robin. Yes, in a spectacular two-hour finale of How I MET YOUR MOTHER, we see Ted meet The Mother after Robin and Barney’s wedding, a fast forward which features Robin and Barney divorcing, Lily and Marshall having another kid (that they probs didn’t really want), The Mother dying (RIP Tracy McConnell), and the show coming full circle with Ted standing outside Robin’s apartment with a blue french horn.

It’s not that I hated that Ted went back to Robin in the end, because, meh, whatever, but it’s the fact that the creators kind of misled the viewer into thinking the endgame was How Ted Mosby Met His Wife, not How Ted Mosby Fell In Love Again. Things were looking up at the end of season eight, when we see The Mother/Tracy McConnell for the first time. It was exciting to see flash forwards of her and Ted happily together, and her meeting the other four BFFs. I was looking forward to their happy ending in 2030. But when the series finale came, fans’ worst fears came true, and Tracy was dunzo. To me, she was used as a plot device, a minor character in the overarching storyline just to show the viewer that in fact, Ted had been in love with Robin the whole eight years we’ve spent watching the show. It was a plotline that had been brought up multiple times in the show, but we viewers dismissed it because it was clear that each Robin and Ted had moved on.

HIMYM creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas revealed after the series finale that they had this plan of Robin and Ted coming together in the series finale since season one. Hey, remember in the pilot when Ted made it clear he called Robin AUNT Robin on purpose, because Carter and Craig wanted us to know that she wasn’t the mother? It clearly implied those two kids didn’t belong to Robin, and thus the viewer was hooked for the next nine seasons to find out who that Mother was.

Although not explicit in its title, Pretty Little Liars has done the same. It’s a mystery drama that in the pilot, is set up that this group of four girlfriends discover their other BFF, Allison, is dead after she went missing. The girls each receive threatening messages from a mysterious -A, and for the next six seasons, we went deep into the world of Rosewood, its many characters, and tried to uncover the identity of this psycho -A.

Those theories that I mentioned before – hardcore fans of PLL take down every note, every detail, scour over every minute clue that is shown in each episode and compile them in one huge Internet Bible as if the world of Rosewood is real. There have been five and a half seasons of twists and turns, and turns and twists on top of those, and red herrings and actual clues mixed in that it makes my head actually hurt.

prop clue board or the inside of a PLL fan’s brain?

Pretty Little Liars is in no way considered on the same level as mysteries like Twin Peaks or even classified in Netflix’s Thought-Provoking, Cerebral Dramas. However, the conceit of the actual program, like How I Met Your Mother, is interesting and intriguing, but the execution of the conclusion was nothing less than self-gratification, a bit condescending and overall, disappointing.

The point is, there is so much build up to the end game, not just in PLL, but in other shows like Lost or Gossip Girl, where the entire series is built upon and beloved because you’re hoping for resolution at the end. You put your trust in the writers that they’re leading you on through this (often times) exhaustive journey to be rewarded with a satisfying end. The problem, I think, is that sometimes writers get so wrapped up in their own vision of how their project is going to wrap, that they put fan service to the wayside. In recent years, I can think of shows like Parks and Recreation and Friday Night Lights that ended on notes that were accepted and praised by the fans. Although there are fewer and less ‘dramatic’ stakes for Leslie Knope taking a Washington D.C. job than, say, Emily almost getting chopped up by a buzzsaw thanks to -A, those shows reached endings that were the best outcome for the characters and not a blatant put-upon vision from the creators of the shows. So TV writers who are probably not reading this, I hope that you take into consideration that sometimes dragging out a story just to prove a point isn’t the way to go. And hey, PLL writers, there’s still time – we still have another season and a half for you to win our trust back. Make it count.

 

Confusion, Boredom, Disgust: Faces Of Adults At The Teen Choice Awards

A lot of things stood between me and the Teen Choice Awards. Mainly adulthood, which meant I was watching full of questions: why was everyone screaming so much? Who were these people? Why are some people wearing shorts and others wearing semi-formalwear? Another problem was my rip-roaring “Sunday night in my late 20s” schedule – how would I fold laundry, take a shower, dust the downstairs, do crunches AND eat half a box of Kashi sea salt crackers while watching this mess?

So I may not have watched the entire show, but I was heartened by the solidarity  I felt with the non-teens in the audience, whose faces betrayed them: their choice was to be anywhere but at these awards.

Josh Peck, a 28-year-old, exhorted the children in the audience to look up from their phones. When Josh Peck and I were teens (shoutout to the 1986 babies!) the only reason you’d be looking down at your phone is if you were in the middle of a particularly long game of Snake.

Scott Earnestwood, an adult man, is perplexed. Our face exactly, Scott.

John Stamos, a famous uncle, gives side-eye to his younger self – something I often do figuratively but never IRL.

Sarah Hyland, who can vote and drink in all 50 states, tripped… then dropped an f-bomb, because she’s an adult and she can.

Ellen DeGeneres and Portia DeRossi, a married couple, celebrated their seven-year anniversary at the Teen Choice Awards … because see, when you’re a full-fledged grown-up you get stuck doing work stuff on your birthday or anniversary a lot of the time.

Britney Spears, a mom, brought her cute kids and niece along because “mom, we don’t HAVE a bedtime on summer vacation” and also because her sons are now closer in age to Baby One More Time-era Britney than Britney is.

Nina Dobrev, former teen/ current 26-year-old, delivered a big “see ya later, suckers!” to the teen vampire genre.

And finally, Gabourey Sidibe, not a girl not yet a woman, decided to just go with it:

All That LiveBlog: ‘Naughty By Nature’ – And A Bag Of (Chocolate) Chips

It’s the final day of Big Orange Couch Week, and we’re ending it with a classic SNICK show, All That. The sketch comedy show became a staple for Nickelodeon, with a tenure spanning over 10 seasons and introducing some of the greatest young talent America has to offer, including Kenan Thompson, Nick Cannon, Amanda Bynes, Jamie Lynn Spears, among others.  All That sparked five spin-off shows, a feature film, and even a live tour, and was beloved by many generations. We may not have noticed it at the time, but All That was changing the way kids watched and consumed television, influenced the way we doled out our own comedy, and shaped millions of kids’ view on diversity, without even knowing it.

It’s impossible to discuss the impact of All That in its entirety, so we’ll just try with one episode.

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Episode Title: Naughty By Nature

Air Date: October 7, 1995

All That Audition footage: The cast takes a look at some All That audition footage. Good Burger Commercial: Ed (Kel) tries hard to read the cue cards right in order to do a commercial. Loud Librarian: Librarian (Lori Beth) doesn’t want any noise to happen in her libarary even though she is the one making all the major noise. Randy & Mandy: Apparently, all the chocolate comsumed by Randy (Kenan) gives him a bad toothache. Mandy (Angelique) tries what she can to make it better. Musical Guest: Naughty By Nature (Clap Yo Hands)

Hit Play!!!

Cold Open T: This episode is the season two premiere, and we’re starting off with a segment where we find out how the kids got their jobs on the show. Angelique wears a hat made out of bread that has the “casting directors” in stitches, but when the next girl goes up and stands there eating a sandwich, they are not amused. Choose your gluten jokes carefully, aspiring kid actors.

They’re also put through the ringer with some treadmill time, an obstacle course, eat 520 cocktail wieners, gymnastics, etc.

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“What’s the opposite of *beeeepp* Judge

“*Bloooooop*” Kenan Thompson, I AM LEGIT LOL-ING.

M: Just from this open alone, anybody could predict that Kenan would be the breakout comedy star of the group. And maybe Sandwich Girl. I thought it was funny.

2:23 T: They even tested our GUTS *Cross promotion, folks*

M: This reminds me that one of my “going off to college” dreams was arriving at the dorm to find that my roommate had a piece of the aggrocrag just chilling all casual under their lofted bunk.

3:04 “You viewers can rest easy knowing each of our cast members has unusually thick thigh muscles.” THIS SHOW IS SO FUNNY

3:14 T: Gosh, this theme song is still so iconic and timeless. Playing on repeat. #RIPLeftEye

M: I got excited as soon as I heard “Fresh out the box!” But I remember having a lot of trouble with some of the lyrics in the days before you could just Google them. “My posse and my crew” sounded like “my bossie and my prince.” And 8-year-old me was just like “okay, cool… weird, but cool.”

3:52 M: I totally wanted to be Alisa Reyes. Can you blame me? She was like the quintessential 90s teen girl.

T: Yeah she was definitely the “Kelly Kapowski” of the bunch, if you will.

4:25 T: Josh, whose last name is NOT Hartnett, kinda looks like a Hartnett. I am confuse.

T: The director for this Good Burger commercial is wearing a beret. All he needs is one of those cone speaker things to finish his 1940s look.

Also, Kel accidentally knocks over a giant burger… stand? and knocks out the actor/Josh, so the director’s all, ok kid who actually works here, you have to take his place. You adults know full damn well this would not happen IRL.

M: So many SAG cards were earned by freak on-set accidents like that.

M: Kel, re commercials: Have you ever seen the one with the bunny that keeps going.. and going, and going? And just when you think he’s gonna stop… he goooeeesss.

T: Never heard of it.

M: Was Goodburger Kel supposed to be a 90s stoner type, because that was very lost on me c. 1996.

T: I think, yes?? I never got that either, but I’m assuming we weren’t supposed to? I just thought he was a super California surfer dude type. It’s like when Pixar puts jokes in the movies for adults.

T: Guys, I’m legit laughing out loud at these jokes, IDK what’s happening to me.

M: Me too, it’s fine, we’re fine. All That shaped our generation’s comedic sensibilities and we don’t give it enough cred.

T: Kel’s name in this sketch is Ed??

7:25 T: Kel, not used to the cameras, BECAUSE HE IS NOT AN ACTOR, keeps messing up his lines, including his iconic, ‘Can I take your order?’. In one take he accidentally says, “Can I take your mother?” and holy crap I had to play it multiple times because I couldn’t stop laughing at his delivery.

7:53 M: “The bunny wouldn’t quit! The bunny would keep goin’ and goin’ and goin’!: See, this was good. In comparison, kid’s shows today are just really neon and shouty, but not exactly funny.

9:00 T: Fun fact: The guy who plays the boss in this sketch, and the resident adult in the show is named Dan Schneider, who is also the executive producer and writer for All That. Before the show, he was in a 1980s sitcom called Head of the Class that I remember watching in Nick at Nite reruns and being funny. Dan has continued his career with Nickelodeon since All That, creating such hits as The Amanda Show, What I Like About You, Drake & Josh, Zoey 101, iCarly Victorious, and Sam & Cat. He also wrote the screenplays for the Good Burger movie and Big Fat Liar. So, he’s pretty much a big deal.

9:25 T: Lori Beth Denberg in Vital Information is how she will always look in my memories.

M: During break time in third grade, my friends and I would always make up Vital Information segments. Cool kid for life, here.

T: This is why we’re friends.

10:10: T: I sometimes use, ‘QUIET, THIS IS A LIBRARY!’ as a recent and topical reference.

M: No, but doesn’t the silliness of some of these sketches remind you of early SNL or Lily Tomlin sketches? Like Land Sharks / Roseanne Rosanadanna / Ernestine-type stuff?

T: YES!!

T: I swear neither of us planned or expected to be singing the praises of All That for this whole post.

T: But here we are.

12:12 T: Was Katrina always wearing weird vests? Because that’s also how I remember her.

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M: She was, but in her defense weird vests were sort of a thing at the time. Especially among kid actors, for some reason. Just vests and floppy berets and speaking like you’re in the talk-singing segment of a Kidz Bop song.

13:48 T: Cooking with Randy and Mandy! I remember really liking this sketch. Maybe it was because of the chocolate.

M: It was my version of gross-out humor then. It was funny, but also TOO MUCH CHOCOLATE.

14:30 T: Why is the inside of that giant chocolate block white? And why did Kenan just use his Pierre Escargot laugh when he scarfed down chocolate syrup?

T: Man, All That was not only a precursor to Kenan being on Saturday Night Live, but I think it also instilled in me the love of sketch comedy at a young age. And to bring up #RepresentationIsImportant for the second time this week, I think it was also great that the cast was so diverse. I mean, even SNL in the past few years has been under fire for not employing people of color/minorities in general, so All That was really groundbreaking in that sense.

M: I could be very wrong, but it felt like kid’s tv in particular was more diverse in the 90s, and also that they just went with the kids who are best for the job — not like a lot of the Nickelodeon/ Disney stuff today where the kids can’t act but will age into a marketably attractive teen in a few years.

16:28 M: Kenan weeping over not being able to eat the chocolate is just ::cry-laughing emoji::

T: Ok, but, Kenan is such a star. You can tell that he outshines a lot of his cast members and was destined to be a comedian. Even in this chocolate jacuzzi with his sister (??)

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T: This is the first time (as an adult) that I’ve wanted to watch more All That.

M: I haven’t said this to anyone since the mid-90s, but do you want to come over to my house and watch All That? We could have a pizza party!

T: See ya there. Free Saturday?