Hamilton Explained: The Schuyler Sisters

True to our promise, we’re becoming a Hamilton blog. Okay, maybe not full time, but you didn’t really think we’d stop at one post, did you? We’ve both been playing the cast recording nonstop, and new references and allusions rise up in the songs every time we listen. I’m sure we’ll keep discovering more, but we’re ready to start unpacking some of the many-layered references in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics.

First up – our introduction to the O.G. Kardashians, the Destiny’s Child-Made-Entirely-Of-Beyonces, the It Girls Of The Eighteenth Century… the Schuyler Sisters. Lyrics are in italics, the lines that I’m elaborating on are in bold, and our comments are next to bullet points.

The Schuyler Sisters

[BURR]
There’s nothing rich folks love more
Than going downtown and slumming it with the poor
They pull up in their carriages and gawk at the students in the common
Just to watch ‘em talk

  • In 1773, Alexander Hamilton began studying at King’s College – now Columbia University – in New York. King’s College was “overwhelmingly loyalist” at the time. [source]
  • The Liberty Pole in the Common (City Hall Park) was a popular site for debates between the Loyalists and Patriots. [source]
  • As a student, Hamilton wrote treatises, delivered speeches, and was known to frequent the Liberty Pole in the common. [source, source]
  • From genius.com: similar in flow and topic to Melle Mell’s verses in Grandmaster Flash classic The Message. [source, source]

Take Philip Schuyler, the man is loaded

  • The Schuylers were a prominent Dutch American family, and Philip’s wife was Catherine Van Rensselaer of the absurdly-wealthy-and-influential Van Rensselaers. Colonial power couple, right there. [source]
  • And his house was pretty legit:schuyler

Uh oh, but little does he know that
His daughters, Peggy, Angelica, Eliza
Sneak into the city just to watch all the guys at

  • The Schuyler sisters, raised in the pretty good mansion pictured above, stayed with their aunt and uncle for a time in Morristown, NJ. At the time, Philip was serving in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia. [source] They met officers in Morrisown, a revolutionary hotspot. [source]

[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ANGELICA]
Angelica!
[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ELIZA]
Eliza!
[PEGGY]
And Peggy!
[COMPANY]
Work, work
The Schuyler sisters

  • The repeated “work, work” in the chorus is a bit reminiscent of Do You Love Me by The Contours – possible coincidence. [source]

[ANGELICA]
Angelica!
[PEGGY]
Peggy!
[ELIZA]
Eliza!

[COMPANY]
Work!

  • A Rap Genius user suggests that this might be a tribute to the roll call in Hairspray’s The Nicest Kids In Town. [source]

[PEGGY]
Daddy said to be home by sundown
[ANGELICA]
Daddy doesn’t need to know
[PEGGY]
Daddy said not to go downtown
[ANGELICA]
Like I said, you’re free to go

  • I haven’t tracked down evidence of the Schuyler sisters gallivanting through New York – although TBH if it was a stealth sneak-out like Angelica’s describing, I guess I wouldn’t find that anyway. But since New York City was occupied by the British during the war, Philip Schuyler probably wouldn’t have wanted his daughters there. [source]
  • But—look around, look around
    The revolution’s happening in New York
    [ELIZA & PEGGY]
    New York
  • The repeated New York, New York sounds a bit reminiscent of the Alicia Keys chorus in Empire State Of Mind.

[COMPANY]
Angelica
[SISTERS & COMPANY]
Work!

[PEGGY]
It’s bad enough Daddy wants to go to war

  • Gen. Philip Schuyler was chosen as a major-general by the Continental Congress in 1775, and went on to aid the colonists in their instrumental victory at the Battle of Saratoga.[source]

[ELIZA]
People shouting in the square

  • During the Revolutionary War era news and treatises were often read in public (town criers, anyone?) and public debates were common, as mentioned in the first verse. Imagine a live-action internet comments section.

[PEGGY]
It’s bad enough there’ll be violence on our shore
[ANGELICA]
New ideas in the air

[ANGELICA & MALE ENSEMBLE]
Look around, look around—

[ELIZA]
Angelica, remind me what we’re looking for

[ALL MEN]
She’s looking for me!

[ANGELICA (COMPANY)]
Eliza, I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)
I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)
I’m looking for a mind at work (work, work)
Woa-oah
[SISTERS]
Woa-oah
[SISTERS & COMPANY]
Work!

  • A twitter user pointed out that “looking for a mind at work” seems to be a West Wing reference:

This was also mentioned on genius.com. [Which I always thought was called Rap Genius??]

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda has confirmed West Wing as an influence in writing Hamilton. [source]

[BURR]
Ooh, there’s nothing like summer in the city
Someone in a rush next to someone looking pretty

  • Potential allusion: The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer In The City – Hot town, summer in the city / Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty

Excuse me, miss, I know it’s not funny

  • Potential allusion: Jay-Z’s Excuse Me Miss. Not convinced because the flow sounds nothing like that one, but this verse definitely sounds like … something? Right? Anyone?

But your perfume smells like your daddy’s got money
Why you slummin’ in the city in your fancy heels?
You searchin’ for an urchin who can give you ideals?

[ANGELICA]
Burr, you disgust me

[BURR]
Ahh, so you’ve discussed me
I’m a trust fund, baby, you can trust me

  • A play on “trust fund baby” – a rich kid with family money.

[ANGELICA]
I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine

  • Thomas Paine’s Common Sense was a 1776 pamphlet that you probably read or learned about in American history. It was extraordinarily popular and was influential in drumming up popular support for the Patriots’ cause. [source]

So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane

  • One Burr biographer described Angelica as “witty, intelligent, and rambunctious,” which is a nicer way of saying it anyway? [source]

You want a revolution? I want a revelation
So listen to my declaration:

[ALL SISTERS]
“We hold these truths to be self-evident

That all men are created equal”

  • Declaration of Independence,  1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal […].”
  • Its words were echoed 70 years later at the Seneca Falls Convention, in the Declaration of Sentiments (We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal). Which will be relevant in like two seconds.

[ANGELICA (COMPANY)]
And when I meet Thomas Jefferson (unh!)
I’mma compel him to include women in the sequel

  • So, there’s that: the words of the Declaration were an important part of Americans’ continued fight for independence. Maybe not an intentional reference, but still interesting.
  • As for the Thomas Jefferson part: Angelica Schuyler Church carried on extensive correspondence with Thomas Jefferson. From his letters to her, it looks like she at least tried to talk politics, to little avail. Jefferson wrote: “You see by the papers, and I suppose by your letters also, how much your native state has been agitated by the question on the new Constitution. But that need not agitate you. The tender breasts of ladies were not formed for political convulsion.” [source] Can’t win ’em all.
  • Aaron Burr, however, would have agreed with Angelica: he was really into Mary Wollstonecraft. [source]. But he was still kind of a dick, though.

[WOMEN]
Work!

[ELIZA]
Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now

  • This could be a reference to the ‘look around, look around, look around’ part of June Is Bustin’ Out All Over from Carousel, which I forgot was like 10 minutes long. [source] Probably not, because Carousel just doesn’t feel like an influence here. Plus “look around” is like …. kind of a common expression.
  • Okay, now we’re heading into repeat lyrics, so it’s a good time to mention that I grabbed the lyrics from genius.com, where folks collaborate on explaining and breaking down lyrics. No doubt more will be added there over time, so you may want to look back in a while. [source]
  • Official lyrics are here.
  • And finally, we can both vouch that dropping $20 on the iTunes album was two Hamiltons well-spent.

[ELIZA, PEGGY]
Look around, look around at how
Lucky we are to be alive right now
[ALL SISTERS]
History is happening in Manhattan and we
Just happen to be in the greatest city in the world

[SISTERS & COMPANY]
In the greatest city in the world!

[ANGELICA (ELIZA, PEGGY) ((MEN))]
Cause I’ve been reading Common Sense by Thomas Paine
(look around, look around)((hey, hey, hey, hey))
So men say that I’m intense or I’m insane
(the revolution’s happening in)((hey, hey, hey, hey))
[ANGELICA (ELIZA, PEGGY) ((WOMEN))]
(New York) You want a revolution? ((look around, look around))
I want a revelation (In New York, woah)
So listen to my declaration ((the revolution’s happening))

[ALL SISTERS (WOMEN) ((MEN))]
We hold these truths to be self evident
(look around, look around) (hey, hey)
That all men are created equal
(at how lucky we are to be alive right now) (hey, hey)

[ALL SISTERS & COMPANY]
Look around, look around
At how lucky we are to be alive right now
History is happening in Manhattan
And we just happen to be
[WOMEN (MEN)]
In the greatest city in the world (in the greatest city)
[COMPANY]
In the greatest city in the world!

[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ANGELICA]
Angelica!
[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ELIZA]
Eliza!
[PEGGY]
And Peggy!
[COMPANY]
Work, work
[ALL SISTERS]
The Schuyler sisters
[COMPANY]
Work, work

[ALL SISTERS (COMPANY)]
We’re looking for a mind at work (work, work)
Hey (work, work)
[ANGELICA (COMPANY)]
Woah-ah! (work, work)
[ELIZA & PEGGY (COMPANY)]
Hey (work, work)
In the greatest city

[ALL SISTERS]
In the greatest city
In the world!

[COMPANY]
In the greatest city in the world!

Nickelodeon’s Making You Feel Young/Old Again

There had been rumors that the head honchos over at Nickelodeon were conjuring something up – specifically aimed towards millennials – over this past month, and then last week, it was confirmed. Starting on October 5th, there would be a block of programming called The Splat from 10pm to 6am on Teen Nick. To kick it off, Kenan & Kel had a surprise reunion on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon by revisiting their iconic Good Burger sketch (despite the fact Kel said Kenan refused to ever be seen with him again?).

They couldn’t have had a better way to get people excited for The Splat, which will of course be showing reruns of Kenan & Kel and All That. Not to mention repeats of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Salute Your Shorts, Rocko’s Modern Life, Legends of The Hidden Temple, and more. So for all your college kids who are already staying up late writing those papers, here’s another excuse to keep procrastinating in the early hours of the morning.

Of course, we’re excited for this new programming (we did have an entire week dedicate to SNICK already), but I’m particularly excited after finding out they’re also showing old promos and interstitials that originally ran in the 90s/early 00s. Have you guys ever gone back and watched commercials from back then? It’s amazing and a black hole that is very hard to come out of when you’re trying to go to sleep (but if you want to waste time, RetroJunk.com is where it’s at).

Before The Splat actually kicks off next week, here are a few choice promos from old school Nickelodeon that will make you simultaneously get nostalgic and make you feel real old at the same time. Just remember that 1995 was 20 years ago, NOT 10.

Until The Fat Lady Sings

I feel like this particular bumper was played a lot, and one of the more memorable scenarios from the 90s. Watching it now, I’m just thinking how that actress must have haaated her life with that enormous wig on her head for hours.

A Cautionary Fruit Tale

First of all, these fruits remind me of those erasers from the 90s that you think would smell like whatever fruit it’s shaped like, but instead just smelled like plastic. Second, kids love a good pun. I mean, I love a good pun, but “orange you glad” is a classic. Add on the fact they’re singing, and you’ve got a catchy tune. Just ignore the fact they fall to their deaths at the end.

Whatever Happened to Porkchop?

Speaking of catchy tunes, any 90s kid can hum you the theme song to Doug. Moreover, the opening credits were also unforgettable thanks to its simplistic nature. It was only natural for Nickelodeon animators to create a bumper in its style.

Get Those Harmonies

Do these barbershop singers look like they’re three heads on one body? Also, why are they singing at night? And why are the billboard workers putting the posters up at night too?

Here With My Friends

I just realized Nickelodeon got to a point where they were like, ‘Hey, ya know what really works for us in these bumpers? A trio of random people/animals/things that sing our theme song in beautiful harmonies.’ This also reminds me of that All My Friends Are Dead book. THAT’S THE HARSH REALITY, KIDS.

Made on Windows Movie Maker

This looks like a commercial for Mad Gabs.

Akin to The Little Mermaid

They stepped up their game and added a lead singing fish. They got a bigger budget.

The Prequel to Chicken Run

Guys, we hit the jackpot. A whole gospel choir full of singing chickens!!

 

Watch Your Back, Michigan J. Frog

Um, was Nickelodeon throwing lowkey shade at WB? Actually I don’t think WB existed yet, so probs not? Still. This also looks like the croc from the Crocodile Dentist game, which I had to Google as “Alligator Game” then “Crocodile teeth” then finally “Crocodile Dentist”.

Where Are Your Parents?

So you’re telling me this kid fell asleep in the living room while watching Nickelodeon, was dreaming about Nickelodeon when he started sleepwalking back to his bed, where he slumbered and continued to dream about Nickelodeon, but only in orange splat form? Ok, just wanted to be clear.

If You’re Thinking About My Baby

The kids’ version of Michael Jackson’s Black or White.

It’s 1994: Let’s All Decorate Your Grandma’s House!

In this edition of Let’s All Decorate, we are delving into one of my personal fascinations: grandparents. For the design-obsessed, there’s something even more fascinating about grandparents than their stories about the Great Depression: their houses. It’s almost like irrespective of income or geography, everyone’s grandmas and grandpas were decorating from the same catalog.

The best thing about your grandma’s house – other than your grandma, naturally – was that it was sort of a time capsule. After a certain point, your grandma probably decided that she was done redecorating, so visits to her house were like going to the Happy Days set. Even my more modern, design-minded grandma had these amazing artifacts of my mom’s 1950s childhood in her basement and closets. Visiting your grandma was a bit like time-traveling or visiting a living history museum.

Like all of our Let’s All Decorate installments, we are focusing on a time in the near past – roughly 1994, during our peak childhood years. In 1994, the relatively hip baby boomers weren’t yet grandparents (my boomer parents have 8 grandkids, but they don’t have a “grandma” house). No, grandparents of 90s kids were members of the “greatest generation” – which did not stand for “greatest generation of decorators.”

Let’s all decorate in 1994: when your grandparents’ house was full of love. Love, and probably a wooden television case.

Candy You Weren’t Allowed To Eat

“Eat me!”, the candy said.

“Eat some candy!”, your grandma said.

“Don’t eat that!”, Your mom said.

Everyone’s grandma seemed to have glass jars of candy – gumdrops and Werther’s Originals were popular choices. And your mom never let you eat it. Was it old? Dusty? Merely decorative? Who would keep jars of candy that children weren’t allowed to eat? Old people, is who.

It’s like every trip to grandma’s kitchen was a visit to one of those wedding candy bar tables and nobody gave you a gift bag.

A TV In A Giant Wooden Box

 

In the 1950s, there was an unfortunate collision of home decor forces: the rise of the television, coupled with the rise of suburban Colonial Revival. The result: the television set they would have watched in Colonial Williamsburg, complete with spindles and a drawer that didn’t open.

Fun fact: I remember my grandma searching for a new TV in the mid or late 90s. She complained about how hard it was to find TV sets in the giant wooden box, which she preferred because she said it looked nicer and warmer. Grandparents found naked televisions sort of stark and electronic-looking.

Grammy eventually found the wooden 13 Colonies Television, by the way. I imagine it was in a special basement stockroom marked “Grandma TVs.”

Paneling, Somewhere

When the grandparents of the 90s were the parents of the 1950s – 1970s, somebody convinced all of them that wood paneling was easy to clean and maintain, and could look either stately or rustic depending on how you styled it. My dad’s parents proudly proclaimed that they would never have to paint their living and dining room again!

Yeah. Because it looks like Pa Ingalls’ cabin, instead.

By the 1990s, nobody was installing wood paneling, but most grandparents still had it somewhere in their home, even if only in a basement lounge.

These Bowls

You know why everyone’s grandma had these bowls – often in way less appealing colors? Because she bought them in 1961 and Pyrex is indestructible. My mom has a set too, and I wish I did as well, because these bowls are the best.

Carpeting Where There Shouldn’t Be

And it was always gold or brown for some reason? And just a little bit too long.

When my parents bought their house from some older people in 2000, the entire house was full of gleaming original hardwoods – except the kitchen and the bathroom. The two very worst places to have carpeting.

Possibly Some Clear Runners On The Hardwoods Or Carpeting

Why even have hardwoods? Or carpeting? It really added to the “this is a museum of American life in 1976” vibe.

Toilet Paper And Kleenex Receptacles

Where grandma’s glue gun chops really had a chance to shine. Grandparents loved keeping a spare role on top of the toilet, and covering it in either a floral and lace-trimmed box, or maybe a hand-knitted cozy. Sometimes the toilet paper cover looked like like a human woman from the past, to go with the misguided colonial motif.

Weirdly Dark Lamps

They’re lamps. Yet they’re somehow making everything look darker.

This one kind of chair

Both sets of grandparents had these. I scoffed, but now I kind of which I had them for some of those hard-to-fill corners of my house.

Drapes. Not Curtains. Drapes.

That you’d draw, not open or close. These were usually heavy, light-blocking, and in some kind of a gold  or mustard color.

A tweed couch

Not always the primary couch, it may have been a pullout in the family room for grandkid sleepovers. It wasn’t necessarily plaid.

Knick Knacks From The Land Of Their Ancestors

Whether your grandparents were right off the boat or daughters and sons of the American Revolution, they probably displayed their pride in their ancestral homeland through figurines, dolls, and plaques.

[Aside: in my weird family, my grandpas were both those Irish-American guys for whom “being Irish” is like their number one hobby, so ancestral knick-knacks abounded. I don’t even think I knew until mid-childhood that my grandmothers weren’t at all Irish. Go figure.]

Maybe some religious stuff, too

This varied. I had one of those Catholic grandmas who had all of the merch, so there were statues, portraits and rosaries all over that joint. At the very least, your grandparents probably had a church or synagogue directory with their photo in it, and phone numbers of all the other old people.

There were other things some grandparents’ houses had, like absurdly old photos of you, old people smell, and plates full of baked goods that were foisted on you as soon as you walked in the door. But without the heart and soul of the 1994 grandparents’ house – their total love for and obsession with their grandkids – it would have just been a collection of decorating mistakes and DIY disasters.

ICYIMI: Pope-a-Palooza

DC, Philly and New York – hope you’re surviving Pope Francis mania. Thank God (lit’rally) he’s heading back to Italy today so your roads will be (fairly) back to normal!

So The Pope’s In Your ‘Hood

Yesterday, Pope Francis touched down in his Shepherd One (large Alitalia plane) in Washington, D.C. for his first visit to the States as Pope (and as a human). It marked the beginning of a five-day trip on the east coast, and if I’m being real, interrupted my viewing of Ellen with Lester Holt describing a Fiat 500L. Even if you’re not Catholic, or religious, it’s still fascinating to keep up with, and if you’re a resident of DC, New York or Philadelphia, it’s kind of necessary since it will probably either make or break your day. So if you’re in one of these cities where the Pope is lit’rally blessing you with his presence, here are some guidelines to follow to stay sane with the holy one.

Get Ready For Angry Commuters

In Los Angeles, we already deal with a lot of traffic. But people’s anger is tested when the President is in town, as major streets have to be closed, subsequently rerouting folks all over the place. It’s the kind of anger that’s usually taken out on all social media platforms by pretty much anyone. There’s nothing worse than assuming you’ll be on time for work only to find out the roads are closed and you have to take 15 side streets instead, but everyone else is doing the same thing and you’re at a full stop and the only way to vent your frustration is by tweeting #THANKSOBAMA.

Spot His Ride

In likely Pope fashion, he got off the plane, walked on a red carpet, greeted the Obamas and misc. members of the archdiocese and got in his sleek, black, spacious Fiat 500L. If you’re one of the folks who saw this and thought, ‘Well that’s a choice’, Pope Francis is known for using more modest cars, as a reflection of his emphasis for a simple less consumeristic lifestyle. Still, the Popemobile is nothing compared to the whip he usually rides in all around the Vatican, a Renault 4 that’s 20 years old and has over 170,000 miles on it. I know Catholics are super not into change, but come on bro, at least see if Fiat can score you a 500L after giving them free advertising.


Hey, remember when Pope Francis’ predecessor quit? That was a good time.

So The Pope Dumped You

So, your Pope has left you. Abdicated. Resigned. Whatever you call it, one day you had a Pope, and the next you didn’t. “I thought we were infallible!,” you say. “Bonds only broken by death! Probably yours, because you’re really, really old!”

I know. I know. It’s hard. The worst breakups are the ones where you never saw coming. In these days adjusting to life without a Pope, I’m here to offer words of support. There are plenty of Cardinals in the sea. It’s not you, it’s him. Or Him. I’m not sure which. Have you ever thought about online church?

Like many ladies who have been dumped, I am turning to the seminal self-help dating guide, He’s Just Not That Into You, and its companion volume, It’s Called A Breakup Because It’s Broken. You may know these books from the Sex and the City tie-in, or more likely, from reading them stealthily in the corner of a bookstore or library while heartbroken. Here is some advice from these books, and how it can help you in these dark, Pope-less days.

  • He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Breaking Up With You

I know you thought you were special to him, but considering he’s leaving you in the dust, Pope Benedict XVI was just not that into you. If he were, he’d be here.

  • He’s Just Not That Into You If He’s Disappeared On You

One day, you guys are doing great. The Pope is retweeting your witty Latin retorts and answering all your prayers. Then you notice that he’s suddenly off of Facebook every time you sign on. You text the Pope, and he gets back to you two days later, and is all, “my phone was charging.” Before you know it, every time you try to receive a benediction at St. Peter’s, the Pope is all, “sorry, I have to shepherd to the faithful in Somalia this week.” And you check the news, and the Pope wasn’t even IN Somalia. Sorry, lady — the Pope’s just not that into you.

  • He’s Just not that into you if he’s married (and other insane variations of being unavailable)

This one, along with the chapter “he’s just not that into you if he’s not having sex with you,” really says it all about your relationship with the pope. He’s married to God, or something, and also to the whole Church. You really expect someone who is married to the entire largest religion in the world to be into you? He’s not and I’m sorry.

  • He’s just not that into you if he only wants to see you when he’s drunk

The ONLY time Pope Benedict XVI called you to worship was when he had a chalice of communion wine at the ready. You didn’t feel even a little weird about that?

  • Don’t See Him Or Talk To Him For 60 Days

The best advice I’ve ever received is to cut off contact for a good long while – like, a month or two, at least. Don’t call the pope. Don’t answer his texts. Delete his number if you have to. Block the pope on G-Chat. Unfollow him on Twitter. You need to get that pope out of your head, and the only way to do that is to move on. When that white smoke appears above Vatican City, you don’t want to be all hung up on the old pope. You want to be ready to love again.

  • Get Rid Of His Stuff And The Things That Remind You Of Him

“But this CD has Pope Benedict’s favorite hymn on it!” – No. Stop. Who still has CDs anyway? Are you my dad?
“P.B.16 gave such a great speech on this piece of catechism!” – Put it down. Now.
“But my commemorative Pope Benedict collector’s plate might be worth big money some day!” – No it won’t. We all remember what happened with Beanie Babies.

  • Get Your Ass in Motion Every Day

You can’t just lounge around eating communion wafers all day. First of all, I think that’s church-illegal. Second, it’s just pathetic. Join an activity. Go to church, where the constant sitting and standing is a small-scale aerobic workout. Or stay home if that’s still too fresh and painful for you. Maybe join a book club*. Like eight out of ten book club members are people who have just been through breakups and need a distraction. The other two are new to the city.

* In the interest of full disclosure, sometimes my friends and I have “book club” but that’s just code for watching Dance Moms and drinking wine.

Saturday Spotlight: #Hamiltunes: I’m Willing To Wait For It

HERE

Of course, we’ve both been following Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash Broadway hit, Hamilton (do they still say “smash Broadway hit?”). This week the live stream of the cast recording was live streaming on NPR – so naturally, we posted a track-by-track reaction of our favorite uses of foreshadowing, Shakespeare references, and Leslie Odom Jr’s gorgeous voice.

THERE

Fall 2015 Pumpkin Spice Roundup

Now that it’s officially fall, we’re well into every white girl’s favorite time of the year – Pumpkin Spice season. I don’t know how it got to the extreme level of obsession, it’s like you really enjoy Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks one day, and the next thing you know, they’re marketing it as “PSL”, which is obviously the acronym for it and also the code baristas write on the cups. It’s gotten so crazy this year, that Starbucks tried to make it seem like PSL was available to VIPs, and if you wanted to get the bev 1 week early, you needed to know the secret code. There was a secret code to get a $5.75 PSL ONE week before it was released in stores. This is where we are now.

Last year, we covered the PSI (Pumpkin Spice Items, obvs) currently on sale, and because apparently this is an ever-growing market, I decided we needed to dig into this year’s offerings. Now, to be honest, I haven’t tried most of these things, so these comments are purely based on conjecture, but if you’ve taste tested any of these, feel free to chime in!

Pumpkin Pie Mochi

Pumpkin Spice Meter: 2. Mainly because it’s pumpkin pie flavor and not pumpkin spice.

Is it necessary? Maybe. OG Japanese ice cream mochi has flavs like chocolate, vanilla and AZN ones such as grreen tea, but I feel like pumpkin may be too out of the realm of normal. But that doesn’t matter, I bet this is good, anyways.

Pumpkin Waffles

Pumpkin Spice Meter: 9 – the perfect amount.

Is it necessary? Yes. This is the only item on the list that I’ve actually tried. These waffles have just the right amount of pumpkin spice in them that it’s not overwhelming and tastes like autumn in your mouth.

Pumpkin Spice Peeps

Pumpkin Spice Meter:  4 – based on the “flavored marshmallow” and overwhelming white fudge.

Is it necessary? No. I get that the Peeps company is trying to get consumers to buy their items year-round, and not just for Easter. I get that. But that doesn’t mean use the ziestgesty flavor of the season, dip it in white chocolate, and sell it to sugar heads.  Maybe just still to the original recipe and do a different color.  Rainbow, perhaps?

Pumpkin Spice Mini Wheats

Pumpkin Spice Meter: 7 – those pumpkin spice granules can easily get lodged in all those mini-wheat nooks and crannies.

Is it necessary? Sure. I feel like pumpkin spice goes well with breakfast foods (waffles, bagels, oatmeal), so why not with the Frosted Mini-Wheats. Does pumpkin have fiber in it?

Pumpkin Spice Latte M&MS

Pumpkin Spice Meter: 4 – the PS flavors are artificial so I’m guessing not the PS goodness that we expect.

Is it necessary? No. These are the flavors that only need to exist in M&M world: original, dark chocolate, peanut and peanut butter. I don’t want your crispy or pretzel or lemon lime (not real) and I don’t want your pumpkin spice.

Organic Pumpkin Spice Kale Chips

Pumpkin Spice Meter: who cares this sounds disgusting

Is it necessary? Absolutely not. Can we stop trying to make kale more than it isn’t? It’s fine in salads and ok as chips, but why does it need to be added with pumpkin spice??? Just stop.

Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses

Pumpkin Spice Meter: 3 – again, artificial PS flavor, real gross flavor

Is it necessary? No. Does anyone else just not like all the other flavored Hershey Kisses? I still would pick a million other candies over a Kiss, but if I had to, the plain chocolate is the way to go. Also do people actually just want a lil but of pumpkin spice in their bellies? If you’re hankering for that flavor, just get a PSL.

Pumpkin Spice Milanos

Pumpkin Spice Meter: 5 – not real pumpkin spice flavor, but good enough to be edible.

Is it necessary? Perhaps. Pepperidge Farms usually does really well with their different flavors. I used to be obsessed with the mint ones. The mini mint milanos? Forget it.

Pumpkin Spice Terra Chips

Pumpkin Spice Meter: 8 – yeah, I’m in support of this

Is it necessary? Yes. I fel like this would be a great mix between sweet and salty. Also Terra chips are bomb, so they usually don’t do wrong.

Boom Chicka Pop Pumpkin Spice

Pumpkin Spice Meter: 7 – I can’t imagine this using artificial spices on the kettle korn

Is it necessary? Yeah, okay. It’s another case of sweet and salty, so it’s probably good.  But we need to draw the line somewhere.

 

Summer Memes Make Me Feel Fine: Republ-I-Can’t

It’s the first full day of fall, and you can almost smell the crisp leaves  tv theme songs. Summer may be over, but fear not – it gave us a few final memes in its waning days. Just consider these the last roses of summer, left blooming alone.

The 2016 Presidential race is already running at … well, if not a full sprint, at least a steady, brisk race-walk. The late-summer Republican debates have generated a few memes, which almost softens my annoyance that there are already debates happening. For an election over a year away.  Ahem.

All of your classic memes have arisen:

Bad Lip Reading

I’ll be honest, I find Bad Lip Reading actually pretty funny. So much so that I’ll be watching the debates on mute and filling in the dialogue myself until at least next spring.

Just kidding. I won’t be watching them at all until next spring. I hope.

Songify

As far as Songify goes, the bloom is off the rose for me. But where news happens, memes follow, and songify is always part of the pack.

Plus a few new additions:

#AskTrump

Okay, every controversial figure who has opened up to twitter questions has had it backfire. Even some people who DIDN’T ask for questions have found themselves hilariously inundated (Remember #AskRachel?)

Some questions focused on how Trump looks like a silly goose:

Others addressed his personal life:

Or his politics:

Still others asked the question we’ve all been pondering:

Carly Fiorina Jepson

In the past weeks Carly Fiorina has proven herself to be a real contender in the presidential race, even making a jovial appearance on Jimmy Fallon. But the surest sign she is in the public consciousness: she now is the subject of her own joke tumblr, carlyfiorinajepson.com, which combines photos of Fiorina with lyrics from Carly Rae Jepson songs.

Hot Guy Behind Jake Tapper

Debates, addresses to Congress, States of the Union… so many presidential (or pre-presidential) moments are so boring that your attention wanders to the people in the background. It’s why when I was doing a reading at church as a kid, my mom would always warn me not to fidget or whisper on the altar because after a certain point people stop looking at the priest. According to the internet,  the real winner of last week’s debate was #hotdebateguy, A.K.A. “the hot guy behind Jake Tapper,” debate moderator.

By the way, “hot debate guy” is 24-year-old Greg Caruso, with a chiseled jaw that could make a girl question her political affiliations.

Jeb Kush — Jeb Bush, Pothead

Jeb Bush, man of the people, has used recreational marijuana. In the 1970s, when I’m pretty sure the air was infused with it.

Anyway, that’s all the information the internet needs. They can take it from there:

Well, friends. Just 14 more months to go between now and the 2016 election. Probably dozens of debates, and scores of public appearances. As much as I dread it, I must ask: what memes may come?

So The Pope’s In Your ‘Hood

Yesterday, Pope Francis touched down in his Shepherd One (large Alitalia plane) in Washington, D.C. for his first visit to the States as Pope (and as a human). It marked the beginning of a five-day trip on the east coast, and if I’m being real, interrupted my viewing of Ellen with Lester Holt describing a Fiat 500L. Even if you’re not Catholic, or religious, it’s still fascinating to keep up with, and if you’re a resident of DC, New York or Philadelphia, it’s kind of necessary since it will probably either make or break your day. So if you’re in one of these cities where the Pope is lit’rally blessing you with his presence, here are some guidelines to follow to stay sane with the holy one.

Get Ready For Angry Commuters

In Los Angeles, we already deal with a lot of traffic. But people’s anger is tested when the President is in town, as major streets have to be closed, subsequently rerouting folks all over the place. It’s the kind of anger that’s usually taken out on all social media platforms by pretty much anyone. There’s nothing worse than assuming you’ll be on time for work only to find out the roads are closed and you have to take 15 side streets instead, but everyone else is doing the same thing and you’re at a full stop and the only way to vent your frustration is by tweeting #THANKSOBAMA.

Spot His Ride

In likely Pope fashion, he got off the plane, walked on a red carpet, greeted the Obamas and misc. members of the archdiocese and got in his sleek, black, spacious Fiat 500L. If you’re one of the folks who saw this and thought, ‘Well that’s a choice’, Pope Francis is known for using more modest cars, as a reflection of his emphasis for a simple less consumeristic lifestyle. Still, the Popemobile is nothing compared to the whip he usually rides in all around the Vatican, a Renault 4 that’s 20 years old and has over 170,000 miles on it. I know Catholics are super not into change, but come on bro, at least see if Fiat can score you a 500L after giving them free advertising.

Check Out The Website NOT Made On Geocities

Photo Sep 22, 11 21 22 PM

For some reason, I was expecting the official Pope website to look like it was made via Geocities and include a lot of WordArt and Comic Sans, but I was delightfully surprised to see that it was none of those things (although I would’ve been pleased if it had). There’s a lot of useful information on the site, and the layout is easy to navigate. But my main takeaway was that the site is run by CatholicToTheMax.com. Catholic To the Max Dot Com. In case you missed that, it’s CATHOLIC. TO. THE. MAX. DOT. COM. Not just a little Catholic, or a lot Catholic, but to the MAXimum level one can be Catholic. GOD. BLESS.

Scroll His Twitter

While he’s not the type to share his location on Swarm or crosspost his #NoFilter photos from Insta, but the Pope does have a strong Twitter following with 7.23 million. If you’re hoping to get a reply from Pope Frank, it’s not going to happen. He’s more of a tweeter than a replier.

Buy Some Swag

After clicking around the website and CatholicToTheMax.com, I discovered a treasure trove of Pope branded items. Items I never knew needed to be made, or that there is even a demand for.

“Takes selfies. Not all about the bling.” Those are actual phrases on the back of that shirt. Why are 60 year old former ad execs attempting to market to teens?

THIS STANDEE IS $160. ALSO WHO ARE THESE WOMEN.

Again, who is coming up with the ad copy and ideas for merch? I didn’t realize people still wore custom dog tags. If someone had informed me earlier, I would’ve dug out my BSB dog chains a long time ago.

Again, what year is it? Are these yellow bands leftover from LiveStrong?

I *hat* Pope Francis = We *peacock* comedy.

Learn the New Words To Mass

If you are so inclined to attend one of the Pope’s masses, it’s important that you know that the words to the mass changed in 2011. I found this out recently when Molly & I attended our friend’s wedding, which was a full mass. Now, as we’ve previously mentioned, Molly & I met at our Catholic high school, and I went to Catholic school my entire life, despite not being Catholic. But I learned the script. I was prepared for our friend’s wedding – EXCEPT I WASN’T. Stuff like ” And also with you,” has been changed to “And with your Spirit.” It’s a small change, but it’s like Jim Halpert-level pranks that are so harmless but annoying at the same time. Although if you’re pumped enough to brave the crowds and see the Pope IRL, this is kind of a moot point (A cow’s opinion).

 

#Hamiltunes: How Lucky We Are To Be Alive Right Now

Because I’m your one crunchy cat aunt, I love NPR. But today I love NPR more than ever, because they posted the full, streaming Hamilton cast recording. If you want to hear it head over fairly quickly, because it probably won’t stay up for too long -but the recording will be available to buy on October 16. And let me tell you, it’s even better than I was expecting.

There’s been some discussion about whether people who haven’t seen Hamilton should listen to the soundtrack. As someone who grew up listening to cast recordings of musicals I hadn’t necessarily seen yet, it’s not an issue for me. Nor am I concerned about “spoilers” since this happened over 200 years ago and I know the basics.  Still, I guess if you’re super spoiler averse, want to hear the music on stage first, or aren’t familiar with Alexander Hamilton’s story, feel free to wait until you can see the show. I know that will probably not happen for me this year, so I never had any intention of waiting.

So what do I love about the Hamilton recording? First of all, Lin-Manuel Miranda provides all of the exposition modern audiences need to understand the story and the time it happens in – without ever talking down to us or underestimating the intelligence of a general audience. The different musical styles assigned to each character actually help further their character development and the plot. There are clever rhymes and allusions, but he is never clever for clever’s sake. Also it’s also just really, really good.

Here’s a brief track-by-track reaction, with the caveat that I jotted down thoughts as I was listening to it for the first time, so I probably mis-assigned the speaker a few times, and there are several tracks for which I didn’t get anything down. Fair warning: spoilers ahead.

Hamilton streaming online: how lucky we are to be alive right now.

1. Hamilton

I have listened to the White House performance of the early draft of this more than a few times, but this feels different.  It’s more musical theater (in a good way) with backing vocals and orchestra. I may be imagining shades of Jay Z’s Empire State Of Mind – both here and in later tracks, like The Schuyler Sisters. Leslie Odom Jr.’s (Aaron Burr) voice is amazing – speaking, rapping, and singing alike.

2. Aaron Burr, Sir

I love the old-school, fun rap wordplay – like pairing Burr, sir with bursar. Burr’s advice: “talk less, smile more, don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for” proves that there has been little change in the practice of politics since the 1770s. I love how the rap styles tell you about characters – the more youthful, energetic American guys vs French-y Frenchman Lafayette.

3. My Shot

This has been the breakout song so far. A really brilliant use of rap wordplay because the pun or double entendre with “not throwing away my shot” lies in foreshadowing. If you’re the kind of adult who reads colonial history for funsies or remembers everything from AP American – guilty! – then you’ll remember the controversy of whether Hamilton genuinely aimed at Burr at the start of the duel, or pointedly threw away his shot to signal that he was not out to kill.

4. The Story of Tonight

The formation of a new nation: this is like the pre-revolution Red And Black of Hamilton.

5. The Schuyler Sisters

This introduces the Schuylers as the Kardashians* of the 1770s (but not vapid, just that they’re rich and well-connected). This track establishes the colonial era as an exciting, modern time to live in. The harmonies between Phillippa Soo (Eliza), Jasmine Cephas-Jones (Peggy, and later Maria Reynolds) and Renee Elise Goldsberry (Angelica) are amazing and reminiscent of old-school Destiny’s Child.

6. Farmer Refuted

This one gets real 18th century for a sec, and contains actual references to the fact that it’s a musical without busting the fourth wall: “don’t modulate the key then not debate with me.”

7. You’ll Be Back

It’s a 1960s Brit pop-style breakup song, performed by King George. Actually perfect. Jonathan Groff is magic and Lin Manuel is a genius.  “I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.”

8. Right Hand Man

Like in the opening track, this is a great use of expository rap which I am just learning is a thing. That I am obsessed with.

9. A Winter’s Ball

Just your classic rap braggadocio that includes the claim that George Washington and Martha Washington’s feral tomcat was named after Hamilton.

10. Helpless

Eliza and Hamilton meet, and it’s like the perfect blend of an 18th century story, a very 2015 musical, and 90s pop/ R&B styling.

11. Satisfied

Renee Elise Goldsberry is a fantastic rapper. I love how Lin-Manuel Miranda creates this tension between Eliza’s relationship with Alexander against his feelings for Angelica, but you never question the loyalty between the sisters. Also a testament to Soo and Goldsberry’s performances, though.

12. The Story Of Tonight (Reprise)
13. Wait For It

If the lyrics weren’t about 18th century politics, I would think it was something on the radio when I was in 6th grade (in 1997-1998, for reference).  It’s also just a lyrically lovely song that does a lot to turn Burr from a villain into a man.

14. Stay Alive

It’s not just military strategy, but catchy military strategy.

15. 10 Duel Commandments

This track is not just a lot of fun, but actually necessary information for the Burr/Hamilton duel later on – it will be important that we know about seconds, that shots often aren’t fired in a duel, making sure there are no technical witnesses, etc.

16. Meet Me Inside
17. That Would Be Enough

They’ve been largely silent, but I’ve definitely heard some (often older, stodgier) musical theater purists bemoan a rap musical – especially one set in the 1700s. You know, as though your classic Musical Theater torch songs and 11 o’clock numbers would bear any resemblance to things people were singing in the 1780s. Well, I think numbers like That Would Be Enough should silence some of those folks. Some numbers are definitely more “musical theater” and this is one of them.

18. Guns and Ships

More expository rap, as Burr, Lafayette, and Washington strategize.

19. History Has Its Eyes On You

I don’t mean at all that Miranda’s rap is old-fashioned or boring – exactly the opposite – but I have to say it’s amazing to listen to a rap track narrated featuring George Washington (Christopher Jackson) and think to myself “my dad might like this musical.” [Background: my dad, an old white man, categorically hates rap – along with most music – and is so befuddled by musicals that he left Cats in the early 90s muttering “I just don’t get it.”]

20. Yorktown (The world turned upside down )

Consider this one sort of a My Shot reprise.

21. What Comes Next

YES. More ’60s pop from Groff. When you get excited to just hear a character again  – not even see them walk on stage –  you know it’s a good score.

22. Dear Theodosia

Aaron Burr sings to his baby daughter and it’s really moving (and for us history nerdos, extra sad when he says “someday you’ll blow us all away” and you know that she actually died at sea in her 20s). Alexander sings the same to his son Philip – we’ll get to why that’s sad later. Great way to humanize these historic figures. [Fun fact: Theodosia was the first person recorded to have honeymooned at Niagara Falls.]

23. Non-Stop

Miranda excels where a lot of librettists bore me: incorporating earlier numbers. After listening to this I realized this was probably at the act break, so it makes sense that it’s a bigger number with a lot of throwbacks.

24. What’d I Miss

So brilliant: this is like an oldschool motown tune because Thomas Jefferson (Daveed Diggs) has been gone for years since the revolution and he’s a little behind. He “basically missed the late ’80s.”

25. Cabinet Battle #1

I could see a cool history teacher using this to help explain how the US treasury was formed, as well as state vs national taxation and currency. So good.

26. Take A Break

I LOVE how in his raps, Miranda incorporates references and allusions that would have been available to these guys during their lifetimes – like Banquo and Macduff from Macbeth. The occasional baroque riffs are awesome, too.

27. My Dearest Angelica

Again, Miranda doesn’t underestimate his audience, and it pays off. This number actually discusses how punctuation changes the meaning of a sentence in a letter Eliza sent to Angelica.  Okay, we’re starting the Tony For Renee Elise Goldsberry campaign.

28. Say No To This

The orchestration is also wonderful throughout, as in the violin of romantic tension in this track. Hamilton meets Maria Reynolds, begins an affair, then gets a letter from her husband blackmailing him. Jasmine Cephas Jones really rocks her dual role of Maria Reynolds and Peggy Schuyler.

29. The Room Where It Happens

Hamilton has now adopted Burr’s advice from Act I. Yes, this is a rap musical, but to reduce it to just that ignores how great Miranda is with melody.

30. Schuyler Defeated
31. Cabinet Battle #2
32. Washington On Your Side
33. One Last Time

Christopher Jackson as Washington has such a gorgeous, smooth voice for this R&B-incluence number. American history teachers take note: this is a much better way to explain the two term custom than whatever’s in your textbook. Seamlessly incorporates Washington’s gorgeous farewell address, so well written (possibly by Hamilton, possibly not) that it fits in brilliantly with Miranda’s other lyrics.

34.I know Him

GROFF. I can’t overstate how the musical styles assigned to each character help move their characterization and the plot forward, as in this song where King George gets news that John Adams is taking over.

35. The Adams Administration
36. We Know

American political scandals have changed so little. In this song, it has broken that Hamilton gave hush money to Maria Reynolds’ husband.

37. Hurricane

Hamilton sings “I wrote my own deliverance.” Like so many politicians since, he admitted one bad act (his affair with Maria) to quiet talk of another (involvement in Reynold’s financial scheme involving back wages to Revolutionary War vets). How hasn’t there been a musical about Hamilton yet? His arc is amazing.

38. The Reynolds Pamphlet

Hamilton’s peers react to his publication.  It’s so good, and very similar to the reaction today when a politician’s rival falls: “never going to be president now/ one less thing to worry about.”

39. Burn

Eliza burns Hamilton’s letters, a clever way to explain why we don’t know how Elizabeth reacted to Alexander’s affair and the publication of Maria’s letters. Miranda turns Eliza’s silence into an act of agency: “I’m erasing myself from the narrative/ let future historians wonder how Eliza reacted when you broke her heart.” So gorgeous. Tony for Phillipa Soo as well, please.

40. Blow Us All Away

The new generation is taking over, and Hamilton’s son Phillip (Javier Munoz) is ready to “blow us all away” as predicted in Act I. There’s a duel between Philip and Burr’s man George Eaker. Yeah, dueling was really big. They went across the river to New Jersey (“everything is legal in New Jersey”) to the same dueling ground Alexander would visit years later. This number also helpfully reinforces the rules of dueling, which will be handy later.

41. Stay Alive (Reprise)

Phillip’s death. I know I’d be crying if I saw this live, because I’m crying listening to NPR (to be fair, I probably cry listening to NPR on a fairly regular basis).

42. It’s Quiet Uptown

Alexander’s grief after Phillip’s death. Great use of the ensemble. Really beautiful and melodic, further develops Angelica/Eliza/Alexander relationship. Again: Not just a rap musical.

43. The Election Of 1800

Love the electorate’s observations of Jefferson, Madison, Addams, Burr – a wonderful glimpse into the history of campaigning in the US as we head into another year and a half long election cycle, too.

44. Your Obedient Servant

Hamilton and Burr arrange their duel. I love their relationship as cordial enemies .. not all the way to frenemies. Political rivalries were so classy back then. The duel is on.

45. Best Of Wives And Best Of Women

This was more of an interlude. Adios, Eliza.

46. The World Was Wide Enough

Miranda brings back the rules of dueling in case you had forgotten some of them (I had). He also provides evidence for whether or not Hamilton intended to shoot Burr to kill (wearing glasses, for instance) or whether he was throwing away his shot. The action pauses as we enter Hamilton’s thoughts as his last moments play out. Miranda still leaves enough ambiguity – just like the historical record – that the audience can decide for themselves what happened. You also get some tones of regret from Burr.

47. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story

Eliza is the one who recorded Hamilton’s legacy, interviewed his contemporaries, and controlled how Hamilton was represented in history — as she says, she put herself back in the narrative.  I’m crying again, it’s okay.

Emmy Awards 2015 – Best and Worst Dressed

It’s been a while, but we’re back in awards show mode, and what better way to kick it off than with the ceremony where all our favorite TV stars unite! Last night, we saw some gowns to die for and gowns that should maybe just… die. Since we’re considered fashion experts (amateurs) (no one’s every called us that), we’re doing something that no one else is going today and picking our best and worst dressed celebrities from last night. Did your faves make the cut? Pun intended.

Best Dressed

Traci’s Picks
Elisabeth Moss in Oscar de la Renta

This dress is obviously super simple, but I love that it’s tailor ed to her body, which gives it that extra detail. Also, with a bright color like this (which I love), it doesn’t need much more accessory-wise. Elisabeth was styled perfectly with the hair, makeup, simple studs, and minimal jewels.

Zoe Kazan in Miu Miu

Ok, so this isn’t necessarily an “Emmy Dress”, per se, but I love it. It’s flowy and perfect for the scorching LA heat, and red, from head to toe, looks great on her.

Aubrey Plaza in Alexander Vauthier

It was kind of hard to tell in most pictures, but Aubrey’s dress is actually accented with burgundy jewels, which is why I love it. The low cut neckline and high cut slit show just enough skin. And again, she’s styled perfectly since the dress is a statement in itself, with minimal jewels and a gorge bob haircut. She’s even smiling!

Ellie Kemper in Naeem Kahn

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but Ellie Kemper is a low key red carpet goddess. She rarely fails when it comes to picking gowns for these shows, and she didn’t fail last night. The colors in the dress are mesmerizing, and the asymmetrical lines give it just enough edge. Christina Hendricks also donned a similar Naeem Kahn dress, but Ellie edged her out just a bit.

Emma Roberts in Jenny Packham

Ok, so Emma’s face isn’t great here. However, she went for an old Hollywood look, and just nailed it. Yet again, it’s hard to tell in this photo, but the dress is more of a shimmery gold, which is on point for the occasion. The skirt flowed behind her when she walked, and was the perfect pairing with her golden curls.

Honorable Mentions: Nancy O’Dell in her own co-design with Evine Live, Allison Janney in Labourjoisie, Tituss Burgess in Bonobos, Cat Deeley (and fetus) in Monique Lhuillier
Molly’s Picks
Amy Poehler In Michael Kors

First of all, love this golden brown hair color on her – more natural and complimentary to her skin tone than platinum blonde or gingery red.  Amy almost always kills it on the red carpet, and I’m always a fan of formalwear that incorporates a non-tacky midriff. The bangles are fun and youthful, perfect for someone who doesn’t take this awards show thing TOO too seriously.

Tatiana Maslany In Bouchra Jarrar


It took the Emmys a VERY long time to notice Tatiana Maslany. Orphan Black may be a huge cult hit but a lot of people don’t know about it, or the actress behind the clones. I’m sure Tatiana was well aware that last night was her shot to make an impression, and this suit did just that. The looser fit was a bit of a gamble – usually on the rare occasion that a woman wears a suit on the red carpet, the pants are impeccably tailored and crisp. I’d call this one a risk that paid off.

Jon Hamm

Not only am I breaking my “suits and tuxes are too boring to be Best Dressed” rule, I’m breaking it twice. It’s just that Jon Hamm wears formal attire so well. Yes, tuxes and suits are not half as fussy or uncomfy as even the most comfortable gown, but a lot of men still manage to look sort of stiff and unnatural in them. Jon, however, looks like he has been wearing a tuxedo on the daily since he was a toddler. I’m also loving these throwback narrow lapels we’ve been seeing for the past several years – so much better than those schlubby, boxy 90s tuxedos. The tailoring is perfect here.

Kerry Washington In Marc Jacobs

Kerry Washington is one of those people who is SO gorgeous and wears clothes SO well that she often takes red carpet risks … which sometimes can fall flat or overpower her. So I was delighted to see this metallic chain mail piece that is a tad offbeat but, with the relatively simple and not too clingy cut, isn’t too over the top either. That said, the dress and shoes both must be uncomfy as hell and I can’t even imagine.

Gina Rodriguez in Lorena Sarbu


She looks like an angel. More runway-type, concept-y gowns don’t always work on the Red Carpet (see: Kerry Washington) but Gina looks like a dream and I swear we’re going to start watching Jane The Virgin. It can be very hard to wear white without looking like a bride or a girl at a really nice quince, and the mixed textures are what keeps it out of that arena. Love the pop of color with the clutch.

Honorable Mention: Teyonah Parris, wearing a great polka dot gown that would be very hard to pull off for anyone less adorable than Teyonah Parris.

Worst Dressed

Traci’s Picks
Heidi Klum in Versace

It’s always disappointing and a lil second hand embarrassment when a supermodel/fashion icon fails on the red carpet. It’s like she picked a 10th place finisher’s design from Project Runway.

Sophie Turner in Galvan

Guys, I know the 90s are back and all, but I’m still not on board with velour.

Jaimie Alexander in Armani Prive

I… just don’t get it.

Joanna Newsom in Delpozo

I really, really, really think these two are super adorable to the point I want to vom, but honey sweetie. The front of this dress. Joanna’s style is usually left of center, but I can’t get on board with this. Love you two, though.

Edie Falco in Prada

90% of the time, pleats are no good. This gown is included in that percentage. Also, the rando flower embroideries are confusing, and the fit just doesn’t show off Edie’s form. She can do much better, as evidenced from Emmys past.

Kathryn Hahn in Vivienne Westwood

I think Kathryn Hahn is one of the most underrated and underappreciated actresses in the biz. That being said, what is even happening here.

Molly’s Picks:
Tracee Ellis Ross in Zac Posen

Tracee has great hair (I mean, she is destined for great hair), and her face and skin are wonderful too. The general silhouette of the dress is fine, although I am never into that kind of bodice and I don’t like the cutouts on the skirt. So I think what I don’t like is the combination of that sweetly pink color with the glossy fabric – all I can think is Galinda from Wicked.

Taryn Manning in Rubin Singer

Maybe this isn’t a technically bad dress, I’m just over the Angelina Jolie/ Morticia Addams/ Theda Bara thing. It’s also hard to pull off unless impeccably styled, and her hair looks like a Delia*s-era Sun In and Wet Look combo.

Alan Cumming in Vivienne Westwood

This is so silly that I actually find it delightful. He looks like an old-time jolly chimney sweep who’s gettin’ married in the morning. The tie, the chain, the umbrella, the pocket square, the giant pants — I find it so joyful and fun that I almost want to put it on best dressed, I just know that it isn’t technically “good.”

Julianne Hough In Marchesa

It almost doesn’t seem fair judging reality tv people on the red carpet, because it seems like they’re in a whole different universe. It is something I would probably LOVE on the runway, or in Swan Lake, I just don’t like if for the red carpet.

Dascha Polanco in Leanne Marshall


If you were one of the good kids in school, do you remember how you would get in trouble if you made the slightest peep in class, because the teachers had grown to expect more of you? That’s how I feel about this dress. On anyone else I would probably just think “Okay, not my favorite” and move on, but I’ve come to love Dascha’s style so much that I’m surprised I don’t like this one. I do love the sunny yellow on her, I think I just hate this new trend of the super short opaque skirt with a sheer gown over it. I think they look silly now, but I think everyone will think they look silly when they look back in a few years.

Dishonorable mention: January Jones in Ulyana Sergeenco (only because I’m so used to LOVING whatever she wears).