Best of 2016: Scary Things About Making A Murderer Other Than The Murder

Let’s take it way back to a simpler time: exactly a year ago. Everyone was talking about Steven Avery, small-town Wisconsin justice, and a really horrible 2005 murder thanks to the Netflix series Making A Murderer. We were amazed that out of this whole basket of deplorables (to borrow an expression), a grisly murder wasn’t the only terrifying aspect of the story.  (By the way, when we were discussing this post last week, we also realized that these scary Manitowoc County people were also exactly the people who voted the next president into office … so there’s another spooky aspect to this whole story.)

Scary Things About Making A Murderer Other Than The Murder

Winter in Wisconsin

I live in one of the snowiest cities in America (100 inches/average). We get 12 inches of lake effect snow and school isn’t even cancelled the next day. The average high temperature last February was 12 degrees Fahrenheit. And I am a total wimp compared to the hardy Wisconsinites in this series. Didn’t it feel like every exterior shot, no matter what time it took place, was crammed with piles of snow everywhere? But nobody complained or even looked cold? Manitowoc County is like the North Pole except that it’s a workshop for unspeakable violence and judicial corruption instead of toys.

Scare Scale: A White-Knuckle Drive On An Icy Expressway – 2/10

The Land That Time Forgot

Based on the hair and wardrobe of the various townspeople, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Making A Murderer was filmed in 1986 or 1998, but it was actually well into the 2000s. I know plenty of small-town residents, rural folks, and Midwesterners who look completely normal, so the frozen-in-time aesthetic really added to the feeling that there was something just off about every single one of these people.

Scare Scale: The moment when Rip Van Winkle awakes – 3/10

Two Nice Lesbians In Possible Peril

The filmmakers behind Making A Murderer, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos, were a very young, chill lesbian couple from Columbia University when this project began. Although there are tons of intelligent, free-thinking people in the rural northern Midwest, the particular crowd that was featured in this documentary seemed… um… not that way. Not to mention, Ricciardi and Demos probably didn’t exactly blend into the Land That Time Forgot. They never mentioned being made to feel at all uncomfortable, but I still found myself wanting to call in a welfare check when I realized they were alone with some of those people (ahem… Steven’s terrifying mother).

Scare Scale: That Time When TLC Showed Michelle Duggar’s Lesbian Sister & I Imagined The First Time She Met Jim-Bob – 5/10

See the rest here.


Best of 2016: Things From Rent I Didn’t Understand As A Tween

This year in “We Are Much Older Than We’d Like To Believe” news, Rent celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Broadway debut, and we celebrated by dedicated an entire week to all things Rent, a musical that changed our lives as tweens.

But as tweens, we didn’t fully comprehend every line and plot until we were adults, which can change your perspective on the show as a whole. Here are some things we missed as 12 year olds but definitely get now.

I Should Tell You: Things From Rent I Didn’t Understand As A Tween

Everything about Contact

T: I believe I was 13 when I saw Rent for the first time (full disclosure, I’ve seen it 8 times in total), and true story – I went with my church youth group. I didn’t go to a super progressive church, however I did go to a United Church of Christ, which used rainbows in all their logos for a while because they were pro-equality and stuff. Anyways, it was a group outing sans parents, and it was a majority of my friends and like two of our cool youth group leaders. However, when it came time for Contact, a scene which simulates sex, I was uncomfy to the max. I looked down at my program, attempted to stare at other non-condom looking pieces on the stage, but I mostly just blocked it out of my first Rent experience. I even skipped over the song when I listened to the soundtrack (I know, #prude). It took me a while before I could listen to it for what it actually was, and why it held importance to the story as a whole. Stay safe out there, kids.

Falling Quickly

M: In sixth grade, it didn’t occur to me that Jack and Rose’s epic romance was actually a few days of pre-dating infatuation. At the same age, I also missed that the whole first act of Rent is just Christmas, pretty much. Which means that Angel and Collins go from zero to I’ll Cover you real, real fast. Of course there’s more immediacy when best cast scenario you’re about to get evicted and worse case scenario, you have AIDS, but for some reason I thought everyone knew each other longer.

Best of 2016: The Margaret Abbott Awards For Baffling Treatment Of Female Olympians

Welcome to Day 2 of our Best of 2016 (wherein we pretend good things happened in 2016). But seriously, on our very short list of great things about 2016, the summer Olympics are near the top. As always, we were inspired and amazed for two weeks and became mega-fans of athletes we hadn’t even heard of weeks before. But 2016 had to be 2016, so there was still some weird sexism stuff, because of course there is. Our reaction: the Margaret Abbott Awards, highlighting baffling treatment of female olympians (and named in honor of first female ‘medalist,’ Margaret Abbott. And yes, medalist is in quotes because they gave her a bowl instead).

The Margaret Abbott Awards For Baffling Treatment Of Female Olympians

(click on link for full post)

Dan ‘He’s Responsible’ Hicks

Longtime NBC commentator Dan Hicks hit headlines after the 400m individual medley in swimming, when Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu won the gold but also shattered the previous world record. During the program, he noted that Katinka’s husband and coach, Shane Tusup is “the man responsible” for making his wife the swimming champion she is today. Viewers were quick to take note of Dan’s wording, because, homegirl just killed it in the pool, yet this dry dude on the sidelines is “responsible” for the gold medal? OK. Dan Hicks later clarified his comments, saying, “It is impossible to tell Katinka’s story accurately without giving appropriate credit to Shane, and that’s what I was trying to do.”

There’s also more of a backstory with this couple, because apparently Shane’s poolside enthusiasm can turn scary, with other swimmers noting his extreme anger, calling it “inappropriate” and “not OK”. But again, Dan Hicks has an interesting view on his hard love, “It’s been a little disturbing to some of the other swimmers who have observed it,” he said on-air, according to the AP. “But he has turned her into a tiger in the pool.”

Dan Hicks is awarded… The GOLDEN ABBIE

Perfect for: The blood, sweat, and tears of Katinka, Shane Tusup in mini-form to stay afloat for all eternity

“Female Michael Phelps”

Katie Ledecky, 19 years old,  won four gold medals and a silver in the 2016 Olympics. She set a world record for the 400-meter freestyle … then she broke it herself. She finished the 800-meter freestyle so quickly that she had 11 seconds to cool her heels before the silver medalist even reached the wall. All of this is enough for the Daily Mail to name Ledecky the “female Michael Phelps.” For its part, NBC commentator Rowdy Gaines remarked that “some people say she swims like a man” before telling us why that’s false. Few things here:

A.) “Some people say” is a tired vehicle for introducing opinions a journalist or commentator doesn’t want to own (see also: “some people say women aren’t funny” in any interview with a female comedian).

B.) “Some people” need to stop saying a woman does something “like a man” when she does it well. Clearly Katie Ledecky swims like a woman since she, you know, is one.

These Male Rita Skeeters are awarded… The SILVER ABBIE

Perfect for: Serving alphabet soup so they can figuratively eat their words.

Best of 2016: Things I’m Willing to Believe About Lin-Manuel Miranda

Today we’re kicking off our two-week Cookies + Sangria series, “Best of”, where we look back at our posts from this year and think, “Hey, we’re pretty good at this blogging thing!” We’re starting with one of the people that has contributed to the most content throughout the past year – Lin-Manuel Miranda. If there’s anything we can be super grateful for in 2016, it’s the rise of this literal genius to mainstream pop culture.

In continuation of our series “Things I’m Willing To Believe About…”, we focused on Lin, and came up with fake facts that we totally would believe if there were deemed true. How do we know so much about this man anyways? We’re straight up #HamilTrash, that’s why.

Things I’m Willing To Believe About Lin-Manuel Miranda

  • His wife had to request that he stop writing raps to “help” her study for the bar exam (States unchecked can get a little messy/ All rise, Marshall court in Hunter’s Lessee/ State powers subject to diminution/ Cohens. Virginia. You ratified the constitution. / Put the steamboat on the river – okay, New York, it’s Interstate. Gibbons. Ogden. Congress gonna regulate. /And legislate -plus stipulate/ that no militia’s solely state/ When sought, they fought. Martin. Mott.  ) (…may or may not be an excerpt from my Marshall Court review rap for Con Law, c. 2009.)
  • Has more novelty/pop culture-themed t-shirts than dress shirts
  • At least once every couple weeks he wakes up with a start in the middle of the night. By now, his wife just mutters “yes, you remembered to say goodnight to Twitter” and tells him to go back to sleep.

  • Was the runner-up for Most Likely To Succeed, and the winner of Most Earnest, in his senior yearbook.
  • He’s also composed a verse or two for his favorite delivery guy and bodega lady. Not to get free stuff out of it. Just because he cares.
  • Those ex-girlfriends can testify that he’s had that comma game in his arsenal since long before playing our dearest, Hamilton.
  • Really (secretly) prolific on tumblr. Runs your favorite blog.
  • Was a competitor in one of those quiz bowl public access-type shows featuring kids from different schools in NYC. His team won.
  • Attended a LARP-ing summer camp when he was 13

Cheers Chats #12: One For The Road

We’re back! And with the last Cheers Chats of the year/series! We made it to the finale! Give us prizes for even making it this far!

Episode 11.26: One For The Road

Originally aired: May 20, 1993

Previously on Cheers

(Brief synopsis of what happened prior to this episode)

T: It’s been legit two episodes since November’s Cheers Chats went down, and not much has changed. Except continuity problems.

M: Two episodes, yet I struggled to catch up before this post as though we’d skipped two years. Remember how good the pilot was ? It has not been that good.

T: Woody is back as a bartender because the city council thing just never happened? And I guess his wife is still preggo? But also Rebecca continues to be an unapologetic gold digger, but after some convincing by Frasier, allows herself to go on a date with a plumber (Tom Berenger) and she thinks they’re going to get married now. But in the last episode, Sam admitted he had been thinking about settling down for real – again, these two continue to not be a romantic couple but act like it – and suggested Rebecca be his backup plan. She was insulted and shot back that he’s not the marrying kind and will always be seen as a playboy. This leads to Frasier suggesting he’s a sex addict and refers him to a “sexual compulsives” therapy group. Seriously. Frasier is putting out fires left and right. No wonder he got a spin-off.

M: The secondary characters (read: not “young” and “attractive” by Cheers standards) don’t have any development, which is a thing I didn’t realize I couldn’t stand about Cheers until I just wrote it down right now.

T: Carla is back to being a waitress because Woody is bartender again, Lillith and Frasier are together still, I guess, even though we haven’t seen her in a while, and Cliff and Norm continue to never change.

Chit-Chat Club

(Off-topic Cheers chatter.)

T: I must admit, even though I’ve had a tenuous relationship with this show over the past few seasons (aka few months), I’m looking forward to seeing how they wrap this whole thing up. I hope they circle back to season one writing and relationships instead of continuing down whatever hell path it was on the last 3 or 4 seasons. Also, Diane comes back, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO HER RETURN.

M: NO WAY, DIANE?! OK, I am back to wanting Sam and Diane to get together, if only because Sam was at his best when he was with her.

T: I just noticed Netflix wants to make sure we know that “This series won 28 Primetime Emmy Awards and was ranked by TV Guide as the 18th greatest series of all time”. Ok thanks, Netflix. Didn’t know how acclaimed Cheers was until now.

M: Which raises the question: why? and HOW? And was there other stuff on TV? I talk a lot of smack about the year 2016, but we truly live in a golden age of television. We both went into Cheers fully expecting to love it after the pilot, and got more and more disenchanted as the years went on. But you know what? It’s finally all over.

T: PS: The finale is a three-parter on Netflix. Like an hour and a half, which I’m assuming translated into a two-hour finale when it was broadcast back in ‘93??

M: Three. Freaking. Parts.

Netflix synopsis

Pt. 1: Sam and Diane reconnect after years apart, and they each attempt to convince each other that their love lives have gone well after their breakup.

Pt. 2: Woody hires Nor for a city job. Cliff gets a promotion. Plumber Don (LOL) asks Rebecca to marry him. Sam and Diane announce big news at the bar.

Pt. 3: Sam and Diane contemplate their future together. Sam returns to the bar for one of the most famous closing scenes in television history. (it got meta at the end of that)

What Had Happened Was

(Basic recap of the episode’s main plot)

T: Ok, so Woody’s goodbye involves his last day at Cheers because they’re actually going through with his City Councilman plot.

M: Don proposes to Rebecca. How long has Don even been here? Anyway, Rebecca says no by accident.

T: As the Cheers gang is watching the Cable Ace Awards, it turns out Diane is not only nominated, but she wins for Best Writing of a Movie or Miniseries (LOL Diane WOULD win a Cable Ace Award) for something called The Heart Held Hostage. Frasier immediately noticed it’s THE Diane and Sam decides to get in contact with her to congratulate her. It turns into an invite for her to come back to Cheers so they can catch up.

T: Sam and Diane each pretend to be married with kids, but they’re both lying to each other. They end up back together again. Meanwhile, Woody’s getting ready to be City Councilman, Norm gets a job working for him, Cliff gets a promotion, and Carla blames herself for whatever Sam does with Diane.

The Luke Danes of the 1980s

Definition of Your Fave (Character and Show) Is Problematic:

Number of times Sam says “Sweetheart” to Rebecca: 5

Number of times Sam says “Honey” to Rebecca: 2

Number of times Sam says “Sweetheart” to Diane:

Number of times Sam says “Honey” to Diane: 1

Carla’s My Boo

T: Even though Rebecca is dating this plumber Don, Carla continues to hit on him, because he’s definitely her type and not Rebecca’s. She’s ruthless.

Rebecca: Come on, Carla, this happens to be my guy.

Carla: Yeah, well, I can fix that in ten minutes. Five- if I use jumper cables and a wet towel. (I honestly don’t even get this ‘joke’)

Carla: See, I was born with only one erogenous zone, and unfortunately, it covers my entire body.

M: I don’t remember Carla being the type to literally drape herself across a table from a man who is engagement-level involved with someone else, but that’s just how women are written on Cheers, I guess.

T: Carla notices Sam wasn’t at Woody’s swearing in, and realizes the last time she saw him, he was with “Miss Robin Deadbreast”. She then laments that she “let down my guard” and anything that happens between Sam and Diane is now her fault. I love you Carla, but give it a rest.

Carla: Lovely to see you.

Diane: Thank you.

Carla: When will you be leaving?

Shut Up, Diane

(RETURNING SEGMENT! We just have a feeling we’re going to be saying Shut Up, Diane at our screens KIND OF A LOT.)

Diane isn’t even physically in the bar for her return, only on TV, and she still manages to be annoying.

*While watching the Cable Ace Awards*

Frasier: Can it be? Is it really her?

Diane: Thank you all. And thank you, cable television, for allowing those of us who eschew the pap and pablum of commercial television to sing, to dance, to write and to listen to the whispers of our muses. Although sometimes the voices of Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polyhymia, Terpsichore, Thalia and Urania are too soft to be heard. Forgive me, gals, if I forgot someone.

Fraiser: God, is it her.

Diane, continuing her acceptance speech: “Thanks to my parents for conceiving and bearing me… Thanks to the Amazon Rain Forest for providing me and you, ladies and gentlemen, with 40% of our oxygen. The devastation must end!… Thanks to you, Sylvia Plath.Let me say this; your tragic story will be my next project. It was Dr. Wendell Burgoyne who was my creative writing teacher (orchestra plays her off) My entire script was written on recycled paper! ::she literally gets pulled off stage as music plays::

T: I can’t express how perfect that speech was for Diane. And her first monologue since she left the show!

M: As she’s getting dragged off stage she says “you have to be taught to hate!” AHAHAHAHA. Shelley Long is so great, and Diane is at her most hilarious when she’s a proto – Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party; the writers just never hit their stride with her. It made me realize how much I’ve missed Diane. I also loved the delicious irony in the Cheers gang only seeing Diane win because they’re ogling Kim Alexis.

Diane: “I’ve been asked to speak at almost all my alma maters.”

(Pt. 3) Diane, with Sam as they take off in a plane together (more on this later): Isn’t this the perfect beginning for our lives together? Taking flight. Speeding down the runway side by side, until we lift from the ground, leaving far beneath us the tedium of ordinary life, to soar into the bright, unlimited future.

“When I went away to finish my novel, I promised to come back to you in six months. And I meant to. But well once the book was finished, the publishers didn’t want it. I never figured out why exactly. But then my agent suggested that I trim a couple of thousand pages and make it a screenplay.” Edit, Diane. Edit.

Woody the Simpleton

To reiterate, Woody was elected to City Council. That’s a thing that happened. So imagine Diane’s surprise when she found out her simpleton friend had been elected to public office.

Diane: Hello, Woody.

Woody: Well, hi, Miss Chambers.

Diane: What’s new in your life?

Woody: Oh, well, you know, I, uh, got married, and I’m gonna have a kid.

Diane: Wonderful!

Woody: Yeah. Oh, also I just got elected to the Boston City Council.

Diane: How nice… And I’m next in line for the throne of England.

Honestly, that’s a fair response.

M: Between last Cheers Chats and this one I saw Edge of Seventeen, and now I’m a Woody Harrelson stan. Woody practices his speech: “I will make…. change.” Anyway he totally sounds like he can be an elected official in 2016, so I buy this plot device.

T: The good news is that Woody gets Norm a job at City Hall! And Woody is relishing in the fact that Norm is working for him now and it’s great.

Becky with the Good Hair

T: Apparently Rebecca is still dating plumber Don and she’s obsessed with him, but when he asks her, she says no, like it’s Tourette’s or something. To be fair they’ve been dating for approx 32 minutes in TV time.

Becky does NOT have the good hair

M: “This is the dress I lost my guy in. If you hear screaming inside, just keep drinking” – Rebecca instantly turns into the Miss Havisham of Cheers.

Pt. 2

T: Rebecca, in shambles and in lying mode for Sam, is killing me with her facts about their made up family. She’s a corporate lawyer for “Emerson, Lake and Palmer” (which is a rock band, you millennials) and she specializes in product liability cases. As for their kids, Sam has to give Rebecca hints, like holding up a fork to signify “Darby is four”, while Sam Jr. is 5, Newton is 3, and “ are “little two-year-old Chelsea, she’s one.” It’s the most poorly developed lie.

M: Don proposes while Rebecca is still being Sam’s fake wife. Diane is aghast. Rebecca: “oh, Sam, you don’t mind, do you?”

T: Rebecca and Plumber Don got married at City Hall. She immediately regrets “marrying a plumber”.

M: They run off to the justice of the peace “before we could change our minds,” uh oh.

Pt. 3

“I shoot for Donald Trump and I end up with Ed Norton.” Rebecca on husband/plumber Don. We can’t fucking get away from this guy.

M: Fun fact: Cheers is so old that they’re referencing Ed Norton the Honeymooners character not Edward Norton the actor, which for some reason is the moment it hits home for me how long ago this was. Either Ed Norton would be preferable to DT, anyway.

Little Ditty About Sam & Diane

T: If Diane’s back, you know she’s gonna have some quality scenes with Sam. It all starts after Sam sees Diane win a Cable Ace Award, he says he wants to send her a telegram. A TELEGRAM. It is 1993, not 1960.  

this is the first and only visual effect they've ever had on the show and it's jarring

this is the first and only visual effect they’ve ever had on the show and it’s jarring

T: Sam is trying to save face when he talks to Diane (Give me a ring sometime, much?), and tells her he’s married (because she ‘didn’t expect him to wait around for her’) and has kids too. Then Diane says she’s married to “Reed” and got children too – 3. Sam has “four”. I hope this is going where I think it is.

M: “I wanted to bring the children, but they’re at school […] I wanted to meet your wife, is she about?” First of all, how long has Diane been gone?! Second, she talks like a prim elderly piano teachers till. Third, I guess I really, really missed Sam and Diane.

Pt. 2

T:  Oh dear God. Sam pretends to be married to Rebecca, who is in shambles because she said no to Plumber Don’s proposal.

M: “After losing the only man I ever loved, lunch should hit the spot” – why couldn’t Rebecca have been this funny the whole time?

T: Diane’s “husband”, Reed Manchester shows up and I’m still not completely convinced he’s real.

T: Sam’s look when Don proposes to Rebecca and she says yes while they’re still keeping up the marriage ruse during lunch with Diane and Reed.

sam got caught and he knows there's nothing he can do about it

sam got caught and he knows there’s nothing he can do about it




T: Sam tells Diane they’re just a “mismatch” for each other, and I still don’t believe these idiots, who continue to lie to themselves. Also, it’s worth noting I truly have no idea if they end up together or not. I don’t even know a single thing that happens in this finale.

M: If Sam and Diane aren’t endgame I wasted a year watching this show – which granted, is better than watching 10 years if I watched it in real time.

T: Sam and Diane are back together again and they announce they’re getting married – much to the non-amusement of the Cheers gang. I get their doubts.

M: It’s just, why does everyone go from zero to marriage in this show?

Pt. 3

T:  Sam says he’s moving to California with Diane, who promised she’d help him get a job at the “juice bar in her health club.”

Frasier: Well, I had no idea you had such exciting prospects. By all means go for it, Sam! Here’s kiwi in your eye!

T:  So Sam is really gung ho about leaving Boston to start a new life with Diane, but everyone else is against it. Frasier is lit’rally yelling at him, saying, “The two of you had a relationship whose best moments were full of anguish and self-loathing. After ten hours with this woman, you want to give up your life, your livelihood, and move with her to California?!”

M: I don’t think Sam needs to stay to babysit everyone, I just have a lot of logistical questions about this move, is all.

T:  Sam defends himself by saying he’s always had everyone else’s back even when they made mistakes (even though he insists moving with Diane isn’t going to be a “mistake”) and shipping aside, I am on Sam’s side on this one. Norm asks, “What about us?” and lest we forget, after Sam and Diane broke up six years ago, he sold the bar and lived on his boat for months, which is how Rebecca took over. And everyone is still alive and at Cheers. They’ll survive.


CARLA: Sammy I can’t believe this is happening.

SAM: Yeah, I can’t either, Carla. Yeah, after all the cheer leading I’ve done for you guys, even when I knew you were making mistakes.

CARLA: Oh, so you want us to return the favor?

SAM: Yes, yes, I do And I’m not making a mistake.

NORM: Sammy what’s gonna happen to us?

SAM: Come on, you guys. I mean, all you fellas do is just sit there and watch the world go by. You don’t need me for that. I want to get off the bench, you know? I want to get in the game.

CARLA: So, you just gonna desert us? You gonna just walk out, like a traitor?

SAM: A traitor? I need more than this! You know, you should need more than this! I am not your mother! This is not your home! This is ridiculous. Come on, let’s just get out of here, you know? We got a plane to catch. Thank you very much for all your best wishes, fellas, and for making it clear that I’m doing the right thing.

T:  Sam and Diane on a plane delay bc of the electrical system is v Friends phalange. Sam hallucinates the pilot is telling him to reconsider his choice of leaving with Diane, while Diane hallucinates the flight attendant makes her question the same thing.

The plane’s Captain, speaking directly to Diane’s current problem: I’m sorry folks, but I’m afraid we’re gonna be returning to the terminal. We’ll have you disembark and arrange for you to take an alternate flight. Maybe we’re being a little overcautious, but we don’t want to make a mistake about something this important. Sorry.

T:  When Sam comes back to the bar, no one wants to hang out and smoke Cuban cigars with him, seemingly because of the harsh words he said before leaving with Diane. But they all come back and admit they were joking with him. Diane called the bar before he got there to tell them what happened, and they’re all there to support him and *cheer* him up. It is tender.

“Here you are a washed-up ballplayer, alcohol problem…. Sex problem… Lost your one true love… Twice…No apology necessary.”


The moments that made us literally laugh out loud

T: Carla hears Diane’s voice on the TV and immediately stops in her tracks. Instead of telling her that she really did hear Diane’s voice on the TV, the gang convinces Carla it’s a hallucination. Pt. 2 But when Diane shows up later, Carla let’s out a bloodcurdling scream *Sam stifles it then passes her off to Woody*

Diane: How did you find me?

Sam: Uh, Frasier, uh, you know, has a colleague who’s kind of a shrink to the stars in L.A.

Diane: Oh, well, I’d hardly call myself a star.

Sam: Well, I didn’t say you were.


Norm: Sammy Why did you invite her here when you’re lying about being married?

Sam: You kidding me? She’ll never show up here. Besides, she’s the one who’s lying about being married.

Norm: How do you know?

Sam: Because I know the woman. I know she’s lying. Fortunately, I also know that she knows that I know she’s lying, which is why she’ll never dare show her face in Boston.

Norm: She’s coming.

This is the prequel to:

Pt. 2

Frasier: Hello, Diane.

Diane: Hello, Frasier. You’re looking well.

Frasier: I’m feeling well. I’m happily married with a bright young son and a successful practice. But, you know, what’s most important and I just realized it this moment is I’m over you.

Diane: I’m glad.

Frasier: There’s absolutely nothing here anymore. I’m over you. You could be a total stranger for all I’m feeling. You could be ugly and gnarled and toothless without that shining hair, those dancing eyes, these graceful, supple limbs. Thank God I’m free.

Diane: Frasier, you’re hurting me.

Frasier: Well, you never hurt me, did you?! Anyway, good to see you.

*Stay pressed, Fras.*

M: For some reason the exchange below made me laugh out loud, at least in part for Diane’s wide-eyed, Dorothy Gale-style delivery:

Diane: Norman, Clifford. You’re exactly the way I remember you.

Cliff: Well, uh, looks can be deceiving there, Diane. I mean, our-our lives have changed in innumerable ways.

Diane: How so?

Cliff: Well, uh, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

T:  I wouldn’t say it’s a true LLOL, but the classic sitcom trope of ridiculous things happening when someone leaves a room and things happen without them:

Barfly Paul notes he’s never around when the good stuff happens. He goes to the bathroom.

*Plumber Don carrying Rebecca down the stairs and proclaiming his love for her before they go make out on the swan boats in the Garden.

*Reed chases Kevin down the stairs and tries to convince him he’s not cheating on him with Rebecca (although it seems like Reed has had his own fair share of legit affairs)

Pt. 3

Woody: Well, for one thing, none of you call me Huckleberry. I hate being called Huckleberry.

Norm: That’s your nickname, Wood?

Woody: No, Woody is.

Say It Again, Sam

(Memorable lines from the episode. Not exclusively from Sam Malone.)

T: Frasier on Woody starting his job as city councilman: Oh, yes, the beginning of your political career. It started out as a small joke and turned into an enormous one.

Sam: This week I’m not gonna think about sex at all or even hear about or talk about anything remotely sexual.

Rebecca: Sam, it’s about my love life.

Sam: Yeah, that should be safe.

Pt. 3

Frasier: You know, no one wants to be the first to say it, but I’m not ashamed to admit what I think we’re all feeling. Time goes by so fast. People move in and out of your life. You must never miss an opportunity to tell these people how much they mean to you. Well, I I I I

Norm:… I keep coming back to that shoe thing.

Norm: Sammy, I didn’t want to say this in front of the others, but you know what I think the most important thing in life is? It’s love. You want to know what I love?… I don’t think it matters what you love, Sammy. Could be a person, could be a thing. As long as you love it totally, completely, without judgment…. I knew you’d come back. You can never be unfaithful to your one true love. You always come back to her. Who is that? Think about it, Sam.

T: HONESTLY NORM has been the low key hero and wise sage of this entire show


#TheFutureIsFemale (Sexist examples)

(Frasier walks in to everyone watching the National Cable Ace Awards)

Frasier: Are you watching for any particular category?

Cliff: Yes, the most impressive display of female flesh in the, uh, tight-fitting dress.

Frasier: You’re watching for cleavage.

Norm: Living for cleavage.

Kim Alexis, the “female flesh” they’re waiting to see present on the Cable Ace Awards: “You know, I think it’s unfair. I think that they should do an (Sports Illustrated) issue featuring swimsuits for men.

Da Bears coach Mike Ditka: Great idea. The only thing is, the ladies have to model the suits.

:: Guys in Cheers hoot and holler ::

Kim Alexis: Coach, you’re incorrigible.

Mike Ditka: I don’t write it, I just say it.

:: Guys in Cheers continue to hoot and holler ::


Pt. 3

Carla: Good night, ladies. Thanks again… Do you believe those three? In here every night trying to trap guys.

Cliff: Yeah, yeah yeah, you’d never see any wife of mine showing her face in some bar.

Carla: Yeah. She’d make more money in a sideshow.

Barfly Fashion

Pt. 1

Carla’s high heel (?) shirt and earringsscreenshot-2016-12-20-22-25-03
P sure I have a black and white version of Woody’s blousescreenshot-2016-12-20-22-30-57
Everything is all very mint green and yes Sam is physically harming Carlascreenshot-2016-12-20-22-32-19

Pt. 2

Frasier looks dapper in this suitscreenshot-2016-12-20-22-35-32
Kelly’s suit. But also, she’s supposed to be pregnant? Did I miss the part where she had her baby?


Rebecca’s “wedding suit” it’s a floor length skirt


Pt. 3

Forget Carla’s shirt – she’s wearing human baby earrings? Is that a Kewpie doll? Either way, WTF?
Also, she’s wearing human baby earrings when talking about how great it is to have human babies. 


Cheers Queries

T: Are the Cheers folks watching the Cable Ace Awards because of a special marketing tie-in or something? Also am I the only one who doesn’t know who supermodel Kim Alexis is?

M: Why does being on city council mean Woody can’t go to Cheers anymore??

T: Norm got laid off seasons ago, and has only picked up a few random jobs here and there. How is he paying for all this beer? Although I guess he attempts to freeload a lot.

T: Every time they give an extra some screen time, I can’t help but think it’s like a crew member like in wardrobe or casting, getting some face time as the show ends for good.

T: Pt. 2 ends with Sam and Diane walking into Cheers hand-in-hand announcing they’re back together and engaged. But I follow along with a script and there’s whole sections cut out from the Netflix episode!

Sam: Fellas, I just said we’re getting married. I think a little reaction’s in order, don’t you think?

Carla: I knew it. I knew it the minute- the second I laid eyes on her, all those years ago, that it was the worst moment of my life. I knew that she was gonna ruin everything someday! This is it.

Sam: Hey, Carla, don’t you think it’s time to give that up?

Carla: Never.

Diane: Carla I wasn’t going to tell you this, but maybe you should hear it. The screenplay for which I was so extravagantly honoured was based on your life. You were my inspiration.

Carla: Really?

Diane: Yes. It’s the story of a resilient, hard working mother, bucking all odds to raise her six children.

Carla: Six? I got eight.

Diane: Good God! You breed like a fly!

Carla: Well, uh, this movie- people liked it?

Diane: They loved it, Carla. People were inspired by the plight of my heroine.

Carla: Yeah? Well, what happens to me? I mean, you know, to her, in the end.

Diane: Well out of the despair and frustration of her unmanageable life, she goes berserk and takes out a few people with an Uzi. That cost me the Humanitas Award.

Carla: Diane you know, I’ve said a lot of horrible and hateful things to you over the years Well, if I said something nice now, would you get all yucky? You have my word I won’t. Well Diane, I Nah. Life’s too short.

After Sam tells the gang he’s moving to California:

Norm: Sammy California?! Riots, smog, earthquakes?

Sam: Don’t make me laugh, now. There’s no earthquakes in California.

M: I just have a whole lot of logistical questions about how Sam is up and going to California on zero notice. They act like he’s moving away forever but surely he has an apartment, and stuff, and bills due?

T: Sam fixes the Native American picture The final credits are in white and not yellow and it’s a piano version of the theme and I’m crying a little?

Final Thoughts

T: Do I regret watching Cheers from beginning to end? No. Did I enjoy every episode? No. Were there a lot of problematic issues that probably weren’t that big when the show aired? Yes. So I get it. I get why this is considered one of the best TV sitcoms ever made. But from a female perspective in 2016, I don’t care for it. The first few seasons were fine, but after that, no thank you.

M: Yeah. I could appreciate what was good about Cheers, and there are a lot of classic sitcoms and movies that I do enjoy, but I couldn’t get in the headspace to really LOVE it because you can’t go back in time. There were some great characters, the writing could be funny at times, and I understand how the concept made viewers in the 80s and 90s feel like they were regulars at the neighborhood bar along with all of these guys.

Things I’m Willing To Believe About 2016

WOW. That was bad. 2016 was a really incredibly awful year. And it’s not over, either. Here are some totally fake – yet plausible- facts we’re willing to believe about 2016, along with a reminder that we still have over a week left in this dumpster fire of a year so any one of these might come true. See ya later, 2016. You’ve been terrible. We are now willing to believe the following:

9 out of 10 times a person has been taken to a bleak, dismal future Christmas by a Christmas Eve Ghost, it has been to 2016.

A new Texas regulation provides that you must throw annual birthday parties for your aborted fetus until it would have been 18 years old, complete with tiny party hats.*

Taylor Swift attempted to bring the three children from This Is Us into her squad but Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia shot that idea down real quick (TSwift then secretly tried to hit on Milo but to no avail).

Someone you know who really didn’t deserve to see Hamilton saw it before you.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in a hottest politicians who are also boxers calendar (for charity). He’s Mr. October.

Most popular Spotify playlist of 2016: Songs For When You Realize Every Human Is Pure Trash But Ran Out Of Alcohol And It’s 11pm And Can’t Get Tequila Delivered

Cool Pope Francis announced an initiative to upgrade all Catholic churches to stadium seating by 2025. This move gained acclaim from short Catholics who just want to see the damn pageant. Vatican spokesperson Monsignor Vincent Deeney clarified, “we’re still weird about, you know, gay stuff and women stuff.”

Olympic figure skater and eternal meme Ashley Wagner helped Team North America win the gold medal at the inaugural 2016 KOSÉ Team Challenge Cup, but hit headlines with teammate Gracie Gold after they partied a little too hard after all-night partying in Spokane, Washington. They made a pit stop at a local Taco Bell, where they claimed they were harassed by a group of teenage girls who were eager to pick a fight with them in the parking lot. Ashley immediately took to Snapchat to tell her followers what happened, but many fans noted she looked very inebriated when ranting and threatening to press charges over the girls’ alleged actions. The story made its way to mainstream media, and she had to clarify to the press the next day that she made the entire story up and was so drunk she didn’t even remember posting to Snapchat. Or going to Taco Bell (where there was video surveillance of her and Gracie doing their routine in the parking lot and talking to a wall). Ashley later competed in Worst Cook In America: Celebrity Edition.*

When asked how to explain rising sea levels and melting polar ice caps if not by global climate change, oil chaplain Pastor Eddie Vaughn replied “easy, y’all are making God cry.”

Little known fact: the person who started the creepy clown trend is the grandson on Bozo the Clown.

Banking on the success of Fuller House, Amazon Prime has ordered a full season of Family Matterings. It features an adult Laura, her husband Keith Mattering, and their children dealing with the nerdy kid next door whose dad is – you guessed it – Stefan Urquell (who never managed to change back to Steve Urkel). Test audience reactions included feedback like “not technically good,” “I can’t stop watching even though I want to,” and “needs more winking into the camera.”

Nationwide, iris recognition identification has been failing at alarming rates. Biometric engineer Freidrich Martens has determined that the algorithm doesn’t account for the “gleam of sadness,” “overall loss of hope” or “diminishing light” in many Americans’ eyes.

The mom from the Waltons died on Easter.* , *

With Thanksgiving occurring only weeks after the most contentious election in recent memory, hospitals faced a 90% spike in injuries from “aggressive wishbone pulls.” Dr. Jake Richmond of the Cleveland Clinic reflected, “it’s almost like these fights weren’t really about the wishbone at all.”

According to a recent poll, 87% of Trump voters believe that Hillary Clinton’s house has a dungeon where crisis actors live preparing to stage 5-10 mass shootings a year.*, *

The number of 2016 celebrity deaths is so high that Academy Awards and Grammy producers are considering putting the In Memorium in a separate broadcast so the show doesn’t run over.

Internet OTP Zalfie aka Zoe Sugg and Alfie Deyes aka Zoella and Pointless Blog optioned the rights to their YouTube channels to the Pop Network, and now they’re working on a pilot for a scripted series about two vloggers who fall in love. TBD on if they’re also starring in it.

One of your college friends who never cared a ton about Prince or David Bowie wrote a long, navel-gazing reflection on the death of Prince or David Bowie.

Dove Cameron accidentally revealed the identity of her new boyfriend on her Insta story after taking a selfie in the mirror, where she had a photobooth pic up of her kissing her new man.

A reboot of one of your favorite shows completely excised the soul of the show. It was a shell of its former self. (Does not apply to Gilmore Girls. At least we had that.)

A young journalist from Northern Virginia has earned upwards of a quarter-million dollars in YouLogy, a database where celebrities can access, vet and fact-check the pre-written obituaries major news outlets have on file for them. The company expects to go public by the end of 2017.

The Onion has completely given up on its entire M.O. after the high percentage rate of its fake headlines started becoming real. Now they’re more hard hitting than The New York Times.

“Julie Andrews alive please” and “Bill Murray not dead RIGHT” were both trending autocomplete searches.

After the election, someone told you one of the following statements:

  • The sun will still rise tomorrow.
  • We’ve been through worse than this.
  • I don’t understand why people are protesting.
  • We need to wait and see what happens before we get upset.
  • Everybody is overreacting.

… and he was a white, straight Christian man.

16% of Trump supporters only voted for him because they’re really big The Apprentice fans. *

Speaking of which, DT announced he’s recruited George Ross, one of his two boardroom advisors on The Apprentice, as the ambassador to Genovia.

A group of magicians in Walla Walla, Washington decided to do their respective tricks when filming the mannequin challenge, but it went awry when someone’s fire caught on to the extra-long handkerchief chain hanging from the sleeve of the illusionist next to him. He luckily only walked away with burnt pride, but it was all caught on camera.

The cast of the OG Scream movie celebrated its 20th anniversary by holding a “house party at Stu’s” for die hard fans of the film. There was even a photo booth where you could fake your death in a garage door.

Trump just found out he’s been in cahoots with a robot Vladimir Putin like on Westworld for all these years.

In August, the Prep School Pussy-Grabber made headlines when he went to trial for kidnapping housecats across his  Connecticut neighborhood; at least 36 cats have yet to be recovered, but it doesn’t look great for them. Judge Wallace Wenthill released the Ivy League-bound teen without punishment because “those cats should have stayed indoors” and also “he was an Ivy League-bound teen.”

The bad news is your company went to a mega-high deductible health insurance plan; the good news is you met it because you had a bunch of weird health stuff.

World Book Encyclopedia, which still exists, is locked in a heated debate regarding the featured image for its article on the year 2016. Top contenders are the Arthur fist meme, a dumpster fire, and a rat eating a cockroach as a predatory pigeon swoops down on the both of them.

White House photographers caught a picture of Donald Trump’s list of ideal cabinet picks when he visited President Obama. Items included “Ivanka in a wig, nobody will know” and “an immigrant who hates himself.”


Merry Hip-Hop Christmas Motherf#cK3R$!

There’s a famous record store in California called Ameoba Records that is known for its extensive music and DVD collection. The one in Hollywood happens to be near my movie theater of choice, so when I was killing some time before going to said movie theater recently, I walked around Ameoba and stumbled into the holiday music section. The collections isn’t as large compared to all the other sections in the store, but the fact that they have to divide it up into genre and not just by artists should tell you that this wasn’t a normal Trans Siberian Orchestra and Vince Garabaldi Trio situation. No, Ameoba had an entire Hip-Hop and R&B holiday music section which I immediately scoured through. Did I expect Whitney Houston? Sure. Destiny’s Child? OK. But did I ever think this particular CD even existed?photo-dec-08-6-42-13-pmphoto-dec-08-6-42-18-pm

Short answer: nope. Absolutely not. You’re telling me a TWO CD compilation featuring what seems to be a line-up of stars who peaked in 2005 recorded Christmas specific tracks for an album that has cover art made with Microsoft Word Art is for sale?! Because I’m a cheapo, I swiftly snapped these pix and noted to look it up on Spotify later. And boy or boy did it turn out to be gold indeed. The very first line of the entire album is said by Cam’Ron (of Hey Ma fame), and he yells out, “Merry Christmas motherfuckers!” Honestly, how can you stop there. I had to listen to the entire thing. You can stream the entire album here, but I’m selecting a few standout “favorites” from this gem of an album to spread the holiday cheer. Enjoy, bitchez!

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells by Onyx

Right off the bat, Onyx declares he hates Christmas, which for a Christmas album is a pretty bold move. Or gangster move, if you will. In fact, the entire song is a gangster rap song, except with a few key Christmas phrases thrown in there.

Other key lyrics: “Fuck Christmas, fuck all holidays/I’m the grinch bitch, got a new hot plate”… “Jingle Bells, Shotgun shells, n***az get shot every day, hey!”

“Deck the Halls with weed and Henny (*in the background* Black Santa!)… Y’all really think Santa tryna come out to the ‘hood? Santa ain’t comin’ out here. This is Oakland. Santa ain’t tryna get shot” – Deck the Halls by Luniz

 Christmas Treez by Baby Bash

Spoiler alert kids – “Christmas Treez” is code word for weed. But the gag is that the song’s not even really about smoking weed. It’s about fucking bitches. While high. That’s right. Because nothing says, “welcome baby Jesus” like the phrase “pearl necklace”. They just referenced Netflix and apparently this is a new release. A 2016 RELEASE. I AM SHOCKED.

Other key lyrics: “She give me that XXX from Texas/A blessed bitch/Over the next bitch/Man eat her for breakfast.”

It’s a real shock to the system when R&B group Az Yet starts singing Angels We Have Heard on High in all earnestness.

Chingy’s Christmas by Chingy

Who knew the first refreshing song on this album would be from Chingy? He actually is approaching the song with a story, and a story of philanthropy none the less! He’s “got a bag of goodies for all y’all” and gonna “make it rain gifts like Santa Claus”. Truly inspirational. And if you’re wondering what happened to Chingy, you’re not the only one.

Kb Christmas Delight by Kurtis Blow

It’s really throwing me off that this album was made this year. I legit thought this was from 2005. So hearing references like Netflix are jarring. In this song, KB starts namedropping rappers coming to his Christmas party, like Snoop and Rev Run from Run DMC. But what’s even more jarring is when when he mentions that Kim and Kanye roll up in the party.. Also, I’m not a Kurtis Blow aficionado or anything, but do his songs all sound the same?

Other key lyrics: “Ring ring at the door again, in walks Kanye and Kim/Don’t let the paparazzi in, only hip-hop fam and friends/Knock Knock who will we see? Beyonce and Jay Z/B and Jay Z came by just to party with me/No shade we ain’t sipping tea”

Surviving Christmas by Kool Moe Dee

Straight up the most depressing Christmas song I’ve ever heard. Including that Christmas Shoes one. You’ve just got to listen to this one.

The placement of these songs is so wrong. It’s a mixtape gone horribly wrong.

Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas) by Ying Yang Twins

When I first picked this lost gem of an album up, the one track that really stood out to me was this one titled Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas). Judging by the parenthetical addendum as well as the fact that it was by Whisper Song stars the Ying Yang Twins, I deduced the title wasn’t referring to Santa’s favorite phrase. And man oh man. Was I wrong. First of all, the hook is to the tune of Frére Jacques, but the lyrics are now: “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas/Ho Ho Ho/Ho Ho Ho/ Santa where my presents? Santa where my presents?/I’ve been good! I’ve been good!” And while a “ho” is mentioned in the beginning, it’s mostly about wanting presents? I don’t know what to do with this.

Other key lyrics: “Kids runnin’ around/playing with all their toys/You better sit your ass down/Makin’ all that noise/Take your ass outside/And ride that bike/ But your ass better come in/When that light come on”

“Macy’s got a black santa on the sixth floor!” Black Santa Clauz

It’s Still Christmas by Celly Cel

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this album is that Santa gives presents that all these rappers want, and also it all happens in the hood. In this song, we should all keep the chorus in mind when Dec. 25th comes round this year: “If we don’t get what we want/It’s still Christmas/Let the haters hate/We gon’ celebrate

Other key lyrics: “Spoiled little kids get pissed, if they don’t get everything on they’re list/Girlfriend’s mad cuz she didn’t get a ring/Boyfriend mad cuz she joined another team.”

I Can’t Wait Til Christmas by The Force MD’s sounds like a song made specifically for JCPenney TV commercials

Silent Night by J-Kwon

For a song that’s all about peace and stillness, J-Kwon’s version begins with a non-peaceful chant of “Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night”

Other key lyrics: “Let my girlfriend trip she don’t get no gifts today”

A sincere version of What Child Is This? shouldn’t be on the same album as “Merry Christmas motherfuckers”, right? It’s completely tone deaf.

It’s Christmas by Trick Daddy

I… kind of like this one? It’s a catchy chorus? I’ve been listening to this album for too long. IT’S TWO CDS WORTH OF MUSIC!

Other key lyrics: “I’m dancing with a fat girl but I can’t kiss her though” what are you talking about

And we’re back to the most non-merry version of Jingle Bells I’ve every heard.

Santa Baby by Khia

The producers of this album decided the best move to end this ridiculous record was to close it with a version of Santa Baby by Khia, who you might know from her work on My Neck, My Back. I feared she would turn this song too sexual, but thank God she didn’t. That aside… it’s still not good.

The Holiday Is Our Aesthetic

Christmas movies, in general, are aesthetically dreamy. Those technicolor classics like White Christmas bring the Old Hollywood glamor, cozy houses in movies like The Family Stone make me dream of joyfully chaotic decor, and Christmas rom-coms are the sparkliest and dreamiest of all rom-coms. That’s why this month, our aesthetic goals come from 2007 Christmas classic (ahem… modern classic), The Holiday.

Kate and Cameron’s Hair

Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz’s hair look perfectly normal, but that’s the thing. In 2007, Kate’s loose, beachy waves were actually at the very start of the loose, beachy waves trend, and I think it says something that it still looks current 9 years later – in contrast, imagine trying to sport, say, 1994 hair in 2003. I’ve also always been envious of straight, fine hair like Cameron’s that can looks fun yet professional in a short, croppy ‘do, as opposed to … floofy. I think a lot of us would look floofy with that haircut.

Rosehill Cottage, Exterior

Forget the likelihood that Iris, a young columnist who’s not at the top of her publication, could afford this. Holiday films are about wish-fulfillment, after all. It makes me happy just to think that SOMEONE gets to live in a gorgeous, quaint stone cottage with wildflower gardens, a rustic fence and a winding road in front of it. (Note: As a real estate addict, I did look up some houses for sale in Surrey. It is as expensive as you’d expect a picturesque London-accessible area to be; I assume the less-expensive ones are also secretly falling down inside. Maybe Iris inherited it from a relative. Whatever, it’s a movie and I’d much prefer to look at this cottage than a tiny, cookie-cutter terraced house from the 1970s).

Rosehill Cottage, Interior

I know that saying “I like the cottage better than Cameron Diaz’s mansion” makes me sound like one of those guys who think it’s a revelation that they find, like, Emma Stone more attractive than Angelina Jolie. The cottage is doing pretty well for itself, thanks. That said, yeah, I would 1000% rather live in Iris’s cottage than Amanda’s SmartHouse. (I bought a cute little 1909 house a few years ago so it’s not just talk. Also I couldn’t afford anything even approaching Amanda’s SmartHouse even if I wanted it, let’s be clear.) Rosehill Cottage really holds up on rewatch. There are layers of cosy decor, lots of overstuffed chintz chairs and a great vintage iron bed, but if you look really closely nothing is sloppy or haphazard. Also: fireplaces everywhere! Stone and stucco walls! A stainless steel tub and a painted wood bathroom floor! Do yourself a favor and go gawk at the Hooked On Houses page for it.

PS, I think “it has a fireplace in the bedroom” is the house version of “and it has pockets!” in a cute dress.

Iris’s Nancy Meyers Kitchen

Ain’t no kitchen like a Nancy Meyers kitchen cause a Nancy Meyers kitchen is very, very charming. Echoing the old-country charm of one of my other favorite Nancy Meyers kitchens (the vastly underrated Baby Boom), this one comes complete with a stucco fireplace, open shelving with blue and white earthenware pottery, flush-mounted cabinet doors in a chalky robins egg blue, and a cosy vintage table. Yes, I did make note of all of those elements for reference when I remodel my kitchen.


Second to the late 90s WB show Felicity, Christmas movies are the best visual source of people in comfy sweaters. If people feeling warm and comfortable is your aesthetic, may I present Jude Law in a blue sweater?

Sophie and Olivia’s Fort

Why is it that you can be a full-grown adult with a home or apartment of your own, but you’d still move into a soft blanket fort with fairy lights any day? Sophie and Olivia, come decorate for me.

Arthur’s Old Hollywood Vibe

Modern Hollywood culture – not much aesthetic appeal. But anything that smacks of the old studio system? Now we’re talking. Arthur, a funny and sweet relic from the days when people only knew about celebrities’ personal lives through fake ‘dates’ they’d go to at the studio commissary, is the real romantic hero of this movie.

This New Year’s Party

Low key decorations, snacks, champagne, and only like 6 people, two of whom are small children. Now THAT’S what a call a no-fuss holiday gathering. But the best part is everyone dresses way the heck up anyway because it’s the holidays, and the best aesthetic of all is “fancier than is strictly necessary, just because it’s fun sometimes.”


Previously In Our Aesthetic:

Remember Their Names (FAME): Pasek & Paul

Pop Quiz: Who are these guys?



If you answered Pasek and Paul, congratulations, you know how to read a blog post title! If you answered ‘I have no freaking clue’, may I introduce to you Benj Pasek (left) & Justin Paul, the musical duo who are about to have the best year of their lives. I’m 99.2% sure of it. Why? They’ve created enough buzz with two big projects that they could potentially be nominated for both Oscars and Tonys in the same year. NBD.

First off, these two are the lyricists behind the songs in La La Land, the movie that everyone is raving about, including me, who lit’rally cannot stop thinking about how great it was since seeing it last week. Second, they’re the creators behind Dear Evan Hansen, the Broadway musical that everyone is raving about, including me, who has not seen it but lit’rally cannot stop playing the only two songs released from the soundtrack on loop.

So before these dudes blow up in 2017, here’s a timeline of their work so far, because with the way their careers are going, I don’t think they’re going away anytime soon.

2005 – Edges

Benj & Justin, both 31, met when they were freshmen at the University of Michigan, and their creative partnership began. Their sophomore year, they created a coming-of-age musical called Edges, which in the beginning era of Facebook (colleges ONLY!) and Mp3 file sharing, became a viral sensation amongst musical theater nerds everywhere. Here’s our boyfriend Aaron Tveit performing Along the Way from Edges a few years after the duo first composed the song cycle in college. Dreamy as he’s ever been.

2007 – Jonathan Larson Glory

Just one year after they graduated from UofM, they were the recipients of the Jonathan Larson grant, which is named after the late Rent composer and honors  musical theatre composers, lyricists and book writers. Given by the Jonathan Larson Foundation in conjunction with the American Theatre Wing (aka the org that’s responsible for the Tonys), Benj & Justin became the youngest people ever to receive the grant. And so far, the grant has paid off.

2010 – A Christmas Story

The musical adaptation of the beloved movie was Benj & Justin’s big musical break and landed them a number of firsts. After their were recruited to write the music and lyrics for the show after the original composer left, A Christmas Story became the first large-scale musical they’d ever written. When it premiered at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 2013, it became their first Broadway show. It marked their first nominations for the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. It also marked their first Tony nominations, for Best Book and Best Musical. Who knew Ralphie could give this duo so much acclaim?

2012 – Dogfight

Every year, there are a couple shows Off-Broadway that folks in the theater community can’t stop raving about. In 2012, that show was Dogfight, a musical adaptation of the 1991 movie starring River Phoenix and Lili Taylor. It centered on a Marine who takes part in a “dogfight”, in which each dude adorably attempts to find the ugliest woman to take out on a date. The show won two Lucille Lortel Awards, the Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, and earned a Drama League nomination. The show also started a collaboration between Benj & Justin and Stacey Mindich, who comissioned the two to write and compose the show, but she later became the lead producer of Dear Evan Hansen.

2013 – Smash

Go back into the part of your brain that forgot about season two of Smash, because Benj & Justin were recruited to use their fresh talents to write songs for the fake musical The Hit List, which had more of a contemporary musical feel to it, as opposed to the Marilyn Monroe/traditional musical Bombshell. Katharine McPhee first sang this song on the show (and her version is the only one available on the soundtrack), but Jeremy Jordan sang a bit of it in a later episode, and while both versions are fantastic, I hardly ever find fault when it comes to Jeremy and his singing capabilities. It’s one of the more memorable tracks from Smash, and that’s all in part to Benj & Justin’s genius. Later, NBC head honcho (and man responsible for all those live musicals) Bob Greenblatt was so impressed with the duo that he went on to become a co-producer of Dear Evan Hansen. Speaking of which…

2015 – Dear Evan Hansen

Like Dogfight before it, Dear Even Hansen got a shitload of acclaim during its Off-Broadway run earlier this year. Unlike Dogfight, DEH has gotten its shot on Broadway, and recently opened to even more acclaim. Starring Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt, he plays a high school student with social anxiety and his life turns upside down when his relationship to a classmate who commits suicide is misconstrued. Based on the reviews, it’s both heart-wrenching, funny, heartfelt and extremely relevant right down to its use of social media within the show. Benj & Justin collaborated with Hamilton orchestrator/arranger/musical director extraordinaire Alex Lacamoire, and in a full circle moment, the show is directed by Michael Greif, who directed the OG production of Rent. DEH has already won the dream duo an Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama Desk Award, and Obie Award, and as previously mentioned, could be the one to watch come Tony Awards.

2016 – La La Land

Director Damien Chazelle and his college friend Justin Hurwitz had been working on La La Land for years – it was even in the works before Damien won acclaim for Whiplash – and Justin had composed the music for La La Land, but needed the perfect lyricists to fill in the gaps. Enter a similar duo, Benj & Justin who penned the words to the exquisite tracks in the movie. La La Land is a movie that is about music and artistry at its core, so the hiring of Benj & Justin wasn’t just a random hiring choice. Their work *becomes a character in its own right* in the film, and critics have noticed. It’s already been a big hit in the festival circuit, and the success continues to forge on with its recent Critics Choice Awards and Golden Globe noms. It probably won’t stop when it comes Oscars time, either. While I recommend watching the movie first then listening to the soundtrack (BECAUSE IT’S SO FREAKING GOOD), you can listen to the entire soundtrack here!

2017 and Beyond

So what’s next for these two? They’ll have to navigate through awards season past June’s Tony Awards, but they already have a couple high-profile projects in the works – they’ve written all the songs for Hugh Jackman’s P.T. Barnum biopic, The Greatest Showman, and Disney also hired them to write new songs for the live-action remake of Snow White. Fun fact: Ben Platt’s dad is the producer of both La La Land and Snow White. #Fam. Something tells me Pasek & Paul are just at the very beginning and gearing up to join the ranks of Rodgers & Hammerstein – which is a very good place to start.

Love Actually Is A 2003 Time Capsule

This year, there are teenagers who were not even born when Love Actually was released. I hope you feel good about that, because I feel awful. Still, I cannot deny that 2003 was a really long time ago. The global economy and politics were different, technology was worlds apart, clothing has changed enough to look absurd now. I always expect this with 90s movies, but seeing a movie from the 2000s look dated – my high school years! senior year, in fact! I worked at a movie theater when it came out! – is a bit of a shock. There’s no denying it: now that Love Actually is a teenager old, it is a veritable 2003 time capsule.

Keira Knightly’s two pieces of hair

2003 was the year side bangs started to make their way back in after those 1990s curled-under round brush bangs were officially out. But it was a transitional time, and if you wanted a bit of interest you’d just part your hair in the middle and leave two little pieces out in front.

Natalie Had Those Side Bangs, By The Way

See also, my haircut c. 2004.

Keira Knightly herself

Keira Knightly 2003, Keira Knightly 2016. WHERE IS THE DIFFERENCE. She’s like a walking 2003 time capsule.

(I remember being floored that I was roughly the same age as Keira when this came out, because she looked like a beautiful, sophisticated leading lady and I looked like a Cabbage Patch Kid without makeup, or an American Girl doll with.)

This Ringtone

Thomas Sangster As A Child

You may remember that for what felt like a 10-year period in the early 2000s, all child roles were played by Thomas Sangster, Dakota Fanning and Freddie Highmore (that English boy with the brown bowl cut from Finding Neverland). It went on for so long that it seemed almost like they were being pumped with puberty-surpressing drugs. Nothing says 2003 like Child Thomas Sangster.

(Upon further Googling, Thomas Sangster is now a 26 year old man, lending further weight to my theory that he played little boy roles forever)

Maroon Five

Just, in general.

Keira Knightly’s newsboy cap

Or baker boy hat, I guess? These aren’t totally gone, but they were really having a moment in the early 2000s

A VHS tape as a plot device

as the soundtrack to an angsty scene, in particular.

Norah Jones

as the soundtrack to a slow dance, in particular.

The American girls’ ‘going out outfits’

As discussed in our analysis of mid 2000s fashion, the Going Out Top was a very real phenomenon. That blue sparkly one, in particular, is a prime example of a 2003 Going Out Top in the wild.

Natalie’s off-shoulder Christmas sweater

Way more subtle than the fun yet garish 80s/90s Christmas sweaters, but really throwing me back to the off-shoulder thing that was going on my last few years of high school.

Joanna’s 2003 Pop Star Ensemble

I present: sequin top, a handkerchief hemline, sparkly jeans (totally had a pair) and accent braids. All ready for an American Idol audition.

Lax Airport Security

Things tightened up after 9/11, but the rigid check in/ security protocol as we know it took a few years to develop, making dramatic airport confessions of love possible.