Pilot You Should Watch If You Haven’t Already: Andi Mack

It’s mid-season premiere season, and we’re bringing you the best of the spring debuts: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Big Little Lies, and today’s pick, Andi Mack. Andi Mack is a decidedly different Disney Channel Original Series. Focused on 13-year-old Andi as she discovers (pilot spoiler!) that her cool big sister Bex is actually her mother, Andi Mack is at once more modern than your typical Disney sitcom and a real throwback to the beloved live-action kids’ shows of our 90s youth.

We grew up during the golden era of children’s sitcoms. Ghostwriter, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Clarissa Explains it All, The Secret World of Alex Mack (if you think I didn’t already accidentally type Alex Mack at one point in this post, you’re underestimating how very old my brain cells are) … there was some excellent live-action tween fare in our day. I’m not saying this out of millennial nostalgia: there has been a real change in kids’ TV over the past decade or so. When execs realized that sitcom viewers weren’t the tweens (say, 8-14-year-olds) in the “target audience” but rather their younger siblings, something happened to children’s programming. Sets got brighter. Outfits got crazier. Jokes got hammier. Adults got buffoon-ier. It might be my age, but things also got really, really loud, right? Moments of sentimentality were sometimes slapped at the end of a “very special episode,” but these shows, as a whole but with exceptions, don’t really challenge kids to think deeper or feel more.

Andi Mack is the return of a children’s show that gives children credit. It assumes that kids today are savvy and smart, that they can engage in a show without neon living rooms and dopey dads and literal bells and whistles (no really, those shows are loud). The premise itself is grown-up. In addition to a young teen dealing with very serious questions of identity (‘my mom is my grandma’ has potential for real V.C. Andrews-level trauma), Bex’s age means that unplanned and teenage pregnancy are necessary issues to be addressed. Early reviews mention that a teen character’s sexual orientation will also be discussed.  Story lines will be played out over the course of the season, rather than resolved within a half-hour — in fact, the pilot is the first kids’ show I’ve seen in a long time that left me wondering what’s next.

Andi Mack is a situation comedy with actual comedy in it. An Amber Alert quip is – for a Disney show – darkly funny, the kind of joke the darkly funny 10-year-olds in my life would actually make. There’s a “first period” joke that’s more mature than the jokes you see in a lot of other Disney/Nickelodeon sitcoms, and the punchline is implied; again, these writers give children credit that they can get jokes. Children’s television can be almost aggressively multi-cam, and the on-location filming and four-walled-looking sets give Andi Mack the feel of a hip modern-day sitcom.

We usually don’t let a sitcom review go by without an unofficial Representation Is Important Corner, so here it is. The Macks are a mixed-race family, which at least for the first two episodes is presented without comment because that’s pretty much the most normal thing a family can be these days. Andi’s grandpa (previously known as dad) is white and grandma (previously known as mom) is Asian (I know that’s broad, but we don’t have further info). In a country where nearly half of all children are from multiracial households, it’s important that these kids can turn on a TV and see a family that looks like their own. There hasn’t been an Asian-American child protagonist of a children’s sitcom since Shelby Woo, a show that premiered over two decades ago. There have been a whole lot of Hannah Montanas and Sams and Cats since then. In addition, Andi’s friends include at least one kid who isn’t white and one kid who isn’t straight.

The grown-up plots, actually-funny comedy and quality representation aren’t the only reason I’ll be nudging the kids in my life to turn on this show over some of the more neon-‘n-noisy options. The characters and casting are great too. Andi (Peyton Elizabeth Lee) is an imaginative teen in the tradition of Pretty In Pink’s Andie, a sort-of tomboy with cute short hair and a motorized bicycle who is known not to play sports — a win for every girl who wasn’t stereotypically girly, but who still found clothing fun and wasn’t necessarily athletic. That is, Andi is a multidimensional 13-year-old, exactly like real 13-year-olds are. Friend Buffy (Sofia Wylie) is confident and fun, and may or may not be named after that other TV Buffy (although she has started watching it). Her buddy Cyrus  reminds me exactly of the funny, self-assured boys I was friends with in my out of school theater groups as a middle schooler; he’s a cool kid who isn’t at all bothered by being friends with girls.  Bex is supposed to be about the same age we are, and her youthful looks and personality are why it’s believable that Andi thought Bex was her sister instead of her mom. Lilan Bowden comes from an improv and writing background, so her Bex comes across as the kind of person I’d actually know in my real life. This is where I have to accept that I’m now in my Lorelai Gilmore stage of life: we’re looking at roughly the ages of the Gilmore Girls in the pilot, minus a couple years. I’m hoping for some good references to Bex’s high school days in the early 2000s.

The bottom line: Andi Mack has a more “adult” concept, styling, and sense of humor than your typical children’s sitcom. It brings much-needed cultural representation to kids’ tv, and the pilot will leave you wanting to watch the second episode. If you have kids in your life, you’ll want to get them into this show so you have an excuse to watch it. If you don’t have kids in your life, the only excuse you really need is that this is a good show.


Andi Mack premieres April 7 on the Disney Channel. The pilot is already available on Disney’s website and YouTube platform.

 

Pilot You Should Watch If You Haven’t Already: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Get ready to add another show to your list in this golden age of television!

If you’re one of those Gilmore Girls fans who also watched Bunheads for Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing style, and continued to watch despite the fact the show had its flaws, we have a new show for you! OR if you didn’t watch either of those shows and have no idea who Amy Sherman-Palladino is, we have a new show for you! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel pilot was released on Friday, and transports us back to 1958 in New York City, where a woman (the titular Mrs. Maisel played by Rachel Brosnahan) goes from “uptown housewife to stand-up comic in Greenwich Village.”

Like all Amazon pilots, the company bosses determine which shows they’ll pick up based on what the viewers want. You can currently watch the pilot for free (even without an Amazon Prime subscription), but if you need some convincing (or watched it already and want to relive it), read on to see why you need to add Mrs. Maisel to your queue.

Rachel Brosnahan!

I appreciated her as a prostitute in House of Cards, but TBH when I heard she got cast in this show, I had some hesitation – solely based on her playing Rachel in HoC, which I understand is unreasonable. But boy oh boy did she impress me in Maisel. She completely inhabits Midge Maisel’s New York housewife persona, and I felt like “House of Cards Rachel Brosnahan” and “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Rachel Brosnahan” are two completely different human beings. Her performance is not forced – it’s honest, hilarious, and heartbreaking all at the same time. It’s one of those things where you think, “My god, she’s going to be a star.”

Mrs. Maisel!

The character of Miriam “Midge” Maisel is strong right from the get-go, as we see her giving a toast – more like a stand-up act complete with upright mic – at her wedding reception. She’s a loving and doting wife, but doesn’t let the “Mrs.” in front of her name define her. She has gumption but isn’t overbearing and annoying, and you find yourself rooting for her throughout the entire episode. She’s a character not to be slept on.

Mad Men Fix!

One of the things I loved most about Mad Men was just being in that world of 1960s New York. If you miss having that period piece in your life too, Maisel will definitely feed your addiction. The costumes (more on that next), sets, props, etc. are Matthew Weiner level detailed.

Costumes!

If you were to ask me what decade I’d like to live in, I will one hundred percent say the 1960s. Besides, like, the environment of segregation and racism that I’d have to endure, take me back. The music, the arts, the clothes – oh the clothes. In Maisel, every person on the screen is wearing an outfit that transports you back a few decades, and I am so here for it. And speaking of Mad Men, Midge even rocks a flowing blue nightgown that is v Betty Draper Francis. I loved it.

Cameos!

Amy is like the Christopher Guest or Ryan Murphy of reparatory players. She has an arsenal of actors she likes to work with, and they keep coming back for more. In Maisel, there were two Gilmore Girls alums – Alex Borstein, who played OG Sookie, Drella, and Ms. Celine and Brian Tarantina, who played Bootsy. Plus Bunheads ballerina (and GG: AYITL 30-Something) Bailey DeYoung aka Ginny has a lovely scene with Midge. And also Gilbert Godfried, because, comedy.

Amazon!

I’ve never watched anything on AmazonPrime but if you hover over the screen, it’ll give you a brief IMDb-type breakdown of the cast plus, details of the song that’s playing. Brilliant! Is this something they do all the time?

Music!

One of ASP’s off-screen rep players is musician Sam Phillips, who you know better as the woman who sings all the “La Las” in GG. She serves as Maisel’s music supervisor and while there are thankfully no La Las in this, she did curate an amazing soundtrack which in the pilot alone features ’60s staples Johnny Mathis, Barbra Streisand, and Peggy Lee, among others.

Classic Amy Sherman-Palladino!

ASP’s trademark is her fast-paced dialogue and it does not slow down in the ’60s. If you didn’t like the fact that Lorelai and Rory spoke “too fast” on GG, don’t bother wasting your time on Maisel, because the swift, quirky, borderline over-the-top scripts are back. And with that comes some of Amy’s Palladino-isms, that only a crazy person like me would notice. For instance, characters frequently use sarcasm to get their point across, or use it to hide behind real emotion or confrontation (see: Lorelai/Emily). Then there’s giving inanimate objects names: in Maisel, Midge says Ted the Moth ruined her husband’s sweater, just like Luke kept forgetting Bert the Toolbox and Lorelai’s house.

bye bye bert

In Maisel, there are odd tertiary characters like the one spoken word poet who just kept saying the city “Spokane” over and over again, which is something Kirk would totally do on open mic night. At one point, Midge says the phrase, “Goodnight, Gracie”, which is a) the name of a GG episode S3, E20 “Say Goodnight, Gracie”, b) is an exchange Luke and Lor have and c) all of the above are a ref to a George Burns and Gracie Allen play. Another Palladinoism in both GG and Bunheads are pop culture references up the wahzoo, but luckily, not many pop culture references (besides Ed Sullivan and Bob Newhart) in Maisel. However, there are some questionable lines (“You get chick raped?”).

Then there are character parallels that stood out to me between Maisel and Gilmore, and it’s probably because I know GG so well. To regular viewers, this won’t be a thing. And TBH, it’s not a thing to me either, but I’m just saying I see Richard and Emily in Midge’s parents, Abe and Rose. It’s not as blatant as it was in Bunheads, and I think that’s what makes this show 10xs better than Bunheads both in the pilot and entire series.

All this being said, what I think makes this show different is that this era is the era that ASP was born to write for (or born to live in), and it hits all the right notes the entire episode.

Bottom Line:

Watch this pilot! (and tell Amazon you want it picked up for an entire season). I dare say it’s as strong, if not stronger than the Gilmore Girls pilot. I was impressed with Amy’s next level writing and storytelling, and how she’s managed to create (hopefully) another hit.

Notable Quotes:

“Did we have kids?” Joel inquring about his children’s whereabouts when he comes home after work

“Your daddy is crazy… Now let’s measure your forehead.” Midge

“I’m just afraid she’s not a pretty girl.”

Pop Culture Blind Spot: Darby O’Gill And The Little People

Three truths and a lie, St. Patrick’s Day Edition:

  • I grew up Irish dancing and thus I never went to school on St. Patrick’s Day because I had performances.
  • I mostly look like a leprechaun.
  • Every year, my family watched Darby O’Gill and the Little People sometime around St. Paddy’s day.
  • I despair every time someone calls it St. Patty’s Day. Who’s Patricia?

Answer: As you probably guessed from the post title, I’ve never seen Darby O’Gill and The Little People. The 1959 Disney movie is a cheesy, beloved Irish-American classic starring (according to Wikipedia)… Sean Connery?! Woah. In my defense, in the 90s if your family didn’t have the VHS tape of a movie or it didn’t air on a station you got, you just didn’t see it. I’m rectifying that now, so please don’t disinvite me from the next ceilidh or soda bread baking night.

Set design of Irish movies from the 1940s-1970s is the main reason for a lot of lingering Irish stereotypes. Namely, that it’s always vaguely the 1800s with thatch roofs and dirty stucco walls and like … spinning wheels and butter churns and shawls everywhere.

Is the old lady, The Widow Sugrue,  the same old lady from The Wedding Singer? I know it’s impossible but one has to wonder.

It’s not.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Pretty Young Lass Needs A Husband

It takes me about 3 minutes to get into the mode where I understand what anybody is saying. It’s not because I’m not used to Irish accents. It’s because these aren’t Irish accents (Katie’s is often OK. Widow Sugrue’s reminds me of elementary school plays where you didn’t know how to do the accent you were supposed to do so you just talked weird).

It’s called Darby O’Gill and The Little People, and for whatever reason I assumed Darby would be a leprechaun too. Nope. Just a guy.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Group Of Men Telling Legends In A Pub.

The special effects of Darby talking to leprechaun King Brian are surprisingly very good. Sometimes I think modern CGI makes things look more fake than old-school camera tricks.

The image links to an explanation of some of the *movie magic.* I’m duly impressed.

It also reminds me of the parts of Mr. Rogers when take the trolley to the Land of Puppetville or whatever that was.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Village Priest Solving A Financial Problem.

Young Sean Connery could get it.

By the way, Sean Connery is one of those people who’s never been young. He’s 29 here and his face is care-worn and weathered.

Everyone’s sideburns are huge. Little House on the Prairie sideburns.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Woman Leans Out A Half-Door.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Old Man Plays The Fiddle.

These leprechauns have the best outfits. They’re total Keebler Elf getups.

I’d live inside this Leprechaun Ceilidh. It’s like the Trolls hideout without all the LSD, or Munchkinland without the specter of murder. Yet, anyway.

So many dorky Irish in-references: Brian Boru, the harp that once thro Tara’s halls, a tribe of people cowering away from direct sunlight (no? Just me?).

When Darby plays his fiddle really fast and the leprechauns start dancing crazy, you could forget what I said about “without all the LSD” before. This is trippy.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Somebody Gets Someone Drunk In Order To Trick Them.

Always been a sucker for a cat vs leprechaun sequence. Another triumph for old-school special effects.

All these songs sound the same. Bless Janet Munro and Sean Connery. They’re trying so hard to have Irish accents in their scenes together. Sean Connery has natural 21st Century American Invisalign Teeth. Janet Munro, an English actress, definitely looks Irish.

Darby would be a cute name for a dog, right?

Darby, requesting whisky: The best in the house!

Barmaid: [look of shock and fear, because best in the house means things are SERIOUS. Also because Darby gives the drink to a man inside his rucksack.]

I start laughing out loud when Katie starts singing in a drippy voice while preening her weird short bangs and suddenly I can’t stop laughing.

Keep expecting this to turn into an SNL sketch where King Brian is really gross or filthy.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Woman Gets Offended When Man Loves Her.

The banshee looks like you’re meant to be looking at it through special glasses.

“29. Sean Connery is TWENTY NINE” – me, out loud, trying to convince myself that Very Adult Man Sean Connery isn’t even 30 here.

The ghostly horse and carriage is actually spooky in a laser light show at the planetarium kind of way. If I saw this as a kid I’d be unnerved.

By the way, the headless horseman doesn’t really have an Irish accent, either.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I laugh every time they sing that stupid song.

If you’re playing Irish Movie Bingo, fill in your square for Characters Drive Away In A Horse-Drawn Cart.

The bottom line: I enjoy old movies, and this was an enjoyable old movie. The underlying question with our Pop Culture Blind Spot posts is whether cult favorites are good of their own accord, or if you have to have some sort of earlier sentimental connection to them to really love them.  I could see being really into Darby O’Gill And The Little People if I had loved it as a kid, and seeing at is an adult I have a healthy appreciation for the old-school special effects and the imaginative story. It actually made me realize, in comparison, how much more I liked last year’s St. Patrick’s Day Pop Culture Blind Spot, The Quiet Man. In the battle between Rugged Men Who Aren’t Irish Playing Rugged Men Who Are, Sean Connery vs John Wayne, John Wayne takes this round.

50 Reasons Why We Love Lauren Graham For Her 25th* Birthday

As a lifelong Backstreet Boys fan, I admittedly spent a few years during my teenybopper era celebrating the birth of my favorite member, AJ McLean. One year, my parents even fed into my delusions by purchasing a small cookie cake and we stood around my kitchen table singing happy birthday to him. He was not there.

Is it weird that we celebrate celebrities’ birthdays as if we know them on a personal level? Maybe. Now as an adult, I no longer blow out candles on Wegmans pastries for a stranger I’ve met a few times. When the day comes, it’s become more of an appreciation of those we admire as opposed to a borderline stalker event that could be used against you in a court of law. The idea of fame and celebrity is weird enough, but when you get down to it, you’re attracted to these people in the spotlight because you have similar interests, believe in similar ideals, and hold their professional work in high regard.

So today, on the *second anniversary of her 25th birthday, we’re going to do just that for one of our blog patron saints, Lauren Graham, and note just 50 reasons why she’s worthy of that title (in no particular order). Of course she is known as one of the most iconic TV moms in history, but in addition to her stellar work, we can’t help but gush over someone we admire for who she is as a human being. Happy Birthday, LG. Here’s to another 50.

1) Lauren, a New York Times Best Seller, isn’t just an actress who thinks she can write. She graduated from Barnard College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature.

2) While studying at the selective New York school, she used to sneak on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade route the night before and look at all the huge balloons before they were inflated. This is something not only I would weirdly want to see, but apparently, is something her BF Peter Krause did too. Not together. Which is even more of a reason that they’re *~mEaNt 2 B~*

3) And because one degree wasn’t enough, she also earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting Performance from Texas’ Southern Methodist University.

4) She and her dad are IRL Lorelai/Rory.

“We had a special kind of friendship: I came along to dinner and dates. He took me to concerts. We’d go on road trips. I didn’t have a strong idea of how to play a mom—my mom was in my life, but not on a daily basis. I came into it without an idea of how moms “should act” or how it “should be.” I came in thinking of my friendship with my dad–that was my model.” {x}

5) Her appearances on talk shows are always entertaining. Exhibit #1: She’s just as awkward as you at parties.

6) She has to deal with people eating her food creations too:

7) Kelly Clarkson/LG mutual appreciation society (click to read entire thread)

8) And she sings along to KC in the car like us too

9) She respects the art of letter writing – she used to keep in touch with her TV dad Edward Hermann by writing notes to him. She even read an excerpt of one of their letters during his memorial in early 2015.

10) And listens to her TV mom when it comes to the important stuff (finding love):

Lauren’s POV:

“From the start of the show Kelly named herself my TVM, or TV mom, by which she meant she was taking her character’s role seriously, beyond the pages or sets and out into the real world … In a maternal, protective way, she found most of my boyfriends at the time lacking, and once told me I needed someone who was more my equal, like ‘that wonderful actor on Six Feet Under’.” {x}

Kelly’s POV: 

“I was always giving Lauren advice on her love life—from experience to advice to opinion. We had lots of discussions about that… I am so happy (she’s with Peter Krause). She doesn’t remember this, but a long time ago, we were talking about the latest unworthy person. She is a very bright woman, and I always thought the guys she was going out with weren’t smart enough for her because that’s going to bore you after a while! Very quickly, actually. A lot of them weren’t that successful, so that always makes the dynamic really awkward. So we’re talking about her latest problem and the fact that there’s no one out there, and I say, “You know, I’ve been watching this show I love called Six Feet Under, and there’s this guy…” and she says, “I know, Peter Krause.” And I said, “I think you two would make the greatest couple.” She said, “That’s all very nice. We worked together years ago and there was some attraction, but he’s married.” I went, “Oh, OK, that’s it!” All these years go by and I send her a birthday email—”Happy birthday. Love, TV Mom”—and she writes back in March and says, “I didn’t tell you this, but I’ve been seeing Peter Krause since December. We’ve been an item; we’re going together.” I said, “That is so fabulous!” I saw her a couple years ago when she was in New York and reminded her of that conversation and she didn’t remember it. I saw that guy and thought, Wow, he’d be really good with Lauren.” {x}

11) And she’s been able to keep her relationship with PK relatively low over the past seven years.

“I don’t really experience a spotlight. In this case, nobody knew for a while, because we like to be at home, cooking and not going out. I’ve also been really protective of it, because it’s important that you can buy us as brother and sister on the show.” {x}

12) Same goes for the fact she’s not seen out and about in Hollywood 24/7:

“I have the same friends I’ve always had; most of my dear friends are from college [she went to Barnard] or high school. I think with a little bit of effort you can lead a somewhat quiet life in this business. And anyway, I don’t know how interesting people would find it to have the Gilmore girl caught in a brawl. [Laughs.] I’m lying. That would be really cool.”

13) She helps bring the fandoms together:

14) Lauren would’ve been a really good fake talk show host on the pilot that was never picked up, but thank GOD she was able to host for real while stepping in for Craig Ferguson on The Late Late Show.

15) Talk Show Exhibit #2

16) Day drinking is acceptable and you can use the excuse of “It’s Christmas!” for it to be totally OK.

“I meet my sister at the hotel restaurant. She’s got to get to an office holiday party, so we quickly share a warm Caesar salad (sounds weird, but it’s good), and a tuna tartare. It’s a little early, but should we have a glass of wine? We decide: Yes! It’s Christmas, after all! Everything is great, and the bill comes to about $1,092. We resolve to meet up later, but decide to branch out and eat somewhere that won’t cost us another Ferrari.” {x}

17) Because she also enjoyed these cameos (#WeLoveYouLaurenComeOnTheShow)

18) She got Amy Sherman-Palladino, and Amy got her back. That’s what made GG magic.

Lauren on Amy: “Reading through the script] felt like two things: One, the idea of someone else doing it made me really mad [Laughs]. It’s just a spark, you read something and you’re like, “Whoa.” I started playing the character from like page one and sometimes it’s not that seamless. I felt like I knew what the writer meant, you know? It was a connection. I just really connected to the material.” {x}

Amy on Lauren: “She talks a mile a minute, and pace is my whole life… Lauren could handle the language and get her mouth around the words and make it mean something. I got her immediately, and I could write for her voice like gangbusters.” {x}

19) She’s fully aware of the dated costumes on GG:

20) She’s really good at cold reading/improv, as witnessed in this bit with Anna Faris on her Unqualified podcast

21) Also on that podcast ep (around :23), Lauren detailed how she understands and truly gets fans’ passion and love for Gilmore: “Something about Gilmore Girls really speaks to certain people… I really appreciate that sense of ‘I know you’ kind of feeling… I never thought this would be the case, but the show stuck around, so (fans) are now watching it with their kids, and it’s meant a family thing to them… I didn’t really grow up with my mom, I grew up with my dad. My mom lived in England for many years and while I was doing that show, they would send it to her – it wasn’t airing there, but they would send it to her. It meant so much to her that they did that and it was such a bonding experience for us, so i have actually had that experience of the show bringing me closer to my mother so I try to respect that.

22) She loved Downton as much as we all did

23) And had the same reaction we did when we first saw the Downton cast in full glam:

“It was a dark day when I saw the Downton Abbey cast in street make-up. I really love to be transported and not to think about how they might shop at Whole Foods.” {x}

24) Talk Show Exhibit #3

25) She could’ve contributed to our Everything’s Coming Up Rosie Week

26) Parenthood boss Jason Katims perfectly details what we love about LG’s acting abilities:

“What impresses me is her ability to not only play the humor that’s inherent in the scene, but to mine the humor, to find more of those moments. Sarah (Braverman) is in an embarrassing situation: she has to move back home as an adult with two children. So you’re looking for somebody who will bring the humor, intelligence and humility to make you really like that person. Those are qualities that Lauren brings so beautifully to what she does.” {x}

27) She steals things from work like all of us:

28) She isn’t the type of actress to leave her co-stars in the dust. E.G.: helping newbie Alexis Bledel on the GG pilot/beginning of season 1:

“The only place where she was so new was technically, and that show – as fun and breezy and light as it is – is technically really challenging because Amy liked to get a master, flawless single take….The camera’s following us and we’d have to curve around at a certain point or pause at a certain point. We have a very delineated path and if, you know, she’d sort of stray, we’d pull her back. We have a lot of scenes in those early episodes where I’m literally gluing her to my side. I don’t know if she noticed or cared, it kind of worked and it served to help make us look like this connected duo because I literally wouldn’t let go of her.” {x}

29) She was in an a cappella group in college called the Metrotones. If there is footage of this, RELASE THE TAPES.

30) Talk Show Exhibit #4

31) Adam Shankman, her director on 2005 film The Pacifier sings her praises for her ability to balance work and friendship: “She’s incredibly smart and incredibly upbeat – always supportive and a great cheerleader, both personally and professionally. As a friend, she is everything you could hope for in this town.” {x}

32) She keeps in real – sometimes being on your fave TV show isn’t all you expect

33) She’s always game to play a prank:

34) She’s really best friends with her TV daughter, Mae Whitman

35) And really close with Miles Heizer (Drew) and Jason Ritter (Should-have-been-husband Mark Cyr). So much so they all got matching champagne bottle necklaces

36) Because #TeamMark forever

37) To reiterate, it’s a family affair when you support your TV daughter’s play

we bravermans gotta stick together #themysteryofloveandsex #supportivefamily #extremelylucky

A post shared by mae margaret whitman (@mistergarf) on

38) Seriously, we adore their friendship:

Mae on Lauren: “When you’re acting with her, I could go in and not have any idea what I was doing and look into her eyes and know that I was going to be taken care of, because she’s truly the most elegant and smart and funny and classy person I know.”

Speaking of a scene in the penultimate episode of Parenthood in which Sarah and Amber have a heart-to-heart and sing Joni Mitchell’s The Circle Game: “They let us improvise a lot on Parenthood. That was one of the last scenes we shot together after six years of building this relationship with our two characters, and so right before we were about to cut — I added, I looked at her and it just came out — I said, ‘You’re my hero,’ and that really wasn’t a line. That came from Mae Whitman to Lauren Graham: So she’s my idol and my hero.” {x}

39) Because LG’s the type of friend who will write break-up texts for you:

Mae: “My first introduction to Lauren’s writing was a poem around Christmastime that was so so genuine and hilarious and so, so smart, without being the least bit manipulative or saccharine. Right then I knew that we would see great things from her in the writing department.I mean, I’ve had her write break-up texts for me for God’s sake! Side note: I do not necessarily condone or recommend breaking up with anyone over a text; but if you’ve got to do it, get yourself a Lauren Graham. Trust me … I think the most amazing thing to me about her writing is that she’s able to be so inclusive and present and so genuinely funny without ever being mean or cutting anyone down. She’s like the Jim Henson of the writing world.” {x}

40) Wise words:

41) Talk show exhibit #5:

42) She’s obsessed with Hamilton too (and bonus Mandy Moore getting in on the action)

43) This is a good time to remind everyone she’s a theater nerd at heart.

44) She truly gets the importance of Gilmore:

“That’s part of the wish fulfillment of this show, is ‘What if?’. What if you lived in this town where getting a traffic light was a major event? What if you were late to the town meeting again and everyone was going to know about it, you know, ‘What if?’ There was a real comfort aspect to living in this world that wasn’t gritty reality and that was part of the joy of it. It’s real but it’s also a break from the real world.” {The Today Show Reunion at the ATX TV Festival, 2015}

45) Friendship Goals AF

46) Writer’s block is real for everyone:

47) She’s with her and him

48) She understands how unique and rare it is to get the opportunity to go back to a show years after it ends, and embraced it fully.

“You hardly get a chance anytime in life to appreciate the moment you’re in while you’re in it,” Graham said. “The fact that it was the people who brought us back, and we got to finish a story we hadn’t gotten to finish, and this character I love so much … I was just walking around like, ‘Thank you so much for being here.’ I was just a freak. I had so much appreciation, it was overwhelming. I’m not a person who cries very easily. I cried almost every day.” {x}

49) As a person who cries at pretty much everything, LG describing her first time back on the Gilmore set is basically me the first time I watched Winter:

“When I walked onto the set for the first time. We had to do a camera test and… the house. [She gets choked up] It’s on a different stage but it’s… the house. Alexis [Bledel] and I walked onto the set together and — I feel super emotional about a lot of it and I’m afraid I’m going to start crying at every turn — but walking onto that set really felt like something. It felt like a lot of time had passed and it felt like we were just there. It felt amazing.” {x}

50) The Future Is Female, and Lorelai Gilmore will never be forgotten: “I can’t tell you what a kick I get out of (hearing from the fans), especially the younger people over the years who have grown up with the show and have (developed) a bond with a family member from a different generation while watching it together. I hope when I’m 55 and I’ve been out of a job for a long time and those girls are running the studios, that they remember Lorelai Gilmore.” {x}

Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Big Little Lies

A first grade class that’s almost like if Lululemon, Whole Foods, Real Simple and Dwell collaborated on an elementary school. Upmarket Monterey moms with a lot of mystery, intrigue and in-fighting. The return of David E. Kelley at his best. And somebody dead — murdered at a tony school fundraiser, quite possibly by another parent. HBO’s Big Little Lies (produced by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman, a Nashville dream team if ever there was one) is only four episodes in but I’m already knee-deep in theories and questions. I don’t want to give away too many plot points, so I’ve devised a handy equation to explain the show instead:

Twin Peaks + Desperate Housewives + (1/2 x Stepford Wives) + ( Mean Girls x The Alison Hendrix Parts Of Orphan Black) = Big Little Lies

We have the piece-by-pieces investigation of an unsolved murder of Twin Peaks, the dark, suburban dealings of Desperate Housewives, the surprising satire of upper-class femininity of The Stepford Wives, the social machinations and stratifications of Mean Girls and the tightly-wound perfection of Alison Hendrix’s fast-unraveling life. It’s a quick watch, and a show you’ll want to catch up on.

Although it can be fun to see a well-known actor cast totally against type, there is something incredibly satisfying about the on-the-nose typecasting going on in Big Little Lies. Reese Witherspoon plays Madeline Martha Mackenzie, the high-strung, type-A scheming mom to first grader Chloe and teenage Abigail. Imagine Tracy Flick mixed with Regina George, but somehow less devious: Madeline is one of those perfectionists who has to carefully arrange her whole personal and social world just-so or it might all fall down around her. Madeline is the spoke of the Monterey mom circle, both in that she’s the center of everything and in that if she’s spun too hard, you get the impression that pieces will go flying about in all directions. Madeline is married to Ed (Adam Scott), who while not quite Ben Wyatt nevertheless can seem like the quintessential Decent American Man.

Madeline’s circle also includes Celeste Wright. Once again the role is cast to perfection: Nicole Kidman as a pristine, wealthy, slightly icy former lawyer — and half of a couple that’s so well-manicured that you just know something’s way off behind the scenes. Perry (Alexander Skarsgard) is her husband, free of surface flaws but bubbling with some kind of rage under the surface.

At the beginning of the series, a very non-Monterey mom enters the picture. Jane Chapman (Shailene Woodley) is easily 10 years younger than the other moms, decidedly moderate-income, and the single mother to little Ziggy (Iain Armitage AKA Iain Loves Theatre – don’t sleep on this kid). It’s a deliciously Shailene Woodley-esque role. Jane is a little crunchy, a little new-agey, and kind of lovably kooky. Still, you’ll have as many questions about her as you will about anyone else, some of which will be answered over the course of the first 4 episodes (there was a little glimpse of something in the first episode that suddenly made sense in the third, that kind of thing).

All of these characters have children in the same first-grade class, and the rest of the core circle revolves around the same classroom. Nathan Carson (James Tupper) is Madeline’s ex-husband, married to younger Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz, in a role I could have EASILY seen Lisa Bonet in a decade or so ago. Or maybe still? Woman hasn’t aged). Renata Klein (the fantastic Laura Dern) is the mother to Amabella, set at odds against Madeline’s clique when Amabella accuses Ziggy of hurting her during first grade orientation.

Unlike another little lies show you may know – Pretty Little Liars – this whodunnit (and to-whom-dunnit) won’t be dragged out for season upon season. Four episodes have aired, and there are three more to go. It’s a limited series, and director Jean-Marc Vallee has promised that “you will know everything.” Until then, I’m enjoying all of the questions.

Spring Memes Make Me Feel Fine: Obamacare vs. Trumpcare

On Monday, Republicans revealed their plans to replace the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, with a pile of papers called the American Health Care Act, aka Trumpcare. There are a number of controversial changes in the new act, including defunding Planned Parenthood, a complicated tax credit system, and a plan to roll back the expansion of Medicaid in three years’ time. The draft bill basically takes health coverage away from many Americans, most whom are low-income care recipients, while rich Americans would benefit.

In keeping tradition with this administration since November 8th, the draft bill is trash, and people against the AHCA obviously took to the internet to express their opposition, in the form of a Obamacare vs. Trumpcare meme that is making its rounds on the world wide web. Here are just a few faves to warm your resistance spirit.

Is that Bort?

#PinterestFail

That piece will never not be funny

TBH, didn’t even know there was another Mean Girls

Johnny Depp is always a downgrade

Unbreakable

He’ll be back (to take your health care away)

True Detective Season 3: Barack and Joe?

But if we’re talking IRL, OG Aunt Viv is definitely the crazier one.

Is that Jessica Walter??

I can’t stop laughing at this

BARRY.

Perhaps the most accurate one of them all:

I Rory Gilmore’d a Pro/Con List For The Possible Gilmore Girls Revival (Revival)

A few days ago, Netflix head honcho Ted Sarandos stirred the Stars Hollow pot and got fans all riled up by prompting clickbaity headlines like, “More Gilmore Girls episodes possibly on the horizon”, and “Netflix and Gilmore Girls creators are in talks for new episodes”. The reality is that Teddy told the UK press that his team is in”very preliminary” talks with GG gods Amy Sherman-Palladino and Dan Palladino for a revival… of the revival.

“We hope [there are more installments]. We obviously loved the success of the show, fans loved how well it was done, it delivered what they hoped… the worst thing is to wait a couple of years for your favorite show to come back and for it to disappoint you, but they sure delivered and people were really excited about more, and we have been talking to them about the possibility of that.” {via THR}

It is important for all GG fans to know that “very preliminary talks” and “possibility” of new episodes is the key here. Nothing is set in stone. There is a very, very, very long road with many hurdles to greenlighting a show. Sure, Netflix can make it a top priority on their production list (although GG isn’t even the highest rated show on Netflix but whatevs), but just because Ted says they’re talking, it doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing.

But the question is – are the talks even worth it? Do Gilmore Girls fans want more episodes? Does the cast want more episodes? Do Amy and Dan, the creators of this world we love, want more episodes?

To get to the bottom of this, I took the Rory Gilmore approach and created a Pro and Con list of bring the Gilmores back into our lives once again. Spoiler: I do come to a conclusion based on this v scientific model, so Ted, take heed.

Pro: Return to Stars Hollow

One of the first scenes in Winter, the first episode of A Year in the Life, was a sweeping pan of the familiar quaint town of Stars Hollow, coated in fresh snow while lights conveniently turned on as the camera slowly followed Lorelai and Rory across the square, passing by the town troubadour who is singing the perfect song to bring us back to their own little corner of the world. It was perfect. I cried when I saw it. It was exactly what I wanted the revival to be. That feeling of comfort and returning home was captured in that one scene, and to go back to that would not be something I’d shy away from.

Con: Do the actors even want this?

Now I wasn’t part of the cast & crew of GG but from what I gather, when season 7 came around, a lot of people were worn out. They worked long days for most of the year, since those were the days of 22/23 episodes per season. Alexis allegedly wanted out and had no plans to renew her contract. Eight years after it ended, everyone had moved on personally and professionally, and most importantly refreshed with a renewed desire to come back. The main cast (Lauren, Alexis, Scott and Kelly) were all available and willing to reprise their characters in order to finish the story that ASP and Dan originally set out to tell.

The rest of the cast seemed up for it too, but for people like Jared Padalecki, his Supernatural schedule limited his screen time to the one scene. And do y’all even remember that Melissa McCarthy almost wasn’t even in AYITL? Woman is a millionaire busy making action comedy movies with Paul Feig. She carved out a few hours in her schedule to film that one scene in Fall. Lorelai’s best friend lived in Stars Hollow for most of the revival, yet we only saw her for like 10 minutes. All because Melissa is a big movie star now. So are they even up for another installment?

Ever since the OG series ended, Lauren & Alexis were constantly asked if they would return to GG, and even at the premiere of AYITL, the cast was asked if there could be more.

“We’re all just we’re grateful we got a chance to do this,” she said. “It really is about telling a good story for us. Just to keep doing more for the sake of it probably just wouldn’t feel satisfying for anybody. We just want to make sure we’re doing it for a really great reason.” {via E! News}

To me, that sounds like Alexis doesn’t want to ruin a good thing, and would have to be convinced to sign on. And what good is the Gilmore Girls without a third of the Girls (no matter how annoying she is)? I feel like forcing these actors to do something they might not want to do isn’t the ideal situation to come back.

Pro: Lorelai (and Luke) as Grandparents

OK now that my OTP is finally married I wouldn’t be mad at seeing them as a married couple. Although it’s probs just more of the same back and forth flirty bickering (AND I AM OK WITH THAT). But since a baby of their own is out of the picture (I guess?), a baby in the form of a grandchild would be interesting to say the least. Just picture Luke tending to Rory’s child. He will spoil that kid rotten. It’s the stuff fanfics are made of.

Con: Rory as a Mom

We can all agree that Rory in AYITL was v problematic, right? The problem itself was that ASP wrote Rory the way she imagined she would be in season seven, a 23-year-old recent college graduate, not a 32-year-old freelance journalist. Finding out out you’re having a child at the age of 23 is MUCH different than finding out you’re having a child at 32. Furthermore, at the rate she’s going, Rory would be even more annoying moving forward. For some reason, ASP & Dan decided to paint her as a member of the 30-something gang™ who isn’t prepared for job interviews and is casually sleeping with her engaged ex-boyfriend despite having a boyfriend who she keeps forgetting to break up with. This is the same person that was her high school valedictorian and did extra extra credit for fun. I find it hard to believe that she would do a complete 180 in such a short amount of time. Present Rory is not someone I necessarily want to keep tabs on. And before you Rory defenders get all defendy – yes, it’s also a pro that we’d be able to see her as a mom, for the good and the bad.

Pro: #JusticeForLane

One of the major upsets from AYITL for me was that we didn’t get enough Lane Kim. I was hoping that since her storyline sucked ever since circa season 3, we’d get to see more of Lane and if/how she’s living her best life. Instead, we got about 10 minutes of Lane solely acting as a sounding board for Rory’s problems. We don’t even know if Lane is still working at Luke’s, if she’s at the Antique store full time, to what extent Hep Alien plays in their life – nothing. Instead we got the unnecessary reveal of Mr. Kim.

And let’s just call it like it is – this is all Adam Brody’s fault for choosing The OC over GG. If Dave had stayed around, Lane wouldn’t be married to Zach, wouldn’t have had twins, and wouldn’t be working for Mrs. Kim (I’m guessing).

Con: Are we just making profits instead of making art

Fact: Luke and Lorelai’s wedding scene wasn’t originally that middle of the night elopement that you saw in Fall. While I loved how it turned out, that was a much scaled down version of what Amy and Dan had in mind. ASP revealed the wedding secrets to OG Gilmore Guy Michael Ausiello back in December:

“The wedding was originally a much bigger deal. The wedding was a whole shebang. And then they took money away from us. Anything that has extras in it and costumes became a production nightmare. So we had to figure out how to make this wedding satisfying without doing ‘The Big Wedding.'” {via TVLine}

What I’m saying is that business usually gets in the way of what the creators truly want to do. Amy probably never imagined there would be a possibility of life after the revival (or even a revival at all), so in her mind, should we only see this slice of Stars Hollow in this time frame, and nothing more? Are they only in “preliminary talks” with Netflix because it became this huge international phenomenon and they can make a lot of profits from it? Or does ASP actually feel like there’s more story worth telling?

Pro: More Gilmore Guys

I’ve talked about my love for the Gilmore Guys before, and it’s been truly a special journey that we’ve been on together for the past two years. I started listening around the spring of 2015, when they interviewed Scott Patterson for the first time. Then, the conceit was just one longtime fan and one new fan comically talking about a show I loved in a way I had never heard before. Then they started interviewing more cast members, they went to the same ATX TV Festival we did for the GG reunion, then all hell broke loose when the official revival was announced, and the podcast turned into something greater than they ever would have thought. Even though co-hosts Kevin and Demi are done with covering GG and AYITL and have moved on to Bunhead Bros, it would be nice to hear them talking about GG once again. And so they can finally get Lauren, Alexis and ASP on the show.

Con: Perpetuating revival/reboot culture

It seems like every week, a network is announcing the comeback of some show that was popular or mildly popular 10+ years ago. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, L.A. Law, Charmed, Will & Grace. All these shows are coming back to TV, but can they ever recapture the same magic from their original run? It seems more often than not, the answer is no.

Now actors and producers of shows know that just because a series ends, it doesn’t mean it’s the end the end. I feel like in some cases that possibility of coming back even effects the way creators write series finales, letting the chance of something in the future determine that final chapter. It’s the same idea of setting up a huge cliffhanger at the end of a season if you don’t know if you’re going to be renewed or not. You throw all your eggs into one basket, and hope for the best that you’ll be back after summer hiatus to finish telling the story.

In my opinion, this shouldn’t be the case. Creators should tell the story exactly how the want to tell it, from beginning to end. There has to be a legitimate reason for a show to come back, otherwise you’re just doing fan service. Gilmore Girls’ reason was the ASP & Dan weren’t able to creatively end the show the way they wanted it to. AYITL gave them that chance. On the flip side, Will & Grace ended with a satisfying series finale (that flashed forward into the future), with all its creators and stars in place. Did I love Will & Grace and think it was important to society as a whole? Yes. Do we need more episodes? No. I got closure with the series finale. Anything more is just being selfish. Will I watch it? Probably.

Pro: It can answer a lot of questions from the revival

Who wrote the letter to Emily? Why wasn’t there more Miss Patty? What is Zack’s job? Does Jess actually have lingering feelings for Rory? Does Rory tell Logan he’s the father (we’re assuming)? Does Logan leave Anabelle because of his impending fatherhood? Is the surrogate/baby thing a case closed situation between Lorelai and Luke? Does Michel stay at the Dragonfly when it moves to the convent? Will Sookie work at the Dragonfly again? Why show Mr. Kim? Does Rory continue working at the Stars Hollow Gazette? Is she even making money from the Stars Hollow Gazette? What happened to her “Gilmore Girls” book? Did Lorelai end up reading it and liking it? Is Emily really living her best life? Is Berta still with her? What’s the deal with her gentleman caller Jack? Are Liz and TJ ever going to get out of the vegetable cult? What is Brian doing with his life? Do Paris and Doyle finalize their divorce or reconcile? Is Petal OK? Is Paul OK?

Con: Logistically and Realistically it’s no good

So let’s break it down, Gillies. If Netflix is in prelim talks with ASP and Dan, those talks can last months. Then there’s the contract negotiations with the cast. And more importantly, the Palladinos have to come up with a legit story outline. They had a decade to flesh out ideas for the revival and had so many that they had to cut out a lot of storylines. Knowing what I know of these two, they’re perfectionists who won’t compromise their storytelling for time. These things don’t happen overnight. Let’s say at the earliest, my best guess is the show wouldn’t even premiere until 2019. If they pick up in real time, that means Rory’s kid would be three (if she keeps the baby), and Lor & Luke would be a few years into their marriage – we wouldn’t organically see preggo Rory or Lor & Luke’s town wedding. I’m guessing that’s what a lot of fans would want to see (yes, including me).

Another big hurdle is that the Palladinos already have a show in production, Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which premieres on March 17th. Like all Amazon shows, fans ultimately determine whether or not the pilot gets picked up to series, so while we don’t know the fate of it just yet, I have a hunch ASP & Dan are going to be busy for a while. They’d be bonkers to take on two projects at once. But yet, anything could happen.

Bottom Line:

I’m in the minority of fans who don’t need more Gilmore Girls episodes, because on my own list, the cons outweigh the pros. I said this in our AYITL wrap up, the four episodes we were blessed with in November were the final chapter in the book Amy never got to finish writing themselves. Her story, the one she never thought she’d get to end the way she wanted, is complete. Anything made after this is the sequel that will always be contended and compared to the original. Did we need a second installment of Grease? No. Because ASP was able to show fans her own ending, it was enough to make me feel closure with the story as a whole, and satisfied with saying goodbye to the Gilmores once and for all. That being said, did I watch Grease 2? Of course. That Michelle Pfeiffer is a gem.

What do you think, Gillies? Do you want more eps?

Things We Need To Revisit From The 2017 Academy Awards

The other day I read a think-piece about how the twist ending of this year’s Oscars – as well as the reversals of fortune at the 2017 Super Bowl and the 2016 Presidential Election – means that there’s a glitch in the matrix: that we’re living in a simulated universe and either something broke, or someone’s messing with us.

For the 2017 Academy Awards ceremony to be dull and unremarkable for over 3 hours, only to get so wacky in the last 5 minutes that it inspired stoner philosophy in the New Yorker: that’s a feat. We already discussed our Best Dressed picks, so let’s revisit a few other happenings of the oddest awards night in recent memory.

The Opening Number and Monologue

Maybe it’s because I grew up on Billy Crystal’s annual parody numbers, but wow, was this year’s opening uninspired. Of course I love Justin Timberlake, but I prefer an opening number that actually remarks on the year’s nominees (yeah, I know the song was nominated, but am I crazy to want a La La Land reference when there’s an actual MUSICAL up for Best Picture? Something with the fantastic ladies from Hidden Figures? The nice aliens from Arrival?).

The monologue wasn’t quite as sharp or well-paced as I’ve come to expect. There were some good ones in there, though (“black people saved NASA and white people saved Jazz”) and some standard ones (the jokes about how young Damien Chazelle is seemed to be cribbed from Good Will Hunting-era Ben and Matt jokes), and a few that were just bad (on the biggest night of someone’s professional career, I’ve always found jokes about how nobody saw a movie or knows who someone is to be ill-conceived). I do like Jimmy Kimmel, but I don’t think he was the best fit for the Oscars host; I think he was the guy from ABC.

The Matt Damon Jokes

Who counted the Jimmy Kimmel/Matt Damon rivalry jokes last night? It’s a running gag you’d come to expect if you watch Kimmel, but if you don’t it probably just felt a little overdone.

The Bit With The Tourists, Which I Hated

As you already know by now, there was a really protracted bit where a group of tourists were told they were going to see an exhibit of Oscar gowns, only to walk into the auditorium full of celebrities. It was terrible for so many reasons:

  • It took forever. Legit, 7 minutes. Whenever the Oscars is packed with dumb bits, I always think of how annoyed I’m going to be when it’s 11:30 PM EST and top winners are being rushed off stage after 30 seconds, or 12:05 AM EST when I’m still awake.
  • The cell phones. I hate when baby boomers complain about kids these days always on their phones, but damn, could those baby boomers get off their phones?! It reminds me of when I was sitting at my niece and nephew’s Christmas pageant and couldn’t see a thing because everyone in front of me was watching it with their tiny phone screens poised in the air.
  • Something about the Normals mixing with the Pristine Fancy People just felt gross.
  • No really, put down your phone, Gary.
  • Is it just me, or does walking off a bus in tourist clothes onto national television and a room full of celebrities sound like a weird, bad nightmare? My only consolation is that everyone was calm enough that it was probably fake.
  • Yeah, Jimmy. Not everyone’s named something like Jimmy. That’s not even a good joke.
  • In general, I hate the idea of manufacturing Magic Moments – it’s the same feeling I get when I look at someone’s carefully curated Pinterest wedding. At some point you just have to let things play out normally and appreciate that magic can’t be planned. Case in point: this bit with the tourists was boring and long and bad, but the most fascinating part of the night – the glitch in the matrix at the end – was completely unexpected.
Saint Brie Of The Pursed Lips

We’ve come to realize that every Oscars night will involve us discussing how Brie Larson is a good person. She really seems like a genuinely down-to-earth, caring human even when the cameras aren’t on (for instance: hugging each and every ones of the assault survivors who appeared with Lady Gaga during the 2016 Oscars – during a commercial break, not on live TV). It is because Brie has become an advocate for survivors of sexual abuse that it was so horrifying that this awards season kept seeing her paired up with accused sexual harasser Casey Affleck. As at the Golden Globes, Brie handed off Affleck’s award with a pursed-lip smile and all the polite iciness of a well-bred Southern hostess.

Yes, Brie handed off the Oscar with a quick hug and congratulations, but she wasn’t going to clap about it. And it was that tiny gesture – not clapping – that put the next-day headline focus on the accusations against Affleck instead of his win.

I will say that I’m happy for Casey’s Manchester By The Sea costar Michelle Williams, who looked happy, and for his brother Ben, who I am willing to believe has given him a stern talking-to.

VIOLA!

There are some actors and actresses whom it feels like a privilege to live in the same time as. Viola Davis is one. After her much-deserved nominations for The Help and Doubt, it’s a joy to see her win her first Oscar – and I say first because I’m certain there will be more.

The Ladies Of The Help

I don’t know what it is, but occasionally the cast of a movie coalesces in such a way that you know filming it must have been (to use the oft-repeated junket cliche) like summer camp. Maybe because of its location shoot, that’s how The Help is. The actresses really seem to have become like a family on-set and remained friends years later. Oh, plus they’re all absolutely crushing it. To see Emma Stone, Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer all involved in nominated pictures is an absolute delight.

MAHERSHALA!

It seems that every awards season has its darling (Jennifer Lawrence; Lupita Nyong’o, e.g.) and this year it was the talented, intelligent, really really handsome Mahershala Ali. It’s no secret that we were pulling for him, and we promise it wasn’t JUST because we like his speeches (the man does give a good speech though).

The Children of Moonlight

The actors behind the youngest versions of Chiron and Kevin, Alex Hibbert and Jaden Piner, are two talented seventh graders from the same Miami school. They were selected to audition and didn’t even know it was a big project – and now they’re part of a Best Picture winner. It’s the fantasy I always had as an inner-city kid, and the fact that it came true for these two amazing boys is phenomenal.  Alex and Jaden are kids, but they’re also old enough to grasp that the Oscars are a big deal and it seems that they were taking in every minute of it. All love and all pride.

La La Land Wins?

La La Land was good. It wasn’t my favorite — some of the Hollywood Is In Love With Itself vibe is only interesting if you are actually from there, I think, kind of like looking at some other family’s photo albums — but it was good. A modern musical is a fresh and innovative idea, it was beautifully executed (the color palate alone!), and for the first time in a long time, there was a really well-made film that was trying to be charming.  If movies like La La Land come into fashion I won’t be upset. Still, my gut said that Moonlight was going to win: if I felt that it was more deserving, certainly a number of voters had the same opinion.

When La La Land was announced as the winner I was disappointed, but didn’t feel like Moonlight got robbed, exactly. I understood why La La Land could have won, it was the expected winner, and as I said, it was good. I saw a photo album page I recognized in Moonlight (as I said, I grew up in the inner city with drug houses next door and across the street; Moonlight is the first and only time I have ever seen a neighborhood like that depicted with complexity and humanity. It meant a lot). Voters, I figured, saw a photo album page they recognized in La La Land. Fine.

But wait. The signs were there from the beginning. I interpreted Warren Beatty’s drawn-out announcement as an aging actor trying to be funny, but it was actually a pause to figure out what was going on. Faye Dunaway thought that Warren was allowing her to read the winner, when he was really signaling her in a “do you see what I’m seeing” way. Producers rushed on – well, maybe not rushed; they could have hustled a little bit more if you ask me. They reportedly realized there was a problem immediately but took minutes to get to the stage. Shock can cause delay, though. I was actually more surprised by the producer who (evidently) already had been told that they lost, delivered his speech anyway, then interjected “we lost, by the way.”

God bless Jordan Horowitz for clearing it up with”I’m sorry. There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you guys won Best Picture”, though at first I thought he was trying to say that Moonlight DESERVED best picture.  Nobody else on stage – not the producer who accepted before him, not the host, not the presenter, not the producers – had stepped in by that point, so I appreciate his quick thinking and decisiveness. Then there was some painfully bad on-stage vamping (KIMMEL. Telling them they should keep it isn’t the way to go; and it wasn’t “nice of them,” the other guys won it), and Warren tried to clear his name (redemption would come later, when it became clear that  he was handed the wrong envelope). A visibly stunned Moonlight cast took the stage. It was baffling.

Moonlight Wins!

Moonlight was my personal pick for best picture. It was so beautiful at times that I wanted to cry not because it was sad, but because it was true. I think my soul broke open in the final scene and not in a bad way. Moonlight is the first Best Picture winner with an all-black cast AND the first LGBT winner as well. It deconstructs masculinity, particularly black masculinity, in a thought-provoking and profoundly touching way.  However, Moonlight was also so beautifully written, filmed and acted that it deserved to win on its merits as a film, not because it was ground-breaking. It’s one of those movies where you can’t really explain why people need to see it, just that they need to.