Pop Culture Blind Spot: Hello Dolly

Welcome back to Pop Culture Blind Spot, where we examine beloved films and tv shows that we definitely should have seen by now. Up today: Hello Dolly, a movie musical totally missed by this person who loves movie musicals.

What I think I know about Hello Dolly: It’s from the 1950s but set in that time all mid-century musicals were – approximately 1908, or whenever Main Street Disney is supposed to be. It’s about Barbra Streisand… doing vaudeville, maybe. The only thing I know is the song Hello Dolly, and by that I mean the part of the song where they say Hello Dolly, well hello Dolly.

Let’s see how wrong I am!

Right out the gate, this was made in 1969, making me nearly twenty years off in release date. I guess I should have been tipped off by the fact that Babs would have been a child in the ’50s.

But it IS from the era I was thinking of-ish: New York City, 1890! I’m already into it by the Ken Burns-y fade-in they do from a still photo of a 1908 street scene to live motion.

The continued opening shots showing people’s feet as they skip, hopscotch and trip-trap about are fantastic. This leads me to look up who directed this… Gene Kelly?!? WOAH. I had no idea he directed, too. Talk about a quintuple threat.

Premise: Dolly Levi (Barba Streisand) is a matchmaker with great hats.

Ambrose (Tommy Tune), doing a nerd voice, wants to marry scroogey rich Horace Vandergelder’s niece Ermengarde. I assume Ermengarde was meant as a nerd name even in the 60s. Ermengarde has a great fuchsia hairbow and a nice complexion.

 

Horace: You are a seven-foot-tall nincompoop!

Ambrose: That’s an insult!

Horace: All the facts about you are insults!

Horace, re: his clerk Cornelius’s announcement that he’s 28 and 3/4 years old: “That’s a foolish age to be at. I thought you were 40.”

Horace (Walter Matthau!) ‘s plan is to get married.  He illustrates that through a cringey song about how it “takes a woman” to do thinks like dump ashes. He describes women as both “fragile” and “frail” but also capable of doing the garbage work he doesn’t want to do like “clean out the drain in the sink”,”washing and bluing and shoeing the mare” and “cleaning the stable.”

Okay, here’s what Horace is. He is to husbands as Marilla Cuthbert is to mothers: he’s more or less trying to buy another human for chores. It sounds like what Horace needs is a maid or a handyman. I assume that in 1969, as in 2017, this song read as a joke about how horrible Horace, the two male clerks and the chorus of singing men behind him are. Men in general I guess.

The scene with Barbra Streisand reading Horace’s palm turned me into a Barbra Streisand fan.

Apparently the frail sturdy chorewoman Horace has in mind is Irene in New York. Dolly sing-explains that SHE wants to be Horace’s wife-maid-stableboy.

Barnaby and Cornelius, the nerdy clerks, are going to New York and aren’t coming back until “they’ve each kissed a girl.” Barnaby is 19 and a half to Cornelius’s 28 and 3/4 so “for me it’s not so urgent.” I should probably mention that they’re in Yonkers, which I guess looked like the Old West in 1890, so it’s not much of a commute. Dolly sends them off to meet that hussy Irene and her shopgirl. I see what you’re doing, Doll.

About to close down the saloon early. Or feed shop. Grainery? General store.

Put On Your Sunday Clothes is the best number so far. “Put on your Sunday clothes when you feel down and out,” sing a bunch of Newsies from a time when ‘Sunday clothes’ meant anything. Ladies dance with parasols, a film industry requirement for all technicolor musicals made before 1970. A family in all white emerges from a Queen Anne-style house and for a second it’s like we’re in a Ragtime crossover. The ladies do a tiptoe move with their bustles that’s the late Victorian precursor to twerking. People talk-sing and you can show that to any old folks incredulous about modern rap musicals. Everyone departs on a train, another one of those midcentury musical requirements.

Parasols. Newsies. Bustles. Trains. Yep, all accounted for.

We meet Irene and her galpal Minnie mid-scene with some quality chuffa:

Minnie: A banana a day keeps the doctor away.

Irene: You mean an apple a day.

Minnie:Who ever heard of a doctor slipping on an apple peel?

Established: shopgirl Minnie is an idiot and Irene’s used to it.

 

Irene Molloy (Marianne McAndrew) would be played by Kristen Wiig if this was made now.

Irene is so much cooler and smoother and better-looking than Cornelius and Barnaby, who is so dense he introduces himself as a hat, plus her shop is unnecessarily large and decorated in sophisticated grays. Minnie Fay is right about on the guys’ level though.

Expensive.

“Forgive me for saying this, but you should see Yonkers.” NEVER.

Everybody is doing that annoying trick where they mention the other person’s significant other to see if they have one. I always secretly like when guys do that, though, because it saves me the trouble about lying about a boyfriend to get them to stop talking.

Horace shows up at the shop to mack on Irene. Dolly shows up in her flashiest purple dress in Old New York and tries to act unassuming. Sorry. Make that the flashiest purple dress in the world. It’s what Prince would have worn if he was a woman in 1890.

Horace is shocked that Cornelius comes into New York City. Again, from Yonkers. In 1890, when there were trains. Dolly talks Cornelius up,  and it’s funny (” Who took the horses out of Jenny Lind’s carriage and pulled her through the streets?”).

Does this take place in one day? Also is there a term for musicals that take place in one day, because it seems like there should be?

Horace is going to march in a parade with “the kind of people I can trust – 700 men.” I remain confused as to why he doesn’t just hire a chore boy.

Barnaby is the Niall Horan of this musical: affable, charming, boyish and underrated.

While searching for images of Danny Lockin I found this FASCINATING info about what happened to him after Hello Dolly – pic links to article. Woah.

Anyway, right?

Not to make too much of Irene’s giant hat shop but it’s so big you can swing a lady in a hoop skirt without hitting anything. Which they do. If I had that kind of hat shop money I’d never get married.

Dolly has so much purple, including a little purse and a feather boa and a giant hat, that she’s like a purple muppet. She has some LONG acrylics as well, just like the Victorians did. They are her “getting back in the dating game” nails. She’s widowed.

I thought Horace was talking about a metaphorical parade, but there’s actually a giant parade. Once again, it looks like Main Street Disney. Women are there too, including some suffragettes (another requirement of technicolor musicals) but Horace goes anyway. Babs sings about parades, which is one of her specialties.

Along with Niall Horan, Barnaby also has some Mark Hamill vibes.

Niall, Cornelius, Irene and Dumb Minnie sing about how elegant they are, a thing I think you’ll notice elegant people never do. Like how smart people don’t talk about being smart. They make a fun friend group and I would 100% watch a spinoff movie of Minnie, Mark Hamill and Cornelius bumbling about and Irene having to be the only adult in the situation.

Image links to cute Hello Dolly post.

Here’s what I appreciate about the costuming here: everyone is head-to-toe color coordinated like a 1980s bridesmaid. Dress, cape, hat, shoes all dyed to the exact same color. Babs changes into what I guess is the most uncomfy loungewear invented, a lacy tan corset top with a lacy tan jacket over it with some giant sleeves. It’s kinda Stevie Nicks-esque and I’m obsessed. Her hair is a smooth orange dome with a ponytail at the end. This is her casual hairstyle.

Best I could do

Don’t worry, there are dancing waiters in red tailcoats.

I wonder if Mock Turtle Soup struck people as funny in 1969 too, but I bet it did. Just the idea that turtle soup was so in demand but so rare that people had to fake it.

“If I tell you the truth, would you let me put my arm around your waist?” Weird bargain but OK.

“I’ve never touched a woman before.” YOU DON’T SAY, CORNELIUS.

Don’t Barnaby and Cornelius sound like what a hipster couple would name their sons?

Dolly is BACK wearing a very gold beaded dress and a feather headpiece, which is what prompts everyone to sing Hello Dolly.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG IS IN THIS. I know everyone else probably knows that but I didn’t. He’s absurdly charismatic.

I kind of feel like the first hour, hour fifteen were jam-packed and then we’ve been marking time in this restaurant ever since.

There is a whole turkey on Dolly and Horace’s two-top table. Is this how rich people eat?

Cornelius dances with a fan like an idiot. On one hand, Irene can do better. On the other, they’re both having fun and he doesn’t take himself too seriously like ol’ Horace.

Horace almost fires Cornelius and Barnaby for being in New York even though I’m fairly certain he doesn’t own them like he will the chore-wife he wants to buy.

Falling in love “only takes a moment” but the song about it lasts seven.

Back in Yonkers, Barnes and Cornes quit. Cornelius is becoming a new Horace, and Barnaby is becoming the new Cornelius. Dolly and Horace are getting married. ALL the people you thought would get married in the first ten minutes will get married, but my, wasn’t it a fun journey to get there?

I just wish these men would stop singing about how it takes a ‘fragile’ woman to do chores, is all.

Bottom line: I see what the fuss was about – not so much the songs themselves (not too many showstoppers) but the character of Dolly Levi and Barbra Streisand’s performance, plus the supporting cast and throwback sets and costumes. This was delightful and a break from real life, just like a musical should be.

 

 

 

Handsome Men In Pastels And Florals: An Appreciation Post

Spring is in the air! Passover and Easter are here, tulips are popping up, days are getting longer, and it’s the perfect time to bust out some pastels or floral prints in your wardrobe. While I like lighter colors and flower patterns myself, there’s nothing better than a man confident and exuberant enough to wear FUN clothes (and while I’d argue that fun clothes shouldn’t require confidence, the Standard Man’s Wardrobe is admittedly pretty staid – and if that’s what you prefer, you do you). With trendsetters looking this fresh and sunny, though, maybe the general populace isn’t far behind!

Tinie Tempeh

This Gucci cotton crepe blazer is screen-printed with a gorgeous chinoiserie pattern, given a bit of edge with the gold chain and bare chest. Is he at a tea party? I love everything about this.

Taking it back to 2014, Tinie Tempah is at it AGAIN in Casely-Hayford, ankle pants and plain white tennis shoes. The man knows he looks good in a floral print.

Let’s be real. I’m presenting these gents in no particular order, but Tinie Tempeh’s at the top of the list because he’s the king of the floral blazer in my book. This Louis Vuitton brocade tux jacket fits like a dream and looks like one too.

Rami Malek

Rami is one of our blog favorites, and part of that’s because he’s such a consistently well-dressed man. It comes as no surprise, then, that he’s one of our repeat floral enthusiasts. This bright blue suit worn for his Time Off shoot makes his eyes stand out even more than they already do.

Listen. There is a middle ground for the man who likes the idea of florals but doesn’t feel comfortable in a brocade or chintz look, and that middle ground is the Hawaiian-style shirt. It’s summery, bright, and fun, but has been part of the menswear establishment for decades. Rami knows. This one’s by Sandro and has a gorgeous sheen in higher-res images.

Then there’s this alternative to the floral blazer or tuxedo jacket: a solid-color suit with a flower-print shirt underneath. And a polka-dotted pocket square for whimsy.

Jared Leto

Jared Leto made waves at the 2015 Oscars in the Givenchy tuxedo that’s somewhere between lavender and periwinkle. He even accessorized: that’s not a boutonniere, it’s a pink floral Fred Leighton brooch.

You know what? The long double-breasted coat feels costume-y to me, and I’m not feeling the slouchy socks, but that’s OKAY. The fact that Jared went for it in this very Lilly Pullitzer color-combo (in Gucci, no less) is great.

A$ap Rocky

One of the most common men’s floral staples the past few years has been the printed bomber jacket. In 2013, A$ap Rocky was years ahead of the fashion curve in this Balenciaga jacket and matching shirt.

Here’s a new one for our list: floral jeans that manage to look beautiful and not at all like my embroidered floral jeans from the Limited Too circa 1999. That’s probably because these are Gucci. And PAINTED. Love love love.

Bruno Mars

No apologies here: I still love Uptown Funk and I think the video was an instant classic, due in large part to the retro throwback looks — especially Bruno’s fantastic pink jacket.

And then there’s Bruno in last year’s Jane The Virgin finale, all flowy and flowery.

Nick Cannon

I’m no Nick Cannon stan, but I’d be remiss to leave off this dapper three-piece that’s like a cartoon version of an Edwardian man on Easter, which to be clear, is a compliment.

Harry Styles

Open strong, close strong: if Tinie Tempeh is a king of floral jackets, Harry is the Emperor Of The Full Floral Suit. Here he is in Gucci, 2015, keeping it December-appropriate in a cheerful red.

This Gucci suit Harry wore to the 2015 AMAs made my jaw drop in a good way. And since I’ve come to expect him to wear prints that are a bit extra, the part that surprised me was that he managed to make a flared leg look current. What can I say, I came of age in the early 2000s.

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It’s like a rockstar Minnie Mouse, which I’m good with and you should be too.

One more before we go: floral Gucci pants. These are Good Pants. And what’s that I see? Niall’s little yellow head, with a floral patch on his elbows? Harry’s enthusiasm for flower prints is downright infectious.

 

One thing I noticed when brainstorming this list was that most well-dressed men either wear florals and pastels regularly, or not at all. With the exception of the stray pink or light blue button-up or t-shirt, which barely counts IMO, it seems like these springy styles just aren’t a part of most mens’ day-to-day fashion lineup. But who knows? Maybe all fashionable gents are just one well-made pastel tuxedo jacket from entering the light side.

 

Rex Manning Day, Mean Girls Day and More: Essential Pop Culture Holidays

In The Great Gatsby, Daisy always watched for the longest day of the year and then missed it. In the age of tumblr, I always watch for Saturday Detention Day, AKA Breakfast Club Day, and then miss it. I kind of understand how Daisy must feel. In the interest of never missing another movie or TV holiday, we’re compiling them here. Did we miss any? Let us know before we’re late to yet another Aaron Samuels Day.

Galentines Day

Date: February 13
TV Show: Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015)
Reasoning:

Leap Day

Date: February 29, every 4 years
TV Show: 30 Rock
Reasoning: 30 Rock didn’t invent Leap Day, but it did invent Leap Day William, the heart and soul of the holiday

The Day Of The Dude

Date: March 8
Movie: The Big Lebowski (1998)
Reasoning: Anniversary of the Big Lebowski’s Release

Breakfast Club Day AKA Saturday Detention Day

Date: March 24
Movie: The Breakfast Club (1984)
Reasoning:

Winston Smith Day AKA 1984 Day

Date: April 4
Book: 1984, by George Orwell (1949)
Reasoning: The day Winston Smith began his diary.

Rex Manning Day

Date: April 8
Movie: Empire Records (1995)
Reasoning:

The Perfect Date

Date: April 25th
Movie: Miss Congeniality
Reasoning:

N Sync Day

Date: April 30
Song: It’s Gonna Be Me
Reasoning:

The Battle of Hogwarts

Date: May 2
Book and Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Reasoning: Confirmed by J.K. Rowling, who said that Victoire Weasley was born on the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts, May 2. The year was 1998:

Star Wars Day

Date: May 4
Movies: Many
Reasoning:

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Date: June 5
Movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
 Reasoning: It’s iffy. That’s the day the audio from the Chicago Bears game they attended came from, but there may have been a few months left in the schoolyear. Also, that parade would have been in the fall. Let’s say that any day you play hooky can be Ferris Bueller Day in your heart.

Best Friends Day

Date: June 8
TV Show: Spongebob Squarepants
Reasoning: There’s no date given for Best Friends Day in the episode where Spongebob and Patrick celebrate it, so it’s usually celebrated on the Facebook-ish holiday of Best Friends Day, June 8

Bloomsday

Date: June 16
Book: Ulysses, by James Joyce (1922)
Reasoning: The events of Ulysses (main character Leopold Bloom) take place on June 16, 1904

Harry Potter’s Birthday

Date: July 31
Books/Movies: The Harry Potter series
Reasoning: Not only is this the date Harry was born in 1980, it’s when JK Rowling was born in 1965. And of course, Neville Longbottom was born the day before Harry if you want to turn it into a two-day event.

Roald Dahl Day

Date: September 13
Books: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, and many, many more
Reasoning: Roald Dahl was born on this day in 1916. Last year we celebrated with a whole week dedicated to Matilda.

Mean Girls Day AKA Aaron Samuels Day

Date: October 3
Movie: Mean Girls (2004)
Reasoning:

Treat Yo Self Day

Date: October 13
TV Show: Parks and Recreation (2009 – 2015)
Reasoning: The ‘treat yo self’ episode aired on this date in 2011

Abed’s Rudolph Day

Date: December 9
TV Show: Community (2009 – 2015)
Reasoning: In the classic 2010 claymation episode Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas, this is the day Abed always watches Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer with his mom. 

Refrigerator Day

Date: December 11
TV Show: Dinosaurs (1991)
Reasoning: The date this classic episode about Refrigerator Day aired:

 

Festivus

Date: December 23
TV Show: Seinfeld  (1989 – 1998)
Reasoning: The day the holiday ‘for the rest of us’ is celebrated with the feats of strength, airing of grievances and Festivus pole.

 

Sister Act 2 Is Our Aesthetic

Sister Act 2 is the closest thing I’ll get to a time machine to my childhood. I’m definitely not from San Francisco, but I grew up going to Catholic schools and living in the “inner city” in the 1990s — so, pretty damn close. It’s also pure proof that the ’90s fashion revival is warranted. Those fashionable teens are still cooler than me at 30, just like they were in 1993 when I was 7. Our previous aesthetic posts include The Holiday (winter), Matilda (Back To School) and The Witches (Halloween). It’s been a while, so let’s get back in the habit (SORRY).

Lauryn Hill At Full Lauryn Hill

Just had to discuss this right out the gate. Lauryn Hill will always be the ultimate teen vocal/rap/songwriter sensation, even though she’s a grandma now (yeah. I feel old too. Remember To Zion? He’s a dad!). Sister Act 2 marks the musical moment when His Eye Is On The Sparrow entered all our favorite hymn lists. Sister Mary Round-Brush Bangs is right. Please don’t stop.

Everyone’s Under-Choir Robe Outfits

When the instruction comes to take off the choir robes, my teen reaction would’ve been “oh, no.” That’s because if I was wearing a choir robe, underneath I’d have on either something boring and schlubby, or something that was guaranteed not to peek out from the gown. These kids are in their full 1993 mall-outfit best. The two young ladies at far left ALONE. They look like they crawled off of 2017 tumblr and onto the screen.

 Specifically Lauryn Hill’s Outfit

It’s not so much that it’s classic – those mom jeans would’ve been majorly out of style for a good decade plus – but that this outfit has completely circled back into looking current again.

How The Choir Room Is Some Sort Of Attic

You keep waiting for the scene where they paint it or at least knock down the cobwebs, but nope. It’s always just kind of an attic for some reason. It’s a look.

This Rooftop Situation

It always seemed so cool to have a rooftop at school to hang out in. Not sure why everything at this school is so high up, but not complaining either.

When Ahmal Gets Really Into It In Oh Happy Day

He might be crusty, but Ahmal’s got that joy down in his heart. Did you know that actor Ryan Toby went on to sing in City High, who did that song “What Would You Do” (if your son was at home, crying all alone… yeah, it’s in my head now, too)? It was totally new information to me.

Ahmal’s Cultural Appropriation Speech

Ahmal was the woke one. You can tell because he is wearing the Woke Kid Uniform of 1993 and because he delivers a speech on cultural appropriation, which, yes, was a thing in the ’90s as well.

Can’t you come up with your own thing? Why must you continually come behind my people and steal our expressions? First jazz, then rock n roll, now rap? What’s next?

The Way Fancy Hotels Looked In 1993

We touched on this in our discussion of Curly Sue: fancy looked different in the early 90s. I’d almost say the era was peak fancy. There was a lot of gold plating and dusty pastels. I don’t know. I just love how this was the epitome of a really good hotel in 1993.

Sister Mary Clarence’s Minimalist Nun Cell

In 1993 this was like a prison room to die in; in 2017 it’s a minimalist studio to die for. And in San Francisco? The Catholic Church could only afford it by selling some Vatican artwork.

Richard’s Outfits

I feel like when anyone talks about ‘classic style’ they mean, like, polo shirts or suits, but consider this: this movie turns 24 years old this year (?!) and in any point since it was released, this outfit would’ve looked current.

Bonus: Baby Jennifer Love Hewitt smearing her mascara (?) behind him.

Uniform Adaptations

Never would’ve been allowed in any of my schools, but lots of fun and very reflective of real-life 90s style. Round sunglasses, hat bills flipped up, backwards snapbacks.

The Credit Sequence

So iconic, it was spoofed on Broad City and we all instantly got the reference.

Everything

From my notes during my rewatch: “The best part of Sister Act is the montage where they fix things up. The best part of Sister Act 2 is EVERYTHING.”

Pantone Colors Of The Year, Ranked

All colors are good. But some colors are better than others, and that’s why Pantone selects a Color of the Year. According to Pantone, the Color of the Year is “a symbolic color selection; a color snapshot of what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.” Since the Color of the Year was introduced in 2000, we’ve seen the palate swing wildly from Radiant Orchid to Tangerine Tango, and less wildly from Aqua to Blue Aqua. Do they represent our “global culture?” Maybe not, but it’s always fun to see what they come up with.  Not all symbolic color selections are created equal, so here is our ranking:

This Is A Boring Color
19. Sand Dollar – 2006

 

This color was only called Sand Dollar because Landlord Paint didn’t get past the Pantone Board of Directors.  I’m going to sell my house and someone boring might buy it? Boom. Sand Dollar. Also while sand dollars themselves are pretty, the color of them is just sand. And sand is just ocean dirt.

All Aboard The Arbitrary Dislike Train
18. Marsala – 2015

I arbitrarily dislike deep reds, but above that, I arbitrarily dislike colors that don’t know what they’re trying to be. Brown? Red? Tan? Rust? Mauve. Marsala is all of these and none of these at the same time.

17. Chili Pepper – 2007

If Sand Dollar is Landlord Paint, Chili Pepper is Dining Room Red. I even painted my parents’ dining room this color years ago. It’s perfectly nice, but plays into my arbitrary dislike of deep reds.

These Are The Same Color. Right? Pantone. These Are The Same Color.
14, 15, and 16, Aqua Sky – 2003, Blue Turquoise – 2005, Turquoise – 2010

Anyone who’s been to my house or seen my wardrobe knows that I love me some blues and greens. So does Pantone, or the universal zeitgeist as distilled into a color by Pantone, I guess. If there was just ONE turquoise-y color it might land near the top of my list, but I don’t know how to rank these so they’ll have to rank in the lower-middle. If you forced my hand I’d give the advantage to Blue Turquoise because it reminds me of the color they’d paint a water park in the ’90s …. or today, because every water park somehow lives within a 1993 time warp.

12 and 13, Tigerlily -2004 and Tangerine Tango – 2012

I love the peppy zip these colors bring to the Pantone family! I don’t love how they’re the same color. I’d have liked to see one orange with more pink to it, and one with more yellow, or something. I’m actually surprised that a true coral wasn’t chosen yet, as it’s been the accent color at every outdoor wedding since 2007.

I’m Pretty Sure This Is Cheating
10 and 11, Rose Quartz and Serenity – 2016

In 2016 Pantone really outdid itself by selecting two colors of the year: Rose Quartz and Serenity, better known as pink and blue. Pink and blue don’t really capture the essence of the global consciousness of 2016, although what COULD capture that year – puce? Baby poop green? If they capture the essence of anything, it’s a baby shower. Still, these two values are gorgeous. Serenity has a nice periwinkle hue and rose quartz is gentle but not babyish. But don’t think I didn’t notice that you picked two colors in one year, Pantone.

Lumpy Blue Sweater Color
9. Cerulean – 2000

This color would rank lower but it has the distinction of being the only Color of the Year that is the subject of a Meryl Streep monologue.

“You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.”

Good Pink
8. Honeysuckle – 2011

This is a good shade of pink. While cloying if it’s the wall color for an entire room, it brightens up when paired with bright green or yellow and can look more understated with gray and cream.

‘Pop Of Color In Your Kitchen’ Color
7. True Red – 2002

Option 1: You redid your kitchen, everything’s all gray and subway tile, and you want to add a kitschy, cheerful, 1950s feel. You buy a vintage wall clock and fiestaware in True Red.

6. Greenery – 2017

Option 2: You redid your kitchen, everything’s all gray and subway tile, but you want a pop of color that says that you enjoy the outdoors and love to cook with local, seasonal ingredients. That’s when you add some glassware or a painted island in Greenery. Greenery is fresh, it’s lively, and it works best as an accent color when things are a bit too Home Depot Special.

Better Pink
5. Fuschia Rose – 2001

Fuschia Rose does what Honeysuckle was trying to do, but better. It’s poppy and fun, and it feels very 2001. We had only recently come out of the glittery, pop-infused late 90s and Carrie Bradshaw and all her friends were bringing playful feminine style to the forefront. I appreciate that Fuschia Rose knows what it is and really goes for it, pink-wise.

Normal Blue
4. Blue Iris – 2008

While Blue Iris sounds like a celebrity baby name or an independent film, it’s actually a very nice, normal shade of blue that pairs well with practically everything. Think of blue jeans: wear them with black or pastels or brights, they’ll always look good. Even though some of the punchier colors are fun, Blue Iris is the kind of color you could paint a whole room in or use as an accent throughout your house, and it would still look fine in ten years.

Normal Yellow
3. Mimosa – 2009

Mimosa is the only yellow Pantone has chosen (but sure, y’all needed THREE turquoises), and it’s nice and normal. That might sound like faint praise but it isn’t. It’s hard to find a yellow that’s not too bright or too soup-y. A perfect match for normal blue, normal yellows are optimistic and sunny. (I’m also biased because someone once said I have a great yellow aura. I don’t necessarily believe in that, but also that was years ago and now my aura’s probably … marsala.)

Now That Is A COLOR
2. Radiant Orchid – 2014

This was one of the only Pantone colors that actually surprised me. It’s a vibrant yet relaxing hue that looks amazing with all kinds of decor or style. I love a purple that’s not too grape-y or eggplant-y, but doesn’t delve into Easter Egg territory. I love you, Radiant Orchid.

A Totally Biased Top Pick
1. Emerald – 2013

I’ve always loved a true green. I was one of the only little girls I knew whose favorite color was green, not pink or purple (although I appreciate those too); relatives I seldom see still remember this and buy me things in this color. So this is totally ill-informed and arbitrary, but I loved when Pantone chose Emerald as their color of the year in 2013. Green can be as stately as shutters on an old mansion, or deep and lush like jungle plants, or crisp and classic paired with navy blue. When I studied abroad  I used to walk past a boutique with a storefront ‘living room’ painted in emerald green and swear I’d paint a room that color one day. I still haven’t done it, but that’s what is so great about colors. They tap into feelings and memories and, sure, Pantone, “what we see taking place in our global culture that serves as an expression of a mood and an attitude.”

 

20 Things I’ll Never Forget About Trading Spaces

Trading Spaces was a TLC decorating show that premiered in 2000 and ushered in the next 17 years of home and garden television, and if you’re an adult of a certain age there are probably some parts of the show that are branded onto your memory. That’s why when I heard that TLC is reviving Trading Spaces for its 2017-2018 season, I was that special mix of excited and dismayed that you get when one of your former favorite shows gets a reboot.

I haven’t seen an episode since the Trading Spaces was cancelled in 2008 — more accurately, since I graduated high school in 2004 — but somehow I remember those afterschool Trading Spaces episodes better than anything I learned sophomore year. The premise of Trading Spaces – neighbors and friends pair up with a designer to redo a room in each other’s houses in 24 hours, usually with a terrible design scheme and poor execution, because you need more than 24 hours to redo a room – was so high on drama that I can’t believe I didn’t realize it was straight-up reality TV more than it was a decorating show. Of course, the rooms were all VERY early 2000s, like the decorating version of empire waist tops, chunky highlights and flared jeans. In no particular order, these are the Trading Spaces quirks, designs, characters and moments that are still taking up my brain space in 2017:

Frank’s designs were always kind of barnyard-y. That country cute style (ahem… country geese!) had mostly gone out of fashion by the early 2000s, but Frank was always there with the stencils and gingham anyway.

Vern was very minimalist and if he was doing your house, you would probably get something kind of normal and livable.

Hildi knew what this was: reality TV. You can tell because she did things like glued straw to the walls of a house with children living in it and suspended furniture from the ceiling. This is extra silly when you remember that most of these homes were suburban tract houses that were otherwise pretty Pottery Barn-normal. At the time I thought she was nutso but now I think she was a crazy genius.

Doug did things people would hate, on purpose, just because they would hate it. I might love him for that.

Gen always painted barefoot.

When Paige Davis got married, her husband’s surname was Page.

Also her first name isn’t Paige, it’s Mindy. And her hair was SO FLICKY.

Every time a homeowner told a designer not to touch something – be it a fireplace or an antique credenza or a mural – the designers were contractually obligated to mess with it. Probably.

You know what got the biggest excited reaction from homeowners? Every time? When a designer would take their photos and blow them up and hang them on the walls. Things like Shutterfly and Flickr did exist, and you could even get your Kodak prints blown up at Wal-Mart during this era, but I guess it was big news to Trading Spaces homeowners. Last weekend I was at my brother’s neighbor’s house – a McMansion-y suburban cul-de-sac – and one whole wall was giant blown-up canvases of the family. I blame Trading Spaces.

Trading Spaces is also responsible for a lot of early 2000s dining rooms that were painted dark brown, which they told us was chocolate-y.

This lady’s really averse reaction to one of the least-bad rooms I remember seeing:

Theme rooms were so theme-y that they were the interior design equivalent of a Claudia Kishi outfit. If there was a desert theme, your floor was sand. Or if there was a dessert theme, your floor was hot fudge.

The theme rooms were also usually really really tenuously connected to an interest the family had. If a couple went to a Sandals resort in the Caribbean for their honeymoon, the room would be decorated as a giant papaya. That sort of thing.

It was that era when televisions couldn’t just be out in the open, so usually Ty or Amy Wynn (Remember Ty Pennington and Amy Wynn Pastor? If you’re reading this, of course you do) would have to build a giant armoire or false wall or something for it.

In a very 2000s crossover, Natalie of the Dixie Chicks participated. So did the Camden sisters (Jessica Biel and Beverley Mitchell) of Seventh Heaven fame.

They definitely designed a kitchen to look like a horror movie crime scene. Unlike the other list items, I had to look that one up for confirmation because it seemed too outlandish. Yup. Hildi.

Laurie painted everything yellow and had Grace Adler hair. Her rooms were normal.

They said you can spray paint upholstered furniture. To rip off Sondheim, can is different than should.

On day one, they’d get maybe 5% of the work done, then when the designer left they’d give the homeowners their “homework.” The homework was usually along the lines of “paint the entire room and all of the furniture.”

Trading Spaces is what taught a lot of us that you could tape off sections of wall to paint stripes, and I think that as a people, we got a little carried away with that idea for a while.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.