11 Things I Never Noticed About My Best Friend’s Wedding

“We’ve known each other for what, 20 years? That’s a long time.” Yes, Julianne. It is.

Does a big anniversary of major pop culture moments in your life ever make you think about your own mortality? No? Just me? CAN YOU BELIEVE IT’S BEEN 20 YEARS SINCE ICONIC ROMANTIC COMEDY MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING WAS RELEASED? I totally can. Because I am young and youthful and have so much life to look forward to.

I was 11 when this movie came out. Fifth grade was coming to a close and I was about to move on up to middle school. Helping me through that process was Julia Roberts and the cast of My Best Friend’s Wedding. I remember seeing Julia, Dermot Mulroney, Rupert Everett and Cameron Diaz on Rosie’s My Best Friend’s Wedding Day-themed show (as you’ll recall, Molly & I were both big Rosie nerds), and thought that they all looked like they were genuinely friends and there was singing in it, so obviously I would love it. I eventually watched it and fell in love. By the time I got the VHS tape, I played it on repeat. So much so that I’m surprised it still works. Yes, I still have a VHS player. Yes, it ate the tape when I tried to put it in. Yes, I spent 15 minutes trying to fix a VHS player in 2017.

This was just the beginning of my Julia Roberts phase. Next year we can talk about Notting Hill. Anyways, I loved this movie so much, but TBH it’s been years since I’ve seen the film in its entirety. Would it hold up watching as an adult? Would I find it as endearing? Would some jokes finally make sense to me? I got down to the bottom of all my questions and finally got my VHS player to work. Here’s what I learned about My Best Friend’s Wedding, two decades later.

The Foreshadowing

Honestly never realized that this opening sequence is basically what it looks like inside Jules’ brain. I guess I just thought it was a fun wedding-themed song???

You won’t get him Thinkin’ and a-prayin’ Wishin’ and hopin’…
Plannin’ and dreamin’ his kiss is the start
That won’t get you into his heart

So if you’re thinkin’ how great true love is All you gotta do is
Hold him and kiss him and squeeze him and love him
Yeah, just do it and after you do, you will be his

Marriage Goals Were Different in the ’90s

Julianne (Julia) is 28 (turning 28 in three weeks when the movie starts), which means she and Michael made the pact to marry each other if they’re still single when they’re 22. I don’t know about you, but when I was feeling 22, I wasn’t making any wedding pacts, and at 28, I sure as hell wasn’t wishin’ & hopin’ that I was engaged and heading down the aisle. But hey, that’s just me.

“Angelique broke her pelvis line dancing in Abeline during spring break.” Kimmy, who is still going on spring break.

Speaking of which, Kimmy (Cameron Diaz) is 20. She’s a junior at the University of Chicago. She orders an Amstel Light at the karaoke bar but isn’t even old enough to drink. She seemed so old and put together when I watched this as a burgeoning 6th grader. At 20, I was galavanting around Europe looking for the best place in Amsterdam to have weed. Get weed? Smoke weed. Actually, eat weed.

Gypsy Traded in Cars For Dresses

The movie came out a few years before Gilmore Girls even started, so it never occurred to me that Rose Abdoo was even in this movie! But now, it’s obvious that it’s her – could it be the similar accent? Possibly. Also, Mara Casey, Gilmore Girls casting director and sometimes actress, is also in the movie as “Karaoke Girl”!

Even More Before-They-Were Stars Cameos!

Paul Giamatti pre-Sideways plays Richard the Bellman at the hotel Julianne is staying at, and he provides some comfort to her as she thinks about what she’s done to hurt Michael. He does some excellent smoking work in this scene. Also, there are before-they-were-stars cameos from Rachel Griffiths and True Blood’s Carrie Preston, who played the gossipy and slutty cousins of Kimmy, Private Practice & Scandal star Paul Adelstein as an (uncredited) family member – sitting at the head of the table during the Say a Little Prayer scene, and Grimm’s Bree Turner was one of the gals in the opening title sequence of the “Wishing and Hoping” trio!

But Michael’s Like, Leading Her On

“You look really good. Without your clothes on.” Michael walks into Julianne’s dressing room while she’s half naked, and that’s what he says before he gives her a long once-over then moseyed out the door. And don’t even get me started on the romantic dance/serenade on a boat ride down the river. “You’ve sort of been the woman in my life.” “And you’ve been the man in mine.”

*Or maybe this is just his way of finally letting go of Jules? Let’s go with that. Why? Because…

But Also Like, Juliette is a Bitch

“It’s amazing the clarity that comes with psychotic jealousy.”

You know, because it’s Julia Roberts, and the movie is written in a way that we’re supposed to view the situation through her lens, and I never really stepped back from the whole picture and acknowledged that Julianne is being a bitch. I know, I know.

She sets up Kimmy at the karaoke bar, then practically shoves her in the cab to go home just so she and Michael can have some alone time. During that time, Jules casually asks if he’s marrying her just to get a high-power job at the conglomerate/White Sox organization Kimmy’s dad owns, and Michael was adamant that he isn’t.  Cut to: Jules convincing Kimmy that Michael hates his traveling sports reporter job and wants a job with her dad. Conniving plan begins.

What a crazy move to involve your best friend, his fiancee, his fiancee’s dad, and his boss in a giant ruse just to make him love you back. It’s cuckoo bananapants and I still can’t believe Michael forgave her so quickly.

Julianne ‘I’m completely out of sneaky ideas’ Potter successfully reunites Michael with Kimmy and they agree to get married after a 5-hour breakup, Jules thinks it’s the right time to tell her BFF that she loves him, and kisses him as Kimmy looks on. The music swells in a way that leads us to believe this is the couple we should be rooting for. Instead, this is exactly what we should not be.

“I’m the bad guy.” Yes, Jules. You are. I can’t believe I’ve been blind to that for 20 years. Yes I can. I was 11 when I watched this. Julia Roberts could do no wrong. Her playing a villain was never a possibility. But actresses are dynamic, Trace. As a 31 year old, I definitely believe it now.

Just How Good Rupert Everett Is

From the moment he arrives in Chicago and pretends to be Jules’ fiance, Rupert steals the show. The scene in cab where he’s all over Jules, in the church where he charms the family members, then of course, the whole I Say a Little Prayer scene and him meeting Jules in a mental insitution while he was visiting “Dionne Warwick”. I feel like he should’ve been given more credit for this role!

***Apparently he was nominated for a lot of things playing George, including a Golden Globe, BAFTA, and an MTV Movie Award nomination, so I guess that’s better than nothing.

HER E-MAILS THOUGH

LOL at the entire scene where Jules is compiling an email using Kimmy’s dad’s laptop. It’s so archaic-looking, but I guess it was 1997. I didn’t even get AOL until a few years later. It makes sense that only this successful businessman only has easy access to email.

And why is she typing in their whole names and occupations in the To: field? Why would she save a draft for “Michael to see later”?? It’s a v risky plan.  And why would Walter be sending Michael’s current boss an email basically telling him to fire him so he can work for his own company? V unprofesh. And how is it that Walter doesn’t find out?

Brunch Before The Wedding

I’ve never been married, but I have been to a number of them, and I know full well that a wedding is an all-day thing. The ladies have to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to start getting ready. And even if Michael and Kimmy are set for to tie the knot at 6pm, that does NOT mean they should hold an elaborate brunch the morning of the wedding. They went all out as if it was a mini-wedding before the wedding. The egregious amount of balloons! What even is that! And also, Michael and Kimmy are attempting to not see each other on their wedding day, but still planned this brunch for their families? No.

The Ice Sculpture of David

Never really got *why* this was so funny. Now I do.

Julia Roberts Wears a Wig

Imagine a world where this wasn’t the final scene of the movie. Because that could bet he AU we’d be living in. In the first pass, the last shot featured Jules met a new guy to potentially find love with – John Corbett of Sex and the City fame. But after producers screened it for the first time, viewers “hated” Jules by the end because they “couldn’t understand her motives”, according to director P.J. Hogan. So the writer and director went back to the drawing board and expanded George’s role as her Gay Best Friend to play more of her conscience throughout the movie.

As part of that expanded role, Rupert and Julia did reshoots eight months after they wrapped, including the final scene (in which Julia is wearing a wig because she has a pixie cut IRL) where George surprises her at the reception. It’s heartwarming, lovely, and makes you root for Jules again, knowing she’ll be ok with the other love of her life – George.

“Maybe there won’t be marriage. Maybe there won’t be sex. But my god, there will be dancing.”

.

.

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Real Talk: Kimmy and Michael are divorced now, right?

Onion Ring Instagrams and Other Secret Celebrity Accounts

Celebrities, they’re just like us.

The MSM (Mainstream Media, you dummies) has been under a lot of heat from the current administration, and maybe it’s about time they look to international news outlets, where they’re getting down to the nitty gritty.

Perhaps they can learn a thing or two from New Zealand’s news site Newshub, which was the first outlet to report that their native daughter Lorde may just be secretly running a food-related Instagram account.

While the state of our nation continues to slowly disintegrate into tatters of the United States constitution, the MSM  has at least one priority straight – the alleged secret Instagram account run by Taylor Swift’s BFF Lorde.

New Zealand news site Newshub first reported the story on Tuesday, with the headline “Is this Lorde’s secret onion ring Instagram account?”, noting they received a tip from a 17-year-old fan. The account, @onionringsworldwide, seemed fairly new, with only four posts and 24 followers, including Lorde and a number of her friends.

While @onionringsworldwide, whose bio read, “Every onion ring I encounter, rated”, only had four posts, those four posts each gave plenty of clues leading back to Lorde, according to this 17-year-old fan. Like any good food Intagrammer, each caption included the name of the restaurant said onion ring was acquired from, and a review of the ring. That alone, plus knowing where Lorde is on her promotional tour (and knowing the look of her nails?), helped the fan build a strong case that this account was actually run by Lorde.

Even more evidence that this account was run by non-Royal Lorde? Newshub reached out to her management and they didn’t respond. Instead? The account has since been deleted.

Newshub contacted Lorde’s management to ask whether Lorde likes onion rings, whether she prefers a light batter on her onion rings, and whether she runs the account.

Management had not responded at the time of writing, but shortly after questions were sent through, we’re sad to report the onionringsworldwide account was removed from Instagram.

A few things about this: A) why does it matter if she secretly runs this innocent account? It’s not going to effect her popularity. Why are they treating this like she ran a pro-life Instagram? B) why didn’t her management give a statement or respond at all to Newshub? C) She reviewed a Burger King onion ring, and that just seems like a lost cause.

Listen, if Lorde wants to have some semblance of normality in her life, let her just have an anonymous account, maintaining it while she flies private between Bonaroo and Bev Hills. But she can’t be the only celeb who has a secret social media account, right? I don’t know for sure, but here are my best guesses as to what type of accounts these famous people are managing under the shroud of internet secrecy.

EDIT: LORDE IS ON JIMMY FALLON AS I’M WRITING THIS AND SHE CONFIRMED IT WAS HER ACCOUNT.

She said, “I sort of naively didn’t realize it would be a thing.. it was like a good past time… I deleted it because now people are going to be throwing onion rings (at me) on tour… I don’t think they get enough credit for how delicious they are.”

Ugh. Well, I’m guessing fans are still going to throw onion rings at you. But enjoy this post anyways.

Taylor Swift // Bughead Tumblr

When Taylor is active on her official Tumblr, it’s actually her and she knows how to use those hashtags, so it would only make sense if she had another Tumblr. I imagine she’s one of those hardcore shippers on the site, maybe for Riverdale, specifically for OTP Bughead aka Betty and Jughead. It’s mainly a fanfic site, but she’ll RB a gifset or two – maybe even featuring her own song lyrics.

Kylie Jenner // LOL GOP Twitter

I have no doubt Kylie can be savage af, but it would delight me to no end if she was super into politics and anti-GOP to the core enough to run this account.

Zooey Deschanel // Miniature Food on YouTube

It’s just so twee, just like Zooey’s whole aesthetic.

Adam Scott // Fat Jewish-esque Instagram

I hope that macaroni guy wins 🇫🇷

A post shared by 💦🙇🏽 (@moistbuddha) on

If you follow Adam Scott on Twitter, you know two things about him: 1) he’s not afraid to say how much trump sucks balls. 2) he is ridiculous and absurdly funny. I will never forget this dumb peanut butter and jelly joke that lasted lit’rally two years. So it’s not entirely out of his realm to run a comedy/meme account on Instagram.

Rosie O’Donnell // Toy Review on YouTube

We love Rosie. We loved her talk show. As tweens, we were enamored with her love for not only kids like us, but she had a kidlike quality that enabled her to constantly shoot koosh balls in the audience without it being awkward or gimmicky. Plus she loves a good nostalgia item, so these reviews of old toys would be right up her alley.

BJ Novak // His Teen Sister’s Twitter

Well, OK, this is actually true. BJ has been running an account under the name “Keough Novak”, who is supposedly his snarky teen sister. I started following her years ago, when I noticed that BJ’s BFF/Soup Snake Mindy Kaling had been tweeting at her a lot. I obvs stalked her profile and thought she was funny, and it wasn’t until like 2 years later that I found out that BJ had been running the account with his two brothers – I grew suspicious after realizing she wasn’t getting older an was a perpetual 16 year old. BJ said of the account, “If I have a thought that’s superficial or immature, that’s a good thing for Keough to say.” Not only that, but HE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A SISTER. Lies. Deceit. Hilarity too. Bless.

Kanye West // Slime Shop on Instagram

He may have quit Twitter, but for a guy who calls Steve Jobs one of his idols, I hardly believe he’s completely off social media. Plus, given his love for art, and creativity, I can picture him making these popular slime videos – and perhaps even selling tubs of them out of their Bel-Air mansion.

Barack Obama // Secret Snapchat

In general, he just has a secret Snapchat account. Followers include Malia, Sasha, Joe Biden and Jay Z (who also has a secret account).

 

The Highs and Lows of the 2017 Tony Awards

Another opening, another show. Another chance to joke about the Oscars mix-up.

The 2017 Tony Awards, our annual Super Bowl, were last night and proved to be a journey of excitement and disappointment all at the same time. While I don’t think anything will beat the excitement from last year’s #HamilTonys, this ceremony did have its good bits, but for every good bit there was a bad Kevin Spacey one. Here are some of our highs and lows from this year’s Tony Awards.

Lows: The Opening Number

I know Kevin Spacey is a respected actor/human etc. etc. but…. I was just not left that impressed with his Groundhog Day-inspired montage, highlighting all the nominated shows (although 10 points for Griffyndor for the tap dance break). Is it because we’ve been blessed with James Corden and Neil Patrick Harris in the past few years? Yeah, probably. I just expect to be left in tears by the end of the opening number. I don’t want it to end with a pun including “Your host is found”, no matter how many Dear Evan Hansen refs I long for.

High: It’s Been A Long Time Coming For Gavin Creel

Longtime Broadway and stage star Gavin Creel FINALLY won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Hello, Dolly! He was previously nominated for Hair and Thoroughly Modern Millie (which made his win even more special because Sutton Foster handed him his trophy) but he’s one of those actors that has been around for so long (he’s only 41) that he’s got a strong fan base (and support from fellow actors) even without the Tony. I saw him in the national tour of The Book of Mormon a few years ago and couldn’t stop raving about him. Did you watch him last year in She Loves Me? Come on. His speech was perfect and awkward (1:45 THAT IS ME) and admirable (SUPPORT ARTS EDUCATION!). I love when well-deserving actors who’ve been in it a while finally get recognition. Also goes for Dear Evan Hansen’s Rachel Bay Jones!

High: Performances to Give You The Chills

The Tonys are the only major award show that is site specific. You can easily go to your local cinema and watch an Oscar-nominated film. Turn on the TV and tune-in to an Emmy-nominated show. Pop in a cassette tape and listen to a Grammy-nominated album. But with the Tonys, you have to physically be in New York City to see these Broadway shows. So when the casts take the stage to perform, they’re performing for everyone around the world watching the show, who can’t necessarily get to the Big Apple. It gives a visual to fans who have only listened to the soundtrack, or maybe have never even heard the show at all. Which is why I always look forward to the actors getting a chance to show their talents off for the millions watching at home. Some standout performances this year were legend-in-the-making Eva Noblezada and the cast of Miss Saigon, Josh Groban and the cast of  The Great Comet throwing the best Russian party, and cast of Bandstand, making me want to take swing dance classes.

Low: Random Celebs

Former pro hockey player and Canadian Ron Duguay was the first rando to introduce the performance by the cast of Come From Away, because it takes place in New Foundland. And he is Canadian, you see. It makes sense. I was also confused because it kinda sounded like he went off script, and winged the intro… but what do I know, I’m American. And for some reason, Keegan Michael Key introduced the Great Comet cast, and I’m still trying to figure that one out. I love the guy but, if anyone has any insight, that would be supes helpful.

High: Playwrights in the Spotlight

As I previously mentioned, the Tonys are a chance for casts to give viewers a small sliver of what they do 8 times a week. But what about all the plays? It’s hard to just recreate a scene from a play just to show that they’re nominated for Best Play/Best Revival of a play. But this year, they did it right (or wright?) and had the playwrights take the stage and describe the show they wrote in their own words. More of this please.

High: Rachel Bloom, Future Tonys Host

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend star and renowned Broadway geek Rachel Bloom served as a backstage correspondent and to quote someone on Twitter, “Rachel Bloom is actually hosting this year’s Tonys, briefly interrupted by a man doing dated impressions.” Rachel was basically representing all of us nerds watching at home, with no chill for how exciting it is to be at the Tonys. Please host next year. CW is in the CBS brotherhood.

High: Oh, Hello!

This particular part of the show was quite the rollercoaster. First, the Oh Hello dudes came on stage to bring some actual humor to the show. If you watched John Mulaney and Nick Kroll host the Independent Spirit Awards earlier this year, you already know how hilarious and entertaining they are as a co-hosting duo. So when they came on stage to introduce the Radio City Rockettes, it brought the show back up, and quite frankly much better than Kevin Spacey’s opening number ever was.

Low: Rockettes

Andddd then the Rockettes did a few high kicks – like I get it, they’re at Radio City – but why. Why? Oh, because it gave Leslie and Cynthia a reason to sing.

High: Leslie Odom Jr. & Cynthia Erivo Saving the Rockettes

Except it lasted approx 1 minute, which was way too short. They could’ve stayed on stage and sang all the winners and it would’ve been totally fine. Get these two in a show or on tour together, SOMETHING. I WILL GIVE YOU MY MONIES.

High: Dr. Biden and Joe

Dr. Jill Biden was on hand to introduce a performance by the cast of Bandstand, which centers on a group of veterans coming home after World War II. With Dr. Biden’s long support of the military and their family, it was a no-brainer that she was there. But what I loved is that she got a standing ovation, clearly in appreciation for her service, as well as the service of her hubs and the entire Obama administration, and it made me long for the days of pre-Election 2016 Tonys. But the best part? Seeing Uncle Joe in the audience proudly watching his wife on stage, just as her date and nothing else. God bless.

Low: Kevin Spacey’s Impressions

If you didn’t know that Kevin Spacey does a real good impression of Johnny Carson, well know you know (if you watched the Tonys). And because he needed material, of course he pulled out the wig, since a Carson impression is relevant to the interests of all the people watching the Tonys. It was then that I texted Molly and mentioned that Carson is one of the party tricks Spacey’s got in his bag, and as you’ll see in the message below, I totally called the next impression.

During his Clinton impression, he called out Ben Platt and made a few Hillary jokes because THAT’S STILL FUNNY. Us, and most of the people watching the bit:

And because third time’s the charm, he had to come out as fake U.S. President Frank Underwood (along with Robin Wright & Michael Kelly, for some reason – the bit didn’t need them tbh it still sucked) to hand LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA THE ENVELOPE FOR THE WINNER OF BEST MUSICAL. We had already been Lin-less for the entire show, I didn’t need Spacey to ruin this too. But alas, he did.

High: Bette Midler Refuses To Be Played Off

The Divine Miss M won her first Tony (she’s an O away from EGOT) for Hello, Dolly! and because she’s Bette Midler, she didn’t give a crap about playoff music. There are few people in the world that can get away with telling an orchestra to stop, and she is one of them. It was everything I expected and more.

Sidenote: The Tony producers are S A V A G E for getting Glenn Close to present the category, since there was a possibility that Patti LuPone (rumored rival) could’ve won. It might have been an epic face-to-face that us drama-loving nerds died over.

High: Words Fail for Dear Evan Hansen

Dear reader, it’s gonna be a good day, and this is why – Dear Evan Hansen won six Tonys and all is right with the world.

First off, the production went into the ceremony with 9 noms – 3 less than top show Great Comet, making me think DEH could be beat out by Josh Groban. But the show all about social anxiety and connection clearly connected with Tony voters, and won not only Best Musical, but Best Book of a Musical, Best Score (by our boys and La La Land’s Pasek & Paul), Best Orchestrations (BACK TO BACK WINS FOR HAMFAM ALEX LACAMOIRE), and acting prizes for Rachel Bay Jones (MOM) and dreamy angel of an actor Ben Platt. He was the favorite going into the show, but seeing this 23 year old win and give his speech was everything I wanted in a Tonys acceptance speech, including an inspiring quote that teens will be inking on folders today – “To all young people watching at home, don’t waste time being anyone but yourself, because the things that make you strange are the things that make you powerful.”

And thennn earlier in the show, Ben, who was out of DEH for a few performances and put on vocal rest – made a triumphant return by singing signature song Waving Through a Window.

If you don’t have your tickets now, guess you’ll be waiting along with us until the tour (or when more Broadway seats become avail) and playing the soundtrack on repeat.

Low: Go Home Bobby Darin

Does Kevin Spacey think hosting the Tonys is going to help his Emmy For Your Consideration campaign? I feel like he treated the entire ceremony like a talent show. Between the impressions (did I mention he also did James Earl Jones in front of James Earl Jones – who won a lifetime achievement award? AND MORE AIR TIME WAS GIVEN TO SPACEY RATHER THAN JAMES EARL JONES??), mediocre bits and underwhelming opening number, it was all just a bit… trying too hard that it made me not like Kevin Spacey. And I LIKE Kevin Spacey!

But the thing that sealed the deal for me was the closing number, in which Kevin returned to his Golden Globe-nominated portrayal of 1950s singer Bobby Darin and invited Patti LuPone and all the winners to sing The Curtain Falls – a ballad, a FRIGGIN BALLAD. I don’t want to end Broadway’s biggest night with a ballad! Give me an uptempo! Give me a rap that was written minutes before by Lin-Manuel and included things that happened in the show! This isn’t a funeral. This is a celebration of all things theater!!!! In what I’m assuming was meant to be a lovely, community inspiring final song, it just came across as awkward since no one knew the song or even knew what was happening.

Spacey hosting proved that a host steers the ship to success. If he fails, then it kind of brings the entire show down. Sure, there were bright spots like Dear Evan Hansen and Bette Midler. But the best well-rounded award shows included hilarious and fun bits from the host – WE MISS YOU JAMES CORDEN – not just chuckle-worthy jokes and impressions you’ve been doing for years. Give me dance numbers, give me more singing, give me DRAMAAAAA – it IS gay pride month after all. Something Kevin probably should know about, right?

 

#TransformationTuesday: Ariana Grande

Hi. It’s Tuesday and we’re still talking about Ariana Grande.

Yesterday, we recapped some of the our favorite moments from the One Manchester concert, which Ariana helped put together to benefit the victims of last month’s attack. It was beautiful, full of tears, and best of all, raised over $3 million. Since the deadly event, Ariana has been praised for her compassionate eloquence in response to a heartless tragedy (unlike certain world leaders).

We will never be able to understand why events like this take place because it is not in our nature, which is why we shouldn’t recoil. We will not quit or operate in fear. We won’t let this divide us. We won’t let hate win. {x}

For many of those who just thought of Ariana as another female pop star, their minds changed after she released that statement (per the posts I saw on Twitter, at least). And when she took the stage on Sunday, it was evident that the attack had a profound effect on her, and she wanted to do anything she could to try to lift spirits and help the victims and their families in any way she could. That’s the day Ariana Grande wasn’t just an international pop star anymore. I’m not saying she wasn’t before, but to a lot of people who weren’t paying attention, she became a respected celebrity idol that day.

For the uninitiated, Ariana, 23, has been in the game since she was a teen, and has gone through many career changes to get to where she is today. So on this Transformation Tuesday, let’s take a look back at all the major points in Ari’s life that have led her to become the (Dangerous) Woman that she is today.

2001: Rite of Passage

You know how when you go to a kid’s dance recital or see a community theater show and there’s one, maybe two kids who are actually really good or have the potential to be? That was Ariana. Growing up in Florida, her main connection to the arts was the theater, performing in shows like Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, and of course, Annie.

2007: Slaying Judy Garland

When you’re an aspiring pop star, you obvs have to make the rounds at random events, like singing the National Anthem at a sports game, or singing at a birthday party for a 95 year old. Can’t turn down a gig.

2008: The (Great White) Way

When she was 15, Ariana was cast in 13, a musical by the genius that is Jason Robert Brown. She was in a supporting role as a cheerleader called Charlotte, and it even earned her a National Youth Theatre Association Award. Being cast in any Broadway show is maj, but to be a part of the Original Broadway Cast is an honor. I mean she’s on the OBC cast album! What does it say about me that I think this is one of the more impressive feats in her career?!

2009: The Nickelodeon Machine

The following year, Ari was cast as Cat Valentine in Victorious, a Nickelodeon sitcom starring Victoria Justice and set in a performing arts high school. Now, I’m not above telling you that I watched a lot of Disney Channel shows way past the age I should’ve been (#BestofBothWorlds), but I never got on this Nickelodeon train. It’s a total blind spot for me. But what I can say is that Ariana made the right decision in going through the Nickelodeon machine, which is v similar to the Disney machine (see: Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, etc.). Ari gained a fan following by playing a slightly ditzy yet lovable character, who would help her get her first starring role. More on that later.

2011: YouTube Star

Keeping music in the foreground, Ariana continued to connect with her fans by posting covers on YouTube. And just like the teens who posted their covers online all over the world, Ariana did the same, asking her fans to “tweet her”. Also, I remember watching that Emotions cover and thinking, “WHO DA FUQ IS THIS CHICK??!” Get into those whistle tones!!

2011: The First Single

Ariana released her first single, Put Your Hearts Up, in 2011. It’s a sweet bubblegum pop track that was fit for her Nickelodeon persona (and still features her signature Cat Valentine red hair). But as you can tell, this is definitely not the same music she’s singing today.

June, 2013: On To The Next One

In 2012, Victorious was not renewed for a fourth season, but Ariana still had a job because it was announced that she would star in a spin-off called Sam & Cat, which starred iCarly’s Jennette McCurdy (Sam). This is obviously next level stardom, but the show only lasted one season over the course of one year, and there was a lot A LOT of drama towards the end. It involved salaries, reported feuds, and the rise of Ariana’s music career, so Nickelodeon just cut the cord and the last Sam & Cat ep aired in 2014.

August, 2013: The Breakthrough

As mentioned, Ariana had still be working hard on her music career, and worked on her first real album over the course of three years. It was finally released in September, 2013, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making her the first female artist since Kesha to have her album debut at the top of the charts. The lead single, The Way (ft. now boyfriend Mac Miller), was a jam for the summer of 2013. For me too. Remember when I told y’all to add her to your playlist?!

2013: Just Beliebe

It was all happening for her in the fall of 2013 and at that point there was no stopping her flow. Ariana, who shares manager Scooter Braun with Justin Bieber, joined him for a few dates on his massive Believe Tour, and she also embarked on her own headlining mini-tour, called The Listening Sessions.  But it was the American Music Awards where she blew the crowd away with a stripped down performance of Tattooed Heart, and she won her first major award for Best New Artist.

August, 2014: My Everything

Ariana released her second studio album, My Everything, that August, led by the mega hit Problem. The song became one of the best-selling singles of all time with 10 million sales, and the video itself has been viewed over a billion times. Her second single, Break Free ft. Zedd was yet another charttopper, and just because she’s that talented, the song she featured on, Bang Bang with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj was also a hit. All three songs hit the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 in the same week, making her the only female artist besides Adele to have three top 10 hits simultaneously as a lead artist. Get it girl. My Everything also included jams like One Last Time, Love Me Harder ft. The Weeknd and Best Mistake, ft. ex-bf Big Sean.

2015: World Domination Continues

Ariana embarked on The Honeymoon Tour in support of the album, which was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammys that year (her other nom came in the form of Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for Bang Bang). She also returned to acting with a guest-starring role in Scream Queens, and gave fans a little holiday treat by releasing an EP called Christmas & Chill (which is V GOOD). Oh, also she did the Wheel of Impressions game on Jimmy Fallon and I’ve watched it like 5 times since.

January, 2016: Returning to Her Roots

Hey remember when I said I was the most impressed when I found out Ariana was in a musical by Jason Robert Brown? It’s because I think he’s a genius who created one of my favorite musicals of all time, The Last Five Years. And I’m the type of nerd who would go to one of his cabaret shows, but when he played in LA, I decided to be “smart” and save my money. Turns out I’m a dumb-dumb, because that night Ariana was a surprise guest and she sung a song from 13. I love this so much because it shows that she hasn’t forgotten where she came from, and is willing to sing at a random small venue in LA for her friend. In fact, she asked JRB to write a song for her that ended up being a bonus track on her Dangerous Woman album, called Jason’s Song (Gave It Away). She even performed it on Jimmy Fallon – and asked JRB to play piano. Read all about it on his blog.

March, 2016: Live From New York, It’s Saturday Night!

To promote her new Dangerous Woman album, Ariana was the host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. It was hands down, one of my favorite SNL episodes ever – she killed in each sketch (and all of them were actually funny – Jennifer Lawrence you guys!) and her musical performances  were perfect (I think about the Be Alright performance a lot).

December, 2016: A Checkerboard Chick

Ari got to live out a lifelong dream of playing Penny Pingleton in the annual NBC live musical, Hairspray, and was one of the standouts from the entire show. And again, my love for Ariana runs deep yet again, because she confessed her love for OBC member Kerry Butler, proving yet again, she’s a theater nerd just like us.

2017: Full Circle

Ariana has been on her Dangerous Woman World Tour since February, and that leads us to Manchester, where she brought the show on May 22nd. Here she is at the One Manchester show singing Over the Rainbow once again, filling us with emotion to see just what a Dangerous Wonder Woman she’s become.

The Man Behind the Meme: White Guy Blinking

Memes come and go into our lives. Some may be fleeting and some stick around for years. But how often do we know their origin story? Where did it start? Why has it become so popular? If there’s a person in the meme, what do they think of becoming an (internet) household face? Well I can help solve the mystery of one meme – this guy:

Here’s White Guy Blinking, a GIF used to express disbelief, and in most cases a well-known fact or relatable situation.

But who exactly is this guy? Well his name is Drew Scanlon and for certain types, he was already a well-known dude on the internet. He’s a video producer at Giant Bomb, a popular gaming website, and stars in multiple videos and podcasts for the site. So Drew was already used to fans clipping out GIFs of himself from the site, but never as fervent as this.

In fact, the blinking GIF is from a 2013 Giant Bomb show called Unprofessional Fridays. In the video, Drew is watching a co-worker Jeff Gerstmann play a game called Starbound, and while he’s playing, Jeff says, “I’ve been doing some farming with my hoe here…”

Drew’s reaction is naturally the one anyone with a dirty/comical mind would have, and if you’re a GIF maker, you know it’s a perfect reaction shot. But Drew told UK’s The Guardian that he doesn’t really remember shooting this particular video.

“I think a lot of our effort in these videos is spent on getting each other to laugh, to provide things for other people to react to or riff off. My reaction was, I think, part of that.”

And of course, he had no idea that this GIF would resurface four years later. “People have passed around gifs of us for as long as I’ve worked at Giant Bomb,” he told the Guardian. “It’s certainly a first for me.”

And it first recirculated earlier this year with a tweet that has nothing to do with video games, but rather biology class:

A fan sent Drew the biology meme to let him know his GIF lives on, and from that point forward, the RTs were endless and he soon became an international meme.

So how does Drew feel about being right-click saved all around the interwebs? He’s totally cool with it. “I like what memes can do for people. They’re such fun, throwaway things I see. These memes have been generally positive. It’s a little scary because there’s always the danger someone could change it to something different. It’s not like I’ve a say in what the internet does with a gif of my face. But I’m pleased to see people are enjoying it.”

Oh, they are.

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The Twitter Gift That Keeps On Covfefe

gavinThe internet can be a very scary place. And then it can be the greatest thing to ever exist. Exhibit A:

Last night, or rather around midnight Washington, D.C., time, Donald “I have the best words” Trump tweeted “Despite the constant negative press covfefe”. Assuming he meant to type “press coverage”, one would think autocorrect would’ve stopped him from sending out a typo. Or that he would notice immediately after sending it out that he spelled it wrong. Or that one of his staffers would notice it and tell him to take it down. Or that it’s not even a complete sentence. Any of the above. But nope. It stayed up for hours. To give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he’s just really exhausted and stressed out and gaining weight and can’t think straight. But on the other hand, it could be the bots. Maybe HE is a bot.

A tweet that’s immediately deleted is enough to launch a million response tweets. But the fact that he left it up for SO LONG sent Twitter into a frenzy. And thank GOD. It was like livetweeting an awards show but 10 times funnier. And since Spicey is probably just going to defend DT and somehow make “sense” of it all, let’s just bathe in the comedic aspect of it all because why not, we’re all going to die anyways. Here are just some of our fave responses to what has been described as the most “yes and” exercise ever.

*UPDATE* DT TAKES TWEET DOWN 6 HOURS LATER, MAKES A “JOKE” ABOUT IT.

BONUS: SPICEY DID EXACTLY WHAT WE THOUGHT AND MADE AN EXCUSE FOR HIS BOSS. I REALLY HOPE THAT’S APRIL RYAN YELLING, “WHAT IS COVFEFE?!??”

*******

a v specific comedy tweet:

Claiming Covfefe as a thing before anyone else:

DT has made politicians into comedians:

and Rogue NASA:

and tv shows being shady:

y’all work too quick:

give this social media manager a raise:

this type of joke is the kind that makes me laugh then when i stop laughing, i pause and then laugh again because it’s so dumb and ridiculous it’s so funny that i cry

my exact feelings on this whole kerfuffle:

And a friendly reminder before you go:

Guess The Fan Fiction OTP: Veronica Mars 10th Anniversary Edition

Welcome back, marshmallows.

Last week we marked the 10th anniversary of Gilmore Girls ending and this week, we’re celebrating the 10th anniversary of another beloved WB/CW show, Veronica Mars. Much like Gilmore, VMars’ third season finale was made without the producers knowing if they’d get a fourth season. It kinda brings closure but really doesn’t at all. Creator Rob Thomas even tried to save the show by pitching CW a version where Veronica goes to the FBI Academy, but that didn’t pan out well (you can still watch it on YouTube!).

And yet again just like Gilmore, fans were able to literally bring Veronica Mars back to life in 2014, thanks to the groundbreaking Kickstarter campaign that allowed all our faves to come back to Neptune one more time for the Veronica Mars movie in 2014. And we got more Logan/Veronica! That’s really what I cared about. Ok, I cared about closure for real, the one we never got with the mediocre season three/series finale. So instead of looking back at that episode, I’m doing something else – looking back at the series as a whole and the characters that we fell in love with over those three seasons. Or rather “fell in love” with each other. Welcome to Veronica Mars fan fiction.

Listen, I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve read a fair number of fanfics in my lifetime. I have friends that have written fanfics before. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, I admire writers’ creativity when it comes to making something they’re truly passionate about. And sometimes, fans can be passionate about the relationships that they hope would happen, but never play out on TV. The OTPs that or Oh No T Ps. The ships that never sail. But that’s why fanfic was created.

Sure, most VMars fans are into the whole Veronica/Logan (and I guess Veronica/Piz thing if you’re into that), but what about those forgotten OTPs? Below are 5 excerpts from VMars fanfics that focus on unlikely relationships – but ones that obviously are shipped to a certain extent. Try to figure out who these stories are about, and highlight in between the arrows to try to find out who the fanfic OTP is (and click their names if you want to read the whole thing!). Good luck!

OTP #1 from I Sleep Better With You

“She liked waking up next to him. The sun crept in through the slats of the blinds and touched him lightly, only just approaching his shaved head. His brown skin was warm against her as she stroked his arm, smiling sleepily at the peaceful expression on his face.

They were snuggled together in his bed, both fully clothed, as had become their habit lately. She would never admit that it was her favourite way to start a day, her favourite way to end the last. Working on cases together meant she was over at his at all hours, and it was only natural that they would fall asleep together. That was her story, and she was sticking to it.

The first time it happened she fell asleep on his couch, and woke feeling numb in her arms and her neck. As comfortable as his couch was, it wasn’t ideal. Still, when they woke up they laughed it off, made breakfast together, and she kissed his cheek goodbye. Ironically. Sardonically, even. He must have known, because when she showed up that evening with pizza and more case files he said “Honey, you’re home,” with a little smirk and a quirk of an eyebrow.

“Have you shrunk the kids?” smirking back at him, she proceeded to breeze through the door, which he then shut, and dropped the large stack of case files onto the somewhat cluttered table. The pizza was carefully placed beside them. She had her priorities.

OTP ==>Veronica/Weevil<==

OTP #2 from Heaven

There was a loud bang of the front door and in ran one-year-old Celia. They had been so proud when she started walking early. They soon realized it was a curse, as the little girl chose to run everywhere, now that she had found her legs.

Dad was booting down the aisle after her as Mom came through the door last. “I’m gonna get you, Celia-Bedilia!!!” He called and the little girl squealed with laughter. He easily caught her and threw her in the air as she cried out.

“Daddy! DAAAADDEEEEEEE!” She laughed and wrapped herself around her dad.

Logan and Veronica approached them. He gave them a smile and a nod and then yelled back at his wife. “See! I TOLD you I wouldn’t burst into flames in a church.”

“Hey! That’s what I said!” Said Logan, and gave his buddy a fist bump. Celia loved fist bumps and put her fist out for Logan.

OTP ==>Mac/Dick<==

OTP #3 from My Deputy

“It had been two days since He was hit with a Louisville Slugger and admitted to the hospital and it was driving Her spare. Every hour she’d glared at a nurse or a Doctor about his condition, and every hour she was simply told it was under review and she would be informed the moment any new information was available.

She hadn’t left his side since he was admitted and she stopped asking for updates four hours ago, instead she just sat with him and snarked at him.

She couldn’t help it, she didn’t know how else to be with him anymore.

“You’re not allowed to die.” She said flatly, staring at the television, as if it were a given, as if he’d somehow broken the rules by ending up in hospital. “You suck at your job, you always smell of cinnamon and you aren’t allowed to die. It’s no fun if I constantly have to tell you the rules Deputy.”

OTP ==>Veronica/Sheriff Lamb<==

OTP #4 from Potential

“When did you fall for him?” Veronica asked, and her hands twitched for a notebook she didn’t have.

He shrugged. “Mm. Honestly? When we were kids, probably. I don’t think I knew it then. I mean, I knew I was into guys – girls, too, and, you know, pretty much everyone else. I think. There’s just so much variety; I hesitate to use any particular labels in my super secret diary when I haven’t tried it all, y’know?”

She smiled down at her knees. “Right.”

“But. I mean.” He shrugged. “It was all kinda tied together, figuring that out, and, ah. I told him. About that. And he was good about it. Never told no one. And – straight boys, they find out you’re not one of’em and all the sudden they gotta cover up in the locker room, keep at least one woman between you at all times, all that shit. Like they’re automatically good enough for me, huh? But him… wasn’t like that.”

“You’re sure he was straight?”

“Oh, yeah. I asked him once. He practically apologized. Said he knew someone if I was looking for a community.”

“…I honestly cannot picture that conversation.”

“Yeah, neither could we, we laughed our asses off.”

“That’s strangely comforting.”

“Mmhm… So. I got over’im.”

“Just like that?”

He shrugged. “Hey, no one wants to chase their straight friend. Never ends well. I moved on. And… then Lilly Kane happened.”

OTP ==>Weevil/Felix<==

OTP #5 from Happily Ever After

They stay in cheap motels and live on chocolate Yoohoo and licorice until the sugar makes both of them edgy and jumpy and they laugh too much. Better than cocaine,      says as he shoves anther piece in his mouth and      just shrugs and watched the lines flash by, lit by the headlights as they hurl through the darkness. He’s not convinced they don’t need a better way to stop the pain: there’s a numbness missing without some way to alter the mind.

He never asks and Him never answers the question. But it hangs between them in the car, wondering if there’s room for forgiveness, seeking absolution. And their confessional is the back seat of the car parked on the side of the road, dust and tumbleweed stretching out in all directions, the sun beating down but He doesn’t notice any of it because his mouth is full of c**k and He is making those grunting noises that will haunt him later in his dreams.

OTP ==>Logan/Duncan<==

*fan art by TheElegantFaerie

Pop Culture Blind Spot: The Shawshank Redemption

“But Traci, The Shawshank Redemption is SO GOOD. I can’t believe you haven’t seen it!”

I’m aware. Oh I’m very aware. I’m also very aware that Pulp Fiction and the Star Wars and the Godfathers are all critically acclaimed, but I haven’t seen those either. It’s basically the reason we have this pop culture blind spot series in the first place. We are aware we’re missing out on a huge part of the pop culture landscape. And we’re working on it.

In the process of “working on it”, I finally got around to watching Shawshank and 2 and a half hours later it was a blind spot no more. Read on to revisit this iconic cinematic masterpiece that I’m officially an expert on having just seen it for the first time.

Prior Knowledge of This film

Prison. Tim Robbins. Someone dies? Supposed to be real good.

Actual IMDb description

Two imprisoned men (Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman) bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

Oh right Morgan Freeman. I swear I knew that.

Ohh this is a double death crime of passion? I’m already into this.

The cinematography is great in this! (Apparently so great it was nominated for an Oscar)

Legit question: it’s 1949 but there wasn’t segregation in this prison?

This is nothing like Orange is the New Black. Relatedly, I miss my GF Poussey.

Doctor Romano is one of these prison wardens?! Remember when his arm got cut off by a helicopter in ER?

TIM ROBBINS IS SO TINY AND CUTE. He was only 36 when he made this, which is adult age but he still looks like a little nugget.

Yes Andy making a deal with the officers to drink some beer. That is a true hustler.

Andy gets constantly gang raped by a group of men called the Sisters and it is not fun to watch. I also was not expecting a lot of rape in this film, tbh.

Wait the Captain, after befriending Andy, comes to his defense by beating up the prisoner who was raping Andy? This is oddly heartfelt and I feel weird about it?

I need to read more about prisoners getting Bibles on their way in. Does this always happen? Does it still happen?

This is amazing – now other prison guards are going to Andy for trust fund and financial advice!? He’s practically doing taxes for every employee. And he set up shop in his new office at the library, and he’s really the Taystee of Shawshank State Penitentiary.

Aw that actor guy is in jail! James Whitmore is his name. You know, the old guy from all the things! In Shawshank, his name is Brooks and he’s been in the prison for 50 years, spending most of his days as the joint’s librarian. He finally gets parole and he now works at a Halfway House and works as a bagger at a grocery store and oh my god this is so sad I’m cRYING. It doesn’t end well for Brooks 😦

“The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry.” Brooks

I guess when you’re have prison and got nothing but time, a long con is small peanuts. Andy wants to improve the prison library so he writes to the government asking for money in the prison budget. He doesn’t hear back. He continues to write a letter every single week for SIX YEARS until one day officials finally write back and give him a check for $200, along with a note appreciating his “persistence”. Never give up on your dreams, kids.

This Mozart scene tho.

BILLY THOMAS!!!!

If this is who Ally McBeal fell in love with in high school I GET IT.

Billy Thomas had an old cellmate who basically confessed to killing Andy’s wife and her lover?! And his name – the robber dude who killed them – is Elmo Blatch. Elmo. Blatch. He has a face that looks like this. What nightmares are made of.

Andy talks to the warden to tell him Billy Thomas’ story and the warden is a dumb prick about it and the frustration I get with Andy’s lack of support from the warden is the same frustration I felt when watching Making a Murderer.

WHAT THE FUCK THE WARDEN BASICALLY HAS BILLY THOMAS KILLED SO HE DOESN’T COME FORWARD WITH THE REAL STORY AND ANDY CAN’T LEAVE THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM HAS ALWAYS BEEN CORRUPT

They’ve mentioned farts like thrice is this symbolism

oh my god Andy was using the rock pickaxe thing to dig a hole through the wall to escape and used the posters of Hollywood stars to cover up the hole. Brilliant.

“Andy Dufresne, headed for the Pacific. Those of us who knew him best talk about him often. I swear, the stuff he pulled… Sometimes it makes me sad, though, Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright and when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice, but still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty now that they’re gone. I guess I just miss my friend.” I GUESS I JUST MISS MY FRIEND. RED! YOU’RE KILLING ME

Seriously Red/Morgan Freeman goes into his parole meeting and literally says “I don’t give a shit” then gets approved after years of being declined. Is this what I should do in job interviews?

When he gets let out he lives in the same room as Brooks, has the same job bagging groceries. It’s like late 1960s early 1970s now? Again, isn’t there segregation?? Like he’s being let out in a world where he can’t drink from the same water fountain as white people AND he’s an ex-con.

That’s probably why Red was like eff this, I’m gonna go follow this scavenger hunt Andy is leading me on. It takes him all the way to the oak tree in Ohio Andy talked about in prison. Red digs out a box with money and a letter from Andy, telling him to meet him in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, a place Andy told him about long ago. And so Red continues.

 

RED, 2 HOURS AGO: “Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”

ANDY, IN HIS LETTER NOW: “Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

RED, ON THE FINAL LEG OF MEETING UP WITH ANDY: “I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”

“Get busy living or get busy dying”, my new tattoo.

GUYS I’M CRYING THEY’RE REUNITED ON THE PACIFIC

A++++. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. IT’S AS GOOD AS THEY SAY.

The Rise of Riz Ahmed

Every once in a while, an actor comes on the scene and their personality, professional work and general persona is so unique it feels like spotting a unicorn. This time around, we’ve found it in Riz Ahmed.

The 34-year-old  star has been in the business for years, but it wasn’t really until last year when he blew up on the scene with blockbuster movies and hit TV shows. It’s also worth noting he’s British Pakistani, so it goes without saying: #RepresentationIsImportant. And those are just a couple of reasons why Time magazine just named him one of the 100 most influential people of the year, with a love letter written by his American twin, Lin-Manuel Miranda. His side hustle as a rapper and activism for those without voices are the cherries on top of this perfect Riz Ahmed sundae, but let’s go back a little and see how he climbed his way to the top and into our hearts.

The son of immigrants, Riz grew up in London and started acting in high school literally to stay out of trouble. There was a prominent racist problem that coincided with Asian gang culture, and he became v unruly and disruptive in class. it wasn’t until a teacher told him, “If you can muck about on stage, you get a clap for it, not a suspension.” And that’s what started it.

He went on to Oxford University, where he graduated with a degree in PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics). He’s said the dramatics scene in Oxford was very white and classical, which was totally what he was used to.

“I felt massively like a fish out of water. First person I met there, they laughed in my face and told me I reminded them of Ali G. So I kind of stuck out there, in terms of where I was coming from, the way that I spoke, the way I dressed. The place that you feel like you stick out the most is the place where you should stick it out and stay. Because that’s where you can contrubute somethingnew and fresh. it’s going to be hard and sometimes really lonely. and it was. but i was able to offer something different.”

However, he did continue to pursue his acting career by attending the Central School of Speech and Drama and he eventually got a break with his first film called The Road to Guantanamo. The docudrama told the true story of three British men who were detained in Guantanamo as enemy combatants, and they were kept there for two years before they were eventually released.

Riz played one of the young men, and ironically, four of the actors from the movie were detained in London’s Luton Airport after they returned from the film’s premiere in Berlin. Riz alleged that during questioning, police asked him pointed questions, inquiring if he had become an actor to further the Islamic cause, what he thought about the Iraq war, verbally abused him and denied him access to a phone. The police maintain that none of the actors were arrested, and just detained under the Terrorism Act (which lets them question people that are acting suspicious). Basically, Riz had practice for The Night Of.

At the same time, he was also working on his music career as Riz MC, and released his first single, Post 9/11 Blues, which was controversial, as the title can suggest. But even though his intentions were more satirical than anything, the track was banned from the airwaves by the British government.

“It is about how the contours of our society have been distorted since 9/11, and how that affects every area of our lives,” Riz told The Guardian at the time. “But it’s not a rant from an angry young Muslim, it’s funny, and the music is quite poppy and radio-friendly. It’s a shame that a satirical song like this is seen as a threat.”

Like an arguably better Will Smith, Riz carried on with both his acting and music careers concurrently, and receiving acclaim for both. Most of his screen work was British-based on TV and on the big screen, earning multiple British Film Independent Award nominations. And as a rapper, he released EPs and performed at Glastonbury, and with his hip-hop duo Swet Shop Boys, most recently took the stage at Coachella. Did we mention he’s even on The Hamilton Mixtape??

By 2014, he had enough cred to break out of the British cinema bubble, garnering even more acclaim for his role opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler. He served as Jake’s right hand camera man and his performance caught the eyes of several decisionmakers in Hollywood. In 2016, he had four movies come out, including Jason Bourne and Rogue One, two non-blockbusters, obviously.

On TV, he appeared in Netflix’s OA, had a short yet v important recurring role in Girls, and of course, maybe his career defining role in The Night Of. True story, I just finished watching this – seven episodes in one day and I could’ve gone on to watch the finale, but I decided it was better to not be a crazy person and saved the eighth and final episode for the next day. But that’s a testament to not only how powerful the performances are, but that the story itself is one that needs to be told.

For those who don’t know, Riz stars as Nasir Kahn, a Pakistani-American college student who couldn’t be more of an average guy. He’s pretty timid, family oriented and even tutors basketball players so they can stay on the team. One night, he takes his dad’s taxi to go to a party in downtown New York City, but a girl gets in the cab thinking he’s a real taxi driver. He agrees to drive her, but that decision changed his entire life. He goes back to her place, she offers him drugs, they have sex, and in the morning, he wakes up and finds her dead after being stabbed multiple times. But he didn’t do it. Or at least he didn’t remember what happened.

The miniseries follows Nas’ journey in prison, and how race and economic status play into the criminal justice system. Riz in particular plays Nas in a way that you are rooting for him, and left in awe of the transformation – including a maj physical one – throughout the eight episodes. And again, critics seemed to take notice, as Riz was nominated for both a Golden Globe and SAG Award this year. You’ll get ’em next time, kid.

And to top it all off and becoming the ultimate dream man, he’s continued to have that interest in social issues and politics (putting that Oxford degree to good use), and using his platform as a celebrity to bring attention to various issues, like the Syrian refugee crisis. He even teamed up with his The Night Of co-star John Tuturro to raise money for the Karam Foundation, which provides families with basic needs and delivers education programs for refugee youth. The crowdfunding campaign was a direct response to Trump’s executive order banning the entry of Syrian refugees & immigrants into the U.S. He’s raised over $178,000 and you can still donate here.

So while he’s a relative newcomer to the scene, Riz’s professional and personal work over the past year alone is more than enough reason for him to be named one of the most influential people in the world. Perhaps most importantly, it’s refreshing to see someone have such a positive influence on this generation and generations to come, all because he speaks candidly and openly about things he’s passionate about, and not in a media trained sort of way.

For example, Riz isn’t afraid to break the fourth wall and remind people that fame and celebrity doesn’t make you immune to the harsh reality of the world we live in today.

“It’s been a weird year. I’ve been enjoying the access, but, on the other hand, America and England both shot themselves in the face,” Riz noted at the Elle Style Awards earlier this year. “It was a year where I was getting searched like three time instead of two before I got on a plane, but, when I got on the plane, I was on the cover of the inflight magazine. Weird.”

He’s honest, yet professional. An activist, but not in your face. An undeniable star, but no ego. In short: Riz Ahmed is a unicorn.

Who To Root For At The Tonys In A Post-Hamilton World

Congrats everyone who decided to enter the Tonys this season and not last season – Hamilton will not be dominating the awards this year. But will another show take its place instead?

The 71st Annual Tony Awards nominations were announced yesterday, and coming out on top was Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 with 12 nominations. For those of you reading this that may not be Broadway fans per se, but more of a “Hamilton changed the way I look at musical theater” type of person, I’m guess you’re less likely to watch the Tonys this year because Ham won’t be as featured as it was in 2016. But let me tell you, there are still plenty of fantastic shows that are worthy of your support, both on Tonys day and in the theater year round. Here are just some of our top picks for who to root for, and who’ll dominate come June 11th.

Dear Evan Hansen

9 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Ben Platt), Best Score (Oscar winners Benj Pasek & Justin Paul)

What it’s all about: “All his life, Evan Hansen has felt invisible. But when a tragic event shocks the community and thrusts him into the center of a rapidly evolving controversy, Evan is given the opportunity of a lifetime: the chance to be somebody else.” {x}

Starring: Ben Platt, Laura Dreyfuss, Rachel Bay Jones

Why: Let’s just say it’s the Hamilton of 2017. Dear Evan Hansen has been winning acclaim ever since it premiered in D.C. back in 2015. When it was Off-Broadway, the show won five various awards, including an Obie for its star Ben Platt. Just for a second – we need to talk about TONY NOMINATED Ben Platt. The Pitch Perfect star may just be adding some hardware to his name come June because this is a freaking breakout role for him. If you haven’t yet, listen to the soundtrack, or at least listen to For Forever, which legit gave me goosebumps and made me cry in its 5 minute span. Another actor to look out for is Tony nominee Rachel Bay Jones, who plays Evan’s mom, a woman who just doesn’t know how to connect with her son. Her emotions pour out on So Big/So Small, and if you get to this point in the soundtrack/show without crying, this track will be the breaking point.

Speaking of which, the soundtrack debuted at number 8 on the Billboard chart, which is the highest debut by a cast recording since 1961. Hamilton didn’t even do that! It’s also worth noting that a number of notable Ham creatives are also behind DEH, including Alex Lacamoire (Music orchestrations and arrangements), David Korins (Scenic design) and Nevin Steinberg (Sound design). The first two also got nominated, but not Nevin because the Drama League is dumb and the category was taken out a couple years ago (but is being reinstated next year!). 

Come From Away

7 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score

What it’s all about: “Following the 9/11 attacks, 38 planes and 6,579 passengers were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, doubling the population of one small town on the edge of the world. Based on interviews with locals, Come From Away is about how hosting this international community of strangers spurred unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances.” {x}

Starring: Jenn Colella, Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kessebaum

Why: Making a 9/11 musical is toeing a fine line between tacky and offensive and honorable. But Come From Away has gotten positive reviews that lean towards the latter, and in fact suggest that this story is what needs to be told in this shitshow of horrific times. Peter Marks of The Washington Post even noted Come From Away “an antidote for what ails the American soul.” And while the actors may not be household names, the ensemble is a mix of both veterans and newbies, who are all worthy of a Tony, including Jenn Colella, who is up for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical.

Miss Saigon

2 nominations, Best REvival of a Musica, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

What it’s all about: “Set in 1975 during the final days of the of the Vietnam War, Miss Saigon is an epic love story about the relationship between Chris, an American GI and Kim, a young Vietnamese woman. They are separated when the country falls, until she returns to his life years later, in this musical inspired by the opera Madame Butterfly.” {x}

Starring: Eva Noblezada, Alistair Brammer, Jon Jon Briones, Rachelle Ann Go

Why: This 25th anniversary production earned rave reviews when it opened in London in 2014, and finally three years later, it has made its way across the pond with most of its original revival cast, including Eva Noblezada, who plays the lead of Kim and earned her very first Tony nom yesterday. It’s no easy feat playing a role that Filipino royalty Lea Salonga originated, but 21-year-old Eva made the role her own and is set to become a star much like Lea did years ago. In fact, like Lea was discovered at just 18 (this video will never get old), Eva was 17 when she performed at the National High School Musical Theatre Awards, and a casting director pegged her to play Kim for the London revival. The rest is history. But it shouldn’t be a surprise – here’s a vid of Eva at 14 giving Sutton Foster a run for her money .

War Paint

4 nominations, including Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical (Patti LuPone & Christine Ebersole)

What it’s all about: “Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden defined beauty standards for the first half of the 20th Century. Brilliant innovators with humble roots, both were masters of self-invention who sacrificed everything to become the country’s first major female entrepreneurs. They were also fierce competitors, whose 50-year tug-of-war would give birth to an industry. From Fifth Avenue society to the halls of Congress, their remarkable rivalry was ruthless, relentless and legendary—pushing both women to build international empires in a world dominated by men.” {x}

Starring: Patti LuPone, Christine Ebersole

Why: Um, Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole? Diva-off. 

Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812

12 nominations, including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book, Best Direction 

What it’s all about: “Natasha is a beautiful ingénue visiting Moscow while she waits for her beloved fiancé Andrey to return from the war. In a moment of indiscretion, she is seduced by the dashing (but already married) Anatole and her position in society is ruined. Her only hope lies with Pierre, the lonely outsider whose love and compassion for Natasha may be the key to her redemption… and to the renewal of his own soul.” {x}

Starring: Denee Benton, Josh Groban

Why: I’ve heard nothing but great things about this show, and every clips I see makes me want to see it even more. The intimate setting, the creative blocking, the overall fanciful atmosphere might give it the edge over Dear Evan Hansen, which has long been considered a front runner for months.  Also worth noting – both its stars Denee and Josh Groban made their Broadway debuts with Natasha, and they’re both nominated for their first Tony awards. The girl from UnReal and Ally McBeal star Josh Groban could be Tony winners, y’all. 

Hello, Dolly!

10 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actors (Bette Miller, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel, Kate Baldwin)

What it’s all about: “A meddlesome matchmaker brings together the young clerk of a wealthy Yonkers merchant and his assistant with a widowed milliner and her assistant, while making sure she herself gets to marry the merchant, in Jerry Herman and Michael Stewart’s musical adaptation of Thornton Wilder’s The Matchmaker.” {x}

Starring: Bette Midler, David Hyde Pierce, Gavin Creel

Why: We are bad musical theater nerds. Molly only saw the movie of Hello, Dolly for the first time recently, while I have seen neither stage musical nor movie. What I do know is that other more well-educated theater nerds have been v excited for this revival, mainly because of the return of Bette herself to the Broad-way. An established show with revered actors is bound to get some love from the Tonys, and with 10 noms it’s clear someone’s gonna go home with that trophy. 

Falsettos

5 nominations, including Best Revival of a Musical, Best Actors (Christian Boyle, Andrew Rannells, Brandon Uranowitz, Stephanie J. Block)

What it’s all about: William Finn and James Lapine’s musical combines their Off-Broadway works The March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, which tell the story of a gay man named Marvin, his lover Whizzer, Marvin’s wife Trina and their extended family from the early ‘80s through the early days of the AIDS crisis.

Starring: Christian Borle, Andrew Rannells, Stephanie J. Block, Brandon Uranowitz, Tracie Thoms

Why: The OG version of this show premiered nearly 25 years ago, but its themes of gay relationships and the AIDS crisis are still hot topics of conversation today. In addition to the fact the story itself is so relevant, the stellar cast tells the Falsettos tale in a whole new way, and it’s definitely one to watch out for on Tonys night.

Kevin Spacey

2 nominations, 1 win

What it’s all about: Kevin Spacey is hosting the Tonys for the first time. Kevin Spacey! It seemed like kind of a random choice but I’m here for it! #MaybeHeWillAdmitHisLoveForTheaterGoesBeyondJustTheToeTappingMusical