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

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

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

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

Rachel Brosnahan!

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

Mrs. Maisel!

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

Mad Men Fix!

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

Costumes!

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

Cameos!

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

Amazon!

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

Music!

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

Classic Amy Sherman-Palladino!

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

bye bye bert

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

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

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

Bottom Line:

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

Notable Quotes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s not.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young Sean Connery could get it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darby, requesting whisky: The best in the house!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lauren’s POV:

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

Kelly’s POV: 

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

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

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

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

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

13) She helps bring the fandoms together:

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

15) Talk Show Exhibit #2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

22) She loved Downton as much as we all did

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

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

24) Talk Show Exhibit #3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30) Talk Show Exhibit #4

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

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

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

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

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

36) Because #TeamMark forever

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

we bravermans gotta stick together #themysteryofloveandsex #supportivefamily #extremelylucky

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

38) Seriously, we adore their friendship:

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

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

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

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

40) Wise words:

41) Talk show exhibit #5:

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

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

44) She truly gets the importance of Gilmore:

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

45) Friendship Goals AF

46) Writer’s block is real for everyone:

47) She’s with her and him

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pro: Return to Stars Hollow

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

Con: Do the actors even want this?

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

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

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

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

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

Pro: Lorelai (and Luke) as Grandparents

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

Con: Rory as a Mom

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

Pro: #JusticeForLane

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

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

Con: Are we just making profits instead of making art

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

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

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

Pro: More Gilmore Guys

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

Con: Perpetuating revival/reboot culture

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

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

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

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

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

Con: Logistically and Realistically it’s no good

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

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

Bottom Line:

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

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

Things We Need To Revisit From The 2017 Academy Awards

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

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

The Opening Number and Monologue

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

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

The Matt Damon Jokes

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

The Bit With The Tourists, Which I Hated

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

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

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

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

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

VIOLA!

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

The Ladies Of The Help

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

MAHERSHALA!

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

The Children of Moonlight

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

La La Land Wins?

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

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

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

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

Moonlight Wins!

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

Best Dressed at the 2017 Oscars

We’ve been blogging about the Oscars for four years now and watching them for about 20 – and that was hands-down the nuttiest night in our Academy Awards memory. From Denzel’s shocking loss to Viola’s triumphant win, Auli’i Cravalho’s otherwordly poise and composure to Lin’s endearing joy, culminating in the most INSANE deus ex machina ending we’ve ever seen – when the wrong envelope was opened and La La Land was announced the winner, only to have producers come out and confirm that the rightful winner as Moonlight – there was a whole lot going on. It’s almost enough to make you forget that it was an amazing night for fashion, too. Key word: Almost. Because no matter what insanity went on with the envelopes, we feel pretty confident about who the winners of our Best Dressed prizes should be.

Molly’s Picks

Janelle Monae in Elie Saab
I've been a Janelle Monae stan since The ArchAndroid, and I am having SUCH an

I’ve been a Janelle Monae stan since The ArchAndroid, and I am having SUCH an “I’ve been telling you all” moment right now. Things to know about Janelle’s fashion choices: for quite some time she only appeared in black and white tuxedos, but she has relaxed her “uniform” and now wears gowns, always in her signature black and white. Her albums center around a futuristic sci-fi mythology, a world populated by androids with lots of cool space allusions. I could see this look flopping on somebody else, but knowing Janelle’s penchant for black and white, and her fusion of sci-fi and soul, an Oscar gown where she looks like an intergalactic android empress is the best and, honestly, only appropriate choice. Also: that short hair and grecian headband: excellent.

Emma Stone in Givenchy
Like with Janelle Monae's look, I love Emma Stone's gown as much for what it represents as for how it looks. For a lot of us, Givenchy will always be synonymous with Audrey Hepburn, and in fact Emma is the first person to win Best Actress in Givenchy since Audrey. As I've said other years, I always love when nominated actresses dress with an eye towards the fact that this may be THE dress for them: the image that will be called up throughout their career and used in stories about them when they're old ladies. And with La La Land so glitzy and classic, this Old Hollywood look is a symbolic choice - a gown that could have been featured in one of the classic films Emma's character Mia grew up checking out of the library. A note about makeup: every single time I see Emma in a lip color, I think that it's HER color. Coral: her color. Bright pink: her color. This brick red: her color. She has a complexion for lipstick, which I didn't realize was a thing until just now.

Like with Janelle Monae’s dress, I love Emma Stone’s gown as much for what it represents as for how it looks. For a lot of us, Givenchy will always be synonymous with Audrey Hepburn, and in fact Emma is the first person to win Best Actress in Givenchy since Audrey. As I’ve said other years, I always love when nominated actresses dress with an eye towards the fact that this may be THE dress for them: the image that will be called up throughout their career and used in stories about them when they’re old ladies. And with La La Land so glitzy and classic, this Old Hollywood look is a symbolic choice – a gown that could have been featured in one of the classic films Emma’s character Mia grew up checking out of the library. A note about makeup: every single time I see Emma in a lip color, I think that it’s HER color. Coral: her color. Bright pink: her color. This brick red: her color. She has a complexion for lipstick, which I didn’t realize was a thing until just now. Also of note, Emma is sporting a small Planned Parenthood pin.

Ruth Negga in Valentino
Evidently the inspiration for this look was

Evidently the inspiration for this look was “pagan goddess.” I was going to say a more streamlined take on a demure Victorian look, but either way. I wouldn’t love the high neck and long sleeves on just anybody, but Ruth has such long, straight lines and I think it complements her perfectly. I love the contrast of the brighter, orange-y red with the deeper ruby on her headpiece and earrings. I find this dress to be a great example of dressing FOR your type (Ruth is this year’s pixie-like ethereal Irish nominee, after all), instead of against it. My only very minor gripe is that red dresses always look odd on the red carpet because of the contrasting tones. Note the blue ribbon for the ACLU.

Nicole Kidman in Armani Prive
Love the pillar dress, love the embellishments, actually love that this whole look is basically monochrome except for her lip color.

Love the pillar dress, love the embellishments, actually love that this whole look is basically monochrome except for her lip color.

Mahershala Ali in Ermenegildo Zegna Couture
Because we have to acknowledge that the men tried, too. Sometimes black-on-black can look kitschy, but the way this pulls together is pure elegance. I love that he went with a waistcoat and shirt, stayed black with the bow tie, and splashed it out a bit with the pocket square. And the shirt studs, besides? He is killing me. It's just so great to see a man having fun with accessorizing. Elegant, indeed.

Because we have to acknowledge that the men tried, too. Sometimes black-on-black can look kitschy, but the way this pulls together is pure elegance. I love that he went with a waistcoat and shirt, stayed black with the bow tie, and splashed it out a bit with the pocket square. And the shirt studs, besides? He is killing me. It’s just so great to see a man having fun with accessorizing. Elegant, indeed.

Brie Larson in Oscar De La Renta
Brie looks pristine and icy and beautiful, exactly how you should look while forking over an award with a pursed-lip smile while gently seething. The length is fantastic, I love the train and I don't always love trains, and the architectural structuring on the front of this is perfectly matched with the contrasting fabric finishes.

Brie looks pristine and icy and beautiful, exactly how you should look while forking over an award with a pursed-lip smile while gently seething [Annual reminder that Brie Larson is a Good Person]. The length is fantastic, I love the train and I don’t always love trains, and the architectural structuring on the front of this is perfectly paired with the contrasting fabric finishes.

Traci’s Picks

Taraji P. Henson in Alberta Ferretti

Taraji kept it classic and cool in a gown fit for Hollywood royalty. The neckline cut is perfect, the slit on the leg isn’t too high, and the best part is that this velour dress isn’t black – it’s navy blue.

Auli’i Cravalho in Rubin Singer

Like Moana coming out from the sea, Auli’i stepped into the spotlight and straight to our hearts. In addition to her outstanding performance with our boy Lin-Manuel during the show, this SIXTEEN YEAR OLD wore this gorge flowing gown on the red carpet. The white dress with gold accents was classy but just unique enough to stand out from the crowd. It also reminds me of water, but maybe I’m too into Moana.

Ava DuVernay in Ashi Studio

Ava might not have walked away with the gold last night (we’re of the mindset that she should have won, but whatever), but she sure did make a statement with this stunning gown by Ashi Studio, a designer based in Lebanon. The country is 54% Muslim, and Ava chose them specifically as a “small sign of solidarity.” We need people like you, Ava.

Isabelle Huppert in Armani Privé

I haven’t even seen Elle, nor have I seen anything Isabelle Huppert has been in, but she looks like Hollywood royalty in this gown. The 63 year old donned a dress perfect for her age, with just enough sparkle to shine in a sea of youngins.

David Oyelowo in Dolce & Gabbana

More and more men are taking risks with color on the red carpet, and David Oyelowo is rocking a black and white suit coat with modern details, and we are all for it.

 

Questions, Comments & Concerns: Britney Ever After

It was bound to happen. It’s Britney on Lifetime, Bitch. If Saved By The Bell can have its own dramatized version of behind-the-scenes drama, obviously one of the biggest pop stars of our generation would get her own TV movie too. Over the weekend, Britney Ever After premiered, and it gave viewers a peek behind the stage lights and into her pop star lifestyle. From 1998 to 2015, it covers a lot of ground over her career, and no doubt did I have a lot of questions, comments and concerns about this film. Let’s dive right in to Lifetime’s Britney Ever After.

Concern: I’m already questioning the actress who’s playing Britney

I’d like to preface this post by saying I am a Britney fan. I have been since 1998, and her …Baby One More Time tour was the first ever concert I went to. I’ve seen her live multiple times and always pick her over Christina any day. This commentary is all coming from a place of love.

Now that that’s out of the way, the actress who plays Britney is Natasha Bassett, who is surprisingly Australian. Her Southern accent is not that great, but considering she’s not from the U.S., I’ll give her props for even sounding American. Don’t get me started on her mom Lynne (played by Nicole Oliver), who sounds more like a Georgia Belle instead of a backwoods Louisiana native. The acting from Natasha is already subpar. “I wanna be Britney Jean. I’m Britney Spears” Also her accent is… not good. And her mom’s accent is more George Belle as opposed to backwoods of Louisiana. Oh and Natasha’s acting is exactly what you’d expect from a Lifetime movie.

Comment: I’m excited Fe gets a prominent role in this

Any die hard Britney fan knows exactly who Fe aka Felicia Culotta is. She was a family friend long before she became Brit’s assistant back in the late 1990s, and was constantly by her side as she rose to fame. They had a falling out in 2007 (when Fe went to go work for the Jonas Brothers), and she is working for Brit again, so all is right with the world. In the movie, Fe’s storyline isn’t excessive or dramatic and pretty straightforward so she luckily didn’t get the shaft in the movie. As for other tertiary Brit posse, I’m kind of upset her backup dancer TJ didn’t get a role in Britney Ever After. I legit went to her Baby One More Time tour because I thought he was cute.

Question: Fake Justin actually sounds like Justin?

We’re introduced to Justin Timberlake when he meets up with Britney the first night she opens up for *NSync. As she’s standing on the stage looking out into the empty arena, he approaches in the shadows, so all we see is the outline of his ramen hair. But when fake Justin starts talking we KNOW it’s Justin because he actually does sound like real Justin and it’s a little freaky. The look however…

Concern: Britney’s dad seems too angry

Obviously we don’t know how he was IRL, but Jamie Spears is coming off like a real angry and frustrated asshole. I choose not to believe this characterization.

20 minutes later: He’s a “drunk” who gets angry and leaves whenever something mildly goes wrong… so this is obviously an asshole move, but is this really what he did?

Comment: The Most Disturbing Version of *NSync

*NSync featuring Fe AND TJ in the back!

The rest of *NSync doesn’t have a prominent role in Britney Ever After, but thankfully they do show up in a pivotal moment when they surprise her with an a cappella serenade and birthday cake. It is… a thing that happened.

“You’re one year older, girl” JT to Brit

Question: Did Britney and Justin really have their first kiss drunk and in front of a tour bus?

Slash have sex on her tour bus?! And he told her he loves her? All in the span of like 10 minutes?!

Question: Are we going to hear at least one real Britney song?

All the songs played in the film are fake pop songs that might as well be demos that Britney passed on when she was still trying to find a hit pre-Baby One More Time. The only songs we see her performing are covers of covers she recorded – EG:  Satisfaction and I Love Rock and Roll, which means it was such a blatant problem with getting the rights to her songs.

Instead of hits like Toxic and Womanizer being played in the background, we got to hear pop songs that included lyrics like, “I wanna feel you down with me/You know I’d do you right/You know we got all night/I wanna feel you down with me. RAP BREAK.” Did I mention this was during her wedding reception with Kevin Federline?

Question: Did Brit & Justin really get their nicknames from a ring?

JT gives her a ring after her performance at the 2000 VMAs and it only fits on her pinky finger. So he calls her Pinky. And she says, “Then I’ll just have to call you Stinky”. Is this really the origin story of these nicknames?! Brand new information. Also, very dumb.

Comment: This love montage looks like Brit & Justin’s Hello Magazine spread

Comment: OH SHIT WADE ROBSON

We’re introduced to choreographer Wade Robson as he grinds up on Brit during dance rehearsals and introduces her to Banana the snake for the famous Slave 4 U VMA performance. But also, if you don’t know, Wade is reportedly the guy Brit cheated on Justin with and the subject of JT’s Cry Me A River. Also a v good friend to both Brit and JT. Wade co-wrote Britney’s track What It’s Like To Be Me off her Britney album, and it was the only song she ever collaborated with Justin on (bonus clip: watch Justin mention Wade while talking about said track, after surprising her on a MTV special – around 3:45).

Later, Brit and Justin have a fight in a club (she told him he was slipping on the charts) and when she returns to her room crying, who’s there to cheer her up? Fucking WADE. And Justin finds out they (allegedly) slept together after finding from a doodle Wade made??? I hope that’s not how he found out.

Comment: Dancers Abound

There’s a montage of Brit auditioning dancers and it makes me think about how my hip hop teacher was a backup dancer in her Crazy video. True story.

Comment: Kudos for the exercise scene

Brit used to do like 500 sit ups every day, which is why the montage of her crazily exercising in her room probably isn’t TOO far from the truth.

Question: Are they having a post-breakup dance off?

Yes. The answer is yes.

Comment: The Justin Breakup Really Did a Number on Brit

After her VMAs 2003 performance with Madonna and Christina makeout sesh, she gets off the stage and asks her mama, Fe and Larry Rudolph (her longtime manager) if they think Justin liked it. Except he had already moved on to Cameron Diaz. Britney’s mom already mentioned she had been acting up after their split, but we’re still 4 years away from the ’07 head shaving incident.

Question: Do we all forget Britney was married for 48 hours?

Just me? There’s so much other shit that went down that I always forget she was married to Jason Alexander. And she was a hot mess in this scene.

Comment: Kevin Federline Seems Like a Skeeze

Britney’s second husband is introduced to us in a scene where she and KFed are making out in a stairwell before her show. There is WAY too much tongue being used and I had to legitimately look away. Was this supposed to show us that their relationship was purely sexual? That they had a hot marriage which resulted in two (of a total of six) kids?

Other things I learned about their marriage: KFed’s is nickname was supposedly “Meat Pole”, there were allegations he cheated on her which planted the seeds of the imminent split, and she supposedly texted him to let him know she was done with him, with the phrase, “I wnt 2 divorce u.”

Concern: Just general concern for Britney 2007

I’m still not over this. She needed help and the only media made her even crazier. It makes me frustrated and sad, but in the end very proud that she was able to distance herself from the people who tried to take advantage of her and gain back control of her life.

Comment: The Sam Lutfi Dude Is Still Creepy

Brit flanked by Sam Lutfi and Adnan Ghalib (front), who was not portrayed in Britney Ever After.

Sam somehow got close enough to Brit that he was hired as her “manager”, but he was no bueno. At the time, he already had two outstanding restraining orders against him, so already off to a great start. In the movie, he’s correctly portrayed as someone who is just in Brit’s life for the fame and money, clearly not getting her the help she needed during the dark days. What an asshole. Britney’s parents ultimately got a restraining order against Sam, and in the film, the order is literally thrown at his face. It’s great.

Question: I still don’t get why this is called Britney Ever After?

It goes all the way up to the opening of her Vegas show… which is still happening… and I’m starting to think this was just one giant commercial for her residency and they just acted like she had no part in it. LARRY RUDOLPH IF THIS IS TRUE, I APPLAUD YOU.

*cue the I Am Britney Jean documentary right after this film ends. Seriously.*

Notable Lines:

Phrases used to show it’s not present day:  “Look a Furby!””Straight buggin… The bomb diggity.”  We get it. It’s 1998.

“Cool friggin beans – BUNKBEDS!?” Definitely something Brit would’ve said

Jamie Spears calls Brit and Justin’s alleged sex tapes “boudoir videos” after they were stolen from her home.

*Justin surprises Britney after being out on the road, and shows up at her door with finger guns*

Brit: “Is this a stick up?” Justin: “I’m about to rob you… of your heart!”

“Who’s that fool?… A clown is what she’s got.” Her bodyguard when he first sees Brit making out with Kevin Federline

Things I’m Willing To Believe About Logan Everett, The Boy American Girl Doll

There’s something different about the newest American Girl doll. It’s a boy. Which is a fine thing to be, if you’re a human, but I have to admit that my knee-jerk reaction was more like:

As if white boys couldn’t already be EVERYTHING, now they’re an American Girl doll? Ugh. What would Felicity think? (Trick question, she’d just note whether they wore the same britches size in case she had to steal another pair under cover of darkness.) Okay, also the boy looks like this:

Of course he does.

Anyway, the Boy American Girl is named Logan Everett.

Of course he is.

Logan is apparently the drummer for the doll version of 2008-era Taylor Swift. As the latest addition to our series Things I’m Willing To Believe About, here are some things I am willing to believe about Logan Everett, Boy American Girl:


His working name was Logan Bruno because he was 100% based on Logan Bruno, boy associate member of the Baby-Sitters Club. He’s even Southern.

Not to put all Logans in a box but all Logans are exactly one way, right?

Not to put all Logans in a box but all Logans are exactly one way, right?

Logan would like to invite you to a fun laser tag outing with his youth group.

His dad is in the worship band. Logan’s first performance was Lord I Lift Your Name On High.

 

The original plan was for Boy American Girl Doll Logan Everett to be a historical character from 1994. He would have had the requisite Cute Boy In The 90s Haircut (see: Rider Strong), a plaid flannel with a heather gray hood, and you could buy him a scaled-down, working Talkboy for $19.99.

Like this.

Like this.

In a frozen pioneer cemetery in Minnesota, Logan’s great-great-great-great grandmormor Kirsten is rolling over in her grave due to his coddled and simple lifestyle.

He calls his dog a rescue dog but it’s just a regular dog.

Logan rarely looks up from his Nintendo DS when he is forced to visit his great-grandma Molly. To be fair, all of her “harrowing war stories” are, like, “one time I curled my hair when it was wet and I got a cold” and “I ate turnips, once.”

Get a grip, Molls.

Get a grip, Molls.

I’m not saying Logan smirks mockingly at people, I’m just saying that doll is smirking mockingly at me, right? 

That face where you dropped something on your shirt and he's not gonna laugh, he's just gonna stare at you.

That face where you dropped something on your shirt and he’s not gonna laugh, he’s just gonna stare at you condescendingly.

His parents buy Lunchables.

And Sunny D.

And maybe Cheez Wiz?

Logan’s instagram is all skating pictures he stole off of other people’s instagrams (he doesn’t skate) and quotes.

Just really wants to bring hacky sack back.

Is the main character’s older brother who the best friend has a crush on on a Disney show.

If his name wasn’t Logan, it would have been Hunter. Or Kyler.

Was the first kid in his class whose parents didn’t care if he watched PG 13 movies.

Was in a commercial for a local amusement park 2 years ago and finds way more ways to bring it up than you’d think.

Boy band role: the one moms are OK with

Logan “thinks you look prettier without makeup,” but also thinks “no makeup” looks like concealer, light, well-blended foundation and bronzer, neutral eye shadow, lightly smudged dark brown liner, full mascara and lip gloss

Also “Tthinks you look prettier when you don’t do you hair;” hot rollers and highlights.

I understand this is supposed to be a country musician but I still kind of feel like on Myspace c. 2005 his favorite music would have been “anything but country lol.”

 

Always has to show you this hilarious video he found on YouTube.

Things We Need To Revisit From The 2017 Grammy Awards

It’s 2017, and we’ll take our heroes where we can find them. We love all our feet-on-the-ground workers and thinkers and doers, but even the Grammy Awards had their slate of performers and guests who saved the show from being a hum-drum night of pop hits and elevated it to the next level. Picks are in no particular order and there’s gonna be a lot of Beyonce. Just so you know.

Beyonce

My explanation for Beyonce’s performance: when you’re in an art museum, and you’re expecting to walk into another gallery room, but it’s actually a video installation and there’s movement, light, color and sound all around you.  Just a few of the amazing features of this performance, because we all know that YouTube video isn’t staying up:

  • Beyonce looking like some kind of pregnant Renaissance painting subject
  • Beyonce also looking like some religious fresco subject
  • Hologram Tina, Bey and Blue
  • That crown. Statue of liberty? Space queen? Egyptian deity? Halo? All of the above?
  • Every single one of those dancers
  • That kind of last supper thing.
  • Bey reenacting the move that always made our teachers tell us that we’d crack our head open if we leaned back in our chair like that.
  • My realization that almost 4 minutes passed before Bey even sang.
  • That time she sang right into all of our souls, personally and individually, all at the same time.
  • Jay-Z’s look of pride and adoration.
Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest is exactly the group we need, back exactly when we need them. This video’s going away soon too (we are waiting and hoping for an official, sanctioned vid), so here’s what we love:

  • The fact that they performed We The People, the same fantastic song they did on SNL just days after the election, which came true in the intervening months.
  • The moniker “President Agent Orange”
  • That classic throwback with Award Tour
  • When the wall broke down
  • The fierce looking hijabi standing center stage
  • Everyone processing down the aisles
  • The raised fist
  • The presence of Phife Dawg so strong it was almost like he was there
Chance The Rapper

Both his win and his performance. I included one of Lil Chano’s Acid Rap songs on our summer 2013 playlist. For a few years after, I was worried that one of the most promising and talented new rappers was out of the scene. Lucky for all of us, Coloring Book is making huge waves. These wins – Best New Artist, Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Album – aren’t JUST huge for Chance’s career, they’re a huge moment for indie rap in general.

“I’m gonna talk. Y’all can play the music if you want. I want to thank God for my team. I know a lot of people think independence means you do it by yourself, but independence means freedom. I do it with these folks right here. Glory be to God, I claim the victory in the name of the Lord, let’s go!”

Adele

I think Adele is incredibly talented. I mean, we’re past objectivity with her: there’s no ‘I think’ about it; Adele IS incredibly talented. That said, I was pulling for Lemonade for the Album Of The Year win. Of all the nominees, I thought it was the best-crafted and most innovative: it was the album that would define 2016, above the others. Still, Adele seems like such a genuine and kind person that I can’t help but be happy for her good fortune. Besides, she was pulling for Lemonade too. She pulled a Cady Heron and broke up her award:

“My artist of my life is Beyonce and this Lemonade album is just monumental. It was so monumental and so well thought-out and soul-baring, and we all got to see another side to you that you don’t always let you see. And all of the artists here, we all fucking adore you. You are our light. And the way you make me feel, the way you make my Black friends feel, is empowering, and you make them stand up for themselves. I love you, and I always will.”

It’s 2017, we’ve come a long way as a people, and Adele just “I’m’a let you finish”-ed herself.

Blue Ivy

Blue Ivy in a pink Gucci power suit with a black panther on the back, because she’s Beyonce’s girl already and you can be adorable and make a statement at the same time.

Blue Ivy cheering for her mother’s win.

Hologram Blue Ivy.

Blue rushing in to the Carpool Karaoke car to save a failing bit.

Blue showing her purse to her bestie during Bey’s speech.

Blue Ivy Carter is our future. It’s her world, and we just live in it.

Blue Ivy’s Friend Madison

This woman of mystery is so enigmatic that I found myself searching “2017 Grammys seating chart,” “Jay Z niece” and “does Beyonce have a cousin.” It took days to learn that Blue’s gal pal is Madison Brown, daughter of Roc-Nation co-founder Jay Brown. Blue Ivy gets a front row guest when half of the entertainment industry can’t even get a ticket (okay, I GUESS Madison was there with her dad), and Madison was living her best life and making the most out of this awesome school night outing. I’d never really want to be famous,  but Blue’s mystery friend proves that having a famous bestie might be the best gig of all. Madison mugged for the camera and, wither her impeccable white-silver dress, proved that she won’t just be singing backup.

Drunk Chrissy Teigen and Helpful John Legend

Chrissy Teigen is hilarious, fun, and exactly the kind of person I would like to have in all of my group texts. She’s also one of my favorite famous people because she DOES.IT.RIGHT. Like, she really enjoys the perks and parties that go with her lifestyle instead of appearing blase or too cool for it. John Legend is every guy trying to figure out how girl clothes and jewelry work, and earned himself an internet Relationship Goals badge in the process (“why would I be mad at you? You’re perfect.” Cherish him, Chrissy. I mean, we know you do.)

True, but unfortunately when you’re single and drunk you have to take off all of your own jewelry, and it’s HARD.


In conclusion, the Grammys were great, A Tribe Called Quest just might save us, Blue Ivy is a blessed child of the light, and Chrissy Teigen is invited to all of my texts forever.