Pop Culture Extra Credit: College Edition

A couple months ago, my alma mater, Emerson College, announced that starting in the Fall of 2016, there will be a new major available to students – a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Comedic Arts, AKA a degree in comedy. Emerson is a communication and arts school where being a musical theatre major doesn’t make you a nerd and Quidditch is the top sport. We’re known for having unusual or quirky things that you wouldn’t find at a “normal” college. When I first heard the news, I thought, ‘Oh, that makes sense’. The school already offers classes on things like puppetry and “Queer TV After Ellen Came Out”, so yeah, a comedy major sounds about right.

However, it was a much bigger question mark to the rest of the world who went to schools that had classes like Accounting and football teams. Emerson even got a mention from Seth Meyers who suggested students can “just take your tuition money and burn it in front of your parents.” Fair.

So with kids heading back to college over the next few weeks, I thought that there must be other schools out there that offer odd, or pop culture-centric classes. Luckily, the American educational system did not let me down. Here are just a few courses you can take right now – did you guys take any weird classes in college?

Emerson College {Boston, MA}

TV Creators: Understanding the Whedonesque

Description:

This course will use the career of Joss Whedon to introduce students to the variety of positions in the entertainment industry and their potential for fulfilling and creative work… By examining his work at various stages, students will better understand auteur theory, modern industrial entertainment production, and artistic production across media. Works covered include: Roseanne, Alien: Resurrection, Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a film and TV series, Angel, Firefly and Serenity, Dollhouse, The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing, Buffy: Season Eight, and Astonishing X-Men.

Class Notes:

Surprisingly enough, I’m not too familiar with the Whedonverse. The closest I’ve ever gotten is watching Dr. Horrible multiple times over. Back in my day, this class was specifically about dissecting Buffy, and not any of Joss Whedon’s other works. My friend (who shall not be named because in her words, ‘I have a reputation to uphold’) took the Buffy class and had this to say about it: “12-year-old me couldn’t believe she was watching one of her favorite shows in class to achieve a real college degree, but it was surprisingly one of the most demanding classes (work load wise) that I have ever taken.” As I think we’re going to find with the rest of these courses, it may sound silly at first, but it’s probably really interesting and a lot of work.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology {Cambridge, MA}

Topics in Comparative Media: American Pro Wrestling

well this is frightening

Description:

This class will explore the cultural history and media industry surrounding the masculine drama of professional wrestling. Beginning with wrestling’s roots in sport and carnival, the class examines how new technologies and changes in the television industry led to evolution for pro wrestling style and promotion and how shifts in wrestling characters demonstrate changes in the depiction of American masculinity. The class will move chronologically in an examination of how wrestling characters and performances have changed, focusing particularly on the 1950s to the present. Students may have previous knowledge of wrestling but are not required to, nor are they required to be a fan (although it is certainly not discouraged, either).

Class Notes:

Exactly what major is this class fulfilling? I particularly like the disclaimer at the end. ‘You don’t have to be a fan of WWE… except you should probably be if you’re spending money on this class.”

Rutgers University {New Jersey}

Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyoncé

Description:

Calling all the single ladies: this exploration into Queen Bey’s influence on feminism, race, gender, and culture helps students become more aware of the way in which pop culture shapes society. Most classes that are named for celebrities deal with sociologies of fame or psychologies of human behavior, but Kevin Allred’s version zeroes in on politics. By juxtaposing Beyoncé’s song lyrics with readings by distinguished black leaders like Sojourner Truth and Octavia Butler, students ask and attempt to answer the question, “Can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?” Yet the more appropriate question may be: Who runs the world? Beyoncé.

Class Notes:

Sign. Me. Up. The person who wrote this description is clearly a member of the BeyHive, so that’s already a plus. But like previously mentioned, this class sounds hard as shiiiit. But that’s what you get when you break down the genius that is Queen B.

Georgia Regents College {Augusta, Georgia}

Good Kids, Mad Cities

Description:

Taking its name from Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 album, this course will examine the role of urban living on the development of young people. In Kendrick’s case, “the streets sure to release the worst side of my best” (Lamar 58). By studying and analyzing various literature, films, and K. Dot’s album, we will consider what effects our characters’ surroundings have on who they become as adults. The cities we will be visiting, in our imaginations, are Dublin, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Class Notes:

This class should be offered at more colleges, TBH.

Middlebury College {Middlebury, Vermont}

Urban America & Serial Television: Watching The Wire

Description:

Frequently hailed as a masterpiece of American television, The Wire shines a light on urban decay in contemporary America, creating a dramatic portrait of Baltimore’s police, drug trade, shipping docks, city hall, public schools, and newspapers over five serialized seasons. In this course, we will watch and discuss all of this remarkable-and remarkably entertaining-series, and place it within the dual contexts of contemporary American society and the aesthetics of television. This is a time-intensive course with a focus on close viewing and discussion, and opportunities for critical analysis and research about the show’s social contexts and aesthetic practices.

Class Notes:

I would take this class for one reason, the same one reason I watch the entirety of The Wire in the first place: Mr. Idris Elba. God bless.

Colorado College {Colorado Springs, Colorado}

Queen Bees, WannaBees, and Mean Girls

Description:

Queen Bees, WannaBees, and Mean Girls explores the means and motives behind why women seek authority and the actions they are willing to take in order to hold onto it. Students will examine this concept through the use of literary works and movies, such as the 2004 film Mean Girls.

Class Notes:

Temporarily ignoring the fact that first sentence makes it seem like this class is slightly sexist, it would be interesting to take a look into this culture of mean girls. And obviously, the class would have to be held on Wednesdays.

American University {Washington, D.C.}

Contemporary American Culture: Hunger Games

Description:

The Hunger Games trilogy is a publishing phenomenon that has dramatically impacted American popular culture. Using the series as a case study, this course examines the interplay of class, politics, ethics, and marketing. Topics covered include oppression, feminism, food deserts, rebellion, the publishing industry, and social media marketing. 

Class Notes:

Hunger Games isn’t just for kids, y’all. I also read “food deserts” as “food desserts” and immediately started to think what significance desserts had in the books, scouring my brain to remember Katniss’ fave food – then I realized it said “deserts” as in, the lack of food pretty much everywhere besides the Capitol. The Hunger Game isn’t just for kids, y’all.

Georgetown University {Washington, D.C.}

Philosophy and Star Trek

Description:

Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to do philosophy, but to watch Star Trek, read philosophy and hash it all out in class? That’s the plan. This course will center on topics in metaphysics that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments. Questions we will wrestle with include:

I. Is time travel possible? Could you go back and kill your grandmother? What is time?
II. What is the relation between your mind and your brain–are they separate items or identical? Can persons survive death? Could a machine someday think? Is Data a person?
III. What is a person? Must you have the same body to be you? Same memories? When do we have one person, and when do we have two (think of the episodes where people “split” or “fuse”).
IV. Do you have free will, or are you determined by the laws of nature to do exactly what you wind up doing (while believing you have free will)? Or both? What is freewill?

Class Notes:

This description is VERY thorough. Not only that, but seems questionable. For instance, why is one of the questions, “Could you go back and kill your grandmother?”. First of all, it should be “Would”. Second of all, what? Is this a plot point in the Star Trek series? If yes, WHY? Also, “What is a person?” ??? This could be a very deep and depressing conversation I personally wouldn’t want to have in a classroom setting.

Georgia State University {Atlanta, Georgia}

American Poetry: Kanye vs. Everybody

kanye vs

Description:

According to the syllabus, Kanye makes for a useful lens through which to “investigate the continuous development of African American poetry and poetics—the uses of language and literature to represent blackness and Americanness in particular—observing shifting meanings in and of the text with important considerations of race, class, gender, and sexuality.” Throughout the semester, students decode Kanye’s work and interviews, which Dr. Heath believes help draw a line from the Harlem Renaissance to the black nationalist era to current-day hip-hop.

Class Notes:

Can’t tell if Kanye would love this course or disagree with it so much he’ll interrupt during class to say just how much he hates it. Is that a dated reference? Him and TSwift are all good now? Ok.

University at Buffalo {Buffalo, New York}

Breaking Down “Breaking Bad”

Description:

“Breaking Bad” was one of the most spectacular narrative achievements in television. Its five seasons comprised some 60 hours of a single narrative arc, something no film or television program (cable or commercial) has ever accomplished… In this seminar, we’ll take a close look at all the components of the series; we’ll talk about what was done, how it was done, why it worked. There is one prerequisite: that members of the seminar have seen the series before the seminar’s first meeting. We’re going to be studying it, not greeting it. We’ll look at some segments during the semester, but only so we can deconstruct the work. I’ll expect participants to do class presentations on different aspects of the epic, and a term paper on a topic of their choice.

Class Notes:

Unlike the American wrestling course, watching the series IS a pre req to being in this class. Luckily, most people on this planet have watched Breaking Bad. There’s gotta be something meta about teaching a class about a show that features a chemistry teacher who isn’t the greatest teacher.

University of California, Berkeley {Berkeley, California}

Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows”

Description:

TV “Judge” shows have become extremely popular in the last 3-5 years. A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again. For example, when asked “Did you hit the plaintiff?” respondents often say, “If I woulda hit him, he’d be dead!” This reply avoids answering “yes” or “no” by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called “a fortiori” argument “from the stronger” in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court”and discussing why such strategies are so widespread. It is NOT a course about law or “legal reasoning” Students who are interested in logic, argument, TV, and American popular culture will probably be interested in this course. I emphasize that it is NOT about the application of law or the operations of the court system in general.

Class Notes:

As the lawyer of this Cookies + Sangria duo, I’m sure Molly can support or oppose this much better than I can, but in theory, this class actually sounds more interesting than it should? Although I hate watching court show, I’m sure there’s a psychology to it that can be studied. Or just a reminder of how stupid Americans can be.

 

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TV Dads That Will Make You Grateful For Your Real Dad

It’s Father’s Day on Sunday, and it’s a time to celebrate and recognize all the dedication and love our fathers give to us as their children throughout the year and every year. But we all know that sometimes it isn’t rainbows and butterflies with our parents. Not everyone can be as wise and profound as the Coach Taylors and Zeek/Adam Bravermans of the world. Parents all have their moments. And on television, those moments can be dramatized to the max degree. As you shower your dad with all the food and love this weekend, just remember that it could always be worse. Your dad could be like any one of these fictional fathers, so just be grateful this Sunday that your dad doesn’t sell meth or openly cheating on your mom with multiple women.

Walter White

{Breaking Bad}

I mean, if you watched any of Breaking Bad, I don’t really have to explain why he’s on this list, do I? He started as a high school chemistry teacher with lung cancer and in the most poetic, Greek tragedy way possible, he turned into the baddest man in all of New Mexico, and possibly the world. While he claimed to be making and selling drugs to help his family, in the end he was only helping himself, and even practically kidnapped his daughter towards the end of the series. You can’t even call that bad parenting because it isn’t even parenting.

President Fitzgerald Grant

{Scandal}

It’s clear Fitz loves his kids and would do anything to help them if they’re in trouble, but when you’re the president of the United States, and you send your kids to boarding school, have a baby with the wife you don’t really like just to keep up appearances AND have an extramarital affair that said wife knows about, you have a few more cons than the pro side on the list.

George Bluth, Sr. and Oscar Bluth

{Arrested Development}

Well, here you have George Bluth, Sr., a man incarcerated for fraud and who also built houses for Saddam Hussein. He doesn’t seem to really care about his kids and is willing to put them at risk for his own benefit (this is a comedy). And then you have his twin brother Oscar, who is the real dad to Buster, who knows this and doesn’t really give af. What do you expect from this family, though?

Lou Smith

{Fresh Prince of Bel-Air}

If you ever want a good cry, watch this clip. Will was so much better for moving out to Bel-Air, and it makes my heart cry fictional tears knowing the real Uncle Phil/James Avery has passed away 😦

Christopher Hayden

{Gilmore Girls}

Ok, in his defense, he did become a better father throughout the series. However in the beginning, he was just some guy in a motorcycle who couldn’t hold a job and left Lorelai to take care of Rory on her own. Again, they were 16, so I guess he has *sort of* an excuse, but not really. Luckily, Christopher made up for it in the later years, but he was still douchey in the beginning. #LukeAndLorelaiForever

Joe McCoy

{Friday Night Lights}

Photo Jun 18, 11 30 38 PMSometimes, when I rewatch season three of FNL, I fast forward through the JD/Joe McCoy parts because he’s just that annoying. Joe is the father to star quarterback and new Dillon Panthers player JD, and Joe is like a stage/dance mom but in the football field. He’s overprotective, overbearing, and a downright asshole. He put a lot of pressure on JD to do well on the team, and doesn’t even allow him to drink soda or eat candy or watch TV because it will make him distracted from football. Also, no girls – which was proven in the ep where Joe gets mad JD’s dating a girl, and he ends up physically hurting him and the American treasures the Taylors have to call child protective services. He’s a delight.

Mike Potter

{Dawson’s Creek}

Joey’s dad not only cheated on her mom/his wife before she died, he also got caught for selling drugs, which is why he is in jail. He gets released at the end of season one, but then starts dealing drugs again and Joey is the one who turns him in, because that’s what daughter’s do. He’s in jail for a majority of the rest of the season, until Joey goes to talk to him and finds out he got released but didn’t tell anyone. Not even his daughters.

Bart Bass

{Gossip Girl}

Honestly, so much shit went down on Gossip Girl that I hardly remember what happened. I don’t think I even knew what was happening when the show was on the air. I do remember that Bart was always an asshole, especially to his son Chuck, who he lied to about being dead, took back Bass Industries from him and tried to maybe kill him? IDK, he just looks skeezy, ya know?

Thatcher Grey

{Grey’s Anatomy}

So Meredith Grey hasn’t had a life that’s been ideal. Her aesthetic is more dark and twisted. A lot of that has to do with her parents. First her mom, the revered surgeon Dr. Ellis Grey, had an affair with Dr. Richard Webber and they had a secret daughter no one knew about, and after they broke up, Ellis attempted suicide and a young Meredith watched it all happen. Then she got Alzheimer’s and on top of all this, Ellis was overbearing and thought Meredith was “ordinary”. Enter Thatcher, who left when Mer was five years old, and didn’t even attempt to contact her for 20 years. He remarried and had two daughters, including Lexie, who would later work at Seattle Grace/Mercy West/Grey Sloan Memorial. He’s also an alcoholic, and a few seasons in, he comes to the hospital in hopes of getting a liver transplant. He returned to the hospital when his wife had weird symptoms, which turned out to be a weird fatal thing and got mad at Mer and blamed her for her death (see scene above).

Don Draper

{Mad Men}

It’s barely been a month and I still miss Don. He’s like Fitz, where I know he’s doing morally wrong things, but I can’t help but sympathize and like him. Don didn’t have a father or mother figure of his own growing up as the illegitimate son of a prostitute. He barely had a family, and as a result, didn’t know what to do when he actually had one. The only kid he’s even close to at all is Sally, and that wasn’t until later on in the series. Not to mention he slept with her teacher and then left his door open for Sally to see him having sex with his neighbor. Plus Baby Gene was born out of sloppy sex on the floor of Betty’s parents’ home. Bobby was basically irrelevant based on the actor turnover alone. Don especially seemed to neglect his kids after his split with Betty, and as much as he tried, it seemed like he was just going through the motions of being a father rather than really trying to be a good one.

 

Tres Por Tres and Other TV Shows Lost in Translation

I was recently having a conversation about Full House, as you do, and my one friend, who is originally from Colombia, mentioned that when she watched it back home, Full House was called Tres Por Tres. Translated, this means Three by (for) Three, which quite literally is the premise of the show – three daughters and three men raising them. We obviously proceeded to look up YouTube clips and found out that in the opening credits, there’s a woman introducing each actor. Is this necessary? Probably not, but it’s entertaining.

And then she remembered that while everyone else’s name is the same (and Kimmy is ‘Kyyymmeee’), DJ is “Dejota” and we simply could not get over this. In fact we made it into a hashtag because Deej’s name en Español is so fun to say. You can hear Kyyymmeee say her name quickly at 1:55 in the clip below:

Either I’m fluent in Spanish or I understood all that because I’ve seen that episode so many times it’s almost embarrassing (a combo of both). Of course Full House isn’t the only show called something completely different in another language. Here are a few other programs that aren’t exactly what you’d expect they’d be titled around the world.

Arrested Development

Sweden: Firma Ruffel & Bygg  = Company Monkey Business & Construction

To be fair, “Company” and “Construction” are probably giving too much credit to The Bluth Company.

Six Feet Under

Russia: Клиент всегда мертв = The Customer Is Always Dead

It’s actually the customer’s family member that’s always dead, but vodka/vodka, right, Russia?

Breaking Bad

Bulgaria: В обувките на Сатаната = In The Shoes Of Satan

Creepily accurate.

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

Brazil: Um Maluco no Pedaço = A Crazy in the Area

Fortunately, the Crazy in the area turned into the permanent crazy in the neighborhood.

Murder, She Wrote

Germany: Mord ist ihr Hobby = Murder Is Her Hobby

I’ve actually never seen an episode of Murder, She Wrote, so is this title right, or not? What am I missing here???

Two and A Half Men

Germany: Mein cooler Onkel Charlie = My Cool Uncle Charlie

The Germans probably weren’t expecting Charlie Sheen to go all Tiger Blood and die (twice) *spoiler alert?? ugh who cares* when they chose that title.

Pretty Little Liars

Finland: Valehtelevat viettelijät = False Seducer

DOES FINLAND KNOW SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW?? IS -A FINNISH?? IS ARIA -A BECAUSE SHE USED TO LIVE IN ICELAND AND THAT KINDA NEAR FINLAND?? THEORIZE, LIARS!

The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Poland: Tajemnica Amy = Mystery Amy

Is Poland doing an ABC Family crossover with PLL? What’s the mystery with a girl who got knocked up at 15?

Gilmore Girls

Poland: Kochane klopoty = Dear Trouble

I know Gilmore Girls backwards and forwards and I still don’t understand why it’s translated into “Dear Trouble”.

30 Rock

Brazil: Um Maluco na TV = A Crazy on TV

Just ONE crazy on TV? There’s too many to choose from.

Beverly Hills, 90210

Brazil:  Barrados no Baile = Barred From the Dance

Again, I’ve never seen a full episode of Bev Hills, but I’m assuming like many teen dramas, there are a fair share of dances, and I’m under the impression these kids were cool enough to at least attend one spring fling.

How I Met Your Mother

Finland: Ensisilmäyksellä = At First Glance

OKAY but Finland is up to something here. Based on what happened in the finale, did Finnish Craig Thomas and Carter Bays purposely title it At First Glance as a call back to the pilot when Ted first puts his eyes on Robin?? Because At First Glance is wayyyy less misleading of a title than How I Met Your Mother.

Scrubs

French: Toubib or not toubib = Doctor or Not Doctor

The answer is: ‘Barely’.

Everybody Loves Raymond

Israel: Mishpacah Lo Bochrim (משפחה לא בוחרים) = You Can’t Choose Your Family

While the Israelis have a good grasp of the concept, Everybody Loves Raymond executive producer Philip Rosenthal took his efforts to Russia in hopes of creating a version of the show in Russia called Voroniny, a play off the family name. He documented his journey in a documentary called Exporting Raymond, which is a great watch if you’re into this stuff and have read this far.

Married… With Children

Estonia: Tuvikesed = Pigeons

Estonia thinks they’re pigeons, and Hungarians call them “A Terribly Nice Family”… which one is the real show??

The Final Goodbye: Television’s Best Series Finales

It seems like just yesterday we were introduced to Chemistry teach Mr. Walter White and his ex-student Jesse Pinkman, who became entrepreneurs with their booming meth business. And for some of you, it was like yesterday if you’re of the late-to-the-party-binge-watching ilk. And this weekend, it all comes crashing down to an anxiety-ridden end. Will Jesse die? What will happen to Skyler, Walt Jr. Flynn & Holly? Will Todd kill any more people? Who will Walt use the Ricin on?  Will anyone in ABQ ever have an A1 day?

While we anticipate Sunday’s series finale, I decided to take a look at some of my personal favorite series finales. To be clear, I only considered shows I’ve seen from beginning to end, so don’t complain that The Sopranos finale isn’t on here because I’ve never seen it. Buuut I would like to hear what your favorite series finales are! And then at approx 10:16pm on Sunday, we can all add Breaking Bad to that list and cry together knowing there will never be a new episode of one of the greatest TV shows ever again.

(In chronological order) ((Also, spoiler alert??))

Friends (1994-2004)

Besides being one of the most legendary sitcoms in TV history, Friends also has a special place in my heart as well. It was the first show that I ever became obsessed with – to the point where I wore out the VHS tapes I used to tape every episode on. I went through the seasons multiple times, reference it daily, held day long marathons called ‘Friends-travaganzas’ and it even had some influence on this very blog (In high school, Molly & I made a bet on who we thought the father of Rachel’s baby was going to be, and the winner had to buy the loser our cafeteria’s famous cookies. We both lost.)

That being said, as a fan of a series for 10 years, you want the last episode to wrap up everything in a nice package with a perfect bow. You want the best for the people/characters you’ve spent the past 10 years laughing with. And the finale did just that. Monica and Chandler finally got the family they desperately wanted, Phoebe was also able to find a family she never really hard growing up with her husband Mike, and after their epic on-again, off-again relationship, Rachel got off the plane and promised that ‘this was it’ with Ross and they could build upon their own family too (My only qualm is that Joey still didn’t end up with anyone, even if it was because of the awful spin-off).

Co-creator David Crane has said that he and Marta Kaufmann were inspired to write about their own lives, living in NYC in their 20s. They pitched the show as such: “It’s about searching for love and commitment and security, and the fear of love and commitment and security. It’s about friendship – because when you’re young and single in the city, your friends are your family.” And in the end, all the characters achieved and surpassed that. The finale was like a graduation for the gang, even though they spent pretty much the past 10 years relying on each other, the end of the series signified that their friends weren’t the ‘ultimate family’ anymore. It was time to go make their own.

Six Feet Under (2001-2005)

I binge-watched Six Feet Under last year, and even though I found it too dark for my taste at times, overall it lived up to its hype. Not only that, but the finale was everything that people said it would be. Seriously, just watch SFU for the finale alone. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil anything, but the last montage ^AS SEEN ABOVE, SO DON’T WATCH IT IF YOU PLAN ON WATCHING IT IN THE FUTURE^^ is the best, most genius, satisfying ending I’ve ever seen. I honestly can’t even talk about it because it is that good.

Friday Night Lights (2006-2011)

Much like Six Feet Under, I was a little late to the Friday Night Lights game – and I’m assuming most of its fans are. Right after the series finale aired in May, the entire show was available on Netflix Instant – a moment I had been waiting for for years! I spent the summer (ok, like a month and a half) of 2011 bonding with Netflix, the Taylors and Tim Riggins abs. It was one of those instances where all I could think about was the Panthers. I would be at work just dreaming about what would happen next, and rushing home to watch the next episode.

But when it came down to the final season, I had mixed feelings. I wanted to know what happened to the gang, but absolutely did not want it to end. The problem was that I watched it so fast that five years of drama in Dillon was condensed into just a few weeks – but it was there. The bond I had with the team was there. It literally took me almost as long to watch the final five episodes, particularly the finale, than it did to watch the whole thing. But when it did, it was perfect. Stories were tied up, characters found their happy endings, and Mr. and Mrs. Coach were still the perfect role models they were from the pilot. Clear eyes. Full Hearts…

30 Rock (2006-2013)

There’s a reason why 30 Rock has won 16 Emmy Awards – it’s just that good. It’s a rare breed of show that has been able to be intelligent, biting, sentimental and most importantly funny throughout the seven seasons on air. The combination of the final three episodes was incredibly fulfilling for all 30 Rock fans, as the show highlighted everything we loved about it in the first place. Liz dealing with the ragtag group of writers, Jenna vying for attention, and Kenneth, well Kenneth ends up exactly where he was meant to be all along.

The Office (2005-2013)

Add The Office right next to Friends, because this show is one of my all-time favorites. Now I admit that the show kind of lagged towards the end of its run, but I maintain that it was still funnier than most shows on TV at the time. In my opinion, NBC landed the jackpot with smart comedies like 30 Rock, Parks and Rec, Community, and of course, The Office. Executive Producer Greg Daniels proved that he could not only adopt the UK version, but alter it to fancy American audiences and make it last twice as long as its namesake.

For me, The Office blended that perfect mix of comedy with heart, that only few shows have been able to master. The perfect example of this is in the boss himself, Michael Scott. He may have done asinine things like almost commit suicide in order to show the risks of depression and suicide, or hold a funeral for a bird in order to cope with the death of a former co-worker or organize the ‘Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race For The Cure’. When you whittle it down, he does all these things because he cares. He cares about his employees, the people who became his friends, and ultimately his family.

The entire Dunder Mifflin Scranton branch may have been filled with shenanigans, feuds, intertwining relationships but as seen in the series finale, they all went through the documentary together – as a family. Not to be a broken record, but the show came full circle – from Angela and Dwight, to Michael’s surprise appearance and That’s What She Said moment, to Jim and Pam finally getting to courage to do what they wanted- get out of the rut they were in in Scranton. In honestly couldn’t have ended any better (and if we’re speaking honestly here, I’d say it’s my number one finale in this whole list). It was so good in fact, that I still haven’t been able to get myself to watch an entire episode of The Office since – I couldn’t even make it through the first 10 seconds of this video without crying…. I might have a problem.

BONUS:

ER (1994-2009)

Alright, I admit, I’ve probably only seen 10 out of the 15 seasons of ER, give or take a few episodes throughout the last five. But come on, 15 seasons is one hell of a commitment. The cast changes, writers and executive producers come and go, but through the heart of it all, it was always about these doctors, and their relationships with their patients and each other.

Clearly the heyday of ER was towards the beginning, when Noah Wyle, Anthony Edwards, Juliana Margulies and some guy named George Clooney started off as regular folk on a medical TV drama. It was really nothing like TV had seen before, and became a critically acclaimed hit, essentially paving the way for Shondaland and Grey’s to leave its own mark on TV. And while it may have stumbled towards the end, the finale was purposefully (and wonderfully) mirrored the pilot, a full circle maneuver that I personally enjoy in any series.

For me, the most poignant part of the finale was seeing Rachel Greene, daughter of the hospital’s late Dr. Mark Greene, come back to County General in hopes to follow in the footsteps of her revered father. In the early seasons, viewers saw Rachel as a kid wandering around the ER aimlessly, but now she had a purpose. The end scene (as seen above), may not be too flashy, but it’s a reminder that even if we don’t get to see what happens in this hospital for another 15 years, it will keep on going without us.

Breaking Up with Breaking Bad: 11 WTF Scenes We Leave Behind

Has everyone recovered from Sunday’s episode of Breaking Bad yet? Are we still in denial that that was the last season premiere ever? The correct answers are no, and yes, respectively.

With Breaking Bad’s last eight (now seven) episodes airing in the next couple of months, it prompts us to reflect on the past five seasons with shock and awe, wondering how we ever lived without this show in our lives.

It made us laugh, made us cry, made us angry, and probably most paramount of all – make us scream WHAT THE FUCK at our TV screens like lunatics time after time.

So while we impatiently await the next episode but still want it to never end, the least we can do is take a look back at some of the greatest WTF moments throughout the years.

Season 1, Episode 2: Cat’s in the Bag

It’s only the series’ second episode, and (creator) Vince Gilligan has the balls to write something like this scene. Actually, one of the reasons I’m assuming he wrote the infamous bathtub scene is that he wanted to show that ‘hey, this isn’t a regular TV show. We’re taking risks here and you should watch what we’re doing.’ If that’s what he was going for, it worked, because this was the first time I realized this show was going to be like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Also it was absolutely disgusting.

Season 1, Episode 6: Crazy Handful of Nothin’

In addition to the dead tub guy (a drug dealer), Walt manages to kill another dealer,  Krazy-8, just three episodes in. The guy who replaces Krazy-8 is a guy named Tuco, who we see a lot of in the series. When Jesse goes to make a deal with Tuco, he gets beat up bad, and steals the meth. In retaliation of stealing Walt’s precious blue drug, he blows up Tuco’s safe house by throwing a crystalline nugget to the floor. SCIENCE, BITCH.

Season 2, Episode 12: Phoenix

This is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the entire series. Jesse finally finds love with Jane (played by Krysten Ritter), who I only knew as Rory’s annoying friend at Yale on Gilmore Girls. Anyways, although they were both users, Jesse found someone – and somewhere- to focus his life on besides drug dealing. And it all went down the drain overnight when they used and fell asleep. Meanwhile, Walt makes a deal with Gus (our good amigo Gus), who offers to buy the blue meth but gives him only an hour to deliver the drugs. Obviously Jesse isn’t answering bc he’s half dead, so Walt breaks into his apartment to find the J + J asleep – until Jane turns over it all goes downhill. Walt watches Jane die without helping her, and we watch Walter White turn into Heisenberg in mere seconds.

Season 3, Episode 7: One Minute

{starts at 3:49}

It’s Hank Vs. the scary as hell Salamanca twins. That’s all you need to know. There is blood involved. You need to know that too.

Season 3, Episode 12: Half Measures

Jesse wants revenge against the drug dealers who killed his buddy Combo, and who are also selling Walt & Jesse’s blue meth. The only catch is that the guys are using an 11-year-old kid to sell the drugs – and he was the one who shot Jesse friend too. But because Jesse’s main character ‘flaw’ is that he’s good at heart, he can’t go through with killing the dealers. So when they’re about to come face to face, Walt rolls in to “save the day” … in his own Heisenberg way.

Season 3, Episode 13: Full Measure

One of the best season finales ever,  Walt orders Jesse kills Gale, the nerdy chemist who is the only one who can perfectly duplicate WW’s blue meth recipe. But again, Jesse needs to prove himself by letting go of his ‘conscience’ and just kill Gale. Except the episode ends with the camera on Jesse, staring down the barrel of the gun, pointing it directly into Gale’s face, and the screen fades to black. HELLO?!

Season 4, Episode 1: Box Cutter

We had to wait an entire year – A YEAR – to find out what happened after Jesse shot Gale. So suck on that all you binge watchers – try waiting an entire year for a resolution to the Gale story. But this – this episode showed us just how much of a monster Gus was. Warning: a lot of blood. A LOT.

Season 4, Episode 13: Face Off

Easily the most shocking thing that’s ever happened in the history of television, I bet my entire DVD collection that no one could have seen this coming. I had to watch it at least three times to make sure it really happened. HIS. FUCKING. TIE.

Season 5, Episode 5: Dead Freight

Oh hey, Landry from Friday Night Lights! You’re such a good guy – except for that time in season two when you *SPOILER ALERT* killed the guy who attacked Tyra and threw his body into the river. But I mean other than that, you’re just a kid who made it on the football team and loves playing in a metal band called Crucifictorious, so you definitely wouldn’t be able to kill an innocent kid who just happened to stumble upon an illegal scheme. Oh that’s right – you’re not Landry, you’re crazy Todd, who would ACTUALLY DO THAT.

Season 5, Episode 7: Say My Name

{starts at 3:05}

TBH, I didn’t really care that much for Mike, until season five. We saw the softer side of him, and we also saw Jesse bond with Mike in a way that he never could with Walt. So by the time this episode came around, it was absolutely heartbreaking to see him go after being so close to getting out of the business.

Season 5, Episode 8: Gilding Over All

Before Walt killed Mike, he refused to give up the name of his nine henchmen, who Mike had been paying off to keep their mouths shut. Mike manages to get the names from Lydia, and Walt arranges for all nine guys + Mike’s lawyer to all be killed at once. Thanks to Landry’s Todd’s ties to some Aryan gang in the prison (because fucker is shady as shit), the prisoners kill the nine guys all at once in one of the most scary scenes I’ve ever scene. I don’t like horror movies, but this is more than good enough to take its place.

BONUS

Season 4, Episode 11: Crawl Space

Because, acting. #ALLTHEAWARDS

Whatareyoudoinghere: Unexpected Guest Stars of Veronica Mars

I was one of those latecomers that only got into Veronica Mars when was available on Netflix Instant a year or two ago. I was immediately hooked, and scolded myself for judging the show by its name (Veronica MARS who lived in NEPTUNE??? Def some kind of sci-fi show I wasn’t interested in). But fast forward to my Netflix marathon days and I watched eps nonstop, then proceeded to purchase the DVDs once they took it off instant.

Anyways, from the beginning, I noticed that a lot of random celebs appeared on VMars. Some were famous before the show, and some reached their fame after their appearance. The obvious one is Amanda Seyfried, who played Lilly Kane, Veronica’s bestie, Duncan’s brother, and Logan’s main boo. Oh and she was mysteriously killed, so pretty much the all of season one and season two focus on her murder. Ugh Harry Hamlin.

Because of the future Mamma Mia star, I proceeded to make a list of some notable names who I was surprised to see in Neptune.

PS: gold star and +50 points if you got the Californians ref in the post title.

Paris Hilton

Season 1, Episode 2

Props to Paris for signing up to be a guest star so early on in the show. Although she probs would’ve taken any role she was given money for, so nevermind. I will admit that I was super jeal of her because she played Logan’s new GF. Logan *sigh*

Jessica Chastain

Season 1, Episode 7

Jessica was recently on Jay Leno recalling how although it seems like she’s an overnight Oscar nominee, she graduated from Julliard and was in various TV shows – including V Mars. She played a character involved in one of the darkest storylines ever done on the show, a pregnant woman who lived next door to Veronica, who went missing. Turns out her stepfather raped her, and just as she was going to shoot him in self defense, Veronica’s dad shoots him to safe her life. Srs business, y’all.

Aaron Paul

Season 1, Episode 11

Before he was a maker of meth, Jesse Pinkman was accused to being a serial killer. So I mean, he has a history of playing troubled characters (RIP Gale).

Leighton Meester

Season 1, Episodes 14 & 21

Spotted: Young B playing Carrie Bishop, queen of the rich ’09ers (sound familiar?). She accuses Veronica’s favorite teacher, Mr. Rooks of having an affair with her, so VMars sets out to prove that he’s innocent. She finds out that not only did Rooks have an affair, it was actually with Carrie’s BFF, who got preggo from the scandalous tryst. So Carrie decided to press charges against him for herself.

Adam Scott

Season 1, Episode 14

Oh, BTW, the guy who played teen predator Mr. Rooks? THIS GUY.

Ben Wyatt/Knope, I still love you. Even if you were a creeper.

lit’rally took me forever to decide which pic to use because i love him so much

Lucas Grabeel

Season 2, Episode 14

The High School Musical alum played Kelly Kuzzio, a baseball jock who was secretly gay. Not like he’s ever played a gay guy before.

Kristin Cavallari

Season 2, Episode 14

Kristin, the only villain who looked sane next to Speidi, made her scripted TV debut and she played a cheerleader. Oh sorry, a LESBIAN cheerleader. It was great. I mean her acting wasn’t but just the entire thing it general was great.

Zachery Ty Bryan

Season 1, Episode 15 & 17

Usually the middle child gets the shaft, but on Home Improvement, I always thought eldest kid Brad got the short end of the stick. I mean the middle child was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, like how do you compare with that? I remember as much about Brad’s plot line as I do of his brief stint on VM. Which is that he played basketball and drove a car.

JTT

Season 1, Episode 18

Speak of the devil. I was never one of those girls who fawned over JTT. I didn’t get it. Still don’t. Which is why that although I appreciate his rare TV appearance on a UPN show in 2005, I remember his guest starring role mostly because this was the first episode where Veronica and Logan kissed. I mean he played an ATF agent who went undercover as a high school student, so that was cool, I guess. But VERONICA AND LOGAN!! They had an epic kind of love, you know? One that  spanned years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed, epic.

Rider Strong

Season 3, Episode 2

Good old Shawn Hunter played an asshole classmate of Logan and Wallace in a college class, where they participated in some prison experiment. IDK, basically he made the kid from Freaks and Geeks pee his pants.

Matt Czuchry

Season 3, Episode 4

Logan Huntzberger from my fave Gilmore Girls uses his reporter skills as he pretends to be Logan Echolls’ half-brother just to get a story. Whoa, that got confusing even for me. Again, forget about Matt for a sec because this was a great episode for Jason Dohring who got to show his dramatic side after he found out he still didn’t come close to getting to know his half-brother.

Dianna Agron

Season 3, Episodes 5, 15, & 19

Incidentally, Dianna played a college kid in VMars, and then went on to play a high school cheerleader/wheelchair bound/walking Yale student miracle on Glee.

Paul Rudd

Season 3, Episode 17

The great Paul Rudd is actually BFFs with show creator Rob Thomas, which explains his involvement with VM and with Rob’s follow up show, the hilarious Party Down. Paul plays a washed-up rock star who’s playing at Hearst College, and is a drunk nut job. One of my all-time lines from the show comes from this episode, as seen above.

Max Greenfield

Recurring character

I saved the best for last. Before New Girl was New Girl, I saw promos for the show, and put it on my list immediately because Max Greenfield was in it. At the time, he was only Deputy Leo to me, the handsome, smiley, police officer who Veronica canoodled with in the first season. Unfortunately their love dwindled, but only because she was falling for Logan. And I was ok with that. But now, he can’t be anything else but Schmidt.

Logan TYFYT