Gilmore Girls Revival Town Meeting: Pool Parties, Musicals, And The 30-Something Gang

It was a little difficult for both of us to start Summer, because it meant that we were more than halfway through A Year In The Life. But who are we kidding – it was a little hard for us to start ALL of the episodes because we can’t be chill and normal when it comes to Gilmore Girls. In Summer, the conflicts that Rory and Lorelai are dealing with come to a head. Also Stars Hollow has a pool and a star-studded musical.

M: Stars Hollow has a pool. Stars Hollow has always had a pool, maybe? Lorelai and Rory are pool people, I guess? To be fair, we didn’t see much summer during the original series.

T: Everything the girls say about the pool I couldn’t agree with more. “The pool only makes you hotter”, “The chlorine, the algaecides, the bodily fluids that shall remain nameless (kid pee)”.
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M: April is over for dinner, because we can’t unwrite that plot point even if we’d like to. She’s now a pseudo-hippie college kid who makes a big deal out of the fact that she smokes pot (once). Hats off (slouchy wannabe rasta hat) to Vanessa Marano who perfectly steps back into the role of April, voice and all. It must be so strange to walk into a role 10 years after you left it when the same amount of time has elapsed for the character.

T: And while I wasn’t entire Team April during the OG series, I must say I loved what she turned out to be in the revival. Of COURSE she pretends to have a nose ring and brag that she walks the MIT halls with her idol Noam Chomsky, only to confess to Rory none of what she said is true. At heart, April just wants to be cool and fit in, which might not happen for her – and it’s totally OK. I also enjoyed that the pretty much step-sisters have a scene together, something we never really got in the OG series. There was of course the one time in Philadelphia, but the fact that April confided in Rory this time around to admit she had been exaggerating the truth shows the confidence in their friendship and family ties to go to her “sibling” for advice.

T: I know Luke is a millionaire, but why did he pay for April to go to MIT AND is offering to pay for her to go to Germany? Where is her mother? ANDDD yet again, Lor offers to help with April and yet again, Luke shoots her down by noting “April’s mine. I got it.”UGH. THIS IS GOING TO BE PROBLEMATIC. Also continuing to be problematic: Logan.

M: Rory is back home, as we saw at the end of Spring. She’s living in her time-frozen teen bedroom and – am I losing it? – reverting to 2000s Rory’s hair and clothing style, at least during her phone call with Logan.

M: Logan’s girlfriend is moving in with him, so Rory will have to stay in a hotel when she next visits in London. Rory: “So now you want me to just wait in a hotel so you can slip away and come see me? Like I’m a geisha?” RORY. Rory, Rory, Rory. You’ll never feel respected if you aren’t showing any respect for yourself.  (If not yourself, respect whoever the heck Odette is. You’re better than this.)

M: Too real: Stars Hollow is now home to The Thirty-Something Gang, “a group of kids all about your age, they’ve been to college, been out in the real world, it spit them out like a stale piece of gum and now they’re all back in their old rooms like you.”

Oh hai Bailey from Bunheads!

Babette re: the air conditioner going off in the middle of the town meeting: “This is really going to freak out the 30-something gang. They are very sensitive!”

M: I have mixed feelings about where Rory ended up in life. On one hand,  this is a fairly realistic outcome for Rory. She’s had some major successes, but she’s not exactly Christiane Amanpour. It’s one thing to be The Most Amazing Girl In Your Class at 15; there are so many amazing girls from so many classes and by your early 30s you’ve realized that you’re not as special as you thought. But while I didn’t think the journalistic world would put Rory on the same pedestal that Stars Hollow always has, I expected more hustle and drive out of her.

T: The thing that I’ve realized about Rory over the past few years of repeats and being out of college myself, is that we don’t actually know if she’s a good journalist. We’re told she’s a good journalist, but her best article (that’s discussed) is from her high school newspaper and it was about a parking lot. Yes, she was made the editor of the Yale Daily News, but it was after Paris got outed and none of the staff could decide on anyone else to replace her. In AYITL, I think it reinforced the theory that Rory’s no Christiane after she barely did anything close to reporting while meeting with the line-waiters in Spring. In fact, she fell asleep while interviewing someone, decided NOT to talk to the people who didn’t even know what they were waiting in line for (JOURNALISM 101), and slept with a source – that was a WOOKIE. I’m almost convinced Mitchum was right all along.

M: Really excited by the prospect of Rory heading up the Stars Hollow Gazette … if she revitalizes it instead of going all New Rory and failing to live up to expectations. It sounds like the beginning of either one of those millennial lifestyle blogs where a big-city person moves to become, e.g., a farmer’s wife in Missouri, or a Hallmark Christmas movie.

T: Also, she’s taking over for Bernie Roundbottom. Bernie. ROUNDBOTTOM. I am 5 years old. Anyways, Rory, no thanks to Esther and the other guy (Charles?), prints her first edition – which includes a bad review of a movie Doyle wrote the script for – but has no one to deliver all the copies to the metropolis that is Stars Hollow, so she naturally recruits Lorelai. This provides a nice little montage of our girls running around the town and dropping papers off at all the hotspots, which is yet another reminder we’re back in Stars Hollow.

M: The montage of Rory and Lorelai dropping off the Gazette reminds me of Now and Then, and I can’t think of why until I realize it’s the song These Boots Are Made For Walkin.

T: Lorelai and Rory have acquired two small minions to hold umbrellas over them while they sit in lounge chairs by the pool and basically do whatever bidding they want because they are regarded as literal royalty in this town. But you know who is truly deserving for us to bow down to? This guy, who kicked everyone out of the pool.

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T: Michel, who is focused on being nice to kids now that he and Frederic are planning to start a family, finally sits Lor down in the secret bar (FIVE-OH!) and tells her he has to leave if she can’t pay him more/expand the Dragonfly. This rare tender conversation between Lor and Michel has me in tears, and the same goes for Lor, but not Michel, because he doesn’t want to be seen crying in a secret bar.

Michel while offering candy to kids at the Dragonfly: For our special little muppets, complimentary lollipops – that is if you like lollipops. Go ahead take one each. Now when I say one, I mean two! *winks* (To Lorelai) On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did I sound like a child molester?
Lorelai: 6.
Michel: Ah. Getting better.

M: Poor Emily is waking up at noon depressed and disheveled.

T: Miss Patty and Babette are of course running auditions for the SH musical, and in an expected/unexpected turn of events, Broadway star Kerry Butler/ therapist Claudia is in line to audition, and sees Lorelai. Their conversation is the MOST she talked since she’s been on the show. Meanwhile, Sutton Foster makes her first appearance in the background and Taylor is singing her praises because she was Kinky Boots. She WAS Kinky Boots!

M: Stars Hollow: The Musical could only be better if they came down the aisles creepily waving their hands to audience members like the Pippin incident. Lorelai is aghast, Gypsy is having the time of her life, Babette’s pretty into it. It’s interesting having 90 minutes to play with –  in the original series it would have been a few verses to give us an idea of what was going on then a cut-away. I don’t want to wish away any moment of Sutton Foster, but I might have liked to use a few minutes of that time for some of the characters we love (Paris or Lane, specifically).

T: We are theater nerds in the truest sense of the term, but I totally agree – I would’ve given up a few minutes of the SH Musical in favor of more Paris or Lane or even Brian and Gil. Or Miss Patty!!!

M: Now we can add Hamilton to the list of 2016 pop culture references.

T: I just… have so many comments about this horribly amazing musical. A few things – they’re incorporating the Revolutionary War reenactors, finding out Sutton and Christian Borle’s characters, who’ve been singing about being in love, are siblings, and ending it with Abba’s Waterloo – the SAME EXACT SONG HIT JUKEBOX MUSICAL MAMMA MIA ENDS WITH!

M: Sutton’s character is named Violet which I’m deciding was very on purpose. Now can we please make this the beginning of the campaign to get a new season of Bunheads??

M: In the rundown session after the play, everyone loved it but Lorelai. (“What’s your suggestion? Make it LESS perfect?” “She was Kinky Boots!”) Loved Taylor name-dropping rappers (“How does he know their names?”)

I know nothing about musicals, but this is a fun musical. – Tom, a contractor by profession

T: Sutton, the star of ASP’s Bunheads and longtime GG fan, finally has a face-to-face scene with Lauren Graham, who is reprising her role of Lorelai Gilmore. My brain is on the verge of exploding.

M: Emily is letting Berta wear civilian clothes! She has a TV in the living room! She ATE in the living room! However, Rory wants Emily to get out more, go to the club, go dancing at night – sounds exhausting.

M: JESS. Jess looks very, very good. And I know we all know what Milo Ventimiglia looks like in 2016 – thank the tv gods for This Is Us – but it’s somehow still a fresh surprise to see him as Jess. Jess and Rory have a friendly but not flirty relationship, but haven’t seen each other for a good 4 years. I’ve always liked Jess the most of Rory’s boyfriends, that’s no secret, and I love how he has such a good insight into who she is. He tells her he knows what she should write: the story of her and her mom.

T: Jess walked into frame and I had to pause because I almost swooned. But his looks aside, I agree with Molly – Jess was the best (season 6 version of him at least), and he was always the intellectual equal to Rory. She believed he was better than his chalk outline pranks and knew he had potential to be great, and later on, he thought the same of her. That carries through to today, and it’s even more prevalent after suggesting she write the book. Also, is Luke going to give his franchise money to Rory for the book?

M: Major ‘aww’ moment: as Jess greets Luke outside the window, Rory pulls up an article about young single mom Lorelai moving to Stars Hollow. I guess before social media this is how you’d know things? But then again, this is Stars Hollow.

T: Rory pulling up the article “LORELAI GILMORE ARRIVES IN STARS HOLLOW TAKES JOB AT INDEPENDENCE INN” marks the first time I’ve ever cried over microfiche. And to step back a little bit, the moment between Luke and Jess was perfect.

M: Rory is having her Jo March moment writing about Lorelai’s life. I’m touched. Lorelai is not, and she withholds her permission. It’s understandable, though. Lorelai worked for years to make sure people “only knew what I wanted them to know.” I’m the same way – everyone gets pieces of my life but the whole thing isn’t out there – and it would drive me crazy if somebody spilled everything.

Also Rory… I really loved the sweet, shy, hardworking, morally upright Rory of the first 4 or so seasons. The problem is that she had this Stars Hollow pedestal her whole life and as an adult, that has manifested in a person who expects to be lauded and supported. She should have taken Lorelai’s “no,” or at least discussed the matter calmly, but emotions were high and I think Rory was caught off guard.

Still, Lorelai’s reaction isn’t typical for her (except for that long feud I don’t like to remember) and makes it clear how serious she is about this. Lorelai has always been so confident and no-nonsense about her rough early years that I didn’t realize that it was something she was sensitive about, but being rejected by her mother at 16 and now again after Richard died is still painful for her.

T: And on top of this, Lorelai goes to the diner and has a fight with Luke after she tells him he’s “been grumpy for months”, and it sets off the whole can of worms that I explicitly told them would come back to bite them in the ass during Spring. Apparently these fictional characters can’t hear either of us when we talk to the TV. Lor calls out Luke for not telling her he went looking for potential spots for his diner franchise, while he reminds her she didn’t tell him Emily stopped going to therapy but she kept seeing Claudia. AND THEN Luke says, “We struck a deal. You’ve got your life and I’ve got mine. You keep your crazy family away from me and I’ll keep my crazy family away from you.” UhBoy. This is what is was like circa season 6 with the whole April debacle – why are we still here??

All the while, Lorelai, like putting salt in the saltshakers in Winter, continues to help Luke clean up the dirty plates from the tables because it’s basically her diner too. All. The. Feels.

“Can we talk about this at home?” “This is home.”

M: Rory and Logan break up (“we can’t break up, because we’re nothing.”). One thing I think AYITL does well is the reintroduction of Rory’s old love interests. Realism would have her on a Facebook-only basis with all of them, but obviously that wouldn’t work. I like that for viewers who were Team Logan, he’s a caring and sweet guy except for the cheating, which I can’t forgive but in which he’s no more culpable than Rory. For Team Jess, he shows up, has a friendly rapport with Rory, and gives her the first writing inspiration she’s had for some time. Team Dean? We’re not there yet.

M: Then Lane states the theme of this episode and also of life in your early 30s: this adult stuff is hard, isn’t it?

T: I mean, we kind of don’t know where Lane’s coming from except she’s the mom of two twins and a part-time drummer. #JusticeForLane

M: Secondary theme of your early 30s, courtesy of Rory: I don’t need Lipitor, I need to be 20 again.

M: If we needed more clarification, though, the one and only Sutton Foster sings the dilemma for us, too. Lorelai starts crying and so do I (“Maybe it’ll be me and a dog?” You’re killing me, Sutton. Woof.).

T: Through my tears, I appreciated how realistic and unrealistic this show is, and how truly theatrical it is. There were many times in AYITL in particular which felt like I was watching a stage production, but this scene was obvious yet magical, and perfectly encapsulated Lorelai’s “A-Ha” moment without her having to say a word.

M: Callback to the beginning of the episode: Lorelai is going to “do Wild,” aka hike the Pacific Crest Trail like in Cheryl Strayed’s book. But have any of you read that book? Particularly at a time when you were feeling topsy-turvy about your life? That thing should come with an advisory on the back, because it makes you want to go out there and hike until your feet are so blistered that you figure your life out.

T: I’ve only seen the movie, and I was left confirming my lifelong stance against camping and hiking long distances through nature. I feel like I’m on the same level as Lorelai, so I’m truly concerned for her wellbeing if she lasts on this trip. Also, please note that while Luke is reminding Lorelai nature is nature, he is standing next to another beloved townie – Bert the Toolbox.
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M: This is the heaviest of the episodes so far, but it’s also a serious dose of reality (musical numbers aside). Rory can only keep a cheerful, optimistic attitude about being out of work for so long. Emily lost her spouse of 50 years. And Lorelai did an amazing job overcoming obstacles as a young parent, but it never left her with time to sort out what it all meant.

Stray observations

  • Lorelai has one of those Reese Witherspoon Totes Y’all totes while she’s reading Wild poolside (I think if you watch Gilmore Girls you’re also the kind of person who knows both that Reese was in Wild and that she sells these totes and get a kick out of the unspoken reference. This is why I love Gilmore Girls fans.)
  • Zach on the twins: “When they get mad, they’re like five little Korean people and they focus all their Korean vitriol at Lane and me.”
  • Did I miss why Rory is wearing a hippie costume poolside?
  • She got game. “Your name is Kevin, huh? But I think I’ll call you – TOMORROW.” GET IT BABETTE.
  • The wonderful Jackie Hoffman is playing Esther, who can’t stop filing at the SH Gazette, and it is just another testament of how good casting was for the revival.
  • Michel is turning 50?? Which I guess makes sense because Lorelai is 48? STILL.
  • Lane and Zach have a side White Stripes combo at the Secret Bar. BUT WHAT ELSE DOES LANE DO? AND WHAT DOES ZACH SUPERVISE?
  • I continue to be amazed at how lovely and beautiful Lauren Graham is in this entire revival. I just love her so much, you guys.
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  • Did ASP shade Aaron Sorkin, her closest writer rival, yet again? Lorelai: Yeah it’s like the set of an Aaron Sorkin movie in here.”
  • Rory still hasn’t dumped Paul. And she had to write herself a note to remind herself to do it.
  • Famous chefs continue to rotate out of the Dragonfly, but Luke is back in the kitchen at the inn after Ina Garten or Sandra Lee or one of them was kicked out by Lor. Remember, Luke is secretly like a Michelin star chef and just loves Lorelai a lot but has to get out his frustration by ranting about the situation yet ends up doing it anyways. It’s OG Luke ranting and it is gold.

  • Sophie suggests a tune to add to the musical, and it happens to be a song called I Feel The Earth Move, by the one and only Carole King. To clarify, Sophie is played by Carole King. All is well.
  • Rory: “Maybe I can be one of Paris’ surrogates. She always liked my teeth.” Yes. This is a thing Paris would let Rory know about.
  • I find it unbelievable Rory wouldn’t know what Mysteries of Laura is.
  • Emily is saying ‘Hello’. To Jack. The guy who had a real memory of Richard at his funeral. You know what? FUCK JACK. RICHARD GILMORE 4EVER. **UPDATE: The actor who plays Jack just showed up on my TV as Honey’s husband Marvin on Fresh Off The Boat, solving the mystery of why I know his face. BUT ALSO he played Robin’s dad, Robin Scherbatsky Sr. in HIMYM!**
  • Why does Nat, the director of the SH musical, have a neck brace on in the last scene he’s in?
  • This one was produced by Helen Pai, the namesake of Hep Alien (in anagram form). She’s also Amy Sherman Palladino’s friend who served as an inspiration for Lane.
  • By this point in my viewing (Saturday night), I had to cut off all communication with at least 5 people because they finished Fall before me. It’s real, y’all. -T

TV Characters We Need Back In Our Lives: 2016 Edition

A great songwriter once summarized the way we feel when our favorite TV shows come back on the air after a summer hiatus:

What ever happened to predictability
The milk man, the paper boy evening TV?
You miss your old familiar friends

But miss them no longer – they’re waiting just around the bend: the best returning TV characters of Fall 2016:

Rebecca Bunch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

We considered including Greg Serrano and Paula Proctor in this list, but ultimately we had to give it up for this great show’s leading lady. It’s not just that Rachel Bloom is a writer/creator/actress/singer/comedian/all around fantastic human. It’s also that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend hinges on the audience suspending disbelief – it’s a musical comedy after all – AND identifying with a protagonist who sounds pretty questionable on paper, what with moving cross-country to chase her camp boyfriend from 2005. Rebecca, though flawed, has to be relatable, professionally competent, and get the audience in her corner. Against the odds, you believe that Rebecca has her head in the wrong place and her heart in the right one, that she’s out of touch with reality yet the smartest person in the room.

Jessica Huang from Fresh Off The Boat

Roughly half of Jessica’s lines from Fresh Off The Boat remind me of all of the 90s moms I knew during my childhood. The rest are cut straight from my internal monologue. Jessica is exacting and confident, at turns assimilating her family into American culture and criticizing it. Jessica is a rare TV parent: neither the tough mom nor the fun mom, she is a welcome break from the smiling-while-head-shaking moms from paper towel commercials and CBS sitcoms. Just watch her getting obsessed with Melrose Place and imagining intrigues in her neighborhood, or tackling her school-aged son with a giant stuffed bunny to teach him not to date rape, or spouting off about prosperity perms and tell me she isn’t the most endearing and “aggressive yet elegant” sitcom mom there is.

As an aside, we love actress Constance Wu every bit as much as we love Jessica, and if you don’t yet, you should too.

Tina Belcher from Bob’s Burgers

It’s impossible to pick just one favorite Belcher, but I’m doing just that and it’s Tina. I have a comedic soft spot for characters who have no reason to be confident but are anyway, and that’s Tina. Plus it’s just fun to watch her and thank your lucky stars that you’re not in that horrible junior high not really a kid/not really a teenager stage any more.

Liza Miller from Younger

To paraphrase Death Cab for Cutie (we were 19 in 2006, ok?), we would follow Sutton Foster into the dark – or to TV Land. Yes, the channel where your dad watches Newhart has original programming now, and Younger is really good – kind of like a TV version of goldfish crackers, where you can consume it for a half hour and the time kind of just disappears. Liza is a 40-year-old restarting her career and passing as a 26-year-old in order to do it, which is plausible because Sutton Foster has a portrait in her attic that ages in her stead. Plus Hilary Duff is in it too, and you know we loved us some Lizzie McGuire.

Rogelio De La Vega from Jane the Virgin

I binge watched both seasons of Jane the Virgin this summer and totally got hooked, largely in part to the great writing, the outstanding acting, and the character that is Rogelio De La Vega. I’ve never seen a fake actor so egotistical yet so lovable at the same time, and I think that’s credit to Jamie Camil, who plays the Telenovela star. He has a way of saying Rogelio’s lines that make you almost sympathetic to him, before you realize what he’s actually saying – and what he’s saying is usually the most ridiculous. #RogelioMyBrogelio

Porsha from Empire

I had a few complaints about the second season of Empire, and one of them is that there wasn’t enough Porsha on the show. As Cookie’s assistant she should probably be by her side more, yet not as much as I wanted. She’s hilarious, always has good comebacks, and is the perfect complement to Cookie’s sassiness. Also, she’s an amazing rapper IRL.

Coliver from How To Get Away With Murder

I KNOW I’m not the only person who ships this couple, mainly because there are many Tumblr blogs and gifsets dedicated to this hot, sweet duo. Connor and Oliver are maybe my fave romantic couple on HTGAWM because they just care for each other so much. Connor may be more broody about his feelings while Oliver is more outright, but there’s no doubt they’re meant to be. And I’m just the creep who reblogs their romantic moments on the Internet, it’s fine.

Betty DiMello from Masters of Sex

Annaleigh Ashford. Annaleigh Ashford!!!! I’ve always admired her talents from after since she’s a Broadway staple, but her acting skills are stellar in this show as a prostitute turned experiment volunteer turned receptionist turned closest confidant. It’s been quite the arc for Betty and Annaleigh as well, and I still think she should be nominated for more awards.

Captain Ray Holt from Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Captain Holt has grown on me so much over the years, and in the best way he can, he’s opened up to the Nine-Nine slowly but surely too. Andrew Braugher does such a spectacular job showing emotion in an emotionless character, and I can’t wait to see what happens next for him and Jake come season four.

Taran Killam from Saturday Night Live

I’m in complete denial Taran isn’t coming back for the upcoming season, so we’re just going to pretend he’ll be back.

Show You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Younger

I watch too many TV shows. It’s a problem. Because of this, I’ve had to be selective when it comes to which programs I actually spend time watching. But then when my shows go on a semi-long hiatus, I get ancy like a drug addict feening for a hit. It’s then that I go to the list of bubble shows that I decided I would only watch if I found the time to. Enter Younger.

Younger is a TV Land series, which is partly why you’re confused about it. It’s not a repeat of Gunsmoke or Who’s the Boss or even Friends, and it’s not a shot-in-front-of-a-live-audience multi-cam show like Hot in Cleveland. It’s a single-cam, original series that isn’t aimed towards the baby boomer demographic. I watched the pilot and liked it so much that I watched it again immediately after it aired. But that’s partly because my DVR cut out the last 30 seconds and I obviously needed to see what happened. But that aside, it feels like a fresh, new show that isn’t trying to be anything else. So what’s it about?

Basic Plot

Liza (Sutton Foster) is 40 years old and suddenly becomes a divorced single mom of a college freshman. She gets mistaken for a 20-something by a young, hot, gentleman caller (Nico Tortoella), which makes her think she can pass for a young professional, multiplying her chances of scoring a decent job in the publishing world. It works, and she lands a position as an assistant to a Devil Wears Prada-esque boss, but her co-worker Kelsey (H Duff) befriends her and takes her under her wing. Liza attempts to keep up appearances as a “26 year old” but the problem is that no one knows her real age and real life story.

Still intrigued? Here are a few more reasons to watch one of my new favorite shows this year.

Sex and the Gilmore Girls

Darren Starr, the executive producer of Sex and the City, is the creator, writer, director, etc. of Younger, so some of that Carrie Bradshaw flair can be seen in the show. Like SATC, it also takes place in New York City, specifically Brooklyn, where Liza has to adjust to all the young hipsters. The writing of Younger is reminiscent of Gilmore Girls – while not quite as verbose and pop culture reference-y, it has a similar fast-talking pace that is perfect for the brilliant Sutton Foster, who if you recall, starred in the cancelled-too-soon dance dramedy Bunheads, created by GG’s Amy Sherman-Palladino. The fusion of these two shows results in a hip, hilarious program for millennials and older folks alike.

Hilary Duff Is Back On TV

I have been a fan of Hil since My Lizzie and Gordon OTP Days, and have loved her ever since. While she’s had some random TV cameos since (REMEMBER THE DAN HUMPHREY VANESSA THREESOME), this is a full-fledged series return since she’s had a kid. Now I don’t think she’s lined up to earn an Oscar nomination anytime soon, but her acting and mere presence feels like a breath of fresh air, and the role of Kelsey is perfect for her. She’s a strong female in the workplace and goes after what she wants with determination. She also isn’t a mean girl, which I expected her to be when I first started watching. She truly is a friend to Liza and I hope that never changes, because, girls lifting up other girls and whatnot.

Sutton Foster Is Back On TV

As previously mentioned, Sutton was in the short-lived Bunheads, which was the perfect role for her as a Vegas showgirl-turned-small-town-dance-teacher. Sutton nailed the delivery on Amy Sherman-Pallidino’s writing, which isn’t an easy feat. It also helped that Sutton is a huge Gilmore Girls fan so she knew what she was getting in to. And while some may only be familiar with her work on Bunheads, many others like me know her as Broadway royalty. Like the kind of Broadway royalty that has won two Tony Awards as Best Actress in a Musical because she’s that flawless. Whenever Broadway actors transition into TV, I always root for them like the underdog because I know how much talent they have and it deserves to be seen than more than the lucky few who get to see them perform on the stage live (see: half the cast of Bloodline). Sutton being on Younger is not only an achievement and feat for her, it’s one for us too.

Fashion

The fashion in Younger is interesting on a whole new level, in that while there are the clothes that, say, Hilary Duff’s character wears (trendy, young NYC professional), there’s that of Liza’s, which is a 40 year old woman pretending to be 26. What she wears literally depends on her livelihood. Bring in Patricia Field, the costume designer for not only Younger, but she also worked with Darren Starr on SATC. I recently read an Entertainment Weekly feature on Patricia and now I can’t stop reading about her process for styling characters and tips on how to not look like trash, basically. For example, a trick for dressing Liza is that she wears items that balance out her silhouette – i.e. being youthful is about not being overtly sexy. When Josh first hits on Liza, she’s wearing like a comfy chambray shirt – and this is what makes him not only like her, but think she’s 26.

Millennial Life As Seen By A Non-Millennial

There’s a good chunk of this show that deals with Liza just trying to keep up with the “kids” and understand the millennial language. She gets hired as an assistant, and is expected to know how social media works because that’s what we do as millennials. In one scene she comes up with this brilliant publicity campaign involving Twitter, but when she launches it, she forgets to include the hashtags, and therefore it doesn’t become the viral sensation she promised her boss it would be. In the pilot, Liza seriously asks who Lena Dunham is. Kelsey at one point has to teach her what IRL means. It’s an interesting semi-psychological study on what we do and why we do it, couched in the guise of a hilarious show.

Younger airs on TV Land Tuesdays at 10p/9c

Highs And Lows: The 2014 Tony Awards

As we discovered last year, even hardcore theater lovers have to admit that not every Tony Awards moment can be the best. The 2014 awards were no exception. There were some great moments, some so-so ones, and that weird period where Hugh Jackman hopped around tracked by a steadicam. Whether you watched as a theater nerd or as a confused CBS viewer who just wanted The Good Wife, I think you’ll agree that the awards were a mixed bag. On to the highs and lows!

Low, like literally vacillating between 0 and 5 inches off the ground: Hugh Jackman, hopping for the entire opening sequence

At first I thought this was a reference to something … theatre-y, or Australian, or pop cultural that I didn’t know about. But according to Twitter, if there was a reference, nobody got it. Is hopping something that’s happening? The new parkour?

Middle, like a food that is neither sweet nor sour nor delicious nor necessarily awful (eg, Musical Soylent): The Les Mis number

Man, we do like Les Mis (I mean, we liveblogged the movie), but this was just dull. I spent the whole of the number contemplating whether to eat this mini Twix bar I found outside earlier today. I didn’t, because while my standards are low enough to bring garbage candy inside from the ground, they are higher than eating candy that, I reasoned, could have been peed on. Like, that life decision was more interesting to me than watching Les Mis.

Lower, like I guess my expectations should have been: Aladdin: The Musical

I love Disney, musicals, and – I’ll admit it – musicals based on Disney films. So why did that Aladdin number do absolutely nothing for me? One of my earliest theater memories is going to Cats with my family and my dad, during intermission, asking with incredulity: “I don’t get it, is this supposed to mean something?” Exactly, dad. Exactly.

[Evidently my dad thought that Cats was so stupid that he assumed that it must have been existing at a deeper level for so many people to like it. Like, We are all Cats. Or something.]

Higher than most people can sustain for a comfortable amount of time, like that high note at the end: Idina Menzel singing Always Starting Over

This lady is always a pro. Also, it feels like a true honor and privilege to hear her singing something –  anything – other than Let It Go.

Seems like it should be super high but actually isn’t, like when you get up close to Cinderella’s Castle at Disney: Rocky: The Musical

Movies can make great musicals, and over-the-top technological feats can spice up a show – part of me is still the 9-year-old who was blown away by the crashing chandelier in Phantom Of The Opera and the helicopter in Miss Saigon. Yet, the high-tech snippet of Rocky left me a little cold.

Way, way up high, like when I was watching this and my heart felt like it was being elevated by the fluttering wings of butterflies: Pinkham Bryce’s performance in A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder

I think I get frustrated with some shows that seem like they’re catering to the least common denominator. That’s why it’s so refreshing when a show is actually clever. And Pinkham Bryce, well … he’s sort of easy on the eyes, isn’t he?

Soaring high, like an eagle: Audra McDonald’s historic Tony win

Who needs to EGOT when you can just collect ALLLL the Tonys instead? Audra McDonald is a true living legend and a class act, and it doesn’t even get old seeing her win. Although, I’m sure there’s a reason this wasn’t classified as a ‘musical’ but I’m not positive of what it is.

Soaring high, like a bird that flies in a more fun way than an eagle does, maybe a pelican or something: The Hedwig And The Angry Inch performance

Okay, while I love smart musicals, there’s something awesome about shows that are just a lot of FUN. The actors and crowd alike were having an absolute blast during this number, and ultimately that’s what theater is all about. I mean it’s also about expressing the human experience, but sometimes the human experience is fun, okay? Also, bonus cameo by NPH’s adorable husband David Burtka.

Just sort of flitting along, like a bird that doesn’t really go up quite that high – perhaps a baby sparrow or a hummingbird: The Commercials

CBS really out-CBS-ed itself. Is it just me or was ad for Old People Medicines, insurance, and cat food?

High, like a person on meth, I guess?: Bryan Cranston’s win

We ragged on Cranston’s sub-par headshot on the Tony website = not exactly “Faces Of Meth” level, but just not trying. But clearly, he didn’t need to try too hard. The Tony was already in the bag.

 Higher than I would have thought, like my cholesterol even though I’m a vegetarian who works out, I mean what the hell: Violet

If the wedding episode of Full House taught us one thing, it’s that incorporating a robed gospel choir can only make things more spectacular. And Sutton Foster – Jo March of my heart – is always a great fit for those “small town girl makes good” roles.

Lower than I would have thought, like the depressed spirits of so many Irishmen: Sting

He looked and sounded completely like someone that my uncles would hang out with at the Ancient Order Of Hibernians. Not sure if he’s playing an Irish character or just, you know, a sad guy.

Mid-range, like the kind of blah clothes that end up in the ‘donate’ pile when you pare down your wardrobe : For Good

The only thing that a 10 year anniversary of Wicked accomplishes is reminding me that 10 years passed in the blink of an eye. I would not have the mental fortitude to sing Elphaba in front of Idina Menzel herself, and frankly, I don’t think the actress last night did, either. The blending was so-so, both vocally and on Galinda’s wig cap, which covered half of her forehead. Does she have a giant, weird hairline? A facial tattoo? WHY?

Low, like the droopy flopped arms of a white person standing around not knowing how to dance: LL Cool J and TI doing that Music Man thing

They rapped about the Music Man. They told the crowd to get on their feet. The crowd obeyed. Then they all stood there, self-consciously unsure of what to do with their arms. I know the feeling.

High, like the pitch of the audible gasp I let out: Carole King’s appearance during the Beautiful performance

I knew King was there, obviously. I knew Beautiful was performing, of course. But it somehow never occurred to me that Carole King would sing with them. If this made Jessie Mueller nervous as hell, as it would for most humans, she didn’t let on.

Low, like the pit deep in my stomach: Bullets Over Broadway and the reawakening of latent Woody Allen feelings

You know, when all this Woody Allen stuff came back up, I thought “man, it would make it easier if someone would just tell me the proper way to react to this.” Then everyone DID tell everyone else the proper way to react. And it didn’t particularly help. Anyway. Catchy song, right?

Low, like something that just draaaags on and on, like maybe something hanging from the fender of a car: Hugh Jackman’s song before the Best Actress In A Musical award

It was 10:50 pm. Yet, an 11 o’clock number, it was not.

Low, like my glasses would be, on the bridge of my nose, in disapproval, like a librarian from yesteryear: Finding Neverland

I liked Finding Neverland The Movie. I already hate Finding Neverland The Musical That Doesn’t Exist Yet But Is Somehow Performing At The Tony’s. The former was charming, the latter involved Jennifer Hudson in a modern, sequined dress wailing about Neverland as small Edwardian boys jump on a bed and a female, Ginnifer Goodwin-y Peter Pan flitted around.

2014 Tony Award Winner Predictions (Based Solely On Headshots)

The all-powerful headshot can make or break an acting career. You thought it was talent, hard work, and luck? So did I – until I was 12. That was the year that all of my acting friends got the secret memo to wear makeup and flat-iron their hair before updating their photos. They all looked like they walked out of Seventeen magazine, whereas I looked like.. well, like:

Yep, that’s the headshot of someone who’s going to be stuck in child roles for a good while. The only way I would be playing a girl next door is if the main character happens to lives next door to a Victorian orphanage. So trust me, headshots matter. That’s why I’m pretty confident that the key to this year’s Tony wins is in the almighty 5×7. To be as impartial as possible, we are judging this year’s winners solely by the headshots available on the official Tony Awards website.

Best Performance By A Leading Actor In A Play

Samuel Barnett – Twelfth Night

Okay, the dabbled gray background is a little school portrait. But the icy blue, straight on stare says “I can play dramatic roles!” and the slight smirk says “but if the dialog gets a little funny, I’m on top of it!” The bright flash highlights Barnett’s pale complexion, as if to say “I can play British.”

Bryan Cranston – All The Way

The fuck, Cranston? No. NO. You’re like that one kid whose parents didn’t properly understand sending in a baby picture for that one section of your senior yearbook, and sent one from freshman year instead. You are the default silhouette picture from Myspace. Even Tom doesn’t want to be friends with that.

Remember Tom, everyone?

Chris O’Dowd – Of Mice And Men

Well as I live and breathe. Chris O’Dowd has out-Cranstoned Cranston. There are actual people in the actual background, and you know what? Blurring them out by enlarging the “blemish remover” function on iPhoto is just making me notice it more. Good luck winning a Tony with this Photobucket-quality headshot, buddy. Good freaking luck.

On the other hand, maybe this is clever. Maybe it tells us that he is too busy for headshots — busy going to events where he, and blurry others, wear suits.

Mark Rylance – Richard III

White sheet backdrop aside, this is art. ART. The lowered left eyebrow. The tremulous sidelong glance. The windswept locks. His mouth is even ever-so-slightly agape. It is like everything that Jay Manuel and Janice Dickinson told contestants to do on the early seasons of America’s Next Top Model, except for posing with limbs askew and pretending to have been murdered. I think we might have our winner. And that earring? That’s just boss.

Tony Shaloub – Act One

Like, is this photo editing, or does he have a legitimage twinkle in both eyes? Speaking of Tyra Banks: smizing. Notice how you sort of feel like Tony Shaloub has read the story of your soul, and would recommend it to a friend? It’s all in the smize.
The winner, based on headshot alone: Mark Rylance. That headshot has RANGE.

 

Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role In A Play

Tyne Daly – Mothers And Sons

Okay, now we’re cooking with gas. There’s a neutral but varied background. There’s warm, soft lighting. You know what this looks like? This looks like a headshot where the actress is at least TRYING. See the Shaloub-esque half smile?
Also, I think that, as in paintings by Renaissance masters, if you look at this from different points in the room, Daly’s eyes follow you.
Her face is so captivating that I almost didn’t notice that this photo almost reaches a Glamour Shot-caliber boob suggestion. Glamour Shots: Not the boob itself, but the idea of the boob.

LaTanya Richardson Jackson

FINALLY. Now it’s a contest. Look at this. It’s like Headshot Bingo. Or a headshot drinking game. Let’s count:
(1) Flowy wrap sweater
(2) Gently contrasting background
(3) Statement necklace
(4) HAND SHELF.
It’s like every headshot cliche in one photo. Ms Jackson, I salute you. Question, though: what is up with the curled-up, partially visible left hand?

Cherry Jones – The Glass Menagerie

I’m of two minds here. The first: the blurred background is, well… have we learned nothing from O’Dowd? It looks like Jones is in some sort of outdoor patio or porch situation, which is at least pleasant. Contrast that with O’Dowd, who is in some sort of formalwear context that is almost definitely not fun.
The second: Does she have the headshot smile down or what? Happy but not too happy. Warm without a photoshopped eye twinkle (unless that’s how Shaloub’s eyes are naturally, which… maybe, you know? Maybe.)

Audra MacDonald – Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar And Grill

Even if I didn’t know who Audra McDonald was, which I guess I’m trying to do here, I’d know this was the photo of a champion. That is the cozy sweater of someone who can play a mom or a business professional on a day off. Her hair is glorious. The background is neutral but, with the hint of light oak chair, not antiseptic. There’s gentle accessorizing. There’s nail polish. There’s attractive lighting, like in Barbara Walters specials.
Brava, Ms. McDonald.

Estelle Parsons

While I don’t deny that Estelle Parsons is probably a lovely person and a wonderful actress, this is simply not a Tony Award Winning headshot. That is the downward facing chin of a nominee, not the proud, upright chin of a winner!

Besides, it took me about 3 minutes to figure out that was a scarf tucked into her sweater and not some really weird collar or even weirder neck/chin situation. Tony voters don’t have time for that.
The Winner, Based On Headshot Alone: Audra. That’s the headshot of a lady who came to win.

 

Best Performance By A Lead Actor In A Musical

Now, for a little bit of the ‘man behind the curtain’ in the blogging world: my browser is doing something it’s never done before, and making text and photos appear straight on top of each other, and my curser is moving around will-nilly. So let’s just cut straight to the winner, shall we?
Winner, based on headshot alone:

Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig And The Angry Inch

 

This was a process of elimination win. Ramin Karimloo looked a little too ‘intentionally disheveled hot guy.’ Andy Karl was posed in front of some sort of industrial piping, which, like, you’re in Rocky. We know. Jefferson Mays looked like he was going to turn me into ice with his crystalline blue stare. Between Bryce Pinkham and Neil Patrick Harris, Harris’s headshot was a little edgier. Pinkham’s, shot in soft light with a white background, seemed to say “I’m here for the art, not to win.”

Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role In A Musical

 

Can we discuss these award category names? They are all roughly twice as long as they need to be, right?
The winner, based on headshot alone:

Sutton Foster – Violet

This was another process of elimination. Idina Menzel, bless her talented heart, almost tries TOO hard in her headshot. I’m talking about a wind machine. Jessie Mueller manages to look most like someone I’d want to hang out with in real life – meaning, unlike some theater people, she doesn’t look absolutely exhausting. But she does have the visible, photoshopped background person going on. Kelli O’Hara has so much blinding white light going on that I think she might be the first person I’m seeing after dying.  Mary Bridget Davies brought her A-Game, but Foster’s got the approachable smile down. She was probably smile-coached along with Cherry Jones.

 

So, was my 12-year-old self right? Can you tell a great actor by headshot alone? Tune in to the Tony’s on Sunday night to find out!

Come On and Sit Side by Side by Susan Blackwell

The 68th annual Tony Awards are this Sunday, which for everyone that isn’t a theater nerd like me, it’s basically our Super Bowl. In fact, I used to attend a Tonys party every year with my friends/co-workers from a theatre and it pretty much was our Super Bowl. I admit, I’m not a super geek like some of my pals, but I’m at a level where I watch videos of Broadway stars online in my spare time (or just, time).

A few years ago along my internet travels, I came across this magic web series called Side by Side by Susan Blackwell. Hosted by – you guessed it – Susan Blackwell, an actress who’s been on TV and film, but most notably in the theater world for her outstanding performance in the musical [title of show]. She recruits her fellow Broadway friends for an interview, but not just any interview, it usually takes place in an odd location and includes some kind of fun activity.

My first introduction to Susan was with this interview with Daniel Radcliffe while he was doing How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2011, and he is legit cleaning her house. Yes, Potterheads, in this video, you see DanRad cleaning a toilet. Seriously. If that’s not enough to get you to watch this then IDK what is.

Actually I do. Susan is charming, hilarious, affable, and has a way to get her interviewees to talk about stuff that not many others can. Oh and she licks her guests on the face. The DanRad vid was a gateway drug into her other Side by Side interviews, so here now are some other standout videos from her collection.

Zachary Quinto

Where: Dog Park

Activity: Watching dogs in a dog park

Highlight: A rousing game of ‘Name That Dog’ and Susan ‘smashing ZQ like a pancake’ on a picnic table

Where: ZQ’s apartment

Activity: Having a sleepover

Highlight: Prank calling Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Smash star Christian Borle

Sutton Foster/Jonathan Groff/Laura Benanti

Where: In Bed/A Horse-Drawn Carriage/Hooters

Activity: Breakfast/Cuddling/Eating Wings

Highlight: Sutton lying in bed with her Tony gown and actual Tony/JGroff singing Left Behind from Spring Awakening/Susan handling Laura’s boobs

Jonathan Groff #2

Where: His parents’ farm in rural Pennsylvania (lit’rally Amish country)

Activity: Chillin in a hayloft, petting some horses and goats

Highlight: JGroff singing a part of Totally Fucked (from Spring Awakening) while shaking a bucket of corn kernels to get the goats to eat

Laura Benanti #2

Where: Ziva Meditation

Activity: Being zen on a couch

Highlight: Playing iPhone roulette and landing on a pic of her former Go On (RIP) co-star taking a nap in her own bosoms

Steven Pasquale

Where: Steven’s apartment

Activity: Using a Vitamix to make super healthy green juices

Highlight: Steven prank calling Taye Diggs and leaving a voicemail as Jim Carrey

Audra McDonald

Where: Great Jones Spa

Activity: Getting massages, drinking cucumber water

Highlight: Audra singing a fantastic version of the Spongebob Squarepants theme song

Norbert Leo Butz

Where: Strand Bookstore

Activity: Sitting in the parenting section

Highlight: Flipping through the pages of a book called Surgery of the Anus, Rectum and Colon

Andrew Rannells

Where: McKittrick Hotel

Activity: Playing with a Ouija board

Highlight: Imitating the pageant hosts on Toddlers and Tiaras