Game of Thrones Comic Con Style Watch, Bloopers and New Cast Members

26 Jul

The Game of Thrones Comic Con panel delivered with treats aplenty including sartorial delights, a dance filled blooper reel and a new cast member showcase.

Natalie Dormer SDCCNatalie Dormer is one of several GoT panel participants to opt for bold print with a summery funky floral frock.

Natalie Dormer Comic ConFor the Hunger Games teaser trailer premiere (yes teaser trailers get premieres too) Dormer has gone for a more autumnal look – sweater season will soon be upon us and I cannot wait – and she is still rocking the super side parting as result of the Mockingjay half head shaving. As you will see the side sweep is the GoT long hair top trend.

Natalie Dormer wears outfit number two in this Pedro Pascal Instagram shot with co-stars Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner and Pedro Pascal for their “Comic Con Album Cover.’ This is one cool girl band (in my version Pascal is a backup dancer, as if that fight scene was anything to go by he definitely has the moves).

GoT Comic ConI think I liked Sophie Turner’s ensemble better when I thought it was a dress, but hey if you’re going to wear a jump suit one covered in huge colorful letters is the way to go. Maisie Williams’ metallic shift is a good choice for her and Kit Harrington and Pedro Pascal have gone for standard and approved black tee/Henley hot guy uniform. As I mentioned yesterday Comic Con attire varies greatly and the GoT women have all gone for a variety of pretty cool choices.

GoT SDCC

Or dark shirt will also do as Nikolaj Coster-Waldau demonstrates. Look how adorable these dudes are when they’re not doing all kinds of terrible things to each other.

Gwendoline ChristieGwendoline Christie works the printed and plunging neckline dress and I expect she will be pulling double duty next year when Stars Wars no doubt takes over.

Rose LeslieTaking a very simple and super chic approach is the stunning Rose Leslie in black vest and pants; bold lip color and her incredible red hair make her stand out.

GoT cast SDCC

The whole cast in attendance (with George RR Martin and minus Natalie Dormer) and Pedro Pascal continues to be the most adorable. Sadness is a squished head.

Watch the blooper and new cast (Jonathan Pryce!) videos below.

TimesTalks Panel with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Taylor Schilling, Lucy Liu and Mira Sorvino

25 Jul

The New York Times hosted a discussion with four women who are on current or forthcoming shows as part of the TimesTalks series; from network, cable to streaming and all with varying levels of experience in television and film. Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Honorable Woman), Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black), Lucy Liu (Elementary) and Mira Sorvino (Intruders) sat down to talk about a variety of subjects including why television is so good for actresses at the moment and how they navigate some of the more challenging aspects of working in this industry.

Times TalkTelevision as a medium is constantly being championed as an outlet for complex female roles and this is something that is a staple discussion point during any panel like this.* This is Maggie Gyllenhaal’s first foray into television and the character she plays in the Sundance/BBC co-production The Honorable Woman is not one you are likely to see in a mainstream movie; she is strong, intelligent and poised and like a lot of fascinating characters there is a flip side where this crumbles. Having seen the first four episodes I can attest that Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Nessa Stein is complicated and her performance so far has been exceptional.

*Keri Russell talks about this during the recent THR roundtable and her role in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes vs. The Americans is a pretty accurate example of why TV is viewed in this way over the more reductive roles that are generally on offer for women in film.

It’s not hard to see why Gyllenhaal took on a role like this and the beauty of TV is that there is so much more time to explore and dissect a character benefiting both performer and viewer. The idea that so many people watch TV as opposed to some of the tiny indie passion projects they have made gets referenced on multiple occasions.

Netflix is given praise for putting out a project like Orange is the New Black as it’s a show that has such strength in its diversity and the lack of restrictions on the content gives further creative freedom. This is a career high for Taylor Schilling (and when they were talking about film all I could think about was her cut down role as the wife in Argo) and her enthusiasm for this opportunity is obvious, particularly when previous work/heartbreak is brought up.

The manner in which these different shows are filmed varies from Maggie Gyllenhaal receiving all eight scripts at the start and shooting scenes for multiple episodes on the same day (all written and directed by Hugo Blick) to Lucy Liu’s episode by episode traditional network model with a variety of directors (including herself). TV can be many things including auteur like projects, adaptations of popular novels with both long and short form storytelling coming into play.

One thing that comes across from this panel (and at just over an hour and a half a lot of ground is covered) is that all four of these women have experienced some things they haven’t necessarily been comfortable with and they have had to learn how to say no when it hasn’t felt right to them. Mira Sorvino is thrilled to find out that she is not alone in having felt like and there is a lot of common ground despite the differences in how they started out/where they are now. Self belief and belief from others are both driving forces and the ability to remain hopeful is a repeated notion. As one audience member points out it is kind of like having a free therapy session and getting to hear some of these candid thoughts in a free flowing long discussion makes this panel essential viewing.

Maggie Gyllenhaal brings up how ideas of perfection in this industry are something she wishes could fall away a bit. The double standard is another aspect of this and she mentions that the scrutiny is far greater on woman than it is for men (from her experience of living with an actor). Lucy Liu also points out how easy it is to share projects with the technology we have, but she also wishes that people weren’t so quick to tear something apart.

This is just a brief taster of the subjects that are covered and both Maggie Gyllenhaal and Taylor Schilling talk about the current cultural relevance of their shows among other aspects that concern the broader and more personal aspects of their careers. You can currently watch the whole panel here.

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

25 Jul

The TCA Summer Tour is over and Comic Con is in full flow; this edition of “Out of the Box” features a lot of the former and a hint of the latter.

Diane Kruger TCADiane Kruger is stunning in at The Bridge panel wearing Roksanda; a designer that always brings a pop of color and intrigue (Lizzy Caplan was a highlight in Roksanda last week). The color-blocking of the dress using an array of shapes makes it feel like the dress version of a toddler learning game and it is pretty mesmerizing.  Bold strappy two-tone pink and black Dior sandals add to yet another Kruger standout.

Michelle DockeryMichelle Dockery always brings her A game when promoting Downton Abbey and this Victoria Beckham Fall 2014 ensemble is delightful. Dockery manages to work the classics without falling into cliche “English Rose” territory by keeping things contemporary; the gold chain adds something to the simple navy top while not detracting from the abstract print of the skirt. Cool dark denim heels complete this look.

Mindy Kaling TCAAt the Fox All-Star party Mindy Kaling stands out in a jade green Tadashi Shoji dress and you can always rely on Kaling to wear something that will add a dash of color to proceedings. That or at least some sparkles. The cut is great on her and the minimal accessories/striking lipstick sets it off.

Michaela ConlinAnother super colorful outfit at the Fox All-Star with Bones’ Michaela Conlin pairing an electric blue sleeveless shift dress with a pair of bubblegum pink pumps. Hey, it is a summer party after all.

Caroline DhavernasWhen doing the promotional thing Comic Con is a little different outfit wise as while there is a huge audience, it is a much more casual attire affair and so it can be a tricky one (particularly for woman as dudes turn up in jeans and tees for regular photo calls as opposed to the much more put together female attire, I’ve ranted about this in the past).

Caroline Dhavernas’ Hannibal panel ensemble is cute and the seersucker shirt/patterned skirt has the hint of Alana Bloom if Alana was on vacation and drinking a cocktail. I also have worn the reverse of this outfit recently. While some information was revealed about Hannibal’s third season, there was no word as to what role (if any) Dhavernas will play. I’m hoping her presence at SDCC is a hint that she will be back.   

10 New Yorker TV Posts: From The Hummingbird Theory to Reality TV

24 Jul

The New Yorker has dropped the paywall for all articles dating back to 2007 for the summer and now is the time to catch up on seven years of writing that you may have missed or only read select quotes from. The New Yorker is calling this “a summer-long free-for-all” as they launch their new site and introduce a similar system to The New York Times in the fall. Content wise they are also introducing a Daily Cultural Comment column “in which our critics and other writers confront everything from the latest debates over the impact of technology to the latest volume from Chicago, Oslo, or Lima and the ongoing sagas of Don Draper, Daenerys Targaryen, and Hannah Horvath.”

With this in mind I have selected 10 articles with a link to television including some of my favorite pieces from current TV critic Emily Nussbaum (who makes up just under half the entries and hates lists, sorry Emily), recollections from Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, a range of genres and one profile that is about a current pop culture queen back in 2011 (this one is the exception to the TV focus of this list).

EnlightenedIn the same package as The Hour boxset and another show on my catch up list is Enlightened and Emily Nussbaum’s Hummingbird Theory draws on Laura Dern’s Amy Jellicoe from Enlightened among others like Leslie Knope and Carrie Mathison. It is something we touched upon during our Comeback discussions and these kinds of characters are “idealistic feminine dreamers whose personalities are irritants.”

Emily Nussbaum’s essay on Sex and the City in reaction to Brett Martin’s Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Wire’ to ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad is one of my favorite Nussbaum New Yorker pieces. Nussbaum looks for reasons beyond the terrible movies as to why Sex and the City has lost its place in TV legacy discussions. All while pointing out its groundbreaking position and reinforcing why it was one of the most talked about shows beyond its ties to fashion.

Continuing with Emily Nussbaum and female centric shows that spark a lot of debate/column inches with Nussbaum’s thoughts on the sex scene in one of the most discussed and beloved (and hated) episodes of Girls “One Man’s Trash.”

The final piece from current New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum is an examination of the variety – quality and genre – of work from one of the most controversial and prolific showrunners working in TV at the moment; Ryan Murphy.

Tina Fey wrote about her experiences on SNL and the lessons from working on late night in an essay from her book Bossypants (there are slight differences between the two).

Nailing those pre-college summer job feelings and slowly realizing what she wanted to do with her life is Amy Poehler in “Take Your Licks.”

Emily Greenhouse says goodbye to Gossip Girl and makes sure to mention Dan Humphrey’s fictitious New Yorker submission.

Last year Lauren Collins asked why so many (myself included) have become obsessed with Scandinavian television tracking the success of Forbrydelsen (The Killing), Broen (The Bridge) and Borgen.

While I don’t necessarily agree with everything in Nancy Franklin’s reality TV analysis in “Frenemy Territory” it is fun to look back to 2008 when reality shows like The Hills were at peak popularity.

This last recommendation is a slight cheat as it isn’t strictly TV (SNLCSI and Teen Mom all get a mention), it is however a fascinating look at the Taylor Swift angst empire back in 2011. Lizzie Widdicombe talks about Swift’s “unjaded sincerity no matter how contrived the situation” in “You Belong with Me” and it’s just as relevant now three years later.

Summer Rewind: The Hour

23 Jul

The summer TV schedule isn’t as light as it once was and so it can be harder to squeeze in catch up projects of recent and not so long ago shows you missed. Last year I blasted through Scandal and took a slightly longer route with The Comeback, pairing a current show dominating discussion with one that is often featured on “Canceled Too Soon” lists (The Comeback is making its own comeback much to my delight in November). In a somewhat unplanned decision this has been repeated this year, first with Game of Thrones taking the Scandal position followed by the 2011 BBC 2 series The Hour.

Why I didn’t watch The Hour when it first aired is a bit of a mystery as it has all the elements that I find appealing – great cast, a writer I admire, a 1950s setting, fantastic looking costumes and a spy plot – and it’s even more curious as to why it has taken me so long to get to it. Yesterday I contemplated a Gossip Girl rewatch (I blame Preserve and this incredible Leighton Meester op-ed) and instead decided it was time to start The Hour as the boxset had been sitting on my desk untouched for a week. The length of the show (a total of 12 episodes) as it was pointed out to me on Twitter made the choice a no-brainer. And I’m so glad I did as less than 24 hours later I have finished season 1; it’s love.

Drooling over the costume design and giving out Diane Lockhart broach accessorizing points has occurred throughout these first six episodes and there will be a separate post dedicated to costuming. A more general approach to the first season is how I will be tackling The Hour today and there are some slight spoilers throughout.

The Hour cast shotIt’s 1956 and the world is feeling pretty unstable; the Cold War rages on and there is political unrest across the globe. These larger events are told through a new BBC news program which distills the events of the week into “The Hour.” The Suez Crisis frames much of the first season and just like a current HBO show it uses real events to infuse tension into the story as we see how the characters respond to the big story.

Unlike The Newsroom it doesn’t feel like it is preaching or attempting to teach in a condescending manner. This might have something to do with the time frame as there are only going to be a certain number of viewers who remember the Suez Crisis whereas you can all but guarantee that the BP oil spill or 9/11 are relatively fresh memories for The Newsroom’s audience. One other notable difference is The Hour is created and written by Abi Morgan, whereas Aaron Sorkin is at the helm of The Newsroom; a repeated criticism of Sorkin’s recent project is the treatment of the female characters and while The Hour is set in a time where sexism was far more inherent, it comes across as the more enlightened of the two. Bel still faces comments and assumptions based on her gender, but she’s allowed to make mistakes without looking like an idiot. No they don’t have email in The Hour, but I bet they wouldn’t pull the same stunt as MacKenzie’s “send all” error. Comparison time over.

The HourGetting accurate information when reporting the news is still not an easy task in 2014, even harder in 1956 without the technology that can hinder as much as help in the present day. The phone is one of the most reliable forms they have in The Hour and seeing reels of film getting cut together evokes nostalgic feelings for a form that was in no doubt way more of faff. And yet there is something glorious about seeing the individual frames.

Idealism, cynicism and pragmatism create a constant push/pull between the three leads; while the establishment they work for is dedicated to an impartial position there is still a rigid power system in place that threatens to censor and assert control. Freddie’s tenacity and drive to find the truth has the potential to destroy everything they have all worked towards and there are other sinister operatives at play with a mole in the BBC (*sidenote* thanks to a saturation of moles on 24 I often roll my eyes at this plot point, I did think it was well executed here and fits the cloak and dagger nature of the time period). What drives these characters varies and ambition is far more important to Dominic West’s Hector than the pursuit of truth, for Bel (the fantastic Romola Garai) she wants to keep the job she has worked so hard for and yet she is willing to risk it for the story.

the hour bel and freddieConflict comes in all forms including romantic entanglements such as the affair between the married Hector – Oona Chaplin plays his high society wife Marnie who knows of his affairs and uses the great tool of denial with a broad fake smile to maintain the facade – and Bel. Affairs can be dangerous and this one between producer and presenter has all the trappings of broken hearts and the potential for ruining careers. Enter Freddie as Bel’s best friend, he stands in the shadows pining for the woman he calls Moneypenny (the first James Bond novel Casino Royale was published in 1953 and a copy sits on Freddie’s desk) and he not so subtly infers his love for her on many occasion quoting E.E. Cummings and stirring up all my shipper feelings. There’s an intimacy between these two that can be summed up by unspoken cigarette sharing and how comfortable they are in each other’s company. Tumblr gif sets I will be coming for you later.

Balancing a variety of stories including wars raging on several continents with tensions on the homefront and tying them together through acts of espionage makes the big story personal; Freddie justified his reckless actions for this reason and his passion for the truth is both dangerous and honorable. There is of course the potential for a character like Freddie to become a “troubled genius who is always right” trope and yet he is grounded thanks to such a strong performance from Ben Whishaw, his relationship/chemistry with Bel and because the writing doesn’t quite go ‘there’ with Freddie. There is some sense of self-awareness even as he nears the edge of the precarious path he is on. How long it will stay like this is unclear at this point and the next six episodes are sitting on my desk just crying out to be watched.

God Help the Girl Trailer: “You’re Going to Need a Pop Group”

22 Jul

Time to take a TV intermission with the trailer and a song from God Help the Girl. Wistfully staring up at my ceiling instead of doing homework was a frequent activity while listening to Belle and Sebastian as daydreams are at the heart of their lyrics. Lead singer Stuart Murdoch expanded the Belle and Sebastian world in 2009 with a female vocalist group God Help the Girl and it is an album that has been on constant rotation (particularly when the weather warms up). It’s one of my favorites to dance around the living room to (and also makes for good writing/procrastinating music) and this film project by the same name is high up on the anticipated list.

God Help the Girl posterGod Help the Girl is a coming-of-age story set during a summer in Glasgow featuring three emotionally adrift musicians who form an indie-pop band together. Starring Emily Browning, Olly Alexander and Hannah Murray (Skins and Game of Thrones) it looks set to show a period in your life where possibilities are endless with dance and song. Plus there are so many cute dresses, capey goodness and knitwear aplenty in the trailer. Also be on the lookout for the full David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust makeup approach. Oh and for anyone who has read this, yes I have made it my new mission to find out the brand/shade that Emily Browning is wearing on the poster.

As a film/band this might fall into a “Too Twee” category for some, for me however this is optimal levels of charm and so I will be reaching for more nearest tea dress (which won’t be hard to find in my closet) when I see this film. For now I will be dancing around the confines of my house (which is best for anyone who has seen my clunky/awkward moves).

Listen to one of the tracks from the film below and God Help the Girl is released in the UK August 22 (with special screenings on the 16) and September in the US.

Masters of Sex 2.02 “Kyrie Eleison” Review: “You’re Not Your Worst Part”

21 Jul

Masters of Sex is interested in far more than the act that can lead to another life and “Kyrie Eleison” (Greek for “Lord, have mercy“) takes a look at the various life lessons that have been passed down from mother to daughter; stigma, loss and misunderstanding are all prevalent. While we already know so much about Bill’s own unhappy childhood and difficult relationship with his mother – so much more than he has ever shared with Libby – it is time to shine the spotlight on several of the other female characters. Part of this occurs through the teenage patient Rose and ethical quandary Bill finds himself in, but it’s also a lot more organic than every character interacting with Rose and spinning off this ‘case of the week.’

Masters of Sex 2.02 Bill and BettyBill is in a fight with Betty as she’s faking fertility treatments to keep her husband happy and Bill is not thrilled with his role in this charade. This is the second time Betty has blackmailed Bill while using the study as leverage – in season 1 she provided the brothel where Bill observed, now she holds the key to the funding – and despite threatening to tell Gene everything, Bill doesn’t want to jeopardize his new position in this manner. Betty keeps referring to his “dopey sex study” something Bill takes great offense to as this study could dramatically change how people view sex and the medical conditions that are currently referred to as “deviant behavior.”

Rose despairs because there is darkness inside her and she thinks sterilization is the only way to “fix” her problem; there are appearances to keep up as her mother wants her out and ready for cotillion. Once again the WASP way of sweeping everything under the carpet and the favors that come with a sizable donation look set to win this argument.* Greathouse already looks like he is going to be a problem as he completely misunderstands the point of the sex study and there’s clearly something going on between him and Bill’s new secretary Barbs (the amazing Betsy Brandt).

*It’s hard not to think of Dawson’s Creek and the reason Jen Lindlay was sent to live with her Grams; her parents caught her in bed with another boy at a similar age to when Rose was first caught. It’s a common tale of repressing sexuality in teens by sending them away and one that leads to far more shame. Basically don’t send your kids away for shit like this. It is not the cure. 

Masters of Sex 2.02 Bill's officeIt’s a ballsy move for Bill to go against orders this early in his job at Memorial, but Bill is not going to stand by and be told what is best for his patient just because privilege is at play. We rarely see Bill’s tender side and it often occurs when he has a patient who is being oppressed – in season 1 he helped a woman who had an abusive husband and he didn’t play by the segregation rules on a ward – here he sees what could be a hopeful future for Rose as long as she understands that “You’re not your worst part.” There is hope through understanding and this is why this sex study is so vital, so people stop calling others tramps and whores (sadly this still happens regardless of better understanding).

Betty has her own life lesson to impart on Rose and she’s been an eavesdropping bystander to the whole case; she also has her own experience when it comes to sterilization and she unsuccessfully attempted to reverse the procedure last season. Betty’s mother called her a tramp and a whore for as long as Betty could take before she snapped. Betty’s version of standing up for herself comes with dark consequences as she used the heel of her pump to strike her mother which resulted in blindness and a glass eye. Betty realizes that this might not be the best advice and she’s equally surprised when Rose mentions Bill’s words of wisdom. If only Bill would let others in beyond his patients and Virginia (on the rarest of occasions). No, Bill is more likely to let out his feelings when he is alone as we see when he emotionally reacts to what happened to Barton.

Shoe observations represent more than just a violent act for Betty as her expensive heel break when a past client bumps into her in the hospital corridor. Betty utters that $50 shoes are just as poorly made as $5 ones and despite her expensive furs (which she wears several of this week) there is always someone lurking to remind her of who she used to be. Betty mother was the first to call her these names and it is hard to escape something that ingrained, even when you’ve freed yourself from those ties.

Masters of Sex 2.02 VirginiaVirginia is still facing dirty looks and unwanted attention as a result of the study and the one doctor who appeared to be different from the other multiple leery advances turns out to be the kind of guy Virginia accused him of being last week. Under the guise of finding out about their research techniques Virginia gives a detailed explanation of how Ulysses works to Dr Ditmer and he ends up getting more than just a little turned on by scientific terms like “vaginal sweating.” Yep the dude lets it all out and if it wasn’t so scuzzy then it might make for an interesting write up for the study. Instead Virginia is rightfully horrified at this encounter and then pissed when an elevator full of woman ignores her calls to hold it for her. If that sweater wasn’t so cute I would probably suggest Ginny burns her clothes to get the skeeze off.

There is one doctor who is not pursuing Virginia’s romantic attention; his horndog status is well publicized and he hits on patients and yet Dr. Austin Langham has no interest in Virginia. Austin like Virginia has had his private affairs aired publicly and the big difference here is that assumptions are being made about Gini and she’s either ostracized or leered at, whereas Austin can still hold a booze soaked party in his office and get a good attendance. Ah, those classic double standards (the Friday Night Lights season 1 episode “It’s Different for Girls” demonstrates this perfectly) and instead of refusing Austin’s offer to dance, I’m glad to see Virginia driving into the skid (to borrow Austin’s metaphor) and not hide herself away. I’m not sure I agree with his lone wolf analogy and it sounds like Austin has been getting more therapy, but this pairing as just friends is so utterly delightful.

Those who dislike Virginia extend beyond those who work there; Vivian Scully makes sure her opinions are well and truly heard by everyone within a 50 meter radius when she comes to get her broken arm checked out. Vivian is still reeling from her own family tragedy and Virginia’s attempt to act like BFFs riles her and she gets an emotional release by berating Virginia about Ethan. What this conversation does is give Virginia information, however limited that something has happened to Barton as he has taken a leave of absence, information that she imparts on Bill who in turn goes to see Vivian about what really happened. Even though Vivian doesn’t know and really doesn’t want to hear it most likely, Virginia helps her out even after she tells her that she will end up “old and ugly and alone.”

Masters of Sex 2.02 Lillian and GinnyThis brings me to my favorite relationship of the show; Virginia and Lillian. Masters of Sex creator Michelle Ashford spoke to Time last week and this quote really resonates:

“I think sometimes female friendships tend to be portrayed as either ‘We’re best friends and tell each other everything’ or ‘I did like you but now we want the same man, so I hate you.’ But the truth of female friendships is they are often as complicated as romantic relationships, sibling relationships, mother/daughter relationships — there’s competition between women, and envy, women can be both very judgmental and incredibly selfless in the love and support they offer one another. There are a million emotions under the sun that play out in female friendships, and I think we’re just committed to making the women (and their friendships) that we portray on our show as very specific.”

The Lillian/Virginia relationship is incredibly complicated and we see it in yet another light in “Kyrie Eleison” as Virginia takes on a motherly role with her boss. Lillian’s getting more and more words mixed up and Virginia is concerned this has something to do with her cancer (my booze theory was way off). Virginia takes charge and books an appointment with Lillian’s oncologist and the prognosis is not great; they are both fighters and so Virginia refuses to see this as a defeat. Virginia takes Lillian’s “every good fight begins with pizza” as another word mix up, far from it and I’m totally with Lillian.

Prior to this the pair have a bathroom chat (and anyone who read my My So-Called Life discussions knows how much I adore a TV bathroom chat) to do with the film Virginia wants Lillian to make rather than plain old pamphlets. Virginia goes a bit stage mom as she insists Lillian wears makeup to reduce the shine – “What does makeup have to do with medicine?” – with Lillian playing the part of reluctant daughter (this is good advice and something Richard Nixon will regret not knowing very soon in this timeline). It brings up their own mothers with Virginia describing a woman who had big dreams for herself and her daughter (and it sounds like mother did not get her own) and Lillian’s had a passion for bridge, or rather she killed herself off a bridge and it suddenly becomes clear why she is so guarded and driven. Hugely different experiences, but they are drawn together in this incredibly tender friendship that started in a combative place.

Masters of Sex 2.02Bonding over tales of childhood occurs in the Masters house too; not between Libby and Bill (which really would be a shocking moment), but with the nanny Libby has hired to help with baby Johnny after Bill sent his mother packing. Coral lost her mother at a young age like Libby and Libby shares a whole lot about her fears regarding Bill’s distance and discomfort with the baby. There is a sisterly vibe as Libby takes Coral’s hand and what fun things they have planned. The atmosphere changes when Libby can’t find a solution to Johnny’s crying in her Dr. Benjamin Spock book and starts to fret. It’s compounded further by Bill’s arrival home and his inability to hide his annoyance at the loud crying. Swaddling is the solution, something Coral does and Bill is all “well, duh, I did tell you that.” Not helping, Bill.

Masters of Sex 2.02 LibbyThe atmosphere changes and what started as gal pals shifts to a more traditional employer/employee definition in the most cringy way possible. Libby feels scolded and stupid for the swaddling incident and so she lashes out in an extremely passive aggressive manner as she patronizes Coral by pointing out how she pronounces things incorrectly. Libby uses the guise of being a team and having to present themselves in the same way, but no this is her exerting her power through her privilege and it’s pretty ugly. One other shift is that Libby is wearing a whole lot of pants – something she barely did last season – and there is still a strong feminine style with the choice of capri pants and soft color sweaters. Coral’s attire reflects her young age and has a school girl innocence to it, particularly the white ankle socks in the first photo. Race was briefly addressed last season, though in no kind of depth and while Libby has liberal views her jealousy and insecurities could provide their own conflicts in this area.

Masters of Sex 2.02 BillBill has already started using his new job as an excuse to avoid home and the affair they say isn’t an affair continues as the episode is bookended with trips to the hotel. The research is now taking a more psychological direction which will have implications on both a personal level and on a grand scale that could change how people see certain types of behavior. Bill still stands in the shadows making his excuses to his wife even as he tries to shine a light on what some consider to be a sinful act. You can still be your own worst enemy even when dishing out great advice like “you’re not your worst part.”

Game of Thrones in Discussion: From Spoiler Culture to Style Inspiration

18 Jul

Over the past couple of months I finally did that thing that I have been saying I would do for the past three years and I watched Game of Thrones. After mainlining four seasons I wanted to discuss everything GoT related that I have tried to avoid up to now, which in turn brings me to a relatively recent prevalent pop culture hot topic; spoilers. I am joined by my Felicity discussion partner Julie Hammerle to look at the many GoT talking points of including spoiler culture, the books vs. the show, nudity, violence, the exquisite costuming and who our Westeros style inspiration is. Speaking of spoilers we talk about everything up to the end of season 4 with a brief abstract mention of the thing that didn’t happen at the end of this recent season.

TyrionEmma: Game of Thrones has been part of the pop culture conversation for the past 3 years (18 if you factor when the books was first published as this Buzzfeed “18 things that turn 18 this year” listicle informed me – off topic but Romeo + Juliet makes me feel the oldest) and for most of those three years I have been saying that yes I do want to watch and will catch up soon. Well that finally happened recently and I can now finally stop trying to avoid chat, photos and anything GoT related to stay as spoiler free as possible. In fact spoilers might be a good place to start this discussion as it’s become such a cultural phenomenon with anti-spoiler zealots often shouting the loudest (this essay by Todd VanDerWerff on this subject is pretty great) and it’s pretty hard to catch up on something like GoT without knowing a few of the big story beats.

Brutal and violent death is one constant on GoT (nudity is another, which I am sure we will talk about later) and by killing Ned Stark in season 1 (and book 1) both George RR Martin and David Benioff/D. B. Weiss are sending out a message to say that in this world there is no one who is safe. Sean Bean is the most famous person in that season 1 cast and of course it was a big shock to kill off the star (though Bean’s filmography and this handy montage show that it would be way more surprising if Bean had lived). The season 2 artwork featured Ned’s head on a spike and I saw a lot of people who hadn’t watched S1 complain how this was a major spoiler, however this is a case where HBO shouldn’t refrain from using something that has happened (in a previous season) to protect those who have yet to watch.

This is why I don’t mind that I knew about who died at the Red Wedding (well two of the big ones) or when Joffrey was going to meet his end. Those spoilers are on me as I spend time in a TV heavy discussion area on Twitter and online in general, that is all on me finding out. What I do want to look at in terms of spoilers is how it then impacted how I watched and what it added/took away. I also want to ask you about your position as a book reader and how being in this privileged position in terms of what you know is coming up (or not as they change the material) shapes how you watch.

I spent most of season 1 waiting for Ned Stark to die and even though I knew which episode it happened in, it didn’t take away any of the tension because knowing doesn’t necessarily reduce the desire to see the opposite happen. To bring it back to Romeo and Juliet even though you know they’re both going to die it doesn’t stop you desiring the impossible and for Romeo to see Juliet’s fluttering eyelids before he drinks the poison. So in a similar vein I knew his head was going to get loped off and I still willed it not to happen; it was also fun working out who was going to be behind his downfall (always Littlefinger).

WolfieSeason 2 is the only one I knew nothing about and I guess ultimately it’s the one with no HUGE deaths. Red Wedding has been a term that I have been so familiar with and yet I didn’t know whose wedding it was going to be or who would be the one behind the killings. I had a good idea that Catelyn Stark was dunzo as this is an image I saw everywhere and Robb’s death was one I was certain of. Knowing that it happened in episode 9 (always episode 9) meant I spent the whole thing with my stomach churning due to the tension and it was the stomach stabbing of Talisa that drew the biggest gasp from me, quickly followed by the shooting of Grey Wind in front of Arya – I have a habit of yelling “Woolfie” at the screen when any of the direwolves appear like I’m a toddler or something so I was particularly upset by this.

If tension and dread sponsored this episode then pure joy was behind the Purple Wedding of season 4. I’ve watched all of GoT with my now fiance (still sounds so weird/too formal) Titch and he’s also had some prior knowledge of certain storylines, though we haven’t wanted to reveal what we knew to each other in case the other didn’t know that bit. Jofffrey’s death is something we had both found out about and in this case I had the upper hand as I knew the how and the when, just not the who. It made this episode more fun in a way as they make Joffrey his most vile self to give those final moments a much bigger punch and so while he is being this disgusting I took pleasure in what was about to happen. Pretty much a reverse reaction to the previous deathly nuptials (also getting heaps of ideas of how not to throw a wedding).

There are many other spoiler points I can reference like how a friend mentioned Tywin’s death as he misheard me saying I was only on episode 8 of the most recent season or how if an actor was on a different show it probably meant their character had met their end (like Jason Momoa). Or how as soon I finished the last episode I immediately looked up what book fans were mad about being omitted (and holy shit LSH would have been an amazing scene to end with). Before I go on any further I want to hand over to you and what you think about spoilers in general and books vs. the show. You know, the easy stuff, haha.

Game of Thrones red weddingJulie: The reason I started reading and watching Game of Thrones was because of a spoiler. I opened up my Entertainment Weekly a few weeks (days?) after the infamous Season 1 episode and saw a picture of Ned Stark’s head rolling across the ground. That blew me away. I had never seen the show and I didn’t know much about it, but the fact that the biggest actor, the lead actor, could be killed off like that intrigued me.

I started by watching the pilot episode, but it didn’t grip me right away. I had trouble distinguishing the young men from one another, and I just felt kind of lost. So, instead of 86-ing the whole enterprise, I jumped in and started reading the books, so obviously I saw something there that I liked.

The books are my everything, though you wouldn’t know it by the way I read them. I burned through the first book (and immediately watched the first season). It took me almost six months to finish A Clash of Kings. I read A Storm of Swords in two weeks. I let A Feast for Crows linger on my (digital) shelf for almost a year. And then I read A Dance with Dragons over the course of about a month. Apparently I’m very motivated to read the odd-numbered books.

Knowing about Ned Stark’s death didn’t impact my enjoyment either. Like you, I had no idea how we’d get to that point, and I had no idea about the other surprise deaths that would happen along the way — King Robert, Drogo, and Viserys, namely. While people love to talk about the Big Shocking Moments, this show is way more than a few brutal deaths. What happens between the deaths is what makes the show so compelling.

Ned Stark GoT(Though, honestly, part of the reason I read Book 3 so quickly was because I saw someone on Twitter mention that they had gotten to the point in ASOS that everyone “speaks about in hushed tones.” I just HAD to see what that part way. I just had to! And honestly, when Catelyn and Robb got popped in the middle of the book, I wasn’t all that shocked about it. Maybe I was shocked about Catelyn’s death. As far as Robb went, I knew he’d be a goner eventually. I actually thought the show did a better job of mining the tension from the Red Wedding than the book did. Adding the stomach stabbing was horrifyingly potent.)

As the show continues, though, the writers have started to take more liberties with the source material (probably since GRRM is taking his sweet time finishing the series, but don’t tell him that). There are a few characters who are alive in the book, but have died on the show (and vice versa, actually). The Theon storyline in seasons 3 and 4 didn’t happen until the fourth book. The stuff with the crows attacking Craster’s Keep this season was manufactured just to give the Crows something to do (I’m assuming). And heading into the next few seasons, which will focus on two books that are so scattered, geographically and story-wise, I have no idea how they’re going to handle it. And I do have concerns that many of the Big Moments have come and gone. I’m sure the writers feel like they owe it to the TV-only fans to manufacture some new Big Moments, and I wonder what they’ll come up with.

AryaEmma: I rewatched the pilot after the season 4 finale – I was in that post finishing funk and it felt like a good use of my time – and of course it reads in an entirely different manner. On first watch there are so many names and dynamics to take on board, plus something bristles pretty bad about the inherent misogyny that pretty much all of the female characters are subjected to. It’s like when you first watch Mad Men and it’s hard to not react to the situation these women find themselves in. Of course they have power in many other ways (and not just boobs thankfully, though that is also an issue on occasions), but it’s hard to adjust to the overt masculinity that’s on screen. Like straight away Arya was favourite character, pretty much from when she shot the arrow while Bran was failing miserably and Cersei is clearly the HBIC (with Catelyn a close second), it just doesn’t necessarily leap off the screen like that straight away.

In fact I watched season 1 at a pretty steady pace, a few episodes here and there. And then I think I probably watch 2-4 in the same amount of time it took to do the first one. It sometimes takes a while to get into something and it was the moment where Littlefinger betrays Ned that it all clicked into place for me and I understood why everyone is so mad for this show. And you’re right, the deaths can be shocking but it’s how these characters react and adapt to these moments that is far more interesting to watch. Big Moments are easier in a way, it’s the what happens after that is harder and can be way more compelling.

That’s interesting about the books and ha to GRRM’s reaction to that question. I do want to read them, I just know that my current reading pile is ridiculous and I really shouldn’t start something I have already watched, if that makes sense. Maybe when the new book comes out I will catch up.

The position of reader and knowing when the Big Moments are coming can be beneficial, but now those are pretty much done I guess it means book readers might be more concerned, whereas just watchers are blissfully ignorant. It must be kinda fun when they go off book as you’re now in for surprises too. Am I right that the Bran story is now up to date with where the book is? Creepy children and tree people.

I have one more book related question before I move onto more show based thoughts (like how much I want to talk about the costuming, because oh my word are they beyond incredible) and that’s if there are characters/locations that you like on the page and not on the screen or vice versa? Like I’ve grown very restless with Daenerys scenes (except for her costume design and Daario) and never tire of King’s Landing.

Cersei Game of ThronesJulie: First of all, the ladies. Maybe it’s because I read the books first, but I’ve never really gotten the whole “this show is so misogynist” thing. I actually wrote a post about how the show is very good for women (horn toot). The women in the books and show have to play by the rule of the male dominated society, but they all find ways around them. They all find their way of grabbing for power, some overtly (Dany) and some covertly (Cersei, and now Sansa).

One thing I love about the way GRRM writes women is that he doesn’t treat them as a monolith. Every woman on this show is her own person, fully realized. Do we like all of these women? No, which I think is fabulous. They all have their strengths and faults. He allows them to fail and succeed in equal measure with the men. There aren’t a lot of stereotypical Strong Female Characters here.

Daenerys is the exception. She’s sort of the Mary Sue of the story, and obviously the one GRRM is rooting for. At this point, everything she’s done has been above board and has worked out well for her. And it drives me crazy. Her story is the least compelling to me, in the books and on screen. There’s always been this subtext that Dany is the one who will drag Westeros out of the mess, and I just think that’s too easy and boring. Or maybe GRRM will shock us all (again) and kill Dany in Book 6. I would cheer. I’m a jerk.

As far as the stories I like vs. the ones I don’t on screen and off…Bran’s stuff bores me in the books, but I kind of like it on screen (and, yes, his story is all caught up now). The two POV characters that are my favorites right now in the books (as of Book 5, A Dance With Dragons) were two of the most boring stories early on, in my opinion. Those characters are Jon Snow and Davos. On the show, we haven’t gotten to their ADWD stories obviously, so who knows. But right now those two really don’t do much for me on the show. Jon has his moments, but I’m hoping they’ll really beef up the complexity of his character in the coming seasons. And the Davos stuff, without revealing anything, he ends up going off on his own to places we haven’t been before, generally proving what a savvy badass he is wherever he goes. The show has shown us glimmers of this kick ass Davos, but I want more, MORE.

I’ve said enough. Let’s talk about costumes!

Goth SansaEmma: Woah to the article that prompted your GoT/women viewers piece and I was trying to figure out if the original is satire because it hurts my brain if those are real thoughts.

When it comes to HBO and nudity it is disappointing that it’s generally a whole lot of boobs and not all that much male nudity, my response is eye rolls more than anything – The Leftovers might be setting a new record as I don’t think there’s been any female nudity, brief flashback aside in three episodes. I was surprised to see Theon’s favorite toy before it got lopped off in season 1 so there has been dong on at least one occasion. I am also thankful for the Daario stripping scene to take this down to the most superficial level I can. Sexual violence and the threat of it is something I think that is used too often and the Cersei/Jaime scene made no sense and was incredibly disappointing, particularly when I heard how the book version was different. I know I’ve asked a few book questions already, but how did you feel about this whole debate?

la_ca_0224_game_of_throneI’m also glad that the power wielded by the women on this show is varied and goes beyond their sexuality. Manipulation is the tool that Cersei has mastered over the years and she’s terrifying. Cersei does have a weakness and that’s her kids, but this doesn’t feel like the usual motherhood cliches that get portrayed on TV time and time again. I’m also really pleased to see Lena Headey up for an Emmy as she’s killed it this season. Strength comes in other ways – Brienne is awkward, but physically strong and incredibly loyal. I’m going to miss the friendship that developed between Jaime and Brienne, but he sure does know how to give a good parting gift and her new armor is very impressive. Arya as I’ve mentioned is my favorite and yet the other Stark sister has gone up in my estimations.

Sansa gets a bit of a raw deal from both viewer reactions (I’ve heard many call her whiny, which she was at first because she was a brat and definitely had a right to be after everything she has gone through at King’s Landing) and the shit she has dealt with. I forgot how young she was playing so when Tyrion asked her age and she said 14 my jaw dropped on the floor. Sansa’s crowning moment comes in the form of Goth Sansa in the last episode we saw her in and this is one of my favorite costumes from GoT’s entire run. I’m really looking forward to seeing what lessons she has taken from her time with Cersei and those imbued on her by her mother.

The ladies of the Tyrell family are also good fun to watch and while I worry that Margaery is in over her head, I enjoy watching Natalie Dormer navigating those treacherous waters and Diana Rigg as Bad Gran (okay Olenna) is incredible. Another Emmy nominations that I was happy to see.

This is a good place to discuss costumes (also Emmy nominated) and I’m constantly in awe with what I see on screen. This is also where the women truly shine as while the armor is of course incredible, it’s the different styles and color palettes that get used for the female characters that stand out. Blue is dominant for Daenerys, the Tyrells and Brienne so am I right in assuming these are their family colors? Red and gold is of course Lannister and the Starks wear much more muted tones (Arya’s got brown down now). It’s all about those fur pelts up north. I do associate green with Catelyn, is this the House Tully color?

This distinctive approach helps for a variety of reasons, partly so you can identify who everyone is and where they fit in this expansive world. Costume is of course used to show wealth and by that extension the Lannister gold is showing just how rich they are and how happy they are to show their wealth. No one likes a show off. Cersei’s dress that featured a metal breast plate is probably my favorite piece on the show so far, I am also partial to Margaery’s plunging necklines and her wedding dress is also a highlight. Daenerys graduating to pants as her power grew is also up there for me.  Before I go on, I want to throw it back to you to see what has stood out to you? Whose wardrobe would you like to try in the real world? Maybe for your Mimi going down the park moments.

GoT C and MJulie: First of all, about Jaime and Cersei’s relationship — I was really upset by the rape scene, for obvious reasons, but also because it didn’t feel true to the Jaime character. He is very loyal and thinks of the greater good. He loves his sister; I truly think he does. I just can’t reconcile the character that I’ve gotten to know over the past five books with this guy who would force his sister to have sex with him in front of their son’s corpse. (That was a sentence I never thought I’d type.)

There has been some discussion about the fact that this scene occurs from Jaime’s POV in the book, and maybe he thought it was consensual and the TV show was just supposing it wasn’t, which I suppose makes sense, but it still doesn’t jibe with everything we’ve learned about him.

Also, I love Sansa. She is one of my favorite characters on the show and in the books. I liked her from the start because she’s obviously someone who has a lot of growing to do, and we’ve seen her do it. I also love her relationship with the Hound, which hasn’t been highlighted as much in the show. I totally ship them. She’s the girl who has been looking for a handsome knight to save her. He’s the unlikely brute to do it. (And, yeah, I know we saw that Sandor Clegane was left for dead in the last episode of the show, but even in the books, we’re still not sure of his whereabouts. If you don’t see someone die on this show, assume they’re not dead. Hell, even if you do see them die.)

GoT DaenerysI looked up the sigils. House Tully is red and blue. House Tyrell is green and gold. Lannister, red and gold. Stark, black and gray, which really goes with the dark, winter motif. House Targaryen is red and black, which doesn’t really fit Dany’s blue wardrobe. I’m assuming the blue is represents her calm demeanor, and maybe that she holds the promise of peace for Westeros. Also, blue is the color of the sky, where her dragons reside (when she’s not locking them in dungeons).

When I dress up like Mimi to take my kids to the park, I want to dress like Cersei. She is The Queen. I know that Daenerys thinks she’s the queen, but no. It’s all about Cersei. She gets the hair and the jewels and the clothes (not to mention the arm candy; Dany can keep Daario). I love the rich reds and golds. She’s the Head Bitch in Charge, and she dresses like it. I think I might need to get this Cersei-esque dress by Ella Zahlan. I’d be the best dressed at the park.

Who’s your GoT wardrobe inspiration?

GoT JoffreyEmma: Cersei definitely has the best style and that Ella Zahlan dress is perfect park Mimi-like material. I’m going to go slightly left-field with Joffrey as boy did he rock a beautiful patterned cape and half capes well. He definitely has his mother’s style – Jaime also is sartorially gifted – even if he is a massive prick. I think I might miss Joffrey. I am also partial to the Starks styling as while they don’t have much colour in their wardrobe, they still have a lot of flare thanks to their furs (although I’m anti-fur IRL). If I was doing fancy dress I would be Arya all the way as we have similar haircuts now. Plus she’s a badass. And as I mentioned previously, Goth Sansa is one of my all time favorite costumes this show has done – I’m glad to hear you’re a fan of this character too. Do you think they transferred the Hound/Sansa relationship onto Arya? I’m with you on thinking that he probably isn’t dead, even if he was in a bad way when Arya left him.

I also find something rather enticing about the Night’s Watch and Wildling attire; I mean who wouldn’t want to wear something that doubles as a super warm duvet? Clothes that can also be bed linen are my jam, so I’m also weirdly drawn to the Shae’s bed sheet like gown.

One character whose style I was very fond of is Oberyn before his head went pop so I’m looking forward to seeing what Dorne will bring to the style table next season. Also a quick word on the violence of the show as I think this is the first time I screamed at something the show has done; I was pre-warned that something on an epically horrific scale was going to happen in this episode so I was amped for something super gross, but I did not expect THAT.

Is there anything else you want to mention?

GoT OberynJulie: For a second there I thought you were calling Jaime a prick and I was like, “Wait.” But no. You were referring to Joffrey. Carry on.

The Hound/Arya stuff is all in the books. And I completely love the two of them hanging out together.  They’re both loners who really have no one else to turn to, so they turn to each other. And they learn life lessons. It’s beautiful.

I’ve never considered clothing-that-doubles-as-bed-linens as a fashion category, but I think it should be the new wave. Maybe we’ll see some of that at NYFW in the spring. With last winter we had, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to carry a duvet with you wherever you go.

About the Dornish, it looks like we’ll be getting a lot more of them next season (minus sexy Oberyn, of course). This show does a great job of giving each new place its own sartorial flavor. Next season, it looks like we’ll be seeing more of Braavos as well (home of the erstwhile Jaqen H’ghar and Syrio Forel, AKA Arya’s teacher). We may spend more time in Theon-land, the Iron Islands, where I expect some Poseidon-like garb to accompany Yara’s battle grays.

As far as the gore goes, it’s something I accept as part of the show, but I could do without it. Sometimes things are better left unseen. I watched Snowpiercer over the weekend; and every time something violent was about to happen, the camera would cut away. It did nothing to dampen the suspense. Less is more for me; but based on the collective reaction to Oberyn’s death this season, I think I may be in the minority.

GoT Jon snowEmma: Ha, oops yeah that isn’t that clear. I wasn’t too keen on Jaime in season 1, but he has definitely grown on me. The scenes with Tyrion in the jail cell were some of my favorites this show has done. As I tweeted at the time when Jaime kissed his brother on the cheek, it was one Lannister sign of affection that I didn’t mind witnessing.

Wildlings and Crows have got Polar Vortex fashion down and I hope to see a whole range of inspired clothes come the next NYFW.

Super excited for the new lands that will be featured next year and you’re spot on with how different each location/family is. Even the characters that share a color palette like Margaery and Daenerys look incredibly different thanks to cut, embroidery and texture.

As with the Scandal catch up last year, I am very much looking forward to sharing in the wider collective conversation and not having to scroll through endless tweets that I can’t read. That’s going to be fun as while it’s been good talking to people while I’ve been catching up everyone is always in that “oh has that happened” yet mind space where they don’t want to say too much as they might accidentally say something of give away a character’s death through a facial expression. Now to catch up on other things like Fargo (there is always something).

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at chicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

 

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

18 Jul

It’s the TCA (Television Critics’ Association) 2014 summer press tour and this means a whole host of red carpet events with stars from current and forthcoming shows. So this edition of “Out of the Box” is an all TCA affair featuring NBC, ABC and Showtime.

Lizzy Caplan TCAKicking off with Masters of Sex (which returned this week) and Lizzy Caplan looks amazing in a stunning Roksanda Spring 2014 ensemble. The flash of hot-pink is further accentuated by the electric-blue satin Brian Atwood pumps and Caplan continues to raise her red carpet game.

Caitlin FitzgeraldHoundstooth is on the same list as polka dots and yellow for me – the “instant adoration” list if you will – and so Caitlin Fitzgerald in a Michael Kors creation using this pattern is making me drool all over my keyboard. Not so sure about the shoes and a pop of lip color (electric pink to avoid the usual red) would give this extra points.

Betsy BrandtBetsy Brandt is one of several new faces on Masters of Sex this season (her character debuts this Sunday) and she knows how to stand out on the red carpet in a bold electric blue frock. This is a great color on her and I’m looking forward to seeing her in ’50s attire.

Casey WilsonOne of the few new sitcoms that didn’t make me eye roll through the preview is Marry Me and a lot of that has to do with Casey Wilson and Ken Marino. The black belting and neckline help break up what could be a super busy pattern (which I adore) and this is an ideal TCA dress as it’s cool without trying too hard/not enough.

Karen GillanKaren Gillan is going to be starring on a show called Selfie and while I kinda hate the name I’m hoping it goes the way of Trophy Wife (not the canceled part *sob*) in that it defies the awfulness of its title. Gillan is totally endearing so the show has that (and John Cho who is also wonderful) and I’m sad that she won’t be rocking her amazing pixie cut or Scottish accent – so far this is all about what I wish Selfie was doing. Anyway, this skirt/blouse combo is pure Gillan slightly off the wall styling and the exaggerated boxy sleeves might be too much for some, but they really work on her.

Viola DavisShonda Rhimes is dominating Thursday night on ABC with a triple block when How to Get Away with Murder debuts in the fall alongside Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy and I am thrilled Viola Davis leading this project. Davis is rocking a Helmut Lang leather bodice dress (complete with pockets) and the flash of snake print on the sleeves adds an extra pop (so I can ignore whatever those shoes are).

Katie FindlayBecause I am still in mourning about The Carrie Diaries cancellation (pretty much my favorite charming shows are all dunzo) I was glad to see the cast getting work from Bennett popping up on The Leftovers to Katie Findlay (Maggie in TCD) in the aforementioned How to Get Away with Murder. This isn’t the most exciting outfit, but it’s very cute and a safe TCA choice.

TV Rewind: Felicity, “True Colors” & “Things Change”

17 Jul

Felicity, Episodes 2.10 & 2.11
“True Colors” & “Things Change”
Original Air Dates: Feb. 20 & 27, 2000

Felicity 2.14

Julie: Your Ruby theory was dead wrong. No miscarriage; she’s pregnant for another dude. Ruby cheated on Noel. Sure, they had just started dating and everything, but they had already slept together. Noel saw that as a commitment; Ruby saw that as an opportunity to hop up on the first guy she met on her movie set (fingers crossed for Tom Cruise, however unlikely that might be).

If you didn’t like Ruby before, this revelation certainly won’t help matters. Because not only did she hook up with someone else and neglect to tell Noel after she found out she was pregnant, she also had the gall to tell him she hoped he’d be able to get past her cheating and stick with her, in a relationship with her and her movie set hook-up’s baby. Run, Noel, run.

Thankfully, Noel sees right at the outset that this is a jam he’s happy to unstick himself from. He wasn’t all that on board with the baby when he thought it was his own, no way would he stay around to raise Tom Cruise’s illegitimate bastard (let’s call the kid Tom Snow).

Noel plays this exactly right. Ruby tries to get all passive-aggressive, threatening to drop his class. Noel does not take the bait. He calmly hangs out in his room and, after talking to Ben about all his problems, does the right thing and tells Ruby he won’t abandon her. He still wants to be her FRIEND.

What did you think about the Ruby revelation?

Felicity 2.14 BenEmma: I can’t believe how wrong I was! I hadn’t even considered another guy was in the picture (yes I also hope it is another sibling for Suri). It is still a let off the hook direction for Noel, but in a completely different manner than I expected. I did feel bad for Ruby in a shocking turn of events, not for the whole not mentioning this vital piece of information, but because of the whole undefined nature of their relationship with Noel when she was in LA. This was also when Noel smooched Felicity over Thanksgiving so he doesn’t have too much to complain about here. Okay, he does but for a brief moment I felt for Ruby. Then she asked him to stay with her and I kind of lost what good feeling I had and I switched back to my usual Ruby position.

Noel didn’t want the baby when he thought it was is so I don’t know why Ruby thought he would feel any different when this bombshell was dropped. The offering to be friends still is a whole world of no, on both sides. Now one thing this storyline did which I never thought was possible is that it brought Noel and Ben together and now they’re basketball buddies. They obviously found a good location to use for these scenes as that’s all Ben has been doing since he can no longer swim – basketball courts must be so much easier to shoot.

After Ben went to Noel to tell him he “been there” and he was rightly told to fuck off after this gross invasion of privacy by the dude he hates the most, Noel decides after Ben is now in his philosophy class that he is just the guy to talk to. This to me is perfect and what followed was a scene that not only made me laugh so hard when I watched it, but it is still making me laugh now and it’s completely inappropriate of me. It’s Ben’s abortion tale and how instead of going with the girl he’d knocked up he went snowboarding with his buddies instead. The reason I find it so funny is that I didn’t expect to hear that he went on a trip like this, maybe to the beach as they live in Palo Alto, not snowboarding which is probably hundreds of miles away. Secondly I’m also picturing a 30 Rock style flashback showing Ben with his bros having an amazing time, while this poor girl sits in a waiting room alone (or like the abortion party in S1 of Girls). Am I wrong to find it hilarious? Also it’s so typically flaky Ben and even though I adore him, this story did not surprise me. He does feel bad about it though.

Ben and Noel as friends feels weird in the same way it did at the start of the Twilight Zone episode, but aside from Richard Noel doesn’t have any guy friends to talk about this stuff with and it’s clear why he chooses Ben over Richard to unburden his soul. Basically Noel needs more friends.

I really liked the painting party set up even if it was a contrived way to get everyone in the same place so they could all discuss Noel’s situation in an obnoxiously loud and intrusive manner – did they think he couldn’t hear them or something? There are lots of varying opinions as there always is with something as sensitive as abortion and Noel somehow remains calm and doesn’t yell at them all for discussing his private life.

The dancing that was led by Sean was so dorky and so fun even if it was super cheesy and I always find these sequences equal amounts hilarious/awkward. The recent episodes have been pretty heavy going so I enjoyed the dancing respite even though it was clear that Noel was going to walk in during the middle of it.

Have you ever been to a painting party? The first time I had heard of them was when I read the Zodiac book by Robert Graysmith as one of the Zodiac’s victims had hosted a painting party (I can’t remember the specifics, I just thought alcohol plus decorating might be kinda messy and not all that productive).

How do you feel about Ben and Noel as basketball bros?

Felicity 2.14 photoJulie: The basketball thing on Felicity is hilarious. I think I’m going to do a gallery post of dudes playing basketball to sort though their feelings (except maybe not, because I can’t find video of the very best example – In Her Shoes. Whoever wrote that scene has never seen a basketball game). This trope was recently lampooned in They Came Together. It also happened on Scandal last season, with Jake (Scott Foley!) and the Prez. Guys can’t just sit and have brunch or go shopping together. There has to be sports involved if there’s going to be any kind of emotional revelation.

And I definitely didn’t think about logistics when it came to Ben’s snowboarding story. Maybe there’s a mountain range close by? Or maybe he really did drive hours just to avoid helping this girl abort his baby. Stay classy, Benjamin.

The painting party was ridiculous. As Noel points out, he and Elena are moving out of there in a few months anyway, so why spend all the time (and money, poor college students) to fix up a place you’re leaving and have no monetary stake in. Also, the husband and I ripped down rooms and rooms full of wallpaper when we moved into our house, and I get the shakes just watching these scenes. Wallpaper removal is not for the faint of heart, or for pre-med students who could find better use for their time.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a painting party, per se. I’ve hosted my own, which basically amounted to me and a radio in my basement or living room. No other people. Now I think I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. I could’ve been having cheesy dance parties with actual living humans.

As an old person, I can’t imagine asking my friends to come over and help with home repairs. They all have their own shit to do, but a painting party is so college/early 20s. Those were the days when the promise of beer and pizza could entice people into helping you move. Those days are gone for me. I think they’re also gone for Richard Coad, who seemed to be like, “You don’t hang out with me all year and then you invite me over to rip down wallpaper? You people are jerks.”

The thing we haven’t talked about yet in this episode is Felicity’s budding relationship with Greg, the guy with her hairstyle who runs the clinic. What do you think of this and how will Meghan handle her roommate hooking up with her super crush?

Felicity 2.14 MeghanEmma: One thing I do like about the Ben/Noel basketball scenes is that they’re not competitive with each other, I expected they would be for Felicity/dude reasons but nope. Nicely subverted show, other than the all round tropieness of it all. I totally ship it.

I am so not down with Greg and agree with Ben’s assessment “63% of me thinks you’re a dick.” As you mentioned on Twitter what is if with guys getting chewed out by Felicity and then falling in love with her? They’re also always older and this makes it even weirder, it’s like emotionally stunted guys fall at her feet when she points out how awful they are. Ben has got a big case of jealousy and that’s because he too has the Felicity feels, but she’s totally not reading any of those signals even if it’s the most obvious thing. I am glad that Ben is having to work for it after he couldn’t commit at the start of the season (there’s more to talk about with Ben in the second episode but I want to cover Greg first).

Greg is being a dick because he’s stressed with a forthcoming review and his flirting manual only includes playground behavior. Also that deleted files story sounds like a BS attempt to spend more time with her, or I could be crazy.

Meghan’s infatuation is so unexpected and hilarious; it’s is out of character and perfect all at once. I love her reactions as the painting party and Meghan should always be there when these big dramatic moments go down. I can’t imagine Meghan taking it well, perhaps there will be another spell coming Felicity’s way. Nice call back to the ripped up and put back together incorrectly photo with Felicity’s original big hair.

One other major relationship moment occurred between Sean and Julie, not in a romantic sense but she did tell him about what happened with Eric and Zach. Sean’s reaction is that of concerned friend, he doesn’t use it as a way to get closer and reveals the same happened to his sister. Julie’s decided that yes she does need to go see a counsellor and thanks Sean for the support he has given her even though he didn’t know why Julie was initially reacting this way. Sean should stop making food though. No one wants quiche at a party.

What are your Greg thoughts? In better new beau news, Elena seems to be having a flirty/competitive good time.

Felicity 2.15 Julie and FelicityJulie: Felicity has daddy issues, is what I think Dr. Pavone would tell her. She’s falling for these older rude jerks, to whom she has no problem speaking her mind. It’s like she’s saying to them what she could never say to her father. And then she’s all-in once they come running back to her. And 63% of me is pretty sure I’m full of shit.

Greg is just a stopgap. The show is winding down to the season finale, and there’s no way he sticks around for junior year (unless Meghan gets her mitts on him). Actually, that’s the storyline I’d like to see, Meghan getting all peeved that Felicity goes after Greg only to cast him aside like it’s no big deal. That would probably almost be a worse crime as far as Meghan’s concerned. I think she’d be a little bit cool with Felicity edging her out for Greg’s affections, but I don’t think she’d be all right with losing Greg to Felicity only to have her lose interest almost immediately. And I’m pretty sure there’d be spells involved. It’s the end of the year. There has to be a spell at some point.

Aside from Greg and Ruby, the other character I need less of is Sean. I love Greg Grunberg, but Sean is so boring right now. Shit or get off the pot with Julie, Sean. If you’re never going to tell her how you feel, then just move on. Find someone else, or something else, to occupy your time.

I do think they had Sean make quiche just to have Scott Speedman say the word “quiche” several times. Now that’s cute.

I am loving the flirtation between Elena and Turk (what’s his name on this show?). I love that they’ve made him better than her at school and that he doesn’t really have to work that hard. It has to be so frustrating for Elena. I want to spend more time with these people. Less Sean, more Turk. This is my  new motto. Maybe he should join Ben and Noel for some hoops.

Felicity 2.15 JavierEmma: Daddy issues is as much a J.J. signature as the ‘magical mystery box’ and on this occasion I find it pretty dull. I generally like teen shows that incorporate the parental characters and with Felicity I think it doesn’t really fit the overall narrative of the show as she’s so far from home her parents should be fleeting in their appearance, season 1 did this perfectly, I also think I would prefer for the focus to be on her relationship with her mother as it’s the most compelling. Instead we get the disappointed daddy and while I think his breakdown and subsequent depression *could* be interesting, it hasn’t really been presented in that way as there is too much other stuff going on. And yeah Felicity’s recent flirtation choice does have a whole lot of daddy issues attached to it.I’m just glad they’ve used up the “sleeping with your professor” storyline.

As you mention Greg is not here for the long term and it’s clear that Ben is going to make his big move before the end of the season. Ben goes on a “stupid date” with a girl who is actually pretty cool, but she’s not Felicity so he shuts it down before they move on from making out on the couch. Good work Ben and it seems like he is growing as person. Pam still wants to hang out as she’s had fun, don’t settle for being second best Pam. Have some self-respect even if he is super cute and can get you free coffee and muffins. Ben also calls Greg a dick once again and I really didn’t think they could use this insult on TV in 2000 as much as they clearly can.

Speaking of D&D and I love the Javier stuff in this episode as he tries to offer Ben advice,even if Javier misreads which woman Ben has feelings for.

I don’t mind Sean at the moment as I really liked that scene with Julie, they do need to get him a storyline that’s not Julie or scheme related. Sean’s documentary from last season is making a reappearance and I wonder how this will play into the overall narrative, particularly with the love triangle.

Turk is Tracy and yeah he’s a fun match for Elena. His post-exam dance while everyone else was still doing there’s (Elena) was on the adorable side of obnoxious and I hope this develops into a bigger storyline for her. Sometimes Elena gives advice that’s kinda awful like when she sex shamed Felicity and in this episode I inferred that she was telling Noel to go back to Ruby because what makes him special is that he can forgive. Hmm, I’m not sure that’s a good idea, although I might be reading into that scene too much.

Julie Hammerle is, according to Klout, an expert in the areas of both Morgan Freeman and glasses. Her writing can be found at chicagonow.com/hammervision and you can holler at her on Twitter as well.

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