Archive | June, 2013

New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down: Mad Men Season 6 Roundup

30 Jun

The season 6 finale of Mad Men aired last Sunday and once again I am joined by Kerensa Cadenas to discuss all that went down in the finale, the season as a whole and what our hopes are for the final year. Mad Men is a show that sparks a multitude of articles (including here on TV Ate My Wardrobe) and these discussion pieces have been the most fun as we lament the actions of Don and cheer on the likes of Peggy and Joan as they continue to navigate a world dominated by men. One of us feels more sympathy towards Don by the end of this episode, but it’s actually Ted who is on the receiving end of our Sally Draper-esque disdain. We also discuss why everyone suddenly wants to move to California and the all important new addition this year; the wonderful and mysterious Bob Benson.

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Emma: We have a lot to talk as so much has happened since our last Mad Men discussion post; crazy conspiracy theories never amounted to more than just chatter, Bob Benson has shown that could teach Don Draper a thing or two about leading a new life and Sally started to spiral after picking a terrible time to try and retrieve a love letter.

I’m going to start with Don as he was the subject of our first discussion as we had both become increasingly tired of his behavior and descent into assholeville. Since then Don has continued to be a tough character to route for but they did something in the finale that made me do a 180 on my season 6 Don Draper feelings – he told the truth. This wasn’t a forced confession like his one with Betty, but a moment of clarity where he let the veil drop and he revealed part of his true self. It doesn’t make up for all of his actions this year (particularly when it comes to his affair with Sylvia) and it doesn’t justify all of those flashbacks (really did we need that many to understand that he is damaged because of his whorehouse upbringing), in fact hearing Don talk about his experience gave a lot more insight into his feelings about that time in his life than the flashbacks did. I get that we needed to see the exterior of the whorehouse so the final scene would have a bigger impact, but I don’t think we needed every other flashback that we’ve endured this season.

It’s the 1960s so their version of an intervention is giving someone an non specified leave of absence and while Don has done many terrible things in the past and probably needs to take a break, it’s a shame that it was a moment of reflection and honesty that has his partners kicking him to the curb and like I said in my review at least Freddy Rumsen got a night out and not a Thanksgiving morning ambush. The look or lack of look that Joan gives is heartbreaking and while I can’t judge her too hard (she’s got Kevin to think about after all), it’s sad to see him out on an island by himself in all of this. To top it off he gets to see his likely replacement and old nemesis Duck. It’s surprising that Don takes it as easy and as well as he does but he is resilient and been through much worse. Instead of hitting the bottle he takes his kid on a tour of the places he grew up and like the brief moment on their California trip when he took them to Anna’s house he reveals part of who he is.

Unlike the partners at SC&P they don’t turn away from him and the look that Sally gives him is one of wonder as she finally gets to learn about her father and who he really is. Sally has already seen one part when she walked in on Sylvia and Don sleeping together – Don lied and this is what he does best. Last week she uttered possibly the most devastating line of the series as she smoked with her mother “My father never gave me anything,” though both of them spending the night in a variation of a drunk tank shows that he gave her something – a desire to get drunk into oblivion. I pretty sure I’ve said this a million time but it’s worth repeating – Kiernan Shipka is one very special actress and I’m spellbound whenever she is on screen, it’s hard to believe that she is only 13. All I want for her is to end up as an Elijah Wood child star example and that she stays free of any kind of Lindsay or Amanda Bynes post child star shenanigans.

Ted is has been positioned as Don’s antithesis – he is light where Don is dark, he is sober when Don is drunk, he’s reliable etc and the one person who has consistently beat the Ted is awesome drum is Peggy. Last week Peggy called Don a monster and while his actions have been pretty despicable, he’s never led her on in the same way Ted has done. Oh Ted you finally succumbed to temptation and desire, did the classic “I’ll leave my wife” and then did the standard switcheroo and is now running away to California. Don spent the whole time trying to convince Peggy that Ted wasn’t the white Knight, partly out of his own selfish needs but also out of protection in a way as I think that Don really cares about Peggy, he just doesn’t know how to express this kind of sentiment.

I have WAY more that I want to say about Peggy (and especially that AMAZING pantsuit and being in Don’s office at the end) but I want to throw it to you and see what you think about Don’s clarity and revelation in the pitch meeting. Has this finale changed your opinion on Don?

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Kerensa: The finale didn’t change my opinion about Don at all. I do think that Don did realize something in that pitch meeting perhaps about himself and perhaps about how he will treat his children going forward when he shows the three of them the home where he grew up.

But in another truly Don moment, he comes to clarity at a time where it’s completely self serving. It’s all about his emotional growth, his path with no regard to what talking about his growing up in whorehouse means for the business, the other partners even Hershey’s. Yes, maybe it’s a step in the right direction for Don emotionally but like with all his other actions it still doesn’t take anyone else into account. Like everything else he did in the whole episode, I’m especially thinking about his rash decision to go to California and then take it back without really thinking it through at all or how it would affect HIS WIFE MEGAN. And also that he didn’t even second guess taking the idea from our boy Stan–who would be a much better fit in California with that fringed jacket and all his joints.  I’m increasingly becoming convinced that Mad Men is about a bunch of scared boys who can never deal with the responsibility of their actions and have to runaway to deal.

With Don’s leave of absence, I’m guessing a lot of that is that how do they fire him if he’s a partner? But I think they had every right to do so. Don’s behavior all season in the context of his work has been sloppy to nonexistent. He’s at the bar more often than he’s at the office. I feel like we’ve had many scenes where Don will just come in bewildered “We have a meeting?” They had to do this. While I would say I don’t know if I saw Don as rock bottom as like say in “The Suitcase,” (think that’s right) it’s been an increasingly downward spiral that his luck, good looks and perceived sexual charisma (I say perceived here because that sweaty Don/Sylvia sex that Sally spied made Don completely vile to me) could only carry him so far before he fell entirely.

On the Sally front, I completely agree that last week’s line was beyond devastating. And it does seem like Sally has unfortunately inherited Don’s tendencies for self-destruction. However, I am going to disagree with you about the look that Sally gives Don. I thought it was a mix of pity and even disgust–and in that sense might end up understanding Don better than she realized. I do agree that Kiernan Shipka is completely brilliant–if she is able to stick with Miss Porter’s–I want a Sally at boarding school spinoff.

Ted. Ugh. I have a lot to say about Ted. But before we get to discuss more about Ted and specifically Peggy, I want to know what you think about what happened with Megan.

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Emma: I really want a Sally Miss Porter’s spinoff – it will be like Gossip Girl in the late 1960s (but better). Plus Sally already has the headband/manipulation skills to perfection.

Oh Megan, I’m glad that she finally stood up to Don and that they left it ambiguous as to whether she has left him. All season she’s been set adrift and suffered the same issues as Betty with trying to fit her into the overall story. I know some people resent the screen time Megan takes up (this is very much the opposite of how I feel) and my only criticism of her this season is how oblivious she has been. Maybe oblivious is the wrong word, she’s known that there has been something wrong all year but she’s been willing to ignore it and pretend that everything is ok. The California move would be perfect for her as an actress and now that she has quit her job I think she’ll make the move anyway, especially as LA seems far less unstable than the East Coast at the moment (of course that will all change Megan conspiracy theory alert). There’s an interview with Kevin Rahm who plays Ted over at Vulture and he mentions a Megan, Ted, Pete Three’s Company type spinoff – I totally want to see that.

The only tie that Megan has to New York is Don and it’s hard to see them having a bi-coastal relationship (though it’s not outside the realm of possibility). Megan deeply cares for Don’s children, even if she refers to them as damaged; it’s very telling that she is not part of the trip to the whorehouse (fun for all the family!). Don calling Betty “Birdie” is a sign of affection and this can’t be pleasant for Megan to hear – if only she knew what went on at the cabin – especially as she has been trying to break through his many walls all year and been met with nothing. When Don tells Megan that he loves her, I really believe that he does but Megan’s “Fuck the agency” is also her way of telling Don “Fuck you.” This line loses some of its dramatic impact thanks to AMC’s censorship and it will sound better when I get the DVD.

I’m hoping we get more Megan next season, but at this point (like all things when it comes to Mad Men speculation) it is unclear.

And then we will move on to our girl Peggy.

Sally Draper and Blair Waldorf

Kerensa: OMG in a Sally/Blair face-off, who do you think would ultimately reign? I don’t think I could even guess!

I agree entirely. I really hope Megan did leave him. And I agree with you on the oblivious criticism–Megan’s not stupid, she knew there was something wrong and never addressed it for whatever reason. I hope she makes the move to California as well (although I don’t want to lose her on the show) and I agree that I think it’s hard to see Megan and Don having a bi-coastal relationship.

I didn’t think about Megan’s absence on that trip to the whorehouse–but you are right, it is super telling. On that phone call, when Don calls Betty “Birdie,” you could just see the hurt on Megan’s face. It was heartbreaking. And yeah, maybe Don loves Megan, but I don’t think he’s really capable of loving anyone especially in the ways they need, you know? Ultimately, I think Megan’s much better off without him.

So, there’s so much to talk about with Peggy. You already mentioned Ted a bit–should we start there?

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Emma:  Now I want to see face-offs between different TV characters much like that show that puts different historical groups against each other (the internet tells me it was called Deadliest Warrior). For this one I think Sally might have the edge, mostly because of who her parents are, but it would be a close fight that’s for sure.

We’ve seen this pattern with Ted this season where he’ll kiss Peggy/tell her he loves her/sleeps with her and then the next day he pretends like it hasn’t happened. In the moment he’s super into the idea of being with Peggy, but in the cold light of day he remembers that he has a wife and kids. With Peggy it would be a HUGE scandal and while men like Don and Roger have ended up marrying their secretaries there’s never been anyone in the position that Peggy is and it would hurt them both professionally (this is why I think Peggy tells Ted to slow down).

So Ted panics and joins the “I want to run away to California” club because this is the only way he can see a way out, even if it’s the coward’s way out. Peggy is so right to yell at him and it really cuts through everything when she says “Aren’t you lucky to have decisions?!” Because everything that has happened with Peggy with Ted has been on his end and so has her return to the SCDP offices. Getting away from Don was such a defining moment for Peggy last year and the fact that she had to return is frustrating for her. At least she has her friendship with Stan and I’m glad that these two are still firm friends – while I’d be happy to see something more between them, their friendship is pretty great.

There were two big outfits for Peggy – the one that had everyone practically drooling and we’ve never seen Peggy rocking that much leg or cleavage. It’s not how we’re used to seeing Peggy in the office but it did what she wanted it to and she snagged Ted (for one night only). This was in response to the look Ted’s wife Nan gave Peggy; Nan’s got to know right? And she definitely smelt the Chanel No.5 on Ted when he got in.

The other amazing costume was the Pantsuit of Power (thanks Tom and Lorenzo for that name!) and Peggy in Don’s office at the end. Now this is a sight that was striking and welcome and I hope next season sees Peggy continuing to break that ceiling. This feels like the first time she’s worn pants in the office and she just seems so in control. I love it!

What did you think of Peggy and Ted in the finale?

I sense a Bob Benson discussion soon, because I think he could be the season 6 secret weapon.

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Kerensa: Fuck Ted.

I mean I knew he’d never leave Nan–like you said all season he’s done the dangling one thing or another in front of Peggy and then takes it back again. He’s just SUCH a coward. He’s defined everything between them so that “Aren’t you lucky to have decisions?” line was cutting but so perfect.

And of course they both played their games with one another–when Ted brings his family in–and Peggy in that AMAZING dress and her Chanel No. 5 line. But all season there’s been talk about how Ted is the anti-Don (which you’ve talked about right?) and I actually think that maybe Ted is worse. I think that much of Don’s self-loathing and alcohol problems come from knowing he’s not a good person. And he’ll be out rightly terrible to people in ways that I don’t think Ted would be. I’m not sure on this but has Don ever told any of his affairs that he’d leave his wife for them? Not that I can remember.

Ted is the guy whose cowardly, bullshit behavior is coated in a mock turtlenecked, nice guy veneer. He’ll tell Peggy he loves her, but then tell her he’s leaving her (even though he loves her) because it’s better for her this way. Which is true, but ultimately the person it’s better for is Ted. He can go back to his life after his tryst with Peggy, runaway to California with his family and never think about it again if he doesn’t want to.

While I know our girl Peggy is super resilient–I know I’d be hurt. And like you said, she’s stuck again with Don because of Ted. She gets to go to the agency where she worked with Ted at every day. He gets a clean slate and she gets the reminders.

God I sound bitter, don’t I.

But I do hope that next season Peggy is just crushing it and she can rub it in Ted’s face while wearing some incredible pantsuit.

So, what are your Bob Benson thoughts?

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Emma: I like that you are straight to the point with your Ted assessment because he’s done enough flip flopping this season to deserve this. As you said Don knows that he’s awful with women but Ted genuinely believes that he’s done the right thing.

I do think that next year we’ll see Peggy rise above it and even though her gender will make it hard for her I think she’ll be on top in the end.

Ah Bob Benson, where to start?! When Bob first appeared I was happy to see James Wolk after his string of cancelled shows but who knew he would become one of the most talked about aspects of this season?! And that he’d be the downfall of Pete? While we still know a little more about him and that he’s effectively Don Draper 2.0 he’s still a mysterious figure and his motives aren’t all that clear – does he just want a good and prosperous life or is there something more insidious at play?

I think the answer to this question is whether he knew what Manolo was up to (and whether Manolo did kill Pete’s mother – I’m leaning towards yes, so this season did have a murder after all) and from his reaction I don’t think he did. We’ve seen that Bob is good at lying but he’s also let that good old Bob Benson smile drop a few times with Pete and this didn’t feel like a moment of deception. What Bob did though was ensure that he was the most valuable account man for Chevy and he did that by exploiting his knowledge of Pete’s lack of driving skills. As I’ve said before I like Pete so I was sad to see him humiliated this way, but it proves that you don’t fuck with Bob Benson.

One issue I did have with this story is how quickly Pete backs down and ends up reluctantly on the California trip. Considering Ken got shot in the face, Pete got off really easy. His discussion with Trudy where she told him he was free was heartbreaking, Pete’s been forever trying to find the thing that satisfies him and it’s never been his family. This could be a defining moment for him or he’ll end up miserable with a tan in LA. Can any of them find happiness? Also Vincent Kartheiser wins the award for best line reading with his “Not Great, Bob!” I’m going to miss Pete and Bob sparring with each other.

There’s someone else who’s wary of Bob and what his intentions are and that’s Roger. It’s hilarious that Roger can’t even fathom the idea that Bob and Joan can be buddies so all of his warnings to Bob read as completely ridiculous. Their unconventional Thanksgiving dinner was made all the more wonderful with Bob’s mini apron.

Roger’s another tragic figure of his own making but his moment with Kevin is adorable. And also if my daughter turned out like Margaret then I’d be a little sad too, she’s really awful.

Are you happy with where Bob ended the season? Is he a good guy?

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Kerensa: Oh Bob! I love James Wolk–he’s on my ideal men list, so if he’s reading this, he should give me a call.

I don’t think we still know that much about Bob at all. And I don’t know if I’d say he’s Pete’s downfall–although he certainly helped. Much of what brought Pete down this season was an accumulation of seasons of what he’s done to himself.

Yeah, I still don’t really know what to make of the whole Manolo plot. It just feel so weird and soap opera-y? And will we ever get any conclusion with it? Also is it horrible that I don’t think I really care either way?

That Pete and Trudy scene was so so heartbreaking. It’s kinda like everyone on this show though, they always want what they can’t have and when they get it, realize it was never what they wanted in the first place.

Vincent Kartheiser should win something just for “Not Great, Bob!” Which a friend of mine told me is how he’s going to answer anyone when they ask him how he’s doing now.

I feel bad for Roger and then I don’t. His threatening Bob was laughable. And I don’t think Joan has any pretenses at all about anything happening between her and Bob. And Margaret is pretty awful.

Overall, I don’t know what to think about Bob still. But I do know that if we get James Wolk in short shorts again next season I’ll be so happy.

Anything else for you about this last episode? Predictions for the next season?

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Emma: As far as predictions go to be honest I have no idea and it’s this uncertainty that makes Mad Men such a fun show to watch/discuss, in terms of things I want it’s Peggy and Joan ruling things at SC&P and Megan happy in Hollywood. Oh and I want more Betty, which is something I never thought I would say but she’s been so fantastic this season.

Have you got any predictions/hopes for next year?

Kerensa: Agreed. I have no idea what’s going to happen either. I hope Sally doesn’t go down a self loathing spiral. Totally want Peggy and Joan running everything. And I want Megan to get super famous and like be sleeping with Warren Beatty or someone equally sexy and famous.

I hope Nan leaves Ted.

I also hope that even though Trudy and Pete aren’t together anymore that we still get to see her.  I think that’s all I’ve got for hopes basically.

I agree with wanting more Betty. I want to see her being the HBIC of all these political wives.

Emma: Thanks for joining me Kerensa and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these post-Mad Men chats. It’s a change of pace but join Kerensa and me for a look at Lisa Kudrow’s The Comeback as part of our summer rewind project.

Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is a staff writer for Women and Hollywood. She also writes for This Was TelevisionForever Young Adult, and Bitch magazine. She was the Research Editor for Tomorrow magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and read her ridiculous thoughts about teen television at her website.

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Out of the Box: Look of the Week

28 Jun

One of the shows that has featured on almost every “Look of the Week” is Mad Men and this edition is going to be a Mad Men special; celebrating some of the best costumes from the season 6 finale “In Care Of.” The costuming on Mad Men has always been exceptional and Janie Bryant’s work this season continues this tradition as picking an era appropriate outfit isn’t the endgame and clothes can help define a character. They can also help shape the conversation as we saw when Megan wore a t-shirt that had also been worn by Sharon Tate and the floodgates of conspiracy theories were opened.

Winner: Peggy Olson 

Peggy Power PantsuitIt was a tossup between this and Peggy’s cleavage enhancing mini dress and Channel No.5 combo; ultimately the Pantsuit of Power (thanks Tom & Lorenzo for that excellent name) felt like the Peggy Olson we have been waiting for. Both the seduction dress and this pantsuit are outside of Peggy’s usual costuming wheelhouse and she has definitely matured this season as she has progressed in her job and grappled with a complicated romantic entanglement. Peggy ends the year working in Don’s office and she looks incredibly comfortable in this environment; this is the first time we have seen Peggy rocking a pantsuit at work. Ted has shown that he isn’t exactly the great guy she has been telling Don he is, but I hope that season 7 is going to be the year Peggy shows what a dominating force she can be. This Pantsuit of Power is just the start.

Runner Up: Stan Rizzo 

Stan Mad MenOne of the stars of this season has been Stan Rizzo and his beard (this photo is courtesy of the Fuck Yeah Stan’s Beard Tumblr) and Stan turned up to work in his best suit and well cared for facial hair to present an idea to Don. That idea was to open a small office in California while dealing with Sunkist and Stan would run it; Don said no thank you and then stole the idea for himself. Poor Stan. It doesn’t end there and the California office became the beacon of hope for all cowardly men (ok just Ted). Stan isn’t going to California and so hopefully he will still be around next season to join Peggy and show everyone else how to get things done.

Runner Up: The Draper Family

MM_613_JT_0416_191It’s not every day that your father takes you to the house he grew up in so be sure to wear your Thanksgiving best, oh right your father grew up in a whorehouse. Despite Sally’s recent rebellion and being thrust into an adult situation thanks to witnessing her father’s indiscretion, she’s still dressing like a young girl. I’m expecting that to change next season and Sally will start wearing more daring outfits that we’ve only really seen on Megan, or she’ll look like the 1960s version of Blair Waldorf. Bobby’s jacket reminds me of Henry Jennings’ rainbow coat in The Americans and is something I would wear if it came in an adult size. Gene looks as adorable as ever – will he finally get the chance to speak next season? Don looks as he always does but he’s finally revealed another piece of his past to his children.

Runner Up: Bob Benson 

Bob Benson Pinny Mad MenOne of the highlights of this season has been the mystery of Bob Benson and while his motivations are still relatively unclear he does know how to rock a mini Thanksgiving themed apron (it’s almost as good as the short shorts). One thing we do know is Bob is willing to humiliate the man he claimed he loved to save his job and he’s also not going to listen to Roger; he’ll hangout with Joan all that he wants to. The addition of James Wolk to the cast has been wonderful (and not just because of that charming smile) and hopefully his new show on CBS won’t stop Bob Benson returning next season.

What was your favorite Mad Men look in the season finale?

Maison Kitsuné F/W ’13 Collection: Dressing April Ludgate

27 Jun

It’s the third week of TV Ate My Wardrobe’s fantasy costuming series as we take a peek at the new collections for Fall/Winter and beyond. So far we’ve looked at Jess from New Girl sporting French Connection and TV’s most stylish guys with the Burberry Prorsum’s Spring ’14 offerings. Today it’s the turn of a character whose wardrobe I covert as April Ludgate from Parks and Recreation is the reason I’m still on the hunt for the perfect mustard hoodie (it’s a much harder task than it sounds). Season 5 saw April going from disaffected and bored to really honing in on her skills and passions. April has always felt strongly about animals so it isn’t surprising to see her character apply and get accepted into veterinary school. April style points include patterns, knit sweaters, yellow and anything that doesn’t resemble a Leslie Knope pantsuit.

With April’s new job I wanted to find a brand that would allow April to dress as casually as she has in past seasons but adding some more tailored styles. The inspiration behind the new Maison Kitsuné lookbook, which was shot on location in Tokyo and features “the street-yet-chic style of the collections, artfully incorporating tradition and modernity” was just the style I had in mind.  I’ve combined looks from this Tokyo shoot with model/actress Kiko Mizuhara and the standard shoot on the Kitsuné site, as I wanted to include several April-esque outfits that don’t feature in the lookbook . The French label (don’t tell Ron Swanson) features a fox on its label which is perfect for April’s new career aspirations and the Parks department (though for Pawnee a raccoon might be better).

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This is very much a first day of college/work outfit; it’s stylish without looking like April is trying too hard. We know beneath those eye rolls that she cares about a lot of things… ok some things. The deep plum/indigo combination pops without being too overpowering and April tends to wear a lot of these darker versions of colors.

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Another outfit that displays April’s casual chic look for work and features the Kitsuné fox logo. Foxes are the owl of this season when it comes to sweaters and because I already featured the French Connection version for Jess a couple of weeks ago, I’ve opted for the sneaky fox over the fantastic (Mr) fox jumper which you can see here. The sunglasses will ensure that April doesn’t have to engage or make eye contact with anyone that she doesn’t want to.

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A mustard yellow knit sweater is April Ludgate all over. The rose probably isn’t.

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April has a number of hoodies (and not just the dream mustard one) so this slightly more tailored version might work as an upgrade for those days at vet school.

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While you’d probably never suggest that April is particularly cute and girly with her style, she also isn’t adverse to wearing dresses and the one above feels like casual wear that could double as an office outfit or even for a trip to the Snakehole Lounge – when she’s not Janet Snakehole of course. I think the disdainful look on this models face would totally sell this collection to April.

Would these outfits get the April Ludgate seal of approval?

To see more of the Maison Kitsuné F/W ’13 collection head here.

Summer Catch Up: Scandal

26 Jun

Summer isn’t just for catching up on old shows like the The Comeback and I’ll be using the hiatus to finally start watching one of the most talked about shows of the last year and that’s Scandal (much like my Freaks and Geeks discussion partner Julie Hammerle – her catch up list is pretty great). I’d also like to squeeze in Enlightened and finally crack open my Parenthood DVDs before the next batch of shows like Ray DonovanThe BridgeDexter and Breaking Bad start, but I’m not sure how likely this will be (especially with my ever growing book pile, work and seeing people).

Be warned I’m about to become obsessed with everything Olivia Pope is doing and wearing.

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Considering how much Scandal is talked about on my Twitter feed I’ve managed to remain spoiler free so I went into the pilot knowing very little beyond the fact that it is set in Washington, Olivia has a past relationship with the President and they work in some sort of crisis management. I’ve only ever seen one episode of Grey’s Anatomy (randomly when I was on holiday in New Zealand) so this is also my first real experience of a Shonda Rhimes show.

Scandal has received a lot of positive endorsements and I’m totally all in from the pilot episode; it sets up the high stakes of the show, introduces a vast amount of characters in a succinct manner and presents several interesting conflicts all within 42 minutes. This can be the problem with pilots as they have very little time to create a whole new world (now I’m singing the song from The Little Mermaid) but Scandal balances the short term pilot plot (the Sully murder case) and what I’m guessing is the season long arc (the President’s affair with his aide).

Our point of entry is Quinn, who has just been hired to work for Olivia – but not at a law firm like we are used to seeing on this type of procedural. Certain points are reinforced – they work for their client and no one else, they are the “good guys” with Olivia as their “best guy” and they’re “Gladiators in suits.” As with Joan’s statement in the Mad Men pilot “This is why I don’t allow crying in the break room,” Quinn is told the same as it’s not something Olivia believes in (she’s not impervious to emotion as we see later in the restaurant after her confrontation with Fitz). The decades might be different but office politics are still the same.

The show that Scandal most reminds me of from the pilot is The Good Wife with its mixture of politics, sex and law – this is by no means a bad thing as The Good Wife is one of my favorite shows. Like Alicia Florrick, Olivia Pope is working in the moral grey area as we see her negotiating in a variety of styles. This includes visiting the District Attorney (played by Joshua Malina!) in the middle of the night and casually mentioning that she’ll get the media involved and put an unfavorable spin on things, threatening to ruin Amanda, a young women who claims that she has been having an affair with the President and getting her co-worker Stephen (who I might be calling Desmond in my notes) to propose to his girlfriend. One repeated notion is Olivia’s gut instinct is never wrong, except it is in the case of Amanda as it turns out the President has been having an affair. It’s important for the protagonist to have a flaw and Olivia’s weak spot is President Fitz and while they both clearly have feelings for each other, the scene in the Oval Office is incredibly uncomfortable and instantly makes me dislike his character.

With such a large cast it’s not surprising that I spent half the episode going “hey it’s that guy” – I’ve only just realized that Tony Goldwyn who plays Fitz was in Ghost and played a dodgy judge in The Good Wife. I spent half of the episode trying to place Abbey (who feels like Scandal’s less mysterious Kalinda) and halfway through I pretty much yelled Mad Men at the screen as I remembered that she plays Glen Bishop’s mother Helen. Have Wes Brown (Sully) and Kerr Smith (Dawson’s Creek’s Jack McPhee) ever played brothers?

The standout performance is of course from Kerry Washington who manages to convey Olivia’s heartbreak at Fitz’s betrayal in such an astounding way; from the moment Quinn mentions “Sweet Baby” to her anger and disappointment when she confronts Fitz. Washington commands the rooms she is in, whether dealing with a kidnapped baby or her client’s refusal to reveal the truth about his sexuality. Olivia’s only weakness seems to be the President but by the end of the episode she has found a way to regain control of this situation as she takes on Amanda as a client.

I’m looking forward to watching more and finally being caught up on this much talked about show. Plus I’m already dreaming of a job where I can dress like Olivia Pope.

New Breaking Bad Poster: Remember My Name

25 Jun

Earlier this month AMC released a teaser poster for the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad with the ominous tagline “All Bad Things Must Come to an End.” The new key art has a more direct message and features a menacing looking Walter White; he barely resembles the guy in his underwear from the season 1 promo. Looking angry and in control, but it’s his name that could get him into trouble as Hank knows the truth behind Heisenberg.

breaking bad season 5 final episodes

What do you think of the new poster? Worried about the lack of Jesse? Attempting (and failing) to not sing the theme from Fame?

Breaking Bad returns to AMC Sunday, August 11.

Summer Rewind: The Comeback

25 Jun

Here at TV Ate My Wardrobe we wanted to check in with some old shows over the break and I am joined by my Mad Men chat partner in crime Kerensa Cadenas for this Summer Rewind project. First up we have HBO’s The Comeback and this discussion focuses on the pilot episode.

The-Comeback

Emma: So my knowledge of The Comeback was pretty minimal before I watched the pilot – I knew it starred Lisa Kudrow and was created by Michael Patrick King and that it features on a lot of cancelled too soon/one season wonders lists. That’s it. See I said it was minimal, I didn’t even know about the reality show format.

The first thing I did after watching it was I checked when Friends and Sex and the City ended (both 2004) and to see when Keeping up with the Kardashians premiered (2007). The Comeback aired in 2006 and it nails so much about reality show TV that has continued long after (hence why I looked up the Kardashian air date).

We meet Valerie Cherish after she has had a hit show (like Kudrow) and she has had a lull in her career since that show (it all gets pretty meta from here) and as part of her comeback she is filming a reality show at the same time as a new sitcom that she thought she was going to be the star of. Valerie has an ego like most people in this profession but l like that they don’t make her mean, she’s oblivious at times but she is never cruel. She clearly has confidence issues at times and the scene in which she is practicing the same line over and over while eating cake (filmed from the fixed camera in the kitchen, the one that she probably forgets is there and so this is Valerie at her most natural). This line becomes a moment of contention throughout the pilot; it is the reason Valerie’s character changes from career woman to dowdy aunt and it’s also the point of Valerie’s rebellion in front of the live studio audience.

The Comeback ep 1 talking head

The fixed camera in the kitchen is just one of several reality show filming techniques there is also the general film crew following her around with the producer suggesting statements for Valerie starting with “I feel…” The producer also wants Valerie to be more animated in her one on one piece with the camera – this is probably the most common set up in all reality TV where they talk about an event as if they are living in that moment, it’s also when these reality shows feel at their most false (an oxymoron I know). There is also a personal video diary which is where the person if probably meant to be at their most natural and don’t have the producer to manipulate the situation but these are also rather contrived (except for the delightful toilet sound in the background from her husband). It doesn’t really matter how authentic any of this is as the producer tells Valerie that they will edit parts.

Valerie complains that “This is supposed to be reality” and so it is clear that Valerie is unaware of how reality TV works; there are two different types of reality star those who know how it works and manipulate it to their advantage and those who trust the makers of the show and end up being portrayed in a manner they didn’t expect. I don’t think that people necessarily remain in either camp and you can move between the two. With SO many reality shows from competitions such as Top Model or Idol to family reality shows like Duck Dynasty and everything in between there is as much chance that the people involved will become a star as much as they will fade into obscurity. The idea of fame and keeping relevant is important and we see this repeated throughout The Comeback pilot.

What are your first impressions of The Comeback?

The Comback ep 1 award

Kerensa: I have actually seen the pilot episode of The Comeback several times. The first time I remember was in college and I went over to a friend’s place to drink or something and they were watching the pilot and shouting “I DON’T NEED TO SEE THAT.” And then I saw it randomly a couple other times. But I never have seen beyond that.

Watching it this time around made it SO apparent what a groundbreaking show The Comeback was when it aired. Like you mentioned it aired in a weird transitory time when it came to reality television (The Hills also started in 2006) right before it really exploded. And like you said about Valerie complaining about reality television and not understanding how it works–I think that seems super relevant for the time that she wouldn’t understand what she should have been doing. I feel like at that point maybe understanding how reality television worked, in the ways we know now, wasn’t something that would have even registered?

But like you said this idea of fame and being relevant (and especially being an aging actress) is obviously an idea that will continue to be important.

I also have some thoughts about Valerie Cherish–but I want to know what do you think of Valerie first.

The Comeback ep 1 Leno

Emma: I felt mostly sad for Valerie and her attempts to claw back the fame she once had. The “I’m It” wall of photos and its destruction later in the episode is the perfect representation of Valerie; this is her achievements and by the end of the episode they are on the floor and water damaged, she is no longer “It”. Her prize photo is a monkey shitting on her head on Leno because of how much attention it got, but it just feels embarrassing.

I’m really intrigued by her relationship with her husband as he doesn’t appear to be that invested in her latest project or her career. Valerie mentions that he isn’t in show business and this conflict is likely to be repeated, but rather than have an argument Valerie tries to put a brave face on it. This is her tactic for most situations and we see this when she is told about the character change and at her wardrobe fitting; she is good at acting fine but it’s obvious that she’s crying on the inside. I was half expecting Valerie to be a tantrum throwing diva; instead she is a people pleaser and just wants to be loved by everyone, so she’ll put on the awful ill-fitting tracksuit even though she hates it. Basically Valerie makes me feel sad at the moment.

What are your Valerie thoughts?

Ep 1 tracksuit

Kerensa: I agree with you entirely about her husband seeming completely uninterested in her career. And Valerie makes me feel really sad too. I know that this is preemptively judging a character that we don’t fully know yet but Valerie feels like a precursor to a lot of the female characters we have now–like an Amy Jellicoe, etc. Basically a messy, selfish and deeply insecure female character who just also wants to please everyone like you said. And like with Enlightened a lot of people couldn’t deal with Amy. I can’t tell whether or not she’ll fit into Emily Nussbaum’s Hummingbird Theory or not just yet.

I’m also curious how this will go throughout the season cause now I could see Valerie being pretty polarizing and right on the heels of Carrie Bradshaw–that not working well with viewers. Although of course, after rewatches, we all know that Carrie is (at least I think) a super problematic character.

What else stood out for you in the pilot? We have some weirdly familiar faces.

Ep 1 wardobe fitting

Emma: You’ve reminded me that I still need to watch Enlightened (I know) but I did find Emily Nussbaum’s Hummingbird Theory intriguing so we’ll have to keep this is mind as we watch. I do think Carrie was always problematic in SATC and even though she was the lead, I hated how everything was always about her (and it’s something I think The Carrie Diaries has avoided so far).

So many familiar faces – Kellan Lutz is playing another meathead (no surprise) and Malin Akerman plays the hot young actress Juna. As with Valerie I’m glad that they don’t make Juna mean, she’s hot and takes her clothes off in front of people (it’s HBO so I figured there would be some nudity) but it doesn’t feel false or like she’s doing it for the cameras. Juna also does the thing where she mentions how young she was when Valerie’s show was on and once again I don’t think it’s intentional (say like when Juliette Barnes does it to Rayna in the Nashville pilot which feels calculated). Juna doesn’t want to make Valerie feel bad but does so regardless.

I found the whole debate about why Valerie’s character shouldn’t have a job to be interesting, the writers clearly aren’t interested in Valerie and she’s there to serve the other characters so they don’t need to flesh out her story. Oh and the Juicy Couture mention gave me flashbacks to 2004 and mostly JLo and Britney. Do people still wear this brand?

The producer is someone I hope we see more of because she is really just focused on the job at hand; I wonder if she’ll remain this detached from Valerie as a person?

What are your other thoughts about this pilot?

Kerensa: I’m glad they don’t make Juna mean either and I hope that continues to stick. I’m liking the seeming mentor-y relationship the two could potentially have. And how trite would it be if there ended up being an All About Eve situation–beyond uninterested in that.

All I can say about Kellan Lutz is LOL.

Agreed on the Valerie thing. I feel like the writers are uninterested in her but know that this reality show will give their show leverage so they have to somewhat be vaguely interested.

People do still wear Juicy Couture and I personally think it’s one of the tragedies of our time. (JK that’s SO dramatic).

Kerensa Cadenas is a writer living in Los Angeles. She is a staff writer for Women and Hollywood. She also writes for This Was TelevisionForever Young Adult, and Bitch magazine. She was the Research Editor for Tomorrow magazine. You can follow her on Twitter and read her ridiculous thoughts about teen television at her website.

 

Mad Men 6.13 “In Care Of” Review: California Dreamin’

24 Jun

At the end of season 1 of Mad Men Don Draper gave one of his best pitches and then returned to an empty house for Thanksgiving; the final episode of this penultimate season also occurred post election (with Nixon as the winner this time) and Don used nostalgia once again to sell a product but spills a little more of his soul in the process. This has been a tumultuous year for these characters and the trauma that the country is experiencing both overseas and at home has impacted the tone. While this season has been a tough slog in places thanks to the darkness that it has tapped into, it has also been highly rewarding even if Don is no longer a character that is easy to defend.

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The Carousel presentation is probably still Don’s most touching pitch as he used nostalgia to sell a product – “the pain from an old wound, it’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.” Don uses a similar tactic for Hershey’s, first telling a made up story about his father buying him a Hershey’s bar and he even has the perfect tagline to accompany this fake tale “Hershey’s is the currency of affection, it’s the childhood symbol of love.” After all the lies Don has told he can’t let the Hershey executives leave without revealing the truth about why he has such strong feelings for this brand of chocolate. This season has had multiple flashbacks to Dick Whitman’s whorehouse living past and while a lot of this has felt superfluous, in this moment it made sense as to why there has been so many. Quite often the flashbacks feel like they should be on a show like Boardwalk Empire and while we probably didn’t need quite as many (the one in this episode only felt necessary because of the final shot) it gives further context as to why Dick became Don.

Don has come across as vulnerable in previous pitches, it’s part of the charm and heartbreak of the Carousel speech and this technique of making it personal is part of the great Don Draper show. This season Don’s work has taken a new direction; imagery of death has been rife and the product they are selling has been absent from the art work on several occasions. Don doesn’t want Hershey’s to even consider advertising so while he doesn’t have a say in his taking leave from work, his heart really isn’t in the game at the moment. This is the most honest we have seen Don at work and the story he tells makes him vulnerable in the eyes of his co-workers and clients. The Hershey executives don’t really know how to respond to Don’s second pitch (they love the first one) and even ask if Don wants them to use that suggestion (this comment caused me to snort laugh, possibly as a reaction to my own horror/wonder at what Don had just revealed – this episode has a lot of hilarious lines underneath the dark overtones).

It has been hard to feel sympathetic towards Don this season as he is the maker of most of his misery, but the meeting on Thanksgiving morning that’s part intervention, part firing might make me retract some of my “Falling Out of Love with Don Draper” statements. It’s an ambush and while it has been a long time coming and he probably deserves it, it is a shame that a rare moment of honesty is what tipped their collective hand; at least when Freddy Rumsen got put on six-month leave he was taken out for a night on the town as part of his send-off. For Don he gets a lot of concerned faces but no follow up, other than an awkward moment with his replacement and Duck (who is clearly relishing this downfall). Where does this leave Don and SC & P? For a start they’re probably happy that they left the D out of the new name. Don has no return date and Peggy looks good in his office (and in an amazing pant suit, is this the first time we have seen Peggy wearing pants in the office?) and once again Mad Men ends a season with the future looking uncertain.

Stan and his magnificent beard came up with the idea of setting up a Californian office, an idea that soon gets taken by Don much to Stan’s dismay. California soon becomes the beacon of new hope as several characters believe it will provide them with a fresh start; Don tells Megan that they’re going and so she quits her job. This looks like it could be place to make their marriage work, much like the hallucination that Don had when he was last in LA. Instead he gives up his chance for sunshine and doesn’t become the monster that Peggy called him as he lets Ted have his spot; Don ruins his marriage to save Ted’s. Don’s marriage has been over for the whole season really and a new climate would probably only act as a band aid for a much larger wound (to borrow a line from Pete Campbell). While it isn’t clear if Megan has left him permanently, she’s finally come to terms with what a sham their relationship is and she’s in the same drifting boat as Don’s children. The main difference here is that Don is with his children at the end of the episode and Megan is nowhere to be seen, so while Megan didn’t meet the violent end that some had predicted she isn’t present in Don’s life in the final shot of the season. I’m a big Megan fan (a sentiment that I know isn’t widely shared) and while I know it’s been hard to work her storyline in this year (mirroring the past issues with getting Betty into episodes), I do hope that this isn’t the last we see of Jessica Paré on Mad Men.

In an earlier episode Sally mentions that she doesn’t know anything about her father, so when he shows his humble beginnings the look that is shared between father and daughter suggests that while their relationship is broken, it isn’t beyond repair. Sally has barely been at her new school for a month and she’s already been suspended for buying beer with a fake ID. While Betty despairs about this, blaming herself Don does a good job of reassuring her that this isn’t her fault. Kiernan Shipka is only in a couple of scenes but shows once again what an exceptional young actress she is; from the disdain in her voice on the phone to her father to that look in the final moment. This is a complicated relationship and one that isn’t going to get fixed instantly by revealing the dilapidated house where he grew up, but it’s a moment of real honesty between Don Draper and his children. It isn’t the first time this has happened; Don took Sally and Bobby to Anna Draper’s house and they asked who Dick was and while he didn’t tell them the whole story he’s beginning to reveal more of who he is. Don’s children are more receptive to this than his colleagues are; this is what unconditional love is and while his revelation leads to what looks like the loss of his job, it might help heal his fractured relationship with his children.

Don Draper 2.0 or Bob Benson as we know him played his hand in a bold manner after Pete confronted him with the news that Manolo might have murdered his mother. Instead of running Bob uses his knowledge of Pete’s shaky driving skills and humiliates Pete in front of the Chevy executives, acting before Pete could ruin Bob. Bob has essentially got the Chevy account to himself and Pete is heading to LA with Ted. Pete isn’t the only person who confronted Bob as Roger also had words concerning Joan and Kevin. Roger only sees the smile and handsome face and doesn’t believe for a second that Bob just wants to be buddies with Joan, but Roger doesn’t get to dictate who Joan spends her time with.

It’s unclear if Manolo is complicit in Pete’s mother’s death, though the evidence suggests that he could have been after the money she doesn’t actually have. Pete is unhappy about his new destination (he is a New Yorker through and through) but Trudy has some wise words for her estranged husband “It’s going to take you a moment to realize where you are.” Trudy tells him that he is now free of everything – of his mother, of that office, of everything. Will a new coast and city be the new start that Pete needs?

“Aren’t you lucky to have decisions” is a line that really cuts through the core of Peggy’s story; while she’s risen to a position of power and responsibility in the office (over at The Cut they have a great clip package of Peggy’s journey), her personal life is still in disarray. Don’t worry this isn’t the start of a “Can Women Have it All?” debate but rather how Ted looked at Don Draper and saw the ghost of Christmas Future and ran to California. Ted isn’t the terrible person that Don has been trying to convince Peggy he is all season, but he’s also not the great man she put on a pedestal either. Ted dreams big and says he’ll leave his wife for Peggy, but deep down that’s never going to happen instead he sees California as his chance of redemption and he needs to put distance between himself and Peggy to quell his desires. While I’ve enjoyed having Ted around, I’m also looking forward to seeing what Peggy can do with her new position of responsibility (plus hey Stan’s still here for late night phone calls and beardy goodness). It should also be remembered that Peggy stepped out on her own at the end of last year to end back at the very office that she had left thanks to a decision that was out of her control.

Other Thoughts

–  While Don has hit rock bottom before, a night in jail after he punches a minister is what motivates Don to make some big life choices.

– If Megan does leave Don and goes to LA without him this might fuel the Sharon Tate theories even further, especially as next season will most likely start in 1969 (there’s only a month of 1968 left). Or they could try and make the bicoastal relationship work, which will still leave her alone in LA.

– Peggy has been the other woman in the past and had an encounter with a very pregnant Trudy Campbell in the bathroom of the office (in “The Suitcase”). Her relationship with Pete was long over by the time this happened so there was no need to play any mind games, with Ted she responds to his wife and kids in the office with a dress that shows off both legs and cleavage and it sends him running to her door (also it’s a nice detail that she makes sure she locks her front door even in the throes of passion, Peggy is still very much afraid of her neighborhood). Was anyone else worried that Ted’s wife would mention Chanel No. 5?

– Bob Benson carving in a pinny. There is nothing left to say about this (until Friday and “Look of the Week”).

– James Wolk is starring in The Crazy Ones on CBS this fall, but there’s nothing to say he can’t pull double duty like Alison Brie has with Community and Mad Men. Hopefully he will be back as Bob Benson has been a season highlight.

– “It’s an opportunity to build one desk into an agency.” Don has been attempting to do this in one form or another since the show started and has done so with SCDP followed by the merger this season, he constantly wants to start at the beginning and turn something into a bigger, better thing. It’s all about reinvention and Don is still not happy with the model, so he wants to start again. What he gets is a different kind of opportunity and I’m so excited about the uncertainty of the final season.

– I’m putting my choice of Mad Men Music Monday in here with the track that closed out the episode (“Moon River” was a very close second as I love this song) and the Judy Collins version of “Both Sides Now.”

Thanks for reading and I will be chatting with Kerensa once again later this week as we breakdown the last third of the season, make sure you stop by for that.

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

21 Jun

This week we are moving away from award shows and pre-Emmy nomination roundtables, instead we are going to take a look at Mad Men and Hannibal. These are the two shows that have dominated the discourse over the past few weeks and feature casts that are stylish both on and off camera. As always there are no real rules to this weekly column and it is a snapshot of what I have been watching (and looking at online) and each pick is for a variety of reasons including; what it adds to the storyline, what it tells us about the characters involved or simply because it looks good. Spoilers for the Hannibal season finale ahead.

Winner: Mads Mikkelsen in GQ’s July Issue 

MadsHannibal Lecter is one of the best dressed characters on TV (even his killing attire looks tailored) so it isn’t surprising to see him in a GQ fashion spread. Hannibal’s costuming often mixes a variety of patterns with his suit, shirt and tie; it’s power clashing at its best and automatically makes him a commanding presence in any situation. After the season 1 finale Will Graham can finally see Hannibal for who he is, but Will is not in a position to be heard as he is in the one place he feared he would end up; the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.

Runner Up: Dr Alana Bloom and Will Graham on Hannibal “Savoureux”

Hannibal finale Hannibal finale Dr BloomDavid Slade directed the pilot and the third episode “Potage” and returns for the Hannibal finale. The shots above are almost completely devoid of color, save for the two figures who are bathed in darkness. This technique has been used throughout the season and in moments like this allows the viewer to focus on the dialogue and emotion of the scene as everything threatens to envelope Will Graham. Alana Bloom is one of my favorite characters on this show; in part because she is the only person who is truly looking out for Will and his well being, she also provides Will with a tether to the world. These factors also work against how this character is used; they’ve had to keep her away from Will (and not just in a romantic sense) so he can turn to Hannibal and the manipulation can continue.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller spoke to E!Online about Alana and her role next year “I think Alana will have a bigger role in season two. Because not only will she be representing Will psychiatrically in the trial, but struggling with her feelings for him romantically. She was falling for a guy that she knew to be unstable. She was keeping him at bay and now her worst fears have come true that not only is he unstable but apparently he’s capable of great violence. Her need to rescue him may be amplified.” Alana is the emotional center and Caroline Dhavernas’ performance in the finale showed this range from screaming in her car to trying to remain composed in the above scene. From a costuming perspective her red and white wraparound dress not only stands out from the darkness that threatens to consume them, but it also repeats this color combination that has been favored throughout the season.

Runner Up: Glen Bishop on Mad Men “The Quality of Mercy”

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Creepy Glen is no longer all that creepy, even if his army coat covered in Stop the War buttons reeks of a teenager attempting to be part of the counterculture while not indulging beyond smoking pot (though it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw Glen at an anti-war rally). The plaid shirt underneath shows that he’s not heading for the complete hippy route yet and at least he avoids the sandals of his friend Rolo. Glen loses his creepy edge thanks to defending Sally’s honor and losing out on a hook-up of his own in the process with the 1968 version of Britney Spears in the “Hit Me, Baby, One More Time” video. Sally was exaggerating how much Rolo was forcing himself on her and it looks like she has definitely picked up on her mother’s manipulation skillset and her smile during the fight showed this new side of Sally. After walking in on her father sleeping with Sylvia it isn’t surprising to see Sally develop an edge and the drinking and (supervised) smoking in this episode is probably just the start of a downward spiral.

Runner Up: Linda Cardellini at the Clinique Party

Linda Cardellini

While Sylvia has been a problematic character on this season on Mad Men and it’s easy to dislike the direction in which the show has taken Don Draper and his infidelity, I’m always glad to see Linda Cardellini on TV. I’m currently watching Freaks and Geeks for This Was TV and so it’s been strange to switch between a young Cardellini in a high school show set in the ’80s and as a mother of teenager in the ’60s on Mad Men. Despite any negative feelings towards Sylvia (and I have many) this red Carmen Marc Valvo dress that Cardellini wore to the Clinique Party is stunning. The contrast between the red flowers and black patterned mesh side panels gives a striking silhouette and pairing it with a simple pair of peep-toe black pumps really sets off the look.

Who is your look of the week?

New Girl Star Jake Johnson Talks Emmys and Drinking Buddies

21 Jun

Following on from Max Greenfield’s Gold Derby chat, co-star Jake Johnson also sat down with the awards prediction hub to talk New Girl, recent plaudits and the success he has had over the last two years. Here at TV at My Wardrobe we are all aboard the Emmy nomination train for Jake Johnson because he’s been New Girl’s MVP this season.

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Jake Johnson has submitted in the lead category and this was originally a suggestion by Max Greenfield, while they joke that Greenfield was just removing the competition it’s actually a smart move thanks to the Nick/Jess focus of the latter half of the season. Johnson has been nominated already for the Critics’ Choice Awards and the forthcoming TCA’s. Johnson is quick to praise creator Liz Meriwether, the writers and his co-stars; the ensemble is an important factor but he would like Meriwether to get some solo recognition as “she’s really the engine behind it.”

As with Max Greenfield they discuss what episode Johnson might submit if he does get nominated. Episodes that get mentioned include “Chicago,” “Cooler” and the first Tran episode (“Menzies”). Gold Derby editor Chris Beachum gives Johnson some advice saying that “Chicago” might be too emotional as an Emmy submission episode and that broader comedic performances tend to be what Emmy voters have previously gone for. If this is the case then “Pepperwood” would be a suitable choice, though I am partial to “Cooler” for obvious reasons.

The trailer for Jake Johnson’s new movie Drinking Buddies was released yesterday and he mentions this in the Gold Derby interview. It’s a project that Johnson says that he is very proud of and hopes that it gets the same traction as Safety Not Guaranteed. The film also stars Olivia Wilde, Ron Livingston and Anna Kendrick and is heavily improvised (plus they’re really drinking beer). Plus Johnson is sporting a rather amazing beard the likes of which we’ve only previously seen on New Girl in his Caroline post-break up video. Really, it looks incredible.

Watch both the interview with Gold Derby editor Chris Beachum and the trailer for Drinking Buddies below.

A Tribute to Sopranos Star James Gandolfini

20 Jun

Last night word quickly spread across Twitter that actor James Gandolfini had died while on vacation in Italy of a suspected heart attack. The Sopranos star was just 51 and leaves behind an incredible TV legacy that paved the way for the likes of Walter White and Don Draper; without Tony Soprano we might not be so accepting or willing to fall in love with these flawed characters.

James Gandolfini in his role as Tony Soprano

When The Sopranos first aired I watched a handful of episodes and even if I wasn’t always entirely sure what was going on with the overall plot, the charisma and magnetic quality of this character made it feel like I had watched every episode leading up to this point. A couple of years ago I worked my through all 6 seasons and it confirmed what I already had read/heard; that this is one of the most important TV shows of all time and that James Gandolfini’s performance is exceptional.

It’s hard to put into words the impact that Gandolfini has had on the television landscape and when a famous person dies Twitter can quickly descend into a stream of RIP messages, but this feels different as people discuss their favorite scenes and movie performances, sharing personal stories of when they met him. There are many tributes to Gandolfini that have already been written and will appear throughout the day; I’d recommend Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall (both used to write at Tony Soprano’s newspaper of choice the Star-Ledger) as a place to start as they talk about their experiences with Gandolfini and his work on The Sopranos and in film.

Beyond The Sopranos James Gandolfini also leaves us with memorable film roles and no matter how many scenes he was in he always left an impact (Where the Wild Things Are was the movie I reached for last night). Sopranos creator David Chase in a statement said He was a genius. Anyone who saw him even in the smallest of his performances knows that. He is one of the greatest actors of this or any time. A great deal of that genius resided in those sad eyes. I remember telling him many times, ‘You don’t get it.  You’re like Mozart” There would be silence at the other end of the phone.”

In the episode “Long Term Parking” as Tony and Carmela are reunited the song “Wrapped in My Memory” by Shawn Smith plays as the leaves fall around them. This song is used in this Sopranos compilation which showcases the work of the entire cast, but particularly James Gandolfini. Yesterday’s news adds a heartbreaking layer, but it is also an excellent tribute to Gandolfini’s work on the show.

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