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Archive | April, 2014

New Girl 3.22 “Dance” Review: Love is Forever and Ever and Ever and Ever…

30 Apr

So I didn’t have enough space for all of Jess’ use of forever, but hey it’s infinity anyway in true tween 4EVA IBTS (if broken still true) declarative style. New Girl returns to school tonight and the beauty of Jess (and now Coach) working at a middle school means these characters can resort to broad generalizations like boys are dumb/girls are stupid even though they’re in their early 30s. There are aspects from school that will always stay with us and so it makes sense that Jess wants to organize the perfect dance when she has such rotten memories of the ones she attended when she was a kid. Throw in her recent heartbreak and it is going increase this desire as Jess’ outlook is to focus on the positive. In fact “Dance” is about embracing childhood moments, no matter how painful or stupid as a way to circumvent what is going on in the present.

NG_322-27_0010There’s a push/pull in “Dance” between what makes a grown-up or in more specific cases what defines manhood and Nick tells Schmidt that he genuinely misses goofing around with Jess. The goofing around suggests play, but being an adult doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be ridiculous anymore and the activities this group partake in are often just games you could play as a kid, with added alcohol. Schmidt thinks Nick is being rather mature with his assessment that breakups should hurt and how they’re using Winston as their sexual tension killing device. In the last scene they do get to dance together and it’s both goofy and full of sexual tension; even though they’re in a room full of people for a fleeting second it’s like they are alone. Jess finally gets to dance with her dumb boy and I don’t feel like I’m going out on a limb when it comes to predicting a reconciliation of sorts in the season finale next week.

Speaking of things that are dumb and the reason behind their breakup is still one of those things that compel me to say “really?” When thinking of Nick and Jess it actually does make sense that they would end their relationship for something as silly as this. After “Big News” I wrote about their inability to define what they are to each other and how this traces back to their first date encounter with Russell and I want to expand on this a little further. This is still what is going on as despite knowing and living together for three years, they’re still pretty clueless when it comes to admitting how they feel. Jess shares too much sometimes without saying what she means and Nick withholds giving the same effect; this is why they broke up, not because they don’t have anything in common, but because they share this inability to get to the heart of the matter.

It’s not just about Nick and Jess though and what makes “Dance” a great episode is its focus on the group; the breakup informs the actions without becoming this BIG ISSUE that dominates proceedings. Jess’ desire to create the perfect dance is rooted not with Nick, but thanks to her bad memories. It is not a completely selfish driven endeavor as Jess has shown on multiple occasions how much she wants to give the kids she teaches a really great middle school experience, whether it is showing them the ocean or dealing with a bullying issue. The dance does not go down perfectly, far from it and at first it looks like one of the teachers is behind the sabotage – the banana in the dark song is hilarious – instead it’s Wendy, the girl who is pretty much a mini Jess but with a shark tee and missing a Cece to share her misery with. Hey, they’re still doing the hanging out in the bathroom thing as adults too (this from season 1 “The 23rd”):

New Girl 1.09 Cece and JessIn terms of screen time the Cece/Jess relationship suffered as a result of Jess and Nick getting together – the same goes for Nick and the guys – so one benefit of breaking them is focusing on the other friendships that are at the heart of New Girl. Cece is often the stabilizing influence in the group, in part because she doesn’t live in the loft so she has a calming outside quality and because she generally has her shit together. Even though she’s not in the same place as she was last season in terms of career and relationship, things could be so much worse in that she could be in a loveless marriage doing modeling jobs she hates. Now she is working in a bar and dating a 20 year-old (who was seven when Good Will Hunting came out), but she seems pretty happy at the moment and takes the guys attempts to make fun of this age gap in her stride. It helps that they are terrible at doing this and declare their manhood by chanting “men, men, men” with a chest bump injuring Winston. They really are the dumbest boys in school. Jess also demonstrates that she’s not always the smartest as she thinks the good in good cop/bad cop means good at their job – this is up there with Batmanmobile for hilarious things that Jess doesn’t quite get. Another brilliant Jess moment comes courtesy of terrible self censorship when the lights go out “Son of a boooooo… penis. Ah, that wasn’t better. Sorry everyone.”

Coach gets to use his recently earned wisdom about kids “you have no idea what these little bastards are capable of. I mean I love them, I love them with all my heart, but they will hurt your feelings sometimes” while attempting to coach his roommates. So when Schmidt sees a kid being mean to someone about food, instead of standing up for the boy who was probably like him at school, he instead seeks the acceptance of the bully and in return gets called a “flamer.” Schmidt is persistent and the bully won’t back down either, so Schmidt challenges him to a foot race. In the parking lot Nick gains the acceptance of the boys with a box of fireworks because really Nick just wants to be pushed around in a shopping cart and not as part of the system. It’s clear that Nick definitely did everything in his power to not be a narc while he was at school, so much so he won’t admit to being a chaperon, or ‘rone.

Winston faces a different kind of challenge as his “Call Me Maybe” moves make him irresistible to an ever increasing group of girls – if the whole episode was Winston being followed by a giggling girls I think I would be fine with that. It all ends up in the parking lot as the three of them earn their rap group name and Coach list of better chaperons is hilarious – a dog, a plant wearing underwear and Ray Charles’ ghost. They might be dumb boys, but they’re needed. The rapping that follows is amazing, mostly because it is so terrible and in an unsurprising twist Winston takes it too far and goes to a dark, dark place.

Returning then to Jess and Cece’s conversation with Wendy as Jess explains that things “never work out the way you plan them, but in the end it’s all worth it and that’s why you have to try.” This pretty much explains the root of Jess and Nick’s issues with each other – the future planning – and what they haven’t done so far as they gave up pretty quickly without trying to work through this issue. What I don’t want New Girl to do is go for the breakup/get together cycle that sitcoms tend to favor, this doesn’t need to be a Ross and Rachel situation (does anything?), but what these past two episodes has shown is that Nick and Jess not being together has been beneficial to the overall group dynamic. Maybe it is because there are now stakes once again with increased tension and by addressing the coupling situation; they’re also approaching the overall story in a different way. With this in mind, next week’s finale will hopefully continue the quality and consistency of the past few weeks while wrapping up what has been a messy season in a satisfactory manner.

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The Wish List: Parks and Recreation Unity Concert Style

29 Apr

Season 6 of Parks and Recreation concluded last week with the Unity Concert and big changes. Music festival fashion specials tend to make my eyes roll hard as all kinds of expensive and most likely inappropriate items are suggested – do you really want to be wearing a $300 jumpsuit when you have to use the not so high end festival toilets? This also brings up my greatest fear about the play/jumpsuit trend as you pretty much have to get naked when going to the bathroom and this is even less appealing in the middle of a field. When it comes to dressing for an outdoor music event my first thought is the rather practical “would I care if this got ruined?” as most of the festivals I have been to have a high chance of rain and I don’t really want to get mud all over a brand new dress. Yeah I still want to look good, but I’d rather spend the time enjoying myself rather than being concerned about my clothes. It’s not particularly edgy, but you’re also not going to look like an asshole.

Pawnee is not Coachella and in the Parks and Rec finale there is a distinct lack of underbutt and questionable crochet/macramé attire. Instead it’s all hoodies, plaid shirts, jeans, khaki jackets and Unity Concert tees. No, it’s not the most fashion forward, but it pretty accurately represents the festival fashion that makes sense to me.

Parks and RecreationBen is the only one not wearing a Unity Concert tee as he’s got his Letters to Cleo shirt on underneath his staple plaid. This is one of Ben’s repeated costume pieces and he’s definitely the kind of guy who is comfortable wearing the band shirt he is seeing to the actual gig. Everyone else is wearing Staff emblazoned Unity Concert t-shirts and while these are currently not available from the NBC store, I’m sure this will change in the near future as they have previously sold other Pawnee festival related items. Leslie’s khaki green Battalion jacket from Current/Elliott is something she wore in the season 5 finale and it prompted me to dig out my 10+ year old Topshop khaki green jacket which I adore and has been to many festivals with me.

Parks and Rec AndyAndy and April rocking the plaid and stripes (both in Unity Concert tees). Costume design on shows that feature high end designer pieces is all about aspiration, Parks and Rec (and probably New Girl) is the nearest to how I actually dress and I adore it for his reason.

Parks and Rec Jean Ralphio sneakersThere’s always one and Jean-Ralphio is not only wearing double ankle monitors, but he’s also sporting a spectacular pair of Nike Roshe Run Tiger Camo sneakers which are just as bold as he is. These are fine for a sunny venue, though there’s always scuff danger in a large crowd situation.

Parks and Rec Leslie and BenPost concert fashion is completely different and as the concert was all about saving this merger, Ben and Leslie are on work duty. Ben has switched out his Letters to Cleo tee for a tie and Leslie’s ditched the khaki for this beautiful cherry blossom Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress. This definitely falls into the aspirational column (and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Alana Bloom in this over on Hannibal, the shows are VERY different but these two characters share style pointers).

The three year time jump shouldn’t impact the costume design too heavily I shouldn’t think; I do hope they manage to tame Leslie’s bang situation by then and I’m looking forward to finding out why Ben was all dapper and tuxedoed up in that final scene.

Mad Men “Field Trip” Costume Design Highlights

28 Apr

With the Mad Men coverage this season I wanted to try something that didn’t necessarily follow the types of straightforward reviews that I have written on this site and others for previous seasons. So for the season premiere I showed an example of Mad Men influencing my style choices, last week it was all about the closing credits music and for the third episode “Field Trip” I want to take a look at some of the costume highlights from the episode.

Mad Men 7.03 MeganI’m pretty sure I had a bed spread and sleeping bag that resembled Megan’s blouse when I was kid; items from the late 60s/early 70s that my parents still used. They were pretty hideous like Megan’s blouse (swap the green for more brown and you get the idea), but now I find something rather nostalgically charming about this floral mess and I wish I still had them now. It’s like someone vomited flowers on this top and pairing it with a canary-yellow crotchet micro means that Megan would *almost* fit in at Coachella. She just needs to cut the sleeves off the blouse, knot it and she would be good to go.

Mad Men 7.03 BettyMegan’s style is always evolving; keeping in tune with her surroundings and what is featured on the pages of Vogue. Whereas the former Mrs Draper is all about simple glamour pairing her dress and jackets, the last time she looked fashion forward was on her trip to Rome with Don and that was all a facade. There’s the whole politicians wife look, but Betty is once again the Grace Kelly double even with these trappings. The frumpy fat days are long gone and Bobby still isn’t sure if his mom eats anything (hence why he traded her sandwich). This is where the sunglasses, cigarette and silent treatment come in. To prove her worth she drinks out of the bucket of milk, unlike the real farmer’s daughter she will always be wearing a bra and clutching her purse.

Mad Men 7.03 Anne DudekAnne Dudek! Beyond thrilled to see the return of Francine and she’s part of the reason behind Betty’s sudden interest in going on a school trip to the farm. One of Betty greatest weaknesses is how much she compares herself to others, sure we all do it, but Betty reaches new depths with her competitive streak. Look how great Francine looks as she excitedly gesticulates what she’s been up to and that’s working three days a week as a travel (something Betty tries to undermine by mentioning real estate, which Francine failed at). Francine’s matching coral pant suit is spectacular and she looks modern in a way that Betty’s pearls will never do. Betty is also shameless when it comes to name dropping and pretending that she doesn’t love to show off about her life. Betty still gets usurped as Francine has something Betty doesn’t and that’s fulfillment.

Mad Men 7.03 JoanJoan in a Peter Pan red rose covered dress and knee boots (not removing for Bert’s no shoe rule) is everything. I would wear this now.

Mad Men 7.03 PeggySame goes for Peggy’s green emphasized seem dress and things are looking less tween in Peggy’s work attire this week and yet she still gets no respect. PS. Peggy, Don’s taking your office, which they’re still calling Lane’s office.

Mad Men 7.03 groupStan’s going on safari, Ginsberg’s taking smart casual to a whole new cardigan/tie level, Peggy’s got prim down and Meredith likes what she sees while wearing one of the official patterns of this year; paisley.

Mad Men 7.03 DawnDawn’s got a new job and she’s gone for a sharper look and she’s killing it in this blazer. It’s a shame Don hasn’t paid much attention to all of these changes as he still gives her his hat and coat to put away, plus she’s still his go to coffee maker. Moving up, but only kinda. Another item for my closet and mustard list is that blouse, not sure how much I could work a collar like that.

Mad Men 7.03 RogerThe hippie and the rich man in plaid. It’s an odd combination and while Roger is still clinging to his place in the hierarchy at SC&P, he manages to show loyalty and business acumen by arguing why they need to keep Don. The LSD hasn’t completely ruined his capacity to show charm, wit and smarts.

Janie Bryant continues to produce costuming that adds rich textured layering to the viewing experience and also manages to make me feel nostalgic for items I cringed at having to use – that sleeping bag at sleepovers seemed like the ultimate embarrassment and now there is only love. One important figure who doesn’t feature this week in these shots from the episode is Don as his style is never evolving; does he have the capacity for change?

Distraction and Memory on The Good Wife

28 Apr

Alicia is keeping busy on The Good Wife and the opening sequence in “Tying the Knot” shows her juggling work, family and Finn continuing scapegoat status. The work aspect includes one the most tricksy clients, Colin Sweeney and in true Sweeney fashion death is not far behind him. Memory and perception has been a repeated theme this season with memory being used in multiple ways to dictate the emotions of an episode.

This began with memory-pops (what the writers call flashbacks, thanks Noel for pointing this out) as Alicia and Will both recalled a time when their relationship was more in tune, followed by Alicia’s choice of suit when she was trying to distract Will with memories of sex. Continuing with Alicia’s keynote speech and how she came to be at Stern, Lockhart & Gardner and the first flutters of those elevator encounters. Since Will’s death the use of memory became imagined encounters thanks to the voicemail Will left moments before he was shot and in “Tying the Knot” there’s yet another type of memory on display as Alicia’s short term recollections are picked over.

The Good Wife 5.19 AliciaFirst of all I love this shot of Alicia as she contemplates her options and James Castro’s insinuations, weighing up factors from both this case and Castro’s less than subtle play to get rid of Finn from the SA office. Josh Charles does an incredible job directing an episode with so many moving parts and one that uses memory-pops throughout as Alicia’s experience at the party is the vital piece of testimony. While at the party Alicia receives and makes phone calls to Cary, Eli, Zach, Zach’s friend Shauna and Finn. All while dealing with Colin Sweeney and his demands regarding his new fiancee Renata. The engagement party feels chaotic and disorientating at the time and this is repeated in the memory-pops with the same piece of music playing in the background, the identical looking brunette bobbed waitstaff and the case of Sweeney mistaken identity. On one occasion Eli makes an appearance repeating the words he said on the phone and Alicia chats with an imagined Sweeney about his decision to take off his tux jacket.

Memory is unreliable and when there is this many distractions it gets even more convoluted. There are certain aspects that never change with how Alicia recalls her time at the Sweeney house and Alicia is being manipulated, not in her memory but in the staging of events so she can produce the perfect alibi for Sweeney as he’s only out of her eye line for the briefest time. Once again they help Sweeney get away with his murderous deeds and this time it wasn’t at the hands of Sweeney, instead it was part of his twisted couple’s therapy to give balance to his relationship with Renata. There are a couple of cases of mistaken identity first at the actual party when Alicia is on her brief Sweeney hunt, followed by Alicia misidentifying who she saw going up the stairs that adds credibility worries to the rest of her testimony. As Alicia reinforces, it is better that she owned up to her error than perpetuate a lie even if it adds doubt to her reliability.

The Good Wife 5.19 FinnMemory comes into play in the courtroom not just in the form of testimony as Finn enters a courtroom as prosecutor for the first time since he was shot. Gone are the bandage and sling; the only physical sign we can see is the scar on his hand he is absentmindedly touching. Upon standing up Finn sees a pool of blood forming at his feet and as the camera goes in for a tight close up we are with Finn back in that courtroom as he sees flashes of both his hand getting shot and what appears to be Will going down (Updated to add this second shot could be the other one Finn was hit by, not Will). These flashes are so brief and this adds to the jarring nature and the sound of the gunfire that isn’t really there causes Finn to noticeably flinch. Instead of breaking down or exiting the court Finn pulls it together and while James Castro’s assertions that Finn needs some time to deal is perhaps correct, he’s not going to let his super smug former BFF get the better of him by using his vulnerability as a way to dismiss him. Nope, instead Alicia has a plan.

Finn’s running for State’s Attorney and what was originally going to be in name only so he couldn’t be fired for whatever BS reason Castro had come up with, has now turned into an actual campaign thanks to Peter’s endorsement. Peter’s been on fire in the past two weeks with how he is dealing with the suck ups and secret backstabbers as he decided to go with Finn after Castro attempts to sweet talk him. This is the Peter I can understand Alicia falling in love with, not that guy who called her a selfish bitch a few of weeks ago.

The Good Wife 5.19 wine cardiganOwen’s back and he’s playing his usual role of no nonsense advice giver; this time as with most times he thinks Alicia needs to get laid and perhaps he’s right. We’ve never seen Alicia indulge in any kind of no strings sex and while you could argue that sex is never just no strings, it’s always just been Will or Peter. This isn’t to diminish what she had with Will and I’m even bristling at the thought of her with someone else, but Will is gone and hey sometimes you need something beyond work, wine and making dinner for the kids. Owen is Alicia’s truth-sayer and Alicia is his favorite person in the world, so while he might come across as interfering it is all done with love and he’s happy if she’s happy; you can count on Owen to pry just that bit too far.

This scene is hard as Alicia is holding back because she doesn’t want to cry anymore and Owen’s comment about Will making him laugh is just the thing that might tip her back into tear territory. The “facade of perfection” and Zach’s assertion that his parents are Bill and Hillary is a not so off topic conversation point with Alicia giving herself a new motto to get stitched onto a cushion “It’s a decision. I like decisions.” Alicia’s wine cardigan from Vince is rivaling Olivia Pope’s in my heart for best wine consuming style. It has the perfect wraparound factor meaning it’s pretty much the clothing version of a hug and this is what she needs right now.

The Good Wife 5.19 teary eyesWhat follows is the only point where Alicia’s facade does slip as she stands alone against her bedroom door, the wounds of Will freshly opened by her chat with her brother, the red wine coursing through her veins; the chin quiver and pools of tears forming in her eyes is inevitable and something she can’t stop. This is an accumulation of everything Owen has just spoken to her about; Will, Peter and moving on. It’s also one of the only moments in “Tying in the Knot” where she isn’t focused on anyone else’s problems, just her own and it is overwhelming.

Out of the Box: Look of the Week

25 Apr

After the foray into Hannibal last week, we return to the red carpet this week with the Tribeca Film Festival and some frocks that have caught our attention.

Maggie Grace and Aubrey PlazaAubrey Plaza and Maggie Grace are both pulling off simple and elegant looks at the About Alex premiere with Plaza in scarlet Valentino and Maggie Grace in crisp white Kaufmanfranco. Details like the bow on Plaza’s dress and the flash of canary yellow with both Grace’s pumps and belt set off both looks. Luckily Grace’s heels distract from the nude heel let down on Plaza.

Mindy KalingMindy Kaling ditches her usual colorful palette for a super chic black Helmut Lang ensemble while supporting co-star Chris Messina directorial endeavor Alex of Venice (yes I’ve picked the two movie premieres with Alex in the title). While I don’t want to see Kaling ditching her bold red carpet choices, she looks really great in this non-signature style.

America Ferrera and Judith LightAn Ugly Betty reunion at the premiere of America Ferrera’s X/Y with Judith Light posing with her former co-star. We love Judith Light here at TV Ate My Wardrobe (this includes Broad City’s version) and her floral coat is everything. Especially when paired with black pants and turtleneck. Judith Light you can do no wrong. Ferrera looks wonderful in a Roland Mouret navy and white halter dress and the orange Rodo clutch adds a splash of bright color that ties this all together.

Gillian Jacobs Life PartnersGillian Jacobs poses for a portrait studio session at the Tribeca Film Festival for her new film “Life Partners” and this falls into my striped clothes obsession. It has a hint of the Tanya Taylor outfit we featured a few weeks ago on Jessica Williams and the contrasting vermilion color with gold piping produces a knockout look for Jacobs.

TV Rewind: Felicity, “Ancient History”

24 Apr

Felicity, Episode 2.03
“Ancient History”
Original Air Date: Oct. 10, 1999

Felicity 2.03 haircut

Julie: We left off last time with The Haircut, which deserves some capital letters. This was The Haircut that killed Felicity, the show not the character. Season 1, Felicity was a critical darling and cult hit. With The Haircut in Season 2, people started to wonder what they ever saw in this show anyway.

Which is really not fair. We’re only three episodes in and I see Felicity doing some pretty great stuff. During freshman year, Felicity (the character) was all about overthinking things and, ultimately, not acting on them. But as a sophomore, she is ready to take charge of her life, even if that means stumbling a little bit.

The first drastic step we saw last week: Breaking up with Ben. In the wake of all that drama, Felicity turned to her local barber and asked for the Justin Timberlake. She is now sporting an itsy bitsy curly pixie.

I think it’s adorable on her. She looks great. She has such a fantastic, angular face, the big hair was a little too much for her. And I love what they’re doing with her clothes and makeup so far this season. She’s wearing a little darker lipstick, and the cute tank tops. She just seems breezy at this point, not the high strung girl in all the sweaters. Of course, it is only September right now in Felicity Land. We haven’t yet stumbled into fall.

I do want to say one more thing about the hair: It gets worse. I think the Powers That Be from the show or the network, realized that this was a Colossal Mistake, and they had Keri Russell start growing it out right away. I’m pretty sure junior year is simply one big hair fail, if I can remember correctly. But right now, freshly shorn, she looks fantastic.

Before we move on to other matters, what say you about The Haircut?

Felicity 2.03

Emma: So The Haircut! Since we started our Felicity endeavor it feels like it has been leading to this point and while Noel or Ben is one aspect I had heard mentioned repeatedly, the reference to the show-killing haircut is pop culture legend. So I was expecting something WAY worse and as you mention it actually really suits her, the DVD box cover (the same DVD which also includes a description on the back of something that happens at the end of the season?! WHAT?! Yeah I’m still mad about this) clearly shows the growing out disaster and I’m sad they back pedaled this quickly. When it aired do you remember it being a huge deal?

Now as someone who has gone for the drastic chop on more than one occasion (which I have written about here) I know how amazing and terrifying it feels. The reason I cut mine was never as drastic as Felicity, I just suit shorter hair better and neither did I have the incredible amount of curls that Felicity has. The stranger reaction could come across as weird, but with Felicity her curly hair is so distinctive that it’s not surprising she gets so many comments from people she doesn’t know.

I love that Meghan is the first person we see react to it and her verdict is that it’s “wow bad.” Meghan follows this up with how much guys are going to hate it, which is of course a huge generalization as I know guys who both adore and dislike the pixie look on ladies. Micheal Pena is in the former camp, but I think that’s also because he’s still crushing hard on Felicity even after the party incident. There’s also the assumption that Felicity just broke up with someone and this isn’t the only thing Felicity is changing as she’s also dropping pre-med (as Elena predicted when she saw Felicity’s hair). It’s all change around these parts. This change also includes the opening credits where they’ve got both pre and post haircut photos.

Watching The Americans, I’ve got so used to seeing Keri Russell sporting many different hairstyles (including a pixie cut this week) that this hair chop is probably nowhere near as shocking as it would have been a) at the time and b) if I’d only seen her with the mass of curls.

As you mention everything about her seems way more chilled out than last season, even as she makes some pretty big personal changes. Early fall in New York really suits her.

What do you think of the reactions to her hair, particularly Noel and his cruel laughter?

Felicity S2 opening credits

Julie: Looking at the covers of the DVD boxed sets, I definitely think junior year is where it gets really bad. It’s like this curly halo around her head with no real style. The super short look is adorable and I wish I had the face/hair to pull it off. I’ve never gone super drastic with a haircut. I usually hover somewhere around shoulder length, though I’m growing it out a bit now for summer. Maybe In the fall I’ll get a Claire Underwood. We’ll see how that goes. (Though I couldn’t go full Underwood; I was not meant to be a blonde.)

The reactions were kind of awesome. I love that random people stopped to tell her they noticed. This is a very high school/college thing, because everybody is always all up in each other’s business even if they’ve never met. And, yeah, Felicity totally stood out because of her hair. Maybe now, with that burden off her shoulders (ha), she can really figure out who she is.

I thought Noel’s reaction was perfect. He had every right to be just the amount of dick he needed to be. Maybe he’s one who doesn’t dig the pixie look (considering the kinds of girls we’ve seen him pursue, I’m guessing that’s the case), so perhaps this was just the thing to help him officially and for real get over Felicity. I loved seeing the two of them together in this episode, not pining over each other or with one crushing on the other, but just dealing with the shitty hand they’ve dealt themselves. They always were great as friends, and it’s nice to see that he’s willing to stick up for her and support her and I like that this means we’ll be able to see more scenes with Noel and Felicity hanging out (with Elena at the cool apartment).

All of this is vague and ignores the fact that Noel found himself in pursuit of not one, but two women in this episode. What did you think of Brigid and Ruby and Noel? And how do you feel about the other ex-couple (Ben and Julie) mending their fences?

Felicity 2.03 loft

Emma: So at first I read that as Carrie Underwood, which would be a whole other kind of haircut (or extensions I guess) and yes you really should. I’ve always wanted to do the blonde thing but dealing with roots is not something I’d be good at. I like my hair to be as low maintenance as possible.

Noel’s laugh upon realizing who Elena is talking to is so spontaneously mean, but at the same time I can’t really fault him for getting the digs in where he can and I’m glad they’re not making him Mr Nice Guy all of the time. His “It will grow out, right?” remark deserves all the side eye Elena gives him and I’m also happy Felicity basically told him to fuck off rather than turning into a teary mess. Considering how much hair she’s lopped off, she’s not spiralling as much as she could be. What this shows it that while Felicity is prone to making huge, rash decisions – her hair is to season 2 as coming to NYU was to season 1 – when she makes those choices she sticks at it. She’s so thoughtful, but also incredibly impulsive at times and it’s those choices that feel like the right ones.

It’s why she chose Ben over Noel, in her gut she knew she had to see what would happen and even though they’re broken up now, I think for this character and for the story it was the right choice in that moment. Noel wants to know why she chose Ben and instead of giving him an answer she instead asks would it make him feel better if she said it was a mistake? There’s nothing she can say to make up for that summer and that choice, instead they have to learn how to be in the same room as each other considering they are in the same class. Like you I’m happy with how their scenes play out and that Elena’s apartment is no longer a Felicity free zone, even if Richard (!) won’t be too happy about this.

What really gets Noel back in Felicity’s corner is the drawing teacher and several of their classmates shitting all over Felicity’s hand drawings, which in my esteemed art opinion (ha) looked way better than the saggy backpack. They have a heart to heart and it reaffirms one important thing and that’s the close relationship they share that goes way beyond anything romantic. That’s the thing about these two is that they’re besties at heart and the smooching got in the way of this. Noel also tells her that her “hair is not so bad” which I guess is a lot better than laughing in her face.

So onto Noel’s new romantic interests and it turns out that Brigid (no T) gave him a pizza number instead of her own in the last episode. Noel decides to try his luck again, but unbeknownst to him, Bridgid is a lesbian. Bridgid tells Felicity this and at first I thought this was going to turn into some not so hilarious misunderstanding but luckily she tells Noel and he doesn’t react like he did when he found out his brother is gay last season. Brigid also has an extreme zigzag center parting which gave me so many 90s flashbacks and I’m not sure why we ever thought this looked good. I hope she sticks around as a recurring character.

One person I don’t want to be a regular fixture (and IMDB sadly lets me know that she is) is Ruby and I’m sure it’s not all Amy Smart, but urgh is Ruby annoying and pretty self involved. Noel’s totally into her as she’s a Mac person. The instant way to Noel Crane’s heart.

Ah, Ben and Julie and what to make of this. Hmm, well I actually really like the loft dynamic as long as Sean lays off crushing on Julie as I’m worried this could enter creepy territory. I’m glad Julie can forgive Ben, but it’s also kinda BS that she’s pretty much fine with him and not with Felicity. What do you think of this setup?

Felicity 2.03 RichardJulie: Yes, thank you! Richard is BACK.

It’s funny you mention Felicity’s impulsiveness. She comes across as such a labored thinker, but then she goes and does these crazy things and makes these big decisions without a second thought. The most we’ve seen her hem and haw about anything has been over whether or not she wants to be with Ben or Noel.

That art class was just painful. I’ve taken a lot of writing workshops, and you always start with something positive. Even if it’s the worst thing you’ve ever read, you at least compliment the spelling. This art teacher was so mean, needlessly mean. These kids are students; give a little constructive criticism, please.

Brigid’s whole aura is so deliciously ’90s. The zigzag part. The hair strategically escaping from her ponytail. She’s got it all. And she’s our first bonafide lesbian on Felicity, so good for her. She seems delightful, and I’m glad they’ve decided not to just let her “fall for Noel” because he’s so hot he’d turn her straight (that seems more like a future Ben Covington plot line).

Ugh. You’d better get used to Ruby. She’ll be sticking around. And, yes, she’s kind of annoying. What’s with all the freshmen this year? Get a clue. Also, probably part of the Ruby hatred is that Noel seems to dig her, and he and Felicity seem to be getting along so much better. Maybe Ruby appears to be getting in the way of that (though I really, truly like Noel and Felicity as friends right now).

You touched on what really gets my goad about the whole Ben and Julie situation. It’s too easy. She’s too fine with him. I get that the summer has passed, but were Julie and Ben ever really “friends?” He was her savior and her boyfriend, but they admittedly never had any fun together. And yet, she’s still really mad at Felicity. I suppose they (Julie, Ben, and Sean) all lived a happy coexistence, and figured they’d recapture the magic.

What do you think?

Felicity 2.03 zigzag partingEmma: Ugh to the Ruby thing, so far she’s coming across as the kind of person who acts dumb (with both dudes and ladies) but is actually smart and so doesn’t really need to resort to this kind of manipulation. She made me bristle a lot. Random observation time – when Ruby was listing the different kinds of computers she mentioned an iPad. Is this JJ time traveling?

I don’t know how sustainable the loft coexistence happiness is as there’s too much going left unsaid – Sean’s crush, built-up resentment, Felicity – I predict it will all come crashing down around episode 9.

One thing I thought was really smart was the absence of Ben/Felicity scenes, there’s so much going on in the episode and this would have left it feeling over stuffed. It’s more realistic on a campus like this that she would only have run ins with one ex and not two as there’s plenty you can do to avoid someone, like switching shifts at D&D. How heartbroken is Javier by the turn of events?

We don’t get Ben’s reaction to her hair and I’m glad we didn’t yet; if this was now, her haircut would be all over Instagram and the initial shock would come while looking at a smartphone screen rather than in real life. Now I’m longing for some Felicity Instagram shots.

Felicity 2.03 NoelJulie: That’s an interesting call about Ruby being a girl who plays dumb. I don’t remember everything about how her storyline plays out, but that could be true. She definitely feels that way. She got into college, presumably a good college, she can’t be that moronic. The windmills in the Norwegian landscape thing was either dumb, playing dumb, or just one of those dumb things that kids hear when they’re younger and carry with them until someone finally sets them straight. (I thought for longer than I’d care to disclose that you had to present a marriage license in order to book a room at the Sybaris. Do you know what the Sybaris is? You don’t want to go to there.)

I remember there being a big stink made a few years ago about Ruby listing the iPad. My guess is that she was just spouting names and combined a couple of them into iPad by accident. Kind of awesome. Or Ruby is a time traveler, because that would make her character ever so much more interesting.

There should definitely be a What Would Felicity Tweet/Instagram thingy somewhere on the internet. That would be awesome. How many favorites/likes/whatevers would her new hair get?

Emma: I do not know what the Sybaris is, the quick look at that link terrified me.

I think Felicity would get a lot of likes/hearts, especially if she used the right filter/wrote a meaningful blog post about chopping it all off for her and not because of some guy. Also where’s the Buzzfeed “Which Felicity character are you?” quiz? That’s something I really want to know.

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.

The Americans 2.09 “Martial Eagle” Review: “I’m not here to be saved”

24 Apr

A feeling of dread seeps into every corner of The Americans and obtaining secrets is an essential component to winning this war. Philip has been teetering on the edge this season and in “Martial Eagle” those cracks begin to show as he finds it hard to deal with both his cover life and the terrible things he has done recently as part of his real job. It’s a tour du force performance from Matthew Rhys as Philip bounces from his family man persona to whatever wigged wonder is required and he’s struggling to separate the two. One of The Americans overarching themes is duty and Philip struggles to reconcile these aspects and maintain his breezy Philip Jennings persona.

While both seasons are about Philip and Elizabeth, I would suggest that season 1 has more of an Elizabeth focus as she is the one who changed the most over this period, with this year; it has done the same but for Philip. Since Elizabeth was shot it’s like they have switched places as Philip has done the majority of the dangerous work. This isn’t to say that Elizabeth hasn’t been caught in any dangerous predicaments, nor has she been free from making decisions that have ended in death, it’s just Philip has been on the receiving end of these types of moments multiple times his year. Emotions are heightened this season and have been since Emmett and Leanne’s deaths; their deaths have cast a shadow over most episodes whether directly as they hunted for the killer or indirectly now that Stan senses there could be a connection between this and what he is investigating with the DOD and Anton’s kidnapping.

the americans 2.09 Philip at churchThe contra camp infiltration mission goes array as both Philip and Elizabeth resort to killing to save themselves; for Philip this comes at much closer quarters when he cuts open the throat of the person who has caught him taking photos and he ends up covered in blood. There’s something rather intimate about the way Elizabeth hastily cleans this off him and that’s pretty much the only time there is an act of closeness between them in this episode. Philip later holds her at a distance telling her “it’s easier for you.” There’s no follow up other than Elizabeth repeating this assertion in the form of a question “You think it’s easy for me? What I do?” What sparks this bleak and unshakable reaction from Philip is less about what happens at the camp and more about Lewis, the guy they tied up last week. Lewis was meant to be the innocent guy they didn’t have to kill to get what they wanted, but he ended up dead anyway (hypothermia if I had to guess). Doing the ‘right’ thing would have been to shoot him, as at least that way it would have been quick, instead he died a slow death tied to a tree and Philip spirals from this point.

The americans 2.09 Philip and ElizabethPaige and her church group has recently taken a backseat to Henry’s acting out. Henry attempts to engage Philip with a magic trick and is coldly rebuked; Henry probably thinks this has something to do with breaking into other people’s houses, not the murders his father has recently committed. Like his parents, Henry really doesn’t want to go to church and Elizabeth finds it hard to not show her disgust about the whole thing. Elizabeth has been more vocal in her rage at Paige getting interested in religion, whereas Philip’s anger has been directed at the lack of respect Paige has been showing them of late. When they find out Paige has donated $600 of her savings – for a trip to Europe – to the church, this leads to another visit from ‘scary dad.’

the americans 2.09 argumentAs Philip is generally ‘fun dad’ and Elizabeth is the disciplinarian it’s far more terrifying when Philip loses it. Paige wasn’t that bothered when Philip showed off his stern side earlier this season as she responded with sass on this occasion. Philip hovers on the edge of this conversation, but when he gets involved everything he has been keeping wound up tight inside explodes thanks to a disrespectful eye roll from Paige. Philip starts ripping pages from the Bible and spitting about how Paige respects Jesus and not them. Paige is crying and Elizabeth has the same look in her eyes as Philip did when she went at the Mossad agent hard; it’s possibly the first time that either has seen Philip like this. It’s not surprising that Paige has never experienced this side of her father, but for Elizabeth it’s maybe even more concerning as she has been with him for such a long time and this is not the way Philip reacts. He’s normally a lot more measured than this and even in moments of spontaneous violence – the pilot springs to mind – there is still an element of control. Now he seems unpredictable.

The Americans 2.09 FredPhilip has no time to languish at home as he has to deal with an emergency call from Fred and the swelling strings of sadness follow him throughout the episode only adding to this feeling of dread. Philip stays on the pier overnight, lost in thought and while Elizabeth handles Paige, Philip is caught in his melancholy. Home was all he could think about at the start of the season and he didn’t go through with Martha duties to be with Elizabeth, now Philip can’t face it. It’s no longer the sanctuary it was and I think Philip is having a hard time compartmentalizing everything at the moment; he doesn’t want to infect home with whatever he is going through.

What this does is it isolates Elizabeth from him and at first I thought the AA meetings might be a way for Elizabeth to simply talk through things with strangers using alcohol as a cover for spy work. Then I remembered this wasn’t Scandal and Elizabeth definitely isn’t Huck. Instead Elizabeth is using her real life – “I wanted the opportunity to show him that I could be there for him” – to give her an in with this woman who works in something highly classified. Stan mentions that the Soviets will locate a weakness, whether financial, emotional or sexual and exploit it and this is something we have seen both Elizabeth and Philip do on multiple occasions, including now.

The Americans 2.09 Martha and ClarkThis is what Philip has been doing with Martha and he does it in the cruel manner he stopped himself from doing last week. Going to Martha’s means avoiding home and slipping inside another character to escape everything else, but it’s all part of the same tangled web. Philip’s a little tipsy and Martha mentions how out of character it is for him, in fact it’s bizarre to see him holding his glasses just before she walks in, as they are such a part of this persona. The last time we saw Clark was in the horrific scene with Elizabeth so this has been tainted as well. Martha hears the tape and her offer to do whatever Clark wants with surveillance work is exactly the reaction he was hoping for, but you can tell he feels awful. Philip’s inability to get hard for Martha and his decision to leave feels so much like Philip slipping through and I wonder if his encounter with Elizabeth in this disguise has resulted in a lack of libido. It could also be part of playing Clark in this moment and with Philip and Elizabeth it can be hard to distinguish what is part of the act, what they are utilizing in the moment and what is real.

The Americans 2.09 PPhilip confronts the pastor at Paige’s church and it’s unclear exactly what his intention on entering the church was, but if the leather gloves and locking the door suggest, it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Philip asserts twice that he would do anything to protect Paige and we’ve seen this in action when he attacked the guy who came onto her in the department store. Pastor Tim doesn’t possess the same kind of threat; his is an ideological one and it’s something that goes against everything Philip and Elizabeth were raised to believe. This isn’t a confrontation that ends in violence and part of me thinks Philip shows mercy because he realizes that violence isn’t how you respond to a threat like this. While Philip isn’t there to be saved, despite his very obvious emotional turmoil, hurting Tim or turning to God is not the answer. Philip ends the episode alone and I wonder if he will continue down this path of despair or if he can learn to live with what he does in the name of his country.

the americans 2.09 spotlightBack at home Elizabeth is dealing with Paige and her sass, doing so by waking her up, giving her a responsibility lecture and a demand to clean the kitchen. The way in which Elizabeth does this very much feels like an interrogation as the lamp becomes a menacing spotlight. Elizabeth points out all of Paige’s privileged upbringing and how this counters to Philip and Elizabeth growing up with nothing – what is their American backstory? – and once again this leans on reality to inform their fake heritage. It also gives a relatively plausible explanation as to why Philip flipped to Paige and I’m guessing Paige will be rolling her eyes a little less in the future. Elizabeth can turn on the terrifying, even in a turtleneck.

The Americans 2.09 ElizabethSpeaking of disdainful looks and Elizabeth has a hard time of hiding her contempt for all things religion during the service. This was the one point in the episode where my response was laughter.

The Americans 2.09 StanStan finds out the hard way that he has been missing a lot at home as Sandra is packing to go away with someone she met at EST and is even listening to sex tips while she is getting ready. The breakdown of this marriage juxtaposes the Jennings’ as they have got closer over the recent years whereas Stan and Sandy have drifted so far apart they’re like strangers now. Stan has been so focused on work and Nina that everything at home has been in the background so while they changed he didn’t even notice. I’m happy for Sandra as she deserves way more than this, sorry Stan.

At work it’s going a lot better – also in reverse to Philip and Elizabeth as while their relationship has grown, their work has become more traumatic – as he’s been given DoD access and he’s slowly piecing everything together. The couple they were pursuing at the end of last season get mentioned (the couple being Philip and Elizabeth), as Stan and Gaad figure out a way to save Gaad’s job by threatening Arkady in a rare opportunity to see someone other than Stan interacting with the Russians. We also get to see Larrick finding out what happened at the camp and that look in his eye suggests he has murderous intentions towards Philip and Elizabeth.

Now there is danger from multiple sources, with Philip’s mental state being problematic in itself. Philip needs to reconcile what he has done and go back to being a compartmentalizing pro and while that might not be the best for his overall mental well being, at the moment it is something he needs to do as everything else around them becomes even more precarious and dangerous. As I mentioned in the introduction, this is an exceptional and layered performance from Matthew Rhys as he shows Philip in a haunted state that only he can save himself from.

The Power Clashing of Mindy Lahiri on The Mindy Project

23 Apr

“This is canary yellow, my friend.”

Mindy Lahiri’s wardrobe is a colorful mix of pieces that shouldn’t go together and even when Mindy has misgivings about an outfit choice, she’ll still defend it vehemently. So let’s break down my favorite look from the latest episode of The Mindy Project “An Officer and a Gynecologist.”

Mindy KalingMindy Kaling posted this photo to her Instagram in February and it featured on “Out of the Box: Look of the Week” as I’m pretty obsessed with all things yellow. This coat is spectacular and is sadly not available for purchase as it was custom made by Mindy Project costume designer Salvador Perez. Mindy was right to yell about how amazing it is. Perez also designed the gown Kaling wore to this year’s Costume Designers Guild Awards.

It’s all about layering with Mindy and there’s a lot of doubling up with shift dresses and blouses. The silk hearts aflutter C Wonder blouse has been worn by Mindy previously on the show (in “L.A.”). Even while dealing with heartbreak and swearing off guys, Mindy still wears her heart(s) on her sleeve. Mindy has cultivated a fun and distinctive look; while some make fun of her for looking like a kindergarten teacher, there are also those like Jenny who are inspired by Mindy’s confidence and part of this boldness comes from how she dresses. This is ultimate power clashing with both pattern and color so pairing hearts, monochrome weave (the Trina Turk dress) with canary yellow perfectly showcases Mindy’s self-assured style.

What really sets this look of is the ultimate Olivia Pope accessory – well, if Olivia wore that shade of pink – and that is the Prada purse.

Just don’t get your earbuds tangled in your scarf.

The Wish List: The Cosima Coat on Orphan Black

22 Apr

With the return of Orphan Black so comes my obsession with the red Cosima coat and it made a very important appearance in “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed.” There are a few costume items that would feature on an ultimate wish list and the crimson Cosima coat would be up there (with April’s hoodie and an Olivia Pope Burberry trench).

CosimaEach of the clones has their own distinctive look and whereas Alison is all about the Lululemon and Sarah barely wears anything that isn’t black, the red military-inspired coat, glasses and dreadlocks are part of Cosima’s signature style. In the season 2 premiere, Sarah gains entry into a Dyad Institute party while dressed as Cosima. As with previous attempts of doubling for another (Alison and Sarah have both pretended to be each other) a quick interaction or glance and it’s totally believable, anything more and it becomes problematic. There is no way that Sarah can get dreads in this short amount of time so the coat and glasses are the important props in this deception. Sarah’s probably gone a bit too heavy on the eye makeup as you can see in the shot below.

Orphan Black Sarah as Cosima

While it will always be the Cosima coat to me, it does go by another name and that is Sabrina. It’s from TV Ate My Wardrobe favorite Diane von Furstenberg and while it’s either sold out or no longer available on most sites, eBay currently has a few that you can bid on. There are other alternatives and a red coat is a welcome addition to any wardrobe.

DVF CoatIn all the model photos the high funnel like collar has been left undone, this is never the case on Orphan Black and Cosima always has it both belted and buttoned. This coat is like Cosima’s armor and hopefully Sarah remembered to pick it up on her way out of the Dyad Institute.

Mad Men Music Monday: “This Will Be Our Year”

21 Apr

“Happy Valentine’s Day, I love you.”

The first episode of Mad Men‘s seventh season ended with a punch to the gut for both Peggy and Don as one collapsed on the floor of her apartment in tears and the other sat outside on his freezing balcony in a catatonic like state. It’s Valentine’s Day, 1969 and there’s not a lot of joy in either of Peggy or Don’s life at the moment as the secrets they keep are eating them up inside. For Peggy, her relationship with Ted or really his departure to California and away from her is causing her way more sorrow than she would like to admit; a simple mix up over some red roses sends her spiraling. Peggy passes vague messages through secretaries only to take out her frustration and embarrassment on an innocent Shirley.

Mad Men 7.02 PeggyIn another part of town Don jokingly declares that he is looking for love and he finds it in an unlikely place as he has reconciliation with his daughter. There’s a lot that has been left unsaid between Sally and Don since she walked in on him with Sylvia and while it would seem he has divulged details of his upbringing – the truths he told at work are nothing she doesn’t know he reassures – the topic of his dalliances is different.

Kiernan Shipka gets a lot of red carpet props on here, but really it’s her role as Sally Draper that is everything as she conveys just how hard it was for her to come to Don’s building and practically spits out the word “hairspray.” Later on “spectacular” has the same level of snarky venom as Don inquires about her studies. There’s a wealth of resentment and her apathetic feelings towards her father and his lies is completely understandable.  Being a disaffected teen is nothing out of the ordinary, however this extra layer of disenchantment thanks to the lies adults tell hits Don right where it hurts.

Mad Men 7.02 Sally and Don

“Please stop. Stop Talking.”

Instead of avoiding the issue which is generally the Don Draper approach (unless he is backed into a corner), Don confronts this Sally thing head on and I’d be quite happy to spend an entire “Suitcase” type of episode with father and daughter hashing it out. It turns out they don’t need this long and while Don doesn’t get any magical enlightenment in how to fix his work problems, he does heal this wound and Sally’s last line (which opens this article) is enough to push me into misty eyed territory.

The song which closes out the episode after Sally has given Don an unexpected reaffirming declaration is The Zombies with “This Will be our Year.” So while this season has started with utter despair, this signals that there is still hope to be had.

 

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