Tag Archives: Felicity

Movie Team-Up: ‘Lady Bird’ and the Teen TV Legacy

1 Mar

Almost six years ago I was paired up with a writer I knew from Twitter to talk Teen TV over at This Was TV. We started with Angela Chase and ended with Rory Gilmore. Now I am back with YA author Julie Hammerle to discuss the latest teen girl sensation; Lady Bird. This is the first time we have deep dived into a movie, but even with the much shorter run time there is a lot to unpack. And a lot to talk about in relation to those previous shows. Join us as we get into the relationships, our own experiences, why the early ’00s were bad for fashion and who Lady Bird would hang out with from those other shows. Emma: One reason I really wanted to talk to you about Lady Bird in our format reserved for the best in 90s/00s teen TV is because this film feels so perfectly suited to the shows we have discussed in the past—My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, Felicity and Gilmore Girls. Obviously we spend at lot less time with Lady Bird than Angela, Lindsay, Felicity and Rory, but even in that short time I think we find out so much about the complex life of this character and the world she inhabits. This is a testament both to Greta Gerwig’s writing/directing and Saoirse Ronan’s performance.

Now a quick bit of background in terms of my high anticipation levels for this film. This was the film I have been long been waiting to see, before it started getting all the awards love. I am a self-proclaimed Greta Gerwig stan. Frances Ha was my favorite film of 2013 and it impacted me on a deeply personal level. I love Mistress America and Twentieth Century Women. Knowing that this was Greta’s first solo writing project and that she was directing only made me want to see it more. Plus Saoirse Ronan is good everything, so that was another bonus. Then it started winning things and my envy at everyone that had seen it grew.

I had that worry that I had maybe over hyped the film and I would end up disappointed. This was not the case and it managed to not only live up to, but surpass those expectations.

Coming-of-age films are completely in my wheelhouse, one that centers on a teen girl even more so. Lady Bird is set in 2002, which was the year after I graduated high school so there is a lot about her experiences that felt very personal right down to the very bad jeans we all wore then. We’ve talked a lot about the transition between high school and college on here, but most of the shows we talked about dealt with one or the other, Gilmore Girls being the only one that did both. And before we get into plot specifics I want to ask you about your experience watching this film, did you have high expectations?Julie: I’m on the exact opposite end of the Greta Gerwig spectrum from you. I honestly haven’t seen much of anything she’s done/has been in. No Frances Ha, no Mistress America, no Twentieth Century Woman. I hadn’t been actively avoiding them; I just missed them. Absent any first-hand knowledge of Gerwig’s work, but also kind of knowing that she was a bit of an internet darling, I had CONCERNS that I wouldn’t like this movie. My husband told me he thought it’d be my favorite movie of the year, but I worried it’d be too precious, too “indie” for me, too “Hollywood’s idea of what it means to be a teen girl.”

It was none of those things. I loved Lady Bird.

I know we’ll get into this as we go along, but this film felt so authentic. (Other than Lady Bird’s obsession with Dave Matthew’s Band, which felt a little anachronistic to me–DMB would’ve been big with people who graduated high school when I did in 1997. By 2002, I feel like everyone had moved on to Ryan Adams or David Grey, Sad Bastard Music-wise. Maybe I’m wrong, though.)

Anyway, this movie exceeded my expectations, and totally fits into our series on high school/college women. How does Lady Bird fit with in Felicity, Rory, and the like? Who would she have been friends with?Emma: Wow! We really are coming at this film from different angles, much like our other teen TV convos when only one of us had seen the show during its original run.

And with regards to DMB, I remember seeing Greta on one of the late night shows talking about this song and “Cry Me a River” being super important to her when she was in high school (she’s a year younger than me), so I guess he was still a thing in 2002 for teens. DMB never really did much this side of the pond and most of my knowledge comes from Mouse Rat on Parks and Rec. This song (which I don’t think I had heard before) felt like the ideal song to cry with your BFF to. And for how awful JT is, that album and particularly that track are so, so good. The first time I heard it was at a party. I did not hook up with a douche that lied about his virginity though.

Lady Bird is completely her own character of course, but there are elements that made me think of Angela, Felicity et al. There’s the dyed hair, liking the band douche (he reads!), falling out with a bestie to hang with the cool crowd, wanting something more. And really these are part of the teen experience. I have done all of these. Again this is part of the reason why this movie resonated.

Someone on Twitter mentioned how they thought Lady Bird was in the same universe as Felicity (brb gonna write some fanfic) and if their paths crossed at NYU (or the University of New York in the Felicity-verse) I could definitely see them hanging out. Felicity is more straight laced than Lady Bird, but she does have her more adventurous side. If only Lady Bird had moved in during season 3 and not British Molly. I thought I had erased that arc. I had not.

What Gerwig captures in the writing and Saoirse Ronan in her performance is the wild swings between seemingly endless confidence and feeling like you’re incredibly worthless. Something still experienced as an adult, but adolescence magnifies these things. At times Lady Bird looks like she could take on the world, but then her first love turns out to be a lie (Danny obviously cares about her, but not in that way) and she’s also embarrassed about where she comes from. And she doesn’t entirely fit in with one specific high school group trope. She’s a theatre kid for a bit, she tries hanging with the band, but she falls between the nerdy and the cool characters. And I think this is how a lot of groups are at school rather than the neat classification. The relationship with Julie is the anchor to the movie and the focus on female friendships is a theme that runs throughout Gerwig’s writing, this is far more important than either boy. What did you make of this portrayal?


Julie: Are you talking about “Crash Into Me,” as the DMB song? That was a big one around these parts, but I’m thinking sophomore year of college, which probably would’ve been Greta’s freshman or so year of high school, so I guess it all checks out.

(Actually, fact check, “Crash Into Me” was on their 1996 album. I was definitely in high school. So, what do I know? Also, that song is a great “sob with your BFF” song, no doubt. I remember it being a big thing here because it’s a pretty love song, but its lyrics are also kind of dirty in a way that made us all feel grown up to be singing them.)

I will not abide any positive JT talk.

I want to live in a new universe were Felicity met Lady Bird (CHRISTINE) in college instead of that British Molly! I think the big difference for me between Felicity and Lady Bird is that Felicity went to college thinking she had it all figured out. She was going to be pre-med and she was going to make love happen with Ben. Then…things fell apart. Lady Bird/Christine showed up in New York a hot mess. She’d been a hot mess for most of high school, while Felicity was the perfect kid. In a lot of ways, Christine is poised to handle college better than Felicity was. She’s done more. Her parents have very low expectations for her, ha-ha.

Julie was the best. I actually want to see a movie all about her. We obviously share a name, but I just felt so hard for her. I was the overweight girl watching my friends kiss boys. I was the one with the unrequited loves and the out-of-reach crushes. (And I was the one who got good grades and knew I loved theater/music.) And, like you said, groups in high school are never just the “theater kids” or the “swimmers.” There’s a lot of overlap. Friends have varying interests. I liked how this movie portrayed that.

Also, I went to Catholic high school and spent my freshman year at an all-girls’ school. I loved how right this movie got Catholic school. We were friends with the nuns and joked around with them. We wore uniforms (my freshman year), but people did manage to individualize their looks. You could tell who was cool by their Birks and wool socks. We were so classy in 1994. And we were always trying creatively to meet boys–on the bus, at basketball games, through friends. What did you make of Lady Bird’s school life?

Emma: I am talking “Crash Into Me.” And here is Greta talking 2002 and music on Seth. It includes the letters she wrote to Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews and JT. Did I already mention how much I love her? Because I love her.

And you are so right, Lady Bird (and yes Christine by this point) and Felicity arrive at very different points in their life and with very different parental expectations. I have a lot more parental thoughts, but first I want to discuss Julie because I would also watch a movie called Julie. Their friendship feels very lived in and it is a testament to the film how much it hurts when Lady Bird ditches her. It is the kind of teen moment that makes you feel like shit when you think back to when you did this to someone and when it happened to you. It is something we discussed at length with regards to Angela Chase and Lindsay Weir. It is a rite of passage that doesn’t get discussed as much as the other big teen moments (probably because the nostalgic feelings are anything but warm and fuzzy).

Just as important as love interest chemistry is best friend chemistry, Saoirse Ronan and Beanie Feldstein (sister of Jonah Hill) are amazing together. When Lady Bird goes to Julie after hearing “Crash Into Me” it was better than most climatic kiss moments. They dance around the kitchen eating cheese on crackers (sounds like heaven) and get baked together. I like that she keeps her crush to herself because sometimes you don’t even share this stuff with your bestie. And I love that she thrives in theater, whereas Lady Bird is stuck with the chorus and made up roles (“It is the titular role” made me laugh so hard). I was always in the chorus because I got such bad stage fright, but I really like the whole doing the school play thing.

I did not go to Catholic school, but I did wear uniform for the entire time right though sixth form (senior year). A tie and everything. I never wore my tie properly, for a brief period I wore it as a stumpy length, we’d pull the threads out, put pin badges on it and I wore the thin side for my last two years. And when I could I would wear sneakers and not my proper leather shoes. Such a rebel, ha. My husband did go to Catholic school and he found all of that to be both very funny and also accurate.

The parts that really rang true include falling for the guy in the band. The guy that likes to read and has ‘progressive’ ideas about cigarettes and phones. I have definitely heard both of those conversations a lot. I smoked roll ups so I’m pretty sure I spouted some of those points about fiberglass. It is good to be able to identify the pretentious things we thought made us so superior and acknowledge how eye roll inducing they are now. What did you make of the boys Lady Bird fell for? Have you seen Call My By Your Name? Timothée Chalamet manages to play two very different sides of the precocious coin.


Julie: I recently went through a whole bunch of stuff from high school and found some notes from friends, basically calling me out for being a dick. I don’t think their words hit me as hard then as they did when I reread them as an adult. Though, I was going through my own stuff at the time, and my friends hadn’t been very understanding of that either. When you get to adulthood, you (for the most part) know who you are, things don’t change very quickly. But in high school, relationships, self-discovery, all of it moves so fast. We all think we’re in the center of things, even though we’re not. And as much screen time is given to romantic relationships on TV and in film, friendships are truly what high school is all about. Toxic ones lead you to make poor choices. True blue ones (like Lady Bird and Julie) can bring out the best in you.

I loved how this movie explored Lady Bird with Julie and Lady Bird with the other girl (what’s her name?). It was kind of like Lady Bird having a Sliding Doors moment. Her life was one way with Julie, and something totally different with the other girl. In high school, people buddy up pretty quickly. By the end of freshman year, your place in the hierarchy is pretty much set. But Lady Bird tested that in this movie. She got to see what life was like on the other side, and…it wasn’t that great.

Timothée Chalamet is a delight. He’s the best worst kind of guy in this film, and he totally said she’d be his first time, too, right? John and I argued over that point. I definitely heard what Lady Bird did. I did see Call Me By Your Name, and he has such an interesting way of using his body–so gangly and awkward but smooth. This guy is going places, but we all knew that already.

He was totally the guy I would’ve been too scared to crush on in high school. He was way too edgy for me! I would’ve been chasing the gay dude or crushing on the teacher, like Julie.

Would you have fallen for the band dude?

Emma: One other thing I want to mention about the school scenes before moving on to boys in the band is the moment that gets Lady Bird suspended. We also had someone that was pro life speak to our class, but there was also a doctor present and suffice to say that no one was afraid of letting their opinions be heard. Not that any minds were changed, but imagine 20 precocious liberal 17/18 year olds presented with someone telling us abortion is a sin and yep we were all Lady Bird in this moment.

So boys in the band. I both dated and crushed hard on this kinda guy both at high school and university. My first proper boyfriend (relationship lasted 3 months) was the drummer in a local band; a lot of my long (and short) crushes were on lead guitarist, bassists and singers. Someone of these guys I am still very good friends with. So I definitely get the Kyle thing. And they all had great hair and liked to read. I am that teen cliché.

And Kyle definitely said “me too” when Lady Bird mentioned she was a virgin. Although considering how quick he was in the bedroom, I do wonder if he was lying about how experienced he was. Also the nosebleed link between Lady Bird and CMBYN. You’re right about how Chalamet moves. One thing that stood out to me clothing wise in CMBYN is now his Levi’s shorts hang off his waist. That he keeps hoiking them up.

I saw a tweet comparing Kyle to Jess from Gilmore Girls, which I get because the reading and the smoldering, but Kyle is way cooler. But at least Lady Bird sees through his shit immediately. Score 1 for Christine over Rory.

What did you make about the Danny relationship? Were you as devastated as I was when he broke down sobbing into her arms?Julie: That abortion speaker took me right back to high school. I remember being a freshman and being persuaded to the pro-life side of things for a brief period during that time. So young and impressionable! I would’ve been the one tsking Lady Bird. I was trying to remember if I remembered anyone getting suspended in high school, and I *think* one of my good friends was, but I don’t remember what she did. Cutting class? I never got so much as a JUG (Justice Under God), AKA detention. I nearly got one senior year for my skirt being too short, but I ducked into a bathroom before the teacher could catch me.

Kyle would definitely not have been my crush in high school. He would have been way too cool for me, and I would’ve known it. Also he’s much too skinny for my taste. I see the Jess comparison, but I have “concerns” about Kyle growing up to be the good guy Jess grew up to be. I see many years of douche in his future.

Danny would’ve been way more my speed, for sure. MY first “official” boyfriend was a theatre nerd. He wasn’t gay, though, and I was the one who ended up being a dick to him, but that’s a story for another day. I loved the moment where Danny opened up to her. It was my second favorite “understanding straight(ish) person shows great compassion” moment after Michael Stuhlbarg’s amazing speech at the end of CMBYN.

(Wow these movies have a lot of parallels. I guess they’re both coming of age movies, so that makes sense!)Emma: Most of the band guys were also theatre guys so they were part Kyle, part Danny. The douche levels were not high, well with the exception of a few. I crushed hard on one of the guys in the year (grade) above, but ended up going out with his friend because I am terrible. I also treated him badly. I ignored him to the point of him breaking up with me. Ghosting before ghosting. And part of the reason I signed up to do the school play was this crush. But also because I really enjoyed doing them. The crush was just a bonus.

The going into the men’s bathroom when the queue for the women’s is so long is definitely something we would do a lot at uni. Luckily I never caught my boyfriend cheating. This moment is so painful for both Lady Bird and Danny, because he definitely cares about her. Just not like that. The red flags went up when he said he didn’t want to touch her boobs because he respected her too much. And I also loved the scene where he opens up to her. Her anger is understandable, but this deceit was not out of malice.

Danny isn’t the only one that breaks down, there’s also the priest that cries on cue without having to even try. It’s one of those “holy shit my teacher is a real person” moment that is awkward for everyone. This examination of mental health was really subtle I thought. Also heartbreaking. What did you make of this storyline? The coach that replaced him was one of the more overt gags in the film (and reminded me of Mean Girls – why yes I do always mention this film, haha) but I think it worked well against some of the more nuanced jokes.


Julie: That’s one thing this movie captured really well–how mean we are (intentionally or not) to each other in high school. Those four years bring us some of our most intense first relationships (friendships and romances), and most of us were not equipped with the tools for positive conflict resolution.

The Danny stuff was so painfully real. I had a HUGE crush on one my friends during senior year. (Actually I probably liked him before that, too.) But senior year we were in a bunch of classes together, we hung out all the time. People assumed we were dating. I wrote him a pathetic love letter that he never mentioned to me. Then he started dating a girl (his Lady Bird, I guess). They were a thing for several years before he came out. I suppose I dodged a bullet…?

Same with Danny, I don’t think there was ever any malice intended there. He, and I and everyone, was just trying to figure out who he was. People got hurt in the process, but that’s high school.

The priest was absolutely heartbreaking, and I loved that his story gave us a small glimpse into Lady Bird’s mom’s life, and showed us how little LB probably thought about what her mom was up to day-to-day. As a parent, the mother stuff really got to me–the fact that her mom was basically the person LB blamed for all her problems, and that her mom was really a badass professionally, and surely LB had no idea.

The coach thing was good for a laugh, if kind of an overdone trope. I think Saved By The Bell did something like this, too.Emma: I’m glad we’re on to Lady Bird’s mom, Marion because what a performance by Laurie Metcalf. It’s a shame Allison Janney (who I adore) is dominating the Supporting category because Metcalf crushes it (and me) during this movie. There’s a lot of great moments between the pair, but the dress shopping moments really underscore everything that can be complicated by a mother/daughter relationship. There’s an antagonism with so much love sprinkled in. They fight then switch attention back to the dress shopping mission. But the part that really hits home is the “Do you Iike me?” This love is unconditional and yet Lady Bird needs her mom to reassure her.

The whole home dynamic is an interesting one and I grew up with super rich friends in a house I didn’t always want to invite people back to. Now I know that was dumb and no one gave a shit, but at the time I was embarrassed. When Danny mentions the wrong side of the tracks comment it made me want to curl up under my chair. I was that asshole. We spend so much time comparing ourselves (especially as teens) that it is so easy to not even think about how hard our parents work when there aren’t the fancy things to show for it. And luckily when there were job layoffs at my mum’s work she got a new job pretty quick. Our parents also do a good job of hiding these things from us.

I got strong Patty/Angela vibes from Marion/Christine; it’s far more combative than a Lorelai/Rory. And just like how I came around to Patty on the MSCL rewatch, it is very easy to sympathize with Marion. Especially when they keep the college applications a secret. And I get why Lady Bird didn’t want to tell her mom, but the fact that her dad was in on it. And while I’m on the subject of her dad, Tracy Letts is so wonderful in this part. From the way he gives his son advice about the job interview (that he just tanked) to every scene with his daughter. The compassion, the subtle heartbreak. But don’t lie to your wife dude. Again I love that Danny is the one that drops Lady Bird in it.

And what about the half letters her dad saved for her? I’m feeling teary just thinking about it. What did you make of these complicated relationships?Julie: I just thought of this, but my own daughter has been asking me lately if I like her. I’m not sure what that’s about, but I definitely do! That said, I wonder how much my mom liked me during my teen years. It really comes down to potential for Lady Bird and her mom, and, I’d think, most parents. Is this kid living up to her potential? Isn’t that what we all want for our children?

I also tapped right into the money thing. I went to a private high school in a pretty wealthy suburb, but most of my friends were city kids, like me. My family wasn’t poor by any means, but we couldn’t roll with the big dogs, so to speak. It never bothered me, though, but some of my friends had a hard time–driving crappy cars while everyone else was in brand new white Eddie Bauer Trailblazers. I just thought we were kind of fun and funny in our ancient cars.

OMG the tears at those letters! I have to say, though, I’d kind of love to see a movie/show someday where the dad isn’t held up as a hero by the teen girl while the mom is a harpy. Though I loved Tracy Letts’s performance, and his character was really sweet. Oh, and that scene where the son gets the job over his dad! Plus Lady Bird did need someone in her family who was fully on her side, so I’m glad her dad was there for her, even if he could’ve made better choices.

Also, I’m a big sucker for family dynamics beyond the nuclear, so I LOVED everything happening with Lady Bird’s brother’s girlfriend. I also appreciated that the film felt no need to describe the various relationships or how this family came to be. They were all fully part of the family, with all kinds of baggage.

What else? I’m really excited to rewatch this on Saturday before the Oscars!


Emma: Yeah I agree with you on the family dynamic stuff and now I’m trying to think of examples where the mother goes easy on the daughter while the dad is the tough one. I am coming up short. That one mention of Marion’s abusive alcoholic mother tells you everything you need to know. Greta Gerwig is very good at revealing so much about a character in such a short amount of words. I’m all about powerful speeches (see Call Me By Your

Name) but there is something to be said about this kind of economy of words.

The family set up and the lack of explicit explanation (beyond one of the letters mentioning about their issues conceiving a child) was wonderful. And it shows how unnecessary that stuff is. I love that Shelly defends Marion to Lady Bird. Pointing out that her mother has a big heart even though to Lady Bird it seems that all she does is criticize. It reveals just how caught up Lady Bird is with her own BS.

One more thing we need to discuss is the costuming. And especially the bad jeans. So many bad jeans. Why were they so baggy and shapeless? Why did we think this was a good look? During Danny’s teary breakdown I couldn’t help but notice the bad jeans. The dress Lady Bird wears to prom is perfect and I definitely had a hair band like the one she has. I miss that hair band. The super tight dress she tries on before settling on the dress is the most early ’00s awful. I loved it.

Also the level of messy in her room gave me flashbacks to the state of my bedroom. And also the pile of clothes I need to sort through in my current adult bedroom. Even after I tidy the clothing explosion will be back within two to three days.

So Lady Bird is up for 5 Oscars, I think it could win one (Original Screenplay), but if you could pick it to win one award out of the five which would it be and why?Julie: I definitely had a similar pair of jeans to the wide-legged ones Lady Bird wears a few times. I thought I looked great in them. Thanks to this movie, I now know differently. That was not a great time for fashion. But, looking back, it never is, right? Not until some designer reimagines it and we’re all like, “YES! Shoulder pads and power suits were a GREAT idea! We were all so smart in 1987!”

I was the biggest slob in high school. One of my friends used to come over and clean my room for me because I disgusted her so. I also had bunch of song lyrics I’d printed out and taped to my door–mostly Indigo Girls and Ani DiFranco.

The husband and I have been debating the Oscars thing. So much is up in the air this year, but I’m feeling them not giving it to Frances McDormand and giving it to Ronan instead. Since there’s been so much time between the last awards show and the Academy Awards, anything could happen–I also wouldn’t be surprised if Janney peaked too early. So I’m saying Lady Bird gets two–both actress awards.


Emma: I would love to see your Oscar predictions come true! I don’t think this year will be quite as dramatic as the last. But I am very much looking forward to it.


Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen on June 7, 2016. Before settling down to write “for real,” she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana. Newsletter


Teen TV Halloween Episode Round-Up

26 Oct

Halloween is fast approaching and whether you have parties to attend over the weekend, I’m sure you can slip in a few old TV episode faves to celebrate this creepy time of year.

Sitcoms have long delivered on the Halloween theme hits with Brooklyn Nine-Nine upping the game every year; culminating in a very funny and heartwarming 2017 entry. Yes, I was crying by the end of it. But the genre that I keep returning to AND rewatching is teen TV from the ’90s. Because of course. Last year I wrote about nostalgia and looking back at these episodes.

I’m looking at you My So-Called LifeFreaks and GeeksFelicity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Below is a collection of articles I have written and team-up conversations about this particular topic and these shows. This is the ideal time for teen characters to experiment and most of adolescence is trying to figure out who you are. On Halloween you can explore that in a more explicit and overt manner. Ghosts come in many forms and it is also fun to look back at what was big in pop culture during this time. Costumes choices can be from a very specific window of time and there are some looks that never go out of style during this spooky season.

But if you need costume inspiration that is more 2017 than 1998, I also have you covered in this department.

My So-Called LifeMy So-Called Life uses the holidays to indulge in the supernatural from dead students that are very similar to Angela’s crush—Jordan Catalano—to angels at Christmas. I have written about MSCL a lot and the impact this show had on me when I was a teen cannot be measured in words (even though I have tried). It is surprising that I haven’t gone as Angela for any Halloweens so far and right now with all the ’90s inspired clothes in stores would be the perfect time. But alas, this year I have other plans.

For Halloween costume tips from the MSCL Halloween episode head here and for a discussion of everything about this episode go back in time to This Was TV.

Freaks and GeeksCapturing the awkward transition between childhood and adulthood is something Freaks and Geeks does better than many and in its third episode “Tricks and Treats,” Halloween is the perfect example of this. Whether it is finding out that there is a cut-off age for trick-or-treating or succumbing to peer pressure; this episode has it all. Plus Bill dresses up as the Bionic Woman and he is so pure. We must protect Bill Haverchuck.

I wrote about Freaks and Geeks using this holiday as a way to portray the push and pull that is indicative of being a teenager here. And for This Was TV, I did a deep dive of this episode with regular teen TV team-up partner, Julie Hammerle. Come for the Freaks and Geeks chat and all things pop culture references from 2013 (I see you Red era Taylor Swift).


I couldn’t not include this A+ TBT from Busy Philipps. 

Felicity Also early in Felicity’s run they give us a Halloween episode—it helps that October is near the start of the school year—and this one is fraught for a number of reasons; Felicity and Ben are robbed at gunpoint, which brings them closer together before pushing them apart. Felicity gets wasted and ends up throwing up in Noel’s lap, thus providing my go to Twitter cover photo for this time of year. There are also a good range of costumes and this brings me to my second Halloween costume tips post via teen TV from the ’90s.

Once again you can head to This Was TV for an in-depth chat about this episode and this isn’t Felicity’s only foray into Halloween shindigs. They head back to that well in season 4 and while it isn’t as noteworthy, there is a pre-Americans wig moment for Keri Russell and the episode is called “Boooz.” And for some reason, I still find that hilarious. You can read our thoughts about this episode on this very site.Buffy the Vampire Slayer 

The first Buffy the Vampire Slayer Halloween episode is in my Top 10 (maybe even Top 5) for this show. It is pivotal for a number of reasons and gets called back to on numerous occasions (like whenever they need anything military training related). And it also captures those awkward teen feelings as well as any of the other shows mentioned above. These are no After School Specials; instead pointing to insecurities and how this holiday can help put those feelings aside. Or magnify them.

Willow’s costume—or the one that Buffy wants her to wear—is the most ’90s, ticking all those nostalgia boxes and I wrote about that here. But don’t head to This Was TV for a team-up chat as we never did get to doing one for Buffy.

I keep returning to these episodes for a number of reasons; part nostalgia and part because they stand the test of time.

Happy Halloween, everyone! And if anyone dresses as any of the above characters please send me pics.

TV Ate My Soundtrack: The “Look What You Made Me Do” Edition

25 Aug

Taylor Swift has a new song out — news I’m sure you are aware of — and while I was far, far from blown away, I have had the line “Look what you made me do” playing on a loop in my head since. And I’ve only listened to it once. Even a mediocre song can create an earworm.While this is no “All Too Well” or “Out of the Woods” it will make for a good TV soundtrack moment and my first thought after pushing aside those underwhelmed feelings was “What TV show will use this song?” Well, the TGIT ABC line-up was quick out the gate proving this song might not be a banger, but it works well alongside Shonda dramas. The Right Said Fred beat has a lot to do with that.

TV show playlists pretty much make up a good 75% of my Spotify playlists — current and old shows — and so here are the shows/scenes both past and present that I think this new Taylor track could accompany.

Sidenote — I just remembered Taylor has both been referenced in New Girl and has appeared on New Girl as an entirely different character. Here is the fantasy soundtrack casting of this song:

Felicity – Meghan finally reveals the contents of her box. She is not very happy about doing so, but we do get another Twilight Zone style episode so it is a win/win.

Game of Thrones – Taylor guest stars as Arya Stark, or rather a version of Arya as part of the acting troupe we met last season. And after hearing Arya recite her list of names actress Arya turned it into this song. It does not go over well with viewers.

Girls – Marnie sings a cover version of this song to absolve her from any wrong doing. It is simultaneously the best thing I have ever heard and the most cringe worthy moment. Classic Marnie.

Gossip Girl – pre Dan is Gossip Girl reveal, Dan feels conflicted about a Serena blast he sent to Gossip Girl after seeing her with a mystery new guy. Later on, when it is revealed that Dan is Gossip Girl, this is one scene of many that makes no sense

How to Get Away with Murder – we find out how not to get away with murder and I can still only name two characters by name (other than Annalise).

Mad Men – occasionally Mad Men would delve into contemporary music for the closing credits and I like to think this would follow on from when Pete tried to get his revenge on Don by revealing his real identity (and it failed).

New Girl – a montage of Jess attempting to appear a little edgy to her students because she wants them to think she is cool. It does not work and she instantly reverts back to all things twee. Sounds like a plan someone else should stick to.

Revenge – Emily Thorne red sharpie of doom montage. A tad on the nose, but sometimes it is best to keep it simple.

Riverdale – After a fight with Jughead, Betty sticks on red lipstick, brunette wig and bralette and goes to some dark, dark places at a nightclub while Veronica looks concerned. Yes, this is sort of a repeat of last season. But with added Tay.

Scandal – one of the main characters kills someone, but it’s handled. Red wine is consumed and cardigans are coveted.

Wonderfalls – a plastic snake tells Jaye to blow up her relationship with Eric and this song plays as Jay drowns her sorrows with a lot of shots.

You’re the Worst – Sam makes a remix version of “New Phone, Who Dis?” with the line “I’m sorry, the old Taylor can’t come to the phone right now.” “Why?” “Oh ’cause she’s dead!” It is a surprise hit and now Gretchen has to do a lot more work.

Taylor, look what you made me do.

Scott Speedman Was a Disaster of a Boyfriend and Other Important Felicity Things

31 May

Yesterday Keri Russell received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, it was season 5 finale of The Americans and she appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! with former co-star and ex-boyfriend Scott Speedman. The two are still pretty tight, along with other Felicity co-star and former onscreen roommate Amanda Foreman aka Meghan and this pretty much ticks so many boxes. Not Meghan’s magical box, but those ones I talk about often on here (see the recent Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants reunion) about former co-stars still hanging out.

The back and forth banter between Russell and Speedman includes the fact that he was a disaster of a boyfriend with no real specifics, which considering how squirmy Speedman gets is probably a good thing for him.

Although he couldn’t have been too bad considering how tight they clearly still are. A Felicity reunion is quickly nixed and even though I’m a huge fan of the show I don’t need to see that unless Twilight Zone homages or time travel is at play.

The infamous haircut comes up (of course) and Russell also reveals that Speedman had no idea what ceremony he was actually attending.

The whole interview with both of them is delightful and earlier in the episode Keri Russell also reveals that she is going to appear on Running Wild with Bear Grylls and that IRL boyfriend (and on-screen husband) Matthew Rhys got an adorable gift for her that included some strong advice from her oldest son.

Rhys was also present at the Walk of Fame ceremony along with Americans co-stars Holly Taylor, Noah Emmerich and co-showrunner Joel Fields. Felicity co-creators JJ Abrams and Matt Reeves also spoke at the ceremony.
This might be the first time that I’ve really liked a deconstructed shirt and Keri Russell looks fabulous in this striped Johanna Ortiz number and pairing it with flared Chloe pants works like a charm. The Rag & Bone full suit is great on Matthew Rhys and for the occasion. Expect to see more from The Americans pair with Emmy FYC events in the works.

The Americans 5.08 “Immersion” Review: What Do You Want to Be?

26 Apr

Elizabeth Jennings, international super spy has been many things over the years including a Mary Kay sales rep, fashion buyer, flight attendant, housewife, travel agent and countless other professions that have provided the details of the disguises required to complete the work of her actual job. That of KGB agent.

Even her role as a wife and mother is part of the bigger picture; the main difference here is that she’s not faking her way through most of these things as she really is a mother to two children and her relationship with Philip has evolved from doing the necessary to becoming the thing they were projecting.At its heart The Americans is a marriage/family show wrapped up in spy packaging and with the recent Paige developments home and work have become even harder to separate. Philip and Elizabeth have a lot on their plates right now with several operations running in tandem and now they’re most trusted adviser has upped and left them.

For Philip, Gabriel’s departure is more complicated because of how contentious their relationship was at times and because of his parting words about Paige being kept out of all of this. In fact Philip even questions Gabriel’s motives and whether it was simply because it was his job. Elizabeth believes otherwise and is certain he cared about them – caring was something she said she couldn’t do with their targets last week – and she’s stunned when Philip tells her he’s glad Gabriel has gone. A world where none of them have to do things like this is a repeated theme this week and Elizabeth is the first one to head down a wishful thinking channel. Bookending the episode with talk of a world without spying and Elizabeth seems genuinely surprised by this question of what she would’ve done as an alternative career. After a beat she says she would’ve been a doctor. Something that Paige finds amusing as her mother has terrible bedside manner. Much like Keri Russell’s other most famous TV role there is a push pull between two vocations; for Felicity it was between art and medicine and this is a far cry from Elizabeth’s two job opportunities. Ben Stobert has a whole Scott Speedman vibe and everything keeps coming up Felicity.

Placing focus on doing the things you wish you didn’t have to is something that this season keeps circling back on; in this career conversation Paige asks if Elizabeth likes what she does and Elizabeth sings the party line about being proud of her work,. She wishes she didn’t have to do the things she does, but there is a purpose. I wonder what Paige’s father would say if he was posed with the same question. Philip is of course going to do what he has to even through gritted teeth and the Topeka operation is indicative of this. So even when he kind of tanks his relationship with Deidre he finds a way to win her back; she wants someone who is more assertive so he tells her that he’s married.

It is interesting watching both Philip and Elizabeth cancel their Topeka plans on the phone. First because their both kind of going against the Centre by canceling with both claiming it is not because of the other, but the quick sideways glances in the office suggests otherwise. They both have their game faces on even though it is all through the phone and it is odd to see them as Brenda and Gus when they are not wigged up. Discussing their respective days in the Jennings bedroom is unlike most other marriages as Elizabeth shows off her new fondness for tai chi – “looks like slow kung-fu” quips Philip – as it is relaxing. There is a broad smile across her face until Philip mentions that he has been dumped. Elizabeth thinks that EST is to blame and that it has softened Philip; something he very much disagrees with and yet this conversation doesn’t end in an argument showing just how good things are between them right now. They’re sharing everything with each other and this includes what Elizabeth told Paige about her past.Keri Russell should probably use this episode as her Emmy submission for the training scene in the garage alone as she goes from badass fighting mom to revealing her deepest secret in a bid to show Paige how it is possible to move beyond being scared.

Elizabeth was raped when she was 18 by a superior officer – the superior officer who turned traitor in the pilot – and after that moment she trained hard so no one would hurt her like that again. She’s no longer afraid nor does she ever really think about it and by revealing this part of herself she is giving Paige something to cling to while she scrambles in the dark. For a long time this was something Elizabeth kept as her secret to bear the weight of by herself and by telling Philip this opened the door to where they are now. The power gets shifted from her attacker and what it did to her; by telling Paige about this she shows how fear doesn’t have to rule you. When Paige goes to hug her mother, Elizabeth stops her and reinforces the idea that she trained hard to combat being afraid. Elizabeth is never going to be a touchy feely mom, but this level of emotional intimacy is her way of being open with her daughter. Later when it comes up again Elizabeth lists the things that allowed her to focus; her job/her kids. Of course in this truth telling session she doesn’t tell Paige what became of her rapist and the time he spent in the trunk of their car in close proximity to them while they slept. And also in the location where this fight training is now taking place.

Claudia remarks that Paige is her mother’s daughter and asks some catch up questions now she is back to being their handler. This is met with reservations from Philip and Elizabeth, with Philip particularly having no time for her bullshit. She is the woman who split up his marriage back in season 1 after all. No need for polite chit chat and Philip pretty much wants to get whatever information she has to give them and get out.

Later on Elizabeth indulges in a drink and conversation and despite almost beating her to death there is an understanding between these two women beyond animosity. Unlike Philip, I am sad to see Gabriel go and yet I am thrilled Margo Martindale will get more screen time particularly as this dynamic is a lot more prickly. And because she’s Margo fucking Martindale. All hail the return of the squirrel pins.The last time they saw her would’ve been at the end of season 2 when Claudia informed them of the Centre’s plans for Paige. Plans that are very much in motion and Claudia asks for an update from Elizabeth and not for work reasons. Claudia it turns out has been back home in-between sessions with Gabriel spending time with her daughter and grandchildren and she sounds genuinely sad when she mentions that they didn’t remember her. Claudia asks what Elizabeth wants for Paige and it is all rather abstract as she just wants her to care about things that matter. This also echoes her conversation with Stobert as she references how much his work matters in comparison to what she does; flattering his ego to keep him on the line or showing respect for what he does?

She also mentions to Claudia that with Philip they will never see eye to eye on this Paige stuff, but despite that things have been good between them. She seems reluctant to go into detail and I wonder if this is in part related to the time Claudia drove a wedge between them. Philip still has his mind in the long ago past after learning about what Gabriel did in the bad times back home and he wonders what Claudia was up to during this period. We have seen how deadly she can be and I have a feeling she was doing something similar. Fear related to the past is something we see in Oleg’s story as his mother is terrified that her only surviving son is going to get taken away. When his room is searched she thinks they will find something even if there is nothing as that is how things used to operate.

More information is given regarding her time spent in the gulag as she was accused of sabotage, which back then could have been for something as innocuous as taking a pencil home from work. She was eventually pardoned and Oleg wonders if his trip to the archive brought on this home visit. His boss doesn’t think so and in a regime ruled by paranoia it could be anything. The surprise here is that because of his father’s position this search even happened and it is troubling. Also tipping into troubling territory is Tuan and so far this operation has been chugging along nicely in the background. Evgheniya has been a surprising source of opportunity for them with her job teaching Russian and the affair she is now having. Now they just need to get her to go back to Russia so they can utilize this to maximum effect. This will require Tuan to turn on his friend as they need Pascha to want to go home and Tuan thinks this should be easy.

The concern here should be their adopted son as this is the second time he has asked them to spend more time at this home and unlike their actual son he is showing signs of wanting their attention. Because they have so much going on I have a feeling this is the operation that will end up causing them the most bother in the long run. Meanwhile, Stan and Aderholt are gently coaxing their new source Sofia into feeling more comfortable. She is incredibly jumpy and they are using monetary incentives and her son’s future as a way to get her more on board. She talks about all the different things her young son wants to become and it once again points to this notion of growing up to be something and the hopes we have for our children.

Stan also has some good quality time at the Jennings house in which Renee’s name comes up and she wants to get him to go sky diving. He quips that he wants to be alive to see Matthew graduate college and cue raised eyebrows from everyone watching. They touch on the recent teen breakup while also quipping about Henry’s current girl situation and if he wasn’t so neglected I would say that Henry has it best out of anyone on The Americans.A sense of dread permeates all and there’s nothing to suggest that is all going to collapse as everything is moving along rather nicely. However we are entering the last third of the season and this implies that something is going to give soon; what this season has been doing a lot of is exploring the internal while moving the pieces for the final act.

It is a slow burn and it definitely feels like we’re heading toward something, but who is going to break first? My money for what it is worth is on the trifecta of sons being what leads to the dam breaking; Henry, Tuan and Mischa.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2017Another fabulous disguise and this season has been the gift that keeps on giving with Elizabeth. This jacket alone is on my covet list as I am always partial to vintage ski style and if I could also get Henry’s sweatshirt (that you can see near the top) then that would be great. Those glasses are fabulous and I’m looking forward to seeing Katie Irish’s inspiration board behind this one.

Updated to add the bio board for this disguise. Interesting to see what changes during this process. 

The Americans 5.04 “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” Review: Meet Cute

29 Mar

It has been a long time since Philip and Elizabeth had a new honey trap mission on The Americans and in “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” they both get to give their seduction skills a workout with varying results.

There is reluctance from both husband and wife when Gabriel gives them their objectives at the start of the episode and each comes up reasons as to why this is very bad timing; the travel to Kansas, how intense things are with Paige, their other ongoing operations. And while Gabriel has been accommodating in the past to their calls for space and time, this is not one of those occasions and it is full steam ahead.
Philip is particularly reluctant and his heart really doesn’t seem in the flirting game. He gives it a good go though and the gym has proven to be a great dating ground for others recently (see Stan and he’s already at the double date stage). Deirdre does give Gus Alexander his number, but is pretty non-committal when Philip rings to make a dinner date. There’s the work excuse as she seems pretty invested in her job, but there’s also the Philip factor of not being quite as effective as he tends to be in this arena.

Maybe he’s out of practice and his most recent new mark before Deirdre was Kimmy and he was even less enthusiastic about that one. Martha was long term and that started just prior to the new phase of the Jennings marriage where pretending turned into reality and the same goes for Annalise. Maybe Philip just doesn’t have it in him anymore

The marriage at the heart of the story is stronger than ever; they are on the same page when it comes to Paige (I’ll get my coat) and this is evident in how in sync they are with their similar reactions to Paige’s snooping at Pastor Tim’s. When talking about this new operation there is reinforcement from both about how reluctant they are. Philip jokes about how he might die of boredom with Deirdre (although this could also be good deflection if he strikes out) and Elizabeth brings Philip a gift from the plane. A drink that another guy bought her, but she made sure he knew who she would be giving it to.Philip waits up for Elizabeth to get back from Topeka and one thing the Americans does very well is use spaces throughout the home for these intimate moments. Even if the outside still looks like a looming house of horrors, inside it is nothing but warmth.

This is also where this show excels at the marriage aspects and despite the overall content of their conversation being very different from the average “How was your day?” back and forth this is very much a husband/wife chat. Along with the miniature bottle gift, Elizabeth tells Philip that her guy is “full of himself” and doesn’t go into much detail beyond the hiking date she has set up. Even without mentioning how hot he is (he is very hot, hello beard) Philip’s jaw clenches in a way that would suggest just how unhappy he is with this whole scenario. This is also time for my weekly praising of how good Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are at saying so much with just their faces.

Other than the hotel manager in season 3 it has been a long time since Elizabeth engaged in some extended extra-martial spy seduction shenanigans. The whole Don set up was faked and all of her other recent operations have been friendship based. Post-end of season 1 reconciliation the only other honey traps Elizabeth has been a part of were during season 2 and this is ground they haven’t had to cover while their marriage has been this strong. It clearly makes Philip jealous and his comments about her liking this new guy after she mentioned that he’s funny are met with a stern rebuttal and this previous scene from season 1 would work wonders here as a response.

Instead of getting angry she instead points to the big picture of the why they are doing this and how she actually feels about Ben. Those jokes are something she has to laugh all while he is trying to starve their country.

Earlier in the episode Philip quips “Think we’re going to get fired” and she points out to him that this isn’t funny (he knows) so the mention of Ben’s humorous qualities strikes a nerve that is already frayed. This is tension that hasn’t been felt since the Martha stuff came to a head mid last season and with all they are doing right now it isn’t surprising that emotions are high even if they are both experts in control.Elizabeth’s meet cute at the health food store is way more successful than Philip’s lukewarm gym attempt and Elizabeth plays the awkward clumsy girl to perfection. Not only does Ben get to show off his knowledge of all things health food, but he also gets to play the hero sweeping in to help with the dispenser she purposefully can’t quite figure out how to use. Elizabeth works the ego element well – all the while a store worker awkwardly sweeps up – and her look as Brenda might be my favorite yet. Yes even more so than Patty last season.

Brenda works in fashion selling women’s clothes and her look is more edgy than Patty’s. It’s all about the various blacks and this is Elizabeth’s first foray into acid wash denim territory; a hard look to pull off and of course Keri Russell does just that. The shorter black bob looks cute on her and the glasses are not quite the full ’80s covering half your face horror show that Philip’s guy is wearing (which I actually love).

After a fun hiking date, Elizabeth goes back to Ben’s and before things go too far she makes her excuses to leave; she has him on the hook and wanting more. There’s also a sense that she’s doing this not only for the mission, but because of the complicated emotions at play. Or maybe Elizabeth is just better at separating the work from her marriage, even if her marriage is intrinsically entwined with her work. In the same way Elizabeth felt insecure about Martha, Philip is leaning into this state and she shuts him down pretty effectively at the end of “What the Matter with Kansas?”Paige also gets let in on some of the aspects of this mission after she asks about their separate time away. Elizabeth is vague on details explaining that sometimes they have to work sources on their own. She asks about her cover name and profession and is rightly weirded out by the thought of her mom pretending to be someone else. If only she knew the whole story and then her mind would be really blown. In this sharing session Paige also reveals she found Pastor Tim’s diary while she was babysitting. Elizabeth is more concerned than proud as she points out that Paige could easily slip up and act different if she was even almost caught in the act. This is the same point Philip makes and there is worrying amount of cavalier attitude with Paige as she points out to her mother that she wasn’t there.

Not to completely shit on her achievement and Elizabeth does call her brave and smart for finding it; later she also raises the point that there might actually be something useful in the diary to use against Pastor Tim and Paige is very much her mother’s daughter. Blackmail is very much a central theme in the other major thread this week with Stan finally figuring out what he can use as leverage against the CIA and that’s public embarrassment. He threatens to go to the press about that time he gave Vlad a burger and then shot him in the back of the head, but is it too late? Aderholt gave him the idea after he mentioned a very successful operation in which blackmail was used and everyone came out a winner. This is not something that typically happens on The Americans and all’s well doesn’t tend to end well.Oleg is deep in his investigation and this one also uses weak spots to exploit for the so-called good of the country. He’s not really into this line of reasoning and he wants to find another way and this further reinforces the idea that he’s not that different from Stan. Except he thinks Stan has betrayed him and he tells his mother about his big dilemma.

So far we have only seen her as a weeping mess, but this week we get to see an entirely different side to Oleg’s mother. Unknown to him and before Oleg was born his mother was sent to a camp for five years. She explains that she survived by doing what she had to and now he should do the same.In other son news Henry is now really tall and delivering on teen sass. He’s pissed that his mom doesn’t put enough jam on his toast and instead of simply putting on more he throws it in the trash; a very significant point considering how much food or the lack of is at play this season. Henry is also in trouble at school and Elizabeth thinks his old friend Doug is actually code for a girlfriend. Just who is he on the phone to for hours? Meanwhile the other son makes his dangerous trip across the border and arrives at JFK. I figured Mischa’s travels would take a lot longer than that and the speed of his venture is welcome rather than dragging it out.

Philip goes for a beer with Alexei and is far more successful with him than his other mark. They talk about how everyone sees Alexei as a genius here as he’s giving them a lot of information about Russian infrastructure. Alexei notes how similar the two countries are in terms of land and yet how backward they are with their methods. This plays into the discussion in the motel room last week and there’s a push/pull at play between the very real things that are wrong with the corrupt system at home and loyalty to country.

Outfit I Would Wear in 2017

I don’t think I can pull off acid wash, but I would definitely give this jacket and those glasses a go. A+ costume work from Katie Irish and her team. Looking forward to more Brenda.

Felicity Flashback

Halloween on Felicity was an early look at how good Keri Russell looks with a short bob.

Best of TV Costuming 2016: Work in Other Places

22 Dec

So 2016 has been bit of an emotional roller coaster on a large global scale and a personal one with moments of so much joy and immense sadness.

Writing wise this has been my best year yet as I finally got over my pitching fears (well, mostly) and have a weekly TV and Style column at The Observer where I have discussed numerous shows and costume moments beginning with Girls back in February. I have also contributed to Collider with several Americans essays and a TV themed gift guide (still time to buy!).

Here is a selection of my favorite pieces of work from 2016 including a personal essay, topics I have been obsessed with for a long time, discussing so many different shows from this year (with a dash of the ’90s) and I also got to interview two amazing costume designers.Outlander Season 2 2016Kicking off with the essay that was incredibly hard to write, but also gave me great comfort after my father passed away in July. I got married in September and in the lead up I knew it would be a very happy day tinged with sadness and writing about Outlander, my father and our shared heritage helped.

I don’t tend to be someone who is good with sharing my deepest feelings and personal essays are an uneasy prospect: however connecting to the work of Terry Dresbach and the Outlander team led to an outpouring of words.the americansI wrote about The Americans a lot in 2016 both here and other places. I spoke to costume designer Katie Irish at the start of the fourth season about Coach, the many coats and other costume design disguise secrets.

For Collider I went deep about Elizabeth Jennings and motherhood, why the teens on this show don’t fall into the usual annoying obstacle trap and looked at how the Cold War is making a comeback on TV (this was before other significant events).westworldOne of the most fulfilling experiences of 2016 was talking to Westworld costume designer Ane Crabtree after the season finale. Part of this is because I have been writing about Crabtree’s work since TV Ate My Wardrobe started with Masters of Sex and because of all the anecdotes and insight I got from this phone conversation.fleabagOne of the first pieces I wrote on TV Ate My Wardrobe was about lipstick on TV/film and I expanded upon this idea while discussing the Empire CoverGirl line and how powerful make-up can be.

Other key lipstick essays include two of my favorite shows of the year with how Fleabag paints over the cracks and the portrayal of women working in the tech industry in the ’80s on Halt and Catch Fire. And the time jump on Halt and Catch Fire allowed me to address my own nostalgia and one of my favorite style decades.img_4381In a similar vein, but at the end of the scale the build up to new Gilmore Girls was the perfect time to address all the fashion mishaps of the early ’00s.

BrainDead is one of my favorite shows of the year for being fun, weird, having so much flames chemistry and rethinking how to do a “previously on.” Plus it gave me so many outfit goals and I got to expand on this further heregame-of-thronesAnd now for my most viewed article, which also happens to be one of my favorite costume moments of the year when Sansa made sure Jon knew he was family by making him a very Ned fur.

Also on the subject of Game of Thrones I previewed the “Battle of the Bastards” with a ‘Who wore it better?’ competition and went all in on Cersei’s power move ensemble.

On the pieces I have wanted to write about forever track; Angela singing on Mr. Robot let me go all in on the sadness karaoke essay that has been itching to come out since Eliza sang “Chandelier” on Selfie.

The second season of Mr. Robot was messy in places, but the women delivered and it gave me plenty to write about from a costuming perspective. Oh and everyone looks hotter in sunglasses as the Fug Girls always say.felicity-and-marciaA tale of two haircuts and I am very proud of finding a very strong link between Keri Russell’s infamous Felicity haircut and Marcia Clark’s mid-trial makeover. American Crime Story’s “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia” is one of my favorite episodes of TV this year and exploring the legacies of a style change was incredibly fulfilling.

I binged the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend the week after my dad died and it was a much needed distraction so I will forever be grateful for Rachel Bloom and Rebecca Bunch. Season 2 has also provided some very interesting talking points including portrayals of lady friendships and makeovers. Plus Rebecca’s imagination delivers on plenty of fun costume changes.

Here’s to more in 2017 and for my author pages at The Observer and Collider head here and here.

For individual costume highlights check out Best of the Rest Parts 1 and 2.




Best of TV Costuming 2016: Best of the Rest Part 1

16 Dec

Welcome to TV Ate My Wardrobe’s “Best of 2016” costuming series and rather than doing a straightforward countdown we’re going to do a variety of posts that look at which costumes and shows have made a huge impact this year. From items we want in our own wardrobe to pieces that got everyone talking; we want to celebrate the work of television’s best costume designers.

This week we kicked off our end of year coverage with a deep dive into the Jennifer disguise on The Americans and how it encapsulates the vulnerability that is creeping in.

Today we’re going to switch things up and take a broad look at some of the individual costume standout moments with entries from Game of ThronesPreacherBroad CityGood Girls Revolt and more.

Stay tuned for part 2 next week.img_4802img_4801Most on Point Family Accessorizing 

Sansa and Jon Snow did not appear on screen in conversation with each other before season 6 and yet when these two Stark children (cousins not siblings) were reunited the room got very misty all of a sudden. Starks finding each other has been a long time coming as there have been so many near misses over the seasons. To show loyalty Sansa gifted Jon with a fur just like their dad/uncle wore and made herself a fetching new dress complete with wolf sigil. The Starks are back and their little sister/cousin is also hopefully on her way home too.

Okay so things got a little messy with Sansa withholding important information, but in this moment at Castle Black they were at one with each other and their family heritage. For more on this Game of Thrones season 6 moment check out my essay at The Observer.

img_2888The Most Ilana Wexler Use for a Dog Hoodie

I remember seeing this dog hoodie in American Apparel about two weeks before this Broad City season 3 trailer came out and also initially thought it was for an adult (I put the small size down to it being American Apparel). This sight gag was perfect; right down to Ilana thinking the ear holes were for her hair and this sums up Ilana’s carefree (and cropped top loving) attitude toward fashion.

img_4411Best ’90s

The big ’90s fashion resurgence continued with gusto this year and Halt and Catch Fire delivered on a very time specific ensemble that wouldn’t look out of place in a current Topshop display. Ah, the cyclical nature of style.

Also this shot is great as it shows that costume designer Kathryn Morrison linked Cam and Joe together in black and white, but put distance between them as their outfits are the negative image of each other.img_3326 img_3325The Felicity ‘Queen of Sweaters’ Award

There is no doubt that Felicity Porter is the Queen of Sweaters and Keri Russell takes this title once again on The Americans. As this is a winter set show the knitwear levels are high and when I spoke to costume designer Katie Irish she explained that cable knits were one bump concealing solution. And for when the Jennings family go bowling, Elizabeth looks like she borrowed this one straight from Felicity’s closet.img_4617Bringing the Black Turtleneck Drama

Everyone needs a black turtleneck and Queen Judith Light (official title) delivers on the drama in this black turtleneck in front of a black backdrop on this season of Transparent. Yes I would buy tickets to her one-woman show (both IRL and Shelly Pfefferman’s).good-girls-revolt-1-02Cape Most Coveted

I love a cape. I love late ’60s fashion. I love knitwear. It is not surprising then that as soon as I saw Cindy’s green number in the second episode of Good Girls Revolt I wished for knitting skills. Amazon sadly hasn’t renewed this show and I’m hoping it will find a new home elsewhere; it still feels like there is a lot of story to tell and it was only just getting going. Plus I need my fashion fix from this era (especially as Masters of Sex has now also come to an end).tulipSunglasses I Need in My Life: The 2016 Edition

This year I picked up some very Gretchen sunglasses and there is another shades wearer to look to; Tulip from Preacher joined my list of TV style icons and Ruth Negga is also high up on the IRL style icons list after a run of red carpet and Vogue sartorial highs. Part of Tulip’s cool as fuck look is down to her choice of frames and her mix of feminine florals, cropped tops, cute formal wear and edgy leather makes her a costume standout in 2016.img_3965

Teen Bedroom Photo Accuracy 

N.B. This is more an interior/production design award, but definitely worthy of a mention here.

There are a couple of reasons this very small moment in Stranger Things stood out to me; in part it is down to the very teen bedroom photo collage thing that always hits those nostalgia points and the other is because they took photos and didn’t just rely on stilted promo shots. There is nothing that takes me out of something quicker than awful photoshop on a picture (see Spectre for a recent offender) or if they have just taken a still from the promotional department; it really doesn’t take long to get results like this. Although I am now wondering why Nancy has two identical sets of the same photo booth shots. Oh hey, Barb those orange framed sunglasses are cute.

TV Rewind: Gilmore Girls, Season 1, Episodes 16-21

21 Apr

Gilmore Girls, Episodes 1.16-1.21
“Star-Crossed Lovers and Other Things,” “The Breakup: Part 2”, “The Third Lorelai,” “Emily in Wonderland,” “P.S. I Love You,” & “Love, Daisies, and Troubadours”
Original Air Dates: Mar. 8, 15, 22; April 26; May 3 & 10, 2001
Gilmore Girls 1.17 Lorelai and roryEmma: We have a lot to cover as we’re going to be discussing the last six episodes of the first season of Gilmore Girls and a lot happens. So I figure it is best to kick off with the love story that I am least interested in or rather the love interest I am least interested in and that is Dean. In the first of our six episodes “Star Crossed Lovers and Other Strangers” Rory and Dean have hit the big three month anniversary. 3 months is a big deal when you’re a teen (and even as an adult) and especially if it is your first relationship – pretty much all my teen relationships fizzled at this point – and it is especially telling that Rory does not even realize they’ve hit this point. Dean goes ALL in with a fancy dinner and then a grand gesture.

First he shows her a car that he has bought for her and that he will be restoring. This is a very thoughtful gift, but also too, too much at this early stage. He leap frogs the too much when he tells Rory he loves her. Rory was not expecting this because it is too soon and then he is a complete brat when she doesn’t say it in return. This is the point where I realized that Dean really isn’t the dude for Rory because while it must suck to lay your heart out and not get the same in response don’t be a total dick in return. My notes for this point in the episode simply says “Dean is an asshole” and I am sticking with that as he goes after Rory’s relationship with her mother as a reason for why she doesn’t say “I love you” back. No Dean, it is because you are the worst. Yes I know Lorelai worries later on that she has maybe stunted Rory’s capacity to love a guy, but nope, nope, nope.

I didn’t realize how angry I still am about Dean’s petulance in this moment until I was rereading my notes. Nice turtleneck, bro.

So Dean and Rory break up and Rory goes through an expected whirlwind of emotions where she tries to not be the mopey girl even though some moping is incredibly healthy and all it takes is for Tristan to lay one on her for the tears to hit because who wouldn’t cry after that? Okay probably Paris. Other stages include a very grumpy Rory and one that sees her argue with her mom and flee to her grandparents’ house much to Lorelai’s dismay.

What the latter does is bring up all the Lorelai and Emily tensions which continue to simmer and provide Gilmore Girls with a deep, deep well of material that is one of my favorite parts of this show. But before we get to that, what say you about Dean?Gilmore Girls 1.16 Deam and RoryJulie: So, pulling off the bandage of lameness first, huh?

Oh, Dean. Dean is terrible, and I give the GG powers-that-be a lot of credit for making him kind of objectively terrible. On paper, he seems like the perfect boyfriend, the perfect gentleman. He’s kind of quiet and sweet and simple, and maybe he might be good for some other girl, but not for Our Rory. I think Dean has his own expectations of what their relationship is supposed to be. He’s all in. He’s a Real Romantic, which is supposed to come off as swoon-worthy, but really comes off as kind of try-hard and too much. Rory, to her credit, is feeling out the relationship, navigating the initial months with her first boyfriend, not putting too much pressure on the thing, but for Dean it’s true love or nothing.

I wonder if Dean was expecting more from the car than just a little making out, which, ew.

I do think Dean’s right that Rory’s relationship with her mother has influenced her outlook on boys. Her mom fell in love at age sixteen and wound up with a baby. That’s not lost on Rory. She’s a smart girl. It’s going to take a lot for her to open up (ew, no pun intended) to someone.

I always love everything with Lorelai and her mother, and the ways her mom uses these Friday dinners to her advantage are always great. There’s so much formality and procedure involved with each dinner. They always start with drinks in the living room, then advance to dinner in the dining room, and a post-dinner aperitif in the living room. The writers (and Emily Gilmore) always find ways to play with this form. (And I definitely wonder about the drunk-driving coming out of these nights. I hope everyone eats A LOT of food at dinner.)

In this episode, Emily brings in a man for her daughter. Lorelai hasn’t had a serious boyfriend in a while, and Emily wants to help (in the form of a terrible, boring date). What do you think about Lorelai’s love woes? She’s pining after Max, which, did that seem out of left-field for you? It was for me. They’d spent the past few episodes playing up her past with Christopher and teasing stuff with Luke, and then all of a sudden…Max Medina is the one she’s dreaming of. Did that ring true?Gilmore Girls 1.17 fightEmma: Dean is definitely someone who would describe himself as being a nice guy.

I get what you/Dean/Lorelai are saying about Rory’s outlook on love and I do think it is more to do with what Lorelai was like when she was 16 rather than what Lorelai is like now. Repeating her mom’s ‘mistake’ is definitely not on the getting into Harvard plan. One thing I do find interesting is unlike her mother she runs to the house in Hartford when things go to shit as it represents warmth and safety to her, whereas for Lorelai it was everything that was stifling her.

The Max stuff does come out of left field and this is not a woman who has been pining. Yeah she’s just had a crappy set up date situation but I don’t buy this sudden Max shift. I think they just remembered that they need some romantic tension and Max makes sense as an opposition to Luke. I do love that her dad is totally with her on lame this other guy is and I’m glad things have been resolved since we last saw them.

Everything Luke and Lorelai makes so much sense to me, but they are keeping at this super slow pacing and it’s not just Lorelai that gets a love interest from the past acting as a Luke barrier because Rachel is back! And Luke is surprisingly chill about it considering how angry seeing Lorelai in her hoodie made him. Like they just slide back into coupledom without a hint of tension and that I don’t buy either.

Luke holds Rachel at a distance and in a way I think he is going through the motions as he expects her to get bored and leave again. Plus he is also fine with this because he is beyond into Lorelai even if he can’t admit it at first. Lorelai for her part befriends Rachel and is also reluctant to acknowledge any kind of feelings for Luke even if it is clear to everyone else. Including Rachel.

What did you make of the return of Luke’s ex so quickly after Lorelai’s first love has also been on the scene?Gilmore Girls 1.16 Lorelai and RachelJulie: Dean is totally an “I’m a nice guy” nice guy. Exactly. And then he’d mansplain all sorts of nonsense.

Yeah…this part of season one feels like a bunch of filler, a lot of getting from A to B. Sometimes shows really do benefit from shortened seasons. That said, I wish they would’ve mentioned Max at least once in the episode prior to this one. The moment was just, like, “I’m Lorelai, I’m completely hung up on someone.” And I thought, oh, it has to be Luke or Chris. But then it was Max. I really do like Max, but I think he was shoehorned in here.

Obviously I knew we’d see Rachel again (just like I knew we’d see Chris at some point), but I thought maybe she’d make a big entrance in the finale or something. But here she is, flitting back to Stars Hollow, out of nowhere, which can’t make Luke feel too comfortable.

I some ways, she’s just a vehicle to get Luke to recognize his feelings for Lorelai, which is great. They’re adult humans who should recognize how perfect they are for each other. It’s amazing that nothing has ever happened between them before, like even accidentally.

I will say, though, that even though we know Luke and Lorelai are OTP, the show does a pretty good job of making the relationships on the way to their probable pairing seem real and natural. Luke is a hermit bachelor who needs a training woman in his life so he can be ready for Lorelai. That’s all Rachel is. She’s that and she’s a way for him to deal with his past nonsense.

Going back to Rory for a second, since we’re on the breakup episode, how about Stars Hollow’s reaction to her and Dean splitting up and then Rory kiss with Tristan?Gilmore Girls 1.17 Tristan and RoryEmma: I did jump ahead with Lorelai and Luke and while we’re on the subject of Luke I love how protective he is of Rory even if it is a bit much that he gets into a vague scrapping match with Dean. As Lorelai points out he is a grown man and Dean is a teen boy. Living in a community like this would be a lot and especially when it is someone who is as beloved as Rory is. Patty gets it when Lorelai tells her to spread the word about mentioning Dean because who wants all those comments and prying on top of feeling like shit?! Even if Rory is trying not to feel like shit. Kirk doesn’t get it because of course he doesn’t.

So the big party and I’m so glad they laid the seeds of this event in the previous episode. It is also just as ridiculous as I hoped it would be and I’m sad there was never the chance for a Gilmore Girls/Gossip Girl crossover (GG squared) as Paris versus Blair would be so much fun to watch. Madeleine (thanks to my notes I now know which one is which) has also invited Dean because he’s hot but of course the breakup has happened and so Rory takes Lane instead, which I am all for.Gilmore Girls 1.17 Lane and RoryLane happens to meet a Korean guy she actually likes and is mad at herself for being attractive to a guy her parents (she says parents but I assume she means just her mom) would approve of. She resists at first but the offer of dancing is too much to say no to. Oh and side note – while the fashion of this period is BAD, the music is much better. If Paris didn’t race out of the party at the earliest she could I have a feeling that the Rory/Tristan situation would have been very different but alas Paris hates parties and she is a very unlikely school queen bee. She’s got all that power but hates social events and I find this whole hierarchy to be fascinating.Gilmore Girls 1.17 partyBecause it has already been established that Rory always has a book with her it doesn’t come as a surprise that she find a quiet nook to read in to get away from the party. Tristan who has been having girl problems also does the same and this is where things get messy and my notes are all caps NOOOOOOOOOO for several lines. Rory cries and runs out; kissing a terrible dude reminds her of her breakup and the wallowing can commence.

In the next episode Rory apologizes for crying and suggests he take Paris out on a date. This is never going to end well and it doesn’t. I get what Rory is trying to do and I love their bonding over what Paris should wear so I guess we should be thankful Tristan led to this moment. But he’s also the reason they go back to being non-friends and I am far more upset about this than the Dean breakup.Gilmore Girls 1.21 ParisJulie: A GG/GG crossover would be amazing! There’s still time, especially since Netflix is reviving the Gilmores. Maybe Blair can stop by.

Minor spoiler (can you spoil a lack of information?) I’m on season seven now, and I still don’t know a thing about Lane’s dad. Okay, I know exactly one thing, but I don’t know what happened to him or where he is. I’m guessing we’ll never know. Unless this is something they decide to explore in the new series. Lane’s dad: Where the hell?

I love Lane’s cute Korean boyfriend, Henry, and I think it’s fitting that she would balk at dating him simply because her mother would approve. Rory may be Lorelai’s daughter, but Lane is her teenage soul sister. I think it’s pretty masterful how Lorelai and Lane are basically dealing with the same issues, but those issues manifest themselves in different ways. Their mothers both want/wanted them to fit into their particular societies — Lorelai rejected her mom’s social climbing and Lane is rejecting her mother’s cultural/religious demands. Lane is lucky to have Lorelai around, to talk to and to go to bat for her.Gilmore Girls 1.18 Rory and ParisTristan-wise, ew. He’s the worst, but good for Rory for kissing a horrible dude. She’s been too perfect up to now, so I love that she had a moment of complete stupidity. Tristan is a douche and he’s been spoken for by Paris and Rory has only been separated from Dean for a minute.

The setup between Tristan and Paris had “bad idea jeans” written all over it, but I like that we got some real Paris/Rory bonding out the situation. And, as obnoxious as Tristan was for telling Paris about him and Rory, it’s probably for the best that it came out now. Soon, both girls will hopefully be rid of Tristan.

Nestled among the whole Paris/Rory/Tristan nonsense, we met Richard’s mother. What did you think of Trix, and how much did you love her throwing Emily off her game?Gilmore Girls 1.18 Gilmore ladiesEmma: Rory was definitely trying to do good with that date set up and also relieve a bit of guilt for having smooched Tristan as she knows that Paris is way into him. The getting ready stuff was really cute and this episode also reminded me that water bras were a thing that existed at one time. What was with the early aughts?

This is a really big friendship step as they not only discuss Paris’ date/what she should wear, but also the whole Dean stuff. I am looking forward to when they get over this big Tristan hiccup.

Random observation but the fact they are studying the feudal system gave me so many flashbacks to school. Not that we had to do a project like this or come in on a Saturday (thankfully).

Ah yes the third Lorelai (who goes by the name of Trix) and I love how much it causes Emily to spiral. Her mother in law is no fan of Emily and Richard seems blissfully unaware of how shitty his mom is to his wife. Everything Emily does is not good enough and even though I adore Emily like her daughter I am enjoying seeing her being put under the same level of scrutiny as she puts everyone else under.gilmore girls 1.20 breakfastThis includes making sure she has all the gifts she has stashed away for years on display including a very ugly coat stand she regifted to Lorelai.

Trix is very particular and she also drops a huge money bombshell which causes Emily to spiral even further. The money is for Rory and it is a HUGE sum ($250,000) covering college tuition and much more. It would be surprising that Rory hasn’t met her grandmother prior to this but she lives in London and up until recently Rory and her mom have spent very little time with any extended family. Trix wants to make up for lost time and missed birthdays with this generous offer and I didn’t think Lorelai would accept such a huge fund from a relative as she has pretty much done everything by herself up until Chilton.

But she is very grateful for Trix’s offer and it makes sense to secure Rory’s academic future through this trust and if Lorelai had a point to prove to her mother with how she has brought Rory up then she has certainly done this. Emily is upset that Lorelai is more than happy to take this offer and this is linked to what this money might mean for the future of the Friday dinners. Money is how Emily got her daughter and granddaughter back in her life and if Lorelai no longer needs her for this then she fears they will stop coming by. Money means freedom; freedom to choose what to do but also freedom from spending time with them.

If Emily told Lorelai about why she is so against the trust I think Lorelai would a) understand and b) reassure her mother that they will still see them. This is where the lack of communication between the pair comes into play and it is something we see strongly in the episode that follows. Instead Lorelai calls her mother ‘petty, controlling and mean’ and my heart breaks with how at odds they can be when if they simply said how they felt then they could work through things. But then they wouldn’t be showing their ultimate WASP behavior. In the end Trix withdraws her offer and everything is back to where it was.

“Emily in Wonderland” really gets to the root of the Emily/Lorelai relationship strife and the ‘Emily won’t listen and Lorelai won’t talk’ description is super accurate. Rory’s Stars Hollow tour starts off well with Emily borrowing some sneakers as her heels won’t do for all that walking, but it turns sour when Emily sees where Lorelai lived with Rory when she was a baby opening old wounds in a fresh way. What did you make of Emily’s reaction and can they ever get over this painful moment from their past?Gilmore Girls 1.19Julie: The mother/daughter relationships, in all their permutations, are my favorite part of this show. (Also waiting for Luke and Lorelai to just kiss already.)

The Trix and Emily situation is such a fraught mother-in-law relationship. In some ways, yeah, it’s kind of great to see Emily spin her wheels with Trix, but at the same time it’s hard to watch this character, who we have a much deeper relationship with than Trix, not be able to get the upper hand at all. Trix is just as manipulative and conniving as Emily, but she has the advantage of Richard’s unrequited love. Emily, whose entire life revolves around Richard, can’t say anything for fear of upsetting him, so she just takes beating after beating.

The Rory trust fund thing is an obvious power grab, and I completely get Emily’s reaction. Trix is beating her at her own game, and it truly seems like she’s giving the money to Rory for the express purpose of annoying Emily.

Emily’s insecurity does feed right into “Emily in Wonderland,” where Emily gets a taste of life in Stars Hollow. I love her interaction with Mrs. Kim, because the two of them are fairly evenly matched, and they also play the twin roles of “overbearing mother” on this show. They are one in the same, Emily and Mrs. Kim.

Rory taking Emily to see where she grew up is heartbreaking. There’s so much there there. You can see the wheels turning for Emily. Because she wasn’t a more supportive mother to Lorelai, her granddaughter was raised in a shed. Because her relationship with her daughter was so strained, Emily missed this entire phase of her granddaughter’s life. She had no idea this was how they were living. She missed it. There’s a lot of regret and sadness there, even if Emily plays it off as appallingly disgusted.

In this episode, we also get the return of “Roon,” whose name I always thought was spelled “Rune,” probably because of Harry Potter. “Roon,” makes more sense because it’s probably short for “Rooney.” He’s notable for being the only man who can resist the charms of Lorelai Gilmore. He’s now working at the inn and living in the Lorelai’s old shed.

We also get more Luke and Rachel and what is possibly the most overt acknowledgement of Luke and Lorelai’s attraction for each other so far. What did you think of Lorelai’s advice to Luke. Were you screaming for her to just kiss him already?Gilmore Girls 1.16 Luke and LorelaiEmma: It’s crushing when Emily sees their first home as she takes this not only as a reminder of how much she missed, but it also as the physically embodiment of how terrible her relationship was with her daughter when she needed her most. All of Lorelai and Rory’s memories of this place are good; to them it isn’t a shed but their first home and a loving one at that. No matter how unhappy Lorelai was with her family, in this place she was happy. I’m sure there were terrible, fraught moments but this far away from that time the only memories that remain are the good ones. The opposite of how Emily feels when she sees it.

Emily is pretty reactionary so her answer to seeing this is giving Rory her own room at her house which is why she wants to know whether Rory likes the Backside Boys. Emily is of course clueless regarding this kinda stuff and Rory is much more into indie music over pop, but it is very sweet and she even fills the room with flowers. Lorelai thinks there must be an ulterior motive, but I actually think this one comes from a very genuine place. And it does happen to come in handy in the next episode.Gilmore Girls 1.19 new roomIt leads to another argument and this exploration of this very deep rift is one of my favorite things about this show. They aren’t just going to suddenly be fine because that is not who these characters are.

In her trip around Stars Hollows I also very much enjoyed how much Emily got on with Michel because that also made perfect sense.

It’s kinda weird that Rachel wants Lorelai to talk to Luke for her because by this point she must have already sensed something is up, but either she has and she’s ignoring it or she hasn’t and girl needs to put her camera down. And yes there was plenty of yelling at them to kiss. Just do it already. In fact I just looked at my notes and I’ve written “goddamnit you guys” at this scene.

I believe that Lorelai believes she is giving good advice because at this point she is in heavy denial about what they are to each other. I like that in general there is no animosity between Rachel and Lorelai as that would have been the easy route, but I never really considered Rachel to be someone who would stick around as she has guest arc written all over her. She’s fine, but I don’t have any other feelings about her other than that. Did she provoke a greater reaction in you?Gilmore Girls 1.19 Emily and MichelJulie: Another GG mystery for me (along with the whereabouts of Mr. Kim) is Michel’s personal life and sexuality. I think he mentions dating a woman once, but that’s it. It’s left pretty ambiguous after that, and I like the idea of Michel having this whole life beyond Stars Hollow that no one really knows about. And he and Emily are perfect for each other.

As far as Rachel goes, she barely existed for me. She was simply a vehicle for Luke and Lorelai to start considering their feelings for each other. She was obviously never going to stick around, and there was really not much all that dynamic about her, for all of Luke’s pining in the past.

Sticking with the rest of Lorelai’s romantic story, it’s Luke vs. Max for the rest of the season (Where for art thou, Christopher?). Rachel thinks Luke should open up to Lorelai about his feelings, which he doesn’t even know he has yet. Max is feeling insecure because Lorelai hasn’t told anyone about him. He wants to get married because…he wants more of a commitment from her? I guess that’s it. The whole thing moves a little fast. She doesn’t want a half-assed proposal. She wants the real deal, so Max gives her a ton of daisies in the Independence Inn.

Also happy and in love are (barf) Rory and Dean, which, really, since her other option was Tristan, is the lesser of two evils? Ugh. Rory needs some better love interests.Gilmore Girls 1.20 Paul Frank[Ed note. the above Paul Frank pajama top is the most quintessential bedwear of the early aughts and I am very jealous of this] 

Emma: Rachel is very much there to get the plot moving, which is a shame as I thought the actress did a good job with the material she had. Luke knows she isn’t going to stick around and so do we so there is no attachment there. Because Luke doesn’t seem to have strong feelings either passionate romance or passionate anger because of the way they broke up it was pretty much a non-starter.

My issue with the Max stuff is tided into what we have already discussed and that is the sudden nature of his return. They are dating again and as has been the pattern with them in the past it is complicated due to Rory, his job and timing. This all comes up while Rory is off at her grandparents’ house and Lorelai is distracted for good reasons. In the following episode they somehow go from actual dating for real this time to this semi-proposal and woah this is far too fast to be a good idea.Gilmore Girls 1.21 flowersPart of Max’s reasons come after an encounter with Luke in which he senses the vibe that everyone other than Luke and Lorelai can sense. He thinks they are exes or at least something has gone on between them, but Lorelai reassures him that they are just friends and Luke just likes to fix up her house out of the goodness of his heart. It is by this point that Luke has been forced by Rachel to admit that something is there and I was expecting a big gesture of some sort from him to put a spanner in the Max daisy works, but alas he did nothing (yet). This finale felt like it was missing the cliffhanger aspect; the classic who will Lorelai pick and even though the final scene between Lorelai and Rory was cute, it also lacked that something extra to hold you over until the next season starts three months later. Or in our case when we can stick in the next DVD.

One of the topics covered pre-proposal is the matter of if they slept with anyone while they were apart. They both did and while that has got to hurt a little on both sides, I don’t think either of them can be mad at the other for not wallowing alone. Lorelai’s hook up has a lot more weight as there is history there and Lorelai makes sure she points out this fact. This is a very weird time to propose, but Max goes for it leap frogging so many other dating steps.

With Rory her Dean feelings turn into anger; anger at her small town, at her mom, at everything and she flees to her brand new bedroom much to Emily’s delight. I like Rory and her grandparents scenes and the breakfast discussion with Rory in half pajamas/half school uniform is a lot of fun. Her argument with her mom wasn’t on the full on screaming at each other scale, but it is easy to see how Stars Hollow could feel suffocating.

Winning Dean back is very much on the agenda for some reason and this includes going to his house and inadvertently making his sister cry and stalking his place of work. Dean is definitely better than Tristan (who doesn’t even know that PJ Harvey is a woman), but yeah he is still nowhere near a Ben/Noel/Pacey or even Jordan Catalano on the lusting/dream boyfriend scale. But apparently they are also in love. Hmm.Gilmore Girls 1.21 Max, Lorelai and LukeJulie: The writers definitely gave short shrift to both Rachel and Max, the latter of whom I really do like. I think the actor is quite charming and Max has/had the potential to be an asset to Lorelai’s life. But he’s marking time, obviously. He’s not OTP, so every scene with him feels a little wasteful. Like all of Ross’s wives and girlfriends on Friends 🙂

The proposal is certainly way too soon, and comes from a place of insecurity about Luke, so that’s never a good thing. Jumping into marriage to mark one’s territory is probably not the best reason to do it.

The lack of cliffhanger thing is one of the great parts of Netflix, one season flows seamlessly into the next, which is a good thing, Gilmore-wise. The show, as you’ll discover, doesn’t follow the usual pattern of “season ends in May, next season picks up in the fall.” Oftentimes, the next season picks up right where the last one ended, and we get a few “summer” episodes before we see Rory going back to school, or whatever.

One thing I really love about Rory is that she’s the product of her mother, but she’s also willing to let herself be influenced by her grandparents as well. She doesn’t have the same history with them as Lorelai, so she’s much more open to experiencing the Hartford Gilmores’ lifestyle. She doesn’t automatically reject everything they give her. She doesn’t see them as trying to butt their way in. She just likes being with her grandparents. And I completely love her relationship with Richard. She softens him up so much.

But, yeah, Dean. He’s back. Again. And it sucks, because Dean sucks.

What did we miss?Gilmore Girls 1.18Emma: I don’t have much to add other than some general season 1 feelings and those feelings are positive. When starting a show that is this beloved it can be letdown, but Gilmore Girls lived up to those sentiments and this is a really good first season. Occasional certain storylines are dropped and then picked up out of nowhere, but that is as much down to the 20+ episode structure as anything else. The important stuff like the Gilmore ladies dynamic is super strong throughout and I’m really excited to see how this progresses. Same with Luke and kissing.

While Rory’s love interest situation is on the eh side, her lady relationships from her mom and grandmother to her friends are my fave and I hope Rory gets back in with Paris soon. The dramatic display on the steps by Paris and her minions was rather wonderful and so very high school.

I’m also excited to hear they don’t do the usual lack of summer set episodes. I’m always bummed out when pretty much every teen show/and show skips those few months of story.

I am also excited to venture further into the early aughts and see what other terrible fashion we have in store. There will be many.

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


TV Rewind: Gilmore Girls, Season 1, Episodes 12-15

17 Mar

Gilmore Girls, Episodes 1.12, 1.13,1.9, 1.14, & 1.15
“Double Date,” “Concert Interruptus”, “That Damn Donna Reed,” & “Christopher Returns”
Original Air Dates: Jan. 18, 2001; Feb. 15 & 22, 2001; and Mar. 1, 2001

Gilmore Girls 1.15 Christopher and LorelaiEmma: Major development time on Gilmore Girls and I’m jumping to the last of our four episodes this week as it’s the juiciest (although my favorite of the bunch is the Bangles featuring “Concert Interruptus”). Rory’s dad Christopher comes to town for the first time and feathers are ruffled. We’re getting more of an idea of the whole how Lorelai came to Stars Hollows and it turns out that Christopher has never been here before and the town loses their shit when he does. Considering their lack of chill when it comes to special occasions this is also not a surprise especially as the Gilmore ladies are highly regarded in this close knit community. So as soon as Christopher’s credit card is declined in the book store it was clear that Lorelai would find out from someone who is not Rory.

Christopher also causes major ripples at the other Gilmore house and not because Emily and Richard don’t like him (quite the opposite) but as a result of years of things that have been left unsaid and this perfect boiling point of unloading. Christopher’s parents Straub (what?) and Francine haven’t seen Rory in years and clearly have no desire to get to know their granddaughter or the reason why their son didn’t go to Princeton. They are super shitty to both Lorelai and Rory so I totally applaud Lorelai’s George Bush comments (his face really is too tiny for his head) as an impetuous way to get an immediate rise from them. It quickly descends here despite Emily’s best attempts to keep things WASP levels of civil, but sometimes things need to be said and this is one such occasion.

Even though she gets asked to leave the room, Rory is going to be more than aware that the shittiness is indirectly because of her, but thankfully in one of the episodes most touching scenes Emily makes sure that Rory knows that her existence is not part of the failure list. It is also important that Emily is honest about what an ass Straub (seriously this name) was being. While Emily has this lovely and honest moment with her granddaughter, Lorelai has a difficult conversation with her father.

Gilmore Girls 1.15 Ricahrd and StraubRichard has defended the honor of his family kicking out Christopher’s parents for what they have said but this doesn’t lead to a happy all the hugs moment with his daughter. Lorelai thanks him for this and he points out that she doesn’t need to be protected and what comes next hit me just as hard emotionally as the very real arguments between Lorelai and her mother. He lets her know the devastating after effect of her leaving, that Emily couldn’t get out of bed for a month and how they didn’t deserve the years of being treated like lepers.

Up to this point it’s been clear that Lorelai left because she had to, but they didn’t kick her out and this is very much a story of two sides. I can completely understand and support why she left because that environment was probably incredibly toxic especially as they encouraged the “proper procedure” of Lorelai sacrificing potential future happiness by marrying Christopher back then. But still Richard’s words have a lot of emotional weight and these scars run so deep.

So Lorelai retreats to her room and as a result of everything that has gone on and because it’s Christopher they end up sleeping with each other in a very forbidden teenage love kinda way, but with slightly less awkward. Only slightly mind. Emotional vomit everywhere.

Was Christopher what you expected? And how do you feel about this whole evening at the Gilmore residence?

Gilmore Girls 1.15 balconyJulie: Christopher!

I knew we’d be seeing him at some point, but for some reason I thought it wouldn’t be for a while. I figured the writers would exhaust everything they have, then bring in Rory’s dad somewhere around season four. But here he is, right smack dab in the middle of the first season.

I assumed that Christopher would be a huge, terrible jerk, and he’s not. He’s adorable, first of all. David Sutcliffe is so perfect looking. He’s cute and unthreatening and he and Lauren Graham look great together. They’re the picture-perfect couple. And you can kind of see why Emily would’ve been okay with the two of them marrying at sixteen. He’s got good breeding. He fits the mold.

But he’s not this slick, perfect guy either. He’s got his own issues and he’s still maturing. I’m not exactly sure why he didn’t go to Princeton (unless he just didn’t get in). I mean, Lorelai never needed him to take care of Rory. They didn’t stay together. Why didn’t he just get his education and become something other than an oft-failed businessman? That side of Christopher I just don’t get. But oh well. The important piece is that he hasn’t been around for Rory, for the most part.

This episode does such a good job of showing how deep the histories and rifts are on all sides. Chris’s parents resent Lorelai and Rory (and to some extent their son). Richard and Emily see Straub (ugh) and Francine as the kind of family they always wanted their daughter to marry into, though Chris’s parents do not feel the same way about the Gilmores (which I also love, because the Gilmores, while they see themselves as part of the upper crust, are just an insurance man and his wife. They can’t have as much money as a lot of folks in their circle).

The history between Christopher and Lorelai is great, too. These people are obviously attracted to each other, and you get the sense that they’ll always be The One for each other. It’s great and true and messy.

And Richard and Lorelai. wow. He has always come off as the bumbling and aloof father, but here we get to see how deeply Lorelai hurt him (by hurting her mother), and how much she really doesn’t know/hasn’t been close to her father.

Caught in the middle of all of it, is poor Rory, who is a complete dear.

Well, I know how you feel about Chris’s parents’ names, but how do you feel about Rory’s dad himself?

Gilmore Girls 1.13 more Lorelai bad fashionEmma: First of all I think you are so right about the Gilmores not being quite as wealthy as their friends and they seem more new money than long legacy (unless I’ve missed something). They can afford fancy vacations but only travel to Paris every other year. And always in the fall (this whole convo made me laugh so much) and while they have a place they rent on Martha’s Vineyard they really should have bought somewhere but that is serious $$$. I also did love how happy they were when a place came up even if it was due to a death and I can very much believe that these places get snapped up this quickly. They are so giddy.

With Christopher I get why Rory is so excited to see him and why Lorelai is so wary. Not only with protecting her heart but protecting Rory from her dad who seems very flaky. Which is more the reasons why he didn’t go to Princeton, but Lorelai is the perfect person for his parents to blame in this situation. I get that he’s trying and does want to be involved in Rory’s life but I was only lukewarm to him as a character and in part I blame the recent Luke flirtations for this.

I love the way Lorelai explains her feelings for Christopher as it’s such a simple and powerful thing – first love that resulted in a Rory. It’s messy as hell too and I can see why she rejects his proposal. They also do a good job of leaving the door more than open.

Gilmore Girls 1.14 Luke and LorelaiBack to Luke and between the chick escape and the painting plans he really is the lead in every Lorelai story. There is of course the initial mix up with the reason why Lorelai called him over and she is mortified that he might have thought it was something else. Mortified because she hasn’t yet confronted what might be occurring here. But everyone else can see the signs all over every flirtatious and banter filled conversation. Emily does not seem to approve either, which bummed me out as I’d hope she would be able to see beyond his diner owning status (a very good status tbh).

Sookie explains why he might have thought it was a booty call although I’m with Lorelai on this one and the phrase booty call feels very early aughts. Sookie also fills in the gaps for Lorelai after Luke loses all chill at seeing Lorelai in the hoodie he dropped off for the rummage sale. He’s not mad because it is ugly (which it is) but because it belonged to his ex and the woman who broke his heart.

In a somewhat contrived explanation Lorelai wonders why she’s never heard about Rachel with Sookie explaining it was when she was newish to town and Rory was 11. Like Rory at 11 was a handful. Anyway Stars Hollow was too small for Rachel ad Luke didn’t want to leave so end of Luke and Rachel. As with Christopher I have a feeling Rachel will come back to town at some point and probably just as Luke and Lorelai are getting closer to kissing.

I don’t mind that nothing has happened with Luke and I’m enjoying the slow build, but also I would like smooches soon. I am a complicated shipper.

How are you with this relationship? And also once again Lorelai’s dating issues are far more interesting that Rory’s and I am very much in the urgh Dean camp at the moment.

Gilmore Girls 1.14 RoryJulie: I think you touched on something here. I’m not sure if the Gilmores are new money. (I’m pretty sure at least Richard isn’t. You’ll meet his mother later.) But Emily might be? I’m on season seven already and I don’t think we know much about her background other than that she went to Smith…or Brown…?

Anyway, they kind of act like new money when they look down on other people. This has just been my experience, but when I used to teach in a very wealthy area, I found that the “old” money people were a lot more chill than the “new” money. I’m sure that’s not always the case though. I get the sense that Richard and Emily are always trying to be more upwardly mobile and the fact that Lorelai went and got knocked up and didn’t get married, killed a little bit of that dream for them. There’s a lot of restlessness in Emily and Richard, and I just think, when is enough enough? You have a great granddaughter, your daughter is happy and doing well for herself. Be proud of how well she’s done. This would solve, like, 85% of your manufactured problems.

As far as Luke goes, I call shenanigans on Lorelai not knowing that Luke was dating a Rachel. That said, I wonder how long Luke has had the diner and how long he and Lorelai have been palling around. If it has been several years already, which I’m sure it is, that is one SLOW build of a relationship. Very slow. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve yelled, “Kiss her!” at my Kindle. Maybe I’m still yelling it now in season six. I’ll never tell. 🙂

You mentioned Dean, so I guess we should go there. He’s so…meh. The whole “a woman’s place is in the house” thing doesn’t completely jibe for me, and it feels like it comes out of nowhere. It feels very manufactured for this one specific episode. Though maybe it speaks to deeper issues within their relationship. Regardless, Rory is too young to even be having this conversation with a dude and Dean is too young to be having these opinions.

Speaking of love lives, what do you think of Sookie and Jackson?

Gilmore Girls 1.12 Sookie and JacksonEmma: I definitely get what you mean regarding the status thing and I think it can vary. Sometimes new money folks are far less flashy especially if they have come from nothing, but it can also swing the other way. There is definitely this aspect of keeping up appearances and doing things the ‘right’ way so Lorelai’s journey is very against this type. It was so shitty when her job (which is a good one) is looked down upon because it’s in the service industry. At least her credit card doesn’t get declined (low blow on Christopher who was an innocent in this whole exchange, but still).

With Luke it feels very much like they’ve been doing this for a long time which I guess is one reason why there is trepidation and even a hard time at acknowledging actual feelings. But I definitely yelled “kiss him” several times. Especially when they were hiding behind the counter in such close proximity. I like that Luke is peeling away his layers by revealing things about his dad and why he has kept the diner the way it is. I also love that he is the town’s resident grumpy dude because this town really does need that.

That whole Donna Reed storyline did feel very contrived and also had me saying huh a whole lot. Rory’s dressing up all 50s (and I’m sorry Lorelai but that dress is far better than your red pants/red jacket combo – also made me think of that Felicity outfit horror) and then making a big old fuss about making dinner ended with a bit of a whimper really.

Gilmore Girls 1.12 Lorelai bad outfit Gilmore Girls 1.12 LorelaiI get that the point was Dean realising that this isn’t want he wants, but I also thought Rory was doing it to point out just how BS this unrealistic ideal is, but I didn’t really get that in the end as it seemed like she enjoyed the whole charade. I would have preferred more Lorelai and Rory replacing the dialogue while watching old episodes of The Donna Reed Show. It’s cool that Rory found out about Donna Reed’s behind the scenes work on her show, but really shit that it was uncredited. Because the 1950s/1960s).

Also choosing salad (especially a salad that looks THIS terrible) over pizza is a sign that Dean is not the dude for Rory.Gilmore Girls 1.14 shit saladDean also has terrible friends and even if Todd is someone Dean hangs out with because of school. I will excuse Lane’s terrible taste in dudes here because he does have a Travis from Clueless vibe in his look even if he is the most boring guy when he starts talking. As with the pizza/salad thing I also find it hard to trust someone who has no opinions about music. I do love that Lane has all the opinions about music and a CD collection to rival my own even if I thankfully didn’t have to hide mine under the floorboards. Lane is great and deserves way better. I find the stuff with her mom and how it conflicts with Rory’s relationship with her mother to be done in an interesting way.

Mrs Kim could easily be this stereotypical strict parent and it certainly walks a fine line, but there is more to her than fearmongering and I found her conversation with Lorelai to be rather sympathetic. She’s just being the overprotective mom and really both Lorelai and Mrs Kim want the same for their children, they’re just coming at it from very different experiences. I also appreciate the mom code and Lorelai’s insistence at sticking to it. And of course there is no way Lane was ever going to that concert.

Ah yes so Sookie and Jackson are adorable even if I still want to burn his denim dungarees. The double date with Rune is fun to watch because Rune is the utter worst and is so incredibly rude about the incredible gorgeous and perfectly tall Lorelai Gilmore. Thankfully Jackson picks Sookie over his terrible cousin and these two are very much ON. It’s cute and relatively drama free right now.

We’ve covered the guys, now what did you make of the potential Paris/Rory friendship?

Gilmore Girls 1.13 Rory and ParisJulie: I agree about Mrs. Kim, and sometimes I do wonder if she veers into stereotype territory. I guess I don’t find it that problematic, because she is a complete character in a lot of ways. She’s just really, really strict, and I do enjoy the specific ways she strict — with diet and the whole Seventh Day Adventist religion (which we in the US recently got an education on thanks to Dr. Ben Carson).

I do like Lorelai’s “relationship” with Mrs. Kim. It must have been difficult for Lorelai to make parent friends while Rory was growing up. When my son started school, I was one of the “young” parents and I was in my mid-thirties by that time. When Rory was starting kindergarten, Lorelai was only twenty-one. I do love that she takes the parenting code seriously, and that she respects Mrs. Kim’s authority over her daughter’s wishes even if she doesn’t agree with Mrs. Kim’s parenting (and sees how it can backfire, based on her own experience as a teenager).

I wonder where Lane’s dad is. I assume he’s dead, but it’s never stated (that I remember). Why isn’t Mrs. Kim out dating? I’d love to see that episode. I’d love to see her on a date with Rune.

Rune is terrible, also what is that name? We get Straub and Rune in these four episodes. It was funny to see one man not charmed by Lorelai. I’m assuming she doesn’t get that reaction a lot.

I like Sookie and Jackson together and I’m glad the writers didn’t drag this romance out forever, like they’re doing with Lorelai and Luke. We need at least one couple who is happy and in a real relationship. Rory and Dean can’t be the only ones!

As far as Paris and Rory go, I love them. I love Paris. She’s the best and the worst. Rory is good for her and Paris is good for Rory. They provide each other with great competition, and they’re both at the same level socially. Their other Chilton friends, whose names I can’t remember offhand, are fun and cool and pretty nice to Rory, but they’re way out of her league. And I don’t think Rory even wants to be in their league. Nor does Paris.

In some ways, at least in these early episodes, I think Paris is the great love of Rory’s life. What say you?

Gilmore Girls 1.13 schoolEmma: I think if they didn’t have these moments with Lorelai then Mrs Kim would be a lot more of an issue in how they’ve written her and as you mention she is a fully realized character and not just someone who is there to yell at Lane.

Like you I love Paris and Rory and even though you have seen further I am also willing to say that Paris is the great love of Rory’s life especially as the start of their relationship bears all the hallmarks of a classic Harry/Sally antagonistic streak. Paris is still experiencing a bit of a shitty home life because of the divorce and I suspect because her mother is terrible. When pondering what her mom would do if she had gone off in the city she posited that her mother would send someone to come get her rather than do it herself. Lorelai is of course a very hands on mother and this whole experience is incredibly illuminating for Paris and she calls this the best night of her life and I completely believe her.

Instead of mocking Rory and Lorelai for their home or the fact that Lorelai was 16 when she had Rory, Louise and Madeline (I now know their names but can’t tell you which one is which) instead think Lorelai is the coolest. Even when she comes and drags them out of Brandon Roth’s party they still seem to think she is pretty cool and I was worried they would throw back Lorelai’s own wild teen days in her face. I am glad they did not.

I also really liked the fact that Lorelai saw this as an opportunity for Rory to make friends out of her frenemies with pizza, Pop Tart platters (is this show sponsored by Pop Tarts?) and a trip to New York. Instant cool mom hall of fame.

Also I am still in shock that the actual Bangles played because I just assumed we would see them go into the concert and then the after. But hey revivals are big business after all.

This is the point where Paris is now seeing Rory as someone who isn’t trying to steal her clever girl crown or the guy she is crushing on and Paris you can do SO much better than Tristan. But I also get why she likes him because history is important and so was that kiss clearly (even if she knows it was for a dare and my heart breaks for Paris even more at this). Paris ends up splitting the debate portion with Rory and this is a big deal and sign that they are now friends. This is the Rory relationship I am looking forward to seeing more of. So much more than any of those boys she will end up dating.

Anything else you would like to add?

Gilmore Girls 1.13 Pop Tart PlatterJulie: Everyone needs to STOP with Tristan. He’s worthless. Paris would be so bored by him after five minutes.

Regarding the Pop Tarts, it’s great that the show acknowledges how ridiculous it is that Rory and Lorelai eat all that garbage, but still maintain their figures (and their complexions, and their teeth). It’s completely implausible, though. Those ladies have terrible diets.

The show does a great job of illustrating how Lorelai’s parenting has been affected by her own teenage years. She knows that the Mrs. Kim tactic doesn’t work. She knows she has to let Rory make mistakes sometimes, but I love that she did stop the girls from hanging out with Superman. She’s kind of the perfect mom, really. Tough, but fair. And fun.

But those low-rise, boot cut jeans, though.Gilmore Girls 1.14 pizza and saladEmma: The clothes are so bad and I can’t believe we all wore stuff like this and didn’t realize. I think Rory gets off a little easier, but oh boy most of Lorelai’s outfits give me so many horror filled flashbacks. The cut and style is just so eh and don’t get me started on her silk shirts.

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



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