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Tag Archives: Felicity

‘Felicity’ Reunion Interview is an Off-the-Rails Delight

19 Jun

At the ATX TV Festival there was a big Felicity reunion panel. That discussion is not available yet (but will be), in the meantime, Today has gifted us with this extended cast interview, which took place before the panel. It is a wonderful mess that falls apart many times, in the best possible way.

Scott Speedman delivers some very Ben like moments and the chemistry between the actors is evident. The dynamics between the IRL actors very much reads like a lot of their onscreen versions way back when on The WB. The main difference here is that Amanda Foreman never had it in for Keri Russell.

I was late to this show (you can find all those conversations over at This Was TV and here at TV Ate My Wardrobe), but as they note during this conversation there is a reason why Felicity resonates to viewers old and new.

“Also I was mumbling and whispering” might be my favorite Scott Speedman moment since he called any number of other characters dicks on Felicity. As expected there is hair chat, including Amy Jo Johnson asking Keri Russell about her curls.

This interview is exactly what I needed to see today.

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The Americans 6.02 “Tchaikovsky” Review: The Dark Parts

5 Apr

Elizabeth Jennings has a lot on her plate. Not only is she running all the operations alone, when she used to have a partner to share the load, but now she is also being taught how to draw. This is of course part of a very important operation, but Elizabeth could end up exploring a part of her psyche that could be enlightening. But only if she lets it.

Right now she doesn’t get why someone would dedicate their life to something she sees as unimportant, but being told to draw what’s dark is pretty much what she does every day. Her darkness isn’t the mug before her, but the life she lived for all of her adult life. Erica explains that drawing is about looking at what is light and dark, but Elizabeth has spent so long in the moral grey area her eye isn’t trained in this way.The world Elizabeth works in is far from black and white, no matter how much Reagan tried to paint the Soviets as the Evil Empire. A point that Elizabeth reinforces when Paige mentions some light reading she has been doing on the tactics of spies. Paige is still very much in the dark about some of the things her parents have done in the name of the cause; when she asks outright whether operatives use sex as tool to get information her mother lies. The truth would be devastating because as we saw from last week’s opening montage Elizabeth is still very much using this tactic. Not to mention the many men and women her parents have seduced in the name of Mother Russia including the one that ended up as a wife and the one that ended up in a suitcase.

Dancing around the subject Elizabeth explains that those close relationships with sources could turn into something else. This conversation also reinforces how cut off Elizabeth is from everyone else; there is no water cooler in the spy biz. Or at least not in the version Elizabeth lives.

Words like monster and evil have been applied to Elizabeth in the past, most notably in the incredible season three episode “Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?” when she forced an old lady to kill herself (I watched this episode again recently and Lois Smith is devastatingly good in her condemnation of Elizabeth’s justifications). Here she tells her daughter that things aren’t black and white, the world is complicated.But the weight of doing this alone is getting to Elizabeth. She lies back on Claudia’s couch talking to her as if this is therapy appointment—Matthew Rhys directed this episode and the intimacy of these moments is extraordinary—and when Paige comes in things switch from work chat to another Russian history lesson.

Elizabeth might scoff at artists, but she appreciates classical music. She took Paige to see The Nutcracker and Claudia explains that Tchaikovsky was all she could listen to after the war. It all sounds very melancholic to this classical music novice’s ear, but each woman seems to take something different from this moment. I really love what is going on with the three generations of women this season. These moments are really effective. We have come a long way since Elizabeth beat the shit out of Claudia; now Elizabeth is asking Claudia to continue with Paige if anything happens to her. This is a disturbing conversation when you think about her relationship with Philip because he has been entirely cut out of this huge part of this life.

Considering how many risks Elizabeth is taking that now seems more likely than ever. Whether it is switching out wigs/outfits within the State Department walls or wildly underestimating how much General Rennhull wants to help out the enemy. Formally a Colonel, who first appeared in the season one finale, “The Colonel” (btw I am so glad I rewatched all of The Americans before this final outing), Rennhull believed he was sharing intel for the greater good. It was to stop a crazy arms race that was more a sci-op than technology that would be possible in this period. But it spun out of control (as things do on this show) and he ended up killing someone to save his skin. It also shows that in this world, anyone can come back. No matter how long ago they were involved. It isn’t an easy life to escape no matter how much you try. Just ask Philip and Oleg.

Elizabeth uses this knowledge as leverage to get a lithium based radiation censor—for the Dead Hand—but what she doesn’t factor in is Rennhull’s state of mind. He would rather kill her than go to jail or betray his country again. The climatic moments in the park has Elizabeth using her kids as a way to stall, to get sympathy and after a brief tussle, Rennhull shoots himself covering Elizabeth’s face in his blood. It is quite the striking image, one that Paige sees as she runs over to make sure her mom is okay. Just another day at the spying office. Of course this isn’t the first time Paige has witness the aftermath of a violent act, but it isn’t getting any easier. And I don’t think Paige is ready for Disposing of a Body 101. After all, it was meant to be better for Paige in this line of work. Not the shit Elizabeth has been through. Getting a bloodier version of Dustin Hoffman in Straw Dogs vibe from this shot. Again, Matthew Rhys did an incredible job behind the camera as well as in front.

As Elizabeth juggles her care work (and art classes) where she offers her euthanasia services—while lying about how effective morphine can be—and the various other multi-wig requiring ops, Philip is having some money woes at the travel agency. Not so much life and death, but Philip is learning the price of expanding the business too much. Capitalism at its finest. A call to a very relaxed and happy sounding Henry has his son noting how forlorn his dad sounds—see Henry is perceptive. But with the Oleg thing hanging over his head it isn’t surprising to see that very familiar clenched jaw.In terms of Philip/Elizabeth interactions it follows the same pattern as last week, but without the fight at the end. She comes down for breakfast, which is a cigarette outside and later on they have a stilted conversation (also while she is smoking). She shares the vaguest of information with him about Paige; it is heartbreaking to see just how much she is keeping from him. This is worse than when they were screaming at each other about whether to tell Paige in season three. They are shells of themselves with each other and you can feel the ache emanating from them both. Philip’s different perspective is why they were so effective as a team, he took the time to think rather than act on a duty bound impulse. Without this Elizabeth ends up in a park at night with blood all over her face. Just how long will it be before he gets pulled back in? Her impulsiveness is a strength, but it can also be a near deadly weakness.

The Jennings aren’t experiencing marital strife per se, more like marital emptiness. Maybe they could do with the not so stellar marriage advice from Stan. Stan is mostly working homicide, but Sofia and Gennadi—the Russian couple from last season—are experiencing relationship woes that could impact a long running operation. Gennadi is a courier and we get to see his operation play out with another excellent music choice; “Slippery People” by Talking Heads. How to x-ray a diplomatic pouch while undetected is hard

And just like Philip, Stan seems reluctant to be drawn into his old life. But the return of Oleg certainly causes some interest.

The Felicity LinkFelicity could teach Elizabeth a lot about art. I don’t think Elizabeth would enjoy it very much. Felicity could also give Elizabeth some curly hair tips for her Stephanie wig.

Teens in ’80s Jeans The ’80s jeans continue to be amazing. Particularly the ones they give Holly Taylor and Keidrich Sellati to wear.

Fake Teeth

When I spoke to costume designer Katie Irish, one of the things she mentioned was the fake teeth that everyone loves, but rarely get used because the actors can’t really speak in them. Well, they made an appearance in “Tchaikovsky” in one of the many new Elizabeth disguises.

Smoking Cardigan UpdateElizabeth has more than one. We will continue to update the smoking cardigan collection as hey come. There’s a lot of walls between Philip and Elizabeth right now.

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?

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

[Source]

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).

Update!

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.

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