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Tag Archives: Freaks and Geeks

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.

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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

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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.

Busy Philipps is My Friend: The Instagram Story Impact

28 Sep

The reason I started watching Instagram Stories was because of Busy Philipps. The reason I started doing my own Instagram Stories was because of Busy Philipps. And now Busy is getting the New Yorker ‘Persons of Interest’ treatment. Yes, I found out about this on Instagram.

Social media allows you to carefully curate what you want the world to see; there are aspirational influencer elements of brand building and giving a sneak peek into the lives of the rich and the famous mixed in with seeing a friend’s walk to work. Up to 15-second clips that last only 24-hours and can tell you absolutely nothing about what is really going on. And the amount of time you can spend watching and skipping through these videos/photos and Boomerangs (which I mostly despise, despite doing some on the odd occasion) can feel infinite. Just don’t hit the ‘Watch All’ option.

Snapchat did it first, but I found it mostly impenetrable and this is the first time an app has made me feel old. I downloaded and deleted in the space of a day.

The above photo was chosen after I came across this tweet, which is definitely on brand.

I was also always going to be susceptible to certain celebs using this format and while January Jones is still queen of Insta comments and captions, Busy had my heart in an instant with her almost daily updates. There’s the “Hey guys” greeting that adds an extra level of familiarity and because of where they take place there is a certain level of intimacy; in her bedroom, car, kitchen, while walking down the street, working out, in a restaurant.

The “Just Like Us” vibe isn’t restricted to location and the way Busy talks about her anxiety, frustrations, her skin—I too am a picker—and career ups and downs, the shit that is going on in the world and eating habits is also #highlyrelatable. See also the way she talks about the TV she watches including old reruns of Friends.

But the joy of Busy’s Stories also comes from getting access to places we are not so likely to experience; the bathroom at an award show, working on a movie set or making a music video. When else am I going to hear Michelle Williams jokingly swear after losing out on the Oscar to Viola Davis? The familiar is tangled up in the glamorous and while I have never been to the Golden Globes, I have been locked out of my house in the rain after a night out.

Busy is incredibly popular on Instagram for a lot of the reasons and if this is the 15-second equivalent to a sitcom then there is one regular guest star who I am always thrilled to see. This connection goes back almost twenty years—yeah now I really feel old—and the occasional appearance by Busy’s bestie, Michelle Williams, is an instant nostalgia trip that also points to how some relationships in Hollywood are forever.

I’ve written at length about hair influences and how much I heart this power couple and the pair couldn’t be more different when it comes to their social media habits. For starters, Michelle Williams doesn’t partake and even before personal tragedy, Williams came across as guarded. These appearances lack any kind of pretense; whether during award season or hanging out at a very Dawson’s Creek location, as they reminisce about the actors Williams kissed on the show. Sometimes actors get a little precious about where they got their start and thankfully there is no such BS here. Instead it is tales of smooching.

Between Busy at Lekfit and Gina Rodriguez’s pull up bar—another Stories fave—there is also a better living kind of motivation. Not that I have started either, but I have bought some workout clothes so edging ever so closer to this. I am nothing if not prepared when it comes to having the right outfit.

Plus there are these kind of top notch observations that you can expect as TV costuming intersects with my Insta viewing habits.

And while experiencing my own existential and career related woes there is something comforting and motivating about Busy’s own musings on these subjects. Also seeing her procrastinating when it comes to writing is perhaps the most relatable. She says while picking up her phone to see what is going on elsewhere.

You know, Kim Kelly is my friend and so is Busy.* And now I’m going to go rewatch some Freaks and Geeks and contemplate the pros and cons of buying a mini-trampoline.

*This sounds far creepier than intended

Michelle Williams and Busy Philipps Friendship Appreciation Post (Part 2)

12 Dec

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about IRL besties Michelle Williams and Busy Philipps with an appreciation post which has been years in the making. This award season is really delivering on coverage of this friendship and Michelle Williams continues to bring the best date to events like these.

The 2016 Critics’ Choice Awards followed this pattern and because Busy Philipps is such a prolific Instagrammer this means we also get some A+ behind the scenes action including their preferred paired shot (see below) and an Insta story, which will sadly soon disappear. The latter includes the toilet shot, sushi and Michelle Williams re-piercing Philipps’ ear post awards.michelle-williams-and-busy-philipps

They both look great here in two very different takes of the big floral trend of the evening with Michelle Williams in Louis Vuitton (of course) and Busy Philipps in a striking red Martha Medeiros gown.

 

Giving great selfie bathroom pose and they look cool as fuck. Busy’s pink lipstick really pops here too.

m-and-bBut I think this is my favorite shot of them from the red carpet.

LINDSAY AND KIM FOREVER.

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In bonus reunion news and this caption is giving me a lot of feelings. Now I want to go rewatch “Kim Kelly is My Friend.”

 

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set

20 Apr

Lots of returning shows, endings, beginnings and other pivotal TV moments captured on Instagram this week. With a dash of Coachella, style highs and other on (and off) set shenanigans.

R U WATCHING!!?? #UnbreakableKimmySchmidt #netflix 😻

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The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back and unlike Daredevil S2 I haven’t stalled at the halfway mark (I’ll get back to Daredevil, but there are just so many other shows taking priority right now). Kimmy starts off on the patchy side as one early plot doesn’t quite stick the landing, but the jokes are stacked and so wonderfully random at times. I am still thinking about the Rob Kardashian sock designer reference. Kimmy’s style has given me lots of inspiration for spring and Anna Camp is an A+ guest star choice.

He's baaaaaack(ish). #unbreakablekimmyschmidt #purvis

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And while we’re on the subject of amazing Kimmy Schmidt guest stars; I yelled WHAT?! so loud at my screen that I had to rewind the scene. Everything about this moment from the deconstruction of Dawson’s Creek to that haircut and costume is perfect.

 

Season 5 of Girls has been a triumph from Marnie’s wedding to Marnie’s one night adventure all the way to the two-part finale which got me misty eyed on several occasions. One surprise this season was how much they leaned into the Jessa/Adam pairing much to my delight and here Adam Driver definitely has his fighting face at the ready.

The beginning of the end

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Where one thing ends, another begins and while this week marked the end of season 5 for us as the audience, the Girls team started production on season 6 with their first table read.

We're coming to find you.. April 24th! #gotseason6 #behindthescenes #iainglen

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Game of Thrones returns this week and it is a testament to the HBO promo department that even after last year’s mostly disappointing season I am so hyped for Sunday. Michiel Huisman posting this very vacation looking snap also helps.

TONIGHT ON NBC @latenightseth

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Sticking with the GoT theme and Maisie Williams’ collar and lipstick game is strong.

Just a normal family #janethevirgin

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From the adorable on the Jane the Virgin set.

 

To the very surreal and slightly creepy (depending on how you feel about clowns).

 

While we’re on the subject of creepy here are some of the alternate masks for new clone M.K. on Orphan Black and the new season kicked off on a high. I also wrote an essay about Orphan BlackThe Americans and identity; I would love you to read it.

 

There has been a lot of Coachella on Instagram this week and Amandla Stenberg is avoiding all the fashion cliches of this festival looking cool as fuck in this very 90s look. Not a choker or flower crown in sight. And this could easily be a new print ad for Calvin Klein; it is that good.

 

Aya Cash and Kether Donohue’s version of Coachella is much more my speed.

 

Looking like the back of a gown on Say Yes to the Dress with Aaron Tveit on a photo shoot.

Clarence & Virginia ❤️ #confirmation #hbo #kerrywashington #wendellpierce #rickfumiyama

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Alison Wright got to wear a wig on TV this week; nope Martha hasn’t gone undercover and instead this is for the HBO movie Confirmation. Here is Wright with co-star Wendell Pierce.

 

Another costume stunner from Salvador Perez on The Mindy Project.

 

This is all very exciting and I am so ready for season 2 of UnREAL.

 

Busy Philipps giving me so many Freaks and Geeks related feelings. The instant I see that blue coat it makes me so very happy. The caption here is also excellent.

 

While I’m dealing with feelings, here seems like a good place to end this week.

Behind the Insta-Scenes: Photos from the Set

1 Apr

Mad Men returns this weekend and even though the show has been wrapped for sometime there’s a couple of treats from costume designer Janie Bryant and all round Mad Men queen Kiernan Shipka. Plus some cancellation sadness mixed in with show renewals and a tee I definitely need in my life.

 

The Variety Emmy Studio was a stylish affair and a very happy one for some reunited actors including Masters of Sex duo Lizzy Caplan and Allison Janney. This photo looks like the happiest place in the world.

The last season of Mad Men starts 1 week from today.

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Kiernan Shipka has posted a bunch of old Mad Men photos to celebrate its return this weekend; this is both wonderful/super cute and also inadvertently makes me feel ancient. The adorable wins out over the age thing.

 

I love seeing sketch to screen shots and Janie Bryant’s work on Mad Men is always exquisite. Looking forward to all the costuming treats from the final episodes.

Caught in the ACT! That devil Vinny K! #photobombing with @peterhyozell

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Vincent Kartheiser showing off some excellent photobomb skills at the Mad Men Black & Red Ball. 

 

The Looking cancellation sadness is still very strong and I don’t think this photo is helping much there.

 

Making things a little better is Lennon Parham’s Playing House season 2 table read offering.

 

Gillian Jacobs has gone all Three’s Company and she’s making it work.

 

Not everyone gets to do their homework in front of giant Lenin mural. The perks of working on The Americans (which also got renewed this week!).

 

Thanks Busy Philipps for making me aware of this Freaks and Geeks t-shirt and Passive Juice Motel.

Kim Kelly is My Friend: Costuming Repeats on Freaks and Geeks

8 Apr

There are high school shows like Gossip Girl which showcase an endless stream of different costumes each episode as characters barely repeat an outfit. The world of Blair Waldorf and Serena van der Woodsen is one where new clothes are at their disposal and part of Gossip Girl’s charm (which it did possess at one point) revolved around what these characters would be wearing each week. The characters on Freaks and Geeks are not interested in high fashion; one of the points of accuracy is the costuming repeats and despite the lack of McKinley High uniform certain clothes are worn daily.

With Lindsay and Kim it’s all about their coats; Lindsay changes her look and starts wearing her dad’s old army jacket, whereas Kim obtained her signature item with an elaborate price ticket scam (it only cost her $10). With all that effort it’s no wonder Kim wears it all of the time.

F&G ep 10 Kim and LindsayLindsay and Kim shouldn’t be friends on paper and it starts off in a hostile place as Kim thinks Lindsay is a phony. Lindsay’s drastic new look in the pilot – drastic only to those around her as we don’t get to see ‘old Lindsay’ until mid-way through the series – is part of that assumption.

F&G ep 11 Lindsay change of clothesHere’s snapshot of how Lindsay dressed pre-army jacket and existential crisis; a look she briefly returns to in “Looks and Books.”

Freaks and Geeks 1.01Kim is all about a blue jackets with stripes as you can see in this shot from the pilot and this is long before one of the great friendships of our time. Lindsay is already “dressing so weird” as Neal so delicately puts it.

F&G ep 14 Kim and LindsayDespite their very different backgrounds (showcased in the excellent and heartbreaking “Kim Kelly is my Friend“) and Lindsay’s position of privilege there’s very little that sets them apart in the wardrobe stakes. They both wear a variety of the standard jeans and t-shirt look; plaid shirts and awful shell chokers are thrown in for good measure.

What this is a celebration of Lindsay and Kim’s staple wardrobe pieces showing that character consistency in costume design is just as valuable as variety and in the gallery below you can see a snapshot of the evolution of this friendship and the faithful jackets that were there for each step of the way.

 

Summer Rewind: The Comeback Episodes 10-13

24 Mar

Big things are maybe happening with The Comeback and there’s a chance Valerie Cherish may grace our screens once again. The timing of this announcement is pretty perfect as we’ve finally finished our “Summer Rewind.” That majority of this discussion with Kerensa Cadenas took place long before this announcement and it’s something we only address at the end. We’re both pretty excited about this possible return as we’ve become pretty attached to this character. We’re looking at the final four episodes; “Valerie Gets a Magazine Cover,” “Valerie Stands Out on the Red Carpet,” “Valerie Shines Under Stress” and “Valerie Does Another Classic Leno.” For more from our Summer Rewind head here.

The Comeback ep 10 bathEmma: So it’s been a few months since we last talked about The Comeback as various other projects/moving house/all the TV that is on has got in the way but we’re finally back to talk about the last four episodes of The Comeback. I’m pretty devastated that unlike Valerie’s own reality show, the actual Comeback didn’t get a second season and I completely understand why it is put alongside Freaks and Geeks and My So-Called Life as the one season wonders we wish there was more of.

In the final four episodes Valerie’s long standing battle with Paulie G comes to a vomit filled head (did not see that coming), her reality show premieres, the cast head to the People’s Choice Awards, Valerie gets a magazine cover and a Scandalous publicist. One thing I want to note is how each episode title is pretty much the Valerie version of what happens – “Valerie Saves the Show,” “Valerie Demands Dignity,” “Valerie Stands Out on the Red Carpet,” “Valerie Shines Under Stress” – Valerie tends to ignore negative aspects and tries to make the best out of a situation. We see this time and time again throughout The Comeback and instead of making things better, the opposite occurs. This is why her actual reality show is such a hot mess and a hit.

The first of our four episodes is all about Hollywood/celebrity fakery when her new publicist Billy (Scandal star and long time Lisa Kudrow producing partner Dan Bucatinsky) gets her the cover of “Be Yoga.” It’s not Redbook like Valerie wants, but it’s a step and the only issue is Valerie doesn’t really do yoga no matter how much she says she does. Thanks to Mark’s painkiller truth bombs Valerie has to keep correcting him on camera. Drugged up Mark is wonderful and I really like his character now after being so unsure for the first half of the season. He’s pretty genuine which is unusual in the world of reality TV and he’s not trying to be someone that he isn’t. In this episode he is even more blasé thanks to the painkillers and it makes Valerie’s sudden interest in yoga more transparent.

Turning the gym into a place of sanctuary involves a whole lot of remodeling which costs a fortune and this also feels like the show is passing judgment on the ridiculous amount of money people will spend on tranquility. It is a fad after all and after this magazine shoot how much time will Valerie spend with a $12000 Buddha?

Of course Valerie is doing this as a reaction to Juna’s very Rolling Stone Rolling Stone cover, the mock up looks like an actual issue and they’ve perfectly captured what kind of wet t-shirt image they would use for someone like Juna. And there’s a terrible pun to boot “Got Millken?” Valerie’s been saving all of Juna’s press clippings and this is part supportive co-star and part wish fulfillment. Hollywood’s such a breeding ground for competitiveness and longing, particularly when it comes to who is in demand that Valerie’s actions probably aren’t all that uncommon when there is someone who is considered the hot new thing versus someone who is in the second half of their career and it’s probably really hard to maintain a healthy, balanced attitude towards these things. This is why they need yoga and this also turns into a Juna thing as she’s invited along to Valerie’s yoga session. Juna of course ends up in US Weekly’s Stars They’re Just Like Us feature – this is my favorite part of this magazine because of how damn ridiculous it is. Valerie isn’t included and so her shining moment gets usurped by the younger star once again.

Valerie brings in a poster of when she posed in a barely done up shirt, super cleav and undone jeans from her It days and I’m glad that it didn’t come across as this desperate attempt to hold onto her youth. I think she just wanted to show that she is more than just a frumpy tracksuit. What did you think of this scene and particularly Tom and Paulie G’s reactions to it?

The Comeback ep 10 Rolling StoneKerensa: I really like the relationship between Valerie and Juna–while it does have those undertones of Valerie being jealous of Juna’s newly minted “it” girl status (I wonder if the show has got a second season if they would have explored this) it does seem based in a pretty genuine place.

I think that Valerie bringing in her poster to the set kinda straddles the line of that. She looks great in the picture (although I loved the line about her hair being 90s–when it looks exactly the same) and Tom and Paulie G’s reactions were pretty priceless. I thought Paulie G’s was creepy and condescending seeming per usual. I can’t with him, especially in these last episode. Holy crap.

What did you think about this scene?

The Comeback ep 10 posterEmma: The Juna/Valerie dynamic is one of my favorites on The Comeback as it really wasn’t what I expected, this notion applies to a lot of this show. I’m not sure if Malin Akerman’s work on Trophy Wife has influenced my feelings (because I love that show), but I’ve really grown to love Juna and all her naïveté. She could have been the bitch of the show and her super sweet persona feels pretty genuine. I’m really sad that we won’t get to see if success and fame would change her, from the looks of things I’d say probably not and she’s always been very supportive and thankful for Valerie’s presence.

It’s the writers after all that play the role of mean girl and their reaction to Valerie’s poster is typical of how they have been in every other way – Tom is sheepish and Paulie G is repulsive and yet he can’t quite bring himself to admit that he finds Valerie attractive. Paulie G has consistently used silence as a way to put her down.

After watching the penultimate episode I said on Twitter that Paulie G would feature on a most despised list and his systematic bullying has been the hardest aspect of this show to watch. When Valerie finally loses it and punches him in the stomach I definitely cheered, even when it was followed by the double vomit comet. I mean this also becomes her reality show defining moment even if it’s for the wrong reasons.

We’ve got a lot to talk about when it comes to these writers and especially Paulie G, what do you think they were intending to say with Paulie’s nice guy routine in his one on one?

The Comeback ep 11 JunaKerensa: I agree with you on everything about Juna and Trophy Wife which I love so much. It was really great that Juna’s character didn’t fall into the stereotype that it very well could have.

I cheered so loudly with the punch scene as well. It was just SO satisfying to see Valerie stand up for herself against him after everything she’s taken from him.

Honestly, with Paulie G’s sudden “nice guy” transformation in his one on one, I didn’t believe it for a second. My first thought was that he got paid to say that or threatened/told that the Room and Bored ratings would suffer–pretty much anything along those lines. While we’ve been aware that Valerie’s show would be spun into something unfavorable towards her, it sucked to see her witness it and Paulie G’s sudden respect for Valerie really was another double vomit punch in the gut. What did you think?

The Comeback ep 12 cupcakeEmma: I just hope Trophy Wife doesn’t go the way of The Comeback with one season only.

That’s a really great way to describe how Paulie G’s kind words felt and it highlights how these testimonials are the most fake aspect of reality shows.

As soon as Jane returned from doing Paulie G’s interview it was obvious that something was up and one aspect we haven’t discussed too much is the role of Jane and this final episode shows that as a producer Jane is here to interfere when it helps the narrative like asking Valerie to start a sentence with “I feel” but she also withholds information as she doesn’t tell Valerie that Paulie G was nice about her. This is why Jane prentends she’s sick for Valerie’s viewing party as she’s aware of all the behind the scenes aspects, no she didn’t edit the piece but she feels complicit.

For a brief moment I thought Jane was in cahoots with Paulie G, especially when she wouldn’t let her in her apartment, but then I remembered that Jane has been just as repulsed by Paulie G as we have been. The relationship between producer and reality star is a complicated one I’m sure and of course the timeouts that Valerie implemented are timeouts on her end only. I think Jane probably thought Valerie was an idiot at first, but she’s definitely grown to like her. It’s little things like Valerie giving her the gift bag she got at the People’s Choice awards (how I would love an wards gift bag) or how Jane tears up as she hears Valerie’s story about her scoliosis – I definitely want to talk more about this in relation to Valerie.

Despite being screamed at by Valerie and Mark, Jane looks really happy for Valerie at the end of the final episode and if there had been a second season *sob* I would have liked to see them explore Jane and her relationship as producer with Valerie. What do you think of the whole Jane aspect?

Also have you seen any of Kroll Show? PubLIZity nails everything about these kinds of reality shows.

The Comeback ep 13 Valerie and JaneKerensa: I love Kroll Show and PubLIZity is the best! Jenny Slate should be in everything! And it really does.

I think the relationship between Jane and Valerie is really interesting. And it became apparent that they bonded in small ways throughout the show. The first moment of that to me was when Valerie got her that gift bag from the People’s Choice Awards. I never thought that Jane was in cahoots with Paulie G. because she obviously hated him so much too. So I do think Valerie’s betrayal felt kinda justified especially because Jane disappeared because she had seen the final cut and felt ashamed. But I know Valerie plays herself off as being naive, but I mean how could she not have expected the show to turn out like that? I know that we are jaded with the amount of reality television we’ve both seen and by now we are aware of the editing tricks used, but did Valerie really think that it was going to portray her in a positive light?

And then when she kinda at the end of the show seems to accept this new public persona of Valerie–I wonder if the second season would have explored her doing the kinds of things she refused to do in this season? Would have it turned Valerie into a monster? I do hope that Jane would have stayed on in the second season to explore that relationship between the two of them because it became SO apparent how much Valerie ended up relying on her especially when the creepy mic guy showed up again.

The Comeback poster ep 12Emma: Now I want to take a look at the evolution between reality shows first and second seasons – how they evolve because of what the audience responded to in the first season. I mean it goes for scripted shows as well – the first season is written in a bubble of sorts as it hasn’t been seen by anyone so at that point no one knows what people will like/dislike. I mean Girls is a prime example as cable shows tend to have most of their season written/filmed before any of it has aired so they can’t respond to criticism until the second season. Network is different as they can tweak as the season goes along and this can be very beneficial. With reality shows I’m guessing it’s more of the cable model in that it’s all filmed prior to airing. With something like the Kardashians I find it so surreal that they make a huge deal about plot points that we already know the ending to – like the big engagements/breakups. In fact this is a show I’d like to watch S1 of just to see how different it is to the way they are now.

So slight digression there and my favorite Valerie moments are the ones where she is truly herself, like all of the smoking scenes in the finale are hilarious, as is every single time that Mark mentions the coke they did that one time. Speaking of Mark, I really changed my opinion of him over these last four episodes and think he’s really pretty great. He goes all protective over Valerie whenever Paulie G is mentioned and offers to come to the studio and when she turns him down he doesn’t go all macho man and let’s her deal with it herself. He’s also pretty hilarious when he’s high on pain killers. Mark isn’t part of the Hollywood scene and so his reticence at the start is totally understandable, especially when you factor in his own career as a lawyer. I don’t think he’s more reality TV savvy than Valerie, I just think it’s his natural instincts as a lawyer to not trust anyone, especially in this town. How do you feel about Mark now the show has ended?

The Comeback ep 10 Valerie and MarkKerensa: I ended up really loving Mark too. And like you mentioned, I think he’s really good for Valerie because he isn’t involved in Hollywood. Those smoking scenes were HILARIOUS. But I really do like the relationship that became established between them and how supportive he was of Valerie even when she was being nuts.

And I think that evolution would be super interesting especially in terms of The Comeback. Like if it had got a second season–would the show have hinted that Valerie’s sudden fame was because of the show that they were shooting? Also, if there was a second season, how would Room & Bored even be on the air still? Right?

The Comeback ep 13 ValerieEmma: Room & Bored did very much seem dead in the water even if they did get a People’s Choice nomination and I loved how this whole episode pointed out how BS this awards is and how it’s all decided before the night. And while I’m on the subject of this episode, it’s another occasion where they incorporate someone from another reality TV show; first it was The Amazing Race and this time it is Project Runway. So they’re skewering reality TV, while also writing a love letter of sorts to it. Valerie looks stunning in this red dress, even when it’s on back to front. What did you think about this episode and how it portrays the People’s Choice Awards?

A couple of things that probably would save Room & Bored for a second season – Juna’s level of fame (as long as she doesn’t) leave and the success of The Comeback. I would imagine they would want to keep Paulie G on as a writer (and by extension) Tom as there is a high level of conflict here which is good for The Comeback. There’s a lot of variables and it’s easy to see why a reality show about a sitcom star would be a logistical nightmare.

What are your other highlights from these final four episodes?

The Comeback ep 11 Valerie and BillyKerensa: I agree–I do think that it would maybe get another season because of Juna and The Comeback but I bet it would be done after that. I loved that episode and how it looked at the People’s Choice Awards—while I’ve never covered or been to an awards show I bet it’s probably pretty similar to how it’s portrayed there.

On the topic of reality TV, how do you think The Comeback would have fared in the reality TV landscape? Because when the show aired–The Comeback would have been on the cusp of reality TV really blowing up–as acknowledged through the EW cover and the other reality type shows that were shown at the upfronts. I kinda don’t think it would have lasted very long, what about you?

I can’t think of anymore highlights other than Valerie Cherish is our new spirit animal and I miss her terribly already. You?

The Comeback ep 13 smokingEmma: It’s hard to say how The Comeback would have fared and for every Keeping Up with the Kardashians there is a Living Lohan or Pretty Wild (I would watch more of either of these two) so like you I don’t think it would have gone beyond a second season. Hopefully Valerie wouldn’t have been too humiliated and she would have more opportunities beckoning.

One other thing I did want to address is Mickey and his big coming out. Mickey has been one of the overall highlights of the series for me and I’m glad he got a happy ending of sorts. His story is also still very relevant and while he is out to people like Valerie, it’s not a something that everyone in his life knows. On the clip package on The Comeback it infers that Mickey has a thing for Jesse so he hasn’t hidden his sexuality very well and Mickey uses the finale to come out to the world. The response is pretty much “well obviously” and yet because Mickey is a gay man he has to make a public declaration. On the one hand it’s frustrating that this happens, on the other as we saw with Ellen Page at the weekend (ed. note this was written last month) it is incredibly powerful.

The Comeback definitely deserves to sit aside the one season wonders of My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks; it’s been a joy to watch Valerie Cherish and I’m definitely going to miss her. And hey, we have a new catchphrase in our repertoire and if I ever hear “I don’t want to see that” it will be a huge reminder of this show. Can we get more Lisa Kudrow on Scandal please?

The Comeback ep 11 MickeyEmma: Woah regarding the news that this might be making an actual comeback?!?!  Any thoughts and feelings on this real chance that we’ll be getting more Aunt Sassy? And where do you think she’ll be in 2014?

Kerensa: God I hope it happens! Well, there’s no way that Room & Bored could still be running right? I feel like The Comeback would have gone in a couple ways.

1. Re-kickstarted Valerie’s sticom career and she’s having a Julia Louis-Dreyfus-esque renaissance and playing “unlikeable” women.

2. Or it’s relegated her to the dregs of reality television where she’s been a contestant on any celebrity reality show i.e. Dancing with the Stars, etc.

What do you think?

Emma: If there’s no more Room & Bored I hope this means Paulie G had bottomed out somewhere.

While I hope it’s your first suggestion, I think the second one is more likely and she’ll have done every reality show offered to her. Wherever she is I’d like to see a Valerie with some edge like the one we saw in the finale chain smoking her way through her feelings. I expect it will be quite the opposite and she’ll be putting a brave face on everything.

At the start of the series I didn’t really care about Mark, but I’d really like them to be together still. If not there better be Mickey, he’s her constant so I can’t see it any other way.

I’m so excited that this is a real possibility and here we were lamenting the loss of our spirit animal. This is one occasion where more feels like a good idea, there’s still plenty more to get from this well.

I do need to see that.

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

 

New Girl 3.16 “Sister” Review: “A Girl Who Looks Like me, but with Chaos in her Eyes”

12 Feb

Extending Jess’ immediate family on New Girl means bringing in Abby; a previously unseen (and unmentioned?) older sister who just happens to be the opposite of Jess. This isn’t particularly revolutionary of course and sitcoms love to do this type of storyline, but it ends up being the strongest aspect in a chaotic episode. Casting Linda Cardellini as Abby is an instant way to make me forgive retconning of this kind and I am very glad that she didn’t end the episode on a plane to Portland. This is one of those episodes where the three stories don’t really mesh even with some connecting elements and so we returned to the disjointed feeling that the first half of this season suffered from.

NG_ep316-sc16_S0A5849So let’s start with the good and everything about Jess and Abby’s conversation about their mom (oh hey Jamie Lee Curtis!) over wine made me practically giddy to have Cardellini playing Abby.* In a short time it is easy to believe these two are sisters as there is strong chemistry between Deschanel and Cardellini. This scene is undercut with sadness from both characters and their relationship dynamic is clearly mapped out; Jess has always been seen as the ‘perfect baby’ daughter and Abby is the delinquent. Even with these fundamental differences they can both laugh about their mother’s tiny blue denim backpack. It’s all going rather smoothly until Abby sees a text from Cece asking if she has ruined everything yet. Abby ends up pulling a move that is expected and somehow Jess tracks her down to a hotel (via her mom’s credit card? Ok we’ll go with that) and this leads to an honest conversation between the pair and Jess doesn’t sugarcoat it reinforcing the notion that Abby does have a habit of ruining everything.

If New Girl is about this second phase of growing up when you hit your late 20s/early 30s then Abby is one step behind Jess et al as she’s still acting like a rebellious teenager. Moving back to Portland to live with their mother appears to be her only option at this point and this feels like failure to Abby. As we saw recently in “Birthday” Jess has a habit of forming expectations that people can’t meet and with her sister it comes across as the opposite; she expects her to fuck up which is why she doesn’t want her to meet Nick. Plus it seems like all of the Day women have a thing for him.

Jess has met Nick’s family and it’s a surprise to him that she wouldn’t be comfortable with him knowing that she has a sister who says inappropriate things and has been in jail (this probably isn’t the first time she’s been in a cell). As with The Mindy Project’s Mindy, Jess tries the whole movie to real life idea just switch out rom-coms for The Parent Trap. Abby is something that doesn’t fit in with this idea of happy families and while Jess has accepted that her parents aren’t getting back together, prior to this episode she also didn’t want Nick to meet the black sheep of her family.

Unfortunately Nick took this as a sign that Jess was embarrassed of him, which couldn’t be further from the truth and this is one of the only connecting aspects of the episodes. Nick is tasked with being Schmidt’s wingman and their BFF status hasn’t been explored all that much since “Keaton.” Schmidt accuses Nick of only caring about Jess and Nick is determined to be a good friend; to be a good friend to Schmidt sometimes it involves smooching an old lady and getting punched in the face. The Schmidt/Nick dynamic delivers some of the episodes funnier moments and I’d liked to have seen more of them together hatching terrible schemes in this unusual dating arena.

The last time Jon Lovitz appeared as Rabbi Feiglin was back in “The Box” when Schmidt was at a creative low and while his joke telling was pretty funny, this aspect of the episode didn’t work for me. Thankfully the writers have worked out a lot of the Schmidt issues and unlike Nick I rather enjoyed his monologuing.

Winston now has a partner in crazy and I’m glad to see he’s still dating bus driver Bertie, even if the soup dinner party only exists as a reason to address the Cece and Coach non-relationship from another patchy episode “Longest Night Ever” – maybe this week feels so disjointed because they are referencing other episodes that have pacing/story problems. Like Cece I had forgotten about her brief tryst with Coach and it only gets brought up as they’re the only people who can make the “night lunch.” It ends in an attempt to recreate that great two hour make out session; instead they end up with a bad back and a broken tooth. Some things should only happen once.

So returning to the Abby of it all and as she is staying for an unspecified amount of time I think we can expect shenanigans or hijinks with a heart. I’m looking forward to exploring this relationship and how her presence in the loft will throw things into disarray. Seeing Jess challenged in this way will be fun, especially as Abby has a low tolerance for some of Jess’ quirks “If you a cappella sing at me one more time, I will rip that stupid little dress off you and shove it down your mouth.” P.S. Abby that houndstooth dress is super cute and I definitely want it, not that I just bought houndstooth bedding or anything.

“Sister” isn’t a great episode of New Girl and it’s the first misfire of 2014, however there is plenty to feel positive about and I’m happy Linda Cardellini gets to flex her comedic chops in at least one more episode.

*I’m a big Linda Cardellini fan and the first time I saw her on TV was not as Lindsay Weir in Freaks and Geeks (which I only watched for the first time relatively recently), but as Nurse Sam Taggart in E.R. and so this wild child past doesn’t seem all that out of the ordinary. Now I want to write a piece on the good girl/bad girl roles that Cardellini has played, with her most recent Mad Men stint straddling Catholic wife with Don Draper mistress. 

Lizzy Caplan Talks Freaks and Geeks, Party Down and Masters of Sex

30 Dec

Lizzy Caplan is the latest guest on Paul F. Tompkins’ Speakeasy series and she’s talking about her scary experience on Freaks and Geeks, the joy of Party Down and her most recent show Masters of Sex.

Freaks and Geeks was Lizzy Caplan’s first acting job and she reveals that she found the whole experience to be terrifying. While she was good at real life high school socializing, this wasn’t the case on fake high school as she got all shy when coming on as a guest star. Caplan admits that at the time she “didn’t like them” and considering how much she has worked with some of them since, it’s lucky that her feelings towards them have now changed.

It’s Paul F. Tompkins wife’s favorite show of all time, it would make my top 5 and it’s Party Down and she refers to it as “one of those magical situations.” It wasn’t just the working environment that made it special and Caplan compliments the material, talking about how sad they got to make the story. Caplan is drawn to cable as you can take it to a “dark, sad place.”

The white shirt Caplan is wearing is giving off major Party Down vibes, just with a fancy embellished collar and no bow tie. This is of course excellent and Masters of Sex has me obsessing with fancy collars.

Watch the whole interview below and find out how Lizzy Caplan got through her first nude scenes on True Blood and why she’s more than fine with it on Masters of Sex.

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