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Masters of Sex 3.07 “Monkey Business” Review: Apeman

24 Aug

The vast number of years Masters of Sex has covered over a three season period and particularly this season does not render it immune from cyclical plot points and “Monkey Business” goes a long way in demonstrating how patchy this season has been. It is disappointing that despite how far these characters have come, they are still falling into certain traps.

Bill is showing off his unpleasant side as he still can’t fathom why his son is so distant (don’t befriend the kid who beat him up for starters) and he unleashes his controlling side all in the guise of helping broken men (and apes) like himself. The gorilla that was introduced at the end of last week’s episode comes into focus this week as Bill and Virginia are asked to help with Gil’s mating issues. What goes from being a flight of fancy and nothing more than a whim for Bill becomes a huge metaphor for all the suffering dudes on this show, but with a strong whiff of manipulation revealing Bill’s competitive and jealous streak.

Whereas Libby Masters, forever on the periphery has been languishing in her own illusions and it is hard to see quite how she will break free without ever leaving Bill. One step towards freedom does take place this week as she acknowledges just how terrible her personal life is; now if she can move forward rather than backsliding as we have seen her do in previous seasons.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Virgina and BillInitially Virginia is the one who champions the gorilla project with Bill scoffing at how ridiculous it is. They later switch positions with Bill linking his own performance problems to both the impotent (and human) Keith to gorilla Gil. With Gil it is all about point scoring and a good anecdote to tell Newsweek magazine if they are successful. Human patient cases can’t be spoken in any detail due to confidentiality and the one which leads to the interview is pure fiction. Isabella and Al were papped on the way out of the clinic and so they have spun this into a good PR story for their broken relationship, but they can use the exposure to showcase their real triumphs. Virginia appeals to Bill’s ego by pointing out how he has a soft spot for “suffering males” and this is a point which Bill uses on her later on by reiterating how much she helped him.

While it could be said that Virginia uses manipulation to get Bill on board the ape plan, Bill certainly runs with it when Dan comes calling with plans for a night out. At this point Bill has no idea Virginia and Dan are sleeping together, but that doesn’t stop him exerting his power in preventing Virginia from going by insisting on the gorilla shenanigans. It would have probably made more sense for his jealousy to kick in if he was aware of their hooking up and instead this just comes across as dick measuring pettiness.

One awkward scene follows another as Virginia ends up flashing her boobs to get Gil in the mood with Bill offering directions out of Gil’s sight. It is all just a little uncomfortable although I should point out that we are not privy to what Gil and Bill can see; the use of nudity on Masters of Sex never feels gratuitous. They are successful in getting Gil to mate, but the victory is hollow for Virginia and she sees it as no more than a fluke. Bill wants to tell all and at dinner he teases their ‘ape’ triumph and instead references the celebrity couple lie that led to this interview in the first place. It is disappointing to see him play with Virginia in this way and even though he is focusing on the broken people they have helped he is so narrow sighted when it comes to those he is closest to.

It is no surprise Virginia turns back to Charming Dan after this dinner and despite Bill’s assertion last week that certain people are slipping away I don’t think he realizes just how isolated he might become; his son despises him, Libby is starting to come to terms with her situation and Virginia has a new ape man.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Dan and VirginiaI really wish I could say this is Josh Charles wearing a mohair sweater and not a gorilla suit.

The man who spoke about love in such a powerful and meaningful way is still there and Bill does want to help the broken and in need; however he is also a controlling asshole who likes to bask in his success. It is a credit to Michael Sheen’s exceptional performance that he is still so watchable and sympathetic even when the story doesn’t support this.

Impotence has affected several characters on Masters of Sex with Lester suffering from the condition last season after a very bad break up from Jane. During the several time jumps Lester has got back together with his former gf and had children with her; it was only after overhearing Virginia and Bill discussing her husband that Jane found out about his issue.

#In a roundabout way the original ‘important work’ ethos of the study is utilized to make Lester see why Jane wants to be the surrogate in helping her friend and while I love spending time with these characters (especially with Jane in signature yellow) it all comes across as slightly tenuous.

Meanwhile, Tessa is chatting to Dan about her mother’s extracurricular activities with Bill while never revealing who she is. That is until Virginia introduces them and causes Dan to squint in confusion. Does her believe her more now he knows she most likely has insider info or does he read their interactions as spiteful lies? When really it is a mixture of the two.

Every week I have been lamenting about the lack of Betty besides her fabulous costuming and amazing advice; the return of Helen prompts her own subplot and yet this is also on the dissatisfying scale because it all revolves around getting pregnant. Seeing Annaleigh Ashford and Sarah Silverman bouncing off each other is always a treat, but I wish there was a way to feature them without resorting to biological clocks. We already know Betty can’t have children so it is Helen with all the bunny infested dreams and how do you find a surrogate in the 1960s? Tap up Dr Austin Langham that’s how.

The fabulous Betty costuming continues in her late night adventure with paisley prints and silk head band (which is making me reach for this one again) coupled with Helen’s leopard print delight.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Betty and HelenBetty did also get to hold my favorite props from “Monkey Business” (no not the artificial insemination equipment) and old magazines whether mock ups or real hold an instant appeal to this magazine aficionado.

First up Betty’s face while showing the Isabella Ricci Newsweek article (and accompanying fake Lord Harry ad which made an appearance in season 1 – would a company really use the same copy work for 10 years?)

Masters of Sex 3.07 NewsweekAnd then I fell down a Google image black hole looking at Photoplay covers and this plays right into my recent You Must Remember This inspired interest in 1960s (and all those earlier decades) Hollywood.

Masters of Sex 3.07 Photoplay magazineThis season is far from a disaster and there is still plenty to enjoy as the performances are always solid even if the storytelling has been on the bumpy side. They just need to get out of some of the character ruts and show progress beyond the work of Masters and Johnson.

Celebrating the TV Issue of Nylon Magazine

22 Aug

The fall TV season is upon us and Nylon magazine has released the image for their annual TV issue; Revenge star Emily VanCamp graces the cover. The September issue is the fashion magazine pinnacle, but it is the TV issue that I really look forward to and luckily these don’t all arrive in the same month (New York magazine comes out in May and Elle’s February issue tends to be TV-centric). My not so secret admission is that I am a bit of a magazine junkie in both print and digital form – while I prefer print the bonus content included with the digital edition is really appealing – and so the combination of TV, fashion and magazines is my ideal.

So here is the 2013 cover and a love letter to TV issue of Nylon magazine.

Emily VanCamp TV Issue

The first issue of Nylon that I bought was the 2008 TV issue, which also happens to be the inaugural TV issue. While the 90210 cover stars failed to appeal (I really wasn’t that interested in this reboot), the many other TV shows listed on the front (ok it was probably Lost and the forthcoming Fringe) caught my eye. I did the standard flicking through the pages in the shop to make sure it was worth buying and the article that really jumped out at me was the “Gone too Soon” fashion editorial which featured clothes inspired by My So-Called Life.

Considering the influx of ’90s nostalgia it wouldn’t surprise me if we see something similar from Nylon this year – they could take a different route of course and pick other less discussed/revered shows from the ’90s or pick another era all together. In fact grunge has been circulating for a while as the photo shoot with Nina Dobrev cites Angela Chase and has Dobrev in chunky cardigans, plaid flannel shirts and DMs from the 2011’s Christina Ricci covered issue (Pan Am we hardly knew you).

It isn’t just the recent-ish shows that Nylon covers and the 2008 issue looks to older characters like Peg Bundy from Married… with Children, The Cosby Show’s Clair Huxtable and Samantha Stephens from Bewitched for makeup and hair inspiration. Iconic female characters aren’t the only source of inspiration and who would have thought that Lt. Columbo would have a highly covetable look? Well thanks to his trench coat he is. TV Ate My Wardrobe was primarily set up to give me a place to talk about costuming and fashion on TV shows and probably somewhere along the line this magazine issue helped plant the seed of this site.

Other features include interviews with a variety of behind the scenes talent including writers, producers, composers, editors and costume designers. A big chunk is dedicated to the hottest new faces some from shows that will go on to six or seven seasons and others like Rubicon (*sob*) and Kings that didn’t make it beyond one season. This probably sounds super nerdy but it’s quite fun to have flick through and see who is now a star (even if their show tanked) and who has faded into obscurity. It also is a good reminder that shows like The Beautiful Life and the Melrose Place reboot existed for a tiny amount of time, I’m not sure how many people want to be reminded of that though.

This isn’t Emily VanCamp’s first appearance in the TV issue as she has previously represented both Brothers & Sisters and Revenge. Britt Robertson has also featured twice before for the short lived Life Unexpected and The Secret Circle and it wouldn’t be a surprise if she’s in it again for Under the Dome. Jessica Szohr not only got the 2010 cover but she’s been in two other issues showing that at least one person out there liked Vanessa on Gossip Girl. It’s not all just CW shows as Mad MenBreaking Bad and countless other cable shows feature. The other networks are represented too and one of my favorite random pairings is Zach Gilford and Minka Kelly (random because they barely shared a scene on FNL).

The debates that rage online about series finales and what constitutes a great show also feature in these pages – I’m so happy to see Six Feet Under at the table for both of these conversations. Though in the last couple of years these types of discussions haven’t been so prominent, hopefully this issue will make a return to these kinds of debates.

For a look at the past TV issues of Nylon magazine click on the images below. As you can see from the styling of the cover short shorts are common as are clashing patterns. I think Emily VanCamp’s crop top has hypnotic powers as it’s hard to stop staring even if it kind of hurts.

New York Magazine TV Issue

13 May

There are several publications that produce an annual TV issue and one of my favorites hits newsstands today (both the physical and digital kind as you can also get it in the iTunes store) and this is New York magazine. The past few years have seen covers featuring Tracey Morgan with Betty White, Amy Poehler and Jessica Paré dressed as Megan Draper. This year sees Michael Douglas gracing the cover promoting the much anticipated HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra (airing May 26).

NY Mag TV Issue

This issue also contains an in-depth interview with Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan as he previews the final episodes and discusses a variety of topics including happy endings, the quality of cable shows and the negative reaction to Skyler. Matt Zoller Seitz explores TV as a director’s medium, Hayden Panettiere talks Nashville, the much hyped return of Arrested Development is featured and a whole slew of faces from TV (both from behind and in front of the camera) reveal their television habits. You can read most of these articles over at New York magazine’s site but as a magazine purist (even when I have to buy a digital version) it’s worth getting the whole thing.    

Amy Poehler is a Fabulous 1930s Cosmo Cover Star

30 Apr

Amy Poehler’s appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon took a fun turn when she recreated the cover of a 1930s issue of Cosmopolitan. Last month on Cosmopolitan’s site they posted the uncanny likeness after they had been digging through their vintage archives. The headlines in the 30s were a lot different to now boasting “2 Complete Short Novels” as opposed to “When Your Vagina Acts Weird After Sex.” How things have changed.

Thanks to some helpful props of a glass of champagne and a super cute hat Poehler demonstrated that she does indeed look like the cover (though she claims it looks more like her grandma). This impression also includes both Poehler and Fallon using old timey voices (my favorite kind) and Poehler suggesting that the hat has magical drunk inducing powers.

The high waisted pencil skirt/red polka dot blouse combination that Amy Poehler is rocking with her shorter hair is a really good look (. The video also includes a clip of this Thursday’s Parks and Recreation season 5 finale.

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