Archives for posts with tag: TV

The wife and I have been watching the Lindsay Lohan docu-series on Own:

Lindsey

Guilty pleasure, sure, but we’re not ashamed. This is what celebrity culture/fascination should be – a look inside her life, with her permission. All of that in a decent package. Lots of single camera shots, a question or two from the camera wielding producer, some planned meals (read: multi-camera shots) with her family and life coaches and assistants. A wise word or two from Oprah herself.

This is exactly what I need in these last cruel throes of winter.

We get the sense, as viewers, that we are getting an inside look. A peek into the mysterious celebrity life. Lindsay knows we’re watching but she’s relaxed enough to give us a little. More, at least, than the annoyed but pleased look she gives the paparazzi-hoard as she leaves a restaurant:

lindsey4

My real complaint with the show comes at the commercial break. We start with some plugs for the channel – Oprah interviews and Oprah specials. Fine, that’s fair. Then we get a little sales pitch for the Malibu rehab facility where Lindsay stayed. Ok, a little tacky, but whatever. Then we start slipping. A do it yourself legal kit. What looks like a hometown used car add? That can’t be right. A legal settlement announcement for transvaginal mesh ruptures. What the hell, Oprah?!

Can Oprah’s still fledgling OWN network really be struggling this much? Is she (are they) this money hungry that they’ll take on any advertiser? Whatever the reason, I don’t think they understand how much these adds flavor how we watch the show. If I didn’t already feel a little sleazy watching this voyeuristic celeb-drama, hearing the word transvaginal half a dozen times took me over that edge. Thanks, Oprah.

Not that I’m going to stop watching, not yet.

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Let me start this minor rant by acknowledging that this week’s episode of Girls, “Beach House”, was the best of the season. Though that’s not saying much:

girls

Each episode the characters seem less and less human. More caricatures. Hannah never stops talking about herself, Shoshanna falls deeper into the naïve girl worm hole, we’re all shocked that Marnie is alive, and Jessa exists strictly for shock value.

Wasn’t this supposed to be a revolutionarily honest show about modern girls? Our lives? Our loves? Our friendships? Our bodies? (Yes, I think we’ve talked enough about Lena Dunham’s body. Maybe someone can tell her she shouldn’t wear a swimsuit for 48 straight hours. Even if she is so very comfortable with her body. She’s going to get a goddamn kidney infection. Didn’t her mother tell her that?)

Maybe, I’m over reacting. Maybe Lena Dunham knows what she is doing and she is as talented as HBO and Buzzfeed* want us to believe. Maybe there is a planned, reasonable trajectory for the season. Anything is possible, but I’m beginning to lose hope.

More likely, it seems Lena Dunham is a victim of her own success. By reaching the professional heights that she has at such an early age no one is checking her logic or her storytelling. How else could that whole grief storyline exist? No one checked that? Seriously, asking a widow about a book contract at the funeral? At the fucking funeral. Holy shit. Have a little fucking tact.

Perhaps an even bigger problem than the lack of oversight is that Dunham seems to have lost touch with real girls – actual humans who exist in the world. Real girls who have friendships that aren’t entirely toxic. Real girls who have complex emotions but are still able to interact with other humans. Real girls who have jobs AND artistic ambition (the two are not as mutually exclusive as Dunham thinks).

Whether I’m over reacting or not, I’ll likely keep watching because this kind of complaining is really quite fun.

*Buzzfeed’s unrestrained Lena Dunham love is nothing short of suspicious. Proof Here. And Here. I know, right?

I grew up watching The Real World, watching these kids try to be someone their roommates and the TV viewing world would like (or hate). By the thrid season they all knew they were playing a character. It was fun. Drama filled but fun. These kids were the picture of 90s awesomeness:

realworld-seattle

Maybe The Real World should have stayed in the 90s.

As of last season, filmed in Portland, Oregon, I’m done.

I can’t.

The tipping point didn’t come when I graduated college. It didn’t happen when I turned 24 and realized I was older than these kids. I didn’t care that cast wasn’t made up of real people anymore (they are models, even the so called freaks among them). When my deployments made me wary of the self-righteousness of American youth, I could still watch the show. We all have our guilty pleasures, after all.

The break came when The Real World starting allowing violence. The producers quite clearly said they gave zero shits when they let Nia sucker punch two of her roommates:

realworldportland-Fight

Then she wasn’t kicked out. On the contrary she seemed quite pleased with herself. Disturbingly happy with causing injury to other humans. That had always been the line on previous season: violence. Say whatever you want but don’t touch someone. So much as a shove and you’re out. That line let the drama build, it forced these kids to use their words. Now it’s just a free-for-all bloodsport.

Shame on you MTV, taking away my guilty pleasure.

The wife and I finished season one of Homeland last night. If you’ve been foolishly or triumphantly avoiding the show, just stop. Give in. It’s glorious:

homeland

Don’t worry I won’t spoil anything and PLEASE don’t spoil the other seasons for me.

That’s the trouble with watching shows behind the power curve. Even the posters advertising subsequent seasons can be huge spoilers. For example, I know the main characters of my new obsession are alive because seasons 2 and 3 exist. That does kill the tension a bit.
But I’m willing to risk it.

There is a certain kind of pleasure in devouring a show multiple episodes at a time. Really settling in to the story line. Feeling like you know the characters. Acutely experiencing their stress and their joy. That’s how we caught up to Mad Men and Breaking Bad. It’s how I immersed myself in The Walking Dead. Close the blinds and order a pizza – there’s no chance I could stop after just one.

Maybe this inclination reveals a weakness of my character, a true lack of patience. I don’t want to wait a week to find out who survived or what’s around that dark corner. Perhaps this joy places me right in the middle of that modern condition I so love to mock. The generation of cell phone checkers and facebook addicts. Then again, maybe I’m just overanalyzing a TV show.

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The wife was out of town this weekend so I crawled into a hermit hole – just me and the dog against the world. It’s been a challenge crawling out today. Back at work. Back in the world. People expect so much more conversation than poodles. It’s ridiculous.

Anyway, I caught up on some zombie things with all my free time.

World War Z was an obvious first choice because I’m brave:

wwz

Running zombies don’t even scare me. Running zombies. Like sprinting, maniac zombies. Are you fucking kidding me? Boy did I miss my slow moving Walking Dead fellas. I didn’t give up and hide behind my hand because our terrifying zombie friends in WWZ make this orca noise – or some aquatic creature sound, sonar-ish – that’s simply not scary. That and I knew there weren’t going to kill gorgeous Brad Pitt with his casually long hair. Our narrator was safe. I’m not sure I recommend the movie though.

The thing I like about zombies is the apocalypse. How do people keep going? How does society crumble or rebuild? World War Z is about the outbreak. We have little sense of how anyone will rebuild. Thankfully I had two episodes of The Walking Dead waiting for me on Sunday to fix my zombie ennui.

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After that sunny opening on the first episode with Rick in the garden, some fresh meat on the grill, some community, a little story-time/knife lesson for the kids, I thought we had some hope. A possibility of life. Nope. Everyone dies. Or nearly dies. At least Carol has the balls to teach the kids now to fight – though I’m not sure how I feel about her other ventures.

I like this show but it feels a little aimless right now. Maybe I just got spoiled by the brilliance of Breaking Bad. Wake up AMC, I’m counting on you to make my Sunday nights awesome.

With the girlfriend out of town for the weekend, I’ve got more free time than usual. Sure I could be writing or running or cleaning the hall closet. The manuscript isn’t going to finish itself, Elizabeth. Instead, I’ve watched more episodes of The Walking Dead than I’d like to admit.

I don’t watch horror movies or anything that resembles a horror movie – even 127 Hours had too much gore for me – but I do have a soft spot for the Apocalypse. How might people react? Who survives and how? What will go wrong? What can’t be planned for? Where do you poop? Do you still brush your teeth twice a day? It’s an interesting thought experiment and The Walking Dead fulfills most of my fun Apocalypse categories. Plus, the zombies are dumb and slow so that’s less scary.

After an hour or two or six, I’m a little disappointed with women of The Walking Dead. These women – who have survived the end of times – do all the laundry and mending and cooking and cleaning. Women’s work. Maybe things would shake out like that. Fine, someone has to do it. I get stuck, however, on the way they defer to the men:

“Do you agree, Lori?”

“If you think it’s best, Rick”

Come on, girl! Speak the fuck up. These are the end of days! You’re fighting for survival, for the sake of humanity. If you don’t tell him he’s being an ignorant asshole now, when will you? Grow a pair, for fuck’s sake.

Yep, that’s it, that’s the line. I’ve watched too much. Sorry, folks.

I’ve always known my television choices say a lot about me.

Then tonight shit got real:

Comedy Central’s Roast of Roseanne aired last night. One of the best I’ve seen. Jane Lynch was a perfect host. Amy Schumer was at the top of her game (I can’t wait to see her special and listen here to why she’s a standup human being). Carrie Ficher took down everyone. Katey Sagal looked amazing. Just watch it. The lineup was great.

Like so much of life, the roast only works when the room is full of respect. These young comedians and seasoned actors truly respected Roseanne and her career. They saw through the crazy and remembered what groundbreaker she and her show were. Plus, Roseanne took all the shit-talking like a champ. She tossed it back. She laughed. There is nothing worse on roast then the roastee looking uncomfortable. Not Roseanne.

I’d forgotten how much nostalgia boils to the surface when that theme song plays – that gritty sax and warbly harmonica. All I want to do is sit three feet from the TV with a bowl of mac and cheese and giggle at jokes I don’t really understand. Back then, the Roseanne’s sitcom made me feel like my divorced family (the only one on the block) was normal. They were dysfunctional but funny above all else so whatever we were was OK.

Thanks, Roseanne.

You don’t get a smarter comedian/writer these days than Louis C.K.

Funny and kind? Can it be true?

I listened to a rebroadcast of the Fresh Air interview Louie did 2011. You should listen too: here’s a link. With each consecutive topic, after I finished laughing, I kept said, “Goddamnit he’s a good guy, like really a legitimately good  human being.” (yes, I literally said this out loud, in the car, to the bewilderment of the poodle) That’s not something I find myself saying about comics too often but Louie has a way of thinking through life and humor that strives to reach truth. Even if a subject is touchy or offensive Louie is full of kindness and gratitude and an awe for life you just don’t see from many balding middle-aged comics.

His comedy, his aura is something I can’t seem to articulate. Sorry, folks. Thankfully we bought tickets to his live show in October. Maybe that will clear things up.

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