Ted Lasso, Rom-Coms, and Emotional Vulnerability

Why is it important that a show about men who play soccer did a rom-com homage?

Dickinson Behind-the-Scenes: An Interview With the Artisans

Meet the artists who brought the Apple TV+ series to life!

If You Like This, Watch That

Looking for a new TV series to watch? We recommend them based on your preference for musicals, ensemble shows, mysteries, and more!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Younger 4x01 Recap: “Post Truth” (Will We Ever Be the Same?) [Guest Poster: Bibi]

“Post Truth”
Original Airdate: June 28, 2017

Welcome to season four of Younger! After six long months, our favorite NYC crew is back at it and we pick up off right where we left off last season. We start back on the couch with Liza explaining her life in great detail to Kelsey. She tells how she was almost bankrupt, had her daughter to care for, and had finally left her ex-husband. Liza also tells Kelsey she had three years of Random House experience before staying at home with her daughter. It was Maggie’s suggestion that she lie about her age in order to secure a job. Naturally, Kelsey is overwhelmed by all of this information. And when Liza wakes up for work, Kelsey has already left.

At work, Liza tries to find Kelsey immediately and see how she is handling all of the news, but Kelsey blows her off and tells her she just wants to keep their relationship professional. In the staff meeting with the author of the week, we find Kristin Chenoweth portraying an author with a book that I cannot quite describe. I think it’s mostly about not taking no for an answer? And there being no real truth? And reinventing yourself? Who knows.

The important thing to note is that the authro clearly has a crush on Charles (who doesn’t?!) but we still don’t know where Liza and Charles stand, so she might want to pump the breaks. After the meeting Liza is still filled with guilt and wants to announce her real age. This isn’t the time or the place, so Kelsey swoops in to save the day and, as a cover, tells them that Josh and Liza broke up. This succeeds as a distraction and the look on Charles’s face is priceless.

Back in her office, Kelsey tries to explain that she's not only furious with Liza for allowing blackmail to force her into signing Emily from EW’s book, but that Liza also needs to have some sort of online presence to make it seem like she is, indeed, the age she says. She needs to start being photographed and build up her social media presence. This naturally leads the two to meet with Lauren, social media guru. At lunch with Lauren, our guru is hurt by Kelsey’s actions. Kelsey tries to explain that she broke up with Colin right after Lauren essentially threw her out without warning. Liza explains that she and Kelsey having been leaning on each other since she also broke up with Josh. At some point, I would really like Lauren’s character to grow a bit out of her self-absorbed ways, at least for one episode.

Charles catches Liza to ask if he is the reason why she and Josh are not engaged. She affectionately tells him that the engagement just wasn’t what she wanted.Charles then asks her if she is a fan of Ernest Hemingway and if he can take her somewhere. I love that Charles is the classiest man and still knows how to properly date a woman. He takes her to an Ernest Hemingway estate sale of classic pieces and works that belonged to his father. I love the way Charles lets Liza into the smallest, yet deepest and most intimate parts of his life with such ease and excitement. I really hope to see he and Liza actually date this season and try to give their relationship a shot.

While Charles and Liza are out, Kelsey goes to the bar to do some liquid thinking and Josh arrives. She calls his name and they make eye contact, but he then pretends like he doesn’t hear her. Kelsey calls him out, and he finally sits down. He confesses that he isn’t quite sure how to maintain relationships with Liza’s friends, post-break-up. Kelsey tells Josh that she knows everything and she asks him why they broke up. Josh, being a class act, refuses to confess to Kelsey that he caught Liza cheating with Charles — even though he doesn’t need to protect her anymore.

Elsewhere, Kelsey and Liza blackmail EW's Emily into getting them on an elite list for "29 Under 29" and inviting them to the party. At said party, Liza awkwardly gives her first on-camera interview in attempt to, again, reclaim her online presence and make herself a millennial. Charles, on the other hand, takes the new author out to see if they can come to an agreement on acquiring her book. But she aggressively hits on him and scares him away. He then decides to show up at Kelsey and Liza's party instead.

Lauren — having come to the party to support her best friend and attempt to find out where she is now living — is not entirely faithful when it comes to Kelsey and boundaries. Lauren continues to press her about information that she is not yet ready to share, and so when Kelsey then refuses to spill yet again, Lauren sets her up! In a shady move, Lauren offers Kelsey her Uber home. Lauren and Liza then watch the app as the Uber heads toward its destination. In a shocking twist, we see that Kelsey arrives at Josh’s place! Turns out she has found a new home with Josh as her roommate.

Can we just discuss how Liza and Kelsey still need to hash their relationship out? How is it that Liza found two men who are equally as smitten with her (well, not so much Josh anymore) but also kind of the best? When will Lauren learn to start keeping a healthy distance in people’s lives? Are Kelsey and Josh really just roommates or is there something else brewing as they help each other mend from Liza’s lies? Guess we shall see next week! Share your thoughts below!

The Bachelorette 13x05 & 13x06 Roundtable: Show No Mercy [Contributors: Alisa, Chelsea, & Rebecca]

It was a double-header this week with two huge episodes that lead to a bloodbath of contestants. Let’s see how our writers felt about all the men, dates, and racism this week.

Rachel was pretty savage with her cuts this week (and we love her for it!). Which of the remaining men are you most surprised Rachel kept around?

Rebecca: Rachel showed NO mercy this week, and I respect that. We’re getting down to the nitty gritty, and I’m glad she’s not playing around. Kenny, Josiah, and Alex going home were all shocks to me. Josiah was getting pretty intense (and a little creepy), and I didn’t expect him to make it much further, but I’m surprised some of the others outlasted him. As far as Alex and Kenny go, I had both of them in my final four, so my bracket is starting to look pretty meh. I wish I would have swapped out one of them with Dean. He’s definitely been the dark horse this season, at least for me. I’m surprised Rachel has kept Adam (because if she keeps Adam, she keeps Adam Jr.) and Matt (I didn’t know he existed until this week). I’m still pulling for Bryan though!

Alisa: Yeah, I feel like finding out there’s a Matt this season (and that he’s still here) was the biggest surprise for me. Still no idea what he looks like though. I had blessedly forgotten about Adam (and Adam Jr.) and was not happy to be reminded of their existence. I did NOT think Dean of all people would make it this far based on initial impressions but he has been a pleasant surprise. I had Josiah in my final four but was happy to see him gone after he took the quick turn from confident to cocky.

Chelsea: I feel like every week I’ve said “Who is Matt?” or “Who is Adam?” It makes guessing who will be in the final four so much easier now. I was so happy to see Josiah leave as quickly as he did. I could tell from episode one that I wasn’t going to like him and boy did he deliver. I was happy to see Kenny leave on good terms and not immediately after the two-on-one. I did NOT think Eric would stick around this long (even though he was in my initial final four that I wanted to change). I wanted better for Will.

The 2-on-1 is always cringe-worthy, but Lee’s blatant racism and lies made this season’s especially difficult to watch. What are your thoughts on ABC using racism as a plot point?

Rebecca: Racism is an important issue that needs to be discussed, but not in the way that ABC did. Having a black Bachelorette is something to celebrate and obviously race is something that will need to be addressed (especially if white men make it to the hometowns). But using Lee’s blatant racism as a way to gain viewers is just low. The show would be just as interesting, dramatic, and entertaining without having to use racism as a plot point. There are ways to discuss racism in a constructive, educational environment — ABC had the chance to do that but opted not to, which is pretty disappointing.

Alisa: Totally agree with Rebecca. ABC trying to turn racism into drama is a new low. We all knew racism was gonna happen this season, but I guess I was assuming the ignorance and hate would come from some of the fans rather than from the contestants themselves. Lee is a disgusting human and the producers never should have put Rachel — or the other men — in the position of having to deal with him. Good riddance to him and I sincerely hope that ABC has learned something from the fans’ ire, though I doubt they have.

Chelsea: Agree completely with the girls. Casting and keeping a racist man in the house to stir up drama is pretty low. And it didn’t even lead to discussions about racism; it just gave it a larger platform, which is NOT what we need in today’s America. Rachel didn’t deserve that and neither did Kenny or the other guys.

Rachel and the men were hopping all over Europe this week. Which country looked the most fun and inspired you to save up for a visit?

Rebecca: I’ve technically been to Oslo — I had a layover there going from Poland to Croatia, so I know that their airport is nice. But really, I’ve always heard good things about Denmark, especially Copenhagen, so I’d vote to go there. And the group date looked so fun! I love ships and being out on the water, so I think I would have enjoyed that experience.

Alisa: Oh man, do I have to pick just one?! They’re little-ish countries, so maybe I’d just bounce to each like Rachel did! Denmark has always seemed especially lovely to me though.

Chelsea: I would love to go to Sweden or Denmark and just do some exploring. I really want to do those viking group date activities and have a field day. That looked so silly and great.

It’s hard to believe, but we’re already down to the final six men. You know what this means: time to weigh in with your predictions for next season’s Bachelor! Who will it be? 

Rebecca: HOW are we down to the final six?! Rachel’s season is absolutely flying by. I think out of the eliminated contestants, Alex and Kenny are both good options — after all, who wouldn’t love to watch Kenny find a mother for his absolutely precious daughter? As far as the remaining contestants go, I’d vote Dean, Peter, or Bryan. All three are likable, fun, and drama-free. I’d enjoy watching any of their seasons.

Alisa: I think the next Bachelor will be either Dean or Peter. I want one of those two to end up with Rachel and then the other can be the Bachelor. Bryan still gives me the creeps. I would LOVE to see Will be the Bachelor but I’m afraid he got eliminated too early and didn’t get enough screentime to become a fan favorite. But he’ll always be a favorite in my heart.

Chelsea: Before Will was eliminated, I was chatting with Alisa about how Will would be the PERFECT Bachelor. He’s sweet, charming, has a real job and doesn’t stir drama. We’ve been robbed. Based on who I think will be in the final four, I think I want a whole season of Peter be kind of goofy and adorable but I think Dean has a solid chance. He’s been the dark horse all season but I don’t think he’ll win. I do love Bryan and it’s either him or Peter for the win.

What’s your personal pet peeve this season? Go ahead and unload that random rant that’s just been eating away at you all season.

Rebecca: Have I mentioned that Lee is trash? I have so much dislike for him that I don’t even want to waste my brainpower trying to sort out my angry word vomit into something comprehensible. I don’t have too many annoyances this season because Rachel is just so lovely and does a great job with keeping everyone in their place, shutting down the drama, and doing what’s best for her.

Alisa: I just wanna know why no one ever eats all that lovely food they show on the evening dates. Is it because the Bachelor Interns only get to eat if there are leftovers and so the contestants take pity on them and go without so those hard-working and mischievous interns have sustenance? This is one of the many reasons I could never be on this franchise. Starving intern, gorgeous date, random country singer — it wouldn’t matter. I would be devouring all the food on that table at each meal and I have NO SHAME about that. Let me live my life.

Chelsea: Bringing a racist dude into the house is a pretty big pet peeve and just casting some really basic and uninspired dudes. Aside from that, most of the dates this season have been so underwhelming. I think Eric and Will had the best dates of the season this week (behind Peter’s puppy date of course), but spelling bees and random athletic activities are pretty boring. You’re in all these beautiful countries now, do something cute!

Fantasy League Results:

  • Rebecca: 200 points
  • Chelsea: 170 points
  • Alisa: 140 points
  • Rae: 100 points

The Handmaid’s Tale : An Exercise in Adaptation [Contributor: Melanie]

Well, you may have noticed my recaps of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale all but dropped off the face of the Earth towards the end of May. That’s because bed bugs are real, kids. And they will consume your life until they are gone and your friends disown you because, Mel, we are so done with hearing about your effing bedbugs.

Anywho... The Handmaid’s Tale has easily accomplished a lot in its first season. It horrified us with how uncannily topical it was, it made Hulu relevant again (or maybe for the first time ever), and it helped influence the culture of protests the country over (those images of women dressed as handmaids were haunting). To say it was an excellent show with a highly digestible and relatable social message, well-written episodes, and beautifully crafted shots throughout isn’t really doing justice, however, to what the true triumph of the show is: the art of adaptation.

Adapting any work is an incredibly polarizing experience for all involved. The very concept of taking a piece of art and rendering it into another medium is fascinating to think about. It kind of links all art forms together in a larger cosmic family, if you want to get super cheesey about it. But part of adaptation is taking the source material apart at an anatomical level: what works in another medium and what doesn't, what is the the heart and lungs of a work that we can’t do without, and what is the appendix and optional extra kidney that’s taking up space? It can sometimes be a game of whisper-down-the-lane where the end result doesn’t exactly match up with where the original started. And, unfortunately, the artists involved with that process and the fans don’t often agree.

Where The Handmaid’s Tale succeeds is in avoiding that technical breakdown of plot points and character beats in favor of extracting the soul and purpose of its source piece. Bruce Miller noted that a lot of the writing of the series took place during the presidential debates in the 2016 election, fueling a lot of the language, rhetoric, and spine of scenes where Offred and other women are subjected to the harsh world of life as walking uteruses in Gilead. But what the show really does is expand its feminist reach into other realms of the world and story that weren’t touched up in the original novel.

We get to see Offred when she was June. We saw life as we know it, complete with discourse on everyday battles for feminism that we face now, played out against the world as it became. The talk of scapegoating, the rounds of blaming before finally they decided to dismantle democracy all together (this sounds familiar). There were interesting parallels: the way in which the handmaids were tasked with watching each other so the women never trusted one another long enough to form an alliance (just look at the Women’s March on Washington, powerful things happen when women are allowed to support each other). Canada, as always, is the bastion of safety and social justice waiting for the American lucky enough to escape (into the Toronto neighborhood of “Little America”).

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We also were treated to a cast far more diverse than the one featured in Atwood’s original novel, with actors of color in heroic roles and more queer characters than were featured in the novel. Atwood noted at an event I attended a few weeks before the show premiered that diversity was the ultimate enemy of monolithic governments. The racially diverse characters in the show are those making a stand against the oppressive system.

Further, the show takes the story out of Offred’s head and adds consequences to it. The novel is, as the title suggests, Offred’s tale: her stream of consciousness, her narration of her day-to-day life with distant memories of a time before. The show makes the point that everyone is suffering and everyone is to blame. This is something Offred notes but is, for the most part, trapped inside her own solitude (which us, of course, another victimization of the system attempting to keep women apart). The show handed its audience the intricacies of both large scale government moral bankruptcy and daily microaggressions and prejudices we might face from partners, friends, and the barista down the street.

While some purists may feel a derivative work can never live up to the shadow of the original, this is one adaptation that strove not outdo its source material, but do it justice. The original novel was written in the world of the 1980s and all that entailed for the future of America (and here we are, kids). The greatest thing this show could do to honor the book and the forward thinking, speculative works of Margaret Atwood is to take into account the world around us and where we are headed if we don’t do something. If we don’t, as Offred notes, wake up.

Season two of The Handmaid’s Tale is headed to Hulu in 2018.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x07 Recap: "Part 7: There’s a Body, All Right" (Ominous Music Plays) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


"Part 7: There’s a Body, All Right"
Original Airdate: June 18, 2017

Part 7 has thrown me into a Snoqualmie Falls-size black hole of mystification. There are just too many clues and hypotheses and theories to wrap my brain around. Don’t get me wrong, I love the mystery, but WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? I’m going to try and break it down, which will include my many, many questions.

The episode begins with Jerry trippin’ out in the woods. “I think I’m high!” That’s kind of how I feel reading all the different takes on what happens on this episode. He calls Ben and says he thinks his car is stolen. (OMG, is this a precursor to the stolen car bit with Cooper/Dougie and the police?) While we are seeing Ben’s side of the phone call, the phone cuts off. Did Jerry hang up? Did something happen to him? SOMEONE GO CHECK ON JERRY!

Hawk goes over the pages he found in the bathroom stall door on Part 6. He reiterates clues that we know about from Fire Walk With Me. It figures the most explicit explanation is of something we already know about. That doesn’t lessen the excitement over the discovery of these pages that we’ve been waiting for 25 years to be found. Lynch spends a good amount of time on this scene, which allows for the gravitas of it to be adequately felt.

To recap, the pages Hawk found were three out of the four that were missing from Laura’s secret diary found at Harold Smith’s. In it she writes about a dream she had where Annie visited her and told her that the good Dale is in the lodge and he can’t leave, and to write it in her diary.” On the back of another page it implicates that Laura knew that it was her father. Hawk thinks that Leland hid these pages for fear of being discovered.

Frank calls Harry to get his take on it, but he’s too consumed by his illness and treatment. Frank decides not to bother him with it. “Beat this thing.” Yes, please, Harry beat this thing! Frank then Skypes with Doc Hayward. They Skype! Frank has got a fancy built-in monitor that rises out of his desk with the turn of the lever, and Doc has been diagnosing patients via the internet as he spends his days fishing. The citizens of Twin Peaks using modern technology is a sight. Also quite the sight is Doc Hayward, played by the late and great Warren Frost. They talk about the day Cooper and Annie came out of the Black Lodge. Doc had noticed that Cooper was acting strange and took him to the hospital to be checked out. Later he saw Cooper sneak out of intensive care, and suggests he might have been checking in on Audrey who was in a coma after the explosion at the bank. Both Doc and Frank get somber at the mention of Audrey, and they change the subject. This gives me the feeling that things aren’t going well for Audrey at present, and concerns me enormously.

Andy is investigating the hit and run from Part 6. Well, at least he’s investigating the truck that Richard was driving. The man who owns the truck is very nervous about Andy’s questioning. He insists that he wasn’t driving it and begs Andy to leave, saying he will tell him the whole story, but not now and not here. Andy agrees to meet him elsewhere in two hours. We later catch up with Andy at their meeting place and the truck owner hasn’t shown. There is a cut to the shack where Andy was first questioning him. Ominous Twin Peaks music plays as the camera pushes in on the door.

Lt. Cindy Knox follows up on the latest hit on Major Briggs’ prints. Det. Macklay informs her that they got the prints off of the actual body. “There’s a body, all right.” They show Knox the body and tell her that the body is a man in his late 40s who died about 5-6 days ago. Knox is appropriately surprised and confused by this information and notifies her superior, Colonel Davis (so we get to see Ernie Hudson again, yay!). While Knox is on the phone with him and as she mentions for the second time that the head is missing, a dark figure appears in the background and walks toward her down the hallway. She senses his presence and looks behind her. The camera focuses on the man, and it is the same freaky guy that was in the jail cell with Bill Hastings (Matthew Lillard)! Remember his head floated away like a balloon and Major Briggs’ head floated in space? Also, ominous sounds play whenever he is on screen in this scene. The amount of times I wrote "ominous sounds" or "ominous music" in my notes was considerable.

Lynch blesses us with a moment of him as Gordon Cole whistling in his office with the mushroom cloud photo behind him. We get a glimpse of another piece of art, as well, a painting of an ear of corn. Gordon is hard of hearing and garmonbozia is creamed corn. Many are interpreting that Gordon is either a Black Lodge or White Lodge entity of some kind. We also see that his hearing may be conveniently selective and that he knows more than he lets on.

Albert accompanies Gordon to Diane’s. (He did say “please.”) She is not happy with their presence and she makes her distaste obvious. They tell her that Cooper is in federal lock-up, to which she answers coldly, “Good.” She begrudgingly serves them coffee, and we are blessed again by Lynch as Gordon saying, “Damn good coffee.” He says, “this is extremely important, Diane, and it involves something that you know about, and that’s enough said about that.”

This must’ve convinced her because the next scene is the three of them plus Tammy on a plane to South Dakota. Tammy shows Gordon and Albert an incongruity on Cooper’s fingerprints sheets. The prints taken from BOB/Cooper at the Yankton Prison have one of the digit’s boxes reversed. Someone tried to make it match Cooper’s prints from 25 years ago. Gordon has Tammy hold out her hands. He says Cooper’s greeting to him as he touches each finger. “I’m very, very happy to see you again, old friend.” The first “very” lands on the left hand’s ring finger, and is also the “very” that BOB/Cooper said backwards, “yrev.” Gordon says that that finger is “the spiritual mound, the spiritual finger.” It also happens to be the same finger on which people wear the owl cave ring and where BOB hides the letters under the fingernails of his victims.

One of the best scenes of the episode is Diane’s meeting with BOB/Cooper. Both Laura Dern and Kyle MacLachlan are eerily superb. Diane is visibly upset by seeing him. BOB/Cooper has the deep, monotone voice affectation that he had when Gordon met with him.
Diane: When was the last time we saw each other, Cooper? 
BOB/Cooper: At your house. 
Diane: That’s right. Do you remember that night? 
BOB/Cooper: I’ll always remember that night. 
Diane: Same for me. I’ll never forget it. Who are you?
What happened that night?! Did they sleep together? Did she get pregnant? Is it the Linda that the Question Mark Man mentioned? This is the direction my thinking is going with all this. It’s possible that BOB/Cooper was better at mimicking Cooper back then enough to fool her. It would also explain her animosity towards just the mention of Cooper’s name, meaning he bolted after that night. She tells Gordon something is definitely wrong. When Gordon asks about the night they were referring to, she tells him that they will have a talk about it.

BOB/Cooper knows that the FBI knows that something is amiss, and he’s not going to be released, so he makes other arrangements. Using some information that includes dog’s legs, Joe McCluskey, and the late Mr. Strawberry, BOB/Cooper bribes the warden. He lets BOB/Cooper and Ray Monroe escape.  

Back at Lucky 7 Insurance, Tony grills a silent Dougie/Cooper on what he talked about with the boss. He gets nowhere and leaves when the police come to see Dougie about his car. They don’t get much information from him either until Janey-E shows up. They have a roundabout conversation about whether his car is missing or stolen. They finally reveal that his car was involved in an explosion with multiple fatalities linked to a car theft gang.

Cooper and Janey-E leave somewhat relieved that the car mystery is solved and the thugs are paid off. When they get outside, the hitman, Ike the Spike from Part 6, charges at them with a gun. Cooper snaps out of his haze, pushes Janey-E out of harm’s way, and takes down the gunman. As they struggle for the gun, the arm tree thing from the Black Lodge pokes its head up out of the sidewalk, and says, “Squeeze his hand off.” Cooper complies, but Ike gets away, leaving behind a chunk of skin from his hand that Cooper squeezed into the gun handle. (Which is totally gross, by the way.)

The police show up to take evidence and interview bystanders. The child of one woman says that Ike “smelled funny.” Maybe like scorched engine oil? Another woman says that “Douglas Jones moved like a cobra.”

At the Great Northern, Ben and his assistant Beverly (Ashley Judd), try to find the source of a ringing hum in her office. They flirt as they roam the room. Beverly is the new employee that Ben said he wasn’t sleeping with because she was married (and because of R-E-S-P-E-C-T). He’s definitely gotten better at restraining himself around women, but his desire is still there. It doesn’t seem one-sided, though. Beverly boldly flirts back, and we learn later that her married home life is not a happy one. Her husband is incapacitated by an illness, and she is working to support them. I could not help but think the humming sound was Josie’s spirit in the wood. The camera (ominously) pushed in on the wooden walls as the tone continued.

But, that’s not even the most important part of that scene. The hotel key that Jade had put in the mail arrived back at the hotel. Ben remembers that it was the key to the room that Agent Cooper stayed in while he was investigating Laura’s murder. Ben Horne, you take that key to Hawk right now!

We cut to The Roadhouse to watch a guy sweep the floor for almost 3 full minutes as “Green Onions” by Booker T and the M.G.s plays. Jean Michel Renault is in the background. Watching this guy do this boring chore seems so insignificant that it is probably very significant. The phone rings and Jean Michel answers it, proving two things. One, he is just as scummy as his deceased relatives, and two, the Renault family is still involved in pimping out girls.

Another seemingly inane scene ends the episode. But, like most things on Twin Peaks, it most likely means something. The scene is at the Double R Diner at what looks like the dinner rush. “Sleep Walk” by Santo and Johnny plays on the jukebox. A guy runs in and asks, “Anybody seen Billy?” and runs out again. This simple scene is the source of much confusion and speculation. The closed captioning was incorrect by quoting what the guy said as “Anybody seen Bing?” Executive Producer, Sabrina S. Sutherland has confirmed that it was a mistake. The guy that says it is named Bing, and he is played by Riley Lynch, David Lynch’s son and member of the band Trouble, which played at The Roadhouse on Part 5.

As if that wasn’t odd enough, there is what looks like a continuity error, but might actually be something intentional. The patrons in the diner change as they cut to different sides of the counter. The music track starts to have, you guessed it, ominous overtones after Bing runs in. Large and small events happen that move the story along, but bring up even more questions. Such is the world of Twin Peaks.

Stray Observations: 
  • Doc Hayward’s Skype handle is MiddleburyDoc. Warren Frost passed away at his home in Middlebury, VT. 
  • I am here for this Diane sass. 
  • All this spiritual finger business and looking at Tammy’s hand made me think of the odd line that Red said on Part 6, “Do you ever study your hand.”
  • “What does this all mean?” My motto for this whole series so far.
  • “It belonged to some girl from Ipanema.” This means something, too. I just know it. 
  • “Cheers to the FBI.”
  • It’s so great that the blackened man is back to haunt my dreams. Thanks, Lynch.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Game Over: Saying Goodbye to Pretty Little Liars [Contributors: Jenn and Megan Mann]

All good things must come to an end. And all seven-year mysteries must too. Tonight marks the final episode of Pretty Little Liars, a show that has come to redefine what it means to see the letter "A." I haven't been with the show since the beginning, but found it a few years ago when I was sick and couch-ridden. Since then, I've watched nearly every episode of the series (admittedly, I'm about a half a season behind going into tonight's series finale), and in spite of the insanity that often ensues, I always find myself engaged with the content and characters. I think that's something that's really important and often misunderstood about television series. Good shows can hook you, while great shows keep you hooked.

I'm not saying Pretty Little Liars is Emmy-worthy material here, but what I am saying is that it's managed to keep so many of us on the hook for so long — thanks, in part, to the slowly unraveling mystery of the identity of the Liars' tormentor. While I've always appreciated the jump scares and the hilariously sardonic dialogue that often comes from Hanna or Spencer, my favorite thing about the show is that it's always been centered on the friendship between Hanna, Ali, Spencer, Emily, and Aria. The show will end with them, just as it began with them. There are too few television shows these days that feature a cast of primarily women, and allow the men to be supporting players in their stories.

As we approach the series finale tonight, Megan and I thought we would look back on some of the show's most iconic moments, crazy storylines, and favorite couples. Return to Rosewood with us one last time, won't you?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Lovin’ -- Week 23

Image result for summer gif

We're back again with another fun Summer Lovin' installment. I don't know about you, but Netflix has taken up a lot of my time on the weekends now. It's been really fun getting to catch up on movies and shows while my favorite series are on summer hiatus. There was a lot to love this week for our staff members, so let's dive in! Joining me this week are:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wynonna Earp 2x03 Recap: "Gonna Getcha Good" (Make a Wish) [Contributor: Isabella]

"Gonna Getcha Good"
Original Airdate: June 23, 2017

This episode is also known as the long-awaited Waverly the cheerleader episode, and Nicole is right when she tells Waverly, who performs a routine just for her, "Baby, that's everybody's thing."

Ahem, so the murder mystery this week involves Bryce Cooper, the star of the high school's hockey team from 2007. A monster-demon forced him to pull out his own liver, and he died gazing at the trophy case. This pulls Wynonna into a nostalgia trip, especially when she gets hit up by Perry, another one of the teammembers of the old hockey team. When she first agrees to go on a date with him — simply so she can find out any info on the murder, of course — she has no idea that he's directly involved with it. And in a very creepy way, as we get to see him grab a bloody skinned rabbit out of a bucket while in his room.

At the start of their date, they get interrupted by Skip — another teammate — who's blabbering about how Bryce was taken. Perry seems to understand what he's talking about and attempts to cover it up from Wynonna by dragging Skip back to his house. She follows them there, only to find that Perry's drawn an algiz both on his front door and on Skip's forehead in blood (presumably that rabbit blood from before). Skip's lying down on the front porch when the demon comes up and begins to force him to pull his liver out. Skip doesn't get too deep into his own body before Wynonna shoots at the demon, who's already run off.

Later on, Perry comes by Wynonna's house for help and they find out that he isn't summoning the demon to kill his old teammates, but rather, he's trying to protect them from it. Back when they were seniors, Perry and his teammates were given a spell by their coach who wanted them to finally win a game. They performed it and were promised ten years of anything they could wish for, but now the Marzanoik demon is back to finish their deal. When Doc hears this, he believes that if they capture the demon, they could use it to save Dolls. He tells Wynonna this plan, along with the fact that he's been concocting the drugs Dolls needs in the basement of Shorty's bar. And so, queen Wynonna snatches the 2007 trophy from the current team's hands.

Meanwhile, Waverly's still dealing with her identity issues after struggling to come to terms with the fact that she's not biologically an Earp. Because of this, she has tried and continues to try to keep the town's community intact and maintain the status quo. That is why she tells Nicole to not arrest Tucker after she catches him taking pictures up cheerleaders' skirts without their knowledge. But later in the episode, Waverly gets harassed by Tucker and her inner demon Gooverly comes out and chokes him a little. After which, he goes off crying home to his sisters — one of whom is Mercedes. Mercedes tells him to back off and not get close to the Earp sisters. She gets a brief moment of victory before she is attacked (and possibly killed?) by the Figures in Black.

Later on, Nicole learns that Tucker's family are important figures in town. They have a lot of money, which is why they let Tucker off scot-free — or so she thinks. The sheriff's been compiling a big folder of all the horrible thing Tucker's done, for the "long game." Nicole can't think about this for too long because while she's babysitting Skip in his jail cell — for driving under the influence right into a beautiful oak tree — the demon comes by to finish him off. Nicole tries to stand her ground, but he throws her to the ground. Doc, Wynonna, and Perry come to her rescue and ultimately trap the demon back in the trophy.

Earlier in the episode during a bit of downtime, Nicole brings up the fact that Waverly's been acting a little odd and more brusque to Wynonna. Wynonna gets defensive about this, since she can't believe anything could be wrong with Waverly. She dismisses Nicole's claims very suddenly by comparing those same characteristics to herself. Nicole is once again left alone to think and worry about this, but not for long.

Dolls, who's somehow locked up in the Earp barn, witnesses Gooverly playing around with her collection of silver-looking objects. He tries to get her attention since she seems really out of it, but right before she walks out of the barn, she turns around and flashes him her demon eyes. It hopefully — and probably — won't be long before somebody finds him. ... Or at least hears his screams.

Other Points of Interest:
  • "Boys from here to there!" "Girl, put on some underwear." Incredible accidental rhyming on the part of Waverly and Wynonna.
  • "You've polished the shaft hard enough." "Wow, you so rarely hear that."
  • Who else misses Dolls like a lot? Like a lot a lot? ME, but also Wynonna. I love how she nervously twiddles with the necklace Dolls gave her in the first episode.
  • "Calm down, flaming ladybug."
  • "Run!" "I'm not big on cardio these days." Same, Wynonna.
  • It makes me anxious to think that even after Nicole brought up the weirdness about Waverly to Wynonna, she's still the only one who sees it. I get why Wynonna would be so defensive about her little sister, since I would be to, but this will get even more dangerous in the long-run.
  • Bless Mercedes. That is all.
  • How did Dolls get there? Since when has he been there? What's happening? What's going on?!

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x06 Recap: "Part 6: Don’t Die" (Diane!) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


"Part 6: Don’t Die"
Original Airdate: June 11, 2017

For an episode titled “Don’t Die” there was quite a bit of death, including an extremely tragic one that will not be leaving my mind any time soon. That particular scene and some lengthy ones of Cooper struggling in the real world (or this dimension or wherever this is) gave Part 6 a somber mood. There are some quirky, madcap moments, and a long-awaited character reveal is made.

The episode picks up where Part 5 left off, Cooper is still standing by the statue with an armful of case files. A friendly security officer brings him home. Janey-E fixes them sandwiches (which are weirdly loud and crunchy), and finally decides to take Dougie to the doctor. What must Dougie have been like that it takes her this long to make that assessment.

She sends him up to say goodnight to Sonny Jim who is reading a Hardy Boys book in bed — The Secret of the Old Mill, to be precise! They share a sweet moment with chips and a clap on/clap off cowboy lamp before Janey-E yells for Dougie to come downstairs.

When Cooper was brought home, the officer noticed an envelope on their doorstep. Janey-E had opened it while Cooper was upstairs, and was not happy with its contents. Cooper did not make arrangements to pay off Dougie’s debt because, well, he can’t even figure out how to find a bathroom on his own. Along with the threat, is a photo of Jade and Dougie. “Jade give two rides.” “Yeah, I bet she did.”

The phone rings and Janey-E jokes that maybe it’s Jade calling. Cooper smiles at the thought, and so do I. It’s the thugs who want their money. Janey-E takes command and tells them that she will meet them the next day. She tells Cooper that he better get to work on the work he brought home, and kisses him on top of his head despite being so angry with him.

There’s a cut to a Twin Peaks stoplight and MIKE in the Red Room before going back to Cooper and the files. MIKE appears before Cooper like he did in Part 4. He tells him to “wake up” and “don’t die.” Cooper starts doodling on the files, drawing ladders and stairs, and nondescript scribbles. At one point, pinpoints of light appear on the page. I don’t know what any of it means, but I was captivated watching him do this.

Albert pulls up to Max Von’s Bar. As he makes his way through the crowded place I’m chanting, “please be Diane, please be Diane.” After he says, “Diane,” I start chanting, “please be Laura Dern, please be Laura Dern.” It is! Laura Dern plays the mysterious, fan favorite Diane, Cooper’s trusted confidant. I could not be more pleased with this casting. I don’t think anyone else could’ve filled this important role better than Dern. She is a veteran of Lynch’s films, and a very gifted actor. All we got was a turn of the head and a “Hello, Albert,” and I was over the moon. Also, her whole look is fabulous. I don’t think I ever pictured anything in my head about how Diane would look, she was that much of an enigma. The white platinum bob and Egyptian-esque eyeliner is very cool and unexpected.

Turns out the guy who was making eyes at Shelly at The Roadhouse on Part 2 is a drug dealer, and a tricky one too. Richard Horne is testing the drugs that Red will supply him to sell in Twin Peaks. Red messes with him by calling him “kid,” and doing a coin trick that scares the crap out of him. It would scare me, too. It is some freaky magic trick. Red also mentions wanting to stick around town. I wonder if that has anything to do with Shelly? Balthazar Getty plays Red as an eccentric and menacing bad guy reminiscent of Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth. It was satisfying to see Richard on the receiving end of his peculiar intimidation. Richard leaves crying, angry, and emasculated.

The next few scenes end up converging at one intersection where that tragic death occurs. First, we see Carl getting a ride into town from his trailer park. Mickey, one of Carl’s neighbors, tags along so he can pick up Linda’s mail. Remember “Richard and Linda?” He talks with Carl about Linda, and it seems she is in a wheelchair, maybe because of a war injury?

Next, we meet Miriam at the Double R. She is raving to Heidi, the giggling waitress from the original series, about Norma’s pies.

There is a quick cut to Richard speeding down the road and then to Carl sitting on a bench in the park looking up at the tree tops. He smiles at a mother and son who pass by. Richard approaches cars stopped at a stop sign and he speeds up to pass them. I’m hoping that what I suspect happens next doesn’t happen, but it does. Richard runs over the boy right in front of his mother. It is truly horrific. If they are trying to show that Richard is borne of evil, this certainly sells that. First assaulting a woman and now killing a child exemplifies pure evil, in my opinion. As he drives away from the accident, Miriam with her Double R coffees watches as he passes. I don’t know if she is in enough proximity to know what happened, but the look on her face is complete horror. Carl comes out to see what the sound was, and watches as the boys spirit leaves his body, in the form of a yellow flame-like cloud. He goes to the grief stricken mother who is cradling her son, and they look at each other. Dang it, I’m sobbing again. It is just so awful and sad. The scene ends on a shot of a telephone pole and electricity crackling in the lines.

We have seen either this pole or one similar before. In fact, I believe this is the same intersection where Mike meets Leland and Laura in Fire Walk With Me. These callbacks along with the presence of Carl are all very significant, but I don’t know exactly why yet. Carl’s background from FWWM and in Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks is as mysterious as the show. Is he somehow connected to Black Lodge or White Lodge spirits?

Mr. Todd, who we haven’t seen since Part 1, is working on his computer. A red square appears on his screen. It’s a signal of some kind. He goes to a safe and takes out a large white envelope with a black dot on it.

Back in Rancho Rosa, Dougie’s charred car is being towed away, and the drugged-out mom is still yelling, “1-1-9!”

At a motel, a man is playing dice by himself. The envelope with the dot is slipped under his door. As he opens it, hip hop music starts to play. He studies the two photos inside. One is of the worried Lorraine, the woman at the beginning of Part 5, and the other is Dougie. The man stabs the photos with an awl and the music stops.

Cooper shows up at Dougie’s office for another day of work. He can’t figure out how to exit the elevator, but he’s got coffee, so he has a big smile on his face. His boss goes over the work he did on the files, and he is bewildered at the doodles. He begins to chastise him about it, but takes a closer look. He sees something, because he thanks Cooper for his work. “I want you to keep this information to yourself. This is disturbing, to say the least. I’ll take it from here. But I may need your help again. You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.” Mind sharing with the rest of us, kind sir?

Janey-E pays off Dougie’s debt when she meets the thugs at a park, but not before giving them a piece of her mind. “What kind of world are we living in where people can behave like this, treat other people this way without any compassion or feeling for their suffering?” She tells them to take a good hard look at themselves, and leaves them stunned. “Tough dame.” I’ll say!

That hip hop music plays as we see the hallway outside Lorraine’s office. Yeah, I don’t think she is going to be alive for much longer. The hit man rounds the corner, awl in hand. He brutally stabs her. The violence is very graphic.

Hawk drops a coin in the bathroom at the Twin Peaks sheriff’s station, which seems innocuous enough, but leads to what could be a huge clue. The coin he drops has an Indian chief head on it. He glances over at the bathroom stall door that has the logo of Nez Perce Manufacturing which is also an Indian chief head. He notices the metal on the door is bent back at the corner. He pries it open and finds notebook pages with writing on them. Could these be the pages from Laura’s diary when she wrote what Annie told her in her vision?

Doris shows up mad about her father’s car and lays into Frank about it. Chad mocks them, and the dispatcher sticks up for Doris and Frank. “She didn’t used to be like this. Don’t you know their son committed suicide?” Chad continues to be an insensitive jerk saying that he knows their son couldn’t handle being a soldier. Is this related to Linda and that war that Carl alluded to?

Once again, the end credits roll over a performance at The Roadhouse.

Stray Observations: 
  • I’ve never been so excited over a shot of a stoplight before.
  • We met Diane, you guys!
  • Tony, Dougie’s co-worker played by Tom Sizemore, looked really nervous when Cooper went in to talk to the boss. 
  • Characters I would like to see more of: Jade, Miriam, and the dispatcher.
  • This part’s musical guest is Sharon Van Etten with a mournful song befitting of this episode, especially with a lyric like “Send in the owl, tell me I’m not a child.”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Bachelorette 13x04 Roundtable: Guys and Dolls [Contributors: Chelsea, Alisa, Patti, and Rebecca]

What's been happening in the world of The Bachelorette recently? Well, our favorite staffers are here to give you the run-down on all the dates and drama! Take a look at what Rebecca, Alisa, Patti, and Chelsea had to say about this week's episode.

Who do you think needs to leave next? Were you sad to see any man leave?

Rebecca: I already forget who left besides Diggy, so I must not have been too sad to say goodbye to any of this week’s eliminations. Lee really needs to go. He’s downright terrible. Not only is he a racist misogynist, but he’s an instigator and drama queen who needs to grow up. I hope Kenny pops him next episode. I’m also over Iggy using all of his time with Rachel to complain about Josiah. He seems to be stirring the pot, and it’s annoying. Maybe keep the other guys’ names out of your mouth and focus on getting to know Rachel? And Adam needs to get himself and that creepy doll out of there ASAP.

Patti: I did like Diggy, if only because his shoe collection is really impressive and I wanted to know more about it. Obviously Lee, Iggy, Eric, and Josiah NEED to go. I think Jack Stone is on his way out with that one-on-one date. I haven’t decided about Kenny yet. I used to love him, but he’s in the thick of all of the drama, and to be honest, I don’t know that Rachel needs to be a wrestling wife.

Alisa: Yeah, totally agree with Rebecca and Patti. I had a special place in my heart for Diggy, who just seemed really mature and genuine with a great fashion sense. What more could a girl want? I reeeeeally wanted to like Iggy but he needs to stop with the tattling. Every season we have somebody who thinks that’s gonna win them points and all it does is get them out the door faster. Come on, man. I do feel bad for Kenny because I think he inadvertently got caught up in the tornado of drama Lee insists on creating. And seriously, Lee never should have been allowed on The Bachelorette to begin with. What an awful creep.

Chelsea: I’m having so much trouble remembering all their names this year. Casting really found a bunch of petty basics to stir up the drama. Lee is the absolute worst and I do not believe for a minute that the producers were unaware of his social media history. Like Alisa said, he shouldn’t have been allowed on the show. I’ve had a sketch feeling about Josiah since the first week and this week proved me right. His ego is way too much.

They didn’t give Diggy and his delightful shoe collection a chance. You can’t tell me that Iggy, Lee, and Josiah are better than the male model and firefighter that went home. The odds of Raven tracking down that firefighter are really high.

Who had the best date of the week? The worst? Who should get a one-on-one next?

Rebecca: I loved Dean and Rachel’s blimp date! I’ve always wanted to go in a blimp, and the scene of them sitting in the back surrounded by all the windows was too cute. I also am a fan of Russell Dickerson — I saw him open for Thomas Rhett in March and was really impressed. He’s very talented and I hope being on the show gives him some much-deserved exposure.

Patti: Dean and Rachel’s date was fantastic! They were so open and candid and hilarious. It’s funny, because a lot of these conversations happen on every season of The Bachelor/ette, and I find myself tuning out completely because I just don’t care. But Rachel is asking the really good, smart questions, so the evening portion of the one-on-ones make me feel things! Although I wish they would do away with the “this random dude sings while we dance and kiss on a weird pedestal while an audience watches and cheers.” I would love for her to have a one-on-one with Will next.

Alisa: Dean and Rachel’s date was amazing. I was NOT a fan of Dean going into this episode. He’s very handsome but I didn’t think he had much depth and he seemed far too young. Boy, did he change my mind. He seems genuine and down-to-earth and like an all around lovely human being. Plus, they seemed really good together. I too hate the whole random country singer no one’s heard of portion of one-on-one’s, but was pleasantly surprised by this guy. I don’t even like country music but he had a great voice and I loved the song. The whole making out in front of the crowd thing is kind of awkward though. I also greatly enjoyed the spelling bee portion of the group date. That was hilarious and the good kind of awkward. Not only did you get to see who’s a great speller, you also find out who can just have fun and laugh at themselves, which is an even more important trait. I’d like to see Will get a one-on-one date next and also I think she needs some more alone time with Peter so maybe he could get a second one-on-one.

Chelsea: Dean is slowly becoming my favorite contestant to watch. You can tell Rachel is having a lot of fun with him and he’s a nice break from the petty basics. The blimp ride was so cute and they should have just had the obligatory country music performance in the air (I tend to zone out when the country starts playing). I am so charmed by Will and want him to have more screentime. Also, isn’t it about time Bryan gets a one-on-one?

Fantasy League Final Four picks have been locked in. What are some of your predictions and who should get the final rose? 

Rebecca: I have Peter, Alex, Bryan, and Kenny in my final four. I think all four of them are solid guys and seem to have good chemistry with Rachel. That being said, I think Bryan stands out from the other three. That first impression rose shows that he and Rachel really kicked it off from the beginning, and he seems to be staying pretty consistent as one of her favorites. I kind of wish I would have swapped out Alex for Dean, but I really didn’t like Dean for the longest time. He’s grown on me and I have a soft spot for him, and I think he has a decent chance of making it pretty far.

Patti: Peter, Dean, Bryan, and maybe Will? Although I’m just hoping to see more of him.

Alisa: I have Bryan, Dean, Josiah and Peter in my final four. I cannot stand Josiah but Rachel seems to like him. Even though it would hurt my bracket, I’d really like to see her kick him to the curb before hometowns. I also detest Bryan (seriously buddy, stop trying to eat her face off with each kiss!) but they definitely have a connection. I hope she ends up with either Dean or Peter because they both seem like pretty solid men.

Chelsea: It’s amazing how few contestants I care about this season. Peter, Bryan, and Dean seem like the only guys she’s super interested in based on screentime. Fantasy picks locked before I could swap Eric with Will or Kenny. I don’t see either of them winning but I like them both A LOT. There are so many guys this year that are either terrible or forgettable. Rachel deserves so much better.

Between Lee’s tweets and Paradise, the franchise has endured a lot of scandal this year. What are your thoughts as it moves forward? 

Rebecca: Obviously, I LOVE the drama, but I have mixed feelings concerning Lee and the DeMario/Corinne situation. Lee should never have been allowed on the show in the first place, and I feel bad for Rachel. I can’t imagine how she must feel now looking back at the roses she gave him, knowing the things he’s said about women and people of color.

As far as the Paradise scandal goes, obviously I’m glad that the video footage didn’t show the sexual assault people claimed happened. I would never wish something like that upon anyone. Sex between two intoxicated people is messy and confusing, and we’ll never know the whole story, but I sincerely hope Corinne is okay and that nothing happened. As a fan of the franchise, I’m glad ABC is moving forward with Paradise, but I hope that going forward, the production crew grows a conscious and steps in if anything questionable like that ever happens again.

Patti: Oof. I think I have to abstain from this question until more confirmed information is released, if it ever is. All I can say is, I think Rachel as the Bachelorette has elevated this show to a level they never dreamed it could go. And if they go backwards from here, I’m going to be very disappointed.

Alisa: I think drama is one thing, but words and actions that hurt other people is a whole different ball game and doesn’t belong on any "reality" show ever. Lee should never have been allowed anywhere near this franchise, and I definitely don’t buy the producers feigned ignorance about his racist, misogynistic social media posts. Y’all have interns for a reason. Use them to check that stuff. As for the Corinne/DeMario situation, it’s horrible and unfortunate either way. If she was sexually assaulted, the producers actions or lack thereof to stop it are unacceptable and heartbreaking. If she wasn’t assaulted, then the allegations and the statement she put out only serve to undermine the many real sexual assault victims out there in the world. I’m glad they did an investigation but I’m not entirely sure how much good an “internal” investigation does when clearly it’s in ABC/WB’s best interest to find that nothing happened.

Chelsea: Rachel is doing the Lord’s work this season and has brought so much class and intelligence to the franchise. I just hate what the show is putting her through. Lee should have NEVER been allowed in the mansion and the producers should be ashamed of themselves for letting him compete. It makes me weary of the edits they’re giving Kenny and Eric when they have a racist dude in the house antagonizing them.

As for the Paradise scandal, there is so much misinformation and conflicting reports of everything that’s happened. No matter what, I believe the show needs to really be more careful about consent and transparency with contestants and producers about what is happening.

Fantasy League Results:

  • Rebecca: 160 points
  • Chelsea: 130 points
  • Alisa: 90 points
  • Rae: 70 points

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wonder Woman Roundtable, Part 2: Battle of the Chrises [Contributors: Jenn, Julia, Anne, Jon, Deb, Marilyn, Megan, Erin, and Chelsea]

Earlier last weekend, the staff discussed what we loved about the Wonder Woman film. There was so much to love between the female-focused director and storyline, as well as the incredible performances. In part two of our roundtable, we'll discuss the supporting cast, as well as what we would like to see in a sequel.

Let's dive in!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Veep 6x09 Recap: "A Woman First" (The Lost Diary of Selina Meyer) [Contributor: Erin Allen]


“A Woman First”
Original Airdate: June 18, 2017

Did Selina free Tibet or did Tibet free Selina? Her only saving grace in her epic scandal is what Leon accurately described as “a fluke, a success despite an almost pathological level of incompetence.” She negotiated to free Tibet for purely selfish reasons, and now it is finally serving her as intended.

When Leon’s expose came out, I thought there was no way Selina would recover. Jaffar’s suggestion of leaving the country sounded pretty good. Selina was talking to her lawyers, and her staff was discussing the advantages of pleading guilty. Ben says, “I wouldn’t mind a little time in prison, get away from my wife; spend time with guys who get it.” No such luck for Ben, the news of Tibet overshadows all the horrible and sometimes illegal things Selina did while in office. This turnabout will also help the dismal reception of her book, A Woman First, which was ghost-written by Mike, so it needs all the help it can get.

This rollercoaster of an episode was so well done that the doom and gloom of such a catastrophe was silly and funny. Mike goes from being banished from Catherine’s brownstone, to damage control, to gleefully happy that he was an idiot and lost the diary in the first place. Amy narrowly escapes being sacrificed to Leon, and commiserates with a recently demoted Dan. I like Amy and Dan together in this capacity. The quick foray into a romantic possibility was comical, but I think they play best as friends who can relate to each other as well as tease one another relentlessly.

Speaking of Dan, he is content with his CBS digital platform spots until he sees himself on-screen in a taxi. He calls up Ben to tell him that he’ll join him and Kent (who was also recently fired by Jonah) as the Three Meyersketeers. Finally! I’ve waited all season for this. Jonah’s recent successes take a turn as his fiancee dumps him, he loses his financial support, and his uncle takes him off the congressional ballot. News which is not well received as he sits in the hospital recovering from his circumcision.

All of the changes and plot twists kept the episode moving which goes so well with its lightning-quick wit and barrage of one-liners. My favorite going to Selina berating Mike, “Why do you work for me, you stupid mustache?!” And second place to Peter MacNicol’s Uncle Jeff to Jonah, “You made the Hindenburg look like a normal, on-time blimp landing.” I guess I like when the biggest morons on the show get insulted. It was a very tight episode. So tight that it didn’t include President Montez’s reaction to Selina stealing back her Tibet praise. I really wanted to see the president and her team take that blow. She has been one-upping Selina since last season, and it would’ve been satisfying to see her knocked down a peg. Maybe next week in the season finale.

Meanwhile amidst the hubbub, Catherine is put on bed rest for her incompetent cervix. “Why should her cervix be any different from the rest of her?” She is drinking special uteran tea (which Selina accidentally drinks and vomits up) and being neglected by her mother. She is used as a fake emergency for Selina to back out of her Tonight Show commitment, and then has a real emergency about which Selina could not care less. And as a very pleasant surprise, Adam Scott plays the host of The Tonight Show. He bombards Selina with children reading bad reviews of her book as the credits roll.

Stray Observations:
  • Selina’s staff book inclusion stats: Amy is not mentioned until page 134. Gary is on page 93, “As Gary poured my tea, I realized the hostages, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.” Mike’s name doesn’t come up until page 213. “And I wrote the book.” Kent appears 12 times. Jonah isn’t mentioned once. “I ruined her administration, like, four times. You think that’d count for something.” Richard made it in the book, but “just the dedication.”
  • Jonah’s low office ceiling is all of us.  
  • Does Selina think that Johnny Carson still hosts The Tonight Show?
  • I could watch Selina and Marjorie interact forever and ever.
  • Jaffar is adorable. 
  • “The history books are being rewritten and this time it’s not Texas saying Satan made fossils.” 
  • Peter MacNicol as Uncle Jeff psychotically laughing at Jonah’s plight was a wonder to behold. Truly glorious.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

American Gods 1x08 Review: "Come to Jesus" (A Storm Breaks) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Come to Jesus"
Original Airdate: June 18, 2017

[Warning: The following review contains spoilers.]

It’s finale time for American Gods! I usually judge finales by how well they tie up all the loose ends, but I went into this show knowing that the first season was only going to cover roughly the first hundred pages of the book so I suspected the finale would just be littered with cliffhangers. To my pleasant surprise, American Gods manages to structure its first season finale in a way that provides closure on some key ideas and character arcs, even as it clears the storytelling path for future seasons.


We didn’t see how they arrived since last week’s episode was all about Mad Sweeney and Laura Moon, but “Come to Jesus” opens with Wednesday and Shadow sitting in a house while Mr. Nancy sews them some fancy suits. Old Anansi is more than just a tailor, though — his primary role is as a weaver of tales, not of cloth. Mr. Nancy entertains the impatient Wednesday and angry, confused Shadow with the story of a queen in ancient times, who was worshipped by many and was slowly forgotten.

It’s the story of Bilquis, the goddess of love who has spent this season longingly gazing at museum artifacts even though she seems to be getting all the prayers she should need from the people she takes to her bed. Bilquis’s arc — her journey from real belief when she was a queen, to the empty connections she makes through meeting up with people via dating apps — shows us a goddess’s fall from power and rise to a different, less satisfying power. Bilquis is worshipped, but not in the same way she was worshipped before. She has power, but it’s a parasitic power; it relies on the aid of the New Gods, which means the belief of her followers is siphoned off by another deity and she faces starvation despite constant consumption.

There’s an interesting thread of the fall of female power in Bilquis’s story, representative of the ancient worship of the feminine that was transformed into worship of the masculine over time. Bilquis wasn’t forgotten because people stopped knowing her, but because people were stopped from knowing her, stopped from worshipping queens like Bilquis and turned toward worshipping kings. She was a goddess of love, reduced and laid low by gods of war and conquest. And with femininity being such a crucial part of Bilquis’s existence, it’s really no wonder that the male Technical Boy providing her “lifeline” results in unfulfilling, empty worship that leaves her still wandering museums and thinking back on what used to be.

Mr. Nancy wraps up his story in a little bow for Shadow, who still doesn’t get it, by telling the two men to go get themselves a queen. The New Gods recruited a forgotten queen to their side, so it’s time for the Old Gods to do the same.


In his Bilquis story Mr. Nancy says, from the perspective of Bilquis, “So long as I’m still alive, I can adapt. I still know what I am.” The declaration is a core idea within all the Old Gods, who struggle to find the balance between adapting (which means survival) and changing (which means self-destruction). Vulcan adapted then changed, and was beheaded for it. Bilquis adapted then changed, and was forgotten for it. And then there is Easter, the goddess Ostara of springtime, rebirth, renewal, and the dawn, who seems to have brightly adapted to the fact that she now shares her day with Jesus in the modern era. It’s kinda easy for her, though, since Jesus — all the Jesuses, of which there are at least a dozen walking around Easter’s mansion in Kentucky — is a super nice guy. He even feels a little bad about stealing some of Easter’s thunder.

The suits Mr. Nancy made for Shadow and Wednesday are because the two of them needed to be adequately dressed for Easter’s stellar Easter celebration. Just when I don’t think I can love Shadow any more than I already do, he meets Easter and is instantly smitten with the effervescent Ostara (played by the effervescent Kristin Chenoweth) to the point where he’s all smiles and blushes whenever he talks to her. Easter and I both agree that it’s darling and Shadow is the actual best.

Wednesday’s goal is to recruit Easter to the side of the Old Gods, because even though she’s not exactly on the side of the New Gods (since her existence relies more on Christianity adopting her day than anything the New Gods have done for her, regardless of what Media says about it) she still denies needing anything more than what she already has. To get Easter on their side, Wednesday claims that Vulcan was killed by the New Gods after pledging his allegiance and forging a sword for him. She’s troubled, but she still isn’t ready to sign up for a war. Furthermore, she has a party to host and people keep showing up uninvited — people like Media and Technical Boy, and Laura and Mad Sweeney.

I originally thought that one of the Jesuses walking around the mansion was going to be the one Mad Sweeney wanted to resurrect Laura, but it turns out that Easter was the target all along. Unfortunately for Laura, Easter says that she can’t do anything to bring her back to life because she was killed by a god. After some severe intimidation from Laura, Mad Sweeney confirms that it was Wednesday who had Laura killed because Wednesday needed Shadow. Why did Wednesday need Shadow? No one seems to know except Wednesday, and I have a feeling he isn’t going to be upfront about that motivation any time soon.

An interesting aspect of American Gods is the lack of a clear-cut line between the “good” and “bad” gods. We’re introduced to the story on the side of the Old Gods and, even though most of us viewers are more likely to worship our smartphones than we are to worship Odin, we see the New Gods as the villains. Of course, it doesn’t help that Technical Boy is hideously unlikable and Mr. World is just odd — but Wednesday isn’t exactly the most upstanding or endearing individual either, since he recruits Easter under false pretenses and manipulates her from the second he sees her.

Wednesday is using Easter, just as he’s using Shadow, just as he used Mad Sweeney and he used Laura Moon. The New Gods stole their queen and Wednesday is stealing his, but the show uses Wednesday to add a veneer of custom, tradition, and glory to the Old Gods that makes them seem more genuine than the flashy New Gods. Wednesday is manipulating us, the viewers, the same as he’s manipulating the characters around him: by presenting us with a narrative that makes us rather believe in him over them. If anything, Wednesday’s recruitment of Shadow is just a way for him to further this long con because Shadow is, more than anyone else in this brewing battle, good. By aligning Shadow with himself, Wednesday reinforces the illusion of being on the honorable side of the fight, and we believe it.

On this show, ancient gods are as mercurial and shifting as they need to be to survive and keep their power, and this episode underlines their need to adapt without destroying themselves. If the Old Gods don’t want to adapt to the world, like Bilquis and Vulcan and Easter have tried to do, they must follow Wednesday’s path and force the world to adapt to them. Things happen, as Wednesday says, because gods make them happen — and gods happen because people want to know why things happen. The Old Gods just need to give humanity questions to ask and inspire wonder, then they can return humanity to the simpler worship they followed before, when Old Gods thrived.

The episode ends with Wednesday telling Shadow who he actually is: “I am called Glad-of-War, Grim, Raider, and Third. I am One-Eyed, I am also called Highest and True-Guesser. I am Grimnir and the Hooded One. I am All-Father, Gondlir, Wand-bearer. I have as many names as there are winds, as many titles as there are ways to die. My ravens are Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory, my wolves are Freki and Geri. My horse is the gallows. I am Odin.”

Wednesday — Odin — kills some faceless New God henchmen in the name of Ostara and, bolstered by the dramatic speech and the deaths in her name, Easter shows her own power by going old-school and taking Spring from the world around her. The people can have it back, says Wednesday, when they pray for it. After such a fantastic show of ability, Wednesday asks Shadow if he finally believes. Shadow says that he does. He believes everything.

The war between the gods has officially begun.

  • “More Mr. Nancy” is at the top of my list of things I want next season. “More Ricky Whittle being the best Shadow Moon that could ever be” is in second place, only because it’s pretty much a given.
  • Wednesday’s utter inability to understand the human perspective is still one of my favorite things about the character. Shadow is angry that he watched the guy cut off Vulcan’s head then dragged him off to get a suit and Wednesday’s response is “You’re getting one too!”
  • The Believe Buffalo returns to Shadow in this episode! Fitting, since this is the episode in which Shadow finally learns to believe.
  • For a second I thought a song and dance number was about to start when the faceless henchmen began marching around Easter. I wouldn’t put it past this show.

Summer Lovin’ -- Week 22

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Welcome back to another week of our Summer Lovin' Series! I don't know about you, but I'm enjoying the longer days and beach weather that comes during the summer. I'm also loving the opportunity to discover new shows, movies, and more! Joining me this week to talk about what they're lovin' are:

Let's begin!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Wonder Woman Roundtable, Part 1: The Hero 2017 Needed [Contributors: Jenn, Julia, Anne, Jon, Deb, Marilyn, Megan, Erin, and Chelsea]

Wonder Woman smashed through the box office recently (it was the highest ever U.S. opening weekend for a film directed by a woman), and continues to charm critics. Because here at Just About Write we have a lot of feelings (and embrace the mantra of #LadiesSupportingLadies), we decided to do a giant roundtable for you about the film. In fact, the roundtable was so long and well-articulated that we'll be splitting it up into parts. Check back for part two soon, but for now, enjoy our thoughts!

What was your reaction when you heard the DCEU was going to make a Wonder Woman film?

Jenn: I'm going to be honest — I haven't really been invested in DC-related content, apart from the television shows that air on The CW. But when I heard that there would be a Wonder Woman film, I was excited. I think I might be the only person on the face of the planet who didn't see her cameo in Batman v. Superman since I never watched the film. So getting the opportunity to be introduced to Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman in her feature film was pretty great.

Julia: When a Wonder Woman film truly was a go in 2015 with Patty Jenkins signed on to direct, I was very intrigued that a major studio would finally make a female-led superhero film. Naturally, the idea was very compelling, as the DCEU had yet to release a movie. Once I saw the trainwrecks of Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad last year, I had my qualms that a solo Wonder Woman film would work, even though Gal Gadot was the best part of BvS. However, all of my doubts were erased when the first trailer for Wonder Woman dropped. As each new trailer and clip were released, my anticipation grew and grew with the hopes that the DCEU had finally figured out what they were doing wrong and corrected their previous mistakes. Let’s just say that Wonder Woman definitely doesn’t disappoint and is the DCEU film that everyone has been waiting for.

Anne: I don’t have much of a resume when it comes to superhero movies because I think they have the potential to be so boring and trite. And such a huge reason I hold that opinion is the way women are handled in these movies. I saw The Avengers: Age of Ultron and even though Scarlett Johansson was cool(er than Hawkeye), that movie left so much to be desired for female characters. I was stunned at how willing they were to make her a love interest in a movie where she is an action character, and later irritated when toys were being made of the Avengers that didn’t include her. Where is her movie, by the way? So when I heard that there was going to be a Wonder Woman movie, I was happy — finally, you know what I mean? — but anticipated the worst.

Jon: I’d heard rumblings of a Wonder Woman film since 2007, when Joss Whedon was signed to write and direct, but nothing came to fruition. However, when it was announced back in 2015 that there would be another shot at bringing Wonder Woman to the big screen, I was hopeful but trepid. I was curious to see what Patty Jenkins would do with the source material and became more intrigued upon learning it was set in WWI — a rare background for any big budget tentpole blockbuster.

However, that intrigue was dampened considerably when Batman v. Superman AND Suicide Squad were released. If the quality of these two entries in the DCEU were THIS bad, then what is that going to spell for Wonder Woman? It can’t be that bad... could it?  Yet, when the film’s date began to get closer and closer, and early word started to leak out, my hope slowly began to return. When I walked out of the film, I was beaming. Not only was I ecstatic to witness DC’s return to form, but also getting to witness one of the best superhero films ever made.

Deb: I had such low expectations, honestly. The track record for DC’s cinematic universe producing movies that I felt captured the spirit of superheroes was so low that I just wrote them off entirely after Man of Steel. I didn’t feel an ounce of excitement at the idea of them tackling Wonder Woman because I just felt like they’d do what they did with all their other movies: bog it down with brooding angst and cynicism. That’s so very against what Wonder Woman is — but it’s also very against what Superman is, and they managed to make him a brooding angst-machine, so why would Wonder Woman be any different? I am incredibly glad that I was wrong.

Marilyn: “It’s about time!” I was really starting to think superhero stories were the domain of male characters, at least in the cinematic universes. Annoying. Mostly, I was glad for it. I was glad the story was being told because it was well past time and in the DC universe, Wonder Woman is a major character. She should have her own feature film.

Megan: I was thrilled, but I was ultimately extremely scared. I’m always worried about DC universe films because I think that Zack Snyder tries too hard to differentiate himself from the Marvel universe and DC television universe that it ends up being garbage. But then when I heard that he wouldn’t really have much to do with it and it would be a woman who took the story of Diana Prince seriously, I was over the moon. Once I heard them talk about it last year at SDCC, I was hooked.

Erin: I know next to nothing about the Marvel and DC universes. I wouldn't have been able to tell you which one Wonder Woman was in. I didn't even know she was from a comic book. I thought the Lynda Carter show was where it began. So, when I heard it was going to be a movie I thought it was cool, but chalked it up to being part of these superhero franchises that don't really interest me. It wasn't until I heard that Patty Jenkins was directing that I got excited. Any time a female director is behind something big, I get excited even if I'm not familiar with the story or source material.

Chelsea: I’m one of those people that has superhero film fatigue. I’ve only really loved the first two Captain America films and Thor as a character, but the rest just barely amuse or bore me. The DCEU is terrible and before Gal Gadot, Margot Robbie was the only thing keeping me there. Man of Steel was just a garbage fire and I have only bothered with the Wonder Woman scenes in Man of Steel. Her scenes gave me hope that she would do the character right. I had complete faith Patty Jenkins would be fine. Monster is a terrific film, and Jenkins has done some great television directing. Once I saw the San Diego Comic-Con footage last summer, I knew I was 100% on board. I was so tired of the basic white boy superhero film and all of them having the same story. I was so ready for a female story.


Wonder Woman was the highlight of Batman v. Superman for many last year. After seeing the film, what impression did her solo story leave you with?

Jenn: Like I said above, I never watched Batman v. Superman so I couldn't even tell you what her cameo was about in that film. But the solo story was incredible — it was exactly everything I could possibly want from an origin story film. It was fresh and fun, beautifully directed, and allowed us to follow Diana's journey with ease. The natural rise and fall of the action and plot was great. I didn't even mind that it was almost two and a half hours long because it didn't FEEL tedious (like, admittedly, so many films around Oscar season do). Even knowing next to nothing about Wonder Woman's origins (before the film I would have had no idea how to pronounce Themyscira), I was able to follow what was going on. Diana is incredible and I love her so much as a hero and a nuanced, layered female character. The only qualm is that there were far too many slo-mo action shots for my liking (I was burnt out on them this year because Arrow overused them too).

Julia: I honestly didn’t know much about Wonder Woman’s origin going into her solo film, so I was surprised with how her story is deeply intertwined with Greek mythology. However, I was upset with how the DCEU twisted the classic Greek mythology to fit their own needs without any regard for what Greek mythology actually means. Wonder Woman felt a lot like Captain America: The First Avenger because their origins are similar to a degree in the way they are told. I really enjoyed all of the action scenes, sans parts of the final battle between Wonder Woman and Ares, and thought that they were done very well (with the best sequence being the trenches of No Man’s Land scene).

The best part of Wonder Woman is that it is Gadot’s film and no one tries to take the lead away from her. She is a kick-butt warrior, and I wish more people would talk about how great she was instead of talking about the other characters. Wonder Woman is a great female-led superhero film and sets the bar high for the other DCEU films and all of the Marvel female characters — including the solo Captain Marvel film set for 2019 and Ant-Man and the Wasp set for 2018.

Anne: Well said. I guess for me, having little experience with superhero mythology, I thought that the story was entertaining but tonally clunky. I thought that Gal Gadot and Chris Pine were obnoxiously charming together, and I wish that the movie had held with the more lighthearted vibe it gave off for the movie’s first hour or so, especially because almost everything else in the movie was pretty paint-by-numbers. I honestly had no idea what World War that was supposed to be! In addition, the villain doesn’t ring especially true and doesn’t connect with Diana’s personal story as much as I would have liked. I did like how the story tied back to good and evil in a novel way — challenging Diana’s naivete — but the structure of the story is something I’ve seen a million times, which is why more consistent humor or a more personal story would have gone a long way.

Jon: I had only briefly dabbled in Wonder Woman’s backstory prior to viewing this (my only history being a couple of comics and Susan Eisenberg’s iconic take from the 2004 Justice League animated series), but as Julia said, I was surprised at how elements of Greek myths were woven throughout the tale. What pleasantly surprised me was that while the Greek myths were an aspect, they weren't THE aspect. Rather the focus was put more on the darkness of humanity itself: how we, as human beings, have an inner darkness within us, and how someone’s initial view of us can change over time. It’s a topic that I found rather welcoming in a superhero film, allowing you to think rather than having everything become “CGI EXPLODE FEST.”

After viewing Wonder Woman, I decided to go back and look at Diana’s scenes from BvS. I was rather surprised to discover they make WAY much more sense after seeing Wonder Woman. They actually give you a sense of how Diana reacts to humanity in the modern world, and what motivates her to join the fight again (even if the reasons are somewhat messy, but then again, so is the whole movie). Finally, this movie is Diana’s movie, and not once did it feel like the film ever strayed focus from that. Gal Gadot was born to play this role, and she embodies it to perfection.

Deb: Wonder Woman’s film captured the superhero soul of the character well in its tone and message, which is all I ever want from a superhero film — especially one involving the very archetypal characters of DC’s universe. I didn’t need another cynical take on the follies of man, or an agonized examination of how tragic it is to be a hero, or two hours of death and explosions. I wanted Wonder Woman as the Spirit of Truth, fears of corniness be darned. I wanted her to fight for the good she believed existed in mankind and to do so with the compassion and idealism I think has always existed at the core of the character. That’s what the movie gave me, and my only complaint about the message of the film is the use of romantic love as the primary motivation at the end. But even that is a very minor personal complaint. Overall, I got the impression that the people involved in Wonder Woman actually understood the character, and I think that’s the most critical thing for a superhero movie.

Marilyn: I really tried to like Batman v. Superman, I really did. But it was just so dull. Like you said, Wonder Woman was a rare (and all too brief) breath of fresh air in that clatter-trap of a film. I guess that’s why I had no preconceptions of her solo story going into Wonder Woman. I expected to see her learn how to be a hero and, basically, that’s what I got. But her origin was so much more than most male-driven superhero stories. The focus felt a lot more organic, a lot more compelling and a lot more relatable in a real-world environment. Diana felt like a real person and as such it was so much easier for me to relate to her motivations and care about the outcomes.

Megan: Oh, God. She was the only saving grace of that film other than the quick shot we got of Jason Momoa as Aquaman. Her origin story was so absolutely enthralling. Diana came from the Amazons, a group of amazing women that were warriors and didn’t feel like they were missing out on anything by living without men. Like, they live without men and it’s a great life. That’s such a fantastic thing, if you ask me. And Diana has no problem taking on anything. Her origin story is majorly important for girls of any age to see!

Erin: Err, I didn't see Batman v. Superman, but I kind of want to because I love Diana Prince now, and more of her in anything sounds good to me.(Although, what I'm hearing from all of you, maybe not.) Wonder Woman is my first experience with her story, and I thought it was pretty great. I didn't have any preconceived notions or expectations about her origins. As a newbie going in fresh, it was super entertaining and engaging.

Chelsea: Like I mentioned above, I only watched Diana’s scenes of BvS and not the whole film. I couldn’t handle that three-hour nightmare. I was filled with joy the entire duration of this film, however. It was the same feeling I got after seeing Rey in The Force Awakens. Every moment of it worked for me and it didn’t feel like 2 hours and 21 minutes. I left and immediately wanted to go back inside. Sure, it was a lot like Captain America: The First Avenger meets the fish-out-of-water of Thor, but again, I love that film and that character, so it all worked for me. Just watching those island scenes with the other Amazons and seeing how powerful they were was thrilling. Everyone else was great in the film but Diana is such a shining star. Gal Gadot was right in saying that the film is about love — how one person can love humanity so much and want to do everything in her power to make it better, no matter the sacrifice. We do not deserve Diana Prince.
Stay tuned for the second part of our roundtable review later this week!