Monday, August 7, 2017

Series: Summer Lovin’ -- Week 26

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We're finally back, friends! Apologies that we've been on a bit of a hiatus, but life has been a bit insane for your friendly editor-in-chief lately. Nevertheless, we've returned to talk about what we're lovin' this week. Whether it's a new single we're jamming out to, a re-watch of a television series or more, there's a lot to love. Joining me this week are:

Let's get started!

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What Jenn’s lovin’: Re-watching How I Met Your Mother

Why she’s lovin’ it: I’ll be the first person to admit that I put How I Met Your Mother in the freezer (yes, that’s a Friends reference in a post about another show) for years after the series finale. My roommate at the time was genuinely concerned that I was going to throw something through the television as the final moments of the series unfolded, much to my disgust and dismay. I couldn’t even watch re-runs on television because its ending had colored the rest of the series for me.

But recently, I’ve finally gathered up the strength and stamina to attempt a re-watch of the series, beginning in an especially odd place. I was looking for something to watch to make me laugh one afternoon and realized that “Subway Wars” and the few episodes that followed it were available to stream on my cable service. So I watched. I love the premise of “Subway Wars” and I was, much like the gang, in desperate need of a win that day. So I cozied up for a few more episodes with these weird and wonderful people and, since then, have made my way into season eight of the show.

I think that in spite of how angry I am at the finale, and always will be, there are good things about How I Met Your Mother that I overlooked in my bitter disappointment with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. Some episodes are deeply silly, while others are incredibly profound. In re-watching “Last Words,” I found myself sobbing just like I had the first time I watched. The characters are immensely broken — even Marshall and Lily, who seem like the most sane most episodes — and there’s something frustrating in that, but also comforting. I’m at the point in my life in which I look at Ted and realize that he’s got a ton of flaws, but that also he’s broken in a lot of the ways that I am. We’re both desperate to find “the one,” and keep putting ourselves out there to try and find it — sometimes in the wrong places.

It’s weird that this is the perfect time in my life to re-watch How I Met Your Mother. There’s some comfort in reminding myself that it’s okay to not be okay and still struggling to figure out who I am and what I want to do with my life way into my twenties, approaching my thirties. Even though I probably will never re-watch the series finale before I start back at the beginning again, I’m happy I’ve given the show a chance to be watched after a trial separation.

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What Ashvini’s lovin’: “New Rules” by Dua Lipa

Why she’s lovin’ it: “One: don’t pick up the phone — ya know he’s only calling ‘cause he’s drunk and alone. Two: don’t let him in — you’ll have to kick him out again. Three: don’t be his friend — you know you’re gonna wake up in his bed in the morning. And if you’re under him, then you ain’t gettin’ over him. ... I got new rules: I count ‘em.”

Dua Lipa, the lovely British pop sensation taking the world by storm with her sultry, deep vibrato and words of wisdom, insists in her summer hit that the above rules should be rinsed and repeated as much as much possible. So you can ultimately ditch the guy who you can’t quite shake, that is.

Everything about this bop-the persistent beat, the honest lyrics, and the unstoppable force of Dua Lipa’s voice-are addictive. And to me, it’s a musical display of the best parts of female friendships; the support, the protectiveness, the sympathy, and the way we fight for each other and with each other. All of it, and the vitality of female self-worth, are displayed in the song but in the now-famous music video as well. Not only is it very diverse, but also shows her friends supporting her in the struggle to distance herself from the guy this song warns about. There’s a moment in the video where Dua Lipa makes for the door, in an attempt to go meet up with the guy she’s trying to avoid. But, a friend stops her and puts a hand on her shoulder, walking her back, in a show of solidarity. It’s a small gesture, but focused and mindful nonetheless.

My favorite parts of the video include scenes of Dua Lipa and her friends doing each other’s hair, makeup, and literally leaning on each other for strength, while they’re all seemingly going through the same struggle. Toward the end, they strut in an impressive formation poolside, fabulously dressed, all sporting the most sensationally determined expressions.

What’s evident is that no matter how much they love a guy, they love themselves the most and they’re ready to stop the romantic chaos from ensuing. Further, after watching the video for the first time, and listening to the song for the first time, I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t center around a guy, actually. Traditionally, I’m sure it would have been otherwise; listen to any Nancy Sinatra song.

Instead, I believe that the song centers around the strength women my age find in their deepest friendships, when they reach out to each other in times of need. Wherever, whenever, we’ll be there for each other, especially when it comes to getting away from a toxic energy. Really, this song is all about dependability, self-love, and self-growth; it celebrates the positivity that only those who care about you bring out, even when you feel heartbroken.

And that relatability floors me.


What Deb’s lovin’: Rick and Morty

Why she’s lovin’ it: About two years ago, I got four episodes into Rick and Morty before I lost access to the friend-of-a-friend Hulu account I was using (what can I say, streaming services weren’t in my budget) and couldn’t finish up what was available back then. I’m sure I could have contacted my friend to get the Hulu information again, but that would have required asking for favors and on my list of “Stuff I Would Rather Not Do” I put that sort of thing on the same level as making dental appointments and sending official work emails. So, I just didn’t watch Rick and Morty, even though I found the episodes I actually did see pretty funny and I would have liked to have watched the rest, and — confession time! — I sort of just went on pretending to understand Rick and Morty references whenever people made them. The secret is nodding and laughing, then changing the subject.

And then access to the whole series fell into my hands again this past week. Not wanting to waste my second chance, I quickly binge-watched all available episodes and thoroughly enjoyed the show as a nice bit of post-work entertainment. Rick and Morty manages to implement a mix of ridiculous throwaway gags, impressively tracked continuity, and, occasionally, genuine heart — all of which surprised me as a person who only knew the first four episodes and whatever information I’d gleaned through all the nodding and laughing during conversations. I like the characters of Rick and Morty. I like the weird humor and bizarre hijinks. I like that the writers and creators of the show have put actual effort into the establishment of this universe and the growth of these characters, no matter how random and puerile the whole show might seem at first glance. It’s very loud, very busy, and I still don’t quite know if Rick is a complete sociopath or not, which is frustrating — but it’s a show I’m more than happy to watch on a weekly basis now.

Also, I like that I can recognize the occasional reference — direct or merely a shared element of comedic spirit — to my favorite show with Dan Harmon’s fingerprints all over it, Community. That’s completely unrelated to the quality of the show but, you know... I enjoy it.

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What Jon's lovin': Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later

Why he's lovin' it: "Make it your beeswax to be here by 9:30."

With that simple line at the end of 2001's Wet Hot American Summer, a promise was made: to (hopefully) catch up with these wacky characters ten years older, and see what's changed, and what's not changed.

16 years (and one prequel series) later, that promise has finally been fulfilled with Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later, the delightful follow-up to 2015's First Day of Camp, and the original 2001 cult classic.

The show picks up in the summer of 1991, on the last day of camp at Camp Firewood. The gang from the Summer of '81 are all back for their ten year reunion, with their lives drastically different: Katie (Marguerite Moreau) is VP of a fashion cosmetics company, J.J. (Zak Orth) runs an alternative movie store, Victor (Ken Marino) is still a virgin, Lindsay (Elizabeth Banks) is a news reporter, McKinley (Michael Ian Black) and Ben have a child, Susie (Amy Poehler) is a big-time actress, Andy (Paul Rudd) is... still Andy, and lovable Coop (series co-creator Michael Showalter) is an author, though he's having trouble finding an ending to his "defining memoir of the 90s."

During the reunion, the former campers deal with growing up, reigniting old loves and grudges, and contending with former President Ronald Reagan (Showalter), and current president George H.W. Bush (Black).

If you're a fan of the first two installments, you'll definitely enjoy this latest entry (and if you have not seen the other entries, stop reading this and go watch them immediately. I'll wait). The best way I can describe this miniseries is if David Wain and Michael Showalter made St. Elmo's Fire, but way more insane. While the series' often winking and meta humor remains intact, there's a certain maturity shown this time around. These characters are finally given the chance to grow up, and to see them be confronted with their past actions, as well as their own futures, is rather fascinating.

Of course, this being a Wet Hot American Summer product, there's so many brilliant jokes and gags to be found, and the cast looks like they're having a ball with each other (Skyler Gisondo and even Jai freaking Courtney are major stand-outs here).

But by far the best joke has to involve Bradley Cooper's character Ben. Cooper, who starred in the first two iterations, is noticeably absent here due to scheduling conflicts. However, in a rather brilliant twist, Adam Scott takes over Cooper's role, explaining that Ben had to get a deviated septum fixed.

Scott is absolutely game here, as he, Michael Ian Black, and Alyssa Milano deliver what might be one of the most insane subplots this show has produced. Also, Scott being here gives Parks and Recreation fans the Leslie/Ben reunion they never knew they wanted.

Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later is a perfect wrap-up to this story that began 16 years ago. It brings every character full circle, and delivers an excellent conclusion to this unexpected trilogy.

What are you lovin' this week? Sound off in the comments below and let us know!


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