Archive for September, 2009

There’s Nothing Ironic About Show Choir

September 29, 2009

I’ve been uncharacteristically sparing in adding new shows to my packed tv schedule, but the best addition so far has been Glee, which is pretty much designed to appeal to my sensibilities as a music theatre enthusiast. The musical numbers are fantastic and many are hilariously ill-suited to high school, like Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” or Kanye’s “Gold-Digger,” but the classics like West Side Story also make an appearance. The biggest thing that brings me out of the show (for others it’s the football inaccuracies or having musical numbers at all, which, btw, I think is ridiculous. If you’ve already suspended your disbelief that people talk to each other while simultaneously facing the audience and men are wearing makeup it seems inane to draw the line at bursting into song) is the characters’ insistence that Rachel and Finn are the only really talented members of the Glee Club when clearly ALL of them are excellent singers. It’s basically the musical version of tv ugly or tv fat: crack on one note at the end of a song and suddenly you’re not a talented singer. Though, on reflection, that’s certainly better than listening to 42 minutes people singing off key.

The show is not without its faults, though. I think it’s pretty evenly divided between an interesting story about kids and a stupid story about adults (Kurt’s dad from the most recent episode excepted, but that was about a kid anyway).

The kids all seem to have some depth and a lack of Mary Sue-ism that I like. Rachel is the kid most music theatre fans would most easily identify with– very talented, an outsider, plans for the future. But she’s also really selfish and rude and hurtful to everyone lower on the social totem pole than she is, and she got their old Glee teacher fired on somewhat trumped up charges of inappropriate touching, which seemed easy to believe as he was gay.

Similarly Kurt could be a gay, closeted stereotype, but it seems like the only person he wasn’t out to is his dad. Last week he easily came out to a friend, and he doesn’t seem to be desperately trying to not be gay. The old Glee teacher, on the other hand, is a ridiculous stereotype. He might as well be wandering around the set randomly generating gay phrases about Fosse hands and window treatments.

Quinn was likeable and sympathetic in this last episode, she had her own plans for future involving getting out of the town which pregnancy ruined. Her choice to pin it on Finn seemed to be about what’s best for her baby, not just what’s best for her.

The adults on the other hand… not so great. It’s patently obvious that Will and Emma need to get together, and it’s only the craaaazy manipulative wife who’s keeping them apart. Which is completely boring and unnuanced, and I’m not exactly stoked about another will they or won’t they.

My only real concern going forward (I LOVE this show, btw) is that there’s a real element of “women are the WORST.” Must we really have both male leads be manipulated by their partners with pregnancies that are, in some way faked? Is that all women do when you’re in a relationship: lie to you and try to take your money? Are we really supposed to have no sympathy for Will’s wife, a woman whose husband obviously has one foot out the door? Are we supposed to think Quinn is a bitch for cheating on Finn, but that Finn is just with the wrong woman when he cheats on Quinn with Rachel?

I hope for better from this show, which has proven itself to be clever and sweet, and misogyny is anything but clever.

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Stay out of it, Nick Lachey

September 27, 2009

One of my favorite things to notice on tv shows is when people from real life are involved with fictional characters in some way, because for me, in a weird way it becomes part of their biography. Most recently I was reminded by Kevin Smith’s appearance on the season four finale of Degrassi, in which he becomes somewhat involved with Caitlyn Ryan, but my favorite examples are, unsurprisingly, from my most cherished trashy network: the CW.

Last season on One Tree Hill, Nick Lachey came to town and it was revealed he had had a total tabloid fodder relationship with Brooke Davis during the skipped years. What would Vanessa Minnillo think if she knew?

Now on Gossip Girl, an inexplicably lower rated show despite the fact that it’s actually, you know, good, Lily van der Woodsen made a sex list for Rufus, and it contained some famous faces, including Trent Reznor. Mmmmm.

Inexplicably not on the list, but we know it from the first season, is that one of Lily’s former conquests is French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

I would give wikipedia a shiny dollar if these facts were included in their bios. You know, personal life: “once linked to utterly FABULOUS socialite, Lily van der Woodsen!” But I guess wikipedia doesn’t get that excited about things.

Euchre and the Faux Canadian

September 26, 2009

So I’m from one of the only other places than Alaska in the US that can legitimately call Canada “our neighbors to the south.” Which just means that lots of things that apply to Canadians, also apply to me: calling soda “pop,” funny vowels (Canadian raising if you’re fancy), and the incessant playing of euchre the way I think people in the rest of the country play poker.

I was pretty amused by the Degrassi episode “Queen of Hearts” in which Ellie learns a little something about trusting your partner when she plays in a high stakes euchre game with Alex. Ellie, it seems, is a euchre savant, winning big and making everyone marvel at her skill, but the big win comes when she has to let Alex go it alone.

The problem is (and I gather this is a problem for poker players with tons of plots about the great gamblers), Ellie’s hands are too good to display any real skill on her part. In one hand, someone ELSE called spades and she had both jacks, ace, king, queen. What was the other person calling based on? Crazy!

Flugelhorns and Palestine

September 25, 2009

Safe Words were the word of the week on tv this week. (I know this will shock you, readers, but I watch a lot of tv and therefore tend to be attuned to trends that come up. For another example, on last week’s Project Runway and this week’s Top Chef there were subplots of the contestant who seems cool until you learn she’s a motormouth.)

Michael Scott on The Office asks Oscar if he should plan to have a safety word for his colonoscopy, and Robin and Barney on How I Met Your Mother reveal that their safety word is flugelhorn.

Of course, the greatest conversation about safety words ever on tv was Bree’s on Desperate Housewives, season 1. After Rex is caught with a dominatrix, Bree, GGG wife that she is, decides to give it a try. Rex explains safety words to her and explains that he’s been using “Philadelphia.” (How wise is it to remind your wife, at a time like this, that you’ve been stepping out and have established this sort of thing? Not very, I’d say.) Bree is all, “My aunt lives in Philadelphia, I don’t want to think of this when I talk to her, how about Boise?” Rex counters that Boise sounds too silly, and they need a word that sounds serious. Bree’s face becomes deadly serious as she intones: “Palestine.”

Sometimes it’s hard to tell what ideas are on tv because they’re shocking, and which are common cultural currency. Do I think that more and more are openly doing dominance and submission things in reality-land? Sure, I mean, Cosmo basically calls you a prude if you’re not at least into trying someone up or being tied down; on the other hand, I think most people are probably still having the sort of sex that can be stopped with a serious, “No. This isn’t fun.”

But I’m no sociologist, just a tvologist, so don’t take my word for. Conduct surverys at your Office. Overshare with strangers and press them for the details of their bedroom life, I’m sure they’ll appreciate it.

Sex Bracelets

September 24, 2009

I just watched the awesomeful season four episodes of Degrassi in which Emma Nelson starts giving head to Jay for jelly bracelets and contracts gonorrhea of the throat. At the end of the episode she has a big showdown with Manny about whether or not it’s ethical for her to kiss the other lead in the school play when you have gonorrhea. But then he tells her there aren’t enough antibiotics to make it ok and that he hopes he didn’t catch it from the kiss the day before. I… am pretty sure you can’t get gonorrhea from kissing.

And I know that Degrassi is hardly a documentary about life today, but the jelly bracelet thing is like, so parental panic. I’m sure that the number of teenagers who have actually done this is in the negative numbers. I remember a few years ago the Altantic Monthly had an article about “rainbow parties” in which teenage girls would don different colors of lipstick before Serenaing the same guy’s Dan, leaving rainbow rings on his throbbing, pulsating manhood. (Which I just think… what precise and tidy blow jobs are these…)

Doostyn informed me that Miriam McDonald, the actress who plays Emma was also in a Lifetime movie, She’s Too Young, about this very issue! (Hilariously, he misremembered the title as 16 and Slutty.) Way to be the face of teen throat gonorrhea, Emma!

The comments on IMDB, btw, are priceless. Among my favorites:

Long story short? No one likes Hannah anymore and she whines about it to geeky-but-adorable-male-photographer-friend over an instant messenger where the screen names are the people’s names and a few numbers. I think I recall ‘grrl’ being in one of them. She later sneaks over to his house, where he reveals a frighteningly stalkerish amount of pictures of her hanging everywhere.

Rather than running away, she leans over and kisses him. They proceed to make out, and she unbuttons her shirt (but is wearing a tank top underneath, because she’s still good somewhere inside!). She straddles him, and goes for his pants, but is stopped by the Moral Speech of the Movie. Such gems as ‘We have the rest of our lives to do this,’ and ‘We don’t even know what we want!’ are dropped. Hannah gets off of him and leaves, but not before screaming the best line of the movie: ‘YOU JUST DON’T LOVE ME BECAUSE I HAVE SYPHILIS!’ She goes to a party, where she is informed that one of her slutty blonde friends is in the basement. Some random sketchy guy proceeds to attempt to rape her, but fails when geeky-but-adorable-yet-prudish-male-photographer-friend-with-benefits steps out of the shadows, brandishing his CAMERA PHONE! He then utters the second-best line of the movie: ‘If you don’t stop, I’ll send this picture straight to 9-1-1.’ Because 9-1-1 has text messaging services.

The moral of the movie? Peer pressure gives you syphilis, and would-be rapists can be deterred by absolute nonsense. 8/10.

And then this gem:

If this is supposed to be a somewhat educational film, then someone should have informed LifeTime that syphilis is a bacteria NOT A VIRUS. When the nurse was vaccinating the students she kept telling them the shot would cure their virus. Way to teach kids about STD’s.

I wish these things were on Lifetime when I’m at my parents, all I ever get to see are dumbshit wedding shows.

Aim Higher, Marissa Cooper; audience of O.C.

September 20, 2009

Doostyn: “I am not going to use my alcoholism as blackmail to save my marriage”
I feel like the o.c. has gotten a little nutty, i’m watching the end of the 3rd season.
Gnatalby: Heh. Yeah, the OC’s fall from grace is remarkably fast.
Doostyn: Everyone is just being a fucking idiot all the time to create drama. I hate when soaps create dramatic tension that way. Like i kind of like it when melrose does it, but that’s b/c melrose is bad, so i’m watching it expecting that. The o.c. is good and well written, it’s sad to see it like this.
Gnatalby: I know. it’s crazy. Do you recognize kaitlyn cooper? She was jenny humphrey’s friend agnes, the model who burned her crap.
Doostyn: Oh i didn’t notice that. I think you told me that though. She wasn’t on very many eps this season. Is she back for the 4th?
Gnatalby: Yes. She’s like… ambiguously evil. Like SLAT, which is a comparison you never want to have made, the OC has a hard time being consistent about how popular its characters are. Like, kaitlyn at one point is like: “Now that marissa is gone, I will rule the school!” And I’m like, “Expelled alcoholic trailer trash dating marissa ‘ruled the school?'”
Doostyn: Yeah what school? Harbor? Marissa was pretty unpopular there. I hate kirsten now too. She’s just irritating, and I used to like her.
Gnatalby: But wasn’t she hilare drunk at caleb’s memorial?
Doostyn: Yeah i liked drunk kirsten. But recovering alcoholics are never as good as their previous selves.
Gnatalby: I liked that julie’s plan to off caleb was poisoned margars.
Doostyn: Even julie is boring now, dating summer’s dad. Uh oh, ryan atwood is about to get in a fight, surprise surprise.
Aaaaand punch number one. Ooo furniture breaking! (he’s beating up… worschack is it?)
(trashy guy who stole prom after party money from taylor)
Gnatalby:I thought it was volchak, but I could totally be wrong.
Doostyn: Oh is worshack like on some other show from the 70s?
Gnatalby: I kind of forget what all happens
Doostyn: i think that might be my confusion
Gnatalby: It’s funny because at some point the kids all arrange for marissa and ryan to bone, allegedly for the first time, and I was like “Uh… whaaaaaaat?” Like, the fact that the kids on the show treat marissa and ryan as the super couple when clearly summer and seth are better is just baffling.
Doostyn: Yeah marissa and ryan are not a great couple. Like i don’t even care what breaks them up any more. summer and seth breaking up at the end of season 3 b/c of the college acceptance non acceptance thing was sort of dumb and obvious and tore them apart for no reason, but i was way more compelled than by the numerous times ryan’s fists go a-flailing for marissa’s honor.
Gnatalby: Totally
Doostyn:I think a lot of it is because marissa sucks
Gnatalby: I loathe her so much
Doostyn:But mischa barton is at least a terrible actress, so it can be fun to watch.
Gnatalby: and I can’t believe she’s the star of another show. Who watched the OC and thought: yes, she can carry a show.
Doostyn: Yeah what show is that? Something about models…
Gnatalby: the beautiful life
Doostyn: Yeah i am not going to watch that b/c it has her. I think lots of fans of the o.c. would feel the same way.
Gnatalby: The only thing to love about marissa is her alcohol problem.
Doostyn: When she prevented the rape in the van at volchak’s party i was like “ok, that’s cool,” but then when she broke up with him she was like “I always wanted to be a disney princess” or some bullshit… rather than “Some guys were going to rape a girl at your party douchenozzle.”
Gnatalby: Oh no, it’s better than that… she says she wants to be Liesel and have a guy like Ralph, who is, BTW a NAZI.
Doostyn: Oh yeah!!! Sound of music! Hahhahahha, I didn’t even think of that.
Gnatalby: Like, way to aim high.
wait… who was trying to rape whom?
Doostyn: Some random dudes were trying to rape some random drunk floozy and friend of volchak’s named heather i think after an all day party where marissa wakes up drinking a beer (which is also kind of awesome).
Gnatalby: Totally. I love tv alcoholics though sometimes I become concerned by how little they drink, compared to say, us. But not on the OC, where kirsten coolly drinks like 8oz of vodka at a time. Like allison on the ‘place, kirsten should look into mixers.
Doostyn: Bree drinks a fair amount i guess, according to lynette’s shame parade of her bottles. Although in that scene i remember being like “How much time do those bottles cover…” which then made me think “is that the normal reaction most people have or do they just think, yep, a CLEAR alcoholic.”
Gnatalby: Heh, right. I mean, IIRC it was like, 12 bottles, which didn’t seem thaaat bad to me. Unless it was like, two days. But if it was like, a couple of weeks?
Doostyn: Ok time for vh1 divas. i’m glad paula abdul is able to embarrass herself on anther venture
Gnatalby: Some show recently featured a paula abdul dream sequence involving paula being surprisingly harsh. Unless I dreamed that…. why can’t I remember? oh, right, drop dead diva. thank god I didn’t make that up. all my tv runs together
Doostyn: Oh god she’s a mess. There are men carrying her up stairs which is not a dance move. just laziness/
Gnatalby: That’s like my 21st b-day. And every subsequent birthday.
Doostyn: and she was lurching like a mad/drunk/pilled up woman towards the crowd. I was a little frightened she was going to plunge into them.
Gnatalby: Awesome. Maybe it’s best that paula leaves the walking to others.
Doostyn: yeah she’s really good at being carried. She should stick with it. Ok so she’s like “I’m paula abdul and THIS IS NOT AMERICAN IDOL!!!!” Then immediately follows with: “I’m so proud of MY kelly clarkson. and MY jennifer hudson. and MY jordin sparks.” and then: “I practically breast fed them!”
Gnatalby: Who is proud of jordin sparks?? And HA. Can you imagine what would happen to you if you breast fed from paula?
Doostyn: The jonas brothers are proud of getting beejamers while on tour with jordin sparks in the erotica i write. You would be so high. It might be nice. I’m not saying i would drink paula abdul’s breast milk, but i might consider a synthetic version.

You Heard it Here First: Michael Mancini Drinks the Blood of Virgins

September 18, 2009

Michael has been all over tv lately, and the dude is looking deeeeelicious. He’s obviously on the new Melrose, and he plays Rebecca Logan’s cheating senatorial father on Greek. Michael explains friendship to Rebecca in what I can only hope is a callback to Melrose (but I’m only up to season 5’s first half) but it certainly seems like it could be:

Michael: I had a best friend once. But I lured him into a Ponzi scheme and bankrupted him and then I slept with his wife. I was a bad man Becky.

Doostyn saw MM on some daytime show and apparently he attributes his good looks to yoga. But I think we ALL know there is a supernatural element.

Watching Mad Men Through my Fingers

September 17, 2009

Mad Men was so hard to watch this week, and it probably deserves better attention from me, but I happen to be up freakishly early thanks to Jet Lag and a cold. Boo.

When Pete demands that Hollis discuss his television in the elevator, it’s an extremely uncomfortable viewing of privilege. Damn, Pete, you can’t just demand the right to interrogate Hollis just because you feel like it! Except, of course, you can. This scene had an echo for me later when Betty’s friend says they should have “forced” Carla to stay. I can quite get a handle on how the Drapers are about race, compared with their peers. I mean, they’re far from perfect, obviously, I think most of us remember Betty Scarlett O’Haraing with the maid at her Dad’s house. But Betty just responds that Carla has her own family and deserved some time off, which seemed like more than a lot of people would do. (See: Pete.)

I also flashed back to the first ever episode when Don did basically the exact same thing Pete does with the busboy at the bar and his brand of cigarettes, only Don does it much more smoothly. I’m aware that as a viewer I was more comfortable with Don’s questioning. Is that only because he did it more smoothly? Is this the difference between Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush? Both bad people, one just looks less embarrassing doing it?

The part that really hit me was Betty’s labor scene. January Jones acted the hell out of that and good for her. It was so upsetting to see her shackled to bed, crying, and being spoken of like she wasn’t even there. It made me understand for the first time why my mother, and so many women my mother’s age went for all natural child-birth. Coming from the future I was all, “Whatevs, an epidural is no big deal.” But this twilight sleep thing is a big, traumatic, terrible deal. I couldn’t believe how dehumanized Betty was, even to the nurses, and how disturbing to “wake up” and just have a baby in hand. No wonder Betty is fucked up, she’s done this three times now.

Tv is back! Tv is back!

September 16, 2009

Summer is no longer the seasonal death of tv like back in my callow youth; some of my favorite shows (Mad Men, True Blood) are summer shows. But there’s still an undeniable excitement about the fall schedule returning. I’m open to suggestions for what new shows I should pick up. So far I’m seized upon Glee and I give it the highest recommendation for those who enjoy music theatre. Like Jennifer Coolidge, Jane Lynch has the magical touch for elevating the written material, not that the Glee scripts need as much help as SLAT’s.

Now, perhaps I’m just afflicted by jet-lag from that trans-atlantic flight I was on an hour ago, but Dan Scott, on the One Tree Hill premiere seems to have traded in his arson and fratricide toolboxes in favor of life as a televangelist. It’s OTH, so it will find a way to alchemize gold into boring, but like Charlie Brown and the football, I can’t help but get excited.

OMFG! GG Chat!

September 15, 2009
eww
why is the van der hump
into vanessa?
I hope it’s just a scheme
granted, he’s half humphrey
but he’s also half lily
5:28pmDustin
nice one
did you get all that i typed to you?
ethnic love spell?
5:28pmNatalie
NO
5:28pmDustin
proletariat skank?
that business?
damn
5:29pmNatalie
I just got “nice one”
5:29pmDustin
i hate facebook chat
5:29pmNatalie
me too
5:29pmDustin
i was going to record our convo for the blog
5:29pmNatalie
feel free
5:29pmDustin
ok i’ll try to retype
clearly vanessa exudes an ethnic love spell/stench that renders boys bad decision-makers
5:30pmNatalie
hee
5:30pmDustin
let us not forget chuck’s indiscretion with our little proletariat skank
5:30pmNatalie
although… is vanessa “ethnic?”
5:30pmDustin
is what i believe i typed
5:31pmNatalie
ugh, that was the worst
5:31pmDustin
oh working class
before ethnic
and i assumed
is she not?
5:31pmNatalie
blair should never be in the same fuck bracket at vanessa
5:31pmDustin
i thought that’s why dan found her interesting, at least partially
b/c he’s so ‘different’ like that
5:31pmNatalie
I don’t know
5:31pmDustin
and from brooklyn
5:32pmNatalie
hmmm possibly jewish
her last name is Abrams
5:32pmDustin
oh yeah that’s not very ethnic-y
i thought she wasn’t white
although with this cast it’s hard to say
5:32pmNatalie
was vanessa bleating about hannukah at christmastime?
5:32pmDustin
what a not white person is
5:32pmNatalie
heh
5:32pmDustin
got her bleats all run together for me…
er, god
5:32pmNatalie
true
why is blair in this repulsive hat?
5:33pmDustin
i don’t know why she’s hiding her face
5:33pmNatalie
I know
it’s like a glorious sunbeam of cunning
5:34pmDustin
that hat looks like it belongs on an old lady, it’s all limp like it’s been worn by one for dozens of years too
5:34pmNatalie
wait… the jockey
is named… Nacho?\
I find that so offensive
5:34pmDustin
are you saying you didn’t enjoy the film nacho libre
for that reason
5:34pmNatalie
hee
5:34pmDustin
b/c you really should look past the cover of books natalie
5:35pmNatalie
otherwise it was precisely my sort of filmD
Doostyn: so vanessa has almost-dreads…guess she spent her summer not showering
maybe that’s what you do when you’re a brooklynite
Gnatalby:  so gross
Chair’s [Chuck+Blair] love game seems problematic
Doostyn: maybe for those who are in it
for those who are watching it’s just fine
better than fine
it produces slobbering contement not unlike having a labotomy
a sexy labotomy
Gnatalby:  too true
eww
why is the van der hump [Lily and Rufus’ kid, half Lily Van der Woodsen, half Rufus Humphrey] into                                        vanessa?
I hope it’s just a scheme
Doostyn:  clearly vanessa exudes a working class ethnic love spell/stench that renders boys bad decision-makers
let us not forget chuck’s indiscretion with our little proletariat skank
Gnatalby:  ugh that was the worst
Blair should never be in the same fuck bracket as Vanessa
is vanessa “ethnic”?
Doostyn:  i assumed
is she not?
i thought that’s why dan found her interesting, at least partially
b/c he’s so ‘different’ like that
and from brooklyn
Gnatalby:  I don’t know
hmmm…possibly jewish?
her last name is Abrams
Doostyn:  oh yeah, abrams, that’s not very ethnic-y
i thought she wasn’t white
although with this cast it’s hard to say
what a not white person is
Gnatalby:  was vanessa bleating about hannukah at christmastime?
Doostyn:  god her bleats all run together for me…
Gnatalby:  true
why is blair in this repulsive hat?
Doostyn:  i don’t know why she’s hiding her face
Gnatalby:  I know
it’s like a glorious sunbeam of cunning

Doostyn:  that hat looks like it belongs on an old lady, it’s all limp like it’s been worn by one for dozens of years too
Gnatalby:  wait… the jockey
is named… Nacho?
I find that so offensive
Doostyn:  are you saying you didn’t enjoy the film nacho libre
for that reason?
Gnatalby:  hee
otherwise it was precisely my sort of film
omg
serena in a flowing dress
astride her steed
gossip girl is like, its own fan fic