Posts Tagged ‘The Office’

Making Love to the Pooch

March 27, 2010

I am happy to report that Parks and Recreation has reclaimed its rightful place as foremost in my affections with this week’s episode. When this show began it seemed like Leslie was just going to be lady Michael Scott, but thankfully that has not turned out to be the case. Leslie and Michael both love their jobs an unreasonable amount, but Leslie is actually competent. Even though it didn’t work out, Leslie’s concept for the Parks Department magazine was sound, she just counted on people who turned out to be hateful cynics (and Ron, who is a cynic, but not particularly hateful).

The open was really funny: Tom borrows Ron’s coonskin cap for the purpose of peacocking and just succeeds in scaring the ladies off with lines like “Daaaaaamn girl, your hotness killed my raccoon!” He probably should have tried Donna’s contribution: “Yes I am a hunter– and it’s you season.”

The A plot is Leslie’s attempt to put together the summer Parks catalog, which she compares to Vogue’s September Issue. In an odd coincidence, I had just watched The September Issue mere hours before P&R. It definitely troubled my mind-grapes, since I am obviously in favor of smart women in positions of power and I really don’t think every woman has a responsibility to be warm just because men feel more comfortable imagining everyone woman is their mom but DAMN does Anna Wintour go to the other extreme. I kind of wanted to curl up and die when she told the photographer he’d better hit the gym. He’s a photographer! As Grace Coddington said: “Not everyone has to be perfect, it’s enough that the models are perfect.”

Leslie has some sexists of her own to deal with, notably former Parks Director James Watson. (Okay, that’s not really his name, but I am still, and always will be, pissed at James Watson for being a grade A douchebag to Rosalind Franklin.) James Watson tells Leslie that back in his day women weren’t allowed to teach and she’s all “Really? I thought there were women teachers way before then.” And he’s all “Not in my department. Women need a lot of blood to flow through to their baby centers which leaves less for the brain. I’d stay away from leadership roles for your own safety.” Then he’s all, “You really shouldn’t be leading us, if you’re menstruating you could attract bears.”

Holy God. My favorite thing about this show is that it’s overtly feminist in a way that’s just a premise of the show, it reminds me of Donna on That 70s Show in a way. Leslie has to deal with sexist assholes at work ALL the time, and it bugs her, but she just keeps doing her job and kicking butt. We don’t have to learn a little lesson about how these guys aren’t really sexist or sometimes ladies really are bad at their jobs (for an offender on this front, Grey’s Anatomy).

Ron’s immediate predecessor was apparently afflicted with reefer madness, and was a savant of bongs, once crafting one out of a taxidermied raccoon (Ron’s hat?). He makes good (and funny) points when Ron brings up his smoking at work: “In fairness to me, it was a different time, it was the early nineties. But also it’s ridiculous that marijuana is illegal. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. Alcohol is legal and pot isn’t? That makes sense to you, Ron?”
Ron: I’m sorry, I don’t hear hippies.

Director Stoner suggests everyone smoke another j and calm down, but the person with the real solution is April who photoshops a spread with the directors all– well there’s no delicate phrasing (except “going to Bologna,” but that’s only comprehensible to people who, god bless us every one, watch SLAT)– blowing each other. “What, look how generous they’re being with each other!”

April and Andy almost make progress in their cute crush when April offers to help Andy write the song “Life is a Picnic With You,” but when April is carded at the bar it seems to make Andy think (hard to believe, but true!) about how young she really is, so that might be on hold.

Anne and Mark’s relationship seems not long for this world with Tom’s photographs revealing Anne’s secret unhappiness or, as Tom puts it “sad wife”-ness.

Tom: What are we doing, Maxim or Good Housekeeping?
Anne: I’m not sure which one is the insult….
Tom: Hey, if there’s anyone out there that wants to do a photo shoot on the dangers of eating undercooked chicken I can give you Anne’s phone number.

I don’t really know why they’re ending that relationship, although I mostly don’t care, which I guess might be the problem. I love Anne and Leslie’s friendship, but they need to do a better job of integrating Anne into the show since she seems to show up at the department for increasingly contrived reasons week after week. Although I love most of the direction of the show I do kind of miss the clarity of purpose in the first season: a department of people and concerned citizens working hard to get a pit filled in.

The episode ends sweetly with Ron and Leslie getting breakfast-for-dinner at a diner and promising they won’t start to hate one another. Leslie admits that despite her efforts, things did not go as planned in the greatest line in the history of ever: “Oh Ron, I really made love to the pooch on this one.”


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.

30 Offices of Parks and Recreation

May 3, 2009

Thursdays NBC tv was… not the greatest. Doostyn and I spoke about how it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t so bad it’s good, either. But the common thread, to a degree, was the place of feminism in the workplace and boy’s clubs, most explicitly on Parks and Rec, and just implicitly on The Office, but it wasn’t handled as well as I think these generally clever comedies are capable of. 30 Rock at least, has done it better before.

Bottom to top then, The Office. In this episode, Michael has to choose between Pam and Ryan who can stay on as a salesman, since the other Dunderheads demand the return of the clients who defected to the Michael Scott Paper Company. Several people scream at Pam that she’s “only a secretary.” At the end of the episode Michael tells Pam that he’s giving the job to Ryan, despite the fact that of the two of them, Pam is the one who hasn’t been to prison for embezzlement. But surprise! Michael was just kidding! But then Michael calls in Other Kelly, the new secretary to pull the same “You’re getting fired” prank that he pulled in the very first episode. So it becomes pretty clear that Michael, enormous fan of bromantic work relationships, has not actually learned that women are also people worthy of our respect, but has just upgraded Pam to the buddy circle. Great.

The Office is a show I enjoy, but it’s pretty much in constant feminism probation for its inability to show women succeeding. (Jan was insane, baby obsessed, cruel, and abusing her position. Holly also engaged in an inappropriate work relationship. Pam isn’t even allowed to finish her degree.)

Line of the night, and one I will be stealing: “It is on like a prawn who yawns at dawn.”

30 Rock‘s A Plot was who suffers more when treated equally, black people or women? Or so we are meant to generalize from the examples Tracy and Liz. (Black women exist! Tracy is married to one!) Tracy’s opening foray– making Liz change the water dispenser– made me wonder about the logistics of those things. Surely they’re not just open like that? The biggest problem with this plot is that it’s basic sitcom hardy hars without any 30 Rock twist. I have seen this plot on Boy Meets World for cry yi.

And 30 Rock did this better with Jenna and Tracy during the primaries when Tracy lived for a week as a white woman and Jenna in terrifying blackface as a black man. And part of why that was better is that Tracy and Jenna are about equivalently ridiculous, whereas Liz is clearly more of an adult than Tracy is. Some of the things Liz is put through during equality week are ridiculous and inappropriate for the workplace, like the strip club visit, whereas Tracy is essentially freaking out about having to show up for work on time.  So not only is this storyline a little tired, it also really trivializes the experience of racism.

Simply put: it’s reasonable to expect that when you go to work you will not be expected to do things you are physically unable to do for whatever reason, and that you will not be expected to interact sexually with coworkers. It’s unreasonable to expect that you won’t have to show and can send a monkey in your place. The effect is to imply that the only thing holding black men back is ridiculous behavior and laziness. Charming.

Line of the night? “He treated her like dirt all those years — coming and going, taking up with other women, including more than one Unitarian!”

As a Unitarian, I say hee. Also, I thought Tracy voted for McCain? Remember his PSA: Black People– don’t vote!

Parks and Recreation.

“I wanna take that cheese and do terrible things to it.” Me too, Tom, me too.

But more seriously, the topic of the episode is that Leslie gets herself in trouble by opening up a gift basket that was more than $25 in her excitement to break up the boy’s club in politics.  The problem is, this episode treats the existence of these boys clubs as hilarious and unimportant. Yeah, good point. That’s way half of all the senators and representatives and even local politicians are women. Oh wait.

The fact that all the dudes are actually getting together for beers and to talk about how their clothing looks doesn’t at all negate the idea of boys’ clubs.  Politics is about making connections to other people and exploiting those connections, and it’s very hard to rise to any level of importance if you’re not seen as a real human being.

Keeping up with the Televisional Joneses

May 2, 2009

A couple weeks ago a good friend of The Booze Tube shared the list he had made up to remind himself what shows to watch throughout the week. Like me, this friend tends to watch tv the day after it airs, so, in a semblance of order, for me, that’s….

Monday: Huh, nothing.

Tuesday: One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, How I Met Your Mother, Greek, and Chuck

Wednesday: Huh, nothing.

Thursday: Lost.

Friday: Holy Cats! The Office, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Ugly Betty.

Saturday: Dollhouse.

Shows that aren’t in season right now, but of which I am a religious follower: Secret Life of the American Teenager, Big Love, Mad Men, True Blood.

And that’s not to mention whole seasons of shows I’m just catching on DVD.  90210 (classic, not the current waste of prime time space), Melrose Place, Smallville, Flight of the Conchords, Arrested Development, and Battlestar Galactica.

Writing all that out makes me feel funny, like when Lynette lined up all of Bree Van de Kamp’s wine bottles on the porch with a note that said: “Still think you don’t have a problem?”*

But hey, when I’m a top tv blogger no one will question me! Or when I get my dream job of pairing foods with tv shows. 90s nighttime soaps go great with cheese, I mean, obviously.

*Though from what I remember, there were only like, 12 wine bottles. I guess I’d need to know the time span, because if that’s per day, then yeah, Bree totally had a problem, but if that’s over like, two weeks and she’s just lazy about recycling, then I think that’s a lot more borderline.  Incidentally, remember how Bree confesses in some later season that she sometimes fantasizes about opening the Chardonnay she knows is chilling in the fridge? What kind of assholes is she living with that keep wine in the fridge of a recovering alcoholic?