So I was prepping to talk about how amazing Unreal is while comparing it to my own personal experience working on The Bachelor and was all, “I was just like the PA with the braids except when the boss yelled I wasn’t all cool and chill, I just cried. A lot.” But then I watched the episode where the PA with the braids blew the boss and… No. Ew. Analogy over.
But seriously, this show is awesome, soapy, addictive good times. I mean, guys, it’s a fictionalized reality TV — all the enjoyment of reality TV with zero of the guilt! Everyone else has caught on; you’re way behind. Go watch it now. K. Bye.
Movie: Mad Max
So. Freaking. Badass. If you haven’t already seen it (and loved it) you’re probably thinking, Kelly? Really? That noisy, all crazy-edited, dirt-filled movie trailer with the people painted like homeless mimes? You want me to watch that? And, okay, Mom, you won’t like it. It’s hella violent. But it’s also brilliant, stunning, intelligent, and — I can’t believe I’m saying this —high-octane fun. And the articles you’ve been ignoring are right, it’s also a feminist masterpiece. The director, George Miller, is such a classy guy he even scrolled all the head Visual Effects Artists names before the actors; can’t say no to that.
Book: High-Rise by J.G. Ballard
Whew. That how I felt when I finished this book. It was a journey and it wasn’t always a comfortable one. But the older I get the more certain books are starting to stick with me — and the more that is becoming the most important part of the experience: what I take away from them. The only book that has stuck with me more than High-Rise this year is J.G. Ballard’s collection of short stories, The Terminal Beach. He captures the sick, visceral, selfish, venereal side of humans and how those traits just might dictate our futures in ways like I’ve never read before. (Just consider this a plug for all his work.) High-Rise is a fascinating take on class war through the lens of humans reverting to their animalistic tendencies while maintaining all the shitty habits they’ve picked up on this road we call evolution. Oh, and there’s a movie adaptation staring Tom Hiddleston coming out in the fall.
Album: Of Monsters and Men, Beneath the Skin
Of Monsters and Men bring their atmospheric indie rock back for a second round and it’s just as good as the first. No, it’s probably not going to change your life or land on any super pretentious lists, but it’s as enjoyable as, say, an impromptu dance party in the middle of an empty street on a warm summer night. And I think we can all agree, life could use more of those.
Podcast: Science US!
Vancouver comedians Peter Carlone and Ivan Decker take on the loftiest of goals, making science funny and accessible. It does, in fact, help that they are not scientists (which they will repeatably mention just in case you’ve tuned in mid-cast with the hopes of catching some real, hard scienterrific facts). They are as funny as they are convincing, which is very, and makes me concerned now for all the tidbits I’ll inevitably share at parties that will oh-so-quickly be shot down for being both wildly speculative and mostly untrue. (Or, maybe, they do know what they talking about and I will impress with both my quick wit and theories on the forthcoming robot apocalypse. How am I supposed to know? I am not a scientist.)
Can We Talk About This, Please?
I’ve now lost several hours of my life to this whole Berenstain/Berenstein Bears controversy. While I am 100% Team E, I am willing to admit that thousands of us must just be misrem — NO. NOPE. PARALLEL UNIVERSES. IT HAS TO BE. (Seriously, if you are between the ages of 23 and 33, do not click unless you are willing to have your day ruined/life changed.)
What you should be watching and reading and listening to this week.
First of all, if you’re still not watching Broad City, you’re missing out on the most hilarious, inventive… you know what? There aren’t even adjectives to properly describe it amazing-ness. Just watch it.
In other news, the ex-writers of cult hit of comedy wonder, Happy Endings, have posted an extremely cryptic tweet linking to this website, counting 52 days down to something. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Happy Endings is one of the best television sitcoms of all time and deserves whatever revival it can find. (I’m looking at you, Netflix. *crosses fingers and prays*)
Eddie Huang wrote a really interesting article about the process of adapting his memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, to network television. And E. Alex Jung over at Vulture wrote about watching said adaption with nearly a thousand young Asian-Americans. I haven’t seen the show yet (as my PVR is a hat made of ass and I have yet to find legal distribution of the pilot), but it’s MIND BLOWING that this is the first Asian-American family on TV in 20 years.
TV:Jane the Virgin
I do not envy the person who had to pitch this show. That being said, The CW is clearly open and willing to take chances; and this show is a sign the network wants to hold their own with the Big Four.
IMDb offers this log line: A young, devout woman discovers that she was accidentally artificially inseminated.
But that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. Loosely adapted from Venezuelan telenovela, Juana La Virgen, the soap opera plot twists in JTV are marvellous and many. But unlike the soaps you watched while home sick as a kid, the characters in Jane the Virgin react to each twist like actual human beings. And that’s what makes this show so brilliant. The show knows it’s crazy (and often reminds us with a stellar narration, dream sequences, freeze frames and text on screen), but it never treats its characters as crazy; it lets them roll with the punches in honest, character-based ways. And no one has to deal with more than Jane, played by the categorically wonderful Gina Rodriguez. You’ll fall in love with her instantly. Watch it and I promise you will be utterly charmed. And if you’re still not sold, google ‘Best TV 2014’ and I swear, you’ll find Jane the Virgin on every list.
You can find the entire series on Shomi or iTunes in Canadaand a million other places in the States.
Movie: Obvious Child
Unfortunately deemed the ‘abortion rom-com’, Obvious Child is so much more. Starring Jenny Slate (SNL, Parks & Rec, Marcel the Shell), this film is about a young woman growing up and figuring out her life and maybe falling in love and dealing with her career and her family in the oh-so-terrifying time that is your late twenties. Oh, and she also happens to get pregnant and get an abortion.
Whatever. It’s a part of the plot, an important part, and an important story to tell and discuss, but Obvious Child is about so much more. Just see it. See it because it is hilarious. See it because it’s sweet and heartfelt and honest. See it because it was one of the best films of 2014 and not enough people paid attention. Also, did I mention that it’s hilarious? Because it really, really is.
Obvious Child was written and directed by Gillian Robespierre based on a short she made in 2009. I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait too long for another film from Robespierre. As Vulture pointed out the other day, Sundance (where this film debuted) has a major ‘white guy problem.’ Basically, studios troll Sundance for new directors for their upcoming tentpoles and franchises, yet somehow manage to ignore anyone who isn’t a white dude. Sure, things are a’changing, but it’s not fast enough — so hopefully Robespierre and, frankly, every talented, worthy director being ignored by Hollywood (this is an assumption. Maybe she has lots of stuff in the works?!) can keep doing their own thing, writing their scripts and telling their stories; because I really want to keep watching. And, hopefully, Hollywood will start watching, too.
Book: The Interestings
One of the coolest things about reading is when you get to sit down and within a couple days or weeks, you can live through and experience someone’s entire life — or at least the most formative part of it.
The Interestings is a hypnotic, expansive novel. It takes place over the course of several decades, following a group of friends from summer camp to middle age. Meg Wolitzer never worries about making our protagonist, Jules, that dreaded buzzword: likeable; instead, she makes her human. And when she shows us her life, she gives us its interior, with all its terrible thoughts and emotions included.
It is an aching study on friendship, depression, talent, jealousy, and unrequited love. There are so conversations to be had within this novel that I don’t even know where to start. (Though, I think I might try with, ‘What makes a life interesting?’)
I suggest starting this when you have time to be swept away. It’s not a short book and it’s not easy to put down. Read it and let’s talk more.
Song: Hunger of the Pine by Alt-J
I am painfully, painfully out of the loop when it comes to new music. (Happily accepting suggestions!) This song isn’t new, but it’s really, really good.
The red string of fate is an East Asian belief, where, according to myth, the gods tie an invisible red cord around the ankles of those that are destined to meet one another. These two people, connected by thread, are destined lovers, regardless of place, time, or circumstances. This magical cord may stretch or tangle, but never break.
In Your Eyes is pure, unadulterated romance. In a genre that seems often to be ignored as its own entity, In Your Eyes soars as it follows Rebecca and Dylan’s love story, that of two broken people destined to be with one another.
FINALLY! I ranted earlier this year about a severe lack of good romantic films. Just romance. Not comedy, not indie, not framed around a high-stakes action plot (though those movies are great, too), but just romance. In Your Eyes delivers.
Written by Joss Whedon, directed by Brin Hill, and starring Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl-David, In Your Eyes is the second feature from Bellwether Pictures, a production company founded by Joss Whedon and his wife Kai Cole. Apparently Joss* wrote the script back in the early 90s, which makes perfect sense for his oeuvre, this film fitting perfectly in with the hopeless love tone set in the early years of Buffy.
I don’t think romance gets enough credit. These days they either get segregated to comedy or drama or Nicholas Sparks. It wasn’t even until about halfway way through In Your Eyes that I even realized I was watching a hard romance. I thought, as advertised, that I was in for an indie offering.
I believe that “indie” means two different things. The first being the budget and the second referring to a type of genre. To me the genre that an “indie” film is, is coming-of-age. Meaning, what is more important than the technical genre (comedy, romance, sci-fi, etc.), is that our lead character learns a lesson and grows as a human being. (Even just the last few indie films I’ve seen, St. Vincent, Obvious Child, The Skeleton Twins, all stand by this.) In Your Eyes is not an “indie” romance film. It is a romance. The characters main purpose is not to grow, but to find each other.
I guess I’m expounding on this** because I don’t remember the last time I saw a pure romance. Something that swept me up and took me away and made me fall in love. (I’ve seen plenty of great indies with romance — Zoe Kazan starring in many of them — but, they’re blends of coming-of-age or comedy, not the straight to the veins, hard dose of hopeless that In Your Eyes is***.)
They’re a rare breed and they’re often not given the time or the credit they deserve because romance is perceived as “girly” and therefore less worthy. (Don’t even get me started on defending The Notebook in film school. It saddens me greatly that our film theory professor would not — or, at least, hadn’t yet and wasn’t interested in — watching the most successful film of the son of John God Damn Cassavetes. (But there were other battles to be fought, like the lack of inclusion of Amelie, Moulin Rouge, and many other female or romance driven films, on the lists of the ‘greatest films’ that were handed out to us.) Romance is a genre that is worthy and In Your Eyes is a film that deserves to be included in lists of the best. In fact, I would place In Your Eyes between The Notebook and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as one of the best romances I have ever seen.
I’m not going to tell you anything about the plot, in fact I don’t even recommend watching the trailer. But I will tell you this: In a romance you must place obstacles in front of your soulmates. Real obstacles, not contrived ones. They must feel unsurmountable but — as the story progresses — not repetitive. And Joss Whedon and Brin Hill do this with aplomb; they’re patient, holding back until we’re no longer sitting on the edge of our seat, but fallen to the floor, eyes welling, knuckles white, breath held. The whole cast does a splendid job. While Zoe Kazan is luminous, as always, Michael Stahl-David will infiltrate your dreams. He is charming and handsome and kind. And it being a Joss Whedon script, there are no hints of misogyny from our romantic hero. Once you embrace the romance genre — that is if you can… I will no longer argue with men (or women) over things they don’t or won’t choose to understand, instead sharing things with the people who do — this film is perfect. I can’t wait to watch it again.
Take these words with a grain of salt, if you will. It’s all coming from a preternaturally effusive romantic with Shakespearetattooed on her wrist and Klimt prints on her walls, but I loved In Your Eyes from all the way from its touching start to its unapologetic end. This is the romance film I’ve been waiting for.
You can find the film on Netflix, iTunes, or rent it here, on their website.
Real love isn’t brains, children. It’s blood. It’s blood screaming inside you to work its will.
– Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
*We’re on a first name basis because write for the job you want?
***You could argue that In Your Eyes is actually a fantasy-romance, but if we’re being honest, aren’t all romances a fantasy? And though the elements of fantasy in this film veer into science fiction, sure, this film navigates them so well that it always feels like reality. (And what do we know, maybe for some it is?)
Dear White People is the first feature film from writer/director Justin Simien. Funded partially by Indiegogo, the film was released in the States on Oct. 17th, but only made it to Vancouver, Canada last Friday. If you haven’t been following my myriad anticipatory tweets, please click here to watch the trailer.
Set at the fictional Winchester University, Dear White People follows four college students as they navigate life as a ‘black face in a white place.’ Two men. Two women. Three straight. One gay. The boxes are ticked, but the characters never feel as if they were created to take a side. Each one is a nuanced, dynamic individual with his or her own opinions, motivations, and struggles.
I’ll get into race in a minute, but first let’s get one thing clear: Dear White People is a fantastic movie.
It would undermine Simien’s acerbic, modern, and hilarious script to talk about the “issues” first. Yes, Dear White People is a satire about race… on the surface. But that’s not what the film is really about. It’s actually a coming of age film about four people — kids, essentially — in their early twenties, trying to figure out who they are. Simien does not judge their actions or frame them so the audience has to choose a side; he makes sure that their insecurities (and supervening actions) come from an authentic place. His dialogue is brilliant, fast paced, and, dare I say, hip? For lack of a better term, what I mean is, Simien captures how Gen Y speaks, and what about, but makes it film-worthy i.e. funnier, more intelligent, and just as self-serving. It’s also beautifully shot (with an opening that would make Wes Anderson proud), impeccably scored, and wonderfully acted (What up, Veronica Mars alumnus!). Also, big kudos to the wardrobe and hair & makeup folks; I covet everything Sam wore.
But, ultimately, what makes this film so important — and what makes it a social satire — is that while navigating their collegiate lives and trying to figure out what kind of people they’re going to be, the colour of our leads’ skin defines their journey. But it shouldn’t. And that’s the point.
White privilege — like feminism and other hot button words — seems to mean different things to different people. (In the new times that are the wild west of the world wide web, a division of language is a terrifying thing), but I’ll push that thought aside for now and explain the meaning of what, I’ve come to understand, is ‘white privilege.’
Beyond being treated differently (based on the colour of your skin), white privilegeis the inability to comprehend what someone who is not you, who is notwhite, is going through, has gone through, and will continue to go through in their every day lives.
This privilege can also extend to wealth, sexual orientation, nationality, and gender. I, personally, only recently came to understand the need to stand up for feminism because of my own Canadian privilege — growing up in a very lovely bubble where I wasn’t treated differently for being a girl. Yes, I’m still unpacking all the various, often invisible ways I’ve been affected by misogyny but growing up in this country, in this time, with this body has given me an easy path.
What I’m trying to say is, while Lionel, Sam, Troy, and Coco are simply trying to figure out their own identities, society (Winchester College, their peers, their parents, the media) expect them to dictate themselves through their race. While in Canada* many of us look around and shake our heads, understanding that race doesn’t define a person, these stereotypes, these assumptions, these beliefs (about race, gender, sexuality) are so prevalent the world over that this conversation is not even close to being over.
*Canada is not perfect. We have A LOT to work on, but it’s not black vs. white up here (which is what the States appears to be, or at least us vs. them — ‘us’ being white people and ‘them’ being everyone else. (To which I say, your country was built on immigration, get with the fucking program. And, also, all humans are equal. Duh.))
Dear White People is important for two big reasons:
It’s a fantastic coming of age independent feature written and directed by a promising new talent. Justin Simien wrote this script, shot a trailer for $2,000, brought it to Indiegogo (raising $40,ooo), garnered enough attention to attach an independent producer, directed it for waaay under a million dollars, got it into Sundance and across the world. Now that’s impressive. The film navigates its four different leads’ story with grace, charm, and wit. Not to mention it’s really fucking entertaining.
It asks us to question what we know, what we believe to be true. It asks us not to define people by the way they look. It questions ‘post-racial America’ and (hopefully) demands of us to continue examining this issue instead of passively shrugging that ‘it’s over.’
There are so many more things to talk about here. There is so much turmoil in the States (and the rest of the world). There is so far to go in the entertainment industry. Chris Rock’s recent essay reminds us how ‘white’ the industry is. An industry that acts as society’s mirror, showing us who people are, what to believe and how to act. This is a conversation we need to continue to have.
Just go see the movie because it’s really good. It’s an independent feat and an impressive debut. Then, if you take something more from it, great. Remember, while society tries — and sometimes succeeds — in dictating the lives of the characters in the film Dear White People, in realityit also dictates our beliefs (often without our knowledge). Racism is learned and taught. And film & television often replicate these learned bad behaviours… especially the most subtle, insidious ones. This place that we call home isn’t quite as post-racial/sexist/homophobic as we like to believe it is. And if a smart, funny, sweet film can make us a little more aware of that, then it’s a good place to start.
Now I don’t exactly want to take back my rant on why A to Z deserves another season, buuuut… since I discovered FX(X)’s You’re the Worst I’ve lost my appetite for romcomsitcom works-in-progress. Unlike all of its network contemporaries, You’re the Worst arrived fully formed and brilliant. (And so much closer to my real life than any of the network shows’ shiny, happy worlds.*) Created by the extremely talented Stephan Falk, You’re the Worst — unlike A to Z — doesn’t need time to grow as a series, it’s already a full blown adult — a drunk, whiney, acting like it’s still on the right side of 30 adult, mind, but an adult none the less.
*Don’t get me wrong: I love shiny, happy things. But sometimes, at least these days, I prefer to see fuck-ups like myself onscreen, as opposed to perfectly coiffed lawyers — and their similarly gainfully employed ilk — all of whom never seem to actually work at their jobs.
Sometimes I forget that TV can do new things. There’s drama and there’s comedy and there’s HBO half hour “comedy.” In my brain, that is how I perceive television series: divided into those three categories. Maybe it’s because I watch a lot of network television. Network television doesn’t try many new things. (Sure, there are dozens of examples to the contrary but, in a sea of thousands, the innovative usually drown.) Half hour cable, too, often follows standard sitcom structures: Broad City, VEEP, It’s Always Sunny, Benched… But You’re the Worst doesn’t worry as much about half-hour comedy structure. (Maybe this is the FX’s M.O.? After all, it is the home of Louie.) If feels more like Californication or, perhaps, even more appropriately, like an indie (coming of age / romance / comedy) film allowed to breathe over 10 episodes. It’s looser and darker than a sitcom and it rarely wraps things up all neat and tidy by episode’s end. I love You’re the Worst because it’s about people who don’t want to grow up… but sometimes do… then don’t… and are just generally confused about the whole thing. The writers pass no judgment on their actions — they just let them screw up royally and organically. And it’s really fucking funny. If I could use one picture to describe the show it would be this: That smile is the smile of grownup accomplishment. Feeling shitty about her life, after a huge fight with her best friend, and coming down off a coke high, Gretchen purchases a food processor (the ultimate sign of adulthood) and rummages through her kitchen for ingredients to make something — in continuance on her journey to pulled-together grownup-ity — and finds… vodka and ice cubes. The characters on You’re the Worst are vodka ice smoothies made in expensive food processors: from afar all you hear is the expensive whirl of a responsible kitchen appliance and as you squint to make out its contents: grey fondant to spread over a winter themed birthday cake? caviar paté? it all looks kosher, but up close the truth is evident: they’re merely all thrown-together cocktails full of empty, if occasionally well-intentioned, drunken promises — the first gulp might make your eyes water, but as you near the bottom of the glass you’ll wonder why you ever bothered with fancy liquors and liqueurs in first place when quick, low-calorie friendship was at your fingertips all along. They share my uncertainties about life, writing, marriage, relationships, friendships… This show feels like coming home. I love it. I love it. I love it. And I think you will too.
If you’re in the same corner of the Pacific Northwest as me, just concede to the rainy weekend right now: buy a bottle of whiskey, several bags of chips and settle in and enjoy. Elsewhere? Schedule a time to binge watch all 10 episodes as soon as possible. It’s going to be your new favourite, I promise. And if you need me, I’ll be over here, humbly writing my You’re the Worst season two spec…
NBC announced at the beginning of this month that it would not be ordering any more episodes of A to Z. The trades quickly reported that it, along with its timeslot partner and fellow NBC non-orderee, Bad Judge, had been cancelled.Reports that were immediately followed by pangs of regret slicing through the hearts of millions of viewers, “Great,” we thought, “another failed relationship. I can’t believe I talked myself into believing this one would last.” Then, like a friendly text in the middle of the day, (Not late at night! He/she must still love me!) executive producer Rashida Jones took to Twitter to say this,
So, wait. Could this beautiful thing we have going could actually last?!? As an EW article wonderfully put it: “It’s like in The Princess Bride: There’s dead, and there’s mostly dead. A to Z is mostly dead.” Maybe we do have a future after all! True love is real! (This is coming from a girl with a “Westley Never Dies” t-shirt, so please keep you salt shaker full of grains nearby.) BUT, this tweet does send hope that NBC could change their minds and give A to Z a second season — that their cold, calculating executive hearts might just give us, the viewers of A to Z, a shot.
This season of fall television brought us an uncommon amount of RomComSitcoms. With Marry Me, Selfie, Manhattan Love Story, and A to Z on the docket, us romantic comedy aficionados were buzzing with anticipation. But then they began to premiere…
Selfiewas… okay. John Cho is brilliant, always, but the plot of the pilot played out like a marginal feature film squished into 21 and a half minutes. I loved Suburgatory and wish only the best for Emily Kapnek (and do think the show is rather cute/fun), but keeping Selfie on the air is not the battle I’m fighting today.
Then came Manhattan Love Story. Oh, MLS, what’s there to say? Your creator used to write for Just Shoot Me! and Spin City, both great shows. But — what’s that!? — said creator just came off 21 episodes of Two and a Half Men? Yeah, it *ahem* shows. Offensive. Unimaginative. And, just plain old boring. (Also, WHO CARES IF A DUDE SAW YOU “PICKING YOUR TEETH”??? Seriously. This show. I can’t ev — I digress…)
Marry Meis… Well, I can tell you what’s it’s not. It’s not Happy Endings. And while I realize that’s not fair… not fair at all, I’m still in the anger/denial stages of my mourning*, so I can’t be held accountable for my passive disappointment toward it. (Will it stick around to see a full season? I’m 50/50 on this one.)
Last, but obviously the very opposite of least or else what would the point of this article be?, is A to Z, sweet, lovely, A to Z: the reduced-sugar apple pie of television shows — you know, like the kind your friend who spent all her tax return money on a Vitamix would make: delicious, but not entirely bad for you. Can you taste the coconut oil?
*Time does not heal all wounds.
The romantic comedy sitcom is a hard thing to nail. While the “will they or won’t they” couple trope is practically written in blood onto every comedy showrunner’s contract, a show revolving around two paramours is dangerous. If the show is entirely about their relationship, every argument can suddenly seem contrived. We know they can’t break up — it’s a rom com sitcom after all — so why are they trying so hard to keep them apart/fighting?!
Now A to Z doesn’t completely sidestep this pitfall and it isn’t perfect — not by any means — but it’s a damn good start. (And, come on, how many sitcoms are perfect right away? New Girl took half a season; Parks & Rec didn’t kick off until it’s second year.)
The point being, while A to Z does need a little more time to find its true footing, it’s still fun, playful, and holds so much potential. IT DESERVES TO STICK AROUND, NBC. It doesn’t play into outdated gender stereotypes (Manhattan Love Story, Marry Me) or fabricate absurd fights to keep their leads apart (ditto), but it also isn’t blatantly subverting tropes just for the sake of it. The creator, Ben Queen, and the writers and producers have created full, dynamic characters. The show is fresh, thoughtful, and smart. It gives us human beings: flawed, weird, predictable and surprising.
The world of television is rapidly changing. Selling to Netflix is the new syndication. Trending on Twitter is the new sign of success. So why are networks still so concentrated on numbers? Yes, NBC is arguably one of the most linear networks. Their biggest numbers come from The Voice and sporting events (some of the last things people are still tuning in live to — except for Shonda shows, but that’s a different blog altogether). So it’s not surprising NBC has decided not to put trust in a show with potential. But, still, you would think that the network that brought you some of the greatest sitcoms of all time would strive to build and nurture promising comedies… at least a little bit? What NBC needs to realize is in the new wild west television landscape, quality is winning. The model of pouring millions of dollars into a series only to turn around and cancel it isn’t working anymore. Netflix and cable have it right: find a project you love, nurture it, then trust… Of course, that’s never going to work 100% of the time, but besides the last season of Parks & Rec, NBC is sitting with About a Boy, Undateable, Welcome to Sweden, and Marry Me. Not a lineup that inspires confidence; (Amy Poehler and her relations aside.) Time to start pouring some love and care into a series that fans have jumped onto and critics have enjoyed, hmm?
I do think A to Z needs to work on/do a few things differently. It needs to decide more clearly on its tone and subsequently magnify it. It needs to use its magnificent supporting cast far more. It needs to pump up the jokes. And it needs to have even more fun — bigger set pieces, more absurd situations — while keeping the characters down to earth and in touch with the oddball charm it has already instilled in them. Needing finessing is not a bad thing. With the solid foundation already built, this show can only get better and better.
I hope the outcrying on Twitter and Facebook has already made the NBC execs take notice. I won’t even be mad if they keep this season order at 13 — as long as season two is given a go ahead. With 26 letters in the alphabet, a second season of A to Z could end perfectly on that 8 month, 5 week, 3 day, 1 hour cliffhanger of “will they or won’t they.” (As the perfectly cast Katey Segal explains via voiceover in the pilot, that’s how long our couple will date for. But does that clock tick down to a break up or an engagement/marriage?) And Hollywood needs to start mimicking the British model of series length, anyways. Quality > quantity, people — I can’t say it enough.
If you’re not already watching and in America, catch up on Hulu or NBC.com. If you’re in Canada, well, I’m not saying illegally download it, but… (in perhaps some weird conspiracy???**) A to Z is not available on Shaw on Demand, on Global TV’s website, and only the first two episodes are available on iTunes (when six have aired). So find a way to watch it now — then find a way to support it monetarily later.
**Bad Judge — the other show NBC hasn’t ordered more episodes from — is available on all of these platforms. What gives? Is this some wide, Canada-based conspiracy to keep A to Z from finding more fans?
If you haven’t seen A to Z and love comedies, rom or otherwise, this is the one to watch. If you already love A to Z, make your voice heard. We are the viewers. We deserve good television. Good stories deserve to keep being told — even if it takes a little time and faith. And if NBC gives us an initial 13 episodes of a television series and we love it — and there’s enough of us — WE DESERVE MORE (as long as the writers and cast/crew want to keep giving it to us, which it appears they definitely do).
NBC, take a chance. Let it breathe. Don’t throw all your money into another development season; give a charming, wonderful show a second chance. The times are changing; quality is starting to win. Let A to Z live on; commit to this relationship and, who knows, it might be “the one” (to bring must see TV back to NBC).
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard about How to Get Away With Murder.
I can’t praise this show highly enough. Seriously. It’s AMAZING! But, actually, in the effort of honesty, you probably shouldn’t trust me on this one. I am the very opposite of an impartial viewer. Because, this show, it feels like, is made specifically for me. Not one, but TWO over-arcing murder plots. Fast-paced story telling. Attractive (but not cookie-cutter) leads. Episodic trials of the week. Screaming, crying, plotting, and soapy amazingness.
It’s hard to trust in a post-Lost era, but I believe that the creator, Peter Nowalk, has it all planned out. I’m choosing not to try and figure anything out — I just want to go along for the ride. But, holy crap, HOW ARE THEY ALL CONNECTED?!? WAS IT ALL PARIS’S* FAULT?!? DID ANNALISE MAKE THEM DO IT? WHAT’S UP WITH THE GOTH CHICK?!?!!? Ahhh, is it Thursday again, yet?
(And a selfish note: I’m so happy this is doing spectacularly in the ratings, but this is exactly the type of TV show I want to make.)
*Liza Weil will never not be Paris from Gilmore Girls.
Song: “Busy Earnin'” by Jungle
According to Wikipedia, Jungle’s music has been described as, “‘midtempo 1970s-style funk’ and their music is intermixed with tropical percussion, wildlife noises, falsetto yelps, psychedelic washes and badoinking bass.” How can you not love that? They’re playing at The Imperial Vancouver this Tuesday night. The show appears to be sold out, but it would be worth trying your last minute luck as it’s going to be an incredible show.
Book: An Embarrassment of Mangoes
Since I already blogged about it twice in the past week, might as well go ahead and officially recommend this book. It’s not going to blow your mind or change your life, but it will keep you warm** on a grey fall day. While I hope you all have the opportunity to travel far and often, I know many of your days will be spent in your hometown, working hard (to save for traveling?); things can get a little monotonous, so whenever you can, treat yourself to book that will transport you somewhere else. An Embarrassment of Mangoes does just that. Ann and her husband take you all over the Caribbean on a fun, easy, and enjoyable literary sailboat ride.
Movie Trailer: The Imitation Game
Doesn’t it just make you want to pack up and move to England? (I mean like, not during WW2 or anything, but it’s just those accents and that tweed… Sigh. I might have to apply for a Visa or something.)
Anyways, Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley are two of the best of their generation. This is going to be a fantastic film.
Movie: If you’re looking for your new favourite romantic comedy, look no further than The F Word. (Or What If if you live in America.) Writer Elan Mastai and director Michael Dowse deliver on all levels. It’s sweet; it’s hilarious; it’s touching; and it’s truthful. Mastai has been quoted as saying “… everyone is an expert (on romantic comedies).” That acknowledgement and respect shows throughout the film: it’s your, my, his, hers, our romantic wins and failures up on screen, but funnier and with better hairdos. My only complaint is they could have pushed the “Annie Hall-ness” of it even further; but leave them wanting more, right? (Just go see it.)
Trailer: There are SO many good trailers out right now. (Note to self: do a full post dedicated to trailers.) But if I’m only going to choose one, and this is a very difficult decision, I’m going to have to go with Dear White People. This is writer/director Justin Simien’s debut feature and it looks BRILLIANT. And you know what? Regardless of the quality of the film (which we have to wait until Fall to determine (but, let’s be honest, it’s gonna be good)), this trailer deserves multiple awards. It’s beautifully cut, showcases the film’s wicked cinematography, and tells you exactly what the story is going to be about without giving away too much of the plot. With further ado…
TV: It’s been awhile since I’ve done an “Of the Week” which is the only reason you have yet to hear me expound on Broad City‘s incomprehensible awesomeness. It’s everything I wanted Girls to be and so much more. I espouse this amazing show to anyone who will listen, and though most of never heard of it, as soon as I mention it’s produced by Amy Poehler, I have no more convincing to do. No one else has captured life as a twentysomething struggling in a big city better than Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. The heart of the show is the girls’ friendship, but what really takes it to the next level, beyond the relatability in even the smallest, most throwaway lines/plots (Think in Episode 8, “Destination Wedding” when Abbi’s date suggests they buy a dog together but then later can’t commit to going to a further away train station.), what makes this show INSANELY good is the directing and the endless pop culture/film references. More Spaced than Community, Broad City sucks you in with dream sequences, endless nods to genre, and inventive cinematography. It’s not only the funniest show on television, in my opinion, it’s the overall very best.
Song: Gotta give it up for B.C. up-and-comers Good for Grapes. Their song “Skipping Stone” lives comfortably in that beautiful genre of folk-rock-pop well-established by acts like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. These young musicians have been beating the road for years already, honing their craft and sound; it’s only a matter of time before they totally take over.
Check out their Facebook page here for info on tons of local shows.
Book: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Is it cheating if I post the movie trailer instead of a picture of the book? The trailer was what led me to read it after all. If nothing else, the casting of the film makes it worth seeing. (But this isn’t supposed to be about a movie…) I felt quite unsatisfied after reading This is Where I Leave You. I flew through it in one weekend and later realized that maybe I should have paced myself. I was disappointed and a little bit angry and, going through an already delicate couple of weeks, depressed. It wasn’t until a few days later that I begun to appreciate the story. While the film adaptation will likely end on an “up” note, the book didn’t feel that way for me. Why am I recommending it then? Because life isn’t always #YOLO and #100happydays; life is often shitty and disappointing and many people never achieve most of what they set out to do. I’m not saying that’s my, or anyone else’s future, but I think perspective and realism are things we don’t get enough of these social media-filled days.
Bees are dying all over the place and it’s legitimately terrifying. Click here to do a little something about it. And check out Generation A by Douglas Coupland to scare yourself a little more. (Then check out his exhibit at the VAG, ’cause why not?)
Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I’m not going to lie to you guys, my eyes are still puffy a day later. Nearly ten years after I fell in love with the book and two years after the film was released, I finally settled in to watch TPoBaW. (That’s a hideous looking acronym, isn’t it?) Stephen Chobsky, the book’s author, adapted the screenplay AND directed the film, giving perfect explanation to why it’s so lovely. I don’t know if this story is for everyone, but if you’ve ever felt lonely, isolated, and as if the pain of the world might be too much to bear, you need to watch this film. It is beautiful and touching and completely heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful. Prepare to get in touch with that teenage angst that lives inside of all of us and bring the tissues.
TV: Orphan Black – It’s fast-paced, smart, and ridiculously entertaining. Tatiana Maslany is… well, I can’t think of a word in the English language to properly describe how incredibly talented she is. Streepian, perhaps?
Song: “Take Me to Church” by Hozier – This song can best be described as cavernous. SO good.
Book: Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
It’s fascinating to me how vastly unique siblings can be from one another: in careers, morals, interests, personalities. Coming from a large family, Sedaris shares tales of his unique (read: psychotic) family, from childhood ’til present. (Bonus: an insight as to how Amy Sedaris got so wacky.) He takes stories, that would no doubt be mundane from a less talented writer, and spins them into tales of humour, grace, and depth. The best part is that he never holds back from sharing all the awful things he has said or done. No rose coloured glasses here. Sedaris will make you feel better about being the flawed human being that we all are.
Word: ostensible [o-sten-suh-buhl] adjective
1. outwardly appearing as such; professed; pretended: an ostensible cheerfulness concealing sadness.
2. apparent, evident, or conspicuous: the ostensible truth of their theories.