I’m Back, But I Never Really Left

Hey gang,

Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. I know you all must be worried about my well-being, so I’m here to tell you this: I’m OK. Well, sort of. In the past few weeks I’ve watched a few shows here and there and nothing has really wowed me. While the Sochi Olympics are providing some quality entertainment, my regular shows have been lagging a bit. The Walking Dead returned. It was blah. But it did make me want to eat some pudding – right, Carl?!?!? Girls has been blah. No one cares about Hannah moping around. I want season one back, Lena! 

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The one beacon of hope in these dark days arrived today. Netflix released Season 2 of House of Cards this morning, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only seen the first episode, but wow. What a way to start the season off with a bang…or a shove, I guess. Francis Underwood went for his second kill in the season premiere, taking out budding reporter and quasi-mistress Zoe Barnes with a swift push into a train. Truly kicked off my Valentine’s Day with high hopes about the world! But, to be fair, Claire Underwood did remove the ash tray from the home – no more smoking for a Vice Presidential nominee. How loving. I’m looking forward to my binge this weekend, and I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

Birthday (NEW) GIRL(S)

This week, we celebrated the birthdays of our two favorite “girls,” Jess Day of Fox’s New Girl and Hannah Horvath of HBO’s Girls. Granted the audiences of the show have little overlap, it’s no surprise that these two girls had quite different birthday parties.

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Location

New Girl: Nick plans a surprise party for Jess, but forgets to take into account the many hours leading up to his seven o’clock gathering. He stalls by taking her to get a diabetes test at the drug store, and then challenges her to find the heaviest rock in the park. When she’s had enough, a teary-eyed Jess heads to the movies, where her friends give her the surprise of her life.

Girls: Marnie hosts a party for Hannah in a dive-y bar, at the expense of Mr. and Mrs. Horvath. Guests were welcomed to an open bar, using the password “banana.”

Big Surprise

New Girl: Nick puts together a touching video montage of all of Jess’ friends, co-workers, parents, and students, each saying what they like most about the quirky teacher. 

Girls: After Charlie posts Marnie’s embarrassing music video on YouTube, the absentminded friend decides to prove her singing abilities at Hannah’s party. She invites Hannah on stage for a surprise duet of “Take Me or Leave Me,” something Hannah swore to never do again. And by the look on her “Birthday Bitch” face, she’s not having it.

Unnecessary Conflict

New Girl: While I’m glad the writers have picked up on the conflict between Winston and Coach (now there isn’t a single “token black guy” on the show), I’m not sure their cake-bake-off was the best way to show their division. However, I’m glad that they’ve finally settled their differences in the name of Jess Day’s birthday.

Girls: After telling off Shoshanna for doing nothing (literally, he started the conversation), a drunk Ray gets into a shouting fight with Hannah’s editor/Edward Norton lookalike, David because the bartender changed the song during Ray’s request. Ranting about “song cues” and “what’s right,” David shoves him into a coffee table and they tussle.

Ending

New Girl: Everyone is happy in the movie theater! Yay! And then Schmidt’s epic green screen moments happen, and it gets even better.

Girls: Hannah and Adam return to their apartment to find Adam’s deranged sister, Caroline, naked and cutting herself in the bathroom. Hannah and Adam agree it would be inappropriate to have sex in this situation, so they don’t.

When I posted this, I thought it would be creative and witty and never-before-seen. Then I saw other people blogging about the same birthday parties and I felt inadequate. So, take this with a grain of salt…or two.

Not a Netflix Pick: NOBODY WALKS

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My respect for the very talented and very funny Lena Dunham has turned a little sour after watching Nobody Walks, a film she penned about a young, struggling filmmaker, Martine, (Olivia Thirlby) who seeks the help of a middle-aged sound technician, Peter, (John Krasinski) to complete her project.

In typical Dunham fashion, she makes all the female characters into hardcore feminist figures, exposing their sexuality to their male counterparts with no intention of making a meaningful connection.

Martine comes from New York stay at the West Coast home of Peter and Julie (Rosemarie DeWitt) to work on her film. Julie, a semi-famed feminist and psychologist, has an interesting relationship with one of her patients, in that he has an unquenched attraction towards her. Similarly, her teenage daughter, Kolt, leads on three separate men in a sort of coming-of-age side story.

To be quite honest, I’m not sure how any of the characters truly change in this film. If anything, Peter and Julie’s marriage is damaged and Martine’s film is left unfinished.

What I do like about this film, which can be found on Netflix, is the cinematography and the attention to sound that it gives. Seeing as the central plot is about creating sound for Martine’s film, it was an interesting, almost introspective spin on this Sundance nominated movie.

If you, too, are a fan of Dunham and her HBO show Girls, I would suggest you check out Tiny Furniture, an oddly hysterical story of a college grad who tries to make something of her life. This, too, can be found on Netflix.

CRITICS’ CHOICE TELEVISION AWARDS 2013

Last night, the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA) presented the third annual Critics’ Choice Television Awards. The always funny Retta of Parks and Recreation hosted the night of triumphs and snubs. Although winner Patton Oswald (Best Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for Parks and Recreation) noted that the ceremony was only being broadcasted on UStream to “Internet shut-ins,” I highly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the acceptance speeches.

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When the nominations were released last month, I tweeted my support for three underdogs: Eden Sher for The Middle, Alex Karpovsky for Girls, and Elisabeth Moss for Top of the Lake. Probably because the critics read my tweets, both Sher and Moss took home the awards in their respective categories. However, Sher tied for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series with the blown-out-of-proportion The Big Bang Theory star, Kaley Cuoco. Sher noted that this was her second happiest moment, “right after [her] bat mitzvah.” As for Moss, who basically robbed Jessica Lange of the award for Best Actress in a Movie or Mini-Series, she joked that she had no one from Mad Men to thank, since this was her first ever big-scale recognition as an actor.

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Lange’s co-stars, Sarah Paulson and Zachary Quinto, redeemed her loss by snagging their well-deserved awards for Best Supporting Actress and Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series, respectively, for their bone-chilling roles in FX’s American Horror Story: Asylum.

Although I have yet to see HBO’s Behind the Candelabra, I wasn’t too keen on it taking home the awards for Best Movie or Mini-Series and Best Actor in a Movie or Mini-Series (Michael Douglas). I was pulling for AHS to take home the big award and for Benedict Cumberbatch to receive some sort of recognition for his hauntingly detached portrayal of Christopher Tietjens in HBO’s Parade’s End. Let’s hope the Emmys don’t get it wrong, too.

As far as drama goes, HBO’s Game of Thrones and AMC’s Breaking Bad tied for Best Drama Series. And while I think a tie is sort of a cop-out, both shows have been groundbreaking in the past year and deserve the recognition.

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While Bryan Cranston added another trophy to his collection for his work on Breaking Bad, newcomer Tatiana Maslany, from BBC America’s Orphan Black, scored her first acting award. Although I’ve yet to see this show, her win over the likes of Claire Danes, Elisabeth Moss (the night’s only double-nominee), and Julianna Margulies prove that I’m missing out on the next best thing.

The Supporting Actor and Actress in a Drama Series never go to who I want, which is why Michael Cudlitz of TNT’s Southland and Monica Potter of NBC’s Parenthood took home the awards. I didn’t know anyone watched these shows, let alone the critics!

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And in terms of the comedy awards, I don’t really want to talk about it. The Big Bang Theory took home three-too-many awards, but the one silver lining was Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ win for HBO’s Veep, in which she portrays a fictional Vice President of the United States. Louie C.K. took home the award for Best Actor in a Comedy Series and his countless wins keep reminding me to watch his show.

A common theme throughout the night’s acceptance speeches was the diversification of television today. No longer are the four broadcast networks the kings. Stations like AMC and FX are continuing to define television, and newcomers like the Sundance Channel and even Netflix are following in their footsteps.

While the ceremony was underway, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences posted the ballots for the 2013 Emmy Awards. The nomination period closes on June 28 and the ceremony will take place September 22, just in time for fall programming.

FAMILY TREE Flops

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After binging on episodes of HBO’s Veep, I came across the new series, Family Tree; sadly, my high expectations for an HBO comedy were not met.

From creator Christopher Guest (The Princess Bride) comes this quirky, British mockumentary that follows the deadbeat Tom Chadwick (Chris O’Dowd from Bridesmaids) as he explores his family heritage after his great aunt dies and leaves him a trunk of seemingly useless knickknacks.

I think the source of my dislike for this show is my dislike for Irish actor Chris O’Dowd. His scenes in Bridesmaids seemed forced to me and his short-lived gig on Girls didn’t help his cause, either.

This show also doesn’t seem to have the right audience. From an American creator on an American television network, the show is chalk full of British humor. Take Tom’s troubled sister Bea, for example. Played by well-renowned ventriloquist (or as well-renowned as a ventriloquist can be) Nina Conti, Bea carries her companion Monkey around with her, and nobody seems to question the ridiculousness of her quirk.

Another problem I have with Family Tree is its forced mockumentary format. For shows like The Office and Modern Family, the testimonials have an implied purpose – to take a look at the American workplace and the modern American family, respectively. But for Family Tree, what is the purpose? Unless his family knew that Tom would go on a quest to discover his family’s ancestry, the camera crew seems outlandish and unnecessary.

So far, I’ve only seen the pilot, rightfully dubbed, “The Box,” in which Tom receives his inheritance of a strange assortment of trinkets. However, I do not think I will be returning for the subsequent episodes.

Flashback: GIRL(S) Season 2

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Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have way too much time on my hands. And as I pace my way through the new season of Arrested Development, I have had time to binge on shows that I lost throughout the school year. One of which is HBO’s Girls, and if you could guess by this post’s title, the second season isn’t so much about the “girls” as it is a girl – Hannah.

While I fully support Lena Dunham in being the actor/writer/director she is, I feel as though season two of the Golden Globe winning and Emmy nominated series turned into a one-woman show, rather than an ensemble piece.

For example, in the episode “One Man’s Trash,” Dunham puts Hannah inside a forty-something’s brownstone and they begin an elongated (in terms of a thirty minute episode) affair for the day. Now, where was the sweet-loving Shoshanna in this episode? What was the beautiful and lonely Marnie up to that day? Was Jessa doing something intelligently stupid? If the show is called Girls, I want to see all the girls, darn it!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but did season two have a scene with all four of the girls? They have a dinner party in one of the earlier episodes, but Jessa is off with her husband.

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I still remember the image (shown above) that really intrigued me about the show. It comes from season one and the four friends are sitting uncomfortably on a New York City bench – their postures clearly define their personalities and the huddled mass reveals something completely innate about the relationship that they have with one another.

Despite my one complaint, the second season did not flop entirely. I will say, however, that the first five episodes show much more creativity and vigor from Dunham than the later five.

The introduction of Donald Glover and Andrew Rannells into the cast as Hannah’s new boyfriend and roommate certainly added some new angles for the show.

Both Marnie (Allison Williams) and Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) show tremendous character growth in this season. Marnie, who has it all during season one, essentially loses it all at the season’s turnover and is left to pick up the pieces in season two. Her instability drives her into an indescribable relationship with artist Booth Jonathan –arguable the most brilliant character Dunham created – and comes to the conclusion that she wants to be a singer.

Shoshanna, on the other hand, gets it all in season two. However, her thirty-something boyfriend is in a deadbeat job and she begins to question the world as only the fast-paced, innocent Shoshanna could.

Jessa (Jemima Kirke) is the only girl that has no character development. Actually, she disappears in the fifth episode – quite literally, too. This contributes to my whole Girls vs. Girl argument. Why did Dunham bother introducing this interesting-minded character only to have her disappear for half of the season? I hope it wasn’t to give Hannah more airtime picking at her ears with a Q-tip.

In the end, there is something that keeps me watching. Maybe it’s that image from the first season of the girls on that city bench. Maybe it’s Marnie’s singing of Kanye West’s “Stronger.” Maybe is just Shoshanna. Regardless, bring on season three, Lena Dunham!