Thursday, October 02, 2014

Last Girl

So yesterday was the last day of filming on “Lost Girl.” The. Last. Day. I can’t really wrap my head around this although I knew it was going to happen and had accepted its inevitability. Still, the finality of losing this show is only now just setting in.

I think it was the tweets of the show’s stars that made it finally real:

For those of us who have watched all these years, this is a bittersweet moment. It’s sweet, because the cast and crew were given the respect to go out with a proper final season. But it’s also bitter because these stories could have go on for so much longer.

It really doesn’t seem all that long ago that a reserved human doctor found herself lost in the beauty of a mysterious succubus patient. It was in that moment where Lauren let her fingertips linger seconds too long and too far along the epic curves of Bo’s back that I knew I was a goner.

Has it been perfect? No, of course not. There have been missteps and misfires and missed opportunities. But what it has done during its time on the air is worth recognizing because of its singularity. This is the first show (broadcast or cable) to air in the U.S. that features a bisexual female character as its central character. Not as part of a main ensemble, not as a secondary character, not as a sidekick, not as a plot device – as the lead. Bo is the Lost Girl. And this is Bo’s show.

That alone would make the show special, but that it has never tiptoed around (or even made a big deal of) Bo’s sexuality is extraordinary on its own. Bo is bisexual and thus has relationships and sex with women and men. How could she not? She’s a succubus: it’s kind of her raison d’être. In representing those relationships (and hookups) the show has never flinched or flailed. Sure, we may not agree with which team she picks at any given moment (Team Doccubus 4 Lyfe, yo). But they were all there out in the open for us to love or hate, come what may.

I wish more people had found Lost Girl during its run. Granted, it’s not for everyone. But it’s good, really good, fun. This show deserves more credit than it has received, and more of a following. But those who are tuned in are fiercely loyal for a reason. I am going to miss the hell out of this crazy little show.

Lost Girl is (almost) over. Long live Lost Girl.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Not Batty

Be honest, kittens. What do you think of “Gotham” so far? Only two episodes into the new series, I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to make a snap judgment yet. Because there’s a lot I like about this new Batman prequel. The tone and style are both slick and familiar. This feels like the guy in the batsuit’s universe, even if he isn’t big enough to fit in those britches just yet. I decided to tune in for a couple of reasons. One, comic universes can be fun; and two, Det. Renee Montoya.

If you haven’t watched (or aren’t familiar with the Batverse) the set-up is still pretty simple. The city of Gotham is terribly corrupt. The mobsters have the cops in their pocket. Bruce Wayne watched his parents get killed in an alley and rookie Det. Jim Gordon vows to solve their murders. And Major Crime Unit Det. Montoya is a big old lesbian who used to date Jim Gordon’s fiancée. There, all caught up.

The trick of Gotham is to introduce a constellation of characters – The Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman – before they became their famous monikers. Right now we’re paying a lot of attention to one Oswald Cobblepot, before he took to wearing top hats and monocle, and crime boss Paddy Doyle Carmine Falcone. We’re also getting a lot of bad ass bitch from one Fish Mooney. If you’re a D.C. Comics loyalist and like, Fish who?, you are not alone. This baddie was made up for the series and to give Jada Pinkett Smith gainful employment so she could try out a somewhat perplexing new speech pattern. Like, is it an accent, I really can’t figure it out. But, whatever, she looks great.

They’ve already set up a bit of a love triangle between Jim, his fiancée Barbara and Renee. I’d say it’s a step forward to have a lesbian character vying for the affection of the male lead’s girl. But it’s also one of those no-win situations. Here’s hoping they let Renee move on quickly and find an actually available love interest in the not-so distant future.

The show seems to be trying to straddle the line between camp and grittiness, which is to say it’s like they put Adam West and Chris Nolan in a blender and hit puree. It’s not fully one or the other right now, and imperfectly so. It is tending more toward the dark and throat slashy so far, with only a dash of the absurd. There is also a lot of yelling, from everyone. But time often helps smooth out these tonal problems.

Really, the main problem I have with “Gotham” so far is Jim Gordon himself. I understand that the entire premise is how a good man stays good in an evil world. But, damn, is he boring. I don’t think Ben Mckenzie is a bad actor, but so far he is doing a swell impersonation of a brick in a suit. But it’s not really his fault, because so far the only characteristic given to him is “Righteousness.” Snoozeville.

So, what do you think? All I know is they better give Det. Montoya more to do than look around skeptically and pine away for her ex-girlfriend. I mean, granted, it’s a fairly accurate representation of some favorite lesbian activities, but still.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Vive la Mariska!

Has anyone done this yet? No? Yes? Well, either way, it had to be done. Vive la Mariska! Please enjoy the rest of your Tuesday.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Megan + Graham 4EVA

My heart, my But I’m a Cheerleader heart. Natasha Lyonne and Clea DuVall continue to make me believe Megan and Graham made it. After all these years, it’s fun to dream those two crazy kids are still together and making super cheesy cheers together. But what we do know is Nataha and Clea made it as friend all these years. Late last week, Natasha posted a series of tweets on Clea’s birthday. She has been posting for the last couple weeks about filming “Fresno” with Judy Greer and But I’m a Cheerleader director Jamie Babbit. And then Clea showed up to hang out or possibly be part of the production. Fingers crossed for the latter. Also, they were shooting in a sex shop. Yet still managed to look adorable. Like here. And here. And here. And again here. Yeah, admit it. Your heart skipped a little beat. Siiiiiigh. Go on without me. I’ll just be rewatching But I’m a Cheerleader for the millionth time, +1.

Friday, September 26, 2014

My Weekend Crush

The latest True Detective Season 2 casting rumor is that Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch might be rounding out the cast, joining already announced Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn. I love me some Regina George, but still – no, thank you. Instead, imagine if Tiny Detective was a reality instead. Finally, a TV series that speaks to me on a deep, personal level as a short woman in America. Actually, I’d watch the hell out of any show with Ellen Page and Kate Mara even if it didn’t so poignantly tackle the vertically challenged. Now, fetch me at step ladder. Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now

I’m going to admit something embarrassing. It took me much longer than it should have to get the not-so hidden wordplay within the “Transparent” title. (p.s. It’s “Trans” and “Parent,” in case you’re dense like me. But you’re not. So feel free to laugh.) And now I’m going to admit something else, after watching the “Transparent” trailer about a month ago it took until this last weekend to watch the (totally free) pilot episode on Amazon Instant. Yes, I know. I already said I was dense.

Now that I’ve owned up to my own stupidity, let’s talk about this really smart show. Sure, I’ve only just seen the one episode. But already you can tell this is a sharp, funny and simply lovely new series. I’m pretty sure this is one of my favorite new show of the season, if not several seasons. And, again, I’ve only seen just the one episode.

The series (which is on Amazon which, I know, weird) comes from Jill Soloway whose past work includes “Six Feet Under” and “United States of Tara.” And while Jill isn’t gay, she has a lesbian sister and has featured nuanced lesbian and bisexual storylines in a lot of her work. She shows an effortless understanding of the fluidity inherent in the gender spectrum as well as an innate understanding of the discomfort that can cause to those accustomed to strictly this or that.

What “Transparent” does expertly is invite us into the life of Maura (formerly Mort) as she comes out to her adult children and make us feel like we’ve been casually watching them for ages. They don’t seem like strangers, but people we’ve met and perhaps had brunch with over the years. We understand them instantly in a distant way that recognizes there are edges and dark corners they’ve hidden from you all along. As a pre-transition Mort tells his youngest daughter, “Boy, it is so hard when someone sees something you do not want them to see.”

We could talk at length about the very talented cast: Jeffrey Tambor as transitioning Mort/Maura, Amy Landecker (who is a dead ringer for Amy Brenneman) as rich stay-at-home mom Sarah, Gaby Hoffmann (who is on a streak after being so great in “Girl”) as unfocused youngest daughter Ally and Jay Duplass as music industry hipster Josh (who like to date his clientele, the younger the better). They’re all excellent. And if you haven’t already, make sure you have a mirror ready when you realize butch uber dyke Tammy is Jan from “The Office” actress Melora Hardin. The mirror is to see how far your jaw drops, by the way.

Amazon will release the entire first season on Friday. And already I can’t wait to spend my weekend with these people. Sure, they’re messy and imperfect, selfish and at times unable to see what is so clearly in front of them. But then, aren’t we all.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

True Dudebro

Oh look, they’ve cast True Detective Season 2 and its…zzzzzz. Oh, sorry. Dozed off there. Because it was two utterly uninteresting straight white men and I could not muster enough of an iota of interest to stay conscious. Fine, it’s and Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn…zzzzz. Oops, lapsed into an apathy coma again.

There are only a handful of actors I can think of that I want to watch less in a serious “prestige” drama than Vince Vaughn. Maybe Rob Schneider? Or Justin Bieber? Vince’s screen persona is the physical manifestation of Dudebro Culture, a perpetual manchild whose emotional depth is as complex as a chest bump. But, by all means, cast him in a series that has already been heavily criticized for its machismo and misogyny.

Look, it’s not a crime to cast two white straight men as the leads in a high-profile series. But it’s boring. And it’s another missed opportunity to make the world a little less boring. (For reference, please see yesterday’s post.) But HBO with all its power and prestige, has decided that Colin and Vince are deserving of such a platform. (p.s. Yes, I know there might be one or two other leads cast who may or may not be a person of color or a female person. Or maybe a POC or woman will be the victim because we’ve never, ever seen that happen before on television ever.) I guess what irks me most is how many other actors deserve a chance to be great, but are simply never afforded the opportunity because we’re too busy giving second chances to boring straight white men.

Yawn. In the end, casting news like this reminds me that the echo chamber of pop culture loves to congratulate itself of rewarding the unextraordinary. Give me a “Top of the Lake.” Give me “The Fall.” Hell, give me “Sleepy Hallow” and “Elementary.” Anything that isn’t just an endless array of interchangeable guys. Because, dude, zzzzzzz.

p.s. Ray Velcoro is a terrible name. But no worse than Rust Cohle, so I don’t know why I would expect more.

p.p.s. I would watch the hell out of Bert and Ernie in True Detective Season 2, because we all know they’re not straight.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

No Country for Angry Black Women Stereotypes

If you love talking about television like I love talking about television, you probably have heard the furor around The New York Times TV critic Alessandra Stanley’s profile of TV megaproducer Shonda Rhimes that was published online late last week. In short, the article, which was a backhanded way of promoting the new ShondaLand series “How To Get Away With Murder,” became a backhanded slap at all black women. It rightfully made black women – and pretty much any rational thinking person – very angry. Why?

Well, this was the lede:

When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.”
It didn’t get much better from there. She discusses how Rhimes likes to showcase “powerful, intimidating black woman” characters. And how her new series star Viola Davis is “less classically beautiful” than other stars. She explains that ultimately Shonda took Viola’s character (and her other black female characters) and “recast it in her own image.” Though, small problem, Shonda isn’t even the creator or writer of “How to Get Away With Murder.” Ooof.

Nothing like reducing an incredibly talented and prolific television creator and producer to that ugly, old stereotype of the “Angry Black Woman.”

Naturally, there was a lot of deserved outrage about this. Like here. And here. Also here.

So much furor was caused that the NYT Public Editor Margaret Sullivan waded into the fray and took her own rightful slap at Alessandra’s piece saying “it delivered that message in a condescending way that was – at best – astonishingly tone-deaf and out of touch.”

Not to be outdone, Alessandra responded back by proving her tone-deaf, out of touchness by saying in the same post:
“….I so often write arch, provocative ledes that are then undercut or mitigated by the paragraphs that follow.”
Guys! It’s not that she is racist. It’s that WE DIDN’T GET HER ARCHNESS. Duh!

You might think that this is a lot of meta, inside baseball talk about the media. But what it really is is a serious discussion about race and television. And it’s a pointed look at how our media institutions value an entire institution. Because it seems to me that in order to be even a somewhat passable television critic, one must first actually like television. You don’t have to love everything on television, clearly. Because, holy shit, is there a lot of crap.

But you do need to, as a medium, appreciate and respect its potential and power. At very least, you need to actually watch it. But The New York Times, our paper of record, seems to hate television. Why else would it have gainfully employed arguably America’s Worst TV Critic since 2003.

This isn’t just one terrible article and tone-deaf mistake from a TV critic. Everyone makes mistakes. This is a TV critic who has proven for over a decade she is terrible and tone deaf. At this point, her mistakes are legend.

Who can forget that hit comedy “All About Raymond,” right? And who doesn’t fondly remember that segment she wrote about that DID NOT EVEN AIR on the day of Ann Curry’s departure from “Today,” eh? And I sure know I love Stephen Colbert and his “trustiness,” don’t you? (Yes, more irony, the women whose writing defines “truthiness” didn’t even get that right.)

When about revered newsman Walter Cronkite died her obituary for him contained not one, not two, not three but SEVEN FUCKING ERRORS. That’s the way it isn’t, in Alessandra’s world.

Read Gawker’s continuing archives on her terribleness for a good laugh/cry depending on how you’re feeling.

Hell, Margaret Sullivan isn’t even the first NYT Public Editor to take her to task. Two Public Editors ago, then ombudsman Clark Hoyt called her “a television critic with a history of errors” when writing about the Cronkite debacle.

But guess what, SHE IS STILL EMPLOYED.

I don’t watch any of Shonda Rhimes’ shows regularly anymore. But it’s not for lack of quality (it has more to do with time and ability to follow soapy storylines in a timely fashion). Yet I admire the hell out of her for bringing such rich casts and stories to out televisions. She has created wonderful roles and opportunities for people of color and created meaningful and thought-provoking LGBT storylines.

I was lucky enough to briefly interview Shonda at the GLAAD Awards a couple years ago and what I noticed about her in our very short time together wasn’t anything even close to anger. It never even crossed my mind. What I did notice was how smart she was and how, as an interviewer, my main goal was to keep up and not sound stupid.

The kicker of Sullivan’s post on the matter is perhaps the most telling of all:
“The Times has a number of high-ranked editors and prominent writers who are people of color, but it’s troubling that among 20 critics, not one is black and only one is a person of color.”
And that, my friends, is exactly why the world is better place thanks to ShondaLand. This is no country for Angry Black Women stereotypes. We need more Shondas and less Alessandra’s in the world to make it a stronger, smarter, more inclusive place. I have no idea how this woman gets away with being the America’s Worst TV Critic. But let it be known, we are not listening anymore.

p.s For some lovely uplift, please check out our friend Lesley’s post at The Hollywood Reporter where she asked 30 of Shonda’s stars to describe her in three words. Hint: None of the words are “Angry Black Woman.”

p.p.s. I took that photo of Shonda on the 2012 GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco. Me. But the excellent side eye. Yeah, that’s all Shonda.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Accio Feminism

Don’t you like it when someone you thought would grow up nicely does just that? Emma Watson, a.k.a. Hermione Granger, was named a UN Women's Goodwill Ambassador earlier this year. And this weekend she helped launch the HeForShe Campaign for gender equality. Hermione Emma spoke at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on feminism and gender equality. It’s a rather stirring speech, and proof positive that sometimes you can tell from a very, very early age when someone is just a good egg. That Harry Potter girl, she’s definitely one of them.

Friday, September 19, 2014

My Weekend Crush

Sometimes I fall in love with songs ridiculously late. I have no one buy myself to blame, obviously. This is partly because my new song consumption consists of what I hear on the radio driving to and from work and/or getting groceries, mostly. The other part is because of my cranky resistance at watching music vides online – isn’t that what MTV should be for? But now, four months after it was released, I’ve finally watched the video for Sia’s “Chandelier.” I loved the song at first listen, but kind of forgot about it. But for whatever reason it has been coming on a lot on my drives again – or maybe I’ve just been taking more road trips. And I finally took the time to watch the video. Holy shit. And then I watched her live performance (complete with tiny dancer) on Ellen from earlier this year. Holy shiiittt. Now I feel doubly terrible for ignoring this song for so long. Stupid, stupid me. I should have known better, since my love for Sia’s work (and Sia’s weirdness) is already well documented. Long story short, I may be the last member on the late bus, but I will happily give credit where credit is due. Sia’s “Chandelier” is amazing. But then, you already knew that months and months and months ago. Happy weekend, all.

p.s. “Chandelier” is, indeed, amazing. But trying to sing along with “Chandelier” in the car proves how un-amazing a singer you really are. Them notes? They’re hard. Damn hard.

p.p.s. OMG, you guys, thanks to this video I can now sing “Chandelier” no problem. Even Sia loves it. I haven’t laughed so hard at something I am not sure I was supposed to laugh at in a long time. AHM GOHNA SWEEN FRAHNA CHEHNDOLEE! FRAHNA CHEHNDOLEE!!