Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Five Favorite New Shows of 2014

Happy almost New Year, everyone! Have you made your resolutions yet? Have you already broken them? Fabulous. That's what the holidays are for! You have a whole year to get back on track, so for now, no stress allowed.


It feels incredible to take a break from stress, I must say. 2014 has been an incredible and jam-packed year for me, full of change, fun, and joy for so many reasons. But now that I finally have some time off to reflect on the year that's passed, I realized I was so busy, I only got to write a fraction of what I would have liked for this blog, and I barely made a dent in my list of new shows to watch. As I started to work on this post, at first I was worried that I wouldn't be able to create a best-of list with my glaring lack of exposure to what most critics would consider the best shows of the year. Instead, I'm going to tell you about the five new shows that made my 2014 special (with a few honorable mentions of course). So get in your new comfy robe and grab the last cup of egg nog - let's review the best newbies of the year!


Broad City (my personal favorite!)


If I could give you one gift this holiday season, it's the gift of watching this perfect, hilarious, gem of a show (my Christmas gift to myself this year was the DVD of Season 1 which was released earlier this month). Broad City follows the oh-so-relatable and laugh-out-loud adventures of real life friends, Abbi and Ilana as they work, play, and smoke their way through their twenties in New York City. All year, I practically forced Broad City on people, and wouldn't rest until folks who I knew would love it were as invested as I was - I even saw them live, twice, and laughed like a straight up crazy person. Trust me, watching these two women simply interact will bring you more joy than most of what's on television at the moment. And after you blow through all ten episodes, you won't have long to wait for Season 2! It premieres on Wednesday, January 14th at 10:30 on Comedy Central. DUDE. It can't come quickly enough.


You're The Worst


My wonderful boyfriend (who knows my sense of humor to a T) turned me onto this new FX comedy which I happily gobbled up - as he happily re-watched - in less than a week. Centered around Jimmy and Gretchen - a couple who would normally be the screwed-up sidekicks to the main character on another show - You're The Worst is a romantic comedy full of dark humor, earned emotion, and dialogue so sharp and outrageous, you can feel the sting through the screen. As our two anti-heroes traverse the tricky road that leads to a real relationship, we join them as they grow, mess-up, self-destruct, and put the pieces back together on the way to adulthood. The best news is, Jimmy and Gretchen will return to our TVs for a much deserved second season that I'm already beyond pumped to watch, and write about, come summer 2015.


Enlisted



What a shame that such an optimistic, funny, smart, and beautifully acted show had to be canceled after only one season. With only 13 delightful episodes - and one of the best sitcom series finales in recent history - Enlisted brought us to a Rear-D unit in Florida, building a world around three Army brothers and their fellow soldiers that felt fully formed after just a few short installments. Tackling tough subjects gracefully with both humor and heart, Enlisted and its truly talented ensemble will be missed. Here's hoping for a DVD or Netflix release some time in the future, but for now, you can share this one with your family over Hulu or iTunes this holiday. You won't regret it.


Rick and Morty


A weird, wacky cartoon adventure like I've never seen before, Rick and Morty was just plain, effed-up Adult Swim fun. From the comedy genius brains of Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland, this show took well known film tropes and bent them around a crazy, drunk inventor and his anxious grandson as they travel through space and time together. In the grand tradition of cartoons meant for adults, Rick and Morty pushed the boundaries in the best ways this year with episodes like "Meeseeks and Destroy" and "Rixty Minutes" that explored some dark themes in clever, and riotous ways. Will some of the through-lines from last year (alternate-reality Ricks!) come back in Season 2? We'll have to wait until mid-2015 to find out.


Playing House


I wasn't completely sold on Playing House when it first aired, but since it starred two of my favorite improv comedians, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham, I stuck with the USA series, and I'm so thankful I did. Each week, it grew into a heartfelt, laugh riot of a show, filled with great little moments between the two leads that felt so relatable, it was a pleasure to tune in. This unique show about two best friends preparing to raise a baby together (created by two best friends who both have children of their own), was on the fence to be picked up for so many months, I had just about lost hope that we would get to see a second season. Luckily, USA picked it up earlier this month, so we'll get a whole new crop of episodes some time in 2015! Until then, enjoy the first ten installments of this sweet series online with some good friends!


Honorable Mention: Marry Me 


This show is on the right track to becoming one of the funnier network comedies out there. From the creator of my all-time-favorite, Happy Endings, and with casting that was tailor-made for me (Ken Marino, Casey Wilson, John Gemberling, Tim Meadows, I mean, come on!), I'll be willing to forgive its slightly rocky start as it develops into a consistently funny half-hour. Look out for my review of this wedding-centered hang-out sitcom as it continues it's first season in 2015.


Honorable Mention, "Not Really New" Category: The Comeback


It was great to have Valerie Cherish (played by the always perfect Lisa Kudrow) back on television ten years after the Comeback's first season was thought to be it's last. While the first few episodes were a little rough, the season as a whole was great television, full of cringe-worthy moments, returning characters, and sharp commentary on Hollywood and the celebrity machine. I'm not sure as of this writing if it's ever coming back, but I'd be perfectly satisfied if the excellent, emotional ending we got this year was the conclusion to Valerie's story. 


Hmm…seems like all my favorites of 2014 were comedies. Peculiar how those things work out! I guess next year I'll have to get to my long list of dramas that I've been putting off. Hey! Now there's a resolution I just might be able to keep.

Happy New Year, everyone, and thanks for reading! See you in 2015 for more TV fun!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Going to Bat for Gotham

Welcome to October! Since it's been feeling like summer here in New York - which, aside from some big hair days lately, I couldn't be happier about - it's easy to forget we're in the throws of the spookiest month of the year. While there's no shortage of creepy programming on the air to keep TV fans satisfied until way past Halloween night, there's one new thriller out there that's really got me hooked: Gotham.


As I wrote in my fall preview, I was really looking forward to the premiere of Gotham, and after four episodes, I have to say I'm not disappointed. Gotham is dark, pulp fun; a caper-of-the-week serial with a familiar, series-long story running through it's center. The saga of Bruce Wayne and Gotham city isn't anything new, but the pre-Batman world that Gotham is creating has opened it up to fresh possibilities, creative takes on old characters, and new additions to the ever-growing Batman mythology. With everyone suffering from potential TV superhero overload (Arrow, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., et al), I totally get that pitching another comic book based series is a tall order, but this one is pretty good, and someone's gotta do it! Note: I have seen the past four episodes of the series for review, but I won't be spoiling any plot points for you in this post, so read freely, and check out Gotham for yourself, Mondays at 8PM on Fox!


Gotham's cast has been bringing new life to some very iconic characters, and that's not an easy task. For example, Sean Pertwee plays everyone's favorite butler, Alfred Pennyworth, in a way we've never seen before - gruff, cold, and no-nonsense. While I found myself wishing at times for Michael Caine to walk through the door and give Bruce a much needed hug (his recent portrayal of the character in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy was much kinder than what we get here), I like that the show is willing to make some fundamental changes like this in order to set itself apart from what came before it. Similarly, we get a look at the lives of Bruce Wayne, played by David Mazouz, and Catwoman, played by Camren Bicondova, as young teenagers, bringing a new perspective that helps shed light on who they will eventually become and why. The kids are also not really the series' focus at this point, which leaves room to explore some new additions to the Batman universe. One of these is Fish Mooney (a truly badass Jada Pinkett Smith), a terrifying nightclub owner with an Eartha Kitt voice who's got the police in her pocket, and designs on overthrowing her boss, mafia don, Carmine Falcone (John Doman), and taking control of Gotham herself.


Gotham is a city where even those who are meant to protect its citizens can't be trusted, and with good reason. Detective Harvey Bullock (played by one of my favorite actors, Donal Logue), is one such corrupt cop who works for Falcone and is willing to keep secrets, frame people, and lead a double life in order to keep his superiors happy. When straight-edge Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) becomes Bullock's partner, the two clash, and tensions rise as the lies begin to pile up between them.  Logue provides a lot of necessary comic relief during these tense moments, along with a very funny Robin Lord Taylor as a young Oswald "Penguin" Cobblepot, another future foe for the caped crusader.


Yes, Gotham isn't exactly the most subtle show out there. Some of the acting (specifically McKenzie's) is over the top, you can see the scares coming from a mile away (although I must admit, they still make me jump), and the foreshadowing is a little heavy handed at times (we all get that the coroner, Edward Nygma, played by Cory Michael Smith, is going to become The Riddler, Gotham; you don't have to hit us over the head with it). But for a show like this, I don't think subtlety is a must. Gotham should learn from big successes like Sleepy Hollow, though, and take itself a little less seriously, play up the fun, film noir thrills, and dial back on the more melodramatic aspects that don't seem to fully fit the theme.


Gotham has done a great job of world building in these past four episodes, so hopefully with the characters we've already met, and the many others from the Bat-verse that are sure to arrive, there won't be any shortage of rich plot lines to come. Since we're currently DVR-less at my new place, Gotham has literally become appointment viewing for my roommate, Meagan, and me, and as the series evolves, I hope it stays that way. Because while Gotham certainly has room to grow, I plan on spending my Monday nights as a citizen of this crazy, messed-up city until further notice.

Got any opinions on the show? Leave 'em in the comments - I'd love to know what casual fans (like myself) and hard-core Batman obsessives think, and if you have any suggestions for other superhero shows I should check out this season! A new episode of Gotham airs tomorrow, Monday, October 20th  at 8PM on Fox.

Come back next time for a look at the new crop of fall sitcoms! Until then, happy watching!


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Fall TV Preview: 2014 Edition

Welcome to fall, friends! Today's the official last day of summer, and as sad as I am to see my favorite season go, I'm looking forward to this fall more than ever for a number of reasons. After years of post-college couch surfing and instability, I'm enjoying the change of season in my new place by the beach, taking on an exciting new internship, and making it through my final year of grad school. And aside from all the other wonders fall has to offer (sweatshirt weather, apple picking, all the pumpkin flavored things we've been denied the rest of the year) in just a few short weeks, I'll be turing the big 25. Let the quarter life crisis celebration begin!



With all of these crazy adjustments, it's been hard to stay current on what's happening this TV pilot season, but I've finally sat down long enough in one place to tell you what I'm most looking forward to (and what I'm happy to skip) come autumn. If you were here last year, you know the drill: sit back, grab that pumpkin beer out of the fridge, and put on your coziest snuggie. It's time for my Fall TV Preview: 2014 Edition! *Note: I haven't seen the pilot for any of the following shows (except for NBC's A to Z) so everything that follows is merely a guess at what I'll like and pass on this season. Only time will tell, so stick with me through the fall for reviews of the shows below as I check out their premieres!


New Shows:

Yay!


I'm really excited for the shows in this category - I'll hopefully be watching at least the first few episodes of each for review.

Gotham (Fox) September 22nd at 8PM

This one looks interesting: a look at the life of a young Bruce Wayne, Gotham promises to bring a new perspective to the character, following him through his teen years before his chapter as Batman begins. Featuring one of my personal favorites, Donal Logue, as Detective Harvey Bullock, and a creepy turn from Jada Pinkett Smith as nightclub owner Fish Mooney, this dark origin story has the potential to be one of my new favorite dramas.

black-ish (ABC) September 24th at 9:30PM

Let's be honest, it's been quite a while since we had a network sitcom centering around a black family, which, for this child of the 90's (and a viewer of all of the diverse TV programming that came with them) has seemed like a glaring cultural omission. black-ish, ABC's new family sitcom, seems like the breath of fresh air network TV needs this year in terms of telling the kinds of diverse stories that have been missing lately from the comedy landscape. After reading some early reviews, it's clear the show has some very smart things to say about race, perception, and the clash that comes from how different generations of black Americans view their cultural identities, all while being, oh yeah, a hilarious sitcom featuring the likes of Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne. Can't wait to put this pilot on my watch list.

Transparent (Amazon) September 26th, streaming

Amazon introduces it's new streaming network with Transparent, a show about a Dad (Jeffrey Tambor) who comes out as transgender to his ex-wife and kids. Based on the real-life experience of creator Jill Soloway, this show is opening up the conversation about gender identity in a big way, and looks to be an emotional, funny, and unique look at one family's journey through self-discovery.

Gracepoint (Fox) October 2nd at 9PM

An remake of Broadchurch, one of my favorite shows of 2013, Gracepoint features a similar season-long case, and, interestingly, the same lead actor from the original, David Tennant (new American accent, same brooding, mysterious persona). With Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn as his partner in this version, I'm hoping the series brings a unique story to the table while keeping the parts that made it's inspiration so beautiful and exciting to watch. It's a tall order, but if they can pull it off, I'll be in it for the long haul once again.

Marry Me (NBC) October 14th at 9PM

If this is anything like the dearly departed Happy Endings, then consider me fully on board. From creator David Caspe comes a sitcom centering on two of my favorite comedic actors, Casey Wilson (Happy alum and Caspe's wife) and Ken Marino and their characters' very long engagement. The preview looks great, the pedigree is there, and the premise is so refreshingly low-concept, I may be so bold as to say Marry Me could win the Brooklyn Nine-Nine "exceeded my high expectations" award for 2014. Don't let me down, NBC!

The Comeback (HBO) November 9th at 10PM

We've been waiting a loooooooong time for this one, Comeback fans! Ten years after it's initial cancellation, Valerie Cherish (played by the always wonderful, Lisa Kudrow) returns to HBO with a very meta twist on the show's original reality TV (before it was what it is today) premise. Now, she's been asked to play herself in the HBO series about the first season of the show. Head spinning yet? Don't worry. If it's anywhere near as hilarious, cringeworthy, and groundbreaking as the first season, we're in for a real treat.


OK…


Here's a few shows I'm not totally sold on, but I'm willing to give 'em a try!

Red Band Society (Fox) September 17th at 9PM

Octavia Spencer stars in this dramedy about chronically ill teens living in a hospital ward. Could be a touching, tearjerker, could be a later-seasons-of-Glee-esque train wreck. Either way, I'll at check out the pilot to see if it's up my alley.

How to Get Away With Murder (ABC) September 25th at 10PM

A Shonda Rhimes production about a college professor, played the wonderful Viola Davis, and her shady, murdering…students? Be it creepy or intriguing, I'm not sure about this one, but with Rhimes' track record, I have to give it a shot.

A to Z (NBC) October 2nd at 9:30PM

I saw an advanced release of the pilot of this one, and I'm still on the fence. Pro: the presence of the always charming Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother's final season's only saving grace). Con: It's so corny, you guys. Just so incredibly corny. Maybe the show will redeem itself come episode two?

Mulaney (Fox) October 5th at 9:30PM

John Mulaney is one of my current favorite comedians out there. His special, New In Town, can currently be streamed on Netflix, and I can't recommend it highly enough. You'd think I'd be completely sold on his sitcom, but he problem is, the preview for this show doesn't seem to highlight Mulaney's strengths, and with a multi-cam format, I'm worried this one is going to be a rough watch. Still, with SNL's Nasim Pedrad as a series regular, I'm looking forward to seeing what the show has to offer.

The Flash (CW) October 7th at 8PM

Should you add another superhero drama to your already spandex-packed television schedule this fall? I'm going to find out when I check out the pilot of this CW drama next month. So far, I've heard great things regarding how much fun this show is, but as someone with no knowledge of the comic or the backstory of this character, I'll have to see if it's good enough to make it into my line up.

Cristela (ABC) October 10th at 8:30PM


Created by stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo, this new ABC sitcom centers around a Mexican-American law school grad juggling a stressful, unpaid internship and a family who isn't exactly supportive of her career choice. I've read some great interviews with Ms. Alonzo, and I'm really excited to see the pilot of this one. The only issue is, ABC already has her in the Friday night time slot, which doesn't necessarily bode well for her chances of getting picked up for a full season.

No way. 


I'll be passing on the following new shows (unless I hear a lot that tells me otherwise) since, to put it mildly their previews and descriptions look pretty...rough. But don't take my word for it - check them out for yourself - if you must:

The Mysteries of Laura (NBC) September 17th at 10PM
Forever (ABC) September 22nd at 10PM
Selfie (ABC) September 30th at 8PM
Stalker (CBS) October 1st at 10PM

One last thing! Here's a calendar of when my favorite returning shows will premiere this season. While my new show picks are mostly guesses, I can fully vouch for the quality of everything below:

September 16th - New Girl and The Mindy Project (Seasons 4 and 3, respectively) premiered. I watched, and loved, both first episodes, and can't wait for the year to come (Fox, 9 & 9:30PM)

September 25th - Parenthood comes back for its 6th and final season (NBC, 10PM)

September 27th - Saturday Night Live's 40th season begins (NBC, 11:30PM)

September 28th - Brooklyn Nine-Nine returns for it's sophomore season (Fox, 8:30PM)

October 5th - Bob's Burgers is back with its season five premiere episode (Fox, 7:30PM)

Well, by my calculations that should take us all the way through this winter! Keep checking in for my reviews of new, and returning show premieres as they roll out over the next few months. Happy autumn everyone!




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Awards Show Rundown: 2014 Emmy's Edition!

Ah, the Emmy's. For me, tuning in every year is a no-brainer. It's an awards show? I love awards shows! And it's all about honoring the best of TV? I love honoring the best of TV! Wait, will Amy Poehler be there? Yup. I'm in for the night, no questions asked. 

Ladies and gentlemen, Beyonce!

While I really enjoyed parts of this year's ceremony, I must say I'm feeling slightly disappointed in Television's biggest night for a few reasons. For one, it was on a Monday. A Monday, people! Apparently this was the first time this had happened since 1976, and since we all know awards shows are to Sundays as Saturday Night Live is to, well, Saturdays, why would NBC choose to do this? Well, apparently it would have aired against the MTV Video Music Awards (countdown to sounding old in 3, 2, 1: Who cares?) and it conflicted with the network's commitment to airing a preseason game of Sunday Night Football. While it doesn't seem like a big deal, it definitely cut down on the pre-show pomp and circumstance (aka red carpet time) which adds to the whole viewing experience. Plus, who's having an Emmy's party on a Monday? It's just weird. 


Then we have Seth Meyers, who I absolutely adore. The only problem was, as a host, he was really struggling to connect with the crowd. Either the audience wasn't miked properly, or they just weren't laughing because the reactions to his jokes were very subdued, creating an awkward vibe in the room that did not come off well in the live broadcast. I can't completely complain since some of his monologue jokes were great, and it was a joy to see so many SNL alumni helping Seth out with some of the segments. Still, between the strained cringe-worthy banter, the startling lack of nominee performance clips, and the weird, technical issues that caused some strange transitions, it didn't feel like an altogether coherent show. 

Finally, let's get on to the winners. Spoiler alert, but people who win all the time also won last night and it was somehow surprising and not surprising at all. Julia Louis-Dreyfus for Veep? Ok, great, but instead of giving her two awards in a row, how about letting someone else win for a change like the above mentioned (and currently Emmy-free) Amy Poehler, or relative newcomer, Lena Dunham? And Jim Parsons? For the third time? Again, why? How about giving one to the very deserving Matt LeBlanc, or, the nearly perfect William H. Macy for his portrayal of Frank on Shameless? It was great that Lizzy Caplan got a well deserved surprise nomination for Masters of Sex, but what about recognizing the work of Emmy Rossum, Tatiana Maslany, or, I don't know, anyone from the cast of Parenthood? Instead, we get a re-tread of many of the same nominees, making the ceremony a bit too predictable. Although there was a well deserved final season sweep for Breaking Bad, when Modern Family won for best comedy, again, that's when I knew the voters had really gone off the rails. In my opinion, the best comedies weren't even nominated this year (hello, Broad City, Parks and Recreation, Enlisted, Bob's Burgers, Brooklyn Nine-Nine?) but even the non-comedy Orange Is The New Black should have waltzed away handily with that category. 


But! We can't end on a downer, since even the most boring of awards shows can have exciting and beautiful moments. Sara Bareilles' soulful performance of "Smile" for the In Memoriam segment and Billy Crystal's heartfelt speech about the late, great, Robin Williams had me welling up, Billy Eichner and Seth Meyers' Emmy's edition of Billy on the Street had me cracking up, and Sarah Silverman's win for her hilarious stand up special, "We Are Miracles" rivaled last year's Merritt-Wever-awesome-surprise-victory moment (although nothing will ever top Wever's perfect speech). All in all, this year's Emmy's were a bit of a let down, but even the most critical of watchers must have cracked a smile as Jimmy Fallon tried to take Stephen Colbert's award after a pronunciation gaffe by Gwen Stefani (a personal hero of mine, but come on girl, learn your category!). Let's hope those fun, fleeting moments aren't so few and far between as the 2014-2015 awards season kicks off in earnest. Because even this diehard awards-head thinks it's time to step it up, trim the fat, show some clips, and make with the laughs already. 

(Hold for applause). 




Tune in next week for an overview of the Summer TV Season and my first look at new Fall Shows!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Masters of Sex: A Half-Way Through Season 2 Review

I'm baaaaack! Have you missed me? Because I've sure missed you! It's been a while since I've posted, and I'm sorry! It seems I've caught a terrible case of summer fever, and the only cure is to lay around in the sun all day. I may have a sweet tan, but my TV watching duties have gone by the wayside this month. Never fear television junkies - I finally stayed inside long enough to catch up with the first half of Season 2 of the Showtime drama, Masters of Sex. And oh, what a season it's been...


Ah, 2013. You were so full of incredible new shows, it was hard to choose a leader of the pack at the end of the year. Masters was tied at the top of my list, and for good reason (only the unparalleled Orphan Black had the edge on it for best new drama in my opinion). This historical series surrounding two pioneers in the field of sex research, Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson (played by Michael Sheen and Emmy nominee, Lizzy Caplan), somehow managed to be both sexy and educational, funny and dramatic, daring and true to it's 1950's setting. When I found out it was returning in summer 2014, I couldn't have been happier. Little did I know that this season (so far) would essentially blow last season out of the water with story lines that have kept me on the edge of my seat since the start. So what's been going on in the world of Masters and Johnson this year? Strap yourself in - it's time to start our study of Masters of Sex, Season 2.

SPOILER WARNING: If you haven't seen the first 6 episodes of this season of Masters of Sex yet,  continue reading at your own risk! New episodes air Sundays on Showtime at 10PM, and the first half of the season is available on demand for your viewing pleasure, so get watching!

*


*


*


*

At the end of last season, Bill was ousted from Maternity hospital after a racy presentation of his sex study (complete with video of a mystery woman pleasuring herself) was viewed as pornography by his colleagues. Virginia, (star of said video) begins working with Dr. Lillian DePaul (played by the wonderful Julianne Nicholson) on her pap smear program after finding out she has cancer and is looking for a protege to hand off her life's work to. Virginia also gets a marriage proposal from Dr. Ethan, but with Bill at her doorstep, and her name officially on the study she worked so hard to complete, the choice was a no-brainer. This season began with Virginia officially turning down Ethan and continuing her affair with Bill. The opening episode provided us with an artful look at the fateful evening he turned up at her door from both of their perspectives, and gave us insight into their lives post study fall-out. Virginia was quickly rumored to be the woman from the video, causing her to be ostracized by the other secretaries and frequently propositioned by creepy doctors, while Bill and Libby's home life with new baby John could barely be considered peaceful. After Bill and Virginia meet at a hotel to discuss the future of the study, it's clear that they aren't giving up on their work, or on each other, no matter how that may affect the other people in their lives.


As the season continues, that self-serving M.O. has become a major theme for all of the characters. No matter what they dress it up as, Bill and Virginia's affair is going to hurt someone, yet their own interests are clouding their judgement as they continue to justify their wrongdoings "in the name of science". Betty (YAY! Betty's back!) continues to lie to her new "Pretzel King" husband about her infertility and her love for her ex-girlfriend Helen (played by Sarah Silverman in a surprisingly heartbreaking role) in an attempt to live the white-picket-fence life she felt she was meant to have. Libby is also proving herself to be not only racist, but more than slightly unhinged as she becomes obsessed with the life of her nanny, Coral (Keke Palmer in her best role yet). Between spying on Coral, forcing her to wash her hair with lice shampoo, and prying into her personal relationships in order to "protect her family", Libby's paranoia has even begun to scare the normally oblivious Bill. He isn't doing much better, essentially tanking his career and getting kicked out of every hospital in Missouri as his study continues to interfere with his obstetrics practice, gaining him enemies at every turn.


In one of the most interesting plot points of the season, Bill and Virginia's affair begins to be discovered slowly but surely by the others in their lives, leading to more difficulties than they could have expected. When Dr. Austin sees the pair leaving their favorite hotel late at night, he confronts Virginia and doesn't believe her well crafted, but clearly fake explanation for their whereabouts. Instead, he has a friendly drink (or five) with Lillian and assumes she knew about the two all along, letting their secret slip. Lillian, feeling betrayed by Virginia, gives her program away to another hospital, leaving Virginia financially insecure and stuck with her diet pill selling back-up plan. I love how the writers are slowly building the tension this way, creating a tangled web of people who know about their secret. While I'm slightly disappointed that the actual study has taken a back seat to the Bill and Virginia drama this season, both Sheen and Caplan have such chemistry together and embody their respective characters so well, it's hard to complain when they share the screen.

As things begin to come to a boil, this season certainly hasn't been easy to watch. In fact, the lighter moments we got last year are few and far between. But the incredible dramatic scenes have taken the series to another level, including last week's men's room confrontation between Bill and Dr. Charles Hendricks (Courtney B. Vance), over the implications of including black participants in the controversial sex study. Seeing the talented Sheen and Vance go head-to-head has been one of the highlights of a season packed with tense moments, critical questions, and next-level acting. Whatever the next half of Masters has in store, it's safe to say things have gotten off to an electrifying start. And as the reveal of Bill and Virginia's affair gets closer and closer to Libby, I'd say the drama has only just begun.


Come back next week for my overview of every TV fan's favorite award show, The Emmy's! Hosted by Late Night's Seth Meyers, the 2014 ceremony promises to be a memorable one. Tune in on Monday, August 25th at 8PM Eastern on NBC!


Monday, July 14, 2014

TV Tweets 2, and the Most Epic Under the Dome Recap of All Time!

Hey TV friends! Sorry for my post-procrastination lately, but after the winter from hell, the great outdoors are calling me (my computer, not so much). 


A while back, I admitted my shameful secret to the masses: I still don't have a Twitter account (hold for gasps). Now of course that doesn't mean I'll never get one, but if I want to get to Retta-levels of TV recapping greatness, I have to practice. So with the summer TV season officially upon us, here's my second round of 140-characters-or-less TV tweets, or quick takes on the new and returning shows that I had time to check out (in between trips for ice cream, of course).



Welcome to Sweden: Pilot was cute and funny - not a must watch, but a pleasant diversion with a likable lead #yaygregpoehler #what'swiththeterriblecommercialeditpoints?

Cold Justice: So many crimes, so little time! These ladies don't play around and neither do the DA's #makin'arrests #watchwithwhitewineandsweats

The Leftovers: Two eps in, it's all sadness, all the time on this HBO bleak-fest. I give it one more shot before I throw these leftovers out #majorbummer 

Graceland: A thrilling start to the second season of USA's most summery offering - tune in for plenty of Mike/Paige, Charlie/Briggs action #butlet'svotedaleoutalready

Drunk History: I'm laughing and learning - who could complain? Season 2 is bringin' it #anothershotwon'thurt #waitwherewasI?

Nathan For You: Want to feel extremely uncomfortable? Watch Nathan give fake business advice to real people and cringe/laugh for days #ghostrealtor 


Now that we've sped through the current crop of summer shows, it's time to slow down and focus on the return of one, very special program. That's right! It's time again for Leah's Under the Dome recaps - and boy does she have an amazing one for us this week. Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD for all you Dome-heads out there. For the rest of us, the following will make absolutely no sense, so feel free to read on and dip your toe in the craziness pool that is this show. Thank you, Leah! Your dedication to this train-wreck is greatly appreciated!



Leah's Under the Dome Recap (Week of 7/14/2014)

After a long year of doing interesting and productive things, I began my Under The Dome summer duty with the first episode of the new season. It was called "Heads Will Roll", but no heads rolled.

The show began with a dramatic recap of the first season, including epic shots of people gasping and the memorable clip of the cow being severed in half by the dome dropping (I've only seen this clip about 40 times). We were suddenly back in the action of hot Barbie getting ready to be noosed for crimes he didn't commit, when the miraculous pink light shone and everyone (besides the characters who have speaking parts of course) collaspes to the ground. A giant bell flings out of a church and heads straight for the dome wall, and we know shiz is about to happen.

Suddenly Julia appears on the edge of the lake where she dropped the mysterious egg into the water, setting off the pink star reaction. A girl appears out of nowhere drowning in the lake, and Julia jumps in to save her. Then a rustic-looking slightly older guy, who I will call the HOM (hot old man) emerges out of the blue and gives the girl mouth to mouth. We later learn he is an EMT-alcoholic-Junior's Uncle-man. They mentioned his name, but I missed it and didn't bother to rewind. It might be Zach, or Sam.

Here's the main story - the dome is now MAGNETIC and so everything flies toward it at mathematically inappropriate times and speeds. Linda, the heroine police officer of the first season gets hit by a flying car against the dome trying to help Barbie out of his magnetic handcuffs. She dies! What! The HOM tends to Julia's wound through all this, and he is very friendly indeed. A little too friendly.

Barbie meets a new woman Rebecca who tries to shoot him for breakng into her car - she goes from hating him to trusting him for no reason whatsoever, and we learn that she is the town's high school science teacher. She has been studying the dome since it first appeared and even made a huge representational model of the town and dome (it was definitely made by a team of skilled prototype designers). She looks like a model, and her voice sounds like a robot.

With all this magnetic stuff flying, Joe gets a nail THROUGH HIS HAND, and surprise surprise, he's okay! Just a little rusty nail through the hand. Big Jim starts hallucinating and sees Dotie, the girl he killed (Dough-tee? Dowty?) and shes really creepy and stuff. Meanwhile Julie and the HOM tend to the "the girl" who showed up in the lake. Apparently the HOM has a random sketchbook where "the girl" is drawn in there among other random shiz. She doesn't speak, yet escapes his cabin and walks through the street possessed among all the fallen folk. He should have been keeping an eye on her, geez!

Big Jim sees creepy Dotie again, and when she warns him of dire consequences, he yells "Shut up, I'm busy!" to the ghost-hallucination. Rebecca tries a genius copper-wire experiment to counteract the dome's magnetism, yet when Barbie connects the wires everyone else collapses ot the ground except for him! Must be because he's so hot.

Miraculously Julia is also awake and finds Barbie alive and well - they kiss, and I wish I could feel his beard scruff like she does. Big Jim is the third person who is also awake, and he now sees a Linda hallucination and greets her with "Who the hell are you supposed to be, the ghost of Christmas future?". She informs him of the virtue of sacrifice, and he decides to hang himself from the noose. This decision has NO rationale behind it whatsoever.

Sadly Big Jim can't reach the noose's lever on his own, but Julia volunteers to pull it for him, having no idea why he's up there in the first place. She responds to his charming request of "I can't pull the damn lever! Any of you want the honors?" This makes less sense to me than leaf blowers (but really, what is their purpose? They just move the leaves from one place to another).

Shockingly, Julia doesn't have the guts to pull the lever, so Big Jim kicks something (why didn't he just do this in the first place?) and starts to fall in slow motion. Ninja Julia cuts the falling noose with a knife the HOM just happened to give her - get this - just in time. Suddenly the magnetic field drops and "the girl" is shown creepily tending to Linda's body against the dome. All is well after this, and everyone decides to go to the coffee shop and be normal again.

We get clips here and there of Junior's mom painting pictures, though she's supposed to be dead, so she's connected to all this in some way. "The girl" is shown walking through town aimlessly again, and Angie follows her to a high school locker. Once "the girl" runs away and Angie looks in the locker, an axe flies at her and we see blood spatter. Not ANGIE!

I guess it's okay that Angie's gone. Her yellow low-cut shirt has been bothering me since day one.

Watching this series again is going to be epic, I can tell already. I forgot that the show existed until Liz reminded me, but I'm glad she did. Can't wait to see what the HOM does next! Prediction: he will steal Julia away from Barbie (they had an unspoken sexual tension) and Barbie wil be left over for me. Score!

See you all next week for a look into the return of Showtime's Masters of Sex! 


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Farewell to Enlisted, and My One Year Blog-A-Versary!

About a year ago today, I started this blog the way I have started lots of things in my life; with excitement, a little anxiety, and of course, the nagging thought: "Will anyone even care what I think?"


It's safe to say we've all driven down the road of negativity when starting something risky and creative. For me, that street was full of potholes such as: Who's actually going to read this? Will I quit before I really begin? Other people have been doing it better, for longer, so what's the point?

Well, friend, I'm here to tell you to turn that car around, and start driving in the other direction ASAP! Don't let the capital F Fear: "What will other people think?" stop you from doing something you love. If writing this blog for a year has taught me anything, it's the fact that you need no one's permission but your own to make your passion a reality.  Don't wait for someone to tell you it's OK to start. Just start, and when you reach that milestone, the one you never thought you would reach, celebrate how far you've come, and get pumped for how much further you get to go. Writing this blog for all of you has been challenging, freeing, and most of all, just so incredibly fun. So thank you, reader, for coming along on this journey with me. We've got a lot more TV to cover, so hang on tight - it's going to be an awesome year!



Now, I know I said I would be discussing Graceland in this post, but I'm going to have to hold off on that until the end of the season (it's been fantastic so far though - don't forget to tune in!). I changed up my plans because last week was the series finale of the critically adored, yet ridiculously under-watched Fox comedy, Enlisted, and I wanted to make sure the show got the send-off it rightfully deserved.


So, that finale….wow. It hit me in ways I never would have expected (yes, waterworks over here cried her eyes out, no surprises there), and moved me more than any sitcom in recent memory. But let's start from the beginning. When the show first premiered, I noted that the characters came to us almost fully formed, and the world of the show was a place I immediately wanted to spend more time in. This is incredibly rare for a brand new sitcom (think, Brooklyn Nine-Nine for another example of perfect world and character building right off the bat), but it also sets the bar very high for the series to come. Well Enlisted met and surpassed that bar over its short, 13-episode run by addressing PTSD, army life, women in the military, and complex family relationships in a realistic and subtle way. Also, uh, it was HILARIOUS! Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, and Parker Young nailed their respective roles as Pete, Derrick, and Randy; three brothers who react wildly differently to the army experience. With impeccable comic timing and a deep sense of who their characters were, these three impressed me every week and left me constantly wanting more. And as the rest of the Rear-D platoon became as developed as the Hill brothers, we got some of the funniest ensemble scenes on TV, and one-liners that had me spitting out my drink on a regular basis (Michelle Buteau, please find something else immediately, as Private Robinson will be greatly missed).


In the series finale, "Alive Day", Enlisted took on Pete's unspoken, but obvious, struggle with PTSD from his time in Afghanistan. Alive day represents Pete's close call with death during active combat, and his brothers' support along with continued therapy helps him to get through the anniversary of losing his fellow soldiers. But at the army ball, Pete breaks down after having seen a tribute from his brothers and sisters still overseas, and flees the rest of the ceremony in favor of some alone time at the beach. In the touching final scene, the squad finds Pete sitting on the sand, in a dark place after re-living one of the most traumatic moments of his life. I couldn't help but think of my Dad, my Uncles, and my Grandfathers, all veterans whose individual experiences in the military brought them different levels of loss and pain; different opportunities to either reach out to others or turn inward; different ways of viewing the world upon their return to civilian life.

After Pete expresses his guilt over being alive instead of his friends, the line that got me - I even teared up trying to explain it to my family over dinner the other night - was spoken by Sergeant Major Cody (played by the excellent Keith David): "It's ok to feel guilt, son. It's ok to feel joy too." UGH. Someone get the tissues again! Then the soldiers get to have a beautiful moment in the waves together. Things aren't fixed forever. Pete still has a lot of issues to deal with, but he's not a stereotype. He's not going to fly off the handle like we might expect. Instead, as the sun sets, he gets to swim in the ocean with the people who love him, and are there for him. He can, and will, still feel guilt, but in this moment, he can also feel joy.


With a unique sense of humor, and a point of view pretty much lacking from TV at the moment, Enlisted goes down with the likes of Better Off Ted and Freaks and Geeks, as a short-lived, brilliant piece of television that I will be sure to revisit again and again. If the large amount of fan art, critical love, and support from the military is any indication, Enlisted does have a shot at getting picked up by another network for Season two. But until that day (please please please!) or your DVD or Netflix release, Enlisted, I salute you.

Orphan Black SEASON FINALE Recap: Season 2, Episode 10: By Means Which Have Never Yet Been Tried **Warning! A slew of spoilers lies ahead, although if you're reading this, you've probably already seen it**

"My name is Sarah Manning, and this is my unconditional surrender." So starts a season finale full of twists, surprises, and finally some answers to our burning questions (plus…more burning questions for next year, of course). Where to begin? Sarah surrenders herself to the Dyad, in a humiliating scene full of blatant human rights violations and disgustingly invasive questions (which I'm sure made all my fellow lady viewers cringe), and another amazing performance by Tatiana Maslany - although, when didn't she crush it this year? Sarah subjects herself to this, of course, for the sake of Kira, who is currently being held as bait by Rachel, in some strange, screwed up mother-child role play that gave me a sufficient dose of the heebie-jeebies. Turns out, they want one of Sarah's ovaries to dissect and study immediately, and she's scheduled for surgery by Rachel and the creepizoid Dr. Nealon. Not to worry, the ever-brilliant Cosima gets Kira and Scott (oh, Scott. Bless your beautiful Canadian heart) to help her create a way for Sarah to get out of it, but not before Rachel SMASHES KIRA'S BONE MARROW DONATION ON THE FLOOR, rendering her latest sacrifice for her aunt pointless. What goes around comes around though, and Rachel ends up with a projectile pencil to the eye, curtesy of a Cosima physics lesson and a cleverly drawn clue from Kira. Sarah escapes, only to find Marion, the head of everyone's favorite new big-bad "Top Side", releasing Kira to her in exchange for a meeting the next day. Turns out, Project LEDA has a male, military clone contingent, Project Castor, and guess what? Ex-prolethian Mark is one of them. Oh, and NBD, but there's a new eight-year-old female clone who is growing up self-aware in Marion's care. Oooh boy. This whole thing just blew wide open, folks. Also: Mrs. S. gave up a pregnant Helena to Paul and the military (dammit Paul! You were military all along you wooden-faced master of deception!) in exchange for Sarah's safety - what are they going to do with her, and what does this mean for the rest of the clones? There are so many questions to answer for next year, but for now, we can all fully enjoy the fabulous clone-dance-party-sleepover scene that, for me, brought this finale to the next level, both technically (the special effects are so incredible for the sheer fact that we don't think about them at all while watching) and character-wise. For a season so full of tension, it was such a pure joyful release to watch this "family" finally reunited and having a blast.



Thus ends another exciting season of Orphan Black. While there was no hope of matching the level of perfection from Season 1, this year was consistently thrilling, funny, surprising, and original, leaving this fan-girl on the edge of her seat for Season 3. See you in 2015, Clone Club. If we've learned anything from the past 10 episodes, it'll be worth the agonizing wait.


Catch you next week for more TV fun, and thanks again for reading!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Inside Amy Schumer - Season 2 Sketch Countdown

Sadly, another fantastic season of Inside Amy Schumer has come to a close. But while the past ten episodes flew by way too fast, I'm ecstatic to report that the show has been renewed for a third season!
Cheers, ladies!

Comedy Central has slowly become my favorite destination for new programming (Broad City, Key and Peele, Drunk History, Review, I mean, come on!) and I love that they are embracing talented female comedians like Schumer, providing a space on TV for their unique voices to be heard. Amy's first season was hilarious, but this year, she took it to a whole new level, combining her signature absurdist style with subversive views on everything from sex, to relationships, to how women are portrayed in the media. Schumer is certainly not afraid to broach topics that are often taboo, and like some of my other lady comic heroines, she doesn't mind making herself look bad (or insane) for the sake of a great bit. With so many female celebrities misunderstanding the definition of feminism lately (educate yourselves ladies! Don't even get me started, but feminism is NOT a dirty word!) it's refreshing and much needed to see an example of feminist comedy at it's very best. Plus, I love to see a fellow Long Islander getting the success and respect she deserves. Good fa' you, Amy. Not fa' nothin', but you're a real pissa**.



 
**pissa (n) someone who makes you laugh so hard you pee yourself.
 

Haven't gone Inside Amy yet? No worries - check out my list of the 9 best sketches of the season (plus my favorite "Amy Goes Deep" segment featuring the most charming, bad-ass 106-year-old woman you'll ever meet). Watch Amy tackle pointed critiques of everything from video games to food guilt to Aaron Sorkin below.

Chrissy Teigen, Couples Counselor

 
 
The FoodRoom



Animal Rescue Hotline


Click here to watch on Comedy Central


Video Game
 
 
Click here to watch on ComedyCentral


A Couple Chooses A Movie



I'm So Bad

 
Click here to watch on Huffington Post


A Chick Who Can Hang

 
Click here to watch on Comedy Central
 
 
Mom Computer Therapy



Sauced

 
Click here to watch on Comedy Central
 
 
Amy Goes Deep - 106 year old
 


Want more Amy? Check out all of Season 2, currently available on most on demand platforms and Hulu Plus at the time of this writing.

Orphan Black Recap: We're coming to the end of the season (nooooo!) so of course there's bound to be some last minute surprises. Turns out, a new clone is among us! And (SPOILER) his name is Tony! That's right - we've got our first trans-clone of the bunch and he's looking for Beth. After Felix, Art, and Sarah meet him and fill him in on his true identity and Beth's death, Tony gives them this cryptic message from his now deceased partner in crime (and possible monitor), Sammy: "Tell Beth to keep the faith. Paul's like me. He's in on it. He's a ghost." WHAT? Paul, you tricky bastard. WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?? Meanwhile, Alison bonds with Donnie over being tricked, Rachel lies about Leekie's cause of death, but discovers from her father that the clones were designed to be barren, (therefore Sarah was a technical "failure" hmmm...) and subsequently trashes her office in frustration. Cosima is still not doing well, but it looks like things have cooled off between her and Delphine, now that she knows her secret Kira stem cells were only meant to help. Hopefully more questions will be answered in the final two episodes to come - I'm sick of being in the dark, OB!

Next Week: Everyone's favorite undercover beach bums are back! I'm returning to Graceland for the start of Season 2 for more don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-it action (and hot guys surfing, so who could complain?). See you then!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Your No Bummer TV Summer: 2014 Edition!

Summer is here! Let's all skip work for the next three months and camp out on the beach - what do you say?

Nick and Jess had the right idea.

As we discussed many moons ago, summer is my absolute favorite season, and I greet its arrival each year with open arms. On the first hint of a nice day, I throw on my favorite summer playlist, dig the jean shorts out of the closet, and stay outside until the mosquitos and I have formed an understanding (aka, they bite me everywhere except the two inches around my "off" bracelet that clearly doesn't work). And of course, there's nothing better than a summer night spent chilling out under the stars, eating ice cream, and laughing with your favorite people in the world. But what about those sticky, thunderstormy nights when you've seen all the summer blockbusters and just want to stay in? I remember the days when watching an oscillating fan was more exciting than the pathetic batch of summer TV offerings we got (and we had to walk uphill both ways to get to Ben and Jerry's too). Well, the times they are a changin' folks because this summer is packed with premieres to keep you entertained until that first craving for a pumpkin spiced latte hits. Check out my personal favorites below!

Let's Dive into Summer TV!
 
Orange is the New Black - Netflix, June 6th 

I know I wasn't the biggest fan of the pilot of this prison-set series when it premiered on Netflix last year, but after revisiting it recently, I think I finally get what all the hype is about (and why so many people got addicted). I'll still be plowing through old episodes when the highly anticipated second season premieres this week, but I know most OITNB viewers have been counting down the days until their next big binge. Get ready for GIF's galore and plenty of critical discussion in the coming days - who knows? I may even get in on the think-piece action later on in the summer...
 
 
Graceland - USA, June 11th

One of the most fun, suspenseful, and gripping shows to premiere last summer, Graceland captivated me (and tons of other viewers) with it's plot twists, compelling characters, and just-right amount of sunny summer frivolity. I was so pleasantly surprised by this one, I remember actually being outraged that I would have to wait an entire year for it's return after last season's finale. Thank goodness the FBI, DEA, and CIA undercover agents are coming back soon with new missions, more secret alliances, and sexy surf montages to brighten up the summer schedule.

 
Rectify - Sundance, June 19th

A man who was in prison for murder gets released 19 years later, after conflicting DNA evidence seems to prove his innocence. But "Did he do it?" isn't the biggest question on this subtle, beautiful show's mind. Instead, Rectify asks us: "How does a person readjust to normal life after being locked up for so long?" providing the answer in one of the most cinematic mini-series I've ever seen. Less like a TV show and more like an art-house film broken into six parts, Rectify isn't for everyone, but you can see for yourself if it's up your alley - check out all of Season 1 on Netflix before the mid-June premiere of Season 2. 
 
 
Cold Justice - TNT, June 20th

Get ready to meet your new reality addiction. Former prosecutor, Kelly Siegler and former crime scene investigator, Yolanda McClary help small town police stations with few resources to dig into their most difficult cold cases with amazing results. It's truly awesome to see these two wonder women crushing it in a field traditionally dominated by men, bringing closure to so many families who've suffered for years with uncertainty (warning: tissues may be required).


The Leftovers - HBO, June 29th *new

What if one day you woke up to find that random members of the population had disappeared into puffs of smoke? Some of your friends and family are gone without a trace, and you've been left behind to deal with the aftermath. Has the rapture happened, or is it something else entierely? After reading Tom Perrotta's book last summer, I can't wait to see how The Leftovers works as a series. With Justin Theroux in the lead as Police Chief Kevin Garvey, I imagine I'll be very happy with the results!
 
 
Drunk History - Comedy Central, July 1st

Yes! My favorite new show from last summer returns with all new comedians, celebrities, and half-in-the-bag stories for those of us who like our history lessons with a shot of tequila (or seven). Get the coffee and breakfast burritos ready for the next morning everyone - it's going to be a lonnng night.

 
Welcome to Sweden - NBC, July 10th *new

In this new sitcom from Greg Poehler (he's Amy Poehler's brother, so, yeah, I'm already sold) a man moves from New York to Sweden to follow the woman he loves. Based on Greg Poehler's actual life-story, Welcome to Sweden seems like the perfect, light, summer comedy. Plus the trailer is adorable - look out for cameos from Aubrey Plaza, Will Ferrell, and, of course, Amy Poehler!

 
Masters of Sex - Showtime, July 13th
 
Masters and Johnson are back! I absolutely loved this sexy, creative series when it premiered last fall - between the cast, the story, and the style, little else in the TV drama department could compare. I'm really looking forward to revisiting our dynamic sex researchers again this summer, especially after last season's intense, beautiful finale.


Girl Meets World - Disney Channel, July 27th *new

Boy Meets World was a defining show from my childhood (and quite possibly yours if you're reading this) so naturally I've been counting down the days until the premiere of the spin off, surrounding Cory and Topanga, as parents (!!!) to their teenage daughter, Riley. Of course I know this new iteration could end up being...not great (please don't let the trailer be any indication!) but I'm holding out hope that it keeps the same spirit of the original, if only so my college friends and I can start using "my hosiery is bunching!" in casual conversation again. Like we ever stopped...
 
 
Seven Deadly Sins - Showtime, August 7th *new
 
Fans of 30 Days and Inside Man, get ready! Morgan Spurlock returns to TV with a new documentary series focusing on the seven deadly sins (for all you angels out there, that would be gluttony, sloth, envy, pride, greed, wrath, and lust). Each week focuses on one of the deadlies in Spurlock's signature style - seems like appointment viewing to me!
 
 
Garfunkel and Oates - IFC, August 7th *new
The summer show I've been anticipating more than any other is IFC's Garfunkel and Oates, a series starring two of my favorite comedian/musicians, Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci. These ladies have done great work apart, but they're at their funniest when they're together as members of the show's titular band. I have really high expectations for this one, especially with producer/director Fred Savage at the helm.

 
 
**Bonus**
Fox just started burning off episodes of the dearly departed Enlisted and will continue to air new episodes every Sunday at 7PM! I'm so sad that one of my favorite new sitcoms of the season got the axe already, but at least we'll be able to see the last few half-hours (unlike when Ben and Kate was unceremoniously booted from the schedule without a proper goodbye). Even if you never watched before, catch up on Hulu or just check out the final four - believe me, it'll be worth your time.

And for all you Dome-heads out there, Under the Dome returns to CBS June 30th! I won't be partaking in the Dome-madness this year, but Leah will be back with her amazing, better-than-actually-watching-it recaps all summer! Thanks for taking one for the team again, girl.
Got a show you're looking forward to this season that wasn't on my list? Leave it in the comments - I'd love to hear what's getting you psyched this summer!
 
Orphan Black Recap: Season 2, Episode 7: Knowledge of Causes, and Secret Motion of Things

Kira and Sarah reunited - yay! But Cosima is still not doing well - boo! Looks like Leekie and Delphine realized Kira's stem cells (harvested from a rogue tooth she lost in last season's accident) could be helpful in treating Cosima's illness, but while they were right, no one bothered to tell her that was the plan! After a long overdue mental breakdown, Cosima throws Delphine out of the lab, but then makes the most heartbreaking call to Sarah, letting her know that Kira may be her only hope for survival. Ooofa. Meanwhile at rehab, Alison reveals a little too much to informant Vic about her involvement with Ainsley's death, and panics when she discovers his true motives for their friendship. Alison enlists Sarah and Felix for help, although Felix's approach of drugging his tea ends up causing more problems, leading to an amazing Sarah-as-Alison scene that rivals last season's pot luck switcheroo. Rachel also discovers that her father is alive, we meet a scary new Dyad character, and Mrs. S.'s motives get more and more unclear. Oh, and Donnie finally becomes aware of what he's been participating in all along (what kind of messed up school project did you think this was, Donnie??) and things definitely do not end well after he confronts Leekie about it. I won't spoil it for you here, but this ending is about to change everything.

 
Next Week: It's all about Inside Amy Schumer! Join me for a rundown of my favorite sketches from this truly incredible, second season.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Ovaries Before Brovaries: Playing House, and Lady TV Friendships!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, friends! I hope you've got your American flag sunglasses and Kan Jam ready for your BBQ (I know I do).

Let me just start by saying I can't take credit for the title of this post - it goes, of course, to Leslie Knope, the queen of lady friendship quotes (and friendship in general), but I have a feeling she wouldn't mind me using it to promote some of the best female friendships on TV.


Last month, USA premiered a new comedy, Playing House, starring real-life best friends (and comedy podcast regulars) Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham. Previously of the short-lived sitcom, Best Friends Forever, St. Clair and Parham have a lived-in chemistry that only true friends can bring to the screen. Here, they play Emma and Maggie, best friends from childhood who never let being a world apart keep them from staying in touch. After a pregnant Maggie discovers her husband's penchant for having online affairs, Emma leaves her high powered job in China, and moves back to their small Connecticut home town to help Maggie through her divorce, confronting the people and the life she left behind years before. It's the small moments between these funny women that make Playing House so fun to watch, and so relatable. An inside joke here, a knowing look there, or a dead-on depiction of watching a horror movie with a friend should all hit close to home for a lot of female viewers desperate to see their own relationships reflected on TV. Unfortunately, the rest of the show has yet to catch up with this central duo, but with a cast that features comedy pros like Keegan-Michael Key, Andy Daly, Zach Woods, and Jane Kaczmarek, it's safe to say that with a few writing tweaks, Playing House could turn out to be appointment viewing. Until it gets there, the show (like most of the stuff on USA) is still a perfectly pleasant diversion, and something I'd recommend watching when you can catch it. Check out the first five episodes on demand, or on usanetwork.com!

Playing House airs Tuesdays at 10PM on USA

Watching Playing House these past few weeks got me thinking: it's rare to see a really great depiction of female friendships on TV. To quote Carrie Bradshaw, I couldn't help but wonder, what are some of the best representations of girl-friends on the small screen, and what makes them realistic and unique? Surprisingly, there aren't as many to choose from as you might guess (although the tides are turning, and I'm very happy about that) but after giving it some thought, I came up with the list below - sorry all you girls from Girls, although you had a great third season, none of you are actually good friends to each other, so you definitely don't make the cut. Better luck next year!

 
Liz's Favorite Lady-TV-Friendships:



 

Mary and Rhoda: The Mary Tyler Moore Show



 


 
 
 
Quite possibly my favorite female TV friendship of all time, Mary and Rhoda truly know what it means to be there for your girl no matter what. If only we could all be so lucky as to have our best friend right downstairs when we need a cup of coffee or a shoulder to cry on, or someone to help pick out an awesome head-scarf...
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha: Sex and the City
 

From bad break-ups (THE POST-IT!), to bad days, to really, really bad outfits, the ladies of Sex and the City were there for each other through it all. The show exposed what real, adult conversations sound like between close friends, and gave women everywhere that "finally someone gets it!" feeling that was desperately lacking until they arrived on the scene.
 
 
 
 
  
Daria and Jane: Daria
 
Daria found her sarcastic sister from another mister, Jane, at a low self-esteem workshop on her first day at Lawndale high, and the two were a match made in misfit heaven ever since. This proud to be uncool (before that was cool) dynamic duo made it through high school hell and boyfriend drama with plenty of pizza dates and TV marathons - ah, girls after my own heart.
 
 

Phoebe, Rachel and Monica: Friends

These three shaped the way I saw female friendship from a young age (but like Mary and Rhoda, they also made me believe my best friends would always live in my building...). Through crazy jobs, break-ups, marriages, and babies, the girls became family, and even in syndication, they still inspire me to always "be there for" all the ladies in my life.  
 
 
Abbi and Ilana: Broad City

You guys know how I feel about the magic that is Broad City, and of course what makes the show so special: the central friendship between real life best buds, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. These two have, in my opinion, the most realistic and relatable friendship on TV right now. It's great that neither Abbi nor Ilana is a wet blanket, tamping down the others' insanity. Instead, both are up for adventures and hi jinx that rival that of the next pair on our list, taking NYC one joint, lost phone, wedding weekend, and apartment hunt from hell, at a time.


 
Lucy and Ethel: I Love Lucy


The original lady-TV-friendship to end all lady-TV-friendships, Lucy and Ethel defined a generation, bringing two hilarious women together and setting the standard for every sitcom that came after it. Sure, Ethel wasn't always one hundred percent up for Lucy's crazy schemes, but their adventures together made for some of the best comic moments the small screen has ever, or will ever, be known for. If you can find someone to stomp grapes, scarf chocolates, and...trick your husbands (?) with, consider yourself Lucy-and-Ethel-lucky.






 
Leslie and Ann: Parks and Recreation

Ann, you beautiful, tropical fish. In the pilot episode of Parks and Recreation, a frustrated Ann Perkins meets city employee Leslie Knope at a town hall, desperate for someone to fill in the pit outside her house. Six seasons later, the pit is finally a park, and Leslie and Ann become inseparable friends in the process. They support each other romantically (Leslie will turn a Valentine's Day dance into an opportunity for Ann to find true love; Ann will get Leslie the confidence - and the waffles - she needs to prepare for a first date) and professionally like no other girl-friends on TV. Since Rashida Jones left earlier this season (and we all cried), the next "one true pairing" of friends has some big shoes to fill. At least we have one more season - and plenty of guest cameo possibilities - before P&R says goodbye for the last time.


 
Jenny, Cynthia, Trixie, and Chummy: Call the Midwife

Talk about supporting each other professionally! These four ladies are constantly helping each other deliver babies in some of the most high stress circumstances you could imagine. Living in a convent in London during the 1950s, the midwives are constantly facing the harsh realities of East-end poverty, and the challenges of home child birth with few resources. But these gals make it look easy, caring for and respecting each other like no other group on TV. Here's to another season, Midwife fans!


Got any that I missed? I'd love to hear your favorites - leave 'em in the comments below!


ORPHAN BLACK RECAP: Season 2, Episode 5: Ipsa Scientia Potestas Est
 
What didn't happen this week? After saving Sarah from Daniel, Helena gets sent to Art's where she eats donuts ("these I like") and inevitably escapes, on the war path to murder Rachel. Sarah and Art intervene (why, though?) and the pro-clone gets to live another day, sexually abusing her new monitor, Paul, who can't seem to tell if he's into her creepy dominatrix-persona or not. Meanwhile, the Prolethians have gotten much more effed up, sewing Gracie's mouth shut - shudder - after she let Helena escape their creepy farm. Also, Cosima is getting secret treatments from Dr. Leekie and Delphine that may save her life - Rachel isn't aware of this yet, but I'm afraid to find out what will happen when she discovers the truth. No sign of Alison this week (boo!) but we can all assume she's starting up the rehab's first musical theater troupe and complaining about the lack of organic food. Tonight, let's hope Felix's name is cleared after Paul's horrible gun-fingerprint-blackmail, and OH, it looks like Mrs. S. knows Paul after all...DUN DUN DUN.

 
NEXT WEEK: Let's take it back to where we first started almost one year ago - wow! The summer TV season is coming, and I'll be here to fill you in on what's worth watching after those long, hot days at the beach. Break out the aloe - we're burning through summer premieres!