Friday, March 28, 2014

Who Run The World? GIRLS.

Apologies to anyone who was anticipating a Parenthood post this week - don't worry it's coming! Unfortunately I got a little behind, and I have to talk about one of the biggest TV finales that happened last Sunday - GIRLS.

First of all, lets talk the season as a whole. Abandon the show completely after Season 2? Here's a brief recap of what happened with Hannah and Co. this year. Full disclosure, SPOILERS abound...

With her e-book in the works, Hannah (Lena Dunham) started out the season as calm and centered as she's ever been (and seemingly better off than all of her friends), on OCD medication and living in harmony with her knight in shirtless armor, Adam (Adam Driver). Meanwhile, Shoshanna (Zosia Mamet) decided to go wild and have as many sexual experiences as she could before graduation, Jessa (Jemima Kirke) was doing a stint in rehab, and Marnie (Allison Williams) was recovering from her break up with Charlie, jobless and crashing at her mother's apartment. As the season went on, Hannah had her ups and downs, both professional and personal. She got a corporate writing job at GQ, which she subsequently quit; she had a stable and fulfilling relationship with Adam, which slowly fell apart. She experienced the death of her editor (and the resulting death of her e-book), the death of her Grandmother, and, in a sense, the death of her group of post-college friends. But by the end of the season, it seemed that this was all in the service of something bigger - the next step in her writing career: grad school at the Iowa Writers Workshop.

Overall, I'd say this was my favorite season of the show to date. If there's one complaint I have about this year, it's that while Hannah grew, changed, and felt more developed as a character, the rest of the girls just seemed to spiral out of control, landing in some very strange places at the end of the season: Shoshanna with no college degree, begging Ray (Alex Karpovsky) to take her back, Jessa assisting her new boss with a drug induced suicide, and Marnie without Ray or Desi, trying to get her singing career (?) off the ground. While I loved the return of Elijah (Andrew Rannells) and the fact that we got to spend more time with Hannah's parents (played by the always perfect Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker), I wish that the other three titular girls got some more interesting story lines to work through, especially Jessa who was totally underused this year in favor of more time with the similarly sociopathic Caroline (Gaby Hoffman) which I could have lived without.

Still, this season of Girls became the first thing I rushed to watch every week. The first three episodes of the season were some of the funniest the series has ever done, and the season on the whole had a much more comedic feel to it than the deeply dark and experimental Season 2, which didn't exactly work for me. Back then, the characters all seemed like insane caricatures, and the show was often simply unpleasant to watch. This year though, I felt like I was watching real people again. Hannah in particular seemed more real than ever, facing the kinds of tough decisions everyone in their 20's wrestles with. Should I keep this stable job, or should I look for something else that makes me happy and creatively fulfilled? Should I stay friends with the people I've known for a long time out of convenience, or should I find a new group who I can grow with? Should I be with this person who I love, or should I take an opportunity to go on a new adventure? Most importantly, the girls were all trying to figure out what kind of women they want to be, and what kind of lifestyles they want to have. To say I related to their struggles this season would be an understatement, and I often surprised myself at the emotional reactions that I had to so many of the episodes.

The one that got me the most? "Beach House". Man, that episode just killed me. I physically couldn't get up off the couch for a few minutes after watching that one. Have you ever seen a group of friends have a more gut wrenching fight than that on TV? And "Flo" which mostly took place in the Upstate NY hospital where Hannah went to visit her dying Grandmother (played by the amazing June Squibb), really explored Hannah's family by bringing up some mother-daughter conflicts that I'm sure hit close to home for much of the audience. Like "The Return" from Season 1, taking Hannah out of the city has yielded some of the strongest, and most interesting episodes of the series. If the smile that comes across Hannah's face as she hugs her acceptance letter is any indication, we may be traveling all the way with her to Iowa next year, which is something I'm all for.

Speaking of, let's talk about that season finale. While some other reviewers felt it was one of the weaker entries of the season, I have to disagree. For me, it really represented what may be a shift in the series - Hannah and Adam's fight behind the theater was pretty devastating, and while they might make up, I don't see this on-again-off-again relationship making it into Season 4. Instead, I think Hannah pretty clearly chose her career over her a future with Adam, and as someone who was never his biggest fan, I was pleasantly surprised. Meanwhile, Marnie's admission to Shoshanna that she slept with Ray (and right after she found out she was three credits short of graduating, no less - who does that, Marnie? GOD.) led to a great scene between Shoshanna and Ray that was equally as painful as the Hannah/Adam breakup. And Marnie got her millionth wake-up call that she is THE WORST from Desi's girlfriend, Clementine (Yay! Natalie Morales!), which will hopefully tone down her insufferable-ness when we see her again. Unfortunately, Jessa was the one left without much to do (except assist her boss with that suicide...and then call 911 after she changed her mind), but I'm holding out hope that the show will explore her new found sobriety and give her a bigger role again next year.

Between the amazing music choices this season (my Shazam app was working overtime every Sunday night) and the scary-good acting from the main cast and the guest stars this year, I think I'm officially back in the "Girls Rules" camp. But don't take my word for it. Find your old roommate's cousin's HBOGo password and catch up for yourself! Then head over to Spotify and look up the Music from HBO's Girls playlist - I guarantee your spring cleaning soundtrack will be epic.

SHAMELESS RECAP: Episode 10 - Liver, I Hardly Knew Her

Fiona goes on a drug bender while on house arrest, officially becoming what she always feared the most: the new Frank of the family. Needless to say, her downward spiral has been beyond painful to watch, and I don't think I can take much more. In other news, Carl has found a dangerous new partner in crime (and potential love interest) in Bonnie, while Sheila's wedding plans for a nearly dead Frank get interrupted by a liver transplant scam. Kev and V's babies are finally here, and Mickey's out for revenge on Kev for taking his money. Jeez, Mickey. Just when I was starting to like you. With just two episodes left of the season, let's hope there's a light at the end of the tunnel - then again, could things really get any darker?


- So, would anyone be opposed if I just made this whole blog about Broad City? The season finale was hilarious, but the highlight of the season came in last week's cold open. I won't ruin it for you, just watch it here and thank me later. Now starts the long wait until Season 2...

- Get your DVR's ready...Like the long dormant flowers of spring, a ton of shows are about to return to brighten up your day. Sunday, March 30th, get ready for the return of Call the Midwife. On April 1st, The Mindy Project returns from it's winter hiatus, and Inside Amy Schumer is back for Season 2. Tune in April 13th for the new season of Showtime's Nurse Jackie, and AMC's Mad Men. Finally, Orphan Black makes it's long awaited return on April 19th. Just, don't plan on leaving the house any time soon to actually see those flowers.


It's the How I Met Your Mother Series finale! I know many of you are just watching out of obligation at this point (ok, sometimes I feel like I am too) but this groundbreaking series deserves a great send off. Break out the tissues - it's time to have a beer with the gang from MacLaren's for one last time.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Let's Take a Trip to Portlandia

Everyone grab your Advisory-Board-approved cashew milk! Portlandia is back!

Portlandia airs on Thursdays at 10PM on IFC.
The February 27th premiere started the season off right with sketches that hit the comedy sweet spot between the absurd and the mundane that the series does so well. Setting the tone for first time viewers and long time fans alike, the opening sequence featured Fred and Carrie as a ghost couple, haunting a house sitter (Kirsten Dunst) by giving her conflicting health advice and citing vague articles that they "just read". We also got the return of our favorite Battlestar Gallactica marathoners, Doug and Claire, who have recently decided to open a joint bank account, leading to a pool-sized hot tub purchase and excellent guest work from SNL's Vanessa Bayer. In my favorite sketch of the night, Fred gets grilled by "date fact checker" Kumail Nanjiani, who is beyond perfect every time he shows up in the Portlandia universe. Fred lies about everything from knowing TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe to having a "pretty messed up childhood" which a call from his mother quickly confirms to be false. The best part is that his deposition ends with him receiving a score "just above Sex Grifter" which is apparently good enough to warrant a second date!

Spending time in this world again and re-visiting these characters brought me so much joy, I have to give this season opener high marks even if the night's sketches seemed to tread over familiar ground at times. I'm not worried though - Fred and Carrie are two of the most creative people in the business, and there's still a ton of comedy to mine out of our favorite Portland residents. Now give me some Candace and Toni, ASAP!

Here are a few of my favorite things:

- In what may be the best unused Onion headline ever, we learn the ghosts' fate from the cover of Portland Weekly: "Couple Dies of Confusion: Husband and Wife Die After Not Knowing Which Things Are Good Or Bad For Them".

- Fred also lied to his date about not liking Juno, but his true feelings on it can be found on his MySpace page, last updated in 2007.

- The Milk Advisory Board commercials have been replaced by ads for the Portland Pet Haven. I'll miss Royce and Alicia (he's her boss), but I'm looking forward to learning more about James and Trish.

- The whole weird robot-product-placement-love-story was hilarious. I assume Sandra got "Kermit the Bag" on Etsy, but so far my search has yielded only vaguely similar results...

If you haven't jumped into the world of Portlandia yet, just watch five of my all-time favorite sketches below. You'll be pickling, biking, and eating local with Fred and Carrie before you know it!

"Around The World In 80 Plates"

"House Sitter"

"She's Making Jewelry Now"


"Allergy Pride Parade"

Are you hooked yet? Get your binge on with Seasons 1-3 available on Netflix and the most recent episode currently streaming on

SHAMELESS RECAP: Season 4, Episode 8: "Hope Springs Paternal"

Phew. Where to begin? After Liam's coke accident, Fiona is going stir crazy on house arrest, trying to prove to her probation officer (and Lip) that she's still fit to be a parent. Lip is attempting to be both a college student and a guardian for the kids, while Ian returns to the Gallaghers (and an increasingly lovesick Mickey) with a new, potentially drug-feuled, outlook on life. Meanwhile, Debbie begins to bond with her new older sister, Sammy, after "becoming a woman" and Carl has been suspended after beating up the kids who made fun of Liam on the bus...and then some others, just for good measure. Frank and Sammy are currently squatting at Sheila's (and conning people into putting cash deposits down on her house) and Carol decided to keep her baby (who else saw that coming?), so it looks like Kev and V are down to just two more mouths to feed. If you're like me, you were reduced to a puddle of tears at the end of the episode when Lip finally forgives Fiona for her mistake after a gut-wrenching phone call. Add that killer performance to the ERER (Emmy Rossum Emmy Reel) and file this one under "M" for "Macaroni Salad Sandwiches". I shudder at the thought.

NEXT WEEK: I take a deep dive into NBC's Parenthood, which recently returned from it's midseason hiatus! We'll talk tears, Ray Romano, Braverman family dynamics, and why it's consistently one of the best shows on TV. But don't take my word for it - tune in this Thursday at 10PM (you can tape Scandal just this once) to see for yourself!