Don’t Wanna Play That Part

DunhamWe’ve all heard the phrase: “Men are simple.”  Men have said it, women have said it, and I’m sure no one has ever meant for it to encompass all men at all times.  Recently, Lena Dunham said it in reference to writing male characters for her HBO series, Girls.  Dunham has been hailed by critics and fans alike for writing complex, multifaceted female characters, girls who aren’t reduced to one stereotype or another.  But her male characters have been criticized as being one-dimensional, men without ambition or goals other than to impress (or even just fuck) a woman.

I watch Girls and for the most part, I like it.  It’s weird and gross and often makes me uncomfortable but somehow, all at the same time, it is bizarrely appealing.  I would agree that the female characters are more fully developed than the male characters but I wouldn’t go so far as to call the men stereotypes.  At least, not male stereotypes.  Oddly, they seem to me to fit stereotypes more typically associated with women.  Charlie is so lovesick for Marnie in season one that he fails to notice how much she doesn’t want him around.  Even after she humiliates and breaks up with him, he gives her one chance after another to get him back, alienates his new girlfriend and eventually cheats on her with Marnie, and when Marnie finally admits that she loves him too and wants to be with him again, all he can say is, “That’s all I ever wanted.”

Adam, who I’ve always found more than a little scary, reluctantly falls for Hannah, then pines for her endlessly, never letting go of his adoration for her even after she treats him like garbage.  And when she calls him in a pathetic appeal for attention, does he tell her to fuck off, he’s got a Adamnew woman now, one who doesn’t mess with his head and call the cops on him for no reason?  No.  Instead, he drops everything and literally runs across town (shirtless, no less) to save her.  Save her from what, you ask?  Her own insanity.  That’s right.  She wasn’t actually in danger of anything except indulging in her obsessive compulsive disorder.

And Ray, the male character who showed the most promise as far as depth and range were concerned, has been written into a lazy slacker who lacks the drive to do anything with his life until he falls for Shoshanna and suddenly, wants to be a better man so as to keep her from leaving him.

We’re used to seeing women in these roles – desperately seeking the object of their affection despite obvious signs of said object’s indifference.  (There are so many of these women, in fact, an entire book has been written and published to snap them out of it.)  And it is refreshing not to see women in these roles but it would be even better to see no one in them.  Not that Dunham’s men are complete caricatures; there are moments wherein they display real depth and honesty.  And, of course, I’m not suggesting that no man should ever be depicted as lovesick.  Personally, I don’t think Dunham has done quite as bad of a job with her male characters as some do.  But she is a woman and for that reason alone, I’m sure it’s easier for her to write women.

Nor do I think that her comment about men being simple was intended to deride men as inferior creatures.  She spoke specifically of the Hannah & Marnierelationships men have with women in comparison to women’s friendships with each other, which she believes are more complicated because they aren’t based on sex or romantic love.  I can’t say that that’s always true but I’m sure it is some of the time, especially for women and men in their twenties when so many of their relationships are about figuring out who they are and who they want to be.  What I find more special about Dunham’s Girls is that her characters are as (or more) tortured over their troubled friendships as they are over their sexual relationships, which isn’t something we’re used to seeing in female characters.  And I think that’s actually her point.

~Nikki

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2012 Emmy’s LIVEBLOG

Howdy, fellow TV junkies! ‘Tis time for the liveblogging to begin…

Look at this wine I’m not drinking

10:56 – Aw hell, bitches, I’m outta this game. It was not a livevlog without strife, as silly wordpress decided to stop working for a half hour or so, along with what might be the worst Emmy’s ever. Ahh well, night, all! ‘Til the next collective viewing event!

10:56 – YOU’VE. GOT. TO BE. KIDDING. #fuckmodernfamily

10:48 – Well, Nikki already went to bed as she is WAYYYY older than me, but she’s gonna be mighty happy to see that Homeland won. #Nikkipicks

10:33 – ABC needs to stop telling me to tweet congrats to winners, as Twitter is BROKEN and has been for the last hour.

10:31 – Goddamn, Julianne Moore’s husband is sexy. She totes deserves this award, btw. Her speech is terribly annoying though. She sounds like a kindergarten teacher.

10:29 – I have few thoughts on miniseries stuff. I love Danny Strong though for being on Gilmore Girls long ago, and now being this political writer who writes awesome shit for HBO.

10:22 – Um. I’m seriously uncomfortable.

10:18 – Seriously, I hate Twitter right now. #firstworldproblems

10:11 – Sorry! WordPress AND Twitter decided to crash at the exact same time! Rock on! Just watched Jessica Lange win for AHS. Deserved. She’s the American Helen Mirren, how the hell do these women do it?!

9:26 – Josh Groban, rules, forever. And oh my god, I couldn’t love Jimmy Kimmel anymore. I just couldn’t.

9:25 – I wish I watched Boardwalk Empire. But I really love Martha Plimpton’s dress.

9:18 – Yay for Maggie Smth!!! Boo for her not being there 😦 😦 😦

9:15 – Tracy Morgan looks super bloated. And sparkly. Homeland wins writing, yay! #Nikkipicks “Bang on and hope something dribbles out” – Julian Fellowes (TWSS!)

9:10 – Cinderella on blu ray? That one can stay in the vault, thanks. I want Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmations.

9:05 – DOWNTON TIME!!!! I know Aaron Paul deserves it, but shit, I love seeing the Downton cast lookin’ all spiffy. 🙂 … PS: His speech was stupendous.

9:04 – Could Claire Danes be any more luminous? Ah, put a baby in her, answer is YES.

9:02 – Drama time. Time for a MONTAGE.

9:00  – Just could not. give. a. fuck. about reality host.

8:59 – Seth, did you hear that? That’s my panties getting thrown across the room. To quote McCarthy, tonight’s the night. 😉

8:49 – Oh jesus, it’s reality time. I’m gonna go make a bagel.

8:46 – These comedic ladies are legends. Elaine Benes is the bomb. And Veep is a damn fine show. She’s so verklempt.. I love it. Even though Nikki is ready to throw her TV out the window!

8:45 – Edie Falco looks like LInda Hamilton in T2. YES YES YES YES YES JULIA LOUIS DREYFUS!!!!!!!!!!! #Anniepicks #Nikkisgonnabesosad

8:44 – Steven Colbert, are you trying to get onto my island? Not so fast there, buddy.

8:38 – Oh Melissa McCarthy, you are freaking geniuinely hilarious. Wait, JON CRYER. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS? These awards suck ass. At least he was rightly flummoxed.

8:37 – Oh my GOD I am SO TIRED OF THIS MODERN FAMILY SHIT. ENOUGH!

8:33 – FUCK YOU, STEVE LEVITAN

8:31 – I’m wondering why I used to love Matthew Perry. Hmm. Definitely still loving Jimmy Fallon though. Desperately.

8:26 – ALRIGHT JULIE WE GET IT. YOU’RE LUCKY AND BLESSED. I’m gonna go throw up now.

8:24 – I’m not exaggerating when I say that Julie Bowen is the least deserving of every woman in that category (her dress is fierce though). How the fuck does this shit happen? Naggy wives on sitcoms are the worst.

8:23 – Oh Kat Dennings, you’re a goddess. Truly.

8:22 – I just need to say it. I really, really, REALLY wanna bang Jimmy Kimmel.

8:20 – Very deserved, my friend. Louis CK is a genius. And probably fucking rad as hell.

8:19 – Jim Parsons and Zooey Deschanel are adorbs.

8:13 – Well, if it had to be one of ’em, I’m glad it’s Eric Stonestreet. Thumbs up to his speech. I love when people honestly seem grateful.

8:11 – Amy Poehler looks STUNNING. Apparently, divorce is agreeing with her. Oh fucking hell, Modern Family. Come on, Bill Hader!

8:09 – Oh here we go, although this comedy montage is actually cracking me up. Veep had better win. #Anniepicks

8:06 – Kimmel is doing a kickass job. He always seems so calm. Woah, a Luck dead horse joke. Jon Hamm simply CANNOT LOOK BAD. He CAN’T!

8:05 – I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Elizabeth Moss’s new hairstyle. AHHHHHHHH DOWNTON DOWNTON DOWNTON SIGHTINGGGGGGGG (Bates and Anna! Bon Bon!)

8:03 – Ellen and Jimmy and all those awesome people in the shitter: meh.

8:02 – Lena Dunham’s fearlessness is getting old. But her new haircut is CUTECUTECUTE!!

7:58 – Could they push Modern Family anymore? Gag. We hate that show and are going to be vocal about it, people. Please respect our free speech.

~Annie & Nikki

You Look Inside My Wild Mind

George RR Martin at the Comicon

George RR Martin at the Comicon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read something today that filled me with the most wonderful, affirming, goosebumpy, brain-gasm rush of-“YES!! SOMEBODY GETS IT!”-feelings I’d experienced in quite a while. The current issue of Rolling Stone has the terribly interesting and affecting Peter Dinklage on the cover, and features a fantastic interview with the actor, along with a smaller piece on George R.R. Martin – the man who created the character Dinklage has personified, Tyrion Lannister, in the fantastic series of books, A Song of Fire and Ice, upon which the current kick-ass HBO series, A Game of Thrones, is based. I highly recommend picking up the issue and reading both pieces. Basically, everything Martin said was fascinating and rich and struck chords in my soul, but his final paragraph nestled inside my heart like a snuggly baby kitten who had found a bed of warm fleece blankets and a saucer of milk:

“I never saw the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock or the parties on Gatsby’s lawn, but they seemed more vivid than things I actually lived. If we are the sum of our experiences, as I believe we are, then books are a more important part of my life than my actual life. That’s what I try to do with my own fiction: Fill the stories with imaginary people who will become more real to my readers than the people in their lives.”                         George R.R. Martin, Rolling Stone                                  

To this, sir, I say: Thank you for hitting the nail on the head regarding how lots of us feel about things that are not, quote, “real,” and also, your mission has most definitely been accomplished.

~Annie

I Got, Got, Got, Got No Time

Intertitle from the HBO television program Boa...

Intertitle from the HBO television program Boardwalk Empire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve discussed before my issue of being overwhelmed by the barrage of media I try to consume, and I’m sad to report, not only has it gotten worse, but I’ve got a new “list” of sorts. The list of shows I wish I watched. I’ve somehow descended into the seventh circle of OCD hell where I now have a list of insignificant things I know I’ll never do, only want to. Medicate me, please.

  1. The Killing (AMC) – AMC is the home of two of my favorite shows, Mad Men and The Walking Dead, and while I heard through the pop culture grapevine that people were outraged over the season 1 finale, I still feel a curiosity about this show. I always get to see the first minute or two after Mad Men, and I’m always sucked right into the atmosphere. Hmmmpppff.
  2. Community (NBC) – I tried, I really did. About halfway through season 1, I abandoned this show, because it just wasn’t hitting my funny bone. Three seasons in, many people I know love the hell out of the adventures of the Greendale students. Every time I see a commercial for one of their insane themed episodes, I feel as if I’ve missed the boat. 😦 I guess it took longer to hit its stride than most, and shame on me for not giving it a chance. It’s not as if I’m not aware of this phenomenon. Sigh.
  3. Once Upon A Time (ABC) – Many people whose entertainment opinions I value have begged me to watch this fairy tale hour-long drama, and while it doesn’t look like much to me from the advertisements I’ve seen, I admit I’m intrigued. I don’t really care for either Ginnifer Goodwin or Jennifer Morrison, and I used to mix them up constantly. But supposedly there’s swoony romance and several interesting characters, which are key ingredients to television addiction.
  4.  Castle (ABC) – Nathan Fillion is probably one of the most awesome human beings alive, and if not for my mother constantly begging me to watch this, it seriously wouldn’t even be on my radar. From what I’ve gathered, this is one of those shows where the leads have such magnetic, playful chemistry that you can’t help but fall for them. I love that feeling, but the DVR is going to explode. 😦
  5. Sons of Anarchy (F/X) – My co-blogger adores this show with every cell in her body, and as I trust her implicitly, I absolutely want to add this to my repertoire. Problem is, I started season 1 on Netflix, got to episode 5, stalled out due to life business, and never got back around to it. This is the kiss of death for me in getting any task done, as now I pretty much forget what I watched, and feel the need to re-watch the first five episodes. This pushes the show even further out on the proverbial back burner, as it feels more time-consuming to my brain to RE-WATCH. Ugh, my idiosyncrasies are destroying me.

    Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club

    Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  6. Bethenny Ever After (Bravo) – I can’t help but enjoy almost every Bravo reality show I’ve ever watched, even for just a few minutes (oh god, several Real Housewives franchises, Top Chef, Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis, Watch What Happens Live, Million Dollar Listing, the list honestly just goes on and on…), but every time I catch a snippet of Bethenny Frankel, she CRACKS ME UP. I want to hang out with her so bad!! (She can bring her adorably hot hubby as well)
  7. Boardwalk Empire (HBO) – Again, I tried. After episode 3, I missed a few weeks and the backlog was so daunting, as this is not a light show or one that you can watch with any sort of distractions around you, that I put it off. This only made matters worse and created an inversely proportional cycle of doom – the more episodes that piled up in that folder, the more the energy reserves I had stored up to watch dissipated. One day I hit delete and felt a huge weight lift off of my shoulders. I think Steve Buscemi is the man, and I’m also a fan of Kelly Macdonald, but at this point, I have no idea how to muster up the strength to start at the beginning (which, I can any time I want, as HBOGO is amazeballs).

Not sure what I need more: To cancel my DirecTV subscription and be unburdened like a monk, or quit my job and curl up on the couch in a fetal hermit ball and attempt to watch all of the things, for all of eternity.

~Annie

You Must Be Outside Your Mind

Well, the Brits are back and Sunday night is, once again, my favorite TV night of the week.  What with the loss of Dexter and Shameless, Sunday night television was beginning to feel like a barren wasteland, but April 22 brought with it the very long-anticipated Season 3 premiere of The Ricky Gervais Show.  And what was the topic of conversation during that first episode?  You guessed it: another of Karl’s asinine movie pitch ideas.  Let’s recap, shall we?

Season 2 movie pitch: Clive Warren (that’s Karlspeak for Clive Owen) and Rebecca DeMournay star as a lovely couple; Clive gets hit by a car and is in a coma; Morgan Freeman plays the doctor who then advises DeMournay to either pull the plug on her beau or allow Freeman to transplant half of Clive’s brain into her head.  Grief-stricken, she accepts half of her love’s brain in exchange for half of her own, which creates a duality within her because she now has two people’s thoughts, always.  She overhears (of course, because his thoughts are now in her head) Clive call out to some other woman.  She goes searching for this other woman, Leslie, fearing he’d had an affair during his life.  Clive’s half of the brain then dominates Rebecca’s, confesses to his mistress, Leslie, that part of his brain is inside Rebecca’s head, and Rebecca and Leslie then decide to be together.

Season 3 movie pitch: this film begins with a man, Bryan, and his girlfriend watching the 7th installment of Mission: Impossible, starring Tom Cruise.  The girlfriend is a Cruise fan but the gentleman doesn’t care for him.  This man is a struggling actor who has not yet found his break.  During the filming of Mission: Impossible 8, Tom Cruise is severely injured on set.  News breaks of the accident while Bryan is driving to work.  Bryan is distracted in celebration over Cruise’s demise, gets into a near-fatal car crash and is rushed to the hospital.  Some time later, he awakes and is told that his brain was implanted into Tom Cruise’s body, which apparently was donated after his terrible accident.  Bryan is asked to fill in to complete the filming of Mission: Impossible 8 – his big break!  He sort of assumes Cruise’s career but finds he isn’t as happy as he’d have thought, since his girlfriend is a bit too pleased with his new appearance and career and he ultimately finds himself posing the question: “Who are we?  Are we the people in our body, or the people we look like?”  (Karl’s exact words.)  Poor Bryan has become a person he never liked.

Basically, what we’ve learned is that Karl is kind of obsessed with the idea of a brain transplant, something that is utterly impossible, by the way, though Karl claims scientists are working tirelessly to make it a reality.  What fucking medical journals are you reading, Karl???

All nonsense aside, it’s so good to have the boys back.

~Nikki

Mother Should I Trust the Government

Oh my god, HBO, enough already! I have a house that needs cleaned, a yard that needs mowed, and groceries that need purchased.

So yeah, Veep is pretty great.

If the 2009 film In the Loop has never crossed your radar, (and you like dark humor and the UK), seek it out, pronto. The people who brought you that blast of sharp political satire (director Armando Iannucci and writer Simon Blackwell) have created another, similar treat for television. In the Loop was about a group of government officials from England and America, dealing with a snafu that could potentially start a war. It’s dark, has some of the most spectacular swearing sequences I’ve ever seen, and that dry humor I so adore. In comparison, Veep is a little lighter, with less use of the c-word. It’s In the Loop, the D.C. edition, spliced with the zany incompetence of Parks and Recreation.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus stars as Selina Meyer, the vice president of the United States, and Leslie Knoppe, she is not. Advertisements had me assuming that she was going to be a savvy force to be reckoned with, but the pilot showcased someone who has so much bullshit to deal with, it’s almost impossible for her to handle it all successfully. She relies heavily on her staff and assistants, who are mostly idiots (BUSTER BLUTH ALERT!!!!!!). The core trio of advisors are Gary, Amy, and Mike, (Tony Hale, In the Loop vet Anna Chlumsky, and Matt Walsh). Gary and Mike are the dolts of the group, and Selina verbally skewers them accordingly. Still, she couldn’t make it without them: At a press event, Selina literally doesn’t know the names of attendees, and relies heavily on Gary to whisper information in her ear.

In the Loop (film)

In the Loop (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The pilot focused on a scandal involving the cleanup required after Selina uses the word “retard” at a press conference, against the backdrop of attempting to garner support for her Clean Jobs Commission project. Her cause is viewed as a joke by all – the gooey, disintegrating cornstarch utensils she’s trying to put into regular use at the White House certainly don’t help the effort (try stirring a hot beverage with a biodegradable spoon).

The writing here is aces, the pace is fast, I laughed out oud a few times, and was amused almost the entire time. And I’m not someone who is enamored with the world of politics either, let me just say that. If you’re staying away from this show because you hate the political landscape or find the topic generally mind-numbing, you’re missing out. I mainly gave this show a chance because I loved In the Loop, and Entertainment Weekly gave it a glowing review; I wasn’t disappointed. Iannacci and Blackwell are gifted writers, and with Veep, HBO continues to prove itself to be something I increasingly am unwilling to live without.

~Annie

Oh Mother Dear We’re Not the Fortunate Ones

Source: wetpaint.com

HBO’s new dramedy Girls (Sundays, 10:30pm) was everything I wanted it to be, and more. In fact, I hit play quite late at night, assuming I’d watch the first five minutes, then go to bed and save the rest for another day. Instead, I ended up getting sucked right in and watched the whole episode, without even feeling the need to putz around on the computer or mindlessly eat while viewing.

Lena Dunham, the 25-year old filmmaker and actress, is the star and creator of this highly anticipated series. She plays Hannah, a young woman pursuing her dream of being a writer while living in New York. The first episode finds her being cut off, financially, by her parents (an adorable Peter Scolari and Becky Ann Baker), and subsequently quitting/being let go from her unpaid internship. We are introduced to Hannah’s friends, BFF Marnie (Allison Williams), bohemian Brit Jessa (Jemima Kirke, who plays another bohemian Brit in Dunham’s acclaimed film Tiny Furniture), and Jessa’s cousin, Shoshanna (Zosie Mamet). Hannah also has a booty-call boy in her life who she wishes was more, despite the fact that he is a filthy, arrogant, ignorant, entitled, complete and utter pig. Who hasn’t been there before though, honestly?

Comparisons will be made to Sex and the City, another HBO dramedy focused on four female friends, navigating their lives around New York City. That was a wonderful show, truly. Try as I might to despise the glamorous group with dream careers and designer wardrobes that was Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte, I couldn’t. The excellent writing, stories, and characters always sucked me in and had me sympathizing/relating/feeling bonded with any or all of ’em.  In Girls, that effect is even stronger, because these are REAL girls. The similarities to that beloved show are there, but without any trace of being a rip off or copycat. This is SATC for a younger, more jaded, unemployed generation.

Tiny Furniture

Tiny Furniture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dunham is crazy fearless, which I find commendable and am terribly envious of. She simply has no vanity, and she doesn’t have the body of say, your average film star. Which is great, but unsettling – purely because we are not used to seeing this kind of reality portrayed in our living rooms (except when we look in our own mirrors). Was this her desired effect? I’d love to hear her answer. I don’t know what would have to happen for me to display my entire ass on HBO, but it would have to be pretty epic (unlike my ass).

If you’ve seen Tiny Furniture, the award-winning film she directed, wrote, and starred in, you’ll feel a familiar vibe. She has a style, a look, a feel to her work – quiet, awkward, uncomfortable, sad-funny. That film starred her real life mother and sister as her mother and sister, and portrayed the months following graduation from college, as Aura (Dunham), came home to feel out-of-place, with no career prospects, and general boredom/life malaise/hopelessness. It’s a good flick, but one of those where nothing really happens. In films like that, it’s all about how invested you are in the characters. I liked Aura, and wanted her to succeed, but she was kind of inert and made some crappy choices. I do recommend that film, but be prepared to feel uncomfortable, as the atmosphere is far more awkward and miserable than Girls‘. There’s a depressinggggggggg sex scene and loads of unflattering body shots. To which I say, hear-fucking-hear. I applaud her for being all, this is me, take it or leave it (although I have no idea if this is how she really feels. There’s a certain self-conscious aspect to her work as well; whatever she believes, she puts it all out there). I would certainly like to hang with her for a day, and see what goes on inside her head.

This show is seriously something special and different. What astonishes me is that it completely lacked that awkward “pilot-y” feel that basically every single pilot ever has. Even the ones that go on to become amazing shows. This felt like it had been on forever, yet simultaneously, was completely unique, new and fresh. The dynamic between the girls feels real, lived in, authentic. They made me want to be a member of their group. The writing was excellent – funny, without trying too hard (I loved the speech about why working at McDonald’s is something to be proud of), relatable (Marnie’s explanation of why she can no longer stomach the boyfriend who is crazy about her, while she feels nothing, was perfection), and honest (Hannah’s booty call with the boy who is just not that into her, will undoubtedly hit close to home for many a female – this one included).

As Entourage and How To Make it in America are done with their testosterone-laden runs, it’s nice to have some estrogen back on the HBO schedule. I’m always drawn to watching others struggle with the task of growing up, and seeing a group of women being portrayed as broke, miserable, and kind of gross was refreshing and encouraging. I am strongly suggesting you watch this – especially if you’ve got two X chromosomes.

~Annie