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The Big Bang Theory is Back and Better than ever: Season 5 Premiere “The Skank Reflex Analysis”

26 Sep

If there is one show I genuinely missed this summer, it was The Big Bang Theory.  I had shunned sitcoms for a few years and a friend of mine sat me down and started me watching a marathon.  I remember not being too sure about it the first time but after that, I grew to appreciate it and by the end of the marathon I was hooked.  Then I had to catch up on two seasons, which seems to be the story of my life with television shows.  It’s become my favorite US sitcom.  There’s something reassuring about watching Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) navigate their way around a goony version of Los Angeles I never knew existed.  And although Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is an aspiring actress, the show just doesn’t feel like the Los Angeles I know.  Maybe that’s because to trek to Pasadena from West Los Angeles was like taking a day trip to Santa Barbara if you hit traffic at the wrong time.  But the characters are definitely as dysfunctional as most individuals living in Los Angeles.

As most people probably know, sitcoms used to be family-centered.  They still are, only the family is the group of people who happen to be in your sitcom world.  In this case, Sheldon, Leonard and Penny make up the central family unit with Howard (Simon Helberg), Raj/Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), and the newest addition, Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) as the close relations.  Like any family, this one is completely dysfunctional.  And if you aren’t in a dysfunctional family, I almost feel sorry for you.  Last season was a bit more hit and miss and I was worried.  Some shows were great and others just made me wonder what the writers were thinking.  They seemed to be all over the place and not focusing on the core fears and desires of the characters.

The main fear and desire that comes from everyone but Sheldon is the need to be loved and in a relationship in this show.  It isn’t as if Sheldon doesn’t need that, he just processes his needs differently.  Honestly, I would like to see Penny and Sheldon end up together.  I believe they are the secret couple that essentially exists in the ether.  Over the years it is Penny that Sheldon usually turns to for comfort.  Certainly before Amy Farrah Fowler came onto the scene.  While Howard and Bernadette work as a couple, I never truly bought Leonard and Penny.  In fact, sometimes I think Leonard and Koothrappali should just get together since he (Koothrappali) has such a bi-sexual slant.  And I know all the homosexual jokes run between him and Howard as a couple (certainly in the following episode, “The Infestation Hypothesis,” with the simulated internet kissing contraption that made me laugh so hard I’m sure people heard me outside); however, for all the action Leonard gets, somehow he seems more asexual to me than Sheldon.  Maybe Amy Farrah Fowler would be better served with Leonard.  The problem with the coupling between Amy and Sheldon is that they are far too alike.  And Amy craves excitement and seems that she might even be sexually adventurous given the opportunity.  Sheldon, on the other hand, likes to play it safe unless he has calculated all the variables for risk.  Leonard, although different from Amy, also likes to be sexually adventurous and I believe they could function as a couple.  She’s not glamourous enough for him but it’s nothing a trip to Sephora and a few clothing stores couldn’t improve on.  Sheldon and Penny would be a fascinating couple.  An introvert and an extrovert.  I personally would like to see Sheldon stop being quite so asexual and move into adolescence.  And let’s be honest, this show thrives on sexual activity.

In this particular episode, “The Skank Reflex Analysis” we watch Penny deal with the fallout of her coupling with Raj.  What is particularly disturbing to me (and don’t forget I love this show) is that Penny is essentially called a slut by not only her close friend, Amy, but admits it herself.  Sure Penny sleeps around.  Guess what?  Adult women do that sometimes.  What bothers me is they are still considered sluts if they do and more disturbingly, they consider themselves sluts.  Conversely, Raj admits to her they didn’t end up having sex but she goes ahead and lets everyone believe they did to save his reputation, because apparently, in 2011, a man is still studly and not slutty if he gets laid and he’s drunk.  This double-standard, I was hoping, would be gone at this point in the game of cultural coitus but I guess not.  And thanks to CBS and Chuck Lorre, there are whole new generations stereotyping women as sluts.  And acting like it’s fine.  Now I’m not arguing that I think Penny shouldn’t have fun.  Nope, I think she should do who she wants when she wants but I think it is up to those who create culture to stop enforcing outdated stereotypes and come up with a term that explains it can be empowering for a woman to behave just like a man.  I know maybe some people haven’t looked but we aren’t in the 1950s or 1960s anymore.  But wait!  I think we might be, considering the two embarrassing shows that embrace the old patriarchal guard, The Playboy Club and Pan Am.  Thanks, Mad Men.  I suppose being progressive is still not synonymous with American network television.  Which is a shame.  I hope they get their act together soon.

Overall, the season premiere was funny and entertaining.  Raj is dealing with the fallout of his encounter with Penny, her rejection of him and Bernadette’s wrath for his dirty poems about her which have made Howard paranoid.  And watching Sheldon as the Captain of the Paintball team and his self-sacrifice scene  is what this show does best.  Amy Farrah Fowler’s excitement over having Penny as a sleep-over guest is, I would argue, one of the best elements in the show, reminding everyone that even if they were insecure as kids and things sucked, at some point in your adult life, they do get better.  A good message for everyone.

New Girl: Pilot Review

24 Sep

Men are not always the best communicators. To be fair, sometimes their parents aren’t either and they are not taught exactly how they should express themselves when it actually matters. This doesn’t just apply to teenage boys or guys in their 20s or 30s, this also applies to my father. Who, instead of actually writing me emails, forwards me emails. Jokes, political commentary, news clips. Almost every day. Today I was struck by one about women being like apples. That men are sometimes too lazy or too scared they are going to fall if they have to climb up to the top of the tree to get the best apples (i.e. women), so they settle for the ‘fallen apples’ (I really want to send an email back and ask him if he interprets that as sluts or just sloppy seconds but that might just confuse him – and that would be direct communication something he isn’t comfortable with after 82 years of living). I’m not sure how I am supposed to interpret this. I suppose I am a top apple and most of the men are afraid of me. I could have told him that when I was 19 when guys started informing me I was scary (amazing what guys will admit when they are drunk) but what made me appreciate the email was the rest of it. Apparently, men are like grapes and women have to stomp the hell out of them to ‘create a fine wine’ just so they can bother to eat dinner with them. Now, I agree with the apple thing and the grape thing. I don’t think men really appreciate women unless they are properly stomped. In fact the more one stomps, the more the men seem to come back for more. Or perhaps I just attract extremely warped men. I’m talking about this because I hadn’t bothered to watch the Fox pilot, New Girl created by Elizabeth Meriwether. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel and I already have so many shows on my plate. But I was reading about the high ratings so I decided to watch it but if you missed it, just go straight to iTunes to download it. Unless you have the Dish Network, you’ll get a message on Fox’s website that you can’t watch the pilot for the first nine days after airing or something ridiculous like that.  Honestly, these studios are so stupid at times.  Uh, I’m a viewer.  I want to see your show.  I almost didn’t bother because I found it so annoying to get it.  And the only reason I didn’t want to bother with iTunes is that my computer and external hard drive are almost full of shows that I’ve bought so I’ve got to be picky.

All the annoyance aside, I liked the show.  It’s a simple enough premise:  Jess (Zooey Deschanel) discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her when she shows up unannounced in the afternoon dressed in nothing but a raincoat to help him out with his fantasy.  Ok guys:  guess what, if you ask a girl to do that and she’s actually into you, at some point, she will actually decide to surprise you like this so you probably should not be screwing around on her because the way things work, you will get caught.  Jess’s boyfriend gets caught.  She’s humiliated standing there stark naked in front of him and his slut but I just kept thinking:  why did Jess take a cab home?  It was daytime.  NOBODY in Los Angeles takes a cab unless you are going to or from the airport or you are a tourist or your pet has a medical emergency and your car has just died (yes that happened to me).  Otherwise, people in Los Angeles like to think cabs are something only for New York.  Jess must now find a new place to live.  We don’t see lots of roommate interviews (I’m so relieved I missed that process in life), we just see the interview with her soon-to-be new roommates, three guys who are nice enough but basically jerks.  Personal trainer Winston (Lamorne Morris) can’t be nice or relate to women, Bartender (at least I think that’s what he is) Nick (Jake M. Johnson) is hung up on his ex-girlfriend but seems the most well-rounded one of the three, and finally, Schmidt (Max Greenfield), who believes all women love him and takes his shirt off for everyone of them (note to guys:  even if you have a good body under that shirt, women think you’re an idiot if you do that in person or online, nobody likes a showoff).  The only reason they reluctantly allow Jess to move in is because her best friend is a model and they figure there will be models hand-delivered for the taking.  Instead what they get is an ultra-geeky female who cannot read social cues and likes to watch Dirty Dancing and cry a lot.

The way this show is described is:  it is about the sexual politics between men and women.  I’d say it is more about wish fulfillment.  This show is about men having to become human with feelings because they see if they don’t, their living situation will become unbearable and they start to realize that other people’s feelings do matter.  I’m assuming each week Jess will do something stupid in their eyes and while they try to teach her what is acceptable to men, her emotional needs will teach them how to understand women and themselves more.  This is most likely why this show did so well.  Jess is non-threatening to men and women.  She’s average but can look better when dressed up.  She has a friend who is a model and you will notice that she’s far more self-confident and the ball-buster.  She cares about her friend but you will notice that the attractive woman is far more superficial than Jess.  She is the object they desire but can’t have while Jess is more accessible to all three of her roommates.  I don’t think this necessarily sends the healthiest message:  if you are an attractive woman you simply cannot be accessible.  These guys seem to have to learn from Jess, the apple that fell to the ground.  Now you can argue with me and say she’s high maintenance and worth the climb.  I would say, uh, every female is high maintenance but not every female is worth the climb, just like some grapes are so sour you wouldn’t waste your time stomping on them.  Conversely, if Jess were hot, there would be a different problem:  all three roommates would probably want to have sex with her and start to understand that she isn’t only a sexual being but a human as well.  Maybe that’s a different show.  And a different lesson.  Because these guys are in their training pants right now.

Yes, I’ll watch the show at least a few more times and see if it sheds more light on um, sexual politics.  Or, if it is just full of hot air.

New Girl airs Tuesdays at 9pm/8pm central on Fox.

Two and a Half Men: when hormones go bad

20 Sep

I’m feeling very conflicted about whether or not I want to watch this season’s premiere of Two and a Half Men. Because, truth be told, I really don’t watch the show that often. I tend to end up watching it when I visit my dad and step-mother and I have seen so many episodes on those visits that I guess I don’t feel the need to watch constantly. And the thing is, maybe a lot of people think Charlie Sheen is an asshole, but I don’t think he is. Okay, I know he has personal issues but I’ve worked with him in the past and while it was true he lives an unconventional life, he was always kind and respectful to me. Which is more than I can say for Malcolm McDowell. But that’s another story.

I’ve held my tongue during Charlie’s meltdown because I figure, everyone is entitled to at least one nervous breakdown in a lifetime. And until you’ve worked in Hollywood, you can judge all you want but life in Hollywood is never quite real. Working in the film or television business is almost like being tempted by the devil and you don’t always know yourself until you have been faced with strange situations like oh say… people running drugs through messenger services or little black books being hidden in places you would never imagine or the very stupid things studio heads do then try to cover them up. Sometimes it is almost like watching a TV show until you realize it is your life. So, I believe in second chances and I hope Charlie Sheen learns a couple of things along the way: first, he really needs to not hit women, that isn’t okay and if he’s angry, until he learns to deal with his rage, he could do what I did and break lots of phones and answering machines. Only walls get hurt. Well, the phones and answering machines as well and as soon as you get sick of having to replace them, you learn that maybe you should think before you loose your temper.  And, I’m truly hoping he realizes that you can only screw so many women and it’s not going to make you feel immortal or have better self-esteem. The only way you feel better about yourself is to figure out why you are feeling so crappy in the first place and discover, with the help of a licensed professional or at least a good personal coach, how you might help yourself in healthy ways. So Charlie, perhaps if you attempt to keep it in your pants and not hit women and focus on what might make you happy, you will have a happier success next time.  I’m routing for him more than I’m routing for the show because quite honestly, after hearing about Chuck Lorre trying to get him taken off the Emmy’s last night, I lost a whole lot of respect for the man who makes my favorite sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.  And just because Ashton Kutcher might have it together a bit more than Charlie Sheen, I find it bad form to flaunt it.  Who knows what may happen with him.  Hollywood’s a funny place.  One minute you’re on top, the next you mean less than shit being flushed down the toilet.  So, it’s always good to be grateful and not gloat while you’re doing good on your ride because you might need help once you get derailed.  That’s almost a guarantee in show business.  But that’s just my opinion.

Moonstruck and the romantic comedy

18 Aug

I love Moonstruck (Norman Jewison, 1987). I don’t care who knows it. It’s one of those films I can watch over and over and never get sick of it. Why? Because, it’s happy. That’s the simple answer. It puts me in a good mood and gives me hope. Yes. That might sound cheesy but I honestly don’t care if it does.  Romantic Comedies have been around since the late 1950s/early 1960s, probably most famously characterized by Doris Day’s films of choice (with the exception of Midnight Lace):  Send Me No Flowers, Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back.  All Doris Day romanic comedy classics. It’s also worthy to note the romantic comedy as a genre began to popularize in the 1950s, after World War II ended and  men had entered back into women’s lives as a constant, and into the work force to replace them.  In most Doris Day comedies, she starts out as a career woman but finds love as a married woman.  Sometimes, and usually, in the end, becoming a mother.  No.  Romantic comedies haven’t changed that much but at least by the 1980s, the women could find love but that usually (but not always) meant they could retain their jobs if that was part of their identity.  While this is true for Working Girl, it’s not for Pretty Woman (but does any prostitute want do keep her day job?).

Moonstruck was made in the heyday of romantic comedies, the 1980s, 1987 to be exact, when they were still not too stale. Yes, by the time Moonstruck came along, they were starting to fill the theaters but they were still a new enough genre for the female audience to be a bit more forgivable. Not that I believe anyone has to be forgivable about this film. And when I claim there were new enough, I’m asserting they had evolved from the 1950s and 1960s.  Not a great deal, but somewhat.  For instance, Romancing the Stone wouldn’t have been made in the 1950s or 1960s, and Working Girl would have had a much different outcome.

The premise of Moonstruck is simple.  Loretta becomes engaged to Johnny.  This will be her second marriage.  Her first husband was hit by a bus and she believes she has bad luck.  Johnny only proposes to Loretta because he thinks his mother is dying in Sicily and he will be free to be married (it doesn’t seem to matter that he lives in Brooklyn).  After the two become engaged, Johnny flies off to see his mother die and begs Loretta to invite Ronny, his estranged brother to their wedding.  Loretta goes to meet Ronny.  Sparks fly.  They fall in love and Johnny returns.  Loretta is faced with a choice:  marry a steady man who she thinks she can count on or take a chance with someone she knows is a ‘wolf’.

So what makes this film work?  The characters.  You have two characters, Ronny (Nicholas Cage) and Loretta (Cher).  Neither one is actually likable on the outside but as the narrative unfolds, we see that while they at first seem disagreeable and disillusioned with life, they are actually secretly hopeful and longing to live and be happy.  And it’s the effect they have on each other that moves the narrative forward, in spite of Loretta’s misgivings and guilt over being attracted to her future brother-in-law.  Perhaps what I love about this movie most is the speech Ronny gives Loretta when they both know they should be together but she resists.  It’s really a speech that not only exposes the underpinnings of why the romantic comedy works as a genre, but affirms to female viewers that love doesn’t work at all how they were raised to expect it.  Ronny declares:  Loretta, I love you.  Not Like they told you love is.  And I didn’t know this either.  But love don’t make things nice.  It ruins everything.  It breaks your heart.  It makes things a mess.  We aren’t here to make things perfect…. We are here to ruin ourselves and break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.  This speech goes along with one of the themes of the film:  betrayal.  Loretta and Ronny betray Johnny (Danny Aiello) while Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia)  betrays Rose (Olympia Dukakis) with Mona (Anita Gillette).  Rose in turn, has the opportunity to betray Cosmo with Perry (John Mahoney).  And we learn that while some betrayals must occur in order to service true love (Ronny and Loretta), others are misguided attempts to cheat death (Cosmo and Mona).

As the characters navigate their twists and turns toward understanding themselves and love, the narrative unfolds within the framework of the safety of the family; almost all of Loretta’s interactions are with family or friends or clients who are so close they might as well be family.  We see Ronny as the opposite, estranged from his entire family, living in the building that seems more like a prison, especially the ovens where he spends his days baking bread under the bakery.  It’s Loretta’s journey to reach outside her family safety net and try for a new life that ultimately brings Ronny into her family.  The entire narrative also consistently refers to Ronny’s favorite opera, La Boheme and its story of tragedy and loss of a love that wasn’t valued when it should have been.   So we are reminded that this story can go either way, depending on whether our characters can understand the importance of love in their relationships, hence why Ronny’s speech to Loretta is so important, just after they go to the opera on their only date.  To add to the mixture, the moon is considered a key ingredient in this almost magical love story that takes place over the course of a few days.  Honestly, it feels longer since by the end of the story, all characters have made life changing decisions, but perhaps that’s what’s so profound in this film.  You never know who you are going to meet and how the will change your life.  Oh, and cover up your gray hair if you’re under 60.  It ages you unnecessarily.  A key lesson for any female.  Or male, if you want the truth…

Attack the Block: A teen gang in South London battles aliens

4 Aug

Attack the Block One SheetAttack the Block is a fast-paced Science Fiction/action/horror/comedy film that won’t disappoint its audience.   Joe Cornish (writer/director) expertly weaves a mutli-genre narrative  into a tense, fun and entertaining journey of terror and… self-discovery.  Yes.  Self-discovery.  All this for a £9,000,000 budget.

Moses (John Boyega) is the leader of a London street gang, a group of young juvenile delinquents who have far too much time on their hands and too much testosterone coursing through their veins (the affliction of most males, teenage and otherwise).  We follow the narrative that begins with Moses’ bad decision to have his group rob a nurse, Sam (Jodie Whittaker), which puts him and his group in the spot where an alien crash lands into a car.  Sam escapes the group who were holding her at knifepoint, and honestly, at this juncture of the film, I was wondering how Cornish was going to turn this around for me.  I was so disgusted with the group of mini-thugs, I was hoping the aliens would crash-land into them and the film would end.  I don’t have a lot of patience for armed robbery.  Moses forgets about Sam and is far more curious about the car the alien has crash-landed into.  He goes to investigate and in the process, almost gets killed.  He’s so mad the alien attacked him, he and his gang follow the alien to an abandoned structure and they rush in.  We don’t see the fight, but the boys come out victorious, with a dead alien that looks a lot like a gorilla with lots of shark teeth.  And yes, these aliens are cheesy but as the film progresses, their presence becomes increasingly menacing.  I enjoyed them far more than the aliens from Cowboys & Aliens or the one from Super 8.


It’s Moses desperate need for acceptance and inability to control his emotions that actually causes all the peril in the film.  His desire to kill the alien, and the direct action of the killing, starts the narrative of horror in motion.  Cornish essentially makes Moses a complete wanker at the beginning of the film, challenges us as viewers to see if we can look beyond his violent interior and exterior and somehow identify with him.  Moses takes the audience on his journey:  from being a self-serving juvenile  to becoming a man willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the community.

When the aliens (who as I said are basically scary looking gorillas with ice blue glowing teeth that like to tear people up and bite them) come after Moses’ block, it’s a matter of pride in the beginning.  Turf as well.  The neighborhood drug dealer, who attempts to recruit Moses early on in the film warns him though, that the block Moses is living on isn’t really Moses’ territory, it’s the dealer’s.  In this assertion lies a challenge for Moses, so while defending his block against the aliens, he inadvertently angers the drug dealer who becomes his nemesis, so now Moses and his gang must avoid not only an alien threat but the human threat as well.

If Moses hasn’t brought on enough problems for himself and his group of friends, they end up having to seek help from the very same woman, Sam, who they robbed.  This challenge for our anti-hero becomes one of his greatest tests in the narrative:  to look beyond what he perceived as someone outside the block, apologizing for his actions and accepting her as a trusted friend.  In that same spirit, Sam, the nurse, must put aside her anger and fear of Moses and his friends, attempt to help the injured party in the group, and ultimately, trust Moses with her life.

Now, you might ask yourself if this is an action/horror comedy movie or a tender coming of age/tolerance movie.  It’s all of the above – because the coming of age elements come out of the action/horror/comedy narrative.  It is no small feat to pull that off and Joe Cornish must be given his due.  Whenever things get far too intense we are allowed a moment of comic relief either through dialogue and familiar issues in the lives of every teen (the guys can’t call for help, they’re all out of credit on their mobile phones (cell phones if you’re reading in the US), or watching two young residents of the block trying to get accepted by the gang.  They look like they’re about 8 or 9.  They do get their moment though – which is another gold star for this script – Cornish pays off the plot points that he sets up.  Things are not left hanging or unanswered, they are always dealt with, which is more than I can say for many Hollywood studio films that suffer through the development process with multiple writers.

Although this is primarily a horror film and there is plenty of blood and nerve-wrecking scenes, this film is about far more.  It is well worth the price of admission – full price.  I rarely say that.  I liked it so much that I would probably go again.  Now I never say that about any horror film out in the theaters.  I’m looking forward to watching Joe Cornish’s career.  It’s also nice to see Nira Park got it right again (the producer that brought us the UK horror/comedy zombie film, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World).   Don’t miss Attack the Block.  You’ll be sorry if you do.

Watch my Vlog Review on YouTube.

Trailer for Attack the Block:

Nurse Jackie: High and Mighty or Angry and Whiny?

29 Jul

Edie Falco as Nurse Jackie

Why does the Showtime original half-hour dark comedy work so well when it defies American audience genre expectations of how a medical show should work?  Normally, American medical dramas are traditionally hour-long shows , although there is the success of the irreverent Scrubs! but American television usually doesn’t do medical comedy.  However, Nurse Jackie is a Showtime product – and they have proven that they don’t follow traditional genre expectations – The Big C, Weeds and Californication  illustrate that Showtime is willing to move beyond conventional narratives and take their audience to the edge and beyond of what we might deem morally acceptable.  What works so well for these shows and Nurse Jackie is the compelling characters that are at once human and despicable.

Is Jackie (Edie Falco) a flawed character?  She’s a seasoned New York City nurse who ingests any painkiller or speed pill available but it’s hard to blame her when forced to identify with her life in the hospital, the demands from her husband and kids, and yes, even her lover.  She’s tough-talking but she has a soft side just when you least expect it.  This is what makes her human.  And fallible.  Her best friend is a wealthy female British surgeon, Dr. Eleanor O’Hara (Eve Best), in her own way, just as tough and emotionally distant as Jackie.  They’re the Thelma & Louise of All Saints’ Hospital.

What makes this show work is the level of quality coming from this Showtime production.  Yes, there is drug abuse, adultery, theft and assault to name a few transgressions that occur every week but it’s the way in which these transgressions occur, how they are handled and resolved that makes this show such a pleasure to watch.  For Jackie Peyton, it’s simply all in a day’s work.

Watch my Vlog Review on YouTube.

Season 3 Trailer Promo:

Can Christian Slater Break In to TV Comedy?

22 Apr

Breaking InBreaking In, Fox’s newest comedy (and mid-season replacement) starring 1980s and 1990s bad boy Christian Slater, is actually… funny and amusing. Not that I doubted Slater’s performance abilities. It’s just that I’m hard to please. Thanks to Apple’s iTunes sneak peak and pilot available right now (its free, go on, I dare you to download it – you won’t be sorry and if you are, I’m doubting your ability to have any sense of humor), I became a quick fan. I’m only sorry there are just 6 episodes for this season’s order.

It’s a simple premise, Oz (Christian Slater) “recruits” (ok…blackmails) straight-man computer hacker Cameron Price (Bret Harrison) to become the newest member of his highly-specialized team of um… experts for his business, Contra Security. There Cameron meets his newest workplace buddies including the hot break-in expert Melanie (Odette Annable) and fanboy, stalker of William Shatner and all-around logistics expert Cash (Alphonso McAuley).

The second episode, “Tis Better to Have Loved and Flossed,” guest-stars Alyssa Milano (it really is an 80s reunion of sorts). I didn’t even recognize her! I will say that I was just as entertained with this episode as I was with the pilot, which is increasingly not the case with so many shows. I’m not naming names but between us, Fairly Legal comes to mind.

You can also check out both episodes for free on Fox’s website so go take a look because this show is worth renewing. Hint Hint Fox Executives!

Desperately Seeking Susan, Part 2

17 Apr

I realized that I didn’t touch on a few ideas that I felt were essential to this cinematic monolith of girl power.  First, economics.  Susan (Madonna) doesn’t worry about money.  She simply steals for a living.  There are no moral qualms.  What’s everyone’s is Susan’s because somehow she’s entitled.  Now, that doesn’t mean she’s always a thief.  She did trade her lovely jacket for some sequined boots, although I have a hard time believing that she wouldn’t have stolen them if that jacket had not served so well as a narrative device for mistaken identity.  And, while Susan doesn’t have a job, she doesn’t seem to need one.  She can manipulate at such a high level that she continually uses everyone to survive.  It’s a skill anyone living in New York City needs to master.

Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) on the other hand, manages to find a job as Susan.  Although it is as a magician’s assistant that only pays $20 a night (how could anyone live on that in NYC even in the mid 1980s?), she is gainfully employed, which says more are her character and personal responsibility than Susan’s.  The only thing that truly bothers me about this film is that while it is telling young girls and women to follow their dreams, it sure doesn’t show them how on earth they’re going to exist in tough economic times.  I know at the end of the film, they receive a reward for the stolen earrings, but really!  How long can that reward money last?  Especially if Susan has no income and Roberta’s still making $20 a night.

This also brings me to the second point I wanted to make, the idea of the ‘couple’ in a comedy.  The  most important ‘couple’ in the film is Susan and Roberta.  The title itself, “Desperately Seeking Susan” is not really about Susan’s boyfriend seeking her, it is about Roberta seeking Susan.  Roberta seeks the “mystery of Susan” and can only begin to satisfy her life when she becomes the other, in this case, Susan.  As Susan, she becomes a whole of herself.  As Roberta, she is only a housewife, which from the beginning of the film, we learn that she feels she is lacking a purpose in her existence.  Roberta as Susan starts to take chances, gets a job, lives in the city and rejects convention.  The only problem is that Roberta doesn’t quite have Susan’s natural gustiness…something that becomes quite apparent as she is chased and attacked.  And, it is, after all, Susan who hits the bad guy and saves the day.  Susan, however, lacks Roberta’s ‘polish’ and strangely, allows a friendship with Roberta that she doesn’t have with anyone else.  Susan uses people, she doesn’t actually like them.  This newer, softer Susan at the end of the film, is the result, it seems, of her new-found partnership/friendship with Susan.
The last shot of the film show that the true couple of the film is Susan and Roberta.   It is this friendship and coupling that allows them to become a power couple.  They are the complimentary halves to each other.  As part of the heterosexual couple, each woman is not ‘special’, yet as part of their ‘dynamic’ friendship, they brought down a murderer and a thief (it takes one, or half the couple, in this case, to know one?).  They share the reward and become heroines.

If these women become heroines by the end of the film, and we are discussing women, after all, I pose the question, what sort of character is Susan throughout the film?  And what about Roberta?  If this were a drama, Susan would unequivocally be a femme fatale, and Roberta might be characterized as a reluctant femme fatale; however, this film is marketed as a comedy about mistaken identity.  So the question is posed:  is Susan a femme fatale? And, can a femme fatale function in a ‘comedy’?  I thought about this as I sipped a lovely glass of Grgich Hills Zinfandel and ate some Roquefort cheese on imported crackers.  I came to a resounding:  I’m not sure!  Femmes fatales don’t really go with the comedic genre.  I might need the entire bottle of wine while I contemplate the answer.

Weeds Episode Recap: “Gentle Puppies”

4 Jan

This episode really should have been titled, “Nancy Needs to Get Laid.” Or “How to Get Laid on the run.” Or maybe:  “Nancy, Keep It in Your Pants.”

The Botwins buy an RV once owned by a minister now in prison for embezzlement but who apparently had quite a kinky appetite when he went on his – missions. I guess this is the only way one can make an RV sexy.

Shane announces he doesn’t want to go to high school so she promises to come up with a plan to educate him which suits him more to his path. Nancy, I’d suggest the local lockup ward.

Andy becomes Pastor Randy. I’m not sure what to say about Pastor Randy except it feels like Weeds is now scraping the bottom of the barrel. The fake baptismal. The revival atmosphere. It’s all too easy and it all seems to fall apart at the end of every episode to keep the Botwins moving along.

This week’s episode centered around Nancy’s need to get laid. The sex scene she has with the bartender she hits on is, I guess hot, but really the whole thing feels forced. And I’m extremely forgiving with sex scenes. I realize Nancy has to have at least one really hot sex episode a season but it was clear they realized Nancy needed a sex scene so that’s what the episode was about. Of course, her choice ends up being a married man and as soon as it feels like the Botwins might be welcome in their new community of losers, they are chased out of town by the entire ‘town.’

I seriously will need a shot of something before I watch the next episode.

Weeds Episode Recap: “Pinwheels and Whirligigs”

2 Jan

Please somebody hunt the Botwin-Newmans down and kill them in cold blood. Because this season SUCKS.

The Botwins are on the run while Doug tags along. He is only in this episode in order to serves as the babysitter while the family wanders around a crap fair in Montana when they decide to take what they believe is a well-deserved break from being on the run.

Silas and Andy enter a butter-sculpture eating contest that was so disgusting I almost couldn’t watch. They win a dream RV to help them escape, but they are supposed to give tax identification and obviously can’t so they must leave without their prize. Shane gets a short lecture by Nancy about not growing up to be a psychopath.

I’m sure they were supposed to have a ‘nice break’ going to the fair. I just couldn’t wait until they got back in the car and left. The problem is, they’ve made it to next week. The previews promise that Nancy needs to get laid so maybe there is hope. But this season, I highly doubt it.


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