Tag: television

Bechdel Test

Have you guys heard of the Bechdel test?  Evidently it’s been around for ages, but I just heard of it yesterday (what kind of feminist am I?).  It’s pretty interesting stuff.   The idea is to find a scene in a movie where two female characters talk about something other than men.   Even when you make it a 60 second minimum there are still so many that fail the test.

The feminist frequency explains it pretty well:

It seems almost hard to believe this could be the case.  How could so many movies not have one conversation with two women not about men?  And yet I now think about it and there amazingly few that past the test.  I’m trying to think about recent movies.  I’m particularly thinking about Frozen. It passes the test! There are conversations as children not about men and then about saving the town from the winter in the castle, the ending isn’t about a man.  Now I like it even more.

How did we do in 2013?

http://tribecafilm.com/stories/10-films-that-passed-the-bechdel-test-2013

There is also the interesting idea of the smurfette principle.  Basically the token woman (ie Princess Leia) amongst a troop of men.

This is not necessarily saying the movies that fail the bechdel test are bad.  Pixar movies all fail the test except for maybe Brave.  Will have to think about that one.

As she says good movies fail the test and bad movies pass the test so it isn’t a test of quality merely presence of women in stories.

Anyway, I just thought it was interesting and wanted to share it with all of you.  What do you think? Is it too much to hope for or is the test not accurate or silly?

HIMYM: How I Met your STEPMOTHER…

himym2

Since I just posted my favorite How I Met Your Mother episodes I feel it is appropriate to post my reaction the finale. Well friends…

IT SUCKED!

Here’s why

Way back in season 5 episode 2 they had a conceit that Marshall couldn’t look at other women without having a Lilly death fantasy.  Lilly gets sick, he grieves, and then he can move on to whatever hot woman he is currently looking at.  Tell me that this isn’t the finale but in non-fantasy form?

Part of the reason it isn’t just a bad episode is the narrative structure of the show.  A TV show like Seinfeld could get away with a sucky finale because there wasn’t a strong narrative to the stories.  They didn’t really connect and could stand on their own in humor, jokes, storyline.  HIMYM was built on it’s narration.  That was the entire gimmick.

Here is this man telling us and his kids how he met their mother. It’s a specific narrative where we expect specific results.  It’s like someone telling you a knock-knock joke- you expect the knock and the who’s there.

It really does hurt the entire show for me- not ruin but hurt.  Endings are important in a narrative.  I want to see the ring destroyed at the end of Lord of the Rings.  I want to see Jane and Rochester get together.  I want to see Harry beat Voldermort. The writers promised us the viewers an ending that we didn’t get.

It was supposed to be Ted’s great journey of how he met the mother and how that changed everything.  Instead we got the alternate love story tagged on.  Not the one we were promised all along but the one the writers had literally been spending 7 years convincing us was a bad idea. How is that satisfying? Just end with the mother at the train with the umbrella. That would have been perfect…

Ted and Robin dated in season 2 of the show.  At the end of the season they break up because they realize ‘we have an expiration date’.  While being right for each other in some ways, they want different things out of life.  Robin wants to travel, focus on her career, and lead an exciting life.  Ted, on the other hand, wants a house in the suburbs, kids, family, marriage.

So, are we supposed to assume that the expiration date really didn’t exist and that all these reasons they weren’t a match simply went away because he had kids with another woman? (Also, did it fit with Ted’s character in the show to have him drag out his wedding for 7 years?  Are you kidding me? And we don’t even get to see the actual wedding!) Like I said, it’s like Marshall with the death fantasy- still get to be the great husband and father but also have his desire for Robin fulfilled.  So lame.

So let’s assume the expiration date does go away and Robin and Ted were to really get together. Why writers do you spend an entire season on a weekend wedding only to spend the finale covering 15 years with divorce, death, and reuniting? Why not spend the final season getting to know the mother, seeing their relationship and then at the end of the season you could have the mother die if you wanted to go that way?  Badly done!

So in conclusion Ted learned nothing in 9 years…

Ever since his emmy nomination in 2007 (season 2) the show has been practically carried by Neil Patrick Harris- sometimes to a fault.  The episodes in seasons 5-7 were very Barney-centric with the playbook and Barney’s womanizing behavior featuring in almost every episode.  But we also saw the character grow and learn things about his selfish life.  He even tells Robin ‘I don’t always want to be that guy’.  Well, evidently the writers disagree.

In one scene Barney and Robin fight in Argentina about his blog (if Barney is a lifestyle blogger how is that not the perfect companionship to Robin’s traveling and career? There are thousands of people who make a living doing that type of blogging?).  Then they break up (again whole season devoted to their wedding weekend and it dissolves in a minute…).  Next we are shown him having the ‘perfect month’ of sexual conquests, a new playbook and a baby with girl #31 (that is literally her name. We never see her or learn her name).

There was one nice moment with Barney and his daughter but why not have Barney and Robin adopt a girl in their travels or maybe he is an especially great uncle or anything but an illegitimate love child with a woman we haven’t been introduced to or known?

So in conclusion, Barney learned nothing from 9 years…

The person they turned Robin into also was so disappointing.  She doesn’t even leave the show as a good friend.  She has clearly broken Lilly’s heart time and again.  Isn’t there for the ‘big moments’ and honestly in today’s modern communication is there any excuse for not being there in the big moments?  Does Skype not exist for these people?

They even say in the finale that Ted has a ‘rare Scherbatsky sighting’.  That’s not how I want to leave my friend of 9 years. As a cold, aloof, divorced woman who never communicates with her friends any more?

So in conclusion Robin learned nothing from 9 years…

And then we have Marshall, my favorite character.  In season 2 there is an episode called ‘the best burger in New York’ where Marshall is debating about getting a job at GNB when he really wanted to be an environmental lawyer.  He tries to find the right job and the right burger but nothing is as good as he had imagined it being 8 years ago, so he settles for the corporate job.

Then in the 3rd season he is so unhappy that in an episode called The Chain of Screaming he can’t take it any more and he quits. Nothing is worth feeling that way. This actually meant a lot to me at the time as it aired in Feb 2008 and I had just quit my job in December 2007, was unemployed and Marshall’s work journey felt very personal to me.

So, what do we get in the finale?  Oh Marshall goes back to a lame corporate law job for who knows how many years!  What!  Yes, he then becomes a judge, but I couldn’t believe they had him go back to corporate law.  After how unhappy he was would Lilly ever allow him to go back there?  No way.

So in conclusion Marshall learned nothing from 9 years…

And then we’ve got Lilly left.  She was in many ways the mother of the show- the warm nurturing presence for the cast.  What does she end up like?  Well, she is left crying a lot.  We don’t really get a satisfying end for her character just a lot of crying. Why not show her happy as a mother and her kids happy?  Something other than 15 years of crying.

So in conclusion Lilly…who knows what she learned in 9 years…

What did I learn in 9 years?  Well, I had a lot of laughs with characters that were my same age and that I related to.  In many ways their journey was my 20s. Not in the sense of what happens to them happened to me but that we became a grown up together. So for the characters to have gone on that journey with me and then end up not learning anything is very disappointing.

Nevertheless, I am going to chose to focus on the journey. It’s been a crazy 9 years.

So in conclusion Rachel learned something…

(I recognize this post is not my greatest writing but it was honestly kind of emotional for me to see things end the way they did.  Like I said when I quit my job in 2007 this show meant a lot to me. I’ve stuck with it for 9 years, 3-4 of it that weren’t very good just so I could get this ending and it sucked. It really sucked)

major disappointment

 

 

 

 

 

HIMYM: Best of How I Met Your Mother

himymGather round folks let me tell you about a little show I have loved called How I Met Your Mother.  Back in 2009 I wrote about it in one of my first posts to get a decent amount of hits.  Regina Spektor and the Murtaugh List

At that point I described it as ‘my favorite show’ and while it has fallen on hard times in the writing department the last 3 years, it will always be one of my favorite shows ever.

If you don’t know the conceit of the show is a middle aged man named Ted sits his kids down and tells them how he met their mother.  This narration continues each episode for all 9 seasons- long story! (It really should have ended at season 6).

In truth, the title might have been more correct as ‘How WE met your mother’ because it is not just Ted’s story but also his best friends Marshall (Jason Segal), Lily (Allison Hannigan), Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris). The cast is legend-wait for it- dary.

The key to this type of sitcom is a likable cast and they are incredibly likable. Enough so to keep me interested even when the writing got super lame.

Ted is that friend we all have who wants a relationship so badly they never seem to be able to keep a relationship. Lilly and Marshall are the sweet married couple we all wish we could be like.

Robin is the career obsessed, practical girlfriend most of us girls know (or are) and Barney, well there’s nobody I know like Barney (thankfully).  He’s the womanizing cheese ball who admittedly gets most of the good laughs.

Anyway, with the finale airing tomorrow night, I thought it would be fun to share with all of you my favorite episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

All of these episodes are available for streaming on netflix so give them a watch and see if you think it as charming a show as I do.  I really loved getting to know these characters over 9 years.

Top 10 How I Met Your Mother Episodes

1. Murtaugh (episode 19 season 4)

Let’s start with the episode that inspired me to blog. Ted creates a list of things things he’s too old to do now that he has turned 30 including attending a rave, getting an ear piercing, toilet papering, sleeping on a cot at a friends house etc.

Barney then decides to do everything on the list to prove he is still young and it sends him to the ER. I related enough to this idea enough to create my own list.

murtaugh

2. Monday Night Football (season 2 episode 14)-

Every year the group meets up to watch the Super Bowl but this year a guy from their favorite bar dies and the funeral stops them from watching.  So, they DVR the game and have to go 24 hours without finding out the score.  This proves to be especially difficult for Robin given she is a news reporter.

Given my recent rant on spoiler complainers it is probably of no surprise I find this episode funny.  The effort each one must go to in order to stay away from the Super Bowl winner is very entertaining and it made me think of the good times I’ve had with friends over the years watching something on TV.

To avoid hearing who won the game Ted tries out the sensory deprevator 5000
To avoid hearing who won the game Ted tries out the sensory deprevator 5000

3.  Lucky Penny (season 2 episode 15)-

Ted and Robin are racing through the airport trying to make a flight to Chicago for the interview of his dreams.  As they run, they try to figure out who is to blame for them being late.

Is it Barney running the NY Marathon and then losing his ability to use his legs? Or perhaps Lilly for wanting to camp out in front of a bridal salon next to a car alarm going off? Maybe it is Marshall breaking his toe?

As they unwind the events that caused them to be late we can’t help but think back to similar moments in our own lives and the seemingly insignificant puzzle pieces that led up to them.

lucky penny4. Slap Bet (Season 2 Episode 9)-

Robin refuses to go to the mall with the gang and everyone starts guessing why.  Marshall and Barney make a bet called a slap bet where the person who wins gets to slap the loser as hard as they can.

The results of said bet are carried out through each season creating one of the best story threads for the show. It is also the introduction of Robin Sparkles, Robin’s teenage popstar alter ego.

5. Arrivederci, Fiero (Season 2 Episode 20. Season 2 had a lot of my favorites)-

In this episode Marshall’s beloved car, the Fiero, finally conks out after nearly 200k miles.  For Marshall this is a symbol of his youth and it turns out to have sentimental value for all of the gang.

Perhaps the reason this season really hit me so hard is that it was 2007 when I was so unhappy at work and both Marshall and Ted are struggling with work-related issues. Marshall had dreamed of doing environmental law but with a new wife and her spending habits he is forced to take a corporate sell-out job.

At the same time Ted is working for a pompous idiot who has stifled his creativity and yells at him.  I just related to the story of becoming an adult and how the work-world isn’t always what you thought it would be when you were in college.

The other day I was going through  my dishes with my roommate and I still have my melmac plates from college.  The idea of getting rid of them made me cry. That’s what Marshall feels with the death of his car.

There is also probably more backstory to the characters in this episode than any others. In a funny scene we learn that Barney doesn’t know how to drive:

 

6. Matchmaker- (Season 1, Episode 7)

I really only like this episode because of the B storyline.  The A story is about Ted and Barney going to a matchmaker service and Ted finding out there are 8 women for him in the fishbowl that is New York City.  In fact, there may not even be 8…

The B story is one of my favorites  because it shows off Marshall’s innocence and charm.  He is extremely superstitious and one afternoon He and Lilly see a creature in their apartment.  She thinks it’s a cockroach.  He thinks it’s a mouse.

After seeing it again they conclude it is the ‘cockamouse’. Skeptic Robin doesn’t believe them and scoffs at their crazy notions.

How-Met-Mother_Ep107_300

7. Spoiler Alert (Season 3 episode 8)-

Ted is dating what he see’s as the perfect girl but his friends can’t stand her.  He can’t figure out what the problem is and they warn him about spoiling the image he has created of this girl.

Finally after incessant begging they tell him how she talks and talks and suddenly it starts driving him crazy.  He didn’t notice it until someone pointed it out but once they did he can’t get it out of his head.

Through the course of the episode each of the friends has a similar spoil behavior- Lilly chews to loudly, Robin says literally all the time, Ted corrects everyone, Marshall is always singing etc…

I think most people who have friends or family can relate to this episode.  We all put up with our friends bad habits because we know they are putting up with ours.

bad habits8. Intervention (Season 4 episode 4)-

Ted is engaged to Stella who he has only known for 6 months and the gang is concerned he is rushing into things.  He is about to move to New Jersey to be closer to her when he finds out his friends are going to hold an intervention to show how worried they are.

It turns out this intervention strategy has been used many times before by the gang for things like Marshall’s ugly pants or Lilly’s Scottish accent.

We see the intervention come up in later episodes and it is a funny plot device.  It’s just a well written funny episode.

Robin-Intervention-how-i-met-your-mother-17656939-500-375 x240-vGl9. Dowistroplia (Season 3 episode 7)-

Marshall and Lilly are thinking of buying an apartment but Lilly has a secret credit card debt she hasn’t told Marshall about.  What makes this episode funny is the narrator gives us what the friends ‘should have said’ and then quickly what they actually said. For example, when Marshall see’s the apartment:

Marshall Eriksen: I’m going to stop you right there. Don’t bother with the hard sell. We can’t afford this place just now, and besides, we just started looking.

Narrator: Is what Marshall should have said.

Marshall Eriksen: I’m going to stop you right there. I love it! We’ll take it!

This rang true for me.  How many times have friends asked you for feedback when what they really want is just a reassurance of what they have already done?  It is also a great Marshall and Lilly episode because she finally has to admit she has a huge problem and debt.

Dowisitrepla_-_no_spoiler10. Stuff (Season 2 Episode 16)-

Ted and Robin start off the episode with a fight.  She doesn’t like how most of the items in his apartment were given to him by ex-girlfriends.  She wants him to get rid of all the ‘stuff’.  Then he finds out that her 5 dogs are presents from boyfriends and Ted get’s upset calling Robin a hypocrite.  Instead of dogs he now see’s her 5 ex-boyfriends hanging around her all the time.

That is all funny but the true cream of this episode is when Lilly asks the gang to come to her avant garde play which is awful.  Barney is the only one who tells her he hated it and she’s offended.

To show her his side Barney makes them all go to his play where he dresses up like a robot, says the word moist over again and sprays Lilly with a squirt gun.  It is also the 2nd showing of the slapbet. ,

I found this episode funny because haven’t we all been to that terrible recital or play to support a friend? I have no doubt that some have done that for me, that’s for sure!

barneys playSo that’s my list.  What are some of your favorites?  I didn’t have any later episodes.  Any those that you particularly like?

If you haven’t watched the show and have Netflix check out these episodes.  I’d be surprised if they don’t at least make you smile.

(Oh another one I love at Christmas is How Lilly Stole Christmas)

Feminist Fantasies

women actresses

So yes it’s another one of my feminism posts but it’s late at night and I feel like writing about something so why not! Over the weekend I was talking with my sister about her women’s studies classes and it got me thinking about the differences between the ideal woman of her era and of mine.

When I was in college we talked about a cycle of female imagery that we saw in the 40’s and 50’s. From Rosy the Riveter of WWII to the June Cleavers and Donna Reeds of the 50s.

I particularly remember analyzing I Love Lucy and how the working woman of the war had been turned into a silly, foolish, klutz always needing to be rescued and scolded by her husband (btw I think some of the episodes are very funny but that does tend to be the theme- Lucy get’s in trouble, Ricky groans and then saves the day)

I remember thinking that such a cycle was an oddity of the past and surely wouldn’t be seen again in my enlightened future.  Little did I know that I had already seen it in the change from the 80s to the 90s.

Then we have seen it change again in 2000’s and 2010s

See if you recognize them and if my descriptions ring true.

Feminist Fantasies- What I mean by that is the kind of woman that is put out as the ideal or ultimate example of womanhood.

1980’s feminist fantasy-

Well, the formation of the 80s ideal really started in 1978 with films like An Unmarried Woman with Jill Clayburgh and then in 1979 Kramer vs Kramer with Meryl Streep.  Both movies are about women dealing with divorce- one forced upon her, another by her abandonment of family.

While Streep never seems quite happy after leaving her family in KvsK, Clayburgh is happier, and by the end of the film grateful for her husband’s cheating ways. She’s liberated and free to experience all the new things suburbia and housewife life could have never taught her.

So the fantasy of the free woman starts…

Then the next decade you had women “learning” all kinds of things from divorce or not marrying.  Working Girl, 9 to 5, Dirty Dancing, Flashdance, Broadcast News, When Harry Met Sally all have women that rebel what’s expected of them, are independent and strong. Even if they found love it was a very ‘don’t put me in a corner’ kind of love- no rescuing required.

On television we saw young women living together (The Facts of Life) and old women living together (The Golden Girls).  There were also women cops, attorneys, executives and even the mothers were kind of tough girls (Growing Pains, Family Ties).  Even the cartoons of the 80s featured independent women.  I mean Smurfette is the only woman of her species…

So then the 90s

The fantasy woman of the 90s technically started in the late 80s and it is what I call the ‘perfectly balanced. I can do everything woman’. No person exemplified this more than Clair Huxtible from the Cosby Show.  I realize the show ended in 1992 but I still think it influenced that generation of girls more than the 80s.

Clair was a fantasy woman for any era.  A lawyer married to a doctor with 5 kids in a seemingly perfect brownstone neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Never once did the show discuss the problems such a lifestyle would face- daycare, family abandonment issues, latch key kids etc.

They got around a lot of it by having Cliff’s office at their house but the idea that someone like Clair wouldn’t have a nanny was a true fantasy.   Who needs a nanny when the modern woman can balance home, work, life, community so well?  Sigh…

Another great example of the 90s superwoman is the movie Baby Boom.  It’s a charming movie but the ultimate in feminine fantasy.  Diane Keaton plays a busy career woman who literally scoffs at the notion of home and family creeping into her work.  Then surprise her distant cousin dies and gives her a baby as an inheritance.

Now the workaholic must allow a baby into her busy schedule.  At first she’s overwhelmed but eventually (spoiler) she quits her job, moves to Vermont, dates a hunky vet and starts a gourmet baby food company that her former employer ends up offering a bid on which she turns down so she can run her little company and take care of her baby.

What I think is amazing about this movie is there is no even semblance of ‘let’s try to make my old world work with this new world of family’-a dynamic you’d have seen in the 80s.  In the 90s, it was this illusion if you retooled things and moved them around you could balance everything- even dating the hunky vet… (Murphy Brown would be a TV example of a Baby Boom type story).

Then we get the 2000’s.   I was already in college at this point so most of my female life fantasies had been fully entrenched by that point but there was definitely a shift.  The independent power woman of the 80s, and the perfect balancer of the 90s gave way to a dichotomy of women on one end of the spectrum or another.   The fantasy woman of the 2000’s was either a heroine or a villain.

Villains you ask?  What I mean is someone we might have lauded in the 80s as ambitious and accomplished became an ice queen who never took time for life.  Nowhere is this more true than in 2006’s Devil Wears Prada- a favorite movie of mine.

The career and image obsessed Meryl Streep (twice on this list. I guess she’s just an all around fantasy woman!) doesn’t have time to even pick out Christmas presents for her kids or have a stable relationship within home or the work environment.

In one of their first interactions Streep’s character Miranda gives a list of things for Emily to do.  It is remarkable how this same list would have been seen as great in the 80s and 90s but was definitely the sign of a witch here:

“Details of your incompetence do not interest me. Tell Simone I’m not going to approve that girl that she sent me for the Brazilian layout….Yes to Michael Kors’ party…Call Natalie at Glorious Foods and tell her no for the 40th time. No! I don’t want dacquoise. I want tortes filled with warm rhubarb compote. Then call my ex-husband and remind him that the parent-teacher conference is at Dalton tonight. Then call my husband, ask him to meet me for dinner at that place I went to with Massimo”

Perhaps it is an improvement that such multitasking is even acknowledged as opposed to Clair Huxtible it being all tucked under the table?  And I must admit I relate to this movie because when it came out in 2006 I totally had a Miranda boss who made my life miserable.  What can I say- sometimes people live up to the female fantasies of their era.

At the same time you had the ambitious ice queens of the 00’s you had the ‘desperate to be married’ and be loved group of women (like I said a dichotomy).  Every movie starlet of this era played the part of ‘I can’t get a date to save my life and all I really want to do is get married but I have to work’.  JLo, Jennifer Aniston, Katherine Hiegel, Sandra Bullock to name a few.

The ultimate example of this type of needy, desperate woman is in JLo’s The Wedding Planner where her lonely character has to be rescued from a runaway dumpster (you read right) by the hunky doctor (quite the comparison to Baby Boom…).  She then sits and plans his wedding to another woman as the chemistry percolates.  (huge hit I might remind you).

The description on Imdb says a lot about this end of the fantasy woman of 00s. “Mary Fiore is the wedding planner. She’s ambitious, hard-working, extremely organized, and she knows exactly what to do and say to make any wedding a spectacular event. But when Mary falls (literally) for a handsome doctor…or will Mary finally get to be the bride herself? When it comes to love, you can never plan what’s going to happen.”

Some of these desperate women were actually quite likable and funny because let’s be honest those women exist and there will always be cream in any trend.  Bridget Jones for one was just witty enough to make it work (and the fact it is based on one of the best books ever written Pride and Prejudice helped).

2010-present

So, what’s the fantasy woman now?  What is the image none of us can live up to?  I would say we have abandoned the desperate woman rom com (literally only 2 released last year)and embraced the tough, grizzled warrior woman (Hunger Games, Divergent, even Snow White is a warrior).  You also have the crass, grizzled, foul-mouthed comedic female characters such as in Bridesmaids.
Even Bella was turned into a warrior at the end of the Twilight movies!

That or we have reverted back to the more submissive roles of the 50s (again we are talking about media here).  You have Bella needing to be rescued at every turn and the women on Mad Men falling sway to the alpha males in their lives (I realize that show is set in the 60s but it still can be emblematic of a type of current fantasy).

It’s like the idea of being objectified for sex is suddenly a desirable thing. (The Mad Men website literally has a quiz ‘which of Don’s women are you’?  Not which character on the show but Don’s women)

The women on Mad Men are also kind of a tough talking and world-weary type you see a lot lately. I even read an article the other day about how the CDC did a study and that women report being more exhausted on a regular basis than men.  (Duh!).  To me that is interesting when you think of the cycle of women.  Are we trying too hard to be the warriors?

Clair Huxtible was tired once and Cliff took her to a hotel for a night and then she was fine.  In 2010’s even in our fantasies the women are tired from all the fighting, and warrioring they do.  Interesting.  (I mean can you imagine Miranda Priestly admitting she was tired?  No way!).

The warrior woman also demonstrates an undercurrent of boldness and leadership while being an inherent part of a movement or team.  Part of that is probably due to social media and the dichotomy it gives women between isolation and togetherness.  So, the ideal woman is the warrior with a dash of fatigue and dependence thrown in.

What do you think about the ideal or fantasy woman throughout the years? What have been some that have tantalized you or perhaps made you work harder (fantasies are not always negative)? What do you think are current trends? What women do you wish you could be more like? Or am I totally off on the idea of a fantasy woman changing in different eras?

Even minutes after writing the post I have thought of many other women roles and parts I could have mentioned.  What women came to mind as you were reading my post?

TV Modern Women Mixology

mixology2

I was a little conflicted about how to title this post because I have no desire to give the piece of garbage I watched last night publicity but I couldn’t not speak out. It amazed me on so many levels but mostly because I can’t believe that such things are considered entertainment to any modern audience especially women.

For years I’ve had issues with the ABC show Modern Family.  Not because it can’t be funny but the way that it portrays women I take issue with.  It is supposed to be a MODERN family and yet the 2 main characters are a trophy wife and housewife.   The former who is charmingly stupid and the latter who is a relentless nag.

That’s a modern woman?  Even if you accept that those type of women exist, which they do, how is a show modern to only show it?  No working Moms? No adjusted housewives, no young ambitious women.  Even the lesbians shown on the show are unflattering. Sigh…

So that’s my issue with that show but I gave it a partial pass because for the first year it was funny.  After about 2 seasons it stopped being funny and I could no longer rationalize it.

However, any issues I had with Modern Family pale into comparison with the garbage they had after that show yesterday.  It was a show called Mixology and I had heard good things so I recorded it on the DVR. Dumbfounded, shocked, sickened are not too loud of language.

So the point of this show is about 10 people at a bar trying to meet people and their various escapades.  The whole season is one night (and you thought the How I Met Your Mother premise was strained.. It’s like 24 but for sickos at a bar.)

This could be funny but it ends up being an advertisement against drinking or interacting with men…It’s seriously so bad.

The 5 female characters are all gorgeous but treated as nothing (or witches) by the men.  One actual joke is:

“You are a Viking! You rape and pillage and take what you want!” Pause for the big finish: “Obviously, don’t rape her.”

That is comedy in 2014?

Another girl is shown wearing flats and we learn that she is not worthy of conversation because, and I quote, ‘the higher the heels the looser she feels’.  We also get a woman who says she feels like Helen Miren because she is 30 in a room clearly full of men over that age.

We get a woman who says that she looks for the ‘Don Draper types’ who would ‘smack her in the mouth if she sassed’  Another man can’t remember a girls name when she clearly thinks they have a relationship and the break up will be painful and THEY WORK TOGETHER. What man isn’t going to remember the name of a woman who is breaking up with him, that he works with?

Seeing the show is about one night it is no surprise that there are many flashbacks- all of them ghastly.  The women fall out of love and toss men aside at nothing and are genuine beasts including mothers.  One woman is engaged to a ‘Ted Mosby’ type and announces that she doesn’t want to be with him out of the blue because he ‘looks too much like a beaver’.  You think that might have come  up after dating for 8 years!  Then the man who set him up with her says ‘I always thought she was a  whore’.  Message- women are beasts or sluts and men are beasts except for a few men that are pathetic and a few women that are old.

Another woman is so nervous about an online date that she drags her best friend along because he might kill her, and then she throws up in her purse, and the frat boy watching it says, and I quote, ‘look at that chick throwing up.  I’m going to…’ (it’s to offensive but fill in the blank and you won’t be worse).   Oh yes, because that’s what a woman who is afraid she is going to be murdered, and so desperate to meet any man that she is nauseated needs, a predator!, – that’s prime time meat for the men in this show. Let’s pick the must vulnerable person imaginable to seduce… Change the music and this could be an episode of Law and Order: SVU.

An embarrassment for ABC and oddly enough the Kleenex company.  Who knew it was so out of the norm for men to have a box of Kleenex in their house (a case of most unhappy product placement by Kleenex)? Evidently, in the eyes of this show owning a facial tissue is a sign of great femininity and to be avoided at all costs.

Got the idea that I am upset! Pilot Viruet on flavorwire.com said it well:

“The best thing I can say about Mixology is that it’s so hateful and negative that it has made me feel self-conscious about how hateful and negative I’m being toward it. It is also a show that has angered me to the point of talking in circles.”

I just can’t believe it.  I’ve read that an average network see’s 500+ pilot concepts in a year, 70 of those are made into scripts and 20 pilot orders are actually created.  So that means someone at ABC thought this idea was better than 480 other ideas and that they liked it enough to put it after their biggest show, Modern Family.

You should all read Tim Goodman’s 0 out of 10 review on The Hollywood Reporter but he sums it up pretty well:

“Chalk this up as a politically correct knee-jerk response to humorous envelope-pushing if you want, but Mixology is a tone-deaf, poorly executed, badly written series that, in the parlance of the show, kind of rapes comedy.”

I’m just so stunned it almost seems like some kind of bizarre stunt. Remember when Joaquin Phoenix acted like a maniac to see what people would say?  That’s what this seems like.  As if ABC executives sat together and said  ‘let’s see how awful we can make something to see if people respond’  You should be ashamed of yourself ABC and anyone who had anything to do with this trash.

Did any of you see it?  Were you as shocked as me?  How do you think something like this gets made in this day and age?  How? Why?  Who thinks this is funny?  Where is the NOW’s of the world decrying such filth?  Where are the women’s organizations out for blood?  It’s so bad I just can’t believe it.

Ok. Calming down.

Favorite Simpsons Episodes

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For some reason people are nearly always surprised when they find out I love The Simpsons.  Even now in its 25th season it makes me laugh (and is visually stunning these days).  We didn’t have TV for spurts while I was growing up but when I was in high school my sister, brother and I watched The Simpsons every week.

I think my parents allowed it because they recognized how smart it was. The writing encourages thinking, pondering and in the end it is about a family that truly love each other.  Honestly, I would have no problem with my teenage children watching it either. In fact, I look forward to it one of these days.

Just for fun I was thinking about my favorite episodes and a lot of them are in seasons 7-10 because that is when I was in high school and watching it the most regularly.  While the Simpsons can follow standard sitcom formulas (for instance, how many times can they go to a new foreign country and leave bedlam?) it is also clever and mixes all types of comedy from satire to slapstick.

Anyway, what separated the good from the great is when a layer of social commentary and/or tenderness lies underneath the silly plot.

What the Simpsons does that is so brilliant is they make fun of everyone, all the time.  Nobody is kept from skewering and that makes us laugh at ourselves, which is usually the best kind of humor.  I couldn’t find video clips on a lot of them but I have a photo, summary and explanation of why it’s my favorite.  Rent them from your library or pay on amazon prime (or borrow from me).

My Favorite Simpsons Episodes

1. Homer’s Enemy- This is perhaps an odd choice for my list but this episode is so surreal it is funny.  We start off with a heroic 20/20 like piece on Frank Grimes, a man who fought back all his life and struggled to see any benefit to all that work.  Mr Burns see’s the piece and decides to hire him at the nuclear plant, working alongside Homer.

Frank (or Grimey as Homer says) can’t believe Homer’s laziness and it starts to eat at him. For the first time we as viewers see someone that is jealous of Homer and there is a character that treats Homer probably the way we would  in the same situation.

If you like What About Bob you will like this episode.  Just as Bob is completely oblivious to his irritating behavior, so Homer is unaware he could be seen by anyone as anything but loveable and sweet.  Season 8 Episode 23

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2. King-sized Homer- You might be surprised to see this one on the list because on it’s surface it is a bunch of fat jokes but there’ s more to it.  Homer decides to gain weight so he can go on workman’s comp.  This requires a complete change in his already bad diet and a fitness regime of nothing to match.

The reason I think this episode is so funny is that it is really a skewering of the diet industry.  Every bad life changing advice Homer gets to ‘gain weight’ is basically what is told to you to lose weight but in reverse.  Instead of eating whole grain bread Homer is told to use poptarts.  That’s funny.

It also has a lot of humor about the work world and how most of us would do just about anything to get out of going to the office everyday.

Plus we have a classic appearance from Lionel Hutz voiced by the great Phil Hartman. And I think the first appearance by Dr. Nick.

Season 7 episode 7

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3. Marge vs Monorail-  This is probably the most universally loved episodes in Simpsons history.  In it we have 2 appearances from Phil Hartman characters, a song and a lot of laughs.

This episode is about a con-man who swindles the town into building a cheap, shoddy monorail and he does it with a song similar to 76 trombones from Music Man.  Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance on this one.  It is just funny.

Season 4 episode 12

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4. Lisa Gets an A-  This is one of the best Lisa-centric episodes.  Lisa is such an earnest character that it is hard to not root for her.   At the beginning of the episode she is feeling sick and stays home from school.  Meaning to study her homework, she accidentally gets involved with a video game and forgets about the test.

Not wanting to let her A+ streak go she decides to cheat, and get the answers to the test from the local bully, Nelson.  The plan seemingly works but she is riddled with guilt.   This episode has lots of jokes about the public education system, bureaucracy, and our cheating-accepting culture.

Also it is a great performance by Yeardley Smith.  I love Lisa/Bart bonding episodes and Lisa/Homer episodes and this one has moments of both

Season 10 Episode 7

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5. Homer the Great- Homer discovers a secret society called The Stonecutters and decides to join.  Unfortunately on his first day he ruins the Stonecutters sacred scroll and is forced to walk abound the town naked carrying behind a giant boulder.  However, one of the men notice a birthmark that Homer has and they realize he is the ‘chosen one’ and begin to worship him.

This is great comedy skewering our need for both collectivism and feeling special.  A group like this makes Homer feel important, and I think that’s an emotion we can all relate to.  Nearly every joke works and it has one of the best Simpsons songs in years.  It also takes a few jabs at religions but I can laugh at myself and thought they were funny.

Season 6 Episode 12

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6. Secret World of Lisa Simpson-  This one is maybe a surprise because it’s a little bit less well known, but I love it because it is a Lisa/Bart episode, and I love when those characters connect.  Bart pulls off a massive prank at the beginning of the episode and is sent to military school against his will.

When the family drops him off Lisa see’s the higher quality of education and asks to attend as well.  Both Bart and Lisa get homesick and there is a sweet scene where Marge sings to her ‘special little boy’ on a tape and it is emotional.

Lisa loves the learning but has a hard time fitting in as the only girl cadet.  She makes it a goal to endure the same hazing and physical challenges as the boys and with Bart’s help gets in shape and ready to go.  It is a sweet tender episode with enough laughs to make it work as a Simpsons episode.

Season 8 Episode 25

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7. Treehouse of Horror V- The Simpsons is famous for their annual Halloween of horror episode but while always visually beautiful some of the jokes are lost on me because I don’t watch many horror movies.  However, in the 6th season episode 5 they take on the Shining. which is a horror movie I have seen and my favorite.

As in the movie The Simpsons go to a mysterious inn in the middle of nowhere.  As they stay, the father (or in this case Homer) start seeing strange images, growing more and more paranoid by the minute.

In the movie Jack Nicholson plays the father and he begins chanting and writing “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”.  While Homer says, ‘No TV or beer makes Homer crazy”.  There are a lot of other illusions to the movie and it is also very funny.

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The other 2 bits are also funny.  They have Homer discovering his toaster is a time machine but every time he changes so does the world around him (one time they are all lizards, other times lizard tongues and Homer says ‘close enough’)

The final bit has dolphins taking over the world.  It is a very funny mock up of disaster movies like Jurassic Park that were so popular at the time.

8. Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment- This episode is funny because it takes on every drinking cliche in show business flawlessly.  After a rowdy St Patricks Day the town decides to start having prohibition.  As last resort Homer starts a bathtub distillery in his basement and becomes something of a kingpin.  It manages to make fun of everything from the Christian right to mafia movies such as The Godfather.

Season 8 Episode 18

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9. The Cartridge Family-  Starting out with a hilarious bit on how Americans view soccer, a riot starts in the stadium and Marge asks Homer to get a security system.  Finding out they are $500 Homer gets a gun instead which infuriates Marge.

She comes as close to leaving Homer as I think ever happens on the show but somehow it still manages to be really funny.  The meeting of the NRA is hilarious and the creative ways Homer uses the gun are funny. The writing is great especially when Mayor Quimby declares mob rule. And it is not a hate piece on the NRA or guns.  In fact, the ending kind of reinforces why they might be a good idea.  Leaves it open to you to decide while laughing at both sides.

Season 9 episode 5

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10. Homer and Apu- There are so many great side characters on The Simpsons and they all have their moment but Apu is one of my favorites.  In this episode Apu is fired from the Kwik-E-Mart because the actor James Woods wants to do some acting research (very funny guest voice).  Without his store Apu feels miserable but the Simpsons try to cheer him up, and that makes for one of the best Simpsons songs.

apuApu and Homer end up traveling to India to see the head of the Kwik-E-Mart about getting Apu’s job back.  That part is less funny but still a great episode.

Season 5 Episode 13. Another great Apu episode is Eight Misbehaving when Apu has octuplets.

11. Bart Gets an F-  One of the more emotional episodes Bart finds out he is going to be held back a grade because of his low test scores.  He bunkers down and really tries to study only to get another F.  He begins to cry and it’s a very tender moment.  Haven’t we all been in that spot where nothing seems to go our way despite our best effort?  Most media tells you if you work hard you will succeed but that isn’t always the case and I love how this episode shows that.

This episode was also the first episode of the second season so you can see the voices coming together and the animation getting crisper. Terrific voice performances and music

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12. When Flanders Failed- In this episode Flanders decides to quit his job and open up a store for left handed people- the leftorium.  When hearing about it Homer makes a wish on a wishbone that it will fail because he is irritated by his neighbor.

Things begin to go badly for Flanders from the start.  Eventually they are ready to repossess his store and house.  Homer grows more guilt ridden by the second,  and finally decides to help out Flanders, making the business a success.

It’s a really touching episode for both Flanders and Homer but also very funny.  Things get bad for Flanders.  He is living out of car and his bubbly personality is practically destroyed (causing humor and tenderness).  Love it.

Season 3 episode 3

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13. Bart on the Road- If I had to pick one this may be my favorite.  There are so many good gags.  Just the opening take your child to work day with Bart at the DMV with Patty and Selma is hilarious. “Some days we don’t let the line move at all.  We call those days weekdays”… Hilarious.

Bart, Nelson, Millhouse, and Martin decide to use a fake ID to rent a car and drive to Knoxville World’s Fair.  On their way they get a hilarious Al Gore doll “You are hearing me talk” and go to a Andy Williams concert “I didn’t think he’d do Moon River and then double encore”

There is also a funny bit with the kids picking up a peddler and him wondering if he is still on drugs seeing the kids driving.  It’s just full of funny laughs.  It is also another one where Lisa and Bart have to work together and I always like those moments in the show.

14. Bart the Mother- This episode has the greatest laugh of any season.  It starts out with Marge warning Bart to not play with Nelson because he is a bad influence.  Bart lies to her and goes to Nelson’s anyway and while they are playing he kills a mother bird with his BB gun.  Marge see’s it and is horrified.  Feeling guilty Bart takes the eggs and decides to take care of them until they hatch.   Great line:

MARGE
What do you think he’s doing up there?

HOMER
I don’t know. Drug lab?

MARGE
Drug lab?!

HOMER
Or reading comic books, what am I, Kreskin? You tell me what he’s doing.

To learn about caring for birds Bart watches a film strip narrated by Troy McClure in what is the final appearance of Phil Hartman on the show.  It is a hilarious film strip and I only wish I could find it somewhere for you to see it but find the dvd and watch.   There is also a great gag about introducing new species into an environment.

SKINNER
Well, I was wrong. The lizards are a godsend.

LISA
But isn’t that a bit short-sighted? What happens when we’re overrun by lizards?

SKINNER
No problem. We simply unleash wave after wave of Chinese needle snakes. They’ll wipe out the lizards.

LISA
But aren’t the snakes even worse?

SKINNER
Yes, but we’re prepared for that. We’ve lined up a fabulous type of gorilla that thrives on snake meat.

LISA
But then we’re stuck with gorillas!

SKINNER
No, that’s the beautiful part. When wintertime rolls around, the gorillas simply freeze to death

Season 10 Episode 3

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So those are my favorites.  What are some of your favorites?  Do you have a fondness for the Simpsons or hate them?

Oh and the music is some of the best on TV (theme by Danny Elfman and other music by Alf Clausen)