Archive | January, 2015

Back to Reality

14 Jan

Thanks to everyone who read our overrated/underrated and on pointe/off the mark posts for 2014! Brook and I always love the opportunity to pretend to be entertainment journalists for a week or two, and we really appreciate you comments and feedback. Until next year, this blog will be resuming its randomly regularly scheduled musings on this, that and in everything in between. Thanks again for reading!

Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Ten

12 Jan

On Pointe

Serial

–Brook 

2014…also known as the year public radio went viral.

Before I really get into the meat of discussing Serial, I’d just like to point out the irony of its popularity, not because of its content (because it’s no secret that Americans are weirdly obsessed with crime stories in general, and murder stories in particular), but because of it’s delivery method. It’s a podcast. Which is essentially the modern day equivalent to tuning in to Abbott and Costello circa 1942. I just think it’s interesting that as much technology changes, some things stay the same. Serial consumed a two week period of my life. And during that time I wasn’t dying to get home to my 3D, Smell-O-Vision TV, I was dying to plug in my headphones and listen to, not watch, Sarah Koenig dissect the story of Hae, Adnan, and Jay.

But I digress.

Look at any primetime TV lineup, and it becomes instantly evident that homicide is the main source of entertainment for a lot of people, the grislier the better, and if it’s true crime, we’re all basically salivating like Pavlov’s dogs. It’s no surprise, then, that Serial became as popular as it did.

Serial tells the story of the murder of Hae Min Lee, a Baltimore-area high school student murdered in 1999, and Adnan Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend, who was convicted of her murder and is currently serving a life sentence in a Maryland prison.

To say that I was/currently am obsessed with Serial is an understatement. I spent every second I could in the last two weeks of 2014 listening to the podcast and reading blogs, interviews, and articles about the podcast. And I am, like the other five million weekly listeners, still no closer to cracking this case.

On it’s face, the murder of Lee isn’t particularly fascinating or interesting. There was no charismatic cult leader convincing his followers that killing people was necessary for his grand vision of the world. There was no cannibal hiding bodies in his freezer. There was only a missing girl, an ex-boyfriend, and a kid who knew more than he was letting on.

I don’t want to delve too much into detail about Serial for a couple reasons: 1) Spoilers, duh, and 2) if you haven’t listened, the details will bore or confuse you, because there are A LOT of them. But trust me. You should listen. Immediately.

Sarah Koenig does a really good job weaving together 15-year-old narratives into an enthralling story. She also does a good job fairly representing the key players, even the ones who refused to talk to her, especially the ones who claimed she “demonized” them. She even presents information in a very specific order so the audience really feels like they’re working out the case along side her. However, she inserts herself into the story a bit too much for this to be called documentary or journalism, but to be fair, she calls it storytelling.

I hoped when I started listening to Serial that by the end there would be a very clear conclusion. Either Adnan is guilty and rotting where he belongs, or he’s innocent and has been unjustly imprisoned for almost half his life

Sadly this case isn’t so cut and dry (which is what makes it so interesting), but it’s my personal opinion that, regardless of Adnan’s guilt, he has been wrongly imprisoned. There is reasonable doubt the size of Mount Everest in this case. And if the jury’s job is to convict beyond a reasonable doubt, they failed.

There is supposed to be a presumption of innocence until proven guilty in this country, but in the court of public opinion, one is guilty until proven innocent. That seems to be what happened to Adnan. And I’d like to think that beyond this macabre fascination with death, that’s why people are so invested in his story and the injustice of it all, there’s no way to know for sure what happened that fateful January day.

I am not saying Adnan is innocent. Anyone who can proselytize on his innocence or guilt is exceedingly arrogant. I’m saying I don’t think he got a fair trial, and I don’t think the prosecution proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Based on that, the jury shouldn’t have convicted him. You know, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

Put another way, Casey Anthony was found not guilty in 2011 of murdering her daughter Caylee, and there were mountains more of incriminating evidence against her. How about George Zimmerman found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, even though we know for sure it was Zimmerman who pulled the trigger, a smoking gun, so to speak, that does not exist in Adnan’s case.

What Serial does best of all is remind us that in real life, cases don’t often get the CSI treatment. They’re not always tied up in pretty, unimpeachable bows, and that’s why it’s worth listening to. This case in particular is messy, not as simple as it seems on its face, and fraught with human error, both intentional and unintentional.

I cannot even imagine how painful it was for the people involved to have Koenig dredge up this old case, and have them hash out what happened a decade-and-a-half after the fact, but that’s a small price to pay if the wrong man is sitting in prison. And Serial presents a pretty convincing argument that that could be what happened.

Serial

Off the Mark

“The Hanging Tree” Dance Remix

–Andrea

Before I start ranting, let me get one thing I straight. I love Jennifer Lawrence (see last year’s ode here). I think she’s a fantastic actress, and it didn’t surprise me a bit to find out that she’s not a half-bad singer either.

The scene in Mockingjay Part One when she sings “The Hanging Tree” is a poignant one. Lawrence’s character, Katniss Everdeen, sings it while staring at the remnants of what was once her home. Seeing the bombed wreckage of District 12 is what ultimately prompts Katniss to agree to become the symbol of the revolution, and her caught-on-camera singing becomes a rallying cry for rebels across Panem.

Readers of Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay novel know that the song itself has a weighty backstory. Singing in general is an emotional trigger for Katniss because it reminds her of her father. “The Hanging Tree” in particular she remembers because her mother forbade her from singing it  due to its morbid lyrics in which a hung murderer waits for his love to join him in death.

In the movie, the song is sung a beautiful a capella dirge, a haunting song for the fallen.

How, then, does a song about death sung for the dead become a dance remix?

Michael Gazzo, DJ and producer of the dance remix, told Yahoo, “My take on ‘Hanging Tree’ is much lighter, and listener friendly. Although the nature of the track is dark, I envisioned it uplifting an entire group of people to rise up. To unite.”

While it’s true that the song does become a battle cry for the people of Panem in both book and film, I am quite positive that the revolutionaries were too busy fighting to overthrow their oppressors to dance.

Dancing seems to be something plenty of Americans have time for, however, because the dance remix of “Hanging Tree” debuted at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As pleased as I am to hear JLaw on the radio (like I said, I love her), as a fan of the Hunger Games series the dance remix is simply not something I can get on board with. Katniss singing “The Hanging Tree” was a spontaneous occurrence fueled by nothing but passion for all that has been and would be lost in a desperate war against the Capitol. It was a raw moment, never intended to be post-processed and overlaid with a thumping dance beat.

Somehow, I think Katniss would agree with me.

hanging tree

Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Nine

10 Jan

On Pointe

Jimmy Fallon

–Brook 

I think it’s pretty safe to say that if VH1 did a show called Best Year Ever, Jimmy Fallon would win 2014. Hands down.

In February he took the reigns from Jay Leno, the culmination of a very public and drawn-out late night battle that saw Conan O’Brien replace Leno, only to have Leno reinstated as Tonight Show host after O’Brien tanked it, in every sense of the word.

Leno is now retired, O’Brien is licking his wounds on TBS, and Fallon? Well, he’s pretty much the king of everything right now.

Between his epic lip synching battles with the likes of JGL and Emma Stone and using the wonders of video editing to make Brian Williams rap, Fallon has breathed new life into the Tonight Show.

Moving the show to New York helped a lot with that, too, but his set is so obviously an homage to vintage Hollywood, one gets the sense he wanted to be fresh without shaking things up too much.

And he does it all with this confident nonchalance that likely won him the job in the first place.

In his first monologue as Tonight Show host, Fallon got emotional remembering being a kid and watching Johnny Carson. He seems to understand that he’s filling some pretty big shoes but he is able to do it without succumbing to the paralyzing fear that he might not live up to some idealized version of Carsonhood.

He might not be the best interviewer, but he is the best at getting his interview subjects to engage with him in a way that’s very appealing to audiences, and we walk away from the exchange feeling like we know both of them a little better despite them never discussing anything of any real substance. And that’s all America’s obsession with Hollywood really is. To feel like we personally know our favorite celebrities.

Whether it’s “Justin Timberweek” (ok, fine, that was a Late Night bit, but the bromance between them continues) or Zac Efron and Seth Rogen dressing up as teenage girls for “Ew!”, Fallon nails it. Every time.

He’s not even a full year into his tenure as Tonight Show host, but if the run so far is indicative of what we can expect, it’s safe to say that the kid who replaces Fallon will have similar stars in their eyes on their first night.

JFallon

Off the Mark

How I Met Your Mother Series Finale

Andrea & Brook 

Yes, we both felt so strongly about this topic that we both had to have our say.

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS

There were two great rewards that came out of being a fan of the television series How I Met Your Mother. One was Neil Patrick Harris (obviously). The other was that the writers of the show treated you like one of the MacLaren’s gang.

More than any other series in television history (in our humble opinion), HIMYM embraced the concept of the running gag. Numerous references to red cowboy boots, interventions, doppelgangers, a cockamouse, a goat, and of course slap bets not only served to entertain viewers, but to invite them into Ted Mosby’s story. If you were a random, casual watcher of the show, these references would at worse confuse you, if you noticed them at all. To a loyal fan, these references served as reminders that not only did we know the punchline of the joke, but we were a part of it.

Perhaps that is why the finale of HIMYM hurt so much. For the first time in nine years, fans were blindsided by the storyline. Instead of being in on the joke, we were left feeling like outsiders.

For me, personally, the finale bothered me for other reasons as well. I’ve always been a fan of the long game when it comes to television romances. Take your Ross and Rachel or your Luke and Lorelai. Both of these classic couples got their start in the pilot episodes of their respective series. While sharing Oreos and pouring coffee may not be the clearest of indicators of romantic relationships, it was clear from the acting and scripts that these were couples that were meant to be together. They were each others’ lobsters. Sure, there were complications and relationships between those pilot moments and the Finale Ever Afters, but there was never any doubt in my mind that those couples would go the distance.

I felt the same way about Robin and Ted. Ted meets and falls in love with Robin all in the first thirty minutes of the series. I spent eight years of my life shipping them and loathing the idea of a Robin/Barney match up. All the “Aunt Robin” references in the world couldn’t shake my belief that somehow Robin and Ted would find a way, and I went into season nine of the show determined to hate The Mother (aka Tracy). After all, she wasn’t Ted’s lobster.

During the premiere of season nine, “The Locket,” I had to admit she was kind of cute. By “The Lighthouse” I could maybe see why she and Ted would be good together, and by “Gary Blauman” I had finally made peace with the fact that Ted would wind up with Tracy instead of Robin. Damn that Cristin Milioti for being so darn likable.

I would just like to point out that for all the things the showrunners got wrong in our estimation, they got a couple things right, especially pertaining to The Mother. First, just in casting Milioti as Tracy. When I first saw her asking for “One ticket to Farhampton, please,” I was less than impressed. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I made a snap judgement about her compatibility with Ted, and by extension, me, based almost solely on her physical appearance. In five words I wrote her off as, like my esteemed colleague so astutely noted, “not Ted’s lobster.” But after season nine really got rolling, I changed my mind about her. By the end of “How Your Mother Met Me” as Ted listens to, but can’t see, Tracy play the ukulele and sing “La Vie en Rose,” I hadn’t just made my peace with her, I was in love with her (not to mention a sobbing mess).

Second, I really don’t think that there has ever been a more perfect first meeting for two characters in the history of television than the one Carter Bays and Craig Thomas so beautifully created for Ted and Tracy. Their rapid fire repartee using the letters T and M beneath the yellow umbrella was pure brilliance, and indicative of how meant to be be Ted and Tracy really were.

How cheated did I feel, then, when in that last rushed hour of the series not only does Tracy’s character die, but Barney and Robin get divorced, and Ted does wind up with Robin after all. It makes one wonder, what was the point? What was the purpose of the whole series, nevermind the last season which focused only on the Barney/Robin wedding and the eventual mother-meetup?

I really think what happened here was that Bays and Thomas sort of painted themselves into a corner. I know from reading stuff about the show that the ending they ultimately used was filmed while season one was still in production, before they even knew if they were being picked up for a season two. So that awkward exchange between Ted and his kids telling him to “go for it” with Aunt Robin is so awkward because a) the footage of the kids is almost 10 years old,  b) it’s the ending they planned in case they didn’t get picked up, and would’ve been appropriate pre-spending an entire season at Robin’s and Barney’s wedding and c) almost 10 years later, it’s the ending that almost no one wanted.

It seems to me that they, too, had shipped Ted and Robin straight from the beginning. The problem with the finale was their total unwillingness to change course, and be open to the beautiful ending that just sort of happened while they were busy figuring out how to get rid of a character we had spent almost a decade dying to meet. They underestimated the gold mine they found in Milioti, and that is why the ending fell so flat for so many viewers.

HIMYM

Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Eight

9 Jan

On Pointe

Emma Watson & Daniel Radcliffe

–Andrea

It’s no secret that I’ve long been a fan of Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. Generally speaking, that comes with being a part of the Harry Potter fandom. Much of the world thought that after the end of the Harry Potter film franchise, both actors would be too far typecast to have much of a career. Much of the world was wrong. But, it wasn’t either Brit’s acting prowess that put them on our 2014 On Pointe list. Instead, it was their commitment to the feminist cause.

Interestingly enough, I was just having a conversation with Bestie and Husband last night about feminism. Our conversation was spurred by Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting’s flippant remark at the People’s Choice Awards about the “apology tour” she’s on after the anti-feminist remarks she made in a recent interview.

I will repeat to you what I said last night. To be a feminist does mean you want to stop shaving your legs and begin burning your bra. To be a feminist means that you believe in equal rights for both men and women. Period.

For complicated reasons far beyond my scope of understanding, society at large has turned the word “feminist” into a loaded and ugly word. No one explains this more eloquently than Emma Watson, a United Nations Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, did in her speech at the U.N. this past September to launch the HeForShe campaign.

In her speech, Watson says:

I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive.

Why is the word such an uncomfortable one? I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision-making of my country. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.


Watson isn’t the only Hogwarts alum to speak out for gender equality. Daniel Radcliffe, the chosen one himself, spoke out for feminism in an interview with Stylist magazine, saying, “Well, I think I’m a feminist, just by the virtue of the fact that I believe in equal rights for everyone.”

In addition, when questioned by the Associated Press about the strangeness of becoming a “sex symbol” after so many people watched him as a young boy on screen, Radcliffe said, “My immediate response to that was: ‘Well, the male population had no problem sexualizing Emma Watson immediately.’” Pointing out a sexual double standard while fending off uncomfortable interview questions? Well played, Potter, well played.

DR

To know me is to know that I am not a politically charged person. As I’ve already admitted in my Newsroom post last week, I am regretfully uninformed in quite literally every political topic, ever. I would not go so far as to declare myself a part of a movement in any way, shape, or form. I am, however, a feminist. And to that end I say, “Ten points to Gryffindor!”

 Off the Mark

Shia LaBeouf

–Brook

Until 2014, Shia LaBeouf was the kind of non-threatening, quasi-talented actor I could really get behind.

In movies like Transformers, he played the fast-talking kid smarter than all the adults around him, the super nerdy kid who somehow always ended up with the hottest girl. And if you try to tell me you weren’t a sucker for the first Transformers movie, you’re a liar. And Shia LaBeouf was a really big part of that.

He really started to gain some critical acclaim with movies like Eagle Eye and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

And with that critical acclaim came crazy car accidents and weird outbursts in Broadway theaters.

And we won’t mention that Crystal Skull fiasco.

Guys, there were very clear signs that things were going downhill. Fast..

Gone was smart-mouthed Louis Stevens. And all we were left with was a really weird guy with a really gross beard. Who let people do really weird things to him with really weird implements.

He apparently isn’t famous anymore, and really I don’t think we’re missing out on any great talent here. Despite his popular movies, he never really seemed to have *it*. At least not without a lot of effort.

Since it’s what he wants, let him fade to obscurity. I’d rather see more of Joseph Gordon-Levitt or the like, anyway.

Shia

Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Seven

7 Jan

On Pointe

Gone Girl

–Andrea

I am a sixth-grade English teacher. When it comes to literature, I tend to spend a lot more time reading dystopian dramas or paranormal romances than legal thrillers or other more “adult” fare. For a long time I couldn’t even remember the last marketed-toward-adults book that I had read. Enter, Gone Girl.

Now it’s true that I had been hearing about Gone Girl for years. Almost immediately after the book, penned by Gillian Flynn, was published in 2012 it became the novel that every book club had to have, and it sold over two million copies in its first year of publication. Nearly every one of my friends read and raved about Gone Girl, but I still was hesitant to read it myself. Murder mysteries weren’t typically my area of interest.

Then, I saw the first trailer for the movie adaptation of Gone Girl. What’s not to like? I thought. Ben Affleck? Good. Rosamund Pike? Good. Neil Patrick Harris? Good. Being a firm believer in book first, movie second, I knew I was finally going to have to cave and give Gone Girl a try. I was not disappointed. It is very rare that a novel lives up to every ounce of hype it is given, but Gone Girl was every bit the deliciously aggravating mind-fuck I was promised.

I loved the book so much, that the second I was finished reading it I was instantly worried about the movie. I had seen far too many of my beloved novels butchered down to scraps for the sake of the silver screen, and I wasn’t sure how exactly they would capture the delicately balanced nuances between the clues and red herrings that made Flynn’s book so captivating.

The answer is a simple one: have Flynn herself write the screenplay.

Gone Girl is without a doubt one of the best film adaptations of a novel, if not THE best, I have ever seen. Every single relevant detail from the book was kept in the movie, which in some cases makes a movie feel inflated, but the fantastic pacing of Flynn’s script keeps the movie from feeling weighed down. Throw in the spot on acting (like I said, what’s not to like?), and you have yourself a bona fide hit.

What’s even better is that Flynn is finally getting some much-deserved recognition. Gone Girl the novel did not rake in many literary accolades for Flynn, but it seems as though the movie industry is willing to welcome Flynn with open arms. She’s already won the Hollywood Film Awards Screenwriter Award, and with a nomination for Best Screenplay at the Golden Globes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see an Oscar nomination in her future as well. Clearly I am not the only one who recognizes that benefits of an adaptation by the person who knows the material best. Let’s hope this is a trend that continues into 2015 and beyond.

GG

Off the Mark

Lena Dunham

–Brook 

I’m sorry readers, but I owe you an apology.

A few years ago, on this very blog, I climbed up on my soap box and touted Lena Dunham as the auteur of our generation.

I believe I even used the word “wunderkind.”

*shudder*

In hindsight I can see now that I loved her largely because I was coached by the media to love her. I immediately embraced Girls as the artful show it aspired to be. She’s brilliant, they said. It’s a fresh take on a played-out storyline, they said. She’s a body positive role model, they said.

I watched Girls because it came from Camp Apatow (and although I hadn’t seen it in 2012 when Girls first premiered, it is now pretty much inconceivable to me that the same person who bestowed Freaks and Geeks upon the world is the same person trying to pander Lena Dunham to the masses as the voice of a generation), and because it was supposedly a more realistic portrayal of life in NYC than another well known HBO show about four girlfriends.

After three seasons and book deal for Dunham, I find it nearly impossible to relate to Hannah and her friends, and Dunham personally, for that matter. My best friend’s gay ex-boyfriend has never tried to have sex with me. I’ve never jammed a Q-tip so hard into my ear that I’ve needed to go to the emergency room. Twice. I never started an illicit affair while I was in rehab for drug abuse with a guy at least twenty years older than me. And I sure as hell never did any weird sexual stuff with my sister (you’re welcome, Katie).

And, believe it or not, I can relate even less to Carrie Bradshaw, but at least she had Manolos on a journalist’s salary and got to eat pretty cupcakes in the middle of the day with her friends.

Hannah Horvath’s NYC is definitely a lot seedier, and less glamourous than Carrie Bradshaw’s, but that in no way makes it more realistic. And being shocking simply for shock’s sake does not brilliant TV make.

Now that the kneejerk acclaim that initially surrounded Girls is starting to fade, I am finally able to see it for what it really is: a night of partying just a little too hard, with a terrible hangover the next day. It seemed like a good idea at the time, even fun. But in the harsh light of day, after a few glasses of water, some Advil, and a dead ebook publisher, you start to think it was all a huge mistake, and pledge to any and all gods who will listen to never, ever do it again.

Can we all just agree that Lena Dunham is the bottle of cheap tequila we all swear we’re never going near again?

Sure, but like the train wreck you stare at even though you don’t want to, I’ll tune in to the fourth season of Girls like the hypocrite that I am.

What? I said I was sorry.

Dunham

Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Six

6 Jan

Ok, so technically we are done with the over and underrated portion of this year’s trip down memory line, but for consistency’s sake we’re going to stick with the same title formatting. We’ve had a fabulous time discussing the overrated and underrated pop culture happenings of 2014, but it’s time to move on to what was truly On Pointe this past year, and what really was Off the Mark. Enjoy!

On Pointe

The XXII Olympic Winter Games

–Brook

My name is Brook, and I am an unapologetic Olympics lover.

There. I said it.

The best part about being unemployed for the first six months of 2014 was that I was able to spend every waking moment (and some of the sleeping moments, too) watching the Sochi games unfold, and not feel the slightest bit guilty about it.

From Sage Kotsenburg winning the US’ first gold medal of the games in slopestyle snowboarding, to the shoddy hotel accommodations chronicled on every media outlet; Julia Lipnitskaya, the tiny, amazing Russian figure skater and the hoax wolf. I ate it up like Mama June eating sketti after a month-long fast.

OK. Maybe not the best mental image, but it adequately conveys how nutty I get every two years.

I don’t know if my parents know this, but when I was a kid, after everyone had gone to bed, and mom and dad were in bed watching TV, I would creep out of my room, walk ever so silently (which meant I was loud as all hell) down the hall, and sit on the floor just outside their bedroom door and watch TV with them. They probably knew, but they never busted me for it.

In 1996, at the Atlanta Summer Games, I saw Kerri Strug stick her second landing, and clinch another gold for the US, from my (probably not so) secret spot. I felt that I had just witnessed something magical. I liked the Olympics before that. I was obsessed forever after.

And I think other people feel the magic, too.

To the haters, the Olympics may seem like a hokey song and dance, only to come about like a biennial groundhog, filled with cheering for athletes they’ve never heard of, competing in sports they don’t care about.

Call me naive, but that’s exactly what I love about the Olympics. It’s a relatively innocent spectacle compared to other large sporting events. It’s nations on parade, putting their best foot forward (or in Russia’s case, *a* foot forward) for the world to see. It’s normal people doing awe-inspiring things with their bodies, becoming mega celebrities for about two weeks, then going back into relative obscurity. It’s a feeling of “oneness” as we pull together to root for this person or that person.

I dare you to try and tell me your heart didn’t swell with American pride during TJ Oshie’s shootout against the Russians (men’s Olympic hockey: ending cold wars since 1980).

You guys, I can’t freaking wait for Rio.

Sochi

Off the Mark

Glee

–Andrea

I used to love Glee. Then for awhile I liked Glee. For a good couple of years after that I was bored by it. In 2013 my boredom turned to disappointment, and the television show I once loved for its unique concept and sharp writing made its first appearance on our Off the Mark list. I wish I could say that Glee rebounded in its penultimate year, but, well, here we are.

While it didn’t help that I was still recovering from that whole Stripping Santa thing when Glee aired its first episode of 2014, I did my best to go into the second half of Glee’s fifth season with an open mind. Sure I had no fucks left to give about Marley, Jake, Ryder or any of the other member of the second-string ensemble, but with Rachel and Kurt still around, that meant there was still potential.

Sadly, it only took one month for the writers of Glee to have the New Directions lose at nationals, to disband the Glee Club, and to write off the Lima High storyline altogether. No more Coach Sylvester, no more Mr. Schue, and no more Glee Club. I tried to tell myself that this was a good thing, seeing as how I was fresh out of fucks about Marley et al., but I couldn’t help but feel cheated. What the hell did I spend two years watching Marley’s bulimia/Ryder’s dyslexia/Jake’s dancing for if I wasn’t even going to get any sort of resolution for these characters?

Still, I had Rachel. I had Kurt. That meant Glee had potential.

As far as I could tell, when the writers of Glee decided to ixnay the actual Glee Club, they also decided to ixnay any sense of continuity in character development or plausibility in plot. Any remaining storylines moved to New York where Rachel Berry was fulfilling her dream job of performing on Broadway whilst working full time at a diner whilst attending NYADA, her performing arts college, full time. Meanwhile Santana is still Santana, Kurt is still Kurt and SURPRISE Blaine, Arti, Sam and Mercedes are all there too for perfectly legitimate reasons. (Sense the sarcasm.)

While basically every storyline from that point on is complete horseshit, I only have so many minutes to write this, so I’m going to focus this rant on Rachel Berry. Rachel decides to quit NYADA, the school she tried for a complete season to get into, to focus on her Broadway career. THEN, she decides that performing the same show night after night is too beneath her, so she quits her Broadway gig in Funny Girl, her dream role BTW, to pursue a television career.

Let me be clear. There is not even a minuscule chance that the Rachel Berry who auditioned for Glee Club in 2009 would quit Broadway. Not. A. Chance. Apparently I was not the only Glee fan to realize this, because the season finale ratings were a paltry 1.87 million viewers. To understand how truly abysmal this is, the finale of Glee‘s first season was watched by 10.92 million.

What’s truly frustrating is that I still don’t understand why the writers of Glee jumped the shark. And then jumped it again. And again. And again. The writers had Rachel. They had Kurt. They had so much potential to work with. Sadly, that potential remained untapped.

Glee

Over/Underrated 2014 – Part Five

5 Jan

Overrated

U2 – Songs of Innocence

–Brook

If there’s one takeaway from the myriad train wrecks in 2014 pop culture, above Miley Cyrus and that homeless guy, above Kim Kardashian’s greasy ass, even above Dustin Diamond (a.k.a. Screech from Saved by the Bell) stabbing some guy in a Wisconsin bar, let it be this: We now have definitive proof that U2 is the worst band in history.

For a long time this was mere speculation. The stuff of legend. Nessie had more confirmed sightings than there were supporters of this theory. Whispers in the shadows, spoken in secret. Many feared to speak aloud that the band which must not be named wasn’t worth a single potato grown in their native Ireland.

Then in September, Apple released U2’s thirteenth studio album to all its iTunes customers. “For Free.” But as we all know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch; Apple reportedly paid upwards of $100 million as a blanket royalty for Songs of Innocence.

Now, if you’re like me, when you noticed the album in your iTunes library, you were thinking something along the lines of: “How in the hell does Apple tell me ad nauseum that I don’t have enough storage space on my phone, yet it somehow found room for this rubbish?”

Well kids, it seems we weren’t alone. Almost as quickly as the album came out, there were articles outlining step-by-step instructions for getting rid of it. And Bono was forced to apologize, because LITERALLY NO ONE wanted it.

And by apologize, I mean come off even more smugly self-righteous than assuming the world would hail your musical genius and fall all over themselves to thank you for your benevolent gift of “free” music.

He said, “Oops. I’m sorry about that. I had this beautiful idea. Might have gotten carried away with ourselves. Artists are prone to that [sort of] thing. A drop of megalomania, a touch of generosity, a dash of self-promotion, and a deep fear that these songs that we poured our life into over the last few years might not be heard. There’s a lot of noise out there. I guess we got a little noisy ourselves to get through it.”

Huh. I guess life really is better through rose-colored glasses (Note to self: make an eye appointment).

He is right about one thing, though. Other than a few select songs, namely “Where the Streets Have No Name”; “With or Without You”; and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, the vast majority of their “music” is noise.

Well, you know what, Bono? You wouldn’t have to fear your songs not being heard if they weren’t complete and total garbage.

Now, excuse me. I’m off to bury what is left of the mangled corpse of your career beneath The Joshua Tree.

U2

Underrated

Olivia Munn

–Andrea

Olivia Munn and I have a love/hate relationship that goes back nearly a decade.

It started out that Munn was the girl I loved to hate. Our relationship began in the late 2000s when Husband became a devout watcher of the G4 television show Attack of the Show! (AOTS), which was at the time co-hosted by Munn. I guess her technical job description was co-hosting, but as far as I could tell, all she did was eat hot dogs off a strings and jump into giant pies, with the occasional dress-up like Princess Leia or Superwoman thrown in for good measure. As if the nerds viewers watching G4 needed yet another not-a-snowball’s-chance-in-hell name to add to their Fantasy Wish Lists. Here Munn was, a gorgeous and supposedly intelligent woman, doing self-degrading and flat out sexist stunts to appease a predominantly male audience. Hence my hatred.

I didn’t shed a tear when Munn left AOTS in 2010 (or when AOTS left the airwaves permanently in 2013, but that’s a different entry altogether). For a period of time I rejoiced because I thought I was done with Munn for good. To my dismay, she kept popping up. On The Daily Show. Chuck. Magic Mike. And, in 2012, on HBO’s The Newsroom.

For a long time I convinced myself that I liked these shows/movie despite Munn’s presence. It wasn’t until 2014, however, that I was able to admit that I liked these shows/movie in part because of Munn’s presence.

I had been begrudgingly tolerating her presence on my beloved Newsroom for years, but I finally had to admit that of all the dynamic characters on that show, it was her portrayal of Sloan Sabbith that I looked most forward to seeing each week. On paper, the character of Sloan Sabbath is rude, condescending, incomprehensibly brilliant, and painfully awkward. Quite frankly, Sloan could have come off us a highly unlikeable character. I was beyond pleasantly surprised to see that through Munn’s portrayal, Sloan became endearing, relatable, sympathetic, and funny. Most importantly, Munn made her a beautifully flawed human being.

The Newsroom sadly came to an end in 2014 (for more lamentations on the subject see Part Two here), and this time Munn’s absence is definitely worth shedding a figurative tear or two over. With a starring role opposite Johnny Depp in the film Mortdecai premiering at the end of January, however, I won’t have to wait long to see Munn’s face again. The trailer for Mortdecai implies that Munn is once again playing the role of Eye Candy, so I’m not sure if I’ll love it or hate it. What I am sure of, is that when it comes to my love/hate relationship with Munn, I’m in it for the long haul.

Olivia Munn