Tag Archives: underrated

Over/Underrated 2016 – Part One

18 Jan

2016. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a year most people aren’t sorry to say goodbye to. 2016 took Prince from Minnesota, Snape from Hogwarts, and Princess Leia from a galaxy far, far, away. 2016 was the year of Zika, Brexit, the Syrian refugee crisis, and He Who Must Not Be Named. On a personal note, 2016 was the year that brought me my daughter, and for that I am thankful. In a year where an escape from reality was all too needed, I am also thankful for another year that had more to love than to hate in popular culture. That being said, it wasn’t all roses. There were still enough entertainment flops too large to simply go un-ridiculed. And for that, dear readers, you have us. That’s right, folks, I said “us.” Rejoice, because once again my bestie Brooklyn is here to impress with her razor sharp wit and scathing snark. Our entries may be a bit laissez faire this year (read: we’ll write when we bloody well can), but I promise our reviews of the best and worst of 2016 will be worth waiting for. So, better late than never, I bring you Over/Underrated 2016.

Overrated

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

–Andrea (@prettyandink)

Warning: Contains mild spoilers

Let me start by saying that nobody, and I mean nobody, was more excited about the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie than I was. As an fervent fan of the Harry Potter franchise, I was not at all mad about the idea of a spin-off franchise. With a screenplay by Jo herself, Eddie Redmayne leading a talented cast, and my desperate Harry Potter withdrawal, I was having a real Joey Tribbiani “What’s not to like?” moment.

Still, when I look at the movie objectively rather than as a blind-with-loyalty fan, Fantastic Beasts just doesn’t hold up cinematically. Yes, it was visually stunning. Yes, the Niffler was cute af. And yes, that Bowtruckle was the most adorbs tree-like-creature onscreen since Baby Groot. All this was fine, the acting was fine, and the overall story was, well, slightly-less-than-fine. Therein lies the problem.

While each Harry Potter book/film can stand alone as an entertaining story, there is a clear overarching storyline at the forefront of each installment that ties them all together. Fantastic Beasts tells us from the opening newspaper sequence that anti-Wizard movements are gaining traction and Grindelwald is at large, but at the end of the film Newt’s role in regards to anti-Wizardry or Grindelwald’s plans is still a giant question mark.  

It’s obvious that the makers of Fantastic Beasts were banking hard core on movie-goers being satisfied with a seemingly endless menagerie of magical creatures being paraded on screen. If you happen to be one of those people that doesn’t find animals, real or magical, to be either cute or entertaining (like a certain friend of mine), then Fantastic Beasts doesn’t really have a cinematic leg to stand on.

What makes this so disappointing is that the possibilities for the Fantastic Beasts franchise were literally endless. Moving the context of the wizarding world from the U.K. to the U.S. opened countless creative doors for the Fantastic Beasts team. Sadly, there was nothing more than a magical creature behind each one. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a disappointingly lackluster start to what had the potential to be a fantastic (see what I did there?) reincarnation of a truly magical (oops, I did it it again) world.

fantastic-beasts

Underrated

Insecure

–Brook (@brooklynhofstad)

I was talking recently with a friend of mine about the show Insecure. This is a friend whom I find generally more informed than I in regards to all things political and the current state of our country. I’m going to say the same thing here that I said to her: “Even  though I am not a black woman, and I cannot begin to comprehend what it means to be a black woman in today’s society, I like Insecure because I find relatable.”

Not that a show has to be relatable to be likeable. It doesn’t. However, I’m at a time in my life where a lot of programming is supposedly about my life. Young(ish) professional(ish) woman making her way in the world. Ups and downs with friends and family members. Mishaps in love and dating. Pressure to get married. Pressure to have a family. We’ve ALL seen that show. I’m Hannah Horvath without the neuroses. I’m Carrie Bradshaw without the Manolos (well…if you want to get technical, I am a Miranda, but I digress…). So, it helps if when I look at the characters, I see myself instead of some caricature-ized version of myself that Lena Dunham thinks I am.

When I look at the girls on Girls, I don’t see myself. Not even close. When I watch SATC, I see what I would be if I had unrealistic budget constraints. But when I watch Insecure, I see myself. I see my relationships. I see my struggles.

The title literally says it all. Who can honestly say that they have never felt insecure?

Anyone who has ever set up an online dating profile can relate to Molly’s seemingly endless string of dates that are complete and total duds, myself included, but that’s an entirely different post.

Anyone who has ever said something about someone and instantly regretted it can relate to Issa when she sings about Molly’s broken…well…you know…

Issa Rae created a show that elevated modern black female narratives on television. Her show revolves around a strong female friendship. Her show casts a more sympathetic light on the oft vilified unemployed black man. And she did it in eight emotional, funny episodes.

Insecure seems to be the little engine that flew under the radar on HBO this year. Up against heavy hitters like Westworld, it’s understandable that there wasn’t a ton of buzz about the show, but it got picked up for a second season, nonetheless.

Insecure has proven itself to be a worthy successor of shows like Living Single, and hints at being capable of delivering characters and stories reminiscent of HBO’s glory days.

insecure

Over/Underrated 2015 – Part Five

19 Jan

Overrated

Meghan Trainor

If I were writing this article at the start of 2015, I’d probably be putting Meghan Trainor on the On Pointe list. After all, her single “All About That Bass” was arguably one of the best songs of the summer. Throw in her positive messages about female body image, and it seemed certain that Trainor was a star on the rise. Unfortunately, Trainor didn’t make the cut in 2015, and, well, her star’s trajectory has changed a bit since then.

It’s rare to be able to pinpoint the exact point in a musician’s career where the 180º turn from fame to flop was made. For Trainor, however, that point is very clearly when “Dear Future Husband” was released as a single in March of 2015. Up until that point, Trainor had been radiating female empowerment, touting messages of “love me like I am,” and “I’m not a dumb broad who will put up with your bullshit excuses.”

“Dear Future Husband,” on the other hand, negates all that. Firstly, the concept of waiting around for a “future husband” in itself is demeaning. If that weren’t enough, awesomely terrible lyrics such as, “I’ll be the perfect wife, buying groceries,” and “If you wanna get that special lovin’ tell me I’m beautiful each and every night” are ten steps backward for all womankind. Sure, she also says that she won’t be home baking apple pies each day, but by that point the message is contradictory at best, and the damage is already done.

Trainor’s fourth single, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” isn’t much better. Even the smooth vocals of John Legend aren’t enough to save a song that’s “live while we can” theme has been done thousands of times before by artists thousands of times better.

Even Trainor’s retro sound isn’t exactly breaking any molds. Sure it’s catchy at first, but you need more than a sound to have true staying power in the music industry. Artists like Amy Winehouse have done the soul thing before, with much greater success. The difference comes in the weight of the songs and the impact they have on listeners. Winehouse poured her soul into her songs, and fans were able to instantly connect to her raw emotional themes. Fans wanting to connect emotionally with Trainor find themselves grasping at straws.

Trainor’s songs my be earworms, but both her lyrics and her persona lack any true depth. As long as Trainor leaves her listeners wading in shallow waters, her career is sure to wash out with the tide. If only I could say we’d miss her.

mt

Underrated

Agent Carter

I know that I’ve been a tad bit harsh in the past when it comes to the monotony of television programming. I’ve vented my annoyance with shows about doctors/lawyers/cops until I turned blue in the face, and recently I’ve added superhero shows to my frustration list. So why, then, does Agent Carter, a show set within the Marvel Universe, make this year’s underrated?

Because Agent Peggy Carter is not your average superhero.

For starters, she’s not technically a “superhero” at all. She doesn’t possess super strength, she can’t mutate into any sort of killing machine, she has no heightened senses, and not a single part of her is machine. What she is, is an officer of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR), a top secret Allied war agency originally founded to battle the terrifying weapons created by the Nazis during WWII. Basically, she’s a kick ass spy, complete with killer (pun intended) gadgets, stunning disguises, and dangerous missions. Despite the fact that there’s technically nothing “super” about Carter, she still proves herself time and time again to be not only the brains behind most of her missions, but the brawn as well. She’s a refreshing and relatable change from the average Marvel characters who can only seem to save mankind with the help of the supernatural or alien technology.

Then there’s the fact that Agent Carter is, obviously, a woman. This makes Agent Carter the very first female-led project in the Marvel Universe. The significance of Carter’s gender on today’s television landscape (better late than never, Marvel) mirrors the significance of Carter’s gender in her own 1940s context. The show is set after WWII, and Carter has been relegated to the position of secretary at the SSR, despite her glaring over-qualifications. In spite of her exclusion from the men’s that is the SSR, Carter doesn’t let her frustrations keep her from saving the SSR from itself. Agent Carter may not know it, but she’s breaking down sexist barriers of the past, as well as the present.

Lastly, Agent Carter is pure, straight up fun. While Carter is a character vulnerable in her humanity and fragile in her grief (“RIP,” Captain America), the show never feels heavy. The rapport between Carter (played by the fabulous Hayley Atwell) and her enthusiastic  (and hilarious) sidekick Jarvis is witty and electric, and there are plenty of explosions and ass-kickings to keep action fans invested. Throw in the glamorous backdrop of 1940s New York City (the cars! the lipstick! the hats!), and you’ve got yourself a show that’s not only wildly entertaining, but visually drool-worthy as well.

Even though Agent Carter received primarily positive reviews from critics and fans alike, skeptics couldn’t help but point out that Carter’s ratings were low for Marvel standards. While it’s true that the ratings for Carter weren’t stellar, one could argue that Agent Carter is just the bit of lighthearted “realistic” fun that the Marvel Universe needs to expand its stereotypical fan base. Thankfully, ABC ignored the skeptics and saw Agent Carter for the gem it really is; season two of Agent Carter premieres on ABC tonight. 

AC

Over/Underrated 2015 – Part Four

16 Jan

So I know it’s been awhile since my last over/underrated post, but Life. My excuses, in chronological order, are: birthday party/Golden Globes, dinner with the parents, Downton Abbey, book club field trip (Alexandra Bracken, YAY!), Husband’s company’s holiday party, and my school’s holiday party.

Methinks that this week will be a far more productive writing week, but no promises.

In the meantime…

Overrated

Adele

Let me be clear about one thing: Adele has mad talent. Pure, raw, stuff of legends talent. Whitney and 90s Mariah sized talent. The girl can belt and wail with the best of them. I’m not denying that.

What I will propose, however, is that she’s a bit of a one trick pony.

When “Hello” hit the airwaves in October of 2015, listeners were thrilled to at last have new music from the songstress, who at one point had contemplated retirement after the success of her previous album, 21. “Hello” was a song worth waiting for. Finally, finally, Adele had released a slow building piano ballad that allowed her to belt out the big notes while showcasing her talent for controlled resonance. How truly original! Like nothing we’d ever heard before on her previous singles like “Hometown Glory,” “Someone Like You,” “Skyfall,”… Oh, wait.

I’m not saying that “Hello” isn’t a fantastic song, because it is. I was obsessed with it, too, and even semi-understood why the video was viewed more than 27 million times in its first 24 hours. I may, in fact, still be obsessed with it, but that’s not the point. The point is that nearly every Adele song sounds exactly the same. Even her “uptempo” songs à la “Rolling in the Deep” and “Rumor Has It” seem to have repeat characteristics. Retro sound? Check. Soul choir backup chorus? Check.

All of Adele’s songs are good, and worth listening to. But do I understand the point of 25-release-day listening parties? Not really, considering that it’s hard to tell exactly which song you’re listening to unless you’re using the album jacket as a reference.

As long as we’re discussing things I don’t understand, let’s talk about Adele’s 2016 Tour. When tickets for Adele’s first tour since 2011 went on sale on December 17th, they sold out within minutes. Fans were willing to fork over upwards of $150/ticket to see the chanteuse, and those were the prices on legitimate, uninflated websites. That’s an awful lot of money spent to see a woman stand in one spot and flail her arms about for two hours while singing songs exactly as they were sung on the albums. Hell, someone could put me on that stage to lip sync her songs for two hours, and I bet the people up in the nosebleeds couldn’t tell the difference.

I’ve always been someone who’s thought that the true sign of musical artistry was reinvention. Take artists like Madonna and Justin Timberlake, who have proven their ability to update their sounds for musical relevancy, while still maintaining their signature styles. Call me strange, but when I hear new music from artists, I expect it to actually sound new. This is something that Adele, despite her undeniable talent, has not yet managed to do. Until I hear a “new” Adele song that I haven’t already heard before, I’ll just be over here in my corner, Disappointed in Adele, Party of One.

Adele

Underrated

The Jinx

SPOILER ALERT: The following post contains spoilers pertaining to the HBO miniseries The Jinx. Although technically, if you were up on your current events, they wouldn’t be spoilers. Maybe you should sort out your priorities. 

“Have you watched Making a Murderer?” This is the question du jour of January 2016.

It seems like literally everyone I have conversed with this month somehow or another gets around to asking me this question. After a discussion of the Netflix series (which I’m sure will be on this list in some capacity come January of 2017), I always follow up with, “Did you watch The Jinx?” I am appalled astounded by how often the answer is “No.”

In case you happen to be ignorant like the vast majority of the people I have this conversation with, let me fill you in. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is an HBO documentary miniseries about accused murderer Robert Durst. The miniseries follows writer/director Andrew Jarecki as he interviews Durst periodically over the course of several years.

If you’re considering blowing off the Jinx as a run of the mill did he/didn’t he true crime story, don’t. There is much about the Jinx that elevates it to a higher level of journalism, and even higher level of entertainment. 

Take, for example, the history of Jarecki’s relationship with Durst. Jarecki was the director of the 2010 film All Good Things, which was inspired by Durst’s story. After seeing the movie and liking it, Durst contacted Jarecki and agreed to be interviewed. Jarecki jumped at the opportunity to get inside the mind of the man who inspired his Hollywood tale, and Jarecki’s passion for the subject matter shows. The Jinx is a superb and artfully crafted blend of news footage, archived interviews, new interviews, and reenactments. The carefully pieced together narrative is so captivating that it’s easy to forget that what you’re watching is true. 

Even if you were to cast the cinematic production value of the Jinx to the side, which you shouldn’t, you’d still be left with an emotionally compelling masterpiece.

While the documentary is technically about the investigations into the 1982 disappearance of Durst’s wife Kathie, the 2000 murder of his friend Susan Berman, and the 2001 murder of his neighbor Morris Black, it’s also about the bizarre relationship between Jarecki and Durst. As the story unfolds, Jarecki struggles to balance a fragile mix of emotions toward Durst. He can’t seem to decide whether to admire, hate, pity, or fear Durst, and what’s more – neither can viewers.

So, even if you were to cast the cinematic production value and the Jarecki/Durst relationship to the side, which you shouldn’t, you’d still be left with a fascinating examination of what constitutes admissible evidence, along with journalistic privilege and its place in the justice system.

“Why?” you might ask. Because not only is the footage captured in the Jinx riveting to watch, it also contained new evidence and an “Oops, is my microphone still on?” confession by Durst. As portrayed on the show, Jarecki and his team struggled with what to reveal to law enforcement and when, so as to maintain the integrity of the evidence. They also had to carefully weigh moral obligation with their desire to maintain their sources’ anonymity. Eventually the evidence uncovered by Jarecki and his team led to Durst’s arrest on a murder warrant. Even better? The arrest took place on March 14th, the premiere night of the Jinx‘s final episode. Seriously, you can’t make this shit up.

Even if you were to cast the cinematic production value, the Jarecki/Durst relationship, and the intriguing lesson on journalism and the justice system to the side, which you shouldn’t, you’d still be left with the overwhelming satisfaction of knowing that what started out as documentary to entertain and educate the masses will wind up playing an undeniable role in serving justice. It’s everything fans of Making a Murderer are looking for, they just forgot to look for it back in 2015.

The Jinx

Over/Underrated 2015 – Part Three

9 Jan

I begin tonight’s over/underrated post with a bit of a heavy heart. Life has intervened, and my bestie Brook will be able to contribute to our blogging tradition much less than both she and I would have liked. I shall do my best to carry on with twice as much snark in her absence, but these posts may be spaced out more this year as a result. All entries from here on out will be written by yours truly, unless noted otherwise.

Overrated

Go Set a Watchman Controversy/Outrage

Author’s Note: This entry assumes that you have background knowledge of the great American novel To Kill a Mockingbird. If you don’t, stop reading this blog, and go back to high school. Seriously.

Harper Lee has always been an anomaly in the literary world. She achieved almost overnight success with her debut novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, won a Pulitzer, and then essentially said, “Peace out, Literary Career.” It’s a path that anyone, in or out of the literary world, would find at very least head-scratching. Nevertheless, over time the world seemed to reach a reluctant acceptance that never again would it see a published work from Lee.

Until 2015, that is.

In February of 2015, it was announced that Go Set a Watchman, a lost manuscript of Lee’s, was going to be published later in the year.

How exactly, you may wonder, does a manuscript from one of the most gifted writers in American history get lost? Watchman began as the original manuscript for To Kill a Mockingbird, set later in the lives of the characters. When Lee was encouraged to rewrite the novel from Scout’s perspective as a child, To Kill a Mockingbird was born, and Go Set a Watchman was all but forgotten.

When it was announced that Watchman had been found in a safe deposit box and would be published in July of 2015, the literary world lost its shit. I’ll admit, I myself was included in this crazed frenzy of people formerly known as intellectuals. This was our chance to get another taste of genius, and boy were we hungry.

As quickly as our appetite appeared to be soon satiated, however, our food was tainted with rumors of scandal. Lee, who suffered a stroke in 2007, had been largely cared for by her older sister Alice, who passed away in November of 2014. Accusations swirled that without Alice to look out for Lee’s best interests, she had been taken advantage of, being forced to publish a novel that she never wanted the public to read. While Lee reportedly stated to her lawyer that she was, “…alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to Watchman,” (more on those “reactions” later) and while Alabama investigators found no evidence of coercion, there are still those who doubt whether or not Lee was mentally sound enough to know what she was signing off on.

Of course, the circumstances surrounding Watchman‘s publication would hardly have been noteworthy had the novel been well received. As it turns out, Watchman was hated by almost everyone who could bear to get through it. Poorly marketed as a “sequel” to To Kill a Mockingbird, fans of the original novel were shocked to find their beloved Atticus, defender of the wrongly accused, purveyor of equality and understanding, now a racist bigot connected to the KKK. You could hear the indignant cries of, “HOW COULD SHE?” from every indie bookstore across the country, to which I say only this: Calm the f*ck down, and do your research.

I did, and what I discovered was this.

First of all, Go Set a Watchman is not a sequel. Yes, it takes place in years following To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes it details the lives of the same characters as To Kill a Mockingbird. But these things does not a sequel make. What it is, is a first draft. A draft which was later revised and molded into the masterpiece we all know and love. I am, nor could I ever hope to be, a writer of the same caliber as Harper Lee. I am, however, a writer, so I feel as though I know a thing or two about the process. If anyone were to judge any piece of my writing, and I do mean any piece, by its original draft, I would be mortified. First drafts are meant to be ugly. First drafts are the result of the brutal and excruciating work of simply getting words out into the universe. Sometimes, it’s a small miracle to get any words on the page, forget about the right ones. Of course a first draft looks different from the final product. It’s supposed to.

If you’re like me, you may think something as naive as, “Why didn’t she edit Go Set a Watchman for continuity before it was published?” Again, do your research (like I did), and note the aforementioned stroke and other health issues that have befallen Lee.

I understand feeling uncomfortable by the glaring contradictions between the characters we admired for their strength and the characters we see presented in Watchman. But, I also took the time to understand why there is such a contradiction in the first place, and am actually quite thankful to have gotten a fascinating inner glimpse at Lee’s creative process. Can’t quite get over it? Again I say, “Calm the f*ck down.”

watchman

Underrated

The Leftovers

SPOILER ALERT: The following entry contains major spoilers about season two of the Leftovers.

The Lost phenomenon is nothing new. Every television season, there’s a show that tries to break out the confines of cop/lawyer/doctor/superhero drama, and every television season that show fails. The issue comes down to plot. All of the shows that tried to measure up to Lost such as FlashForward and Revolution (which made our underrated list in 2012) had plots that, while creative, were simply too self-involved to sustain viewers’ attention beyond a season or two.  

What makes the Leftovers different is that showrunner Damon Lindelof (who also was co-creator and showrunner of Lost – coincidence? I think not.) gave viewers an instantly intriguing premise – one seemingly normal day, 2% of the world’s population simply vanishes into thin air – and then promptly told viewers that the “departure” is not what the show was about.

What makes the Leftovers extraordinary is that it lacks all pretension. Where the other shows in the Lost-ish genre got caught up in big picture story arcs that spiraled out of control in an, “Oh shit, how can we possibly tie all these loose ends back together,” kind of way, the Leftovers is blissfully lacking in self-awareness. The Leftovers isn’t about the bigger picture. The show is not about where the departed went or why they went, nor is it about people remaining on Earth trying to find them. The Leftovers is a story about the people who were left behind, and how their lives have changed in the aftermath.

So why did it take until its second season for the Leftovers to make our underrated list? Season one of the Leftovers was all about the slow satisfaction. It was a show that you didn’t realize how much you were enjoying until it was over. Season two, on the other hand, was the show that you wanted needed to talk about on Monday morning. Despite this, it remains the one HBO show remains off the popular culture radar. A shame, because it means the vast majority of people still don’t realize they were missing one of the best seasons of television to air in 2015. 

Season two of the Leftovers began with a seriously disturbing prehistoric birthing scene, and only got crazier. How crazy? Well, there was an attempted-murderer for a neighbor who sees fit to hand out his own special brand of arson justice as needed, an is-she-real-or-isn’t-she ghost from Kevin’s past that only he can see and talk to, and the disappearance of three local girls on Kevin’s very first night in a new town. Continue on to a woman who puts living birds into boxes and buries them in the woods, a witch doctor who’s willing to kill himself to save Kevin’s soul, and a hotel purgatory where the only way out is to either drown a child in a well or sing karaoke.

Crazy? Damn straight. Entertaining as hell? You betcha. “International Assassin” was one of the greatest hours of television in 2015. I may not have had any idea what was actually going on, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t worried about “what it all meant,” because I was too busy just enjoying the moment. Take note, Imitation Lost. This is what happens when a brilliant idea runs wild, unburdened by heavy-handed writing and attempts to be brilliant. The Leftovers doesn’t try to be brilliant. It just is.

the-leftovers-season-2

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

Over/Underrated 2014 – Part One

1 Jan

Today marks the start of another new year, which means it is once again time for my bestie Brook and I to once again pretend that we are Entertainment Weekly columnists and share with you our humble and snarky opinions on the pop culture goings-on of 2014. This year, we will be bringing you five parts of what was over and underrated this past year, followed by five parts of what was on pointe and what totally missed the mark. So, without further ado…

Overrated

The Media Reaction to Ellen Page Coming Out

–Andrea

On February 14, 2014, actress Ellen Page attended a Human Rights Campaign event and announced to the audience that she was gay. In her speech, Page said, “I’m here today because I am gay,” continuing “and because maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and social responsibility.”

Today’s post requires two disclaimers. Disclaimer #1: I applaud Page’s intentions. To want to help LGBTQ youth by acting as a supportive and relatable role model is an incredibly noble goal.

What is bothersome to me is that Page’s true purpose for speaking at the conference, to help youth, is not what made headlines. Instead, my Twitter feed was instantly flooded with headlines from alleged news outlets about how Ellen Page came out of the closet. Even the Human Rights Campaign itself tweeted, “Congratulations, @EllenPage for taking the steps to live openly and come out as lesbian. #comingout #timetoTHRIVE.”

When I read these headlines, the first thought that came to my mind was, So?

Enter Disclaimer #2: I cannot even begin to imagine the anxiety that goes along with coming out. Coming out to anyone, never mind a public and international audience, is a brave and courageous act.

I would argue, however, that coming out of the closet is not newsworthy. Or, perhaps, it shouldn’t be. Today is the first day of the year two-thousand-and-fifteen. I truly hope that this is the year when, finally, a person’s sexual orientation is not something that needs to be declared. Quite frankly, a person’s sexual orientation is nobody else’s business. It certainly isn’t news.

EP

Underrated

Matt McGorry

–Brook

One fateful weekend two summers ago, I had the immense pleasure of being introduced to Matt McGorry.

Tall. Handsome. Baby faced. Nice teeth. Nice bod.

It’s possible that I was home, sick in bed with a summer cold. And it’s also possible that I was bingeing this new Netflix show.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t technically in person. But still.

For those who don’t know, McGorry co-stars on Orange is the New Black as John Bennett, a correctional officer at Litchfield Prison who adorably (and unwisely stupidly) falls in love with inmate Daya Diaz.

Of course all hell breaks loose as they attempt to hide Daya’s inevitable pregnancy, and McGorry has to walk the line between portraying doting father-to-be and hard-ass correctional officer after some of the other Spanish inmates attempt to blackmail Bennett to ensure their continued silence on his and Daya’s extracurricular activities.

OITNB was my, and I would guess most people’s, first glimpse of McGorry (although, maybe some knew him from his time as a professional body builder — hence the nice bod — I digress). And I fell in love with misguided, peg-legged Bennett almost immediately. So when I heard that he was going to be in a new network TV show in the fall of 2014, I got more excited than Morello planning her dream wedding to Christopher.

McGorry’s portrayal of Asher Millstone on How to Get Away with Murder is so good. He is the epitome of a bro. A collar-popping, fist-pumping, daddy-buys-me-everything bro. And it’s hilarious. With lines like, “It’s not just white people who go to Kennebunkport!”, he’s often the comedic levity when Wes is being intense (read: moronic). He (and I guess Paris, from Gilmore Girls, oh and Frank, too. What? I like his beard.) is the reason I tune in every week. And just before HTGAWM went on its winter break, we finally got to some juicy stuff with Asher and his father.

I’m just spitballing here, but maybe the writing team finally realized what a slam dunk they had with McGorry and decided to develop Asher’s character beyond the good-looking walking trust fund.

With three titles in post-production on his IMDB page, it’s clear that we’ll be seeing a lot more of Matt.

Yeah, we’re on a first name basis.

MMG