Monday, September 6, 2010

No Sex…and a City

Okay, okay. I know you’re all wondering where I’ve been. My tens and tens of fans must be disappointed – verging on heartbroken – forced to find equivalent humor in Bazooka Joe comics and Senate Judiciary Committee hearings (Elena Kagan – smart like Yoda, looks like Shrek? And also Yoda. Discuss.) The Facebook updates have dried up and there’s been nary a posting all summer long. Vacationing in the south of France, you ask? Mais non. Summering on the vineyard with the Obamas? No, again. Frolicking on Fire Island with the boys?

Much as I’d love to regale you with stories of long, lazy days filled with leisurely drinks and maybe a little languorous sex, the truth is I’ve spent most of my summer traveling the country in the service of my job. The good news is there’s much to do --- which is also the bad news, which is probably why that queeny flight attendant who trilled goodbye before sliding down the hatch to safety has become something of a folk anti-hero.

That’s right, there’s so much work I had to trade boys for Boise; instead of making ha-ha, I’ve been going to Omaha; I’ve..oh, brother…I’m out of bad puns and out of practice.

Clearly, television is rotting my brain – which is how I spent whatever down time I had this summer. So, for my first foray back, I’ll catch you up approximately 834 hours of mediocre television you may have missed this summer – hereby allowing you to clean out that DVR just in time for fall.

Let’s use a top ten list, folks. It’s more fun that way.

And now, without further ado (since you waited over a month, and all you’re gonna get is warmed over TV recaps) – Summer 2010’s TV Top Ten list:

10. The Emmys

Ok – technically they haven’t happened yet. Well, as I’m writing this they haven’t happened. But I’m on a plane and won’t be able to post this for two weeks because we’re going on a cruise – yes, the same cruise we did last year which started this whole blog – which I managed to keep up with until a month and half ago when it all fell apart – and, yes, I will be blogging the cruise – every bad tour guide and great meal from Greece to Israel to Italy to Spain (we’re taking a cruise of countries that are bankrupt; either financially or morally.) So – Yes – by the time I post this it will be after Labor Day and the Emmys will not only have happened, they’ll be forgotten. But – whatever.

Can we just – for a minute – talk about Glee vs Modern Family? Yes, Modern Family is going to win. It’s a relatively pedestrian family sitcom of the type Hollywood used to churn out by the dozen every fall. Except they stopped churning somewhere around 1994 and the supply dried up – having given way to stern, emotionally barren male law enforcement or military officers or lawyers paired with tough-as-nails women barely concealing scars-from-the-past as they use the latest in cutting edge technology or good-old-fashioned shoe leather or the military industrial complex to deliver justice or avenge a death or find some lost kid in New York-Los-Angeles-Las-Vegas-Miami-wherever. (I should like these shows more – they’re basically some totally fierce chick I’d go shopping with and some totally hot guy I’d hook up with hanging out in a city I’d totally live in and working at the kind of job I spent 20 years training for, rather than selling expensive software to broke schools.

But I digress.

Don’t get me wrong – I like Modern Family. I think it’s clever and funny and the performances are terrific. But the hullabaloo surrounding it strikes me as grading on a curve, a little. It’s just been so long since we had a crop of family comedies that were worth watching that we forgot how much fun they could be. (And I still think the show is giving itself too much credit simply for having a gay couple with an Asian kid.)

Meanwhile, Glee – though occasionally dampened by warmed-over plotlines retread from Soap Opera 101 (Quinn got pregnant at 16; Mr. Schuester’s wife faked her pregnancy) – is truly original; breathing life into musicals, a genre that has been lingering on life support for nearly 50 years in movies, and has never been successful in television. But the fact that’s it made music work on TV isn’t the only reason to root for it. Consider this: Glee manages to have fun while embraces it’s characters – and their flaws – even if it rationalizes them; Modern Family (and virtually every other comedy on television, mines its humor at the expense of its characters.

9. Weeds

She’s back. The doyenne of disaster. The mistress of misfortune. Fresh from having watched her middle child murder her drug-kingpin-gubernatorial-candidate husband’s campaign manager (who was a castrating bitch), Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) is on the run – on the road with her kids and her brother in a tale that’s seen her survive the financial ruin of her first husband’s death, run a drug cartel, marry – and play a role in the murder of – a DEA agent, torch her home, and tangle with the Mexican mafia.

8. Big Brother

I can’t help it…I get sucked in every year. I can’t figure out if it’s the dumb straight muscle boys who spend the whole time working out, the girls with a 38 bustline and a 37 IQ, the bitchy outcasts, or just the backstabbing – I can’t take my eyes of the stupid challenges, the showmances, and the soporific pleasures of Julie Chen (never has live television been less riveting, or – oddly – more).

This year, I’m rooting for Britney. Any bitchy blond chick from Arkansas whose entire personalilty is one big sarcastic eye-roll is my kind of girl

7. Project Runway.

One day, you’re in, and the next…you’re out. Heidi Klum, that dominatrix of design, is back (and so is her figure. Thank God she had that Baby Seal.) Duking it out for $100,000 (and a title that hasn’t produced a single designer anyone’s ever actually bought clothing from) are the usual parade of freaky gays, nelly gays, one cute guy, one straight guy, the token lesbian, the bitchy girl who is probably going to win and the nice girl who probably won’t.

Tune in to watch Michael Kors continue offering a stream of try-hard quips (“She looks like a Jewish transvestite serving pancakes at an Amish funeral. Am I right?”) or the deadpan criticism of Nina Garcia (“She. Looks. Strange.”) And you never know which superstar with flimsy fashion cred (Natalie Portman? Sheryl Crow? LeBron James?) is going to stop by to add nothing to the conversation.

6. The Next Food Network Star

Ok – it’s already over, so there’s no suspense here – but this oft-overlooked step-sibling to Top Chef gets better each season. With challenges that actually challenge the contestants both to cook and remain calm under pressure, the show nails the reality of having to perform an actual task on live television. There wasn’t really much suspense that Aarti and her south Asian Aarti Party was going to take it all – it became pretty obvious about halfway through – but there’s no better way to wind up a weekend than to watch newbies fumbles in front of the camera to the withering glare of Susie Ferguson or the firm adjustments of Giada De Laurentiis (you can skip Bobby Flay and his smug self-righteousness and Bob Tuschmann and his uncle-y kindness. This show is all about the women.)

5. Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List

Yes, the show has clearly lapsed into a little self-parody as Kathy gets a pap smear on camera. But if you can keep your lunch down through an entire episode about her vajayjay, you’ll realize she’s the most fearless comedienne working right now – willing to say anything, do anything and go anywhere for a laugh. It’s brave work – and between her and Chelsea Handler – the spectrum of live comedy is pretty dry and almost entirely dominated by X chromosomes. And don’t say Dane Cook. ‘Cause he’s over.

And he’s a dick.

4. Mad Men

Yeah, I jumped on that bandwagon, too.

3. Top Chef

Can I just say how much I love this show? With each passing season I like it more and more…maybe it’s because Padma keeps sharpening her edge (“Too much salt?” says, Kelly from Colorado. “Uh, yeah,” says Padma, in a tone that read: “Duh.”) No longer with child, but full, fleshy and gorgeous – week after week she’s showing up that joyless Kelly Choi (she of the half-smile). And Gail Morris is back – with the analysis that says, “I liked it, but it was just a little closer to medium than medium rare, so I’m going to stab you with my shrimp fork.” Would it be a surprise to say that I can’t wait for her to host the new “Top Chef: Just Desserts?”

What is it with these food shows – once again it’s all about the lady judges, since Tom Colicchio seems to have lost his edge (perhaps it’s back at his no-stars Colicchio & Sons on Tenth Avenue, occupying the vast cavern of doom that once was craftsteak – a concept that was built for Vegas, if ever there was one, and where it thrives – go figure.) Meanwhile, there’s nothing wrong with Eric Ripert as a judge. But he’s so nice. I want to see my contestants cry when they use marjoram instead of oregano or overcook the sea bass.

2. Pretty Little Liars

If you were waiting for any confirmation that I am a fourteen year-old girl – here it is. My FAVORITE new show of the year – by a mile. Five girlfriends spend the night together in Rosewood, Pa. Ali – who knew everyone’s secrets and was the glue holding them together – disappears. Fast forward a year later and the girls have drifted apart, but they renew their friendships when they start receiving mysterious text messages from “A.”

Who is “A”? And how does he or she know that Em is kissing Mya, when she once kissed Ali? Or that Aria and her family went to Iceland for a year because her dad was hooking up with a student and Aria knew – but her mom didn’t? Or that Spencer steals her sister’s boyfriends? Or that Hanna used to be fat (this is a crappy story line, which is probably why they hit her with a car in the mid-season finale.)

This show answers the important questions, like:

Whatever happened to Holly Marie Combs after Charmed? (She got fat – and less funny. And isn’t a witch.)

Why does Chad Lowe not work nearly as often as his brother? (He only has one facial expression. Wide-eyed melancholy)

Can you show lesbian kissing on ABC Family – at the 8pm hour? (Yes, indeed.)


Will Eric fall in love with any show featuring Laura Leighton? (Yes, indeed.)

I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this show, to our time and to our culture. The economy may be in tatters, the environment falling apart, and our political culture poisoned and paralyzed by partisanship and paranoia – but you can see four hot teenagers in cute outfits try and figure out if they girl they blinded is sending them threatening texts every Tuesday at 8. (Pretty Little Liars returns in January. I’m serving popcorn.)

1. The Real Housewives.

This show is not first because it is good. This show is bad. Very bad. It says the most awful things about our culture, and I’m actually ready to begin a campaign to get it off the air.

If early summer brought the Real Housewives of New York, mid-summer brought us New Jersey. And late summer is bringing us the all-new Real Housewives of D.C. – complete with the anorexic chick who crashed the White House state dinner.

This show is horrible. It’s mean to women and insulting to the intelligence of adults. And children. And domesticated animals.

Once a cotton candy confection of a show about sort of ditsy women who spent too much money and occasionally argued across southern California or Manhattan, the show now actively seeks out women who hate each other and goads them into prolonged catfights. Every “scene” is either an argument, or a conversation about the argument, or a rehashing of the argument. There is no longer anything authentic – or even authentically artificial – about the show. Find four or five women, figure out how to make two of them hate each other, then spend every moment of air time picking at the scab.

Most of these women aren’t even housewives anymore. The husbands of the few who are still married no longer want anything to do with the show, and many of the women are now separated or divorced. Which doesn’t make them housewives. What it makes them, apparently, is singers. Kim from Atlanta, the Countess from New York, now Danielle Staub from New Jersey.

When did cutting a demo replace making purses as the back-up plan for single middle aged women?

It’s become a perfect formula – find a bunch of women who aren’t getting laid, and throw in a bunch of cameras, some liquor, and a fight. Insert name of location. That’s why I call it…

No Sex. And a city.

No comments:

Post a Comment