Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

My photo
Washington, DC, United States
I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Office (6): My Prayers Were Not Answered.

Well, kind of.

I will admit that I am kind of a hoarder: some times I save up episodes of shows I enjoy so that I can watch them when I am having a really rotten day or need a pick-me-up. That is what I did with the last three episodes of this season of The Office, and even though everyone else saw the finale a week ago, my strategy is totally worth it for me. Today was the right day for some time in Scranton.

Since, no matter what is going on in my life at least I am not facing federal prosecution on charges of fraud. Oh how the lowly have fallen. Despite Ryan’s utter failure as an authority figure, and his newfound drug problem, I didn’t think that he would go so far as to hoodwink investors, but now that I think about it, it does make a lot of sense. Of course he lashed out at Jim for complaining about the web site because that would draw attention to what he was doing. Funny how we think people are just being tard-holes, but really they are engaging in criminal activity. Note to self; observe co-workers more closely.

Not that I want the kind of close observation that Phyllis got. Who knew all it would take for Dwight and Angela to get back together was her accepting a marriage proposal from another man. If Andy was slightly less ridiculous (even though he wouldn’t be nearly as funny) I would kind of feel sorry for him. He thinks that Angela is just completely cold, not that she is cold and still emotionally invested in another guy. She is apparently a bit confused about some of the Christian virtues, for instance fidelity, or honesty. Granted she cheated on a guy who has been carrying an engagement ring in his pocket for six years with a guy that owns a beet farm. Really, in this situation what would Jesus do?

Jim’s engagement ring for Pam stayed in his pocket and now Pam is disappointed. It sucks that Andy co-opted all of Jim’s planning, but it is kind of karmic, since Jim was planning to co-opt Toby’s going away party. Jim’s speech to Michael about how you should get to know someone before you tell him/her that you love him/her showed that Jim has to propose to Pam in the office; it has been the setting of their entire relationship (hopefully not in an Angela/Dwight way). But shouldn’t he propose on the roof of the building where they had their first “date” of grilled cheese? The big gestures don’t really work for Jim, like how he told her he loved her and kissed her, and she still remained engaged to Roy, so he should leave the extravagant public displays to the Andy’s of the world, make her a sandwich and ask her to marry him.

But will Michael ask Jan to marry him now that she is pregnant with some a random dude’s baby? This is what I am saying about my prayers being ignored: pregnant Jan is the Godzilla to Michael’s Tokyo and I simply do not think another human being should be subjected to what will happen to him if he tries to be all baby-daddy. (Minor problem: IVF is expensive, time-consuming, and usually requires someone to give you shots, so how did Michael not notice what she was up to? And if she got pregnant while they were still together why was she getting all drunkedy-drunk at the dinner party they threw?)

Jan’s pregnancy makes me wonder if Holly will be a character next season, or if it was only a guest spot for Amy Ryan. She was great by the way. She managed to treat Kevin “delicately” without making it look offensive or cartoonish. If she stays, I am starting a pool to decide how long it take Kevin to figure out that she thinks he is mentally handicapped.

The TV Girl

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Greek (5.5): If He Seems To Good To Be True…

No “possibly” “maybe” “probably” about it: he (simply) is.

Casey learned this sad lesson with the pre-med boy who kissed like Richard Gere in the preview of First Knight (okay that might be too obscure a reference, but Kathleen should get it). Evan didn’t have to send Calvin to sabotage her male prospects, because the males themselves did all the work.

Speaking of people shooting themselves in the feet, seems to me that Rebecca made a big mistake telling Cappie he would eventually have to choose between her and Casey. More than the fact that anyone with two brain cells to rub together can tell that he would/will pick Casey (wow, if he picks Rebecca I am going to be so embarrassed), this was not a bright move on Rebecca’s part because it makes her look like an immature shrew. Making the demand in the first place puts her in the position of being an undesirable option.

Undesirable could have been the tagline of the episode. Little Rusty has now experienced another first: first STD. What a wonderful display of the male ego; Rusty was convinced that she kept calling because she wanted to have sex with him that badly when really she wanted to tell him he had been exposed to crabs and shouldn’t be having sex with anyone.

The beginning (Cal and Michael, so cute) and ending (Evan, get over Casey!) of romantic relationships aside, here is the big question: is Cappie realizing that he and Evan are more successful as friends than as enemies? They are good enemies. But, Evan used his argument to win over the board and get the restrictions lifted, thereby structuring Cappie’s thought for an audience that doesn’t think like him. Evan needs someone in his life to show him how to be less of a drama queen (and therefore less of a binge-drinker). Like friends should, they (could and used to) compliment each other, helping each other be better versions of themselves. So am I seeing something not there, or is this feud about to be put to rest?

The TV Girl

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How I Met Your Mother (7): No Way!

My title pretty much sums up my feelings about this episode.

Sarah Chalke cannot be the Mother! Can she? I would adore it if she is, but it cannot be a real possibility. Can it?

Before not answering that question, since I am incapable of doing so, I am going to point out something. Maybe everyone else already saw this, and it has been in the back of my mind for a while now, but I find it odd that Ted is so determined to “find the one” and plan his future, and yet he is terrified of commitment. Agreeing to go to a wedding six months in the future causes him to break-up with Stella, so I wonder if Ted has every really asked himself if he is qualified to be a husband.

Well, he thinks he is because he proposed to Stella. It was apparent what was going to happen, but I am still kind of shocked. Even though it is a wonderful way to set up the next season, (and I maybe think that she is going to say yes) I just don’t know how to feel about it.

Also odd that Ted’s snapshots of the people he loves were all painful moments. Arguments and break-up is not how I want to remember my loved ones moments before I die. Minor quibble.

And even though it took being run over by a truck while running to the hospital, Barney has his friends, and his bros, back. This is awesome, no doubt about it.

Oh, yah, and Barney is in love with Robin. This is, of course, the miracle. As endearing as his bright-eye existential optimism is, Marshall's examples were timing and luck.

How I Met Your Mother is changing. Next season will tell us if it is growing or festering. (My money is on growing.)

The TV Girl

Gossip Girl (6.5): Are We Being Punished For Something?

I am officially pissed off at The C.W.

I mean that as a blanket statement for the entire network; I am disgusted with all of you. First Veronica Mars is cancelled, then more obnoxious reality programming is foisted off on viewers (anyone who is actually watching the show I am thinking of should be deeply deeply ashamed), then there was the season finale of Supernatural (but I am preparing a reevaluation of my post, to take into account comments and a few good nights sleep), and then, then after one, maybe two, little kisses Chuck and Blair are apart, again!

Network, what have we the viewers done to you?

I can only hope that at some point in the upcoming season, which we have to wait an entire summer for, we will get to know what took place during the conversation that led Rufus onto the road and Lily to become Mrs. Bart Bass.

But I also hope that she quickly becomes single again. Divorce, widowed, doesn’t matter to me. There needs to be some divine retribution for Bart ruining Chuck and Blair. Chuck admitted that he loves her, to Nate, who forgave him for everything because of said admission. He stood up and gave a toast that, if you knew what was going on, was a public declaration that he was going to make her realize that they belong together, and then he got to tell her that flat out. She was excited, and happy, and hopeful enough to convince Serena, Chuck’s un-fan, that the two of them are a good couple. And then instead of keeping his mouth shut and letting his son mature at his own pace, Bart expounds upon how love and a relationship turn you into a hen-pecked shell of yourself that you will not recognize. It is like the adult version of “there is a bogey-man under your bed” type story that you tell kids to make them behave: terrifying, destructive, and utterly irresponsible. Yes, the rational part of my brain is telling me that if Chuck was so easily deterred then he is not ready to be with Blair. But, my rational brain also assumes that as a successful businessman Bart would be able to properly evaluate his audience, and he should have known better than to say anything.

Also there is the little foursome known as Serena, Dan, Vanessa, and Nate.

Serena and Dan needed to break-up, and not because of the you-lied-so-I-cheated dynamic that was going on. Serena spent a year lying to family and friends about her actions and emotional conditions. Just free from that she was willing to start lying to herself about what Dan did or did not do with Georgina. She tried to go from one fearful state to another. That is not a healthy situation to put yourself in, and her willingness to do so highlighted the fact that she absorbed some of her mother’s neuroses about being alone. Being horrified at the prospect of loosing someone is not the same thing as loving them, and Serena should not be with anyone until she learns the difference.

And Dan needs to learn to not be a prat. “Most understanding person” my left foot.

The wonderfulness of Nate/Vanessa is already over? I get it, they both have prior emotional commitments and unfinished situations. There was so much potential in that relationship. Obviously from where the show started Nate/Serena has to be revisited at some point, so maybe it is better to do it early, so there was no lasting damage for Nate and Vanessa and they can get back together in the future. Vanessa has got to see that Nate is the better option at this point. I wanted to extra smack Dan when he rattled off all the possible reasons Nate and Vanessa parted ways, because he projected all his issues onto her and it was completely unfair. (I apologize to any Dan-fans who read this. In the beginning I like him, but for a while he has been driving me nuts.) It was especially unfair because Vanessa probably needed some understanding after having to endure the bile of Blair. I adore seeing all her scheming turned towards toppling a foe in the name of justice, (calling Georgina’s parents, genius!) but Blair needs to retract the claws when it comes to a girl who can actually look stunning in a bright orange dress shaped like an inverted tulip. Blair should show a little more respect for Vanessa.

Is Jenny still a character?

Well, this is probably one of the most successful season finales I have seen in a while. I mean that, because I need/want Season Two to start as soon as possible in order to sort all this out. This was not a matter of giant cliffhangers and shocking reveals (Gossip Girl saves that for the rest of the season), this was a matter of general wrong-ness that from the seeds of this episode will grow throughout the summer until I cannot take it anymore. At that point I think Season One will come out on DVD. Oh, the brilliant manipulation.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Random Question

Is anyone else as terrified of Living Lohan and Denise Richards: It's Complicated as I am? I know that our civilization is approaching its twilight, and that people like me might be part of the problem. But I am fairly sure it is illegal to sell your children (hint hint Dina) and there is nothing really complicated about being idiotic, the only legitimate reason for marrying Charlie Sheen. If I think about these things too long I will have nightmares.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Supernatural (5): I Feel Cheated.

I need to say something right off the bat, because I can feel rant-mode welling up inside of me: except for the first minute and the last minute, I thought last night’s season finale was a good episode.

“The Road So Far” segment was disjointed and uninformative, almost as if they felt they needed to have it because both previous season finales did. It struck me as half-hearted and without a cohesive purpose.

The real problem was the ending. I am so disappointed and angry about the last minute that I am having trouble expressing myself. This was not a case of simply a generally weak episode; this was a good episode that they ruined! When I said yesterday “I would rather see Dean go to hell” I didn’t actually mean that I wanted to see it, as in experience a visual representation of it. But, okay, maybe this is just my personal preference: I think what we do not see is sometimes as frightening/important as what we do see, and that is a principle this show has previously employed to amazing affect. Be that as it may, can someone please explain to me why of all the possible interpretations of Hell (biblical, literary, cinematic, or newly imagined) this one looked like the opening credits of Spiderman? I am not going to say that anything would have been better than what they did, but I really really want to. There is just a point when concept and production value/capability are irreconcilable, and when that happens people should move on and come up with another idea. Otherwise you end up with what we got last night. The final image we have of Season Three, the one that will stick with us all summer until Season Four starts, was just silly looking.

This bugs me even more because it didn’t have to be this way; there are two obvious ways in which we know that the writers/producers/whomever responsible for this catastrophe know better.

The first is that this show knows so well how to kill off its principle/important characters. John’s death at the beginning of Season Two is rendered so perfectly not by witnessing his eternal torment, but by a coffee cup hitting the ground and seeing the shocked faces of his devastated children. Sam’s death in Part One of the Season Two finale is outstanding, with his brother holding him, his murderer running into the dark, and Bobby standing still not knowing if he should follow Jake or comfort Dean. Dean’s death has been the focal event of this season, and as such needed to be handled properly. There is no excuse for choosing to show (presumably) his soul chained up, floating in green, lightning-filled ether, screaming for Sam. Stupid, stupid decision.

The second way that we know they know better is the rest of the episode. Approaching his death Dean is able to see what the demons really look like behind the humans they possess (which is ridiculously cool, and I hope when he comes back from Hell he can still do this). Did they show us what he could see? NO! And that is the way it should be done. His reactions are more telling than CGI can be. Why recognize and respect the boundaries of what you should and should not show and them completely ignore those at the very last moment? Why?

If you are interested in an example of the way things like this (death and the afterlife) should be done, I suggest you watch the end of Season Two and the beginning of Season Three of Buffy. We never saw Angel in Hell, but the ramifications of his trip there were clear as crystal. Also see the end of Season Five and the beginning of Season Six, in which we did not see where Buffy went. Her friends presumed Hell, turned out she really went to Heaven, and we saw neither. Amazing.

Now I am just sad. Sad that a single minute has so overshadowed some really neat things. Like how funny Bobby is, and what a wonderful surrogate father he is to Sam and Dean. Like how Dean actually came to some self-awareness while facing the end. Like how Lilith doesn’t just possess children, she is actually child-like.

Like how Lilith has no power over Sam!

The TV Girl

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Supernatural (7.5): You Can Make A Hell On Earth.

Tonight is the season finale of Supernatural. I am doing a few things to prepare. First, I am a posting some quick thoughts on the two previous episodes, which I apologize for not getting to sooner. Second, I am writing a note to myself reminding 7:30pm-me to wash off my make-up before tonight’s episode starts so that when I ball my eyes out I will not have mascara running down my face. Obviously, I do not think Dean is going to live.

I would rather see him go Hell than hear for one more second Sam advocating using science to gain immortality, which requires replacing worn body parts with new ones. These two recent episodes “Long Distance Call” and “Time Is On My Side” both addressed the issue of desperation: encountering the mystery of death and the prospect of eternal judgment our good sense disappears, and we behave against our best interest and our better nature. Dean almost killed an innocent man (and that innocent man almost killed Dean) because given a chance to speak to someone we have lost our grief will overcome our sense of right and wrong, or of even basic logic. After the silence of death we will listen to anything, even if it is encouragement to harm others or ourselves, or won’t be helpful to our current situation. Good thing Dean realized what he was doing, and Sam killed the evil thing, before Dean ventured too far into Hamlet-country. Sam’s quiet decent into at-any-cost mode might be even more frightening. How many lives would be exchanged to “give Dean more time” if Sam had gotten his way? Could Sam really have lived with himself if he had bargained with a butcher and asked Dean to be one as well? Sam’s reckless disregard for the implications of his proposal points out just how sad Dean’s prospects are.

But, bye bye Bella! Can’t say I am sorry to see you go, though I am thankful the scene cut to black and I didn’t have to see you getting torn apart by Hell Hounds. (My friend Calah thinks she may not be dead, but I respectfully disagree. If the producers are keeping her around, they better come up with something good to do with her, and not just doing Dean.) I am also thankful that the producers decided not to belabor the fact that Bella was sexually abused. Letting us know that tempers our response to her passing; reminding us both that evil actions rarely emerge from nothing, but also there should be some element of human empathy for others, no matter how repugnant we find them. But murder-as-consequence-of-molestation/rape is a worn out trope on TV (CSI anyone?), so I am glad that since it was employed it was done so quickly. Also, Bella not telling Sam and Dean why she made her deal evidenced the smallest amount of dignity on her part: she was willing to kill them to get out of her deal, but she did not make excuses for herself. Well done.

The little girl in black and white with the red eyes is officially the most disturbing thing ever to appear on this show. Oh yeah, and the ice cream scoop.

And finally, I just have to point out that I love being right: I mentioned the “Lilith has Dean’s contract” thing weeks ago. Maybe I am petty for taking pride in seeing something anyone could, but so be it.

The TV Girl

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How I Met Your Mother (6): The Mystery Is Solved.

So Abbey (Britney Spears) was the woman badmouthing Barney all over town; it is always the one you never considered. Now that Barney has discovered this fact, slept with her again (and again), attempted to make Ted have an epiphany by pretending to be in a couple with her, fake proposing to her, and dumping her by redirecting her obsession towards Ted, I do not think we will be seeing Abbey again. Britney Spears does have the easy confidence of the regular HIMYM cast, but she was not too bad, especially during her bit with Barney. She displayed just the right amount of excessive-enthusiasm to make us believe she wouldn’t notice that the ring Barney gave her was made of candy.

And speaking of delusion, gay approval or not, Ted looked like the biggest tool in those red cowboy boots! There needs to be a new word for what Ted looked like. I kind of wish the patrons of the coffee shop had done more than scoff at his “pulling them off.” I wish they had pelted him with half-full paper cups, or banana-nut muffins. I haven’t seen feet so bright and ridiculous since I watched Sesame Street as a child, 20 years ago.

While personally Lily’s paintings also take me back to my childhood PBS days, I couldn’t be happier that she found an audience for her art. Producing two-dimensional dog pacifiers is much better than having to sell your wardrobe. And Marshall’s determination to support her even when it is not the most practical move makes him all the more endearing.

The TV Girl

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Gossip Girl (7): Serena Deserves Better.

Dan is a moron.

There I said it, but I do not feel any better. I will try again.

Dan is an unbelievable moron.

For someone who spent so much time pining and longing for his dream girl, he turned away from her awfully easily. As she said, Dan put Serena up on a pedestal, so thinking she cheated on him, and knowing she has been keeping secrets, would be a difficult situation for him to process. But hooking up with Georgina is immensely hypocritical for a guy with such high standards. The fact that Georgina has been lying to him since he met her does not excuse him.

But really, Serena could not trust him anyway. She could not tell him what happened when Georgina’s “friend” overdosed and they both ran away. She told the people who own up to their own mistakes. Blair, Nate, and Chuck’s self-deprecating confessions (of already public sins) functioned as a perfect comic balance for Serena’s distraught evasiveness. The best of course was Chuck’s simple “I am Chuck Bass.” This kid cracks me up.

I am impressed by Serena’s “secret,” because when she started telling her story/Lilly started watching the video I expected a repeat of The O.C. Season Two finale when Marissa shot Trey, except that Serena would have been trying to fend off sexual assault. That was of course her reason for suggesting the coke, but in the end what happened was an accident. The distinctive circumstances of this storyline (Georgina’s culpability, Serena calling 911 and trying to save his life, the fact that she did not force anyone to do anything) have helped to different Gossip Girl from its creator’s previous show. That Serena has been suffering from circumstantial guilt rather than being genuinely responsible speeds up the resolution process, meaning that it is okay that her punishment was an exculpating conversation not actually shown.

Lilly’s improved parenting (you know actually listening to her child and helping her through a painful ordeal) completely merited a Rufus reunion reward. And since Dan is a moron, and Serena should not take him back anytime soon, there is no problem with Rufus and Lilly staying together. Yeah, I saw the preview too, and know that she is going to marry Bart (or at least it looks like she will), but a girl can hope, right?

By the way, Dan is a moron.

Oh, and Lisa Loeb. Totally sweet!

The TV Girl

One Tree Hill (4): I Could Have Done Without That.

I haven’t written about this show in a few weeks, but I have been (kind of) watching. That is the wonderful thing about a show where nothing really happens; you do not feel terrible when real life become more important than watching TV. But the brilliant marketing department sucked me in with the trailer for this episode, which showed Lucas/Peyton reunion time.

Instead of that, Peyton got (emotionally) smacked in the face. Over the long road of Lucas/Peyton both have made huge mistakes and done hurtful things, but telling her that he hates her and that returning to Tree Hill ruined his life takes the cake. Lucas has crossed the (angsty) line between understandable grieving for the end of a relationship and wallowing in self-pity. There is no excuse for jeopardizing his job and assaulting a player. Lashing out a Peyton was unnecessary and brutal. Brokenhearted or not, there is such a thing a handling your business with dignity.

But dignity is not what One Tree Hill excels at. The shameless is this show’s forte, a fine example of which is this “Dan needs a new heart” storyline. I kind of have to applaud the producers for going out of their way to point out that the plot is a metaphor. And Dan standing menacingly over the only patient higher on the donor list than himself, implying that Dan might "euthanize" him, had to be the most ludicrous scene in the history of this show. We get it; Dan is evil. We get it; a physical heart transplant is not a personality transplant. We get it; no one running this show has ever heard the phrase “overdone.”

But a possible rival in the ludicrous competition: the Skills/Deb hook-up. Gross. Gross. Milo Ventimiglia / Haden Panettiere gross.

P.S. I totally predict a love-connection between Brooke and the Baby-Surgeon (and that actor is so familiar, but I cannot remember who he is, and it is driving me nuts).

I am looking forward to next week’s season finale, because for me this show is like candy-corn: even though I know it is bad for me I cannot help myself, and eventually I get sick to my stomach.

The TV Girl

Greek (6.5): You Have Got To Be Kidding Me!

Thought it could possibly cause the downfall of the free world, Evan and Frannie are two peas in a rancid pod. These two scheming egomaniacs deserve each other. How dare Evan pay Shane to stay away from Casey! Not that I want Casey anywhere near a guy who would accept money rather than spend time with her (or who once made a living portraying a Power Ranger), so I will be perfectly content to never see Shane again. Nevertheless, I cannot express how much I loathe Evan. It is despicable to go through the world solving your problems by throwing money at them; he dumped Casey and she is obviously better off without him since he is the kind of person that treats money and good judgment as interchangeable. Paying Shane off is especially snake-like because Casey was being nice and kind, not ambitious and compromising like she can be sometimes. Doesn’t Evan realize that by taking advice from Frannie he is acting in a way she would approve of, therefore is acting more like her, and she has not proven herself to be entirely trustworthy. The two of them just need to go off and have rich, evil babies somewhere else and leave Casey alone.

So that when Cappie and Rebecca implode, Casey will be able to be with the right guy. Okay, okay, I should be a bit kinder, since Cappie is bringing out the better side of Rebecca. The better side of her is still bratty. She apologized to Rusty for treating him badly, but she should have apologized specifically for her snipe about Jen K. Since, according to Frannie, Rebecca never had any intention of fulfilling the terms of the bet if she lost (she would have hired a maid service to clean the fraternity bathroom), her desire to win that caused so much misery (Beaver couldn’t even lift his beer, sad) and humiliation (it was cruel to make Rusty schedule her bikini wax) was only motivated by need to beat Casey. I think Casey-based insecurity will eventually get the better of the Cappie/Rebecca relationship, but maybe due to Cappie’s guidance she will be a better, it nor more pleasant, person when it all ends.

Calvin demonstrated that sometimes we are our own worst enemies in relationships. I respect his stance that just because he is gay that homosexuality should not be a necessary element in all of his choices (does being gay require you to go to GLBT film festivals?), but he is more likely to be happy in the long run since he recognized that he was the only one uncomfortable with Michael sending him flowers (and those were nice flowers by the way). I think Calvin's storyline, especially this possible new relationship with Michael, explores respectfully the idea that self-acceptance is more than identifying your sexual preference.

On a tangential matter, again I am confronted with the “Bro Code,” except here it is called the “Guy Code” but I am fairly sure it amounts to the same thing. On How I Met Your Mother, when the Bro Code was violated bro-ness ended, but here when Rusty violated the Guy Code by telling Cappie what a shrew Rebecca was being (I refuse to say “had turned into”), Cappie used the opportunity to overturn the Guy Code. Interesting.

I am a total English major dork, so I kind of squealed in joy when Cappie/Rusty started reciting “Troilus and Cressida,” the Shakespeare play that no one reads. Their plan to teach Rebecca a lesson by throwing the talent portion of the pageant went from necessary to hilarious by virtue of obscurity points. Thank you writers for not being lame and picking one of the plays everyone knows. But how could I not expect the unexpected from (/for) Cappie?

Shout Outs: Little Things To Know That Make Watching Better
To the TV savvy the two guest characters in this episode were known faces. Max Greenfield, formerly of Veronica Mars and Ugly Betty, played Michael and Michael Copon, once a Power Ranger and Felix on One Tree Hill (which I also watched last night), gave an (un)riveting performance as Shane. (I really kind of do not like this dude. He is Melba toast-ish.)

The TV Girl

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Weekend Fling: Greek, Season One (6)

There is a show that no matter what is going on in my life can lift my spirits. I had thought of Psych (which I will be talking about later in the summer when Season Three starts) as an anomaly; that there was no great chance that I would encounter another show that makes me so genuinely inexplicably happy. I became interested in Greek after seeing some snippets while channel surfing and reading some interviews on Watch With Kristin, but I did not expect it to be endorphins on screen. I haven’t smiled this much in a while.

I kind of thought that an ABC Family show about kids in college would be super hokey and too ridiculous to bear. There are defiantly some overly “enthusiastic” elements to Greek. The best way to describe it would be as an hyperbolic tone: the election of “Omega Chi Sweetheart” is discussed as the New Hampshire of the election of Zeta Beta President; the only character with any religious affiliation, Dale (Clark Duke), is a hardcore Southern Baptist who has a purity group and listens to God-rock; every small difficulty is an opportunity for backstabbing. The exaggeration evidences an immaturity on the part of the characters, which is why I call it hyperbole: it would be unrealistic if college age kids did not take everything a bit too seriously and react a bit too extremely. The presumption of Greek is that moral relativism is not only the social standard, but that it is correctly so (“you left black and white back in high school, it is all shades of gray from here on out”; “there are no right or wrong decisions”). While this metaphysical understanding could be vexing, it is a fairly common stage of personal development, the part where in the name of developing you actually remain stationary, and it is definitely in full swing during college. Thankfully, the moralizing is kept to a minimum. It is not like Scrubs, which is just one long diatribe to justify poor choices and selfish behavior. The most irritating part of the show is the pop-culture referent range. ABC more than any other network set is riddled with show cross-pollination, and it drives me nuts. One of the girls quotes Mode magazine, which is the fake fashion magazine on Ugly Betty, the ZBZ girls reinterpret and reenact Grey’s Anatomy scenes, in the Pilot Cappie questions the cancellation of Gilmore Girls, which runs in syndication on ABC Family. It is not just that I find one of these shows more evil than communism, and it is not that I do not believe in cultural awareness. On Greek, as on many other ABC-affiliated shows, the references seem to stand out as forced, making me think there is some kind of bigwig-enforced quota. But I may be criticizing unfairly.

So now your asking yourself if you read my first paragraph wrong. I point out the shortcomings of Greek both in the name of just evaluation, as well as to establish the level of seriousness with which one should approach this show, if one so chooses. This is not groundbreaking TV, but the youthful exuberance of Greek is infectious.

In the Pilot we meet Casey (Spenser Grammer) and Rusty (Jacob Zachar) Cartwright, a Junior and a Freshman respectively, who due to personality differences (she is a social mobile beauty while he is an ultra smart dofus) do not have a close relationship. Casey is the darling of her sorority Zeta Beta Zeta, and her boyfriend Evan (Jake McDorman) is the rich golden boy of Omega Chi Delta. Rusty decides to participate in fraternity rush and accidentally discovers Evan cheating on Casey with Rebecca Logan (Dilshad Vadsaria), the Freshman daughter of a Senator that all the sororities are vying for. Knowing he cannot accept Evan's offer to pledge Omega Chi, Rusty tells Casey, who out of anger sleeps with her ex-boyfriend Cappie (Scott M. Foster), the fun loving president of Kappa Tau Gamma. The ZBZ president Frannie (Tiffany Dupont) convinces Casey it is “best” for her to take Evan back, but Rusty decides it is best to beat up Evan. Cappie offers Rusty a place at Kappa Tau, taking Rusty under his wing. In addition there is Calvin (Paul James), Rusty’s new friend who is pledging Omega Chi and hiding his homosexuality, as well as Ashleigh (Amber Stevens), Casey’s best-friend with a vivacious personality and loyal heart. From the Pilot the stage is set for the staples of the college experience: trying to balance school commitments with social engagement (classes vs. parties), the ebb and flow of relationships when close proximity prevents any kind of analytical distance (hook-ups and break-ups), roommate disagreements, and planning for the future. Since the show is (obviously) structured around the Greek system, the social/relational aspects predominate, but academics are not totally ignored.

As far as I am concerned there is no question that Casey and Cappie belong together. Infidelity issues aside, Evan is a dillweed: self-satisfied, entitled, and smug. The relationship between Casey and Evan is based on mutual appropriateness, rather than genuine affection. (I have already caught up on Season Two, which is currently airing, and no events taking place or information provided in this season change my above statement.) Rusty’s social development is sweet to watch because it is organic: Cappie teaches him to embrace his personality with confidence instead of requiring some kind of unnatural transformation that would violate Rusty's integrity.

I am going to be totally honest and admit that one of the reasons I find this show immensely adorable is that Cappie bears a strong resemblance to my friend Charlie (but thankfully without the voice impressions). I find a personal comfort here that may be too specific to transfer to other viewers.

I am not advocating Greek as a must-see; I do not actually think it would appeal to most of my (known) readers. While I would write about any show I spent the weekend with, I thought maybe you would be interested in what I was doing while my emotional distraction diverted my attention from my customary shows, which I will spend this week catching up on.

The TV Girl

Thursday, May 8, 2008

One More Apology

So, much to my surprise, my paper is not going as smoothly as planned, so all of my very important posting has been delayed. I know if I do not post something soon I will loose all faith you have in me, so I swear on a stack of Entertainment Weekly(s) that I will post this evening. Please bear with me.

The TV Girl

Sunday, May 4, 2008

An Apology

I am so sorry that I have not posted anything new in a couple days. Not that you're interested, but in my defense I have been trying to write a paper on an obscure 20th Century female poet, and let me tell you it is a bitch. Since I have to be done tomorrow, please check back soon for my take on the recent episodes of Supernatural, 30 Rock, The Office, Battlestar Galacitca, and Brothers & Sisters. Super sorry everyone.

The TV Girl

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Riches (8): It Has Turned Into The American Nightmare.

Season finales usually try to hit hard to increase viewer interest in order to encourage networks to renew the series. The cliffhanger is a staple element. I am avoiding using the word cliché, because I think that it can be used very effectively, like on Tuesday’s episode. It is hard for me to accept that after only seven episodes the season is over and now I have to wait some indeterminate amount of time before any new episodes. Structurally, though this season has been short, it makes sense. Season One was about the attempt at a “normal” life and the pitfalls thereof, while Season Two has been the fallout when some accept that “normal” isn’t working and others do not. To prolong this later phase would be repetitive and dull: the fragmentation of focus among the family members and the evil skulking in the shadows could only last so long before the show as a whole lost focus. I want more new episodes, but I am pleased with the choice on the producers’ part to shorten the season.

What we may have lost in quantity was more than made up for in quality.

The three Malloy children are in tiered sequence of interpersonal situations. Sam has either a girlfriend or a stylist, or maybe both. His little smile when he looks at her says more than I ever could about how innocent and precious this relationship is. The young wonder so beautiful contrasts with the painfully decimated landscape of Wayne and Dahlia’s marriage.

Di Di slept with the security guard, loosing her virginity in a bed that belongs to neither of them (I happen to think that is a indication that the relationship will not last, but I may be wrong). Witnessing the animosity between her parents and especially loosing faith in the goodness of her father must make Di Di think that another’s fake house is interchangeable with her own. It is not surprising that she takes refuge with another person who seems not to question her, but also does not seem to be expecting her to play some kind of role. The fact that the security guard is a nice little guy tempers how sad Di Di’s situation is. She has now officially begun to turn away from her traditions by having sex without a blessing, but a huge factor in that choice has to be the disillusionment of seeing her father abandon their traditions as well.

Cael may or may not be aware of just how badly he got played. I think he genuinely cares about Rosaline, but she has to be in on it, has to be. And I think it will kind of crush him when he figures it out (next season). He is caught between his love for his family and his anger at his father; the former is stronger but not sharper than the later. His discomfort at standing by the side of his father’s enemy was evident, but his completely understandable indignation prevents him for seeing any option but to bond with the one who gives him shelter. Furthermore, he has mistakenly acted as if trust is automatically associational: he trust her, she trust Quinn, so he wants to trust Quinn also. While we are more inclined to trust those trusted by those we trust (could I say that word more?) but it is a simplistic way to approach the world. Brilliant ploy on Quinn’s part, by the way, to praise Wayne, the irony of course being that he does see Wayne as a “visionary” of the Travelers.

Too bad Wayne’s vision entirely excludes his family at this point. (Okay, continuity thing. We saw Cael call Dahlia, but not Wayne, from Quinn’s phone. Quinn is able to call Wayne after Cael fell asleep. Therefore Cael had to dial his father’s number, but obviously didn’t speak to him. Interesting.) The cliffhanger, the question, is what will Wayne do now that he knows Quinn has Cael? (And “has” is the word Quinn uses, Cael is a prisoner.) Is Wayne too far gone, too wrapped up in his lies and his ego, to save his son? Is there a point beyond which your ability will frustrate the best of your desires?

Dahlia may turn out to be the more reliable parent, so it could be that the Malloy children are doomed. No, I jest. There is still hope, because at her lowest point Dahlia turned away, turned back to her family. I don’t see much hope for reconciliation with Wayne; that would be a little naïve of me at this point. The problem is that Dahlia has as many problems as her children; in some ways they behave more maturely than she does. Her future depends on if she can take Nina’s advice and face the truth. There is a lot of truth for her to face, what with her husband being a dick, and her parole officer kissing her, and all of her lives falling apart, but if she can and realize that she will have to be caregiver to her children (not vice-versa) then the Mallloy’s might stand a chance.

Nina has my undying respect. I have been to a few funerals in my day and I have always wanted to pitch a big shit-fit and then go get stoned like she did, but I always restrain myself. Portraying the messy, undignified side of grief (not the sympathetic tears and fond memory side) was a realistic element I was not expecting. Everyone admits that death is difficult, few acknowledge that it is ridiculous and makes the bereaved act ridiculously. Plus, she told Wayne that he is an ass who has forgotten the distinction between his wife and Doug’s wife. Lady has some balls, and I love her for it. I cannot imagine how Season Three could actually take place in Eden Falls, but I hope Nina stays a significant character.

And, Dale is alive. Dag nab it.

The TV Girl