Cobra Kai

The other week on Facebook I said something to the effect that I hate how Hollywood is just continuously eating its own tail at this point and doing what seems like nothing but  prequels, sequels and reboots. Obviously they keep doing it because the market is there, so I hate myself a little every time I contribute to their reasoning. Despite saying that there was no way I was not going to watch Cobra Kai, the sequel to the Karate Kid movies created by YouTube Red.

I feel like most people I know talk about what movies they watch over and over again Shawshank Redemption is always on the list. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that movie exactly once. The movies I’ve seen a billion times are not nearly as high brow. My most watched movies list consists of Overboard, When Harry Met Sally, Can’t Buy Me Love, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and of course The Karate Kid. So YouTube Red wins. They hit right on my nostalgia button to make me finally set up an account with them. At least I got to watch it all via a free trial.

The series picks up in the present day following the characters of Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso and where they are now 35 years later. In some respects they have switched places from where they were in the movie. Daniel is now the well-to-do one who owns luxury car dealerships and is married with two kids. Johnny is down on his luck going from one menial job to the next, divorced, and a dead beat dad. Despite their different circumstances both of them are still stuck in the past in various ways.

Johnny decides to open up a Cobra Kai karate dojo, but instead of the cool kids that were part of Cobra Kai when he was a teenager his students are now the losers of the school. Meanwhile Daniel unbeknownst to him begins mentoring and teaching karate to Johnny’s estranged son. Neither one of them has let go of what they think the other one did to the other back in high school and are using their respective proteges to fight their own drama.

I did not have high hopes for Cobra Kai actually being any good, but it surprised me a little. Granted it’s still relying at least 60% if not more off of your nostalgia for the original movie. I’ll be interested to see how I feel about it during its second season when they don’t have all the callbacks to rely on because they’ve already used them all.

It’s certainly not high art, but I enjoyed watching it. I will not lie. Most of my favorite moments were tied to callbacks to the original movie. I definitely cheered a little for every one. But the show is not solely relying on those. They’ve actually done a decent job of developing the characters. I especially loved Daniel’s wife who called him out every time he started acting like a high school idiot again. She had my favorite line of the whole first season in the final episode. There is also a lot more nuance in looking at who is actually right and who is wrong as opposed to the very clearcut good vs. evil in the movie.

I will definitely keep watching when it comes back for another season. If you don’t have a strong attachment to the original Karate Kid movie I’m not sure I would bother watching this, but if you loved it like I did I would say it’s worth 6 hours of your time.

My Most Memorable Pop Culture of 2017

Once again it’s time for my post on what was the most memorable pop culture of the year to me. It’s pop culture I consumed in 2017, not necessarily things that were exclusively released in 2017. And once again I point out that this is the stuff that made the greatest impact on me. It’s not a list of the top anything. Even I acknowledge that there are things on this list that I would not put in a top 10 or even top 20 list. They’re not necessarily the best of anything, just the stuff that I enjoyed the most or which had some special meaning to me.

Movie I Saw in a Theatre

I saw quite a few movies in the theater this year, probably more than I have in a good long while and I enjoyed a great many of them. There were some really great comic book hero movies (Wonder Woman, Spiderman: Homecoming, and Thor: Ragnorak) that seemed to bring something different to the table and kept me entertained without being so smashy smashy, which bores me to tears. I also saw a lot of great smaller movies as well including I am Not Your Negro, Lady Bird, and Call Me By Your Name. I very much want to give this category to The Big Sick, which I actually saw twice in the theater, which is something I haven’t done in at least a decade, probably two. I miss rom-coms and this movie was so sweet and funny. I hope it’s a harbinger of more movies like it. If it weren’t for a little documentary called STEP, The Big Sick would have taken this one.

STEP made me feel all the feelings. At a time when Baltimore feels like it is literally falling apart this movie, which follows a group of girls on a Step team at a Baltimore high school, showed what is good and bad about this city. There was so much joy and so much pain. Kids struggling to overcome hardships that no kids should have to deal with in order to help create better lives for themselves. It’s heartbreaking, delightful, and triumphant all at the same time. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it.

Movie I Watched at Home

Every year I threaten to get rid of this category because we so rarely watch movies at home. The only movies I can really remember watching are Mudbound, which I didn’t like and Get Out, so Get Out wins. I heard so many people raving about this movie before I saw it that there was no way it was going to be able to live up to my expectations. I did think the premise of it was very clever, but I’m not much of a horror person. I tend to find horror movies silly and boring, and those parts of it felt, well, silly and boring.

Fiction Book

My favorite fiction book of the year was hands down Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied Sing. As usual Ward creates a detailed world in rural Mississippi that draws you in and makes you feel like you are there. The book deals with important themes like race, death, and family but it always feels real (even when delving into the spirit world). It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking book that continues to bolster Ward as one of the great authors of our time.

Non-Fiction Book

Like with my fiction book, there was no contest this year that my non-fiction book choice would be The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. This is the first and only item on the list this year that was not actually released during 2017. However, there could not have been a more perfect book for this  year. I picked it up because it was the first book club selection for the Make Me Smart podcast (see below). Haidt uses moral psychology to discuss people’s views on politics and religion. If anything it made me feel even more hopeless about the current state of our country, but at least it did help shift my perspective to help see where others may be coming from even if I vehemently disagree with them. I guess that’s something. Aside from that I just found it a really fascinating book. As someone with multiple degrees in psychology this book fell perfectly in my sweet spot.

TV Show

Everyone is calling right now the golden age of television where there is so much excellent tv to watch you can’t even keep up. To some degree that’s true if you are into all the prestige television shows. I do enjoy a good number of them, but in some cases I’m getting tired of them. I don’t need all the television I watch to be capital I important. Sometimes I just want to have something that makes me want to invest in characters lives. I want a good family drama or a good teen or even adult drama with some love triangles or a decent will they or won’t they thing. They don’t seem to make those any more. I have tried and tried to like This is Us, but I just don’t even though I’m still watching it because it’s the only thing remotely resembling a family drama on television now. The CW, which used to be the go to for that kind of show has turned into all comic book hero shows all of which I have given up on (Supergirl excepted) as their plots have become convoluted and the character arcs that were driving the stories in their early years have fallen by the wayside. I feel like I’ve even watched my way through every television show that I missed the first time around so there aren’t even any older shows for me to go back to and fill the void at this point.

All that being said the way I choose my favorite show of the year is by thinking of the one I can’t wait to watch when an episode shows up on my DVR or if I’m binging it on a streaming service that all I want to do is stay at home and watch the show. This year the show that came closest to fitting that description was The Bold Type. I will refer you to the full review I wrote about it earlier this year. Happily it did get picked up for another season, though with a new show runner so hopefully it doesn’t change too much. I also want to give an honorable mention to the One Day at a Time reboot on Netflix, which was a sweet, smart, and funny sit-com that brightened my days considerably in the immediate fall out of garbage president taking office. I’m very much looking forward to its second season dropping in January.

TV Episode

Until I looked back at my picks for 2016 in preparation for writing this post I had forgotten that my favorite tv episode from last year was from Halt and Catch Fire, which is appropriate I guess because that show also features my favorite television episode from 2017. As I said last year I am so happy that I gave this show another try or I would have missed out on how wonderful it got. Thank you to every television critic who told me to give it a second chance. My favorite episode this year was Season 4, Episode 8 – “Goodwill”, which I don’t want to say too much about because it does give away a major plot point. It just treats its characters so lovingly and true to who they are. It also uses the Dire Straits’ song “So Far Away” so perfectly that I have a whole new perspective on it. I adore what this show became and I definitely always chose it first to watch when it showed up on my DVR. It’s the loss of another character driven show that I will miss immensely.

Album

No one who has been here long should be at all surprised that my favorite album of the year was Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s The Nashville Sound. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this album when he first announced it. Southeastern and Something More than Free, which were my favorite albums of 2013 and 2015 were both him solo and had a much more folky sound for the most part. When he brought back his band for the whole album this time I was afraid I might not like the rock sound nearly as much. I needn’t have worried one little bit. He’s still an amazing songwriter whose lyrics drill right down into my soul. With songs like “Hope the High Road”, “White Man’s World”, “The Last of My Kind”, “Cumberland Gap”, and “Anxiety” this album was perfectly written for 2017.

Song

There should also be no surprise that my favorite song of 2017 came from my favorite album of 2017. “If We Were Vampires” is the song that everyone talked about off of this album, and rightly so. It is by far the lyrically and creatively superior song from the album, but “Hope the High Road” was my mantra for 2017. If you only knew how many times I sang the lyrics of this song to myself every time something new and terrible happened over the past year. So basically hourly.

“We’ll ride the ship down
Dumping buckets overboard
There can’t be more of them than us
There can’t be more”

Concert

For Christmas last year my husband gifted me with a trip to Nashville to see Dawes play at the Ryman Auditorium. Because I am who I am I have a concert venue bucket list and the Ryman was second on it right behind Red Rocks. I also got to check The Grand Ole Opry off my list on that trip, but seeing Dawes, a band I adore, play in that amazing venue was the highlight of my concert year. For as many concerts as I see every year I just figured out this year that when a concert is listed as “An Evening with …” it means that there is no opening act. This was An Evening with Dawes at the Ryman Auditorium and they played for a good three hours. It was wonderful and everything I hoped it would be.

I also have to say a word about the final Tom Petty concert I will ever see. Tom Petty has meant so much to me over the course of my life. He’s really the first artist whose passing has really felt like the gut punch to me that see other people have for celebrity deaths. I am so happy I got to see him perform one final time in a sing-a-long love fest that seemed like the perfect ending to a 40 year career.

Broadway Theatre Production

I saw a good number of wonderful things on Broadway this year, but my favorite was definitely Come From Away, which is the best thing I’ve seen since Hamilton. Based on the true story of a small town in Newfoundland that took in 6000 displaced airline passengers after 9/11, it mad me laugh, it made me cry, it made me smile with pure joy.

Baltimore Theatre Production

I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to put in this category this year. The Center Stage season was short due to renovations on the theatre, and I wasn’t overly excited about a lot of the things I saw during the parts of the Hippodrome seasons that fell in 2017. It was nothing new and certainly not the best production of Rent I have ever seen by far, especially given that I saw most of the original Broadway cast perform in London, but I’m going with the 20th anniversary tour of Rent because it is still one of my all time favorite shows. Every word is still burned into my brain, and it was fun to revisit it after a good long time away.

Podcast

I have an overabundance of podcasts that I listen to, so I always have a backlog of episodes. Like with television shows I choose my selection for my favorite podcast by thinking about what podcasts I listen to as soon as they drop and which ones I let episodes build up on until I have nothing else to listen to. This year a number of my previous favorite podcasts like Pop Culture Happy Hour, Invisibilia, and Out of the Blocks have made changes in their formats that I am not a fan of and has made me like them less and/or not even listen to everything they drop. However, a new podcast for 2017 topped my list. Make Me Smart with Kai Ryssdal and Molly Wood of Marketplace was by far the podcast I looked forward to listening to the most this year. He’s an economy reporter and she’s a tech reporter so they talk a lot about those topics, but that’s not all they cover. The tagline for the show is “none of us is as smart as all of us”, so they always have guests that they interview about various topics as well as always include feedback from listeners in the form of voice memos that are sent in. When the podcast started out they talked about politics a lot, especially in a segment that often started the show called the news fix. As the podcast went on they got away from doing the news fix, which I do miss sometimes. I don’t know if they’ll bring it back at all in the future now that they’re done with the long series they did on moral capitalism, but that was really great too. They also do book club episodes where listeners vote on a book to read and then they devote an episode to discussing it. My favorite non-fiction book for the year came out of that. It’s also fun to listen to people answer what they call the “Make Me Smart question”, which is what is something you once thought you knew, but then found out you were wrong about? They have a really great rapport and they always make me laugh even while I’m learning a lot. I’m super sad that they’re abandoning me until mid-March when season 2 of the podcast starts up.

Podcast Episode

My favorite episode from a podcast I listened to this year is actually a three part series from NPR’s Code Switch and Education Week called Raising Kings: A Year of Love and Struggle at Ron Brown College Prep. Education Week reporters followed students, parents, teachers, counselors, and other staff at Ron Brown College Prepatory school, a newly opened high school specifically aimed at black boys in Washington, D.C. and staffed almost exclusively by African-American men. It’s a wonderful series full of so much to think on in terms of education, race, and inequality and how even people with the best of intentions can disagree about how to address the systemic issues facing these many of the kids attending this school.

What I’ve Been Watching: Summer 2017 Edition

Even though summer is no longer a vast television wasteland, it still is a lot slower than the rest of the year. So it always gives me a chance to check out some new shows and catch up on ones I might have missed the first go around. I did watch a bunch of returning shows which I have written about before and won’t be writing about here because that would be too much. I’ll just leave it at the fact that I watched Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, Queen Sugar, Playing House, Younger, Last Chance U, and Insecure and pretty much enjoyed them all. The one nice thing about summer TV is you get some of the stuff that is non-prestige drama, which is a nice break. That statement pretty much applies to all the shows I’ll be talking about as well. I probably watched some other stuff that I’m not remembering right now, but here are the shows that stuck out to me.

The Bold Type

The Bold Type was probably one of my favorite things I watched this summer. I’m a little worried that Freeform hasn’t renewed it for a second season yet because I really want more of this show. The show revolves around three twentysomething women, Jane, Kate, and Sutton, working in various capacities at a fashion magazine called Scarlett. Their boss is played by Melora Hardin. One of my favorite things about the show is that it doesn’t play into all the tropes about this environment that have become so common in tv, movies, and books especially since the Devil Wears Prada. Jacqueline is actually a really nice boss and serves as a great mentor to these young women instead of beating them down and making them terrified of her. Other stories like Sutton dating one of the board members against company policy is written in a way that doesn’t seem cliched like it could have been. It’s not a perfect show. There’s some of the top ridiculousness in it. I’m not going to lie. But overall it was smart, fun and had great relationships between the characters, which is basically all I’m looking for in a tv show. If you didn’t watch it, which I’m guessing most of you didn’t, I think Freeform has it on demand so I highly recommend going to watch it. And hey maybe if enough people do Freeform will decide it’s worth giving another season to. I really hope so.

Atypical

Atypical was probably tied with The Bold Type for my favorite show of the summer. It’s a Netflix show starting Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rappaport as the parents of a highly functioning autistic teenage boy and his teenage sister. Like the show Speechless it’s a heartfelt family comedy that is about a family affected by a member that has a disability, but is really about the dynamics of the family and how they are affected by the disability. It’s funny, sweet, and very well written.

Carmichael Show

The Carmichael Show just finished it’s third and final season on NBC. I’ve been catching up on it on Hulu. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m enjoying it. It’s not a great show for binge watching, so it’s taking me a little bit of time to get through. Each episode looks at addresses an important topic but in a comedic way. It’s very smartly written so that the conversations between the characters about whatever that weeks topic is feel organic and very much how each character would react. It’s written in a way that doesn’t feel heavy handed. It’s probably the most situation of situation comedies that I’ve watched in a very long time in that the stories really revolve around the situation of the week and there aren’t any overarching plots or character arcs underpinning the humor. You just have Jerrod, his live-in girlfriend Maxine, Jerrod’s brother, his ex-wife, and their parents sitting around talking about things.

Superstore

Superstore just finished its second season on NBC and will be returning for a third in the fall. We caught up on the first two seasons over the summer. I had heard that it was a good show and we had run out of things to watch, so I suggested it. It’s a workplace comedy set in a Wal-mart like store called Cloud 9. It’s funny, and the characters have been developed well. It’s nice that it has a really diverse cast where those things are not actually part of the show. The people just are. There’s a character in a wheel chair and I’m not sure there has been a single instance where anyone has ever referred to the fact that he’s in a wheel chair. It’s a sit-com and it’s a little ridiculous sometimes, which my literal brain can’t handle. I often find myself commenting on how unrealistic things are as if there is any attempt at making them realistic happening. Some of my favorite parts of the show though are quick interstitial bits where you see customers of the store doing ridiculous things and where you hear bits of music playing. I love the music parts because whoever is doing the soundtrack work on this show is spot on. It’s totally the kind of music you would hear playing in a store like Cloud 9. I often comment on my love of the grocery store/drug store soundtrack in real life. Their tv version of it is perfect.

GLOW

I’m not sure I was over the top in love with GLOW the way that a lot of people were, but I did enjoy this Netflix series about the creation of the Lovely Ladies of Wrestling tv show. I think they did really good job of capturing the 80s in a way that seemed more real than your stereotypical 80s movie or tv show. They pulled some 80s songs I haven’t heard in awhile going beyond the sort of stock 80s soundtrack that exists. The outfits were also spot on. I’m pretty sure I owned one of those leotards for gymnastics, and my mother totally had the same perm/haircut that Alison Brie did.

My Most Memorable Pop Culture of 2016

Once again it’s time for my post on what was the most memorable pop culture of the year to me. It’s pop culture I consumed in 2016, not necessarily things that were exclusively released in 2016. And once again I point out that this is the stuff that made the greatest impact on me. It’s not a list of the top anything. Even I acknowledge that there are things on this list that I would not put in a top 10 or even top 20 list. They’re not necessarily the best of anything, just the stuff that I enjoyed the most or which had some special meaning to me.

Movie I Saw in a Theatre

I’m pretty sure I saw more movies in the theatre in 2016 than I have in a long time. I’ve seen 4 movies since Thanksgiving alone, which is very unusual for my life these days. I enjoyed most of the movies I saw, but I’m giving this category to La La Land. It was the one movie I saw this year that I almost immediately wanted to see again. It wasn’t a perfect movie. It didn’t quite live up to its promise as a movie musical. It started out with a bunch of musical numbers and then almost completely dropped them until the end. It was a little uneven, but I still loved it. It’s a beautiful to look at, and I really could just watch Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling interact forever. Their relationship seemed so real. At the time I saw it I was a little disappointed that they didn’t end up together even though realistically that’s what should have happened. Usually I would have enjoyed that ending, but wasn’t in the mood for at the time. In retrospect though I can appreciate it, and whatever my feelings about it were they did not detract from my love of the movie as a whole.

Movie I Watched at Home

Last year I said I should probably retire this category because I don’t watch that many movies at home, and I had a hard time thinking of any. I’m still singing that tune this year, but I’m apparently not quite yet ready to let it go because it’s still here. In doing a review I discovered I actually watched a lot more movies at home than I thought, but I literally had to go back and look because I couldn’t remember any of them. Once I did though the obvious choice was Sing Street. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a sweet little film that takes place in 1980’s Dublin about a teenage boy who starts a band to impress a girl. The songs in it were all written for the movie, but definitely evoke the sounds of 80s music. It’s a delightful little film.

 

Fiction Book

Alas my great streak with books I loved last year did not continue into this year. I did manage to meet my reading goal of 100 books for the year, but there were very few I rated above 3 stars on Goodreads. This category like several other ones exemplified how out of sync I was with pop culture this year. Almost every best of book list I saw had Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad as it’s top pick. I did not care for that book. The fiction book I most enjoyed did show up on most lists as well, so I guess I wasn’t completely off. It was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Essentially its a series of connected short stories, which makes it unusual that I would like it that much since I generally don’t care for short stories. The thread that connects them though is following two lines of a family through two sisters on the Gold Coast of Africa, one who is sold into slavery and the other who becomes a slave traders wife from their lives in the 1600s up through present day. Each story is essentially a new generation. It was a wonderful and heartbreaking book that really demonstrates how the sins of the past continue to haunt the present even hundreds of years later.

Non-Fiction Book

I had much better luck with non-fiction books this year than fiction ones. Most of the books I rated over 3 stars on Goodreads were non-fiction. My favorite non-fiction book of the year was another book that was not very uplifting, but was extremely interesting. Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond explores poverty and housing through the lens of the city of Milwaukee. Desmond explores the intricacies of housing and the tenant/landlord relationship especially when dealing with people living in poverty. Many books like this seem to take sides, but Desmond does a really good job in following a couple of landlords and their tenants at showing how complicated the relationship and that there are failings on both sides.

TV Show

With as much good scripted television as there is these days I feel like I’m going a little off book in declaring my favorite tv show of the year as Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. It was the biggest surprise to me because I was never the hugest fan of Samantha Bee when she was a Daily Show correspondent, especially towards the end of Jon Stewart’s run when she really seemed to be going off the rails a little bit. I didn’t even plan on watching Full Frontal because I figured it was just going to be more of the same stuff I wasn’t enjoying on The Daily Show, but my husband insisted that we at least try it out and I’m very glad he did. Full Frontal is really smart, and I appreciate having a woman’s voice in the late night world, especially one who will focus on woman’s issues in a way that no one else is. I’m definitely going to need Sam Bee’s outrage to help keep me sane as we move into the horrors of whatever this Trump presidency is about to bring us.

 

TV Episode

I stopped watching Halt and Catch Fire a few episodes into its first season, but decided to get caught up this summer after hearing so many people talk about how much better the second season was. So in a way it’s a little surprising to me that my favorite episode of the year was from the third season of this show. Season 3, Episode 7 – The Threshold is a great hour of television. Donna and Cameron’s relationship and their building of Mutiny together was the heart of season 2 and what turned this show into something worth watching. Watching it fall apart in this episode was sad but wonderfully acted and excellent to watch.

Album

Music is where my tastes really did not converge with critics or other music listeners as my favorite songs and albums really didn’t show up on any best of 2016 lists. My favorite album of the year was Joseph’s I’m Alone, No You’re Not. Joseph is a group of three sisters who have wonderful harmonies but some of their songs also have a great pop sensibility. I love this whole album, and I hope to be able to see them play more of the album live in 2017.

 

 

Song

I suspect the song I’m putting in this category has a bit of recency bias. I suspect that if I first fell in love with this song say back in March instead of November that I’d probably be sick of it and wouldn’t be including it here, but Wrabel’s 11 Blocks was the song that I loved to sing along to in the car more than any other song this year and the one I always hoped I would hear on the radio when I was driving which is what it earns it this spot. Realistically my choice here should have been Joseph’s SOS (Overboard), which I love and is probably the song I listened to most this year.

 

Concert

Every year my real favorite concert experience is going to the Newport Folk Festival. This year that was no exception. I was already beat down my 2016 at the end of July and that weekend was such a balm for my soul, but I always like to pick another show from the year for this category since Newport being a festival isn’t really a single concert. This year my favorite concert was Garth Brooks. I never got to see him back in the 90s, so I’m glad I finally got the chance. He is an amazing performer and manages to make an arena show feel intimate and so fun. It was so fun to sing along to all those songs of his I loved and also to see Trisha Yearwood perform some of her songs. They are some of the first country artists I ever fell in love with and it was great to finally get a chance to see them live.

 

Broadway Theatre Production

In last year’s post I named Hamilton my favorite theatre production of the year and said I’m going again in April of 2016 so maybe it will be my favorite show of 2016 too. Let’s be realistic. It was. But I also saw other great Broadway shows this year. So even though the best show I saw was Hamilton again, I’m going to put She Loves Me in this category. The production starred Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi and it was delightful. I even paid to re-watch it online when they broadcast a recording of it later in the year.

Baltimore Theatre Production

My favorite theatre production that I saw in Baltimore snuck in at the last moment. It was the touring production of A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The Broadway production won the Tony for Best New Musical in 2014 and I’ve wanted to see it for years. It was never something that I felt that I needed to see on Broadway though given the limited number of shows I get to see there each year. I always knew I was going to wait until it toured to see it, so I was happy that it finally came around as part of our season tickets to the Hippodrome this year. It was a great show and well worth the wait. It was extremely smart and clever and a show the likes of which I haven’t seen in a long time.

Podcast

I already gave away in a post a few weeks ago that my favorite pocast this year was Out of the Blocks, a local Baltimore podcast from Aaron Henkin and Wendel Patrick. Their tag line One City Block, One Hour of Radio, Everybody’s Story pretty much describes what the podcast is about. It’s a fascinating look at the city and in the human condition. I highly recommend it to everyone not just people from Baltimore.

Podcast Episode

If Out of the Blocks didn’t exist Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs would have gotten my vote in the previous category. Instead they’ll get the mention in favorite podcast episode. I of course had to pick the episode where they discuss the song I requested, Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”.

Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Review

As you may have guessed by the title of this blog post I’m going to be talking about the new Gilmore Girls episodes, so if you haven’t seen them yet and don’t want to be spoiled on anything stop reading now and come back later. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I got together with some friends yesterday afternoon to watch all 6 hours of the new Gilmore Girls episodes on Netflix. We ate a ridiculous amount of junk food based on what they eat in the show. Now I feel like I should only eat fruit and vegetables for the rest of the week.

So here are my random thoughts on the show done bullet journal style (Just kidding, maybe. I don’t even really know what bullet journaling is. I just know it’s a thing.)

  • It was really nice to have these characters back in my life again even though some of the things they did rang a little false to me. Mostly it did feel like picking up where we left off only 10 years later though.
  • There were definitely some inconsistencies not only compared to the older episodes but also within the same episodes or even two scenes right next to each other. Who is keeping track of these things? Rory somehow can’t get cell reception in Stars Hollow yet everyone else is walking through the town chatting away? Also there’s a scene where Rory is at her grandparents’ house and there is snow on the patio and yet Emily is on Nantucket with spring looking weather wearing a light sweater and crop pants. Get it together people.
  • I loved all the little cameos not only of all the characters from the original show, but also other people connected to stuff the Palladinos have done or other cast members from Parenthood like Peter Krause, Lauren Graham’s real life boyfriend and brother on the show, Jason Ritter who played Mr. Cyr , and Mae Whitman who played Lauren Graham’s daughter, Amber.
  • I also of course adored Sutton Foster and Christian Borle in Stars Hollow: The Musical. Realistically that bit went on way too long, especially given the limited series but I thought it was hysterical and I love them, so I don’t even care.
  • I loved Paris. She seemed exactly like she would be, though I’m not really sure I buy her career. I’m bummed she and Doyle are getting a divorce. That’s probably realistic, but I’m hoping those two crazy kids work it out.
  • April is still terrible, and I will never forgive the Palladinos for her. I really wish they had left her out of these episodes, but thankfully her presence was limited.
  • I’m still super sad about Edward Hermann. His presence was sorely missed, but I think they did a good job honoring him.
  • I always liked Lorelei’s boyfriends except for Christopher so I was happy to see Jason Styles return at Richard’s funeral. It made sense that he would be there, and I’m happy they wrote him in for that little scene.
  • Emily felt like the character that rang the least true to me in these episodes, but maybe it makes sense that she wouldn’t be the same after her husband of 50 years died. The fact that she would have a maid with a crazy amount of other family members including kids living in her house made no sense to me though.
  • I’m happy that Luke and Lorelei have been together all this time. I’m happy to know that they’ve been happy together since the show ended and that we just got to see them get married.
  • I really did kind of want to see what a Steely Dan flash mob looks like.
  • Rory on the other hand is still a mess when it comes to guys. I always thought she had terrible taste in men and I apparently that hasn’t changed. She is terrible. First of all I thought the whole forgettable boyfriend Paul thing was ridiculous and made everyone seem horrible, especially Rory. Second did she really not learn anything about being the other woman from when she was cheating with a married Dean? I can’t believe that she would now be cheating with Logan who is engaged to someone else. Realistically I wanted her to be with someone other than Dean, Jess, or Logan but of the three Logan would have been my choice. He gets bonus points by association from my love of his character on The Good Wife. Also I rewatched only the back half of season 5 in the last year, which features Logan at his best in their relationship so without the before and after his character didn’t seem half bad. I really didn’t mind him in these episodes except for the part where HE’S CHEATING ON HIS FIANCE! I really wish they hadn’t done that because it made both him and Rory seem terrible. I wish it had just been written as it was originally intimated with both of them seeing other people in a casual way and doing the same with each other whenever Rory was in London. I’m happy they made Dean happily married with kids because that is exactly what I would have expected from his character. I never liked Jess, so I was not pleased with the longing looks at the end that suggest something more might happen between the two of them in the future.
  • The final four words: I, like everyone else who ever watched this show knowing anything about the Palladinos, have been wondering what those final four words of the series were going to be. I’m happy that we finally got to know. I sort of wondered going in if they would be able to make sense so many years later.  Obviously the fact that Rory tells her mom she’s pregnant still makes sense even all these years later, so I’m happy that worked out without having to feel forced. Of course it changes things slightly from Rory doing this when she was much younger like Lorelei did, but it still works. Now it just feels sort of  like a cliffhanger that we won’t get resolved though. I do appreciate it as an ending though. Although after I thought about it a little bit, I’m not sure I like where I think it was going. Obviously the kid has to be Logan’s, which I’m fine with. I don’t doubt that Logan would leave his fiance and go be with Rory, who is actually the woman he loves. I could see them being a happy little family together even though the idea of that is tainted for me by the who fiance cheating thing. Why Palladinos? But here’s the thing, I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen at all. I realized that this is what Rory’s whole conversation with Christopher was about. She’s planning on insisting on raising the baby on her own like Lorelei did. I think that’s crap because the only way I can even see that happening is if Rory doesn’t tell Logan. That’s a terrible thing to do to both him and the kid. Logan is not Christopher. He would never just go away and not insist on being fully a part of his kid’s life. So while in concept I liked the final four words, I don’t really like where I think they would be leading.
  • Overall I really enjoyed watching the episodes though. I miss having good family dramas in my life. As I’ve lamented many times here before they just don’t really make them anymore. Gilmore Girls is one of the best and it was wonderful to have all these people back in my life for a few hours. Everyone likes to blame the demise of Gilmore Girls on season 7 and the lack of the Palladinos, but if people are honest with themselves the Palladinos wrote that show into a terrible place in season 6 so they are not blameless in that show not ending in a way that felt satisfying to fans, but I’m happy they finally got a chance to do it their way. I think it was worth the wait.

Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party

 

I honestly don’t feel like writing anything on a blog that’s dedicated to things that make me happy as I don’t feel very happy right now, but that’s all for another time and another place. We carry on. The day after the election my friend Jenny tweeted at me, “In happier news, anxiously awaiting your review of Martha and Snoop Dogg’s show.” She like many of the people who know me know that one of my all time favorite videos to grace the internet is this gloriously ridiculous segment from the Martha Stewart show in which Martha and Snoop make mashed potatoes together.

Everyone who was like huh? when VH1 announced this show had obviously never witnessed this. Sadly I can’t say that Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party is nearly as delightful. It seems way too scripted and like it’s trying too hard. Martha seemed like she was reading off a teleprompter during a lot of the show. I don’t know if she actually was or not, but she didn’t seem to acting naturally like she does in the above video.

I don’t think the people who named the show know what a potluck dinner party is. They do in fact have some guests show up for dinner, but none of them arrive with any food. I don’t know if this is the set-up for every episode yet, but it was built as more of a competition between the two of them. Each of them was cooking their own fried chicken recipe with Seth Rogen being paired up with Snoop and Wiz Khalifa being paired up with Martha. Ice-T showed up towards the end to join them for dinner and judge whose wings were the best. Spoiler it was a tie. They also played some version of two truths and a like while they were eating for no good reason. There was also some sort of DJ/Commentator that just seemed entirely unnecessary to me.

I haven’t deleted it off the DVR because it’s still something that might be good when I want something mindless to watch, but it doesn’t have the same heart as the original video.

Fall TV Diary (Returning Shows Edition)

In writing up this post I’m realizing I’m watching a lot of shows at this point out of habit rather than true love of them. That pretty much goes for almost all of the super hero shows, which at this point I’ve grown weary of. There’s too many of them, and I’m not sure that I really care about any of their stories anymore.

Sundays

Masters of Sex

I don’t know all that much about the true story of Masters and Johnson, so I’m not sure how closely or not this show is adhering to their lives at this point. My guess is only to the broadest strokes at this point. I think this show has a character problem though. Last season they took Bill to a place that made him just a miserable character. They’ve tried to redeem him this season, but now seem to be doing the same thing to Virginia. They’ve both always been difficult people in their own way, but when characters become sort of one note terrible it’s no fun for anyone. Hopefully they’ll manage to right the ship soon as I gather there’s still a lot more story to tell about them.

Mondays

Big Bang Theory

I find it kind of impressive how much I still enjoy the Big Bang Theory this far into it’s run. Most sit-coms by this point have run out of stories and have turned their characters into caricatures of their former selves. I think in some respects the Big Bang Theory has done the opposite. The characters in this show were mostly caricatures from the outset, so I think they’ve actually developed them into more human seeming characters over the years instead of the other way around. They’ve been around awhile now, but the addition of Amy and Bernadette to round out the female side of the cast was also much needed and has helped keep life in the show.

Supergirl

Supergirl was one of my favorite new shows from last season. Now that it’s moved to the CW and has a smaller budget and is losing Calista Flockhart as a full time cast member I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it. They also seem to have decided to drop the love triangle piece of the show that was present last season, and I won’t deny that that part of the show was part of the attraction for me. I’m going to keep watching and see how it goes, but I suspect I’m not going to love it as much as I once did.

Jane the Virgin

Now entering its third season Jane the Virgin seems to be very much what it always was. I imagine eventually this show will drag on longer than it should, but for now I’m still finding it a fun little diversion in my week.

Tuesdays

The Flash

The Flash sort of lost my interest after its first season, but I’m still watching it though only at sort of half attention. I can’t keep straight all the time lines and worlds anymore and I don’t know that I care to.

Brooklyn 9-9

I’m still very much enjoying Brooklyn 9-9. It’s just a good, solid sit-com at this point. It knows who it’s characters are and so far is still keeping them true to themselves and not over relying on the quirks that make you love them.

Scream Queens

I really liked the first season Scream Queens at the outset, although I was not as enamored with it by it’s end. I had assumed that it would be like Ryan Murphy’s other show American Horror Story and just be an anthology series featuring most of the same actors, but with a completely new story. It turns out I was wrong and season 2 is a continuation of the characters in season 1 though in a new setting. They’ve now moved from a university into a hospital. It’s now even more ridiculous than it was before, and I’m not sure why I’m still watching it at this point. I don’t find it particularly good. I think it would have been much better served by resetting the table completely.

Wednesdays

Arrow

I used to love Arrow in its first few seasons, but it has lost its lustre for me. I think part of the problem is that it held on to the flashbacks way too long. Once we were caught up to the present it didn’t make any sense for them to be such a large part of the show anymore and it seemed like the writers were forced to start retconning things very quickly in order to keep them going. They don’t seem to be as much of a presence yet this season, and I believe they’re planning on dropping them completely next season but at this point I’m not sure I care that much about any of the stories anymore.

Modern Family

Modern Family is definitely something I’ve long been watching out of habit rather than out of real enjoyment. I don’t really have much else to say about it.

Empire

Empire burned bright in its first season. It was still decent in its second season, but aside from the music itself and of course Cookie I’m not sure this show is doing much for me anymore. The need to keep being more outrageous with the storylines means that things don’t even make sense anymore.

Younger

I love Younger. Even though the premise of people believing that Sutton Foster is 26 instead of 40 is pretty ridiculous, they treat the characters as real. No one is the bad guy. Everyone has their issues that they’re dealing with, but I can like everyone and actually feel torn about which guy is better for Eliza, her hot boss or her hot 20-something boyfriend.

Rectify

Rectify’s final season doesn’t actually start until after this posts, but I can hardly wait for it. This show is definitely not for everyone. It’s an extremely slow moving character piece that may or may not actually ever reveal to us whether Daniel killed the girl he was imprisoned for killing. I won’t even be disappointed if we don’t find out because in some ways it seems besides the point. I think it’s good that the show is ending on its own terms and going out on a high note, but I will still miss it when it’s gone.

Thursdays

Legends of Tomorrow

I didn’t care much for Legends of Tomorrow last season even though I wanted to because they pulled together some of my favorite characters from other CW superhero shows and put them together here. Part of the problem as that there were just way too many characters and they could never fully devote enough time to any of them. Also I didn’t care for the hawk people storyline that was the basis of the first season. Now that they are hopefully gone forever and the cast is a little tighter perhaps this show will be better in its second season.

Mom

Mom hasn’t started yet for this season either, but I’ll be watching it when it does. It’s a pretty stereotypical old sit-com in most respects, but I enjoy it. I always like Alison Janney, and there is some real heart and addressing of real issues behind the sit-com ridiculousness.

Fridays

The Vampire Diaries

During its first few seasons The Vampire Diaries was one of my favorite shows, but it has long outstayed its welcome. It really made no sense for it to continue on after Nina Dobrev left. At this point I’m certainly going to watch through the end, but I’m going to be happy when this one is over at the end of the season.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I adored Crazy Ex-Girlfriend in its first season, and the one episode of season 2 that’s aired so far was just as good. The ratings for this show are pretty lousy, so I’m not sure how long I’ll get to keep it, but I’m going to cherish every wonderful episode of this show as long as they keep on giving them to me.