Category Archives: TV

TV Isn’t Really Free, You Know

This doesn’t actually seem like a bad idea:

Starting August 15, Fox will offer its next-day Hulu options only to subscribers to the Dish Network (or Hulu Plus). Non-subscribers will have to wait eight days to watch the shows, even though in regular, not-Internet life, those with and without the Dish Network can watch Fox programs on DVRs whenever they please, with equal impunity.

New York is operating under the assumption that this move is irregular — but chances are, it’s something all of the networks have been discussing together, or in their own silos.

And why not? TV viewers are beginning to expect that they can watch shows the next day on the internet — and networks are getting very little out of that. Charging a bit for that capability is probably where all networks are headed.

Granted, I may be biased as I’m a happy Hulu Plus subscriber (it’s a critical supplement to Netflix in my cable-less household), but the service is fairly cheap and well worth it.

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“You pretty much do whatever men want you to do?” “Yes…yes, that’s what I’m trying to tell you.”

Based on this interview, I’ve decided that Aubrey Plaza — aka April Ludgate on Parks and Recreation — is kind of a genius. She plays it almost completely straight, and with her blank face and monotone, she makes Steven Tyler and Jay Leno look like the total creepers they’re being.

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Right and Wrong on Leslie and Ron

I probably shouldn’t bother, since this is clearly an example of #slatepitches hard at work but this piece on Parks & Recreation that compared Ron and Leslie as the conservative “dad” and liberal “mom” of the show was pretty annoying.

Juliet Lapidos writes:

The real flaw in Leslie’s character is not her pride, but her offhanded, sometimes cruelly demanding treatment of the people she knows well. Because she cannot generate a post-festival idea, she requires her co-workers to accompany her on a camping trip for a brainstorming session, hardly noticing that they would rather spend their off-hours otherwise. More dramatically, when no one submits a feasible proposal, Leslie acts the tyrant: “What we need to do is just keep working and just work again more. … You’re not going anywhere. No one’s going’s anywhere; no one’s sleeping.” Leslie’s friends believe that her goals are admirable, so they don’t call her out on the fact that she’s taking advantage of their good will. But that’s exactly what she’s doing. And this is not an isolated incident. Examples abound of Leslie blithely taking her friends for granted in pursuit of the public good.

She follows up with one example: the all-night telethon Leslie conscripted everyone into. But Lapidos fails to mention that the reason no one wanted to work all night in the woods was because they believed Leslie would come up with the best idea. And she ignores how Leslie ends up eating humble pie.

Contrast with her glowing description of Ron Swanson:

He gives Leslie a wide berth to do what she pleases even though he disagrees with her politics, and he always supports her. When he learns that state auditors plan to fire her, for instance, he offers up his own job instead. He’s also an excellent judge of character, recognizing that Leslie’s boyfriend Justin (Justin Theroux) is a “tourist” who cares primarily about gathering outrageous stories. And he’s attuned to the emotional states of the people around him, filling the role of office parent, as when he advises April and Andy (Chris Pratt) about their relationship. (See especially the episodes “94 Meetings,” in which Ron visits April at her parents’ house and makes clear that Andy cares for her, and “Media Blitz,” in which he convinces April not to string Andy along.)

These personality sketches are rough, and so incomplete—Leslie can be nice, Ron can be mean, etc.

It’s nice that she acknowledges her sketches are rough and incomplete — but what about the glaring omission that the reason why Ron (who is wonderful, don’t get me wrong) is able to spend time building canoes and fixing April and Chris’ relationship because Leslie does all of the work in the office?

Alyssa disagrees with Lapidos’s critique of their political philosophies, writing:

But even though Leslie and Ron represent opposing visions of government, there’s something odd about Lapidos’s argument that their perspectives are actually competitive. Ron may be right about the fact that beef burgers beat schmancy turkey burgers any day, but he’s not really right about anything else.

Well, he’s right about one other thing:

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15 Minutes of Parks and Rec Outtakes

There are a lot of gems here, but Ron Swanson’s laugh may be my favorite thing.

Happy Friday!

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Why Don’t Lady Superheroes Have Muscles?

Via my friend Sean, Bleeding Cool has a bunch of pics up from the new Wonder Woman tv show shoot. Most of the pictures are of Adrienne Palicki, but there are a few of her stunt double, Shauna Duggins as well.

Here’s Palicki:

Here’s Duggins:

A couple of things. One, I’m glad the promo shots of Palicki in high heeled boots and plasticky pants are not the actual costume. I’m also glad she’s wearing pants — in this day and age, blue hot pants with stars would just look silly (sillier? We are talking about a superheroine here).

Second, the contrast between Palicki’s and Duggins’ physiques jumps out at me. Duggins is muscled — not “toned” — which is totally to be expected for a job that requires leaping, fighting, and just generally being physically strong. Palicki, who is clearly fit, doesn’t actually have much muscle to speak of. And it reminds me of how, 10 years ago, Sarah Michelle Gellar, playing Buffy, a woman who was supposed to be able to fight men twice her size, had very little muscle tone. Sure, she was obviously fit, but check out the arms on one of her stunt doubles, Sophia Crawford. But this is nothing new: ’70s Wonder Woman Lynda Carter wasn’t particularly buff, either.

I guess you could argue that, as superheroes, neither Buffy Summers nor Diana Prince need big muscles to do their jobs. They’re inherently strong. But their male counterparts are heavily muscled. Tom Welling is pretty cut on Smallville (am I the only person shocked that that show is still on?), as was Tobey Maguire when he played the somewhat lithe Spider-Man.

My suspicion is that live-action women superheroes aren’t buff because in order to be traditionally sexy and feminine, they just can’t be. A Wonder Woman with powerful muscles would be intimidating to fanboys, not attractive. Plus, as a working actress, Palicki can’t afford to be “too buff” when she wants to be cast other roles — a problem I doubt many actors have.

Anyway, I’m tempted to call this a moot point, since it’s entirely likely that Wonder Woman will be terrible and won’t make it out of the first season. Still, it’s worth noting, since we’ll probably continue to see this disparity in superhero build.

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Hate on Glee, ctd

Alright, guys. I hate Glee. I tried to work with the show, but after the first season, it was time to bail. I’ve been catching snatches of it lately thanks to my roommate (whose taste is otherwise impeccable), but seeing recent episodes have mostly* served to reinforce my hate.

With that said, I think Hampton Stevens’ argument against the show’s recent picks for a “World’s Greatest Love Songs” episode is just silly:

Just because Glee is a show about high school kids doesn’t mean high school kids should pick the music. Has no one there heard of Cole Porter or the Gershwin brothers? Forget “greatest love songs”—Perry’s “Firework” isn’t a love song at all. It’s a motivational anthem, and a super cheesy one at that.

Glee being a show (and an unrealistic one at that) about high school kids exactly means that high school kids would pick the music. It makes perfect sense that Rachel would go for Katy Perry. These kids have continually fought against traditional songs; that was the entire premise of the Britney episode!

Now, if the argument is against the bastardization of the meaning of “Greatest Love Songs,” well, that’s an argument I can get behind. Especially since the greatest love song of all time — one that didn’t make it onto Stevens’ list (Jimmy Durante? I can tell someone else got teary eyed over ‘The Notebook.’) — is obviously Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line.”

*I say “mostly” because Sara made me watch this clip of the posh boys’ school performing “Bills Bills Bills” and it is completely charming.

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Spending Currency You Didn’t Earn

So, SNL seems to be getting better. And the last episode had some generally pretty funny moments, though I had mixed feelings about this blaxploitation skit featuring Nicki Minaj.

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For those who can’t watch it, this gist of the clip is this: Minaj is the bride of Frankenstein’s monster, in a blaxploitation film that’s somewhat reminiscent of Young Frankenstein. It relies heavily on Sassy Black Woman humor. After Minaj reveals herself to be outspoken, guest host Jesse Eisenberg (as Igor) explains where he got various parts of her body, including her mouth, which came from “a ho who didn’t know her place” (Jay Pharaoh as Dr. Frankenstein responds, exasperatedly, “Igor!” and Eisenberg quickly amends, “that’s how she described herself, master!”).

I laughed at the ho quip, partly because it was unexpected from Eisenberg, and partly because it was a dead-on insult of that genre and era. See, on its face, I found the sketch amusing. It really worked as an effort to pillory blaxploitation with some (but not much) hyperbole.

But obviously, a few things didn’t sit quite right. The gratuitous shots of Minaj’s ass, for one. Not because those images weren’t in keeping with the material, but because seeing her in that role reminded me that there is no way they could have done that skit unless they put one of their other actresses in black face or brought Maya Rudolph back (and put her in browner face). Including Rudolph, who is biracial, there have been four black actresses over the 36-year run of the show.

My problem, above all, is that SNL hasn’t earned the currency it’s spending in this skit. When portraying black women, the show has to go to the well of putting Kenan Thompson in a dress, or bringing in musical artists. Normally, I don’t really mind, because I’d rather see as little representation as possible than bad representation. But the blaxploitation skit was funny, and Nicki Minaj was good in it. Why not bring in a funny black woman to expand the repertoire of the show? For example, while I criticize Thompson occasionally, having him in the cast makes skits like the Tyler Perry Weekend Update interview, which was absolutely hilarious, possible.

At any rate, I’ve always maintained that some of the funniest people I know are black women — but that’s because I know a lot of black women. It’s simply not that hard to find funny women if the circle of people who influence you extends beyond white males.

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