Sunday, September 9, 2012

The TV Post!

I just told Don about my awesome new pitch for a sitcom:  a Northern Exposure-esque dramedy set in small cafe in Rogers Park, Chicago.  The cast will be made up of differently aged, but very attractive people who represent the lovely cultural diversity of this neighborhood while affectionately tweaking its lockstep urban liberalism.  Like, everyone will be really nice and smart but will also believe that their Coexist bumper stickers are meaningful political statements.  They will drink wine all the time but never get drunk and never pay for anything.  At the end of every episode a handsome twenty-something will play pretty songs on a guitar while the older people smile at him benevolently, all the problems of that episode resolved.  There will be romance!  And wacky hijinks! I would totally watch that show.

But until I figure out how to write a spec script or write one and then completely fall down on the part where I do the work to make it a real thing (oh, how my novel languishes!), I thought I'd take a moment to enlighten my readers (both of you!)  as regards my theory that we are now living in a real Golden Age of Television.  This means if you are a person who tells other people that you never watch TV, what the rest of the world assumes is that this is most likely because reception is kind of spotty ever since you crawled up your own ass.

I am particularly fond of the sitcom.  Here are my ten favorites, in descending order.

10. Suburgatory - As much as I love the principals and as impressed as I am with Cheryl Hines' ability to give so much heart and nuance to what could easily have been just another sitcom trope, i think I could watch 22 minutes of this girl:

9. Apartment 23 - That's not the name of this show, but it should be.  This show is super weird. I love that in a sitcom.  And while I'm too old to get all the Dawson references, I think James Van Der Beek is a hoot.  But, really, it's mostly about Kristen Ritter.  I feel like this all the time:

8. New Girl  - I know people hate Zooey Dechanel.  I think she's a doll, though.  And this show is tight and funny and filled with unassailable logic like the following:

7. The Middle - Look, Patricia Heaton is an asshole.  I think we can all agree about that.  But I love Sue Heck with passions approaching Leslie Knope levels.  Don't write this show off because Patricia Heaton is an asshole.  Also some more unassailable wisdom:

6. Cougartown - I have made clear my feelings about the word "Cougar."  But I am heartened in my disdain for this term by the fact that the people behind this show also hate that word and want nothing more than to change it. This is a hangout show.  It's like Scrubs.  It's funny.  Courtney Cox is hilarious.  Here she is answering the following question from her fiance:  Once we find out I'm not the father, which Maury Povitch Show celebration dance are you gonna do...:

5. 30 Rock - The old girl's still got it.  I mean the show, not Tina Fey.  Tina Fey is not old. Although I expect the following assertion comes as much from Tina Fey as it does Liz Lemon.  And me:

4. Happy Endings - This show fires out good jokes so fast that you need your DVR to keep up.  This is one of my favorites:

3. Community - It pains me how many more people watch Big Bang Theory than this show.  I like Big Bang Theory, too.  I have a DVR.  I watch them both.  But it's like preferring a Nilla Wafer to a Chocolate Sundae.  Nilla Wafers are yummy, but there's a big old Chocolate Sundae RIGHT THERE! Also, and this seems to be a bit of a theme in this post: some funny ass women.  I am particularly fond of Britta:

2. Parks in Recreation - There is LIT'RALLY no fictional character I want to be friends with more than I want to be friends with Leslie Knope.  And while it is the most passionately feminist show on TV, at this juncture I'm going to let Ron Freaking Swanson drop some wisdom on us:

1. Louie - I'm not going to do a gif here, because Louie's not a show that lends itself to Gifs.  It's brilliant, it's complicated, and it makes you work a little. But it's worth it. Also, it is VERY funny.  Here's a little something you may be able to relate to.  I can:

And now the dishonorable list.  These shows.  Sigh:

1. Two and a Half Men -  Hoky jokes that rely exclusively on gendered assumptions that were stale 30 years ago are not funny.
2. Two Broke Girls - This pains me a bit because I really like both the lead actresses on this show and wanted to like the show so much.  But racism does not equal daring political incorrectness.  It's just racist.
3. Modern Family - Look, this is a pretty good show.  I watch it and laugh sometimes.  But, man, did it start coasting last year.  It's like it built up a big audience and then said, "We can do a pretty good impression of that good show from the first season instead of all that hard work and people will still watch." And they're not wrong.

And, with that note, I've offended someone!  My work here is done.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Moms Moms Moms

Every election, I start to really hate the word "Mom."  This year during Michelle Obama's otherwise glorious speech, the phrase "Mom-in-Chief" spewed forth from the teevee and I shuddered with an ancient revulsion.  I hated it with the white, hot passion of 10,000 sun.  But I get it:  It is of paramount importance that Michelle Obama not scare anyone. Yet (and I cannot overstate this), if you ever thought Michelle Obama was scary, that's really your damage not hers.

But let's take this out of the strictly Michelle realm while being clear that I just love Michelle Obama to bits and would like very much to be her IRL friend.  I want to hang out on the couch and drink wine with her.  I totally bet she says "fuck" sometimes and thinks dirty jokes are hilarious.  Outside of the Michelle realm, though, I think the "momification" (god, another shitty word that's entered our ridiculous vernacular) of accomplished women is part of an ongoing sexist tradition that insists that women absolutely have to fit neatly into one of two roles: fuckable or nurturing.  It's damaging and belittling and, for lack of a better word:

It. Bugs.

So, for the purposes of posterity, I would like it henceforth committed to the public records that I am only "Mom" to my daughter.  The rest of you bitches can call me Meg. Ms. Bon if you're nasty (ask your parents).


Here's a question for you guys, on a different topic: I bought Laney a skateboard today.  Laney has a uniform of tee shirts and jeans cut off into shorts.  To be clear:  not cutoffs;  Laney insists that hers go all the way to the knee.  Laney will not wear dresses.  Laney cannot stand for her hair to be pulled back.  Laney thinks princesses are bullshit.  Except Merida.  Merida is cool.

Laney's reached that age where she's starting to think of who she wants to be more than who she just is.  She's donning an identity.  Don said to me tonight that Laney is definitely a skateboard girl.  Not a tomboy, though.  Something else.  She's Sam, not Carly, for those of you that'll get that reference.  The cool girl, maybe?

Examining the pop culture references from my own youth, she's not Marcia, Jan or Cindy.  She's not Justine Bateman or Tina Yothers.  She's not Denise, Vanessa, Rudy or Olivia.  She is architecting this new identity from something she perceives in pop culture that I think might be something new.

Am I right?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Oh, the Sweet, Sweet Hypocrisy

It'd be nice if we exposed hypocrisy because we're noble people carrying a light in the marketplace in search of one honest man.  But, let's be for realz here: exposing hypocrisy is super fun.  How great it is when the anti-choice zealot gets caught shipping his daughter off to Europe for an abortion?  How giddy does it make us when the "family first" activist gets caught getting his luggage lifted?   Schadenfreude is cheap, man.  But so is a McDonald's soft serve.

And, goddammit, they are both delicious!

On the other hand, if you're the one accused of hypocrisy, it really only makes you mad if you're really being a hypocrite.  If you're not, I find it's way more bemusing than rage-inducing.

Let me give you an example from my own life: I am a vegetarian.  I haven't eaten meat in like ten years.  And so so so many times as this fact of my life is exposed in conversation does some dude work HARD to out me as a big old, low energy, needin' some protein hypocrite.  But I'm not wearing a "meat is murder" tee shirt.  I'll have dinner at the Chop House with you (if you're paying).  And I (like, I wager, most American vegetarians) agree that PETA should really just STFU. So when some guy is all "ah ha! Those shoes you bought at Goodwill are made of leather," my general reaction is, "Why yes they are!  And they were only THREE DOLLARS!  Couldja just die?" 

In much the same way, I was bemused by a recent Facebook status proudly outing Democrat Nation as a bunch of nitwit hypocrites for featuring video of Ted Kennedy.  This hypocrisy is twofold, apparently: the Kennedy's (like the Romney's) are rich!  And also Kennedy killed a woman in a drunk driving accident, so suck on that, war on women.

Let me take these one at a time:  Liberals don't mind rich people.  We love many rich people.  Many of us hope one to be rich people! We're all quite fond of George Clooney and think Bill Gates is doing the (metaphorical) Lord's work.  And we are, of course, all taking orders from the super rich George Soros in advance of the great migration to the Soviet Socialist State of Americastan (but don't tell anyone!  This is a SECRET!).

What we take issue with are policies which privilege rich people to the detriment of the poor and middle class and are bemused (and, I confess, a little rage-induced) by people who don't seem to get why we think rich people should pay a fair tax rate.

As for the War on Women - this isn't about who talks a better game to women, who panders more to the Moms (lordy... I really grow to loathe the word "mom" every election season) and sets up the pinkest Women's station.  This is about policies which affect women adversely, make it harder to get health care, and harder to get paid, motherfucker (was it clear that I was doing a white lady riff on street talk?  That's what I was going for, in case that wasn't made perfectly manifest by my crystal clear writing.)

And while I normally abhor the silly faux-centrist bullshit known as "both sides do it," I will say that both sides engage in the fuckwittery of political theater.  Both sides parade out veterans and women and people of color and gay people to give the appearance of diversity and inclusiveness. This is exhausting and more than a little embarrassing for everyone.  But the Democrats are actually putting forth policy that helps the poor and the middle class achieve some kind of economic parity; the Democrats are putting forth policy that helps women achieve equal status in this country.

The theater doesn't matter.  The policy does. And that's why we like Ted Kennedy.  And that's why we're voting for Barack Obama.

And if this is not as yet clear, let me just give you one more example: I don't give the tiniest rat's ass that Marco Rubio speaks Spanish better than Julian Castro.  Tell me which candidate is going to throw his weight behind the D.R.E.A.M act (not for nothing, the failure to pass this bill is the biggest blightiest bit of tea party poison on our beleaguered and just terrible congress)!

See?  Policy.