All posts tagged: TV

Yada, Yada, Yada: Why My Seinfeld Shorthand Is Still Relevant Today

“Potato Salad!” That’s the first phrase I remember my sister saying that made us both crack up so hard that we were both in tears. She was telling me a story that involved a friend of hers in a bunch of crazy scenarios, and after about 15 minutes of detailed explanation, she just stopped and shouted “POTATO SALAD!” We both just fell out and laughed our asses off, because I knew exactly what she meant – which was that this friend of hers was nuts, and possibly a homeless guy wearing a bad toupee while running around Manhattan while pulling a rickshaw. If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Maybe you could even give me a quick but full synopsis of the episode, “Kramer’s Rickshaw Adventure.” My sister Addye and I are BIG Seinfeld fans and we speak “Seinfeld Shorthand” to each other just about every day. We’ve been doing it since the show first came on, waaaaayyy back in July of 1989. There were a lot of great shows …

How I Went From Aspiring Joker to Joker’s Wild Champion

My sophomore year of college, I took a leave of absence from NYU Film/TV after my sophomore year and set out for LA with dreams of becoming the next Freddie Prinze (minus the suicide). One of my best friends from high school and I had made a pact: We’d find an empty office on the Universal lot, set up shop like Steven Spielberg and take Hollywood by storm. I was the advance team and flew out via PEOPLExpress (one way just $99) to couch surf with an ex and her sister in Orange County until I could find a place. My arrival coincided with the reign of The Night Stalker Killer, and, as it turned out, my ex’s sister’s place was this latest Satanist’s favorite stalking grounds. The very first night, after the girls went out clubbing (leaving me alone clutching a broomstick), I was shocked awake at 3 a.m. by the phone ringing. On the other end, the most menacing (although not-particularly inventive) obscene caller told me how much he’d like to make me …

I Was “Breakup Girl,” And Then My Job Dumped Me

Lynn Harris in the 90s. (Photo: Denise Winters) This will not endear me to you: Until my mid-20s, I was convinced that I was special — that my life was actually charmed. That was the through line to my life story: Things just went my way. Hard work paid off. I earned good grades, had halfway normal parents and halfway decent boyfriends. My high school graduation speaker was Gloria Fucking Steinem. I got into Yale. I had the time of my life. I had an amazing dog named Montsi — a gorgeous white shepherd/tundra wolf mix who was my protector and soul sister. My books got published. I always had cool, land-in-your-lap life-changing experiences, like living and bonding with a family and “sister” in Mexico who looked just like me — whom I’m still friends with — and lucking into an awesome apartment with my best friend in Boston and winding up on both Geraldo and Ricki Lake in 1994, just because I looked exactly like Tonya Harding, which is a long story. It wasn’t …

How A Fox News Feminist Changed Things From the Inside Out

Fun fact: I never considered myself a “feminist.” I hated the word as well as the connotations it suggested. But my mother — my biggest fan and toughest critic — changed all of that. She, too, started out as a reluctant feminist.  Sure she believed in women’s rights. Yet, when she came to the United States, she strived to be the opposite: a quiet Indian immigrant, existing between the lines as a med school resident, striving to be the best doctor she could be, but never questioning authority or stirring the pot. That was until the director of Yale School of Medicine told her she could be chief resident if she was more assertive. “Assertive” meant she was committed. “Committed” was a direct shot to chief resident, and “chief resident” meant she would be the BEST.  She would be granted access to what was known as the “Vatican” of Yale medical school. At 27 years old, she would have instant street cred, clout and a possible bump in salary. It also meant she could cut …

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Are Journalists Allowed to Be Fans?

When I was starting out my career in the ’90s working as a business journalist, the rule was always be in the background of (and not part of) the story. The first-person voice-y thing was for the columnists — and if you were doing that and weren’t one, you were clearly a novice reporter in her first weeks on the job. Worse, if you were a fan of a subject’s work or their mission, showing your hand beyond a detached view of why their company might be good for society — or, really, shareholders — was a nonstarter. This went double if you were a person in her ’20s covering complex topics. Note that this was before the ubiquity of blogging and disruption. The old order reigned, and it didn’t exactly revere lack of years of experience and naïve exuberance. In turn, neither did I. #Judgy This worldview of mine took a little time to coalesce. One incident that helped it along happened when I returned from a reporting trip where I was trailing an entrepreneur who …

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I Broke Up with Binge-Watching and I’ve Never Been Happier

My name is Brian, and I’m an episodic TV addict. I’ve been clean for over 100 days now. That’s right. Clean. No Piper and Alex. No Phillip and Elizabeth. No Starks. No Lannisters. No Netflix. No Amazon Prime Instant. No HBO GO on my friend’s account. By last fall, my “denial” cover story about my nasty habit was collapsing. I could no longer fool myself that I merely enjoyed the golden era of prestige TV in the age of genius showrunners like Gilligan, Simon and Chase My viewing habits had broken bad. Really, really bad. Paying full Prime retail for an all-night binge on USA’s mediocre law firm procedural Suits bad. Bad as in hearing not voices but rather an insane mash-up track, starting with the opening violin theme from The Americans, adding in The Sopranos bass line, layering over the House of Cards theme (because it’s the basically the same song ) and then topping it off with the Game of Thrones cello bad. Terrible. But things are better now. Much better. Subtracting episodic …

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My Year of Streaming Dangerously

After years of pushing my night owl habit to unhealthy limits, I committed to sleeping a solid eight hours every night. It quickly turned into the most well-rested year of my adult life. Then I got a Roku. I wasn’t a binge-watcher at the time. All I wanted was the ability to keep up with the shows I heard my friends and the internet go on about. I didn’t feel like a pop culture writer who had never seen True Detective or Breaking Bad could call herself legit. I also wanted to revisit Friday Night Lights. Plus, House of Cards was about to begin, and I needed to watch Orange is the New Black. I did not want to watch any of this on my computer. I work on the Internet; I already spend many hours every day staring at a smallish screen, and I didn’t want to move my TV-watching habits there too. I wanted to watch actual shows on actual television from my actual couch. With one cable, the tiny Roku connected my …

7 Shows You Should Be Obsessed With This Summer

What better way to celebrate sunny skies and sultry temperatures than to hide inside, surrounded by the comforts of home and episode after episode of riotous comedies and tissue-requiring dramas? Here are a few that you’ll want to watch in their entirety while hunkered down in the air conditioning. A few you’ve heard of, and some may be brand new — to you. 1. Burning Love A tart refresher for fans of The Bachelor‘s roses-and-rings universe, this Ben Stiller-produced show has some of comedy’s brightest lights — among them Ken Marino (Party Down, The State), June Diane Raphael (Grace and Frankie), Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), and Natasha Leggero (Another Period) — taking on the American ideal of “happily ever after” and the not-here-to-make-friends archetypes that populate competitive reality TV. Packed with absurd situations (“fruit run,” puppetry) and the sort of people who would only be welcome in your living room through your television, Burning Love offers laughs that are just familiar enough to be passable as actual Bachelor segments. (Stream it here.) 2. iZombie Ever been to …

The Bravermans Are Going to Be Ok — And So Am I

As I write this, the anniversary of my mom’s death is tomorrow. I’m approaching the date with sadness obviously, but nowhere near the numbed out pain I felt saying good-bye 2 years ago. Nor is this moment as hard as waiting for the milestones of that first year to pass. But the spring weeks between Mother’s Day – June 6th will always be raw. I will always remember the last time we spoke on the phone, and the stupid cheery orange pashmina I bought her for her birthday on May 24th that I took back several weeks later. The anxious plane ride from NYC to Pittsburgh I took with my younger sister when we knew it was the very end. Celebrating my son’s birthday while sitting shiva. Though I’m doing fine — trying to be present and feel grateful for my husband and children and other blessings, there is still a major Judi shaped hole in my life. Her loss forced an adjustment and a rebuilding that is ongoing. As Oprah-ish as it sounds, I’ve …

Two Olds Text About Television Getting “Younger”

Last week TV Land debuted Younger, a new TV series starring Sutton Foster as Liza Miller,  a 40-something woman pretending to be 26 to reenter the workforce. Naturally Karen and Margit had to have a text about this:   I struggled through the pilot. I mean, I see the connection to Sex and the City in its superficiality (sorry fans of SATC).   Awww, I loved SATC!   I just found myself in a constant state of eye roll.   SATC was so iconic in its style, thanks in part to Patricia Field’s costuming, and this does not have that (editor’s note: we learned later Field is doing Younger too!). This show feels like they are following fashion trends, not setting them. And SATC didn’t have the gimmicky storyline. Not that anyone wants an updated SATC out of this. Well, maybe Darren Star does!   I mean Younger deals in stereotypes (like SATC!) with no wink wink irony — unlike, say, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which deals in rich character development and satirical over-the-top stereotypes to the extent that it’s …

The Generational Pop-Culture Trivia Gap Explained

“Dig this guy cutting a rug out there like he’s Rerun or something.” I’m standing at my company holiday party, chatting with a coworker next to the dance floor. He scrunches up his face in reaction to my comment. “Huh?” Oh boy. Here we go again. “I said he’s cutting a rug — that means dancing — like the character Rerun.” “Rerun of what?” “Rerun. Rerun is a character. From the show What’s Happening!!” “Oh. Right.” He punctuates his acknowledgment with a blank nod and smile. I know this look. That’s him registering zero. I do a little Gene Gene the Dancing Machine shuffle to finish off the exchange as weirdly as possible. I’m writing this piece from what I call the Pastless Present: a place where brilliant youth are reinventing our future but seem to be utterly unaware of anything has come before. More specifically, I work in tech. In fact, I’m a woman in tech, and I’m 42, which is kind of like being a unicorn tap dancing on a rainbow. I like …

Kids These Days! Why Don’t They Watch TV?

By the time I took “History of the 60s” in college, I already knew a bit about intergenerational perspectives on the Vietnam war — mainly based on watching Archie and Meathead fight bitterly about it. In my rural middle-class neighborhood, I never would have understood that stark class differences existed outside my slim circle if it weren’t for Good Times. I never would have known that stoops existed, that people sent mail from blue boxes on street corners and that trash cans were propped outside of brownstone buildings if it weren’t for Sesame Street. My son has never seen any of these shows. There is never a moment in his life when, given the freedom to do what he wants, he chooses to watch television. His dad and I have tried to get him to see some of these old shows, but just from the opening credits, he can identify an otherworldly production — lengthy credits in an ‘80s or ‘70s-style font will immediately make him leave the room and scoff, ”What? Is this a …

I Know You Are But What Am I? Pee-Wee and Me

When I was five, I accidentally watched every terrifying, adult, weird moment of The Pee-wee Herman Show. PHS was a 1980 nightclub show — captured on HBO — that predated Pee-Wee’s Playhouse by five years. As my parents were busy hosting a party, no one noticed that I was absorbing some of the more adult themes. After witnessing the scene with a hypnotized woman who shed her clothes under Pee-Wee’s command, I was terrified for years that I could be hypnotized into public nudity. From the opening song to the final cut of Pee-Wee magically flying over the stage, scenes from the show have been in my subconscious ever since. There was the hypnotized lady, for sure, but also the evocative set design and costumes. The characters were slightly scary as well. Phil Hartman as a gruff Captain Carl was on the menacing side of surly, Miss Yvonne’s outfits and hair were so over the top it became near spectacle. Pee-Wee showed me an exciting, creative world I hadn’t even imagined for myself. It was …

Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

The TueDo List: Enjoy Your Leftovers, Shop Small Businesses and Indulge in Holiday Films

My goal for this weekend is to do as little as possible. And I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to lapse into inertia. Here are a few other things going on this weekend that I’m thankful for (and you may be too). Happy holidays, my friends. It’s on. Leftovers I could not be less interested in the mall this weekend, but I’m all about leftovers and television. As for the remains of your dinner, Food Network, Martha Stewart, Southern Living and Cooking Light all have recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers — and many of them not the typical turkey-stuffing-cranberry-sauce sandwich variety. Weekend TV guides from Mashable, Daily Beast and Indiewire can help with the glowy box entertainment. Indiewire’s guide is my favorite — they’ recommend watching The Leftovers tomorrow on HBO Signature, calling it a bleak but must-watch drama. Shop Small Amid the Black Friday and Cyber Monday chaos lies Small Business Saturday. It’s an excellent opportunity to remind myself to do most, if not all, of my holiday shopping in my community. This event is (somewhat ironically) sponsored by American Express, which provides a map of local …

The TueDo List: Cool, Easy (Even Cheap!) Stuff to Do with Dad

It’s Father’s Day weekend, so dads are what it’s all about. Here’s what to do for him, with him — or both — this weekend. Movie Dad Sometimes simple is the sweetest, and and it’s possible that your dad may just be up for a movie date — whether it’s just with you, your kids, or the whole fam. Godzilla’s out there for the monster-movie fan, Spiderman and X-Men for your favorite superhero lover, and Grand Budapest Hotel for the father whose tastes are a little more eclectic. Don’t forget to treat him to dinner beforehand. If your dad is more of a homebody, there are Father’s Day deals on Roku, too. The top of the line version connects to more than 1,000 channels (including everything on Netflix) and works with Android and iPhone to turn those into streaming devices, as well. If your recipient is anything like my dad, make sure you throw in the hookup. (Roku.com, $40-90) Musical Dad Bonaroo — what could be termed the granddaddy of all current summer music festivals — …

Weekend TueDo List: Elaine Stritch, Fallon and Timberlake, Chill Out & More

Yes, yes we know — we deliver every Tuesday. Well, sometimes we just can’t wait. To that end, here are a few of the things we’re browsing, viewing and can’t wait to watch. Enjoy your weekend! GO Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me. She’s 89. She just joined Twitter. She’s Elaine Stritch — what more is there to say? Plenty, which is we’re dying to see this documentary, which is packed with appearances by Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Alec Baldwin, the late, great James Gandolfini, and many more. (Opens Feb. 21 in New York City; March 7 in Los Angeles.) WATCH The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Jimmy’s been killing the 11:30pm time slot all week. Make sure you tune in tonight, when Fallon’s best bro, Justin Timberlake, pays a visit. Given their many, many, many creative collaborations, we’re sure they’ve got something extra special up their sleeves for this evening. CHILL OUT Calm.com. A de-stressful website sounds like an oxymoron — really? I’m going to get online to om and ahhh? But this lovely site, which greets you with an everchanging …

Poop in Pop Culture: Top 10 Moments

It’s alleged that All in the Family was the first series to break ground (or is that wind) and actually flush a toilet during prime time. Since then, potty humor has become a staple of book, movie and TV giggles. Here are 10 of our most memorable poop-culture moments. We’ve even given them “stinky and offensive” ratings to give you fair warning before watching the link. Our #10 was so bad, we couldn’t even link to it. That’s what Google is for people. Did we miss some of your stinky faves? Share them in the comments below! 1. David Sedaris – Big Boy A hilarious tale of the turd that just won’t flush — everyone’s worst nightmare. “The tank refilled, and I made a silent promise. The deal was that if this thing would go away, I’d repay the world by performing some unexpected act of kindness. I flushed the toilet, and the beast spun a lazy circle. “Go on,” I whispered. “Scoot! Shoo!” I claimed a giddy victory, but when I looked back down, …

Why Intervention Was the Worst Show for This Alcoholic

For this former active alcoholic, Intervention (which ended its 13-season run in 2013) was the best show ever. Not because I identified with or cared about any of the fellow addicts I saw on the screen. Rather, it served as a wonderfully effective way to justify my drinking. I could point to those live-action bottom-hitters and say “Look, ma! They’re WAY worse than I am!“ This trick worked well, especially on my husband, who didn’t understand the disease and fell victim to every manipulative trick a drunk can play on a loved one. Once he even noted that I wasn’t nearly as bad as these people were and that my sister was going overboard when she insisted that my problem was serious. A sly grin spread across the face of the scheming, sauced-up Susan inside me. I had him. Tighten my grip. Essentially, the reality show helped me legitimize my status as a “functioning alcoholic,” and when I purposely decided to become outwardly “dysfunctional” (my dad died, my intake doubled and I did little to …

The Next Magic Mike, Coming to Your Computer (Yes, We Went There)

Television is over. According to the 2013 US Digital Future In Focus report, Americans watch nearly 40 billion videos each month. If big-budget streaming series like Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black or House of Cards whet your appetite, be sure to check out lesser-known hits like The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks, Husbands, and F to 7th. Now, Brooklyn-based filmmaker Tahir Jetter brings us Hard Times, a new webisode project chronicling a broke personal trainer’s experiences as a male exotic dancer. The New York University Tisch School of the Arts graduate’s short film Close. premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, and he expects to release Hard Times online in November 2013. While stories about men who pay female sex workers are as old as an expired condom, stories about men selling their schtick are less prevalent. Nothing short of courageous, such storylines include oft-ignored women who pay men to strip and much more. If there was any question about the audience for this film, strip flick Magic Mike hauled a 73 percent female audience …