TV

Road To Gold: I’ve Got A Bad Feeling

The Night Of
Golden Globes Nomination: Best TV Miniseries or Movie + Best Actor, Mini-Series or TV Movie
SAG Awards Nomination: Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a TV Movie or Miniseries

Game of Thrones failed me. I was far too obsessed with the latest season of the show to pay attention to press surrounding The Night Of, the show that would replace HBO’s coveted Sunday night timeslot. I saw the commercials every week as I sat waiting for Jon Snow to come back to life, but for some reason was convinced that The Night Of was a contagion story, or involved some supernatural elements, or was just too creepy for me to pay attention to. Obviously, I was wrong about all of the above.

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Law & Order, you get the gist of The Night Of. It’s a dark  procedural cop show at it’s core, revolving around a seemingly cut-and-dried murder case where Nasir Khan (Riz Ahmed), a young Pakistani-American, is on trial for the death of an Upper West Side girl. But in its first hour it pulls you in farther than anything allowed on Network television, and ends up saying a lot more about race than what Ice-T gets to deliver. It’s frustratingly slow at times, especially when we’re given more information about John Turturro’s character’s eczema than the evidence surrounding Nas. Its the pacing that gets to you, filling you with an ominous feeling of dread that you try to ignore while falling in love with Ahmed (who is having a great year, and also manages to be in the best character in Rogue One). The Night Of is a show that sticks with you because, as a mini-series, we’re never really left with any sort of conclusion. And while some of these questions are nagging (Why was his lawyer portrayed as an idiot who kisses him in a jail cell, on camera, even though I’d probably want to do the same thing?), most are left unanswered as a reminder that this happens every day in America. What happens to a young man forced into the prison system, what happens on trial when there’s no evidence to nab the likely criminal, what happens in racially divided neighborhoods – these are questions that don’t get answers, in real life or on HBO. I honestly haven’t stopped thinking about the show since I finished it. Maybe we’ll get a season two that will fill in some blanks, but if you’re looking to tune in I’ll tell you this: the cat, at least, gets a conclusion.

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An Apology Letter to Ryan Murphy On Behalf Of ‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’

Dear Ryan Murphy,

I’m just going to come right out and say it. I’m sorry. I, along with many of my fellow American Horror Story viewers, was losing faith in you. I was ready to throw in the towel on the show that had given us Bloodyface, “Surprise, bitch,” and Evan Peters outside of Phil of the Future reruns. After 5 weeks of slight tedium (with the exception of Mott family history and some disgusting deaths) I was just about to give up, like I did with Glee after every single couple on the show broke up to Coldplay. But there was a promise of a twist ahead, and it was the best show airing at 10 PM on Wednesdays, so I wasn’t going to give up yet. Thank God I didn’t, and I’m sorry for doubting you.

Last night’s Chapter 6 was a game changer. Not only in this season alone, which promises to have three stories packed into 10 episodes, but in the American Horror Story series in general. They’ve had pretty reliable formats so far- a red herring villain, a Halloween special, an unanswered question (or four). And maybe future seasons will jump right back into that comfortable spot, especially with the possible resurgence of Coven and Freak Show characters. But this twist, with the actor re-enactors and talking head survivors returning to the Murder House for My Roanoke Nightmare’s reality season two of sorts, proves that we can still be surprised. The people on Reddit are no match for Mr. Ryan Murphy and co. So I’m sorry.

Chapter 6 (directed by Angela Bassett!) was a blast. I laughed, I screamed, I laughed some more, I was terrified. The very reason the first 5 episodes were so blasé for me (obviously, Shelby and Matt survived, so who cares?) were what made this episode genuinely scary: halfway through our first night in the house, we get a disclaimer that Everyone Died Except One. Let the guessing begin! Every time a character left a room or wandered off alone I was sure they were going to get brutally murdered. I was on the edge of my seat when it was finally Rory, Evan Peters’ simultaneously most hilarious and average character yet, who was stabbed by our psycho nurses. But of course it was! They needed that R to finish off their MURDER wall! A genius reminder to pay attention to everything that happens in this show. I’m sorry I didn’t see it coming.

Mr. Murphy, please accept my apology. I hate to say American Horror Story: Roanoke is good again, because it turns out it was good all along. I can’t wait to see more familiar faces, murder and who will live (I want to say Lee, because she’s already the suspected murderer). I’m sorry for doubting you here, and for doubting your use of Blurred Lines in that ‘The End of Twerk’ episode of Glee. Upon a second watch, it was actually pretty funny. But apologies aside, one thing that happened this week that I won’t forgive you for: killing Chad Radwell.

Sincerely, Me

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Will ‘Jane’ Get Her Happily Ever After?

Ahh, all is well. Jane The Virgin is back, Gina Rodriquez is still a delight that none of us fully deserve, and (spoiler alert) Michael Cordero is alive. Sure, Petra is still paralyzed and Xo is still carrying the baby of her ex’s enemy. But in spite of the remaining doom, like Jane at it’s best this episode brought out a lot of sweet and optimistic moments: a story framed as a romance novel; heartwarming and hopeful flashes of Jane and Michael’s future; hilarious flashbacks of what happened after their first kiss (Michael had a cat and it died, jackass). While it’s all good for now, there’s the sneaking suspicion that things this good can’t last that long.

The theme and framing that this episode follows begins with an angry young Jane reacting to a new romance novel that ends on a twist rather than giving its romantic leads the expected HEA, or happily ever-after. Little Jane believes this twist fails the genre, since romance novels all follow a similar pattern that make you believe in true love. Jane has always had its soap roots on display, but all its romance novel influences are just as clear. This episode sets us up to think that the HEA past Jane looked for is her future with Michael, but what if this story instead ends with the unfair twist she never wanted?

Last season, I fully believed Michael would die, and the finale pretty much sealed that fate for me. Then Michael survived, and for a minute I forgot all about the narrator’s ominous statement about loving Jane “for as long as Michael lived, until he drew his very last breath.” But don’t worry! There’s still hope! Showrunner Jennie Snyder Urman responded to reporter questions about this particular quote saying, “I think you will have to watch… I will say it’s a reliable narrator. And we’re going to be dealing with that.” Urman also said that the love triangle is “not over, but it is over now.” And then my money was back on a funeral for Michael.

Of course, there aren’t always happy endings in real life. And Jane and her family’s struggles have always been relatable enough, but only to a point. Throw in a celebrity dad, a couple of murderers, crime plots, kidnapping, an evil twin… you get it. We relate to Jane, and strive for her optimism, but this isn’t a realistic show. You still hope for the best for her because against all the drama and cliffhangers her happiness is the heart of the show. Ultimately it’s a romantic soap, and how can they keep topping on the drama if Jane has a happy, normal life? I’ve flip flopped on #TeamRafael and #TeamMichael more times than I can count, so something has to come next. If Jane wants a peaceful life with Michael, as an audience member I want that too. And yet it doesn’t seem like that’s on the horizon. I’m in for the ride, and the ups and downs are what makes this show such an impossibly fun thing to recap. But isn’t it time Jane got her own HEA?

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‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Meets ‘New Girl,’ And It’s Better than Late-Night NPR

Is this going to be the year of the crossover? The Flash’s stint on Supergirl was widely regarded as a better DC vehicle than Superman vs. Batman, Alf showed up on Mr. Robot, and last night FOX brought back the long-dead sitcom crossover with New Girl meets Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Could there have been more actual crossover in this two episodes? Absolutely. But as a person who’s favorite part of LOST was watching characters cross paths in flashbacks, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Give us more!

Though it featured minimal character interaction (other than a meta, on-the-nose moment of Jake trying to commandeer Jess’ SUV and her shouting “It’s a crossover!”) the Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode was, a little unsurprisingly, the stronger half-hour. We’re barely a fifth through the season and it’s already clear Brooklyn Nine-Nine has become a stronger comedy. They made the smart decision to continue picking up where they left off- here, Jake was returning to the force for the first time since getting shot in Florida, adding a cane and taking away the frosted tips (Amy: “I feel like I’m kissing Vanilla Ice.” Jake: “There’s a time you would have jumped at that chance!”). A lot has changed at the force, which the writers of “The Night Shift” handled with grace; the squad is dealing with getting used to the night shift, Jake is dealing with Boyle spending time with his adopted son Nikolaj, and Rosa is still waiting for her fiancee Agent Pimento to return from witness protection. Usually, an episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine this cramped might feel thin, but even with the addition of Jess the story moves along smoothly and even has time to fit in a Twilight joke that’s still funny (Boyle thinks the movies are “an insult to the books”). Fortunately, we also got to learn a lot about Terry and Holt; Terry gets “night sassy,” Holt’s idea of a rager is hanging pieces of computer paper that just say “PARTY,” and the night shift stinks for the captain largely because “late-night NPR is garbage.” This show continues to be one of the best, and they were completely on board to up their game for the New Girl fans.

While it wasn’t as strong an episode New Girl was on board too, and I have to give them credit for crafting an episode revolving around meeting a few NYPD officers on their opposite coast. Plus, we even managed to get some fun world building! Remember way back in the Pilot, when Jess came home from a trip early to surprise her then-boyfriend Spencer, and ended up catching him cheating? Turns out, Jess came home early from a horrible trip in New York, where she fell into an open grate and witnessed a subway suicide. Just New Girl things! Despite her earlier bad Empire State experiences, Jess gets the most Brooklyn in her LA this time, running into Gina, Holt and Jake (whose dialogue and comedic beats reminded me how different these shows really are). The highlight of the three was optimistic Jess and serious Holt’s meeting, since the two are a match made in a Heaven who probably deserve a crossover episode dedicated to just the two of them. Nick and Winston running into Charles and Nikolaj was fun too, if only for the believability that Charles is super into busking, and that crowds of people would stop around two guys shouting “showtime” just to see what happens. Schmidt’s mom returned to play the quintessential Long Island mother, calling Great Neck “the real New York” and insisting that Schmidt kiss his brother, Reggie (he’s a standard poodle). The most New York moment goes to Jess’ frighteningly real experience at a packed NY Deli, but the episode ends with a huge boost from a last minute appearance by Coach. He runs into the gang on the street and scolds them for not calling him once they got to New York, and proves the point that a little Coach makes any episode better.

Overall, it was a fun hour, and a worthy experiment. I can only imagine where ABC’s family sitcoms could take this revived trope- Speechless’ Maya going toe to toe with The Real O’Neals‘s Eileen, or the black-ish gang meeting The Middle. Maybe I’m biased because I really love both New Girl and Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but if you can suspend disbelief about the fact that Jess and Jake had completely different conversations when they met in each episode I think we can all acknowledge this was a pleasant way to spend a Tuesday night. Now to get a story on how Damon Wayans Jr.’s 99th precinct cop Stevie catches a perp in LA undercover as Coach. That’s a crossover I’m here for.

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Supergirl Sticks The Landing At the CW

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Season 2 of Supergirl had a tough task to complete in it’s first episode last night- not only did it return to television, but it also premiered on a new channel, where it filmed in a new city and introduced a beloved character to the DCTV universe. It seems almost impossible, and yet the show pulled it off nearly flawlessly. Who’s surprised? This is Supergirl, after all. And it’s time you gave it a shot.

When it premiered last season, Supergirl looked like pure cheese. Everything from her costume to it’s sunny home on CBS could be, and was, poked at. But one season full of pep talks, martians, and ice cream later and Supergirl has proved itself as a heartfelt little joy ride for comic fans and feminists alike. Last year we watched Kara Danvers optimistically live her double life as media mogul Cat Grant’s assistant by day and Supergirl by… day, learning about her powers and dropping hints about the guy in blue, her cousin Clark Kent. This season, Kara’s got a new job as a reporter, an established support system, and yes, Clark is in town. And I have to say, if the arrival of Superman is the only reason you’re interested in tuning in this time around, you’re in luck. Tyler Hoechlin is a genuinely great Superman, delivering cheesy dialogue like “lickety split” and charming everyone from Cat to Winn, all while proving to Teen Wolf viewers that he can actually smile. He’s so good, it kind of makes you wonder if he and Melissa Benoist actually are aliens, just sent here to perfectly portray the nerdiest and most adorable crime-fighting family duo the CW has ever seen. I’m just saying.

Last night’s episode proved that this show continues to be well-acted and far deeper than it looks on the surface. Sure, they still talk about things like X-Ray vision in the middle of a crowded street, and there’s a musical crossover episode coming up that might be too much for some people to handle. But they also managed to incorporate huge changes to their show without any of the heart suffering for it. If there were any doubts about how well Supergirl would fare now that it’s at the CW, I think they’ve been squashed. This is a show that consistently tells a powerful origin story while balancing a little bit of action with a little bit of charm with a little bit of complete geekiness. If you still need convincing, do yourself a favor and watch the Pilot, The Flash cross-over (it’s just so good) and the Red Kryptonite episode, and you’ll be ready to jump in to season 2. I love watching shows about horrible people doing horrible things, but isn’t it nice to watch a show that just makes you happy? An enjoyable, feel-good show doesn’t come around all the time, but Supergirl is here now. You should give it a chance.

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6 Guesses Where Evan Peters Is Hiding On ‘American Horror Story: Roanoke’

Full-disclosure: I’m a white girl who got really excited when Zac Efron tweeted a picture of his High School Musical cast yesterday. So basically, I’m still a teen. Which means I’m really tired of waiting for Evan Peters to appear on American Horror Story: Roanoke. He’s in the end credits, he dyed his hair, so where is he? I’ll admit I’d been focusing on finding Evan because the rest of the season had yet to live up to the mysterious hype- though last night upped the ante, and Cricket getting disemboweled was grade-A disgusting. For now I have a few theories of my own, though I’m really just biding my time until the big twist in episode six.

1. He’s Filming The Testimonials

Though some fans disagree, I’m fairly certain the “producer” voice we heard in episode three belonged to Cheyenne Jackson, not Evan Peters. Jackson is another confirmed cast member who has yet to appear, and it didn’t sound much like Peters. But I could get behind the idea that Peters and Jackson are two of the many crew members working on the show within the show, My Roanoke Nightmare. A big theory (the only one, really) is that the tables will turn and the actors will start getting haunted, or the fourth-wall break will uncover even more mysteries. So this really isn’t a huge stretch.

2. He’s Among The Butcher’s Crew

Maybe we haven’t yet spotted Peters because he’s in disguise as one of the many bearded, dead colonists who follow Kathy Bates around the woods. It would be weird that nobody has noticed him yet, but it’s possible he could be pulled to the forefront after some sort of plot against The Butcher herself. It wouldn’t be the first time a character’s major Mommy Issues led to murder, and Wes Bentley really hasn’t had much to do as The Butcher’s son yet.

3. He’s Going The Bust The Case Open

I’m still stuck on the thought that maybe the testimonials are a cover up, or the “dramatic re-enactments” are really happening. I don’t know in what capacity. But I’m imagining the twist revealing that this is a huge conspiracy, which can’t be too weird, considering Elias and Cricket’s dead bodies are laying on the property and nobody seems to care much. Maybe Evan will come in guns blazing and completely change the course of the show.

4. He’s a Dead Mott Ancestor

We already know that this season we’ll get more backstory on the Mott family, also known as psycho-killer Dandy from Freak Show‘s ancestors. Last night, we got a slight mention of an ‘Edward Philippe Mott’ who was our creepy house’s first occupant, but that can’t be all we get. If some undead Mott’s start showing up under the blood moon, it could be a good time for some extended storytelling starring Peters as Dandy’s great-great-grandpa. Everything is connected!

5. He’s Just Another Uber Driver

It doesn’t seem like that would be a big enough role to be featured with the main cast, but hey, Rhett Snow got his 15 seconds of fame. And somebody has to be in charge of getting Shelby and Matt out of there (seriously, why won’t they just leave already?).

6. He’s The Pig Man

This one genuinely has me the most excited. Picture all the Evan Peters Filmography gifsets on Tumblr that will have to feature Pig Man next to Tate Langdon. The big moment when someone takes the pig head off (ew) and reveals that hiding underneath is just a normal looking weirdo. His explanation about how he made the pig noise It’s all really iconic stuff! And what about what comes next- will the Pig Man be an integral part to the story? Does he have a story to tell? I think there’s a lot of material here! I’d start screen-printing your Pig Man graphic tees to wear when your ‘Normal People Scare Me’ shirt is dirty. Because with AHS, you literally never know.

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How Sitcom Relationships Impact Narrative Choices

Last night’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine saw Jake and Amy finally reuniting after six months without contact, and it was… a little awkward. Fortunately, it was also hilarious (Amy punched Jake in the the throat, Jake told Amy he kissed Holt right before kissing her) and short-lived; by the end of the episode, the two were back in sync, or in Jake’s case, as in-sync as you could be with someone who just shot you. If it was any other sitcom, the strain of being away from each other for half a year would be too much, and the characters would probably break up, only to have a big adorable reunion by the end of the season. But Brooklyn Nine-Nine has never written Jake and Amy that way, and don’t typically use their relationship for dramatic purposes like, for example, The Office might. Which is interesting to me, because if you look at all the 2000s/early 2010s sitcoms you’ll find that their relationships impact the plot in very different ways, whether it’s a deliberate writing choice or audience perception.

Focus On the Ensemble

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Since getting together at the end of season two, Jake and Amy have been a low-key piece of the larger ensemble puzzle. Brooklyn Nine-Nine gets away with this, since it’s a higher concept show- they’re NYPD officers, not “friends hanging out”- but it wouldn’t work on every show. Admittedly, they’re sometimes a little forgotten, which is bound to happen when there are cases to solve, jokes to tell and five additional main characters to flesh out in just twenty minutes. But Brooklyn Nine-Nine is not a particularly dramatic show, with the exceptions of season finales and recent three-parters, so there’s not a necessary weight that needs to sit on Jake and Amy’s shoulders. They’re fun together and they’re fun apart, and when we get an episode that expands on their relationship it’s usually a good one. Otherwise, I think we’re all content to just hear Gina and Holt spilling the hot goss.

It’s A Wonderful Life… Until It’s Not

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Is there a more perfect sitcom couple than The Office’s Jim and Pam? Excuse me, seasons four through seven of The Office’s Jim and Pam? PB + J was the relationship goal for young me. I recognized that they were real enough to be, well, real, yet I didn’t have the world knowledge to realize that in real life things couldn’t always be so perfect. Jim and Pam were made for each other, but the kind of couple that was still not completely happy with their lives. The Office took that to the next level, leading to some relationship drama that hurt to watch, but was almost needed in a show that was no longer featuring its lead actor and heading towards a decade of air time. Early on, The Office was about the workplace, but was really driven by the question of whether or not Jim and Pam would end up together. Once that question was answered, it was nice for a bit, but Andy chasing after Erin didn’t pack the same punch. Maybe Jim and Pam’s relationship suffered a little bit in the middle, but in the end they remained a couple you might actually know in real life.

Bring Out the Worst in One of Them

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The Mindy Project
came back to Hulu yesterday. I’m hesitant to start, and it’s because of Danny Castellano. Danny was never perfect, though from the first episode you knew he and Mindy were destined to be together. “You look nice,” “Go to Hell,” is a perfect little moment between them that sets up what will come. Mindy and Danny are both kind of terrible people, in a way that makes you love them. They say ridiculously dumb things for two accomplished doctors and often treat each other badly, and then are really sweet and make you root for their relationship. But after getting together they became an entirely new monster. Mindy is Mindy; she has the entitlement of a white man with a bad bitch attitude. She’s our protagonist, and she’s not going to change for any man. But Danny can and did change. He became kind of awful. He had always been super conservative and cartoon Italian, but after they had baby Leo he was even worse. His flaws were used to help cement Mindy’s decisions. Maybe it was just because Chris Messina had to go and shoot Live By Night, but his character became almost nonexistent, and now he’s engaged. Mindy Lahiri’s story isn’t about the men itself, and is about her journey surrounded by men, but still. This one hurts.

Bring Out the Worst in Both of Them

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I’m still rooting for New Girl’s Nick and Jess. Their slow build and first kiss were the reason I proclaimed this show to be one of the best. But after they got together the show was very different, and mostly the reason I stopped watching. They just didn’t work out. Where Mindy reacted off the obvious differences between her and Danny, Nick and Jess just flopped like two fish who were out of water but afraid to tell the other one they were dying. I guess that happens in friendships turned relationships, but it would have been nice to have them act like normal human beings. Let’s not forget that Jess is a Vice Principal and Nick was in law school, okay? Jake Johnson once made a very good point about their relationship failing on a story basis because it forced Nick into all the A stories, which doesn’t work on an ensemble show. I still have faith that the show has grown enough to bring us a Nick/Jess relationship that makes sense for the characters. And I’m not giving it up for a Jess/Robby romance.

It’s All About the Chase

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I love How I Met Your Mother. But I do not love Robin and Ted. Or let me rephrase- I love them to an extent. I loved them way back in season two when they were symbolized by the blue French Horn, and everyone thought their relationship would grow to be a great friendship. But in season nine, when telling he story of his deceased wife makes Ted realizes he’s still in love with his best friend’s ex wife, I did not love them. The Ted/Robin back-and-forth was fodder for most of the drama throughout HIMYM’s run, and almost every time it was brought up I rolled my eyes. This was a great show, with the best continuity and in-jokes I’ve ever seen, that just kept going back to a relationship that could never be. Robin wasn’t the mother! Every step of their relationship felt like a waste, because it wasn’t end game. Until it was. The finale was met with pretty widespread disappointment, myself included, because it was just not what we expected. Maybe if we all focused more on Marshall and Lilly, we wouldn’t still be upset about this.

Rely On Everyone Else For Drama

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The Parks and Recreation lineup has a lot of couples that would make a top ten list, but Ben and Leslie take the cake. Remember how nervous Leslie was to go on a date with Officer Dave because of her history of terrible first dates? Remember what a jerk Ben was when he first came to Pawnee, because his job was shutting down jobs? Remember how Leslie Knope is the future President of the United States, and Ben gave up his dreams for her? Yeah. They’re the best. Parks and Rec is a show that’s not too in your face about its idealism, but its there. It’s a show I used to describe as “The Office, except everyone likes each other and they’re all your favorite character.” It’s not going to send us through the ringer just to have Leslie and Ben be completely fine by the end. So it relies on the external relationships for drama. Ann moves away, leaving best friend Leslie behind. Leslie and Ron are totally at odds in the future. Ben and Leslie want the same job. The drama is all there, but it doesn’t interfere with them as a couple. It’s so nice to watch, it almost makes you forget you’re watching a TV couple fall in love by yourself.

Get Canceled, So Who Knows

05-happy-endings-w1200-h630This is genuinely the worst tactic. We’ll never know what happened to Happy Endings‘ Penny and Dave! Did they fall in love? Or was there a dramatic love triangle? I have nothing to say here, except that I’m still really sad this show was canceled.

 

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‘Pitch’ Is An Important Show To Have Right Now

Damn. You must be some Paula Abdul level of cold-hearted snake if you don’t get chills watching Pitch. I don’t care if you’re not into baseball, were more of an AC Slater kind of girl, or hate women (actually, I care a lot about that last bit!). Every time that hyped-up string score starts to play and Ginny walks out on the field, I feel like I’m ready to pick up a Major League bat myself. It’s that good. Last night’s second episode was a huge improvement on the pilot, and a sign that this show could turn out to be really wonderful. Beyond being just entertaining, Pitch is an essential show to have on TV right now.

Ginny Baker works harder than any of her male teammates. She’s the boss, and she’s incredibly talented. But she’s also imperfect. Teammate Mike has to remind her not to give up on her fast ball, which she often turns down using during a game. She tries hard to be “one of the guys,” something everyone is reminding her she clearly isn’t. She almost goes along with doing a silly segment about dugout decorating on Jimmy Kimmel Live, even though it portrays a message she’s not willing to promote. Sometimes it’s awkward watching her find her way. Her Kimmel interview is visibly uncomfortable at times, as she decides to turn down doing the segment in the moment it’s airing, and instead takes the conversation in an unscripted and more honest route. It’s cringeworthy when her teammates start asking her about her sexuality- they want to know is she a nun, a lesbian, or does she hook up in the locker room?, which is completely expected and still totally gross. But where Ginny falters, she doesn’t fail. She stands up for herself on Kimmel, making a crucial point about rape culture and respect in the process. She puts her teammates in their place, making a core crew of friends while she does it. It’s exciting to watch because her journey feels real.

Pitch itself feels real too, especially as the 2016 Election starts to really pick up. Regardless of whether or not you’re a Hillary Clinton supporter, this election is groundbreaking and will inspire countless young girls to reach for something they thought wasn’t possible. Somebody always has to be first, but that doesn’t mean it stops with them; it just means that someone can come next. And Pitch knows that, showing us all the girls waiting for Ginny’s autograph, letting her know they’ll be joining her someday. In our current political and social landscape, it rings true. Sure, Ginny’s fans are just paid actors. But it makes you think about the girls sitting at home, throwing baseballs with their brothers and being told they have no shot. It’s a fictional story, but how many boys wanted to play baseball after watching Benny ‘The Jet’ Rodriquez grow up and play for the Dodgers? What’s wrong with a little inspiration?

There’s a scene that really hit me during the Kimmel section of the episode, where Ginny’s  starting to struggle to make her point and stand up for herself on live TV. It’s intercut with a speech Mike’s giving in the locker room about cutting Ginny slack and acting like a team, instead of hating her for the attention she’s bringing them. At first, I was thrilled that someone was standing up for Ginny, and was happy for some action away from the awkward conversation she was having with Jimmy. But then she got into her groove, started making some important points, and got huge applause from the studio audience. It became clear to me that while Mike’s speech was nice, it wasn’t important. Ginny Baker can stand her own. Ginny Baker doesn’t need any help. But we need Ginny Baker.

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Can We Talk ‘About American Horror Story: Roanoke’?

Last night was the first episode of American Horror Story: Roanoke that I actually enjoyed. Admittedly, this isn’t saying much, because it’s only the third episode and I still complained that it ended way too early. But I was genuinely scared, grossed out and very curious about this season by the episode’s end. And yet I’m still certain that I still have absolutely no idea where Roanoke is going.

This AHS season has been different for obvious reasons- “nobody knew” the theme beforehand (those TMZ photos kind of ruined everything), this time around it’s a show within a show, and Evan Peters has yet to show up. Ryan Murphy has hinted that in episode six “the show has a huge turn,” which sort of ruins the surprise, but I’ll let it slide. I’m desperate for any information at this point.

Another thing that seems different this year- is everyone on the same page of not completely loving it? People are still watching, but they’re complaining about the short episodes, increasingly boring testimonials and well, lack of Evan Peters. We’re about a third of the way through now, and usually the predictions would be full steam ahead at this point; everyone had a guess about who Murder House‘s Rubber Man was, and the 10 Commandments Killer from Hotel was figured out pretty quickly. To contrast, I’m not buying any of the theories I’ve seen for Roanoke so far. It’s a stretch to say that they’re filming on location at the Murder House, and if the twist is that they’re going to show us some behind-the-scenes production moments then I’m a little unimpressed. Give me something to think about other than those pig boys!

When I say ‘can we talk about Roanoke,’ I mean seriously- can we talk about it? I’m starved for answers, ideas and discussions. Usually, there are too many theories that end up ruining a big twist (sorry Mr. Robot), but part of the fun of watching AHS is being completely wrong about where it’s going next. Three weeks until the big twist in episode six, and I’m hoping to be surprised, or else I’ll have to go back to guessing how Jon and Arya are going to reunite on Game of Thrones.

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Chad Radwell & The Case Of Superior Side Characters

Glen Powell’s Chad Radwell on Scream Queens is the best television character of the 2015-2016 season. There are definitely some competitors- Evan Peters’ Mr. March on American Horror Story made my mom laugh out loud every single time he was on screen, and literally anyone on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend could be in the running for a Top Ten Characters list. Then there’s Mr. Robot/Elliot Alderson, Quinn from UnREAL and Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl, though she’s based on source material, so maybe she doesn’t count? The thing about Chad Radwell that sets him apart from the above is that he’s barely a main character, and even came back this season only as a special guest star. And yet he remains to be one of the main reasons I tune in to Scream Queens every week.

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Scream Queens is insane. You can kind of sum up the show by Colton Haynes’ guest role, where the objectively very attractive ex-Teen Wolf/Arrow star appeared completely covered in warts and then was murdered. Anything goes, including the way the (many) characters act. It’s a crazy horror comedy, but there are definitely some out-of-character moments that you sort of just allow because you’re hopeful of what they’ll ultimately lead to. I don’t think Lea Michele knew that Hester was the killer all along last season, but she ran with that big reveal to turn her character into the amazing and insane “Hannibal Hester” we get to see now. But on a show full of these wait, what? character moments, Chad Radwell is impressively reliable. He has one consistent goal- to sleep with Chanel, because she’s hot and rich, but then cheats on her constantly. He’s the worst prat of every frat bro in Vineyard Vines, except he’s also turned on by death and wildly stupid. He’s sexist and terrible, and so absolutely awful, all the time. But he also does things like talk about missing his best bro, “dead gay Boone,” and challenges John Stamos to a “homoerotic squash game” while they’re both in the shower, and suddenly he’s your favorite character. Every episode you’re hoping he turns up cuddling with a goat or wearing a sweat band and crop top (both have happened). Scream Queens has a packed plot that doesn’t need Chad, and would benefit from having one less character to worry about, but what would the show be without him challenging a murderer while dressed like a Backstreet Boy?

Of course, Chad is not the first probably-unnecessary side character to steal the show. There’s always that one completely unrealistic person that stands out. Michael Kelso doesn’t really bring much to the That 70’s Show table in terms of plot, but he’s iconic, mostly for being really weird and dumb. New Girl has smartly branched into more of an ensemble show, but Winston Bishop continues to sort of be written in the weirdo outsider vein; half the time the show’s C-plot is Winnie the Bish hanging with Ferguson the cat, but the genius of Liz Meriwether makes it work, and Winston is my family’s favorite character. black-ish‘s Charlie forgets he has a son too much to be a person you might actually hang out with, and Veep‘s Richard Splett once improvised a tuna melt and got a lobster curry roll, but they’re both fan favorites. Creed on The Office rarely spoke, but when he did it was gold, and Kelly Kapoor was a revolving wheel of one-liners. Jane The Virgin‘s Lina says absolutely anything that comes into her head. Crazy Ex Girlfriend‘s Darryl, who ended up being great and important, started out as the “wacky boss.” Off the top of my head I can think of a whole bunch of Full House episodes where the audience aww’d at Uncle Jesse, but Joey just got to play with puppets, and Kimmy Gibbler was… Kimmy Gibbler. The list goes on.

Every show needs a light spot, and sometimes these just end up being the best characters on the show. They pop in and out, make you laugh and leave the bulk of emotion to the rest of the group. They get the lines when maybe the rest of the episode is lacking in easy jokes. You know what to expect from them and they always deliver. Sure, it’s easy to make a character like Chad Radwell seem consistent when everything that comes out of his mouth is complete nonsense. But who’s complaining? It’s a trope as old as the “quirky best friend” in a romcom, but one that’s way more enjoyable. Maybe it’s just because television writers need to have a place to put all the weird thoughts they had sitting in traffic, and that place is the side character’s mouth. Maybe we just like suspending all reality and watching a show featuring someone who would never exist in real life. Or maybe we just choose our favorite character based on who’s the most quotable. Whatever the reason, let’s pour one out for the side characters of the world who have made television viewing that much better. Plus, we all have a little bit of weirdo Chad Radwell in us, don’t we? My bit is liking the phrase ‘dead gay Boone’ a lot.

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