TV

Early Predictions for ‘This Is Us’

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I was fully expecting not to like this episode. The premiere was a really good bit of television, which is sometimes hard to beat- I gave up Quantico after the second episode, and I think everyone agrees that the Pilot of Glee was an entirely different monster than the 100+ episodes that followed. So I sat down to watch completely expecting that this episode would be just alright and I could go back to having a Tuesday without three hours of sitting on my couch. And while I was mostly right about the episode (What kind of mom visits her son unannounced on a school day at 8 AM? Seriously Rebecca?), the surprise ending managed to pull me in all over again. Where’s present-day Jess Milo Jack? Dang, This Is Us, are you going to throw us a curveball in the last minute of every episode? Are you the new How To Get Away With Murder? With all these questions and more, there’s a lot of directions this show could go in. I’m just going to lay it all out and see where this takes us.

Prediction #1: The Flasbacks Will Always Relate To Present Day

I was expecting and kind of hoping for the stories to follow each other in a linear fashion, with Jack and Rebecca figuring things out as new parents while their kids figured things out as 36 year-olds. But with all these twists still coming, it definitely makes more sense for the flashbacks to jump around in time. Still, there has to be some sort of overlying theme for each episode (it’s a basic cable drama after all), so I’m thinking they’ll stick with a pattern- Kate and Toby will have relationship problems while Jack and Rebecca do, etc.

Prediction #2: Kevin Did Something Awful To Randall

Halfway through this episode I was really wondering when they would reveal that something awful happened between Randall and the twins, because I couldn’t recall them ever referring to him other than The Manny poster in Randall’s daughter’s bedroom. The flashback was about, among other things, how 8 year-old Kevin never stood up for his brother, so I figured they were going to punch up their relationship somehow. In the end we just Kevin admitting “I was never a good brother to you,” which could be innocent enough, but I feel like this could still go totally South with a reveal that something bad happened. Kevin hazed Randall for laughs at a college party! Kevin publicly disowned Randall because he was adopted! Kevin took advantage of Randall because he’s too nice! The opportunities are endless.

Prediction #3: Kevin Is Going To Move In With Randall

Kevin said he wanted to go into theater, so who knows? Maybe he’ll move to the East Coast and hang out with Randall, which will not only interconnect the stories more, but will also help him stop being Kate and Toby’s third wheel.

Prediction #4: Jack Is Dead

This one is kind of obvious. I’m leaning towards ‘dead’ and not ‘divorced,’ because this is a tear-jerker of a show and they want you to weep. Also, Rebecca still had the moon necklace, which either means she’s still in love with Jack and present-day husband Miguel is completely clueless, or she’s allowed to still be in love with Jack because he’s dead. I think we can all agree that’s something Miguel would be okay with.

Prediction #5: Jack Is Dead Because Miguel Killed Him!

Probably not but wouldn’t that be crazy!

Prediction #6: Kate Will Break Up With Toby But DON’T WORRY They’ll Get Back Together

Every show needs a will they/won’t they. I guess it’s not Rebecca and Jack, because of Miguel, and I’m praying it’s not Randall and Beth, because they’re pretty perfect. Somewhere around midseason Kate will cut ties because of the weight thing, but it won’t last. Hopefully.

Prediction #7: William Is Going To Die Tragically

We all agree on this. Moving on.

Prediction #8: William Will Save Randall’s Daughter and Then Die Tragically

Little kid with asthma. Biological grandfather with stomach cancer. TWO scenes of little kid using her inhaler, one with the help of biological grandfather. There’s something there.

Prediction #9: They’re Going To Keep Doing That ‘Big Three’ Chant

And honestly, I’m going to hate it a little bit.

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Fall TV Week: TGI-Thursday

We have SuperGood Thursdays and TGIT? Okay, technically last night wasn’t Shonda Rhimes’ “TGIT,” because Scandal won’t be back until 2017, but it was TGIT to me because NBC aired two fantastic comedies back to back, reviving just a little bit of the We Peacock Comedy block from the golden days. Regardless of what we’re calling it, it was a better night for TV than Wednesday.

Superstore, Thursdays at 8 on NBC
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I don’t personally know anyone who watches Superstore, which is a huge disappointment, because it is really great. It has a fantastic and real ensemble, hilarious one-liners, America Ferrara, and is a workplace comedy which is easily my favorite kind. I like that we can watch a group of people on strike an expression of discontentedness that will actually impact their lives, while they also drag down anti-rights bigots. Cast member Colton Dunn isn’t actually in a wheelchair, but this show feels important and representative, and it’s funny as hell.

Grey’s Anatomy, Thursdays at 8 on ABC
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I watched 11 seasons of Grey’s in two months. But I didn’t spend those two months watching Alex Karev’s character development to have him go to JAIL. But to jail he went, and admittedly he deserved it because he fully busted DeLuca’s pretty face. And with a courtroom scene set for next episode, I’m still waiting for Shonda to crossover her shows (Karev’s lawyer could have been Annalise! Derek could have met with President Fitz instead of Obama!). Despite the light of my life Karev being put behind bars, this episode was also a strong opener, and I’m hoping the rest of the season focuses as much on Meredith and Alex’s friendship, which stands to be one of the best parts of this show since day one, and how it will turn into a romantic relationship, which stands to be the Grey’s dream I will not give up on. I’ll also be content with this season if it gives me more cute Kepner-Avery family moments. #JaprilTheMovie lives on.

The Good Place, Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC
Can they air three episodes of this show every week? Even if it’s just for Janet’s fun facts, including how Christopher Columbus is in The Bad Place and “Fun Fact: Janet is me”? Kristen Bell is having the best time being a bad person in a good place, and I love how serialized this is becoming. Cliffhangers on a sitcom? Count me in. Now to help fellow bad person Jianyu, who I’m thrilled has finally spoken, because as we all know being a mute monk can only be funny for so long.

Pitch, Thursdays at 9 on FOX
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Pitch opens with messages from the two most powerful women in America- Hillary Rodham Clinton and… Ellen DeGeneres? Anyway, the question the show seems to want to answer is whether or not Ginny Baker will get added to that list. It might be too early to tell (how many times can Mark-Paul Gosselaar say “ass slapper” before everyone simultaneously unplugs their TV?) but with a MLB partnership this show feels realer than most. The flashbacks were a little much and I cringed at some dialogue- he said I’m an ass slapper!!- but because I’m a sucker, I also did things like get chills when Ginny sees her jersey for the first time. Plus, all those baseball-playing extras are attractive, and I can’t look at Ali Larter without thinking of Andy Bernard and Michael Scott, neither of which are bad things.

How To Get Away With Murder, Thursdays at 10 on ABC
Summer sucks when you’re terrified of being arrested as the accomplice to several murders, doesn’t it? It’s been a while since we last saw our murderous gang, and I had forgotten a good amount of details, but I have a feeling that this season will amp up the drama after the slightly confusing lull that was season 2. We were already hit with a good few mysteries: Who is Meggy, and why wasn’t I cast as Alfie Enoch’s girlfriend? Who is hanging up those “KILLER” posters of Annalise? When will Wes and Laurel hook up again? Who was that hit-man that my sister described as “an old Lin Manuel Miranda”? And oh yeah, #WhoWillDie? My odds are on Connor (he’s just too good for this world) though I kind of hope it’s Asher (sorry bro), but the stakes are high this year and I love it. Plus, our kids are real practicing lawyers now! Go get ’em, killers!

Still waiting for Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Saturday Night Live to return (without Taran, tragically), but that’s my week. It’s been real!

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Fall TV Week: Wednesday Horror Story

I don’t know if anyone has realized this, but there’s like, a lot of shows on TV right now. There’s not as much as Tuesday, but the 10 PM Wednesday block is stacked. Though, I now know I should have used my time turner to watch Designated Survivor live instead of My Roanoke Nightmare. American Horror Story: I Couldn’t Live-Tweet A Good Show.

Speechless, Wednesdays at 8:30 on ABC
It’s fun to see how many new “kooky white family” Pilots air each season. Imagine the pitch:

We need groundbreaking television! Guys… I think I have it. Please, tell us! So there’s this family right? Great. What Else. And they’re like, a super kooky white family. Brilliant. Keep Going. But here’s the twist. They’re getting a divorce/are superheroes/it’s the 80’s/they’re serial killers, etc. etc. etc.

You get it. Speechless sort of fits into the “kooky white family” trope, so it really wasn’t high on my list, but with all the early praise I had to tune in. And I’m glad I did, because unlike most kooky white family shows, it actually is groundbreaking. The DiMeo’s are tough but sweet, and I was genuinely stunned when I found out that Micah Fowler actually has cerebral palsy rather than just playing it. No offense Artie Abrams, but that’s a big deal. Speechless begs the age-old question: if you’re a family sitcom that’s not on Wednesdays on ABC, do you even try?

black-ish, Wednesdays at 9:30 on ABC
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The Johnson’s are the best, even despite the fact that this premiere was one long commercial for Disney World, planned for no reason other than the fact that the show airs on ABC (sidenote: nothing will beat the meta Full House Disney World special, where DJ imagines Steve as Aladdin, which is funny because he was the character’s voice actor). Regardless of the plot setup this episode had me laughing out loud, from Bow walking around with Mickey hands and feet eating a turkey leg to Charlie describing how he’s lived in the office for two months because his house is haunted. The family lesson about having fun together is cheesy as hell, but I still got a little choked up watching them enjoy the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle. C’mon, I’m not a robot.

American Horror Story: Roanoke, Wednesdays at 10 on FX
Womp. That’s how I feel about this season. I get that it’s a horror anthology show in it’s sixth season and you have to maintain some surprise and introduce new elements to keep the audience entertained. But repeating familiar plots has never hurt this show before (we’re all fine with having two Evan Peters ghosts roaming haunted buildings in LA), so changing the format this late in the game feels a little unnecessary. I’m assuming, and hoping, that there’s going to be a huge twist at the end that reveals My Roanoke Nightmare is Billie Dean Howard’s new TV show, or the talking heads are coverups for some horrifying conspiracy, or we find out it’s just a fever dream Matt Bomer is recounting to his therapist, Darren Criss. But for now, I don’t care about any of the characters because they all seemingly live to tell the tale. I’m not watching reruns of Discovery Channel’s A Haunting for a reason. Just give Lily Rabe more to do, and show me Evan Peters already. Also, I kind of miss the theme song.

Designated Survivor, Wednesdays at 10 on ABC
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I am EXCITED about this show. All caps excited. I was a little young to get into 24 when it was on, but there’s something in the air and I think it’s this show uniting America as one nation under President Kirkman. I typically don’t care about fictional politics unless they’re Selina Meyer’s on Veep, but I’ve been fully obsessed with the presidential hierarchy for years so I feel like they just made this show for me. There was so much going on but my early guess is that the army general wants to kill Kiefer Sutherland because his son has been illegally selling drugs to teenage terrorists and somehow Maggie Q is involved because she seemed pretty chill for someone who just witnessed her friends/family/husband (?) die. This show is going to get so juicy and I cannot wait.

Mr. Robot, Season Finale also at 10 on USA
Ugh, I love Mr. Robot. But not this episode. Rami Malek is fantastic, and he deserved that Emmy. But not for long, winding conversations with Tyrell Wellick, who I was thrilled was barely in the season because his storylines put me to sleep. Last season’s reveal of who Mr. Robot really was was shocking, and Elliott & Mr. Robot’s dynamic this season has been interesting, but it’s not the same. There were so many  questions that needed answering, so many things at risk, so many and now I’m just fully confused. Is Stage Two getting Elliott to fall in love with Tyrell? I didn’t even catch the end-credits scene because I was glad the episode was over, and while I’m intrigued for what the Trenton/Mobley/Leon story means, I also still have no idea what any of it means. And I’m going to forget everything by next year.

Thank God It’s Thursday.

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Fall TV Week: Peak Tuesdays

Tuesday is arguably the worst day of the week. My deep-seated hate probably goes back to Tuesdays being band practice day in grade school, but you can’t deny that it’s basically Monday without the general excuse of it being a Monday. But once it hits primetime, Tuesdays are the best. All the classics have aired on Tuesdays. American Idol! House! Glee! Law & Order SVU! The Real O’Neals! Everyone agrees these are the most iconic shows!

Tuesdays are just better than Mondays.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Tuesdays at 8 on FOX
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Damn, this show has really committed. I was fully expecting to see just a little bit of the tail-end of Greg and Larry’s Jake and Holt’s new witness protection life in Florida before packing up and shipping back to Brooklyn to meet up with the rest of the gang. I was at least expecting to drop in and check on Boyle’s new adopted baby or how Amy has been doing without Jake for 6 months. But surprisingly, we got a full episode dedicated to Jake and Holt dealing with their new lives alone, without a single check in to the precinct. And it was good! Andy Samberg and Andre Braugher have one of the funniest dynamics on the show, so a whole episode starring them was not a thing to complain about. I’m excited to catch up with the rest of the squad next episode, but this week Jake had frosted tips, Jorma from The Lonely Island had a guest spot, and Jake got to call Holt “Mr. Fart” so all in all, it was a win.

New Girl, Tuesdays at 8:30 on FOX
Aw man, guys, New Girl is the best. Jess is still acting like a freakin’ nut around Nick even though she’s a grown ass woman and Winston is still doing things like buying a boat instead of hurting someone’s feelings, but I’m willing to overlook it all because it’s just so good. And truthfully, Nick has returned, without Regan thank God, looking like a human being who hasn’t eaten garbage off the ground recently, so I’d be reacting the same to him as our heartbroken Jess. It’s only the first episode, so am I getting ahead of myself if I say I’m optimistic that this season will be the one that brings Nick and Jess together and does it right this time? He dedicated his book to her! Even though we don’t know if the book is Z Is For Zombie, that was the sweetest. I’m a little sad that Cece and Schmidt are moving out of the Loft, but thankfully Winston will still be around, swallowing the gator teeth Nick brought back from New Orleans. Now I just need Apple to create an emoji that’s smiling and clutching its heart, because that’s the only emotion I have watching this show and I need to tweet about it.

Scream Queens, Tuesdays at 9 on FOX
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This premiere had almost all the elements of last season, and yet it is already somehow lightyears better. And that’s without an appearance by the best character of the 2015-2016 season, Chad Radwell. I mean yeah, it starts out with another ridiculous flashback (a doctor needs to party that badly that he would just dump a patient in a swamp on Halloween?), the ‘Green Maniac’ is yet again following the Color + Generic Villain naming scheme, and there’s another pregnant woman from the past that probably has ties to the present. But if you ever need a refresher on how to watch a Ryan Murphy production, just remember that Blaine Anderson once had a fever dream where he sang Queen with a group of puppets and was kind of okay with it. His shows are wild, and I’m obsessed with them. This episode was gross (RIP Cecily Strong!) and hilarious, which in the end is all I really want. Plus I can’t hate on anything that revives Taylor Lautner, who was apparently just recently released from the holding cell he’s been in since Twilight, because seriously where the hell has he been other than that weird appearance at the AMA’s that I’m convinced was a hologram. I’m going to need more of Lea Michele’s Hester and the aforementioned Chad, but for now I’m just going to sit back and thank God and Ryan Murphy for getting rid of Grace and her Dad. Amen.

This Is Us, Tuesdays at 10 on NBC
I really didn’t want to like this show. It was weird how the trailer got so many views, right? And it has the same title as the One Direction documentary, and all I thought it was about was having the same birthday as other people, which is obvious. But by the end I was,as the kids say, shook! I didn’t weep like everybody else on my timeline but this show really tugged at the heart strings and managed to pull off a pretty significant twist while creating a genuine connection to the characters, which is a lot to expect from one Pilot episode. Sterling K Brown doesn’t need me to remind everyone he’s a good actor, but he is good, and I can finally watch a show for Milo Ventimiglia instead of being a Gilmore Girls fan and only watching that episode where Luke pushes him into the lake. Mandy Moore deserves good things, and Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz were the cutest family goals. This Is Me making the worst joke ever but admitting I made a mistake, fully enjoyed the show, and will watch again.

I’ll be making good use of my Hulu account when The Flash and The Mindy Project come back on October 4th. Tuesdays are lit y’all.

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Fall TV Week: Monday Night Lights

It’s happening. I’m finally truly happy. My crops have grown, I just got a raise, and Fall TV is back. Just when I thought I’d be stuck spending my nights watching The Man From UNCLE and every other movie on the Starz App forever, fall TV swoops in to save me. I’m #blessed!

I’ll spend my week trying to watch as much as possible while still maintaining some semblance of a life. Here’s what I watched and what I thought, because there just aren’t enough people sharing absolutely unnecessary feelings this week (looking @ u, Donald Trump Jr).

Dancing With The Stars, Mondays at 8 on ABC
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Technically this show started last week, and technically I’m only watching for my boo Ryan Lochte, but it counts. In the past I’ve really only ever watched DWTS when my Grandma was over or to see this absolutely amazing video of Corbin Bleu dancing to One Direction that basically sums up all of my interests. But I, along with the rest of America, am intrigued to see what kind of tantics (his words, not mine) Ryan Lochte gets into this year. And from almost getting attacked to bouncing around dressed as Kermit, he’s already delivered! Let’s be honest though- there’s only one way this show will end, and it’s with Laurie Hernandez gettin’ that gold mirror ball (?).

The Good Place, Thursdays at 8:30 on NBC
Ooh boy, are we lucky to have three episodes of this show airing this week (two special airings last night, one at it’s regular time Thursday). This is the kind of show that has a concept that makes you wonder for a second how long it can last. But only a second, because then you remember it’s created by Michael Schur and starring the wonderful Kristen Bell and you’re like ohh, we’re fine! I already love this show, which probably had some of the best little gags and genuine moments since Michael Schur’s other masterpiece Parks & Recreation. I’m really invested in where this show goes next, especially whether or not it’s revealed that Bell’s terrible Eleanor is not really from Arizona, but is actually from Eagleton.

That’s about it since Jane The VirginSupergirl and Conviction don’t start until October, and I’m not watching Kevin Can Wait. So I guess I’ll just rewatch that Corbin Bleu clip a few more times and count the hours until the Brooklyn Nine-Nine squad is back on my television again.

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Books, TV

A Time For Starks

It’s Wednesday of the week between (possibly one of) the greatest episodes of Game of Thrones ever and the finale. So there’s a lot of think-pieces and questions needing answers floating around there. Is Sansa pregnant? Will Jaime kill Cersei? Where is the wildfire?! As much as I need these questions answered, there’s one question that’s more important to ask, and that’s this: why are people hating on the Starks?

Whether they’re your favorite house or not, it’s been set up from the beginning that the Starks are important. We spend most of the entire first episode, and most of the first chapters of A Game of Thrones, in Winterfell. The series starts with the honorable Ned Stark fulfilling his duties of Warden of the North in front of his young sons. Even our first cliffhanger is “is Bran Stark alive?!” He’s a seven year old boy in a series about kings and warriors. Why should that even be important?

And yet it is, partially because we’re not sociopaths who want to see the death of children, and partially because the Starks are crucial to the story. They were the example of goodness and honor in Westeros, where most people didn’t feel the same. They were a cute family who just wanted to be reunited, and over the course of five seasons weaved in and out of each other’s lives, just missing each other so many aggravating times. And now that they’re finally making their way back to each other, people seem to be wanting their story to take a different course. “They’re all back to where they started,” people complain. Yeah. And…? We’ve known from the start that there must always be a Stark in Winterfell, and now we’re finally getting back to it. If you’re like me, noticing that slowly but surely each ‘villain’ is getting picked off one by one, you recognize that the culmination of the series has to be heading toward one big brawl against the White Walker army. Genuinely, who is more important to that story than the Starks? Jon, with his Valyrian steel sword and Night’s Watch knowledge; Bran, with his connection to the Night King and all-seeing wisdom, Benjen, who’s halfway to becoming a White Walker himself; Winterfell, the closest stronghold to the terrors beyond the wall.

All their stories are wrapping up neatly, too. Arya has completed her training and knows where she is- and thank God, because I couldn’t have handled one more section with the Waif. Sansa, who’s been brutally abused as long as we’ve known her, finally got the revenge she needed, and with her first kill and war-time strategies she’s becoming a real player in the game. Jon may not be the best leader, but I’m behind him, and we’re so close to the reveal that he’s half Targaryen I’m sure that Drogon can even feel it. You may not love them, but they’re finally home.

And hell yeah I clapped when Sansa had Ramsay’s face ripped off by dogs. It’s about time the good guys got some wins.

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Why Does The Mindy Project’s Cast Keep Disappearing?

Full disclosure: I’m a few episodes behind on The Mindy Project. Partially because I’m busy; mostly because Mindy and Danny are essentially finished and I’m bitter. This is the problem I had with New Girl (and I regretted it) so I know I’ll be back, but I just… need some time to get over it.

Today it was announced that Chris Messina would no longer be a series regular on the show, but instead would show up in Fall’s season 5 as a “recurring guest star,” whatever that means? As heartbreaking as this news is, I can’t help thinking why this show is dropping more characters left and right than Game of Thrones. Don’t believe me? Please tell me where any of these people are. I’m waiting.

Anna Camp as Gwen, Mindy’s Best Friend: Where you at? Other than preparing to marry Skylar Astin? Gwen’s kid should be BFF’s with Leo. Come on, that would be cute.

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Stephen Tobolowsky as Dr. Marc Shulman: Remember when they had a boss???

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Amanda Setton as Shauna, The Receptionist: She liked Danny, and then got fired? Maybe? Her situation seems a little unethical, though it’s not the worst thing these guys have ever done.  

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Zoe Jarman as Betsy: Literally disappeared into thin air. Can someone check on her? Send out an Amber Alert?

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Adam Pally as Peter Prentice: I mean yeah, he’s still around, but I need a real explanation why he’s no longer in the office. Thanks!

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Now we can add Danny to that list, and that’s just the series regulars! How about the Deslaurier brothers, Mindy’s brother, Danny’s mom and brother, DOT!, plus all the random celebrity cameos that filter in and out for a laugh (#neverforget that Seth Meyers has now appeared twice as two different people). This show has only been on for four seasons and yet it’s already changed its roster more than the Panther/Lion split in Dillon Texas. By the end of its run, it’ll just be Mindy & Morgan hanging out alone, wondering where everyone they used to interact with disappeared to. Actually, that wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

 

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I’m Glad I Started Watching New Girl Again

Sometime around September 2011, I became obsessed with FOX’s freshman show New Girl. And somewhere around April 2014, I gave up on it. I don’t think I’m alone in this. My mom, sister and our friends stopped watching then, too. This was season 3, around the time that token will they/won’t they pairing Nick & Jess broke up and then went on a couple’s cruise together. Coach had, seemingly weirdly, just returned. Cece and Schmidt weren’t together. Either I was just too busy with schoolwork to put in the effort, or it was just enough overload to give up all together. Season 4 came and went. I saw online that it ended with Cece and Schmidt getting engaged, but the only episode I actually watched was the last 15 minutes of “Spiderhunt” that I sort of left on as background noise before the finale of Parks & Recreation. I remember thinking they’re all just standing around making sauce. Now I know why I stopped watching this, as if I needed to justify why I forgot about the show that gave us panic moonwalking.

And then season 5 was pushed to a January premiere. I have next to no idea how the network executives arrange their schedules, but as a viewer this always feels like a bad sign. Glee‘s final season got a short January release, and so did Parks & Rec (even New Girl creator Liz Meriwether assumed they were going to get canceled). Even though this seemed like a bad omen, the premiere coincided with season 4 going up on Netflix, so out of pure boredom I figured I’d give it another shot.  If New Girl was going to get canceled and the season 5 finale would it be its goodbye, I’d try to catch up and see it get sent off. Turns out it wasn’t canceled, and I did catch up, and thank God.

Now that I’m all caught up and have seen Schmidt’s Long Island speech, I can say with certainty that New Girl isn’t a perfect show, but it feels really close.  My love of sitcoms might cloud my judgement a little bit, but New Girl takes the cliche and the weird and completely commits. It has everything you could ever want on a comedy (weird living arrangements! Two straight dudes who are in love with each other! A guy who’s best friend is a cat!) and yet somehow keeps coming up with ways to punch you in the gut and make you want to move in with a bunch of strangers. Last night’s double header “Wedding Eve”/”Landing Gear” was no exception. “Landing Gear” took the Doucebag Jar that was so perfectly and hilariously introduced way back in episode 1 and smashed it (literally- it was a Jewish wedding, after all) as Cece & Schmidt got married. “Wedding Eve” brought back both Tran, the mute old man who Nick has an inexplicable friendship with, and True American, the greatest game nobody knows how to play. Even Coach- Coach!- came back to celebrate and remind everyone that he really is the best. There was a naked Winston, more Zombie novels and an almost-rekindling of the Nick/Jess romance. There was Peter Gallagher, romantic gestures and classic mixups. It was everything you’d want from a finale in a season of television that gave it all.

And by the way, “Spiderhunt” was one of the best episodes of season 4. New Girl, I love you. Thanks for taking me back.

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Television & Surprise Reveals, AKA the Jon Snow Predicament

How do you pull off a big reveal? Not a hypothetical question, I’m really asking: how do you do it? I can only image how much easier it was back in the Dallas days, where there were no Twitter rumors or grainy iPhone photos from the set that could spoil what you’ve spent months and millions on hiding from your dedicated audience. Poor Kit Harington has been bombarded with questions for close to a full year, and though his lying finally paid off and (spoiler alert) Jon Snow came back to life last night, was it all worth it?

I’ve recently read the A Song Of Ice & Fire series that Game of Thrones is based on, a summer’s worth of train rides intended to tide me over before season 5, since I had binged 1-3 right before season 4 began and was in desperate need for a fix. So it’s all relatively fresh to me (except the Greyjoy stuff, I’m sorry but I skimmed), particularly the cliffhanger ending of Jon Snow being stabbed to death by some choice traitors of the Night’s Watch. Not that anyone would need a refresher on that- if I never see that image of Jon Snow dying in the snow ever again, I’ll be good!- but when the scene concluded season 5 I was less than surprised. I also wasn’t worried at all. Was it because I firmly believe in R+L=J, something that the show couldn’t get away with not revealing eventually? Was it because Harington would be spotted in Belfast more times than anyone could count? Why didn’t I care that one of my favorite characters had just been killed off a show that infamously kills favorite characters? And why does it matter?

I don’t watch The Walking Dead, but I have a feeling they’ll run into a similar issue next season, when it’ll be revealed who Negan brutally murdered at the end of last season. From the internet’s reaction, it was sort of a cop-out to have an entire season leading up to a death that is never seen. Are viewers going to find out who is dead at the beginning of the premiere episode? Mid-season finale? I’m interested in how they’re going to raise the tension for some that everyone’s already expecting- something that Thrones currently has to tackle with The Mountain, a character I’m fairly certain everybody knows has been reincarnated by Qyburn as Cersei’s champion, but hasn’t been explicitly revealed to the audience. What’s the hold up?! At least with Jon, we got some answers. My sister guessed during the episode that they’d make us sweat out Snow’s fate for one more week, and I was thrilled to see that they didn’t. Jon Snow dying was a good cliffhanger, regardless of how much you believed he was really dead, but his resurrection mostly just made me glad that we wouldn’t be heading into another week of “not knowing” if Jon Snow was “really dead.” After a while, all the waiting lends itself to disappointment and wasted time.

It brings to mind similar reveals this television season, specifically The Flash. It’s big-bad reveal this season was sort of a wash- Earth 2’s Jay Garrick wasn’t really Jay Garrick, he was Hunter Zolomon, AKA Zoom! But the audience already knew this, having figured it out weeks before Barry, so the lead-up and discovery of his secret was a little lukewarm (I’m really not going to blame The Flash on that, considering the story was really only bogged down by obligatory network prep for the Legends of Tomorrow spinoff, but I digress-). Maybe the audience is just getting too smart. After all, everything I’m referring to here is based on a pre-existing written series. We can’t expect the source material to be completely re-written just to keep TV audiences on their toes. But at the same time… Can’t we? If Hollywood is going to keep adapting, they’re going to need to not get lazy about the execution. Or maybe just don’t give us an important, beloved character and expect the actor not to cut his hair immediately after dying on screen… You know what, maybe audiences are just asking for a lot these days. Anyways, long live Jon Snow.

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TV

‘It’s Always Sunny’ On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

I just finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and though that too much longer than it should have, I’m definitely not alone in feeling that this season was a huge improvement from last year- which is saying a lot, considering it’s what gave us Peeno Noir and the world’s catchiest theme song. I didn’t think UKS could get much better, but I should know never to underestimate Tina Fey (and so should Taylor Swift).

There was something really fresh and 30 Rock-ish about the writing this season, especially in Kimmy’s little “what the huh?” and weird gags like Titus putting a mannequin arm up his sleeve so he could hold Mikey’s hand while eating a sandwich. But another thing I found myself realizing as I watched this season was how Kimmy and her friends reminded me of another wacky group living in semi-squalor who are kind of just not good people: the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia gang. Obviously, the UKS group is not as villainous- they’ve never gotten addicted to crack just to get welfare or tried to pick up girls at an abortion rally. But both shows have put humorous twists on serious topics- racism, sexism, gentrification. Even observing character to character, Kimmy is basically a non-violent Charlie Kelly, right? She’s not quite a sociopath but couldn’t the self-absorbed Jacqueline easily go toe to toe with Dennis Reynolds? And are you not surprised Frank didn’t think of making tenants live in a tug-boat basement before Lillian did?

Let’s look at the facts. This season, Jacqueline gives her son an ADHD drug so they don’t have to spend time together, and then trashes a store with him to give him back his joy. Later, she ruins someone’s Lupus Awareness Awareness benefit by having all the married men meet their mistresses at her benefit, just so she can reclaim her top-dog status. Kimmy and Dong have sex in the back of a cop car, and he gets deported. Titus goes to the funeral of a colleague, where they’re literally dumping the body into the East River. Kimmy watches fellow mole-woman Gretchen do coke with a “junkyard Elmo.” Tina Fey shows up as an alcoholic therapist who drinks on the job. These people are kind of screwed up, and yet it’s funny as hell to watch.

Life’s similar at Paddy’s Pub, where the Philadelphia characters are somehow not in jail after all this time. They’re bad people, and it’s really entertaining because after 12 years they haven’t changed at all. I’m personally not bothered by their craziness (it’s a commentary on society, guyssss) but for some viewers they’re just too mean. You’re not rooting for them, because you hope their schemes don’t work- you don’t want them to get away with tricking the Health Inspector, because it’s disgusting, but you can’t look away either. Life is good for Charlie, Mac, Dennis and Dee, because they’re skating by and fine with it, but it isn’t for everyone else. You’re just left hoping you never run into anyone like them on the street.

On Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, life is always sunny, for everyone. Jacqueline trashes a store, but it’s to bond with her son. The benefit she ruins is ultimately so she can raise money for her Native American tribe. That funeral Titus goes to- Ice T and the crew of Law and Order: SVU are there to pay their respects, and Ice T plays the saxophone. Gretchen becomes the leader of her own cult, which ends up being a positive, and Leah Remini joins. Tina Fey’s Dr. Andrea actually does end up helping Kimmy. Even Dong’s deportation ends up being just a minor setback. I’m sure he’ll return somehow, because that’s how life works on Kimmy. Nothing that terrible ever really happens, and it works for the audience, too. We’re rooting for them the whole time.

Tina Fey and Robert Carlock have created a world where bad things happen, and bad things are done, but through Kimmy’s bright-eyed view on the world it all comes across as harmless and in good fun. It’s not one of the darkest shows on TV (though looming ahead for next season is Kimmy’s divorce from the imprisoned Reverend), and of course it draws similarities to other shows, but it gets away with achieving something positive. Talking about serious subjects, while keeping it light, and keeping you laughing is no easy task, but Kimmy pulls it off. It’s the worst, laziest pun I could come up with, but that really is unbreakable.

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