This is my first commentary/review of a web series. That’s right, I have finally entered the 21st century. Watch out 22nd century, I’m coming for you.
Husbands started its second season in August. The show is a comedy about two gay men who unexpectedly get married in Vegas, made possible by a new federal equality amendment. Wholesome beginnings. One of them, Brady, is a baseball star with the Dodgers, the other is an actor named Cheeks. Cheeks is flamboyant and totally out there (could you guess from his name?). Brady only came out a year ago and is more pragmatic and reserved.
They decide to stay together for the cause, not wanting to undermine the whole movement over their drunken asses. But here’s the second catch – they’ve only been dating for six weeks. Whuuuuuck? I have a feeling things are going to get craaaazy up in here.
Husbands Series Premiere
Season 2 opens with Brady asking Cheeks to tone down the gay because his over-the-top tendencies could jeopardize Brady’s career. “This is not children’s filth!” screams one of those million moms on television after Cheeks tweet-insta-pins a photo of the two. Cheeks argues that he is being himself:
I’ve spent so many years branding myself as someone who embraces stereotypes because disregarding society in favor of one’s authenticity is a very important step towards self-love and personal empowerment.
Personally, I find it hard to believe that Cheeks’s personality is truly authentic and I question if it’s fueled in part by celebrity culture, where people flaunt themselves all over the place – men, women, gay, straight. It comes off as vain and immature, and not very amusing. On the flipside; however, having to pretend to be someone you’re not isn’t an option either. Brady can be so inconsiderate, God.
This points to one of strengths of the writing and character development on Husbands. Viewers can see both sides of the conflict and understand where both Brady and Cheeks are coming from in their struggles to make their relationship work on a personal level and while under the scrutiny of the public.
The main qualm I have with Husbands is the rather uninspired story lines. Besides the newish-for-television element of a gay couple, the rest of the show is pretty formulaic. The jokes and scenarios are standard couples buffoonery, personality clashes – pretty basic new relationship material – which is fine, it’s just kind of been there, done that.
I’ve never been a fan of opposites attract couples comedy. Maybe that’s why I like the dynamics on Modern Family – gay and straight (although I don’t see how both wives being stay-at-home moms is very modern). To stick with the gay theme, take Cam and Mitchell. They have the same power struggles and personality clashes as Brady and Cheeks, but the humor goes beyond that. Things happen outside of their differing methods of self-expression. Maybe it’s celebrity couple versus regular people couple. Or maybe it’s because show creators Brad Bell and Jane Espenson chose to have Husbands solely focused on the dynamics of being an out, gay, celebrity couple, when their livelihood depends on their public image. Regardless, I’m not much for pillow talk.
What Modern Family doesn’t have, which Husbands has in spades, is real displays of affection. The husbands on Husbands kiss a lot. Cam and Mitchell hug each other the way they would their grandmothers – and that’s all they do. Brady and Cheeks’s relationship is not network TV gay marriage. These guys kiss, touch each other – you know, that stuff people in love are wont to do.
I definitely give Husbands points for bravery and delivery style. Putting this on the web instead of shopping it around to cable networks only to have it inevitably watered down was a smart move. And the short, snappy episodes are a perfect length for web viewers. The episodes in season one are Super Bowl commercial length. It’s a good tactic to hook a web audience and it works with the pacing of the story.
Behind the Scenes – Season 2, Episode 1
So, in closing, do I think Husbands is comedy gold? Not exactly. There are some memorable lines and genuinely funny moments, but the rest of the humor is pretty unremarkable. Is the show groundbreaking? Sure. It goes farther in pushing same-sex marriage into the mainstream than any show on television has ever attempted – or has and has been shot down. So I say you go, Husbands, go be your funny(ish), gay self, and don’t ever change. Well maybe just a little. Sometimes change is good.
Husbands Season 2, Episode 2
One of the best parts about watching the Summer Olympics on NBC is getting a first look at the new fall shows, as it seems every third commercial is a promo for The New Normal, Revolution or Guys with Kids.
But there’s one show premiering in the fall that sees the return of a huge star for NBC.
Perry plays a sports radio host.
He’s emotionally stunted.
Sounds familiar, but go on….
HIs wife died in a car crash while texting.
Seems like Hollywood is really picking up on the texting while driving is bad. Please, go on….
He is forced to go to group therapy to work out his issues and learn to be a team player.
The therapist is hot.
Of course there’s a crazy cat lady in group therapy. Why is there never a crazy dog lady? There is something mentally unhinged with women who refer to themselves in the third person, as “Mommy”, to their tiny dogs. You don’t have to tell him what to call you, he’s never going to speak. I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten a burrito bigger than those rat-faced weirdos.
So many elements of this show sound like a repackaging of the failed Mr. Sunshine that Perry starred in last year. And a lot of that was Chandler Bing only richer and more suave (or was supposed to be at least).
Now I have no problem with NBC making The Chandler Bing Show. I still don’t know why Chandler never had a guest appearance on the laugh-out-loud hilarious Friends followup, Joey. They were best friends and they didn’t even exchange a phone call? Must have been the time zone difference.
Sadly, Mr. Go On doesn’t star Alison Janney, whom I thought was brilliant on Sunshine. But, I’m moving on, and I hope Go On does as well instead of rehashing the same character elements (I don’t have super high hopes because the show’s creator was created by Scott Silveri, an executive producer on Friends. He also did Joey. Clearly he is having difficulty getting past that show.)
If Go On can avoid stereotyping characters, give Matthew Perry a beyond shallow role and avoid a romantic tryst with the therapist lady (really, Hollywood, again?) this show could actually go on to be something enjoyable (see what I did there?). Otherwise, see you next pilot season, Matthew Perry. Maybe they could just make his role on The Good Wife bigger – it’s like The West Wing all over again!
Update: I’m currently developing a sitcom about crazy dog ladies and guys. I’m thinking Matthew Perry can star as the critical, emotionally aloof, joke-cracking television executive who is forced to develop a reality show that follows the dog people through their obsession and unnatural relationships with their pet-children.
The Atlantic hit it so right on what shows and actors will be wrongfully not nominated for an Emmy, it reminded me of why I so often do not watch the awards show. I mean usually it’s because I forget they’re on, but it’s also because they never take a chance any of the really deserving shows or actors.
Matt Czuchry is so strong as Cary Agos on The Good Wife yet he’s often overshadowed by Chris Noth and Alan Cumming’s characters. I remember when he was a wee boy on Gilmore Girls. He played a similar, you can be a smarmy asshole, but really you’re a pretty nice guy, and alright, I do like you, character.
I already wrote a post about how I’ve been progressively warming to Happy Endings, but I don’t think it deserves a Best Comedy nomination yet. There are still a few kinks to be worked out plot and characterwise. Where it shines is the cutting dialogue and goofy character pairings (Penny and Max are a favorite). If it keeps improving the way it did over last season, only it’s second mind you, I’d say Happy Endings will be worthy of a nomination after next season.
When Mark Brendanawicz left Parks and Recreation at the end of season 2 I was really sad (mostly because I loved it when Andy or Tom would say his name), but his replacement, Ben Wyatt, played by Adam Scott, was nothing short of comedic perfection. Ben’s humor is so versatile: he can be subtle, nerdy and quirky, and most importantly Adam Scott is capable of gelling Ben with every single other character on the show. I would like to see more of him and Ron alone, and of course there needs to be another Treat Yo Self Day with Donna and Tom.
Max Greenfield of New Girl needs to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor. His character, Schmidt, is (rhyme attack) the shit. He plays one of the most original male characters to appear on a comedy in a long time. He’s not just the player, he’s the neurotic, kind of a stickler, but also sweet guy. And I will never think of youths or chutney again without thinking of dear Schmidty. He should also get a special Emmy for his workout video alone.
Update: Max Greenfield was actually nominated! Congratulations Max, and congratulations nomination committee people for making a smart choice.
I don’t agree with everything The Atlantic said. Some of the dark horses the article notes are actually just undeserving vanilla horses that someone poured black paint on and tried to masquerade as cutting edge. Awake was not brilliant or complex, Kevin Fallon (the guy who wrote this piece for The Atlantic), it was dry and predictable. Those lighting changes where everything was grey and green when Son was alive and bright and warm when Wife was still kicking were obtuse and unimaginative. Also, I love how that guy’s psychologists had no problem letting him continue to hallucinate, becoming a harm to himself and potentially others. They must be highly sought after professionals.
I would be very surprised if any of these actors or shows picked up nominations, but then again I probably won’t find out because I’ll once again forget to watch the Emmy Awards.
What shows or actors do you think deserve an Emmy?
Early last year while editor-in-chief of the Navigator I wrote an editorial on how Canadian television collectively is the uncontested mayor of Dullsville, County of Boring. Turns out I have buckets of influence because since then Maple Beaver networks have produced some decent shows.
In the last two years, Canadian cable networks have started introducing more original scripted programming, and with positive results. Shows like Showcase’s Lost Girl, which was picked up by SyFy networks in the U.S., U.K. and Australia, are fresh, intriguing and most importantly aren’t worrying about defining themselves with Canadian content. That’s right, it looks like writers and networks are finally beginning to understand that just because a show is written and produced in Canada, doesn’t mean the action has to take place in a hokey dokey town, population 15,000, where everybody loves hockey and drinks shitty beer.
Audiences are responding to the new, mature Canadian television industry too. Republic of Doyle on CBC has broken the top 10 most-watched shows more than once and Global Television’s Bomb Girls has also garnered a positive response from Canadian audiences and U.S. networks alike (it will air on ReelzChannel in the U.S.A.).
And Bomb Girls has company: Flashpoint and Rookie Blue are carried by CBS and ABC, respectively, and the supernatural medical drama Saving Hope premiered on both CTV and NBC last month; last week it sat pretty at number 5 in the ratings of the top 30 shows ranked by BBM. It also holds the crown for highest ratings for the 2012 summer premieres (although ratings have been tanking ever since. The title is too close to Raising Hope anyways.).
It’s true the top 30 shows on TV watched by Canadians are still mainly American (Canadians freaking love Big Bang Theory). That’s no surprise given the money Hollywood studios and networks have to produce excellent programming (so good that as of late, they’ve been able to lure movie stars to the small screen – Ashton Kutcher, Glenn Close, Zooey Deschanel, Alec Baldwin, to name a few). At least now Canadians have the opportunity to tune in to programming that has some element of credibility. Seriously, even my cats could tell how bad Corner Gas was.
Canadian Television Sucks—Just Ask Canadians
From the Navigator, February 2011
Television has been an integral part of many homes for over 60 years and that doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. We’ve come a long way from the tiny black and white with rabbit ears; these days we have a plethora of viewing options, from high definition LED monster-sized flat screens to smartphones, iPads and personal computers. We’ve also come a long way in what we watch (not too many parallels between The Honeymooners and Big Love). So why is it that, in 60 years, Canadian television hasn’t seemed to have come any closer to making an entertaining, well-viewed show?
There’s no point in sugar-coating the truth: on average Canadian television is mundane and unimaginative, the production value is sub-par, and the acting is less than memorable and rudimentary. Sitcoms about small-town, rural life (Corner Gas) or hour-long dramas (Rookie Blue, 18 to Life) have either mundane premises or pale in comparison to their American counterparts.
I have no clue as to why this is the case, but I’m not the only Canadian who feels this way – turns out the majority of Canadians don’t watch Canadian-made prime time television either.
The Bureau of Broadcast Management (BBM), which, among other things, compiles statistics on the 30 most-watched television shows in Canada, tells us the cold, hard truth: for the week of Jan. 17-23, 2011 the top ten programs were Big Bang Theory, which drew almost 3.2 million viewers; American Idol; The Mentalist; House; NCIS; Two and a Half Men; the NFL Playoffs (which held the seventh and eighth spots); $#*! My Dad Says; and rounding out the top ten, Hockey Night in Canada.
Only eight shows in the full list of thirty were Canadian, half of which were news broadcasts. Every other show is American. Previous weeks tell a similar story.
One of the only Canadian shows (besides sporting events) to ever break the top ten in the last six months is Flashpoint. The hour-long action drama on CTV began in 2007 and has been so successful that it caught the eye of American network CBS, who picked up the show and added it to their prime time line up. This makes Flashpoint the first program since Due South to achieve a prime time spot on a US broadcast network. Moreover, unike Due South, which mainly took place in Chicago, Flashpoint‘s action is set in Toronto.
Other than Due South and Flashpoint, it’s an exercise in futility to try and find other Canadian shows that have been picked up in other countries, or perhaps resulted in a country-specific version, such as the numerous British shows that have been nabbed by American broadcasters. Has any Canadian show been considered groundbreaking and innovative enough to be remade for another audience? Even if that isn’t a show’s measure of success, what is of all shows is to actually pull an audience of more than eight living rooms and this just isn’t a regular occurrence for Canadian television.
It’s not that Canadians aren’t capable of making entertaining, successful shows – just look at how many Canadian actors, writers, directors, and producers are successfully working in American television (to name a few, Lorne Michaels (SNL), Richard Lewis (CSI), Joshua Jackson, Nathan Fillion, Sandra Oh, Cory Monteith, Hart Hanson (Bones), and Anna Paquin). People with talent and potential star power need a reason to stick around so that Canada, for once, can have a successful and compelling television industry. Why can’t we manage to do that?
Girls has become the television sensation of the year. Why? Because it’s on HBO. Probably also because of all the nudity and sex scenes.
It’s also a sensation because it’s funny, well-written and doesn’t hide behind any façade of what some girls are really like. That’s right, I pulled out a fancy word for wall because this show deserves it.
I initially had no interest in this show, writing it off, like so many, as Sex & the City with 20-year-olds. Besides both Girls and Sex & the City chronicle the lives of four friends living in New York City, these two shows couldn’t be farther apart from each other. Where SATC was melodramatic and covered in a thick New York smog blanket of fabulosity and a men-are-from-Mars-women-are-from-Venus mentality, Girls is openly honest, realistic and brash. Lena Dunham’s Hannah Horvath (real last name, by the way – I was surprised too) is self-entitled, frumpy, selfish and a rambling idiot.
That’s what’s been the most intriguing aspect of the show for me: Hannah and her Friends, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna, have got to be some of the dumbest chicks you will ever meet. They’re dense about relationships, careers – common sense (episode two comes to mind). They are whiny, slightly obnoxious and they screw with people’s emotions. They are girls and they can be awful.
At a sculpted and groomed Vogue shoot in the spring, the cast of Girls flipped their hair and talked about what it meant to be on the show.
I’m not really getting the whole female empowerment vibe from this show, and I don’t understand why shows with female protagonists always have to have a message or agenda. Why can’t it just be a show about a group of four really dumb girls, who think they are going to have these amazing lives in the Big Apple and then learn that it’s really hard? That’s the only message I’ve picked up on so far: life involves work and compromise as well as dreams and ambition.
Need everyone be reminded also that this show is called Girls, not Women or Ladies (a term that, for me, will only ever conjure images of prim ladies of the Jane Austin era); they are juvenile and have no idea what they are doing half the time.
What I really marvel at is show creator, writer, star and frequent director, Lena Dunham. She has sewn together a tight, structured show with just enough absurdity mixed in an unadorned reality. The show is funny because it’s true, as they say, unlike some other shows with the word girls in their title, which are not funny, real or clever. (I refer to the comedy classic
Girls With No Money or Personality – sorry 2 Broke Girls. I’ve never watched this show, but seeing the promos with the main characters in their fake waitress costumes was enough for me to tell that I would want to punch myself in the brain if I watched a whole episode.)
A lot of people seem to either love Girls or hate it: it’s either obnoxious or brilliant. I say it’s obnoxiously brilliant. I would probably hate these girls in real life, but on a television show they’re naïveté is hilarious and endearing.
The Slate Culture Gabfest did a piece on hate-watching television shows back in May and it got me thinking about shows that I hate-watch.
Hate-watching doesn’t have any standard definition, everybody has different reasons for watching terrible shows: it’s so bad, it’s hilarious; you watch it even though you’re ashamed. The Culture Gabfest crew narrowed down the definition of hate-watching to when you watch a television program because you tell everyone that it is stupid and you hate it.
You may be wondering, It took this blog lady over a month to think about shows that she hate-watches? How does she get anything done in life? In fact, it did not take me this long to think of a show, I thought of one almost immediately. I’m just really this lazy when it comes to blogging. There’s really no reason for me to be talking about this right now, actually. There’s no peg anymore. When Slate talked about hate-watching, it was because Emily Nussbaum had written a story in The New Yorker about hate-watching Smash. That’s because the people on Slate Culture Gabfest are proper culture and entertainment commentators and discuss relevant topics.
Since I know you follow this blog religiously and check at least three times a day to see if I have put up any scintillating posts, I will now reveal my hate-watch.
It’s Gossip Girl.
It’s season finale was more than six weeks ago. It got the green light for renewal a month ago. But I’m still going to talk about it.
Gossip Girl is by far the worst piece of crap I watch. The fact that it is a teen soap means it’s kind of a given that it’s nothing amazing, but this show exceeds all realms of high school/college drama lameness.
It’s been on for five long seasons and looong and painful have they been. I want it to end so bad because I don’t want to watch it anymore, but for some reason I have to see it through to the terrible end.
(I just thought of a teeny tiny peg: Queen B herself, Leighton Meester, is in a movie that just came out! That’s My Boy with Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg. Now I feel better).
What makes me hate this show so much is that it’s clear that no one involved in it cares about it anymore. They repeat plotlines over and over. They let interesting moments go by the wayside. Characters literally disappear from the show. (I’m pretty sure Eric is in Tanzania). They introduce relationships that go against everything characters stand for (Blair Waldorf and Lonely Boy, really? Has Dan Humphrey’s hair gone viral and burrowed into the brains of the writers? That would make an amazing Halloween episode by the way. Just saying, writers, I’m available if you need ideas.)
What I hate the most is how they hurry through story lines so fast. I know the characters lives are scandalous, but sometimes scandal lasts a little longer than a three-episode arc.
I know I could stop watching any time, but for some reason I can’t take my eyes away from the incoming train wreck, even though I know exactly how the train wreck is going to happen because the stories are so predictable. Sure, they throw in a surprise twist every now and then, but it always ends up falling flat. There was a time when Gossip Girl was good and a part of me is always hopeful it will return to its former glory, when Rufus will have re-grown a pair, when Lily will be quippy and bitchy, when Blair will be powerful and mighty again, when Chace Crawford‘s character will be well-rounded – oh wait, he never had a character, he was just the hair.
So with the announcement that next season will be the last for the Upper East Siders, all I can say is hallelujah, soon my Monday nights will be free, and also, I will miss you Gossip Girl. Kristen Bell better make an appearance before the show ends.
By the way, if you were wondering, Penn Badgley, that actor who plays dumb Dan Humphrey looks even more like a homeless man since he grew a beard. What a treasure.
What show(s) do you hate-watch?
Oh God. This seems like a bit much.
A FOX press release says that the cast of New Girl are hitting the road this summer on a True American Bus Tour. They’ll be making public appearances in a bunch of American cities including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco.
They’ll be traveling in style on the party school bus that Jess threw Schmidt’s birthday on last season.
“Stop by the bus to party like a ‘True American,’ ” the release says, “watch exclusive videos and receive a grab bag of cool New Girl gifts, including your very own pair of Jess’ signature eyeglasses. Plus, create your own New Girl T-shirt with logos and catchphrases from the show.
“Fans and their friends can reenact the show’s opening theme song segment in a one-of-a-kind photo which they can share on their social media sites. Visitors also can play “douchebag jar” pong for additional prizes, all while snacking on Jess’ famous cupcakes!”
Maybe there will also be a game or two of True American?
I don’t understand the fan frenzy that has overtaken this show. It’s really all very ridiculous – oh my God they’re coming to Seattle August 31 – September 3! Road trip! I want a ‘Schmidt Happens’ T-shirt!
For now enjoy this amazing video of Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Jake Johnson, Lamorne Morris and Hannah Simone as they dance and laugh and pose for the season 2 promotional shoot.