television

Times Square Accident and How We See It

I meant to write about editing my reel together today, and then a car drove straight into pedestrians at Times Square, and it made me think about how we feel about and react to things around us.

Because I heard the news and barely reacted at all.

Before I knew it was a drunk driver, I got a little upset that someone tried to attack MY NEW YORK again. And I was - and still am - sad for the person who died and their friends/family. I hope that the people who were injured heal easily and swiftly. But that's all a little in the background since I don't know any of them. And I'm not sure to what extent that's terrifying, or is it just normal human psychology?

We hear so many stories of people getting hurt and dying every day. We can't possibly grieve them all. We couldn't get on with our own lives if we did. Is that mindset compassion fatigue, or a normal coping mechanism?

The other thing about that which scares me is that later on today, I was hanging out with my brother (he just got home for the summer from his sophomore year of college!) and we were watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the episode we watched made me cry.

Real people being injured did next to nothing for me, but a fictional girl dying on a TV show made me lose my shit.

Now, there are some obvious differences. I can see the people crying on Star Trek. Even if they're not real, they're characters that I'm very familiar with, so it feels like I know them. It's personal. And all I've seen about the events in Times Square today are a couple of headlines from the New York Times. I don't think I know anyone who was involved. But isn't it supposed to be part of human empathy that we can feel for people we don't know when tragedies befall them?

I genuinely don't have any answers to this. Is it a problem that is unique to the modern era since, with modern technology, we can hear more than ever about terrible things around the world, and we're simply overwhelmed? But humans have heard about and committed atrocities throughout all of history and moved on with their lives. I don't really know. But both as a human and as an actor who is supposed to feel, observe, and tell the stories of human emotion, it's something I couldn't not think about today.

I hope you and your loved ones are all alright.

Queens and The Crown - "Then... long live Queen Elizabeth." - The Crown

When I was a kid and all of my friends were dressing up, I wasn't really interested in pretending to be a princess.

Asked why, I said that it's because I want to actually be a queen.

I was never especially popular in elementary school.

It'd probably be fair to say that I've decided to start my post about personal, internal strength because I just finished watching The Crown. Oh my god. I want to be Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II when I grow up. John Lithgow as Churchill is a revelation. And Matt Smith made me almost sympathize with Prince Phillip's actions towards the end of the season. Not writing any spoilers here or anything, but sympathizing with that is almost impossible for me to do.

But there's also a real reason I bring that up, which is that one of the things I was most impressed by was the growth of Queen Elizabeth's personal strength over the course of the season. As she grows into being Elizabeth Regina (as opposed to Elizabeth Windsor) and learns when she can and cannot say no and put her foot down. What she can expect from the people around her, and when they have disappointed that. How the people around her aren't just doing a favor to a pretty but outdated institution, how she's a real person and leader who embodies something more eternal. In short, how she becomes a queen. Because it's exactly what I want to do.

Don't worry, I don't have any delusions about becoming literal royalty. But it's about the way she holds herself and the way she sees the world around her. That's what I strive for.

I mentioned going through all of the stuff in my childhood bedroom in my last post. And it was an incredibly intense experience. Partially because there was so much stuff, but also because it was the first time I was forced to really confront the question "what do I want?" I've always thought of myself as someone who is fairly flexible and willing to go along with the things that other people want because it generally leads to new experiences for me. That's still true. But I had to go through things and actively decide whether or not I wanted them. And then I had to decide if I really wanted them, or if I thought someone else wanted me to keep them. Or if it was representative of someone, but I didn't care that much about the thing itself, like old birthday cards. And it made me start considering those questions in every aspect of my life.

Over the past month, I've started standing up for myself and my beliefs more. Because I've decided that I don't want to keep taking bullshit. I've regained the discipline I've lost over the course of moving and traveling and everything. Because at the end of the day, I'm a full person, too. I'm here to help my friends, but they are also here to help me. If I don't ask people to do things for me, then I'll never advance. And it's always okay to at least ask. Because I am worthy of assistance and being served, not just serving others.

It's weird to realize that I didn't entirely believe that before. And I still struggle with it, too. But while I may not be The Queen, I am still a queen in my own life and my own right. And I ought to treat myself like one.

Drink-y Oscars Nominations! (You know, the Golden Globes.)

UPDATE: It is about 6pm EST on Golden Globes night, and I want to revise some of my predictions based on the campaigning season so far. Edits are incorporated through the rest of the post!

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

By which I mean it's awards season!! This is when the best films of the year come out! And there are swanky awards nominations and everything everywhere! Including the noms for the Golden Globes!

So I'm freaking out over those and making my pics way too early in the season. These will probably change. But also, screw it, I want to do them anyway.

Ordinarily I pick only a few categories for which I really make predictions. But I don't think there's a single category of the Golden Globes that means less to me than any other. So if my analysis is short... I'm trying to do picks for twenty five categories in a single blog post. Give a girl a break!

As always, the category title is in bold, my pick is in italics, and everything else will probably be marked off with some kind of *asterisk.

Best Motion Picture - Drama
Carol
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Revenant
Room
*Spotlight

1/10/16: Whoops, just kidding! I definitely think it's Spotlight now.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama
*Cate Blanchett - Carol
*Brie Larson - Room
*Rooney Mara - Carol
*Saoirse Ronan - Brooklyn
*Alicia Vikander - The Danish Girl

God, what an insanely strong category this year. I couldn't possibly pick just one. I'm not even rooting for any one of them over the others from pure, personal, emotional preference. They are all extraordinary, and they all deserve it.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama
Bryan Cranston - Trumbo
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Revenant
Michael Fassbender - Steve Jobs
Eddie Redmayne - The Danish Girl
Will Smith - Concussion

Yes, I know I picked two people. But, between the two of them, it was impossible to decide. The performances in both Steve Jobs and The Danish Girl were so extraordinary I couldn't so much as have one pick and then one as my second choice. Which is probably cheating for my count after the awards themselves happen, but I don't care.
I can tell you who isn't going to win. I'm sure he's fantastic, but Leonardo DiCaprio isn't going to win, and he is going to flip his shit.

Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
*The Big Short
Joy
*The Martian
Spy
Trainwreck

1/10/16: I'm not saying Trainwreck isn't great, but I definitely am saying The Big Short is gonna win.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Jennifer Lawrence - Joy
Melissa McCarthy - Spy
Amy Schumer - Trainwreck
Maggie Smith - The Lady in the Van
*Lily Tomlin - Grandma

I think Grandma was too small an indie film to have the funds to campaign and win awards season categories. I just wanted to point out Lily Tomlin in this movie because she was wonderful.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy
Christian Bale - The Big Short
Steve Carell - The Big Short
Matt Damon - The Martian
Al Pacino - Danny Collins
Mark Ruffalo - Infinitely Polar Bear

Best Motion Picture - Animated
Anomalisa
The Good Dinosaur
Inside Out
The Peanuts Movie
Shaun the Sheep Movie

If Inside Out doesn't win, it'll be an upset on the level of The Lego Movie not winning at the Oscars.

Best Motion Picture - Foreign Language
The Brand New Testament
The Club
The Fencer
Mustang
Son of Saul

Number of films I've seen in this category: 0. Amount to which I am certain of my choice anyway: 100%.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture
Jane Fonda - Youth
Jennifer Jason Leigh - The Hateful Eight
Helen Mirren - Trumbo
*Alicia Vikander - Ex Machina
Kate Winslet - Steve Jobs

1/10/16: Ohhh man. I might be reversing Alicia Vikander and Kate Winslet? Because I just haven't seen Steve Jobs campaign for much beyond screenplay and Best Actor, and Alicia Vikander has been everywhere! So I think this is going to Alicia Vikander after all, and it'll really be more of a combo win for both this and The Danish Girl.

I don't think Alicia Vikander is going to necessarily win for Ex Machina, especially not over Kate Winslet in Steve Jobs. I just wanted to draw attention to her because I really want her to get all of the things.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture
Paul Dano - Love & Mercy
*Idris Elba - Beasts of No Nation
Mark Rylance - Bridge of Spies
Michael Shannon - 99 Homes
Sylvester Stallone - Creed

Best Director - Motion Picture
Todd Haynes - Carol
Alejandro G. Inarritu - The Revenant
Tom McCarthy - Spotlight
George Miller - Mad Max: Fury Road
Ridley Scott - The Martian

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Emma Donoghue - Room
*Tom McCarthy, Josh Singer - Spotlight
Charles Randolph, Adam McKay - The Big Short
Aaron Sorkin - Steve Jobs
Quentin Tarantino - The Hateful Eight

Steve Jobs may have bombed at the box office, but Aaron Sorkin is amazing and I don't think I could be capable of not picking him for any screenplay category ever.

Best Original Score - Motion Picture
Carter Burwell - Carol
Alexandre Desplat - The Danish Girl
Ennio Morricone - The Hateful Eight
*Daniel Pemberton - Steve Jobs
Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto - The Revenant

...I'm literally listening to the score from The Danish Girl now, so it's very possible that I'm highly biased.

Best Original Song - Motion Picture
"Love Me Like You Do" - Fifty Shades of Grey
"One Kind of Love" - Love & Mercy
"See You Again" - Fast and Furious 7
"Simple Song #3" - Youth
"Writing's on the Wall" - Spectre

Best Television Series - Drama
Empire
Game of Thrones
Mr. Robot
Narcos
Outlander

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Drama
Caitriona Balfe - Outlander
Viola Davis - How to Get Away with Murder
Eva Green - Penny Dreadful
Taraji P. Henson - Empire
Robin Wright - House of Cards

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Drama
Jon Hamm - Mad Men
Rami Malek - Mr. Robot
Wagner Moura - Narcos
Bob Odenkirk - Better Call Saul
Liev Schreiber - Ray Donovan

Best Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Casual
Mozart in the Jungle
Orange is the New Black
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Veep

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Rachel Bloom - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Jamie Lee Curtis - Scream Queens
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
*Gina Rodriguez - Jane the Virgin
Lily Tomlin - Grace and Frankie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Musical or Comedy
Aziz Ansari - Master of None
Gael Garcia Bernal - Mozart in the Jungle
Rob Lowe - The Grinder
Patrick Stewart - Blunt Talk
Jeffrey Tambor - Transparent

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
American Crime
American Horror Story: Hotel
*Fargo
Flesh & Bone
Wolf Hall

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Kirsten Dunst - Fargo
Lady Gaga - American Horror Story: Hotel
Sarah Hay - Flesh & Bone
Felicity Huffman - American Crime
Queen Latifah - Bessie

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television
Idris Elba - Luther
Oscar Isaac - Show Me a Hero
David Oyelowo - Nightengale
Mark Rylance - Wolf Hall
*Patrick Wilson - Fargo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Uzo Aduba - Orange is the New Black
Joanne Froggatt - Downton Abbey
Regina King - American Crime
Judith Light - Transparent
Maura Tierney - The Affair

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series, or Motion Picture Made for Television
Alan Cumming - The Good Wife
Damien Lewis - Wolf Hall
Ben Mendelsohn - Bloodline
Tobias Menzies - Outlander
Christian Slater - Mr. Robot

Full disclosure: I know very little about this year's limited series television shows. I'm mostly basing this off of what I've seen online and what the Emmys did!

This is a really weird year for the awards because, while there are plenty of excellent films and TV shows out there, there isn't any one absolute standout! Or even a few! Which makes this so much harder.

And, you know, of all of the problems out there in the world, having to think a bit more about who my picks are for the Golden Globes is definitely up there. Probably.

The moral of the story: Yay awards season!!

Emmy Wrap Up - "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that simply are not there." - Viola Davis

Hey guys, remember how for the Golden Globes I was gonna go award by award and talk about my predictions vs. who actually won, and then said "lol nope" when I realized how long it would take?

GUESS WHO IS A DAMN FOOL AND SURE IS DOING IT NOW FOR THE EMMYS?? (It's me.)

Outstanding Drama Series
My prediction: Mad Men
Who actually won: Game of Thrones

My mother nearly threw her tablet through the TV screen when Mad Men kept losing categories to Game of Thrones. And while I sympathize (I thought Mad Men would clean up the drama Emmys, myself), I still think it's wonderful. I think that it shows that the Emmy voters in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences are starting to skew a little younger, with slightly more open minds about the validity of fantasy as genuine art. Which is awesome.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My prediction: Parks and Recreation
Who actually won: Veep

And now here's the thing I don't like about the way the voters of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences vote: They vote for their friends. And their friends don't change on a year to year basis. Which is why you get the same shows winning some of these awards year after year. A few years ago, it was Modern Family. And now it's Veep. Don't get me wrong, I think Veep is a wonderful, intelligent, interesting, and hilarious show. It's not that I think it doesn't deserve Best Comedy. I just think it won Best Comedy last year. And Parks and Recreation deserves way more recognition than it got. (Which, at the Emmys, was no recognition at all.)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
My prediction: Mad Men - Jon Hamm as Don Draper
Who actually won: Mad Men - Jon Hamm as Don Draper

There's no analysis that needs to be written here. We all saw this coming from a mile away. Well deserved. So instead, I'm just gonna include a gif of when Jon Hamm rolled on stage to accept it. Please do enjoy the view.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
My prediction: Orphan Black - Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Alison, Cosmia, Helena, Rachel, and Krystal
Who actually won: How to Get Away With Murder - Viola Davis as Annalise Keating

Tatiana Maslany will get her turn for her incredible performances in Orphan Black. But Viola Davis was the right choice. I didn't even realize beforehand that this made her the first black woman to win the lead actress Emmy. (Shows how far I need to check my own privilege.) Now there's nothing I can say that she can't say better herself. So I'm just including her acceptance speech. This is required viewing.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Transparent - Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman
Who actually won: Transparent - Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman

If this is at all puzzling to you, you haven't yet seen Transparent. And that's all I have to say about that.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Parks and Recreation - Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope (although I highlighted everyone)
Who actually won: Veep - Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer

I suppose this was slightly wishful thinking on my part. But Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a class act, and this was a crazy strong category this year. I just wish it meant that I didn't know she is now going to win just about every year for the rest of Veep's run. I think she's wonderful. I just think the other comedic lead actresses are wonderful, too.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
My prediction: The Good Wife - Alan Cumming as Eli Gold (although I highlighted Game of Thrones - Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister)
Who actually won: Game of Thrones - Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister

I'm not really sure why I picked Alan Cumming, to be honest. He's quite good, but I knew from the start that Peter Dinklage is the best in this category. So I'm just going to copypaste my analysis from my Emmy predictions post, and we can all laugh at what an idiot I am.

Alan Cumming has been consistently nominated for this role. And this year The Good Wife got mostly snubbed. And the Emmys don’t really have love for high fantasy. Alan Cumming has been pretty present in the culturally conscious mind after his run with Cabaret earlier this year, and then co-hosting the Tonys with Kristen Chenoweth. There’s no one in this category I’m especially excited about, aside from Peter Dinklage (who would really be winning more for his performance last season than this one; he was excellent this season, but he just shone last year in the trial and the finale especially) so... it’s pretty much just that it’s Alan Cummings’ time.
— Me being dumb

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
My prediction: Orange is the New Black - Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren
Who actually won: Orange is the New Black - Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren

I like being right. Sometimes I like being right more than others. Watching Uzo Aduba make history as she won Emmys in both drama and comedy for the same role, and seeing how much it means to her, is one of those times I especially like being right.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Veep - Tony Hale as Gary Walsh
Who actually won: Veep - Tony Hale as Gary Walsh

Not gonna lie, this one was pretty arbitrary. So it's just cool that I got it right. Yay Barrow Group alumni!

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Transparent - Gaby Hoffman as Ali Pfefferman
Who actually won: Mom - Allison Janney as Bonnie

My takeaway from this award is that I should probably be watching Mom. Like, full disclosure: I've never seen it before. And I thought I had an idea as to what it's about and the feel of the show. I was clearly quite wrong. And Allison Janney is so, so classy.

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
My prediction: Inside Amy Schumer
Who actually won: Inside Amy Schumer

Dude. Go Amy Schumer. She's awesome.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
My prediction: Transparent - Bradley Whitford as Marcy
Who actually won: Transparent - Bradley Whitford as Marcy

Transparent. Is. A. Gift. To. Us. All.

Outstanding Main Title Design
My prediction: Manhattan
Who actually won: Manhattan

Yooooo this one I knew next to nothing about any of the other nominees I just wanted to highlight the one category in which Manhattan was actually nominated for an Emmy and it totally won that's awesome. (I really, really like Manhattan, you guys.)

...Looking over my predictions post, it seems I didn't make writing predictions. That's weird. But I certainly would've gotten them wrong, as I would've picked Transparent and Mad Men, not Veep or Game of Thrones. You guys fantasy is so legit now it's awesome.

See you all next time in Oscar season!! I mean, also many times before that. But definitely then as well. What I'm trying to say here is I'm a huge sucker for awards shows.

All-You-Can-Read Blog Buffet!

Okay, so much has happened that today, instead of getting one long argument of a blog post, you're going to get a bunch of mini posts, all rolled up into one! More long form Weekend Update than, you know, Last Week Tonight.

Because you guys, the past couple of weeks have been absolutely insane. I didn't update last week because I was shooting for three separate projects, running to several auditions, and barely finding time to eat and sleep amidst all of that. It was all excellent fun, and I loved it, don't get me wrong! It was a short film and two webseries - Lactose Intolerance, Twisted Tales, and In Retrospect, directed by my friend Amanda Jane Stern, if you want to look out for them! - and they're all hilarious. But overall, it was also exhausting. If you had told me ten years ago that I'd be a massive workaholic who would willingly wake up at 6:30 AM for her job on a Sunday, I would've thought you were insane. But that sure is what happened this past weekend.

All of that has made me think a lot about how I spend my time, though, and what's worth it. For instance, every day that I don't have a paying gig, I'm at home working at least eight hours a day on either the business of being an actress, or writing scripts with roles I create for myself. And all of that is absolutely worth it, and it's the reason I've been cast in about three things within the past week! But sometimes I know I allow myself to get involved with projects, or let myself get put in social situations, where I would feel rude for declining. Especially if I know I would hurt somebody's feelings if I wasn't there, I will almost always turn up. But I've also been exhausting myself recently, and it's making me consider that maybe I need to drop some of these projects and friendships that are no longer serving me. One phrase I've tried to keep in mind this year is "don't set yourself on fire to keep others warm," and I've been working to remember it because it's a thing that I oftentimes do. It's a process, it's not something I'm going to snap to and start cutting people and things out of my life just like that. But it's something I've been considering recently. More of a way of trying to think about what I'm actually getting out of everything into which I put my valuable time.

Don't worry, the people and projects I'm thinking of aren't you and yours!

I've been thinking lately about romance and dating as an actor. This is a topic I'm sure I'll go into again, in greater detail, at some point in the future. But, I won't lie to you guys, I've been a little bit romantically lonely for a while. And I say that fully understanding that I don't have the time for a relationship. 99 times out of 100 I will place my work above a significant other. And I have a lot of work. And I don't doubt that choice. I've even tried to, but it's what's right for me. I would hate myself if I lost out on my dreams because some boy or girl distracted me. And if/when something really is right, I'm sure we'll be able to work something out. I look to the relationship Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer have as an incredible inspiration: They both have their own stuff to do, but when their schedules coincide they always choose each other, and they're still very happy, loving, and supportive. I just also know that that's a lot to ask of someone, and it makes me a little sad how difficult it is to find someone who interests me, who I like, and who is willing to put up with all of the baggage that comes with me and my work.

Finally, on a similar but much brighter note, I've been thinking lately how much I appreciate and value real friendships, and how good it is to hold on to what I believe in. Without going into details, I recently had a friendship that I have had to fight for over the years validated. And it's been giving me the warm fuzzies ever since when I think about it. It hasn't been turbulence-free, but because we both refused to let go and insisted on loyalty and perseverance, it's really paying off now, and I appreciate it.

So, you know, that's cool.

Some exciting stuff is coming up this week, so I'll be back to my single-topic, long-form blog posts soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this short form style! Because now that it's what I've written out, it sure is what I'm sticking with.

EMMY NOMINATIONS!!

Emmy nominations are out!! So... that means it's time for me to post all of my predictions! I won't bother writing out a whole introduction. You know what the Emmys are. If you're new to me and you're just joining from Telemazing, then you should know that some of my predictions will have analysis underneath and some won't. Also I'm mostly just doing the biggest awards (series, lead and supporting actor and actress, all in both comedy and drama), and a select few other categories that just interest me. So. Yeah. Let's do this!

Things in Bold Italics are the Categories
Things in normal text are regular nominees.
Things in italics are my winner predictions.
*Things with an asterisk are series/people I don't think will win because of industry politics or some other reason, but are good enough that they should.

Outstanding Drama Series
Better Call Saul
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
Homeland
House of Cards
Mad Men
Orange is the New Black

I feel like this one is pretty obvious. It was Mad Men's last season, and the Emmys love giving awards to shows as they're on their way out. It's all about examining a Complicated White Male (which the old, white, male Emmy voters love) in the sixties and seventies (which the old, white, male Emmy voters miss). Add that to the fact that the finale was a huge television event that is still discussed so it's pretty present in the average culturally educated mind, and it makes Mad Men a pretty clear choice to win.

Outstanding Comedy Series
Louie
Modern Family
Parks and Recreation
Silicon Valley
Transparent
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Veep

Similar to Mad Men winning Best Drama, this is Parks and Rec's last chance, especially since it has never won for Best Comedy! It's also a show that's all about love and friendship while still having something to say about politics and domestic and foreign policy, and the Emmys love a show that has an opinion on something outside of its own overall plot arc. Besides, it's a show that just has tons and tons of heart. I think that Veep and Louie are also excellent series, Modern Family has won pretty much every year for the past several years, and Transparent is straight up a gift to us all from the TV gods (aka, Jill Soloway). But Transparent, Louis, and Veep will be back again next year, Modern Family has had it's due, and now it's time for Parks and Rec to get the recognition it deserves. (And if you've also read Yes Please, by Amy Poehler, then you'll understand why I really want her to get her pudding.)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Better Call Saul - Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill
Bloodline - Kyle Chandler as John Rayburn
House of Cards - Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood
Mad Men - Jon Hamm as Don Draper
The Newsroom - Jeff Daniels as Will McAvoy
Ray Donovan - Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan

Did you know that Jon Hamm has never won an Emmy for his portrayal of Don Draper in Mad Men, even though it's a career making, and beyond that, iconic performance?
If you've read any of my analyses in this post before this, you already understand why I don't think that'll be the case anymore after September 20th.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Empire - Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon
Homeland - Claire Danes as Carrie Mathison
House of Cards - Robin Wright as Claire Underwood
How to Get Away with Murder - Viola Davis as Annalise Keating
Mad Men - Elizabeth Moss as Peggy Olson
Orphan Black - Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Alison, Cosmia, Helena, Rachel, and Krystal

Does this really need analysis? The pretentious elite (of which I fully admit that I am a member) that make up the Emmy voters (of which I fully admit that I am not) have finally discovered Orphan Black, and now Tatiana Maslany is going to get her dues.

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
black-ish - Anthony Anderson as Andre Johnson
Episodes - Matt LeBlanc as Matt LeBlanc
House of Lies - Don Cheadle as Marty Kaan
The Last Man on Earth - Will Forte as Phil Miller
Louie - Louis C.K. as Louie
Shameless - William H. Macy as Frank Gallagher
Transparent - Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman

Between how Transparent just cleaned up at the Golden Globes earlier this year, and the fact that the show is literally just a gift to us all from the TV gods (aka Jill Soloway), while it may not win Best Comedy, it can certainly give this award to Jeffrey Tambor, who plays Maura with grace and humanity, and not a shred of the self-righteousness that comes with an actor who is trying to Make a Point instead of tell a story.

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
*The Comeback - Lisa Kudrow as Valerie Cherish
*Grace and Frankie - Lily Tomlin as Frankie
*Inside Amy Schumer - Amy Schumer as Amy
*Nurse Jackie - Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton
Parks and Recreation - Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope
*Veep - Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Selina Meyer

Guys, this one was actually really, really difficult. Literally any of these women could win, and I would totally understand it, and there would be a part of me that agrees with it. I actually came really close to choosing Edie Falco to win this one as Nurse Jackie is also ending and it's one of those comedies that is really more of a dramady than a comedy. But... she's also won the award for this role already (not to mention previous wins for The Sopranos) and I really think this is the time for Parks and Rec. But really. This is such an over-the-top strong category this year with each of these actresses turning in strong, heartfelt, moving, and hilarious performances. This pick was really, really difficult.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Better Call Saul - Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantrout
Bloodline - Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Rayburn
Downton Abbey - Jim Carter as Mr. Carson
*Game of Thrones - Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
The Good Wife - Alan Cumming as Eli Gold
House of Cards - Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper

Alan Cumming has been consistently nominated for this role. And this year The Good Wife got mostly snubbed. And the Emmys don't really have love for high fantasy. Alan Cumming has been pretty present in the culturally conscious mind after his run with Cabaret earlier this year, and then co-hosting the Tonys with Kristen Chenoweth. There's no one in this category I'm especially excited about, aside from Peter Dinklage (who would really be winning more for his performance last season than this one; he was excellent this season, but he just shone last year in the trial and the finale especially) so... it's pretty much just that it's Alan Cummings' time.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Downton Abbey - Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates
*Game of Thrones - Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
Game of Thrones - Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
The Good Wife - Christine Baranski as Diane Lockheart
Mad Men - Christina Hendricks as Joan Harris
Orange is the New Black - Uzo Aduba as Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren

I know I just said that the Emmys doesn't usually have love for the Emmys, but dude, Cersei's walk of shame. That's the kind of scene that'll be shown in Lena Headey's lifetime achievement awards. I also want you to believe me when I say that it hurts me physically to not be putting an asterisk next to Emilia Clarke's name because she is my khaleesi but for this specific season there are other performances that are stronger than hers. Not to say that hers isn't wonderful and strong. Just that there are others that are stronger.
And yet you'll notice that my choice to win wasn't either of those two, but Uzo Aduba. And there are two reasons for that. First and foremost, because she deserves it. Her Crazy Eyes is touching and heartfelt and painful to watch because it's so personal, real, and you can't help but feel for her. I want to make it clear that this is the primary reason. Because she's really good. Also because the other reason is you'll notice how all of my other picks so far have been white people. I genuinely do believe that I picked the actors who had the best performances in their categories, but especially since this one is a pretty tight race, I think the Emmys will want to avoid the bad press that the Oscars got from having a whitewashed list of winners and make sure to have at least a little diversity there.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Andre Braugher as Captain Ray Holt
Girls - Adam Driver as Adam Sackler
Key & Peele - Keegan-Michael Key as Various Characters
Modern Family - Ty Burrell as Phil Dunphy
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Tituss Burgess as Titus Andromedon
Veep - Tony Hale as Gary Walsh

The pretentious intellectuals who vote for the Emmys love Veep. And Tony Hale is an alumnus of the acting school I currently attend. (Yay The Barrow Group!) But... I couldn't give you a real reason I chose him over any other actor here. There are pretty much an even number of reasons why each actor here would or wouldn't win. Andre Braugher is excellent, but the show overall is more about laughs than getting deep at any point about people and the human condition. (And I say that as a huge, huge fan of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.) Adam Driver is having an excellent, public spotlight-y kind of a year, but nobody is really talking about Girls, specifically. Keegan-Michael Key does really intelligent, interesting sketches on Key & Peele, but sketch performers almost never win outside of a variety series category. The Emmys usually love on Modern Family, but maybe people are just too sick of it winning everything for it to win anything this year. Tituss Burgess has created a colorful, complete character in Titus Andromedon, but not necessarily a complex one. I just... can't think of a reason Tony Hale  wouldn't win. So... he's my pick to win.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory - Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler
Getting On - Niecy Nash as Denise "Didi" Ortley
Modern Family - Julie Bowen as Claire Dunphy
Mom - Allison Janney as Bonnie
Saturday Night Live - Kate McKinnon as Various Characters
Transparent - Gaby Hoffmann as Ali Pfefferman
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Jane Krakowski as Jacqueline Voorhees
Veep - Anna Chlumsky as Amy Brookheimer

Transparent. Is. A. Gift. To. Us. All. From. The. TV. Gods. (Aka Jill Soloway).
Don't get me wrong, I love Allison Janney in anything and everything she chooses to do. Same goes for Kate McKinnon. And Jane Krakowski never won an Emmy for Jenna Maloney on 30 Rock, so I think she should get one for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Next season. But right now. Transparent is a gift to us all from the TV gods (aka Jill Soloway).

...This, by the way, is the point where I'm just going to go and bring up a few select categories that particularly interest me for whatever reason. Just so you know.

Outstanding Variety Sketch Series
*Drunk History
Inside Amy Schumer
Key & Peele
Portlandia
Saturday Night Live

So the asterisk this time doesn't mean that I think Drunk History should win over Inside Amy Schumer... it's really more my way of calling attention to what an awesome series it is, especially if you're a fellow history nerd.
But I think this is really where the fact that Amy Schumer is this year's "it" girl is super gonna come in clutch. You know, that and the fact that the show has been insightful, clever, and feminist as well as funny.

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
The Comedians - Mel Brooks as Mel Brooks
Inside Amy Schumer - Paul Giamatti as Juror #10
Saturday Night Live - Bill Hader as Host
Saturday Night Live - Louis C.K. as Host
Transparent - Bradley Whitford as Marcy
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Jon Hamm as Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne

Well, by this point you already know that Transparent is a gift to us all et cetera. But I also want to throw out there that watching Bradley Whitford in anything is just an incredible lesson in acting. So watching Bradley Whitford in Transparent... guys, he's incredible. I wanted to stay away from opinions in my analyses because saying that actor in a particular role is "good" or "bad" is subjective and almost never helpful to true understanding of a someone's position. So I will also say that his portrayal of Marcy is subtle, funny, eye-opening, and heartbreaking. Even as we watch his scenes from Maura's (Jeffrey Tambor) point of view, he slowly brings the audience along to experiencing his world through his eyes as well. It's big and bright and exciting and quiet and intellectual and new. And guys, he's wonderful.

Outstanding Main Title Design
American Horror Story: Freak Show
Bosch
Halt and Catch Fire
******Manhattan
Marvel's Daredevil
Olive Kitteridge

I haven't seen all of these series, and so I haven't seen their opening titles. I haven't picked a winner here because I'm just straight up not qualified to pick a winner among all these shows I haven't seen. In fact, you might even say that I've only seen one out of the six shows listed here. I just really like Manhattan and wanted to point out the one category in which it was nominated for an Emmy.

Okay, this blog post took me literally three hours to write up. I nearly did it last night after I got home at one in the morning from seeing Me and Earl and the Dying Girl before realizing what a dumb idea that would be. (That movie, incidentally, totally wrecked me in the best possible way.) So now I'm just gonna stop.

But what do you think? Do you agree with me?? Why???

(Guys, I'm really excited about the Emmys.)

Actually Seeing Personal Heroes - "Thank you, Stu Johnson!" - The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Within the past week and a half, I've seen three people in person who, at some point or another, I've basically wished I could be. Or people with whom I've at least wished I could spend the rest of my life. Not even necessarily in a romantic, let's-get-married kind of a way. I just always want to know what they think about everything.

Not this past Tuesday but last Tuesday I went to a book launch event at my acting school, The Barrow Group. One of the co-artistic directors, founders, and excellent teachers, Seth Barrish, was having his book, An Actor's Companion, published by the Theatre Communications Group! And there were tons of fellow Barrow Group students there, as well as Barrow Group alumni. There was a talk with Seth moderated by his friend and comedian Mike Birbiglia (maybe you've heard of him) and there was another famous alumna there: Anne Hathaway. Guys, in case you couldn't tell, she's a pretty big inspiration for me. When people ask what role in movies could I see myself playing, my answer is always Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries. And, you know, you've gotten to know me pretty well over the course of this blog so far. You know by now that I'm pretty outgoing, and I am very proud of being a New Yorker. And New Yorkers do not freak out over celebrity. But... I couldn't talk to her. I couldn't form sentences. I was just thrilled to be breathing the same air as her. One day I'll talk to her, when I've gotten further in my career and I can be... not an equal, perhaps, but something only a few levels below that.

This past Sunday I was texting a friend of mine when he reminded me that he was working UCB's Del Close Marathon, and he could hook me up. So, you know, who am I to say no to an offer like that? I had a busy day - worked on material for an audition, shot an episode of Telemazing - but then I headed over to FIT, met my friend, and he let me into the standing room at the back of the theater. I was watching some excellent improv ("Oh no, it's Schlomo, the bad boy from Hebrew school!" "I cut class... every once in a while." "What a reasonable level of anarchy.") and I recognized Matt Walsh by his mustache and that was cool. And there was a woman performing on stage and I thought "wow, she sounds just like Amy Poehler." Until slowly I realized that the show featured most of the founding members of UCB. And that the woman who sounds just like Amy Poehler really was Amy Poehler. (And, I assume, she still is her.) For the next show (with some help from my friend) I managed to make it up to sit in the very front of the theater, and I saw the Del Close Marathon's final show, Asssscat with said founding members as well as several other big names in comedy, but most importantly I was 20 feet away from Amy Poehler less than a week after finishing Yes Please and it was amazing. I literally cried from laughter. It was amazing.

And then there was two days ago. A day for which I had planned and worked hard and got very lucky. On Tuesday, June 30th, 2015, I saw the taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

(Two photos from my seat in the studio... one nice one, and one that came out with a bit too much of what happens when you're too excited for a photograph: crazy eyes.)

Guys, I love Jon Stewart. You already know this. I've written academic papers (plural) about him. I was at the Rally to Restore Sanity. I saw Rosewater in theaters. I've written blog posts about him on this very website. I was going to reiterate everything that he means to me, but... screw it, I just linked to that blog post. Suffice it to say he is an incredibly important person to me. And I've always wanted to see the show live. And on Tuesday I did it! I was fluttery all day! I made friends with other Jon Stewart fans while waiting (for five hours) in line to actually get my tickets! I had ticket #13! I laughed like an asshole and cheered loud and long and, while nobody else would pick it up, I can hear myself in the end broadcast. (If you really listen, I'm the one with the really long, really high pitched "woo" who is almost always the last one to stop doing it.) And it was magical just to be in the studio.

As usual in my posts, I'm not sure I have a point that I'm going for here. I wanted to maybe talk about what they all have in common? But that's not really it. They're all very much themselves, and that's one of the things that we all love about them. I might've talked about charisma, and how they all have it, and how that's what separates the personalities we all love from the ones who we all love to hate? But that seems like such a dry analysis for such extraordinary people. (Don't get me wrong, they are all incredibly charismatic, but that's really not what I want to go for here.)

So I guess the main point of this post is just... to brag about how many amazing people I got to see in the past week. Oops. Sorry, not sorry at all.

(And seriously, if you ever get the chance to see The Daily Show with Jon Stewart before August 6th, you should absolutely take it!!)

Actor Crushes and Me - "I hope you appreciate what I go through for you!" - Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

I was watching a television show last week that I was fully aware is utterly terrible, but I was doing it because I have a huge crush on one of the actors in it.

I'm not going to name names. That wouldn't be classy. But guys, it was bad. I was yelling at my computer screen all episode every episode. The quick cuts to avoid actual stunts were so flimsy. The writing was pathetic and unbelievable (in that I didn't believe what the characters were saying).

And then the actor who I'm basically in love with said "I think I love her" about a character he had just met TWO EPISODES AGO and I am not here for that.

So I went onto his IMDb page and found another show that he's in and I started that and it's fantastic and if you're paying attention it'll probably be the next show about which I do an analysis type post.

But it got me thinking. I have a lot of shows on my list of television I need to see. I have, like, a planned out schedule of what I'm going to watch when. But I just got reminded of how much I like this guy, and that all vanishes as I have to watch things just because he's in them.

What is it about this guy that does this to me? Or about any actor that does this to anyone? It's not like I know him personally. He's attractive, but he's not exactly the only attractive person in the entertainment industry. He's a good actor, but he's not exactly the only good actor in the entertainment industry. I don't follow him on social media. What is this? WHAT ARE THESE STRANGE FEELINGS I HAVE??

Well. Part of that answer, I'm sure, goes beyond what I can properly discuss in a blog post, and is way outside of my area of expertise. I'm sure there's a large part of it that ought to be discussed in the context of the science of love, lust, and attraction. And I always liked biology in high school, but even studying it through Khan Academy in my free time doesn't make me qualified to talk about it on that level.

But I want to go more into why we follow actors that we like. It's a pretty important thing for me to at least be aware of, after all. But why follow actors? Why not just appreciate the performances of theirs that we've seen and leave it at that?

I'm sure part of it comes down to personality. We see personality traits we like in the performances of the actors we like. When we enjoy a person and their personality, we want to spend more time with them and become friends... but when we have no way of actually meeting that actor, all we can do is look for those parts of their personality in other performances. Watching through all of someone's IMDb credits, then, is our way of "hanging out" with that actor. People really like actors who are genuine and bring themselves to each of their roles - look at Jennifer Lawrence, or Chris Pratt - so I think that has to be a solid portion of my answer here.

But then why watch their bad work as well? Every actor has the projects of which they're not proud. And we watch them anyway. I know I'm not alone in this, don't try to lie to me/yourself about it! Those are usually the least genuine of their performances... that's not the "friend" we're making. So why bother?

Well, in some cases, it'll be about how attractive they are, and we're just enjoying the aesthetics of their face. Which is a totally reasonable thing and there is no shame at all in that.

And I suppose there's a certain point where we're not going to know how bad something is until we see it for ourselves.

But aside from that? Is it the actor's brand that we've grown attached to, and this is just a form of brand loyalty? The same way people will insist on Coke unless Pepsi is the only option available (or whatever other example of brand loyalty strikes your fancy)?

Is it something about us, wanting to stick with a "friend" through the good times as well as the bad? Does it give us a deeper sense of connection with that actor?

Is this all just me being embarrassed of how much of this terrible television show I watched and trying to find an excuse for it?

Anything and everything is possible. And it probably varies between different people as well.

But especially as an actor, it's a pretty important issue to consider, I think. After all, I want people to feel that way about me.

(And, as any actor will tell you verbatim, it's all about me.)

West Wing Binge Watch 2k15 is complete! - "What's next?" - Every episode of The West Wing

So I just finished The West Wing. I will tell you right now that there are going to be spoilers all throughout this post, so if you haven't seen the series yet and don't want to be spoiled for it, you should probably just stop here and come back to this later! And then question yourself and all of your life choices to figure out why you haven't watched this incredible show yet.

...Do they really count as spoilers if the show has been finished for ten years? I dunno. But I'd hate to ruin it for someone who is in the same position I was in just a few months ago.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't still a little bit of a mess from that finale. So much of it was primarily manipulative and I loved it. I mean, Donna getting her own massive office? CJ, Will, Kate, and Charlie having to move out of their own? All of the talks between Presidents Bartlet and Santos? Bartlet for America??? It utterly wrecked me. It was great.

As for the show overall... I think it can really be split up into three separate shows. There's Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing. There's post-Sorkin West Wing. And then there's the season in between, season 5, where it all just kind of really sucked. God, season 5 was rough. But aside from that, the two others both have their merits and their negatives and everything, but I think it's also very difficult to discuss them as if they're the same show.

Sorkin's West Wing is sexy. It's fast paced, it's the walk-and-talk, it's multiple storylines going on at once, it's the slow development of relationships that build on each other, it's being utterly unable to watch just one episode. I mean that both in a good way (I've spent literal days watching as much of Sorkin's West Wing as I had hours awake in my Saturday) and also in a bad way (if you don't start at the beginning, you'll be pretty lost). But I really don't think that this series could've gotten off the ground with anyone other than Aaron Sorkin. And I think that he is the master of the emotional arcs of the characters he really cares about. "Noel" is, to date, one of my favorite television episodes of anything ever. ("Noel" is the one where we find out that Josh has PTSD. The scene where we see that he actually put his hand through a window? At the end when he and Donna come across the carolers outside the White House? Bradley Whitford's acting??? It's the episode where I realized just how much I love this show. Like, I already knew that I loved it. But this episode is a turning point. It's extraordinary television.)

Post-Sorkin West Wing can be really interesting too, though. For starters, can we discuss how much better women are treated post-Sorkin? Like, women aren't treated horribly in the first few seasons - I have a deep love for Ainsley Hayes, for instance, and no one can ever tell me that CJ Cregg isn't a wonderful character straight from the start, not to even start on Donna Moss - but they're just treated so much better post-Sorkin. I particularly loved the decision to make CJ chief of staff, especially when we expected the position to go to either Josh or Toby. And I love how Josh and Donna didn't really come together until they were equals. I really kinda doubt that Sorkin would've done that, but I loved it.

(Incidentally, everything about Josh and Donna makes me so happy. That is the way you have will-they-or-won't-they characters come together. That was perfect.)

I also think that post-Sorkin West Wing was better at long plotlines than Sorkin's West Wing is. Sorkin's West Wing is great in that it has smaller multi-episode arcs come up and they overlap so it feels natural but season-long arcs are slow and small and subtle, which is nice. But, especially when it came to the end, that's a very different style from the Santos vs. Vinick campaign. And that presidential campaign was so intense! I was genuinely nearly as nervous and stressed about the outcome of it as I get about real life campaigns!

I'm not going to discuss season 5. It's just not worth it. That's not the show that I love.

And finally... the finale. The thing that made it particularly special was how much it focused on the transfer of power. That transfer of power - the "peaceful revolution" as it was called when it first happened from Washington's presidency to Adams's - is one of the greatest things the US has and continues to accomplish every four or eight years. The idea that someone who is literally the most powerful person in the world just gives up his power? That transfer is one of the most difficult things a person can do, and it's very much the most dramatic thing happening every inauguration day. Especially considering how it's a series that focused on Bartlet, even if it just came to the end of a season that focused on Santos, that transfer of power that then brings to light the emotional journey of the both of them was the right choice.

And you guys, it made me cry so, so much. Tears everywhere. I am so glad I knew not to wear makeup today.

I have many more thoughts about many more aspects of the show - Vinick as Secretary of State, for instance, and what they're doing about VP, and what's coming up for Margaret and everyone whose futures we haven't explicitly been given - but this is already a hella long post. So if you're interested, please feel free to ask me! I'm clearly dying to talk about it! But I definitely need to cut myself off here for now.

So I guess, to take the utterly cheesy route, the only thing left to ask now is...

what's next?

Parks and Recreation Finale - "Turns out that passion can heighten things in the same way that conflict does. And that delights me." - Tim Carvell, about Parks and Rec

I watched all of Parks and Recreation prior to this season in a binge watch session of about two months. I know this because I started watching it in late-August just after I finally got around to seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, I was well underway with my binge watch by late-September when I couldn't not post about it in my third ever post here, and I finished catching up by late-November, which is when I started watching The West Wing.

Let me tell you, following Parks and Recreation with The West Wing really does make for a very strange Rob Lowe experience.

Two weeks ago, I took a fictional holiday from Parks and Rec, Galentine's Day, and I really celebrated it with friends. Along with enough other people that #GalentinesDay started trending. It was wonderful.

And tonight, I cried at the series finale in the best possible way.

I typed out a whole essay about how great Leslie Knope is as a character, and why this show is beautiful, and how I think it's exactly what we needed in our cultural landscape. But it was very sloppy, not very well thought out, certainly not worthy of Leslie Knope and the Pawnee Parks Department, and derivative of pretty much everything everyone else in a position similar to mine will write about this show tonight. So I deleted it.

And then I typed out a whole other essay about how this ending was just a perfect way to bookend our experience of our characters, and didn't try to do too much... and then I was going to go into other series finales that have disappointed me. But spreading a sentiment like that is the opposite of the point of Parks and Rec, and one of the things this show has given me the most is a solidification of the fact that that's not the person I want to be. I want to be passionate, loving, and eager, not cynical and bitter. I want to be like Leslie. She would never write something like that. So I deleted that, too.

I'm not sure I can properly summarize my feelings for this show or give it a proper tribute in the kind of feelings-vomiting-onto-my-screen blog post this is becoming.

So I'll just say that I'm so glad we had a beautiful, fitting ending to this wonderful show that has more heart to it than any other I've seen. It makes people happy. It certainly made me happy. And I know it will continue to make me happy every time I see it. I'm sure I'll see it a lot.

More than that, I can't wait to see what comes from the legion of people inspired to be more like Leslie Knope! Those beautiful land mermaids will literally be nothing short of extraordinary.

Parks and Recreation themed recipes!! (I can't think of a particularly appropriate life hack or fun fact, so I'm just going to do a recipe for all of the main characters because food seems like  a particularly good way to deal with my sadness at the show ending.)

Leslie Knope: Belgian Cookie Dough Waffle with Chocolate Whipped Cream. (Is it just like the waffles at JJ's Diner? No. Does it still look amazing? Hell yeah.)

Ben Wyatt: Roasted Garlic & Sun Dried Tomato Calzone.

Ron Swanson: Grilled Meat. Also, the Ron Swanson Turkey Burger.

Ann Perkins: Waffle Iron Cinnamon Rolls. (Again, not exactly a recipe, but damn, do you know how hard it was to come up with a specific food for Ann?? If anyone has any better ideas, please do share them!)

Chris Traeger: The Green Machine Smoothie.

Donna Meagle: Treat yo self.

Tom Haverford: The Tom Haverford Cocktail. (Also, if you ever need to know this proper name for something, this is your go-to site.)

Andy Dwyer: Andy's Mouth Surprise.

April Ludgate: "Thank you, alcohol."

Gerry Gurgich: Bacon, Egg, and Toast Cups.

Jon Stewart Leaving The Daily Show - "Oh my god! It's Hitler! He's back! Somebody save Jon Stewart! He's our most important Jew!" - Family Guy

In late spring 2009, I wrote a paper about how Tina Fey (particularly as Sarah Palin), Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart influenced our view of the Bush presidency, and the 2008 election. I didn't do that well on it. But, in all fairness, I was writing it for my AP US History class in late May/early June. Who assigns a major paper after you've already taken the AP exam?

In the fall of 2010, I wrote a very similar paper for Brandeis University. A ten page essay about how Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart affected the 2008 election. This time I got an A. To this day, it is something of which I am very proud.

Also in the fall of 2010, I paid somewhere around $80 to the Brandeis Democrats; a club with plenty of passion and drive and not a lot to immediately do at one of the most liberal universities in one of the most liberal cities in one of the most liberal states in one of the most liberal parts of the country. But I gave them this money and even briefly joined the club in order to get a seat on the bus they had going down to Washington DC to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It was one of my favorite days of my college years, I remember Jon Stewart's keynote speech to this day, and I probably always will.

I nearly cried when I heard that Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show.

Don't get me wrong, I am excited to see what else he can and will do! I absolutely loved Rosewater, and if he does more things like that, it will be a wonderful thing for indie film! And I know he still has a point of view, and an incredibly enviable position from which to express it, meaning that he absolutely will continue to do so. It's not like he's retiring or vanishing from public life, and I rest comfortably in the knowledge that he will still be around, making incredible things.

But man. Jon Stewart at The Daily Show has had such a profound influence on my life. He's the one that taught me the influence that comedy can have. It's through watching this show that I firmly believe that the best way of speaking truth to power is by making power laugh. There is no better way to undermine something terrible than by making it absurd, and I know that because of him. (And, in all fairness, also Mel Brooks. But that doesn't quite fit in with the point of this post right now!) And Jon Stewart is the man who taught me how to not just accept the facts that are given to me, research everything for myself, and argue back. I am almost certainly a different person than I would otherwise have been because I watch his show.

I was going to write another paragraph about how much I admire him, how, while I desperately don't want to see him leave, I am awed at what he's done for and on television, and how I can't wait to see what he will do next, whether it be in television, in film, or even in straight up politics. (Honestly, he is such a smart, passionate man who genuinely knows about The Issues that I would legitimately be happy to vote him into any political office he might choose.) But you know, I think I've already gotten that point across. So instead, I'm just going to embed video of his speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity. Because it may not have been from The Daily Show itself, but it shows the kind of work he does, the kind of viewpoint he is a true champion of, and the manI will so miss on my TV screen four nights a week after he leaves in September/December/July/the-details-are-still-being-worked-out.

And then I'm embedding a video of the end of a bit of his that I absolutely love, and will one day send to an ex. This bit, for the record, is absolutely not safe to play at work.

Enjoy.


Super Bowl 2015 - "Hey, instead of giving the ball to Marshawn Lynch and winning the Super Bowl, let's pass it instead and see what happens!" - The Seattle Seahawks, probably

Aw, that title wasn't nice of me. I won't say "I'm sorry," because I'm not, but I do respect for the Seattle Seahawks and their fans, and the Super Bowl this year was a really fantastic game of football. That being said, I'm a New England Patriots fan. Well, to be more accurate, first I'm a New York Giants fan, because I will always, always support the team that is from New York. But I didn't start to care about football until I was in college... in New England. Of course there's a special place in my heart for the Patriots.

But you really can't argue any of that with me. I get weird looks all the time for having those be my choices of teams, especially in New York. But I'm the super obnoxious sports fan who doesn't actually care about the sport unless I'm watching the game, in which case I'll cheer super loudly for whichever team I've picked.

The exception to this is, of course, my undying love for baseball and the New York Yankees.

The thing is, my view towards most sports is not an uncommon one. The phenomenon of "watching the Super Bowl for the commercials" is wide spread, and watching "the Big Game" has become an American tradition with foods and rituals almost on par with Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. It's such a popular tradition that it even gets celebrated a little across the world - when I was living in London, there was a huge Super Bowl party at Queen Mary, University of London.

(In all fairness, the QMUL Super Bowl party might have just been big that year because it was when Beyonce did the halftime show and she is a goddess. I really don't know for sure.)

So I was thinking about what it might be that makes us all care about this game so much when there's so little reason for us to do so. We don't seem to care about the teams; it's annually the single most most watched thing on TV. We spend 364 days a year trying to avoid commercials as much as we can. And it's not like eating wings and potato chips with beer is anything special.

Americans have a constant need to create things that are uniquely American. Maybe it's because our communal consciousness is determined to prove that we are more than the sum of our cultural parts. Maybe it's what naturally happens when you have a place that is designed to be a "melting pot" of cultures, peoples, and experiences. But we come out with new art forms, new traditions, and new facets of culture far more frequently than any other place on the planet. We certainly have our forms of music, dance, art, etc. that are American, just like India, China, Western Europe, et cetera do. But then we also created film. Television. Radio. Things with which everyone else has had to catch up. And we are the biggest consumers of them, as well.

There are other artists, the kinds who don't care about sports and have a Buzzfeed-type article titled "The Super Bowl as Explained to Actors" shared every year on their Facebook wall, who would decry my saying this. But I believe that the Super Bowl rests culturally on the same levels as do our great films and shows. And that's why it's so popular. It is, of course, a tradition. It is a way for us to come together with friends and have fun. But it is also a celebration of American greatness, of how much we can achieve as a people, and the kind of influence for good we can have in the world, if other peoples join in. Traditions, events, and holidays are every bit as much a part of our culture as our art.

It is entirely possible that I'm saying all of this and being super patriotic because I'm still binge watching The West Wing. (I'm at a point now where, based on the quote "What are you doing?" "Just... trying to get a little pizza in an uncivilized world." "It's not easy being you," I firmly believe that Leo McGarry and Josh Lyman understand me.) Or maybe I've just been missing my American history classes. Maybe it's just that this year's Super Bowl was a really, really fantastic game, and I'm still feeling the effects half a week later.

But I genuinely do believe that the Super Bowl is something special about American culture, and I love not just how it's celebrated, but how it celebrates us, and, like a Super Bowl McDonald's commercial would tell me to do, I'm loving it.

West Wing Binge Watch 2k15 - "No. No 'however.' Just be wrong. Just stand there in your wrongness and be wrong and get used to it." - President Josiah Bartlett, The West Wing S1E17

You know, there were a lot of things I wanted to write about in this blog post. I wanted to write about the Critics' Choice Awards, the SAG Awards, what it means to be a member of the actors union. I wanted to write about this acting class I've been taking at The Barrow Group, how good it is, and the importance of training and, more importantly, training correctly. I wanted to write about British TV and British actors and how they're taking over in the US; as anyone who knows me is aware, I absolutely love talking about British stuff. There is a whole myriad of things I could've discussed here today.

But I can't do any of it. Why? Because I started watching The West Wing on Netflix, and it's all I can think about.

You guys it's so good. The Netflix blurb about it claims that it was ranked the 7th best drama of all time. Now, I don't know when those rankings came out, and as I firmly believe we are living in a golden age of television, I think there are some series that could give it some serious competition. I'm looking at you, Breaking Bad. But the idea that it is at least very highly ranked and well regarded is something that I am absolutely on board with.

The thing that's particularly interesting in watching it is seeing not just the differences between the late 90's-early 00's and now, but the similarities! Our dealings with China. How ravaged African nations are by AIDS, and the extent to which Americans lump all of them together into just "Africa." Education. Gay rights. Healthcare. It's almost depressing that these issues don't go away... but it's handy because it means the series isn't too dated! The risk with watching anything more than five or so years old is that sometimes the issues just aren't a problem anymore, or something that was normal then seems strange to someone watching now. But I'm not experiencing that at all with The West Wing! Maybe I'm older than I feel I am, and I remember these things being issues so well that it just seems current to me... but I'd much rather think of it as the series just holding up well and not being dated.

Of course, don't get me wrong, the differences are worth looking at, too! There's one in particular that I'd like to point out: An episode I was watching last night had Josh Lyman arguing with a congressman about a bill that placed another ban on gay marriage. One of the points that the congressman brought up was that the majority of the population was against gay marriage. Only fifteen years ago, polls said that the majority of Americans thought that LGBTQ+ people shouldn't be allowed to get married. Now 36 states have legal same-sex marriage, and later this year the Supreme Court is going to decide whether or not it's constitutional on a federal level. It's just amazing to me how far we've come in such a relatively short period of time.

Beyond any of that, though, it's good television. It's dramatic, it made me yell at my television/computer screen, it's funny, the characters are complex, and, naturally, the writing feels effortless. Characters speak in incomplete sentences, they cut each other off, they say stupid things, sometimes they don't, and storylines are woven together, in and around each other, to keep episodes flowing together while not having to bother with a massive, overarching season or series plot. It's Aaron Sorkin at his best.

I suppose that's just it for me. The West Wing is everything The Newsroom could have been. It's a little bit sad when put that way, but it's true. And it just makes me love The West Wing that much more.

And I have more than five and a half seasons left of it!

Before I finish this post, I'd like to throw in just a few more observations that I've made about the series from the less-than-a-season-and-a-half I've seen so far that are far less intellectual and analytical but, I think, still deserve to be said:

  • The level to which I identify with Donna Moss is extraordinary. I would say that I want to be her when I grow up but... aside from what happened to make her join up with Bartlet and, more specifically, Josh, I pretty much already am her. And I love her. I'm not even jealous of Janel Moloney for getting to play her because she's just perfect.
  • I think Josh Lyman/Bradley Whitford is really attractive? Like...?? I did not expect this. My type is usually tall, blonde, and British, with sharp, prominent cheekbones. And occasionally that type can be broken - my attraction to Sam Seaborn/Rob Lowe is not really a surprise because have you seen Rob Lowe - but...??? Granted, his personality is right up my alley. Someone who is a massive jerk but still a good guy when it comes to the stuff that matters will get me every time. But man, I did not expect this. I didn't even realize it until more than halfway through the first season. And now I want to give him the biggest hug, like, all the time. It's weird. But very, very present.
  • Toby when he's doing the right thing and being a good guy is the most awkwardly adorable thing. Also, I love having a Jewish guy there, especially since his Judaism is a significant part of who he is. Not all of who he is. Not even most of who he is. But a significant part.
  • I so deeply appreciate how Sorkin allows Republican characters to make excellent points. He really never did that in Newsroom (and, no matter what he said, Will McAvoy was not a Republican) and I do like how the major characters reflect the views that I personally hold. But it's so rare now, even in real life, to see a Republican articulately arguing his/her point of view that it's not only refreshing to see it here but has occasionally genuinely made me think about my own political beliefs and why I believe them.
  • All of the actors on this show are very much actors' actors. And the writer is a writers' writer. And I can feel myself getting better both as an actress as well as a writer just from watching this show. It's wonderful.

"I don't deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either." - Jack Benny

The Drinky Oscars, commonly known as the Golden Globes, are tonight!

Guys, I really love awards shows. I know they can oftentimes be incredibly superficial, and, especially when compared with what people actually see when they go to the movies, they can even be borderline meaningless.

But the glamor! The stars! The movies! The television! The dresses! Guys, I really love awards shows.

And since I'm particularly feeling the awards season this year, I figured I'd put together a list of the Golden Globes nominees, who I think is going to win, and (sometimes) why!

If you guys want to discuss it, I'll be on my Twitter all night (@EmmaLieberman), just aching for somebody to fangirl over it with me!

As a reference, my predicted winner will be in italics, with the category in bold.

Best Motion Picture, Drama
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything

You guys know how much I absolutely adore The Theory of Everything, and in my heart it totally wins best picture. But after a 12 year shoot, with a coming-of-age story where, as Jon Stewart said, you can literally watch the main actor come of age, I really can't imagine anything beating Boyhood.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama

Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Jennifer Aniston - Cake

I'll fully admit I've only seen two of the films in this category. But even though it's one of the films I haven't seen, I think Reese Witherspoon is going to get it for Wild. So much of the film was just her that I think it's what is going to make her win. Jennifer Aniston is my dark horse for this category, though. All of this despite the fact that I firmly believe that Felicity Jones is not getting nearly enough recognition for The Theory of Everything.

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama

Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
David Oyelowo - Selma
Jake Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler

I genuinely feel bad for everyone else in this category. There were such strong performances all around here! Especially Steve Carell, who was pretty transformed in Foxcatcher... but just not to the same degree as Eddie Redmayne. Not only did he have the same level of performance as the others here, but he also made an incredible physical transformation, so if he doesn't win it is an absolute travesty.

Best Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Into the Woods
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
St. Vincent
Pride

Birdman counts as a musical or comedy? I'm not really sure that it does, but I am considering that it was just stuffed into this category so it could win along with Boyhood.

Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Julianne Moore - Maps to the Stars
Amy Adams - Big Eyes
Emily Blunt - Into the Woods
Helen Mirren - The Hundred Foot Journey
Quvenzhane Wallis - Annie

Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy

Michael Keaton - Birdman
Bill Murray - St. Vincent
Ralph Fiennes - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Christoph Waltz - Big Eyes
Joaquin Phoenix - Inherent Vice

Best Animated Feature Film

The Lego Movie
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
Boxtrolls

Does it ever feel like sometimes the animated category is just a list of all the animated films that came out that year? My pick is easily The Lego Movie since it had such heart as a story. But my dark horse is The Book of Life - it's more multicultural, and... I don't want to say "more" artistic, but artistic in a whole other very interesting way!

Best Foreign Language Film

Ida
Force Majeure
Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem
Tangerines
Leviathan

I don't feel qualified to make a pick here since I haven't seen any of these films, and I haven't seen much discussion or buzz about them.

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Jessica Chastain - A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods
Emma Stone - Birdman

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Edward Norton - Birdman
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher

I feel like this is going to be the "make sure Whiplash gets something" category. I think that Edward Norton's performance was fantastic, but I don't know if it was enough to rise over anyone else's here, and they don't want just a couple of films to sweep everything.

Best Director - Motion Picture

Ava DuVernay - Selma
Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Birdman
David Fincher - Gone Girl
Richard Linklater - Boyhood

Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Nicolas Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo - Birdman
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Graham Moore - The Imitation Game

I thought Gone Girl was a very fun, solid film. But I don't think it was necessarily awards-worthy. I do think that screenplay, however, is where it gets recognized. The story (and, more specifically, the way it was adapted for the screen) was just so clever, surprising, concise, and clear.

Best Original Score - Motion Picture

Alexandre Desplat - The Imitation Game
Johann Johannson - The Theory of Everything
Trent Raznor, Atticus Ross - Gone Girl
Antonio Sanchez - Birdman
Hanz Zimmer - Interstellar

I really enjoyed the Interstellar score, but I'm really not sure it was the best, and we all know that Hanz Zimmer can do better than "mot sure it was the best." When we come around to the Oscars, I think The Theory of Everything is going to get it, absolutely. It's score was so gorgeous that I listened to it several times over after seeing the film, and I had my heart broken by just the music all over again, every time. But the Birdman score was innovative, interesting, it told the story of the film as an interwoven part of the film, it's unlike anything any of us have heard before, and the only reason I think The Theory of Everything beats it for an Oscar is because, for whatever reason, the Birdman  score doesn't qualify for the Oscars; it's not being nominated. Which, in my educated opinion, is dumb.

Best Original Song - Motion Picture

Big Eyes
Selma
Noah
Annie
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I

Best TV Series - Drama

Downton Abbey
The Affair
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
The Good Wife

Best Actress in a TV Series - Drama

Viola Davis - How to Get Away with Murder
Claire Danes - Homeland
Julianna Margulies - The Good Wife
Robin Wright - House of Cards
Ruth Wilson - The Affair

Best Actor in a TV Series - Drama

Kevin Spacey - House of Cards
Clive Owen - The Knick
James Spader - The Blacklist
Dominic West - The Affair
Liev Schreiber - Ray Donovan

Best TV Series - Musical or Comedy

Orange is the New Black
Girls
Jane the Virgin
Transparent
Silicon Valley

Best Actress in a TV Series - Musical or Comedy

Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Edie Falco - Nurse Jackie
Gina Rodriguez - Jane the Virgin
Lena Dunham - Girls
Taylor Schilling - Orange is the New Black

It's time for Edie Falco to be awards-style recognized for Nurse Jackie. The rest of them will have their time. Their shows aren't going anywhere. My dark horse is Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for the same reason as Edie Falco, but... less.

Best Actor in a TV Series - Musical or Comedy

Don Cheadle - House of Lies
William H. Macy - Shameless
Ricky Gervais - Derek
Jeffrey Tambor - Transparent
Louis C.K. - Louis

I feel like this is so Louis C.K.'s year. He's got the talent. He's got the performance. He's got the buzz. I think he's going to the the Golden Globe.

Best TV Movie or Mini-Series

Olive Kitteridge
Fargo
The Missing
True Detective
The Normal Heart

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Jessica Lange - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Maggie Gyllenhaal - The Honorable Woman
Frances McDormand - Olive Kitteridge
Allison Tolman - Fargo
Frances O'Connor - The Missing

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Martin Freeman - Fargo
Matthew McConaughey - True Detective
Woody Harrelson - True Detective
Billy Bob Thornton - Fargo
Mark Ruffalo - The Normal Heart

It's a bit of a toss-up between Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson for this one. I picked Matthew McConaughey because I heart just a touch more about his performance. But a lot of it was also in conjunction with Interstellar. So I'm really not sure! But regardless, I'm pretty sure that True Detective will win here.

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Kathy Bates - American Horror Story: Freak Show
Uzo Aduba - Orange is the New Black
Joanne Froggatt - Downton Abbey
Michelle Monaghan - True Detective
Allison Janney - Mom

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Bill Murray - Olive Kitteridge
Jon Voight - Ray Donovan
Matt Bomer - The Normal Heart
Alan Cumming - The Good Wife
Colin Hanks - Fargo

Not making a pick here either. I just don't know enough - a girl can only see so many things in a year!

If any of you have comments/agree or disagree with anything here, though, please do let me know! Awards season discussion is, after all, one of my favorite not-so-guilty pleasures.

EEE Golden Globes!

"The truth is anyone can read the news to you. I promise to feel the news at you." - The Colbert Report, Pilot

The Colbert Report ended tonight, you guys. And I'm genuinely upset about it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm excited for Stephen Colbert! He's going to go on to the Late Show! And I'm absolutely certain he's going to be amazing.

I'm genuinely not sure I've ever cried because a show was ending before, though. I know I've cried because of the things that have happened in TV finales. But you better believe that I had literal tears streaming down my face for pretty much half of the show tonight, just because it is no longer going to be on the air.

For that to not sound totally insane, I need you to understand just how much I respect and admire this man. I watched his show religiously almost since it started airing. ("Religiously" in that yeah, I've missed episodes, and there have even been chunks of time when I would prioritize other things above it and maybe even not see it for months at a time, but I still always came back to it, and I felt guilty whenever I'd miss a week.) I've written multiple academic papers about how he, along with Jon Stewart/The Daily Show and Tina Fey/Sarah Feylin, influenced the 2008 presidential election. I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Hell, I've even gone to comic cons dressed up as him!

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He has been an inspiration on my TV or computer screen every Monday through Thursday evening. Or, more realistically, he has been an inspiration on my TV or computer screen every Tuesday through Friday afternoon when I actually got around to watching The Colbert Report on my TiVo or online.

I feel like I'm talking about Stephen Colbert as if he's died, which is certainly not what I mean to do! I know that he will continue to be an inspiration every weeknight starting... well, he starts the Late Show in the summer, I think, so he will continue to be an inspiration after a bit of a break. I just want to properly memorialize what an incredible thing he did with nine years at The Colbert Report. It's the most important and influential piece of satire I've have ever and probably will ever experience. (And before anyone with an English degree asks, yeah, I've read "A Modest Proposal.") He's an extraordinary, intelligent, sharp, and funny man. And, if interviews and the things that people have said about him are to be believed, he's a kind, warm, and friendly human being, as well. He could've had anyone he wanted for his last ever guest last night, and instead of having on some crazy celebrity, or someone who could help him be self-congratulatory, he had on a short story writer to talk about experiences in Iraq, particularly through the war. If that's not the action of the best kind of person, I don't know what is.

Basically, with the end of The Colbert Report, I think this is just an especially good time to remember all that he has done, and how proud I am and always will be to be a member of the Colbert Nation.

Finally... can I just say how excited I am for The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore that will be taking his time slot? Like, not just because diversity in late night (although that is certainly very, very exciting!) but also just because Larry Wilmore is incredibly funny, and I can't wait to see what he does with his own spin on current events! January 19th! It's gonna be great. I can feel it.

"I have a blog?" - The Newsroom, "We Just Decided To" (S1E1)

Or: Why I Love The Newsroom and You Should Too

Guys, The Newsroom is back for it's third and final season, and I need to tell you all why, despite how unrealistic it is, and how it treats its women, I love it so much.

And don't get me wrong. It's incredibly unrealistic. It's all about a team of newsmen and women who decide to do a nightly newscast that's the news the way it should be done, as opposed to a newscast that's sensational and driven by ratings. Even when their ratings go down (which they do - the show doesn't shy away from the fact that people don't want to watch the news) they decide to hold fast, and in the end, that's what makes them strong.

And it does treat its women pretty badly. They are all, of course, very intelligent and beyond competent professionally, but leave the professional world and each and every one of them is a ditz who can't handle her personal life. This is pretty standard for showrunner Aaron Sorkin, and it irritates me beyond belief.

But. You guys. Like I said, this show is created and written by Aaron Sorkin, and it has all the good, and the bad, that comes with that. (For those of you to whom the name sounds familar but you can't quite place it: Aaron Sorkin was also the person behind Sports Night, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The West Wing, and The Social Network, among others!) The bad: I mentioned how Sorkin deals with women. Also, it's incredibly liberal, trying to masquerade as moderate (although whether that's because it's actually liberal or because conservatives refuse to compromise leading anything that isn't conservative to seem super liberal is up for debate), and it puts forth all of it's arguments about politics and the way the country should be run in such a way that it insists that you must be an ignoramus if you don't agree.

That being said, sometimes it is pretty hard to disagree with the scenes in this show. Sorkin has a gift for cutting right through the bullshit to the heart of whichever problem he chooses to deal with, and then taking that heart out and presenting it for all to see. The opening scene of The Newsroom has been passed around, so you may have seen it before, but it's still incredibly, incredibly effective.

But, despite that, he also has created a beautifully idealistic show. As Mackenzie McHale, one of our leading ladies, is fond of saying, it insists that "we can do better!" And I love that mindset. The idea that no, we're not perfect. But if we work at it, we can be not just what we want to be, but what we should be. We can be the kind of people who do what's right because it's the right thing to do. The kind of people who choose to be informed. The kind of people who can make a difference in the world.

And watching the characters of The Newsroom either be or become that makes it difficult for viewers to not want to be or become that themselves. And anything that makes people care more is pretty amazing to me!

In the spirit of fairness and full disclosure, I usually watch this show with my mother, and she doesn't love it quite as much as I do. She says that I'm somewhat blinded by how attractive John Gallagher Jr. and Thomas Sadoski are. I say that she's ignoring just how pretty Dev Patel, Alison Pill, and Olivia Munn are as well when she says that. But I would be lying if I said I didn't have a crush on any of them/their characters. (For the record, if you know their characters, that one is Don Keefer, as played by Thomas Sadoski. Something about guys who are moral jerks and aren't unwilling to challenge you but also support you at the same time just gets me, man.) But I sure hope that doesn't completely nullify everything I have to say about the show as well! The fact that they're all very, very attractive doesn't change the way Sorkin writes women. But I thought I'd throw it out there. This show has a beautiful cast.

I suppose this was necessarily a pretty vague blog post, mainly because I wanted to keep it spoiler free. But if any of you would like to discuss anything about The Newsroom, from the series overall to the most recent episode (having to relive the Boston Bombings was awful, but I so appreciate how they always handle news events, especially ones like that, in the classiest possible way), please go ahead and comment! And I'm just going to issue a blanket *spoiler alert* for the entire comments section, in case anyone has anything they'd like to say!

I'm Will McAvoy. Good night.

"There are only two things I love in this world: Everybody and television!" - 30 Rock, "Believe in the Stars" (S3E2)

I was once having a conversation with an incredible woman who was directing a show that I was in at the time. We were both theater students at Brandeis then, and we were discussing, between film, television, and theater, which simulates real life the most.

She made the argument that theater does. Live performance is just that - it's live. It's really happening right then as you're living, and even assuming you're watching a traditional play where the lines are all rehearsed and memorized, and you're working with a theater set that has to be slightly fudged to work in a theater space (you cannot build a full house for a play that takes place in a home, after all,) anything still can happen. Things change, lines get messed up, and the production still has to deal with all of that and move on. Every performance is different, making the show a living, breathing thing on its own. And because of all of that, theater most closely simulates real life.

I disagree, however. Not about the performance itself - live theater is certainly the most live, as it's, well, live. But I think the most true-to-life medium, by far, is television.

Guys, I love television so much.

Not to say that I don't love film, theater, or webseries! (Webserieses? Websierae? Websieri?) They all absolutely have their advantages, and there are amazing works in all of them, and I love them! Don't misunderstand me, I'm not trying to say that I think one is better than the others.

But I really do love television. The very thing that draws me to it is one of its major defining features - how episodic it is. I love how it comes on every week, and something new happens. The story doesn't just open and shut. It can't be neatly summed up in two or three hours. Television stories wind, and take tangents, and weird things happen, and people come in and out, and they take weeks and weeks to happen. Usually there are multiple storylines where every person is doing something different and working towards a different goal. Characters change at the same pace that we do. Characters grow old, and pass milestones in their life. And often, you keep going past the happy ending to see what comes next. (See: Monica and Chandler's relationship in Friends. Do not see: Ted and Tracy in the broadcast ending of How I Met Your Mother. That went way too far past the happy ending, and I'm still not over it. But that's a blog post for another day.)

Even television that isn't based around a specific story is great. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, under the guise of a comedic parody of a news show does legitimately fantastic reporting on some issue or another that I barely even knew about before he talked about it. As much as it's kind of depressing that Jon Stewart is considered the most trusted newscaster in America when he's not a newscaster, he manages to make a demographic of people care about politics when they otherwise might not have. In fact, I've written academic papers about the effect that Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey (as "Sarah Fey-lin") had on the 2008 presidential election. At some point or another we've all dreamed about hosting Saturday Night Live. And, especially at its peak, the go-to conversation topic for most of us was what happened in the past week on American Idol. Television brings us together, and creates countless phenomenons that, in many ways, have shaped our modern culture as a whole.

...I, clearly, have a hard time shutting up when it comes to television. So I'm just going to stop now before this ordinary blog post turns into a full-on academic paper.

But guys, I love television so much.

"It's my tea tray." - Mulaney, "Pilot" S1E1

It's been nearly a week since I last posted and that's because Something Has Happened last week and I'll post about this Big News tomorrow but for right now I just watched the series premiere of Mulaney and I had to write about it.

Guys, I want Mulaney to do well. I want it to do well really badly. John Mulaney is my favorite stand up comedian, and I want to see his TV show succeed! Plus, I love a sitcom where the premise isn't all about ~married life~ or ~life with kids~; a kind of premise which almost universally pigeonholes women into roles where they're ridiculous and their husbands are the calm, correct, straight men that always save the day at the end of the episode. Instead, it's about the life of a comedian - a premise with which I can highly identify! So I am super behind Mulaney and I so want it to do well.

And I think that it can! I think that it has the seeds of something really fantastic, and if it expands on those, then it can be wonderful. Elliott Gould's character is so vibrant, I want to learn more of his back story! Martin Short has excellent on screen energy. Nasim Pedrad is the perfect choice to play Jane in this particular show - she really knows how to bring nuance to comedic characters in a very short period of time, and she can make even the absurd things that a comedic character does feel natural and believable. And, of course, John Mulaney's writing is hilarious.

My biggest problem was that I had seen a lot of it before, and this was the pilot. So many of the scenes in this show came straight from stories in Mulaney's stand up, almost word for word. They also felt forced - I don't know if it's because I'm already so familiar with his stand up work that seeing these scenes acted out seemed strange to me. Perhaps, if someone had never heard those bits, those scenes wouldn't be weird at all.

But I'm already nervous for him, wondering what he's going to do when he runs out of those stories. And the thing is, I know that he can do better than that; it was even shown in this episode! Every scene and story line that were original and separate from his stand up totally worked on their own. Some more than others - I can't go into detail without spoiling things - but he can absolutely write for TV. I just wish he'd trust that ability.

Speaking of ability, where was his acting? He seemed so wooden throughout the episode, and I've seen his stand up specials. Obviously. You know, in case you hadn't surmised that by now. I've watched them. And he's far more expressive and animated in those! You can even see that in the parts where he is deliberately doing stand up - he feels far more comfortable holding the mic in front of a crowd than he feels acting in front of a camera. But I really hope he gets used to it soon... the lead not shifting expression is a very difficult thing to recover from.

I only had two other problems with the episode. One was the lack of acknowledgement of just how much this is derived from Seinfeld. Not only is it clearly in the same vein, it's almost exactly the same show, just more modern and with different personalities in the same roles. If it came from a more obscure show, then it wouldn't be such a big deal, but Seinfeld is literally one of the best and most well known television programs (not just comedies - television programs overall) of all time. That seriously has to be at least played with. They can tease at it, they can make it a running joke of some kind, but they can't just ignore it. It's so abundantly obvious that it's distracting.

Finally, it could've done better by it's women. By which I mean, it's woman. There's only one (on screen, anyway) and she is literally deliberately portrayed as "crazy". And I'm really not sure what the joke was with Motif's "problem bitch" but there is not always a "problem bitch" and I don't understand how it could've gotten so popular without the joke actually existing. Especially when it doesn't exist, AND it's insulting to women. And there were so many opportunities for women in this show. I love Elliott Gould, and I'm so happy to see him in something again, but there's no reason his character couldn't have been a woman. Or the drug dealer. Or Donna could've done more... although, in all fairness, they may bring her in more later. But for this episode at least, they could've done better, and I really don't understand why they didn't.

I feel like I've been dumping on the show a lot already. And do understand, I really did enjoy it! I love pretty much anything John Mulaney will come out with, and I'm still happy to support this show all the way through to the bitter end. It's not exactly perfect just yet. But I also get the feeling that once the show settles in, finds its voice, and gets way more confident, Mulaney could be really, really excellent television. And I am so excited for that to happen. I just hope it gets that chance.

Although, with Lorne Michaels behind it, I think it will. 30 Rock wasn't exactly gold when it first started, either, and then it became... I'm hesitant to call anything "perfect," but it was basically perfect. I have every faith that Mulaney can be, too.

"Ben Wyatt: Human Disaster" - Parks and Recreation, "Media Blitz" (S3E5)

Oh man, I can't believe it's been over a week since I last updated. My bad!

In my own defense, though, I've been binge watching Parks and Recreation, and oh man is it going to clean up at the Emmy's next year for it's final season. It's fantastic.

There are two things that make Parks and Rec so fantastic, and they are 1) the deadpan, snarky, satirical things it has to say about our government, the bureaucracy it relies on, and the attitude of the people who are supposed to govern us, and 2) how it has this incredible amount of, as my mother would call it, "heart".

The heart is my favorite.

Don't get me wrong, comedy that has a point of view is an extraordinarily powerful thing. It can build great ideas up, and it can tear them down just as easily. Look at how absurd Mel Brooks makes Nazis look in The Producers! And believe you me, I would follow Jon Stewart to the ends of the Earth if he asked. And Parks and Rec makes some excellent points about the kind of people working in our government today, and how much better things could be with more Leslie Knopes in the world.

But oh my god it's also so cute. I'm only halfway through, and I already love almost every single character on that show. The show just lets them live. They all have strengths that they show off and weaknesses that hold them back, and they are not defined by either one. Their strengths don't make them obnoxious, and their weaknesses don't make them pathetic. They make them vulnerable, which is a quality to which, especially when shown willingly, we as people find ourselves incredibly attracted.

(The only exception might be Jerry, I think. He's just constantly so put down upon, and man, I keep wanting him to do something about it, and he never does. If they don't let him have some kind of comeuppance soon, I'm... well, I'm not going to do anything. But it'll make me sad.)

Anyway. I'm only halfway through the show as it is presented to me on Netflix right now, so I can give a much more in depth analysis later, when I actually catch up. But for right now, you guys... it's so good. If you haven't seen it yet, you should get on that! Just in time for it's final season, too! Willingly tear your heart out of your chest that it's ending - it'll be great!

As for other things happening - it's the final weekend of Frankenstein at The Footlight Club! If you haven't come to see it yet, you totally should. Links to buy tickets are on my "Upcoming Events" page! AND if you buy your tickets online and say that you're coming to see me, you can help me win a contest among the cast over who can get the most ticket sales! It's a win-win! You get to see an awesome show, and I could get a small prize. I think it's a good trade off.

Also, I had another photoshoot with Chris Cavalier the other day! It was a really interesting concept - he took photos of me in my home, surrounded by my own stuff, to get a different kind of casual in the pictures. But I'll talk about that a bit more when I have the images themselves to show off!

Finally, it's Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year. So, l'shanah tova, everybody! Happy new year! I hope 5775 is a year filled with happiness, contentment, sweetness, and love.