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The Joy of an Artfully Placed F-Word in a PG-13 Movie

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Last week I saw the long-awaited (at least, for me) “Ocean’s 8” and it was overall good, if not a little bit flat. (I blame that on director Gary Ross, who also directed the first Hunger Games movie aka my least favorite Hunger Games movie.) While there were plenty of moments that were great, one thing that gave me a moment of glee was when a certain character (possibly the one featured in the above screenshot from the trailer) drops the lone f-bomb in an otherwise PG-13 movie. It got me thinking about how delightful the artful placement of that word in a film can truly be.

 

According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), only one f-bomb can generally be used in a PG-13 film, although some movies have been able to get around that. They seem to be much more lenient when it comes to violence though, which is one of the most ridiculous hypocrisies of the film industry. You’re okay with showing someone getting shot or beaten up in a movie that’s considered to be mostly okay for kids and teens, but if someone says a naughty word more than once it can only be for adults? I can’t find the logic in that, probably because there is none.

 

Because of this absurd limitation, films that want to maintain their PG-13 rating need to be choosy about if and when they choose to deploy their one use of the word. It’s often used in a moment of surprising humor or intense drama, or to put a very specific point on a very specific situation. If you can only use it once, you definitely have to make it count. It almost always provides a jolt of energy (good or bad, depending on your views on the word) to the viewer, who was used to the more subtle language leading up to that moment.

 

With the f-word making its way into more and more television shows that don’t exclusively air on the HBOs and Showtimes of the world, like “Mr. Robot” and “Pose,” it seems a little silly that film ratings are still so rigid in its use. It just a word, for heaven’s sake! And it’s not even a word that’s derogatory towards an entire race, gender or culture of people! Given its increasingly normal presence in common society, it seems like it might be time for the MPAA to reconsider their stance. Until then, I will eagerly await its single use in all of my favorite PG-13 movies and continue to grumble about how silly it all is.

 

What do you think? What’s your favorite use of a single f-bomb in a PG-13 film? Are you also still trying to find a friend that has a TIDAL log-in so you can listen to Everything is Love? If you get a hook-up, let me know. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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A Look Back at the 2018 Tony Awards

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

So the Tony Awards were last night. And they were…fine? It’s much harder to have a strong opinion on the outcome of an award show when you’ve barely seen any of the things that were nominated. As much as I love Broadway and theatre, it is incredibly frustrating that the best of the best is so expensive and so unattainable for the average viewer. I’m lucky that I’m able to see as much Broadway as I do and I barely scratch the surface of every theatre season. So with that in mind, here’s what I thought of last night.

 

The hosts were recent Broadway vets Josh Groban and Sara Bareilles. No shade to either Groban or Bareilles, who are lovely and very talented, but I expected them to be a little hokey and niche for the broader audience, kind of like when Alan Cumming and Kristen Chenowith hosted a few years ago. (To be fair though, anything would have been better than who hosted last year.) While they were definitely a bit quieter than a James Corden or a Neil Patrick Harris (who found a way to wriggle himself into the night’s events, although not in a positive way), overall they did a great job. Their musical numbers were largely pleasant and not overly cheesy, their banter felt natural and funny and nobody came out dressed as E.T. It’s a low bar to reach but hey, they reached it! Good for them.

 

The performances from the various shows were a nice glimpse into all of the things I haven’t seen, although I am partial to “Mean Girls,” the one musical I actually saw this season. I do wish they would bring back doing live scenes from the nominated straight plays though. It might be harder now to convince the big names in those shows to take the time out for rehearsal and whatnot, but it would be nice way to give that side of things a spotlight as well. Bruce Springsteen, who got a special Tony tonight for his basically sold-out series of shows on Broadway, did like 5 minutes of spoken word poetry followed by about a minute of singing, but was kind of outshone by Robert De Niro, who in his intro to Springsteen’s performance said something you can’t say on TV but I say in my daily life on basically an hourly basis.

 

As for the winners, again, I don’t know if I can really have much of an opinion. On the play side, I was happy to see “Angels in America” get a lot of love, since I kinda sorta saw it and thought it was fantastic. Laurie Metcalf won for her work in “Three Tall Women,” but I like to think it was also for “Lady Bird,” as every award she wins from now on will be since she was rudely snubbed at the Oscars. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two” won a whole bunch of awards, which is cool if you’re into that sort of thing. On the musical side, “Once On This Island” won Best Revival, but really won Best Show that Has a Live Goat in It, and “The Band’s Visit” nearly swept every category it was nominated in, including Best Musical. While I was hoping to see Tina Fey and the “Mean Girls” team get some trophies, I was kind of happy to see something a bit quieter get the love. So much of Broadway is so commercialized now, with “Mean Girls” and “Frozen” and “The Spongebob Squarepants Musical,” it’s hopeful to see that the stuff that isn’t based on some huge pre-existing entity (although “The Band’s Visit” is based on a 2007 Israeli film) is still shining through.

 

So that was the Tony Awards. Nothing too revelatory, but overall perfectly fine. Here’s hoping we all get to see more theatre in the year to come.

 

What do you think? Did you watch the Tony Awards last night? Were you too busy watching the season premiere of “Claws“? I haven’t gotten to watch it yet, no spoilers! And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Get Excited for the Tony Awards with this ‘SNL’ Sketch

 

If you’re missing all the pageantry and excitement of film awards season then get pumped for this Sunday night, because the 72nd Annual Tony Awards are here to celebrate the best and brightest of Broadway! I’ll be watching, even though I feel like I have very little skin in the game this year. I’ve only seen two of the nominated shows, “Angels in America” (which I technically saw a live streamed performance of in a movie theater last summer while it was in London, but it was basically the same production with the same cast other than like two people, so there) and “Mean Girls,” although those two were some of the most-nominated shows of the year. Clearly I have impeccable taste.

 

“Mean Girls,” which I mentioned in passing on the blog back when I lamented over the influx of musicals based on movies that seem to be taking over the stage, was delightful. Unlike other movie-to-musical adaptations, it wasn’t just a regurgitation of the film. Sure, it followed basically the same plot and hit a lot of the classic lines and moments people love, but it didn’t solely rely on this things and details were changed to both modernize it and make it a separate thing from the film, which I greatly appreciated.

 

As you probably know (or, at least I would assume you know if you actively read this blog) Tina Fey, queen of “SNL” and “30 Rock” and “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” wrote the film “Mean Girls” and actually received a Tony nomination herself for the book of the musical. She hosted the season finale of “SNL” a few weeks ago and appeared in the above pre-taped sketch that highlighted both the musical and its very talented cast and the fact that Fey will likely never follow in the footsteps of other big name stars attached to Broadway musicals and join that cast onstage for a performance. It’s very funny and a great way to get in the Broadway mood for the Tonys. As for the awards themselves, I’m sure I’ll have some thoughts on that next week.

 

What do you think? Have you seen “Mean Girls” the musical? Did you see the trailer for “Widows” today? Oh my god, I can’t wait to see that movie like, 50 times. Let me know what you think the comments! And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

‘American Idol’ Check In: IT’S OVER (For Now)

I was fully prepared to write an largely angry, largely critical post this week looking back at the season of “American Idol” that was. I was ready to further elaborate on how the viewing public that watches the show now isn’t a good barometer of what music and what artists are popular and marketable and how they’ll never produce a true superstar again if they don’t try to expand that audience. And to be fair, much of that is still true and will be things that the show has to grapple with as it enters its second season on ABC sometime next year. But then I watched the finale, which reminded me what makes this show great and unendingly watchable, no matter how much it can infuriate me.

 

The show’s outcome seemed to be set in stone: the charming and talented (but lacking pizzazz) Maddie would be eliminated halfway through the show, leaving us with Caleb and Gabby, the inexplicable front-runners from early in the voting rounds, to duke it out for the big prize. It would mirror season 10’s Scotty McCreary and Lauren Alaina, a finale that almost convinced me to stop watching the show entirely. It’s not that Gabby and Caleb aren’t talented, it’s just that they felt so inevitable that the show lost all its fun. Why bother watching and rooting for your favorites when you can see the numbers dwindling and know that at least two people are almost guaranteed a spot in the next round, knocking out chances for your pick? It feels like “Idol” has tried to curb the crazy people who vote hundreds of times in a night (like me circa 2005-2010) by placing limits on how many times you can vote for a single contestant and limiting the voting to the episode itself, but that can only go so far when a certain sect of the audience chooses to put all their might behind two people. And yet, that’s not what happened at all.

 

In a move that certainly shocked me back to life, Gabby did not make it into the final two. The country queen was eliminated, leaving Caleb and Maddie as the last ones standing. If we’re all being honest, Gabby never needed this show. All she needed to do was step one foot into Nashville and the record deals would have come pouring in. She was a fully formed performer the minute she stepped into her audition, which is fine, but I think it’s what made her so unpalatable to me.

 

My favorite “Idol” stories are when someone unassuming comes along and blows us out of the water with their voice. They might not be the full package yet, but by the time the season has ended and they’re walking away with the title, they’ve learned and grown and have become a full-fledged entertainer. Kelly Clarkson certainly fit that bill. Carrie Underwood, too. And Maddie, despite the seeming odds stacked against her, will join those ranks as the winner of the first season of the rebooted “American Idol.” Do I think that she’ll reach the level of fame that Kelly and Carrie have? Probably not. Her style of music, while lovely, is a little too niche and I can’t see it fitting in on mainstream radio amongst the Ariana Grande’s and Dua Lipa’s that are currently ruling the charts. But did her win make for a great story arc? Absolutely.

 

As for the rest of the two-hour finale, it provided everything that makes “Idol” entertaining. Electrifying performances (more electrifying than those of the final three, if you ask me) that paired other “Idol” finalists, like Jurnee, Michael, Ada, Cade and Dennis (aka the top five of my heart) with already established performers. There were montages and call-backs to jokes and moments from earlier in the season. There was even the truly surprising reveal that our final two, Caleb and Maddie, were actually a couple in real life! It was a highly enjoyable season finale of television.

 

Which brings me to what I think “American Idol” needs to do in its second season on ABC. What I realized this season is that “American Idol” isn’t really about the competition, at least not anymore. Yes, someone is crowned victorious over everyone else and gets a prize, but the outcome is not what we’re really there for. As corny as it sounds, we’re there for the journey. We’re there to meet these singing strangers, to see them grow and develop as the season goes on. We’re there to get invested in story lines, created or otherwise. People with backstories, with drama, with something to prove. It felt like ABC didn’t recognize that. They rushed through the whole thing so quickly it felt like we barely had any time to get to know the people we were supposed to be rooting for before they were gone.

 

So I would encourage ABC and the powers that be to focus more on the journey than the destination. If you’re going to spend weeks and weeks on auditions and on the trials of Hollywood week, give us an equal amount of time with the people that survived all of that to become the top 24! Get rid of the nonsense showcase weeks, or at least allow the viewing public to start voting during them, like it used to be. Stop eliminating multiple people a week and bring back the judges save. Maybe give one to each judge that they can use up until the final four, that way you can potentially get a few of those double eliminations that you seem to love so much down the line. Ultimately, don’t rush through it! People watch this show because they like the contestants and want to get to know them and see them perform a variety of songs. Let them do that at a normal pace! And please, for the love of god, don’t do another Disney week. That was horrible.

 

What did you think of the “American Idol” finale? Do you have any suggestions for what they can do differently next season? Did you cry at little bit over the cuteness of the “Christopher Robin” movie trailer? Winnie the Pooh and Paddington in one year is a lot, but I think we all deserve it for what we’re putting up with. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

A Fond Farewell to Winnie the Bish

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Amongst the many unfortunate cancellations that have taken over the last week or so, another great network sitcom said farewell. “New Girl,” Fox’s once “adorkable” series that ended up being truly laugh-out-loud funny over its seven season run, ended this past Tuesday.

 

Nothing too incredibly dramatic happened in the show’s final two episodes; (SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE FINAL TWO EPISODES OF “NEW GIRL”) Nick and Jess, after years of “will they won’t they, oh they did but we don’t like it so now they don’t, wait, I miss when they did so maybe they should again,” finally got married, and the whole gang said farewell to the loft they had all inhabited at some point over the show’s run. It was a nice, quiet farewell to a show that somewhat consistently remained enjoyable in a time where several others lost their way.

 

While many will likely speak of the group as a whole, or single out the likes of Zooey Deschanel’s Jess or Max Greenfield’s Schmidt as the standouts of a series full of strong comedic characters, I personally am going to miss Winston Bishop, aka Winnie the Bish, the most. Played hilariously by Lamorne Morris, Winston grew into a delightful weirdo that never failed to bring me joy.

 

Starting out in the series’ second episode as a replacement of sorts for Damon Wayans Jr.’s Coach, whose other show, “Happy Endings,” got renewed who moved out of the loft, Winston initially seemed like he might end up being a straight man of sorts to the show’s wackier front and center characters. Early story lines for him focused on his re-entry into the work force after leaving a career in Europe as a basketball player and while he certainly had his quirkier moments, they often seemed small in comparison to his more bombastic colleagues. But, as the show went on, we were lucky enough to see the writer’s experiment a little with Winston’s personality and give him great moments to shine.

 

From his complicated relationship with puzzles, to the dramatic monologue/rant he used once to get some ladies away from Nick and out of the loft, to the fact that he named his first child DanBill, Winston was full of wonderfully weird moments. The best, of course, came from his time with Furguson, a cat that he kinda-sorta stole from an ex-girlfriend who went on to become his best friend and the great love of his life (sorry Aly, you’re cool too). When it was revealed (SPOILERS AGAIN FOR THE FINAL SEASON OF “NEW GIRL”) that Furguson had died in an earlier episode of the final season, it proved to be one of the more emotional moments in the series. None of that would have been possible without Winston.

 

Which brings me back to the series finale, (MORE SPOILERS FOR THE SERIES FINALE, BUT TO BE FAIR, IF YOU’VE READ THIS FAR YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER) where, after learning that they were being evicted from the loft, Nick and Jess enlist Schmidt, Cece and, of course, Winston to help them pack and move to their new home. After reminiscing about their time there together, and playing one more game of True American (which offered a glimpse into a future where they all have kids and still hang out together as we all had hoped), we learn that they didn’t need to actually move out. Because they weren’t actually being evicted. It was all part of the most elaborate ruse Prank Sinatra aka Winston had ever concocted. It was perfect; even though he hadn’t been a part of the show’s initial plan, Winston had become so indispensable that the entire premise of the show’s final episode relied on his strange and wonderful hijinks.

 

So farewell Winston Bishop aka Winnie the Bish aka Brown Lightning aka Prank Sinatra. You, your weird charm and your penchant for bird shirts will truly be missed.

 

What do you think? Will you miss “New Girl,” especially Winston? Did you also scream at the sight of the first “Bohemian Rhapsody” trailer? Let me know in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Mourning the Loss of Three (Nearly Four) Great Sitcoms

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Scene from “The Mick” Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

While I could have easily written yet another post about how this “American Idol” reboot season continues to disappoint me despite its promising start, I’ll save that for after the season ends. Which is, insanely enough, next week. Because what’s more fun than spending weeks whittling down to the best of the best (or, at least, the best of the best and several mediocre talents getting by on their “approachable-ness”) only to speed through knocking them off like it’s the last 15 minutes of a Lifetime movie about a murderous babysitter? I could go on and on but I won’t, because there’s something else that has provoked my ire this week that we need to talk about.

 

Unfair cancellations of great television shows are a tale as old as time. From “Freaks and Geeks” to “Pitch” (of course I’m still thinking about “Pitch”), there are plenty of great programs that suffer from unfair comparisons to insane mega-hits or some other sort of network nonsense and ultimately fall by the wayside. This week, there were initially four big and upsetting cancellations before a move of heroism saved one of them, the beloved “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.” (Thank you, NBC!) Time to pour one out for the shows that aren’t with us anymore.

 

The Mick 2017-2018

I don’t know if I’ve ever shared my love for this wild series on this blog before, but it really was a delight. Following the endless antics of Mickey (played with frenetic brilliance by Kaitlin Olson) as she barely attempts to look after the nieces and nephews left in her care, “The Mick” was an endless study in hilarious extremes. It seemed like each week everything could fall apart, that their latest chaotic and crazy endeavor or scheme would ultimately be their undoing, and yet they would always find their way out of it, although not always in one piece. It also featured a rare child actor that can actually act and isn’t irritating in the form of Mickey’s youngest nephew, Ben (played by Jack Stanton). I will miss this show for all of these reasons and many more, but mostly for the fact that it ended on a hell of a cliffhanger for one character and I hate that I’ll likely never know how it plays out. Unless, of course, a little streaming service that rhymes with “Petflix” could save that day. (Not Hulu. I don’t have Hulu.)

 

The Last Man on Earth” 2015-2018

To be fair, it’s kind of amazing that this little show that could lasted as long as it did. It didn’t exactly have the kind of premise that would facilitate a hit comedy but as I’ve written about before on this blog, it made its unlikeliness work so well. An artful mix of absurdist, silly humor and true emotional impact, “The Last Man on Earth” continued to grow and develop into a fascinating character study even into its now final season. It just happened to also be a show that used the word “turd” like, a lot. I saw rumblings on Twitter that there might already be talks for Hulu to save this show from totally disappearing, but nothing has been officially reported yet. In the meantime, we can appreciate it for what it was, and not appreciate all of our friends who never watched it despite repeatedly being told to do so.

 

Great News 2017-2018

Arguably the most under-the-radar of the bunch, “Great News” filled the “30 Rock” sized hole in my heart, which made sense given that its creator, Tracey Wigfield was a writer on “30 Rock,” and Tina Fey was an executive producer. She even appeared in several episodes of the show’s second season, in a clear attempt by the network to pull in new viewers to the show. That attempt felt like the only one though; the show never seemed to be equally promoted alongside its other Thursday night counterparts. It also suffered from being last in the night as opposed to being sandwiched in-between two more popular shows. As a result, people didn’t come to know and love the show’s central mother-daughter relationship, or the wacky supporting characters that made up the world of MMN. It’s really a shame.

 

With these three shows gone, and a slew of new pilots that don’t sound entirely interesting or exciting, I fear that the moment of a great television comedy revival has come and gone. At least we still have “Superstore,” “Black-ish,” “The Good Place,” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” to enjoy. Hopefully I won’t be writing eulogies for them any time soon.

 

What do you think? Are you sad to see these three shows go? Or are you still angry about what happened on “American Idol” last night? Same. I’ll have a lot of say about that in the near future. Until then, share your thoughts in the comments and of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

I Feel Like We’re Good on New Medical Dramas For Now

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Screenshot from The Hollywood Reporter, taken by Jenn Murphy

Recently it was announced that NBC has ordered “New Amsterdam,” a medical drama, to series. The show will follow the new director of a hospital, who’s “maverick approach disrupts the status quo while always prioritizing patient care.” Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before, because I definitely feel like I have.

 

A maverick doctor with a new approach to medicine? Does he also have autism, like on ABC’s “The Good Doctor“? Is he always hooking up with other doctors to a killer soundtrack, like on “Grey’s Anatomy“? Is he tatted up and a little reckless, like on Fox’s “The Resident“? Does he live in Chicago, like on NBC’s other medical drama, “Chicago Med“? Or is he…Rob Lowe? I don’t really know anything about CBS’s “Code Black,” other than that it’s a medical drama and Rob Lowe is apparently on it now. What I’m trying to say is that making a new medical drama at this point is like reinventing the wheel: seemingly pointless and more than kind of unnecessary.

 

The same could be said for cop dramas, of which there appear to be at least 16 different network pilots following a group of cops or a single cop or cop-related crime in some way or another this year. Is this the way it always is? Do people just go for the safe bets of police and hospitals instead of trying to do something inventive and new? There are five shows running right now about hospitals and the people who work in them, but only one about a group of women running a nail salon that also happens to launder money for the Dixieland Mafia? Sixteen pilots about cops vying for a spot on TV and only one show currently running about a woman moving across the country to pursue her childhood crush that’s also a musical and an thoughtful look at the struggles that come with mental illness? And that show is set to end after its next season!

 

What we really need is more shows like those two. Shows that are different and exciting and don’t sound like a bunch of tropes that were pulled out of a hat. Yes, it’s harder to do that on network TV, where you have to satisfy both advertisers, networks heads and a viewing public that continues to keep shows like “Modern Family” and three different versions of “NCIS” running at the same time. But anything is possible if you just believe, right? Plus, we already have the perfect medical drama in “Grey’s Anatomy,” and if you disagree I feel sorry for you and your lack of a soul.

 

What do you think? Are you also feeling fatigued by the onslaught of new TV shows that focus on the same things as shows that are already airing? Have you been able to stop watching Childish Gambino’s (a.k.a. Donald Glover’s) video for “This Is America” since he dropped it Saturday night? Me neither. That guy is seriously firing on all cylinders. Let me know what you think in the comments. And, as if I need to tell you…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

‘American Idol’ Check In: Hey ‘Idol,’ Your Fatal Flaw Is Showing

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

I know, I know, I know…another “American Idol” post? So soon after the last one? I promise this isn’t turning into an “American Idol” blog, especially since there’s actually only three weeks of this magnificent mess left. For some reason, ABC has decided to burn through the part of the show that’s actually interesting, the part where the viewing public gets to vote, in lieu of…what? Making room for the premiere of “The Bachelorette”? A “Dancing With the Stars” spinoff featuring only “American Idol” castoffs? Another show where a quirky magician/dog groomer/doula is partnered with a cop so they can use their unique skill set to solve crimes? It doesn’t make sense that they would make such a big deal getting “Idol” and spend so much time on whittling it down to the top 10, the number that used to mean everything in earlier seasons, only to then knock off three a week like it doesn’t even matter. That being said, it might actually be for the best, given how things have gone down in the last two weeks.

 

When “American Idol” ended its 15-season run on “Fox” back in 2016, a part of me was relived. Even though I loved the show and was sad to see it go, I had grown frustrated with the people that ended up succeeding and thriving on it. They were all largely the same: male, generically handsome, permanently affixed with an acoustic guitar and overwhelmingly white. Some of those guys I liked, (I called Phillip Phillips’s “Idol” victory from his first audition and was totally on-board with it) but many felt incredibly unoriginal. The music industry is already chock-full of hunky white dudes with acoustic guitars, is it really smart to try and make another one happen? But it didn’t matter how I felt. It didn’t even really matter who I chose to vote for, even if I did spent hours plugging in the numbers. What mattered was what the rest of the viewing and voting public thought, and that’s often ends up being the problem.

 

I’ve said it before in so many words and I’ll say it again: “American Idol’s” voting audience is no longer conducive to selecting an actual superstar. It was in the earlier seasons, when wide, diverse swaths of the country were watching and making their selections. That’s how we got people like Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard and Fantasia Barrino. While Clarkson would likely thrive on the show now, it’s unlikely that she would win the title. Studdard and Barrino wouldn’t even be in the running. Because now the “Idol” voter demographic has clearly shrunk to a very small, very closed-minded group. Don’t believe me? Look at the comments on any “Idol” Facebook post about Ada Vox, the now unfortunately eliminated performer whose vocal range and talent would give any of the previous 15 “American Idol” winners a run for their money.

 

I had hoped that this new iteration of the show, with its willingness to allow openly gay contestants like Vox (real name: Adam Sanders) and Jurnee to be open on the show, and its support and promotion of talented contestants of color, would possibly avoid the pitfalls of previous seasons but it became clear that things had not really changed when the decision-making finally fell into the hands of the viewing public last week. It was stomach-churning to watch as white contestant after white contestant made it to the “safe zone,” voted through by the viewing public, while any contestant showing an iota of diversity was ushered to the “danger zone” where they had to hold out hope that the judges who fought for them would continue to do so and select them for the final four slots in the top 10. And luckily, they did: Jurnee, Michelle, Dennis and Ada were all saved thanks to Katy, Lionel and Luke. But they couldn’t save them this week.

 

Once again, the contestants bringing some of the most unique and affecting performances were on the chopping block. In fact, it was the same four that were saved by the judges last week who ended up vying for the final spot in the top 7. Jurnee was the one to get it. She and national treasure Michael J. Woodard are the only contestants of color left in the competition. It was deeply upsetting but not entirely surprising, given that only four “American Idol” winners aren’t white and only eight “American Idol” final two match-ups featured a person of color.

 

This isn’t to say that the other contestants still remaining in the competition aren’t talented and worthy of their time on this show (although I am getting real sick of Gabby’s decision to constantly slap a faux-country affect over her perfectly fine vocals and Caleb is a charming personality, but I liked his deep country bellow better when Scotty McCreary, who is still out there making music, did it back in season 10), and it’s not even to say that the show necessarily needs to be diverse if the talent just isn’t there. The problem is that that talent was, and in select cases, is, there; it’s just getting voted off at an alarming rate.

 

Looking at who’s left, I’m starting to wonder what kind of chance most of them really have once they win and start some semblance of a music career. A quick look at the current Billboard Top 100 songs top 10 showed that half of them are performed by artists of color. That number grows even bigger as you move down the list, showing that there is an audience seeking out more diverse and varied musical tastes. That’s just not the audience watching and voting on “American Idol,” which is ultimately the show’s fatal flaw.

 

The only way that “American Idol” will be able to produce an actual superstar again is if they find some way to truly broaden their audience so that the voting public will be more representative of the listening public. They’re certainly not helping their case by having a Disney-themed night or by making each episode a one-and-done, where people have to vote during the episode so that the results can be tabulated and eliminations made by the show’s 10 p.m. EST cutoff. It certainly didn’t appear to help poor Dennis, who went last and had mere minutes for people to judge his excellent performance’s vote-worthiness.

 

My initial belief that this season would be different has started to show its cracks. While I like to believe that Michael’s inherent charm and booming vocals or Jurnee’s astounding natural talent and presence will propel them to the top, it’s starting to seem less and less likely. I hope that I’m wrong, but “Idol” has yet to show signs that it can weather this storm. It’s not even really their fault anymore. They might have made this monster, but they’ve now lost all control. I don’t know how they can take back the reins, but they have to if they want to prove that bringing back “Idol” was a relevant and worthwhile decision.

 

What do you think? Have you been disappointed with the voting public’s decisions on “Idol” so far? Did you see “Mean Girls” the musical this past week? No? Well, I did. And it was great. So I guess all movie-to-musical adaptations aren’t entirely questionable. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

‘Killing Eve’ Is Killin’ It (Sorry, It Was Just Too Easy)

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

With so much filling the pop culture landscape, it can often be hard to keep up. It can also be hard for something new to stick out and catch the attention of viewers who could easily choose from thousands of other things to watch and enjoy. “Killing Eve” will (hopefully) not have that problem because it’s A) Great, obviously and B) Has the perfect amount of intrigue to pull you in and never let you go.

 

Based apparently on a series of novellas, this new BBC America series follows Eve Polastri (played by Sandra Oh), an American working as an operative for Britain’s security service as she tries to track down Villanelle, a skilled female assassin (played by Jodie Comer) that has captured her interest. Only three episodes have aired show far, revealing the series to have a perfect mix of drama and intensity with a wonderful ripple of very dark humor throughout. If you loved “Orphan Black,” BBC America’s last great series with a kick-ass leading lady (or ladies, depending on how you look at it), this might be the best way to fill that spot in your TV-loving heart.

 

Both Oh and Comer are wonderful in their respective roles, but it’s especially exciting to see Oh back on TV playing a character that’s absolutely perfect for her. While her long, wonderful run as Christina Yang on “Grey’s Anatomy” (aka the show that’ll never end and I’m perfectly okay with that) truly introduced her, it feels like this role is going to be the one to really cement her status as a special talent. Eve is smart, quirky, endearing and maybe a little too impressed with the killer she’s trying to find and Oh plays all of that brilliantly. She’s like Yang is Yang wasn’t so tightly wound. Comer plays Villanelle with a captivating, unflinching creepiness, but you still kind of want to hang out with her, as long as she doesn’t end up killing you in the end.

 

It’s also so satisfying to see a show like this starring two women where neither is being portrayed as some sort of sexed up, exaggerated stereotype. While calling a female character “complicated” feels a bit cliche now, it’s really the best way to describe both of these women. They’re clearly not perfect and they’re allowed to make very questionable choices without being villainized for it (which seems like it would be especially hard to do with a character named literally named Villanelle who’s a serial killer). You can’t help but root for them both, even though you know one’s victory is inevitably the other’s defeat. It’s the kind of show that would have been reserved for two male leads in previous years, so to see it led by two incredible women is refreshing.

 

While the title of the series seems to imply that Eve and Villanelle will eventually have a run-in that might take a dark turn, I hope it doesn’t happen any time soon. Their journey to really discover each other and the decisions they make along the way is deeply entertaining and engrossing. In the vast landscape of current TV, this is definitely something worth making time for.

 

What do you think? Have you watched “Killing Eve”? Are you also starting to seriously worry that these new “American Idol” judges have lost their edge? Where has all the constructive criticism gone? Share your concerns in the comments. And, without further ado…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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