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May 2016

What To Do When There’s Nothing To Do: Navigating A Pop Culture Lull

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Image courtesy of Google Images. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy.

When I sat down to write this week’s post, I was at a real loss for what to actually write about. I racked my brain for something pop culture-related that caught my attention (and obsession, as the blog’s title implies) this week but came up with nothing. There just isn’t a whole lot going on at the moment; most, if not all, of my go-to fall and winter TV shows have aired their season finales and my summer shows haven’t really begun to air yet, there aren’t any current movies that I’m dying to see and the Tony Awards aren’t for another two weeks. I find myself in the midst of a serious pop culture lull: an unfortunate, but not uncommon, time when new pop culture offerings are very very slim.

 

So what is there to do? I can’t just sit around, twiddling my thumbs and waiting for something new and exciting to happen. That’s no fun. This is not the time for waiting! This is the time to be proactive, the time to be creative. It’s the time to dig deep and find something else worth obsessing over.

 

One way to potentially do that is to revisit old favorites. I consider “30 Rock” to be my favorite TV show, but when was the last time I actually watched it? To be honest, I can’t really remember. Now would be the perfect time to re-watch some old episodes and remind myself why I loved the show so much. (It’s obviously because of this.) “Gilmore Girls,” another longtime favorite, is returning sometime this year with new episodes, the first in nearly 10 years. Re-watching the final episodes would be a great memory jog before the new ones begin to air. (Although you could just listen to the “Gilmore Guys” podcast instead. They’re re-watching it so you don’t have to!)

 

Another way to make it through a pop culture lull is to dive deep into your Netflix queue for some things you may have missed along the way. For me, that means finally getting around to shows like “Documentary Now!“, “Jane the Virgin” and “Breaking Bad” (I know.) and movies like “Nightcrawler,” “Welcome to Me” and “Best in Show.” Stuff I always said I’d watch but never actually got around to because other things caught my attention first. Now that nothing else is catching my attention, I can finally dedicate some time to cutting down my Netflix queue and hopefully find some new favorites in the process.

 

At the end of the day, a pop culture lull is simply that; a lull. It isn’t permanent. It’s only a matter of time before the “UnREALs” and “Mr. Robots” of the world return, the “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stoppings” come out and the Tony Award winners are announced. But in the meantime, there is a prime opportunity to reinvigorate an old pop culture love or discover a new one that you overlooked in the past. Lulls don’t have to be so boring. They can actually be fun.

 

What do you do in a pop culture lull? Have any great TV series or movies that you never got around to watching in their time? Wanna berate me for not having watched “Breaking Bad” yet? You wouldn’t be the first person. And I will watch it! Eventually… But, until I do…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

4 Fall 2016 TV Pilot Trailers Definitely Worth Watching

While much of May is taken over by TV season finales, it’s also when the major networks debut the trailers for their newest pilots. These freshmen shows will go up against those already established hits in the fall, hoping to stake their claim on the network TV landscape. While they’re not all great, and many of them will not make it past a first season, there are always a few (or, at least, one) that appear to have some potential. Lucky for you guys, I decided to sit down and watch all of the trailers released by the major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, The CW and Fox) and picked four that caught my attention. I know I know, I’m the best. Don’t worry about it.

 

1) “The Good Place” – NBC

Created by Mike Schur (aka one of the brilliant minds behind “Parks and Recreation” and “Brooklyn 99“), this NBC comedy stars Kristen Bell as a not-so-nice newly deceased woman who seems to have found herself in heaven (or “the good place” as the series seems to be calling it) due to a mistake. The trailer featured some fun bits, like the fact that you can’t curse in “the good place” and any attempt at cursing is instead replaced with words like “fork” or “shirt.” It also seems somewhat different from Schur’s previous work, so it’ll be interesting to see if there are any similarities. Based on my love of his other shows, I have high hopes for this one!

 

2) “Designated Survivor” – ABC

This intriguing-looking drama from ABC has Kiefer Sutherland (who I almost bumped into on the street in New York once, true story) in a very un-Kiefer Sutherland-like role, as the meek-seeming designated survivor put in place during the president’s State of the Union address to take over if something happens to everyone in that room. Needless to say, something definitely does happen and Sutherland’s character becomes president. So chill. It seems like there’s a lot of room for different stories to come up, so if the show doesn’t get bogged down in some sort of high-concept plot that can never really pay off it might actually be something with staying power. I know I’ll be tuning in to see what happens.

 

3) “Son of Zorn” – Fox

If there’s anything I love, it’s something weird, and this new comedy from Fox seems like it fits that bill to a T. The show stars Jason Sudeikis as an animated He-Man– like character attempting to come back to his live-action ex-wife and son with the intent of living a normal life. The series comes from Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the geniuses behind “The Last Man on Earth” and “The Lego Movie,” so it’s bound to be hilarious, as if this excellent trailer isn’t indication enough of that.

 

5) “Making History” – Fox

If one new Lord and Miller series wasn’t enough for you, I have some very good news. “Making History,” another new Fox comedy, has the two comedy masterminds as producers! Sometimes things just work out in life. Isn’t it nice? The show follows Dan (played by Adam Pally, a perpetual favorite) a lowly computer science professor who builds a time machine and travels back to pre-Revolutionary War America and begins dating Paul Revere’s daughter (played by former “Gossip Girl” Leighton Meester). Dan’s actions in the past start to change history though, so he teams up with a history professor (played by Yassir Lester) in the hopes of maintaining the world as we know it. With “Hamilton” bringing all things revolutionary to the forefront of pop culture, it seems like perfect timing for this show to pop up.

 

So there ya go! Four bright and sparkly trailers to get you excited for fall TV. Because let’s be real, what else is there to do in the summer except get ready for fall TV? I certainly can’t think of anything.

 

What do you think? Any of the above trailers really stand out to you? Have another new show that isn’t mentioned here that you’re really psyched for? Share in the comments. And, before I go finish my laundry (I know, so glamorous)…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

I’m Not Crying, It’s Just Raining On My Face: Getting Emotional with Entertainment

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

I can still remember it: I couldn’t have been older than six or seven and I was watching “Pokemon,” one of my favorite television series at the time. Ash (the main character, for those who don’t know), after a series of events, had realized that he needed to part ways with his beloved Butterfree and the time had come for them to say their last goodbyes. I wasn’t a big crier at the time; in fact I would often poke fun at my mother for crying at something as simple as a Disney commercial. But something about this scene got to me and my kid self burst into tears. I recall being shocked: what was it about this moment, on a cartoon no less, that made me so emotional? (I obviously hadn’t seen “Up” or “Inside Out” yet. Mostly because they hadn’t been made at the time. Duh.)

 

Now, the more logical question is what won’t make me cry? Anything from a favorite contestant’s elimination on “American Idol” (it was inevitable that I would mention it again) to a particularly powerful scene on “Grey’s Anatomy ” will bring me to tears. (Seriously. Even the happiest episode of “Grey’s” will end with me crying. It’s something about the way that they pair music with a scene. It’s genius and evil.) Most recently, even the *SPOILER ALERT* Schmidt and Cece wedding on “New Girl” got me a little choked up. It seems as if I have inherited yet another of my mother’s qualities.

 

When I tell friends about a moment in a TV show or film that made me cry, often they give me weird looks. Why would I cry over fictional characters or situations? I guess it’s a matter or investment. I’ve become invested in the characters and their lives, as lame as that may sound. When bad things happen to them, I feel it too! Or maybe it’s just that seeing someone else cry makes me cry, like what happens when you see someone else yawn. I don’t know for sure. All I know is, I’ve become quite the crier when it comes to movies, TV and theatre. Bring on the tissues.

 

Are you a big crier too when it comes to your favorite shows or movies? Have any particular scenes or moments that always get to you no matter what? Are you amazed that I still remember crying over an episode of “Pokemon” when I was a child? Spill your heart (and maybe some tears) in the comments. And, before I go back to freaking out over the fact that I GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE THIS WEEKEND…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

 

 

Share This Hilarious ‘SNL’ Sketch With Your Mother For Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day, aka the day when everyone posts pictures of themselves with their mothers on Facebook accompanied by some long, loving note about how “[their] mom is the best mom” and “[they] don’t know where they would be without [them]”. It’s all fine and dandy, but it’s not my style at all. For starters, my mom doesn’t even have a Facebook, so she wouldn’t see it. Even if she did, I would probably end up picking a photo of the two of us where she didn’t like the way she looked. (Which, for the record, I totally understand and would react the same way if I were in her shoes. I learned from the best!)

 

Instead I’m going to share this excellent, mom-related sketch from the most recent episode of “Saturday Night Live,” hosted by current national treasure Brie Larson. My mom enjoys watching “SNL,” but is rarely able to stay up to catch it in real time. In writing about this sketch, I can show her what she likely missed and have a topical post for this week! Look at me, killing to birds with one stone. So efficient!

 

The sketch, called “Baby Shower,” focused around what is considered to be the true sign of becoming a mom: getting “the cut,” a haircut described by Cecily Strong‘s character as “a soft waterfall in the front and knives in the back.” All of the moms in the sketch have “the cut” and assure Larson’s pregnant character that it’s only a matter of time before she ends up with “the cut” as well. From there, the sketch plays with the many tropes and stereotypes that go along with that hairstyle, from always needing to take the centerpiece at a wedding to feeling that the bathroom at home should resemble the ocean while the kitchen should resemble a farm. The one that hit closest to home for me was the idea of needing to neatly fold up gift bags so that they can be reused. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who grew up with a treasure trove of gift bags covering a wide variety of holidays and needs in the basement, waiting to be used on the next needed occasion. It’s a special touch only a true mom can provide.

 

Luckily my own mom doesn’t have “the cut” (she has a much classier style), but I can’t help but imagine that she can probably relate to some of the things mentioned in the sketch. Some mom things seem to be universal.

 

Did you like this sketch? Do you know anyone with “the cut”? Do you “only go to the beach to shop”? Leave me a note in the comments, okay honey? And, before I go and actually call my mother (AS SHOULD YOU).

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

 

P.S. For real though, my mom is the best and is probably where I got my love of all things pop culture. She’s also, as far as I can tell, the only person who regularly reads this blog. I couldn’t love and appreciate her more if I tried. And I don’t need to try, because she makes it so easy. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! You rock.

The Best Broadway Musical You (Maybe) Haven’t Heard About

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

The fact that the 2016 Tony Award nominations are set to be announced tomorrow morning has got me thinking a lot about my beloved Broadway and the first show I ever saw there, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” (It also didn’t hurt that the above tweet was sent out by Playbill today. Thanks, Playbill!) “Spelling Bee” is a total delight of a show, and it set me on the track to become the big Broadway fan I am today.

 

So what was it that made “Spelling Bee” so great? The show, which, as the title would imply, followed the goings on at the local 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, was unlike anything I had seen before. Despite the fact that it was a staged performance with a concrete beginning and end, it felt like I was simply an audience member at the local bee who was somehow magically granted access to the musical psyches of the spellers. (It probably also helped that I had recently seen the documentary “Spellbound” and had developed quite an affection for the kinds of kids who chose to enter the spelling bee, something I would have never thought to do myself.) The songs were funny and thoughtful and have definitely stuck around both in my mind and on my iPod.

 

The show certainly did a lot of make the audience feel like a part of things, from tossing candy and sheets with spelling words on them into the crowd to even inviting people (or in the case of their Tony Awards performance, the Reverend Al Sharpton) up to take part in the spelling bee themselves. While I’m not really one to partake in participatory stuff like that, it was fun seeing other members of the audience take a swing at spelling what were in some cases surprisingly complicated words.

 

It also helped that the show featured of stellar cast, many of whom, like Celia Keenan-Bolger and Lisa Howard, have gone on to pretty prolific Broadway careers. And then, of course, there’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson, whom I first saw in “Spelling Bee” who is now a big ‘ol TV star on “Modern Family.” They were all excellent and made me want to see what other big Broadway talents I had previously been missing out on.

 

For someone whose theatre knowledge prior was just sub-par community productions of “Seussical” and “Bye Bye Birdie” and a touring run of “Hairspray” (I grew up in Baltimore, where everyone knows “Hairspray”), “Spelling Bee” was a real introduction to all of the excitement and wonder that Broadway shows can provide. And now, over 10 years and 25 shows later, its safe to say that thanks to “Spelling Bee” I have become a tried and true Broadway fan.

 

Are you a big Broadway fan yourself? If so, what was the first show you saw? Also a lover of “Spelling Bee”? If so, do you speak six languages? Spell it out in the comments. And, before the curtain drops on this post…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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