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I Shouldn’t Feel This Old This Soon, Or My Night at the 2018 American Idol Live Tour

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Photo by Jenn Murphy

I was 15-years-old when I realized I was too old to continue trick-or-treating, and I can pinpoint the exact moment when it happened.

 

My friend and I, the two holdouts of a Halloween crew that used to be four or five people deep, decided to head out for the night on our own. We were determined to continue the time-honored and truly fun tradition of wandering around the neighborhood, seeing who would give out full-sized chocolate bars and who had the audacity to offer up boxes of crayons in lieu of candy. Even if it wasn’t “cool,” it was still fun. I had settled on a half-assed hippie costume (my plan of going as Zach Galifianakis’s character from “The Hangover,” a true sign of the times, fell through at the last minute) and we made our way down the street around 8 p.m.

 

We slowly started to realize that most homes had shut down for the night, turning off their decorative lights and bringing in their candy bowls, as 8 p.m. was just about bedtime for most of the regular trick-or-treating crowd. We found a few homes still offering treats and felt relatively pleased with ourselves for staying true to what we felt was the best part of Halloween. Then, things changed. Or, at least, for me they did.

 

We knocked on the door to one house and a woman answered. As she turned around to reach for the bowl of candy she yelled up the staircase in a sing-song voice, “teenage boys, there are teenage girls at the door!” My blood ran cold. I did not want a teenage boy, no matter his level of cuteness, seeing me in my barely-a-costume costume, with my brown hair peeking through my plastic-y blonde wig and my oversized tie-dye shirt and tan vest (from my mom’s actual hippie years) all but covered by a blue North Face fleece. I quickly but kindly thanked the woman, grabbed a piece of candy from the bowl and bolted before a teenage boy even made his way to the top of the stairs. As I ran-walked away from her house, it hit me: They were home because they didn’t go trick-or-treating. No one my age still goes trick-or-treating. I can’t do this anymore. I’m too old.

 

Why am I now telling this story in the middle of August nearly nine years later? Because I had a very similar feeling again last night at the 2018 “American Idol Live!” tour.

 

I should have known better this time around, but I’m a sucker for a spectacle and the tickets were pretty cheap in comparison to the down payment on a condo I had to put up to see Beyoncé and Jay Z two weeks prior. I also had this tiny hope in the back of my heart that the concert would bring me the same glee and excitement it had in years past.

 

You see, the “American Idol” summer tours used to be my thing. My first-ever big deal concert was the season four show. While most people were there to see Carrie Underwood, I was excited for Nadia Turner, the pony-tail Mohawk-wearing rock chick with a voice that, in my opinion, should have earned her the “American Idol” title. I still have a pin with her face on it that I excitedly purchased at the merch stand. From the minute the show started at the then-Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., I was amazed; the people I watched sing on TV for weeks were right there! And they were singing for me! At one point Constantine Maroulis, the guy from that season who realized smoldering at the camera really brings in the votes, said he loved us, the crowd. That completely and totally blew my little 10-year-old mind.

 

From then on I was hooked, determined the catch the tour every summer. It became a right of passage; summer wasn’t over until the Idols came through town. I touched the hand of season six’s Vote-For-The-Worst fave Sanjaya Malakar. I saw people throw bras onstage for season eight’s Adam Lambert, which he quickly threw back. (Not a joke, that actually happened.) In a moment of quiet I yelled “I love you!” and long-forgotten season 9 winner Lee DeWyze, actually heard me and said, “I love you” back. (Don’t judge me, my options for a hunky guy to fangirl over were limited that season.) As the interest in “Idol” waned amongst my friends and classmates, I was still there every season, obsessively watching the show and securing my tickets for the summer tour.

 

The last concert I went to was season 11, won by Philip Philips in a move that I called from his first audition in episode one. It was a few weeks before I left for college, and the nostalgia of it all wasn’t lost on me. That season seemed to be the last one people really paid attention to, and even then it was a much smaller audience than in its heyday. Even though I still watched the show in the seasons that followed, I stopped going to the tour, largely out of disinterest. It seemed like a lot of people felt the same way; the tours grew smaller and smaller to the point where season 14’s got cancelled (ostensibly due to poor ticket sales) and they didn’t even bother with one for the series’ final season on Fox.

 

When the series made its not-so-surprising return on ABC earlier this year, I was skeptical but hopeful that it could still be worth a watch. And much of it was, from the seemingly-out-of-left-field brilliance of Ada Vox, a drag queen with vocal range for days, to the general existence of Michael J. Woodard, a bowling alley worker with a darling voice and even more darling personality. There were still plenty of moments that felt like the played-out clichés that tended to take over the show’s later seasons, but those little glimmers of excitement and originality kept me watching and probably compelled me to press “purchase” on tickets for this concert several months ago. While Ada was not going to be there (in a strange but probably financially sound move, they decided to only take the top seven on tour instead of the top ten or twelve as had been the case in previous seasons), Michael J. was, and I hoped a rousing performance from him would get me through the later sets from the less interesting performers that actually made it close to winning the whole thing.

 

And it did, but not in the way I expected. Previous “Idol” tours fit a pretty predictable model: open with a group number and then each contestant (starting with the 10th place finisher) would get a 2-3 song solo set with the occasional group number or duet tossed in. The whole thing would end with longer sets from the final two and then another full group number. They were held in arenas (filled by arena-sized crowds) with production values worthy of the “superstars” “American Idol” claimed to create. This was not the case this time around.

 

Instead of being in a large arena, the show was in a much smaller theater. There were patches of empty seats on the floor/orchestra level (where I sat) and things appeared to be even more sparse on the balcony level. Instead of big L.E.D. screens featuring flashy graphics and close-up shots of the performers, there was one static set piece, a large apparatus with the “Idol” logo prominently featured, that would light up in different colors and patters throughout the show. The format was switched up, with solo numbers from contestants coming in no particular order. The norm for previous tours I had attended was a full backing band, but this time there was just one guy alternating between piano and guitar, and the other contestants would provide various forms of backup (vocals, instrumentals) for their colleagues throughout. The whole thing was hosted (another new development) by Kris Allen, who you may remember as the runner up in season eight except no, wait, he somehow beat Adam Lambert and won. He sang a few songs of his own and during his set mentioned how he had won the show nearly nine years ago which was totally fine and definitely didn’t leave me feeling like the husk of a woman in the wheelchair from that episode of Spongebob where they sell chocolate. Transitions between songs were either made up of awkward small talk by whomever had just finished singing or by the stage going completely dark, leaving the audience to talk amongst themselves. The whole thing could be best compared to a talent show at a performing arts high school with very rich donors.

 

There was a part of me that felt a little bad for the performers, who had missed the heyday of the show when they would have gotten the full VIP treatment, but they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. Singing almost entirely songs that they did over the course of the season, everyone seemed to be giving it their all, and the crowd generally responded in kind. There was one woman in particular, she looked to be in her 50s or 60s, who stood for nearly the entire show (most people stayed seated other than a few select moments) dancing like her life depended on it. I had a panicked vision of me in 30 years in her place, low key creeping out the much younger performers who could clearly see her and began commenting on her presence in their on-stage banter, but I like to think I would never actually do that. Right? Right.

 

Anyway, there were two standouts in my mind, who seemed to be doing the most and having the most fun doing it. That would be Michael J. Woodard (of course) and Catie Turner, the human manifestation of Tumblr who actually has a really impressive voice. While the other contestants were generally giving us more of the same, these two brought such energy to every moment they were on stage. Even when they were serving as back up singers for someone else’s song (and they did that a lot) you could look at them at any point and tell they were having the time of their lives.  I would have loved just a whole hour of their antics, but unfortunately we aren’t given everything we want in life.

 

The thing that surprised me the most out of the whole event were the demographics of the audience. There were some things I expected given the way the season had gone (the crowd was overwhelmingly white) but instead of it being entirely tween girls and their moms, there were a significant amount of middle-aged couples there with no children. I had worried I would be on the older end of the crowd, but really I ended up being somewhere on the younger end of the middle. There were also a fair amount of people there in their 20s and 30s that appeared to be like me, in that they had grown up watching and loving the show and just weren’t quite ready to quit it yet. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in that regard.

 

So did the concert take me back to my memories of “Idol” tours past? In small ways, yes. There was one moment during one of the “stage goes dark” transitions where just as the lights came back up you could hear Michael on the microphone say “it’s me again” and I felt a little jolt of the happiness the concerts and my favorite performers in them had given me when I was younger. It was still fun to see the people I had rooted for on the show in person. But there were more moments that felt out of my grasp, like I couldn’t connect to in the way I once had. In those moments I felt a bit like the older person watching all the kids have fun while feeling slightly out of place. Like a 15-year-old who didn’t want anyone her age to know that she was still trick-or-treating even though she still liked doing it.

 

It’s certainly possible that I would feel differently if any of the contestants were old enough to legally rent a car, and that’s why I haven’t fully ruled out attending another “American Idol Live!” tour at some point in the future. While there were moments last night that made me feel a bit aged and uncool, I still had some fun. And again, I’m always down for a little spectacle.

 

What do you think? Do you have anything you still love even if it makes you feel old to love it? Did you hear about the insane and dumb new things coming to the Oscars? I have some serious thoughts on that, and I’ll get into them next week. In the mean time…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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‘Making It’ Will Make You Feel So Much Joy

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Sometimes it’s really obvious when something in entertainment is directly modeled after something else, as is the case with NBC’s new reality competition program “Making It.” Everything from the format (a smaller challenge followed by a larger challenge and an elimination) to the number of judges (two) to the number of hosts (also two) feels like a direct pull from “The Great British Baking Show,” another reality competition program that made its way across the pond to PBS several years ago. While this type of blatant copying can feel a little cheap at times, when it comes to “Making It,” it works incredibly well. In fact, it makes you wish that more reality competition shows followed suit.

 

Most of the reality competition shows in America thrive on aggression and tension. The contestants are not “friends;” they are competitors who must fight one another, whether it’s through cooking or fashion design (or singing or traveling around the world through a variety of schemes or simply surviving) to be the best and ultimately win the big prize and all the recognition (a.k.a. talk show appearances, probably) that comes with it. The overly dramatic music creates a sense of urgency, as do the cliffhangers before nearly every commercial break. The judges are stern and serious and have high expectations that are rarely full met. Every wrench possible is thrown into nearly every scenario to create maximum excitement and drama and when the dust clears and all is said and done, both the contestants and viewers are left exhausted.

 

Many British reality competition shows are similar in this fashion (some of our biggest U.S. reality shows are just Americanized versions of British series), but not “The Great British Baking Show.” Simply put, it’s polite people being polite to one another. Oh, and there’s baking involved. These aren’t cutthroat, elite challengers who have been working toward this moment their entire lives and careers. They’re just average people who like to bake, and happen to do it well enough to make the cut. The challenges they’re given aren’t intended to be overly complicated or difficult. They’re not given limited supplies or extra hiccups intended to make them sweat. And the judges, while fairly critical, aren’t mean. They’re just honest. All of this is set in an idyllic countryside where there are literally sheep milling about. The best word to use to describe watching this show is “pleasant.”

 

The same can definitely be said for “Making It,” which makes sense given its clear inspiration. Instead of bakers, the contestants are crafters in a variety of mediums. Some work best with paper, others with wood. All of them seem to be well versed in the art of decoupage. And, much like their baking counterparts on “The Great British Baking Show,” they all seem incredibly nice. Like, “I’ve finished my piece so I’m going to help you finish yours” nice. There’s a prize at the end ($100,000 and the title of “Master Maker”), but it doesn’t seem to really be the focus. It’s more about the cool work they do along the way, and the fun they have doing it.

 

The hosts, the delightful Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman, add to the joy with their silly (sometimes too silly and border lining on twee, I’ll admit) commentary and disinterest in making anyone feel bad or stressed. While other reality competition hosts seem to thrive on the pressure the contestants face, these two don’t seem like they ever want to send anyone home. Poehler even suggests in the first episode that they just keep adding people and turn it into a big party. Sounds good to me.

 

“Making It” and “The Great British Baking Show” fit into the search for happy and hopeful entertainment that I wrote about last week. Both still keep you invested and excited to see who will win and who will be sent home, but they don’t leave you feeling stressed or upset. They’re perfectly pleasant and fun antidotes to the anxiety of being a human being in the year 2018. If you’re feeling tense, I highly recommend them both.

 

What do you think? Did you also watch and like “Making It”? Also, have you seen “Eighth Grade“? It’s great. Like, really great. Gucci even. Craft your answer in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

In Praise of Hopefulness in TV and Film

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

FX recently wrapped up the first season of its wonderful new series, “Pose.” Created by Ryan Murphy, the show primarily follows the New York ballroom scene in the late 1980s, focusing on Blanca, a transgender woman trying to form her own house in that competitive community.

 

While the show could have easily followed the common trend of depicting LGBT life as a constant struggle, rife with tragedy after tragedy, it didn’t. Sure, the unique challenges faced by people in those communities, from the AIDS crisis to the backlash from discriminatory groups and individuals, are frequently featured in the series (as they should be). But they’re not the focus. Instead, the show focused on Blanca building up her house, creating her own found family and the victories they all could and would experience, however small or big they may be. It felt revelatory to watch; there were often instances where another show would choose to go exploitatively tragic, and “Pose” did not. And this way of going about things succeeded enough to earn the show critical accolades and a second season.

 

“Pose,” among other things in TV and film, seems to be the exception to an increasingly apparent rule that our entertainment needs to be all dark and twisty. From the many anti-heroes that have populated screens big and small to comedies that barely feel comedic anymore, happiness and hopefulness in entertainment seems to be fading away from the mainstream. In a time where reality can all too often feel ripped from one of these dark, cynical shows, I feel like we could all use some of the hopefulness and happiness that “Pose” and others provide.

 

Take the film “Paddington 2” for example. Paddington is a sweet, lovely little brown bear who tries to find the best in every situation, no matter how challenging it may be. His kindness and hopefulness, and what it brings out in others in the film, made for a pleasant escape from the more sinister things that can be found at the movie theater on a much more regular basis. It’s also, unexpectedly, a well directed, written and acted film that many consider to be one of the best released this year. A key factor in that is the positivity that practically radiates off the screen.

 

This isn’t to say that darker, more serious fare doesn’t have a place in entertainment. One would simply have to look at what gets the most recognition to see that it clearly does. There are plenty of wonderful, thoughtful shows and films that are about as dark as something in entertainment can get. But there should be sufficient space for the lighter fare that can still be good and thought-provoking but leaves you feeling joyful instead of distraught. From the lovably sweet dopes on “Detroiters” to the hopeful power of “A Wrinkle in Time,” happiness can still be entertaining. We just need to embrace it.

 

What do you think? What other happy and hopeful shows and movies have you seen recently that left you feeling good? Do you have tickets to see Beyonce and Jay Z’s On the Run 2 tour? If so, get ready to have your life handed to you. I saw them this past weekend and it was AMAZING. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

The Surprise Drop Has Now Moved to TV and I Have Some Thoughts

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Last week, Hulu dropped the fourth and final season of “UnREAL,” the once celebrated (now tolerated) Lifetime-based series about the behind-the-scenes machinations at a “Bachelor”-esque reality show, without any build-up or fanfare whatsoever. One day it wasn’t there, and then it was: all eight episodes for everyone (or, at least, everyone with a Hulu subscription) to watch at their leisure. There had been reports back in May, around the time that the series’ third season ended with a bit of a whimper, that the final season might possibly debut on Hulu before it aired on Lifetime, if it aired on Lifetime at all, but nothing had been confirmed until now.

 

What wasn’t being reported, however, was that the season would be released as a surprise, in the vein of Netflix’s “Cloverfield Paradox” or any album involving Beyonce. It appears to be a first in the TV world, letting an entire season go without any pre-promotion at all.

 

One can’t help but wonder if the move was an easy way to let go of a series that had fallen far from the promise of a first season that earned the show Emmy nominations and a Peabody Award, much in the way Netflix was used to kind of dump the lackluster “Cloverfield Paradox.” While the first season seemed to tear back the curtain on the modern reality show, revealing the depraved and disturbing ways that producers mentally and emotionally manipulate contestants to create drama, and how that kind of job can affect someone, the later seasons lost that focus in favor of flashy theatrics. The second season attempted to deal with race in a way that had none of the nuance necessary to do that well and the third season couldn’t seem to decide where it stood on the idea of feminism in dating. While still entertaining, the show lost much of what made it stand out in its first run and seemed doomed to fade into obscurity, which it appears to be doing with this move to Hulu. Other than the initial reports that the season had surprisingly debuted and couple of small reaction pieces in the immediate days that followed, not much else has been said about the series’ final run.

 

The move away from regular TV to a streaming service is also an interesting and frustrating move for those of us who still has a cable plan and like to watch as much of our TV live as possible. When “The Mindy Projectwas saved from cancellation by Hulu back in 2015, I was happy to see a show that I loved and felt was under appreciated get a chance to see another season, until I realized that watching that new season would require a paid Hulu subscription, something I did not have and did not feel like spending the money to get. Cable subscriptions are expensive enough, and adding streaming service upon streaming service to that can really add up. The idea of cutting the cord completely and going full streaming is nice in theory, but it eliminates much of the fun that goes with watching something live and knowing that people all over are watching it and reacting to it at the same time. That’s just not something I’m willing to lose yet, and it’s unfortunate that people who supported a show like “The Mindy Project” or “UnREAL” while it was on regular TV have to miss out on seeing more because they don’t feel like or financially can’t commit to a streaming service. It’s a level of forced dedication that feels a bit unfair, if you ask me.

 

This all might just be me complaining and refusing the catch up to the way that most people consume entertainment now, but I can’t help but feel like something great about entertainment is getting lost in all of this. Perhaps this was the best way to wrap up “UnREAL” without messing with Lifetime’s schedule, but it makes it harder for people like me, who stuck with the show during its more challenging seasons, to say goodbye and see how things wrapped up. It’ll be interesting to see if more networks follow suit with their own faded stars. We’ll just have to see.

 

What do you think? Do you exclusively stream your TV instead of having a cable plan? Are you hoping that the consistently insane and wonderful “Claws” will never meet this fate? Let me know in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Emmy Nominations 2018: The Good, The Bad, and the Great but also Infuriating

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

As they seem to be every summer, the Emmy nominations were announced last week while I was on vacation. After searching high and low for a viable cell phone signal (why do beach towns have such terrible service?), I took a look at the contenders for the biggest awards in TV. While many of my hopes from last week’s post were dashed, there were definitely some things to be happy about, some things to be not-so-happy about and at least one thing that was exciting until you think about it for a while and then is kind of ridiculous. Read on to find out what I think should go in those respective categories.

 

The Good

I, of course, was ecstatically happy to see Sandra Oh nominated in Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her incredible performance in “Killing Eve.” (I was not so happy to see that she was the only actor nominated for that show, but we’ll get to that later.) Tatiana Maslany as well for the final season of “Orphan Black” was a delight, but she already has one so I’m rooting hard for Sandra Oh. She and Judith Light in supporting actress for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace” were the only two people from my hopes list that actually got nominated, but they definitely both deserve to win. Other great first time (at least, for their respective shows) acting nominees include Ted Danson (for lead actor in “The Good Place“), Issa Rae (for lead actress in “Insecure“), Brian Tyree Henry (for supporting actor in “Atlanta“), Kenan Thompson (for supporting actor on “SNL,” after 15 SEASONS OF BEING ON THE SHOW), Zazie Beetz (for supporting actress in “Atlanta”) and Aidy Bryant (for supporting actress on “SNL”). The Guest Actor and Actress in a Comedy Series categories are especially great, with Sterling K. Brown (for “Brooklyn Nine-Nine“) and Donald Glover (for hosting “SNL”) getting recognized, as well as my forever fave Maya Rudolph (for “The Good Place”) and Tiffany Haddish (for hosting “SNL”). I was also pleased to see the likes of Donald Glover (for lead actor in “Atlanta”) and Pamela Adlon (for lead actress in “Better Things“) staying in the mix. As for the show nominees themselves, I was mostly happy to see that for the first time in its entire run, “Modern Family” was not nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series. Progress is possible!

 

The Bad

So Sandra Oh gets a nomination for “Killing Eve” and the show itself (more specifically its creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge) gets nominated for writing, but no love for the actual show in the Outstanding Drama Series category? And no love for the incredible Jodie Comer in Supporting? Truly ridiculous. I don’t have much else to say with regards to the drama categories, mostly because I don’t watch many of those shows, but I do continue to find it laughable how much people seem to think that “This Is Us” is actually a good show. Is it entertaining? Yes, in the ways that it continually tortures its characters but also shows that their lives aren’t nearly as bad as they love to whine that they are. But is it good? There are lines on that show on a weekly basis that make me physically cringe with how corny and trite they are. I wouldn’t consider that good, but that’s just me. As for comedy, my predictions for what would actually get nominated (“Barry,” “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel“) versus what I actually wanted to be nominated (“The Good Place,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend“) were unfortunately correct. To be fair, I haven’t seen “Barry” or “Maisel” or “GLOW,” (mostly because I have become so infuriated by the proliferation of streaming services and deep cable channels with original content that I’ve given up entirely on trying to keep up) but there’s still good stuff being made on broadcast! And when you don’t award them they don’t get to grow their fan bases and then the executives cancel them! Its a vicious cycle perpetuated by the pompous push to only celebrate prestige cable and streaming. I could go on and on, but I won’t. At least, not now. While I was quite pleased to see Brian Tyree Henry and Zazie Beetz score nominations for “Atlanta,” why no love for Lakeith Stanfield‘s Darius? The “Teddy Perkins” episode of “Atlanta” was nominated for Hiro Murai‘s directing, and Donald Glover’s portrayal of the titular character will certainly factor in to his likely second acting Emmy win, but as Darius in that episode, Stanfield gave us a nuanced mix of fear and empathy that was just as heartbreaking and mesmerizing as anything Glover did. And don’t even get me starting on “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” Andre Braugher being brushed over again for Alec Baldwin. That is a complete and total crime. Also a crime? The snub of Cody Fern for “The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” Maybe his presence on the show was too small for him to fit into the rules of the categories, but they should have tried to make it work! My final complaint comes in the Variety Talk category. If I had things my way, “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” and “The Late Late Show with James Corden” would be switched out for “Late Night with Seth Meyers” and “Desus & Mero,” but I guess we can’t have nice things.

 

The Great, but also Infuriating

Sandra Oh’s nomination for “Killing Eve” made her the first Asian actress to be nominated in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category in Emmy history. At first glance, that fact is cool in a “yay, history!” kind of way, until you think about the fact that it is 2018. How on earth has there not been another Asian actress in that category? HIRE ASIAN ACTRESSES!!! It’s not that hard. And if your argument is that your show needs a white lady to be the lead, then REWRITE YOUR SHOW. It can’t possibly be that good to begin with.

 

What do you think? Were you happy with the 2018 Emmy nominations? Are you also continually fascinated by Blake Lively’s choices in roles, like in the recently released trailer for “A Simple Favor“? Share your thoughts in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

My Hopes For This Year’s Emmy Nominations

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Image via Google Images. Screencap by Jenn Murphy

The nominations for the 2018 Primetime Emmy awards are announced this Thursday, July 12, and for the first time in a while, it seems like there’s room for some surprises. The Emmys are known for being a little predictable when it comes to their nominees and winners, selecting a show or an actor that they like once and continuing to nominate/award them until the end of time. Some stalwarts, like “Veep” are out of the running this year, while others, like “Game of Thrones,” are back after a year off. Here’s what I hope to see when the nominees are announced on Thursday.

 

“Killing Eve” Should Make a Killing in Drama

The drama categories seem to be somewhat locked down, with already-wons, like “Game of Thrones” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” likely to make an appearance, and also rans, like “This Is Us” and “The Crown” probably set to stay in the mix. “House of Cards,” a long-time nominee now plagued by, well, you know, is ineligible this year, leaving an opening amongst the more consistent nominees in several of the drama categories. I would love to see BBC America’s excellent “Killing Eve” fill in. As I’ve written on this blog before, the show is refreshing and exciting and offers star performances from Sandra Oh and Jodie Comer. If BBC America’s last kick-ass lady offering, “Orphan Black,” could get a little Emmy love, who’s to say that “Killing Eve” can’t? It’s not nearly as genre-specific as “Orphan Black” was, something that the Emmys generally don’t gravitate towards, and has a similar critical darling vibe. It’s also some of the best TV being made at the moment without the pomp and circumstance of some of the more prestige-y show’s in the running and celebrating that could help give the Emmys more cred amongst the less mainstream TV viewers.

 

Some New Blood in Comedy, Please

The comedy categories at the Emmys also seem to be aggressively the same every year, but with constantly-nominated shows like “Veep” and “Master of None” out of the running in 2018 there’s some room for new possibilities. I already wrote in detail about several shows I think deserve Emmy recognition, but I’ll reiterate some of what I said here. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has long-deserved to be in the running and a dramatic cancellation and save earlier this year seemed to reignite  the flame of love for that show amongst the media. If anything, I desperately hope Andre Braugher will be back in the Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category this year. His absence last year (ostensibly to make room for Alec Baldwin’s not-nearly-as-good-as-others impression of the president on “SNL”) was a serious crime. I’d also love to see the consistently hilarious “Superstore” and the endlessly inventive “The Good Place” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” get in there, but it’s definitely possible that those open slots will be filled up by newer and flashier comedies like “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” and “Barry.” Really, anything different than the norm would be nice, but I would of course prefer it to be things I love.

 

Don’t Forget the Little People in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace”

It seems pretty inevitable that the latest iteration of Ryan Murphy’s “American Crime Story” anthology focused on (but not really) the death of Versace’s founder will get some recognition in the Limited Series categories, but I’m hoping people will focus on more than just the leads. Yes, Darren Criss gave a surprisingly great turn as the murderous Andrew Cunanan, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Cody Fern‘s nuanced and heartbreaking portrayal of another one of Cunanan’s victims. I don’t know if he would be qualified for Supporting Actor or Guest Actor (Can an actor in a limited series even run in Guest?) but wherever it is, he better get a nomination. Same goes for Judith Light‘s role as the wife of yet another one of Cunanan’s victims (he killed a whole bunch of people, you guys). Judith Light is always great, but she was especially great there.

 

What do you think? What are your hopes for this year’s Emmy nominations? It’ll probably just be “Modern Family” again, right? Ugh, “Modern Family.” Just end already! Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

5 Movie Trailers That Have Me Very Excited For Fall

While there are still several movies coming out this summer to look forward to, like “Sorry to Bother You” and “Eighth Grade,” I’ve already started to set my sights on this fall. (Fall is also the only hope I have now that a heat wave has turned the east coast into one big, miserable sauna.) As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, summer is generally home to large blockbuster franchises and the occasional small quirky delights (like the films mentioned above), but fall is home to the more serious, prestige-y films that get that sweet sweet Oscar buzz. The buzz begins for the average moviegoer in the summertime, when the teaser trailers for the movies that we’ll be talking about around the Thanksgiving table (if you’re that lucky) start to come out. I’ve pulled together the ones that have me the most jazzed so that you too can get pumped. (All release dates are based off of what IMDB says, so they could vary based on where you live, fyi.)

 

1) “A Star Is Born” – October 5

I love movie trailers so much. Like, I make a concerted effort to get the the theater early so I don’t miss any of them much. Like I would pay $10 to just spend two hours in a theater watching movie trailers much. But they have a way of misleading viewers into thinking an otherwise bad movie looks great. I have that concern a bit with this one (featured at the top of this post) because it just seems doomed to be questionable. No shade to Lady Gaga, who I think is an incredibly gifted and talented performer, but I didn’t necessarily agree with the Hollywood Foreign Press that her run on “American Horror Story: Hotel” deserved a Golden Globe. I hope that this movie, a remake that follows a down-and-out musician as he takes on a new protege, will show that she actually does have some genuine acting chops, but the jury’s out until I see it. Same goes for Bradley Cooper as a director. I’m more curious than excited about this one, but the trailer is pretty great.

 

2) “Beautiful Boy” – October 12

Timothee Chalamet was robbed of his well-deserved Oscar this past year by a middle-aged man in old man makeup, and justice needs to be served! Here’s hoping this weepy based-on-a-true story tale about a father and son duo dealing with the son’s drug addiction will secure him another chance at a little gold man. Co-starring Steve Carell, another forever fave and increasingly impressive dramatic actor, it looks like a great thing to see if you want to have a good cry and fawn over Chalamet’s general existence. Consider me interested.

 

3) “Bohemian Rhapsody” – November 2

This is another one that I think will either be stunningly good or stunningly bad. I’m really hoping its the former rather than the latter, because I love Rami Malek and want him to succeed in everything he does, but the fact that the production was mired in controversy from pretty much day one can’t help but raise some concerns. The trailer itself doesn’t reveal much (which has also upset some people), other than to basically say
“Hey, you like Queen, right? We know you do! So go see this movie!” My hopes are high for at least Malek’s performance, but my expectations are medium for everything else. Regardless, I’ve still watched this trailer several times and am still very excited.

 

4) “Widows” – November 16

Out of all the trailers on this list, this is the one that actually made me scream out loud. Having Viola Davis as the leader of a group of women finishing a heist that their dead husbands were unable to complete is one thing, but to also have Daniel Kaluuya, Brian Tyree Henry, AND Cynthia Erivo in said movie? And to have it be directed by Steve McQueen?? And co-written by Gillian Flynn??? You’ve got to be kidding me. This is the movie of my dreams, and I am SO aggressively excited for it. Honestly, it could be a total disaster nightmare and I would probably still love it. I don’t think it will be though, because it just looks so good!

 

5) “Creed II” – November 21

This was inevitable. I loved “Creed” so so much and have been looking forward to a sequel since I left the theater after the first one. The great Ryan Coogler did not return to direct this one (although he does have writing credit on it), but I trust him (with my life, honestly) and believe that whomever he helped pick to take over will do an excellent job. It’s hard to lose when you have the always excellent Michael B. Jordan as your lead and a pre-existing entity that’s already beloved. November can’t come soon enough.

 

What do you think? Have any other movies you’re excited for this fall based on their trailers? Have you seen “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Did you also cry? Let me know in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Thanks, Billy Crystal: Things From Pop Culture That You Saw Way Too Young That Scarred You For Life

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

The year was 2000. I was about 5- or 6-years-old. It was just about my bedtime, but my parents let me stay up to watch the opening of the Oscars. (This was, clearly, long before the Oscars became very much my thing.) Billy Crystal was hosting and, like he did nearly every time he hosted the show, he opened with a montage where he was inserted into classic films to crack wise and whatnot. Most of the jokes obviously went over my tiny head, but one thing he did in that opening has stuck with me to this day.

 

About 3-4 minutes in he found himself in “The Exorcist,” which, as you can imagine, didn’t go over great with a small child. But instead of attempting to go to bed then, I decided to stick around and see where he ended up next. Nothing could be as scary as “The Exorcist,” right? Wrong.

 

He then moved on to the shower scene in “Psycho,” a film that I had obviously never seen since, you know, I was like, five. It was intended to be played for comedy, and would definitely be that way for the adults watching, but all I saw was a person showering at night who nearly got stabbed. (Watching it now and seeing that the person in his parody who opens the shower curtain is Kevin Spacey, and everything that happens in that scene after Spacey appears, adds a new, additional level of discomfort to the whole ordeal.)

 

My little brain did the math: Shower + Nighttime = Getting Stabbed. From then on I insisted on only bathing during the daytime. I was convinced that doing otherwise would ultimately end in my death. Obviously now I can watch it without being traumatized, but to this day I still exclusively shower in the mornings, not really out of the fear (I’ve moved on from that.) but because I’ve become so used to the practice.

 

Isn’t that crazy? Just one moment in pop culture that was intended to be a joke freaked me out so much that it changed the way I did a daily activity! But I imagine (or, at least, I like to imagine) that other people have similar stories. A book they read or a movie or TV show they watched at far too young an age that freaked them out enough to change them or the way they did something.

 

Much of pop culture is intended to leave a mark, to make you think about it long after you’ve closed the book or left the theater, but sometimes it doesn’t leave the mark it hoped. Billy Crystal certainly didn’t that night. At least, not for me.

 

What about you? Do you have something in pop culture that you saw way too young that scarred you for life? Was it the movie “Child’s Play“? That was another one that messed me up early. Share your pop culture-related traumas in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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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