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What Are You Reading?

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Photo by Jenn Murphy

Sure, I spend a lot of time on this blog writing about the things that I’m watching on stage and screens big and small but when I’m not ruining my eyes with screen time I’m most likely reading a book. Or sleeping. Or eating something I shouldn’t be. But often I’m reading a book!

 

Some people (like “Secret Life of the American Teenager Star” Shailene Woodley) like to believe that just because someone is an active and frequent enjoyer of things like television and film they can’t also be a reader, which is simply untrue. It feeds into the snooty idea that television and film are a lesser art, meant to entertain the mindless masses while the truly intelligent spend their time with fine literature. Yes, there are certainly many things on television and in movies that aren’t exactly mentally enriching, but there are also a lot of things that both entertain and make you think. And then, when you’re done watching those fascinating and thought-provoking pieces of entertainment, you can pick up a book! Crazy concept, I know.

 

Right now I’m reading “The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah‘s memoir of sorts, “Born A Crime.” It features stories of his life growing up in South Africa, both during apartheid and after, and is actually really good. Not to say that I didn’t think it would be, it’s just that sometimes celebrity memoirs can fall a little flat. For a celebrity memoir to be truly great, you need someone who has a backstory that’s actually interesting and can write said story in a compelling way. I’m only about halfway through “Born A Crime,” but Noah is definitely hitting both of those marks. It’s a mix of humor (inevitable, given his comedy background) and more dramatic moments and offers a glimpse into Noah’s very fascinating life. Even if you’re not a fan of Noah’s current “Daily Show” tenure, I would recommend you check the book out. It might actually change your mind.

 

Have you read “Born A Crime”? Are you reading a different book right now that you’re really enjoying? Did you also absolutely love last week’s season premiere of “Mr. Robot“? (It’s finally baaaaaack!!) Let me know in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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5 Comedies That Could (And Should) Score An Emmy Nomination Next Year

 

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

The 2017 Emmy Awards may have only happened mere weeks ago but that doesn’t mean we can’t start talking about 2018 now, especially since there’s a good chance several key slots in the Best Comedy Series category might be opening up. Rumors are swirling that “Veep‘s” seventh and final season will likely not be ready to air by the May 31 cutoff date for Emmy eligibility and Aziz Ansari has basically said that there will be no more “Master of None” until he has lived more life worth writing a TV show about, meaning that both frequently nominated (and in “Veep’s” case, frequently winning) shows will be out of the running next year.

 

Of course, this could just mean that “Modern Family” will reclaim its wholly undeserved title as Best Comedy Series, but it also means that there will be room for some new shows to join the nominated ranks. I know who I want to take those slots, obviously. In the vast world of comedy on TV, there are plenty of shows that have, year in and year out, proven themselves to be worthy of recognition of the shiny trophy variety. Here’s just five that could (and should) be newly in the running.


1) “Superstore” – NBC

One of what I consider to be the true heirs to the “The Office“/”Parks and Recreation” quirky workplace comedy with heart throne, “Superstore” has been a quiet delight for several seasons. Following the goings on at a big box store called Cloud 9, “Superstore” has its fair share of laugh-out-loud moments as well as moments that address things like immigration, PTSD and more. While it does deal with heavier topics from time to time, it’s always done with a sense of respectful levity. A lot of shows on TV now are meant to make you feel down or uneasy. “Superstore” just wants to make you smile, and it does. If that doesn’t deserve some Emmy love, I don’t know what does.

 

2) “The Good Place” – NBC

Many of the comedies nominated for the big Emmy are pretty straight-forward in their plot (other than “Atlanta,” which is great and should win next year if its second season ends up being as good as its first) so it would be great to switch it up with something as wild and unique as “The Good Place.” I’ll refer you to a previous post I’ve written about the show that describes the plot and urges you to watch it, if for nothing other than to be totally shocked by the big twist at the end of season one. The second season began a few weeks ago and has continued to surprise and amaze, throwing formula out the window to look at things like destiny and how to be a good person. It’s also just super funny.

 

3) “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” – Fox

While I mostly include this one because I want to see the great Andre Braugher get back in the Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category he was wrongfully absent from this past Emmys (curse you, Alec Baldwin and you bland impression of our garbage president!) and hey, maybe actually win for once, it’s also been a consistently great ensemble comedy. Much like “Superstore,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” has the perfect mix of humor and heart, and unsurprising fact given that the show’s co-creator, Michael Schur, created “Parks and Recreation” and wrote for “The Office.” It would be great to see this and his other latest creation, “The Good Place” get the recognition they rightfully deserve.

 

4) “You’re the Worst” – FXX

Sometimes I feel like a one-woman campaign for this show, but it really is so great and so under appreciated that I will keep talking about it until someone, anyone takes notice. It recently began its fourth season on the super deep cable FXX and continues to be devastating, both in its biting comedy and bare-bones depiction of people at their worst. The drama categories at the Emmys were a home for the anti-hero for many years, whose to say the comedy category can’t take that over? “Veep’s” Selina Meyer certainly isn’t the most lovable women and yet people have watched and rooted for her for years, often against their own better judgement. Perhaps Gretchen and Jimmy can take that slot. I’m definitely on board.

 

5) “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” – The CW

In 2015 the Emmys adopted a kind of weird new rule stating that to be considered a comedy series, a show must only be 30 minutes long. While this certainly applies to most comedies, there are at least a few that break that mold and the absolutely excellent “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is one of them. The musical series created by and starring Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, a clearly mentally unwell woman who moves across the country to pursue a childhood crush, might not sound like a comedy from the outset but it really truly is. The show is endlessly funny and the songs are actually really good, not corny or uncomfortable like other musical television series (*cough* “Glee” “Smash” *cough*). If you know that Rachel Bloom is entertaining enough to intro the Emmys accountants at the ceremony, than you should know her show is entertaining enough to get an Emmy nomination.


So there you have it, five comedies that could (and should) fill the positions potentially left empty by “Veep” and “Master of None.” There are also reports that “Better Call Saul” might not be finished in time, opening up a slot in the drama category for “Pitch.” Did you think I wasn’t going to mention “Pitch”? BRING BACK “PITCH”!!!

 

What do you think? Have any other comedies you’d add to this list? Think I should move on from the Emmys? If so, have you ever read this blog before? I feel like you don’t get my brand. Explain yourself in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

‘SNL’ Is Back, And They Want You To Think Long And Hard About The ‘Avatar’ Logo

After a summer off and a whole bunch of Emmy wins (some deserved, some not so much), “Saturday Night Live” came back this past Saturday with an episode featuring host Ryan Gosling and musical guest Jay-Z.

 

For a season premiere the episode largely felt devoid of anything particularly exciting. A lot of the sketches (save for a few – shout out to “The Fliplets“!) felt half-baked or purposefully designed to make “can’t keep a straight face despite being a serious and respected actor” Ryan Gosling break into a fit of giggles. And he did. Again and again and again. I, like most people with eyes and a pulse, am not immune to the immense charm, talent and hunky-ness of Gosling but even I got a little sick of the breaking. It was sweet the first time he hosted; this time it started to feel a little cheap and unprofessional.

 

The above sketch was a standout of the night, and not just because it was pre-taped, making it near-impossible for Gosling to break (at least, not in the final cut). Featuring an emotional Gosling struggling with the fact that the blockbuster film “Avatar” seemingly used the Microsoft Word font “papyrus” for it’s logo, the sketch was a moment of sheer originality. And it’s not entirely surprising, given who likely wrote it.

 

Based on his previous work on the show involving strange, specific things (like the inner monologue of an elaborate sink, for example) and this tweet, it seems pretty clear that this sketch came from the brilliant mind of “SNL” writer Julio Torres. He had a breakout year last season with some of the funniest and most clever sketches to be featured on the show in recent years, including “Wells for Boys“, “Melania Moments“, and a personal favorite, “Diego Calls His Mom.” You can almost always tell when a sketch is his, largely because it feels like a fresh break from traditional “SNL” fare, much like the way a “Lonely Island” sketch felt unique in its time.

 

While much of “SNL’s” season premiere fell a little flat for me, I look forward to what’s coming next. Especially if it means we’ll get more great, unexpected sketches like these.

 

What do you think? Did you enjoy the “SNL” season premiere? Were you also excited by the latest big guest star to be almost immediately killed off on “The Last Man on Earth“? Share all in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Can a Limited Series Truly Be Limited Anymore?

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

On last week’s Emmys red carpet, one of the most frequently asked questions (or, at least, one of the most frequently asked questions for the cast of “Big Little Lies“) was whether or not we would all be lucky enough to get a “Big Little Lies” season two. In the ever-diplomatic fashion, the responses reporters got from the show’s stars were all varying degrees of “well we all loved working together and if the right script came up, who knows?” aka “maybe, I don’t know, stop asking me!”

 

If you really think about it, it should be a silly question, given the fact that “Big Little Lies” was billed as a limited series, competed at the Emmys as a limited series, and ultimately won just about every limited series Emmy award. And yet, it doesn’t seem entirely far-fetched. Now that the trend is to keep aggressively making things people like until they don’t like them anymore, can a limited series ever truly be limited?

 

In the same boat with “Big Little Lies” is another recently finished limited series, “The Sinner” (which was super good and creepy, btw). The finale had barely wrapped up before talks of a season two began. While nothing has been confirmed for either show, all parties seem interested in doing more, especially since there seems to be an audience that craves it.

 

It certainly fits in with the mentality in Hollywood that has produced the countless revivals, reboots and sequels that currently fill up our television screens and movie theaters. If people like something, and will continue to provide the viewership and ratings to make it seem like a financially sound option, why quit while you’re ahead? Oh, I don’t know, perhaps because many of those revivals, reboots and sequels haven’t exactly been of the quality that made their original versions so beloved?

 

In the case of “Big Little Lies” and “The Sinner,” both series were based on books and ostensibly used up the plot of the book in their first season, Admittedly, “Big Little Lies” the show (I don’t know about “Big Little Lies” the book) wrapped up in a way that could be interpreted as open-ended. Sure, we know who did the big thing, but will the police or the other citizens of Monterey ever find out? That could be a potentially interesting second season if written in the same thoughtful way the first season was, not as disingenuous fan service. “The Sinner,” however, was decidedly finished. You could follow Detective Ambrose on another dark, sordid case, but he wasn’t really the part of the show that kept me watching. If anything, his quirky, troubled detective who uses his own demons to solve the case was the one somewhat stereotypical thing in an otherwise unique show.

 

What makes a limited series interesting to me is that it is limited. It has a set end date, and as a result each episode is of more quality because they have a limited time to set everything up. You’re not stuck droning on and on through middling seasons until a show runner or network finally decides to call it a day. You know there will be an end and it will be definite. Yes, you may be sad when it’s over because you enjoyed it, but sometimes things just end. And that’s fine! Hopefully “Big Little Lies” and “The Sinner” can convince their hungry-for-more fans of that, instead of being convinced to make a second season that can’t possibly live up to the first.

 

What do you think? Do you want the limited series to stay limited? Are you also mourning the end of “Teen Wolf” despite the fact that you have been begging for sweet freedom since like, season four? Share your thoughts in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Three Things You Need to Know About Last Night’s Emmy Awards

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My Emmy Awards predictions. I got 22 out of 34 correct, which isn’t too bad. Photo by Jenn Murphy

So the Emmys were last night. As always, a whole bunch of stuff happened. Too much, even. So I’ve decided to condense the three hours of jokes and awards and acceptance speeches into three key things that you need to know. Or, at least, what I think you need to know. This is my blog after-all.

 

1) Host Stephen Colbert was great (except for the one thing he did that wasn’t)

In a move that would surprise nearly no one, Stephen Colbert did a wonderful job hosting the Emmys. He was charming and funny while still poking fun at the absurdity of it all. He started the show with a great opening number (featuring the always delightful Chance the Rapper, who at this point should be required to appear on every award show at least once) that moved into a hilarious and thoughtful monologue that both acknowledged the first responders and everyone helping with the hurricane relief in Texas and Florida and called out the many ridiculous comments from our current president, who himself has never won an Emmy despite being nominated for his old dumb show. But then, things took a bit of a turn. To cap his monologue off, Colbert brought out a certain someone who was formerly a part of the current presidential administration, someone who, in a way, played a role in Melissa McCarthy winning the Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Emmy this year. The choice clearly didn’t sit well with many in the audience and somewhat soured what had started off as a fun night. I certainly didn’t love the decision to play nice with someone who supported and perpetuated hateful and dangerous policies and practices, someone who has yet to really face any consequences for his actions. Colbert did end up winning the audience back, as he is wont to do, but that move just felt weird and inappropriate.

 

2) There were several big (and well-deserved) firsts

While many of last night’s wins were a bit on the predictable side (hi, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep” and just about everyone and everything from “Big Little Lies“) there were also some not-so-surprising but exciting moments for Emmy history. Donald Glover became the first black person to win an Emmy for Comedy directing for the excellent “B.A.N.” episode of “Atlanta.” (He also won for Leading Actor in a Comedy Series, just like I hoped he would.) Lena Waithe became the first black woman to win an Emmy for Comedy writing for her work alongside Aziz Ansari on the also excellent “Thanksgiving” episode of “Master of None.” Riz Ahmed became the first South Asian man to win an acting Emmy for this work on “The Night Of.” And, in a somewhat surprising step-up on the competition, Hulu became the first streaming service to get a best drama series win, in this case for “The Handmaid’s Tale.” (Netflix did get two wins for the wonderful “San Junipero” episode of “Black Mirror,” which definitely wasn’t a TV movie but won for best TV movie, so maybe that’s a first?) For the rest of the wins, click here.

 

3) Whoever was in charge of the play-off music needed to chiiiiiill

In another somewhat first, the fantastic Sterling K. Brown won the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series, becoming the first black man to win the award in 19 years. In the midst of his incredibly charming speech, probably the best of the night, the play off music started, clearly indicating that his time was up. But Brown wasn’t finished, and while we all absolutely wanted to hear what he was going to say next, the music started to play louder and louder and eventually Brown’s mic was cut off. He wasn’t the only one. Both Kate McKinnon and Elisabeth Moss received the play off treatment, as did the winners for both Best Comedy and Best Drama series. Luckily Brown was able to finish his speech off stage, but it was still incredibly rude to cut off one of the biggest (and most historic) wins of the night. Did we learn nothing from Bette Midler at the Tonys? If they were really pressed for time, they could have definitely decided to cut a clearly unwanted cameo from earlier in the show. Just saying.

 

So there you have it, the three biggest takeaways from the 2017 Emmy Awards. Now, when your friends or co-workers bring it up, you’ll have something to say even if you didn’t watch. Although for real, if you didn’t watch, what were you doing? Watching football? Gross. Get out of here with that nonsense.

 

What did you think of the 2017 Emmys? Have any other memorable moments or wins that stuck out to you? Are you just relieved that “This Is Us” didn’t win Best Drama, like many predicted it would? Hard same. Share your thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

The 2017 Emmy Winners – If I Were In Charge

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Well here we are again, less than a week away from the Emmy Awards, the shiniest night in all of TV. This time last year I decided to put out my dream picks for all of the major categories and I did surprisingly well. So I thought it might be nice for me to put my “The Secret”-esque skills to work again and share who would be taking home the big prizes if I were the only one voting.

 

Again, this isn’t exactly who I think will win, this is just who I wish would win. Who will win is likely a much different story, full of predictable outcomes that will make all of us go “wow…what a surprise…” whilst rolling our eyes so far back into our head that they do a full 360. Anyway, on to the picks! (Which will be in bold and have fun little squigglys around them.)

 


 

Best Drama Series

Better Call Saul

~”House of Cards“~

Stranger Things

The Crown

The Handmaid’s Tale

This Is Us

Westworld

This could potentially be a different pick if I had actually seen more of the nominees (sorry!) so I decided to go with an old reliable. The most recent season of “House of Cards” has been especially bonkers, and the fact that they were willing to go there at this point in the series, and with everything going on in the real world, was pretty impressive. Plus, I know some people hate it, but I still love when Frank Underwood breaks the fourth wall and talks to me like I’m his secret friend. To be honest, I just hope “This Is Us” doesn’t win.

 

Best Comedy Series

~”Atlanta“~

black-ish

Master of None

Modern Family

Silicon Valley

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Veep

This one was really hard. To be honest, I would be satisfied with a tie between “Atlanta” and “Master of None,” but if there can only be one victor I want it to be “Atlanta.” It was just such a creatively and tonally different show and more often than not the Emmy Comedy categories can feel so stale and predictable. This would be a great shift in a different direction, honoring the comedies that are really doing something special and capturing people’s attention.

 

Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bob Odenkirk – “Better Call Saul”

Kevin Spacey – “House of Cards”

Liev Schreiber – “Ray Donovan

Matthew Rhys – “The Americans

~ Sterling K. Brown – “This Is Us”~

Milo Ventimiglia – “This Is Us”

Anthony Hopkins – “Westworld”

Now I know what I said earlier about not wanting “This Is Us” to win Best Drama, and it’s true, I don’t want it to win. Because it’s largely bad. But in that sea of bad there are a few glimmering pieces of good and one of them is the always excellent Sterling K. Brown as Randall. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if “This Is Us” was just his plot line, it would be a good show. He brings so much heart and compassion to the role. You love Randall and just want him to get away from all of these deeply irritating people that he calls his adopted family. Randall deserves better and giving Brown this award would be a nice step in that direction.

 

Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Robin Wright – “House of Cards”

~Viola Davis – “How to Get Away With Murder“~

Keri Russell – “The Americans”

Claire Foy – “The Crown”

Elizabeth Moss – “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Evan Rachel Wood – “Westworld”

This is another category where I feel that I’m at a bit of a disadvantage, given that I haven’t really seen many of the shows where these actresses are featured. I decided to go with Davis because even though her show is pretty insane and has jumped over so many sharks, she has continued to be a powerful and impressive presence on it. Also, she gives amazing acceptance speeches and I just feel like we could all really use one of those right now.

 

Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

~ Donald Glover – “Atlanta”~

Zach Galifianakis – “Baskets

Anthony Anderson – “black-ish”

Aziz Ansari – “Master of None”

William H. Macy – “Shameless

Jeffrey Tambor – “Transparent

This is as much a win for Donald Glover on “Atlanta” as it is a win for Donald Glover on “Community” in my mind. He’s such a great performer on both shows, taking focus when he deserves it and letting others shine in a scene when it’s appropriate. It’s also impressive to see him be so lax and slow-paced in his jokes and deliver when he always seemed to be at a 10 on “Community.” Ugh, he’s just so good! Give him the award!

 

Best Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

~ Pamela Adlon – “Better Things“~

Tracee Ellis Ross – “black-ish”

Jane Fonda – “Grace and Frankie

Lily Tomlin – “Grace and Frankie”

Allison Janney – “Mom

Ellie Kemper – “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – “Veep”

While this will most likely go to either Allison Janney or Julia Louis-Dreyfus, I’m hoping that they’ll split the vote and it’ll end up going to the excellent Pamela Adlon. “Better Things” is such an under-appreciated gem and she’s so great on it. It feels so real and lived in, less like a scripted show and more like a true glimpse into someone’s daily life. If anything, I hope her nomination will inspire more people to check out the show, because it is definitely worth the watch.

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Jonathan Banks – “Better Call Saul”

Mandy Patinkin – “Homeland

Michael Kelly – “House of Cards”

David Harbour – “Stranger Things”

John Lithgow – “The Crown”

~ Ron Cephas Jones – “This Is Us”~

Jeffrey Wright – “Westworld”

Another one of the pieces of good in a sea of bad, Cephas Jones is so heartbreakingly wonderful on “This Is Us” that he and Brown almost make up for all the badness. Almost. Their scenes together were full of so much emotion and feeling, it was a masterclass from two amazing actors on how to make any viewer cry like a baby. And I did, several times. Since his character will (SPOILER ALERT) likely not have as big of a presence in the next season, which is a true shame, I hope that he’ll be recognized now for the great work he did.

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

~ Uzo Aduba – “Orange is the New Black“~

Millie Bobby Brown – “Stranger Things”

Ann Dowd – “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Samira Wiley – “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Chrissy Metz – “This Is Us”

Thandie Newton – “Westworld”

I have to be honest…I don’t really have a strong opinion on the people in this category. In the one season and three episodes I saw of “Orange is the New Black” before completely losing interest in it, I was consistently entertained and impressed by Uzo Aduba’s performance, so why not give it to her, right? I’m sure she kept that up well. Okay. Well there’s that.

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Louie Anderson – “Baskets”

Ty Burrell – “Modern Family”

Alec Baldwin – “Saturday Night Live

~ Tituss Burgess – “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”~

Tony Hale – “Veep”

Matt Walsh – “Veep”

What I should be doing is giving this award to one of the great performances given by Brian Tyree Henry or Lakeith Stanfield on “Atlanta,” but since they were both criminally not nominated I’ll give it to the always hilarious Tituss Burgess. He’s never not funny, always giving it his all, and did an A+ parody of Lemonade this season. That alone should garner him all the awards.

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Vanessa Bayer – “Saturday Night Live”

~ Leslie Jones – “Saturday Night Live”~

Kate McKinnon – “Saturday Night Live”

Kathryn Hahn – “Transparent”

Judith Light – “Transparent”

Anna Chlumsky – “Veep”

While this should and likely will go to Kate McKinnon, I just want to see Leslie Jones’ reaction to winning an Emmy. Come on, you know it would be amazing. Thoughts and prayers to whomever would be presenting her the award, because I can just imagine her picking them up and swinging them around, a more gleeful and PG version of Adrian Brody at the Oscars. It would be so delightful. That being said, I would be equally happy if Kate McKinnon won and I imagine Leslie Jones would be too.

 

Best Limited Series

~ “Big Little Lies“~

Fargo

Feud: Bette and Joan

Genius

The Night Of

Oh man, this was SO HARD. Between “Big Little Lies” and “Feud,” there’s so much great work focused on complicated female relationships and it was so hard to choose. I decided to go with “Big Little Lies” because it just felt so artfully done, like a super long beautiful movie broken up into parts. But honestly, I might change my mind tomorrow. And then change it back the next day. It’s so hard to pick!!!!

 

Best Television Movie

~ “Black Mirror: San Junipero“~

Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love

Sherlock: The Lying Detective

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Wizard of Lies

I was so pleased to see this lovely episode of the always great “Black Mirror” get some recognition with a nomination, but it would be even better if it won. “Black Mirror” is always so great, and this installment is no exception.

 

Best Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie

Ewan McGregor – “Fargo”

Geoffrey Rush – “Genius”

Benedict Cumberbatch – “Sherlock: The Lying Detective”

~ Riz Ahmed – “The Night Of”~

John Turturro – “The Night Of”

Robert De Niro – “The Wizard of Lies”

I haven’t seen a single thing in this category, so I’m just going to give it to Riz Ahmed because I like his music and generally like him as a person. So there.

 

Best Lead Actress in a Limited Series of Television Movie

Felicity Huffman – “American Crime

Nicole Kidman – “Big Little Lies”

Reese Witherspoon – “Big Little Lies”

Carrie Coon – “Fargo”

~ Jessica Lange – “Feud: Bette And Joan”~

Susan Sarandon – “Feud: Bette and Joan

This was another hard category to pick from, given the power duos from both “Big Little Lies” and “Feud,” but Jessica Lange is really hard to beat. She’s always so amazing and it’s no different in “Feud.” Her Joan Crawford was everything you could possibly want it to be and it should definitely earn her another Emmy win.

 

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Television Movie

Alexander Skarsgard – “Big Little Lies”

David Thewlis – “Fargo”

~ Stanley Tucci – “Feud: Bette and Joan”~

Alfred Molina – “Feud: Bette and Joan”

Michael Kenneth Williams – “The Night Of”

Bill Camp – “The Night Of”

I just love Stanley Tucci so much. He’s consistently so great and even while playing a highly unlikable character like he does in “Feud” you still kind of like him because hey, it’s Stanley Tucci! He’s so likable!

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie

~ Regina King – “American Crime”~

Laura Dern – “Big Little Lies”

Shailene Woodley – “Big Little Lies”

Judy Davis – “Feud: Bette and Joan”

Jackie Hoffman – “Feud: Bette and Joan”

Michelle Pfeiffer – “The Wizard of Lies”

While I would be happy with Laura Dern winning this as well, I just wanted to give one final recognition to the never fully appreciated “American Crime” and the amazing work that Regina King did on it season after season. She’s won before for the show, but I just want her to win one last time, that way ABC can see what a dumb mistake they made in canceling it. (I wonder if Fox will ever see the dumb mistake they made in canceling “Pitch.” Yup, I just brought up “Pitch” again. Never forget “Pitch”!)

 


 

So there you go, my dream picks for the biggest awards at this year’s Emmys. Will I have the same amount of insane luck this year as I did last year? We’ll all have to watch and find out.

 

What do you think? Who are your dream Emmy picks? Do you think I should watch more of the nominated drama series? Yeah, I probably should. But I don’t have time! There’s too many other things I’d rather watch! Ugh! Fill out your ballots in the comments. And, of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Social Media and Loneliness, Both Onscreen and Onstage

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Photo by Jenn Murphy

It’s nothing new to say that social media and the many potential dangers that come with its use has become a hot topic in pop culture. But more often than not, that “danger” is represented in the form of some Lifetime movie about a beer-bellied creep of a man living in his mother’s basement, pretending to be a cute teen in order to entice a young girl into chatting and meeting with him. This is, of course, a serious issue but in the intervening years since things like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter came into existence, people have become more savvy to the strange creeps that populate the dark corners of the web.

 

There’s a another, albeit much more subtle danger prevalent in almost all social media and it’s starting to get its moment in the sun. Just within the last week I’ve seen it represented and examined in two different (but both great) pieces of entertainment: the film “Ingrid Goes West” and the Broadway musical “Dear Evan Hansen.”

 

(Warning that I’m about to get real spoiler-y for both “Ingrid Goes West” and “Dear Evan Hansen.” Don’t read ahead if you don’t want to be spoiled!)

 

“Ingrid Goes West” tells the story of Ingrid (played in the film by Aubrey Plaza), a mentally unstable young woman who uproots her life and moves to California in the hopes of meeting a popular Instagram influencer named Taylor (played by Elizabeth Olsen). Ingrid’s obsession goes beyond wanting to simply live a life as glamorous as Taylor’s appears to be; she wants to befriend her and become a part of her inner circle and receive all the benefits in life that come along with that.

 

Ingrid doesn’t appear to have any real friends and mostly lives her life vicariously through others via their carefully curated social media presences. She thinks that the lives they portray themselves as living through their photos and posts are the truth, when in reality they’re just a facade. But that ultimately doesn’t matter to Ingrid; even as she starts to see the cracks in Taylor’s seemingly perfect life and demeanor, she still sticks around because she feels that she has finally made a connection with someone and has become someone that people care about, even if its largely based on lies.

 

When the lies she has said to earn Taylor’s trust come out into the open and she’s ostracized from the group she has come to know, she turns again to social media, live streaming a suicide attempt that (luckily) does not work. The live stream, however, and the rare moment of frankness and honesty about her loneliness and use of social media to curb that loneliness that she has in it, goes viral. At the end of the film we see Ingrid, in a hospital bed, reading through the various comments and posts made about her video. Her follower count has skyrocketed. She might finally be the social media star she dreamed of being. In essence, she got exactly what she wanted, but it might not really be what she needs.

 

Ingrid’s issues, while on the more outlandish side, represent one of the lesser-discussed issues that social media’s prevalence in culture presents. The largely fake, curated presences that people make for themselves online can be incredibly misleading and can cause people who don’t see through that careful curation to think that their lives are less than. It feeds off of the lonely and an unexplainable need to further exacerbate one’s loneliness by subjecting oneself to images of people living life and having fun without them.

 

If Ingrid hadn’t had this portal into the “better” lives that people were living without her, would she have felt so lacking in her own life? Now that she supposedly has a significant group of people who care about her and what she does on social media, will she finally be satisfied and at peace? It’s an uneasy question to ask that doesn’t really have a clear answer.

 

That loneliness and need to connect through whatever channels are available is examined as well in “Dear Evan Hansen,” although in a somewhat different way. In the musical (which won the Best Musical Tony Award this year) the title character (played by Tony Winner Ben Platt) struggles to connect with his peers due to severe social anxiety. Through a series of serious miscommunications he becomes entwined with another outcast classmate, Connor (played by Mike Faist) who ends up taking his own life while carrying a letter in his pocket that appears to be written for Evan. (It’s not. Evan wrote it to himself. See the show for more clarification on that!) Instead of coming clean, Evan perpetuates the misunderstanding because of the connection it gives him to Connor’s family and his classmates, who see him as the lone source of understanding for why Connor would choose to end his life.

 

At the end of Act 1, a speech Evan gives (wherein he speaks honestly about his own loneliness but lies about a day he spent with Connor) goes viral online and turns both Evan and Connor’s stories into a trending topic. People from all over feel a connection to their story, and their support gives Evan a newfound confidence and connection to others that he never had before. Like Ingrid at the end of “Ingrid Goes West”, Evan feels like he’s gotten everything he wanted, even if it is largely based on lies. But unlike Ingrid, he has to maintain the lie of it all in order to keep it.

 

Eventually the lying becomes too much (and people start to get suspicious) and Evan comes clean to Connor’s family: Connor didn’t write the letter, he never really knew him and everything that people believe to be true because of what Evan said is actually a lie. While Evan doesn’t necessarily lose the support of the public (the family decides to not tell anyone the truth because “everyone needed it for something”) he does lose the relationship he had with this family, something he had never felt before.

 

Ultimately though, he seems to learn the lesson that Ingrid seemingly did not: that your social media presence and the number of followers or supporters you have shouldn’t dictate your happiness. That connecting with people honestly and face to face is more important than the superficial relationships made exclusively online. That, as corny as it sounds, just being yourself is a-ok. (Although I didn’t really feel like the show convincingly wrapped that up, but that’s another story for another week.)

 

Social media certainly has its benefits but it also has many, many drawbacks. Both “Ingrid Goes West” and “Dear Evan Hansen” examine one of the biggest drawbacks and show how it can really effect people if they aren’t careful. So next time you get on Facebook or Instagram and see a bunch of pictures from a party you weren’t invited to, don’t feel too bad. It was probably a really lame party anyway. Most parties are.

 

Have you seen “Ingrid Goes West” or “Dear Evan Hansen”? Do you have thoughts on how they depict the ways that loneliness and social media interact? Have you not seen either and am mad that I spoiled them for you? That’s what the warning was for, dude. That’s on you. Post your carefully curated thoughts in the comments. And, as always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

So, How Were the VMAs?

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

If you, like most people on my various social media feeds, spent last night watching the 80-something minute long “Game of Thrones” season finale then you likely missed this year’s MTV Video Music Awards. In a pretty bad PR move on their part, MTV aired the VMAs largely against “Game of Thrones.” Come on, MTV, even “Power” knew better than that.

 

To be honest though, you didn’t miss much in the world of music videos and the people who make them. The show overall was a little bland, although anything was bound to disappoint after last year’s non-stop Beyonce-Rihanna concert where they also gave some people some awards. As a host, Katy Perry kind of felt like the older person in the room trying to make cool with the kids and mostly failing. An early reference to “The Handmaid’s Tale” fell on deaf ears (shout out to MTV for the hilarious shot of a confused Fifth Harmony trying to make sense of it) as did a fidget spinner joke. The worst bit, an extended take on the failed Fyre Festival, felt like it would have only worked if it had been done in the five minutes immediately following that fiasco, not months later when people have clearly moved on.

 

While a VMAs host can really be a mixed bag in terms of quality, that can be let go if the performances are all exciting and elaborate. Unfortunately for last night, they really weren’t. While Kendrick Lamar opened the show with a performance that was literally fire, most of the other performances barely lit a spark. Ed Sheeran and Lil Uzi Vert had a super weird mash-up performance that felt more like something you’d get in the sixth hour of the Grammys, Fifth Harmony (presumably after googling “The Handmaid’s Tale”) threw some obvious shade at their recently departed former group member and Lorde, reportedly recovering from a bout with the flu, decided to dance her little heart out instead of singing. There were many more performances in addition to those, but they were largely forgettable and in some cases even cut short so MTV could go to a commercial break.

 

The show thrived the most when it fed into its newfound woke-ness. Appearances from a descendant of Robert E. Lee (who, for the record, was in supported of statues of his relative being removed) and the mother of Heather Heyer, the woman who was tragically killed in Charlottesville several weeks ago, were truly moving, as was Pink’s directed at her daughter Video Vanguard acceptance speech and a performance of a song focused on mental illness by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid. As for the decision to nix the male and female specific categories for a combined Artist of the Year award, that was won by a man, Ed Sheeran, as were 10 of the 15 awards given out, so take from that what you will. (To be fair though, Kendrick Lamar deserves every VMA he won last night for Humble. That video is stunning.)

 

Oh, and Taylor Swift debuted her newest music video. It was…a lot.

 

Overall this year’s VMAs were not particularly memorable. There were definitely a few moments of excitement and interest, but for a three hour show they felt few and far between. Now that MTV is trying to bring actual music back to its channel with the upcoming returns of TRL and Unplugged, perhaps next year will be a much different story.

 

Did you watch the VMAs? If so, what did you think of the show? Did you watch “Game of Thrones” instead and feel the need to tell everyone about that? Wow, aren’t you so cool. So so cool. Tell all in the comments. And of course…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

Give Beyonce (Or Literally Any Female Artist) Her Own SiriusXM Radio Channel!

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Photo courtesy of Google Images

The recent addition of a Beatles radio channel to SiriusXM got me thinking about which artists have their own individual SiriusXM radio channels (a.k.a channels named after them that primarily feature their music or music of their choosing). Elvis, Springsteen, Sinatra, Pitbull, Pearl Jam, The Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffet, Tom Petty, Ozzy Osbourne, Eminem, Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney, Willie Nelson, Kirk Franklin, B.B. King…all dudes.

 

Seriously. Every artist that has their own individually branded SiriusXM radio channel is a guy. What’s up with that?

 

It’s not like there aren’t any female artists who have a large enough songbook and a big enough following to deserve their own channel. Take Beyonce, for example. Six studio albums and four live albums is certainly enough to fill a day. (And that doesn’t even count her work with Destiny’s Child.) Plus, like other stations named after or focused on a single artist, Beyonce’s station could include music by artists related to her, like Solange and Jay-Z, as well as other artists in her orbit, including ones she has collaborated with or ones signed to her label.

 

And she’s not the only one. Barbara Streisand, Whitney Houston, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Stevie Nicks, Ariana Grande (who briefly had one that was tied in with her 2016 AMA win for Artist of the Year) and, as much as I hate to say it, Taylor Swift all definitely have the goods and the qualifications to garner their own radio channel. The fact that none of the above artists, or any female artist for that matter, have their own personally branded channel but 16 male bands or artists do is insane. Fourteen different sports channels, 6 different comedy channels, even Howard Stern has two channels to his name, but not one celebrating a female artist or the work of female artists? Come on, Sirius. You can do way better than that.

 

What do you think? Which female artist do you think deserves their own SiriusXM channel? Did you ignore all the warnings and stare directly at today’s solar eclipse without those ~super-cool~ protective glasses? If so, how are you reading this right now? Seriously. Share your secret in the comments. And, like always…

 

Stay classy.

Jenn

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