Things I'm Obsessed With

There’s So Much to Talk About This Week!

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Newly crowned Tony winner Ben Platt at last night’s ceremony. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Some weeks I have a really hard time figuring out what to write about for this blog. There sometimes just isn’t anything that happened that really captured my attention or made me think. Lucky for me (and you), that was not the case this week. In fact, there were three things that happened in the pop culture world that got me going and instead of choosing just one to cover this week, I’m going to cover all three. So strap in, because it’s time to get into it.


Thing #1: Freeform is making an American version of “Misfits”


NO. American remakes of hit British series very rarely work. Why oh why must we keep learning this lesson the hard way? The U.S. adaptation of “Skins” was trash, the U.S. adaptation of “The In-Betweeners” was very weak, and I didn’t love either of those shows as much as I loved “Misfits!” Its clever take on the “young people encounter some mysterious thing and it gives them superpowers” trope worked so well in the original series because its young people were allowed to be just as raunchy and awful as actual young people are! You know they’re not going to be able to go that far on Freeform, home of “Pretty Little Liars,” a ruined adaptation of what was originally a pretty interesting book series. I have so many concerns about this. So many. You’re truly better off trying to find and watch the original run instead of waiting for what will likely be yet another dismal American remake.


Thing #2: I don’t need to tell you this, but “Wonder Woman” is great!!!


I was a little leery to check it out because I’m not the biggest superhero movie fan (although that Ryan Coogler-directed “Black Panther” movie looks pretty awesome) but the never-ending stream of positive reviews and comments about the movie convinced me to see it and guess what? I loved it. Sure it wasn’t perfect; some of the dialogue was a little overly-cheesy and the romantic plot line felt more than a little forced, but it was still far more interesting and compelling that any other DC or Marvel superhero movie I’ve seen. I almost don’t want there to be a sequel, even if Patty Jenkins were to return and direct, because this one was just so good. Maybe just a spinoff about Robin Wright‘s character, Antiope? I could definitely get into that.


Thing #3: The Tony Awards happened.


Last night was the Tony Awards a.k.a the night where everyone who doesn’t live in New York gets to see what’s been happening on Broadway this season. And it was…fine? I didn’t really get to see any shows this season (The only thing I saw was “Oh Hello on Broadway” and while John Mulaney and Nick Kroll did get to hilariously introduce a performance by the Rockettes, they and their show were cruelly not nominated for anything.) so I didn’t hold any allegiances towards anything in particular. Kevin Spacey as host was okay, although the whole night felt pretty low energy. A lot of the shows nominated this year dealt with more serious themes, so there weren’t a lot of big exciting musical numbers. The biggest, most exciting one was for “Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812” and now I want to see it because it looks like a straight-up party. “Dear Evan Hansen” won for Best Musical (good thing I got my tickets for it the day before) and “Hello, Dolly!” won for Best Musical Revival, two moves that surprised absolutely no one. You can look at the rest of the winners here.


Well, there you have it. Everything that excited or concerned me this week in one nice little post. Hopefully I’ll be as lucky to have so much to talk about next week. I’m doubtful though.


What do you think? Have any big pop culture events from this week that caught your attention? Did you too get weirdly invested in Katy Perry’s weekend-long live stream of her life? Tell all in the comments. And, before I go back to wishing I was still at the Chance the Rapper concert I attended last week (like I said, a lot happened) I’ll leave you like I always do, with this…


Stay classy.



A Song, A TV Show (Or Movie) and A Memory

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Recently I walked into a restaurant with some friends and the song “You Might Think” by The Cars was playing. Like any average person, I was immediately reminded of the woefully under-appreciated one season CBS wonder known as “BrainDead“, or more specifically, the fact that (and this next part is going to sound super strange if you didn’t watch “BrainDead” which if true is LAME because I told you to watch it on this blog months ago!!!) when people’s brains were taken over by the alien bug things in the show they became obsessed with that song.


It got me thinking about other songs that weren’t necessarily made for a specific movie or TV show but are associated with that movie or TV show because of the memorable moment they were a part of. Take, for example, the song “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey. Many associate it with the series finale of “The Sopranos” and its final moments that still leave people both mystified and irritated. Other, more musical theatre-inclined people associate it with its use in the series premiere of “Glee.” (Oh god, remember “Glee?”) It wasn’t written specifically for either of those things, and yet that’s what we often associate it with. So much so, that I once saw a piece of sheet music titled “Don’t Stop Believin’ (From the Television Series “Glee”).”


Another great example is the iconic Queen song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Not that it needs to be associated with anything to be great, but often when I think of it I think of Wayne and Garth of “Wayne’s World” jamming out in their car. It’s a classic scene, made even more classic by the song playing in it. Ferris Bueller crashing a parade in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” is memorable to begin with, but add The Beatles’ cover of “Twist and Shout” to the mix and it’s forever a part of cinematic history.


Putting a certain song in a certain scene can do so much. It can elevate a scene to new heights. It can take a moment from memorable to iconic. It can even give an older song a second (or third, in the case of “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Glee”) life with a new generation. Or, it can just make someone standing in a restaurant say, “hey, remember that weird show that only I watched in the summer of 2016?” Either way, it’s fascinating and worth thinking about next time a song you heard on a TV show or in a movie gets stuck in your head.


What do you think? Have any songs not made for but featured in a particular movie or TV show that have stuck with you? Are you regretting not watching “BrainDead”? Because you should be. It was great! Let me know on all of the above in the comments. And, before I go back to mourning the end of “Gilmore Guys” (check out my interview with them from back in the day!), I’ll say what I always do…


Stay classy.


What Stephen Colbert Is Doing Right (That, No Offense, Jimmy Fallon Isn’t Really Doing At All)

Frank Rich and Stephen Colbert at Vulture Festival. Photo by Jenn Murphy

Much has been said in recent months about the latest late-night battle between Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” and Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show.” In the early months of the new “Late Show’s” run, when Colbert somewhat struggled to figure out what his show’s voice would be amongst the many other late-night programs (and the famous character he was trying to step away from), Fallon continued to reign supreme with his fun, party-like atmosphere. But then the election happened, and a huge portion of the country didn’t feel like partying anymore.


Now, Colbert is beating Fallon in terms of viewership (albeit with some caveats) with his thoughtful yet scathing nightly takes on the current political landscape. Or, as Colbert referred to it at last weekend’s Vulture Festival (which was great, and I would know because I was there) the current political “dumpster fire.”


Colbert talked with Frank Rich at the event about how he’s choosing to handle the “dumpster fire,” saying, “it feels like things are on fire, and I’m not a fireman. I’m a guy who dances next to the fire and says, ‘Let’s all admit this is on fire. Do you think this should be on fire? Is this something we want to burn today for one man’s ego?”


To me, this is the epitome of what Colbert is doing that Fallon isn’t, and it’s what has caused him to currently surpass Fallon in viewership. Colbert (like Seth Meyers and Samantha Bee and John Oliver and Trevor Noah, to some extent) isn’t afraid to really discuss what is happening in the political world, because he knows that it’s in large part the primary thing currently on people’s minds. He’s able to tap into the things that are really making people nervous or frustrated and create points of discussion and connection that keep everyone from teetering off the edge. It’s a clever mix of topical horror and humor, something that seems to be increasingly popular in all forms of entertainment, from movies like “Get Out” to TV series like “Black Mirror.”


And none of this is to say that Jimmy Fallon isn’t a great host or entertainer. He was wonderful for years on “Late Night” and has maintained his charming showmanship on “The Tonight Show.” And sure, Fallon will frequently address the actions or behaviors of our current leadership, but he never cuts as deep or goes as hard as Colbert does. And that’s his choice. He’s made it clear that he wants to keep things light, and it’s becoming increasingly evident that lightness isn’t exactly what people are currently seeking out.  Perhaps once things calm down (if they ever do), people will want to go back to the “Tonight Show” party. But until then, it seems like Colbert and his “dumpster fire” dance will be on top.


What do you think? Which late-night host do you like the best? Are you also currently obsessed with Maya Rudolph as Dionne Warwick on “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt“? Let me know in the comments, but keep it nice! And, of course…


Keep it classy.


I Don’t Really Know What To Write About This Week, So Here’s the Trailer for ‘The Glass Castle’

Honesty is important, and that’s why I’m honestly telling you that I had no clue what to write about this week. (To be even more honest, I’m actually writing this on Friday because I’m going to be away this weekend, including Monday.) I guess I could share some thoughts on recent TV season finales (“Quantico“: alright; “Designated Surivor“: irritating; “Grey’s Anatomy“: fantastic.) or the announcements that both Jimmy Kimmel and James Corden will return to host the Oscars and Grammys respectively in 2018 (BORING. I know award show hosts are repeated often, but let’s have a little variety, people!). Neither of those things feel right though, so instead I’ll talk a little about the trailer for “The Glass Castle.”


“The Glass Castle” is based on the memoir of writer Jeannette Walls, wherein she chronicles her unconventional upbringing and the lives of her eccentric parents. I know this because I read the book, both in high school and again in college. It’s very good and very compelling and I highly recommend it. I believe Jennifer Lawrence was initially attached to star in the film adaptation, but was eventually replaced by Brie Larson, as the trailer shows. Which is fine! While it would have been nice to see Lawrence in a role that’s a little more down to earth (Ha. Get it? Because “Passengers” was in space? I’m sorry.), Larson is a great actress as well (I’ll forever recommend “Short Term 12” and her amazing performance in it) so no complaints here. Plus, Woody Harrelson is pretty much the perfect person to play her Dad. (Although now that I think about it, his buddy Matthew McConaughey would also be a good pick.)


The movie is set for release in August, which I guess means that they don’t have huge awards expectations for it? I assumed it would get a November release, given its recent Oscar-winning star and moderately well-known story (at least among high school students and book club Moms). The trailer does feel a little bit flat, and it does seem to weirdly romanticize the Dad, who was not the greatest of guys in the book. I guess I’ll have to see it to find out, which I fully intend on doing.


What do you think? Excited for “The Glass Castle”? Disappointed in the blandness of this post? They can’t all be winners. And hey, I did have a pretty great/terrible Jennifer Lawrence-“Passengers” joke in there! Tell me you own terrible jokes and things that you would have wrote about this week in the comments. And, before I go finish the second season of “Master of None” (which is great, by the way) I’ll leave you with a simple reminder…


Stay classy.


‘American Idol’ is Officially Coming Back and I Have Some Thoughts

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Welp. It happened. “American Idol,” the FOX series that supposedly had its big grand final finale after 15 seasons last spring, is officially coming back to TV this spring, this time on ABC. You would think, given my previous loving words about the show and what it meant to me for years and years, that I would be excited by this news. Energized, even. And yet, I’m not. Not. At. All.


Because “American Idol” was supposed to be over. I had made peace with it ending. I was fully ready for it to be a thing of the past, something we could all look back on lovingly. Even though it sucks when something we like on TV ends, if it’s had a long life (like “Idol” did) it can often be for the best. As much as I knew I would miss it, (and trust me, I have) it was time to move on.


But we do not live in an era of moving on.  From “Gilmore Girls” to “Twin Peaks” to “Will & Grace,” it seems like all you have to do is say an older, beloved TV series’ name into a mirror three times for it to get revived or rebooted. And while we have yet to see if the “Twin Peaks” and “Will & Grace” revivals work, the “Gilmore Girls” one decidedly didn’t. It’s hard to get back the magic, especially after years of being off the air.


It would appear that “American Idol” has the advantage, given that they’ve only been off the air for a year. But really, “Idol” lost its magic years ago. All you have to do is listen to the “Good Morning America” team announce ABC’s acquisition of “Idol.” They talk all about the album sales and Grammy wins (and of course that Oscar win) without acknowledging that the bulk of that (especially the awards) came from contestants and winners from the earliest seasons.


While the last few seasons of “Idol” still did pretty well in the ratings, the post-“Idol” success rate of its winners and contestants shrunk significantly. Much of that can be blamed on the viewing, voting public, who consistently chose handsome, talented but generic white guys for the “Idol” crown. If ABC thinks that viewership is going to change in just a year and they’re going to start churning out legitimate pop stars again, then they’re clearly not paying attention.


It also doesn’t help their case that two of the “Idol’s” biggest stars have evidently jumped ship, signing on to coach on upcoming seasons of “The Voice.” A traitorous move to be sure, but not entirely surprising given “The Voice’s” popularity and the fact that most people only watch it for the coaches and not the actual contestants. Seriously, try to name a winner of “The Voice.” You can’t, because none of them have done anything.


Right now, all this “American Idol” reboot has going for it is rumors that Katy Perry could join as a judge (despite reportedly turning it down during the show’s original run) and the slightest possibility that the busiest man in the world aka Ryan Seacrest might be able to carve out some time to come back and host the show that made him a star. They will also likely still have a rabid fan base to watch it, but like I said earlier, that fan base is both a gift and a curse.


In conclusion: Am I happy that “American Idol” is officially coming back? Not exactly. Do I think that it will do as well as it did in its heyday on FOX in its new incarnation on ABC? No way. Will I watch it? Yes, of course. Come on. I am only human.


What do you think of the “American Idol” revival news? Do you think it’ll do well? Are you also incredibly upset that not one, not two, not three, but FOUR of the shows on my list of five that deserved to be renewed were unceremoniously cancelled? I feel like we should starts some petitions or something. Help me form a game plan in the comments. And, before you go watch Masterpiece Theater’s fantastic adaptation of “King Charles III” remember…


Stay classy.


Let’s Talk About the New and Improved (?) MTV Movie & TV Awards

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Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Last night was the debut of the MTV Movie & TV Awards, MTV’s attempt at modernizing their big award show that doesn’t yearly feature an amazing performance from Beyonce. Among the updates: new and gender neutral categories and the addition of television shows and actors as viable candidates.


Now, of course, you can’t exactly take an award show that chooses to recognize Emma Watson for her acting skills entirely seriously, (And before you come for me, Harry Potter fans, go see “The Circle.” It’s really bad despite being based on a great book, and her stiff-as-a-board performance is significant reason for that.) but in many categories the show celebrated diversity in a way that the bigger shows haven’t. Best Kiss went to Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome for “Moonlight,” Best Hero went to Taraji P. Henson for “Hidden Figures” and the Next Generation award went to Daniel Kaluuya for “Get Out.” (You can see the full winner list here.)


As for the decision to eschew male and female categories and go for two big gender neutral awards for TV and film, the idea itself is great, but it poses some concerns when it comes to nominations and wins. It is of course incredibly important to recognize performers who don’t identify as solely male or female, but by condensing those categories into one you A) lose opportunities to award equally worthy performers of all genders and B) lose opportunities to recognize under appreciated performances with a nomination. The limited number of nominations that come with just one award as opposed to two means that performances that perhaps went under the radar of the general public won’t be recognized with a nomination because only the best of the best and the most universally known will get nominated. It seems highly unlikely that bigger shows like the Oscars or the Emmys will go in this direction any time soon, but if they did choose to go the way of MTV, that would be something to take into consideration.


As for new awards that blended both movie and TV nominees, the winners still leaned more on the movie side. Out of the 10 categories that featured both movie and TV contenders, six were won by movies and four were won by TV. This might not mean anything other than the fact that those were the actors who were willing to show up (I am convinced this is the case for many of these award shows that are voted on by the public, but that might just another one of my conspiracy theories), but it does show that even though TV is considered to be competitive with film again, it might not be with the younger generation.


Overall, the show was fun. Host Adam Devine continued to do a great Jack Black impression (jk jk, he was lovely) and the special sneak peek of the new “It” remake genuinely disturbed me in ways that only a creepy clown can. Did the updated MTV Movie & TV Awards change the world? No, not really. But did it keep me entertained for its 2-ish hour duration? Yes, yes it did.


Did you watch the MTV Movie & TV Awards? What did you think of the changes? Mad that “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping” wasn’t recognized at all? Me too. Before you write you complaint letters to MTV though, remember…


Stay classy.


‘Colossal’ is Hard to Explain But Easy to Enjoy

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Courtesy of Google Images. Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

Every once in a while a movie comes along that’s truly great but burdened with the fact that on paper it just seems…well…odd. It can be for a whole multitude of reasons but whatever they are, they often keep people from making the trip to the movie theater even if you tell them that once they see it, they’ll be happy they did.


A great example of this is 2015’s “The Lobster“, which I wrote glowingly about previously on this blog. If I said to you, “hey, want to go see this movie about the absurd lengths people will go to in order to find love and companionship?” you’d probably say “sure!” But if I then told you that movie involved a man going to a resort where he’s expected to find love in 40 days or he gets turned into the animal of his choosing, you’d likely run screaming. (I mean, you probably wouldn’t run screaming. Realistically you probably just look at me weird and say “hmmm maybe not”, but for the sake of this argument, let’s go with the running and the screaming.)


The same probably goes for “Colossal“, a lovely movie I saw recently. If I said, “hey, want to go see a movie about how powerful women can intimidate the often-fragile male ego?” you’d probably say “sounds dope, let’s do it.” But if I then told you that movie involved a woman who discovers that she has a weird mental connection to a giant monster wreaking havoc on Seoul, South Korea, you’d probably slowly back out of the room. (Again, you probably wouldn’t really slowly back out of the room. At least, I hope you wouldn’t. That would be super rude.)


And yet, that’s what “Colossal” is, and it’s great. Starring Anne Hathaway as the woman in question, the film follows her as she returns to her hometown after she loses her swank writing gig and gets kicked out of her boyfriend’s apartment.  There she runs into Jason Sudeikis‘ character, her sort-of childhood friend who gives her a job at his bar and becomes one of the first people she tells about her grim discovery.


There’s isn’t really much I can say about the movie other than that, but you can probably assume it doesn’t veer into predictable territory. In fact, that’s what makes it great. From the start, it’s nowhere near predictable and it keeps you guessing until the end. Sure, there are some elements of the story that don’t make a whole lot of sense, but if you’re really looking at a movie like this for logic, then you should probably go elsewhere.


So do your best to look past the more than a little ridiculous description and go see “Colossal.” I’m like, 85% sure you’ll like it. And then you too can struggle to try and explain it to your friends.


Have you seen “Colossal”? Have any other movies that are great if you can get past their weird-sounding premise? Are you also somehow connected to a monster wreaking havoc on a foreign city? I certainly hope not! If so, you should definitely remember to…


Stay classy.


5 At-Risk Shows That Definitely Deserve Another Season

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“Pitch” Screenshot by Jenn Murphy

In the next couple of months, the major networks will not only be announcing which new pilots we’ll get to see in the fall; they’ll also be announcing which currently-airing shows will get a last minute renewal. While some shows are an entirely lost cause (RIP “BrainDead,” you were too good for this world.) there are others that are at risk of cancellation but could be saved. I’ve selected my five favorites in the hopes that I can somehow “Secret” my way into getting them renewed. Here’s hoping!


1) “American Crime

I’ve talked before on this blog about how “American Crime” is way too good, that it almost doesn’t make sense for it to even be on ABC given it’s cable-quality writing and acting, but somehow it’s still at risk of being taken off the air after its third season ends next week. Sure, it’s not the easiest show to swallow; it’s endlessly bleak and dark, but the show’s timely story lines necessitate that! Plus, we should be making a real effort to save anything that keeps Regina King on our TVs on a weekly basis. If for nothing else, please renew it for that.


2) “Making History

The latest in Fox’s collection of wonderfully weird Sunday-night comedies (and not the only one to appear on this list), “Making History” deserves a second season because its take on time-travel is unique and highly entertaining. I mean, what other series would bring Paul Revere’s daughter to present day and have her try to make sense of pub trivia? No other, that’s who. That creative spark keeps me excited for what could happen next, and we’ll never get to see that if it ends up getting cancelled.


3) “New Girl

This one seems to have the best chance of getting renewed out of all of the shows on this list, given it’s long-running status and established fan base. However, the most recent season finale played out more like a possible series finale, and it hasn’t officially been decided on either way. While it might make sense to go out on top, we can’t possibly say goodbye to this show without seeing Winston meet his father face-to-face. Think of the stunt casting opportunities! Plus, if they go into the next season knowing for sure that it’s the last, they can really find ways to perfectly wrap up these characters and stories that we know and love.


4) “Son of Zorn

The second of Fox’s weird Sunday-night comedies to find its way to this list, “Son of Zorn,” deserves a renewal because it’s so gosh darn clever and it makes a seemingly impossible concept work so well. If you had told me I would love a comedy where an animated He-Man-like figure comes to the world of live action to develop a better relationship with his half-live action son, I would have said you were insane. But, you know what? I do love it. And my Dad loves it too, which is a rare accomplishment for a show to achieve. Also, much like Regina King on “American Crime”, the wonder of Tim Meadows’ Craig on “Son of Zorn” is not to be ignored.


5) “Pitch

While it may feel like years since “Pitch” actually aired on TV, it was an excellent addition to the fall 2016 schedule, especially for a baseball lover like myself. But it wasn’t just about the baseball of it all; the relationships and character dynamics were compelling and the way that it examined the challenges a young person faces when they suddenly become famous and successful was deeply fascinating. “Pitch” was probably one of my favorite new series of the fall 2016 season and I really hope I get to see it again. Come on, Fox, do it for me? Please?


So there you have it, my five shows that I hope will be saved. Some have a better chance while others have a rougher road to go. To any network execs reading this (and I’m sure there’s like, a ton): be kind when picking which shows to renew and cancel. Even if something isn’t a hit in the traditional sense, it might have dedicated viewers who would be very sad to see it go.


What do you think? Have any other shows you’re hoping will be saved from the cancellation axe? Still recovering from last night’s “Feud” season finale? Talk about bleak. Anyway, as always…


Stay classy.



Take A Trip Back to Middle School with ‘SNL’

I know I know I know, two “SNL” sketch posts in a row? Try not to judge me too hard. This one was just too good to pass up, especially if you, like me, fondly remember attending or being a part of your school’s theatrical productions.


I used to always joke that I had the heart of a performer but none of the skill, and so I generally stayed away from being a part of any of the plays or musicals done in middle or high school. I did, however, have a lot of friends who appeared in school productions, so needless to say I spent a lot of time seeing them (which was both a good and bad thing).


The way that the characters in the above sketch hype the show vs. the way the show actually plays out is eerily accurate to my many experiences with my friends’ shows. They’d talk it up as this great production that would blow my mind and make me feel like I was seeing something on Broadway and then it would end up being the hottest of messes. Missed cues, wrong notes, periods of awkward silence while a main character tried to remember lyrics MID-SONG; I’ve seen just about everything while trying to be a supportive pal. (To my friends’ credit though, they were never the problem. And I swear I’m not just saying that because they were my friends.)


It wasn’t until I became a part of the pit band (yeah, I was a band geek) for my high school’s production of “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” that I came to understand the disconnect between what they saw and what actually happened. Was our production amazing? Probably not. Were audiences “dancing in the aisles,” as many ads for Broadway musicals like to claim? I highly doubt it. But were we convinced, after weeks of work and dedication, that we were a part of something worth seeing? You better believe it. And we weren’t even really in the cast, so you can only imagine how they felt about it all.


“SNL” is often at its best when it taps into something that’s relatable. Sure, the topical sketches on politics and current events can be fun (although I’m starting to wonder if Alec Baldwin’s one-note impression of 45 is wearing thin), but the best moments are when they hit something that you thought only you and your friends felt or experienced. This sketch is great example of that.


What did you think of this sketch? Have any other favorites from the episode? Are you also grappling with the fact that you really liked that new Harry Styles song? Make your confession in the comments. And, as always…


Stay classy.


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