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.
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…
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
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…
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!
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
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
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
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…
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…
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 support 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.)
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…
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…
This past Saturday, the series finale of “Orphan Black,” the woefully under appreciated clone show where Tatiana Maslany has played like at least 12-15 different people flawlessly, aired. (I feel like I describe things as “woefully under appreciated” a lot. People need to appreciate things that deserve appreciation more!) It was a very satisfying finale, and it got me thinking about what makes a great series finale and what can cause a series finale to fail.
(Obligatory warning that there will probably be some series finale spoilers for various shows in the coming paragraphs. Proceed with caution.)
What made the “Orphan Black” series finale work is that it tied up some key loose ends (like killing off all of the baddies trying to make the lives of Tatiana Maslany’s many characters difficult) but left a few things open, so that we’d all have something to think about once the show had ended. How will Helena be as a mother? Will Cosima and Delphine be able to find all 270-something clones and inoculate them from the illness that plagues their kind? We don’t know! And that’s fine. (Although, it seems like the show’s creators might be on board for a movie continuation down the line. Not sure how I feel about that.) We don’t need to know everything. We just need to know enough to feel comfortable that the characters we love will be okay.
The same could be said about the perfect series finale of “Parks and Recreation,” although that one literally went into the future to show us most of the key moments of each main character’s life. Even though they did do a lot to wrap up not just current plot lines but future plot lines as well, they still left us with a big, fun question: Does Ben or Leslie become President? It seems like one of them may have taken the most powerful position in the country (at least, other than being one of Beyonce’s children), but it’s unclear who. That leaves room for fun speculation. Everyone can have their own idea of what happened, just like at the end of a great book. A finale obviously needs to have elements that are clearly final, but a good finale also has elements that can be up to the interpretation or imagination of the viewer.
But not all finales are good. Take, for example, the end of “Gilmore Girls.” (For the record, I consider “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” the end of “Gilmore Girls.” Unless, of course, they end up doing more. I doubt they will though.) Never before had I seen a finale end with such a cliffhanger. Rory is pregnant? Who’s the father? (Logan, probably. Although it could be someone else!) How is all of that going to go down? That’s not a small loose end or a question that can be left to the interpretation of the viewer. That’s question that needs to be answered…like, now. And the craziest part of it all is that those final four words, that big reveal, was reportedly part of creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s plan all along.
That’s where I think series finales can veer into dangerous territory. Deciding down to the most specific details how you will end your show when you’re just starting it seems to set yourself (and, as a result, the viewers) up for disappointment. Even if you have every single moment of the series mapped out from beginning to end, things can still change and mutate based on current culture and the views of a show’s fans. Series creators and writers shouldn’t be beholden to the views of fans, of course, but it feels like a disservice to completely ignore their hopes and wishes for the end of a series they’ve been watching for years and just focus on some idea you had a long time ago.
And that brings me to what I consider the worst series finale I’ve ever seen. So bad that I haven’t watched a single frame of the show since the finale aired and have gone so far as to only refer to it as “the awful show I will not name.” It rhymes with “Shmow Shmi Shmet Shmour Shmother.” The final moments of the series completely eschewed every thing leading up to it, the whole premise of the show really, to service an ending that had been thought of many years prior. While some people (insane people, if you ask me) were fine with it, many others were horrified and upset. It’s hard to find a list of “Worst TV Series Finales” without this one being prominently featured. Sure, it ties up just about every loose end (in the worst ways possible), but the only questions it left its viewers with were Why? and How could you? and What was the point of anything that led up to this? It proved that just because you have an ending in mind from the beginning doesn’t mean you should stick to that ending when all is said and done. Much like “Gilmore Girls,” this show got too far in, and the ending they had imagined didn’t make sense anymore.
Making a good series finale is challenging. Stuck between maintaining a creative vision and at least somewhat catering to the fans, shows can either find the balance and succeed (like “Orphan Black” and “Parks and Rec”) or fail (like “Gilmore Girls” or that…other one). At least we can all agree on the fact that shows largely benefit from having a set finale that they can prepare for, not one that just happens because a show was cancelled. Like “Pitch.” Did you think I forgot about “Pitch”? I’ll never forget about “Pitch.” Bring back “Pitch”!
What do you think makes a good series finale? Have any other finales that you loved (or hated)? Did you also attempt to watch the Teen Choice Awards last night but gave up after the 5th tween you didn’t recognize? We can figure it out together in the comments. And of course…
This past week the wonderful (and woefully under appreciated, until quite recently) “Hot Rod” celebrated the 10th anniversary of its release. It follows the totally normal story of Rod Kimble and his mission to do dope stunts and raise enough money for his step-dad’s heart surgery…so he can finally defeat him in their regular wrestling matches, of course. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time and it’s crazy to think that its been 10 years since it first came out.
I ended up happening upon it a year or so after its release when my mother brought it home for me from Blockbuster (RIP Blockbuster, the best place ever), saying “I saw this and it looked like something you might like.” Luckily, she was right and I spread it amongst my friends like wildfire, so that when I said “cool beans” in weird voice they wouldn’t look at me like I was an insane person.
My experience with discovering “Hot Rod” and falling in love with it seems to be the way many of its most ardent fans found it. When it was first released 10 years ago, it didn’t receive the most positive of responses from critics and viewers alike. It was, in a way, ahead of its time. Starring Andy Samberg and Jorma Taccone, among others, and directed by Akiva Shaffer, it was basically a Lonely Island movie before The Lonely Island was even a thing (or, at least, a thing people knew about).
Much like the best Lonely Island songs and sketches, what set “Hot Rod” apart from the other bro-y comedies it might be grouped in with was that it took already funny premises and pushed them to the most absurd extremes. Take, for example, the scene above. It starts out as a somewhat stereotypical scene from an inspirational sports movie, with the whole town rallying behind one man. It quickly evolves into a musical and then devolves into a riot. The absurdity of it all isn’t lost on the characters, who immediately call out how crazy it was. It’s executed so well, equal parts clever and silly.
While many comedies now are big and brash with their jokes, they don’t necessarily do it well. “Hot Rod” had those big and brash qualities, but it didn’t feel like any of it was forced. It all felt natural and right for the characters, their personalities and their situation, which is probably why so many people have gravitated toward the movie in recent years.
If you have somehow missed out on the joy that is “Hot Rod” in the last 10 years, what are you doing? Go watch it! NOW. Seriously, whatever you were doing before you started reading this can wait. You’ll be happy you did. I know I was.
Have you seen “Hot Rod”? Have any other under appreciated comedies that you love? Still mad that “Pitch” got cancelled? Me too. Why, Fox, why????? Leave your thoughts in the comments. Cool beans? Cool beans. And, of course…