“5. Be nice to someone.” – Parks and Recreation Recap

johnny karate parks

Season 7, Episode 10: The Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show
Posted by Sage

Neither Leslie and Ben’s triplets or Ann and Chris’s Oliver have received much show focus since their births. No great loss: Parks already has its idealized version of childhood in one Andrew Dwyer.

With only a handful of episodes left in its lifetime, Parks and Rec dedicated a full show to Andy and by virtue of that, to the family that’s watched him grow up. It’s a rare meta exercise for the series. The action – aside from a very important sidebar – is staged in real-time, as Johnny Karate takes his final bow.

It’s a clever set-up that satisfies on multiple levels. Firstly, we get to see Andy’s show! It’s zany, heartfelt, completely absurdist and wouldn’t feel entirely out of place on the UHF network. (Anyone for drinking from the fire hose?) Mailman Barry and Pawnee’s tiniest ninjas aren’t Andy’s only sidekicks; Johnny Karate is a Parks Department family affair. Ben plays out his Mister Wizard fantasies as Professor Smartbrain. Carpenter Ron does his best to instill a respect for doing things with your own two hands. And Leslie, because she is an expert, gives tips on how to be brave.

parks boring buzzerparks boring buzzer
I love that Pawnee parents tune in to Johnny Karate every day to see business owners and high-ranking government employees who aren’t too busy to remind the town’s kids to “do something new, even if it’s scary to you.” Leslie, Ron, et. al. do the show because they love Andy, but they’re also reminding their neighbors that this is a town that would never value conference calls over karate singalongs. (Or drenching John Cena in a dunk tank.) Most of what we saw in this episode was beamed out to the whole town, continuing that infinite feedback loop of love that exists between these people and the place they live. It’s why Mailman Barry’s mailbag is loaded down with letters asking the Karate-Dwyers to stay.

Andy’s friends stage a swift and welcome coup during his final show; it becomes Andy Dwyer: This Is Your Life. And what a life it’s been. When we met Andy, he was self-absorbed and immature, holding Ann back just as much as that cavernous pit in her backyard. He had to be raised, in a different way than April. Break the show down to its bones, and Andy was kind of the catalyst for everything that’s happened. (“In a weird way, Andy, I owe it all to you.”) The thing about these people around him is that they take the time to see who you are. Andy’s gigantic heart started to show itself, and everything else grew out of that. Where do you think he came up with the 5 Karate Moves to Success? He’s lived them, my friends.

1. Make Something

parks johnny karate song

The big MouseRat joke was the band’s multitude of name changes, or the songwriter’s preference for lofty, heroic lyrics, but never the quality of the music. Let’s face it: the “shitty band” gag can only go so far. Andy is talented; creating things makes him feel worthy. He almost gave it up a few times, but I’m glad that April helped him realize that there’s nothing silly about making silly songs that make other people happy.

2. Learn Something

parks hug momentparks hug moment
Andy is the first (and to our knowledge, only) recipient of the coveted Ron Swanson Scholarship. He’s not dumb because he doesn’t know things. He’s smart because he knows he wants to. New information is a gift to Andy, something that makes his awesome world even more awesome. (“Did you know that the food you eat becomes energy?” *kicks air* “That’s spaghetti.”)

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“Daddy want pie.” – Parks and Recreation Recap

Parks and Recreation Season 7, Episode 9

“Pie-Mary” 

Posted by Kim

In its 7 season run, Parks and Recreation was (WAS…sniff) never been a show to shy away from gender issues.  It was only a matter of time before they tackled how wives of political candidates are treated.  Over the course of her career, Leslie has faced how she’s been treated as a woman when SHE has been the driving force of her life (“Women in Garbage” for example) but now she’s in the backseat for Ben’s congressional campaign.  How does that turn the tables for her?  That is what we explore in “Pie-Mary”.

The thing with Leslie Knope is that she has never been a woman who is content to just sit back and smile and wave.  If you ask Leslie a question, she’s going to answer it.  If you want her opinion on something, she’s going to give it to you in a hour-long dialogue where she probably ends up telling you her entire life story.  Leslie is passionate about her life, the people in it, and the things she believes in.  It’s what made Ben Wyatt fall in love with her in the first place and it’s what scares the bejeezus out of Jen Barkley, campaign manager (well that and the fact that every surface in the Knope-Wyatt house is sticky).  “It’s the smarties that freak people out,” she says, trying to prepare Leslie for what’s to come.  Leslie (naively) believes that the voters WANT a spouse who is more than a puppet because that’s the kind of person SHE would want to see.  Jen’s expression says it all: “Oh, honey”.

Of course, it takes all of three minutes for Jen Barkley to be proved right (she usually is).  Ben and Leslie attend a press conference that is meant to be promoting how the Gryzzl Headquarters will be revitalizing the economy of a forgotten district of Pawnee (you know, important stuff) but the conference quickly turns to Leslie’s decision not to participate in the annual Pie-Mary. Leslie’s response of “The last contest’s loser was all women” immediately provokes the press into asking Leslie if she is making a statement by skipping the Pie-Mary.  This leads to them questioning her skills as a mother, whether she values family, and how much her haircut cost (“None of your business, but thank you for noticing.”).  I’d laugh if this weren’t OH SO CLOSE to what actually happens to political spouses in life.

By the time Ben and Leslie get home, Mike Patterson and his family values cronies are openly attacking Leslie on the air, claiming “she’s saying women who love their families are stupid”.  Leslie sees only one option to avoid completely torpedoing Ben’s campaign: Divorce.  Or just entering the Pie-Mary.  Whatever is the lesser of two evils, I guess.

Leslie, Ben, and their spare can of whipped cream are interrupted by a knock at the door (that sounds like a dirty fanfic in the making).  It is NOT one of the triplets, as Leslie initially feared, but Elise from the Indiana Organization of Women (remember how desperately Leslie wants to win their Woman of the Year award? Foreshadowing).  Initially Elise is there to praise Leslie for not entering the Pie-Mary but when she learns Leslie plans on entering after all, she warns that they WILL protest her if she does.  Basically, Leslie is screwed either way and this frustrates the HELL out of her.  This is about BEN, after all.  Leslie believes in Ben and believes in what he could do as a Congressman.  She believes that he can do a lot FOR women once he’s elected…so why shouldn’t she participate in a stupid pie making contest if the end result is his victory? Leslie, for once in her life, is looking at the big picture here.  She’s spent much of her career focusing on the small battles, not the wars…but for Ben?  For Ben she sees the big picture.  And that’s worth sacrificing a small pie slice of her dignity.

Of course as Leslie is waxing poetic about what a feminist her husband is, this happens…

Did anyone else get the vibe that Ben was getting into a little bit of roleplay for some sexytimes since the kids are all asleep?  I mean I know he’s pointing at his belly but he could also be pointing elsewhere and there IS the spare whipped cream and OMG have I been reading too much smutty fan fiction this week?

(Sage: No, you can never read too much smutty fan fiction.)

Once Elise leaves, Ben comes up with the perfect solution.  He will be his own wife and enter the pie contest himself.  Frankly, I think it’s what he wanted to do all along.   He gleefully says that they will change the idea of what a pie is.  After all…there’s crust, filling, and then more crust.  What are pies really?  They are just sweet calzones!  And we all know there’s never been a calzone that Ben Wyatt didn’t love.  Other than the ones that betrayed him.

At the pie-mary, Ben and Leslie are very proud for how they’ve beaten the system.  By having Ben enter, they are showing that tradition gender roles don’t matter to them (which keeps the IOW off their backs) but they are still there representing a great Pawnee tradition (which should keep the Family Values people at bay).  Everybody wins, right? Ben, in his customized apron, proudly gets up and presents his calzone pie…right as a men’s rights group shows up to protest his apparent emasculation.  They demand that Ben be freed (“From what?” #bless) from the tyranny of his wife.  “Behind every successful woman is a man she has oppressed,” the ringleader Kipp Bunthart declares.  Leslie tries to explain that Ben WANTED to do this (“He has five personalized aprons!!”) but Kipp immediately fires back a statement that almost every woman has said at some point in her life.  “So he was asking for it because of how he was dressed?” Men have had it VERY hard recently, don’t you know? Everything is so pitch perfect, I basically seal clapped for the rest of this storyline.

Like it or not, Jen advises Ben and Leslie to hold a press conference so they can apologize for all their offenses (“Ignore the fact that you’re right and put on your blandest outfit.”).  Naturally, the conference is full of men’s rights protestors holding up signs, including a GENIUS “Yes All Men” sign.  Leslie starts her scripted apology but Ben Wyatt, prince among men stops her (“My wife is a very independent woman…so I’m not going to let her speak.”).  He’s not going to allow Leslie to apologize for being who she is.  Above anything else, Ben and Leslie are a TEAM and Ben refuses to allow Leslie to compromise who she is.  She wouldn’t be the woman he wants standing by his side as he pursues his political career if she changed who she is so she could fit some pre-determined mold. But above all else, she wouldn’t be the woman he married if she did.  And that, ladies and gents, is why their marriage is one we should all aspire to have.

 

 

 

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Everything We Need to Know in Life We Learned From Parks and Recreation

Posted by Kim and Sage

Tomorrow night, Parks and Recreation goes out on top.

Though it’s profoundly upsetting that NBC felt that it had to burn off the only comedy it has left (and the best one on network television), at least the show is ending on its own terms. This seventh season has felt like a victory lap, one intent on driving home the life lessons that Parks has been teaching us for years.

What sets Parks apart from most of its half-hour sitcom peers (besides impeccable writing and a knockout cast) is its worldview. With its Paunchburger-sized heart firmly in the right place, the show made nice funny again. And its niceness has never felt naive or unsophisticated. Today, we pay tribute to Parks and Recreation by thanking the show for everything it’s taught us about friendship, ambition, teamwork, and whole-assing one thing. Good night, sweet Pawnee. We’ll miss you in the saddest fashion.

–Sage

1) “Anything’s a toy if you play with it.”

Your life can be fun, but it’s up to you to make it that way.

2) “Ovaries before Brovaries”

#LADIESSUPPORTINGLADIES

3) “Do not confuse drama with happiness”

Let the story be the bright side when things go wrong. But don’t sacrifice your happiness just for the story.

4) “Sometimes you have to work a little so you can ball a lot.”

The Head Over Feels Life Philosophy.  No amount of fun comes without some modicum of hard work.

5) “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.”

As scientists and joyologists have proven.

6) “Whole Ass One Thing.”

Self explanatory, really.  Put your whole ass into whatever you are pursuing.

7) “Dream Bigger”

When they knock you down, go above their heads. You’ll be better off, plus they’ll hate it.

8) “Jogging is the worst.”

Seriously.  Jogging is the worst.

9) “Messy is fun, okay?”

“Ron, messy is fun, okay. My whole life is a giant mess, and I love it.”

Throw out all your expectations of the neat, magazine-glossy existence; the spotless resume; and the bump-free relationship. Embrace the inevitable chaos.

10) “Don’t start chasing applause and acclaim.  That way lies madness.”

The minute you start doing things for the approval of others is the minute you start losing yourself.

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“You are tacky and I hate you.” – Oscar Fashion Post

Posted By Maggie with commentary from Kim and Sage

The show went until after midnight and we are exhausted.  Let’s get right to the fashion, shall we?

The Best Dressed

1) Rosamund Pike

Maggie: FINALLY. This is the flawless queen I knew she could be. I have been praying for her to wear a red Oscar gown for weeks, but I had no idea that she would come through so beautifully for me. This look is not without its nitpicks (I could have done with a less matchy shoe, it’s a lot of slit), but look at that gorgeous neckline. The details around her waist. The subtle styling, she’s letting the rich red and texture of the gown do the work. I’m in love.

Kim: On behalf of Rosamund’s breasts, which have been tormented all season, I thank this dress for doing right by them. I loooooooooooove the corsetry detail.  You can tell by the way she carried herself that she felt like a million bucks.  I think a bracelet would have taken this to the next level but after the train wreck she’s been, I have nothing else to complain about regarding this look.  Nailed it.

Sage: The matchy shoe is a little pageant-like, but the style is actually what this gown needed. After the Hollywood wet-head epidemic at the SAGs, I also appreciate an updo with a little softness and volume. If Juli hadn’t been in the race, I think Rosamund would have been a serious contender this year. And she finally looks like one.

2) Anna Kendrick

Maggie: Now this is the type of pink gown Anna can work. I love this shade of pink on her, the jewels complement it perfectly, and it fits her like a dream. That keyhole. I wasn’t a big fan of the princessy gown she wore to the Golden Globes and I think it’s because this shape suits her so well, while still being feminine and soft.

Kim:I love the salmon color.  I think the dress overall is a little safe, but the fit is impeccable and this is how you do tasteful underboob.

Sage: It feels weird to agree with a Kardashian of any stripe, but I have to echo Khloe’s views on this dress: the color just isn’t Oscar. If Anna had worn this to a premiere or Critics Choice or another less formal affair, it would have been much more impactful. The fit is bangin’, though.

3) Dakota Johnson

Maggie: Every time Dakota was on-screen, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. This is another beautiful red, another dress fitted to perfection, but look at the one shoulder detail. I love it and it set her apart so well. I don’t think her lipstick worked perfectly, but I did like her simple ponytail. I just wish for her more roles like Kate Fox in the dearly departed Ben and Kate, as opposed to 50 Shades (of creepy interviews for the rest of your career).

Kim: The dress is FYNE but I really just want to talk about how Christian Grey spanked any form of personality out of her.  SHE IS SO BORING IN INTERVIEWS NOW. Rosamund should steal her bracelet.

Sage: The chocolate brown dye-job suits her just fine, especially paired with this fire engine red. Now if she could only siphon off a little color for her bored and boring attitude.

4) Margot Robbie

Maggie: This look isn’t what I was expecting from Margot, so it threw me for a minute. But the more I look at it, the more I like it. She looks so comfortable and so at ease. How do you wear a black gown with long sleeves and still look so youthful? Love the hair, LOVE the red lip, and the necklace was such a unique and savvy choice.

Kim: Her lips are FLAWLESS.  I’m getting a young Michelle Pfeiffer vibe from her here.  Also her after-party dress is spectacular.

Sage: Remember that show Swingtown? That was a good show. I’m all for re-purposed ’70s chic. And since Margot Robbi looks 24/7 like she stepped out of a Spiegel catalog circa 1979, she does it best.

5) America Ferrera

Maggie: This Jenny Packham dress is stunning and I love her in it. THIS COLOR. (And it’s a little ombre, no?) And that belt! Now, I wasn’t a fan of the earrings and I think she could have stepped up her hair game, but overall I think she looks lovely.

Kim: I love the ombre and the flowyness of the dress.  The lining and the seam around her boobs bug me.  I wish her boobs were a little more supported.  But you done good, Betty Suarez.

Sage: It’s a little prom-y. I feel like America usually goes more structured, which lends a sophistication to her soft curls and baby face. I would totally vote for her for the court though.

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Live Blogging the Oscars 2015 Red Carpet

Posted by Kim and Sage 

We may be several episodes behind on our weekly recaps (THEY ARE COMING WE PROMISE) but for now it’s time to celebrate our High Holy Day: The Academy Awards.  I just read there is no mani-cam tonight, so the Celebrities and the world has already won tonight!  Join us here for all the commentary on Giuliana and Ryan and for all the flails regarding fashion.  WOOOOO!

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“I’m not playing a game. I never was.” – Agent Carter Recap

 

 

Agent Carter Season 1, Episode 7

“Snafu” 

Posted by Kayti

Television is a serialized art form. The best shows work well as standalone episodes, but also fit together to craft a larger story that can only be completely seen (and judged) once a story arc, season, or even series is finished. For me, this is what makes television so much fun and, at times, frustrating to write about. Television criticism grew out of film criticism so it observes many of the same rules, but television and film are decidedly different mediums. And the episode-by-episode recap can only get you so far because a television show’s narrative power goes well beyond an episode’s boundaries. It lies in the story and character arcs that stretch across many episodes, across an entire season.

I’m rambling about the differences between TV and film criticism because Agent Carter’s latest excellent episode, “Snafu,” succeeded not only because it was suspenseful, funny, and heartbreaking in its own right, but because it put the previous few episodes in a context that made them better as well: the mark of a truly great television experience.

I have been somewhat critical of the Dr. Ivchenko storyline in the past two episodes. The trip to Russia where the S.S.R. retrieved Ivchenko felt like a narrative distraction, and Ivchenko’s nefarious purposes seemed obvious given the circumstances of his “rescue.” In the last episode, Ivchenko’s hypnosis of first Dooley than Yauch also felt like more distraction from the larger issues at play — namely, Peggy’s run from the S.S.R. Though I am still not completely sold on the way these storylines played out — I could have done without some of the one-off characters we have met along the way in favor of more character development for those people we already know — it all came together in “Snafu.” And, I have to admit, it was worth the wait. Ivchenko is scary in a slow, dreadful kind of way. And Dooley’s story arc came to a heartbreaking conclusion when he jumped out the window to save his co-workers from the bomb he had become.

Though the story of the family Dooley would never be able to see again seriously played at the heartstrings, it was actually his relationship with Peggy that really hit me in the feels. In his final moments, Dooley gave his final command as head of the S.S.R. to Peggy. Not to Thompson or Sousa or even the S.S.R. agents as a group. To Peggy. The woman he had only just started to trust with following up leads. After episode upon episode of lunch runs and files organization, Dooley entrusted Peggy with the most important mission yet: stopping Leviathan and avenging his death.

 

 

 

Gah. Peggy finally earns the respect of her co-workers and her boss, but it comes at a heavy, heavy price. First, it came at the expense of breaking their trust in some pretty major ways just so she could show what she can do.

Secondly, it came at the expense of understanding just how dangerous their enemies could be, at the expense of death. Yauch, Krzeminski, Dooley, and that random guy in the stairwell all had to die before the S.S.R. trusted Peggy. Guys, that’s a problem. This outcome is tragic not only for its inherent, you know, tragedy, but for the way in which it all (or, at least, partially) could have been avoided if anyone had listened to Peggy. Or, more accurately, if she were not part of a system in which she was afraid to speak up.

 

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“Everyone lives, no one is happy.” – Scandal Gif-Cap

scandal steven no more blood

Season 4, Episode 13: No More Blood
Posted by Sage

Is there anything better than a surprise return by a beloved character?

Yes: Olivia eviscerating Fitz with a blistering monologue.

It was a good week in Shondaland. On to the gifs.

“The woman says they’re playing us.” Meanwhile, Olivia is playing errrybody. She’s the boss.

course not boss

“Everyone lives, no one is happy.”

ill allow it chang

Olivia manages to sabotage the Iran exchange with neither her captors or her buyers being the wiser.

“I do not know what you are talking about, Red.” Abby knows that talks are happening about Olivia’s capture, but Cyrus plays dumb to avoid telling her what’s going on.

have to go feed my cat

“Liv’s okay.” Jake tells Quinn that the transfer didn’t go through. Quinn breaks down and cries on his chest. This is very stressful for all of us, gurl.

broadchurch actively needs tea

“We both know why we call it a race. It’s because someone wins. And it’s never you.” I’m always here for Mellie emasculating Andrew.

reedus sorry not sorry

“Any time I like, I can whisper in a reporter’s ear. Tell ’em how rough you like it. What filthy names get you off. And how loudly you moan.” Friendly reminder that we used to root for this guy.

anastasia going to upset me

“We have four countries. Four. Who will discover that the deaths of their leaders were not by natural causes.” The CIA estimates that there’s only a 30% chance of Olivia’s successful extraction. All their secrets are in jeopardy.

aladdin get caught

“Sir?” “We extract her. We stick with the plan.” Fitz won’t listen to any of his advisers. He’ll put the entire free world in danger to bone Olivia again.

capaldi fuck you

“Oh, for the love of god. You moron, you CHILD.” CYRUS, YES.

yes exactly sherlock

“You can take your flowers and your daisies and your ‘love conquers all’ and your hope and you can choke on it. Because I don’t work here ANYMORE.” Yes. All of this. All of it.

coriolanus talk to the hand

“….Cyrus? Don’t you agree?” HE WAS ONLY IMAGINING IT?

whatd you do tommy boy

“Even the scales, show some solidarity, sister.” Lizzy Bear needs to get her hands dirty, just like Mellie did.

rules of feminism

“Feels good, that’s the problem. Warm blood on your hands feels good. The music…of the screams.” Jake has an inner monster too. He keeps it inside, and Huck has to learn how to do that.

black like my heart

“You may be Liv’s puppy, but I’m kind of yours.” Quinn needs to know that Huck won’t lose it again if they lose Liv. “No more blood, I promise,” he swears.

freaky friday chill

“Forget I said it. Of course you’re right.” David tries to calm Abby about the possibility that the CIA will neutralize Olivia. Just get back together already, you two.

daddy's got you

“You want me to kill him, is that it?” “Just…do whatever it is you do. You have free reign. Full creative control. Just make him pay. Make him HURT.” Lizzy Bear appeals to Huck’s inner monster, just as he promised to hide him away forever.

han scared

“I’m sorry. I don’t do that anymore.” Aw.

what kind of crazy

“We stop that beating heart.” Cyrus goes around Fitz, who can never think straight when it comes to Olivia’s magical hoo-ha.

in your honor torchwood

“Make one step towards the Oval and I will have you arrested.” Abby tries to tell Fitz what Cyrus is up to.

felicity looking at it

“Go, Chechnya, go!” Liv’s kidnappers are watching the auction like it’s the big game.

tom hanks typing

“Who is Marie Wallace?”

mindy call my crotch

“We tied?” “This isn’t a high school soccer match. There are no ties.” “Marie” is matched with a bid from Russia.

zayn how does that happen

“Take her bid and then demand more at the drop. She will pay it.” Liv tries to swing the buy to Marie. Gus sees that that’s where she wants to go, so he accepts the Russians’ bid.

find a way out jean ralphio

“Red, need ya in the bullpen.” Cyrus again stops Abby from telling Fitz about the danger that Liv is in.

Ruined everything

Huck gets around the “no more blood” promise by incapacitating Andrew via injection.

fucking crazy

“Prescott Lake.” “In Canada. What’s up there?” It’s Rowan! And he’s fishing. It’s like yoga, but he gets to kill something.

fuck me malcolm tucker

“People are endlessly disappointing because you hope they won’t be.” Rowan knew that Liv and her people would need him eventually. So he won’t help.

i understand everything

“She’s your daughter.” “I don’t HAVE a daughter.”

this is awkward

Liv’s captors bicker about bathroom breaks, leaving their car keys on the table right in front of her.

scully we're in luck

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