The Best Performances of 2016

Posted by Kim and Sage

We’ve discussed the best TV moments of 2016 (you can find those here and here), so now we turn to the individual performances that brought us the most joy this year. These are the performances that inspired us, that stayed with us, and drove us into many a social media fight defending their worthiness. (Note of warning: if you come at Ryan Gosling, we WILL fight you.) I love everything we do for this website, but I have to admit that our annual “Best Performances” holds a special place in my heart, especially when I go back and re-read them when they pop up in our Timehop. These posts are like little time capsules of OUR year in entertainment; they reflect our crushes of the moment, our long-standing love affairs with performers that can do no wrong (Hey Eddie Redmayne), and a scrapbook of all the TV and Movies that we saw throughout the year. Some of these are the performances EVERYONE is talking about, whilst others are the ones that we think you all should be paying attention to. (ARE YOU ALL WATCHING SPEECHLESS BECAUSE YOU SHOULD BE.) Thus we present to you our 18 Best Performances of the year plus four Honorable Mentions. Because it’s our blog and we can’t be limited to our normal 20 shout outs. We hope you love them as much as we do.  — Kim

1) Millie Bobby Brown – Stranger Things

I obviously follow many celebrities on Instagram who are on the convention circuit. And I’ve noticed a pattern over the last few rounds of cons. All of these icons who themselves draw fans by the droves to their photo ops were all geeking out over one of their own. I can’t tell you how many backstage selfies I’ve liked of some famous fan cheesing like mad with Millie Bobby Brown.

And why shouldn’t they be starstruck over her? Millie burst onto the pop culture scene in the role of Eleven on Stranger Things in a striking performance reminiscent of Drew Barrymore in Firestarter. Eleven is a scientific marvel and a weapon, but she’s also a child – a child who was stolen from her family and exploited by the only “Papa” she’d ever known. Millie can do a thousand-yard stare like nobody else, but my favorite moments in the series are the ones where Eleven grasps for a sense of normalcy and belonging with the boys who find her. (“Still pretty?”) This young actor’s work warrants those deep reads of Stranger Things as an allegory about puberty, child abuse, or just being a kid in this big, bad world. 2016 will always be her breakthrough year, and we can’t wait to see how Millie’s career unfolds. –Sage

2) Kylie Bunbury and Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Pitch

The success or failure of Pitch as a show depends entirely on the woman playing Ginny Baker. If the audiences don’t connect with Ginny and her journey as the first woman to play professional baseball, the show never gets out of the dugout. (BASEBALL METAPHORS.) Lucky for the creators of Pitch and the television audience at large, we’ve got Kylie Bunbury carrying the entire show on her (very toned) shoulders. And the thing is, Kylie makes it look easy. Ginny Baker is an incredibly complex character and Kylie is tasked with a LOT. She’s got a spine of steel yet she remains incredibly vulnerable. (If you weren’t moved by her breakdown in the bathtub during her Almost Famous-esque “fuck everything” night, you may want to make an appointment with a cardiologist.) She’s been hurt and taken advantage of by so many people, yet she constantly puts herself on the line in the name of pursuing her dream. She fights to be treated as an equal in her workplace. (The episode where she blatantly refuses to back down from the “Beanball” war because she is a woman is SO IMPORTANT.) Kylie makes Ginny wonderfully human; she is flawed and complicated and she struggles being considered a role model when all she really wants to do is just play baseball. She’s the most important female character on TV right now, for so many women, and I PRAY that Fox does the right thing and picks up the show for season two.

gifs vis ginnyspitch.tumblr.com

And in the other corner, we have Mark-Paul Gosselaar as the aging All Star catcher Mike Lawson. Listen, it’s not like this is an out of nowhere comeback for the erstwhile Zack Morris. Mark-Paul has worked steadily since his Saved By The Bell days, but something feels DIFFERENT in this performance. He brings a “seen it all” attitude to Mike. He has a weariness that could easily be seen as a disillusionment towards the game when really it’s a career ballplayer being painfully aware that he’s coming to the end of his time in the sun. It took me about 75% of the pilot episode before I realized that I was watching Mark-Paul Gosselaar on my TV screen and it’s NOT just because of his GLORIOUS mountain man beard. Mark-Paul completely disappears into the character and brings a very Coach Taylor-esque quality to the Padres captain. It’s the speeches and the eye crinkles and the bone deep love of the game. Come on, you KNOW Mike Lawson would bust out with “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.”

So what happens when you put these two incredibly dynamic performers opposite each other? Fireworks, naturally. Kylie and Mark-Paul’s chemistry is SO PALPABLE and has so many levels. For Mike, Ginny serves as an inspiration and a reminder of why he loves baseball in the first place. In Mike, Ginny finds a true teammate who will stand up for her and not treat her with kid gloves. There’s a definite mentor relationship between them but there is also an undeniable sexual chemistry. Bawson is the slowest of slowburns, with their attraction building through lingering looks and late night phone calls. It’s the most DELICIOUS kind of tension and it’s one they are both incredibly aware of. Mike and Ginny are like magnets, pushing against each other, challenging each other, and eventually, falling into each other. To quote my boo Kate Moseley, “all they needed was a little flip.” — Kim

3) Joshua Sasse – No Tomorrow

As the meteor he believes is hurtling towards Earth inspires Xavier Holiday to live his life to the fullest, so does the uncertain future of the CW’s apocalyptic romantic comedy No Tomorrow inspire us to recognize it while we can.

Bearded, beanied, and tattooed Xavier is played by HOT AUSSIE Joshua Sasse, fresh off the unfairly canceled musical romp Galavant. (YEP, he sings too.) He makes an amazing case for not writing off the sexy guy who’s into you juuuuust because he believes the rapture is on its way. He breaks the Dealbreaker Scale, basically.

I’d like to keep on objectifying Xavier and Joshua (as the show clearly does – he’s 1/2 or more naked in most episodes), but I’ll get serious. It’s a challenging part, because Xavier has to believe completely in his end-of-the-world theory but not come off as dangerous or deranged. And as charming as he is to Evie and the audience (and OH, HE IS), Xavier is also kind of an arrogant jerk, accustomed to putting himself first. It’s a credit to Joshua’s embodiment of the character that Xavier is still our hero – a flawed person who heard terrible news and decided to use it to turn his life around. You see his petulance when Evie challenges him, but you also see the way he lights up when someone around him takes control of however many days they have left. And the man knows how to sell a love scene, just saying.

He’s so convincing that I wonder sometimes if Xavier is actually right about our impending doom. And if No Tomorrow gets the pick-up it should, I hope it ends with a completely fulfilled Apocalyst and a vindicated male lead. –Sage

4) Sterling K. Brown – This Is Us

2016 was a garbage year but it’s ALSO the year that gave us Sterling K. Brown’s major career breakthrough, so I am ALMOST willing to call it even. I foolishly missed out on The People Vs. OJ Simpson (and am counting down the days until it gets added to Netflix), so my first exposure to Sterling’s acting came when I saw the pilot episode of This Is Us. Sage said it perfectly when she wrote about Sterling for our Handsome Young Man post: just when we think Sterling has hit his peak as Randall Pearson, he just gets BETTER. Randall is easily the most compelling character on This Is Us, and sometimes I can’t decide if it’s because he has the best story or because Sterling is just THAT GOOD in a cast filled with stellar actors. I actually think it’s a combination of both; Randall DOES have the meatiest stories, but Sterling also elevates every single scene that he’s in. In my humble opinion, he is giving THE male television performance of the year.

It’s clear that Sterling understands Randall on a fundamental level. The performance is never one-note and Randall can switch from achingly vulnerable to slyly sarcastic in the blink of an eye. (His comic timing is MASTERFUL.) If I had to think of one word to describe Sterling’s performance it would be DEFT. You never see him working, you never see him changing gears, and you NEVER see Sterling. You only see Randall Pearson, king of bad Dad jokes and devoted son, brother, and husband. It’s such a fully formed and nuanced performance. But the most important thing about Randall is how wonderfully human he is. It would be quite easy, after all the truth about William and Rebecca and his adoption came out, for Randall to be played as bitter and jaded. But he’s never been that, even in his initial meeting with William in the pilot episode. Randall Pearson has the biggest HEART and his capacity for love and forgiveness is truly inspiring. Sterling imbues him with such grace and warmth that you can’t help but fall in love with him immediately. It’s the perfect combination of actor and the character he was meant to play and we’re so blessed to watch him work week after week. — Kim

5) Aya Cash – You’re the Worst

The first time I saw Aya Cash perform was in 2008 when she played a disillusioned teen in the off-Broadway comedy From Up Here. She was memorable in a way that surpassed quirkiness, and I’m so thrilled to see her thriving in a role like Gretchen Cutler.

I binged the first two seasons of You’re the Worst in time for the season 3 premiere and responded instantly to the show’s filthiness and honesty. As it progresses, the show digs deeper and deeper into what familial and chemical circumstances make Gretchen and Jimmy, in fact, the worst. And what Aya has done with already keen and incisive material is to give an alarmingly accurate crash course on clinical depression. Jimmy can talk himself out of feeling most things, so it’s scary for him and for us when the normally verbose Gretchen goes nearly comatose. She wants nothing, asks for nothing, finds comfort in nothing. For the novelist, cause and effect are always talking to each other. Aya shows Gretchen paralyzed by the fear of telling Jimmy that there’s not switch to flick when it comes to her illness. She worries that he loves her because she’s irreverent and fun, but she can only be those things when she’s capable of feeling anything. In a brave and desperate moment of confession, she finally tells him: “So the only thing I need from you is to not make a big deal of it and be OK with how I am and the fact that you can’t fix me.”

This is You’re the Worst, and it’s not the kind of show that will present a newly determined Gretchen facing her illness with gumption and putting one foot in front of the other until she’s better. Mental illness and its treatment are not linear. In season 3, she backslides and claws and insults her therapist for wearing the same pair of jeans every day. But that’s Gretch and that’s depression. Even badass bitches can have it. –Sage

6) Minnie Driver – Speechless

Speechless is my favorite new comedy of the season and that’s largely in part to Minnie Driver’s FIERCE performance as ultimate tiger mama Maya DiMeo. The overbearing mom is a sitcom trope that could easily go the clichéd route but Minnie plays Maya like she’s in on the joke. She KNOWS she’s ridiculous but she also makes no apologies for it. (Also, she’s advocating for her disabled kid, so how ridiculous is she, REALLY?) It’s such a WRY performance, especially in the way Minnie delivers so many of her lines completely deadpan, her posh British accent just ACCENTUATING the dry delivery. While I never watched About a Boy, I heard nothing but good things about Minnie’s performance on it, so I am so happy to see that she’s found herself another television vehicle to showcase how talented she is. (Look, I can make a very strong case for the fact that she should have won the Oscar for Good Will Hunting. Ask me about it over cocktails.)

So often on television, unabashedly alpha females are portrayed as ball busters or stone cold bitches. Speechless takes a different approach. Maya IS a ball buster and she is often a bitch but it’s clear that those closest to her adore and cherish that part of her personality. Her husband Jimmy (a DELIGHTFUL John Ross Bowie) is more than happy to let Maya wear the pants in the marriage, but not from a slacker “oh look at the old ball and chain” point of view. It’s clear that Jimmy loves and respects his wife immensely and takes pleasure in watching her run the show. (And he’s always there to pick up the pieces when she comes in like a wrecking ball, shrugging his shoulders in a “Yeah, isn’t she great?” kind of way.) While her kids often roll their eyes at Maya, it’s obvious that there is no one they would rather have in their corner than their mother. Same. TV needs more characters like Maya DiMeo and it needs more actresses like Minnie Driver to bring them to life in an honest and relatable way.  — Kim

7) Kate McKinnon – Ghostbusters

Dudes, I love you. But it is IMPOSSIBLE to explain to you how much Ghostbusters means to us. When you tell me it’s “OKAY” or “good but not great,” you’re just proving how little you understand our intense craving for movies like these. We were DEHYDRATED over here, okay? But we didn’t know how thirsty we truly were until we saw Kate McKinnon as Jillian Holtzmann.

We got Holtzmanned, baby. And we loved it. Forever an SNL MVP, Kate imbued the gadget-loving scientist with a resplendent weirdness that made the whole movie sing. She instantly became an icon for girls who geek and – explicit though it wasn’t allowed to be – girls who would absolutely hit on Kristen Wiig if she ever wandered into their basement lab. The women in this movie were never sexualized, yet somehow, everyone I know walked out of that theater with a massive crush on Jillian and her collection of safety goggles. I’m so distracted by the gif below, it’s taken me 40 minutes to write this paragraph.

Which brings me back to why this is so important. Not since Ellen Ripley can I remember a female character kicking paranormal ass like Kate does in that sublime slow motion fight scene without being stuffed into cut-offs or a catsuit. Holtzmann is not a token hero, like so many in the “There’s One Girl!” teams that have been shoved down our throats. She’s a brilliant, bizarre, queer, ghostbusting scientist who’s biggest takeaway from this whole world-saving thing is that she’s finally found her tribe.

There should be a sequel. Kate McKinnon should be a movie star. Safety lights are for dudes who say this movie could have been better. –Sage

8) The Women of Penny Dreadful

RIP Penny Dreadful and some of the best female characters to grace our television screens in years. I’ll never understand why awards didn’t rain down upon Eva Green, Billie Piper, and Patti LuPone (whose role is the definition of a Guest Acting Emmy). But WE know the truth and we will never stop preaching the gospel of Vanessa Ives. Years from now, television historians will look back on Eva Green in Penny Dreadful and laud her bravery and her boldness. Her performance exhausts me, honestly. I don’t know how she did it. It was completely free of vanity. She wouldn’t just go to the ugly places, she would marinate in them and let them soak into her soul. Watching her every week was a masterclass in character development and determination and any episode that was Vanessa-less was weaker for it.

It was such a brilliant move to bring back Patti LuPone back for season three as Vanessa’s shrink, Dr. Seward. She had an incredibly memorable role in Season 2 as Joan Clayton, a witch who helped shape Vanessa’s life and cemented her identity as the Scorpion. I love how the two roles were completely different but yet the underlying thread of overwhelming compassion for Vanessa Ives tied the characters together. Patti brings SUCH gravity to all of her roles and really she’s the only woman who could go toe to toe with Eva Green and WIN. My biggest regret about the fact that we won’t be getting a season 4 is that we won’t get more of Seward the Vampire Slayer. NEVER FORGET how Seward casually admitted that she killed her abusive husband with a meat cleaver. Where’s my spinoff John Logan?

And then there’s Billie Piper, Queen of Our Hearts and the 2016 Feelie Winner for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama. There’s not much to say about Billie’s furious portrayal of Lily Frankenstein that we haven’t said before, so I’m just going to quote creator John Logan here. “It’s a very feminist show, and the idea that the audience gets to see, in our three years, Lily as a degraded figure who’s abused by men, as Brona, literally being reborn into a blank slate and then achieving incredible power but always having a great human connection. That was a case where I was also inspired by the actor, because Billie Piper so delights me, and I found that in the second season I was able to write her an eight-minute monologue that she absolutely delivered, completely, in a way that I found thrilling. I just wanted to do it again, because she’s an actor who understands theatricality and understands larger than life language in a very unique way, and that’s part of what this show is about.”

Quite right too.  — Kim

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The Top 20 Television Moments of 2016 – Part Two

Posted by Kim and Sage

2016 is almost over (THANK GOD), and our year-end coverage continues! Earlier this week, we dropped the first half of our Top 20 Television Moments, featuring amazing performances and jaw-dropping surprises from Bones, Outlander, The X-Files, and more. Today we’re bringing you the second half of that list. So without further ado, here are ten more moments that prove we’re nothing as a society without the art we make and the emotions we share on TV. –Sage

1. Kelly and Yorkie drive off into the sunset  – Black Mirror

Source: killbill.tumblr.com

I never know quite what to expect when I start an episode of the techno nightmare anthology Black Mirror, aside from one of its bleak and nihilistic conclusions. So imagine my surprise when the show served up a genuine love story between two radiant women in the exquisite “San Junipero.” The chemistry between Mackenzie Davis’s reserved Yorkie and Gugu Mbatha Raw’s vivacious Kelly grounds the sci-fi plot, which I won’t spoil completely here. And the ’80s are usually remembered as a tragic era for style, but the heavenly recreation the girls visit makes it look like a flawless Westworld for anyone who just wants to dance to the Bangles and have a run at their Pac-Man high score for the rest of eternity.

The pull between the women is palpable, but the circumstances threatening to keep apart aren’t easily overcome. In very anti-Black Mirror fashion (and very anti-lesbians-on-TV fashion), “San Junipero” dares to give its characters a happy ending. An EARNED happy ending, achieved through communication and self-searching. It’s a beautiful, self-contained film that will challenge the rest of the series’ thesis that the more automated we become, the farther we stray from our humanity. Kelly and Yorkie are more themselves in this matrix than they have the ability to be in their physical world. And when they are themselves, they choose to be together. Heaven is truly a place on Earth. –Sage

Source: prettylittlegreene.tumblr.com

2) Beyonce SLAYS the VMAs

Honestly, after Bey’s 13-and-a-half-minute medley from her masterpiece of rage and empowerment, Lemonade, what point is there in having the Video Music Awards EVER again? Nothing will ever beat this. Ever. Quoth Sage, “I’m terrified of her and I LOVE IT.” — Kim

3) “I’m the one on the mound right now. Me.” – Pitch

source: conzyricamora.tumblr.com

I’m invested in the lives of the Pearsons and I’m so impressed with what Speechless is doing in its first season. But overall, my very favorite freshmen series of the 2016-2017 season is Pitch: Fox’s sports drama about a fictional first female Major Leaguer. Feminism, the business of sports, the burden of celebrity, and the pressure of the game all get equal billing on Pitch. The cast is led by the poised Kylie Bunbury as phenom pitcher Ginny Baker and (swoon swoon swoon) a BEARDED Mark Paul Gosselaar as the Padres’ reliable but perhaps past-his-prime catcher, Mike Lawson. Mike and Ginny’s relationship is the beating heart of the show. He’s the first teammate to admit he’s “blown away” by her courage; she becomes the person whose voice he wants to hear when he’s pondering his own mortality in the middle of the night. This ship demands to be shipped, but we’re in for the tortuously slow burn. Because Ginny and Mike are teammates.

We could have gone with the close call from the penultimate episode of the season – that charged embrace when Mike and Ginny’s lips TOTALLY BRUSHED before he got a call telling him his trade was off. But though the sexual tension is very good stuff, ultimately, the show is about a young woman blazing a trail and dealing with all the bullshit that comes with it. In the finale, Ginny is on the mound and on the verge of blowing her no-hitter. She and Mike have been weird around each other, because they are both very aware that they almost crossed the point of no return. She’s being romanced by a Zuckerberg-esque tech billionaire who plays acoustic open mics and wants to kidnap her away on some stupidly impulsive honeymoon. Her brother is conning her out of her money; she fired her agent for being too involved in her personal business; and the ghost of her demanding father still hangs over her success. So when Mike strides into her space to talk her down, Ginny takes the opportunity to remind him whose ass is really on the line right now.

Mike: Okay, Baker, you want to talk? Let’s talk. You were right. It was completely awkward the other night. I mean, not in comparison to how awkward it’s been since then. Now we’re bordering on middle school dance territory. It doesn’t really matter because…
Ginny: Shut up. Stop trying to distract me from the fact that I’m throwing a no…
Mike: Don’t say it. That’s not what I’m doing.
Ginny: Yes, it is. You think I got rattled, so you’re coming out here on your white horse to give me one of your great movie speeches. I don’t need a speech from you today. I don’t need a speech from you or my father or my brother or my agent. And I don’t need some billionaire taking me all over the world, as if I’ve got nothing else to do. He can come watch me train in Arizona if he wants to. I don’t need a man to rescue me. I’m the one on the mound right now. Me. I throw the ball, I give the speeches, and I decide if you and I are gonna talk about what happened the other night, not you. And I’ve decided we’re not, by the way, because we’re teammates. And as long as we’re teammates, that’s how it’s gonna be. So, go back to home plate, put down the sign. And let me finish my no-hitter. That’s right, I said it. I’m throwing a no-hitter. And if you don’t mind, I’d like to keep doing it.
Mike: Fine by me.
Ginny: Good.

There’d be no drama in Pitch if the Padres were unbeatable or if Ginny were a beast from the moment she arrives. She’s shaken by the stress. The team is firmly in the middle of the pack. And this moment stands out because it caps the arc Ginny has been on for the whole first season. She’s figuring out who she is, in the middle of that field, with the spotlight right on her. And she’s accepting that responsibility with everything that she has because it is HERS. (And we love Mike still, because he TRUSTS her with that. No one knows better than him that she can handle herself.) I need Fox to renew Pitch for many reasons, including the promise of a much more self-assured Ginny recommitting to what she came here to do. So, Fox: What else you got? –Sage

source: conzyricamora.tumblr.com

4) “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” – Grease Live

Fox decided to get into the TV musical game in 2016 with the pre-taped Rocky Horror Picture Show and Grease: Live! While RHPS sadly fell flat (why was it so bright and shiny?????), other than a couple of exceptions, Grease was a smashing success that captured all of the fun of both the movie and the stage musical. (Note to NBC, after watching how you tried to copy Grease‘s style with Hairspray, you should PROBABLY start with hiring Tommy Kail.) The morning of the show, Grease took on a whole new meaning when news broke that Vanessa Hudgens, who was playing Rizzo, had lost her father to cancer the night before. Suddenly, the production became the true embodiment of the core principle of performing: “The show must go on.” All eyes would be on Vanessa as she took on the most challenging and vulnerable role of her career in the face of unspeakable tragedy. Would she rise up and prove her mettle?

Of course she would because Vanessa Hudgens is a goddamn PRO. Vanessa sang and danced her heart out that night, showing wonderful comic timing with “Look at Me, I’m Sandra Dee,” and showcasing mad dance skills at the Rydell School Dance. She had Rizzo’s sass and attitude down pat and she LOOKED amazing in those pencil skirts and in that Rizzo wig. Vanessa’s shining moment came with her 11 o’clock number, “There are Worse Things I Could Do”. Girlfriend just planted her feet and belted the shit out of it. It’s the first number where Rizzo lets her tough facade fall by the wayside and shows the audience that she’s just as emotionally vulnerable as Sandy. For Vanessa, it was truly the first time she could stop on that soundstage and just BE. It was a beautiful thing to watch because her emotions were so real and genuine and you could SEE the pain in her eyes…but you also never saw it overtake her. She channeled it into her performance and used her grief to show the audience her character’s brokenness and vulnerability. It was the kind of NO FEAR moment that not only showed her strength as an actress but her strength as a PERSON. The whole production was dedicated to her dad’s memory and I KNOW his daughter made him so so so proud.  — Kim

source for both gifs: forcewakens.tumblr.com

5) The Spy’s Goodbye – Agents of SHIELD

Can you believe they wasted this beautiful moment AND Bobbie and Hunter’s entire characters on a spin-off that never made it to a pilot? I have a suspicion that this Ghostrider storyline wouldn’t be quite as dull if they were still on the team. –Sage

source: just-me-and-the-tv.tumblr.com

6) Laurie and Val’s Freestyle – Dancing With The Stars

Listen, Laurie Hernandez won Dancing with the Stars as soon as she signed on the dotted line. She was the breakout star of the Final Five (because everyone was already hyped about Simone Biles and Aly Raisman) with her giant emoji eyes and expressive face. Olympic Gymnasts have ALWAYS done well on the show. And getting Russian Teddy Bear Valentin Chmerkovskiy as a partner? Yeah. Laurie was assured a berth in the finals before the dancing even began.

Even though she was a ringer, there was something delightfully unexpected about Laurie and Val’s partnership. Val is normally paired with the hot twenty-something (all the more to fuel those vote-getting showmance rumors) and is ALWAYS super sexy, so I wondered how he would adjust to being paired with a 16-year-old. Laurie’s enthusiasm and spirit was INFECTIOUS and it brought out such a lovely and carefree side of Val (one that was clearly evidenced by all the time he just let his curls run wild rather than slicking them down). It was clear that he adored her and cherished the responsibility of being the one who took Laurie on the journey of the DWTS experience. Even though I was definitely Team James and Sharna (ONE DAY MY GINGER QUEEN), I couldn’t help be caught up in Laurie and Val. Their partnership culminated with a joyous freestyle to “Brand New” that had me in tears by the end because everyone was JUST SO HAPPY. The whole playground set-up could have easily gone too saccharine but there was just something about Laurie in that bright yellow dress, with Val at her side looking at her like she was the best person in the world, the two of them dancing with pure abandon that it just WORKED. It’s the perfect mix of a great dancer and a partner that knows how to choreograph to their strengths. Like I said…I can’t even be mad they beat my favorites. HOW COULD YOU BE? — Kim

7) Elliot confronts Tyrell – Mr. Robot

“Okay, but where’s Tyrell?” – the fandom, after every season 2 episode of Mr. Robot.

Elliot’s partner in Five/Nine chaos finally resurfaced in the next to last episode of the season. Martin Wallstrom spent a lot of time in the dugout after scaring the hell out of all of us with his ambition in season 1. The warehouse denouement of eps2.9_pyth0n-pt2 made up for that absence completely. Tyrell is very much alive, despite what Mr. Robot has been telling Elliot. And he’s chomping at the bit to start the next phase of their anarchic master plan.

Unfortunately for the Elliot side of his personality, the phase his darker self concocted with Tyrell is the destruction of an Evil Corp facility housing the paper records it will use to slowly rebuild its empire. Elliot stands between Tyrell/Mr. Robot and the mass murder of everyone working in that building. It’s a standoff that could very well have been happening all inside of Elliot’s head; I wondered at times if Tyrell were a second Tyler Durden for our hacker hero. But Tyrell proves himself to be very much his own person when he shoots Elliot: his hero, his god. And he does it on Elliot’s own orders. This was Mr. Robot’s long game: giving Tyrell a gun and express permission to sacrifice Elliot for the cause. “You know, when you gave me this, you said to stop anyone who gets in the way of our plan. I didn’t know what you meant, but now it’s very clear,” Tyrell says. “You did this to yourself, Elliot.” If you didn’t get chills, you better check your pulse. –Sage

gifs via mrrobotsource.tumblr.com

8) Kelly Clarkson sings “Piece by Piece” – American Idol

American Idol was finally sent to that great television set in the sky this spring. It was none too soon, in my humble opinion. The show’s glory days were far behind it; it hadn’t produced a major recording star since Philip Phillips (and that’s pushing it with that definition) and much of the audience had migrated to the newer and shinier The Voice. (Though The Voice has yet to produce a LEGIT recording star EVER, which is a whole other discussion to have regarding the flaws of reality singing competitions.) The contestants on the final season of Idol were equally forgettable…but for me, that was not what the final season was about. The final season was about seeing what the show had given us over the span of 15 seasons. Idol was VERY good in its last victory lap in regards to bringing back its past winners and other memorable contestants to remind everyone just exactly what kind of legacy the show is leaving behind.

The highlight of the season came when the original Idol, Queen Kelly Clarkson, stopped by to show all those kids just how it’s done. And at eight and a half months pregnant, no less. Let it never be said that we don’t have double standards here at Head Over Feels because earlier in this post I praised Vanessa Hudgens for not letting her emotions overwhelm her and here I am praising Kelly Clarkson for doing that very thing. Different circumstances, different standards, I say. It was a perfect storm of human emotion for Kelly. She was back on the stage that started her career, singing a song about the father her abandoned her until she had made something of herself (ON THAT STAGE). “Piece by Piece” is ALSO a promise to her child that she’s literally about to give birth to at any minute (seriously, one power chorus could have triggered labor) that she will never be that kind of parent to her. It’s like a lot of shit suddenly got real for Kelly Clarkson in those three minutes and she let it happen and STILL sang the shit out of her song. It’s a LOT. We are ALL Keith Urban watching that performance. — Kim

9)  Seeing the world through Edgar’s eyes – You’re the Worst

Source: lindsayjillian.tumblr.com
Edgar is the gentlest, most generous character on the FX celebration of bad behavior, You’re The Worst. And he’s the least deserving of the grotesque reality that accompanies his PTSD. Desmin Borges is a bright light in every episode of the show, but in “Twenty-Two,” he’s a goddamn revelation. In an accusatory and cutting bit of cleverness, You’re The Worst rewinds the previous episode “Men Get Strong” in the style of Angelica Schuyler and shows us the events through the lens of Edgar’s relentless mental illness. His sunny manner has always seemed contradictory to the trauma he endured in war; but this episode shows how deliberate his choices are. Edgar is hounded by paranoia. His world is three shades darker than his roommates’. And though he tries to access help and healing through all available channels, he finds that he is alone. “Twenty-Two” is an indictment of this country’s treatment of veterans and of the stigma and misunderstanding of mental illness. It’s a tour-de-force performance. And in its entirety, it’s one of our top 20 television moments of the past year. –Sage

Source: lorelailukes.tumblr.com
10) The Cubs win the World Series

As a ride or die Atlanta Braves fan whose season was basically over in June, my only investment in baseball going into late October was whether or not the San Diego Padres would make the World Series on Pitch. However, once it became the Chicago Cubs versus the Cleveland Indians for the championship, I suddenly had a horse in the race, and that horse was HISTORY. Listen, I couldn’t tell you a single name of a current player on the Chicago Cubs (or the Indians for that matter) but all I knew is that the Cubs HAD to win. They had gotten SO CLOSE in 2015, the year that Back to the Future II had predicted that they would win the series, only to fall short in the National League Championship. They hadn’t won the World Series in 108 years. It was TIME.

I basically wrote the series off once the Cubs went down three games to one, including losing two of those games at home in Wrigley. Teams had only come back from that deficit 5 times, it was a near impossible task, especially when they didn’t have home field advantage. But the Cubbies never gave up and they forced a Game 7. The CMAs were the same night, so I was watching those and following the game on Twitter, updating Sage (as if she cared) the entire time. They took a 6 to 3 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning, by which time the CMAs were DONE and I had switched over to the game broadcast, fully remembering why I love baseball so much in the first place. I’m just gonna quote Field of Dreams, okay? “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again.”  That’s SO REAL, okay? It’s why I moaned in agony when the Indians tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. It didn’t MATTER that I had no personal investment in either of these teams, I was just watching a game for the history books.

What I loved so much about Game 7 is it seemed to unite EVERYONE. My entire facebook feed was cluttered with people commenting on the game and stressing out when the game went into a RAIN DELAY after the bottom of the ninth inning. (Seriously, it was a perfect storm of a game.) It felt like the entire world other than Indians fans were WILLING the Cubs to make this happen. I knew that the rain delay would either break the already tired Cubs pitching staff, who had already employed their closer, or it would energize them. The Cubs played their half of the tenth with renewed vigor and scored two runs, which led to me screaming at the top of my lungs in my little apartment circa midnight. (SORRY NEIGHBORS.) I think I held my breath the entirety of the bottom of the tenth, especially when the Indians answered back with a run of their own. Finally, Finally, FINALLY we got down to two outs and there was a grounder to the third baseman and the 108 year curse was over. Cue all the man emotion and me crying tears of joy. This game. THIS GAME.

It should be noted that the final season of Parks and Recreation took place in 2017. When Tom and Andy made their trip to Chicago to see Lucy in the spring of 2017, they commented that she was super happy that the Cubs had finally won the Series. Which means that the Cubs had won the series in 2016. Which means we either live in a world where Leslie Knope is a REAL person who will save us circa 2020 or Mike Schur is an evil wizard who knows the future. Either option is fine with me.  — Kim

Did we leave out YOUR favorite moment of 2016? Let us know in the comments.

The Top 20 Television Moments of 2016 – Part One

Posted by Kim and Sage

WE DID IT YOU GUYS. The end of 2016 is nigh. Everyone take a deep sigh of relief.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that 2016 was a dumpster fire of a year. It was brutal with the celebrity deaths and it felt like the world was on the verge of imploding every time you turned on the news. I can’t help but think of Samwise Gamgee at the end of The Two Towers when I think of 2016. “How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you.” These end of year posts are the stories that have stayed with us. We hope you enjoy the memories as much as we do. –Kim

1) Michael Phelps swims the 200 Butterfly – The Rio Olympics

Michael Phelps did not come to the Rio Olympics to play. After being disappointed with his performance in the London Olympics (you know, a measly six medals, four of them gold), Michael returned to the pool as a man on a mission. The most important part of that mission? Getting back the gold medal in the 200 meter butterfly that South Africa’s Chad le Clos had taken from him. As fate would have it, Phelps and le Clos were in the same semifinal, swimming right next to each other. It’s the perfect sports story, really. The undisputed King of the Pool and the younger and cockier rival who had lorded his victory over Phelps for four years. Who would triumph? Here’s why I love the Olympics so fucking much: the completely pure and unstaged moments of human emotion. As cameramen in the holding room focused on the two rivals they caught le Clos showboating and shadowboxing in front of Phelps. And there sat Michael, his hood up over his head and his trademark headphones on making a FACE OF DEATH. Seriously…laser beams were about to shoot out of his eyes. Thus, the greatest meme of 2016, #PhelpsFace, was born. (It’s also the default facial expression to describe the year.)

Was le Clos trying to psych Phelps out? Was Michael truly just in the zone, as he later claimed, or was he making the face at the obvious showboating? We’ll never know, really. What we DO know are the results in the pool. Phelps and le Clos qualified 2nd and 3rd in that semi, which set up an exciting final that was packed with contenders for the Gold. There was something about Michael’s swimming and attitude in Rio though. While he never looked MISERABLE in previous Olympics, it was clear that Michael had always been focused on winning and shattering records alone. In Rio, he seemed to have rediscovered the JOY of swimming and it showed in his interviews and his emotions on the podium. Michael shaved off nearly 8/10ths of a second off his semifinal time to take back his precious Gold Medal and his jubilation was reminiscent of a certain end zone dance by Rod Tidwell. One might say that Michael Phelps found the Kwan in Rio and we all got to see it. — Kim

2) The #HamilTonys

Look, Hamilton was going to come into the Tonys like a wrecking ball. Everyone knew it. Hence the joke in the opening (Hamilton-themed) number: Leslie Odom Jr., Daveed Diggs, Anthony Ramos, and Okieriete Onaodowan advancing on a Tony-toting James Corden, who stops them by singing, “Just you wait, just you wait…”

The Best Musical award was a foregone conclusion. (In any other year, Waitress. Any other year.) Score and Book were too. The tightest races in a couple of the acting categories were actually BETWEEN Hamilton castmates. And though no choice would have been the wrong one, the Tonys – in our opinion – played it just right. For once, Alexander Hamilton didn’t spoil an Aaron Burr victory; Leslie accepted the Leading Actor Tony he deserved. There was no controversy, since Lin went home with a wheelbarrow of other awards. Broadway veterans Christopher Jackson and Jonathan Groff looked on proudly as newcomer Daveed Diggs was handed the Featured Actor Tony. It’s safe to say that being in Hamilton would change anyone’s life, but of those three, it changed Daveed the most. And come on, the guy plays one character per act, spits RECORD-BREAKING fire, and delivers the best asides in the show. (Whaaaaaaat?) Renee Elise Goldsberry cried as she gave her Featured Actress acceptance speech. And if it hadn’t been for the unstoppable Cynthia Erivo, Phillipa Soo would have been on that stage too.

All told, Hamilton took home 11 Tonys, falling just short of the The Producers‘ record. But that wasn’t the whole story. Hamilton in its very existence is a statement. In the same awards cycle when #OscarsSoWhite trended worldwide, Hamilton contributed to the Tonys’ incredible diversity achievement of all four musical acting awards going to non-white performers. The show made this the hippest Tonys (is that a thing??) in recent memory. The 2016 telecast was the highest rated in the last 15 years. And those new viewers were tuning in SPECIFICALLY to see Hamilton – a piece of art that’s reinvigorated and redrawn the medium by prioritizing inclusion, truth, and a ridiculous amount of work.

A dark shadow was cast on the Tonys. Early that same morning, the Pulse massacre occurred in Florida. The telecast was dedicated to the victims and their families. One of Lin’s speeches was a quickly composed sonnet honoring them too. And Hamilton‘s producers made a decision to alter their performance. There were no muskets in “Yorktown.” The actors and the ensemble mimed their presence. And that image – two dozen people in Colonial garb pointing invisible guns into the audience – will stay with me for a long time.  –Sage

3) The Origin of The Big Three – This Is Us



source: thisisusedits.tumblr.com
I was fully on board with This Is Us from that first trailer that featured guaranteed tearjerker “I Won’t Give Up” as the soundtrack (and because it had Mandy Moore). But I was also completely aware that a great trailer by no means makes a great show and that This Is Us could easily be saccharine overdose. I was lucky to get to see an early screening of the This Is Us at the Paley Center a couple of weeks before it premiered. I was immediately taken in by the sharp and funny dialogue and the tightly drawn characters. (Sterling K. Brown gets Randall from the GET GO, guys.) I was so drawn in by the four principle stories of the pilot that I forgot to look for the twist of how they were all tied together (SILLY ME). I ignored niggling questions like why in the hell with triplets did Mandy Moore’s Rebecca NOT have a c-section scheduled? I missed the hints of Randall saying that he was abandoned at a fire station and adopted by a wonderful couple. I COMPLETELY missed it…and so did most of the people in the Paley screening room.

A collective GASP swept through the room when Milo Ventimiglia’s Jack, mourning the loss of one of his triplets, stood at the nursery window smiling at his two babies and started talking to the fireman standing next to him, who pointed out the baby who had been abandoned at his fire station. “OH MY GOD,” I quietly (or not so quietly) exclaimed, as the camera panned back to reveal people in period clothing wandering the halls of the hospital. “THEY ARE A FAMILY.” It was in that moment that we KNEW that This Is Us was going to be a special kind of show: unabashedly sentimental, expertly acted, and one that would take us along on the journey.  — Kim

4) The Blood Threesome – Penny Dreadful

Rest in peace, Penny Dreadful. You crazy bitch.

Showtime’s literary horror masterpiece pulled out all the stops for what we didn’t know would be its final season. We didn’t get this gory orgy not in the finale, oh no. This was episode THREE.

I have some issues with the way it was resolved. But overall, I am all about Penny Dreadful turning the horror of being a woman of no consequence in Victorian London around on the godless men who exploit them. It facilitated some jaw-dropping Billie Piper monologues, that’s for sure. It also facilitated this consummation: Lily, her benefactor Dorian, and their bloodthirsty protege Justine celebrate Justine’s first kill by indulging in the most indulgent act possible. Lily and Justine are celebrating being masters of their own bodies for once. And Dorian? Well, Dorian’s just a hedonist.

The camerawork, the candles, the score: it’s all so over-the-top and UBER-DRAMATIC and not really that necessary for the plot. I love TV that will throw over subtlety when necessary, and go to these places just because it’s FUN. –Sage

5) Murtagh gets his vengeance – Outlander

When I look back at Season Two of Outlander, I can sum it up with a singular text I got from Sage whilst she watched episode 11, “Vengeance is Mine”: “THIS SHOW IS SAVAGE.” Season Two was a LOT, from all the shenanigans in Paris to the emotional wallop that was the entire episode of “Faith” to Jamie stabbing BlackJack Randall IN THE DICK to a pregnant Claire being sent back through the stones. The entire season was a masterclass in pacing and storytelling because we KNEW the ending in the opening moments of the season premiere, yet the show managed to keep us on our toes and have us HOPING that said ending would not come to pass. But sadly, I can’t single out the entire season for this post. Thus I settled on the moment that prompted Sage’s text message: Murtagh’s savage beheading of the Duke of Sandringham. Because as a book virgin, I did NOT see that one coming.

Let’s face it: Murtagh is the unsung hero of the series. He faithfully stands by Jamie and Claire’s side in France, even though every expression on his face says “I MISS SCOTLAND”. His only reaction when Jamie FINALLY told him the truth about Claire was to punch him in the face for not trusting him with this information sooner. He pulled a “I’m with you till the end of the line” with Jamie at The Battle of Culloden when Jamie tried to send him away. (SIDE NOTE: MURTAGH BETTER BE ALIVE IN SEASON THREE BITCHES.) Murtagh is good people. So it was devastated to see him wracked by guilt over not being able to protect Claire and Mary when they were attacked (and Mary was brutally raped) on the streets of Paris. HE WAS UNCONSCIOUS WHAT COULD HE HAVE DONE? Nevertheless, his promise to avenge Claire and Mary was one he took to heart. The last minutes of “Vengeance is Mine” were absolutely thrilling, from Red Jamie storming in ready to kick some ass to Mary grabbing the knife and stabbing her attacker once Sandringham’s complicit involvement in the attack came to light. But it was all capped off by Murtagh grabbing a fucking AXE and taking a swing at the Duke. Off came his head and he grabbed it and placed it at Claire and Mary’s feet as they looked on in shock. “I lay my vengeance at your feet,” he said, kneeling before them. That’s Murtagh for you. Taking things literally. — Kim

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“We could get a Peabody for this.” – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap – Who’s the Cool Girl Josh Is Dating?

Source: talesofnorth

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Episode 7
“Who’s the Cool Girl Josh Is Dating?”
Posted by Sage

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a pink-frosted cupcake of a show with a streak of dark ganache running through it. And the midseason finale didn’t send all of its characters into the show’s short holiday break in the best place. It did, however, wrap up the first half of its second season with a showstopper of a closing number. CXG will give you deadass sadness, but it’ll entertain the hell out of you while it does. So, in the words of Ron Weasley: “You’re gonna suffer, but you’re gonna be happy about it.”

The first seven episodes of this season ran through plot like it was Alexander Hamilton with his morbid commitment to productivity. Rebecca/Greg and Rebecca/Josh were dealt with quickly. Rebecca lost her house and got a new one. She picked up Heather as a for-real friend and Valencia soon after. But if you came to this episode looking for some closure between Paula and Rebecca, you were definitely disappointed. Their friendship is too big to be patched with a Band-Aid, and the show is going to ride this rift out until there’s no reasons left to keep them apart.

If Paula were just her enabler, Rebecca wouldn’t be missing her so much. Not when she’s finally seduced Valencia into the wide world of stalking. Those two are the sneaky Petes in this episode. And this time, they’ve both got skin in the game. Brittany Snow is back as Anna Hicks (“That’s the romantic lead in an Adam Sandler movie.”), the festival fairy princess Josh met at Electric Mesa. Rebecca and V find out that she’s exist via Josh’s Instagram, which they both claim to be through with checking.

Source: crazyexedits
 

Anna is a full-blown nightmare for both of them. She looks like she floats through life on a cloud of Tocca perfume, effortlessly lovely and pure-looking. She drinks ludicrously fancy coffee topped with Frida Kahlo latte art, but she’s so unaware of her own pretentiousness that her pretentiousness is negated. The celebrity eyebrow stylist also claims to be an ancillary member of Taylor Swift’s squad, so it’s fitting that Anna’s song is very 1989. She sings it over a clever slideshow of her own Instagram photos, which reminded me of a recent interview with Rachel Bloom that touched on how the show saves money by redressing existing sets for its music videos.

Source: bunchofbloom
 

“Research Me, Obsessively” is happening in Rebecca’s head, of course. All that stuff about requesting access through dummy accounts, tracking homes through Google Street View, and wasting hours while doing so comes straight from her twisted mind. Rebecca pulls back – just for a second – but with Valencia sitting next to her and nodding her head emphatically, the outcome is predetermined. Heather comes back to the house later to tell her friends they’ve spent days compulsively seeking out information about their ex’s new girlfriend. But over that time, they’ve convinced themselves that Josh is being held by this person as some sort of sex slave. Good people that they are, they have a DUTY to find out what Josh has gotten himself into. A duty that CERTAINLY has nothing to do with the fact that they both get all dreamy when they talk about him for too long. (“Well, you guys just did like a whole loop-de-loop there.”)

Source: bunchofbloom
 

Anna’s Swiftian influences extend to her relationship with her cat, Gravy. And Josh’s first gift to Anna is a sweet one. He gives her a bedazzled collar for Prince Gravy and is visibly still in awe that a girl like this wants to spend time with him – a electronics store employee who’s never heard of single-source coffee. Anyway, Gravy has a spot of honor at Anna’s salon, from which he can survey the whole bougie block. He sneaks out while Anna is on a mysterious phone call about sourcing product from Mexico and Valencia and Rebecca are casting her in the Scarface remake. (“Can’t pay gentrified commercial rents by plucking forehead hairs.”) Neither wants to accept that Josh is moving on with a perfectly nice woman. No: those little bags of powder she’s handing out must contain cocaine, and Anna’s salon must be a front for her “stone-cold narco” drug-running business. Impressed by her anyway (“Her eyebrows are staggering, of course.”), the girls get in Rebecca’s car to go warn their innocent lunk of an ex about Anna.

Source: bunchofbloom
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Everything We Need To Know In Life, We Learned From Jerry Maguire

Posted by Kim and Sage

Jerry Maguire turned TWENTY last week. (News Flash: We’re old.) Jerry will forever remind me of a simpler time. A time when we had no idea JUST how crazy Tom Cruise was. A time where articles weren’t written about what Renee Zellweger did or didn’t do to her face. A time where Cameron Crowe didn’t write casually racist movies like Aloha. And a time where a joyfully comic performance like Cuba Gooding Jr.’s could be given the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. 1996, amirite?

When I was in college, I think I went through at least 5 copies of Jerry Maguire on VHS. (VHS YOU GUYS.) Why? Because people kept borrowing it from me and never bringing it back. Rather than hunt down the lost copy, I would simply buy a new one, hoping that the borrower got as much joy out of Jerry that it gave me. Twenty years later, my DVD lending system may be much more stringent, but my love of Jerry Maguire hasn’t lessened. I’ll always have a soft spot for the movie. I will forever love and quote the script. The performances remain among my favorites of the cast’s careers. It’s such a PERFECT little time capsule of the late 90s, yet it’s JUST as relevant in 2016. That’s how you know a movie is a treasure. — Kim

At 13, I convinced my parents through effective whining to let me watch Jerry Maguire on video. The only caveat is that they had to fast-forward through Avery and Jerry’s athletic sex scene. I was such a lame kid that I would fast-forward through it even when I watched it alone. But my tragic lack of rebelliousness is neither here nor there.

I’ve loved Jerry Maguire for two decades, though my relationship to it has changed. Every time I watch it, I find something different. And while I’m sure the love story (and a still-dreamy Tom Cruise) were the draw back in 1996, now I’m more into its psychoanalysis of its kind-of pathetic hero. Jerry Maguire is a sports movie. It also qualifies as a CHRISTMAS movie. And damn it, the script holds up. –Sage

Jerry Maguire is packed with life lessons and cautionary tales. On its anniversary, we’re sharing the advice we’ve gleaned from this Cameron Crowe classic.

1) “Breakdown? BreakTHROUGH.”

There’s a very practical reason why the general rule is sleep on an angry email before sending it. That rule extends to manifestos born out of night sweats and pizza that’s turned. Jerry’s epiphany was a long time coming, and it’s great that he located his missing soul. But perhaps he could have been the TEENSIEST bit more thoughtful about the roll-out. (Are 24 Hour copy centers good or bad for our society? DISCUSS.) Don’t get me wrong. I agree with Fake Kinko’s Jesus: “That’s how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there.” Jerry puts his name on his mission statement. He stands behind it. (Well, until Bob Sugar begins the firing process.) But, like, what if he eased in his message and worked to change SMI from within? What if he eventually took it over and gave it the integrity it was lacking? Instead, a typed and bound transcript of his visit from the Ghost Of Super Bowls Past burned every one of Jerry’s bridges.

Just….save the draft. Revisit it later once you’ve cooled down. And don’t, under any circumstances, compare yourself to J.D. Salinger. –Sage

2) Ask if there is a Health Plan first.

First of all, who HASN’T been fired and dreamed of having a Jerry Maguire style meltdown as you gloriously tell the assholes who fired you just where to stick it? When I got fired from my last job, the thought very much crossed my mind before I decided they weren’t WORTH the Jerry. (Plus, I was determined to not let them see me cry, but that is another story.) ANYWAY, if you’re gonna go down, go down in a blaze of glory, I say.

HOWEVER…maybe take a moment to think before you give up your own (boring) job to follow the person who is going down in said blaze of glory. No one wants to go with Jerry, not even the people who worked closest with him for years. Hell, the fish don’t even want to go with him. But in a moment of madness (or inspiration), Dorothy Boyd quits her very comfortable job to follow Jerry out the door. Dorothy talks a LOT in the movie about wanting to be inspired. (How very Millenial of her. Wait. DID CAMERON CROWE MAKE MILLENIALS?) She’s at a dead-end accounting job that does nothing to stimulate her soul.  Dorothy saw passion in Jerry through reading his mission statement and it was a passion that she found herself wanting to follow, even if he had no idea what the fuck he was doing. (I think the moment of kindness he showed her in the airport has a LOT to do with it too.) It’s both an incredibly bold and an incredibly stupid move. Passion and inspiration don’t pay the bills. Nor do they get you (and your son) health insurance. You know what scene I want to see? I want to see the moment Dorothy gets in her car after she asked Jerry about a health plan. Was she relieved she had left her boring job or was she having a “FUCK what did I just do?” moment? Methinks it was probably the latter. — Kim

3) “I’m too strong for you. Loser.”

Jerry Maguire wants us to believe that Avery is a bad person. The older I get, the more I appreciate Avery and the more I am like “Yo, Avery is just trying to live her life and Jerry’s the one getting in the way.” Think about it. She’s in the middle of a very high-pressure day at work when Jerry comes to her whining about losing Cush. He’s all “Comfort me, pay attention to ME, I am the most important” and she’s just trying to get her JOB DONE. And THEN when she’s basically like “I don’t have time to listen to you right now,” he dumps her. No WONDER she loses her shit and decks him. Look, Avery had been nothing but supportive of Jerry. She gave him pep talks NAKED whilst eating strawberries. She was enthusiastic in bed. (Why does he seem so unmoved by “NEVER STOP FUCKING ME”? Shouldn’t he be eating that kind of praise up? GOD.) She’s open about her kinks and willing to explore them WITH him. (Why is he turned off by the hint of bisexuality? Was this a 1996 thing?) Basically, Avery is a boss bitch alpha female and she knows it. “I’m too strong for you. Loser.” And as a woman who is often accused of being “too much,” I can’t help but cheer for that. — Kim

4) “He canNOT be alone.”

“Intimacy” is one of those words that comes up a lot in ’90s movies about bad relationships. And here it is again. Jerry’s bachelor party video is a concise indictment of all his personal foibles. (But when you’re BROS, it’s FUN to throw these flaws into each other faces over cigars, right? RIGHT?) I still cannot believe that Dorothy actually marries him after watching it, so neatly does it sum up exactly why their relationship feels incomplete. Jerry Maguire is one needy motherfucker. And it’s refreshing how naked his need for validation is. But what “good at friendship, bad at intimacy” really means is that Jerry isn’t really prepared to be in an adult relationship, because every relationship he has is first and foremost about him not being alone. And nobody dreams about being the random person chosen to stand between some in-his-feelings guy and the abyss. For most of the movie, Jerry just wants to be with SOMEONE. Dorothy – because she’s a human woman – wants him to want to be with HER.

Ray and Jerry’s relationship develops faster than Dorothy and Jerry’s does, because Ray is a kid. His needs right now are relatively easy to meet. If Jerry hugs him and feeds him ice cream and listens to him and looks at him like he’s the whole world, that’s more than enough. (He’d take him to the fuckin’ zoo, but it’s closed.) Jerry loves Ray easily, because that kid is cute af, but also because there’s nothing about that love that makes him question or change anything about himself. And he’s so god damn scared to let go. –Sage

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“The Devil Went Down to DC; he was lookin’ for a soul to steal” – Supernatural Recap – LOTUS

source: canonspngifs.tumblr.com

Supernatural Season 12, Episode 8
“LOTUS”
Posted by Dawn and Jaymee

Amidst questions of “Too soon?”, SPN writers took a ‘haters gonna hate’ attitude and went right for the jugular with Lucifer’s story arch for the mid-season finale. Social commentary? Political intrigue? Sex, love and threats of nuclear warfare? We’ve got it all, as you will see, since Lucifer has found his vessel, the one and only P.O.T.U.S; President of the United States. GET IT! We did LOTUS, P.O.T.U.S, yeah we see what you did there. (And, TBH, no one was really questioning Lucifer as the Commander in Chief, in fact quite a lot of Twitter thought it would be a vast improvement, but we digress.)

The mid-season finale for S12 was overall very good, Hell, some points were down right amazing, But there were a few issues, which didn’t surprise the fandom because this ep was written by Bucklemming, the two-person writing team of Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming who have consistently made the worst writing decisions ever on this show. If you tell an SPN fan that Bucklemming are writing, we expect errors, things we will hate, and general groans of “That trick never works.” If you are new to the fandom but also someone who has binged like a MoFo in order to be up to date, let us give you a few examples of fucking Bucklemming:

  • The vengeful, racist truck? –> Bucklemming
  • Killing Kevin? –> Bucklemming
  • Killing Charlie OFFSCREEN FFS?? –> Bucklemming
  • Cas getting “honey-trapped” and then killed (and then saved but that’s not the point)? –> Bucklemming
  • That “yeah, I get it; he’s a fan” bullshit from S9E21? –> Bucklemming

We could go on, but we won’t. Except we will, for just this little bit more.

JAY: YO! I fucking hate those guys, Chuck damn it. They took both Charlie and Kevin! Not cool bros; not cool at all. You know what? That’s it, I’m bringing back those chain letter emails that make you forward them to 10 of your friends or else you get bad luck and I’m going to make it my mission to fill their Bucklemming inboxes! Hell, I’ll even send them snail mail. Like when your Grandma finds a cute cat picture and prints it out and mails it to you, BUT WITH BAD LUCK, yeah, that’s me bitches. I’m gonna rain some serious Hoodoo down on these jokers! BRB, I gotta go buy some stamps.

DAWN: It’s like they don’t watch their own show. They are the reason SPN needs to hire a fandom/mythos consultant. They don’t know the mythos, or else they do and they just don’t care because they do what they want. I want to meet them, sit them down, and explain how character arcs work, also with maybe a lecture on the hero’s journey, how mythology works, and how to do their damn job. As a professional writer and editor, they are a personal affront to me, and I want to kick them in the shins. Hard.

JAY: I will lend you my combat boots. They are designed for shin kicking.

We said last week that we got the band back together, but this time we really mean it because yas, queen, Rowena and her flawless eyeshadow joined the party this week. Every single scene with Rowena and Crowley was PERFECTION, and yes, we are shocked to say that given the writers. But credit where credit is due, though we are giving most of the credit to Mark Sheppard–who both Dawn and Jaymee agree is absolute perfection, especially when paired with Ruth Connell. Their chemistry is getting better and better, every time we are blessed with their presence on the screen; in their precious, adorable, dysfunctional way, we squeal with delight.

Crowley’s little self-satisfied smirk at the end. We ship it. Familyship is also a ship, shut up. Source: adoringjensen.tumblr.com

But anyway, back to Lucifer. He took a brief body-hopping tour of the rich and the powerful, including a bishop who makes crosses turn upside down when he walks past them, because it’s not like the devil is supposed to be subtle or anything. Oh and also, Bucklemming, you morons, Catholic bishops don’t wear red. CARDINALS wear red. Get it? Cardinals? Red? Research. It’s a thing.

source: canonspngifs.tumblr.com

DAWN: Seriously, I want to punch them.

JAY: They write scripts like bad FanFictions. No research, no background, just whatever I say goes, goes. WELL NO, that’s not how this works. . .you know what, just whatever.

So Lucifer finally lands where he wants to be — in the body of the President of the United States, who is also a widower and a Catholic. Now, we were not privy to the entire internal convo between President Jeff and Luci, so we have no idea how he talked a Catholic President into giving control to the First of the Fallen. Because that’s not important plot point or anything, right? From what we could gather, they’re going to be partners and better humanity or something like that; it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that anyone devout would just be like, “Sure, Satan, have my meat suit,” but whatever. We found we had to do that a few times this episode. Just “whatever,” and enjoy the ride. So, yeah, Lucifer is president and also he was a virgin. No, seriously. This was a way better plot point, Virgin Lucifer, because why not.

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Yeah. We know.

Oh and because this show doesn’t have ENOUGH Daddy issues, he’s also going to be a father. Of a Nephilim. Great. Again, we know. Angel Radio loses its shit. Castiel almost collapses from the pressure of all the Angels everywhere freaking out all at once; because apparently Lucifer’s Nephilim isn’t just a regular nephilim, no, it’s like a super-powered, seriously dangerous Nephilim.

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So, the plan, according to Dean, is “impeach LOTUS, find Rosemary’s baby.” Excellent summation, Dean. The brothers and Cas head out to intercept Lucifer but they get pulled over by the Secret Service because LOTUS (yes, this is happening) told his men that the boys are cult members, planning to assassinate him. But luckily, the cavalry arrives. No, not Crowley and Rowena. It’s, uh, “Arthur Ketch, British Men of Letters,” who thinks he can boss Castiel around like he is some sort of tool to be kept between the shotguns and the grenade launchers. Again, yeah, we know.

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Ketch is smug bastard and only involved because sneaky Sam called him. Kinda. He called and then hung up, but that was enough for the British Men of Letters to send in reinforcement. Honestly, why Sam felt he had to call the B.M.O.L., we truly don’t know. And as we’ve said in the past, hiding things from your brother always works so well, doesn’t it, Sam? #NOT. Anyway, he did it and it’s done and now Ketch is here. Team Free Will is like, “Uh, no.” More so when the smug bastard calls Cas, “Halo.”

You tell ’em, Cas. source: disneyandthefamilybusiness.tumblr.com

DAWN: Shin kicks for everyone.

JAY: I think Mr. Ketch is growing on me. At least he’s getting Cas to stand up for himself again, and Dean was maybe a little turned on over that grenade launcher. I know I was.

DAWN: He’s a smug douchecanoe and I hope he steps on Legos.

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“Nothing bad happens on Christmas Eve.” – This Is Us Recap – Last Christmas

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This Is Us Season 1, Episode 10
“Last Christmas”
Posted by Shannon

For the first full episode this season, the whole Pearson crew is on the east coast. And it is SO good to have everyone together. But before we can get the whole family under one roof, we get to spend some time focusing in on individual characters and exploring some dynamics that I for one have been itching to learn more about. The mid-season finale is built out of a series of stand-alone two-person scenes, and every single one is a doozy. So let’s take them one by one this week.

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Jack/Rebecca


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Christmas preparations with triplets is no small feat. The tree is absolutely bursting with presents, and while Jack sees that as the fruits of his labor and love for his family, Rebecca’s got the traditional concern that the kids are only seeing the holiday for the sparkly gift wrapping and not as an opportunity for the family to be together. As one would expect for nine-year-olds, she’s not too far off the mark: Kate’s counting presents and Randall is counting Grandma’s Christmas money. At least Kevin, when pressed, assures his mom that he knows what the holiday is really about: Jesus stuff. (I mean, the kid’s not wrong.)

It’s good to see that the Pearsons hadn’t been planning on taking a trip to Grandma and Grandpa’s house after finally establishing their own Thanksgiving traditions, but unfortunately it doesn’t mean they’ve avoided an unexpected change of plans. Kate, complaining about stomach pain, lands in the hospital for appendicitis, and Christmas eve is suddenly relocated to the ER. It’s a pretty standard procedure but the family is understandably freaked out; Rebecca’s initial attempt at comforting Kate falls flat. (“It’s like having a tooth pulled?” The dentist would be an even worse place to spend a holiday, c’mon Rebecca.) Meanwhile, the boys are reacting in a perfect mirror to their adult counterparts. Randall hangs back, thoughtful and quietly worried, while Kevin simply won’t be moved from his sister’s side. He doesn’t go so far as kicking and screaming, but he follows along while she’s wheeled into surgery, far past the point he’s allowed.



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When she slips off to get some snacks from the vending machine, Rebecca hears a familiar voice – Dr. K, holed up in a hospital bed after spinning his car out on some ice. Dr. K was close to retirement when we first met him back in the pilot, and it’s a full nine years later. He’s aged well, but the accident has left him with internal problems and he’s not too confident that he’ll make it out of surgery. Rebecca and Jack hop to immediately. There’s just no way they would allow Dr. K to sit in the hospital alone on Christmas Eve, and the family settles in to keep him company while they wait for Kate to get out of surgery.



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Kevin’s highest priority was and is Kate. As kids, the twins don’t actually get a ton of scenes together, but all we need to know about their childhood is right here. Kevin barely says a word at the hospital; all that matters to him is where his sister is, and when he’s not able to follow her into surgery, he tries to settle on the best possible religious figure to pray to for her safe recovery. He spends most of the evening clutching his side, feeling the same physical pain she was, and he can’t really be bothered to speak to his parents or to Dr. K.

For Randall, though, Dr. K represented something new and vital to his young life: an older man with some answers, someone who was there before his adoption, and even partially responsible for it. It’s not quite the answer that he’s been looking for, and he won’t fill the void of a biological parent, but he can help shine a light on how Randall got to where he is. So it’s no wonder that he immediately spends his Grandmother’s Christmas money on a gift for Dr. K, or that he’s the one who really bonds with the Doctor. We leave 1989 here for now, with Dr. K leaving yet another imprint on young Randall, instructing him to pass the same kindness Jack has shown on to someone else during his lifetime.


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Kevin and Sloane



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I figured Olivia wouldn’t be able to handle Kevin calling her out on her behavior nearly as well as she expects everyone else to, but I didn’t think she’d be quite this irresponsible. Turns out, immediately after their time at the cabin, Olivia just…disappeared. She jumped ship entirely on the play and hasn’t been seen for a month, leading the producers the pull the plug on the whole operation. Kevin and Sloane are both frustrated and disheartened; Kevin feels like he’s put the entire fate of his career into this play, and Sloane, as the playwright, actually has. But Sloane isn’t going to admit defeat on her entire holiday season, and demands that in return for driving her lead away, Kevin accompany her to her family’s Hanukkah dinner. In character. As her boyfriend. (“I can’t show up with no play and no Manny.”) Kevin is totally on board for this plan and jumps right in – after all, he did this story line twice in The Manny.

It’s only fair for Kevin to be thrown into the deep end with Sloane’s family after her time at the cabin, and their dynamic is just as delightfully relatable as the Pearsons. With a judgy, overly perfect sister and snarky mom, Sloane is the outlier in her family, and she plays right to type. She’s casually infuriated that her family found time to watch The Manny (or at least claimed to) while not showing up for her play, and throws barbs around at everyone in sight. Kevin’s just along for the ride, but then the lights go down and Sloane tells the story of Hanukkah to the kids. He can’t take his eyes off her. No one can; it’s no wonder her family insists she be the one to tell the story year after year. She’s funny and smart and dynamic, and you can see Kevin’s wheels turning the entire time. It’s the inspiration for Kevin’s best idea all season; he can put the money up for the play himself, with Sloane acting in Olivia’s old role. This is the most excited Kevin has been for the play hands-down, and frankly, it’s the most excited I’ve been too. Kevin and Sloane have a gorgeous chemistry, and they bounce off each other so much more naturally than he and Olivia ever did. Kevin radiates inspiration and affection when he’s around her, and all of a sudden I am VERY invested in both the success of their play and the inevitable transition from “fake relationship” to very very real and genuinely delightful relationship. Sloane brings out the same side to Kevin that Kate does; his eyes are brighter around her, his senses sharper. I just want to watch these two be adorable for a while.

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Kate and Rebecca

This is the one I was waiting for. FINALLY, we get some time with Kate and Rebecca. It’s a mirror to their Christmas Eve spent in the hospital back in 1989, except this time, Rebecca is accompanying her daughter to the initial appointment to discuss Kate’s potential gastric bypass surgery. The risks here are legitimately horrifying; not only is the surgery intensive, but Kate’s quality of life going forward would shift. Her diet would need to be extreme, and the risks for not following Doctor’s orders to the letter are dramatic. Kate grits her teeth, no doubt knowing most of this before she went in, and still feels that the change will be worth it. But it’s all new for Rebecca, especially when the doctor moves on to the intake questionnaire.

The dynamic between a mother and her grown daughter is complex. Of course it varies dramatically from family to family, but so much of Kate and Rebecca’s tensions are deeply relatable. Living far away from her family and existing more or less as an island, Kate has been facing daily struggles for depression (trying to get treatment with prozac, but giving it up after it caused more weight gain) and wrestling with frequent bingeing. It’s horrifying to Rebecca, but to Kate, and to many grown women, it’s just life. Adult children who move that far away from home and aren’t terribly close with their parents wouldn’t jump on the phone to talk about untreated depression. It’s a natural distance, and it’s partially because of the reaction Kate knew Rebecca would have. Of course Rebecca would want to know the difficulties her daughter faces. But for Kate, the mental math of sharing this information just never added up.

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Lin-Manuel Miranda: Most Handsome Young Man 2016

Posted by Kim, Sage, and Shannon

The competition was fierce and the competitors were easy on the eyes and the heart. But among a field that included Chris Evans, Sterling K. Brown, Santino Fontana, Oscar Isaac, and Karl Urban, just ONE Handsome Young Man could be voted as our readers’ CHOICE Handsome Young Man. Today, Lin-Manuel Miranda joins Adam Scott, Joel McHale, Tom Mison, John Cho, and Harry Styles in a very attractive fraternity. Not only that – he won our fourth annual poll with the largest margin we’ve ever seen. You showed love to his opponents too, but the numbers don’t lie. And they tell us that you think Lin-Manuel Miranda is one handsome son of a gun.

Since I wrote Lin’s nomination, I’m ceding most of this winner’s post to Kim and to our This Is Us recapper/head of the #HamforHandsome committee to elect Lin-Manuel Miranda, Shannon. I just want to add two points to my initial endorsement:

1. Enthusiasm is such an attractive quality. Though he’s a megastar now, Lin never looks or acts like he’s over it. He CAN’T BELIEVE what he gets to do every day and how many people he gets to reach. I think his fans see themselves in him. If they were in his place, they’d be soaking up every delicious moment too. That’s humility right there.

2. I don’t know why, but the way he says “yes” does things to me. (See: “No hablo Ingles!” “YES.”; “You punched the bursar?” “YES.”; and the entirety of “Say No to This.”)

Lin just can’t lose right now. And we’re happy to be heaping one more honor onto his teetering pile of awards. –Sage

#Ham4Handsome

#Ham4Handsome

I can admit that I am a latecomer to the Lin-Manuel Miranda train. I never saw In the Heights, his Tony winning musical that thrust him into the national spotlight. (I KNOW. BELIEVE ME.) But I can remember watching the Tonys that year and being completely endeared by the sprite of a composer who had FIRE in his eyes as he wrapped his acceptance speech, quoting Stephen Sondheim’s “Finishing the Hat”. I remember him popping up on How I Met Your Mother and going toe-to-toe with Hugh Laurie in two magnificent episodes of House (both in red because Lin clearly knows his colors). I was aware of his genius and quick-thinking mind as he churned out those magnificent show ending raps for Neil Patrick Harris’ Tony hosting gigs. I was COMPLETELY aware of Lin-Manuel Miranda and yet I WASN’T. It’s one thing to know of him and it’s an entirely DIFFERENT thing to KNOW OF HIM and that’s something that can really only be achieved by seeing him live and in person.

Which brings me to Hamilton. While all of my friends were going apeshit when the original cast recording came out, I steadfastly refused to listen to it. Not because I wasn’t interested, because GOD KNOWS I was, but because I was holding out to experience Hamilton for the first time in the theatre. I proudly deemed myself as a Hamilton unicorn as I stubbornly clung to the dream that SOMEHOW I would be able to score a ticket. It was tough because the show was EVERYWHERE and all of my friends were obsessed. (God BLESS them, they tried to preserve my innocence as much as possible.) The Hamilton Gods smiled down on me in April, when one of my best friends from high school called me up one day and said “So my sister and I are taking her daughter to see Hamilton and we have a fourth ticket. Do you want it?” After crying profusely and desperately switching my tickets to see Gillian Anderson in Streetcar to another night, my ticket to the Room Where It Happens was secured. And it was EVERYTHING. I totally get people listening to the OBCR before seeing the show, because for some, it’s the only way of being able to connect with this masterpiece. But let me tell you…FOR ME…my choice of being a Hamilton Unicorn made my experience perfect because it was like baptism by FIRE when it comes to Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Lin would probably be the first person to tell you that he is not a conventional Broadway leading man. He doesn’t have the full-bodied soaring voice that peers like Santino Fontana, Jeremy Jordan, and Hamilton‘s own Jonathan Groff have. But when you look at Lin on stage, none of that fucking matters. What sets Lin apart is his passion and charisma and that untenable quality that prevents you from looking at ANYONE else when he’s on stage. (And that says a LOT considering he’s standing next to people like Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom Jr.) Lin’s Alexander Hamilton is MESMERIZING. He acts from his gut, from the deepest part of his soul, and it pours out of him from the tips of his fingers to the soles of his feet. From the buoyant JOY and determination of “My Shot” to the despondence of “Hurricane” to the reflective “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Lin’s performance was a masterclass. He knew his Alexander Hamilton inside and out and I will forever be grateful that I got to experience it in person.

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