“It’s just fashion, it’s supposed to be fun.” – Golden Globes 2017

Posted by Maggie

And we’re back! I really missed red carpets, guys. I read Anna Kendrick’s new book, Scrappy Little Nobody, over Christmas break and her section on Hollywood turned out to be the perfect warmup for the season. It was interesting to read about her evolving relationship with fashion, from freely exploring it to using it as a weapon to acquiring professional know-how. I love behind-the-scenes tidbits about working with stylists and the reality of attending an award show. (Read this excerpt, you’ll be hooked.) And she’s right: It’s just fashion, it’s supposed to be fun. So thanks to Colin for the book and thanks to Anna for the insight and entertainment, I’m ready to get down to business, let’s have some fun. Two things to know: 1) I can’t cover someone if I don’t see them on the carpet or at the ceremony, seeing someone move in their outfit makes all the difference, and 2) as a form of self-care, I’ve decided to try to get through this season forgetting that Sofia Vergara exists.

BEST

Evan Rachel Wood

As I was getting ready to start the red carpet and take notes, I said to Colin “I hope Evan Rachel Wood wears menswear” AND SHE DID. This look was custom but it looks like literal MENSwear, and she’s wearing the hell out of it right down to the flared leg, my god. I know I say this every time but the men are always so boring, so she’ll have to be my fix until Harry Styles does the circuit next year for Dunkirk.

Ruth Negga

Ruth’s not messing around, you guys. This is to die for, easily one of the best metallics of the night. It’s so bold yet sleek? And I love the soft hair and makeup, which complement the gown beautifully.

Kristen Bell

Honestly, this is all I’ve ever needed from Kristen Bell. If her last award show red carpet gown had a bit of a Disney princess feel, then this is the villainess-inspired look and it is working for her. This is how to swerve instead of resting on pretty. It’s killer, right? Flattering as hell and on trend (sparkles, long sleeve) but the dramatic black sets her apart.

Felicity Jones

Controversial opinion time? I love this. I love the subtle mix of blush and bashful, the black detailing, the jeweled bow; and I think it’s styled to perfection. There were some looks last night that I thought had entirely too much going on, but this wasn’t one of them. Lovely.

Viola Davis

Much like Adrienne Maloof, I’m all about a one-shoulder. My only nitpick, as usual with vibrant yellow gowns, is where is my red lip?? Otherwise, this is beaded perfection.

Millie Bobby Brown 

I am so in love with this girl and her savage sparkles, you have no idea. I can’t imagine the challenge of finding something age appropriate for an event like this, but she nailed it. I would have liked to have seen a small earring and maybe sleeker shoes, but that’s the grown-up in me talking.

Thandie Newton

I love this classic white with a splash of fire, and I think Thandie’s sleek pony and backwards necklace are the perfect complement. This striking look wasn’t originally in my top ten, which doesn’t even make sense to me looking at it again now.

Natalie Portman

I went a little back and forth on this one — is it too costumey, is the accent beading working? But ultimately, it’s just so flattering on her and I don’t know how to quit this one. It’s demure, it’s unexpectedly modern, and how she’s pulling off that color I will never know, but she is.

Claire Foy

I’m not usually one for Erdem gowns, but this is very pretty (and reminiscent of Kate Bosworth from last year). The sleeves shouldn’t really work but somehow do and I love the overall shape of it. My jury is still out on the blue ribbon, it doesn’t ruin the look but I can’t tell if I actually like it.

Naomie Harris 

This is somehow both futuristic and elegant, and I love it. Again, there were so many metallics that standing out was a challenge but she pulled it off.

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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.

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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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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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“Life isn’t all diamonds and rosé.” – Looking Back at the First Season of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

Posted by Maggie

The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills returns tonight with the premiere of season seven and, guys, I am excited. Much to my dismay, I’m the only resident HOF alpha female who watches Housewives, although I’ve had some limited success recruiting within our friend group. We all have our things that others might term “guilty pleasures,” and I’m certainly not above watching for the drama and the lifestyles of the rich and famous of it all, but, for me, the core of these shows has always been the depiction of female friendship. Our friendships with other women can be some of the most significant relationships in our lives, and I love watching these dynamics play out on-screen. Sometimes conflict between two Housewives is a simple matter of different friendship styles. Sometimes one Housewife is playing to the cameras when another thinks she’s being genuine. And some of these friendships span years and seasons, and I think it’s so interesting to see how they evolve. Honestly, I could write my dissertation on female friendship based on season three of The Real Housewives of New York alone. RHOBH has the added dynamic of two sisters in the cast which, as the youngest of three girls, I really appreciate, and might be partly why this city is one of my faves. Also, I can think of at least three examples from over the years of a Housewife coming across badly all season only for viewers to find out later she was going through a custody dispute or marital problems off-screen, which is a good reminder to try to reserve judgment because someone in your life might being going through a hard time that you don’t know about. The thing is, even if a medium is meant to be superficial, when real people are involved, it can’t help but capture real human moments.

In my excitement for the premiere, I thought what better way to get ready than to take a look back at the iconic first season of this franchise? Season one was a simpler time. Pre Brandi. No one had ever uttered the word “Munchausen’s.” We didn’t know yet how dark Taylor or Kim’s problems were, and we thought Adrienne and Paul were happy. We had no idea who Alene Too was (and still don’t, to be honest), and we’d never heard of “patting the puss.” Camille was quickly named the most hated Housewife in America (it was on a magazine cover!), although she looked great doing it. And it included my all-time favorite, most oft-quoted Housewives moment:

RHOBH is a flagship franchise, the best example of the aspirational wealth of it all – and the fashion, my god, the fashion. Now, after the first season of every city, the clothes and everyday outfits get more polished and the ladies look more put together, and while the same is true of Beverly Hills, these Wives had a much better grasp on what worked for them right out of the gate in season one. (Although it has to be said they are very attached to a hoop earring.)

Listen, 2016 has been rough. Things got dark. And no, life isn’t all diamonds and rosé. But it should be. So if you’re able to hit pause on real life for a moment, grab a glass of rosé (but not Whispering Angel, as loyal Bitch Sesh listeners know, we’ve turnt on them) and join me in taking a look back at my favorite ten looks from this iconic season of Housewives.

  1. Camille at the Tonys

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Look at this.

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Have you ever??

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And from the back. That cut-out!

Camille shut it down with this red gown when she attended the Tonys with her soon-to-be ex, nominee Kelsey Grammer. I’m not very familiar with that red carpet so I did a little googling and, as suspected, this was an event-appropriate look, but would most likely stand out even for a nominee, let alone a date of. The lost footage specials that run at the end of many seasons are usually garbage, cutting-room-floor stuff, but I’m so glad I rewatched this one because Camille explains that Kelsey wanted her to wear another, more low-key option so she wouldn’t draw as much attention, and that’s why she chose the red even though it was raining that night. For the most part, S1 Camille was no treat, but I’m so proud of her for doing that. (And he got his understated date the next year, so don’t feel sorry for him.)

2)  Taylor at Kennedy’s birthday tea party

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I don’t love that Taylor used her 4-year-old daughter as an excuse to throw herself a lavish party, but I do love this simple print dress.

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Sorry for the unflattering photo, but she was determined to pose on that table for her professional photographer (yes, really) and I was determined to show you the pink feather in her hat that just misses ruining the entire look.

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And I feel bad that Kennedy didn’t want the attention, but I’m glad this closeup of her hiding her face behind Taylor’s skirt shows that gorgeous print in detail. Don’t you love?

3)  Lisa at Mohamed’s dinner party

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Shout-out to Mohamed Hadid, father of Gigi and Bella, for hosting this glam dinner for Lisa. I wish the velvet bodice detail on her gown showed more clearly in photos, because it was to die for.

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If you look closely past RHOBH’s answer to Kato Kaelin, you can see there’s a bow on the back of her gown and you know I love a bow.

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And look at the sheer back! I can’t, she looks so elegant yet modern and just rich (and I don’t mean price tag, but I’m guessing it was hefty). There are times when Lisa plays a little too into the British grande dame look, but this is definitely not one of them.

4 Adrienne at the Jay-Z concert

The interesting thing about Adrienne is that her taste often hews tacky even though her net worth over her lifetime has got to be the highest of all the ladies (but money can’t buy you class, right, Countess?). I always knew there was a taste-level issue there, but rewatching the season specifically for the fashion, I kept going, “oh, Adrienne.”

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THIS, on the other hand, I love. That blue sparkly one-shoulder (and I’m only just now realizing how about a one-shoulder she was) is very Adrienne, but in a classy, almost restrained way.

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Okay, yes, the shoulder pad is a little intense but I don’t mind it. I do mind the glitter extensions, though; let’s get another look at those:

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Do you see what I mean? Taste. Level. Issue.

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The Head Over Feels Most Handsome Young Man 2016

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Posted by Kim and Sage

IT’S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!!! Not Christmas, you jags. It’s Most Handsome Young Man time!

Harry Styles will always be in our hearts as the Most Handsome Young Man of 2015, but it is time for him to step down and join Joel McHale, Adam Scott, Tom Mison, and John Cho for a scotch in the Handsome Young Men Hall of Fame. Thanks for giving us that Another Man Photoshoot before you stepped down, Hazza. We are eternally grateful for the fuzzy sweaters, the COLLARS, and the outrageous suits. The summertime, butterflies all belong to your creation.

So who will carry the Most Handsome Young Mantle into 2017? As always, we’ve put a LOT of thought into our potential nominees (the things we DO for you guys, it’s so hard) and we feel that our chosen six represent the best of the best. We cackled with glee at the thought of putting your faves up against each other, so may the odds ever be in their Handsome favor. Remember, age in this poll is but a number. The Most Handsome Young Man should be Handsome on the outside AND the inside. He should fill your heart with glee and rage at the same time because HOW DARE HE exist on this planet. The Most Handsome Young Man represents YOU, dear readers. We can’t wait to see who you choose.

Voting will run until 5:00 PM EST on Friday, December 9th. You can vote once per hour. We heartily endorse social media campaigns for your favorites, especially when they come with photos and gifs. Vote early, vote often. This contest can turn on a dime (just ask 2014 Winner John Cho, who won on the very last day). Nobody is a sure thing, so you should never rest on your laurels. Good luck, gentlemen. You’re all so HANDSOME.   –Kim

Sterling K. Brown

It happens EVERY. DAMN. WEEK. Just when I think Sterling K. Brown can’t knock me out any more on the tearjerker ensemble dramedy This Is Us, he goes and does it. As the adult version of Randall Pearson – adopted son of a white family, devoted husband and father, corporate perfectionist, and aspiring pianist – Sterling gives the kind of dexterous performance that’s rooted in a bone-deep understanding of his character and circumstances. Sterling K. Brown KNOWS Randall – inside and out – and so his work is unpretentious, unaffected, FUNNY, and so, so human.

His wife Ryan Michelle Bathe plays Yvette, family friend of the Pearsons

Looking through his filmography, I see that I’ve seen Sterling in one-offs in some of the series that I keep up with. But I started really paying attention early this year when he played Christopher Darden in FX’s American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson. In Darden’s goatee, wire-rimmed glasses, and department store ties, Sterling was one of the keys to that show’s success. And by “success,” I mean the avoidance of a sensationalist car crash. It could’ve gone that way; we all know it.

Yes, please.

Instead, The People vs. O.J. Simpson was a snapshot of institutional incompetency and bias, as well as the frustration and heartbreak experienced by the people caught up in it. The most wonderful surprise of the show was the tender friendship and sizzling chemistry between Sterling as Darden and Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark. (WHAT HAPPENED THERE, YOU GUYS?) I…had no idea I shipped two lawyers arguing the Trial of the Century so much. (Besides F. Lee Bailey and Robert Shapiro, I mean.) But damn if this show didn’t perfectly capture the way professional respect and personal fondness can grow into something more urgent when the stakes are high and the hours are long. Plus, Chris was me, watching helplessly as the media reduced Marcia to a haircut and a custody hearing. My favorite scene is the one in which a (shirtless) Chris calls into a talk show polling listeners on whether Marcia is “bitch or babe.” He dials the phone with a fury in his eyes. “I VOTE BABE.” And then he hangs up.

Sterling won an Emmy for that role. And if there’s justice, he should be pulling down another nomination for This Is Us. Nothing makes me happier than a working actor finally getting that defining part. And Sterling K. Brown got TWO in one year. Every episode, I feel that This Is Us is teetering on the edge of schmaltz. But its actors pull it back from that edge. Sterling does his thing, and it never feels like he’s trying to coax a specific reaction out of you. I appreciate that – that he trusts the audience to come along with him. And for that reason, Randall is my favorite character in the Pearson clan: a softhearted, stand-up guy who demands the best of the people around him but ultimately holds himself to the highest standard. Randall never half-asses anything: not cataloging his grievances, not Thanksgiving, and not hotel shower sex with his beautiful wife followed by room service burgers in bed. It’s very hot.

Sterling K. Brown is the latest addition to our nominees, so enamored are we with what he’s done this year. Talented, deserving, and above all: handsome. –Sage

Chris Evans

Definitive proof that not all straight white cis boys are here to ruin our lives: Chris Evans.

Chris Evans’s most basic appeal can be summed up in a single contradiction: he’s a Disney-loving woke nerd in the body of a frat house pledge master. I’m Team Cap in large part because I’m Team Chris. I’m a sucker for his accessible charm. When he laughs, he uses his entire body. He has an inner Prince, who I bet comes out to play late-nights at his favorite townie bar. He tweets about football and it’s not annoying, because he also tweets to condemn racism, xenophobia, and the embodiment of those evils: Donald Trump. If he were a Disney princess, he’d be Belle. He could barely get through this push-up challenge because his dog wanted to give him kisses, and LISTEN TO THE GIGGLES.

I DIG that All-American boy thing. And it PAINS me, because it can be a harbinger of something problematic and even sinister. But Chris Evans renews my faith in backwards caps and nice arms. In Under Armor and the overuse of the word “awesome.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, of course, but it helps to be aware of your privilege, which Chris very much seems to be. I also suspect he has the soul of artist. Chris Evans is the kind of guy who would build you a cabin with his bare hands in which to hold your feminist book club meetings. Then he’d come every month. And he’d bring the beer. Something cheap and domestic, and everyone would secretly love it.

Source: buckypupbarnes

PURE. Source: buckypupbarnes

Let’s talk about Captain America: Civil War. Firstly, that press tour was a damn gift. So many attractive and funny people giving each other shit. So many times Chris laughed when Sebastian Stan talked about the lube he needed to get himself into Bucky’s metal arm. Also, Chris seemed perturbed that certain Stucky scenes were cut from the film, so it’s a reasonable conclusion that he ships it. Anyway, Steve has the potential to be the most boring character on the team. But Chris has grown with the role, and there’s an undercurrent of anger that makes the golden boy fascinating to watch.  The anger, and also this bicep-popping stunt.

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“CAN’T. LET. BOYFRIEND. GET. AWAY. THIS TIME.”

Chris Evans has made a habit of giving back, visiting hospitals in his Cap uniform and sharing campaigns on social media. But he’s also contributed to the world in an even more personal way, by being forthcoming with his struggles with social anxiety. Anxiety and mental illness in general can be isolating. But if Captain America dreads red carpets and speaking in public, then none of us are really alone.

Blue eyes, a body built to smash, a gigantic heart, a generous spirit, and a good dog – does it get more handsome than that? I doubt it. –Sage

Source: buckypupbarnes

Source: buckypupbarnes

Santino Fontana

The thing that is most outrageous to me about the first season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the suggestion that Greg Serrano would be the one that Rebecca would SETTLE for. Excuse me? In what universe is this guy second place? NOT OURS. Greg Serrano is the type of guy I would shove other women aside for in order to get to him. I would FIGHT for him. I would catch a grenade for him. And that is all due to one Santino Fontana.

Yes, you. You goofball.

I said it back when we wrote about him for The Feelies, but the entire REASON Greg Serrano works as a character is because of Santino Fontana. It’s the puppy eyes. It’s the little dimples he gets when he smiles. It’s the smart-ass smirk. It’s the fact that he looks SO DAMN CUDDLY AND WARM all the time. (You KNOW he’s a human furnace. That’s a scientific fact.) Greg is all sarcasm and self-deprecation but it works because Santino does it with a twinkle in his eyes. He plays Greg like he knows that he’s in on the joke. He makes it easy to see right through Greg’s hard candy shell and makes it obvious that he’s actually just a mushball who wants to love and to be in love. I completely understand the ultimate arc that Greg had on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend but that doesn’t mean I have to like it because now I don’t get to see Santino’s face on my television every week. Greg needed to spread his wings and pursue his dreams beyond West Covina; keeping him there once he had the opportunity to leave would have been a betrayal to the story and the character. But I’m never going to give up the hope that once Greg finds himself that he’ll come back for Rebecca and he’ll be the person that he needs to be, for both of them. LET ME HAVE THIS.

ACTUAL singing Prince Charming.

You know we love our multi-talented gentlemen here at Head Over Feels and Santino is the definition of multi-talent. He sings! He dances! He moves seamlessly between plays and musicals! I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Santino’s theatre work on many occasions and this is a guy who was BORN to be on stage. I feel like Santino is the kind of Musical Theatre Leading Man that’s a dying breed. He’s the definition of OLD SCHOOL. He’s not overly poppy and he is just EARNEST in a way that’s so pure. His voice is designed to sing the classics and he has a thorough understanding of musical phrasing and how to tell stories through song. (It’s WHY he was so suited to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and why Greg’s numbers were always standouts.) Take a look at him in action and you’ll understand why we bought tickets to see him sing Lerner and Lowe at the 92nd Street Y as soon as they went on sale even though we are broke AF. I hope you’re ready for a Head Over Feels sandwich, Santino, because we’re coming for a snuggle.

If he is not cast as Matt Flamhaff in the rumored musical of 13 Going On 30, then I know NOTHING about how casting works. Is there another Musical Theatre Actor out there who can capture the essence of Mark Ruffalo and play the sweetest guy Jenna Rink has ever known? The answer is no, there is not. Make this happen, theatre gods. Santino didn’t give up his sweet TV gig for nothing, after all.

Much like fellow nominee Sterling K. Brown, we can’t even be mad that Santino is off the market. How can we be mad when Cinderella’s Prince Topher ACTUALLY married Cinderella? How can we be mad when his vows to his future wife included promises like always protecting her except when she doesn’t want to be protected (WOKE) and to never stop making her laugh and to never stop promising her anything? How can we be mad when his bride says that he shows the characters he plays the same love and respect that he shows his friends and family? HOW CAN WE BE MAD AT THAT? We can’t be. All we can do is show some mad respect for the woman who managed to win the heart of this ACTUAL Prince. –Kim

Bowties are cool.

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Nathan Fillion Offers Fandom a Chance to Look Great While Supporting the Zimmer Children’s Museum of Los Angeles

nathan fillion charity shirt

Posted by Dawn

ADAPTED FROM CREATION’S OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE

No one has enough t-shirts. Ever. Let’s face it. If you’re in fandom, you have t-shirts. They’re comfy, they identify what you love, they shout what you believe, and they are awesome. And in some cases, they are also a way to help charities while showing off the fandoms you adore.

Nathan Fillion knows this, and right now he is counting on it. So he has partnered with Creation Stands for an online flash campaign to benefit his chosen charity, the Zimmer Children’s Museum. The flash sale kicked off on November 14 and runs through November 28, and Head Over Feels has all the info on how to get your shirt and help Nathan help children.

His campaign is called “Take Your Pick” –a vintage-style t-shirt priced at a mere $25. And it’s AWESOME. The t-shirt has Nathan’s headshot image over six different roles he has portrayed with the words “Take Your Pick.”

Umm, yes. Yes, we will.

“It’s brilliant that Creation Stands make is so easy for people to stand behind their fandom, and stand for a good cause at the same time,” Nathan said. “Best of all, I’m giving 100% of my proceeds to the Zimmer Children’s Museum. It’s a great local nonprofit, with programs that not only teach community values but that also helps students, empowering them with self-expression and leadership skills.”

The Zimmer Children’s Museum is on Museum Row in LA. It’s a museum and a youth development organization that believes in “playing our way to a better world.” The museum provides hands-on exhibits and free-play learning experiences that teach children from toddler to eight-years-old about social responsibility and community values. YouThink, the Zimmer’s innovative youth development program, provides middle and high school students from underserved schools with arts education, leadership and civic engagement programs.

Creation Stands, part of Creation Entertainment, works with actors from all over fandom and helps them work directly with their fans to raise money for their favorite nonprofit organizations through the sale of actor-originated designs from fan artists. William Shatner, Lana Parrilla, Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, and Paul Wesley just a new of the names who have taken part and offered their designs for sale. It’s a tremendously awarding venture that has raised many thousands of dollars for a host of charities, and it gives us–the fans–a chance to join up with our favorite stars to raise money for worthwhile nonprofits.

And there’s a bonus, if you act fast. It’s not Nathan coming to your house for dinner, alas, but it’s still pretty cool if you live in or will be in the Los Angeles area: the first 100 people to get a shirt will also get a family four pack of free admission tickets to the museum.

Captain Tightpants has given us a lot. Time to give a little back. Sales are on NOW at www.creationstands.com.

16 Things We Learned at New York Comic Con 2016 – Part II

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Posted by Kim and Sage

Believe it or not, our first post only took us through the first 36 hours of NYCC 2016. Our con was SUPER front-loaded this year, with Friday being our biggest day and our panel schedule lightening for Saturday and Sunday. (Thank GOD The Walking Dead is dead to us because I think another long day at Madison Square Garden would have been the death of us.) Even once we passed the main hump of our schedule, we still had plenty to occupy our time, from doing several laps around the show floor to studying all the gorgeous work in Artists Alley to observing the cosplay to taking full advantage of the wide varieties of programming. I like to think we truly soaked in everything New York Comic Con had to offer this year, in every respect. My Fitbit certainly thought so. Read on for the rest of our adventures. –Kim

1) No detail is too small in the Mr. Robot Universe

NYCC Mr. Robot Panel

ReedPOP, the company that runs NYCC, has also run a Book Con event in previous years. Rather than fill the Javits for another weekend with authors, signings, and panels, Book Con was made considerably smaller and folded into NYCC for 2016. So after our morning at MSG with the BBCA crowd and a revitalizing lunch at Five Guys, we headed over to Hudson Mercantile for panel about the Mr. Robot companion book, Red Wheelbarrow. Or, in the parlance of the show: eps1.91_redwheelbarr0w.txt.

Book Con panels were all included with NYCC badges. But there was also an option to make purchases in the pop-up book store on one of the floors of the space. For the Mr. Robot panel, the first 150 audience members who wanted to buy the book could have it signed by authors Sam Esmail (also Mr. Robot‘s creator and showrunner) and Courtney Looney (one of the show’s writers). I got the VERY LAST BRACELET, because Comic Con was very good to me this year. And as I learned more about it during the panel, I burned off any remaining buyer’s remorse and was happy to fork over the $30. –Sage

  • It was unseasonably hot that day and we were very reasonably cranky from getting up in the middle of the night to haul ass to MSG. But Book Con restored much goodwill lost during the outside wait when volunteers handed us some high-quality graphic tees on the way in. Yes, we CAN be bought.
  • The Hudson Mercantile space is not SUPER conducive for panels since it’s not graded and there are view-obscuring columns everywhere. But it’ll do.
  • Esmail was very forceful in saying that the Red Wheelbarrow book is NOT a promotional item. It is an original Mr. Robot story. And because it’s a part of the Mr. Robot, that story is not traditionally told. The book is Elliot’s journaling during the 30 days between the season 1 finale and season 2 premiere.
  • Rami Malek and Christian Slater provided writing samples to the publisher, so the whole thing could be told in Elliot’s own hand.
  • Even if you’re married to your Kindle, you probably want to buy this book in a physical copy. The notebook is stuffed with little Easter eggs (because that’s how fsociety does) – envelopes, take-out menus, and other ephemera are stuffed inside.
  • “I mean, it’s fucked up.” – Esmail’s succinct and accurate description of Elliot’s inner life.
  • Other characters appear in the book through Elliot’s interactions with and memories of them. As Looney said, “They all get shrapnel from being close to him.”
  • Esmail, on his directing style: “I’m a huge fan of long takes, because it means you can just do it and move on.”
  • The season 2 finale climax was BANANAS to shoot, with Christan Slater literally running from one side of the room to the other mid-take to his next mark.

NYCC Mr. Robot Panel

  • The moderator had to ask about the show’s insane ’90s family comedy pastiche episode. Esmail said he paid tribute to TGIF in that way because it was a comforting couple of hours for him as a kid. He felt very culturally at sea, stuck between his family life and the world he encountered at school and elsewhere. TGIF was the only place he felt at home. This is incredibly endearing, because TV doesn’t have to be great or groundbreaking to mean something profound to someone.
  • Some poor bastard got up to ask what Esmail would do to end the story if USA CANCELLED the show. The whole crowd turned on him.
  • Elliot likes drawing penises in his notebook, FYI. Just warning you if you flip through it at Barnes & Noble with someone looking over your shoulder.

2) Smaller Discussion Panels Have Restorative Powers

Hour 13 of 16. Fueled by caffeine and the Capaldi high.

Hour 13 of 16. Fueled by caffeine and the Capaldi high.

Marquee TV and Film panels with the stars are the bread and butter of Comic Con, but no con experience is fully complete without taking part in the smaller discussion panels. By luck of scheduling, the “Moving Beyond the Strong Female Character” panel was in the same room as the annual “Your Opinion Sucks” panel, so we able to make ourselves nice and comfortable in Room 1A18 for the rest of our Friday. (Sitting for 2 and a half hours is SUCH A LUXURY, Y’ALL.) It turns out that the discussion panel was as revitalizing for our minds and souls as it was for our bodies. Panelists Sam Maggs (The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy), Jody Houser (Cupcake POW!), Jill Pantozzi (The Nerdy Bird), Amy Chu (currently writing the Poison Ivy comics for DC), and Jen Bartel (artist for Jem and the Holograms) led an hour-long discussion about our favorite female characters, what we can do to promote female driven stories and creators, and why the term “Strong Female Character” is incredibly limiting. It was like Gatorade for our tired man-splained souls. –Kim

  • The panel immediately dove into how the stereotypical description of a “strong female character” (aka a “tough” woman who kicks ass) can tend to be one dimensional and limiting. “It’s not a STRONG female character I’m aiming for, it’s an INTERESTING one.” Strong means more than just physical strength. Strong can and should encompass flaws and intellect and complex human emotions, not just physical strength. This x 100.
  • Favorite female characters shouted out: Imperator Furiosa, Catwoman, Sailor Moon, Dana Scully (YAS), Buffy Summers, and Xena.
  • The panel also discussed the “Mary Sue” and how a character who serves as a stand-in for the audience is not always a bad thing. Audiences of all ages and genders need characters they can latch on to.
  • When an audience member brought up the accusation that Star Wars‘ Rey was a Mary Sue, the panel scoffed. “No one ever watches James Bond and is like ‘UGH, he’s too good at everything he does.'”
  • When asked about the recent boom of complicated female characters in pop culture, the panel posited that it was because of a new generation of writers coming of age. “Everyone who grew up watching The X-Files and Buffy are now at the age to create these types of characters.”
  • Because the universe LOVES irony, the Donald Trump/Billy Bush scandal dropped while we were in this panel.
  • The panel was asked about the Clarke and Lexa debacle on The 100 and they stressed that while the show DID drop the ball (“It was great…until they messed it up.”), it was very important that they attempted to tell the story. People aren’t always going to get it right but what matters is that the door for the discussion was opened.
  • The panel was very pro-Skyler White when they were asked about how the wives of anti-heroes like Walter often get villified. “I think everything she did was justifiable if your husband were a psychopathic meth dealer!”
  • Shout out to the few brave men who got up and asked thoughtful questions during the discussion. The one awkward moment came when a male writer expressed that he had trouble writing a woman dealing with attraction to someone else, essentially saying that he categorized female characters as either constantly pining or sleeping around. Yeesh. “I think you need to stop thinking of your character as a WOMAN and instead as a human being. How do human beings regardless of gender pursue partners?” YES.
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Taking the chance to stretch out in between panels on Saturday.

3) The “Your Opinion Sucks” Panel is ALWAYS a Good Time

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At our first NYCC in 2013, we attended the “Your Opinion Sucks” panel on a whim because it seemed like it would be fun. Now, at our fourth con, it’s a can’t miss panel for us. It ALWAYS earns a spot on our schedule. If the Strong Female Character panel was Gatorade, this one was a Red Bull. (Main lesson from this post: Stay hydrated at Comic Con, folks.) The premise of the panel is simple: there’s an open mic and a panel of movie and television critics. One by one, audience members get up to the mic and express what they think is an unpopular opinion about a movie or TV show (but usually movie). They get one minute to state their case, usually accompanied by shouts from the audience, and then the panel gets a chance to respond, either telling them they are wrong or agreeing with them. It’s basically a living and breathing internet comment section. Pass the popcorn. –Kim

  • “I LOVE Jurassic Park III! It’s the Citizen Kane of Jurassic Park movies.” That’s it. That’s the panel.
  • Given the nature of this panel, it’s usually dominated by fanboys wanting to defend or trash their favorite obscure comic book movie. If there is one thing we would complain about in regards to this panel, it would be that not enough women (and I’m counting us in that number because we’ve never stood up, even though we have PLENTY of unpopular opinions) are brave enough to get up to the mic. There WAS one girl this year who got up and defended I Know Who Killed Me and it was DELIGHTFUL. “Lindsey Lohan is a STRIPPER. OR IS SHE? That’s what’s beautiful about this movie.” Bless.
  • “For once, we can’t blame Ben Affleck for something.” – The verdict on Batman vs. Superman. Honestly, that should have been the marketing tagline.
  • “Are you asking the Fast and the Furious franchise to make sense? How dare you, sir!”
  • Guy: I would like to discuss The Matrix. Us at our seats: Hoe, don’t do it. Guy: I hated that movie. Cue the fanboys chanting for his badge to be confiscated.
  • I don’t know why we were surprised by this, but a DudeBro got up to trash the genderbent Ghostbusters. To the surprise of NO ONE, the guy hadn’t actually SEEN the movie nor did he realize that Rotten Tomatoes is simply a ratings aggregator and NOT the ones giving out the scores. Cue us screaming from our seats and the delightful dude who defended Jurassic Park III chinhandsing at us the whole time. The panel had the final word though. “Ghostbusters II ALREADY ruined the original, man.”
  • “I genuinely believe Zack Snyder is an auteur.” *deafening groan from the room, thank GOD.* “That doesn’t mean he does good work.” Honestly, THIS GUY should have had his badge taken.

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16 Things We Learned at New York Comic Con 2016, Part I

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Posted by Kim and Sage

I don’t have any grey hairs yet, so I’m marking the aging process by how tired I get when someone even MENTIONS Comic Con. Some people’s bodies show evidence of long-term damage from playing sports or running a marathon. I want to know about the long-term effects of standing on a cement floor in a pair of Toms for five hours straight.

But New York Comic Con is a tentpole event of our year and endure, we must. Once again, we headed back to the Javits for four full days of fandom fun. (I usually say “nights” too, but we left the after-parties to the kids this year. Your grandmas had to go home to watch their shows.) As ever, NYCC was a learning experience. And we’re here to pass those lessons along to you. –Sage

1. Tapping in Is the Way of the Future

Head Over Feels line selfie NYCC

The principle difference between New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con is the fact that they clear their mainstage hall between each panel. (Would that SDCC could figure out a way to clear Hall H between panels, honestly.) For the past two years, NYCC has had a wristband system for their mainstage panels, where each panel had a chute in the queue hall and you would have to pick one to wait in until 10 AM, at which time harried volunteers would then put wristbands on impatient nerds one by one until the panel was capped out. Then, if you wanted to do another panel, you would go into that chute to get another wristband if that panel had not capped out. This system worked because it FORCED you to prioritize your mainstage panels but at the same time it was a sloooooooow process and human error was a big factor. (Notoriously last year, the volunteers gave out wristbands for the Jessica Jones panel to the standby line first, cutting off people who had gotten there much earlier.)

When in line, read fan fic.

When in line, read fan fic.

For NYCC 2016, a new system was implemented. Instead of wristbands, volunteers tapped the RFID chip on the badges, which registered your spot on the panel. Then, when it came time to load people in for panels, you would have to tap your badge to gain admittance into the room. I had some doubts about how this system would work at first, but let me tell you…it worked BEAUTIFULLY. First of all, they started tapping our badges almost as soon as the initial rush got settled into the chutes, allowing the crowds to either go get in the line for the show floor or another mainstage line. Second, you got an email confirmation from the system as soon as your badge was tapped, leaving no room for doubt that you would indeed be attending that panel. Third, it allowed the NYCC app to give constant updates on the status of each panel and whether or not they had capped. (For example, we got buzzed that the Iron Fist panel had capped before we even made it into the queue hall on Saturday morning.) Fourth, it slowed the crush of humanity and the race for good seats when they were loading everyone into the room for the panels because every single person had to have their badge tapped. It was all dignified and organized and dare I say CALM which was refreshing as hell. Well done, NYCC. Four for you.

I also have to give a bonus shout-out to the staff of NYCC for choosing to allow the crowd to be loaded into the Javits Center on Sunday morning MUCH earlier than normal due to inclement weather. A little kindness goes a LONG way, especially on the last day of a long weekend. Snaps. –Kim

2. “Native Stories” Are Maybe Not Ethan Hawke’s Area of Expertise

Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth NYCC

Our first panel was our most problematic one. Well. Nice to get it out of the way.

For Reality Bites/Before trilogy/Dead Poets reasons, we checked out the panel Ethan Hawke was speaking on, along with artist Greg Ruth. They were talking about a black-and-white graphic novel they collaborated on called Indeh:  A Story of the Apache Wars. The panel was titled “Native Stories.” Guess how many Native people were sitting on the dais. Goose egg.

I haven’t read this book. And both Ruth and Hawke seemed to be passionate about presenting a quintessentially American story from a history that’s shamefully ignored. I won’t make a judgment about who can tell whose stories, though I have many, MANY thoughts about it. What I want to talk about is the collaborators’ responses to serious and frankly obvious questions about strapping on the ol’ cultural blinders. Moderator Abraham Reisman from Vulture introduced the elephant in the room, asking if Ruth and Hawke ever had any qualms about being two white men writing and framing a Native American narrative.

Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth NYCC

“AS A WHITE GUY…”

You guys. The mental and verbal gymnastics that these men did. It was almost inspiring. Tone-deaf and drowning in privilege, but inspiring. The answer pinged back and forth between Ruth and Hawke and lasted for nearly ten minutes. The conclusion Hawke came to was this: “We’ve given ourselves a harder time for this than anyone.” OH OKAY. Great news, y’all. An artist accused himself of cultural appropriation; thought about it long and hard; and then found himself not guilty. The justice of it all. The ability of white cis straight men to forgive themselves while outside criticism ricochets off them like bullets off Luke friggin’ Cage is truly amazing.

Oh, Hawke mentioned that he’d given the galleys of the book to two of his castmates on The Magnificent Seven: Martin Sensmeier, who grew up in a Tlingit community in Alaska, and Jonathan Joss, who was born in Texas and has Comanche and Apache blood. He told the audience that the actors “and their entire families” had a LOT of feedback for him. And he didn’t volunteer the nature of that feedback, so I’m guessing it wasn’t positive.

Ethan Hawke and Greg Ruth NYCC

That conversation came about when an audience member asked the panelists if they’d spoken with any indigenous people while working on the book. Hawke went on and on about how “inviting too many” people into the creative process “dilutes” it. (???????) The whole first half of the panel was all about how these two poured blood and sweat into this book in their selfless effort to tell this story accurately, but a couple of notes from an ACTUAL Apache would have derailed the whole exercise? And how is handing over a finished copy to the only native folks in your immediate vicinity so they can tell you how great it is comparable to responsible cultural storytelling? I hope they recorded this and reviewed the game tapes of this one later, because GEEZ. –Sage

3. Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman, and Alex Kingston Like Each Other A Whole Lot

Matt Smith Jenna Coleman Alex Kingston panel NYCC

NYCC 2016 was overflowing in riches when it came to Doctor Who. (About time, really. This is our fourth year going and other than a Big Finish panel in 2013 and a Q&A with Arthur Darvill in 2014, Doctor Who has been incredibly absent from NYCC.) Not only did we get a panel with the current TARDIS team (more on that later), we got a nostalgia panel with Matt Smith (The Eleventh Doctor), Jenna Coleman (Clara Oswald, queen of our hearts), and Alex Kingston (River Song). We have had the pleasure of seeing Alex and Jenna on panels at other conventions but we’ve never had the pleasure hearing Matt Smith talk about his time in the TARDIS in person. All three of these cupcakes are great on their own but putting them together on one panel? That is something special, friends. It was such a delight to see the genuine affection they have for each other and the way they played off of each other. That hour FLEW by. –Kim

  • Want a lesson on how tabloid reporting works? Matt quipped that he was on a panel with his wife and his girlfriend and MINUTES later there was an article on Radio Times proclaiming “Matt Smith calls Clara The Doctor’s Girlfriend!!” (They even pulled one of our tweets as proof of this statement, thanks guys!) Never mind that Matt totally said it tongue in cheek.
  • Jenna is fresh off the success of Victoria and Matt made no bones about fawning over his former co-star? “You’re getting a Christmas Special? Bloody Hell!” HE’S SO PROUD OF HER.
  • Matt also has done the math for the character he plays in Netflix’s The Crown and Jenna’s Victoria. “Great-great-great-son-in-law. So TECHNICALLY we could get it on.” Okay, we’re all agreed that everyone was a little bit in love with Jenna, yes? Yes. Moving on.
  • There was a LOT of discussion about Arthur Darvill’s role on Legends of Tomorrow. “To me, he’s always Silly Old Rory with his strange face,” Matt quipped when asked if Arthur was better at playing a Time Lord-esque character than him. Alex added to the brain melting Whovian family tree by factoring in HER role as Sara Lance’s mother on Arrow. “My daughter on Arrow is now on Legends with my father. Technically, Rip is Sara’s grandfather?” THAT MAKES SHIPPING THEM PROBLEMATIC, WHOOPS.

Matt Smith Jenna Coleman Alex Kingston panel NYCC

  • Not seen in any of these pictures: Alex’s IMPRESSIVE statement ring.
  • Alex prefers Capaldi’s TARDIS to Matt’s. I also think she said this to rile Matt up because he was notoriously jealous that she went back to Doctor Who because he’s more than a little possessive of River as Eleven’s person. She also said that Ten’s TARDIS “felt a little like being inside a pumpkin.”
  • Jenna originally auditioned for Mels. “They were never going to cast me as Karen Gillan’s best friend because I’m just too short for her!”
  • Matt was asked when he would be following Karen and David’s lead by joining a Marvel franchise. “My question is…when will they ask me?” SOON PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
  • As tends to be the norm on panels like these, there was a lot of love for Billie Piper and Rose Tyler. Matt picked her as the companion he would have liked to have worked with (“She’s my friend and I like her.”) and Alex told a story of getting smashed with Bills at a bar after they did a convention together. Add that tidbit to the tales John Hurt told of drinking with Billie while they were filming the 50th and you have the person WE most want to party with from the Doctor Who family.
  • “It was amazing…I shit my pants though.” – Matt getting real about shooting the TARDIS arriving in Trafalgar Square for the 50th Anniversary.

Matt Smith Jenna Coleman Alex Kingston panel NYCC

  • Matt commented that some of his favorite scenes he filmed with Jenna were the more domestic scenes between Clara and Eleven. He specifically pointed out the scene in “The Bells of St. John” where Eleven set out a platter of Jammy Dodgers for a sleeping Clara which OUCH. Clara and the Doctor is SO REAL.
  • Drinking often proved the only way to battle the cold Welsh weather…or so Alex claimed when Matt called them out for drinking red wine all while filming “The Time of Angels” and “Flesh and Stone.”
  • Alex is in complete favor of River Song joining forces with Torchwood if the reboot happens. YES PLEASE OH MY GOD.
  • “He’s like a jazz musician. But in space.” – Matt perfectly summing up his interpretation of The Doctor.
  • “I quite like that one with The Devil.” – Matt picking his favorite RTD episode and proving that his taste is exquisite because “The Satan Pit” is FLAWLESS. Fight us.
  • The moderator dared to suggest that Clara was a bad teacher because she missed so much time on her adventures with The Doctor. Jenna shut that shit down IMMEDIATELY, reminding him that Clara’s agreement with The Doctor involved taking her back to the moment she left so she WOULDN’T miss anything in her normal life. Queen.

Matt Smith Jenna Coleman Alex Kingston panel NYCC

  • Doctor Who, at its core, is a show about love. In all forms. So put that in your pipe and smoke it.” – Alex Kingston, gloriously shutting down all the Noromo Whovians.
  • When the panel was asked if anyone ever broke anything on set, both ladies turned and pointed at Matt. “I am Matt and I am clumsy,” he said ruefully. The Drunken Giraffe is a real thing, y’all.
  • Jenna: “I broke the TARDIS on my first day. It was awful.” Matt: “You just broke my heart.” WHY IS HE LIKE THIS?
  • Alex hopped to Matt’s defense when one fan accused him of leaving the show too soon. “Do you KNOW how hard they work the Doctors?” Then she recounted Capaldi’s exhausting schedule while they were filming “The Husbands of River Song” and it made me want to take a nap.
  • “That’s one of my great regrets. That I didn’t get a full season with Jenna.” He also called her “Coleman” at one point, really we’re fine.

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