“Oh, what a night!” – Oscar Fashion 2017

Posted by Maggie

I’m as intrigued by the details of the Best Picture mix-up as everyone else, but the real mystery is WHO WAS THE GUY ON THE RED CARPET IN THE PINK TUX?

Listen, I hurt my wrist trying to pause the TV at just the right angle to capture him so please do me a solid and help identify him because I love him. Hands down, fave male look of the year. Okay, let’s talk dresses.

BEST

Taraji P. Henson

Does it get any better than this? Sleek, sexy, elegant. Navy velvet, darlings, not black. The slit. That neckline. And those diamonds.

AND GOD BLESS HER FOR MAKING RYAN WAIT. She’s well worth it.

Auli’i Cravalho

This is quite possibly the best Oscar debut I have ever seen. I am in love with this dress and she wears it so well. I preferred this to the performance gown:

It has some structural issues with the bodice, yes? But I think that only stood out to me because the white and gold is flawless.

Ruth Negga

The queen has arrived to greet her subjects. No, seriously, check out the crown headband:

GORGEOUS. My only nitpick with the entire look is the earrings, which I noticed she took off at some point during the ceremony, so I feel validated.

And one last lingering look for the train.

Brie Larson

Look at her, she knows she nailed it. FINALLY. Where has this flair for the stylish dramatic been hiding?

This is the kind of moment I’ve wanted for her, I loved it.

I think we all felt for Brie when she had to hand the award to the problematic (let’s say) Casey Affleck for the second time this season, so let’s pause to appreciate this lovely moment between her and Emma Stone after Emma’s Lead Actress win:

Supportive female friendship always makes me feel better. You?

Emma Stone

Speaking of Emma, here we have another FINALLY moment. I wasn’t into the literal City of Stars gown for the Golden Globes and it’s best not to remember the SAG Awards look, but showing up in gold to collect your gold statuette? That I can get on board with. The top looks a little to me like the shape of a vintage bathing suit, but in a way that I respond really well to. And the fringe! I love a dress that has movement.

Viola Davis

Hello, gorgeous. Now, I don’t know how I’d feel about this neckline on someone else, but she’s pulling it off. I love this shade of red on her and the gold accessories were the perfect complement. I don’t even mind no red lip is how much this whole look is working.

Side note, is that her actual engagement/wedding ring because I absolutely love when people do that.

Meryl Streep

So at first you think, “Wow, Meryl looks amazing in this Elie Saab, suck it Karl Lagerfeld.”

To which, of course, she’s like “thank you, thank you.”

BUT WAIT:

PANTS YOU GUYS IT’S PANTS IT JUST GOT SO MUCH BETTER.

And THEN you think maybe your love for Meryl has reached peak levels for the night.

And you would be wrong.

Kirsten Dunst

B O M B S H E L L

I love the necklace.

The SHAPE of this gown, my god.

Pockets!

Red lip!

Shoes!

She killed.

Amy Adams

Tom Ford finally came through for Amy Adams, you guys. Look at this shimmery perfection.

This construction detail at the back interests me, I want to see more of it but I think she skipped the carpet because she didn’t get the nomination (which I’ve heard she absolutely deserved for Arrival).

But she’s not letting it ruin her good time. Cheers!

Chrissy Teigen

I love almost everything about this, but I think it was the sheer sleeve that really sold me. Honestly, I would change up the bodice a little, but the white and gold sparkles are so great on her and I’m really into the cape and the slit and the everything. Also, her earrings were definitely my favorite of the night.

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“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.

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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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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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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How Bridget Jones’s Baby Reminded Me That I Like Her, Just As She Is

Posted by Sage

As far as I’m concerned, Fielding had a duty to write a laugh-out-loud book about a female protagonist who’s in her 50s and fumbling realistically in a new stage of her life. I’m 30 and I hardly ever feel like I know what I’m doing. And I doubt that will change much in 20 years. Mid-life crisis Bridget is my future, or at least more likely than the standard Earth Mother or disenchanted adulteress. There is a gaping space for her in popular literature; and when I first heard about the sequel, I secretly hoped for a Bridget story so irresistible that the gang would come back together for movie #3.

So, back in 2013, I was sent a complimentary copy of the most recent Bridget Jones novel, Mad About the Boy. I read it. And then I reviewed it, to save anyone else who had an affection for the British singleton from doing so themselves. I am not being at all dramatic when I say that I hated every moment of it. It was a tone-deaf insult to everything I’d ever loved about the first two books and about their leading lady in general. Pushing aside for the moment that writer Helen Fielding MURDERED MARK FITZWILLIAM DARCY, Mad About the Boy celebrated a nasty, ignorant Bridget Jones who ignored her children, exhibited little self respect, and showed a shocking lack of growth for a character who’s tripped over as many things as she has. So when it became apparent that they really WERE going forward with a third Bridget movie, I was not the excited, nostalgic fan the marketing team was probably hoping for.

With trepidation comes the opportunity for a great and welcome surprise. Guys, Bridget Jones’s Baby is so god damn wonderful. I’m glad those Suicide Squad reddit fanboys didn’t succeed in their moronic efforts to shut down Rotten Tomatoes, because I probably wouldn’t have bought a ticket for this movie without that Certified Fresh rating.

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Source: galahaed

Source: galahaed

The first place the production went right was in retconning Mad About the Boy completely. If there’s a script for that adaptation lying around somewhere, I hereby give Hugh Grant full Head Over Feels authority to use it to light a fire in one of his country homes. Anyway, MARK DARCY LIVES. And he’s STILL FINE. Bridget Jones’s Baby is loosely based on some of Fielding’s newspaper columns, but introduces a new main character in Jack Qwant, an American matchmaking millionaire played by post-Derek Shepherd Patrick Dempsey and the second possible father for Bridge’s unborn child. Better than all of that, Bridget is the girl I remember, but with an actual emotional memory.

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Source: boothseeley

Source: boothseeley

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You Don’t Own Me- Life Lessons from The First Wives Club

Posted by Maggie and Sarah

Months ago, I saw a copy of First Wives Club on sale for $3 and instinctively picked it up, planning on finding it a good home (I’d already upgraded my VHS to DVD). That good home turned out to be with Sarah, who woke up a few weeks later to me screaming via text that I was a genius for thinking we had to reunite for a life lessons post (ICYMI, we collaborated on this one for Troop Beverly Hills and enjoyed the hell out of it). Delightful text thread aside, we were both immediately on board. Not only are we celebrating the 20th anniversary of this modern classic, but there’s a TV Land series based on the movie in development and the three leads are reuniting for a new project at Netflix centering around former members of a girls group (if they don’t perform “You Don’t Own Me”, so help me). What better time to take a look back? (Also, I wrote “90s are back, damn” in my notes for this and I don’t think Sarah will forgive me if I leave that gem out but seriously you guys, the 90s are back. Damn.). I highly recommend a rewatch if you haven’t seen this one in a while because it holds up. Everything the ladies go through is relevant today, and there’s still much to learn from our beloved Annie, Brenda and Elise.

-Maggie

First of all: Maggie IS a genius, and if you’ve followed her HOF posts, you already know this. Second of all: I can sleep better knowing our dear readers know that the 90s are back, damn. I remember seeing the First Wives Club VHS in my mom’s collection when I was a kid and thinking nothing more about it than how interesting it was to see the lady who sang “That ‘I’m beautiful dammit’ song” on the cover (I heard that song A LOT growing up and it’s still in heavy rotation now, thanks Mom). Once I and my undying love for the Divine Miss M grew, I finally saw for myself what an amazing movie this is, and continues to be. Sure, it’s fun and it’s extremely quotable, but the most important thing is that everyone can gain something from this. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never gone through a divorce, and it doesn’t matter what age you are. These ladies are doling out life lessons like crazy, and you just might take them to heart in the middle of all that laughing you’re doing.

-Sarah

It’s okay to eat alone.

This is such a fleeting scene, but it’s one of those things that makes me shout “WHY” at the screen every time I see it. Brenda sits down unaccompanied to a meal at a restaurant while literally everyone around her throws the most unnecessary side eye her way, and it’s incredibly frustrating. There’s a stigma to eating alone in public when there really shouldn’t be. Everyone at this restaurant obviously assumes that Brenda is lonely and therefore should be pitied, but since when are alone and lonely the same thing? And why is the default reaction to seeing someone eat alone condescension? A table for one doesn’t mean you’re unloved, so let’s start shedding the stigma, unwarranted side eye and all. Because sometimes, you want to take yourself out. Sometimes, nothing says “Me time” like a meal you didn’t cook and peace while you eat it. And sometimes, you’re just hungry and want to do something about it.

I mean, you’ve got to eat, right? So treat yo self. You deserve it.

-Sarah

The importance of self-care.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Elise is working out and says she gets her best ideas then, it clears her head and makes her think straight, everything makes sense. Unfortunately it’s not quite the same for me, I spend most of the time working out counting down the minutes until I can stop, but I do have a similar thing. When I do my hair and makeup in the morning, I get time just to myself, with no one making demands of me, and I’ve gotten tons of ideas and small breakthroughs then, sometimes for HOF posts, sometimes for work, even ways to solve problems with friends that have weighed on me. I usually have my phone on the bathroom counter and can make a note or send a quick text so I don’t forget. It’s a pretty simple thing to take that 45 minutes or so for myself, but it helps set me up to be in a good place for the rest of the day.

And listen, I think a lot of the time when people tell you to take care of yourself, they end it with something about how you can’t be any good to anyone else unless you’re good to yourself first. But forget about the part about everyone else. Whatever your self-care is, prioritize it. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself for you.

-Maggie

Anger is healthy.

Before it’s revealed that Dr. Leslie Rosen is a terrible person, sleeping with Annie’s husband while treating her (hi, morals are a thing and they’re helpful), she does have a valid point: Annie struggles with unexpressed anger at the beginning of the movie. Surely a product of her efforts to present a happy and trouble-free home life to the outside world, Annie opts for saying what she thinks people want to hear, rather than what she really feels. Look, I get avoiding unnecessary confrontation, and I understand the desire for keeping the peace, but not to the point where you think anger is forbidden. I love the scene where Annie gets absorbed in Dr. Rosen’s foam bat exercise because for a brief moment, she’s finally getting all that pent-up anger out before she even finds out about the affair. You shouldn’t have to swallow injustices, and you shouldn’t feel like expressing your true feelings is wrong. Keeping everything bottled up is a surefire way to self-destruction, so let it out if something bothers you. That weight off your shoulders will feel so wonderful.

-Sarah

“You’ve stopped apologizing for yourself all the time.”

Considering the way that Annie’s mother and soon-to-be ex-husband speak to her (“I don’t mean to criticize but you have no feeling for noodles,” “You couldn’t possibly pull off something like this” just for starters), it’s no wonder that somewhere along the way she lost that confidence to be unapologetically herself, out loud. But once she reconnected with Brenda and Elise and had the support she needed, Annie started to take back her agency and, as her daughter pointed out, she stopped apologizing for herself all the time. By the end of the movie, she’s telling Aaron to drop dead and dancing in the streets with her friends, belting out “You Don’t Own Me”.

Listen, if you make a mistake, if you hurt someone, of course you should own it, try to learn from it, and apologize — but women have got to stop giving in to the conditioning to apologize for speaking up, for merely existing. Raise your hand if you’ve ever proofread a work email before sending it and noticed an opinion or suggestion prefaced with “I’m sorry, but” *raises hand* It’s crazy to me that this is still a thing in 2016, but here we are. Sure, we have the first female presidential candidate from a major party, but does she get criticized for being shrill and told to smile? Of fucking course she does. I know firsthand it’s difficult and it’s a process, but pay attention to how often you apologize and for what exactly, and try to restrain yourself when all you’re doing is contributing to a conversation, whether it’s at work or with a significant other, friends, family. You deserve to take up some space in this world.

-Maggie

“Lesbians are great nowadays!”

Aside from being one of the best lines in this thing (come on, you know it is), the events that come after highlight the benefits of being open to social change. The scene where the ladies visit Chris at the lesbian bar is a standout, because each of them gets something positive out of it in spite of having little connection to the LGBT community: Brenda commiserates with a woman who’s in the same boat, Annie has a unique bonding moment with her daughter, and Elise is having the time of her life dancing her ass off. And all of that wouldn’t have happened if they succumbed to the discriminatory outlook on society that prevailed when they were Chris’ age.

We could even broaden this to include all women regardless of sexual orientation, because while the times were starting to change when the ladies graduated college together, there was still a twisted mentality about the roles of women in society. And in a way, you can see the progression of that mentality in the generations of Annie’s family. Up until the end of the film, her mother represents the antiquated theory that all you need is a husband to make you happy. On the other end of the spectrum is Chris, completely progressive and eager to give the men that wronged these women a taste of their own medicine. Annie sits somewhere in the middle, struggling to present a happy marriage on the surface, but starting to inch out of that as the movie progresses until she completely shuns the façade and becomes a happier person as a result.

Prejudices are taught, not inherent; growing up in a conservative town, I’ve seen it happen time and time again. But if you do your best to simply keep an open mind to what’s foreign to you, I promise you your life will be better because of it. It may not result in dancing in a gay bar (although, who knows?), but you will be subjected to so many wonderful experiences you will never have had otherwise. You will encounter amazing people you may not have expected to cross paths with. Not to mention, you will be one less person carrying unnecessary hate in their back pocket. And this world needs all the love it can get.

-Sarah

“I’m saying this to you with love, compassion and the spirit of true sisterhood: You are full of shit!”

When the ladies hit a low point in their journey, it’s obvious that Elise is drinking too much and feeling sorry for herself. She’s lost perspective and is full of excuses, leading Brenda to once and for all call her on her shit. Now, if Brenda didn’t care about Elise, she probably would have let her get away with claiming that she drinks because she’s highly sensitive (“I do have feelings. I’m an actress, I have all of them!”) and not pointed out the ridiculousness of Elise being surrounded by her image. But she does care, she doesn’t want Elise to continue on a downward spiral and that’s why she won’t let it go. When Elise was cleaning up after their fight, she stopped and took notice of how many empty bottles there were, when she might have breezed right past it without Brenda’s words in mind. And this is important: It’s Brenda that Elise goes to for help, it’s Brenda who she still trusts because she knows that when Brenda said “with love, compassion and the spirit of true sisterhood,” she meant it. Everyone needs this friend who’s not afraid to tell you the truth and then help you deal with it. I tend to call this the Miranda friend, after Sex and the City, but we can go with Brenda friend too. We’ve seen all too frequently what happens to public figures who surround themselves with yes men and lose touch with reality, so why chance it ourselves? While the truth may hurt sometimes, it’s necessary to hear and a true friend will use it to help you instead of hurt you.

-Maggie

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Climbing Mount Everest- A Celebration of Valley of the Dolls

Posted by Sarah

Cards on the table: I adore campy movies. When I want to unwind from the day with a flick, I will more often than not gravitate towards the She-Devils, Death Becomes Hers, and Mommie Dearests of cinema. I’m also low-key obsessed with anything that has Jacqueline Susann’s name attached to it. Her books, the film adaptations, that movie where Bette Midler plays her alongside Nathan Lane as her husband, which I still can’t believe is an actual thing. A resounding yes to all of that. So of course the crown jewel of the Susann empire, Valley of the Dolls, has a secure spot not only in my favorite books of all time, but also my favorite movies. But despite my penchant for camp, when I read that it would officially be part of the Criterion collection come September 27, I thought I was seeing things. I mean, really? Of all the movies, THAT one makes the cut?

Then I realized how much sense it made.

“But Sarah,” you say. “Look at the films that have gotten the Criterion treatment in the past. Valley of the Dolls isn’t even in the same league.” On the surface, it seems like a fair point. This movie is not good in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, it was absolutely trashed by critics upon its release; Roger Ebert cited it as containing “the most offensive and appalling vulgarity ever thrown up by any civilization.” (And the only reason I’m calling out this review in particular is because, in a hilarious twist, Ebert wrote the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. In no way a sequel, it was filmmaker Russ Meyer’s 1970 sexploitation, I-don’t-remember-dropping-acid-but-I-feel-like-I-definitely-dropped-acid, GOOD-GOD-WHAT-ARE-THEY-DOING-TO-EACH-OTHER film, which is also being released by Criterion on September 27. Seriously, Valley of the Dolls plays like a Disney movie compared to this.) Why does this film deserve a spot in the Criterion collection?

I’m so glad you asked.

Valley of the Dolls is not a cinematic masterpiece by any means. It’s quintessential camp that took itself far too seriously. It’s filled with overly emotive performances. It’s a full-fledged soap opera clocking in at a little over two hours. And it’s an important part of the pop culture lexicon. It spit in the face of expectations of submissive women while shining a light on sexism. The underlying themes are still completely relevant in 2016. Not to mention, it’s fun as hell to watch. So join me as I celebrate the near fifty-year reign of a cult classic. These are the things that make it Criterion worthy, and the things that make it required viewing for the camp enthusiast. This is proof that “good” is an entirely subjective concept, and what falls outside of the standard should not be dismissed.

Let’s get on this merry-go-round!

THE CRITERION FACTOR

Whether or not you care to admit it, Valley of the Dolls is an important point in the history of pop culture for a number of reasons. A quick glance at this movie, and it’s easy to label it as trash. Take a closer look, though, and you go beyond the mask of melodrama to see a film quite extraordinary for its time.

Feminism and camp are a wonderful mix

Despite whatever negative reactions it may have garnered, this was a big step in shedding the image of the submissive housewife. Yes, there were still boundaries to be broken (let’s not forget that The Brady Bunch, which premiered in 1969, originally intended for Carol to have divorced her first husband, but since that was still a taboo topic, they just didn’t mentioned what happened to him at all), but the times were definitely changing. The book and movie versions of Valley of the Dolls arrived on the heels of Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl, which stressed that being a single woman is *gasp!* not the end of the world, and single women should *GASP!* grab life by the horns and make what they want out of it. And when Jacqueline Susann sat down at the typewriter, she crushed the housewife “ideal” like it was a bug under her shoe. Thank god for that.

Anne Welles, Jennifer North, and Neely O’Hara are all bucking the system in Valley of the Dolls, but it’s Anne’s story that is perhaps the best example of this in the movie. She leaves her small hometown of Lawrenceville—and the man everyone expected her to marry—for a more exciting life in New York City. Right off the bat, you know that she’s not about to settle for less than what she wants out of life, as the voiceover accompanying her exit from New England makes clear: “I wanted a marriage like Mom and Dad’s, but not yet. First, I wanted new experiences, new faces, new surroundings. Lawrenceville would be there forever.” Girl, YES. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting married and settling down, but the fact that she not only recognizes there are other things to get out of life, but also recognizes her strong desire to take them, is everything for its time. Hell, it’s STILL everything.

Once her relationship with Lyon goes sour—i.e. he reveals that he can’t give her what she wants out of the relationship but fully expects her to still be down with sleeping with him in her childhood home, and bails when she refuses him—any heartbreak over it doesn’t keep her from taking her own successful path as the Gillian Girl. And when she hits her bottom after Lyon’s affair with Neely, she recognizes her need to get herself out of the situation and returns to Lawrenceville in search of a happier life, culminating in one of the most satisfying moments of the film. Lyon treks to Lawrenceville in an attempt to win her back—throwing out the possibility of marriage—and she responds by gloriously leaving him hanging out to dry.

Tables will turn, and Anne Welles will not have your shit.

Bey, Felicia.

Bey, Felicia.

Anne definitely fares better here than in the book, where (spoiler alert) she marries Lyon, has his child, finds out he’s cheating on her all over the place because he feels she emasculated him, but refuses to end the marriage on principle because hey, at least she’s got those dolls to distract her. As much as I tend to judge film adaptations based on what—if anything—they change from the source material, I love the movie ending so much more. Because Book Anne probably isn’t finding her situation anything to twirl around in the New England snow about, and dammit, she deserves to twirl.

These things are still happening today

One of the reasons Valley of the Dolls has endured for almost five decades is the fact that the things depicted in the pages and on the screen are still incredibly real in the present day. It’s so easy to pick out instances in the film that could easily happen in some capacity today. Let’s take ageism, for example. Helen Lawson calls herself a barracuda, and part of me believes that she wasn’t always like that, but grew into it the older she got. Because let’s face it: for the most part, viable roles are shaped for the younger generation of actors, and she refuses to be edged out of the game. It’s the logic behind Bellamy’s “Don’t give her that ‘I loved you when I was a little girl’ routine, or she’ll stab you in the back” quip. Even the slightest possibility of being upstaged by up and coming (and young) Neely leads Helen to demand the production drop her. And it’s probably at least partially responsible for her concealing her natural hair with a wig.

Then there’s the blatant sexism, which I would argue is a little more in your face in the book than it is in the movie; I recently reread the book for the first time in a couple of years, in that time forgot how much of an asshole Tony was in it and was legitimately heartbroken because I actually like the guy in the movie. But sexism is still everywhere on film—Bellamy refusing to hire Anne at first because she’s too good-looking, Bellamy’s “That’s not a girl, that’s my secretary!” at the notion of Anne becoming the Gillian Girl, and lest we forget Neely’s horrific experience in San Francisco—and since Jennifer is the showgirl of the group, it seems as though she’s subjected to the most obvious of it. You can tell that she wants people to see her as more than just a body, but the longer that doesn’t happen, the more she starts to believe that she has no talent, and is only what people see on the surface (the possible peak of this is when Miriam decides that the only way to keep paying Tony’s hospital bills is to enlist Jennifer to star in French art films). That belief has to be one of the things swimming around in her mind as she turns to suicide after the news of the mastectomy her breast cancer requires.

One of the biggest themes in the movie is the struggle with addiction (it’s right in the title, you guys), and Neely’s the one who truly embodies that. Jennifer and Anne also turn to pills at certain points in the movie, but Neely’s journey is the most troubled one. She quickly gets hooked on dolls, mixes them with booze, accidentally overdoses, does a stint in rehab, relapses to the point of not being able to go on stage during what was supposed to be her Broadway comeback, and ends the movie with a breakdown in the alley behind the theatre. In that time, you see her self-destructive behavior, her initial fight against any treatments the sanitarium provides for her before ultimately giving in. She betrays just about everyone close to her, and even when she thinks she’s got it licked for good, there’s still a tiny bottle of dolls there to tempt her into inevitable relapse. Melodramatic acting aside, it puts an enormous spotlight on how much of an illness addiction is, and how it’s not something one can simply quit on command.

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