“It’s not love, my dear. It’s fantasy.” – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap – Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?

Source: bunchofbloom

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Episode 10
“Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?”
Posted by Sage

Rebecca and Josh are that couple you hate. They’re the ones who make out during museum tours, text meaningless endearments all day, and won’t stop asking you if they’ve already told you about “that cute thing” the other did last week. They’re certainly the couple that HEATHER hates. But Rebecca has been clawing her way up this mountain for over a season and a half, so I’m inclined to let her enjoy the view from the top for a little while.

Their first two attempts to be together long forgotten by no one but themselves, Josh and Rebecca are insufferably optimistic about their future. Outwardly. Like on their Facebook, Waze, and Open Table feeds. But this precarious couple can’t escape the academic interpretation of the psych student/Vox reader they share an apartment with. And one way to throw the metaphorical cold water on some PDA-loving roommates is to force them to think about where they really stand. “You know, studies have shown that couples who post a lot on social media are often insecure about their attachment,” Heather explains to unconvincing dismissive scoffs. Josh and Rebecca are putting their happy couple face out into the world so that they’ll have no choice but to live up to it. Anyway: “Love fixes everything!”

Source: bunchofbloom
 

The lovebirds sing about their deliberate choice to ignore the differences that’ll probably screw them later in the genre that sounds most like happiness crying on the inside: disco. It’s the first real Josh/Rebecca duet we’ve gotten all season, and though it’s a song about love, it is definitively NOT a love song. (“Do you remember back when we had problems?” “Oh yeah! That was annoying.”) ’70s Heather can’t get through to their matching jumpsuit AU selves either, but she does get to look fabulous in some high-waisted bell bottoms. LET VELLA LOVELL DANCE MORE.

“Fine. I guess I’ll just Soul Train out of here.” Source: bunchofbloom

There’s no singing when Rebecca has a contrite coffee with Valencia, just an overdue talk between two friends who once swore not to fall back in the orbit of the same guy. Valencia doesn’t revert to her season 1 bitchiness; she doesn’t cast Rebecca off. But she doesn’t let her off the hook either, grading the current state of their relationship to “eh.” And because girl groups are forever (zigazow!), Valencia even tries to give Rebecca some advice about wanting too much too soon out of this relationship. “Don’t you see that Josh is like, all over the place and lost?” she asks. But Rebecca is willing herself to NOT see how ill-equipped her boyfriend is to be in a serious relationship. She’s blinded by having a date to take back to Scarsdale with her for her cousin’s bar mitzvah. Normally, she’d be dreading a weekend back in her mother’s house, but “love protects you!” Valencia laughs, bitterly.

Source: crazyexedits

Once of Josh’s more mature qualities is that he (unlike Rebecca) seeks out advice from people he trusts and actively tries to take it. Father Brah can’t reassure Josh that none of Rebecca’s older relatives will call him an “Oriental,” but he can make Josh admit the truth to himself. Josh is feeling the pressure of Scarsdale and reuniting with the woman who once asked him point-blank about the state of Rebecca’s hymen because his life is pretty empty except for this relationship. Father Brah doesn’t explain Josh’s problem to him; maybe because it’s more priest-like to let him figure it out for himself. Or maybe because he’s too busy scanning the trees for his weed stash.

Source: bunchofbloom

Of course, Josh and Rebecca fail to talk to each other about their trepidation, so they show up to Rebecca’s family home in New York equally paralyzed by the prospect of the weekend. And when you’re under Naomi Bunch’s roof, you’re better off if you present a united front. Boyfriend or no, the mortification starts right away for Rebecca. Naomi answers the door in her Spanx and bra, criticisms at the ready and halfway through the process of slathering La Mer over her entire body. (“I know it’s for my face, but for once I’m splurging on myself!”) It’s true, you DO have to let it sink in. And can I just say? Mazel tov, Tovah. Keepin’ it right, keepin’ it tight.

The bra twirling kills me. Source: bunchofbloom

Look, if you don’t regress back to your teen years the second you step into the house you grew up in, you are made of steel. Rebecca’s voice is two full octaves higher in Scarsdale. Her palm is permanently stuck to her face. But Josh doesn’t have the same complicated emotional history with Naomi as his girlfriend does. He finds Rebecca’s mom harmless and quirky, like a traveling show that he doesn’t really need to engage with. Rebecca is less than thrilled that Naomi and Josh are getting along so well. It’s a personal affront to her that they’re collaborating on challah French toast and learning about the problematic connotations of certain words. (“I knew it was racist, I just didn’t know why!”) Rebecca’s definition of the weekend “going well” was for her to have someone to commiserate about her family with, not someone who will challenge her unforgiving view of them. Naomi Bunch is a difficult woman, but she passed many of her traits down to her daughter, including her passion for, YOU GUESSED IT:

Source: bunchofbloom
 

Look at Josh’s face. Get on board or be left behind, buddy.

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“Once more unto the breach.” – Sherlock Recap – The Lying Detective

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Sherlock, Season 4, Episode 2
“The Lying Detective”
Posted by Sage

We are officially going around in circles. Then we are backtracking and going on random tangents and we don’t even get the satisfaction of tormenting Mycroft while we do it.

“The Lying Detective” brought so many of Sherlock‘s favorite devices limping back into an already overstuffed narrative. Were there fun moments? Sure. Was the emotion real? Sometimes. Did Martin Freeman break me with this acting? Absolutely. Even though the pacing of this episode made it an easier watch than “The Six Thatchers,” it still collapsed in the center under the weight of everything it’s trying to do.

Let’s start with Toby Jones as the odious Culverton Smith, a wealthy philanthropist who moonlights as a serial killer. I’m surprised any scenery was still standing after Jones chowed down on it all, but hey, that’s why you hire him. Culverton is the jolliest murderer you’ll ever meet and so eager to share his deeds with an audience that his board meetings always come with a complimentary mind-eraser. But who needs an explanation of why anyone would agree to be hooked up to such an IV, even if asked by someone they trusted, let alone a creepy little troll like this? There are cereal/serial killer jokes to be made!

Source: bbcsherlocksource
 

How many more times will Sherlock tell us that no, actually, THIS is the worst and most heinous criminal he’s ever encountered? Whatever their methods and motives, so long as Sherlock writes all its uber-villains to be overly articulate, pompous, joyously maniacal, and just half an IQ-point less sharp than its hero, those variations barely register. Andrew Scott’s Moriarty is unsurpassable. And yeah, the show blew that wad in season 1. But that’s no reason to turn every Conan Doyle bad guy into the same monologue-crazy gentleman psychopath.

So Culverton Smith’s taunting of Sherlock wasn’t as effective as it should have been. It did eat up plenty of time though. None of that time was spent explaining what Culverton’s endgame was or how he’d planned to get Sherlock in one of his hospital beds. (I don’t know how he could have anticipated what happened in the mortuary.) He grandstands with his guests in the children’s ward, behaving a way that made me wonder who would ever let him speak to kids, fortune or no fortune. Nothing about Culverton Smith is lovable. He’s off-putting and scary, even when he’s smiling. He’s so clearly operating on some strange and separate plane yet no one but Sherlock and Watson appear to be repulsed by him or even the slightest bit concerned. I wondered at first if we’re meant to be seeing his behavior through Sherlock’s eyes – that in his drug-stupor he was looking beyond the facade and into the guilt. The show could have also made a more trenchant point about the leeway we give to the rich. But as it was, Culverton’s strange personality just hung there, unexplained and unquestioned.

Source: sannapersikka

I’m going to put my murder weirdo hat on right now and say that it is EXTREMELY unusual for a serial killer to want to stand out like Culverton does. Some are extremely anti-social. Most blend seamlessly into their communities. Ted Bundy was famously charming. It’s not Culverton’s hinting at his atrocities that’s unbelievable, it’s that he’d draw attention to himself in other ways, putting his name on hospital wings and appearing on television. His methods are interesting though, and I do appreciate how the show melded the “The Dying Detective” plot with the very true and very fascinating story of H.H. Holmes, the serial killer doing big, big business in Chicago during the World’s Fair. (Have you read The Devil in the White City? You get on it, and Leonardo DiCaprio, get on that movie you promised me.) He’s committing mercy killings minus the mercy and he’s doing it in a tricked-out MURDER hospital. (“I like to make people into things.”) Still, Culverton Smith falls short of being the terrifying presence Sherlock intends him to be because THERE ARE NO VICTIMS. I mean, there are meant to be many, but why are they locked out of the story? It was a nice character detail to show Lestrade so broken after hearing part 1 of Culverton’s lengthy confession. (He’s a good man.) But without context, the whole case felt so…impersonal.

Source: londoncallingsigh

Naturally, it’s all about Sherlock, who we know from the episode title is keeping something from us. It’s back to another familiar well with the detective getting himself hooked to achieve a goal: this time, it’s to court the sympathy or at least the presence of John Watson. John, you’ll remember, decided to break all ties with Sherlock after the death of Mary.  His grief has left him temporarily incapable of taking care of Rosie, and he takes offense at his shrink approving that choice out of pity. “Why does everything have to be ‘understandable’?” he asks. “Why can’t some things be unacceptable? And we just say that?” John Watson is so alone, with no company but his dead but still cheerful wife.

It’s common in Sherlock for people to communicate with themselves by communicating with their concept of another person, usually, that’s achieved by Sherlock in his mind palace. But there’s something unkind about putting Mary in this position, following John around, existing to only motivate his participation in the world or to stir up his guilt. She’s dead and she still can’t catch a break. Selfishly, I loved seeing Amanda Abbington again. She’s a master of the reaction and made for a charming personal ghost – as nurturing, mischievous, and on Sherlock’s side as ever. And even though the manipulation was strong and so predictable, Mary’s presence broke up the anger that rightly dominated most of Martin’s performance in this episode. She tries to remind him: “John, you’ve got to remember, it’s important: I am dead.” But John refuses to register this information. His stubborn denial was this episode’s most moving moment, though I expect Team Johnlock will disagree. (I’ll get to it, dain’t you worry.)

Source: livingthegifs

High Sherlock is still a sight to behold and I applaud the unabashed Britishness of having Benedict Cumberbatch roaring the most famous speech from Henry V for no detectable reason other than his training. (Question: if Sherlock doesn’t need room in his brain for the solar system, how come Shakespeare gets a spot? Answer: He’s a romantic, duh.) The visual bravado of the scene comes to its slow-mo/sped-up climax when Mrs. Hudson drops Sherlock’s tea so that she can get a grasp on the gun he’s been waving around. (“Of course I didn’t call the police, I’m not a civilian.”) And prepare to hate me, because I’m about to rain on your Hudders parade.

“That’s good.” Source: livingthegifs

I miss the subtlety of early Sherlock, where Mrs. Hudson would make reference to her checkered pass and then chuckle and pass the biscuits. (That never happened exactly so, but you get the drift.) Now all subtlety is gone. Mrs. Hudson drives an Aston Martin like a coked-out 007 and evidently has the upper body strength necessary to shove a 6′ tall man into the boot before she does it. She doesn’t need to do these things to prove to me that she’s a badass. She always has been; those original episodes show us that she endures what Sherlock puts her through because she cares about him but also because she loves the danger.

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“It’s like, could he be more of a white?” – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Recap – Who Is Josh’s Soup Fairy? & When Do I Get to Spend Time with Josh?

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Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Season 2, Episodes 8 & 9
“Who Is Josh’s Soup Fairy?” and “When Do I Get to Spend Time with Josh?”
Posted by Sage

How’s this for a meaningful coincidence? The sort-of hardworking employees of Whitefeather & Associates got their reprieve the very same week that the CW announced that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend will be back for season 3. Here in 2017, that feels like a political statement. That heat map that’s going around says that CXG is the Netflix show most popular in the liberal hotbeds of New York, California, and Oregon. Its ratings are minuscule in comparison to CBS’s block of comedies designed to bring out the very worst in your parents’ friends. But the CW doesn’t care that middle America isn’t tuning in to watch a size 8 Jewish woman sleep with a Filipino man and sing about her clinical depression. That’s one vote in favor of quality over quantity. Congratulations, you crazy weirdos. You deserve this.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend came back from its brief winter hiatus with a double-dose of episodes that did feel like two halves of a whole. “Who Is Josh’s Soup Fairy?” and “When Do I Get to Spend Time with Josh?” resolved the argument that’s been keeping Paula and Rebecca apart for weeks. It had to, because that storyline hit its highest point with their epic ’80s love ballad, “You Go First.” But what I wasn’t expecting quite so soon was another reconciliation between Rebecca and Josh, this time with Josh as the pursuer.

But first: the ladies. What really destroyed me about Scott’s confession is that it happened in a moment of imperfect domestic happiness. The Proctors don’t know how to send their delinquent children out into the world with a normal bagged lunch, but they’re up every morning doing their best. And Paula seems content with this life, as madcap as it is. And then it blows up, right in her face. It hurts too because Scott DOES love his wife, and more than that, we’ve seen this season how much he respects her. He stood by her decision to go to law school. He stood by her decision to terminate her pregnancy. But Scott is evidently feeling the strain more than she is and makes a really thoughtless, awful mistake. Paula kicks him out because she can’t see any other option. And then she brings all that baggage with her to work and has a meltdown over her daily iced mocha. I don’t think I’ve ever identified with Paula more than when she’s shaking empty ice trays at her coworkers and bellowing, “What MAN did this?”

Source: thecopyleftist
 

When Rebecca spies a weakness in another person, she performs some quick mental calculus on how to use it to her best advantage. The standoff doesn’t stand if Paula’s in crisis; Rebecca can only apologize while under the impression that she has the proverbial upper hand. As her best friend cries, Rebecca simultaneously sees her chance to finally make things right AND misjudges the situation completely. Her dramatic display of being the bigger person doesn’t go over well, but it DOES pull a lecture out of Mrs. Hernandez, who evidently talks “all the time.” Never forget that Rebecca Bunch is one hell of an unreliable narrator.

Source: bunchofbloom
 

The shaming doesn’t put her off though. Rebecca shows up to Paula’s house offering her unsolicited nannying services so that Paula can go on her “weird adult field trip” with her law school classmates without her house spiraling into the final act of a Hunger Games book. (“Just a dystopian nightmare. Children fighting for food, trying to kill each other…”) It’s a show of solidarity, and Rebecca legitimately wants to help Paula out. But it’s also a chance for her to try on motherhood for a weekend and prove that she’d be better than all the other moms. (“I could be a good mom if I wanted to be a good mom.” I MISS GREG.) She’s a philanthropist in the way that Cher Horowitz is a philanthropist: being nice to prove a point about how good she is at being nice. (“You know, if I ever saw you do anything that wasn’t 90% selfish, I’d die of shock.”) Paula tries to warn her that she’s volunteering for a suicide mission. (“Parenting turns you into well, me.”) But Rebecca has listened to half an episode of a child-rearing podcast and she won’t hear it. She sends Paula out the door to some New Jack Swing.

Rebecca’s plans for a quiet Netflix Saturday with Tommy are shot when they run into Josh “ohmigod it’s my ex” Chan, getting some supplies for his incoming cold. He wants to be in tip-top shape for a mysterious gig at a sponsored party at Spider’s, even though his lady won’t be able to make it. (“Let’s just say I’m ‘in-volved.'”) Another imperfection? It’s Rebecca’s kryptonite. The story of Josh’s sniffles prompts the most poetic chicken soup delivery of all time. (I love her Jewish rage at the lack of matzoh balls in West Covina.) In doing something nice for Josh, she sees her chance to give something to him that Anna isn’t. Rebecca’s professional ability to hide her own intentions from herself are on full display. But hey, a sick guy got his soup.

He’s so happy, too. Josh wants to be mothered. (Not like Hector wants to be mothered, but still.) He’s not wild about commitment, but I think that’s because he’s always had the power in the relationship. He’s very aware that Anna is cooler, richer, and more cosmopolitan that he is, so despite how freaked out he was playing house with Rebecca, here he’s grasping for some proof that Anna really is into him. So when the note gets ruined by some leakage, he assumes that Anna is his benefactor. Rebecca cannot deal with the idea that Josh be ignorant of who really gifted him that warm, broth-y goodness, so she drags her young charge to the club to take the credit.

Source: bunchofbloom
 

Rebecca is the kind of person who would get a child a fake ID so she can take him to a bar. But this town is the kind of place that would let that kid into the bar even though he’s clearly not an adult named Manuel. It’s a bonkers plan that’s obviously going to end in disaster, but Rebecca can’t stand being an anonymous donor. Unfortunately, when she and Heather are looking all over Spider’s for Tommy, they miss Josh’s big “career move.” This scene is a triumph in the telegraphing of secondhand embarrassment. Erick Lopez and especially David Hull are magnificent here as two friends looking on in horror as their bro takes his male mall modeling debut with stone-faced seriousness. (“I’ve left my body. I’m floating above this room looking down.”) What I would give to have seen Greg’s reaction to this.

Source: bunchofbloom
 

The display bursts Anna and Josh’s sex bubble. In the break-up, he realizes that she wasn’t his generous “soup fairy.” Hector (A PAL) calls the diner to see who the sender really was and everyone but Josh figures it out easily when they hear that the note quoted Shakespeare. He’s just been rejected by someone with more social capital; Anna’s not cruel, but she comes right up to the line of laughing in his face. (“It might have been when the sleeves came off? Oh my god, this is bad.”) So Josh ping-pongs BACK over to the one person who thinks he can do no wrong – that everything he does or says is worthy of worship: Rebecca. Is it healthy? Fuck, no. But his realization leads to another inspired Josh number: the Bieber-like “Duh.” (“It’s like, HELLO?”)

Rebecca arrives back at Paula’s defeated and less one preteen. Paula came home early, and Rebecca is prepared for her to sever all ties between them when she finds out she lost Tommy. But Tommy is home and he ain’t no snitch. Why would he rat out a babysitter who hands out hundos like they’re Monopoly currency? (Wow, Rebecca REALLY has a money problem.) Then Josh shows up and Rebecca has a way out. It’s finally happening. She can stop chasing him. And Paula gives her full permission to go. But Rebecca can’t walk out knowing that she very nearly lost Paula completely. She sends Josh packing for the time being and ‘fesses up to Paula. Paula’s like, bitch, I TOLD you being a mom was hard. (“Honey I lost him for an entire weekend at the mall once.”) No one knows better than Paula how Rebecca can turn off her huge brain and small amount of decency whenever Josh wants her. But she postponed their reconciliation to be with Paula, and that means everything.

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“The danger was the fun part.” – Sherlock Recap – The Six Thatchers

Source: 1985

Sherlock, Season 4, Episode 1
“The Six Thatchers”
Posted by Sage

As dangerous as it is to hand too much of a popular series over to fanservice, so too is it to treat your audience like adversaries. That’s the feeling I got when I watched the Sherlock Season 4 premiere — like the show was all puffed up and encroaching into my space, daring me to turn against it. “Give the people what they want,” John says. “No, never do that,” Sherlock counters. “The people are stupid.” Why do I get the feeling they were talking about us?

Where was the joy? The giddiness? I felt like my heart would burst during the majority of Season 3. I was so happy to be back watching such a clever and sleek show with characters I adore. Not here. Sherlock is always self-aware, but usually in a way that lets fans share its ego. This episode felt interminably long, because it seemed as if we were no longer included in the fun. “The Six Thatchers” was a dour installment that set up what looks to be a dour season. As Mary says in her video message to Sherlock, “The danger was the fun part.” A slow march to the gallows is not.

The case isn’t tremendously important, but the circumstances surrounding Sherlock’s return are. He must have subconsciously worked out the majority of his issues with the ghost of James Moriarty during his drug trip in “The Abominable Bride,” because “The Six Thatchers” finds him interested in the villain’s next move in his “posthumous game,” but not so preoccupied as to withdraw from life. (This is Sherlock Holmes we’re talking about, the measure of successful social interaction is different.) Anyway, Lady Smallwood, Mycroft, and the rest of their Rulers of the World knitting circle make quick work of absolving Sherlock of the murder of Charles Augustus Magnussen. They rescind his death sentence so he can sniff out the metaphorical bomb Moriarty left ticking away somewhere in London, and Sherlock is only too delighted to tell them that there’s currently nothing to be done in that regard. (“I’m the target. Targets wait.”) He returns to Baker Street and his expectant friends.

Source: sirjohnwatsons
 

Unsurprisingly, my favorite parts of this episode were all domestic. Pregnant Mary heaving about the flat, weighing in on cases. Sherlock’s amused smile when John and Mary simultaneously shut down his offer to give their unborn baby his name. Molly teaching Mrs. Hudson how to focus John’s camera. Sherlock trying to explain his rather reasonable expectation that Rosamund Mary Watson NOT throw a toy back at him that she appears to want. Greg and another Scotland Yard officer making small talk on the landing while they wait for their consultant to be free. Sherlock showing off photos of his godchild to his brother, who offers the kindest compliment he can muster: “Looks very…fully-functioning.”

Source: sherleck

Finally, Giles Greg offers up a case that’s worthy of more than a chat in the living room with Sherlock and John’s balloon stand-in. But determining the cause of the sad end of Charlie Wellsbury isn’t something to be done with a Holmesian flourish. The most dastardly thing the family has done is to have a shrine to Margaret Thatcher.  And though she was no picnic, that certainly doesn’t make them deserving of what happens to their son. This boy cut a trip of a lifetime short to travel thousands of miles to wish his father a happy birthday. He dies alone; his body is burned beyond recognition. But there’s no murderer but Death himself. Death does not always arrive in the body of enemy, but it always gets its man. In the market at Baghdad or outside an English estate.

Sherlock has tossed off condolences before, but he’s never sounded more genuine than when he tells the Wellsburys how sorry he is for their loss. Would it have been any comfort if the great Sherlock Holmes could have identified some nefarious plot and apprehended an assassin on whom they could lay their anger and grief? Maybe. As it is, it’s a hopeless, purposeless death that propels the rest of the episode.

“Well, I like you.” Source: 1985

The episode lags a bit after Sherlock discovers that first missing bust of The Iron Lady. Because the busts don’t matter – only what’s contained within. The dog sequence is cute, but unnecessary. There’s only the symbolism of the market, and the episode was heavy on the symbolism already. Craig is a chubby and bespectacled hacker stereotype in a show that doesn’t need one. (One of the most thrilling things about Sherlock is that – besides the texting – the detective is rather old-school in his methods.) Anyway, while I understand that A.J. is a broken and desperate man, I would think that a world-class secret assassin would know when he was creating a pattern. But he doesn’t, and Sherlock heads him off at the home of one of those crazy Thatcherites. It was brilliant throughout, but I want to especially acknowledge the work of first-time Sherlock director Rachel Talalay here in the fight scene, particularly as A.J. and Sherlock grappled in the pool.

Sherlock gets the upper hand, smashes the bust, and then looks among the shards for the Black Pearl of the Borgias – a link to Moriarty. Instead he sees Mary’s A.G.R.A. flash drive. Sherlock said earlier that he knows when the game is on because it’s his lifeblood and what used to be his only bliss. But Sherlock’s eyes are panicked as he tries frantically to discern who this man is and how he’s linked to his friend. This isn’t a game he wants. It’s all well and good when he’s playing fast and loose with his own life. But there’s nothing to love about a threat to Mary, John, and their baby girl.

Source: rosegoldsherlock
 

Confronted with the drive, Mary tells Sherlock what the acronym means and why she and her three compatriots each carried one. Their last mission went belly-up during a coup in Georgia; Mary believed she was the only one who’d escaped alive. Her past is catching up to her again. And though she’d prayed it wouldn’t, she’s been honing a protocol for that very occasion. Because Mary is a PRO. Since the moment he met her, Sherlock has known that Mary Watson is capable of taking care of herself. He even tries to send John home to be on baby duty in this episode so that he can Mary can follow a lead together. She’s a combination of Sherlock and John: an intelligence agent AND a soldier, smart, always aware, and willing to do what is necessary. She goes on the run – a wife and mother throwing her own peace away so that she can protect her family. And what does Sherlock do? He undermines her agency by tracking her movements and then going to COLLECT her, like an errant child.

Source: sir-mycroft

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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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The Top 20 Television Moments of 2016 – Part Two

Posted by Kim and Sage

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

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

Source: killbill.tumblr.com

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

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

Source: prettylittlegreene.tumblr.com

2) Beyonce SLAYS the VMAs

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

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

source: conzyricamora.tumblr.com

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

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

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

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

source: conzyricamora.tumblr.com

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

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

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

source for both gifs: forcewakens.tumblr.com

5) The Spy’s Goodbye – Agents of SHIELD

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

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

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

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

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

7) Elliot confronts Tyrell – Mr. Robot

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

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

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

gifs via mrrobotsource.tumblr.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Top 20 Television Moments of 2016 – Part One

Posted by Kim and Sage

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

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

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

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

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

2) The #HamilTonys

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

4) The Blood Threesome – Penny Dreadful

Rest in peace, Penny Dreadful. You crazy bitch.

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

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

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

5) Murtagh gets his vengeance – Outlander

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

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

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

Source: talesofnorth

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

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

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

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

Source: crazyexedits
 

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

Source: bunchofbloom
 

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

Source: bunchofbloom
 

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

Source: bunchofbloom
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