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Everybody Wants to be Us

Graduate Student at Loyola University Chicago. Check out the blog for what I'm currently obsessed with in film and culture. Michael Fassbender, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Winslet, Christian Bale, Jesse Eisenberg, David Lynch, David Fincher, Christopher Nolan, Martin Scorsese, and Daniel Radcliffe are regulars here.

#TV

"Hello Lovah!"
Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker

"Hello Lovah!"

Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker

To “Mad Men” With Love.

Come Back Soon. 

dceiver:

theatlantic:

What Veep Gets Wrong (and Right) About Washington

It’s weird that the emerging consensus on HBO’s Veep is that it’s unenjoyable because it’s not realistic, and it’s not realistic because it’s too cynical, given that the meme for the last two or 20 years has been that Washington is broken.
The show, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as an unprincipled and powerless vice president was endorsed as quite accurate by Jeff Nussbaum, who served as a speech writer for two vice presidents. Nussbaum told GQ’s Reid Cherlin that Veep hits the mark with its wall-to-wall cussing (including “pencil f—king”), the portrayal of patronizing presidential staff, the terrible advice offered by civilians, the codependency of some aides, and even the sets. And yet, it is wrong, all wrong—at least according to political reporters.
“If the aim of this show is to get viewers to disrespect everybody in elected office, mission accomplished,” The Daily Beast’s Eleanor Clift writes. On Slate’s Political Gabfest, David Plotz said, “The West Wing was inaccurate in that it left out all the incompetence, hilarity, vanity, self-obsession, narcissism of American politics, and this show left out all the idealism and attempt to accomplish things in American politics… But as it happens, this is a moment when there isn’t a lot being accomplished in American politics, so maybe it rings more true.” Plotz’s colleague, John Dickerson, reported that, no, it’s worse: “A show that’s so soaked in cynicism about politics as a work of art smacks as lazy.” […]
The West Wing’s idealism was more accurate than Veep’s cynicism, Macleans‘ Jaime Weinman says, because “if you look at political gridlock today, and the causes of it, you’ll often find that it’s caused by anincrease in idealism, and more idealistic people working in government. In the U.S., there’s a lot of hand-wringing about gridlock and the inability of government to get anything done, but the reason for that is that ideology is more important than it ever was before.”
Maybe it depends on how you define “before.” The idea that “Washington is broken” is certainly repeated endlessly these days. Take, for example, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake explaining why Sen. Bob Portman’s support among political insiders makes him a bad choice for vice-president. “People really, really dislike politicians,” they write. “They hate Washington. They think politics is broken — maybe irreparably.” Maybe irreparably? Americans sound primed for a cynical show!
Read more at The Atlantic Wire. [Image: HBO]


Can’t say anything about Veep, I haven’t seen it. But I’m amazed at these assessments of The West Wing. David Plotz has somehow gotten it into his head that The West Wing, “was inaccurate in that it left out all the incompetence, hilarity, vanity, self-obsession, narcissism of American politics.” Point and laugh at David Plotz, ladies and gentlemen. There was plenty of incompetence (the show’s pilot is paced forward by a moment of incompetence), lots of hilarity, an abundance of vanity and self-obsession (two characters were speechwriters, after all) and as for narcissism, well there was a whole very special episode about 9-11.
Even still, what most people don’t seem to remember about the show is that while it did set off with this sort of “go-get-em, public service served up with pluck and gumption” mentality, it eventually passed from Aaron Sorkin’s hands to John Wells, whose idea of what makes good television drama is numbingly melancholy romantic entanglements. By the time the show had entered it’s later years, it was nearly joyless, though there was some redemption to be had in its final season.
I think it’s smart for political reporters to “get out in front of” Veep, since given enough time, I’m sure that Armando Ianucci will get around to depicting them as the typically cosseted and unbearably thin-skinned pussies that they really are.

Totally right about “The West Wing” decline post-Sorkin.  I’ve seen the first two episodes of “Veep” and totally love it.  As a huge “In The Loop” fan, I love the over the top vulgarity and the friendly hatred many of the characters have for one another.  I think this is going to be a great show.  
I wouldn’t get my TV advice from a political reporter.  

dceiver:

theatlantic:

What Veep Gets Wrong (and Right) About Washington

It’s weird that the emerging consensus on HBO’s Veep is that it’s unenjoyable because it’s not realistic, and it’s not realistic because it’s too cynical, given that the meme for the last two or 20 years has been that Washington is broken.

The show, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as an unprincipled and powerless vice president was endorsed as quite accurate by Jeff Nussbaum, who served as a speech writer for two vice presidents. Nussbaum told GQ’s Reid Cherlin that Veep hits the mark with its wall-to-wall cussing (including “pencil f—king”), the portrayal of patronizing presidential staff, the terrible advice offered by civilians, the codependency of some aides, and even the sets. And yet, it is wrong, all wrong—at least according to political reporters.

“If the aim of this show is to get viewers to disrespect everybody in elected office, mission accomplished,” The Daily Beast’s Eleanor Clift writes. On Slate’s Political Gabfest, David Plotz said, “The West Wing was inaccurate in that it left out all the incompetence, hilarity, vanity, self-obsession, narcissism of American politics, and this show left out all the idealism and attempt to accomplish things in American politics… But as it happens, this is a moment when there isn’t a lot being accomplished in American politics, so maybe it rings more true.” Plotz’s colleague, John Dickerson, reported that, no, it’s worse: “A show that’s so soaked in cynicism about politics as a work of art smacks as lazy.” […]

The West Wing’s idealism was more accurate than Veep’s cynicism, Macleans‘ Jaime Weinman says, because “if you look at political gridlock today, and the causes of it, you’ll often find that it’s caused by anincrease in idealism, and more idealistic people working in government. In the U.S., there’s a lot of hand-wringing about gridlock and the inability of government to get anything done, but the reason for that is that ideology is more important than it ever was before.”

Maybe it depends on how you define “before.” The idea that “Washington is broken” is certainly repeated endlessly these days. Take, for example, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake explaining why Sen. Bob Portman’s support among political insiders makes him a bad choice for vice-president. “People really, really dislike politicians,” they write. “They hate Washington. They think politics is broken — maybe irreparably.” Maybe irreparably? Americans sound primed for a cynical show!

Read more at The Atlantic Wire. [Image: HBO]

Can’t say anything about Veep, I haven’t seen it. But I’m amazed at these assessments of The West Wing. David Plotz has somehow gotten it into his head that The West Wing, “was inaccurate in that it left out all the incompetence, hilarity, vanity, self-obsession, narcissism of American politics.” Point and laugh at David Plotz, ladies and gentlemen. There was plenty of incompetence (the show’s pilot is paced forward by a moment of incompetence), lots of hilarity, an abundance of vanity and self-obsession (two characters were speechwriters, after all) and as for narcissism, well there was a whole very special episode about 9-11.

Even still, what most people don’t seem to remember about the show is that while it did set off with this sort of “go-get-em, public service served up with pluck and gumption” mentality, it eventually passed from Aaron Sorkin’s hands to John Wells, whose idea of what makes good television drama is numbingly melancholy romantic entanglements. By the time the show had entered it’s later years, it was nearly joyless, though there was some redemption to be had in its final season.

I think it’s smart for political reporters to “get out in front of” Veep, since given enough time, I’m sure that Armando Ianucci will get around to depicting them as the typically cosseted and unbearably thin-skinned pussies that they really are.

Totally right about “The West Wing” decline post-Sorkin.  I’ve seen the first two episodes of “Veep” and totally love it.  As a huge “In The Loop” fan, I love the over the top vulgarity and the friendly hatred many of the characters have for one another.  I think this is going to be a great show.  

I wouldn’t get my TV advice from a political reporter.  

Learning Curve : Mad Men Season 5

Episode 4, “Mystery Date,” was foundational for Peggy Olson.  More than most characters, she continually reinvents herself season by season, experimenting and choosing different characters to emulate.  Even as Peggy assumes these different roles, they never seem to fit her completely.  Like Don, what drives Peggy is often imperceptible.  Why did she take up with Duck? How does she really feel about children? What does she think of Megan?

Like Don, Peggy is striking her own path while going to great lengths to distance herself from the past. Unlike Don, there’s no model or blueprint for Peggy to follow. She’s the first and often the only woman in her situation.  In each decision, Peggy weighs what her male colleagues say and her intuition.  In hiring Michael Ginsberg, Peggy comes up against her desire to work with talented people and Stan and Roger’s warning about being replaced by him eventually. When Roger comes into her office, Peggy reacts exactly how he would, sexual innuendo and a relaxed demeanor.  When she senses his desperation, she maintains her upper-hand, like Don would, and comes away with $400 dollars. Peggy experiments with these different personas and comes out on top.   

As the first and the only in her situation, Peggy has a natural empathy and openness to people. Her interaction with Dawn towards the end of the episode was a provocative look at that aspect of Peggy’s character, without being topical. Peggy naturally reaches out to Dawn, seeing similarities and ways to connect: being Don’s secretary and keeping up with civil rights through Abe. Yet, Peggy still has much to learn. Assuming Dawn wants to be a copywriter, Peggy may think all women share in her dream and either haven’t been given their shot or don’t have her confidence to get there.  In her mind, she’s building some kind of female solidarity bond with Dawn, ready to take her under her tutelage like Joan or Freddy did.  

Yet, when she takes that hesitant look at her purse, the truth of their situations are dramatically revealed.  Elizabeth Moss and Teyonah Parris as Dawn are incredible in that scene.  The looks they give each other along with the editing hit you and leave a lingering discomfort.  That scene reminds us and Peggy that despite how difficult it was for women in the 60’s, there is no comparison between Peggy’s struggle and Dawn’s reality. Dawn can’t even get a cab home. Dawn may be fired at any time for no reason at all.  Any employment, would have been her ambition. They may have something in common but are worlds apart.  Peggy’s nascent attempt to befriend Dawn crashes down around her not because she’s being racist, but because they’re living in a time where it’s just not possible. Peggy’s trial and error is one of the most exciting aspects of the show and Moss delivers every time, especially in this episode. 

Homecoming: Mad Men Season 5

Matthew Weiner is starting to scare me.  How could he have known that I had spent the entire weekend watching all of “Twin Peaks” when he cast Madchen Amick as Don’s mysterious paramour in the elevator.  I could barely contain my glee- “There’s Shelly Johnson!”  Beyond that, episode 4 was AWESOME! I’m still pondering days later.  Narrative style, character development, and story wise; everything was incredible.  

Yet it was Joan’s story line that captured my special attention.  From the pilot, Joan Holloway has been my favorite character.  She’s bright and knows people - not just men- better than anyone else on the show. Back in Season 3 where Don and Co. wanted to start a new agency, I cheered when Joan came back to make their ideas into action.  Joan is the definition of Margaret Thatcher’s quote,”If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” Not only that, she can effortlessly turn simple answers into sage advice or condemnation.

Despite my admiration, Joan’s marriage to Greg has always been a curious aspect of the show.  Greg is more of a cipher for Joan’s discontent than an actual partner for our heroine. He rarely drives the story and barely offers any sort of real challenge to Joan.  The nagging question around Joan’s marriage was never why she’s stayed married to him, but how much she is willing to sacrifice for her now hollow dream.  When will enough be enough?  

The answer is now.  In one of the most thrilling moments of the show, Joan ends her disappointing marriage.  It’s a reminder that these characters have complicated relationships with their past.  On “Mad Men” the past is always lingering in the background and writers keep heighten even the smallest moments around whether a character will push against their former choices or submit to them. Whether a flash of recognition, a funny moment suddenly soured by a memory, or a silent reconciliation across the office lobby, “Mad Men” uses a character’s history to great effect. 

Joan’s line of “You’re not a good man. You never were. Even before we were married and you know what I’m talking about” catapults us like a time machine back to the floor of Don’s office where her dreams turned into a violent nightmare. She doesn’t need to explain to Greg or us, because I’ve never forgotten her face in that episode (“In the Hall of the Mountain King”) and never will.  Yet, that tragedy is replaced by another image in this episode: Joan lying in bed with her son Kevin and mother. Not quite the family she planned and worked to fashion, but a family all the same. 

Joan Holloway is back. 

HBO’s newest comedy “Veep” premieres in April and I can hardly wait.  It stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the Vice President and follows the crazed mundanity of her office.  Armando Iannucci created the series and after “In The Loop” everything he does is mandatory.  ”In The Loop” is one the funniest film I’ve ever seen, while also being the best satire around of the lead up to the Iraq war and government bureaucracy in general.  ”Veep” promises to bring down more comedy and criticisms.  

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