When I first started watching How I Met Your Mother, Robin Scherbatsky was the last character I'd have thought to crush on. She was introduced as a sort of "perfect girl" for the main character, she's so generically pretty you'd think she stepped out of a box of hair dye, and for the first couple seasons most of her funny lines fell flat. Surrounded by the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, and Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders seemed out of her league.
But then something happened. Robin broke up with Ted because she wanted to put her career first. Ted, on the other hand, wanted a solid commitment. (How I love when network sitcoms turn the tables on traditional gender roles.)...
Tonight's Law & Order episode will be based on the murder of Dr. George Tiller: a late-term abortion provider is murdered while attending church. The episode, titled "Dignity," will have "some significant twists of plot and character, with police officers and assistant district attorneys sometimes taking forceful stands on one side of the abortion debate or the other, only to later express doubt when their involvement in the case becomes more personal."
I have no aversion to the romantic comedy format. Show me a quirky heroine, a funny/cocky/cute love interest, a sassy best friend, etc. and I'll generally follow you anywhere. But, while ABC's Cougar Town has all of these things, I just wasn't interested. Why? Because the word "cougar" is in the title.
I've been trying to sit this whole "cougar" thing out since about 2006, but it just won't die. Why does this stupid word live on? The double-standard has been well noted: Men over 40 have been hooking up with younger women for ages, therefore it's sexist to have a derogatory term for women who do the same thing. Maybe the word has staying power precisely because it's been deemed derogatory. Now TV writers are deluding themselves that the word is both funny and controversial. (It's neither.)
Longtime readers may already know of my love for Gossip Girl's Chuck Bass, and it's only grown since he started being the best boyfriend ever to Blair Waldorf this season. But last night Chuck soared even higher in my heart when he a) kissed a dude and b) was nonplussed as ever.
It's hard to imagine that anyone in the audience for TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras has a deep passion for child beauty pageants. Okay, maybe there's a small contingent of fans who like frilly dresses and are impervious to real-time psychological trauma, but most can't help but be appalled by pageant parents' (read: moms') obsession with their children's ability to impress strangers who have god-only-knows what issues of their own (read: judges).
Well, my time here has come to an end, just in time for the new season of 30 Rock to premiere and me to consequently be able to get my Tina Fey on without thinking to myself, "Why do they keep implying there's something wrong with Liz! Liz is awesome! I call misogyny! Why does Scott Adsit's wife have a stupid accent and why are they talking about her not having any sex drive as if it was always the woman's fault if the dude has an affair? That's not subversive funny!!" Instead I just ate my sad-single-lady dinner pint of Phish Food with my furry feline and laughed to my blackened little heart's content and ignored problematic storylines.
But the curse is still upon me.
Case in point: I have been watching Friday Night Lights this week because a friend turned me on to it. In the spirit of full disclosure, I am only halfway through the first season. I watched most of that with said friend after we wore through the soles of our shoes walking the entire perimeter of Vancouver over last weekend. Friend is (at least) a proto-feminist, but I think I annoyed the hell out of her by consistently pointing out that the entire conceit of the show is drenched in white male privilege. I mean really, the base assumption of the thing is that all the white kids are good at heart but the real drug abusers and anger therapy-needers are the blacks and the Latinos. (It came complete with a depiction of a Latino lying about hearing a racial slur to get a white kid in trouble when in fact the racial slur came from a black guy because we know blacks are the real racists, natch.) The show is not wholly irredeemable - indeed I am continuing to watch and perhaps it will get better. But between the lack of meaningful screentime given to the female characters and Very Special episodes about racism in which the fundamental theme is that "white people don't mean any harm," it's never going to be the kind of show I can love in an unqualified way.
Sorry for so much Mad Men, but as my blogging stint approaches its end, I wanted to complete my little triad on the women of Mad Men - and I'm a little worried lately about Joan.
I'm worried because the last time we saw her she was no longer wearing that hairpiece and her walk was more tentative than usual. I'm worried because she married that frat boy douchebag which everybody says is so 60s of her except, I don't know about you, I seem to know a lot of otherwise redeemable women who married fratboy douchebag. (Some of them even had humanities degrees!) Most of all, I'm worried because Mad Men has tucked her away into some kind of "lost causes" sock drawer in terms of both screen time and character development.
Now, let me be clear: I have a difficult relationship with Joan, and more particularly with the way the show holds her up for us to fetishize. She's sooooo curvy! Look at her red hair! She wiggles so elegantly! I hate that the show uses her to do a lot of ass shots that, uprooted and placed in the context of a Gossip Girl or a Desperate Housewives, we would simply call gratuitous and let it be a day. I hate that Mad Men gets a pass on them because Christina Hendricks is gorgeous. I mean, she is gorgeous, but even though she is not a stick figure and there is value in having a woman like that be extremely sexual on the small screen, it still saddens me that she gets pigeonholed as the "bombshell" who is there for contrast with "plain" Peggy. The show, in other words, more or less leers at her, all the time and unapologetically - much like Roger does!
This morning, professional wrestler, Cyndi Lauper video star, and feminist antihero Captain Lou Albano passed away at the age of 76. For you youngsters out there who may not be familiar with Captain Lou (or even for those of us who are), you will absolutely not regret taking 12 minutes out of your day to watch this epic Lauper/Albano collaboration video, "Goonies 'R' Good Enough":
The epic tale! The always-confusing facial rubber bands! Captain Lou! Cyndi Lauper! The Goonies! It doesn't get any better than this, folks. That is unless you consider Captain Lou Albano's staging of a pro-wrestling event wherein he and Cyndi Lauper battled on MTV over sexist remarks called The Brawl to End it All a better story.
Now that The Simpsons has sold feminism the fuck out, I'd like to give props to one cartoon I can still count on. I'm talking about South Park, which, after 14 seasons, still offers up some of the finest social satire ever to grace the American airwaves.
Okay, so maybe it's not perfect. The main characters, Stan and Kyle, are baby bros who use words like "gay" and "pussy" as derogatory slurs, and Cartman's bigotry would make Archie Bunker blush. But as the boys navigate their world, they encounter a lot of hypocrisy—including sexist behavior. And when the writers bring their social scalpel to these situations, the results can be hilarious, heart-breaking, (potty-mouthed), and yes...feminist.
Don't tell Trey Parker and Matt Stone I love their pro-woman work, because they try hard to make sure every group gets ruthlessly ridiculed (it's how they avoid hypocrisy.) So until they animate Susan B. Anthony sniffing glue, let's celebrate some episodes well done. Enjoy!