Community finally returns tonight for its fourth season, and I, for one, could not be more excited. While Community has been off the air since last season's finale in May, fans' grumblings over changing premiere dates and show times has attracted some serious backlash. What's the big deal with this show, anyway? Folks complained that Community is too weird, too meta, too full of Chevy Chase's sour, unlikable antics (Chase, incidentally, left the show mid-season).
Community's detractors and skeptics take issue with the show's heavy reliance on parody (each episode is loosely organized around a well-known film or genre—Thursday's episode is rumored to borrow from The Hunger Games), sometimes-obscure verbal and visual pop culture references, and constant potshots aimed at the show's shabby fourth wall. But Community's weirdness and fondness for self-reference are precisely what set it apart from other sitcoms' bland, recycled jokes and story lines. Its penchant for parody does more than plant Easter Eggs for film geeks. All of these tactics put Community in a position to be, well… feminist.
RuPaul's Drag Race! I watch every episode! Project Runway meets drag queens creates a weekly spectacle so hilarious that I'm unable tear my eyeballs away from the TV screen! Last week, I illustrated my favorite six moments from the Drag Race season premiere. Here are my six picks from the season's second fabulous episode, where talented and insane drag queen performance artists lip-synch for their very lives and 100 grand in prize money!
Sports pundits are still be trying to make yesterday's Super Bowl all about the actual game (and yes, that 108-yard touchdown was pretty impressive), but let's be honest with ourselves—the real winner of the game was Beyoncé's halftime performance. And not just because she didn't lip sync or because of the holograms, but because of the fact that for the first time in recent memory, women of color were the main focus of the show. Women who could dance. Women who could sing. Women who could play instruments with sparks shooting out of them.
And yet, still, predictably and sadly, there are people (many of them women) who want to make the show about the fact that Queen Bey wasn't wearing saggy denims and an ill-fitting University of Somewhere sweatshirt. Instead, she wore a dominatrix-esque boydsuit that got rapidly smaller as the performance progressed. In a thread on the Binders Full Of Women Facebook community, the slut-shaming began with a speed that could make Oreo's head spin.
It was a strip-tease! Why do women always have to be taking off their clothes! This does nothing to advance the position of women because there was too much skin visible!
Really? Didn't we just have this conversation like a week ago when she was on the cover of GQ?
In its fourth episode of the season, Girls continues to let us know that our early twenties years contain some of life's best experiences: publishing a piece of writing on a hipster blog, dating an artist of midlevel fame, going to the "best warehouse party ever!", losing your virginity, getting a surprise marriage. But amid these exciting times, Girls characters are exploring those big, troubling questions that maybe they'll never shake. In this episode, "It's a Shame About Ray", even gruff Ray gets a little vulnerable. "What makes me worth dating?" he says to Shosanna. "What makes me worth anything?"
I'm a feminist and a high school English teacher in the south suburbs of Chicago. Last year, one of the students in my class was inspired to start a group for girls at our school and approached me about sponsoring it. Of course I agreed! A few weeks ago, we tackled the topic of positive female role models in pop culture. The high school students came up with a list of eight current, mainstream "feminist idols" they and their friends look up to.
The list is a good insight into what interests teen girls these days, as well as hopefully a helpful resource. We talk a lot about degrading and regrettable portrayals of women in media, here are eight actresses and comedians my high schoolers are excited about supporting.
1. Emma Stone: My students loved the movie Easy A, a modern film inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. In it, Emma Stone plays a high school student who tries to bring the book into her real life. The movie definitely has feminist undertones, but Stone herself is a major feminist. In a recent interview she did with her boyfriend Andrew Garfield, she was asked who her style icon was. After Garfield said he never got asked questions like that, Stone piped up, "You get asked interesting, poignant questions because you're a boy... It is sexism." Way to call out sexist media, Emma Stone!
Tonight, 30 Rock ends its seven-year run. I'm a fan of the show, but I think it's time to say goodbye to Liz Lemon, Tina Fey's goofy loser star of the show.
Lemon is one of the best characters on TV: she's a hard-working, independent, sloppy person that always flashes to mind when I, say, spill soup down the front of my "professional jacket." Lemon's right in line with what the New York Times said about Fey's influential work this morning, that she's "a pioneer who resists being taken too seriously. She prefers to be revered for her irreverence."
But in recent seasons, it felt to me like Lemon's looks and age became more and more punchlines in the show. Joking about how ugly a woman is gets tired extremely fast. In some episodes, as a viewer it felt like Lemon's character was less an interesting, funny person we could commiserate with and more a foil for everyone else's fat jokes. The constant pokes at Lemon's physique often fell flat, in part because they're such a stretch from how Lemon actually looks. Lemon's a messy woman who is prone to wearing sweatpants, but the show occupied a bizarre reality where staffers agreed that Fey's character was a hideous crone. This was partly a smart commentary on how women in show business are often written off as old and ugly if they're a healthy weight and over 30. But many of the jokes were just easy, unfunny jabs.
For me, at least, the Lemon-needling was always the least funny part of the show. I've got my fingers crossed that Fey will take her excellent writing skills and well-earned prime-time cred to a new character whose looks are less of a punchline. Goodbye and good luck.
RuPaul's Drag Race debuted its fifth season this week. If you've never watched the show, all you need to know is that it's the sparkling vision of glamazon mastermind, RuPaul. In this reality show that far makes Project Runway look like crumbs on a cubicle desk, fabulous men embody women, creating and presenting glittering outfits for judges. They make you shout at the screen, "Oh snap!" and, "Oh no, she didn't!" But she did! And her realness is sickening.
I illustrated six of my favorite moments from the season premiere. They are the moments of moments.
Much of Girls so far has dealt with romantic relationships. But in last night's episode, "Bad Friend," the drama centered on the hard work of handling friendships. Namely, best friendships. The tension that has been simmering between Hannah and Marnie since the beginning of this season finally exploded in a coke-and-bad-sex-with-a-terrible-artist-fueled showdown.
When Girls premiered last year, so many pop culture–loving feminists had pinned hopes on the show that it disappointment was almost inevitable. In a raft of post–Season 1 interviews, Dunham hinted that many critiques of the show—chief among them the issue of its attitude toward race—would be addressed in Season two.