I've been illustrating the best moments of RuPaul's Drag Race all season long. In this week's episode, inspired by Live Aid, the remaining queens sing for their lives. The stage shrinks as dead weight becomes painfully obvious, teetering off the edges. Drag Race drags on. Here, are this week's six best moments, in cartoon majesty.
Girls, I love you. But this week's episode just didn't work.
This could be because it's hard to keep momentum after a string of excellent episodes, but this week's uneven episode "It's Back" was built on out-of-nowhere plot points.
The episode opens with Hannah receiving a phone call from ex-boyfriend Adam which she seems nervous about.After stopping at a store to buy chips to cope with the call, she carefully counts out a specific number of chips before counting the number of times she chews them.
Hannah's parents are visiting—her mother is attending a conference where she's excited to meet so many other women who "feel like I do about Ann Patchett." While waiting on Hannah to meet them at their hotel for a Judy Collins performance, they give her a "Hannah cushion of 15-40 minutes." Hannah shows up but looks pretty disheveled.
Over drinks, Hannah's parents can tell what's going on. Her father asks if her head is filling up with too much and she's getting count-y again. Her mother expresses the worry she felt that Hannah's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) would hinder her from having a real life. This was my "what?" moment. Not that it's unrealistic that Hannah could have OCD, but that in the scope of the show, it's never even come up before at all.
This Sunday is the season finale of HBO show Enlightened, starring Laura Dern as Amy Jellicoe, a woman who has a nervous breakdown after her self-destructive tendencies cause her life to implode. Like the show's creators, I'm afraid this may be the last-ever episode of Enlightened. I'm not sure I can describe how fantastic Enlightened is and convince you to tune in for the final show, but I'll try my best.
Enlightened is a darkly comedic look at California new age pseudo-spirituality, corporate culture, and misguided activism. It's also a serious look at addiction in a multitude of ways—from substance abuse to Amy's own reliance on her newfound spirituality to temper her rage and justify her terrible behaviors.
This season of RuPaul's Drag Race soldiers on with episode five's "Snatch Game." The game promises to separate the Queens from the Jokers, as the witty and witless alike take center stage. It all happens on Drag Race! My illustrated recap of the show's six best moments is below.
Throughout this season, the characters of Girls have been trying on different lives and personas. They try to be different people and better people, eventually defaulting back to the familiar and the easy.
In night's episode, "Video Games", a minor character says she believes life is one big simulation—a video game. That sounds ridiculous, but it's an apt description for what Jessa experiences in this episode as she tries to reconnect with her absent father and play the role of daughter. lives and personas. They try to be different people and better people, eventually defaulting back to the familiar and the easy.
The episode starts with Jessa and Hannah to go see Jessa's father, who Jessa hasn't seen in years and is living in the country with his girlfriend Petula and her son, Frank. Throughout the whole episode, Hannah is in rough shape: She has a UTI and describes it in the most accurate language. "My urine feels so daggery."
The BBC announced last week that Lip Service—its L Word knockoff drama about the lives and loves of a group of lesbians in Glasgow—would not be returning for a third season. The cancellation was almost certainly due to Lip Service's flagging ratings—its audience declined by half from the first season to its second—which makes sense from a business' perspective. The show was on, and people didn't watch it, so now the show is off. TV 101 right?
Well… maybe. Or perhaps it wasn't that people weren't watching the show. Maybe it was just that straight people weren't watching it.
This hypothesis is, I admit, held together by a mix of anecdotal evidence and educated guesswork (the blogosphere's superglue!). But allow me to explain:
I watched Lip Service. I watched Lip Service despite the fact that it was—let's face it—a terrible show. I watched Lip Service despite the winding, tangential storylines, and the often bizarre, uncomfortable sex scenes. I watched Lip Service, and my girlfriends all watched Lip Service, and my best (gay) friends watched Lip Service, and my favorite (gay) cousin watched Lip Service. We all watched Lip Service because, simply, it was about gay people, and we're gay people. Frankly, we're usually so starved for representations of queer women that that's enough. (Remember Tila Tequila? We watched that. South of Nowhere? Classic. The Real L Word? Every week.) As a group, we lesbians already have desperately low standards for viewership—despite our complaints about the way we're represented, in the end, we're beggars, not choosers. But when it came to Lip Service, neither our desperation nor our begging could keep it around. We may wonder why this strategy doesn't work on our favorite TV shows any more than it does on our dates (zing!), but it seems that in this day and age, gay shows just can't survive without straight audiences.
As many of the West Wing faithful have gleefully discovered, all seven seasons were recently added to Netflix Instant, which means I know what I'll be doing for the next few months.
The West Wing isn't a perfect TV show in its depiction of women, but it's better than most. So what went wrong with Sorkin's newest show, The Newsroom, which struggles to present even one plausible female character?
As a sad teenage liberal, disillusioned with the Bush administration, I grew up on The West Wing. The political world that Sorkin depicted—one that passed the Bechdel test, where women's reproductive rights mattered to the president, the press secretary was a woman, and the first lady was as awesome as Rizzo in "Grease"—wasn't a reality then, but watching TheWest Wing made me think it could be.
Less charitably, The West Wing is porn for liberals.
I wasn't sure it would hold up this time around. But it does. The writing is still excellent, and the issues explored on the show—gun control, abortion rights, marriage equality, gender parity, terrorist threats—aren't any less timely now than they were in 1999.
Last week's weirdly controversial Girls episode "One Man's Trash", was defined by melancholy. This week's episode, "Boys", articulates that melancholy in a precise way with a metaphor about—what else?—Staten Island. Ray describes Staten Island as a place where people who want to live in Manhattan but can't are relegated to watch the city in a "quiet rage" on its fringes.Ray's not talking about Staten Island—he's talking about himself, Adam, Hannah, Marnie and all the other young characters on the show.
Even with book deals, fancy art parties, a seemingly perfect relationships,Girls' characters want more from their lives. The main characters all present a veneer of being okay with where they are, while actually longing to change their lives.
In this episode, Hannah finally she seems motivated. She's sent out some essays and has met with the editor (played by John Cameron Mitchell fromHedwig and the Angry Inch!) of Pumped magazine. He's read her essays and describes them as "sweet, naïve and infuriating" but asks Hannah to write an e-book for him. The only catch is that he needs it in a month.
We live in an era where anyone can increasingly curate their own personas, even us "normals" as 30 Rock'sJenna Maroney would say. Any nobody with the internet can create and filter the public perception of their personality, but of course this self-conscious curation is most obvious with pop stars—Lizzy Grant turned into Lana Del Rey, Christian pop singer Katy Perry became whipped-cream-loving pop superstar Katy Perry.
No one is better at this than Beyoncé. With Life Is But a Dream—the documentary directed, written and produced by Beyoncé herself that aired on HBO this weekend—Beyoncé appeared to give fans an intimate peek into her life while actually delivering, of course, a carefully constructed portrait.
The film is a mishmash of home videos, selfie Photobooth confessional videos (always sans makeup and looking flawless) and more typical documentary style video. It's not completely linear—it's more like you are watching a collage, a scrapbook of moments in Beyoncé's life.