It may be a bit late in the "Tuning In" series to reveal this, but, like some music critics, I watch Fox's American Idol. I still follow it even though the past few seasons have been lackluster. I caught the end of the first season, which Kelly Clarkson deservedly won (cue "Since U Been Gone" and rock out), but remained a hold-out for a few years until my partner got me following Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice's season four tête-à-tête.
However, I have a love-hate relationship with the program. Many of the contestants bore or irritate me and the winner is often not who I'd choose. It also frustrates me that the competition can seem a bit racist. The wrongful ousting of Tamrya Gray and Jennifer Hudson make this evident, as did Jordin Sparks's season six win, which came after darker-skinned contestants LaKisha Jones and Melinda Doolittle were voted off.
In addition, I think the show needs to end. Simon Cowell is leaving. Episode premises and possibilities for new mentors have been stretched. Idol Gives Back continues to bloat on its own self-importance despite its purported altruistic intentions. I've also seen far too many Ford music videos (though I did perk up when last season's group did a rendition of Lykki Li's "I'm Good, I'm Gone," as my synapses fire when indie and mainstream music culture coalesce).
This season has left me with little to latch onto. In a season that's been defined by artists packaging themselves as hipster- or indie-friendly, the majority of these contestants have demonstrated for me how disappointing it can be when underground music is co-opted by the mainstream. That many of these bland artists were pretty white women with little staying power is even more disheartening. Ellen DeGeneres has offered some perceptive advice. There have been a few noteworthy guest performances, including Lady Gaga's pared-down "Alejandro" and Rihanna's "Rock Star," which made me want to teach her how to actually play the guitar. Beyond that, there's the lone female contestant in the top three who I hope takes over the title on May 26th.
Today, I thought I'd turn our attention to Showtime's The L Word. I'll admit that the Los Angeles-based ensemble dramedy created by Ilene Chaiken was marred by over-the-top situations, uneven character development, hackneyed writing, a bevy of skinny femmes, and racially problematic casting decisions. It also featured one of the worst theme songs ever, which was written and performed by BETTY.
However, until the final season I was hooked. I started watching with my girlfriends in college toward the end of Sex and the City's run on HBO (L Word fans may recall that the show's original tag line was "Same Sex, Different City"). I was invested in many of the L Word's characters and their long, interconnected histories with one another. I appreciated the incorporation of lesbian icons through dialogue or cameos, and the attention drawn to lesser-known cultural practices like Dinah Shore Weekend or the prevalence of lesbian nuns. I liked the sex, even though it was often of the lipstick variety. Most of all, I enjoyed the role music played in the women's lives.
Monday marked the release of the music video for M.I.A.'s "Born Free," the lead single off the British rapper/singer/visual artist's forthcoming third album, and yet another clip from a female pop star this year that caused quite a stir. Continuing the discussion begun by the open thread Kjerstin started yesterday, I thought I'd share my thoughts.
Last month, NBC aired 30 Rock's "Future Husband" episode, wherein TGS creator/head writer Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) tracks down the man she labeled her spouse-to-be on her iPhone. It was a follow-up to the Valentine's Day-themed "Anna Howard Shaw Day," which found the show's heroine spending the most romantic day of the year at the dentist, haunted by hallucinations of ex-boyfriends as the painkillers took hold. Apparently while doped up, Lemon met a British man named Wesley Snipes (Michael Sheen). When they exchanged phone numbers, both parties were looking to settle. "Future Husband" focuses on them not wanting to acknowledge that society thinks their age and relationship status thinks that they should. For those who'd like to watch the episode in full, go here.
As I was anticipating this blog series at the time of my viewing, imagine my good fortune when I realized that Lemon changed her ringtone from Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" (i.e., Elmer Fudd's "Kill the Wabbit") to Peaches's "Fuck the Pain Away."