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Difficult People- Perhaps a Reference to YOU?

25 Aug

Difficult People Banner

Difficult People is a new Hulu exclusive, and as such, I didn’t expect anything racy or controversial. That is until someone posted this humorless article (or one like it) about one of the show’s jokes.

Billy and Julie (Image Source: Entertainment Weekly)

Billy and Julie (Image Source: Entertainment Weekly)

In the show, Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner star as themselves: crass, snarky, gossipy actor/comedians living in NYC. So if you expect people of the aforementioned qualities to make wholesome, non-offensive jokes…well, I can’t help you there. So here’s the deal with the joke, as you no doubt already heard about: Julie’s character is at times despicable, but THAT is what makes her also lovable, don’t you see?! She says ridiculous things with no filter, but not in that asshat Donald Trump way that everyone is talking about these days. At one point, Julie’s character posts on Twitter: “I can’t wait for Blue Ivy to be old enough for R. Kelly to piss on her,” which is followed by such a major backlash that she has to go back and delete the tweet out of existence. As they are wont to do, Julie and Billy encounter many “garbage people” along their daily journey, and one such person, a real piece of work, continues to berate Julie for posting such an offensive tweet.

When I heard the joke, sure, my jaw dropped, and a little gasp came right afterward…followed by a pretty sizeable guffaw.  Because that is what this sort of humor is supposed to do! “Oh NO she didn’t!” you are supposed to profess. And I am pretty sure that in the backlash that Julie’s character received in the show, we were supposed to also see that yeah, she was crossing the line a little bit. I think what is happening here is that the joke has a few too many layers for some fly-by-night viewer to quite fully grasp. The person spreading this article on FB, by the way, most certainly did not watch the show herself, further removing the context of the joke within the show and tearing it to shreds while simultaneously declaring “I hate Julie Klausner anyway.” (Sounds like you should avoid the show anyway then, amirite?).

Amy Schumer has also been slammed for being racist, insensitive, slutty, the list goes on.... (Image  source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/)

Amy Schumer has also been slammed for being racist, insensitive, slutty, the list goes on…. (Image source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/)

I am seeing a death of comedy, and it makes me sad. Luckily, my often-offensive humor is mostly hidden, and reserved for those whom I know can take a joke. I am a feminist, I have advocated for people of color, immigrants, victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence, and other marginalized populations since I became aware of the world around me. I’m fucking 21st-century-civil-rights-aware, motherfuckers, and the fact that I can see through the punchline of this joke is a testament to just how easily-offended we are becoming. And I am scared for the future of comedy. How can we be humorous if we are no longer allowed to push the envelope a little? It’s snowballing out of control at this point, with commentary such as, “This is disgusting, there’s no way a tasteless joke like that would be made about baby Apple or Suri Cruise.” (from this “Bossip” article). Ri-diculous, you guys… If you wanna defend your Bey squad so hard, I will happily write off your illuminati-scum friendship. (Another tongue-in-cheek joke that you probably didn’t get).

I must get off my rage soap box now, but it’s worth mentioning that people are attacking Amy Poehler, the show’s

producer, for the joke, and not so much Julie Klausner even. I guess she’s just not a big enough target for these people.

I am loving Difficult People, and I will continue to be a staunch supporter. I am hoping that this most recent press that the show has received will be more of a blessing than a curse.

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Broad City- The Show We Have All Been Waiting for (2014)

16 Jun

BFFs, blaze buddies and daily Skype companions Abbi and Ilana star in the most wonderful show I have seen in years. Take the Broad_City_Logocrass and straightforward humor of Inside Amy Schumer, add a more connected and ongoing plot line with two best friends living in NYC (á la Flight of the Concords), plus stoner humor around every turn, and you can begin to have an idea of what this show is about.

Started by some UCB alums, and with a slew of amazing funny lady guest stars- they had me at Amy Sedaris, but Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, and Janine Garafalo also show up in an episode or two- Broad City is the feminist answer to Workaholics. This is the show that I have been waiting for and I think that many of you will agree that this refreshing take on a female-led comedy show has been a long time coming.

Ilana and Abbi

Ilana and Abbi

And don’t worry, it has been man tested and man approved. It took me three days to burn through the first (and only) season. When the boyfriend caught the last episode with me, he found that he loved it too, and I watched the entire season over again with him. Now I’m fiending for the next season, which has been greenlighted for 2015.

While the first season has already been aired, I bet Comedy Central shows reruns if you have cable, and it’s also available on Hulu Plus. I’ve been binge-watching the show on projectfree.tv.

Going back to the grading scale, I definitely give this show an A+

Check a clip below from “Hurricane Wanda!” Namaste, gracias.

 

Shows to Watch Online While You Slowly Freeze to Death

13 Feb

Hey guys! Thanks for stopping by my second snowpocalypse edition of Media to Put in your Eye Holes While You’re Snowed In. If you’re like me, you have fashioned a sort of nest of blankets, pillows, scarfs and hoodies; you have invited your canine companion onto your couch; and you are taking full advantage of the way the South does winter, y’all. Though in all reality, I have been slaving away at a Spanish paper on contemporary poetry and its imagery, and I could really use the catharsis of writing in English about some garbage. So let’s hop to it!

I have recently gained access to Amazon Prime Instant Video via super secret spy methods involving hidden cameras in Sochi showers. And boy have I been taking advantage of this quality programming:

1. The Layover w/ Anthony Bourdain (Amazon Prime)

tony with a bone

Used to be the background on my computer

I love every single thing about Anthony Bourdain and I will follow him to the end of the earth in whatever pursuit he may choose. So how did I fail to notice that he had a new show? For all I know, it has been cancelled by now. But if it’s as new to you as it is to me, you can catch the entire first season (series?) on Amazon Prime. The premise here is not much unlike his No Reservations series, only this time he is in each city for a very limited time (like 24 hours). He schleps around with some fellow-cook friends, and tries out local foods and activities. So enjoy another series where you watch the episodes of the places that you have been to first so you can revel in the fact that Tony has been there, too.

2. Alpha House (Amazon Prime)

I love John Goodman and I already feel bad enough for betting on him to be the next  to die in my high school celebrity death poll. In Alpha House, he acts as the ex-NC-basketball-coach-turned-politician that you could learn to love. Also must be taking some of his character acting tips from his part in Todd Solondz’s Storytelling.

Workaholics-blake-anderson-adam-devine-anders-holm-600x4603. Workaholics (Amazon Prime)

The fine folks at Netflix took it away, but you can still get your share of Ders, Blake, and Adam (and don’t forget Jillian!) on Amazon Prime. Fantastic mindless comedic viewing to zone out and burn to (IF you live in Colorado or Washington ONLY!)

4. Inside Amy Schumer (Amazon Prime) inside-amy-schumer2

I am always happy to see a righteous chick catch a little spotlight in the world of standup and sketch comedy. She is just as crass as I often feel, so this show makes me happy to feel that I am not alone. Even you dudes will like it, seriously.

5. Key and Peele (Amazon Prime)

If the online stylings of such videos as “Substitute Teacher” tickled your fancy, how do you feel about a full show of Key and Peele antics? Sketch comedy at it’s finest, and I love any show that can tackle race, (albeit no one has come forward with the fire that is Dave Chapelle, but I’m holding out).

6. David Chang: Mind of a Chef (Netflix)mind-of-a-chef-pbs-anthony-bourdain

Did I mention I love Anthony Bourdain? He narrates this show, for some reason, which is what drew me to it in the first place. I must admit, I kind of hate the way the show is organized. In one episode, David Chang, famous chef of Momofuku, will be in various countries speaking with famous chefs about, say, the egg. In the next episode, he will be at several of the same international places, but this time discussing the merits of freeze-dried foods. But all-in-all, it’s a good show that will make you hungry. The icing on the cake was the day I watched an episode in which David Chang goes golfing with Dan the Automator. Go figure!

louis-ck7. Louie (Netflix)

Louis CK is, hands down, my favorite standup comedian. And I love him as much for his masturbation jokes as the bigol’ thinkin’ brain those jokes come out of. Those who only like him for his crass antics, however, beware. The show that he writes, produces, edits, and stars in, is a little bit more off the beaten path. He tackles some intense issues regarding mental health, fatherhood, community, work, life, everything. But it’s not as heartwarming as that sounds, either, it can get quite twisted.

8. Twin Peaks (Netflix)Twin-peaks

While the ending leaves much to be desired, it is still worth getting into this cult David Lynch classic. Pretty much a prerequisite to being my BFF, Twin Peaks has quirk and style and mystery and a certain man in a denim outfit who haunts my waking and sleeping nightmares. If you have been watching True Detective on HBO (see #9), I prescribe you this show to watch while you’re biting your nails between episodes. The owls are not what they seem, and you can always get an, excuse me, DAMN fine cup of coffee in Twin Peaks.

true detective9. True Detective (HBO, hbogo.com)

True Detective reminds me a bit of Twin Peaks, maybe mixed with Breaking Bad. That’s really enough for me. A mysterious cultish murder rocks a small Lousiana town, and who do we have around to solve it? An emaciated Matthew McConaughey and a machista Woody Harrelson (whose character I loathe more than any other of his). It’s just getting really juicy, and watching this on hbogo.com makes me remember what it’s like to have to wait for the next episode of a show again.

10. Girls (HBO, hbogo.com)Girls-HBO-image-girls-hbo-36197318-647-960

Duh. I love it, I love Lena Dunham and in my dreams we are best friends. Watching this show is how we catch up. As buds.

Is Trophy Wife Destined to Be Better than its Name Implies?

2 Oct

When I heard that one of my favorite funny women, Sarah Haskins, was about to start a new sitcom series on ABC, I jumped for joy. Sarah Haskins was one of the many pleasures that came from watching infoMania on the sadly now-defunct CurrentTV. When infoMania would feature her segment, Target Women, it was going to be a good week for me. She picked up on the, “Why do women love yogurt so much?” hypothesis wayyy before it had reached mainstream consciousness:

I see Sarah Haskins as a feminist, a woman who sees the ways gender and sexuality manipulate, and are manipulated by society. But say what now? Her new show is called Trophy Wife? Hmmm…my applause meter dipped, just slightly, until I listened to Neda Ulaby’s NPR interview on NPR with Ms. Haskins about her personal inspiration for the series. As it turns out, Sarah Haskins is a trophy wife, too! But not in the conventional sense, I suppose. This interview piqued my interest once again.

By name, this series seems like another dumb reality show. Unfortunately, this will detract from an intelligent audience that I think a Haskins project is capable of pulling. However, it might capture more idiots, and maybe they’ll like it just the same. It is nice to see that this series (so far) is not really what it appears on the surface level due to this name. If you listen to the interview, you’ll learn a little more about it, but in a nut shell, this show is about how when you marry a divorcé, you marry his ex-wife -or in this case, ex-wives- too. So far in the series, the husband, Pete, is the least interesting character of the bunch, which begs the question: Why did all these women marry him in the first place? Kate, the trophy wife, is a close second in the not-as-interesting race.

So far, I’m still on the fence about this new series. But I will continue to watch, because sometimes these things take time. So far it appears to be a little less edgy than Target Women was, but I can always supplement this more family-friendly show with the Target Women clips on Youtube. Either way, I want Trophy Wife to be a success, if only because I want to support Sarah Haskins. I’m going to keep watching.

The first two episodes are available to watch streaming on Hulu or the ABC website. See the Trophy Wife Pilot here

By: Melissa Myers

Dark Days (2000)

14 Apr

dark_days

Documentaries run the gamut from silly bio-docs about video gamers (i.e. King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters) to change-the-way-you-live-or-die guilt trippers (Food Matters, Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, etc.). There is a place and time for each kind on the spectrum of documentaries. Sometimes you want to learn how to make a change in the world, or learn how your behavior impacts the environment, international relations or the political climate. Sometimes you want to gawk at some unusual people who are not fictional characters. Dark Days is one of those docs that falls between the two categories. It won’t make you hate life, and it’s not just a voyeuristic romp through someone’s life. This is one of my favorite documentaries to date, due, in part, to the beautiful score composed by DJ Shadow. This haunting soundtrack paired with the black and white (though mostly black) film brings an eerie feel to the whole picture.

One of the NYC underground tunnel-dwellers of Dark Days

One of the NYC underground tunnel-dwellers of Dark Days

Dark Days takes you into the humble lives of the marginalized and forgotten citizens of the New York City underground. Not some underground “scene,” but literally under the ground in the abandoned tunnels of NYC’s subway system. The living conditions of these people are unbelievable. They live in complete darkness in small makeshift shacks. Yet some of them have carved out a nice little niche for themselves, complete with meager appliances and the electricity they use to run their naked lightbulbs and small hotplates. Many aspects of this life mirror the social structure that we above-grounders enjoy. There are feuds and relationships, people have pets and set up security systems around their homes. But as you might guess, this kind of living is illegal, and many of these people are driven out of the tunnels by law enforcement.

Some more tunnel-dwellers who take us into their homes

Some more tunnel-dwellers who take us into their homes

I was happy to see that Dark Days made its way back to the Netflix Instant Streaming list. Do yourself a favor and check this one out before Netflix pulls it again. (Actually, I just found it here, on YouTube, but sometimes those get taken down as well).

A Sex Industry Double Feature

17 Feb

I was hoping to get this post out by Valentine’s Day, but just as well that I’m a few days late. Inspired by the romance of the Holiday of Lovers, I wanted to touch upon a different side of intimacy: that of the sex industry. First of all, I think the term “sex industry” can be problematic, but I don’t have a better term to use for the broad spectrum of services of a sexual nature that are offered. The two documentaries I am going to review look into the world of the legal sex industry as portrayed by Pandora’s Box in New York City, and the Chicken Ranch in Nevada. These films focus mainly on the lives of the women who work there, what they think of their work, their clients, and their own personal lives.

  Fetishes (1996)
Fetishes looks into an upscale S&M club in New York City called Pandora’s Box, (still in operation). Filmed solely on location at the club, we meet the various women who work there, and see what kind of work they do. The movie is divided into chapters based on the various fetishes accommodated by the club from bondage to role play and beyond. Most of this film puts the audience in an uncomfortable Clockwork Orange-esque hold. What you see may disturb you, and yet you can’t look away. (At least I couldn’t, but I have a high tolerance for the awkward and uncomfortable in movies). Viewers may find it unsettling viewing because they cannot believe that some people actually get off on the fetishes that the club addresses (from licking toilets, to being locked up in a tiny cage and more). On the other hand, I think many viewers might be disturbed at the mirror this film holds up to themselves and society. After all, if there were not a demand for such services, they would not exist. The fact of the matter is that many of us harbor conscious and subconscious fetishism to some degree, but many are unable to act out these fantasies in their day-to-day lives. These fetishes are taboo, and society tells us to be shameful of the unconventional ways we find arousal. It is because of this sex-shame that many people in otherwise healthy relationships find themselves growing distant sexually, perhaps seeking services such as those at Pandora’s Box on the side to fulfill those urges and desires that the individual is too afraid to mention to their partner, lest they disturb them to a point of no return.
Although this film provides an educational aspect into the world of fetishism, perhaps the most interesting and somewhat subtler goal of the film is to explore the lives of the mistresses of Pandora’s Box. We learn of the various motivational factors that lead women to this work, and we see the varying degrees of compassion (and more often lack thereof) that these mistresses have for their clients. Many of the women working at Pandora’s Box display an obvious disdain and disgust for their clients, and men in general. In some cases, it is clear that this attitude is all part of the act, as humiliation and disdain is what the clients request of the mistresses. In other cases, these women have been wronged by men in their relationships outside of the club, and they have become embittered and hateful of men, and thus may get pleasure out of humiliating them within the confines of the club, because they can take out their aggressive feelings they have about men from their personal experiences out on clients, and get paid to do so. Finally, I think for many of the mistresses, the lines become blurred, and they don’t know where their professional persona ends and their real self begins. Working in this capacity day in and day out obviously either shapes, encourages or enriches these women’s domineering personalities against men, so that when a client comes in that is not submissive or respectful, the claws really come out.
While watching this movie, I was a little uncomfortable (especially because I was watching it with someone else), and I couldn’t even watch it all in one sitting. When I finished the movie, I rated it 3/5 stars because I didn’t find it particularly enlightening or enriching. That was about 6 months ago, and since then, I have reflected upon the movie from time-to-time. I think it was something I needed to pull away from and think about to get more out of it. It is not for the weak-of-heart, but perhaps you want to explore your own fetishism, observe how clients and mistresses navigate the BDSM space, or maybe you just want to gawk at the spectacle that is Pandora’s Box. Whatever your reason, it couldn’t hurt to give it a change. Unless you’re into that kind of thing. 🙂

Chicken Ranch (1983)
How can a movie about a brothel be so non-titillating (pun intended)? This documentary is about the institution of legalized prostitution in the state of Nevada as practiced at the Chicken Ranch, a brothel deep in the desert (also still in operation). Clients drive long distances and fly in on private jets to visit Chicken Ranch, which was started in Texas and was the inspiration from a lil’ ol’ Dolly Parton musical y’all might’ve heard of. Like Fetishes, this film takes an intimate look into the lives of the women who work for this establishment. Unlike the former film, Chicken Ranch goes very little into detail of what goes on behind the closed doors of the business. This documentary zooms in on the lives of the women who work at the Chicken Ranch, a place where they also live while they are working for 3 weeks at a time. You watch the girls hang out and smoke cigarettes, chat about clients and relationships, eat dinner together, watch TV, get ready for work, and other mundane tasks. You seem them meet clients for the first time, which consists of the girls standing in a line-up and introducing themselves just by stepping forward and saying their name. Clients then choose which woman they want to “party” with, and they lead the client to their bedroom, where a variety of sexual services are offered. For how much more sexually explicit their work is at the Chicken Ranch (sex is not permitted on the premises of Pandora’s Box), the film is much tamer than Fetishes.
Some recognizable themes come up in Chicken Ranch that you see in Fetishes. Most noticeably the disdain that some of these women have for their clients. At Chicken Ranch, however, it seems as though the women have to put up with a great deal more subjugation and domination from clients. These women for the most part still won’t take shit (Connie and Fran the madame come to mind).

I think that when many people think of the sex industry through the traditional western societal lens, we tend to pity the women involved, see them as victims that are forced into a sort of sex slavery. While it is true than some women are in the sex industry to support drug habits, or due to psychological issues, there are also many women who work in the sex industry because they enjoy it, they are good at it, it beats an office job from their point of view. Many of us are a slave to our jobs without even seeing it that way some times, and the Chicken Ranch and Pandora’s Box are just one more place of employment for the women who can handle that line of work. While these two films are not all-inclusive of the various facets of the sex industry, nor do they show the myriad of perspectives of the work, they are a fascinating and entertaining start.

You can find Fetishes on Netflix, and Chicken Ranch on Hulu.com.

American Horror Story (2011)

4 Nov

I’m going to start writing on this again. Spoooooky! Scary!

For how much I write about horror and thriller movies, you would think that I love those genres even more than I actually do. It obviously seems to inspire me to write an awful lot. I am never the person at the movie theater nagging my neighbors for the answers to such questions as, “who is that?”, “what is he doing?”, “wait, so she has been sleeping with her fiance’s twin brother this whole time?!” But horror and thriller movies often push me to ask some questions, even long after the credits have rolled. In any case, hopefully this will kick-start me back into writing again, along with the long, cold winter months ahead.

American Horror Story is a new series on FX, meaning that I watch it on Hulu as I do not have cable. It is my belief that the internet should not be held to the stringent censorship laws of cable television, and I wish that it made this series even more grotesque, profane and horrifying. We still get TV-MA, though. Yeah, buddy.

The image at the top of this entry was what caught my interest in the show. Freaky BDSM shit and a half-naked redhead in some kind of tiny red room? I’m there! I’m already feeling a Lynchian vibe coming out of that. (Speaking of, please note that David Lynch has a new album out for your creepy soundscape pleasures- Crazy Clown Time). The opening credits reminisce of a Nine Inch Nails electro-industrial grinding of gears and pulsing of machinery, while a stockpile of unsettling old-timey photos and blurry camera shots of dusty mason jars full of body parts go in and out of focus on the screen. I am a sucker for opening and closing credit sequences (think Breaking Bad or The Sopranos), and this is one that gets me in the right head-space for the story that is about to unfold.

American Horror Story could not have come out at a better time, that is to say, Halloween. It follows the lives of the Harmon family who recently moved into a house with an unsavory past of homicides, suicides, arson and more. Each episode showcases a previous grotesque experience that has befallen its previous occupants (or trespassers), but mostly focuses on the lives of Vivien, Ben, and Violet Harmon; their maid, and a few unsavory and creepy neighbors (including Jessica Lange) who seem to know a little bit more about what is going on than the Harmons (but then again, perhaps not)?

I have to say that my expectations were low, and perhaps it is because of this that I have not been disappointed. I am not saying to get your hopes up if you are craving anything akin to the spectrum of Lynch classics, but I guarantee you that you will at least feel the touch of a Lynch fan-boy trying to reach out to a broader audience. American Horror Story  adds its own bizarre and unsettling events and characters we have come to know in Lynch’s work to a town that is similarly quaint and storybook on the surface, much like those in Twin Peaks, Mulholland Drive, Blue Velvet, and so forth.

American Horror Story is a little easier to swallow than Lynch’s work for most people, but still offers an array of unsettling characters whose sanity and motives are constantly questioned. These twisted personas are the dark underbelly of a candy-coated society, but the deeper we go into the rabbit hole we discover that no one is as saccharine as we might think, including ourselves.

At this point I would give the show an A-, and I hope that things do not go downhill as the show progresses. With Lynch meets Rosemary’s Baby meets Nip/Tuck, only time will tell.