Unfortunately there are only a good 11 viewing hours in one day, so missing the first-run fandemonium of great television shows is a depressing inevitability. While other Americans are finishing up their holiday shopping, I’m happy to spend it curled up on the couch with my iPad.
Enter Netflix, a digital vending machine, dispensing alternate universes just aching to be explored at your leisure. The rabbithole I happily and obsessively tumbled down landed me in Pawnee, Indiana: a small town that's "first in friendship and fourth in obesity." The Emmy-nominated "Parks and Recreation” (2009-2015) starring Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Scott, Retta and Chris Pratt before the movie star slim-down.
I expected an off-beat workplace drama I could half-watch while cooking dinner or use as background noise at work. What I discovered was a quirky, laugh-til-you-cry, cry-til-you laugh modern comedy that was as inspiring and intelligent as it was upbeat and hilarious.
The beauty and brilliance of “Parks and Recreation,” beyond the fantastic and varied cast and the drool-inducing continuity, is that Leslie Knope is a controlling, work-obsessed basketcase, and she never apologizes for it. While a romantic comedy would spin her neurosis, intelligence and dogged ambition as something to be cured by a man, Leslie, her motley crew of employees and friends, and eventual her husband are rightfully awed and inspired by her boundless energy and dumbfounded by her worth ethic. She’s pluckier version of Olivia Pope without all the murder or fashion sense.
With Donald Trump running for President a platform of hate, bullying and "I got guy" tactics, it's refreshing to visit a town where the Big Bad is Ron Swanson, Leslie's boss and dear friend who loves her more than he hates government, or Councilman Jamm, who opposes Leslie because he covets her attention.
"Parks and Recreation" also paints a vivid and bizarre mural of Pawnee, Indiana in a Simpsonian way through its unique local customs (drinking from a water fountain by putting the entire thing into your mouth); celebrities (delusional talk show host Joan Callamezzo and the late Li'l Sebastian); and businesses (Sweetums Corporation and Paunch Burger). It also features a variety of zany characters: my favorite being the stoner animal control guys, the Sapperstein twins and April's macabre friend Orin. Although nothing tops watching Leslie continuously achieve and surpass her goals and the crazy-strange-perfect love affair between April, a macabre college intern and Andy, the airhead musician with a heart of gold.
Sometimes, celebrities make me irrationally angry. Not because they are busted for a DUI or spout racist or ignorant garbage on Twitter, but because they are so damned talented.
Spike's “Lip Sync Battle”—a variety show born from a popular segment on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon—is supposed to be carefree gif-able fun in which celebrities compete head-to-head with mimed performances of their favorite songs. That is until “The Night Before’s” Joseph Gordon-Levitt slayed in a serious, hardcore, no-holds-barred performance of Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation,” complete with curly ponytail and glam make-up, on the show’s holiday special.
“The Night Before” co-star Anthony Mackie’s high-energy performance of MC Hammer’s “2 Legit 2 Quit” didn’t stand a chance against Gordon-Levitt’s spot-on tribute even stunned his co-stars and hosts LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen.
This is just another epic example of Joseph’s enviable talents. Got Haterade, anyone?
'SCANDAL' wINTER FINALE REVIEW: A-BOMB
In “Scandal's" third episode, a frantic, resigned Mellie whisked around her posh closet of the residence in search of a mason jar of moonshine. As she did so, she ranted about the spirit-crushing doldrums of being the first lady—it was all lunching and decorating and smiling and sacrificing. And she was glad to be rid of it. Bellamy Young absolutely nailed that complicated (and hopefully Emmy-worthy) scene in which a long-scorned wife passed the baton of her marital duties to the love-blinded mistress. It was foreshadowing of what was to come, two women on opposing trajectories eclipsing each other on newfound paths.
Just five episodes later, Olivia Pope, bereft but resolute, scrambles around the same closet seeking out the inherited moonshine to soften the pain of the decisions she just made, the delicate situation she just handled.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”—arguably the best episode of the season—catalogs the deaths of professional fixer Olivia Pope and the “Shut-Up-And-Smile” First Lady Mellie Grant. It ushers in the age of Senator Grant—a Republican woman who survives a 16-hour, Wendy Davis-inspired filibuster to protect the funding for Planned Parenthood. The brilliance of the moment is that it essentially makes use of her years as a governor's wife and a First Lady, entertaining the Washington elite in stilettos. She lists the insane federal commissions that have guaranteed funding, which Shonda Rhimes confirmed via Twitter are real. The most absurd: a study on gambling habits of monkeys and ‘hangry’ individuals.
Just as Mellie is about surrender, as “the elasticity of her urethra” is about to snap on the House floor, the Vice President arrives so Mellie can yield to her and take a long overdue bathroom break, thanks to Olivia. She offers encouragement to Mellie when she is wavering, “You’re the biggest bitch I know. Don’t tell me you can’t do this.” Senator Grant can and does complete the “longest filibuster in modern times” to protect the rights of American women. It's a bold statement, and it is more glorious than even I could imagine for one of my favorite characters.
There’s something tragic afoot in Shondaland. And no, it’s not the fact that no one can just be happy, although that is troubling. It’s the dreaded winter finale! This week’s shows are the last of the year! I’m not crying, it’s just raining on my face…indoors.
This week’s episode of "Grey's Anatomy" called “The Things We Lost In The Fire” follows the doctors as they treat firefighters injured on the job. In this sneak peek, Meredith’s newly instated ‘Person’ Alex confronts his girlfriend Jo about his lack of boundaries with Meredith. Is this the end of Alex and Jo? Her points are valid, but after a few episodes of her begging for validation with an unbearably whiny disposition, I wouldn’t be sad if it was. Would you?
Check into Grey’s Anatomy of the finale time this year on Thursday at 8/7c on ABC.
Photo Credits: ibtimes.com
'The Flash' 2.6 Recap: Growing Pains
Superheroism isn’t all capes and catchphrases; grateful damsels and city-wide celebrations in your honor, it’s treacherous work. “The Flash” made this abundantly clear in this week’s insane episode, “Enter Zoom,” that was one part-hilarious and infinity-parts horrifying.
Despite or maybe because of Ronnie and Eddie’s deaths in The Singularity, this season, Barry has a newfound arrogance and impulsiveness to go along with his less babyish face and swagged-out wardrobe. He has applies the same cocksure attitude to his superhero duties, making decisions impetuously, dismissing important and valid concerns.
Iris hatches a clever-on-paper, insane-in-reality plan to use Linda Park, to pose as her Earth-2 doppleganger, the possibly misunderstood, Dr. Light to coax Zoom out so they can nail him with the Wells-designed "speed dampener.”
It’s all silly, slapped-together prep and dress up and giggle-inducing training montages until Joe finally steps in. "If you're going to ask people to risk their lives, you better be sure exactly why they're doing it." No one can master supervillainism in a few days--Barry himself is still learning new movies as a superhero.
So why is Barry pushing so hard to kill Zoom? He spouts the golden, tried and true reasons about saving innocent lives and stopping the forces of evil but when pressed Barry admits that it's because "ever since...I didn't save my mom, there's been a void in me. I feel like it's always going to be there." Joe sets him straight—and his advice is refreshingly different from the typical ridiculous "You're a superhero, you can't love" cliches. "You're responsible for your own happiness Barry. Think hard about what you want, what makes you happy and go out and get it. Simple as that."
It's an oddly emotionally restrained Barry-Joe moment since I'm not heaving tears, but it's important nonetheless. Patty, who's been brushed off by Barry a few times this episode, reaps the benefits of Joe's advice in the form of a sexy secret make-out session.
This week's episode of “The Real Housewives Of Atlanta” was admittedly tamer than last week’s shade-tastic premiere. But don't get it twisted, it was still jam-packed with deliciously juicy moments from our Atlanta peaches.
Grab your favorite MVP trophy, and let's dive in, shall we?
False alarm? The premiere episode ended with Kenya going all the way in with Sheree about her still unfinished chateau. And just when you though the week long cliffhanger would end with Kenya actually hanging off the side of a the hotel's rooftop, it fizzles out like a dud firecraker. No drinks are thrown. Porsha's Naked hair extensions aren't lying on the floor. Bravo editors can create suspense out of anything, and we fall for it every time.
There’s are some raised voices and a bit of shaky camera work before Kenya apologizes for calling Sheree a "bitchass" and slips out away. Kenya acts like it was an innocent misunderstanding, and wouldn't dream of coming for Sheree the second they met. She better hope karma doesn’t find her in the form of a Buckhead rainstorm because her house just might float away.
Moore Delusions. Kenya met with “Hollywood Royalty” Kim Fields to reminisce about the glory days in Hollywood and, of course to insult her before asking for a gigantic favor. After suggesting that Tootie’s famous rollerskates were on eBay (apparently no one remembers that Kim was also on "Living Single" AKA the original "Sex And The City"), she asks Kim—a busy actor, director and mother—to sign on as a director of her still unpurchased “Life Twirls On” pilot before even giving her the chance to watch it. It must be said that Kenya's pilot has been so well-received that no network wants it. Even a seasoned actress like Mrs. Fields had to stretch those improv muscles to politely decline. I actually want to see this pilot because something tells me it actually might not be that bad.
Fields Of Dreams. Kim Fields was finally introduced, and she seems like a colorful, sweet breath of fresh air. Her introductory montage includes touching moments with her husband and young sons, and not one frame of her buying extravagant gems or standing in a meticulously organized closet the size of my apartment that's filled with shoes and handbags. I’m simultaneously refreshed by her unpretentious happiness and worried that the other women will demolish her within a few episodes with their pettiness and unnecessary shade. Though I'm sure decades of Hollywood has made her tougher and shrewd than her sunny exterior and dye job seems.
Does the of television really need another cop show? If it’s a shady drama starring the multi-hyphenate superstar Jennifer Lopez and Emmy winner Ray Liotta, then of course!
In "Shades Of Blue," the NBC drama debuting next year, Jennifer Lopez triumphantly returns to the small screen as Harlee Santos—a single mother and a dirty cop who turns informant for the FBI to take down her mentor, Matt (Liotta), and his clan of criminals hiding behind badges.
The official trailer teases a suspenseful and complicated game of cat-and-mouse between Harlee and Matt as the FBI closes in. “Shades Of Blue” is a murkier hue for Lopez, who has portrayed everything from slain musician Selena Quintanilla her break-out movie, “Selena” to a modern Cinderella in “Maid In Manhattan” to a divorcee who has an affair with a student in this summer’s “The Boy Next Door” but has yet to play a truly corrupt character (or go without her luxurious extensions). Watch the intense trailer below.
Will “Shades Of Blue” be arresting television? Find out when "Shades Of Blue" premieres on January 7, 2016 on NBC.
Ration your tea, everyone, because this season of “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” is about to spill it all. The teaser, which featured scrumptious tidbits of jaw-dropping drama, choreographed African dance, tears, and someone unconscious on the floor, was enough to send me induce guilty-pleasure euphoria. And the episode itself was stuffed with plenty of pearl-clutching moments that I didn't even notice the absence of NeNe Leakes. Bloop!
Grab your favorite cocktail and let's break this episode down, shall we?
Duchess Porsha. In an wincingly ironic twist, we find the ever-glam Porsha in a new relationship with Buffalo Bills’ safety, Duke Williams. She showers him with luxury hotel suite, and designer clothes. He arrives with a backpack and a dopey smile--he's a bit young, you see. It's a complete role-reversal from her marriage to former football player and all-American douchebag Kordell Stewart, who loved to pamper and dress her (while treating her like garbage). Porsha is merely taking charge of her love life with "no apologies," and from the three minutes of giggly, gropey screen time Duke gets, I don't get any creeper vibes yet. I will only worry when Porsha starts restricting his behavior and telling him to retire from football so he can maintain the home.
#BlackGirlGlamour. Atlanta’s sidewalks must be made entirely of red carpets and runways because nearly all of the women worked seriously fabulous fashions. From Phaedra’s black outfit complete with a mini-cape and longer, sultry locks to Porsha’s elegant white dress with the sassy change purse pockets to Marlo’s complicated banded black jumpsuit, the Atlanta women serving us Black Girl Glamour.
Moore Manor. It’s not remotely shocking that resident villain and shit-stirrer, Kenya Moore found a house in mere feet away from Chateau Sheree. Moore Manor is light years beyond a fixer-upper, but it does have good bones (said bones may be infested with snakes and termites, though). It’s not a Real Housewives season without some murky real estate woes, so Kenya’s treacherous moneypit definitely fills that requirement. Her insistence to throw shade at the unfinished Chateau Sheree is all in devious fun. Until it's not.
This Monday’s episode of “Jane The Virgin” is looking like it will be a fabulous one. Not only is pop star extraordinaire Britney Spears guest-starring—as Rogelio’s nemesis, of course—we will hopefully see the fallout of Jane (Gina Rodriguez) dropping the bombshell that she loves Michael, her former fiancé, more than him her son’s father! I bet Rafael won’t be nearly as understanding when it comes time to hammer out their custody agreements.
In addition to all of that, Jane will have to wrangle her stoned mother and grandmother after they apparently ingested edibles.
In this hilarious sneak peek, Alba speaks her first word of English in a fit of giggles and Xo is impressively paranoid. The timing couldn’t be worse as the ladies need to attend an important meeting involving Alba’s citizenship.
Don’t miss all the chaos when “Jane The Virgin” airs on Monday at 9/8c on The CW.
I’ll be the fastest to admit that “The Flash,” now in its second season, is easily one of the coolest hours of television currently on air. It takes the trope of the bravado-shackled, “I-must-do-this-alone” caped crusader to flips it with adorable, geeky speedster who openly embraces his team and supercharges it with loads of heart.
This week’s episode is finds Team Flash came face-to-flashback with Dr. Harrison Wells of Earth 2, Cisco finally came clean about his newly discovered vibe, and Barry (Grant Gustin) and Patty took their spazzy flirtation to the next level. Though it was difficult to pick just a handful, here are the top moments from “The Flash’s" stellar episode, “The Darkness And The Light.”
Cisco hates Harrison The Sequel. To be fair, Cisco (Carlos Valdes) has one excellent reason to hate Dr. Wells—he killed him in an alternate timeline. But outright disdain is an odd hue on the most colorful and optimistic member of Team Flash. Dr. Wells Part Deux is a much better snarky sparring partner than the first, becoming visibly annoyed with having the same face as a murder-happy madman and referring to a sourpussed Cisco as “Crisco.” Best Cisco One-Liner: “"Our Dr. Wells may have been evil but you're just a dick."
The Wild Wests. While is horrific for cops to shoot first and ask questions later, the only police officer that gets a pass is Joe West and his daughter, Iris, by default (mostly because they’re fictional). Detective West (Jesse L. Martin), justifiably overwhelmed with all of the meta-human surprises running around his beat, pumped Harrison 2 with bullets at first sight. Damn Barry and his Matrix-y speedster, bullet-grabbing skills! Still uneasy about Wells’ arrival, he gives Iris (Candice Patton) a gun. She wastes no time using it on the villain-of-the-week, shooting her in the face! These Wests are the best darn gunslingers in Central City!
Iris and Barry reunited. This seasons it seems like Barry and Iris have been on two separate earths for years (in reality, it’s been 1.73 episodes). So it felt like a miracle that they finally remembered that they are besties! Iris rushed into S.T.A.R Labs to check on Barry after he was blinded by weaponized starlight…and Barry reminded her that they can talk about anything. Dear Writers, you better make sure Iris confides in Barry about her possible brother!
Cisco’s No-So Secret Vibe. After months of concealing his predictive powers, Harrison 2’s douchey Apple watch meta-human detector outted Cisco. He immediately received unyielding support from Team Flash, and his own badass superhero nickname: Vibe. Cisco’s supersuit better have a cape!
Reinventing the blind date. Barry successfully asked out the intrepid Patty Spivot, only to be temporarily blinded hours before their date. It entire scenario was predictable and yet somehow perfect with “The Flash’s” dorky spit-shine and Gustin's underrated talents. With Cisco navigating and creepin’ on their date with spy glasses, an earpiece and takeout, Barry managed to make it to the table. Patty, like anyone with eyes, was all in and rightfully flattered by Barry’s blind commitment. Who wants two more episodes of Blind Barry bouncing off walls, coolly recovering and stammering over excuses to cover his blindness?
What was your favorite moment from "The Flash"? Sounds off below!
Small Screen Girl
I am an unabashed pop culture and TV-aholic with no plans to ever seek treatment. Explore this blog and see just how deep my obsession goes.