You know when you feel like you've got a pretty good fake accent down, then you meet someone who has that real accent and you're all sweaty and terrified because you know you're a sham and they're going to rip you apart as soon as you say half a sentence? Fred Armisen does the exact opposite of that in this Funny or Die clip, sitting down with the Clash's Paul Simonon and Mick Jones in character as Ian Rubbish, a punk-obsessed Brit and stylistic plagiarist. The gents wind up in a spontaneous jam sesh, because "that's what punk's all about, innit? Not planning nuffink."
Breaking Bad sledgehammered its own viewership records over and over during its final eight-episode run, and Sunday night's disappointingly cat-free finale — very solid in other aspects, though! — was no exception. After last week's all-time high of 6.6 million viewers, "Felina" drew 10.3 million slobbering fans, 6.7 million of them coming from the Get That Cheddar demographic occasionally referred to as the 18-49 set. Only The Walking Dead has beaten those numbers for AMC's original programming. There were also 1.24 million tweets, so that's good, even if the #goodbyebreakingbad hashtag was gross and weird. BrBa's premiere, back on January 20, 2008, pulled a scant 1.41 million viewers, and, per THR, "only cracked the 2 million mark on one occasion during the first four seasons." Heisenwalt’s empire grew quite impressive indeed — even if, as this groundbreaking clip suggests, everything almost turned out a lot differently and more Quantum Leap–y.
Saturday Night Live has died and been reborn more than a handful of times over the ages, and there's no doubt that this season is a "rebuilding year," as the premiere's spirit guide and host, Tina Fey, suggested. Over the past two seasons, the show has bid good-bye to Andy Samberg, Kristin Wiig, Abby Elliott, Jason Sudeikis, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen (plus last year's newbie Tim Robinson, who has been bumped from featured player to staff writer, and Seth Meyers, who exits in February). The amount of concern this causes you is probably largely based on how familiar you are with the results of past recasting adventures and how dedicated you are to staying up to speed on fake commercials. We have witnessed disastrous eras over the course of SNL’s long history: This vintage New York magazine feature paints a very severe and depressing portrait of the 1994-95 period, another transitional year, which player Janeane Garofalo called "the most miserable experience of [her] life."
The announcement of this season's six new cast members was met with some frustration — again, SNL had shied away from plugging any diversity into its universe, adding five white men and one lone white woman to its roster. Maybe this was an honest assessment of the talent base (somehow I doubt it), maybe it has to do with Lorne Michaels's mysterious star radar, or maybe it's just plain lame. To be fair, the rookies performed well (when they were allowed to), with a negligible amount of visible jangled nerves. When an episode decides to highlight Michelle Obama or Kim Jong-un in a skit, though, I'm going to shred it. J-Pop America Funtime is over.
This week we opened up the hermetically sealed doors of the HoodieDome and welcomed our first podcast guests, Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm of the band Tanlines, to talk about — what else? — Sex and the City. Specifically, we wanted to talk about the show's peculiar place in the Golden Age of Television (as defended by The New Yorker’s Emily Nussbaum a couple weeks ago) and the evolution of the flawed female protagonist since Carrie Bradshaw's tutus and Manolos first graced our screens, from Girls to Veep and Orange Is the New Black. Plus, we all make our picks for the best Golden Age TV antiheroines.
I’ve watched more television in the past three or four years than I watched in the previous 27 or 28. This is mostly because I was limited, as a kid, to occasional and closely monitored rendezvous with basic cable — 90210, Melrose Place, and My So-Called Life were covertly viewed at friends’ houses, or on VHS and the lowest volume while my parents slept — and then I was way too cool for TV for about a decade and a half. But then, then there was 30 Rock, and a subsequent and growing cohort of shows that were about and often created by women, overwhelmingly without the usual tropes of Hollywood-y girl-lives, in which supporting a man’s pursuit of something is the entirety of what’s up. Obviously, I had to see all of it.
Television in general has gotten good, great, or amazing in the last decade, but women had and are having a particular subrenaissance across absurdist comedies like 30 Rock (which finished its run early this year just perfectly); legal-and-family procedurals like The Good Wife; hot soaps like Single Ladies and Mistresses; smart dramedies like the canceled Enlightened and the maybe-canceled Bunheads; and Bravo’s reality oeuvre about mostly older women. (The cosmetic-surgery circuses aside, when else have we seen multiple posses of aging women rumbling around together, causing trouble?) Collectively, this extended, welcome emphasis on female creators, showrunners, writers, and stars has been encouraging conversations about basically everything: race (The Mindy Project), racism (Girls), actually sexual sex (Girls, Inside Amy Schumer), creative ambition (Girls, Nashville), antifeminist feminism (30 Rock), maturity (New Girl), adult friendship (New Girl, Parks and Recreation), work and family (Up All Night, The Good Wife, Veep), work families (Parks and Recreation, Bunheads), illness and death (The Big C), addiction (Nurse Jackie), recovery (Enlightened), age (Nashville), professional identity (Bunheads, Hart of Dixie, Nashville), and, in all of them, the sexism that marks the lives of women, even the able-bodied, heterosexual, and cisgendered, mostly slim and mostly white and almost uniformly rich — rich — women who populate these shows.
Lena Dunham is less than titillated by the fact that Girls is getting its own porn parody (kinky cupcakes in the shower or I don't care). Among other objections ("because it grosses me out"), Dunham takes issue with the dude-centric sexual gaze of the porn's producer, Hustler, "because Girls is, at its core, a feminist action." The comments section under that link are basically the rudest, by the way, but off of Dunham's closing tweet that her XXX name would be "Murray Broadway," one person chimed in to say "If you’ve spent years combating the perception that you’re an entitled child of entertainment privilege, you may want to skip reminding people your first pet was named Murray and you grew up on Broadway."
I've been trying to figure out if there's anything important to say about "I Love It" for about a month now, other than the interesting footnote that Lena Dunham now apparently has influence over mainstream radio play (I heard "I Love It" on KIIS-FM for the first time the day after "Bad Friend" aired). I suppose it's interesting that Icona Pop graduated from the music blogs to the Billboard charts in a matter of months, but that doesn't excite me the way most mainstream-crashing songs do, because whenever I hear this song I have the overwhelming sense that it's trying to sell me something I can't exactly put my finger on. It's already been used in advertisements for smartphones and mail-order shoes, but there's no reason to stop there — it also sounds like energy drinks, casual dining chains, and new-wave tampons. It sounds weirdly out of date, like something that should have come out in the mid-to-early aughts when Le Tigre was still making kids with asymmetrical haircuts bomp around. If it makes Icona Pop and Charli XCX into global household names, then good for them, but I'd rather listen to "Thrift Shop" for the 358th time than continue to get shouted at by these hiply accented ladies.
At every single moment of Lena Dunham's professional existence, there has been a notable and active Anti–Lena Dunham faction. The size and fervor of this faction fluctuates greatly along with occurrences of Dunham's HBO television program, Girls, and her personal life and Instagram account. Charting the spikes of the ALD Faction, you'd have a veritable sine wave, as the action pinged between legitimate content criticism and ad hominem attacks, and heated discussion about the manner in which Hannah Horvath's boobs appeared this week. But that the faction exists, and that the faction isn't going anywhere, is indisputable. And, now, that faction has a king. His name is Christopher Abbott and — up until earlier today, at least, when he abruptly quit the show — he played Charlie on Girls.
This week the Girls in Hoodies bid farewell to Girls's divisive second season. What are we to make of the show's trajectory now that Hannah and Adam are "Together" again? How much responsibility do TV writers have to reassure us they're not as dumb as their characters? Has Ray been the hero of Girls all along? We then move on to address a different sort of televised horror, the premiere of A&E's Bates Motel, and the recently announced American Horror Story: Coven, and what it is exactly that makes a scary show work. Finally, we talk about the recent success of the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarter and a modern fandom culture that just doesn't know when to quit.
Forget Steve Martin and Victoria Tennant (you probably already did forget about her): Chris Ryan and I forged our own L.A. story this week. Reunited on the West Coast, we traded stories about rude airplane passengers and desperate, day-drinking directors before digging into the regular rotation, which included the soppy Girls finale, the problematic new Phil Spector movie, and the promise and implications of the Veronica Mars Kickstarter success story. Because two is never enough, we then invited Rembert Browne in. Rem is in L.A. after 10 grueling days at the SXSW festival, and he arrived loaded for bear with stories about sketchy panels, incredible concerts, and Prince shows that never end. We finished off the hour plus with some chatter about Justin Timberlake and Chris's damning thoughts about luxury. Do you fall in the center of a Venn diagram about Lena Dunham and Large Professor? Then do we have a podcast for you!
After Adam broke down Hannah's door and cartoonishly came to her rescue, there should've been a moment like the one at the end of The Graduate, where you see Ben and Elaine sitting on the bus together, already no longer sure that busting up Elaine's wedding to run off together was the right idea, wordlessly contemplating whether it might in fact have been a terrible, irreparable mistake. Following the big grandiose gesture, after the speech that changes everything, after the hot makeup sex, there's always a soul-crushing point when reality sets in. With evil quickness, life goes back to being tedious and mundane.
Even though we're deep in blockbuster reality season — with American Idol, Survivor, and the just-wrapped The Bachelor all filling the airwaves with hypercompetitive, catfighting, backstabbing energy — the Girls in Hoodies would rather talk about the feel-good phenomenon RuPaul's Drag Race, which may just be the most positive reality show on television. All the talk of wig-tossing and lip-synching puts us in good spirits before tackling one of the darkest episodes of Girls yet. Our feelings about Adam grow ever more complicated, to say the least, but that probably won't stop us from posting Adam Driver fan art all over Tess's Facebook wall.
Hey guys, are those a bunch of nails on your floor, or are you just happy to see us? On this week's pod, Andy and I discussed the most recent, very provocative episode of Girls (1:15), and that show's blindingly good, digressive, weird second season. We then moved on to the Best New Show on Television, The Americans (15:35), with a little chatter about Justified's subtly strong fourth season. We also talked a bit about how every great show needs an "Oh shit!" moment that makes you realize you are cooking with some high heat.
We bring things down to a simmer with a discussion of The Walking Dead (32:45), wherein we celebrate what was possibly the show's greatest episode ("Clear") and bemoan its return to regularly scheduled programming. Come on and join us. Q-tips are totally optional.
For her latest adventure in accidental self-harm, Hannah abraded her eardrum during an overzealous session with a Q-tip; an incident based on something that actually happened to Lena Dunham if she was telling the truth in her tweets about how she ruptured her eardrum by Q-tipping it too hard. Hannah can't do anything without overdoing it. She has a lot of problems with restraint. She always wants the whole jar of olives, but that means she consistently ends up with a huge wooden splinter lodged in her ass. She was drawn immediately and then continuously to Adam because she identified with him; they share the same contradictory mixture of strict asceticism and crazy appetites. Hannah's OCD has the spiritual tinge of compulsive prayer, and she literally cannot stop touching herself. She goes only to extremes, either zero or 11. On the plus side, other than her wails of pain, grisly body horror close-ups, and pathetic call to her parents, Hannah basically dealt with her ear issue like a grownup, even if her emergency was exactly like something a toddler might do.