Now more than ever, pop culture is about the small stuff — an obscure TV show, a few notes in a pop song, a tweet. To celebrate a year of micro moments, every day a new Grantland writer will highlight one specific thing — a Big Little Thing — that we won't soon forget.
There’s a scene from Season 2 of New Girl that I’m pretty sure was meant specifically for me. Not people like me. Me.
Schmidt, the convicted douche with a heart of gold played to cashmere-smooth perfection by Max Greenfield, brings home a cookie for his best friend and loftmate Nick Miller — played by Jake Johnson. There’s no ulterior motive, just a spontaneous act of caring. When Nick balks at the idea that male friends should think about each other in their spare time, Schmidt is incredulous. “We’re men, Schmidt,” Nick shoots back. “The only time a man is allowed to think about another man is when that man is Jay Cutler.” Even as someone who has thought plenty about Jay Cutler, I have to disagree. Mostly because I’ve spent a lot of time this year thinking about Nick Miller, the man who plays him, and what he has to say about people who are my age.
After returning for what was planned as a four-episode arc, Damon Wayans Jr. is now going to ride out the rest of New Girl's third season. Wayans appeared in the pilot as Coach, then vanished to try keeping the ill-fated ship known as Happy Endingsafloat. According to Deadline, this week's New Girl ratings jumped 11 percent from the last original episode a few weeks ago, and now Coach is back for good(ish). He'll continue being billed as a special guest star — meaning he's free to do pilots for next year, like the one he's executive producing for Fox, Man/Child — but he should appear in the majority of the 18 or so remaining episodes.
Halloween episodes are an underappreciated art and, when done well, they're uniquely satisfying. You get to see all your favorite TV buddies in delightfully character-appropriate costumes, and inevitably something weird or scary that would not happen any other week goes down. Here are our favorite spooktacular moments from the small screen — happy early Halloween!
Billie Joe Armstrong has been very busy since he completed treatment for substance abuse early last year: Green Day resumed its touring schedule, there are two Green Day documentaries in the works, and oh yeah, Armstrong just signed on to play Leighton Meester's boyfriend in the "indie drama" (with an indie drama title) Like Sunday, Like Rain. Adam Sandler has an upcoming indie drama too, The Cobbler, but in the battle of sixth-grade school dance chart hits, "Hanukkah Song" stands no chance against anything from the Armstrong catalog. So, moving right along: Armstrong is 41 and Meester is 27, but no one curr in the comments on Deadline's exclusive, because "OMIGOD BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG. OMIGOD. *BREATHE* DIES."
With our two-part preview of the new comedies and dramas on the networks' fall TV schedules released into the wild, the Grantland staff has gathered to offer its recommendations for returning series. So warm up your DVRs, because that's a thing you need to do for the recordings to stick inside the magic show-saving box.
Parks and Recreation (September 26)
Andy Greenwald: One week from today, Parks and Recreation will begin its sixth season with a one-hour episode, partially set in London. The show will be greeted with quiet huzzahs by its fans and admirers, lovingly GIF-ed and Tumbled by its diehards, and generally ignored by the world at large. The next morning, it will be revealed that somewhere between 2 million and 4 million people watched it, a number that is neither good nor bad. The sun will then set and rise again the following day.
There's something both noble and unfair about the quiet brilliance of Parks and Recreation. As the fortunes of NBC have crashed and burned around it, the show has never wavered from its core principles of consistency and quality. For much of its past three seasons, I'd argue that Parks has been the best show on network TV — comedy or drama. It has the strongest, most cohesive cast and the warmest spirit. Where other series strive to maintain a fragile status quo, Parks approaches change the way Special Agent Bert Macklin approaches a locked door. It's never less than good; it's very often great. To steal a line from Amy Poehler's indefatigable Leslie Knope, it's the rare show that one can both like and love.
Fox's Comedy Tuesdays are back this week with some new, bro-ier blood, but we decide to take stock of its rhymes-with-Asmorkable flagship show, New Girl, as it enters its third season. This leads us to a discussion of the Friends sitcom model, the appeal of Zooey Deschanel, and whether or not babies are the death of comedy. We then turn to Britney Spears, her new Euro-clubby single "Werk Bitch," and her disastrous Good Morning America appearance. Nobody puts Britney on a helicopter! We take a moment to roll our eyes at Cher body-slamming Miley Cyrus, then finally turn our attention to Heroes of Cosplay, Syfy's reality show about people who dress up as fictional characters for fame and glory. We'll admit, this was mostly an excuse to talk about how awesome we think cosplay is, but we've never passed out at an anime convention because of a overzealously adjusted steampunk corset, so maybe we have it easy.
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.
Angelina Jolie is "Surprise! Boring in bed." Whaaaaaa? This alleged information comes from shade thrown by her ex, Billy Bob Thornton, who has said, "sometimes, with the model, the actress, the 'sexiest person in the world,' it may be literally like fucking the couch." FUCK YO COUCH, BILLY BOB!
It wasn't a very funny week for fans of culty comedies. Within about 24 hours, ABC evictedDon't Trust the B in Apartment 23 from its Tuesday-night perch, and Fox did the same with its freshman flop Ben & Kate. Both shows have filmed episodes remaining — eight for the former, six for the latter — though neither network has announced any sort of plan to air them. The big bad C-word — cancellation — is about as popular around television these days as another C-word. (Community — what did you think I meant?) Instead, both networks are referring to the shake-ups as "rescheduling." But come on. Even Dawson knows what's up.
Fourteen months ago, Fox debuted New Girl as a star vehicle for the considerable, if occasionally adorkable, charms of Zooey Deschanel. Now in its second season, the sitcom has evolved into one of the best shows on television largely thanks to the comedic firepower of its emerging ensemble. Much of the credit for this transformation goes to Jake Johnson, who plays Nick, a struggling bartender/zombie novelist whose preternaturally old-man crankiness clicks beautifully with Deschanel's Etsy-fied whimsy. Johnson's role was originally written as the quiet straight guy; New Girl took flight once its producers realized the good things that can happen when Johnson — a Chicago native with a welcome dash of Belushi bile — starts yelling.
Scarlett Johansson Is Depressed: "She was totally out of control in Moscow recently" at a champagne brand's promo event. "She was drinking nonstop and barely slept. It was obvious that she was trying to numb her feelings." She's sad about her breakup with ad exec Nate Naylor. "She's not used to going home alone — it's a shock to her system. The fact that Ryan Reynolds is happily married while she's single again has done a number on her. And the drinking is taking its toll — she's been crying because she feels so fat." She got a lucky horseshoe tattooed on her ribcage "because she's feeling a bit unlucky." A rebound with ex-boyfriend Jared Leto quickly went south. "She thought a fling with Jared would make her feel better, but since it was only a hookup, it only made things worse." Time for Lost in Translation 2? I know I'd pay good money to watch Scarlett be sad in Russia.
Unlike his aggressively unmotivated New Girl character, Nick Miller, Jake Johnson is proving to be quite the industrious type. Along with Max Winkler, scion of the Fonze (note: "He was just a regular dad. It wasn't like he drove me to school on a motorcycle in a leather jacket, while I was in a little side car with my hair gelled back"), Johnson has sold a comedy pitch to his current home, Fox.
I have a confession to make: I'm a Munnhead. That's an Olivia Munn fan, for you non-Munnheads (and future Munnheads). Therefore I was very excited to hear about the casting of Olivia Munn as a new love interest for Jake Johnson's character Nick for an arc on the sophomore season of New Girl. How did Munn turn her reputation around from a "women in comedy" lightning rod to an actual bona fide woman in comedy? By proving she can take a joke.