My Working Mom by Peter Glassman (illustrated by Tedd Arnold)


my working mom

Naturally, as Tina Fey’s biggest fan, I have read her memoir Bossypants at least three times (and listened to her audiobook at least twice). In the book she discusses the subtle criticism and judgement working mothers are given. She uses the 1994 picture book My Working Mom as an example. While she admits that the book was probably written with good intentions, it may not be a big step forward for feminism or even women’s rights. You can read this portion of the book here. In a nutshell, the book is narrated by a young girl who discusses how hard it is having a working mom because, sometimes, she comes home late and sometimes she doesn’t spend a whole lot of time with her family. However, the girl counters these complaints with happy moments – like her mother throwing her birthday parties and cheering the loudest at her soccer games. The little girl also has some strong admiration for her mother’s work. The little girl concludes her story with “Even though I don’t always like having a working mom, I just can’t picture mine any other way. So I guess if I had to choose, I’d keep my mom the way she is.”

I can understand this fictional little girl’s struggle. Thinking back to when I was little, I have memories of seeing my father in the home as much as I saw my mother. My father worked while my mother was student. By elementary school, both my parents worked while my older siblings were there to watch over me. By middle school, my mother was working more hours than my father. She’d leave home early in the morning and come home late. Sometimes, unfortunately, there were full weeks where I just wouldn’t see my mom because of her work. And I was obviously sad about that. However…I was sad because I loved both my parents equally and I wanted to see them both equally…not necessarily because I believed that mothers should be like the “stay-at-home” mothers on television. For as long as I could remember, I’ve never thought a woman’s place was in the home. If my mother had stayed home and depended on my father to earn our family’s income, neither me nor my older siblings would have the opportunities we were given growing up. And I think that’s one of the main complaints about the book. Although we have to keep in mind that the book was published during the mid nineties, the book is “outdated” that it portrays the working mother as a strong, yet inconvenient anomaly because…well…this isn’t how mothers are supposed to act.

Just think…would this book had worked if it had been entitled “My Working Dad?” Yes, there has been plenty of children’s media that has portrayed fathers as being neglectful workaholics. But those media don’t necessarily criticize (and I realize that “criticize” may be too strong of a word but you get the point) fathers for the simple act of being “working fathers.” Fathers are allowed to work…as long as they don’t take it too far. However, idea of a mother working? That’s already going too far! I’m not trying to put thoughts into the author’s head. Like Fey almost passive aggressively points out, Glassman and Arnold probably had the best intentions in writing this book…but the book still highlights a problem we as a society have with women who dare decide to support their families financially. One part of the book that bugs me is the part where the girl laments her mother’s bad cooking which makes me ask…why isn’t the father doing the cooking then?

It also doesn’t help that the mother in the book is a witch. Her occupation is literally that of a witch. And I can understand how that can throw some people off. But, here’s the kicker: despite my own personal feminist leanings, I would still recommend this book. I still think this book has more good things going for it than bad. From a technical standpoint, it is a well made picture book. Glassman’s text itself isn’t extraordinary…but what I find fascinating about the text is that it never makes reference to the fact that the mother is a witch. That part of the story is portrayed through the illustrations. So while the text talks about the mother thinking her meetings are boring, the illustration shows the mother at some sort of witch’s gathering. Or when the girl excitedly talks about how everyone in class thinks her’s mother’s job is cool…it’s essentially because, well duh, she’s a witch! The point is…it’s as if the Glassman is trying to be neutral and grounded in his text while Arnold’s illustrations (which were apparently conceived by Glassman) tells a fantastical story. It’s a very clever technique that allows kids to create their own stories with the pictures.

In terms of the message – again, I understand the complaints from Fey and others. And hopefully books published in the 21st century would deal with the reality of working mothers better. However, I still think the sweet ending by a tolerant and understanding and loving daughter saves the book. It’s not like the girl is saying “Oh well! I guess having a working mom isn’t so bad. I can deal.” She’s ending by saying that she wouldn’t want any other type of mom. And as someone who grew up with a working mom (a working mom who was so busy one night that she forgot my birthday), I wouldn’t want any other type of mom either. And not only because I love her, obviously. Because I had first hand experience at how malleable gender roles could be. And that having a father that drove me to soccer and cooked me dinner wasn’t weird or undesirable at all. I learned I could be anything I wanted to be because of my working mom. And I’d like to think the fictional girl realizes this when she’s older (because it seems like she’s already getting to that point of realization).

It looks like this book is still striking a chord with young readers by the fact that the book is unusually checked out of my local library (or it could be checked out by another curious Tina Fey fan who knows?) But, regardless, I would recommend this book because it has a positive message (even if it doesn’t hit a home run) and the pictures are really cute. It can be a semi-appropriate book for Halloween as well. I think the negative reviews are from people who let Fey’s glowing recommendation affect their viewpoint. I don’t think they’re fair assessments. However, in between reading this book to your child and watching Frozen for millionth time, be sure to let him or her know that they can be anything they want.

8/10

Mei Li by Thomas Handforth


mei li

In 1939, Thomas Handforth became the second illustrator to win the Caldecott Medal. However, he was not only the first illustrator to win for a book he also wrote, but Mei Li is technically the first winner to have its own “original story” (while the very first winner, Animals of the Bible is simply a bunch of so-so pictures with bible verses attached to them). Mei Li is set in China. Handforth lived in China for a while before publishing the book and his passion for the culture certainly shows in his illustrations. For a book set in the 1930’s, the pictures are surprisingly detailed and inoffensive. He uses a lot of “white space” (that is, he rarely sketches overwhelming scenery or background), but the people, the costumes/clothes and even the animals are drawn well throughout.

While the pictures are great, the story itself is interesting, yet conflicting. The story revolves around  young girl named Mei Li who decides to sneak out to the fair with his brother – something she’s otherwise prohibited from doing because of her gender. After her seemingly exciting misadventures, she is relieved to be back home, where she is told by “The Kitchen God” that, essentially, her kingdom is the home she lives in. This book seemingly has a “Home is where the heart is” message which (particularly considering that she is a girl) might seem a bit outdated. However, I have to remember that this was the 30’s…and it was China! And that it’s not really fair to read this book through such a rigid contemporary lens. Also, after the Kitchen God makes his declaration, Mei Lei ends the book by saying “It will do for a while anyway” with a happy sigh, signifying that she plans on breaking free and finding more outside adventures when she is older. So, I guess, in that sense, Handforth is playing with traditional gender roles. Mei Li is a spunky, resourceful girl who is independent for most of the book. This is definitely fine for the 30’s. I just hope any modern children reading the book won’t get the wrong idea (although…I’d be surprised if children were still reading this!)

The text isn’t as “illuminating” as the pictures. With sentences like “Inside the house on the morning before New Year’s Day, everyone was very busy,” Handforth wasn’t much of a writer. The text never really pulled me in; and I doubt it will do the same for today’s youth. But as an adult, I appreciate the illustrations and the history behind them.

6/10 (4 for the illustrations, 2 for the writing)

Check this book out on Amazon, Open Library, and your local library!

Saturday Night Live Review (Bill Hader / Hozier)


So…I’m doing something a little different for this review. Usually, I don’t post a review until the next morning/afternoon, after I’ve watched the episode at least twice. However…Sunday is going to be so busy for me that I might as well pull a Hitfix and review the sketches as I am watching them now. Which means (for people not familiar with my recaps) this review will be posted (or, I guess, is posted) a lot earlier than usual. Also…this means this review is mostly based on first impressions. Will that change anything? Will there be sketches I initially hate that I will love after a second viewing. I guess…well, you all will probably never know. But here’s the review anyway! Enjoy!

Kim Jong Un Cold Open: Sad, but this is probably the strongest opening the show has had so far this season…even if the none of the jokes were particularly original or fresh. But between Bobby Moynihan’s recurring tap dancing skills, a brief Pete Davidson sighting and the smartly short runtime, this was a fine sketch for a part of the show that’s usually not the best.

Monologue: I’ve been so excited for this episode all week. Bill Hader is one of the my favorite SNL cast members and one of the most talented. His impressions are spot on, like Kristen Wiig’s (who, obviously, makes an appearance here). However, in his monologue, Hader brings up the interesting point that (unlike Wiig) he’s never really sung on the show. So…that was the theme of this monologue. It’s always fun seeing Kristen and I liked the Harvey Fierstein cameo. But…hopefully this isn’t representative of the night. I probably would have simply preferred a nice “back and forth” between Wiig and Hader.

Herb Welch: Nice to see this one back. This sketch had the senile Herb Welch attempt to interview students and teachers at a “virginity rally.” Besides the “maybe” live glitch (was Hader supposed to put his left hand off screen so it would “reach around” and hit Davidson from the other end?), this is a solid sketch that, like the cold open, doesn’t overstay its welcome. Welch’s “why didn’t your wife take your last name?” line to Killam cracked me up. And, hey! More Pete Davidson. Yay!

The Group Hopper: Yeah, this is definitely the first great sketch of the night. This fake trailer is a parody of all the young adult dystopian adaptations that have been popping up lately.The sketch particularly pokes fun at the genres use of fake words that sound serious, seemingly forced romances, and the whole “you belong to this group” objectives that the main character attempts to escape from. Bill Hader as a painted Effie Trinket is the highlight. But it’s nice seeing Pete Davidson and the other featured players have a sketch to themselves. All four killed it!

Hollywood Game Night: I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…I am a huge sucker for these “celebrity impression” sketches. You know sketches that are pretty much “fill in the blank” types. However, rarely do we get a sketch where all the impressions work. This is one of those rare exceptions. All the impressions cracked me up. Beck Bennett’s Nick Offerman was surprisingly on point. Cecily Strong as the national spokeswoman for everything Sofia Vergara made me stupid giggly. Kristen Wiig’s Kathie Lee Gifford was a welcome return – as was Hader’s Al Pacino. Kate McKinnon held the fort down well as Lesbian number 2 Jane Lynch. And, as much as I love Hollywood Game Night…the challenges on that show are stupid easy and the famous contestants on that show are stupid…stupid.

For the Price of a Cup of Coffee: I haven’t actually seen these types of commercials in years. But…this was a still a funny parody of them. It revolved around the poor African people in the commercial asking for more money than 39 cents a day. Any sketch that features Leslie Jones (who at this point should probably be upgraded to featured cast member) automatically goes up a few points. I love her.

Love is a Dream: I suppose this is a good time to discuss Jan Hooks, who sadly passed away a few days ago at the young age of 57. As someone who was born in 1991…I’m not too familiar with “classic SNL” (particularly that messy 80’s decade). But I was first introduced to Jan Hooks and her comic genius in her season 4 recurring role as Jenna’s money hungry deadbeat mother on 30 Rock. Her “I sexually assaulted Scottie Pippen” line still cracks me up on random occasions. One major fault in the last three seasons of the show is that they never brought her back. Hell! I even legitimately thought she deserved an Emmy nomination for that year. After her small cameo in the “Women of SNL” special that aired that same year, I did seek out more of sketches from the online archives…and I fully understand why fans regard her as one of the best cast members. It’s a pity that she was on the show during a time when it was still undeniably a “boy’s club” (we can thank Gasteyer, Oteri, Dratch, Poehler and, especially, Fey for changing that). But her talent and comedic skills are still very apparent…particularly in that diner sketch she did with Nora Dunn and Alec Baldwin (a sketch that still utterly confuses after 10 viewings of it…I still love it).

I’m really glad Bill Hader donated some of his hosting time to honor Jan Hooks by re airing one of my favorite SNL sketches of all time. It’s a very strange sketch for SNL because…it’s humorless. It’s not funny…and it’s not so much a parody as it is a homage to classic movie musicals from Hollywood’s golden age. And that’s what makes it so brilliant. It’s beautiful, charming, and Hooks and the also deceased Phil Hartman show so much raw chemistry that if I had no idea who they were, I would think they were married in real life. I’m not saying “digital shorts” need to follow this lead every week…but it would be nice if, this season, the writers experimented with a sketch that’s as unironically heartfelt as this (Mooney and Bennett came close last year with their “I know” short). Anyway…perfect sketch. Perfect tribute. I wish Hooks could have made one last current appearance for us…but, despite her limited work after SNL, she created enough of a legacy (and, hello!, she was nominated for a guest acting Emmy for 3rd Rock From the Sun!)

Weekend Update: I think this is the SNL where Michael Che finally got comfortable and came to his own. His little aside about how gay men who didn’t want to get married before this week will finally have to was hilarious. Pete Davidson (who is finally having the night I’ve wanted for him) came back to do a bit about buying an expensive gold chain after listening to a 2 Chainz (or maybe it was T-Pain…one of them) song wasn’t as funny as his last Weekend Update appearance…but it was a nice “opening act for the main event: STEFONNN!!! And, yes, I cheered and laughed with the rest of the audience. There isn’t another character that can receive that type of applause (Drunk Uncle comes the closest). I was a little worried about how this would work since part of what made Stefon so great was his “back and forth” with Seth Meyers. But, Che (who was oddly “given” both special guests this week) didn’t have to speak much during the segment. All Hader had to do was repeat “Daniel Cortese” another time and I (along with Hader) would lose it. Great segment overall.

Puppetry for Advanced Students: They’ve done this sketch back before during the Seth MacFarlane episode from a couple years back. While this second go-around was still funny…it (obviously) wasn’t the revelation that it was the first time. But Bill Hader still does a skilled job as an ashamed war vet who is projecting through his puppet. The cigarette smoke scene and the flashback scene were the two fresh moments that really made me LOL.

Inside SoCal: Another solid short from Good Neighbor. This is sort of off topic…but now that he’s part of the writing staff, I’d like to see Nick Rutherford make a cameo in one of the videos (if writers Leslie Jones and Mike O’Brien can still make appearances than I don’t see why this can’t be a possibility.)

Cat in the Hat: A great weird sketch to end the night on. This is strange considering I rewatched my old VHS of the Cat in the Hat animated special last week for some reason.

And, overall, this was a great episode. Clearly this is strongest episode so far this season. Maybe I’m just a sucker for Bill Hader and all his characters. The show had a semi-slow start, but pretty much was on fire since the tasteful Jan Hooks tribute. I don’t think my opinion of this episode will change after my Sunday morning second viewing.

MVP: I’m tempted to say Pete Davidson since he appeared so much this week. But I can’t give him this prestigious honor after one episode of prominence. I think…I’ll give it to Taran Killam, who gave a great Christoph Waltz impression in the HGN sketch and appeared consistently throughout the rest of the episode.

I think next week will be a rerun. But the next host will be Jim Carrey which is exciting since I think he did such a great job the last time he hosted. Let’s hop he brings back Alan Thicke.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday Night Live Review (Sarah Silverman / Maroon 5)


sarah silverman snl

This is an episode I’ve been looking forward to all week. In fact, to prepare for this episode, I rewatched a few episodes from one of the most underrated modern cable comedies: The Sarah Silverman Program. I just find the series so random and irreverent. It lasted three glorious (but short) seasons and earned Silverman a semi-surprising Emmy nod for Best Actress. Along with that show, I just think Silverman is a funny person. She’s great in interviews. Her stand up is great (poop and vagina jokes and all). She’s even good in School of Rock, which was probably definitely my first time of being exposed to her. In terms of “female comedians,” she is right behind Fey, Louis-Dreyfus, and Wiig. Although the humor in The Sarah Silverman Program is VERY different from that of SNL, I was still looking forward to seeing if the writers could write for Silverman the same way they could write for other stand up comedians like Dane Cook and, more importantly, Louis CK. This episode wasn’t the rare “slamdunk” I was unreasonably expecting…but it was still a stronger episode than last week with a couple sketches that could have some real staying power. And, yeah, Silverman is a very game and energetic host.

Like last week, I won’t be discussing every sketch lie; but I’ll highlight sketches I really liked or the ones I believe are notable. So…let’s just skip the cold open…

Monologue: Anytime a host willingly decides not to do a singing monologue, it’s great. However, in Silverman’s case…that wouldn’t have been so bad. If you’ve seen her previously mentioned show, every episode has at least one musical break that’s hilariously weird. However, I still very much enjoyed Silverman’s very natural monologue. The first half consists of her sitting on a female audience member’s lap and fishing compliments from her. The second part references her short stint as an SNL featured player where she would only ask questions from the audience. It’s a creative bit that thankfully had no technical difficulties. Also, I would love to hear that “Black Guy…God’s Mouth” joke that made Lorne Michaels crack up.

The Fault in Our Stars 2: The Ebola in Our Everything: As much as I love the movie (and book) The Fault in Our Stars, the funniest thing in this parody is the idea that kids with terminal illness are somehow overly articulate and thoughtful. So even those moments before Olive (Silverman) reveals she actually has ebola when Killam is sprouting out nonsense about “oblivion” made me laugh. But yeah, that was a very nice twist; and this was overall a very good commercial featuring a too-short Terrence Howard impression by Kenan Thompson.

joan rivers snl

Joan Rivers Tribute: The only problem with this sketch was Sarah Silverman pretty much flubbing every punch line (her impression, otherwise, was passable). I’m a sucker for sketches where multiple cast members play different celebrities so…this was one of them. Bobby Moynihan’s confused, but overjoyed, Benjamin Franklin and Sasheer Zamata’s Eartha Kitt stood out. But, overall, this was a nice, tasteful tribute to the great Joan Rivers. But, again, Silverman’s inability to read cue cards threw the audience off.

Whites: Awww…it’s like Mike O’Brien never left. Anyway, this commercial, in my opinion, parodied the (few) American white people who, for some reason, feel victimized (when they’re not). The white people who somehow believe “white extinction” is a thing (it’s not and BTW, if white people are becoming extinct because of interracial coupling…then so is every other race…but the “white race” is the only race that can be pure). The white people who somehow believe that because their ancestors barged into a land that wasn’t theirs to begin with, stole it from Native Americans, and created this whole new country, they deserve some kind of parade for that “achievement.” The white people who believe that their historical oppression of other races and their undeniable privilege through the years somehow had no effect on the fact their race accomplished so much. The white people who freak out over the fact that we’ve had ONE non-white president vs. the 43 white ones we’ve had before him. Again, I’m not saying this is all white people. But there is a passionate group that lurks around…and they play poker with the MRAs and the “pro-family” homophobes.

Moving on…

Forgotten TV Gems: Kenan looked like he was having so much fun with this character (Reese De’WHAT?). I expect to see him again. But, besides that, I thought this was a good sketch about a forgotten TV show that featured women who are nice to each other (as opposed to the female to female backstabbing we see in the standard soap). The first scene with Cecily pouring a substance (later turned out to be Emergen-C) into Silverman’s drink was great.

Weekend Update: Although not as consistently tight as last week (Al Sharpton didn’t do much for me), there were still a couple moments I really liked. One was Kate McKinnon and Silverman as the feminist indie folk band “Garage and Her” where they proclaim that everything is a woman, including Italians and Walt Disney. As great as Silverman was…I sort of wish another cast member had played her role so we could see this bit recur. I thought it was funny. I also liked the back and forth between Jost and Che about what they can and cannot say (Jost can’t say “in da club” while Che can’t say “Thank you for your help, Officer.”) While Che still needs to work on annunciation and Jost needs to loosen up a bit, I have faith in this duo. Like I mentioned last week, Che’s “relaxed, conversational” approach could work well with Jost’s more professional, yet vanilla schtick. They just need time.

tina turner snl

Rolling on a River: OK. The audience wasn’t feeling this one. And I can’t say I laughed out loud watching. But…it sort of reminded me of “Santa’s My Boyfriend” from a years back. A sketch that’s more entertaining than anything else. I thought the singing and the dancing were very well done (Cecily, Sasheer, and Silverman) and the asides about their miserable lives on the boat made me smile at least. But…considering how muted the audience was, I’m not quite sure how this one made it past dress.

Car Proposal: Yeah…it looks like I’m pretty much reviewing every sketch sans the cold open. Ugh. What can I say? It was a solid episode. And this was a solid sketch. I could have done without the Adam Levine a bit. I think this sketch needed a couple more rewrites. But I definitely LOL’d when Moynihan first popped up with that engagement ring.

The December Generation: A funny sketch that parodied that romantic movie trope where two characters begin saying the same thing at the same time with a mutual understanding. God…I’ve always hated that.

Vitamix: Apparently, this is actually a real product that costs 650 dollars. Although…what Vanessa Bayer did with that apple was pretty impressive. Maybe the price is worth it. Anyway…I think this is another sketch (like car proposal) that needed a few more rewrites. It’s not as great as the dog food commercial parody from last season that featured Seth Rogen and Cecily Strong. But…eh, whatevs. It’s the last sketch.

sarah silverman snl

I’m a little surprised and disappointed that Pete Davidson couldn’t appear at all this week considering how much buzz and praise he got last week. Hopefully he’ll do something great with Bill Hader next week. I need to see him as a real “sketch performer” before I can figure out why exactly he was hired. But, the rest of the episode was good. And hopefully Silverman will appear again next year. She seemed like she had fun and reviews seem “decent” at best so…success?

MVP: Like usual, Taran Killam was given a lot (almost too much to be honest…another actor could have played his role in the car proposal sketch). But I think this was an unusually strong episode for Kenan Thompson. Clearly, if this is his last season, then he’ll want to leave on a high note. This episode proves that he’s still relevant to the cast.

Thank you all for reading. See ya all next week!!!! (Hugs a bunch of SNL cast members).

Saturday Night Live Review (Chris Pratt / Ariana Grande)


chris pratt

Yay! So, after taking a year off from writing regular reviews, I have decided to come back. I guess I just missed reviewing this crazy show. However, if you missed it, you can still read a list of my favorite sketches from season 39. 

First things first – let’s discuss some of the big changes this year. Four of the new featured players from last year were let go. I saw potential in all the new cast members and I was hoping that they would be given another chance. However, after Lorne Michaels made that not-so-cryptic announcement that there would be some changes for the new season last summer, I pretty much knew that the underused Noel Wells and John Milhiser would be sacked. Brooks Whelan was also let go, along with (surprisingly IMO) Mike O’Brien (however, he is still a writer so…he’s employed!) Kyle Mooney and Beck Bennett staying was a no-brainer (however, I knew they wouldn’t be upgraded to main cast member yet). And Sasheer simply deserved a full year so I knew she wouldn’t be taken out either (although considering how little she had to do in this episode, I’m already worried).

I’ll discuss the new cast members later in this recap but I just want to point out that there are a couple new writers I’m excited for. It’s good to see Nick Rutherford finally join the SNL family after being snubbed last year despite the fact that the other members of Good Neighbor (Mooney and Beckett) were hired. I’m also very excited that CollegeHumor’s Streeter Seidell was hired. I love CollegeHumor and (although it’s sad seeing many of the older comedians leave the site behind) it’s nice seeing writers and performers on that site move on to “bigger and, well, bigger” things.

So…I’m not going to necessarily discuss EVERY sketch from the night (esp. since this is a longer than usual introduction), but I’ll highlight my favorite (and maybe my least favorite) sketches of the night and other notable moments. Welcome back! Season 40!

New Opening Sequence: Y’know…I didn’t realize how much I missed the “scenes from New York city” opening. But after a couple seasons of just head shots, I really love this new opening…even if some/most of the fake smiles from the cast members seem a little much. When I first watched this episode on television, I could barely hear Darell Hammond. He’s a little clearer on my computer download. Hopefully he develops a more commanding sound like Don Pardo…but I can’t think of someone more suited for this job.

chris pratt snl

Alive Toys: Honestly, my favorite part about this sketch is Kyle Mooney. He does a very nice job playing a lonely kid on his birthday. Overall, this isn’t the kind of sketch I could watch 10 times and be entertained. But, the part where He-Man and Lion-O (played by Taran Killam and Chris Pratt) “pleasure themselves” is uncomfortably funny. It seems like Ariana Grande (playing She-Ra) was plopped into this sketch just for the sake of having the musical guest in a sketch. But Aidy’s line about She-Ra being a “freak” makes it worth it, I suppose. Oh! Cecily Strong as the uninterested older sister is also great.

Vet’s Office: I’m genuinely surprised that the writers thought this could be a recurring sketch…but I’m laughing. I’m just not sure this would be fine a third time. But, yeah, Cecily bluntly telling someone their pet is dead is funny.

Marvel Can’t FAIL!: I’d watch Pam…only if it starred Aidy Bryant. Seriously, though, Bryant has perfected her “smiley middle aged woman” character. It’s always funny at this point. And I feel like “Pam” is the obvious go-to name for that type of character.

pete davidson

Weekend Update: Weekend Update was quite excellent this week…mostly because of the guests. First up was Cecily Strong’s infamous “Girl You Wish” character. Here are some of my favorite lines:

“Welcome back” (to new co-anchor Michael Che)

“I’m thinking about it 25/7!”

“Let me mansplain this for you in terms you can manderstand.”

“Every five minutes, another species…”

“I have a crush on Gandhi! But I’m sure Jessica discovered India too!”

When I found out that Cecily Strong would be leaving Weekend Update, I was upset because between her and Jost, she was definitely the better anchor. However, apparently this was her own decision because she wanted to do more character work, which…OK. As long as she brings out this character at least three more times this season, it might be worth it. Next up, Leslie Jones came back to do a bit on being single. I just love her raw enthusiasm and energy…and I think this bit was easier to swallow than her last bit on slavery (although I, at least, appreciated the risk that first bit took). The last guest was newcomer Pete Davidson who did a very funny bit about “going down on a guy” for money to support his family (which looks weird without the full context…he has very good reasoning) He must be related to Andy Samberg somehow. The same big, crooked teeth. The same smile. The nose. This was a very good debut for Davidson (sort of reminded me of Cecily Strong’s Weekend Update debut from a couple years ago). And he trended pretty high on Twitter. A lot of people are really excited for him (especially the ladies who think he’s cute). He didn’t do much else this episode. I think I can’t truly make a conclusion about him until I see him in a few more sketches. I think a successful player is someone who can be funny in the live sketches (even if that’s not their strong point, ie. Andy Samberg, Kyle and Beck). But, so far, for a 20 year old, he has a lot of natural charm and confidence. And, hey…this is the first cast member who’s younger than me. So…now I officially feel old.

As for Colin Jost and Michael Che…they were OK. Che needs to some work. I cringed when he made a mistake during his first joke (say what you want about Strong…but she didn’t make any obvious stumbles during her first joke…although it was her second year on the show). Che also has some enunciation issues. But…we’ll see. As for Jost…I don’t dislike him as much as most people seem to do. He’s sort of…plain white…but he could make that work for him. For example, during the “Cheer Up, President Obama” segment, his attempts at trying to groove to the music were funny in itself. And, I liked the segment because it was a nice way for those two to work together. And this Che line makes me crack up:

“Remember, no matter what, the brothers are always going to love you. I mean, you could lose a war to Canada and we’d still paint murals of you in the hood. Right between Martin Luther King and Aaliyah.” Yep. True.

Jost also had a funny line early on:

“The company has strengthened security for its iCloud storage system in response to the recent hacking of celebrity nude photos. But if you really don’t want anyone to see your naked photos, you can just hide them in that free U2 album.”

90’s Sitcom: I was going to call this sketch “TGIF” sitcom (just because I get strong Boy Meets World vibes from this sketch), but apparently this “show” actually airs on NBC so…that’s not going to work. Anyway, last season, Beck and Kyle did a similar sketch with Andrew Garfield that was only made available online. I’m glad this idea was brought back. It’s just…you have to be a nineties kid to understand. Sorry, Generation Z.

leslie jones

NFL Player Introductions: I wasn’t crazy about the NFL cold open (mostly because I didn’t know who any of those people were). But I really liked this simple, weird little gem where the players have introduce themselves with the crimes they committed. Jay Pharoah as the Somali pirate got the biggest laugh out of me. But seeing cameos from Jost and Che (I’m assuming those two won’t be appearing in many sketches throughout the season and will just focus on their Weekend Update duties a la Seth Meyers) and Leslie Jones made me smile.

Video Game Testing: The last sketch wasn’t the weirdest “last sketch” the show has produced, but…it was still pretty weird. It involved kids testing a game that mostly involves Vanessa Bayer and Christ Pratt making out. Hey. We also got to see Pratt’s abs for a second so…yay! It was a nice way of seeing Pete Davidson in another live sketch (he was also in the NFL sketch) and the underused Sasheer and Bobby.

chris pratt anna faris snl

Goodbye: Seeing Anna Faris and Chris Pratt kiss was cute…seeing Leslie Jones interrupt the lovefest gave me one last chuckle.

Ariana Grande sounded great. I was hoping she’d perform “Problem” but…that’s sort of an old song. She’s performed a million times before. And I can’t blame her for wanting to showcase a couple newer songs. But, yeah, I’m a fan of Ariana..even if I can’t understand anything she’s singing.

Overall, premieres are always a little wonky. They’re rarely perfect (which is weird considering the writers have sort of had the summer off). But I’m definitely excited for the new season. Chris Pratt was a good host and blended well with the cast. Beck and Kyle are already starting to have a stronger presence on the show. Despite the Emmy nod, Kate McKinnon was still underused in this episode. Hopefully that’ll change in the next few weeks. Cecily and Taran continue their co-dominance.

MVP: Aidy Bryant had a great premiere. She got to say “LIVE FROM NEW YORK.” She appeared in most of the sketches. And she was especially great working her inner Nicki Minaj in that bar sketch with Chris Pratt. To think we almost wrote her off a couple seasons ago. Now I can’t imagine the show without her.

Next week! Sarah Silverman! And, hopefully, I’ll still be doing these! Bye!

Some Quick Thoughts on the 2014 Emmys


julianna margulies the good wife

I’m going to write this post in bullet point form. Most of my thoughts are extended from my live tweets that I’m pretty sure no one paid attention too.

  • Be careful what you wish for. Last year, we got a lot of surprising winners and everyone was mad (how dare Jeff Daniels win!) This year, we got a lot typical, “boring” winners and…well, it looks like everyone is mad again. Not saying my predictions are perfect…but if I had played it completely safe…then I probably would have predicted Ty Burrell, Gail Mancuso, and Aaron Paul. Honestly, many of the acting winners were genuinely deserving (Bryan Cranston beating Matthew McConnaughey was more satisfying than I thought it would be). But other wins (like all the Modern Family love) made me a little queasy. Five Comedy Series wins in a row. It’s a great show…but it’s never been number 1 on my list and, at most, 2 wins would have been appropriate enough. But…hey, I predicted it when everyone else was predicting Orange (which didn’t have a good night) so…I guess I feel good?
  • Overall, the comedy wins were a little disappointing. I supported a Julia Louis-Dreyfus win…but that coupled with no genuinely surprising wins in the other categories makes it more bitter than sweet. Did Gail Mancuso need a second Emmy?!?
  • The Drama categories were also predictable…but I’m definitely happy that Breaking Bad dominated for their last year. Walley-Beckett winning for writing “Ozymandias” was especially awesome. Bryan Cranston and Anna Gunn winning for their intense performances in that episode also made me happy. Aaron Paul’s win is a little less welcome for me because I REALLY wanted Josh Charles to win. But…I had silly tears in my eyes when Julianna Margulies won. So friggin’ deserved. Yes, she has won before. But it’s an extraordinary win considering she wasn’t even nominated last year. Without Tatiana Maslany in the category, she gave the best performance in the category, had the best episode. As a supporter of network drama, this seemed like a victory for that (I liked Margulies’ shout out to the fact they create 22 episodes a year). Margulies’ win was my absolute favorite of the night.
  • The Movie/Miniseries category was just freaking weird. Not bad necessarily…but weird. I am very very glad Martin Freeman won for Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch winning for Leading Actor seems appropriate. Jessica Lange winning for Lead Actress is (excuse my French) awful and literally any of the other actresses would have been better. The actresses in category were nominated for movies that didn’t receive much widespread support so I’m going to say that voters watched “Bitchcraft,” voted for Lange and called it a day. The Normal Heart and Fargo didn’t dominate as much as we all thought they would (Sherlock took a lot of their thunder), but it still managed to win the two big awards.
  • Off the top of my head, some of the best moments during the ceremony includes: JLD and Bryan Cranston’s everything, Andy Samberg’s King Joffrey impression, the beautiful memoriam featuring Sara Bareilles singing “Smile,” Amy Poehler being referred to as Beyonce, Ricky Gervais, Billy Eichner on the street (“Seth…MacFarlane?”), questions from the audience, Woody and Matthew’s silly banter, and Bryan Cranston winning after Julia Robert’s clear biased love for True Detective was great. As much as I hate her win, Gail Mancuso probably had my favorite speech, maybe. Sarah Silverman running up the stairs to accept her surprise Emmy was fun.
  • Overall, I thought Seth Meyers is great. I just think his style is simple. No big production numbers. No showing off. I mean, I love Jimmy Fallon and NPH as much as the next person, but I really enjoyed Seth Meyers’s “Weekend Update” vibe he portrays on his talk show and during tonight’s ceremony. I really enjoyed the opening monologue, particularly the comments about network vs. cable television (vs. Netflix). Ironically, Netflix didn’t do all that well tonight. I don’t think they won anything. Hey. At least Uzo still has her Emmy!

I always feel a little sad after an Emmy ceremony. It’s like “I obsessed all summer for THIS??” But…I wouldn’t change it. I love award shows. I love talking about the Emmys. And I’ve had fun looking at the races, and making in depth analysis that’s only second to Gold Derby (IMO). If you read one of my articles…or even just this one. Thank you. I’m not being paid for the Page Views…but it’s still fun seeing so many people read my stuff. Byee!

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Final 2014 Emmy Predictions!


Hey guys! Hey guys! Hey guys! So, I know I’m a bit late with this post. In fact, I wanted to have this written before the Creative Arts Emmys so I could post my predictions for the Guest acting categories. But between relatives visiting and the internet shutting down for two days…I just couldn’t write this post during the time I wanted. But there are still a bunch of categories left so…let’s get on with this! Here are my final predictions for the major categories.

For more Emmy stuff (including reviews of all the nominees), click here!

Movie/Miniseries

Miniseries: Sigh…if only True Detective had submitted here, then we’d have a real race. But, right now, (unless the Academy wants to throw overdue recognition Treme‘s way), this is Fargo’s to lose.

Movie: Sherlock won four Emmys last Sunday, signifying widespread support for the program. However…I think the buzz and acclaim for The Normal Heart is too great for it to lose this one at this point. It’s in the same league as past HBO champs (Game Change, Behind the Candelabra, Grey Gardens, Recount, and Temple Grandin).

Actress: If I overthought this, I could think of an argument for each of the nominees (including the Critics Choice Award winner Jessica Lange). But, if I played it safe, then past Emmy favorite Cicely Tyson would win for the role that gave Geraldine Page her first Oscar.

Actor: Mark Ruffalo’s performance is surely explosive and Emmy bait…but it’s also a bit polarizing. I think this is between the Fargo guys, and it looks like the more recognizable American star will take this: Billy Bob Thornton. 

Supporting Actress: Besides Frances Conroy, any of these ladies could win. I honestly don’t see American Horror Story doing all that well, so Bates and Bassett won’t win. Never underestimate Burstyn…but at the same time, she just won last year. Another win would be too much. Julia Roberts is the big star and a few months ago, she was deemed the front runner in this category. However, Allison Tolman‘s performance has received more consistent praise. She is a breakout star and if voters love Fargo like I think they do, then I think Tolman will be able to beat her more famous fellow nominees.

Supporting Actor: I could see Martin Freeman winning an Emmy just because he was nominated in two categories. However, Matt Bomer got the most praise out of anyone else in the movie. He’s The Normal Heart‘s best chance at winning an acting award IMO.

Writing and Directing: So, right now, Fargo and The Normal Heart are the two biggest contenders in this category. I think there will be a split in there categories. The first episode of Fargo will win for Writing, while Ryan Murphy will win the Emmy for directing The Normal Heart. However…the reverse could happen as well. Or maybe one program will just dominate. We will see!

Comedy

Comedy Series: Veep has slowly become a major Emmy contender, while Orange is the New Black was one of the buzziest shows of the last year. But, once again, I’m playing it safe and predicting Modern Family. Like The Daily Show or The Amazing Race, I am pretty much always going to predict Modern Family until it actually loses. This was apparently a strong season for Modern Family and if voters liked it enough last year…then this year might not be different. Besides, Orange is too dramatic and half and hour too long.

Actress: The only other actress I could see legitimately beat Julia Louis-Dreyfus is Melissa McCarthy, whose tape is an Emmy bait mixture of multi-camera broadness and emotion. Anyone else would surely be a surprise.

Actor: Playing it safe is my middle name. Jim Parsons seems to be the favorite for his 100th Emmy. However, watch out for Ricky Gervais whose tape will make voters tear up a bit. Remember when Gervais won for Extras???

Supporting Actress: I didn’t think Allison Janney would win Guest Actress. But she did…but that doesn’t change anything. If anything, it might validate this prediction. Janney is going to win two Emmys this year. But if we’re in for a surprise like we got last year then Anna Chlumsky is surely a “Merritt Wever-sized” dark horse.

Supporting Actor: It just doesn’t seem like Modern Family has the same widespread support it had a couple years ago. Jesse Tyler Ferguson has the strongest tape in this category…but I think Tony Hale will win again for his now iconic scene he shares with JLD. If Brooklyn Nine Nine had received more support, then maybe I would have more faith in Andre Braugher.

Writing: Orange is the New Black‘s pilot might seem like an easy way for the show to win. But…Louis CK has won in this category before…and I think he will win again for a much stronger episode in my opinion. “So Did the Fat Lady.”

Directing: Modern Family has actually won this category the last three years. I mean, it even beat 30 Rock‘s finale last year. However, Jodie Foster’s star power plus Orange‘s buzz plus a story line involving a transgender woman will equal “Lesbian Request Denied” winning.

Drama

Drama Series: I’m biting the bullet and saying that Breaking Bad will have a very good Emmy night. If it could win last year, it can surely win again for its explosive final group of episodes. And yeah, True Detective received a lot of praise and buzz…but I don’t think it received any more than (or even as much as) Breaking Bad. 

Actress: I never thought I would be predicting Claire Danes (hell, I thought her getting nominated would be a small miracle)…but I have to admit, she submitted a great episode. Margulies would be my number one choice…but she was snubbed last year…and her submission this year wasn’t so different from her submission from season 3. And, yes, Robin Wright and Kerry Washington could win for their performances in hot, buzzy shows. But, since I can’t choose between either of those actresses…I think voters will face the same problem and just simply choose last year’s winner because, hey, the season sucked, but Danes still did a great job. I think this race would be a lot simpler, if the best drama actress (cough cough Maslany) had actually received a nomination. Oh well. Watch me be wrong about this one!

Actor: This was another tough one for me. The last three winners (Kyle Chandler, Damien Lewis, Jeff Daniels) have been fairly surprising, so technically any of these nominees could win. However, I’m going to listen to the buzz and say that it’s really between recent Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey and three time winner Bryan Cranston. Bryan Cranston has a better submission and, in my opinion, gives the stronger overall performance. However, voters may not be completely willing to give Cranston a fourth Emmy. McConaughey got just as much praise for his performance as Bryan Cranston did for his. I think between his praise and the exciting idea of hearing another crazy, rambling speech…I think Matthew McConaughey will win this one…unless Jeff Daniels wins again.

Supporting Actress: Maggie Smith recently won a SAG for some reason…but I don’t see her (or anyone else in the Downton Abbey cast) winning. Anna Gunn has the most explosive tape of the mix. If voters want to give Baranski an overdue Emmy for her great work this season then they can…but it looks like Gunn is going to win another deserved Emmy.

Supporting Actor: Most people seem to be predicting Aaron Paul, Peter Dinklage or even veteran Jon Voight. But, fun fact: The Good Wife has received one acting win for each of the last four years. If an actor from the show is going to win, I think previously nominated Josh Charles will finally get the award. Not only did he have a buzzy arc that ended in the unfortunate surprise death of his character, but his episode submission is probably the best episode The Good Wife has ever created. If The Good Wife had received the Drama Series nomination it was supposed to, I’d feel more confident about this nomination. Right now…this is one of my bolder picks.

Writing: “Ozymandias” not receiving a directing nomination makes me nervous…but I still think the most talked about dramatic episode of the season has the edge. However, the Breaking Bad finale would be an “easier” way for voters for award the show and the show’s creator.

Directing: House of Cards won this award last year. And Boardwalk Empire has always done well in this category. But, I think this is a race between Breaking Bad, True Detective, and Game of Thrones – three expertly directed episodes. True Detective’s episode has a really epic continuous tracking shot of a shootout, while Game of Thrones‘s episode is simply one big, explosive battle. However, I think, for a finale, Vince Gilligan did a great job pretty much giving everything the audience asked for. Breaking Bad has never won in this category. “Felina” should be that episode.

OK…those are pretty much the categories I care about the most. Thanks for reading. Check back Monday night or Tuesday morning for my recap/review of the ceremony and the winners.

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 UPDATE: I will be live tweeting during the actual ceremony. So check out my twitter @ https://twitter.com/UnassumingName to be a part of the action!