A Snore, A Bore, A Chore: The Emmys

They should have done more Trump jokes.

So what if they would have alienated 36% (Note: And going lower) of the country?  They wouldn’t have bored the other 64%.

And whom did they think would be watching, anyway?

Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels and his Weekend Update co-hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che play it so safe as producer and co-hosts of the 70th annual Emmys they send most of America to their collective freezers and prompt 798,000 lb. weight gain in three hours!

That would be the headline if I were writing it, if headlines were that long or if most people still even called them headlines anymore.

Oh we’re with you, Alec.

A simpler way to put it is Saturday Night Live wins the 2018 Emmy for best variety sketch show for its biting political satire in the age of #MeToo #TakeAKnee and #DonaldtheTerrible, yet steam cleans all of its best jokes and bits when let out of its demographic for a primetime audience.

That’s like seeing an Orange Elephant in your house every day for the last year but choosing to never mention it to your family, neighbors or roommates for fear of making the Elephant uncomfortable.

Or hedging your bets because you are afraid too many in that inner circle will hate for bringing Him up.

I mean, can’t we just have a couple of hours to ourselves away from that god damned ELEPHANT?!! 

#seriously

You knew we were in trouble when early on the broadcast managed to make Maya Rudolph unfunny.  Then there was the opening bit with….oh, why relive it.

Can we talk about this now?!?!

Most watchers would agree the high point came in the acceptance speech for best director of a variety special.  That was when Oscar’s director Glenn Weiss shared his Mom had died two weeks ago and that she always loved his girlfriend.  And then preceded to tell his girlfriend that rather than answer why he never referred to her as his girlfriend when he introduced her to people he would instead show his love by marrying her

Spontaneity!!!  Yes!!!!

We were all with Leslie (plus that suit is #FIRE)

The audience screamed, the girlfriend smiled incredulously and was then ushered on the stage where Glenn pulled out the ring his Dad gave his Mom 67 years ago, got down on his knee and proposed.

Of course, she accepted.

I’m not made of stone!

But what if she said no, you ask?  What then?

Well, that would have been even BETTER TV because it took a risk that anything MAY happen when you’re being REAL and that in the long run it works out for the better.

You’d think SNL would know better since the word LIVE is in its title.

There were moments of consolation to be sure.  The comedy sweep of Amazon’s The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel in the series, actress, writing and directing categories.  The FIRST win for beloved Henry Winkler in 43 years  (and five previous nominations) for his work on HBO’s Barry.

MAISEL TOV!

It was also cool to see John Mulaney pick up a solo writing award for his special Kid Gorgeous since he is one of the best in the biz at what he does at the moment.  #AndtheLavenderTux

Giving us Hipster PeeWee realness

Not to mention, who could argue with spreading the best drama and best limited series awards over Netflix’s The Crown, FX’s just ended The Americans and HBO’s Game of Thrones?….

I COULD!

Did they even see season 2 of The Handmaid’s Tale???  Oh, take it as just another denial of what’s REALLY going on in Trump America.

Don’t @ me

Still, there was some encouragement to be had with RuPaul’s Drag Race winning best reality competition series and HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver taking best variety talk series.  Not to mention the recognition of the perversely riveting Assassination of Gianni Versace on FX being named best limited series.

Oh, and the 60 second bit lesbian comic Hannah Gadsby did when introducing…something….proved once again no one handles an audience or an uncomfortable moment better than the woman who will no doubt be an Emmy winner next year for her brilliant Netflix special Nanette.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

It should not go unnoticed that not one winner, or even outstanding moment mentioned, came from a series on what used to be considered one of the BIG THREE/FOUR networks.

That is with the exception of the award for NBC’s Saturday Night Live.

This is what happens when you try to grab more viewers by reelin’ it in.

You don’t win Emmys.    Instead, you lose Emmy viewers.

And lose generally.

“Say Something” – A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera

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Pour Decisions

The Chair is currently in whine wine country visiting friends. So while he bops around near Santa Barbara, enjoy this summer classic and sit back and RELAX.

Tune out the noise all around you and well, pour the glass extra full. Everyone needs a break.. right?

Now where’s my corkscrew?

Mungo Jerry – “In the Summertime”

A Bee in our Biden

You don’t get heart attacks, you give heart attacks!

             — An Exasperated Aunt Nan arguing with my Mom

Samantha Bee looked beleaguered – not quite heart attack but trying to hold it together, a fascinating comic stew of emotions – as she picked up a Television Academy honor on Thursday for her TBS show Full Frontal’s coverage of the #MeToo movement.

At least that was my take and I was there – an invited plus one guest of the husband – standing on the sidelines, unable to take my eyes off Ms. Bee’s black and shiny silver striped pants for fear that I’d catch her eye and bore her with too many thank yous and words of encouragement from one more member of the #Resistance she was serving at her own peril.

We’re here for you Sam

By way of explanation for all those lucky enough to be lying under a rock this week – and not being trampled by the many species of vermin who’ve somehow all crawled out from under their own —

On this day Ms. Bee also drew international headlines for publicly taking Ivanka Trump to task for the Downy Ad-Worthy family image she posted on Twitter of a very blonde and beige Ivanka holding up her equally blonde and equally beige young son against a marbled backdrop and smiling dreamily into his eyes. This because it stood in stark, tone-deaf contrast to the numerous other heartbreaking images on Twitter and elsewhere of some 1500 other less lucky immigrant children being pried out of the arms of their parents and placed in temporary non-marbled holding spots (nee who knows where) by armed border guards under orders from the Trump administration.

Right? #tonedeaf

This is, of course, all a polite way of saying that in talking about the immigration issue the night before on the latest episode of Full Frontal Ms. Bee leaned into the camera, admonished Ivanka for being a feckless c-nt, and ordered her to put on something tight and low cut, march into her father’s office and talk some sense into him.

Sounds like a plan to me.

I mean, do you all have anything better?

I didn’t think so.

GURL AMENNNNN

And lest you think Hollywood Democrats, liberals or whatever we all are or aren’t stand together on this, Ms. Bee or anything else, here’s a choice excerpt of the curt, apoplectic rage I boiled over with during cocktail hour beforehand when someone challenged me on that subject:

– So you support what she did?

Yes. Absolutely.

– Well, I just don’t see how this helps. To be nasty to each other.

It helps to keep it on people’s minds. So they’re moved to ACT in some way.

– But two wrongs don’t make a right. Why can’t we be nice to each other?

These aren’t nice times. (And are you kidding, you dickwad?)

– I don’t see how it changes anything.

No single action does. It’s a cumulative effect. (And why didn’t you at least get your suit cleaned – or steamed. Slob).

– What about Congress?

– What about them? Not a lot of activity there. (Pick up a tablet and read, why don’t you).

– I agree (pause) Oh, and don’t get me wrong. I don’t like Him either. (You’re gonna tell me you have a Black friend now, aren’t you?). I’m just saying that….

Blah, blah blah. Blah, blah….blah, blah. Blah.

The polite version

By the end I wanted to rip the guy’s head off along with my own and if I were not a plus one or was unmarried (or wanted to be), I might have done both right there. And this was before Trump called on TBS to fire Ms. Bee. (Note: Or as she’s undoubtedly known at the Oval Office, That F-ckNg CU-T!!).

Somehow this all bled into this year’s #1 hit ABC series Roseanne getting cancelled this week for the racist tweet the real Roseanne sent days earlier where she called former Obama administration senior advisor (and woman of color), Valerie Jarrett, a cross between an ape and a radical Muslim group. (And yes, I’m paraphrasing).

You surprised? #really?

Not very articulate but it did the job. ABC promptly fired her for it. Though it might have been better to not have hired someone who has for years posted racist thoughts, rants and conspiracy theories online under the cover of comedy, the first amendment and/or mental illness – take your pick. #TweetersChoice.

Still, if you take a step back you can see the conundrum for entertainment conglomerates and, in a broader sense, all of corporate America.

If you only do business with the certifiably sane you will be swimming in a very small pool – talent or otherwise.

Limit yourself to only the products found only in your household, well, as comedian Steven Wright once said: You can’t have everything, where would you put it?

So that’s not a strategy for the broader market. Which is why for a moment, if you squint and turn yourself into a pretzel, you can see the Roseanne/Roseanne reasoning.

Oh right, and this too.

After all, the reboot was Sara Gilbert’s idea and she’s an out lesbian, Laurie Metcalf and John Goodman are great actors people love, Wanda Sykes is gonna come on as a writer and consultant and she gets it. Plus, we’ve got Whitney Cummings as…co-head writer!!

I, for one, can see…A LOT of pay or play checks being written. But what if it DOES work? Then we’ve got buckets of money AND the REAL ROSEANNE for years. And years. What price #YourHeartAttack?

Speaking of what makes my blood thin, Bernie Sanders showed up on Real Time with Bill Maher Friday night droning on about income equality and the top 1% and smiling goofily when Mr. Maher told him not to let age stop him from running for president again if he was feeling good – right after Sen. Sanders assured him he was, indeed, feeling good. Oh, Bernie.   Oh, Bill. You’re both so coy.

Bromance.

Of course I’d vote for Bernie in a second if I felt my socialist college professor from the seventies could lead the country out of the current shithole we’re in – or that most of Trump America at the end of the day truly understood or believed on a gut level any policy, or even anything, he was saying. But I don’t. Nor should you.

The inverse of Trump’s Electoral College, Russian abetted takeover of the United States is not a national Red, White and Blue Socialist Wave for Bernie. So at this point, he’s just plain aggravating – like one of the relatives I used to find amusing the first 32 times I heard his stories at Passover dinner but now makes me want to run from the room screaming or stuff a piece of my Mom’s gefilte fish in his mouth until we can all get our bearings.

My face.. for about 5 years

Much as I miss him, Pres. Obama’s calm tweets about his faith in young people taking over the world and how we are all still more alike than different are beginning to wear thin as well. OMG, of course he comforts US! Me! Sometimes.

But Kumbaya gentility felt more right 10 years ago – when a Russian villain from a 1960s James Bond film might have tried but failed miserably to hack into our elections and a North Korean hacker-billionaire murderer being welcomed into a now literally White House that we all pay to upkeep could only be part of a staged scene in a sequel to Wag the Dog.

Look even some of the cast is back!

No, the only person who in my mind has measured the pulse of the times correctly is former Vice President Joe Biden when several months ago he explained what he’d like to do with our current American president, albeit outside the Oval Office.

A guy who ended up becoming our national leader said, ‘I can grab a woman anywhere and she likes it’…They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said ‘no.’ I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him….I’ve been in a lot of locker rooms my whole life. I’m a pretty damn good athlete. Any guy that talked that way was usually the fattest, ugliest S.O.B. in the room…..Sexual assault is about power and the abuse of power more than it is about sex.

Now that’s a message that will sell to Middle America. And all across America.   Even Trump America. Wherever the hell it is.

Joe Cool

Sometimes policy can be good. There are other times when a bad joke makes people think. And maybe one, two, three…four times in history an overarching inspirational message motivates millions, if not billions, to do better.

But other times – well, you have to call a c-nt, a c-nt, meet them where they live, and fight fire with fire – bloodying them up along the way in order to save the rest of the kids in the playground – not to mention the whole neighborhood.

In those situations, making nice doesn’t cut it. Making nice is what will give all of us heart attacks.

“Flight of the Bumblebees”

Give it a Rest

Do you ever just need to rest? Pull the covers over your head and hibernate? Put your feet up on the sofa and settle in for a long day’s binge? (Netflix that is, but chocolate works too). Ever need to check out, even if just for a few hours, from the daily deluge of crap that inundates us everyday? Or just close the blinds and pretend it’s still nighttime and the sun is taking an extra siesta with you?

My bones are aching today and my mind is mush. Let’s all just embrace the exhaustion and give it a rest for a week.

But don’t worry — I’ll be back… and well-rested.

Watch out.

Sesame Street – “Take a Rest”

Idiot Boxing

It’s the new television season.

Whoopee!!

Television has always been a comfort zone for me – the equivalent of a soft, cushy chair (Note: Hee, hee) even when it’s dramatically tragic and making me think.

Of course, in a way, thinking is my comfort zone. Contemplating the fate of the world and trying to figure it all out may not always be reassuring, but excavating dark thoughts out into the open air – or page – at least frees them from doing further damage.

This is not to say experiencing the funny and absurd and entertaining is not an equally effective escape. It’s only to admit that both light and darkness do the job, albeit in different ways.

Lord (or whoever you deem your higher power to be) knows we need some escape right now.

No not you!!! I can’t bear to look at you right now #fantasyPrez #damnyousorkin

One can’t write anything at the moment and ignore the Madness of our Crazy King Trump – the man who hate tweets the mayor of Puerto Rico as hundreds or perhaps thousands of her constituents are dying from lack of power, water and food. Her crime: begging the bureaucracy of what she still says is the greatest country in the world (that would be us – the U.S.) for not cutting through red tape fast enough in order to literally save her people.

Here was the immediate response of our Electoral College POTUS:

My response:

Sure, it did make me feel better.   For like – a minute.

That is why we need television. Among so many other reasons.

So it was with hopeful anticipation that I tuned in for the newest diversions and deep thinking the small screen had to offer this past week and hit a few bright spots. The key phrase being: a few. There just isn’t enough deep thinking and diversion for my needs so far.

Still, let’s start with the good news.

Livin’ up to the hype

Will and Grace didn’t disappoint and made me LOL. (Note: You all know what that means, right?) Any show that can more than a decade later once again start with the title characters slaying a game of celebrity to the tune of bon mots like:

Will: She’s….don’t get me started..

Grace: Jada-Pinkett Smith!!

Well, that’s the pop culture dessert for me. It didn’t hurt when that was followed by:

Will: We want to love her but she makes it impossible.

Grace: Caitlyn Jenner!!

Yes, there are the Trump jokes, the egocentric jabs at each others’ clear and many shortcomings and the exaggerated stereotypes of representation of almost anyone in its orbit. But somehow this show has always made us (me?) feel that it’s not only in on the joke but is itself actually the #1 target of all the bitchiness. I don’t care what the naysayers speak: A plus for making me scream out with joy for once this year. Aside from that night when…oh, never mind.

She’s the real deal #andImtellingyou

The Voice – Most of you know I’m a frustrated singer who can sort of carry a tune but could never call what comes out of my mouth singing. Yet if I could call it that and I could choose my voice it would sound exactly like new Voice judge Jennifer Hudson. Sure, that would be an odd sight and sound but what makes a great singer are those very oddities.

Adam Levine, Miley Cyrus and Blake Shelton are still there, the talent seemed particularly promising and the genius of those revolving chairs still work. And who knew Jennifer Hudson was not only a genius vocalist but so sassy, smart and daring? She only seemed just sort of sweet and cool when she was interviewed (Note: Which truly is enough on its own when you can…SING).

#truth

But anyone who can throw shoes at performers to tell them how much she loves them and give a white guy contestant demonstrably more vocal soul in an impromptu 60 second tutor fest is invited to my house at least twice a week for the next three months.   At which time, I will have a modicum more soul and hopefully sound a little better.

Literally giving her left foot

The Deuce – I was fascinated by the NYC porn industry in the 1970s and not just because I was a teenager. There was something about its sleazy coolness and open arms of non-judgmental anything goes in an age where our institutions were anything but that – sparkled. Yes, sparkled.

I remember as a kid the glittering marquees near 42d St., the smiles from the hookers and pimps as you’d walk by who made you sort of feel like they were only serious to a point, and the tongue-in-cheek abandon many of its performers exhibited onscreen and in public that made it…well, sparkle. At least to this adolescent.

The hair, the clothes, the moustaches #youknowyouloveit

This show captures none of that, with the exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s fun and quite brilliant performance as Candy – the archetypal hooker with a sort of heart of gold. She manages to get the whole spirit of what’s going on while the rest of the cast and the writers and the directors seem caught in an imitative world of dreariness that begs to be seen as important. Maybe it’ll get better but, don’t dress. (Note: Get it?)

The return of This Is Us and How to Get Away With Murder

Keeping the kleenex close #waterworks

These are two of my favorite series and they couldn’t be more different. Still, they share one major plotline this season — the arc around THE BABY. In the latter it’s the who took my baby?!! (Note: Clearly, it’s not the dingo, though you wish it would or did) and in the former it’s we’re gonna adopt another baby whether you like it or not but…okay, maybe instead we’ll foster a teenager instead!!!

The problem with both these storylines is not that you and I don’t like babies – they’re okay. It’s that neither of them is truly in keeping with what these series are about. HTGAWM is not about the immediate fate of the toddler but what’s happened to the toddlers as adults. This is Us’ primary conceit centers on key moments in the lives of each of its three babies in childhood, adolescence and adulthood – but now they’re gonna give us a FOURTH kid?

Another kid??? #srsly

Nevertheless, kudos to 93-year-old Cicely Tyson for making it look so easy to be that real and compelling on HTGAWM, and someone give Milo Ventimiglia a long heartfelt hug (Note: Me, again? Please?) for figuring out how to be the best version of the flawed father we all long for in our imaginary families.

Young SheldonAs a smart kid with more than a few phobias I had to watch it. And after catching Jim Parsons promote it on Colbert as he spoke about his husband and what love can do for a gay man’s soul I really had to watch it – even if both young and adult Sheldon are not gay.

I want to like this. Repeat. I want to like this.

Let’s be kind – it’s not for me though the kid is cute and clever and very believable.  And it wasn’t cause it took place in east Texas. It just feels like…it’s trying too hard? Why not let young Sheldon more fully fly his freak flag and have the humor come out of reality rather than attempts at zesty comic set-ups and payoffs. Then, even for non-Big Bang Theory fans, the show could have potential.

American Horror Story: Cult – Gosh, it’s ridiculous. But not solely in the AHS franchise way. How can a camp series be too ridiculous with such a cool idea as the horror of the Trump election? Well, let’s start with stunt casting.

Having Chaz Bono as a redneck store manager Trumpster who would rather saw his arm off than stay home on poll day, or Billy Eichner as a gay (bisexual?) trainer at a gym who would rather commit murder than move out of his house – makes you think only of how clever it is to have Chaz and Billy on AHS. Except it isn’t. Cause these storylines are just plain…dumb.

We are definitely not on the street anymore, Billy.

Evan Peters is great as the incarnation of a blue-haired Charles Manson-like nihilist and Sarah Paulson doesn’t know how to NOT be in the moment, as they teach you in acting class. But there is no actor great enough to sell the ludicrousness of the smiley-face versions of killer clowns running amuck in Red State America.

I fear this is why they hate us.

Full Disclaimer: No I have not yet watched Ken Burns’ 18-hour, 10 episode documentary The Vietnam War, which is on PBS and streaming and, I hear, is fantastic. Yes, I know all about the Nixon/Trump parallels but I just wasn’t ready for that much thinking this week.  Soon, I will be, though. I think. Maybe.

Black Flag – “TV Party”