I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the death of a former student this week. She was 28 years-old, super creative, smart and hard working. More importantly she was one of those people who was just a bright light in rooms where too often we’re surrounded by dim bulbs.
This is not to exalt my student into a deity. It was just that her essence seemed to radiate outwards and make people feel good. This was confirmed to me in the last few weeks where dozens and dozens of people posted similar testimonies online.
Some people really do seem this big and full of life… she was one of them
My student was not ill nor was she the victim of a crime. Her death was apparently an accident, and, as a young white woman, it was unsurprisingly not at the hands of law enforcement.
This observation is not meant to be snide or timely. It’s more to put it into a 2020 shorthand that can be most easily understood given the reality of what we’re all living through right now.
Loss is loss but death is death and life, such as it is, is life.
Yes, you may write that down.
Roger that, Chairy
Loss hurts, loss makes you angry, loss can overtake your every waking hour and loss can take a lifetime to heal, if it ever fully does. Of course, the truth is it never quite does, nor do you really want it to. The loss, whether you like it or not, becomes a permanent part of the ever-evolving imprint of you.
What you choose to do with the loss is your own business and your own decision. But if it’s true loss there will be a scar, visible to others or not. To expect this not to be is to pretend your face in middle age and old age will look exactly the same as it did when you were 28 years old.
That statement alone brings up all kinds of images to me of my lovely former student whose face will now never change. But it is also a reminder of the luxury of aging and the opportunities it can afford if you make it past 28 years old. Most of us spend so much time wishing or trying to believably look frozen in our late twenties as time rolls on that we forget the true cost of what it is to actually do so.
This brings us to life and death.
It might not sound cheery but, trust me, it is.
Anyone who has managed to navigate deep loss and come out the other side, no easy feat, can tell you that there is no real choice in the matter despite how he/she might have been leaning in any given moment.
However crappy life and the current events that accompany it may seem, it still beats the alternative of trading places with that person whose time was cut so drastically short and for whom a tiny part of you will always mourn.
Watching tens of thousands of people line up in the streets of most American cities and towns demanding racial justice and shouting that Black Lives Matter these past two weeks is both powerful and enraging. But the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans (Note: Now about 67% of us) say they support both the cause and the demonstrators is encouraging.
Powerful art right in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater
Still, even more discouraging is the irrefutable truth that an endless daisy chain of non-white families will continue to sacrifice a loved one to systemic racism and law enforcement right before our eyes, live on our screens, unless we get over ourselves and what passes for our lives at this particular touch point in time.
Despite two weeks of nationwide demonstrations the latest public sacrifice happened Saturday morning in Atlanta to 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, an African American male, father, sibling and child.
Mr. Brooks was asleep in his car at a Wendy’s parking lot when police approached, woke him up and spoke to him for a while before putting him under immediate arrest for no pressing crime.
A scuffle ensued and they pulled out their taser gun to shoot but Mr. Brooks grabbed the taser away, turned and ran in the opposite direction on foot, only to be shot dead in the back at point blank range.
They never got to the almost nine-minute knee on the neck public police execution of George Floyd in Minneapolis several weeks ago that ignited the current ongoing national uproar. Instead Mr. Brooks’ very public death mirrors the more commonplace executions of youngish people of color by law enforcement that the American people have been out in the streets demonstrating against in the name of George Floyd to begin with.
How many more faces will we need to add to this? (New Yorker cover by Kadir Nelson)
This latest iteration of “disruptors” standing directly on the Atlanta interstate blockading traffic as buildings crumble in fiery protest across the city are what pass for the principal signs of life in that area.
Meanwhile, the rest of the city and country reels in a sea ofloss, none more so than the family, friends and children this latest “incident” leaves behind.
In this current scenario, of course Mr. Brooks is cast against his will as death, his being the latest in a very specific epidemic that merely serves to remind us of all the many iterations that came before it. Not to mention the many other memories of loss and death that surface for those of us living through this modern day dystopia unrelated to him or his family.
A sign for our time
One could argue, of course, that to choose this kind oflife on the streets of America is to not choose life at all but rather one long infinity of prolonged pain leading into our masse eventual death.
Yet as the body counts rise and the mourning pain deepens it might help to remember that the one cool constant thing about life is you can still change your mind. Meaning that you always have the choice to do it a different way until death comes knocking, or rather, barreling through your door.
Unlike Mr. Floyd, Mr. Brooks and the many other ageless faces of those who’ve touched our lives whose choices were taken away long before their time.
Why is it the Emmy Awards telecast feels like something only your old auntie would watch in real time so she can root for her shows?
Because it is?
Because there is too much TV to have a favorite show if you’re under 90?
Because there are too many award shows and none of them carry much weight?
Because who wants to watch anything except the slow disintegration of the country?
Notice there is no all of the above choice.
At 70 years of age Auntie Emmy is a bit quaint. She’s sort of the equivalent of a pop culture painting of Elvis on a velveteen blanket or arriving with a box of Fannie Mae chocolates for the beau you’re taking to the church social.
Of course, the Chair has never been to a church social, purchased a box of Fannie Mae anything or really knows if there is such a thing as a velveteen blanket, much less one with Elvis painted on it.
Still, it sounds right, doesn’t it? Something that used to be frivolous, fun and fiercely IMPORTANT now feels almost dull, superficial and, well…unpatriotic to spend any spare time on.
We Are Americans.
The only thing we love more than competition is…
Lest we forget COMPETITION TELEVISION #ChoppedAllDay
So who am I/we kidding? We’ll be watching, tweeting, DVRing, reading, dishing and paying some sort of mind – even if it means going out of our way to proclaim both the show AND awards never entered our minds.
This became apparent to me about 10 years ago when I ran into a show biz guy I knew who had just been nominated for an Emmy at a trendy brunch spot that morning and, upon congratulating him, he synthetically replied:
Oh really, were those today?
Well, yes, that’s why you are in the trendiest show business watering spot in town, you fake, I replied knowingly.
Okay, of course I didn’t. I mean, I was there too.
Still, those were the days when Emmy was not an auntie and we were both A LOT younger so what does it matter? He is no doubt still denying he cares as he grudgingly watches, along with the rest of us, silently cheering, or perhaps audibly jeering, for or against his shows.
Which is why every year from now until the end of our republic we will feature:
THE CHAIR’S EMMY CHEAT SHEET:
Nice try but I will NOT shut up about this show #BlessedBetheFruit
The Handmaid’s Tale Game of Thrones This Is Us The Crown The Americans Stranger Things Westworld
Sadly, there is nothing more timely than The Handmaid’s Tale. Don’t say you know, but it’s too depressing to watch. You owe it to your country to be forewarned. Or at least keep up with current events by way of Gilead.
Yes, all of the aforementioned nominees have their merits, and yes The Americans is all wrapped up and sure Game of Thrones has won twice before and wasn’t up last year when The Handmaid’s Tale won the first time. So what? Stranger Things and Westworld are audience favorites too and yes, This Is Us could sneak in because it’s the one network show critics, industryites and audiences all love. But we’re going with the Zeitgeist.
LEAD ACTOR DRAMA
SO. MUCH. PLAID.
Jason Bateman, Ozark
Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us
Ed Harris, Westworld
Matthew Rhys, The Americans
Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us
Jeffrey Wright, Westworld
Trusting our gut here. The season long tease of Jack’s death on This Is Us gave Milo Ventimiglia all season to be the 70s Dad, man, hottie (NOTE: NOT all three at once, step back) of our dreams. Prognosticators don’t give him a chance but sometimes ya get a feelin’.
LEAD ACTRESS DRAMA
Dare I say… SLAY!
Claire Foy, The Crown
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale
Sandra Oh, Killing Eve
Keri Russell, The Americans
Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld
You’re gonna bet against OfFred? Really? No, really? We didn’t think so. And if one more person tells you Keri Russell gave the performance of the decade or that Sandra Oh’s win will make history ask them if their characters could endure sub freezing temperatures in the suburban wilderness nine months pregnant and then give birth by themselves in the middle of drafty house with only the fireplace to light their way. Please.
SUPPORTING ACTOR DRAMA
Wait.. I thought only Harry rocked the beard! #JusticeforHarry
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Joseph Fiennes, The Handmaid’s Tale
David Harbour, Stranger Things
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland Matt Smith, The Crown
Tough category and all of these actors deserve the honor. But in any other year The Crown could win best series and best actress. So it’s Matt Smith here – an actor who somehow managed to make a younger Prince Phillip sympathetic and sort of sexy while not shying away from him also being a lying, priggish philanderer and full on abusive father. That alone is award-worthy.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS DRAMA
Let’s hope this Serena isn’t robbed. #stillnotoverUSOpen
Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale
Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things
Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Vanessa Kirby, The Crown
Thandie Newton, Westworld
Yvonne Strahovski, The Handmaid’s Tale
One of the only sure thing categories. I myself find Serena the most heinous character on television so it’s amazing to see an actress who is actually able to make us believe she’s human. Don’t know what that means because you haven’t watched the show? Then WATCH IT!!!
Atlanta Barry Black-ish Curb Your Enthusiasm GLOW The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Silicon Valley Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
There has never been a pilot episode of a television series less likely to break through as both an audience and critics TV favorite as much as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. As I said to my sister, who first turned me on to the show: This is the most Jewish thing I’ve ever seen, I can’t believe anyone but us and our family is watching it!!
It will be a close race with the depth of storytelling in Atlanta and the sheer originality of Barry but count on Mrs. Maisel for bringing us an escape from reality by way of late 1950s Greenwich Village.
LEAD ACTOR COMEDY
Make more room on the shelf Donny! #thatsuittho
Anthony Anderson, Black-ish
Ted Danson, The Good Place
Larry David, Curb Your Enthusiasm Donald Glover, Atlanta Bill Hader, Barry
William H. Macy, Shameless
Donald Glover will deservedly and rightly win. Everyone else in the category is good but he’s doing something different and real here we haven’t seen before – and doing it consistently in between his tasks as its creator and sometime writer.
LEAD ACTRESS COMEDY
Oh don’t worry Midge, we’ll be there. #Catskills #Season2
Pamela Adlon, Better Things Rachel Brosnahan, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Allison Janney, Mom
Issa Rae, Insecure
Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish
Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie
The other sure thing category. It’s Midge in a w.a.l.k. And when you watch Rachel Brosnahan being interviewed and see how far she is in real life from the character she portrays, well….it’s Midge in a w.a.l.k.
SUPPORTING ACTOR COMEDY
No shark this time
Louie Anderson, Baskets Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live
Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Brian Tyree Henry, Atlanta
Tony Shalhoub, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Kenan Thompson, Saturday Night Live Henry Winkler, Barry
Henry Winkler was first nominated for an Emmy 42 YEARS AGO and has never won. Five nominations and – bupkus. This guy was THE FONZ! Plus, his work as a deluded yet somehow effective acting teacher on Barry is heartfelt, fresh and more than deserving. Not to mention, in real life he’s the nicest man. Don’t mean to name drop but…..
SUPPORTING ACTRESS COMEDY
Never better #notalternativefacts
Zazie Beetz, Atlanta
Alex Borstein, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Aidy Bryant, Saturday Night Live
Betty Gilpin, GLOW
Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne
Megan Mullally, Will & Grace
A REALLY tough call. Alex Borstein should win for being laugh out loud hilarious as Mrs. Maisel’s snide, baked beans eating manager and Megan Mullally has made Karen Walker one of the most popular female supporting characters in the history of TV. Still, in the 24/7 world of politics Kate McKinnon playing the clown from It as Kellyanne Conway is so frighteningly…something that it trumps all else.
Welcome to Miami
The Alienist The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Genius: Picasso Godless Patrick Melrose
There was something so revolting and alluring about the Assassination of Gianni Versace that it’s hard to imagination it not taking the honors here. It felt doubtful that this lurid tale warranted an American Crime Story show at all until we watched it use the tale of a twisted killer of one of fashion’s legends as a way to tell an American tale of class and sexual repression at the turn of this past century.
LEAD ACTOR LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE
Werkin that serial killer lighting like a pro.
Antonio Banderas, Genius: Picasso Darren Criss, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Benedict Cumberbatch, Patrick Melrose
Jeff Daniels, The Looming Tower
John Legend, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
Jesse Plemons, U.S.S. Callister (Black Mirror)
Darren Criss played Andrew Cunanan as the boyishserial killer next door and against all odds it worked. Criss never fell into psycho cliché or gave us outsider gay sociopath 101, which made his presence all the more disturbing and riveting. It was hard to turn away even though, honestly, there were spots where you had to turn away. Perhaps he was too much of an awful thing for some voters, which could shift the trophy to the equally good Benedict Cumberbatch – but probably not.
LEAD ACTRESS LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE
OK fine, this is Dern in Pretty Little Lies but like… Renata forever.
Jessica Biel, The Sinner Laura Dern, The Tale
Michelle Dockery, Godless
Edie Falco, Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders
Regina King, Seven Seconds
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Cult
An odd category this year with no true standout. Still, in the #MeToo era Laura Dern deserves the credit for a smart portrayal of a difficult character – a woman who must delve back into her past in order to save herself in the present. She made the transitions between the adult self and the other actresses who played the younger versions of her character seamless, which elevated the material far beyond where it could have landed.
SUPPORTING ACTOR LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE
I mean.. OK sure.
Jeff Daniels, Godless
Brandon Victor Dixon, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
John Leguizamo, Waco
Ricky Martin, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Edgar Ramírez, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Michael Stuhlbarg, The Looming Tower
Finn Wittrock, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Not going to lie. This is a guess based on prognosticators. But EVERYONE agrees it’s Jeff Daniels and the more you read his reviews the more you will also agree.
SUPPORTING ACTRESS LIMITED SERIES/MOVIE
But also kudos to hair and makeup because this is late 90s perfection.
Sara Bareilles, Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
Penélope Cruz, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story Judith Light, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
Adina Porter, American Horror Story: Cult
Merritt Wever, Godless
Letitia Wright, Black Museum (Black Mirror)
However, Judith Light brought a new level of denial as the successful and privileged businesswoman wife of a closeted gay man. It was a strange yet real type of character we don’t see much on television and she could easily get the Emmy for it if it doesn’t go to Merritt Wever or Lettia Wright. Meaning, we’re not sure but we’re going with Judy.
VARIETY TALK SERIES
We seriously cannot forget about Marlon Bundo. #thebest
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Full Frontal with Samantha Bee Jimmy Kimmel Live! Last Week Tonight with John Oliver The Late Late Show with James Corden The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
Every single show is worthy. It really depends on what their producers submitted. But Last Week with John Oliver feels like the gold standard here and the rightful successor to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show, especially after his win last year. Though what do we know, we and everyone else we know voted for #HILLARY.
VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
At Home with Amy Sedaris Drunk History I Love You, America with Sarah Silverman Portlandia Saturday Night Live Tracey Ullman’s Show
Until Trump gets impeached it’s Saturday Night Live. Never has there been a more perfect match of time, material and talent (Note: The White House being the exception). Though it’s safe to assume SNL would gladly make a deal to give up the honor if they could get him out. ……Wouldn’t they??
REALITY COMPETITION SERIES
DVR IS SET
The Amazing Race American Ninja Warrior Project Runway RuPaul’s Drag Race Top Chef The Voice
The awards are on a MONDAY night this year and desperately needs some sashay. Besides, I’ve watched every season of The Voice and this last one sucked. Gurrrrl…