Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Glee Does Gay, Straight, and Bi In "Duets"

It’s time for this week’s Glee rant.

Last night’s episode centered on a duet competition proposed by Mr. Schuester, the prize for which a coveted gift certificate to the crave-worthy Breadsticks restaurant (think Olive Garden). Each club member scrambled to find a partner that would lead them to victory, leading to some unexpected pairings and interesting duets.

Although one face in particular was missing from the bunch. Puck has been put in juvenile hall for driving his mom's Volvo into a convenience store and leaving with the ATM, and it’s unknown as to when he will return. When the cat’s away, the mice – or Cheerios – will play! With Puck gone, Santana got a little lonely and turned to Brittany for a little girl-on-girl action, saying about her sex drive, “I'm like a lizard. I need something warm beneath me or else I can't digest my food.”

Brittany and Santana sharing a moment.

However, Santana ditched the ditzy blond for resident diva Mercedes for a fabulous take on “River Deep, Mountain High.” Naya Rivera got to show off a vocal talent that I had underestimated until recently. I don’t know if she had voice lessons between seasons or if it was just a poor choice by the directors to keep her out of the spotlight, but she proved herself to be a capable singer – perhaps not the show-stopper duet partner Amber Riley is, but a voice I’d surely like to hear more from as the season progresses.

The belting beauties.

The abandoned Brittany then hooked onto Artie after he was denied by Tina, only to take his v-card. Seriously, Glee? Wow. That was a little unexpected, and frankly it came out of left field. I also thought it was strange for Artie to place blame on Brittany after the fact for having sex with him when it meant nothing to her. He knows she’s a slut – the whole school does. And he certainly could have said “no.” It just seems that if Artie wanted to lose his virginity to someone who cared, he should have done it with someone he had been dating for more than one week.

The direction in which Kurt’s character has headed is irritating to me. After coming out, it seems that the only value to his character, as his plotlines have shown, is that he’s gay. Of course a new boy comes to town, and all he can think about is flirting with him. And he sang a duet… with himself. Why? To sing as both his feminine and masculine parts. Give me a break. Gay people have more to them than their sexuality, and Glee – a self-professed show for the misfits – should embrace that rather than give the subject such a hackneyed, superficial treatment.

While I have wanted to see Mike Chang featured more, it seemed they didn’t showcase his abilities very well. “Sing” from A Chorus Line was a cute and fitting selection for Mike as he’s a dancer rather than a singer, but they barely gave him any choreography. I want to see that boy dance! Not to mention Tina can’t sing at all, so Mike should have picked someone else to complete his lyrical sentences if he really wanted to go to Breadsticks. I don’t know why they would cast Jenna Ushkowitz for any reason other than her race, since she can’t sing, she can’t dance, she can’t act, and she’s not particularly attractive.

“Lucky” was an underwhelming duet between Sam and Quinn, but the mellow pop song was a perfect fit for their less-than-powerful voices. I’m kind of confused about Sam as the new kid in town, and I haven’t formed an opinion yet on the fish-lipped actor Chord Overstreet (which is a ridiculous name). I do, however, know that Quinn needs to keep her legs closed. Girl just had a baby!

I won’t talk about the duets between Finn and Rachel because, frankly, I wasn’t paying attention to them. The two have gotten so overexposed that I’m tired of their characters, hearing them sing, their storylines – the whole thing.

Finally, I just have to thank the show for selecting the “Happy Days Are Here Again/Get Happy” duet. I had never heard the arrangement of the two songs as a duet before, and I instantly fell in love. I immediately tracked down the original with Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland on the latter’s television show from 1963 and have been replaying constantly since. Lea Michele and Chris Colfer sang a sweet rendition, which I could enjoy if I closed my eyes – yes, I’m talking about your nasty faces, Lea. The duet was a lovely way to end the show.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bansky Directs Chilling Simpsons Opening Sequence

Did anyone catch the jarringly dark opening sequence for The Simpsons this week? The opening sequence for the “MoneyBART” episode was directed by British graffiti artist Bansky, whose name was scrawled in black spray paint across the town of Springfield amidst a few ominous crows.

At the end of the usual opening, the scene of the Simpsons taking a seat on their couch pans out to reveal itself as a screening in a gloomy sweatshop of the fictional 20th Century Fox animation studio.

Rows of Asian workers are shown laboring over individual cells on transparencies for an episode of the show. A transparency is passed on to a little boy who dips it in a vat of radioactive goop while a rat drags a bone from a pile of dead workers.

Below the surface lies a factory in the dank caverns where the merchandise is made. A worker shoves kittens from a stuffed cage into what looks like a wood chipper to create the stuffing for a batch of Bart dolls. A panda harnessed to the bin carries the toys to a shipper, who then stuffs them in boxes using a severed dolphin head to seal them shut. The horn of an emaciated unicorn chained to the wall is show being used as a hole punch for the center of DVDs before it collapses to the floor.

The focus zooms out of the factory to reveal a color-drained 20th Century Fox sign flashing in the middle of a barbed-wired complex.

The sequence ends by returning to the TV set to flash the remaining credits to the end of the theme music, as usual. Very chilling and dark, and honestly quite self-defaming.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jane Lynch Is A Natural As SNL Host

This week’s SNL featured Jane Lynch as the host, and she has to be one of the most natural hosts I’ve ever seen. She knows just how to perform in character roles without going overboard. Her understated wit and expert timing is what I admire most about her acting. She’s definitely up there with the likes of Justin Timberlake, in my opinion.

Lynch currently plays conniving cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on the hit musical series Glee, but explained in her monologue that she’s unhappy with the fact that she doesn’t get to sing every week. So she goes on to perform a theme song that she drunkenly wrote for the show, which turns out to be all about her fabulous role: “'Glee' is a show about Sue Sylvester/ Sue Sylvester is the star of 'Glee.'/ Yes, there are few other characters/ But Sue is the one you want to see. And, surprisingly, she can actually belt!

Some of the funnier skits included a commercial for the “‘Damn It, My Mom Is On Facebook’ Filter,” the Christine O'Donnell “I’m Not A Witch” ad, and the Suze Orman Show.

I’m not really on board with newcomer Jay Pharoah’s impressions. Last week he did a decent impression of Will Smith, and this week he did Denzel Washington. He’s definitely got some nuances down, but it would be more effective if he toned it down just a bit.

I don’t know if the skits were better or if Lynch nailed it, but this is the only episode of the season so far that I’ve actually found funny. Amy Poehler and Bryan Cranston’s episodes were mildly entertaining at best. In general, the writing could stand to be stronger this season.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tim Gunn Advocates The Prevention of Gay Suicide In His Vlog

On Tuesday, our favorite dapper fashion host Tim Gunn posted a vlog entry on his Facebook page on Tuesday with a word for struggling GLBT and questioning youths in keeping with the "It Gets Better" project for preventing gay suicide.

“As a 17-year-old youth who was in quite a bit of despair, I attempted to kill myself and I’m very happy today that that attempt was unsuccessful. But at the time it’s all that I could contemplate. I thought, ‘I need to end things right now.’ And I have to tell you, when I woke up the next morning after taking more than 100 pills, I was in a whole other level of despair. I thought ‘I shouldn’t be here. This isn’t what was meant to be.’ I frankly just wanted to start life all over again.

"There are people who can help you. You cannot do this alone. That’s another very profound message that I want to give to all of you. It really requires a collaboration between you and the people who love you, the people you can depend upon, no matter who they are as mentors. In my case it took a very serious intervention to help me. And it was the result of the botched suicide attempt, to be blunt...

“I understand the desperation, I understand the despair and I understand how isolated you can feel. You have a lot of — I get very emotional — people really care about you and I’m included in that group. So reach out, get help, you are not alone. It will get better, I promise.”

Also in the vlog, he promoted The Trevor Project, a suicide hotline for GLBTQ youth, which can be found at and 866-4-U-TREVOR.

This is just another example of how Tim Gunn's awesomeness knows no bounds.

Glee Gets Its God On, As Does Modern Family

This week’s Glee post is a little late, but I’m going to post it regardless. Last week I noted my disappointment with the direction the series has been taking this season, and this episode didn’t change my opinion. It was littered with odd songs paired with weak performances, and a theme worthy of an after-school special.

Grilled godly goodness.

According to the October 11th issue of Us Weekly, the average songs per episode is being trimmed down from nine to six this season, since, co-creator Ryan Murphy says, “we’re concentrating more on the stories and giving the supporting characters bigger plot lines.” This would be great, of course, if the plotlines they devise aren’t so vapid as to center a whole episode on a grilled cheese sandwich.

Now, I have to admit, the Grilled Cheesus was a clever idea, but I didn’t like that it led to a preachy episode about beliefs. And dearest Fox Network, why is it the gay kid who’s the atheist, hmm? No way would Fox show a homosexual Christian, because to them that’s an oxymoron. But of course, we discover Kurt’s atheistic tendencies when his dad winds up in the hospital in critical condition after suffering a heart attack. This prompts the glee clubbers to send Kurt their prayers, which Kurt then shuns, thus sparking a conversation on religion and all different kinds of belief. Finn has his sandwich, Puck is a Jew for Jesus, and they even make a reference to the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

Lea Michele was only given one solo this time (praise Grilled Cheesus!), but I felt a little uncomfortable watching her sing to Kurt’s dad at his bedside, all the while calling him “Papa.” Did anyone else think it was weird that these kids were in his hospital room? Sure, they’re all in glee club with Kurt, but it never seemed like they were all that close to Kurt and he didn’t even seem to want their support in the first place.

As much as the religion theme irked me, I will continue to watch, if only to see the minor characters get their chance in the spotlight as promised. Last week’s concentration on Brittany was amazing, and I hope that this Artie/Tina/Mark love triangle will give Harry Shum Jr. a chance to shine as well. Although, if they keep running weak performances like Mark Salling’s “Only the Good Die Young,” I’ll just be forced to fast forward right through. Amen for DVR.

Did anyone else notice that Modern Family had an episode about Christianity vs. atheism this week? Unlike Glee, Family managed to keep the religious theme as only part of the plot rather than the crux of it, which made it bearable. It was also endearing the way they placed a curious and questioning Manny in between his Christian mother and atheist Stepfather, trying to clarify his own beliefs. It was lighthearted and fun, which made it much more successful than Glee’s ram-it-down-your-throat, Full House-esque tactlessness.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Claws Come Out!: Conflicts on Project Runway Season 8, Episode 11

The top six designers.

Things are getting catty at Parsons! On this week’s episode of Project Runway, tensions run high not only amongst the remaining six designers, but a few contestants have a bone to pick with host Heidi Klum.

Drama ensues when contestants are asked to create three looks for Heidi's active-wear collection for New Balance to be sold on, enlisting in the help of previously eliminated designers. As usual, Michael Costello is the target for criticism when Ivy calls him out on allegedly cheating during a prior challenge. Ivy claims to have seen Michael C. using tape during the Jackie Kennedy challenge, then proudly goes around to the other designers to tell them she had “taken one for the team.” Of course, whenever talk of foul play is astir, Tim Gunn gracefully saunters in to clarify. According to him, nobody saw any rule-breaking on the part of Michael C., and Ivy is finally shut up.

There is yet more commotion when Heidi comes to the studio to evaluate the designers’ progress. When she explains to Mondo that she isn’t thrilled with the work he had started, Mondo cops an attitude. The New Balance line is for a busy woman who still wants to look fashionable, but Mondo's pieces aren't practical and are ill-suited to the customer in mind – Heidi can’t even get one of the pieces over her head! Mondo rolls his eyes, to which Heidi replies, "There's no reason for you to be rude." Mondo pouts, claiming he’s not being rude, but “hurt,” and sulks about having to start over.

Mondo isn’t the only contestant put off by Heidi’s opinions. Gretchen first feels friction with the host when they disagree on her fabrics. Heidi notes that Gretchen’s fabric choices aren’t the same as those already in the collection, and insists that she stick to the fabrics the line could use. The clashing continues on the runway when Gretchen takes Heidi’s criticism personally. Heidi responds to the contestant, who constantly disagrees with the host’s opinions, that “constructive criticism is not your enemy.” Backstage, Gretchen states, “Heidi really doesn't like me,” and that her comments aren't constructive criticism, “but I'm here, and I should be.”

Gretchen gets some bad news from host Heidi Klum and mentor Tim Gunn.

In the end, Mondo is a contender for the number one spot after taking Heidi’s advice, editing his pieces into a smart, geometrically inspired mini-collection. He winds up in second after challenge winner Andy. Gretchen misses the mark and lands in the bottom three with odd creations that were meant to bridge the gap between Heidi’s casual active-wear line and more dressy clothes. She delivers such travesties as peek-a-boo spanx and a glorified bathrobe, but it is Christopher who ultimately gets the boot. It is no surprise to hear Christopher admit to never having done sportswear after seeing the sad looks he sends down the runway. It's his time to go, though, as he had been coasting for far too long on being safe. Hasta la vista, Christopher!

The Office is Revitalized for Carell's Last Season

This week’s episode of The Office was amazing! The show had been kind of dragging on, but it seems they’ve really spiced things up for Steve Carell’s last season.

In this episode, Andy invites the entire office to his community theater production of Sweeny Todd in the hopes that he will win Erin over with his performance as Anthony. As someone who has been involved in community theater myself, this really hit my funny bone. I love how Michael was so bitter about not being cast that he boozes it up in the audience, and Andy’s attempt to improvise when his cell phone goes off onstage is priceless!

I was a little bummed to find that Erin had been dating Gabe over the summer, but it makes for a love triangle that will no doubt lead to more funny antics in upcoming episodes.

I was also wondering about when Angela and Dwight would be addressed, but their “procreation contract” was touched upon in this episode, along with some uncomfortable flirting. I can’t wait to see where the relationship goes!

With the hilarious community theater bit, the “lip dub” sequence from the season premiere, the awkward romances, and an upcoming episode where the office gets together to watch Glee, The Office seems to be getting the second wind – and breath of fresh air – it needed.