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The Secret Circle Roundtable, “Bound”, Season 1, Episode 2

In girl culture, teen soaps on September 28, 2011 at 8:10 am

This week, we adjust Dawn’s Evil-o-Meter; ponder romantic musical chairs and binding ceremonies; and discuss possible queer subtexts and racialized representations.

Dark Crystals and Medium-Evil Moms

Sarah: Should we circle up?
Phoebe: Yessss
Sarah: So! Do you think Faye’s mom is more evil, less evil, or same amount of evil based on this week’s episode?
Phoebe: I think medium evil. Like she is clearly evil as she killed her father in law, but also saved that girl to protect Faye. So medium. And you?
Sarah: Yes, I concur – I think she’s complicated-evil, for the same reasons you mentioned. I definitely think she really cares about her daughter, but it seems possible she does not care about anyone else.
Phoebe: Except maybe herself and getting her powers back, as she also seems to be using the Elijah look-alike (aka Diana’s dad)
Sarah: Yeah, it’s interesting that he’s getting cast as kind of the henchman—the grandfather refers to him as not the sharpest wand in the box.
Phoebe: Ha yes indeed. Also, what do you make of the crystal? And the lack of wands (slash Harry Potter reference)?
Sarah: Well I’m on board with the crystal and lack of wands I think – I don’t have too many witchery preferences so if they want to go all New Age-y geostone, I’m down. What about you?
Phoebe: I concur. I am enjoying all these different types of witchery afoot … Seems more Vampire Diaries witch style, which makes sense I suppose.

Teenage Dreams (of Big Giant Jerks)

Phoebe: Also, what do you think of the opening sequence— the post-sex scene where Nick says he wouldn’t brag about Melissa (the girl he just slept with)…who is the only apparent witch who is not white.
Sarah: I have so many feelings!
A) What is he talking about, Melissa is super-hot
Phoebe: Right?!
Sarah: B) On the other hand, his character is supposed to be an asshole it seems so, good way to make us hate him.
Sarah: I’m curious about all the self-esteem issues the show is raising surrounding Melissa and Nick—as evidenced by Faye’s later comment at the party that she’d have to check her self-esteem at the door to hook up with him.(Said cluelessly with no intent of hurting Melissa, since their hookups are on the DL)
Phoebe: Right so true … That whole storyline was interesting. Also, why is he so awful? That is unclear to me, except that he is insanely obnoxious. But also, I concur that his initial comment was a surefire way to make us HATE him. But I also think it is so weird that in a town with almost exclusively white people, that comment was directed at someone who is coded as not white …
Sarah: Yeah that will be important to keep an eye on as the episodes progress to see if that’s a recurring thing or more of a one-off line.

Chemistry, Magnetism, and Subtext

Sarah: Also, what do you make of Faye’s interest in bugging/befriending Cassie?
Phoebe: I don’t know … Faye is so hard to understand. I am so confused … perhaps she is actually good, but wants to be evil. Or rather, she is like this interesting teen angst gray area.
Sarah: I kind of think there may be a queer reading in there.
Phoebe: Pray tell.
Sarah: Well, it’s early yet, but their dynamic is reminding me of Faith/Buffy
Phoebe: Yes!
Sarah: And it that pairing there was a lot of subtext-queer-reading possibilities in terms of both their rivalry and attraction (platonic or not) to each other. In this case though, Faye’s the one who’s interested in some kind of connection with Cassie; Cassie totally hates her at the moment. But I think that could change.
Phoebe: I see what you’re saying and I am intrigued … But I also think it might stay one sided, as Cassie and Adam have that crazy magic tension.
Sarah: Oh yeah I meant attraction but not necessarily overt in Cassie’s case.
Phoebe: Also, again with the magic = sex with Adam and Cassie and their almost post-magic kiss!
Sarah: Speaking of Cassie and Adam’s chemistry, are you feeling really bad for Diana? Even though I like their flirtations, I am.
Phoebe: Yes, but also I feel like something is afoot. Like she knows … And we learned that fate is hard to control. I feel like I foresee her trying to control their relationship or something. But I do feel bad for her, but I also don’t trust her completely
Sarah: Ahh that’s interesting! What makes you think that Diana’s untrustworthy?
Phoebe: I don’t know … But I definitely feel that way. Like she is too good and too nice and wants this binding business too much.

Binding the Circle of Teen Witchery

The Ties That Bind and the Magic That Drugs

Phoebe: Speaking of which, what do you think the whole idea about binding? And making it their power together wherein they are inseparable … It feels a little anti-individualist, which is kind of cool and intriguing.
Phoebe: Also, unrelated (but another point), it was good to find out why Cassie’s mom could not save herself from the fire (ie that all that generation were stripped of their power).
Sarah: Yeah, I agree on both counts! I think the binding ceremony is intriguing also because it seems like while the kids think it’ll make them stronger as a unit and less strong as individuals, the grandfather’s reaction seems to indicate that that’s not the way it works. They may not get more in control of their powers, but less so.
Phoebe: Also, what were Faye and blonde curtain guy (what’s his name?) doing at the fair?
Sarah: Some kind of herb potion that’s a metaphor for pot I thought? Based on how they were reacting.
Phoebe: Indeed, I thought so too … But I felt like it didn’t change anything and then nothing dramatic happened … Unless, perhaps Faye’s power was increased and hence her pushing that girl to her death? But they seem to blame the bigger magic power to Cassie’s presence, so perhaps not.
Sarah: Ooh yeah I didn’t think it was supposed to have a huge effect necessarily, just that it was to show them being rebels. But I do like that theory that it may have also made Faye less in control of her powers, since that would hold up.
Phoebe: Also, I just realized the first person to die is the class president and she is also African American. This episode did not treat anybody who is not white well at all
Sarah: That is a good point about Sally. Where there are TV characters of ethnic/racial minorities, it seems like a lot of shows are either pushing them into tiny roles or doing other problematic things with the characters or both.
Phoebe: I concur!

Lose Control

Phoebe: I ❤ the way magic is equated with drugs … It is described as seductive and almost addictive by the principal to Diana's dad.
Sarah: Ooh yeah. And also that seductiveness reminds me, it seems like maybe Dawn has a wild past too? Faye seemed to allude to something about that when she said Dawn would have to live vicariously through her revealing outfits. So that would go along with the idea of Dawn, Diana's dad, and co. as kind of magic/drug addicts and teens generally out of control.
Phoebe: Yeah it seems like they were out of control or rather controlled by the magic
Sarah: It'll be interesting to see what direction the show takes it in, because it could end up pushing a pretty conservative agenda (teens are out of control with their desires!) or the opposite (teens have natural desires and should be taught to use them responsibly!)
Phoebe: Hmm interesting … But I feel too that the parents clearly have those same desires
Sarah: Which would put the show in the second column.
Phoebe: Truth


“Hart of Dixie”: Professional Women, the South, and Friendly Alligators

In gender on September 26, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Sarah Todd

Hart of Dixie has a few good things going for it. Rachel Bilson’s eye makeup looks amazing, and her wardrobe makes a strong case for formal shorts. Jason Street is in it! There’s a fun scene where Bilson’s character, Zoe, walks down a country road at night holding boxed wine in one hand and pouring herself drinks in a Dixie cup with the other: she’s a one-woman bar. Unfortunately, the pilot episode of Hart suggests that it is going to be a one-note show.

formal shorts.

The show’s premise is more or less Everwood crossed with Sweet Home Alabama–although sadly, it’s not nearly as funny or heartfelt as Everwood. Zoe, a career-minded, Chanel-loving future heart surgeon, is forced by circumstance to uproot herself from the Big Apple and work as a GP in Bluebell, Alabama.

Going by Zoe’s reactions to her new town, Bluebell might as well be Mars. Unfortunately, the same could be said of the show’s vision of Bluebell and the South as a whole. There are a few region-specific references to Katrina and the BP oil spill, but for the most part the Bluebell of the pilot is full of folksy, down-home, stuck-in-the-past charm. Southern belles waltz around the town square wearing Antebellum-era hoop dresses, the mayor has a pet alligator named Burt Reynolds, one character’s car horn plays “Dixieland,” and apparently nobody ever wears black or orders a latte. Even their HBO references (The Sopranos, Sex and the City) are outdated. These groan-worthy details aren’t just generic and highly improbable. They perpetuate stereotypes about a backwards-facing South that’s also the manic pixie dream girl of the U.S. imagination, delightfully quirky and at once in need of saving (in this case, by the big-city doctor who’s there to make a difference) and acting as an antidote for cynicism, jadedness, and other contemporary urban ills.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to Be Awesome Like… Leslie Knope

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm

Sarah Todd

This post is part of a new Girls Like Giants series, “How to Be Awesome Like…” in which we break down the steps necessary to become more like some of our favorite heroines. Whether it involves getting a sweet army jacket, brushing up on our archery skills, or mastering the art of French cooking, there are many ways to follow in the footsteps of these rockin’ role models. Got someone you’d like to celebrate? Email us at – ST

Previously: Phoebe Bronstein’s How to Be Awesome Like Jessica Fletcher.

Seasons two and three of Parks and Recreation are my ultimate TV comfort food. I like my comedies packed with silliness and warmth, and the show has both in spades. (Season one, by contrast–pre-show-makeover–is pretty depressing. If you’re new to the show and have similar tastes, maybe just skip ahead?)

Post-season one, however, Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope is a huge part of what makes the show work. She’s zany and dorky and kind and loyal and incredibly hard-working, the kind of lady I can only aspire to be. In order to help myself get started in Knope-emulation, I put together the following list. (A future column may also feature another Parks and Rec character, April Ludgate, who is badass in an entirely different way.) And so:

How to Be Awesome Like Leslie Knope

•    Sleep never; have more energy than a bouncy ball after six espressos.
•    Hoard newspapers (lovably) so that your house looks like “a crazy person’s garage.”
•    Refer to bathrooms as “the whiz palace” when you’re feeling nervous.
•    Tell your best friend she is beautiful whenever you describe her, and especially when you are also about to say something she might not like.
•    Love waffles passionately.
•    Fight for what you believe in; never stand down.
•    When crashing boy’s clubs, be sure to announce—loudly and repeatedly—that that is what you are doing just so everyone’s clear. Read the rest of this entry »

Interlude: Just Bitten

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2011 at 4:58 pm

Chelsea H.

I generally like Jessica Biel.  I remember her from 7th Heaven, and it has been fun watching her mature from overalls to pencil skirts and super-sexy-but-still-innocent feel.  But now she’s in a commercial that bothers me.

Okay, as usual, this ad bother me.  First of all, we’ve got gorgeous Jessica Biel looking ethereal and semi-waif-y, but also overtly sexy with that lace top that emphasizes her top half.  And when she opens her (perfectly slicked, perfectly colored) lips, what comes out is a plug in a smoky, sultry voice for a product called… Just Bitten.

And that’s where my problem lies: what kind of name is that?  Biel asks us “Have you ever been bitten?”  What does that mean?  Bitten by… the guy floating around in the background, alternately kissing and creepily sneaking behind her?  Yes, she has delightfully flushed lips, but they don’t really look like someone… bit her.  Further, there is no biting in this commercial!  There is kissing, but the product isn’t called “Just Kissed,” it’s called “Just Bitten.”

So, all I can figure is that Revlon is capitalizing on the tremendous popularity and sexualization of vampires in today’s culture.  We are supposed to hear the phrase “Just Bitten” and think of Twilight, or True Blood, or Vampire Diaries, or something…  And yet no one bites her!  Why, if Revlon is going to reference a biting, do they not show the guy nibbling her neck or something?  Why doesn’t she bite her own bottom lip in that pouty/sexy way some girls do?  By the end of the commercial as Biel lies on the ground, shouldn’t she somehow be displaying bite marks? Instead we get this soft lighting and pale pastel and pastoral scenery, into which neither the bright lipstain shade nor the creepy vampiric name of the product fit.

Awkward? Yes, indeed.

In Uncategorized on September 24, 2011 at 8:54 am

Chelsea Bullock

I came to Awkward. late, but knew I had to watch it because a) I love girl culture, b) my favorite 12-year-old recommended it highly, and c) it’s MTV. I’ve since nearly finished the first season (yay for twenty-minute episodes!) and am a fan. I would choose to watch legit awkwardness over the faux-look-I’m-so-cute-in-overalls-and-two-pounds-of-hair-product-awkward of Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl.

Meet the main character, Jenna.

I'm not going to spoil the first episode for you by detailing how she winds up in an upper body cast, so watch it.

She spends a good first third of the season in this get-up, which is the premise for her awkwardness. There are plenty of other things that are awkward too (boys! parents! super weird school counselors!), but as seems appropriate for any high school centered show, Jenna’s awkwardness is first and foremost written on her body.

The show is unfortunately cliché and heteronormative in terms of its romantic storylines and narrative emphasis, but it’s a bit early. Get it together, Awkward. You’ve still got a little time.

The setting of the show, a few of the characters, and the quality of the production, especially the lighting, remind me of Easy A, but blessedly unlike Easy A, Jenna actually has girlfriends. Tamara and Ming are her two besties and even though there’s a bit of conflict between them (welcome to negotiating life, ladies), they’re supportive of one another and their individual brands of crazy–though Ming’s relies on too many racial stereotypes for me to be entirely comfortable–are endearing. Which brings me back to contrasting this with New Girl–astoundingly, Jenna is actually awkward. Not all the time. But! She hides in weird places, she steals things then deals poorly with the fallout, she can’t figure out how to establish boundaries in romantic relationships and thus experiences all kinds of awkward distress, she’s sometimes an emotional basket case, she’s the main target of the school bully, Sadie, and sometimes, she makes faces like this one.

Obvs, she's still adorable, but it's still a little awkward.

My mom would tell me that my eyes were going to get stuck like that.

Moving on to the final point of my initial review: Sadie.

Sadie is the resident mean girl. She’s a cheerleader, has a gaggle of devoted followers/peons, comes from a wealthy family, is smart and gets good grades, and is obsessed with her weight. One of the main plotlines is investigating the source of Sadie’s nastiness and need to belittle other people, mostly girls. I am nearly always simultaneously annoyed with and sympathetic for Sadie. She has a lot in common with my imaginary BFF, Blair Waldorf. They both have absent or confused parents (side note: Jenna’s parents are a messy delight), are master manipulators, and are desperate for attention in ways that leads them to do and say not-nice things. They both are also really vulnerable despite tough exteriors, have destructive relationships with food, and have a lot of emotional baggage that has to be overcome.

There are guys on the show too, but as is also kind of the case on the show–they’re not really what matters here. They are getting more complex as the season goes on, but, again, like we like it around here, Awkward. is really all about the girls.

How to be Awesome like Jessica Fletcher …

In gender on September 23, 2011 at 2:29 pm

This post is part of a new Girls Like Giants series, “How to Be Awesome Like…” in which we break down the steps necessary to become more like some of our favorite heroines. Whether it involves getting a sweet army jacket, brushing up on our archery skills, or mastering the art of French cooking, there are many ways to follow in the footsteps of these rockin’ role models. Got someone you’d like to celebrate? Email us at -ST

Phoebe Bronstein

In the last year or so, I have re-watched all of Murder, She Wrote (and re-watched some of the seasons more than once). Then I told my mom it was all on Netflix instant and she re-watched it all. Seriously, it is just that good. And Jessica Fletcher (aka Angela Lansbury) is just that awesome. Although, I have had MSW moments where I thought perhaps Jessica was the killer. I mean everywhere she goes, someone dies! That said, part of what makes her so awesome many years after MSW has ended is that all those who have tried to fill her shoes are all male/female sidekick and detective pairings – a pairing that inevitably creates a narrative of sexual tension and romantic desire (see Castle, The Mentalist, Bones, Body of Proof, etc.).

Jessica Fletcher + typewriter

So if you want to be a little more like Jessica Fletcher, here are some tips on what you have to do.

1) Be a retired English teacher (or I guess you don’t have to be retired yet).

2) Live in a small town in Maine (but it could be Monterey, CA as that is where MSW was filmed). So really perhaps just any small coastal town.

3) Write mysteries in your spare time on your old-school typewriter but then learn how to use a computer when the technology becomes available. I guess today’s equivalent might be, write mysteries on your computer, but then transfer to your smart phone once you make enough money as a mystery writer that you can afford one.

4) Have a best friend with whom you have romantic tension. Sometimes they will help you solve mysteries. Also, it is useful if he or she is the town doctor and thereby also the town coroner (oh Dr. Seth Hazlitt, you are the best). The best friend/doctor combo makes solving mysteries so much easier, but also filled with fun quips, witty remarks, and crime-solving dinners.

5) Always snoop around suspicious scenes and find clues the police missed. For example, the button on a Hollywood set that links the costume designer to the murder.

6) Be the best detective ever. I think Jessica trumps many of the newer sidekick types, for example, Patrick Jane on The Mentalist or even Castle on Castle (don’t get me wrong, I love Castle. But still). Although, Castle most certainly owes his existence to Jessica Fletcher.

7) Be over 50. Okay, so that makes Jessica a little less than accessible for the under 50 crowd, which I am currently part of. But, her age is part of what is so cool about her. She is one of the few women I have ever seen on TV that is over 50 (maybe even 60), independent (both financially and otherwise), smart, fearless, and with romantic prospects.

8) Be played by Angela Lansbury. Okay, so this last category is perhaps a bit difficult. But Angela Lansbury is also very awesome.

“Revenge”: Mwahaha.

In gender on September 22, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Sarah Todd

[Spoilers ahead]

ABC’s soapy new drama Revenge begins with a quote from Confucius: “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.” That is good advice, Confucius! One for your enemy, one for your other enemy, right? Time-saving.

Oh. Maybe that’s not what he meant.

Revenge takes melodrama very seriously. It is surprising that there’s no straight-up cackling, but maybe next episode. The gist: as an innocent young girl and future sociopath, Amanda vacationed at the Hamptons with her father. There, they had an adorable golden retriever puppy named Sammy. (The dog isn’t a super-important plot point, but Sammy was really cute.) They seemed like a very happy family, and all was well… until the rich family next door, the Graysons—along with some co-conspirators—framed Amanda’s dad for involvement in a terrorist plot.

Some years laters, Amanda (Emily Vancamp) returns to that same house in the Hamptons under the alias Emily Thorne. She knows now that her father was innocent, but he can’t be set free. He died in prison when she was 18. Thanks to her father’s early investment in a tech start-up that’s now worth a bundle, she’s got all the money she needs to fund her mission in life: revenge against the Graysons and everyone else who brought her family down. Just for starters, in the course of the pilot, she exposes an affair, gives a guy a fake heart-attack, gets a secretary who gave false testimony about her dad exiled from the Hamptons, and starts seducing the Grayson son, Daniel. So, she’s pretty busy.

Emily, hard at work on the mortal vindication front

Revenge stories tend to show how all-consuming it is to plot the downfall of other people. This makes total sense to me, because revenge looks like a lot of work. If it’s your main purpose in life, you don’t really have time to hold down a day job or go on a Match date or take a relaxing trip to the country. Read the rest of this entry »

The Secret Circle Roundtable: “Pilot,” Season 1, Episode 1

In girl culture, teen soaps on September 22, 2011 at 8:00 am

Teen shows are a kind of siren song for the ladies of Girls Like Giants. Naturally (or perhaps supernaturally?) we felt compelled to check out the CW’s new show The Secret Circle. Read on for a breakdown of the bewitching world of sad teens, missing and evil parents, youthful grandmas, and beautiful frozen raindrops (a perfect way to set the mood during a romantic trip to the woods!).

Cassie and Her Secret Circle

Sarah: So what do you make of our witch-y protagonist?

Phoebe: Well I have a soft spot for her post her performance as Lux on Life Unexpected. So I like her, as I think she is kind of grumpy which I like and stubborn.

Sarah: Yes, I didn’t see that show but I think she is a promising lead — I also like her grumpiness and the sense of integrity she projects. I think it’s interesting that Faye calls her “sad and delicate” because she’s understandably sad (given the death of her mother) but she didn’t really seem delicate.

Phoebe: Yes true. But not delicate at all

Sarah: It’s like Faye sees her as a Bella, but I have a feeling she’s way more of a Hermione

Phoebe: Yes, indeed and oddly unlike many of our current teen brunette heroines, she is blonde

Sarah: Right! More like a Buffy/Veronica Mars

Phoebe: Yes, totally like Buffy and VM (my fave). And all the other girl witches have brown-ish hair

Sarah: Which relatedly. What do you think of Faye and Diana? And their relationship with each other?

Phoebe:  I think Faye reminds me a little of The Craft and Neve Campbell/Robin Tuney, which I am digging. Diana, I am not sure yet especially given her dad is seemingly evil and a Vampire Diaries Elijah look-alike

Sarah: He does! I liked Faye a lot because I think she’s got the bad-girl vibe but isn’t evil herself. She’s interested in power, but she clearly doesn’t want to hurt people either. Read the rest of this entry »

Privileged Comedy: Blackface in F/X’s “Louie”

In race on September 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Sarah Todd

Louis C.K.’s dark-humored sitcom Louie, which depicts the life of a single-dad comedian raising two daughters in New York City, has earned accolades from critics and devoted fans alike. In general, I think the show deserves its positive recognition–it’s funny and edgy and honest with considerable heart. (Watch “Duckling” and try not to tear up.) It’s also not afraid to take on controversial and uncomfortable issues, usually in a way that’s meant to engage in real–but not humorless–discussion. Which is why I was surprised by the way a recent episode,  “Halloween/Ellie”, handled a character dressed in blackface.

In the first segment of the episode, Louie takes his daughters Lily and Jane trick-or-treating around the city. Lily, the youngest, is costumed as a fairy in wings, a wand, and a puffy vest (fall in New York is cold!). Jane, by contrast, is dressed in a tiny suit, a curly grey wig and beard–and blackface. “Who are you?” asks one storekeeper in a sweet but faltering voice. “Frederick Douglass,” Louie explains. She read about him in school.

As I watched the episode, I kept waiting for Jane’s costume to become an issue. Would another storekeeper, passerby, or fellow trick-or-treater challenge Louie to explain his daughter’s costume? Would the show find some other way of addressing the painful, racist history of blackface? The stand-up routine that precedes the segment helped set my expectations that the show would start a conversation about the costume. Louie explains, “I’ve got two little white girls in my house. When they complain, it kind of drives me crazy, because I know what the world is like around them. They have no idea.” As an illustration, he describes how his daughter complained about the bubble gum-flavored medicine she took to bring down her fever, and compares her situation with that of most kids in the world, who don’t have medicine at all. His point is that his daughters–by virtue of their race, age, gender, nationality, and class–have an enormous amount of privilege of which they’re unaware. Read the rest of this entry »

I Spy a Mom: Motherhood and Femininity in “The Debt”

In gender on September 16, 2011 at 8:06 am

Sarah Todd

Secret agents are people too, as spy movies like to remind us. The gun-toting, building-leaping, parachute-plunging protagonists of espionage movies often have spouses, children, parents, friends, pets, and partners. They make scrambled eggs for breakfast (foreboding scrambled eggs), take their dogs for runs in the park, and drop their kids off at school. Even James Bond falls in love sometimes, for a while. These personal details remind audiences of our heroes’ humanity, and of what they have to lose.

There are three spies in The Debt—Mossad agents Rachel, David, and Stephan. But only Rachel, played by Jessica Chastain and Helen Mirren in her younger and older incarnations, serves as the film’s emotional anchor and moral compass. As a young agent, she’s incredibly courageous, but her expressive face reveals every moment of self-doubt, fear, fury, and sadness. As an older woman, she’s more reserved and composed, but no less central to the film’s exploration of the ethics of espionage. Her fellow agents are interesting and appealing—David a tragic, thoughtful figure, Stephan all swarthiness and ambition (Marton Csokas, what are you doing later?). But their primary functions are as angles in The Debt’s love triangle. The film’s story is told through Rachel’s eyes, and crucially her perspective is repeatedly characterized as a distinctly feminine one.

More specifically, the film distinguishes Rachel as a sexually desirable woman, mother, and daughter. Each of these roles relate both to her work as a spy and to her personal life. Read the rest of this entry »

My Fall TV Line-Up

In girl culture, teen soaps on September 14, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Phoebe Bronstein

I got this idea from one of my favorite daily blogs,Grantland, which did a Fall TV cancellation forcaste. I am super excited for Fall TV Season, so instead of a forcaste for failing, I decided to do a Fall TV Line-Up. So here are a few shows that I plan on most certainly watching (new and old), a few I might watch, and one I will definitely skipping.


The Secret Circle (CW): I just watched the first episode, which is available free on iTunes (Thanks Sarah Todd!). It is Vampire Diaries-esque, but with witches and set in Seattle, apparently the new West Coast home for creepy (ie The Killing and Twilight). I won’t spoil anything from the pilot, but there are teenage witches, romance, dark shadows, and plotting parents. Plus it will be on right after Vampire Diaries, so clearly there is no good reason not to watch it.

Cassie of Secret Circle

Ringer (CW): Okay, so Ringer premiered last night and stars Sarah Michelle Geller (aka Buffy) as both good and evil twins (anybody else noticed a twin/doubles theme on recent teen television? Vampire Diaries, The Lying Game, and maybe PLL if my theories about A are correct). I feel that SMG is all I needed to be sold on this show. Seriously, Buffy’s back and now she has a twin.

Ringer = Buffy v. Buffy. Awesome.

The Hour (BBC): So this Mad Men-esque drama is set in the 1950s newsroom right at the shift from radio to television news. It started a few weeks ago, but I am including it here as it is really good and worth watching. It has a little bit of Mad Men and a dash of AMC’s short-lived but awesome and slowly paced Rubicon. There is murder, there is intrigue, there are great clothes, and rampant1950s sexism. As if that was not enough, The Hour also stars Jim McNulty (ie Dominic West) from The Wire as the face of the news program. Turns out he is British!

The cast of The Hour. Classy, No?

Up All Night (NBC): So I am not usually a fan of sit-coms, however, Up All Night, has such an awesome cast that I feel I will likely break my no sit-com streak. Tune in for Maya Rudolph, Will Arnett, and Christina Applegate. Sounds pretty good, right?

The Up All Night Comedy Team

And a few old:

Vampire Diaries (CW): Firstly, I just downloaded the free catch-up from iTunes and plan to watch it tomorrow before the Vampire Diaries premier. As far as I remember bad things are afoot in Mystic Falls. For one, Stephen is evil again (right?), Elijah escaped with Klaus but was then killed by Klaus (oops), Damon is still smoldering but not dying from a werewolf bite (yay!), and Caroline is still the most awesome vampire around.

Gossip Girl (CW): Even though the old standby wasn’t too great last season, I can’t stop watching it. It did get better near the end after all, when Chuck punched some glass amidst crazy camera angles, Blair officially left him (but will she be able to keep away? I hope so!) and went for the adorable and sweet Prince Louis. Serena stopped trying to be Blair, but not before she had unforgivably betrayed her (right?), and Blair and Dan are still BFFs who watch Netflix together but are not in love. Their friendship makes me happy. Oh yeah, and the crazy cousin Charlie, who was not a cousin! But rather someone, Lily’s sister paid off. So where is Serena’s real cousin? And what is the crazy Charlie imposter going to do now? Reek havoc on the Upper East Side? Most likely.

A few that might grace my TV:

The New Girl (FOX): I will admit I did laugh a lot in the pilot. But I have my reservations … See Melissa’s thoughts on it to see why it is on the maybe list.

Prime Suspect (NBC): Another year, another remake. This year NBC tackles a BBC and Helen Mirren classic. Perhaps it will be good, though I doubt as good as the original. Then again, I am rather partial to British television and the BBC.

Pan Am (ABC): Christina Ricci, Flight Attendants, looks like Mad Men. Maybe, just maybe since I do like Christina Ricci a pretty reasonable amount.

Definitely NOT:

Charlie’s Angels (ABC): I see no good reason to remake this show, which was then a myriad of movies. Thus, no good reason to watch it.

And lots of other stuff too.

Back in Full Swing Shortly

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Hi GLG readers,

First, you are all awesome for coming to Girls Like Giants and we really appreciate your reading the blog and all your comments. Secondly, we wanted to apologize for the small hiatus currently afoot. At the moment, we are all traveling, relocating, or taking exams and so our media attention span has been a bit rough around the edges. That said, we shall be back in full swing within a week and posting a smattering of things before then.

Thanks again!

Sarah & Phoebe

Not Such an Easy A: A few thoughts on the Scarlett Letter  update

In race on September 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

Phoebe Bronstein

I finally watched Easy A last night and it was fairly hilarious. That said, I have a few issues with the film, which I will elaborate on shortly.

Easy A is a modern day teen adaptation of The Scarlett Letter with Emma Stone (as Olive) and Penn Badgly (ie Dan from Gossip Girl), and a plethora of delightful and awesome supporting cast members. These include, but are not limited to, Lisa Kudrow as an adultering guidance counselor, Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as Olive’s father and mother respectively, and Amanda Bynes as Marianne, Olive’s bible thumping nemesis. Truth be told, I kind of have a soft spot for Amanda Bynes, which developed somewhere around the time I saw What a Girl Wants and Sydney White. Plus her performance is oddly reminiscent of Mandy Moore in Saved. But moving on.

Easy A is a fun romp through the traumas of the high school rumor mill. Here’s what happens: Olive (Stone) lies to her BFF and tells her that she has lost her virginity, a conversation that is overheard by Marianne (Bynes). Marianne then spreads the rumor all over the school. Next thing we know, nerdy boys want to pay Olive (usually in gift cards and coupons) to pretend that she kissed, went to second base, had sex with them—an endeavor that begins when she agrees to help Brandon (Dan Byrd), who is gay, pretend he is straight by having loud fake sex at a party. The film humorously details the consequences of this lie (ie Olive starts showing a little more skin and then sews an A to all her clothing), which (to fast-forward for a moment) ends with a guy getting the wrong idea and actually trying to pay her for real sex with a Home Depot gift card. Not to worry, she makes a tell-all web cast after a sexy performance with her longtime crush (Penn Badgley), and then they ride off into the sunset on a tractor.

All in all, the movie is quite funny and I found myself enjoying it a great deal. I mean, how can you go wrong with this puritanical plot? However, I was left with a few things that made me both uncomfortable and confused and feel less laudatory, mostly surrounding issues about race.

Firstly, Olive’s family who are white have adopted an adorable second child, Chip (Bryce Clyde Jenkins), who is African American. Perhaps this role was blind cast, but either way, Chip’s difference is constantly asserted in the film. It feels at times as if he is there as a means to show how progressive this particular white family is. Further, in the film his blackness is used to signal that he is adopted. Although his character has very few lines (although is in almost all the family scenes), his presence is always punctuated by dialogue, like “but I’m adopted,” or Stanley Tucci jokingly asking him, “where are you from?” At once, the film signals that Chip would notice that he looks different than the rest of his family and so it does not erase that difference, which seems like a good idea. However, it also uses that difference to signal both the family’s whiteness, but also that they are not the average white family from Ojai, California. But rather, Chip is used to indicate that they are just a little offbeat, in line with Madonna and perhaps Angelina Jolie.

Secondly, the storyline involving Brandon feels oddly frustrating for a variety of reasons. Granted the film takes on bullying, reminiscent of Glee (remember Kurt attempts a day or two as straight and wears a trucker hat to signal it), but the solution Easy A proposes feels strange. Either pretend you are straight to avoid bullying or run away with an older tall black man. Brandon attempts the first, but then decides on the latter, which is accompanied by a plethora of references to Huck Finn (also we see the couple watching an old Huck Finn film together). To me, this feels like a problem. This choice seems to mock stereotypes of the oversexed black buck or at least unsuccessfully try to (for more on this see Donald Bogle’s work). However, by pairing Brandon and his unnamed lover’s story with that of Huck Finn, the film evokes some problematic parallels between these two white and black couplings. By evoking the Twain novel, the film unexpectedly presents a parallel between Jim, who is a slave, and Brandon’s unnamed lover, one which suggests a reading of Jim and Brandon’s lover perhaps as predatory (particularly given the age difference).

Taken together, I think these two instances both function to produce whiteness in the film, at the expense of the black characters. Whereas Chip’s presence signals the whiteness of the family via the reiteration of his difference, so too does Brandon’s unnamed African American lover and his parallel with Huck Finn, suggest both Brandon’s whiteness and a relationship between a white boy and an escaped slave. In both these instances, difference is forcibly asserted, which in and of itself is perhaps not a bad thing, but it is when African American bodies are used seemingly for the sake of producing whiteness. Safe to say, this is nothing new in filmic representations of race, but the casual use of black bodies in Easy A to suggest various things about the white cast seems worthy of pointing out.

Within the scope of the film, the use of Huck Finn fits into the genre of updating and mocking a classic novel. But for the previously mentioned reasons I don’t think it works. I imagine there is much more to say here, but I would be delighted by any or all feedback, as these are just my initial thoughts. Easy A is fine when the plot sticks to the white characters (after all it is the Puritans they are mocking), but its treatment of bodies of color, specifically African American men, is worrisome perhaps at best.

Oh, for a Better Quirky Girl – on “New Girl” and “Manic Pixie Dream Girl Territory”

In gender on September 4, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Melissa Sexton

The commercials have been beckoning to me for weeks, promising that I’m their target audience.  What’s not to love about a sit-com caper that features Zooey Deschanel, the dreamy cop Leo from Veronica Mars (turns out his name is Max Greenfield), and twenty-something screw-ups thrown together by fate in a far-too-spacious-to-be-true city apartment? As if cop-Leo and well-lit apartments weren’t enough appeal, Frontier Airlines’s TV preview on my Denver-to-Grand Rapids leg was the full pilot episode of New Girl. I watched it without sound, as I was too travel-befuddled to dig out my headphones and as I think “guess-the-plotline” is a really fun game.  Once I was home, I eagerly checked out the on-demand preview (with sound this time) (the series airs for real September 20th, I believe).

Unsurprisingly, I’d gotten the entire plot right.

See, here’s the problem I so often have with comedies.  They seem to be driven by stereotypes.  And at some level, I guess, I get why that works.  We laugh because of what’s expected, or something, and they’re categories that we recognize.  Okay, maybe I don’t really get how it works.  I just get so frustrated because I don’t think seeing the recycling of the same old conventional categories is all that funny.  It’s only funny when the caricatures are so poorly done that they miss the mark – hence, the reason I find terrible action movies funny.  But when I’m watching gender/race/class/sexuality caricatures, I get an uncomfortable feeling inside that has very little to do with laughing.  And New Girl thus far relies heavily on caricatures of this type.

Read the rest of this entry »

PLL Summer Finale Recap, Season 2 , Episode 12, “Over My Dead Body”

In girl culture, Pretty Little Liars, teen soaps on September 2, 2011 at 8:14 am

This week we recap the Summer Season Finale (tear) and answer questions about the best wedding dresses, possible father/son situations, break-ups and make-ups, theories on A, and more. See you in October!


Whose wedding dress was your favorite and why?

Phoebe: I think Aria’s. But I just thought Aria looked so pretty throughout the whole episode with her amazing eye make-up. Thus, I think I was predisposed to thinking Aria looked great. I was the most intrigued by Aria this whole episode.

Sarah: I also really liked Aria’s mixture of feminine-punk in the pink rosette dress with a black belt and black lace-up back. I also thought Spencer was rocking the halter dress. And I agree with Phoebe on Aria’s eye makeup—there is no such thing as too much eyeliner (especially on that girl).

Melissa: I did think that Aria looked great.  What creeped me out about her outfit was how her punk-y, rhinestone-y skull necklace reminded me of the jeweled owl thumb drive that Caleb gave Jenna last season.  But that was an aside.  I also thought Spencer looked fabulous, and if I was Wren, I would have kissed her too, though my sister and I were yelling the whole time, “No!  Toby will come back and see you!  No!”  Still, it was a very chaste kiss, so that was fine.

What is your best guess about the relationship between Jason and Mr. Hastings?

Phoebe: I think Mr. Hastings is Jason’s father … That is sort of the only I can think of that makes sense. Particularly given what he said about watching him grow up, but also perhaps makes sense as to why Jason was not in the will (particularly if Ali’s grandma is on her dad’s side). But also, that doesn’t explain why Mr. Hastings is kind of mean to Jason all the time and wants him to stay away from the PLLs. I want to know what he told Jason, when he went to visit his house. On another somewhat related note, I am SO sad about Toby and Spencer. He loves her so much!

Sarah: I concur, I think it’s quite likely that Jason and Spencer are half-siblings. (On a side note, it’s interesting that Spencer always ends up being connected with the people she’s so suspicious of—she was certain Toby was the murderer and he became her boyfriend, sure that Ian killed Ali and he became her brother-in-law, and now she’s positive that it was Jason and it looks like they’re related. I wonder if this is a hint about her own involvement/her family’s involvement the mystery of Ali’s murder?)

Melissa: You girls both did fabulous sleuthing there.  I concur with your assessments, though my first thought was simply that Mr. Hastings had had an affair with Mrs. DiLaurentis and just wanted to hush that up.  But I could easily believe that Mr. Hastings is Jason’s dad.  What if he and Ian and Garrett ARE ALL MR. HASTINGS’S SONS and their club was a SECRET SONS CLUB.  Not likely, but since Melissa married Ian in secret, I guess we can’t rule out the possibility, can we?

What do you make of Emily’s vision of Alison?

Phoebe: So I am wondering if Ali is alive. Or rather if she has an evil twin or something?! And here’s why: In Emily’s vision of Alison, she is wearing the same boots that the person dragging Emily out of the shed was wearing. And granted the girls often dream of/have visions of Ali, but this one seemed different and more real, particularly given the boots, which I felt were a clue because it seemed as if the camera focused on them a decent amount.

Sarah: I was initially more inclined to think that the vision was just a dream, but I think Phoebe’s point about the boots is a sound one. In terms of what happens during the vision, I didn’t really understand why it was significant to ask Emily to choose between coming with Ali (if that = dying) or staying/living – while Emily has been under a lot of stress lately, it doesn’t seem like that would be a tough call for her to make. So, since I still believe Ali is dead, that also makes me think that maybe Ali has a twin, and that coming with Ali didn’t mean dying but maybe joining A? And relatedly, if Ali did have a secret twin, how many of their memories are of Ali, and how many are of the twin?

Melissa: Oh my gosh goodness, this secret twin thing just blew my brain sockets.  I can’t even process that.  I also cannot process if Ali is alive or dead.  I think Ali is dead.  Even though a body in a shallow grave could be unrecognizable after 1 year, I still think they probably did some sort of science-magic identification and know that it was Ali’s body.  Right?  The show hasn’t yet questioned any forensic evidence … Then again, it did take the show at least six weeks longer than us to acknowledge that A might be multiple people, so there’s no saying … But I think Ali is dead.  So yes, a secret twin would make good sense.  I also noticed the boot detail; I yelled loudly at my sister “THERE ARE THE BOOTS!” and I think she spilled her wine.  That’s a hazard with mystery shows, I guess.  But also, couldn’t someone in those boots have dragged Emily out and then Emily, still high off of the carbon monoxide, just imagined those boots on Ali?  The light was so fake-y that I didn’t believe Ali was alive; it was the same light that always surrounded Lily in Veronica Mars.  I am just saying; it is Dead Friend Mystery Teen Girl Show Light.  Maybe Melissa pulled her out and Emily just imagined she was A.  I am still waiting for Melissa to come back.

What do you think A has on the therapist that made her susceptible to blackmail?

Phoebe: I don’t know! But I was so worried she was dead … It also made me wonder if the original call was a set-up? That is the call from last episode where she said she knew who A was. But I feel like maybe the therapist isn’t a real therapist or maybe she did something with one of her patients? Or maybe A did something to her or caught something on that bug that had been in the office under the bobbly head of Freud. A is so creepy!! And also, so clearly multiple people, right? Because A is always and already everywhere.

Sarah: Ah that’s an interesting idea about the therapist not being a real therapist/having an affair with a patient, since those are both pieces of info big enough to destroy Anne’s career and potentially make her do such a sudden turnabout. The idea that A has the power not only to hurt the people the PLLs love and trust, but to make those people turn against the PLLs, is really scary. Because it means A’s power, again, is much more psychological than physical, and that it can reach practically anywhere—since I really do believe that Anne was invested in the girls’ well-being and wanted to help them.

Melissa: What if Anne had an affair with one part of A?  That would seem like an interesting twist, especially if A is young (as we suspect) since it would reverse the older male/younger female power plays that have dominated the show.  I would be intrigued if an older woman had a relationship with a younger man, since it would bring into question not just gender and power but a larger general question of age and power.  Still, Anne seemed to cave so easily; we’re not talking about manipulating the girls into small things now.  They’ve been framed for murder!  Maybe I’m just a good person, but I think I would ruin my career prior to framing four innocent high school girls for murder.

Why are Garrett and Jenna setting up the PLLs for Ali’s murder?

Phoebe: Clearly, because they are evil. Also, so weird that Garrett became a cop only to be able to frame the PLLs or so it seems from this episode and Jenna and Garrett’s creepy police interview room chat. It makes me think that it is either payback for Jenna going blind and Garrett is doing it for the love of Jenna. Or they really did kill Ali, hence the comment Jenna makes about Ali deserving to die the way that she did. Plus, they went so far as to confuse Jason, and clearly have been plotting along with this frame job since Ali’s death.

Sarah: As Phoebe knows from an earlier rant, this part of the episode really made me mad, because I feel like their conversation SEEMED like it was full of reveals/interesting things but in fact could have been about their favorite My Little Ponies because it was so difficult to pin anything down—except that we now know they wrote Jason’s note, took page 5, and were behind the shovel set-up. Ha, now that I type that I guess it’s a fair amount of facts, I just want to know more about what really happened that night I suppose. But I don’t think they’re ultimately going to be behind Ali’s death, so I concur that it’s likely their motivation for setting the PLLs up is probably revenge—or perhaps a cover-up for another thing that happened that night (related to Ali but not necessarily her murder) that they don’t want anyone to know about.

Melissa: I was angry about this scene too, but my faith has been restored.  Here’s why.  Anger – it made me have Lost flashbacks, where the carefully crafted plot suddenly unraveled and settled for a totally unsatisfying and easy reveal that made zero sense.  But then, I was reading, this website which is convinced that Garrett/Jenna were A.

As I was reading it, I realized that I don’t think Jenna/Garrett are A, and that their big reveal was another red herring.  That would replicate the crazy bait-and-switch of the last season finale – where we were sure Ian was A until the last second when another mysterious figure showed up to shove him from the balcony.  I think that Garrett/Jenna set the girls up for murder, but I don’t think they’re all of A.  I’m not even sure why, but my gut just tells me that when questions get half-answered the way that Sarah points out happens in this dialogue, then it’s leaving space for the plot to thicken.  And given the way ABC family has been playing up PLL (referencing it in like every new show promo ever), we know this show is going to continue.  I still go with my multilayered A plan.  I think there are multiple As.  Ian might even have been part of A.  But they are full of competing desires.

You know what might make sense? If the We See All club had turned into A.  That would explain A’s schizophrenic behavior.  Then Ian would have been part of A, but another part of A killed him for trying to kill Spencer.  Then Jenna/Garrett could have been framing the PLLs for murder, but Jason could have been pushing them to figure out who really killed Ali.  And others like Melissa could have been brought in as things happened.  I hope it’s something that complicated; Jenna and Garrett just aren’t scary enough for me anymore.

What do you think about all the PLL relationship developments in this episode? Maya/Em, Ezra/Aria/Jackie, Caleb’s return, and Toby/Spencer break-up/Wren’s kiss?

Phoebe: I thought there was so much afoot in terms of relationships. I am glad that Maya is back in town, although I feel confused about the ditching of Samara so rapidly (although I am kind of glad). And I thought the exchange where Maya wants to get to know the new Emily and take it slow was really sweet. In the Ezra/Aria world, I am SO scared of Jackie. She is clearly evil and mean, and also interesting that the plagiarizing is on the table. Ugh, but I would be happy for Jackie to be written off. And I am so so sad about the Spencer/Toby break-up and a little suspicious of Wren and his swooping in and kissing Spencer. Toby is so sweet and would totally love Spencer and all her secrets, if she gave him the chance. But in my favorite PLL relationship moment, Caleb came back and was awesome. I was so pumped when he told Hanna’s almost evil-stepsister that her dress gave her back fat. Glorious! Go Caleb! I’m so glad he is back and not as grumpy and that he has Hanna’s back.

Sarah: I was wondering if the reason Spencer decided that the only way to keep Toby safe was to break up with him was because A cut his brakes, and brakes = break-up? That seems like the kind of decision I might make, so I get it. But I also thought that was very sad, and that Wren was out of line with the kiss—I get that he may have feelings for Spencer, but she seemed clearly not in the mood. I also delighted in Caleb’s return and his loyalty to Hanna, and in Maya’s as well. Jackie seems insane, which is maybe a little sudden? Although I guess we’ve mostly just seen her watching Ezra and Aria suspiciously up till now without knowing what was going on in her head, and apparently what was going on in her head was a bunch of evil demons building a watchtower. Aria’s breakdown on the phone in the police station when she called Ezra to ask him to come was really sad and moving (and well-acted), as was Ezra’s urgency at the station. I’m curious to see what Ezra will do now that he knows Ella has picked up on the age-inappropriate relationship but gotten the girl wrong.

Melissa:  All I can say is if Ezra and Aria let Spencer go down for their torrid affair, I will happily sic Jackie on them.  COME ON.  Just own up already.  You’re under serious suspicion of MURDER, so what’s a little inappropriate affair?  It’s not illegal- you haven’t had sex.  JUST… Aria, if you want your family to stop lying, YOU stop lying!  Sorry.  Okay.  Got that out.  Jackie is evil, but I just get so frustrated with Aria sometimes.  I kind of wish Hanna would throw up on Jackie and that would just speed things along.  I also thought the Toby/Spencer breakup was sad, though, as I said to my sister, “That was like the easiest breakup ever.”  Spencer:  “Toby, I lied this morning about my dad” [which is not surprising, because he is insane, and like, came out of a house and hit your truck last night, not to mentioned burned things – also my brother in law died.  Yeah.  Rough year.  So I told one lie.]  Toby:  “Why would you DO that?  Remember our UNDYING LOVE?  Remember IMAGINING WHAT OUR CHILD WOULD LOOK LIKE IN YOUR BEDROOM?  MELODRAMA.”  Toby, you are my favorite ’til I die, but you think running from the law would have toughened you up a bit.  As for the other girls/guys – YAY Caleb for the back-fat slap down, and YAY Maya for being sweet and kind.  Samara was lame-sauce.  She and Toby should go sit somewhere and pout about being misunderstood while their super-hot exes have awesome lives.  Then Samara should go away but Toby should get back together with Spencer.  PS – My sister and I watched some of the old episodes too, and I seriously adored Maya’s line from her date with Emily last episode re: Paige – “She held your head underwater and you still dated her?  Girl, I got back just in time.”  Perfect!

Final Thoughts on the Summer Season of PLL? And predictions for the Halloween return of the PLLs? 

Phoebe: I am so sad the summer season is over. But I am pumped for the Halloween episode. And I think we are going to learn a lot about Ali (or at least that is what I am hoping for). I feel like we were left with so many cliffhangers in this episode. Oh and also, this episode’s format is one of my favorites! I love the flashback from the police station format, where we find out how they get arrested, while they sit covered in dirt in an interrogation room. Awesome. And the return of the creepy FBI/policeman dude who is out to get the PLLs, also seems bad news bears for the girls. And I hope for AMAZING PLL Halloween costumes with crazy glitter, more ripped fishnets, and lots of eyeliner.

Sarah: Overall I think this season did a particularly good job of fleshing out the relationships between the PLLs and their families and of stretching out the scope of the mystery of Ali’s death. I’m also pumped for the Halloween episode and hope that it foreshadows the directions of next season, because I would love it if next season were devoted to developing the Ali backstory more (all flashbacks all the time, I love them!). I also think it’s likely that more information about the relationship between the Hastings family and the DiLaurentis family will be forthcoming. And high on my wishlist: more of Hanna’s grandma!

Melissa:  I’m skeptical of the Halloween episode, but that could just be the weird advertising angle that I’ve noticed on ABC family commercials lately.  I just don’t know that they’re going to tell us anything particularly plot-forwarding in this episode.  It seems like an excuse for costumes and flashbacks.  Don’t get me wrong – I like flashbacks.  But I want some answers too!!!  I want Toby and Spencer to have to reconcile their differences; I want Hanna to fight Jackie with her flask; I want Spencer to do some schnauzer-like digging and uncover her dad’s dark secrets; I want Melissa to come back, in a serious way; and I want the PLLs to realize that Hanna’s grandma is their perfect confident, who could handily defeat A with a wooden spoon and some serious sass.

Love and Work in “One Day”

In Uncategorized on September 1, 2011 at 11:38 am

Sarah Todd

(This post is an outgrowth of a conversation begun with the wonderful Jeni and Bethany—shout-out to you two!)

Do you love your work? Does love sometimes feel like work? Does work interfere with loving your life? The Anne Hathaway-Jim Sturgess film One Day prompts such questions, particularly if you attend a showing at a work-focused personal moment.

One Day is a love story, but because that story covers twenty years in the lives of Emma (Hathaway) and Dexter (Sturgess), the movie is also necessarily about their careers. The two meet on the day of their college graduation, and meet again most July 15ths thereafter. They’re best friends, with a current of mutual attraction that occasionally surges forth only to be clobbered back by fear or circumstance or plot demands. Emma is a sarcastic, self-deprecating writer whose mad bangs and owlish specs can’t hide her radiance. (Why oh why does dowdy in the movies equal Anne Hathaway with poofy hair? She’d be a knockout with Marge Simpson hair, no?) Dexter, by contrast, is a charismatic, wealthy, dashing ladies’ man. Things come easily to him, which is more of a problem than it first appears, because then what do you do when things start getting hard?

If you have seen any romantic movie ever, you can guess whether or not they eventually get together. Correct: they do not! They each marry elephants. No, that’s Water for Elephants. Maybe. I don’t actually know what Water for Elephants is about because I haven’t read it or seen the movie, because ever since I read this article about elephants I get really sad and worried whenever I think about them. Anyway, yes, love is in the stars here, but stars are really far away. The careers of Emma and Dexter, much like their romantic lives, follow a winding trajectory. Read the rest of this entry »