Big Little Lies: No Need For A Second Season

by: LGreen

image via HBO

As someone who both loves TV in general and Big Little Lies in particular, this is hard to say: I don’t want a season 2. It’s bitter-sweet when shows you love end, but end they should. There’s so much mediocre-meh-good-enough TV out there (not naming any names), that when something good pops up, you want to keep it forever. I’m already in deep denial that Bates Motel and The Leftovers are ending. If the TV Gods offered to keep them forever, irrational me would jump at the chance. Rational me knows that it’s time to say goodbye.

Just as when a character’s arc is complete, when the whole story is done, please please please end it. Just let it go, shove it out the door and say goodbye. In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss says, “don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” The internet tells me he said it, which is good enough for me.

Indulge me for a moment, TV Friends: imagine for example, if Lost (yeah, I’m talking about Lost!), had ended with everyone boarding the plane back to the island, ready to save their friends. Picture it! It’s the spring of 2010: our heroes go full circle,  return by choice with a mission, having become the good and selfless people the island wanted all along. The audience would have filled in the details themselves. Did we need to see Good and Evil fight to the death over their Mommy Issues, a magical mysterious lighthouse (that somehow nobody ever saw before), and a bunch of new faces created solely because they were expendable and could take bullets the leads couldn’t? Short answer: no. And I’m in the minority of people who didn’t have a problem with how Lost ended. I actually think it could have wrapped up sooner. I don’t care about mysteries about hatches and polar bears, and dharma sharks, I care about characters finishing their journeys, that they get what they want or die trying, the end ( …coincidentally the title of the final episode of Lost, but I promise I’ll stop now.)

So what does this have to do with Big Little Lies, you’re asking? Well, for as much as I would love to have more Madeleine Martha MacKenzie’s mile-a-minute dialogue in my life, I think we’re done with her. As fun as she is, Madeleine and Renata, Bonnie, their husbands, their kids, the Greek chorus of eye witnesses are really there to tell Jane’s and Celeste’s overlapping stories. Yes, everyone has secrets, everyone is telling lies, but compared to the mysteries of Jane’s past and Celeste’s present, they are supporting secrets. And still they found some closure, which is a nice bonus. Renata found some peace, Madeleine some perspective, and Bonnie some catharsis. Big Little Lies couldn’t be more over if you pushed it over a cliff and down a steep set of stairs.

“But wait!” you’re thinking, “what if they just write new plots and the story continues?” Sure, while that’s theoretically possible, Big Little Lies sure seemed complete to me. Should a second season pop up and reveal that there are more lies and more secrets, Monterrey runs the risk of becoming wacky Twin Peaks. The appeal of Big Little Lies is the secret empathy found in superficially unrelatable characters. You go from saying “I’d love that life!” to “Err…. no thanks, I’m good.” The little fibs, secrets, and half-truths have already been unmasked for the real disasters they’re covering. You can only go to the well once for that particular trick.

So let’s appreciate what we’ve been given: a well-executed intriguing drama — with a top-notch cast, satisfying conclusion, and surprising empathy.  It’s been wonderful ladies, but it’s time to drive off down the Pacific Coast Highway to greener TV pastures. … Did I mention The Leftovers is starting Sunday?

Bates Motel: Doomed in the End?

by: LGreen

Things are really looking up for everyone on Bates Motel. Norma and Dylan have found love, Emma has a sparkly new set of lungs, even Norman is finding some peace. Everyone is, if not exactly happy, getting pretty close. It’s wonderful! And terrible! Surely this cannot last, can it?

We’re all doomed in the end, right?” is the casual piece of flirty cynicism  Norma threw out to Romero towards the end of last season. And if we go according to Psycho, then yes, you are all doomed in the end. You, especially, Norma. A mere half season later Norma and Romero are blissful newlyweds, saying “I love you,” making out like teenagers, and being all swoon-inducing awesome. So either this is the most excruciating build up to the other shoe dropping, or maybe, just maybe, a few of these troubled characters might just make it out happy and alive. But is that possible? Let’s take a closer look.

Emma (probably mostly happy)

Bates Motel_Emma

Emma is the most likely to make it out of White Pine Bay alive and healthy. She’s already halfway there, including distancing herself from Norman. She’s happy with Dylan and, even if that doesn’t last, we know wise-beyond-her-years Emma can roll with a break up. She’s on her way to college and a brand new life. There is that unfortunate situation with her mother being murdered by Norman/Mother. Maybe no one will tell her? Possible. But a murdered Audrey Ellis is like Chekhov’s gun, expect to see her again before the season is out.

Dylan (chances are slim)

bates motel_Dylan

Dylan has terrible luck, a terrible origin story, and zero safety net. He’s super happy with Emma, but everyone in his family has a way of sucking you right back into their orbit of crazy. Seattle may not be far enough, Dylan. Don’t stop until you hit Canada! On the flip side, Dylan is due some luck and maybe the writers will find it in their collective heart to cut everyone’s favorite brother a break.

Dr. Edwards (sorry in advance, doctor)

Bates Motel_Dr Edwards

I am so worried for Dr. Edwards! He’s totally doomed, right? He even called it himself in this week’s episode (“The Vault”). He says “Mother” appears to protect Norman from danger, in which he includes himself. Don’t give him any ideas, Dr. Edwards! Also take a look at how he’s lit, Norman is often in full light and the doctor is half in shadows. Something ominous is coming his way. His one possible chance? It would be hard for Norman to kill him in the hospital and get away with it.

Alex Romero (I’m so nervous, you guys!)

Bates Motel_Alex

Look at the dapper suit and bright smile! Who’d want to hurt this handsome gentleman? 1: Probably a lot of people. 2: Norman. He’s not going to be happy his late night movie cuddlefests with Norma are a thing of the past. Just look at Norma’s reluctance to even mention her new husband; Alex, you in danger, girl!

Romero’s safety mostly concerns me because of how it will affect Norma. She’s finally found someone who makes her happy, who’s good to her, who literally knows all her secrets and doesn’t care.  He bought her a coffee maker and filled in the pit. This is love!  Would Bates Motel get rid of Romero just to add one more tragedy to Norma’s already impossibly hard life? Yes! Yes, I think they would. It’s gotten so bad, that I hold my breath everytime he shows up.

Norman (definitely doomed because, well, Psycho)

Bates Motel_Norman

The writers have repeatedly said that they’re not writing Psycho. Bates Motel is inspired by, but not a prequel to, the movie. That’s obviously true, given the current time period. But time is a slippery thing in this world. Norma and Norman, from their home to their clothes, to music and movie choices, often exist in a world that seems both far away and of the past. Indicative of the bubble they share? Sure. But also, a big nod to the source material. This isn’t Psycho, but Norman’s world is. I don’t see how he’s going to escape that fate.

Chick (Doomed. Good)

Bates_Chick

How did this annoying minor character become so pivotal this season? And I’m not sure if his blackmail scheme with Norma is over. She called him on is bluff and all he did was give her a very creepy kiss on the cheek and leave. Is that it from you Chick? Back to the woods you go? Maybe he’s done with Norma, but he’ll likely be hearing from Romero sooner than later. People who threaten Norma Bates don’t tend to live long in White Pine Bay.

Norma (wildcard, fingers crossed)

Bates Motel_Norma

Oh, Norma. I worry about you most of all. The original Norma Bates didn’t end up so well, so we’re either watching her march towards that inevitable fate, or maybe Bates Motel will reward her for all her suffering. Maybe? Probably not.

This season in particular seems especially menacing towards Norma. With break ins, bitter ex-girlfriends, and Chicks all over the place (and even Norman posing a few threats himself), pulling out a happy ending would be an unexpected hat trick. Norma even predicted shed one day break her neck falling on those stairs, so now I have stairs to worry about too!

All this is why her newfound happiness with Romero is fantastic and awful and nerve-wracking. You just want them to really pack that bag and get out of town. Quick, before Norman/Chick/Caleb/Rebecca/The FBI/Fate catches up to you.

(Bates Motel airs Monday at 9EST on A&E)

*all images via A&E

“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”: A Pumpkin Spice Fever Dream

by:  L Green

Poor Pig Pen

It’s Halloween, which means one thing–The Peanuts Gang is back to bring us all down with their casual holiday-themed cruelty and introduction to adult futility. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! is by far the most depressing of the Peanuts holidays, featuring the power of hopelessness, loneliness, weapons, and a WWI subplot. Throwing a pumpkin in the mix doesn’t save this fall classic. Pumpkins taste like cinnamon squash, so it’s no wonder this tale abounds with disappointment.

As always with this crew, there are many strange things happening at once. Here are the best and worst moments of this cinnamon-spiced nightmare.

Worst: Horrifying Opening Credits

What is going on here?

What is going on here?

Why is this so scary? Why are these children all dressed as ghost witches?

Worst: The Great Pumpkin is a sham

Welcome to a lifetime of disappointment, Linus.

Welcome to a lifetime of disappointment, Linus.

Are there no adults anywhere who can soften the eventual blow life will deal this kid? We’re talking about a balding third grader who still carries around a blanket! Clearly there’s some sort of attachment issues going on here (and likely a nutritional deficiency as well). Linus has crafted for himself a fantasy of a mystical squash that rises from the earth on Halloween night to bring toys to all the children (misinformed and weird), and whose best quality is its “sincerity” (just sad). A cry for help if ever I’ve heard one.

Spoiler alert: the “Great Pumpkin, much like “Oz” (its human counterpart in disappointment personified) unsurprisingly never shows up. Nobody does pathos like the Peanuts.

Best: No Peppermint Patty.

Peppermint Patty is a nightmare

Peppermint Patty is a monster

A day without Peppermint Patty is a day to celebrate. She didn’t show her furrowed face in A Charlie Brown Christmas and is a no-show for Halloween, too. Win!

Worst: No Woodstock.

Woodstock is fantastic and along with Snoopy, should be the star of this show. But he’s wisely off somewhere better. He may be a canary, who’s best friends with a beagle, but he’s no dummy. “Oh, you’re sitting around in a field all night, waiting for a magical vegetable to rise into the sky? Count me out.” *flutters away*

Worst: Adult-sanctioned bullying

You're looking at your future, kid.

You’re looking at your future, kid.

It’s bad enough that Charlie Brown’s supposed friends run around treating him like garbage, but now the adults are in on it too?? Everyone gets candy for trick or treating and C Bro over and over again gets rocks? Who are these adults passing out rocks to children?? Why do they hate ol’ Chuck so much. I mean, look at his lame costume. This is a child who can’t cut holes in a sheet. He doesn’t need your scorn, he needs your help!

Worst: “Tricks or Treats”.

While we’re on the subject, am I losing my hearing?? Are these children saying “Tricks or Treats” rather than “Trick or Treating“? Is this some sort of regionalism or another case of nobody teaching these children a damn thing?

Worst: Peer Bullying gets worse

They needed a “pumpkin model.”

Oh for God’s sake, this is how super villains are born.

Just look at the rage!

Charlie Brown Pumpkin 8

You’re scaring Linus! And Linus already has enough issues!

Best: Snoopy

I do what I want

“I do what I want”

Snoopy, probably sensing that the main plot of this yarn was going nowhere, and wanting no part of the B plot either, wisely crafted his own story line about being a WWI war hero. Does it have anything to do with anything? Not really. And don’t get me started on the clunky exposition:

“By the way, whatever happened to the WWI flying ace?”

“He’s pretending he’s down behind enemy lines making his way through the French country side.

What????

Best: Snoopy again

Its-the-Great-Pumpkin-Charlie-Brown-3

slow clap for Snoopy

Good ol’ Snoop does show up in the A plot, just long enough to ruin Lucy’s Halloween party. You do you, Snoopy.

Worst: Violence.

Linus: "You didn't tell me you were going to kill it."

Linus: “You didn’t tell me you were going to kill it.”

Oh my God.

Best: Eternal Hopefulness

Linus: “Just think, when the great pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch, we’ll be here to see it.”

This is actually pretty sweet. We should all channel our inner blanket-toting Linus and dream a little more about a bright pumpkin-hued future, where our dreams–no matter how silly–can come true.

Worst: Just kidding.

Great Pumpkin 9

Sally: “You kept me up all night waiting for the pumpkin and all that came was a beagle. … And it was all your fault! I’ll sue!”

Sally, no one made you sit in pumpkin patch all night, but you. #TeamLinus

Worst: Misogyny

Linus, re: Sally: “You’ve heard about the fury of a woman scorned, haven’t you?

Oh, Hell no.

 

And that wraps up another holiday with the Peanuts Gang! See you next time, when C Bro and Pals spend another holiday tearing each other down in more impossibly weird, unsupervised situations. But at least we always have Snoopy.

The Biggest Moments of Orange Is The New Black Season 3

by: L Green

orange season 3

Season 3 of Orange Is The New Black quietly set itself apart from previous seasons. Piper technically is the focus, but seems less important as the story evens out across all the inmates. Gone too is a common villain. There are still squabbles and fights and arguments, but not one Big Bad for us to rally against. Even the MMR overlords are more disinterested than overtly evil. Opinion is split on whether the lighter tone of this season is better or worse. But no matter where you stand, we can all agree that season 3 still offered some huge moments.

Stop reading if you don’t want to get hit with a slockful of spoilers; some of the best, worst, and most shocking moments of season 3 including:

Alex is back. Back in season 2, Piper ratted out Alex for breaking her parole, so it wasn’t too shocking to see her back. More of a surprise was Piper’s confession that she was responsible. Supposedly she did it for Alex’s “safety”. Sure, Jan. Let’s call these two even.

Nicky leaves. Back when I was forming my season 3 wish list, I hoped for a favorite inmate to leave, just to shake things up a bit. It was still shocking that it ended up being Nicky and so early in the season. It wasn’t unfair that she got sent to maximum security for her role in the heroin scheme, only unfair that Luschek got off completely.

Litchfield goes corporate. Caputo, who we find out has a hero complex, recruits private company MMR to take over Litchfield’s operation. This proves more of a nuisance than anything, but becomes a source of tension for the guards, Caputo, and anyone who tries to eat the new low-budget food for the kitchen. Boil in a bag beef wellington is the stuff of nightmares.

Big Boo gets a makeover. Big Boo is the best. This season really highlighted her big heart and common sense. Her season highlight was getting an uber-feminine Sophia makeover (long story). She was as shocked as we were, “I look like my mother.”

Prison Drama Club. Please please please let this become a web series spinoff.

Crazy Eyes pens the cult hit, The Time Hump Chronicles. Suzanne, as it turns out, doesn’t actually know anything about sex. Proof that her underground erotica about Admiral Rodcocker is the work of a once-in-a-generation genius.

Piper becomes a prison panty kingpin. Sort of gross, but worth it for her St. Crispin’s Day-esque, Shakespearean rallying cry rounding up fellow dirty panty aficionados.

Judy King goes to prison! Real life Piper missed Martha Stewart in prison, but it looks like we’ll meet her TV counterpart next season when Judy King (Blair Brown) shows up at Litchfield. Though to be fair, she seems more Paula Deen than Martha Stewart, which may not go over well.

Poussay catches drunk squirrels in a bag. Worth mentioning only because that seems really hard!

Leanne is Amish. Who saw that coming????

Big Boo and Pennsatucky plot to “Dragon Tattoo” a guard. This whole situation was pretty heartbreaking, but leave it to Big Boo to coin the best phrase dealing with broom handle rape revenge plots.

Pornstache’s mother is awesome. Again, who saw this coming?? Even she hates Pornstache.

Flaca is maybe the only innocent person in Litchfield. You know what they say, Everyone is prison is really innocent. But Flaca sort of is. Sure, she got mixed up in something she didn’t understand, but selling fake drugs that led to a coincidental suicide is more weird than anything. And then on top of that, Piper has to be super mean to her!

Chang is a badass. Actually who didn’t see this coming?

A weird prison cult that makes no sense is formed. The church of Norma is the only subplot that really falls flat. That’s wonderful that Norma makes people feel good, but that’s mostly because she keeps her mouth shut and doesn’t bother them. Don’t mistake coincidence for fate, ladies. Norma’s nice, but she’s not the second coming.

Soso overdoses. on Benadryl. Oh, Soso. And your mom is awful too.

Black Cindy converts to Judaism. What started as a search for fresh broccoli, turned into a true source of hope and community. What started as a one-off joke from a minor character, turned into the season’s main theme. Who there isn’t looking for a faith?

Piper gets a prison tattoo. “Trust no bitch”. Piper is really finding herself in prison, no?

Piper lives up to her tattoo. Oh, the irony! Sorry, Stella.

Alex was actually right! 90% of what comes out of Alex’s mouth is a smug one-liner about what’s wrong with someone else, so I’m not surprised that everyone got used to ignoring her. Such a bad time to actually be right about your life being in danger.

Everyone has a pool party. That looked like fun. Minus the prison part.

8 Other Shows That Need Spinoffs

by: L Green

image via AMC

image via AMC

Better Call Saul is going strong on AMC and challenging the whole concept of what a spinoff can be. Who’d have thought that little ‘ol Saul Goodman would be the guy to make us forget Walter White? This makes us here at Green TV (basically just me) wonder what other unmined spinoff gems are lurking in some of our favorite shows? Pay attention, TV execs, here are some new spinoff ideas for you:

Sleepy Hollow. What’s going on with Katrina these days? Nobody knows. Right now she’s back in the good old days, where she wanted to be. Does she stay there? She could and we could have an entirely separate witch-infused colonial drama on our hands. Sort of like Girls, but more Revolutionary. Zing! (Katrina is such a Marnie)

Parks and Recreation. Raise your waffles in honor of TV’s best comedy as it prepares to say goodbye. But the sweet spirit of Parks and Rec can continue on with the Donna Meagle spinoff of our dreams. What does Donna do all day? What are her fabulous weekends like? Now we can know! It would be called “Treat Yo Self,” obviously.

Lost. I can’t let Lost go. Can’t stop, won’t stop; we have to go back, etc. etc. I know people are very over Lost and still (still!) have some very polarized feelings on it. But here’s what I want to know: in the finale Kate, Sawyer, and Claire all fly away off the island and presumably lived happily ever after? Kate broke parole, Sawyer should be dead, and up until a day before, Claire had a dead squirrel baby. Did the three of them and Aaron move in together in the zaniest episode of Three’s Company ever?? I want to see it.

Downton Abbey: In an earlier rant about Downton Abbey, I suggested a Dowager Countess/Isabel spinoff that goes something like this: “They are Downton’s answer to Ben Linus and John Locke, antagonistic buddies, more similar than they’d like to believe. The DC will occasionally pop up with a zippy one liner and Isobel is relentlessly earnest to a fault. They are likeable, but they are not interesting. They’re becoming bffs, which has interesting potential. I’d like to see these two transported via time machine to present day London, where they open up a detective agency/finishing school where they take on London’s worst crimes and crimes against etiquette. That, I’d watch.” I stand by this.

Glee. New Directions is over. Everyone’s grown up and moved on, except Will Schuster. He’s still there and his failed experiment has come and gone; the music is over and he’s left as a bitter old lonely wandering around Lima, Ohio. This should be on HBO. It can be called “Glum“.

Mad Men. Mad Men is ending and the debate about whether or not Don will change or can change really doesn’t seem to matter anymore. It’s ending and chances are Don will be exactly the same as when the show started, only older. So let’s shift focus and see what Sally’s up to! Sally Draper, super smart party girl dancing away from her childhood of neglect. You know you’d watch that.

The Good Wife. Why why why does Elsbeth Tascioni not have her own show by now? TV is filled with good lawyers and zany lawyers and now finally we have both. (sigh) Maybe she can at least pop up on Better Call Saul.

Orange Is The New Black. Almost any character on OITNB is worthy of their own spinoff, except for the boring nun. But how about a Crazy Eyes prequel? And if it’s too horribly depressing and disturbing to watch a sweet little girl’s ultimate decline into crime and mental illness, we could have one on Morello and her shopaholic antics and tragic love life. It could be called “I Love Christofa“.

Shameless. Flash forward 10 years. Lip is now “Philip” and a wildly successful engineer and entrepreneur, forced to continuously deal with his family’s self-destructive antics after they all move into his lake front mansion. Frank can be the butler. And Sammi’s not allowed.

 

In Praise of Mellie Grant, Scandal’s Greatest Character

by: L Green

ABC

ABC

It’s time, Gladiators! Scandal is back and it’s time for some answers. What happened to Olivia? What is the VP’s plan? What will Fitz do about it? And most importantly: What’s Mellie up to?

Ah, Mellie Grant! Scandal’s black sheep in a smart suit–that perpetual underdog and eternal thorn in Fitz’s side. Or who I like to think of as Scandal‘s greatest character. If I’m cheering for anyone, it’s the boozey, Ugg-wearing, chip-eating hot mess with a law degree. Olivia politely sips vintage wine; Mellie guzzles scotch in her sweats. And while everyone is running around fixing things and moralizing and jumping into action, Mellie’s on the back porch with a plate of fried chicken. Mellie does what she wants. Finally.

It’s easy to love Olivia. She’s perfect, flawless–she always wins. She rejects a relationship with the President of the United States only to end up in an island paradise with Scott Foley. (Olivia wins again!) She wears crisp white suits that stay spotless while Mellie brushes chip crumbs off her yoga pants. Olivia is perfect, but Mellie is human. And she’s finally ready to win.

There’s nothing more satisfying than an underdog finally getting their day and Mellie’s day is coming. She’s Gretchen Weiners to Olivia’s Regina George. After repeated humiliation from her husband, her family, the press, the staff, Mellie’s deciding what’s what and taking what’s hers. She’ll say whatever the Hell she wants, to whomever she wants; she’ll have an affair with the Vice President and doesn’t even really care that he’s sleeping with someone else. This Mellie–season 4’s I Do What I Want Mellie–shrugs and doesn’t care anymore what you think of her. She’s Scandal’s honey badger and it’s fantastic.

Mellie may be the chronic loser in Scandal–# 2 to Olivia, to Fitz, even to Liz! But being the smartest person in the room, a lawyer, and the first lady is nothing to write off. Being second best to Olivia is still better than most people everywhere, so Mellie can’t be underestimated. What’s particularly refreshing about her sudden about-face is that it’s disregarding the unlikable TV wife conundrum. Mellie isn’t easy to like and she’s done plenty of questionable things, but none of them as immoral or criminal as the people around her. And yet, she’s been relegated to bitchy wife status while her husband repeatedly displays grossly worse behavior and is admired. (She and Skyler White would have a lot to talk about.) Mellie (and Shonda Rhimes) don’t rehabilitate her image, they double down and let Mellie be Mellie.

So… What happened to Olivia? Sure, I care. But while that plays out, keep an eye on what Mellie’s cooking up in the background. Mellie’s had enough and anything is possible. Get it, Mellie! Here’s hoping you tear down everyone and everything around you while you’re at it. Team Mellie! Mellie 2016! Go get ’em, Mellie–this is your year!

Parks and Recreation has TV’S Biggest Heart

by: L Green

“work proximity associates.” Image via Ben Cohen/NBC

Former “work proximity associates,” Leslie and Ron. Image via Ben Cohen/NBC

Parks and Recreation, the little show with the big heart.

No other show out there wears its heart on its sleeve quite like Parks and Recreation. Or has so much heart in the first place. Parenthood, that weekly family-centered cryfest, is a contender, (though I find the Bravermans’ self-congratulatory pleasure with themselves to be more grating than heartwarming). Friday Night Lights had family, community (Texas Forever!) and was nothing but heart. Even Fringe–that little show that could–was all about what we’d do for family (just under the surface of alternate universes, monsters, and something called “soul magnets”). But those are dramas and a certain level of sentimentality is expected. Parks and Recreation is a zany workplace comedy, so when it decides to throw some warm and fuzzies at you, it’s really a swift kick right in the feels.

Parks and Rec’s charm is in telling real life love stories in a magical world. It’s where you can get your dream job but not have to leave your friends, where local government interns get to go to DC for important jobs, where friendships are pure and deep, your friends are always there for you, and spouses are unconditionally supportive.

Pawnee is just an ordinary place where anything is possible. It’s been compared to The Simpsons’s Springfield, with its revolving cast of eccentric characters and small town charm with big world dreams. What other small town in the middle of nowhere televises town council debates, has its own breaking news, a walk of fame, or is the headquarters of a software giant? But Pawnee’s dreams are as big as its heart and they may be small, but they matter.

Relationships are the core of Parks and Rec–the motivation for epic parties, spontaneous gift giving, and all important scrapbooking. The Office often said that coworkers were family, but Michael Scott’s love of the Dunder Mifflin crew, despite his genuineness (or maybe because of it) underlied a deep loneliness. 30 Rock more cynically (or realistically) argued that you love your coworkers despite all their frustrations because you’re forced to by circumstance before eventually going separate ways. No such mockery or cynicism in Parks and Rec. It gives real meaning to the idea that friends are family.

This week we discovered the root of Ron and Leslie’s feud and what “Morningstar” is all about. We learned that Ron Swanson missed his friends so much he was willing to ask for a government job just to be near them.

So waaaaay back in 2014, Leslie left the Parks Dept for her spot with the National Parks Service. She recruited Andy, Gary/Jerry/Larry/Terry, and April. Then Donna left to run her own business, as did Tom. Ron was left and suddenly realized one day that he didn’t know anyone anymore and he missed his friends. (Did anyone else just get a whiff of Morgan Freeman a la The Shawshank Redemption’s “maybe I just missed my friend”? Oh, just me? Okay then.)

Even though government employment “betrays” everything Ron believes in, he went to Leslie to ask for a job. But first he asked her to lunch. And she was so busy she accidentally stood him up! Realizing it was just time for something new, Ron left to start his own construction company–which eventually built Morningstar, an apartment complex next to Leslie’s Pawnee Commons in the old Lot 48. Leslie sees it as a betrayal (especially because Anne’s–“the nurse’s”–old house had to be torn down), not realizing their fractured relationship started with her. Her mind may be “a steal trap of friendship nuggets,” but she let Ron down with this one.

So far this season, it was fun to see these two characters fight it out because it’s so unexpected. Ron and Leslie are by far the most stubborn characters, so it’s a delight to see them butt heads and dig their heels in. Of course the only way to get them to resolve their differences would be to steal their phones and key cards and lock them in an office together for 12 hours to fight it out. Of course. They taunted, goaded, and pressed each other’s buttons, like only very good friends or siblings know how to do. Ron’s slap in the face that Leslie isn’t “really a very good scrapbooker” was just as good as her taunt that “I think wood is stupid and so does everybody else.”

In the end, they make up, because of course they do. But not before getting to the root of what went down between them. Having Ron confess that his friends are important to him was just as affecting as Leslie accepting that she had failed him as a friend. Sure, Parenthood makes us cry week after week with cancer and babies and dying parents, but have they ever made us cry by rearranging a government office to the sound of Willie Nelson’s “Buddy”? They have not.

And so, in the end, in honor of their friendship, Ron presents Leslie with a picture of the two of them (and Lil’ Sebastian!). It’s in a handmade frame carved from the wooden door of Anne’s old house. All the feels, you guys. All the feels.

Other notable things:

– Leslie’s unforgettable version of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” really needs to be watched to be fully enjoyed, but the made-up lyrics (she doesn’t know the real ones) on their own are still a joy of silly randomness:

“Harry Truman was a guy, America, Red China, All the countries, Other people, Everyone is fun.

Joe Montegna, Eman Kellam, I have to buy a new toaster, This is awesome, You’re so stupid, Jumping up and down.

Freddy Kruger, Pots and pans, Oprah has a turtle farm, Peter Piper, Peepee, Poopy, Daddy ate a squirrel.”

Just try not to have “Oprah has a turtle farm” get stuck in your head.

– Ben tries to bribe Leslie into signing his papers with Ron with: “I’ll let you rename the twins Ruth, Bader, and Ginsberg.”

You mean they’re not already named that????

Downton Abbey: Team Nobody

by: L Green

downton season 5

Downton Abbey is back for season 5, y’all! And it’s even more Downtony than you remember. Time is a flat circle indeed and especially for the Crawley family. Nothing ever happens except for the usual ruminations on modernity and espousing what will happen to Downton in these a’changing times. Other questions abound like Who will Mary marry this time??? (Where’s the spinoff called Everyone Wants to Marry Mary?)  Will Daisy ever get any respect? Will Thomas scheme some more??

Forget that about 10 years have passed since season 1 and time in fact, has progressed. I’m waiting for the series finale twist, a la The Others, that they’ve all actually been ghosts this whole time. Earlier I had argued that at least Edith and possibly Tom are the only interesting characters left on Downton. They each had a foot in the traditional world but were trying to carve a place for themselves in the new one. But I was wrong they’re boring too.

Last season ended with Edith plotting to bring her illegitimate daughter to Downton, leaving her in the care of a tenant farmer that owed them a favor. That’s some steep favor. I had assumed that Edith would occasionally see her in the village and call it a day, knowing that her daughter was at least cared for and around nearby. But no, Edith, being Edith, shows up routinely at the tenant farmer’s house (whatever his name is) and gloms onto the kid and looks all sorts of crazy to the rest of the family that she basically ignores. Mrs. Tenant farmer, who’s probably already annoyed that she has to raise some mysterious baby her husband brought home one day, raises a suspicious eyebrow at Edith and wants her away from her husband, stat. Mr. Tenant Farmer tells Edith this after the Great Downton House Fire (more on that later), so of course it’s only a matter of time before everyone in the world knows who little Marigold’s real mother is. It would have been better if Edith had moved on altogether (or tried too, at least), or just said one night at the dinner table “Yo, you guys, I had a baby with Michael Gregson–remember my boss who randomly went to Germany to get a divorce, but then died and no one knows why? Well, anyway, we had a baby and I’m taking her to London. Peace out.” How great would that have been?? I know, I know, times were different them. But it’s TV and this is a soap opera so Downton Abbey can do whatever Downton Abbey wants. Too bad what it wants is to do not much of anything. Thus we have Edith still crying over her dead boyfriend, passionately flinging his long lost book across the room one night in a fit of tears, which triggers the beginning the of the Great Downton Abbey House Fire. Obvi. But don’t worry, they put the fire out and there’s no real damage. Because of course there isn’t.

And Tom–what’s happening with good old Tom? Meh. Nothing much. He’s still thinking about going to America, but he’s also pretty comfortable here at Downton. For a guy who didn’t care much what Lord Grantham thought of him, he’s pretty quick to apologize for his school teacher lady friend’s rude opinions at dinner. Also, he feels the need to clarify that they’re “not lovers.” Ew, Tom. Talk about an awkward conversation with your father-in-law.

And sadly things aren’t any different for the downstairs crew. Daisy still wants to make something of herself and Mrs. Patmore codependently wants her to stay right where she is. Carson philosophizes about the changing times, but does all he can to stay firmly planted right where he is. And good lord, they’re all still talking about Mr. Green! If you’ve forgotten, that’s Lord Gillingham’s rapist valet who attacked Anna last season and was pushed into traffic by Bates, who was quick to usurp Anna’s tragedy as his own. Forget what the aftermath of that might be for Anna, let’s all talk about who’s going to dress Lord Gillingham for dinner? Who’s going to dress Lord Gillingham for dinner????

And Thomas, oh, Thomas. You deserve better than this perpetual scheming. What is he even scheming for anyway? Because he’s a natural born villain? Misunderstood softee? Who even knows anymore, because Thomas’s scheming mostly involves inappropriately meddling in lady’s affairs and it’s just a little tedious. You twirl that mustache, Thomas. You do you.

Other notable happenings:

  • Lord Gillingham proposed that he and Mary hookup in London sometime, you know, since she’s on the fence about marrying him and all. Taking him out for a test drive, Mary? That’s so seaon 1.
  • The Dowager Countess is trying to break up Isobel and Lord Merton. Something about class or station or Zzzzzzz…

See you next week when the Downton Abbey peeps have some tea!

 

TV’s Best Friends

by: Lynda Green

Hello, old friends

Hello, old friends

Big new, TV fans–Friends has finally come to Netflix! Before you begin the final phase of your marathon binge watch, let’s take a moment to acknowledge some of TV’s current best friends. They may not come in a flashy 6-friend set, but they’re still some of the best friends TV has to offer:

Roger Sterling (Mad Men)

JKJK

“Have another. It’s 9:30, for God’s sake.”

Roger is down for anything. Anything. You want to skip work and slurp down a couple dozen oysters? Count Roger in. You want to experiment with new and exciting illegal substances while having an orgy in an upstate commune/co-op/cult thing? Roger’s bags are packed. Roger is the ultimate buddy, pal, wingman. Even if you’re sort of fired from the company you cofounded, Roger won’t hold it against you. Roger is one in a million.

Abbie Mills (Sleepy Hollow)

fff

Crane gets all the attention with his inability to navigate the modern world, his flashy vocabulary, puffy shirt, and Starbucks confusion. Everybody loves Crane. But who’s the friend by his side listening to him go on and on about his relationship problems? Oh, I don’t trust my witch wife that I broke out of purgatory… Oh, my ex-best friend is the horseman of the apocalypse… Oh, my secret infant son is evil John Noble. That friend is Abbie Mills. She has the patience of a saint. She is the best friend in the world.

Bear (Person of Interest)

"bark"

*bark*

Sometimes that dog gets a sad faraway look in his eyes and you know he’s thinking Who are these people? Why am I here? But he’s a troopr, super loyal, and at the end of the day, really just one of the gang. Team Bear!

Daryl Dixon (The Walking Dead)

fff

Dayrl hanging with his best baby friend.

If you are in trouble in the zombie apocalypse—are missing, trapped, lost, kidnapped, forgotten, hidden, held captive, surrounded by zombies, or stuck in a tree—Daryl will quietly and calmly grab his crossbow and get s**t done. Daryl has your back.

Diane Lockhart (The Good Wife)

diane

Professionally, Diane will destroy you if she has to. She’ll do it without batting an eye or losing sleep. But as a friend, she’ll cry, laugh, drink with you and celebrate with you. Just remember that when she destroys you, it’s not personal. Diane’s not like that.

Nora Durst (The Leftovers)

ff

Chief Garvey: I think I might be going crazy.          Nora: “Well, my friend. You’ve come to the right place.

Except for her relationship with the Chief, Nora is a bit of a loner. But she’s great friend material. She’s pretty laid back, doesn’t bother you about her problems—you know, that whole my family got raptured thing, seems low maintenance, and won’t judge you for your own weird issues

Emma  (Bates Motel)

Run, Emma, run.

Run, Emma, run.

Emma is such a good friend, she actually could do better than the friends she has—which is really just Norman and his crazy family (that bar is set pretty low). But she’s sweet and honest and a great secret keeper and will always put your needs ahead of hers. She will literally jump off a cliff for you.

Leslie Knope  (Parks and Recreation)

gg

“We have to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, and work. Or waffles, friends, and work. But work has to come third.”

The TV friend of your dreams! Leslie is the clear winner in an already competitive category. She will shower you with compliments, call you a beautiful tropical fish, and express her love for you in complicated legalese. Then she’ll throw you a party for every holiday of the year and make you a 6-part documentary-style slideshow in honor of your rare and beautiful friendship.

Honorable Mention: Ron Swanson. He’ll build you an office, boat, or house when he thinks you’re not paying attention. Just cuz.

Huck (Scandal)

"I like my work." ... He really does.

“I like my work.”
… He really does.

Huck will do anything for you. Really. He’ll do anything. Especially if it involves power tools or computers, but mostly power tools. He really knows how to go above and beyond for those he loves.

Hodor (Game of Thrones)
Hodor

“Hodor”

Tonight… We are young, So let’s set the world on fire, We can burn brighter than the sun… Carry me home tonight

Mickey (The Comeback)

ff

Oh, Mickey.

Mickey is loyal and his patience is never-ending. It’s like if you could train your Golden Retriever to love you for eternity and do your hair.

Saul Berenson (Homeland)

Saul's got this.

Saul’s got this.

Saul will let himself get captured not once but twice by terrorists as a direct result of caring too much about his friends. Just remember that the next time you don’t feel like going to your friend’s annoying dinner party where you know you’ll get stuck sitting next to their weirdo cousin who talks about their peanut allergy all night. Think to yourself, What Would Saul Do?

2014’s TV Resolutions: How’d We Do?

by: Lynda Green

new years hat

Another year over.

Is it me, or did this year just fly by? This time last year, I promised that by now we’d all be thinner, richer, and have better TV habits. So how’d we do?! Personally, I set 5 TV resolutions for 2014 and almost got them all. Here’s the 2014 resolution round-up with a few 2015 goals thrown in the mix:

Come to terms with Game of Thrones. This was a big one. And I did it you guys! Mostly out of guilt and constant peer pressure. I’m happy to report that I am back on the Game of Thrones Wagon. It’s still a horrifically violent nightmare, but I’m learning to roll with it.

Stop Apologizing about Girls. Done and done. I don’t like Girls. I don’t like it at all. Is it a comedy? What is happening? Honestly, I’m not interested. So done. (Also, while we’re at it, I don’t really like Parenthood. …don’t yell at me)

Watch the Voice or something. Sadly, I don’t watch any of these. I’ve come to terms with my ambivalence regarding reality TV competitions. Unless Tim Gunn is in it, I’m not super interested.

Rejoin the Party. i.e., starting watching Sons of Anarchy or Justified again. Yay, I jumped right back into Justified–hooray! But I had no idea what was going on anymore. Fail.

Be less bossy. For some reason I had the crazy idea that I’d stop telling everyone what to watch. Crazy talk. Didn’t happen.

So what’s up for 2015? Here are some worthy 2015 resolutions:

Finally watch Orphan Black. What am I waiting for?? I don’t know.

Rewatch The Wire. This is a big project, but everyone needs to do it once. This is the time.

Make a decision about American Horror Story. I’m hot and cold on this one. Mostly cold. It’s time to call it.

See you in 2015!