Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Didn’t We Have a Time? We Did. We Had a Time.

Okay, so I’m sure you’ve noticed that I usually write these little
rants or whatever we’re calling them and I don’t proofread or edit,
but this subject is just too important for me to leave anything out.
Often when I write these emails, I hit send and I realize that I
forgot to say a bunch of stuff that I really wanted to say, but it’s
too late, so I’ve been working on this one for a while now to try and
curb any potential mistakes.  This, as stupid as this sounds, may be
the most important rant I write, simply for the reason that I credit
this subject, to a large extent, with making me who I am today.  The
subject is a television show.  A television show that lasted only 19
episodes.  It is my favorite television show of all time.  It is the
show that made me love television.  It made me love television so much
that I decided I wanted to write it.  It made me realize the power of
television, of great television.  This show really did change my life.
It is called My So-Called Life.  And I’m aware that I wrote a rant
about the ’90s and didn’t include My So-Called Life, but it just
seemed like the show warranted its own piece of writing.  So here it
is.

Yes, it’s Claire Danes’ first real acting gig.  Yes, it was written by
the same woman who wrote the book for the Wicked Musical.  But to me,
My So-Called Life was so much more than that.  My So-Called Life was
my life on film.  It was the first time I really seriously saw how
right a piece of film could get it.  And really, as I look at it now,
it’s how I first sort of saw how my own writing would be because my
philosophy on writing, for T.V. especially, is that it should be
realistic.  I want what I write to feel real.  If I could write
something that means as much to someone as My So-Called Life means to
me, I’d be a success.

I guess I should start with My So-Called Life’s effect on my life.
Not my life as a writer, but my life as a young person.  The show
aired on ABC in 1994-1995.  I was in the sixth grade.  I, as most of
America, did not watch it then.  I watched it on MTV between
1995-1998.  That’s sort of indicative of my life back then, the fact
that I watched MTV pretty much non-stop. The fact that watching MTV
didn’t rob me of my will to live, as it does now.  But I digress.  I
just remember, in the time before TiVo, waiting the long arduous hours
until 7 pm everyday (when you get home from school at 3 pm, it seems
like an eternity).  By the time 7 rolled around I was bursting to
watch My So-Called Life.  I would record all the episodes onto a video
tape (yes video tape)  so I could watch them over and over and over
again.  In fact, I remember the first episode I ever saw was the
Halloween episode, where Angela dresses up like a girl from the ’50s,
and not like some caricature with a poodle skirt, she dresses like a
real girl from the ’50s.  She meets a ghost named Nicky Driscoll.  I
named the family in the script I’m writing Driscoll after Nicky
Driscoll.  I just remember, in that first viewing, thinking, what is
this?  It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.  It was like my
life on the screen.  And from that moment I was hooked.

Claire Danes’ Angela Chase is, in my opinion, the best character that
has ever been on television.  I am always amazed that Claire Danes as
a 13 and 14 year old could be so good.  I mean, she hadn’t experienced
much of what her character was experiencing and yet her performance is
so nuanced.  The slight unease when she is with her mother out in
public…what teenager hasn’t felt that?  The fact that her friends
are the only thing that matter.  I always loved the first line of the
series, ‘So I started hanging out with Rayanne Graff.  Just for fun.
Just cause it seemed like if I didn’t, I would die or something.’  I
mean, god, I think the feeling that if you don’t do something you will
die pretty much sums up my rationale for every single thing I did for
approximately a 10 year period.  Maybe I even still am like this.
There’s this certain part of me that thinks I’ll always be Angela
Chase.  That I’ll constantly be partially this total geek who can’t
function normally and partially this cool person that other people
mysteriously want to be around.  Since I seem to be in a truthful
mood, I’ll come out and say it: I’ve never really understood why I
actually have the friends that I do.  I never got why people thought I
was a cool person.  I still don’t get it, and it always amazes me when
people think I’m interesting.  And that’s the part of me that will
always be Angela Chase.  That overly self-analytical, introspective,
person who lives mostly in her head and is thus relatively clueless
about her own life.  What a fucking genius character to write!

Then there was Rayanne Graff.  I always loved Rayanne and always kind
of wanted to be her (much like Angela seems to sometimes).  She was so
uninhibited, which may have been caused by the fact that she was
always drinking, but still.  I, like Angela, always admired kids like
that.  It was before I realized that those were the kids that often
ended up as raging alcoholics and drug addicts.  Back then they seemed
so cool.  They didn’t have to care about school, it seemed like they
didn’t have parents, and that seemed so great.  I obviously realize
now that it’s not so great, but back then it seemed like the life I
wanted to be living.  No parents asking me about homework or how
school was.  No one saying I couldn’t go out because it was too late.
I so wanted that.  The thing about Rayanne was that A.J. Langer’s
performance of her was so free, and at the same time so full of pain.
I never really noticed all the pain when I was younger, but watching
the show now, you can see how much Rayanne wants to be Angela.
Rayanne’s pain is the pain that you didn’t see in those kids in High
School.  The pain of having absent parents, and not having someone
care if you finished homework or ate a well-balanced meal.  Rayanne
was a total mess, but she cared deeply about her friends so you could
sort of forgive it.  And she was so charismatic that you looked past
her bad behavior and saw a great person.

Then there was Ricky, who rounded out the core three group of friends.
It’s easy to forget now, but Ricky Vasquez was one of the first gay
characters on T.V.  And the way they handled it was super classy.
First off, he was the moral center of the show.  He anchored the other
kids in a sort of moralistic reality, and that was a pretty big step
for a gay kid to be the moral center of the show (seeing as being gay
is considered to be immoral in much of this country, especially 12
years ago).  I mean, this show was before Will and Grace, it was
before Queer Eye, before Ugly Betty, before Ellen, before T.R. Night,
it was before all the gay fashion consultants strolled the red carpets
(I mean, they were still gay, they just weren’t as obvious).  They
rarely talked about Ricky’s actual sexuality.  Angela mentions that
Ricky is Bi in the pilot and then it doesn’t come up again until like
half way through the series.  But Ricky would hang out in the girls
bathroom, fixing his eyeliner, chatting with the girls, and no one
really took any notice.  That doesn’t mean that they completely
ignored it.  I mean, you saw him get pushed around in the halls, you
saw him get beat up once.  It was a non-sugar-coated portrayal of what
it was like to be a gay teen in the ’90s in someplace other than San
Francisco, New York or L.A.  Ricky may have been one of the first gay
series regulars on a t.v. show, but to me, Ricky was what I wanted.  I
always wanted that thing that Angela, Ricky and Rayanne had.  Where
they had such an easiness about them, they were friends and they cared
about her and they trusted each other, and there was none of that
sexual tension between the boy and girls, because the boy didn’t want
them.  Angela and Ricky are by far a better and more realistic Fag Hag
couple than Will and Grace.  And that’s when I realized my true
calling.  I always wanted a Ricky.  And the first boy that ever came
out to me was Ricky Mendez.  Kind of poetic, no?

Of course you can’t possibly talk about My So-Called Life without
mentioning Jordan Catalano.  The moment he appeared on screen all the
girls in my generation took one giant step towards becoming women.  I
realized lately that I’m actually still most attracted to guys that
look like Jordan Catalano.  With the slightly long hair and that
choker he always wore.  Jordan Catalano was that guy that you wanted
that was so mysterious you just couldn’t stand it.  It’s like, you
just found out anything you could about that person and you came up
with all these little facts that amounted to pretty much nothing, but
to you they were everything.  Angela said it best, ‘I just like how
he’s always leaning. Against stuff. He leans great.’  I always thought
that line summed up that feeling perfectly.  It’s like, you take this
stupid insignificant thing and focus all your attention on it because
if you didn’t you wouldn’t be able to function.  I didn’t have my true
Jordan Catalano until I was 19.  He was 26, and his name was Brendan
Brown, and I knew all this random stuff about him.  Like that he loved
‘Queens of the Stone Age’ and he drank Miller High Life…I was too
young to see that as a sign.  And I, much like Angela Chase,
embarrassed myself over and over in front of him before I finally
realized that he just wasn’t worth it.  He was my Jordan Catalano.
And I loved him for that reason alone.  But even still if you talk to
a twentysomething woman about Jordan Catalano, we all get that far
away look, like, ‘oh yeah, he was amazing.’It’s that little girl
obsession coming back, and we’ll always have it. Like Angela says, ‘If
Jordan Catalano is nearby, my whole body knows it. Like one of those
dogs that point. I’ll keep talking and stuff, but my mind won’t even
know what I’m saying. I keep wondering if there’s a term for this.’

When I watch My So-Called Life now (which I do often), I actually
relate the most to Sharon Cherski, Angela’s former best friend, turned
kind of enemy, turned close friend again.  I went through like three
different groups of friends in High School (for various reasons) and
as I watched Sharon and Angela something about them always stuck with
me.  Again I defer to Angela Chase, ‘There’s the people who you’ve
known forever who know you in this way that other people can’t because
they’ve seen you change. They’ve let you change.’  That’s always the
way I felt about my oldest friends.  Sure I went through a few groups
of auxiliary friends when I was a teenager, but there were a core
group that I’m still friends with today.  They’re the ones that let me
change.  And the thing that was always so great about Sharon Cherski
is that you could tell she was so hurt by the fact that Angela
basically ditched her for Rayanne, but she held it all in.  When I was
13 and 14 watching the show I always related to Angela, and maybe I
was more like Angela back then, but now I’m actually more Sharon than
anyone else.  Sharon was the first to sort of sacrifice herself for
anything.  She was always doing a million things like yearbook and the
school play, but she rarely did anything for herself.  I loved the
scene when her boyfriend hadn’t asked her to the dance yet, and she
says that she has too much to worry about without having to worry
about whether or not her boyfriend is going to ask her to the dance.
It just seems like such an organic and natural problem to have, at
least it seems that way to me.  Just the notion that I’ve got too much
shit to deal with for you, who is supposed to be there for me, to load
more of it on.  The other thing that is totally awesome about Sharon
is that she is the good girl on the surface and underneath she’s got a
little bad girl in her.  Those are the most interesting people, the
ones who try to hide their bad girl tendencies in good girl clothes.

‘I became yearbook photographer because I liked the idea that I could
sort of watch life without having to be part of it. But when you’re
yearbook photographer, you’re, like, never in the picture.’  Brian
Krakow, the nerdy neighbor that was in love with Angela Chase, was the
beating heart of the show.  He was the overachiever kid who always
knew the answer in class but never in life.  Brian was just so
earnest, but at the same time he could be so judgmental.  I think that
was sort of the brilliance of the show, not any character was just one
thing, no one was purely good or purely evil, they were all shades of
grey.  And Brian was one of those kids that always tried to do the
right thing, the right thing that turned out to be the wrong thing,
much to his dismay.  What made Brian so endearing, but at the same
time so annoying, was his unending love for Angela.  She was so
infatuated with Jordan Catalano and barely realized that Brian was
infatuated with her.  Or maybe she did realize it and just didn’t
acknowledge it.  In any case, Brian’s unending devotion to Angela
drove the big thumping heart in the middle of the show.  The
realization, in the final episode of the series, that Brian wrote this
great love letter to Angela, a love letter that Jordan gave to Angela
pretending that he wrote it, makes me mourn for the lost story that we
will never see because ABC didn’t know how to market a show like this
to the public.

It seems like all ‘teen’ shows have one set of parents.  Teen shows
usually center around one family unit and everyone else doesn’t really
have a normal functioning family.  I guess no one really has a normal
functioning family, but if we are looking statistically at television
teen drama and the parental figures, it seems like the main teen
character has parents and the rest of the cast really doesn’t.  Like
90210 had Jim and Cindy Walsh, but all of the other kids parents were
conspicuously absent.  Dawson’s Creek had Mitch and Gail Leery, but
none of the other kids had parents that were around.  My So-Called
Life actually fits into this mold.  Angela has Graham and Patty Chase,
but Ricky, Rayanne and Jordan don’t have parental figures around.
Brian and Sharon allude to their parents and we see Camile Chirski a
few times, but none are series regulars.  Now from a business
standpoint I get this.  There aren’t that many interesting story lines
that involve other peoples parents, seeing as this story revolves
around the Chases, I just think it’s a funny sort of trend.

I also think it’s a good way to transition into talking about Graham,
Patty and Danielle (a.k.a. the Chase family).  Graham and Patty have
to be the most realistic portrayal of parents of teenagers ever, in
the history of television.  They play their relationship as adults
spectacularly, but the true success lies in how they play their
relationship with their children, especially Angela.  I mean, the way
Bess Armstrong plays Patty’s masked hurt at the fact that her teenage
daughter is rejecting her, in the way that teenagers do, is
impeccable.  I’ll admit that I always sided with Angela in that war.
I got that she just wanted to be free of her parents, but was too
young to see that she wasn’t fully ready to be free of them.  Also the
true mother/daughter bond/divide was beautifully portrayed.  Like when
Angela states that, ‘When I was twelve, my mother gave me my sex talk.
I’m not sure either of us has fully recovered.’  I haven’t fully
recovered from mine either Angela.

Graham was the definite foil to Patty.  Patty could be uptight and
domineering, while Graham tried to be the cool dad.  And yes, they
fought about this.  The thing I loved about Graham and Angela’s
relationship was how different it was than Patty and Angela’s
relationship, even in the teenage rebellion/rejection.  When Angela
rejects Graham she says, ‘When you’re not sure you trust a person
anymore — say, a person you really trusted; say your father — you
start wishing they’d do something, like, really wrong, just so you
could be right about them.’  And when she rejects Patty she is a
little more drastic, ‘Lately I can’t even look at my mother without
wanting to stab her… repeatedly.’  I just love that she
rebels/rejects both of her parents in such completely and totally
separate ways.  And I mean, who didn’t feel that way at fifteen?  Like
you just wanted nothing to do with either of your parents, but at the
same time you still needed them desperately.  Maybe that is the whole
basis for teen angst.

In any case, Graham and Patty, though they both can be judgmental and
uptight and catty are great parents.  They are involved and caring,
and the actors give wonderful performances where they, like the kids,
show, even through the masks they wear, the pain that they really
feel.  There’s a scene in the episode where Angela meets Rayanne’s mom
(who is really more of a kid than any of the kids), where Patty sees
Angela hug Rayanne’s mom goodbye and you can see, just under the
surface, that it really deeply hurts her that Angela would be so quick
to let this woman in, when she has been pushing her own mother away.
It’s so subtle and so beautiful that it would, were it real life, slip
right by.  That’s what makes the show believable, the fact that most
of what we see would, were it real life, slip right by.

Of course, the youngest Chase, Danielle is the perfect little sister.
She’s annoying, while at the same time she worships her sister and
wants to hang out with her sister and all of her sisters friends.  She
walks that fine line between being a child and being a teenager.  And
she’s just absolutely perfect.  I think my favorite Danielle moment is
when she dresses up like Angela at Halloween.  She does Angela so
well.  But I also love this moment she has with Sharon Chirski when
they both realize that they’d rather be doing what the other is doing.
Sharon would so much rather be out trick or treating, while Danielle
thinks it’s so cool that Sharon gets to go to a party with her
boyfriend.  That’s so poetic isn’t it?  We always look back at the
past as a better time, but when we’re young we can’t wait to be older.
And this show somehow captures that with nothing more than a longing
look from two different people.

So needless to say, the acting,  in a word, phenomenal.  And of course
Claire Danes and Jared Leto went on to be much acclaimed actors in
their own right.  But really, if we’ve learned anything from these
times of strike, strife, and woe in Hollywood it’s that you can’t have
a great performance without a great script.  I think what really made
the script so wonderful was that a) they really talked like teenagers,
I loved Dawson’s Creek, but really, who talked like that? b) they
thought like teenagers, and c) there were realistic plot lines.  I
mean, I don’t feel like I’m reaching for the stars to ask for a show
where the plot somehow reflects something that may happen to real
people.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the Grey’s Anatomy, but
really, what plotlines on that show resemble anyones real life (with
the exception of Meredith’s daddy issues)?  The writers of My
So-Called Life just had this way of writing that summed up everything
a teenager feels in one sentence.

As I have stated previously, I started watching this show in the
beginning of my teenage years.  So of course that’s when I was at my
most self-conscious, and my most awkward.  I don’t quite remember when
this happened, but I also was one of those kids who always knew there
was more out there.  I wanted more than my small town had to offer.  I
always knew that…it may have been the reason I was so miserable in
high school.  But there was one quote from My So-Called Life that may
sum up everyone’s experience in high school, be it good or bad: “It
just seems like, you agree to have a certain personality or something.
For no reason. Just to make things easier for everyone. But when you
think about it, I mean, how do you know it’s even you? And, I mean,
this whole thing with yearbook – it’s like, everybody’s in this big
hurry to make this book, to supposedly remember what happened. Because
if you made a book of what really happened, it’d be a really upsetting
book.”  I guess what amazes me so much is that I can’t think of any
show that has ever got it as right as My So-Called Life gets it, and
I’m not just talking about adolescence.  I can’t think of a single
show (except maybe thirtysomething and who wrote that?  the same
people that wrote My So-Called Life) that really just has its finger
on exactly what a certain group/demographic of people are thinking and
feeling.

I have to say, on a personal level as well, My So-Called Life did that
thing that great writing, be it literature, television, newspaper or
otherwise, it made you feel.  It made you feel like you weren’t
totally crazy for the fact that, “I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The, like, fact that — that people — had sex. That they just had it,
like sex was this thing people — had, like a rash. Or a — a
rottweiler. Everything started to seem like, pornographic or
something. Like, Mrs. Krysanowski has sex. So does Mr. Katimsky. They
both have sex. They could — have sex together. Like right now. I am,
like, the sickest person.”  I mean come on.  I remember when that
realization first dawned on me…and it was exactly like that…that
realization that people have sex.  And sex became this ultimately real
thing that I could one day be partaking in, not just something I saw
in a movie or on t.v. where people make out and then it cuts to them
lying in bed, out of breath.  The show really laid it all out there.
I just can’t say enough about how good the writing is.

So I’ll talk about the music instead.  A few weeks back I wrote about
the ’90s and how good it was to be a ’90s kid.  I wrote specifically
about music.  Well, My So-Called Life had the best music.  It had
music that was so indicative of the times.  More so than Dawson’s
Creek, more so than The O.C., perhaps even more so than 90210, which,
I’ll admit, had some awesome Color Me Badd – tastic music.  There are
three scenes in particular that really stand out to me.  One was when
Angela is once again sad over something Jordan Catalano related
(specifically, it’s when the rumor that she slept with Jordan gets
spread around), and as her mom walks in to give her a rather awkward
and painful safe sex talk (what other kind of safe sex talk is
there?), she’s blasting the Cranberries’ ‘Dream.’  C’mon, kids of the
90’s, who didn’t blast this song in their room at least once?  I loved
that album, I loved the Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan was the most
awesome person ever.  I always thought that it was the perfect, ‘I’m
depressed over a boy’ song.

The second scene is one of my favorites.  The song actually plays over
two different scenes, one depressing, one hopeful.  It’s Buffalo Tom’s
Soda Jerk.  The first time the song plays is when Jordan, after they
start dating, totally disses Angela in public.  But then it plays
again in that magical scene in the hallway when Jordan goes up to
Angela (she’s supposed to be in a geometry review) and he holds her
hand, and she forgets all about the geometry review (please, I forgot
about it the instant Jared Leto came on screen).

The Third song was my favorite song for much of the early ’90s (it was
in direct competition with ‘Come As You Are’ by Nirvana), a little
song titled ‘Blister in the Sun’ by The Violent Femmes.  When Angela
thinks (for about 5 minutes) that she’s gotten over Jordan Catalano,
she dances around to it in the morning before school.  Love it.  Love
it.  Love it.  God that was a good show.

Alright, so the music rocked, the acting rocked, the writing rocked,
and the cinematography rocked.  Cinematography is usually not too high
on the list of important elements in a t.v. show.  The DP (Director of
Photography or, as you know them, cinematographer) is in charge of
maintaining the look of the show, and, though I’m sure you all have
better things to do than notice this, most show usually have pretty
simple shots.  First you have the master (that’s the shot where
everyone is in it, it’s usually from far away) then you move in close
and cut between the people in the scene.  If there are two people in
the scene you start with a two shot (the one where you can see both
people) and move in for coverage (in other words get up close and cut
between the two people talking).  Most t.v. shows, especially now,
don’t do oners (that is a one shot, or a longer shot where there is no
cutting).  My So-Called Life employs this over and over and over
again, and that makes the show, a) technically amazing, and b)
visually different, and awesome.  The best shot of the series,
however, occurs in the pilot.    At the end of the pilot when Angela
and Brian meet in the middle of a street.  You might recognize the
shot from a little movie called Jerry Maguire.  Cameron Crowe admits
that he stole the shot from My So-Called Life.  You know the shot when
Renee Zellweger (before we knew who she was) runs into the street to
meet Tom Cruise (pre-crazytown) and there’s this great master shot
with the fabulous backlighting.  Yeah, that’s right folks, my man Cam
stole that from My So-Called Life.  Welcome to Hollywood…that’s how
we do shit here.

And My So-Called Life was a happy accident that slipped through the
cracks for 19 glorious episodes, and much like James Dean or Marilyn
Monroe, it didn’t last long enough to fade or lose any of its
innocence and attractiveness.  And that is both its blessing and its
curse.  And I love it.

Peace, Love, and “You know how sometimes the last sentence you said,
like, echoes in your brain? And it just keeps sounding stupider? And
you have to say something else just to make it stop?”  That’s my whole
life.  Why do you think I keep writing?

Julia

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December 3, 2007 Posted by | Cameron Crowe, Gay/Lesbian, Grey's Anatomy, High School, Hollywood, Music, My So-Called Life, Sex, Television | 2 Comments

Must See T.V.

Oh it gives me a little bit of heartache to quote the slogan from the
good old days of NBC. I have to say, I credit ‘Must See T.V.’ with my
passion for television. I remember a time when I watched every show
on NBC’s prime time lineup. Now though, the network that does it for
me is ABC. Everything is cyclical in the Entertainment Industry so
we’ll see who comes out on top next, but right now ABC is knocking
them out of the park. But I know that you all have lives and don’t
watch all the new shows that air. That’s why you know me. And I’m
here to give you the scoop on all the new shows. So here it goes,
these are my reviews for the new season.

Let’s start with the non-ABC shows and we’ll move into ABC towards the
end. First there’s ‘Back To You,’ the new sit com with Kelsey
Grammar and Patricia Heaton. Now, it’s not news that these two are
fantastic. And this show is very good. My personal opinion is that
there hasn’t been a truly great sit com since Friends started sucking
in about season 6. I don’t know if the comedies themselves aren’t
that good, or if I’ve just tired of hearing a laugh track (I’m pretty
sure it’s the former as I’ve been watching and cracking up at friends
dvds all week), but I’m not a big fan of the live audience sit coms.
In fact, most shows that are deemed ‘comedy’ on T.V. right now, I’m
not all that fond of. I haven’t gotten into The Office, I don’t watch
30 Rock, I’m not a religious Ugly Betty fan, I’ve never made it
through Two and a Half Men. It’s not that I don’t think that these
are good shows. They all are, I know that, but I just enjoy the humor
that comes from shows like Grey’s Anatomy. I mean humor is so much
sweeter in the face of drama. So ‘Back to You’ is good, but I’m not
going to watch it. Fox needs some edgy stuff…they need a new 90210.

CBS is too depressing to talk about. Basically they’ve got CSI
(a.k.a. the show about death that wouldn’t die), Survivor, and that’s
it.

But speaking of 90210 (the show that made me love T.V.), I’ve found a
new teen drama to fulfill my teen drama addiction. It’s on the CW.
It’s called Gossip Girl. Now, I’ll give you the fact that I’m a total
sucker for a good teen drama, and I’ve been addicted to most of them.
Starting with 90210 when I was in the third grade, followed by
Dawson’s Creek, The O.C., and Veronica Mars (but I don’t necessarily
count that as teen drama). Gossip Girl combines a sort of Cruel
Intentions kind of feel with an O.C. kind of proclivity for fist
fighting and rich people drama. And how do I love the rich teenagers
have drama. Of course, Gossip Girl is about rich New Yorkers as
opposed to rich Southern California teenagers, but that makes for a
nice change of scenery. (plus, we’re running out of rich
neighborhoods to set these things in). Anyway, Gossip Girl is my new
addiction…and as a plus Kristen Bell (from Veronica Mars) does the
voice over which makes me miss Veronica Mars a little less.

NBC is in a bit better boat then CBS in that it’s got some good
returning shows: the office, my name is earl, 30 Rock and Heroes. I
didn’t watch Chuck, one of the new ones, but I’ve heard that it’s
okay, but not one to watch every week. And they have the Bionic
Woman, which I’m boycotting on principle. Basically, it looks shitty
and they hired Isaiah Washington (who was fired from Grey’s Anatomy
for calling his co-star a Faggot). I won’t ever watch anything with
Isaiah Washington again because of that and I kind of want to hug
Stephen McPherson (the president of ABC) for firing him. It’s taken
us a while, but it looks like Hollywood is finally publicly supporting
the gay rights.

Now for ABC. There’s a lot to talk about on this network so let’s go
by day, starting with Monday Nights. So I’m not a big reality fan but
mondays have Dancing with the Stars and the Bachelor…I don’t watch
that so don’t ask me. But my oh my, how did I love the pilot of
Samantha Who? It’s restoring my faith in comedy. Sure this isn’t a
four camera, live audience comedy, but it’s hilarious and I love it.
I mean, it’s not shocking that Christina Applegate is in a good show,
but the supporting cast needs credit because they’re hilarious too.

Tuesday nights I’m not too fond of. Cavemen, the show based on the
geico Caveman commericals, doesn’t really strike my fancy, though I’ve
heard that it’s interesting and touches on interesting race issues.
However, ABC has made it less risque after the pilot got criticism,
saying it was too edgy. They’ve taken the good out of it though.
Tuesdays is also home to Carpoolers, the Jerry O’Connell show. I want
to support it because Jerry O’Connell is a really nice guy, but it
doesn’t interest me.

Now Wednesdays are when it really starts getting good. Wednesdays at
8 ABC’s got Pushing Daisies. I’m not completely sold on this show,
but I’ve watched every episode. I’m not quite sure what that means.
Here’s the deal. I’m not addicted, it’s not a must see yet, but it’s
new, it’s different, it’s totally refreshing. Plus, Kristin Chenoweth
is in it and I love her. And she sang in last weeks episode. I would
watch it every week if that was a guarantee. All in all, I give this
a thumbs up, but the jury’s still out on the second thumbs up.

At 9 pm we’ve got Private Practice. I feel the same way about this
that I do about Pushing Daisies. It’s good. I’ve watched every
episode, but I’m not hooked. I love Kate Walsh. I love Addison
Montgomery. I love Tim Daly, Taye Diggs, Amy Brenneman and I love the
L.A. setting. It’s not a must see yet. But they just need a good
hook and I’ll be hooked. As of now, I’ll keep watching.

10 pm Wednesday nights has been a nice surprise. I’ll admit I was
skeptical about Dirty Sexy Money. It’s filmed at Paramount, and the
people who work on it won’t let the tours on the set…that’s usually
indicative of people being too uptight, and thus, crappy shows.
People who take everything too seriously usually end up producing
crap…you’ve got to be able to make fun of yourself. I’ve enjoyed
Dirty Sexy Money because of it’s trashiness. Again, we’ve got the
rich people with problems scenario, which I love. But I have to say,
the story lines that got me were the ones with Stephen Baldwin and the
transvestite having and affair, and the one about the daughter being a
shitty actress. That’s a poignant story line if you work in Hollywood
and see all these rich people with know talent (Paris Hilton) running
around pretending to be actresses. It’s pretty beautiful, and you’ve
got to get humor where you can. So thumbs up on Dirty Sexy Money, but
I won’t be sad if I miss an episode.

Now Thursdays are my favorite day because of Grey’s Anatomy. Of
course, Ugly Betty leads in. It’s a great show…I don’t watch it.
Grey’s Anatomy is awesome and I’m loving the new season. I love the
new dynamics with the interns having interns now. I love that George
is still and intern. I love that Meredith’s sister is there and the
girl who plays her is amazing. I’m just having a big love fest with
Grey’s. After Grey’s Anatomy is Big Shots. I have to say this is the
big disappointment of the season. The cast is phenomenal and when
they were at the press tour just chatting they were absolutely
hilarious, but the show is lacking a little. I don’t know if it’s
just new, so it’s not tight yet, or if the writing itself is actually
lacking, but there seems to be something missing from Big Shots.
Plus, it’s pretty obviously supposed to be a male Sex and the City,
but that doesn’t really work because the whole point of Sex in the
City was that it was showing women that it was okay to be a sexually
active, sexually aware female. But that’s already okay for men. I
don’t know, there’s just something not entirely right about Big Shots.
Maybe it’ll get better, but for now, I’m skipping it.

In conclusion, Gossip Girl is my new must see, Samantha Who? is my new
must see. I’m liking Pushing Daisies (in fact, I’m watching it right
now). I’m liking Private Practice. I’m liking Dirty Sexy Money (and
all of the crew has email addresses like
dirtysexyjuju@gmail.com……which I love). Still loving the Grey’s.

And I’m loving Showtime….Weeds, Californication and Dexter are the
best on Television…but I know most people don’t get showtime so I
won’t really talk about them. If you have showtime and aren’t
watching these shows, you’re wasting your money.

Peace, Love, and Welcome to the New Season,
Julia

P.S. Two in one day….I’m pretty impressive.

October 18, 2007 Posted by | Gay/Lesbian, Grey's Anatomy, Hollywood, Sex and the City, Television, Veronica Mars | Leave a comment

The Alphabet Network

n my little hiatus before last week, I actually had an amazing amount
of stuff happen to me. I feel like I lived about six months in that
three week period. One of the best and most incredibly awesome
experiences I had was working the ABC fall press tour.

I’ve written about these press tours before, and I know, for the
people involved in television shows, they are the least favorite part
of their job, but I love them. It’s an experience where, I, as a
wannabe writer get to meet my real heroes, the people who write the
shows. Most people love the press tours because we interact with the
stars. And yes, I was a little excited the I got to meet and hang out
with Kate Walsh because Dr. Addison Montgomery-Shepard is my favorite,
but really I love hearing all about the development of these new
shows.

Let me back up a little bit. Basically, the fall press tour is where
the networks bring out all their new shows for the fall. Only one or
two (maybe three) will make it to season two and even less will make
it past that, so it’s always nice to get some bets down during the
press events. I, of course, love to preview new shows because I love
to see what’s coming out. This year the theme seems to be, let’s take
HBO and Showtime shows and take it down a notch. Basically (and I
promise I’ll dedicate a rant to this at some point), right now HBO and
Showtime have the best programming on T.V. and the reason why is
because they aren’t censored. Now, I think that many times censorship
can create great television. Hello, we wouldn’t have the infamous Va
Jay Jay if we didn’t have censorship. But, the fact that on an HBO or
Showtime show people can say fuck and they can have sex and they can
be real people means that the shows on HBO and Showtime are, for the
most part quality programming that can explore aspects of humanity
that Network television simply can’t.

Now, that being said, the one Network that is making quality
programming across the board is ABC. With programming like Desperate
Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Ugly Betty, Brothers and Sisters, Lost,
etc, ABC really concentrated on Character shows rather than High
Concept shows (thought sometimes there’s a happy medium). ABC is
taking risks and I totally respect that. Plus, many of their risks
are paying off.

So it is no shock to say that ABC definitely has the most exciting new
fall lineup, and I’ll give you my predictions for what will survive,
what will fail, and what will be good. And I’ll give you some good
stories behind them all.

So we’ll go alphabetically because I’m looking at an alphabetical list
so I don’t forget anything. First we’ve got Big Shots. The original
title was supposed to be Big Dicks (which I think was a great title)
but of course, you can’t do that on Network television, hence Big
Shots. Now, for the ladies this is the most eye candy and
ridiculously hilarious cast of the new season. It’s starring Josh
Malina (West Wing), Christopher Titus, Dylan McDermott (who is
surprisingly short), and Michael Vartan (who I was in charge of at the
press tour and was so unbelievably sexy I almost peed like twice.
Plus he was charming and funny and nice, and said he’d rather be
surfing…lord knows I can’t resist a surfer). Anyway, this show has
been lauded as Sex and the City (HBO show) for guys. I think this is
going to be a great show, but I don’t know if it will last.

Next, we have Carpoolers, Jerry O’Connell’s new show. And though
Jerry is very nice and very down to earth, I give this show three
episodes at the most before it is cancelled.

And then there’s Cashmere Mafia, a.k.a. Sex in the City Light.
Starring Lucy Liu, Bonnie Somerville, Frances O’Connor, and Miranda
Otto. I was in charge of Bonnie, thank god. She didn’t talk to me at
all, but she wasn’t crazy like some of the others. Basically, Lucy
Liu was nice and didn’t have a huge ego. Frances O’Connor refused to
come out of her room on three separate occasions, she was the worst by
far. All these ladies were surrounded by their publicists and hair
and make up people and all that shit, they were celebrities of the
most annoying kind. Kevin Wade, the creator, was, however, one of the
nicest, most down to earth guys. He asked me about my aspirations as
a writer and warned that it was hard work, but ultimately wished me
luck. He even remembered me the next night when I was working the
party. Because I liked Kevin it does pain me to say that I don’t
think this one will last, I think it’ll be lucky to see a season, but
it could surprise in either direction.

And then there’s the Caveman show. Called Cavemen. If you’ve seen
those Geico commercials with the cavemen that’s what the show is based
on. It does have one of my favorite actors from Detroit Rock City,
Sam Huntington, who proudly shouted to his bible-thumping mother, ‘I
just lost my virginity in a confessional. Lord. Have. Mercy.’ It
might be my favorite scene of all time in a movie. Apparently racism
is a big theme in the show. I give it 5 episodes.

Next we have Dirty Sexy Money. Now, this show is shooting on the
Paramount lot and the whole production seems sort of up their own
asses about how fucking great they are. They won’t allow tours on the
set (which is the stupidest thing ever because people will watch the
damn show if you let them on the set). The saving graces are Peter
Krause (from Six Feet Under, HBO) and Donald Sutherland. The girl
they cast is Samaire Armstrong (from The O.C. and Entourage, HBO), and
even though she’s been on two of my favorites (actually three because
she was in Freaks and Geeks as well), she’s not a very good actress.
She’s stiff and speaks haltingly and I generally don’t really like
her. This one I could see lasting for at least a season…or it could
get cancelled immediately because of high production costs (the sets
are ridiculous).

Miss/Guided, I don’t really know much about. There’s a copy of the
pilot sitting in my house, but have no desire to watch it. It is
starring Judy Grier, who you will recognize when you see her. She’s
hilarious, but this just doesn’t seem very good. Can’t even tell you
what the story is. 3 episodes before this is cancelled.

Then we have the shining star. Another HBO rip off, but one that has
major potential. It’s called Pushing Daises. It is a Diet Six Feet
Under type of show, but the cast alone is enough to get me to watch.
Anna Friel, who was kind of a bitch, but has been in a million movies
and been great in them, leads the cast with Swoosie Kurtz (of Reality
Bites fame) and Kristin Chenoweth (my favorite good witch from
Wicked). Basically, it’s a great cast of true characters and that’s
where it’s charm comes from. If I had to put money on one show this
season, I’d say this one will make it past season one.

And the magic words that give me goosebumps…PRIVATE PRACTICE. My
girl Shonda seems to be poised to do it again with this show.
Basically, this is the Grey’s Anatomy spin-off with the superstar
cast. Taye Diggs (who is even sexier in real life), Tim Daly (from
Wings), Amy Brenneman, and of course Kate Walsh. Now, Kate is who I
spent the most time with during the tour. She was so polite, she
remembered my name the next day at the party, she introduced herself
and shook my hand, she apologized for speaking on the phone.
Basically she was one of the nicest celebs I’ve met. But even Kate
was trumped by Shonda, Betsy and Marti. So basically, the Grey’s
Anatomy creative team is the Private Practice creative team. And
basically, I’m putting this out here right now, I will believe in God
if I have Shonda Rhimes’ life for even one day. I started shaking a
little bit when I met her because I think she’s the best writer in
Television (well, she’s neck and neck with Aaron Sorkin). Then, Betsy
Beers, executive producer of Grey’s, got out of her car and I met her
too. I listen to her every week on the Grey’s Anatomy podcast and I
think she’s amazing and awesome and a genius. And then there was
Marti Noxon, another executive producer on Grey’s Anatomy, who got her
big break as a writer on my favorite fantasy show, Buffy the Vampire
Slayer, and who is…………a banana slug. That’s right Marti is a
UCSC grad and gives me hope every week when I watch her name in the
credits. Now, as for the show, I think it’s actually going to be
really good (despite the less than stellar pilot) but it might have
trouble finding an audience because many Grey’s Anatomy fans seem so
opposed to the idea.

Next there is Samantha Who? which is Christina Applegate’s new show.
She was great. Very nice and very down to earth. This one has an
all-star cast (which usually means big ratings at first, but the true
test will be can this show hold it’s ratings…think Studio 60…big
cast and then huge ratings drops). So along with Christina we’ve got
Jean Smart (from Designing Women), Jennifer Esposito (who will be a
huge star soon, she’s freaking hilarious), Barry Watson (7th Heaven),
and Melissa McCarthy (a.k.a. Sookie from Gilmore Girls). Seems funny,
but I guess we’ll see.

Lastly, there is Women’s Murder Club. It looks not too good, though
it’s set in San Francisco, so that can often be charming, though hard
to watch for me since it’s so clearly not San Francisco and is, in
fact, L.A. I have the same problem with Monk. This is basically
Murder She Wrote with four Angela Lansbury characters. Though there’s
no big names, so that sometimes spells a hit (hello, Friends, Grey’s,
90210, etc.)

So that’s my wrap up for the ABC fall lineup. I guess we’ll just have
to wait and see if I’m right.

Peace, Love, and New Television,
Julia

August 17, 2007 Posted by | Grey's Anatomy, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Parties, Sex and the City, Studio 60, Television | Leave a comment

Up Front Season

So a couple of weeks ago I wrote about how hard it is when you and
your favorite t.v. show break up, and a few months ago I was writing
about awards show season and how it is my favorite time of year.
Well, right now we’re in my least favorite time of year.  It’s called
Up Fronts and they hurt me.

Basically, up fronts are where each network goes to new york and
announces their fall lineup.  Then, advertisers buy advertising space
from the shows that they want to advertise on.  And that shit can be
expensive.  A 30 second spot on the series finale of friends was
something like $500,000.

The Up Fronts are the time of year when I remember much of what
television is actually about.  It’s not about the great writing and
great acting, it’s not the complex story lines involving multiple
flawed, but charmingly loveable characters.  Nope, now is the time of
year that reminds me that television is about ratings because ratings
equal more advertisers and more advertisers equal more money.

So the shows with the not great ratings (a.k.a. the good ones) are
usually cancelled this time of year, and thus this is my least
favorite time of year.  Not only am I reminded that this business is,
in fact, a business, and as such, great works of art are often tossed
by the wayside for hopes of a bigger paycheck.

The fact of the matter is that many times the networks get it wrong.
They cancel shows that then go on to sell millions of DVD’s, they
don’t give shows time to come into their own (because sometimes it
takes a little while to really get the swing of things…look at the
first season of Gilmore Girls or even Friends, it takes them about a
season before they really hit their stride).  I mean, shows like My
So-Called Life or Freaks and Geeks are now lauded as some of the best
shows of all time, but they didn’t make it past one season.  Bosom
Buddies only lasted two seasons and is now known as Tom Hanks’ first
real start in the business (and they sell millions of DVD’s).

So this week, instead of breaking up with my t.v. shows where you’re
certain that though it hurts right now, it’s for the best, I have my
shows ripped from me.  Basically, it’s like that break up that comes
out of nowhere.  That break up where all of a sudden ‘it’s not you,
it’s me’ and ‘I’m just really busy right now’ and you’re left in
shock, not really knowing where to look or what to do with your hands.

That’s right folks, this week is the week where Julia’s heart get’s
ripped out because I have to part with shows I’m not yet ready to let
go of.  This season has been the most brutal because after this past
weeks up fronts I was left with one, that’s right one, show left on
network television.  Studio 60, which had been put on hiatus a few
months ago, has been officially cancelled and yes, there are still 4
mystery episodes that may or may not be aired (but will hopefully
appear on the DVD).  And most painful of all, my favorite show,
Veronica Mars, was cancelled as well.  So it seems that the shows that
don’t play it safe this season are the ones that will no longer be
airing.  And as much as I try to be optimistic before the up
fronts…as much as I try to have faith in the industry that I am a
part of, this week usually takes a little peice of my youthful hope, a
little peice of my innocence.

The one ray of light is that there will be a new show on the horizon.
A new pilot, that will capture my heart and mind, that will marry
great acting with great writing…and hopefully, hopefully will not
get cancelled in just one or two seasons.

Peace, Love, and Up Fronts,

Julia

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Grey's Anatomy, Hollywood, Studio 60, Television, Veronica Mars | Leave a comment

The ________ Word

Alright Peeps,
I’m back from my week of non-stop partying.  No really.  My friend
from England was in town and I didn’t do anything but work, drink, and
well, that’s it, all last week.  I’m back, I’m not entirely well
rested, and my liver is slowly recovering.  And here are some words of
wisdom for this week.

I grew up in Calfornia…Santa Cruz to be exact.  Santa Cruz prides
itself on being an accepting community (though it’s not as accepting
as everyone likes to think that it is).  But as the majority of you
know my parents were pretty darn accepting of everyone and everything.
That being said I’m sure many of you know that I tend to attract
people that maybe aren’t as accepted in american society.  People with
spikey hair and studs through their tounges.  Men who like other men,
and women who like other women.

I’m sure you all be happy to know that this trend has not been muted
as I have moved to L.A.  I still seem to be a beacon for gay people
(which I love).  I went to a party on Saturday where I ended up
surrounded by gay men…it was fabuolous.

Of course, here in L.A. I made my first lesbian friends, who are my
friends and I did not meet through my parents.  I did grow up in Santa
Cruz so it’s not like I’ve never met a lesbian, but I just never ended
up being good friends with any.   Just a weird fluke I guess.

Well, as many of you also know, anyone who lives in L.A. is not from
L.A.  This especially goes for people in Hollywood.  Those of us
fucked up enough to want to work in Hollywood are usually from places
outside of Los Angeles.

So when I got my job at Paramount Pictures I met about 35 people from
all over the country.  Including two lesbian couples, one from
butthole nowhere Pennsylvania and the other from Plano, Texas.  You
can imagine that neither of their parents know about their sexual
preferences.  You can also probably imagine how flattered I was when I
was let in on the secret.

They say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and before my
mom starts planning the party, no this is not me coming out of the
closet.  I’m not in a closet…in fact, I don’t think anything in my
apartment counts as a closet per say.  I think that people telling you
such a huge part of who they are and trusting you with that
information is the most sincere form of flattery.  I’m always
profoundly moved when another of my friends tells me that they’re gay
because they are basically saying that they love me and trust me
enough to know this supremely important facet of their being.  It’s a
great feeling knowing that people trust you to be accepting of them.

So my friends from the middle of nowhere have only been in California
for a little over a year.  I’m pretty sure they’re not used to people
being as accepting as I pride myself on being.  To get to the point,
my friend Leanne practically forced me to watch The ‘L’ Word, which,
if you don’t know or couldn’t figure out, is a show about lesbians.
It does air on showtime so it’s explicit to say the least.  But it’s a
really great show that I normally wouldn’t have watched.

But as I was watching it I got to thinking.  Why do we have to have
shows that are solely about gay people?  Why can’t regular shows have
gay people in them?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are some great
exceptions to this rule (sex and the city…which I swear I will write
about, but it’ll be loooong so watch out.  And now Ugly Betty is
bringing some albiet stereotypical gay people to the small screen).

Now, don’t get me wrong…shows like Will & Grace and The ‘L’ Word are
great at bringing gay people into homes that normally wouldn’t have
it.  And I think Will & Grace especially has been a great influence on
the American public and their growing acceptance of homosexuality.
Though if there’s one thing I’ve learned from my hic friends it’s that
we’re nowhere near there yet.

Even still, why I ask you, why does there have to be gay shows?  Why
can’t shows reflect the actual landscape of America?  I think Grey’s
Anatomy does a good job, but they seem to ignore sexuality
altogether…everyone’s straight, even if there are many different
ethnic minorities represented.

So here’s my promise to you.  When I write a show it’ll involve gay
people who are just as slutty and fucked up as the straight people.
It’ll include african-american, asian, indian, kazakstani, venezuelan,
namibian, fijian, etc. people who are just as rich, educated, slutty
and fucked up as the white people.  Mexicans who are not housekeepers
or cooks in an italian restaurant, but who are just as rich, educated,
slutty and fucked up as the asian, indian, venezuelan, tongan, etc
people.  And it will include British people who are not out to do
evil, but who are just as slutty and fucked up as the evil Americans.

Peace, love, and same sex television,
Julia

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Gay/Lesbian, Grey's Anatomy, Hollywood, Sex, Sex and the City, Television | Leave a comment

My Biggest Secret

Ok,
So this is what happens when I have more than an eight hour period
where I’m not working and that period doesn’t have to contain some
number of hours of sleep.  I’m letting you all in on one of my deep
dark secrets.

So when people first meet me, before they get to know me, as you all
do, I apparently come off as a complete bitch.  This may have
something to do with my extreme shyness (thank you mom) which wears
off when I start to get comfortable (thank you dad).

Now, I’m not the kind of person that cries during a movie.  There
aren’t many that bring me to tears and for t.v. it’s even worse.
Grey’s Anatomy is the only show in the past god knows how many years
to make me cry on a regular basis.  And has, in fact, been known to,
especially with this George’s dad dying storyline, render me a totally
blubbering puddle of girl.  Last week, I actually ended up sobbing in
a fetal position on my bed, rocking myself as if someone had beat me
with a 2×4.

That being said, I actually am not brought to tears very often in a
movie, while reading a book, watching a t.v. show, anything.  Call it
unhealthy, but I don’t really like to show emotion.  I see it as a
sign of weakness.

Now the one thing that brings me to tears every single time I watch
one is the Awards show.  It doesn’t really matter what awards show,
but I always cry at awards shows.  I cried at least twice during the
Golden Globes this year.  I cried when Reese won the Academy Award
last year.  I cried at the Katherine Hepburn memorial at the Academy
Awards a few years ago.  When all the people in the audience give a
standing ovation, I really loose it.  It’s just the most embarrassing
thing ever.

Well, I’m sure none of you watched the SAG Awards last night.  (SAG =
Screen Actors Guild).  But they were last night and they were ok.  As
far as Awards shows go, they’re not the most scintillating, but I like
them.  Basically, I like SAG because the actors vote for other actors
and who better to judge than people who do the same thing for a
living.

SAG’s are unpredictable because they are the least political of all
the awards shows.  The SAG awards are based on great acting, not
wanting to get back at David Geffen or whatever politics are behind
the Oscar Nominations.

So, last night’s SAG awards, though there was no big political
speeches (as has been known to happen in the Academy Awards) had some
nice moments.  Forrest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) calling
America Ferrera (Ugly Betty), America the Beautiful was an especially
cute moment.  And Annie Hathaway helping Dick Van Dyke give Julie
Andrews the Lifetime Achievement award was a great moment.  Not to
mention, the Mary Tyler Moore Show cast getting together on stage to
give the award for Best Ensemble Cast in a Comedy (went to the Office,
all you fans) was fantastic, and standing ovation made my eyes a
little wet.  My favorite part of that is seeing all of today’s T.V.
and Movie stars completely wide-eyed and star-struck.  I love seeing
stars get star-struck, it makes them real.

Of course, my favorite moments were when Chandra Wilson (Dr. Bailey
from Grey’s Anatomy) won for Best Supporting Actress.  And of Course
the entire Grey’s Anatomy cast for Best Ensemble Drama.  See this is
where I love the SAG awards, and where the Academy Fails.  Acting is
all about the Collaboration.  And I love the Ensemble awards.

Now, the moment that really actually left me in tears was the last
award, which is for Best Ensemble in a Film.  It went to LITTLE MISS
SUNSHINE.  If you haven’t seen it, please join us in 2007 and go to
Blockbuster or put it at the number 1 spot on your Netflix Queue
because it was, in my opinion, the best film of last year.  It’s an
absolutely perfect movie.  There’s not one thing wrong with it.  But,
I know that the academy threw the film a bone by giving it
nominations, and I’m pretty sure that it’s not really going to win any
academy awards (even though it deserves them).

So yes that’s right, when they announced that as the winner, I got
choked up and teared up.

And that, my friends, is a secret not too many people know.  I’m
pretty sure I’ve been able to hide it for all these years.  Don’t you
feel special for being in the know now.

Peace, Love, and Great Acting,

Julia

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Awards Shows, Grey's Anatomy, Hollywood, Movies, Oscars, Television | 1 Comment

The Best of the Best…Part 1 of 3

Many People (Mom this is for you) think that Television is a waste of
time.  There is nothing good on and it is not worth watching.  My
mother tells me this on a regular basis and really, it kind of hurts
me personally (seeing as this is what I really want to do…write for
television).  Even when complete strangers tell me that they don’t
watch T.V. because everything on T.V. sucks I get a little hurt.

So as many of you probably know I was a Lit Major (among other things)
in college.  Well in my Literature classes we were constantly
discussing a principle of Mimesis.  Basically, Mimesis is an
Aristotilean artistic principle that says that the main purpose of
drama is to emulate real life.  That’s incredibly simplified, but it’s
the basic jist of the arguement.  So I ask you, what’s more realistic
a two hour movie, where you are forced to develop characters in the
first 10 minutes (something has to happen in the first 10 pages
because that’s how much an agent/director/anyone will read in this
business).  Or do we achieve a better glimpse at how humans change,
how they stagnate, how they behave in any particular environment or
situation by watching them every week for 1 to 5 to 10 years?

Suffice to say, I actually think that Television is the higher of the
two artforms.  Film takes it’s time.  It takes three months to shoot a
movie.  They shoot about a page and a half of dialogue a day (with the
exception of Robert Altman, and maybe someday I’ll write a good 20
pages on him cause he’s the master).  In Television it takes 8 days to
shoot a One Hour episode.  The shoot upwards of 15-25 Pages a day
depending on the scenario.

Television doesn’t have the schedule to painstakingly agonize over
every single camera angle in the way that film does.  Still, and I’ll
get to this more in Part III of this email, a show can do extremely
artistic camera work, even with it’s inevitable time constraints.

So this email series is aiming to point out, what I think, are the
three best shows on NETWORK television.  When I get emails back, I
will talk to you about Entourage and Big Love until the cows come
home, but I am not including them in my top three shows.  These
non-network channels include HBO, Showtime, USA (you Monk fans), TNT
(Closer people), or F/X (If anyone watches Nip/Tuck I’ll be honest,
I’m now a little bit disturbed by you).

So I’m going to start off with Grey’s Anatomy because last night’s
episode nearly killed me.  Seriously, at one point I was actually
curled into a fetal position on my bed sobbing, as though MY dad had
just died, not George’s.

I know I’ve alluded to how great Grey’s is, but here’s the real
rundown.  Basically, what I look for in a One Hour Drama is writing
and acting.  If the writing is clever and the acting is superb I’ll
usually tune into the show, even if I’m not a fan of the premise.
That being said, there are only three one hour dramas that I actually
watch, so you do the math on how annoyingly picky I am about what
constitutes great writing and great acting.

The best part of Grey’s Anatomy is that it’s not really about Meredith
Grey.  I’d kind of like to bow down to Shonda Rhimes, not only because
she’s a woman who created the number one show in the United States,
but because she created a truly flawed character who, though her name
is in the title, really isn’t the star of the show.

Many people I know, don’t like Meredith Grey (perhaps this is because
Ellen Pompeo is not the nicest of people in real life, and thus it
comes through in her acting) but I love her.  She’s a deeply flawed
character and she’s flawed in only a way having a team of mostly
female writers make it okay for a woman to be flawed.  The problem
with many teams of writers in Television is that they are mostly men
so they are afraid to make women so intensely fucked up.  Grey’s
Anatomy has a majority of women on their writing staff so all the
women are totally screwed up in ways that women are not afraid to
write about.  Meredith, when she’s depressed, gets drunk and sleeps
with the wrong people.  Throughout season 2 she did this repeatedly,
culminating with her tryst with George.  In fact, when we meet
Meredith for the first time it is the morning after a one night stand
with, we will soon find out is, McDreamy.

Ah yes, Patrick Dempsy.  Let’s put aside the fabuolus hair and
wonderful charm.  By the way, at the press confrence I was at on
Sunday Shonda Rhimes said that before Patrick got the part, he wasn’t
called McDreamy…let’s just stew on that shall we.  Dr. McDreamy, Dr.
Burke, The Chief, and Dr. Karev fill out the cocky asshole
surgeon/wannabe surgeon (in the case of Dr. Karev) quartet of the
show.  Yes, they can all be assholes, but we find that they can all be
sweet and gooey marshmellows when confronted with Meredith, or
Christina or Izzie.  What I’m really trying to get at here is that all
characters on the show are three dimensional.  At first Dr. Karev
especially seems like a complete smarmy (sp. ?) ass.    But we see
change, we see layers, we see a real person and it didn’t take two
hours to get there.  It took weeks and months and even years for us to
see that he’s not the total dick that he started out as.  That’s what
television does.

Now, the best thing I heard Ms. Shonda say at the press conference
was, when talking about how she pitched the show to the network, ‘they
are surgeons who care more about themselves than about their
patients.’  Damn straight they are.  They are surgeons, they are
doctors, they do care about their patients, but their own problems and
their own character takes precedence over (in true E.R. fashion…NBC
please cancel that damn show already) the cool new accidents that come
in.  Sure they have an uncharacteristically high number of amazing
accidents/consults with patients that have weird and crazy things
wrong with them, but in all fairness, it is T.V. and it has to have
some of that stuff.

Where the show really succeeds is when, in the middle of these
tragedies and surgeries and hopes and heartbreaks, the essence of
humanity is touched.  At it’s core the show is about humanity, it’s
about how we move up in the world, what people are willing to do in
order to accomplish their dreams, how people take care of each other,
how people get too involved in the lives of people they really
shouldn’t be involved with at all.  It’s about how we are not perfect,
even the best of us, we are far from it.  This show is about so much
more than a 2 hour movie could ever be about.

And the thing that really makes the show as fantastic as it is (it did
just win a globe for best drama on monday) is the writing.  The reason
I really started becoming attracted to this show and eventually made
it a must see was the fact that there are a good 10 main characters
and every week each of them has a pretty good story line.  Now writing
10 give or take good story lines (sure some of them involve 2 or more
characters, but still) every single week is an absolute work of
genius.  In T.V. you have 43 minutes and I think it’s 11 seconds to
tell your story from week to week.  Now, think how difficult it is to
pack all those story lines into that 43 minute show.  And People (read
mom) let’s give them some damn credit.

It’s not trash, it’s not crap, it’s an amazing work of art and a
complex jigsaw puzzle.  Take last nights episode, for example.  Not
only was there the big story with George’s Dad (which actually took up
ALOT of screen-time for a single storyline, but I thought it got the
credit it deserved), but we had Christina and Burke, Meredith and
Derek, Addison (who is my favorite character) and Dr. Karev, Meredith
and her dad, Izzie and the patient that she’s getting too involved
with yet again with Dr. Bailey added into the mix.  Then we also had
all the stuff surrounding George’s dad, with Dr. Torres, Dr. Bailey,
the Chief, that fanatatic scene at the end (that damn near killed me)
with Christina and George where she says she’s sorry he had to join
the dead dad’s club and my favorite line in the episode ‘I don’t know
how to live in a world where my Dad doesn’t exist.’  Cut to Julia with
snot running out of her nose in the fetal position, rocking herself
like she was just beaten with a baseball bat.  That’s all one episode,
and that one wasn’t even as jam-packed as they can get.

Ok, so it’s about time to wrap this up, but I guess what I’m trying to
get across is that maybe more goes into a T.V. show than you know.
Let’s not automatically assume that becasue it’s on Television it’s
crap because the best stuff that’s out there is on television.
Remember too that when you say ‘you don’t believe in t.v.’ lowly
underpaid, overworked writer drops dead.  So let’s all chant it ‘I do
believe’  ‘I do believe’  ‘I do believe’

June 14, 2007 Posted by | Grey's Anatomy, Hollywood, Television | Leave a comment