Everybody Listen to Chris

  I consider Chris Rock to be one of the sharpest comedians of our time. I use sharp because from his stand-up material to films and shows, he has never shied away from what he really thinks about anything, and especially when it comes to our society. Before President Obama was even a campaign thought, Rock provided us with the possibility of what it could be like if there was a Black candidate running for President in Head of State, and has effortlessly approached racial and class differences with his comedic touch like reincarnating a struggling Black comedian into a rich White man in Down to Earth or exploring and trying to explain the complexity of a black women’s hair in Good Hair. Those are just a few films from his career and some of my favorites, but if you have ever seen any of his stand-up or even a sit-down interview like on Oprah (fun fact: Rock is the most appeared guest on her show besides Gayle King),  you can always tell his funniest jokes are the most truthful.

It’s no coincidence that Rock has now re-emerged into the public eye in conjunction with his new film Top Five which he wrote, directed, and stars in (opens December 12, I’m seeing it). But he also coincidentally re-emerged at a time when our country is in such a critical condition. The conversation about race relations/conflicts in America has once again hit a boiling point causing a need to be put back at the forefront, and from an entertainer who has casually used this subject for so much material, this couldn’t be a more perfect time to hear what Chris Rock has to say. There is a New York Magazine feature where Rock candidly discusses his thoughts on the state of comedy, repercussions of Ferguson and even President Obama, however the article I chose to feature in my post is from his cover story in this month’s The Hollywood Reporter. Because this blog discusses entertainment, this is one I really wanted to share on here. Both are very poignant, so I still encourage you all to read the New York feature as well. But for THR, instead of being interviewed, they gave Rock the opportunity to write his own editorial piece. In what they termed as a “blistering essay”, Rock exposed Hollywood for its biggest secret that everyone knows but no industry insider really likes to admit; something I know, but scares me the most about engaging in it. But really, what they called blistering, is what Rock’s comedy has always been known for and what I admire about him. Chris Rock just came through with his ability to exactly express what everyone is thinking but no one wants to say, once again helping contribute to the conversation of racial pitfalls of America, our supposed salad bowl of a country.


This story first appeared in the Dec. 12 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

by Chris Rock

I was probably 19 when I first came to Hollywood. Eddie Murphy brought me out to do Beverly Hills Cop II and he had a deal at Paramount, so I remember going through the gates of the Paramount lot. He’s in a Rolls-Royce, and he’s not just a star, he’s the biggest star in the world. Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer‘s office was in the same building as Eddie’s office, and they would come to work every day with matching cars. Some days it would be the Porsches, and the next day it would be Ferraris. I was like the kid in A Bronx Tale. I got to just hang around when the biggest parts of show business were happening. I was only there a couple of weeks, but I remember every day Jeffrey Katzenberg would call Eddie Murphy — I don’t even know if Eddie was calling him back — but it was like, “Jeffrey Katzenberg called again.” “Janet Jackson just called.” “Michael Jackson called.” It was that crazy. I’ve still never seen anything like it. I had a small part in the movie, but my dream was bigger than that. I wanted to have a convertible Rolls-Royce with a fine girl driving down Melrose blasting Prince.

Now I’m not Murphy, but I’ve done fine. And I try to help young black guys coming up because those people took chances on me. Eddie didn’t have to put me in Beverly Hills Cop IIKeenen Wayans didn’t have to put me in I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. Arsenio didn’t have to let me on his show. I’d do the same for a young white guy, but here’s the difference: Someone’s going to help the white guy. Multiple people will. The people whom I’ve tried to help, I’m not sure anybody was going to help them.

And I have a decent batting average. I still remember people thinking I was crazy for hiring Wanda Sykes on my old HBO show. I recommended J.B. Smoove for Saturday Night Live, and I just helped Leslie Jones get on that show. She’s about as funny as a human being can be, but she didn’t go to Second City, she doesn’t do stand-up at The Cellar and she’s not in with Judd Apatow, so how the hell was she ever going to get through unless somebody like me says to Lorne Michaels, “Hey, look at this person”? I saw her at a comedy club four or five years ago, and I wrote her name down in my phone. I probably called four managers — the biggest managers in comedy — to manage her, and all of them said no. They didn’t get it. They didn’t get it until Lorne said yes a few years later, and then it was too late.

Some of these younger black guys just want me to see their act. Some come to me for advice. Hannibal Buress called the other day. They want to know about agents and managers and the business; this kind of deal and that kind of deal; dealing with the media and dealing with family; money crap and where they should live. It’s big brother shit, and they ask because there aren’t that many black people to turn to. Who do you hire? Where’s the big black PR agency? Where are the big black agents? Where’s the big black film producer? That’s why I’ve been all over Steve McQueen. I put a microchip in Steve’s pocket and track him like an Uber driver. Steve thinks we keep bumping into each other by accident. “Hey, Steve, my man!” I don’t care if I have to play a whip, I’m going to be in a Steve McQueen movie. But I digress.

It’s a white industry. Just as the NBA is a black industry. I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing. It just is. And the black people they do hire tend to be the same person. That person tends to be female and that person tends to be Ivy League. And there’s nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, that’s what I want for my daughters. But something tells me that the life my privileged daughters are leading right now might not make them the best candidates to run the black division of anything. And the person who runs the black division of a studio should probably have worked with black people at some point in their life. Clint Culpepper [a white studio chief who specializes in black movies] does a good job at Screen Gems because he’s the kind of guy who would actually go see Best Man Holiday. But how many black men have you met working in Hollywood? They don’t really hire black men. A black man with bass in his voice and maybe a little hint of facial hair? Not going to happen. It is what it is. I’m a guy who’s accepted it all.

We cut it out in Top Five, but there had been a scene where Kevin Hart, who plays my character’s agent, is in his office talking to me, and he finds out that “Zoolander” (Ben Stiller) is down the hall and he’s mad because none of the agents called him. He’s the only black agent at the agency, and there was a line in the movie like, “I’m the only black agent here. They never invite me to anything, and these people are liberals. This isn’t the Klan.”

But forget whether Hollywood is black enough. A better question is: Is Hollywood Mexican enough? You’re in L.A, you’ve got to try not to hire Mexicans. It’s the most liberal town in the world, and there’s a part of it that’s kind of racist — not racist like “F— you, nigger” racist, but just an acceptance that there’s a slave state in L.A. There’s this acceptance that Mexicans are going to take care of white people in L.A. that doesn’t exist anywhere else. I remember I was renting a house in Beverly Park while doing some movie, and you just see all of the Mexican people at 8 o’clock in the morning in a line driving into Beverly Park like it’s General Motors. It’s this weird town.

You’re telling me no Mexicans are qualified to do anything at a studio? Really? Nothing but mop up? What are the odds that that’s true? The odds are, because people are people, that there’s probably a Mexican David Geffen mopping up for somebody’s company right now. The odds are that there’s probably a Mexican who’s that smart who’s never going to be given a shot. And it’s not about being given a shot to greenlight a movie because nobody is going to give you that — you’ve got to take that. The shot is that a Mexican guy or a black guy is qualified to go and give his opinion about how loud the boings are in Dodgeball or whether it’s the right shit sound you hear when Jeff Daniels is on the toilet in Dumb and Dumber. It’s like, “We only let white people do that.” This is a system where only white people can chime in on that. There would be a little naivete to sitting around and going, “Oh, no black person has ever greenlighted a movie,” but those other jobs? You’re kidding me, right? They don’t even require education. When you’re on the lower levels, they’re just about taste, nothing else. And you don’t have to go to Harvard to have taste.

Fifteen years ago, I tried to create an equivalent to The Harvard Lampoon at Howard University, to give young black comedy writers the same opportunity that white comedy writers have. I wish we could’ve made it work. The reason it worked at Harvard and not at Howard is that the kids at Howard need money. It’s that simple. Kids at Harvard come from money — even the broke ones come from money. They can afford to work at a newspaper and make no money. The kids at Howard are like, “Dude, I love comedy, but I’ve got a f—ing tuition that I’ve got to pay for here.” But that was 15 years ago; it might be easier to do it now because of the Internet. I don’t know.

I really don’t think there’s any difference between what black audiences find funny and what white audiences find funny, but everyone likes to see themselves onscreen, so there are some instances where there’s a black audience laughing at something that a white audience wouldn’t laugh at because a black audience is really just happy to see itself. Things that would be problems in a world where there were a lot of black movies get overlooked. The same thing happened with those Sex and the City movies. You don’t really see that level of female movie that much, so women were like, “We’re only going to get this every whatever, so f— you, f— the reviews, we’re going, we like it.”

And you should at least be able to count on your people, and then it grows from there. If someone’s people don’t love them, that’s a problem. No one crosses over without a base. But if we’re going to just be honest and count dollars and seats and not look at skin color, Kevin Hart is the biggest comedian in the world. If Kevin Hart is playing 40,000 seats in a night and Jon Stewart is playing 3,000, the fact that Jon Stewart’s 3,000 are white means Kevin has to cross over? That makes no sense. If anybody needs to cross over, it’s the guy who’s selling 3,000 seats.

But here’s one thing I’ve noticed in the last five to seven years, and I didn’t think I’d live to see this day. There used to be black film and Eddie Murphy, and the two had nothing to do with each other. Literally nothing. And in the world of black film, everything was judged on a relative basis — almost the same curve that indie films get judged on. It was, “Hey, House Party made a lot of money relative to its budget,” or “Oh, we only paid $7 million for New Jack City and it made $50 million.” Now, not only are black movies making money, they’re expected to make money — and they’re expected to make money on the same scale as everything else.

I think they’ve been better in the last few years, too — a little more daring, a little funnier. But look, most movies suck. Absolutely suck. They just do. Most TV shows suck. Most books suck. If most things were good, I’d make $15 an hour. I don’t live the way I live because most things are even remotely good. But when you have a system where you probably only see three movies with African-American leads in them a year, they’re going to be judged more harshly, and you’re really rooting for them to be good a little more so than the 140 movies starring white people every year.

The best ones are made outside of the studio system because they’re not made with that many white people — maybe one or two, but not a whole system of white people. I couldn’t have made Top Five at a studio. First of all, no one’s going to make a movie with a premise so little and artsy: a star putting out a movie and getting interviewed by a woman from The New York Times. I would have had to have three two-hour meetings explaining that black people also read The New York Times. A studio would’ve made it like Malibu’s Most Wanted. And never in a million years would they have allowed a scene where the rich guy comes back to the projects and actually gets along with everybody. No way. In most black movies — and in most black TV shows and even in most black plays — anyone with money or an education is evil, even movies made by black directors. They have to be saved by the poor people. This goes back to Good Times and What’s Happening!!

Now, when it comes to casting, Hollywood pretty much decides to cast a black guy or they don’t. We’re never on the “short list.” We’re never “in the mix.” When there’s a hot part in town and the guys are reading for it, that’s just what happens. It was never like, “Is it going to be Ryan Gosling or Chiwetel Ejiofor for Fifty Shades of Grey?” And you know, black people f—, too. White women actually want to f— black guys, sometimes more than white guys. More women want to f— Tyrese than Jamie Dornan,and it’s not even close. It’s not a contest. Even Jamie would go, “OK, you got it.”

Or how about True Detective? I never heard anyone go, “Is it going to be Amy Adams or Gabrielle Union?” for that show. I didn’t hear one black girl’s name on those lists. Not one. Literally everyone in town was up for that part, unless you were black. And I haven’t read the script, but something tells me if Gabrielle Union were Colin Farrell‘s wife, it wouldn’t change a thing. And there are almost no black women in film. You can go to whole movies and not see one black woman. They’ll throw a black guy a bone. OK, here’s a black guy. But is there a single black woman in Interstellar? Or Gone GirlBirdman?The PurgeNeighbors? I’m not sure there are. I don’t remember them. I go to the movies almost every week, and I can go a month and not see a black woman having an actual speaking part in a movie. That’s the truth.

But there’s been progress. When I was on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago, we did a sketch where I was Sasheer Zamata‘s dad and she had an Internet show. Twenty years ago when I was on Saturday Night Live, anything with black people on the show had to deal with race, and that sketch we did didn’t have anything to do with race. That was the beauty: The sketch is funny because it’s funny, and that’s the progress. And there are black guys who are making it: Whatever Kevin Hart wants to do right now, he can do; I think Chiwetel is a really respected actor who is getting a lot of great shots just because he’s really good; if Steve McQueen wants to direct a Marvel movie, they would salivate to get him. Change just takes time. The Triborough Bridge has been the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge for almost 20 years now, but we still call it the Triborough Bridge. That’s how long it takes shit to change. We’re not going to be calling it the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge for another 10, 15 years. People will have to die for it actually to be the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge.

I don’t think the world expected things to change overnight because Obama got elected president. Of course it’s changed, though, it’s just changed with kids. And when you’re a kid, you’re not thinking of any of this shit. Black kids watch The Lord of the Rings and they want to be the Lord of the Rings. I remember when they were doing Starsky & Hutch, and my manager was like, “We might be able to get you the part of Huggy Bear,” which eventually went to Snoop Dogg. I was like: “Do you understand that when my brother and I watched Starsky & Hutch growing up, I would play Starsky and he would play Hutch? I don’t want to play f—ing Huggy Bear. This is not a historical drama. This is not Thomas Jefferson. It’s a movie based on a shitty TV show, it can be anybody. Who cares. If they want me to play Starsky or Hutch, or even the bad guy, I’m down. But Huggy Bear?”

I wouldn’t be here if I thought I couldn’t play those parts. I never limited myself. And that’s the beauty of Obama. It might be a generational thing, because the difference between Barack Obama and Jesse Jackson was that Jesse Jackson never actually ran for president. He ran to disrupt the presidency. If he actually ran for president, he probably could have been president. Jesse Jackson won a bunch of primaries in Southern states, but not for five seconds did he think he could be president, whereas Obama was like, “Yeah, I could be president,” and nobody stopped him. Literally, nobody stopped him.


Any thoughts? Was Chris Rock on point or was he?

Broadcast Media: The Weakest Link

  On Sunday night, November 30th, I sat down on my couch after a nice take out dinner with my mother to get all cozy to watch a new episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta. Oh yes, I watch that too. As I looked through the TV guide just to see what I could watch before 8pm, I first noticed that there was still a new episode of Madam Secretary over on CBS. Oh yes, unlike all other network shows, they had not gone on winter break yet, and I got excited. (Sidebar: That is one of my new favorites) I got even more excited because I realized I could watch its predecessor 60 Minutes to not only fill the time before the episode but also catch up some more about any current events. As 60 Minutes began with their overview of the show, one story really stuck out to me. It was about an ex-lion trainer who purchased a significant amount of land for full-grown lions to live in after they are given away from amusement parks. Because he had raised most of them from when they were young, the lions accepted him as one of their own as he played around in the grass and walked the land with them. I love lions so I was making sure to catch that story. But it was after 60 Minutes reviewed their whole line-up of other stories that I finally asked myself, 60 Minutes, and my mother: “And what about Ferguson?”

  The grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri to not indict Officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown had happened four days prior and inspired a large number of protests in Ferguson and all around the country following into the week. So imagine my surprise when 60 Minutes, a prominent news journal that covers so many international, national pieces of digging into society and the government (like their piece a month earlier into the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)), did not have one produced piece on these protests, or even at minimum, the decision. So after I asked that question to myself, 60 Minutes, and my mom, the only audible response I received was: “They were tired of it”.

  Two nights later on December 2nd, after any big development in America, I sought out a political favorite of mine: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart, always with the funny but logical sense, tied the ongoing protests and subsequent attempts at explanations from various correspondents into a news story termed “Instigate”. Through a compilation of soundbites from news commentators and “politicos” about Ferguson, Stewart poked holes in any explanation and descriptions these news anchors had relayed to their viewers. I laughed. Ohhh did I laugh a lot; but then I also thought. I thought the same way I did when my mom answered me with that biting response:

Dang, Broadcast Media Really Can’t Get It Right 

  Let me start out by saying I rarely watch news for many reasons, but the main one is that I always seems to find something a little off about the style of reporting. They’re not telling us everything or what exactly are they trying to tell us or I have heard it before, I don’t care are just some of the things I think about. But I am one person, a person with an education in media, opposed to the millions of viewers that tune in every night to one of these broadcasts to catch up on breaking stories and developments both local and national. Historically the news media is considered to be a fourth estate in society because of its position to inform and at many times influence the public, so it still makes sense that viewers would be tuning in. However, I have come to find that even though the influence seems to maintain its strength, that informing part is becoming more obsolete.

  When my mom proposed that the reason 60 Minutes was not covering Ferguson in their weekly special was because there had been so much more coverage before that “they were tired of it”, my next thought kind of was: but that is not their choice to make. Critically I know that airing a certain segment is exactly their choice, but there are other factors that filter into that ultimate decision that most are not aware about making that choice a little sketchy. Ownership, political affiliation, and advertising are some of the main factors, but ratings reign supreme. Broadcast news have diverted themselves into the area of entertainment programming with a strong focus more on not just their viewership, but exactly how many viewers are watching. FOX News is becoming everyones’ competition and as a result, what viewers are really getting and what I have seen from different broadcasts, especially during this time of tumultuous events in America are more: heightened and critical opinions, purposely juxtaposed positions, more focus on the sensationalizing parts of stories, “facey” showmen, and blatant “we’ve called you up to speak on this because you’re like them” or “Rev. Al Sharpton knows why” diversity. Now some of these aspects are needed when looking more in-depth into a matter for a special news reports, that is understandable; because if you’re watching television, a bit of you still needs to be captivated and every network/program knows that. Even PBS has that memo. However, it becomes a recognizable problem with broadcast media when these factors are used in an everyday matter overshadowing the main job of a news outlet: informing the public.

  Throughout everything that was developing from Ferguson, from the day of the shooting through the release of evidence, the first wave of protests to the grand jury decision and then the subsequent national protests, my source of news has been from online mediums. Some may think print media is a dying source, however I believe it is becoming stronger than ever within the electronic realm. Even earlier this week, after first receiving a news alert on my phone about another no indictment from a grand jury in Staten Island for NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, I did not go to a TV but went to social media to see what others and online news were saying. We live in an age when everything can be seen in an instance and our print media has become more instant than ever. Most breaking news I gathered came from my computer or phone through an online version of a print medium i.e. Michael Brown’s autopsy showing he was shot at least six times and reflective pieces that can strike a critical thought with its reader like Time’s What History Books Should Say About Ferguson or anything else from online magazines like Slate, Complex and The Daily Beast. These were the ones that showed more images of the peaceful protests and range of both personal and public emotions rather than a focus on any violence or rage from protestors and in turn, victimizing the aggressor. Online sources produced constant pieces from their staff, releasing the Ferguson grand jury transcript later that evening of the decision with no sideline commentary while broadcast took the transcript and nitpicked at Wilson’s testimony with repetition of certain phrases and theories throughout the day that one could read about on their own. There is also a certain anonymity from a writer that an anchor does not have. When I am reading an article I hear it in my voice if I am agreeing or even disagreeing contrary to hearing and seeing the bias ooze from a Don Lemon at CNN or Sean Hannity on FOX News with every remark they make. Yes, two different cable networks but when you take away the supposed political party bias, the same concept. And although online media is no angel of a source too, it definitely has its flaws (see post below), it still has so much more variety than being confined to a broadcast where you are not sure of what you are hearing is journalistic integrity or someone who thinks their point of view is the right one to be heard.

  Point blank: online journalism has figured out a better way to inform the public directly while broadcast is still trying to figure out how to mold their audience into something they can directly report to. I am not sure why 60 Minutes decided not to cover the Ferguson decision and national protests, but instead a man’s bond with lions; or why is it so darn easy for Jon Stewart’s team to gather so much material from national broadcasts for a comedic exposé in which he still makes a deeper critical analysis in nine minutes than their 24-hour coverage. But maybe 60 Minutes is saving their story for this week’s special or at some point Stewart won’t be able to gather an hour worth of jokes from news correspondents on such serious coverage. Things don’t make much sense nowadays, especially when it comes from the media. The best thing to do is to keep your standards low and don’t expect them to get it right. It also makes for good sport because when they actually do – get it right – ohh is it a great thing to see!

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 2.20.19 PM

The Article That Cried “Angry Black Woman”

  In the midst of fall television there are bound to be critic reports and reviews of all the new seasons and series. Some will recognize the brilliance of the writers like Slate’s Willa Paskin about The Good Wife or simply seek to inform about all that is coming up like the countless flow of articles from entertainment outlet, Entertainment Weekly. And then there are some that come out the woodworks to voice their opinions about certain subjects … but come across so asinine.

Earlier this morning (September 19, 2014), “television critic” Alessandra Stanley contributed to The New York Times what seemed to be a review about the new ABC series How To Get Away With Murder. What was featured as a review, turned into an attack on Shonda Rhimes and her depiction of diversity in her series. Not only did the article outright belittle Rhimes to an “Angry Black Woman”, a stereotype that has come so easily to powerful women of color who sometimes do not always “go with the flow”, but also Stanley continued to criticize Rhimes and her depictions of Black women in the series she has produced. Just in the beginning paragraph of the article Stanley writes, “… Ms. Rhimes, who wrought Olivia Pope on ‘Scandal’ and Dr. Miranda Bailey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ has done more to reset the image of African-American women on television than anyone since Oprah Winfrey”. After reading that, started to become all kinds of an “angry Black woman”. Yet as I continued to read, because I really wanted to see what brought Stanley to this conclusion, I started to see there was not one. Her article was filled with shallow examples, fictitious stances, and over-complicated words. It was like reading an essay that wanted to be a thesis.

I am a very big supporter of Shonda Rhimes, but I am a bigger supporter of showcasing diversity in entertainment, so when I see something like this being released in a national medium, it is not something I can lightly glaze over. I also believe that “critics” like Stanley need to be checked once in a while, especially if their points are so arbitrary. Now, I am not going to seek to also degrade Stanley such as she did Rhimes, but I am going to seek to de-bunk many of the “facts” Stanley used to support her own theory with my own personal knowledge of television, admiration of Black female characters, and you know, being a Black woman. Let’s see where exactly Alessandra Stanley got it wrong.


Wrought in Their Creator’s Image

Viola Davis Plays Shonda Rhimes’s Latest Tough Heroine

When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called “How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.”

On Thursday, Ms. Rhimes will introduce “How to Get Away With Murder,” yet another network series from her production company to showcase a powerful, intimidating black woman. This one is Annalise Keating, a fearsome criminal defense lawyer and law professor played by Viola Davis. And that clinches it: Ms. Rhimes, who wrought Olivia Pope on “Scandal” and Dr. Miranda Bailey on “Grey’s Anatomy,” has done more to reset the image of African-American women on television than anyone since Oprah Winfrey. {Oprah did not reset the image, but changed the landscape of seeing Black women at the forefront of a nationally syndicated talk show}

Ms. Rhimes didn’t just construct a series around one African-American woman. She has also introduced a set of heroines who flout ingrained television conventions and preconceived notions about the depiction of diversity. {“Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice”, her first two series were lead by White female characters}

Her women are authority figures with sharp minds and potent libidos who are respected, even haughty members of the ruling elite, not maids or nurses or office workers {something wrong with that?}. Be it Kerry Washington on “Scandal” or Chandra Wilson on “Grey’s Anatomy,” they can and do get angry. One of the more volcanic meltdowns in soap opera history was Olivia’s “Earn me” rant on “Scandal.” {see how she refers to it as ‘rant’, instead of speech, to substantiate her ‘anger’ point}

Ms. Rhimes has embraced the trite but persistent caricature of the Angry Black Woman, recast it in her own image and made it enviable {because being a ‘angry black woman’ isn’t a caricature, often quick joke that is already appropriated}. She has almost single-handedly trampled a taboo even Michelle Obama couldn’t break. {that would be First Lady Michelle Obama, and she did break it, when she became First Lady after pundits tried to label her an ‘angry Black woman’}

Her heroines are not at all like the bossy, sassy, salt-of-the-earth working-class women who have been scolding and uh-uh-ing on screen ever since Esther Rolle played Florida, the maid on “Maude.” {WHAT?, is this in your opinion?}

They certainly are not as benign and reassuring as Clair Huxtable, the serene, elegant wife, mother and dedicated lawyer on “The Cosby Show.” {this is what really got me because ‘The Cosby Show’ is my all time favorite show and I have seen every single episode, so believe me when I say that Claire Huxtable, in all her ‘serene and elegance’ still portrayed powerful anger at many points. From informing Elvin of his macho ways to screaming at Vanessa when she snuck out to go see a concert, Clair Huxtable was as much a Black woman who was at times stern, as much as she was a dedicated lawyer. Try again, Stanley} In 2008, commentators as different as the comedian Bill Cosby and the Republican strategist Karl Rove agreed that it was the shining, if fictional, example of the Huxtables that prepared America for a black president and first lady. (This was after a Fox News anchor applied the description“terrorist fist jab” to the couple’s friendly fist bump.) {your point is …}

Even now, six years into the Obama presidency, race remains a sensitive, incendiary issue not only in Ferguson, Mo., but also just about everywhere except ShondaLand, as her production company is called. {because race is now non-existent, right?}

In that multicultural world, there are many African-Americans at the top of every profession. But even when her heroine is the only nonwhite person in the room, it is the last thing she or anyone around her notices or cares about. {because it should be addressed how great it is to see that Black woman/man at the top right now, let’s make a whole storyline out of it, because this is so rare it could only happen in television}

And what is most admirable about Ms. Rhimes’s achievement is that in a business that is still run by note-giving, nit-picking, compromise-seeking network executives, her work is mercifully free of uplifting role models, parables and moral teachings. {every show has to have it, I have learned a lot from Breaking Bad}

On “Grey’s Anatomy,” Bailey is a brilliant surgeon who terrorizes interns {that was season 1-3, season 11 is premiering next week}. Olivia of “Scandal” is the mistress of a married president while also maintaining an on-again-off-again affair with a black-ops czar. {so she’s in an affair with a tyrant?}

In “How to Get Away With Murder,” Annalise is even worse: She terrifies law students and cheats on her husband. (She also betrays her lover.) {… and she’s a Black woman??!! Clutch my pearls}

Ms. Rhimes started small with Bailey, a secondary character, not a star; moved on to the charismatic best friend Dr. Naomi Bennett on “Private Practice,” now canceled; and then went big with Olivia. Now she is shooting the moon with Annalise. {hey, Shonda, can you -uh- stop putting Black women at the forefront of your hit shows?}

And Ms. Rhimes is operating on her own plane, far removed from an industry that is hypersensitive to any hint of insensitivity {I’m sorry, did that make sense?}. There are obviously many more black women on network television now, but most still are worthy sidekicks, be it the young and lovely police detective played by Nicole Beharie on “Sleepy Hollow” {who is actually more shared main character than sidekick} or the rollicking, sarcastic road-trip companion Sherri Shepherd played on “How I Met Your Mother.” {who was only a guest star, and not a main character}

C. C. H. Pounder, who played an aboveboard detective on “The Shield,” has a less-imposing {she means 4-time Emmy nominee C.C.H Pounder} gig on a new CBS spinoff, “NCIS: New Orleans.” Now she plays a warmhearted, slightly kooky medical examiner {opposed to the many strong characters she has played in shows like “ER” and “LA Law”} . If Shonda Rhimes were in charge of that show, Ms. Pounder would be the star, not Scott Bakula, and she would wear ivory and cream designer suits to crime scenes in the bayou, reign as queen of her krewe at the Mardi Gras ball and also advise the governor’s re-election campaign {Stanley asserts her problem with strong Black female characters being well dressed and in high-power situations … in the Bayou}.

As Annalise, Ms. Davis, 49, is sexual and even sexy {is there a difference?}, in a slightly menacing way, but the actress doesn’t look at all like the typical star of a network drama {we need a description of that “typical star”}. Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, Ms. Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than Ms. Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series “Extant.” {the point where we get introduced to another problem Stanley has with “HTGAWM”, Viola Davis is a different hue of Black, she thinks Black characters should only be portrayed through one shade, say a Kerry or lighter Halle shade}

Ms. Davis is perhaps best known for her role in “The Help” as a stoic maid in the segregated South, a role for which she was nominated for a best actress Oscar. As it turned out, it was her “Help” co-star Octavia Spencer, playing the sassy back talker, who won an Oscar (for supporting actress). {damn Octavia for taking that Oscar from Viola for “The Help”, even if they were in separate categories}

Maybe it’s karma, or just coincidence with a sense of humor, but some of the more memorable actresses in that movie (its star Emma Stone, who played a young writer championing civil rights, is not one of them) are now all on network television, only this time, the help {and we’re back in the 1950s} is on top. {The performances I always remember from “The Help” include Viola and Octavia’s performances, I guess that is why they received those Oscar nominations or something like that}

Allison Janney, an imperious employer in the film, now plays an ex-addict and the matriarch of three generations of poor single mothers on a CBS comedy, “Mom.”

Ms. Spencer is one of the stars of a new Fox series, “Red Band Society,” albeit in a more predictable, pre-Rhimesian role: a bossy, sharp-tongued hospital nurse who is a softy at heart. {whose fault is that?} 

Ms. Davis’s character, on the other hand, is the lead, a tenured professor who also has her own law firm: She is as highhanded as John Houseman’s character in the 1970s movie “The Paper Chase,” and as craftily enigmatic as the lawyer Glenn Close played on “Damages.”

{The mention of “The Help” seemed to have no grounding, but to relegate the actresses’ previous characters to characters they should always portray?}

The premiere episode is a cleverly constructed hoot: A group of Keating’s top first-year students compete fiendishly to win internships in her law office, then find themselves using her classroom lessons to fiendishly cover up a death. It’s a sexy murder mystery not unlike Donna Tartt’s first novel, “The Secret History,” not a nighttime soap {this is where Stanley pulls out history to prove her television criticism is of merit}. Ms. Rhimes is the show’s marquee muse, but the writer is a “Grey’s Anatomy” alumnus, Peter Nowalk {he is actually the creator, big difference}. The pilot episode of “How to Get Away With Murder” is promisingly slick and suspenseful, without all the histrionic, staccato speechifying that Ms. Rhimes favors on “Scandal.”

Scandal,” which is entering its fourth season, is more Aaron Spelling than Aaron Sorkin {that would be comparing Beverly Hills 90210 to The West Wing, doesn’t that seem way off?}, though even “Dynasty” {probably brought this up because of Diahann Carroll’s character arc, you know keeping with the theme, a Black woman} at its campiest didn’t have quite as many florid fights {what fights?} and ludicrous conspiracies. But Ms. Rhimes’s hit show has blown up the landscape a little the way “Mad Men” did when it began on AMC in 2007, including inspiring copycat fashion. The retro ’60s clothes of “Mad Men” spawned a line of clothing at Banana Republic, and now the Limited is introducing its “Scandal” collection. The ads describe it as “Fearless fashion for ladies who lead.”

The show that inspires imitators has also shamed holdouts. {who?}

Last season, when “Saturday Night Live” was under attack for not having a black woman in the cast, and Kenan Thompson, who has impersonated Maya Angelou, Whoopi Goldberg and Star Jones, refused to don another dress, it was Kerry Washington who came to the show’s rescue with an Olivia Pope-ish image makeover. {No, Kerry really was going back and forth, imitating First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, to shed light on how there are so many Black women that could be portrayed on the show, but there is always just one member who can portray these figures}

As a guest host, Ms. Washington was very funny in a number of skits designed by “S.N.L.” to mock and defuse the issue without stirring further offense {got it a little right here}. Soon after, the show hired Sasheer Zamata, its first black woman since Maya Rudolph left the show in 2007. The show suddenly seems to be on a diversity jag: On the season premiere this month, another black comedian, the newcomer Michael Che, will make his debut as an anchor of “Weekend Update.” {it seems that Stanley believes that SNL has no obligation to try and diversify their cast, even if since Sasheer was added to the cast last season, they’ve been able to handle race more in a comical way with sketches like “Black Jeopardy” and “28 Reasons”}.

Ms. Rhimes is a romance writer who understands the need for more spice than sugar; her heroines are mysterious, complicated and extravagantly flawed, often deeply and interestingly. They struggle with everything except their own identities, so unconcerned about race that it is barely ever mentioned. {This is where I definitely doubt if Stanley has ever seen an episode of any of Rhimes’s work. This past season of “Scandal”, Eli Pope (Joe Morton) addressed race, more prominently, in the first, mid break, and last episode. Yet, it is possible that his cautious tales and phrases about racial identity went over her head as just another ‘histrionic’}

They have innate dignity, not the cautious facade of propriety {mumbo-jumbo} that Wanda Sykes mocks in routines about her mother’s not allowing her children to dance in front of white people. Ms. Sykes played the wisecracking sidekick on “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and reined in her more outré material for a short-lived sitcom on Fox, “Wanda at Large.” In her stand-up act, she spoke knowingly about the minefield awaiting Mrs. Obama after the first inauguration.

“Who is the real Michelle Obama? When will we see the real Michelle Obama?” she intoned, parodying news commentators. “You know what they’re saying: When are we going to see this?” she said as she burst into an animated pantomime of every angry-black-woman gesture, frown and eye roll.

Nobody thinks Shonda Rhimes is holding back and nobody is asking to see the real Shonda Rhimes. She’s all over the place. {Shonda is all over television, this theory is all over the place. Thank you Alessandra Stanley for once again perpetuating society’s problem to nitpick a powerful woman of color and a creation of multifaceted characters. I hope you have heard/seen the backlash from Rhimes’s supporters and employees (actors of all colors). Please don’t think your criticism of television will ever hold water over me. Because to you, Shonda Rhimes may be an ‘angry Black woman’, but to a Black woman like myself, she is a creative genius.}


Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 2.25.51 PM

 
For the full article without my commentary, you can find it here
Also to see Shonda Rhimes casual rebuttal, it’s on her Twitter timeline (@shondarhimes). Go Shonda, go! 

*Update*

Monday morning, September 22, NYTimes Public Editor Margaret Sullivan published an editorial explaining both the uproar over the article and what supposedly Alessandra Stanley was attempting to get across.

Full Article

To circle both sides, Sullivan provides criticism from a Black female subscriber who commented that Stanley’s stance came across “racist, ignorant, and arrogant” and called for the removal of Stanley. On the other end, Sullivan expressed the further comments she received from Stanley which included that her intentions throughout the whole piece was to praise Rhimes for pushing back against the stereotype, “- once you read past the first 140 characters”.

Margaret Sullivan has updated her post since earlier this morning with more defense from Stanley and her publishing editors who all claim that they saw nothing offensive of the piece, but the “praise” Stanley claims to have written throughout the article. Once again, her defense seems to have cemented that she still undermines the intelligence of her audience and was not clear on who or for whom she was writing this for. I also question these editors, and the creative sarcasm they must have gotten from this piece. I certainly didn’t get it, did you?

5 Things We Can Expect from Season 4 of ABC’s Scandal

10609694_913435545352895_9168265894010984028_n

  Thank you ABC, another wait is over and we are hours away from a new season of SCANDAL! As always, the season finale left us in a disarray and already grasping for the next episode, knowing it would be months away. But behold, those months are in the past and we’re getting back our taste of manipulating, fast-paced, romantic, disgusting (thanks Huckleberry Quinn) and twisted D.C.. Once again, I am so ready to see it all.

tumblr_mqc33yhjyG1s6qnefo1_400

Last we were with our DC favorites, most had become little toys in Rowan Pope’s masterful game of vengeance and rolling stone status. By the looks and clues of season 4, it has made a major ripple effect onto our beautiful Scandal players. We pick up with them about three months after President Fitzgerald Grant III’s re-election to what may be a more solemn White House than celebratory due to Jerry Jr.’s sudden death/murder, a next-to-nonexistent Olivia Pope & Associates office missing its “O”, a David Rosen with all the B613 secrets from Jake, and a possibly reunited Huck family … or not. The details in its return may be hard to figure, but I always like to get my sources together and attempt to hack into the minds of Ms. Rhimes and the Scandal writers. I’ve been quite successful in the past figuring out some of the twists & turns, like when Eli/Rowan was revealed as Olivia’s father (called it), but still got blind sighted by Billy Chambers being The Mole (never saw that coming). Basically, I get some good intel/ideas of what will be going down. So for you all, my people, I have come to the conclusion of five things we can expect from the fourth season of Scandal, premiering Tonight at 9pm starting with episode one: “Randy, Red, Superfreak and Julia”! Oooo!

1. In Memoriam of Harrison Wright 

It’s no secret that Columbus Short has had a set of tumultuous months which culminated with Harrison’s questionable cliffhanger. When we last saw Harrison, Tom (Undercover Secret Service agent for B613) had a silenced gun to his head after confronting Rowan about his master plan to become Command again. We were left wondering if the shot was actually taken or Papa Pope would let Harrison live – in exchange for his soul, naturally. But through an official statement & some “their still my family” tweets earlier this summer, Short departed (was let go) from the hit show. #RIPHarrison.

For OPA (Olivia Pope & Associates for my newcomers), this leaves them one gladiator short and will provoke moments in the show we can expect them to engage in some individual mourning. Hopefully this only lasts for the first couple of episodes, and doesn’t drag on. Olivia only gave Stephen an afterthought when he left for a “normal life” after the first season. But then again, this is death. This also could be one of the main reasons why Jake & Olivia return from their unknown, “beachy” destination. Yet for the rest of the season, we can expect that every witness manipulated & cell phone tossed, they do it in memoriam for Harrison Wright, the one that made us all believe we were gladiators in suits.

 

2. *to the tune of Parliament’s Flashlight* FLASH. BACK. Duh-duh-duh-duh- Abby Wheelan

Season 3 was definitely the season of Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) as we received a lot more insight into the backstory of the First Lady. Through some devastating scenes and heart-turning monologues, we found out the backbone of Mellie’s characteristics and her difficulty with Fitz today. I don’t know about you all, but I also fell in more love of the love/hate relationship I had for her from season 1-2. Expect the same for gun-toting, David-loving, sassy Abby Wheelan (Darby Stanchfield).

Hopefully we’ll finally get flashbacks of her when she was in that political relationship and how exactly she got out of it. We already know she was a real kind of “Stepford housewife” from flashbacks in prior seasons and it was when her husband gave her bruised ribs, that Olivia broke her out by taking a weapon of sorts to the husband’s knees. Here’s to seeing that specific sequence! In present time, we also may see more leadership from Abby taking what’s left of the reigns for OPA, if there is any at all. After Stephen & Harrison, technically she’s next in line for Liv’s right hand person; and with this promo shot Darby Stanchfield had no trouble hinting at some kind of time spent leading in a type of capacity.

3. Fitz Still Over Troubled Water 

Oh Fitzy-Fitz-Fitz-fitz. Sure, President Fitzgerald Grant III (Tony Goldwyn) was re-elected but at a very large cost of his own child. And at the rate he was going last season, some things were bound to come back and bite him in the arse … hard. It’s no secret that Fitz developed some enemies last season, Eli Pope, and some fans turned into haters, me; still, no kind of character ever deserves a death of their child especially for it to be a revengeful murder. Not only did everything come back to bite Fitz in his back all at once, but he is also still stuck in the one place he has hated the most: the Oval Office.

So expect to see Fitz possibly in a dreary place or a state of delusion as he balances the presidency and of course, searching for Olivia. I’m not sure if he’s aware that Olivia went AWOL with his frenemy Jake, but I can foresee some always interesting and testy exchanges with Cyrus and Mellie, who still is not handling Jerry Jr.’s death well.

4. Time changes, Sexiness stays. 

Scandal will begin at 9 pm eastern. I write again, Scandal will begin at 9 pm eastern. Don’t you dare turn your TV on at 10 pm with your “popcorn & wine”, because you will begin to watch How To Get Away With Murder, it may be good but it will not be Scandal. Worst case scenario, you may forget, turn on the TV to watch Grey’s Anatomy, and get surprised by Scandal. You would have still missed Grey’s, but hey, you got Scandal. So let’s break it down for all certainties: Grey’s at 8 pm, Scandal at 9 pm, and Murder at 10 pm. Good? Good.

Now just because it has moved up an hour, we do not have to be worried about all those sexy times for basically every character will cease to exist this season. (Although I believe for most of us, we can do without some Huck/Quinn time for a bit [shudders]) Expect the same level of scantily clad doctors we have seen on Grey’s to transfer to scantily clad lawyers, assassins, and cabinet members on Scandal.

     

I don’t think there’s anything we’ve done at 9 that we can’t do at 8, and I’m not about to change the content of what my show is to match some arbitrary rule.”,

Aaaaah yeah! 

5. It’s aaaall about Olivia Pope again 

Comparing season 3 to its others, it’s apparent it was a less Olivia Pope driven season than the past ones. I didn’t hate it, we were able to see more depth from the other characters, but after about the fifth episode we really began to see less of Olivia. It’s no big secret why we didn’t see much of her, but when we did in fact see Liv, it was less of the side we love to watch. Mellie, Fitz, Huck, almost every one had their way with her and it all came full circle when Olivia made the decision to just leave D.C. … and with Jake. (Ohhh that beautiful Jake/Scott Foley) 

So when we finally get back to Olivia, we may first see her in a little less clothing than usual, possibly a bathing suit, unpressed hair, some sunglasses, and sipping a sangria (you know, cause that’s technically wine). Maybe staring at the water as Jake arises from the waves shaking his head, dripping wit— whew okay, thinking too much. Anyways, we’ll be seeing her in a “different space”, which I am excited to see what that exactly is. So when Olivia gets back to D.C. because she eventually will, and when OPA gets back together, because that will eventually happen, we will be back to more cases of the week and some good ole “Olivia-centric” storytelling with hopefully, her classic “don’t mess with me, I’m Olivia Pope” attitude.

tumblr_mjbbmhX3ln1qlyrm7o6_250IMG_5433


  With all this information and little things revealed, to be honest, I still don’t know what to fully expect from this upcoming season. We’ve heard that Portia di Rossi has a guest appearance arc, we’ve seen Fitz calling everywhere for Olivia, I heard Papa Pope (Joe Morton) will be back with his Shakespearean monologues (who won an Emmy for his guest appearance). Still, those seem like such small details in the larger picture Shonda has designed to mess with our emotions.

“We’re in a very different spot and everybody has wiped clean, and anything goes in a weird way” … 

aka we can never feel safe watching Scandal.

tumblr_mmi8uiGJVP1r3gqtzo1_250

But I guess I likes to live on the edge because I’ll be watching every single second. The first five minutes I may even be smiling. No matter what, Scandal will surely give me life again in this premiere-filled week, and ABC, I will #TGIT (Thank God, it’s Thursday) once again.

 
Anybody looking forward to something specifically? Catch me live tweeting/delay tweeting this season! @spankinstephiee 

Checking Out & Committed To: My Fall 2014 TV List

tumblr_ms9imbeuIw1sdop8po1_500 copy

  Aaaaaah YEAH! It’s that beautiful time of the year. The temperature takes a little drop, sweaters will begin to come out, leaves will change and primetime television is reignited with stacked schedules of fresh programming from 8 pm to 10pm. Sunday thru Friday. Drama to Comedy. Thirty minutes to an Hour. Y’all, fall shows are back!

tumblr_n0cpkbHhNQ1ru72puo1_r1_400

Each season, I highly anticipate the return of my favorites especially if their “don’t care about my feelings” producers and writers leave me grasping for more like Robert & Michelle King (The Good Wife), Shonda Rhimes (Scandal), and Alex Kurtzman (Sleepy Hollow). [Point of clarification: these people are part of teams that stay messing with my life] In addition to those returning, there are also a couple of new series I’ll be checking out to see if the publicity matches the material. This fall there are a handful of new series that I am really excited for, and if you are not a TV over-lover, such as myself, I still think you may want to take a look at what’s going to be on. I have yet to watch a full episode of these new series or new seasons, but I’m gathering my opinion through trailers, sneak peaks, articles and critic reviews. Ultimately people, after a long day of work, class, hustlin’- whatever, there’s going to be some good viewing to unwind to, and I want you to be aware of that! So let’s talk about some shows worth checking out, and some great ones I’m committed to which you may want to finally hop on.


Checking Out 

Madam Secretary (premieres Sunday, 9/21 at 8 pm on CBS) | Former CIA analyst, now college professor, Elizabeth McCord is suddenly called to fill an open position. That call comes from the President of the United States, and the position is Secretary of State. 

Madam Secretary – First Look

All I know is that this cast is lead by veteran Téa Leoni (Fun with Dick & Jane) who brings both a down-to-earth charisma, and commanding personality to her character. It seems that McCord comes across as the woman you want on your team and never want to cross. Tony-Award winner Patina Miller makes an appearance as a member of the pre-assembled team for McCord, and it looks like there may be some witty banter between all; including an early exchange between McCord and one of her college students, perhaps foreshadowing her approach to D.C.

Gotham (premieres Monday 9/22 at 8 pm on FOX) | We get introduced to the city of Gotham not from a superhero’s point of view, but from average citizen and one of Batman’s biggest supporter, a young Detective Jim Gordon. It’s the horrid Gotham we love to watch but would be scared to live in. 

Worth checking out because why would you not watch a project set in Gotham? Not only do we get a different perspective from Detective Gordon who has always been the second or third storyline to the caped crusader, but also we will get to see the development of some of the most heinous villains like Riddler and Penguin. Still, don’t expect to see Batman dropping down in dark alleys anytime soon as it looks like we get introduced to a very young Bruce Wayne, the witness to a crime Batman fans know all too well. 

State of Affairs (*premieres Monday, 11/17 at 10 pm on NBC) | Katherine Heigl is a CIA analyst, Charleston Tucker, who gets moved from the field to report directly to the President about America’s highest critical threats.  

I’m giving this one a slight gander because Katherine Heigl is back. Cool. Alfre Woodard is in it. Nice. Heigl is a CIA analyst who reports directly to the President about national threats. Okay. Alfre Woodard plays the President who lost a son to terrorist actions and aids Tucker’s direction in finding those responsible for his murder, who also was her fiancé. Yep, they got me.  

State of Affairs Trailer

black-ish (premieres Wednesday 9/24 at 9:30 pm on ABC) | It’s like the generational show for every Black child who was once and still is that “token one” and what if your family decided to teach you how to fully embrace it. Like if your Black non-Jewish parents let you have a bar mitzvah, but made it 1980s hip hop themed. Well that’s what the show’s family, the Johnsons, would do. 

Giving it a slot in my week because the title. 

… Just kidding. … but really, it’s the like the perfect title that describes something to those who can understand but still leave us wondering what it will still really be about. Also for those who have no idea what the title could entail, you could see something different. No matter if it hits or misses, it’s certainly a conversation starter. Did I mention Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross are the parents of this household? And Laurence Fishburne as one knowledgeable grandparent to four Black grandchildren? 10 points in diversity for ABC.

How To Get Away With Murder (premieres Thursday 9/25 at 10 pm on ABC) | When law school students take “getting an ‘A’” too seriously to impress their law professor who is also a demanding, powerful, no nonsense attorney. And like any Shonda-produced drama, things get a little cray … cray. 

Look everybody: it’s a six-word show title, this has to be good! There’s two-time Oscar nominee Viola Davis taking her talents to TV in a role that is described as powerful, sexy, and messy. If you look close enough in the trailer, you could even briefly see some other scandalous acting ability that Viola rarely uses. Plus, who doesn’t love to watch a group of competitive fresh faces slowly be tested and tainted. Uh, I think we all do. 

How To Get Away With Murder – Trailer


Committed To … But You Should Check It Out 

The Good Wife (premieres Sunday 9/21 at 9 pm on CBS) | All you need to know is that this show came off its best season yet, and the writers/producers will seek to keep it there. Last we left Cook County, Alicia Florrick was propositioned to run for State’s Attorney, new Governor Peter Florrick was in the midst of a bad decision, and Diane Lockhart secretly pitched leaving her own firm to join Alicia’s. I have also learned that Sir Taye Diggs will have a recurring guest spot, and his character will be one to remember. DAMMIT, IT’S THE BEST SHOW ON TELEVISION PEOPLE! 

Sleepy Hollow (premieres Monday 9/22 at 9 pm on FOX) | At first I was afraid, I was petrified because the show is freakin’ scary! But now a scary I love to watch. I can’t even go into much detail because the basis of the show is already so intricate. The chemistry and budding partnership between English time-traveler Ichabod Crane (cutie Tom Mison) and local detective Abbie Mills (my girl Nicole Beharie) is reason enough to begin watching, and if you have ever questioned anything about American history like why Benedict Arnold became a traitor, Sleepy Hollow has a tale for you.

American Horror Story: Freak Show (*premieres Wednesday 10/8 at 10 pm on FX) | I watch some twisted isht sometimes so I get that kind of fix from American Horror Story because, it gives it to me. This new game, same players season is so out there that it has been paralleled more to AHS: Asylum than the last season of glamorous witches in AHS: Coven. You know how I can already tell this comparison will hold water? Ryan Murphy gave Sarah Paulson two heads and Angela Bassett three breasts. Do the math, isht is already twisted. 

American Horror Story: Freak Show

Scandal (premieres Thursday 9/25 at 9 pm on ABC) | Psh. I mean if you haven’t found a reason yet to check out at least one episode of the show that took America by storm after its first season aired and during its second season (seriously, I witnessed it), then I’m not sure what to tell you. If you finally want to take a glance, it begins an hour earlier than its past seasons. Remember that, don’t be that person. But for all my Gladiators who are waiting patiently to see what the heck is going on, know that Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) was seen on a beach. I physically saw it. That’s all I got.

(… And another post fully dedicated on what to expect in the upcoming season) 

Parenthood (premieres Thursday 9/25 at 10 pm on NBC) | The final season. All the more reason to give an eye to this family drama. It’s not so much for the ones who can cry on the drop a dime, because then you’ll probably cry so much in an episode you won’t actually be watching it. Seriously, it takes a lot for me to cry during a show and I have probably cried at least twice each season. Some happy tears, some heartbreaking.

According to my sources, this last season will not be holding back on the emotion scale. Jesus, be a fence. It is a greatly underestimated show, so before they go, and you’re looking for some good ole family TV, take some time to hang with the Bravermans over on NBC. 


  Hopefully this provided you a little insight into one or two shows you can fill some idle time or your DVR with, like I will be doing. I also can’t forget about mentioning the returns of Modern Family (premieres Wednesday, 9/24 at 9 pm on ABC), Grey’s Anatomy (premieres Thursday, 9/25 at 8 pm on ABC) and The Newsroom (premieres Sunday, 11/9 at 10 pm on HBO), ones that will also be on my list, and fine programming as well. For some of these new series which are actually producing different stories and a diverse list of characters, I hope they in fact do live up to the hype. So as the week of September 21st begins, you can find me live-tweeting or delay tweeting (ya girl is werkin’ too) about my favorite shows bringing me TV life, and hopefully some of these new ones satisfying me. Even if its ten episodes until the mid break or a kind of janky storyline in the beginning: damn, it still feels good to have my shows back!

 
Did I miss anything? Should I check out a returning show or new series? Let me know! Comment or tweet me, I’m always looking for some fine entertainment.

66th Primetime Emmys: The Year Funny Happened

emmy-2014-logo
Here we are again! The tumultuous weekend of award shows and full season concluded last night with the Emmys. I do love television, so I do love the Emmys. But opposed to last year, when the Emmys seemed to be a full show dedicated to those who had passed and became very depressing, this Emmys brought the funny back. From the first minute of Seth Meyer’s opening monologue all the way to Bryan Cranston’s acceptance speech, the show definitely had more ups and downs. So let’s discuss some of my favorite moments of this year’s Emmys.
 
The moment Seth Meyers started his opening monologue, the jokes were raining down. He also hit every oddity and got rid of any elephant in the room about this telecast in the first three jokes of his monologue. See:
 
“(1) This year, we’re doing the Emmys on a Monday night in August, which, if I understand television, means the Emmys are about to get canceled. (2) We’re doing this show on Monday in part because MTV aired the Video Awards last night. That’s right, MTV still has an awards show for music videos, even though they no longer show music videos. (3) That’s like network TV holding an awards show and giving all the trophies to cable and Netflix. That would be crazy”
 
After his monologue, Seth continued his bit by introducing his good friend Amy Poehler as Beyoncé. I can’t even lie, for a second my heart jumped and I thought she had actually stayed in town to bless the Emmys with her presence. But having Amy walk up like her was just as good.
 
Some other bits that really had me laughing was when Seth conducted a Q&A with the audience. What we heard were some of the funniest and clueless questions from Jon Hamm (Mad Men) not being aware the show was live to Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) asking if her car would get towed during the ceremony and then Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife) wondering since Maggie Smith was not at the ceremony (like every other year), if Smith wins, can she have the award? The best was when straight-faced Andre Braugher (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) asked about using the bathroom, but he needed the bathroom key. Josh Charles (The Good Wife) emerged with the key which was attached to its own Emmy statuette, mirroring either a lack of trust in the industry or going to the bathroom at the Emmys is like going to the bathroom at a drug store.
 
 
We got more of some vintage Weekend Update back-and-forth lines between Amy and Seth to introduce bromance Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson (True Detective), but his best collaboration came with my favorite Billy on the Street’s Bill Eichner. If you have never seen his show, you should stop reading this and youtube it first, then come back and continue. Billy basically runs the street of New York City, sometimes with a celebrity, shouting questions and quizzing complete strangers. In a pre-taped clip, Seth joined Billy running up to unaware people with questions about the Emmys. My personal favorite part was of course when Billy ran down the street shouting “THE GOOD WIFE WAS SNUBBED”. Thank you Billy. Without ruining any of the jokes, please watch the whole video.
There was the force of Bryan Cranston and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. As they presented the award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy, JDL reminisced about her time on Seinfeld and a particular kiss with a guest star. Bryan interjected that guest was in fact him. But not caring to remember who it was, JDL continued with the presentation. What was to come next was the craziest and greatest thing. For her third year in a row, Julia’s name was announced for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy, and as she made her way to the stage, Bryan got up from his seat, grabbed Julia, and made her remember that was in fact him on Seinfeld.
 
 
Jimmy Kimmel teased Matthew McConaughey about just winning the Oscar for Best Actor and now being up for Lead Actor in a Drama.
 
“You just won an Oscar six months ago. No offense, but how many of those speeches of yours are we supposed to sit through? Alright alright alright already. Should we give you the BET award for best male hip-hop artist while we’re at it?”
 
Weird Al took some show’s theme songs that say nothing in them and added his own lyrics to describe the show. And Ricky Gervais came out again with his ode to losing.
 
       
 
There were some weird exchanges like the failed joke of Allison Janney and Octavia Spencer on stage together to introduce the sequel to “The Help”. No. Then after introducing the President of the Academy, Sofia Vergara was told to stand on a rotating podium as the President made his annual speech. This lasted for the whole two minutes, and I could only imagine the cringing of women in the audience, we’ve traveled so far, yet can still be considered a good joke. Lastly, Gwen Stefani became the new John Travolta when she announced The COL-BURT Report as the winner of Outstanding Variety Program. Jimmy Fallon played into it as he accepted the award, saying “She said it wrong, so it could be a mistake”.
 
Oh’s and What?’s rang when no one won from The Normal Heart in the category of Supporting Actor in a Mini-Series, Movie. Actually out of the six nominees, two were not from the cast of the HBO movie, so it was shocking when one of those two did take home the trophy. However, The Normal Heart did take the overall award of Outstanding Mini-Series, Movie bringing the audience to a standing ovation as playwright and AIDS activist Larry Kramer took the stage with the team.
 
 
American Horror Story: Coven came out strong winning both Supporting Actress in a Mini-Series for Kathy Bates, and Lead Actress in a Mini-Series for Jessica Lange. Angela Bassett, Sarah Paulson, and Frances Conroy were also nominated. I’m so happy they’re all returning for the next season!
 
 
One of the most heart-touching moments of the night was the In Memoriam tribute accompanied with live song from Sara Bareilles. It was nothing short of beautiful. The screen flashed many photos and clips of the great ones we had lost over the last year, with so many familiar faces. Then Billy Crystal appeared on stage to give a special tribute to Robin Williams. Filled with memories and stories, we were given a peak into the lasting friendship of him and Robin. The tribute ended with clips of Robin Williams doing some of his most classic impressions, and as he was shown walking off a stage, the most respectful moment of silence was held.
 
 
For its fifth consecutive year, Modern Family was awarded Outstanding Comedy, a disappointment for some, like me.
 
Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 3.23.15 PM
 
And Breaking Bad was awarded Outstanding Drama for its last season.
 
 
Julianna Margulies took home Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. THANK GOD. Although, I am always pulling for Kerry Washington and the Emmys definitely messed up last year for not giving her the Emmy, by season comparison, The Good Wife and Alicia Florrick deserved something. In her acceptance speech, Julianna stood up for broadcast series and the work they put in for 22 episodes, a small stab at the takeover of cable series with only 13 episodes. I’ll say it again, The Good Wife put on the best 22-episode season I have ever seen, and it’s a shame the Academy did not recognize it.
 
 
 
It’s kind of like the continuous lack of awards for diverse nominees. Although this year we saw more Black nominees than the past 37 years with 11, only 2 were awarded for Guest Actor in a Drama to Joe Morton (Scandal) and Guest Actress in a Comedy to Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) at the Creative Primetime Emmys. It is great to see so many nominated, but there are still more strides to be taken to reflect the current state of television. Julianna exclaimed in her speech “What a wonderful time for women on television”, and it is. That is why their categories are so strong and competitive. Like for women though, there have been some amazing roles with diversity, so I do challenge the Emmys in these years coming to expand on this 11 nominations and 2 winners of people of color. Maybe it is my optimism, but I can see it happening in television sooner than film.
 
With all that said, these Emmys were a great way to conclude this awards season which has been filled with just about everything. I’m content with this season ending because that means it’s getting closer to fall season with series premieres and season premieres of all sorts. YES!
 
 
Special Mentions
Lizzy Caplan – Best Dressed
 
 
 
Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.04.02 PM
 
Although it was on a Monday, did anyone else watch it? What did you think?

For more highlights, acceptance speeches, and photos from the show you can check out nbc.com
 

Video Music Awards 2014: Highs, Okay? & WTH?! Moments

980x551

Well MTV has brought us another Video Music Awards filled with moon-men giving and performances of sort. Yet this year seemed a bit lack luster from its former years. Lackluster I say, until about 10:55 pm/et. when the greatest performer alive single-handedly saved the reputation of the show. More on that later. Still, there were moments that definitely had me not only enjoy the twitter commentary that was going on, but also question what was really going on this year at the VMAs.

Since the highs of the show were just so sky-high, I’m saving those for last, so I’ll be working backwards as I discuss my picks for the High, Okay? and WTH?! Moments of the 2014 VMA’s.

 

WTH?!

Lack of audience | It seemed like just about everyone in popular music would be there and even with the pre-show red carpet interviews and arrivals, that is what we saw before the big show. Yet when the show started, beyond the ground level, there seemed to be groups of empty seats. The coverage and direction of the show did not make me think anything different. Every 5-10 minutes, we would certainly get a view of Taylor Swift & “friend of the time”, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus or the Kardashians. This repetitiveness of appearances and casual shots of empty red seats left me wondering if MTV was able to fill the Forum this year?

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 12.58.46 PM

Not to mention these shots always seemed to show everyone looking so bored, instead of showing celebs who were actually having fun like Laverne Cox. But this was only used for the online audience-access that no one actually watches.

The robbing of Sam Smith | Arguably one of the most beautiful voices, Sam Smith, has stormed onto both our radio waves and hearts this year. Between his top single Stay With Me and featured track Latch, if you are not familiar with the man, you’re at least familiar with his voice. So color me livid when an award called “Artist to Watch” is left up to a text-in vote and a mass of viewers, probably under the age of 18, vote the pop girl group Fifth Harmony as the winner. If you listened closely, you may have heard gasps from the show audience or a collective “WHO” from the ages of 20+.

 

OKAY?
Jay Pharaoh is the Host .. or is he? | The last time I remember the VMA’s advertising they had a host was 2012 when Kevin Hart was given the job. Unfortunately, that’s all I remember and nothing else about the show. This year, the performances were all that was advertised. So when Saturday Night Live cast member Jay Pharaoh took the stage with some pretty corny pre-written jokes, I thought this will passmaybe next year Jay. But then he came back in his classic impersonation of Jay Z, and then later, he came back again as Kanye West. I got confused and Essence Magazine tweeted it best:

Robin Williams tribute | Now that I think about it, I don’t think the VMAs has ever had a kind of In Memoriam tribute, so I was pleased that they recognized the untimely passing of the great Robin Williams. My okay? came when it began with no introduction and over the cheering for Fifth Harmony who had just robbed Sam Smith of the Artist to Watch award. My emotions could not adjust properly for what seemed to be a 30-second slideshow. But for self-assurance, I know the Primetime Emmys will save this one. It’s already been announced that Billy Crystal will say some words for the tribute. That’s how you segue. 

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 12.29.12 PM

 

Highs
We all would’ve stayed with Sam Smith | I already talked about the amazing talents of Sam Smith earlier when he was robbed of an award. To make it worse, that actually took place after he performed an acoustic, chilling rendition of “Stay With Me”. His voice echoed through the venue making everyone collectively get goosebumps as he hit. every. single. note. With one of the most soulful voices, Sam Smith definitely brought something the show definitely could have missed.
Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 12.31.24 PM

#Ferguson | I have actually watched a decent amount of MTV over these last few weeks because I can always use a good fix of The Hills in their morning throwback lineup. But what really caught my attention was their strong PSA’s about the shooting of Mike Brown and subsequent protest in Ferguson. The information was big and straightforward, easy reading for any viewer. So I was very relieved that they continued this support when socially conscious rapper/actor/one of my boos, Common, spoke about the historical connection of hip-hop and social issues. Before presenting the award for Best Hip-Hop video, Common lead a moment of silence for Mike Brown and I gave props to MTV for that small bit of necessary social awareness for the night.

Beyoncé’s World | Before the show even began, the term “BeyMA’s” was being thrown around. MTV had already heavily advertise that Beyoncé would receive the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award after putting on a “performance of her life”. So naturally I assumed that the majority of the viewers, like me, were tuning into the show, but only waiting for one person: Beyoncé. Even at the Forum and the cameras shot to the audience during other performances, there was an overall thought going through everyone’s mind “when is she coming on?”. And then at approximately 10:55 pm/et., it began. The Queen had come to grace us with her presence, to educate us on how a real performer performs, to take our lives, edges, wigs, whatever you would give up, and to overall just claim her argued status as the greatest living performer. To achieve all of this, Beyoncé decided to not just perform a compilation of her hits and singles, but her latest album BEYONCÉ for the full 15 minute performance. So believe me when my heart began to palpitate like I was physically at her concert as she emerged onto the screen in one of her classic bejeweled bodysuits, and her voice hit the first note for Mine. When she announced “MTV, welcome to my world”, it was when I realized this is in fact her world, and we are just living in it.
 

I enjoyed every single second, but life was really given for me when Bey and her standard group of dancers: swung their hair and hip to the disco beat of Blow, “surboart-ed” for Drunk in Love, and just when someone would think she would skip the sexual melody, Rocket, the worldly infamous curved chair was put center stage as Bey strutted towards it to sit her assssss on it. After a few flips and leg swings, drums dropped and Partition began setting the mood for a short, but appreciated pole dance; just so everyone is sure, she can do that too. Bey then glided across stage to the flashing of words from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TEDx message, perfectly hitting center with FEMINIST behind her, and the stage was once again cranked with high-energy as the hardcore beat of Flawless filled the Forum.

Bey asked the crowd how we woke up? and from my living room I claimed “I woke up like dis”. We heard her riff a part of Yoncé, probably leaving those who do not really know how one can yoncé all on his mouth like liquor. And as if our hearts could not take anymore, Bey launched into her daughter’s anthem Blue with Blue right in the audience sitting on Jay Z’s lap before dedicating XO to us, her fans. The most amazing performance seemed to continue when Jay stepped on stage to hand the Vanguard Award to his wife with Blue on his hip. The love was apparent and strong. Rumors be gone, the world saw The Carters as a unit. It was nothing short of a theatrical performance of perfection worthy of a Queen.


 

Surely the VMA’s were packed with other musical performances, some memorable than others. There was some good presenting and a small sampling of comedic bits, weird production choices and questionable correspondents. But it was truly Beyoncé’s night and nothing else proved otherwise. Because like 2009 with Kanye confronting Taylor Swift, and in 2011 as she signaled pregnancy, when Beyoncé is at the VMA’s, the VMA’s revolve around Beyoncé.

For all the highlights, performances, and to watch Beyoncé multiple times, check out the show at mtv.com