The Big C: Hereafter – Ruminations on the truth & consequences of death

the-big-c-hereafter-3The Big C is a tough show.  It’s always been a tough show.  It is a show about a woman with cancer learning to live her life through that lens.  People die on this show.  Not because of something supernatural or even un-natural (such as murder), but because they get sick and they die.  That is heavy, heavy stuff.  That the show was able to explore all of this heavy stuff with a sense of humor (gallows humor most of the time, but still) is miraculous and beautiful.  But this latest installment, The Big C: Hereafter – what Showtime is calling a “limited series event” – is something else entirely.  Because it’s not about a woman living with cancer, it is about a woman actively dying of cancer.  And it is sad.  And it is stunning.  And it is compassionate.  And I believe that it is some of the most revolutionary television I’ve ever seen. Continue reading

Homeland: Proof that risky story telling pays off

Carrie (Claire Danes) and Brody (Damian Lewis) meet up for a drink before everything gets blown to smithereens (metaphorically this time)

I liked the first season of Homeland.  It was a tense thriller with a strong (meaning well-defined) female character at its center starring one of my favorite actresses – what’s not to like?  It definitely had moments of surprise, but for the most part, the plot seemed to sort of chug along to inevitable conclusions – No one believed Carrie about hero Brody’s involvement with a terrorist, Brody does not go through with the bombing of the Vice President et al, Brody still looks like a hero and Carrie gets locked away in the loony bin.  These endings felt set up from the beginning.  But all of that left me wondering where the show was going to go during its second season.  I find that character based shows can often go on indefinitely because you can always put your character in new situations to react to.  But Homeland, while it has great characters, wasn’t really a character based story in its first season.  It was the story of a C.I.A. Agent trying to take down a spy and capture a terrorist.  From the outside, it appeared to be plot driven – but don’t tell the Homeland writers that.

Carrie with her new surveillance partner Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend). Is he going to stick around now that there’s no one to secretly surveil?

Last night, Homeland basically blew up its main plot!  After finally being proven right about Brody’s nefarious intentions, Carrie and Saul set up a new surveillance (welcome back Virgil & Max!) to see if they could ferret out his handler and build a case against Nazir.  However, after “bumping into” Brody and then having one drink with him, Carrie brazenly called him out as being a spy and took him into custody.  WHAT!?!?  I don’t think I was ever necessarily bored with Homeland, but I certainly had become complacent to its awesomeness and the end of last night’s episode ripped me right out of my comfort zone.  Homeland just threw the rule book out of the window.  It proved that taking risks and subverting an audiences expectations just draws them in even more.  I cannot wait to see how the writers get themselves out of the corner they’ve painted themselves into.  For the first time in a long time, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see what’s going to happen next.

Finn (Timothee Chalamet) and Dana (Morgan Saylor) adorably try to stop being adorable.

P.S. What’s going on with Brody’s daughter Dana and the Vice President’s son, Finn?  I mean, I know what’s going on – they’re being totally adorable and teenagery and awesome – but in the grand scheme of things, how will it fit in?  One of my absolute favorite relationships on this show is the one between Brody and Dana.  They have a great connection and a great honesty between them that is really refreshing.  But she trusts her dad a little too much and is bound for some great big hurt and that makes me really sad.  It also makes me think that her relationship with Finn is more than just a cute aside.  Am I being too conspiracy theorist?

Shameless Season Finale: The tears. Oh my God, the tears.

While I'm not sure Fiona (Emmy Rossum) and Jimmy (Justin Chatwin) will get their Happily Ever After, at least they're together for the moment.

The season 2 finale of Shameless was rough you guys.  As if last week’s one-two punch of Monica’s suicide attempt and finding out that Karen’s baby wasn’t Lip’s wasn’t enough, this week we saw the aftermath of Thanksgiving raining down on the Gallagher clan – HARD.  The opening minutes that saw Jimmy/Steve and Fiona cleaning up the kitchen floor was devastating and somehow also reassuring and hopeful.  Fiona seems to have found someone to share her burdens with – meaning, not just someone to help her take care of the kids, but someone to help take care of her.  Despite the fact that Jimmy is married (please, get rid of the Brazilian who can’t speak English and is annoying – although I did love the authoritative way she wielded that frying pan), he came back for Fiona and he fought for her.  Both Emmy Rossum and Justin Chatwin gave stellar performances all season, but the scene in the kitchen was just fantastic – despite the fact that I basically sobbed my way through it. Continue reading

First Impressions: Homeland

Damian Lewis, Claire Danes and Mandy Patinkin of Homeland

I think Homeland is going to spend a lot of time screwing with my head.  After the first episode, I don’t know who to believe or whether what the writers are showing me is the whole truth or just the bits they want me to see right now.  The basic premise of Homeland is already a little intense: A marine POW is found in an Al Qaeda bunker 8 years after he went missing and upon his return a CIA agent who got kicked out of Iraq for her aggressive techniques has reason to believe that he may have been turned traitor while in captivity.  There are a few pieces of information that are meant to throw me off the scent of who is telling the truth: Carrie (Claire Danes doing an excellent job of seeming completely unbalanced) is a rogue agent who has some sort of mood disorder that requires her to take klonopin which makes her an unreliable narrator and we are shown through flashbacks of Nicholas Brody’s (a tightly wound Damian Lewis) time in captivity that he is keeping certain facts (namely that he was the person who beat fellow POW Thomas to death and collapsed into the arms of Al Qaeda operative Abu Nazir) close to the vest.  But we also know that Carrie’s contact in Iraq told her that an American soldier had been turned and the audience is privy to all of Brody’s memories so we know that there is some truth to her accusations that he’s been turned.  I loved the scenes of Carrie hurriedly and manically changing her clothes and leaving her apartment.  Her manic energy provides a nice contrast to Brody’s more controlled, and aggressive, approach.  On top of all of the political intrigue there is also the fact that Brody has come back to a very different family than he left – his wife (the always beautiful Morena Baccarin) has started sleeping with an old marine pal, his daughter is 14 and hating her mother, and his son is no longer the baby he left behind.  It’s a very topsy-turvy feeling, but one that I like and that has me totally hooked.

Upcoming Summer TV Premieres: White Collar, Pretty Little Liars and more!

Even in a suit and tie, Matt Bomer looks laid back and relaxed. Perfect for summer viewing.

Happy June everyone!  Now that the regular TV season has officially ended, it’s time for the summer season to start.  What used to be a dumping ground for lame game shows, reruns and burning off episodes of previously cancelled shows, is now a time for lighthearted capers, silly tween dramas, and well, lame game shows.  I actually look forward to summer TV these days which wasn’t the case while I was growing up (thank god.  Lord knows I probably wouldn’t have seen the outdoors as much as I did).  It is a nice respite after all of the serious dramas and the comedies that require me to use my brain most of the time in order to get the jokes.  Give me White Collar and Pretty Little Liars, shows I can float through.  There is nothing too demanding about a summer TV show, and that’s a good thing.  Here are the shows (new and old) I’m most looking forward to this summer. Continue reading

Monday TV Watch: Nurse Jackie and the How I Met Your Mother Season Finale

I do love O'Hara and Jackie (Eve Best and Edie Falco).

Nurse Jackie (Sho) – What a melancholy episode.  Even Zoey seemed a little down tonight as she struggled to get O’Hara and Jackie to enjoy their lunch with her and gossip about Kelley so she had something to write about on her blog.  The scene when O’Hara, adjusting a tweaked out patient’s drip, was shoved against the wall was completely jarring for me.  This is a woman who lets pretty much everything roll off her back and to see her get overtaken in such a physical, AND emotional, way was sort of devastating.  Jackie’s “nonchalant” urging that she take something for her pain was pretty pathetic (god, she just gets worse and worse) but her supplier was out of supplies when Jackie met up with him for her daily “hug”.  She got pretty desperate with him and he told her he could probably scrounge something up for her at his apartment (to which she was, appropriately, wary of going).  Look, the gargoyle (which her dealer mentioned several times while describing his building to Jackie) falling was a pretty heavy handed sign, but the truck hitting the guy?  That was shocking and totally unexpected (also gross) and Jackie’s reaction was really disturbing.  Well, actually, I take that back.  She did walk away without helping him, however she also didn’t run over to see if he had any pills on him so I guess that’s progress.

Coop (Peter Facinelli) and Thor (Stephen Wallem)

After a season of pretty great one liners and funny subplots (although much as I like Peter Facinelli, I cannot stand Coop and his arrested development story line) this episode was much more introspective.  I’m not sure who the guy Kevin had check out the bar’s plumbing was, but according to Mr. Arnold (I’m going to call the plumber Mr. Arnold because he was played by Dan Lauria from The Wonder Years) Kevin could have had his pick of girls and he chose Jackie.  I find it interesting that Kevin is so proud of having made that choice.  It’s like instead of taking the easy road with the sweet, pretty, unchallenging wife, he went for Jackie, the manipulative drug addict.  I sometimes feel bad for Kevin, but the fact that he owns the choice he made makes me like him a lot more.  Apparently next week, Jackie is going to try to quit the pills, but I doubt it will last long.  I wish it would stick, but I guess the writers have made her addiction the most integral part of her character and without it, how would they define Jackie?  Who is Jackie without her addiction to pills and her lies and deceits?  After three seasons, I think it would be interesting to know the answer to that question.

Best Line – “We need a tox screen and Thor. . . BRING ME MY GIANT!” – O’Hara Continue reading

Monday Night Giggles: Nurse Jackie and How I Met Your Mother

Merritt Wever is genius as Zoey on Nurse Jackie.

Nurse Jackie (Sho): Nurse Jackie may have found its funny bone this season (thanks to MVP Merritt Wever) but the dark place they’ve taken Jackie is not paying off.  She is an addict.  Her family and friends know that she is an addict.  She is still hiding her addiction from them and now has her very own drug dealer who gives her hugs (and drugs) in an attempt to help her hit rock bottom.  But I’m starting to believe there is no rock bottom for this woman.  Her family will never abandon her, she is still good at her job so she’ll never get fired, and she is good at being an addict (meaning, that woman can find a hiding place in an empty room).  I can’t believe that the writers now have Jackie defending other drug addicts to their kids.  She is in such denial about her own situation I think she actually believes she’s a good mother and that the drugs make her a better one.  Good for the kid for not listening to Jackie’s platitudes.  And then she goes and steals drugs from patients?  I don’t know how much longer I can stick with Jackie.  I love the supporting characters (which means I’ll never stop watching the show), but Jackie is just despicable to me.  She thinks she is above everyone and has an attitude that everyone owes her something because she is all-healing Jackie.  The look she gave to O’Hara and Eddie as they went to an event together (as friends) just proves how entitled she feels.  But she is wiley and her husband is an idiot for believing all of her stories (which is too bad because he’s super hot).  Much like Nancy on Weeds, I cannot wait for this house of cards she’s built to come crashing down around her. Continue reading

What I watched Monday Night: Nurse Jackie, Make It or Break It, Gossip Girl

Eve Best and Edie Falco as Dr. O'Hara and Jackie.

Nurse Jackie (Sho) – Sometimes, when Jackie is doing her nursely duties, I forget that she’s a pill popping liar.  Like last night when she was taking care of Lou so compassionately, I believed her empathy.  It makes her a far more complicated and interesting character, that’s for sure.  However, all of my empathy and understanding for her goes out the window the minute she manipulates her husband or Eddie into giving her what she needs.  Surprisingly, Jackie turned to the pusher/rock-bottom-finder in order to get more pills.  I know it’s sick, but I kind of like the way that guy works.  It’s totally demented, but how can she not realize at some point that she wants to hit bottom more than she wants to deal with that asshole.  Interestingly, she kept the 30-day sober coin that came as an added special with her $200 worth of pills.  Best line of the night: Akalitus (in regards to the deconsecrated chapel’s statue of Mary: “Of all the statues in here, this is the one that matters the most to me.  She’s tall, she’s got a lot on her mind, and I relate.  Also, she’s not judgmental.  That’s something I’m working on.  It’s irrational, but that’s the nature of faith.  We’re stealing her.” Continue reading

Monday Night Viewing: Nurse Jackie, How I Met Your Mother, Make It or Break It

Even Kevin (Dominc Fumusa) seems skeptical of Jackie's (Edie Falco) turnaround.

Nurse Jackie (Showtime) - God, Jackie really is laying it on pretty thick isn’t she.  That opening scene with the Disney princess music while Jackie was cooking breakfast and drinking tea with her morning drugs which was almost pathetic.  Though it seems that she and Eddie are trying to work out a way to be friends (walking to work, talking openly about her family) despite the weirdness of their relationship and all the secrets they’re keeping from everyone around them.  The conversation with the drug pusher/rehab consultant was both revolting and fascinating.  Drug addiction is a very real thing and in my opinion a disease, so to have him making light of people’s addiction in that way was really disheartening, but what an interesting concept.  Jackie is definitely a drug addict, but she’s not the kind that typically finds bottom on their own and you could see that she was kind of intrigued by having someone get her there.  In other wings of the hospital,  God found a play me piano (which is a real thing) and then promptly stole it, pushed it into the hospital, seemingly without notice and took it up to the storage room where he lives and played it leisurely while giving zoey dating advice.  i really loved that moment.  And Dr. Akalitus tried to stop a priest from taking all of All Saints religious statues.  ”Pillaging a hospital chapel, nice work if you can get it” – Akalitus.  I love Akalitus but sometimes the writers give her stories that make her seem like a very silly woman. Continue reading