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13 September 2011 @ 09:37 pm
it'll give you square eyes  
TV SHOWS!!! I watched some. There are SPOILERS AHOY for Entourage, The West Wing, Mad Men and The Good Wife. Please don't read on if you don't want to be spoiled, and don't spoil me for future seasons if you want to burble about them ... but please do burble, because the only TV shows people I know watch are Home and Away.

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SPOILERS!!!



Entourage, Season 7

Officially the most depressing season yet. Should be subtitled 'the season they remembered OH YEAH, isn't this supposed to be about Vince?!' It was more than a little creepy that you could chart his downfall from when he started hanging out with a porn star (alternative subtitle: ATTACK OF THE EVIL VAGINA), but the hilarious subtext that is Vince falling apart because E is finally getting serious about a GIRL and MARRYING her. Sasha Grey playing herself gave me the same double vision as Mandy Moore playing herself times a million. This show is still all about Ari Gold, though, and for that we must be thankful.

The West Wing, Season 1

I came away from this deeply disturbed with this version of an 'ideal administration' and with the prevailing notion that every fuck up made by the staff - and oh, there were many! - were by women. Women crashed the email system, women leaked the wrong thing to the press, women handled a story wrong, women were plain darn stupid, women have the EVIL VAGINAS. I kept watching this for Alison Janney, who is awesome at playing a very human character in CJ, complete with human frailties and uncertainties. What worries me is that this is not at all balanced by any frailties or uncertainties in the male characters. They can be just plain insufferable alcoholics sleeping with prostitutes, but that's the right of mens! Right? Right! We couldn't possibly ever question or denounce this, but we can mock Donna till the cows come home! Any time there are one-off characters they are ALWAYS men. I saw one bonus woman in a group of three in one episode - another run of Tony hands someone their ass on on a plate - and she was the only one who didn't get a speaking line. Granted they were there to be stupid Republicans and that was all, but NO SPEAKING LINE!

The show was also let down by the turgid musical score and boring cinematography. I get that this was just the beginning of the era of television being taken seriously as an artistic medium, but come on. The famous 'walk and talk' seemed designed to prevent the actors from doing any actual, y'know, acting. Because they're walking. All the time.

Also - this is television. Am I supposed to applaud Bartlett for being pro-gay rights and wanting to overturn don't ask don't tell, being pro-educational revision, pro-sex education, pro-this that and the other liberal-slash-Democratic (there's no liberal Republicans, you know) hard hitters ... behind closed doors? I was particularly disgusted when he told the gay Hollywood producer that 'now is not the time' to promote gay rights. UH, WHAT? IRL, there may be 'good' and 'bad' times, although I find the concept hugely suspect. But this is TELEVISION! You could have Bartlett change stuff in a meaningful way and show the fictional positive repercussions and it would be awesome! Loads of Americans wanted to elect Bartlett/Martin Sheen for real as it is (in Ireland, we're currently having a presidential election; many wanted Charlie Sheen to run). This is a show that, despite my issues with it, greatly moved a lot of people with polling power in the States. Why it didn't use its power for good instead of a vague and mild okay is beyond me.

Mad Men, Season 1

Ooh, this is so slick, and interesting in the way that absolutely awful things are interesting. It is extremely adept at demonstrating the misogyny and racism of the time, but I question: does this need to be shown? Particularly to an audience who just might think that it was awesome and why did things have to change? It's the nature of the show, whose theme seems to be the Banality of Evil, that no one's gonna be redeemed, so what is the point? We know the past, in increasing increments starting from yesterday, was a sucky time to be anything other than a white male. Without showing the downfall of Don Draper and Co, there seems to be little other reason for its existence than to be a jerk-off fantasy for men who wish women wore suspenders and knew their place.

Oh, and if shouting 'Oh Don Draper NO' isn't a universal response to this show, I don't want to know what is. HOLY INSUFFERABLE ASSHOLE TO THE MAX, BATMAN.

The Good Wife, Season 1

Wow, does Alicia Florrick ever represent anyone who isn't a good guy or who doesn't get a prerequisite happy ending? If it wasn't for her husband's backstory - which, by the way, is the most boring part of the show because I can see them taking it down a Prison Break direction and we all know how well that turned out - it would be the most by-the-book procedural law show ever. Sure, it's interesting that they make the plucky rookie with a heart of gold an older married woman with teenage kids, but I don't feel they capitalise on it sufficiently. The character of Alicia is hard to warm to because what I want for her is to go fuck Childs or Will or Carey or all three and then deliver Peter a roundhouse kick to the jaw when he starts talking about 'our problems'. THE PROBLEM IS THAT YOU SLEPT WITH PROSTITUTES AND THEN LET YOURSELF BE CAUGHT DOING IT LIKE A BITCH, jesus christ, why does she never get mad at him?! And why can't his story just be that he was corrupt and unfaithful and an asshole? Why does the story about a strong woman rebuilding her life in the cutthroat world of law and doing it well STILL have to be about a man?!

It does treat women reasonably well, in that clearly someone on staff looks at each episode's characters and says, well, there's no reason this character has to be a man, let's make it a woman! But - the ex-state's attorney, the current state's attorney and the assistant state's attorney, probably the people with the most power in this particular world? Yup, they are ALL MEN. Because women are incorruptible saints, of course! They are better than men, so they can't be corrupt (Peter) or evil (Childs) or incompetent/irritating (Brody). The vaginas can only play one note, you know.

And lol at the episode where she says she hates investing herself emotionally. THAT'S ALL SHE DOES. Good for the show to try and chart the decline of personal feeling that is doubtless part and parcel of practicing law, but the attempt is sketchy, to say the least.



It also FAILS EPICALLY with Kalinda. The lesbian kiss was shot really sexily, but failing to actually show it? FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIL.

But Alicia's final speech to Will, at the very end of the very last episode, was amazing and beautiful and very much what I wanted her to articulate. It also reminded me a lot of Nan's speech to Tommy in LM Alcott's Jo's Boys. I’m not sure they intended that, however.
 
 
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Jain: jainjain on September 13th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
I have ALL the thoughts about The Good Wife, but limited energy right now, so I may be back to discuss further at some point. But I did want to comment on this:

Because women are incorruptible saints, of course! They are better than men, so they can't be corrupt (Peter) or evil (Childs) or incompetent/irritating (Brody). The vaginas can only play one note, you know.

That's really not how I read the show. Kalinda's a generally sympathetic character, but I certainly wouldn't call her a saint; she does a lot of stuff that I consider morally dubious. Jackie to me feels like a less evil version of Dolores Umbridge...but that's still plenty evil. And there are a couple of recurring female prosecuters who definitely fall on the immoral side of the spectrum, though possibly they don't show up until Season 2?

It's true that Alicia comes off as a bit holier-than-thou, but I don't see that as a commentary on the purity of women so much as a character trait, and more particularly one that's given free rein because she's a first year associate. By contrast, Diane--who's a mostly good character, but less purely so than Alicia--is a lot more comparable to Will in that both of them are shown making ethically gray decisions, and I think that's a reflection of both their greater level of responsibility (the firm vs. their morals, and sometimes the scale tips more strongly towards the former) and a learned habit of compromise that sometimes means compromising their values.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on September 13th, 2011 10:41 pm (UTC)
hahaha, oops, most of my commentary was written about half-way through the series - before she starts defending Sweeney, for one - and I wanted to get this up before I started watching S2. (Don't ask me why, I am OCD about some things.) I then went on to spoil myself for S2 by looking for her speech to Will, adskljafhlskjdhfaskjd. ANYWAY, the point is you are right. And I actually enjoy the hell out of Diane, especially her laugh. :D

So yeah, please come back and talk to me about the rest of your thoughts later on! The Good Wife is a critical rather than a popular hit, so when I talk about it at work they think I'm talking about a patient or something. Mostly I hate how she's just, like, countenancing Peter even now. It's one thing to blow up and then forgive him, but she doesn't seem to have done even that.

What I enjoy most is what you're calling the learned habit of compromise, which is a great phrase. I see it all the time at work as well. Doctors as patient advocates is something I'm sure a lot of people strongly believed in as students (myself excepted; as I always hated the course and later the job, my view has always been cynical and job-not-vocation oriented). Just today in the res we were talking about how most of our job involves the great 'shaft': shafting patients on to other services, shafting radiology so we'll get a scan, shafting one speciality by essentially lying - or 'selling the history' - to get a patient transferred to their care. Someone jokingly mentioned 'no, we're really about care of the patient!' And it was funny, because no, we're actually not.
Vaysh Swiftstorm: MadMan: Petevaysh on September 13th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
Er. Can I just say that I adore Don Draper? *runs*
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Art: Bollywoodscoradh on September 13th, 2011 10:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, I know from internet osmosis that Don Draper is THE SHIT. And I'm not talking about the actor or his looks (which don't do anything for me). It's just that in the first episode he stands up and says "I'm not taking this from a woman" and his way of making up for being 'rude' is hitting on her. It was just truly awful and I hate him because he encapsulates a mindset that was a-okay at the time. My hero's going to be the character who starts for real questioning that, not the dude who propagates it.
Vaysh Swiftstorm: MadMan: Petevaysh on September 13th, 2011 10:46 pm (UTC)
Did you watch beyond the first episode? This of course is a fictional show that wants to make a point that is a bit more complex than just presenting characters that we today think are politically correct in a golden light. Don Draper's character arc is very well done. Mad Men is my favourite show these days, exactly because they present a more multidimensional image of the 60ties than what you usually see.
every Starbucks should have a polar bearscoradh on September 13th, 2011 10:53 pm (UTC)
I've watched the whole first season. I'm still not interested in Don Draper as a person. He has a tragic backstory, I get it. I think I'd rather hear from the wife he's cheating on, the Beatnik mistress or the woman single-handedly running a business empire in spite of their restrictions, though.

And that being said, although I find the era basically horrific, it makes for extremely compelling viewing, and I plan to watch the other three seasons once I'm done with S2 of the Good Wife. Nice isn't the same as good, after all.
Riakessie on September 13th, 2011 10:23 pm (UTC)
Alison Janney is amazing. Aaron Sorkin's views on women, however, are not. Season One of The West Wing troubled me a lot, particularly in how they treat C.J. as one of the senior staff. It's been a while since I watched the first season, but there's an incident when she messes up, or something is withheld from her and she messes up while doing the White House PR, and Leo treats her like a hysterical woman for being pissed off. I remember watching that and going, What the hell...?

I'm up to Season Four currently, and I'm basically watching for Alison Janney (well, I have a soft spot for Sam, too). There are more female characters, though, and they're not all crazy republicans. I will say, without spoiling you, that C.J. and Donna's roles change towards the latter seasons (I haven't watched them yet, but I have a bad habit of reading things on Wikipedia regardless), and it'll be interesting to see how it's handled.

The way gay rights was handled... made me resigned. The first season was 1999, and it doesn't surprise me. It's been over a decade and it's not being handled much better from Obama. It feels like one step forward, two back. :/
every Starbucks should have a polar bear: Discworld: Mobscoradh on September 13th, 2011 10:31 pm (UTC)
When I got a few eps into S2 and realised I was just watching for Janney, I kind of lost interest. I'm not ruling out watching more, but it's not exactly gripping me. And like I said, the cinematography, soundtrack and emotional charge are missing - the kind of things that draw me back to, say, the Vampire Diaries even when the plot is irresistably silly. (And I'm pretty sure that episode was the same one that made me frown like a mofo.) On a superficial note, I also think CJ deserves a cooler love interest than a beardy ginger who's shorter than her. HOLLYWOOD MUST BE FULL OF TALL MEN C'MON.

Out of interest, does it go down a Donna/Josh road? I bought them more than Josh/deaf senator, because it felt too much like soapboxing and not enough like organic attraction.

THAT'S JUST IT THOUGH. It doesn't need to be real. If you can CGI dragons you can scriptwrite a believable White House that stands behind gay rights and the environment, like, seriously. And the way TV/film shapes social opinion is huge and generally untapped. They could have done so much good here.
Riakessie on September 13th, 2011 10:44 pm (UTC)
Haha, the Vampire Diaries is amazing (I'm catching up on the rest of Season 2 during my holiday next week). :D The trailer for the Secret Circle is making me sad, though--they look like they've diverged from the books without any of the humour and batshit craziness that makes the Vampire Diaries appealing.

I did hear, though, that the lady who does the RL-consulting for C.J.'s character got angry with how they resolved that episode, and Sorkin admitted they messed up.

C.J. does have another love interest. It's not exactly puppies and rainbows, though. :/

Yeah, it does! It doesn't happen until Sorkin left after Season 4 and it takes... a while.

Don't get me wrong, I would have loved for them to do something involving gay rights than just mentioning it every so often. (And you bet Bartlet would have changed his tune if one of his daughters had come out, or something. It damn well would have been 'the right time'.) It just doesn't surprise me, is all.

Edited at 2011-09-13 10:44 pm (UTC)