Tag Archive: TV

  1. The Best Wing

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    Americans are always yearning for the Good Old Days. Of course, exactly which days were good and what made them that way is always up for debate. For TV critics, both professional and armchair, this often translates to three little words: “The West Wing.” This week was the 15th anniversary of the series’ premiere, an occasion marked with some pomp and several commemorative Buzzfeed articles. But why are we still so obsessed with Aaron Sorkin’s Holy Grail of Political Dramas? Because nothing since can compare to it, no matter how hard we try.

    “The West Wing” premiered in September 1999, and since then, American television audiences have sought to recapture the fast-paced, hyper-verbal magic of the Jed Bartlet administration. As evidenced by the insane attendance at last week’s Master’s Tea with Bradley Whitford (aka Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman), “West Wing” fever is far from over.

    But nowhere is the legacy of “The West Wing” more evident than in countless reviews of other political dramas over the last decade. There’s “House of Cards” (“Kevin Spacey West Wing”), “Scandal” (“Sexy Murder West Wing”), and “Commander in Chief” (“Lady West Wing”), the last two of which have suffered mightily at the hands of critics (I was personally partial to “Commander in Chief” while it was on the air, though to be fair in 2005 I was also really into Shrinky Dinks and gaucho pants).

    The latest show to attract near-constant “West Wing” comparisons is “Madam Secretary,” a new CBS drama starring Tea Leoni as a female secretary of state who definitely isn’t Hillary Clinton. The show has received mixed reviews, with Variety’s Brian Lowry calling it “a slightly simple-minded return to ‘The West Wing.’” Some critiques are less subtle in their worship of St. Sorkin. Vulture critic Matt Zoller Seitz echoed the sentiments of many television writers in a recent review of the show: “I’d rather have ‘The West Wing’ back, or some version of it.”

    But “West Wing” comparisons are not reserved for bad knock-offs aiming to capitalize on Sorkin’s success. The Internet is full of articles about how “House of Cards” nods to “The West Wing” and blog posts with titles like “House of Cards Isn’t The West Wing’s Polar Opposite — It’s Its Younger Cousin.” But the two shows don’t need to be a package deal just because they apparently share an imaginary television series grandparent (probably “Grandpa Goes to Washington,” an actual show that really existed in the late 70s). Why do we insist on bringing up “The West Wing” in every review of every TV show set in D.C.? To invoke another overused TV trope, references to “The West Wing” are getting a little “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”

    Summoning “The West Wing” often seems like a good way to connect with TV-literate readers. It can be a useful reference point, but it doesn’t do much in the way of meaningful critique. Not every show is trying to recreate that brand of idealism and witty dialogue. Treating “The West Wing” as a metric for measuring the quality of a sillier, soapier show like “Scandal” doesn’t make much sense.

    We don’t expect every big-budget superhero movie to rival “The Dark Knight,” so why do we compare every political drama to Sorkin’s best? I get it: “The West Wing” is an awesome show, one that I wish had more episodes. But these other shows are not attempting to recreate what Sorkin did so expertly. They represent wildly different visions of life at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. You don’t need to turn on your television every Wednesday at 9 p.m. to get your fix of early-2000s turtleneck sweaters and impassioned speeches about education policy. That’s what Netflix is for.

    TV enthusiasts, I beseech you: WWJBD? (What Would Jed Bartlet Do?) In the absence of a verifiable answer, I am forced to do the work of a true politician and take his words out of context to make my own point. As President Bartlet once said, “When I ask what’s next it means I’m ready to move on to other things. So: What’s next?”

  2. The Best Performances, Off the Field

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    Let’s be real — many of you reading this aren’t going to pay a lot of attention at The Game. For all of you couch potatoes, the real showdown takes place in movies and on the silver screen. You probably pick up on every character with Ivy blood and wonder how screenwriters choose alma maters for their characters. In the competitive spirit of this weekend’s Harvard-Yale Game, we’re pairing up some prominent fictional students and alums of Harvard and Yale. Can you guess which school will reign supreme?

     

    Gladiators in the White House

    President Fitzgerald Grant III (H) v. First Lady Mellie Grant (Y) of “Scandal”

    Shonda Rhimes loves her some Ivy League cachet. As the creator and showrunner of three hit shows — including soapy-as-ever “Grey’s Anatomy” and heart-stopping “Scandal” — Queen Rhimes is known for writing characters that are fast-talking, sexy as Hell, and above all, intelligent. Rhimes herself is somewhat of a prestige-seeker; according to her recent New York Times Magazine profile, the Dartmouth grad applied to and attended USC’s film school because she had read that it was more difficult to get into than Harvard Law. Badass, Shonda. Badass.

    One of my absolute Shondaland faves is Mellie Grant, First Lady of the United States in “Scandal.” She and her husband, President Fitz, have one of the most convoluted marriages on television. She is his enemy, the only thing standing between protagonist Olivia Pope, his mistress, and his perma-erection for her. But she is also his friend, a loyal wife that gave up everything — and after last week’s episode, you’ll know that I mean literally everything — for her husband’s happiness and career. Incidentally, both are Harvard grads: Mellie for undergrad (which is perhaps the root of her occasional mean spirit) and Fitz for law school. But Mellie also attended Yale Law, and Bellamy Young, the glamorous actress who plays her, is a Yalie as well. Thus, I think it’s safe to consider Mellie a Yalie for the purposes of this article.

    Winner: Mellie Grant, for being sharp, loyal and a fighter, unlike her wuss of a husband, Fitz.

     

    Blonde Underdogs

    Elle Woods (H) v. Quinn Fabray (Y)

    Strangely, I’m not sure who I prefer. Back when I was a hardcore Gleek (which seems like eons ago), Quinn, played by Diana Agron, was my favorite from “Glee.” For a while, she was seriously underused. But, after audiences got tired of hearing Rachel belt her face off and seeing Finn (RIP) stumble awkwardly all over the stage, the writers finally took the hint and put in some more Quinn. Her rise in the show arguably coincided with the show’s exponential increase in quality and popularity. She not only contributed musical diversity with her light and sweet voice, but her time in the spotlight, and the darker plotline that came with it, also made “Glee” thematically more meaningful. Unfortunately, her strange rebellion, coming right before her admission into Yale, was one of later changes in the show that alienated me and many viewers.

    Elle Woods, the unlikely Harvard Law student from “Legally Blonde,” challenges both the prosecution and the patriarchy with her impeccable courtroom demeanor and her jaw-dropping, eye-opening and neck-turning “Bend and Snap.” Personally, I still think this is Reese Witherspoon’s best performance. She beautifies and pinkifies Harvard Law without missing a beat. Despite her initial ditziness, Ms. Woods rises above expectation and does the impossible: she makes Harvard seem like a fun place to be.

    Winner: Elle Woods. Quinn can sing, but so can Elle in the stage adaptation of “Legally Blonde”!

     

    Classes ’06 and ’07

    Mark Zuckerberg (H) v. Rory Gilmore (Y)

    I know Mark Zuckerberg is a real person. Who cares? His ego — especially as it’s portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg in “The Social Network” — is unreal.  Going off of the movie, Mark Zuckerberg is this reclusive, backstabbing and entitled anti-hero whose pursuit of power — strangely, as a guise for popularity — drives all of his friends away. Eisenberg tries to lend some humanity to the role, and Facebook IS awesome, but here’s the unavoidable truth — Zuckerberg is the embodiment of how Cantabs put psets before people.

    And then there was Rory. Like Zuckerberg, Rory was born in ’84, which means that she likely would have crossed paths with fictional Mark at the Game. But Rory, played by Alexis Bledel, would have actually gone to tailgates with her gorgeous boytoy Logan while Zuckerberg, sweatshirted and straight-browed, would have creeped from place to place like a zombie. Rory might even have covered the Game for the Yale Daily News, aka the greatest publication in the world.

    Winner: Rory Gilmore. It was unfair to even compare the two. Maybe Paris and Zuckerberg could make it work, though.

  3. Carried away

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    In my days of post-senior essay reverie, I’ve become the sort of TV-consuming monster I only dreamed of being back when I had real responsibility. I’d worked my way through countless current sitcoms when one day, I walked in on a housemate watching “Sex and the City” on his laptop, and walked out six hours later with the entire first season under my belt. I watched the earliest stages of courtship between Carrie and Mr. Big, saw the frank sex scenes and the chronicles of weekly brunch. I felt like I was home again.

    Though I’ve probably seen every episode at least thrice already (and that’s not counting the edited reruns on TBS), watching the show again as a grown lady has been an entirely different experience. It seems so much more relevant this time around, as if the vignettes were speaking to something true in my life. For example, I spent one whole day wondering if I was a slut, before returning home just in time to catch my crew watching the episode “Are We Sluts?” (The answer, in case anyone was wondering, was: No, sluts don’t exist, and we are awesome.) I’ve had some sexual experiences (and some social experiences) that mirror what I see on the screen now; what was once general laughter has been supplemented by the cathartic twinge of identification.

    It’s like I’m watching SATC with new eyes, and those eyes have brought with them an important realization: I’m fairly invested in the lives of all four women, but it’s Carrie’s plotlines that leave me screaming at the computer screen. I am a Carrie.

    Carrie narrates the show, and though she is undoubtedly the protagonist, she is also the most erratic, absurd and whimsical character. Most people really hate her or think she’s a childish excuse for a grown woman. But I just love her. We have plenty of things in common: She writes about her personal life for a wide audience; she’s messy and a poor financial planner; she wears her emotions on her sleeves. She believes in love deeply, but she’s also a lustful serial dater. It obviously takes a lot of hubris to identify primarily with the main character, but Carrie is a freaking narcissist, and so am I.

    Obviously, SATC character identifications are a meme so asinine they were mocked in the first episode of another HBO zeitgeist-hound, “Girls,” but even that scene established the debt that TV shows about women — and the 21st century popular female consciousness in general — owe to the show. The sexual rules that I follow, even if they frustrate me (in order of importance: have sex, fall in love occasionally), were brought to the mainstream largely thanks to Carrie and the gals.

    Because of that, the final scene of SATC will always stick with me. After a giddy brunch with all of her friends, Carrie is walking down the street in a ridiculous fur coat, when she gets a phone call from Big. It’s simple, but she just seems so happy. And I think those are the stakes of identifying with Carrie (or Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte for that matter); we know she gets a happy ending. I guess I really want one of those, and watching Carrie’s road to it, pratfalls and all, makes us feel assured that we’ll get them too.

    Rewatching SATC as graduation draws near has reminded me that some happy endings are possible. I’ve gone through four yearlong “seasons” of my own in college, and I think the pratfalls were worth it, more or less. I’ve been frustrated and lost myself a few times, and had enough intellectual, emotional and physical dalliances. Now I’m ready to make like Carrie and move on, take some risks, live out some cliches, and find my fur coat and Mr. Big (whatever form those will take). In true Carrie fashion, I will probably overshare my feelings about it on the Internet.

  4. Laying 'House of Cards' on the table

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    SN: We ended our discussion of finales with speculation about where television and its audience will go from here. Several beloved shows are having their swan songs, and we feared the networks were entering a (very) fallow period.

    And then, as if the heavens heard us and felt compelled to answer, Netflix released “House of Cards.” With a $100 million budget, a cast of bona fide movie stars and David Fincher directing, Netflix’s first original program immediately established itself as “serious” television — that is, when it wasn’t being called a very long feature film by its writer-showrunner, Beau Willimon. Even more unorthodox, Netflix released all 13 episodes of the first season at once, catering to the large binge-watching demographic among its subscribers.

    Given all this, do we consider “House of Cards” television? Does its model herald the end of television as we know it? And does it even work as entertainment?

    GC: I’m going to say it since Sophia didn’t: spoiler alert. I doubt anyone seeking out this column is worried we’re going to ruin much, but that’s the etiquette regardless.

    And yes, it works, with the exception of one plainly out-of-step episode that threatened to derail my suite’s whole experience of the show (in brief: Spacey sings). It’s not just that the show can be watched all at once; it should be, because the story is tailored that way to great effect. Nothing felt compressed or overlong, nothing dawdled or outpaced itself. I’m impressed as all that Fincher & Co. struck that balance on the first outing.

    And it’s so fun; good God is it fun to watch Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) smear barbecue sauce on a photo of the president. He plots, he connives and he narrates it all in a luscious sweet-tea-and-pecan-pie Southern accent. There’s tragedy, comedy and really very disturbing sexual encounters between Kate Mara and Spacey (on Father’s Day!). Robin Wright does a great Lady Macbeth as Underwood’s equally cool and calculating wife; “I love that woman,” Underwood drawls, “I love her more than a shark loves blood.”

    SN: “House of Cards” didn’t hold up as well for me as it did for you. The original British series managed to ell in four episodes what this show stretched over 13, which to me begs the question, why adhere to the 13-episode structure? (Other than the fact that the premium channels do it, that is.)

    Which is my way of getting at my biggest criticism: the pacing. The traditional television show, delivering a single story installment each week, has to construct each episode to sustain attention from week to week. “House of Cards” doesn’t have that handicap, and as a result, its episodes are not as self-contained, as tightly plotted. Netflix assumed, probably rightly, that the habits of marathoners meant that they would continue watching out of pure inertia. Would their show have stood the test of a normal broadcast schedule, stretched over the course of months? Perhaps this distribution model means that in the future, showrunners will be sheltered from the vagaries of ratings systems and fickle audiences. But without the constraints of the form, “House of Cards” loses its shape.

    When you were trying to get me to watch the show, you called it “power porn,” and I can see that: A lot of its pleasures are concentrated in moments in which characters demonstrate their influence over one another. “House of Cards” lays itself bare when, after a particularly joyless tryst, Underwood quotes Wilde at Barnes: “Everything is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.”

    That monomaniacal interest in power dynamics sometimes torques the plot beyond enjoyableness, resulting in drawn-out sequences that are supposed to be charged with tension but end up seeming wooden and pointless. Why, for instance, does Barnes try on Claire Underwood’s dress? It’s an image intended to titillate us in one way or another, but it seems totally without motivation. The show loses its drive. That slick gray wash that Fincher does so well begins to look a bit wan.

    GC: Isn’t unclear and awful kind of the show’s intentional mode though? I think most of the episodes leave ambiguous, at least temporarily and not unknowingly, how the means in play connect with the ends down the road; what’s engrossing is that the means are so sadistically dirty. And the puzzles don’t make sense until the last piece is about to be slotted in, but then, oh the beauty of it all! The double discovery that Congressman Russo is designed to implode during the gubernatorial campaign so that the vice presidency will open up, and we realize that Spacey is willing to kill to tidy up the shattered would-be-governor: priceless.

    That doesn’t push the right buttons for you?

    SN: I hate to do that thing that all TV snobs do, but I’m going to do it: I’m invoking “The Wire,” “Breaking Bad” and all those other grim feel-bad shows that force you into catharsis by dangling you over the deepening pit of your own despair. Those are shows that know how to set up the final piece of the puzzle. Those are shows that have energy, even in ambiguity.

    GC: Well, I haven’t watched either of those shows because people talk about them too much. But if they’ve spoiled you for this great tar-monsters-groping-each-other-in-the-cesspool-of-government drama, then I’m deeply sorry. Because I love it.

    I love it more than a shark loves blood.

  5. Christmas specials: the good and the bad

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    SN: Since this will be our last installment before winter break, we thought we’d take the time to talk about a special subspecies of television: the holiday episode. This stretch of calendar from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is rich with possibilities: an excuse for Gcharacters to gather and guest stars to return; the chance to establish in-jokes; moments of unusual tenderness or total mayhem.

    Personally, I like the opportunity for something overstated and haywire. One of the best Christmas episodes of all time is “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas,” which is entirely done in claymation. The episode is incredibly clever and not a little bit manic, like a lot of “Community” — but it’s also got a bit of a melancholy twinge to it, too.

    And when I want comfort food, I can’t go wrong with “The West Wing.” Sorkin is the king of schmaltz. He spikes it with a little bit of banter, and serves it to you warm. President Bartlet handing down his heirloom knife to Charlie? Toby giving a homeless veteran a funeral? This is stuff to curl up to during an otherwise cold, cruel winter.

    But there’s plenty of room for failure, too. For me, “A Very Glee Christmas,” from the show’s second season, was the point of no return. That was when Ryan Murphy’s formula of sentimentality and nastiness veered way too far into after-school special territory; it was so painfully precious I knew I couldn’t watch “Glee” again.

    GC: It’s a shame you stopped with “A Very Glee Christmas”; you missed out on “Extraordinary Merry Christmas” in season 3, which is the original example for me of how Christmas specials go wrong. It requires almost no context to understand why that episode so dramatically doesn’t work. First, it’s never a good idea to sing “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in a homeless shelter. Something’s deeply, profoundly, sourly in bad taste there. But more importantly, don’t make the meaning of Christmas the meaning of your Christmas special. It’s safe to say that’s been done before, and it’s enormously frustrating to see familiar faces contorted into out-of-character expressions of holiday spirit. “Glee” adds insult to injury by heaping mountains of spastically winking irony on the whole mess, which, c’mon … not on Christmas.

    I like ‘em understated. To my mind, the good Christmas specials feel more like, well, Christmas — sincerely, down-to-earthly so. Everybody’s a little nicer than they might otherwise be, there’s a little more goodwill to go around, but no tidal wave of transformative rectitude sweeps through to smash your suspension of disbelief.

    For one of the good ones, I’d point to “How I Met Your Mother”’s episode “False Positive.” There’s no effort made to cram the cast into outlandish Nativity scenes. Instead, we get the simple and charming set piece of Ted trying to get the gang to a screening of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” complete with Christmas-themed movie snacks. Around that center are looped a series of vignettes about the friends taking some meaningful baby steps towards personal growth as the year draws to a close.

    And that’s it. Nothing more and nothing less than a group of people making slightly better choices than they might typically, treating each other and their fellow man right. Too often, catching the Christmas spirit on TV is a kind of demonic possession — “Our name is holiday special, for we are trite and uniform.” “False Positive” is sweet, modest and appealingly true to characters we spend time getting to know and love. With a gingerbread house. That’s my kind of Christmas episode.

    SN: Actually, “demonic possession” perfectly describes another least-favorite holiday episode of mine. “Grey’s Anatomy,” with its ensemble of surgical-fellows-without-lives, could usually be counted on for something bittersweet, in which the Seattle Grace staff would gather for an “orphans’ Thanksgiving” — a lovely example of being with the family you choose, rather than the family you’re born into. But “Holidaze” crammed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s all into one overstuffed episode. Some patients get married; someone’s long-lost daughter turns up, passes a paternity test and finds out that she herself is pregnant; some kid gets a life-saving surgery. Typical “Grey’s” episode, just on speed. The holidays marked the passage of time, and the turkey and mistletoe served as set dressing — which is a deeply depressing life lesson if you squint at it the right way.

    GC: The balance of examples here is telling, I think (hope people don’t start thinking we only use this space to gripe). Charlie Brown and Co. notwithstanding, the holidays can produce some real dreck. The all-too-common, cookie-cutter, just-reheat-and-serve approach to Christmas specials is a TV dinner recipe for tasteless mush.

    But that’s ok, because your yuletide time is better spent elsewhere. “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” “White Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life”: curl up next to the fireplace with those and family.

    So happy holidays: Catch up on “2 Broke Girls” when you’ve taken down the tree.

     

  6. Yagoda ’14 collects $9,300 on ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’

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    After a second day on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?,” Yale College Council Treasurer Joey Yagoda ’14 walked away with $9,300 in winnings, making it to the ninth question before deciding to leave rather than guess the answer.

    Yagoda left and collect only half of his winnings — which had numbered $18,600 at its peak in total — after he was asked a question about what Disney theme park workers had been forbidden to do until 2000 (Hint: It was growing facial hair). Had Yagoda guessed and picked the incorrect answer, he would have walked away with only $1,000 in winnings.

    For you trivia buffs keeping score at home, the Calhoun junior skipped a question about what entertainer Fats Waller was forced to do when, at gunpoint, he was taken to Al Capone’s birthday party. (Waller was asked to play the piano).

    But, Yagoda correctly answered a $5,000 question on who “Charlotte’s Web” author E.B. White consulted when writing the book. (Another hint: an arachnologist).

    When asked Monday about what he wanted to get with the winnings, Yagoda said he would invest in an eReader, among other things.

    We certainly think $9,300 can buy an awful lot of eReaders.

  7. Yagoda ’14 appears on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”

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    Want to be a millionaire?

    Do you know a lot of random trivia?

    Yale College Council Treasurer Joey Yagoda ’14 does. The Calhoun junior appeared on the television show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” — which aired Monday — with host Meredith Vieira on Sept. 6.

    [ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”479″ ]

    Yagoda, who collected $13,600 by the end of the first taping, advanced past six questions before the show ended, correctly answering questions about early medicine, “thick accents” and T.S. Eliot. He also answered questions about Taco Bell’s new breakfast menu, including the franchise’s new blended drink of Mountain Dew and orange juice.

    Yagoda said he auditioned because he’s “always loved game shows,” adding that auditions were easy to attend since they were held in his home state of New York.

    For all of you out there wondering whether he missed class to tape this episode, fret not — he was able to finish his taping and then catch the train back to New Haven in time for class.

    Yagoda said with his winnings, he would like to take a trip to London and pay for an eReader, along with other school expenses.

    Cheer him on tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 p.m. on WCTX (Channel 9). And, if you see him today, give him a birthday punch — it’s his 20th birthday!

    Quite a birthday present indeed.

  8. Duron ’14 advances on “The Voice”

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    With a rendition of Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile,” former Yale quarterback Destin “Dez” Duron ‘14 won over the judges on NBC’s singing competition “The Voice” Monday night.

    Without even seeing Duron’s sun-kissed skin or that perfect smile that can light up any room, three of four judges — Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton — invited Duron to join their team. Ultimately, Duron went with Christina, a choice Cross Campus fully supports.

    Duron’s momentary victory comes after he failed to make it past the show’s blind audition phase last season. Christina said she was “so angry” when she caught glimpse of Duron’s mug, shining down from the stage. “Remember him?!” Shelton exclaimed when Christina pressed her buzzer to turn around.

    round Duron exchanged the Backstreet Boys for the more soulful Hall & Oates, singing the duo’s 1976 hit “Sarah Smile.

    Duron was first courted by pop stars Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, who applauded Duron’s performance and growth as a singer. Country singer Blake Shelton, however, was less coy.

    “This dude is good looking,” said Shelton. “I’m secure enough to say this to you — man to man, you’re hot.”

    Though Shelton went on to compare Duron to A.C. Slater from “Saved By the Bell” and Elvis, too, in the end Duron chose Aguilera to be his coach.

    “Last year I definitely did miss an opportunity with you,” said Aguilera, “so I’m so happy you came back.”

    We’re happy, too, Christina, We’re happy, too. And so are the fans, it seems — Duron’s performance from last night already has 35,000 views on YouTube. Watch here:

  9. Allison Williams ’10: the “It” Girl

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    Word on the Twitter is that our very own Allison Williams ’10 had a very, very good weekend.

    “Girls,” the series that catapulted Williams and her three co-stars to national prominence earlier this year, took center stage at last night’s Emmy Awards. Though none of the show’s FIVE nominations led to trophies, the event may well have served its purpose for Girls’ resident Yalie, as she’s been a clear winner in the category that matters most at self-aggrandizing, all-too-glitzy awards ceremonies: dresses (!!!).

    Dozens of articles and blog posts have joined in a chorus of praise for Williams’ choice of an emerald green Oscar de la Renta gown for her big night. Womens’ Wear Daily published a piece calling Williams an “It” Girl, revealing that the actress and her team viewed the Emmys as her “fashion coming-out party for the general public.”

    “I told her [Williams’ stylist Cristina Ehrlich] when I first met her that my dream — my dream — is to wear Oscar de la Renta,” Williams told WWD. “It is one of the only designers I feel like I’ve always known about, and I’ve always noticed… He has been so good for so long, he knows exactly what he is doing.”

    That self-confidence and certainty is a trait cultural observers believe the young actress has down pat herself.

    “‘Girls’ star Allison Williams wore this emerald green gown by Oscar de la Renta to the Emmy Awards as well as the HBO after-party,” writes Glamour’s Megan Gustashaw, calling Williams’ dress one of the top 5 dresses you can’t miss. “The color looks great on her, right?”

    Over at the Irish Times, Rosemary Mac Cabe crows: “Allison Williams arrived at the Emmys in an emerald green Oscar de la Renta strapless number, and, delightfully, looked thrilled with every minute of her time.”

    “Adorbs,” Mac Cabe added.

    While Williams’ gown won acclaim from across the blogosphere, the ensemble selected by “Girls” creator Lena Dunham, who’s been hailed as a revelatory voice for Generation Y, just didn’t do so hot on the fashion front.

    “The biggest miss of the night was hands down Lena Dunham, wearing a lace brocade Prada dress in blue which was not very flattering in both fit and color,” writes Nadine DeNinno of the International Business Times.

    At least she has immense talent and a shining future. The New Yorker luuuuurves her; the next season of her show will premiere in January. She’s gonna make it, guys.

    Williams, meanwhile, is expected to keep schooling life, with some labeling her a latter-day Brooke Shields, a comparison we’re just so down with that we can’t even tell you.

    Til we get to see them again, then, here’s hoping Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna can put their feelings aside and celebrate their slow rise to cultural ubiquity in true Bushwick style.

  10. Danes ’02 takes home second Emmy

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    In a move that shocked no one, the Emmy for Best Lead Actress in a Drama Series went to beauty school (er, Yale) dropout Claire Danes ’02 Sunday night.

    It’s Danes’ second Emmy, and the first for her role as an officer for the Central Intelligence Agency in Showtime’s “Homeland.” To take home the trophy, Danes beat out the likes of Elisabeth Moss, Michelle Dockery, Glenn Close, Kathy Bates and Julianna Marguiles.

    How’d she do it? “Homeland” follows Danes as Carrie Mathison, a CIA officer working in counter-terrorism who suspects an American prisoner of war of having been recruited to work as a double agent for Al Qaeda.

    This was Danes’ second Emmy and third nomination—she received her first nomination for her portrayal of teenager Angela Chase in the short-lived series “My So Called Life,” which has since gained a cult following.

    Danes wasn’t the only Yalie at the Emmys: Allison Williams ’10, who plays Marnie in HBO’s “Girls,” walked the red carpet in an emerald green Oscar de la Renta gown that landed her at the top of numerous best-dressed lists.

    “Sorry, but when we saw Allison Williams in this green Oscar de la Renta gown, it took us a minute or two to recover. Honestly, she’s just THAT good,” wrote Liza Darwin for MTV Style, noting that Williams’ combination of “peplum, an emerald hue, and a directional silhouette” reflected some of the season’s major trends.

  11. Times lavishes praise on Allison Williams ’10

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    As the world’s leading designers descended on New York Fashion Week this month to show off their hottest work, one recent Yale alum shimmered, too: Allison Williams ’10.

    The 24-year-old star of HBO’s “Girls” is “Fashion Week’s new darling,” according to New York Times writer Bee-Shyuan Chang. Williams was on her game at Fashion Week, Chang writes, attending the Style Awards at Lincoln Center, Peter Som’s runway at Milk Studios and Prabal Gurung’s event at Pier 57.

    “On Friday, she was spotted in a Peter Som oxblood cropped sweater with matching pencil skirt for his spring 2013 runway at Milk Studios, with perhaps the best accessories of anyone in the front row: a coterie of Vogue editors fawning over her,” Chang writes.

    Chang goes on to paint Williams as a polished and driven actress who’s displaying maturity in her entry into fashion. Fashion designer Christian Siriano called Williams the “‘oldest’ 24-year-old I know.”

    “She’s totally different from most actresses,” he said. “It’s probably her education. We can have real conversations.”

  12. Lessons from T‘L’C

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    The Learning Channel, originally the Appalachian Community Service Network, was founded in 1972 and has since aired documentary-style educational programs that breach the often formidable barrier between informational broadcasting and pop culture. TLC’s shows take little-known subjects, like glitz pageants, and lure viewers by promising to mock the absurd while also educating people about obscure subcultures and fostering empathy by reminding us all that no matter how strange the circumstances, we are all human and have similar hopes, dreams, desires, needs, etc. Or something like that.

    Although I feel TLC shows are mostly educational, I occasionally have reservations about exploiting people’s ludicrousness for entertainment.

    A prime example of a TLC show that is informative and thought-provoking but still a bit mean spirited is “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding.” The show uses weddings to explore Romani Gypsy and Irish Traveller culture in Great Britain. (There is also an American equivalent.) The couples are usually in their teens, and the wedding is portrayed as the biggest and best day of the bride’s life. The weddings feature horse-drawn carriages and wedding dresses with five thousand “diamonds” that weigh over half the girl’s body weight. And then there are the chartreuse-colored tulle bridesmaids’ dresses …

    I started watching the show because of the fantastical weddings, but I got a lot more than a punch line. I learned about the systematic legislative changes that are destroying the Gypsy way of life, which has survived in Great Britain for over five hundred years. I learned about their exhaustive code of honor and respect and their deep love of tradition. I felt enriched, just like an educational television show is meant to make you feel. But I also felt guilty for laughing at their weddings.

    Still, “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” is one of the less exploitative shows on TLC. In the most recent season finale of “19 Kids and Counting,” Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar go to the obstetrician to find out the sex of their 20th child, only to find out that the four-month-old fetus no longer had a heartbeat. What followed was the worst kind of emotional exploitation. I watched it, but I hated myself for it. I felt similarly when watching the season premiere, when the Duggars attended a wedding in which the groom was flamboyantly gay.

    Although I find many aspects of TLC’s programming problematic, there is something to be said about the need to educate people about subcultures in American society. The new TLC show, “Breaking Amish,” which documents five young Amish and Mennonite Americans who move to New York, leaving their lifestyle behind forever, could not come at a more opportune time. The Amish, although typically reclusive, were recently in the national spotlight when an Amish bishop in Ohio was charged with a hate crime for forcibly cutting the bears of Amish men who disagreed with him. “Breaking Amish” can provide much-needed context for the court case, teaching viewers how symbolic and important beards are to Amish masculinity.

    The Learning Channel may retain some of the truth of its title, but to catch people’s attention, many of their shows have resorted to modeling themselves after 19th-century freak shows. I can not speak for the people in the programs, and I am sure they have their reasons for participating in reality television, but I feel like many of these shows appeal too much to my truly sick and twisted sense of humor. Maybe I should stick to “Say Yes to the Dress.”