Monday, April 30, 2012

GIRLS Recap: Week Three: The STD


I'm taking a different approach with this week's recap in an effort to determine whether I like or hate this show. In previous weeks I've watched the show then slept on it before writing the recap. I usually wake up feeling kinder and more thoughtful about what the writer/creator/direct is attempting with this piece of art. Last night I just wrote it all down as I was watching. As a result, you'll note a significant difference in my mood. I still don't know what this ultimately means. R maintains that I want to hate this show and can therefore see no good. This might be still be true. Let's read what I wrote while I watched, then come back to R's potential point.


-Marnie is mean to her boyfriend after he shaves his head for someone who has ovarian cancer. WHY DOESN'T SHE BREAK UP WITH THIS GUY SHE OBVIOUSLY HATES?!?! Or, better yet, why doesn't he break up with her? Oh right, because this is a show about people who aren't quite sure how to properly live life yet.

-Hannah dresses up like a weird goth slut and goes to hook up with tall Justin Long.While hooking up with TJL, she lets him jiggle around her belly fat, and then they have a conversation about her belly fat and her weight in general. Every time I want to cringe at this strange pale boy and his terrible/weird sexual behavior I remember that Hannah/Lena likes it/asks for it, and then I feel terrible about/sad for her. Please god don't let there be tons of girls out there who let guys jiggle their belly fat and get away with it - PLEASE.

-Jessa prepares for the first day of her babysitting job while Soshannah watches/says things in her annoying Facebook voice. Jessa is wearing a see-through white dress with hot pink underwear under it because she comes from a place (Paris?? London?? We still have no idea) where it's perfectly fine to have your lingerie showing as you get paid to foster the development of young people. This pretty much sums up how 20-something Americans feels about Parisians, so I guess it makes sense.

-Jessa goes to babysit for this documentary filmmaker played by Kathryn Hahn (who is literally in every TV show they're making these days, which is great because she is great). She's a documentary filmmaker who has two adorable little girls. That's all that happens in this scene.

-Hannah gets a call from her gyno while in bed playing jiggle-the-belly with Adam. Hannah has HPV. She freaks out because she doesn't know what HPV is. She sort of blames Adam for potentially giving it to her. He says he's been tested, so there's no way he gave it to her. She apologizes a thousand times, asks if he's angry and asks if he still wants to sleep with her. This scene felt very realistic, and that makes me sad.

-Hannah calls Marnie to tell her she has HPV. Marnie cries. In previous episodes there were small things I liked about Marnie and her acting. Right now there are none.

NOTE TO READERS: I admit it's not the show's responsibility to accurately describe HPV, how common it is, where it comes from, and how it can be treated. In fact, it's totally likely that none of these girls would have a clue because STD education isn't particularly strong in schools. So here is a link for more information on this very treatable and common issue from the Center for Disease Control. Daily kind deed, done.

-Hannah is now at Jessa/Shoshannah's apartment in a new outfit. I think she's looking for Jessa. Shoshannah is there wrapped in a Snuggie from The Limited Too and watching this (fake?) TV show called BAGGAGE. It's some game show where women put small, medium and big pieces of "baggage" into suitcases that men open on the show and then determine if they still want to date the women despite their baggage. I'm not totally clear on the rules, but it worked as a good device to get Shosh and Hannah to talk about their own baggage. Shosh's is that she's a virgin. Hannah's is that she has HPV. Shosh tells Hannah that Jessa has HPV too. Shosh says that Jessa says all adventurous women do. Right now Shosh is my favorite character on the show for some reason. Maybe it's because she's being considerably less annoying than she usually is, which is tricking me into a false acceptance of her?  I don't know. Hannah/Shosh decide that Hannah should tell the ex boyfriend who she thinks gave her the HPV that she has the HPV. Hannah says she's afraid that if they're in the same place they'll end up having sex. Shosh says that's fine because they both have HPV. Oh the logic of a virgin wrapped in a peace sign Snuggie.

-Marnie is at a gallery opening where her completely over-the-top art-world boss tells some hot artist named Booth Johnson (or something equally ridiculous but totally realistic, thank you Dash Snow) that he should stop f-ing some girl and F Marnie instead (impressionable young people read this blog too, you know). The artist is played by Jorme from Lonely Island. This show is good for New York-based actors. Marnie compliments Jorme/Booth about his art. He says, "try to give less of a shit." I roll my eyes and tell R I think I do hate this show.

-Hannah and ex boyfriend get together at a bar so she can tell him that he gave her HPV. I turn to R the minute this guy sits down and say, "he's gay now," but R is asleep. I think the boyfriend's name is Sebastian. He is an assistant to a curator of dance, of course. No. It's Elijah. Aaanndddd, HE IS GAY NOW. One thousand points for me!!! Hannah cries. I think, girl now that your parents cut you off, you have HPV and your ex is gay, you're finally like the rest of us! Also Elijah tells Hannah that TJL lied about not having HPV because men can't be tested for HPV. Will this move FINALLY make Hannah stop hooking up with him??? Not a chance.

-Marnie and Booth run up to The Highline entrance, but it's closed. She acts crazy awkward and dumb around him, and I want to shake her and say, "GET IT TOGETHER AND ACT LIKE AN ADULT!!! Then I remember that this show is called GIRLS, and I think I finally get the entire point of it. Maybe.

Marnie says, "you know I'm not going to kiss you." and then Booth gets really close to her and says, "The first time I fuck you I might scare you a little because I'm a man and I know how to do things." Then I rolls my eyes so hard that I develop an instant headache. Conversely Marnie is like YYESSS because she wants a bad boy, and then she goes and fingers herself in the bathroom of the art gallery.

-Jessa smokes pot with the Dad of the kids she babysits. She will eventually have an affair with this man. It is as obvious as the fact that Hannah's ex is gay. 1,000 future points for me!!!

-Hannah tweets incredibly dumb shit while an awesome Robyn song plays. I realize that sentence is short and mean, but at this point it's all I've got. My primary thought at this moment is: this girl needs a job SO BADLY.

-Marnie comes home, and she and Hannah laugh about the gay guy and dance to the good Robyn song like best friends. Neither of them can dance, but this shouldn't be held against them.

-I went to iTunes and downloaded that Robyn song while the credits rolled.

Guys, I don't know. I still just don't know. Does it make me stodgy and old if I don't remotely relate to these girls?? Do I hate them because they're living a version of a New York City life that I envy?? Do I long for the youth that they take for granted?? Am I just a jerk with bizarre standards/tastes??

Or does my opinion have zero to do with who these girls are portraying and everything to do with the overall quality of this program? I didn't relate to the FREAKS AND GEEKS cast, but I loved that show. I don't related to NURSE JACKIE and find her fairly deplorable, but I love that show. The examples go on.

Here's what I think: I think there is a segment of the population who will love this show no matter what happens because they're inclined to love the tone/characters/world/etc. For the rest of us, this show needs to work harder. It can't just be an artistic expression of a slice of life for a small, small segment of the population if it wants to be broadly appealing. It has the do what most/all other TV shows do: create interesting stories, reveal dynamic characters, set up and pay off plot lines, and give a glimpse of where we're going, and why. That is, that's what it needs to do for me.

Where do you stand?


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Confessions: My Bad Technology Behavior


This Sunday the New York Times published a fantastic article about an important trend from an interesting angle. I was so proud of them.

I recommend reading Sherry Turkle's entire piece: The Flight From Conversation - a look at how our attachment to devices (the "i suite" and more) have made us more connected, but less conversational. It's interesting, and scary, and true.

For my own part, in response to the piece, I thought I'd reveal my TECHNOLOGY TRUTHS. I tend to read these social commentary pieces and think, "thank god I don't do that crazy thing these sad, Americans do," (yes, I am American, but sometimes I feel like I'd rather not be) but this time I'm one of them, right down to my occasional attempts at trying to maintain eye contact with R while sending a text to someone else. So...deep breath...here goes:

  • I ALWAYS say, "Sorry, I'm listening, keep talking," to a friend/colleague/boyfriend while I text/search/e-mail on my iPhone. The truth is that I hear about 15 percent of what they're saying and typically have to ask them to repeat something. This is rude.
  • The idea of being alone somewhere (a bar, coffee shop, movie theater) without my iPhone is terrifying to me. I don't want someone to see me just looking around, taking in life. They'll think I'm some sort of weirdo.
  • The other day I went somewhere, didn't upload any Instagrams from that location, and for a moment thought, well that was a waste. This is sick.
  • I get incredibly annoyed when people don't respond quickly to e-mails. I respond quickly to ALL e-mails because I have my phone on me! What is everyone else doing?? Paying attention to their boyfriends and enjoying actual life?? How dare they.
  • Sometimes I think about calling all my best friends who live far away but then just text them something simple instead. This is a combination of sheer laziness and the incorrect feeling that a phone conversation is a big deal. It's not. It's an important deal.
  • If you asked me when the last time I talked to _______ was, I'd probably quote you a number based on the last time we g-chatted. I know that doesn't count, but the real number is too embarrassing.
  • I could Skype with my parents, but it makes me miss them more when I see their faces, so I just text or call.
  • The most wonderful and important romantic relationship I've had in my life did not include texting for the first two full months. He called me on the phone exclusively, and that's how I knew it was going to be as good as it's turned out to be.

POST YOUR OWN TECHNOLOGY TRUTHS BELOW IN COMMENTS. Maybe we can shame each other into better digital behavior. I know I'm going to do my part to try and be a little less connected, and a little more real.

Monday, April 23, 2012

GIRLS Recap: Week Two, Awkward Sex



I honestly don't know whether or not I liked the second episode of GIRLS. I laughed a few times. I think there was a moment where I said, "that's a good point." I know I really enjoyed the wrap blazer Marnie was wearing in one scene, and the music cue the show closed on, but on the whole, I'm confused.

It's the same wonder I wondered after the pilot: is this show supposed to be ironic or realistic? Are they making fun of themselves (and in essence "us" slash formerly "us") or are they saying, "this is how it really is, ridiculous though it may be"?

MANY signs point to the fact that the show is meant to be a combo of an exaggerated/ironic depiction of, "Manhattan girls these days," and a homage to Sex & The City. Examples include:
  • Marnie is the sensible, conservative one, and she just so happens to work at an art gallery (just like Charlotte)
  • The four girls eat Tasti-d-Lite while chatting about relationship (ala Carrie and Co...8 years ago, before the arrival of Pinkberry and then everything more current than Pinkberry).
  • The Shoshannah character talks like the annoying high school-aged sister in a Disney Channel sitcom ("Obv you totes need to...).
But then there are an equal number of things that do feel cleverly crafted to represent exactly the way young 20-somethings function in that world (not "the" world, "that" world):
  • Hannah's relationship with Adam is painfully awkward and brutally one-sided, but feels totally realistic.
  • Hannah's fear about the potential STD's you can get from the stuff that gets up inside the condoms is hysterically naive, but in a totally legitimate way. There is that stuff they just don't teach you.
  • Jessa's reckless behavior and flightiness about the abortion is over-the-top, but I've known people who behaved the same.
I don't know you guys. I guess I'm going to have to give it another week or so, but I feel like the whole tone of the show isn't clear, so I don't know what to think/feel from one moment to the next. That said, this is supposed to be an episode recap, so here's a little of that for good measure:
  • Hannah has the most awkward sex I've ever seen on a television, film or computer screen with Adam. He treats her like crap, and she takes it because she seems to lack the confidence? knowledge? desire? to do otherwise. I think she thinks this is how it's supposed to be. I feel sad for her, but I've also been her, so points for accuracy.
  • Marnie has the most boring sex I've ever seen on television, film or computer screen with her boyfriend Charlie. They've been together for four years plus he's too nice, sooo, I'm not sure. It would appear she wants something that he is not but instead of breaking up with him to attempt at finding it elsewhere, she wants to say this line, "he's so busy respecting me that he can't stop looking past me to see what I need." Please god let that be an ironic representation of a female statement. Please.
  • Jessa? (is that her name? I can't tell) is going to have an abortion because she is pregnant and does not want to be. The other girls are being sensitive about this (making her an appointment, going with her, etc.), but she doesn't want any of that, so she blows off the appointment to go bang some guy in the bathroom of a dive bar...where she orders a White Russian. (what is it with the 90s references in this show??) While having sex with said some guy, she gets her period, meaning she's no longer pregnant. This does not stop her from having sex (marking the 3rd atrocious sex scene I've never before seen on a screen of any size or variety).
  • Oh, somewhere before the abortion-that-didn't-happen scenes Jessa, Hannah and Shoshannah talk about this book "Listen up Ladies" (or something like that) that is essentially "He's Just Not That Into You" (again, on purpose?). Shoshannah reads about page that's like, "If he doesn't want to take you on a date, he's not really interested in you. Hanging out doesn't count." And Hannah is like, "wait, really?" And Jessu is like, "Who are 'the ladies' they're referring to?" and Shosh is like, "we're the ladies." And Jessu is like, "I'm not a lady," and Hannah is like, "well, maybe we're not the ladies." And Shosh is like, "No, we're totes the ladies, " (direct quote), and Jessue is like, "well maybe I don't want to be the ladies. Why is everyone always trying to force behavior on us," which was actually sort of a poignant statement about who we're supposed to be and what we're supposed to behave like in our 20's, but ultimately it just means that if Jessa wants to be disrespected and reckless, she can and will. I think I like this scene, but I'm not sure...again.
  • Hannah goes in a job interview where she has a bizarre, flirty interaction with the interviewer. It goes incredibly well, owing to this bizarre, flirty interaction, and it seems like Hannah is going to get the job, but then she makes this joke about the guy having been a date rapist in his time at Syracuse, and he's like, "yeah, that's not appropriate for the work place, so this is probably not going to work out." If this was intended to point out that Hannah has no idea how to function as an adult, it worked. If this was supposed to endear me toward her in any way, it didn't work.
  • Hannah decides that if Jessa is going to have an abortion then she should use this party-at-the-OBGYN opportunity to get STD tests. She is certain that she has AIDS or some other STD because the gunk that gets up into the sides of the condoms can leak out, probably. It's this whole complicated theory that makes some sense if you're a hypochondriac and/or have no idea how condoms work, but I thought it was funny, I think. That is, until she took it to the point of telling the gyno that she thinks maybe she wishes she actually has AIDS because it would take the pressure off not having a boyfriend/job/income/etc. I believe this was intended to be a low moment in the show where we realize that Hannah is painfully silly and immature. It worked.

A important side note: In the week since its premiere, GIRLS has received a LOT of backlash. People are upset because none of the GIRLS are any other race but white. Other people are upset because some reviewers (male and female) have objectified Lena Dunham's looks and body. Then there are people who are upset because the show is one massive example of the fact that nepotism runs Hollywood.

I care about all of those things, but not when it comes to evaluating the actual content of this show. When it comes to that, I'm still at a loss. I don't know if I'm supposed to like these girls or hate them (right now I'm mostly indifferent). I don't know if they're making an important commentary about these times or just highlighting the worst examples of the worst times in our 20s. It's like I said to a friend last night, "I feel like I'm watching a depiction of the worst versions of everyone I know." But maybe that's exactly what this show is supposed to be?

I will say this; it's brave. It's brave to not try to just be jokey or just be dramatic. Whatever it is that the creative team behind this show is trying to do, it's different, and it's not simple. Regardless or whether I'm entertained by that or not, I appreciate that it's something I've never seen before.

What do you think? What am I missing? And how much is my opinion based on my current (vs. former) place in life?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My thoughts on "The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage."



More than a few people sent me the recent New York Times article - "The Downside of Cohabiting Before Marriage" - I assume in light of my recent move-in with R (Thanks guys! So sweet of you!).

The piece is organized around the premise that, " couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not. These negative outcomes are called the cohabitation effect."

I'd love some numbers around stats like "tend to be" and "less satisfied," and I'd really love to meet the crack team behind the phrase "cohabitation effect," but that's a different war (that I waged not too long ago, actually).

Instead I think I'll employ a different tactic in response to this article: I'll agree with it.

Sure, maybe there is a giant downside to cohabiting before marriage. It does sound likely that, "what researchers call 'sliding, not deciding.' Moving from dating to sleeping over to sleeping over a lot to cohabitation can be a gradual slope, one not marked by rings or ceremonies or sometimes even a conversation," - would be a major problem. And I can see how it could be very problematic to move in without a conversation about your commitment, your love, and your intentions for the future.

It also makes sense that, "Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage."

And I know many people who fall into this group: "Too often, young adults enter into what they imagine will be low-cost, low-risk living situations only to find themselves unable to get out months, even years, later."

But to me, those aren't downsides to cohabiting. They are:
  • Foolishly taking a very large step in a relationship without a clear understanding of commitment.
  • See above. Replace "clear understanding of commitment" with "clear understanding of timeline"
  • An unwillingness and fear to exit a bad relationship situation

Those are interesting topics. I'd actually be really interested to read a piece all about why some couples fear discussing matters of commitment or timeline, and I'd really love to read one about why some people stay in bad relationships.

If this article was titled: "Cohabiting Has Major Risks if Done Without Proper Preparation" I would not be writing this blog post. I realize that's way too many words for a headline and not nearly as catchy. I already realize that I'm being a bit harsh. The article does make an effort to present both sides of the argument, and if you're reading carefully it's clear that my point (cohabiting can be bad if you're not prepared, etc.) is the eventual point of the author. Case in point: on the second page the author even goes as far as pointing out this:

"The unfavorable connection between cohabitation and divorce does seem to be lessening, however, according to a report released last month by the Department of Health and Human Services. More good news is that a 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center found that nearly two-thirds of Americans saw cohabitation as a step toward marriage."

Relationships are difficult, fragile things. They end because of finances, religion, personalities, parenting tactics, deaths in the family, and a whole host of other reasons that I won't depress you by listing. And yes, some/many/lots end because people live together before marriage. But it's not the sheer act of living together that makes these marriage/relationships fail - it's the manner in which that living is done: without proper preparation, without proper communication, and without mutual understanding of all the cohabiting will bring.

It's cool though, New York Times, I'm used to it at this point. My new policy is to read the last three paragraphs of these types of articles before the first three. That's where the writer usually ditches the shock quotes and vague stats in favor of a legitimate statement on the sociology of our times.

Look! Here it is for this one: "Cohabitation is here to stay, and there are things young adults can do to protect their relationships from the cohabitation effect. It’s important to discuss each person’s motivation and commitment level beforehand and, even better, to view cohabitation as an intentional step toward, rather than a convenient test for, marriage or partnership."

Carry on.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to build a palette garden and test the strength of your new life of co-habitation!


On Saturday R, my Mom (who was visiting from New Jersey) and I worked on the back patio at our new apartment. We made incredible progress for one afternoon - placed outdoor carpets, bought flowers, shifted the table and chair to create a dining vs. lounging space. It looked fantastic.

On Sunday afternoon I found the one area of the backyard not yet decorated and championed an aggressive DIY project that I had no intention of or ability to do myself.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to make this same magic in your own co-habitating lives:

Step One: Stand in glorious backyard with happy boyfriend. Compliment all his hard work to date. Say, "this is exactly what I was hoping it would look like!"

Step Two: Turn your body around to the one wall of the backyard not yet outfitted with a plant or piece of furniture. Stare at it quizzically...then shift that confusion to a slight disappointment...then shift that bummed out look to a light-bulb moment! Say, "OH!" then, "HHmm," then, "Nah, we could never pull that off."

Step Three: Attempt to execute something very close to the following conversation:
  • Him: What are you talking about?
  • You: That wall over there. It's the only blank part of the space, and everything else looks so fantastic that I hate to leave it so...unfinished.
  • Him: Well what do you have in mind?
  • You: Eh, I don't know if we could do it.
  • Him: How hard could it be?
  • You: I guess not that hard. I saw it on Pinterest.
  • Him: Oh jesus...
  • You: Let me just show it to you, and then you can decide.

Now get your computer, log into Pinterest, and show your boyfriend the following image:

  • Him: That's cool looking.
  • You: I know, right?! And it's the perfect thing to put on this blank wall. I feel like it will really finish it.
  • Him: I can make that.
  • You: Really??
  • Him: Sure. It's easy. We just need to find a palette somewhere, but we can tackle that at some point.
  • You: Oh...at some point?...

Step 4: Drive to the only hardware and garden supply store that is still open on a Sunday at 5pm. Agree convincingly when your boyfriend suggests that you only buy some of the supplies today and start the project another day.

Step 5: Ask the hardware and garden supple store people if you can have one of the shipping palettes that they're getting rid of. (They look like that picture over there ---->) When the 65-year-old manager man looks at you like you're crazy and says, "what do you want with an old shipping palette?" don't say, "We're going to make this standing herb garden that I saw on Pinterest!!"

Step 6: Tie the shipping palette to the roof of your boyfriend's Volvo. Be prepared to do this without the assistance of the 65-year-old manager man because it's an "insurance liability" for him to help (read: way funnier to watch two clueless 28-year-olds do it).

Step 7: Now attempt to execute something very close to this conversation:

  • You: We did it!
  • Him: Barely.
  • You: Do you think we should just get the rest of the supplies now that we're here.
  • Him: Um...
  • You: Because I feel like we're on a real roll here.
  • Him: Yeah, but...
  • You: And it will feel so great to have it done.
  • Him: Done??
  • You: Meet you by the potting soil!!

Step 8: Get three giant bags of potting soil, lots and lots of flowers, and this stuff called "landscape paper." If you don't have sand paper and a staple gun, get those too.

Step 9: Attempt to load everything into the car. Realize you've tied the doors shut with twine while securing the palette to the roof. Laugh your asses off. Climb in the car windows (note: not face first, apparently).

Step 10: Sand the palette. It's best to do a little dance while you sand sos to re-endear your boyfriend to your wonderfully quirky ways.

Step 11: Cover the back and sides of the palette with that landscape paper using hundreds of tiny nails (if you are fools) or a staple gun (if you are everyone but us).

Step 12: Fill the covered palette with dirt. This is the easiest part of this project. If you can't do this right you should consider stopping.

Step 13: Plant the flowers inside the slots!! This will be insanely exciting at first. It will become slightly less exciting when your boyfriend asks if you've ever gardened a day in your life because you obviously don't know how to plant flowers (note: You have to dig a little hole of dirt and put them in it. You can't just sit them on top of the dirt and hope for the best.)

Step 14: Water your beautiful, new palette garden!!!

Step 15: This crap -

  • Him: Okay. We did it.
  • You: Aren't we going to stand it up in the spot where it goes?
  • Him: Not for about a month.
  • You: ABOUT A MONTH?!?!
  • Him: Yeah. The flowers have to take root.
  • You: Why??
  • Him: So they don't all fall out.
  • You: But we dug those little holes for them!
  • Him: Three to four weeks babe.
  • You: You're sure??
  • Him: I'm sure.
  • You:Well if I'd know that I wouldn't have started this whole thing.
  • Him: Not exactly what I want to hear right now...
  • You: Right. Sorry. It looks amazing!! Thank you!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

GIRLS Recap: Week One, The Pilot



"I think you're trying to talk yourself into hating this show," R said after I said, "I think I'm going to hate this show," for the 20th time.

That may or may not be true.

GIRLS is the new HBO show about four, 20-somethings living in modern Manhattan, created, written by, directed by and starring Lena Dunham - a 20-something living in modern Manhattan. In fairness I think most 20-something female writers who have lived in Manhattan are trying to talk themselves into hating this show, too.

That said, after the first episode, I intend to watch more. There were good things and bad things, hysterical things and ridiculous things, things I would have left out of my own script on this same subject, and things I would never have been clever enough to include.

Here is my attempt at a recap/review:

World: Manhattan/Brooklyn, 2012

Characters:

Hannah (Lena) - 24-year-old aspiring writing who thinks she may be the voice of her generation. Lives with her best friend in what appears to be Brooklyn. Interns for free at a publishing company. Hooks up with a terrible guy.

Adam (Adam Driver) - Terrible guy, very pale.

Marnie? (Allison Williams, as in Brian's daughter) - 24?-year-old with some unclear paying job. Living with Hannah in what appears to be Brooklyn. Has a boyfriend who is too nice, so she wants to dump him. Is the "voice of reason."

Charlie (Christopher Abbot) - "Too nice" boyfriend of Marnie.

Jessa (Jemima Kirke) - Also 24?-year-old college? friend of Hannah and Marnie. Is British. Has lived everywhere. Just got back from Paris and is living with her annoying cousin. Is a "free spirit."

Annoying Cousin (Zosia Mamet) - 20-something cousin who is currently housing Jessa. Loves Sex & The City.

Hannah's Parents (their actor names were not on IMDB, strangely) - Over-protective Father, "Over it" Mother.

Major Plot Points (kind of in order):

Hannah's Parents Cut Her Off - O.P.F and O.I.M take Hannah to what appears to be an expensive dinner where they tell her they're cutting her off. Apparently they've been bank-rolling her entire life for the past two years. Hannah doesn't understand how they could possibly do this to her. Do they know how tough the economy is? Don't they know that every single one of her friends gets help from their parents?? Don't they know that she's a struggling artist who just needs to live, then finish her memoirs???

The Dad is like, "I know, sweetie, I know." The Mom is like, "I want a country house, sweetie. Get a job." Hannah is like, "I'm busy trying to become who I am," which is a legit deep line if you think about the fact that you always are who you are but need time/money/support to become the adult version of that person. I liked her after that line.

Do 24-year-olds like Hannah live off their parents money while they Intern in Manhattan for free? Yes. Are they totally unaware that this is outrageous? Yes. Do I at all relate to this scene what-so-ever? No, but it was still funny, and Lena writes for herself very well, which seems obvious but isn't.

Marnie Doesn't Like Her Boyfriend - Marnie's boyfriend is "too nice," so she's not sexually attracted to him anymore, etc. She says, "he's so nice to me and that makes me angry," which makes me angry with and sad for Marnie.

If this was a Sex and the City episode it would happen around Christmas time, Carrie would type out some pun like, "Can you be too naughty, or too nice?" and then the whole episode would revolve around that whole idea. I sort of wanted to watch that episode. While I am personally annoyed by girls who dump guys because they're too nice, then complain when the next guy treats them like shit, I acknowledge that this is a thing, and that it's common among young people (ohmygodI'mold).

Hannah Asks her Boss to Pay Her For Working -As discussed, Hannah is an unpaid intern (holler if ya' been there!), so when her parents cut her off she goes to her boss and asks to be hired as a legitimate employee. This is my favorite scene in the show because it is positioned as a comedic interpretation of what might really go down if a Hannah-type asked this question, but I think it's completely and totally realistic. Boss is like, "so nice having you here! Best of luck!" Hannah is like, "I've worked here for two years, and other interns have been hired as full-time workers." Boss is like, "In this economy....do you know how many internship requests I get every day?...I know you'll land on your feet." Long story short (my words), "lots of other kids parents aren't cutting them off, so I'll just get one of those kids to work for me for free because that's totally legal in this country."

After this scene I was like, "thank GOD this show is raising such an important cultural issue of our times!!" and then, louder this time, OHMYGODI'MOLD.

Hannah Goes And Hooks Up With Terrible - Walking home from getting "fired" Hannah is like, "you know what would make me feel like I have value in this world? Having terrible sex without a condom with the guy who never texts me back!!" Much of this episode featured very real things that very real 20-something girls do, but this was the most real of them all. I wanted Hannah to be stronger and more sensible, but I acknowledge that a show about a strong, sensible girl who does everything right would probably be boring.

I could have done without the graphic nature of this terrible sex, but if you're trying to make a strong point really linger in the minds of your audience, a naked butt helps.

Jessa Comes Home From Europe, Drops a Bomb - From what I can gather, Jessa went gallivanting around Europe after college (where, in fairness, she is from), but is now returning to NYC for some indeterminate amount of time. Hannah is excited about this because she worships Jessa's vagabond spirit (as all rich, 20-something girls who want to be writers do). Marnie is pissed about this because she thinks Jessa is irresponsible and immature (this from a girl who slept in her roommate's room to avoid sleeping with her boyfriend).

Jessa arrives to the apartment of her annoying cousin who is obsessed with Sex & The City. A.C. delivers the second most annoying dialogue of the show (note: the first is when Marnie explains the progression of modern communication from Facebook chat to phone call) when she explains that Jessa is such a Carrie but with Charlotte hair, or something like that. I guess if you're the long-awaited "follow-up" to S&TC you have to acknowledge its existence, but a poster on the wall was enough for me.

Jessa then shows up super late at the dinner party Marnie reluctantly threw in her honor. There she convinces Hannah to go beg her parents for more money after Hannah drank too much opium tea (which is the most hysterically Brooklyn thing about this episode). Marnie is all, "don't bring her into your web of irresponsibility!" and Jessa is all, "I'm PREGNANT!"

The fact that she's pregnant is fine/interesting/realistic/whatever. The fact that she yells it out completely unprovoked is one of my biggest TV/movie pet peeves. Either get us to that point with a conversation that somewhat naturally leads to that confession, or explain the confession once it happens! Yes, this is me on the screenwriting high horse I don't deserve to be writing.

Hannah Asks Her Parents for More Money - ...in the middle of the night, while high on opium tea, by demanding that they read her "book" and then telling them she thinks she may be the voice of her generation. Oh, also, she asks for $1,100 for the next two years. A. How far into Brooklyn is she living that $1,100 a month will suffice for rent, health insurance and life? And B. TWO MORE YEARS?! I had been pretty well-behaved up to this point, so I felt I earned one massive eye roll. I asked R if he thought Lena Dunham wrote that line to be ironic because so many people have been calling her the voice of our generation. R said, "I think she wants to think she's saying it ironically."

And with that, R summed up my feelings about the whole show. Exactly how ironic is it supposed to be? Right now it feels somewhere between a caricature of 20-something Manhattan and a show about four girls you once met at a party in Brooklyn and thought, I am nothing like these people, right??

I will say that at first I appreciated the drab lighting, sad music and realistic wardrobe, but after 30 minutes all I wanted was a bright, blue sky and some 5" Jimmy Choo's. Does that make me shallow? Does it make me old? Or does it make me a bitter, 20-something writer who doesn't have her own TV show?...

Please add on to the "review" with
in comments with your own assessments!

I'll be back next week with another recap.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This is the tumblr I wish I was writing.



The incomparable Alison Eakle turned me onto this incomparable tumblr - AS YOU LIKE IT - via her Facebook, of course.

I don't know who's writing this, I don't know how long they've been at it, heck, I don't even know if they're male or female (feels male, but some people say that about my blog too). All I know is that I love it.

AS YOU LIKE IT bills itself as "Notes on the Complexities of Liking Someone," and it delivers on the promise. Each mini post features quippy observations and statements about the state of dating affairs. Things like:
  • "Internet dating is like shopping at a thrift store. There are a few gems here and there, but mostly its just pit stained T-shirts and old underwear."

...and...

  • "The amount of time that a dude will cuddle with a chick after sex is equal to the amount of time a chick will talk to a dude after he buys her a drink."

It's genius like this that makes me wonder why I labor over 500+ word posts when the bottom line is usually communicated in one sentence or less. It's 21st century writing at its best!

So, kudos to you, Internet person. Please keep up the excellent work.

And while we're at it, why don't you all recommend your favorite new tumblr's in comments for a little #FF Thursday action (so, #FT).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

GIRLS vs. SEX & THE CITY: how will they be different? and how will we relate?



I've been thinking a lot lately about HBO's new series GIRLS, HBO's old series SEX & THE CITY, and my three little sisters.

HBO's new series GIRLS (created by 25-year-old phenom Lena Dunham) is about the career and sexual trials and tribulations of four, young 20-something women trying to make it in today's New York/Brooklyn.

HBO's old series SEX & THE CITY was about the sexual and career trials and tribulations of four, mid-30-something women trying to find love and success in the Manhattan of the 1990s.

And my three little sisters are 18-25-year-old women who may or may not find either of those set-ups compelling.

What does today's 18-year-old think about SEX & THE CITY? Does she find it outdated and irrelevant? Does she relate to the characters? Does it help or hurt her own thoughts about how dating, love, and sex should be?

Is it the same for a 23-year-old? Is she just far enough behind my 28/29-year-old peers and I to find that version of a New York woman something of the past? Is a 25-year-old's opinion the same as my set of friends and me. My 25-year-old sister lives in Manhattan right now. Does she watch S&TC and think, "that's my best friends and me," or does she see a preview for GIRLS and think, "that's more like it." (ed note: yes, I have that many sisters)

I watched every episode of S&TC. For me, it was an exploration in relationships, sexuality and independence. I didn't buy everything Carrie/Miranda/Samantha/Charlotte were selling, but I loved the world they inhabited. It seemed equal parts care-free and serious, mature and child-like, real and ridiculous. In hindsight I realize those characters were exaggerations of actual female perspectives, not women to fashion oneself against (which is a whole other post for another time), but I watched it and thought, that's the New York City I'd like to inhabit...Aiden and all.. To me, those characters had created lives for themselves and were now trying to find love to match (even Samantha, to a certain extent).

Would my sisters give S&TC that same review? Would they view it as mostly fact, somewhat fiction? Or do they/would they watch it and think, "look at those funny 90's women thinking funny 90's things!"

I don't know whether or not GIRLS will bear any resemblance to HBO's first, four-female franchise. It's about post-grads just trying to eek by in a very different time. The do not yet have careers, they do not yet have several serious loves under their belts, and they do not yet have Manolo Blahnik money. So far I have only seen the first episode, but from that brief introduction to their world, I can tell you that the GIRLS girls seem to be floundering. That makes sense because they're 22, not 35, but watching it I felt like there was a desperation to their lives that didn't exist for Carrie and Co. Again, that may be their age, and it may also be the age we now live in. Maybe I'm too detached from S&TC to see the direct parallels? Maybe I'm just too much older than Lena Dunham and crew to relate to their struggle. Or maybe all TV shows about four, female friends are going to play up their weaknesses and immaturity vs. their confidence and wisdom? S&TC felt mostly wise and thoughtful but sometimes ridiculous and unrealistic. Will GIRLS be the same, or the reverse? Are 25-year-old, NYC-dwellers more ridiculous and unrealistic than they are thoughtful and wise? I'd like to think I was a healthy mix of both, but it's hard to see the forest through the happy hour haze.

I'll be watching GIRLS and recapping each episode here on the blog so we can see how much we do or do not relate to the first series since S&TC that's attempted to capture our generation's view on the world. And, if I can convince them to help, I'll be peppering in the thoughts of my three little sisters as well.

Maybe four, female best friends of any age range in any city are going to experience the exact same things? Or maybe GIRLS will re-write the S&TC world to look like something we've never seen before?

NOTE: GIRLS premieres on HBO this Sunday evening.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Results Episode: Things I want to do/see/have during my quick trip to New York City.


I'm three days late and so many dollars short, but below are the results from my New York trip bucket list. Enjoy!

I'm back in New York for a hot minute right now for a combo business/family holiday trip.


As those of you who have been reading this blog since its B.C. (before California) era know, I have an unreasonable love-affair with Manhattan. I believe it is the greatest city in the world. I believe it was wildly defining to my life. Here, by way of one example, is the post I wrote about leaving it behind for Los Angeles. It's literally a letter to the city, that's how bizarre I am about our "relationship."

Therefore it's only natural that I have an unreasonable and ridiculous list of to-do's during my brief stay back on the island. Here they are, in no particular order. On Friday I will re-post this with details about the success/failure of each!

  • I want to run across the street after the DON'T WALK man stops flashing and just goes solid. - Did it, several times. It was equal parts thrilling and time-saving, my two favorite elements.
  • I want some sleazy guy working construction to yell "smile baby" as I stomp down the street. THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED! Construction site on 26th just West of 7th Avenue. I fell for it.
  • I want to see a New York celebrity. Not a Kardashian. Not Cat Deeley. Not some guy who's on CSI. I want someone currently on Broadway, an SVU regular, or, best yet, a member of the SJP clan. Ed Koch: Breakfast at The Gramercy Park Hotel. Seth Meyers!!!: F Train uptown from West 4th Street. And, fulfilling my SJP dream/wish: Willie Garson aka STANFORD BLATCH: Bryant Park. CLEANED UP.
  • I want to eat a sesame bagel with veggie cream cheese from Murray's Bagels on 6th Avenue. I failed on this one, big time. I just couldn't get myself to Murray's in time on Friday AM before my train to see R's family. I blame my slower L.A. pace.
  • I want some guy on the subway to try and sell me batteries. Nice dice on this, but a guy did offer to sell me a DVD of 21 JUMP STREET.
  • I want some guy on the street to try to get me to support Children's International. Check. I was also asked to support The Human Rights Campaign and something having to do with puppies.
  • I want to have zero trouble hailing a cab during a crazy-busy time of day. Done.
  • I want to have lots of trouble hailing a cab during a crazy-busy time of day and then say, "screw it, I can walk there faster."This happened too, except instead of saying, "screw it," I said, "ohmygod why can't I get a cab?! What is this?? L.A.?! Now I'm going to have to walk 25 blocks!!" Yes, I am very ashamed of myself.
  • I want to have one more drink than I probably should. (preferably at The Dove with Dani and Geanna). I was sensible at The Dove. I was not the night before at The House of Brews...
  • I want to grab one of those deep, round plastic containers full of lettuce, hand it to a man behind a glass partition, bark seven ingredients at him in rapid succession, say "balsamic vinegarette please," and have him hand me a salad, and I want all of that to happen in under 30 seconds. Check, and oh man did it feel good.
  • I want to be overdressed on purpose, just like everyone else. Duh.
  • I want to smell the sweet smell of street meat, a street pretzel, a street hot dog, and street bacon out of a coffee cart. Got all but the pretzel. I don't think they're as easy to find outside of Midtown, and I wasn't willing to go there just to smell a pretzel.
  • I want to get a little sweaty from walking too fast.Did it, thanks to the gorgeous 65 degree weather.
  • I want a large coffee with cream and sugar from Bonsignour on 8th Avenue and Jane Street. Devastated to say that this too was skipped due to lack of time.
  • And, most importantly of all, I want to hear 17+ ads for Empire Carpets while I'm watching The Today Show in the morning so I can sing along (800-588-2300 EMPIIIIIIRE, today!). I counted, for sake of this post slash my OCD, 12 times in two days watching The Today Show. That's practically 17+, and totally unbelievable. That said, it would be nice to get a whole second room carpeted for the price of one.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

My list of "must do/see/have" over my brief trip to New York


I'm back in New York for a hot minute right now for a combo business/family holiday trip.

As those of you who have been reading this blog since its B.C. (before California) era know, I have an unreasonable love-affair with Manhattan. I believe it is the greatest city in the world. I believe it was wildly defining to my life. Here, by way of one example, is the post I wrote about leaving it behind for Los Angeles. It's literally a letter to the city, that's how bizarre I am about our "relationship."

Therefore it's only natural that I have an unreasonable and ridiculous list of to-do's during my brief stay back on the island. Here they are, in no particular order. On Friday I will re-post this with details about the success/failure of each!

  • I want to run across the street after the DON'T WALK man stops flashing and just goes solid.
  • I want some sleazy guy working construction to yell "smile baby" as I stomp down the street.
  • I want to see a New York celebrity. Not a Kardashian. Not Cat Deeley. Not some guy who's on CSI. I want someone currently on Broadway, an SVU regular, or, best yet, a member of the SJP clan.
  • I want to eat a sesame bagel with veggie cream cheese from Murray's Bagels on 6th Avenue.
  • I want some guy on the subway to try and sell me batteries.
  • I want some guy on the street to try to get me to support Children's International.
  • I want to have zero trouble hailing a cab during a crazy-busy time of day.
  • I want to have lots of trouble hailing a cab during a crazy-busy time of day and then say, "screw it, I can walk there faster."
  • I want to have one more drink than I probably should. (preferably at The Dove with Dani and Geanna).
  • I want to grab one of those deep, round plastic containers full of lettuce, hand it to a man behind a glass partition, bark seven ingredients at him in rapid succession, say "balsamic vinegarette please," and have him hand me a salad, and I want all of that to happen in under 30 seconds.
  • I want to be overdressed on purpose, just like everyone else.
  • I want to smell the sweet smell of street meat, a street pretzel, a street hot dog, and street bacon out of a coffee cart.
  • I want to get a little sweaty from walking too fast.
  • I want a large coffee with cream and sugar from Bonsignour on 8th Avenue and Jane Street.
  • And, most importantly of all, I want to hear 17+ ads for Empire Carpets while I'm watching The Today Show in the morning so I can sing along (800-588-2300 EMPIIIIIIRE, today!).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Major Case for Zumba-ing


On Saturday morning around 10:00AM I took a Zumba class at 3rd Street Dance - the relic of a dance studio two blocks from my new apartment.

On Saturday morning around 11:05AM I decided to write this blog post.

See, here's the thing...s. I hate to exercise, in the traditional sense. I was never an athlete, and I didn't belong to a gym until I was about 25-years-old. Because of these two fact combined, I don't exactly know what to do inside a gym. I know elliptical, I know treadmill, I know that machine that makes your legs go UpUpUp, and I know that I hate them all. I get bored. I get tired. I get hurty in weird places, likely because I'm using the machine wrong. I'm also pretty inclined to give up if I've decided going on is too annoying/tiring/hurty. Sometimes I do take traditional exercise classes like "Spin" or "Step" as a way to shame myself into not stopping, but I'm not particularly good at riding a bike or marching up and down stairs, so my participation is short and embarassingly-lived.

Then I found Zumba.

To best understand the nature of Zumba and the effects it can have on your abs, I recommend watching the below video:




Note: I have never and will never wear those pants, despite my affection for this dance craze.

Now, things you should know about me in relation to this discovery:
  • I took dance classes from age 3 to age 18.
  • I have seen STEP UP more times than I have seen STAR WARS.
  • Sometimes when I'm sad, I YouTube videos of my favorite routines from So You Think You Can Dance (or, as I call it...out loud, S-Y-T-Y-C-D)
  • If you are a beat - no matter how low or faint - I will find you, and I will dance to you with all my might.
  • Honorable mention: I believe - perhaps falsely - that I have both Latin American and African American flavor to my dance style slash person.

Things you should know about Zumba - if you have not already been indoctrinated into the cult:

  • It is like that scene in SHE'S ALL THAT where the whole prom breaks into a crazy-fun dance routine except "the whole prom" is "the whole room full of middle-aged women" and there's a really good-looking man named Raul teaching you the dance moves.
  • You will sweat like whoa but you will not notice that it's happening because you'll be having so much fun dancing to LMFAO.
  • You will not quite know what you're doing as Raul walks you through the moves to each individual song (a typical hour-long class features about 8-10 songs of varying length, and it's one dance "routine" per song), but that won't matter because no one really knows, and it's just as much fun if you do your own dance moves.
  • Which, speaking of, there will be an opportunity in several of the songs to "freestyle" (do your own dance moves), and this moment will represent the greatest joy you've felt in weeks (outside of other more obvious moments of sheer joy...).
  • When it comes to the point where Raul makes you do this dance move that is curiously like fast-paced leg lunges, you won't hate him like you've hated actual exercise instructors who've made you do painful leg lunges because Raul puts a Selena song on and makes everyone sing along as they lunge. Ugh she was too young...
  • There are only so many environments where shimmying your shoulders to make your boobies jiggle is considered an exercise move. This is one of them, and that fact should not be underestimated.
  • See above, replace "shimmying your shoulders" with shimmying your booty. Delight.
I'm telling you, you need to take a class. Do it for me. Do it for Selena (whose moves could arguably be called the seeds of Zumba). Or, better yet, do it for your mom who, if my 3rd Street Dance class is any indication, is probably all ready doing it for herself.

Please report back.