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Nonsense

I’m Addicted To The Daily Mail And I Can’t Stop

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I had a relatively stable upbringing. There was nothing that Jeremy Kyle would shout at the my mother for, apart from maybe not cultivating an exactly riveting environment to learn in. There was the time she almost burned the house down due to post natal depression, but that shouldn’t be held against her; it was entertaining in it’s own special way. We didn’t like the kitchen anyway. Manmade fabrics had a lot to answer for, even before Anna Ryder Richardson and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen ruined interior design for everyone.

Categories
TV

Why We Love TV

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Unless you’ve been hiding under a Mike Baldwin shaped rock for the past few days, you won’t have missed the sad passing of Anne Kirkbride, the soap behemoth behind Deirdre Barlow. Deirdre, the character who ensnared a nation with her unlikely sexual prowess; she once seduced Street lothario Dev Alahan, to the collective disgust of the nation. Deirdre, who swept the nation up when she was incarcerated for fraud. Deirdre, who’s glasses coined their own term and inspired a trend in the late 80s. Everyone has a relative who quickly pulls away faded photographs from the 1980s where they have voluminous perms and even more bigger spectacles. Deirdre Barlow touched a lot of areas that you wouldn’t get with characters from Hollyoaks or, even worse, failed Channel Five soap opera, Family Affairs. But with her inevitable death in Coronation Street, we also get a passing in our living rooms and lives. The goings on between Ken Barlow and his sometimes faithful wife have had us watching for decades. Even when he went through that wanderlust spell with Stephanie Beecham, we still wanted them back together. Ken and Deirdre go together like banana and custard, or really dour Mondays and videos of puppies on YouTube. There’s almost an inevitability to it.

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TV

Jessica Lange Is Leaving American Horror Story. And What?

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“Yes, I’m done,” confirmed Jessica Lange on Sunday, putting to rest months and months of speculation about whether she was going to continue with the show into its fifth season, or bow out like some people think she probably should have done a few seasons ago. Which means that Lange is leaving an almost bursting cast of – maybe – regulars as well as new additions like Cheyenne Jackson, Matt Bomer and Lady Gaga to fend for themselves against the haunted hotel. Incidentally does anyone else picture Lady Gaga in a bedsheet, creeping around the corridors of a Travel Inn in Prestatyn?

Lange is undoubtedly one of the finest actors to appear in the show, and has clawed herself from obscurity to be a pretty big deal, just like Elsa Mars from Freak Show. Perhaps not as great as how people will credit her, but still one of the most commendable things to come from the show. Is she as good as Zachary Quinto and his brief yet significant role as Bloody Face in Coven? Probably not. Or is she better than Connie Britton? Although Britton was only in one series, back when American Horror Story was new and exciting and not a partially woven together mish mash mess, she was still well remembered.

Is this the key to why Jessica Lange in AHS has become a bit of a tired concept? Have we seen everything that she can do, and the writers can create for her? She’s consistently portrayed as a massive bitch who does whatever she wants to whoever she pleases and finally gets her comeuppance by the end of the series, via some catchy musical numbers. It’s the generic megabitch trope that we’ve seen in everyone from Joan Collins to Joan Crawford. Although gays absolutely love bitches, in a world of instant gifs, Tumbr reposts and the desire for everything to go viral, it’s lazy and pandering. And it’s this pandering which has probably lessened Lange’s impact. If we’re not going to be shown something new and innovative, like American Horror Story was at the beginning, then why bother? Lange can absolutely portray more than just that one character, so why not just let us see that?

Sarah Paulson, another one of AHS’ regulars has played characters as varied as a siamese twin, a blind witch and a career focused lesbian who got herself sectioned to expose Lange’s mistreatment of her wards. She hasn’t been typecast as one type of character or resorted to being a bit of titillation like Evan Peters’ characters, and more importantly Evan Peters’ character’s butts. She’s had expansive and cohesive character arcs from beginning to end. Admittedly a lot of them came from a reused mother/daughter situation, but still explored different sides of the relationship.

Maybe a series of AHS without Lange would be a good thing and not an excuse for everyone to drop to their keyboards and start extolling why this is going to be the worst episode of American Horror Story yet. Imagine it, a series where Lange doesn’t pout and murder her way through it, and instead, we see a series where unexpected character interactions rule the day. Imagine seeing Evan Peters kicking back with Cheyenne Jackson without the terror that Lange might just be out of eye sight, plotting her revenge. Or worse, attempting another German accent.

Categories
Reviews TV TV Reviews

Inside Amy Schumer

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Don’t know who Amy Schumer is? Don’t be surprised; she doesn’t know who you are either, but whereas she doesn’t really have any reason to know who you are, you have been ample opportunities to be aware of her semi-greatness. Actress, stand up comedian, woman, Amy Schumer is like the white noise of showbusiness. Popping up once in a while and pricking a memory about seeing her in something else before but can’t quite remember from where. If this was a British actress, the chances that she once appeared in Larkrise To Candleford as ‘Plucky Apple Wench #1’ would be quite high. As lists of things go, having 30 Rock, Louie, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Girls on ‘Things What I Have Appeared In’ is a pretty good one. Imagine having actually spoke to Tina Fey. And for her to like you instead of just pretending to be Jenna Maroney.

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Reviews TV TV Reviews

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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I’ve just sat through six hours of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s really early on Mother’s Day and to be honest I’m either too tired or buzzed to celebrate it. I’m too tired or buzzed because I’ve finally found what my heart has been missing since 30 Rock – the GREATEST comedy ever created – finished. And my new love? Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Categories
Fashion Men's Fashion

My Style Icons (oddly remiss of anyone called David Beckham)

Image2013 was a massive year for Justin Timberlake. Not only did he return to our ears with some very questionable pop music, but he was also voted GQ’s Most Stylish Man of 2013. Which is a massive shame really, because yet again a perfectly respectable role model has had his natural good looks rewarded again. It’s a shame when these things happen, because every weird looking dude wants to look brilliant and impress that special someone; especially in these days of longer hours and the risk of redundancies hanging over our heads like tinsel that you’ve forgotten to take down. And whats the easiest way to dress to impress? By imitating someone else’s style of course! Unfortunately there aren’t a multitude of achievable male style icons milling around to pick from: Davids Gandy and Beckham always seem to lead the way in polls about Best Dressed Men, followed shortly by Robert Downey Junior and people like Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch. Which is fine, y’know? These men are undoubtedly good looking (except for Cumberbatch who looks like Dr. Moreau mixed a deer with the very idea of having a stiff upper lip). But one things links all these people together. No, not having the best stylists available to them so they can polish a turd, but they’re almost always seen in suits and slightly more formal casual attire. Except for David Beckham who’s totally brilliant shots for H&M really gave meaning to when the Spice Girls (and Victoria mimed) ‘too much of something is bad enough’, mainly because dat ass.

Categories
Fashion Men's Fashion

My Style Resolutions

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Let me ask you a question: have you ever seen dark times and faced uncertain odds while shopping? I have. My lowest day was circling the reduced rails of Primark looking for something to wear for New Year’s Eve after flat out refusing to pay £15 for a shirt. I wasn’t skint so I knew I could afford something much better, and I don’t know whether it was because it didn’t look like it cost £15 to make, or because it probably wasn’t ethically sourced, but I couldn’t do it. Maybe it was because deep down in my roots I’m a coop of pigeons away from settling on Coronation Street as the ruffian neighbour who has an eye for the ladies, and the men. But whatever it was, it resulted in my rifling through the reduced rails and eyeing up a shirt with a repetitive labrador print. Obviously everyone has their own styles and approach to fashion, but what happens when you get lost on the path of excellence and drift into a world of labrador prints and drop crotch chinos? You need a kick up the bum, is what you need. Which is what the following words will be; a huge kick up the bum for me, because I’ve been to that sorry place and I know that I need help. I’ve faced dark times and I know the fear, but up until now, I haven’t known what to do about it.

Categories
Video Games

Five Lego Games We Will Never See

With the announcement of yet another new Lego game, this time Lord Of The Rings, it’s time that people stepped outside of the box and thought about what would be a brilliant addition to the series, and not just another bore-a-thon.

So this is my Top Five Lego games that I would like to see.

1. Lego Aliens

Although I’ve been on a Xenomorph kick for a few weeks, this is still a great idea. Imagine a blocky Sigourney Weaver with adjustable hair jogging around the different films made in Lego form. The claustrophobic deck of the Nostromo to the labyrinthine tunnels of Fiorina 161. With a tiny version of Bishop that detonates with alarming regularity that eventually little Weaver, in Alien‘s jumpsuit but with Alien 3 hair just rolls her eyes.

2. Lego Star Trek

Perhaps one of the greatest things that I’ve ever thought of is a Lego equivalent of Star Trek, but not just one incarnation. EVERY incarnation. Captain Pike going up against The Borg in his Fantastic Beeping Wheelchair. Doctor McCoy and Scotty going to toe to toe with Lursa and B’etor. And answer the question that has plagued every Trekker’s minds: who would win in a fight between Nurse Chapel, Seven of Nine and Deanna Troi. All the while finding enough blue bricks to build the Defiant.

3. Lego Jurassic Park

Lego Jurassic Park would be brilliant for a few reasons; namely a tiny Richard Attenborough trying to get the better of a pack of Velociraptor in top hats.

4. Lego Marvel Universe

As Avengers vs X-Men flips between being brilliant and just another massive fight, and Avengers Assemble riding high as the film that’s sold more than anything else in the World, and probably worth more than Greece is at the minute, the time is ripe for Lego versions of fan favourites, and Dazzler. With hundreds of characters ready to be made into plastic form, with even more variations of costume over the years, it sets up the option for Easter Eggs and Downloadable Content. Want the Grant Morrison era of New X-Men? 79p please. Dark Phoenix? 79p please.

5. Lego Chris Columbus

How wonderful would it be to team up Kevin McAllister from Home Alone, Mikey Walsh from The Goonies and Mrs Doubtfire and fight off an army of Gremlins? It’d be so brilliant that I bet you’ve all got to wipe that dot off your underwear now.

Categories
TV

Top Five TV Housewives

The job of housewife has had a bit of a bad press over the past few decades. Instead of women accepting that when they get married they will look after the house and raise children (not what we would expect, but mainly a comment on social norms of the 60s) women desiring to be housewives are shot down by progressive feminists who want to rule the World with an iron business suit. It’s neither a bad thing or a good thing. It’s just a differing set of norms that were around fifty years ago. No biggie. Things change.

But where would we be without housewives on our TV screens?

The “traditional” nuclear family with a spin has been the mainstay of sitcoms and dramas for almost as long as TV has been around. Look at Happy Days. The Cunninghams were a decent, middle class family who lived in the suburbs. Aspirational stuff, I think we’ll all agree. But aspiration isn’t funny or entertaining; The Syndicate has shown us that recently. Instead, Garry Marshall took the conventional family and added elaborate and uncontrollable elements to it. Like the Fonz. Or that time that Weezer played in Arnold’s. It’s what made the whole thing entertaining. But at the very centre of the show was the family unit.

Successful sitcoms thrive on taking an already established norm and subverting it for their own gains. Almost forty years after Happy Days first aired, Modern Family is still taking the tried and tested and changing it for their own benefits. Gone is the close knit family, and instead there’s an extended family. A more contemporary take on the same idea. Or Happy Days if they kept it going for another ten years.

But if Til Death Us Do Part has shown us nothing, it’s that the place of a sassy housewife can make or break a sitcom. Else Garnett was a downtrodden yet resilient woman who always had the upper hand over her racist, and frankly disgusting, husband. She knew her husband more than he knew himself. And that was just one of the fantastic things about Til Death Us Do Part. But that’s a story for another time.

A housewife isn’t the be all and end all of a sitcom, but a good housewife can take a mediocre one and turn it into something timeless, so pop on an apron and tickle that foof gently as we look at Six of the most influential housewives of the past sixty years.

#5 – Samantha Stephens (Bewitched, played by Elizabeth Montgomery)

Just edging Lucille Ball out of the list is Samantha Stephens, the witchy wife of Darrin Stephens. Not to be confused with Jeanie from I Dream Of Jeanie, who was essentially the same character just with Larry Hagman instead of the Dicks York and Sargent.

Samantha is almost essentially the same character as Lucy, but where Samantha pushes her into a muddy puddle is that Samantha had to put her with her meddling mother, the witch known as Endora. Not just a normal, fussy mother-in-law. This woman had powers people and wasn’t afraid to use them. Terrorising bosses, house guests, any middle class ideal was a target to be turned into balloons or goats. And it wasn’t just her mother Samantha was fighting, but also fighting to save the status quo of the upper-middle class life that Darrin had established for them. It was a common issue for housewives in the 60s. Although they were completely powerless to implement ideas to get more money into the bank account (although many housewives had “menial” jobs at the constant behest of men), housewives were expected to salvage the more social aspects of the affluent lifestyle: dinner parties, soirees, orgies, things like that.

#4 – Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development, played by Jessica Walter)

On the face of it, Lucille Bluth is a vicious and unloving mother who benefits from her husband’s dodgy dealings by living in the lap of luxury at the expense of misappropriated Bluth Company funds and Saddam Hussein, but as the series plays out and we get to see more of Lucille’s character as she interacts with people coming in and out of her children’s lives, we see that she would do anything to keep her family together.

But only because keeping her family together means that she will always have someone to blame for massive crimes (and some light treasons) because instead of George Bluth being the culprit of the embezzlement and illegal transactions, its actually Lucille who’s the mastermind.

She is a truly evil woman, whose amorality is only outdone by her narcissism. Nothing stands in Lucille Bluth’s way, whether it be the control of the Bluth Company from her son Michael, or her worrying grasp on her youngest son, Buster, she’s a woman who always gets her way. And isn’t that just what every woman should be?

#3 – Linda La Hughes (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme, played by Kathy Burke)

Although not technically a housewife in a traditional sense, La Hughes is a cosmopolitan take on a traditional “odd couple” role, but not because they’re behaviour is such a nightmare to life with that they’ve gravitated towards each other in a way that a Judge would be surprised that the double murder didn’t happen earlier, and also because they’re two totally reprehensible characters that won’t find love with anyone else, so they, unconsciously, settle for each other.

Vain, conceited, arrogant, unreservedly ugly, La Hughes sees the World at fault for not keeping up with her opinions and that nothing will stand in her way for a swing of the pork sword.

Despite being clearly disgusting, Linda has a love/hate relationship with her flatmate Tom. On one hand, she enjoys going out and getting lathered with him, while at the same time hating that she probably won’t find someone while their relationship is so close.

#2 – Gloria Delgado-Pritchett (Modern Family, played by Sofia Vergara)

On the face of it, Gloria is a gold digger who has bagged herself a rich, old husband who will look after her for years. She’s beautiful, ditzy and, with her thick Columbian accent, one bad day away from being a vicious killer. Which is how a more boring sitcom might have written it, but that’s not what Modern Family is about. Instead of going down the usual roads of sitcom clichés, Modern Family sticks to it’s main inspiration, stories about the creators’ modern families.

Part loving mother and part protective den mother, Gloria is not to be messed with. Whether it’s standing up for her heritage while her husband (sitcom legend Ed O’Neill) tries to play it down, or decapitating a rat with a shovel before going to Church, and leaving the head as reminder for the other rats, Gloria is a unique character in the World of housewives. Volatile yet loving, there’s no one quite like Gloria Delgado-Pritchett.

#1 – The Animated Housewife

This is a bit of a cheat, because this isn’t just one housewife, but hundreds of them, all from the same template. Wilma Flintstones, Jane Jetson, Marge Simpson, Lois Griffin/Francine Smith/Donna Tubbs Brown. There’s probably hundreds of them that we all know about.

Epitomising the housewives of 60s sitcoms like Elizabeth Montgomery, Pat Priest, Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Eden, these characters have stood the test of time because they distil what actual women experience each day and inject it with sassy wit or an interesting twist. Like chemistry if chemistry was sexy and word based. With Lois Griffin it was latent violent tendencies, Francine Smith had a seedy past filled with spells in prison and being a roadie and Jane Jetson had a secret smack addiction.

Why this band of women are Number One is for one simple reason: they’ve been successful for over forty years in one incarnation or another, and will probably be successful in another forty because they’re universal and can be twisted and moulded to any situation that’s necessary. Is it a surprise that Seth MacFarlane is going to reboot The Flintstones after taking heavy inspiration from Wilma and Fred in almost all of his creations.