Contento? (Television Thoughts: Sister Act, Vida S03 E 01, Starz)

MV5BMGY0NDExYjQtN2E5NS00NDc2LWE0ODMtOWFlYTcxMGQ2ZDM2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDA4NzMyOA@@._V1_I had been looking forward to the third (and supposedly last) season of Vida. I have been with these girls from the very start, and want to continue with them on their journey. As the third season starts, we see both Emma and Lyn very… happy. Lyn is enjoying seeing a good review of Vida the bar, and Emma and Nico has been having a ‘finger fiesta.’ (Lyn’s exact words, which I thought was hilarious) But you know that there is drama around the corner, because as we learned from last season, their father is very much alive, and that is looming over everything – I suspect that will be a major story line this season.

But we aren’t there yet – their happiness seems to be sustaining even if things are coming their way. For Emma, it’s the appearance of Zoe at the bar – she is Nico’s ex and is acting like a fool. The old Emma would have made a big stink of that, but this new one is even-keeled and I like it. Lyn is still going hot and heavy with Rudy – he even invites her to a party to meet his mother, where Lyn gets to meet people who don’t think she is Mexican enough. Again, this is the new and more mature Lyn, and after a conversation with a waiter, realizes she just need to fight on. I don’t think that is the end of it, though, as I feel Rudy’s mom is up to something.

This happy set up is, of course, going to be upended. And I can’t wait for the season to rumble.

Don’t Bother They’re Here (Television Thoughts: We’re Here, HBO)

We_re_Here_TV_Series-694763964-mmedDrag queens are fun and all, but I just find the mainstream incarnation of them to be pretty boring. I come from that age when the ones I like had different personalities, and their personalities came from their brains and not their eyelashes. I have not really seen any Ru Paul’s Drag Race anything, so I found myself wondering why I sat there sitting and watching the premiere episode of  HBO’s “We’re Here.”

I mean, it’s such a product. I cannot see anything original in this show. Three queens – Shangela, Eureka O Hara, and Bob The Drag Queen go from one conservative town to another to try to convert some of these closed-minded people to accept diversity. It’s a noble concept, but it is also a blatant ripoff of Queer Eye.  And I don’t know who I have less patience with – the queens or the bigots.

Friends With Benefits (Television Thoughts: Celebrity IOU, HGTV )

ciouI got sucked in the ‘Celebrity IOU’ hype because of its fourth episode. Michael Bublé was the special guest celebrity and he was gifting his grandfather’s house to Milette, his late grandfather’s caregiver. So many people in m circle was talking about it that I said fuck this, I will watch this show. I am not a HGTV viewer, and to be honest, I have only heard of the Property Brothers, and do not really know who they are. But this is not just your typical Home Improvement show – this features A-list celebrities – Brad Pitt, Melissa McCarthy – gifting special people in their lives a ‘house renovation.’

It’s a simple formula reality home improvement show, but this time it just involves A list celebrities – so you get the human element with a celebrity dazzle, and you get the ‘feel good’ factor for the situations. I have to admit I was taken by the ’emotional’ bit here, and really, I should know better. Everything of course is manufactured, primes for extreme waterworks. I thought the celebrities were charming, and it was good to see them as ‘humans.’ Brad Pitt, Viola Davis, Michael Buble – they all projected to be most likable after, and this would only help their image.

My one question, though, – does the network/show pay for the renovations? From what I can gather, they do do (based on sponsorships, etc) and based on the record-breaking ratings this show is garnering, it may even be worth their time.

Love Is Normal (Television Thoughts: Normal People, Hulu)

poster-780What brings to people together? I don’t think there’s a formula for it. Hulu’s ‘Normal People’ is a love story between Connor and Marianne. Based on Sally Rooney’s book, there are times when, while watching it, that I would think to myself, there is nothing happening here story wise. But so much happens in every scene, and every glance, every kiss forwards the story that I can’t remember the last time I watched two characters on screen and felt like I know them inside and out, I binge-watched this in a weekend, and felt so intimately involved with the characters that I felt like they were life-long friends by the end. And we follow their love story through a lot – starting from high school till when Conner gets an MFA offer in New York City.

Conner and Marianne are perfectly cast in Paul Mescal and Daisy Edgar-Jones. They start out as unlikely pairs in secondary school  – he is a football hero and she is an intellectual outcast. His friends make fun of her, she broods on her own. His mother works as a housekeeper in her house, and that’s when they begin a sort-of friendship that ultimately brings them together. And the clandestine relation ship is instantly sexual. You feel bad for her because she has to hide it, but he hides a lot – his one word answer on everything shows that he has his guards up all the time. Their relationship ends with him asking someone else at their final school dance. They meet up later at Trinity College in Dublin, and of course, there is rekindling,

What I love most about the show is the element of melancholy that permeates in every pore of these characters. They are damaged, for sure, but among all of us, who isn’t? And they do break up and get back together a number of times in the show which can make it exhaustive, but then again relationships are exhaustive, and for me, everything still made sense. there is an awful lot of sex scenes in the show (and flesh shown) but somehow it never felt gratuitous – through them we seen the inner bearings of both characters. I loved living in their world, and I remember sitting at the main square of trinity College in Dublin thinking how life might be for students there – this show gave me a nice glimpse.

And it ends wonderfully – it is not a happey-ever-after, nor a can-never-be-together, Just like real life and love, there are maybes, and even if the maybes turn to yes or nos,  there will always be somehows. With love, one never truly knows.

To Teach To Cheat (Movie Thoughts: Bad Education, HBO)

EVAgfhdUEAAA87ZWe all know Hugh Jackman as the ultimate Australian Showman (to me he was most memorable on Broadway as Peter Allen in ‘The Boy from Oz’) so wqe sometimes forget what. great actor he can be. On ‘Bad Education,’ he plays Dr. Fran Tassone, who was instrumental in making Roslyn High School in Long Island the fourth-ranked educational district in the country. But, Tassone was also involved in an embezzlement scheme worth millions. Jackman as Tassone is so charming and charismatic that we as an audience felt like we were taken along with the scheme as well. As a matter of fact, I found myself kind of rooting for him, the anti-hero in the scenario. This film, directed by Cory Finley, takes us to the crime story in a pretty straightforward manner – we see Tassone and his main cohort Pamela Gluckin (Allison Janney also great here) was able to cheat the system, and how when she got caught, how the schools system ‘covered up’ the severity of the case. I was riveted by the story, and I wonder why I never paid attention to this tsory since I still lived in New York when all this was happening.

We’re Still Here (Stage/Web Thoughts: Take Me To The World: A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration, BroadwayCom)

maxresdefaultThe neon lights of Broadway may be dimmed right now, show queens like me? We’re still here. I was waiting with anticipation for ‘A Sondheim 90th Birthday Celebration’  on Sunday night, and the tech problems that they were initially having just whet my appetite for it more – it was a shame that it was up against the LGBT fundraiser concert as I would like to have checked that out as well. I was watching it very briefly while waiting for this concert, but as soon as this worked out it skinks, I abandoned it. This was a truly emotional evening, and all in all, I don’t know if there was a performance I would have taken out. But first, let me start with the ones I connected with the most – Donna Murphy’s ‘Send In the Clowns’  took my breath away – she knew how to mine those lyrics without an ounce of overselling. And ‘Someone In a Tree’ is already hard to pull off on stage, and here with the four square Zoom blocks, I was surprised to see it done just as effectively. There’s a certain poignancy to Mandy Patinkin’s ‘Lesson no 8’ out in the fields, and Jake Gylenhaal and Annalyn Ashford’s ‘Move On’ wrecked me to copious tears. But that’s just the top. I know everyone and their mothers are creaming over the “Ladies Who Lunch” with Audra, Meryl and Christine (first names only, please) and of course I loved that too, and it was especially poignant to see Aaron Tveit do ‘Marry Me A Little’ knowing he had the COVID 19 virus. I asked myself – were there any performances that I thought were ‘weaker,’ and in this context, a weak one in this lineup would still be miles better than anything else, and I just had to say NPH’s smugness turns me off, putting his performance of ‘The Witches Rap’ there, and my irrational dislike of Randy Rainbow mars that performance for me as well. But all in all, I am in awe of this line up, of this celebration on these times.

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It’s… Jonny! (Television Thoughts: Making The Cut, Season 1 Finale)

mttSo there it is… the finale. I have been writing about this show since it premiered, and here we are at the end of the line. Bow do I feel? I was telling a friend that the results, for me, as a little disappointing, but somewhat predictable. They have hammered over and over that they are looking for a new global brand, and they got one. It’s Jonny. He wouldn’t have been my first, or even second, choice but it all makes sense why he won.  He is the most polished brand of the three, and if his stuff is familiar, and ‘store read,’ so be it. If this was Project Runway, he wouldn’t have gone far. He certainly was not the most creative or artistic person in the competition, but it is hard to ignore that he knew his brand best, and is willing to compromise in the spirit of ‘commerce.’  Sander, who was my pick, was perhaps too green and Esther was too unwilling to compromise, but there is no denying that they were more talented artists – I think even Jonny would say that. But, Jonny would make the most money for Amazon, and in the end, it’s all about the Benjamins.

Mystery, with a side of Fries (Television Thoughts: McMillions, HBO)

MV5BZjQ0ZWQxOWQtMDA4Ny00ZTg2LWE1NGUtYjYwZWI4MzZkZTI0XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTkxNjUyNQ@@._V1_Who would have thought s documentary about the McDonalds Monopoly game fraud would be so…exciting for me? At first, I didn’t really think I would be too interested in ‘McMillions,’ the HBO Documentary about the Monoploy game from McDonalds from the late 90s. I remember playing the game myself, matching the pieces with a paper game board I got from the Sunday magazine. But I was never a fanatic of the game, and for some reason I am not sa big McDonalds fan, too. I like their fries, and their breakfast sandwiches, but their burgers bore me. And where was I when all this was going on and being reported in the news? I have no recollection of this big story, or I wasn’t paying attention? I don’t know if that helped my enjoyment of the series, but I was definitely fascinated by the story. The six-part series is well done, and it is one of those binge-worthy show. I had other things on my plate, but I found myself going back to the show over and over to see how it all played out. The cast of characters are fascinating, starting with FBI Agent Doug Matthews, who seems like an instant film. character – over the top, larger than life. I don’t know if I would trust him myself, but for the show he is pure gold. And the rest of people involved were all interesting, and the narrative took you places you didn’t would, from the New York area mob families to Mormon parishioners. I was riveted, and there were mysteries upon mysteries: How did Jacobsin get the tickets? Who was the informant? In the end, I was craving a Big Mac.

Go Europe! (Television Thoughts: Making The Cut S01 E07 E08)

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I just finished watching Episode 8 of ‘Making The Cut,’ and the final three has been revealed. And thank God Megan did not make the cut. I felt all along that she was a weak designer compared to the other contestants, and to add, she has a bad attitude. And this was very evident in episode 7 when she trashed Jonny’s dress. Jonny was classy and defended himself without being negative about Megan’s work, but she went there, and she needed to go. Be gone.

That said, I told you all along Sander was here to win. I just like his aesthetic more than Esther, but I probably will not be mad if she won, too. But then Jonny could be a dark horse in all of this as well.

It’s Up To You New York (Television Thoughts: Real Housewives of New York, Season 12 E01)

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New York, I am breaking up with you. Bravo’s ‘The Real Housewives of New York’ was my last link to the Housewives franchise. I don’t know, but maybe I have truly outgrown the genre. I stopped getting interested in Beverly Hills, and now with Lisa Vanderpump gone, I truly have no reason to watch. I even gave up on Vanderpump Rules, because even I seemed too mature for it. I thought my New York roots would keep me connected to RHONY, but this just is too ridiculous for me. I saw the first episode of Season 12 and it just felt limo for me – all these middle aged women fighting, creating fights, stirring, they just got to me after a while, And Ramona, who is a Trump supporter, in the middle of it all – well I just found myself clicking my remote off and tuning to something else. So I don’t know if I will ever miss this, but for now, it’s goodbye.