‘Tis the Season

“I can’t believe it’s December already,” said every single person at your office this morning.

We can’t believe it either. It’s almost time to start planning what entertainment to binge-watch over the holidays, while trapped at your parents’ home with no car. Thankfully, we came across this list of titles that Netflix is adding to their streaming service this month. Here are some of our faves and to-dos on our bucket list.

ALISON

Broadchurch, Season One – Ahahahaha swooped in on this one before Elise could. If you’re into cop drama/mysteries, the BBC, or David Tennant, this is for you. Gracepoint on FOX is essentially the exact same show, but (I can only assume) worse.

Troop Beverly Hills – Don’t take my word on this one, because I have no idea if it’s held up. I would never bet against Shelley Long, though. I watched it approximately seven thousand times on vacation in Lake Tahoe as a kid, because our rental cabin had the Disney Channel Beverly Hills, what a thrill!

The Wolf of Wall Street – Never saw this. Guess I will now. I know enough not to watch it with my parents.

ELISE

The Honourable Woman, Season One – Do you enjoy the idea of Homeland, but wish it were better in every way? Continuously confused/frustrated/angered by the Israel/Palestine conflict? This. Is. The. Show. Was aired by the powerhouses of dark, intelligent and finely-tuned emotional devastation, BBC in the UK and SundanceTV in the US, this past July.

Marco Polo (the show, not to be confused with the enormously entertaining swimming pool game) –  I just heard about this! All television needs do to make me happy is be vaguely historical and include men with accents, wielding swords. This Netflix original series, about the famed explorer making his way to Kublai Khan’s court (who now?), looks very promising.

Ditto The Wolf of Wall Street – Feel obligated to watch, though will probably switch to Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (also available this month!) by the fourth or fifth hour.

thank-you-netflix

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Don’t Let Your Dog Make Dinner

Elise: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Food, family, drinks—and the beginning of an epic holiday season, filled with bizarre traditions and very important rituals, including hikes, an absurd amount of raw cookie dough, and many aggressive games of SORRY!

I know I’m not alone.

Alison: It’s true. To me, Thanksgiving is a national holiday of coziness. Everyone’s wearing nice sweaters and has had a little too much wine. I’ve stayed in the midwest for Thanksgiving for the last seven years, so the day has become a celebration of friends as family. And then I call both sides of my real family, and they pass the phone around and ask me how cold it is.

A very happy Thanksgiving to you all, as you move through your own holiday rituals with friends and family. Here, a few choice moments from one of our most treasured Thanksgiving activities, and a canonical piece of pop culture, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: 

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Overeat, and be merry!

—Alison + Elise

The First Step is Admitting You Have a Problem

I’m a white lady. Need proof? Here are some things I like: Sauvignon Blanc, brunch, Ellen DeGeneres, and that part of Crazy Stupid Love when Ryan Gosling takes his shirt off (also all of Crazy Stupid Love). I believe I am what the youths call a “basic bitch.” (But, wait, actually is that true? Because I’m still not totally sure what it means, and I’m pretty sure I hate the phrase.) I’ve only gone further down the rabbit hole with my most recent obsession: HGTV.

I assumed the channel was all DIY paint jobs and tablescape tutorials. I believed that HGTV’s target demographic was suburban, Martha Stewart-wannabe, much-younger second wives. I don’t take that back. But add me in there, too, because HGTV has some seriously addicting programming.

I was first roped in during lunch in the break room at work. Even if I was due back at my desk, I’d wait out the last few minutes of whatever show was on so that I could see which house was chosen, or what the final remodel looked like. Then I started putting it on at home if there was something I needed to do but wanted background noise. Typically, my life is run by my DVR—but I watch HGTV live.

Whoever structures their content is an evil genius, too, because it’s all timed perfectly to keep you tuned in against your will. One program ends, showing you how well the happy couple has settled into their new home two months later as the credits roll, and then—BOOM—another begins immediately, with just enough sneak peeks to keep you hanging on, because you just gotta find out what that third beach house looks like inside. For a while HGTV was the channel that came on when I turned on the TV. I rarely got out of the room without watching for at least two hours.

An HGTV Drinking Game. Please drink when you hear the following buzzwords:

  • Ensuite
  • Reno (“Renovation” for those not in the know. Chumps.)
  • Open concept
  • Budget
  • Storage
  • Functional
  • Take a shot any time they show footage of a family trying to operate in a comically small space

We’ll all be dead after half an hour.

And now, just in case you haven’t treated yo’ self to some HGTV yet, let me walk you through some key shows:

Love It Or List It

love it or list it

This was my first HGTV show. My gateway drug, if you will. Here, an interior designer and a realtor battle to renovate/find a “dream home” for one family, who then pick whether they’re going to Love their redone digs, or List it and buy a new property. Spoiler alert, I’ve only seen the family List It once. Fun bonus, this takes place in Toronto and everyone has maddening accents. Extra fun bonus, in the Vancouver spin-off version of the show, the interior designer is Jillian the Bachelorette.

House Hunters International

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This one is the most fun and the most infuriating. Sit back and relax, while the world’s most undeserving twits pick the absolute wrong place to live for all the wrong reasons, all while living the life you should be living abroad. Actually, they’re mostly not twits; I’m just unbearably jealous. The properties range from palatial to complete shitholes, but they’re great inspiration for fantasies in which I quit my job and move somewhere tropical. (JK I don’t think I could live in a place where you can’t flush the toilet paper.)

Property Brothers; Buying and Selling; Property Brothers at Home, a.k.a. Weird Twincest House

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They creep me the fuck out. Also, they are rich. Why are they buying and redoing a house in which to live together? Time to exit the womb, dudes.

Also, let me please direct you to the quote, straight from Wikipedia, which explains everything:

“However, before going into real estate as a profession, the brothers tried acting…The two also did improvisational comedy and Jonathan became an illusionist. “

If you didn’t before, you know who they are now.

But their taste is pretty good.

Rehab Addict

rehab

I’ve never seen this one, but as far as I can tell, the point is “Petite, hot ladies are into down and dirty renovations too!” (Sorry, men of the world, mostly they aren’t.)

But it doesn’t matter if I love the shows or hate them, because I’ll watch literally anything that comes on. I’m telling you, I have a problem. And as far as I can tell, I will never own a home. So, friends, if you ever find me with a sledgehammer and a crazed grin, proposing we just “take out that wall” because I have a “genius open-plan layout in my head,” it’s all over. Send me away.

— Alison

Blank Space

It’s not possible. It’s necessary!

– Matthew McConaughey, to a computer

I get it. In dramatic, space-exploration movies, the universe is a metaphor—for the unknown, the final frontier, etc. Gotcha. But despite the heavyhandedness in many of these films, I enjoy them—I loved Gravity, and Contact is one of my all-time favorites.

Scientific leaps in these movies don’t really bother me, either (unless they’re completely egregious—and they would have to be, for someone like me to be like, wait…).

animal in space

I’m pretty much on board, so long as the story is compelling.

It’s true of any genre movie: if the basics are there, the audience stays with you. Character. Relationships. You can get away with a shaky premise, if your story doesn’t lean too heavily on it—or make that premise the center of everything.

Interstellar is in love with explaining itself. It gets off to a promising start: a sexy dad with a decently likable kid, and an interesting futuristic world facing a not-unimaginable calamity: drought and starvation. This is the kind of apocalypse we are actually setting ourselves up for, today and right now. One smart guy struggling to find a solution, or building a sustainable way of living, would have been pretty great to watch.

But instead, we stumble upon a secret government complex and an underground laboratory. Without getting too spoilery, there’s a Plan A and a Plan B for saving humanity. We prefer A, but need Plan B because dramatic tension. Both involve bailing on Planet Earth, which is already a goner. Bummer.

What follows: lots of meander-y talk about relativity, gravity and dimensionality, and every character crying all the time. All. The. Time.

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Which would be not annoying at all, if we had spent any kind of time with these folks, and could empathize. If the movie had made us believe that there were any kind of emotional stakes to, I don’t know—the end of our world. 

Instead, weird science is front-and-center, and the characters are basically strangers—to us, and to each other. Which is completely at odds with Interestallar’s message: love between people is the most powerful force on this, and on every other planet.

Space travel has inspired some of the coolest explorations of human curiosity and imagination, with some of the awesomest adventurers. But Interstellar‘s heroes don’t seem particularly noble, or interesting, or fun–so go ahead, I say. Go to space! I’m fine here.

contact

–Elise

Better Together

Are you following Serial?

Of course you are.

Heard Wrecking Ball, ever?

Of course you have.

For everyone alive and with ears, a very necessary Miley/Serial mashup, brought to our attention by friend of the blog and hilarious individual, Britta Rowings. We love it!

–Alison + Elise

Read It and Weep

Before you read this post, you should probably read this. Otherwise, what follows won’t really make sense. Don’t worry, it’s not long. I’ll wait here.

 

Done? Ok, I shall begin.

When I first came across this Thought Catalog piece last week, I was ENRAGED. I wrote an email to Elise with many “ughhhhh”s, and made angry-feminist sputtering sounds alone in my room.

Now, a few days later, I feel only a wave of sadness and frustration. I am so bored of all the conversations about women that focus too much on their appearance, or on men, or on how not all conversations about women should be about their appearance or men. (Hypocrisy!) Granted, I am surrounded by this more than the average bear because, as an improviser in Chicago, I’m tuned into the never-ending dialogue about “women in comedy.” Are they funny? Can they be both funny and pretty? And if they do happen to be both, how does it feel to be successful in a male-dominated industry? Ughhh, enough! This is all a fucking snoozefest.

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Back to the Thought Catalog piece. I will give the writer, Ofelia Green, some credit. I can’t speak to where she’s drawing from—her own experience, or a friend’s, or just that of women (sorry—girls) at large. But she is attempting to offer relief to girls whose confidence snags on their looks. I don’t deny that Sort-Of-Pretty-Girl Syndrome is a real thing. Movies have taught us that if you’re the wallflower-type, all you need is your Freddie Prinze Jr. to come along and make you take off your metaphorical glasses. Instantly, he’ll fall in love with you for who you are, and, even though he was only dating you on a bet, you’ll eventually forgive him and have serious make outs all over the place.

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But I take issue with the so-called “implications” laid out by the author. The “sort-of-pretty girl” is independent and intelligent and driven, yes—but those traits are props to inflate her looks. Regardless of her achievements, she’s still easily humbled by a compliment and grateful for the unexpected attention. I won’t lie. I’m pretty smart. I have an embarrassingly good memory and very strong opinions. I did not choose to be this way. I just am. It has nothing to do with what I look like (which, by the way, is pretty ok, I think). But I was not always confident about my appearance. And more often than I’d like to admit, I’m still not. But I didn’t waste away reading the encyclopedia by flashlight because my face wasn’t symmetrical enough. (I read Ella Enchanted, thank you very much.) I went through the trials of things like high school and being a virgin for a while that shaped this fully-formed, radiant goddess before you.

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In all honesty, I related to this article more than I wish I had, and that’s probably part of why it made me so mad. For fuck’s sake, I tried to plan the pick-up of my junior prom so that my date would first see me walking down a grand staircase. (My parents’ house does not have such a staircase. I had an elaborate plan involving multiple locations that was, rightly, shot down by everyone.) Once, I might have read this article and felt like it was written for me. But these days, I know it wasn’t, and I worry about any girl that thinks it was.

Why is our Freddie Prinze Jr. that thing we are taught to wait for?! Why can’t we live our lives, and push ourselves, and try new things without those becoming tools to find a Hot Date? Amy Poehler writes in her memoir Yes, Please that she chose early on to be the “plain girl with tons of personality.” Though this could be lassoed in with the thrust of Ms. Green’s article, it actually says very little about how Poehler feels about her appearance. It’s the mantra of a woman living with intention—she actively chooses her own “currency” in a room. Let’s do that, guys. And if, while living this way, we do end up meeting somebody worthwhile, it is a warmly welcomed side-effect of the lives we choose to live. It is not the endgame.

I know I’m not saying anything revolutionary. It just bums me out that I have to say it.

Alison

We’re Not Sorry

What’s breaking our Internet? THIS GIRL! Kim Kardashian can put all that away, thank you very much.

In case you missed it – the best young woman, ever. We want to grow up to be just like her. Happy Friday!!

–Alison + Elise