Re: Holiday Card, 2015

Or, A Year of Mess and Mayhem

As I write this, Facebook is exploding with holiday affection. Tags from JFK, ORD, SFO, ATL, PDX flood my feed—friends passing through city hubs, on their way back from family-filled suburbs and small towns.

f804c3c15614baa861fa7428b1211433.600x

My impression is, one to two weeks at home is just long enough for most people to miss and hug their loved ones without winding up in the kitchen, aggressively doing dishes to drown out the sound of mom suggesting that you “talk to a professional,” while dad speechifies in a wildly inappropriate Indian accent the next room over.

One of the greatest parts about living in DC is that, beginning December 21 or thereabouts, the city goes silent. Like all of Congress, I am a proud and steadfast procrastinator. Come Thanksgiving, I believe there isn’t anything I could do that can’t get done in January. So for the last few months of the year, instead of bettering myself, socializing or being productive in any fashion, I binged the best television of 2015. Turns out, this was incredibly appropriate endeavor for a season often characterized by nervous breakdowns and family squabbles.

In 2015, television was filled with dysfunctional people and uncomfortable mayhem. So-called comediessitcoms!—went all-in on some troubling stuff. The halcyon days of Friends and Gilmore Girls are no longer! TV goes, WE REFLECT YOUR FRACTURED REALITY, MILLENNIALS! SHOW NO MERCY! I just wanted to watch some stories and drink eggnog. Just kidding, eggnog is gross.

Take Hulu’s Casual, for example. A stupendous Michaela Watkins stars as Valerie, a newly-divorced mom living with her teenage daughter and emotionally stunted brother, Alex. Supposedly, the show is a portrait of casual dating—the online variety, hookups at bars, terrible setups, etc. Awkward sex with a bartender! Fantasizing about your hot photography teacher! Discovering that your absolute soul mate is “open,” and that you’re totally not cool with it! Too real.

But really, Casual is about family. Alex and Valerie were wrecked by their wackadoo parents, and work like hell to protect Valerie’s daughter from the same insanity that has made them both incapable of commitment. The series is an enormous heartbreak, one episode at a time.

We wait our whole lives for our parents to apologize. They wait their whole lives for a “thank you.” No one ever gets what they want.

CASUAL

 Ditto season 2 of Transparent, which as been universally adored and think-pieced (I will not subject you to more here). Transparent and Casual are filled with objectively selfish, messed-up people. But these folks are also painfully aware of their shortcomings, and fight them every day—not because they want to be better, but because they want to be happy.

Basically forever, television has been an art form contingent upon empathy. We root for our heroes—and the particular deliciousness of watching The Sopranos and Breaking Bad is in sympathizing with evildoers. Valerie, Alex and the Pfeffermans aren’t villains—they’re clueless jerks. To be human is to commit small, mean crimes against the ones we love most. We all get that, just as anyone can understand the desire to be content, at whatever cost.

These are your people. They love you no matter what.

TRANSPARENT

The most poignant illustration of this phenomenon: season 2 of FXX’s You’re the Worst. This spectacular series follows Jimmy and Gretchen—truly odious people that are made for each other, in all their shitty glory. The first season was a standard (if slightly unpleasant) love story. This year, the show took an unexpected turn: Gretchen falls into a deep depression, and everything falls to pieces.

I can’t tell him my brain is broken.

YOU’RE THE WORST

Depictions of depression are tricky, and I leave it to cleverer critics to judge whether or not Aya Cash’s portrayal is “truthful” or “accurate.” I’m much more interested in the way that Gretchen’s boyfriend and best friends deal with her. Some comfort her. Some look the other way. Jimmy gets angry, and almost leaves about a hundred times.

This is not unexpected. The premise of You’re The Worst is that the characters suuuuuuck. So, it’s almost easier to watch Jimmy say the terrible things we wish we could say when our loved ones are suffering: SNAP OUT OF IT. MAKE A DIFFERENT CHOICE. WHAT ABOUT ME. Still, Gretchen and Jimmy both deserve happy endings.

anigif_enhanced-3820-1438277845-19

Casual, Transparent and You’re The Worst are billed as comedies. A bundle of laughs, all of them! Except I did laugh. A lot. Not the way I giggle at Bridesmaids or Parks and Rec. But—as anyone who has taken Intro to English Lit will tell you—great comedy goes hand-in-hand with immense sadness.

I want to say: watch these shows. You’re like, kind of a bummer gift for the New Year, no? Well, I don’t care. I didn’t get to pick my Secret Santa, and you don’t hear me complaining about my iTunes gift card. 2015 was a weird and amazing year—for me, and for TV. I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have.

–Elise

Holiday Card, 2015

Happy Holidays, friends and lovers! How I’ve missed you. I hope the ups of your 2015 outpaced the downs, and that you didn’t have too many unbearable hangovers. 

10606037_10152443881507077_7512554998478246123_n (1).jpg

Merry Christmas from this girl, whose sweater is equal parts comfortable and insane.

Let’s catch up. As my (belated) Festivus gift to you I present: a letter full of hot recs!

PODCASTS

Screen-Shot-2015-06-30-at-2.48.18-PM.png

If I had to distill the most important thing I took from 2015, it was Self Care. My life hashtag has been #notimeforscrubs for quite a while now, but I’ve expanded it to include more than just idiots from my dating life, past and future. #notimeforscrubs means no time for toxic friendships, negative self-talk, or events for pure obligation’s sake. It means more time for yoga, chiropractic appointments, and face masks. I started therapy this year, and I tried ear acupuncture. My 2016 resolution is to floss. I’m really trying to get it together. A huge influence for me in this realm has been the Buzzfeed podcast Another Round. Tracy Clayton and Heben Nigatu make a point to discuss the practicalities of taking care of yourself, and they ask each of their guests (including Hillary GD Clinton!) how they take care of themselves, too. Just as important, they are hilarious, and I wish they were my real-life friends.

magictavern1.png

I don’t usually recommend people go back to the beginning of a podcast, unless they’re a freak completist like me. It’s overwhelming and time-consuming. But the best thing about Hello from the Magic Tavern is the fully formed fantasy world Arnie Niekamp, Matt Young, and Adal Rifai are building, and it’s worth it to get in on the ground floor. The backstory: Niekamp is a human who fell through a portal in Chicago to the magical land of Foon. He’s joined every episode by pals Usidore the Wizard (Young) and Chunt the shapeshifting badger (Rifai), and they have a roundtable chat with a local colorful character. Think Dungeons and Dragons meets Professor Blastoff (RIP). The most impressive feat the show pulls off is the continuity between episodes. Even one-off guests readily reference rules of the universe established in previous weeks. Usually fictional podcasts are not my bag, but this hits all the right notes of the most fun improv you’ll ever see except in audio form. Full disclosure: As of this posting, Adal coaches my improv team, but he will likely never read this, so NO I’M NOT SUCKING UP.

Elise mentioned Mystery Show in her summer postcard, but I’d like to reiterate how incredible that show is. Start with the “Belt Buckle” or “Source Code” episodes. Really, anything on the Gimlet podcast network is worth your time, if you’re looking for something new. Reply All is unmissable, too. Honestly, I will listen to anything Gimlet puts out; they’re doing good work.

TV

FX had a stellar year, upping the ante on a bunch of their shows. The Americans, You’re the Worst (yeah, yeah, technically FXX), and Fargo all blew their previous seasons out of the water.

I’ve also continued upon my inadvisable rewatch of original 90210. Unless you unapologetically like bad TV, like some people I know, you have better ways to spend your time.

90210_opening_083110_m.jpg

What is anyone wearing, ever

MOVIES

Well, what about a little indie gem called The Force Awakens? Truthfully, I’d like to just list it here ten times, but that feels lazy. I’ll just say it was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in literal years, and if you’re not a Star Wars person, I still think you’d like it. But I’m a little too close to the material to know for sure. I could seriously watch BB-8 give a thumbs-up on repeat for five hundred years.

star-wars-force-awakens-gifs-3.gif

Spotlight is also great. It’s part procedural, part thriller, and covers the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, as brought to light by The Boston Globe. Though it dramatizes true events, it doesn’t add any extraneous nonsense to make the story more big-screen friendly. It’s just a bunch of 2000s journalists in hideous outfits doing their jobs really well. Pro tip: I spent the whole movie thinking Cardinal Law was some sort of catechism, but it is, in fact, a person’s name. So much for 13 years of Catholic school.

Sisters isn’t getting much love, which is sadly fair. But if you like Tina and Amy at all, their chemistry certainly justifies a rental. I will be plagiarizing many of my future sick burns from the script, including: “I respect your jumpsuit, but not its contents.”

sisters-tina-fey-amy-poehler_universal_2.0.0.jpg

BOOKS

In October, I successfully completed my Goodreads challenge to read forty books this year and felt a powerful sense of accomplishment, because my self-worth is determined by To Do lists. Unsurprisingly, I have significantly slowed down since then. Currently I’m reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. It’s sad as fuck, guys. But so beautifully written. Now that I’ve finished my challenge, I am savoring the act of reading, instead of blowing through pages to cross another novel off the list.

MUSIC

My new music consumption is pathetic. As I edit this, I am listening to The Head and the Heart’s 2010 self-titled album, which I have heard approximately eleventy-bajillion times already. Sure, I bought Adele’s new album (and tickets to see her in concert, doi), and I have intensely lip-synced to it around my apartment. I like Leon Bridges’ album a whole lot, but usually when I put on Spotify, I head straight for the “Focus” section because I have work to do. I’ve written many jokes to the energizing instrumentals of the “Productive Morning” playlist. (And not always in the morning, either.)

I guess what I’m asking, dear reader, is what music should I be listening to? What were the albums you couldn’t live without this year? No aggressively dissonant music need apply, but I am otherwise open.

I’m trying to try, though. I even bought a record player this year! And my transformation to completely insufferable is now complete! Unfortunately, I had to replace my turntable within a month, and the new one was also non-functioning, so now I have about 15 records with no way to play them. Take pity on me and my virgin copy of Dolly Parton’s Greatest Hits.

tumblr_lgwq98cZ7E1qbmre7o1_500.gif

Thats it! Merry happy, everybody, and see you in 2016!
Alison

Re: Postcard, Summer 2015

Hi, buddy!

Thanks for your letter. Your summer sounds like it was tremendous. Wish I could have been there, too.

The fugue state that is Chicago summer feels like months ago, instead of merely weeks. With October quickly approaching, we’ve entered the season of Impossible to Dress Yourself Since It Will Be Fifteen Degrees Warmer Later, or ItDYSIWBFDWL, for short. But fall truly is the best time of year. It holds so much promise—even without the beginning of the school year, autumn feels like the perfect time for reinvention and revitalization. Am I a Pilates Person who Reads the News now? Hey, at least for September.

autumn gorilla

But let’s go back in time for a moment. Here are some of the things that I was jamming on this summer, about which I may or may not have already texted you.

Podcasts

I wish you had more patience for Beverly Hills, 90210 because Tara and Sarah (#squadgoals) are doing an amazing job recapping every episode on Again With This. You should at least be checking out the accompanying Visual Aids because, you know, comedy gold. I, on the other hand, subscribed to Hulu Plus to watch every second of the ten-season series because, just like Dylan and Brenda, I am going all in on this relationship.

90210

Co-sign on Death, Sex & Money. I teared up listening to Chaz Ebert’s episode. Love is real! All of Anna Sale’s interviews are handled masterfully—they each feel so honest. It helps, too, that her guests are game to be open books. I loved listening to Jane Fonda, Scott Aukerman with Kulap Vilaysack, Ellen Bustyn, and Joy Williams, too. And all the rest of them. Just go listen, already!

Books

I finally finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, five hundred months later. I appreciated the book more than I enjoyed it, but No Regrets 2015! Now, onto the miniseries…

Everyone should experience Aziz Ansari’s book Modern Romance via audiobook. Internet, contact me for more details. (Seriously.)

Mindy Kaling’s new book made me laugh out loud in public more than once. She’s a boss.

mindy

TV

As readers of this blog may have noticed due to my sudden decline in coverage, I dropped True Detective like a hot rock. As much fun as I had mocking it, I could not carry on because it was total trash. If any of you out there are holding on senselessly to any shows that have gone off the rails, follow my example and let go. I also gave up on Masters of Sex, and I’m feeling great.

I binged Season One of Empire last month, which was amazing, but no one did batshit as well as UnREAL did this summer. Get on it, everyone. It may have aired on Lifetime, but UnREAL has an FX sensibility.

I already miss Playing House, but thanks to the podcast Womp It Up (a Comedy Bang Bang spinoff) and an iTunes purchase of the show Best Friends Forever, I’ll still have some Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham to keep me warm this winter. As a dude that I met on a dating app texted me the first night we started talking, “Alison, you are definitely crushing on Lena [sic] and Jessica.” The next day he passive aggressively complained when I didn’t respond immediately. Feeling great about my twelve-hour summer fling of 2015!

I still have not finished The Wire. I’ve got a real “slow and steady” thing going. I average about an episode every two weeks, which is the perfect pace for forgetting everything that’s happened so far.

Movies

I just Googled “summer movies 2015” because I had no memory of what I saw this year. Great sign!

I liked Trainwreck and Straight Outta Compton, loved Spy, and had my brain exploded by Magic Mike XXL. I’m a different, better person now.

mmxxl

Music

James Bay (or Bae, if you will) is my new twentysomething-Brit-with-a-guitar crush. I saw him at Outside Lands in San Francisco, and have tickets to see him in Chicago in November. On a related note, there is a RedEye employee in my office who wears a similar round brim hat at his standing desk. My amateur diagnosis is that he’s trying too hard.

Lianne La Havas is a goddess. For Christmas, I’d like her jumpsuits and her casual cool.

I’ve re-signed my lease for the 2015-2016 year, which is a funny feeling. I’ll have at least one more winter and one more summer in Chicago. So much will be different by this time next year—mostly the newly wedded bliss of some of my favorite people, as 2016 is The Year of Weddings. The other changes, however, the changes in my own life, are ones I cannot foresee. And I’m excited for those.

Love,

Alison

P.S. Of course you brought corn on the plane. Of course you did.

Postcard: Summer, 2015

Hello friend:

Summer is perhaps, maybe, sadly…ending. As I write this, we are both returning from adventures that took us far away from home, with new appreciation for our beds, personal space and the English language.

I missed you—which is weird, because we don’t actually live in the same place. We are always apart. But summertime is different. I was out of the country, with limited Wi-Fi. You were in a Californian land of magical thinking, surrounded by lovely loonies who jammed the Golden Gate Park airwaves with Instagrams and Snaps.

dancing guyWe were unplugged.

I’ve been taking long, mulit-phase flights since I was very young, and I believe that there is something perfect and sacred about intercontinental travel. I’m not nearly so high-powered that I must be ever-available by email, and hovering thousands of miles above Earth strikes me as the best possible excuse for staying offline. Airline Internet isn’t strong enough to stream my shows anyway. (I did manage to watch the first three episodes of Playing House, season two on the tarmac.)

This summer vacation—though frustratingly truncated due to grown-up work schedules—I let go of my absolute compulsion to catch up and keep up with everything and everyone. But also, time away made me realize what I miss when it’s gone. Like always having you one text away. Here are all the things I wanted to share in real-time over the past few weeks:

I finally read Erik Larsen’s Dead Wake from cover to cover, and rediscovered a debilitating fear of the open sea. A recurring drowning-while-trapped-underwater nightmare that started when I first saw Titanic came back with full force, and I was like, this is what you get for reading gripping nonfiction about events that precipitated U.S. entry into the first World War, you raging nerd. That guy who plays the captain of the Titanic (and also the creepy possessed king in The Lord of the Rings movies) was there.

I JUST REALIZED that Anna Chlumsky of Veep is grown-up Vada from My Girl!!!!

giphy

I listened to season one of Mystery Show while we drove around the countryside, and I’m pretty sure Starlee Kine is the greatest. I would happily make her voice my ringtone. How does podcast-funding work? Who is paying for Starlee’s gold-star, all-access meet-and-greet ticket to see Britney Spears? Should I just keep texting Starlee and Ira Glass five and ten dollars when they tell me to? Or maybe listen to Startup? I am intrigued by this business model.

I brought corn on the plane. Customs officials were not amused.

Finally watched Page One: Inside The New York Times on the train. Maybe I should read The New York Times more. Maybe I should get my own digital subscription. Maybe my office pays for that, actually…

Did you listen to the “Siblings” episode of Death, Sex and Money? My dad told me stories today about hiking the Himalayas with his brothers. Getting into fights, and then—hours later—peeing into bottles while storms howled outside their tent, and sharing a single sleeping bag for warmth. Sort of similar to rooming with Karoline in San Francisco, yes? Everyone should call their sisters and brothers right now and tell them that they’re the worst, but you love them anyway. [Karoline, return my texts.] There is something incredibly romantic and soothing about Anna Sale’s voice.

jane the virgin

Stop that, Gina Rodriguez. You deserve all the Emmys. I realize I’m 2.5 years behind you on this—Jane The Virgin is popcorn candy delicious funny. The CW: this is the best thing you have done since Veronica Mars.

DON’T WORRY. I traveled thousands of miles to a foreign country, and immediately found a hipster coffee shop that sells homemade granola, chocolate bars with 100% cacao and an adorable barista that I’ll call Fernando. He personally toured me around their chocolate-making operation. I’ve obviously returned every morning since.

Go Set A Watchman–what Roxane Gay said.

So, listen. I promise to be in touch now that I’m back. I’m working, easing back into my routine and waiting for autumn. Fall is actually my favorite season—a sentiment shared by everyone who has ever lived in (and loved) Chicago. September and October is gorgeous in Chicago. I hope that DC reflects some of that beauty.

Tell me about your summer soon, okay? You’re my fave.

–Elise

The Afterglow

Sex is complicated. First, you’re a kid and it’s hilarious. Then, you’re a pre-teen and it’s confusing. Then, if you are my kid sister, your precocious eleven-year old sibling and her friends corner you to offer all sorts of wrong information about sex with boys, and you realize that you like girls.

little girl

Finally, you have sex, and you’re like—that was fine? And then it gets better. And then it’s great—until an insane firestorm of feelings takes you over, and you never really recover. Sex is awesome. What comes next—often, a different story.

Supposedly, sex was all the rage in the sixties. The flower children think they invented sex. I can’t tell you firsthand because I was negative twentyish, but I do know that famed sex researchers Bill Masters and Virginia Johnson were having none of it. The third season of Showtime’s prestige drama Masters of Sex is set against a backdrop of sex, drugs, war, and protest. Masters and Johnson are poised to publish their seminal work, Human Sexual Response, and establish themselves as credible researchers. It took twelve years, two marriages, lots of tears and a ton of lube to get it done—but, as Ginny notes at a press conference to publicize the book, this is only the beginning. “We are the sexual revolution,” she says. For better or worse.

This season is about fallout. Season one was filled with nudity and hair-tearing passion masked by all-American, 1950’s-style manners. The show was sexy and new. But now—twelve years since Ginny and Bill launched their unconventional partnership, and a couple of years since the show premiered—we’re riding the afterglow. That moment when the adrenaline and pheromones recede, and you’re kind of alone. In bed. With someone you like (or don’t like), love (or don’t love). Someone you know all too well, or whose name you barely remember.

1427310235-tumblr_mf75mvnwfd1rh1wv4o1_500_zps82f1ecf1

The season three premiere bounces back and forth between a press conference and an excruciating lakeside family weekend. This is the kind of balancing act upon which the show has built its reputation—cutting (sometimes clumsily) between public moments and private heartache. While reporters dissect the work Ginny and Bill have worked so hard to bring into the world, we see glimpses of a shared private life that is messier, more complicated and emotionally intense than sex itself.

The show seems to be saying: this is what you get. Succumb to your passions, and great things may come—people might also get hurt. The writers are deviating just enough from historical record to keep us guessing, while staying true to the sentiment that drove the first and second seasons: the work is worth it.

To protect what the two of them have in the lab and in the bedroom, Ginny and Bill are forced to make space for lots of other people. Their lives are crowded and suffocating. Bill would rather sleep outside, under the stars, than look his Big Love-esque family in the face. Ginny has to beg her lover for one inch of space—a bathroom stall—to herself. Bill’s actual wife, Libby, is popping pills to deal, and saying things like: a brokenhearted existence can “make you stronger, but it can also make you sad.”

lizzy and ginny

This story could veer quickly into disaster, or become a wild success and —kind of like any newly sexual relationship. The characters are bonded by sex—family is, after all, a product of the act.

That kind of explosive potential is what makes this show special. Masters of Sex is grounded by relationships—relationships that are always evolving, and are true to the animal reality of human contact. And the pain that sometimes brings.

Masters of Sex airs at 10/9C on Showtime.

–Elise

He Lives: True Detective Season Two, Episode Three

I had a sad realization this week. Covering True Detective has forced me to pay closer attention to it than anything I’m actually enjoying on TV right now. Like Elise, it’s rare that I watch TV without multitasking. I spend most of UnREAL browsing Hinge despite the fact that I’m truly invested in what’s happening onscreen. But because I have to take effing notes on this trainwreck, I can tell you more details about Colin Farrell’s mustache than names of contestants in So You Think You Can Dance’s Top Twenty. You’re all welcome.

Anyway. Let’s say what up to our buddies.

Detective Ray Velcoro

Yup, not dead. DOI EVERYONE. Of course he’s alive. If this season of True D has proved anything, it’s that the long shadow of season one has made it scary for the show to take risks.

Besides being alive, Velcoro is sort of boring this week. He has daddy issues, and he refers to weed as “grass,” which, no. If the character was black, Pizzolatto would probably have him call it a “jazz cigarette,” while playing the trumpet.

Sidenote: Has Farrell been wearing a bolo tie this whole time? (A quick image search says: “Yes.”)

CCK7HykUkAAMqbC

Frank Semyon

“It’s unnatural. Don’t feel right,” Semyon says upon failing to pop a boner in the IVF sample-collecting room. (Sorry, Red. You can take your v generous bj and scram.) Vaughn even sounds stilted dropping the subjects from his sentences. Please. For the love of McConaughey. Stop giving him these ridiculous lines. He cannot do them. He is doing a bad job.

frank.0

“I want to sex it up, but I’m so, so sad.”

One of Semyon’s toadies describes someone as “half anaconda, half great white” without irony. What?!? That sounds like exactly zero humans that exist.

Frank is impotent all over the map in this episode. He can’t get it up at the doctor’s, and he doesn’t have any pull with his old buddies from the underworld. Actually, the latter dynamic piqued my interest. He’s lost his cache from trying to go legit. When he needs his #squad, no one’s having it, and in his frustration, we see more of the Old Scary Frank. He certainly seems more at home threatening people, or pulling their teeth out, as it were. If his desperation leads to more of his inner thug shining through, then I’m all for it.

Detective Ani Bezzerides

Maybe it’s my unmitigated love of Rachel McAdams, but I’m coming around on her just a little. She’s a capable cop, perhaps the most capable of our motley crew. She and Velcoro are forming an unlikely bond, too. It’s unclear how genuine it is, but even a fake connection between the two is a relief.

2A43329400000578-3150555-image-a-29_1436156502342

She has a touch of “Be Like a Man to Be an Interesting Woman” Syndrome, but that might be the best we can hope for in a female on this show. She dumps Motocrossed without ceremony, and he’s the one that has a stereotypically-feminine meltdown. “You started this!” he exclaims incredulously after she tells him it’s done. Oh, buddy. You’ll learn in time to play it cool. And instead to express such sentiments to your closest fourteen friends via text.

Officer Paul Woodrugh

I KNEW HE WAS GAY, I KNEW IT I KNEW IT. And the gay hustler at the end is my favorite character in the entire season so far. Oh, look! A smile! And the heavens parted, and God said, “it was good.”

In case you haven’t heard, Taylor Kitsch and Rachel McAdams are reportedly dating, combining two of the greatest Canadians exports into a hockey-playing, Drake-listening supercouple. When they’re driving together to the mayor’s gaudy mansion, all I can think is “THEY ARE FALLING IN LOVE RN, AND WE ARE WATCHING.” She backhandedly compliments his looks, and he smiles, and PROBABLY TAKES IT PERSONALLY AND CONTINUES ON THIS ROLLER COASTER JOURNEY OF HAPPINESS.

2A432C9B00000578-3150555-image-a-34_1436156599756

[Insert heart-eyed cat emoji here.]

And if that’s the only good thing to come out of True Detective this season, I’ll take it.

—Alison

We Get the World We Deserve: True Detective Season Two, Episode Two

Episode three of True Detective‘s season two airs tonight, so let’s catch up with our characters, shall we?

Frank Semyon

Episode two opens on Semyon philosophizing in the middle of the night to his wife. (So many redheads this season!) “It’s like everything is papier mache,” he pontificates to two water stains on the ceiling. Turns out his father left him locked in the basement with rats, and he’s bad with money! Coolcoolcool. I ask again, how did this guy get so powerful?

1435544159-vince-vaughn-true-detective-2

Pizzolatto is clearly trying to lay his metaphor-laden language on Vaughn this season, but the actor can’t quite carry it off like McConaughey did. It was a novel part of Rust Cohle’s characterization, but now in season two, it’s a tool we’ve seen employed before (and more effectively, at that).

Officer Paul Woodrugh

OMG IS HE GOING TO FUCK HIS MOM? (Cool cold sore, lady.) She is v into it. They’re like the Darmodys of the SoCal trailer park world. Hopefully, it will remain subtext, unlike Boardwalk Empire BLECH.

TD.creepy.-mom

Is he going to turn out to be gay? I hope so, if only to semi-justify his offhand story of a “fag” at the bank. (Cool homophobia, bro.) But between that and his moody gay-prostitute-spying at the end of the episode, it also feels a little…obvious.

Detective Ray Velcoro

Update: he’s still working for the bad side, which now includes the shamelessly hammered mayor.

We meet his ex-wife, whom we’ve seen before as “Big Hair on Legs” in Rectify and Burning Love. She meets him in front of Buffalo Wild Wings (gimme that Asian Zing!) and demands that his visits with their son now be supervised because of his violent and inappropriate behavior. He is, somehow, shocked. America, on the other hand, is not.

In the car, he tries to joke around with Bezzerides about feminism, but since it’s the first humor we’ve seen all season, it doesn’t quite play.

He ends up back at Sad Bar USA with the scar-faced waitress. We will almost certainly see her naked before the end of the season.

Then someone in a bird mask shoots him at close range in a sex safehouse. It looks like this is also the place where Caspere (season two’s resident dead guy) got his dick shot off. It’s all very David Lynch. But there’s no way Colin Farrell dead, right? Structurally, we’ll lose all direct connection with Semyon, and he’ll die an almost irredeemable character. I’m not buying it.

true-detective-ep2-58-31

Detective Ani Bezzerides

Despite her pretentious High Horsing with her sex worker sister in the first episode, she’s very absorbed by her internet porn research for the case.

I do appreciate that she calls Velcoro out for being crooked in the same episode she receives the information. His silence, deciding whether or not to be honest with her, is much more interesting than her sitting on that knowledge until midway through the season.

tumblr_nqp2o8Z9Vs1so9f96o1_250

Nice e-cig, gf.

Let’s see what they get up to tonight!

Alison