I come from a poor Midwestern family where my notions of the upper castes involved unnavigable place settings and the labyrinthian social order that I encountered in etiquette books. In college, I would read about people obsessed with the leisure class. Andy Warhol and Jann Wenner both seemed consumed with the perceived glamour of dilettantes, as if the money, power and exclusivity produced something even more magical than their other other lifetime fixation: fame. How far we’ve fallen from the ideals of these cultured, worldly elites cocooned in Victorian rituals of status. The villains of High Society have no class; they’re intellectual dead zones with charisma deficits whose tacky and shiftless lives breed the kind of collective contempt that used to get the peasants sharpening the guillotine blades. No one aspires to be Tinsley Mortimer and Paul Johnson Calderon, because there’s nothing here to aspire to: no refinement, no worldliness, and no accomplishment. They are a Warhol film, stagnating in the gaze the camera, ostentatiously refusing to pick up a verb. They’d prefer to let the maid do it while swearing at her and throwing up on the rug. This is upper class living in 2010 and it is indistinguishable from the gutter.
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Tonight’s episode of Supernatural opened with two scientists discussing the upcoming human trials for a new flu vaccine. Their conversation is interrupted by a demon who injects one of the men with something that causes him to violently slaughter the other man. This, we can assume, has something to do with Pestilence.
Shortly afterward, Sam and Dean pose as CDC workers while they are questioning a female doctor. All of them wear protective masks as she describes “a mild case of swine flu” before admitting that they need vaccines and all of this is “a little unusual”. The brothers drive away, and then discuss things over the phone with Bobby. Suddenly, Crowley, the effeminate, Lucifer-hating demon that we previously met this season, appears in the backseat. Sam wants to kill him, but Dean is willing to hear out his plan to help them destroy Pestilence.
Crowley deserves a place in Supernatural’s villain hall-of-fame. Played well by TV veteran, Mark Sheppard, he delivered some of the best lines of the night. After all, his explanation for wanting the devil dead and betraying his own kind is “They ate my tailor!” Occasionally, his fireplace casts a demonic red glow on only him, which is a nice touch.
United States of Tara recently started its second season on Showtime. Toni Collette plays the title character, who is the mother and wife of a seemingly typical suburban family. Except that she suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. Tara is sometimes teenager T, perfect housewife Alice, redneck trucker guy Buck, therapist Shoshanna, and a weird subhuman creature that likes to pee on people. In Collette’s hands, this surprisingly all works—I have never had a moment watching the show where I did not believe in Tara’s transformations.
The supporting cast is also excellent. John Corbett plays Tara’s husband. He’s one of those actors who I always like to watch. Ever since Northern Exposure, he’s made everything he’s in better—see My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Sex and the City for examples. Rosemarie Dewitt steals all her scenes as Tara’s long-suffering sister. Keir Gilchrist and Brie Larson are the teenagers in the household who each are perpetually on the edge of their own meltdowns. (And I also enjoy occasional walk-on Patton Oswalt as Corbett’s buddy and Dewitt’s once and future love.)
Well, the Urban Legend is gone. It was quite a run for Tim Urban, a guy with no real singing ability to speak of and who didn’t make the original cut to begin with. (Remember, he was a last-second replacement for shaggy orphan Chris Golightly, who was disqualified for bearing false witness, or some such malarkey.) A home-schooled, Bible-studied, teetotaling Texan, Tim was the perfect candidate for Sarah Palin’s America, where actual competence is far less important than mythical value identification. Finally, however, Turbo ran out of dumb luck, and what a difference it made this week. With one bunch-spoiling apple removed, everybody suddenly got better, making this week’s vote a tough call after a round of solid Shania from everyone.
Then again, maybe it’s the fact that Shania Twain’s songs are timelessly catchy and that her brand of country-pop is the kind of music that anyone seems to be able to have a hit with, and at least four of the final six are a good fit for today’s contemporary country scene. Hey, is it me, or was Shania a far better mentor when she was still married to Mutt Lange? Without him, she just seems like a regular, boring old mentor. But I’m sure she wrote all those songs herself.
Parenthood has been renewed for a second season by NBC. This means that viewers won’t have to worry that they’ll get involved in plots that will never be finished and the show’s writers can make those plots drag on for as long as possible. While I don’t mind this about some of the show’s story lines, I just wish other parts of the show would move on already.
I’m mostly sick of seeing the continuing saga of bratty Haddie’s love life. At the beginning, we seen her as a decent teen trying to deal with a complicated home life, but now we just see her parents worry about her possibly becoming pregnant while she acts shocked and entitled. This week, she ordered a lacy bra from Victoria’s Secret (a show sponsor?) and thought her parents were completely unreasonable for being concerned about it. While Kristina saved the bra from the trashcan and kept saying, “I trust you!”, Haddie scowled and later wore this same bra under her shirt, Flashdance-style. When Adam saw that this was how she planned to dress for a visit to her boyfriend’s house, he made up the excuse that he had to drive Drew to the school dance, leaving her to baby-sit Max. This caused Haddie to leave the house, bra-less, after Adam told her she couldn’t go out later on that night. Needless to say, he dragged her out of Steve’s house after spotting the two kissing alone upstairs. Haddie dodged her father’s questions by calling him a hypocrite for encouraging Drew to have a love life. That just made him state cliches like “There is a double standard” and “That’s the way the world is”, instead of pointing out that there is a big difference between driving a boy to a dance and letting your daughter show everyone her bra strap.
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