TV

Back to the Future with 'The Event' and 'The Real Housewives of D.C.'

A limo ride in The Real Housewives of D.C

If The Event wants to successfully take license with its time line, it would do well to learn a lesson from the recent D.C. installment of The Real Housewives.

The Event

Airtime: Mondays, 9pm
Cast: Jason Ritter, Blair Underwood, Laura Innes
Network: NBC
Amazon

The Real Housewives of D.C.

Airtime: Thursdays, 9pm
Cast: Michaele Salahi, Stacie Turner, Catherine Ommanney, Lynda Erkiletian, Mary Amons
Network: Bravo
Amazon

At the end of a recent episode of The Event, the mysterious leader of an otherworldly group of visitors tells the American president that her people have been waiting “66 years” and their patience is running out. On the other hand, I’ve only been waiting a few hours to find out what the ‘event’ is and my patience ran out around episode two.

The Event is part Lost and part FlashForward. The group of mystery people alludes to Heroes, but without the charm of a villainous Sylar and the conspiracy aspect places it in the category of 24 but without the fierceness of a Jack Bauer. I might have more patience for this identity crisis if it wasn’t for the show’s reliance on back story flashbacks.

In the first two episodes, the action is in the present. Then it’s two years ago. Then we’re back to the present. Then it’s three months ago. This structural whiplash is not intriguing. It’s just painful. Unlike Lost, where back stories were both interesting stand alone narratives and clever connections that enhanced the primary action, the flashbacks on The Event are simply points of information. So far, the series’ ‘time shifting for exposition’ strategy does little more than interrupt the story’s momentum.

If The Event wants to successfully take license with its time line, it would do well to learn a lesson from the recent D.C. installment of The Real Housewives. The series contains so much time shifting that the Bravo team has basically discovered a new level of the space/time continuum but with one important difference: unlike The Event’s explanation flashbacks, the Housewives’ time jumping heightens, rather than stalls, the show’s drama.

For example, in the second to last episode of the first season, a few of the housewives discuss fellow housewife Michaele Salahi’s alleged financial problems. The scene takes place in a restaurant on a snowy day but it is cut with a scene of Michaele and her husband traveling in a limo to an expensive country inn on a bright sunny afternoon. They talk about their upcoming gourmet dinner and the champagne they look forward to drinking.

If you missed the weather clue that these two events did not happen on the same day, the writers of "The Reliable Source", a Washington Post blog that recaps the show, did not. They noted on 1 October that the first snowfall in D.C. at the time of filming was in early December and Michaele was a guest at the inn in September. Yet, the juxtaposition of these two scenes sets them up as happening simultaneously. The result is dramatic tension as Michaele is made to seem frivolous and suspect while her fellow housewives form a Greek chorus commenting on her spending habits.

A limo ride in The Event

It’s a tricky time-shift editorial by Bravo, but it accomplishes an important task: it brings the audience into the story. Instead of watching the limo scene as a lifestyles of the rich and famous moment, the viewer might now wonder: “Is Michaele a con artist masquerading as D.C. Barbie?” In contrast, The Event asks the viewer: “What is the event?” but the boring expository flashbacks push the answer closer and closer to: “Who cares?”

While it might be tempting to dismiss the comparison I’m making because The Event is a fictional drama, the argument is less apples and oranges than it appears. The D.C. Housewives series is clearly not an objective account of the glamorous social lives of women who live on the Beltway. Michaele was established as the show’s villain from the beginning. When she became the White House ‘party crasher’ while the series was in production, her status as enemy number one was guaranteed to drive the narrative.

Perhaps it is this ‘stranger than fiction’ element that gives Bravo license to play with the show’s time line. Or maybe it’s disingenuous storytelling. Whatever your view, Bravo does one thing right: it knows that if you are going to ask your audience to perform detective work or minor math calculations to keep track of where they are in the narrative, there better be a satisfying payoff.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image