The Boob Tube Review: Nov. 16, 2011

Every week, we discuss the television we've been watching. There are usually plenty of spoilers, so beware:

Community: "Studies in Modern Movement"
Season 3, Episode 7, NBC

Apparently NBC isn't watching the recently put on hiatus Community or they'd be aware it's the most consistently enjoyable show on their Thursday night lineup. There isn't another show on TV that's as random, weird or takes more risks than this show and actually accomplishes them. How many CBS shows can successfully pull off dedicated a whole act of an episode to Seal's "Kiss From a Rose"? You don't see that on Two and a Half Men. And if you did it would obviously suck. -- Cody McGraw

Whitney: "Getting To Know You"
Season 1, Episode 7, NBC

Furthermore NBC clearly isn't watching Whitney or they'd realize it feels like it's leftover from 1994 and should star Jenna Elfman. Keeping this crap over Community is just a horrible, terrible, no good decision. We all know Whitney Cummings is hilarious (because we watch her other show 2 Broke Girls) but this show is just embarrassingly dated and tired. Come on, NBC. Squash the right bug. -- CM

The Walking Dead: "Chupacabra"
Season 2, Episode 5, AMC

I'm beginning to think of The Walking Dead as a war movie. It's going to be more about how it affects every day life than the actual war itself. I'm ok with that to an know, if there were more characters worth liking that aren't stupid enough to think tents can protect them from zombies. With only two episodes left until the winter hiatus until February, this shit should get good real fast. -- CM

Oh boy, shit is getting pretty patriarchal up in this zombie apocalypse. The show has, from the start, mostly been about men vying for control over our small band of (laughably incompetent) survivors — with the women generally taking their traditional, look after the children and try not to kill yourself out of desperation backseat role. I suppose there have been a few feminist-ish nods: the wife-beating misogynist doesn't last very long; the rapist turns out to also be a self-serving murderer. But this season, the iffy treatment of women has been highlighted thanks to all the time they've been spending on a suspiciously un-apocalypsed farm. The small community there is run by Hershel, an old-timey country veterinarian who seems to have stepped right out of a Civil War documentary. He is, without a doubt, an old school patriarch. And he seems to be rubbing off on the other (supposedly more likable) characters.

It first really struck me in the episode before this one, when Sheriff Rick (leader of our band of hapless survivors) asked Hershel if one of "Rick's people", Glenn, could join one of "Hershel's people", Maggie, on her dangerous run into town. Maggie was right there standing beside him, but Rick didn't even acknowledge her presence when he asked, interested only in what old man Hershel thought about it. Kinnnnda rude and bullshitty in a "the men run things around here" kind of a way.

But it was in this week's episode that things really seemed ridiculous. Glenn and Maggie, you see, slept together on that run into town. Before long, Glenn breaks down and tells Dale, a pleasant and seemingly kinda liberal-ish old guy. Dale is upset. Which is understandable. There are plenty of good reasons to be annoyed: it was a reckless thing to do in the middle of a zombie-ridden town; plus, for all Dale knows, they probably didn't use a condom during what is a rather bad time for unplanned parenthood. But that's not why Dale is pissed off. His question: "Has it ever occurred to you how her father might feel about this?" Maggie is 22 years old! She's making supply runs into zombie territory! She's more confident and self-possessed than the vast majority of the men on the show! And you'd better check with her father to make sure her romantic decisions are okay with him!

And that was just one moment in an episode filled with them. In the very next scene, the woman who they've fiiiiiinally trusted with a gun shoots a guy by accident, proving that they shouldn't have trusted her with a gun after all. And we've already seen Hershel get all "you'd best do what I say" on Maggie's ass, warning her that she'd better not get involved with Glenn (or, as he charmingly refers to him, "the Asian boy"). Then there's the scene where two of the women discuss which one of them should offer to make dinner for everyone else; they decide, in the end, on Rick's wife, since she's like their "First Lady". 

It's all so blatant that I'm starting to wonder if it might be an intentional set up for some sort of feminist reckoning in which the female characters start taking more control. Or at least a chance to start commenting on it. If not, the list of reasons not to watch this show is getting longer every week. -- Adam Bunch

Adam, you're so great! I second everything you've written! Also have I just been too focused on the Darwin-disproving survival of the group to notice the two other people living on the farm? Or are they just completely new characters? Darryl is the best! He can be in the spin-off with Hanging-Zombie, Well-Zombie and at this point assumed to be Zombie-Horse. And (if we can just ignore the infuriating soap-opera gleaned cliff-hanger tactics) what is up with those zombies in the barn? (Side-note: I just wrote a whole new verse to Ludacris' Rollout involving the barn zombies... "What in the world is in that barn? Whatchu got in that barn?") I guess there are two options: they are kin and friends and Hershel is waiting for the cure or Hershel the pacifist isn't down with killing zombies at all but just corrals them into the barn. Either way we think Maggie will probably lock Glenn in there now, right, to keep the dark family secret? Someone's been reading a lot of V. C. Andrews! Fetid Flowers in the Hay Loft. -- Alex Snider

Dexter: "Nebraska"
Season 6, Episode 7, Showtime

So Gellar is mos def just existing in Travis' head, right? Right. Moving on. Deb is being eaten alive by LaGuerta because, yeah, female characters can't be friends and female characters in powerful positions are either vicious harpies who bath in the tears or they're the ones weeping. Quinn is looking more and more like the guy who was blackmailing him last year. Molly Parker is showing up more and more which makes my heart sing and ignites a burning desire to watch YouTube fan-made videos of her and Bullock set to Earth Wind and Fire's Spend the Night. Something interesting is going to happen with the intern and Dexter (he's gonna get found out!!). The nanny ran out of ways to say she put Harrison to bed, so instead the writers gave her other things to talk about, mainly that Dexter is out of town. Oh and Dexter hung out with his brother doing road-trippy things like eating nachos, boning very young women in supply closets, shooting signs (Weird Al/Ace of Base cover?!), wandering through corn fields, recreating American Gothic and polluting the grain supply. Shit, my vacations just involve going home to Winnipeg. Borrrrring!  -- AS

American Horror Story: "Piggy Piggy"
Season One, Episode 6, AMC

I really liked this show at first ("Ooh, I like this show!  A lot!" – Me, Boob Tube Review, October 18). But then there was the two part Halloween episode which was basically like standing directly in front of a strobe light without blinking while The Monster Mash played on loop. It lost me, guys, big time. But I still watch it because isn't that what TV is about? Some shows you love but mostly it's shows to rant about later (or, if you're an annoying person like me, during)?

There is this really cool empty pool that popular kids seem to always hang out in that I'm coveting a little so I'll keep watching for those scenes. And to find out how this family is staying afloat when Ben's only repeat (ie client who doesn't wind up dead after one session) patient is a ghost. How does Tate pay for therapy? How does Ben not realize when he talks to Tate's mum on the phone that it's Jessica Lange? Her Southern drawl is rather distinctive not to mention she's always accompanied by spooky music.

Also, Jessica Lange is freaking incredible, as is Frances Conroy and Denis O'Hare (you may remember him as such psychopathic vampires as Russell Edgington). And Zachary Quinto is on it now, too, and he is one of my "I wish I was a gay man" crushes. So there are some reasons to keep watching it beyond cool teenagers in floppy hats who hang out at abandoned pools.

Unfortunately last week was another irritating disaster, there was the incredibly insensitive Columbine reenactment, which (aside from the obvious awfulness) didn't fit with the tone of the show at all. There was also the whole scene where Violet overdosed and then was rescued by Tate (A GHOST) who induced vomiting and then hugged her in a bath for a while. And then??? No hospital! Dudes, I know you're teenagers (and A GHOST) but you do still need to swing by the ol' ER after an overdose. Your kidneys! Think of your kidneys! At least the woman with Down Syndrome is no longer the town ghoul (well, the non-dead ghoul)... But that's because she's fucking dead now, and off the show. Jessica Lange, Jessica Lange, Jessica Lange... If I say her name three times in my bathroom will she appear? -- AS

How I Met Your Mother: "Tick Tick Tick"
Season 7, Episode 10, CBS

All I want to say about this is really, HIMYM writers? You're really going to make a gender diversity-pallooza joke, follow it up with Ted (or Marshall) calling the attendees bitches, then spend half the episode making "jokes" about Robin's boss graphically describing to interns how he'd like to have sex with them? Way to be topical, I guess *cough Herman Cain cough*? Are you just giving up completely on the expectation that this show in any way respects women? Robin has been reduced to a whimpering stereotype ("I'm a mess... Why do you like me?" REALLY?!) and Lily has not had a single plot-line outside of her uterus for two seasons. Ugh, come on, you're all becoming worse than Margaret Wente. -- AS


The Boob Tube Review appears every week. You can find all of them here.


Unknown said...

This is officially the part I like best about watching TV.

Post a Comment