“This is about lies.” PLL Rankings!

I mean, I guess it’s ok to miss writing a PLL column if I was on vacation, right?  I did totally watch the episode while I was away (I even purchased it on iTunes!), but I just didn’t have time to write.  For the record, weird as this sounds, Emily would have won my rankings last week.  I know, I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore.  Ranking Emily #1?  What?  Well, let’s keep it weird and get on to this week!

(1) Mrs. Fields

OMG she’s finally back from where she’s been the entire season, namely, “the other room!”  Mrs. Fields expositorily mentions that she was in Texas with Mr. Fields, which, ok, when did he go back there, but now she’s back or something.  Whatever.  The point is, she encourages Emily to invite the girls over, ostensibly so Alison can have the opportunity to chat with an actual adult (points for throwing shade at other adults in Rosewood, in this case, Mr. DiLaurentis!).  But really, Mrs. Fields is just evaluating and judging Ali over dinner.  She later tells Emily that she realized that Em had a crush on Ali before, so she wanted to see them together.  Mrs. Fields also says that she still talks to people on the police force (because of that time she worked there for no apparent reason) and lets Emily know that Ali’s story about the kidnapping has “got some problems.”  She ends by telling Emily that though she saved Alison once, she does not have to keep saving her.  Sound and true advice that, shockingly, Emily appears to be taking.  All in all, it’s a strong return (from the other room) for Pam Fields.

(2) Emily

Keeping it in the Fields family, here is Emily again with another shockingly high ranking.  How does she keep doing this??  In her first strong move, Emily confronts Mona about the dead rat in Paige’s locker.  Mona suggests that the use of a rat suggests that a boy pulled the prank.  Emily goes, “A boy like Noel Kahn?” and then looks at Mona’s notebook, which says “NOEL KAHN” is huge and conspicuous letters.  Major points to Emily for even recognizing that because, honestly, she’s usually not that smart.  Later, when Hanna asks what’s up with Emily and Ali, Emily calls Alison “needy.”  Can you believe it???  Emily said something negative about Alison!  Praise the lord!  Finally, Emily leaves a message for Paige asking how she is, apologizing if the rat incident is because Paige told Em about Mona, and almost accidentally dropping the L bomb. I mean, I love this Emily!  She’s not dumb, she makes decent decisions, she always looks great … I hope she sticks around.

(3) Mona

Mona couldn’t win this episode because she was wearing a look pulled straight from Aria Montgomery’s closet: A leopard print sweater with what appeared to be a neon and black color blocked collared shirt underneath, all secured with a bright pink belt and paired with a bright blue skirt.  I mean, what?  But she still ranks third because of this line, in response to Emily’s suggestion that she put the rat in Paige’s locker: “You can call me a lot of names, but don’t call me an amateur.  A dead rat, really?  Give my love to Alison.”  ZING.

(4) Stalker Sydney

Observation: doesn’t this actress sound EXACTLY like Anne Hathaway?  Like, if you closed your eyes and just listened, wouldn’t you be like, “Anne, is that you?”  Anyway, Stalker Syd is really a very good minion/mole for Mona.  First, she totally overhears Em and Alison’s conversation about the A attack.  She’s also the one who tells Emily about the Paige rat thing.  But in her greatest move, she finds drunk Hanna at The Brew and basically gets her to spill the beans about EVERYTHING, but, most importantly, New York.  I mean, yeah, maybe it wasn’t all that hard to get a drunk girl to babble, but still, I think Mona will be pleased with Stalker Syd.

(5) Spencer

“This is not about love.  If this were about love then there wouldn’t be bodies buried in backyards up and down the street.  This is about lies.  And whispered conversations that stop when somebody walks into a room.  It’s about Alison.  What really happened to her.  And what happened to that poor girl who ended up in the ground.”  MIC DROP.  (Bonus points for (a) being snarky to Ezra [though minus points for being too nice]; (b) setting up a camera to film her backyard [finally!]; and (c) getting Melissa to basically admit that either she and/or Mr. Hastings did something super shady “for love.”)

(6) Aria

A pretty good episode for Aria, all things told.  This is probably because she finally does something useful and related to the plot, instead of worrying about Ezra all day.  (Though trust me, she finds plenty of excuses to bring him up to Spencer anyway.)  Ultimately, Aria, through her volunteer work at Radley, finds Rhonda, who was Bethany Young’s roommate.  She finds out that Bethany gave her sketchbook to Rhonda and, after she almost gets smushed under Rhonda’s bed, Aria steals the sketchbook.  This allows Spencer and Aria to find a series of increasingly creepy drawings, including one of a woman jumping from Radley (which Spencer guesses might be Toby’s mom) and a few of Mrs. DiLaurentis (one with devil horns and one that says “liar” all over it).  Eventually, they assume that Bethany left Radley looking for Mrs. D, but instead, got whacked with a shovel.  All useful information, which Aria was the catalyst for revealing.  Kudos, Aria.  For once, you weren’t useless.  (It can’t last.)

(7) Eddie Lamb

What are you up to, E. Lamb?  To be honest, I’m confused here.  Spencer said he left the drawing, right?  So why does he seem so creepy?  How come he recognizes Aria?  He worked with Ezra or something?  Why did he call Ezra to meet and not show up?  I just … I’m lost here.  Hence E. Lamb’s entirely middle of the pack ranking.

(8) Alison

Girl, if Emily, your number one fan, says you’re being needy, you’ve got some major issues.  In this episode, aside from being needy, Ali has a showdown with Caleb, which I would say she won (except for the fact that Hanna is clearly siding with Caleb, not Ali) and she spins more of her ridiculous and insane lies to Mrs. Fields (who 100% did not buy them, as Hanna correctly notes).  Oh and also, she gets caught on video skulking around the Hastings’ backyard in a winter cap.  So that’s something.

(9) Ezra

This week, America’s neediest statutory rapist gets rid of all of his spy equipment (boxes and boxes of it) with help from Spencer (since poor Ezra can’t carry anything, UGH), whines about Aria doing something without him, and complains about his poor, mean, divorced family and his poor writing career and how nothing ended up the way he wanted it to and UGH SHUT UP ALREADY YOU WHINER.  Rosewood PD, get off your lazy, incompetent asses and arrest this predator!  Please!

(10) Melissa

For some reason, Melissa is (a) really trying to convince Fake Mariska to go back to Peter Hastings, which is ridiculous, and (b) really trying to convince Spencer that she has a major secret about something shady that she did “for love.”  I mean, she so obviously suggests to Spencer that she wants to tell her something, but then she doesn’t do it for whatever reason.  Because I think Melissa is the queen of shady pants, I don’t buy it and neither does Spencer (since, ya know, she borrows a camera for the express purpose of spying on her sister).  Oh and plus, Melissa nonchalantly conceals and throws out a dead rat in a rat trap.  Something all normal, functional women feel comfortable doing.  Psycho.

(11) Caleb

Hey Caleb?  Since your time in Ravenswood really changed you and you learned things about your family and “the world” and all that BS maybe you should just GTFO and go back there?  Take your six packs of beer and your eyeliner and your Jess Mariano, “School is for losers, it doesn’t teach you about real life” attitude and seriously, GET OUT.  I wish he and Alison would have a showdown and that they both lose.  Ugh.

(12) Hanna

Girl, you done messed up big time.  Your first mistake?  The ’90s goth era dark lipstick.  Not feeling it.  Hanna, of course, gets at least one funny line (namely, in response to Emily’s question about when Ashley M. started drinking beer, “She washes her hair with it”) and drunk Hanna was amusing at Emily’s house, but she stupidly tells Stalker Sydney wayyy too much information, most importantly about Shana and Jenna and New York, and then she stupidly decides that she needs to get back together with Caleb.  To cap it all off, A calls out Hanna’s big mouth in a text to the girls, who are now, rightfully, super pissed.  Look, I think Hanna is right not to trust Ali or want to be around her.  But I think Spencer basically feels the same way and isn’t acting like an ass.  (Yes, I know, Spencer had a drug problem last season, but Spencer’s substance abuse issue helped her realize what Ezra was up to.  In other words, Spencer’s time as an addict helped the girls solve a mystery, while Hanna’s trip down alcohol lane is only helping A.  Yet another reason why, despite Hanna’s greatness, Spencer trumps all.)  Hanna needs to get her sh!t together and fast because next week looks like it’s going to be bonkers (and it looks like Aria yells at Hanna about being the problem, which, if Aria thinks you’re the problem, that’s just bad).

Not Ranked: The art teacher at Radley (she seemed a bit stern and unfeeling, don’t you think?); Donna, the art student at Radley (oh Donna, your art wasn’t a mistake, no need to rip it up); Rhonda (she is going to be MAD if and when she realizes that Aria, that “thief,” stole the sketchbook); Mr. Fields (alone in Texas with heart problems?); Mr. DiLaurentis (presumably dead with the amount that he apparently care about his just-returned-from-years-being-”kidnapped” daughter?); Noel Kahn (Mona borrowed his notes … but does he even go to Rosewood anymore?  I’m lost.); Ella Montgomery and her twelve year old boyfriend Zack (enjoy your engagement party, you teenage losers.  Also, your return address is in Pennsylvania, really?  I thought you were in Switzerland?  How come I haven’t seen you in months?  LIARS.).

Ok, but really though, I have a question about Noel Kahn.  It seemed like he was helping Alison and Cece, right?  I mean, he got them the passports, he helped them get into/out of town, etc.  But is he also helping Mona?  I mean, he was dating her right?  What if this is just a long con for Ali?  What if she’s in cahoots with Mona and Melissa (hence her sneaking around in the Hastings’ backyard)?  But to what end?  Why are they all after the Liars??  WHAT IS GOING ON ON THIS SHOW????

If you have answers to any of the above questions, please, feel free to chime in.  Either way, we’ll see ya next week with more questions!

Xoxo,

Christine

Christine’s Songs of the Summer: July 20 Edition

Before I get into my Song of the Summer check in, I again want to apologize for failing to write a PLL recap this week.  I know, I know, I’m the worst.  But I have an excuse!  I was on vacation this week (I’m currently on a plane back to New York, heyyyy blogging from up in the air!) and I had to watch PLL on my laptop, making it sort of impossible to take notes for my recap at the same time.  I’ll be back next week though!

Anyway, I figured, since we’re halfway through July and all, time for a midsummer check in!  I think I have a new personal leader in the clubhouse, which we’ll get to in a moment, but let’s go back to the ones from my May column (which you can see here).

“Problem” – Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea

Yup, this one is still good.  I listened to the Kiss FM countdown this morning in the car to the airport and, according to Ryan Seacrest, it overtook “Fancy” for number 1 on the charts.  So that’s awesome.  But I’m not sure this is the Song of the Summer.  For one, it may have come out too early.  Also, Ariana has another song currently burning up the airwaves (about which more in a moment), which may overtake “Problem.”  Still, though, this song is a jam and it’s still very popular.  If nothing else, it should be in the top three.  Cheers, Ariana!

“Fancy” – Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

Welp, I think the reign of “Fancy” might actually be over now.  As many of us suspected earlier in the summer, this one peaked way too early.  “Fancy” is still a good song, but I’m not so enamored of it anymore.  Plus, there’s been some Iggy backlash.  I’m thinking mostly of the Nicki Minaj shade she received at the BET Awards.  (Basically, it seems like Nicki obliquely called Iggy out on not writing her own raps.  Later, Nicki claimed she wasn’t shading Iggy, but I don’t think anyone really believes her.  And yeah, maybe Nicki shouldn’t have shaded her [to quote Girls in Hoodies, "don't beef down"], but she wasn’t wrong.)  Also, Vulture wrote a really good piece on how we deserve a better Song of the Summer than “Fancy” (check it out here), and though “Fancy” is decent, I think they’re right.  Sorry, Iggy, this one is out for me.

“Do It Again” – Robyn & Royksopp

I know, I know, it was a pipe dream for me to include this one in the first place.  Apparently it’s on the dance club songs Billboard chart, but I don’t think it’s anywhere near the mainstream.  Which is such a bummer because this is a great song and Robyn deserves to be the biggest deal in the universe.  Alas, at least with this song, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards.

“Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” – Chromeo

Again, this song is apparently on the dance club songs chart, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have made a big impact in the mainstream.  That being said, I did hear it on the radio last weekend when I was down at the Jersey shore, so that’s something!  This song is a perfect freaking summer song, and I don’t understand why it’s not a bigger deal.  Does it need to be on a TV show or in a movie or something?  A commercial perhaps?  America, let’s work together to make “Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” an actually viable Song of the Summer contender!  We can still make this happen!

Those are the songs I listed back on May 29th.  Of that group, I think “Problem” probably has the best shot to be Song of the Summer.  Maybe residual “Fancy” from the early part of the summer, but I’m still leaning “Problem.”  There’s one obvious new addition, namely current #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, “Rude” by Magic.  This song is aggressively, intensely terrible.  It’s legitimately the worst.  It cannot be the Song of the Summer.  I won’t accept it.  So there’s one other alternative I’d like to put forward as a Song of the Summer candidate:

“Break Free” – Ariana Grande ft. Zedd

Yes, I know this song is only #19 on the Hot 100 Chart.  But come on, it is AMAZING.  I like it even more than I like “Problem” to be honest.  Yeah, it’s very different because it’s basically an EDM song, but I would put it immediately in the pantheon of great breakup songs.  Obviously it’s no “Since U Been Gone” or “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” but the chorus has some truly excellent girl power breakup lyrics.  See, e.g., “This is the part when I say I don’t want ya, I’m stronger than I’ve been before.  This is the part when I break free ’cause I can’t resist it no more.”  I mean, ladies, don’t you want to be on the dance floor with all your girls screaming those lyrics?  (This leads me to a sidebar: I have this great idea for a casual, ladies-only dance club.  It’s basically a sleepover for girls where you can wear whatever you want, you can dance free from incursions by creepy dudes, and you just have a great time with your best girlfriends.  I mean, this is genius, right?  More on this idea to come.)  I think we need to pump “Break Free” way up the charts, America.  I mean, even freaking Pitchfork likes it!  This is a summer dance party jam and a song that we can all get behind.  Let’s do this!

Once again, I shall not acknowledge those other terrible songs that are inexplicably popular on the radio like “Wiggle” (seriously WTF is with this song???) and that craptastic Calvin Harris song.  Let’s make at least one of these Ariana Grande songs the Song of the Summer, everyone.  These jams are the Songs of Summer that we need, nay, that we deserve.

(But hey, Rihanna, if you’ve got something up your sleeve, feel free to drop it anytime now!)

‘Til next time!

Xoxo,

Christine

Hanna Still Doesn’t Have Time For A Hobby (Unless Drinking Counts): PLL Rankings!

Apology/Disclaimer: As I wrote on my OITNB post, I’m so very sorry for missing two episodes of PLL blogging!  Truly, watching the show wasn’t the same.  But I’m back now!  And just in time!

Ok, so can you guys believe that we’ve watched 100 episodes of that insanity?  I mean seriously, has there ever been a show that has more just straight up crazy crap has happened over the course of 100 episodes?  No, right?  For a recap of all the insane moments, definitely check out this phenomenally hilarious New York Magazine piece by Jessica Goldstein.  It has 100 crazy things that have happened and it’s awesome and, yet, as FoC, Katie, pointed out, it somehow fails to include the creepy little boy who lived in the creepy doll shop!  I mean if that didn’t make the list, what does that say about this program???  (Spoiler alert: That it is completely bonkers.  That’s what it says.)  So let’s get right into it!

(1) Mona

Here are my notes from the Mona vs. Alison showdown when I thought that Alison clearly had the better of Mona: “Mona knows they were all in NY and can prove it.  Mona wants Ali to leave town and doesn’t believe that Ali has changed.  Ali calls Mona on the A stuff she did to the girls and you can see Mona starting to crack.  Ali calls Mona’s bluff on proving that they were in New York.  Mona: “No one wants you here.”  Ali: “You’re wrong Mona.  Just like before.  Everyone wants to be my friend.  And that’s what you’re afraid of. … I made you Loser Mona once and you know I can do it again.”  And then, SLAP FEST!  Ali draws blood!  ALI >>>> Mona. WOW!”  LOL, whoops, I was wrong!  Mona wins again!  She somehow managed to tape all of Ali’s speech, edit out the part where Mona slapped Alison first, and just show the part where Ali slapped her (which, conveniently, Ali lied to the girls about).  All of this causes everyone who previously hated Ali to be even more solidified about their feelings and gets the Liars super pissed.  Mona is amazing.  I have no idea what she’s up to at this point or what her end game is, but she’s a genius.  Go Mona Go.

(2) Ashley M.

Girl, you are the nicest.  First she offers to help Spencer and Mrs. Hastings with their “plumbing problem” and then she’s totally sweet about Hanna’s drunkenness.  Particularly when compared to these other parental louts, Ashley M. is just the greatest.

(3) Emily

I was impressed with Emily (mostly) this episode.  Ok, yeah, she hooks up with Ali again, which is almost definitely a poor idea.  But she has a few really good moments.  She makes an Adele Dazeem reference!  Her hair looks amazing in the scene in the swim team locker room!  She’s finally nice to poor Paige!  She tells Ali that, no, actually, she can’t hang out with her because she’s hanging out with Paige!  She doesn’t just randomly forgive Alison for being a crazy liar just because Ali tries to kiss her!  These are all steps in the right direction, Emily!  (Unfortunately, she ends the episode holding hands with Ali, which probably means that Emily’s about to backslide again, but for now, I’ll give it to her.)

(4) Lucas

Lucas is not only back, he (a) has weird facial hair, (b) has cool parties with his house where he makes boozy punch; (c) allegedly has a girlfriend (though he very shadily evades the question of where she is…) that he’s “doing it” with, according to Hanna; (d) is totally friends with Hanna again, even though they left things on super shady terms a few seasons ago; and (e) seems to be one of the leaders of Mona’s “Loser Army,” as Ali called it.  An improvement, I’d say!

(5) Sydney

Ok, Emily-stalking new girl, what, exactly, are you up to?  We see her with Jenna (she puts sunglasses on and, BAM, she they suddenly look exactly alike, which was weird) going to meet up with Mona and basically revealing information about the girls and their feelings vis-a-vis Alison.  Is she just a mole?  Where did she come from?  What does she want?  It’s officially time to start keeping on eye on this one.

(6) Toby

Well, unfortunately, Toby still has that hair.  Which is a huge bummer.  On the plus side, he’s still dating Spencer and he totally has game when it comes to her (obviously quoting Fitzgerald is a major turn-on for Ms. Hastings).  His episode is pretty uneventful until, ya know, his family’s house basically blows up at the end and he goes running into it.  I’m guessing it’s all good though and besides, it’s not like he lives there anymore anyway.  I guess Toby earns this ranking solely by virtue of dating and being very sweet to my girl Spencer.  Biased, but these are my rankings, so whatev.

(7) Spencer

Negative column: her overalls in that first scene.  The fact that her parents are getting divorced, essentially because her mom thinks that her dad/sister murdered Jessica DiLaurentis and, therefore, Spencer and Fake Mariska Hastings have to escape the Hastings household while Peter Hastings is at work.  Plus column: still the smartest Liar by a wide margin (as she tells Toby in he fist scene, she doesn’t really believe Alison has changed because the girls still have no idea what she was up to the entire time she was “dead,” which, why is no one making a bigger deal out of this???).  Her very patriotic blue stars sweater/red scarf combo (USA! USA! USA!).  She has a cute scene with Hanna bonding over separated parents (love when my two favorite Liars have a scene together).  Her really excellent trench coat.  The adorable scene with Toby in the truck.  Also, related to the first point in the plus column, Spencer immediately picks up on the fact that the news refers to Alison’s “alleged” kidnapping.  Uh oh, Ali.

(8) Paige

On the one hand, Paige stood up for herself to Alison, which was really great.  I, too, think that Alison is a terrible person and I was happy she was gone.  On the other hand, we know she’s still into Emily and Emily is clearly still into Alison.  Poor Paige.

(9) Travis

Travis is so nice, but this is just not going to end well for him.  He’s also the type of guy who sends his girlfriend texts that say “Hurry up. I miss u already.” when she goes inside to get coffees and is gone for, like, 5 minutes.  Oy vey, Travis.

(10) Fake Mariska Hargitay Mrs. Hastings

Proud of her for finally leaving her nutbag husband and, by extension, her psychopath older daughter, but, um, I think it took her too long to get there?  Fake Mariska also implies that she and Mr. Hastings had some sort of deal not to involve Spencer and Melissa in … something … so clearly she was involved in Peter’s shady dealings.  And she also seemed sort of hysterical this week.  She pulled Spencer out of school so they could maniacally pack, she cries a bunch, and she doesn’t seem like she really has a plan, which is unlike her.  For once, I felt bad for Fake Mariska.

(11) Aria

I have to say, I had Aria up pretty darn high at first.  She did a bunch of really good things.  For example, she tells Spencer that she can tell Toby what happened with Shana.  When Spence glances at Ali to see what she thinks, Aria says that it’s Spencer’s decision, not Alison’s.  That was very impressive.  She also rightfully chews out Hanna and Emily when they essentially suggest that she should just get over the fact that she killed Shana.  And yeah, it was really weird that Aria just creeped into Jenna’s house and then backed out rather than admit she was there, but it was very nice of her to invite Jenna in for tea and to talk about Shana.  (Even if it was probably pretty dumb, which it was.)  But, ya know, then Ezria happened again, and Aria just loses all the points for me.  I hate these two and I hate being subjected to it.  UGH.

(12) Ezra

See above, except he gets no positive points and gets one billion negatives for his dopey scar and his stupid apartment and his dumb face.  So there.

(13) Jenna

So is she really upset that Shana died, or nah?  Because she really did seem upset during both of her scenes with Aria.  But then during her scene with Mona and Sydney she seemed totally chill?  But by the end, ya know, her house blew up, so probably not her best episode.  Either way, I’m glad she’s back.

(14) Hanna

Hanna was absolutely HILARIOUS during her drunk scenes, but it’s clear that she’s spiraling.  I mean, why is she randomly drinking beer in a park with Caleb?  But she had some great lines though, didn’t she?  She yells about Lucas “doing it” with his “girlfriend” (I’ll believe she exists when I see her), she shoves a bunch of random food in her mouth, and when Travis finds her, she says, “Let me rub that bald head of yours.”  Hilarious.  Unfortunate that Hanna’s going to a dark place, but it’s still funny right now.

(15) Caleb

He, like Lucas, is also sporting weird facial hair.  Questions for Caleb: why did it seem like he was having trouble forming words in the coffee shop?  Why did he flip out on “Biff” for talking in the coffee shop?  Why was he creepily drinking beer in a deserted park?  Where has he been?  Where is he living now?  Is it the vents of the school again?  Can he please go back to Ravenswood and GTFO of Rosewood?

(16) Alison

Oh guuuurl, you’re in trouble.  The “allegedly” comment by the police in the press conference indicates that cracks are forming in her kidnapping story, Mona clearly gets the better of her as described above, and the Liars are very wary of her still.  Plus, she’s still totally lying about things.  The person she was talking to in the car in the beginning of the episode for example?  100% not her dad’s “flunky.”  And what was with that weird look she exchanged with Caleb?  I don’t trust her, but the walls are closing in again.  Also, she wears an absolutely ATROCIOUS outfit on her first day of school.  A weirdly busy dress thingy accompanied by a deep blue sweater with weird faux pearl things on the buttons and sleeves?  For once, she looked like someone who had actually be on the lam for a few years and maybe hadn’t been keeping up with the latest trends.

Not Ranked: Bethany Young (RIP 17 year old patient at Radley who was in Ali’s grave); Cindy and Mindy (Ali called them “gaytrons?”  That’s just ridiculous.); Rosewood police captain (why did he have such a strong New York accent?); Bridget Wu (this girl might be drunk and running her mouth, but everything she told Paige was correct); Lucas’ “girlfriend” (cue skeptical face); Mrs. Fields (she’s “in the den” while Ali’s in the house.  Yeah, ok, but how come we haven’t seen her in years?).

In all seriousness, yeah, this show is crazy and it doesn’t always make sense, but man, do I love it.  It’s so interesting and it’s funny and it’s scary and creepy and it’s got great female characters (see: the truly great Ms. Spencer Hastings and the truly hilarious Hanna Marin).  It’s been a blast and I can’t wait for 100 more episodes of insanity.

‘Til next time, Liars!

Xo,

Christine

The Definitive (according to me) OITNB Character Rankings!

PLL Disclaimer: I know, I am two episodes behind on PLL rankings!  Unacceptable!  Honestly, I’m so sorry, but with real life work going crazy and the World Cup (I love ya, USMNT), I just haven’t had time.  I haven’t even watched this week’s episode yet!  But don’t you worry — I’ll be back making fun of Aria and singing the praises of Spencer Hastings ASAP, I promises!

************************

If you’re anything like me, you spent at least 13 hours of the beautiful weekend of June 6-8 (at least, it was beautiful on the East Coast of the USA) sitting inside binge-watching season 2 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix.  Yes, I’m a TV addict, but come on — it was impossible to stop!  I loved season 1 of OITNB, but season 2 was, like, significantly better somehow.  I’m not sure why or what really changed (other than my interest in Piper about which more later), but I just know that I loved season 2 and I can’t wait to watch it all over again.

So, naturally, I decided to rank all of the characters!  Of course, when I say “all” of the character, I don’t really mean that.  This is a huge show, so of course, I’ve forgotten a few people.  Also, some people simply weren’t on the show long enough to get ranked (see: Piper’s roommates from Chicago).  Note that these are my own personal rankings — this is the order in which I like these characters after spending a significant amount of time with them.

Final point: SPOILER ALERT!!!  This post will contain season 2 Orange is the New Black spoilers.  You have been warned.

Now, on with it!  In reverse order:

43. Larry

UGHHHHHH.  Does anyone not feel this way about him?  I don’t think so.  In fact, the AV Club’s reviews even have a section titled “Ugh, Larry.”  Every time Larry is on the screen it’s a horrible snoozefest.  He’s a drip, he’s a bore, and, for all Piper has screwed him over (which, admittedly, she has), he is also a terrible, selfish character.  Starting with the ridiculously tone deaf and out of touch faux-This American Life Story, moving on to his attempts to get Piper to once again elevate his journalistic ambitions this season, and culminating with the absolutely ridiculous and insane Larry/Polly plot line from this season.  I was fine with this because I hate Larry, but that was the most messed up thing in the universe.  I know Piper cheated on Larry, but his first act is to not only hook up with but get serious with her best freaking friend?!  That is too messed up for words.  I hate Larry.  He’s boring and the worst.  Moving on.

42. Fig

Speaking of the worst.  I’m not sure what was her worst act this season — the bathrooms, the Louboutin comment, the blatant criminal fraud — but I’m glad she’s gone.  (For now, presumably, anyway.)

41. Healy

You know how I said I hated Larry and Fig?  I HATE Healy.  He is a disgusting, misogynist, homophobic pig.  I know he’s also a sad pathetic old man, and maybe we’re supposed to feel bad for him, but I can’t.  He did a few good things this season, namely saving Suzanne from max by faking a work order and providing hilarity to my life in his interactions with Pennsatucky, but he remains a gross person.

40. Vee

Team Poussey!  Team Rosa!  The way Vee went out was the most satisfying end to a season to television that I’ve seen in a long time.  As Rosa said, this lady was RUDE.  (Not to mention a crazy, manipulative psychopath.)  She did a multitude of horrible things all season, but her flashback with her pseudo-son RJ was the icing on the eff-ed up cake.  Peace out, Vee.  I will not miss you.

39. Pornstache

Horrible, pathetic loser whose life is completely ruined now, but he doesn’t seem to be aware of this fact.  I can’t forgive him for poor Tricia’s death last season.

38. Polly

Someone hook this woman up with lessons in Girl Code, STAT.  More flaming bags of poop for you, Polly.

37. Pete

Whatever.  Messed up that he bailed on Polly and fatherhood, but I’m super glad he got to punch Larry in the face. (#Jealous.)

36. Piper’s Dad

35. Piper’s Mom

These two are both horrible.  I have nothing further to add.

34. Larry’s Dad

I didn’t really dislike Larry’s dad (I actually thought Larry’s parents were kind of hilarious last season), but the scene between Larry and his dad in the gay bathhouse was awful and totally turned me against him.  Besides, he produced Larry.  That’s enough for me not to like him.

33. Wanda Bell (female prison guard dating O’Neill)

32. O’Neill

I don’t have strong feelings about either of these two.  Bell is kind of a moron, as is O’Neill, but at least O’Neill got to yell one of my favorite lines of the season: “Scatter the nuns!”

31. Daya’s Mother

I don’t know her name for some reason, but I’m not a big fan.  She’s suddenly all territorial over her daughter, but we know from Daya’s flashbacks that she was not a good mother.  Plus, I really like Gloria, and they two have had some conflicts, so I’m Team Gloria.

30. Luschek

I find Luschek oddly charming for some reason.  Even though he’s a pretty awful human being generally, I don’t hate him.  I think that’s because, as Friend of Christine, Katie, pointed out, he’s friendly with Nicky (about whom more later).

29. Caputo

Caputo is also not a great human being, but I don’t hate him either.  I believe that he generally does want to do the right thing for the women of Litchfield, even if he’s got some gross tendencies.  Unfortunately, his reign as assistant warden is off to a bit of a rocky start, so who knows what will happen to the advancing career of poor Joe Caputo.

28. Gina

I’ll be honest — I had to look up this inmate’s name because I couldn’t remember it.  She’s the one that’s always with Norma, the silent one, and the one who was accidentally burned by Red.  I have no strong opinion on her one way or the other, though I respect how much she cared about Nicky and whether or not she was being tempted by Vee’s heroin.  (You may sense a theme here related to one Nicky Nichols….)

27. Ruiz

Ah, another inmate whose name I had to look up.  Ruiz had a baby last season and spent much of season 2 having one-sided conversations with her boyfriend in the visiting room.  In their last interaction, though, he adorably showed her how much he’d been talking to the baby and being a good dad and it was really very cute.  For that reason alone, I like Ruiz ok.

26. Soso

A new season 2 character!  Soso arrived on the same day that Piper got back from Chicago.  She’s actually super annoying, but I grew to like her, and her genuine convictions, by the end of the season.  She really was a nice, peaceful person who wanted to effect meaningful change on Litchfield (via her hunger strike).  While I’m certain that I would have found her deeply irritating in real life, I ended up respecting her on the show.  Plus, she was responsible for possibly my favorite moment of the season — the power outage singalong.  A million points for trying to start it with “Bitch” by Meredith Brooks and even more points for actually succeeding with my own, personal karaoke jam, “Stay” by Lisa Loeb.

25. Leanne and Angie (aka the other meth heads aka “potato with eyes”)

Last season, I probably would have called these two the Pennsatucky-ettes.  This year, Leanne and Angie decided that life in Litchfield was easier without Pennsatucky, so they broke out on their own.  And, mostly, good for them.  They ate a bunch of nutmeg, which can apparently get you high (?), Angie got called a potato with eyes by Pennsatucky, which killed me, and they joined Soso’s hunger strike (though their demands were ridiculous and Angie licked a slice of pizza at one point…).  Anyway, we still don’t know too much about either of these two, but they came into their own this season a bit.  Looking forward to hearing more about them in season 3.

24. Flaca and Maritza

Once again, I had to look up the second inmate’s name because I couldn’t remember it.  Mostly, I think these two are funny, but they were incredibly horrible to Crazy Eyes the night of the Christmas pageant, which led to her kicking Piper’s butt, so I enjoyed it when the old ladies threatened them.  But they probably had the best exchange of the season when they discussed what love meant to them.  Flaca said that love is like being in a bathtub while The Smiths’ “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” is playing.  Maritza added the most important part — you also have a pizza.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

23. The new old ladies

Ok, yeah, I don’t know any of their names either.  But this is the group of old ladies who seem like totally harmless people until it turns out they’re completely badass!  I mean, one of them tries to kill Vee!  (And accidentally stabs the wrong person, leading to a great quote from Red: “It’s like, step one, pick the person to kill. Step two, kill that person.”)  And the scene where they threatened Flaca and her buddy in the kitchen was absolutely fantastic.

22. Bennett

21. Daya

I think Bennett is absolutely adorable and I like Daya, but I can’t say I really, really care about either of these two.  This storyline isn’t that interesting to me and I see no universe in which it works out.  (Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing for TV purposes.)

20. Cal (Piper’s brother)

I’m also including Cal’s wife, whom he married during their grandmother’s funeral, in this one.  Cal is hilarious and the only person in Piper’s family who isn’t the worst.  Plus, major props to Cal and Mrs. Cal for putting the flaming bag of poop on Polly’s porch.

19. Black Cindy

I think Black Cindy is really funny sometimes (loved her takedown of the “real criminals,” like big pharma during the job fair episode) and I’m glad we got her backstory this season.  I totally buy her as a TSA worker.  But she’s also pretty awful sometimes (can’t believe she went along with blaming Suzanne for beating up Red) and is a complete follower who seems pretty unwilling to stand up for anything most of the time.  I’m right in the middle on Black Cindy.  Hence, she’s near the middle of the rankings.

18. Big Boo

I feel similarly about Big Boo as I do about Black Cindy.  She is hilarious (her conversation with Pennsatucky about the homosexual agenda was one of my favorite moments of the season), but she’s completely willing to sell out anyone if she thinks it’s too her advantage (see: telling Vee about the greenhouse pipeline).  Either way, I want a Big Boo backstory next season!  I feel robbed!  Let’s make her the same person as her character from First Wives Club who dances with Elise Elliot in a gay club.  Please!

17. Janae Watson

I liked Watson last season, particularly her relationship with Yoga Jones.  I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt because of that, even though she was totally mean to poor Yoga Jones this season.

16. Red

Meh.  I don’t love Red, but I don’t hate Red either.  As long as she’s cool with the characters I like and as long as Nicky loves her (there’s that theme again), then she’s fine with me.

15. Gloria

I really like Gloria.  She makes me laugh and I loved her helping Norma make a crazy potion to curse Vee or something.  Her backstory was super sad also.  Gloria is like the Vee/Red equivalent for the Latina women in prison.  She’s not as commanding or ruthless as Vee or Red, which is probably why I like her more than either of them.  Go Gloria.

14. Fischer

I LOVE Fischer.  She’s so sweet and nice!  Yeah, she’s a little naive (how did she not notice that Morello had taken a freaking bubble bath while she was in the hospital with Rosa??), but she’s got a great heart and she really wanted to be kind to the prisoners.  I was so mad at Caputo when he fired her, but as FoC, Katie, pointed out, she was too good for Litchfield anyway.  (Even still, I hope she’s back next season.)

13. Yoga Jones

Fun fact: Yoga Jones = Patty Mayonaise!  So that’s fantastic.  Yoga Jones is also just generally a sweet, peaceful person.  She joined Soso’s hunger strike because she hated the way the guards used SHU as an arbitrary punishment and then she got a little bit cranky from not eating, which was also great and totally realistic.  I could go for more Yoga Jones in season 3.

12. Pennsatucky

I know, this feels a bit high for Pennsatucky, right?  She was truly, hideously awful last season after all.  I mean, she almost killed Piper (until Piper thoroughly kicked her ass that is).  But this season?  This season she was 100% hilarious.  She got new teeth, she called Angie a potato with eyes, she deemed herself “facilitator” of Healy’s Safe Place group, and she hilariously joined the homosexual agenda with Big Boo, even going so far as to get a pixie cut (but not going so far as to actually engage in any girl-on-girl activity, as she informed Healy).  She’s still crazy, of course (see: slamming Leanne’s head into a washing machine), but she was mostly just a funny crazy this season.  Great job by Taryn Manning.

11. Sister Ingalls

My sister and I loved Sister’s backstory because (a) it totally reminded us of The Sound of Music (probably just because of the habits, but whatever) and (b) my sister loves hippies and peace and Sister was all about hippies and peace!  Honestly, I just thought her story was really interesting and relatable.  I’ve always said that I think one of the hardest lessons in religion is that you are supposed to do good things, but not seek praise or credit for them.  I think for human beings, that’s near impossible.  And so it was for Sister Ingalls, a nun who liked attention and praise.  That’s a really complex story, and I liked watching it.

10. Sophia

Sophia didn’t do much this season, but I continue to really enjoy her.  I was so glad to see her bonding with her son over a game of cards.  I also love her friendship with Sister from last season and she gave a hilariously informative lecture on female anatomy to the ladies (and O’Neill).

9. Rosa

Who knew how much I liked Rosa?!  Great backstory, great story with her chemo friend, and an amazingly fantastic ending.  Thanks to Morello, who Rosa called “fantastic” in a really touching moment, Rosa sped away from Litchfield and slammed into Vee with her car (because she was, as Rosa said, “very rude”).  It was great and I loved it.  I’ll miss you, Rosa.

8. Suzanne “Crazy Eyes”

Oh Suzanne.  She continues to be a fantastic character, but her arc was more complicated this season.  We saw again that Suzanne’s childhood was super difficult, despite the efforts of her sweet and supportive parents.  Crazy Eyes really is just a bit crazy and she fell under Vee’s spell quickly and easily.  By far the most troubling moment of the season was watching Suzanne kick the crap out of Poussey in the shower stalls.  It was awful and hard to watch.  But it’s hard to really blame Suzanne.  She was confused and she was swayed by someone who made her feel loved and valued.  It may be tough for her to rebound next season without Vee around.  Time will tell.

7. Morello

I have always liked Morello because she’s just an incredibly nice person.  And she remains an incredibly nice person to her fellow inmates.  But this season, we learned that Morello is a completely delusional, occasionally violent, insane person.  And it diminished my affection for her not at all.  Go figure!  But seriously though, Morello’s episode might have been the craziest one of the season.  The mounting insanity of her flashback (first, you’re like, oh, ok, Christopher was real and she did date him and then you’re like, omg, she only had coffee with him once and then she completely went off the rails) coupled with her decision to bail on the hospital and drive the prison van to Christopher’s house, then BREAK IN and TAKE A FREAKING BATH WEARING HIS FIANCEE’S WEDDING VEIL?!  I mean, it was insane.  Luckily, she got out of the house without him noticing and Fischer never realized she’d been gone.  It was so sad when Christopher showed up at Litchfield and reamed her out in front of everyone and then she broke down crying to Nicky … I mean really, that was awful. So yeah, despite her blatant craziness, I love Morello and I’m rooting for her (to be with Nicky … I totally ship them).

6. Taystee

Taystee had a complicated year, huh?  She was one of my favorite characters last season, and ultimately, she’s still one of my favorites, but she really went astray thanks to Vee.  The estrangement between Taystee and Poussey was really painful for me.  Her flashbacks were incredibly illuminating, though, as was her entire relationship with Vee.  It was so sad to watch someone so bright, so vibrant, and so smart, like Taystee, be unable to overcome the hand life dealt her.  All of these stories touch in some way on depressing aspects of reality, but Taystee’s really stuck with me, probably because it’s so clear how smart and talented she really is.  Anyway, once Vee ends up at Litchfield, it’s only a matter of time before Taystee once again falls under her spell.  Watching her be awful to Poussey and give heroin to Nicky, an openly admitted heroin addict, was really horrible.  Finally, though, by the end of the season, we got our old Taystee back.  And even before that, we did get to watch a delightful game of “Celebrity” featuring Taystee and Poussey on the same team and use of the phrase “the white Michelle Williams,” which absolutely slayed me.  I think we’ll have Taystee as her usual, utterly charming self from here on out.  There’s only one possible point of tension: Poussey is totally in love with her and Taystee … might or might not be interested?  Looking forward to seeing where that one goes.

5. Norma

Ok for real, who else loves Norma aka the silent member of Red’s kitchen posse?  Show of hands please.  Everyone?  Right.  Ok.  Obviously Norma’s greatest moment was last season, when she sang, in the most beautiful way, at the Christmas pageant, but she was killin’ it this season as well.  As we saw in flashbacks, she’s a longtime loyal friend of Red’s, but she sided with Gina when Red burned her.  That was badass and I dug it.  But thankfully, she makes up with Red in the cute family dinner in the greenhouse and is just generally adorable all the time.  Oh and also she tries to kill Vee, first with food or something, and then with a crazy witch potion.  Well done, Norma.  Well done.

4. Piper

This ranking is a strong reflection of just how far Piper has come in my estimation over the course of a season.  Truthfully, I wasn’t really crazy about Piper last season.  She was so horribly selfish (she still is pretty self-involved, it’s true) and she was just not as interesting as many of the other characters.  This year, Piper finally got some perspective.  It’s actually interesting to compare Larry and Piper in that respect — as discussed above, one of the worst things about Larry is how incredibly self obsessed he is.  Larry hasn’t changed at all, but Piper has.  (Yes, I grant you, Piper is in prison and Larry isn’t.  Fair enough.)  Prison has made Piper more hard, more cynical, and more badass. I also think Taylor Schilling was really very good this season; she wasn’t bad last season, but her portrayal of Piper really grew, I think.  My favorite episode of this season was the one where Piper gets furlough.  It was great to see her back in her “normal” life and to see just how she changed and didn’t exactly fit in anymore.  Contrast that with Litchfield, where Piper increasingly seemed at home and comfortable.  It’s kind of a weird thing — recognizing and sort of liking that the character fits in better in prison than she does in her old life — but it was very compelling to watch.  (Another reason why 40 Oz. to Furlough was my favorite episode?  The last scene: Piper passing over champagne for a 40 and then sitting on the street drinking it with NYC behind her.  Amazing sequence, amazing shot.)  Admittedly, Piper is still sort of a lousy person (see: trying to basically sell Soso to Big Boo in exchange for a blanket), but she’s improved in a lot of ways (see: going to check out Red’s store and then kindly lying to her by saying it’s doing really well).  And let’s be honest: I cannot WAIT to see new-and-improved Piper and Alex 2.0 next season.  Speaking of which…

3. Alex

Yes, I know, Alex was only in four episodes this season.  It was a damn shame, wasn’t it?  True, on an episode-to-episode level I didn’t miss Alex that much.  But man, when she was back, I was like, “Oh yeah, I love this character!”  She’s funny, she’s brutally honest to the point of being mean, she’s kinda sexy with those glasses and that bad guy vibe … she’s just all around great.  (Full disclosure: I have a longstanding girl crush on Laura Prepon, which is mainly because of her role as the great Donna Pinciotti on That 70s Show.  I realize that my impact my feelings about Alex.  Moving on.)  In case you hadn’t guessed, I’m a total Alex/Piper shipper.  I know why people are against them together — mainly because they can’t stop royally screwing each other over — but don’t they have great chemistry though?  Here’s where I will unnecessarily bring up Taylor Swift because, obviously: you know the song The Way I Loved You?  It’s about Taylor’s current boyfriend, who is nice and stable and patient and gets along with her parents and generally seems perfect except for the fact that he’s BORING.  Contrasted with her former flame, with whom her relationship is volatile and crazy and passionate (filled with screaming and fighting and kissing in the rain!).  Clearly, the preference is for the passionate relationship.  Some people don’t agree with this perspective — volatility and passion can be bad of course.  But I’m one of the people who sees the romance in it.  And that’s how I think about Alex and Piper (“so in love that I acted insane” = called your probation officer to get you thrown back in jail so you don’t murdered by a drug kingpin).  Anyway, we’ll see how this plays out with my girl LP in every episode of season 3.  I am counting down the days.

2. Poussey

If I had done this exercise after last season, Poussey would have been somewhere in the middle of the pack.  I thought she was cool and all, but she didn’t really stand out to me.  Well, now she does.  She’s the only African American inmate to resist Vee’s charms and to see her for what she is — a manipulative, psychopathic bully.  To her detriment, Poussey refuses to go along, to the point where Vee gets Suzanne to beat the crap out of her in the showers.  (This scene really, really broke my heart, truly.)  Speaking of heartbroken, that was Poussey pretty much all season.  She was alone, without friends and without Taystee, her #1 girl.  Yeah, she developed something of a prison hooch addiction, but Poussey was basically the ethical center of Litchfield the season.  She saw the difference between giving out cigarettes and dealing heroin and she especially noted how messed up it was to provide heroin to people like Nicky.  Her backstory was also incredibly sad and made you understand her character even more.  (Essentially, Poussey’s dad was in the army and she lived in Germany, had a serious girlfriend, got caught in bed with the girlfriend, and, as a result, the dad got transferred.  Poussey was going to try to shoot the GF’s dad, which obviously was a bad move, but luckily her dad stopped her.  All very sad and powerful stuff.)   Basically, I think Poussey is objectively the best person in Litchfield Prison.  I love her and I’m so glad that she’s finally been reunited with her bestie.  Happy days are here again.

1. Nicky

As you may have guessed, for me, Nicky Nichols is the best character in the OITNB universe by a wide margin.  I love her unconditionally and in an unqualified way.  Why?  Well, for starters, she’s played by the great Natasha Lyonne.  If you don’t already, I would suggest following Ms. Lyonne on all forms of social media and just generally being obsessed with her because that is the right thing to do.  Secondly, Nicky is freaking hilarious.  She, like Alex, is also brutally, painfully honest, but she’s even funnier than Vause.  She’s cutting, she’s self deprecating, she is totally unafraid to poke fun at the absurdity of life in Litchfield … in short, she’s the prisoner you’d most want to hang around with.  Nicky is also a great friend and is totally loyal (see her relationships with Red and Morello).  The scene where she gave Red the heroin had me on my feet clapping in joy.  Finally, Nicky is also a deeply flawed and wounded character, but she deals with her pain with humor and perspective.  It’s admirable, especially given the situation she’s in.  (Plus, no offense Big Boo, but Nicky totally wins that contest.)  Basically, Nichols is the greatest and, though I’m worried about her and the heroin in the vents, I have confidence that she’ll be ok in the end.

So that’s it my friends.  It’s bittersweet, isn’t it?  One weekend of bingeing, several hours/days of writing, and then almost a year of waiting for more episodes.  I encourage everyone to follow the OITNB cast on Twitter and especially Instagram — they’re super active and they’re always hanging out with each other.  It’ll make you feel like the show is totally real (except for the prison thing)!

‘Til next time, you’ve got tiiiiiiiiimeeeeee…

Xoxo,

Christine

“Is this cheese old?” PLL Rankings!

Greetings, Liars!  An excellent return to form for our favorite Rosewood denizens tonight, wouldn’t you say?  I mean, there was even a scene where all four Liars walked across a Rosewood street, Abbey Road-style.  And it was just as hilarious and amazing as it sounds.  So let’s get right into it!

(1) Mona 

I just want to start by saying that Mona’s badass makeup has been on point so far this season.  She also gets a showdown with Aria (captioned by ABC Family #AriaVsMona), which is just as laughable as you would imagine between these two characters.  (Mona: ” Tell me, how is Mr. Fitz doing?  Will he make a full recovery?”  Aria: Wide eyed, frozen, shocked face.  ZING.)  But really, Mona wins the episode for one reason.  This little speech, delivered to Alison, who has come to visit her own coffin, naturally: “The truth will bury you in a New York minute.  In case you’re wondering, that was me.  I sent that text.  I guess I should have signed my name because I don’t have to pretend to be anyone else anymore.  I don’t have to hide.  You do.  And you’re gonna wish you stayed dead.”  BOOM.

(2) Spencer

Spencer, per usual, is the one most concerned about the fact that Alison has yet again dragged them all into another insanely elaborate lie.  She notes astutely that it’s like they’re all now back on Planet Alison.  Of course, Emily tries to defend Ali (insert side-eye emoji here), and Spence deadpans, “Are you really going to stand here and defend Ali right now?”  Spencer also finds the bag in the DiLaurentis trash that indicates that Jason was in New York and she is the only one with the gumption to just straight up ask him if he was in New York and why.  There’s also a throwdown scene between Ali and Spencer over the absurd lie that Ali made up to “protect Aria” (again, insert side-eye emoji here) in which, obviously, I’m #TeamSpencer.  Finally, my girl gets a little bit of action this week, as boyfriend Toby returns from London and Spencer legit refuses to answer her phone so she can cuddle with him.  If only Toby would cut his hair … alas.  Anyway, yet another solid episode for Ms. Hastings.  Thank goodness she’s no longer a drug addict!

(3) Hanna

(4) Ashley M.

I’m ranking these two together because the Hanna/Ashley M. comedy hour just tickles me to no end.  Hanna: “Is this cheese old?”  Ashley M.: “It’s harvati.”  Hanna: “Does it melt?”  Ashley M.: “All cheese melts, Hanna.”  God, these two are the best.  In the same conversation, Ashley M. makes reference to the Manhattan Project; naturally Hanna is confused.  They also both look great and they have great mother/daughter chemistry and everything they do together just pleases me.  Points all around to the Marin women.  (P.S. I totally forgot that Ashley M. worked for Jessica DiLaurentis.  Anyone else?)

(5) Mike Montgomery

Ok, I’ll say it — is this even really the same guy who once threw a laptop at Ella Montgomery?  I mean really, he’s so much bigger and taller and more mature and, I’ll say it, more handsome now.  And so confident!  He flirts with Mona SO HARD and it works!  I mean, Mona is a cray lady, but she’s also badass, so good for him!  However, I do have questions here.  Mike later admits that he borrowed Aria’s iPod (more on this in a moment) and that, yeah, violin music might have been coming form his room, so what?  Is he just getting royally played by Mona (kind of like most other people in Rosewood)?  I mean, he is related to Aria, so he’s probably a bit of an idiot.  I guess we’ll just have to stay tuned.

(6) Toby

I would have ranked Toby above Mikey M. — after all, Toby was slightly more successful with his even-more-badass-than-Mona girlfriend — but I can’t because of his hair.  I know that the actor who plays Toby, Keegan Allen, was growing his hair out for locks of love, which is great and extremely commendable of him, but I can’t front like it doesn’t look totally ridiculous.  Nevertheless, to the extent that I am even remotely interested in shipping on PLL, I ship Spoby, so I was glad to see a return of the Tob-meister.  And, bonus points, he had useful information — he didn’t see Melissa in London as she claimed (surprise, surprise), but, rather, saw Wren (ugh), who  told him that Melissa was gone.  Hmmm.

(7) Emily

Emily.  What to say here.  I mean, on the one hand, she had a few good moments.  When Ali asked about her mother in the beginning of the episode, Emily correctly and bluntly notes that, in fact, Ali, “your mother buried you.”  Hah!  She also kind of talks Aria off of her manic ledge because, OH YEAH, Emily totally killed someone one time, so she can relate!  (I didn’t forget that Emily shot Maya’s “cousin” Nate in the lighthouse … but I also kind of did forget about it?  Is that weird?)  On the other hand, to quote girls everywhere, “I just can’t” with Emily vis-a-vis Alison.  She is just so STUPID about Ali all the time.  She embellishes Ali’s lie about the kidnapping (even though she later walks that back a bit in a conversation with Aria), she runs off to see Alison the moment she gets a chance, she walks Alison’s dog for some reason (?), and she’s super quick to tell Mr. D that she’d LOVE to have dinner at their house.  There’s just an air of pathetic desperation with respect to Emily and Alison that I can’t seem to look past.  Sorry, Em.

(8) Jason DiLaurentis

Mega creep alert!!  Everything Jason does in this episode is mad creepy, from staring at HIS FREAKING SISTER while she sleeps (EW), to sitting alone in his house in the dark seemingly waiting for his other sister to break in so he can have a creepo conversation with her (why??).  However, they’re giving us too much of the “Jason is super shady” vibe right now, right?  The entire episode is built around the Liars’ developing theory that Jason hit Ali with the rock, Mrs. D was covering for him, and that Jason and Mrs. D were basically A the entire time.  Naturally, that is not the case, and Jason looked genuinely shocked when they uncovered his mother’s buried alive body (!!) at the end of the episode.  Either way, Jason is going to be in bad shape when we next check in with him, I’d imagine.

(9) Alison

Mona > Alison.  For now.  We all know that Alison is a crazy manipulative sociopath, so I imagine she’s just plotting her comeback.  But for now, she’s super vulnerable.  She makes up a wild and inconsistent lie at the police station, involving a kidnapping and two-year hostage situation, she has to fake sleep while her creepo brother stares at her, and she spends at least a third of the episode skulking around in a very A-like hoodie and trying to suck up to Mona.  In that scene, Ali basically directly cites a Buffy episode, when she notes that going straight to hell was easy, but it’s coming back that’s hard.  But hey, on the plus side, she adopts a doggy.

(10) Fake Mariska Hargitay Mrs. Hastings

In yet another episode of Hastings Parenting 101, Fake Mariska indirectly blames Spencer for the fact that there is an actual dead girl in Alison’s grave.  I mean, she’s the best, isn’t she?  On the other hand, she gets two pretty decent lines.  First, in reference to Melissa, Fake Mariska notes that all she brought back with her from London was attitude (:::dramatic pause:::) … and secrets.  SO OMINOUS.  Later, when Toby says that Fake Mariska can call Wren to verify his story, she replies that she’d “rather stick a knife in the toaster.”  Me too, Fake Mariska, me too.

(11) Mr. DiLaurentis

Just edges out Fake Mariska for worst parent of the episode.  He openly thinks that Jason is a messed up, at least borderline psycho, who may or may not have kidnapped his sister.  (Of course, all of this might be entirely true.)  He also has a serious quivering lip issue, so that’s something.  This is, I believe, the first time we’ve ever seen Mr. DiLaurentis, so more to come here, I’m sure.

(12) Aria

Aria basically spends the episode in a manic state.  Which, ya know, I don’t really blame her for at all to be honest.  I mean, she did kill someone last week after all.  She has a dream montage about Shauna scored by violin music, and then wakes up to hear actual violins coming from somewhere outside.  I mean, that’s creepy as hell, but I have a question about this scene — why is Aria, plagued by thoughts of her recent murder episode, wearing a t-shirt that says “You’re No Good”?  Isn’t that just, like, pointing a big sign at the issue?  Later, she is inundated with violin tunes on her iPod, which is, like, a whole new level of A’s technological creepiness.  Anyway, Aria continues to lose her mind for the rest of the hour, again, not that I blame her, but overall, this is just not a good time for her.  Plus, she gets dominated by Mona in the aforementioned #AriaVsMona confrontation, leading her to again completely freak out.  Unclear how she’s going to pull out of this one.  But hey, bonus points for asking a very prescient question when she’s informed that the barking dog outside in fact belongs to Alison, “When did she have time to get a dog?”  When, indeed, Aria, when indeed.

Not Ranked: Holbrook (yeah, ok, he did pick apart Ali’s stupid story at the police station, but he’s just not interesting enough to get ranked); Wren (really, this dude is still following after a Hastings woman?  Pathetic.); Mrs. DiLaurentis (still dead, but at least she’s not buried in the backyard anymore?); Mrs. Fields (apparently in Dallas for some reason?  Can anyone explain this?); Pepe the dog (you seem cool, but I’m sorry that (a) you’re owned by Alison DiLaurentis and (b) that you found a dead body in the backyard).

What did you guys think of this episode?  Pretty much a return to PLL form, right?  I feel like the person lingering over these first two episodes, the person we haven’t yet seen, is Jenna.  I am anxiously awaiting her return.  Maybe next week, when Ali finally goes back to Rosewood High?

‘Til then!

Xoxo,

Christine

#MonasArmy: PLL Rankings!

You guys … it’s finally back!!  I’m not going to lie, that wasn’t my favorite episode of Pretty Little Liars ever (it was a little too all over the place, which is a pretty common season premiere problem, I think), but who even cares, I was just so excited to see my favorite gals again!  And I’m even more excited to be criticizing everything and ranking everyone all over again.  So let’s get right to it!

(1) Mona

This is my absolute favorite version of Mona — BADASS MONA.  You could tell she was in full badass mode by her outfit — spiky earrings, red lipstick, leather … it was all working for her.  Plus, she got her very own hashtag: #MonasArmy!  Just like Dumbledore’s Army!  Only probably with a slightly more evil purpose.  (Although, Allison is an evil, manipulative, psychopath a la Voldemort, so maybe it’s not as far off as I initially thought.)  Anyway, Mona convenes her army of people whose lives were ruined by Allison (in my notes, I called it a “creep convention”) and tells them that there’s strength in numbers and that the bigger the army is, the harder Allison falls.  I don’t know exactly what she’s up to, but it’s probably something cray, so I’m pretty pumped up about the whole thing.

(2) Spencer

Why did I rank Spencer second?  Um, because she’s my favorite?  Whatever, she’s back to the old Spencer, so that’s good enough for me!  In the beginning, she’s in full Spencer mode, trying to give the girls a history lesson about something that I didn’t quite catch and expressing typical Spencer-esque surprise that Allison has read Sun Tzu (or even knows who Sun Tzu is).  Also, realistically, her stomach growls super loudly because she’s hungry (thank you for acknowledging the need to eat, PLL!), and then Spence, Hanna, and Emily giggle over their favorite TV show, Freaky Foodies, like a couple of normal girlfriends.  It was both adorable and kind of strange for PLL.  I also appreciate that Spencer and Hanna seem appropriately wary of Allison (Emily … well, you know how Emily is about Allison).  This is going to be a season-long thing, particularly between Ali and Spence.  Stay tuned.  (Also, unrelatedly, Friend of Christine, Susan, noticed that when the girls were sitting in the hospital lobby pretending to read magazines, Spencer was reading one called simply “Diabetes.”  It was probably about Stacey McGill from The Babysitters Club.)

(3) Hanna

Ok, Hanna looked AMAZING in this episode.  Her hair was great, her outfit was on point … everything was working for her.  Which is impressive, considering the trek the girls have been on.  Hanna also had the best line of the episode – when the girls pop out to confront “A” (about which, more later), Hanna says, “I guess you didn’t read San Zu, bitch.”  CLASSIC HANNA.  Later, when the girls are talking about what they would do if they didn’t have to deal with A drama, Hanna surprisingly says that she’d pick up a sport and then admits that she likes Spencer’s field hockey skirt.  (Speaking as someone who played field hockey and had to wear those skirts, they are AWFUL, Hanna.  Don’t do it!)  Anyway, Hanna gets points for the usual: looking great, being funny, and agreeing with Spencer that they need to be suspicious of Ali.  I’m not sure Hanna will be able to maintain her great form from last season, especially considering what I’ve read about her this season, but she sure has had a great run.

(4) Cece

Everything’s coming up Cece, eh?  She escapes the useless Rosewood police, heads off to “New York,” finds the girls in the theater, convinces Allison to give her Vivan Darkbloom’s passport, and skips town in a Vivan getup whilst speaking French.  Oh and I think she killed Wilden.  Well ok, then, Cece.

(5) Aria

I know, I know, this is WAY too high for Aria.  She’s only up here for one reason: because she basically saved the girls at the end of the episode by smacking Shauna in the face with the gun from the play.  But, um, Aria’s kind of a murderer now? So that’s a bit awkward.  We also had to watch her be a dummy about Ezra, per usual, and her outfit was absolutely insane, also per usual.  I mean seriously, she was wearing some kind of scarf thing with tassels and fringe and she had a huge tiger on her shirt for some reason.  Where does she even get this crap??

(6) Melissa Hastings

Melissa seemed pretty vulnerable during this episode.  I mean, she wanted to tell her mom, Fake Mariska, and the cops the truth about something and she even got incredibly weepy at the thought that there is another dead girl out there in Allison’s grave.  (I totally didn’t buy this by the way — no way Melissa Hastings is mourning over some girl she doesn’t even know.)  But then, by the end, we saw the Melissa Hastings we’ve all come to know and love: she busted into the #MonasArmy meeting looking fierce to announce, “We don’t have much time.”  No idea what she was talking about, but a Melissa/Mona combo is DANGEROUS and I’m pretty excited about it.  (Still, though, what the heck did Melissa whisper to Mr. Hastings at the end of the last episode?  And why would it make Spencer come home?  And why can’t Fake Mariska know about it?)

(7) Allison

Well, she’s back.  And everyone knows it.  So that’s kind of bad.  Plus, she gave her “get out of jail free card” aka her Vivan Darkbloom passport and money to Cece, which was kind of dumb.  The scene between Ali, Cece, and Noel Kahn was interesting, though, because clearly, the three have been in deep cahoots with one another for a while.  Eventually, Ali tells Emily that Cece wasn’t Red Coat, but that she, in fact, helped Emily escape from the buzz saw and she killed Wilden.  Ali acts like she can’t tell the other girls that information because she’s protecting them, which, please, we’ve all met Allison, that’s a load of hooey.  She’s up to something, I’m sure of it.  And I’m sure we’ll find out what eventually.  (Maybe in 2016 after the show ends.  Which, yay for two more seasons of PLL!!)

(8) Emily

Emily still has that flannel shirt tied around her waist.  And she still behaves like a lovestruck child around Allison.  She did, however, push Ali to give her some answers, though now she and Ali have a secret from Spencer/Aria/Hanna, which is clearly not good, but Emily will probably like because it allows her to be closer to Allison.  Ugh.  Emily is so frustrating.

(9) Holbrooke

This guy is kind of ridiculous, isn’t he?  I mean, when he showed up at the Hastings house to tell them, inexplicably, that Cece escaped, he was basically doing the whole thing in a Batman-esque stage whisper.  Like, why?  Then, when he gets a call from the NYPD (I mean, the freaking NYPD, dude, this should be a big deal to some two-bit Rosewood detective) he answers the phone by basically saying, “I’m busy, what do you want?”  Seriously?  I’ll give him credit though – he knows how to work the Google (and he knows what Allison’s voice sounds like for some reason?).

(10) Noel Kahn

He doesn’t really do much, other than meet up with Cece and Ali in a diner and suggest that they make out with each other, but ya know, it’s good to see him back.  You stick around, Noel Kahn, ok?

(11) Paige

Paige aka Pigskin gets invited to be in #MonasArmy.  But it seems that Paige is going to resist Badass Mona’s charms, saying that she’s no longer afraid of Allison.  Mona correctly points out that Paige and Emily are already having issues and Ali only just got back to Rosewood, but Paige still starts to walk out.  But then Melissa Hastings busts in and Paige remains in the meeting.  I’m not sure about that Paige and her motivations.  Watch this space.

(12) Lucas

Welcome back, Lucas!  Lucas seems to be a prime member of #MonasArmy, since he was there before everyone else.  We haven’t seen Lucas in a long while, maybe not since he creeped Hanna out in a rowboat and, I think, stole Caleb’s money and skipped town?  Anyway, he’s back, he hates Ali (she called him “Hermy”), and he’s probably going to get into some shady stuff.  Pretty excited about it.

(13) Peter Hastings

Peter Hastings is in a dark place, as evidenced by the fact that he spent the entire episode, glowering, weirdly raising his eyebrows at Melissa, and drinking whisky alone with the lights off.  He knows something that he can’t tell his wife about and it’s clearly eating at him (and causing his eyebrows to raise in very strange ways).  This should be interesting.

(14) Fake Mariska Hargitay Mrs. Hastings

The only reason she’s ranked below her husband is because she has less information.  Melissa and Peter are keeping something from her, which she seems to now be aware of (probably thanks to all the eyebrow raising).  Other than that, she didn’t have much going on (aside from her phone call with Ashley M. – I miss you, Ashley M., come back!).

(15) Ezra

Spends the entire episode hovering between life and death.  Unfortunately, he survives and whispers something to Aria that causes her to realize that Shauna is bad and she might be after the girls.  Ugh, whatever, Ezra.  He also says something ridiculous and awful to Allison in a flashback about how she’s his Holly Golightly.  I mean, really guy?  Such a cliche.

(16) Shauna

Welp, goodbye Shauna.  Apparently, she fell in love with Jenna and, therefore, decided she needed to get revenge on the girls, Allison specifically, for the incident known as “The Jenna Thing.”  I like how she dresses in a full A getup in order to brandish a gun at the ladies.  Unfortunately for Shauna, she is no longer for this world.  I, for one, will not miss her.

Not Ranked: Officer Maple (knocked unconscious by Cece and left at the side of the road … sad for him); the girl Allison called Puss-face (I mean, that’s just mean); the girls Allison called Les and Whore (also mean, and entirely uncreative); all the other sad people in #MonasArmy (special shout out to the twins because this show and twins!); Mrs. DiLaurentis (still dead and, to quote FoC, Susan, “Has anyone noticed that Mrs. DiLaurentis is dead yet?”).

Two other things that I want to discuss with respect to this episode.

First: I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I HATE fake New York settings.  It is a major television pet peeve of mine.  Obviously this is because I live in New York and have deep familiarity with it, but it just drives me bonkers when a program shows you a random street and throws a yellow cab on it and you’re supposed to believe it’s New York City.  I hated it in Friends (I mean the size of that apartment alone was infuriating), it was ridiculous on the (weirdly kind of good) Amanda Bynes/Jennie Garth program What I Like About You, and I think it’s one of the reasons why I can’t get into The Mindy Project.  So, naturally, this “New York” on PLL drove me bonkers.  Number one “New York” TV thing that is 100% unrealistic: the existence of alleyways.  All fake New Yorks have a ton of alleys!  Guess what?  There are NO ALLEYS IN NEW YORK CITY!  They don’t exist!  Stop showing them to me on TV!  Also, there are no random playgrounds in the middle of the street.  Further to that, there are no streets in Manhattan that are utterly deserted at what seems to be a relatively late, but not that late, time of the evening.  It’s the City That Never Sleeps, for goodness sakes!  And here’s another question — why did you show me a random saxophone player on a street corner, PLL?  That’s a New Orleans thing!  Get your “New” cities straight!  UGH!

Ok.  Rant over.  The other thing.

Second: Let’s talk about the scene where the million different A’s jumped out at the girls and danced around them, Cirque du Soleil-style.  What the heck?  I mean it was creepy, don’t get me wrong, but why did they just dance around the girls and kind of make noises at them?  What was their intent?  What were they trying to achieve?  And WHO ARE ALL THOSE PEOPLE??  I mean, we know it wasn’t anyone in #MonasArmy, right?  Was Shauna one of them?  Jenna?  Jason?  Who are you and what is your purpose, A’s in masks???

Either way, it was fun to have PLL back, wasn’t it?  Having Allison officially back with the group should make for an all new and interesting dynamic and I, for one, am pretty freaking excited about it.  For the purposes of this column, I’ve decided to drop my “Whither Art Thou?” section for now, because, let’s face it, I think Marlene was reading it and she brought back everyone I’ve been thinking about for the most part!  I mean, SPOILER ALERT, we now even know that Holden is coming back!  (Much to FoC, Katie’s, delight!)  So thanks, Marlene, for reading this here blog and giving the people (i.e., me) what they want!

‘Til next week!

Xoxo,

Christine

And the Awards for Best Use of Music on TV Go To…

Entertainment Weekly recently had a great idea for a feature — they highlighted their all-time favorite music on TV moments.  (Check it out here.)  I loved this idea, so I decided to do my own!  Surprisingly, EW and I don’t have any overlap in our songs (though we do on our shows), so this should be fun.  Let’s get started!

“Dancing On My Own” by Robyn from GIRLS

Honestly, I’m not sure how EW got this wrong.  They picked what is clearly the SECOND best musical moment on GIRLS (the Icona Pop “I Love It” dance party between Elijah and Hannah and her yellow mesh shirt).  This moment, from one of my favorite episodes of GIRLS ever (season 1, episode 3 “All Adventurous Women Do”), is probably my all-time favorite music on TV moment (and possibly my favorite moment ever on a television program, which is really saying something).  Three reasons.  First, the use of this song, only one of the greatest songs of all-time (please see my previous post for Robyn-related gushing).  Second, the Hannah/Marnie friendship has always meant a lot of me for some reason, and I think this is one of their best moments as a pair.  The way Hannah dances and then gives Marnie a hug from behind and the way Marnie leans back into it just kills me.  (Why does the Hannah/Marnie friendship mean so much to me?  Good question.  I’m not sure.  I guess I feel somewhat connected to Marnie, uptight, type A person that she is, and I feel very invested in female BFFs, particularly college BFFs.  Since their “You’re the wound!” argument at the end of season 1, I have wanted and needed a real Hannah/Marnie breakthrough, and I haven’t yet gotten one.  Fingers crossed for next season.)  Finally, this was the moment when I realized that GIRLS was the first show on television to really understand twentysomething year old women and how they relate to each other IRL.  In real life, when you find our that your ex-boyfriend is gay, you send out a funny tweet and then you have a dance party with your best friend to “Dancing On My Own.”  It’s just what is done, and GIRLS was the first show to understand that.  Thanks, Lena, for this and so much else.

(I should note that there’s also a great Blair/Chuck getting busy scene on Gossip Girl set to “Dancing On My Own.”  I love Chuck and Blair so much, but I have to give it to Hannah and Marnie.)

“Started From The Bottom” by Drake from Broad City

I think I did an actual spit-take while watching this scene.  Between Ilana’s crazy-eyed Nicki Minaj performance and Abbi’s 100% committed (such that I wasn’t even certain it was her at first), Missy Elliott from “The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)” video thing, I was DYING.  The reaction of the teller and the patrons is absolutely priceless as well.  I want to always enter banks in this manner.  If someone could please arrange that, it would be great.

“Full of Grace” by Sarah McLachlan from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is this moment from the season 2 BtVS finale, “Becoming Part 2.”  I have a specific memory of watching this episode in the first house my family lived in on my TV in my room (fun note: shortly thereafter, my parents removed my television from my room, thereby cementing my status as a certified TV addict) and sobbing hysterically, such that my stepdad burst in thinking that something was wrong.  In short, Buffy saves the world by killing her one true love, Angel, right after he becomes good again (he had been bad for part of the season … it was a whole thing).  She kisses him, tells him she loves him, and sends him to hell.  It was awful.  And then, as her mom and friends wonder where she is, Buffy boards a bus and hightails it out of town.  The last shot of the season is a sign saying “You are now leaving Sunnydale.”  It was truly traumatic for this 13 year old.  One of the weepiest TV moments ever.  And much more effective at tear-jerking than Sarah McLachlan’s current presence on TV (in those damn ASPCA commercials, which are just awful and depressing).

“I Hear The Bells” by Mike Doughty from Veronica Mars

Ok, it’s possible that THIS is my favorite television moment ever.  And this song, for me, is the focal point of the scene, and part of what makes it so good.  (The meat of the scene even starts with Veronica noting that she really likes this song!)  If you’ve ever watched Veronica Mars, chances are, you are in on Logan/Veronica (and if you’re not, WTF?!?).  Logan and Veronica are OTP (is that the correct usage?) and this scene is their best moment.  As Logan talks about their “epic” love story, spanning years and continents, ruining lives and shedding blood (typical Logan Echolls drunk grandeur), you can just see Veronica’s confusion and interest and hesitation all running across her face at once.  (To quote Taylor Swift, she’s “happy, free, confused, and lonely at the same time.”  It’s miserable and magical!)  So many kudos to Kristen Bell in this scene.  My favorite part is the most relatable one.  As Logan reaches the apex of his little speech, and starts to scoot closer to Veronica, and touches her face, Veronica does this thing — she takes this deep shuddering sigh, and she looks up at the ceiling as if to say, “Oh God, am I really doing this again?”  All women have done that move.  The sigh and the look.  It’s completely true to life, and K. Bell nailed it.  I could watch this scene 10 times in a row.  It’s that good.  (In fact, maybe I will do that right now.)

“Breathe” by Michelle Branch from Sex and the City

This one is probably just specific to me and Friend of Christine, Regina.  Most people think of this episode of Sex and the City as the one where Charlotte and Harry get married.  But to us, it’s the one where Carrie does the trapeze while “Breathe” by Michelle Branch plays.  I can’t tell you how much I love this particular song.  I mean seriously, have you listened to this one lately?  Listen to the words.  It is SO GOOD.  It can really get you through some stuff, let me just tell you.  (It was heavy in my rotation in college when I was super emo and full of feelings.)  I do love this scene of SATC though, because (a) I love this show deeply and unconditionally and (b) I particularly love any scenes that emphasize the friendship between the girls (see above for discussion of my abiding interest in female friendships).  And this scene just nails it.  It doesn’t matter that Carrie can’t actually execute the catch because she has a great safety net in Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte (and because “Breathe” was playing).

“Feels Like Home” by Chantal Kreviazuk from Dawson’s Creek

My favorite moment from my favorite episode of Dawson’s, season two’s “A Perfect Wedding.”  This is the scene in which Dawson and Joey get back together after breaking up so she could “find herself” (ugh).  But first, Joey dances with her dad (still a drug dealer), Bessie looks on happily, Dawson dances with his mom, Pacey and Andie are adorable, etc.  And then, during the best part of the song, Dawson and Joey have the world’s cutest conversation on the dance floor.  “So thank you.  For being my friend, for understanding me better than anyone, and putting up with me for the last sixteen years.  I love you.”  Watch this conversation and don’t be a Dawson/Joey shipper.  I dare you.  (Oh yeah, and then we cut back to the docks, which Abby has fallen off of and died, thus sending Andie into a complete meltdown spiral.  Good times!)

“Transatlanticism” by Death Cab for Cutie from Parenthood

Gah, I can’t find this scene on YouTube!  You’ll have to go to season 3, episode 17 “Remember Me, I’m the One Who Loves You” on Netflix and skip to the ending montage.  This is one of the saddest, most emotional Death Cab songs ever, and it scored the Parenthood scene which caused me to cry the most tears I’ve cried during a television program since the aforementioned season 2 Buffy finale.  This is a super long song, and Parenthood uses basically the whole thing as it shows Julia and Joel finding out that they’re not getting the baby they were planning to adopt (this KILLED me), Crosby and Jasmine finally get back together in the rain (just like a Taylor Swift song!), and an emotional scene between mother daughter duo Sarah (the great Lauren Graham) and Amber (TV’s best crier and most empathetic performer, Mae Whitman).  This scene is incredibly good and evocative.  All hail Parenthood (which, let’s face it, is going to make all of us cry all the tears during next season, it’s final run on TV).

“California” by Phantom Planet from The OC

To be honest, this was the hardest show from which to choose a musical moment.  Music was so incredibly important on The OC, and there were at least 10 scenes I could have picked.  In final consideration: Ryan Adams’ “Wonderwall” cover when Seth and Summer dance in his room on Valentine’s Day, “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap from the scene where Marissa shoots Trey, Ryan and Marissa dancing to “Forever Young,” Jem’s version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” during Julie and Caleb’s wedding (poor Marissa in this scene), and the cover of “Champagne Supernova” that plays during the Seth/Summer upside down Spiderman kiss.  Just a ton of options.  But in the end, I had to pick the song that was most important to The OC — “California” by Phantom Planet, which became one of the best theme songs ever.  This is also a great scene from a really quite excellent pilot.  Ryan Atwood, after getting thrown out by his alcoholic mom and her loser boyfriend, desperately calls everyone he knows from a pay phone asking to crash with them for the evening.  No one answers, Ryan bangs the phone and punches the booth in frustration.  Finally, out of options, Ryan calls his public defender, the world’s greatest human, Sandy Cohen.  “California” continues to play as Sandy drives Ryan from his rundown neighborhood in Chino (“Ew.” — Summer Roberts) to gorgeous, pristine, rich as hell Newport Beach.  It’s an incredible scene, one that is replayed at the end of season 1 when Ryan heads back to Chino, and one that kicks off one of the greatest music-on-TV shows ever.

Ok, I think that’s all I’ve got for now.  A few Honorable Mentions:

–”On My Own” from Les Miserables as sung by Ms. Josephine Potter on Dawson’s Creek.  A truly great (and hilarious) moment, and the first moment where Dawson realizes, “Oh crap, Joey’s kind of great, isn’t she?”

–”The Ice Is Getting Thinner” by Death Cab for Cutie from Gossip Girl.  Man, these Death Cab songs and the sad moments, huh?  Josh Schwartz, creator of both The OC and Gossip Girl, went back to the Death Cab well for the series’ first, and one of its most heart wrenching, breakups.  Dan and Serena break up at her mother’s wedding (good timing!), but they have to dance and pose for photos and act nice anyway.  This terribly sad DCFC song plays while they dance (and remain dancing even after the photographer leaves).  It’s an incredibly sad and touching moment for two characters who become ridiculously unlikeable shortly thereafter.

–”Moth’s Wings” by Passion Pit from Awkward.  This song, which played in the pilot of Awkward., was used again in last season’s finale, which was also the last episode in which the creator of the show was involved.  Protagonist Jenna Hamilton, having gone through a season of spiraling out of control, has finally gotten her life in order.  In voiceover, Jenna reads her final English paper about who she wants to be, which is really about wanting to be like all of the people in her life — her family, her friends, and her guidance counselor, Val (don’t ask).  She ends the paper by noting that she wants to be someone who doesn’t need a boy to be happy, because she can dance all on her own (Robyn shout out!).  And then she dances all on her own to this great song by Passion Pit.  A fantastic scene that ended a fantastic season of television.

–Everything on Grey’s Anatomy.  Another show that uses music to great effect.  I couldn’t pick just one moment.  I didn’t want to pick the “Chasing Cars” Izzy scene, even though it’s the most iconic.  I almost picked the scene where Burke leaves Cristina at the altar, set to a truly wonderful Ingrid Michaelson song, “Keep Breathing.”  (I love the Sex and the City shout out in that scene when Meredith has to cut the dress off Cristina.)  This whole last season of Grey’s was fantastic at using slow, acoustic covers of 90s songs to great effect.  There’s just a lot of musical goodness on Grey’s and I couldn’t pick just one moment.

Welp, readers, that’s it for me.  What did I miss?

‘Til next time!

Xoxo,

Christine.

Christine’s Songs of the Summer: May 29 Edition

Ah, summer.  It is finally, unofficially upon us.  For anyone who lived in the Northeast of the United States during this past year (or, really, anywhere that wasn’t California or Florida), summer couldn’t have come fast enough.  It was an atrociously awful winter, probably the worst one I can ever remember.  Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of summer to be honest.  I don’t like being hot and New York gets pretty disgusting in the heat and humidity.  But this year, I’m all about it.  I had enough of the freezing and the snow and I’m ready to get a tan.  I have plans to go to my shore house (NJ represent!) as often as humanely possible (already went this past weekend) and I have lots of fun concerts and events lined up.

But you know what else summer means?  It means it’s time for everyone’s favorite game: trying to predict the Song of the Summer!  Songs of the Summer are all characterized by one thing: they make you want to be outside, drinking an ice cold beer, and dancing your ass off.  They come in all different genres and sounds, but they are all danceable.  Last year’s Song of the Summer was probably “Blurred Lines,” though, as a hater of that song, I vote for “Get Lucky.”  In 2012, there was no question: it was the great Carly Rae Jepsen smash, “Call Me Maybe.”  One Song of the Summer that really sticks out for me is Beyonce’s 2003 hit “Crazy In Love.”  It had the Jay-Z rap, the big horn section, the “uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh oh no no” part … really, all of the qualities you want in a Song of the Summer.

So where are we with this year’s nominees?  Naturally, because this is my blog and I can ignore things I don’t like if I want to, I’m only going to talk about my personal Song of the Summer candidates.  Some of these are probably also ones you’ll see listed on mainstream websites, like Vulture (which does a great job tracking the Song of the Summer).  I’ll try to keep track of this as the summer rolls along, but for now, here are the candidates!

“Problem” – Ariana Grande ft. Iggy Azalea

This one is definitely likely to be up there at the end of the summer.  My sister, possibly the biggest Ariana Grande fan out there, is extremely pleased that I’m so into this jam.  And really, that’s what it is — a total jam.  It reminds me of “Ain’t No Other Man” era Christina Aguilera (the big band, horns feel) + a little old 2000s business with the whispered chorus.  (Who did that Whisper Song, anyway?  The Ying Yang Twins maybe?)  Ariana has a great voice (I, like many people, thought she was Mariah Carey the first time I heard her singing) and she really nails the rising part (“I should be wiser and realize that I’ve got!”) before you get to the whispering (“One less problem without ya, I got one less problem without ya”).  I’m not really enamored of the Iggy Azalea rap, but I think the rest of the song is good enough to get through that part.  This is a full-on, bubblegum, summer pop jam.  Get involved.

“Fancy” – Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX

This one took me much longer to get into.  As mentioned above, I’m not too sure about Iggy.  Two things finally pushed me over the edge with this song: (1) the Clueless homage video and (2) the Charli XCX chorus.  Every 90s gal grew up loving Clueless, so doing a straight-up tribute to the film (complete with identical outfits and the scene where Dionne almost kills them driving on the highway) is a good way to convince me to like your song.  Nice move, Iggy.  Also, Charli XCX is great at contributing to songs that become mega smashes (see, e.g., “I Love It” by Icona Pop).  She’s by far the best thing about “Fancy,” and she needs her own jam so she doesn’t have to share the spotlight.  This song apparently just hit #1 on the Billboard charts though, so I’m slightly concerned that it’s peaking too early.  Stay tuned.

“Do It Again” – Robyn & Royksopp

Have I already talked about how much I love Robyn?  Because I love her.  She’s my spirit animal.  This girl in my class, Lauren gave me the CD “Robyn is Here” for my birthday in 6th grade, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  My friend Kelly and I used to have weeknight dance parties to “Dancing On My Own” which involved a lot of throwing ourselves on the floor dancing leading to major bruises the next day (don’t ask).  The GIRLS scene featuring “Dancing On My Own” is one of my favorite television scenes ever.  Yeah, I just love her.  Anyway, even though it’s not a proper Robyn solo record, I am super pumped about her mini-album with Royksopp.  The whole thing is good, but this is clearly the standout jam.  Robyn has an incredibly emotionally evocative voice, so I find it super easy to feel what she is feeling.  In this one, for me, the “hurts so good” line is a particular standout. This is probably too strange to be the actual Song of the Summer, but for people like me, it’s perfect.

“Jealous (I Ain’t With It)” – Chromeo

This is the current leader in the clubhouse for Christine’s favorite song of summer 2014.  It is a complete pop dance party JAM.  And it’s so silly!  Chromeo is generally pretty silly, but this song just epitomizes it.  I mean, he gets jealous, but he’s too cool to admit it?  You want to be like, no, dude, you’re not cool, you’re a dork!  But I totally love you!  I dare you to put this song on and not stand up and dance.  (Even if you’re at your desk at your office.  It’s fine.  Who cares if the mail guy walks in while you’re grooving?)  This song will be on every playlist I make until at least the end of the summer.  Get involved immediately if not sooner.

Not Listed: “Turn Down for What” – DJ Snake & Lil’ Jon (I just … I just don’t get this song.  Maybe I’m getting old.).  “Summer” – Calvin Harris (I would never have heard this song because I don’t listen to the radio, but I saw it on VH1′s video countdown last weekend.  You guys … this song stinks.  Why do people like it?)  “Birthday” – Katy Perry (I really, really like this song.  In spite of the truly idiotic pun about the “big balloons,” it sounds like a 7th grade birthday party at the roller rink.  It may well end up being a Song of the Summer candidate for me.  Stay tuned.)

I’m still waiting for a pop jam to just come out of nowhere and blow me away this summer (there’s plenty of time left for you to drop something if you’re so inclined, Rihanna, just sayin’), but for now, that’s my list!

‘Til next time friends (just remember — only 12 days until Pretty Little Liars returns!!).

Xo,

Christine

 

Christine Says Farewell to Cristina

I started watching Grey’s Anatomy right after the second season ended.  I was studying abroad in Ireland during season 2, and I kept hearing everyone talk about this amazing new show on ABC.  So, naturally, as soon as I got home, I immediately plowed through seasons 1 and 2.  I’ve been hooked ever since.  I never stopped watching Grey’s.  I watched it through Meredith’s almost drowning, through the Izzie/Denny ghost sex horror show, even through the ridiculous plane crash and the death of one of my favorite characters, Lexie Grey (RIP).  It’s sort of unclear why I never quit this show because, let’s face it, there were times when it was really bad.  For one thing, I rarely quit TV programs (I never stopped watching Dawson’s Creek, for example, and that was pretty much unwatchable toward the end).  Additionally, the general medical premise of Grey’s has always been interesting to me and remains interesting to this day.  I love doctor shows (and hate lawyer shows, which feels right given my profession).  And I love relationship-y shows (even in spite of my weirdness about relationships IRL).  So really, Grey’s is a perfect mix for me.

I’ve had a lot of favorite characters through these ten (10!) seasons, but Cristina Yang has never really been one of them.  And that’s kind of weird.  I’ve always enjoyed Cristina, but for some odd reason, she was never my favorite.  (Maybe it’s because of my deep and longstanding love for Sandra Oh as Vice Principal Gupta in The Princess Diaries.)  Anyway, now that she’s about to leave, I’m appreciating her even more.  Cristina is just an incredibly unique female television character.  Not female human, mind you, because, undoubtedly, there are women like Cristina in the real world everywhere.  But it is so rare to see someone like her on television.  Someone so driven, so career focused, so smart, so loyal, and SO messed up.  Cristina Yang is an amazingly complex human and her relationship with her “person,” Meredith Grey, is one of the most complicated, deep, emotional relationships ever portrayed on television.  As I discussed with my good friend Emily earlier today, the relationship between Meredith and Cristina is one of the main reasons both characters have remained interesting for ten seasons.  It’s been a real joy to watch a female friendship that reflects, at least in some way, the relationships that happen between real life adult women.

In short, I’ll miss Cristina Yang a whole lot.  Tonight, we say goodbye to the incomparable Dr. Yang, and I thought I’d live blog it along with the Grey’s finale.  Disclaimer: like any good Shonda Rhimes disciple, I’m here with my wine and some tissues and I’m going to be ready to dance it out when this is all over.  So let’s do this, Seattle Grace/Grey Sloan Memorial.

9:00 pm: Cristina’s doing the voiceover tonight.  That feels right.  Per the end of last weeks episode, she’s slept with Owen and is waking up in his trailer.  I don’t like Cristina and Owen.  I probably should have mentioned this.  But yeah, I really dislike them together.  Oh but good news — she went out drinking with Meredith until 2 am last night.  That feels right.  Voiceover Cristina says something about having a friend who got hit by a bus — George reference!

9:01: Wow, Meredith and Derek are really moving to DC….…. yeah, no they’re not.

9:02: Meredith and Derek are keeping their seats on the hospital board, but Cristina is leaving and has to be replaced.  Bailey is the right fit, obviously, but whatever.  Jackson, the grinch, is shutting down Bailey’s work.  He’s hot, but he’s pretty much the worst.  You don’t tell Miranda Bailey what to do.  You just don’t.  Ten seasons have taught me that.

9:03: The interns are calling Derek’s sister Shepherd-ess.  I like that.  It’s no Mc something, but it’s still good.

9:04: Kepner tells Owen that she’s pregnant.  Blah, who cares, not me.  Now they’re seeing a TV news report of an explosion at Mall of the Woods.  And Cristina said she was going to the mall.  Oh dear God.  Owen and Kepner don’t think of that, they just start yelling at everyone to spring into action.  The implication — this might be a terrorist act.  And oh wow, there’s a collage of Cristina photos over the “Created by Shonda Rhimes” screen.  This is going to be emotional.

9:09: Am I going to watch The Bachelorette this year?  I watched it for the first time last season and I really liked it, but I think that might just have been a function of the fact that I adore Desiree and I think she and Chris are absolutely adorable.  I might hate it otherwise.  Stay tuned.

9:10: Owen is running a press conference at the hospital.  It’s clear that he’s realizing that Cristina might have been at the mall.  Anyway, there are lots of people in hazmat suits and a Homeland Security guy is there … this all seems serious.  These are the kind of things that Grey’s excels at doing–major catastrophes.  Anyway, Owen calls Cristina and it goes right to voicemail.  She can’t die.  That would be epically cruel.  Owen tells Alex that Cristina might have been there, and they both agree not to tell Meredith.

9:11: Jackson, Callie, and Jackson’s ex-girlfriend intern (Stephanie?) are dealing with someone who is pregnant as a surrogate.  This seems like it will be sad.  Also, Derek and Shepherdess are having some tension.  Saw that coming.

9:12: Avery’s mother is there and is pitching in and has an awkward run-in with the Chief.  She’s the worst.

9:12: Homeland Security guy is aggressively interrogating a young man of color.  Something about a backpack.  Very Boston Marathon-y.  While Meredith is arguing with Homeland Security dude, the young man collapses.  Homeland Security calls Meredith ma’am.  Her response:  “It’s doctor. You’re the boss out there, I’m the boss in here.  Move!”  BADASS.

9:13: Cristina shows up to help Alex work on a kid.  Thank God she’s ok.  That would have been ridiculous.

9:15: Oh snap!  Orange Is The New Black commercial!!!  SO EXCITING, CAN’T WAIT!!

9:17: Oh wow, Mark Sloan is on this Last Ship program on TNT?  I mean, I’m still not going to watch it, but I really have missed Mark Sloan.

9:18: Back to Grey’s.  They’re suggesting on the news that the terrorist plot is to injure a bunch of people and then target the hospital.  Oh God.  The other intern, the one who got fired last week, shows up to help.  Kepner tells her to get involved.

9:19: Jackson, Callie, and apparently her name is Edwards (but Stephanie, right?), are in surgery with the surrogate.  Her water breaks and the baby is in distress.  Oy.  Also, Meredith tells Cristina that she’s moving to DC.  Cristina puts her arm around her and Meredith looks very uncomfortable about the whole thing.  That feels right.

9:20: There is a man with a disgusting protruding eyeball.  I cannot look, this is too gross.  And now there’s blood dripping down his eye after fired intern (Murphy?) fixes it while Smash Williams looks on.  Ew, that was foul.

9:21: Owen sees on the TV that there are skin rashes, possibly, the reporter suggests, from radiation.  So then Owen runs outside, interrupts the TV guy and yells at him on live television to stop speculating and freaking everyone out.  That was awesome.  Nice job there, Owen.

9:25: Commercial for Mistresses, a program watched by Friends of Christine, Katie and Regina.  Who knew it was coming back?  (Not me.)

9:25: Arizona Robbins is here to save the surrogate’s baby!  Cristina Yang is here to save the kid with Alex Karev!  While she does that, she explains to Alex why he shouldn’t have gone into private practice.  She tells him that she thought he was an imbecile at first, then she thought he was competent, and now she’s thinks he’s very, very good (never as good as she is though, naturally).  This whole speech is fantastic and so Cristina Yang.  Anyway, then the new Chief of Cardio comes in and tries to tell Cristina what to do and that doesn’t go over at all.  Which is, of course, fantastic.

9:28: Arizona delivers the surrogate’s baby because she’s awesome.  Callie looks on, sadly, because she can’t have a baby anymore, and Jackson is totes emotional because Kepner is pregnant.  Also, Homeland Security tries to take Meredith’s patient right after he leaves surgery.  Then he gets a call, finds out that the dude isn’t a subject, and strides away like nothing happened.  Stupid feds.

9:29: TV reporter now says that the explosion was caused by a gas main explosion.  It’s not a terrorist thing.  Excellent.  Then the mom with the kids with all the bad hearts shows up because Cristina is going to do her son’s transplant, even though she’s supposed to leave for Zurich at any moment.  Also, Kepner and Murphy (confirmed, that’s her name) think they found some patient’s kid, but as it turns out, it’s not the right kid.  Ouch, that’s sad.

9:30: Halfway through the episode thoughts: I love a good trauma on Grey’s, but this is my last hour with Cristina Yang.  I need more!  I need Cristina and Meredith all over the place.  That scene with Cristina and Alex was great and fitting and perfect, but I need more of that.  I need all of that.  Seriously?  Seriously.  (Old school Grey’s reference!)

9:34: Avery’s mom runs into April in the supply closet.  April is crying, because, naturally.  She doesn’t want to raise a child in this world.  Avery’s mom gives her a talking-to about how she and her father faced down terrible racist bastards back in the day and how there will always be stupid people and accidents and that you can’t be defeated by fear.  It’s kind of great.  Shonda is the best at these kind of speeches.  Shonda for Prez, yo.  (As long as that Prez is in no way like Fitzgerald Grant III because he is legitimately the worst.)

9:36: Meredith tries to stop Cristina from stalling on her move.  Cristina’s crying now.  “You and I are not finished.  George is dead and Izzie is gone and it’s supposed to be you and me and Alex.”  And now Christine is crying too.  Cristina doesn’t feel finished because she’s not finished, as Meredith says.  She isn’t finished, but she has to go anyway.  They’re both crying.  God damn.  The donor heart is delayed, so Meredith tells Cristina that it’s just time to go.  Continuing in the tradition of ’80s covers recently on Grey’s, we’re hearing a weird piano version of “Take On Me” as Meredith says goodbye to and hugs Derek.  Damn.  Don’t leave me, Dr. Yang.

9:39: Yeah, I don’t care about this scene between Murphy and Smash Williams now.  I just want Cristina and Meredith and Alex and the originals.

9:40: Bailey argues with the Chief about her lab getting cut.  The Chief didn’t fight for Bailey’s research because she’s a surgeon, not a researcher.  And, as I thought, the Chief is recommending Bailey for the board.  Meanwhile, Cristina says goodbye to Bailey and the Chief and Smash (UGH GO AWAY, SMASH, PLEASE).  Omg she tells Smash that he can come with her to Switzerland.  Good news about this?  He’s gone from the show.  Thank God. Anyway, Cristina hugs Bailey and says thank you and it’s awkward and uncomfortable and just perfect for these two characters.  Then the Chief hugs her and is proud of her and I remain emotional.

9:42: Cristina bangs on the surgery gallery window and waves goodbye to Owen while he’s operating.  Whatever.  The real goodbye is Cristina and Meredith, not this.  As Yang and Meredith are about to leave, the transplant heart gets out of the cab.  Meredith shoves Cristina in the cab and tells her to leave.  Meredith: “What do you need?  An I love you or something?  ::Pause:: I love you.”  Oh come on, Meredith!  That can’t have been it.  No.  Don’t drive away, taxi!  Come back!

9:47: Meredith is talking to the Shepherdess on the iconic Grey’s walkway, bridge thingy.  And then suddenly, Cristina shows up and drags Meredith away!  Hurrah!  Cristina: “We have to finish.  We have to dance it out.  That’s how we finish.”  Meredith takes out her phone to find a song.  (And Christine takes a short break while FoC, Jackie stopped by.)  Cristina has commandments before dancing: Don’t let Owen get all dark and twisty.  Mock Alex at least once a day.  Don’t get in tiny planes or stick your hand in a body with a bomb or offer your life to a gunman.  All amazing advice.  Cristina: “You’re my person, I need you alive, you make me brave.”  Christine: Crying.  And now it’s time.  Dance it out, ladies.  Oh snap, is’s Tegan and Sara!  One last Cristina and Meredith dance party to Tegan and Sara!  God damn, this is appropriate.  Thanks, Shonda.  This makes me so happy.

9:53: A parting thought from Dr. Cristina Yang: “Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need.  He is very dreamy, but he is not the sun.  You are.”  And now I am full on crying.  Damn.  God bless you, Cristina Yang.  Accordingly, Meredith tells Derek that she needs to stay in Seattle.

9:54: Oh yay, the parents of the new baby are here and the surrogate and the baby are ok!  That is so sweet.  Now Arizona is crying and talking to Callie about the surrogate … ah, here we go.  Yes.  Surrogacy for Calzona.  I love these two.  So much.

9:56: New Chief of Cardio did the Yang surgery and it went well.  And Owen is now emo thinking about Cristina. Bailey’s husband is giving her a foot massage and they’re pumped about her place on the board.  Bailey’s the jam, so this is well deserved.  The weird ’80s cover playing during this scene?  99 Red Balloons.  Naturally.

9:57: Alex and his girlfriend find something on his bed — Yang left her shares in the hospital and her seat on the board to Alex.  Oh dear.  This is an issue vis-a-vis Bailey and the Chief.  I love both Bailey and Karev, so this could be a problem.

9:58: Major argument with Derek and Meredith.  I get his point, but I really, really, REALLY get her point.  She’s right.  This is like her father and her mother all over again.  He calls her selfish, which strikes me as really wrong and sort of horrible.  Meredith: “You will always be that hotshot surgeon and I will always be that young intern who fell in love with you.”  Damn.  As Mer points out, that’s not how she sees herself, but that is how he sees her.  She is totally right.  Totally #TeamMeredith.

9:59: I really recognize this new Chief of Cardio from something.  Gonna have to think about this.  Anyway, she’s telling the Chief she was adopted … oh God … Ellis and Richard … yup.  Holy crap.  She’s Meredith’s sister and Richard’s kid with Ellis.  Jesus.  Richard def didn’t know about this.  Well, Meredith, Lexie Grey 2.0 is here!

10:01: I approve of this line you’ve drawn, Meredith, just in case you were wondering.  And Cristina Yang, I see you in Zurich, and I love it.  You’re gonna kill it because you are amazing.  Thanks for ten great years.  I’ll miss you.

Thanks, Shonda.  Thanks for giving us a female character as strong and interesting and amazing and brave as Dr. Cristina Yang.  Love you, and her, so much.  See you in the fall, Seattle Grace/Grey Sloan.

Xoxo,

Christine

On the Sexism of Football Scholars and Sports Critics

cfonyj23:

Hi friends,
Sorry for the lack of posts recently! The real world (aka that work thing) is taking its toll on me at the moment. In the meantime, please read this incredibly important piece by Jennifer Doyle about sexism, soccer, and sport.
I’ll be back soon with more pop culture tidbits!
‘Til then.
Xoxo,
Christine

Originally posted on The Sport Spectacle:

“People want excellence in sports, and the quality of women’s soccer is not there.”

“Nobody wants to watch women’s sports.”

“The top women can’t take on the top men.”

These three things were said by attendees at a recent congress of leading scholars and journalists working on soccer.

The organizers of Soccer as the Beautiful Game deserve a lot of credit for bringing scholars and sports writers together. What follows is not a criticism of that conference, or of its organizers - quite the opposite. At this moment, it is not possible to organize a conference at which the above statements would not be made, unless one either excluded women and women’s football from all discussion, or invited only feminists to the table. The conference’s organizers worked to make sure that feminist scholars like myself were in the room because they are committed to changing the field.

As long as people writing about the men’s game write only about men, they can maintain…

View original 2,481 more words