Oh Lord, I Am Not Churning Out Content Like I Used To

Dear Very Special Readers,

You probably (may have) noticed that I don’t post quite as much as I used to. It’s not that I don’t love you it’s just that:

  1. I don’t know if you noticed, but people don’t make very special episodes anymore and I blew threw a lot of them real fast, right out of the gate.
  2. People don’t blog as much anymore and there just aren’t as many fun conversations in the comments!
  3. I’m working on a novel. (I know I’m a cliche. Maybe I won’t even finish it. BUT NO I HAVE TO FINISH IT FOR MY OWN PRIDE! Ugh, I don’t want to talk about it, leave me alone!!)
  4. Some combination of all of the above.

Let me bring you a bit of origin story: I started this blog many years after discovering Kim Hutt’s now defunct What Claudia Wore. (Seriously, check out her archives. It’s good stuff). This was the first blog I read with a tone that I would describe as “celebratory snark.” That’s the vibe I always tried to cultivate over here, and I hope that I was successful. (Gonna pat myself on the back and say that the stats on my old posts tell me that I was.)

Now that I have successfully buried the lead, let me tell you why I’ve gathered you all here today: I may not be posting as much as I used to, but I would like you to meet a couple of blogs that are.

Please meet, Baby-Sitters Club: The Very Last Super Special. Recent highlights include #389: Kristy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Back and #388: Mary Anne and the FODMAPs. Relatable, ugh.

I would also like to introduce you to The Golden Girls Fashion Corner, which I have to read very sparingly because I almost spent money because of her review of a very cute magnet set that I most definitely do not need. But there are also really thoughtful posts like this one on the “72 Hours” episode and its cultural relevance to the AIDS crisis.

Okay, that’s all for now! See ya around the internet!

The VSB

 

 

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Sadly, All in the Family is Still 100% Relevant in 2019

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First of all, I didn’t really know anything about this other than that Marisa Tomei was involved and I was totally and completely on-board. Secondly, I started thinking about how Archie Bunker’s Nixon-era logic fallacy-driven paradigm of bigotry and misogyny (okay that’s it for the one’s that end in y so go ahead and insert all of the ones that end in “ism”) is sadly relevant to our current political climate.

Even in the 1990’s with all of it’s poorly aging depictions of gender (ahem I’m looking at you, many of the jokes from Friends), I could at least look at All in the Family and feel like “my we have come so far” but nowadays I feel like I may just meet Archie Bunker anywhere I go except he’d be wearing a MAGA hat and scrolling through Fox News on his iPhone News app and then sharing some weird shit on Facebook and then probably getting into a fight with Mike Stivic in the comments section — okay, have I taken this run-on sentence far enough?

None of this will come as a surprise to anyone. Norman Lear even said it in his intro. So here’s my bullet point thoughts on this one-off reboot:

  • Woody Harrelson is a wonderful actor, but he’s no Carroll O’Connor. There were also moments where I felt like his accent was more Boston than Queens–too much time behind the bar at Cheers?
  • Ike Barinholtz KILLED it as Michael Stivic.
  • I love Ellie Kemper and I think she’s a great comedian, but something about her line delivery/timing as Gloria felt off. Maybe she isn’t used to live shows? It seemed a little like she didn’t know how long to wait for the laughs and wasn’t sure what to do when she was in the background of a wide shot. Her accent was also problematic as it oscillated between bad and nonexistent.
  • I loved the interplay between Marisa Tomei as Edith and Wanda Sykes as Louise. I forgot how the women were more progressive than their husbands. It’s been a little while since I’ve seen either of these shows!
  • Marisa Tomei really captured Edith’s sweet spirit.
  • Ike Barinholtz and Woody Harreslon had such good chemistry that I kinda got over my Carroll O’Connor issue from earlier.
  • I don’t remember the original Henry Jefferson — apparently he was only in twelve episodes — but I really love Anthony Anderson and I feel like he was very well cast in this role.
  • Lionel Jefferson was one of my favorites in the original cast. He was so easy-going but also so quick-witted. He could out-argue Archie with a joke. I’m sure that wouldn’t be fun to have to do in real life, but it was always fun to watch. Anyway, I’ve never seen Jovan Adepo in anything before. But he did such a good job as Lionel that I have a crush on him now.
  • I also had a hard time with Jamie Foxx as George Jefferson because, like Carroll O’Connor with Archie, Sherman Hemsley is SO iconically George Jefferson. I also felt like Jamie hammed it up so much that was kind of distracting. If I was watching a Sherman Hemsley George Jefferson impression I would say this nailed it, but I didn’t want to watch an impression. I do have to give Woody Harrelson props for staying out of impression territory with Archie. (Or maybe it’s just that his impression was so bad it didn’t feel like an impression?) However, once Jamie Foxx messed up his line in the flub heard round the world, he seemed to drop a lot of this impression schtick, and I think his portrayal of George was all the better for it.
  • Did not know Jennifer Hudson was going to sing the theme song from The Jeffersons! This was a lovely surprise!
  • Will Ferrell and Kerry Washington were great, but I just never really liked the Willises and I still don’t.
  • Heheh the old bait and switch with Marla Gibbs in the role she originated as Florence instead of Justina Machado was wonderful. Also have fun would it have been to have been Justina Machado and have been in on the con???
  • Also, major shoutout to Stephen Toblowsky and Sean Hayes who each did a fabulous job.  Although I couldn’t stand the character Sean Hayes had to play, I seriously didn’t recognize him. He did a great job.
  • If I had to pick an MVP from each family it would be Ike Barinholtz and Wanda Sykes. Like I could straight up watch them in a full order of episodes for both All in the Family and The Jeffersons. (But can I also add Jackée Harry on as a bonus MVP since she was technically a guest star?)

It makes me sad that we needed a little 1970s refresh to hopefully sort our shit out, but I really hope this got people talking. It’s definitely still relevant and I hope one day we’ll really have moved past it. I truly believe the only way to do this is through meaningful intimate conversations with friends and family, which is what was so great about these shows in the first place. They modeled how to do that and we need them now more thane ver.

 

 

I See You Aunt Becky, You Ain’t Low

Oh I have many, many thoughts on the college admissions scandal. I could literally write 72 blog posts on this (but I’ll spare you). I think one of the ickiest vibes I have from all of this (aside from the blatant cheating and the continued marginalization of underprivileged teens and first-generation college students) is that all these chill, work-hard, down to earth celebs are LIARS who are just gonna came the system like every other stereotypical entitled rich white lady — ahem — I’m looking at you Aunt Becky.

But let me just real quick sum up my thoughts with a side by side comparison of two episodes of Full House that I’m sure you’ve already heard a lot about this past week. Like wtf how many of us get to literally role-play potential crimes and then are like “yeah sign me up for the cheating and the fraud, please.” Psychologists of the world, let me read your case studies.

Okay, bear with me as I now undertake the HERCULEAN task of reviewing two Full House episodes SIMULTANEOUSLY. (Lord, I don’t even know if I can handle it. Will I go into a diabetic coma from all of the saccharine schmaltz. Pray for me, Very Special Readers. Pray.) They are: “Be True to Your Pre-School” and “The Test.” I will not have time or patience for B-plots!

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First of all. I think this a wig. I no longer trust this woman to have real hair. Thoughts?

During a play date, Rebecca and Jesse realize that they’re behind on the preschool game. They haven’t been researching preschools, so they other parents tell them that there is a big risk their kids won’t be “on the fast track for life.” Okay, are we noticing some similarities to REAL LIFE yet, people??

The questions on the application are very difficult for two year-olds and include things like, “Evaluate the scope of your child’s verbal skills.” Joey recommends that Jesse lie on the application. (I hate Joey but I do feel that this is a little out of character). Basically, Jesse feels that he’s only helping his children out because if his parents had sent him to a good preschool then he probably wouldn’t be in night school trying to earn a high school diploma.

With Jesse’s lies, the boys make it to the next stage of admissions: THE INTERVIEW (cue ominous music). As they walk into the interview, he confesses to Becky that he embellished on the application “little bit,” which included claiming to be an ambassador.

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Evidently, this is how Jesse thinks an ambassador dresses.

Although, Becky goes along with the shenanigans at first. She comes clean pretty quickly in the interview and admits that her husband lied. The admissions person tells her that they figured that out when they read the portion of the applicant that referred to the boys as “proficient on the bassoon.” However they don’t care because: “it only shows you want whats best for your boys.” UGHHHH WTF I DISAGREE WITH THE PREMISE.

Anyway, Becky is yet again the voice of reason when she tells Jess (who is rigorously trying to cram some knowledge down the boys’ throats) that they’re not letting their kids “be kids” and he’s asking too much of them. Almost like you should let your children be guided by their natural abilities…hm…

“When they’re ready to go to preschool, we’ll find the right one and do everything we can to encourage,” she says. I guess this doesn’t apply to ASU. That must be an exception.

Now, let’s move on to “The Test.” In the opening of this episode Joey calls out Jesse for trying to reuse a stamp a.k.a. “trying to cheat the U.S. postal service.” WHAT ARE YOUR MORALS JOEY? Anyway, DJ is stressing because she has to take the SAT and she MUST do well so that she can go to Stanford.

When DJ says she is too stressed out to eat dinner, Danny coaches the family to tell DJ the whole SAT isn’t a huge deal and to not be so stressed. This doesn’t work and she has a stress dream in which Uncle Jesse steals an SAT answer booklet off of the proctor’s desk and proceeds to read the answers to her through a walkie-talkie hidden in a breakfast burrito.

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Joey overhears this and is very upset about the cheating. Once again, I would like to know what happened in Joey’s life between season six and season seven that caused him to go from cheating-instigator to cheating-police.

The next morning, DJ is so upset from her dream that she asks her dad, “Can you write me a note to get me out of college?” And her dad’s like no and apologizes for minimizing her stress, which actually only made her more stressed. And then he’s like just do your best cause he’s a normal dad and believes in his daughter.

I do believe I’m getting older though because this was the first time I watched an episode of Full House and realized that Bob Saget was kind of a DILF. So now I have to live with that knowledge.

I would also like to take this opportunity to say that standardized testing is some bullshit, patriarchal tool of the oligarchy and plenty of smart people are setup to fail on it. GOODBYE.

Regarding: “One Day at a Time”

Hello, hi. It’s me again! I know it’s been a while. In fact, I haven’t even been watching that much television lately because I’ve been busy devouring Bad Blood (the book about Theranos) and listening to “The Drop Out” (the podcast about Theranos). Should my next blog be about grifters?

Anywa, I’m here today to appeal to you about “One Day at a Time,” a.k.a. the only good reboot of the recent reboot trend (and I will die on this hill!) I reviewed the first episode of the first season way back when it was first released.

But I’m bringing it up again now because the show has just returned for its third season and word on the street is that renewal is not exactly a lock. And that would be so, so terrible.

This is the best possible reincarnation of the classic sitcom I like to write about on this blog. The new One Day at a Time is tackling “very special” issues in a way that is neither silly nor trite. In fact, I can hardly write about it because it is a vast improvement on the old school shows I grew up with. But I’m writing today to make a simple plea that you give it a watch. It’s the kind of show I would want to watch with my kids, if I had them, and that I would have loved to have the opportunity to watch when I was growing up.

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A Very Special Shopping List for Your Holiday Season

Happy Cyber Monday! Have you already been shopping all weekend? Do you already have a robust list for all of your loved ones holiday gift needs? Are you wondering what niche gifts you can purchase for the pop culture fan in your life? Why check out Oprah’s Favorite Things when you can check out this fully curated list of random things that I think are cool for the holiday season?

To wear:

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Duckie and Andie pins, $16, Mondo

To read:

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Pop Culture Trash, $24.99, ModCloth

 

To write:

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HiFi Greeting Cards, $12.95, Chronicle Books

To decorate:

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Stranger Things Funko Pop Ornament, $4.95, Barnes & Noble

Halloween 2018: Phoning it in

Full disclosure: I’ve covered MANY a Halloween episode on this blog (head on over to the side of the page there and you can check them all out on “A Very Special Halloween.”) And this year I didn’t really have it in me to do a full week of episodes again.

Instead, I watched The Haunting of Hill House, which was AMAZING and this is coming from ME the person who had a traumatic reaction to Scream.

But tonight, I decided to get reflective and was like…huh…so what were my favorite episodes from every single Halloweek on The Very Special Blog?

In short, I’ve loved every single Halloween episode of Boy Meets World, especially the one with a Sabrina bonus. It’s not a show I can usually write about on The VSB (frankly because it’s too good and doesn’t have very special episodes), but this episode of That 70’s Show is one of the greatest Halloween episodes of all time.

The Halloween episode of Happy Days is so aesthetically pleasing that it gets an honorable mention, but I don’t really recommend it overall because it’s a bit boring. Watch it for the set decoration and costume pieces alone.

And finally, nothing could ever hold a candle to one of the weirdest pieces of television I’ve ever seen: The Miami Vice episode with the aspiring-mime, amateur artist, raw-meat loving, cover your face in flour, cat burglar. This episode is a GIFT, people.

God bless the person who made this higlights video:

The BSC: The Baby-Sitters Remember

This post was originally posted in September of 2014.
Once upon a time in the ‘90’s, there was this little gem of a show based on Ann M. Martin’s classic book series about a group of middle school girls who spend their free time in a club devoted to babysitting. This show must have been filmed at Astoria Studios because even Dawn, who is supposed to be from California, sounds like she’s from the tri-state region. If you were a girl child of the ’90’s you could not escape this book series. There was bossy Kristy, artsy Claudia, fashionista Stacey, California Casual Dawn, good-girl Mary Anne, ballerina Jesse, and Mallory who had red hair, wore glasses, and other than that had no defining features. I hated this episode as a kid because I thought it was a flashback episode full of clips from episodes I had never seen. As it turns out, it’s a clip show full of new material. I guess these were ideas Ann M. Martin had but never felt like turning into a full length book, and the TV show decided that these random clips would make the best series finale, which just goes to show you that not all very special episodes are about terrible topics. It’s the last day of school and the BSC is having a slumber party. Jessie is nervous about going to dance camp, Kristy is excited about going to softball camp, and Mary-Anne is totally bummed that she see won’t see her friends every day for two months. All of these thoughts about their impending separation lead the girls to reminisce about how they first began the club.

Is this jersey from a 1970's athletics store?
Is this jersey from a 1970’s athletics store?

Cue Memory #1 in which Kristy is wearing this bizarre jersey that says Sport Shack in some seriously old school lettering. She gets in trouble for cheering when the last bell rings, and some hard-ass teacher makes her write one hundred words about the importance of decorum. Meanwhile, Kristy’s mom is stressing because she can never find a sitter. Most thirteen year-olds would totally ignore this because it’s not really their problem, but like two and a half seconds after talking to her mom, Kristy’s eyes get wild and she casts aside her homework to plot out her magnum opus: The Baby-Stitters Club. She tells everyone how she didn’t think she would survive her first job, in which the mom meets here at the front door and describes how she must keep her rambunctious three year-old twins locked in the laundry room until it’s time to “go out.” Kristy can’t resist the promise of some cold hard cash, so she doesn’t run screaming from this house of apparent child abuse. Luckily, the twins turn out to be two dogs instead of toddlers.

Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.
Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.

Memory#2: The girls head downstairs for snacks and Claudia finds her dead grandmother’s teacup, so the girls reminisce about that relationship for while. Kristy does a really offensive fake Japanese accent which all of the girls find funny except for Claudia who is too lost in her thoughts to call Kristy out for being such an insensitive loser. Truly, the best part of all of this is that the very next scene is a flashback with Mimi (Claudia’s grandmother) and she has no accent whatsoever. This is a truly rare very special episode because it doesn’t involve any drugs or pregnancy and includes a racist joke. Also, in this scene Mallory ends up being the only baby-sitter with lucky steam rising from her tea. They had to throw her a bone because Mallory never has anything else going for her. Memory #3: The baby-sitters share a creepy memory about “staging a ceremony” before Kristy’s mom’s wedding. This ceremony turns out to be a full on mock wedding between two of Kristy’s younger siblings, which has clearly been orchestrated by the baby-sitters club. They make everyone attend and the they make the two young siblings exchange wedding vows. Luckily, the little boy runs away when they tell him to kiss the bride,so no almost-incest was committed.

Creepy Fake Wedding
Creepy Fake Wedding

Finally, all of the baby-sitters get sleepy after a night of reminiscing and fall asleep at midnight in what must be the tamest slumber party ever imagined. Note: I didn’t include all of them memories. Some of them were really boring.

Very Special Lesson: You don’t always have to have a very special lesson to have a very special episode. Or maybe friendship…friendship was the lesson.

P.S. This set came from Ikea before everyone shopped there:

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