Tag Archives: the A.V. Club

Shame Day: DC Comics

shamedcThe fact that I got home and remembered the title of this post, but not what exactly DC got wrong is not a good sign. Sorry, let me rephrase that. It was difficult for me to remember which PR catastrophe DC pulled off to warrant me finally dedicating a Shame Day to them.

Today [I am writing this on Monday night] is a dark day in comic book news because one of my all time favourite sites, ComicsAlliance, is no more. That doesn’t have anything to do with this post, but I needed to take the time to mention those writers and the years they dedicate to that site. It was nominated for an Eisner; come on, AOL.

That horrific news was followed up by the announcement by fellow comic book site The Outhouse that they had been blacklisted by DC. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S2E18 “And Not-So-Sweet Charity”: A TV Review

This is late because I work now, so sorry about that.

I feel like I have more to write about than usual this week [unfortunate, since I’m a little late to this review due to my having a job now], so let’s get right into it. To summarize this episode in a sentence, Max and Caroline have not been paying their rent and are being forced to sell their property to a real estate corporation; not wanting to do so the two go to Caroline’s makeup mogul Aunt Charity to ask for some . . . financial help.

The first topic I wanted to delve into a little bit was the show’s humour, not in how it chooses the easy route on almost every joke but how it seeks to push the bar in its content. For example: a semen joke eight seconds into the episode. Co-creator and executive producer Michael Patrick King said that he “[considers] our jokes really classy dirty [ . . . ] they’re high lowbrow.” While the show has largely steered away from the rampant rape jokes which cropped up multiple times per episode int he first season, they certainly haven’t stopped walking, and often crossing, the line between “classy dirty” and dirty.

Take Max’s joke about how bubblegum flavoured lip gloss [which was wearing when she had her first kiss] helped to get her an A in class. It’s no secret that her character has slept around a lot, for little to no reason, but hinting at a minor [I’m sure her first kiss was before the age of 18] locking lips with a teacher is uncomfortable at best. A few minutes later she likes a tube of lipstick to a dog penis.

“How much is too much?” is a question that Gordon and I discussed once in regards to stand-up comedy, and we came to the conclusion that edgy humour is only as good as what its meant to accomplish. In the case of 2 Broke Girls that’s apparently to elicit cheap laughter. As far as I can tell, I mean. This has never been a laugh-out-loud show, but it’s Max’s snarkiness [as overbearing as it is at times] and not her disregard in screening her sexual partners that drew me to her to begin with. 2 Broke Girls may be trying to brand itself as an edgy comedy à la Family Guy, but needs to ask itself if they can continue to counterbalance that with the heartfelt moments they’ve been trying to inject into the show.

As a final note on the show’s humour, Aunt Charity had the upper two layers of her skin removed to look two years younger, which actually made me queasy just looking at her. Physical gross-out humour may be something 2 Broke Girls is thinking about adding more regularly in stretching the limits, which is a decision I’m currently unsure about. After all, one of my favourite episodes was the eighth one of this season, where Caroline yanks a needle out of her arm and proceeds to spurt blood all over the walls of an egg donation clinic.

Finally on to what was the biggest moment for me. So I’ve been writing about what the point of the  “Current Total” and it’s accompanying ka-ching at the end of each episode for a while, so imagine my surprise when I saw it change so drastically in this episode.

Caroline coerces her aunt into signing over $25,000 to cover what the real estate corporation says they’ll need to keep the property, but finds out later that the cheque doesn’t clear because taking advantage of drug-addled relatives [Charity was on morphine lollipops to dull the pain of not having a face] isn’t exactly an ethical business practice. Then her and Max sign over the store.

All of the first season was leading up to “Max’s Homemade Cupcakes,” and suddenly we realize that the girls are starting over from scratch, especially since Max declares that they have just enough money to pay back everyone they’ve borrowed from. Soon after a little bit of curious greenscreen work in the windows behind Caroline’s head is explained when a car crashes through one of their walls. It looked pretty realistic, too.

The “New Total” leaves the girls with a single dollar to their names and us as an audienec wondering what exactly is next for them. This is a hard reboot of the status quo, though there are hints by both Charity and the real estate woman [who was deaf, by the way] that maybe starting out smaller is the way to go.

Whatever happens with the rest of this season, I have to give 2 Broke Girls my grudging respect for reigniting my interest and curiosity in the show.


Stray Observations:

  • The audience was going bonkers over Sophie today, and she wasn’t even really doing anything. Maybe an exec decided to re-send the memo that she’s supposed to be this generation’s Kramer.
  • Han has been very into memes lately. “Ermahgerd!”
  • “It’s obvious! She’s obsessed with her brother and she saw your being born as his love being taken away from her.” Morphine lollipops make Max smarter. 
  • The greenscreening was particularly suspicious in that is showed an actual street outside their window, and was actually filmed against a wall I don’t think they ever showed prior to this episode. Which leads me to wonder if they’d planned a car crashing into it from the beginning, which I hesitate to believe if only because I don’t think they have that much foresight.
  • 2 Broke Girls Cheesecake Menu: I feel like CBS is forcing me to eat my words when I assumed that they were having the two girls show more skin to draw in viewers. Not much to report here, once again.

2 Broke Girls, S2E16 “And Just Plane Magic”: A TV Review


Now I normally don’t grade my reviews, but after watching this episode I wish I had started back with Episode 13. Without ratings there’s no way of indicating how huge the drop of quality is which occurred between last week and this week. What I am saying is that this was not a good 21 minutes of television. With that being said, this review will take place in the form of a bullet pointed list.

  • Caroline and Max are in the diner and Max snarks at Han.
  • Depressed by the fact that they’re spending their Friday night replacing ketchup bottles, they decide to go to a Ravonettes’ show.
  • [They don’t have tickets, but they feel like breasts should suffice]
  • They get in because Max jokes with a British guy about how a trash can is her boyfriend.
  • After sleeping with him she manages to snag a fancy high-class plane trip to the Grammys for both Caroline and herself.
  • On that plane is Grammy-nominated rapper 2 Chainz [as seen in the picture above].
  • Something about the plane they’re on being the Channings’ [Caroline’s family] old private jet. Also: Max has never been on a plane before.
  • Max somehow breaks the plane when visiting the cockpit and after a quick cut from the two strapping in their seatbelts we see them in a cheap motel.
  • They watch the Grammys while wearing pretty dresses though, so it’s okay. Also they’re taking an economy class flight back to NYC the next day.

And that’s it. That’s what happens. I mean, sure I could mention the fact that the captain of the plane [an old friend of Caroline’s] asks her out on a date which she accepts [at 2 Chainz’s insistence] to ensure their safety in the air. I could also mention that Caroline loves 2 Chainz’s track “Birthday Song” so much that she raps the chorus at least twice in this episode. That ultimately wouldn’t help, though.

I can’t tell, for the life of me, what this episode was supposed to be doing. Caroline mentions that she recently broke up with Andy [see previous reviews] and that Max is easy, so why not spend a night out on the town, and that makes perfect sense. At the end of the episode, however, we’re led to believe that Max’s boyfriend is the British guy [are we really supposed to believe she’s tying herself down?] and that Caroline’s is “Captain Facelift” [he got plastic surgery, ha ha ha]. Are we expected to take that seriously, or not?

Celebrity cameos aren’t a big deal [as it turns out, this week’s HIMYM also featured one by another famous African-American {hello, Black History Month}]; they can be pivotal to the plot of an episode or simply just there for audiences to get a kick out of. In this instance, I feel like CBS asked 2 Chainz if he wanted to be on their show and didn’t know what to do with him when he accepted. Apparently [and “Birthday Song” attests to this] he likes “big booty hos” and sleeping while flying, and that’s about all he really contributes.

Probably the biggest problem I had with this episode [and I echo the sentiments of past 2 Broke Girls reviewer Todd Van Der Werff] is that there was so much potential. Growing up as a poor girl Max never had the opportunity to even sit in a plane, and it’s an understandably foreign experience. Instead of feeling the discomfort of squeezing past your seatmate to visit the bathroom [which has a line outside] or choking down gross airplane food like the rest of us mere mortals she’s instead given hot towels by a French stewardess and eats prosciutto off of a reasonably sized refreshment table. This isn’t something that the show’s audience as a whole can relate with.

What I want now, more than ever, is for Max and Caroline to return to their wacky hijinks of finding ways to make/save money. I miss their adventures of signing up for drug trials and “extreme couponing” and donating their eggs. Most people don’t have great jobs or that much money, and while not [ever] being a great show it was at least relatable on some level. Now we have the two girls travelling on a private jet to the Grammys. 

Maybe this is just an indicator that an EVAN YEONG MADNESS WATCH would have been a good thing to institute after all. I’ve been willing to acknowledge this show’s failing from the start, but this week managed to find even my low expectations disappointed. From what I can tell next week Max and Caroline will break a street performer’s hip. I’m not sure what to expect, but I think doing worse would be a challenge; this was like the Aliens: Colonial Marines of 2 Broke Girls  episodes.

Stray Observations:

  • Outside the Ravonettes’ concert a scalper in a cow costume offers them free tickets if “the blonde one milks [him].” He was waiting all night to say that to someone.
  • On a positive note, Han keeps up the recent trend of having other characters snark back at Max. He nails the delivery, too.

Max: “But be careful, Han female-to-male [sex changes] can be tricky.”
Han: “Welllllllll. You would know.”

  • This was 2 Chainz’s acting debut, poor guy.
  • Caroline’s French accent is atrocious.
  • Much to my disdain, the whoops at Sophie’s entrance are back in full force. Guess CBS noticed how lacklustre they’ve been lately.
  • 2 Broke Girls Cheesecake Menu: While posing next to a sleeping 2 Chainz for a picture Max cups her breasts and pulls out a duckface. Later Caroline poses with her booty next to his head, but the two instances really aren’t comparable.

2 Broke Girls, S2E15 “And the Psychic Shakedown”: A TV Review


Turns out 2 Broke Girls [and the other, better CBS sitcom] took some time off for some reason or another, so last week was a nice break for me. And now we’re back.

SURPRISE: Max and Caroline are in the diner! The latter complains about only getting $2 for her last tip, because it means that they don’t have enough money to buy supplies for their store. Before we move on, I’d like to point out that tips  and surviving on them to bolster a waiter’s/waitress’ meagre salary is great material for an entire episode [see the Ryan Reynolds film Waiting…]; it’s bizarre that this hasn’t come up sooner. Anyway, the girls steal their ingredients from the diner.

There’s also an exchange that occurs between the two that prompts a particular response from me [see gif on the right]:

Caroline: And we have to sneak all this stuff out. Han’s staying late to do inventory.

Max: Dammit, why does he always have to be so Asian?

Cue laugh track. Cue me wishing everyone involved in this show’s writing would die a slow, painful death. Then everyone conspires to help the girls steal from their employer and that’s the cold open for you.

Back in the shop Caroline has found a site where the two can apply for a small business grant. Why they need the money, I don’t know; the last episode ended with them at $4900. Since they’re technically minorities [“according to the last presidential election”] all they need is a letter of recommendation from another start-up business.  Enter Candy Andy, Caroline’s dreaded ex.

Exit Candy Andy, Caroline’s dreaded ex. Apparently he just up and left, unbeknownst to either of the girls. Middle Eastern guy Amir [played by Amir Talai] braves Max’s onslaught of racism to tell them that he helped Andy move out in the middle of the night. He also dishes out just about as much as he takes, which is nice but still not ideal.

Seven minutes in and the premise of our episode shows up in the form of a pushy psychic who talks Caroline into spending $50 on a reading [that she will die alone] and crystal “you can’t snort.” One midnight talk between the girls later and they’ve come to get their money back. Max’s snark causes the psychic to point a fork at them and say “psst”; this means they are now cursed.

As sitcom law would dictate, Max doesn’t believe in the curse while Caroline insists they pay the woman another $50 to nix their bad juju. Then a man jumps out of a window and smacks the pavement near where they’re standing.

Earlier on in the episode Han refuses to sign Caroline’s pre-written note of recommendation due to having morals, a decision Earl negates by just forging his signature as part of a vast conspiracy by all to work for the man but not respect him in the least. Han writes his own letter since he is a decent guy, which reads as saying that Caroline will die alone because she loves business.

After Jennifer Coolidge [Sophie] hams it up like crazy after hearing they’re cursed and Max breaks the glass shelf with all the booze, the girls are back at the psychic’s place. Two “pssts” and the curse is lifted. She does decide to give Max a free reading, though, and it is as follows: a happy life, over $10,000 in her near future [the grant!], and great love and children. Caroline will still die alone, but “with nothing but her great success.”

She’s pretty thrilled about this until they see a mailbox being unbolted from the sidewalk. The mailbox in which Caroline put their grant application. Oh well. It snows like the psychic predicted, though, so Caroline isn’t sure what’s up. The two agree that their readings are two parts of a whole [success + love] and that maybe things aren’t so bad after all. The end.

Since this is supposed to be a review and not just a play-by-play of the episode, let share a few thoughts. Thought #1: this episode was horrible. I do believe that much of the blame for this lies on the writing credit given to co-creator Michael Patrick King. This is probably also the reason for the excessive amount of racist and rape-related jokes this episode. Please remember that this is a man who is sort of a horrible person. For him edginess equates comedy, and it explains a lot of the terrible dialogue that was present.

Lastly, I mentioned in my last review that I’m not sure what the final tally is supposed to indicate anymore. Wikipedia dubs it “Final tally for cupcake business venture,” but shouldn’t it now read “Final tally from cupcake business venture”? The episode ends with them having been shysted out of $100 by the psychic, leaving them at $4800.

Stray Observations:

  • I would actually like to see a lot more of Amir in the future. He had great chemistry with both of the girls, and it takes a talented actor to rise above the material given [and targeted at] him.
  • The audience members cheering at Sophie’s entrance were barely audible, it’s like their hearts just aren’t into it anymore.
  • Max’s essentials: food and the penguin statue at the dollar store that says “Chill Out!”
  • 2 Broke Girls Cheesecake Menu: Pretty weak this time around. Caroline stuffs eggs into the front of her shirt. Sophie is dressed pretty provocatively as usual, but I feel that shouldn’t count anymore.

More Writing On Sexual Standards

The dearth of creativity that went into titling this post aside, I thought I’d tackle yet another double standard that appears to exist in our culture. To begin with, let me refer you all to my primary example, Season 4 Episode 5 of Top Chef: Masters, “Holly Madison’s Pool Party.”

In this case, the background behind the show itself is pretty inconsequential: 12 award-winnings chefs compete against each other to raise money for charity, et cetera. On this season the chefs spent the vast majority of their time in Sin City [Las Vegas, aka where Gordon resides] and rubbed shoulders with quite a few celebrities. The superstar for this episode was Holly Madison, of Playboy’s “The Girls Next Door” fame, and their task was to cater her pool party.

Enter James Oseland, editor of Saveur and one of the show’s judges. At the party musclebound hunks abound, and after one is encouraged to sit next to the critic he somehow manages to ask “how are you guys gonna like, keep the, this thing [abs], going with, wha- all this food.” As he refers to the man’s midsection he gives it a few pats, prompting responses like the following [which I found on The A.V. Club, of course]:

And Larrybaby’s points are all incredibly valid. Thankfully the guys and girls who peruse the TV Club reviews weren’t the only ones to notice this, and celebrity chef website [yes, it is a real thing] The Braiser did a short bit on the episode. Oseland’s antics are described there as follows:

So, naturally, the daytime cocktails start flowing, the croque madames sizzle on the griddle, and James Oseland starts giddily stripping pool boys. Wait, what?! Yes, Saveur editor-slash-very esteemed and shmancy Top Chef: Masters judge James Oseland gets a little on the trashed side of tipsy at brunch and takes matters into his own hands when a cluster of bikini-clad women fail to get a pool boy to take his shirt off.

James marches right on over to the ripped hunk of manflesh (née “Warren”) and strips his shirt right off. And then he grabs another equally buff guy and steals his shirt, too! James Oseland is shameless, you guys.

Of course, the article then goes on to describe how they’d love Oseland to be their celebrity BFF, but we won’t go into that. The point I’m trying to make is that this man, who, yes, is a homosexual, acted in a way that was inappropriate. More than that, he wasn’t stopped but was actually encouraged by those around him with cheers.

I’m not saying that I dislike watching homosexual characters on television, or that they make me uncomfortable; far from it. Max is easily my favourite part of the sitcom Happy Endings, and his adventures in romance  are both engaging and hilarious. I’m still waiting [and I know I’m not the only one] for Raj on The Big Bang Theory to come out of the closet, and more and more I’m realizing that it really is just art imitating life. Living in Toronto I’m very aware that there’s a gay population  out there, and it just so happens that TV has finally gotten around to representing them.

What I don’t want to see is gay people, men or women, being handsy when they shouldn’t be. I don’t really appreciate it in heterosexuals, and the same extends to all other orientations. If James Oseland thinks a pool boy is cute that is fine. If he wants to touch him, that is also fine. If he touches him in front of others and without the permission of said pool boy, to flirt openly in a physical way, that is not fine. It’s kind of gross.

There’s not much more I can add to what larrybaby said, because he [or she, I don’t know] sums it all up really well. I’m not a homophobe by any means, but I’d like the world as a whole to keep people to the same standards. Let’s not cheer someone on when they paw at another person they’re attracted to. If we’re going to acknowledge homosexual urges and relationships as on par with heterosexual ones let’s treat them the same way.

I end with another comment highlighting the actions of both Oseland and his fellow critics [context: the hunks were asked about sit-ups, and one actually did push-ups for the critics’ benefit a little later]:


Shame Day: Glee

shame gleeTo begin with, I’m not a huge fan of Glee. I am a man who can say with confidence how much he loves musicals and acapella arrangements, but the show’s claim to be a melting pot of diversity [a place where Black people, Asians, homosexuals, and the disabled can belt it out to their hearts’ content] is not one I find myself agreeing with. But that’s the topic of another post.

Last week internet sweetheart Jonathan Coulton, known first and foremost for being the composer of “Still Alive”, the song that plays at the end of the game Portal, wrote a blog post in response to last Thursday’s episode of Glee. Specifically, the post was in response to their cover of “Baby Got Back” by Sir-Mix-A-Lot, which you can listen to here:

The issue being that Coulton released his own version of the song in 2006, which you can check out [and should, for comparison’s sake] here:

If you really want to scrutinize the two side by side, there’s a track on Soundcloud that simply places both tracks on top of one another [and an in-depth audio analysis, for those of you into that]. Coulton’s issue isn’t simply that Glee seems to have stolen his arrangement, but did so to the point where unique elements he added were copied as well. A duck quack is used to censor an expletive, and [this is practically impossible to ignore] the lyric “Mix-a-Lot’s in trouble” is replaced with “Johnny C’s in trouble” in both versions.

As he has kept the blog post constantly updated, four days ago he announced that having gotten in touch with the people at Glee, the following information was relayed to him:

They also got in touch with my peeps to basically say that they’re within their legal rights to do this, and that I should be happy for the exposure (even though they do not credit me, and have not even publicly acknowledged that it’s my version – so you know, it’s kind of SECRET exposure). While they appear not to be legally obligated to do any of these things, they did not apologize, offer to credit me, or offer to pay me, and indicated that this was their general policy in regards to covers of covers.

While Coulton is unsure of his exact copyright claim to the track, he had obtained a Harry Fox license to release it on an album alongside his own original music. His response is, refreshingly, a mature one in response to this whole ordeal.

He has re-released his track on iTunes under the new title “Baby Got Back (In the Style of Glee). “ Thanks to using the same license as before, Sir Mix-a-Lot will collect royalties, and all proceeds from the following month will go to charities The VH1 Save the Music Foundation and The It Gets Better Project.

This has, of course gotten its fair share of media attention. From a Facebook status by webcomic artist Rob DenBleyker to posts by Kotaku and The A.V. Club,  the internet appears to have rallied behind one of its own.

In his interview with Wired magazine Coulton shared a very simple solution for the show that spends millions per episode. He suggests that “they could offer to pay artists whose arrangements they use the same amount of money they would otherwise pay a musical arranger,” and that “if they opened with that, I’m sure a lot of artists would jump at the chance.”

Somehow, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Singer-songwriter Greg Laswell’s cover of a song made famous by Cyndi Lauper, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”, was also seemingly ripped off for an episode in November 2011. I’ve embedded the two songs for you to compare once again [and because I’ve gotta break up this wall of text somehow]:

Unfortunately, Laswell did not quite have the fan following that Jonathan Coulton does, and as a result this happened more or less without incident. The Hollywood Reporter did a short piece on it the month following, but from what I can tell it didn’t generate much controversy. Similarly, Petra Haden’s arrangement of “Don’t Stop Believin'” may have been appropriated without permission [i.e. stolen] by Glee as well.

It remains to be seen whether or not Coulton’s lawyers will be able to take legal recourse, but for the time being I’m happy that the show is finally being taken to task by those who believe that creativity should be rewarded and acknowledged, not plundered.