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Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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Entries in shonda rimes (3)


In Which They Ruined William Shakespeare For Us All

Beautiful Tyrant


Still Star-Crossed
creator Heather Mitchell

It was my genuine mistake that I thought this show was going to be about if Romeo and Juliet lived and entered into a completely unhappy marriage, with Juliet still upset about the residual effects on her concentration from imbibing the poison. When Romeo and Juliet died in Still Star-Crossed, I was in shock, because I figured this would finally be the interracial romance that would work out well for everyone involved, unlike every single time Kerry Washington falls in love with a white man.

Replacing Romeo and Juliet as the stars of Still Star-Crossed are Rosaline Capulet (Lashana Lynch) and Benvolio Montague (Wade Briggs). They are roughly the same size, and they wear very similar outfits. The plot of Still Star-Crossed is somewhat confusing – a member of each family died because everyone could not accept their love. Yet in this show the Montagues and Capulets decide to force their families to intermarry, even though the couple in question is not in love at all. Nor do they hate each other, they are just kind of neutral when it comes to all this.

Still Star-Crossed is the brainchild of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee writer Melinda Taub, who wrote the YA novel from which this is all abstracted. Sadly, even Ms. Taub appears to absolutely loathe this adaptation of her work. She never talks about the show on her twitter, just tells people nervously to buy her book. This is a sad deal, since Shakespeare can really be improved on, as you have recently seen with the Democrats who regularly have Donald Trump stabbed to death by a bunch of minorities. Considering pretty much everyone in the New York theater industry is a liberal, I expected more subtle commentary on current events, like maybe Twelfth Night with Trump as Duke Orsino.

Still Star-Crossed probably would have been a semi-decent TV movie, but it is hard going to sit down for the entire forty minutes of this show. At some predictable point in every episode, the writers get tired of the fake Shakespearan lilt to all the dialogue and one of the women is just like, "Wanna get something to eat?" The show is also fond of stealing lines from Shakespeare's other plays to spice things up. There is even this one part where someone must have wholesale copied an anti-Semitic monologue from The Merchant of Venice.

Shakespeare was never my absolute favorite or anything, and it seems like he is finally fading out of most curriculums. The reason is that he is not super great at writing for women and some of his racial attitudes were a wee bit retrograde. Or maybe The Tempest is proto-Amiri Baraka: I didn't major in semiotics, people. I had this one teacher who was just crazy about Falstaff, I have no idea why. Even Orson Welles made this guy look like a bumbling fool. I have learned to detest writers who turn tragic circumstances into comedy, and the reverse as well, but that was until I saw Still Star-Crossed. I mean, this was destined to be a comedy – Melinda Taub is a graduate of the Upright Citizens Brigade theater.

There are some jokes in Still Star-Crossed. At one point Benvolio tosses this crazy guy who killed a bunch of people off a building – the man's body is dashed on the parapets below. Rosaline is looking down on the corpse with something like regret, and Benvolio deadpans, "Did you forget he tried to rape you?" I'm sure she didn't want to be reminded of that, but as rape jokes on network television go, I guess it was fine.

In another subplot, Juliet's father (Anthony Stewart Head) keeps seeing her as a ghost. When he finally tracks the girl down, she says, "Beware." Instead of asking what he should beware, he just stands there with a goofy look on his face. What a weird show.

The costumes and environments remain weirdly inconsistent throughout Still Star-Crossed. Even though everyone involved in this story should ostensibly be of the nobility, Benvolio usually looks like he is wearing rags he picked up off the floor, and it is impossible to tell which Capulet is the servant and which is the master from their mode of dress. At one point I was pretty sure a man was romancing a princess of some sorts, since she was wearing a frock from the Jasmine collection. When he tried to kiss her, however, she told him that even though she was a servant, she was still a lady. Perhaps she meant that literally.

I really try to give Shonda Rimes the benefit of the doubt, even though it's obvious that her major influence on this project is to make the cast pleasantly multiracial, except no Asians. With that said, no one ever brings up race at all in Still Star-Crossed. At first this seems fine because who cares if we're not going for a historical look at this period, but in practicality it means that ethnic differences, even national differences, cannot be acknowledged as part of the plot. Even though from all appearances this is a show about a race war, the core conflict can never be described in those terms.

I think what is really hurting Shakespeare is that he does not have that one solid IP to hang his hat on. Hamlet is very pretty to listen to, but it is depressing and somewhat of an Oedipus Rex ripoff if I'm honest. Richard III is shit. Falstaff was a mistake. The comedies are about as humorous as T.J. Miller's stand-up. Macbeth is kind of fun for an act or so but it all gets a bit predictable, doesn't it? Julius Caesar is wretched and hackneyed. King Lear was probably his best play, but it makes no sense now and is incredibly sexist. Othello is decent, but no one has ever been like, oh my god, I am so psyched for Othello tonight. I think he probably should have written some more uplifting work.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.


In Which Katherine Heigl Falls In Love With A Murderer

Knocked Down


creators Joan Rater & Tony Phelan

"He's the first guy I feel like I could really talk to," Katherine Heigl explains to her mother, who is serving a life sentence since she was two years old. Her mother is very proud of Katherine Heigl, who has become a noted defense attorney. Why isn't anyone else proud of Katherine Heigl?

Actually, her boyfriend is. "You fight like most people breathe," Billy (Steven Pasquale) explains to her over dinner. He has just been released from prison on bail, but Katherine Heigl still finds something attractive about this pediatric surgeon, who is going to be convicted of a murder he committed twenty-four years earlier in Gramercy Park. He is really proud of Katherine Heigl: her education, after all, is considerable. She made it through four years of NYU without killing herself, and then headed uptown to Columbia for her law degree. It taught her, somewhere along the line, that it was OK to make love to her client. "We are the lucky ones," she muses in a private moment.

Katherine Heigl has everything she could ever want, yet people still don't want to watch her. At times she looks like a skeleton riding a bike through New York City in Doubt, the new show from the married Grey's Anatomy producers Joan Rater and Tony Phelan; she resembles a muppet when she is in the courtroom and her lips come together just so. Dulé Hill just looks at her like, "Why am I on this show?"

I guess it all comes back to when Katherine Heigl started saying bad things about Judd Apatow and how much Knocked Up sucked. It did suck, but maybe it was supposed to? 2007 was a very confusing year for a lot of people. Perhaps it was not the best idea to cast Ms. Heigl in a show that is exactly like Grey's Anatomy. "Travel's not my thing," she explains to her boyfriend at dinner, in an attempt to become even more unlikable to her target audience.

Men gave up on Katherine Heigl when she savagely turned on Seth Rogen, causing him to retreat into his office where he smoked so much pot that he drove other people out of the building. Women could still have a chance of liking Katherine Heigl, but Doubt gives them so many reasons not to do so. Personally, I love Katherine Heigl. Did you know that Katherine Heigl has two adopted children in real life, and is dating a murderer in not real life? "It's not going to be easy to explain the coincidence of the cat scratch to the jury!" someone bleats in the background.

In order to discover the reasons why Katherine Heigl's unpopularity has led to such low ratings, it behooved me to research the cause of Katherine Heigl's unpopularity with her key audience. This resulted in a somewhat combative conversation with my wife Lynne, which I have reproduced below to the best of my memory.

ME (DC): Do you think Katherine Heigl uses a loofah?

LYNNE: I don't believe she can actually ride a bike. That's probably a stunt double.

DC: Did you feel betrayed when she left Grey's Anatomy?

LYNNE: Not really, I mean, she was an actress on a TV show.

DC: Do you think Katherine Heigl smells like gasoline and Head & Shoulders?

LYNNE: They were still rolling out the credits on this show fifteen minutes in. Is that Omar Epps?

DC: No. Do you think people who travel don't like people who don't travel?

LYNNE: I don't understand the question.

To be fair, Doubt's questionable command of civil procedure renders the show essentially an extended fantasy sequence. In one of the show's key subplots, another attorney (Laverne Cox) wins the trial of a deranged man who pushed a woman in front of a subway. Afterwards, she commiserates with her associate (Dreama Walker), who exclaims, "Our client is on his way to a mental institution and we're supposed to be celebrating?" Where did she want a murderer to go, vacation?

Are you maybe starting to get the same sense that I am, that at one point Shonda Rimes killed a dude and the point of all these hour-long shows is to slowly legitimize murder in the eyes of the public until she confesses to Oprah and everyone is like, well, Viola Davis killed several people and continued a fruitful teaching career in a top tier law school, so you're fine Shonda?

But back to Katherine Heigl, the only subject really worth writing about. I have devised some suggestions for Katherine Heigl, so that she can resume her rightful career as a serious television and film star. My first thought was that she should do a role with an accent. Katherine Heigl with a southern accent would be just darling. If she can't do an accent, than she should stop dieting down to fit preconceived stereotypes about how leading ladies should look and play the role of a woman who is almost permanently pregnant. Gentile pregnant women are very sympathetic.

Anyway, it is kind of sad that Doubt is such a mess. I think part of the problem is that the show is photographed and scored like every other Shonda Rimes show. It just comes across feeling so generic at this point. Plus Katherine Heigl's outfits are not so exciting in this. She wears a lot of sweaters and the ensuing sexual milieu is extremely dated. I understand she is a powerful attorney in this diegesis, but she's already making love to her client, so keeping up appearances otherwise is maybe a misguided use of resources.

Dulé Hill and Katherine Heigl have a lot of chemistry. It would have been great fun to see them taking off their clothes, and I think that is where Doubt was eventually going down the road, but we'll never know now because the show is doing such garbage ratings. That's a shame, because I would have really enjoyed seeing their bodies press together. It would have sounded like a car wash.

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.


In Which We Have Gotten Away With So Much

Gilmore Girls 2: Lorelai Harder


How To Get Away With Murder
creators Peter Nowalk & Shonda Rimes

On the first season of How To Get Away With Murder Viola Davis did a great scene every few episodes where she tore off her wig and makeup. This moment arrived when she really had no more interest in portraying the criminal defense attorney Annalise Keating anymore, and she had to break things down to their bare essentials. This is a weird, uncharacteristic event, since How To Get Away With Murder is all about how the outward parts of ourselves are essentially our real selves when there is nothing left underneath.

Just getting some pool time, pretending her show is semi-realistic.

In the first season of How To Get Away With Murder, the preternaturally gifted Davis was blessed with a storyline out of the newspapers: she had a creepy psychologist husband who spent his time fucking about with one of his students, a very attractive Caucasian-American named Lila. She herself was cheating as well: one of her students, a mysterious Wes (Alfred Enoch and his brutally bad American accent), walks in on her getting head from a detective named Nate (Billy Brown).

Her last male partner before she mysteriously went lesbian.

The law parts of How To Get Away With Murder vacillate between ridiculous and stupid. Keating teaches a course in criminal law that does not go beyond the rudiments any fourth grader can pick up in a given episode of Law & Order, and spends most of her time doing extremely unethical things to win freedom for consistently innocent defendants. Now in season two, Shonda Rimes and co-creator Peter Nowalk have given up on versimilitude altogether.

Towering over her like an ancient Jean Grey, I just wonder if this was really the moment Viola Davis should have cast all penis to the wind.

Now that Keating is single and free of her husband, she has returned to her real hair. It's not that she looked better in the wig, but she looked a lot more like the character and not Viola Davis. Her love relationship is with a woman, Eve (Famke Janssen). The number of gay relationships and sex scenes outnumbers the heterosexual ones, to what end I'm not sure. But sexuality is very fluid, and the ensemble cast that surrounds Viola Davis has to keep fucking in order to keep things interesting for the subplots she has no time with which to concern herself. Davis badly needed a credible actress to play off of besides the dull young things she orders around like sheeple:

Enter Bonnie Winterbottom, Esq. (Liza Weil), the real star of Getting Away With Murder. Some of us (all of us) hoped for a sequel/spin-off to Gilmore Girls, where we would see what actually became of Paris Geller after her time at Yale dating some schlumpy worshipper. Now we know: she has become the associate attorney at Annalise Keating's Philadelphia firm, and she is spectacular.

Rory was probably servicing Lamar Odom for most of December.

Liza Weil is an astonishing creature. In How To Get Away With Murder's first season, she kind of took a backseat to the unfolding murder mystery that surrounded the sudden death of Annalise's husband Sam Keating. She mostly showed up to tell her interns that they were beneath her, which they were.

Lorelai! Lorelai! Lorelai! Lorelai!

In the show's unlikely second season, she has pretty much become the de facto main character. Her relationship with the immature law student Asher (Orange Is The New Black's Matt McGorry) is how I always thought Paris would settle down: a beautiful, sensitive young thing who knew that she was the boss, but that she couldn't always be the boss. I love every moment of your new life, Paris.

They only do missionary unless Paris wants to roleplay Lorelai-Luke esque roleplay

I realize Shonda Rimes' deepest motivations is to turn every series she pops out of her Dartmouth-educated head into a ludicrous soap opera, but I don't know if How To Get Away With Murder really required an AIDS-based storyline in addition to all the murder that is going around. The times the show is really entertaining is not when Viola Davis screams at Paris, "You're a monster!"

That sort of schlock is amusing in the moment, but we long to take Paris' new life seriously. Where does she go on vacation? What will her white kids look like? What kind of lotion does she use on her face? What coat has she selected to honor as her winter jacket? Is she as annoyed by Hailee Steinfeld and the new Stephen Colbert as I am?

Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording.

"Jellyfish" - Laura Stevenson (mp3)

"Diet of Worms" - Laura Stevenson (mp3)