Tag Archives: Sex and the City

In defense of change

Change is good.

Or so the old saying goes. I must have heard that one a thousand times, but the instance that sticks out most in my head is when an old colleague used it on me. I had just announced my plans to leave Teen People to take a job at Us Weekly, and I was feeling nervous about my decision. This particular colleague dropped by my office to wish me well, and I ended up unloading my misgivings on him.

He wasn’t a big fan of mine, and I knew he was glad to see me go. For him, any old cliché probably would have done if it ended our conversation as quickly and painlessly as possible. I’m pretty sure he pulled that one out of his ass. He probably had no idea what an impression he made.

He was right…sort of. Change can be good, and in this professional instance it was not only good — it was essential. But change can also be not-so-good. There’s a lot to be said for stability, predictability and the dreaded routine. Change for the sake of change only is often just a waste of time.

When I was younger, one of my relatives came to live with us for a while. One of my most vivid memories about him (among many vivid, unpleasant memories) was that he used to change undershirts several times a day. Every time I think of him, I also think of his white V-neck t-shirts flapping in the wind on the clothesline in the backyard like blank flags at half-mast.

As I can’t recall him ever doing anything more strenuous than thumping his Holy Bible, I had no idea why he needed to change his t-shirts so often. Maybe it was because my mother did all of the laundry, so why not? Change for the sake of change may have been good for him, but it was a burden for my mom. Though I’ve fully embraced change in my recent adulthood, I’ve remained suspicious and maybe even a little afraid of it too.

But now I’m beginning to see change in an entirely different light. Even when it’s not-so-good, or just for its own sake, it can end up having a net positive effect. Hannah Horvath on Girls would probably agree.

The fourth season of Girls won me over after a kind of hum-drum third season, and I think it was all because of change. There was so much of it. The biggest one: Hannah moved to Iowa (albeit briefly) to attend grad school, which set off a chain of unfortunate events for Hannah but fortunate ones for this viewer.

As a result of the stint in Iowa, she lost Adam, and upon her return, even more change was in store. She took a job as a substitute high-school teacher and her friends became a less prominent presence in her life. Hannah spent more time with Adam’s new girlfriend Mimi-Rose in episode 7 than she did with Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa the entire season! If that wasn’t enough life upheaval, her father also came out as gay. That’s a lot of change for a 10-episode season.

(As an aside, I love the juxtaposition of her dad announcing he’s gay to her mother getting tenure, which, in academia, is the antithesis of change, as Loreen “I never have to move again” Horvath clearly realizes.)

The move to Iowa was one of the best developments that the series writer and star Lena Dunham has come up with yet. It took Hannah out of the orbit of her annoying New York circle, none of whom, with the exception of Adam and Shoshanna, I could possibly care less about. The Iowa episodes were some of my favorite ones of the season, partly because her New York crowd were barely in them. But most of all, I loved them because the change of scenery and Hannah’s ultimate failure in Iowa were the catalysts for the first signs of true emotional growth we’ve seen in her yet.

I don’t think she would have been able to be so supportive of her father and not make his coming out all about her without the Iowa experience. And look at how she remained in the background during the water-childbirth scenes, not grabbing center stage as old Hannah surely would have done. Had she not let go of so many illusions about herself, about her life, about life in general after Iowa, she probably would have taken Adam back in the season finale rather than seeing that they simply didn’t work anymore…if they ever actually did.

I’m thrilled that Hannah is starting to evolve, but I’m glad that she hasn’t completely changed her irritating ways. Her interaction with her student Cleo offered much-needed assurance that old-school Hannah is alive and well. Some might find her insufferable, but I love her despite her flaws…because of her flaws.

I get Hannah. Maybe it’s the writer in us. We’re a strange, complicated, contradictory breed. I hope friends and strangers don’t feel about me the way people do about Hannah, but I wouldn’t be too surprised to find out that some of them do. It’s not like I’ve never picked up and left everyone I cared about behind for far less clear-cut reasons than Hannah’s motivation for moving to Iowa.

I’m sure more big changes (some just for the sake of it) are in store for both Hannah and me. Maybe they’ll bring about continued evolution and make us more palatable to the people around us. Perhaps, as it did with Hannah, change will finally put me in the orbit of a guy who might actually be good for me and not just provide more fodder for my writing.

I like Mr. Parker. He’s cute and he totally nailed Hannah in just a couple of episodes. I’m curious to see where they go in season five. I love that he called her on her thirst for drama, but I hope she doesn’t bend like Carrie Bradshaw did with Aiden when she tried to give up smoking for him on Sex and the City. Hannah’s dramatic tendencies are a large part of what makes her and Girls interesting.

The last thing she (or I, a once-again thoroughly entertained viewer) needs is change in the form of a sexy new guy swooping in and altering Hannah or her maddening ways. I love them just the way they are.

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How the First Seven Episodes of “Devious Maids” Totally Sucked Me In Last Night

Note to the writers of Revenge (who, hopefully, have learned from their season-two mistakes): This is how you write engrossing soap opera that succeeds on both an entertainment and an emotional level. You need to include at least one character whom I can root for. That was probably the main thing that kept me fully invested throughout my seven-episode marathon of the new Lifetime dramedy serial Devious Maids on a Saturday night when I probably should have had better things to do.

With the possible exception of one (Adrian Powell, nicely played by Tom Irwin, still handsome and fully embracing the smarmy side that I could have sworn he occasionally hinted at as Claire Danes’s dad on My So-Called Life), every character on Devious Maids has at least one redeeming quality. Yes, even Evelyn Powell, Adrian’s bitter, uptight wife.

It’s not just the way Rebecca Wisocky can deliver a withering, judgmental glare and a sarcastic quip with such panache, making Evelyn a sort of evil desperate housewife (Bree Van de Kamp’s tortured, twisted sister?) on too many little blue pills, but also because when she sits alone in a room sobbing while looking at old home movies of her dead 6-year-old son, I feel her pain. I can’t wait to find out what she did to cause his demise 15 years ago, and if that’s what turned her into such an unrelenting harpy.

The Powells are the Graysons on Revenge, only childless, without any political aspirations (that we know of) and without any secret organization (again, that we know of) hounding them. Once again, the husband half of the marital equation outdoes his wife in evil misdeeds. Tom Irwin is more devious than any maid on the show, and I’m disappointed that he hasn’t yet entered the orbit of Susan Lucci’s Genevieve Delatour. Make it happen soon, writers!

I’m a huge Lucci/Erica Kane fan, so I don’t mind that Lucci is basically playing a nicer version of her All My Children alter ego (and pretty much every character she played in TV movies in the ’80s and ’90s). She might be somewhat limited as an actress, but she knows how to play to her strengths. As she proved in her appearances on Hot in Cleveland, Lucci is a great comedian. I hope Devious Maids continues to showcase that previously rarely seen Lucci side in future episodes, but I’d rather watch her be ogled and bribed into bed by Angela Chase’s father than by Reverend Camden from 7th Heaven.

And then there are those devious maids. This being a Marc Cherry creation, we should expect shades of Desperate Housewives (which he also created) and The Golden Girls (for which he was a producer and writer), as well as Sex and the City and Hot in Cleveland, since this is, after all, a TV series with four female leads and is constitutionally obligated to follow the long-standing prototype.

Once again, we have four female archetypes: There’s the flawed-but-grounded one (Carrie Bradshaw/Dorothy Zbornak/Joy Scroggs/Susan Mayer) in Ana Ortiz’s Marisol Saurez, the glamorous one (Samantha Jones/Blanche Devereaux/Victoria Chase/Gabrielle Solis) in Roselyn Sánchez’s Carmen Luna, the salty one (Miranda Hobbs/Sophia Petrillo/Elka Ostrovsky/Lynette Scavo) in Judy Reyes’ Zoila Diaz, and the traditional-values one (Charlotte York/Rose Nylund/Melanie Moretti/Bree Van de Kamp) in Dania Ramirez’s Rosie Falta.

And as with Desperate Housewive‘s Mary Alice, there’s the dead one. This might be my one problem with what played out in those first seven episodes. Flora’s murder is the crux of Devious Maids‘ plot, so I wish the show would do more to make me care about her. We only got the opening scene of the series to form an opinion of her (in just a few moments onscreen, Paula Garcés impressed me more than she has on the online reboot of All My Children so far), and the show has spent all the time since basically trashing her. At least Mary Alice, despite her questionable actions, was presented sympathetically and as a somewhat fully rounded character, due, in part, to flashbacks as well as to her narration of the series. We were able to care about her even if we didn’t really know her.

The actresses playing the living leads do so with varying degrees of success. Reyes is basically playing Scrubs‘ Nurse Carla, older, more bitter and self-righteous and with a 19-year-old daughter (Edy Ganem, stunning) in tow. Ramirez is appealing, but it’s sometimes hard to tell whether she’s playing the immigrant Latina stereotypes (she talks just like how an Argentine friend of mine used to impersonate a fictional Mexican maid named Soledad) for laughs or for authenticity. I do enjoy her chemistry with Melrose Place‘s still-hot Grant Show, though.

Sánchez is a complete package — effective actress, good singer, adept at both drama and comedy, drop-dead beautiful — who has the potential to follow Sofía Vergara as the next 40-year-old breakout Latina star. But Ortiz is the real revelation here. Although I’ve loved the actress since I first saw her on an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond, I never quite took to her as Ugly Betty’s big sister. (I know a little sibling rivalry and jealousy make for great dramedy, but I prefer my TV big sisters tough but supportive, more like Rayna James’s sibling Tandy on Nashville, played by the sadly underused Judith Hoag.)

Who knew all Ortiz needed was her own spotlight to really shine? She owns her character and carries the main storyline with the grace of a scholar pretending to be working class. She’s so won me over with her intelligence and occasional sass as a woman quietly challenging all the stereotypes of what the help is supposed to act like and talk like that I fear what will become of her when she finally gets her son out of his legal jam. I’m really not dying to see her in a classroom.

But this murder mystery can’t possibly go on for several seasons, right? Marisol will probably exonerate her kid by the season finale and end up having to go back to her previous life as a high-powered college professor, just as I’m becoming invested in her newfound friendships with her fellow maids, particularly Rosie.

Or will she? Maybe that’s just one more potential twist to look forward to in a show that hopefully has a few big ones in store.

I may be dragging today after my sleepless Saturday night spent catching up on Devious Maids, but with the eighth episode set to air tonight, I can hardly wait to once again stay up way past my bedtime just to see what happens next.

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Why I’m Redefining “Home” Again: Is It Really Where the Heart Is?

68894_493289021292_6916483_n2587_77228576292_4910209_nYesterday I had another one of my random, unexpected realizations. Make that two of them.

1. I’m about to be homeless for the second time ever. It’s been a long and torturous road — six months of treacherous highway, which included seven weeks spent negotiating bumpy, aggravating terrain in Buenos Aires — and the end of it is finally in sight. Yesterday I received an email from the person who is about to assume ownership of my apartment in Buenos Aires telling me that all of the t’s have been crossed and the i’s dotted — only one month to go until it’s officially a done deal.

He also wrote something about why it took so long: We can blame it on my status as a foreign non-resident. I’d been so busy cursing Argentina’s notoriously slow and ineffective bureaucracy, and all this time it had been my fault? Indeed, another sale in which my buyer was involved that was only in the beginning stages when I was in Buenos Aires in May was settled last week.

My initial reaction was mixed. On the one hand, I was thrilled to finally have that albatross off my back. For the last year and a half, since the apartment was broken into for the second time, it’s been truly a beast of burden. After my experience with this apartment and with the one in New York City that I sold in 2010, I’m not sure I want to ever own real estate again — at least not unless I’m planning on living in it full-time and permanently. Managing an apartment from abroad is just not an endeavor for which I’m cut out.

Then after doing a guardedly enthusiastic variation of the happy dance on the inside, I panicked. Why? I’m about to be homeless for the first time in almost exactly 23 years. The last time was the summer of 1990, between my junior and senior years at the University of Florida in Gainesville, when I spent one week between leases basically living out of my car. Though I slept on the couches of several close friends, for roughly seven days, I was calling my little white 1980 Toyota Corolla Tercel home.

Aside from that rough week and my first month and a half in New York City, during which I stayed with my uncle in Co-op City in the Bronx, from the day I signed my first one-year lease in 1988 — when I moved out of Hume Hall on the UF campus and into the Oakbrook Walk apartment complex nearby — I’ve either had a long-term lease, or I owned an apartment (or two). Though I’ve been living in short-term rentals month-to-month for the last two and a half years, I’ve been strangely comforted by the fact that there was a place I could call my own back in BA — even when it was putting me through hell.

2. Home now is apparently New York City and Melbourne. After I updated my Facebook status with news of my soon-to-change real-estate status from homeowner to homeless, my friend Vagner reminded me of something: “Home is where the heart is, remember that!” It’s an old cliche, but I felt like I was experiencing it for the very first time. Just because I don’t have a house doesn’t mean I am without a home. It’s not a particularly revolutionary thought — Burt Bacharach and Hal David and Leona Naess, among others, have written and sung songs about the very concept — but it arrived just in time to sway my mind.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gu2JBMNBbKo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPQOniCmPGI

In January of 2012, I wrote a blog post titled “Home Is Where The Mind Is,” and at the time, it was an accurate summation of how I felt. But for most of 2013, I’ve felt particularly rootless, in body and in mind, especially the last few months, which have seen me flit from city to city, country to country, continent to continent, driven by wanderlust and something bigger. I’m at the halfway point of my month in Berlin, and I’m already anticipating my next stop (Venice, though still tentative). If this is my search for home (that something bigger), I clearly still haven’t found what I’m looking for.

Or maybe I already had without even knowing it. What a comforting thought: “Home is where the heart is.” That would give me two of them: New York City and Melbourne. Though I don’t have a lease, a mortgage or any other real-estate claim in either place, chunks of my heart are in both.

It’s easy for me to understand why New York City has a piece of my heart. I lived there for 15 years. Although I haven’t been based there since 2006, it’s still the city of my dreams — literally. Whenever my dreams are set in a specific city, it’s almost always New York City. Just yesterday, in fact, I had a dream in which I was torn between two ex-lovers, who, in the dream, were composites of actual exes in New York City, the town where I have the most exes.

The climax of the dream took place on the Upper East Side, a neighborhood that I rarely frequented unless it was to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, when I stood facing both guys at the same time near the entrance of an apartment building that looked a little like the one Charlotte York lived in on Sex and the City before she married Trey McDougal. I was meeting up with one of the guys there, and the other one happened to be passing by. It was almost like the SATC episode in which Charlotte was caught double-booking dates. I thought about pretending the latter was just a casual friend and tending to his bruised ego later, but I decided I’d invite good karma into my life by telling the truth. That’s when I woke up.

I wondered if my strange dream means an ex is about to re-enter my life. I’ve been thinking about my first one a lot lately because he’s German, and I’m in Berlin, which, incidentally, has yet to enter any of my dreams. But then, neither has Buenos Aires — and I lived there for four and a half years.

To be honest, the only dreams I can recall having that involved Melbourne were not about the city itself but rather my only ex in it. Time might simply not be on our side, Melbourne’s and mine: Since I discovered it in September of 2010, I haven’t actually spent more than four consecutive months there. But since the moment I first pulled into it, Melbourne has owned a space of my heart that’s gradually increased in size. It’s a combination of things: cool people, a beautiful city, awesome running tracks, quality friends and one great love.

And apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks of it as my home. This morning I received a message from Tobias, a guy I met in Melbourne during my recent three-month stint there, posing a question that I truly didn’t expect to be asked today: “Are you even planning on coming home?”

To Melbourne? If nothing else in my life is so certain right now, on that you can always count.

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I Wish They Wouldn’t Say/Do That!: 10 Things That Should Be Banned from Television

When you watch as much television as I do — at least an entire day’s worth every week, both on the computer and on actual TV screens — you’re bound to get annoyed and downright bored from time to time. Here are 10 words, phrases, actions and trends that are testing my patience on a daily basis, though probably never enough to get me to stop watching completely. 

1. “Bitch” It’s a dirty word that’s been stinking up TV for years, but I still hold my breath a little every time I hear someone hiss it. And lately, that’s been a lot. “Those bitches are finally gonna get what they deserve,” a character on Pretty Little Liars announced in an online ad for the show that I recently saw about a dozen times in the space of a few hours, and I figured, well, at least it’s from one B to another. But when a man is doing the “bitch”-ing, it’s harder to listen to, which means I’m constantly covering my ears.

On General Hospital, there’s even a character who has been nicknamed “Britch” by a another character (male, and gay) because her name is Britt, and she’s, well, a rhymes-with-witch on wheels (literally — her latest get-the-guy scheme finds her confined to a wheelchair). If the name fits, right? Well, sure, but what about when a 5-year-old character (adorable Emma Drake, daughter of the object of Britt’s romantic obsession) starts trying it on, too? Not so cute.

2. “Son of a bitch” Here’s my problem with this one, which, like the final word of the unfortunate phrase, has been popping up with alarming regularity on prime-time and daytime network TV for years. If you have a problem with the son, why criticize the mother for his sins?

3. “I care for you” Ok, I’m confused. Does this mean “I love you”? Are they now used interchangeably? If someone asks, “Do you have feelings for him/her?,” and the answer is yes, does it mean that you care for him/her, that you love him/her, or both. And if “I care for you” is actually a step down from “I love you,” then what does it mean exactly? That you care what happens to him/her? That you love him/her as a friend — with benefits? That you could love him/her… someday? Oh, forget it. Just shut up and kiss him/her.

4. Kissing sounds But when you kiss, for God’s sake, keep it down! Remember the episode of Sex and the City in which Charlotte was dating the terrible kisser who started slobbering all over her face when he got too caught up in a smooch? Remember the look on her face when she was telling the girls about it? That’s sort of how I feel every time I hear two characters kissing while watching them do it. There are many different ways to kiss, but none of them have to involve the sound of lips connecting and saliva being exchanged. And speaking of saliva, I hope I never have to see another spittle thread connecting the lips of two kissing TV characters ever again.

5. “SLAP!” I have mixed feelings about slaps in general. I don’t like that it’s okay for women to slap the taste out of a guy’s mouth, or that sometimes it’s even treated as foreplay, but if he lays a hand on her, he’s abusive. It’s another one of those frustrating double standards. As for the more evenly matched girl-on-girl slapfest, I used to love a good diva throwdown as much as any gay guy (it’s our version of watching two ladies having sex), but frankly, I’m totally over it.

They were so much more exciting on Dynasty, when the slapee always slapped back, and when they were used sparingly. On Days of Our Lives, Sami Brady recently got slapped twice in about one week, and not once did the feisty broad who recently beat the crap out of a dirty cop (whom she later shot in the back) slap back. Alexis Colby and Krystal Carrington never threw down more than once a season on Dynasty, and they always gave as good as they got (or in Alexis’s case, tried to), but on Revenge, Victoria Grayson, in the truest ’80s fashion, goes around smacking people all the time and always getting away with it. In the space of two seasons, she’s already gone through every member of her immediate family and then some. (In comparison, Nashville made it through its entire first season with only one main character getting smacked, and the slapper was strung out on drugs.)

When Victoria finally got it back (from her husband), it was at her own request (to make it seem like she’d been attacked when she came back from the dead), and I don’t recall seeing the actual meeting of fist and cheek. Next season, if she’s not going to learn to throw a punch like her daughter Charlotte (slaps are so ’80s, a good punch is forever), let’s hope she sticks to words and keeps her hands to herself.

6. Chronic throat clearing I’m not talking about the “ahem” that one uses to get someone’s attention every now and then, but rather, the constant clearing of the oral passageway for no apparent reason. It irked me when Jennifer Aniston used to do it all the time as Rachel Green on Friends, and the sound doesn’t sound any more appealing coming out of the statue-perfect body of Nathan Owens (left), who plays Cameron Davis on Days of Our Lives. He’s one chiseled model-turned-actor who definitely should be seen and not heard.

7. “You’re not a mother” or “Wait until you have kids” I know, I know, being a parent is the most noble, selfless thing you can do can do in life and on TV — even if you do it for the most selfish reasons (like trying to trick an indecisive guy into falling for you — see “Britch” above). That’s what TV parents — particularly daytime-soap moms — are always reminding us. While I’m sure that this is true, and I hope to see for myself one day, why not let its nobility go unsaid and stop making those who don’t/won’t/can’t have children feel like lesser humans because of it?

8. “If you ask me, strangers are the easiest way to avoid heartache.” Now I can’t remember where I heard this one, but it’s probably the lamest excuse ever for having casual sex and one-night stands. Do it because you enjoy it, or don’t do it at all.

9. “Who am I to judge?”/”I’m not judging” Guess what? As soon as you utter those words — in either combination or some other variation — you’ve already passed judgement.

10. Voiceovers When they work (Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives, where, in effective Sunset Boulevard-style, a dead woman handled the honors), they’re golden. When they don’t (Grey’s Anatomy, In the Middle, Scrubs and practically everywhere else I’ve heard them), they’re grating. Frankly, I’d rather watch characters randomly break into song. No, scratch that. Unless it’s on Nashville, I’ll pass.

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One Thing You Should Never Do in the Middle of Sex

Yesterday I received a tear-stained message from Tobias, an acquaintance in Melbourne whom I’d never pegged as someone with a flair for melodrama. He’d barely batted a brown eye that one time I insulted his intelligence by telling him he had none, then turned on my heel and flounced off. My drunken outburst, though (and yes, I’m going to blame it on the a-a-a-a-a-alcohol), was nothing compared to what had recently gone down on the other side of the world.

just called my ex and he picked up while he was having sex so im abit pisssseedddddddd”

That’ll teach him to be careful whom he drunk dials.

When I tried to conjure a visual of a hot Australian guy in the throes of passion pausing to answer the phone, it was superimposed with a flashback to what was possibly the most disturbing scene in the entire six-year run of Sex and the City. (Yes, even more so than anything involving Carrie and the Russian!) In it, my girl Miranda called her own ex Skippy, who was in the middle of doing it with the girl to whom he’d just introduced Miranda after they bumped into each other on the street.

A brief conversation followed, after which Skippy promptly dumped his bedmate while still inside of her. On the scale of shitty human behavior during sex, this might trump what Adam did to Natalia on the penultimate Season 2 episode of Girls. I’m not sure which is more appalling: that Skippy didn’t have the decency to wait until after afterglow, or that he’d taken Miranda’s call at all. Was the sex with the rebound girl really so whatever that he couldn’t bear to ignore the ringing phone? Shouldn’t couples turn those damn things off before foreplay anyway?

I just don’t get it. What is this human obsession with taking every single phone call? Are people that afraid of missing something important if they let voice mail do its job — even in the wee hours of the morning, when any news is most likely bad news? And if you must look to see who’s calling, wouldn’t caller i.d. rule out any pressing medical emergencies?

I can handle answering the phone and reading text messages during a date — well, actually I can’t — but if I were on the side of the bed of Skippy’s girlfriend or the guy with Tobias’s ex, I’d definitely get out of it. If I’m not good enough to distract you from the ringing phone, you can get off under someone else.

Though the guy under (or over or beside) Tobias’s ex had a lot more to be angry about, I could understand Tobias’s ire, too. Talk about throwing “I’ve moved on” in somebody’s face. It’s safe to assume that the ex knew exactly who was calling, thanks to that aforementioned modern wonder known as caller i.d., and it’s even safer to surmise that it’s precisely why he answered the phone. And maybe I’m being a bit too conspiracy theorist here, but those grunts and moans he no doubt played up after picking up — or did he tell Tobias what he was doing, which would actually prove my point even more? — were no doubt for the benefit of the guy he probably used to call the love of his life.

I felt cheap just thinking about it. Suddenly the actions of my own ex, who once emailed me after seven months of silence just to let me know he was seeing someone new, didn’t seem so bad, after all. But I still think he’s kind of a jerk for disturbing my peace. When he called me three times in the middle of the night a few weeks later (and no, I wasn’t alone), I certainly didn’t answer the phone.

I wonder if he was the guy with Tobias’s ex. Unlikely, yes, but how poetically just would that be? I can’t think of two insensitive guys who deserve each other more.

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10 Great Songs That I First Heard While Watching TV

Remember the “Fire and Ice”-to-“Ice Ice Baby” Age (1981-1990), when MTV was the visual forum most likely to launch a pop hit? Those days are long long gone, the network’s increasingly non-musical programming in the ’90s and, more recently, the rise and rise of YouTube have seen to that.

For a while, movies filled the hit-making void left by the de-emphasis of the M in MTV, but film soundtracks are no longer nearly as bankable as they were in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90, when the ones to Saturday Night Fever, Dirty Dancing and The Bodyguard were among the biggest hit albums of their respective decades. In fact, a No. 1 single hasn’t won the Best Original Song Oscar since Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” 10 years ago, and had the Academy’s most recent anointee, Adele’s “Skyfall,” come out circa 1984, I have no doubt that it would have spent more than just a lone week in the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100.

Perhaps Adele’s Bond theme would have fared better there had she performed it on Saturday Night Live, the TV show that sent her on her crash-collision course with megastardom after she appeared on it in 2008, six years after television started to really matter again in the creation of pop stars and pop hits. We can probably blame American Idol for upsetting the balance of pop power and shifting it back to TV for the first time since MTV ruled the ’80s. In the years after its 2002 debut, Idol has been perhaps the most dependable launching pad for pop and country stars/hits, of which Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood have been the biggest, and it also re-ignited Jennifer Lopez’s pop career after she performed her comeback-hit-to-be “On the Floor” on the show in 2011.

Across the Atlantic, Britain’s Got Talent turned its biggest loser Susan Boyle (who came in second in 2009) into a household name and a multi-platinum recording artist. Now Olly Murs, another 2009 runner-up (on Britain’s The X Factor), is boldly going where Girls Aloud and Cheryl Cole (the massive-in-the-UK British girl group discovered on Popstars: The Rivals in 2002 and its biggest member) have yet to go, up Billboard’s Hot 100, where he’s gone as high as No. 29 with “Troublemaker.”

Then, of course, there’s Glee, the now-waning one-time pop phenomenon that spawned platinum soundtrack albums and turned “Don’t Stop Believin,” Journey’s 1981 No. 9 single, into a hit all over again in 2009, via the Glee cover, which peaked at No. 4 in the U.S., No. 2 in the UK, and No. 5 in Australia. My 24-year-old Aussie ex once told me that he’d never even heard Journey’s original — which became a UK hit for the first time in 2010, reaching No. 6 — until Glee.

Though it’s been the most prominent non-reality TV hit maker in recently years, Glee hasn’t been the only one. Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars” owes its Top 5 status in the U.S. to its prominent placement in the 2006 season finale of Grey’s Anatomy. Two years later, M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes neatly underscored the changing of the pop guard from film to television after being featured in the trailer for the film Pineapple Express but not in the movie itself. Shortly after hitting TV airwaves through the trailer, the song began its ascent to No. 4 on the Hot 100.

Over in the world of commercials, where a Mitsubishi Eclipse ad helped make Dirty Vegas’s “Days Go By” a Top 20 hit 10 years ago, consumer goods and Seth Rogen/James Franco stoner comedies aren’t the only things being sold. Last year, Alex Clare ensured that he’d no longer be best known as Amy Winehouse’s ex after his 2011 flop single “Too Close” was resuscitated after appearing in an Internet Explorer 9 ad, climbing all the way to No. 7 on the Hot 100.

Now it’s Icona Pop’s turn. Their 2012 single “I Love It” began a steady upward chart trajectory after being featured on the January 27 episode of Girls, where I first heard it. I’ve since enjoyed it on dance floors from Melbourne, Australia, where it was a No. 3 hit last year, to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It now sits at No. 13, and will likely become 2013’s second Top 10 hit by a Swedish act (following Swedish House Mafia, whose “Don’t You Worry Child” recently reached No. 6) in a matter of weeks. (Sadly, mainstream U.S.A. continues to sleep on Robyn, Sweden’s second-best export after ABBA, and has been ever since she was briefly a break-out pop success with back-to-back Top 10 hits in 1997.)

Even when it’s not making hits, TV continues to be a dependable taste maker, introducing me to a number of great songs, some of which have taken up permanent residence on my iPod’s Most Played playlist. “Turn up the radio,” Madonna sang on a 2012 single. Turn up the TV (or whatever you use to watch your favorite shows) is more like it. Here are 10 of the best songs I may never have heard without it.

1. DB Boulevard “Point of View” (Sex and the City, August 11, 2002)

2. Chip Jenkins “All for Love” (Men In Trees, 2006-2008, Argentina’s Warner Channel ads)

3. Bryn Christopher “The Quest” (Grey’s Anatomy, May 22, 2008)

4. Temper Trap “Soldier On” (90210, November 10, 2009)

5. Pink “Glitter in the Air” (52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards, January 31, 2010)

6. Boy & Bear “Mexican Mavis” (90210, April 25, 2011)

7. Regina Spektor “All the Rowboats” (Ringer,  March 13, 2012)

8. Massive Attack featuring Hope Sandoval “Paradise Circus” (Revenge, November 4, 2012)

9. Lenny Williams “Cause I Love You” (performed by Vincent Powell on American Idol, February 28, 2013)

10. Tame Impala “Elephant” (Girls, March 17, 2013)

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Should Exes Get Back Together?

presidentabrahamlincolnmarytoddlincolnLately, the ex factor keeps messing with my mind. I’ve wondered if exes can be friends, pondered if exes should live together, and examined why sex is better with an ex. Now once again, I’m re-entering the ex-files to pose another all-important ex question: Should we ever even consider reuniting with one of ours?

There was a lot of that going on in the season finale of Girls (Marnie + Charlie, Hannah + Adam — again), but something (experience, hard earned?) tells me happily ever after isn’t part of the plan for either couple. A few lucky examples aside, it rarely is for exes on TV. And even Carrie and Big and Miranda and Steve had to break up and reunite a series of times on Sex and the City before they finally got it together and got to the altar.

While the process of coupling and uncoupling and coupling again (repeat one, two or three times) makes for great story on TV, in real life, you’re just likely to increase your battle scars. I recently watched a biography on Abraham Lincoln which revealed a few things I’d never known before. First, he despised his tyrannical, physically abusive father and refused to see him on his deathbed. (Who would have thought Lincoln could be so vengeful and hold such a powerful grudge?) Second, when U.S. President-to-be Lincoln and future First Lady Mary Todd were first dating, they got engaged, and when he got the proverbial cold feet, broke up. They spent 18 months apart before reuniting and finally marrying.

For those who didn’t glimpse those tense scenes from a marriage in Lincoln, by many historical accounts, the state of their union was often fairly miserable. It was one dead son, a Civil War and an assassination short of happily ever after. And that doesn’t even take into account what was going in the marriage, which, according to the documentary, may have been filled with spousal abuse inflicted upon Lincoln by his wife. This is the Lincoln story I want to see on screen! (Maybe Joaquin Phoenix can play him as a younger guy and get his Oscar.)

In contrast to the turbulent Lincoln marriage, future 26th President Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to marry his ex, Edith Carrow, after the death of his first wife, yielded far more blissful domestic results — or so claimed another Presidential documentary I recently watched.

My ex experiences are closer to that of the Lincolns — though without war, death and slapping. I recently reconnected with one, hoping that a year apart had changed us both enough that our relationship could evolve into something sturdier and more mature. Alas, it didn’t take me long to realize that it couldn’t, and I had to let him go once more. Unfortunately for us both, he hadn’t changed at all. In fact, he had become even more like he was before.

It was my second failed attempt at recapturing lost love. The previous time was nearly 10 years earlier, with an ex whom I had dated 10 years before that. On the surface, he had changed immensely. Formerly the life of every party, he’d morphed into a teetotaling zealot. While I applauded his health-consciousness, when it came right down to it, he’d traded one addiction (party favors) for another (self-righteous sobriety). Same guy, new drug. He had to go.

What did Luke Spencer say again? “People don’t change, they just get older.”

As much as I try to embrace the idea of moving forward, never looking back (after all, as yet another TV great, Vanessa Huxtable, once said, “The ship that sails backwards never sees the sun rise” — technically untrue, but I get her point), a part of me — the hopeless romantic — thinks the perfect love would actually be rediscovered love with an old flame. It’s a hyper-romantic dream, but trying to force it into reality can be like re-watching an old movie or re-reading an old book and expecting a different outcome at the end. If you’re lucky, you might enjoy the story even more the second time around, but the ending will still be the same.

Of course, if you resist the human urge to fall back into old patterns (which with both of my returnee exes, especially the second one, I did — new year, same relationship), together again, two exes can write a brand new story, one that might not be quite happily ever after but rather, to be continued. A perfect denouement might not be guaranteed, but the great scary thing about love and life outside of Bangkok massage parlors is that happy endings never are.

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