MISOGYNY & AARON SORKIN, “THE WEST WING”, 1.09, “The Short List”

Another head cold, another turn at recapping “The West Wing”! Here we go!

To remind you, I am using these posts to a) recap a much-beloved (by me and in general) TV show, and b) point out the misogyny in it. Because I like to combine my two favorite activities – watching TV I love, and hate-watching! Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Physical comedy is used to undercut a female character’s competence.
  2. A female character’s sexual appeal or sexual/romantic relationship with a male character is primary.
  3. A female character displays “feistiness”. “Feistiness” is a frequent shorthand in liberal misogyny for “See? She’s strong and independent and we find that adorable! What’s the problem?”
  4. Femininity or feminine concerns are disparaged, by male or female characters.
  5. Any character is rude to his/her female subordinate with no consequences.
  6. A male character is lauded and glorified in an unlikely way by a female character or characters.
  7. A female character screws up at her job.
  8. Anger (or other emotions/behaviors) coming from a female character is unreasonable or mysterious, either to the audience or to another character.
  9. A female character plays the Exposition Fairy. Note: Having Exposition Fairies is not in and of itself a problem. It’s necessary in most fiction. But in The West Wing, the Fairy is almost always a female character, and is almost always asking a male character for explanation, and would almost always certainly know the information she’s asking for, so that the fact that she’s asking indicates that she’s not that good at her job.
  10. An episode goes by that does not pass the Bechdel test.
  11. Lip service is paid to female power or agency or simply the existence of females in this world without, oh, say, actually casting one or giving one something cool to do.
  12. A male character or characters act(s) as white knight to a female character or characters.

And,

!. When we see evidence that Toby & C.J. are doin’ it. Not misogynist, just entertaining to me personally.

 

Previously on “The West Wing,” Leo told his wife that being the president’s chief of staff was more important to him than their marriage; Danny the reporter flirted inappropriately with C.J. the press secretary; and the veep wanted to know when Leo had last been to an AA meeting and invited Leo to his.

There is some banging over the episode title and we are told that it’s Monday morning. Josh is on the phone saying “Yes” a number of times. C.J. is leaning over him, on another extension, with her hand over her mouthpiece, evidently listening to the same conversation. They both seem tense with anticipation. They get the answer they’re apparently hoping for and start excitedly – but silently – dancing and pumping their arms and such while Josh’s voice remains calm, telling the person on the other line that s/he should expect a call from the president later. They both hang up and start cheering. “It is done and we did it!” they crow. Then Josh immediately says, in front of his whole staff, “I did it.” Because he is an enormous dick. 5. C.J. insists that Josh made one phone call, and Josh responds that he “masterminded” a series of phone calls and that the important thing to remember is that “it is done and I did it.” C.J. seems unfazed and actually congratulates him. 6. Then he’s gracious enough to say “we did it” to her. Away from his staff. Privately. What a charmer.

Donna scuttles after him as he gets himself over to the Oval Office and asks if he wants to know about the banging coming from the floor above his office. He is not interested. Being interested in the details of the world around you is for icky, stupid girls like Donna. Josh is far too important to notice or care; he was on the phone trying to (and succeeding in) filling a seat on the Supreme Court. So nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. 4. Also for pretending Donna might not understand he’s talking about the United States Supreme Court because he is very, very important.

Sam and Toby meet up with Josh and they bump chests and Josh cries, “We the men!” because Josh has no problem sharing credit with his fellow male colleagues. 5. And lest you say, “Hey, you don’t know what each of the members of the senior staff contributed to this particular problem; for all you know, Josh and Sam and Toby did, in fact, do more than C.J.,” let me say, you’re right. I don’t know. The script never tells us. That’s kind of the point. The default is to assume that the boys have every right and reason to take this credit, and that either the girl did in fact do less than the man, or that she should be pleased to be included even on the outskirts of the group, only acknowledged off to the side.

Anyway, Josh then insists on some more adulation from Mrs. Landingham, which, in an extremely un-Mrs. Landing ham way, she provides. 6. Then Josh and Sam chest-bump again as they chant, “We the men!” Because, again, Josh can share credit generously with his bros. In front of people. 5.

They enter the Oval to a very pleased president and chief of staff. The president wants to know which one of them is “the man.” Because even the terms for having been successful have to be masculine. I don’t know where to put that so I’m going with 4. And you know what? I’m not usually one of those feminists, who needs to change “You’ve got balls!” to “You’ve got ovaries!” and “chairman” to “chairperson” or even “chairpersun” or what have you. I use “guys” as an intersex term with nary a second thought and, try as I might to break myself of the habit, I still refer to God as “he” when using a pronoun. But in this particular case it’s irritating me. C.J. – who evidently had something to do with the whole process – isn’t even in the room! And again, that’s a storytelling choice. They could have not had C.J. in the room, on the phone along with Josh in the first scene. It could have just been him. They chose (and by “they” I mostly mean Aaron Sorkin) to put C.J. in the room, and then have Josh take credit away from her. And to present this all as adorable office comedy and not at all as a jack-ass being a sexist shit-head to his colleague.

Okay, okay, I’m moving on. Plot. The boys move from the Oval to Leo’s office (minus the president, who stays behind to make the phone call). Mandy is already in Leo’s office and she tells them they rock. 6. Leo wants to make some phone calls and realizes belatedly that C.J. isn’t in the room. 5. Then she appears behind him and he tells her she should wear a bell or something. 5. Gross, Leo. Toby issues a bunch of directives – including that the announcement will be made Thursday and not Friday, because, though Josh wants more time, people watch TV on Thursday. I wonder what day of the week this show originally aired?

The senior staff exits Leo’s office with Toby commanding Josh to get him all the information on this Supreme Court future nominee. Josh says they vetted him for two months but Toby wants to use the next four days to do some more vetting. He orders everyone around but only yells at C.J. 5. But then C.J. tells him he’s hot when he’s like this. Which seems a bit 6 to me, and, given the nature of the relationship they have in my head, also a bit 2, and I’m giving it both of those numbers because Josh has already put me in a bad mood, but I’m also throwing in a ! and squeeing a bit.

Toby yells at the room in general and goes into his office. Josh and Sam congratulate themselves some more – the president was so happy! They made Papa proud! – and split. Mandy asks to speak to C.J.

Donna rejoins Josh and tells him that the banging is a maintenance crew working upstairs. Josh continues to give 0 fucks and gives us the Supreme Court nominee’s full name – Peyton Cabot Harrison III – a few times so we can appreciate the extreme Sorkin-ness of it. He loves his WASPy ’50s names, he does. And I kind of do, too. Donna is doing her best to pretend to give a shit about Josh’s roll call of Peyton Cabot Harrison III’s qualifications – Exeter! Yale! Rhodes! – and then points out that Peyton Cabot Harrison III is just another WASPy old man. I’m loving Donna in this scene and giving this a -5 just basically for her calling Josh on his shit. Josh doesn’t care, though, because this means a smooth confirmation process. “There’s many a slip twixt the tongue and the wrist,” Donna reminds Josh, which, truth, because I am, as has been previously established, a HUGE fan of not counting one’s chickens. Josh calls this “fortune cookie wisdom” 5 and Donna begs him not to get his hopes up because when he’s upset he shows up to her apartment drunk in the middle of the night and yells at her roommate’s cats. This is a detail that never goes anywhere and I love it both in itself and BECAUSE it goes nowhere. Donna advises cautious optimism and Josh insists nothing will go wrong this week. Then a piece of ceiling falls on Josh’s desk. It’s both predictable and pretty funny.

Wow, that was a long teaser.

Misogyny Points Thus Far: 14 So a pretty sexist teaser as well.

Swelling music! I am feeling uplifted and inspired!

The president and the retiring Supreme Court Justice sit in a very old-man-lawyer office and share pleasantries. The justice asks if they’re going with Harrison and the president is being cagey, which doesn’t fool the justice. He wishes they’d taken a closer look at Mendoza, who the president insists was on the short list. The justice thinks they put Mendoza on the short list so they could show they had “a Hispanic” on the short list. Burn. The pleasantries quickly sour as the justice tells the president exactly how disappointed he has been in President Bartlett, saying he drove to the middle of the road right after he was sworn in, to a line “painted yellow”, and also that he wanted to retire under a Democrat, “and instead I got you.” BURN. I like this guy. Let’s give him a spin-off.

Outside the Supreme Court building, reporters mill and Danny spots C.J. He walks over to her and they pedeconference – well, he pede-flirts/interrogates; she pede-stonewalls. Danny also knows already it’s going to be Harrison.

Back inside, the president is running out of pleasant and the justice could give a shit. “I took my seat the year you started college,” he tells the president. “I believe I’ve earned the right to say a word.” You sure did, Justice. I am willing to listen to all the words.

Seriously, can’t you see Retired Justice Cranky-Pants and his live-in home health care worker Berta? Maybe Berta ends up having to bring her three children over from Barbados to live with them? The two teenagers drive him nuts, but he forms a bond with the eight-year-old? I want this to be a sit-com. Let’s get on this.

The justice pleads with the president to reconsider Mendoza and points out that he won’t win his reelection without guts. The president whines about his job and the justice continues to give zero fucks. For some reason, when the justice calls him Mr. Bartlett, the president corrects him with “Dr. Bartlett,” not “President Bartlett.” Maybe this is a subtle piece of writing to tell us how Jed is feeling about his job?

Outside, Danny offers C.J. his gloves and then continues to interrogate and inappropriately flirt. Then a nameless black woman strides toward them and declares that it’s time.

We go back to the White House, where Josh and Donna are staring at Josh’s ceiling and Josh is marveling that it could have been his head that was hit with a piece of ceiling. Donna is all, get over it, Drama Queen. And she’s right, and also, a massive head wound could only improve his character, but also . . . I mean, wouldn’t they cordon off sections of the office if this were going on? In case something like this happened and Josh sued the federal government for millions of dollars? Josh thinks it should be Donna in the danger zone. 5.

Mandy comes in and Donna goes out. Mandy wants to know why Lillienfield is holding a press conference? Josh doesn’t care and yells at Donna. A 4 for how he’s treating Mandy’s concerns and a 5 for how he’s talking to Donna.

Sam comes in to Toby’s office and Toby tells him that he’d like Sam to play up that Peyton Cabot Harrison III clerked for a Republican judge back in the day, despite himself being a Democrat, and to play down that Peyton Cabot Harrison III has never given an opinion on abortion. Sam already gets this, and sees Lillienfield on Toby’s TV. Toby and Sam also seem unconcerned about Lillienfield although we are still listening to him as he namechecks “Rumsfeld” as one of the members of the halcyon days of White House staff and I ask you all to marvel with me about the difference a decade and a half makes. Lillienfield then claims that one in three White House staffers use drugs on a regular basis. Now Toby is interested. He picks up his phone and barks, “Get her.” 5.

Carol, C.J.’s assistant, knocks on C.J.’s door and C.J., without turning or needing further explanation, says, “Tell him I’m watching.”

Now everyone is gathering in Leo’s office, and they’re all upset. Sam wants to know, if Lillienfield tried a little harder, could he be a bigger horse’s ass? And it’s delivered in such a Sam-like fashion. I really do love Rob Lowe’s portrayal of Sam Seaborne.

Josh comes in and makes light, demanding that the 1.6 staffers in the room who are stoned right now stop bogarting the good stuff. (Really, WordPress spellcheck? Bogarting is a word? Okay.) Mandy is not amused. Josh continues to make light and I’m giving his attitude toward Mandy a 8. God, lighten up. Girls just don’t have a sense of humor.

Toby comes in and yells about nobody having seen this coming. C.J. returns that she’s shocked her psychic didn’t tell her. Josh thinks they should ignore it; Mandy and C.J. think that’s impossible, because if she denies it, and then it turns out some guys in the photo room shared a joint over the weekend, “which is not, like, out of the realm of possibility” then she has to account for that, and the closet junkie in the catering department, etc., and C.J. and Mandy spit out scenarios along this line for a little bit. Toby doesn’t appreciate it. 5.

Misogyny Points Thus Far: 20

Leo cuts this off with a “We’re looking into it” line for C.J. Josh asks if they’re actually looking into it and Leo says yes and Josh is upset. Then Margaret comes to call Leo out of the room.

As the gang leaves Leo’s office, Toby goes over talking points with C.J. and orders Sam back to work. The gang splits but Josh doubles back and Toby asks him, “What do they know? What do we know?” Josh does not like the idea of becoming in the know as regards drug use among White House staffers. Toby says he’s tired of being “the field captain for the gang that couldn’t shoot straight!” I love Richard Schiff. And I wanna bang Toby. In case I haven’t made that clear.

Sam looks like he’s taking a nap in his darkened office when the phone rings. He takes the call, looks stunned, then asks for the caller’s name, assuring the caller that he’s not a cop. I am confused. Wouldn’t this call come through a call center of some kind? Wouldn’t Sam’s assistant have found out who the caller was? Wouldn’t the caller know s/he wasn’t speaking to a cop? So many questions. But I will suspend my disbelief for the sake of drama. And brevity. (“To make a long story short-” “Too late!”) Oh, then Sam says he’s alone in the office, so that’s why no secretary to field the call. He decides to go meet the caller and then trips adorably over a carton on his way out.

Leo and the president are pede-conferencing through that outdoor hallway that I never know how to describe. They are optimistic about the smooth confirmation process that nominating Peyton Cabot Harrington III assures them. In the office, the president sends Charlie out for gifts for the nominee and his wife (cigars for him, perfume for her, and maybe I should add a number for just good, old-fashioned gender stereotypes? But I think I’ll give Sorkin a break on that. For one, it’s believable that Jed and Leo hold those stereotypes; for another, it’s not exactly misogyny to have the stereotypes unless one values them differently. That’s why I have number four on my list. It’s not for when things are coded as feminine, but for when things that are coded as feminine are disparaged. It’s a fine line but I’m accepting it for now.)

Jed wants to know what’s going on with Lillienfield but Leo advises Jed to stay out of it. Leo and Jed are called in different directions but then the president if they gave Mendoza a good look. He dismisses it a second later and then strolls over to Toby’s office. He asks Toby to put together information on Mendoza so that Jed doesn’t have to feel like he just had a Hispanic on the short list for appearances. Even though he totally did. Jed also asks Toby about Lillienfield and Toby also tells Jed to stay out of it.

Sam busts in in his winter coat with bad information from his phone call with regard to Harrison. Toby asks him to close the door.

After the commercial break that would have existed had I been watching this on regular tv, Sam is telling Toby that what he’s got is an unsigned note that every member of a law review is required to prepare. (Harrison had been the editor of the Yale Law Review.) Toby says he knows what an unsigned note is even as Sam goes on to explain that it’s “like an article,” 40-50 pages of well-researched, footnoted, revised by advisors, etc., and then published with no name.

And here I have to break in and explain another element of my numbering system. Sam’s explanation of the law review unsigned note is exposition, sure. But Toby insists he knows what it is even as Sam is explaining it, so Toby is not functioning as an exposition fairy here even though something he should already know is being explained to him. Because we must go out of our way to show that male characters already know everything they ever need to know. Keep that in mind when Donna’s all, “Explain to me what taxes are, Josh?”

Anyway, Toby is agitated and wants to know how they know Harrison wrote it; Sam says he’s spent the last three months reading everything Harrison has ever written and this is definitely something Harrison wrote. Toby calls for his assistant Bonnie to get him the next five minutes the president got.

Ah, here’s our favorite Exposition Fairy now. Donna wants to know where Lillienfield gets his information and Josh informs us that he’s on the House Government Oversight Committee, the committee that “literally decide(s) if we get heat and electricity in the White House.” Now, I don’t know what the House Government Oversight Committee is, nor could I name who’s on it. But do we really think that Donna, the assistant to the Deal-With-Congressmen senior staffer, who herself works in the White House, doesn’t know which committee controls her paycheck and who its members are? No. No, we do not. So 9. And again, let us keep in mind that, if the point of exposition is to catch the viewer up on stuff they wouldn’t know, which it is, they could choose, as they did one scene before with Toby and Sam, to have Josh blather on about it to Donna while Donna says, “Yes, I know this already.” I’m not saying that they sat in the writer’s room going, “Well, but Toby is a boy and therefore smart and Donna is a girl and therefore dumb.” I’m saying that, consciously or not, they made storytelling choices. This is how I, one viewer, am experiencing and interpreting those choices.

Donna assures Josh that he needn’t feel bad about interviewing her. “You know anyone around here who uses drugs?” he asks. She does. “You gonna tell me who they are?” She will not. He says to consider herself interviewed and Donna thinks he’s a “good boy.” Also, apparently Donna gets a lot of parking tickets. Once in college my dad called me up and demanded to know how I’d wracked up somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 parking tickets in one semester. I went down to the campus police station and talked them down to two. I was very proud of myself at the time. Now I am wondering if they actually gave a shit about any of the twenty.

Mandy is in Josh’s office and they are arguing. Mandy thinks everyone should take a drug test and that anyone who can’t pass will just resign. Josh thinks people would be more comforted to know that they will never be asked to turn over evidence against themselves. I don’t know how seriously I’m supposed to take all of this, btw. My husband is an employee of the federal government. He has to take drug tests. It’s not uncommon in the working world in general and it’s pretty standard for government employees. Right?

Josh says Mandy only wants to preserve the spotlight for the Supreme Court thing, which he says like it’s a bad thing but which is actually the job for which she was hired. 5. Finally Josh settles down enough to ask Mandy what she thinks Lillienfield is really after. Mandy tells him to go talk to whoever it is he talks to. Not like a shrink, though. Like an informant.

C.J. is briefing the press. They apparently are not satisfied by the “We’re looking into it” line. One reporter has the audacity to ask C.J. if she uses drugs. She says she does not. Another reporter says it’s been 24 hours; how long do they need? C.J. says they need more time and then says that since no one has been subpoenaed and Lillienfield has not offered up his evidence, they’re not in a big hurry to get it done. Apparently being the first person to say “subpoena” is a very bad thing, which Danny follows her out of the press room to point out. Then he asks her out and offers to explain basketball patronizingly and slowly in a way a girl would appreciate. Yes, those are his actual words. Mr. Sorkin, self-awareness does not always lead to self-correction. Or, even if you know and acknowledge that you’re being an asshole, that doesn’t mean you’re not being an asshole. You know?

C.J. agrees with me and leaves him alone in the press room. Josh appears and asks to speak to Danny. They take a walk together. Because all conversations on this show must be had while people are in motion. Danny is offended that Josh is asking him for intel, but says that Lillienfield wouldn’t be talking like this if he wasn’t trying to hit something big. So basically Danny just helped Josh solidify what he already knew. In exchange, Josh tells Danny that C.J. likes goldfish. 2. Because come on, why would Josh be helping his press secretary get with a reporter? It’s an obviously bad idea if you think of C.J. as primarily a press secretary. But if you think about her as this chick you know from work, and Danny is your bro, then this is the kind of thing you would tell him.

The president is looking at the unsigned note. It’s apparently an argument that privacy is not a right guaranteed by the Constitution. The president is perturbed, both by the paper and the fact that they didn’t know about Harrison’s position on privacy. Toby thinks it’s NBD; maybe he didn’t write the paper, maybe he doesn’t feel this way any more. Sam thinks that “maybe” is not good enough for someone they’re putting on the Supreme Court. The president wants to see Harrison ASAP and tells Toby and Sam to get ready.

Leo is talking numbers with some folks when the president interrupts. Leo orders his folks out and the president tells Leo he wants to meet Mendoza. Leo says yes, sir.

It’s Wednesday morning. Toby, Sam and Mandy are all tensely in the assistant’s area outside the Oval. Inside the Oval, the president asks Peyton Cabot Harrison III if he’s the author of the unsigned note. He is. The president mentions some paper about trade barriers he wrote at 26 years old – the age Harrison was when he wrote the unsigned note – that he says was the result of youth and stupidity, apparently hoping that Harrison will go, “Yeah, these young and stupid things supernerds like us do!” Harrison does not say that. The president calls Toby and Sam in.

But apparently before they do, Josh speaks to Toby about the privacy thing. Josh is pissed. “When did we get the idea that Harrison was our guy? When we used to talk, it was never Harrison,” Josh says. Charlie comes for Toby.

Leo’s alone in his office when Margaret comes in and asks if he has a minute for Josh. He does. Leo sympathizes with Josh about how much it sucks to be interviewing people about their drug habits this week. Josh tells Leo that he thinks Lillienfield is after Leo for Leo’s alcoholism. Leo is not entirely surprised to learn that Josh – and everyone in D.C. – pretty much knows about it. But Josh knows there must be more than alcohol. Leo confesses to a pill addiction, for which he went to a facility six years ago. Leo says the records are confidential but Josh is convinced Lillienfield has them. Then Josh claps Leo on the shoulder and says, “You’re Leo McGarry. You’re not going to be taken down by this small fraction of a man. I won’t permit it.” Music swells. If anyone ever says to you, “What is the heart, the essence, the sum total of Aaron Sorkin’s psyche?” just show them this clip.

Harrison, the president, Toby, and Sam are in the Oval having an incredibly amateur conversation about interpretations of the Constitution. I’m not going to recap it. It’s way too American Government 101.

C.J. is in her office with a pile of papers. Danny walks in and C.J. tells him he was right about the subpoena thing, but notes that he did not make it a big point in his. Danny has a goldfish in a bowl for C.J. He reveals that Josh told him she liked them. But Josh meant the crackers, not the fish. C.J. thinks this is adorable and hilarious. It’s a little hilarious. She wants to keep the goldfish – the goldfish named Gail – anyway. C.J. kisses his cheek and thanks him. Danny advises her to keep her head in the game. Which is a little patronizing. I don’t know what number to give it so I’ll go with 7.

More Constitutional conversation on the level of your tenth grade debate club carries on in the Oval Office. I’m still not recapping it. Harrison is insulted that he even has to be in this conversation. The president excuses Harrison. Toby and Sam continue to argue about whether or not Harrison should still be their guy. Sam believes that privacy debates are going to define the next twenty years. He’s not wrong. Toby agrees to meet with Mendoza.

This is a meeting Mandy has apparently heard about, and she comes in to whine at Josh. Josh continues to be rude about Mandy doing her actual job. This whole scene is 3 and 5. And exposition about Mendoza. Who’s the little guy. Went to law school while recovering from an injury sustained doing police work. Public schools. Hispanic. Blah blah blah. And Mandy’s worried that the senior staff isn’t up to fight for him, especially not if they get bogged down in the Lillienfield thing. They resolve their fight only to have Mandy 3 a little more.

Edward James Olmos is paraded down the hall looking badass. Margaret informs some dude that he’s Roberto Mendoza.

Harrison is climbing the walls in the room they’ve put him in. Charlie’s in there with him. Charlie, as it turns out, caddied at the golf club Harrison belonged to.

Now we’re in the Oval with Mendoza, Sam, Toby, and the president. Mendoza is just as arrogant and condescending as the rest of them; he’ll fit right in.

Leo calls the president out of the room and we discover that the president already knows about the pills. Leo wants to resign in order to save the president the trouble but the president is going to stand by Leo’s side, because this storyline is Aaron Sorkin’s mission statement.

The president comes back and they ask Mendoza what he thinks of firing someone for failing a drug test. Mendoza would order that the employee be reinstated. Everyone likes him and the president tells him he’s being nominated for the Supreme Court. Mendoza accepts. Everyone is up for a “good fight.” Huzzah!

A whole bunch of people outside the office applaud as the president announces, “Mr. Justice Mendoza!” to the crowd.

I swear, somewhere in the back of my mind is a memory of Harrison arguing with Charlie about that golf club. I guess it’ll come up next episode?

Anyway, in misogyny terms, the beginning of this episode was completely dreadful. It evened out by the end but it still totaled 27 points on the misogyny scale, which is definitely on the high end.

If I still feel like utter crap, I’ll do another of these tomorrow!

8 Shocking Things Only Jewish Brunettes from New Jersey who were ’90s Teens Understand – THAT WILL CHANGE HOW YOU SEE THE WORLD!

1. I have unique and complex thoughts about this subject.

They can be summed up thusly:

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2. Thing you never noticed in a thing you loved in the ’90s:

Did you know Rickie Vasquez in MSCL was GAY?! OMFG, you guys, I didn’t notice that (even though it was, actually, like, a multi-episode spanning plot point)!

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3. We hated Basic Bitches before everyone else did!

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But I still love my Starbucks PSL! LOL ;-)

4. Bagels, pizza, diners, hummus

5. Can you believe they revived My Little Pony?!

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I’m sooooooooo old, you guys.

6. Question that Jewish Brunettes from New Jersey who were ’90s Teens are sick of hearing:

How are you?

Like, how am I? How am I? I can’t even.

 

7.  Disney princesses!

Disney-Princesses

Am I right?!

 

8. Dawson was the original Nice Guy:

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But Pacey is still a hottie. Pacey crush 4eva!

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So, the Internet – I’m doing it right!

 

NaNoWriMo Part One

I’m doing NaNoWriMo – National Novel-Writing Month – this year. My main motivation is that the writing group of which I am a part is having a competition with our sister chapter and I can’t resist a competition. But I’m also in a sort of good position this year in that I am putting aside my first attempt at a full-length manuscript for now, and I am at the beginning of two different projects, and for at least one of them I can probably at least get the bare bones down of one them in the next month. So go me!

As part of my secretarial duties, I wrote a little this-is-how-you-sign-up walkthrough as I signed up. I’m going to post it here so that it’s accessible and so that anyone who isn’t in my group can see it, and I’m going keep updating my progress here as well.

So here’s what I wrote:

Hello again, ladies! (The again is because I had just e-mailed this group the meeting minutes from last night, so this was their second e-mail from me in an hour.) I promised last night that I would sign up for NaNoWriMo today so I could tell you all how to do it. It’s my first time, too, so let’s see how this goes.
1) Go to the website: National Novel Writing Month
2) There is a convenient Learn More section to the right. There you will find that NaNo offers all kinds of support to people who want to write a novel – retreats, library resources, classroom materials for young writers, regional organizations, etc. How and whether you use these resources is up to you.
You will find that you are to “announce your novel,” then update your progress (self-report) on the site regularly, and then, on November 20, you can start submitting, or validating it.
3) Hit the Sign Up button. You will then be asked to create a user name (Mine is RLRicki), enter a valid e-mail address, and create a password. And they want to know what time zone you’re in, a question that confused me for a minute because I am dumb sometimes. I almost told them I lived in Central America.
4) An e-mail will be sent to that valid e-mail address you listed. They warn you that it might go to your spam box. Mine didn’t.
5) You click the link in the e-mail and then you hit Sign In! (You might want to hit the Remember Me button too if you, like me, can’t remember your passwords for anything even if you use the same ones all the time. I seriously have had to reset my Facebook password about six times this week because my husband updated our iOS and each time I re-signed in to Facebook on a different device, I forgot what password I used on another device and had to reset it. Then I immediately forgot it again.)
6) The next thing they want is your Home Region. If you want, you could lie, but I think they do this so that you can have the option of connecting with others in your area who are doing NaNo. I clicked USA:Illinois:Chicago.
7) Now you are on the How It Works page, which, if you’ve looked through the Learn More section, you’ve already seen. But now it’s time to actually do these things! So click on My Novel.
8) You are taken to a page that asks you to Announce Your New Novel and Tell Us About Yourself. I’m going to Tell Them About Myself first. I click on the first icon in that box – the first one on the line labeled “Participation Badges” – to set up my author profile. They want your location, age, birthday, hobbies, favorite novelling music, favorite books/authors, your website, a sponsorship website if you have one, occupation, and a bio. You can be as protective or as cavalier about privacy in this section as you like. I tend toward the cavalier.
Re: Sponsorship websites – if you like, you can set this up so that family members and friends can donate money based on what you write, like a walk-a-thon but with words. The money goes to their Young Writers Program and sponsored writers get prizes and goodies. I’m not doing it this year, because I just found out about it. But you can! It’s kind of a cool thing to do!
9) So, I saved that and I hit the tab that says, “My Novels.” Then I hit the Writing This Year? Enter Your Novel! link. If you’ve done NaNo before, you can also enter your prior novels, though to what end I’m not sure. Now it wants a title, a genre, a cover image if you’ve got one, a short synopsis, and an excerpt. I am working on two things right now that are in the very early stages. Both require a lot of research but one requires more so I’m going to use the one that requires less for NaNo. I’ve already written around 5,000 words, which is a no-no, but I came to the realization that they need to be re-written pretty drastically, so I’m going to assume that will be okay.
For my short synopsis, I used my Michael Hauge Story Concept Template sentence. You can find a version of it here:  Michael Hauge’s Story Concept Template (A version of the template, I mean, not of my synopsis.)
I am not putting in an excerpt. I mean, it’s all supposed to be new writing, right? And I’m not really sure I like what I have right now. So I’m just leaving it blank.
I think that’s it! I’m going to play around on the page a little bit. I want to see if I can figure out how we can all be writing buddies with each other. I will keep posting when I get new information. Please e-mail me at raspberrylimericki@gmail.com if you want more tutorial help.
So, uh, now you all know. Go forth and be merry!

Who’s Paying?

Once upon a time, I heard a woman speak about an organization that had united women who considered themselves pro-life with women who considered themselves pro-choice to work on a common goal – fewer unwanted pregnancies among teenagers. The idea was, as vitriolic as the fight about abortion could be, there were still some things that pretty much everyone could agree on, one of them being, teenagers should not be having babies. (Of course, I saw this woman speak when I was in high school. Ah, the late ’90s. We thought we were a country divided then. We had no idea what was to come.) To that end, this group created the Baby-Think-It-Over that would be used in high school classrooms across America to stimulate what having a newborn was actually like. It was like making teenagers carry around an egg or a sack of flour and pretending that was a baby, only for the Next Generation. The baby doll had a computer inside it that would get it to cry and stuff, at random hours, with very slightly different cries for “hungry,” “tired,” “need a diaper change,” and “don’t give a shit, just gonna cry until you want to throw me off something.” And then the computer would record how long it took you to tend to the crying baby, how often you fed it, changed it, burped it, etc., and even whether or not you did, in fact, shake it or throw it off of something. I was never in the class that distributed these, but my sister was, and guess what? I have a kid now and she doesn’t. Coincidence? Probably. Yes. But that’s not my point.

My point is that there was this organization that said, “Look, we don’t agree when it comes to whether or not a fetus is a viable being with its own right to life separate from its mother. Fine. But we do agree that teenagers shouldn’t have babies. What could we do to work together on that project?”

Right now there is a protest going in Chicago – and it’s part of a country-wide protest – about raising the minimum wage. People who disagree with the notion tend to say things like, “Look, it’s a minimum wage – you’re supposed to get promoted and get more money!” and “Why are these people looking for handouts from their employers?” and “It’s unskilled work – how much do you think you should get paid to do it?” And I disagree with these sentiments pretty vehemently. Not everyone is going to get promoted. The whole point of having a minimum wage is that it should be a living wage, which is not. Getting paid does not equal getting a handout. Etc.

But the comments miss a point, and it’s a point I think we could all agree on. The point is, multi-billion dollar corporations should not be getting government handouts. Our taxes should not go to padding the wallets of people who are going to use our money to buy that third man-made island off the coast of Dubai that they’ve always wanted.

And that’s what not raising the minimum wage does. Look, every company needs employees who have had enough to eat, who have a safe place to sleep and a stable home where they can be found by their employers, who have the transportation necessary to get to and from work, who are healthy and energetic enough to come in to work and perform their tasks. At the very barest minimum. The current minimum wage in most places is not high enough to pay for those things. Not even for a single person, never mind a person who has any kind of family to support.

And yet, McDonald’s, et al, finds employees who have had enough to eat, who have safe(ish) homes, who can (by hook or by crook) get to and from work, and who are (sort of) healthy and energetic enough to perform their tasks. How?

Because minimum wage workers are making so little – even when they work two full-time minimum wage jobs – that they qualify for public assistance. Because your taxes fund food stamps and housing vouchers and bus passes and Medicaid and an assortment of other programs that do their damnedest to make up the difference between what their pay can afford them and what they actually need to function. Do those government programs always work really well? No! Should there be serious inquiries into how they allocate their money and whether the programs are actually serving the needs of the people they’re supposed to serve while not wasting the money of the taxpayers whose taxes feed those funds? Absolutely yes! But do they work well enough to ensure that McDonald’s doesn’t have to pay their employees better?

Yes. Yes, they do.

Those corporate officers are living the high life on YOUR taxpayer dollar. They can afford to give themselves billions in bonuses because they know that you, the taxpayer, are picking up the tab to keep their employees fed and housed and transported and all the rest. Forget about minimum-wage workers asking for hand-outs; this is already-incredibly-profitable COMPANIES asking for handouts, asking you, the taxpayer, to pay their employees so that those employees can help the companies make an even bigger profit.

We can all, left or right, bleeding-heart or bootstraps-believer, agree that that’s fucking bullshit, can’t we?

 

SYTYCD XI – Finale!!!

Erica: Okay, for real this time! This is it! We get to watch two hours of dancing/pretending that we don’t already know that Ricky has won!

Kate: If he didn’t, I would give up on this world. (I feel like I say that a lot?)

Erica: Now, this is the night where they pick some of their — and our? — favorite dances to re-dance, so commentary will be somewhat more limited tonight than usual. Also I’m not covering any special performers.

Kate: If you don’t dance, you don’t get comments from us. So THERE!

 

Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Erica: Fabu.

Kate: I mean, I just love her most when she’s in semi-loose sparkly dresses with her long beachy wavy blonde hair swishing around her shoulders.

Erica: I actually don’t “like” the dress; like, by itself, I wouldn’t pick it up off the rack and go, “Ooooh,” but it looks fantastic on her and her hair looks really great.

Kate: She’s always so tan.

Erica: I do wonder why it’s so much more casual than the finale ensemble normally is.

Kate: Is it? I don’t remember.

Erica: So, like, all the judges that ever have been here are here with us. I’m happy to see Adam Shankman and Debbie Allen — I wish Debbie Allen was around more, and I wish Adam Shankman was choreographing more. Tara Lipinski is also here for reasons I don’t fully understand, and Mrs. Magic Mike is…very pretty.

 

Top 20 Group Routine – Broadway, choreo by Warren Carlyle

[“Doctor Jazz” from Jelly’s Last Jam]

 

Kate: Camera making me NAUSEOUS.

Erica: I mean, this is pretty much exactly my thing. A fun, sharp, bouncy, jazzy Broadway routine with everyone in tuxes? Yep, sign me up for that.

Kate: It was pretty great. A lot going on, almost too much, but great.

Erica: They sure are featuring what’s-his-name on camera lot. Rudy. (I had to go look him up.)

Kate: Oh, I thought there was a good amount of focus on Ricky.

 

Mary Murphy’s Choice: Jessica & Casey – Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

[“Like Real People Do” by Hozier]

 

Erica: Yeah, I liked this routine a whole lot. Still do.

Kate: Me too, but Casey looked a little wobbly. Jessica was quite lovely.

Erica: It can’t quite capture the magic of the first time because it’s not a surprise this time. Also I’m pretty sure Casey almost dropped her when he swung her over his head.

Kate: Right?!

Erica: Super love this song.

 

Debbie Allen’s Choice: Ricky & Valerie – Hip-hop, choreo by Pharside & Phoenix

[“Turn Down for What” by DJ Snake & Li’l Jon]

 

Erica: Damn these two are good.

Kate: Valerie’s hip-hop face is so cute. Ricky was better at the hip-hop swag this time than the first time.

Erica: I had completely forgotten this routine — which is not surprising; my short-term memory lately has been practically non-existent — but once they were on stage I remembered loving it the first time, and I think it has only gotten better. I wish they wouldn’t do goofy things with the lighting, though.

Kate: I continue to not get the relationship between this song and the doll concept, but whate’er.

Erica: Her costume, too, is maybe my favorite in a while.

 

Zack’s Choice: Zack & Season 10’s Amy – Contemporary, choreo by Sonya Tayeh

[“Europe After the Rain” by Max Richter]

 

Kate: I liked the dancing-to-the-sound-of-rain only a little more than last time, but I think they both did very well here. Probably better than the first time.

Erica: Wouldn’t it be funny if one of the top four dancers didn’t pick one of their own dances as a favorite of the season? It would be super-funny if they simply didn’t dance; they just got to watch it. But it would actually be pretty interesting if they then took one of the places in that dance. I think they should require that next year. Also, I think Fox should hire me.

Kate: I love that idea, and I’m not sure why Fox hasn’t paid us to do these blog posts yet. Marketing, people!

Erica: I liked this dance the first time. I still do.

 

Nigel’s Choice: Rudy & Season 2’s Allison – Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper

[“Dirty Diana” by Michael Jackson]

 

Erica: So, first I thought, oh, great, I missed this one! Then I thought, oh, shit, no Allison? But then they managed to get Allison back from her new “Dancing with the Stars” gig, a popular place for SYTYCD alumni, so that’s great and I didn’t really need to know that they almost didn’t have her and then they did have her and all that, Nigel.

Kate: He definitely has a Thing about DWTS. She is so freaking sharp and FIERCE.

Erica: Yeah, if I had seen this the first time, I would have had stronger positive feelings for Rudy. And…okay, I’d still find Ray Leeper creepy and annoying, but I do like his choreo.

Kate: I just hated all the rando MJ songs from that episode, and I didn’t want to hear them again.

Erica: And Allison is perfection as ever.

Kate: I cannot even.

Erica: So then Paula Abdul, who judges for SYTYCD Australia, is suddenly on stage. I don’t know what’s happening right now. Did she do something to her nose? Anyway, she’s here to introduce the winner of SYTYCD Australia, Michael Dameski.

Kate: Poor Paula. She needs our help.

 

Michael Dameski’s Solo

[“Unstoppable” by E.S. Posthumous]

Erica: Holy moly.

Kate: They grow good dancers down undah!

Erica: I mean, there were lots of impressive flips and twirls and whatnot, but toward the end, where he pauses to make a sexy face at the camera, but he looks about 12 years old, I kind of started giggling. Remember that scene in The Wedding Singer where all the 13-year-olds are trying to get Drew Barrymore to dance with them? It was like that.

Kate: Yes, but his legs, leaps and turns are quite impressive. I’d like to see him, Ricky and Chehon in a routine together. Look out!

Erica: Also, should one really call oneself “Posthumous”? A little tempting fate there, no?

 

Valerie’s Choice: Valerie & Zack – Tap, choreo by Anthony Morigerato

[“Sing” by Ed Sheeran]

 

Kate: I continue to be very concerned about those stairs.

Erica: See, this makes me lose respect for her a little bit. She’s grown a lot as a performer and yet she picks her very first number and the style she came in with.

Kate: Could not agree more.

Erica: I shouldn’t be so hard on her. She’s very young. And she’s probably very tired. Maybe she just wanted something she knew she could handle easily. But Zack picked a contemporary number instead of a tap piece for his favorite.

Kate: She was just much better in many other routines.

Erica: I also think Valerie has lost weight over her time here. Not for good or ill; just an observation. Anyway, they definitely performed this very well. High energy, and no one fell off the steps.

Kate: Ugh those steps!

Erica: And now, a special performance from Les Twins

Kate: Who???

 

Les Twins

[“Fading Flower” by Yuna]

Erica: It is unclear to me who these two are or what their connection to the show is, but I am super-digging this hip-hoppy, jazzy, performance art-y piece with the two of them. Their bodies are like silly string and their performance is so expressive and fun.

Kate: I know! I, too, haven’t a clue where they came from, but I very much enjoyed the routine. They were very loose and fun.

Erica: Also I like the song so I wanted to make sure I’d remember what it was called or at least have a record of it.

 

Ricky’s Choice: Jessica & Ricky – Contemporary, choreo by Sonya Tayeh

[“Vow” by Meredith Monk]

Kate: Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Better and sharper and more passionate than the first time? Gorgeous.

Erica: See, I don’t really remember this piece. At all. I like it. And it must have been performed fairly recently, and, you know, I must have written about it and everything. But I don’t remember it at all.

Kate: I do! And I love it even more now!

Erica: Ricky’s feet and Sonya’s foot-centered choreography are really a match made in heaven.

 

Viewer’s Choice: Carly & Serge – Hip-hop, choreo by Luther Brown

[“Senile” by Young Money feat. Tyga, Nicki Minaj & Lil Wayne]

 

Erica: I only dimly remember this one, too. And…it’s not that good. Voters, what are you thinking?

Kate: Carly continues to be too ballet for hip-hop; her back is just too rigid.

Erica: It is possible that this was better the first time around. This performance looked incredibly phoned in.

Kate: Well, I felt like I could feel both their anger at not being in the finale. I would love to see Jasmine and tWitch do this.

Erica: Like these two, having not made the final whatever, were really willing to go, “Screw it.” And yet they’re getting a standing O. Yeah, right, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, you don’t give those away.

Kate: Hold on, of all the performances this season, THIS won the viewers’ choice? Or perhaps it came in, like, 10th, and the others were already going to be performed because the judges chose them?

Erica: So now, Season 10’s Jasmine, who has been appearing on Degree commercials all season, has brought on Ciara to spout reality show nonsense at the finalists. I’m pretty sure this is either a commercial for Degree, or for Ciara, or what. I don’t know what that was about, really.

 

Mrs. Magic Mike’s Choice: Tanisha & Rudy – Contemporary, choreo by Sonya Tayeh

[“You Need” by Bengsons]

Kate: Booooo Tanisha.

Erica: Again with the lights.

Kate: I know, it’s like they want to see how many seizures they can bring on.

Erica: I mean, expensive light show, complicated costumes, professional stage, and two chairs they pulled out of the waiting room at the local insurance company?

Kate: Nothing wrong with being resourceful!

Erica: The dance was pretty good. The performance could have been a little better.

Kate: I don’t think I liked it the first time, and I didn’t need to see it again.

Erica: I’m skipping Enrique Iglesias (as fun as that name is to say) and Sean Paul.

Kate: I cannot believe those two are still performing and trying to seem cool. Especially Enrique.

 

Adam Shankman’s Choice: Zack & Ricky – Hip-hop, choreo by Pharside and Phoenix

[“The Antidote” by District 78]

Erica: Honestly, I feel like everyone is not bringing the same sharpness and energy that they brought to these dances originally.

Kate: Oh, I felt like Ricky, again, was slightly more hip-hop than the first time, and Zack was slightly less? But I did like the first time better.

Erica: I mean, don’t get me wrong. These guys are still pretty awesome. But it looked a little rushed this time, and less sharp than the first time.

Kate: Agree. I love the part at the end where they’re both in semi-lunges and wiggling their hips. So cute.

Erica: I think it’s also worth observing that a pretty high percentage of these choices are featuring top four finalists.

Kate: Well, they are supposedly the best, no?

Erica: And now for some results. Really? Now? The person in fourth place is Zack. I am not surprised. I mean, look, he’s pretty amazing. And then he playfully pushes Ricky, so I guess he knows Ricky is going to win, too.

 

Tara Lipinski’s Choice: Emilio & Season 10’s Jasmine – Hip-hop, choreo by NappyTabs

[“Get Low” by Dillon Francis & DJ Snake]

 

Kate: I don’t think I ever much liked Emilio, but I will say that Jasmine looked even better in this than the first time. Does that count for anything?

Erica: So Tara chose one of the ones she was there to judge originally. Is it because a) it was just that good a dance, b) the live experience adds a lot to the enjoyment and appreciation of these performances, or c) she didn’t actually watch any other episode?

Kate: Methinks it might be option C.

Erica: What honestly goes through NappyTabs’ heads? “A king and his pet snake”? Sure, why not. It’s a lot of fun, though. And Jasmine looks super-sexy. Although those pants are sure weird on her hips/crotch.

Kate: I know, and I know, but who cares? I loved her in this. Both times.

Erica: After the break, Jesse Tyler Ferguson walks out and everyone cheers because he is the best forever. He does a laughably terrible job of being the host and tells us not to worry about where Cat is. He also says Travis Wall is his spirit animal and they do a little bit together and it’s adorable. Because these people are adorable. Then there’s footage of some sh!t I don’t even know what we’re watching. Audition montage? Why?

Kate: I like montages!

Erica: “Hey, look at all these people who aren’t here right now. And a couple who are.” What is happening right now? I’m tired. I have to go to sleep at some point tonight. Wait, now it seems to be a whole season recap. Why? Why is all of this happening?

 

Group Routine – Top 10 & All Stars, choreo by Sonya Tayeh & Christopher Scott

[“Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap]

Erica: So we’re in a train station and everyone seems to have a different story. There’s a fighting couple, a just-meeting couple, a homeless guy…Just a bunch of stuff.

Kate: OH MY GOD.

Erica: I feel like there’s supposed to be some kind of “And we’re all connected, no matter how different we seem” message here, and we know how I loathe messages, but this is a really terrific performance. Totally cool choreography, great performances, very high energy. Just neat.

Kate: This blew me away, truly. I think this is one of my favorite group routines on the show, ever. I loved the concept — it could have gotten really messy with the wrong choreography/dancers, but luckily we had awesomeness of both. It was executed beautifully.

Erica: But doesn’t NappyTabs usually do the Top Ten + All Stars group routine? And by usually, I mean, for the last two seasons? Are we not getting one of those?

Kate: I don’t know that it was a regular thing? I don’t even know what to categorize this dance as because it had hip-hop and contemporary. Let’s make a new genre: Contemporary Hip-Hop?

Erica: After the break, we get the winner of the dance crew competition, which Cat describes as having received a “record” number of votes. Isn’t this the first time you’re doing this competition, Cat? I mean, I guess it’s technically a record but…

Kate: Boring.

Erica: Anyway, the winners are a Bollywood outfit whose name I can’t understand.

 

Wanted Ashiqz

[“Dhoom Again” from Dhoom 2]

Erica: You know, I don’t know if I can fully appreciate this. I never saw the first Dhoom.

Kate: What the heck is going on here? This is Bollywood?

Erica: Look, I’m not going to say these guys aren’t good. But my favorite part of any Bollywood number is usually the girl’s outfit. There are no girls in this group.

Kate: But there is no shortage of sassy guys. This was good, but I couldn’t help but laugh at the extreme silliness of the main guy and all their faces and sassiness.

 

Jessica’s Choice: Jessica & Season 6’s Robert – Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

[“When I Go” by Over the Rhine]

Kate: Be still my heart.

Erica: It’s okay to just admit you wanted to dance with Robert again, Jessica. None of the voters will blame you.

Kate: I certainly don’t. I loved this routine before and I love if even more now.

Erica: I knew they were going to do this routine at some point tonight. It breaks my heart. It’s very effective and beautiful and well danced and also I never want to see it again.

Kate: I do, but mostly for Robertttttttttt <3

Erica: It’s time for more results. Jessica is out. She’s so pretty. I’m not worried about her. By the way, I dig Valerie’s costume right now. It’s like the dance version of that newspaper dress Carrie wore on SATC that one time.

 

Cat’s Choice: Ricky & Valerie – Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

[“Oh Darling” by Gossling]

Erica: See, and this one I felt was even better than the first time. Valerie really has improved as a dancer.

Kate: I love that Cat gets a choice.

Erica: Also, Travis, you’re breaking my heart. For real. I think you’re breaking Valerie’s heart, too. She looks like she’s about to lose it.

Kate: I don’t remember the first time of this one, but Valerie looked like a contemporary dancer up there for sure. Brilliant.

Erica: Now before we hear Cat announcing that Ricky wins, we are going to look at a montage of Ricky and Valerie dancing. You know, I think they genuinely adore each other. I mean, it’s not surprising. They are both such cheerful, joyous people.

Kate: Hoorah hoorah for Ricky, all is right with the world!!!!

Erica: And then Ricky wins, to no one’s surprise at all except maybe Ricky but come on, dude, and yes, NappyTabs did not do a big group routine and as much as I loved Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott’s routine, I am sad about that.

Kate: How expensive do we think On The Town tickets will be?!

Erica: That’s it from us for this year! Thanks for reading!

Kate: Til next summer, folks!

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing”, 1.08, “Enemies”

Haven’t done one of these in a while. Be warned, I have a terrible head cold right now. I don’t know how much sense I’m going to make. But watching “The West Wing” is a great sick-day activity, so y’all are along for the ride.

To remind you, I am using these posts to a) recap a much-beloved (by me and in general) TV show, and b) point out the misogyny in it. Because I like to combine my two favorite activities – watching TV I love, and hate-watching! Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Physical comedy is used to undercut a female character’s competence.
  2. A female character’s sexual appeal or sexual/romantic relationship with a male character is primary.
  3. A female character displays “feistiness”. “Feistiness” is a frequent shorthand in liberal misogyny for “See? She’s strong and independent and we find that adorable! What’s the problem?”
  4. Femininity or feminine concerns are disparaged, by male or female characters.
  5. Any character is rude to his/her female subordinate with no consequences.
  6. A male character is lauded and glorified in an unlikely way by a female character or characters.
  7. A female character screws up at her job.
  8. Anger (or other emotions/behaviors) coming from a female character is unreasonable or mysterious, either to the audience or to another character.
  9. A female character plays the Exposition Fairy. Note: Having Exposition Fairies is not in and of itself a problem. It’s necessary in most fiction. But in The West Wing, the Fairy is almost always a female character, and is almost always asking a male character for explanation, and would almost always certainly know the information she’s asking for, so that the fact that she’s asking indicates that she’s not that good at her job.
  10. An episode goes by that does not pass the Bechdel test.
  11. Lip service is paid to female power or agency or simply the existence of females in this world without, oh, say, actually casting one or giving one something cool to do.
  12. A male character or characters act(s) as white knight to a female character or characters.

And,

!. When we see evidence that Toby & C.J. are doin’ it. Not misogynist, just entertaining to me personally.

Last time on “The West Wing”: the Veep was rude to C.J., Leo told him not to be because she represents the office of the president, and Hoynes did not feel that the office of the president got to tell him shit; we learn that Leo’s daughter is protesting too much about her thing for Sam and Danny is being full-on aggressive about his thing for C.J. (which, in case you’ve forgotten, is bad because Danny is a reporter and C.J. is press secretary and those two things do not go together); and Leo’s wife, meanwhile, is so over him and has asked him for a divorce.

This time on “The West Wing,” the president is in the Oval office with Josh. They’re talking about Yellowstone National Park. Well, the president is talking. Josh is trying to leave. I really don’t know what’s wrong with these people. In Josh’s position, I would want NOTHING MORE than to listen to Jed Bartlett talk about national parks for hours. But Josh is not having fun. He’s being pretty obvious about it and also calls the president a nerd. Josh has some pretty secure feelings about his job, no?

Also, I did not know that the Everglades have an extensive mangrove forests. And I am interested. And I would totally look at the president’s slides of all fifty-four of the national parks, which he has because he’s visited all of them. Can this be a job? President-tender? For when the president is waxing nerdy and his staff is tired? I bet Obama waxes nerdy a lot.

I mean, the president wants to take the staff on a field trip to Shenandoah and to act as a guide! And Josh thinks this is a bad idea! I want to go to Shenandoah with Jed Bartlett as my guide!

Credits. Boy, I sure do feel patriotic and important.

Leo is having breakfast with his daughter Mallory at his I’m-about-to-be-divorced-but-I’m-still-crazy-rich hotel’s restaurant, where the coffee is $6.50 a cup. Mallory was going to pay for breakfast until she heard that. You guys, I’ve tried to pay for meals for my dad. It never works. My mom sometimes will allow me to get a bill, but that has been a struggle.

Leo is about to interrogate Mallory about her mother when a congressman stops by to congratulate Leo. Mallory correctly guesses that the congratulations is as regards “the banking bill”, which Leo claims will pass but has not yet, so I’m not sure that congratulations are in order.

Mallory wants Leo to just call Jenny (Mallory’s mother, Leo’s almost-ex-wife) if he wants to know how she’s doing. Conversation turns to opera tickets. It’s Leo and Jenny’s subscription night but neither of them wanted the tickets. Leo wants to pick a fight with Mallory and starts complaining that she hasn’t congratulated him on the banking bill – which has not yet passed – with a sufficiently impressed tone. But Mallory’s not having it, so Leo drops the hissy fit and instead gives her the tickets and asks her to walk him back to work.

Over at the White House, C.J. is marveling to Mrs. Landingham that Josh was talking to the president until 2 am about national parks. So I guess Mrs. Landingham couldn’t leave, either? And she didn’t even get to hear the president’s discussion of Yosemite. That’s not nice, Mr. President. It’s so not nice that I’m going to give it a 5.

Also, this is another one of those cases where I can’t tell if this passes the Bechdel test or not. I mean, on the one hand, two named women are talking. On the other hand, they’re talking about men – the president and Josh. On the other hand, the men are not romantically connected to them, so they’re really talking about work. I’ll reserve my judgement for the end of this post.

The president bursts out of the Oval, declaring with much hubris that the banking lobby has been defeated and that the banking bill will pass. But it hasn’t passed yet, Mr. President, so maybe tone it down? C.J. asks about the national parks conversation, which almost starts the president on a discussion of Yellowstone, but then Mrs. Landingham reminds him he has a phone call to gloat on. He reminds C.J. to talk up this bill (that has not passed yet).

Can you tell I’m not a counting-chickens-before-they’ve-hatched type of person? And also that I’ve watched TV before?

People mill about the Roosevelt Room (which I now recognize from the picture of Teddy Roosevelt in the background!!!) and pass folders about. The Veep enters and calls the meeting to order, saying that the president is running a bit behind. It’s a cabinet meeting, and the first in six months. The Veep starts with pleasantries about exchanging ideas and says that their first goals should be finding a way to work with Congress. Then the president walks in and starts glad-handing. He introduces himself to the woman taking minutes, Mildred, and gets her to repeat the thing about first goals so that he can harangue the veep about it. “You don’t think our first goal should be finding a way to best serve the American people?” He’s really quite a dick about the whole thing. Hey, I guess this gets a -5 because the president is being rude to a male subordinate. Although using Mildred in this way is kind of rude, too, so another 5 for you, Mr. President!

In Toby’s office, Toby and Sam agree that their latest speech is a little flat. They argue about whose writing is failing to hit the mark and then Josh comes in. Josh wants to know if they’ve heard anything about the banking bill. He is not as confident as the president was. Toby assures him that everything is fine and that he’s having lunch with Crane, who is presumably a congressperson involved in the bill? Josh leaves, not really reassured, and Toby, more invested in the writing, says to Sam, “Somewhere in this building is our talent.” Oh, Toby. Your talent is always with you.

Danny comes to C.J.’s doorway and C.J. wonders why her staff lets him waltz around. This is treated as a part of adorable banter, but, for real, though, why is the press secretary’s staff letting a reporter meander freely through the press secretary offices of the White House? I’m not sure what number I should put here so I’m going with 2 because the fact that Danny has a crush on C.J. is being placed above the logic of a press secretary’s security for storytelling purposes. And you can tell it’s for storytelling purposes because C.J. points out the illogic, and then they brush it aside. It’s a favorite writerly technique for dealing with an editor’s or fact-checker’s note without actually changing the scene you’ve written.

Anyway, Danny has heard that the president was rude to the veep at the cabinet meeting and also does C.J. want to have dinner. C.J. wants to know where he heard this. Danny wants to press his dinner invitation. He’s getting pretty effing close to a backing-away C.J. here. I’m going to give this another 2. Finally he goes away.

Hoynes is chatting with people I’m taking as reporters, since they’re all sticking their tape recorders in his face. Also, Danny is there. Sans tape recorder. They’re saying something about stocks and the internet. I’m not even sure it’s supposed to make sense.

Danny peels away from the herd with the veep and tries to get information out of him about the cabinet meeting, but the veep is not giving anything up.

C.J. asks Sam if he’s heard anything about the cabinet meeting and he has not. She peels away from him and he greets Mallory. Mallory takes the very long route towards asking him to go to the opera with her that night, but not as a date, because “there will be under no circumstances sex for you at the end of the evening.” Okay, then. I think a 3 is appropriate here. And, look, I married the guy I started hooking up with when I was eighteen. I don’t know how first dates work. But . . . don’t many of them include not having sex at the end and still count as dates? Is she implying that there will be no sex for Sam with her ever? If so, why does she want to go to the Chinese opera with him? Anyway, Sam thinks Chinese opera and no sex sounds like a great night. Mallory says she’ll come get him at 7:30.

TMPTF – 4

C.J. and Sam both sit in front of Leo’s desk, silently, waiting. Neither of them will tell the other what they want to talk to Leo about. Leo comes in and asks what’s up. C.J. tells him that Danny has the info about the cabinet meeting. Leo tells her to deal with it. C.J. says, “You’re a real details man, aren’t you?”

C.J. leaves and Sam tells Leo about Mallory asking him out. Leo is displeased but tells Sam he’s fine. Sam leaves. Leo insists to the air that he’s fine.

The veep is holding forth with another group of people. This time none of them has a tape recorder, although there does seem to be someone with a camera. He’s talking about a rocket. Again, I’m not even sure this is supposed to make sense. A secretary pulls him away and brings him to C.J. C.J. tries to talk to the veep but nothing productive is revealed, other than, the veep is pissed and C.J. is concerned.

Toby comes back from lunch, still convinced the banking bill is in the bag, asking Sam to help him draft a statement. Josh comes by and insists that the banking bill is not, in fact, in the bag. Two people named Broderick and Eaton have attached a land-use rider to the banking bill. They want to strip-mine the Big Sky Federal Reserve, which is apparently most of Montana. Sam thinks that’s fine. Josh thinks it’s not fine, not so much because Montana matters, but because winning does. (By which I mean, having the full victory, unmarred by . . . compromise? Giving in to shitty political tactics?) The three of them head off to make an appointment with the president.

C.J.’s at her podium, talking to the press. A reporter is asking about the attachment of the land-use rider to the banking bill. C.J. is, of course, only hearing about this now. Because the boys of the president’s staff don’t tell her things. 5?C.J. handles it with her usual aplomb and charm.

She walks off the podium and asks Bonnie to find Toby for her. I kind of wish there was a web series or something in which Bonnie, Cathy, and all the other barely-seen assistants could have their own stories.

Danny approaches C.J. and notes that the land-use rider was a shock to her. C.J. points out that this is a restricted area but beyond the banter about the signs that are usually but not currently posted, indicating that this is a restricted area, she does nothing to stop him from pedeconferencing with her. C.J. is not pleased with him and Danny continues to ask her out. 2 to everything going on here. Bonnie tells her Toby is in his office and C.J. heads over there to surprise him.

Leo is reporting the land-use rider to the president. The president is surprised, not in the least because it was Eaton and Broderick, which was basically Josh, Sam, and Toby’s reaction. Toby, who is in the Oval Office, with Sam, Josh, and some other people, says it’s retaliatory. The president wants to know what it’s in retaliation for and Toby says it’s for winning. Oh, boy, 1999 Aaron Sorkin. Believe me when I tell you, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Sam suggests swallowing it and Josh says, “I knew you were going to say that,” which, like, what a genius you are, Josh. He told you he was going to say that two minutes ago. Sam doesn’t want to screw up their banking victory with an argument about a bunch of rocks that are uninhabitable eight months of the year, and Josh says Sam means they can live without the environmental lobby on their side. Josh wants to veto and so does Toby, basically because they are puny White House staffers and this is how they flex their muscles. Sam thinks Montana doesn’t have enough electoral votes to worry about pissing them off and Josh snarks that he knew the day would come when Sam would willingly sell of states for political purposes. Excuse me, but isn’t this, like, the exact opposite of Sam’s usual personality? Isn’t he the least likely member of the staff to ditch principle for politics? No? Okay, then.

Toby wants a few hours to speak to some people. Isn’t that Josh’s actual job? What is going on here?

The president dismisses everyone with a “What’s next?” and we’re taken via b-roll to a D.C. sunset. Leo’s reading on his couch when the president meanders in, having nothing to do because they had most of the night blocked for “that thing” and then it got cancelled. Jed clearly wants company and Leo gives it to him. They discuss Leo’s divorce and his daughter. Jed points out that Mallory does not really see what Leo’s job is. It must be weird to have these discussions about your personal life with someone you have to call “sir”. Anyway, Jed reminds him that he’s next door all night.

Josh is typing when Donna comes by with Mandy. Mandy wants to talk about the banking bill. She’s on Sam’s side. Josh reiterates that this is more about pride than anything else. Mandy is being very 3 and that seems to be the whole point here.

Charlie comes by to let Leo know that some cabinet undersecretary is having a birthday and needs a card/birthday letter tonight. This gives Leo An Idea. He tells Charlie to give it to Sam, which he does. Sam realizes he’s cutting it close to his date but goes to accomplish his task.

Mandy is talking to Toby who is not listening. He’s being pretty rude. 5. Also, Mandy is being 3. I feel sometimes I should just replace 3 with Mandy. Toby tells Mandy he has hatred in his heart. Mandy asks towards whom. Toby says, “You go ahead and pick ‘em.” Have I mentioned how hard I <3 Toby?

C.J. stops by. She was probably hoping he’d be alone. ! Mandy wants to do that silly thing where she tells C.J. to tell Toby things that Toby can perfectly well hear Mandy say to C.J., what with him sitting right there. Because she’s 3! C.J. tries very hard to play along but it’s hard to get past the fact that she does not care.

TMPTF – 10

C.J. follows Mandy out. I guess Toby saying he needed to work was C.J.’s cue that there would be no booty call that day. !

What, you guys? I’m sick, okay. I have to get my fun where I can. (Oh, my God, people, I mean I have a cold. Not that I’m a pervert whose fetish is shipping unrequited TV couples.)

C.J. asks Mandy about her trouble with Danny and Mandy suggests giving him a half-hour with the president. I don’t know why C.J. couldn’t figure this out herself, so 9. Mandy asks for C.J.’s help with the banking bill thing and C.J.’s like, sorry, the boys must be boys on this one. Mandy says they’re idiots. C.J.’s like, yeah, we know.

So does this pass the Bechdel test? Two named female characters talking about work, which just so happens to also be about men? I am still undecided.

The president is looking over Sam’s birthday message and asks him to do another draft. Because he’s in on Leo’s Idea.

Mallory comes by in a totally sex red dress. For someone who’s not on a date . . . I’m going with a 8 here, not for being dressed the way she is, but for saying earlier that this is not a date when it clearly is a date. Irrational women use irrationality to flirt, right? Say no when they mean yes and “Get lost” when they mean, “Take me, I’m yours”?

Anyway, she won’t be on a date in a minute. Sam invites her in to his office.

Danny is typing in the dark. C.J. comes by and says she’s having a hard time believing one of the cabinet secretaries was gossiping with him. He points out that the cabinet secretaries weren’t the only ones in the room. C.J. figures out it’s Mildred and Danny insists that Mildred not be fired because it would be “mean”. Right, big important cabinet secretaries can be expected to be discreet, but female administrative staff? Pfft. Don’t be mean.

C.J. makes the deal with Danny for the president, after he pushily flirts with her and threatens that he’ll write about it if Mildred gets fired.

Mallory is in Sam’s office questioning why Sam would have to do such a lowly task on the night of their date. For some reason she thinks Sam is chickening out. He insists she stay for half an hour while he finishes up.

Toby is in a library-looking room with a portrait of the other Roosevelt. Josh comes in and says he doesn’t think it was Broderick and Eaton; he thinks it was Crane, the dude Toby had lunch with. Toby has already come to that conclusion but apparently the hatred has fled his heart, leaving nothing but apathy. The hatred still burns hot in Josh’s heart, though.

C.J. goes to the Oval and tells the president about his upcoming sit-down with Danny. C.J. also tells the president it was probably Mildred who talked, not the Veep. The president is also in favor of dropping the subject. Because ladies can’t be expected to not talk to reporters, right? Right. 8

Sam is nerdishly (and I mean that as a compliment) finishing his draft of the birthday message. Mallory is exasperated. Sam says he doesn’t care that it’s just a birthday message; he was asked to do this by the president of the United States. Mallory connects the dots and asks Sam if he told Leo they were going out that night.

Leo’s dictating some things to Margaret when Mallory comes in to 3 at Leo. Leo admits readily that he made Sam do the birthday message to show Mallory what it’s like to be romantically involved with someone who works for the White House. Then the president comes in and reveals he’s in on the plan. Jed reads some of Leo’s schedule from that day, to demonstrate how difficult this job is. Mallory 3s at him.

Mallory assures Leo that she’s not blaming him and offers to go see the rest of the opera with her. He does not think Chinese opera is a good way to make anything up to him. And, on the one hand, they’re his tickets. But on the other hand, Jason and I have season tickets to the Marriott Lincolnshire’s theater and sometimes things are included that I’d rather not see. Like, I made him take Zoe to Cats this year. And last year there was some sort of Andrew Lloyd Webber review so we gave those tickets to his parents.

Mallory thinks they should ask Sam and Leo agrees, reluctantly. But, hahaha, Sam would rather stay and perfect the birthday message. Even after Mallory gets Leo to admit that this assignment was bullshit. Because Sam’s enormously nerdy. In a truly, truly lovable way.

Mallory also thinks this is lovable, saying Sam is so exactly like her father. Sam says that’s the nicest thing she’s ever said to him.

Some assistant knocks on the Oval Office door to announce the veep. They have a friendly handshake but that’s the only friendly thing that happens. Turns out, the president hates the veep because the veep made him “beg” him to be his vice-presidential candidate. Jed claims that it weakened him out of the gate, but I notice that he still got elected, so Jed is still being an asshole.

Mandy is hollering at Josh because Josh is still trying to deal with the banking bill. Mandy closes herself in Josh’s office and tells him he’s fighting the wrong fights for the wrong reasons. Josh looks stunned but doesn’t seem to change his mind. He yells at Donna for not having gotten some files he wanted and Donna says the computer system is antiquated. This gives Josh an Idea.

Now Toby is nerdishly trying to help Sam with the birthday message and I swoon a little. Josh comes in to announce that the president can use the Antiquities Act to make Big Sky a national park. OMG, it’s like the thing that the president was talking about in the beginning of the episode was important for the plot or something! It was Chekhov’s Pager all along and I didn’t know!

The president is now telling a very bored Charlie about national parks. I guess president-sitter is Charlie’s actual job.

Josh comes in to give the president his idea. The president loves it. He says to Josh, “You understand it’s a bunch of rocks, right?” Josh says, “I’m sure someone with your encyclopedic knowledge of the ridiculous and dork-like will be able to find a tree ora ferret that the public has a right to visit.” The president wags his finger and says, “More than a right, Josh. It’s a treat.” I truly, truly love this exchange more than I love many things in the world. I know that I must come across in these recaps as a hater of this show but seriously? This right here puts a smile on my face. This whole scene, really, the writing, the acting, the humor and the seriousness – it really means so much to Josh to deliver for the president, and the president knows and appreciates that – it’s just awesome. And I’m sure the lighting and set design and cinematography are good, too, and if I knew anything about that I’d appreciate it.

Josh follows the president out onto the thing I’ve been calling a portico even though I don’t know if that’s right to say, “We talk about enemies more than we used to.” Who’s the “we”, Josh? You are usually leading the discussions on enemies. Didn’t you tell some guy that’s what the president employs you to do?

That’s the episode. Only 16 misogyny points, which isn’t bad. I don’t think I’m going to give them the Bechdel test pass, after all. Not because this episode is light, but because, look, Toby and Sam talk about “work” in their first scene without talking about women. In fact, none of the men have discussions about women as they relate to work at any point in this episode. Male characters can do that on this show; female characters rarely can. Also, in both cases where two named female characters talk to each other about “work,” they’re really talking about the men’s personalities and preferences. Mrs. Landingham and C.J. are talking about the president’s love of talking about national parks, and C.J. and Mandy are talking about Toby and Josh’s stubbornness and pride. So no Bechdel test passing.

See you next time!

SYTYCD Season XI – Top Four Perform

Group Routine – Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

[“Wind Beneath My Wings” by RyanDan]

Zoe: It’s beautiful! Way too beautiful to see!

Jason: So wait, they’re, like, gay couples or something?

Zoe: The music is beautiful! (Then the percussion comes in.) Oh, no. Wait a minute. This is not too delicate. Maybe I don’t want to do it. Maybe I’ll just do the first part.

Erica: Zoe did fabulously. I’m sure Ricky, Zach, Valerie, and Jessie also did beautifully. But I was mainly watching Zoe.

Kate: I wish I were watching Zoe! This was a lovely routine. And SYTYCD supports all types of couples, Jason.

Erica: Actually . . . it hasn’t been much on display this season but Nigel’s usually pretty homophobic. Maybe he’s changed since Jesse Tyler Ferguson’s been judging. Although Adam Shankmann was around before. But JTF is a more delightful judging presence.

 

Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Kate: This is Cat at her finest!

Erica: Yes. That is how I’m feeling about this ensemble. Just, Yes.

Kate: Lurrrve the hair and dress. This is what she should wear, like, every week.

Erica: I am still confused as to how a final decision is getting made. Unless it’s not getting made tonight? And actually next week is the finale? That’s probably the answer, isn’t it?

Kate: Yes, although they kept/keep referring to tonight as the “finale”, it’s really just the performance finale. I think results are next week.

Erica: Jesse Tyler Ferguson is judging tonight and he is my second favorite (behind Christina Applegate). So yay!

Kate: And I am doing this while performing my first-ever Fantasy Football draft. My multi-tasking abilities have increased tenfold since getting engaged to Ian (i.e., wedding planning while working).

 

Valerie & Ricky – African Jazz, choreo by Sean Cheesman

[“Voices of Savannah” by DJ Chus]

Erica: I really can’t tell the difference between “offensive cultural appropriation”/”this is what the adorable brown people do” and a genuine and faithful representation of a culture’s (or many cultures’) dance traditions when it comes to African Jazz on this show. Especially when Cat references Simba. So I will just shut up about that and say that Ricky looked amazing and Valerie looked good.

Kate: I actually didn’t love this as much as I wanted to, but it might have been the choreography. I don’t know it just seemed a little sloppy, even Ricky. Wah!

Erica: I don’t know what Nigel is on about with the quitting and the winning and the losing and whatnot. And Mary talking about survival. Like, they’re in a dance competition. Not the Hunger Games. Calm the eff down.

 

Jessica & Zack – Broadway, choreo by Spencer Liff

[“Hernando’s Hideaway” by Ella Fitzgerald]

Kate: Adorable!

Erica: Ol’ Spence loves his props, doesn’t he?

Zoe: I love that outfit! And the stage! Well, I meant the stage-y thing.

Kate: Me too, Zo. This is the type of Broadway routine I very much enjoy.

Erica: Jessica is really built for Broadway. What is her native style? Contemporary? I guess I’ll find out when she does her solo later.

Kate: Methinks it’s jazz, and I agree she is perfect at Broadway. I thought this was exquisite.

Erica: Zach was reasonably impressive, too.

 

Valerie & Zack – Contemporary, choreo by Tasty Oreo

[“Pearls” by Sade]

Erica: Oh, good it’s an “issues” piece. Because she’s blind, see? And Tasty Oreo is a totally sensitive and deep dude.

Kate: I think we could have gotten “blind” without her using an actual cane, but ok.

Erica: I will say, they did an amazing job with this piece. It’s not their fault that Tasty irritates the crap out of me.

Kate: Yes, good, but not quite finale-level.

 

Jessica & Ricky – Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper

[“F For You” by Disclosure feat. Mary J. Blige]

Kate: Ermmmmmm YES!

Erica: Have they danced together before? (Yes, Nigel says they were together in the Top Twenty.) It was funny that Jessica said being with Ricky is pushing her. That’s what they usually say about all-stars. I guess they all know who’s going to win.

Kate: Er I swear, that is exactly what ran through my head while watching this. I think this was only the second time they were together, which is a shame because they complimented each other so well. I loved this.

Erica: This was pretty much the best she’s ever been. She really did elevate to Ricky’s level. I mean, not quite to Ricky’s level. But she looked really good.

Kate: I think it was my favorite jazz routine on this show, ever?

Erica: Ray also irritates me, but I end up loving his routines, usually. I loved this. Also, I loved Jesse Tyler Ferguson calling them sprockets and noting — AS I HAVE — that Ricky makes his dancing look like the natural expression of his body.

Kate: Everything just flows seamlessly out of his fingertips and toetips.

Erica: I’m not covering Jason Mraz. No one is dancing.

Kate: But this is an awesome time to link to that awesome Jeanine and Jason routine to If It Kills Me by Jason Mraz!

 

Jessica & Valerie – Bollywood, choreo by Nakul Dev Mahajan

[“Ghagra” from the Yeh Jawaani Hal Deewani Soundtrack]

Erica: So, not to be completely shallow, but when Nakul said that this was a dance about two diva-ish Bollywood princess-y girls…I was expecting cooler outfits.

Kate: And I was expecting cooler moves. This didn’t do it for me.

Erica: I did not think they were very precise at all. Lots of energy and they had the right expressiveness and joy, but without the precision it didn’t look that great.

Kate: Yea, Valerie had a better Bollywood personality than Jessica in that it was a little more authentic than cheesy, but neither of them really got the whole Bollywood thang down, you know?

 

Zack & Ricky – Hip-hop, choreo by Pharside & Phoenix

[“The Antidote” by District 78]

Kate: Ok so Ricky started off a TAD awkward and I was worried he wasn’t going to pull it off, but he stepped it up and did a great job.

Erica: I went into this thinking, ‘God, if there’s one genre Zach might be able to do better than Ricky, hip-hop is probably it.’ But I thought they both did pretty well in this. Although their height difference didn’t really help things.

Kate: Zack is better suited to it, but Ricky pulled it out. They were both great at the stunts and lifts.

Erica: Is it wrong that I want a playing card baseball shirt?

Kate: I don’t think so. I don’t know why I still don’t have a Dillon Panthers shirt.

 

Valerie & Season 10’s Aaron – Tap, choreo by Anthony Morigerato

[“Love Me or Leave Me” by Sammy Davis, Jr.]

Erica: I know you’re super-excited to see this all-star again.

Kate: Ugh. Ian and I were both very upset to see his face again.

Erica: This was all pretty literal and corny. Which is not to say I didn’t like it.

Kate: No, they’re both very talented tappers, and they were pretty good together. But I like Valerie doing other things more, now.

Erica: I just feel like the song was pretty loud for a tap number. Aren’t we supposed to hear the taps?

Kate: THAT IS MY ISSUE WITH ALL TAP ROUTINES ON THIS SHOW!

Erica: So why are Mira Sorvino and that other pretty girl in the room? And why is Nigel randomly pointing them out, other than to remind us that he’s heterosexual?

Kate: I didn’t notice that???

Erica: There’s this advice columnist I really like, Captain Awkward, and she’s also a film teacher, and she talked about teaching class and informing the guys that the opinions of their boners are not important to the discussions in class. Like, when she’s showing the cinematography of, let’s say, Out of Sight, and the boys feel the need to open with, “Jennifer Lopez is hawt,” and she’s like, yeah, now that we know how your boner feels, let’s talk about the film. I feel like Nigel could use this lesson. We don’t need to know how your boner is doing, Nigel.

Kate: Ew, Nigel boner.

Erica: Sorry.

 

Ricky’s Solo

[“Skin & Bones” by David J. Roch]

Kate: BLERGH I love this songgggggggggggggggggg.

Erica: I got nothing.

Kate: I mean, he’s just perfect. That’s all there is to it.

 

Ricky & Season 6’s Kathryn – Contemporary, choreo by Stacey Tookey

[“Not About Angels” by Birdy]

Erica: Lighting?

Kate: I love this song too but when she says “Not about angels” I always imagine she’s saying “Naughty by nature”. He he.

Erica: Hee. I can barely see Ricky. And good lord, he’s maybe the only dancer that might make you want to look away from Kathryn. I mean, I get what they were going for. You know, she’s the light angel who brings him out of the darkness. But I can’t see him.

Kate: But it was a beautiful routine. They were made for each other.

Erica: Oh, Jesse Tyler Ferguson. You do, in fact, give away standing ovations. But it’s okay, I love your poetic stylings. (For those of you who read this but don’t watch the show (?), Jesse Tyler Ferguson started singing, to the tune of “Hey, Mickey”, “Hey, Ricky, you’re so great/If you were older, we could date.”)

Kate: To be fair, Jesse doesn’t give away standing ovations; Nigel and Mary do. Especially this season.

Erica: And then Nigel’s got to bring in suicide. Thanks, Nigel. We were all laughing and feeling good.

Kate: Yeah, that was too much. And he made Ricky cry, which made me very sad.

 

Valerie’s Solo

[“Valerie” by Mark Ronson feat. Amy Winehouse]

Erica: I love this song.

Kate: Oh, I get it.

Erica: And it still took me hearing Cat say, “If you love Valerie,” to realize she picked the song because it’s her name. I swear, having children does so make you dumb.

Kate: I dislike tap solos, so. Yeah.

 

Zack & Season 10’s Aaron – Tap, choreo by Anthony Morigerato

[“Piano Man” by Billy Joel]

Kate: Oh joy, we get Aaron for two routines.

Erica: Well, the good thing is, this song doesn’t already have a strong percussion. So the tap can function as tap is meant to.

Kate: I thought the SAME. THING. Finally, first time ever on this show, I heard the taps clearly. And they sounded ok. I think I liked Zack better than Aaron?

Erica: Damn, girl, it’s like we’re related or something. Yes, I did, too. I really like Zack tapping. I know you have an anti-tapping bias, which I do not share, but I agree – I like Valerie better when she’s doing other things. But I like Zack best when he’s tapping.

Kate: Yea. I liked this, but I don’t like that I liked it.

Erica: You know, Mary might be annoying, but wouldn’t you want her to be, like, your aunt or the lady who runs the coffee shop you go to on the regular or something? Have her be so supportive and enthused about you all the time?

Kate: Um I am a huge fan of Mary, voice and all. I love when she screeches and puts people on the Hot Tamale Train.

 

Jessica’s solo

[“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by Juliet Sims]

Erica: Ugh, I hate this song. No matter who’s singing it.

Kate: This is a horrible version of it.

Erica: Also, I guess you were right; this is more jazz than contemporary?

Kate: Yea, her main style is jazz. I’m fairly certain. This wasn’t as good as her other solos, or her partner routines on this episode. I just knew she was gonna do that little hat/hair-whipping trick.

 

Jessica & Season 6’s Robert – Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

[“When I Go” by Over the Rhine]

Kate: So I’m pretty sure I’m still in love with Robert. Yum.

Erica: My heart hurts.

Kate: This could be the best of the season, definitely top 3. Definitely Jessica’s best ever — if Ricky pushed her, Robert elevated her to an entire different realm of dancing.

Erica: This was too good. Travis, how could you do this to me? I feel wrecked. Can someone do a jive now or something?

Kate: That’s the Power of Robert Roldan. <3

Erica: And Travis. I don’t know why, when the theme of a dance is “blindness” or “breast cancer” or “like, war, man,” I’m all sarcastic and irritated, but when it’s heartbreak, I turn into a sobbing baby. But I do.

 

Zack’s Solo

[“Superstition” by Adam Raherty]

Erica: And again, good tap song choice because it doesn’t have its own percussion.

Kate: I suppose.

 

Results

Erica: Right, no results tonight. The votes from tonight and from last week will be totalled to get the winner. Right? Right. I think I get it now.

Kate: Right. And I voted! For Ricky! Everyone else, do the same.

Erica: I’ve never voted.