SYTYCD Season 12 – Top Eighteen Perform; Two Are Eliminated

Group Routine: African Jazz?, choreo by Reina Hidalgo & Asiel Hardison

“Let the Groove Get In” by Justin Timberlake

Kate: Whodathunk JT would provide the music for an African Jazz routine on So You Think You Can Dance? (Consequently, he was in my dream last night, and fell in love with me.)

Erica: I know you disagree with me, Kate, but one of the things I enjoy about this show is that the songs can be unexpected given the dance genre. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but I like it. I’m not totally sure this was African Jazz, though. Isn’t African Jazz performed barefoot?

Kate: It had a slightly African Jazz feel to it, but perhaps it was really just straight Jazz. It was enjoyable but not particularly well danced. Watching that 10-year anniversary special last week made me mad, because the dancers used to start at a much higher level.

Erica: I have not watched the special yet (I know, I’m a terrible person. Or a terrible SYTYCD blogger.) but I did not feel that this routine was particularly well-danced or well-choreographed. It wasn’t bad, exactly, but it didn’t look any better than your high school dance team’s routine.

Kate: It was especially messy when they broke into partners — perhaps because THEY ARE NOT GETTING ANY PARTNER TRAINING THIS SEASON.

Erica: I hope they do some traditional ballroom at some point. I do like the change-up this season, but I’d like to see, you know, a fox-trot or something.

Kate: Anyway…

Cat Deeley’s Outfit

Kate: MUCH better. There’s the Cat we know and love!

Ian: She’s eight feet tall, but there is a grace to her elephantiasis.

Erica: I feel like there is no “but” necessary in that sentence. I find her generally adorable.

Kate: I adore her hair like that, absolute perfection. And she’s SO TAN but in a natural-looking way.

Erica: Yes. Yes especially to the hair, which is in my very favorite Cat configuration.

Kate: The dress has no shape but she can pull that off. V. Gwyneth.

Erica: I am into stark white lately. I approve.

Alexa (stage), Derek (stage) & Jaja (street): Contemporary, choreo by Stacey Tookey

“All Waters” by Perfume Genius

Kate: These three actually work really well together, and Jaja looks lovely dancing contemporary, despite needing to be a wee bit longer in some areas. Am warming up to her.

Erica: I think Jaja is quite a performer. Derek, I feel like, I never recognize from minute to minute. He’s like an actor on the CW; the minute I’m not looking at him, I forget I’ve ever seen him. Alexa is very good, but she’s suffering from that surface-ness that all the girls from Utah seem to suffer from.

Kate: However, I think we need to stop with the stories about the routine. Might we not have gotten “veteran” from Derek WEARING A MILITARY UNIFORM? Honestly.

Erica: I thought the problem here was that Derek had this very literal costume on, and then the girls were just in nighties. And there was nothing about the dance itself that spoke to “single mother” or “leaving an abusive relationship” or, for that matter, “veteran,” so he could have just been in standard contemporary pajamas, too, and they could have been just about the general concepts of strength and helping each other through the terrible parts of life, and that would have been fine.

Kate: Yeah, that too.

Erica: Oh, and, after Cat cruelly faking Derek out, these three are all safe.

Jim (stage), Megz (street) & Moises (stage): Hip-Hop, choreo by Jaquel Knight

“Whuteva” by Remy Ma

Kate: I had a lot of problems with this one, the first of which being Megz lip synching the whole thing, the second of which being the choreography. It REALLY didn’t work for them.

Erica: Did you hear that Jaquel Knight was responsible for the choreography on “Single Ladies”? I was not so impressed with him in the rehearsal footage, and I was not so impressed with the choreography. It was, again, pretty much like your really good high school dance team.

Kate: This was three zillion times worse than the “Single Ladies” dance. Moises was off the whole time, and Jim was way better in last week’s hip-hop than this one. It was just too ratchet for the two stage dancers.

Erica: Why did Jim get hip-hop twice? They should put me in charge of this part of the show; I would make sure it was very carefully mixed up.

Kate: And Paula Abdul literally has trouble getting words out of her mouth. Listening to her makes me SO MAD.

Erica: The judges this year are more or less useless. When Nigel is the only one I want to hear from, we have a problem.


Erica: Team Christina Applegate.

Kate: She was supposed to be on Watch What Happens Live last week, and I submitted a question to Andy Cohen on Facebook about her becoming a permanent judge on the show, but then she bailed, and now I’m sad.

Erica: Jim and Megz are safe; Moises in danger again. He is still the least sexual human being I’ve ever seen.

Edson (stage), JJ (street) & Yorelis (street): Jazz, choreo by Tovaris Wilson

“Restart” by Sam Smith

Kate: I kind of wanted this whole season to be choreographed to only Sam Smith songs, until I saw this.

Erica:  Was it me or were the girls failing at being sharp the way that hip-hop dancers should be?

Kate: I still adore Sam Smith, but this was horrible. The routines are getting worse as the night goes on.

Erica: This was very strangely awkward. It even sounded like the audience was, like, trying to find moments to be encouraging.

Kate: They had no chemistry together, were not dancing together, and just looked all around bad. Edson especially. Dammit!

Erica: I am kind of blaming the choreographers tonight. None of them seemed to have brought their A game. Edson is in danger and the girls are safe.

Asaf (street) & Marissa (stage): Club Cha-Cha, choreo by Jean Marc Genereux

“+1” by Martin Solveig feat. Sam White

Kate: How does “club” cha-cha differ from regular?

Erica: Who the f knows. This is the kind of thing I wish they would go into more detail on. Use the opportunity to educate the public, you know?

Kate: Marissa is smokin’ hot and this would have been dynamite with her and a real ballroom dancer. Alas, she got Asaf instead.

Erica: I think it’s time for my annual “I miss Pasha!” call.

Kate: He had absolutely no rhythm or swag and didn’t do anything he was supposed to do with his hips. He missed a lot of connections and all of their lifts were shaky and they missed some moves entirely.

Erica: Yeah. She was working her ass off to make him look good. If you knew anything about partnering, Asaf-who-is-not-Pasha, you’d know that that’s your job.

Kate: I feel like Marissa has a lot of talent but keeps getting the short end of the stick. I hope she gets the chance to shine more in the weeks to come.

Erica: Me, too.

Kate: I also feel like Nigel insulted Jean Marc a little bit with the talk about the cha-cha? He certainly looked offended.

Erica: I mean, honestly, in this case, I thought this was mostly Asaf’s fault, not Jean Marc’s, but I’d rather Nigel blame choreographers when they deserve it rather than feel the choreographers are untouchable.

Kate: In this case it was 1000000% Asaf’s fault.

Erica: Nigel going on about butterflies was pretty weird. Caterpillars may all become butterflies, but most of these kids are going to leave the show. Be snuffed out in their cocoons, as it were, rather than make it to the butterfly stage. Asaf may very well be out tonight, because he’s in danger (Marissa’s not), and the judges sure as hell aren’t going to save him.

Ariana (street), Burim (street) & Gabi (stage): African Jazz, choreo by Sean Cheesman

“Gorilla” by Lord KraVen

Kate: Ooooooh this was so cool.

Erica: Yeah, I liked this. Sean Cheesman and his pecs still kind of scare me, but he choreographs some very cool African Jazz routines.

Kate: The girls were obviously better than Burim — I’m ready for him to leave — and each one was a tad bit off from the other because of how fast it was, but it was just such a cool routine. I want to learn it.

Erica: The girls are insanely better. Also — I mean, this show could be a study in gendered expectations of work. Can you imagine if a girl needed this constant “You’re working so hard! You’re doing better!” nonsense? Have we ever had a girl in any season that got as much hand-holding and head-patting as Burim and Asaf are getting? As many other boys have gotten before them? Talk about women being 100% responsible for all of the emotional work.

Kate: The girls’ lift was crazy. Gabi is my definite favorite and I want her to win, as of this moment. She is certainly the most versatile.

Erica: She was really a beast for this number. Ariana and Burim are in danger. What are people not seeing in Ariana? I like her so much.

Kate (stage) & Neptune (street): Contemporary, choreo by Justin Giles

“Promise” by Ben Howard

Kate: New choreographer? We like?

Erica: I really, really did. I hope to see more of him. I thought this was mature and interesting. I liked that, as opposed to the Stacey Tookey routine, he just said, “He has a dangerous job,” without telling us what it was, because we don’t really need to know. And that moment when her head flopped onto his chest, I started crying.

Kate: This was refreshingly good. I am glad I saw something from him as I had started to write him off, and I hope everyone else comes around to my way of thinking about Kate now. She is so talented.

Erica: Yeah, I think this was the first time I saw why he was in this contest. He was excellent. So was she.

Kate: She is also my definite favorite, and I also want her to win as of this moment.

Erica: Heehee. BTW, I don’t believe that there were a lot of write-ins in the first season complaining about black and white people dancing together, as Nigel claimed. Or at least, I don’t believe there were more than there are now. I think the number of old-fashioned, racist psychos has stayed roughly the same, and even gotten more vocal in the last decade. Also I don’t believe that that many racist, old-fashioned psychos watch this show.

Kate: Yeah that was a SUPER weird comment from Nigel.

Erica: Kate’s in danger. The judges, I think, will save her.

Hailee (stage) & Virgil (street): Hip-Hop, choreo by Pharside & Phoenix

“Runnin’” by Noahplause

Kate: WAY way way way WAYYYY better than the first hip-hop routine. WAY.

Erica: Can we talk about what an interesting and gorgeous face Hailee has?

Kate: V. impressed. Go Hailee!

Erica: He and Jim (and now maybe Neptune) are the three boys worth watching so far. This was super fun and cute. And they stayed in character for the judging and results (they’re both safe because duh) and it was adorable.

Kate: Wholeheartedly agree.

Erica: The judges — Nigel, if SYTYCD has an anniversary episode twenty years from now, it will be the thirtieth anniversary show. Not the twentieth. Because you just had your tenth. And the Paula accidentally saying “package” thing was not that funny; it does not need a callback. Paula, they were robots. Not aliens. (Right?)

Kate: Right.

Team Stage: Contemporary, choreo by Jaci Royal

“For My Help” by Hayden Calnin

Kate: Another new choreographer? We also like?

Erica: Really a whole lot. I love it when the dances feel like an organic whole, you know? Not a series of tricks and moments. Amazing.

Kate: This was definitely the best Team Stage routine to date. The only thing that didn’t work for me was the lifting sequence — all these guys need way more partner practice!!!

Erica: The girls are just killing it this season. Every season, it feels like the girls’ talent pool is deeper, but this season more than any other.

Team Street: Hip-Hop, choreo by Marty Kudelka

“Break Ya Neck” by Busta Rhymes

Kate: Really great routine for all of them, played to all of their strengths and you could tell how excited they all were to do it. Everything in this routine seemed to come very easy and naturally to them.

Erica: I really loved tWitch explaining what OG means. I thought this routine was cool, but it also showed that Team Street — even the girls, to some degree — are better individual dancers than they are at working as a group. It was clear that they enjoyed doing this routine, though.

Kate: And Burim is going home, as deserved, although I don’t like what they are doing with Asaf here, and so is Moises. Byebye.

Erica: So this week, the two girls in danger are saved by Twitter, and two boys leave, and we now have an uneven number of boys and girls. I approve of this, as the girls are simply better. So join us next week, for more dance and gender analysis. Later, guys!

SYTYCD Season 12 – Top Twenty Perform; Two Are Eliminated

Erica: So something is becoming clear to me. They’re not partnering traditionally because we’re voting off one street and one stage dancer, not one boy and one girl. This is a move of which I heartily approve, because for a few seasons now, we’ve been very much feeling that the girls overall are better than the boys overall, and yet not-so-great boys have been staying while better girls have been packed off.

Kate: I also think I was wrong about them not learning other styles, and thank goodness because that is truly the heart of this show.

Erica: Anyway, to business:

Group Routine: Hip-Hop, choreo by Pharside & Phoenix

“Baila Como Yo” by District 78

Erica: So this was pretty weird. For those of you who read these recaps but don’t watch the show, first, why?, and second, thank you, and finally, let me explain what was happening on stage to the best of my ability. Which will be pretty poor, because I have very little dance or music vocabulary. So the guys are all in mariachi costumes and the girls are all in Latin ballroom dresses and everyone’s got their faces painted like those fancy Mexican skulls but the song is hip-hop but that sort of Latin-influenced hip-hop which I’m sure has a name. And they dance hip-hop and roughly half the dance is stupid and sloppy and the random flailing of arms looks a lot less cool than I think we’re supposed to think they are. And then there are some cute tricks, like when one of the guys flips through the held-out-in-a-circle arms of another. And the boys slide off the stage into the audience, which is always a crowd-pleaser. And then half the dance is actually really cool-looking and utilizes the group dynamic really well. I’d say more of the first half of the dance was stupid and sloppy-looking, whereas more of the second half of the dance was cool and interesting. But there was a mish mosh, really.

Kate: They were dressed as that Dia de los Muertos thing, which I am SO over. The girls looked sharp in the beginning but the rest was pretty messy. The boys just have no star power.

Cat Deeley’s Outfit

Erica: This is a no from me.

Kate: Too 80s cocktail party. Not v. flattering.

Erica: The dress conceptually is fine but looks ill-made. And I strongly feel that Cat’s hair should always be down unless there’s a really, really good reason to put it up, and this dress was not a good enough reason for me. And I do not like pink (her jewelry) with red (her dress) unless they’re really made to work well together, which these are not.

Kate: Yes, pink earrings with red dress = BIG NO. Red shoes too matchy-matchy.

Erica: PS. Do not Travis and tWitch look ridiculously happy to be doing this?

Kate: I mean, wouldn’t you be?

Erica: Yes. And we’re doing something about the 10 years of SYTYCD and all the Emmy nominations they’ve gotten. Good job, guys.


Erica: Seriously, guys. It’s time to bring Mary Murphy back. Also Nigel has some sort of honor from Britain. Order of Merlin, First Class? Something like that.

Kate: I now understand that reference! :)

Erica: YAYAYAYAYAY! So now there will be three street and three stage dancers in danger. YOUR TWEETS can save one street and one stage dancer; the judges will save one street and one stage dancer, and then the last two get the boot.

Darion (stage), Hailee (stage) & Yorelis (street): Salsa, choreo by Jonathan & Oksana

“Blucutu” by Saamara

Erica: I am a fan of trio ballroom. Just, as a general rule. Also I am becoming a fan of Hailee. Who is gamely wearing the same outfit that she wore last week.

Kate: Yes, I love her.

Erica: The girls were definitely more impressive than the boy. I liked Hailee best but Yorelis may be one to watch out for, too.

Kate: Me too, but Darion effing up that lift ruined Hailee’s mojo a little.

Erica: Overall, I liked it, but there were points at which the tricks just weren’t working that well. Even the cool one they teased during the rehearsal footage, where Darion leaps over Yorelis and sort of lands on Hailee looked a bit belabored. And one of the lifts the judges called out for being disastrous but I’m not exactly sure which one.

Kate: The one I just mentioned.

Erica: Oh, and Cat’s giving results throughout, so Darion’s in danger, but both girls are fine.

Ariana (street) & Derek (stage): Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper

“Cry Me a River” by Michael Buble

Erica: So, Ray Leeper said that this was about two people experiencing grief and loss together. But I really felt that the sharpness of the choreography and the costumes and makeup (face paint tears) made sort of a joke of grief. Maybe it’s just because we as a family have been through a lot and I don’t feel very ready to laugh about grief.

Kate: I just didn’t think they were very sharp, even stagey Derek in some parts. Two all-stars would have killed this routine.

Erica: I mean, the choreography was cool and I thought they danced it very well. I was just set up for one thing and ended up comparing what happened on stage to that thing and being disappointed. Well, they danced it well, but their movements didn’t really match. She was much more flowy and he was much bigger. I mean, his movements were much bigger.

Kate: She was not good at all toward the end, seemed to give up on the movement.

Erica: Every time Paula Abdul said “I really do,” I thought she meant, you know, “Bless your heart.” And Nigel of course had to be all “Ariana, you’re brown and yet you can dance like white people!”

Kate: Oh, I’m shocked that Jason DeRulo wants to mirror what Paula said!

Erica: They are both in danger, btw. And I am saying nothing at all about the Degree infomercial in the middle of this.

Alexa (stage), Megz (street) & Virgil (street): Contemporary, choreo by Dee Caspary

“Until We Go Down” by Ruelle

Erica: So these three I thought were amazingly in sync. And I really liked the choreography. I’ve liked Dee Caspary before, so I wasn’t surprised, but I thought this was pretty neat. And Virgil had amazing chemistry with his two female partners last week, too. I think he’s in the top for boys.

Kate: How could you tell they were in sync when they were constantly doing different choreography? I definitely felt the emotion and energy and saw a good deal of skill but as a whole something was just off for me.

Erica: Because they appeared to be dancing like each other, if that makes any sense. Like they were part of a cohesive whole. Nigel speaks out against his haters. You do you, Nigel.

Kate: Always.

Erica: All three of these guys are safe. Ryan Seacrest has a new show. He goes trick or treating with Ariana Grande? I don’t know what’s happening. I don’t care.

Burim (street), Edson (stage), Gaby (stage) & Lily (street): Bollywood, choreo by Dev Nahul Mahajan

“Dhol Bhaje” from the Ek Paneli Leela soundtrack

Erica: So that was super-fun and adorable.

Kate: I love Bollywood so much. I’d love to learn a routine.

Erica: I thought they were all very sharp and precise. I mean, I’m sure people who’ve spent their lives practicing this style are better. But I thought they were really pretty great. They definitely embraced the spirit of the dance.

Kate: No, Burim was horrible. Absolutely zero sharpness. The other three were as good as non-professional Bollywood dancers can be.

Erica: If you say so. Lily is in danger. The other three are fine.

Asaf (street), Kate (stage) & Neptune (street): Broadway, choreo by Spencer Liff

“All About That Bass” by Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox feat. Kate Davis

Erica: You’re so right; Asaf has a terrible attitude. Oh, my God, I would cry if I was getting this dressing-down from tWitch. I mean, tWitch is 100% right to be giving it. But I would cry.

Kate: I am just not a fan of them focusing on developing his character throughout the season. All I care about is if he’s a good dancer.

Erica: So I think Kate is a star and I really liked this routine. I thought Neptune was a little too loose, and didn’t hit all his cues, and Asaf looked very uncomfortable in his suit. And the thing is, the routine was super cute. But only Kate was really selling it.

Kate: We disagree on this one — this had the potential to be great, but the three did not vibe off each other and Kate seemed a little dead inside. I disagreed with the judges about her wholeheartedly last week, but this week I saw it — she has amazing technique but no pizzazz. She needs to pull that out quick or she’s going home.

Erica: Neptune is in danger; Kate and Asaf are safe. Asaf should thank his lucky stars and cute face; I think the judges would give him the boot if they could.

JaJa (street) & Jim (stage): Hip-Hop, choreo by Christopher Scott

“No Woman No Cry (Live)” by Bob Marley and the Wailers

Erica: tWitch promised us a “staple of the season” and I gotta say, I don’t think he’s wrong. Both of them gave great performances. Both of them were incredibly in sync. The choreography was fantastic and really utilized hip-hop dance with a slow reggae ballad. And they danced like it really was a perfect fusion of ballet and hip-hop — not piecemeal fusion, like, oh, this move looks hip-hop and this move looks ballet and we put them both in this dance, but a genuine fusion. I’m really, really impressed.

Kate: Well, Jim is 10000% Alex Wong part two. This was amazing and definitely my favorite so far, except for the music. I love that song but it really threw me off as a hip-hop dance song. Their movements were absolutely perfect together.

Erica: Nigel is getting all emotional about how this dance is basically the apotheosis of this show and I can’t even make fun of him. Because he’s not wrong.

Kate: But like, why so emotional Nigel? Crying???

Erica: But seriously though. Paula and Jason are contributing absolutely zero in terms of critique. They are just empty bodies making mouth noises. Where is Mary Murphy? Nigel, what did you do to her? Can we have Christina Applegate as a permanent judge? What’s she up to? What about Adam Shankman? I like him better as a choreographer than as a judge, but I’ll take him. Hell, I’d take Li’l C at this point. At least he has, like, a distinct personality.

Kate: At this point I’ll even take Mia Michaels.

Erica: They’re both safe, by the way.

JJ (street), Marissa (stage) & Moises (stage): Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper

“I’m So Sorry” by Imagine Dragons

Erica: Oh my goodness Moises is giving off the least sexual energy of anyone I’ve ever seen ever.

Kate: Again, this had so much potential to be good, but even the girls let me down here. They were not nearly fierce enough, smiles or not.

Erica: “Marissa, we gave you a super-sexy number but you were too sexy in it. So please be less sexy the next time we have you dance in black lingerie. Okay?” By the way does she not occasionally look like Sophia Bush?

Kate: Yes she does.

Erica: First of all, I thought Marissa was the one to watch in this piece. No one else had her stage presence.

Kate: I feel like the judges got in her head about the sexy thing and she held back too much in this, but she was better than the other two.

Erica: That said, I didn’t love this number. I thought the choreography was not that interesting and followed this very frequent “sexy pissed woman” thing. And they gave Moises jetes because he can do jetes, not because they made any damn sense.

Kate: And they also taught Jason DeRulo to say “jetes”.

Erica: Then the judges talk a bunch of nonsense about their facial expressions. It’s the weirdest. “Don’t smile; smiling doesn’t make sense. Smile; don’t keep your face the same. You should smile but something else that makes no damn sense.” It’s very weird.

Kate: #Dontlistentothejudges, Marissa!

Erica: Moises is in danger. The girls are safe. And when they come back from the break we learn that Team Stage is in the lead.

Team Street: Hip-Hop, choreo by Christopher Scott & Season 5’s Phillip Chbeeb

“Time” by Nathan Lanier

Erica: I saw the seesaws and decided this was either going to be amazing or stupid as shit.

Kate: The seesaws made me very nervous, and what’s-his-name almost fell on them right in the beginning.

Erica: And can we talk about how much more focused and skilled the girls are, even just in the rehearsal footage?

Kate: Girls rule and boys drool!

Erica: I really do think Christopher Scott is pretty brilliant. The kids are in these almost steampunk suits and the music is weird and creepy and the choreo is pretty amazing. And the girls rocked it.

Kate: I liked it but not as much as last week’s Team Street routine.

Team Stage: Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

“Stabat Mater” by Woodkid

Erica: It’s still the girls. I think the gender divide is less obvious on Team Stage than it is on Team Street but it’s there.

Kate: Kate SHINED here. Shined. Thank goodness.

Erica: And these costumes are sort of post-apocalypse steampunk. There’s too much flailing for the cameras to keep up in a meaningful way. Which is not a criticism of the dance itself. The dance is actually pretty amazing. The sort of contrast between sharp and flowing movements and the organic togetherness of the group is, you know, cool.

Kate: The costumes reminded me of a Covet style challenge.

Erica: So just for the record, of the six on the bottom, four are guys and two are girls. Twitter has saved Neptune and Moises. Oy. Neptune I can see has some potential, but Moises? I don’t know, man. Lily is working so hard not to freak out on stage. And then some very weird thing happens with the cameras — we see a staged shot of Team Stage, and then we’re out and up on the stage with a strange voice that’s probably someone in the control room, and then we’re out to commercial. Weird.

Kate: Yeah, Fox effed up a little. And I did not think Lily deserved to go home.

Erica: The judges are saving Derek, who I’d swear on my life I’d never seen before except obviously I just watched him in this show, and Ariana, a decision I support. So, goodbye Darion, I hardly knew ye, and goodbye Lily, I don’t think I much liked you.

Kate: They’re doing a special show tomorrow to celebrate 10 glorious years of this fabulous show, but we are only watching not blogging. We’re back next Tuesday after the Top 18 perform and two more are eliminated!

SYTYCD Season 12 – Top Twenty Perform

Kate (pretending to be Cat Deeley): WELCOME to SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE, SEASON 12!

Erica: OMG you guys I’m so excited.

Kate: Let’s recap for our readers, especially those who (like you, Er) missed auditions and Vegas: This season, since no season can be the same anymore, they are doing the top 10 “street” dancers versus the top 10 “stage” dancers, which really means hip-hop/krumping/popping/locking vs. ballet/contemporary/ballroom. Street’s “captain” is Twitch, yum, and Stage’s captain is Travis Wall, also yum.

Erica: So I’m pretty sure I just saw Travis walk into a dance studio with the 10 stage dancers, and then Twitch let the street dancers out of a cage. And then they put them back in. That’s something that just happened? I’m not hallucinating? You know, I knew this whole stage/street thing was going to be an excuse to be even more racist/classist than usual, and I was right.

Kate: Also, just to continue the recap, we desperately miss Mary Murphy, as Paula Abdul can barely clap her hands and string two sentences together let alone judge a dance competition. And if you thought Lil’ C was the worst male commentator of all time, you are sorely mistaken; that title now belongs to Jason DeRulo. Worst.

Erica: Jason DeRulo is one of those people towards whom I just have an “uch” reaction. I don’t know anything about him personally, but every time I see his face or hear his voice, I’m like, “Do not want. Do not want!” I feel the same way about Sienna Miller and Kirstie Alley.

Cat Deeley’s Outfit

Kate: How very architectural.

Erica: That is not for me. It looks like she already had a wardrobe malfunction and they were like, “Okay, let’s just throw this white piece of cloth we had lying around the costume shop over her black tube bra thing and it’ll be fine.”

Kate: I’m a fan, it just looks quite uncomfortable. And she is keeping her arms very close to her body, which makes me think she is actually scared of a malfunction.

Group Routine: Stage & Street, choreo by Christopher Scott & Jessica Lee Keller

“Revolt” by Nathan Lanier

Kate: This was not at all sharp enough for me. Especially the guys.

Erica: You are right. And it was really just a big mish mosh. An impression not helped by the super-swirly cameras.

Kate: It just looked to me like they didn’t have enough time to practice, but it may also have been sloppy choreography. Have we ever seen this Jessica Lee Keller before?

Erica: Not in my memory. I think in this instance it was both. The choreography wasn’t really doing anything, and the dancing did appear somewhat tired and off.

Street Routine 1 (JJ, Megz & Neptune): Hip-hop, choreo by Dave Scott

“The Illest” by Far East Movement feat. Riff Raff

Kate: Also not clean enough for me, especially Neptune.

Erica: Yeah, Neptune is not as good as the two girls here. He looks sloppy. It’s weird that Dave Scott was like, “I want to bring out his personality,” and then Nigel said the same thing, and all I see from him is personality. Not, like, technique.

Kate: I do really like JJ, though; during auditions and Vegas she had this extra jazzy little hip-hop flavor which made her stand out from the rest. I think that worked well for her in this routine, but she still has some work to do.

Erica: I really liked JJ. I can’t wait to see her ballroom. It’ll be interesting. Megz will be interesting, too. But JJ was the one drawing my eyes.

Stage Routine 1 (Derek, Gaby & Moises): Contemporary, choreo by Stacey Tookey

“Luminous” by Max Richter

Kate: Gorgeous. Beautifully synchronized lines all over the place. MUCH better than the first two. Want her dress.

Erica: Did someone walk in front of the camera for a second there?

Kate: Holy cow, I forgot that Gaby is a tap dancer! Oh she’s already a frontrunner, fo sho.

Erica: Her feet are amazing. I mean, as if I know anything, but they looked amazing to me. And this was a very pretty routine. I really like Stacey Tookey. She’s like a soothing balm.

Street Routine 2 (Asaf, Burim, Jaja & Lily): Hip-hop, choreo by Christopher Scott

“Easy” by Son Lux feat. Lorde

Kate: This group was much stronger than the first, for the most part, but I think the choreography played more to their individual strengths.

Erica: Okay, so I think Asaf is my dude this season.

Kate: NO WAY. He had MAJOR attitude in Vegas, he needs to check that before he gets a fan out of me. I’m not sure how I feel about him coming in at the last minute after someone else got hurt. I also don’t know how I feel about Jaja coming back, I didn’t love her during last year’s auditions.

Erica: Oh, he did? That’s a shame. He’s super-cute. Also, holy moly, those girls have ABS. I really loved the choreography on this one. And they kept up with it, so go, them.

Kate: …Did Nigel just say “shalom” to the Israeli guy? Is that offensive?

Erica: I mean, it is Nigel. So let’s go with “yes.” Even though I can’t actually come up with a reason why.

Stage Routine 2 (Alexia, Hailee & Marissa): Jazz, choreo by Brian Friedman

“New Dorp. New York” by SBTRKT feat. Ezra Koenig

Kate: “Women can be strong and women can be dominant” …while dressed like actual whores, eh, Brian Friedman?

Erica: I’m getting into your head! You’re caring about things like this! I love it.

Kate: Theme/message/costume aside, these three were great together. I like the first stage routine better as a whole, but Hailee is super fun to watch. It makes sense that she was front and center most of the time.

Erica: I thought it was mostly awesome, although there were a few moments here and there that they looked like, “Oh, we’re supposed to be here right now.” But overall I really liked the routine and the three of them. I’d love to see the three of them dance together more often.

Kate: …Did Nigel just say it was TOO sexy? Did hell freeze over?

Erica: That was a pretty weird comment, that they weren’t subtle and sly enough, that they were too overt about the sexuality in a dance where they were all wearing black underwear. And then Paula and Jason agreed. I actually thought their performance was about the right level of sexy. I mean, if you want dancers who can do subtle, sophisticated, mature sexy, then why do you keep pulling eighteen-year-olds into the competition?


Stage Routine 3 (Darion & Jim): Ballet, choreo by Benoit-Swan Pouffer

“Blood and Stone” by Audiomachine

Kate: I have to agree with Nigel in the most non-racist way possible: Jim does remind me a lot of Alex Wong. He’s incredible. I hope he does an amazing hip-hop routine with Twitch too…Hey let’s watch that dance for the 100th time!

Erica: It’s not an SYTYCD season until we link to that routine, people.

Kate: I think Darion was messing up a little, though, or the two of them were just not in sync a lot. They could both use more practice partnering.

Erica: I just couldn’t take my eyes off their thighs. And I don’t mean that in a gross way. I just have some much respect and awe for these dancers, for the kind of discipline they’ve applied to be able to move like this.

Kate: Also, could he have picked a worse song for ballet? Ew.

Erica: Oh, I thought it was fine. But Paula? It’s not the first time SYTYCD has had two ballet boys.


Erica: Daniel and Chehon, Season 9, remember? And I kind of thought their costumes were cool.

Street Routine 3 (Ariana, Virgil & Yorelis): Hip-Hop, choreo by Pharside & Phoenix

“Locked out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars

Kate: Oooooh very strong, these three have great chemistry together. This is my favorite of the night, despite the song (artist) choice!

Erica: This was so silly and cute and, yes, the three of them appeared to be, like, three friends in a Disney channel movie who were having a sleepover and broke out into a dance break. I pretty much loved it. On the subject of Bruno Mars — I was kind of convinced that this was an actual ’80s song I’d heard a million times before, and then, no, it’s Bruno Mars, which means that he is achieving what he sets out to achieve. I don’t love his voice, and you don’t love his personal history, but I respect his ability to fulfill his ambitions.

Kate: They missed a few transitions and were off a few times, but for the most part they were really great to watch. Yay #TeamStreet!

Erica: I think Nigel imitating Jason DeRulo was more offensive than him saying “Shalom” to Asaf. You know, if we’re keeping score.

Stage Routine 4 (Edson & Kate): Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

“Shaped like a Gun” by Tailor

Kate: Ooooh I love destructive relationship routines. So much angst.

Erica: She was so smooth. And he was so strong. This was so pretty.

Kate: May have to change my previous statement about Street Routine 3 being my favorite, as this blew me right the f away. This is a routine we’d usually see in, like, the top 8. Brilliant, absolutely perfect, wholeheartedly disagree with the judges, ⅔ of whom I am probably more qualified to judge than.

Erica: I mean, Travis, man. Travis. I sort of see what Nigel was saying about the performance. But the dancing was so amazing that I didn’t care that much.

Kate: If this show is just turning into a platform for Jason DeRulo performances, I’m going to be very angry. I’M STILL GOING TO WATCH, but I’m going to be very angry about it.

Erica: I love Tivo. That is all.

Team Stage Routine: Broadway, choreo by Warren Carlyle

“Body Language” by Queen


Erica: And? Were you better than them?

Kate: Probably not. They were a little shaky, especially with the props. I’m tellin’ you, as a whole, Team Street is stronger than Team Stage. Gaby and Hailee are the most fun to watch of this group, I hope they go far.

Erica: I thought it was pretty adorable. I mean, you’ve got a choreographer who says, “I want to do it like Fosse but a little more modern,” I’m there. And then set it to the same song that Pasha and Sara did their adorable suspenders routine to? Yes. This is Erica candy. I think it’s mostly that the girls are standing out, on both teams, not that Street is better than Stage. But we’ll see.

Team Street Routine: Hip-hop, choreo by NappyTabs

“Ready Or Not Here I Come” by District 78 feat. Cheesa


Erica: Okay, I think we’re both right. Street is superior to Stage (maybe), AND the girls are better than the boys.

Kate: I’m cool with that. They were so together and so energetic, I really love this group. JJ stands out for me a lot.

Erica: I think she stands out for the choreographers, too. I mean this was pretty much fun, like NappyTabs routines tend to be. I actually thought in some places they were not as together as I would have liked, but I still enjoyed the routine, and their personalities.

Kate: That’s all folks, tune in next week for the first eliminations/top 18 perform! …Hold on, Cat said “new groups”. Are there no partners AT ALL this season???????

Erica: I don’t know that I’m against that. I enjoy the group routines and the choreographical creativity that comes from not just putting them in boy-girl pairs.

Kate: Ok, I just have no idea what’s going on this season. I also think the teams will never have to learn the other teams’ styles, which I am even more against, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing,” Episode 1.13, “Take Out the Trash Day”

In case you’ve forgotten, I do, in fact, love this show. It has become a ritual now that when my dad visits, we stay up late watching and eating ice cream. Sometimes, it’s ice cream I made, like the brown-sugar-bourbon ice cream I made him last time.

But loving and criticizing are not mutually exclusive activities! 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.
  13. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! – A display of homophobia

And a ! for every piece of evidence that Toby and C.J. are FwB, and a TNFTS for every time the boys are Too Noble For This Shit.

Last time on “The West Wing”: evil-looking dudes had records of Leo McGarry in a rehab facility, even though that shit is supposed to be confidential; C.J. made out with Danny; Leo made a public statement about his addiction.

It’s Take Out the Trash Day! C.J. is in the press room, telling the press that, weather permitting, they’ll be in the Rose Garden, and “weather permitting” means “not actually precipitating.” The reporters are unhappy because it’s going to be cold but the president ain’t trying to hear that, or so he told C.J. He is a hardy New Englander, gosh darn it! C.J. goes on to say that there will be 15 bill-signing souvenir pens, and Danny wants to know how, since Josiah Bartlet only has 13 letters. But he’ll use separate pens for dotting the i and crossing the ts. C.J. calls Danny “freak-boy” for asking, because that’s how you show affection in an Aaron Sorkin teleplay.

C.J. goes on to announce that the parents of Lowell Lydell will be at the signing, and, as Mandy begins to hover ominously, a reporter expresses surprise. Apparently there’s a rumor that the Lydells don’t support the president, even though the president is signing a hate-crimes bill, and Lowell Lydell was beaten and killed for being gay back in episode 10. Got to give them points for continuity here. C.J. dismisses the rumors of non-support, even when another reporter seconds it. C.J. promises that the Lydells are coming and will be available to the press. Mandy, in I guess the control room?, looks chagrinned.

We move to the control room, or whatever that room is, as C.J. gets off the podium. She and Mandy pedeconference through the C.J. area while Mandy says she wishes C.J. hadn’t promised the press the Lydells. Mandy is feeling uncomfortable because Jonathan Lydell, the father, “doesn’t say much.” C.J. thinks that’s a ridiculous concern. I think it’s a ridiculous concern to be bringing up after the briefing rather than before, and I have to imagine that Mandy knows when C.J.’s briefings are, but never mind, the Bechdel test is being passed! C.J. and Mandy are talking about their job! Well, they’re talking about a man, Jonathan Lydell, but still! Right? -10

Then C.J. talks to Carol, thanking her for the bit about dotting the i and crossing the ts, which is also a Bechdel pass (but the rules that I made up are, only one point for or against in any given episode) and then immediately chastises her for misspelling “Senator.” Sadly I have to give a -5 for that one because while a female underling is experiencing her boss being rude to her, that boss is also female. Oh, C.J.

Josh comes in to C.J.’s office and C.J. correctly assumes that whatever he’s coming in for, it’s going to involve her staying late. “I’m a woman in her prime, Josh,” she says, which is interesting, because at no point do any of the men who work here ever object to staying late because it’s putting a crimp in their love life. Even the one who’s getting divorced as a result of it. In fact, Leo even used Sam’s love life to make a point about how sometimes you gotta work late, and Sam never objected, even when he discovered that it was all a ruse. 2. Josh does not care about C.J.’s love life, but cares about everyone else’s – he wants C.J. to read a report about how abstinence-only ed doesn’t work. The White House is trying to pass a bill to get more teachers on the ground, but some in Congress want to stipulate to that bill that the sex ed classes in the schools that benefit be abstinence-only. It’s one of those situations on this show where it becomes easy to forget that this aired a decade and a half ago. C.J. complains that she would have no trouble passing an abstinence-only class, which, still a 2, but also, hah. Josh leaves on, “By the way, pages 27-33? A couple things every girl should know.” And he smirks. And I am simultaneously offended and amused, as I so often am when it comes to this show. But it gets another 2. I know it’s a stretch, but I don’t care. I’d be happy to debate this point in the comments.

Credits. Rob Lowe for real does not age.

Danny comes in to C.J.’s office and asks what she’s up to. He’s excited by the answer (reading a report on sex ed) because everyone who works here is thirteen. He wants to get dinner with her and insists they have to go on a date sometime; C.J. can’t just keep grabbing him and kissing him. Really, Danny? The first four months of my relationship with my husband consisted of me grabbing him and kissing him. It works out sometimes, is my point.

But Danny didn’t come to C.J.’s office to flirt. He came to ask her about an advance man for the vice president taking a Navy helicopter to Pebble Beach to play golf. When I first saw this episode, I did not understand what any of those words meant. I mean, I understood what they all meant individually, but strung together in a sentence, they did not make any sense to me. They make sense to C.J., though, who is shocked and dismayed and a little annoyed that Danny won’t give up his source, which of course he won’t. Then Danny claims that he has a pilot who sat around for “four hours” while the advance man “hit every sand trap in Carmel.” I am not terribly familiar with golf, but wouldn’t 18 holes take at least four hours to play even if you were really good at it?

PS. As a teenager, I was mortified when my dad took up golf. He didn’t take it up too seriously, just as a thing he had to do sometimes with his clients, but I still made fun of him mercilessly. But then he said, “Look, golf is a walk in a lovely park with your friends. Sometimes, yes, you have to swing a metal stick in the direction of the ball. But it’s that swinging of the metal stick that allows you to stay in that park all day.” So now, even though I don’t play or anything, I do get why people like it.

Oh, then C.J. grabs Danny and kisses him. I think she’s probably a very good kisser.

In the Josh section, Donna calls to Josh and then asks the person carrying food – who may or may not be Sam’s assistant whose name may or may not be Carol? – if Josh’s burger is burnt, because that’s the way he likes it. Yet another reason for me to not like Josh.

Josh comes by and asks if it’s burnt and then beckons Donna to follow him, leaving her to carry the food, which she points out. This is a sort of feature of liberal misogyny that I find interesting. “Look, I’m not going to be chivalrous and gentlemanly to you because feminism, right? You ladies don’t want that, right? Haha.” And then it’s the one example of “equality” they’re willing to actually, you know, perform. I might decide to give this a number; I know it shows up in Sorkin’s stuff a lot.

Donna wants to play exposition fairy by asking, “What’s Take Out the Trash Day?” 9. Josh explains that, if there are stories they don’t particularly want the press dwelling on, they dump them all on Friday. All at once, because if they’ve got x column inches to fill, they’ve got to divide that x by whatever number of items are being dropped; Friday because no one reads the paper on Saturday. Then Josh sends Donna to deliver C.J.’s salad.

Sam comes in to Toby’s office. Everyone’s office seems awfully dark, today, by the way, even C.J.’s, and she was reading a report on paper, so one might think she needed light. Sam is upset because some town in Alabama wants to get rid of all laws except the Ten Commandments. Toby doesn’t so much care and asks Sam what he actually wants. It turns out the Georgetown student newspaper wants to get Sam’s comment on a professor spouting stuff that right-wingers seem to think doesn’t make them sound blatantly racist – welfare, single moms, etc. They want Sam’s comment because Zoey Bartlet is taking the class. Sam is concerned that this might become a thing. Sam promises to talk to Zoey but doesn’t leave the room and Toby is annoyed until Leo calls them into his office. Leo also doesn’t care that much the town in Alabama that’s got Sam so steamed.

Josh is already in Leo’s (very dark) office, eating. Leo says this sex-ed report could not come at a worse time, since they want that teacher bill passed. Then there are some sentences exchanged about the thing with Leo and all the things these boys are too noble for. TNFTS!

A bunch of assistants are clustered around Margaret’s desk. The woman who may or may not be Carol is arguing with Donna about someone who knew something either “for sure” or “in her heart.” No, wait a second. C.J.’s assistant is Carol. And there’s the one played by Martin Sheen’s daughter, who may or may not be Bonnie. No, wait, I think the black girl who is sometimes near Toby is Bonnie. She’s not there. Whatever, Mrs. Landingham comes in and asks what they’re doing. Gossiping. As girls do. 4. Mrs. Landingham chastises them and leaves, at which point Donna and Not-Carol continue arguing. Josh comes out of Leo’s office and says, “Well. Here’s a group of federal employees.” Yeah, Josh. You were a federal employee when you were telling Dan about how C.J. likes goldfish. Or the times you were talking about Sam and his call girl. 5.

Donna peals off and asks if she can talk to Josh and Sam. In Sam’s office, Donna brings up the vice president’s advance man, whose name, improbably enough, is Chad Magrudian. I do love Aaron Sorkin character names. Especially tertiary characters. Apparently old Chad used to work for them, and was in the habit of using his “advance” trips to go have a good time then, too. Anyway, Donna brings it up because they know who leaked the story.

C.J. is reading on her couch with a blanket on her feet. She finally turns on the light behind her when Toby comes in to talk about Chad Magrudian, who, I swear, they only talk about because they want to keep saying that name. When Toby asks how C.J. heard about it and C.J. reveals that Danny gave it to her, Toby says, “As long as it’s not the other way around,” and then quickly insists it was a joke. 5, Toby. And 2. For real, dude. Saying it was a joke doesn’t really make it less rude. Also Toby tells her about Zoey. Aw, it’s really tense in here. Probably because their FwB arrangement is on hold while C.J. works out her shit with Danny.

For real, though, I can’t think of another reason for this scene to be there. Definitely bolsters my theory. !

Josh, Sam, and Toby are on the couches in the Oval. Josh is telling Toby that the leaker is one Karen Larsen. She worked on the Veep’s campaign and later in his publicity office, then was moved when the Veep’s aides thought she was getting a crush on Hoynes. 2. Toby instructs Sam to have a talk with her when he gets back from the Hill.

Leo and the president pedeconference through that outdoor hallway on their way into the office. They’re talking about bananas. Mrs. Landingham mistakes their talk of trade and bananas for the president wanting to eat a banana and orders an assistant to go get the president a banana, over his protests. Because men, they talk about important things like trade agreements, whereas women, they just want to feed and fuss over you, all annoying and shit. 4. Also 5 for the president rudely saying to Mrs. Landingham, “I’m done talking to you now.” Although, full confession, that’s sometimes how I end phone calls with my husband. But that’s because he’s really bad at taking hints. Hints like, “Okay, well, I’ll see you when we get home,” and “I can’t talk right now,” and “Seriously, I need to hang up the phone this very moment.”

In the Oval, Leo and the president continue to talk bananas while the senior staff minus C.J. wait for them to be finished. The president wants to talk to Toby about appointments to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that are being held up. Toby’s got a meeting and he’s all set for it, thanks. He was raised on Sesame Street and Julia Child and Brideshead Revisited. C.J., who has come in, laughs at Toby for having watched cooking shows. 4, C.J. Come on now. You don’t have to be one of the boys. Then Toby defends himself by saying, “I watched Julia Child,” which is a lot like guys who scoff at chick flicks but make allowances for When Harry Met Sally.

C.J. is being asked about the Lydells. Leo and the president think the father might be ashamed that his son was gay, even though said son is dead, which flabbergasts C.J., which, no. No, it doesn’t. 9. Because first of all, it’s actually C.J.’s job – and Mandy’s – to be attuned to these nuances, and usually, she is. And second of all, Leo and the president’s supposition that a person who “sells dental supplies in the Twin Cities” could not possibly be enlightened I don’t think rang necessarily true even back in the Dark Ages when this aired. Or maybe I’m forgetting exactly how far we’ve come.

C.J. also wants to talk about the sex ed report but the president hasn’t looked at it yet. Toby and C.J. leave and the president asks Josh and Sam to talk to him in the hall. He wants them to act to preempt a hearing to save Leo from the mud-dragging. Nothing that is offered as a deal should be rejected without talking to the pres! TNFTS!

The president goes back in to the Oval to ask Leo why he’s meeting with a Simon Blye. The president rejects Leo’s assertion that Simon is a good friend and is offended that Leo is not exclusively seeking counsel from within the West Wing. He advises Leo not to be so trusting. Leo agrees and urges the president to read the sex ed report.

C.J. approaches Danny and asks if they’re off the record. After some banter about whether they’re on the record or not which is only a very little bit charming and only because Allison Janney and Timothy Busfield are really pretty good at this. C.J. asks Danny if he thinks it’s possible that a man could be embarrassed about his son’s gayness even after that son has been murdered. Another 9, then. Danny says that it is, in fact, possible. I think making C.J. so astounded by what seems to be common perception is shitty, but I also think that the common perception is a little bit old-fashioned, even for 2000. It’s not that I think that it’s impossible that a father in 2000 might feel that way; it’s that I don’t think it’s as easy and obvious an assumption as the president and Leo and Danny are making it sound.

Danny wants to know about Chad Magrudian, and C.J. promises him the story, and Danny says, “So you’re dumping it with Friday’s trash?” Further evidence that the idea that Donna wouldn’t know is a little absurd and insulting. C.J. points out that it is, in fact, trash. Then there’s a moment where it seems like they’re going to kiss, even though she said they’re not going to kiss anymore, and then she tells him to go and he points out that this is his office and wasn’t there recently a scene where Danny had to tell C.J. that the room they were in was her office, like, why does C.J. need this kind of shit pointed out to her? It’s because girls are dumb, that’s why. Especially when they’re in lurve. 2.

Leo and Sam are on the Hill with Bruno and two other guys. This is not a legal proceeding, Bruno assures them, even though people in Congress want a legal proceeding, so, in order to avoid a legal proceeding, why don’t Sam and Josh tell him what’s up?

Margaret ushers Simon Blye into Leo’s office and it’s a total HITG! After two seconds of pleasantries, Simon offers to talk about Leo’s problems, and then I realize we’re doing a flipping back and forth thing between Josh talking to Bruno and Leo talking to Simon and I love this kind of thing as an audience member, but as a recapper, Jedediah Horatio Christiansen, is it irritating.

So Sam and Josh start telling Bruno about how Lillienfield announced that one in three White House staffers was on drugs, so Toby asked them to investigate-but-not-investigate what was going on. Then Claypool – the evil-looking guy from the previouslys, I think – subpoenaed the records of this not-at-all-an-investigation. Bruno has those depositions and wants to talk about them.

Back with Simon and Leo, Simon believes they won’t succeed in holding off a hearing and it’s all going to be awful. Simon thinks Leo should resign. But Leo tells Simon that the president is TNFTS! Leo correctly guesses that Simon’s got an Op-Ed in the next day’s Post that will say Leo should resign, and not so much because he cares about his country, but more because he wants to up his Q rating. (Leo doesn’t say Q rating. I am saying it.) Then Leo dings Simon for lobbying for an oil company, which, I’m not sure what that has to do with the price of tea in China, and also, Leo, I don’t think he can feel the sting of that comment through the layers of Benjamins. Although he claims to be insulted. And Leo doesn’t care and kicks him out of his office. Almost literally. Then Leo mutters, “Oh, God,” as the lights go down.

Back with Leo and Sam, we learn that Bruno will hold off on a hearing if they keep the lid on this sex ed report until after the midterms. Josh gets on his TNFTS horse and Bruno takes him down a notch. He calls them teenagers and it’s adorable. “I’d like to hold hearings into the two of you being stupid. But I don’t have that kind of time.” I want him to be on my dream spin-off with that retiring Supreme Court justice.

Toby is arguing with some people about PBS. They think it’s subsidizing television for rich people. Toby thinks it’s not. C.J. is with him but Carol comes by to call her out because the Lydells are here. C.J. asks Carol to get Mandy out of the Oval. So Carol and C.J. talked about Mandy. Very clear Bechdel test passing. But, as I said, Bechdel tests are pass/fail. This episode has already passed. No further points will be awarded.

The president is talking to Mandy about the sex ed report while Mandy takes notes. Other than the president being adorably grandpa-ish (“I’m not going to say that word.”), I’m not sure what the point of this is. But Mrs. Landingham comes in to get Mandy out to see C.J. and the Lydells.

Mrs. Landingham asks the president if he’d like to share with her what’s in the report, and he declines, because he’d rather not be in therapy for the rest of his life. I’m pretty sure this attitude is sexist so 5 but also it’s terribly childish.

Mandy and C.J. come in to meet the Lydells, who are in some beautiful room. As predicted, Mr. Lydell says very little until C.J. very uncomfortably asks if he’s embarrassed by his son’s sexuality and do they support the president? Mr. Lydell says they do not, over his wife’s objections. It’s not the hate crimes bill; he doesn’t care one way or another. But he’s pretty damn insulted that he’s being asked if he’s embarrassed by his gay son, when this president is taking such a “weak-ass position on gay rights.” You go, Mr. Lydell. He wants to know where the president is on gays in the military, same-sex marriage, gay adoption, etc. And I listen to this list and feel really good about how far we’ve come. Gays in the military? Check. Same-sex marriage? It’s coming. In about a month, right? Less? I don’t know where we are on gay adoption but maybe it’s next.

C.J. and Mandy step out. C.J. wants to let them talk to reporters and say whatever they’re going to say. Mandy is like, no fucking way, remember what our actual job is here? C.J. goes in to tell them they have to go home.

Toby is still with the PBS people. One of them calls Fozzie Bear Fuzzy Bear and Toby is incensed. Toby says, “At at time when the public is rightly concerned about sex and violence on TV, this administration is going to protect The Muppets! We’re going to protect Wall Street Week, we’re going to protect Live from Lincoln Center, and by God, we’re going to protect Julia Child!” I agree with the sentiment and Toby continues to be adorable but I’m not really sure what we’re doing here.

C.J. knocks on the door and Toby gets up to go talk to her. He tells her that Josh and Sam cut a deal on the Hill and there isn’t going to be a hearing. She’s happy because she doesn’t know what the deal is yet. “I gotta get back in there; this is too much fun,” Toby says and I love him so hard.

Cathy! Cathy is Sam’s assistant’s name. Cathy has been called in to Sam’s office so he can bellyache about the town in Alabama that wants to have the Ten Commandments be the only laws. Cathy is not super-excited to play. She says, “She’s here.” The “she” is Karen Larsen, better known to me as Paris Gellar. You know, she also had an arc on “Scandal” and looked exactly like a young Elizabeth Shue. Anyway, Sam invites her in and then accuses her of being the leak on the advance man. Then he reveals that he doesn’t care about the advance man, he’s looking for the leak on Leo. Which Karen did. She starts to say, “Mr. Claypool is a family friend,” but Sam calls for Cathy and instructs Cathy to take Karen to her office and stand there while she empties her desk. “Security’s gonna throw you out of the building in fifteen minutes,” he jaw-clenches at her, and then leaves the office. I’m sure my panties are supposed to be melting from the self-righteous anger of Sam right now, but I just kind of see a White House senior staff member threatening a kid. Who did something really bad, true. But a kid, nonetheless.

The president comes to Mrs. Landingham’s desk. “You’re not going to believe this but I think I’d actually like a banana,” he says to her. “I’m afraid not, sir, no,” she returns. He was snippy before and now he will not be getting one. You go, Mrs. Landingham. -5. I particularly like where he starts to argue and she, in her very even voice, is like, “Yeah, no. C.J.’s waiting for you.” Like, I’m sticking to my guns, not angry, changing the subject. It’s the kind of parenting I try to do.

C.J. wants to ask about the sex ed report and the president says they’re going to stick it in the drawer because it’s incendiary and it’s not going to go down well at PTA meetings. I think I should join a PTA. Or something. Because honest to God, I want my kid to get a fact-based, useful education, on all subjects, including sex ed. (The question did sort of come up, btw, the where do babies come from question, and I’ll admit, I didn’t get into it. But what I said was, “That’s a pretty long story, and I’ll tell it to you if you want to, but I’m not sure you have the attention to listen to it right now. Do you want me to tell you?” And she said, “Maybe later” and went back to her television show.) Anyway, C.J. protests, and the president yells at her, and it’s finally revealed that it’s the deal Josh and Sam made. C.J. says she understands but she is clearly pissed. Actually, I would describe her as disappointed.

C.J. is now sitting in a darkened back stairwell when Danny finds her. She almost leaks the Lydells but Danny won’t take it. Not from her, because he wants to make out with her more. Which is why it’s a bad idea for a press secretary and a reporter to date, on both their ends, but whatevs. He promises that if there’s a story, he’ll find it, but she says they won’t, because they’ve gotten very good at this. How good? He knows about the Friday trash dump. He knows the Lydells were supposed to be at the bill signing and now they’re not. How hard does he have to try to call them up and ask why?

Margaret announces Karen Larsen to Leo. She comes in with her box of office stuff and a suspicious expression. He says he wanted to meet her and have her meet him and asks if she’d like to talk for a minute. She doesn’t seem to, particularly, but she does put her stuff down. He asks her what she thought when she read in his personnel file that he had been treated for a drug and alcohol addiction. She won’t answer at first, but he says, hey, I’ve already fired you, what do you have to lose? So she says her father drank a lot. So did Leo’s. It’s a nice moment because it’s easy for young people to forget that old people were once children themselves and have, like, fathers and stuff. Anyway, Leo goes on to say that his father died as the result of his drinking. Well, he committed suicide, but while he was very drunk. “Is that why you drank and took drugs?” she asks. No, he says, he drank and took drugs because he’s an addict. She asks how he got cured and he says it doesn’t work that way. She doesn’t really understand the nature of addiction and Leo says it’s okay; hardly anyone does. He asks again what went through her head when she saw his personnel file, and she says she thought about all the important decisions he has to make. He says that what she did caused a lot of problems, “but I’m not sure it wasn’t a little bit brave.” TNFTS! He gives her her job back. Sadly, dear readers, this does not mean we will see more of Liza Weil in this show.

We watch from overhead Leo watching C.J. on his TV throwing out stuff with the trash.

I am 100% in favor of watching Toby yell at straw men about Julia Child, but this episode felt a bit flabby and unfocused. A bit like they were taking the trash out of the writing room.

Total Misogyny Points: 13

While the total count is low, I feel C.J. making fun of Toby for watching Julia Child is a sort of classic in the “This is what liberal misogyny looks like” field.

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin – “The West Wing,” Episode 1.12, “He Shall, From Time to Time…”

Okay, people. I’m having a super-shitty night. I’m chasing it with some bourbon & Dr. Brown’s cream soda and I’m going to take my anger out on Aaron Sorkin’s characters. I think it’ll make me feel better.

As always, 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.
  13. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! – A display of homophobia

Previously on “The West Wing”: Josh is ready to go to bat for Leo; C.J. for some reason felt romantic attachment to a guy who was being pretty shitty and oblivious to her (or, “Any Aaron Sorkin script ever”); Sam and Leo’s daughter Mallory had a similar obnoxious-off as related to dating (or, “Any other Aaron Sorkin script ever”); and we should all be very grateful that a rude, drunken British lord is on hand because brown people have weapons and that’s a disaster.

A chyron tells us it’s Monday night. The president is orating grandly to a room of senior staffers and presumably non-senior staffers. It becomes clear pretty quickly (in case the title wasn’t enough of a clue) that he’s practicing the State of the Union, which, it seems, is pretty good. The state of the union, I mean, not the speech. Although I’m sure the speech is fine. The president gets hung up on a fairly minor mistake that Toby points out, but he’s uncharacteristically non-combatative about it. Jed is actually looking kind of shitty and then he coughs a few times and the staffers look worried.

Josh and C.J. are watching him on a screen in another room – presumably to see how the speech looks on TV – and they agree that he looks kind of shitty. Josh wonders if the president’s glands are swollen. “Damn,” says C.J.

“What?” says Josh.

“You know what I forgot to do today?” C.J. answers.


“I forgot to feel the president’s glands,” C.J. answers, with A+ perfect deadpan delivery. I love you, Allison Janney. I want to drink bourbon with you.

Then Josh asks if her sarcasm makes it difficult for her to keep a man. A giant 2 and I think a 5, too, even though it’s still not clear to me that C.J. is Josh’s underling. I mean, she has to be, right? She’s Toby’s underling and Josh and Toby are at the same level. Right?

Anyway, they’re both concerned that the State of the Union is 44 hours away and the president doesn’t look so hot.

Isn’t the State of the Union usually on a Tuesday night? How is it Monday night and 44 hours away?

Back in the room with the president, who is back to his old self and being snotty about a couple of typos. Leo calls a break. Josh and C.J. approach and ask how the president feels. He wonders why everyone is bothering him about this and he’s fine and taking the pills that his wife gives him. Well, not so much taking them as carrying them around, which C.J. points out is less effective. I gotta be honest; I’m with the president here. Do you know how many times I’ve assumed that wondering really hard where my Advil bottle was located would in fact fix my headache?

The president continues to correct what I think is a typo but it turns out it’s, like, a policy thing – moderation has spoken, and we’re only supporting the American Dream for those “who work for it”. This being back in the ’90s when getting a job was possible! Not that Republican rhetoric has moved anywhere on these issues.

Josh also announces that the era of big government is over. When did this happen, Toby wants to know. Josh tells him it was this morning; they had a meeting. Okay, fine, Josh. Hah. I still hate you, but hah.

Toby wants to know why they’re offending poor people and Josh offends them some more by saying that poor people don’t watch “The West Wing.” I mean the State of the Union! They don’t watch the State of the Union! Silly me.

Toby says, “Alright, but when you get visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future, don’t come running to me.”

“Damn, Toby, because you were exactly who I was going to come running to.” You guys. You’re killing me. I’m trying to stay in my pissy mood and you’re making it really hard.

Toby also feels the president doesn’t look so hot. Everyone is nudging him. This is a lot like going to one of my family’s gatherings when I’ve got a bit of a head cold. Truth: As much as it used to annoy me, I would now give almost anything to hear my grandmother say to me, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, I don’t like the sound of that cough!” Though her husband and sons are filling in for her on that front.

Great. Now I’m getting maudlin. Moving on.

The president agrees to take his pills, with water from a pitcher given to him by some Christian association because he’s so not Scrooge, Toby, and goes into his office.

When he turns, Sam points out that they haven’t technically be invited to give the State of the Union, and that it’s protocol that they be invited by the Speaker of the House. Sam agrees to take care of it and they’re all giggling over the typos until they hear a loud crash from the Oval and rush in to find the president lying on the rug, passed out, with the broken pitcher of water next to him.

Very inspirational music! Damn, bourbon does make me kind of weepy. This is not working out really well for me.

In the Oval, a uniformed doctor is telling the senior staff the president has the flu but wants to take the president to the hospital anyway for some tests. The president doesn’t want to go and anyway, he has to go to the Sit Room.

Fitzwallace, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is exchanging some military info I don’t understand with other uniformed dudes. He doesn’t have the jacket of his uniform on, which I think in military culture is like being in yoga pants and a stained sweatshirt in the regular world. The president comes in and asks whether the Celtics won that night, because showing yourself to be cavalier in the face of the world going to hell in a hand basket is adorable and charming.

I cannot tell what is going on but as far as I can tell, the ceasefire is not going well. Fitz has a plan that I’m sure is a very good one and the president is going to bed. But not before he learns that the Celtics lost in over time.

Mandy and Danny are in C.J.’s office, flirting. C.J. comes in and she’s not amused. She sends Danny off. Mandy thinks it wouldn’t kill C.J. to be friendly to Danny and C.J. says it doesn’t seem to be killing Mandy. Rowr! Oh, you girls with your jealousy. C.J. claims to be kidding but I’m still giving this an 8. 

Mandy informs C.J. that the Leo thing – that he was once addicted to pills – is going to break tomorrow. Does this pass the Bechdel test? They’re talking about Leo. But to them, that’s work, not “a man.” But Leo is a man. And it’s kind of more about his personal shit and less about his professional shit. But it does affect both of them professionally. But the point is, their work lives revolve around men, right? Like, Leo can (and does) have any number of conversations with Josh or the president in which a woman’s name never comes up at all, whether in a professional or a romantic or familial capacity. Right. So no -10 here.

Margaret is asking Leo about the whole being-invited-to-give-the-State-of-the-Union thing and he’s being characteristically rude to her. 5. Then he tells Margaret to remind Josh about “picking a guy” and Margaret is uncomfortable about not knowing what that means and Leo is rude to her again. 5. He shoos Margaret out and the C.J. comes in. C.J. asks about the president and then says, “Leo,” and he concludes that the story is going to break. They say a few things to each other that basically indicate that they don’t need full sentences to understand each other, which was nice.

The president is in bed being treated by his military doctor. He’s on the phone about the speech and then Charlie is fussing over him. The president says, “This isn’t the worst of it. The worst of it is coming up the stairs right now.” He’s of course referring to his wife, because wives, they are the fucking worst, aren’t they? 4. The first lady takes the president’s charts from the military doctor and asks a bunch of questions and orders some treatments. The president looks utterly entranced by his take-charge wife. The first lady asks to be left alone with her husband and her husband flirts with her. Abby is worried and fussing, albeit in a has-an-actual-medical-degree way. She asks if it was like the time in Nantucket, in a way that makes us think the time in Nantucket is more significant than just the flu. I mean, I already know it’s more significant because I’ve seen this show before, but there’s definitely musical foreshadowing notes and, like, acting cues, so I’m not just reading what I already know into the scene. The president, after telling his wife about all the things that are happening and insisting that he could jump her right now, finally drops off to sleep, whereupon the first lady sinks into the chair that’s been placed next to her bed and looks sad and worried. It’s a nice scene of married people being realistic and loving to each other. But my practical mind is on her uncomfortable stilettos and her uncomfortable suit and that uncomfortable chair. The president is asleep now, Dr. Bartlett. Go get on your pjs and worry about him from the comfort of your bed.

A chyron informs me it’s now Tuesday morning. Josh is on the phone about the non-invitation-thing, which I thought Sam was taking care of. Donna comes in to tell Josh that Margaret asked Donna to remind Josh about needing to pick a guy. Donna is similarly annoyed that she doesn’t know what that means. Josh actually deigns to answer her. He says he needs to pick someone in the line of succession to not be in the building when the president delivers the State of the Union. Donna asks why. 9. Even Josh is shocked by this level of Exposition Fairy-ing and just says, “Donna.” Donna catches up and says, “In case someone blows up the building?” which is, yes, of course the reason. Donna wants to know who he’s going to pick. Josh asks who she thinks he should pick and she suggests herself. Josh asks where she thinks she falls in the line of succession and she says, “If someone blows up the Capitol Building during the State of the Union, I imagine I’d move up a few slots.” Line of the night. Also, for once, the interaction between Josh and Donna is coming off as genuinely friendly banter rather than Josh being rude and Donna being whiny, so A+ to both of them here.

Anyway, it’s not going to be Donna, it’s going to be Roger Tribby, the Secretary of Agriculture. Then Josh reminds Donna to be nice to Margaret and Leo since today is going to suck for them and Donna agrees and this conversation continues to be fine with me. Huh. Weird.

Josh goes in to Leo’s office, where he’s practicing his mea culpa with C.J. and Sam. They give him some practice questions and are surprised to hear that Leo still attends A.A. meetings. It’s going pretty well until Leo gets pissy and says he’ll be fine. Then Sam tells Leo that Sam wrote a draft of the president’s statement of support, which pisses Leo off because Sorkin Men are Too Noble For This Shit. Also Sam is Too Noble For This Shit. Leo sends them back to work with an order not to defend him.

Okay, now Abby is in bed with her husband although she’s still in uncomfortable clothing. She’s checking on him and he’s insulting her medical knowledge although it is really just cute marital banter so I’m letting it go. He wants to go back to the office and she says he can, knowing full well that he can’t even get out of bed successfully. He discovers this himself and lies back down while Abby smirks. Kindly.

We’ve got an overhead shot of Leo in a vestibule, which is interesting. Then Carol comes to call him in to the press conference. Leo makes his mea culpa statement and tells the press corps what we already know about his stint in rehab and his addiction issues. We fade away to a shot of the White House.

Donna and Josh are pedeconferencing about why the Secretary of Agriculture? Josh says because the other Secretaries (or some other Secretaries) are famous enough that they want the camera to find them. Donna is concerned. Josh is not, because if the Capitol Building blows up, he’ll be dead, too, and he won’t have to have Roger Tribby, Secretary of Agriculture, as his president. Their bickering is getting a little closer to their usual rudeness but not quite there.

Donna peels off and Josh finds Sam. They agree that Leo did well at the press conference and then Josh says he thought Sam’s statement for the president is great and it’s too bad no one’s going to read it. Sam says the president is, in fact, reading it right now. Josh observes that Leo is going to kill them and Sam does not care. And neither does Josh. Because they are TNFTS. That’s going on the list, not with the misogyny things, but with the exclamation point for C.J. and Toby. TNFTS!

We move into a meeting room with portraits of who I think are both Roosevelts. So I don’t think this is the Roosevelt Room but it seems to be Roosevelt Room of some kind. In the room are Toby and some people who are some sort of Democratic caucus but maybe moderate? Because they don’t like big government? Toby, as usual, looks like he’s playing Anywhere But Here in his head. There are two men and a woman as part of this group, by the way, and the woman just keeps smirking at Toby but not saying anything. 11. Toby wants very much to be done with these people and move on to the next group of people who want to complain at him, so he says, “Just pick a section.” They pick the NEA, which Toby informs the audience is the National Endowment for the Arts. He does not look pleased, but he does look resigned.

Leo’s working in a dark room with a TV behind him (a ginormous TV – ah, the year 2000). The TV is showing his press conference. Uncomfortable! Margaret comes in to announce Mallory. Mallory is very concerned and they share a moment. Then Mallory mentions that she’s seen the president’s statement of support, that it’s floating around the press room, and that it’s very moving. Leo is pissed. He leaves his supportive daughter to go yell at his supportive surrogate sons.

Sam and Josh are whining about Toby going to bat over the NEA when Leo comes in to yell at them. Josh is trying to be conciliatory but Sam is not. Because TNFTS!

Then an assistant – Bonnie? – tells Leo that the first lady is in his office.

Abby is indeed in Leo’s office bothering Mallory about her “itch” for Sam. Ew, that is a bad fucking choice of words, Sorkin. Leo comes in, Mallory leaves, and Abby talks to Leo about postponing the State of the Union. Leo asks what he should know that he doesn’t know. Leo points out that grown men don’t need their wives to cancel trips because of a fever, nor are doctor wives supposed to prescribe drugs or give shots to their husbands, as Abby is doing. Abby finally reveals that the president has MS, and tells Leo with tears in her eyes that a fever could be life-threatening. I forgot that this was revealed this early in the series; I thought we had a few episodes yet.

A soap opera is playing on a TV. The president asks Charlie if any of these characters have jobs. Charlie answers the phone and tells the president Leo’s outside. The president asks Charlie to step out, and Leo steps in. The president knows Leo knows and starts telling Leo about his MS stuff. Leo is pretty pissed about being kept in the dark about this, even going so far as calling Jed “Jed” and not “Mr. President.” See, Leo is upset that he couldn’t be there to support the president the way the president had been there to support him when he was going through his addiction stuff. The way Josh and Sam want to be there for Leo now. See how that all works? Character development, it’s a beautiful thing!

Toby is still talking about the NEA with the two men and the silent lady. One of the men becomes the idiot straw man who confuses Hart with Hammerstein and Arthur Miller with Arthur Murray, the former of which did in fact need the NEA – which was then the WPA – to write Death of a Salesman. He trails off and still they can’t even give that woman the line, “Toby?” What are they, depriving her of her SAG card? Toby announces that the meeting is over; apparently, he has a Plan.

Lord John Marbury is recommending Exotic Remedies from his Imperialist Travels in Asia to the president while pouring tea. Most of these Exotic Remedies are to be taken with a strong shot of whiskey. Hey, that’s my cold remedy of choice, too! Actually, my very favorite is a combination of what he recommends – my Aveda tea (which has licorice root, from his first remedy) or a ginger tea (ginger is his second remedy) with lemon, honey, and a strong shot of whiskey. Lord John Marbury, getting down to business, thinks you should just buy them off. Then he goes on about some bullshit colonialist imperialist shit that Britain used to do to keep those pesky brown people in line. I mean, for real. The president complains that the Indian ambassador paints him with the same imperialist colonialist brush as their mutual former colonial overlords, the British, and then takes advice from this Kipling parody of a British lord. I don’t even know what the fuck because I don’t know enough about these issues to speak intelligently about them but I do know enough to say BLERGH!

Anyway, Leo thinks Lord Marbury is a dumbass and Lord Marbury condescends to him and I think we’re supposed to be a little on Lord Marbury’s side here, but you know what? Getting a Cambridge education when you’ve got a British title impresses me about as much as the fact that George W. Bush graduated from Yale. And for the same reasons. Basically, he thinks we should pay for an infrastructure that would allow India a computer industry. Leo stupidly asks why they should pay to avoid war halfway around the world, which I have to give a -9, because come the fuck on, Leo knows this. They were all wringing their hands last episode about how nuclear war would affect everyone. But Leo is not a girl, so that’s why it gets the negative number. Lord John Marbury’s answer is that it’s the price you pay for being rich, free, and alive at the same time, and also for allowing the proliferation of nuclear devices to go on. Yeah, when Britain had an empire, they ran it right, damn it. I hate this dude and this plotline SO HARD.

Charlie ushers Lord John Marbury and Leo out and lets Toby in. The president describes an episode of Jerry Springer in as snotty a way as possible – because poor people are gross! – and then Josh comes in, apparently at Toby’s request. Toby wants to talk about the era of big government being not at all over, that they should be celebrating big government instead. Have I mentioned lately that Toby is my boyfriend?

A chyron brings us to Wednesday night. Josh, Sam and C.J. are in some room where drinks are being served and Josh is sing-songing, “You’re jealous ’cause Danny was flirting with Mandy!” The fuck? 2. C.J. is denying it and Sam takes this opportunity to complain about how unclear Mallory is being about her feelings for him. Because this is TV, at that moment Mallory walks up and asks Sam if he wrote the statement defending her father. He says yes and she gives him a big kiss. Right on the lips! Because if you do something good, women will offer you sexual favors! That’s how life works! 2. Then she leans in for a much sexier kiss and damn, I think Rob Lowe is a pretty good kisser. I mean, from how it looks on TV. C.J. peels away from this conversation to ask Carol to bring Danny to her office. I’m giving that a 2, too.

Abby and Jed are in the residence. Abby wants to take Jed’s temperature one more time and, as she fixes his cufflinks, he offers to let her take it recreationally. I’m pretty sure the president just suggested his wife peg him. Hey, you two get on with your bad selves; you won’t hear a word of judgement from me.

Oh, my God, Gail’s got her own little press secretary podium. (Gail is the goldfish Danny got for C.J.) That’s freaking adorable. Danny is playing with Gail’s little American flags when C.J. knocks. On her own office door. That is weird and deserves a number and I’m not sure which one so I’m going with 1. Danny is confused, too. C.J. calls her attraction to Danny “girlish” 4 and Danny tries to rush her along which is crazy rude and I guess I’ll give it a because even though C.J. is certainly not Danny’s underling, they kind of set up that vibe with her knocking on her own office door and waiting for Danny to give her permission to come in. Then C.J. informs Danny that she’s decided to kiss him to get him out of her system. I am an aspiring romance professional and avid TV watcher, so I know that’s a little bit of dramatic irony right there. They kiss, and it’s awkward because he’s a lot shorter than her and not a very good kisser, but she tries to sell it. Then she gets all flustered afterwards, still holding her fish bowl and then knocking into a door, and he’s condescending about it, so a 1 and a 5 and a general, “Hey, Aaron, most women don’t actually like it when guys are dickheads to them.”

Lord John Marbury and Abby are talking about cold remedies that involve shots of whiskey, and then the president and Leo present him with photos showing that his plans worked and Lord John Marbury actually remembers Leo’s name and then says he’s off. Bye, Lord John Marbury. Don’t let the White House door hit you on the ass on the way out.

The president and Abby walk into a room with a  bunch of staffers, where the president expresses gratitude for their hard work on his speech. “I say thee yea, Toby Ziegler, and I say thee yea, Sam Seaborn!” I love it when he goes all old-fashioned like that. Everyone claps. Charlie tells the president the motorcade is ready and the president goes to greet Roger Tribby, who is in the Oval. OMFG, it’s the Mayor! I mean, listen, I already knew it was the Mayor, because I’ve seen this episode 197 times, but the first time I saw it, I went, “OMFG, it’s the Mayor!”, and I wanted to recreate that experience for you. You’re welcome.

He has brought the president a copy of the Constitution in Latin, which is the perfect present for President Bartlett. IIRC, The Mayor was also pretty good at picking out presents for Faith. The president, at The Mayor’s request, translates the passage about the State of the Union, and they shake hands manfully. The president instructs Roger Tribby on what to do in the case of an actual emergency, and we see that Leo can hear him from the other room. After a bunch of stuff about national security, the president asks if Roger Tribby has a best friend, who is smarter than him, and with whom Roger would trust his life. To all of these, Roger answers, “Yes, sir.” The president says, “That’s your chief of staff,” and from the other room, Leo has feels. Then the president goes into toilets that need handle-jiggling and Charlie pulls him out. Inspirational music swells and Roger Tribby looks around the Oval Office, clearly feeling the power of those strings. (I don’t even know if what I think is strings is, in fact, strings. Musical theory is not my strong suit.)

Despite my bad mood and my harshness, the misogyny in this episode was pretty light, wasn’t it? At least, I didn’t feel the need to do mid-episode tallies.

Total Misogyny Points: 15

Yup, pretty low! Good job, show!

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin – “The West Wing,” 1.11, “Lord John Marbury”

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.
  13. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! – A display of homophobia


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

Previously, on “The West Wing,” Josh was riding to Leo’s defense about a pill addiction; Charlie and Zoe met cute; C.J. obnoxiously asked Danny on date and he obnoxiously accepted.

A chyron tells us that we’re at the National Reconnaissance Office in Washington Navy Yard. A nerdy due sits in front of many computers which looked old-fashioned to me. Then I remember that this aired in 2000 and probably didn’t then. Then I realize that a) technology is moving super-fast, like, for realz, and b) I am super-old. He calls another nerdy man over to look at a map on one of his screens. They zoom in on something and the first man claims that what they are looking is “two CVEs and four destroyers.” They look like dark smudges on the screen to me, but I am not a nerdy man at the Washington Navy Yard. The second man seems to think this means they need help.

Next we are at the Pentagon in Arlington, VA. A uniformed man says some military things to another uniformed man and a sweater-vested man. I am having trouble keeping up. I do recognize the word “Pakistan.” The second uniformed man says he’s going to call the C.O.s and the sweater-vested man is going to call the White House.

You can see the Washington Monument from his office.

Now we’re in the West Wing. Josh is trying to convince Donna to caddy for him. Donna, is he going to pay you? Because that’s totes not in your job description.

A schlumpy man in the foyer (?) is there to serve Joshua with a subpoena. Josh is predictably dickish to him. Then, without even asking, he signs the subpoena on Donna’s back. The fuck? I think it’s a moment that’s supposed to illustrate how seamless their work style is, but I’m reading this as, he’s literally using her body as an object of convenience. 1. It may not be comedy but it’s physical.

They walk away and Josh says he’s become a professional hostile witness.  Oh, you’ve been professionally hostile for a long time now, Josh. Donna wants to know if she gets to drive the cart. No. No carts. And no being paid. And he wants her to start practicing with the bags right away. 5. Seriously, Aaron, are we supposed to find Josh charming?

Josh walks in to the outer office of the Oval – the Mrs. Landingham area. She expresses sympathy about his latest subpoena and offers him a cookie. I want to give this some sort of number but I kind of find it adorable. Still, in the interest of fairness, I’m going to go with 2. Because Mrs. Landingham is being put in a primarily feminine role that has little to do with her job. (Usually two is for sexual/romantic roles being at the fore, but I think the cookies in this case serve a similar function.) Josh thinks he’s coming to see the president, but the president and Leo have gone to the Situation Room.

And now so have we! The president asks Fitzwallace what’s up, and Fitzwallace tells him that the Indian army has launched an invasion of Pakistan-held Kashmir territory. The president wants to know what “army” means – “Five guys and a Humvee?” Fitzwallace invites “Mitch,” the uniformed dude next to him, to tell the president what “army” means. He uses many words I don’t understand but the take-away is, no, not five guys and a Humvee. The president is pissed that the Indian army could have moved so many people/things without them noticing that India was preparing to do so. “All I’m trying to do right now, I’m trying to avoid making eye contact with the CIA director.” The CIA director concedes that they “dropped the ball.” “Pick it up again, would you, please?” the president replies, all restrained politeness. I’m pretty much loving Martin Sheen’s delivery in this sequence.

More words I don’t understand happen, the gist of which is, the ball is being picked up.

Credits! Moving music to remind me that this is a Very Important T.V. show!

Misogyny Points Thus Far: 3

Sam and Toby pedeconference in the outdoor-hallway-thing. Sam wants to know what the Pakistani ambassador has to say. Toby asks the legit question, “Our guy there or their guy here?” question, but I do have to note that there’s no question that it’s a guy. That’s probably accurate. But I’m in a mood so I think I’ll give it a 5. Because it’s rude to your female employees not to promote them. (Yes, I know that’s not how ambassadorship appointments work, but I don’t care.)

Turns out we don’t have one there.

Sam and Toby enter the Mrs. Landingham area as Sam notes it’s been over a year of not having an ambassador in Pakistan. Maybe that’s why they got invaded, Sam suggests. Toby infuses his “Yeah” with all the sarcasm I love him for.

Leo is explaining things to the president, Josh, Toby, and Sam. Not C.J., I’m noting. Josh is pissed about the CIA. The president informs them that the U.N. Security Council is having an emergency session to get a ceasefire. Toby seems to have little faith in the U.N. Security Council. Since I understand little about foreign relations and less about military stuff, I am focusing on grammar. Why is it CIA but U.N.? What determines whether a set of initials gets periods or not? Is this something I learned in 10th grade and forgot?

Anyway, the U.N. Security Council sucks, the CIA sucks, and a war between India and Pakistan would probably, eventually, go nuclear, which would suck.

C.J. enters. In a pink coat. Yeah, gonna give that a 2, too. Maybe I need a new number for “stereotypical femininity” but I’ll think about that later. They all turn and look at her like she caught them watching porn. Leo says she can tell the room there’s a full lid, and when she leaves, he promises to brief her in the morning.

And before you go all, “What do you have against pink?” let’s note that, obviously, in real life, a woman may or may not be wearing a pink coat at any given moment, and it would not say anything about her or her performance at her job or the perception of her performance at her job. But this is a television show, and they can control for all these details, and they do. This isn’t just the first clean coat C.J. found this morning, this is a decision made by the show runner, Aaron Sorkin, the costume designer, and possibly a bunch of other people. The decision to put her in pink at a moment when she’s very obviously not being trusted at her job – when she is the girl standing on the outside of a group of guys – was deliberate.

Zoe enters the outer office and smiles flirtatiously at Charlie. Then she totally asks him out and he is adorably awkward about it. Even I am not in a bad enough mood to give this exchange a 2.

The boys leave the Oval, and Josh tells Sam he’s been subpoenaed for the paperwork related to his non-investigation of drug use at the White House. Sam thinks he should bring a lawyer. Josh says he is a lawyer. Sam thinks he should bring a real lawyer. Teehee.

Mandy comes up behind them and asks to speak to Sam in his office. She wants to take on a “moderate-to-liberal” Republican as a client. So cute! The year 2000 – when our computers were enormously bulky and there was such a thing as a “moderate” Republican! She thinks Sam can help smooth this idea over with Josh and Toby because she feels Sam is the one of them that is more focused on getting the job done than beating the other guys. Hey, now. I think that’s way more true of Josh than it is of Toby. It’s a little true of Toby, but with Toby, it’s because of his lefty idealism. With Josh, it really is just because he wants to clobber them. Anyway, Sam says he admires her “pluck” 3 and she’d owe him one. She scoffs and he says, fine, they’ll be even. She still scoffs and he says that he’ll do this and many more favors until they are even. This was a fairly light scene in terms of 3s when it comes to Mandy, but I still have to give this last exchange a and an 8. The 8 especially because it is never explained what Mandy did for Sam that he would have this huge backlog of favors. So I’m just chalking it up to, “She’s a woman and women are irrational like that!”


Rob Lowe is crazy good-looking, btw.

C.J. is trying to send the press home but a journalist named Bruce says his source at the Pentagon told him about India. C.J., who doesn’t know about this, laughs it off. Toby, off to the side, looks guilty. As well he should.

Fitzwallace stands in front of a screen in the Sit Room, explaining things I don’t understand. Another guy reports on India’s prime minister’s speech about Pakistan’s thuggery and how they’re not going to take it. And a third guy says Pakistan basically feels the same way. They’ll get the nuclear briefings at 1500, or 3:00 pm.

Donna and Toby are pedeconferencing about Josh’s deposition. Toby also thinks Josh should bring a lawyer. He breaks from Donna and is escorted into Leo’s office by Margaret. C.J. is already there. In a pink shirt. Just saying. 2. C.J. asks if he knows what this is about. He says he does and tells her he stopped by her office. I guess he’s trying to set up that he was totes *going* to tell her. Because he’s her secret lover. ! Leo comes in and tells C.J. what’s going on. He’s very casual about it but C.J. looks crushed. She reminds him that he told her the lid was on just when this was all happening. Leo is unapologetic, even when C.J. tells him she got the question. He tells her to just tell the press she didn’t know and seems oblivious to, or at least uncaring about, the fact that the press thinking she didn’t know about is precisely the problem. Toby is not oblivious, though.

I am going to assign a 5 to this whole thing, but I also want to point out that, while the show seems to be supporting the idea that sometimes the press secretary has to not be told things and hey, bitches just shouldn’t get mad about that, it is also very much acknowledging the gendered imbalance here and the way C.J. has to swallow what is obviously a bullshit situation. So just one 5 instead of the barrage of numbers this storyline would be getting if they were not, in fact, trying to point out how fucked up it is.

A shot of city streets with the Washington Monument in the background indicates that we’re not at the White House. We are, in fact, at the deposition. Josh is being smug and unpleasant. So, you know, same old, same old. He insists his investigation was not serious and that there are no records. The guy questioning Josh asks if he told anyone he was coming to this deposition today and acts like it’s weird that Josh did. Wouldn’t he . . . have to? Because they’d ordinarily expect him to be at work? Also, isn’t it a deposition a matter of public record? Anyway, Josh is mad about this whole thing.

Two communications guys who I think we’ve seen before are giving C.J., Toby, and Sam the least helpful briefing possible, in that it contains information from a 5th grader’s report on India. C.J. is pissed and storms out.

Sam pedeconferences out of the room with Toby and brings up the Mandy thing. Toby is not pleased. They enter the Oval, where what I assume is the nuclear briefing is happening. A dude is talking about whatever systems India and Pakistan have. He says he’s getting to the truly terrible part, and Toby says, “Good. ‘Cause we were waiting for the truly terrible part.” That might be the line of the night. I also want to note that there has been this woman in the Sit Room both times and now here, wearing a truly hideous blazer, and she has yet to say a word. 11.

The people who are not senior staffers leave the room and the president says he wants to bring in an India expert. Leo asks who, the president doesn’t answer, and Leo, drawing the correct conclusion about who the president means, is not at all pleased, calling him a certifiable lunatic. He is, as you may have gathered, our titular character, Lord John Marbury, former British ambassador to India. “You’re really going to let him loose in the White House, where there’s liquor and women?” Leo asks. Ugh, Leo. 1 for women-as-objects. “We can hide the women, Leo, but the man deserves a drink,” answers the president. WTF? What on earth am I watching? How did this bit of dialogue get into a show written at the turn of the millennium? It’s something Spencer Tracy should be saying to a fuming Katherine Hepburn. 1 and and 5 and a giant Blech.

MPTF: 15

Then there is a kind of absurdly long and awkward shot of Toby and Sam leaving the Oval. I don’t usually notice things like that, but it’s pretty weird in a show that’s renowned for its on-point camerawork and pacing.

Sam still wants to talk to Toby about Mandy representing a moderate Republican. Toby is not interested. Toby wants to apologize to C.J. but Sam thinks that would be patronizing, and that not saying anything would show C.J. that Toby thinks of her as a professional. Oh, Sam. Toby ignores him. Rightly. But also because Toby isn’t (only) trying to mend their professional relationship. !

C.J. calls Carol in to her office to complain about a typo. I’m pretty sure this episode has just passed the Bechdel test. -10. Toby comes in and says, “I was warned that coming to talk to you might be insulting to your professionalism.” C.J. sarcastics, “Well, you wouldn’t want to do that.” Toby says it wasn’t ready for the press and C.J. rightly points out that they still should have told her because it undermines her credibility with the press when they know that she is not told important information. Toby says there’s a concern that she’s too friendly with the press. You know what? 2. Because they showed us in the previouslies about her asking Danny out. And they’ve showed us Danny scoffing at her reservations about dating him specifically because of their jobs, AND Josh gave Danny advice on how to get with C.J., EVEN THOUGH JOSH IS APPARENTLY CONCERNED ABOUT C.J. BEING TOO FRIENDLY WITH THE PRESS. Let’s give this another 2. What the hell, one more. 2. That’s one for the previouslies, one for Danny scoffing righteously, and another for the Josh thing. Blergh!

C.J. is pissed. “You sent me in there uninformed so that I would lie to the press.” Toby corrects her. “We sent you in there uninformed because we thought there was a chance you couldn’t.” BLERGH! I don’t have enough numbers. 11. And 7. And 5. And another 2 for implying that her flirtation with Danny would interfere with her ability to do her job.

MPTF: 21

C.J. is silent for a long, and really well-done moment, and she pretty much dismisses Toby.

Toby runs into Josh and advises Josh to take Sam with him the next time. Josh wants to know if C.J. is pissed and Toby confirms that she is. I’m giving this an 8. Of course she’s pissed, Josh. You guys don’t trust her to do her job.

Charlie announces to the president that the Chinese ambassador will be in the Mural Room in a few moments. Then Charlie asks the president if he can go out with his daughter. The president does not want to talk about it. I know that it might be considered incredibly sexist to ask a girl’s father if you can date her, but he’s also asking his boss if he can date his daughter, so I’m giving it a pass. Charlie leaves and the president mutters to Leo, “He wants to date my daughter.” Leo says nothing, but says it loudly. The president tells him to shut up. It’s kind of cute, even if I do hate the trope of fathers not wanting their daughters to date.

On further thought, I do in fact have to give this a 2 for that very dynamic.

The president and Leo enter the Mural Room and greet the Chinese ambassador. The president says they’ve got to work out a ceasefire and a pullback. The Chinese ambassador is like, yeah, totes, except we’re not letting India get away with this. The president and Leo make “Oh, shit” faces.

Monument. White House. Sam and Toby section. Mandy asks Sam if he talked to Toby and Sam is like, yeah, there’s no way. Josh comes to get Sam and Mandy asks Sam to talk to Josh. Josh is similarly not having this shit.

A Hey! It’s That Guy! is greeted by Leo and the president as Mr. Ambassador. They’re not in the Mural Room. It might be Leo’s outer office. This guy is the Pakistani ambassador. He’s got the coolest accent. Also, he’s pissed. He wanted the president to condemn India’s action more strongly. Other things are said that I’m not sure I’m totally following. I know that the president wants there to be peace, and this dude ain’t trying hear that.

The ambassador and his people leave, and the president tells Charlie he’ll take the Indian ambassador in the Oval Office. Is this seriously how foreign relations are conducted? The president going from room to room, exchanging a few unhelpful words with various diplomats? Charlie Yes, sirs at the president, and then the president says, “Then, if you could, ask the Secret Service to step in and kill me, please.” I know it’s kind of trite, but I love it when Jed complains about his job. Also, Martin Sheen continues to kill it.

The president complains again to Leo about his daughter asking Charlie out, and accuses Leo of “trying to cover up the fact that you’re enjoying this.” Leo says, “I’m not trying to cover it up at all.” Again, I hate the trope, but I love these actors and this banter is kind of fun. I gave it a number before; I’m going to leave it alone now. Leo asks if this is a racial thing and the president is offended. He claims he’s Spencer Tracy at the end of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. You all appear to be Spencer Tracy in this episode, Jed.

The Indian ambassador comes in. My first response is that he’s another Hey! It’s That Guy! and then I realize he is, in fact, Principal Figgins of “Glee”! “Kee-dollar-sign-ha!” Hi, Principal Figgins!

Anyway, the president tells the ambassador he’s a little pissed about them trying to invade Kashmir.

Then we’re with Josh and Sam at the deposition. There continue to be no records of Josh’s non-investigation. The guy doing the questioning brings it around to Leo, and Josh refuses to answer. Sam backs him up. The guy brings out a document about Leo that Josh insists was obtained illegally. Sam gets them out of there, saying they’re postponing the deposition. The guy insults Leo and Josh almost punches him. Sam stops him but calls the guy a cheap hack and threatens to “bust you like a piñata.” Okay, Sam. That is convincing. You are very tough and scary.

The Indian ambassador is kind of taunting the president, saying that India can’t be controlled by economic sanctions anymore. The president says India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and “a tendency to get cranky.” Whoa, talk about patronizing. The Indian guy is basically, “We are determined to remain POST-colonial.” Then he leaves.

Seriously, two sentences with each ambassador, full of posturing and bullshit, and then that’s it. For real now, is this the way we conduct foreign relations?

The president tells Leo that he feels like telling the Indian prime minister that America is also a former colony of Britain that “threw off its colonial masters”. Yeah, dude. Totes the same circumstances.

Charlie announces Lord John Marbury, another Hey! It’s That Guy! But not the guy who was in Showgirls and played Charlotte’s first husband on Sex and the City, like I always think he is. Lord John Marbury is soused, as we had been prepared to expect, and doesn’t remember who Leo is, despite having met him several times. This seems to be sticking in Leo’s craw. Lord Marbury calls Leo the butler and asks for a light, then gets shirty when Leo tells him he can’t smoke.

Lord Marbury promises that if he can help, he will. The president says “the world is coming apart at the seams,” and Lord Marbury says, “Well, then. Thank God you sent for me.” Leo and I fail to find this charming.

We switch to C.J.’s office, where she is for some reason sitting on the wrong side of her desk (with her back to the door), explaining to someone on the phone who Lord John Marbury is. She is no longer wearing pink, btw. She says it all sounds like a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. A) True, b) Sorkin loves him some Gilbert and Sullivan, and c) personal anecdote blathering time! When my dad and I went to London back in 2003, with the purpose of being either in a theater or an art museum at any given moment (a purpose we fulfilled with vigor), one of the shows we saw was H.M.S. Pinafore, which we chose because neither of us had ever seen a Gilbert and Sullivan musical. We enjoyed it thoroughly. I especially enjoyed the chorus guys in sailor suits. I keep trying to get Jason to bring a sailor suit home with him from work, but apparently stealing a uniform is, like, a federal offense, and they might hang him.

So Carol comes by with Toby. C.J. is not particularly thrilled to see him. Toby wants to apologize without apologizing, but C.J. says, “Either I’m a trusted member of the communications staff or I’m not. Which is it?” You go, girl. Hold him to the sticking plate. (What in the hell is a sticking plate?) C.J. crosses her arms and waits for the actual apology and Toby does, badly. C.J. asks whose idea it was to leave her out and Toby confesses that it was his.

Josh comes back and is greeted by a sympathetic Donna, who takes his coat. Then Josh ushers Toby and C.J. into his office and closes the door. I forgot until this moment that they hadn’t been informed yet what documents Lillienfield has that could get Leo into trouble.

Hey, is this supposed to be some sort of, “See? There’s stuff we don’t tell Toby, too! It’s not just ’cause you’re a girl!” moment? Because if so, :-P and also nope.

A weird shot of one of those TVs that hangs from a ceiling of war footage, and then Sam sighing heavily, although whether it’s about the war or about Leo is unclear. Mandy stops by and asks Sam if he talked to Josh. Sam isn’t trying to hear her, because of the Leo stuff. “You’re a political consultant,” he tells her. “You’re job isn’t to stop the fight; it’s to win it.” I’m pretty sure this should get a 7, even though the screw-up hasn’t actually been made yet.

Josh comes by and calls Sam away.

Leo tells Lord Marbury that whatever Lord Marbury says is ridiculous. Lord Marbury patronizes at Leo some more, and patronizes the U.S., and also patronizes India and Pakistan. “It is about religion,” he claims and also, “They do not share your fear of the bomb.” If I were dealing with race/ethnicity/nationality, this would get numbers. But I’m not.

Lord Marbury gets a telegram and goes somewhere else to answer it. I am reminded of a joke about prestige, but I fear that to tell it here would strain your patience. If you want to hear it, message me or ask in the comments. While he’s gone, the president informs Leo that Lord Marbury will be staying a while. Leo complains that Lord Marbury thinks Leo is the butler. “For the first few weeks, so did I,” says the president. Rude, Mr. President. Rude enough to get a -5, as it’s a man being rude to his male subordinate.

Margaret comes in and whispers in Leo’s ear, and Leo excuses himself. Turns out Toby, Sam, C.J., and Josh Anyway, Josh is basically warning Leo that this is all about to become public, like, now, and also vows his ongoing loyalty.

The president and Charlie are chatting. The president is trying to think of a quote from Revelations about horses. Charlie doesn’t know it. The president assures Charlie that his hesitation about Charlie and Zoe dating is not because Charlie is black. But Charlie already understood that it was just about Charlie being a male human being. The president gives his blessing to the relationship, which is nice, but still 2, but not another 2, just the same old 2 as above. The president also warns him that, although he’s fine with Charlie being black and dating Zoe, other people will not be. “You know what to do with the mail, right?” he says. “Yes, sir,” says Charlie. But I don’t! Mr. President, what should he do with the mail?!

The president asks Charlie to look for that Revelations quote and sends him off. The senior staff enter from Leo’s office and Leo tells the president what all is going on with him and drugs and the shit that’s about to hit the fan. (I never think about that expression without thinking about 10 Things I Hate About You, by the way, and adding Shakespearean “-eth”s to the ends of the words.) The president also pledges his loyalty to Leo. Lord Marbury enters and reports that a two-week ceasefire has been worked out at the U.N. Which is not a lot, but it’s two weeks more than zero. The president asks Lord Marbury to stick around, and he agrees to stay as long as they need him. Then Lord Marbury pontificates to the room about the backwards, medieval, psychotic attitudes towards religion that these stupid brown people have half a world away. The music swells so I guess I’m supposed to think this is intelligent or inspiring. Lord Marbury also already knows the Revelations quote, about horses and death and the end of the world. He says he thinks they can stop this war but he’s going to need a light (for his cigarette) and the president smiles.

I’m going to be straight with you all. A) I don’t know enough about anything to know why what Lord Marbury says about India and Pakistan is so offensive and wrong. I only know it makes my skin crawl. B) The first time I watched this episode, I went to sleep immediately afterward, and I woke up in a dead panic. India and Pakistan were on the brink of nuclear war! It took me a little while to remember that this was fiction.

Total Misogyny Points: 23