Emmys 2016

Kate: Life has seriously gotten in the way for both of us recently, eh? We didn’t even know the Emmys were coming up until a few days ago!

Erica: I just had a baby. I like this as an excuse for my usual state of obliviousness. And I’m telling you, this sleep deprivation that comes with a new baby is really messing with my head, because I could have sworn I saw Jeb Bush do a bit in the opening sketch for this thing. But that had to be some sort of fever dream, right?

Kate: Yea that didn’t happen…Well, new babies and traveling for work (my excuse) aside, here’s what we REALLY care about (JK, we care about Sadie and work too, but this is more fun at the moment):

America Ferrera

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Kate: Ok so she looks great from the neck up — love the makeup and the hair, albeit a little casual — and at first I was like, ‘Oh that dress is nice’, but then I was like, ‘What’s going on around the waist?’, and then I was like ‘Wait…ARE THOSE PANTS?’ Is this a sequined jumpsuit? Or is the dress just…splitting weird between the legs?

Erica: I actually thought the makeup was a little blah. And yeah, that appears to be a sparkly jumpsuit. Which doesn’t even offend me on a visceral level any more. I don’t know why not.

Kate: Either way, I also don’t love the color of her earrings with the color of the I-can’t-tell-if-it’s-a-dress-or-a-jumpsuit. So this is now all confusing and upsetting me.

Erica: For what it’s worth, Jason thinks she’s gotten more attractive.


Amy Poehler

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Kate: Oh dear, none of this works. None whatsoever.

Erica: Is she pregnant? Not that it would make it okay, but it would explain it a little.

Kate: That green is all wrong with that hair, which, why is it that color right now?

Erica: Oh, I like the hair color.

Kate: You know how much it pains me to say anything bad about Amy, though, so let’s keep moving.


Amy Schumer

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Kate: Mmmmmph this is too similar to what she wore last year (minus that INSANE hair), and WAY too similar to what her sister is wearing. I’m sure they did that on purpose, but it doesn’t really work. Neither of them could slap on a pair of earrings for cryin’ out loud?

Erica: I feel like, if you want to dress similarly like that, the dresses should be a little more stand-out, so it looks like you did it on purpose, instead of just you both chose black gowns. And yes, the look requires some nice jewelry, a strong lip, and a better bra.

Kate: I don’t even feel bad about us saying any of this because I just read her book and she is most perfectly fine with herself and doesn’t give one F what I think, nor should she, and I have a lot of respect for that.

Erica: I have to say, regarding my opinion of her character, the Kurt Metzger thing is throwing me.

Kate: No no no, that’s not fun, fashion is fun. Fun things only here!


Angela Bassett

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Erica: First, she looks fabulous. Second, I love the dress — flowy, sexy but not trashy, age-appropriate in a way that makes you WISH you were “of a certain age”. Third, only dark-skinned ladies can wear that color.

Kate: Yes, that color does look a lot great against darker skin, but you’ll see later on how a white woman (almost) pulls it off…


Anna Chlumsky

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Kate: Oh good god.

Erica: So…is she…pregnant? Sorry, I know that I’ve already asked that. I just don’t understand this. I don’t know how one could be sane and choosing this as a garment.

Kate: Are you implying that being pregnant equates to not being sane?🙂 JK. She was pregnant a while ago, she might be again, but even so, there is absolutely nothing right about this — color, silhouette, length(s), material, oh it’s all just so bad. Worst Dressed nominee already!

Erica: Having just been pregnant, yes, that’s what I’m saying. One thing, though — she does have fab legs.

Kate: There are better ways to show them off.


Ariel Winter

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Kate: While this is a beautiful piece of couture, it really does not work on her. It makes her look very boxy and masculine on top and hides her wonderful curves on bottom. I don’t even think it would look that good on a more slender girl…

Erica: I disagree that it is a beautiful piece of couture. I hate all of it.

Kate: Well, you hate side cutouts — I just mean it’s very FASHION and NOW and FASHION, but that doesn’t mean it should be worn on this particular person at this particular event.


Claire Danes

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Kate: Oh dear god, we have had some kind of TRAGIC accident with the spray tan machine. We need to hose her off!

Erica: I feel, like, physically uncomfortable looking at that. Like, my own skin feels all itchy and tight right now.

Kate: This is awful, I can’t look at anything else! Why is she so shiny and orange!! (It looked so much worse on the pre-show.)

Erica: I’m looking at it on E! It’s bad.

Kate: Fine, I’ll look at something else. Hair is quite boring, but that’s normal for her, dress is actually fab, and probably wouldn’t work if she were paler, but maybe if she were just a NORMAL shade of tan instead of that? OY!

Erica: Yeah, I like the dress. Way more than I usually like her dresses. But the skin is unfortunate.


Connie Britton

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Kate: Connie! I don’t like it.

Erica: Tami Taylor would NEVER.

Kate: The shoulder area takes away from that trademark hair, as does the color. Wah!

Erica: It’s so incredibly boxy. It’s like she’s actively trying to look less attractive.


Ellie Kemper

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Kate: Ohhh darn it, Ellie! I love you so much, and I love your makeup here, but that hairstyle and that dress age you DRASTICALLY.

Erica: Zoe feels the dress is like a picnic ball gown. I don’t hate it. I don’t like it. But. Her hair and makeup are too on-point for me to hate on her.

Kate: The dress looks like it’s made from someone’s living room curtains (or couch…or chair…) from the 70s. Truly awful. (But not nearly as awful as Anna Chlumsky, she’s still winning Worst Dressed so far.) I agree with you on makeup, but not on hair.


Emilia Clarke

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Kate: Is she the most tiny ever?

Erica: She is much tinier than I thought.

Kate: I am not sure what’s going on with her facial expression, but her dress is a little too 90s for me. Reminds me of Carrie Bradshaw’s naked dress, but longer.

Erica: I like it except that it’s a little too shiny.

Kate: It’s also way too bare with that color and that neckline and no jewelry — why not a more powerful earring or subtle yet sparkly necklace?

Erica: I agree on the necklace. That would have looked nice.


Emmy Rossum

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Kate: Couldn’t tell you what she’s doing at the Emmys, I just think she’s gosh darn gorgeous.

Erica: She’s in that series “Shameless”.

Kate: The dress itself is boring but beautiful, and I really love her hair and makeup. I had no reason to include her in this post other than I think she is stunning.

Erica: She is ridiculously pretty. And she wears white so well.


Felicity Huffman

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Kate: I never include her in these posts, but I really REALLY like her whole look this time. The dress is very elegant and appropriate, the hair and jewelry match perfectly.

Erica: The hair, I thought, was especially attractive. And the dress is pretty glam.


Heidi Klum

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Kate: I mean, she’s been wearing some INSANE things on the red carpet for, like, the last couple of years, and while this is less than ideal, it’s a vast improvement over that Big Bird thing and the lavender monstrosity and the straight-up Halloween costume she wore to New York Fashion Week this year.

Erica: Yes. This is like a normal person dress. Not a crazy person dress. I mean, it’s not my thing but it’s fine.

Kate: I wouldn’t go as far as “normal”, just normaler. Plus, it shows off her insane abs.

Erica: I like that she acknowledges how hard she works for that body.


Jane Krakowski

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Kate: This looks very kimono to me, no?

Erica: Yes. I like the color but not so much the dress.

Kate: The slit is a little high, but I L-O-V-E those SHOES! I feel like she bought the shoes first, and then was like, ‘I need a fun little blue number to wear with them’.

Erica: If that was the case, she could have done better.

Kate: I also prefer her hair with a little more texture to it, but that is possibly because I am currently watching 30 Rock and she always wore it curly on there.


Joanne Froggatt

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Kate: Wow, I really love her red carpet looks. I wonder if Brad Goreski still styles her?

Erica: She looks gorgeous but didn’t she wear something very similar before?

Kate: Possibly? She just embodies one of my favorite things: Effortlessly gorgeous. Soft, beautifully wavy hair (which looks, like, ATTAINABLE, you know?), perfectly subtle makeup, slinky blank strapless dress with a little lace element at the top. Safe, but love it.

Erica: Attainable for some people.

Kate: Yea, not really me, it just doesn’t look over-the-top styled. I may have done a clutch in something other than black, but that doesn’t make or break the ensemble. Also, CONFIRMED, styled by Brad again🙂


Julia Louis Dreyfus

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Kate: Yup. Killed it.

Erica: As we have come to expect.

Kate: I love when Julia throws a little change-up at me, like a looser skirt and sexier hair. She can do no wrong!

Erica: I’m super into the hair. It looks really sexy. Really young and fun.

Kate: Oh my god, and then she won for Veep AGAIN and gave that adorable shaky sad speech about her dad and then they cut to Jerry looking so lovingly at her and I JUST. CAN. NOT.

Erica: I feel like you identify more with her than is fully reasonable. But that’s cool.


Julie Bowen

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Kate: A fairly standard Julie Bowen choice. I like the ruffle in the back because without it it’d be too boring for words, but I don’t like the metallic shoulder things. Tacky.

Erica: It’s so normal and not insane so I’m in favor of it.

Kate: I do like the short and very styled bob, which seems to be happening a lot here tonight, and the makeup.

Erica: Yeah, I’m into the hair. Very cool looking.


Kate McKinnon

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Kate: Wowwww I kind of love it?

Erica: I like it. I do not love it.

Kate: It’s not too much and it’s not too little, I even like the very loose and casual hair. I feel like I’m really GROWING as a person by liking more casual hair on the red carpet, you know?

Erica: Good for you.


Kerry Washington

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Kate: I am normally against Kerry Washington’s red carpet selections, but this is really quite lovely. I couldn’t tell at first if the dress had a cutout around her very pregnant belly or a tan stripe in the material, which I think means it is perfectly tailored to her body and very well made. (Note: It looked better in the pre-show video than in this photo. Trust me.)

Erica: I do think this is a pretty fab way to show off a pregnant belly. I’m just confused. Wasn’t she visibly pregnant back in February?

Kate: No, must have been several Februaries ago. I even like the cape-esque quality in the back. The only thing I don’t like is the hair, as it overwhelms her tiny self. A low sleek pony or bun would have made this one of the most perfectly elegant looks of the night, perhaps even a Best Dressed nominee.

Erica: I actually kind of like the hair. It makes the whole thing a “look”.


Kirsten Dunst

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Kate: Ehhhh…Hasn’t she worn this before?

Erica: I liked it until I saw the bottom.

Kate: Honestly, I feel like ever since she started doing red carpet again she has only worn versions of this, and this is not all that great.

Erica: I think she is not at all invested in the red carpet stuff.

Kate: Fair.


Kristen Bell

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Kate: Ok so, I really love this. I have always thought that she’s exceptionally gorgeous with exceptionally perfect teeth, and therefore an exceptionally perfect smile, so to me she always looks flawless from the neck up.

Erica: Her hair looks particularly nice tonight. I love her in general. And now she’s in a new show so that’s exciting.

Kate: From the neck down? Fabulous! I’m sure a lot of people won’t like the intricate pattern WITH the sparkle, and normally I wouldn’t, but I find it to be just lovely. The width of the skirt makes me feel like it’s more of an Oscars dress than Emmys, but when does Kristen Bell go to the Oscars, so why not, right?

Erica: I am surprised you like. It’s not normally your thing. But it is normally my thing and I do, in fact, love it.  

Kate: I KNOW! See? Growing as a person. Oh hell, BEST DRESSED NOMINEE!


Laverne Cox

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Kate: Ohhhhh yes. Love the hair.

Erica: She looks really good. So often she edges a touch pageant-y, and this falls on the right side of it this time.

Kate: I hate describing it this way, but the hair is very Kardashian, but that’s the ONLY thing I even REMOTELY like about the Kardashians, so I feel like it’s semi-okay to say.

Erica: I know so little of the Kardashians but I do feel they are generally attractively turned out.

Kate: As for the dress, it is V sexy and tailored absolutely perfectly to her body. The hair color and the skintone and the dress color are all a little too similar for me to make her a Best Dressed nominee, but overall I love the entire look.


Maisie Williams

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Kate: I really and truly do not like her hair. I feel like it’s just not her, it’s a wig or a trick or something, it’s not genuine Maisie.

Erica: Well, I think the hair sort of goes with the quirkiness of the outfit. Some sort of deliberately ‘60s-esque thing.

Kate: However, if I take the hair away, and focus on the dress, it’s not my favorite, but it is genuinely Maisie in its quirkiness and cuteness, so fine. Not my favorite, but fine. Minus the hair.

Erica: I think the look is complete, you know? It’s bold and she clearly enjoys going a little nutty on the red carpet. Given her costuming on the show, I can’t blame her.


Mandy Moore

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Kate: What is that FACE Mandy Moore?!

Erica: Her hair looks weird.

Kate: I like the hair and makeup fine, even if the blush is a little much, and I WANT to like the dress, but I just don’t know. Maybe I’d like it more if it weren’t sheer at the bottom? But then would it be too MUCH, the ruffles reminding us of a “Southern Belle” Halloween costume? I just don’t know.

Erica: No, I think the hair is what’s making her face look weird. Great makeup, though. Perfect lip color.


Michelle Dockery

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Kate: Speaking of Southern Belles, Michelle here is giving me modern-day Scarlett O’Hara — like she literally took one of the movie’s dresses and cut it up, in a good way — and I absolutely LOVE IT. Best Dressed nominee!

Erica: Really? I like it but it’s so not your usual thing.

Kate: On second thought, the black-and-white and the ruffles and the length make it a wee bit too…DAYTIME, but I still really like it!

Erica: Wow. Cool.

Kate: And THIS is how you do a dark red lip, Hollywood/media/world.


Minnie Driver

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Kate: I only saw this from the waist up at first, and I really liked it. I was like, ‘The color is a little 2-3 years ago, but Minnie Driver wasn’t super-relevant then (sorry), so it’s ok and it looks FAB on her tanned skin’. And I normally wouldn’t like pin-straight hair tucked behind the ears, but it works here.

Erica: No. I do not like this color on white girls.

Kate: Then I saw the length, and the side cutout, and those GROSS shoes. Black strappy shoes with a bright yellow dress that cuts off at the ankles? Close but no cigar, Min!

Erica: Not even close for me. The length kills any chance of me liking it.


Natasha Lyonne

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Kate: Well, it’s kind of a mashup of every black-and-white dress every Hollywood starlet has ever worn on the red carpet since the beginning of time, and she’s making a very odd face, but hey. It’s nice!

Erica: I don’t really like it but I don’t totally hate it. And her hair looks nice.


Neve Campbell

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Kate: Is this kind of what Joanne Froggatt is wearing but with more poof at the bottom? I like it just as much on her.

Erica: I like the lacy top.

Kate: And I LOOOOVVEEE her hair and makeup. Very elegant.

Erica: Yes. Perfection.


Priyanka Chopra

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Kate: Yep, she’s essentially perfect.

Erica: Gorgeous. Really stunning.

Kate: I think we are all overdoing it a little with the bright red/pink and/or deep red/purple lipstick, and this shade is a little too matchy-matchy with the color of that FAB dress, but it still looks great. I love the sleek low pony, too.

Erica: I don’t mind the matchy-matchy with lipstick. It kind of bothers me with the carpet but I realize I’m being silly.

Kate: No, I get that too, but there are always a handful of girls who wear the same red as the carpet.


Sarah Hyland

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Kate: The peplum in and of itself wasn’t bad enough, we had to EXTEND it? Come on. EW!

Erica: I’m not 100% against this. It’s unusual. And I love the embroidery.

Kate: I know people love capes and cape-esque things on the red carpet, but this just looks like two awkward tails, and the black pants underneath make it look very casual and, dare I say it, sloppy. They don’t look tailored right.

Erica: I feel like the hair was the real sin. It needs to be sleek and perfect for this look. It was not quite there.

Kate: Just because of the one piece hanging out?

Erica: Yeah. From the front, it was good. From the back? Sloppy.


Sofia Vergara

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Kate: YES, I can go back to not liking Sofia Vergara’s red carpet look. Her hair is WAY too slicked back, and this is what I’m talking about with the dark red/purple lipstick (too much), and the swirly silver shapes on an otherwise nice dress are completely unnecessary. Honestly, one of her worst.

Erica: I hate the hair a lot.

Kate: Despite all of that, just look at that BODY. So who really cares about the rest?

Erica: Well, most of the women we cover have pretty rocking bodies.


Sophie Turner

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Kate: For THE longest time I was like, ‘I don’t know this person, I’m not including her’. Then I was like, ‘Wait, that name sounds familiar. Should I know who that is?’ THEN I was like, ‘OMG, wait, that’s SANSA STARK! WHAT!?’

Erica: I hate everything here. Except her. I love her. But her hair and her makeup and her dress. Those things I hate.

Kate: Oh see the hair is the only thing I like, the dress sucks, I just could NOT recognize her for the life of me, and I can’t even put my finger on exactly what has changed about her?

Erica: Did you know she adopted her dire wolf?


Erica: I can consign that.


Taraji P. Henson

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Kate: I guess I was wrong about that yellow being so 2-3 years ago because here it is on Taraji too. This is quite safe/boring for her, no?

Erica: Yes. But did you see her clutch has her initials?

Kate: No? I kind of like the casual, almost messy/wetness of the hair against the structure of the dress, but the overall look is not the best.

Erica: It’s good. It’s safe. It’s not memorable.

Kate: Hold the phone, she changed into something else when she presented, which I like a whole lot more for her. It’s more daring and interesting, I just don’t like the blunt hairstyle because it gives me traumatic flashbacks to my elementary school years. It also means her first hairstyle was or this one is a wig, and I don’t like that.

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Erica: So the presentation hair is definitely the wig. It is more daring but I don’t love it. And I don’t understand the logic of having two different outfits. Jimmy Kimmel did it, too. Why do you want to get dressed twice?


Tina Fey

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Erica: Love the color. Just love.

Kate: That HAIR — so voluminous! That COLOR — so unexpectedly perfect! That SILHOUETTE — so flattering & Greek goddess-y! BEST DRESSED NOMINEE!

Erica: She looks really good. Really good.

Kate: The ONLY thing I would change is the earrings. Too matchy matchy. A small, subtle sparkle in a neutral tone would have been just right.

Erica: I didn’t notice them. But I saw this on stage, not the carpet.

Kate: Ugh I LOVE IT when she just NAILS the red carpet!


Tori Kelly

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Kate: Not ENTIRELY sure why she’s there, but I love a couple of her songs so I’m including her.

Erica: I have no idea who she is.

Kate: I love the hair and makeup, but the dress is boring and the accessories are trying too hard to overcompensate for that.

Erica: Hair very good. Makeup – I would have liked a stronger lip but maybe that’s just me. Dress fine. Boring but fine.

Kate: Hang on, we have another outfit change. Her performance dress is much more interesting, but then they zoomed in on her hair and it just did not move because of all the hairspray, so I take back what I said about her hair.

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Erica: But why change? Why show up in my one black ball gown and change into another?


Viola Davis

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Kate: Perfect perfect perfect perfect color. Perfect.

Erica: Yes. Love the color. Always a fan of bold color.

Kate: Love the embroidery on the neckline too, but the material gets a little too wrinkly in the skirt and I don’t love the makeup or hair.

Erica: I feel the makeup is a touch overdone. Like, I didn’t recognize her at first. But the dress is so nice.

Kate: Alas, Best Dressed?

Erica: I’m so excited that you like Kristen Bell’s dress. Can we give it to her?

Kate: Absotively posilutely! Worst?

Erica: I feel like Anna Chlumsky has the lock on that. Amy Poehler gave her a run, but Anna’s is ugly AND illogical. You know what I mean?

Kate: Yes, wholeheartedly agree. That’s a wrap!

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing,” Episode 1.18, “Six Meetings Before Lunch”

I’m feeling blocked so I thought I’d write this instead. I don’t know if it helps get the juices flowing or just redirects them and further sinks me into a block but I guess we’ll find out.

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 (or, sometimes, maternal qualities) 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.

Previously on “The West Wing”: Charlie brought Zoey flowers, which somehow excused him for being a dick; Zoey objected to her protection being increased; that protection was Gina, who got nervous about some white-pride-looking boys in a crowd; Leo’s daughter Mallory did or did not ask Sam out on a date, much to the delight of the First Lady; Roberto Mendoza is the president’s choice for the Supreme Court, and Noble, Brave Sir Toby is going to make sure he’s confirmed.

It’s Thursday at 9:45 and in the White House, a black female assistant gets a line AND gets to have her face fully lit at the same time. She’s in front of two TVs showing the floor of the Senate, pouring wine and offering congratulations until Toby stops her. Toby is against celebrating the confirmation of Roberto Mendoza before there are fifty-one’yea’ votes on that screen. He will not have his Day of Jubilee ruined by the tempting of fate. As much as he’s being a dick to Bonnie here (Doing these recaps is really helping me learn which assistant goes with which name) 5, I can’t fault him too much. I am also strongly against the tempting of fate. He extends his not-exactly-wrong dickishness to Ginger (the redheaded one, whom I believe might also be a Sheen) 5 before wondering where Josh is.

Donna is calling for Josh; they’re already, since the scene break, at nineteen yea votes. (They were at five before.) Josh wants to know why there’s a message about talking to Mandy about a panda bear. Well, actually, there’s a little back-and-forth about Donna’s handwriting but I’m going to give it a 5 and keep going. He’s confused about why he would have to talk to Mandy about a panda bear and also doesn’t seem to know the difference between a panda bear and a koala, or that a koala is not a tree. And for some reason we’re not supposed to think less of him for this lack of basic pre-school -level knowledge. Because knowing about animals is girl stuff. (Donna knows.) 4.

Mallory comes in and asks where Sam is. She’s pissed at him and Josh has no idea why. 8. They all head to the room where the Mendoza vote is being held. Josh is surprised that there is no champagne yet, which Toby forces a very annoyed Bonnie to explain 5 and Donna is nattering on about her handwriting 4 while Josh is asking her to go get Leo.

Leo is on the phone in his very dark office yelling about a book jacket when Margaret comes in to rush him off. Margaret plays Exposition Fairy about the book jacket. It’s that an appointee to a justice post favors reparations for African-Americans. Margaret says, “What for?” which is why this gets a 9. Because come the fuck on.

I do love how neatly Aaron Sorkin sets up an episode. What’s happening in this one? Mendoza is being confirmed, Mandy wants a panda, Mallory’s pissed at Sam, and there’s a judge who wants reparations for slavery. And based on the previouslies, I assume we’ll find out something’s up with Zoey and Charlie and white pride. And go!

Leo and Margaret enter the confirmation celebration room and Sam comes in right behind them. Mallory tells him she despises him and everything he stands for 8, 3 because of a position paper he wrote. He doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She tells him not to play dumb. He says he is actually dumb; most of the time, he’s playing smart. Which is a good line. Except that he does know it’s about his position paper on school vouchers. In case you’ve forgotten, she’s a public school teacher.

Yea vote 51 is called and Toby pops the champagne with that facial expression like he’s not sure he’s ever allowed to be happy and I love him.


We’re back from the break and a clearly drunk Donna is still waxing stupid to Josh about her handwriting 4 when Leo breaks in. He tells Josh that their nominee, Jeff Breckinridge, for the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights (Is this a real position? I mean, if it is, that’s awesome.) is no longer going to sail because Breckinridge supports reparations for slavery, as is evidence by his quote on the dust jacket of a book called The Unpaid Debt. Leo wants Josh to talk to Breckinridge. Josh feels uncomfortable in his whiteness. “I’m not the guy for this,” he says, and he’d be right, if they had a black person on staff who ranked higher than Charlie.

They hear noise coming from the other room and Leo is excited to learn that C.J. is going to lip-sync “The Jackal.” So excited he asks Cathy to pull Sam out of the argument he’s having with Mallory for the occasion. (I like C.J. doing “The Jackal” as much as the next person, but the fact that this is a thing she does gets a 1.)

Sam has determined that Mallory got the position paper in favor of school vouchers from her father, who is trying to drive a wedge between them, in spite of the fact that they haven’t been on a date yet. Sam doesn’t want to talk about school vouchers. He wants them to watch C.J. do “The Jackal” and then get a late-night dinner, “after which I may or may not give you a good-night kiss.” Aaron Sorkin believes that this sort of arrogance is very sexy. He’s not 100% wrong.

Mallory appears to be immune, however. And my heart belongs to Toby.

Josh approaches Toby about Jeff Breckinridge, trying to con Toby into taking over. Toby instructs him never to talk to him during “The Jackal,” which C.J. is performing rather adorably. Then Toby puffs suggestively on his cigar. This moment totally gets a ! It is fairly clear that C.J. doing “The Jackal,” while exciting for everybody, is foreplay for Toby.

Sam approaches Leo about Mallory. Leo is #sorrynotsorry about messing with Sam’s dating life and also cares way more about C.J.’s “The Jackal.” Toby puffs his cigar some more, Josh and Sam try to execute some dance moves or something and look incredibly white doing so, and we’re out.

An aerial shot of the White House leads us to C.J. dancing in her office and Danny approaching from behind. Danny is sad he missed “The Jackal.” He was busy listening to his police scanner. C.J. surmises that in high school, Danny was the president of his A.V. club. Danny corrects her; he was, in fact, the vice president. Bobby Pfeiffer was president. Danny doesn’t like to talk about it. I only tell you this because it’s pretty funny.

So what’s Danny doing here this late, besides lamenting lost opportunities to ogle C.J.? Josh invited him down for a drink. Danny came after hearing on his police scanner that David Arbor was arrested outside a frat party for possession and possible intent to distribute marijuana. C.J. hopes David Arbor is not the son of Bob Arbor, but he totally is. And also Zoey Bartlett was at the party. Danny is hoping C.J. will remember he brought this to her, and also that she’s in love with him. 2.

The next morning, C.J. is going over with Carol the party line on Zoey and the frat party. Bechdel passed! -10! The party line is, the president doesn’t even know, because it’s such a non-story. Mandy also pipes in for one line and hopes it remains a non-story. Then she peels off into Josh’s office to talk about a panda bear. “I think we should get a panda bear,” she says. “You say that now, but I’m the one who’s going to end up feeding him and walking him.” Hah. Also 2.

MPTF: 12

Anyway, apparently the last panda bear at the National Zoo died two weeks ago and there have been 3,000 letters asking about when they’re getting a new one. Josh tells her to go ask Toby. Donna delivers a whole bunch of files. Mandy asks about it. It’s related to his meeting with Jeff Breckinridge, black civil rights lawyer. She wishes him luck. Wow, that was a Mandy meeting surprisingly free of feistiness.

In a college dining hall, Zoey and her friends are practicing French. As they get ready to go, Gina leads them out the back to avoid reporters. But a reporter is waiting in the kitchen. Gina throws him up against a wall but he asks why Zoey was hanging out at a party with a drug dealer, and Zoey responds by saying she was invited to the party and didn’t know David Arbor was going to be there. Gina sends Zoey and her friend tot he car.

Back at the White House, Sam is pleased with having his draft done on time, and asks Cathy about his schedule. There’s a noon meeting he doesn’t want to go to, but Cathy doesn’t care. Also he has a meeting with Mallory right now, much to his surprise, because she wants to yell at him about school vouchers during business hours.

Jeff Breckinridge enters Josh’s very, very dark office. Seriously, what’s up with this? I know Aaron Sorkin had former White House staff as consultants; did the (first(?!)) Clinton administration keep their electric bills low by forbidding the use of lights for much of the day? Anyway, it turns out Jeff once worked in the same law firm as Josh’s father, which is super-exciting for them both. Then Josh has to tell Jeff that some Republicans don’t like his book jacket quote. Jeff gives zero fucks. He feels that African-American descendants of slaves are owed somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.7 trillion (as calculated by an economist) and that he means this in a totally non-abstract way.

Carol announces Charlie into C.J.’s office. Charlie tells C.J. about the reporter who accosted Zoey. This reporter,a according to C.J., is not so much a reporter as a “professional Bartlet baiter” who works for a “fund-raising newsletter for the radical right.” Zoey wants C.J.’s help with David Arbor. The poor kid doesn’t sell drugs; he just buys them. User, not a dealer. And Zoey is trying to help him. In fact, she was at that party, according to Charlie, to return the car keys – to a Porsche, Charlie needs to point out – that she had confiscated from him the week before. C.J. asks Carol to tell Danny she’s coming to see him, then reminisces with Charlie about the time she backed her boyfriend’s Porsche into a pond.

It should be noted that they are pronouncing Porsche with one syllable. I never know if it’s pretentious or correct to do the two-syllable thing. Much the way I know you should pronounce Van Gogh like “Van goch” with the guttural “ch” but you sound like a pretentious asshole if you do.

Toby is approached while walking by Margaret, and Margaret notes Toby’s unusual good mood. Margaret peels off and other random people in the hall are similarly weirded out by Toby’s good mood.

In Sam’s office, Mallory is lecturing about why school vouchers are not a good idea. I believe she is correct, but also, I don’t care. I mean, I care about school vouchers. I don’t care about this plot point. And also 8 because this plot line is so ridiculous. Sam gets snotty; Mallory points out that this is not a good path toward dating her; Sam is like, but this is a business meeting! I’m giving that an too. Because girls, they’re so manipulative. She schedules a business meeting but his behavior during it counts toward their (non) dating life! Nofair!

Cathy comes in to tell Sam she cancelled that meeting on the Hill he asked her to cancel, a request he now regrets because he has to stay in this meeting with Mallory. (I love Cathy, by the way, who takes no shit and gives zero fucks, all the time.)

C.J. comes to Danny – also in a darkened workspace – to talk about the non-reporter. Danny complains that she never compliments his suspenders. 2 but also hah. Danny tells C.J. that Zoey told the reporter that Zoey didn’t know David Arbor was going to be there. C.J. realizes that Zoey was lying and manages to cover up this knowledge from Danny.

In Josh’s office, Jeff says the idea of reparations is nothing new; at one point, newly freed slaves were promised forty acres and a mule. But then that order was rescinded and maybe if it hadn’t been, the U.S. wouldn’t owe descendants of slaves $1.7 trillion dollars now.

Someone wise once said to me that it wasn’t the slavery that was our true original sin. Slavery is bad, of course. But even worse were the next hundred years. It’s one thing to have a law that says that certain members of the population are not equal. It’s not good, but it’s not as bad as having your law say that the whole population IS equal, and then very much ignoring that law with little if any repercussions. I’d add that, as Jeff Breckinridge is pointing out here, we could have done a lot to ameliorate the damage done by slavery. We just chose not to. In many ways, we chose to double down on that damage. And then the civil rights movement happened, and the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, and … aside from electing a black president, we continue to fuck it all up. So if you’re a white person who routinely whines about “How come they still complain about slavery? It was so long ago.” then a) pro-tip – these are inside-your-head thoughts, not out-loud thoughts, and b) don’t let’s pretend they don’t have lots of more recent things to complain about.

Anyway, Josh pretends he’s going to move this conversation on to Jeff Breckinridge’s confirmation process, but he wants to talk instead about the “600,000 white men” who lost their lives to end slavery. Yeah, Josh was maybe not the best pick for this conversation.  Also, from what I gathered from the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Illinois, not actually true. Ending slavery seems to have been Lincoln’s secret agenda, not the public reason for the war. Jeff agrees that this is specious, even though Josh insists on continuing in this manner. Fortunately, we leave the scene.

Toby is overly nice to Mandy, and to Bonnie. Not so much to Ginger. Inside his office, Toby is weirded out by his own good mood – up until Mandy tells him she wants a panda. 4

Zoey runs into Charlie in the hallway. Charlie does not kiss her this close to the Oval Office, and they banter a bit. But Zoey is nervous about her meeting with C.J. Not so nervous that she can’t throw Charlie against the wall for a seriously good kiss, though.

Zoey comes to C.J.’s office and they go over her statement to the reporter. C.J. needs to know why Zoey lied to the reporter about knowing that David Arbor was going to be at the party.

Bechdel passing all over the place!

In a fairly sad-looking room, the Secret Service has some stuff to talk about regarding Zoey. The important thing is that more white pride groups might be targeting Zoey. Gina concludes, based on various factors, that they’re looking for two fifteen-year-olds. The guy in charge agrees. They break, and C.J. comes in to talk to Gina. More Bechdel test passing! Gina refuses to talk about the party with C.J. because that’s not her job, and, in fact, would hurt her job. Gina does defend Zoey’s behavior in front of the reporter, and she appears to enjoy her job.

Sam and Mallory are still talking. I still don’t care. C.J. comes to see Sam about the Zoey problem. They agree that the president needs not to get involved in that. Sam wants C.J. to be aggressive with the president if need be in order to keep him away. C.J. is not enthused about this advice. Sam wants to know how to date Mallory instead of fighting with her and C.J. suggests, uh, taking her on a date. Well, taking her to lunch. Right now. Sam appreciates the advice. C.J. says she’s going to check the want ads. Because someone here actually worries about her job! And of course, it’s the female senior staffer who has to worry that mouthing off to the boss could compromise her employment, even though the male senior staffers do it all the time with no worry. 5.

Toby is super-unhappy to be having this conversation about pandas, and calls the late, lamented panda ‘Dim Sum.’ Damn, I could go for some good dumplings right now. I mean, I can go for some good dumplings 100% of the time, including immediately after having eaten good dumplings, but I’m also kind of hungry right now. Also, another 4 for how angry he is about this. Pandas are stupid girl things! Never mind that making the president look good to the public is Mandy’s ACTUAL JOB FOR WHICH SHE WAS HIRED, everything she wants to do or talk about is stupid!

The main issue is that Toby doesn’t feel this is his job. Which is also possibly true. He discovers that Josh sent Mandy and the panda issue to him. Toby informs Mandy that she’s been played and Mandy asks Toby to help her “cause Josh pain.” 3. Toby is in. As am I. Even though I think this is stupid.

Mallory leads Sam into Leo’s office. Which is very dark. Mallory is asking permission from her father to have lunch with Sam because she has to ask permission to have lunch with fascists. 3. It turns out Sam is not in favor of school vouchers; he wrote the position paper as opposition prep. Because fucking duh and also whatever. Sam is confused by Leo’s capitulation. “I thought you were trying to drive a wedge between us,” he says to Leo. Leo says, “Yeah, but now you’re just boring the crap out of me.” Go, Leo! Sam’s real position on education makes Mallory looks like she maybe wants to jump him even though they’re in her father’s office, with her father right there. They go to lunch.

Charlie comes in to the Oval, where the president is lying on the couch, reading. Go, Mr. President! His lunch has been cancelled, surprisingly enough, given that he’s the president. He’s reading an etiquette book by George Washington, which sounds pretty fascinating to me. The president wants to know if he could “take” George Washington, like, in war. Charlie points out that the Air Force could probably take the Minutemen, then announces C.J.

The president greets C.J. with this pearl from the book: “When in company, put not your hands to any part of the body not usually covered.” C.J., utterly confused, says, “Well, I do what I can to keep the press corps happy, sir.” Hah. 2, but hah. C.J. tells Bartlett about the Zoey thing and the president is furious that a reporter accosted her on campus. C.J. gets aggressive in preventing the president from making a thing out of this with the press. And it works. Huzzah!

Back in Josh’s office, Jeff brings up reparations for the Japanese Americans interred during World War II. Which I did not know we did. Josh says that was for people actually interred; “bring me a living slave and you’ve got a case.” Jeff points out with more patience than Josh deserves that, as the civil rights attorney and expert in the room, he thinks he knows when he has a case. Josh points out that we don’t have $1.7 trillion. Jeff says they’ll take it in tax deductions and scholarship funds, which sounds pretty reasonable to me. Josh says he can take it in affirmative action and empowerment zones(?) and the Civil Rights Act, which, dude, stop talking.

But it’s Josh, so instead, he digs deeper. He says he’d love to give him the money, but the S.S. officer didn’t give his grandfather his wallet back when he let him out of Birkenau. Dude. No.

My first year in grad school, I was pretty naive about race relations in America. I had a class with a professor who was a professed communist – something I didn’t know at the time you could still be – who said that the only form of oppression is economic oppression and challenged us to think of a counter-example. I said, “I think a lot of rich Jews died in the Holocaust.” She said, “Look, I don’t want to get into a Holocaust vs. slavery debate right now.” This was my first exposure to the idea that this was a debate being had by social justice types. I was mildly horrified. If you are a social justice person who engages in this debate, stop it. Only one person wins that fight, and it’s The Man.

Jeff rightly points out that Josh’s problem is with the Germans. Josh finally slumps down in defeat. Jeff says no amount of money will make up for slavery, which seems like a counter-argument to reparations, but I’m not a civil rights lawyer. Then Jeff has Josh look at the pyramid on the dollar bill and points out that this country, like that pyramid, is an unfinished project, and they just have to keep doing better. Which is nice. Jeff offers to take Josh out to lunch, and Josh says he’ll get the bill.

Damn right, you will, Josh.

Total Misogyny Points: 20 A comparatively light episode! Of course, if I was doing racism, we’d have a whole different story, and I really wish Jeff Breckenridge’s confirmation process got the arc that Mendoza’s got. He’s interesting.

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing,” Episode 1.17, “The White House Pro-Am”

OMG I started this forever ago. I have come back to finish it now. Sorry.

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 (or, sometimes, maternal qualities) 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.

Previously, on “The West Wing,” Stockard Channing, the first lady, could have married a lot of other people besides Jed Bartlett; Charlie condescendingly tells Zoey he’s trying to be a better boyfriend; Zoey’s got a new Secret Service agent who’s looking out for white supremacists.

In this episode, the first lady is getting ready to go on TV with a black teenage boy named Jeffrey. The first lady is joking with the young man about going on national television in a manner that, in a Sorkin script, is jocular and friendly and leads to camaraderie, but in real life just makes you an asshole. 3 And listen, people, I know. I think I was raised in a sort of Sorkin-esque environment, and am therefore sometimes unwittingly an asshole myself. I’m sorry.

The kid is unruffled, because he’s a Sorkin character. With ten seconds to air, the First Lady calls out to Lily, whom I believe is her Leo, that she should have worn the gray suit. 4. Then we’re live, and it turns out that Jeffrey has come to the first lady’s attention because he’s started an organization called The Children’s Crusade, regarding child labor. He had a pen pal in India who basically got sold into slavery to a loan shark.

This is all being explained while Sam, watching the TV in the Sam-and-Toby area, is sniffing, “When did Jeffrey happen?” at Lily. Lily wants Sam to give them the news cycle that day. See, the plan currently is for the president to bring the trade bill or something, physically, to Congress, in a gesture indicating compromise and bipartisanship and blah blah blah. But Lily wants the Congressional leaders to just come to the White House as usual, so that the press will be more interested in the Jeffrey story. Sam does not want to. Since Lily’s “guy” is married to Sam’s “guy” and Sam’s “guy” won an election, nyah nyah. 4. Lily points out that her “guy” has a way higher approval rating than Sam’s “guy”, “and bite me.” 3. “Ah, point well argued,” sarcastics Sam. 5. That’s not quite the right number because she’s not his subordinate. But he seems to think she is.

Back on screen, the interviewer asks Abby Bartlett if the companies know they’re using child slave labor. “If they don’t,” Abby says, “then they’re criminally negligent. If they do, they’re simply criminal.” Lily is very proud of this line, as, I feel, she should be. Even Sam thinks it’s good.

But then Toby comes out of his office and tells them to turn to channel 5. “Bernie Dahl died,” he announces ominously. Sam and Lily watch the news, shocked, as the death of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve is announced. Sam has to get in the snide remark about Lily losing her news cycle. 5.


MPTF: 6 We are off to a great start!

I wish I had better language to describe shots and camerawork. This show does a lovely job of that; I just don’t know how to talk about it. We’re with the president in the Oval, and the first shot is lovely, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. He’s asking a guy in military uniform and another guy in a suit if there’s going to be a coup. The military suit guy thinks not. Then he says a bunch of words I don’t understand.

Leo comes in to call the president out of the room, to tell him about Bernie Dahl. And also to tell him that everyone already knows, which, the president surmises, means the market will open 300 points down. Is it me, or sixteen years later, does a 300 point dip sound laughably adorable?

Leo wants Jed to announce Ron Ehrlich as successor right away, to prevent market panic. Jed is stubbornly reluctant. He’s not sure it’s going to be Ron Ehrlich and wants a day to think about it. Leo thinks this is stupid. I mean, he doesn’t say it like that but he does. Jed thinks Leo could be nicer to him during this conversation. He didn’t tell you you were being stupid, Jed. That’s pretty nice. Leo holds his ground about this being bad for the economy, claiming he’s going to go dump his portfolio now. Then Jed reveals that there’s some sort of family tension around Ron Ehrlich. “I’m not ready to jump into bed with Ron Ehrlich yet,” he says, “making me one of the few people in my family who can say that.” Had I not seen the previouslies, I would assume that he meant that Ron Ehrlich tried to sleep with more than one Bartlett woman, and that any number of them seemed amenable to that. As I did see the previouslies, I think we can all safely assume that Ron Ehrlich is one of the people Abby Bartlett could have married.

Also 2.

Donna wants to tell Josh about a book she’s reading, about what life was like 100 years ago. He’s not interested, because 4. Also he expresses his disinterest with rudeness, as ought to be expected. 5 Also he suggests strongly that she only has time to read these books because she’s not doing her job. 5. She leads with a few things Josh is not at all interested in – how women used to wash their hair, popular female baby names 4, but then mentions that drive-by shootings were a problem, which seems slightly more interesting to him. In case you haven’t watched enough TV, this books is going to be a Thing for the rest of the episode.

MPTF: 11

Toby wants Sam to come up with a way for C.J. to say they’re not naming Dahl’s successor without making it look like they’re backing away from Ron Ehrlich. Sam says he already gave her one – respect. You know, cause the dude just died. Sam is also highly concerned about Dahl’s heart attack and claims he will go to the gym later. Toby points out that this was Dahl’s fifth heart attack and the man was 138 years old, so maybe young, fit Sam doesn’t need to be so nutsy.

Josh comes to take Toby to a meeting that Toby doesn’t want to go to. It’s to get three left-wing Congresspeople on their side for something that’s already going to pass without them, but Josh wants to look like their liberal base still loves them. Toby thinks this is beneath him, and that they won and they don’t have to grovel for more votes. Josh says they’re doing good cop, bad cop. Toby wants to be the cop that’s not at the meeting. Josh says they’ll start out insulted if he doesn’t show. Toby suggests that if he does show, they’re going to end up insulted. But they go anyway, even though they’re still fighting.

Josh greets the people in the meeting warmly, while Toby sits and appears prepared to keep his mouth shut, as he promised Josh he would.

C.J. is briefing on Bernie Dahl’s death, but before she can finish her statement of respectful grief, the corps starts shouting, “C.J.!” The first question is, of course, if Ron Ehrlich is going to be Dahl’s replacement. C.J. dodges until Danny Concannon says that Abby Bartlett’s declared a preference for Ehrlich, and will that sway the president? C.J. is not aware of any such declaration. Danny says it’s a wire piece, with unnamed sources claiming that the first lady had previously said she hoped the president would appoint Ehrlich after Dahl’s term expired. C.J. gives Danny a line about “maybe on a social occasion.” Someone else asks when they can expect an announcement, C.J. says tomorrow, someone else asks why the delay, and C.J. says, “Respect.” Which does sound stupid in context, though it’s not actually a stupid reason. I think. Having little idea what the Fed Chair does.

Outside the press room, C.J. asks Carol to get her the wire report to which Danny referred, and also, could she have sounded any stupider, saying, “Respect”? Okay, so that’s the Bechdel test passed. -10.

C.J. approaches Sam and tells him about the wire piece, which causes Sam to cancel his plans to head to the gym. He heads to Lily’s office instead, where he bullies and insults her 5 and in the end is no closer to discovering who leaked the quote, nor is he any closer to working more productively with the first lady’s staff.

In the Oval, Jed is spouting stuff about the economy that Leo, C.J., and I don’t fully understand, but only C.J. gets called out for not understanding. 5. The upshot is, Jed’s not sure Ehrlich’s the guy. But also he doesn’t want anyone talking to his wife about it, because when his wife gets handled, he, Jed, gets a little “punishment” on the other side of the building. Damn, Jed. Maybe TMI. Also 8 and 2. But, while not talking to Abby, Jed would like C.J. to find out who the sources for the wire piece were, and then lists a bunch of friends and neighbors, almost entirely women, who don’t like him. 8. C.J. leaves and the president prattles on about the economy, and Leo admits to not knowing what the president is talking about. Then Jed claims sometimes he’s just making it up. For admitting this once C.J. leaves, I give this another 5.

MPTF: 15

Zoey’s been called in to the Oval, and Jed greets her by being sad she’s not five anymore. Leo goes, pretending to be confused by the term “keeping it real”. Jed settles into giving Zoey shit about her courses. But, seriously, he called Zoey in to tell her about the death threats they’ve been getting regarding her relationship with Charlie. He wants her not to go to the club opening she was planning on going to with Charlie, because the white supremacists are having some sort of convention in Virginia that weekend and it seems like too good an opportunity. Zoey notes that Charlie will not like it, but that she will tell him at lunch that day that they can’t go together.

As Zoey leaves, she says she’s sorry about Bernie Dahl and asks about Ron Ehrlich. Jed uses this opportunity to give her more shit about not taking math.

In the Toby-Josh meeting, a Congressperson points out that, as Democrats, they don’t like a thing because it lowers taxes. Apparently we do like lower tariffs, though. Yeah, I don’t know. Toby looks utterly bored. He plays with his tea and insists this is going to pass. Josh speaks condescendingly and the only woman in the room calls him on it. I love her. The first congressperson then says they’re concerned about the effects of cheaper, foreign-made products on American labor. Toby asks what kind of car he drives. He says he drives a Toyota. Toby tells him to shut up.

This is all about to devolve into a very kindergarten discussion of what global trade regulations do and I don’t care enough to parse it out. Except to point out that, at least with car manufacturing, the nationality of the company is almost never indicative of the location of factories. Our Hondas were built in Kentucky. Your Ford was built in Mexico. And so on.

There’s a knock, and Josh leaves cordially, and Toby leaves pissily. On the other side of the door, Josh says that this sort of behavior is why Toby has the reputation for being a pain in the ass. Toby says he cultivated that reputation. I love Toby. C.J., on the other hand, is waiting, less than patiently, to say what she came to say. She’s telling them about the wire piece. They all believe the source was Lily, who told Sam she didn’t know anything about it. Just like C.J. had suggested to Leo and Jed, Toby and Josh think this is an easy fix; if the first lady just says something like, “Old family friend, support my husband’s decisions, blah blah blah,” it’ll be fine. But C.J. tells them that Jed said he didn’t want Abby being handled. Josh feels this is all C.J.’s fault for not being able to tell the difference between Jed’s “Don’t handle my wife,” and Jed’s “Handle my wife, but I’m not the one telling you to do it.” 7. Toby tells her to go get Sam to go back to Lily.

Before they go back in, Josh observes that Toby likes winning, and Toby says, “Saves you from having to say the word ‘please’.” I’m only reporting this because it’s another good line.

Sam is bench pressing when his pager goes off. He puts the weight down and then bangs his head on it. A congressperson approaches him and says, basically, that she’s offering an amendment on the trade bill about child labor, which will change that sure win Josh and Toby thought they had. She’s got to do it because the first lady is talking about this but it’s HER thing so she has to do something about it now.

Leo goes to see Danny. They pedeconference. Danny brings up the market opening 320 points down. Leo wants Danny to come see the president at the end of the day, during a reception for the Michigan Women’s Democratic Caucus. Danny is suspicious.

C.J. blows Danny off and finds Sam, who ignored her page. Sam also wants C.J. to parse whether or not the president actually wants them to handle his wife. 7. Everyone seems to think this is somehow C.J.’s fault for not reading the president’s signals. Instead of the president’s fault for expecting his staff to manage his marriage. 8 C.J. asks Sam to go talk to Lily.

In the Josh-Toby meeting, the loudest congressperson is insisting that the fact that you can buy a British-made Range Rover has hurt Ford. Toby can, in fact, deny it, because, as a result of competition with the Range Rover, Ford made the Explorer, which is the best-selling model in its class.

Sam knocks, and the congressperson asks if they’re keeping them from more important things. “Many, many things,” Toby responds, which, duh. Did he think that the meeting to convince three Congresspeople to vote for a bill that was already going to pass was the most important thing on the Deputy Chief of Staff’s and the Communication Director’s schedules?

But of course, it’s about to become a way more important meeting. Sam tells them about the congresswoman’s amendment. They want to get Lily to get Abby to get the congresswoman to back off.

Charlie and Zoey are at a diner. Zoey is showing Charlie her notes on the 100 years ago book. They’re enjoying themselves. Well, Charlie is pretending to enjoy himself, in order to get some of Zoey’s egg salad. 4. Then Zoey drops the bomb on him about the club opening on Friday. Gina drops in to support her – the club itself, the physical building, is too hard to secure. Charlie doesn’t give a damn. Because he bought a new suit. For a club opening? What kind of club is this? Were there clubs in D.C. in the year 2000 to which 20-year-old guys would wear suits? Anyway, Charlie consults the book. He observes that 100 years ago, a black man couldn’t go to a club with a white woman for fear of being killed. Charlie, stop being a dick about this. 4.

Zoey excuses herself for the bathroom, which Gina signals, to another agent. Charlie thinks he is the one with the right to be pissed. Gina points out that it’s actually her job to take a bullet for Zoey, and that she prefers it when Zoey stays home and watches movies. This seems both true and unprofessional to say. Charlie leaves without waiting for Zoey to say goodbye.

Sam goes to Lily’s office but oh, look at that! It’s not Lily, it’s Abby! Back from the commercial break, Abby is complaining about the war the two staffs wage. Sam tells the president that, in fact, the first lady does not behave professionally. Sam says she has to vet stuff like Jeffrey through his office, because he’s the one who knows what he’s doing. And also she’s got to tell the congresswoman to back off. She says she will. 5 for this whole thing.

Danny is waiting in the outer office of the Oval, annoying Mrs. Landingham. Then Abby walks in and he annoys her by getting the name of the event wrong. (“The Many Women of Michigan?”) Because it’s about girls, and girls are stupid. 4. Abby walks out.

MPTF: 21

Danny tries to engage Charlie in conversation but Charlie is not really interested. He says he can’t date Zoey because he can’t be constrained by the Secret Service. Danny thinks he’s being stupid. Danny says, “If it was me, just for now, I’d make sure I was the one guy in her life that was totally hassle-free.” Which is not exactly really good advice? He does point out that the guys who are sending the death threats may be heavily armed, but they’re not necessarily good marksmen – “One day they’re going to be aiming for her and hit me.” That’s the better point. Charlie can be cavalier about his own safety, but he’s not the only one at risk. And, black or white, when you’re dating the president’s daughter and the Secret Service says, we cannot make you or her sufficiently safe here, you don’t go. That’s kind of it. There’s no use getting pissed at them, or at her, about it. But also, it’s probably not great for your relationship, whether you are the boy or the girl, to make it a goal to be “hassle-free.”

I guess it does make Danny the one guy who didn’t act as if a woman in this episode was irrationally angry when in fact she was quite justified. So, go Danny? I’ll give this a -8.

The president calls Danny in to the Oval Office. Leo’s in there, too. He thinks the president should not be having this conversation with Danny. I have to agree, because what the president is doing is, he’s trying to use the “closeness” he claims he and Danny have cultivated, over late-night talks on the campaign trail, and also Danny’s having written a biography of the first lady, to get Danny to spill who his source was on the quote about Ron Ehlrich. Because he doesn’t want to just ask Abby. So he’s trying to get his staff and now a reporter to intervene in his marriage because he’s too chicken-shit to do it himself. 8.

Danny, appropriately, refuses, though he cites not wanting to get in trouble with the first lady as one of his reasons. 8, Danny, and for shame. Then he says the president should forgive him because he just gave “very sage” dating advice to Charlie. The president is not pleased that Danny is helping Charlie “score with my daughter.” Ew. 2. The president sends Danny away.

At the party for the Michigan Women’s Democratic Caucus, Donna is continuing to talk to a very bored Josh about the book. One hundred years ago, it seemed, people were worried about seamstresses become aroused by the steady rhythm of the foot pedals used to operate sewing machines. The recommendation was to drug the seamstresses with bromide, to reduce their sexual desire. Josh asks why anyone would want to reduce a woman’s sexual desire. Donna says, flirtatiously, that “we can get out of hand.” This is a super-appropriate conversation for them to be having, and because I’m in the mood, I’m giving it a 2.

Josh turns to watch as the first lady walks in. She pulls aside the congresswoman who has the amendment and does what Sam wanted her to do – promises political support to the congresswoman while also commanding her to drop the amendment.

Back in the Oval, Leo and the president also marvel at the dangers of the rhythm of the sewing machine pedals. And Leo mentions that morphine, heroin, and marijuana were all over-the-counter drugs.

Mrs. Landingham pops in to tell the president that his wife is here to see him, and Leo peaces out, much to Jed’s chagrin. It is evident that Abby is pissed. She mentions Sam coming to see Lily and Jed tries to pass it off as flirtation between them 2 but Abby’s not having it. Jed admits that he wanted C.J. to handle her. And he doesn’t even thank Abby when she tells him she killed the amendment. Then he gets self-righteous about trying to get his staff to manage their marriage. And he reveals that this is all because he was pissed about her saying nice things about Ron Ehrlich. And then Abby reveals that she did, in fact, used to date Ron Ehrlich. I’m giving this a 2. Because he nitpicks on how long they dated and calls him “Skippy.” Also a 4 for not wanting to look like he’s “taking orders from his wife” by choosing Ron Ehrlich now. Abby concedes she was wrong to say that to the press, and Jed demands that she just “stand there in her wrongness and be wrong and get used to it.” Ugh. Jed. For real. 4. Because I don’t know what other number to give this.

But Abby is still impassioned about the plight of child laborers and Jed kind of agrees with her. He says this was their first Oval Office fight, which I find hard to believe. He’s been in office almost two years. Then they settle in to parent talk about Zoey and Charlie. Abby reveals that Charlie headed over to Zoey’s dorm a few minutes ago. They leave for the party with their arms around each other.

We cut to the hall of Zoey’s dorm. Charlie, in his suit, has flowers. He knocks, and nods at Gina, across the hall. Zoey is pissed but for some reason accepts Charlie’s apology, even though he says that he’s apologizing for “anything I’ve done to upset you, even if it only exists in your kind of confused little mind.” That’s just so awful. 8. And 4. And fuck you, Charlie. I like you most of the time, but in this moment I really hate you.

Charlie brought popcorn and videos (Hi, 2000!), and the door closes, as Gina radios, “Bookbag is in for the night.”

TMP: 30. It’s a pretty high episode, folks.

By the by, I feel like I remember the existence in the real world of this book, published at around this time (meaning early 2000). I don’t feel like Googling at the moment but if anyone knows about this, hit me up in the comments.

Zoe and I discuss Government

A while back, Zoe was going over some terms with me. A mayor is in charge of a town, a governor is in charge of a state, etc.

“So it’s mayor, then governor, then president, then king or queen?” she said.

“Well, no,” I said. “King or queen and president are equivalent. They’re both in charge of a country.” We discussed monarchy vs democracy for a bit. Then I added, “Actually, a lot of countries with kings or queens also have democratic leaders. Like England has a queen, but it also has a Prime Minister.” (For purposes of a discussion with a seven-year-old, I didn’t bother making the distinction between England, Great Britain, the UK, etc. Sue me.)

“If they have a Prime Minister, then what do they need a queen for?”

I laughed. I said, “Many people in England wonder the same thing!”

But then I thought about it, because I like to give her more than one perspective on these things, so I said, “Many people feel they should not bother having a royal family any more. But some people really like it. And I guess they do two different things. Like, the Prime Minister, he (this convo was pre-Brexit) represents England when they’re talking to other countries, and he guides the laws that get made, and stuff like that. But the queen and the royal family members – like Prince William and Princess Kate – they do things that are more symbolic. Host national holiday stuff, go to funerals and weddings of foreign leaders or other important people. Their babies’ pictures are in magazines. And they are sort of representatives of British identity. It’s like they’re team mascots.”

And then I started thinking, you know, that’s not such a bad idea. To separate the role of “Person who Actually Makes Decisions about How to Rule a Country” and “Country’s Mascot.” We’ve combined them into one person, the president. For the last eight years, that sort of worked out. Obama wasn’t a bad mascot, with his charisma, and his bad-ass wife and two adorable kids, and he was a pretty good Grown-Up in Charge. But the eight years before that, we elected Guy You’d Have a Beer With over two Insufferably Boring Grown-Ups. That wasn’t great. And the eight years before that, we had a guy who was good at convincing everyone he was Guy You’d Have a Beer With while being secretly a mostly pretty good Grown-Up.

And right now we’ve got a Really Very Good Grown-Up who can’t convince anyone you’d enjoy having a beer with her, vs. Mascot EXTREME (for better or worse). Imagine if we just separated the roles. Imagine if we’d let someone who’s good at being a grown-up actually make decisions, and someone who’s very good at entertaining us (or terrifying us) just keep doing that in some fashion. That wouldn’t really be terrible, would it?

Oscars 2016

Kate: I thought the Oscars were so late this year, but February 28 really crept on me. Ah, life.

Erica: Almost all of the nominated movies are divided between “Things I’m definitely not going to see” and “Things I probably won’t see”.

Kate: Oh I saw so many!

Erica: I must, before we begin, give a shout-out to Chris Rock, who made me feel better about this exercise we do in criticizing women’s fashion by pointing out that no one asks men what they’re wearing because they’re all wearing the same thing, and if George Clooney showed up in a lime-green tux, they’d ask. Readers, if George Clooney showed up in a lime-green tux, Kate and I would write something about it. We promise.

Kate: Also, I’m thinking of throwing caution to the wind and doing this in order of who we see as opposed to alphabetically — too wild?

Erica: Oh, my God, Kate. I can’t even handle you right now.


Mindy Kaling

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Kate: This is a lovely departure from her usual award show wardrobe, no? The sleeves are extremely flattering, and I really like her hair pulled back into a neat bun away from her face.

Erica: I think she looks very pretty. I don’t like the dress much as an object of fashion, but she looks pretty.

Kate: Color is a wee bit boring, but overall quite nice. Can’t wait to read her new book, which is next on my list!

Erica: You’ll love it.

Kate: Wait, hold on, the back is nuts. I take back what I said.

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Erica: I’m not loving the dress. But I think she transcends it.

Kate: Wait, no, I like it again. Still excited to read her book.


Sofia Vergara

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Kate: Oh my god, she actually looks bad? Is that dress from the 80s? What’s happening here?!

Erica: It’s a big departure from her in terms of silhouette but I find her overall aesthetic pretty 80s.

Kate: The color is really horrible and blah on her, and all the stuff happening in the middle is so unnecessary. Her boobs look incredible, as usual, but she put that fabulous hair back, which is a big mistake, and it is just overall not working. I guess she should stick to sparkly mermaid gowns with flowy hair?

Erica: They say it’s blue but it doesn’t look blue on the telecast. I’m not quite as disappointed as you are. Maybe because I am mesmerized by the boobs.


Alicia Vikander

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Kate: We haven’t been including her in the other posts, but I feel like we should because she’s nominated.

Erica: I have never even heard of her movie but I like the dress.

Kate: She has quite a lovely petite frame and has looked very elegant all season long, and I know I’ll be in the minority here, but I don’t love this. The color is a little too Easter-y, the sparkles a little too sparkly, the hair and makeup a little too casual. I can’t believe that half-up bun thing is trendy now; that’s how I might wear my hair when I know (or hope) absolutely no one will see me. I am also really not happy about the dress length or the bunching at the bottom, or the silver shoes. They’re, like, prom shoe dye-to-match silver.

Erica: I think it’s well balanced. The color is a little unusual. The sparkles are not overwhelming. The bottom of the dress is fun; on her frame, a full-length poof might have been overwhelming. And she is, again, very tiny and young looking. More makeup or more glam hair might have looked like a little girl who tried on Mommy’s stuff.


Olivia Wilde

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Kate: She TOTALLY took this from her Vinyl closet.

Erica: I haven’t watched that yet but I’m sure I should. She consistently impresses me in interviews.

Kate: Yes, you should. I like the dress but would prefer a thinner sleeve, and absolutely NO choker. I even like the bun/braid hairdo despite the frizziness on the top (it looked better on the pre-show than in this photo), but I am really weirded out by the red eye makeup thing she tends to do. It looks like bruising or blemishing, not at all elegant or chic.

Erica: I feel like this is more a look than just a dress, and as a look, I think it all works very well together. I like looks, and while this isn’t my favorite style, I think it’s all working together. I’m looking at her eyes — I even rewound to get a better look — and I don’t have a problem with them.


Saoirse Ronan

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Kate: Wow, what a difference from her very buttoned-up SAGs look (we also haven’t been covering her this season, but I feel like we should for the same reason as Alicia Vikander).

Erica: Fair. Yeah, the red carpet people were like, “She’s a polite Irish girl”, and I’m like, in that dress? I mean, it’s green. But I wouldn’t describe it as “polite”.

Kate: I may be saying this just because I’ve been re-watching Friends from the beginning, but she’s giving me a very Jennifer Aniston sexy tousled California girl look (from the neck up) paired with a Julianne Moore dress she cut the front and back off of. Which is to say, I really like it.

Erica: She’s too pale for the Jennifer Aniston look but I do love the dress. Very slinky and pretty. The people on my TV show are complaining about her earrings but IDK WTF their problem is.

Kate: I meant an Irish version of the Jennifer Aniston look, and I meant it in a very good way. May be a Best Dressed nominee already.

Erica: I might even agree with you there.


Olivia Munn

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Kate: Wow, friggin’ fabulous. Red looks incredible on her. (It looks more orange in the photo, but on the pre-show it was red, I swear.)

Erica: Okay so I’m into the dress for sure but there’s something up with her face, no?

Kate: Oh yeah I see what you mean, but I think it just looks thinner. Contouring, maybs? And I normally would not like the matchy lipstick, but it’s all just so perfect. The only thing I would change is adding a little more bling on the ears or on the other wrist.

Erica: Yeah, maybe. But the dress is very simple and attractive and exactly the right shade. It did look more red on television, but an orange-y red, which is very right for her.


Naomi Watts

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Kate: Jesus H. Christ does she ever look bad?

Erica: I thought you were over sequins.

Kate: I am, but she just has the perfect little frame, and even if the dress itself is just OK (which this one is), her fabulousness turns it up several notches. For once, I really like the necklace.

Erica: She’s not my favorite but she looks terrific.


Brie Larson

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Kate: Initial reaction is a no. First she did the topsy tail, now she’s doing the two front pieces pinned back behind her head — is she just, like, really into 90s hairstyles?

Erica: The 90s are back, baby! Where are my Docs? But also there’s something very complicated going on in the back of her head I can’t quite see.

Kate: The color of the dress is very lovely — she’s obviously a fan of blue — but the sheer extra material on top looks very cheap, the belt (which I’m hoping came with the dress and wasn’t a voluntary choice to add on) is WAY WAY WAY too much, and the bottom is too sea creature. The complicated thing going on in the back of her head is a braid or twist with jewels that match the horrible belt.

Erica: Zoe feels it reminds her of Evie’s coronation dress from the Disney Channel movie Descendants. So she’s a fan. I do love the color, and while I might not love the belt, the dress does require a belt. My thing is, I love ruffley skirts, but when they do the thing where it’s just ruffles attached vertically around the dress at intervals, like this one (I’m sure there’s a fashion term for this), I don’t like it at all.

Kate: It’s also making me nuts that the earrings don’t match the horrible jewel belt. This may honestly work fine with different hair and no belt, but I just can’t. Good makeup, not good everything else.


Rooney Mara

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Kate: Let me start with a compliment: I absolutely love the makeup. Expert smoky eye right there, and the exact correct way to do a dark red lip.

Erica: You are right that it is well done, but I also hate it.

Kate: Now for the non-compliments: Hate the hair, a) because it’s basically how she wore it to the Globes and the SAGs, b) because it’s dumb.

Erica: Dumb and annoying.

Kate: I don’t like the diamond belly cutout at all, or the flattened peplum thing(s). I might like it a whole lot if it were just a white long-sleeve lacy white column dress, even with the slit up the middle, but perhaps then it’d be too bridal.

Erica: Hate. All of it.

Kate: I love when you hate Rooney Mara dresses!


Margot Robbie

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Kate: She set the bar too high last year; anything else is just going to disappoint.

Erica: Well, this is a similar silhouette to last year. But not as well done.

Kate: Her hair is in that not-done style that I can’t stand, and the gold material looks too bulky on top. The rest of the dress is OK, but not stunning, and the obnoxiously long tassel on her black clutch is, well, obnoxious.

Erica: Her hair and makeup are really off. That said, she is a very sexy woman.


Isla Fisher

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Kate: Oh my god, I absolutely love this. It’s like a modern take on that white and green Scarlett O’Hara dress.

Erica: Ooh, yes, lovely. Although I will confess that I saw your words before I saw the dress and I was hoping it would evoke the dress made out of drapes. I love that dress.

Kate: How perfect does this look on her?! Especially with the red hair?! Not at all sure why she’s at the Oscars, but Best Dressed nominee!

Erica: I think she’s there as Sasha Baron Cohen’s wife? Who is there to…Present something? I’m not sure. I do love this dress. I love romantic, feminine things.


Heidi Klum

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Kate: I honestly think she wears these dresses now to F with us. “Ha ha, I’m gorgeous, look at how crazy I can still look anyway!”

Erica: Yes. That is precisely what happens in her head.

Kate: If she and Alicia Vikander stood next to each other, the Oscars red carpet would explode into a shower of Easter eggs.

Erica: The color, though, is the least offensive thing happening there. And what’s extra-infuriating is, as stupid as this dress is, she’s still gorgeous. She’s right; she does look good in ACTUALLY, LITERALLY ANYTHING.


Cate Blanchett

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Kate: Hang on, if Heidi Klum and Alicia Vikander AND Cate Blanchett stood next to each other, THEN the Oscars red carpet would explode into a shower of Easter eggs AND bunnies AND feathers. What is with the pastels, ladies?

Erica: Yeah but why not?

Kate: I think I would love this without the crazy puffy/feathery sleeves — the silhouette is BOMB on her body. Damn.

Erica: I like the sleeves. They’re a little nutty but I like a small dose of nutty if it’s also pretty. She’s on my Best Dressed list. Also, did you see Sylvester Stallone getting all star struck about her? “Cate Blanchett knows who I am! She saw my movie!” That was too cute.

Kate: Like I said in my predictions post, he’s the most adorable ever.


Jennifer Garner

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Kate: Ooooh very elegant. She’s got that depressed divorced look on her face Sandra Bullock always had after her marital issues, but the dress is super great.

Erica: I heard they were getting back together, no? She’s still so pretty.

Kate: Oh, I hope so! Yes, she is. This is actually one of my favorites of the night.


Julianne Moore

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Kate: Yes. Julianne Moore reads our posts and agreed that she needed to stop with the sparkly column dresses, and went out and got this. Excellent listening skills, Julianne!

Erica: We have pull in Hollywood, obviously.

Kate: I think this is great. It’s not going to be my favorite of the night, but I really like how different it is from what she’s been wearing, I love black, I love her hair and makeup, and I even like the contrast between the circular earrings and triangular top of the dress.

Erica: Yeah, she looks like a normal, lovely human being dressed for a red carpet, instead of like a whackadoo. This ensemble will not change fashion but she looks nice.

Kate: The only thing I don’t like is that the silhouette makes her look a little thicker around the waist, when in reality she’s a very tiny woman. (Confirmed that fact with Ian, who has met her.)

Erica: How?!

Kate: She wrote a children’s book and they took her out, duh.

Erica: Ian has the best job.


Rachel McAdams

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Kate: Ooooohhh I kind of love this.

Erica: It’s very nice.

Kate: It’s like she was kind of excited for the Globes and wore a nice Rachel McAdams dress, then she was kind of mad about the SAGs for some reason and didn’t care about doing her hair and makeup, and then she remembered that she’s effing gorgeous and nominated for an Oscar and BAM — sex pot dress.

Erica: She is effing gorgeous. The dress isn’t quite amazing, but it looks amazing on her.

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Kate: From the side she looks semi-naked, but I really like it anyway. The color is fab against her pale skin and hair (even though I prefer her as a redhead or brunette), and I dig all the accessories. That material unfortunately shows the tiniest little wrinkles, but other than that? Best Dressed Nominee!


Lady Gaga

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Kate: I find this to be overall lame. I don’t like the wide sculpted skirt over the pantsuit, I don’t like the white, and her hair/makeup look completely fake now, like she’s one of those women whose paid zillions of dollars to look like an actual Barbie.

Erica: I totes hate the pantsuit thing. Hate. It is filling me with confusion and disgust. And then she’s all, “It’s really important to me to speak out for victims of sexual violence”, and I’m like, I’m a terrible person for hating her outfit.

Kate: Well, hopefully her performance ensemble will be less lame.

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Kate: Nope. Guess we’re both terrible people for hating both outfits.


Tina Fey

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Kate: Ugh, she kills me. She hits it out of the park one night and strikes out the next — great color and dress overall, horrible necklace, even more horrible hair. It’s just too severe for her face; her hair looks incredibly beautiful and voluminous when worn down.

Erica: I don’t love the hair, and while I have less of an issue with the statement necklace than you do, that one is not great. But she looks very nice otherwise.

Kate: It’s like she still hasn’t figured out what works best for her, even though she’s been doing this for a long time.

Erica: I think this might be her least favorite thing about being a celebrity.


Reese Witherspoon

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Kate: Reese is wearing the same shade of purple as Tina. I repeat, Reese Witherspoon is wearing the exact same shade of purple as Tina Fey. I don’t know why I think that’s a big deal, but I do. Do they care about stuff like that? Are they friends? Will this hurt their friendship?

Erica: I am now, like, wishing for a friendship between them. I think that could be interesting. What’s it called when you write, like, fan fiction, but it’s about real people rather than characters? That is a thing, and I think I’m going to write a story about how Reese and Tina became friends.

Kate: Perfectly Reese hair and makeup and jewelry — which means fabulous and sweet but a little safe — but the dress itself kind of sucks. The material looks really stiff, and it’s just not flattering on her. Sorry, Reese😦

Erica: There’s too much structure in the top. It’s weird looking.


Kerry Washington

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Kate: Way too S&M. Way.

Erica: Hate so much. It’s both too S&M AND black-and-white evening wear. (I’m not criticizing the practice of S&M, btw. Just the aesthetic.) But the makeup is great.

Kate: But the hair is not great. Have I EVER liked her red carpet looks? Why does everyone else obsess over her so much?

Erica: Well, I find her to be a very beautiful woman and a very charming, intelligent one in interviews and such. I didn’t really have an opinion about her until I saw her on Bill Maher’s show and she was so incredibly poised and perfect. I wanted to cast her as, like, a 60s political wife, who’s so good at the whole cocktail party thing, but you also know she’s got serious brain power and is basically behind all of her husband’s successes. Tonight, she was great talking to Robin Roberts about the whole #OscarsSoWhite thing. Also she looked adorable gazing at Henry Cavill, clearly trying hard not to giggle and flip her hair. I just do not connect with her style.


Charlize Theron

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Kate: Yes.

Erica: She’s a good looking woman.

Kate: It honestly looks a little off-the-rack, like it’s from that store Cache (and maybe it is for all I know), and I wouldn’t like that necklace on anyone else, and I’ve seen her hair look better, and it’s kind of the same thing she always wears, but it’s Charlize Theron, so it’s all just yes. And I give up.

Erica: Yeah, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with anything about the look, but it really is down to the woman wearing it. You have to be actively trying to look stupid if you look like Charlize Theron. You know, you have to try as hard as Heidi Klum. (PS. Mad Max: Fury Road is one of the movies I saw. The Martian is the other one.)


Emily Blunt

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Kate: Oh gosh no, no no no! Emily! No!

Erica: That bad?

Kate: This looks like a maternity nightgown! (I know she’s actually pregnant, but still.) Oh I’m so disappointed.

Erica: Yeah? I mean, I don’t love it, but I don’t think it’s that bad.

Kate: Hate to do it, but Worst Dressed nominee.


Kate Winslet

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Kate: So I don’t love the dress in and of itself — I don’t know what that shiny material is, I don’t know if it’s black or brown or both, I don’t think it’s super flattering — but I love that it’s different from her usual look, and I super love that her hair is down and loose and wavy, and I super duper love that SHE ARRIVED. WITH. LEO. My heart is just BURSTING!

Erica: As much as I dislike Titanic, I do love their sustained friendship and support. It must have been quite a bonding experience to be young and so clearly better than your material.

Kate: I know it doesn’t mean that they’re together, because I think she’s married (with kids, even?) and he has serious commitment issues, but I know that they have a lot of love for each other and it’s just perfect that they’re both nominated and arrived together and I just can’t stand it. I also love her accessories and makeup.

Erica: Yes, she’s married and has kids, although I think her kids are not her current husband’s. And I don’t need them to be a couple. I like genuine platonic friendships between men and women. I don’t love this dress. It is aggressively shiny. But it is different for her. And her makeup looks great. I feel like the makeup artists of L.A. really brought it tonight.


Amy Poehler

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Kate: Wow, super different for her! Very kimono-esque.

Erica: Still loving the red hair.

Kate: I don’t think I like the kimono much, but I like seeing the variety.

Erica: Yeah, I mean, I always like something different. And I like the material of this dress, the embroidery and the colors. I think just a different neckline would have really sold the whole thing.


Priyanka Chopra

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Erica: I don’t know who she is or why she’s there, but she is very, very pretty and she looks stunning.

Kate: The only additional thing I know about her is that she is on a new TV show about the FBI. I like the dress a lot, especially that it’s white but not bridal, but I very much prefer her hair down. It’s quite fabulous.

Erica: I believe you.


Sarah Silverman

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Kate: This is a LOT better than the SAGs monstrosity, but she still isn’t getting it. Her hair is just a little too pulled back, the top of the dress is just a little too tight, the weird upside down triangle thing around the hips is just pointless. A few little fixes and this would have been a stunner.

Erica: Yeah, the top is really doing weird things to her actually pretty decent body. Do you think she resents Amy Schumer?

Kate: No, I think they’re friends.


Jennifer Lawrence

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Kate: J. Law with the very late arrival, and no red carpet?!

Erica: Maybe she’s sick of the whole thing. I would be if I were her. Oh, no, wait, I’d be busy rolling in my dollar bills and positive reviews and job offers.

Kate: I am absolutely in love with that new hairdo and subtle yet sexy makeup. I like the top of the dress a lot and I like the overall message of it, but it’s not my favorite ever.

Erica: I don’t love the hair. I do love the makeup. I do NOT like the dress. It is a stupider version of Rachel McAdams’s SAGs dress.

Kate: Oh no I think it’s quite different, and different from what she usually wears. Everyone really changed it up tonight, eh?

Erica: So, I think we will have trouble agreeing on Best Dressed, because I feel Cate Blanchett’s dress is everything I ever want on a red carpet, and you are somewhat less enthused.

Kate: No, she cannot win Best Dressed. How about Isla Fisher? She won’t win on anyone else’s list, but we both liked it a lot. Or Olivia Munn?

Erica: Ooh, let’s give it to Isla Fisher. We did both like it and it’s dreamy. Can we give Worst Dressed to Rooney Mara? I hates it soooo much.

Kate: Haha, ok!

Erica: Well, listen, folks, that’s it. That’s the awards season. And I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but I don’t know if we can cover So You Think You Can Dance this year. Because we can’t criticize eight-year-olds. And Nigel can’t possibly drool over any of the contestants (right? RIGHT?!) so we won’t have much material there. So you might not see us again until the 2016 Emmys in the fall.

Kate: And, you know what I noticed last night? We all obsess over these starlets and their dresses, especially the ones who aren’t nominated and maybe don’t even belong at the Oscars ever, and then some of the people who win the non-acting awards and who consequently get quite a bit of screen time are really quite terribly dressed. Case in point:

Erica: The costume designer for Mad Max: Fury Road?

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Kate: You got it, dude.

Erica: Yes. I don’t really want to get on the cases of the non-actors, because looking glamorous isn’t really part of their job. But woman? You design costumes. You couldn’t design yourself something that a character who is attending a formal event would wear?


Let’s do some more!

As a reminder, 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 (or, sometimes, maternal qualities) 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.

Let’s get right to it. Previously, on “The West Wing,” Zoey Bartlet asked out Charlie Young, which kind of made her father nuts; Joey Lucas called Josh an unmitigated jackass, earning her a place in my heart forever; the veep and POTUS have some beef; Jed Bartlet is upping his daughter’s protection.

It’s 2:38 am and Jed and Leo are in a car. Jed is telling Leo that he, Jed, didn’t mean to put him, some other dude, in this position. But apparently every “him” knew the vote on the ethanol tax credit was going to be tight, and it is, in fact, 50/50. Leo wants to be done with this conversation, as it’s 3:00 am, but Jed wants to focus on how, despite the irony, he is not to blame for this. For those of you not catching up yet, when the Senate is tied, the vice president makes the deciding vote. So the “him” who can’t blame Jed is the vice president, and we can assume that whatever the vice president’s stand on ethanol (gas made out of corn) is, it’s going to put him in a tough position regarding this vote.

We also learn that Jed will meet Zoe’s new Secret Service agent on the plane. Where they are presumably going. Leo is trying to encourage the president to just sleep at the hotel that night instead of coming home right after the fundraiser. It seems the president and company (but not Leo) are going to L.A. for a fun-filled day of meetings and a party. Yeah, Mr. President, just stay the night. Go to sleep.

This may be why I’m not the leader of the free world.

The motorcade arrives at the plane. Leo says goodbye to Leo and hello, jubilantly, to C.J. and Charlie. C.J. tells him the press is not in a particularly good mood, given that it’s 3:00 am. The president insists it’s going to be great. “We’re going to race the sun to the Pacific horizon!” C.J. does not seem to feel this will help.

On the plane already are Sam, Josh, and Toby. The president tells Sam it’s going to be 50/50 on the ethanol tax credit. Sam offers to make phone calls but the president surmises that it won’t help. Isn’t this Josh’s job? Why is this information being directed toward Sam?

Toby and Josh want to talk to the president about the Al Kiefer meeting. The president thinks that they’re unnecessarily worried about the Al Kiefer meeting. Then he asks if they want to see the best part of having his job. He picks up a phone and says, “Colonel, this is the president. I’m ready to go.” And the plane starts up. That is a pretty good part of having that job.


On the plane, Donna and C.J. are discussing sun protection skin care. I guess this has to count as passing the Bechdel test -10 but God. This is why simply passing the Bechdel test does not make a story feminist. Toby makes fun of them, naturally, so I can give it a 4. Also, Donna says, for the first of many times this episode, “I have sensitive alabaster skin,” and I’m going to go ahead and give that a 4, too, because it sounds ridiculous and it’s meant to sound ridiculous.

Josh is concerned that a representative named Cameron is going to introduce a bill banning gays from the military. Oh, look, it’s a plot point on which the actual United States has progressed since this show aired! I love it when that happens. (It will only happen on the issue of gay rights, if I recall correctly.) C.J. thinks they don’t have to care, because it’s Cameron. Josh thinks a man named Ted Marcus might care. Sam thinks that Ted won’t know. Toby thinks they can pretend they don’t know.

Charlie comes in to warn C.J. that the president is headed for the cockpit. C.J. goes to head him off.

Charlie has a seat next to Zoe in a very cushy-looking room. He apologizes that he won’t be as attentive as she might like during this trip. Because girls are dumb and can’t tell the difference between “working” and “not working.” 8. Zoey insists that it’s okay. Charlie says he can’t tell the difference between when it’s okay and when it’s not okay. 8. Zoey replies. “I know. Doesn’t that suck for you?” 3 and 8. Ugh. Sorkin, women don’t really act like this. If you’re dating women who act like this, you’re probably not actually listening to them.

The president welcomes Special Agent Gina Toscano into his office. Gina has been with Zoey for two weeks now. The president asks her a bunch of questions. He sits but doesn’t invite her to sit for a good long time. I’m going to count that as a 5.

We learn that there have been letters regarding Zoey and Charlie and they may or may not be from white supremacists. They don’t have much to go on, but Gina assures the president that she knows what she’s looking for in a crowd.

The president says he wants Zoey to be comfortable with her protection and it’s not Gina’s job to tell him the nonsense that college kids do. Which she already knows. Then he pretends he does want to know if she’s cutting English lit, and Gina refuses. He waves her off.

At the White House, Leo pedeconferences with Ed and Larry, two guys from Sam’s office who have these conversations when Sam is elsewhere. They’re talking ethanol and the tax credit, its pros and cons. Leo thinks they never said enough that the tax credit creates 16,000 new jobs. Ed and Larry ask if it’s over. Leo tells them Sam’s been calling senators (at 3 am?) and Leo’s next phone call will be Sam telling him it’s over. “At least we’re going to win,” Ed or Larry says.

Margaret brings in papers for Leo to sign but she’s in a snit because she doesn’t get to go to L.A. for the day. 8. She also insists she’s not upset. 8. Sure enough, the phone rings and it’s Sam. Leo asks Margaret to get the vice president.

On the plane, C.J. wakes up the press to go over the schedule. They’re being greeted at the airport. Photos only. Then they’ll depart for the hotel, at which point, C.J. predicts, they will no longer be on schedule. Over a bunch of exterior shots of the president’s plane and then his motorcade, C.J. continues giving us the schedule. There will be two hours at the hotel for a security briefing and “personal staff time.” That sounds kind of dirty. I mean, not with Jed, but imagine if the president were more Bill-Clinton-y?

Damn, that joke is as old as this episode.

Anyway, at 10:00 am, they’re going to Orange County to hear a discussion on a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag-burning. Hey, I vaguely remember when this was an “issue” people actually talked about. Boy, I’m glad it’s not any more.

Hey, more progress!

At 3 pm, they’ll be going to a town hall meeting on school vouchers, and then to the exciting fundraiser held by Theodore (Ted) Marcus. The press will wear coats and ties and stay in the roped-off press areas.

At the hotel, Donna is dragging Josh’s luggage and Josh can’t open his hotel room door. Donna starts reading off people who have left Josh messages at the front desk, all of which he’ll handle later, as he’s too busy complaining about being unable to open his door. So Donna opens it for him. Josh is finally intrigued when Donna says Joey Lucas called. And not intrigued in a professional way. Joey will be at the fundraiser that night. Donna feels that Josh should do something about his crush on Joey Lucas. Josh makes fun of her. 5 Josh decides they’ll call her. Donna repeats her line about alabaster skin. 4. Then, before Donna can call Joey, she tells Josh Ted Marcus also called, and Josh decides to deal with that first.

MPTF: 10

We pull up to a stunning home, with men moving enormous vases of flowers around. Ted Marcus (played by Bob Balaban) has, in fact, heard about Cameron’s amendment. Josh pleads ignorance but Ted – a studio chairman, btw – doesn’t care. He’s sending them home tomorrow with $2 1/2 million so he wants to be listened to. Josh is not really that good at listening, but he listens hard when Ted Marcus cancels the fundraiser. Josh insists that the bill won’t be passed, and if it were passed, the president would never sign it. That placates Ted – if Ted hears the president say that on national television. Oy gevalt.

Back in D.C., the vice president enters Leo’s office. So now they need the vice president to go vote for the ethanol tax credit. The vice president is not happy. He begs Leo to get him off the hook. He says he spent eight years fighting this bill, and he was right. (He is, by the way.) But being right is not the point; it’ll be politically disastrous for him if he votes for this bill.

We go to the stupid-ass flag-burning thing the president is being forced to sit through. It is intentionally stupid-ass and I’m not getting into it. Josh pulls Toby and Sam out of the room to tell them about Ted. Toby says that Josh should tell Ted that a) the bill’s not going anywhere, b) it’s not actually in the interest of gay rights that the president say anything about it because it’ll give Cameron credibility and attention, c) the president can’t be publicly blackmailed, and d) if he chooses to stay home rather than go to the fundraiser and kow-tow to Hollywood, it’ll only make the president look better to the general electorate. And then, Toby tells him, you can promise Ted 10 minutes with the president at the party. That’s fine, Josh says, then asks how the president is doing in there. “He’s got that look on his face like he’s thinking of ways to kill himself,” Sam says.

Back in the room, Jed does, in fact, look very Over It. Jed asks what I wanted to know when this was, like, a Thing. “Is there an epidemic of flag-burning going on that I’m not aware of?”

As they walk out, flanked by Service, the president continues asking that question. Toby says there’s not, so they can choose not to meet with Al Kiefer. But Jed says they will meet with him, over lunch, at the Playa Cantina, where they make the guacamole right in front of you, and where Zoey had been hoping to have a relatively Secret Service-free lunch. Charlie tries to dissuade Jed from ruining Zoey’s lunch, to no avail. Jed is determined to ruin EVERYONE’S good time.

You guys, I didn’t really eat real Mexican food until I moved to Chicagoland. Don’t they make the guacamole right in front of you at most authentic and authentic-ish Mexican restaurants? Or did they not in 2000? Or is this a bunch of East Coasters coming to L.A., so for them, it’s a special treat?

Anyway, they pedeconference out to a bunch of people booing the president. I don’t think because of the flag-burning thing, because that just happened, and these people have signs, but I could be wrong. Oh, and then Toby is not allowed to get in the president’s limo, because he made fun of the guacamole. “I didn’t!” says Toby.

“I could tell you were thinking it,” says the president.

“Fair enough,” says Toby. Hee!

At the Playa Cantina, Zoey is pissed, and our impression that the president really interrupted Zoey’s lunch in order to protect her with his own Secret Service. And there’s more commentary about the guacamole.

Al Kiefer (who is Q from “Star Trek: TNG”) is with the senior staff, trying to convince them that the president should not stay quiet on flag-burning, nor should he speak out against it. He should instead lead the charge against it! The senior staff dismiss this, but the president invites him over to tell him more. Al Kiefer goes on about how 47% of voters, middle-aged men, pool-and-patio types (sure) like the president but didn’t vote for him because they think he’s weak. The president makes pointed comments about hearing that he’s weak in front of his daughter, but, dude, you called the guy over. You interrupted your daughter’s lunch and brought this meeting to her. Anyway, Al Kiefer knows this isn’t popular, but he trusts numbers and the numbers tell him that the president should make himself a leader in favor of an amendment against flag-burning.

Josh gets a call and rushes off, while Al asks Toby why he’s smiling. “I just figured out who you were,” Toby says.

“He’s going to say Satan,” Al says.

“No,” says Toby. “You’re the guy who runs into the 7-11 to get Satan a pack of cigarettes.”

It’s a good line. Also, I love Toby.

Charlie escorts the president away. Josh rushes to catch up with him as he smiles at the (now positive) crowd outside the restaurant. Jed is upset that men with pools and patios think he’s weak and Josh tries not at all to not say “We told you so.” But that’s not why he’s there; he’s there to break the news that Jed has to spend ten minutes alone with Ted Marcus. “I used to like parties, you know that?” Jed says.

Zoey is complaining about the extra protection when Gina sees who she’s apparently looking for in the crowd – two pimply, glaring white boys.

At the home of Ted Marcus, elegant lights are lit and elegant music is being played by a quartet on the staircase. C.J. and Toby stand together. C.J. admires the house, which Toby doesn’t care about, then says, “You know, you haven’t said anything about my dress.” 2 and ! at the same time. “You look very nice,” Toby says without looking at her. “You’re not looking,” C.J. says. 8. “I’m looking at the house,” Toby says. and ! again.

A man approaches the two of them and introduces himself as the head of New Project Development at Paragon. He wants to know if his money buys him a few minutes alone with C.J. Gross. Then Toby ups the grossness by saying “Throw in a box of chocolates and a pair of nylons – get you a lot more than that.” 2 and 5 and how very dare you, Toby? Also – a pair of nylons? You gift women nylons? Is it 1954? Are you their grandmother? Toby promises to be over at the bar, drinking heavily, if anyone wants him. C.J. assures him that no one will.

The dude who pulled C.J. away wants C.J. to work for Paragon developing projects. C.J. insists she does not know what developing is. I don’t, either, but it doesn’t sound that hard to figure out. C.J. says she likes the job she has now, knowing what it is and everything, and makes an escape with Sam. It turns out Sam was also offered a development deal. I bet he got offered more money. (Sorry, it was there and I had to.)

Outside, David Hasselhoff is trying to have serious conversation with Josh and Donna about the first amendment, but Donna is dumbly trying to talk about his career. 4. Josh leads her away and takes away her drink 4 but Donna goes off after Matt Perry. Who is sadly not on screen.

Joey Lucas and Joey’s translator call out to Josh. Josh babbles and Joey flirts for some reason. 2 and 6 to this whole thing. Even though I like Joey and any excuse to keep her around is fine with me.

Toby pulls Josh away but Josh asks Joey not to leave the party.

Leo is still with the veep. It looks really cold in D.C. And they’re walking outside. Leo is trying to persuade the vice president to vote their way by telling him that the president and his staff don’t trust the vice president. These guys have interesting ways of persuading each other.

Hoynes is above caring about any beef, real or imagined, between him and the West Wing, but apparently not above thinking the president somehow arranged a 50/50 split in the Senate in order to set him up. Okay, sure. It seems Leo was not successful in persuading him.

Leo and the president are on the phone. The president wants to fire Hoynes but he can’t, constitutionally. Leo thinks the vice president is right. Sam, who is there, too, agrees, and says he can set three of the Senators he put “in a headlock” free so that the deciding vote doesn’t come down to the vice president at all. Sounds good.

Veronica Webb and Jay Leno are flirting when C.J. pulls Jay Leno off to the side. She appreciates Jay laying off the president the last few months. Jay says what he wants is for the president to ride his bike into a tree again.

Josh is back talking to Joey. He’s telling her about the Al Kiefer meeting. She already knows about it, because she hears everything. Haha. C.J., Sam, and Toby approach and joke about their development deals. Josh introduces Joey to everyone. Joey says Kiefer asks the wrong questions. Yes, people favor a flag-burning amendment, but, as she found out when she asked, they don’t actually care. I always like this insight.

C.J., Sam, and Toby move off, and Joey says she still thinks the president should come out against flag-burning, just because flag-burning is mean. Oh, whatever. She also says “Vox populi vox dei,” and Josh pretends to confuse “dei,” God, with “dog”, which makes no sense. “Dei” and “canis” (“dog” in Latin) sound nothing alike. Then Joey reveals that she’s at this fundraiser on a date, and Josh tries to pretend he doesn’t care. Joey still asks him to call her some time, and says it was good to see him.

In Ted Marcus’s private room, Ted says he’ll publicly demand that the president promise to veto Cameron’s bill. The president points out that this would be a very stupid move, because right now it’s just a bill proposed by a stupid-ass, extreme right-wing Congressperson of no consequence that will never so much as go to a committee, but if the president says publicly that he would vote for it, it will become a National Story in a nation not really ready to be pro-gay rights. (Woohoo! Progress!)

(We live not to far from the naval base – my husband is a dentist there – and the week that the whole gays-are-allowed-to-serve-openly thing happened, we were out to breakfast and we saw a sailor at the restaurant with her family – and her girlfriend! They were holding hands! It was SO NICE to see a woman in uniform holding hands with her girlfriend in public. Also my husband had, in fact, worked on her teeth, so he went over to say hi to the family and it was all very sweet.)

Anyway, despite Jed’s hostility, Ted takes Jed’s point well, says he trusts and likes Jed, and also observes that Jed looks more tired than he did a couple of months ago. Being president ages you but quick.

Donna is in Josh’s room, persuading him to go ignore Joey’s “I’m with someone” and go chase after her like we’re in a rom-com. 2. After some irritating back-and-forth, Josh goes – only to have Al Kiefer in a bathrobe open her door. Joey comes out of the bathroom, also in a bathrobe. She is embarrassed but also flattered. Al is not really amused.

We’re on the plane. Everyone is snoozing. Except Jed, who is on the phone with the vice president. He tells Hoynes he admires the way Hoynes had stuck to his guns in Iowa on the ethanol tax, even though it probably cost him the presidency. I’m sure Hoynes appreciates that.

Jed hangs up with the promise to go to sleep. But he can’t. Poor guy.

TMP: 20 I don’t mind this episode as a piece of storytelling. But geez. Just about every time a woman appears on the screen, it’s to be a stupid, flimsy, misogynist stereotype. Cut it the fuck out and let me enjoy the otherwise good show you’ve written, 16-years-ago Aaron Sorkin!

MISOGYNY & AARON SORKIN, “THE WEST WING,” EPISODE 1.15, “Celestial Navigation”

I should be writing. I mean, I should be writing novels. I’ve got three manuscripts actively in the works, plus some shorter pieces I’m working on. I shouldn’t be writing this.

But for various reasons, I can’t write those other things. So I’ll snark instead. It should get my engines going.

As a reminder, 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 (or, sometimes, maternal qualities) 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.

Ooh, I quite like this episode, because of rather than despite its Sorkin-ness. I really love the structure of it, the frame, and the opportunity to make fun of Josh.

Previously, on “The West Wing,” Jed Bartlett nominated Roberto Mendoza, (Edward James Olmos) to the Supreme Court. Also, in case you forgot, Sam Seaborn is the Deputy Communications Director, Josh Lyman is the Deputy Chief of Staff, Josiah Bartlett is Josiah Bartlett and Charles Young prefers Charlie. He met cute with Zoe Bartlett. Leo McGarry is the White House Chief of Staff, even though some obnoxious British guy thought he was the butler, and C.J. Craig is their host. Oh, and Toby Ziegler works for the White House. That was fun. Yes, the previouslies were just a series of blips to remind you who everyone is. I like it.

We’re in an auditorium, for the third installment of this year’s Marjorie DuPont lecture series. (This is actually a good example of 11 – you couldn’t make the host of the lecture series a woman, but you’ll give the lecture series a woman’s name. I’m not saying it’s an outrage, just that it’s a symptom.) It’s a good turn-out, so they must be excited to meet the guest that night. Who, we can surmise, is Josh Lyman, who’s in the darkened backstage on the phone. Roberto Mendoza, nominee to the Supreme Court, was arrested. For drunk driving, Sam, on the other end of the phone, and also on the street in the cold, tells us. Also resisting arrest and maybe disorderly conduct. It all happened half an hour ago, so details are sketchy. Thing is, Sam assures us, Roberto Mendoza doesn’t drink. Also the press doesn’t have it and it’s possible the cops don’t understand what’s going on because they don’t know that the guy they arrested is the guy who’s the nominee for Supreme Court. Sam gets in a cab. Josh keeps talking to the phone even though Sam’s hung up. His realization of this is pretty funny. I should make clear, none of my hatred for Josh should be transferred to Bradley Whitford, who is a fabulous actor with great timing and is really very, very good at being Josh Lyman.

The guy onstage in the auditorium is winding up Josh’s introduction. The audience welcomes Josh and Josh goes out on stage. Josh slips on his mike and is told that he’s here to tell them what it’s like to work for the president.

Seriously, I’m a sucker for framing devices, and this one is used particularly well.

At the White House (which still seems to be making efforts to save on electricity), C.J. asks Sam what’s going on and Sam claims it’s not as bad as she thinks. “Was the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court arrested for drunk driving?” C.J. wants to know. Yes. So it’s pretty bad, then.

Sam reiterates that Roberto Mendoza doesn’t drink and that he was, in fact, arrested for Driving While Hispanic. Toby enters and claims to have stepped off the edge of the world. C.J. wonders why Mendoza refused the Breathalyzer, and Toby claims it’s because Mendoza is a crazy man who is out to ruin Toby’s life. Bail has not been posted because it’s Friday night and they’re in Wesley, Connecticut and nobody can find a judge. Toby promises to find a way to blame this on C.J., which surprises C.J. not at all. 5? Sure. Toby is unusually hostile to C.J. all episode. Maybe they’ve stopped doin’ it.

Leo barges in. They should call Mendoza’s lawyer, he says. They always say that on TV shows. Does everyone have a lawyer? I mean, I claim I’m going to call my lawyer all the time, but by that I mean my dad, my mom, or my grandfather. He tells Sam to get on the Air Force jet waiting to take him to Wesley. He also threatens to blame C.J. if Sam sees any reporters upon getting off the plane. No number for that, since that’s actually C.J.’s job.

Toby’s going with Sam. Leo makes a warning noise but Toby has had it up to here with the judge. Leo says he wants his phone to ring every 15 minutes with updates. Wow, I’m so glad I don’t have to live in a world where I’d want my phone to be ringing every fifteen minutes.

After the credits, the lecture hall guy asks Josh to tell the audience about a typical day at the White House. Josh says there’s no such thing, that it starts out as a 9-5 job, but you can count on that being blown to hell by 9:30. Josh is really at his best in this setting. The lecture guy asks for an example, and Josh offers one from this week, actually, within the last 36 hours. The story he’s about to tell either started with “a cabinet secretary losing her temper, a committee chairman baiting her during a hearing, the president answering a question he shouldn’t, a dentist appointment, or me, being stupid.” He claims he’d like to think that it’s less the last one than others think. And really, he’s being utterly charming.

“It started out as a day that was supposed to trumpet the president’s vision for educational reform,” Josh tells us, which bumps us into thirty-six hours ago.

We’re in the press room. C.J.’s at the podium, Sam and Toby are in the otherwise empty audience. Sam is asking for the bullet points. C.J. insists she has this, and Sam is confident in her, but Toby wants to hear them anyway, which annoys C.J. Still, she tells us the bullet points: Forgive student loans for people who become teachers and spend at least three years in an underserved school district; provide cash bonuses for people who leave other careers to become teachers; give districts money to institute training programs wherein the old guard teach the newbies. Toby reminds her to say that half of all new teachers quit in the first three years. That sounds really high. I thought it had gotten markedly worse in the decade and a half since this aired, and that sounds like it’d be high even now. Anyone want to give me stats on this?

Josh calls Toby out and they leave. Sam follows C.J. out of the room and encourages her to push the briefing from 11:00 to 1:00. But Carol doesn’t want to move the briefing; C.J. has a thing. C.J. feels this is a good excuse to move the thing. When Sam discovers C.J.’s thing is a dentist appointment, because she’s experiencing some pain, he insists she keep the dental appointment and set the briefing for 2:00. He’s nuts for dental hygiene, he tells us. C.J. sends him away.

Josh and Toby are pedeconferencing about the HUD secretary Deborah O’Leary calling someone named Jack Wooden (and also all Republicans) a racist. Toby asks his assistant Bonnie to get this information for him and she responds, “You want it now?” So he gets rude and I’m giving this a 5 for Toby for being rude, and also a 5 for the writers deciding this was the best use for Bonnie as a character – to make her seem lazy and be subject to Toby’s abuse.

Toby is mad at O’Leary, but Josh is amused because Josh has enormous sympathy for people who are baited saying true but rude things to assholes. See, for example, Episode 1.

Mandy comes in to brief Toby, Josh, and the audience on the incident. O’Leary, in response to Wooden’s decrying of HUD, said, “Public Housing has serious problems, Mr. Chairman; I don’t deny that. But if you and your colleagues in the Republican Party-”

“No,” moans Toby.

“-were as invested in solving the problems associated with poverty as you were in scoring political points on the backs of poor people and minorities, you might just see the value,” Mandy says. Wooden apparently responded by asking if the Secretary was calling him a racist, and she responded, “If the shoe fits.”

Toby is very annoyed.

We shoot back to Josh, relating this tale to the lecture audience. He tells us the hard part is telling the president about this.

“If the shoe fits?!” the president says. Toby reports that O’Leary doubled down to reporters outside the room, too. The president seems more upset that she, as Leo puts it, “resorted to cliche.” Charlie calls the president out.

They head into one of the meeting rooms, where a whole bunch of reporters stand and clap.

Josh tells the lecture audience, “The president spoke briefly. The president has never spoken briefly in his life, but he spoke.” This was the bill-signing for education reform. After the president signed the bill, he answered some questions from the press. Josh invites us to marvel that, even though the number one issue on Americans’ minds, they claim, is education, and the president was signing a huge education bill, the first question from the press was-

“Mr. President, do you agree with Deborah O’Leary that Jack Wooden is a racist?” asks our old friend Danny Concannon. “And if not, do you plan on asking for her resignation?”

Jed sings O’Leary’s praises. Danny insists that doesn’t answer his question. Jed was hoping he wouldn’t notice. He says that he agrees with O’Leary that the Republican party doesn’t have a plan for combatting poverty, but that there are Republicans who are working hard on the issue and that he, Jed, is working with them. Danny says, “I’m sure that was an answer to some question, Mr. President, but it wasn’t the answer to mine,” which is a good line and I’ve definitely used it in a classroom setting a time or two.

Back to Josh in the lecture hall. “If only we’d stopped it right there,” he says. But it took them all too long to realize that there was no C.J. to manage the press. Dun dun dun!

Back at the signing, the president continues that O’Leary went too far in assigning motive to Wooden and the Republicans, and that O’Leary would be meeting with Leo later, and that “an apology would be appropriate.” This causes the senior staff to groan, and Sam finally jumps in and says the president’s late for lunch with the U.N. Ambassador. Who, Toby mentions as they pedeconference out, is in Portugal.

Josh in the lecture hall continues to lament that they didn’t step in, when his phone rings. He uncomfortably excuses himself from the stage and takes the call. It’s Toby. They’re lost. They’re hoping Josh, being from Connecticut, knows which exit they should take for Wesley. Sam thinks they’re not lost. Josh says he’s in the middle of something, hangs up, and returns to the stage, claiming the call was about the trade deficit. I guess that’s what you say when you don’t want follow-up questions. Anyway, he tells the audience that now, the day was about the showdown O’Leary was about to have with the president, and if she would apologize, and if she didn’t, if she’d be fired. “And the day was about to get worse. Because I was about to step to the plate.”

After what was presumably a commercial break, we’re in the car with Sam and Toby. Toby is fretting but Sam is using “celestial navigation.”

Josh, in the lecture hall, reminds us that O’Leary’s on her way and she’s going to be angry.

And, in fact, Deborah O’Leary is yelling at Leo, asking why the president would demand an apology without hearing her side of the story. It’s the standard argument on this show. Moral High Ground vs. Political Reality. I won’t go into details. In the end, Leo tells her, she’s doing great work and the president loves her. “He’ll cry, for three minutes, when he fires your ass. Then he’ll ask what’s next?” She agrees, reluctantly, to swallow her pride and apologize, and Leo turns sympathetic.

I’m sure if I were better versed in race relations in this country, I’d have a shit-ton to say about this scene. But as far as I in my privileged and ignorant rich white girl position can tell, this is a pretty honest and not particularly offensive exchange.

Josh, in the lecture hall, surmises that this should have been the end of it. C.J. briefs, redirects to education, all is good. “Who here has had emergency root canal?” Josh asks the audience.

A day ago, C.J. knocks on Josh’s door. She has had emergency root canal. Which Josh entertains himself by making her say several times. 1. She’s got to cancel the briefing, she says. Well, bwiefing. Josh pretends he thinks she’ll be fine to brief, but he’s just amusing himself again. 1. But they still have to have a briefing, so Josh says he’ll do it. C.J. thinks that’s a very bad idea and tells Josh he gets “hostile”. Which he insists he doesn’t. Unless hostility is called for. C.J. says to have Sam do it. Josh claims he’s in Foggy Bottom, but only so that he can make C.J. say Foggy Bottom. 1. Sam, and Toby, are both busy, so Josh is going to brief. C.J. begs him to “twy vewy, vewy hard not to destwoy us.” 1. Josh replies, “You shouldn’t say that, C.J. You’ve got a great body.” 2 and 5.

Danny tries to stop Josh from doing this, but Josh dismisses him. “Let me tell you something, compadre. I’m not your girlfriend, 4 I’m not your camp counselor 4, and I’m not your 6th grade teacher you had a crush on 4. I’m a graduate of Harvard and Yale, and I believe that my powers of debate can rise to meet the Socratic wonder that is the White House press corps.”

Give him hell, Danny.

C.J. watches the briefing from her office, looking nervously.

In the lecture hall, clearly self-mocking, Josh says everything was fine, that he dispensed with the O’Leary matter, and that he was imposing discipline that he felt C.J. lacked. 4, but ameliorated by the fact that he is, right now, being self-mocking. But he’s mocking the self from a day ago, who was clearly being a misogynist pig. So the is for a-day-ago Josh.

In the briefing room, Josh is taking questions. Josh calls on Mike, who asks when is the last time the president had cigarette. Josh calls the question stupid, and C.J., in her office, despairs. Another reporter says it’s not a stupid question if the president’s going to be so anti-tobacco, and, to Josh’s claim that the president quit smoking years ago, that the president bummed a cigarette from her two days ago. Josh skips to another reporter, who just asks why he’s not answering the question about the president smoking, and Josh says he’ll look into it. He calls on Danny.

Danny asks Josh if the president is worried at all about the effects of low unemployment and increased wages on inflation. Josh starts saying that the president is pleased about dropping unemployment rates, but Danny insists on asking if he’s doing anything about inflation. Josh doesn’t really answer again and the smoking reporter asks if the president has a plan to fight inflation. “Twenty-four Ph.ds on the council of economic advisors, Katie,” Josh condescends. “They have a plan to fight inflation.” Danny pipes up. “Is the reason you won’t tell us about it because it’s a secret?” he asks.

“Yeah, Danny,” Josh sarcastics. “He has a secret plan to fight inflation.”

In her office, C.J. puts her head in her hands.

In the lecture series, Josh acknowledges that this is when the wheels came off the wagon. The host says this is a good time for a break and invites everyone to stretch their legs. Josh goes out to the hall and starts dialing Toby, but first receives a compliment from a nubile co-ed. 6.

Toby and Sam are still lost. That celestial navigation thing doesn’t work if the thing you think is the North Star is actually the Delta Shuttle. Toby is annoyed but Sam seems unperturbed. Josh razzes them about getting lost, so Toby razzes him about the secret plan to fight inflation. (This, incidentally, is the one misuse of the frame. There should have been indications earlier – even if we didn’t understand them – that Toby was pissed at Josh for something.)

As it turns out, Toby and Sam have, in fact, found the Wesley police station.

The two of them walk in and befuddle the police officer at the desk. In his very Sam way, Sam says, “Officer Peter, we’re in a certain amount of trouble tonight, and the only thing I’ve got going for me is that you’re in more trouble than we are. My name is Sam Seaborn, I work for the president, and the sooner you reach the conclusion I’m telling the truth, the  better off we’re all going to be. Why don’t you go get your watch commander?” The officer does so.

Sam turns to Toby and geeks about directions. Toby is very not interested.

Sergeant McNamara comes out and reacts with hostility to the problem Sam describes. Then the officer shows him a newspaper photo with Toby and Sam next to the president. As the sergeant is goggling, the phone rings, and Sam advises he get that, because it’s likely the governor of Connecticut. (Is it, though? We never see or hear about that again.)

In the lecture hall, Josh acknowledges that he fell for Danny’s trick. In the briefing rom, the reporters are jumping on him. C.J. takes some more of her painkillers. Josh looks terrified and Danny looks smug.

Josh leaves the briefing room and Donna approaches him, trying to be sympathetic and failing. C.J. yells at him, Toby comes in to yell at him, and Josh fails to be as apologetic as he ought to be. And Toby makes fun of C.J.’s voice. 1.

Sam bursts in with a problem that’s not Josh. “The only thing that could make my day worse,” Toby says, in the style of all TV characters, “is if Roberto Mendoza got involved.”

Roberto Mendoza is involved.

Josh tells the lecture hall who Roberto Mendoza is, and that Toby’s in charge of his confirmation process, which is a BFD, and very difficult to do, especially with Roberto Mendoza, who is not so into the tais-toi et soi belle (“shut up and look pretty”) attitude Supreme Court nominees are supposed to adopt before their confirmation hearing.

C.J. is explaining to Leo that Roberto Mendoza has said to the Chicago Tribune that the president shouldn’t have asked Deborah O’Leary to apologize for calling Jack Wooden a racist. Only she still just had “woot canow” so Leo is too irritated to listen to her. 1. Sam repeats what C.J. said. Leo is pissed. He thought Mendoza was on vacation in Nova Scotia. Josh laughs that there are still telephones in Nova Scotia, and everyone in the room sends “STFU” vibes his way. When C.J. tries to speak again, Toby shuts her down. 1.

Leo tells us that the president’s at a thing in New Orleans, at which there will be no press, so they’ll tell him when he gets back. Or, when he wakes up and gets to the office, which, after getting home at 3:30 am, will be at 7:00 am. Poor Mr. President.

Josh offers that the senior staff be with Leo “in spirit” when Leo tells the president what’s going on the next morning. Leo tells him they’ll be there in person, too.

Josh is telling the lecture audience that saying controversial things about the president’s allies has been a theme for Roberto Mendoza over the past few months. Then his phone rings again and he has to take it.

It’s Sam. They’re in. Toby goes in to a jail cell to talk to Mendoza.

After the break, Josh is talking to the lecture audience again, telling them how Charlie Young has the second-hardest job in the White House, and that yesterday morning (or this morning), it’s Charlie’s job to wake the president up.

So we see Charlie trade work quips on the phone with the White House and be put through to the president. The very sleepy president keeps saying “What could you possibly want right now?” Charlie is very polite and professional. Jed professes to not know who he’s talking to or where he is but Charlie says, “Sir. I need you to dig in now. It was not a nightmare. You really are the president.” The president agrees to get up. I love this whole exchange.

Josh tells the lecture audience that Roberto Mendoza has been summoned to the White House, but that Mendoza planned on moseying to D.C. in about three days.

Charlie shows up in the residence to find the president still asleep. He wakes up the fairly hostile president but Charlie is unfazed. Because Charlie is the most professional person in the White House. He doesn’t even get mad when the president appears pleased that Charlie hasn’t even had the three hours of sleep that the president had.

The senior staff wait restlessly in one of the anterooms of the Oval Office. Possibly Leo’s office. I could tell if I had any memory. Or if they’d turn the lights on. Leo is flabbergasted that Mendoza is driving from Nova Scotia to D.C. Sam wants to talk directions.

The president enters, hostile, and they go into the Oval. They were in the Mrs. Landingham area, by the way. Josh starts explaining his part in the day’s catastrophe. The president is pissed, but holding himself together, despite Josh’s total idiocy. Toby then relays the Mendoza issue to the president, and Sam relays Mendoza’s travel plans, geekishly. The president hopes that nothing today makes any of this any worse.

The rest of the senior staff leave but Josh hangs around to apologize, and also mention the thing about smoking. The president continues not to kill Josh.

Josh wraps up his lecture, but when the host asks what ever happened with Mendoza, Josh says that Mendoza is still en route. What’s actually happening, of course, is that Mendoza is in jail.

Sam waits in the lobby of the police station. The sergeant says he was the one who pulled him over, and isn’t entirely convinced Mendoza wasn’t drinking. Sam says Mendoza has chronic persistent hepatitis, a non-progressive form of liver inflammation, and does not drink because drinking would kill him. If he drank enough to be considered a drunk driver, he’d be dead. Great info, Sam, but does the sergeant of the Wesley police department need to know Mendoza’s medical condition? Isn’t that kind of private?

In the jail cell, Toby asks Mendoza why he didn’t take the Breathalyzer. Mendoza feels that, given that he was driving fine, etc., the Breathalyzer is an illegal search. Toby’s like, “Oh, my God, just call me instead of going to jail,” but Roberto Mendoza is TNFTS. Also they pulled him over because he’s Hispanic.

Toby wants to leave but Mendoza wants to fight this out. He’s pissed because his kid was in the car and saw him be arrested. Toby points out that his kid has also seen him in his judge’s robes with a gavel in his hand, but he claims that his kid doesn’t understand that. Because of TV. I’m not sure you’re correct about that, Roberto Mendoza. I think if he understands what police are, and his actual father is an actual judge, he has a pretty good idea of what a judge is, but I know that’s not what this is really about.

Toby is sympathetic. He promises that he really understands Mendoza’s anger and humiliation, but also, Mendoza is going to be a fucking Supreme Court judge if he stops pulling crap like this, and that Mendoza will be in a position not only to make his family proud, but to make this better for other “pissed-off guys with dark skin” (Mendoza’s words) in America. It’s a little white-guy-explaining-to-brown-guy-how-to-be, but it’s also human and well-acted, so I’m okay with it. I, not being a brown guy.

Out in the lobby, the desk officer wants to know if Sam has missile codes. Sam says he does. Toby and Mendoza come out. Toby collects Mendoza’s stuff. The sergeant looks uncomfortable. Toby insists that the sergeant apologize to Mendoza, and to his son. The sergeant agrees quickly.

Sam calls Josh to tell him it’s over, and Josh, at the lecture, promises that this is the last time his phone will ring. He says there’s another part of this story he can’t tell right now, but they should ask him back after the Senate confirms Mendoza.

No Bechdel test was passed this episode. Only three women spoke, never to each other, and two very briefly. 10.

TMP: 20  And most of them were earned using C.J. for comedy relief, in a way that directly undercut her ability to do her job.

I will say, though, that this episode should be taught in writing classes for how to use a frame, because it’s so well done. First of all, Josh as a character is at his charming best in that lecture hall. Second, there’s a connection between the frame and the story being told, and you don’t know about it until you need to know about it. Third, we move in and out of the frame exactly enough to keep it relevant and to use it well. Also, the writing is tight as anything this episode. See how often I quoted directly? That’s because I couldn’t improve and I didn’t want you to miss out. It’s a really, really well-done episode and serves as a good reminder that, for all that I bitch, I love this show.

Grammys 2016

Kate: Honestly, this is my least favorite award show to cover because it makes me feel SO old and uncool when I don’t know who the F anyone is.

Erica: And if YOU feel old and uncool, try to imagine how I, who have never been cool about music, even when I was a teenager, feel.

Kate: Whatevs, we can judge everyone’s fashion choices even if we don’t know them. I do it on the street all the time. And at least Adele is back this year!

Erica: Yes, why should we let ignorance stop us?!


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Kate: Ok so I was hoping for something a little different/more daring since she lost all the weight, but this is pretty much what she’s always done with slightly less dramatic hair and makeup.

Erica: She lost weight? That dress does not really show it. And I don’t love the hair.

Kate: It’s ok, it’s ok, she’s too much of an angel sent to us from heaven for me to care too much about what she’s wearing. Ugh, I love her so much.

Erica: You know, I haven’t listened to her new album. I don’t know what “Hello” sounds like. That’s how out of it I am.

Kate: Please tell me you’ve watched that amazing video of her singing in the car with James Corden?

Erica: You know, I knew that it existed, I just hadn’t watched it.

Kate: Ok, stop looking at Grammys dresses and go watch that RIGHT NOW. Then come back.

Erica: So understand that this is not just my first viewing of that video but my first hearing of “Hello.” So…Does Adele just have a direct line to my tear ducts? WTF? Also, how is she so cool? How does she have that voice and those songs and a seemingly awesome, totally chill personality and she’s pretty, too (or at least very good at eye makeup)? What am I even doing with my life? I’m feeling a little inadequate right now. (Also, you know, I could make fun of the Spice Girls thing. I sure as hell would have counted it as a mark against her when I was a teenager. But then I had a little girl and started doing Just Dance and, you know what, I quite happily dance to the Spice Girls on that, so who am I to talk?)

Kate: How? Because she’s an angel, like I said. I actually like her performance look a lot better:

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Erica: To me, the performance dress is sort of more of the same. But you’re right. Who cares? She sings like Adele. And writes songs like Adele. And applies makeup like Adele. And seems like a totally cool person like Adele.


Anna Kendrick

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Kate: Less than thrilled by this — isn’t she usually a little more daring and sexy?

Erica: I don’t usually love her red carpet looks, I don’t think. This is, you know, a little underwhelming. A little dated? I don’t know, I think she can do better.


Ariana Grande

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Kate: Overall adorable, but when is she not?

Erica: I thought she had dropped the high ponytail as part of her look, but here it is. It’s good; I like it. You should keep what works.

Kate: I think she changed it from half-up high pony to full-up high pony.


Bella Hadid

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Kate: Housewives alert! Housewives alert!

Erica: Poor Bella. Imagine looking like her and still not being the “pretty” sister.

Kate: This is a little like Morticia Addams threw sparkles all over herself, especially with the slicked back hair behind the ears, but it kind of works on her. She is really quite gorgeous.

Erica: I like it. It’s very Grammys. I mean, normally, I don’t like all black and slicked back hair, but it’s very appropriate for the occasion. I’d ask what she’s doing there, but where else should models congregate than at the same places as rock stars?

Kate: She’s there because she’s dating The Weeknd!

Erica: Naturally.


Carrie Underwood

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Kate: Oooooohhh I love it.

Erica: Very glam.

Kate: I think it perfectly compliments her body and you know I love me a nice, elegant black gown. I maybe would have gone with a different necklace or no necklace, a slightly lower slit and lighter makeup, but overall fab. Best Dressed nominee!

Erica: I like the necklace. I don’t like the hair. It’s the same as Adele’s hair, but with a side part.




Kate: This is where I draw the line with the slit. Come on.

Erica: Okay, no, I don’t like the dress. It doesn’t make any sense as a garment at all and it’s not attractive or pretty or interesting in anyway.

Kate: It’s like someone suddenly stopped sewing a potentially great dress, and then Ciara threw on a sheer black scarf to cover her left boob, and tied it all together. Terrible.

Erica: BUT. Look at that body on her. That is crazy town. That is the genetic lottery plus an absolute commitment to excellence. I must applaud it. If I were her, I would just put on a tiny little slip and a big diamond necklace and call it a day.

Kate: Yes. And her hair and makeup are, of course, on fleek.


Demi Lovato

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Kate: I. Am. So. Over. Tuxes. On. Women. SO OVER IT!

Erica: I will never be over the tux on women, if it’s done right. This is not done right. It’s not done right because the jacket is not evocative enough, and it’s not done right because tuxes don’t have skirts.

Kate: The skirt makes it a thousand times worse. Are there no other ways to be “alternative” and “buck trends” on the red carpet, Demi? ARE THERE NO OTHER WAYS? Worst Dressed nominee!

Erica: Oh, I wouldn’t go that far. (Although I haven’t looked at everything yet.) I am enjoying her necklace and understated makeup.


Ellie Goulding

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Kate: Oh my god, I love it so much.

Erica: From the front, I like it fine. It’s very nice on her. From the back, it’s even better.

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Kate: What a lovely shade of pink, perfect material and silhouette on her, elegant in the front and sassy in the back. Perfect hair and makeup. Best Dressed nominee! (Only thing I’d change is the necklace.) And I can’t get enough of that song — WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOOOORRRR?

Erica: I’m very annoyed that the Fifty Shades movie got good things, like this song, or really very nice OPI nail colors.


Florence Welch

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Kate: Even with the sequined dragonfly and star and moon patches, this is actually fairly normal for her, no?

Erica: For her, yeah. Does she have young daughters? Because this definitely looks like something a 4-year-old, particularly girly, little girl might design. Which is not exactly a criticism.

Kate: What about a 7-year-old little girl, like Zoe? I feel like she’d like this, except for the pink.

Erica: Honestly? This is a little immature for Zoe.

Kate: The pink looks better on Ellie Goulding than on Florence, but I don’t think she gives one F about it.

Erica: I think that’s an accurate assessment.


Kacey Musgraves

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Kate: So she’s the one who had that INSANE hair at the CMA Awards that one time. This is much tamer.

Erica: I don’t love it. But I like how it’s just the right amount of nuts.

Kate: I actually really like it — it’s got elements of elegance (I like the sound of that, “elements of elegance”) mixed with funk, which is exactly what one should wear to the Grammys. The lipstick may be a little too matchy-matchy with the dress, and I maybe wish the whole dress were all purple instead of purple, blue, and green, but I lurve the eye makeup AND even the high pony.

Erica: I like that she lets the dress be nuts and then she has simple hair and relatively simple (but matchy) makeup. She’s got a point of view when it comes to clothes (or her stylist does) and I appreciate that.


Kaley Cuoco

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Kate: She continues to confuse me, but for some reason I like this sparkly jumpsuit, even with the cutout. It sort of looks like she repurposed something Kate Hudson has worn.

Erica: It is, you’re right, very Kate Hudson. But I still don’t like it.

Kate: I don’t like the tousled hair with it; it would look better with a slicked-back bun. I also think the length of the pants is extremely tacky, and the overall thing is probably too casual for the Grammys, but her level casualness or fanciness honestly doesn’t matter. Meow!

Erica: I hate the hair a lot. You can’t just ignore your dye jobs and then call it ombre! (I say this with extraordinary umbridge for someone whose grays are reaching past her ears right now.)

Lady Gaga

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Kate: Remember when I was bored by her black dress at the Golden Globes and wanted her to start doing this again? Be careful what you wish for.

Erica: I mean, it’s not a dress made of meat or anything.

Kate: I think this is related to her David Bowie homage, and it is true Gaga, but that doesn’t mean it looks GOOD.

Erica: Oh, wait, if it’s about David Bowie, I forgive all. Sniff.


Meghan Trainor

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Kate: She has red hair? Wasn’t it blonde?

Erica: It was, but I like it red.

Kate: Ok, yes, she confirmed during her pre-show interview with Ryan Seacrest that she used to be blonde. I’m actually really into her lately.

Erica: Yeah? I feel so torn. On the one hand, her songs are so catchy and fun. On the other hand, they have really not so great messaging. I do find it hilarious — her “All About That Bass” is on the latest iteration of Just Dance, but the lyrics have been all messed around. Instead of “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night,” it’s something like, “Boys like you for the beauty they find inside.” I’m like, come on now. That’s not what the song is.

Kate: Anyway, this is kind of what I wanted Adele to wear, but it looks really nice on Meghan here. It’s not the most daring thing to wear to your first (or second?) Grammys, but how daring are you going to get when your dad is your date?

Erica: Aw, that’s cute that her dad is her date. She does dress like alternative-universe-Adele a lot, though.


Selena Gomez

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Kate: Still over the sequins AND the cutouts, but I get that they’re both appropriate for the Grammys.

Erica: Yeah, to me, this is a very basic Grammys dress. Not bad, not remarkable.

Kate: I just feel like she’s done this before and I want to see her do other things. She also looks extremely displeased to be there, which honestly always everything worse.

Erica: Maybe that’s just her face.

Kate: Hang on, she changed into something different to present — I like this MUCH better! Why didn’t she just wear this the whole time?

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Erica: That is prettier. Not particularly more interesting, but prettier.


Taylor Swift

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Kate: Oh god.

Erica: So, we have recently become Swiftys in this house, which has been weird for me. But this? I am not in love.

Kate: Can we start with the INSANE amount of bronzer or spray tan or other fake tan or all of the above on her arms/shoulders/chest? Does that not rub off on people when she hugs them? Ew!

Erica: Heehee. Now that’s going to be part of my imagination all day — that her “squad” is covered in rubbed-off tanner and can’t say anything because Taylor will throw a hissy fit but behind her back they’re all, “Weren’t you supposed to help her with this? Is she about to hug Paul McCartney? Should we stop her?”

Kate: And I get that she has a sick body that can pull off something like that, but that doesn’t mean she should. It’s a pair of shiny hot pink bloomers with a huge shiny hot pink skirt around it and a red bandeau top! Why not just do the red bandeau top as a whole slinky column dress? She looks great in red.

Erica: Those are not bloomers. But I agree, this is not a great look.

Kate: Fine, it’s a bathing suit bottom. I don’t even hate the choker, and I usually do, or the fresh-cut bob with bangs, save for the grey blonde color. (I hate that trend.) The one positive thing I have to say: Excellent face makeup. But really can’t get over that bronzer.

Erica: I mean, look, she’s been perfect on the red carpet for ten years. She was bound to have a misstep.

Kate: Ian thinks she looks “ridiculous”, and he means that in a good way. So there you have it.


Tori Kelly

Grammys Tori.jpg

Kate: Hey I actually know who this person is, and I like one of her songs! Wait, two!

Erica: I don’t at all know who this person is.

Kate: Well, watch those videos. I think this is nice if not a little boring? It’s more of a Golden Globes dress than a Grammys dress — maybe one borrowed from Kate Winslet? — but she’s a pop singer and doesn’t get invited to the Golden Globes. The color is great on her, and her hair looks very luscious and sassy.

Erica: I like the hairstyle but I don’t love the blonde color on her. The dress is fine but unremarkable.



Grammys Zendaya.jpg

Kate: Is that hair a joke or a prank? Something in retaliation of Giuliana Rancic’s comments about her hair last year, which was the catalyst that unraveled Fashion Police for the umpteenth time?

Erica: Well, she’s usually wearing something weird.

Kate: Whatever it is, I hate it. And the tux.

Erica: Actually, I think this is a better tux than Demi Lovato’s. Too bad the hair is so dreadful.

Kate: So before we get to Best and Worst dressed, I have to say that a lot of these outfits look a LOT better on TV and in motion than in still photos. It must be really hard for these ladies to figure out how to look best in both, but I can’t feel too sorry for them.

Erica: Yeah, I’ll cry on the inside. So Best Dressed? I’m leaning Ellie Goulding.

Kate: Yes! And I’m listening to her RIGHT NOW!

Erica: Worst Dressed, I hate to do it, but looking over our choices, I’m going to have to say Ciara. Because that is, actually, the worst dress. Even if her body is slammin’.

Kate: Totally ok with that. Now we have less than two weeks to prepare for the Mother of All Award Shows! Until then, loyal readers!

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing,” Episode 1.14, “Take This Sabbath Day”

Boy, it’s been a while. And now I have other shows I want to do, in other formats. So I’d better get my ass in gear.

As a reminder, 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 (or, sometimes, maternal qualities) 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.

Ugh, I forgot. I kind of hate this one. I actually like the rhythm of it, if that makes any sense. Although if you’re an Aaron Sorkin fan, you probably do. I just find it somewhat boring and pedantic and also, there’s going to be a limited amount of stuff about girls.

Oh, way, no, this is the episode in which Joey Lucas is introduced. There will be a little.

Also, I have the strong feeling I’ve done this recap before, at least in part. But I can find no evidence on WordPress that this is true.

Okay, so, previously on “The West Wing,” nothing at all happened that will be relevant in this episode.

It’s Friday evening at the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s apparently time for retrenchment at the U.S. Supreme Court, because damn, it is dark. We saving on electricity here? The Supreme Court is announcing that they will not be staying the execution of somebody. That somebody’s three lawyers – the tallest one in particular – look very disappointed. Or at least they would, if I could see their faces.

Those three lawyers pedeconference outside the Supreme Court. The short, Jewish-looking one and the the bald black one argue about who they know at the White House, that they can call at 8:00 on a Friday night. The bald, black one surmises that they’ll only be able to get ahold of the switchboard operator. But the tall one in the middle, who’s a total Hey, It’s That Guy!, used to beat up Sam Seaborn in high school.

At the White House, Josh is excited to leave and get to his friend’s bachelor party. Donna reminds him that he has to see Sam before leaving. As they pedeconference over to the Sam part of the building, Donna reminds Josh that his system is too delicate for a lot of drinking, and Josh informs Donna that while men do still like naked women, they no longer enjoy looking at them in a room full of their best friends. This whole exchange is very Donna-as-Josh’s-mother-and-girlfriend, so I’m giving it a but it’s also very cute.

Bonnie (ah, Bonnie is the black assistant whose face I can rarely see!) reminds Sam that he wanted to see Josh about O’Dwyer. As Sam and Bonnie get ready to go, Sam explains that he made an appointment with O’Dwyer’s campaign manager, Joey Lucas, for the next day. But Josh will have to take it because Sam will be sailing. Josh is not pleased, and neither is Donna when Josh tells her if he has to be there, so does she. She was planning on going shopping. He mollifies her by offering to buy her shoes afterward, which, yes, 4, but also, mildly cute.


Sam tells Bonnie he’s seriously leaving, as she cheers him on, clearly trying to get out of there as well. No pager, he says. No cell phone. Well, maybe pager. Maybe cell phone. But he’s leaving. Now! Except, as we knew, his phone rings. And he stays to answer it.

After the credits, Sam is meeting somewhere outside with Bobby, the tall lawyer who used to beat him up. Bobby is being pretty belligerent now in insisting that Sam force the president to pardon his client. But this is an Aaron Sorkin show, so belligerence is an effective persuasion tactic. Sam says he’ll try, and even reveals when the president lands the next morning and where Toby Ziegler goes to shul on Saturday mornings. FFS, Sam.

Sam heads back to the White House to get his stuff and tells Leo what’s going on. Leo is not happy and says they thought the court was going to send it back to the 7th circuit. Sam says he’ll brief Toby before he goes. When Leo asks why they don’t just execute him tonight, why the execution is scheduled for Monday at 12:01 am, Sam tells him it’s because we don’t execute people on the Sabbath. The Jewish or the Christian one.

Isn’t the Muslim Sabbath Friday? Shouldn’t we be trying to improve the perception in our society of Islam so that we can parlay that into all Sabbaths being non-work days? Let’s get on this, people.

Sam goes to sign out of the building, and then, completely predictably, comes back to his office. And then he doesn’t take off his coat and he only turns on his little desk light and starts to read this enormous law book. Did Aaron Sorkin use up NBC’s electricity budget? Why are there no lights on in this episode?

It’s Saturday at 9:00 am. Donna is in the office. She finds a very smelly Josh asleep on his office floor. There is a red fringe-y thing around his neck. Donna starts pestering him. Yes, Josh came there after the party, which just ended a couple of hours ago. He couldn’t go home because he couldn’t find his house keys. Or his house. He is both hungover and still drunk. Donna is super-pissed. And disgusted. I have to give this a 4. It’s all very “Oh, my God, why is this stupid girl bothering me about stupid girl things?”

Donna says she’s going to find him clothes and then says, “Are you going to listen to me from now on?”

“I’m not even listening to you right now,” Josh replies. 5.

“I SAID ARE YOU GOING TO LISTEN TO ME FROM NOW ON?!” Donna knows he’s hungover. So good for her. -5.

The president has landed and Leo is greeting him. C.J. is demonstrating how little she fears for her job by complaining loudly and bitterly about the president’s conversation on the flight. -5. Charlie is very tired. Leo gives the president a very brief version of the 411.

Donna has brought Josh Sam’s foul-weather gear so that Josh won’t be naked while Donna goes to have his suit dry-cleaned. Why doesn’t Josh have extra clothes at the office? He pulls overnighters all the time. Josh fears he’s going to look like the Gordon’s fisherman.

Toby is in shul. The rabbi has just started his sermon when Toby’s pager goes off. Toby goes outside and calls back Sam, who asks if the rabbi is giving a sermon about capital punishment. He is. Vengeance is not Jewish, the rabbi is saying, in a very Jew-y accent. Sam says the appeal was denied and promises to explain when Toby gets to work.

“Are you the unmitigated jackass who’s choking off funding for the O’Dwyer campaign?” someone busts into Josh’s office, yelling. Look, you start off a question with, “Are you the unmitigated jackass” and the answer is “Yes. Yes, it’s Josh. For sure.” It’s actually two people yelling, Marlee Matlin in sign language and her translator. Josh is very much not catching what’s going on. And he’s in an undershirt and suspendered yellow plastic pants.

There must be something made about how Joey is a woman, not a man, and also, how silly Josh looks. Joey is not impressed with how hungover/still drunk Josh is. Donna comes in with Josh’s clothes. They exit so Josh can change, and Donna observes that Joey Lucas is a deaf woman, and also, that Sam needs to see Josh. Josh wants to know why Sam is there, and Donna says all she knows to say is, “The appeal was denied.” Josh is saddened.

Toby is clarifying with Sam that Toby’s rabbi spoke to Lawyer Bobby. Mandy is there to ask Exposition Fairy questions, but a) it’s believable that she might not know, as she’s a public relations person, not a policy wonk, and she’s not asking obvious questions, and b) it is a legitimate part of her job right now to be asking these questions. So no points for that.

Everyone splits to do their jobs, and Josh says he’s meeting with Joey Lucas. Sam asks what “he’s” like, and Josh responds, “Well, for a campaign manager, he’s got very nice legs.” Is there a more asshole way to have answered that question? 2. But I wish I could give it many 2s.


When Josh leaves, Toby continues wondering how Lawyer Bobby knew he went to shul. Then Toby doesn’t fire Sam when Sam reveals that Sam told Lawyer Bobby.

Leo gives the president some info about the case. The president is not looking forward to dealing with this. When Leo leaves the room, the president asks Charlie if he would want to see the guy who killed Charlie’s mother executed. Charlie says he’d want to kill the guy himself.

Which, in my opinion, is the reason we shouldn’t have the death penalty. But that’s neither here nor there.

Joey Lucas is arguing about how the DNC could cut off funding just as O’Dwyer is doing so well. Josh informs her that it’s precisely because O’Dwyer’s doing well. The person he’s campaigning against is such a right-wing nut job that every one of his soundbites is worth $1 million in the DNC’s coffers. Joey wants to see the president. Josh calls her a “lunatic lady” 8 and says that there’s no way she’s going to see the president. Of course the president walks up behind him at that moment. The president invites them all on a pedeconference. Joey gloats.

C.J. asks Carol for biographical information on Simon Cruz, the guy about to be executed. First, she’s going to need to know how to spell his last name.

The president determines that Joey Lucas is a Dutch Quaker from Pennsylvania. As they settle into the Oval Office, the president asks Joey what she thinks he should do about Simon Cruz. Joey thinks the death penalty is wrong. The president says it’s supported by 71% of Americans. Joey says that’s a political problem. The president says he’s a politician.

Josh goes to usher Joey and her translator Kenny out of the office, but Joey is a focused woman. She asks the president about O’Dwyer. The president says O’Dwyer is an “empty shirt” who’s running for Congress “because it’s a great gig.” Meanwhile, “the devil you know” is better. Then he dismisses her, because he’s done with her. 5.


Kenny politely says goodbye to Josh. Joey makes rude hand gestures. I like her.

Toby is back at shul, where a woman is practicing a song for a funeral service. The rabbi is sitting in otherwise empty pews. I think it’s Sunday morning now. The rabbi gets the episode title when he tells Toby he was hoping he’d “take this Sabbath day” to consider the death penalty. Toby points out that while vengeance might not be Jewish, neither is the president. He’s Catholic, though, and Catholics are also anti-death penalty. But of course, the president can’t make these decisions based on religion. They argue about the Torah for a little while. Then Toby says he thinks that the woman practicing the song was put there for his benefit, and the rabbi acknowledges that she was. Boy, that’s a great plan right there, isn’t it? What if Toby hadn’t shown up until, oh, four o’clock in the afternoon? Was that woman just supposed to sing sadly all day?

C.J. is staring into space when Mandy comes in and asks if she has everything. C.J. claims to have no position on capital punishment, but that she wishes she didn’t know his mother’s name when she is the one who has to tell the president when he’s dead.

I think this passes the Bechdel test, btw. -10.

Although I don’t know what to do with the fact that the two senior staffer women are the two senior staffers who don’t necessarily think the death penalty is wrong. I think I might give this an 8.


Toby goes in to the fairly dark Oval to talk to the president. Toby tells the president about his conversation with his rabbi. He tells the president that while the Torah doesn’t prohibit capital punishment, the rabbis of the Talmud made it damn near impossible to use. Toby thinks that we should do the same. Then Leo comes in and Toby goes with a sheepish look that makes me fall even deeper in love with him.

The president says he can’t commute the sentence just because he doesn’t like the death penalty; it’ll leave the next guy with huge 8th amendment (no cruel and unusual punishments) problems. Leo thinks he can let that be the next guy’s problem. An assistant comes in to announce that Sam is waiting. The president asks for a minute and then shakes his head at Leo.

Leo, perfectly comprehending, goes out and walks Sam away. Sam is righteously indignant but Leo doesn’t care. He says this was all bungled from the beginning, and that, had he known that the court wouldn’t send it back to the 7th circuit, he’d have kept the president out of the country until Monday so that they wouldn’t have to handle this. Sam is very disappointed by that. “There are times, Leo, when we are absolutely nowhere.”

Josh is at a hotel bar where someone’s playing piano. Joey and Kenny walk in. Joey’s not pleased to be meeting him. She says her flight’s in one hour. Ah, the pre-9/11 days, when you could set up a meeting an hour before your flight. Josh is apologizing on behalf of the president, although not particularly well, which is not surprising for the president or for Josh.

Of course, this being a Sorkin teleplay, Joey does not mind the bad apology and concedes that her candidate is indeed a schmuck. Josh says the president thinks that Joey should run for something herself. Joey is touched.

It’s Sunday at 11:57 pm. The president’s hometown priest, played by Karl Malden, whom I know best from his role in the movie Gypsy, comes to talk to the president. He asks about the red phone and sort of gushes about how amazing it is that this kid from his parish can just call the pope. The president is not at all charmed by Karl Malden, though I kind of am.

Jed really wants Karl Malden to know that he tried to find a way to commute Simon Cruz’s sentence. But even though he prayed about it, no wisdom came to him, and he’s pissed off about that. Karl Malden tells the classic tale of the guy in the flood who refuses to evacuate his home, because God will save him. The flood waters are rising, and he refuses to get on a rowboat, because God will save him. The flood waters are rising, and he refuses to get on a helicopter, because God will save him. He drowns. When he gets to heaven, God says, “What are you doing here? I sent you a warning to evacuate, a rowboat, and a helicopter!” Karl Malden tells the president that God sent him a priest, a rabbi, and a Quaker; he can’t complain that God gave him no wisdom.

C.J. comes in to tell the president that Simon Cruz is dead and we hear the woman from synagogue singing on the soundtrack. You gotta give it to us Jews, we do mourning music really well. So what does Jed want from Karl Malden? Just that Karl hear his confession.

The end.

TMP: 5 A very low misogyny count this week, although that’s mainly because this episode was about a BIG ISSUE, and women don’t have any business getting involved in BIG ISSUES.

And also because some of the women got their own back a little.


SAGs 2016

Kate: Gosh I love award show season.

Erica: So here’s what happened for me. I actually remembered to record the SAGs AND I recorded the red carpet coverage on E!, which is a totally different channel than the one airing the actual awards, but I still found the red carpet coverage and recorded it. I was very proud of myself. I knew I wasn’t going to watch it because we were going out to dinner and then I had to work the next morning, so I figured I’d get to this Sunday afternoon. Then I couldn’t sleep. I woke up at around 2:00 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep, so at 3:00 a.m. I said, “F*ck it, what else should I do?” Then I realized that a) covering SAG fashion was a perfect 3 am.. activity, and b) if I wasn’t sleeping now I was going to need to in the afternoon anyway. So I got my iPad, on which I can stream Tivo, and I sat down at my computer, and I discovered I can only stream Tivo from the downstairs TV. Not the bedroom. So I’m sitting here looking at the arrivals photos on Getty Images as usual instead of viewing the telecast WHICH I EVEN RECORDED AND EVERYTHING. This is the story of my life.

Kate: That sounds extremely complicated. I always forget that the SAGs cover TV, too.

Erica: Anyway, here’s who I’m seeing.

Amy Poehler

2016 SAGs Amy Poehler.jpg

Kate: Dark-haired Amy! Dark-haired Amy!

Erica: Ooh, I do like the hair color.

Kate: My love for her/Parks and Rec exceeds my ability to judge of her fashion choices. Black is always a safe bet, I don’t like those pointy strapless things on anyone, but overall quite elegant.

Erica: The dress is fine. It’s not going to, like, change the face of fashion, but she looks fine.


Anna Chlumsky

2016 SAGs Anna Chlumsky.jpg

Kate: YEESH that hair!

Erica: It’s hard to see in full-body pics, but she did this weird sculpty thing with the baby hairs around her forehead. I don’t understand fully what that’s about. I know it’s a thing in “chola” fashion, but a) that’s not how the chola girls do it, and b) nothing else about the look would indicate that that’s what she was going for. (Also I think I might be too white to use the word chola.)

Kate: It’s just awful! The dress is ok — black satin is a harsh look on her, and the hem is a mess — but it’s hard to look at anything but that hair. Scary.


Anna Faris

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Kate: This is kind of fabulous in a Space Age kind of way, no?

Erica: I would like to note that the slit is going to be very big this evening.

Kate: Isn’t it always?

Erica: I think I like it. I didn’t at first but it’s growing on me. I like the structured look of the top. The material looks really elegant. I think she accessorized subtly and well. It doesn’t feel as bubbly as she usually is, but I’m going to come out in favor of this one.

Kate: Me too, even though it combines two elements I hate: mock turtleneck, short sleeves.


Ariel Winter

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Kate: Taking some style tips from castmate Sofia Vergara with that mermaid bottom, are we Ariel?

Erica: I don’t know that Sofia Vergara can actually claim ownership of the mermaid dress.

Kate: She looks fab — mostly because she has a fab body — but her hair is a little TOO black (and too Kardashian, to be honest). Great makeup.

Erica: She really did become all kinds of curvy. But yes, hair is too harsh. It is possible the Kardashians are more her style role models that Sofia.

Kate: It’s a sad, sad world.


Brie Larson

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Erica: She’s in Room, right?

Kate: Yes.

Erica: Not seeing that. No way, no how. My book club is considering reading an Oscar-nominated novel, but when we were reading the list, I gave a hard pass to Room. Well, I think what happened is I just started shaking my head spasmodically.

Kate: I thought you did read the book and are just refusing to see the movie?

Erica: I did read the book. I don’t want to so much as skim over it again, and I really don’t want to sit at a table with a bunch of other women in a public place and TALK about it. That would be awful.

Kate: I now feel like I should see the movie, as part of my quest.

Erica: Anyway, this dress, I think I almost really like it. I really like the color. The drape is really great on her. I like the weird things happening around the neck. It’s just that the ties are kind of stupid-looking and the slit is a little too aggressive for the rest of the dress. There should be more drapeyness involved there. It lacks subtlety.

Kate: It’s really hard to wear any type of light blue on the red carpet, but that insanely perfect tan she has makes it work. The color, that is. The dress, though — WHAT are the stupid knots all over and WHAT is that orange seat belt-looking thing in the back?! Did the designer run out of blue material?

2016 SAGs Brie Larson back.jpg

Erica: Ooh, wait, I didn’t see that. That is awful. That is so disappointing. Now I don’t like this dress at all anymore.

Kate: I am also having a problem with her hair, which is actually a glorified Topsy Tail. Remember Topsy Tails?

Erica: Not until you just said it right now but OMG yes. It does look like that.

Kate: She looks very pretty because she is very pretty, I am just not feeling all the different elements of the dress (and hair). I do, however, really like the red-orange lip.


Christina Hendricks

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Erica: You’ve seen the Veronica Mars movie, right?

Kate: No not yet because you betrayed me and watched it without me!

Erica: Sorry. Go watch it right now so you can understand this quote. She should wear this, and only this, forever.

Kate: She has such a perfect freaking face and perfect freaking hair. Very Adele-like makeup around the eyes.

Erica: Yes. And hair that Adele would like to achieve, but has to go to sculpted to actually get there.

Kate: I want to like the dress, but I don’t. It’s not the light color against her light skin, and it’s not the pattern; it’s the material, which looks ill-fitting on her, AND it’s that damn one-shoulder bow — didn’t we get rid of that after Charlize Theron’s Oscar dress disaster? — AND it’s the bustle in the back, which is too Cinderella-evil-stepsisters.

Erica: No I don’t care, it’s so Hollywood 1950s glam and I love it. She can wear it because she has a Hollywood 1950s glam body. Charlize has a 2000s body.


Christina Ricci

2016 SAGs Christina Ricci.jpg

Kate: My twin!

Erica: She looks less like your twin with the blond hair.

Kate: I don’t love her with blond hair, especially paired with such harshly dark makeup. I swear to god we’ve seen this dress before. On Cate Blanchett, maybe? Claire Danes?

Erica: I’m thinking Jessica Alba.

Kate: It looks great on her, we’ve just seen it before, of that I am sure. It would probably only work on a really petite frame like hers. The whole look does not offend me in terms of people telling me I look like her.

Erica: Eh, I don’t love it. It looks to me like someone couldn’t decide if they were designing athletic wear, a nightgown, or a fancy dress. And I don’t like the blond hair.


Claire Danes

2016 SAGs Claire Danes.jpg

Kate: I love when Angela wears her hair like that. Her skin/makeup looks very fresh and sun-kissed and natural.

Erica: I can’t believe how good she looks. She is still super-skinny, but this dress does not make her look skeletal, and she’s actually smiling!

Kate: I don’t love the two-tonedness of the dress, but yes the silhouette looks amazing on her lanky frame and honestly probably wouldn’t work on anyone else.


Ellie Kemper

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Kate: Kimmy! When are we getting a season 2?!

Erica: Ooh, I don’t think we’ve talked about it since I watched it, too! I thought it was great! And it can’t be that expensive to produce; I’m sure we’ll get a new season soon.

Kate: I absolutely love her hair and makeup — I’m digging these short bobs, ladies — and I love the TOP of the dress. If only the top continued through the bottom, instead of that picture from a ninth grade biology textbook. That’s what that is on the bottom, right?

Erica: How would I know? I couldn’t really remember what was in my ninth grade biology textbook when I was in ninth grade.

Kate: On second thought, I may not like it if the top continued through the bottom because I don’t know if I like her in all black. Now I’m just confused.

Erica: It’s a confusing dress. She’s a fabulous person, though!

Kate: Totes


Emilia Clarke

2016 SAGs Emilia Clarke.jpg

Kate: Luuuuuurrrrvveeee her hair and makeup, and the color of the dress, and the top/neckline of the dress. If only the bottom were more sleek and columny rather than poofy, then it’d be perfect/Best Dressed Nominee.

Erica: This is very, very different from her. I like it a lot but I kind of couldn’t tell who she was until I looked at the captions on the photos.

Kate: It does look like something unnatural has happened to her face.


Eva Longoria

2016 SAGs Eva Longoria.jpg

Erica: So tell us everything about how utterly charming and delightful she is in person.

Kate: I actually didn’t see her at WWHL, I saw Khloe Kardashian.

Erica: Oh! I thought you were seeing her. That’s disappointing. I do not love this dress, I must say. I don’t love the color, and I feel like its va-va-voom qualities are not played off with panache. By the dress, I mean, not by Eva herself, who is 100% panache 100% of the time.

Kate: Yea, I don’t love the long sleeves, or all the other nonsense going on all over the dress — sequins, see-through, sequins, see-through. You are correct in that the hunter green color is gross.  

Erica: Also, her hair is a little too slicked and with the color of the dress, it’s sort of sea-creature-risen-from-the-deep.

Kate: As Mom would say, she looks like a drowning victim. I HATE slicked back hair on the sides/behind the ears.


Helen Mirren

2016 SAGs Helen Mirren.jpg

Erica: Let’s just give her all the prizes forever.

Kate: Literally, yes.


January Jones

2016 SAGS January Jones.jpg

Erica: I just don’t even with her. How do you, January Jones, very tiny human being, find a dress that makes you look thick? And, you know, I’m not necessarily against dresses that look sort of like you wrapped a sheet around yourself, but…This really looks like you wrapped a sheet around yourself. The sleeves, in particular, look like the designer just went, “Ah, f*ck it.” And also, if you’re going to wrap a sheet around yourself, maybe don’t do platforms?

Kate: Oh my god, I didn’t even know this was her. I saw this dress start coming down the red carpet and had no idea who it was, so I ignored it. Yikes!

Erica: I do like the bracelets. And I really like the smiling like she’s happy to be there. Although maybe the smile is about, “This is finally, FINALLY, my very last appearance as concerns Betty Draper! FREEDOM!!!”

Kate: But she looks thicker in the face, too, so maybe she just IS thicker? Not that there’s anything wrong with that?

Erica: Okay, then that dress is not flattering to her new curves. There’s nothing wrong with getting thicker/being thick if you dress for it.


Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Kate: I really like that she went with a pattern because she usually does solid white or solid black, and her hair is effing perfect, but the bottom of the dress is awful. Very awkward length. I also don’t like the necklace, but I never like short necklaces with strapless gowns.

Erica: This is a very different look for her. More girlish. I like it. I think she’s pulling it off well.

Kate: No, you’re wrong, it’s bad. If the dress were T-length and the skirt started poofing out from the waist, and the pattern also started fading out there, it’d be adorable, but probably not appropriate for the SAGs.

Erica: But most importantly, did you see the purse?

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Kate: I saw her post that on Instagram and thought it was some kind of centerpiece on the table. Alas, it’s her purse.


Julianna Marguiles

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Erica: I don’t think much one way or the other about the dress. I just always see her and go, “Oh, yeah, I should binge-watch “The Good Wife” sometime!”

Kate: She has the slicked-back-behind-the-ears hair too! WTF, ladies?

Erica: She’s awfully narrow, isn’t she?

Kate: Always. I like the dress, but think it’d be better as a strapless. With her hair all the way up, and a little loose.


Julianne Moore

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Erica: You know, she’s a talented and amazing enough person to do the “F*ck it” thing like Meryl Streep. Instead she chooses to wear hideous things like this. There is a sharp distinction between “F*ck it” and “No, I actually think this looks super glamorous and good.” It does not, Julianne. It does not.

Kate: Does her stylist not allow her to wear anything BUT sequins? Also, what color is this, yellow? Green? Both? Please advise.

Erica: This color is Big Bag of Nope.


Kaley Cuoco

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Erica: This is a person who never looks the same twice. Like, I find her utterly unrecognizable every single time I see her on the red carpet.

Kate: Is she, like, known in Hollywood to be completely nuts? I just watched her on Lip Sync Battle and she just looked like she doesn’t have all her marbles, also evidenced by this slicked-back/up top knot and ridiculous cutout dress. Finally, we can agree on not liking cutouts!

Erica: I think maybe she is. She frequently looks nuts on the red carpet.

Kate: Hold on, it’s not a cut out, because where it looks like there’s a cutout, it’s actually just mesh in the exact color of her skin. Ew!

Erica: Ew! I hate mesh WAY more than I hate cutouts!


Kate Winslet

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Kate: Wowwwwwwww.

Erica: See, for me, very nice, but not wow.

Kate: Again, a very Kate Winslet choice, but that is not a negative thing at all. Perfectly tailored to her body, great color on her, elegant hair, slightly flashier jewelry than usual which is a good thing — all around effing fabulous.

Erica: Right, I guess that for me, Kate Winslet always looks lovely and perfect but never interesting, so it’s never wow for me. She is a wow human being, but her looks are always exactly perfect and therefore kinda boring.


Kiernan Shipka

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Kate: Oh this freaks me out.

Erica: Man, she looks so NORMAL. I sort of like it when she’s in something sort of whackadoo.

Kate: No, it’s not that she looks normal, it’s that she just still looks like a child, just taller. Freaky.

Erica: You are so silly, Kate.

Kate: I appreciate that her hair and makeup are simple for such a young creature, but their simplicity doesn’t match the dress. Speaking of the dress, I’d like it much better as T length. Then it’d be quite Audrey.

Erica: You know, it really would.


Kristen Wiig

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Kate: When I only saw the top of this I thought, ‘I feel like this is a very non-Kristen Wiig choice, right?’ Then I saw the bottom.

Erica: I think this is the kind of thing I was expecting Kiernan Shipka to wear.

Kate: I actually really like the pony — what else would you do with that asymmetrical neckline? — but we all know how I feel about ladies wearing pants on the red carpet. I just feel like she should be going clubbing in that, not to the SAG Awards.

Erica: And we know how I feel about half-black, half-white evening attire.

Kate: So true.


Laverne Cox

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Erica: First of all, see what I mean about the Night of the Slit?

Kate: Yea, but every red carpet is a Night of the Slit.

Erica: Second of all, I think she’s really getting this red carpet thing down.

Kate: Oh, I am less thrilled by this than her last, like, 5 red carpet looks, but it’s still nice.

Erica: I’m just saying, the first few, she was a little second-rate-pageant. Now she’s in her groove.

Kate: I love the color but it’s probably better on lighter skin tones, and I don’t like that her lip color exactly matches the dress. And the top of the dress isn’t all that flattering on her. Hair looks lovely, though.


Maisie Williams

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Kate: So cute!

Erica: I love how she gets so girly when she’s not Arya.

Kate: Really love the color and the cut and the hairdo on such a young fresh face, probably wouldn’t like any of it at all on anyone else.

Erica: Color, great. Dress, very interestingly shaped and cute. Am in favor of it all.


Marisa Tomei

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Kate: Flawless.

Erica: Yeah? Not a little, uh, bathrobe-y?

Kate: Sparkly fabulous bathrobe. I also feel like we have maybe seen this before, and I’m still over the sequins as I said in our Golden Globes post, but it just looks great on her.

Erica: I don’t know. I wasn’t going to include this one because I don’t like saying bad things about Marisa Tomei.


Nicole Kidman

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Erica: I know you hate this.

Kate: So you’re Nicole Kidman and you look essentially flawless in absolutely everything, and you have the world’s most perfect hair next to Connie Britton, but you look like you’re having dinner on a cruise ship. A very expensive cruise ship, but a cruise ship nonetheless.

Erica: I’m not fully disagreeing with you. And it’s a very unusual choice for Nicole Kidman. She usually chooses more polished things. And it’s very young, and I don’t mean that she looks ugly or that she’s revealing parts of her body that we don’t want to see, because I’d never say that and she’s not. But it does kind of look like what you’d wear to an awards show if you were 16 years old and plucked from obscurity because a big-deal agent happened to be at your school play in a tiny rural town in Tennessee because her nephew goes to that school and she plucked you out of obscurity and now you’re on the red carpet and you just can’t believe that this is where life has taken you and you want ALL THE PINK AND SPARKLES!

Kate: Or, cruise ship.

Erica: But the thing is, the dress is a particular thing, and it is doing the job of being its particular thing very well. And I even like the necklace with it and the hairstyle.

Kate: No, there are multiple necklaces, which is very casual, no? Her hair always looks good.

Erica: I know, you think I’ve lost it.


Queen Latifah

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Kate: I liked her Golden Globes look a lot better, but this is still nice. Minus the hair.

Erica: To me, it’s fine. Not gorgeous, not amazing, but fine.

Kate: I guess I’m not over the sequins if the sequins are on Queen Latifah.


Rachel McAdams

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Kate: This is a very different Rachel than the one we saw at the Golden Globes, and I have to say I liked that one better.

Erica: She continues to be an extremely adorable person. My only thing is, with this dress, I would have gone with more sculpted hair and a bolder makeup look.

Kate: Yea, I don’t like her hair blond or this short, and it looks like she’s not wearing much makeup at all, and she looks pretty unhappy to be there. I also REALLY don’t like t-shirt dresses. At all. The skirt is flawless, the rest is your basic disaster.


Rooney Mara

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Erica: It wouldn’t actually kill you to smile, you know. You’re here because your career is going extremely well and lots of people are admiring your work.

Kate: Well I like this a lot better than what she wore to the Globes, and I don’t mean to “skinny shame” or whatever they’re calling it these days, but her thin frame is rather alarming to me. Wait, is that the same EXACT hairstyle that she wore to the Globes? Come on.

Erica: I think it’s, legit, her frame, though. I like this less but it’s not that intriguing a dress, and I kind of liked the Globes one.

Kate: I get that a frame like that works great for fashion, but it’s just a little shocking. I also wish she had worn some earrings or something

Erica: A smile. The thing you are never fully dressed without.

Kate: And her sister Kate, while more normally framed, doesn’t look that much better. I hate the mock-turtleneck look, no matter how subtle. Perhaps she’d look better in Rooney’s dress and Rooney in hers?

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Erica: I DID NOT REALIZE UNTIL THIS MOMENT THAT THEY WERE SISTERS. I don’t know why I’m finding this so mind-blowing. I am very tired.

Kate: And their family owns the NY Giants.

Erica: WHAT?! Okay, wait, Ms. Rooney. You are an acclaimed actress in critical darling movies that will probably help you build a long-term career AND you get to hang with Eli Manning and you’re STILL making that face?! Cut it out, now, young lady.

Kate: I mean, I doubt she hangs with Eli, but yea. Be better.


Sarah Hyland

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Kate: I am surprised by how much I like this.

Erica: She continues to dress like a celebrity about 15 years older than she is.

Kate: Oh, I don’t think the dress is particularly old. I think she totally has that effortlessly fabulous thing going for her here — the dress is super flattering and well tailored, the makeup is simple but lovely, and the short blowout looks chic but comfortable (to the extent that hair can be comfortable?). The earrings are just OK and I could do without the slit and the shoes, but all around fab.


Sarah Silverman

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Erica: Holy moly, she looks good. She never looks like she cares this much.

Kate: WHAT? I think she looks like a complete disaster. And I feel like she AIMS to look like a complete disaster.

Erica: I mean, the dress does not look like she picked it up off the clearance rack at H&M. That is a big step for her!

Kate: She also walked onto the red carpet holding a can of Red Bull.

Erica: Really? That’s kind of hilarious. My favorite thing that happened at an awards show ever was when Emma Thompson walked on stage with her martini glass in one hand and her shoes in the other.

Kate: Anyway, this color looks bad on her skin, the mermaid bottom is awkward, and she just cannot pull off strapless. I feel her pain, but she can’t pull it off and should stop wearing it to every damn red carpet.


Sofia Vergara

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Erica: You know, sometimes, I don’t think Sofia Vergara is a real human. I think she was constructed in a lab. “We need the epitome of Sexy Latina!” “Coming right up, Doc!”

Kate: Yea, she’s flawless. With that necklace she almost looks like she’s on the same cruise ship as Nicole Kidman, though.


Susan Sarandon

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Kate: Oh dear god she’s wearing a bra.

Erica: When was the last time we saw Susan Sarandon on the red carpet?

Kate: I would be completely fine with Susan Sarandon on the red carpet in a white tux — even with not-done hair, even with too-short pants — were it not for the BLACK. BRA. So inappropriate!

Erica: It’s not even a black bustier or something that looks like lingerie but lingerie you’re supposed to see. It looks like a regular old bra. That’s very strange and unfortunate. Susan Sarandon, I refuse to let this outfit enter into my picture of you in my head. I just watched Bull Durham for the first time, and I did not like it, but I adored you, and I’m just going to picture you in any outfit you wore in that instead.


Tina Fey

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Kate: Oooooh I love me some Tina Fey in red.

Erica: Hair and makeup are on freakin’ fleek. Dress is fine. She’s gaining in swagger with every red carpet. You do rock, Tina Fey. You know it.

Kate: Can we give her Best Dressed from the Neck Up? Her hair, makeup and jewelry are just too perfect.

Erica: I am amenable to that.


Uzo Aduba

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Kate: Hmmm…Better than her Golden Globes look, but not by much.

Erica: Really, really nice. Gorgeous color. Gorgeous makeup and hair situation. I think the shoes might be matchy-matchy, but with a color like that, I think that’s a valid decision, and also, you can’t really see them, so who cares?

Kate: Oh I think the hair is a little nutso, and tops like that are just not flattering on women with big boobs. The green is very nice on her, though.

Erica: You know, as a woman with big boobs, I do tend to avoid necklines like that. But I don’t mind it on her.

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Kate: I’d actually like to give a shoutout to the whole OITNB cast, who all look extremely lovely. Especially Laura Prepon — very ethereal.

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Viola Davis

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Kate: Ooooh I love! Another fab short bob!

Erica: The hair I like. The dress color I really don’t like at all. And it’s that wrinkly satin.

Kate: Yes the dress color is a little Oprah-y in a bad way, and I agree about the material, but as a whole package she looks great.

Erica: So are we just giving Best Dressed to Helen Mirren and Best Makeup and Hair to Tina Fey?

Kate: Yes to the latter, no to the former, need to change it up a little.

Erica: Alright, let me think. I mean, there’s Kate Winslet, but she’s just perfect, not interesting. And I love Maisie Williams but I just think she’s too young for it. You know what? I might lean Anna Faris. It’s surprising me because I didn’t think I liked it at all at first, but it’s glam, interesting, well-accessorized, and with good hair and makeup. Thoughts?

Kate: Totally ok with that! (Partially because I hope it makes Chris Pratt like me.)

Erica: And who are we giving Worst Dressed to? I vote Julianne Moore. Because I know you can do better, Julianne. You are a brilliant, talented woman. You can either do better, or you can convince me that you’re comfortable enough with your position in Hollywood that you don’t feel you have to do better, but you cannot show up in lime green monstrosities anymore.

Kate: Oh, ok, so that dress is green. Ok with her for Worst Dressed. Next up: The Grammys, February 15! (But really the day after. Be realistic, people.)