Grammys 2017

Grammys 2017

Kate: Thanks to my “Today’s Hits” station on Pandora, I may actually know who most of these people are tonight!

Erica: I will probably only recognize Beyoncé.

Kate: Seriously, I’m more excited about the Grammys than the Oscars this year. That NEVER happens.

Erica: Not me. But I am not cool.

Kate: *In the style of Billy Eichner on Billy on the Street* And away…We…GO!

 

Adele

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Kate: It’s going to be hard for anyone to convince me that she does not deserve Best Dressed right here right now. Oh my god, so effing fabulous I can’t stand it.

Erica: I am not seeing what you are seeing.  

Kate: We can usually count on her for a sparkly, semi-frumpy black or navy blue gown that we don’t give a hoot about because then she performs and all’s right with the world. THIS, though, is FASHION and now and perfectly tailored to her body and a PERFECT color on her.

Erica: I do think the color is just perfect on her luminous self. And the hair and makeup are unsurprisingly perfect.

Kate: I absolutely love the lighter hair and makeup, and the updo that the lighter hair is in, she even has a little tan going on! OH MY GOD I AM OBSESSED WITH YOU, ADELE!

Erica: Yes. I think you might be. Not that she doesn’t deserve it. I just think this dress doesn’t, particularly.

Kate: But wait, why wear that fabulousness and then change immediately for the first performance? Her performance dress is much more in line with what she usually wears:

 

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Erica: I don’t like this, either. And her nails are a little insane for my taste. But why do any of them do this? Isn’t the whole getting dressed with hair and makeup a big deal? Why not just skip the red carpet and go straight to performance mode?

Kate: Very long pointy nails are IN. And then you know they all have a third dress for the after-party. Or another performance drew for another performance?

 

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Kate: Love this one, and the messy bun, but that performance…Wow. In so many ways.

Erica: And then she shared her award with Beyoncé because she is 100% class.

Kate: Angel/goddess on Earth.

 

Beyoncé

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Kate: I really did not know what to make of her performance. I know she was being deep and philosophical and maybe political?, but I wasn’t understanding EXACTLY what she was saying. Say what you mean, and mean what you say, B!

Erica: I always assume that I won’t fully get what Beyoncé is talking about. We are of related but separate cultures.

Kate: That said, minus the crazy head and neck gear, her dress is really beautiful. And that’s coming from a longtime Beyoncé hater. I appreciate that she wore it for her performance and stayed in it afterward, and I was wondering why she didn’t do the red carpet, but I guess she’s Beyoncé and she’s pregnant and can get away with pretty much any old thing she feels like.

Erica: Well, and, in order to get her pregnant self all kitted up like an ancient fertility goddess, she had to get there early. Like I said, a red carpet look and a separate performance look is kind of a hassle.

Kate: Well she went for the hassle, because she eventually changed into this delightful little red number and somehow straightened her hair.

 

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Erica: I mean, how do they do secondary HAIR? I can’t get my hair to look good once a night. I definitely couldn’t be a celebrity.

Kate: I like this dress a lot more, including the necklace. WHO AM I?

 

Carrie Underwood

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Kate: Ok so this is super-pageanty and VERY COUNTRY, but that’s Carrie, no? I normally wouldn’t like something like this, but she is really rocking it.

Erica: I just feel like she’s already dressing like she’s 40.

Kate: I don’t think it’s 40, I think it’s country. Her hair and makeup are similar to Adele’s, so I like those things as well. The only thing that’s bothering me is how UNCOMFORTABLE the dress looks — like, I’m itching MY neck just looking at HERS.

Erica: Yes. Also she seemed kind of unhappy tonight. Kind of down. Great makeup.

Kate: I also wish the sleeves were more tapered instead of in that bell style.

 

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Kate: Her performance dress is, like, pageanty-casual, and I love it. Actually kind of looks comfortable?

Erica: It’s younger, as is the hair. Hey, did Keith Urban not bring his wife tonight? I feel deprived of the crazy.

Kate: Was wondering that myself…

 

Celine Dion

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Kate: Oh dear me no.

Erica: No?

Kate: She is too thin and narrow-featured to have her hair pulled back that tight, and that dress? Are we on a fancy St. Patrick’s Day Parade float?

Erica: Well, I never like that kind of hair but I like the color of the dress. Not the whole dress. But the color. The earrings are pretty, too.

Kate: I know what you’re thinking — why am I ok with Adele’s green dress but not Celine’s green dress? Probably because I am overly obsessed with Adele.

Erica: Well. You are. But they are also very different greens. And Adele’s does complement her beautifully. In my opinion, Celine’s green looks fine, but not quite as luminous as Adele’s.

Kate: Now, had she worn her presenting dress on the red carpet, she would have earned my praises. Beautiful.

 

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Erica: WHY IS THERE A SECOND DRESS JUST FOR PRESENTING?! WHY BOTHER WITH THE RED CARPET DRESS AT ALL?! It’s because this is the Capitol, that’s why. We are all already damned.

 

Chrissy Teigen

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Kate: Up close you can tell that there are black feathers attached to the collar of this dress — or maybe they’re earrings? — and there is just too much going on here.

Erica: I do not like it. I like her. I do not like this.

Kate: I also really don’t like that wet curly hair look — what is this, the late 90s? Oh, right, all those trends are back now.

Erica: Which, while I’m not happy about the wet-look curls, I am happy about boot-cut jeans. Hey, do you still have my Docs?

Kate: They are in WO, most likely.

 

Demi Lovato

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Kate: I know almost every lady on this carpet is wearing some form of fake hair tonight, I just hate when they make it so OBVIOUS.

Erica: Yeah this looks…cheap.

Kate: That is the EXACT word that popped into my head when I saw this. She’s a very pretty girl, but this is just all too much. She’s too tan, too stuffed into that dress, too MACRAME. Actually really hate it.

Erica: I do not like the macrame. I do not like the look.

Kate: Worst Dressed nominee!

 

Elle King

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Erica: Including her because I love that song. I always appreciate that the Grammys is a time to dress very costume-y. This little girl princess costume is an unusual choice but that’s okay with me. The tats mean it’s still rock-and-roll, right?

Kate: I think the dress is actually pretty, I just don’t like the matching flower crown and the pale makeup, and then the tattoos kind of blending in with the dress almost? I get it, I’m just not that into it.

Erica: That is a more positive reaction than I thought you would have.

Kate: I’m complimenting Beyoncé, I know current musicians, I’m really growing as a person.

 

Erika Jayne

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Kate: We HAVE to include her because she’s a Real Housewife, right?!

Erica: I’ll go with that logic.

Kate: I kind of love that she’s there. I am really against that half-up-in-a-bun hairstyle — it’s just too EVERYWHERE — and I’m not falling all over myself about the dress, it’s fine, and the shoes don’t match, but I’m just happy that she’s there. Great makeup, as always.

Erica: Yes, the hair is terrible. It’s not even the style, which I don’t love, but fine. It’s poorly executed. And yes, the shoes don’t match. I do actually like the dress, and I love her spirit and her lust for life. I feel like Kyle could become a better person by being friends with her.

Kate: Perhaps, if she stops talking sh!t about every single one of her friends every five seconds.

 

Faith Hill

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Kate: Similar to Carrie’s pageanty vibe, but, again, they are both country, and this is what you wear when you’re country. I might have worn both their dresses to the Country Music Awards instead, but, I’m neither of their stylist.

Erica: Yeah, except Faith Hill is the right age for this.

Kate: Actually, this is alarmingly similar to Carrie’s dress — center cutout and middle-of-legs slit and all. It just doesn’t have the sparkle.

Erica: I can’t decide if that’s an improvement or not.

Kate: I kind of like the hair down in loose waves with this style, but with Carrie’s it would definitely get caught on all the sequins. I’m really fixating on that.

 

Gina Rodriguez

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Kate: She is not usually someone we include, but I got a special request to!

Kate’s friend Candace (via text): You should site that Gina Rodriguez looks hot hot hot in your blog!

Kate: Well there you have it.

Erica: I am not so delighted with this look. No offense, Candace.

Kate: I think it’s very similar to Chrissy Teigen’s look but better executed, but still not my favorite. Sorry Candace!

Candace: Whatever.

Erica: Yes, better executed. And she looks joyous. But I don’t love the ensemble. Sorry!

 

Heidi Klum

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Kate: Another semi-normal choice from Heidi! She MUST be reading these posts!

Erica: We have a power beyond what we expected. Heidi, if you do read this, know that I still sometimes replay that moment in my head where you told the Project Runway contestant that his Barbies were selling like “bagels,” and then Tim Gunn corrected you and said “hot cakes,” and you very seriously repeated “hot cakes.” It was — you are — freakin’ adorable.

Kate: I mean, she’s basically wearing a sparkly t-shirt, and I can basically see her private parts, but this is what she does best — casual but glam California blonde. Love the hair, makeup and jewelry. But how is she going to SIT?

Erica: Oh my gosh, I think she looks adorable. Show off those gams, girl. Sit down and watch your dress become a shirt and don’t care at all because you have the legs of Heidi Klum.

 

Jennifer Lopez

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Kate: Typical J.Lo. Has to do ONE weird thing, can’t just leave well enough alone.

Erica: She looks beautiful, though.

Kate: Of course she does, she’s J. Lo! Honestly, the gown is absolutely beautiful and it’s a beautiful color, and OMG her legs, but why the neck thing? Why? Just why?

Erica: Well, because otherwise no one would talk about it.

Kate: Also, her lipstick is the same color as her face, which is not great. Also also, Demi, THIS is how you do not-so-obvious hair extensions.

 

Katharine McPhee

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Kate: Very boring, but very nice.

Erica: Hate ombre hair.

Kate: You can barely see the ombre hair in the low pony, though? And I think that damn slit is a bit overdone now.

Erica: Yeah, I’m for some reason more willing to be Heidi Klum’s gynecologist than I am willing to be Katharine McPhee’s. Maybe because Katharine McPhee doesn’t look like she means it.

 

Katy Perry

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Kate: Oh Christ.

Erica: I mean she’s whackadoo. Although she usually is whackadoo in a more aesthetically pleasing way.

Kate: I feel like she chose this to purposely look bad, and also insane. It’s ill-fitting, it’s dated, it’s just plain ugly. And the mad scientist hair? No.

Kate’s friend Melissa (via text): Please put in your blog that Katy Perry looks like Lumiere’s love interest in Beauty and the Beast *eye-roll emoji*.

Kate: Honestly, the feather duster looks 100 times better than THIS.

Erica: Seriously. Katy Perry wishes she could be as fire as that feather duster.

Kate: I also did NOT appreciate her dig at Britney during the pre-show by saying she took a break from music for her mental health and hasn’t shaved her head yet. If I have to say one nice thing, I like her makeup, but the Britney dig REALLY got me.

Erica: I was surprised she went there. I was thinking T. Swift was exclusively to blame for their Bad Blood, but I’m rethinking now.

Kate: Oh, and Worst Dressed nominee.

 

Lady Gaga

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Kate: YASSSSS.

Erica: One day when our civilization has fallen and future archaeologists are trying to figure out our culture, I hope they come upon an image of Lady Gaga wearing this to the Grammys so that they understand, at least, what the Grammys were all about.

Kate: I was worried we would get Glam Gaga instead of Crazy Gaga, and I am so happy she did this. It’s Cher and Madonna and costumey and crazy-high shoes and just exactly what I want from her. LOVE the high pony with the deep red lip and aviator shades. Love.

Erica: Yes. Well-executed crazy.

Kate: I also love that after all the crap she got about the little bit of extra skin on her belly during the Super Bowl halftime show, she wore another belly-baring outfit and looks effing fab.

Erica: I have to think that the people who gave her that crap have never seen actual human bodies before.

 

Laverne Cox

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Kate: It’s like someone was recently looking at a photo of Courtney Love in that crazy black dress with all the slits and thought, “Let me try to re-do this, but better”, and it worked. Fierce.

Erica: I thought she was referencing Elizabeth Hurley’s 1994 safety pin dress. Which, I have just learned, has its own Wikipedia page. As does J. Lo’s 2000 bathrobe dress, to which she herself made sly reference during the telecast.

Kate: Yes, she likes to remind us. I love Laverne’s hair darker, and I love the high pony. Up close and personal the makeup is a little too costume party for me, and I wish she had done a more interesting earring, and I don’t love the length of the dress, so it’s not a Best Dressed nominee for me, but overall digging it.

Erica: Yeah, the length of the dress is the part I don’t like.

 

Lea Michele

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Kate: I KNOW Brad Goreski styled her so I really WANT to like this. But I don’t. 😦

Erica: Is that her eye make-up or has she been crying?

Kate: Yes, first of all, what is that face? Second of all, what is that severe hair? Third of all, that awful neck makes her look like she just got neutered. Without it, MAYBE. Maybe. With it? No.

Erica: Seriously, is she okay? Does she need to talk to someone?

 

Mya

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Kate: What is Mya doing at the 2017 Grammys? Has she sang anything since Ghetto Superstar?

Erica: She’s one of those people I should know because she’s of my time, but I wasn’t cool, then, either.

Kate: I really hate this red tuxedo thing. It’s ill-fitting on top, too tight on bottom, the bow in the middle is unnecessary, and dye-to-match shoes? Come on. Worst Dressed nominee!

Erica: It is really bad. Like, really bad. It’s a good concept, and it’s executed so very badly.

Kate: Hair and makeup are fine, though.

 

Rihanna

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Kate: While Celine Dion thinks she’s on a fancy St. Patrick’s Day Parade float, Rihanna thinks she’s going to a Halloween-themed ball but chose to just wear Halloween colors instead of an actual costume.

Erica: Yeah, I don’t like it. It’s whackadoo without being pretty or making sense or anything.

Kate: She always has to wear a skirt that’s, like, impossible to sit down in.

Erica: I think she has made public statements to this effect.

 

Taraji P. Henson

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Kate: Not sure why she’s there — because she’s on a TV show about music? — but really hate the dress. The material looks like it’s pulling across her in the most uncomfortable, too-tight way.

Erica: Yeah, this is very strange. I know this is weird, but I’m thinking about that part in The King and I when Yul Brynner is confused as to why Westerners are cool with exposing all this cleavage, but then create giant bell skirts to hide the very fact that women have legs. This dress is the opposite of that.

Kate: Also really don’t like her hair like that — she looks so much better when she’s tousled and wild and, like, loose.

Erica: She is capable of fierceness. Maybe she’s just, like, experimenting, and she’ll realize soon what looks suit her and go back to them.

 

Tori Kelly

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Kate: Hmmmm…The ruffles and the length and the color and the gold jewelry make this a little too, like, St. Patrick’s Day gala. Celine’s on the fancy parade float, Tori’s already at the gala afterward. But underdressed for it.

Erica: I don’t know who this is. But this ensemble is maybe the most 90s of the night.

Kate: You said that last year and I told you she had fun songs, and I don’t see 90s at all here? She looks pretty, I just don’t like the whole vibe of it. Her hair is also too casual. And now that I’ve looked at last year’s post, she wore the same color then too.

Erica: Well, my memory is sieve-like. And the off-shoulder and the criss-crossing ruffles and the hair and make-up are all very ’90s, trust. You were still too young when this would have been it. Because I came of age in the 90s, I like it. I just don’t like it for the Grammys. But I am struggling to figure out where I would like it.

Kate: Alas, Best Dressed must of course go to Adele? With an Honorable Mention to the Gagster?

Erica: Sure. I just don’t feel strongly about anyone.

Kate: And Worst Dressed is without a doubt Katy I-Have-Lost-My-Mind Perry?

Erica: That is more than fine with me.

Kate: And there you have it. Til the Oscars, then!

Misogyny& Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing,” Episode 1.19, “Let Bartlet Be Bartlet”

I started this one a long time ago. Then I had a baby. So they got put on hold. But a reader reached out recently to bemoan the lack of more of these, and, as many of you may know, a writer’s soul is a voracious beast, desperate for adulation, but one such voice can encourage it to great heights!

So half of this was written before baby. Also before election. And inauguration. So if the tone takes a sudden turn halfway through toward the extremely bitter and caustic, well, you know why.

  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”, Josh obnoxiously offered Mandy a job at the White House, and also, everyone in the White House is feeling super-dissatisfied with their work.

It’s Monday morning and Toby thinks it’s going to rain. Sam is vehemently denying this. Toby’s concerned because the opening line of the speech the president is giving a speech this morning that opens with “As I look out over this magnificent vista,” so if it’s raining, and the speech is moved inside, he won’t be looking over a magnificent vista. Sam thinks that the president can change that on his feet, but Toby thinks he’s not going to be paying that much attention to the five-minute speech he’s giving to the United Organization of Trout Fishermen. Sam insists it’s not going to rain. And then the thunder claps and the lightning flashes and it starts raining.

C.J. joins them as they leave their office and asks if they know about a piece of paper going around. That’s all the information she has on it, though. That it exists, and is going around.

Leo joins the pedeconference to inform them that people have already been moved inside because of the prediction of rain. C.J. asks about the president’s mood and Leo, in the tone of voice one uses when one is trying to be positive about a cranky toddler, says that the president seemed pretty happy today. C.J. doesn’t think that’s going to last.

And she’s not wrong. The president is pede-complaining to Mrs. Landingham and Mrs. Landingham is assigning his mood to the lack of roughage in his diet. 4. She’s always fussing about his food. Because she’s a girl. He threatens to beat her with a head of cabbage. 5. The president is irritated that Sam, Toby, and C.J. aren’t there already and Charlie says it’s because they didn’t know it was raining.

The three of them join the pedewhine. The Secret Service is in front and I just imagine that they are like camp counselors trying to keep a head count of their campers. The president does not seem excited that he’s addressing the United Organization of Trout Fishermen.

Josh joins the gaggle and informs the president that “the CBO’s going to revise its out-year projections” (I have no idea what that means.), two FEC (Federal Election Commission) officers resigned, and the NGA endorsed trigger locks. I assume trigger locks are when you can’t pull a trigger on a gun without the right finger print or some such thing, and that the NGA is the liberal version of the NRA. Toby seems interested in the first thing, about which I continue to have no idea. The president seems excited about the idea of getting to appoint two FEC commissioners. Leo and Josh try to tamp down his enthusiasm – the Senate leadership is going to pick people to fill those seats – but the president responds that he just wants to “dangle their feet in the water.” The water, in this case, being the nature of American democracy. By appointing two people to the FEC who actually want to reform campaign finance.

The president goes to speak and Leo’s like, “Don’t get your hopes up,” and Josh is like, “Yeah, don’t worry, I wasn’t,” but angry. Then the president, as Toby predicted, begins, “As I look out on this magnificent vista,” and Toby refrains from slapping Sam, for which he deserves some kind of medal. I feel you, Toby. I have so been there.

Credits!

MPTF: 2

Back from the credits, our favorite Exposition Fairy, Donna Moss, is asking Josh how this whole FEC thing works. And again, I understand that this sort of a thing is a service to the viewers. It’s useful here, too; I definitely didn’t know any of this stuff before this show told me. But when there are two dudes in a room and a concept with which they would be familiar needs explaining to the audience, they do it in other ways. Like one guy explaining it while the other talks over him, saying, “I know, I know, I know.”

Anyway, Josh explains that, while the president officially nominates candidates to the FEC, what actually happens is that the leadership in Congress of both parties picks “one Democrat and one Republican” (which I don’t understand how that works if it’s always only one person quitting at a time, which Josh claims is true). The president says, “Okay.” Donna thinks it’s great that they’re going to do it differently this time. Josh thinks it would be great if they actually were going to do that but in fact he’s just going to have a series of pointless meetings about it.

C.J. is being charming in the press room about Easter egg White House stuff. “The theme of this year’s event is ‘Learning is Delightful and Delicious,’ as, by the way, am I,” she says, which is cute but I have to give it a 2. She also promises that the “cats” of the American Egg Board are “party people.” She hops off the podium but calls reporter Steve to the side to ask him about the paper that’s out there. He claims to know nothing more than she does but also reminds her that he’s a reporter, so he’s not actually obligated to tell her if he finds out more.

Then Mandy approaches. She knows about the paper. She wrote the paper. It’s a memo she wrote while working for Lloyd Russell about the weaknesses of the Bartlett presidency and how to beat them for reelection. Mandy is embarrassed. C.J. is pissed. Mandy defends herself by saying that C.J. should bear in mind how pissed she, Mandy, was, at the senior staff, which strikes me as a very unprofessional argument. 8. Isn’t it more to the point to remind C.J. that, at the time, she was working for Lloyd Russell and the production of such a memo was her actual job? But the Bechdel test is being passed here! -10!

In Leo’s office, Margaret is trying to explain to her very disinterested boss 5 why the e-mail is not working and the whole conversation is extremely 4. She expects her boss to know who her friends are, like a girl5, and it all has to do with calories in raisin muffins, 4, and is being told in a really drawn-out way, 4, until Leo finally tells her he lost interest when she mentioned bran muffins, 4 5. It’s totally awful.

Josh comes in and Leo asks who he came up with for the FEC. Lightening flashes in the background. It looks pretty cool. Josh has the names of two people who are for aggressive campaign reform. Leo notes that the leadership will hate them both. He tells Josh to arrange meetings with the leaderships’ “top guys” – their Leos and Joshes, presumably – but not with the leadership guys themselves. (Oh, a 4 for the use of “guys”, as if these must all be men)(and I say that as person who frequently uses ‘guys’ as a unisex word, but they’re not). Josh asks Leo if the president thinks that they’re actually going to get somewhere with this and Leo says, “No.”

Then Josh asks about the e-mail and Leo is rudely dismissive. 5.

MPTF: 15

You think I’m being too harsh? Let me ask you this: What is the point of this e-mail sub-sub-sub-sub-plot? Does it have anything to do with anything else in this episode? No. It does not. I thought for a minute maybe the e-mail security breach had something to do with Mandy’s memo leaking, but if that’s so, it’s certainly not made explicit in anyway. So it’s just comic relief. And what’s the joke? Wherein lies the comedy? That Margaret’s batty determination to publicize the correct calorie count of the raisin muffins has brought down the White House e-mail server. Those crazy dames with their crazy priorities. That’s the joke. The whole joke. It’s mean, it’s misogynist, it’s not even that funny, and it’s wholly unnecessary.

Anyway, Toby and Sam catch Josh as he leaves Leo’s office and ask who he’s got for the FEC. Josh gives us their names – John Bacon and Patty Calhoun, for those of you keeping track at home, and btw, I’m pretty sure Patty Calhoun is supposed to be a woman, so they’ve done the task of pretending gender equality while never having her on screen, so unless I’m proven wrong, 11. Toby and Sam agree that neither of those people have a chance in hell of serving on the FEC, and Josh does not deny it. Josh leaves Toby and Sam to go to their meeting. Outside the door, Sam offers to do the talking. Toby is not interested.

In the room, Toby sits down with a bunch of uniformed guys and a couple of suited guys. They’re there to talk about gays and lesbians in the military. A subject on which we’ve actually made progress! Huzzah! (And crossed fingers.) Toby says they’re there so that they can give an informed recommendation to the president and one of the military guys asks pointedly what he thinks the result of Toby’s recommendation will be and Toby says it’s actually Sam’s recommendation and everyone in the room, including Sam, doesn’t think Sam’s recommendation will be very effective. Sam tries to throw around a little “He’s the commander-in-chief so the military will do what he says” language but another military guy says it takes an act of Congress to change the uniform code, so no, they won’t do what the president says. Toby smirks in self-deprecation, which is rarer than his “I’ve won, you fools” smirk, and notes that this will therefore be a short meeting.

Donna is asking C.J. about the eggs. Hey, more Bechdel test-passing. (Only worth one subtracted point per episode, though.) Then she tells C.J. Mandy is waiting for her, and Donna tells C.J. she wants to see Josh. Donna goes to her desk and C.J. finds Carol to talk about eggs for another sentence, then goes to her office where Mandy is. Did Janel Moloney and Melissa Fitzgerald (the actors who play Donna and Carol) not have enough lines this episode per their contracts? Because otherwise that minute was entirely pointless.

In C.J.’s office, Mandy gives C.J. the memo. Mandy does not know who has it and C.J. is going to read it. She tells Mandy to go back to her office and not answer any questions, and to count on a call when she’s done reading. There is much tension.

Back from what would have been a commercial break, we look up at the capitol building. It’s lovely. Josh is at a table being served nice snacks with a table of men, lecturing about money in politics. They all condescend to each other a little. Josh names his guys to fill the empty FEC chair seats, and the guys name theirs – Grant Calen (sp?) and Joe Barkley. Josh notes that they both oppose campaign finance reform. One of the condescending guys says, “We can’t have this meeting every time the president wakes up and decides to make the world better.” Need some aloe vera for that burn, Josh? Condescending dude promises that if the president makes a thing of this, Congress is going to bring up all the issues the president wishes would not be at the forefront, including English as the National Language, in addition to simply not confirming their guys. Josh hates being out-condescended, so he says that while he came there knowing it was a fool’s errand, he is now determined to make John Bacon and Patty Calhoun the next members of the FEC. The guys don’t care, though. They leave.

Charlie approaches Mrs. Landingham for a pedeconference to tell her that the president is displeased with his lunch, which is a salad and not a sandwich. Mrs. Landingham don’t care. 4. Man, why do women have to be so obsessed with the healthy feeding of their men?

We break from them back to the meeting that was supposed to be short with Toby and Sam and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Toby makes a “haha, gay” joke 13, and a military guy says he doesn’t like Toby’s sense of humor, and Toby says he gets that a lot. I wish that line were attached to a better Toby joke, because Toby’s delivery of “I get that a lot” is perfect.

C.J. breaks in to call Toby away. Sam almost comes, too, but Toby says Sam is doing good – and Rob Lowe manages to take a half a beat to glow from that praise – and sends him back into the room. C.J. tells Toby that she knows what the paper is. He invites her into his office. Probably to bang their tension out. !

Donna is waiting in the lobby for Josh. She is cheerleader-esque and reveals that when he is out of the office, she sits in his office and looks for him out the window. 6. He is annoyed. 5. He tells her he needs her to prep him on English as the National Language. She jokes and he’s not in the mood but he’s not rude. Donna promises to get him bullet points in 30 minutes and that Toby wants to see him.

Ginger tries to get Toby’s attention while Toby sits in his office with C.J. but he’s not having it. 5. (They’re both clothed but you know they weren’t a few minutes ago.) Toby is not pleased about Mandy’s memo. Josh comes in and gets updated. Toby instructs C.J. to figure out where this thing is and she leaves to do so. Josh sits next to Toby and says, “Our second year doesn’t seem to be going a whole lot better than our first, does it?” “No,” Toby replies. I don’t know if I praise this show enough but moments like these, where the writing is exactly spare enough, and that the actors handle with such perfect, subtle grace, deserve to be mentioned.

Toby is outside Leo’s office with Margaret so that he can get condescending about the bran muffin e-mail, too. 4. Although, actually, Toby’s lack of interest could stem from his preoccupation with Mandy’s memo. So the 4 is more for the show than for Toby.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff comes out of Leo’s office with Leo and another uniformed dude. Leo finishes saying something to Fitz about the Phillipines. Fitz asks Toby about the meeting with uniformed dudes and Sam across the hall. Toby tells him it’s about gays in the military. Toby also tells Fitz there may be a security breach with the White House computers. Fitz tells Toby the White House computers aren’t secure.

Hey, Americans in the year 2000, totally don’t worry about computer security and the federal government. It won’t in any way be important in the future! (Brb, sobbing quietly into my keyboard.)

Toby goes into Leo’s office. After some, you know, small talk about the Philippines. Then Toby tells him about the memo. Toby brings up the idea from the memo – which Leo can already guess – that Leo moves the president to the middle. Leo is sanguine and does not want to see a copy of the memo and tells Toby not to worry about it. Toby leaves.

See, this is what I mean about gendered differences when it comes to exposition. Donna, who has worked for the Deputy Chief of Staff for over a year, needs Josh to explain to her what the FEC is and who gets to decide who’s on it. Leo does not need the contents of a memo that he has not read explained to him. In both instances, information that the audience does not necessarily have are delivered. But in one, a female character is required to play the idiot, and in the other, a male character gets to be nearly psychic. Another for how perfect an illustration this is.

MPTF: 23

Donna gives Josh her six pages on English as the National Language. Josh snaps at her for giving him stuff about James Madison but Donna calls him on it -5 and notes that everyone’s “walking around like they know they already lost.” Josh even apologizes, clumsily, which is nice. -5.

Mandy is in Josh’s office. She asks about James Madison and tells Josh that the president is not going to look good fighting against English as the National Language. He tells her to tell him something he doesn’t know. Another for again illustrating that men don’t need the exposition they’re given for the audience’s sake. Mandy reminds Josh that it’s her job to tell them what the president will and will not look good doing and Josh tells her it’s not a good day for her to remind him what her job is. I’d think it’s the perfect day. But Josh has bigger problems, in that he feels this is all pointless anyway because the president won’t end up taking a stand on the FEC. He’s so demoralized, he can’t even get up the energy to be all that rude to Mandy. Aw, Josh. Mandy leaves and Donna comes in and confirms that everyone is as sad as Josh today.

Back in the meeting with Sam and the military guys, Sam is yelling at the military guys. He’s pointing out that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell only works if actually no one asks and no one is forced to tell. One of the military guys makes clear that homosexual identity has no place in the military when Fitzwallace stops by. Someone says it’s an honor to meet him and he says, “I imagine it would be, yes.” Fitz is kind of awesome. He takes a Danish and bullies two of the military guys into saying that they don’t think gays should serve in the military because they pose a threat to unit discipline and cohesion. Fitz pretends to agree with them, even saying that the military is not meant to be an instrument of social change. “Problem with that is, that’s what they were saying about me fifty years ago,” he says. “It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. I’m an admiral in the US Navy and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Beat that with a stick.” Then he throws his uneaten Danish back on the table and stalks out. It’s beautiful.

Sam follows him out and thanks him, but Fitz notes that this conversation is not going to go anywhere and Sam agrees.

C.J. finds Danny in that darkened corner he always seems to be working in and Danny makes her wait until he finishes typing his paragraph before talking to her. C.J. asks him about the paper and they bicker about their relationship a little 2 before he reveals that he’s the one who has the memo and that obviously he’s going to print a story about it whether she likes it or not. He points out that they must have known a memo like this would have existed when they hired Mandy and they should have asked for it and learned from it. He also says he doesn’t want her comment on the story.

This very short meeting is still happening. Sam continues making the right points but one of the suited guys makes the better point that the president is not acting like someone who actually wants to change Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, so this is all pointless. Sam concedes that point and the military and suit guys leave.

Margaret is complaining some more to Toby about the e-mail stuff in the most irritating fashion possible 4 and Toby mocks her 5. Leo welcomes Toby in and makes another dig about the e-mails. 5. Toby had new job approval ratings and they’re not good. 42%, with unfavorables being higher than favorables for the first time. (Brb, sobbing loudly in the bathroom.) “We dropped five points in a week?!” Leo says. “We didn’t do anything last week!”

“I’ll say,” Toby replies. BURN, Leo. Major burn.

And Leo’s feeling it. He invites Toby to give him his resignation whenever he wants. Toby points out that their only victory so far has been putting Mendoza on the bench. Leo argues that they were elected by a narrow margin and therefore can’t govern as if they have a mandate. (Brb, beating my head against a wall until it hurts more than this conversation does.) Toby says it’s not the ones they lose that bother him; it’s the ones they don’t suit up for. Wise words. And also how dare Leo question his loyalty.

C.J. comes in and tells Leo she gave the president Mandy’s memo. Leo wishes she hadn’t. Josh and Sam come in. Josh says he thinks the Senate will have to confirm Bacon and Calhoun because their credentials are too good (It’s never going to hurt enough, is it?), but will then punish them by bringing up a legislative agenda designed to make them look bad. Leo agrees that it doesn’t matter because they’re not going to fight for their own FEC guys anyway. Leo asks about Sam’s meeting and Sam manages to express that it was a pointless waste of his time while saying out loud, “It was fine.”

Charlie comes in and pulls Leo into the Oval. And I’m going to end my misogyny counting here.

Total Misogyny Points: 27

I’m stopping there because the next scene-and-a-half is so damn good I don’t want it sullied. So. There were problems in this episode. Most notably the stupid e-mail-bran-muffin plot line that was mostly a throwaway joke about how silly and pointless girls are, when actually, computer security in our federal government should be A REALLY BIG FUCKING DEAL but never mind. Girls and their muffins and their calories and their long, pointless story-telling.

Also it was an excellent episode for the illustration of the way Donna is used as an exposition fairy (and sometimes C.J.) vs. the way male characters get to behave in an exposition-heavy scene.

But. The following scene-and-a-half. It’s television gold.

The president is very sad about the memo. “I really did wake up energized this morning,” he tells Leo. He wishes he felt the same at the end of any day as he does waking up. Leo concedes that the memo bothers him. The president assures Leo that Leo does not move the president to the middle, with the air of someone ending a conversation.

Leo is not ready for this conversation to end, though. Leo says that the president is the one driving them to the middle, not Leo. “Everything you do says, ‘For God’s sakes, Leo, I don’t want to be a one-term president.'” Leo correctly calls the president out for not actually saying he wants to name his guys to the FEC but that he wants to “dangle our feet in the water of whatever it is we dangle our feet in when we want to make it look like we’re trying without pissing too many people off.” Leo calls himself the hall monitor. “It’s my job to make sure nobody runs too fast or goes off to far.” He knows he’s sending his staff off on fool’s errands and so do they. The president says if he ever told Leo he wanted to get aggressive on anything, Leo would hall monitor him. Leo says, “If you ever told me to get aggressive on anything, I would say, ‘I serve at the pleasure of the president,'” but he doesn’t believe it’s going to happen. The president believes he has said it and it doesn’t happen. Leo declares the loyalty and commitment of his staff. Then he calls in Charlie’s willingness to go toward danger in order to date Jed’s daughter, which I think is a poor example, as Charlie should definitely not put himself, his girlfriend, or all the people who circle around them in harms way just because, as Leo says, “A man stands up.” (Nope, not changing the misogyny score for that one. Because this scene is just so damn good.)

Jed very quietly says he doesn’t want to feel this way anymore. Leo says he doesn’t have to. “This is more important than reelection,” Jed says. “I want to speak.” Leo peps him up with some sports metaphors, and writes on a legal pad, “Let Bartlet be Bartlet.” With the score swelling, he storms back into his own office to throw sports metaphors at his staff. He tells Josh to go forward with the FEC guys they want, and they’re going to fight, etc. “Does that sound alright to you, Josh?”

Josh closes his eyes briefly, and then says, “I serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States.” Proud. Strong. Music swells. I feel so goddamned patriotic right now.

Each staff member gets a look from Leo, and they all repeat Josh’s statement. Leo says, “Good. Then let’s get in the game.”

The staff leaves, and Jed and Leo exchange priceless looks through the open door between their office.

This is a killer episode ending. Just killer. John Spencer (Leo) is especially holy-shit amazing, as is Martin Sheen, but the whole cast brings it home. Holy shit. Amazing.

SAGs 2017

Kate: I have yet to feel the urge to see any of the nominated films, La La Land included. Should we be concerned?

Erica: Oh, I’m dying to see La La Land. I 100% won’t be seeing Manchester by the Sea. I really want to see Hidden Figures. I think I want to see Moonlight, but I don’t actually know anything about it other than that guy I like is in it. Am I missing any important ones?

Kate: None of them are important to me. But I still care about the fashion! Deeply!

Erica: And that’s what we’re here for.

 

Amy Adams

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Kate: Very nice, but COME ON with that necklace. COME ON!

Erica: I stared hard at that necklace, trying to figure out how I felt about it. I came down on the side of no. But I feel like there was missed potential. Or possibly not and it would have looked like a tumor no matter what we did.

Kate: Ignoring that, her hair stinks, but a slinky cleavagey black dress is never a bad thing.

Erica: She’s cute. It’s hard to get away from her being cute.

 

Anna Chlumsky

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Kate: So very much better than her last few disasters, but still not great.

Erica: Oh, come on. On a scale of Anna Chlumsky, this is an A+. This might even be an A++.

Kate: I just feel like Tina Fey has kind of already worn this, and what is going on at the bottom there?

Erica: Even on another human, though, this would be no worse than a B. It fits, it’s event appropriate, it’s a nice, human-looking dress. I’m giving her all the points.

 

Ariel Winter

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Kate: This feels a little Kim K early 2000s to me, and I really don’t like the hair. It’s somehow too casual.

Erica: What about the stupid lipstick? I worry for this child, I genuinely do

Kate: Hate the lipstick.

 

Brie Larson

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Kate: Holy wow really skinniest person ever. Starting to get concerned about that waist.

Erica: She likes a weird neck, doesn’t she?

Kate: Yea, and this asymmetrical neckline also makes her BODY look asymmetrical, which is also jarring, but bodily concerns aside this is absolutely stunning. Perfectly tailored and love the hair and makeup.

Erica: Yeah, I thought at first she was tilting. But it does look good.

 

Bryce Dallas Howard

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Kate: Including her because she was just on WWHL and I found her to be very charming. She is Ron Howard’s daughter and looks a lot like Jessica Chastain.

Erica: Jason <3s her. On E!’s red carpet coverage, there was, like, a chain of ladies he made me actually slow down to watch. She was the first. Then he was annoyed by how vapid she sounded in her interview with Giuliana Rancic.

Kate: She is not vapid, Giuliana is.

Erica: Yes. I know.

Kate: I think the dress is lovely if a little boring/safe, and I love the redhead-wearing-red thing, but it would be a zillion times better with that lovely red hair swishing down around her face and without that necklace that looks like something Mom would buy us and we would exchange the next day.

Erica: You know where to exchange them? I never do. Then Zoe confiscates them. Anyway, I thought Bryce Dallas Howard looked fine but unremarkable.

 

Danielle Brooks

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Kate: This could be really killer but the tailoring looks so completely off.

Erica: Minor tweaks. Minor. A little hemming, a better bra.

Kate: The jeweled hair piece doesn’t work either — it’s just all put together very haphazardly.

Erica: Yeah, it would look so cool if it were on straight.

 

Ellie Kemper

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Kate: Ok so this color is absolutely gorgeous against her skin and hair, and I really love her hair and makeup. But the ACTUAL dress feels VERY dated and it really ages her.

Erica: Oh, I thought she looked very nice. That shade of blue is so lovely on so many women. The dress is a bit dated, though.

Kate: And we’ve got to get her a better strapless bra because whatever she’s wearing looks like it’s pulling the boobs DOWN.

Erica: Boobs are such a difficult engineering problem.

Kate: Apparently she recently gave birth, so now I feel bad saying that.

 

Emily Blunt

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Kate: I really hate this neckline and sleeve style on almost anyone anytime anywhere. But the dress itself is really lovely.

Erica: Yeah, I saw her and I thought, “Oh, she looks lovely!” And then I looked at the dress and wondered why I wasn’t having a problem with it.

Kate: The earrings, her hair and her makeup with the dress are overall very elegant, clean and beautiful.

Erica: Maybe that’s why. Proper accessorizing is key, ladies! Not as key as proper boob management, but key!

 

Emma Stone

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Kate: Meh.

Erica: I disliked it. I thought it was trying to be something that it did not achieve.

Kate: I don’t even have a strong enough bad reaction to this to say much, it’s just plain boring. I get what she was trying to do but bleh. Her Globes dress was wayyyyy better.

Erica: Oh, well, her Globes dress was dreamy.

 

Evan Rachel Wood

attends the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Expo Hall on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

attends the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Expo Hall on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Kate: She already DID the suit thing, though!

Erica: She said to Giuliana Rancic that she’s doing it all season. It’s, like, a statement or something. (I was mostly fast-forwarding through the interviews, but Jason really likes her on Westworld so he wanted me to stop. He wouldn’t believe that there was just going to be inane nattering about clothing until he heard it for himself.)

Kate: It’s a different color than the one at the Globes but still too similar; I wanted to see something else from her tonight.

Erica: It wasn’t as perfect as her last one. I don’t like the cropped pants or the velvet.

 

Gwendoline Christie

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Kate: I honestly really liked this when I first saw it and remembered how much I liked her Globes gown and was happy to see her go down this better fashion path, and then I saw the pants tucked into the very matching boots.

Erica: I thought she looked great, but also, it’s a sequined jumpsuit.

Kate: It’s just TOO Pirates of the Caribbean for me.

Erica: I heard a bit of her interview, too. I think she said it’s a Vivienne Westwood, and she likes Vivienne Westwood because Vivienne Westwood is a bit of a political radical. I like Vivienne Westwood, too — she’s responsible for my favorite SatC outfit ever — but this is a sequined jumpsuit. Tucked into matching boots.

sags-17-satc-suit

 

Janelle Monae

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Kate: I think her thing is wearing black and white only, and usually somewhat outrageous black and white. This is actually subdued for her, and lovely.

Erica: I liked the Globes one way better. Like, I loved the Globes one. I thought it was quirk done perfectly. This is not.

Kate: I think the ruffle bracelets and pigtail buns kind of cheapen it, but I suppose she had to add the kookiness somewhere.

Erica: I hate the silhouette a lot. I actually thought the pigtail buns were cute given her whole vibe, but that the poofiness was too weird.

 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Kate: Yyaassss a little pattern action from my girl JLD!

Erica: I knew you would love this. It did look really excellent.

Kate: I absolutely adore the retro hair, too. Flawless as per usual. Ladies, take notes.

 

Julie Bowen

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Kate: This kind of reminds me of Katie Maloney’s wedding dress, but I don’t hate it as much. I don’t hate it at all, but I also don’t enjoy it.

Erica: Have we seen Katie Maloney’s wedding dress? I don’t remember. Never mind that she shouldn’t be getting married at all. Anyway. This is very different for Julie Bowen but not good. Just different.

Kate: Yes, there are pictures on the interwebs.

 

Kate Hudson

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Kate: This is one of those rare moments where I don’t like what Kate Hudson is wearing; I’m usually all over her.

Erica: I don’t like it. But it’s also not my thing. So is it succeeding at being the kind of thing it wants to be? I think it is succeeding moderately.

Kate: First of all, I feel like she has done this same sequin bandeau top dress before in white and in beige, so I’m mad at the lack of creativity. I’m also mad at the overall ugliness of the gown, particularly of that gross flower element. Hate to do it, but Worst Dressed nominee!

 

Kerry Washington

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Kate: Well, I dislike it LESS than I usually dislike her red carpet looks, but I still dislike it. It lacks originality, it’s too much material, and it’s too similar to something Beyoncé wore once.

Erica: Yes. On a scale of Kerry Washington, this is at least a B.

Kate: I do like the retro hair and sleeves, though. Very 70s disco.

 

Maisie Williams

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Kate: Oh I would love this so much without that damn dark purple/red/black Gothic lip. The dress looks darling on her!

Erica: So I had a negative reaction to the lipstick at first, too, but I think she’s going for this ‘20s silent film star thing and once I thought about it in that context, it worked.

Kate: Then regular old red would have been just fine. I really love the dress, and only someone with that little a frame could pull it off. Effing lipstick.

Erica: But you know her. She can’t just look pretty. She has to have a little something extra. A little character. The lipstick — as much as I do not like it — is part of the character.

 

Meryl Streep

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Kate: Sneaky @s$ Meryl, taking us all by surprise and actually DOING the red carpet this time. In a very non-Meryl gown. Or muumuu, actually.

Erica: I know, right?! Nicest muumuu she’s ever worn. Whatever, she’s still Meryl, and so whether or not I like this is still irrelevant. You know, I had TiVo’d the movie Doubt ages ago, in which she plays a nun convinced that the priest at her school/church is doing unspeakable things with one of the students. I finally watched it this week. I forget sometimes that she is a masterful actress. She’s such an institution that I forget that she actually deserves all the accolades she gets.

 

Michelle Williams

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Kate: I know everyone is going to fall all over themselves about this because it’s Michelle Williams and she is FASHION and she is COUTURE, but I am anti.

Erica: I can’t figure out how I feel about this. Partially because I couldn’t tell if it was skirt or pants. But her makeup looked nice, I thought.

Kate: On the preshow she looked very uncomfortable walking down the carpet, so I think those sequin plates were pretty uncomfortable.

 

Natalie Portman

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Kate: Oh my god what do we even do with her? Most precious elegant flawless classy chic perfect pregnant person ever. In love with this look.

Erica: She does look glowing. And like she continues to be inspired by the woman she depicted.

Kate: Yes! It honestly looks really comfortable, but what do I know about being comfortable while pregnant or on the red carpet?

Erica: Yeah, I think comfort is a thing of the past for her at the moment no matter what she’s wearing. This is amazing because she looks gorgeous on any scale, no matter how unforgiving, AND she does it while about to give birth.

 

Nicole Kidman

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Kate: Oh dear.

Erica: This made me angry. Like, I was ranting all night.

Kate: She wasn’t satisfied with the absurdity of her Globes dress, she had to do this to us?

Erica: THERE ARE MFING PARROTS ON HER SHOULDERS. MADE OF SEQUINS! Is she 97 years old and living in Boca Raton and going to take her walker aboard the offshore casino? Tell you about that time she threw her panties at Tony Bennett? No? Oh, then there shouldn’t be SEQUINED PARROTS on her shoulders!

Kate: I don’t even feel the need to comment on the dress, it speaks for itself. Worst Dressed nominee, and it would take a lot for someone else to take it from her.

Erica: I have already settled on her.

 

Octavia Spencer

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Kate: Uh oh.

Erica: Yeah?

Kate: I…actually…like…the…peplum. What?!

Erica: Oh. Well, take two aspirin and lie down for a bit. I’m sure you’ll feel like yourself again soon. I still dislike the mesh neck thing, so I’m feeling fine about myself.

Kate: She’s not Best Dressed by far, but she looks very nice.

 

Salma Hayek

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Kate: Remember that scene in 27 Dresses where Katherine Heigl tries on all the ugly bridesmaid dresses she had to wear?

Erica: I was thinking she was some sort of first draft for Disney’s first Hispanic princess. Or a dress for Julie, the 1974 American Girl doll.

Kate: No further comment.

 

Sofia Vergara

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Kate: A strapless tea-length with dainty shoes for Sofia? I’m shocked. (Yes, it’s tea-length, not t-length, which I learned while watching E! Fashion Police after the Globes this year, and Melissa Rivers actually made a great point: These occasions call for black tie or evening wear; tea-length is for TEA. IN THE DAYTIME.)

Erica: Oh, really? When I was co-directing the Vagina Monologues, in which my sister-in-law performed, she and her queer friends kept telling me I had to come with them to this lesbian bar in Andersonville. I thought they were calling it Tease, which is a great name for a lesbian bar. Turns out it was T’s, and it was just a regular bar with pool tables and burgers, that happened to be in a lesbian neighborhood. I was a little disappointed.

Kate: That was quite the little tangent. I don’t love the different-colored top and skirt and the different sequin styles on each, but I am overall pleased with the general change. She looks like she is not, though.

Erica: Really? I sort of hate it. Except for the shoes.

 

Sophia Bush

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Kate: Since day one of One Tree Hill I have thought this woman was one of the most gorgeous people I had ever seen, and always so underrated. This hot pink monstrosity — around her eyes and on her body — does not help that.

Erica: No, it does not. She is really gorgeous; she just doesn’t look it in this.

Kate: I also hate the hair — is it wet? Is it gelled? Is it curly? Is it straight? Hate it all.

Erica: I hate the eyeshadow most of all. NOT AS MUCH AS I HATE THE SEQUINED PARROTS THOUGH.

 

Sophie Turner

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Kate: Absolute fire.

Erica: In an almost literal way, with that color and that hair.

Kate: She is my new favorite young person to watch on the red carpet. I love this on her. Best Dressed nominee!

Erica: She really does look amazing. She is like eleven feet tall.

 

Taraji P. Henson

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Kate: This would be just the right amount of not-what-she-usually-wears without the stupid black bows.

Erica: She’s really very lovely as a human. I do not like this dress.

Kate: Also, way too much boob. The designer should have added a few more sequins around the middle!

Erica: The boobs, the neckline, the mesh, the black bows…It’s all just too weird a shape.

 

Thandie Newton

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Kate: Ok so this would not be a dress I usually like for any occasion, but I really like that it’s such a great nod to her role on Westworld. Like, I’m wondering if the show’s costume designers had a hand in this (pun intended)?

Erica: I love the whimsy. I think she’s just so beautiful.

Kate: I do not, however, love the hair, but it’s barely even noticeable.

Erica: Well, the weird shoulder thing is distracting.

 

Viola Davis

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Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Kate: This is really lovely but I just wish it were a softer ivory or cream color, that bright white is so hard for anyone to pull off.

Erica: I think she does pull it off. I like bright white on dark-skinned ladies.

Kate: I do, for once, like a necklace with a strapless dress! And it’s this one!

 

Winona Ryder

attends The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

attends The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

Kate: Again, the woman looks like she was just let out of an asylum. Wtf is going on here?

Erica: Jason kept asking me if she was on drugs. I just kept pointing out that we have to watch Stranger Things; it sounds like it is 100% made of Things Jason Likes.

Kate: Drugs seem likely given her facial expressions throughout her castmate’s speech.

Erica: So, Nicole Kidman is the Worst Dressed human ever. This dress will go down in history as a Top Ten Worst Red Carpet Looks Ever in the history of the universe. I will brook no argument.

Kate: Ok. I hope the Fashion Gods (Brad Goreski, mostly) agree.

Erica: I’m thinking Natalie Portman for Best?

Kate: Tie between her and JLD and Sophie Turner? No, we must pick one.

Erica: I feel like Natalie Portman edges them out by being both more interesting and also about to give birth.

Golden Globes 2017

Kate: I feel like it’s extra-special that the Golden Globes are on my birthday this year.

Erica: They did it just for you.

Kate: However, I haven’t seen nor do I have much interest in seeing a LOT of the nominated films. TV shows yes, films no. Who am I turning into?

Erica: America, basically. Look, they’re making really good TV now. And there are more and more ways to watch it, most of which involving your PJs and some good takeout. Meanwhile, they are not making as many really good movies, and sometimes you have to leave your house to see them.

Kate: Alas.

 

Amy Adams

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Kate: Love the hair sleekness and how it’s behind her ears/neck, very elegant on her.

Erica: Yes, from the neck up, I like it.

Kate: The dress is a little been-there-done-that, but I like that it’s darker and bolder than her usual choices.

Erica: I do not like the dress. I mean, it’s not the kind of thing I’d like anyway, but I don’t think the execution is fantastic. The neckline is weird and it’s too long. It’s not awful, but I don’t love it.

 

Amy Schumer

Kate: I finally really, really like her red carpet look. This dress is extremely flattering and looks, like, really comfortable, and I love her hair just relaxed and down like that. It ALMOST looks like she didn’t even get it done, which in this case I am OK with.

Erica: I didn’t record the telecast, and for reasons that are not at all clear to me, I’m not seeing pics of her on Getty Images. Or, like, anywhere. I’ve got a bunch of neck-up shots of her on stage with Goldie Hawn.

Kate: Yea, she apparently didn’t do the red carpet, but posted a heck of a lot of pictures on her Instagram, hence the one photo that does not look like the rest. The only thing I don’t like is the illusion material between her cleavage — it seems to be a trend tonight, and I am really not sure why.

Erica: So she’s too good for red carpet now? Yes, I see what you mean. I guess she was trying to eschew the big cleavage display other women were rocking, but I feel like in the battle between too much cleavage and weird illusion thingie, cleavage must win.

Kate: Agreed!

 

Anna Chlumsky

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Kate: Worst Dressed nominee. Yuck.

Erica: On a scale of Anna Chlumsky to Anna Chlumsky, this is a solid B. On a scale of normal human to Anna Chlumsky, this is a definite fail. So yes, still in the running for Worst Dressed. But also, pat on the back for picking a good color and a thing that sort of resembles a dress other people might wear?

Kate: Ok, the color is great, but I hate when she parts her hair down the middle and pulls it back like that, the hoop earrings are way too big and, seriously, hoop earrings on the red carpet? The shape is all wrong and the pops of black on the shoulder and feet are too too much. Really hate it.

Erica: Well, with her hair slicked back like that and her ears sticking out, the hoops are…I think they might be a cry for help.

 

Anna Kendrick

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Kate: I feel like this dress has been done so many times, and the color does absolutely nothing for her. That and the dark dark makeup against her pale pale skin are terrible, and the boob cups are awkward.

Erica: She also spent all her time on the red carpet looking like a 16-year-old being forced to go to her cousin’s bat mitzvah. On the plus side, I hear Pitch Perfect 3 has started filming!

Kate: Oh, heck yes.

 

Blake Lively

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Kate: I think this would be perfect without the pockets. She looks uncomfortable posing with her hands in them, but the rest of the dress is gorgeous.

Erica: I try to have an opinion about Blake Lively and I cannot come up with one. I don’t mean about her ensemble, which is not my taste but pretty glam and I like the matching bracelets, I mean her whole persona. It’s like my mind can’t rest on her long enough to form an opinion. I feel similarly about Jimmy Fallon, actually.

Kate: Is it because she’s so perfect? I just want her hair to be looser. It’s fabulous hair, let it shine!

 

Brie Larson

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Kate: Tiniest waist ever!

Erica: Yeah, she is itty-bitty. I think if you tried to kidnap her and hold her in your attic, she could just slip out under the door.

Kate: I absolutely love the dress, particularly on her. I don’t even mind the matchy-lipstick, but I do mind the hair down. In this case, I think it should have been (loosely) swept up away from her face to give that dress neckline all the attention it deserves. Best Dressed nominee?

Erica: I think she looks really beautiful. Even with the hair down. I think she looks like she’s playing dress-up in her glamorous aunt’s closet, but I mean that in a good way.

 

Carrie Underwood

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Kate: She is one of the only people in Hollywood (does singing count as “Hollywood”? Should I say “Celebrity World” instead?) who can pull off that color and look stunning, so I give her that.

Erica: Sure. I guess you can give her something.

Kate: I like the elegant straightness of the skirt of the dress, but I think the swirly-ruffly top is too much. Maybe ONE swirl-ruffle around the waist or shoulder would have been fine, but this way it’s too overwhelming. It’s like, interfering with her gorgeous face and hair!

Erica: It looks like someone tried to “modernize” that dress from the last scene of My Fair Lady (Zoe just got the Barbie of this) but then Tim Gunn said “Time’s up!” and they couldn’t finish it. They did not make it work.

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Chrissy Teigen

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Kate: I. Thought. We. Were. Done. With. The. Peplum.

Erica: Oddly enough, our opinions do not have any influence over actual celebrities.

Kate: But this would be so GLAM if the damn peplum weren’t there! The ruffling at the top makes her look top-heavy, and would make anyone look a little top-heavy, so perhaps she wanted the peplum to balance that out, but BLEH.

Erica: I don’t know, I think there’s a lot wrong with the dress besides the peplum. And the execution of the peplum. It looks like the boudoir of a Victorian courtesan past her prime.

 

Connie Britton

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Kate: Didn’t even know she was there until reviewing the photos this morning, but I’m hoping this looked better in action.

Erica: It couldn’t possibly have.

Kate: The hair is of course great, makeup is light and fine, COLOR of the gown is swell, but pattern/cut? Not so much.

Erica: That neckline is stupid and she keeps doing this! She keeps acting like she is not fabulous!

Kate: She is, though, she is!!!

 

Drew Barrymore

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Kate: Ian said she looks like the ceiling of the new World Trade Center PATH/subway station, and I think I agree, but I don’t know if that’s inappropriate to say, but I like it a lot. The dress and the station.

Erica: I don’t know what the new subway station looks like, but I could imagine. And I’m so pleased you like it! I like it a lot but I thought you would not! Plus she looks like she’s having a great time in it.

Kate: THIS dark lip I like, and I also like her hair all mussed up and a little darker like that. She looks a little nuts in the photo, but looked great when presenting.

 

Emma Stone

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Kate: This type of dress seems to be the theme of the night, no?

Erica: Is the theme of the night “dreamy”?

Kate: I like it. I don’t love it. The hair is meh, the necklace is SO UNNECESSARY, and I can’t help but focus on that ONE star to the left of her belly button. Was that intentional, you think?

Erica: I didn’t agree with you about the necklace until I thought about it and you are correct.

Kate: She also seemed very moody about the whole thing last night, which threw me off, as she is usually quite cheery.

Erica: Huh. Anna Kendrick is usually in a little better mood, too. I wonder if there was something specific they were grumpy about.

Kate: #DonaldTrump?

 

Evan Rachel Wood

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Kate: I kind of love this. I know everyone has done the whole women-wearing-tuxes on the red carpet thing a lot over the last few years, but she is ROCKING it. I love her makeup, and even her hair. I would never want MY hair to look like that, but it’s perfect for the overall thing. Great lines.

Erica: I hate the hair color. A lot. But she’s really bringing the whole menswear thing home in all other ways.

 

Gwendoline Christie

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Kate: Nicest I’ve ever seen her look.

Erica: I was so amazed when I saw this. I thought she looked so completely amazing. I hope she put this up on the facebook page she has that only friends and family can see, but then tagged all the people she knows from middle school, so that anyone who was friends with them could see, so she could be like, “In your stupid, non-glam faces, you meanies!”

Kate: The paleness of the dress shouldn’t look good against the paleness of her skin and hair, but it all works perfectly together. Love the makeup too.

Erica: Check it out, even this dude is like, “Damn, Gwendoline Christie! You fine!”

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Hailee Steinfeld

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Kate: This is reminiscent of Mila Kunis’s Oscar dress from a few years ago, but not as good. I think it’s the sleeves.

Erica: She kept posing like she was in a photo shoot instead of a step-and-repeat. That said, I think this look is a great example of how if your hair and makeup are perfect, your dress can be a little…Less so.

Kate: Agree on the perfect hair and makup. I overall feel good feelings toward her, though, because I love that catchy little song of hers.

Erica: Huh, that is a pretty cute song. She has a good voice. I don’t know why that’s surprising to me, given that I’m a Pitch Perfect superfan.

Kate: She’s in Pitch Perfect?!

Erica: Did you not see Pitch Perfect 2? That needs to be corrected. Come over, Zoe and I will watch with you.

Kate: I did but don’t think I paid enough attention, obviously.

 

Heidi Klum

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Kate: Finally, she doesn’t look like an absolute NUTTER on the red carpet!

Erica: I mean, again, on a scale of Heidi Klum, it’s a solid A minus. On a scale of regular people I still don’t like it.

Kate: I don’t think it’s all that great, but hey, it’s NOT crazy!

 

Janelle Monae

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Erica: This is crazy. In so many wonderful perfect ways.

Kate: Ok so I really like it, it’s like a modern pop art version of a dress that could have been in (the original) Sabrina.

Erica: To me, this is how you do crazy. You execute it perfectly. The silhouette is perfect. Your hair and makeup are perfect. And then you walk around like you are the happiest human in the world to have the opportunity to be this delightful.

Kate: Yea! Not a Best Dressed nominee, but extremely pleasing to look at.

 

Jessica Biel

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Kate: Hot damn!

Erica: This is a woman who didn’t bother with any mesh inserts.

Kate: Rightfully so. I absolutely adore this. I love her hair, makeup, and earrings, and top of the dress. The skirt is a bit wacky, but the overall LOOK is WOW.

Erica: I thought this would be too wacky for you. I like it, because it’s not boring.

Kate: Just the skirt. Everything else, wow.

 

Jessica Chastain

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Kate: Oh, this is so terrible.

Erica: Yeah? I think it’s all right. Major boobs — another one not bothering with mesh inserts — but all right.

Kate: Hair is OK but a little too severe, makeup is fine, hate the necklace, hate the dress shape, hate the dress color and pattern and everything else. Is it supposed to be like shifted off her shoulders like that, and also suffocating her boobs like that?

Erica: Okay, I do hate the necklace, and I want 95% of people to wear their hair looser. Like, in the world. But I don’t think it’s terrible.

Kate: I do.

 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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Kate: I mean, fab as always.

Erica: The same kind of fab.

Kate: It’s a BIT more interesting than what she usually wears, while still in that black-and-white, form-fitting safe zone, complete with loose waves and nice makeup. JLD stays killin’ it.

Erica: I do love the hair.

 

Kerry Washington

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Kate: No.

Erica: I don’t fully understand how you wake up every morning in, like, your PJs and your hair all mussed and no makeup on, and you look like Kerry Washington, and then you decide to f it all up.

Kate: Awful length. Awful color. Awful pattern. Awful sleeves. Awful dark purple lip. ONLY thing I like is her hair.

Erica: Even on a scale of Kerry Washington, this is no better than a D. You know, I once read a romance novel in which the heroine was using makeup and clothes and such to look hideous, because she worked in a bar and didn’t want the kind of attention (read: assault) that could come with being as gorgeous as she was. Maybe Kerry Washington is similarly trying to hide from abusive men.

Kate: No, she thinks this looks good. She looked in the mirror and thought, “Yes”. And therein lies the problem.

Erica: You don’t know. You don’t know her life.

Kate: Someone told her it looks good, and that someone should be fired.

 

Kristen Bell

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Kate: I continue to think she is extremely perfect looking.

Erica: She is. I don’t love this look. I feel like maybe she looked over at Evan Rachel Wood and went, “Dammit! That’s what I should have done!”

Kate: No, she would look terrible in that. I love how she always rocks the short blond hairdos, her makeup is always natural-ish yet stunning, and she pulls off the deep V-necks very well. This cut might be way too boxy on someone else, but on her it works great.

Erica: Meh. Not in love.

Kate: I will say that I thought it was a pants thing when I first saw it, and I may have liked it better as pants, but it’s still great.

 

Kristen Wiig

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Kate: So you know what? I actually like her hair shorter like this. And her makeup looks great.

Erica: I thought for sure she was someone else when I saw her. Just like I thought Annette Bening was Elizabeth Warren for a second and then started dreaming about the movie of Elizabeth Warren.

Kate: I don’t hate the dress, but I think it could be better with just a few more alterations. Like chopping off those sleeves. I am anti-sleeve, I think.

Kate’s Work Friend Michael: It looks like a tea doily.

Erica: I would go with a lower neck.

Kate: But with no sleeves and her slender frame and shorter hair the higher neck may work, no?

 

Kristin Cavallari

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Kate: Super not sure why she is there, but she looks damn good. Similar to Amy Schumer’s dress, though, I don’t like the illusion material between the boobies. If you’re letting them out, let them OUT for goodness sake!

Erica: Pretending I don’t know who she is.

Kate: On second thought, it kind of looks like the boobies are too big for the dress, like the material is barely holding her up and in.

Erica: She looks like Red Carpet Barbie.

 

Louise Roe

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Erica: This is extra, this-site-only content. Kate didn’t want to include her because she’s a fashion TV reporter type person who maybe used to be on an MTV reality show. Had I known that before falling in love with her dress, I might have excluded her, too. But I really f-ing love this dress.

 

Maisie Williams

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Kate: Wait, I love this dress. It’s so elegant and simple, unlike her usual quirky choices. Though I suppose the quirkiness is in the hair there.

Erica: I think it’s just the right amount of elegance, and then the quirk from the hair and accessories. Good job, Maisie.

 

Mandy Moore

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Kate: Effing fantastic. I thought “Best Dressed nominee!” the very SECOND I laid eyes on her.

Erica: I think she looks extremely skinny but very lovely. I love the cape.

Kate: The soft waves tucked behind the ears, the earrings, the natural-ish makeup, the cut of the dress, I even like the cape, and I feel like I have been kind of anti-cape. I did, however, think this dress was black on the red carpet, but now it looks navy blue, but it honestly doesn’t matter. So so fab.

Erica: I think I’d like it a lot less if it were black.

 

Meryl Streep

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Kate: It’s a perfectly Meryl dress, but I kind of wish she hadn’t rocked the glasses this time. I know she doesn’t give one F, but yea.

Erica: One thing we can say about Meryl is, no one is talking about her dress this morning.

Kate: That’s like, her theme in life. I also love/hate how she NEVER does the red carpet and I ALWAYS have to DIG through the interwebs for anything resembling a full-length dress photo. Damn you, Meryl!

 

Michelle Williams

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Kate: I get why the black bow necklace is there, but I think I’d like the dress better without it. She overall looks lovely, though. Understated.

Erica: No I think it’s key. I’d like a very slightly redder lip. Like, not full-on red, but a lovely, pouty tint.

 

Natalie Portman

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Kate: I did not know she was pregnant until I saw her in this dress, and I knew right away because why would anyone wear this type of dress if they WEREN’T pregnant?

Erica: Well, perhaps if one had recently starred in a Jackie O biopic.

Kate: I think it looks lovely if not a bit boring, but I LOVE that her hair and makeup are very retro, like she’s still in character for Jackie kinda. She’s so damn gorgeous.

Erica: Yeah. I guess she loved the role a lot.

 

Nicole Kidman

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Kate: Ugh, this makes me so upset.

Erica: Has she been in anything lately? Because I recall she used to be pretty good.

Kate: Looks like she was in that nominated movie Lion, and is now doing that Big Little Lies thing on HBO. It would honestly be perfectly nice enough without those sleeve THINGS. And if she hadn’t just done something completely terrible (and artificial) to her face. She looks a hot damn mess.

Erica: I feel sorry for actresses of a certain age with regard to their faces. It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. I will not extend my sympathy to those sleeves, however. Or the fact of the sleeves + sequins + feathers. Pick one. And don’t pick the sleeves.

 

Priyanka Chopra

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Kate: I was v impressed with her throughout last year’s award show season, but am not so thrilled with this. The color is great on her and the dress is nice, but she doesn’t need the necklace, and I am fairly against the super-dark lip.

Erica: The dark lip is fine except that it, as well as the rest of the look, is a little boring.

Kate: If anyone COULD pull off the super-dark lip, it’d be her, I just don’t love it.

Erica: Also, hello, boobs. Lot of boobs this year. There’s a joke somewhere to be made about Golden Globes, but I’m too much of a lady to make it.

 

Reese Witherspoon

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Kate: Omg wow, fab fab fab. Best dressed nominee.

Erica: Yeah? I think, boring. Gorgeous, but boring.

Kate: I mean yes this is kind of what she always wears, but wow. So fab. I don’t even mind the dress-same-color-as-hair thing here. Wow!

 

Sarah Jessica Parker

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Kate: I could not hate this Little-House-On-The-Prairie hairdo more if I tried. And I don’t want to try.

Erica: I don’t hate the theory of the hair, as I know you do. But the execution is bad.

Kate: I also hate how wrinkly this dress material is, and I feel like has been making that mistake a lot lately on the red carpet. Does she just not REALLY care anymore, do you think?

Erica: I think she cares more about being unusual than she does about proper execution.

Kate: As a self-proclaimed fashionista, I feel that she should absolutely care about proper execution.

 

Sienna Miller

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Kate: This reminds me so much like one of the Nicole Miller bridal gowns I almost wanted to buy, and I think that’s the only reason I’m including it here. The pearl necklace and the black bow in her hair (can’t see it here but could see it clearly when she presented an award) make her look like a deranged school girl.

Erica: The pearl necklace looks fake and everything you tried on in Nicole Miller looked better than this. And I made you try on a lot of things. I really liked that ‘20s-ish number. Not for a wedding, just for a dress.

 

Sofia Vergara

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Kate: So, now we know why she should stick to mermaid bottoms and loose flowy waves. This looks insane.

Erica: Well, whenever she veers away from the tried and true, she gets very ‘80s. I suppose even her tried-and-true is a little ‘80s, but not in a bad way.

Kate: The earrings are way too much with the dress beading, and the shoulder openings/neckline are just confusing. Honestly, I think she didn’t wear her hair down in loose flowy waves because she was worried about it getting snagged on that intense beading.

Erica: Legit worry.

 

Sophie Turner

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Kate: Um, wow.

Erica: For real.

Kate: I wouldn’t normally like this actual dress, but the overall THING with her hair and makeup and general bad-ass-don’t-F-with-me ‘tude, I kind of love it.

Erica: Yes, the dress as an object, I do not like. But on her, with her height and accessories and attitude? C’est magnifique! I hope for so many good things for you in 2017, Sansa!

 

Thandie Newton

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Kate: The flamy sparkly bottom kind of throws me off, but without it it’d be a boring white dress.

Erica: The dress as a whole object makes no sense to me.

Kate: I really like her hair, makeup, and that necklace thing, though. A lot.

Erica: The necklace thing is really cool. Really, really cool. Also, I like her name and I think she’s in my top 10 prettiest people.

 

Viola Davis

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Kate: Quite similar to Maisie Williams, no?

Erica: No. They’re just both yellow.

Kate: This shade of yellow is great on her but the sequin-ness of it kind of messes it up. I also still need her to find a new makeup artist, I don’t think whoever it is does a great job of highlighting her best features.

Erica: I think she’s, like, way more invested in her art, you know? I think she just wears what is appropriate to wear on a red carpet but isn’t super invested in it.

Kate: Blue eyeshadow is never appropriate to wear on a red carpet.

 

Winona Ryder

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Kate: Quite terrible.

Erica: Oh, I don’t know. I’d say it’s fairly run-of-the-mill.

Kate: She looks scary and weird and like if you talked to her she’d freak you right the heck out, like a subway creature. Same wrinkly material problem as SJP.

Erica: No, no, she looks like she’d freak out. She looks terrified in every picture of her. Honey, I know it’s been a while, but the red carpet will not eat you.

 

Final Decision

Erica: So my Best Dressed is either Janelle Monae or Gwendoline Christie. Or Drew Barrymore. So many ladies brought it this year.

Kate: Oh no, we must go with Mandy Moore.

Erica: We must? Well, alright. I did like it. But I liked so many people!

Kate: It’s a good problem to have.

Erica: So many ladies brought the crazy, too, but most of them were not on our list of people we know/write about. I kind of want to give Worst Dressed to Carrie Underwood. But I might be carrying some sort of anti-Carrie Underwood thing around because I only just a few weeks ago heard her Monday Night Football intro song thing and I was horrified. Like, viscerally horrified.

Kate: No way, she is not Worst Dressed by far! What about SJP?

Erica: Yeah, that’s pretty bad, too. Sofia Vergara was bad, but, like, expected bad. And I don’t want to give it to Anna Chlumsky because she looked better than she usually does at these things, but on the other hand, should we really grade on a curve? And do I actually hate her look more than I hate SJP’s? I might. Oh, and there’s also Nicole Kidman to consider.

Kate: Oh, ok, Nicole then. Definitely Nicole.

Erica: I feel good about this decision.

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?

Kate: IN REAL LIFE? BEST PERSON NOMINEE!

Erica: I can consign that.

 

Taraji P. Henson

emmys 2016 taraji p henson.jpg

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.

emmys 2016 taraji p henson presenter.jpg

 

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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Kate: YAAAASSSSSS TINA! YAS YAS YAASSSSS!

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.

emmys 2016 tori kelly performance.jpg

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.

Credits!

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.

Credits!

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?

oscars 2016 jenny beavan.jpg

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?

MISOGYNY & AARON SORKIN, “THE WEST WING,” EPISODE 1.16, “20 Hours in L.A.”

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.

Credits.

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!