Emmys 2018

Erica: Welcome to the Emmys, where I learn that a) I watch A LOT of television, and b) I’m not watching nearly enough television.

Kate: Same and same. Blame it on Bravo.

 

Aidy Bryant

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Erica: I wish it was full length, but it’s so rare I like formal wear for the more zaftig like me and I did like this quite a bit.

Kate: Yep I actually really love this, I think it’s a great style on her and I even like the sparkly cupcake princessy-ness of it. Just a bit overwhelmed by all the fake hair.

 

Alex Borstein

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Erica: She won so I felt like we had to include her, especially because I think she’s fabulous. And she did a little strip tease to come up to the stage, which was funny, and then it was incredibly obvious that she was not, as she said, wearing a bra. But I like the dress.

Kate: Yes, I like that she pointed that out right away because she knew fashion police officers such as us would say something about it.

Erica: Also, the Art Deco earrings that so exactly matched the look of the dress and the hair and all were very special.

Kate: Yes, I don’t love this type of dress and it feels a bit dated — wasn’t this trendy a few years ago? — but it looks nice on her.

 

Alexis Bledel

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Erica: Completely ridiculous and horrid, right?

Kate: In this photo, yes, but I saw only the top half during the broadcast and thought it was kind of ok if a little Easter egg-y. She just, you know, looks like Rory.

 

Allison Janney

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Erica: I mean, it’s a lot, but I like that it’s a lot. She’s been liking dramatic sleeves, hasn’t she?

Kate: Oh my, yes it is a lot. I don’t love her new hair color.

 

Chrissy Teigen

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Erica: Her style is not my thing, but it is a thing, a good thing, and she usually pulls it off rather well. In addition to being a delight of a human being.

Kate: Oh, no, this makes her head look ridiculously small, and it’s so so so so so so beauty pageant-y. And I don’t like the hair at all!

 

Claire Foy

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Erica: I hate the length but other than that, I think she looks great.

Kate: Oh so I thought she looked absolutely gorgeous and very elegant during the broadcast but the look is falling flat in photos for sure.

 

Connie Britton

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Erica: The woman is gorgeous but cannot dress. I am so confused by her.

Kate: Oh but the HAIR is the HAIR! The hair!!

 

Dakota Fanning

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Erica: Lovely shade. What is she up to?

Kate: I think it’s actually quite a risky shade but indeed it looks lovely on her, despite having a belt. Hair is a little too messy for me, though, and earrings are a little too matchy-matchy. During the broadcast her makeup looked lovely.

 

Elisabeth Moss

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Erica: I mean, I hate her hair color right now, but otherwise, refreshingly lovely.

Kate: When she presented an award I was stunned by this dress, kind of like a modern Jessica Rabbit thing. I don’t even mind the length. But it is definitely ruined by the hair.

 

Ellie Kemper

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Kate: She is just the cutest thing. This isn’t going to, like, change the face of fashion, but I think it’s perfect for her in every way.

Erica: She looks a little slimmer than usual. I really love the dress. I actually think it is somewhat more innovative than it looks on first glance. The silhouette is very classically glam, the fabric is kind of cutesy, and the ruffles are just the right amount of imperfect.

 

Emilia Clarke

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Kate: I want to dislike this dress, but I don’t. I find it interesting. I just don’t like those front hairs with those light streaks, or anything else about her hair for that matter.

Erica: I don’t really like the dress. She’s so pretty so it’s hard to make her look bad, but the dress looks kind of cheap and weird and doesn’t highlight her in the best way it could.

 

Felicity Huffman

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Erica: I don’t have much to say about her outfit (the jacket could be better fitted), but her makeup is spot on.

 

Heidi Klum

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Erica: I kind of love it. Very glam. I don’t know what has inspired her to stop dressing like an escapee from the Capital of Panem, but I’m glad.

Kate: Um, yes, this is what I always want from Heidi. Perfection.

 

Issa Rae

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Erica: I thought I liked it when she was sitting down, so I looked up pictures, and now I don’t. I feel like the bodice doesn’t fit quite right, and I’m trying to embrace the skirt-over-pants thing, but the skirt’s too long and it doesn’t look proportionate.

Kate: Oh, I think I didn’t even realize these were pants. Ok, I get it, but yeah it needed some more work before being red carpet ready. Great makeup, though.

Erica: I still think she has one of the prettiest smiles in the whole wide world.

 

Jessica Biel

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Erica: So, a) what is she in?, and b) this is quite a dress. I think I mean that as a compliment. It’s somehow both feminine and modern and I like that. She also looks way young. Isn’t she older than me? By, like, a year?

Kate: She is in a show about some kind of murder, IDK, but this dress is f l a w L E S S, as is the whole entire look. She was one of the first people I saw on the red carpet, and I instantly thought “Best Dressed!”

 

Judith Light

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Kate: Well, that’s quite the pose, and quite the color. I feel weird critiquing her because she’s old.

Erica: Fine, I’ll do it. I hate it. I hate that color on light-skinned women. I don’t like turtlenecks in general and it looks particularly weird with the cape. The sleeves are too long for the bracelets, and the skirt looks too loose when her legs are together and too tight when they’re apart. This is not a criticism of her as a human. Just her dress.

 

Kate McKinnon

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Kate: This is cute and all but her opening number outfit was sooooo much better (thank goodness because the opening number was sooooo not good), and of course I cannot find a photo of the full thing now.

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Erica: The jacket and pants and pumps look fantastic but also kinda casual? The Emmys strike me as the event at which no one has decided what level of formality they’re going for.

Kate: I just love the fit of the jacket and pants, and those PUMPS were my favorite part.

 

Keri Russell

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Kate: Everyone is doing this front-and-back mini/maxi thing and I have to say I am NOT loving it. AM loving her smoky makeup, though.

Erica: Yes. Makeup, gorgeous. Dress? I don’t even understand. It’s more than just the mini/maxi thing, it’s the fact that it’s one leg each, with, like, the feathers? I don’t know. I don’t get it.

 

Kristen Bell

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Kate: I saw a glambotcam thing of her on Instagram before watching the red carpet or Emmys itself, and I was like, DAMN. She looks insanely good!

Erica: I love her red carpet dress. I hate her opening number dress. (She looks good either way, because she’s an adorable magic pixie. Also I love “The Good Place.”)

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Kate: Yes I’m glad she chose the white dress for the red carpet, even if it meant she changed into the fringey thing, like, immediately, but I didn’t HATE the fringey thing.

 

Laura Dern

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Erica: Fascinating hair decision.

Kate: Oh. Fascinating…Everything decision?

Erica: Yeah, I didn’t see the whole thing during the arrivals special. This is really terrible.

 

Leslie Jones

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Erica: I mean, what am I supposed to say? It is clearly the look she was going for.

Kate: I don’t mind the shape of this little lady tux for her, but I of course mind the color(s) — did she and Alexis want to together look like an Easter egg dye kit?

Erica: I think that’s a possible yes.

Kate: Aidy Bryant is the only one who successfully pulled off the pastels, it seems.

 

Mandy Moore

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Erica: I just want long dresses to hit the floor, more or less. Not the ankle.

Kate: Yep, saw this from waist up at first and loved it — especially the hair and makeup — but everything south of the waist is upsetting.

 

Maya Rudolph

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Erica: So she had one not terrific dress on the red carpet, and then an even more terrible – and like, really terrible – look for the stage. What is up with that?

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Michelle Dockery

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Kate: Oh I kind of find this interesting? Am I ok?

Erica: You know, I did not at all expect you to like this. I think you are broadening your horizons. And the truth is, it’s a lot of things that could go wrong very quickly, but didn’t. Craftsmanship matters.

Kate: Yeah. Somehow, it works.

 

Millie Bobby Brown

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Erica: Oh my goodness it’s insane but she is young and she should have a good time.

Kate: Well yeah the shape is insane but I feel like daring and interesting enough that I’m not mad at it. L O V E  THOSE S H O E S.

 

Padma Lakshmi

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Kate: DAYUM GIRL. DAYUM.

Erica: I mean, she already looks like Padma Lakshmi. So that was a pretty big bonus. But then she dressed the Padma Lakshmi of her to perfection.

Kate: How does someone always look THAT good?

Erica: By the way, the blue ribbon is for supporting the ACLU. In case you’re curious.

 

Penelope Cruz

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Erica: She always goes fairy princess, doesn’t she?

Kate: Do you mean…Feather princess?

Erica: A swan princess. I mean, she’s still gorgeous and if that’s what she wants to do, then she should do it.

Kate: I don’t like her obviously very fake high pony.

 

Rachel Brosnahan

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Erica: Kate, have you watched “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”?

Kate: No but it won everything last night so maybe I should. This looks like a less-fabulous version of Padma’s dress. During the show I thought this looked pretty great, but in the photo/after seeing Padma, mmmmmnotsomuch.

Erica: You should. It’s terrific and she’s amazing. Anyway, I think this dress probably looked better in person than it did on TV. I don’t love the waist, but otherwise, it looks quite beautifully made. Flowy and structural at the same time. And red on a girl with dark hair and pale skin is A+.

 

Regina King

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Erica: As we have established, this color dress is only acceptable on darker-skinned ladies.

Kate: Yes and I actually love this on her, the structure of the top looks really cool with the back.

 

Sandra Oh

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Erica: Zoe and I want to know what is up with her hair.

Kate: I think that’s what she usually does with her hair?

Erica: It seemed to have calmed down between the red carpet and the stage show. The dress is okay. I like the color.

Kate: It’s not my favorite.

Erica: She’s pretty funny. I don’t think I fully understood that. Or maybe I forgot.

Kate: She was one of the best characters on Grey’s — yes I still watch that and I will until the day I die.

 

Scarlett Johansson

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Kate: Fierce. Duh.

Erica: Yeah, she looks amazing. I feel like this is a really great dress. The sculptural take on glamorous silhouette, with an almost beachy casualness – I like it. I feel like most of the ladies are bringing it tonight. Or that at least there’s less boring than usual.

Kate: It looks quite tricky to, like, keep in place throughout the night, but, yeah. Fierce.

 

Taraji P. Henson

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Erica: I do not like this at all. I do not like anything about it. I do not like the pattern. I do not like the dress-mullet bottom, and I do not like the high neck and long sleeves. I must say, given how much I hate the dress, that I do not think she looks terrible. So.

Kate: See, it’s the mini/maxi thing again! Definitely not my favorite look on her; the pattern is making me dizzy.

 

Thandie Newton

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Kate: Probably my favorite other than Jessica Biel. I think this is absolute perfection. My only thing is it looks better with the drapey thing behind her than actually draped over her shoulder, but, wow. Wow wow wow.  

Erica: Ooh I love it. The drapey thing is so dramatic and the color is so beautiful and so much fun.

Kate: I also think she could have gone with a SLIGHTLY more understated earring, but overall really freakin’ love this.

Erica: I’m cool with the earrings. She’s in my top 10 — maybe top five — for prettiest person in the universe (not counting people to whom I am blood related).

Kate: Also, it’s pronounced “Tandy” not “Thandy”, which I learned last night.

 

Tiffany Haddish

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Erica: I don’t care; I love it. It’s the kind of thing I would have dreamed of wearing when I was eight.

Kate: Everyone on the interwebs was making fun of her for looking like that giant rainbow thing we used to play with at camp or in elementary school and I obviously see the similarities but…I don’t hate it. It looks well made and flowy and pretty and comfortable.

Erica: Yes! It does look like the parachutes you play with as a tot! And that’s what I love about it! And I love how much she loves it.

 

Tina Fey

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Kate: She’s back to not doing great at these things. It’s kind of a lesser version of Mandy Moore’s dress, no?

Erica: That’s pretty bad. I don’t know. Is it really in the same category? But it’s terrible. The belt, the lace, the weird shimmeryness — all terrible.

 

Tracee Ellis Ross

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Kate: Need I even make the Pepto-Bismol / Bubble Yum references, or are we good here?

Erica: There is a stunning woman under all of that nonsense, I swear.

Kate: So, best dressed is obviously Jessica Biel and Thandie Newton, yes?

Erica: I actually want to give it to Jessica Biel. Thandie looks gorgeous but I’m so impressed by the creativity of Jessica Biel’s dress.

Kate: Totally fair. And worst dressed?

Erica: Laura Dern? I mean, she’s a great actress and an institution and obviously she does not have to give a blank, but that’s a terrible look.

Kate: Ok, see y’all after the Golden Globes!

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SYTYCD Season 15 Finale

Erica: So this is it. The end of the crazy quick and, IMHO, uninspiring half-season.

Kate: Almost didn’t even care about watching this. (Almost.)

Erica: It was a lot of repeated dances and a couple of special performances. We are noting the existence of the special dances but not reviewing them.

Kate: It was the only way.

 

Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Erica: Fine. Not my thing, but fine. Certainly one of the better ones of this season. I feel like, once upon a time, she wore more formal things for the finale, no?

Kate: I didn’t watch the super-early days, so I don’t know. This dress was fine, but I hated her hair. That semi-wet/slicked-back-or-to-the-side look is really not my thing.

Erica: The hair to me was good in theory but in real life looked greasy and stringy.

Kate: This is how my hair has been looking lately no matter what I do and it’s REALLY starting to bother me. Just, you know, as an aside.

Erica: Hudge looked good again. It’s good to have something going for you.

Kate: Yup, liked her makeup a lot, actually. Hate to say it, but I did.

Erica: Cat announced that Mandy Moore won an Emmy for this show and I panicked, thinking Kate and I missed the telecast, but of course we didn’t. Choreographers don’t get to have awards during the actual telecast.

Kate: Nope, just the Creative Arts Emmys were the other night. Actual Emmys are the Monday 17th!

 

Group Routine (Top 10): Jazz, choreo by Mandy Moore

“Top of the World” by Greek Fire

Erica: So this was a Macy’s ad. Everyone in the audience had Macy’s star t-shirts on, and five of the dancers were holding sparkly diamond cutouts that, when put together, theoretically formed a Macy’s star. And the dancers were all dressed like the back-to-school Macy’s catalog. At the end, a whole bunch of balloons were thrown on stage. So.

Kate: Yeah, this felt so corny to me, not just because of the stars, but because of the actual routine, but if that’s how this show is staying afloat, a Macy’s sponsorship, then…OK? I don’t know. I DON’T KNOW.

Erica: The dancing was fun and fine and exactly what one might expect from a Macy’s ad. I was also reminded how Jay Jay and Darius were robbed. After this episode I’m thinking that, though Jay Jay was my early favorite, Darius might be better.

Kate: They are both so talented. I was happy to see them again.

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: Tahitian, choreo by Tiana Nonosina Liufau
“Lugahiva” by Te Vaka

Erica: The first dance was Hudge’s choice and it was a solid one. This was pretty good then and it was pretty good this time, too. I don’t know why, but I feel like Jensen’s hips looked better in this dance than they do in her Latin dances.

Kate: I don’t know, I felt that she was pretty low-energy in this. I know the competition aspect is essentially over but, like, come on Jens. Give us a little somethin’.

 

Genessy & Lex (Season 14): Contemporary, choreo by Mandy & Elizabeth
“Be Brave” by My Brightest Diamond

Erica: Genessy chose her contemporary with Lex, which is unsurprising. It continues not to be my favorite routine, but they performed it well.

Kate: Agree.

 

Hannahlei & Cole: Cha-Cha, choreo by Sasha Farber & Emma Slater
“Sing It Back” by Moloko

Erica: Mary’s choice was a samba with Hannahlei and Cole that I have to confess I didn’t even remember. I looked back and I liked it the first time. This time was pretty good, too, although that last trick with her weaving between his legs still looked labored. I also feel like, Mary was really selling the sexiness of this routine, but I didn’t fully buy it. They’re not connected enough and there’s not those sort of slow, slinky movements.

Kate: I KNOW! Mary was like, “This was the sexiest Cha-Cha ever”, and I was like, wha?

 

Genessy & Slavik: Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown
“Round & Round” by Fabolous

Erica: I don’t like when the final four choose routines like this. He chose it because it was in his own style, and he got good feedback the first time he did it. It shows me that he doesn’t really value the growth and challenge of being in this competition. I realize that this is a very “Get off my lawn!” sentiment, though.

Kate: No, you’re right, and I didn’t think he even did all that great in this, his own style, the first time around or this time around. He’s always too LOOSE.

Erica: I have to say, I think they did better this time around, which becomes a theme of the night. One might suppose it’s because they’ve got this extra week of rehearsals, but I think that it has more to do with the competition being over. I think people in general and creative types in general don’t do their best work under competitive conditions.

Kate: But that is the heart of this show!

Erica: Cat then introduced a blooper reel that was not really that funny or blooper-y, so, cool. Then we got a special tap performance from this season’s Evan, and last year’s winner, Lex.

Kate: Yes, that was odd, because Nigel said he specially requested it to be in the style of a specific person, and I was like, wha?

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: Hip-Hop, choreo by Hef & Randi
“Cookin” by Fat Joe, Remy Ma & French Montana ft. RySoValid

Erica: Jensen chose this number, which I respect, and she killed it because nothing was at stake and she could just enjoy herself. At the end, they pulled Mandy Moore’s Emmy out of the oven and the crowd went wild.

Kate: That was cute, as was this routine the first time and this time, and she was much more high-energy here than in her first routine, so that’s good.

Erica: I am a little sad that we don’t get to see their African Jazz number but maybe she just didn’t want to work that hard. That dance was crazy.

Kate: Yeah, I was kind of hoping she’d pick that one.

Erica: Then we got an encore of an Academy performance that I don’t really know what it was but it was good. Then an ad for the tour.

Kate: I loved the tour the one time I went. I would go again if it was, like, just Robert dancing. And maybe tWitch.

 

Magda & Darius: Jazz, choreo by Mandy Moore
“Fever” by Peggy Lee

Erica: This was tWitch’s pick. I liked it fine the first time; I continued to like it fine this time. Again, I thought they were better now, when they didn’t have to worry about anything.

Kate: Disagree! Everyone way too chill about the dancing!

 

Hannahlei & Marko (Season 8): Contemporary, choreo by Robert Roldan (Season 7)
“Welcome Home” by Joy Williams

Erica: This was Hannahlei’s pick, and I’d have liked to see her in her Travis Wall Broadway again, but this was quite beautiful.

Kate: Yup probably my favorite of hers but possibly because of the song.

Erica: Then there was some more review-of-the-season footage. I don’t know what the point of it is.

Kate: They’re always like, “OMG this was the best season so much happened yay we’re the best”, and I’m like, wha?

 

Genessy & Slavik: Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper
“House Work (Extended Mix)” by Jax Jones ft. Mike Dunn & MNEK

Erica: This was tWitch’s other pick, which was surprising to me because he was pretty critical of it the first time. So was I; I thought they were not sharp enough. I’d still love to see more sharpness, but it was better, and at least they looked like they were enjoying themselves.

Kate: Again, not impressed by Slavik whatsoever, even in “his” genre.

 

Group Routine (Girls): Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown
“Bump” by Trish

Erica: They brought back this fairly fabulous group routine and added the other two girls to the mix about halfway through. It was great, again.

Kate: Yup yup yup, loved the addition of the other girls.

Erica: Then we got a song and routine from the world’s first international pop group? Which has been put together by someone connected to this show? I am confused about who these people are and why, but they’re cute.

Kate: What does it mean to be the world’s first international pop group? No one else has that title? They all looked so young, but were good dancers. I don’t know.

 

Jensen & Hannahlei: Heels, choreo by Brian Friedman
“Dem Beats” by Todrick feat. RuPaul

Erica: Hudge chose this number next, which makes sense to me, because I feel this number is all style and little substance, much like her.

Kate: Wow, burn! I actually liked it better this time.

Erica: Then Cat and Vanessa joked about performing this together at the wrap party, which, I sincerely hope they did.

Kate: Oh, yes, let’s see some wrap party footage.

Erica: There was some footage of the top four saying what it would mean to them to win. No one gave an interesting answer.


Group Routine (Boys): Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown

“Juice” by Yo Gotti

Erica: This continues to be a fabulous routine, and was made even more fabulous by tWitch coming in halfway through and showing these boys how it’s done. Then Nigel walked on at the tail end, and you know what, he knew he couldn’t do much, and he enjoyed what little he did, and I thought it was cute. I know I rag on him, but, you know, he does love dance, which is why he does this show, and I’m glad he took advantage of the opportunity to have a good time.

Kate: Oh, this was the most adorable. tWitch really makes it look so effortless and really does show these boys how it’s done, and Nigel just looked so happy to be up there. I think we should incorporate judges dancing more, didn’t Mary used to do that every now and then?

Erica: You know, he once choreographed a terrific boys’ group routine, back in Season Four, which might have been my favorite season. Check it out. It’s got tWitch!

Kate: Oh, super-cute.

Erica: Then we got some footage of contestant tWitch and it was cute, although honestly they could have showed more of his really great moments on the show.

Kate: Oh, the audition footage was actually the most adorable thing, and I forgot how good that “Mercy” routine was.

 

Magda & Darius: Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall
“Glass Heart Concerto” by Blondie & Philip Glass

Erica: Mary’s pick was this contemporary, which is and was fab. I think they were even more passionate this time around, although there were still a couple of labored moments.

Kate: Agree, lifts were not perfect but overall emotion was. Maybe that’s because they, like, lost?

 

Jay Jay & Lauren (Season 7): Jazz, choreo by Mandy Moore
“Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars

Erica: Nigel brought back this super-fun jazz routine and also reminded us that we apparently don’t like jazz.

Kate: I mean, I don’t like it as much as, say, hip-hop or contemporary, but I don’t hate it.

Erica: I also — I’m sorry, Kate — I like this song.

Kate: Why are you sorry, because I used to hate Bruno Mars? I think that has subsided, and this song is quite catchy indeed.

Erica: And Slavik is out. Okay, then. A girl is going to win.

Kate: YAS! THANK YOU, AMERICA! Or, the America that still votes for this show.

 

Group Routine (All): Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown
“Yummy” by Gwen Stefani ft. Pharrell

Erica: Another group routine by Luther Brown, which, yeah, he did some fabulous group routines, including this one, but I’m also wondering what happened to NappyTabs. They were at auditions; why don’t we have a big group routine from them?

Kate: Yep I liked this, and excellent question.

 

Darius & Taylor (Season 14): Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall
“It Takes A Lot To Know A Man” by Damien Rice

Erica: Nigel, obviously, chose the Big Message piece so he can pat himself on the back again for, after 15 years of helming a dance competition, letting someone admit they’re gay on live TV. He also says “acceptance” is the greatest thing humanity can possibly achieve. I can’t roll my eyes hard enough.

Kate: I think you are a weeeee bit hard on him. This was a great routine then and now.

Erica: It was a really good routine, performed beautifully, but I have two caveats: 1) I know the show is dedicated to boy-girl pairings, but wouldn’t it make more sense if the Taylor character here was played by a male dancer? For story purposes? 2) If Darius is in three of your favorite pair dances, SHOULDN’T HE BE IN THE FINAL FOUR?

Kate: Yes, he should, but the judges didn’t choose the final four, America did. Or, the America that still votes for this show.

Erica: And then it was time to announce the winner. It was not Genessy. Apparently Hannahlei and Jensen were close, but…It’s Hannahlei! I am surprised and it is not my preference but it is fine. Fine.

Kate: Oh, I wanted it to be Jensen, but…Ok! Fine! I know we said this with the season with the kids, but, I think we are finally, finally done with this show. A sad day, but an inevitable one.

 

SYTYCD Season 15 – Top 4 Perform

Erica: So, this was not the finale. This was the pre-finale. Just for the record.

Kate: How do they get a pre-finale episode, especially when we’re now running into Monday Night Football season, but only a top 10 and a few one-hour audition episodes?

Erica: I can’t believe that the top four includes three girls and one boy, given that, on this season, unlike any other, I thought the boys overall were better than the girls, and given that THEY CUT THE TWO BEST BOYS. But whatever. Whatever. Let’s carry on.

Kate: I know, I’m still so mad that Slavik is there.

Erica: Also for the record, there was no opening group routine this week, just an opening video about how all four of them have been in this competition.

 

Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Erica: Lord, that dress looked like a Muppet at a rave. Do raves still exist? Did they ever?

Kate: I think so. I got itchy just looking at it.

Erica: Perfect hair, though. Straight-ish but with a little volume on the top. I mean, it is difficult to mess up the gorgeousness that is Cat Deeley’s hair.

Kate: See I loved the hair at first but then it was so obvious to me how much of it was fake and that kind of ruined the magic for me.

Erica: And because I haven’t had a good feminist rant yet this season, I’ll take the opportunity to note that in the sequence in which each dancer is announced, the outfits were as follows: Hannahlei in a sparkly bathing suit; Genessy in a one-piece that consisted of sparkles over her boobs, bikini bottoms, a flap of material over her butt and otherwise just sheer mesh; Jensen in an almost-modest LBD with a high slit and spaghetti straps and vertical sparkly stripes. All three had a pound and a half of make-up on their faces. And Slavik? Slavik was in a gray tee shirt and black sweatpants with no visible makeup. (I mean, it’s TV, so I’m sure there was some makeup, but his face looked like his regular face.) What is my point? I have none. I’m just sitting here, observing.

Kate: I am sure Slavik had on boy dancer stage makeup.

Erica: The outfits are their solo outfits, as it turns out, which doesn’t really diminish my point. Which I do not have. I gotta say, Hudge actually looked acceptable on this episode. And Cat pointed out how tWitch’s lost voice made him sound all kinds of sexy, which, yes.

Kate: Yep, enjoyed that.

Erica: Cat mentioned again that Fox will be doing a live Rent, and I gotta say, I loved that musical hard as a teenager, but I’m not sure it’s aged well. Poverty seems a little less romantic now, you know?

Kate: I don’t understand why we keep doing the live musicals on TV; haven’t all of them been pretty bad?

Erica: Honestly, I’ve missed most of them.  

 

Genessy & Slavik: Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown

“Poke it Out” by Playboi Carti & Nicki Minaj

Erica: NOT SHARP ENOUGH!

Kate: NO, BUT…I actually liked Slavik in this. It was the first time that I was, like, oh, yes, I do think you can dance. Sort of.

Erica: I also thought — and I don’t know if this is a choreography problem or a them problem — that they were dancing too close to each other, so they couldn’t make their moves big enough without smacking each other in the face.

Kate: I did not notice that.

 

Jensen & Hannahlei: Heels, choreo by Brian Friedman

“Dem Beats” by Todrick feat. RuPaul

Erica: “Heels” is apparently a combination of jazz, contemporary and burlesque. Sure.

Kate: Oh I was CERTAIN that was a typo. WHAT?!

Erica: I’m going to go ahead and guess, based on the track and the style and everything else, that this is actually a dance style that comes from RuPaul’s Drag Race/the drag world. I don’t see why it’s different from, like, jazz, but what do I know?

Kate: I thought it was a little hip-hop-y, too.

Erica: I thought that the dance didn’t really demand much from them. They made a big deal of dancing in heels, but, dancing in heels is not beyond either of these girls’ abilities, especially Jensen, who is a ballroom dancer and therefore always dances in heels. Jensen looked better technically to me; Hannahlei looked like she was doing better in terms of attitude and stage presence.

Kate: I disagree, I thought Jensen completely outshone Hannahlei in every possible way. Like, actual size difference aside, Hannahlei looked like a little sister copying her big sister or even mom who’s, like, a super-professional dancer.

Erica: Hudge was more incoherent than usual. I think she was blinded by Brian Friedman’s rhinestones.

 

Genessy & Jonathan (Season 5): Samba, choreo by Elena Samodanova

“Watch Out for This (Bumaye)” by Major Lazer feat. Busy Signal, the Flexican, & FS Green)

Erica: Is she chewing gum? Is that supposed to be cute?

Kate: She was just making all the horrible facial expressions in this, I think.

Erica: All of her moves look unfinished to me. She looks like she’s always thinking of the next step.

Kate: She is not a very good dancer! She’s just not! No, I do not think she can dance!

 

Slavik & Melanie (Season 8): Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

“Gun” by Mas Ysa

Erica: Oh, we loved Melanie. She remains adorable. And I think she’s ideally suited to Travis Wall choreography. But we’re not talking about her because she already won. We’re talking about Slavik. Who I thought was remarkably good in this piece.

Kate: Ohhh we SO loved Melanie. Indeed she is suited to Travis, but not to Slavik, who is not a great dancer/is just OK. (And, man, we have been doing this for a LONG time.)

Erica: I agree with the judges that this piece was more about acting than dancing, which was fine with me, at least some of the time.

Kate: See I don’t think he pulled off the more-acting-than-dancing thing.

 

Hannahlei & Slavik: African Jazz, choreo by Sean Cheesman

“When Rivers Cry (Moon Drums Mix)” by Somi feat. Common

Erica: Sean Cheesman has definitely become a favorite choreographer of mine, but damn, his pants in the rehearsal footage? Like, we need to talk, Sean Cheesman.

Kate: I did not pay attention to the rehearsal footage in this episode.

Erica: I thought the choreography was cool as sh!t and they performed it adequately. Like, I’m sure we’ve seen dancers that could have done that better, but they didn’t embarrass themselves or anything.

Kate: She did great in this. I continue to not be impressed by him.

 

Jensen & Genessy: Broadway, choreo by Travis Wall

“Maybe This Time” by Liza Minnelli

Erica: The song, the costumes, the Travis — this is so much Erica catnip. I do wish Jensen’s hair had been styled better.

Kate: Oh my god I hated this SO much.

Erica: I thought it was cute but that Travis’s other Broadway number was better.

Kate: They both looked awkward and terrified and not sexy and confident as I would think they would want to be in this kind of routine. Honestly felt like it was one of the worst I’ve seen in SYTYCD history.

 

Hannahlei & Fik-Shun (Season 10): Hip-Hop, choreo by Randi & Hef

“Move Something” by DJ Quik & Problem

Erica: I’m, like, 90% sure Fik-shun has already had a routine about moving. I’m also somewhat disappointed that, given the jokes that were made during the rehearsal footage, they didn’t have Hannahlei inside one of the boxes at the beginning of the routine. I mean, if you’re going to have props and an on-the-nose song, you might as well go all the way to cheese.

Kate: I think you’re right but I don’t have time to find a clip of it right now. I almost forgot how much I loved him — he’s so great, so energetic, so…What’s the word? GOOD AT DANCING. That’s three words, but, yeah.

Erica: I thought she did very well. Her cheerleader past probably serves her well in this kind of cheerful, fun hip-hop. She even had some moves that I think I’ve seen cheerleaders do.

Kate: I was mostly focused on him but yes she did well.

 

Jensen & Robert (Season 7): Contemporary, choreo by Mandy Moore

“Can’t Help Falling In Love” by Kina Grannis (from the Crazy Rich Asians soundtrack)

Erica: Kate, have you read Crazy Rich Asians yet?

Kate: No, I’m reading another Ken Follett book so I won’t be done until 2019.

Erica: You should go read it right now. It’ll take you, like, an hour. It’s super fun. It’s like Real Housewives of Singapore, with a plot.

Kate: Maybe in 2019.

Erica: This was the best she’s ever done. By far. This was the first time I thought I would be happy to see her win. But really. It’s because of Robert. Robert makes everyone shine. Some of those lifts were just heartbreakingly lovely. And the choreography was gorgeous. But really, Robert was gorgeous and he made Jensen more gorgeous and it was great.

Kate: This made my heart simultaneously ache and soar. I love Robert so, so very much. He was amazing in this and he made her even more amazing. I think she should/is going to win.  

Erica: Also, holy moly, she’s her mom’s mini-me.

 

Genessy & Hannahlei: Contemporary, choreo by Talia Favia

“Numbers” by Daughter

Erica: Good. Right? They did well? I wish their waist cinchers matched because it came across like they just couldn’t find the same two, but the dancing was very good.

Kate: Yes, good, right, they did well. Their outfits were more, like, outfits, than costumes. Ya know?

Erica: Yes. I am not a fan of the formal short, but, if a formal short we’re an appropriate item, these would be things you’d wear on occasions that called for formal shorts. It speaks a lot about the dance that I’m more focused on the frankly boring outfits.

 

Jensen & Slavik: Cha-Cha, choreo by Oksana Platero

“Boom” by Tiesto & Sevenn ft. Gucci Mane

Erica: I think Slavik was very lucky to be dancing with Jensen for this number. Ballroom dancing is meant to show off the girl, so he didn’t have to do much. Mary assures us that the little he did, he didn’t do particularly well.

Kate: I for the life of me cannot remember this routine. Maybe I accidentally fast-forwarded through it? I imagine she was great and he kind of sucked, though.

Erica: That is correct! I liked Jensen in this and at this point, I’d be happy to see her win. But we know how America feels about competent women.

Kate: Oh see I think she will win because she’s the cute blonde girl and America is America after all.

Erica: Maybe her blondeness will save her. We’ll find out next week!

Kate: We sure will!

 

SYTYCD Season 15 – Top 6 Perform

Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Kate: This dress needs 2 less sleeves, one less turtleneck and one less obnoxiously large bow on the shoulder, then it’d be fine. Although the combination of velvet AND sequins is a little aggressive.

Erica: The bow is, to me, the most egregious thing. I don’t much like the dress, but it’s also just not my sort of thing.

Kate: Love the hair — silky smooth — and makeup, though.

Erica: Fully agree. Perfect. Also, it must be said; neither Hudge nor Mary look like a crazy person styled them tonight.

Kate: Ehhh…

 

Group Routine: Contemporary, choreo by Mia Michaels

“Spring 1” by Max Richter, Andre de Ridder, Konzerthaus Kammerorchester Berlin & Daniel Hope

Kate: Oh, kind of lovely, no?

Erica: I really enjoyed the choreography and I thought the performance was better than they have been. Also I kind of want a skirt like the girls were wearing. For, um, Sadie. And not for myself. At all.

Kate: I liked the mix of a classical/ballet-type song with contemporary Mia Michaels-type dancing.

Erica: I was surprised Nigel approved of the boys dancing all girly.

Kate: Also, this is the top 6 already? Does that mean next week is the finale since it’s the top 4?

Erica: Yeah, it sounds like it. That’s what happens when you start with just ten dancers.

 

Jensen & Kiki (Season 14) Cha-Cha, choreo by Jenna Johnson (Season 10)

“Bailar (Radio Edit)” by Deorro ft. Elvis Crespo

Kate: Ok so I think when we talk about her and Jay Jay having trouble with the connections, it’s actually her, because I noticed it here too, which is weird because isn’t ballroom her thing?

Erica: Yeah. It is. It did feel like the two of them were in different dances.

Kate: They said in the thing before the dance that she was sick this week, and I feel like I could kind of tell; she was not going full out, which is something I said about one of her performances last week I think.

 

Genessy & Lex (Season 14): Contemporary, choreo by Mandy & Elizabeth

“Be Brave” by My Brightest Diamond

Kate: Why was she crying in the thing before the dance?

Erica: Because it’s a struggle, y’all.

Kate: Well, even though I’m not totally in love with her, she did great in this, but who wouldn’t with Lex as their partner?

Erica: No no we hate Lex. I didn’t love the conceptual on-the-nose-ness of this piece, but I thought she danced it very well.

Kate: We do? Don’t remember that. I just feel like I finally was able to see her range of movement here, you know?

Erica: Yeah. We definitely saw her legs like we had not seen them before. I will say, Nigel kind of said without saying that it was good she wasn’t dragging around Slavik anymore.

 

Slavik & Jaja (Season 12): Hip-Hop, choreo by Comfort Fedoke (Season 4)

“Beggin & Pleadin” by Brandy

Kate: Still not that impressed with him. Like, at all.

Erica: I hate to say it, but…I didn’t like this choreography. Man. I love Comfort. But I thought this was not an interesting piece. And I’m all for dancing a style that doesn’t match the music, but it did not work here.

Kate: I thought it was ok, but it was a pretty odd Brandy song that I had never heard before. Also, isn’t hip-hop his genre? I didn’t find him to be sharp or down low enough at all.

Erica: The judges were pretty harsh. Although Nigel did also make reference to the not-at-all-happening showmance.

 

Hannahlei & Marko (Season 8): choreo by Robert Roldan (Season 7)

“Welcome Home” by Joy Williams

Kate: Marko! Robert!! And a Joy Williams song (she’s one half of the now nonexistent duo, The Civil Wars)!!! Oh, be still my heart; it’s too much. TOO MUCH!

Erica: The piece was quite lovely. Not going to change the world of dance, but pretty and danced well.

Kate: They weren’t  t o t a l l y in sync but this was beautiful and she did great, especially with all the lifts and tricks.

Erica: Yeah, I was impressed with her. There were moments of very honest connection that I thought worked really well.

 

Jay Jay & Lauren (Season 7): Jazz, choreo by Mandy Moore

“Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars

Kate: Oh, I thought all the routines would be choreographed by former contestants, which would have been cool. Also, really, Mandy Moore? This show doesn’t respond well to jazz?

Erica: Hey, that would have been cool. Maybe there’s some statistic she has access to that indicates voters don’t vote for jazz? I have to imagine that people who work on this show have access to and obsess over stats we don’t know about.

Kate: Oh, I hadn’t thought about that; probably. Lauren is also another one of my favorites; I think her and Robert’s season was my all-time favorite. The golden era of dance, if you will.

Erica: Hah! But yeah, they were good.

Kate: And although she’s one of my favorites, I feel like she did her job as an all-star and really let him shine in this routine; his jazz sass and attitude were pretty on point. (Lots of dance puns in that sentence.)

Erica: He has something that no other dancer has this season — he makes it look easy. I thought he was fab in this as he has been in just about everything. And of course I was delighted to see Lauren again. She’s great.

 

Darius & Taylor (Season 14): Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

“It Takes A Lot To Know A Man” by Damien Rice

Kate: Wait, didn’t we love Taylor?

Erica: Yes. We loved Koine a skootch more, but we loved Taylor next best last season.

Kate: Um, I know this is a Big Message piece, but may I just say that the eye makeup on him here was just gorgeous?

Erica: Here’s my thing — they let Travis say that he’s gay. Out loud. It’s…Like…Progress.

Kate: Hooray for progress! They danced a little awkwardly together and I don’t know if that was intended because of the choreography or what; but other than that, this was great and he was great. He has a lot of range, I think.

Erica: Oh, I thought they were perfection together. I think any awkwardness was intentional. He was spectacular and this piece was spectacular. You and I often don’t love Big Message pieces, but I think the thing is that a lot of the time the dancing suffers in service of The Message. In this piece, the dancing was brilliant, and The Message and the dancing were enhanced by each other. And he was so good. I’m so glad we didn’t lose him last week.

Kate: Aaaand there’s Nigel’s awful commentary. I cannot even. And stupid Hudge is “legit shook”.

Erica: Nigel, there have been gay boys on your show for 15 seasons and this is the first time one of them was allowed to admit it. Don’t pull a muscle patting yourself on the back, there.

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: Tahitian, choreo by Tiana Nonosina Liufau

“Lugahiva” by Te Vaka

Kate: Well, this was new. And WOW costumes.

Erica: This is because of the popularity of Moana. Kate, I forget, did you manage to watch this with the girls at some point? It’s so good.

Kate: I have still never seen it, but Ian plays the songs for me frequently. And I think Nigel said that this lady choreographed Moana, so, duh. But how does one choreograph an animated movie? Anyway, they were only slightly better on their connections here but individually they both danced this great; him a tad bit better, though.

Erica: I think it was nice for these two that this dance wasn’t super-dependent on connections. I thought they were individually very good and her hips were excellent.

 

Genessy & Slavik: Salsa, choreo by Jonathan & Oksana

“Machika” by J Balvin, Jeon & Anitta

Kate: Their silly little romance thing is just too…Silly…For me to believe this was a “sexy salsa” routine as indicated in the pre-dance thing.

Erica: Yeah, weirdly, the parts that they were supposed to be really rolling their pelvises together or whatever looked the worst.

Kate: Their lifts and tricks were also super-awkward throughout, very labored. Didn’t really like this, so I’m back to not liking her, and I still don’t like him or their silly little romance.

Erica: I thought she was better than him in this. But not great.

 

Hannahlei & Darius: Argentine Tango, choreo by Leonardo & Miriam

“Tanguango” by Ryota Komatsu

Kate: It sucks/is interesting that these are the only 2 left in the competition not with their original partners, no?

Erica: I suppose, but also, again, the small numbers made that inevitable.

Kate: Also, the way the 2 choreographers were dancing in the pre-dance thing made me want to watch THEM do some Argentine Tango!

Erica: Oof. I forgot to pay attention to that.

Kate: Also, they NAILED this. That beginning lift? Damn. All the lifts? Damn damn damn. (Except that one at the end when they kind of bumped heads, oops.) Really amazed. What a great night they both had!

Erica: I thought they danced it very well but didn’t sell the sexy. I also have to give props to the choreographers, who put in some really cool moves, which the pair of them pulled off.

Kate: “The pair of them” is a very Nigel-esque phrase. And, um, awkward AF when he asked Fox if they can have a top 20 again. I just don’t see it for you, Nigel.

Erica: Aw, poor Nigel.

Kate: Jensen is safe. Yay/duh.

 

Group Routine (Boys): Lyrical Hip-Hop, choreo by Christopher Scott

“Violence Broken” by No Mono

Kate: Hmm, not my favorite concept, but Jay Jay and Darius so clearly outshine Slavik.

Erica: I didn’t mind the concept. Christopher Scott loves his props but I thought these worked okay. And I thought Darius was the best in this one.

Kate: This really was just a weird routine.

Erica: Well. Yes. It was. I thought it was interesting but did not shine. I liked Luther Brown’s boys’ piece last week.

Kate: Slavik is safe. Are. You. Kidding. ???

Erica: I’m telling you, the power of the heterosexuality is working for him right now. I am super-enjoying, too, that the girls had to come out for results with their hair wrapped up because they were in the middle of prepping for their next routine. This show is usually pretty good about not showing its bones like that, but I enjoy when they do.

 

Group Routine (Girls): Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown

“Bump” by Trish

Kate: SO much more fun/interesting than the boys’ routine.

Erica: I’m telling you, we need Luther Brown on the group routines more.

Kate: I actually really enjoyed this routine and I actually think that Genessy was best of the 3, followed by Hannahlei then Jensen, but I still love Jensen. I would very much like to learn this routine, Luther.

Erica: I liked Hannahlei the best in this one but I thought it was mostly that it was a fun routine.

Kate: Hannahlei is safe, which is good, as is Jensen, which is not good. America, I am once again not at all thrilled with you. Jay Jay and Darius are way more talented than most of those people in the top 4. UGH!

Erica: I have no objection to the girls, as I didn’t have a huge attachment to any of them, but once Slavik was safe I knew America had not been healed. No matter how many times tWitch wishes Luther Brown “mazel tov”. So our top 4 are Hannahlei, Jensen, Genessy and Slavik. Wait, so, first of all, for the first time ever, they have chosen not to do an even number of boys and girls, and also, Jay Jay and Darius are the best on the show? WTF? I call racism.

Kate: Ugh, until next week, I guess.

 

SYTYCD Top 8

Erica: I want y’all to know that I’m using my precious the-baby-is-asleep-and-I’m-not time to do this recap instead of reading China Rich Girlfriend, the second in the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. So I hope someone is reading it. Kate, have we talked Crazy Rich Asians? Have you read it?

Kate: No and no, but the movie looks funny.

Erica: You should read the books; you would love them.

 

Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Erica: This is such an extreme improvement from last week that I have to assume it’s a different stylist. I am very much charmed by the oversized scalloped edges on the halter neckline.

Kate: Yes she looks great. Love a high pony on a tall blonde.

Erica: So very much dancing tonight. Each couple dances twice, then each dancer does a solo (which we won’t cover unless something exciting happens, which it won’t), then there’s a girls’ routine and a boys’ routine. So that’s cool.

Kate: Ugh, solos.

Erica: Also I still hate Hudge but I like her hair tonight. I can be nice.

Kate: Yes, her hairstyle on this particular episode is the most redeeming thing about her. Ever.

 

Group Routine: Contemporary, choreo by Christopher Scott

“Runaway” by Nathan Lanier

Erica: This was a very high concept piece. The four boys were on platforms in black outfits and stretchy cords attaching them by the shoulders to their platforms. They struggled against these cords until their ladies came on the platforms dressed as pantsless doctors. Eventually all the boys except the straight guy got out and then he was left on stage alone and panicked. It was extremely bizarre.

Kate: The cords distracted me from the dancing at first. I love this version of this song.

Erica: I thought the flailing was a little sloppy at times. But it was a routine that was mostly about the choreography, not the dancing. IMHO.

Kate: And the props.

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: Smooth Jazz, choreo by Sean Cheesman

“I Got You (I Feel Good)” by Jessie J

Erica: She has really good hair. Like, not so much in this costuming (although it’s fine), but in general. That’s not a dance comment but I felt it needed to be said.

Kate: Yes, she does. I do not like this version of this song. Also, there is a difference between “Jazz” and “Smooth Jazz” in dance as well as in music? Odd…

Erica: Am I just being a b!tch? I felt like a lot of the lifts were super-awkward and labored. Because of the tempo of the song, you can’t really use momentum to throw your partner around; you have to look smooth like honey, and they didn’t.

Kate: No you are not you are being correct, they are still severely lacking in connections when it comes to lifts and turns and I do not understand why because they are good everywhere else. She also seemed very unsure and held back throughout this entire routine.

Erica: I did really like the choreography.

 

Genessy & Slavik: Contemporary, choreo by Mandy Moore

“Fall For You” by Leela James

Erica: Ugh they are trying to showmance these two and I am not interested.

Kate: Did she say “He is definitely one of my soulmates?” WTF does that mean?

Erica: I don’t have anything to criticize about their dancing except that I didn’t fall in love with them and I wanted to fall in love with them. The dance was supposed to be about the moment they decide to say “I love you,” so I wanted to have that little sigh, that heart-gasm™ (Sonali Dev), and I didn’t. Maybe because I was already annoyed by the showmance stuff.

Kate: I did like them in this routine better than I have in any other routines so far, but, yea, don’t care about their showmance.

 

Magda & Darius: Hip-Hop, choreo by Phoenix & Pharside

“Killa” by Disto

Erica: Between the weird bulkiness of their wolf-ish costumes, the lighting and the camera angles, I couldn’t really tell whether they’re doing this well or not. I suspect not.

Kate: I really, really hated the costumes; at first I thought it had something to do with The Wizard of Oz and she was the cowardly lion. However, she was actually better at hip-hop than he was, I think.

Erica: Also holy sh*t is Hudge the most useless human. “Wolf! There it is!”, she crowed, as if she somehow managed to have an original thought instead of having her only comment be a joke that would have felt dated when I was a freshman in high school.

 

Hannahlei & Cole: Broadway, choreo by Travis Wall

“Get Happy” by Judy Garland

Erica: Okay. I don’t like him. But they were adorable in this piece. And this piece was adorable. Travis Wall really is kind of a gift to dance.

Kate: I don’t get why everyone loved this so much. This is possibly because I wasn’t paying much attention to it. Oops.

Erica: Go back and pay attention because it was the first routine of this season I’m going to remember. I mean, I already like Broadway, but honestly, this was good.

 

Genessy & Slavik: Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper

“House Work (Extended Mix)” by Jax Jones ft. Mike Dunn & MNEK

Erica: This is exactly what I do when I clean my house. I felt that they were not nearly in sync enough or sharp enough.

Kate: Yea, they are back to boring me. I don’t think she’s really that good of a dancer.

Erica: I must give tWitch all the props for being actually critical. And Nigel none of the props for pushing the showmance so awkwardly and annoyingly.

Kate: I hate it.

 

Magda & Darius: Contemporary, choreo by Jaci Royal

“Undertow” by Ane Braun

Erica: This is not about the dancers at all. I have many questions about Jaci Royal. Like, why is your name spelled like that when you pronounce it “Jackie”? And, what about “story about a bad relationship using an on-the-nose prop” is NOT a “typical contemporary routine”?

Kate: Oh I kind of loved this.

Erica: The coolest part of this routine was the way they slipped around on the floor. The thing I liked least about this routine was when they got too close on her when she was holding her hands out ahead of her, so that instead of it looking like she was finally free, it looked like she was a zombie with ginormous hands.

Kate: I thought they danced it beautifully!

Erica: No disagreements there. I didn’t like the camera work. Ooh, Nigel dinged the choreographer. That almost never happens. And Mary and tWitch argued with him, and everyone was, like, cohesive and basing their arguments on dance rather than screeching. And Hudge is silent.

Kate: That’s because “cohesive” is not in her vocabulary. Literally.

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: Hip-Hop, choreo by Hef & Randi

“Cookin” by Fat Joe, Remy Ma & French Montana ft. RySoValid

Erica: Have we seen these choreographers before?

Kate: Not that I can recall.

Erica: I was worried that this routine would be too prop-heavy — they were cooks and there was a kitchen counter on stage, and at the beginning they played with pans and stuff — but they left that behind pretty quickly and did what I thought was a pretty cute routine that they performed really well. They weren’t always perfectly in sync but they had good chemistry and performance, and really, overall, I thought they did really well.

Kate: Oh, I freakin’ loved this. They both had the perfect sass for this routine, and they finally didn’t look completely terrified of touching/lifting each other (although the tumbling was a bit bumpy). Loved it!

Erica: Did I miss something? Why did Mary give a shout-out to Aretha Franklin? And then Nigel pitched his next reality show idea: Jensen’s dancing Mormon family.

Kate: Honestly, wouldn’t be surprised if I saw that on Lifetime.

 

Hannahlei & Cole: Cha-Cha, choreo by Sasha Farber & Emma Slater

“Sing It Back” by Moloko

Erica: I hate to say it, but he was really good in this. She was pretty good, too. And the choreography was pretty great. My only complaint is the lighting in the beginning, which was too much. And that it’s forcing me to compliment Cole.

Kate: Her solo was also really great, I think. I am now starting to dislike him as much as you do, though, so get back on that train with me.

Erica: Actually, when they showed that trick that impressed Mary again, I see that it was a little labored. But still. Great dance. I still hate his personality.

 

Group Routine (Girls): Contemporary, choreo by Talia Favia

“Wanderlust” by Empara Mi

Erica: Not in sync. Not enough in sync. It seems to be a running theme this week.

Kate: Oh, not in sync at ALL. But Jensen really stood out from the rest as someone who actually knows what she’s doing.

Erica: This piece had a bit of a performance-arty feel to it that I didn’t love. But the bit where they were all running in place while holding hands was cool.

Kate: Agree.

Erica: And the girls’ results were announced at this point, which honestly makes sense. Jensen was safe. I agree with America on this issue. Magda, who was in danger last week, was once again in the bottom. Genessy was also in the bottom, so Hannahlei was safe. And after tonight, there’s no way she would be sent home, so that’s fine.

 

Group Routine (Boys): Hip-hop, choreo by Luther Brown

“Juice” by Yo Gotti

Erica: So, first, the stuff that’s not on the dancers — this is further evidence to me that Luther Brown does not find the standard boy-girl pairing inspiring. I thought this routine was great. Fun without being cartoony, with terrific costuming and lighting, and a good marriage between music and moves.

Kate: Kind of like a sophisticated version of that Magic Mike “It’s Raining Men” routine. 🙂

Erica: Now the dancing — individually, I thought they were all good. Jay Jay continues to stand out for me, and (ugh) Cole was pretty good, if a little too performative. But, again, not in sync enough, and not sharp enough.

Kate: How can a dancer be “too performative”?

Erica: He was mugging too much. It was distracting. And it frequently feels to me like he doesn’t try to feel the emotions in a piece; he just tried to show them. Not that this piece is a showcase for that. Just something I feel in general.

Kate: Ok.

Erica: And on to the results. Jay Jay was safe because he’s the bestest. Cole was in danger, but after tonight there’s no way they’ll send him home. He had a good night. Slavik was safe, so does that mean Darius is out? I have to say, I wasn’t into Darius much, but his solo tonight, I thought, showed he proved to be here, even if he did insist on wearing velvet pants during it.

Kate: I like him better than Slavik and Cole, though.

Erica: Oh, wow. They went with the voters to clear bottom two, so Cole and Magda are gone. I thought the girls’ could have gone either way but I really thought Cole’s performances tonight would save him.

Kate: Oh darn, I was starting to like Magda. But you hated Cole, so that’s ok, right?

Erica: Yes, that’s ok. See you next week, folks!

 

SYTYCD Season 15 – 10 Dance, 8 Remain

Erica: Before we begin, I’ve got to plug for a friend of a friend. My friend Melonie Johnson (whose debut novel will be out in April) is friends with Alexis Daria, whose debut novel Take the Lead won the RITA (the BFD romance novel award) for Best First Book. It takes place on the set of a reality dance competition (which is more Dancing with the Stars than SYTYCD) and you guys, if you are into romance novels, it’s a really good one. I recommend. The second in the series is out, too, but I didn’t know that so I haven’t read it yet.

 

Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Kate: Oh, no. This is way too young for her.

Erica: In that it would be more appropriate on a four-year-old? Who is in some sort of pageant? In Tulsa, Oklahoma, circa 1968? Yeah. It’s too young for her. Holy sh!t. Did her stylist need a day off, so Mary’s took over?

Kate: It’s also just too much — the bow, the high half-pony, the sparkly hoops, the sparkly floral mini-dress, just no. Great eye makeup, though, I think?

Erica: I mean, sure. Yes. But that’s a little, “But other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?”

 

Group Routine (All): Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown

“Yummy” by Gwen Stefani ft. Pharrell

Kate: Well, that was fun! A much better opening than last week’s, no?

Erica: I really, really liked it. I thought it was so much fun, so funky and really showed off the dancers.

Kate: Except I can’t tell if it was fun/better than last week’s mostly because of the song and the costumes and the concept and the choreography and not the actual DANCING. You know?

Erica: I don’t think last week’s was bad. It just wasn’t as peppy as I’d like the opening number for the first real episode to be. (I will say, I loved the costumes. They always do a good job with those sort of Victorian-glitter-goth looks. But what was up with the pastel Willy Wonka set? Was it because the song was called “Yummy”? Did not seem to match.)

Kate: Wow, and it was a Luther Brown routine, so I retract what I said last week. …Somewhat.

Erica: Maybe he’s just not inspired by one boy dancing with one girl all the time. …Nigel.

Kate: And, praise be, tWitch IS a permanent judge this season. Praise. Be.

Erica: In His Name. (“His” being tWitch.)

 

Magda & Darius: Bollywood, choreo by Nakul Dev Mahajan

“Badri Ki Dulhania” by Badrinath Ki Dulhania (Soundtrack)

Kate: I feel guilty for not paying enough attention to these two last week. Oh how I love these outfits.  

Erica: Yeah? They were fun but not my favorite.

Kate: I love a good Bollywood routine as much as the next person, and they had great energy throughout, but they were not even close to being sharp enough at any point in time.

Erica: I thought they looked like they were having an incredible amount of fun, which is great. They could have used more sharpness. There were also a lot of moments where they needed to make their bodies look the same as each other, and they sort of missed the mark.

Kate: Actually, I think they put way more effort into the energy and attitude of Bollywood rather than the sharpness in the movements, which is really absolutely key in these routines. Seriously less than thrilled.

Erica: I give a lot of leeway, though, because that kind of precision takes more practice than they could reasonably be expected to develop in a week. Do you recall them ever doing a group Bollywood routine on this show? I’d like to see that.

Kate: I do not recall but I would also like to see that.

 

Chelsea & Evan: Lyrical Hip-Hop, choreo by Christopher Scott

“Love on the Brain” by Rihanna

Kate: Oh, what a song for lyrical hip-hop, and this theme.

Erica: I’d never heard this song. The tune it’s sampling is one of my favorites. I liked it very much.

Kate: She was probably my favorite last week, but I was very impressed by his rhythm and moves here — you know, for a tap dancer.

Erica: Yeah, totally. They were very connected, and he seemed really great.

Kate: Also, Christopher Scott, or whomever is in charge of props on this show, I think we would have gotten the concept just fine without all the boxes of stuff. So corny.

Erica: I thought “corny” was part of the definition of “lyrical hip-hop”.

Kate: Also also, I don’t know what the judges were talking about with their chemistry; I thought their chemistry was great. But, as we know, I am NOT on the same page as the judges this season. Except tWitch — love ya always, boo 😉

Erica: I felt like Mary, at least, wanted it to be a different story than it was.

 

Hannahlei & Cole: Step, choreo by Joe Brown

“Pump It Up” by Joe Budden

Kate: I just want to brag about the fact that I spelled her name right on the first try. Biggest accomplishment of the week.

Erica: Mazel tov.

Kate: Also, since when are they doing step as its own category on this show? That’s new this year, right? I did a step class in college and messed up pretty bad during a performance; it is REALLY hard. But it is REALLY fun to watch when it’s a ton of people who know what they’re doing. That said, it sounds REALLY weird when it’s just 2 people…Over music. Step is usually NOT done over music because the clapping and stomping kind of IS the music, know what I’m saying?

Erica: Yes. The part where the music went quiet, they were not loud enough or sharp enough. And isn’t it usually done with, like, at least 25 people?

Kate: Yes. I thought they were actually kind of terrible at this. Too hyper and smiley and high up, not low and steppy enough.

Erica: Very smiley. Not sure if it’s them or the choreographer. Her cheerleader roots are showing.

Kate: I want to be offended by that but I’m not.

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: Contemporary, choreo by Jaci Royal

“Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings

Kate: This was gorgeous for the most part, but a few of the lifts and connections could have been a little smoother, which was my exact feedback on their salsa last week. They need to be more aware of where the other is at all times.

Erica: I thought that aspect improved since last week. And I thought that she did a better job of performing with him as opposed to mugging for the camera.

Kate: Eh, sort of. Also — and this is a comment on the choreography, I know, but whatever — I prefer my sad-relationship-contemporary routines with much more separate synchronized dancing rather than partner lift-y dancing a la Robert and Allison’s Fix You (honestly, any excuse to link to that routine).

Erica: Oh, but I thought in this particular routine, it worked, because she was trying to get him back, so she was throwing her body at him. No? (Fully support your linking to that routine, though.)

Kate: ROBERT AND ALLISON!

 

Genessy & Slavik: Jive, choreo by Sharna Burgess

“Jump, Jive An’ Wail” by The Brian Setzer Orchestra

Kate: Really, Sharna? Couldn’t come up with a song that didn’t have the word “jive” in it? I’m reminded of Miranda Priestly saying “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.”

Erica: Hey, sometimes a classic is a classic for a reason.

Kate: For all his worry about being a hip-hop dancer doing jive, I thought he did much better than her. He was better at the really quick movements while she was lagging quite a bit and seemed overall very nervous and tired the whole time. Like, he was kind of carrying her.

Erica: I thought they both looked a little heavy. I love jive and just the fact of the dance should make me love it but I thought this could have been better. He is, by the way, using his heterosexuality to get votes (from the watchers who are way younger, or pervier, than us).

Kate: Eh, toward the end they were better, but she still failed pretty miserably at this in my eyes. But don’t worry, the judges gave them a standing O, so it’s ok. Ugh!

Erica: I think that’s the power of the jive. It just makes everyone happy.

 

Magda & Darius: Jazz, choreo by Mandy Moore

“Fever” by Peggy Lee

Kate: Ok so we’re just going for the MOST stereotypical songs per genre? Fine.

Erica: Okay but I love this song.

Kate: Well I liked this better than their first routine but still, neither of them are really doing it for me in any way shape or form.

Erica: They looked a little stiff, and they weren’t coordinating when to be flirting with each other and when to be flirting with the audience. Also, what about this was out of Magda’s ballroom dance comfort zone? She said she was having to unlearn everything, but I didn’t see it. tWitch said he wished he was them in this routine and honestly, I’d have liked to see him (and his wife) do this routine, too.

Kate: Oh, so much same.

 

Chelsea & Evan: Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

“Snowing” by Sonya Kitchell

Kate: Oh, Travis. You’re so…Deep.

Erica: This was quite lovely.

Kate: This was beautiful. He could have been a little more sure-footed (and sure-armed? Is that a thing?) on those lifts, but overall I really loved this and am really starting to love these two.

Erica: Yeah. She’s my favorite. And he’s not bad either.

Kate: But, AGAIN, MUST WE BE SO LITERAL with the white outfits and the “it’s snowing” song and the LITERAL FAKE SNOW FALLING FROM THE CEILING? Come ON!

Erica: Look, SYTYCD is just trying to embrace its cheesy, cheesy soul in its last trip around the sun.

 

Hannahlei & Cole: Disco, choreo by Doriana Sanchez

“Last Dance (12” Version)” by Donna Summer

Kate: Have we ever seen a disco routine on this show NOT choreographed by Doriana Sanchez? ALSO, SERIOUSLY, THIS SONG? We really are going for the most stereotypical of songs!

Erica: I think one time there was a different disco choreographer?

Kate: Again, they have the pizazz of the genre but not the skill. He did OK but she was too flaily (and not the controlled kind), and most of their lifts made me grimace in fear that someone would be on their @$$ any minute.

Erica: Yeah, they seemed to have to concentrate too hard on connecting with each other. Even in small moments, like when they put their arms around each other. I really can’t stand him. I don’t know why he rubs me the wrong way so much.

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: African Jazz, choreo by Sean Cheesman

“Run” by Hybrid Core Music + Sound

Kate: Um, super, super, super-duper cool. Costumes + dancing. I like that Sean Cheesman said “There’s nothing pretty about this. I hope they get that”, because that really is true about certain dances and is pretty hard to pull off.

Erica: Loved the choreography. Want to see Sean Cheesman do more group routines.

Kate: I think she could have been a little sharper in some areas, but he really nailed it. These two are probably my other favorites besides Chelsea and Evan.

Erica: Jay Jay and Chelsea are my favorites. Jensen is growing on me. But I thought both of them could have been the teensiest bit sharper, gotten more air under them when they jumped and lifted, etc. They were good, though.

Kate: And wow, Jensen’s makeup is incredible.

Erica: Yeah, it’s pretty good. I like tWitch ordering us all to try to do, like, one movement that they did. Which might actually kill me but I should probably try.

Kate: Oh, they did some results before the final routine. Odd. Hannahlei and Jay Jay are safe. Why TF did they do the results like that?

Erica: Nigel, when I said I wanted you to break form a little, do something new and different, this wasn’t where I wanted you to focus your energy.

 

Genessy & Slavik: Broadway, choreo by Al Blackstone

“Someone to Watch Over Me” by Ella Fitzgerald & London Symphony Orchestra

Kate: Um, a bench and a flower? Are we serious?

Erica: If you don’t know what she’s talking about, a) who are you and how did you come to be reading this post? and b) here.

Kate: Fine, this was fairly adorable, but I don’t know that it was a great showcase of their dancing, you know? She had some pretty moments with her legs, though.

Erica: I loved the choreography. I think she’s a beautiful dancer, but not a great actress. She didn’t really sell the story.

Kate: I cannot get over the fact that someone put a bench on the SYTYCD stage after THE bench, though. And no one even mentioned it!

Erica: That, to me, is the most unusual thing. Nigel loves recalling the history of SYTYCD.

Kate: Ok, more results. Jensen and Genessy are safe.

Erica: Fine.

Kate: Oh, they’re sending home one guy and one girl each week. Man, this show is definitely on its way out the door. Sad.

Erica: Well, they always do that. But with only ten to start with, this season is going to go fast.

Kate: LOL my first two favorites are of course going home, and how convenient that they were a couple so the producers don’t have to refigure the pairings? *thinking face emoji*

Erica: Blergh. Chelsea, I would love to see you in something else. Please return to my screen sometime soon. Cole, I do not like you and I wish you had gone home tonight.

Kate: Well, see you next week, folks!

 

SYTYCD – Season 15, Top Ten Dancers Perform

Erica: Well, I’m guessing this is the last season. What do you think?

Kate: I don’t know, I keep thinking that, and then the following season comes up with even more changes and shorter air times, and this time around we’re only seeing the top 10 dancers instead of the top 20. Yikes.

Erica: I would be sad, but remember how mad we were about the RAMPANT SEXISM that deprived Koine, or even the infinitely superior Taylor, of the win, and gave it to sub-par Lex instead?

Kate: I do remember this rampant sexism, now that you mention it.

Erica: And Nigel has remained so committed to boy-girl pairings and a stale formula for so long that I’m kind of exhausted by it.

Kate: This season’s auditions in particular exhausted me because every single piece of feedback was, like, “You’re not that great but we like you so yay you move on to the next round!” Literally, almost 0 negative feedback. Is this part of the whole everyone-gets-a-trophy movement? Because I have to say, I hate it.

Erica: So we’re not going to be as on top of this as we usually are. Kate is very busy with non-SYTYCD-blogging work, and I am being reminded that having a toddler is even more exhausting than having an infant. So we’ll do our best, and we’re pretty sure y’all are over it anyway.

Kate: Seriously, does anyone even still watch this besides us? Hello?

 

Cat Deeley’s Ensemble

Erica: I hate to say it, but man, is she looking tired.

Kate: Yup she looked very haggard throughout auditions and academy weeks, this is actually an improvement. I love her long flowy hair, and the color of her dress, but not the style of the dress, and good god whoever did her and Mary Murphy’s makeup should be fired. They look neon!

Erica: Cat’s hair still looks great.

Kate: Duh.

 

Group Routine (All): Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

“Dream State” by Son Lux

 

Erica: So much sparkly.

Kate: Yes, distracted by the sparkle.

Erica: I didn’t think it was the dynamic, energetic beginning we could have used, but the choreography was lovely and the dancers, for the most part, looked sharp and made some beautiful lines. I haven’t watched anything yet, so I don’t know these guys, but there was one guy, I think Jay Jay, who looked really gorgeous.

Kate: I could tell this was a Travis routine immediately. I enjoyed it because they look a hell of a lot better dancing all together than individually or in pairs, but that’s not saying much with this group.

Erica: So just in case you want a little guidance as to the format, tonight each couple will dance twice, once in the girl’s style and once in the boy’s style. I don’t know if they’ll stay in the same couples for any of the rest of the season. Also, tWitch is a judge, which I’m excited about. Almost makes up for bringing back the Hudge.

Kate: Wait he is a permanent judge, not just a guest for the first episode? Please let that be the case. Hudge is the worst.

Erica: Her voice sends me into some sort of parallel state.

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: Salsa, choreo by Jean-Marc Genereux

“Mad Love” by Sean Paul & David Guetta feat. Becky G

Erica: No female person who’s not a dancer is named Jensen. So she’s the ballroom dancer, by the way. In case you’re keeping track. Ladies first, it seems.

Kate: And the younger sister of a former contestant, also a ballroom dancer, I think? Lindsey/Lindsay?

Erica: There were some awkward moments — like that last one where she’s sort of sliding down his thigh — but overall, I thought it was pretty good. He didn’t look obviously out-classed. She was a little overly smiley for my taste but I thought not bad.

Kate: They missed a whole lot of connections, which to me is what makes ballroom so cool (besides all the lifts and tricks). The connections should be almost invisible — they should just completely flow together as one, which they most certainly did not. They are both fun to watch separately, though.

Erica: What is with Hudge’s nails? She’s so weird.

Kate: SHE IS THE ACTUAL WORST.

Erica: So, Jensen is Mormon, right? She’s young and engaged. She’s got a big family that also dances. She’s got that adorable blonde cute-as-apple-pie look. Right? I didn’t watch all the auditions and everything.

 

Hannahlei & Cole: Contemporary, choreo by Tyce D’Orio

“They Won’t Go When I Go” by George Michael

Erica: She seems adorable but now I’m hoping she gets voted out early because her name is going to be hellish to type every time. My autocorrect does not like it. So they’re dancing through the apocalypse, as you do.

Kate: This song felt way too upbeat for the apocalypse.

Erica: I think I like her. I think she’s got a lot of presence and she’s got the acting piece down, as well as being a lovely dancer. I particularly like one of their first lifts, which isn’t so much a lift because she just sort of wraps herself around his torso.

Kate: Was honestly too distracted by the song vs. the theme to notice much of the dancing, so I guess the dancing wasn’t that attention-grabbing.

Erica: He seems fine but he didn’t stand out for me. Oh, and, BTW, they are staying in these partnerships for the duration. Or some duration.

Kate: Right, until people get voted off.

Erica: Hudge is Filipino? Okay.

Kate: Hudge is the worst, is what she is.

 

Chelsea & Evan: Jazz, choreo by Ray Leeper

“Make Me Feel” by Janelle Monae

Kate: Ok, finally a routine I actually enjoy! I think she’s pretty good, maybe the best so far?

Erica: She pulls a lot of faces, which feels appropriate to a jazz routine, but we’ll see how that tendency plays in other styles.

Kate: I do feel like she could have elongated and exaggerated several movements a little more in this routine.

Erica: tWitch says something about these being the moments they’ve dreamed of their whole lives. And this show has been on long enough that that’s very likely true.

 

Genessy & Slavik: Hip-Hop, choreo by Luther Brown

“Round & Round” by Fabolous

Erica: Oh, wait, it’s not all ladies first. This is his style. Genessy is also a name you don’t hear outside the reality dance world.

Kate: I really did not like the choreography of this routine and it reminded me that I think I don’t usually like Luther Brown’s choreography in general — it’s like, not enough HAPPENS, you know? GIVE ME MORE, LUTHER!

Erica: They’re pretty cute together. Great chemistry. Hate to agree with the judges, but it’s true.

Kate: Fine, yes, but I need to see a different routine to accurately judge that.

 

Magda & Darius: Contemporary, choreo by Travis Wall

“Glass Heart Concerto” by Blondie & Philip Glass

Erica: This is also his style first; she’s ballroom. Also, Blondie & Philip Glass? I’m so confused right now.

Kate: I…didn’t pay much attention to this routine. Oops.

Erica: Ooh, she’s playing him like he’s her cello to open. It’s cool. Then he gets the bow. Damn, the choreo is really cool. I mean, I expect it from Travis Wall, but he delivers.

Kate: Yes that part I saw and thought was cool.

Erica: They’re both pretty good, but he’s better. In this, anyway. It is his style.

Kate: Correct.

Erica: Nigel claims they’ll be talking about this routine for many seasons to come, but I don’t believe him.

Kate: Yes, because there may not be many seasons to come. Or any. Yikes!

 

Hannahlei & Cole: Paso Doble, choreo by Jean-Marc Genereux

“Heroes of Chaos” by Tybercore

Erica: I try not to comment on the rehearsal footage but I can already tell he’s going to irritate me.

Kate: Don’t I also not like paso dobles, usually? I didn’t enjoy this.

Erica: I didn’t love it. And I’ve seen paso dobles that I do like. It’s not an auto-love category for me (like Broadway or Jive), but it’s not an auto-hate, either. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve decided I don’t like him, but I didn’t feel like he was doing a great partnering job. And she was not extending enough sometimes. And they didn’t look like they trusted each other.

Kate: I don’t think these 2 should be in the top 10.

Erica: Oh, and I hate the costumes. Nigel liked them, but he’s wrong. I’m for some reason reminded of that low-budget Supergirl movie from when I was a kid.

 

Jensen & Jay Jay: Jazz, choreo by Mandy Moore

“Ex’s & Oh’s” by Elle King

Erica: I love this song. I hate their costumes but not as much as I hated the last ones.

Kate: Most exciting routine of the night.

Erica: She’s way smiley. And she smiles at the audience instead of at her partner. Well, she also smiles at her partner. But she needs to interact with him more.

Kate: Yes but she did great in not-her-own style, and they had good (dance) chemistry, and the choreo was great and their energy was great. Finally!

Erica: I think he might be my favorite. We’ll see.

Kate: Yes, he’s great.

Erica: Nigel is criticizing their sexiness? For this song? That’s so weird. Like, I actually think the problem was not that they were too sexy; it’s that she was sexing up the audience instead of her partner.

 

Chelsea & Evan: Tap, choreo by Anthony Morigerato

“Singin’ in the Rain” by Jamie Cullum

Erica: I feel like this is a style that is really quite difficult for anyone outside the style to do well. And I don’t love this version of this song although it does allow their taps to sing.

Kate: Oh I hated every single second of this. I hated this version of this song, I hated the choreography, and I hated that it was a tap routine with, like, barely any taps! It was just awkward silence!

Erica: Her feet look super heavy. She’s acting the hell out of the piece but it is quite obvious that she is not in her style.

Kate: Yeah, and Nigel said this is the first time they ever made someone whose original style isn’t tap do tap, but I feel like that can’t be true, can it?

Erica: I think it might be. For years, if you came in as a tapper, you were only ever going to tap during your solos. Then they had that season with three tappers. But I don’t think they have ever asked a non-tapper to tap, and if they haven’t, then there’s a good reason. It’s not really something you can just do. I believe converting to any dance style from one you specialize in is probably tough, but tap seems to me to be its own category.

 

Genessy & Slavik: Contemporary, choreo by Talia Favia

“An Evening I Will Not Forget” by Dermot Kennedy

Erica: Slavik is going to get votes for being the only straight dude here, isn’t he?

Kate: He doesn’t do much for me.

Erica: I think we are both too old for him. So I liked this choreo. It’s your usual emotional contemporary flailing, but it was good. Not gonna change the world of dance, but good.

Kate: Agree.

Erica: I thought they looked a little more genuinely flail-y, and not controlled-contemporary flail-y, but I think that either their amateur movements worked for the piece, or they were actually quite brilliantly performing imperfection. Nigel is totally giving them a spiel designed to make voters think they’re the underdogs and therefore vote with alacrity.

 

Magda & Darius: Cha-Cha, choreo by Val Chmerkovskiy

“I Like It Like That” by Pete Rodriguez

Erica: Even after fourteen seasons of watching this show (I missed the first one), I don’t feel qualified to talk about the technical aspects of their performance, but I thought the attitude on both of their parts was good. I could have used more sexiness. Nigel felt it was the right amount of controlled sexiness, so maybe I’m just less prudish than Nigel.

Kate: This was much better ballroom than the first one, but I felt like too much separate ballroom rather than partner ballroom, if that makes sense; but that’s the fault of the choreographer. Is he new?

Erica: No. I only know that because I searched our recaps to see how to spell his name. So, I’m pro-Jay Jay. I’m anti-Cole. I have yet to develop a strong feeling about the girls but so far Chelsea might be my favorite, despite the poor tap performance. Genessy is pretty good, too. Thoughts?

Kate: Agree about Chelsea. Let’s see what happens!

 

Sadie is Even More Adorable than All That

Of course as soon as I posted, I thought of a few more things and she did a few more things and now I’ve got to get them down.

1. We’re doing a thing where we sign and say “I love you” together. One of us usually initiates it but sometimes she does, and she makes the cutest little “love” gesture and has even started saying the word “love,” and then is extremely exuberant about the “you,” stabbing her finger at you like she’s fencing and drawing out the word “you” like a victory cry.

2. We went to the UPS store and she kept getting upset at the door. It took me a while but I finally realized that she was upset that people kept leaving without properly interacting with her or saying goodbye. She was very pleased when one man did.

3. A few months ago, we took the girls to a Chicago Wolves (minor league hockey) game. I don’t think anyone in the whole arena was having as good a time as Sadie. The crowd, the music, the excitement, the popcorn – it was all exactly her wheelhouse. Plus the family behind us was quite enchanted with her and interacted with her a lot, even letting her play with their foam hockey puck. She even seemed invested in the game.

4. She also went wild when we took her to mini-golf a couple of weeks ago. Balls, first of all, are wildly exciting to her. Watching all the action was greatly engaging. She loved swinging her club around. I did have to take her down to the practice green because Dad, Jason, Zoe, and Otis couldn’t really play with her running around the green and getting in the way of their balls and clubs. She loved the practice green. Then when we rejoined them, she was wildly enthusiastic about every aspect of the game and the grounds. I mean, “wildly enthusiastic” is sort of her default setting, but this was especially exciting for her.

5. She also loves performances of any kind, to the point where she needs to be taken out of them. At Zoe’s 4th grade Shabbat service, she kept running in front of the bimah and shouting “Ta-da!” at the congregation. At Zoe’s recent school play, Sadie expressed her amazement and excitement for all of the goings-on that I had to take her in the hall, because parents were glaring at me. She gets so dramatic, holding her hands to her face Kevin Arnold-style, with great big gasps, and then pointing and shouting, like, “Can you believe it, Mama?! There are people! On that stage! They sing and talk and dance! Oh my goodness I’ve never seen anything like it!!!”

6. We went to Target on Mother’s Day because what is a day without Target? (We also went to Stephanie Izard’s Little Goat Diner and I had a beer shake, which you would think would be too weird but it was very tasty.) Sadie went wild for the big rubber balls. Our whole trip ended up revolving around which rubber ball she wanted (orange), and walking the ball through through the aisles shouting “Ball! Ball! Mama! Ball!” She got it home and displayed similar enthusiasm, although she mainly likes carrying it, as opposed to bouncing or throwing or catching it.

7. A few months ago, we took her to the Shedd Aquarium. For those of you who are not Chicagoans, I must tell you, I am not normally wild for aquariums. I mean, sure, they’re fine and pretty and whatever. But they’re usually fish swimming around in a tank. But this aquarium is mega-cool. And they have belugas, which is basically enough for me. And a lot of the displays have things that are at Sadie eye-level. Boy, did Sadie love that. Absolute and total astonishment at all of the fish. And then she liked splashing in the touch-the-plastic-starfish section, but she did not like her hand being all wet, so she kept sticking her hand in, and then wiping it on my scarf. It was, as you might imagine, adorable.

8. Have I mentioned how much she loves our friend Otis? She loves our friend Otis so much. Any time Otis is around, Sadie wants to play with him. She laughs and smiles and smacks his face and has the absolute best time with him.

Okay, I think that’s it. For now. She’s a pile of adorable and it’s hard to keep up.

In Other News, Sadie is Adorable

I used to do a lot of this for Zoe (my now nine-year-old, for those of you who don’t know me, which I think is some of you now?), making blog posts of all the ridiculously cute things she did. I haven’t done it for Sadie yet (my one-and-a-half-year-old), because I usually post that stuff to Facebook, but I thought I’d do it here, too, for posterity’s sake.

So what is the adorable little smish up to?

1. A lot of this second-time-around parenting – especially given the age gap – is remembering where and what Zoe was doing around this age, and comparing. So Sadie has fewer words than Zoe did at this age, which I’m assuming is fine. She certainly has a lot of ways of expressing herself and getting her message across, and she seems to understand things we say to her just fine. So what words does she have? Well, her first was “hi,” followed by “hey” and “hello!” Which is really not surprising given her general personality. She is a very social baby. And she has since added “ba-bye!” She also says “no” (and nods her head for yes), various body parts like “head,” “hair,” “ear,” “eye,” “nose,” and “toes.” She can also identify her cheeks, her chin, and her shoulders. She kind of gets her belly, her butt, and her vulva mixed up. But she loves the Belly Button song! She has a lot of prepositions, like “on,” “down,” and “out.” She says “this” and “that”. She identifies dogs with “Woof!” She says “wait, wait,” with her little hand up. “Whee” is the swing. And she makes the little hand gesture and says “C’mere.” She’s got “Mama”, “Dada”, Zoe thinks she’s hearing an “Oh-ee,” and she has said “Ah Kay” for Aunt Kate. Generally speaking, “Mama” is not necessarily me, but “person whose attention I’m trying to get.” She’s also got “more” and something that sounds sort of like “water” which applies to any drink. And Zoe taught her to say “art” when they’re coloring on the easel. We’ve heard “door,” “house,” “doll,” “ball,” and maybe even “baby”. There’s “yay” and “ta-da”, although she hasn’t used those much in a while, preferring to express those sentiments with clapping and general one-syllable, emphatic exclamations. Oh, and of course there’s “mine.” “Mine” is a very important concept.

2. Sadie and Zoe have their little routines together. One is where Zoe goes, “Are you giving me attitude?” and Sadie shakes her hips and goes “Ti-tu!” and then Zoe goes “That’s hi-LAR-ious!” with her hands going above her head and then down, and Sadie goes, “Hi-LAAAR” with the same hand gesture as her sister. And this morning they were doing a thing where they were both going, “Di-doo” over and over again while stomping and shaking their hips. Then they had to do their usual Zoe-going-to-school routine, in which they have to give each other kisses with the door open, then through the screen door, then say “Ba-bye!”, then kiss each other a few more times, either through the glass or with the door open, and then even when I have to command Zoe to get a move on because the bus will be here, Sadie likes to stay by the door waving “ba-bye!” a few more times.

3. She and our cleaning ladies are having an enormous love affair. Sadie gets so excited when they come over, and they just about lose their minds over her. Then they give Sadie cleaning clothes and Swiffer dusters – she knows; if they don’t give them to her right away, or they forget to spray her cleaning cloths, she will remind them – and she cleans alongside them. This week, the lead lady, Erica, was also sort of kissing/tickling her shoulder, and she kept giggling and shrugging away but then, if Erica stopped, she’d point to her shoulder and make a sound to indicate that Erica should keep going.

4. She likes going into the dark upstairs bathroom and then popping out and saying “Hello!”

5. She likes popping out of anywhere and saying “Hello!”

6. She also loves clapping. Clapping goes with any good thing and she will look at you and nod as if to say, “You clap, too.”

7. Her favorite thing to do is those little Mommy & Me classes. We go to our library’s story time, and up until last week we were doing a jBaby Tots & Tunes Shabbat program. She loves the songs, she loves the activities, and she LOOOOOOOVES the dancing. Her moves – especially her extreme hip shakes – get admiration from the crowd. Who can all see her, because in any group, she moves directly to the center of the circle.

8. She’s into books of all kinds. She likes taking grown-up books – one for me, one for her, and “reading” them together.  Her favorite kid’s book to have read to her right now is In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak, which is, as a piece of writing, truly and deeply weird. But it’s kind of fun to say, which was, I think, his point in writing it. And she also likes Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, which I quite enjoy reading out loud, so that’s fun. Her favorite board books have been the Joyce Wan ones, with their adorable illustrations, and I Love You, Stinky Face, which is kind of what Runaway Bunny would be without the creepy factor, and Sandra Boynton’s Blue Hat, Green Hat. 

9. She loves to “get cozy”. She loves to snuggle up on a pillow or some other surface and have someone put a blanket on her. Then she likes to snuggle into that blanket and make this super-smug, pleased face. It’s pretty cute.

10. Have I mentioned her curls and her big blue eyes and her sweet little cheeks and her adorable baby self? Because she’s so cute.

11. She imitates just about anything Zoe does. Today, Zoe was lying on the floor crying because she just had her first truly deep “I’m sad because I finished the book I was reading” moment (such a special moment!) so Sadie lay next to her and cried, too. Then I stood up so Sadie indicated that I should get on the floor with them (“Down! C’mere! Down!” While patting the floor beside her.) So we all cried on the floor until we were laughing.

12. She has friends all over the place. The people who work at The Fresh Market by our house. The waitstaff at our local Egg Harbor Cafe. She was beloved by our Chicago Sinai family and she’s already making herself a part of the Or Shalom family.

13. She likes fist bumps as a method of making friends. But if she gives one fist bump, she must give many fist bumps. Everyone in the immediate vicinity must give a fist bump.

14. She also loves to “cheers” with drinks. Which is adorable until she’s doing so vigorously with the nice wine glasses and the purple grape juice over your cousin’s white tablecloth at your family’s Passover seder. Then it’s nerve-wracking. But also cute.

15. Sometimes she holds my face and mashes her nose against my nose and gives me the sweetest kisses.

16. She likes for people to sit down next to her, say, on the staircase, and then lean back and relax. Or lie down with her on the floor, then go to sleep, then pop heads up together like we’re startled, then lay back down. She also likes to pretend to drink or eat (or actually drink or eat) and then say, “Ah!” with a big grin.

17. She likes making her stuffed animals and toys eat.

18. She’s actually a pretty good eater and even likes broccoli.

19. She had a thing for a while about hugging the newel posts in the stairwell on her way downstairs every morning. It seems gone now but it was cute while it lasted.

20. I particularly love it when she sits on my lap and places my arms around hers. That’s my favorite.

21. She got a Moana beach towel, which she picked out at Target (Well, she wanted any number of Moana things, but I figured we could use another towel.). When we brought it home, she insisted on us draping it around her like a cloak. She indicated that she wanted this by pointing to her shoulders and saying, “On!”

That’s all I’ve got for now – not because it’s all there is, because she is full-time cuteness – but because I am tired. See y’all later.

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing,” Episode 1.22, “What Kind of Day Has It Been”

I’m a little blocked so I’m writing this instead. Hope you all enjoy.

Remember that a) I f-ing love this show, and b) that won’t stop me from criticizing it. 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, I forgot that India and Pakistan WERE NOT actually on the verge of a nuclear war when I woke up after watching that episode; CJ wasn’t properly prepped because Toby doesn’t trust her enough; death threats regarding First Daughter Zoe’s relationship with President’s Body Man (and black guy) Charlie are worrying the president and the Secret Service.

Shit, you guys, it’s this one.

We’re in Rosslyn, VA and Jed is giving a live Town Hall Meeting at the Newseum, which I would very much like to visit some day. He makes a joke about lying politicians, on the way to making a point about apathetic young voters. Hey, there’s something that’s less true now than it was then! Go, Progress!

While he talks, we see Gina, Zoe’s Secret Service person, worrying, and then we’re in the press room and Josh is shouting about something. Then we’re back on stage and Jed wants to know if he can take his jacket off without making anyone think it’s a statement. They can. In the control room, Bonnie asks Sam where Toby is, because he’s got a call, but Sam decides to take it. A beat later, Sam calls to Toby across a balustrade and makes a hand gesture at him. Toby then makes that same gesture to Josh, who is in the atrium below Toby, and Josh turns to make it to Leo, who is a few feet away from him. I have a hard time describing physical spaces so I know I’m not doing well here, but be assured, it’s a cute and well-shot sequence. Leo thought the gesture was the signal for “the other thing” but according to Josh, it is now the signal for “this thing.” Leo confirms that they are “totally out of the woods,” and Josh encourages him to go tell the president. So something good happened, this much we know.

In some other control center/press room thing, CJ distributes something to a bunch of reporters and then smacks Danny up the backside of the head and calls him out of the room. CJ is giving information to Danny before anyone else as a peace offering. “Call your science editor,” she says. “It’s about the space shuttle Columbia.” They should have done a better job of including her in the hand gestures so we knew that this was related to that. It’s a small thing, but I’m giving it an 11 anyway.

Back in the speech, Jed is quoting a poll from Third Millenium saying that a large proportion of people my age believe the soap opera General Hospital will outlast Medicare. Well, that’s possible.

Outside, the guy in charge of the Secret Service people tells Gina that the president isn’t going to work the rope line because there’s a softball game on TV that the president wants to watch. Gina is incredulous about all of the things contained in this statement – that the president will avoid the rope line, that there is softball on TV, that the president watches it – but also seems concerned about the crowd gathered outside the Newseum.

Back inside, Charlie is excited that the president used the information he contributed – presumably that bit about General Hospital. He tells Josh that Josh was right (a thing Josh never needs to be told) – “It doesn’t go away.” Aw, Charlie. You may or may not remember that in the episode in which Charlie was introduced, he gets a little awestruck about standing in the Oval Office, and Josh assures him that that feeling doesn’t go away. Okay, my cold, cynical heart is melting a little.

The speech is over and everyone is cheering. Charlie and Josh go to get the president, while outside, Gina tells someone else that Jed is not working the rope line, and that she’s got “Bookbag,” Zoe’s code name, which is adorable. But Gina is still suspicious of something, and the foreboding music backs her up. Even as Gina walks Zoe out, and Zoe chatters about the speech, Gina’s face and the music aren’t happy. Zoe observes that her father is, after all, working the rope line, because Jed has never met a group of people he doesn’t want to gladhand. Gina and the music don’t like it. Gina says to her headset that she saw something. Zoe remains unfazed, but Gina saw something. And then Zoe notices and Gina spins around just as the foreboding music smashes into the opening credits.

Damn. Look, I don’t love the misogyny, but Sorkin can write a teleplay like no one’s business.

After the break, we’re twelve hours earlier, a storytelling technique I’m quite fond of. We’re in the Sit Room with Admiral Fitzwallace and Leo. Fitzwallace hangs up the phone and tells Leo that a Nighthawk – an F1-17 – didn’t come back to an airbase in Kuwait from a patrol in Iraq. Leo will bring in the president in ten minutes.

In that outdoor hallway that someone told me the name of this week but I still can’t remember, Jed is happily anticipating that if the event tonight is over early enough, he can get back in time to watch the girls’ softball game and then surmising that Charlie is mocking his desire to watch the softball game. Which he is. There’s an extended pedeconference between Charlie and Jed about what men do and cricket and softball and beer. 4 for this whole thing.

Jed finally makes his way to the press room, which they’re using to rehears the town hall. CJ is trying to go over certain stage-manager-type details and Jed mocks her, saying “And when I speak, I should face the audience, right?”, which, 4 and 5, I think. I’m feeling this as a woman and as a former stage manager type. Everyone thinks it’s so stupid to go over basics, then gets flummoxed by the presence of a stool or whatever.

Jed asks Sam why the space shuttle Columbia didn’t land last night, and Sam has no idea. Jed tells Sam to ask Toby. Sam asks why Toby would know, and Jed reveals that Toby’s brother was on the space shuttle, working with red-bellied Japanese newts. “Know what they call them, CJ?” Jed asks. “Astro-newts,” she replies, without a hitch. It’s a very cute moment.

Jed takes the dais, still mocking CJ for her stage managing. Another 5.

In the Toby area, Toby is talking through a bit of prep work or something regarding China with the assistants. Sam comes in and Toby frets about needing an answer on Cuba. Sam says the kids won’t ask about Cuba but Toby says there will be faculty there. Sam reveals that he did not only not know that Toby’s brother was on the Columbia; he didn’t know Toby had a brother. Sam walks through a few questions about the space shuttle’s schedule, and Toby reacts with hostility. Sam promises to find out what’s going on. Toby says “Thank you” in a tone that implies no gratitude whatsoever, and also wants an answer on Cuba.

We cut to the Josh area, where Josh is unhappy to learn that the only meeting Donna could get for him with the VP is one involving jogging. See, Hoynes wants to go pedeconferencing but a little faster. Donna reminds him that he’s supposed to be in town hall prep ten minutes ago. Josh wants to know what happened to his chair. Donna seems reluctant to talk about it but reveals that it’s in the shop because one of the wheels was wobbly. Well, not a shop. Her friend Curtis. 4 for this nonsense.

In the press room, Mandy is heckling the president about health insurance for children, not because she’s being feisty, but because it’s her job. The president repeats a phrase from her question, which Josh tells him not to do. The president gives a better answer and then asks for permission to blame Congress, which Josh and the laughing assembly agree to. Leo comes in. He needs the president in the Sit Room. I guess the ten minutes are up.

The president must have been briefed by Leo on the way in, because the first thing he does in the Sit Room is ask Admiral Fitzwallace if the pilot is alive. Fitz and some other dude say a bunch of words I don’t understand but the president is there to sum up for me – the pilot is probably alive but in the middle of hostile desert, ten miles from anyone, and “anyone” is the enemy. Does Fitz have a rescue scenario? He sure does. A whole bunch more words and letters and numbers spill out that I don’t understand, but that’s okay. Rescue is on its way! Except some other dude – not in uniform; in a suit – thinks they should check with the embassy before sending in a rescue team. Leo thinks this is stupid and tells the suited dude so. The president wants to know the pilot’s name and personal details. He says there’s a bounty on American soldiers in Iraq and that if we have to call this kid’s parents, we’re invading Baghdad. “Get him back,” he orders.

CJ comes in to Leo’s office, where Leo spills out the pilot story the minute she glides in. Can’t ask her to take a seat first? She rolls with it, asking if the pilot is alive. Leo tells CJ and reminds us that he is; he’s just in a desert surrounded by the Iraqi Republican Guard. CJ briefs Leo on what there’s going to be on television about this if the Iraqi Republican Guard have footage of themselves shooting down an F-117 (?). Leo asks if CJ understands what he’s asking her and reminds her of a problem a few months ago with India and Pakistan and them not telling her shit, therefore making it harder to do her job. Only Leo says it like it was her fault. 5. CJ also points this out and Leo non-apologizes.

Josh comes in to ask Leo about the F-117. Josh points out that it’s a stealth fighter and they should probably talk at some point about how the Iraqi Republican Guard took down a stealth fighter. Excuse my stupidity, but stealth fighters can only make themselves invisible to radar and other detecting machines, right? Not to the human eye? Okay, cool. Anyway, Josh tells Leo he and Hoynes are jogging. Leo reminds Josh to tell Hoynes why “it” is” bad for Hoynes, not bad for them. We don’t know what “it” is yet. Josh is not worried, but Leo is, instructing Josh to come see him after the meeting.

In the hall, Toby finds Josh and also worries about why the stealth fighter wasn’t so stealthy. Guys. Could the Iraq Republican Guard not … look up?

Josh splits off and Toby finds Sam in his office. Sam informs Toby that one of the payload bay doors on Toby’s brother’s rocket ship wouldn’t close. Toby greets this news with hostility, and Sam illustrates what he’s learned from his research on Toby’s brother, such as, a) he’s a doctor, b) this is his fourth trip into space, and c) Toby has a brother. Sam reassures Toby that this is all going to be fine, per NASA dude Peter Jobson, and Toby continues to appear not to give a shit, telling Sam they’ve got to move prep to the Roosevelt Room. Sam responds by saying they’re still looking for an answer on Cuba, and on teachers. As Sam leaves the room, Toby asks him to keep in touch with Peter Jobson and keep Toby informed.

Jogging with Hoynes and his Secret Service detail. This appears to be about campaign finance, and they’ve been noticing that Hoynes is playing a lot of racquetball with members of the party opposed to same. Also Josh is noticing he’s not in good enough shape to jog with Hoynes. Then Josh goes on about the president’s numbers rising, and it’s all going fine until he says something about bringing the pilot home alive being worth another ten points. Oof. Josh. That’s not good. He does cap off his little out-of-breath speechifying by saying, “You’ve had some experience battling Jed Bartlet when he’s right, and you’ve had some experience battling Jed Bartlet when he’s popular. Why in the world would you want to trywhen he’s both?”

Hoynes says he wonders, if he listened to Josh two years ago, would he be president right now? Josh says he doesn’t wonder it, he knows that Hoynes would be. Then he staggers off, unable to run with Hoynes anymore.

CJ is at her press briefing with some military brass. She fills the press in on the F-117. Leo watches her handle the briefing with her usual fucking aplomb, Leo, because she’s good at her fucking job. 5. Because I’m pissed.

Misogyny Points Thus Far: 8

In the Roosevelt Room, Mandy is giving some instruction to the president, and the president is using this opportunity to make some more fun of CJ for her stage-management concerns. 5. Then the team devolves into the debate about his jacket that we heard referenced in the cold open.

Zoey comes in and the president is eager to speak to her, although not about the jacket. Zoey is concerned about her father’s medical condition, and he is dismissive, because stupid girls and their stupid girl things. 4. Jed wants Zoey to come tonight, and she doesn’t want to because it’ll be embarrassing, but he insists. Zoey tells him Charlie had something he wanted to say during prep, then confirms that she’ll be there that night.

The president dismisses everyone in the Roosevelt Room, then asks Charlie about Zoey’s thing. Charlie denies all. Sam stops the president to suggest that they have a signal, in case good news about the pilot comes through while the president is on live TV. Sam makes the sign we saw him make to Toby in the cold open. The president mocks him so subtly, Sam misses it. I’m going to go ahead and give this a -5, since a male underling is being mocked.

Josh goes to Leo’s office, where Leo has just gotten off the phone with Hoynes. Josh did well; Hoynes is going to do what they wanted him to do with the FEC guys. But did Josh really say that they’d get a ten-point bump for getting the pilot out alive? Yes, Josh did say that. Boy, would the president have been pissed if he found out about that. Because does Josh not understand that this is srsbsns and not just a political thing. And actually, Leo is pretty pissed, because Leo flew planes. I’m giving this a 7. If Donna or CJ ever screwed up this way, it’d be a catastrophe. In fact, part of this episode revolves around the time CJ “screwed up” because it was her fault somehow that the men she works for don’t trust her to do her job.

Josh apologizes, Leo accepts, and Josh leans in for a hug, which Leo was in no way inviting. It’s pretty funny. (Also, John Spencer must be pretty short, because Bradley Whitford is not a tall man, and he’s, like, towering over Spencer.)

Josh turns to go, but Leo asks him about the signal. Josh shows him, and Leo thinks it looks terrible, like a hip-hop gesture. Racist? Maybe. Anyway, they quibble about the gesture, and I guess there’s some generational thing going on, because Sam and Josh are into the gesture, and Toby, who I think is a little older than them, is pretending not to be, and Leo and Jed are dismissive. I don’t know what that’s about.

Josh apologizes again and Leo thanks him. BTW, if anyone is looking for my life-coaching advice, I’ve heard that “Thank you” is a better response to “I’m sorry” than “That’s okay.” “That’s okay” implies that, well, what the other person did was okay. That you are willing to accept that same behavior in the future. Whereas “Thank you” is a gracious acknowledgement of the apology without allowing the apologizer to believe nothing was wrong in the first place.

In a hallway, Charlie is mad that Zoe told her father that Charlie has something to say. Charlie doesn’t believe it’s his place to take part in policy discussions. Zoe thinks he’s being a chicken. There’s a cute little sitcom-y set-up where Charlie says he works in a building with the smartest people in the world just as Josh, whose office they’re using, comes in and falls to the floor because he tries to sit in a chair that isn’t there.

Sam knocks on Toby’s door. Toby immediately asks what he knows, and Sam says there was a screw-up with the door, and now there’s a problem with the engines. Toby appears to know more than he has let on so far about what the back-up plans are for when a shuttle malfunctions. Sam assures Toby that if it were a big deal, they’d have called the president. Toby reveals that he had been embarrassed when Sam first asked about this, because Toby had forgotten his brother was up there. He’d lost track of the schedule. Sam’s assistant Cathy comes in to tell Toby that Peter Jobson is on the phone for him.

After what would have presumably been a commercial break. Jed is asleep on a couch in the Oval when Charlie comes in to tell him that Admiral Fitzwallace is on his way. Jed takes the opportunity to press Charlie about what Zoe had been saying before. Charlie reluctantly brings up a report that had been sitting on Jed’s desk about youth participation in voting. Mrs. Landingham interrupts to announce Admiral Fitzwallace, so Jed tells Charlie to put the report in his suitcase.

Fitzwallace says they’ll be calling in a minute, and asks if Jed is feeling okay, as Zoe did before. The weird thing is, I don’t remember Jed’s health being relevant this episode. Anyway, Fitzwallace starts talking about the eagle seal on the carpet in the Oval Office. Sometimes the eagle is facing the olive branch, but when Congress declares war, it faces the arrows. How do they do that? Fitzwallace is dying to know. Me, not so much. Jed, neither. Fortunately the call comes through.

The pilot is safe! Hooray! Nothing more than a sprained ankle! Jed promises to get an answer on the carpet in gratitude. He then gets on the phone with the pilot, and asks for his parents’ phone number, because “I never get to make this call.” Aw, Jed.

CJ is reporting the good news to the press and promises to answer more questions when they get out of the town hall over at Arlington. She talks about buses and it strikes me that part of the press secretary’s job is camp counselor for the reporters. I would watch a show about White House reporters and their camp counselor/nemesis press secretary, wouldn’t you?

CJ quibbles with Carol about spelling which I guess counts as the Buechele test passed. -10. That’s good, because I couldn’t figure out if Gina and Zoe’s conversation in the cold open counted. Zoe was talking about her boyfriend (no) and her father (maybe?) and Gina wasn’t really talking to her at all.

Danny bellows at CJ and CJ orders him loudly into her office. Danny is pissed that CJ told him in an earlier press briefing that they were trying diplomatic solutions. CJ points out that she can’t really tell the press about super-secret rescue plans as they are underway. But Danny is pissed that she called on him for the question she knew she was going to lie about. Like, all of them were going to ask the same question, so why did she call on him? I gotta say, this is interesting inside baseball, and also sounds petty as shit to an outsider. Danny shouts that he’s covered the White House for “the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time Magazine, and the Dallas Morning News,” and CJ teases him that it was very hot the way he said that just then, but that she doesn’t know “why you decided to be your most haughty on the Dallas Morning News,” and it’s cute. Carol reminds them that the buses are leaving for Arlington now.

Leo is side-eyeing Jed’s desire to watch women’s softball 4 and even Mrs. Landingham is dismissive 4 although I suspect for her it’s more the “sports” than the “girl sports”. It’s time to go, though, Mrs. Landingham reminds the president. Before getting there, though, Jed has to stop by and talk to Toby, who is worried about his brother and therefore also not getting in the car yet. Jed just spoke to someone about Toby’s brother’s shuttle, and reassures Toby that there’s lots of things to try and it’ll all probably be fine. Toby is worried, though. Because Toby is Toby and I love him. Jed also implies that part of the problem is that Toby and his brother are not on good terms. Toby is appreciative of the president’s comfort and understanding, but he’s still worried. “The shuttle flies itself, Toby,” Jed says. “No, it doesn’t, Mr. President,” Toby replies. Jed agrees. “No, it doesn’t.” I love Toby. The shuttle does not fly itself and it’s not a comfort to pretend it does.

And now we’re at the Newseum and back where we started. We see some of the same stuff. The joke about lying politicians, the jacket, CJ smacking Danny, Toby’s phone call. The signal that means his brother’s home safe. But we see more of Toby’s relieved face.

Then Gina and the other Secret Service dude and the exchange about softball, same as before, only this time we go in close on a kid in the crowd straight out of White Nationalist Central Casting. We see him listen to Gina, then look up at a window in an office building nearby, which is lit up red, and someone’s inside.

Jed is closing his speech by thanking whoever called him a socialist and reminding everyone that his ancestor signed the Declaration of the Independence. I can now no longer hear the opening lines of the Declaration without rapping them in my head and promising to tell Thomas Jefferson to “include women in the sequel – WORK!”

The music is getting ominous. That teenager looks threatening. Someone is locking and loading up in that office building. “Straight to the car,” Gina tells her walkie.

Charlie is still pretending to be mad at Zoe but Zoe sees through him. Jed uses the hand gesture for Toby and Toby laughs and smiles, which is so delightful because it is so rare. More gun stuff, more scary teen. Jed walking out, as viewed from the teenager’s POV and then the guys in the office. Rope line. Gina. Ominousness. Gina spotting the teen. The teen walking away, Gina sees the shooter and shouts “Gun!” Just as the people in the window start shooting.

All is chaos. We see several of our key people being pushed to the ground but it’s hard to tell what’s going on. The screen goes black as we hear Secret Service agents shout, “We’ve got people down. Who’s been hit? Who’se been hit?”

Oh, my God, you guys, who’s been hit? How do we talk about silly things like sexism now?

Well, needs must.

Total Misogyny Points: 11  A respectable episode. And a really, really good one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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