Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin, “The West Wing”, 1.07, “The State Dinner”

Dudes, these titles are getting a little unwieldy. Not of the episodes, of my posts. Would it confuse anyone if I went with something shorter and simpler?

Just a reminder, here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Physical comedy is used to undercut a female character’s competence.
  2. A female character’s sexual appeal or sexual/romantic relationship 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 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.


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

So, previously on “The West Wing”, Josh obnoxiously asked Mandy to work for “the leader of the free world” and Mandy feistily punched him and I wondered if I could drop a number for a thing that happened in a previous episode and then decided it’s my f-ing blog so why not 3; CJ gave Danny a lead on something because he’s a good guy; Leo insisted that his marriage was not over and his daughter laid some truth on him; Sam was obnoxious to his prostitute friend who “doesn’t plan on getting busted”. 12 because we didn’t have a number for this before and also we’ve found our Chekhov’s pager!

Currently on “The West Wing,” C.J. is in a room, like, behind the press room? With machinery? She’s looking at something I think may be photography-related while a bunch of lady reporters ask annoying lady questions about what the First Lady and also the guest First Lady will be wearing. C.J. is sort of keeping it together but clearly has an “Ugh, fashion” attitude. I’m giving this a 4 because it doesn’t have to be a male character disparaging femininity; it just has to be the show. C.J. even throws shade at the FASHION REPORTERS for not asking about the NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY. Which, a) THEY’RE FASHION REPORTERS, C.J., and b) isn’t even mentioned for the rest of the episode. I thought at first that the state dinner had something to do with the nuclear test ban treaty but on further viewing, it doesn’t, so wtf, CJ? Another 4 for you.

Josh follows C.J. out of the room-behind-the-press-room. C.J. continues to rant about how with her 22 years of education (which is K-12 plus four years of college plus five years of grad school, right? So I’ve only had one year less of education than she has? And most of the annoying lady journalists must have had K-12 and most likely four years of college and also a lot of them probably have been to grad school, right? Yeah. Okay.) she has to answer stupid LADY questions about stupid LADY things like fashion and wine. 4. Although it is sort of amusing when she’s all, “And Mirabella wants to know what kind of wine we’re serving, God,” and Josh is like, “What kind of wine are we-” and C.J. snaps, “It’s wine, Josh. You drink it.”

Josh moves on to what he actually wanted to talk about, which is a hurricane headed toward Georgia and the Carolinas and likely to make landfall that night.

Sam tags in to announce that the teamsters have voted to strike and Leo is putting them in a room to hash things out. They have until midnight. (I don’t think he mentions which “team” the teamsters are on here, so I’ll just tell you – it’s the trucking union. I mean, other unions are referred to as “teamsters”, right?)

Toby joins the conga line. There’s a situation in McClane, ID, where somewhere between eighteen and forty survivalists and their children are in a farm surrounded by local law enforcement. The FBI is going in, treating this like a hostage situation. I guess the children are the ones who count as hostages. This is all supposed to remind adult watchers in 1999 of Waco, TX. I’m sure I should understand it in that light in better detail, but I was a kid when Waco happened.

C.J. sums up our subplots thusly: “Let see if I have this: A hurricane has picked up speed and power and is heading for Georgia. Management and labor are coming here to work out a settlement to avoid a crippling strike that will begin at midnight tonight. And the government’s planning a siege on 18-40 of its citizens all while we host a state dinner for the president of Indonesia.” The boys all nod and agree vigorously. “Amazingly, you know what I’ll get asked most often?” she continues. And of course one of those irritating lady journalists pops her head in and says, “C.J.?” And C.J. already knows what she’s going to ask and repeats her description of the first lady’s shoes from earlier. “Black suede and velvet Manolo Blahnik slides with a rhinestone and mother-of-pearl toe buckle.” Then she looks at the boys like, “Women, amIrite?” 4. But thanks for the recap, C.J.!

And, not for nothing, but . . . black suede AND velvet? Suede for evening? Rhinestone AND mother-of-pearl toe buckle? Do these not sound like unrealistically hideous shoes? I mean, I’m no expert and maybe the image in my head TOTALLY does not match the actual shoe, but . . . no?


Misogyny Points Thus Far: 6. We’re in for a good episode!

Josh is in his very messy office with stacks and stacks of stuff practically obscuring his face. He’s talking to someone on the phone about the hurricane. He hangs up and calls for “Donnatella Moss!” He doesn’t want to talk to her about the hurricane, though. He wants her to find out if a specific Indonesian official speaks English, and, if not, get a translator from State so that he, Toby, and the Indonesian official can have a pow-wow later.

Donna wants to talk to Josh about a problem she has with “this whole Indonesia thing.” See, she’s been doing some reading on her own, and –

“I wish you wouldn’t do that,” Josh says.


No, wait, Robert Downey, Jr. It gets worse.

“Why?” Donna whines.

“Because you tend to cull some bizarre factoid from a less than reputable source and then you blow it all out of proportion.”


I know, right, Karen?

5. And 4. What the hell, let’s throw in an 8. Because for real, Josh? For real, Aaron Sorkin?

And of course Donna only proves the point by insisting that she does not do that, and then insists that in some parts of Indonesia, she’s read, they execute you if they suspect you of being a sorcerer. Ugh. Another 8 just for how dip-shitty they had her sound here.

MPTF: 10

Anyway, Josh does not care and goes into Leo’s office, or maybe his, I don’t know, parlor? The staff is gathering. And the scene that follows is actually one of the ones I want to praise Aaron Sorkin for. It’s not a spectacular scene; it’s a working kind of scene that lets us get updated on all the plot points and also advance one minor thing. All of the people in the room talk so that the exposition feels natural and it’s even funny at points, like when they’re talking about the truckers in the Roosevelt Room and Josh says C.J.’s going to need to know what they’re wearing.

So, anyway, the following things happen:

The hurricane is getting worse.

The truckers and management are in a fight over the two-tiered system, in which some workers are considered full-time, with the pay and benefits of full-timers, and others are considered part-time, even though they work the same number of hours, and they get lower pay and no benefits. On the one hand, that seems unfair. On the other, Toby and Josh claim, the younger workforce is interested in flexibility and not willing to make long-term commitments to their companies, so why should those companies offer benefits and higher wages to them? Oh, 1999. A time when the younguns wanted flexible jobs so they could explore themselves and shit. Instead of just wanting jobs that pay them money. We miss you, you simpler, more economically stable times.

Sam wants to be in charge of the McClane thing but Leo wants him working with Toby on the toast because State is going to be very picky about what they can and cannot say.

Josh says he’ll assign it to someone in his department and Mandy says she wants to do it. Josh does not want Mandy to do it because she is a political consultant and this is “an actual, you know, thing.” Mandy and Josh bicker and whine and C.J. makes great faces. Leo decides to let Mandy handle it, but she has to keep Josh in the loop.

I’m giving Josh a and a 5 for his dismissal of Mandy’s abilities to handle this kind of thing, but I do have to ask – I mean, I know that Sorkin had all kinds of actual West Wing former staffers as consultants but – is it realistic that Mandy, who, as best as I can tell, is a freelance consultant and not an employee of the actual federal government, would be given charge of such a sensitive issue? Should she even be in the daily senior staff meeting like this? I don’t know; I’m just asking.

As they lead the meeting, Toby approaches Donna to ask her about the Indonesian dude. He also confirms that they do, in fact, behead sorcerers in some parts of Indonesia. He seems disinterested, though, and Josh fails to apologize for his earlier attitude. 5.

And listen, I don’t know what they do or do not do about sorcerers in Indonesia, now or in 1999. This blog is not about ethnocentrism, or colonialism, or any of that stuff. Because I don’t know enough to be an authority on this issue. I’m sure Sorkin is wrong about something in all of this, but I’m not taking it upon myself to tell you what it is.

Many camera flashes are going off. One cameraman says, “Mr. President,” and C.J. cuts in to say there are no questions at this particular time; they’re keeping things brief. The cameraman says it’s a short question, and the president says C.J.’s not worried about the length of the question, but the length of his answer. True facts, Mr. President. The cameras continue flashing while President Bartlett tries to engage the president of Indonesia in conversation. The president of Indonesia is not at all interested.

Toby goes to Sam to talk about the toast. Sam’s writing a nice, boring, diplomatic speech. Toby wants to toughen it up. He doesn’t want to remind everyone how friendly America is with dictators who “oppress their people while stealing their money.” Sam wants to know how else you could steal their money? Hee.

Sam asks Toby what he’s got going on with Josh. “We’ve got to see a guy about a thing,” Toby says, and no, he doesn’t want help.

Leo goes to the Roosevelt Room where the teamsters are sitting down with management. Leo yells at them for a few minutes and leaves. Well, good, then.

Mandy is waiting for Josh outside his office. She accuses him of not thinking she can do this. She runs down the situation in McClane. The relevant new piece of information here is that the FBI is using the fact that they may have illegal guns with them as a pretext, except that the FBI in fact sold them those guns. Mandy notes that it bugs Josh that the president listens to her sometimes. He says it bugs him when the president listens to anyone who’s not him. Really, Josh? Funny, we haven’t seen you disparage Sam or Toby the way you disparage Mandy. 5.

More cameras flash. Now the two presidents are sitting down and it appears they can take questions. The Indonesian president is no more responsive to the press than he was to President Bartlett.

Danny Concannon is in this group of reporters and asks the president what he knows about the protesters outside the White House. They’re protesting vermeil. C.J. shuts him up by saying they’re covering vermeil at the briefing later and ushers this group of reporters out of the room. Then she and Danny bicker about vermeil for a while, C.J. insisting that she does, in fact, know what vermeil is. Danny calls Carol over to help C.J. with the vermeil story he just made happen. And the Carol and C.J. exchange words! Okay, two lines. But it’s about vermeil! I believe that counts as not-a-man and therefore this episode passes the Bechdel test! -10.

MPTF: 13

Leo steals President Bartlett for a minute. The minute they’re outside the room, the president complains about how boring the Indonesian president is, and how he wishes he were sitting with Toby, C.J. and Sam that night, as that’s the “fun table.” He observes that the only way such boring and/or rude man could win an election is that the U.S. rigs them.

Anyway, Leo just wanted to tell him they’ve ordered a carrier group out of Norfolk to move out of the way of the hurricane. So that should end well.

Toby and Sam are writing together, Toby on a legal pad and Sam on his laptop. Toby hands his legal pad to Sam and Sam does not think they should invite people to dinner and then chastise them. Toby thinks that if you don’t, it’s just a waste of food.

C.J. is now talking to the press about vermeil, which is gilded silver, and which was produced in France under atrocious conditions and then melted down to pay for Louis XV’s wars. In other words, to some people, it’s a symbol of oppression and government waste. To the White House, it’s a good place to put seasonal floral centerpieces.

Danny follows C.J. out of the press room and C.J. accuses him of “rousing rabbles”. Hee. Apparently this protest is composed of six people. Danny wants to know what C.J. is wearing that night. Not his paper, Danny. C.J. does not smack him, but answers him, “An evening gown of gray silk.” Danny says he’ll be looking forward to it.

Yeah, I’m throwing up a 2 here. You can argue with me if you like in the comments.

Sam and his prostitute friend Laurie are at a diner. Laurie is trying to study. Sam is yapping to her. He is also trying to Bogart her sandwich. He insists that in this kind of place, the food is communal. Sam, you’re thinking of Chinese food. Or family-style Italian. Sandwiches are never communal unless you explicitly state that one of you will have one half and the other will have the other half. Laurie is inexplicably charmed that Sam is not afraid of being seen with her in public. 6. Sam wants to know if she has a date that night and she says yes but doesn’t want to talk more about it. She wants to study. Sam throws the answers to her study questions at her and she thanks him sarcastically for his “nerd bravado” while insisting that, whether or not this test is relevant to the practice of law, it is in fact relevant to the passing of law school. I gotta give Lisa Edelstein credit, by the way. I hate a lot about what they do with this character but I like her a lot and she plays this role very well. I do have to ask, though, if you need to be studying, why are you out having lunch with Sam? He’s even stealing your food.

Some dudes are telling the president how militias are an inherent threat. Mandy asks permission to join the discussion. She lectures the men about how kooks and extremists are the byproduct of a free country, much like porn is the byproduct of free speech. Josh points out that guns are different from Hustler. The unnamed men – who I guess are with the FBI – quibble with her about the difference between entrapment and a sting, and Mandy brings up that her concern is the court of public opinion. Josh says there’s no way this will end good, so it’s best to end it fast. Mandy wants to bring in a negotiator. The president dismisses Josh and Mandy, and they go outside to debate the nature of democracy. Well, Mandy talks theoretical abstract bullshit about democracy. Josh is on the side of, “When the FBI says come out with your hands up, you come out with your hands up,” and you can avail yourself of your free country’s judicial system at that point. I hate to say it, but I agree with Josh here. On a theoretical level, in fact, as well as a practical one. An ordered state requires that everyone buy into the state’s authority, as well as requiring that the state not abuse that authority. I agree that we have plenty of problems with the latter. I’m just saying that doesn’t justify problems with the former.

Anyway, Leo comes out and tells Mandy that the president is sending in a negotiator. Josh nastily says, “Well, you’re in the game now.” 5

Donna is tying Josh’s bow tie and talking about the whole sorcerer-beheading thing some more. I don’t know exactly how to justify this but I’m giving this scene a 4. Charlie comes in to ask Josh a favor – his grandparents are in the path of the hurricane and Charlie can’t reach them. Charlie is clearly embarrassed to be asking this favor but Josh insists he not worry about it. He tells Donna, “Call FEMA, use my name. When that doesn’t work, use Leo’s name.” Hee. Josh promises to find them.

Mandy, in evening wear, approaches Josh. Josh says he looks good, even better than her. I disagree with his assessment. I don’t get the white bow tie thing. Anyway, Mandy is worried that the negotiator hasn’t been in contact yet. Josh has no opinions on this. Nor does he know what’s happening with the hurricane or the teamsters. “What is it you do here, exactly?” Mandy asks. “It’s never really been made clear to me,” Josh responds. Hee.

Their perambulations bring them to Sam. Sam and Josh admire themselves and Mandy asks if they want to be alone.

Yeah, I’m calling it. New number.

13. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Damn, and I just redid my post-it with all these numbers on it, too.

MPTF: 18

Sam wants to know if there’s any personal connection between President Indonesia (they keep saying his name but I can’t catch the spelling) and the US. Josh says that he was once almost pushed out of an airplane by a CIA operative. Sam thinks that’s not going to work and departs just as Toby calls Josh over.

Toby is displeased that the interpreter from the State Department does not speak one of the 583 Indonesian languages that the dude Josh and Toby want to talk to does. Josh shouts for Donna 5 who insists she has it under control. She has a kitchen guy who speaks Portugese and the dialect the Indonesian dude speaks, but not English. But the State Department guy speaks Portugese. And English. Toby wants a drink.

C.J., in gray silk, is greeted by Stockard Channing, our First Lady, who compliments C.J.’s dress except for its lack of cleavage and then introduces her to a single cardiologist. Throwing up a here as well.

C.J. pulls the First Lady away to talk about the vermeil. The First Lady – Abbey – says she’s not embarrassed; they didn’t spend new money on it; and it’s their history. They’re not going to lock it in the basement or brush it with a new coat of paint; they’re going to use it to display seasonal floral arrangements. I gotta say, I like that answer.

C.J. walks away and Abbey greets Leo by comparing him to Fred Astaire. Whom he does kind of resemble. She wants to know where her husband is. He’s on a call. The teamsters are still talking. Abbey commands Leo to mingle.

Mandy is meandering nervously. She leaves the party area to go to the Josh area. Donna can’t get anyone on the phone.

Leo wants Toby, Sam, and Josh to schmooze with a big donor. Whose date is Laurie. Who is Brittany right now. Sam is gobsmacked, visibly. If I were the big donor, I’d assume Sam had used “Brittany’s” services.

Donna finds Charlie. His grandparents are safe at a shelter, but are being sent back home. The hurricane has shifted direction.

Leo passes by Donna saying this to ask C.J. what’s going on. Turns out that carrier group is now in the path of the hurricane. But there’s nothing to be done and Leo doesn’t want to tip the press by having C.J. start to work on this.

Josh is in the dining room on his cell as people come in. Mandy approaches him. She hasn’t heard anything.

But Josh has. It’s over. The survivalists shot the negotiator; the FBI came in and arrested them; the negotiator is in critical condition. Because women suck at doing actual, you know, things. 7. Also, although Mandy was assigned to be point person on this, and has been on the phone all evening, Josh is the one that can get through. 11. Mandy is going to be sick. Because girls, they can’t handle this shit like men can. 4. The presidents are announced as Mandy rushes off to the bathroom to hurl.

MPTF: 22

The president is for some reason surprised that the hurricane changed course without warning. Leo says it’s unusual. Is it? I thought hurricanes did this kind of thing all the time.

President Bartlett and Leo go to talk to a captain, who informs him that this carrier group is 12,000 men. That’s a shit-ton, isn’t it? The worst will hit in 20 minutes. They’re going to set up a call to the carrier group so that the president can talk to them. Leo tells the president the negotiator is being prepped for surgery. The only thing for the president can do is go back to the party.

Meanwhile, Toby is in the kitchen with the two interpreters and the Indonesian dude. Donna watches. It’s all pretty dumb. Josh comes in and the nonsense goes on until it is revealed that the Indonesian dude speaks English. Josh is mad at Donna and dismisses her. 7. Toby dismisses the interpreters. They tell the Indonesian dude they want him to let their French friend out of Indonesian jail. They very obnoxiously explain that they don’t want this to be, like, an official let this guy out of jail; they just want the Indonesian dude to put key to lock and get the guy out. The Indonesian guy correctly notes that this is a favor and that Toby and Josh are hardly displaying the demeanor of persons asking for a favor. Furthermore, the speech Toby wrote was “despicable and humiliating.” He also points out the hypocrisy of lecturing the world on human rights when we killed all the Native Americans. I mean, he’s right, but it’s also kind of a childish and unsophisticated point to make. The Indonesian guy tells them to go to hell.

C.J. is working in her evening gown. Danny comes in and compliments her dress, then asks her about McClane. She’s annoyed. She asks if, when he flirts with her, is he doing it to get a story? No, he’s doing it to flirt with her. Yeah, Danny, you’re all about the boundaries. She points out that he’s the one who says she’s too friendly with the press corps. She sends him off but then asks if he really likes the dress. Ugh. 2.

We’re back with the teamsters. They’re arguing. The president walks in. They all stand. The president demands that they talk for five minutes apiece. While standing.

The donor approaches with Laurie/Brittany. The donor wants a “relationship” with Sam and Sam talks like he’s a prostitute. Then the donor walks off and Laurie, inexplicably, apologizes to him. 6. Sam is pissy with her until Abbey approaches them and asks to be introduced to Laurie. Sam does not know what to do but Laurie handles herself. Abbey wants to know where her husband is and when she’s told he’s with the teamsters, she surmises that he’s there because he can’t save a gunshot victim or divert a hurricane. The first lady then calls Laurie “thoroughly charming” even though Laurie didn’t say anything. -6? Then Abbey leaves and Sam continues to be a whiny baby. He offers her $10,000 not to go home with that guy tonight. She doesn’t smack him; she just leaves. 12.

The president cuts off one of the trucking people and says that none of them know what they’re talking about. At 12:01 am, he says, he’s using his executive power to nationalize the trucking industry and draft the truckers into military service.

The president marches through the halls, and Abbey sees him. She says she shouldn’t have stayed away so long; when she does, the president loses his sense of proportion. They have a very loving interaction as the storm rages behind them, causing the lights to flicker. Jed calls it a “metaphor for powerlessness.”

The two of them depart hand in hand, and Leo finds them and tells the president they could only get a maintenance supply boat, and what’s more, they can’t even get the captain. So Jed, in his office, surrounded by his staff, talks to the kid in the radio shack, who is clearly terrified. As well he should be. He’s going to die.

I can’t recap this scene. I’ve got . . . something in my eye. Shut up. It’s allergy season. The president talks to this kid until he can’t anymore and that’s all you need to know.

And that’s the end of this episode.

It seems ludicrous to write about misogyny points right after 12,000 people died in a hurricane. But that’s my job, right?

Total Misogyny Points: 25

Misogyny & Aaron Sorkin – “The West Wing”, 1.06 “Mr. Willis of Ohio”

So I’m watching my favorite TV series for the purpose of criticizing its tendencies toward misogyny, tendencies that are exacerbated in creator Aaron Sorkin’s later works. Here’s what we’re looking for:

  1. Physical comedy is used to undercut a female character’s competence.
  2. A female character’s sexual appeal or sexual/romantic relationship with a male character is primary.
  3. A female character displays “feistiness”. “Feistiness” is a frequent shorthand in liberal misogyny for “See? She’s strong and independent and we find that adorable! What’s the problem?”
  4. Femininity or feminine concerns are disparaged, by male or female characters.
  5. Any character is rude to his/her female subordinate with no consequences.
  6. A male character is lauded and glorified in an unlikely way by a female character or characters.
  7. A female character screws up at her job.
  8. Anger 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.


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

This particular episode could also be mined for race and class stuff but I’m going to just stick to what I’m good at.

Previously, on “The West Wing,” the president marches along that outdoor walkway thing at the White House, the name of which I should probably learn if I’m going to do these recaps; Leo tells his wife that his work as Chief of Staff is, in fact, more important than their marriage; Sam tells a person he thinks is a random teacher but who is in fact his boss’s daughter that he “accidentally” slept with a prostitute; and Charlie and Zoey (the president’s daughter) flirt adorably.

Currently on “The West Wing,” C.J. deals a hand of poker to staffers in a dimly lit room in the White House. It is presumably evening or even late at night. The players are C.J., Leo, Josh, Toby, the president, Mandy, and Sam. Sam and Toby are smoking cigars. I continue to be wildly attracted to Toby despite said cigar. Everyone calls check except the president, who decides to quiz his staff about which fruit has seeds on the outside. The staff is not best pleased and is highly expressive of their displeasure, because they are very, very secure in their jobs. C.J. guesses the kumquat and Leo, next to her, laughs, and they all grin adorably. I do love the scenes on this show where the staffers are just enjoying each other. More poker-y things happen, including Toby raising the president’s bet. The president responds by informing them that the fruit is the strawberry, which they are all way too impressed with, and then asks for the fourteen punctuation marks in standard English. The table in general guesses the most obvious seven and then Toby finishes off with the last, earning an “Ooh!” from C.J. ! He’s totally getting some tonight. Toby insists that the president focus on poker. The president still does not. Instead, he wants to know which three words in the English language begin with dw-. Josh says this is why they never get anything done. Toby and Sam come up with dwindle and dwarf, and then the president raises his bet and reveals, via something Shakespearean, that the third is dwell. There is more general ribbing and everyone being totally fun together, and then Toby loses the hand to the president and they decide they’re done.

The president tells Leo to kiss Jenny for him, so we know that the president has not been informed of their marital troubles yet. Josh is going to go back to the office, because of course he is, and gets Sam to come with him so that Sam can explain the commerce report to him. So, okay, let’s throw in a -9 for that because Josh just admitted he didn’t know something, but let’s also remember this light, joking moment in which Josh basically orders Sam to do this for him and Sam acquiesces agreeably.

The president tells Charlie – who has been in the outer room this whole time, NOT invited to play poker, a shonda, I tell you – that he’s going back to the residence. Charlie says he’s going to stay and do more paperwork.

Mandy and C.J. converse! -10! They’re talking about poker! Mandy won $84 and C.J. lost money, some of it to Mandy.

Then some suited men come walking in all important-like. The building is not secure. They need to all stay in the Oval Office. Josh notes that this is happening too often and Leo tells us it’s pledge week and frat boys have a habit of hopping the fence. Josh is being somewhat shirty with the Secret Service and everyone gets tense for a minute. Then the president breaks the ice by starting a new trivia question. By the time Toby and the president are done razzing each other about it, one of the agents gives the all-clear. Mandy joking that “This is the kind of thing that didn’t used to happen at my old job” leads us into the credits.

And listen, I still don’t have anything against Moira Kelly, but her delivery of that line is kind of the perfect illustration of her not really getting the Sorkin rhythm.

Patriotism, swelling music, and shots of the cast!

Our misogyny count is in the negative right now! -2! Amazing!

After the credits, we’re in the ever-bustling Toby-and-Sam section of The White House. Toby would like Cathy (who I thought was Sam’s assistant?) to get him a copy of Article One, Section Two. Cathy asks, “Article One, Section Two of what?” which seems like a totally reasonable question to me. Toby says, “The Constitution,” like it should be obvious, and I’m going to go ahead and put in a 5 here. A soft 5, but a 5 nevertheless. Cathy wants to know if that’s something she’s supposed to have at her desk. Toby wants to know if anyone in the general Toby-and-Sam section has a copy of the Constitution handy. No one does. Toby thinks this is “discouraging.” Cathy orders Bonnie to get it. Bonnie wants to know “if it’s still in print” which is a ridiculous question. 7. Honestly. Toby shouts at them to “try Amazon DOT com” (or, I would suggest, the internet in general – I mean, I know it’s 1999 and the Internet isn’t quite what it is today, but I bet there was a copy of the U.S. Constitution up somewhere) or to “bust into the glass display case at the National Archives!” Toby, honestly. Send someone down to the gift shop; they probably have free copies.

C.J. comes up behind him and chastises him for yelling. Toby does not say, “That’s not what you said last night.” C.J. says, kind of awkwardly and weirdly, that she’s here to see Sam. Toby does not care and C.J. continues to be weird about it.

Sam is talking to someone named Jill about sampling data and the census. C.J. flatters him weirdly but I’m not going to give it a 6 for reasons that will become obvious in a moment. Sam grumbles about how the census needs to be taken seriously, despite the lack of glamour. C.J. compliments his hair and his suit and he looks good today. Sam correctly guesses that she needs a favor (which is why no 6).

C.J. tells Sam that there were parts of the commerce bill regarding the census that she didn’t understand. Sam says he can help her out. C.J. confesses that she understands nothing about the census. Because 9. Sam chastises her for not having understood the whole thing for weeks now and for faking it and  then very generously offers to “forget about the fact that you came a little late to the party and embrace the fact that you showed up at all.”

So, let’s go over this. When Josh doesn’t understand this very same bill, he obnoxiously orders Sam to stick around well after working hours to help him understand it. Sam helping Josh takes place entirely off our screen and Sam is entirely cheerful and willing to help Josh with no commentary on what it means that Josh needs his help.

The very next day, mere hours later, considering these peoples’ work schedules, C.J. comes to Sam all flattering and penitent and pleading for help understanding that same bill, and Sam makes her debase herself a little about how much she doesn’t understand and then says she’s “late to the party.” I don’t know if I have enough 9s to give. So this scene will get two, the one above for simply the fact that it’s C.J.’s job to play dumb audience member even though we are given a set-up that would have allowed it to just as easily be Josh, and this one for how groveling she’s expected to be about it.

Donna has a question about the budget surplus that she’s posing to Josh. There’s a $32 billion dollar surplus (Oh, 1999. We miss you.) and the Republicans want to use it for tax relief – i.e., give it back – and the Democrats don’t. Donna wants to know why the Democrats don’t. Josh says, “Because we’re Democrats.” Donna doesn’t care; she wants her money back. Yup, another 9 for the episode. I don’t get the census (unless it’s “We count up all the people,” in which case, I get it fine) but I do get the whole concept of Republicans like not taxing people and Democrats like spending money on social programs just fine, and I’m not the assistant to the Deputy Chief of Staff of the White House.

Leo is going over some of the appropriations bill additions with the staff. They are pointing out all the nonsense things in the bill and then we learn the real point – if the three swing voters that Toby and Mandy are meeting with later will agree to something something something wrt the census, they’ll let the appropriations bill pass. Or something. I think that’s what’s being said, anyway. Also, one of the three is the husband of a recently deceased Congresswoman who is taking her place for the term. See, it’s a way to show that women are totally Congresspeople, without having to cast an actual woman to be involved in this meeting. I don’t have a number for that. Let’s call add one .

11. The show engineers things so that it pays lip service to the idea of women in power without actually showing it.

Actually, another good example of this would be C.J. dealing the cards. She is in the in-charge position in a group meeting, but it’s an irrelevant in-charge position, and it’s also undercut by her losing. So already two 11s for this episode!

Wait, and when Sam was on the phone and made sure to address the other person as Jill so we’d know he was having this important discussion with a woman even though we’d never see or hear from her! Another 11!

Anyway, Mandy and Toby think the dead congresswoman’s husband (the titular Mr. Willis, if you haven’t figured that out yet) is just going to vote with the others and are not worried about the meeting. They think they can threaten their three-day weekend in order to browbeat the congresspeople into voting their way. Leo simply commands them not to screw up or embarrass him and the meeting is dismissed.

A Secret Service agent having a meeting with the president to discuss the events of the night before. We learn that the person who jumped the fence the night before was not a frat pledge, it was a middle-aged crazy lady. Because dames. Crazy, right? 8. The president jokes that just trying to kill him doesn’t mean the woman is crazy.  But the president wasn’t the target. Zoey was. The president is taken aback.

Leo walks in and the president tries to pretend he’s okay, introducing Leo and the agent, Ron Butterfield (I love Sorkin’s character names) and marveling that the jumper was “a woman!” 4? And maybe another 11, since, again, we’re supposed to be impressed that the show had a woman doing the thing instead of a man, but we never actually see her.

Ron Butterfield excuses himself. Leo reassures the president that Zoey was safe, and the president decides not to tell his daughter her life was in danger. Because women. They can’t handle shit like this. I think I’m going with 8. Leo starts to try to tell the president about his marriage breaking up, but before he can, Ron Butterfield comes back in to report that their security worked as it was supposed to, and Leo decides not to go on. Ron advises the president not to lose sleep, but admits that the woman did have a gun before leaving.

A whole bunch of dudes come in to one of the meeting rooms, where Josh and Mandy are waiting. One of them is tubby and black and kind of wide-eyed, so that’s Mr. Willis. One of them is smarmy and says to Mandy, “If I had know you would be here I would have brought my sword and shield.” Mandy responds, “Champagne and flowers would have done the trick,” because women! You should always relate to them as if they are your lovers. 2. And 3 for how feisty Mandy is know to be.

Misogyny Points Thus Far: 

Smarmy dude introduces Mr. Willis, who explains to them who he is and why he’s there, which they already know. Mandy says she’s sorry for his loss and Mr. Willis is very nice about everything, and also explains that he’s not really a congressman; he’s an 8th grade social studies teacher.

Toby marches in ready for his performance. He has a bunch of assistants – Cathy and two dudes – put his copy of the appropriations bill on the table. It is many, many stacks of paper. Toby insincerely welcomes the two congressmen and tells Mr. Willis, sincerely, that he was a great fan of Mrs. Willis.

Then Toby turns his attention to the stacks of paper. It ways 55 pounds, he claims. I kind of doubt it. It includes very dumb things, like a study of the uses of wood. Toby tells them he’s thinking of some uses for it right now. I pant a little. The smarmy congressman smarms about how they’re supposed to be talking about the census. Josh, sitting across the table, says, “We are. The White House just wanted to point out that you are criminals and despots.” Oh, 1999. I miss you.

Josh and Mandy say they will pass the ridic appropriations bill if these three people vote against the law in it prohibiting sampling for use in the census. I’m so excited that Mandy actually gets to speak in this meeting I almost drop a number but then remember that THAT SHOULD BE NORMAL. My good mood from earlier in this post seems to have dissipated; I don’t know if y’all noticed.

Toby threatens their weekend plans, and Mr. Willis interrupts to say he has no weekend plans and no flights to miss or reschedule, so he’s down for the long haul on this. Toby is taken aback. So are the other two congressmen.

Oh, my God. C.J. and Sam pedeconference through the C.J. section of the West Wing and C.J. requests that Sam talk slow and assume she’s dumb. I don’t even. All the numbers. Okay, fine. Let’s go with 97, and maybe a little 4. And a 5 for when Sam makes a joke about being able to imagine her being dumb.


C.J. describes herself as “submissive” because she had to ask Sam for help. Note that Josh did not feel at all submissive when he asked, nor did we have to go through several conversations about how weak he was for needing it in the first place. 4. And then Sam insults her intelligence again. 4.

Finally we get to the explanation. The constitution decrees that every ten years, we count everyone. C.J. asks why. I mean, for fuck’s sake. 9. Because, duh, Sam does not say. Sam goes on to explain how the head count works – expensively and inaccurately. C.J. continues praising him unnecessarily but I’m still not throwing up a 6 because it’s not inexplicable.

Leo’s daughter in a gorgeous Irish fisherman’s sweater brings in some stuff for her dad and informs Leo that the marital difficulties he’s having are not, as he says, going to blow over.

Then we go back to the appropriations bill meeting. Mandy is saying this is a one-time experiment and the smarmy congressman is losing his cool. The one who is neither smarmy nor Mr. Willis appears to be asleep. Donna calls Josh out of the meeting and they pedeconference about why Donna is not getting her money back. I’m not even recapping this conversation. Go find a Facebook debate about taxes and government spending. I assure you it will be more sophisticated and informed than this conversation. I’m throwing in a 9 here for Donna being the originator of this dopey conversation. I do like when Donna whines, “I want my money back” and Josh says, “Then you shouldn’t have voted for us.”

Donna peels off and Josh enters that anteroom of the Oval Office where Charlie and Mrs. Landingham sit. He greets Charlie and Mrs. Landingham sends him in to the Oval. The president is on the phone but motions Josh over. He whispers that he’s on a conference call to the Postmaster General and doesn’t know what it’s about. He tells Josh he wants him to take Charlie out for a beer tonight. Because you should definitely be calling him out of meetings and interrupt your own call for this? Don’t get me wrong; I am a fan of this idea. In fact, I wish all episodes would include a scene of some portion of the gang going out for drinks together. I’m just wondering why this couldn’t have been discussed later.

The president is even going to give Josh some cash, which is adorable, except he doesn’t have any, which is also adorable.

Josh invites Charlie out and Charlie is confused. Josh offers to “speak as men do” which is a pretty funny and ridiculous line except that then Charlie implies that Josh is trying to take him to a gay bar because gay=gross and funny! I don’t have a number for that. If it keeps coming up, I’ll make one.

Mrs. Landingham suggests Josh is too old to be “leering at co-eds” and that is also adorable, as Mrs. Landingham is maybe the only person in the building who can legitimately use the word “co-ed.” Josh insists that there will be grad students at the bar, too. I’d call him out for being gross, but it’s not like we’ve ever seen him actually try to start a romantic or sexual relationship with a girl, so I’ll just go with him being funny here.

Somehow, as Josh is exiting the Charlie-and-Mrs.-Landingham room, Zoey (the president’s daughter) and Mallory (the chief of staff’s daughter) have already caught wind of this plan and want to go for beers, too. They insist the president says Josh has to take them, and Josh, instead of sniffing out the obvious lie, calls the president a “camp counselor”, which would be funny if it were not an obvious lie. Don’t let Josh babysit your kids, ladies and gentlemen. He’ll believe them when they say, “But Mom and Dad let me!”

Josh says these are plans among men, and Mallory says they don’t mind if he flirts with the co-eds, so I hope she’s just repeating what she heard Mrs. Landingham say, because she’s way too young to call them co-eds. Josh again insists there will be grad students there. Mallory wants Josh to bring Sam. Josh thinks Sam doesn’t need Mallory making booty calls, which just goes to show you everything you need to know about Josh. Stop cockblocking, dude. Sam can fail to have relationships with women without your assistance. Also 2.

As the girls wander off, Josh says, “The president’s daughter, the chief of staff’s daughter, a Georgetown bar, and Sam. What could possibly go wrong?” And dude, check yourself before you wreck yourself; why do you think Sam is going to be the troublemaker in this situation?

In the empty press room, Sam is explaining the totally obvious reasons why head counts disadvantage immigrants, the homeless, and inner city populations. Sampling is more accurate, but also, unconstitutional. Sam patronizes her and C.J. calls him out. I love C.J. Josh bursts in and invites Sam out. C.J. mentions she likes beer and Josh completely socially awkwards a “Oh, you can come too, if you want.” C.J. teases him about having completely swept her off her feet, and I should drop a 2, like I did for Mandy’s champagne-and-flowers comment, but C.J. has the gift of delivery, so I won’t.

Back in the appropriations meeting, Mandy is quoting statistics about how black people weren’t counted appropriately in the last census. Toby points out that sampling is more accurate and less expensive. Mandy and Toby trade off points for a few minutes. Smarm-meister doesn’t care. Non-smarm-and-non-Mr.-Willis insists that the Constitution makes it perfectly clear that sampling is not okay. They insist that the article in question is not arcane. Then they piss and moan about actually reading the Constitution and claim that none of them are Constitutional scholars. Although they are people who can claim to know what the Constitution says about sampling, apparently. Whatever, at this point, they are just straw men.

So Toby has Mandy read the article. But he has her read it while leaving a section out, you know, for the theater. Because if you’re going to burn your straw men, you want to make sure the flames look good. Non-Smarm insists that the phrase “number of whole persons” means that sampling is a no-go, although I would wonder how a Constitutional scholar would reconcile that with the inherent problem of ascertaining “whole number” by a head count. Toby lowers the boom, asking the black 8th grade Social Studies teacher, Mr. Willis, to confirm that Mandy left out the word “free” in front of “persons” and the phrase about 3/5 of all other persons. Toby really drives it home with a, “Three-fifths, they meant you, Mr. Willis, didn’t they?”

Well, no, Toby, they didn’t. Mr. Willis is a free person. His antecedents in this country may not have been but he is. And if I recall history correctly, there were free persons of African descent living in here when the Constitution was drafted. Their positions may have been tenuous, but they existed. Also, if I recall history correctly, there were non-black non-free persons at the time of the drafting of this Constitution, as well. So they didn’t just mean “black people” when they wrote that. But, excuse me, Toby. I’m interrupting your performance here. Carry on.

After Toby points out that this article is, in fact, arcane, Congressman Smarm wants to go. He and Congressman Non-Smarm say they’re not going to go change their vote. But Mr. Willis will change his vote, so hah. The two white men leave and Mr. Willis stays behind. Toby asks Mandy to go tell Leo and Toby asks Mr. Willis why he changed his mind. Mr. Willis says Toby made a strong argument. Toby is amazed that someone is voting his conscience. Then he admits that he took advantage of Mr. Willis, and that he didn’t mention the problems with sampling, like will it set a precedence for voting? Mr. Willis jokes that it’s okay with him, as long as it’s not the same people who decide what’s on television and they share a good laugh. Then Mr. Willis gets to give a Wise Black Man speech and we say goodbye to Mr. Willis.

Mrs. Landingham and an unnamed assistant help usher an impatient president out the door. The president is kind of rude to Mrs. Landingham but she calls him on it and it seems a natural and not at all power-trippy part of their relationship so I leave it alone. Leo comes in and reports success on the Toby-Mandy meeting. Leo tells Jed what’s going on with Jenny. Jed does not handle it well. He demands that Leo fix it! Leo yells at him. Jed is sad that Leo didn’t tell him about this for two weeks and Leo points out that he quite rightly expected Jed to take it badly. Jed continues to be an ass and Leo is gobsmacked.

We come to a bar called the Georgetown Station. Mallory asks about the prostitute. And apparently Zoey already knows. Because Mallory told her. And Mallory knows because Sam told her. C.J. is amazed that Sam is that f-ing stupid. Sam asks Mallory if her father knows. She says no. Sam asks Zoey if her father knows. Zoey bats her eyes and says, “Not yet.” Gosh, Elizabeth Moss is terrific. And it’s nice to see her play happy and silly. She’s so miserable on Mad Men these days. She should have sex with Stan.

Anyway. The bartender didn’t bring C.J.’s grasshopper. Zoey volunteers to go get it and asks the table to hold her lipstick, panic button . . . you know, that stupid shit in her pocket. Charlie looks hangdog about this. Are they going to give the young-looking nineteen-year-old Zoey a drink? Am I hopelessly naive?

When she leaves, Charlie asks what a panic button is. Hey, Charlie is appropriately and sensibly playing Exposition Fairy! -9! Although Mallory and C.J. totally don’t explain anything. Josh then wants to know if Charlie is having a good time and he and C.J. get into a little nonsense about whether Charlie’s good time is affected by Josh asking him if he’s having a good time. Charlie is only concerned that they know he’s not in college. C.J. assures him he’s the smartest kid in the room. Charlie is scanning the crowd, presumably for Zoe.

Zoe is approached by that dude who (spoiler alert!) gets turned into a vampire in the first episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and then (more spoiler alert!) gets killed in the second. He has two henchdudes with him. They ask her name. Zoey can’t believe they don’t already know who she is. Neither do I. I mean, I know 1999 (or 2000?) was basically the Dark Ages as far as the Internet is concerned, but everyone knew what Chelsea Clinton looked like. Maybe they wouldn’t believe that they were walking into a bar and seeing the First Daughter, but they would have probably said something like, “Hey, did anyone ever tell you you look just like Zoey Bartlett?”

Anyway, they want to guess her name. They already seem menacing, and not flirtatious – I mean, am I just a prude, or is it menacing when three boys get all up in your personal space to hit on you like that? – but Zoey goes with it, delighted with the idea of being anonymous.

Meanwhile, Charlie has spotted their menacing-ness and decided to swoop in. He reveals that her name is Zoey and they become even more menacing, stepping in between Charlie and Zoey and calling Charlie “Sammy” (as in Sammy Davis, Jr., because . . . he, like Charlie, is black? I’m not sure that this has quite the sting these boys imagine it does.) and “Superfly” (also not quite as mean as they’d like it to be?). Then Zoey tries to go with Charlie and the boys physically block her and she looks scared. Her transition from “totes flirting with these boys” to “scared and happy Charlie has come to protect her” happened in nanoseconds, btw. Charlie tries to end this conflict with kindness, but they continue calling out names of other black people.

Then Josh notices the trouble and picks up Zoey’s panic button. The boys are throwing more nonsensical names at Charlie as Charlie remains cool and polite, focused only on getting Zooey away from these boys.

Sam approaches and menaces the boys, who are unimpressed. And have switched to gay slurs, which they can apply equally to Sam, and to Josh as he comes up.

Then, THEN, the best thing happens. One of the henchdudes – you know, the guy who didn’t recognize the First Daughter – looks at JOSH and says, “Hey, I recognize this dude.”

Excuse me while I clean up the Diet Coke I just spurted all over my monitor.

The idiot racist homophobic girl-menacing asshole didn’t recognize the First Daughter, but he recognizes the Deputy Chief of Staff?

Okay, quick. Picture Sasha and/or Malia. Got ’em? Got ’em in your head? Pretty clear picture, right? I mean, the Obamas are sort of protective of their girls, but you know what they look like, right?

Okay, now picture Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff.

Nothing, right?

Can you even NAME Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff? No? Me, neither.

Oh, Aaron Sorkin and his avatars. Gotta love ’em.

So Josh tells the assholes that they’re having a pretty bad night just as federal agents bust in arrest the assholes. Charlie yells at them and Josh gloats, although, really, in any scene where Josh is present, you should assume he’s gloating. And I’m not really sure why we should be counting Charlie, Sam and Josh as the manly men here when it’s the federal agents they called in who brought these guys down.

Also, I think I might have occasion for another number here. Let’s call it:

12. Male characters play the white knight and the show implicitly or explicitly praises them for it, whether the damsel needed saving or not.

Because as far as I can tell, Zoey didn’t need saving. Not yet, anyway. It was probably good of Charlie to walk over there and check on her, but even if he hadn’t, if she had felt uncomfortable, she could have walked away. And if they restrained her – as they did when Charlie tried to take her away – then she could have yelled for help and the boys could have galloped in.

And it doesn’t really matter whether she needed saving, what matters is that the show had this moment at all.

And I’m applying this number retroactively to the bullshit Sam pulled on his escort friend when he showed up while she was on a work-date and made threatening noises at her.

Anyway, we cut to Zoey on a couch with her father questioning her about the incident. He wants to know if she did anything to “provoke” these guys. Oh, Jed. Do I have to add a number for rape apology? At least Zoey stands up for herself on this particular issue.

Then Jed starts yelling about how they’re upping her protection because her getting kidnapped is “the nightmare scenario.” Then he lays out a whole scene about her being in a nightclub, kidnapped out of the bathroom, two agents dead, whisked away in their car, no one realizes she’s gone for a while, the airports are not shut down in time, and she’s in a cargo hold in Uganda while Israel refuses to release the terrorists that the kidnappers want released and now the U.S. doesn’t have a president; they have a father who’s out of his mind because his little girl is in a shack in Uganda with a gun to her head. He’s shouting by the end of it and Zoey is crying. It’s a pretty effecting scene, but I also want you to remember this scenario that the president spells out.

After apologizing to his daughter for scaring her, Jed goes and apologizes to Leo for being an asshole. Leo accepts just as graciously, but with less hugging.

Josh, Sam, and Charlie are sitting around waiting for their lecture. Josh and Sam are discussing which guys they could have “taken”, you know, if they didn’t just call for federal agents instead.

Donna brings in sandwiches but refuses to give Josh his change because of their argument about tax refunds from before. Still not recapping, also don’t believe that Josh handed her a $20 to go get her sandwiches, like she’s his daughter, rather than there either being money in the White House budget for employee sandwiches and a credit card to which assistants have access, or a credit card she shares with Josh for these purposes. Or a running tab at their favorite sandwich place. Donna gets a 3 here.

Charlie insists neither of them could have taken any of the guys, which is true.

Jed calls Josh in. He wants to know why Josh took Zoey to a bar. Josh still thinks he was acting on orders from the president, which is of course not the case. The president says, “When Zoey told me she was going, I just assumed you were going to have malteds or something.” So a) Josh, you’re an idiot, and b) malteds!

Josh snarks on the idea of “malteds” because he’s very secure in his job. And I guess he should be because the president just thanks him for doing whatever it is he did. Which is, hit the panic button so that actually strong, capable men could come in and deal with this.

Josh insists he did nothing (mostly true) but that Charlie didn’t blink before putting his body in between danger and Zoey. Well, at first it was just perceived danger. But that’s also true. Jed nods and calls Charlie and Sam in. Leo is in the room, too, by the way.

Jed invites Charlie to their poker game, as is appropriate. C.J. wants to know why Josh isn’t being punished. They all sit down to review their days. Toby is impressed with Mr. Willis for being unafraid to say, “I don’t know,” and listening to other people. A rare quality indeed in this particular room. C.J. says she’s happy she said “I don’t know” to Sam and now knows everything about the census. Except the total number of people living in the United States! Hah hah, girls are dumb! 7.

Toby wants to watch Mr. Willis place his vote. Because it’s so damn incredible when black people think, or something. And yes, I know that Toby/Aaron Sorkin didn’t mean it that way but it kind of sneaks in there anyway.

End of episode! End of recap!

Total Misogyny Points: 24. And we added two numbers to our list! An exciting day, and again, welcome to any new blog readers! Please make comments if you like!

The Met Gala, Or, Satin Wrinkles Like Crazy, People. Like CRAZY.

That’s right, folks — we no longer limit our fashion police posts to award shows. Red carpets of the world, beware!

Adele Dazeem

met gala 2014 - idina menzel

Kate: Hah, get it?

Erica: Yes. Yes, I do.  I don’t know for whom I feel more sorry, her or John Travolta, but either way, we are never going to give this up.

Kate: This is a bit too bridal for me, and her normally gorgeous hair looks stiff and weird. I feel like she is still recovering from the Oscars shakeup.

Erica: I am not a fan of this look. I am surprised you haven’t made anything of the lipstick.

Kate: It’s a little much against the light dress, light skin and dark dark hair, but it doesn’t offend me.

Allison Williams

met gala 2014 - allison williams

Kate: Ok, she’s g-ooooor-geous, but it’s time to get her a new stylist. She keeps wearing the same dress!

Erica: Yeah, but it looks good on her. She’s so pretty.

Kate: And her hair needs to be down at all times. It’s too fabulous for up-dos, like a mini-Connie Britton!

Amy Adams

met gala 2014 - amy adams

Erica: God, she is just gorgeousness.

Kate: I like this a lot better than her usual Oscar numbers, but the color is a smidge too light for her fair skin.

Erica: I don’t have the same thing you do about dresses the color of someone’s skin although I do prefer her in color. But she gets to look like Amy Adams, no matter what the color.

Anna Wintour

 met gala 2014 - anna wintour

Kate: So I know she’s like, the queen of everything, but don’t we think Anna Wintour basically wears the same dress to every event?

Erica: Really? I thought this was unusual for her. Maybe it’s just unusual for the Anna Wintour that lives inside my head.

Kate: And hasn’t her hair not changed in decades? I mean…

Erica: That is correct. It’s her “thing.”

Anne Hathaway

met gala 2014 - anne hathaway

Kate: Not sure what that facial expression is all about, but she looks lovely. I just do not love the structured crop top, at all.

Erica: No. It is not a good choice. I find I generally do not like her fashion choices. Which is not to say I don’t like her.


met gala 2014 - beyonce

Kate: This is a bejeweled bathrobe with a peplum. I’m done.

Erica: I actually . . . I mean, I don’t like it. But I’m kind of seeing the kind of look she’s aiming to pull off and I get it. And I appreciate it.

Kate: I most assuredly do not.

Blake Lively

met gala 2014 - blake lively

Kate: I looooooooooooooooooove.

Erica: Holy moly, I have never seen her looking this good.

Kate: This dress is so perfect for her body – shape, material, color, everything. I’m not fond of the red earrings and red lips, or the hairdo, but the dress is stunning. Best dressed nominee!

Erica: I kind of do like the red, actually. But she’s not nominated for . . . Oh, you’re saying you are nominating her for Best Dressed of This Post. I getcha.

Charlize Theron

met gala 2014 - charlize theron

Kate: So it’s Charlize Theron, but…It’s not that flattering?

Erica: Well, I’m on the record as not really liking black-and-white evening wear, and this certainly isn’t an exception to that.

Kate: The tuxedo jacket over the shoulders is a little much, and the dress is nice, I just expect more from her I guess.

Claire Danes

met gala 2014 - claire danes

Kate: Angela, your dress is wrinkled!

Erica: I swear I’ve seen this dress before. In Jessica McClintock. When I was prom dress shopping in 1999.

Kate: I do love her with blonde hair, though. So young and fresh looking.

Erica: I suppose. Her make-up’s a little off, though.

Diane Kruger

met gala 2014 - diane kruger

Kate: The fact that she was cast as Helen of Troy still bothers me every time I see her face.

Erica: What’s happening with her hair?

Kate: This is O-K. The two skirts thing is interesting, but the color makes her look washed out.

Erica: The two skirts thing would be interesting if the dress made more of it. As it is it’s too subtle to be interesting and instead just looks weird.

Dianna Agron

met gala 2014 - dianna agron

Kate: Oy.

Erica: Yeah, I got nothing. This is really terrible looking. Dianna, you’re such a pretty girl!

Kate: Not good Dianna, not good.

Dita Von Teese

met gala 2014 - dita von teese

Kate: Ok so I know she is generally a ridiculous human, but I wanted to include her because I actually LOVE this dress.

Erica: I in fact do not find her to be ridiculous. I find her to be mostly fabulous. And yeah, this dress is killer.

Kate: The mermaid bottom is exceptional and the whole gown is perfectly tailored – very elegant and professional. She is not messing around.

Erica: What’s crazy is, this dress isn’t even as nice as the one she wore the next day just for, like, walking around (and knowing full well she was going to be photographed walking around, but still.):

dita von teese

Emma Stone

met gala 2014 - emma stone

Erica: Still wildly adore her. Still don’t like this.

Kate: I am not even 100% sure why, but I am obsessed with this look. I would normally abhor the braid, as you well know, and everyone was calling it a “Frozen braid” on social media the night of, but it works on her. And the two pinks and the skirt with the slit and the shoes..Just wow. Best dressed nominee!

Erica: Seriously? Kate, is that even you? I mean, I actually like the Frozen braid, but the dress? For real?

Kate: For real! I agree it’s weird for me to love it, but I do dangit!


met gala 2014 - gisele

Kate: I’m bored by this.

Erica: I mean, she looks good. But yeah, there’s nothing else to say here.

Hailee Steinfeld

met gala 2014 - hailee steinfeld

Kate: LOVE! How fun is that ballet pink bottom with those ballet pink shoes?!

Erica: Yeah? I’m a little meh on it. I like the shoes, though.

Kate: She is becoming quite the gorgeous young woman – great hair and makeup – and I really love the optical illusion dresses like this create.

Erica: I guess that’s cool but I don’t really like it. But yes, she is gorgeous and her hair and makeup look fantastic.

Hayden Panettiere

met gala 2014 - hayden panettierre

Kate: Finally!

Erica: I think hair, make-up, and shape of the dress work on her. I do not much like the dress itself.

Kate: I’m not obsessed with the colors – tis a bit cotton candy-esque – but she finally looks like the cute actress-turned-singer she is instead of trying to be something she’s not. (I’m alluding to her Golden Globes look; bleh!)

Jessica Alba

met gala 2014 - jessica alba

Kate: Is she pregnant? Or is she trying to make herself look pregnant?

Erica: You thought pregnant? I thought too skinny.

Kate: Either way, I don’t love this. Frump city.

Karolina Kurkova

met gala 2014 - karolina kurkova

Kate: I don’t really know who this person is, but I wanted to include her because this is what I call a Met Gala gown – interesting structure and looks to be a work of art in and of itself.

Erica: I could be mistaken but I think she’s a Victoria’s Secret Angel. And, yes, this dress is the Platonic ideal of Met Gala gowns.

Kate Bosworth

 met gala 2014 - kate bosworth

Erica: Whoa.

Kate: Omg, she is so frighteningly skinny. I actually love this dress and how she accessorized it, and I don’t think anyone much bigger could pull this off, but Jesus H. Christ it almost hurts to look at her.

Erica: Holy shit. I mean, I don’t like all of the magazines that are all, “She’s got an eating disorder, says me, a tabloid writer, and an ‘unnamed source’, and a doctor who has never treated her or seen her in person or done anything other than look at this picture we provided,” but seriously? Seriously? This girl needs some medical attention, stat.

Kate Upton

met gala 2014 - kate upton

Kate: Gah!

Erica: Well, this is pretty weird.

Kate: This could be the most unflattering thing I’ve ever seen on the red carpet.

Erica: Oddly enough, I can sort of see what she’s trying to do here. But yes, mega unflattering. And it’s hard to be unflattering to that face and that body.

Katie Holmes

met gala 2014 - katie holmes

Erica: Suri dressed her. I understand. I also have a fashion-forward daughter and that kind of stuff happens to me sometimes, too.

Kate: Everyone was comparing this dress to Belle’s, and I have to say a Belle costume would have looked a whole lot better than this. What a mess little Joey Potter has turned into, eh?

Erica: The thing is, she’s usually pretty polished. Here, her hair is all messy and her make-up is practically non-existent and the dress is . . . well . . . I mean, y’all can see it, I don’t need to explain. It’s just pretty weird coming from her.

Kendall Jenner

met gala 2014 - kendall jenner

Kate: I continue to hate the Kardashian clan in all possible ways, but Kendall is a striking young woman.

Erica: She’s a pretty girl, for sure.

Kate: This is a lovely dress but she is almost too tall for it, and it should be worn by an Oscar-nominated actress instead of a teeny bopper.

Erica: Her waist is super tiny. I mean, I’m assuming it has help, but still.

Kim Kardashian

met gala 2014 - kim kardashian

Kate: UGH.

Erica: Heehee.

Kate: I just hate them so much. But this dress looks terrible on her. Nice color but unflattering in the boob, hip and leg area, and the shoes with the slit make her legs look terrible.

Erica: The dress is just kinda weird. It looks more bathrobe-y even than Beyonce’s bathrobe. And she’s standing like, “Did you notice I have a slit? DID YOU?!”

Kirsten Dunst

met gala 2014 - kirsten dunst

Kate: Seriously, what has happened to this girl?

Erica: She has the Death Star on her dress.

Kate: I don’t think she was ever too good at the red carpet, but this is just weird.

Erica: I don’t know, man. I mean, if you want to wear the Death Star on your formal gown, where else CAN you do that than at the Met Gala? As far as I know, there are no formal events at ComicCon. My question is, what has happened to her acting career? Has she been in anything lately? Because, IIRC, she’s a damn good actress.

Kristen Stewart

met gala 2014 - kristen stewart

Kate: Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly hate her more.

Erica: If I were writing an SNL skit to send up Kristen Stewart, this is what I’d dress the character in. Kristen Stewart is becoming unparody-able.

Kate: Just stop showing up to these things, you ill-mannered, poorly-dressed Negative Nancy!

Erica: I saw a thing recently, with .gifs of celebrities laughing, and you had to guess who they were. And 99% of them were totally obvious because that’s what those people look like and it wasn’t in any way a challenge at all. The one I didn’t get right away was her. I’d never seen her make that expression before!

Lake Bell

met gala 2014 - lake bell

Erica: I am not a huge fan of hers, but then, I haven’t seen that thing she directed and/or wrote and I think starred in about the girl who makes movie trailers or something? Which actually looked pretty good.

Kate: This is a lovely dress, albeit too matchy-matchy with the red carpet, but she made that crazy face in, like, every photo that night. What’s up, Lake?

Erica: Pregnancy hormones.

Lea Michele

met gala 2014 - lea michele

Kate: Without that weird extra material in the middle, this would be lovely.

Erica: She’s younger than me. I think she’s younger than you. Why does she keep dressing like she’s Joan Collins?

Kate: I do think she takes herself way too seriously these days, though.

Leighton Meester

met gala 2014 - leighton meester

Kate: This would be perfect if it were tailored better, especially at the waist.

Erica: Yeah, I think you’re right about that. Astute fashion analysis.

Kate: Also, her makeup is very drab.

Erica: Oh, on that we disagree. I think it’s simple and natural-looking and nice.

Kate: Drab.

Lena Dunham

met gala 2014 - lena dunham

Kate: I can respect the attempt, but this is not a good look for her.

Erica: It sincerely is not.

Lily Aldridge

met gala 2014 - lily aldridge

Kate: I don’t really know what Lily Aldridge is famous for, but I really love this dress so I wanted to include her.

Erica: Her name is really familiar to me. Although it might be that it was used for a romance novel heroine once. And if it hasn’t been, it ought to be.

Kate: She succeeded in the whole metallic thing where everyone else has failed, I think.

Erica: Yeah, the dress is pretty spectacular.

Lupita Nyong’o

met gala 2014 - lupita nyong'o

Erica: This is kind of crazy-pants but I like it.

Kate: I do not enjoy this particular ensemble, but I do respect it from the standpoint of “This is the Met Gala and we can wear some really out-there things”. You know?

Erica: Yes, that is exactly how I feel about this ensemble, except that I do enjoy it, because I enjoy out-there things.

Margot Robbie

met gala 2014 - margot robbie

Kate: She started out so strong with her Oscars dress, but everything since has been a major disappointment. Is that a bathing suit underneath a mock turtleneck? Come on.

Erica: Who is she? Whatever, this is a weirdly shaped, weirdly fitted dress that is simply unattractive on any level.

Kate: She was in Wolf of Wall Street. And I can’t STAND ankle-length things on the red carpet.

Erica: Totes.

Marion Cotilliard

 met gala 2014 - marion cotillard

Kate: This is fun in an I’m-going-to-a-fancy-lunch-with-my-fancy-gal-pals way, but I do not think it’s appropriate for the Gala.

Erica: I don’t know, I think there’s enough out-there going on to make it interesting enough. I guess it could be schmancier but I’m digging it.

Michelle Williams

met gala 2014 - michelle williams

Kate: Too short, Ms. Lindley! I feel like you are about t0 shopping near the Met, not attend the Gala!

Erica: Yeah, this is more an after-party thing. Her hair looks pretty cute, though.

Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen

 met gala 2014 - mary kate and ashley olsen

Kate: I’m not a fan of the huge coat dresses.

Erica: See, I could see it as part of the whole fashion-history-at-the-Met thing, because there are some late 19th century fashions that very much took the female silhouette with the enormous bustle in the back and the tiny waist and then put masculine styling in, like military epaulettes or business-suit fabrics, and that looked pretty awesome. But these dresses are not structured well enough to pull that off. Which is a shame because I like the concept.

Kate: Also, why are they always SO serious-looking now? Have a little fun every now and then, twinsies!

Naomi Watts

met gala 2014 - naomi watts

Erica: Blech.

Kate: Even though it’s Givenchy, I really don’t like this at all. The half-sheer skirt thing really bothers me.

Erica: I can’t remember a recent Givenchy creation I liked.

Olivia Munn

met gala 2014 - olivia munn

Kate: Lovely! I personally would never expose that much of my breasts at an event like this, but the color is great and she looks all young and tan and refreshed.

Erica: You don’t think she looks sort of like the girl who would play the X-rated version of her? I mean, I like the dress, but that’s the overall vibe I’m getting.

Posh Spice

met gala 2014 - victoria beckham

Kate: She and Kate Bosworth should start an I’m Way Too Skinny support group.

Erica: So I’m playing this game called Covet on my iPad in which you dress up your electronic model in real fashions to compete in various themed fashion events. Recently one demanded that the model be dressed up to look like a re-uniting member of a girl-power ’90s band – because I guess they can’t just say, “Spice Girls”. So I made a perfect little Posh model – and I didn’t win! I was so mad!

Kate: Every time I read an interview with her I like her, but then every time I see her in a photo I don’t. She just tries too hard. This dress is nothing special, and she should have worn her hair up with it.

Erica: I like her a lot better with short hair.

Rachel McAdams

met gala 2014 - rachel mcadams

Erica: She’s in my Top 5 Prettiest People Ever.

Kate: Flawless. It’s just not fair.

Erica: I don’t even love the overall style. She’s just so pretty!

Kate: While the dress is extraordinarily elegant and perfect for her, it is a tad on the boring side for an event such as this. But do you know anyone with a more perfect blowout? I think not.

Rashida Jones

met gala 2014 - rashida jones

Kate: Awful! Looks like something Drew Barrymore would have worn 13 years ago. Makes her look so dowdy.

Erica: Aw, man, Rashida. You’re so much prettier than this.

Reese Witherspoon

met gala 2014 - reese witherspoon

Kate: This is a great color on Reese, but I do not like the shape on top at all. And I never like her hair like that – hello, Pleasantville!

Erica: Do you think she’s been re-watching some of her old movies and taking her styling ideas from them?


met gala 2014 - rihanna

Erica: I kind of go, “Well, it’s Rihanna.” And at least she’s not carting around that creepy accessory on her arm.

Kate: This is gross. NO CROP TOPS ON THE RED CARPET, PEOPLE! (Except Emma Stone’s which is not really all that cropped and which I love unconditionally.)

Sarah Silverman

met gala 2014 - sarah silverman

Kate: I think Sarah Silverman is actually quite gorgeous, but this dress is completely swallowing her. It’s not a great color, the skirt is too big, and her hair is too severely pulled back.

Erica: I kind of like how big it is. But if she did up her hair the way she should have, we might think she gives a shit. Hey, did I ever tell you her sister was the rabbi at the Brandeis Hillel when I was there?

Kate: Neat-o!

Selena Gomez

met gala 2014 - selena gomez

Kate: Along with Kendall Jenner, why exactly is Selena Gomez at the Met Gala?

Erica: I got nothing.

Kate: I actually really like this dress (great color), but for me not Selena. Get outta there.

Erica: Yeah, this would be GREAT on you.

Shailene Woodley

met gala 2014 - shailene woodley

Kate: This is totally weird and different and not like anything I’ve ever seen on the red carpet and I shouldn’t like it but…Something about it on her is working. Maybe it’s the hair?

Erica: This dress is wild and kind of awesome. But is she not wearing shoes? But also, she has a long second toe, like us! And, I’m really glad she did her hair like that, not because I like it, but because before this, I kind of thought she and Hailee Steinfeld were the same person.

Sarah Jessica Parker

 met gala 2014 - sarah jessica parker - back

met gala 2014 - sarah jessica parker - front

Kate: Had to show the front and back of this one because I first saw it from the back and loved it – it’s so something Carrie Bradshaw would wear. I don’t love the huge signature at the bottom (was that really necessary, Oscar?), but from the back I thought it was really swell. Then she turned around.

Erica: Well, you can’t have just as wild a front when you’ve got that on the back.

Kate: It’s OK from the front, but the skirt is so wrinkled! And her hair is CRAZY! Maybe it would have been better without the black leaves on the top of the skirt?

Erica: Actually, I am a fan of the leaves. She looks kind of like a cupcake, but who doesn’t like cupcakes? This is one of my few exceptions to the black-and-white evening gown thing.

Taylor Swift

met gala 2014 - taylor swift

Erica: This is kind of a rare misstep for her.

Kate: I like that this is a bit of a nod to Audrey (reminds me of her famous Sabrina dress), but again with the wrinkly skirt! It’s not well tailored to Taylor.

Erica: She can do better than this. We’ve seen her do better than this. Taylor, I am not tearing you down. There is no special place in hell for me. I’m supporting you to be your best (dressed) self!

Zoe Saldana

met gala 2014 - zoe saldana

Erica: Loathe.

Kate: I really don’t like that ENORMOUS thing – one might call it an oversized peplum? — in the middle of the skirt; if it didn’t have that, she’d look perfect.

Erica: Loathe.

Zooey Deschanel

met gala 2014 - zooey deschanel

Kate: So just because she just did a collection with Tommy Hilfiger, she had to wear him to this event, eh? That’s unfortunate because this is a boring dress and she of all people could have done something really fun for this type of event.

Erica: She’s done a collection with Tommy Hilfiger? Is she regretting having been fashionably interesting all her life and now she’s trying to take it back? Zooey, your job is to amuse us on the red carpet!

Kate: So best dressed? My top 3 are Blake Lively, Emma Stone and Hailee Steinfeld.

Erica: Huh. I go Blake or the Victoria’s Secret girl. Or Dita. I actively hated Emma Stone’s ensemble and didn’t care either way for Hailee’s.

Kate: So Blake! Worst dressed has to be Katie Holmes, right?

Erica: Sadly, I think yes.



So, the coolest thing happened. This lady tweeted about me and now all these new people are reading my blog and !!!!!

Welcome, new readers!

And I’m really sorry I haven’t done more West Wing recaps and I’ll get back on that momentarily!

But, first – I gotta cover the Met Gala with my sister. So, I’m sorry, those of you who came to my site hoping for trenchant feminist analysis. You will instead find me criticizing women’s fashion choices. I know, I know. I’m a hypocrite. But listen, if men had interesting clothing, or if I understood anything about it, I’d criticize that, too. And yes, I KNOW that the situation in which women’s clothing is “interesting” and attractive in the sense that it attracts attention, and men can look “boring” instead IS ITSELF a form of male privilege. But . . . I like looking at pretty dresses, okay? So, Met Gala today or tomorrow. Feminist analysis of West Wing shortly thereafter. And thanks for reading!