Oscars 2017

Kate: I say this with some degree of humiliation, but I think this is the first year since I was, like, in elementary school, that I have not seen ONE of the nominated films.

Erica: It’s like the, oh, what is it, ah…Eighth. The eighth year for me.

Kate: Oh, hang on! I HAVE seen Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (nominated for Costume and Production Design), O.J.: Made in America (nominated for Documentary Feature), Star Trek Beyond (nominated for Makeup & Hairstyling), and The Jungle Book (nominated for Visual Effects). I feel much better now.

Erica: Yup, I’ve seen none of those. I have seen Zootopia. And I’ve seen Rogue One, which also got a Visual Effects nod.

Kate: But, again, are the movies important? No! Only the DRESSES are!

 

Alicia Vikander

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Kate: I know everyone was obsessed with her last year and she’s pretty and tiny and all that, but…I don’t get it.

Erica: I think I get it. I don’t know if I like it, but I think I get it.

Kate: This looks like something recycled from a really bad sweet 16 in the 80s. I hate the neckline, the sleeves, the layers, the length, the lace, all of it! And the hair! That’s what my hair looks like RIGHT NOW, and it’s not a good situation!

Erica: The neck and sleeves read Jane Austen to me. Which is cool, especially on a tiny person such as herself, but, you know, black in the Jane Austen era would signal mourning, not glamour. And I think that’s unfortunately how this reads.

Kate: Really, really hate it.

 

Amy Adams

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Kate: Disappointed that she didn’t do the red carpet, especially in this number. Va va voom, Amy!

Erica: Oh, I don’t love it.

Kate: I think I’ve said recently that I’m over the sequins, but this looks great. Perfectly tailored to her body, a deep V done right. And I always love soft, voluminous waves like that — kind of like Connie Britton hair!

Erica: I love the hair. And there’s nothing wrong with the dress. It’s just not my favorite.

 

Brie Larson

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Kate: Oh my, how dramatic.

Erica: I’m into it.

Kate: Her terrible hair is a bit distracting, but I like the dress. Kind of like a very fancy Jessica Rabbit, but black instead of red. I might not have worn this if I were not actually nominated (that year), though.

Erica: I agree the hair could be a little more on point but the drama of the gown, I really love. Very John Singer Sargent.

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Charlize Theron

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Kate: Wow. Having a very rare moment of I-don’t-think-Charlize-Theron-looks-good, and I don’t know what to do with that.

Erica: Oh, see, I don’t like the dress, and I don’t like the ponytail thing — it looks like they forgot to finish her hair — and I also really hate the earrings – but I still think she looks good.

Kate: The metallic thing just doesn’t work as well on her as it has on others, I hate the ponytail, the thick-strapped deep V-neck doesn’t complement her beautiful figure, it’s just all off. Very jarring.

Erica: It’s all very weird. And yet, I still think she’s beautiful.

Kate: Yes SHE is obviously beautiful but this LOOK is not. Also, those earrings are dangerously heavy on her earlobes. And also obscenely expensive.

 

Chrissy Teigen

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Kate: I really like one of John Legend’s songs right now, so I am less annoyed than usual that these two literally pop up EVERYWHERE, but seriously, WHY ARE THEY EVERYWHERE?

Erica: Oh I am 100% okay with them being everywhere because I find them — her in particular — to be delightful. Also I think he’s in La La Land.

Kate: Regardless, this is an OK gown. The attached cape thing feels a bit done to me at this point, and the sequin detail feels a bit Cache to me, but the rest of the dress is fab. I could do without the one piece of hair on the right side, too.

Erica: I don’t like the dress. I just don’t like it. It’s not badly done or incomprehensibly ugly. I just don’t like it.

 

Dakota Johnson

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Kate: Oh my god, I could not hate it more if I tried.

Erica: I think I hate it more than I hate the 50 Shades phenomenon. No, wait. Nothing is worse than that. This dress is pretty damn close, though.

Kate: It’s like a decades-old wedding dress that wasn’t stored properly. You know what? It reminds me of Sandra Bullock’s wedding dress in The Proposal. And I liked it on Sandra a lot more.

Erica: Wow, it is better on Sandra Bullock but I still hate it on Sandra Bullock. It is so very awful. Incredibly awful. Like it was trying to be awful. And her makeup and hair look dreadful. Well, her makeup looks dreadful. Her hair is more blah than awful.

Kate: Yea, that is like, what my hair looks like when I want it out of my face at work but I KNOW it doesn’t look good/makes my forehead look enormous. Bleh bleh bleh!!!

Erica: She also claims to not be wearing makeup. Does she think we don’t know what faces normally look like?

 

Emma Roberts

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Kate: I always think she looks very pretty, if not a little too tiny, and I love the nod to her aunt with the bright red hair tonight.

Erica: I mean, I love the hair. Love. A lot.

Kate: The gown is lovely and she overall looks very nice, I’m just not like AMAZED by it.

Erica: So it’s black-and-white evening, which is not my favorite. But she told Ryan Seacrest that she was the one who told Julia to wear the black-and-white one she won the Oscar in, so maybe this is, like, a nod? Or maybe Emma Roberts just really loves black-and-white evening dresses? Which, as we’ve established, are not my favorite, although this one has the lace and is very well tailored and all that. I am not particularly prudish about boobs, though — in fact, I am typically a fan of cleavage — and this is pushing it for me.

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Emma Stone

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Kate: I don’t know. It feels a little too theme-y for me. Aren’t we over the whole Great Gatsby thing?

Erica: I mean, the hair and makeup are lovely.

Kate: Yes, very lovely hair and makeup. I’m having an issue with where the fringe starts and ends on this dress — it creates awkward sections of her otherwise beautiful body.

Erica: I see what you’re saying, but it doesn’t bother me as much as I think it should. I think it actually starts low enough that it’s okay. That said, I don’t love the fringe.

Kate: Honestly, she should have swapped her Golden Globes and Oscars dresses, and done something completely else for SAGs. This dress is fine, but her Globes dress was the real stunner of the group.

Erica: Yes. Agreed. That was the Oscars dress.

 

Felicity Jones

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Kate: Uh oh. I see some tea length.

Erica: Man. I want so badly to like so many things about this. But I hate tea length. And I hate the thing that is happening around her waist.

Kate: I wish it were floor length and I wish the top were tailored a bit better, and I wish she had jazzed it up a with a little more jewelry on the ears, but looking very soft and simple and elegant is kind of her thing.

Erica: It’s like, a good concept. But not a good dress.

Kate: I do, however, love the shoes, ergo, I understand why she WANTED to do tea length.

 

Ginnifer Goodwin

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Kate: Oh, I hate her hair like that. Too plastered to her head, literally.

Erica: Yes. I hate all of this, really.

Kate: The dress is fine, but it feels like something you could buy at Anthropologie and wear to a fancy wedding, not THE OSCARS. You know?

Erica: I don’t think the dress is fine. I hate it.

Kate: I also think a regular old scoop neck would have done just fine instead of a DAMN TURTLENECK.

Erica: BUT she lost her former TV husband the day before. I will give her all the passes.

 

Hailee Steinfeld

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Kate: Oh, my. Gorgeous. Beyond.

Erica: Really?! Really?!

Kate: Really! I think it’s an amazing mix of modern and edgy with classic and beautiful. P e r f e c t makeup.

Erica: I would never have expected you to like this. The back. The frou-frou-ness. How see-through it is. I am shocked.

Kate: The see-throughness was a bit surprising at first but it’s done with taste. Best Dressed nominee!

Erica: So it is the sort of thing I usually like but I don’t know if this is my favorite iteration of it. The back is a bit much for me. And I can’t decide how I feel about how see-through it is. On the one hand, very sexy. Without being slutty. On the other, I think I’m getting old or something.

 

Halle Berry

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Kate: I mean, why does anyone else even show up if she’s gonna be there? Look at her!

Erica: To see what she looks like, naturally.

Kate: I adore the dress, the one shoulder, the sparkle, the colors, the ribbony elements, wow. And her face? Her skin? Her makeup? It’s just not fair!

Erica: It is a really lovely dress. I feel like her fashion is so often, like, really unique and special, while looking exactly like a red carpet dress should. Both surprising and entirely fitting.

Kate: The only reason I’m not throwing her a Best Dressed nominee is the hair — I like the curls, I like the color(s), but I don’t like the style.

Erica:I like that she did that hair. I think it could be perfected but I applaud the concept.

 

Janelle Monae

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Kate: I was able to get into her quirk at the Globes and the SAGs, but this is too much for me. Really don’t like it. Overwhelming in the worst possible way.

Erica: I like it, actually. I wish that the skirt didn’t, like, detach from itself. But I think it mostly accomplishes what it sets out to be and I appreciate that about it. And I really, really, really, really love her hair.

 

Jennifer Aniston

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Kate: Another red carpet evader — Jen, I love you, but Meryl Streep you are not. You still must do the red carpet, especially if you are presenting.

Erica: What is she, even, without the red carpet?

Kate: This is quite sexy. It’s very Jen, and I think she always looks great, and she’s famous for that hair, but I wish it were pulled back a little to show off more of the dress. It’s a great neckline, and it deserves some more attention.

Erica: Yeah, this is classic Jen, 100%.

 

Jessica Biel

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Kate: I know this is FASHION, but to me it’s mostly a very nice costume from The Lion King on Broadway.

Erica: I can’t say it any better than that. That is 100% accurate.

Kate: I’m sorry but Jessica Biel has an extremely beautiful body, and this dress shows absolutely none of it!

Erica: Has she been in anything lately or is she just there as Mrs. Timberlake? I mean, after watching him perform that opening song, I am behind “showing up to be Mrs. Timberlake”. I’m just wondering.

Kate: She’s just Mrs. Timberlake most recently. Also, her hair SHOULD be slicked back with this neckline/necklace, but it’s too loose on that one side. Do not like!

 

Kate McKinnon

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Kate: Well excuuuuuuse me Miss Thing!

Erica: Yeah, she cleans up good.

Kate: I absolutely love it! Great hair, great makeup, GREAT dress. Can never go wrong with black and a little sparkle. Best Dressed nominee!

Erica: I just feel like I’d be annoyed if I were an SNL cast member now. The plumb role — president — is being played by a non-cast celebrity. The next best one — the press secretary — is also going to a non-cast celebrity. Now they talk about Rosie O’Donnell playing Steve Bannon. And then everyone else is played by Kate McKinnon. Fabulously. But still.

Kate: Irrelevant! Dresses!

 

Kirsten Dunst

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Kate: Wow wow wow. I love it!

Erica: I don’t know what’s happening with her since she used to like to look bizarre. This is so beautiful.

Kate: Such a flattering shape, especially around the boobs and waist, and it just looks like a beautifully made piece of fashion. I would not have done closed-toe shoes with that length, though.

Erica: The dress is just 100% perfection. It’s sort of a nod to the era of her movie, too, how beautifully constructed it is, and the silhouette. She looks amazing.

Kate: Agree! But also not totally loving the hair swoop thing. Am OK with the necklace. Luuurrrve the dark dramatic makeup on her.

 

Leslie Mann

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Kate: She is really giving me some Gone with the Wind vibes here.

Erica: I don’t like it. I hate the color. I hate the bow. Her hair is messy. She is a delightful human, though.

Kate: Yes, the color leaves something to be desired, and her hair is too casual for a) this occasion and b) this dress, but…I really, really like her, and she looks like she’s just having so much fun, so I don’t hate this as much as I probably should/usually would.

 

Meryl Streep

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Kate: Meryl throwing me off again with actually DOING the red carpet this time.

Erica: I didn’t see her on the red carpet.

Kate: She was there! I don’t like her hair at all. The sparkly teal pantsuit is very old lady chic, and not in a good way.

Erica: Am I stupid? I’m seeing her in a midnight blue sparkly thing.

Kate: Sometimes it looks blue, sometimes it looks teal, and there are pants AND a skirt somewhere in there. Apparently there was a whole ordeal about this sparkly teal pantsuit because it’s Elie Saab and she was originally supposed to wear Karl Lagerfeld and Karl went on a rant about it, to which Meryl responded in the most Meryl way possible. And now I love it. (But not her hair.)

Erica: I feel like I need to binge-watch her movies but also that will make me very depressed.

 

Michelle Williams

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Kate: I’m shocked — this is such a normal, basic choice for Jen, I mean Michelle!

Erica: She’s going to be pissed when she sees Emma Roberts.

Kate: Oh, so true. Except she most likely doesn’t care. This is pretty but it’s really not doing anything else for me. I think the top could be tailored better. Also, it looks like the skirt is just plain old cream-colored in this photo, but on the pre-show it was a bit more sheer and sparkly.

Erica: It’s not great. And she’s usually so fashion-conscious. This is not particularly interesting and it’s not particularly well-made. The top looks really bad.

 

Nicole Kidman

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Kate: Ahhh, redemption. It’s a beautiful thing.

Erica: It’s baffling, though. Like, if she knows to wear this, how did she wear M-F-ING PARROTS?

Kate: After the ridiculous ruffles of the Golden Globes dress and the stupid sparkly parrots of the SAGs, this dress is a sight for sore eyes. Even though it’s a little too close to the color of her skin so that it kind of looks like she just has swirly body paint on her.

Erica: Hey, I will give all the points to the woman who shows up on a red carpet with just swirly body paint on her.

Kate: REALLY love the hair and makeup.

 

Octavia Spencer

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Kate: Very extremely lovely. Possibly the best I’ve ever seen her.

Erica: She does love her gray, doesn’t she?

Kate: It’s a great color on her. I love the sleek angled bob, very flattering neckline and overall silhouette. Am I the world’s biggest feather fan? No, but it works here.

Erica: Agree with everything except that the feathers are still not working for me. Waist up? Perfect. Waist down? Eh.

 

Priyanka Chopra

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Kate: It is really, really hard to pull off these super-structured strapless tops. I don’t know if Priyanka is accomplishing that here.

Erica: I feel no uncertainty about it. I hate it.

Kate: And the material looks very quilt-like, so that plus the super-structured top plus the flair on bottom makes it feel more like a Cher concert costume than an Oscars dress.

Erica: I think it feels more like a bad Project Runway design.

 

Salma Hayek

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Kate: Well, it’s a vast improvement from the bridesmaid dress from 27 Dresses she wore to the SAGs, but it’s still not great. Quite boring, actually.

Erica: I think it’s fine. Unremarkable.

Kate: And her usually fabulous, voluminous hair is quite…Flat. Meh.

Erica: I don’t like the headband. She’s a grown woman at an awards show, you know?

Kate: I am generally anti-headband.

 

Scarlett Johansson

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Kate: Hate the hair, hate the belt, and if the skirt were a little less poofy she would just be dressed for a very nice brunch with her friends in Southern California. Very disappointing.

Erica: The hair is very stupid. I’m less offended by the dress than you are — actually, it would be super cute as a brunch dress — but I hate the hair.

Kate: One does not wear BRUNCH DRESSES to the OSCARS!!! Also, I think she’s not wearing a bra, which should not be the case for someone as well endowed as her.

Erica: She has a great rack when she dresses it properly.

 

Taraji P. Henson

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Kate: I feel like this is JUST on the right side of the fine line between “vintage” and “dated”. Either way, a HUGE improvement over her Grammys disaster.

Erica: I have no problem with edging toward dated. I also loved how she made Ryan Seacrest wait for her.

Kate: You know what? It’s actually a little Pretty Woman-esque with that neckline, necklace, and material, in a very good way.

Erica: It’s so glam and perfect I feel like she was just playing with the other awards shows this year, because she was saving up for this. Sadie likes it, too; she keeps reaching for the screen.

Kate: Also really love the short, textured, angled bob.

Erica: Yes. Perfect. All the good things. And I really want to see Hidden Figures. I think listening to her talk about it put it even with La La Land on my wish list.

 

Viola Davis

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Kate: Oh yes, I love the red. Love it love it love it.

Erica: The red is perfect. The hair is perfect. The makeup is perfect.

Kate: Gorgeous sleeves, love the shorter hair, FINALLY the softer makeup look I’ve been asking for from her. The only thing I’d have done differently is a bit more bling on the ears to complement the neckline.

Erica: I’m not super into the ear cuff thing. I like the concept but I have yet to see it executed in a way I like. Also, I feel really bad, because I don’t want to see Fences. I understand that it’s a fantastic movie with out-of-this-world performances. I just don’t wanna. Sadie really liked her acceptance speech.

Kate: Alas, our final Best Dressed of the 2017 Red Carpet Season?

Erica: After some consideration, I want Taraji to have it. She looks so good.

Kate: I don’t like hers THAT much. I’d rather give it to Viola, Hailee, or Kate.

Erica: Hmm. Okay, now I’m torn between Hailee, who did something beautiful and interesting, and Viola Davis, who just looked perfect. I will accept either.

Kate: VIOLA IT IS! Worst?

Erica: It’s got to be Dakota Johnson. And NOT because I hate 50 Shades. I actually think she’s quite as charming as a human possibly can be in that dreadful role. But that dress. It is all the things wrong with all the fashion in the universe. I might hate it more than I hated Nicole Kidman’s parrots.

Kate: Could not agree more. Peace out, fellow fashion critiquers!

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Grammys 2017

Grammys 2017

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

Erica: I will probably only recognize Beyoncé.

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

Erica: Not me. But I am not cool.

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

 

Adele

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

Erica: I am not seeing what you are seeing.  

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Kate: Angel/goddess on Earth.

 

Beyoncé

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Carrie Underwood

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Kate: Was wondering that myself…

 

Celine Dion

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Kate: Oh dear me no.

Erica: No?

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Chrissy Teigen

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

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

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

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

Kate: They are in WO, most likely.

 

Demi Lovato

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

Erica: Yeah this looks…cheap.

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

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

Kate: Worst Dressed nominee!

 

Elle King

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

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

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

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

 

Erika Jayne

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

Erica: I’ll go with that logic.

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

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

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

 

Faith Hill

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

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

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

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

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

 

Gina Rodriguez

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

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

Kate: Well there you have it.

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

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

Candace: Whatever.

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

 

Heidi Klum

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

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

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

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

 

Jennifer Lopez

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

Erica: She looks beautiful, though.

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

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

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

 

Katharine McPhee

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Kate: Very boring, but very nice.

Erica: Hate ombre hair.

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

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

 

Katy Perry

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Kate: Oh Christ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kate: Oh, and Worst Dressed nominee.

 

Lady Gaga

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Kate: YASSSSS.

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

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

Erica: Yes. Well-executed crazy.

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

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

 

Laverne Cox

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

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

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

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

 

Lea Michele

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

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

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

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

 

Mya

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

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

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

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

Kate: Hair and makeup are fine, though.

 

Rihanna

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

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

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

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

 

Taraji P. Henson

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

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

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

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

 

Tori Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Erica: That is more than fine with me.

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

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

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

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

  1. Physical comedy is used to undercut a female character’s competence.
  2. A female character’s sexual appeal or sexual/romantic relationship (or, sometimes, maternal qualities) with a male character is primary.
  3. A female character displays “feistiness”. “Feistiness” is a frequent shorthand in liberal misogyny for “See? She’s strong and independent and we find that adorable! What’s the problem?”
  4. Femininity or feminine concerns are disparaged, by male or female characters.
  5. Any character is rude to his/her female subordinate with no consequences.
  6. A male character is lauded and glorified in an unlikely way by a female character or characters.
  7. A female character screws up at her job.
  8. Anger (or other emotions/behaviors) coming from a female character is unreasonable or mysterious, either to the audience or to another character.
  9. A female character plays the Exposition Fairy. Note: Having Exposition Fairies is not in and of itself a problem. It’s necessary in most fiction. But in The West Wing, the Fairy is almost always a female character, and is almost always asking a male character for explanation, and would almost always certainly know the information she’s asking for, so that the fact that she’s asking indicates that she’s not that good at her job.
  10. An episode goes by that does not pass the Bechdel test.
  11. Lip service is paid to female power or agency or simply the existence of females in this world without, oh, say, actually casting one or giving one something cool to do.
  12. A male character or characters act(s) as white knight to a female character or characters.
  13. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! – A display of homophobia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits!

MPTF: 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MPTF: 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MPTF: 23

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Total Misogyny Points: 27

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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