Privileged


The Husband:

While we, the children of Saint Clare, have found the time to write about many of the biggest shows on television (and even some small ones), there is only so much time and energy we can spend on this site. The truth is, we watch a whole lot more than what ends up on the site, and since I watch most of these on my own and yet never find the ability to write about them, their absence is mostly my fault. But no matter. For those that fall through the cracks, I have here a grab bag of the 30+ shows I watch in addition to whatever ends up on the site. These are the ones that slipped through the cracks. And hell, I’m sure there are more I’m forgetting (and also not even bothering writing about, which tend to fall under instructional/educational stuff like anything on Discovery), so if you think I’ve forgotten something, please let me know. (And no, I don’t watch any CSI or L&O shows, so don’t even try to get all up in my grill.) Here they are, the missing shows of the 2008-2009 television season, in alphabetical order.

24

I really should have written at least some criticism on this season, but work piled up and I simply didn’t have the time. It started off as the most intelligent season with some of the most compelling political questions being thrown around (welcome to the show finally, “debate on torture”), but by the fourth time Tony twisted his alliance and Jack was infected with the disease, I kind of stopped caring. Great first half of the season, though, and I think Renee is the best new character in a very long time.

Adult Swim (Xavier: Renegade Angel / Superjail! / Squidbillies / The Drinky Crow Show / Metalocalypse / Delocated / Robot Chicken / Etc.)

Thank you, young people of Adult Swim (who I have spent some time with, don’t forget) for freaking my mind week after week, and giving alternative comedy a major boost in America. And for freaking out my wife.

A beacon of normalcy in a world of wackiness.

A beacon of normalcy in a world of wackiness.

Better Off Ted

It took me a couple episodes to latch onto the tone, but once I did I simply couldn’t get enough from this latest product of the mad mind of Victor Fresco. Check out some episodes online, then watch Andy Richter Controls the Universe (his previous show), and I guarantee you some of the oddest network comedy in a very long time. I still think Portia DeRossi is trying to hard, though, and should take a page from the book of Fresco mainstay Jonathan Slavin.

Castle

Bring it on, Nathan Fillion. Hypnotize me with your nostrils and your addictive but borderline-stupid mystery writer-cum-detective series. (Although how weird was that Judy Reyes episode? What the hell, Carla Turk?)

The Celebrity Apprentice 2

So sue me, I liked Joan Rivers. And the addition of the phrase “Whore Pit Vipers” to the television lexicon.

Celebrity Rehab (Sober House) with Dr. Drew

So help me, I can’t stop watching. It’s just a disaster. I will say, though, that I like the drama in the rehab far more than the sober house, as the latter seems to exist simply to destroy any progress the celebrities made in rehab. And now having seen all three of his seasons of Taxi, Jeff Conaway’s fall from grace is fishbowl television at its finest.

Dating in the Dark

Really fun, actually. I hope it gets a second season. I also hope that more matches will be made, and that people stop being massive failures.

Dirty Sexy Money

Everything I needed to say about the failure of the second season of this show can be found on this blog, and it ended its truncated run by turning itself inside-out by revealing that the show’s central mystery, who killed Peter Krause’s father, was a bust since he wasn’t dead after all. What the hell, Dirty Sexy Money? Oh well, your cancellation made room in Krause’s schedule for the much anticipated (by me) adaptation of Parenthood coming to NBC mid-season.

The Goode Family

It took a few episodes to find its footing, but by the end of its sped-up summer run, I was a major fan of the latest Mike Judge effort. (R.I.P. King of the Hill.) Vastly misunderstood by viewers who only watched the first episode, it, just like KOTH, found a middle ground between conservative America and liberal America and found the ability to make fun of both without drawing blood, choosing to love instead of hate. Some of the voice cast was misused (why was my beloved Linda Cardellini in the cast?), but as a Berkeley native, I had a blast relishing in mocking the stereotypes of my own people while rediscovering what it is I love so much about them. The bull dykes were also two of the most original characters of the season.

One Earth isn't just a grocery store, it's a way of life.

One Earth isn't just a grocery store, it's a way of life.

The Great American Road Trip

Any show that has two contestants debating over which is more correct, “y’all” or “youse,” gets major points in my book. A nice and forgettable summer trifle after a long, way-too-hot day. Silly, yes, but I can’t say it was bad. And it was a definite improvement over the similar family-based season of The Amazing Race. (I’m sure The Soup is really grateful for this show, too.)

Heroes

Oh god, kill me now. Volume 4 was a marked improvement over #3, for sure, but I just don’t care about anybody anymore. And yet I feel that I need to keep watching. It’s too late to give up now. There was one great episode this season, though, and that was the flashback one surrounding Angela Petrelli’s stint at a mutant internment camp. Why can’t they all be this good?

Howie Do It

Yeah, I watched it. Shut the fuck up. About one-third of it was funny, and as I watched it on Hulu at work, it’s not like I wasted any of my own time. Howie Mandel is savvier than you think, but I wish he would return to his wilder roots.

How’s Your News

This Parker-Stone produced MTV show revolving around reporters who are developmentally delayed confused the hell out of me initially, but once I realized there wasn’t a mean bone in its body it became a warm bit of fun. I want a second season, dammit. These are some of the most joyful television subjects I’ve ever seen.

I Survived a Japanese Game Show

Better than the first season, but I’m still glad I only watch this online while doing something else.

In the Motherhood

Worst opening credit sequence of the year. Some pretty funny material hidden underneath unfunny slapstick. Horatio Sanz got thin. Megan Mullally couldn’t find a rhythm. I still think Cheryl Hines is oddly hot.

Lie to Me

I unfortunately didn’t start watching this until July, and I wish I hadn’t waited so long. While gimmicky to a fault and not nearly as intelligent as it pretends it is, this Tim Roth vehicle about an FBI specialist who studies the subtleties of the face (OF THE FACE) is clever, compelling and well drawn. I’m not sure about the addition of Mekhi Phifer’s character, but we’ll see how it works out next season, especially with Shield creator Shawn Ryan at the helm of season two.

Life

This cancellation reallllly hurts. One of the unsung gems from the 2007-2008 television, this, the smartest network cop show in recent memory, took its great season one energy and hit the second season with all it had and came up with a compelling, hilarious, devilishly clever and gleefully violent run that was only marred by a major cast shift during the final few episodes. (I’m looking at you, Gabrielle Union. Your presence was what I like to call a massive failure.) A Zen-obsessed cop recently released from prison after serving over a decade for a murder he did not commit, this show had the best cases of them all. It also gave me one of my favorite hours of television of the year in an episode that revolved around a seductive assassin, fertilizer and pigeon aficionados. And at least the major serialized storyline (who framed Damien Lewis and why) got paid off in a major way thanks to the ever-reliable Garret Dillahunt.

lifeshot

My Boys

Putting PJ and Bobby together was a great idea, but your nine-episode seasons are too short to gain any momentum, and the spring training season finale was a bust.

Nitro Circus

Moronic glee.

Numb3rs

Man, did they put Charlie through the ringer. First, he nearly gets his brother killed with a miscalculation on his part, he questions his own validity as a mathematician and then Amita gets kidnapped just as he decides that he wants to marry her. Otherwise, another fine, if somewhat uneventful, of this show that never captured the glory of its über-nerdy first season. Also, thanks for all the great guest star work, but sometimes it gets laid on a little too thick, such as in “Sneakerhead” which brought together Bruno Campos, Patrick Bauchau, Dr. Edison from Bones and Eve. (And points for making the Liz Warner character actually bearable. I fucking hated her in season 4.

Privileged

So apparently the CW thought that their best idea ever was to get rid of this show, the smartest show on the UPN/WB merger since the Buffyverse, one that was technically pulling in bigger numbers than 90210, one that was a delight to watch and deeply addictive, and make room for what is sure to be one of 2009-2010’s worst new offerings, Melrose Place. I gotta tell ya, this cancellation hurts. While I wrote recaps and reviews of the episodes way into its freshman (and only) season, the looming axe, as well as a more heavily serialized structure, turned me off from writing on the final stretch of episodes, and I told myself that I’d only recap them if the show came back. Lo and behold, another Joanna Garcia vehicle has gone down the tubes. I’ll miss you oh so dearly, Ms. Too-Smart-For-The-CW Palm Beach satirical melodrama known as Privileged.

I hate to say this, guys, but I think Robert Buckley might be a showkiller. And that's sad, because he's so damn pretty.

I hate to say this, guys, but I think Robert Buckley might be a showkiller. And that's sad, because he's so damn pretty.

Rescue Me

I thought it was a great season, and thanks to an extended number of episodes (it didn’t air in 2008 thanks to the writer’s strike), the show was able to focus much of its energy on pages-long dialogue-happy battle-of-wits in nearly episode, which to be is melodrama heaven. Gone is the maudlin tone, returned is all the comic energy, and the stories seem to actually progress instead of just flopping around like a dying fish. Leary and Tolan deserve major praise for bringing the show back up to snuff. And now having seen all of Newsradio, I love any chance I get to watch Maura Tierney, although I’m still not going to watch ER. (I am proud to have only seen three episodes of that show ever, being a Chicago Hope fan.) Special shot-out to the Sean cancer storyline, if only to allow Broadway actor Steven Pasquale (husband of Tony winner Laura Benanti) the opportunity to belt out some songs in a handful of hallucination scenes.

Samantha Who?

One of the biggest upsets of the last two years was the rise and fall of this light-hearted, occasionally gut-busting amnesia sitcom that started off the talk of the town, only to waste away its final episodes after the conclusion of the actual television season. Ending on a shitty cliffhanger (Sam’s parents are getting divorced, so Mom is going to live with you and your formerly-estranged-but-now-love-of-your-life lover), we nevertheless found out who caused the accident that brought about Sam’s amnesia, Jennifer Esposito finally made it with the towel boy, and Melissa McCarthy continued to be one of the brightest stars of the year.

Scrubs

Like Privileged, I hesitated to continue writing due to the threat of its cancellation, but now it’s continuing on into yet another season (albeit with some major changes), so I really have no reason to stop writing about it. But let’s just say that while the hurry-up to conclude its many disparate storylines often felt rushed (those two Bahama episodes felt especially odd), the conclusion to J.D.’s years-in-the-telling tale was a lovely way to conclude the season. (No props for the awful awful Peter Gabriel song that accompanied his final walk down the hallway, as laughably bad as it was when I heard it in the remake of Shall We Dance?)

The Shield

I don’t have to tell you how amazing the final season was. Watch it. Seriously. You owe it to yourself to experience one of the hardest hitting cop shows of all time. Like The Wire, a Greek tragedy hammered into modern-day policework with some of the most finely drawn characters around. And oh man, did those final three episodes pack a major punch. Ouch, indeed.

Southland

Quite a bit like The Shield, really, had it followed Michael Jace’s beat cop instead of the Strike Team. A little too dour at times for me to really give a crap, and the sprawling ensemble needs to be cut down (which is what I hear it’s doing for the second season), but this L.A.-centered procedural has a lot going for it, not least of which its pitch-perfect direction. (I especially dig the long shots, including my favorite, which involved a cabin and a K9 unit bringing down a perp.)

Way better than dating Marissa Cooper.

Way better than dating Marissa Cooper.

Surviving Suburbia

A sitcom in serious need of finding one tone and sticking with it, this sometimes-sweet-sometimes-brutally-cruel suburban comedy worked as well as it did because of Saget as well as G. Hannelius’ performance as the precocious daughter. Still, all the jokes about disabled people, pregnant teenagers and strip clubs really didn’t mesh together with the clichés of the genre.

Survivor: Tocantins

I love Survivor, but this was one of the most boring seasons in its ten-year run. I don’t think I gave a shit about one person, and I simply couldn’t find anything compelling to write about. A waste of a good location.

True Beauty

The right person won, the losers got (mostly) schooled in this trick show designed to expose the douchery involved in modeling, Ashton Kutcher made another heroin-like show, and I concern myself for months with how they can pull the trick off a second time in the next season.

The Unusuals

When grading a cop show, I tend to focus on three things — the tone, the characters and the cases. A bizarre, pessimistic yet comedic take on all those wacky cops we’ve seen throughout the years all thrown together (one is deathly afraid of…death, one has a brain tumor, one talks in the third person, one is a closeted socialite, etc.) pushed into some remarkably dark territory, The Unusuals had tone and characters down pat, but suffered at the hands of some DOA storylines. But oh man, did the tone ever make up for most of the show’s shortcomings. Great ensemble cast, too, although I would have recast Eddie Alvarez.

Rather unusual.

Rather unusual.

Worst Week

A breezy and often hilarious slapstick comedy based off of a British hit, it could never regain its momentum after moving away from the initial “week” of the title. Kyle Bornheimer is a true find and made the more unbearable misunderstandings and embarrassing moments of the show (of which there were many) all the more palatable. I’m not the biggest fan of comedy based around humiliations, but this show found a likeable ability to have its characters not completely despise each other at every moment. This was, to say the least, very refreshing. Big points for giving me the biggest network TV laugh of the year (when Bornheimer wakes up his brother-in-law only to be thought a murderer) but major negative points for pushing back a major character-based episode into a weekend spot months after the show had already ended its run.

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The Husband:

After nearly two decades away from the Smith family, Megan’s mother (Sharon Lawrence) finally returns to Florida to wreak confusion and revive long-dormant emotions in the Smith clan. The ex-alcoholic father seems happy to take her back despite being gone for 16 years (I guess AA really does work wonders), while Megan is under the (very rightful) belief that the woman has no right to reassert her as a parent after abandoning her as a seven-year-old.

(And where’s sister Lily during all this? Apparently, she rebounded from her ill-advised tryst with Will [who’s now dating Megan] and impulsively eloped with her skeezy ex-boyfriend, Sleazy Sammy.)

While keeping her mother at a very long arm’s length, Megan nonetheless warms up ever so slightly to her, but is thrown for a loop when her mother reveals that she will not be flying back out of Florida after her and her Arthur’s 30th high school reunion, but will be sticking around for an indeterminate length.

Sharon Lawrence, the highest compliment I can give you is that you look like Susan Sarandon in this picture.

Sharon Lawrence, the highest compliment I can give you is that you look like Susan Sarandon in this picture.

As this show has progressively moved away from being the Sage and Rose Baker show (which it basically was for several weeks) with Megan just standing there looking confused/enraged/disappointed, I think it’s done a very good job at really fleshing out Megan and her family as true prime-time characters. I think this is important, especially to this show, because sometimes Megan does things that may seem problematic, inadvisable or just plain wrong, and giving her a clusterfuck of her own unique catalysts (friend Charlie included) explains away some of her quirkier qualities.

I do wish the drama would have been handled with a little more “melo-” during this episode, because when your mother returns after 16 years of being away, you’d think the reunion would be a little more explosive. This show isn’t really about the BIG EMOTIONS, though, so I appreciate them sticking to their more low-key guns.

Rose and Sage, meanwhile, get their own cute little romantic stories this week after being pounded with all the Megan-wants-you-to-study-harder-so-you-can-get-into-college for so many episodes. For them, it’s a nice little respite, especially when one of their romantic interests happens to be someone I know from my personal life.

Oh, Nacho, youre so good at . . . whatever it is your doing.

Oh, Nacho, you're so good at . . . whatever it is you're doing.

While Sage continues to flirt-fight with new house chef Louis, Rose, Marco and Rami try to get her to admit that she actually likes the roguish Spanish-speaking hottie (sorry Ignacio, if that’s how they’re going to write your character, that’s how I’m going to describe you) by having Rose do her own bits of flirting with him. (As this show has a healthy sense of humor, none of the flirting does anything other than make Rose look like a fool.) Sage, confused, decides to prove that Rose isn’t actually into Louis by having a cute boy from school woo her with flowers (and product in his hair!) and just all around be into her (because she’s totally into him). Rose has her own ploy for Sage, though, when she pretends that Louis is fired, simply to have Sage finally admit that she has eyes for Louis.

See? Cute stuff, right? Nothing like the psycho-drama of weeks past. Not that I don’t miss all the drama, but we definitely needed a little break.

Megan’s own personal issues aside, she also decided to take Will up on his offer to write a prospective article for his father on rich people and their charities, but she makes a fool of herself by aggressively interviewing a tobacco heiress who is sponsoring a no-smoking charity. This wouldn’t be much to point out, except for the fact that the heiress is played by Juliana Tyson, Shelley Long’s daughter, who starred in USC’s 2007 college production of Tony Kushner’s Angels In America, which my sister just happened to have directed. So yes, this episode officially had two actors my family personally knows.

I’m a name-dropping whore.

The Husband:

So, what’s been going on over on The CW on the glorious show known as Privileged? I wish I hadn’t let the episodes pile up on me so hard, because I do think the show deserves as much attention as it can get. I’m glad to say that I finally got my wife to start watching this show with me, and as there are only seven episodes left after its premium Tuesday night spot is taken over by the return of Reaper (woo-hoo!), I hope she’ll stick around for the rest of the season.

Rose & Sage

While Sage has continued her pro-career and anti-school stance and even got the two Baker Twins their own publicist (Kathy Najimy, still rocking it hardcore over on King of the Hill), she becomes upset with Rose over two inevitable things:

1. Rose really does want to succeed in school despite that fact that she is far less intelligent than Sage.

2. Rose is turning out, in public circumstances, to be a better celebrity and personality than Sage, being a better person, being prettier and having a fantastic singing voice.

One of these things is more talented than the other.

One of these things is more talented than the other.

Putting some of their fame on hold, they both focus back on their schoolwork, but after Rose gets a “D” on an English essay, she becomes freaked out that she will never get her grades up to the level that Megan is trying to get them to. Stealing the answer key for an upcoming history exam, Sage happens upon a very clever way to get the answers into the classroom and in front of Rose — design them onto a specially made purse with the letters of the answers making a pretty, multi-colored and non-obvious spiral. (Genius!)

Megan finds out about the purse just in time to get it out of the classroom before the test starts, resulting in her grounding Rose “for infinity.” When the grades finally come in, though, Megan lets Rose off the hook, as no matter how many issues Rose may have, she’s just a sweet girl who lets things freak her out too easily.

Laurel

Finally getting her own story, Laurel allows Megan to write a biography on her life, but only if she begins to control the content coming in. Megan decides to go a little rogue from the preset ideas Laurel has and goes into deep research on the life of Ms. Limoges, happening accidentally upon a very big secret — Laurel had an affair with a lawyer while her husband was away in Vietnam, and then pretended that the resulting baby (i.e. Rose and Sage’s dead mother) was her husband’s upon his return from the war. Laurel mistakes Megan’s uncovering of this secret a way to get an upper hand on their relationship via blackmail, but soon realizes that Megan would never be that evil.

Awww, old people in love.

Awww, old people in love.

Instead, she decides to visit her ex-lover in Santa Barbara (Michael Nouri, Summer’s father on The O.C.), where she tells him the truth. Learning that he has a new family, the lover follows Laurel back to Palm Beach, where they may be able to make their love work again.

Megan

Megan, sort of recovering over the last few episodes after a ridiculous amount of drama regarding her asshole sister and her ex-alcoholic father, finally reaches a non-fighting understanding with best friend Charlie (who is still secretly in love with her) and finally begins dating Will the Next-Door Billionaire Pretty Boy after accidentally outing him and his identity to his employer (who did not realize he was paying a billionaire minimum wage to take photos for him and get him coffee).

You probably should have told me I was severely underpaying you.

You probably should have told me I was severely underpaying you.

Things become complicated when Will is offered the chance to do a five-month photo shoot in Brazil (longest photo shoot ever!), and had apparently known that already when he asked Megan to be his girlfriend. Megan gets pissed at this and confronts him on his assery — you have to admit, it’s kind of fucked up — but he says that had he not asked her to be his laaaaaaady, she may have found somebody else to bang while he was away. Now that he doesn’t have the photo shoot after all — he was somebody’s second choice, technically — he tries his damndest to get back on Megan’s good side, going so far as to use his wealth to bring New York City to her, including pastrami sandwiches from Carnegie’s, a chestnut vendor and a big fucking huge Christmas tree for the mansion’s backyard. (Awwwww…)

Megan is starting to let Palm Beach cloud the logic center of her brain a little bit more recently, but that was bound to happen sooner or later. She’s becoming more like the twins while the twins are evolving into better people, and by episode’s end I think we’re going to see another situation, like when Megan’s college friend came to visit, where someone from Megan’s past points out that she is kind of losing her uniqueness. If that’s not an interesting tale to you, then the show probably isn’t for you anyway.

Special Mention – Ignacio Serrichio

Last episode, Sage begins to harass/flirt with Marco’s new kitchen assistant, Louis, who is played by none other than Ignacio Serrichio. The fun this here is, I know Ignacio personally. (He actually goes by “Nacho,” but I have a tendency to call people their full first name unless otherwise requested.) Born in Argentina, he spent time studying at Syracuse (I believe) before he transferred to my SoCal university, where we both worked on the student-directed production of Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park (he played Victor Velasco while I did tech and ran the sound board). Later he stole the show on the university’s mainstage in Neil Simon’s Rumors (a brilliant show directed by a professor who was sort of a mentor to me, as he took an interest in my writing/criticism and did an independent study with me during my senior year). Ignacio also did a great and special small-stage production of John Leguizamo’s Freak (apparently getting permission from Leguizamo himself) that I covered for the school paper as a favor to him. He’s definitely a great guy with a lot of confidence and talent, and he’s a lot of fun to be around. I don’t think he ever graduated from my university as he was cast on General Hospital while he was still a student, but if anyone was to come out of the shows I saw of his and make a career out of it, it would be him.

He followed a short stint on General Hospital with a guest spot on an early and minor episode of House (surprising the hell out of me when I saw his name on a major network show), and then a role in a small religious film. I didn’t see much from him for a few years, but apparently he not only returned to GH for a spell but also did six episodes on Ghost Whisperer, which I do not watch nor have I ever watched.

Nacho, cooking up cassoulets and turning up the heat on Privileged.

Nacho, cooking up cassoulets and turning up the heat on Privileged.

But now, he’s been given a very good, primo role on a critically acclaimed (and kind of middle-of-the-ratings) show, and now that Sage has her eyes on him (despite all their bickering) a very fun, romantic role. He’s a suave motherfucker, let me tell you, so this is definitely my favorite of his TV performances. (His role in Rumors, still, is the best thing I’ve ever seen him do.) He’s a gifted comic actor, so this arc better pan out or I’m going to cry foul to Privileged if they waste such a good talent.

There you go. Another edition of “The Husband name-drops somebody.” Believe me, I have plenty more.

The Husband:

No good deed goes unpunished, and no bad deed goes away completely. At least, that’s what Privileged has been getting at for a few weeks now, culminating in this episode heavy on family interaction and parallels between the Smiths and the Bakers.

Megan decides that in order for the twins to achieve their college goals, they have to beef up their extracurricular activities, so she signs them up for Once Upon a Dress, a charity that helps takes used dresses and gives them to a selection of public high school girls to wear to their dance. Rose and Sage are disgusted by the ugly hand-me-downs, but agree in order to receive a signature from the charity’s leader on their volunteer sheet. Outside the public high school, Megan spots somebody she hasn’t seen in years – her own father.

You see, Megan has kept it quiet so far that she is back in Florida after college and a failed New York writing career, and this includes not telling her alcoholic father. Worried that he may have spotted her, she decides to visit him at the docks where he works as a boat cruise tour guide, only to discover that he is 18 months sober and is looking/acting better than ever. With the permission of an out-of-town Laurel, she invites her father over to Chez Baker for a close personal dinner.

Three little maids from school are we!

Three little maids from school are we!

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned, as Megan’s father invites Lily as a bit of a buffer, Lily invites Will the Next-Door Billionaire Pretty Boy, and Rose and Sage invite themselves instead of working on the dresses.

What I found particularly interesting was how much Rose connected to Papa Smith having only seen him for a fleeting second outside of the high school, telling Sage that she imagines him to be soft-spoken and have a good smile, only to have Sage tell her that she’s describing their own dead father. It seems that despite their assurances that they only need each other to survive, Rose is just as damaged as Megan in the parents-being-gone department – Mama Smith ditches the family when Megan was seven under circumstances that are still mysterious and argued over – and could be a good counterpart of loneliness to Megan’s crappy love life.

At the dinner, Megan is pissed that Charlie would ditch her and the dinner to which she invited him – as her own kind of buffer against Papa Smith and bitchy sister Lily – but has no idea how explosive the dinner is going to get. While Lily continues to be her argumentative, bitchy self, Sage notices that Lily is absent-mindedly wearing the tennis bracelet she stole from Rose during the pool party weeks earlier (you know, the one that Rose lied about having lent out to a friend so as to not have the Smith Sisters battle each other verbally once again) and all hell breaks loose. Rose tries to protect her decision to lie about the tennis bracelet, while the immature Lily storms off, and then can’t even defend her theft to sort-of-boyfriend Will the Next-Door Billionaire Pretty Boy, leading them to break up.

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Honey, you're interrupting this delightful conversation about creme brulee.

In the kitchen, Papa Smith is having a conversation with Marco the personal chef about crème brûlée when Megan comes to apologize for their personal night getting so out of control. Papa Smith understands, but he accidentally lets slip that despite Megan’s request, Charlie had informed him of Megan’s return to Florida almost immediately after it happened. Why would Papa Smith pretend to not know this information during that conversation at the docks? Because he understands that he was once a very horrible father to both Megan and Lily and didn’t want to be a disappointment to her, basically allowing her to make the first move in their reconciliation.

People are all about change on Privileged, and it’s energizing to see a show deal with it in such mature terms. Papa Smith isn’t disappointed in Megan for not telling him about her FL return and instead is trying his best to be everything he wasn’t before she left for college. There are bigger fish to fry than simple petty arguments, which is something which Lily is extremely adept at sticking to. I have a hard time understanding why Lily and Charlie are so mad at Megan all the time for apparently being self-centered/selfish, because I see it as Megan acting like a responsible adult and knowing that her tutoring job could make or break her, and while that may push aside some of her personal life, they should understand that she is trying her damndest to be a mature human being about all the facets of her life. That’s what made the final confrontation with Charlie work on more than one, as Megan isn’t wrong for doing what she’s doing in FL but can’t seem to hold onto her friends, and Charlie is letting his secret romantic interest in her override his own sensibilities. (Bonus points for Megan calling Charlie a “dick,” which is not a word I thought you could use on a network show at 9 p.m., but hey, I’m all for progress.)

I also think it’s just about time for Megan to give up on trying to help Lily be anything other than what she is, because as they say, you can’t save somebody who doesn’t want to be saved. There are only so many times Megan can put up with her sister’s bullshit and unnecessary swipes without it truly taking a piece out of her. Take this phone conversation when Lily informs Megan that she will be present at Chez Baker for the dinner.

Lily: Don’t expect me to be nice.
Megan: I never do.

What sisters talk like that?

And as for the Baker Twins and their charity? Sage decides that the dresses they took home to alter are so hideous that they start ripping them apart, trying to fix them as much as they can and ignoring the help offered by their butler Rami.

“Yeah, Diane Von Furstenberg? She taught me how to top-stitch when I was 10.” – Rose

Because they spent so little time working on the actual dresses due to the explosive Smith dinner down below, they decide to give up and buy brand new dresses for the seven public high school girls, pissing off Pam the charity worker in the process for missing the point of the charity entirely. But the high school girls themselves are ecstatic at being able to wear designer garments and are very thankful to the Bakers, leading Pam to sign their volunteer sheet.

“Every girl deserves one night where they get to feel like a queen, and the best way to feel like a queen is to wear Alexander McQueen.” – Sage

I’m hoping that upcoming episodes can soften Sage a bit more, or at least delve into her damaged psyche a bit, because while I like her character and the actress, the Blairitude is really starting to grate, and not in the interesting way of story conflict. It just hurts my brain.

Quick Note: Why is Tim Burton’s Batman listed on IMDB as one of the recommendations for those who watch this Privileged? I know that engine is a little faulty, but Batman? Really?

The Wife:

I don’t watch this show, but I would like to note that Prom Gown donation programs are really cool. A couple of girls at my high school made that their charity every year and lead dress donation drives for The Princess Project so that underprivileged girls in The Mission District and in Richmond and Oakland could afford to go to their high school proms and feel like princesses for a day.

I may complain about how silly the high school dance plots on 90210 are, but I like the very John Hughesian idea that everyone, no matter how poor, should be able to feel like a princess at prom and not have to resort to making a shitty dress like Andie in Pretty in Pink. (Seriously, that dress is fugly.) So while Once Upon a Dress is not a real prom dress charity, check out The Cinderella Project for information about where you can donate prom dresses in your area. Most of these programs will only take gowns less than 2 years old (so that the girls who get them don’t look out of date and therefore aren’t laughed at by their peers for it), so if you, your friends or your daughters have any prom dresses that they might be willing to give to another girl so she can have a special night, please do so.

The Husband:

Here it is, the first episode of Privileged that fell a bit flat for me, and I just can’t quite put my finger on it.

Actually, that’s not true. I can definitely put my finger on it. I just like stating the proximity of my finger in correlation to “things.” (Huh?)

The central plot – as in the one referenced in the episodes title – involved nothing less than the Baker’s main source of income, grandmother Laurel’s empire of Limoges Cosmetics. Desperate to find a youthful representative for her cosmetics line, Laurel takes Megan’s suggestion that she should hire her very own granddaughters to be the face of the company and participate in photo shoots. Why would Megan suggest this? Because while attending what she thought would be a very nice Baker family dinner, she notices that there is no connection between the Bakers at all, then on either side of a very long table on their respective laptops and Sidekicks.

But Megan immediately regrets the decision when she discovers that in order to be involves with Limoges, the girls will have to do photo shoots and press conferences around the world for the next four weeks, which without question makes Megan’s life as their tutor extremely difficult. Confronting Laurel on the issue, Megan is torn to shreds by the Baker matriarch for not doing her job around their schedule and for attempting to take credit for the idea to use Sage and Rose for the cosmetics line (which was her idea, but that’s beside the point with Laurel).

“She went all Mommie Dearest on me.”

I’m glad that Megan was able to stand up for herself, but all it did was nearly get her fired. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on which character you are) the test photo shoot they do at the house becomes a disaster when the family’s disconnect comes across painfully clearly through the camera, a camera wielded by none other than ANTM’s Nigel Barker. (A wise one, Barker quickly realizes that no matter how talented he is, his camera never lies.) Laurel tells Megan to forward the bad news to the girls, but not before lightening up regarding her earlier extreme bitchiness, confessing that for so long that whenever she looked at Sage or Rose, all she ever saw was her dead daughter, and when she finally got over that the teens were too old to give a shit about her anymore.

If Tyra were here, shed be telling you all to smile with your eyes!

If Tyra were here, she'd be telling you all to smile with your eyes!

Megan goes to tell the girls the bad news, to which Sage explodes in an emotional tirade, blaming Megan for their shortcomings (don’t know where she got that idea, but okay) and Laurel for being such a pushover.

There’s something I have to address about certain shows and their respective characters. Sage is joining the ranks of a few very horrible people on television who know no filter to their Blairitude and say awful, unforgivable things with such menace that they override any of their redeeming qualities. This is true of Blair on Gossip Girl most of the time (hence me calling it Blairitude, obviously), as well as Pete Campbell on Mad Men. Seriously, I’m not a violent person, but if anybody talked to me the way these characters talk to their friends and loved ones (Campbell, don’t throw your wife’s fucking turkey dinner out the balcony without being prepared to face the consequences), I would not hesitate to slug them. They’re that obnoxious sometimes, and I definitely expected more from Megan than to just stand there at take it. (Luckily, Rose was there to be the sweet girl she is and calm her down.)

In the B-story, Megan struggles with the fact that hottie headmaster Jacob Cassidy is now referring to what they do as being a couple, which only gets more confusing when one of his exes comes into town for a few days and takes up most of his attention. She settles upon learning that he has no feelings for this ex, Emily, but then flips the script when she discovers that Rose and Sage know this mysterious Emily. How? Because she was a senior at their school the year before. Furious that Jacob would date a student, she breaks it off with him in his office just before a half-naked Emily can come out of the closet and reveal that, if anything, Jacob had a whole lot of feelings for his ex. (Or, really, one really big feeling.)

She reveals her breakup to best friend Charlie, but it’s too late, for he is trying to kill his longtime crush on her by avoiding Megan at all costs as well as accepting a date to a Jack Johnson concert (seriously, do all Floridians like this musical toolbelt?) from crab shack coworker. Thus, Megan is left alone with advice-giving gay personal chef Marco at the low-rent dinner she planned in order to regain friendly contact with Charlie, complete with a chili dog and a bowl of tater tots. Sadness.

There was really nothing wrong with the episode, but there wasn’t a great deal of right, either. Every bit of information (other than the breakup with headmaster Jacob) had a been-there-seen-that air about it, and there was pretty much no forward momentum for any of the stories. Sage is still a stuck-up bitch, Laurel still has no idea how to act like a respectful human being, Charlie is still pissed at Megan for her recent self-centered attitude and Megan can’t seem to juggle all of the aspects of her life without at least dropping a couple balls. (That sounds dirty.) It seems that from the promo for next week, though, I will have my wish, centering on a Baker-thrown dinner involving everyone plus Megan’s estranged sister as well as her father, who so far doesn’t know his daughter is even back in Florida yet.

At least we can pretent were perfect!

At least we can pretend we're perfect!

A Privileged quickie while we catch up . . .

The Husband:

Privileged has always had some interesting family dynamics, and that appeared on this episode in spades. Sage and Rose continue to be a very formidable team, as each have their own specific quirks that make them less than ideal, but when activate together, Wonder Twins-style, they’re kind of unstoppable, even to the forces of one Megan Smith. Rose is sweet but disarmingly naïve, while Sage is kind of brilliant but devious and a bitch. This episode they threw a big pool party extravaganza, roping into their mischief a light poisoning and Smith family uber-drama.

When Rose convinced Megan to invite Lily, Megan’s estranged sister, to the party, we of course all knew it would end in disaster, but I wasn’t expecting it to happen the way it happened. Since Lily is an immature handful a lot of the time, I didn’t think that she and Megan would get along so well and actually have the ability to talk about their problems, but then the machinations of the plot came into focus — after Megan and Lily have a heart-to-heart in the twins’ room, Rose discovers that her tennis bracelet is missing. Megan then confronts Lily right in the middle of the party and takes her down, saying that it would be best if they cut off contact for good. Lily storms off in a huff leaving Megan to feel horrible, which lead to feeling even more horrible when Rose realized that the tennis bracelet was actually loaned out to a friend. Poor Megan. Poor Lily.

Ah…but this show always has another trick up its sleeve, because at episode’s end we find out that Lily did, in fact, steal the tennis bracelet, and that Rose just wanted the Smiths to get along so well that she was willing to lie and part with one of her valuables. Never judge a book by its cover, the episode says, but at the same time you could just as well be right if you happen to do so. Interesting for a teen soap, no?

I have to say, though, that, even after she got hives as a result of two scheming high school enemies poisoning her with some muscle relaxing medicine, Sage was looking pretty damn good in her bathing suit outfit. Hey, I can say that! She may be playing a high schooler, but the actress is 21! It’s totally okay!

Lauren Conrad continues to be completely useless at being herself.

Lauren Conrad continues to be completely useless at being herself.

(No points for having Lauren Conrad showing up in the episode and then not even making a point of it. I may hate everything Hills-related, but I have an odd affection for Conrad herself.)

The Husband:

Privileged is officially my favorite new show. I know it’s a little early to be saying that, what with The Ex List, Life On Mars, The Eleventh Hour, Kath & Kim, My Own Worst Enemy and those two Sunday night CW shows that nobody has heard of not having aired yet – and of course, the mid-season brings such projects as Whedon’s Dollhouse – but this is quickly becoming must-see TV for me, a guilty pleasure that is now becoming simply a pleasure. No more watching this online: I’ve got to watch this bad boy in my living room (which is actually high praise coming from me).

It’s smarter and funnier than you think it is. It’s more adult than you think it is. It’s better acted than you think it is. And until you watch it, it’s better than you think it is.

I had to catch up very quickly with two episodes in order to make this post relevant to anybody, so it’s yet another block discussion (which won’t became a habit with this show, I can almost promise).

In the third episode of the season, Megan as a tutor is thrown for a loop when it is becomes known that Rose, one of her two teenage girl charges, may be getting held back for the new school year, having to repeat her freshman year. She had her twin sister Sage have gotten it into their heads that grades don’t matter as far as college is concerned as long as your family is rich, and they believe they have proof, having been told by high school senior Parker that he did that very same thing. Trouble is, grades do actually matter, even if you are rich – yes, a boatload of money definitely does help, but not if you’re getting below a C-average, morons – and that by episode’s end they find out that Parker is a fucking liar and didn’t get into Brown. Whoops.

What do you mean I cant get in to Brown with nothing but a million-dollar smile?

What do you mean I can't get in to Duke with nothing but a million-dollar smile?

As a result, Megan wants to institute a new level of enforcement when it comes to homework and study – which Rose happily accepts but Sage outright rejects – but first things first. She must go into the headmaster’s office and bargain for the future of Rose’s future. It goes far better than she planned, because the headmaster is a hot guy in his late 20s-early 30s, taking over for his father who had “a mild heart attack” (probably due to having to run a school inhabited by about 500 people just like Sage). He almost immediately propositions her for a date, but she is reluctant to date Hot Headmaster at first.

“It just feels like a whole Andrew McCarthy movie gone to DVD. It’s a bad idea.” – Megan

By the next episode, Megan and the headmaster will have started their fourth date, so now Megan has a complete love triangle going on: Charlie (who adores her unrequitedly), Next-Door Billionaire Pretty Boy and Hot Headmaster. And this is just three episodes into the season.

Why no, I dont want play naughty schoolgirl with you. Why do you ask?

Why no, I don't want to play naughty schoolgirl with you. Why do you ask?

Though some hijinks ensue – Rose decides to put off her new study regiment for one day in order to attend a kick-ass boat party, and just as Megan is intervening, she gets stuck on the boat just as it goes out into the water – the episode settles back into calmness nicely by the end, leaving us with the very true theme that no matter how smart and right they think they are, teenagers don’t know shit.

In the next episode, they turn up the After-School Special dial way up and deal with Rose’s budding sexuality. While Sage is still a virgin – yeah, Sage, most guys consider chicks with high doses of bitch in them to be sort of undateable – Rose actually lost her virginity already, and now wants to make the second time around special. Problem is that Max, her ex that she stole back from the girl that stole him away from her in the first place, got a bit of “experience” in him during their separation. So what’s Rose’s solution? Buy a porno called The Porn Identity, of course!

“Who buys porn anymore? It’s all free online!” – Charlie missing the point

Megan tries to convince Rose to slow down with Max, but Rose ain’t much of a thinker, and so when Max comes over for some “studying,” it seems like Megan has failed her charges once again.

Meanwhile, Sage is bored (why are rich people always so bored on TV and in movies? Go all Bucket List everyday, why don’t you?) so she decides to continue being a psycho bitch and tracks down Megan’s estranged sister Lily to dig up some dirt. Lily, the dumber and sluttier of the Smith sisters, works at a local hair salon run by (the fabulous) Leslie Jordan, who has made a career in the last decade simply showing up on TV shows and being fabulous (Hidden Palms, Will & Grace, etc.). Lily brings Sage to a bar (unaware the girl was 16), but quickly sees right through Sage’s ruse and tells her that no matter how much she may dislike her sister, she still respects her, and that Sage isn’t going to get anything as far as leverage is concerned. Sage, angered at the lack of said dirt on Megan, storms huffily out of the bar, only to be mugged in an alleyway. (Fail!) So she finds a payphone (ew!) and calls Rose, who is just about to be nailed by Max the Douchey Senior.

“You’re at a payphone?! Do you have any Purell on you?” – Rose

Sage’s own evilness, turns out, actually helped Megan, because Rose stops the Max Douchey Senior lovemaking in order to rescue her sister, and when Max the Douchey Senior objects, Rose realizes that Megan was right all along – he only wanted her for vag-pounding. (Sorry for the vulgarity. It’s early and I felt that was the best way to describe how a teenage boy’s mind works. Kind of like Superbad.)

I know in describing this show that it sounds all melodramatic and pious, but it’s wittier than that. You really have to watch it. I like any show where they use the word “slutbag,” and I love how Marco the Personal Chef is basically the unofficial bartender/psychiatrist of Chez Baker, especially whenever he’s talking to Next-Door Billionaire Pretty Boy’s crush on Megan.

“Guys like you don’t end up with girls like Megan. Maybe at the end of the movie, but not yet.” – Marco

Guys like me, however, will be her fabulous best friend forever.

Guys like me, however, will be her fabulous best friend forever.

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