- The Super Bowl might as well have been nap time.
- Ellen Page leaves us speechless.
- Russian Doll is so good, but we can’t tell you why.
- We bow down to Lizzo.
- Now both the Grammys and the Oscars are going to be disasters.
- Mazel, Andy Cohen.
Snoozing Through the Super Bowl
Sad to think about all the chicken wings that were wasted on that nonsense.
The Super Bowl is supposed to be the biggest night in entertainment. We’re supposed to laugh at those Budweiser commercials, cry at whatever emotionally manipulative saga Google has concocted to sell its latest data-mining innovation, drop our jaws at Beyoncé’s showmanship, and gamely stifle our burps while cheering on the actual football of it all. The one night a year when those who stand by the insane notion that a sport in which two minutes of gameplay takes about 20 minutes to progress is actually thrilling, and the rest of us who just want to see Clydesdales and Bruno Mars, can gather in harmony and break Domino’s cheesy bread together.
Boy, Super Bowl LVII, you really fumbled that one. (Sports!)
That game was like watching Ambien. Who laced my seven-layer taco dip with Nyquil? The lowest scoring game in Super Bowl history entered halftime with a pathetic point total of 3-0, but that’s OK! Surely things would be livened up by the musical stylings of...Maroon 5. Listen, the band’s halftime show was largely inoffensive, depending on how one feels about a lead singer with tattoos evoking the artistry of a Chipotle bag. (Actually, you know what? We are offended. #JusticeForJanet.)
In the end, it was exactly like the experience of a Maroon 5 song playing on the radio: Nothing you look forward to, but, in the end, you liked it enough, sure, you guess. Things we did not like enough: those commercials. Boy were those bad. The reunion of NFL legends was fun. Andy Warhol probably wins for most unexpected Super Bowl commercial star. And leave it to Sarah Michelle Gellar to naturally rescue things with her charming Olay ad. But aside from Bud Light instigating the world’s most random debate about corn syrup in light beer, we’re hard-pressed to remember anything we saw Sunday night.
That’s a lie. We’ll always remember this phenomenal tweet:
Ellen Page Shows Us How to Use a Platform
In a rare late-night TV moment that allowed a guest to work her way through a quiet space and really say something, Ellen Page appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and powerfully walked the walk. Watch it here.
It Is Such Great Fun Watching Natasha Lyonne Repeatedly Die
It’s episode four when Russian Doll starts to get really good, which is wild, because the Natasha Lyonne-starring Netflix series is spectacular from its first frame. That first frame—Lyonne staring at herself in the mirror of a Lower East Side bathroom during her birthday party—is revisited often during Russian Doll. As in multiple times an episode. Each time Lyonne’s character, Nadia, dies, in fact.
The easy shorthand is to name-check Groundhog Day, with Nadia as an “I’m walking here!” New York type. But that does a disservice to the show’s emotional richness and its mastery of gimmick-as-plot-driver at the hands of co-creators Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland. There’s a mania in Lyonne’s eyes as she tries to figure out what is happening to her, and a sadness as she cycles through stages of desperation, pro-action, and helplessness.
If you’re on social media, you’ve seen vague, yet glowing endorsements for this show that don’t necessarily tell you why it’s so wonderful. With apologies, we’re here to frustrate you even further. To tell you any more about Russian Doll would be to spoil the extreme of pleasures of strapping in for its twists and turns, which really start to careen in that aforementioned fourth episode. It’s the rare Netflix series to actually understand how to use the pacing afforded by streaming and binge-watching to its advantage. And the episodes are all under 30 minutes. In just four hours, you can experience TV greatness! Bless.
Everything she does. All of it. Especially this.
The Grammys and the Oscars Actually Hate Artists, Actors, Audiences…
Award shows honoring art have lately forgotten, or perhaps simply don’t care, that they’re award shows honoring art. Based on the decisions that have been made about the telecasts for the Grammy Awards (airing Sunday night) and the Oscars (Feb. 24), producers seem to hate the musicians and the filmmakers they’re rewarding—and, with growing apparency, the people who watch them, too. I have spent my life obsessed with award shows—ask the Fallons about top family bonding nights “Kevin forced us to watch the 1997 Blockbuster Entertainment Awards” and “I don’t know what a SAG is, but if you shut up already we’ll put it on”—but even I wouldn’t want to watch these things.
From my most recent count, the Grammy Awards only actually hand out two trophies, two-and-a-half tops, during the televised ceremony, in order to turn the proceedings into a veritable concert of the year’s best music. You know what? That makes sense! And it’s the very last thing about it that does!
It came out this week that Ariana Grande, arguably the most famous and celebrated person in pop music right now, will not only no longer be performing at Sunday’s Grammys, but not attending at all. According to reports, Grande didn’t want to say “Thank U, Next” to the Grammys—literally did not want to—but the group made her.
Producers apparently refused to allow Grande to perform her hit song “7 Rings” at the ceremony, eventually coming to the compromise that she could sing it as part of a medley, but only if they choose the second song. Insulted—the same stipulations were not given to other performers—Grande walked away from the event entirely, leaving the Grammys in an awkward position given the fact that the pop star’s face is plastered all over billboards and commercials advertising Sunday’s show.
The buffoonery is head-slappingly similar to what happened last year when Lorde, the only female Album of the Year nominee in addition to be one of the most popular performers in music, was not given a solo performance slot, and therefore declined to appear on stage at all. Grande’s “7 Rings” recently broke the Spotify record for most streams ever in a 24-hour period. The Grammy Awards, which have pivoted to a showcase of popular performers in order to appeal to more viewers, declined to have the most popular singer perform the most popular song at its show. Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich thought he could save face by then throwing Grande under the bus, as if she wasn’t going to set the record straight. No one has to be their own worst enemies. But they always are.
The there’s the Oscars. Those fools. They keep making decisions to pander to audiences—Best Popular Film! Kevin Hart! Only two Best Song performances—and having to go back on them because, it turns out, and you’ll never believe this: a telecast with a 91-year-old history works because of those traditions. Audiences hated those decisions! But this? This is the last straw: They disrespected Allison Janney.
“It breaks my heart,” last year’s Best Supporting Actress winner and Bonafide National Treasure wrote—and then deleted—on Instagram, revealing that the tradition of inviting the previous year’s acting winners to pass on the trophy was not going to be honored at this year’s “We Have No Host So We Need Stars of Arbitrary Levels of Fame to Present” ceremony. It’s asinine, which the Academy seemed to learn when it, once again, experienced intense backlash for the move and was forced to reverse its decision. Now let’s do those Green Book noms.
The Real Newborns of Bravo
Update from last week’s obsession with Andy Cohen’s baby shower: The coven of Housewives assembled have summoned the actual baby! There’s a photo of Baby Benjamin, and it’s adorable. Do we normally care about these things? Marginally. But the idea of fatherhood is so complicated and melancholy for gay men. I’m touched whenever someone takes the steps to make it happen for themselves.
What to see this week:
One Day at a Time: This is the best family sitcom that has aired in a decade. Rita Moreno is in it. As in, Rita Moreno is phenomenal in it. What if instead of “critical hit” this gem just became an out-and-out hit?
Lego Movie 2: The Second Part: Oh no! You “have” to take your child to the movies this weekend because “they” won’t stop talking about how much they want to see Lego Movie 2.
Miracle Workers: Steve Buscemi is God and Daniel Radcliffe is an angel, just like in life.
What Men Want: In this house, we support all middling Taraji P. Henson star vehicles, with the hope that one day she’ll finally get a good one.
What to skip this week:
The Walking Dead: Enough with this one already!
Happy Death Day 2 U: Nope!
Cold Pursuit: The Liam Neeson thriller he told that story while promoting. Don’t you even dare.