fashion, pop culture, television

And who am I? That’s one secret I’ll never tell.

Good morning, Upper East Siders. Gossip Girl here. Your one-and-only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite.

Over the past few months, I head this phrase approximately 121 times. I finally finished all six seasons of the beloved teen drama Gossip Girl. In true real New Yorker fashion, once upon a time I lived in a sublet for a few months in Queens (Blair Waldorf would be absolutely disgusted with me). During this time, I only had internet – no cable – so I was left with anything currently streaming online to watch. Netflix hadn’t quite come into its prime (no Amazon joke intended), still in the days of its DVD-queue popularity. Hulu it was — and with not a large selection. So I decided to give Gossip Girl a go. Two seasons in, I moved to a real apartment with cable AND internet, ironically, on the Upper East Side (the much less glamorous part all the way over by the East River), and thus abandoned S & B.

Years later, after we had reached the finale of the ultimate tale of wealth and betrayal in New York City (I personally love the Netflix description of the show. Something to the effect of: “a group of teenagers in Manhattan backstab each other. Repeatedly.”), and I reached a point where I had seen every show that I needed to watch and had access to (waiting on someone with Showtime to give me their login for Masters of Sex, which I’m told I must see), I decided it was time to pick back up with the Upper East Side gang — and I have to say, I’m glad I did.

Gossip Girl was a successful show, because the draw to watch it, was the draw of Gossip Girl (the blog) in the show. We’re never going to live these lives. We’re never going to have such disposable wealth. In the words of Dan Humphrey:

“The Upper East Side was like something from Fitzgerald or Thackeray. Teenagers acting like adults. Adults acting like teenagers. Guarding secrets, spreading gossip… all with the trappings of truly opulent wealth. Membership in this community was so elite, you couldn’t even buy your way in.”

We want to know what that’s like – no matter how realistic or unrealistic it might be. There are several things within this that might entice you in: the drama, the break ups, the make ups, Serena & Blair, Blair & Chuck… and of course, the fashion. There are only a handful of shows in history which are so tied to the fashion that defined them, and there are really only two that come to immediate mind for me: Sex and the City, and Gossip Girl. But while they both had their fill of designer labels, SATC did for Manolo Blahnik what Gossip Girl did for headbands.

As a college student in the height of GG‘s popularity, no show influenced the fashion of me and my peers more than this. Admittedly, I’ve also had a certain place in my heart reserved for fashion influenced by a prep-school vibe, as I was a private school attendee for 13 years. Blazers, and specifically prep-school-esque blazers, never had a bigger moment than during the reign of GG. And don’t even get me started on the Blair Waldorf headband craze. I would equate my experience in a sorority closer to that of Constance than my experience at an all-girls private school was. At the height of GG, I don’t think that there was a girl in my entire sorority who didn’t own at least one Blair Waldorf-esque headband. Even though on screen the characters were wearing the likes of Prada, Ellie Saab, Jimmy Choo and many more, the fashion trends from the show became far more accessible than that of its predecessors. Blazers, plaid, hobo bags, colored tights – the rise of these trends can certainly be attributed to the Queen B herself, Ms. Blair Waldorf (Sorry, S). If B by Eleanor Waldorf were a real thing, no doubt it would have sold out just like on the show. As boho-chic as Serena was, Blair’s wardrobe was classic and timeless, just like her fashion idols Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly (although who made the decision for B to rock those Mary Kate & Ashley waves in season 5 and 6? Tragic. There is also, in my mind, a direct correlation between the quality of hair styling and the success of teen dramas. See: Pretty Little Liars.)

While this show certain had its enticements, it of course, wasn’t without its flaws either. Upon my hours of watching, there were certainly times I thought “maybe I’ll just stop.” Sure, this show wasn’t perfect. I mean, it aired on the CW. Too many characters, too many plot lines… how many times can Blair and Chuck break up and make up? How many times can Serena go back to her party girl persona? How many times do we have to endure Vanessa AKA the worst character ever (thank God she disappears in the last season. Thanks, Dan). What kept me watching was the same motivation the characters had for reading Gossip Girl. I just had to know. I had to know who ends up together. I had to know if a certain someone was Gossip Girl (admittedly I knew who it was due to a popular internet meme, but I still needed to see the reveal). And I have to say, the series finale might be one of the best that I’ve seen (Baby Bass! Serena’s wedding gown!). Above all, it is a entertaining, fun watch. If nothing else, I could spend hours drooling over Serena’s perfect ponytails and Blairs ball gowns… and staring at Chase Crawford wasn’t too difficult either.

….But I do kind of wish Dorota was Gossip Girl.

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celebrity, pop culture

Broadway, Baby.

While I have never covered this topic here before, I fully admit: I am a Broadway addict. I LOVE Broadway. Musical or play, modern or classic — I love it all. It’s an exciting time to be a Broadway fan, and also a New Yorker, and it’s an incredible Broadway season. Today, Tony Award nominations were released, solidifying my belief that this is an outstanding Broadway season. I mean, you have Idina Menzel, Sutton Foster, and Kelli O’Hara all nominated in the same category. Last season was pretty “meh” all around. The only notable shows were Matilda and Kinky Boots, and while they are both still running, I didn’t really have a desire to see either of them. This season, however, there is literally something interesting for everyone, including a lot of notable Broadway, television and movie stars alike taking to the Great White Way. From movie favorites like James Franco, to former Tony winners like Sutton Foster, Broadway is back this season in a big way.

One of the greatest perks of living in New York is that occasionally, when you can afford it, or when the opportunity presents itself, you have the opportunity to see a Broadway show at any time. This spring, I have had the opportunity to see several productions. After winning the lottery on Twitter, I had the pleasure of seeing Book of Mormon for a second time. I initially saw it for the first time with the original Broadway cast, so I was a little apprehensive of what the production would be like sans Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad. However, Nic Rouleau and Ben Platt (currently starring in the Broadway production as Elder Price and Elder Cunningham, respectively) certainly made the roles their own (you may remember Platt as the weird roommate from Pitch Perfect here), and I laughed at the numbers as if it were the first time I was seeing them. Obviously I highly recommend BOM if you’ve yet to see it, but if you can see it with the cast currently on Broadway, even better. Pro tip: if you live in NYC, follow @BookofMormon on Twitter. Occasionally, they’ll tweet out to retweet them for a chance to win lottery tickets to a performance. Literally, all you do it hit RT, and you’re entered to win $30 tickets to the show. It’s amazing, and you are getting tickets that probably cost hundreds of dollars (the people in front of me while I was picking up the tickets were meanwhile paying $400 for theirs).

Next on the agenda was If/Then starring the wickedly talented, one-and-only, Adele Dazeem… aka Idina Mezel. I bought discounted tickets to one of the previews for myself for my birthday to see Broadway royalty AKA Idina and Anthony Rapp in real life. Overall, the musical is worth seeing if that’s why you’re seeing it. The level of talent is outstanding, and Idina took my breath away. But overall, it’s not really my style of musical — you’re not overly invested in the story, and the music isn’t the type of score that you’re going to leave wanting to listen to after. It’s not very catchy, and the songs are mostly forgettable. But, it’s entertaining, and it was certainly worth the price that I paid for the ticket, considering I was pretty much only going to see Idina live.

However, if you have money to spend on a ticket this Broadway season, you must see Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Admittedly, I knew NOTHING about this show when I decided that I wanted to go. All I knew was that the one and only Barney Stinson  Neil Patrick Harris was starring as a glitter-loving, transgendered woman. I am obsessed with NPH’s performance skills. His voice is not only delightful, but effortless. I had to see HEDWIG. So, when the basketball tickets that my boyfriend had purchased for me fell through (in that our team wasn’t in the bracket that we purchased tickets for), he re-sold them and asked what I wanted instead. In place, we went to the show. It was not at all what I expected in the best possible way. When I say that I loved every minute, I am not exaggerating. From the second Hedwig/NPH hit the stage slaying “Tear Me Down,” I couldn’t tear my eyes away. The music is catchy as can be, and it’s been stuck in my head since we saw the show almost two weeks ago. NPH was hilarious and yet poignent at the same time. I did not want this show to end. I was endlessly in awe of NPH’s not only commitment to the role (he has slimmed down so much that I am essentially a worried mother at this point), but his ability to make me forget that I was watching NPH. Aside from a few technical/mic glitches (the entire show is on hand-held mics, and this was previews), there was not a flaw in the production that stuck in my mind. I loved this show so much, that I stage door-ed for the first time since… Spring Awakening in 2007? If you hear the hype about HEDWIG, believe it, and immediately try to get tickets (and also look for the fake, but hilarious programs from the short-lived Hurt Locker: The Musical! under your seat. They reference it several times in the show, and I think I was the only audience member to discover these scattered about on the floor).

Hi, NPH!

Hi, NPH!

Next on the agenda? Cabaret, hopefully. I would love to see Alan Cumming on Broadway (or Eli from The Good Wife, as I had to explain to my mother). Life is a Cabaret, after all.

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television

P.H.I.M.Y.M.D.

Suit up, because you’re in for a long ride.

PHIMYD: Post-How I Met Your Mother Depression. I always knew that when HIMYM finally came to a close after nine seasons, that I would feel a little emotional. There are few shows that I have really watched from start to finish. Sure, I will always identify myself as a Friends die-hard, but I was too young to really watch the whole series live as it aired (it premiered when I was five), and every other series that I can think of that I have watched from start to finish has been on Netflix, HBO Go, etc. Wracking my brain, I think that HIMYM is either one of, or the only, show I have watched live as it airs from start to finish. I remember stumbling upon it in Season 1 with my mom – neither of us had heard of it, but we thought it was hilarious, so we started tuning in every week (this also happened with Happy Endings, which I guess quantifies as a show that I have watched from start to it’s too-soon end). In college, I was lucky enough to become friends with a group of people that also loved HIMYM, and it became referenced so often among us, you might have thought the jokes were actually ours. Last night, we all texted during/after the finale, and we all shared the same thought — how could they do this to us?

I understand why the writers ended it the way that they did. In Seasons 1 and 2, having Ted end up with Robin probably seemed like a great idea (Side bar: I read in this piece that the character of Victoria was placed in just in case the show was cancelled after 1 season. I just want to add that I always loved Victoria and would have been perfectly okay with her being the mother/Ted’s wife). The blue french horn! He shows up at her door! Nothing good happens after 2am! A lot of the shows best moments happened during these seasons, and it was certainly the time when both Ted and Robin, as well as their relationship, were at their best. But we’ve grown, the show has grown, and Ted and Robin’s relationship has certainly grown, and time changes things. The viewers are over their relationship — especially when the last 2-3 seasons were spent convincing us that Trobin (it’s getting to hard to type Ted and Robin) could never be, and convincing us that Barney and Robin were meant to be. I’ve been reading a lot about the finale this morning, and I think what makes myself and my fellow fans most upset are two things: the crumbling of character development, and the likability of the mother.

The finale completely crumbled any character development that had happened in recent seasons, to the point where it was incredibly obvious that the writers had cooked up this finale during Season 1. This was most apparently with how they chose to handle Barney. Barney has probably been developed more than any of the characters. Yes, he still loves laser tag and the Bro Code (which, by the way, Ted ultimately getting with Robin at the end of the series = major violation of the Bro Code), but think of how much we have been through with him — from the search for his father, to his brother’s marriage and divorce, to his own engagement to Quinn ending. The scene at the beginning of the reception really showed this — we’ve never seen Barney happier. I literally laughed out loud when he said “holy grape scotch!” after having the idea to set Ted up with the bass player/mother. Twenty minutes later, we’re back at MacLaren’s with Barney hitting on girls half his age. Like, what the…?

The grape scotch reference was one of my two favorite call backs in this episode. Although there were many, which, even if you’ve had the ending spoiled for you, still make it worth watching. The second callback I loved was the renaissance fair in Ted/Tracy’s (the mother, for those of you who may have forgotten) home. Which brings me to main fan peeve #2 of the finale: we like the mother! We could have easily not liked her — after all of these seasons of build up, if she were a dud, sure, maybe we would have called for Ted and Robin to end up together. But we didn’t. We liked the mother, and we wanted them to be together. Season 9 was only worth watching for those moments where we caught flash forwards of Ted and Tracy. She was delightful. She was nerdy. She was everything Ted needed or wanted — and for a fan base that was nearing its wit’s end with Ted Mosby, she made him likable once again, and made us realize why we love Ted, and why we’ve been so invested in his search for 8 years. The finale showed us that she was not only perfect for Ted (I mean come on, she dressed as an elderly Floridian to match his hanging chad costume!), she was perfect for the group. She certainly passed the front porch test — and I would have loved if the writers would have kept her alive for us to see it. Craig Thomas and Carter Bays giveth, and Craig Thomas and Carter Bays taketh away.

I guess as a fan who invested nine years into the lives of Ted, Marshall, Lily, Barney and Robin, I’m not really sure where to go from here. I’m still going to watch the episodes when they’re on, I’m still going to count it as a favorite sitcom, but I just wish it didn’t all lead back to Ted and Robin after all. With that, a few notes on my favorite moments/episodes/jokes throughout this show that I have been watching since I was (wow) 16 years old (again, damnnn that’s a long time):

  •  Everyone knows that my all-time favorite episode is “The Best Burger in New York.”
  • I loved Lily’s white whale costume.
  • I felt like this was the best acting I had ever seen from Alyson Hannigan. When she cried, I cried.
  • Alyson Hannigan shared on Inside the Actors Studio that her favorite moment from the show was the scene when Marshall finds out his dad died. I would have to agree. This was one of the most raw, emotional moments from the show. It’s such a real thing for a group of friends to have to go through together. This is why the show strikes a chord with us 20 and 30-somethings.
  • Same goes for the fights between Lily and Marshall. They’re almost a little too real.
  • ROBIN SPARKLES. Enough said.
  • The cast breaking out in song. From Marshall’s photo montages to “Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit” (NPH is one of my favorite people, and he does a musical number like no other. Example: his gigs hosting the Tony Awards. Wonder if he’ll host again this year if he’s in a revival?!)
  • Oh, and on the topic of songs — how could I forget the slap bet? (“Ya just got slapped, wo-oh-oh-ohhh”)
  • And on that note, the flashbacks. Like when Barney was a hippie.
  • Puzzles. I’m still waiting for a bar named Puzzles.

I could go on…. but I won’t. All in all, if you’ve never seen an episode (well, first of all if you haven’t seen an episode, I don’t believe you since this has to be one of the most syndicated shows… but I digress), despite this less than glowing review of the finale, you should really watch it. It’s still a great show, and I still love the jokes, the cast and the characters. And every season (except the last one) is available on Netflix.

And with that, Stinson…errrr, Gruber… out.

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This Veteran’s Day I am reminded of one of the best episodes of The West Wing.

Throughout the series, you will notice that Toby’s reverence and respect for America’s veterans is unparalleled. I can only hope there are those in our government today who feel this strongly.

Thank you to all those who have served and continue to serve in the United States Armed Forces.

awards, television

All about the Emmys

Apologies for my hiatus from blogging recently. Ironically, a large portion of my absence is due to the fact that I started a new job working on entertainment. But the television season is back, and so am I. Of course, I typically would have live-blogged the Emmys, but I was actually attending the abysmal performance of the Buffalo Bills vs. the Jets, so I missed the first half of the broadcast. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the awards, of course.

It was certainly an interesting and surprising year for the awards. There were a lot of surprises and upsets – I, for one, am basically referring to the fact that Modern Family only took home two awards. Which, if you ask me is two too many. It’s not that it’s a bad show, it’s just not the best show any more. The first year it was on, yes, maybe it was deserved. It was a new, smart, unique, comedy. But, it’s now tired, and there are some viable competitors to take it on. Specifically, VEEP. VEEP is a smart, unique, quippy comedy that definitely got the respect is deserves last night, with a win for Julia Louis-Dreyfus (her second for VEEP) and a win for Tony Hale. Let’s also talk about how great JLD’s acceptance speech ft. Tony Hale was. If you will recall, JLD also did a bit with Amy Poehler last year when she won. In case you needed further proof of how amazing she is.

(By the way, props to Netflix for tweeting about Tony Hale’s win – especially when it was for a non-Netflix show. This tweet was so well-crafted.)

I would have liked to see VEEP take home the best comedy award, but at least it won something. As for my other bias favorites, I was glad that House of Cards at least took home one award with David Fincher winning Best Director. It is an incredibly well-produced and well-directed series. I was cheering for Robin Wright for Best Actress, but respect for Claire Danes of course. Sadly, no love for Mad Men, when I think that this season was one of their best ever. I was really pulling for Jon Hamm – the audience of Mad Men, after years of making excuses for Don Draper, finally stopped and realized how sad and pathetic Don has become – and Hamm played this transformation perfectly. Alas, we saw one of the biggest upsets in recent years with Jeff Daniels taking home Best Actor for The Newsroom. Seriously, who saw that coming?

Other upsets on the evening included Bobby Carnivale taking home Best Actor in a drama for Boardwalk Empire, in a category which seemingly belonged to Aaron Paul for Breaking Bad. While I think in recent seasons Boardwalk has lost it’s spark (admittedly I fell out of in after season 2), the acting and production quality are still great. In Best Supporting Actor in a comedy we saw Jim Parsons win, and we all collectively yawned. Granted, this was a category where there wasn’t really a favorite to win, but when will America get tired of Big Bang Theory? So over it. I don’t need to watch more than 5 minutes of it to know that I hate it.  CBS programming is stale and tired and needs a serious revamp — it might get a lot of viewers, but is it really bringing anything to the table?

All in all, I think what the real success of the evening is that you can’t say that the night “belonged” to any one show. While Breaking Bad and Modern Family took home the night’s biggest show awards, it’s not like any shows made a sweep. In my view, it reinforces that there’s some seriously good television happening right now in both the realm of comedy and drama. It definitely gave a boost to the industry as a whole (even if you thought the broadcast was weird) and kicked off the new television season. Cheers to a great year of TV. 

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celebrity, television

RIP Cory Monteith

I am genuinely upset about the death of Cory Monteith. So upset, in fact, that myself and a friend of mine had a pseudo-Glee Season 1 marathon on Sunday following the news. Even though I have fallen out of closely following the show, Glee will always have my respect. I remember watching American Idol and seeing the preview for it. I instantly thought “I am SO watching that.”

In high school, I was very involved in music and musicals, and in fact, the only people that I stay in touch with from high school are my friends that I became close with through being involved in theater. Glee finally gave us a show about being “those kids” in high school. I have to say, I really “pulled a Finn” (lacrosse player one year, doing theater the next). I joined the theater clique later on in my high school days, but I never felt more a part of something and more accepted in my teenage years as I did in this community, and no experience in high school taught me to be who I am more. Glee really portrayed this experience. No matter how corny the show can be sometimes, it truly is an ode to being who you are and expressing yourself. Few characters on the show personify this more than the character of Finn, and Cory Monteith portrayed it perfectly – the vulnerability, the uncertainty, and of course, the talent and leadership. I felt like I could have known Finn in my theater circle of friends in high school (and hey, let’s face it, I probably would have had a crush on him).

Certainly, the show will never be the same. It almost feels wrong for it to go on, knowing that from the “old Glee” phase to the “new Glee” phase, Finn was the character that held it all together. But, like in any show business, the show must go on – but it will do so with a heavy heart. Cory will be very sorely missed – but his time on Glee certainly made an impression on not only me, but millions of fans. RIP.

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