Good morning! I took a bit of a sabbatical for personal reasons, but I’m back and writing and maybe I’ll even share some of that at some point. So, I guess, here’s the past month of things!
I am a Succession stan, so Cousin Greg’s new video is the only thing I have the capacity to care about right now. Congrats to Nicholas Braun on his Emmy nomination!
I started Bunheads, finally. There’s really no excuse for the fact that I hadn’t seen it, Amy Sherman-Palladino being my problematic fave and all. It’s basically like, “What if Stars Hollow but…California? And dancing!” but it’s enjoyable as everything else she puts out. I’m clocking the recycled references. And Sutton Foster holds it down as our Lorelai proxy—not an easy feat!
So…did you know that they have original press photos from movies and TV shows on eBay? I may or may not be lurking on every single one feat. Niles Crane.
I’m watching every version of A Star Is Born in chronological order right now and it is an absolute journey. They’re all available on HBO Max.
John Legend’s WTF is a must-listen podcast episode. I can’t wait to check out his new album, Bigger Love, which has been out for a while, but since I listen to nothing but podcasts, I’m usually a few weeks behind the curve.
On that note, Jim Carrey was recently on WTF as well. He’s a modern sage and humanity doesn’t deserve him. I’m looking forward to reading his book, Memoirs and Misinformation.
As someone who has been on quite the quarantine drinking roller coaster, I’m interested in finding alternate ways to treat myself that still feel decadent. I’ve heard really good things about Seedlip, a brand of non-alcoholic distilled spirits. It’s a UK company, but apparently tons of bars in NYC stock it. I may or may not have bought the bundle…will report back.
This might sound insane, but I’ve recently rediscovered my deep and abiding love for Taco Bell. As someone with Food Issues™️, I haven’t really eaten fast food in about a decade, but I have opened my heart back up to my childhood fave. If you know what to order, it can actually be one of the healthiest fast-food chains, and it’s definitely got the best and most varied vegetarian options. The best part? You could pay for a full meal with the loose change you find in your couch. Get thee a bean burrito and a spicy potato taco.
We lost a real one last month. Rest in Power, Rep. John Lewis. This man devoted his life to service and the Civil Rights Movement, and I’m humbled to have shared the planet with him for 28 years. I do worry that including this news item in this sort of post is inappropriate, but it truly is something that has affected me recently, and I want to leave the tributes to those more eloquent and informed than I am.
Everlane just added some amazing new styles! The button-fly jeans are everything.
The No-Spend Month has been going…okay. I’ve definitely spent way less than I normally would, but I just went to Target and kind of blew it. But there were penguin-shaped catnip toys on clearance for like, $1! How can I not get that for Della? I may need to get her these, because how freaking cute are they? I mean, I also bought a Hearth & Hand wall shelf (I can’t find the link!), because self-control is hard, guys. And it matches my bathroom! When my spending freeze is over, I’m for sure getting this cactus.
I just discovered this kiddo shop on Amazon and my ovaries are practically jumping out of my body.
The Marie Kondo show is out! I KonMari’d years ago, but it’s so nice seeing other people catch on to what is truly the best organizational system you’ll ever try. Nothing else works. Clutter and “organized chaos” are not cute. It’s not “artsy” to be bogged down by possessions. Especially if you have a family, it’s so essential and time-saving to have a clean, organized space. Doing KonMari has literally improved my mental health and sense of peace. Try it!
2017 is over and frankly, BYE GIRL. What a rough year. I went from severe election depression, to a Mexican vacation, to not knowing WTF I was doing with my life, to going to grad school. The transition was rough, but not just for me. This year has also, obviously, been an actual trash-fire for the entire country.
But apart from praying for mercy from our overlords, there were a few enjoyable things about 2017. I went to Cancún and Atlanta for the first time, and got to spend two weeks in L.A., which I proudly yet undeservedly consider my homeland. I dove even deeper into my comedy obsession, and turned it into a final paper on feminism and comedy writing (in which I got to use the quotation “Men are a cancer! God made a mistake!“). I binged so much TV that it should be considered a crime against (my own) humanity. I started therapy and got back on meds. Actually, if it weren’t for the backdrop of constant nuclear panic, 2017 might have even been a good year.
Luckily, even in the darkest timeline, artists gonna art, so there was a barrage of dope shit released this year. Here are the things that really stood out in my 2017:
Literally everything Roxane Gay has ever written is perfect, so it was a no-brainer that this incredible book would be on my “Best Of” list. This book is so powerful and emotional; I cried reading it. Hunger is, genuinely, a memoir of her body—unlike so many other books written in a similar vein, this one has no self-help aims or “happy ending.” It is a raw, honest rendering of past and present traumas, and though Ms. Gay’s journey is unique to her, her writing speaks to the universal truths familiar to all those who inhabit bodies and navigate the world. For six months, the words of Hunger have stayed with me, like a haunting presence.
I haven’t finished this book yet, so no spoilers! (lol)
Part of me loves this book so much merely because I love Secretary Clinton and want to push back against the haters that think, for some reason, that it’s unacceptable that the first female presidential candidate of a major political party should write a book chronicling her experiences. I know this about myself. What I didn’t expect, upon beginning to listen (I’m checking out Audible this season), is how deeply First Lady Clinton’s words would affect me. She gets pretty real about her journey, and doesn’t shy away from being honest about the present danger in which America finds itself. But it’s never sad. In What Happened, hope eclipses sadness and darkness at every turn. It doesn’t hurt that Senator Clinton is funny as hell, either. Listening to What Happened is like inspiring meditation for all of us who were deeply hurt last November.
So, if Popular Vote Winner Rodham Clinton wants to hit me up for a glass of Chardonnay, just DM me @highwaytochel, bby.
Just realized I keep switching up her name! I guess she just has so many accomplishments that I’m not even sure what to call her!
This list was getting pretty heavy, so I had to turn up the levity to 11.
Matt Bellassai is a national treasure. I first heard of him on Throwing Shade, so I’m a bit of a late adopter, but as soon as I heard him on TSPod, I sought out his podcast Unhappy Hour, which led me to his book, which I scored, again, on Audible. I knew the book would be funny, but I didn’t think it would be laugh-out-loud-like-a-maniac-alone-in-my-car funny. The writing is so, so good. He has such a clear, distinct voice that it’s shocking he’s only my age. It’s so powerful, in fact, that I find myself relating on a deep level to a chubby, sheltered, Midwestern, gay, cis-male child, most of whose adjectives don’t describe me at all! I rarely advocate for audiobook over real book, but hearing Bellassai’s delivery is the icing on the cake.
Amy Sherman-Palladino has blessed us once again! The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which Jen Kirkman consulted on, nbd) is my favorite new show of the year! I’m not even that bitter about the fact that the lead actress, Rachel Brosnahan, is the same age as me!
The MMM tells the story of Midge, a 26-year-old mother of two in 1958, going through a separation following her husband, Joel’s, infidelity. Joel had been fervently pursuing a stand-up career (i.e. plagiarizing one), but it turns out that his wife is the real natural. Coached by Susie, played by the incomparable Alex Borstein, Midge begins to perform, to varying degrees of success. Oh, and Lenny Bruce is a character.
In true ASP fashion, the dialogue is fast-paced, joke dense, and sensational. If there had to be an heir to Gilmore Girls, this is indeed the one. I just watched the series but might start it over and force the huz to watch it with me. 10/10
Is Get Out the best movie I’ve ever seen? Strong possibility. Give Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya and Betty Gabriel all of the Oscars!
I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t know it would be that good. I only just watched Get Out this fall, since I am horror-averse to the extreme, but I already know it will be one of my life-long favorites. Unfortunately, to write pretty much anything about it would spoil the majesty, and for once, I don’t want to spoil it for anyone. I was shocked, despite waiting months to watch it, and I wouldn’t take that experience away from anyone.
Jordan Peele is a genius. The film is aesthetically gorgeous, socially aware, hilarious, and terrifying. It’s a horror film, and a comedy, and a documentary.
P.S. I had the unique privilege of writing one of my final papers about Get Out, which I’m submitting to conferences!
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
If you didn’t like this movie, please eject yourself from planet Earth. I won’t spoil it for anyone (it was spoiled for me by my brother), but it was a joy and a pleasure. I gasped in surprise or glee multiple times, and I got to experience the entire thing sitting between my husband and my best friend—best combo ever. I’d write more about how much it rocked my world, but I’m busy going to see it again.
I finally discovered the true, unadulterated joy that is Hallmark Christmas movies. I watched Christmas in the Air*, which only made me thirst for more**. These things are a bright spot in an increasingly dismal world. Plus, where else will you experience the true joy of a 49-year-old, childless female lead? Hallmark doesn’t even know that it’s feminist!
*I will say, specific to this film, that it espoused one trash value, which is that messiness and imperfection is acceptable. You should have let her clean your office, dude. You’re not a creative genius—you have untreated ADHD.
**There’s an upcoming one starring Candace Cameron Bure and Marilu Henner!
I. Love. St. Vincent. I finally got to see her in concert last month at the House of Blues! I’ve liked her for years, but I have to admit, when she started getting super high concept, starting with Strange Mercy and continuing even stronger with St. Vincent, I really became a superfan. Masseduction doesn’t disappoint for a second—it’s got killer visuals, tight tunes, and her sexiest sound yet. Go purchase this album with human currency!
As if The National could put out a bad album. I’ve been waiting for what seems like decades for new Ntl jams, and finally, my prayers have been answered. Sleep Well Beast is everything I dreamed it would be and more. It has more tech-y, electronic-y moments (please, don’t be intimidated by my vast knowledge of music) than previous releases, but it works. Get on this album, my dudes.
I know. I’m going back on years of hating on T. Swift. I can admit I was wrong! In my hour of darkness she was standing right in front of me, speaking words of wisdom, so let her be.
Reputation is bops for days. I adore it. I’ve listened to it more than the previous 2 albums combined, which severely deducts cool points from my street cred. But I don’t care. I even like “Look What You Made Me Do” which was pretty much universally panned. Highlights are, for sure, “Endgame (feat. Future & Ed Sheeran),” “Ready For It,” and “I Did Something Bad,” but basically every song is great so just go listen to it? T. Swift redeemed.
Guys, I got to actually go to PYHT in Hollywood! It was probably the craziest night of my entire life—maybe I’ll share the story someday—but it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. The whole drama is recorded on the podcast, so if you’re a listener, you may know what I’m referring to. It was definitely a…teachable moment.
Cam & Rhea, thanks for being the moms we all need, and being genuinely the warmest and best people I’ve ever met.
My ABM ladies started a natural beauty line! Lipstick, lip gloss, and essential oils, oh my! I am obsessed with clean beauty products (#backonmyhippiebullshit), so these gems were a total godsend. I took advantage of all of the launch and holiday sales, so I, of course, have the full lip collection. They go on smooth, hydrate, last, and bonus: the lip gloss smells like yummy vanilla!
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, premiered on Netflix last month after nine long years without new Gilmore content. The night before the mini-series was set to air, I was as, if not more anxious than I was at my own wedding. Don’t get me wrong—I love my husband—but Stars Hollow is in my blood. I may very well have spent more time with the Gilmores than I have with him, although he’s definitely catching up—there are only so many episodes, after all.
Before I gracefully swan-dive into criticism, I want to start by saying that Gilmore Girls is my favorite television show. It came to me in a dark period of my life (I started watching weekly during season 4), and it spoke to me, as a fast-talking, book-reading, pop-culture-referencing, brunette New Englander. In my mind, I was Rory. In reality, I was way more of a Lorelai/Lane hybrid, except way less cool.
In 2007, Gilmore Girls was cancelled after the departure of its creator, Amy Sherman-Palladino and a somewhat disastrous seventh season. A lot has changed in the nine years since Gilmore Girls stopped airing. The proverbial “conversation” has changed. Sixteen years ago (when it began airing), it was par for the course for a show to be tone-deaf about social issues. Most shows lacked diversity in casting. Actors of color were criminally underused, LGBT characters were novelties, and trans characters simply didn’t exist. Gilmore Girls broke no barriers. The most revolutionary aspect of the show was its portrayal of a single teen mother succeeding despite her circumstances, and even that portrayal was inherently flawed—Gilmore existed in a bubble in which money was no issue, and only ever brought up as a plot point. The Girls were fed, sheltered, and wanted for nothing.
As for race—I can vouch for small New England towns lacking diversity. I’m from one. But television is escapism—the creators had the freedom to diversify the idyllic Stars Hollow, seeing as every other aspect of the fictional town is deeply unrealistic. Interestingly enough, Michel, the concierge of the Independence, and later the Dragonfly, Inns, who was the show’s only meaningful black character, was also portrayed as (early-00s) stereotypically gay, with his love of Céline Dion, fashion, and Emily Gilmore-esque propriety. It’s almost as if the Palladinos cashed in a two-for-one coupon, but not in the self-aware, irreverent way in which Tina Fey & co. wrote the character “Toofer.”
Throughout the series (having rewatched it from the start in preparation for the revival), there are numerous cringe-worthy gay and cross-dressing jokes that fall as flat as the inevitably outdated pop culture references, but overall it can certainly be deemed a feminist series, albeit a white feminist one. #intersectionality
Thus, ardent fans new and old anxiously awaited our return to the Stars Hollow universe. And the first few scenes truly did feel as warm and comforting as slipping on a pair of decade-old Ugg boots. I mean, this:
The feels! Also, Emily’s entire storyline. We all can agree that Kelly Bishop is an actual queen, right? Perfect actress, perfect role.
P.S. Lorelai’s remodeled kitchen is #GOALS.
So now, in order to keep myself from emotionally babbling, let’s go through some bullet points:
Relationships: Our (real) beloved Edward Herrman passed away in 2014, leaving our (fictional) Emily Gilmore widowed at the start of the series. Lorelai & Luke are cohabiting but unmarried (for reasons which are never explained). Rory is a hot mess: she has a long-term boyfriend, Paul, whom she can’t seem to remember exists, she’s sleeping with engaged-to-another-woman Logan on her jaunts to London, and she has a one-night stand with a guy in a Wookie costume. Oh yeah, and she ends up single and preggo. (#whydoesamyshermanpalladinohateyou)
Careers: Emily transitions from DAR to ACK—namely, she quits being a socialite and moves to Nantucket to generally be a badass queen. Lorelai seeks to expand the Dragonfly, which is doing well enough to hire Ina Garten & Rachael Ray, so…I’d say she’s successful. Rory is again, a hot mess with basically no career—highlights include a piece published in the New Yorker and “a lot of [vague af] irons in the fire.” By the end of the mini-series, she essentially realizes that she sucks at journalism and proceeds to start a book, aptly called Gilmore Girls.
Diversity:womp womp. Still almost no people of color, despite multiple scenes in NYC (?!?!?), and gay representation is horrendous. Michel is finally out (and married! and about to become an adoptive parent!), but apart from that, we have a new gay SH resident, Donald, no lesbians, no bi characters, and no trans characters. And we have to sit through a soul-crushing scene re: a Stars Hollow Pride Parade. It’s 50 Shades of bad. Also—Berta. Emily’s maid throughout the mini-series, is a mysterious ethnicity speaking a “nonsense” language. Borderline xenophobic and weird—forgivable because the character is portrayed brilliantly by none other than Gypsy (Rose Abdoo).
Boyfriends: Digger makes an appearance. Christopher drops by for a brief but HELLA IMPORTANT scene. Mother-flipping LELAND PALMER (Ray Wise) briefly courts Emily. Jess Mariano remains the one voice of reason and clarity in Rory’s life (and is still clearly in love with her). Dean Forrester lives in Scranton and is married with 3-almost-4 children. Logan is engaged to a French heiress, but, oh yeah, has this mistress named Rory Gilmore with whom he is still clearly in love.
Cameos! Cameos! Cameos!
I would like to start by saying that I’m not going to mention the Bunheads people. I never saw Bunheads (planning to fix that), so I’d be pointing out something that I myself didn’t even understand.
Chris Eigeman (Digger Stiles) – Lorelai’s season 4 former flame makes a brief appearance in the flashback to Richard’s funeral. Fuck the haters, I loved this. I truly liked that character and thought he and Lorelai were good together. I’m #TeamLuke, but it’s hard to be so loyal when Max & Digger are so freaking awesome.
Danny Strong (Doyle McMaster) – My beloved Doyle only gets a couple of brief scenes, amidst the turmoil of his separation from Paris.
David Sutcliffe (Christopher Hayden) – Baby daddy gets one scene. Of course, in retrospect, it turns out to be SUCH a fucking important scene, but they definitely could have used Christopher, who was so important to the plot of the original series, much better.
Gregg Henry (Mitchum Huntzberger) – Mitchum gets one scene? Come on. Mitchum is the only person that was ever honest with Rory about her journalistic prospects. He changed the course of her life, in a way. He was important! I think Mitchum was honestly more influential than Logan! Gregg Henry is an amazing actor and he was ILL-SERVED in this revival. #moremitchum
Ray Wise (Jack Smith, Emily’s new boo) – Leland freaking Palmer is in the reboot. It was kind of distracting because I LOVE me some Twin Peaks, but apparently so does ASP. Half the cast of TP has been on GG at some point or another.
Mae Whitman (line girl) – Mae’s cameo is brief, but a total Lauren/Parenthood shout-out. We LOVE Ann Veal!
Alex Kingston (Naomi Shropshire) – River. Mother. Flipping. Song. Is. In. The. Revival. Enough said. This was a dead-end story-line but worth it for RIVER SONG.
Jason Mantzoukas (Naomi Shropshire’s lawyer) – The fact that Mantzoukas is a huge GG fan brings joy and radiance to my life, and his inclusion in the revival is a ray of sunshine in a dismal world.
Kevin T. Porter & Demi Adejuyigbe (B-list actors at the Dragonfly) – The Gilmore Guys are in the revival! This makes me so happy. Kevin & Demi are doing god’s work with their amazing podcast, which I’ve blogged about previously.
Rachael Ray & Roy Choi – In Sookie’s absence, the Dragonfly hosts celebrity chef pop-ups. Realistic? No. Hilarious? Yes! Rachael Ray’s over-acting breathes life into me.
Paul Anka – The Paul Anka dreams had to come back.
Alex Borstein (Miss Celine) – Miss Celine was one of the most wonderful parts of the original series. I’m so glad that the Palladinos graced the fans with one last look.
Jason Ritter & Peter Krause (park rangers) – Parenthood shout-outs 2 & 3! Jason played Lauren Graham’s love interest on Parenthood, and Peter is her real-life boo! I was psyched to see them in the reboot.
And last but not least, Jess Mariano, a.k.a. Jess Mariano. Unfortunately, his part amounts to little more than a cameo, but JFC, look at this man:
Are you KIDDING me?
Milo was busy shooting his amazing new show This Is Us, so he couldn’t be a huge part of the revival, but the few moments he appeared on screen were among the best.
In Omnia Paratus!
Okay, so, everyone seems to hate the Life & Death Brigade sequence , but I am coming out strongly in favor of all of it. It had Twin Peaks. It had the Beatles (via Across the Universe). It has kooky outfits & Rosemary Clooney! Disclaimer: I’ve been Team Logan since DAY ONE, so of course I was going to love this callback. Especially considering the final four words, these scenes have additional gravitas. The frustrating thing, though, is that there is no obstacle to Rory & Logan being together, except both of them sucking as people. I guess we’ll find out what happens with them in the next series of episodes, because of course they’re going to make more, because $$$$.
Much has been said about this already, but Lane gets about 45 total seconds of screen-time in the entire revival. Considering her life was…derailed in Season 7, to put it politely, superfans were desperate to see how Amy resolved Lane’s story. This more than anything seemed to highlight the undeniable notion that the meta-narrative of this show is that we all become our mothers. Lane’s working at Kim’s antiques, wearing a Mrs. Kim smock and bob. Paris’s kids like the nanny more than her. Rory ends up unwed and pregnant, albeit at 32 instead of 16. P.S. ONE scene with Mrs. Kim? Are you kidding me?
So, overall, I loved the revival because it was a revival of my favorite show. I loved the Arrested Development revival too. And I’m sure I’ll love the Curb Your Enthusiasm reboot as well. But that definitely doesn’t excuse Amy Sherman-Problematic from, well, being herself. As much as I cherish the existence of these new episodes, there are so many things I want from any potential further episodes. I want more Paris, more Lane, more Miss Patty—more of the characters that are the true heartbeat of the show. There’s so much more to talk about, but I think a lot of us are still rewatching and processing.
There will be much more discussion of the revival here. For those of you thirsty to dive into deep discussions about it, hit up my boys The Gilmore Guys who just dropped their “Fall” episode today.
What was your favorite episode of the revival?
*all images pulled from google/the internet—I take zero credit for anything