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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Our favourite gay characters on television

Our favourite gay characters on television

With Pride week this past week in Mumbai and everything you know, we realised we hadn’t ever acknowledged our favourite gay characters on television. No time like the present though! Whether it’s for their style, wit, humour or personality, we really really dig these guys. Here are our ten best.

Kima Greggs from The Wire: So Kima has been on about five different lists on Project Small Fry and that should prove our eternal fandom. She’s awesome! Not only is she a well-written, nice rounded of character, her no-nonsense, let’s get down to work attitude is downright kick ass.

Omar from The Wire: President Obama called Omar the most interesting character on television. Word. Not only is he the Robin Hood of Drugs in Baltimore, but he carries his sexual identity with pride. Omar comin!

Ian Gallagher from Shameless: We become aware that Ian was gay in the pilot episode of Shameless and we’ll admit it, the moment we saw his pretty face we felt a horrible sense of doom. Would he be written off as a caricature? But hells to the no! Ian trains in JROTC, can shoot straight, can punch out (and then get with) the meanest bullies ever and has a kind, kind heart (remember what he did for Mandy Milkovitch?)

Cameron from Modern Family: Cameron, the more flamboyant of the gay couple in Modern Family simply takes the prize for being interesting. I mean, the man used to be a clown, he won prizes for fishin and huntin, he sings, he dances, he has “reactions” and he loves his mama. Yay Cameron!

Sam from How I met your mother: Though he’s barely on the show, Barneys gay brother, made a great impact. This brother got the Stintson swag, well tell you that much AND he’s about as funny as Barney, which really say a lot. Also, do you remember the style on his kid?

Kurt from Glee: Kurt is a brave teenager and the only openly gay person in his town. He’s dealt with way too much bullying and had way too many slushies thrown in his face and he stays true to who he is. He and Blaine make a perfect couple (We are assuming they are still together. We gave up on Glee some time ago).

Max from Happy Endings: Max is sloppy, gross, funny and kind of hot. He is exceptionally un-cheesy and has no grandiose ideas of romance. He is constantly plotting crazy things and he keeps himself pretty entertained. And his taste in guys is superb.

Callie from Grey’s Anatomy: Callie, of course takes a while to realize she loves women. She is briefly married to George and sleeps with Mark Sloane and has his baby but she is strong and funny and so good at her job. Even this season, when Arizona is being pretty darn difficult (we don’t blame her really. She doesn’t have her legs anymore), Callie is a pillar of resilience.

Oscar from The Office: That episode where Steve Carell attempts to kiss Oscar to prove that he is not homophobic was so tough to watch and we weren’t surprised when Oscar decided to quit (but a paid vacation changed his mind). But post that, Oscar has became a fun, a bit of a know-it-all but very likable.

Jack Mcfarlane from Will and Grace: Just Jack. *Jazz hands*

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Why is nobody talking about Go On?

Why is nobody talking about Go On?

Go On premiered on NBC during the Olympics, a thing most people seem to be really pissed off about. At least that’s what I understand from reading internet outrage about NBC’s stupid idea. Yes, I get it. How could they do that? Those bastards. But now, Go On just had its 14th episode and nobody is talking about it. As with any new sitcom, there are a lot of problems with it, but I’m sure no fewer than the The Mindy Project but people cant shut up about that one (Just to be clear, I’m a huge fan of Kaling. The show is a bit weak, but her character is hilarious and I watch it with dedication).

Go On is the story of Ryan King (Matthew Perry yay) who has to attend mandatory group therapy session to deal with the grief of his wife dying. It started out a bit rocky because Perry plays a smart ass who doesn’t seem to take anything seriously and most of the characters seem like caricatures at first watch. But it manages to stay funny. Post it’s initial settling-in episodes; Go On has become a engaging show that deals with grief in a real, if sometimes over-the-top way (the episode where his wife plans his birthday before dying was a bit much really).

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The rough edges of most of the supporting cast have been sanded out and some of them are really shining now. Especially Anne played by Julia White. Dry, acerbic and angry, Anne lost her wife and doesn’t care at all for King’s charming ways. John Cho who plays King’s boss is amazing as usual though I wish they’d give him more screen time. All the scenes where he is in the radio station are well done.  The episode with Lauren Graham (Matthew Perry’s ex girlfriend) had a nice genuine quality to it and we hear Bradley Whitford (Or as we know him, Danny Tripp) is going to do a special cameo sometime soon. Woot woot for a studio 60 reunion.

The thing with sitcoms is; they need breathing space. The pilot is usually never a good time to judge a show; you don’t know the people yet, the first 15 of 20 minutes is spent introducing you to the characters and their personal quirks and there’s pretty little time to grab you. Parks and Rec had a pretty boring first season, but look at it now. It’s one of the funniest shows on television. In its first couple of episodes, Happy Endings seemed to me like pretty forced humour. But once the cast clicked it’s amah-zing. Go On isn’t as funny as either of these shows right now but it has potential, I just know it. Go on, give it a try.

Reflections on Toni Morrison’s A Mercy

Reflections on Toni Morrison’s A Mercy

Sometimes I can’t thank providence enough for making me a person who loves reading. If I didn’t read, my life would be horrible and empty and if I have ever known a single truth, it is that literature has enriched my life in ways I cannot describe.

I recently finished Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, a layered, slim novel (only 165 pages) published in 2008. Though it took me a week to read it, I found that it took much longer for me to mull over it and sort of digest the contents.

A Mercy is set at least a century before the events in Beloved, her better known work, took place. In 1690, America was on the brink of the kind of civilisation from which Beloved was born. It all begins with Jacob Vaark a white settler trying to make a living in a homestead, accepting a little 8-year-old slave Florens, as payment for a debt. He does this despite his distaste for “trading in flesh,” (Which is ironic given the arc the story takes later) but soon Florens is absorbed into life on the Vaark homestead. There’s Vaark’s wife Rebekka; Lina, a Native American slave and a simple-minded foundling Sorrow. The Vaarks, surprisingly, are not the evil-whitey motifs, that you find in a lot of narratives about slavery. They treat their slaves pretty well all things considering – no terrifying stories of beatings and torture. In fact, if you were very dumb, you might even call them a family. Except, of course that they’re not. The word slave runs deep. Morrison uses the story to really explore the beginnings of slavery, to find out the meaning of what it means to be free. She explains, in this discussion at the New York Public Library, that she wanted to eliminate race from the equation completely.

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The story really takes a turn when Jacob dies of small-pox and Rebekka catches it too. Florens must undertake a journey to find a freed man – a blacksmith of African descent- who is some kind of a marvel with medicine. The journey has personal reasons tied up with the obvious; Florens, now 16, is hopelessly in love with the blacksmith. Back stories come through the narration of other three women – Rebekka, Lina and Sorrow and in their stories we get creepy insight into what freedom really means, how slavery was born, what nurtured it and how it stayed untouched and unquestioned for so many years.

It is not a good idea to read Morrison novels and examine your feelings right away. The intensity will mess you up. You have to pause, breathe, read up on your history, re-read and only then can you search your soul to identify the depths that the story and the narrative offer. I did all of that and I was amazed at the things I discovered. Popular culture hasn’t even scraped the surface of what the modern world knows of slavery. Florens’ mother, who in the beginning of the book, begged Jacob to take her daughter, (she sensed that Jacob was a decent man, who would keep Florens safer than she could) was shipped over to America and the book ends with her perspective. “It was there that I learned how I was not a person from my country, nor from my families. I was negrita. Everything. Language, dress, gods, dance, habits, decoration, song – all of it cooked together in the colour of my skin.”

A Mercy is the kind of book that stays with you for days afterward. Its short but it hits so hard, it leaves you breathless. Read. It.

P.S: A shout out to The book lady’s blog that lead me to a bunch of insightful post-book reading.

 

 

Our favourite Proposition Joe moments

Our favourite Proposition Joe moments

There are a lot of great characters on David Simon’s The Wire. As you get drawn into the world of drug slinging Baltimore and everything that comes with it, you tend to identify with the characters. When we heard that Robert Chew, the actor who played Proposition Joe on the show passed away, we called back all those moments spent analysing characters and discussing plots. This is a list of our best Prop Joe moments. A businessman, a dealer and a manipulator with wisdom and cunning that made him come alive.

Our first glimpse of Prop Joe was at the famed Eastside vs Westside basketball game in the projects. We were impressed with his cool nonchalance, which came off as even cooler next to Avon Barksdale’s cussing and angry stomping. When Avon asked him why he was wearing a suit, acting like Pat Riley and carrying a fake clipboard when he couldn’t even read a playbook, Prop Joe uttered his fist lines in the show. “Look the part, be the part, motherfucker.” Epic stuff.

This moment is from The Wire prequels shot after the series. The short reel shows us a much younger Joe’s crafty manipulation with his teacher. A school test, money and a teacher he tries to bribe. It was the makings of a Joe who would later be in charge of selling product in East Baltimore and a lifetime of making propositions that slyly benefit him.

Season 5. Herc, cop turned lawyer, met Prop Joe in lawyer Maury Levy’s office. They both sit down and grab a paper. Ervin Burrel, the police commissioner has finally been given the big goodbye by the Mayor and Joe casually remarked that Burrel was a year ahead of him in school. Herc looks like he’s dying of curiosity and he finally spits out, “I gotta ask…” “Stone stupid,” Prop Joe confirmed coolly.

Every single moment that Prop Joe held meetings with the players in Baltimore. He commanded the room with his drawling voice and he had organisational skills that genuinely kicked ass. A born leader and a crafty old dog, Joe kept things simple and well oiled…for a while.

Prop Joe got his name by giving propositions to people he slyly wanted to control. He perceived quicker than anyone else that Marlo was just biding his time with this whole round table deal and so he decided to take the young man under his wing and lead him to a lawyer who would clean his drug money up. He figured, you help, you get saved, and you can practically hear the cogs in motion when he approaches Marlo and tells him how one dealt with the world.

“Who you tellin’? I got motherfucking nephews and in-laws fucking all my shit up all the time and it ain’t like I can pop a cap in their ass and not hear about it Thanksgiving time. For real, I’m livin’ life with some burdensome niggers.”

The way Prop Joe faced and accepted death and betrayal. It always struck us as awesome that the big Baltimore players were always ready to accept the code of the game. “Its all in the game, yo,” said Omar in season one and this how they faced defeat and death. But no one accepted his fate more than gracefully than Joe, who closed his eyes and waited for the bullet. There’s a deadly tenderness in the way Marlo says, “Joe relax. It won’t hurt none.” That scene was the most powerful one in the season.

“Wanna know what kills police more than bullets and liquor? Boredom. They just can’t handle that shit. You keep it boring, String. You keep it dead fucking boring.”

Godspeed Robert Chew. You made a character feel real.

Notes on The Carrie Diaries

Notes on The Carrie Diaries

The Carrie Diaries. Oh yayer! A look into the past of the woman who spoke to the modern, sexually liberated woman? Hell, the woman who invented the modern, sexually liberated woman? This should be good. I put my feet up and keep a bowl of salad within reach. Alright, alright it’s a bowl of potatoes and butter. Geez. Food police!

A quick introduction to The Bradshaw bunch, not to be confused with the brady bunch. Bradshaw mom just lost a battle with cancer and her sister is a pot-smoking, kohl-eyed teenager with teenage angst. Her dad seems nice.

Oh look. Carrie’s off to school. Of course, there are a bunch of snobby, popular mean girls who wear way too much make up. Stage for coming of age staple. Carrie has three best friends; Mouse, Maggie and Maggie’s boyfriend. (That guy is gay for sure.)

New kid, with blonde hair and sunglasses. His lips are so strange. It feels like I’m watching Beverly Hills 90210.

Side note: Wait, hold up! Is Mouse Knives from Scott Pilgrim vs the World? Props to the cast of Scott Pilgrim making it on TV. Kim is on The Newsroom, Michael Cera is back as George Michael. Yay!

Oh oh. Seems that Carrie’s the only virgin in the gang. Her friend just called it ‘putting a hot dog through a key hole’. Excuse me while I retch.

Flashback to new kid and Carrie making out in the pool last summer. Well, of course.

Ok, her dad comes to school and she passes out because the last time he did, it was to give her news about her mum dying. That’s kind of sad. He’s come to talk to her about an internship in Manhattan. That couldn’t wait till she came from school?

Her sister has ruined her mother’s bag. But Carrie goes all DIY on it and starts splashing nail polish. Madonna plays in the background. Oh, yeah this is the 80s

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Carrie is in Manhattan now! The beginning of everything. That voiceover about the city of dreams and big buildings. Yawn.

She runs into the editor of Interview magazine. Gushing follows. She’s African American and a shop lifter who “collects people”. Ugh. She takes Carrie out partying and drinking and she meets the first gay people ever. Oh, and a sardar guy! They are all dressed idiotically. Cue cheesy voiceover about how Carrie’s lost her virginity (to Manhattan. Nice try) and she feels so much more confident now.

Her sister Dorrit runs away from home and Carrie has an emotional breakdown. Followed by a speech from her dad that is so emotional that it would probably make Danny Tanner proud.

Mouse’s first ever boyfriend has clearly left her. He hasn’t called in two days. I seem to see the stirrings of the Carrie from SATC. You know, always there for her friends and super supportive.

The family together open and pack up their mom’s closet (which is huge by the way. Mrs. Bradshaw was a fashionista obviously. And pretty rich), as part of accepting that she’s actually gone.

What is this I’m watching? This show has crammed every possible teen pop staple into one episode; tragedy, fashion, virginity, trying to find who you are, high school dance, emotional speeches. I mean, that would be okay, if it actually gave us insight into how a popular character evolved and was hence made. This stuff isn’t anywhere near the other kind of prequels we’ve seen. Off the top of my head, prequels from The Wire and those never even got much attention. Yawns galore. Plus the TV screen gave off this glowy flourecent light, everyone wore sweaters and frills and everything was 80s and horrible.

Did I say 80s? God, the show just read my mind. Girls just wanna have fun by Cyndi Lauper in the background. Secretly gay boy is looking at a picture of Rob Lowe. Carrie is going to start journaling. Thrilling stuff. Truly fucking thrilling. I probably need some more butter with my potatoes. Sharanya Out.

The women of Wodehouse

The women of Wodehouse

I don’t know if you’ll remember but I kind of have a thing for this guy called Pelham Graham Wodehouse. Relax, it’s not at hidden-shrine-in-back-of-closet level, I just happen to think the man is a legend and the creator all things amazing and beautiful. The most I’ve read of Wodehouse is the Jeeves series, a few Blandings novels, The Uncle Fred series and a school story or two from the early years (I recommend A Prefects Uncle and The Golden Bat.) Yet as a woman, there was always the impression that I was butting into a very exclusive boys club. The women in Wodehouse novels, as I’ve mentioned on Small Fry before, are neatly categorised into one of three. The sappy, annoying kind that need to be drowned with immediate effect (Madeline Basset), the tall, stately ones with their minds full of the higher pursuits in life (Florence Craye, famed writer of Spindthrift) or the great sports, who, while their hearts are fixed firmly in the right place, seem always to have their hands stirring up all sorts of trouble. It is the last kind that always tend to land Bertie Wooster “in the soup” as he puts it. Honoria Glossop, that ghastly dominating horror, stayed away from these three categories but that was about it. Without knowing it, I had unwittingly become so blinded by the man’s plots and the way he skipped lightly over beautifully turned phrases, that I forgave the fact that my own sex couldn’t break past the idea he had in his head.

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Until last week, when I bought The adventures of Sally, and had my first encounter with a female Wodehouse protagonist, Sally Nicholas. Sally is bright, beautiful and generously endowed with wit and humour. At first she comes across as a little forced, as though Wodehouse was trying too hard to make us like her but as the plot charged forward with spirit and verve, and as I got acquainted with all the characters, I started to like her more and more. This girl, was evidently a “good egg.” She takes misfortune on the chin, she’s funny and though she can’t see past the end of her nose when it comes to dating, she has sense in her head. Her gentlemen suitors are all well drawn out and as for the guy who ultimately wins her, Wodehouse made him a complete ass but with a sound core. I mean he’s so bumbling and adorable and inarticulate. (“Well, look here…I know I’m not much of a chap, but …I’ve loved you like the dickens ever since I met you.”) And the other female characters aren’t half as bad either and are chockfull of fun if impractical advice, (“When you marry, Sally, grab a chump. Tap his forehead first and if his head rings solid, don’t hesitate. All unhappy marriages come from the husband having brains. What good are brains to a man? They only unsettle him.”)

Good for Wodehouse, you know. I now don’t have any doubts at all. He’s funny, he writes like a dream and he knows how to tell a story AND he has the ability to understand human beings.

P.S: In a bit of background reading for this column, I came across this article by guess who (it’s Shashi Tharoor), and seeing that some of you may not have read it, well, you’re welcome.

Our favourite moments from the 70th Golden Globes

Our favourite moments from the 70th Golden Globes

We love award shows. All the cool people we love hanging out with each other, getting drunk, getting into brawls, taking their clothes off. This morning we caught, the first of many ceremonies to watch this month, the 70th Golden Globe awards. It wasn’t what you’d call ‘filled to the brim with happiness, inside jokes and nip slips’ level, but it was entertaining nonetheless. Ben Affleck made one omission that Jennifer Garner had to cover and Hugh Jackman and George Clooney jumped on it. Jodie Foster was beautiful. The right amount of emotional and crazy makes a great acceptance speech. Also, us Homeland fans are mighty pleased with the show winning best drama (so disconcerting to see Abu Nazir on stage), Damian Lewis winning best actor and Claire Danes taking best actress (also, the Carrie was carrying pun was well intended but lame). But us Breaking Bad fans were quite disappointed.

Amy Pohler and Tina Fey were, as expected, spectacular and we wished we could see more of them. Seriously, they kind of disappeared in the middle there. The opening monologue was full of fun jokes about Ben Affleck, Lena Dunham, Tarantino and Julianne Moore, The hunger games and Life of Pi. The shout out to Mandy Patinkin was adorable. (The 2nd best line of the night goes to –  “When it comes to torture, I trust the lady who was married to James Cameron for three years.” (Of Kathryn Bigelow))

Also, we adore HBO’s girls and have from the first episode but Lena Dunham winning against Amy Pohler for the best actress in a comedy? Hell to the no!
Dunham thanked her fellow nominees for getting her through middle school. Amy and Tina took their loss well. By drinking on stage.

After last years Emmy’s, our expectations of Aziz Ansari skyrocketed. He didn’t disappoint us. He came in with Jason Bateman and talked about chilling with the cast of Downton Abbey. “They call cookies biscuits!” Also, he called Lena Dunham “Lisa.”

We absolutely believed that Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell did watch all the movies when they came in to present the best performance by an actress in a Musical/comedy. They were exceptionally hilarious. Twitter was instantly filled with “let them host the next Golden Globes” kind of tweets.

Bill Clinton came on stage (whaaaat!) to introduce Lincoln and as he walked off stage, Pohler stayed true to Leslie Knope and shrieked, “that was Hillary Clinton’s husband”. Aww, classic Leslie. (That is the best line in case you were wondering)

Anne Hathaway’s acceptance speech was wonderful (in spite of how truly annoying she has become). She won for Les Miserables and she thanked Sally Fields for teaching her not to be typecast. Hey Anne, great way to bring up the fact that you were once princess of Genovia by the way. We see what you did there.

What’s an award show without uncomfortable moments? We squirmed watching Paul Rudd looking visibly awkward. He was on stage with Salma Hayek and they both stared at the (defective, we assume) teleprompter and then at each other with nothing to say. But it doesn’t matter, PaulRudd4eva.

And lastly, how cute was the HFPA president Aida Takla O’Reilly hitting on Bradley Cooper? Adorable.

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