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My internet browser is full of pages starred and bookmarked for later viewing and things that I save because they inspire me or blow my mind.

I have never bought bookmarks for myself (although I have gifted them) because I genuinely do not see them point. I use them all the time, I reuse them and more often then not, I lose them. I’m the kind who grabs anything in the vicinity to use as bookmark. Here are some I found recently, during Diwali cleaning:

Old bills fashioned to serve as bookmarks for some of my favourite strips in my Calvin and Hobbes set. I don’t remember what I even bought and what the bills or for but, hey, they served their purpose.

An old worn out crossword bookmark I used while reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the shore. If I line appealed to me greatly, I jotted down the page numbers on the bookmark. I can barely figure out why anymore. I’ve read those pages again and can guess which line I might have loved but I can’t really be sure.

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A strip of paper I tore from some magazine and signed twice for some strange reason was used to read Rabindranath Tagore’s short stories.

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A strange piece of paper I found still stuck inside my copy of Joseph Heller’s Catch 22. It was all bent out of shape and dusty when I took it out because I never did finish this book. (But then again, I do remember lending it to a friend, so it’s entirely possible that this bookmark is his.)

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If I remember correctly, I read Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom so greedily and eagerly I possibly couldn’t have required a bookmark at all. But I did find this business card (of a hair dresser) in the last page. The timing is lost to me, but maybe I read it after my ‘I don’t care about feminity, I’m going to cut my hair real short and be free” haircut. Maybe.

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What I’m reading right now and that boring flipkart bookmark I’m using.

Happy Ending vs Friends

Happy Ending vs Friends

Every book about youthful angst isn’t trying to be The catcher in the rye and every sitcom about a group of friends isn’t trying to be Friends.

Friends and TV watchers, today I urge you to stop quoting, talking about and mostly importantly, comparing new shows to Friends. Friends was something beautiful that happened to our lives. We laughed, we cried, we wished people would get off planes for us but now, it is time to let it go.Let it go, I say. I know it’s tough and it will take time but this is 2012 and really, we need to move on and fill the Friends shaped hole in our lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I love them as much as you do; their incessant coffee-drinking, their sexual exploits, their hilarious jokes, everything. But I’m really tired of critics comparing every new show about a bunch of friends with Friends. So, this column right here, is me defending the “friends rip-off” Happy Endings.

Happy Endings premiered last year on ABC and is currently in it second season. It is about Alex, Jane, Dave, Penny, Max and Brad, a group of friends who live in Chicago. Alex and Jane are sisters, Jane is married to Brad, Alex left Dave at the altar, Max is a lazy gay dude and Penny is the crazy, obnoxious goof.

The show fills us to our hearts content with witty banter (one of the few things I love in television dramas), pop culture references (not obscure and brilliant like Community but real ones I could use in general conversation) and the absolute whacky plot lines (the believable kind. Not the ‘only happens on TV kind’).

The show never treats love and romance too seriously but understands so much about it. The comedy is intelligent yet downright silly. The actors bring a sense of improvisation to it, which makes it look unwound, like a real group of friends hanging out. Casey Wilson who plays Penny brings her in-your face physical comedy to the show. Sure, intelligent comedy is lovely but falling down a flight of stairs is just rib-hurting hilarious.

In an early episode of Community, Abed mentions how he is Chandler and Annie is Phoebe (“they never really had stories together”). (I guess he forgot the famous contest to see whether Chandler would finally admit he was doing Monica) And that strikes me as something really important. In Happy Endings, everyone is friends with everyone. The group comprises of spouses, exes and siblings, yet Jane is friends with Max and Dave and Alex are fully formed characters and not two halves of a couple.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that every show about a rat pack, whether it is How I met your mother or It’s always sunny in Philadelphia isn’t trying to be Friends. Let go of the comparisons. A bunch of oddball friends hanging out is not really the most novel sitcom format but more than one good show can come out of it.

 

In which I jump excitedly and bite my nails about Homeland

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In which I jump excitedly and bite my nails about Homeland

I spent this entire week racking my brains about what I wanted to write my column on. It was this tough because the only thing on my mind for the past week is Homeland. If you haven’t seen it already, you definitely should. Also, you might not want to read this, it may or may not be filled with spoilers.

What makes a good show great is the acting and what makes a great show spectacular is the writing.  Homeland employs all the basics of a good thriller; intrigue, suspense, forbidden love and the threat of a terrorist attack that will destroy the world (The USA mostly) as we know it.

At the beginning of the new season, Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) was having pretty terrible luck. Fired from the CIA because of the man she was in love with while constantly suspecting that he was a terrorist and having to resort to shock treatment. But four episodes in, and things are looking pretty damn good for her. (If you count escaping bullets and a failed suicide attempt good).

The first few episodes of a season are a pretty good indication of what’s coming. Carrie got her “I was right” moment when Saul showed her Brody’s video (which was followed by a superb crying scene that Danes is such an expert at, replete with a trembling chin) which proved that Saul was not a mole and that unfortunate polygraph incident was just a mistake and now that the CIA was on to Brody, the season would be spent watching him and manipulating him into finding Abu Nazir’s plans. The rhythm and the narrative of any show is almost predictable if you’ve watched enough television.

But, nope. You can’t be predicting anything with Homeland. You think we are going left? Ok, then we are going to turn right to the south of the west and turn around halfway and head to the northeast. Episode four, New Car Smell was an absolute game changer. I bit my nails and almost shut my eyes when Carrie had a drink with Brody in his hotel and might have passed out from stress when she knocks on his door. It was an episode worth a season finale. But it’s only episode four!

But here’s the part that baffles me the most. What do we do now? What, if not proving Brody has been turned, is this season going to be about. Will he confess? Will he talk about Isa? Will he give up Roya (this might be fun considering Estes went on a date with her)? Speaking of which, doesn’t Estes seem a bit suspicious to you guys? Who is the new guy and what’s his role going to be? Did Brody give the blade to his old guard? Something is up with that Max guy, isn’t it? Will Dana and the Vice-president’s boy hook up now, when the world finds out the truth about Brody? Will Mike and Lauder figure out the truth too? What will Abu Nazir do to save Brody? Or does he want to?

So many questions. Not a single prediction.

Here comes the wedding post

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Here comes the wedding post

After I spent last week ranting about lovelorn romantics on television, this week, I thought about another of my favourite television staples: the big wedding. Oh what fresh hell is this one going to bring? Ruined gown, groom getting cold feet, father of the bride drunk and boisterous? Television’s approach to weddings is usually pretty damn predictable, whether it’s Full House where Jessie lands in jail or Carrie from Sex and the City who puts a bird on her head only to be abandoned at the alter. But there are some, of course, that make me cock my head to one side and go “Aww, I also want.”

This week, I watched a lot of wedding scenes, some because they restore my faith in love and unicorns and some because they remind me of a car crash where I just can’t stop looking.

My viewing started off with one of my favourites; Lily and Marshall on How I met your mother. What makes this wedding so utterly believable is that I can totally imagine this happening to me. Getting carried away by the grandeur of that perfect wedding and then just going for an ‘intimate outdoor wedding; just close friends and an acoustic guitar’. In the follow up to the big day, they make a list of wedding clichés to avoid (slideshow of pictures set to Green Day’s Time of your life, Conga line, the Corinthians) and decide to spend nights away and fail, which of course introduces us to the super cute Night night Lily. Everything goes wrong, Marshall shaves his head, the harpist goes into labour but true love and champagne trumps everything.

The next one is the real life wedding on Keeping up with the Kardashians. There is a perverse joy in watching this episode because listening to them talk about how much they love each other makes me giggle and scream “72 days you guys!” at the TV screen. You just have to register the epic size of this wedding (and Kim’s chest in that wedding gown!) and it’s easy to see why preparations make the bride insane. I mean more insane than usual, of course. Our diva turns so super controlling that Kris starts feeling left out and has to remind himself that he IS on a show where the spotlight will always be on her. It always amazes me that weddings are a license for women to go nuts and men are supposed to be the cool ones. They don’t care about the details; the most they can do is show up. I call bullshit.

Next up; Turk and Carla from Scrubs. The wedding that gets delayed because the groom is stuck in surgery which he opted for so he could get two extra days off for his honeymoon. Though the wedding episode was funny, the dress rehearsal was where it all went down. Turk can’t seem to write his vows and ends up reading the speech from when Harry met Sally (Carla’s evil brother tricks him into it). He saves the day, of course by delivering a beautiful love speech in the end, JD tells Elliot he doesn’t love her any more and all hell breaks loose. Of course, the highlight of the episode (apart from all the love and Kelso calling him Turk Turkelton) is Scott Foley’s entrance.

Of all the things to go wrong and turn your wedding into the most awkward one, nothing beats Margaret Sterling’s wedding in Mad Men. It is absolutely the worst thing for a wedding to be cancelled after all that preparation (like Phoebe and Mike’s almost does in Friends) but to go ahead with it on the day President John F. Kennedy is assassinated? Terrible, terrible move, Margaret. Your dad’s new young wife getting wobble-on-your-high-heels-drunk at the wedding is just a speck of the awfully embarrassing things to happen to you on that day.

I am not the biggest fan of Monica or Courtney Cox but I have such immense love for Matthew Perry and his character Chandler on Friends, that I have watched this wedding episode more times than any couple has had to change their seating arrangements. Predictably of course, Chandler takes off, Rachel lets everyone believe Monica is the one pregnant and Joey shows up late to officiate. I always hope that if this happens to any of my friends, I’d be able to lie better than Rachel’s “ooops, I’ve fallen down” delaying tactic. Of course, they do end up married and in a super follow up episode Chandler loses all the pictures and creates new one’s at a stranger’s wedding. A classic wedding episode, if there ever was one.

The best wedding episode I have seen on television so far, is April and Andy’s on Parks and Rec. A party-turned-wedding with absolutely no thought whatsoever (“I can’t emphasize how little we thought about this.”), this wedding is part hilarious and part super-duper-makes-you-want-to-dance cute. Andy makes everyone his best man and the soundtrack is Simon and Garfunkel. Andy’s speech is beautiful (April you are the most awesome person I have ever known in my entire life. I vow to protect you. From danger. And I don’t care if I have to fight an ultimate fighter, or a bear, or him. Your mom. I would take them down. I’m getting mad right now even telling you) and April is unabashedly sentimental (I guess I kinda hate most things. But I never really seemed to hate you.” So I wanna spend the rest of my life with you, is that cool?). There are dead pigeons, a creepy goth wedding guest that everyone avoids and Jean Ralphio. April’s sister gives an emotional speech, which ends with “Has anyone seen my grey hoodie?” Everything about this episode is so unexpected and not dramatic like you would expect a wedding episode to be; it stays true to the characters and it is the most sweetest and coolest wedding.

All you need is love

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All you need is love

The quest for love sure is one of life’s biggest priorities. Unless you’re on television; then it’s pretty much your entire life and being. Television is full of optimistic, angsty and hopeless romantics that jump from relationship to relationship with funny and creepy results but they power through. Yes, they do.

They are almost all about 30 and their life comprises of endless hours spent at the neighborhood bar discussing their ever-changing love life with their friends.

The most recent ones to join the list is Mindy Lahiri from The Mindy Project. A doctor by profession, she lives on a standard fare of romantic comedies and believes she will find “The One” as long as she looks hard enough. The critics are pretty torn about this rom-com but three episodes in, I quite like it. It’s a bit typical what with the playboy who has a deeper side, the mean coworker who we secretly hope Mindy will end up with but there is room for good intelligent comedy and I can feel it coming. Also, I absolutely adore Mindy Kaling and will watch anything she’s in. And this show is produced, created, written and stars Kaling.

One of the most popular hopeless romantic of course is, Ted Mosby of How I met your mother that we have been watching since they invented the computers and let people write terribly lengthy scripts on. Mosby bravely (and stupidly) continues on his quest for love while drawing up a long list of what she’ll be like “oh, she has to love my lame jokes”, “oh, she must be a fan of my constant neediness and tears”.

Now, this elusive “one” leaves in its wake a bunch of really nice, pretty and normal people who seem to be dumped because of these character’s delusions.

Finding love and being happy forever? B-o-o-ring. But the constant hunt for one that starts with optimism followed by a disaster date that involves crap like she smiles weirdly, she doesn’t like hummus or she talks about killing her cats all the time and ends with a shrug and ‘eh, the one is still out there’ and more damn optimism.

If I went on as many dates as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, I’m pretty sure I’d probably run out people in Mumbai. Plus, be very broke (anyone notices how this writer never reads and never picks a guy who reads? C’mon, make out with Mr. Big and then discuss Hemingway. That would be hot! Also, I’m quoting Newsroom here, but I know Carrie must’ve made boatloads writing her eight-hundred-word column for a newspaper no one’s ever heard of).

All of these lovelorn characters have jobs that they barely pay any attention to, how can you when you spend half your day running into pretty men at the bakery and the other half obsessing over what she meant when she said “we need to talk”. You’d think after about a billion failed relationships, they’d know better.

My problem isn’t that these are unrealistic, it is television after all, but I’m tired of all of them being clones of each other. The idealistic talk of “all encompassing, unconditional love”, the stupid insights on love….the works. It’s always the same. Surely, the cynics who understand deadlines and dwindling bank balances also find love. Yup, they do. They just don’t spend as much time talking about it and crying on their friend’s shoulders at 3 am on weekday.

Grey’s Anatomy characters I want to punch in the face

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Grey’s Anatomy characters I want to punch in the face

The world is divided into two: one half has seen all eight seasons of Grey’s Anatomy and the other half has turned into haters because of Star World’s badly cut promos. I, of course have seen every single episode and have shed way too many tears. The show has great writing, extremely well developed characters and plot lines but god, some of their characters needs to be strangled.

These are five of the most annoying characters from Grey’s anatomy.

Izzie

The oh-so pretty Katherine Heigl plays Izzie in the initial episodes of Grey’s and is by far the most annoying character ever. Oh god, she cries over Alex and then she cries over George and she cries over Denny and every little thing is such a dramatic moment in her life, you want to shake her up and say “Hey, you’re a surgeon remember? Keep it together woman!” Then there is that nonsense about her hallucinating Denny, leaving her husband Alex for some ridiculous reason and just basically being a pretty lump of childish shenanigans.

Teddy

Kim Raver’s character Teddy appears to be an afterthought. She was introduced a conflict between Hunt and Christina but gave up on that, dated Sloane in a story line that lasted 5 minutes and then married a patient so he would get insurance cover. Then she fell in love with him and then he died. Wow, talk about original. Teddy is just a terribly written character that even Shonda Rhimes doesn’t seem to like. This is a half-assed postscript.

Arizona

Perky, happy curly-haired pediatric surgery attending Arizona Robbins makes me want to slap her or chop off her stupid bouncy curls. Not just because she’s happy all the time but because she tries to be happy all the time. Oh, look at me, I’m so full of life and magic and glitter. Although, the first episode of Season 9, seems to have killed her good spirits and you can call me a monster but there is a teeny tiny part of me that is glad she lost her legs and we might see less of her.

Meredith

The needy, the depressed, bland-faced Meredith and her self-destructive problems, Meredith is by far the most annoying protagonist in the history of protagonists. Oh, look, my life is so sad but I’m a fighter blah blah blah.

April

For obvious annoying-voice-jumpy-nervous reasons.

Manic pixie dream bitches

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Manic pixie dream bitches

Aww, silly Jess look she just fell over the couch and showed her pink underwear to a bunch of important people at a fancy party. Whoops. How cute is that?

Ohnonono, poor Rebecca. She just opened her mouth and said something silly to a big shot man in a suit. What is she going to do? Ohmaagood, he loved her idea and though she was cute. Oh, well…giggle.

I’m fucking tired of these girls. I’m not saying all manic pixie dream girls are annoying. Some of them, I actually like. Because they are fun and a little crazy and mostly, they aren’t trying really hard to be. Jess of New Girl is the most recent character to make my blood boil. The thick rimmed glasses and the cute summer dresses and the incessant jabbering and the clumsiness. And they all look the same right down to the bangs and the nervous hand twitching. How can that be anything but adorable?

Well there is absolutely nothing cute about being a klutz. I know, because I am one, and I wish everyday that I would wake up and not hurt myself with the pointy edges of my bed, the hard meter in that rickshaw, stub my toe against the table or scrape my knee. If you know me in real life and have never seen me fall down a flight of stairs or bleed from a wound I got from that drawer handle, please comment and let me know. I have marks and bruises all over and it is not cute. Can’t really wear flowery little summer dresses when you’ve got a large scab on you ankle can you? And from experience, I can say that summer dresses when you know you’re going to be drinking is just heresy. (It’s a long story and it involves alcohol and me screaming “Propeller blades” and twirling around, arms to the sides.)

It is not cute to be embarrassed all the time; it is not cute to have broken so many glasses that you only use steel ones to drink water. It is not cute when there are actual stories starting with “Remember that time when Sharanya banged her head against something/fell of the bed.”

And that fact that television and movies think it’s cute for a girl to hurt herself and make an ass out herself and always get a man who finds all these little idiosyncrasies of her lovable pisses me off. Is it because a helpless little silly girl is what guys want? So, they can take care of her? Is a girl who has no control over her body and mouth endearing?

I do not get it. I just don’t.

 

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