OPINIONATRIX…because my opinions dominate

{November 18, 2008}   The Sad Decline of Heroes…


Last night, I did something I couldn’t have imagined doing two years ago: I erased this weeks episode of Heroes from my DVR without watching it.  I know, I know, how can I possibly call myself a fan? Well folks, the sad truth is, I can’t.  Can anyone?  Seriously, who enjoys this show anymore? Heroes started out with so much potential.  It encompassed an interesting storyline, filled with a diverse cast, conflicted characters and magical powers.  It introduced problems and questions fast and then quickly followed them up with action that led to answers.  Honestly, the first season unraveled almost perfectly.  Mystery, character development, action and eye candy (hello Sendhil Ramamurthy)!  Who’d have thought things could go so wrong.

Last season I chalked up the misteps in plot to the writers strike that plagued all of TV.  This season there is no excuse.  I am not alone in my opinions either.  The ratings have declined tremendously, and friends of mine who used to be avid fans have since abandoned ship. The problems are wide and varied but I think one thing stands out among the rest.  This show started out as a show about conflicted characters who were trying to discover who they were as people.  Sure there was action sequences and “bad guy” fighting mixed in there, but at the core the show as about it’s characters trying to live ordinary lives as extraordinary people.  Currently, Heroes has too many characters (most of which are under developed at best) and the mythology has taken over the show.  I am unable to keep track of storylines and timelines and frankly I don’t care.  This is a case of trying to hard.  Sometimes simple is better.

Frankly, as disapointed as I am, I am happy to be freed from it’s crazyness.  Glad that I’ll no longer have to watch it linger on my DVR playlist until I feel guilty enough to watch it.  To anyone out there who still enoys this show – power to you.  To everyone else – fear not! Lost returns soon.


I love Desperate Housewives.  I have been a fan since season one and even stuck by it during the “Betty Applewhite season 2 slump.”  This show is the perfect blend of quirky, over-the-top, backstabbing fun and I look forward to it every week.

I think the 5 year jump forward has served this season very well.  It allowed the writers to create a virtually new show, without abandoning the characters fans have grown to love.  So far, I think most of the stories are entertaining and juicy.  I look forward to see where this season takes us.

Unfortunately, I do have one criticism. The Gabby storyline.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that Gabby has become a frumpy, cash strapped mother of two.  What I am not a fan of is the “fat children” story.  This show has enough material to work with, without using the plight of chubby children to get laughs.  I get it.  Gabby is image obsessed and yet has to contend with two overweight children.  I just think it hits a sour note.  I feel bad judging the appearance of kids.  I mean these characters are supposed to be under 5 years old, and we are laughing at their expense?!  Surely this isn’t necessary.  A funnier story would be for Gabby’s kids to be just as image obsessed as she used to be, and to be embarrassed of their mothers looks, style, lack of expensive things, etc.  I would feel much more comfortable indulging in a little schadenfruede if it was aimed at an adult.

I remember reading somewhere that the cast and crew go to great lengths not to shoot the scenes disparaging the looks of the two child actresses in front of them, but kids are perceptive.   Surely this has to affect them.  It’s not that I don’t think this story line is fair game, lord knows there are worse things on TV these days.  I just think that a show like Desperate Housewives which has so much to work with, it is completely unnecessary.

Last night while channel surfing, I happened upon TLC; the learning channel.  I am an occasional watcher of Jon and Kate plus Eight, (a lighthearted look at a family raising twins and sextuplets) and have an odd fascination with large and unique families.  I was in luck, because I unexpectedly stumbled upon the Duggar Family.

OMG! Within minutes I was hooked.  The Duggars are a family of 19: Mom, Dad and seventeen children (with number 18 on the way).  In case you hadn’t guessed it; they don’t believe in birth control. The family is very clearly Christian/conservative when it comes to most everything, and thus they live their lives as such. Last nights episode followed oldest son Josh (20) as he proposed to Anna.

The Duggars seem like lovely people, they are endearing and fun to watch, but who knew people still lived this way!  Josh flew out to Florida to propose to a girl he had met two years prior at a home schooling conference.  There had not been much of a ‘relationship’ since then (other than some contact between the families) but Josh felt “the lord was guiding him to choose Anna.” Anna accepted his proposal and the two celebrated with a hug.  All throughout the episode, various members of the Duggar family guided the viewers through the appropriate “courtship” rituals.

* Josh and Anna could hold hands, but nothing more

* They could not kiss until their wedding day

* They could not be alone together and had to have a chaperone with them wherever they went

I know right!? Who knew this kind of innocence still existed?  I cannot imagine not kissing or being left alone with my future husband until after we were married.  Not to mention deciding to marry someone I barely knew.  It was so odd to watch.  I felt like this family was from another era.  Josh and Anna were cute and cuddly, but I couldn’t help but think they appeared to be playing “house.” When Josh took her to the car lot he works at and remarked “this will be our life,” I didn’t know weather to laugh or cry.  It’s such a simple existence; dominated by puritan values.

I do not look down on the Duggar’s religious ideology.  It’s just so foreign to me.  I wonder how many people in this country grow up this way, entering into marriage without the slightest idea of what love is.  I am sure Josh and Anna will be very happy: they come from similar backgrounds and have identical values.  In today’s world that can be half the battle.  It’s just that they seemed to young, so innocent, so ill prepared for the adult world.

As the show came to an end, I found myself so engrossed in the daily rituals of the Duggar family that I immediately began to look forward to the next episode.  The Duggar’s are so much fun to watch, because they’re so weird.  Surprisingly, it is not their large family that astounds me but rather the way in which they live their lives.  Even the people who come into contact with them onscreen seem shocked by their interpretation of the world around them.  I feel for the Duggar’s.  I am sure their show will be successful, but unlike Jon and Kate plus Eight I doubt viewers will be able to empathize or see themselves in the family.  Instead, the Duggar’s are perceived much like animals in a zoo: odd, exotic and fun to oggle. On some level, that’s a little sad.

{October 2, 2008}   Bill Maher: Funny or Insulting?

This past week Bill Maher has been all over the place promoting his new film Religulous.  I am a big fan of Bill Maher. I find him both amusing and insightful on a whole host of issues and watch his show (Real Time with Bill Maher) regularly.  However, I am a little taken aback with the way he speaks about both religion and those who believe in it. It is not Maher’s beliefs that I take issue with, he has every right to be an atheist.  However, calling those of us who believe in g-d or a higher power crazy or delusional is downright bigoted.

This week on The View, Maher mocked the religious views of Sherri Shepard, telling her she belonged at Bellevue (a NYC based psychiatric ward).  This is rude and unproductive.  You can disagree with someone without becoming disdainful and insulting.

Not everyone is going to agree on everything, that is the beauty of America!  We can disagree without resorting to schoolyard taunts and bullying tactics.  I think we should question religion.  As a Jew, I know that a large tenant of my religion is the constant questioning both g-d’s motives and reasoning.  Judaism holds learning and the acquisition of knowledge of utmost importance.  To portray religious people as idiots who will buy into anything their told is unfair and untrue.

Maher also differentiates between religion, spirituality and faith.  Spirituality is ok with him, religion and faith on the other hand are apparently sub-par.  Faith, whether it be tied to religion or not, is what keeps a large majority of us going through tough times.  Faith is a gift we often give ourselves to keep us from giving up hope, because even in situations when everything else is lost we can still have faith.

I will probably see Religulous.  It looks like it will be funny, entertaining and even informative.  I dont think that Bill Maher means to be pejorative, perhaps it is just his way of arguing his point while trying to remain funny.  As a religious person I find him insulting, but as a comedian I recognize the humor.

I love listening to religious debates, but they have to be conducted with respect and understanding.  Maher has stated that he is trying to impart the message that “religion is just an opinion.”  This may be so, but in arguing this he has to recognize that for many people (of all religions), it is not only an opinion but a very important part of their day to day lives.  Without this recognition and respect, Maher comes off as mean and arrogant, and no one really puts any stock in anything said by one who comes off as a bully.

In a television era overflowing with reality based programming, it is both surprising and amusing that the best reality show out there is the current presidential election.  These past few months have been an onslaught of one political gaffe after another, with moments of triumph intermittently dispersed throughout. The aggression and cattiness are at levels that contestants on America’s Next Top Model can only aspire to.

CBS’s recent roll out of the Katie Couric/Sarah Palin interviews have stirred up quite a storm – and rightfully so!  I was shocked at how uninformed and incoherent Governor Palin came across.  Furthermore, to actually have John McCain by her side, like a protective father figure, just in case she needed a helping hand was one of the most sexist things I have seen to date.  SNL did an amazing job of recreating the interview, but sadly they could have aired the original and gotten just as many laughs.

This would all be incredibly entertaining if our country wasn’t at stake. Sarah Palin doesn’t just seem to be in “over her head,” she comes off as a woman completely uninterested in the world around her.  She only recently got a passport, admitted (before being ‘tapped’ as VP) that she had only “heard about the surge on the news” and could not come up with a single publication that she regularly reads.  I have no doubt that she is a shrewd and smart woman, if she weren’t she would not have been able to get to where she is today.

It seems that she is popular in Alaska, and has implemented some good policies for the state.  However, Alaska is very different from the rest of the United States.  I know this because I have lived there.  Unlike ‘the bottom 49,’ Alaskans profit from the land on which they reside:

Every year, the state legislature takes out 8 percent from the earnings, puts 3 percent back into the principal for inflation proofing, and the remaining 5 percent is distributed to all qualifying Alaskans. To qualify for the Alaska State Permanent Fund one must have lived in the state for a minimum of 11 months, and maintain constant residency.

This is neither good nor bad but it is different from how the national government works.  Governor Palin often touts the fact that she “gave that money back to the people,” but in actuality this is a policy that has been in action since 1982 – way before Palin became governor.  Furthermore, the state lacks racial diversity, and although about 15% of its residents are Native American is a fairly homogeneous state.  It is beautiful and filled with a culture of its own, but it is important to note that its state policies and demographics do not necessarily prepare someone for Vice President.

Joe Biden has not been without his slip ups either, but unlike Palin when it comes to the issues, he knows what he is talking about.  Biden’s gaffes stem not from ignorance, but from the classic “speaking before you think,” problem. He says what’s on his mind, but is in no way uninformed.  This is probably why Biden’s stumbles do not effect him as much as one would think.  He may accidentally ask a paralyzed man to stand up at a campaign rally, but the story fades quickly as it has no bearing on his ability to execute decisions on important policies.  Sarah Palin’s “slip ups” raise doubts about her knowledge and understanding of the issues, making them much more significant.

Tonights debate should be interesting.  While it is easy to assume that Joe Biden will walk out the ceremonious champion, I wouldn’t go there so fast.  Debating Palin will no doubt be a challenge.  Any aggression will be touted by the Republicans as sexism, and let’s not forget Bidens gaffe-tastic ways.  Were I advising Joe Biden I would recommend he stick to the issues, because this is where Sarah Palin loses her bearings.  Biden needs to give short and succinct answers and then turn the floor over to Governor Palin.  I cannot wait to see how this plays out.  National interest is at peak level, and this is both Biden and Palin’s chance to show the American people that they are ready, willing and able to lead this country.

Hopefully no matter why we tune in, the focus of the debate will remain on the issues. It is so important right now to focus on what really matters: the economy, national security, civil rights and social issues.  I cannot wait to hear the candidates opinions.  It should be an interesting night, and the perfect continuation of the greatest show on TV!

{September 23, 2008}   And The Emmy Goes To

I don’t know exactly what I expected from “The 60th Primetime Emmy’s.”   By now I’ve learned that, on the whole, awards shows are never that entertaining.  So why tune in?  I have always been a fan of television and watch more than I probably should. I’m a true fan, and can appreciate both a brilliant series and an enormously guilty pleasure. So I suppose when I turned on the TV last night, I expected to watch a show that would adequately honor the people who help to create the medium I love so much.  Sadly, I was disappointed.

The host of an awards show is extremelly important.  This was last evenings telecasts’ major downfall.  The 5 hosts (Heidi Klum, Howie Mandel, Tom Bergeron, Ryan Secrest and Jeff Probst) were unprepared and decidedly unoriginal. Instead of opening the show with a bang, they babbled on about nothing; entertaining no one and making the viewer feel both awkward and uncomfortable.

The show somehow managed to feel bloated and rushed simultaneously, and the highlights and funny moments were few and far between.  Josh Groban’s ode to popular TV theme songs was fun, but could not make up for the lack of inspiration that was the rest of the evening.  Furthermore, the fact that the recipients were “banned” from talking about politics was ridiculous.  What ever happened to free speech?!  However, it did give way to some funny moments such as the John Stewart/Stephen Colbert debate about prunes.

Overall, I was happy with the winners.  I hope all the accolades help to draw more viewers to the magic that is 30 Rock and Mad Men (both remarkable series).  However, in the future I pray that the Academy will think of a better way to honor an industry that really deserves more than what this years show delivered.

The summer is winding down, kids are going back to school and Gossip Girl is back with new episodes!  I don’t know what it is about this show that has me so hooked.  It’s certainly not breaking any barriers. But just like the foam at the top of my daily latte; it’s light, frothy and though it lacks any real substance I always love drinking it down!

Last night’s premiere found us in the Hamptons where Serena was still pining for Dan, Blaire and Chuck were caught in a game of one upmanship as to who could make the other more jealous, Nate was sleeping with a married woman and Jenny and Dan were toiling away at their respective summer jobs.

The episode was only so-so.  The Blaire/Chuck story line was by far the most interesting, probably due to the fact that they are the most conflicted and layered characters Gossip Girl has to offer us.  For Serena and Dan, I think we all knew it was just a matter of time before they reconnected, although how long that will last only time will tell. Something tells me, it will be much like the Dawson/Joey love story from Dawson’s Creek, where the two go back and forth, even though as viewers we all know in the end that they’ll be together.  Nate – dating a married woman?!  Really? Is that the best the writers could come up with.  Obviously, it has the potetial to generate many scandalous story lines but it’s so textbook.  It has been done countless times before, and the only way it can truly work is if the writers somehow find a different angle from which to approach it.  As of now, it looked pretty pedestrian.  However, the story line I truly hated was Jenny’s.  After toiling away, sorting buttons in a designer warehouse and being spoken down to the entire time, she shows up at THE hottest party, in her own creation and is then complimented by Tinsley Mortimer in front of her boss. Firstly, does anyone outside the Manhattan social scene even know who Tinsley Mortimer is?  I live in NYC and the only thing I know about her is she’s rich, fashionable and shows up at society parties.  Plus, Jenny’s storyline never really intersected with the rest of the gang.  While interesting, it seemed stilted and out of place.

While the narrative may have been less than compelling, as always the show managed to deliver. It always leaves me hanging on for more – even when there is no reason to still be paying attention.  What is it about this show?  It’s just so otherworldly.  It makes one dream of belonging to a beautiful world overflowing with money, fancy parties and dramatic problems.  It serves as escapism in the true sense of the word. Sure the values are askew and the characters’ lives are often a mess but at least they have the glamor and glitz to go along with it.  Gossip Girl serves as a voyeurs periscope into what the everyman thinks the lives of the uber rich might look like.  It allows us to live the high life along with them even if only for an hour every week.

In creating Gossip Girl Joshua Schwartz has tapped into the exact nature of escapism today’s viewers are looking for.  To be able to leave the rocky economy, the daily grind and the pressure of adult life and just for a short time to dip into the pool of excess, drama and fashion.

Who can forget Regis Philbin’s run as the host of “Who wants to be a Millionaire?” The show took TV by storm becoming a fun, short lived phenomenon. It actually might still be on the air but I’d pretty much bet the farm that no one’s watching. Anyway, I digress.

It seems Regis couldn’t get enough of trying to help out good natured regular folks in their quest to win 1 million dollars. So consequently, Regis and CBS have teamed up to bring us some good summer game show fun. And tonight marks the premiere of CBS’s new game show Million Dollar Password.

The show is basically a re-tooling of the classic game show but with a couple of twists. CBS has added, more money, more glitz and of course celebrities. Each week will feature 2 different celebs teaming up with regular people in an effort to try and help them win a million bucks. The game itself is pretty simple:

One player from the team is told secret passwords and can use only one-word clues to get the teammate to guess them. If the player and the celebrity can work well together and become a solid team, that player could uncover the MILLION DOLLAR PASSWORD. (CBS Website)

I am not much of a game show watcher, although I do LOVE games, but due to the end of the television season my TV show standards have greatly decreased. As far as game shows go, I think it’s pretty good. It moves at a fast pace, Regis is entertaining and it is fun to see celebrities interacting with regular (sometimes slightly starstruck) people.

I tend to hate pseudo game shows like “Moment of Truth” in which the sole purpose of the show seems to be the tearing down of its’ contestants, and that is probably why Million Dollar Password appeals to me. It’s good, clean fun!

My only gripe, you can’t really play along. Unlike “Who wants to be a millionaire” where you can guess the answer, this show is more about the connection between the two players on screen. That being said, if you’re bored and in need of something to watch… this one’s not half bad… for a game show.


The press has been buzzing about this movie for weeks and the fans have been anticipating it for years. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it should come as no surprise that the Sex and the City movie has almost usurped the 2008 election in terms of coverage and conversation.

I should confess now that I was not a fan of the show during its 6 year television run. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t have access since I don’t subscribe to HBO. I have seen an episode or two on late night tv, but never really fell into the frenzied, obsessed mass of women that look to Carrie as g-d and Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha as disciples.

However, when I friend of mine invited me out for “a night with the girls” to go see Sex and the City, how could I decline? Even as a non-fan, I didn’t want to be left out of countless future conversations, nor did I want to pass up a fun girls night out. So I went figuring that even though I didn’t know the backstory or personalities of any of the characters I would be able to figure it out.

What did I think?

Well, to start out I should say that this movie may be about 4 women but there are 5 lead characters (6 if you count “the city”). Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte are merely the vessels used to show off the countless designer gowns, suits, shoes and outfits that sashayed across the screen at every turn. It was like a feast for the fashion hungry eyes. Yes, I know that designer labels may be overpriced and frivolous, but they are also fun and beautifully gorgeous.

The first hour of the movie moves at a quick, if not predictable pace, and is truly the epitome of a fun romantic comedy. It is lighthearted, funny and filled with many “aww how cute” moments. Carrie and Big decide to marry, we are ensconced in the perfection of their relationship, and the wedding planning begins. There is even a bridal fashion shoot for Vogue thrown in which can only be classified as fashion porn. For the other girls; Miranda is dealing with the fact that her marriage is falling apart, Samantha is struggling with being bi-coastal (now that she is living in LA with Smith Jerrod) and Charlotte is lost in happily married bliss.

But now, thanks to the wedding, they are back to wining and dining as a foursome. It is almost perfect, except that it isn’t. Big gets cold feet, stands Carrie up and thus sends her into a downward spiral. This is the point at which the movie begins to feel long and especially overwrought. We spend the next half of the movie waiting for Carrie to get back on track and figure out her next move.

I have to say, the details of this movie are definitely a plus. Every flower, belt, outfit and glass seemed placed deliberately. It was, if nothing else, a beautiful movie. I only wish the plot and writing had been thought out with the same amount of deliberation. At times the dialogue felt over dramatic and unrealistic, and 2 and a half hours is too long for a plot that is all too predictable.

All this aside, I would probably recommend you see this movie if you are looking for a fun way to spend your night. It is a perfect movie to see with a bunch of your girlfriends as long as no one is expecting anything magnanimous in terms of movie making. The Sex and the City fans I saw it with were swept away in a SATC like bliss, consequently I would surmise that the fans will probably get the ending they had been hoping for. If you are looking for an award winning film you should probably turn elsewhere…

Go see the movie and be part of the nation wide Sex and the City conversation that is sure to be happening around water-coolers everywhere. Just keep in mind though, Sex and the City is a movie, not the second coming of the messiah.

Rachel Ray has always annoyed me. I just don’t understand how a woman who throws together some sauteed chicken, steamed vegetables and a wild rice has become America’s “go to” woman for cooking advice. I also find her Ray-isms contrived and really cumbersome. If I hear “Yumm-o” or “EVOO” one more time in a conversation I might just strangle someone.

All this being said, I would never go as far as to compare her to a terrorist. Who could be afraid of Rachel Ray? Well apparently the right wing bloggosphere (being led by Michelle Malkin). Malkin, came out against Rachel Ray’s recent Dunkin Donuts commercial because she thought the scarf around Ray’s neck looked like a keffiyeh. Yeah, this is true… I know, I can’t believe it either.

For those of you who don’t know the definition of a keffiyeh, it is (as described by wikipedia):

a traditional headdress of Arab men, made of a square of cloth (“scarf”), usually cotton, folded and wrapped in various styles

Here is Malkin’s definition:

the traditional scarf of Arab men that has come to symbolize murderous Palestinian jihad. Popularized by Yasser Arafat and a regular adornment of Muslim terrorists appearing in beheading and hostage-taking videos, the apparel has been mainstreamed by both ignorant (and not-so-ignorant) fashion designers, celebrities, and left-wing icons

Does the right wing bloggosphere really believe the American people to be so undereducated that we would mistake Rachel Ray in a Donut commercial for a terrorist. And furthermore, a keffiyeh is nothing more than a traditional part of Islamic garb. Would there have been such a firestorm had Rachel Ray been wearing a hat that resembled a yarmulke or a necklace that looked like a cross?

Well, amazingly (and disappointingly), Dunkin Donuts has pulled the ad. WOW, this is so ridiculous I am at a loss for words. What made Dunkin Donuts so spineless… did they really think people would stop buying coffee and donuts because they mistook Rachel Ray for a terrorist trying to spread anti-American sentiments?

Well I was never Dunkin Donuts fan to begin with so I guess I’ll just chalk this up as one more reason to continue to frequent Starbucks for all my coffee needs.

et cetera