Thursday, November 29, 2012


By Erin Jackson

Catfish was a documentary film that was a little unbelievable in 2010, and even more so in this profile linked, google-image searched 2012 lifestyle we lead. A young man, Nev, receives a few paintings from a little girl who saw some photos he took for a newspaper online and painted them for him. He keeps in touch with her and her family and soon forms a relationship with her older sister. When he tries to meet up with her, things begin to fall apart. The paintings were not those of a child prodigy, but those of a middle aged woman, who was also the person Nev thought was his 20-something girlfriend.
I had mixed feelings about it, as most of Nev's "discoveries" felt orchestrated and phony, and his upbeat, forgiving attitude felt disingenuous. So when I heard they would be making a series featuring people duped by others online, I was flummoxed. How would this transfer over to a series? How could he possibly find others in similar situations and present them this same way? The answer to these questions is a mixed bag. The faux DIY aesthetic aped from the film is a turn off. I still find it baffling that not only would someone create a years long fake persona but that someone would completely buy into it. And yet, after two episodes, I'm kind of hooked. The first episode followed a girl who thought she was dating a male model who, over the phone, sounded like a 12 year old boy. He kept giving preposterous reasons for not being able to meet up. This went on for a year, I think? Spoiler alert: he was not a male model. He was not a male. The girl who thought she was dating a male model kept asking "But wait, so, are you gay?" in a way that was bordering on a hate crime but then I realized that she wasn't homophobic, she just wanted to make sure that someone thought she was hot. After the "Catfish" told her that she might be bi-sexual maybe and that she thought she was good looking, everything was fine and they became friends. Which I think says a lot about these kinds of relationships. For everyone out there who is desperately lonely that they would create a false identity, there is someone equally self-obsessed and needy enough that they will believe anything as long as they are the center of someone's life.
The second episode is a little different. The "Catfish-ee" is an exotic dancer who thinks she met another exotic dancer online. She says she loved that they were from the same world and didn't judge each other, but again, weird excuses for not meeting up and he only sent her four pictures. Oh, sweetie, no. The "Catfish" turns out to be a slightly older and rather rounder than her beloved "Scorpio" but they too became friends and she decides she needs some time to make some life changes and not wait around for a guy to change her life. Good for her.
I hope they can add some variety to their "Catfish-ees" since I half wonder if this isn't part of a larger Catfish scheme where Nev gets people to dupe pretty ladies so he can swoop in and get some sweet Catfish lovin'. I still can't believe there are enough of these stories to sustain a series, and yet each week, there's a fairly compelling, if not bloated and drawn out, story about people reaching out to other people in some sort of jacked up way. It's that "okay, that has to be it though, right?" feeling after each episode that will keep me watching (this week's episode features a 10 year long relationship, what?!), half-hoping it gets cancelled and half-hoping it keeps going on for years. You know, that feeling you get after pretty much every MTV reality show.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here ( when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Monday, November 26, 2012


By Jaclyn Hutchins

I don’t know if I deserve a gold star or a smack on the forehead for watching the entire 19th cycle of America’s Next Top Model, but I did it either way. I watched this show more regularly than shows like Grey’s Anatomy or The Good Wife aka shows I’m not embarrassed to say I watch. And you know what- I enjoyed every minute of it.

I enjoyed the irony behind the “College Edition” theme and how many times Tyra referenced her recently earned Harvard degree (I’m very confused by this by the way.).

I enjoyed hating the super-pretty-super-bitch Kristin.

I enjoyed the “staring at a car crash” feeling I got when watching Victoria talk about her relationship with her mother.


And of course, I enjoyed the makeovers, the fantastic photo shoots, and watching the judges evaluate the girls’ photos.

It didn’t even really matter who won, and next time I’m sick, I really hope Oxygen or Lifetime is having one of their Top Model marathons. I just can’t help myself.

Jaclyn Hutchins lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and teaches high school English. She is asked if her teacher knows where she is least once a month despite being perilously close to 30. Jaclyn’s latest rule for herself is that she cannot watch TV until she has completed her run for the day. She runs her first half-marathon in October.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Once Upon a Meh

By Megan Geilman

Season 1 of the new family fantasy series Once Upon a Time written by LOST writers Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz was somewhat promising. Starring Jennifer Morris and Ginnifer Goodwin, the show had family appeal, charm, and enough intrigue to keep you watching. Plus the occasional reference to LOST sent my fanatic heart a flutter. It combined all the classic storybook children’s characters into one giant bedtime conglomeration and sent them to our magic-less world. Since ABC is owned by Disney, there was free reign to use the likenesses of characters like Belle and Maleficent...and I’ll admit it was cute, at first.

Though the show features some semi big names in Morris and Goodwin, the best actor by far is Robert Carlyle--a theatre trained actor (another formulaic takeaway from LOST’s Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson) who is INCREDIBLE as Mr. Gold...but just plain weird as Rumplestiltskin with his little high pitched laugh and nasty teeth. 

The second season leaves the characters still stuck in Storybrook but now they all remember who they are. Snow and Emma have been thrown BACK to the land of magic, which has had it’s own troubles while everyone else was caught in a time-warp curse daze cast by the Evil Queen Regina. They’ve started introducing more obscure Disney character’s...and while I’m liking the saucy Capt. Hook that looks a little more Jack-Sparrow than Dustin Hoffman with the guy-liner, I draw the line at Mulan (who apparently does not reside in Sui Dynasty China, but has been fighting alongside and simultaneously fallen in love with Sleeping Beauty’s Prince Phillip). The storyline of storytime has grown convoluted and confusing.

I feel like Disney is hosting a high school reunion and everyone is invited, including kids from other schools they never hung out with, and messing up the order of things. And it looks like it’s not stopping there: In a recent episode entitled “The Doctor” --who ended up being Dr. Frankenstein--but who I originally thought was The Wizard of Oz since they referenced him several times as a “Wizard of Sorts” from a different land and his costume looked like it walked straight off the set of Wicked. Understandably this was probably the episode that aired around Halloween, but I’m having enough trouble keeping classic story tales AND Disney story-lines straight, I don’t need Boris Karloff and Gene Roddenberry showing up in my dreams. Which reminds me, they have yet to introduce Willy Wonka--who probably has a tiff with Jack the Pumpkin King for sleeping with Pocahontas.
Peace out ABC, I’m done.

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She recently relocated to beautiful San Clemente, CA with her husband, unborn child, and design business. She lives a half mile from the beach and plans on eating a lot of avocados. She occasionally blogs at and

Thursday, November 15, 2012


By Megan Geilman

Do you miss it? Do you miss the Election? The excitement, the constant poll watching, the barrage of negative ads, the endless Facebook debates (not to mention the REAL debacles, I mean debates). Yeah me neither.

Well, whether or not you got your kicks from all the election fervor, here is a little gem of a show that will keep you entertained without all the real-life drama. It’s centered around the fictional campaign of a third place candidate for a Wisconsin Senate Race. I absolutely loved this show and I’m hoping this review might in some small way help to get a 2nd season on the air--which is still a possibility, from what the interwebs tell me.

The writing is strong and the characters are fantastic: if you do not absolutely love Ben you have no soul. And if you do not absolutely love-hate Tak you have no brain. All the characters are memorable and sincerely remind you of people you know, wish you knew, or wish you didn’t know. Done in the mockumentary style, the characters are interviewed at some point in the future which gives you clues to where they end up, but not how they got there--which in my opinion, is a brilliant plot move and this show does it juuuust right.

It’s a Hulu original series, but it does not disappoint for quality: one of the show’s head honchos is Marc Webb, whom you may know by a little show called “500 Days of Summer” which he directed. Oh yeah, and “The Amazing Spider-man” which he directed as well. J.D. Walsh heads up the project and adds great local flavor since he himself grew up in Madison, WI and the entire show is set and filmed on location. Sure it doesn’t have the “Hollywood” of DC, but that’s part of the appeal. It brings the show into a sphere of accessibility for us lovers of all things local...idealists who have ever worked on something just a little bit bigger than ourselves. It’s a show with an artisanal craft feel--no additives, no preservatives--just good quality TV that cuts the corporate crap (even though Hulu is a conglomerate of ABC, NBC, and Fox).

I realize the timing of the show may not be ideal--we are all feeling a little bit jaded from the last year of pundits and partisanship. I originally watched the show when it aired back during the Republican Primaries, it was all still new and exciting back then, and the show let me keep the excitement going without the stress of who would come out on top. Personally, I’m really hoping the writers were just waiting for the election to be over so that they would have new writing material, especially since the season finale ended with an offer for the staff to work on the Presidential campaign. Fingers are crossed. Until then, I can do my part by campaigning for more viewers to watch its first season.

Megan Geilman has had an on-again-off-again relationship with television since she was young and her parents occasionally let her stay up to watch Star Trek and X-Files. She recently relocated to beautiful San Clemente, CA with her husband, unborn child, and design business. She lives a half mile from the beach and plans on eating a lot of avocados. She occasionally blogs at and

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Survivor Episodes 6 & 7

By Lorraine Jackson

Episode 6: Let Them Eat Cake

People shivered and starved, shivered and starved, got muddy, made eachother muddy, put their muddy bodies against other people’s muddy bodies, and stood there for several hours in one of the less impressively designed Survivor Challenges that I have seen. Poor intern that invented the giant mud ball pit game probably had his torch extinguished last week, too.

In the end, the reward had to be won by negotiation, and Kalabaw agreed to give Tandang the remainder of their rice rations in exchange for the reward of soup, sandwiches, and brownies.

A friendly survivor tip: If you haven’t eaten real food in several days and then someone sits you down at a Kneaders and tells you to go nuts, nibble. Nibble on the carbs and protein, and for the love of everything holy, do not eat the brownies. That is all.

Expectedly, Kalabaw, starving, cold, and wet, loses the immunity challenge and sends home the 2nd and final 90 pound beauty queen, in hopes that someone on that tribe can feed them.

Episode 7: Let’s get together, yeah yeah NO.

Time to merge these babies. I have now put all my hopes and dreams into the breadbasket of Denise and Malcolm’s reunited alliance. The tribes are united on a new beach, and yet again, the hungry folk binge on red wine and bread. I cannot fathom what an emaciated hangover feels like.

Immediately, ChildStarLisa starts mothering around camp and airing out the dirty laundry- literally. And in the course, finds Wise Malcolm’s hidden immunity idol. Wise Malcolm begrudgingly pulls her into his alliance, and ChildStarLisa officially becomes the luckiest freaking mother hen on Planet Earth.

The immunity challenge is an endurance test, which is my favorite kind. I love watching middle class Americans slowly bake in the jungle to win a million dollars.

The producers decide to award immunity to the best man and the best woman. So you can imagine my joy when TherapistDenise won immunity FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME after almost 19 days in the wilderness.

Boy immunity was won by QuietCuteCarter, who I still know absolutely nothing about, though I would gander a guess that he would have lost to Denise if there had only been one immunity necklace.

Tribal Council is everything you could ever want out of a reality show. Senseless accusations, mild chaos, total unpredictability, and a grand finale of people crossing tribe alliances to vote out Returning Player Jonathan Penner, and Penner choosing to play his hidden immunity idol. BAM, Y’ALL.

The woman who brought her entire Victoria’s Secret Collection as her luxury item to the Philippines, R.C., was the victim of Penner’s idol, and EWJP sent her packing, sans torch.

What will become of Penner knowing that nearly everyone in his tribe tried to send him home? Will Denise make men cry with her awesomeness? Will Lisa continue to look more and more frazzled and less like a child star? All these questions will be answered soon.

Go forth and eat brownies.

Lorraine is a University employee by day, trash TV enthusiast at night, and equestrian nutcase all the time. She is wildly outnumbered by dudes in the house she shares with her husband Dan, cat Jeoffrey, and dog Reverend Trask.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Mind of a Chef

By Erin Jackson

Monday the 5th marked the final episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. Nope, no more reservations. None of them. I was mopey the whole day, and as that last episode unfolded, I was inundated with a seemingly never ending stream of horrible reality shows that would take its place. The one premiering afterword had something to do with a dude who travels to "dangerous places" (aka places with brown people) to find the best coffee beans. And the current favorite genre of cable "infotainment" channels like the Travel Channel, people who go around and find crap in storage lockers/hoarder's houses/suitcases and sell it at auctions. The show finished as soon as I finished eating my Asian fused vaguely Chinese tofu dish from Huntsville, Alabama and I couldn't help but think Tony Bourdain hates me. He's leaving TV and he thinks I eat horribly and I'm going to be stuck with nothing but cooking competitions and meaningless travel shows. There would be no witty voiceovers, no rhapsodizing over the simply beauty of street food or traditional peasant food, no exclusive looks into the real lives of cutting edge chefs.

It looked like the future of televised food would be a bleak Bourdain-less blur of blah. But then, on the horizon (or, rather, my Tumblr dashboard) came a clip of a new show on PBS called The Mind of a Chef. It featured David Chang (of the revered Momofuku) along with a few buddies including Parks and Rec's Aziz Ansari. They were eating a sandwich that looked at once beautiful and terrifyingly fattening and then I heard that voice and knew what it meant: Anthony Bourdain is back and (probably) doesn't hate me. David Chang is the focus of the show, but Anthony produces it and does the voiceover. And it's a wonderful show.

It's not a No Reservations clone, but it definitely has a good share of its DNA. There's a little bit of Good Eats thrown in there for good measure as well. It isn't so much a travel show as it is a show that explores what makes certain food what it is and what some people are doing with it. The first episode is all about noodles, more particularly ramen, and I will never look at a package of Top Ramen the same again. At one point David makes gnocchi out of pulverized noodles, explaining along the way the starch content of noodles and making a few quips about how Asians invented pasta, but that he still expects Italian people to roll over in their graves "…even the living ones" when they see this concoction. This is just minutes after he takes out an uncooked block of ramen, sprinkles it with the seasoning packet and scarfs it down.

Watching the third episode, titled "Memories" my mind wandered into that horrible metaphor that America is a giant melting pot. David mentioned how part of the reason he became a chef was that he wanted more people to eat the food he grew up on and didn't want people to think he was weird for eating kimchi rather than meatloaf. And that made me feel oddly patriotic. David does not shy away from including others' cultures into his food (see above: gnocchi heresy) but he does it with enough reverence and enough innovation that it isn't mere appropriation or mimicry, it's something else. I mean, maybe we're not a melting pot, but when I saw David make a Korean burrito with edamame, hoisin sauce and kimchi salsa, I was like "That's America, right there." So, I salute you, David Chang, Anthony Bourdain and all involved with The Mind of a Chef, the new criterion of culinary shows.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here ( when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ben's Parents

By John Richards

Let’s celebrate the return of Jean-Ralphio in his very own style:

Engagement Party.
Ben’s Parents.
Asian Girlfriend.
Mike from Breaking Bad!
Metaphorical Unity Quilt.
No More Tissues.
Twizzlers Better Than Red Vines. Say Whaaaaat?
Surprise Pregnancy.
Ultimate Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Showdown.

Forced Wedding Attendance.
Investment Opportunity Presentation.
Taxi Makeout Session.

Imma hit the couch, you know I be.

John is currently pursuing a JD/MBA at Santa Clara University School of Law. He likes sports, technology, and of course television. Follow him on twitter @j_rich or check out his blog

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Not just for the country lovers

By John Richards

I have never been a fan of country music. I am not vehemently opposed to the genre like some, but I also historically have never had any country tracks on my iPod/iPhone either. So no one is as surprised as I am that I have fallen fast and hard for ABC’s new drama Nashville. The show stars Connie Britton, aka Tami Taylor from Friday Night Lights, as Rayna James, the reigning Queen of Country in Nashville. But, Rayna’s hold on the crown is waning and is being challenged by an up and coming young superstar Juliette Barnes, played by Hayden Panettiere. The show’s characters are definitely intended to represent real life singers such as aging Faith Hill and pop superstar Taylor Swift. The season has started off with the two ladies fighting over tours, music, and of course, male guitarists.

But that isn’t what hooked me. I mean, I enjoy a good drama like anyone else, and this show serves the drama up beautifully. The show got me with the actual music. Trust me, my brain asplode as much as you, but watch this before you say anything else:

Yeah, I know right? Freaking good. A lot of the music for the show is being written by singing duo The Civil Wars. Google them if you want to increase your folk music collection’s awesomeness by a factor of 17. Oh and the two actors singing the song? Ya, that’s them actually singing. And get this, they are both foreign! An Aussie and Brit are crooning slow, melodramatic country. Slow clap.

I will always give a new show a one episode chance and this time I was not disappointed in the least. You won’t be either. Nashville is on Wednesdays on ABC.

*For all men trying to take away my man card, I have 5 words for you: Tami Taylor and Hayden Panettiere. You’re welcome.

John is currently pursuing a JD/MBA at Santa Clara University School of Law. He likes sports, technology, and of course television. Follow him on twitter @j_rich or check out his blog

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Are the Writers Trolling Us?

"Dad, the only thing more vomit inducing than you enjoying my boyfriend's sloppy seconds is this Boy George hat I borrowed."

We’re back!  Well played, Sandy, well played.  No Gossip Girl for us last week, although technically it was a repeat of that one episode I didn’t write about (mostly because it was booooooring).  I’m hoping tonight isn’t a repeat of those 42 minutes during which I played a few rounds of Pyramid Solitaire on Facebook.

To begin with, I hate to tell you this Barry Watson, but Serena’s slept with EVERYONE and so has Nate, so there are some really high odds of you having slept with their entire lists combined.  Later the plot thickens because –ahem- Lily’s been there, too.  Skanky really runs in this family.

New low, GG writer’s room.  Like I said – they have to be trolling us now.

Speaking of low - I hate Ivy.  And I hate that we appear to own the same pair of fierce red jeans that I sincerely love.  I’m going to try to erase them from my mind, while simultaneously praying Jenny ventures back to Brooklyn and kicks Ivy in her smoker throat.

Let’s switch gears to our King and Queen.  I miss the Met Steps days when Blair was always the perfect fashion icon.  Thankfully her significant-non-significant other is a little more on the mark (or rather the stylists are doing a better job).  There are two reasons I watch Gossip Girl: Chuck and Blair’s clothing choices, and their pop culture banter.  I saw that non-subtle Facebook IPO reference you made there!  They head to an equestrian event, which is full of some pretty marvelous sartorial choices until the Van der Woodsen’s show up in the frame again, and Sage assaults my eyes with an awful too-small hipster fedora.  

Remember when Bart was dead?  Life was so much better then. 

Two final thoughts:
1. Nate, I promise if you start chronicling your own sordid past, your company will be JUST fine.
2.  He-Who-Is-Hairy is becoming a most glorious afterthought.  GO SHAVE.

Jen emphasized in English at Brigham Young University. She currently freelances as a ghost writer and works as a personal stylist to feed her addiction to all things pretty. Her TV preferences range from The Vampire Diaries to Arrested Development and she lives in a fantasy world where Stars Hollow still exists. See more at

Thursday, November 1, 2012

There have been 300 Law and Order: SVU

By Erin Jackson

I repeat: there have been three hundred episodes of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. That statement is so preposterous and monumental that I think it deserves pause and reflection; some post-modern meditation of some sort. In 65 episodes, if it makes it that far (knock on wood) you could watch an episode a day and never see a repeat. However, given the frequency and scope of its airplay on cable TV, you will probably watch more than one a day and upset this phenomenon.

SVU's subject matter is upsetting, depressing, disgusting and vile. Its heroes are flawed and worn and haggard and driven to the brink on a weekly basis. So, why has it endured? Unfortunately, I lack the investigatory insight of say Munch or Stabler, so I can't really say. But I do know that I have most likely seen all 300 episodes now, and will probably see many of them a handful of times over and over until my dying day.

I've tried to quit it, several times. I swore it off after what felt like the tenth storyline in which Benson went undercover in some preposterous fashion for no real reason. And again when Christopher Meloni left the show. And every time it drew me back, most often through one of its "ripped from the headlines" episodes that began with the nudge nudge wink wink disclaimer that it was in fact not based on any real person, right after a promo that nearly explicitly claimed otherwise. Or I would catch up with an entire season over the course of one lonely, cloudy weekend through a marathon, with the pretext of it making good background noise for housework or catching up on sleep.

So, happy 300th, SVU. You have endured longer than your forefathers and decedents, and have lived to watch your doppelgängers and imitators' doppelgängers and imitators bite the dust. And for that, I salute you.

Erin Floyd Jackson has been BFFs with TV since she was a wee one when she would play TV Network Executive. She went to school to learn about how and why TV is the way it is and hopes to someday tear someone's creative vision down and re-edit it to her liking. In the meantime, she and her husband live in Huntsville, Alabama and they occasionally "blog" here ( when they are not geeking out over all the SCIENCE! in the Rocket City.