Brief Update

At some point last year, I made this blog private and stopped posting on it. I didn’t want to delete it permanently, in case I ever felt inspired to write again, but I wasn’t writing enough to keep it open. However, some of my friends have inspired me to start blogging again. So, I’ve cleaned up my blog so that only the posts I really wanted to keep are here. I’m hoping to blog twice a month so if there is anything you would like to see me blog about, please share in the comments below.

Feel free to check out the links in my sidebar to learn more about me! Thank you for reading!


Spring Break 2014: Walking and Talking in Washington DC

This is a bit delayed, but my best friend and I finally had a chance to go through our pictures from our spring break trip to Washington DC and I wanted to post a little bit about it.

The first step to overcoming a problem is admitting you have one. So here goes: I am obsessed with The West Wing. My best friend, Allison, and I talk about the show constantly, and I recently started rewatching it (after just finishing it) as I work on my thesis. Allison and I reached the height of obsession, though, when we decided to spend our spring break on a West Wing-inspired trip to DC. People seemed confused when we said we were going there instead of Florida, but trust me, this was an excellent decision. We made a list of places we wanted to go because they were mentioned on TWW (and the DC episode in season five of Parks and Recreation), and we had the best time. In fact, we both immediately started looking at graduate schools and potential jobs there because we loved it so much.

If you’re planning a trip to DC in the future, which I recommend whether you love The West Wing and American politics or not, here are some things you cannot miss! (And yes, almost everything on this list does have significance to The West Wing. I would apologize, but I’m not sorry.)

  • The White House: Of course, this was the first thing on our “To Visit” list. We visited the grounds almost every day, saw Marine One taking off from the White House, and even got to take a tour of The East Wing one morning. We may or may not have cried. (We totally did. The experience was just too much.) We even took a selfie with a Secret Service agent outside of the White House, but he threatened my life if it ever showed up on social media. I think he was joking, but I don’t want to take any chances.
  • The Newseum: I’ve been to the British Museum, the Louvre, the Met, the Museum of Modern Art, and a slew of other museums in Europe and New York City. However, the Newseum is by far my favorite. In fact, we spent two days in there because one just wasn’t enough. We were able to touch the Berlin Wall; explore an exhibit called “Creating Camelot” about John and Jacqueline Kennedy; see artifacts from the Anchorman movies at a special exhibit that actually made the films educational; see Tim Russert’s office and the Unibomber’s cabin; pull out newspapers with headlines about Lincoln’s assassination and women getting the right to vote; learn how journalists risked their lives on 9/11; understand how technology has changed the news over the years; pretend to be White House correspondents; and so many other things. It’s one of the few museums in DC that charges admission, but it’s well worth it. (The Newseum does have significance within The West Wing world as well—prior to its move to the heart of DC, it resided in Rosslyn and was the location of the heartbreaking shooting in the season one finale.)
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: I’ve been to the concentration camp Dachau, and nothing will ever be as haunting to me as that. However, this museum is still horrifying and intense. We quietly walked through the museum for about three hours, and it’s not something I really want to blog about. It’s just something that everyone should experience for themselves at some point.
  • Arlington National Cemetery: Once again, this is significant on The West Wing since it is the burial site of three major characters. However, we really wanted to go for the experience. Arlington is beautiful, as you would imagine, and it’s also massive. We barely covered even a fourth of it. We were able to see the burial sites of the Kennedys and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as well as the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Once we left Arlington Cemetery, we made our way to the Arlington Bridge, a beautiful bridge that connects Arlington, Virginia, to Washington DC with a great view of the Lincoln Memorial. This was a particularly important site to us, as it is featured at the end of one of our favorite episodes of The West Wing: “20 Hours in America (Part 2).”
  • The National Cathedral: This was a must see for us (spoiler alert!) since it is where those on The West Wing said goodbye to the beloved Mrs. Landingham in season two’s finale “Two Cathedrals.” The cathedral is stunning, and I was immediately taken back to my time in Europe, when I went to dozens of old cathedrals. While the National Cathedral, like everything else in the US, is not as old as the churches of England, France, and Italy, the National Cathedral lives up to the beauty. It was wonderful and peaceful to explore. (We even watched “Two Cathedrals” prior to our trip here to see where each character sat. See our super cool pictures below.)
  • The Capitol: We took a tour of the Capitol Building on International Women’s Day, and while the tour is a bit short, it’s a lot of fun. They force you to watch some serious Congress propaganda before the tour, and then take you through the Crypt, the original Supreme Court chambers, the original House of Representatives chamber, and of course, the Rotunda. Allison and I even got to talk a bit about Kentucky to the group since Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln are frequently referenced throughout the historical building.
  • The Supreme Court: We had no idea you could go inside the Supreme Court, but you can and it’s super cool! It wasn’t in session while we were there, but if it had been, we even could have gone to watch some hearings with the Supreme Court justices. That’s been added to my bucket list!
  • The Library of Congress: I didn’t give the Library of Congress enough credit before going because it really was a lot of fun. I didn’t realize it was like a museum until we got there, but they had a number of wonderful exhibits throughout the building. We saw the George & Ira Gershwin exhibit as well as a fascinating exhibit about politics and popular culture, an area of research I have always been interested in. I would love to go back and spend more time exploring in there.
  • The American History Museum: This museum features a lot from our nation’s short history in both politics and popular culture. Kermit lives here as do some inaugural dresses of the First Ladies (Grace Coolidge is our favorite). There was a lot of ground to cover, but we made our way through every room and loved it. We even stood in the spot where Ben and Leslie are reunited in “Ms. Knope Goes to Washington” on Parks and Recreation. We were also a little bit famous in this museum—a guy took our picture because he liked our sweatshirts (I had on Bartlet for America while Allison wore her Lyman/Seaborn 2016) and then a group of people ran up to us as we were leaving to compliment them and discuss The West Wing. We were instant friends.
  • The Memorials: There are beautiful memorials throughout DC, and the Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, and the Korean War Memorial are all pretty close together, which makes for an easy and beautiful walk. (Just be aware that they’re far away from any metro station. The walk back was a bit torturous.) It’s definitely worth a visit, and you can even stand where Martin Luther King Jr. did when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. As a lover of all things history, that’s a pretty cool and powerful thing to do.
  • A meeting on the Hill: During our second day in the Newseum, we got a phone call from someone at Congressman Massie’s office, who had arranged our White House tour for us, telling us to stop by his office so that we could pick up the pass we needed for the White House tour. Being West Wing fans, we immediately started calling it our “Meeting on the Hill.” We headed to the Cannon House Office Building, went to Congressman Massie’s office, and then explored the building for a bit. We made the most of the experience, that’s for sure.
  • The Mall at night: This is when DC is truly beautiful. It’s just so peaceful. If you stand in between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument at the reflecting pool, you’ll get some stunning pictures.

We went to a ton of other places (including a Target with a cart escalator!), and I know there are still quite a few things on our list that we missed (18th & Potomac, for instance). However, we both plan on returning to DC as soon as possible! Below are just a few of the pictures we took!

And one final thing: A HUGE thanks to Allison’s cousin and her roommates for being so hospitable so we didn’t have to pay for a hotel!

Marine One...WHAT

Marine One lands at the White House.


Happy International Women’s Day to my favorite fictional ladies, Donna Moss and CJ Cregg!

George and Ira Gershwin's piano

George and Ira Gershwin’s piano


Taken right before a mother yelled at her son for sitting on the Republicans bench. My kind of parenting!

Allison enjoys the Washington Monument on a beautiful DC night (before getting "attacked" by some ducks.)

Allison enjoys the Washington Monument on a beautiful DC night (before getting “attacked” by some ducks).


We weren’t originally going to wear these on the same day, but it was International Women’s Day so WE HAD TO. Also, this is one of my favorite pictures of all-time.

congress shall make no law

The best amendment on the entrance of the best museum.

wait is that..

While looking at artifacts in the First Amendment exhibit, we heard a familiar voice reading the First Amendment over the speakers. We turned the corner and saw our beloved President Bartlet. We then proceeded to freak out.


Channeling my inner Veronica Corningstone at the Anchorman exhibit.

you serve at the pleasure of the president

White House Correspondent Allison Cole.


The Unibomber’s cabin

Spring Break 2014- Washington DC

Some of the many important headlines at the Newseum. (From L to R): the end of World War I, Hitler dead (from The Louisville Times!), women get the right to vote, Hawaii becomes the 50th state, Lincoln assassinated, and Kennedy assassinated.


I’m terrible at taking selfies. That is something I learned on this trip. However, Ben and Leslie stood here so this was necessary.

what kind of day has it been

What kind of day has it been? (Season 1, episode 22 of The West Wing)

what's he doing in fwoggy bowtew

Josh: “Sam went to Foggy Bottom.” CJ: “What’s he doing in fwoggy bowtew?” (Season 1, episode 15 of The West Wing)


Thank you for saving Josh Lyman!

hanging with linc

Hanging out with our pal, Lincoln. Leslie: “‘In this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union, the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.’ Andy, what are you doing?” Andy: “Have you ever seen any of the National Treasure movies? Everything in this city is a clue.” (season 5, episode 1 of Parks and Recreation)

one time tobias was here

The Korean War Memorial (featured in season 1, episode 10 of The West Wing)

ww2 memorial 2

World War II Memorial

changing of the guard2

The Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

John and Jackie

The burial site for President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis at Arlington National Cemetery

kaitlynn and allison at arlington bridge

The Arlington Bridge (featured in The West Wing’s season 1 finale “What Kind of Day Has It Been?” and season 4 premiere “20 Hours in America (Part 2)”)

so happy to be at our meeting on the hill

Allison was super excited for our meeting on the Hill!

the best

Outside of the White House after our wonderful tour!


allison is jack kennedy

Of course we had to take this picture!

Just call us both CJ Cregg!

Just call us both CJ Cregg!

Spring Break 2014- Washington DC1

Allison poses for her presidential portrait in President Bartlet’s chair at the National Cathedral while I happily sit where my girl Donna Moss did. (We both have pictures in each person’s chair but I decided to post these based on the super scientific results of the “Which West Wing character are you?” Buzzfeed quiz.)


The Supreme Court of the United States

Kaitlynn's Photos 2

An exhibit honoring Sandra Day O’Connor at the Supreme Court! Yay ladies!

Barlet for America

Our last visit to the White House wouldn’t be complete without one final Bartlet for America picture!

Ten Reasons You Should Watch The West Wing Right Now

West Wing

By the end of The West Wing‘s pilot, I knew I would love the show. Now that I’ve seen all of it, I can officially say it has a place in my top five favorite shows of all-time. There are hundreds of reasons why I love this show so much, but here are the ten reasons you need to watch (or rewatch) this four-time Emmy winner for Best Drama Series on Netflix or Amazon Prime right now!

10) The Theme Song

I love a good theme song. As I was binge-watching The West Wing during my winter break, my mom jokingly asked me if I got goose bumps every time the song themestarted. I answered with a very serious “Yes.” In my head, President Obama gets ready every morning by playing that theme. It’s just such beautiful and powerful music. It really does give me chills. I have the theme song as my ringtone so whenever someone calls or texts me, I feel much more important than I actually am. Like the theme for Game of Thrones, I can never skip over it, even when I’m watching 5 episodes back-to-back. 

9) Josh & Donna

josh and donna

This show is not about romance at all. The characters go in and out of a few relationships, and the President (Golden Globe winner Martin Sheen) and First Lady (Emmy winner Stockard Channing) are wonderful together. However, this show is first and foremost about a Democratic president and his staff in the White House. Honestly, the lack of constant relationship woes was one of the most refreshing parts of the show. That said, these two killed me. Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman (Emmy winner Bradley Whitford) and his assistant Donna Moss (Emmy nominee—should’ve been a winner—Janel Moloney) are the perfect duo. They’re not officially together but you can tell something is there from the start. Every character knows it too.  She’s the one person he can let his guard down with—he’s actually very sweet under all the stress and sarcasm—and when Josh gets too cocky or rude, Donna isn’t afraid to put him in his place. In season one, it’s clear that Josh’s love interest was intended to be Mandy (Moira Kelly, who left after just one season). However, from the first episode, Whitford and Moloney have a very natural rapport that continues to grow stronger throughout the seven seasons. Their relationship was a joy to watch from start to finish, even if it was the most frustrated I’ve ever been as a “shipper.” I’ve always considered Monica & Chandler (Friends) and Leslie & Ben (Parks and Recreation) to be my favorite television couples, but now I don’t think there’s a better pair than Josh and Donna.

8) The Educational Value 

If you watch this show and don’t learn something from it, you’re probably lying. From President Bartlet’s tangents about the history of the word filibuster to the handling of 9/11 and wars in the Middle East, The West Wing opened my eyes to issues I knew almost nothing about. I’m not saying that this show got every fact right. I’m not naïve enough to believe that. However, because of this show, I spent a lot of time reading about current events and how the issues on The West Wing related to those. I know this show will encourage me to stay even more informed in the upcoming election. (Also, the clip above will be played for anyone who tries to give me a biblical argument against same-sex marriage. Thanks, President Bartlet!)

7) The Politics

I’m not talking about Democrats vs. Republicans here. I’m talking about how ideal these politicians would actually be to have in office.  Sure, the problems President Bartlet faced were all planned in a writer’s room weeks in advance, and the Bartlet Administration still dealt with a few scandals (most notably, at the end of season 2). However, I stopped watching Netflix’s House of Cards after five episodes because I couldn’t stand the dark and cynical look at the government. Even ABC’s Scandal is sometimes a little too corrupt for me, though it’s often humorous. The West Wing is different, and it’s actually been criticized for being too optimistic of an administration. That’s what I love about it, though. It’s exhilarating to see politicians who are doing things because they honestly believe in doing it for the betterment of the United States and its people. They still must consider reelection and other personal goals with their decisions, and President Bartlet certainly isn’t perfect. However, it makes me hopeful. I would vote for any of them in a heartbeat. 

6) Toby Zieglertoby ziegler

Each character takes up a spot on my list of a hundred reasons to love this show because they are all inspiring in their own ways. Communications Director Toby Ziegler (Emmy winner Richard Schiff) is a special one, though. He’s incredibly sarcastic, and he and President Bartlet argue often. But he has a deep love and respect for all of his coworkers, including his boss. He’s unapologetically candid, and he’s charming, quirky, sweet, devoted, and a little mean when necessary. Basically, he’s everything you want to watch in a television character. Also, at Sundance, I met Richard Schiff. It was pretty cool.

5) The Directing and Editing

This show had a large budget of $6 million per episode, and it shows. Each episode feels more like watching a film than episodic television. The West Wing takes risks with its directing and editing, and every single one of them pays off. Since I took an editing course last fall, I have a new appreciation for people who can master the art of editing; this show has some of the finest editing I’ve ever seen, especially when using flashbacks to Governor Bartlet’s campaign for presidency. Each episode is beautifully pieced together, which makes the already strong cast and script seem even better.

4) The Walk-and-Talks

This kind of goes with the directing, but it’s such a special part of the show that I have to talk about it separately. This show made the walk-and-talk technique famous. It certainly didn’t invent it, but it’s a favorite of Emmy-winning director/producer Thomas Schlamme so it’s used all the time. Because the White House is a busy place, the characters often walk up and down the hallways together from meeting to meeting trying to accomplish their work. It’s how I always imagined the White House running. Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 8.37.58 PM.pngEveryone runs around the hallways trying to find a minute of time with their coworkers. One character leaves the long tracking shot at the end of a conversation, and another one jumps in to start talking about something else. The hustle and bustle of the White House seems extremely realistic, and it makes the scene much more interesting than it would be if they were just sitting in their offices all the time. It also leads to some truly hilarious moments—an intern falling down because Josh and Donna are walking too fast or the height difference between Allison Janney and Kristin Chenoweth.

3) The Cast

There’s a reason these actors were nominated for 36 individual acting Emmy Awards and won 9 of them as well as back-to-back Emmys for Outstanding Achievement in Casting. It’s also why America voted it the Best Drama Cast of all-time in a 2011 TV Guide poll. The performances from this cast are beyond words. the castThis show was originally meant to center around Rob Lowe’s Sam Seaborn. However, after realizing the beautiful ensemble they had created, the creative team made the decision to focus on the group instead. This is an ensemble at its finest. It’s a group that every showrunner dreams of for their show. The cast is extremely close (trust me on this one, I’ve watched way too many interviews and listened to quite a few episode commentaries), and that love is palpable in the chemistry, trust, and respect the characters have with each other. It never once feels forced. You’ll also get some fun recurring guest stars who work wonderfully with the main cast: Elisabeth Moss, Lily Tomlin, Marlee Matlin, John Amos, Teri Polo, Kathryn Joosten, Anna Deavere Smith, Mary-Louise Parker, and Timothy Busfield, just to name a few.

2) The Writing

The first four seasons were almost exclusively written (or co-written) by Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin.  In true Sorkin fashion, the dialogue is fast and incredibly intelligent. The speeches are electrifying, and the characters are full of sass and wit. Each episode in those first four seasons is as close to perfect as anyone can get when writing for television. When Sorkin departed the show at the end of season four, there is a definite difference in the following episodes. It took John Wells (whose work I love on ER and Shameless) a bit to figure out where he wanted to take the show without Sorkin, and there were a few decisions that felt out of character for the staffers I spent four seasons getting to know. However, it doesn’t last forever, and the worst episodes of The West Wing are still far better than most shows’ best episodes. It never goes back to the Sorkin glory days, but it certainly wasn’t bad enough for me to lose interest or quit watching. All of the elements I love and mention on this list are still there in the last three seasons, even with the split in seasons 6 and 7 between those in the White House and those who leave to work on the next presidential campaign. And when episodes in those last three seasons feel as if Sorkin wrote them, you’ll probably find yourself simultaneously beaming and crying from joy.

1) Claudia Jean Cregg and Donnatella Moss

cj and donna

I’m bending the rules a little bit on this one, but these are my ladies! This is Donna’s second appearance on this list. However, she deserves it, and this appearance is strictly about how wonderful she is as a character. White House Press Secretary CJ Cregg (Janney) and Donna Moss are two of the most incredible ladies in any television show. I aspire to be like them in my everyday life. Donna, although “just an assistant,” has brilliant ideas and was quickly able to make herself an important part of the administration. She’s witty, intelligent, hardworking, empathetic, and just all around perfect. Allison Janney is responsible for four of those nine individual Emmy wins for playing CJ Cregg, and if I were deciding the Emmys, she would have won three more. CJ never falters on what she believes is right and works hard to bring issues to the administration that may be overlooked for political reasons (for just a glimpse at this, see one of the episodes for which Janney won an Emmy: Season 3’s “The Women of Qumar”). She also brings some joy and laughter into the press briefing room and the Oval Office. Janney and Moloney play these two women with finesse and a perfect balance of comedy and drama. I’m so happy Sorkin made Moloney a main cast member in season two, and I’m overjoyed that these two represent my gender well on The West Wing.

Three honorable mentions that just barely missed the top ten: Josh Lyman, Leo McGarry (the late Emmy winner John Spencer), and that time the First Lady got drunk with CJ, Donna, and Amy (Mary-Louise Parker) at her birthday party in the nearly-flawless season 3 episode “Dead Irish Writers.”

I never expected to fall this madly in love with this show, but I couldn’t help it. Do yourself a favor and start watching The West Wing now!

Happy Presidents’ Day!

Sundancing: A Recap

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I can’t believe I can say I just got back from the 30th Annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Forget Disney World. I can now confirm that the Sundance Film Festival is the happiest place on earth. Leaving Park City for Kentucky was difficult. I’m somehow supposed to go see films without a Q&A with Philip Seymour Hoffman afterwards. I have to start walking around campus for my last semester, and I won’t be passing Rachel McAdams on my way to class. Normal life is dull.

The hardest part of being at the festival is knowing that there are so many films to see and not enough time. Selecting which films we would screen was difficult every morning.  However, I saw 16 films in 8 days so I can’t really complain. I can say that you all have some touching and incredible films to see over the next year, and I can’t wait to see the ones I missed but heard all about while in Park City. Here are the films I saw, in order from my favorite to least favorite. I included the credit information as well as what category it was in and when I saw it (but that’s mostly for my own benefit).

  • Whiplash: This film was beautiful. There’s no other word to describe it. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons give scary good performances as a drummer at the best music conservatory in the county and his professor, respectively. It’s definitely the best of Teller’s short career and probably the best performance of Simmons’ longer career as well. This film has been purchased and is expected to be released sometime this year. I can only hope it’s released later in the year for the Oscar race. I know this modern, subtle, and unique tale could be a wonderful change from the usual Oscar films. Whenever it does come out, though, see it! It will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Also, William H. Macy sat four seats away from me during this movie, and he loved it too. Directed and written by Damien Chazelle. Starring Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. 105 minutes. Category- U.S. Dramatic Competition. Attended the sixth-ever screening on January 23, 2014, at 11:30 pm at Prospector Square Theatre. Grade: A. Sundance Awards: Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic and Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic
  • Hellion: This was unexpected. Aaron Paul was the only reason I had a little bit of interest in this movie. We decided to go see it after seeing him on Main Street and realizing that he would probably be at the Q&A the next morning. Now, I’m so grateful that I saw this one, and I can’t believe it hasn’t been purchased for distribution yet. Newcomer Josh Wiggins stars as the titular hellion who rebels against his father (Aaron Paul) after the death of his mother. The performances by Wiggins, Paul, and Deke Garner, who plays Wiggins’ younger brother, were some of the best of the festival. I was really hoping for a special jury award for acting for them, and I’m shocked it didn’t happen. Entertainment Weekly compared Wiggins to a young Leonardo DiCaprio, something I found a tad insulting prior to seeing the movie since I am a huge DiCaprio fan. However, as I watched the film, I knew exactly what Entertainment Weekly was talking about. Wiggins fits that description perfectly, and I feel lucky that I got to see the very beginning of his career in person. Learn his name, as well as Deke Garner’s. They’ll be around for a long time. Directed and written by Kat Candler. Starring Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis, Josh Wiggins, and Deke Garner. 98 minutes. Category- U.S. Dramatic Competition. Attended third-ever screening on January 20, 2014, at 9:00 am at Yarrow Hotel Theatre. Grade: A. 
  • God Help the Girl: This musical was definitely the most joyful movie I saw at Sundance. It was different from the traditional musical, and the relationship between the three young adults was gripping and emotional. Stuart Murdoch utilized interesting filmmaking techniques and created well-rounded characters. Olly Alexander, in particular, was endearing and hilarious as James. It was a happy and often lighthearted film, but it still had a lot of substance. I can only hope I have the opportunity to see this film again soon. Directed and written by Stuart Murdoch. Starring Emily Browning, Olly Alexander, Hannah Murray, Pierre Boulanger, and Cara Bissett. 111 minutes. Category- World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Attended the second-ever screening on January 19, 2014, at 8:30 am at Prospector Square Theatre. Grade: A. Sundance Award: Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance. 
  • The Guest: This film was by far the funniest one I saw at Sundance. It fell under Sundance’s “horror movie” genre, but instead of being scary, it parodied horror movies in a really fantastic way. Dan Stevens was charming and mysterious as “the guest” who returns from war and visits the family of one of his fallen brothers. Like Adam Wingard’s and Simon Barrett’s other films V/H/S and You’re Next, I could easily see The Guest becoming a cult favorite. It’s intelligent yet silly and not at all pretentious. Directed by Adam Wingard. Written by Simon Barrett. Starring Dan Stevens, Maika Monroe, Brendan Meyer, Sheila Kelley, Leland Orser, and Lance Reddick. 99 minutes. Category- Park City at Midnight. Attended the world premiere on January 17, 2014, at 11:45 pm at Library Center Theater. Grade: A.
  • The Skeleton Twins: Sibling stories kill me. I’m very close to my younger brother so I always feel very emotionally connected to any film, television show, or book that tells the story of a relationship between siblings. The Skeleton Twins was no exception. Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig play Milo and Maggie, estranged twins who are brought together again by the attempted suicide of Milo. The two haven’t spoken in ten years, but once they are reunited, they begin to realize how much they truly missed each other. Hader and Wiig give beautiful performances, and it should come as no surprise to anyone who has been alive at any point in the last ten or so years that the chemistry between the two was perfect. While they still get to be their funny selves at times, both knock it out of the park with their dramatic skills. I can’t wait to see what other incredible roles the two are offered after this movie. Directed by Craig Johnson. Written by Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman. Starring Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell, Boyd Holbrook, and Joanna Gleason. 90 minutes. Category- U.S. Dramatic Competition. Attended the fourth-ever screening on January 22, 2014, at 12:15 pm at Eccles Theatre. Grade: A. Sundance Award: Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. 
  • La Bare: This documentary was the directorial debut of actor Joe Manganiello and was inspired by Manganiello’s role in Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike. It follows the lives of male dancers at the popular strip club La Bare, but it’s so much more than meets than eye. It dives deep into their lives and explores how their unique careers impact their personal lives and families. At times, it had me in tears from laughing so much. At other times, tears were in my eyes because the men involved really opened up about their struggles. Manganiello has put together a wonderful documentary that had everyone in the room interested and wanting more. Plus, the male dancers were at the screening so I think it was the weirdest and most enjoyable screening I was able to attend. Directed and written by Joe Manganiello. 93 minutes. Slamdance Film Festival Category- Special Screenings. Attended the world premiere on January 19, 2014, at 7:45 pm at Treasure Mountain Inn. Grade: A. 
  • Happy Christmas: Joe Swanberg has made a compelling and completely improvised film with Happy Christmas. Swanberg wrote a 12-page outline for his cast and then let them create their characters and decide what they said. The result is a completely natural and delightful story about a woman (Anna Kendrick) who moves in with her older brother (Swanberg) and his wife (Melanie Lynskey) after a huge breakup. The movie was shot on actual film, which gives it a true home-movie look. This feeling is perfect for the story and the Christmas in Chicago setting. Also, be on the lookout for Jude Swanberg, the son of Joe who starred as his son in the film as well. He really is the breakout star of Sundance. It was a wonderful surprise. Directed and written by Joe Swanberg. Starring Anna Kendrick, Joe Swanberg, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, Mark Webber, and Jude Swanberg. 78 minutes. Category- U.S. Dramatic Competition. Attended the third-ever screening on January 21, 2014, at 8:30 am at Library Center Theatre. Grade: A. 
  • White Bird in a Blizzard: Shailene Woodley once again gives a stunning performance as Kat, a teenager whose mother suddenly disappears. The film tackles both comedy and drama in really wonderful ways, and it makes use of flashbacks in a way that most films aren’t able to do. Gregg Araki has written and directed a mystery film that is far from the traditional disappearance movies. I’m not sure that everyone will love it as much as I did, but it’s unique, visually beautiful, and includes the most surprising twist ending of any movie I saw at Sundance.  Directed and written by Gregg Araki. Starring Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, and Thomas Jane. 91 minutes. Category- Premieres. Attended the world premiere on January 20, 2014, at 9:45 pm at Eccles Theatre. Grade: A-. 
  • The Double: Jesse Eisenberg stars as Simon James, a virtually invisible man to everyone around him. He is just merely existing. He’s awkward, shy, and uncomfortable. One day, his double named James Simon shows up as a new employee at Simon’s workplace. James is the polar opposite of Simon. He’s confident, popular, and a “ladies man.” As the movie continues, Simon must learn to interact and exist with this double. Jesse Eisenberg gives his best performance yet, in my opinion. He embodied both characters completely and helped separate the two for the audience in every way, including some incredible diversity in his physicality of the two men. The film was surprisingly funny, especially for how dark the production design was, and extremely intelligent. It trusted that viewers were smart enough to understand what was going on, which I personally really liked. Richard Ayoade did not waste time explaining parts of the movie. He kept the action constantly moving forward, which kept me engaged the entire time. Directed by Richard Ayoade. Written by Avi Korine. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Mia Wasikowska, and Wallace Shawn. Category- Spotlight. Attended a screening on January 17, 2014, at 8:30 am at Library Center TheaterGrade: B+.
  • The One I Love: It’s difficult to talk about what makes this movie so fun without giving away the secrets of it. In fact, in the Q&A, someone asked Mark Duplass how they planned on marketing the movie without giving away the details. So, I’ll keep it brief. Just know that if you liked Duplass in Safety Not Guaranteed or you are a fan of Elisabeth Moss, you’ll probably love this movie. They make a wonderful and unpredictable duo, and the movie really is a fun ride. I liked it even more than Safety Not Guaranteed, and I’m excited for the rest of the world to see this and discover just what makes it so special. Directed by Charlie McDowell. Written by Justin Lader. Starring Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, and Ted Danson. 91 minutes. Category- Premieres. Attended the second-ever screening on January 22, 2014, at 8:30 am at Library Center Theatre. Grade: B+. 
  • Freedom Summer: This documentary about college students who went down to Mississippi to help African Americans register to vote in 1964 was incredibly inspiring. These people risked their lives to do what they believe was right, and I only wish I could be that brave. Stanley Nelson did a wonderful job of combining new interviews with heartbreaking archival footage from the time. The end of the documentary brought tears to my eyes. There were a few parts that didn’t seem that necessary, but overall, it was very effective. This will air on PBS in June so I really recommend you see it. Directed and written by Stanley Nelson. 113 minutes. Category- Documentary Premieres. Attended the fourth-ever screening on January 24, 2014, at 9:00 am at Holiday Village Cinema. Grade: B+. 
  • Life After Beth: I’m not a zombie aficionado at all. I don’t watch The Walking Dead or know really anything about zombies. However, I thought this film was quite funny and had a perfect cast. I’m not sure that zombie purists will love it, though. These zombies become that way over a longer period of time. It isn’t immediate, which Jeff Baena said he wanted to do so that the loved ones of the zombies would have a more emotional connection to them. I thought it was an interesting concept that led to some really fantastic moments from Dane DeHaan’s character. Directed and written by Jeff Baena. Starring Aubrey Plaza, Dane DeHaan, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Cheryl Hines, Paul Resier, and Matthew Gray Gubler. 91 minutes. Category- U.S. Dramatic Competition. Attended the fourth-ever screening on January 22, 2014, at 11:45 pm at Library Center Theatre. Grade: B. 
  • Laggies: I enjoyed this film, but it was not my favorite. It was often funny and heartwarming, and the performances were different than what the actors have done in the past. However, it was a tad cliché for me, especially with the ending. You could see it coming from about 15 minutes into the film. I would watch it again and maybe even purchase the DVD for a low cost on Black Friday, but it is not something I would watch constantly like I do with other films. I expect this one to be popular when it is released this summer, though. Directed by Lynn Shelton. Written by Andrea Seigel. Starring Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz, Sam Rockwell, Mark Webber, and Ellie Kemper. 100 minutes. Category- Premieres. Attended second-ever screening on January 18, 2014, at 8:30 am at The MARC. Grade: B. 
  • God’s Pocket: I have very mixed feelings about this film. This was certainly the most disappointed I’ve been in a Sundance film this year because this was one of my top priorities before arriving in Park City. I am a huge fan of John Slattery’s work, both as an actor and director, on Mad Men. However, his feature film directorial debut God’s Pocket was messy. It lacked the perfection of the episodes of Mad Men that Slattery has directed, probably because the writing fell flatter than the writing on his television show. I have not read the book, but I felt that the film focused on too much for its short running time of 88 minutes. The performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Richard Jenkins, and John Turturro were strong, but the actors are not the only part of the film. It could definitely use some polishing before it is released to the public. Directed by John Slattery. Written by John Slattery and Alex Metcalf. Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks, Richard Jenkins, and John Turturro. 88 minutes. Category- U.S. Dramatic Competition. Attended the second-ever screening on January 18, 2014, at 10:00 pm at Redstone Cinema. Grace: B-. 
  • Song One: This one wasn’t on my list originally. However, my friends and I were standing outside the Eccles when a representative from Southwest Airlines came up to us. She asked if we flew Southwest and then handed us three tickets when we said yes. Let’s just say, I’m glad I didn’t pay for this one. It certainly wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen. However, it wasn’t one I really want to watch again. It was extremely Hollywood and too perfect (more so than Laggies). Mary Steenburgen was certainly the best part, and the music was pretty. The rest of it was just annoying. Like The Skeleton Twins, it featured estranged siblings as one of the main conflicts, but I never felt as emotionally invested in that story as I did with TST. Like I said above, I am usually heartbroken over films like that so that should tell you just how unenjoyable this film really was. Directed and written by Kate Barker-Froyland. Starring Anne Hathaway, Johnny Flynn, Mary Steenburgen, and Ben Rosenfield. 86 minutes. Category- U.S. Dramatic Competition. Attended the world premiere on January 20, 2014, at 3:30 pm at the Eccles Theatre. Grade: C+. 
  • Listen Up Philip: I wanted this movie to end about 20 minutes into it. I almost fell asleep multiple times, and I fought the sleep in the hope that the film would improve. It never did. I don’t think I’ve seen a film with more unlikable characters than this one. The only people I liked even a little bit were the women (Elisabeth Moss and Krysten Ritter), but I even got annoyed with them and then was angry that the director made them merely victims of the men instead of their own person. The only thing I slightly liked about this film was the director’s experimentation with some filmmaking techniques. He broke many rules that we learn in basic production classes at my university, and I think those worked in his favor. The movie as a whole though was unbearable, which is really unfortunate when you look at the strong cast. Usually, the Q&A after the films would give me insight to the movies and make me like the film even more. This Q&A made me hate the film even more. Alex Ross Perry was rude and claimed that he related to the men in the movie. After that, I was completely done. I’m glad we saw Whiplash later that night because it helped erase the bad memories of this one. Directed and written by Alex Ross Perry. Starring Jason Schwartzman, Elisabeth Moss, Jonathan Pryce, Krysten Ritter, and Josephine de La Baume. 108 minutes. Category- NEXT. Attended the fourth-ever screening on January 23, 2014, at 8:30 am at Prospector Square Theatre. Grace: C-. 

The films I missed but want to see when they are released include Dear White People, Fishing Without Nets, Infinitely Polar Bear, Jamie Marks is Dead, Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory, The Case Against 8, Dinosaur 13, Ivory Tower, My Prairie Home, Web Junkie, Calvary, Frank, Love is Strange, A Most Wanted Man, Nick Offerman: American Ham, Rudderless, They Came Together, The Voices, Wish I Was Here, Obvious Child, Life Itself, The Lunchbox, Ping Pong Summer, and Cooties. Like I said, there are a lot of wonderful movies (and a few of these didn’t premiere until after my class left), and while at Sundance, you just have to realize you won’t see everything you want to see. Hopefully these will be accessible to me very soon!

I also really love celebrities, and at Sundance, you can barely walk two feet without seeing someone. I saw 64 people at least once, and many of those, I saw multiple times after that. (John Slattery, Joe Manganiello, Shailene Woodley, and Aaron Paul are all tied with 4 sightings/interactions.) It was pretty cool! Here are the people I saw:

  • Passed on street or saw from afar: Mark Ruffalo, Christina Hendricks, Chloe Grace Moretz, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Scoot McNairy, Kellan Lutz, Teresa Palmer, Luke Wilson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bob Odenkirk, Bill Hader, Mandy Patinkin, John Carroll Lynch, Mekhi Phifer, Rachel McAdams, Willem Dafoe, Ben Schwartz, Karen Gillan, Jason Momoa, Lily Collins, Billy Crudup, Steve Coogan, Matt Walsh, Ted Danson, and Michael C. Hall.
  • Saw in panel discussions and post-film Q&As: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mark Duplass, Emily Browning, Hannah Murray, Stuart Murdoch, Pierre Bonlanger, Anne Hathaway, Mary Steenburgen, Christopher Meloni, Gabourey Sidibe, Joe Swanberg, Shiloh Fernandez, Mark Indelicato, Mamrie Hart, and Rose McGowan.
  • Interacted with in some way: Joe Manganiello, Aaron Paul, Lauren Paul, John Slattery, Richard Ayoade, Sam Rockwell, Dan Stevens, Jorge Garcia, Elijah Wood, Richard Schiff, Miles Teller, Donald Faison, Mark Webber, Cameron Monaghan, Jason Ritter, Melanie Lynskey, Olly Alexander, Jim O’Heir, Shailene Woodley, Josh Wiggins, Deke Garner, Elisabeth Moss, William H. Macy, and AMY POEHLER.

My favorite interaction was definitely the short moment we shared with Amy Poehler on January 24. She was the last person Brenna and I saw before leaving Park City, and even though we didn’t get a picture with her, it was still perfect. Leaving a restaurant at just the right time, we passed Amy on Main Street. We didn’t quite know what to say, but we quickly asked for a picture. She said she had to keep going, but she grabbed my hand and said “nice to meet you guys!” Those 20 seconds were kind of a blur, but I loved it. I hope I didn’t say anything embarrassing to her. I really can’t remember. I do know that I called my mom right after and started crying a bit. It was just too much for me to handle.

Aside from just talking to some of my favorite television and movie stars, the post-film Q&A sessions are definitely my favorite thing about Sundance. On January 18, I watched God’s Pocket, the feature film directorial debut of Emmy-nominated actor John Slattery that starred Academy Award-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman. After the film, Slattery and Hoffman walked into Redstone Cinema to discuss their experiences and decisions with the film. We learned about Slattery’s changes from the novel to the film and that Hoffman did most of his stunts in the film. On January 21, I saw Happy Christmas, starring Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, and Joe Swanberg (who also wrote and directed the film). Swanberg informed us that the film was all improvised by the actors. He wrote a twelve-page outline for the actors so they would know the general plot. However, they were allowed to create their characters completely. Swanberg said he partially does this because he does not believe he has the right to put words in women’s mouths. He also wants the actors to feel that the film was collaborative, and allowing them to improvise does that. It was an eye-opening Q&A that helped me further enjoy a film that I had already loved. I saw a lot of people get up from the theater before the Q&As even started, but this was such a special part of the Sundance experience to me. These moments allowed us to interact with the filmmakers, cast members, editors, and producers. It gave me a deeper appreciation for the process of filmmaking and the work that goes into getting a film to Sundance. The next time I see a movie in Kentucky, I’ll probably be sitting in the theater expecting someone to walk in and answer a bunch of questions after the credits.

I spent most of my time with my friends Brenna and Lendee, and I truly don’t think anyone had a better time than the three of us. We spent time laughing together, crying over beautiful movies, and freaking out after speaking to people like John Slattery and Jason Ritter. I know this won’t be my last trip to the Sundance Film Festival. Until I can return though, I will relive this trip over and over again through memories, photographs, and viewings of the films I was fortunate enough to see.

Golden Globe Nominations: Television!


It’s early. I just finished my last final of the semester, which is a good reason to be excited. But I’m happy and excited today because of something that actually affects me in no way, shape, or form. The Golden Globe nominations were announced this morning, and as I was putting on make-up and fixing my hair, I kept refreshing my Twitter feed to see the nominations. As always, the Golden Globes are shocking this year. However, they’re surprising in a few really good ways this time! They are shaking things up!

Even though I still love Homeland a lot, I was not at all surprised to see it missing from the nomination list. If anything, I was mostly surprised to not see Claire Danes in the Best Actress category. I take comfort in the fact, though, that she has four Globes and three Emmys sitting in her home right now. (Plus, she was still nominated for the SAG Awards which means we’ll get the Claire Danes/Jared Leto reunion everyone wanted this year.) I was surprised, but slightly happy, to see Mad Men missing. I have a lot of thoughts about that show, and I feel slightly validated now that it has been snubbed by both the Screen Actors Guild and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. I do enjoy Mad Men, but season six was exhausting to watch.

I was extremely excited to see Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation, Michael Sheen, and Masters of Sex get some much deserved love. Since the Globes gave Steve Carell his award for Michael Scott, I’m hoping they’ll do the same with Poehler. It’s not fair that she keeps getting ignored. And with Masters of Sex, I hope this just a sign of many good things in the future. A nomination for Lizzy Caplan is the only thing really missing here.

However, the happiest moment for me came when I saw the nominees for Best Supporting Actress in a Television Series. I immediately texted both my best friend and my mother to celebrate, and I may or may not have started crying. (Spoiler alert: I did.)

So, here are my thoughts and picks on each category of television, including what made me so damn happy about that Supporting Actress category.

Happy Awards Season!

Best Drama Series:

  • Breaking Bad
  • Downton Abbey
  • The Good Wife
  • House of Cards
  • Masters of Sex

My Pick: It’s not even a contest in my mind. I don’t watch The Good Wife, though I really want to after the buzz about this season. I tried both Downton Abbey and House of Cards and didn’t love either (though my preference goes to DA). I do love Masters of Sex. It’s been a surprising and high-quality show since the pilot premiered on September 29. However, the award has to go to Breaking Bad, right? I don’t think there has ever been a more flawless or stressful show on television. With its intricate plot, amazing cinematography, brilliant performances, and smart directing, nothing on this list comes close to Breaking Bad. I hope that Masters of Sex will continue to get better and better. In due time, it can get its awards. However, let’s just all agree to give Breaking Bad everything for its final season.

Best Actor- Drama Series:

  • Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
  • Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
  • Michael Sheen, Masters of Sex
  • Kevin Spacey, House of Cards
  • James Spader, The Blacklist

My Pick: Okay, I know I just said we should give Breaking Bad everything. However, Bryan Cranston has won three Emmys before. He’s never won a Globe, but he’s been recognized a lot for his performance of Walter White. So, in this category, I’m torn between Cranston and Michael Sheen. Cranston has gotten better and better with the show, and he made me feel absolute rage that I didn’t know I was quite capable of. Sheen, on the other hand, gives a very subtle but heartbreaking performance as Dr. William Masters. It might be interesting if he wins here. It will change things up a bit, but I will also completely agree with the HFPA if Cranston takes it home.

Best Actress- Drama Series:

  • Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
  • Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
  • Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black
  • Kerry Washington, Scandal
  • Robin Wright, House of Cards

My Pick: WOAH. What a weird category. First, I love Claire. And Vera Farmiga of Bates Motel. Neither one is on this list, which makes me sad. Second, my roommate and I tried Orphan Black and were bored. We stopped after two episodes. Third, I love Taylor Shilling and Orange is the New Black. It was my favorite new show of the year, but I still think it should be in the comedy categories. So, I’m going to go with Kerry Washington for Scandal. Olivia Pope is simply the best, and in a category like this, she has to be the winner for her phenomenal performance. The show could easily be seen as a primetime soap opera, but it never feels that way largely because of Washington and the supporting cast, who are sadly always forgotten.

Best Comedy Series:

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Girls
  • Modern Family
  • Parks and Recreation

My Pick: Parks and Recreation! Parks and Recreation! Parks and Recreation! No contest. No further comment.

Best Actor- Comedy Series:

  • Jason Bateman, Arrested Development
  • Don Cheadle, House of Lies
  • Michael J. Fox, The Michael J. Fox Show
  • Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
  • Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

My Pick: I honestly do not know. I don’t watch House of Lies, The Michael J. Fox Show, or The Big Bang Theory. Arrested Development was disappointing this year, and as much as I love Bateman, I’m not feeling the nomination here. So, I guess I’ll go with Andy Samberg. He’s goofy, hilarious, and heartwarming on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I think it would be kind of fun if he won. I’m disappointed Matt LeBlanc is missing. Even though I don’t watch Episodes (yet), I cried when he won a few years ago. It would have been nice to see it happen again.

Best Actress- Comedy Series:

  • Zooey Deschanel, New Girl
  • Lena Dunham, Girls
  • Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
  • Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

My Pick: Amy Poehler. Again, this is no question for me. As I said above, she deserves it.

Best Supporting Actor- Television Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie:

  • Josh Charles, The Good Wife
  • Rob Lowe, Behind the Candelabra
  • Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
  • Corey Stoll, House of Cards
  • Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

My Pick: Aaron Paul. I think it’s weird and unfair that the Globes combine Supporting Actor for all of television. It puts unequal and very different programs against each other and leaves a number of people out of the running. Paul, though, is definitely my favorite on this list. My love for Jesse Pinkman knows no bounds. When I talk about Breaking Bad, 90% of my time is spent talking about how much I want to take care of Jesse. He breaks my heart. Aaron Paul deserves it.

Best Supporting Actress- Television Series, Miniseries, or TV Movie:

  • Jacqueline Bisset, Dancing on the Edge
  • Janet McTeer, The White Queen
  • Hayden Panettiere, Nashville
  • Monica Potter, Parenthood
  • Sofia Vergara, Modern Family

My Pick: THIS IS THE ONE. This category actually made me tear up this morning. It was the happiest surprise to see Monica Potter’s name on that list. I don’t know how many times I can say “I love Parenthood!” but I’m going to say it again. I LOVE PARENTHOODParenthood has been overlooked by every major awards show since the beginning. (It’s most surprising to me that the SAG Awards forget about it every year, since it is the most ensemble-y of all the ensemble shows, but I digress.) This is a much-deserved nomination for Potter, who took a character that could have been so one-dimensional and made her incredibly human. I would absolutely burst into tears if Potter wins, and I really hope she does. I don’t know anything about Bisset’s and McTeer’s performances in those miniseries, but Potter seems to be the strongest on the list.

Pushing Daisies: The Happiest Show on Earth

The perfect cast of Pushing Daisies: Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene, Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chi McBride.

The perfect cast of Pushing Daisies (from L to R): Swoosie Kurtz, Ellen Greene, Lee Pace, Anna Friel, Kristin Chenoweth, and Chi McBride.

“Young Ned’s secret gift was governed by three simple rules: Touch a dead thing once, alive. Touch a dead thing again, dead forever. Keep a dead thing alive for more than a minute and something else has to die.” Season 1, Episode 2

As I type this, it’s been 4 years, 3 months, 5 days, 1 hour, and 54 minutes since ABC’s Pushing Daisies ended. Recently, for the first time since its 2009 cancellation, I decided to break out my DVDs and rewatch it. And it did exactly what it did to me from 2007 to 2009—gave me a feeling of overwhelming happiness for 21 episodes and left me feeling empty and sad after the 22nd. This isn’t because the show is bad or ends in a disappointing way. It’s simply that the show was not given a proper run, forcing the writers to piece together a last minute ending for air. But the sadness felt as the 42 minutes of episode 22 come to a close is worth the sheer joy this show brings with it—a joy that no other TV show has quite matched since.

The facts were these…Pushing Daisies, created by Bryan Fuller, follows Ned (the brilliant Lee Pace), a piemaker in the fictitious town of Coeur d’Coeurs with the secret ability to wake the dead with a simple touch. When Emerson Cod (Chi McBride), a sarcastic and money-hungry private investigator, discovers Ned’s special talent, he convinces Ned to enter into a crime-solving partnership. Ned will wake the dead for one minute, ask them a few questions about their murder, and put them back to “sleep.” In the show’s pilot episode, Ned is forced to wake up his childhood love, Charlotte “Chuck” Charles (Anna Friel), after she has been murdered on a cruise ship. He can’t bring himself to touch her again, and so begins television’s cutest and most unique romance ever. Chuck and The Pie Hole waitress Olive Snook (Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth) join Emerson and Ned as investigators, and the rest is television magic.

Despite strong critical reception and 17 Emmy nominations in just two years, it could never seem to find a large audience and was sadly canceled by ABC. It didn’t help that the show premiered just before the WGA strike of 2007, and the show was very expensive. Still, I never understood why it didn’t catch on. In the age of too many crime shows to count on your fingers and toes, Pushing Daisies gave the world a creative alternative to all of the CSIs and NCISs.  The show seemed to have the perfect recipe for success: witty writing, creative directing, phenomenal acting, bright colors, mystery, a detailed and unique set, beautiful costumes, and an adorable dog. But for some reason, my family seemed to be the only 4 people in the world who watched it. In fact, when we went to the Warner Bros. Studios in between seasons 1 and 2, our tour guide was shocked that someone did watch it. (She actually tried to get us onto the set but couldn’t, much to my mother’s disappointment. We did get to see the morgue and The Pie Hole from a distance, though.)  We loved it dearly then, and as I’ve rewatched it over the last week, I’ve loved it even more. It’s truly a magical 22 hours of television, and it’s proving very difficult to find a show that will fill the pie-shaped hole it left in my heart.

If I had the power to bring any show back from the dead, I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to bring back Pushing Daisies, even if it meant that, like with Ned’s power for dead people, another show had to die in its place. (Maybe it would finally get Two and a Half Men canceled?) However, since I don’t have that kind of power, can we at least start the Kickstarter for the additional episodes or TV movie that’s been talked about since 2009? I would definitely donate some money. The series finale just isn’t enough. Until then, I’ll proudly wear my Pie Hole sweatshirt around campus, force my best friend to watch the series, and drown my sorrows in a pear pie with Gruyère cheese baked into the crust.

More Broadway fun!


Well, I officially saw 13 shows while in NYC for the summer. I was hoping to make it to Nobody Loves You and The Nance, but those didn’t work out for me. However, since my last theatre post, I did see 9 more wonderful shows before leaving NYC. Here are my thoughts!

  1. Murder Ballad (July 3): I probably wouldn’t have seen this show if it wasn’t for my deep love of Will Swenson, Caissie Levy, and Rebecca Naomi Jones. I decided to go at the last minute when a $30 ticket at a table became available to me. What I didn’t know was that this table seat put me right in the middle of the action on the stage. Will, Caissie, and Rebecca were jumping on my table and singing right to me. I absolutely loved it (I’m enjoying the immersive theatre trend as a whole, especially since learning more about it as an intern at Sleep No More last summer). It was a short rock opera, but it felt like you were truly in a dirty bar in the East Village. The music was insane, and with the fantastic chemistry of Swenson, Levy, Jones, and John Ellison Conlee, this show was something really special.
  2. Kinky Boots (July 6): Let me start by saying that I absolutely loved Kinky Boots. It was so fun and energetic with just the right amount of heavy emotion. Billy Porter, Stark Sands, and Annaleigh Ashford were absolutely wonderful. Porter, in particular, brought the house down. One song in Act II reminded me so much of watching Jennifer Holliday sing “And I’m Telling You (I’m Not Going)” on the Tonys in 1982 (though I obviously never saw it live), and I’m still so glad he won the Tony for Best Actor this year. That said, I wish Matilda the Musical had won Best Musical. Because I saw Matilda first, I went in with extremely high expectations for the show that beat it. While that may not be completely fair to Kinky Boots, that’s just how it was for me. And while I did love it, the show was not without its faults. I completely understand why the message of this show (“You change the world when you change your mind”) resonated with the theatre community so it doesn’t surprise me that Kinky Boots won. However, to me, the direction often felt boring, and the ending felt extremely rushed. As a piece of pure art and in terms of overall production value, Matilda was the real winner in my opinion.
  3. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (July 14): In my Tony Awards reactions post, I said that I was upset that Lucky Guy didn’t win Best Play. However, I am no longer upset. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike was absolutely phenomenal. It was funny, emotional, heartbreaking, and heartwarming all at the same time. Sigourney Weaver and Shalita Grant were great, but it was David Hyde Pierce, Kristine Nielsen, and Billy Magnussen that really stood out. Magnussen was ridiculously hilarious, and Pierce delivered the best monologue I’ve ever seen live. Nielsen was heartbreaking and wonderful as Sonia. While her chances of beating Cicely Tyson were slim (see below for my thoughts on  Tyson’s performance), part of me wishes she had won. Her acting was subtle but spectacular. I definitely would see a production of this show again if given the chance.
  4. Broadway Stands Up for Freedom (July 22): This wasn’t really a show. It was a concert for the New York Civil Liberties Union, and it included some of my favorite people. The host this year was Susan Blackwell who I absolutely adore. The concert, like last year, had some amazing performances and was two hours of fun. Afterwards, the performers and the guests mingle in the lobby so I was able to talk to Susan for about five minutes. She’s just as fantastic in person as she is in her videos. I also had the pleasure of meeting Erich Bergen. He’s extremely talented and can be seen in Clint Eastwood’s upcoming film adaptation of Jersey Boys! I’m very excited!
  5. Love’s Labour’s Lost (July 31): I certainly would never say this new musical take on Shakespeare’s play was my favorite. However, it was ridiculously fun. It ingeniously combined  Shakespeare’s original text with modern music. The cast, like with every show I’ve seen this summer, was perfect, and I loved the set and the way it blended in perfectly with Central Park. The Public Theater puts on amazing shows, and if you ever get the chance to go to one of their shows at the Delacorte in Central Park, take advantage! They’re always fun, and most importantly, FREE!
  6. The Explorer’s Club (August 1): My friend and I adored this play! It was farce at its finest, with a hilarious cast and a superb and quick script. The writing in the second act was especially speedy, making it seem like 20 minutes instead of an hour and a 15. There was one running gag that included an actor throwing alcoholic beverages into the air while his fellow actors ran around the stage catching them in elaborate and acrobatic ways. It had the small audience laughing hysterically.
  7. Pippin (August 3): I have never, ever been to a show where we gave someone a standing ovation in the middle of his or her song. I haven’t even been to a show where the audience gave a standing ovation at the end of Act I. But during Andrea Martin’s rendition of “No Time At All,” when the 65-year-old Tony winner started doing trapeze, the whole audience jumped to their feet. However, it wasn’t just Martin that amazed me. Patina Miller (who won the Tony Award this year for her turn as the Leading Player), Matthew James Thomas, Terrence Mann, and Charlotte D’Amboise all gave stellar performances. And the ensemble is certainly the most courageous, in shape, and talented ensemble currently on Broadway. I fully believe Thomas was robbed of a Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical. His portrayal of the titular character really stood out to me, and maybe in a less competitive year, he would have been nominated. And Diane Paulus. Where do I even start with her? I’ve now seen all three of her shows on Broadway, and each one gets a little bit riskier and more creative. She completely deserved that Best Directing Tony Award, and I look forward to watching her win many more in the future.
  8. The Trip to Bountiful (August 4): This type of show is never my favorite—old-fashioned and a little outdated. But of course, I couldn’t help but enjoy Cicely Tyson in her amazing, award-winning performance. There was something so uplifting about her performance, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was. She brought a palpable energy and joy to the stage, and in a weird way, it made me homesick. I found myself unexpectedly crying in the second act. It was strangely moving, even if I didn’t actually love the storyline that much.
  9. First Date (August 4): This one-act musical comedy was far from a perfect show. In fact, it was full of cliches and stereotypes and had a lackluster plot with a predictable ending. But if the producers wanted to entertain us for 90 minutes, they succeeded. The audience was laughing the entire time, and the pop music of the show was enjoyable. They shouldn’t expect any Tony nominations next year, though Zachary Levi was charming and often hilarious which may be enough to get him a nod, but it certainly was entertaining.