Oct 21 2013
Disclaimer: I asked my son’s permission to write the below piece. He read and signed off on its contents prior to publication.
My oldest son is now 14 years old. For the past few months, he’s been crushing on a TV actress. Nothing surprising about that.
What is surprising is the TV actress he picked: Mindy Kaling, creator, writer, and star of “The Mindy Project.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I happen to be a fan of Mindy myself. My husband and I watch her show regularly. (Though my son actually stumbled on it while on an airplane, and proceeded to binge watch the entire first season. Then he read Mindy’s book. And then he followed her on Twitter.)
My surprise stems from the fact that I expected my son to go the more predictable teenage boy route and obsess over some six foot tall, blonde, Amazonian, busty supermodel type (not that there’s anything wrong with that, either; we all have to work with what we’re given). Mindy Kaling is none of those things. She is relatively short, relatively curvy, non-white and, at least based on the character she plays on TV and the character she plays in interviews (I’ve worked in the media too long to believe anyone is ever being “authentic” in front of a camera), smart, hard-working, an independent thinker. And very, very funny.
In other words, she’s this mom’s dream girl. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 17 2013
Dax Sheppard, who plays character Crosby Braverman.
Hello, readers! I’m back to recap Parenthood episodes two and three for you real quick, because another one airs tonight.
In these episodes, the Braverman clan continues to parent their children in Berkeley. Homes continue to be beautifully messy, abdominal muscles continue to be surprisingly toned, and hairstyles continue to be surprisingly well maintained for people who recently had children. That said, there are many story lines here that reflect honest-to-goodness real life with kids. I am going to rank three of them here, from really good to totally freaking great, because everyone loves a list.
1. Act Three. Zeek, patriarch of the Braverman mishpucha, and Camille, his long-suffering strong- but-silent-type wife, have a gorgeous ramshackle estate (in Berkeley, where else?) that Camille wants to sell. Zeek doesn’t want to. Everything he’s ever wanted is “right here.” Camille wants to travel, see the world, have an “act three.”
Here’s the thing: I can’t comment on this scene from the perspective of retirees—but I can comment from the perspective at the tip of my nose: on the nights when we’re most exhausted, and we fall into bed and stare at the ceiling and ask each other when it gets easier, Jon and I often spin great yarns about what we’ll do when we retire. On the list is plans for travel, a footloose approach to life that is obviously not our reality right now. I know that when this time comes, I will long for the sounds and smells of my girls and I will miss the busyness and the knowledge that I am needed, that my presence is essential to someone. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 2 2013
Do you watch Parenthood? I don’t mean this in some sort of existential, depersonalized way. I mean, do you watch the NBC hour-long drama called Parenthood, loosely based on the instrumental film from 1989, the one that starred Steve Martin and Dianne Wiest and tore your heart out? If not, oh friends, you should. Parenthood had its season premiere last Thursday and it’s not too late to catch up. I am here to help.
The fictional Bravermans are a huge family clan living in Berkeley. Details of all of the characters (and the awesome actors who play them) can be found by clicking here. Basically, this is a show about their quotidian (attractive, well-dressed) lives. If you like realist fiction, you’ll like this show. If you like to afford yourself a good, based-on-nothing-other-than-you’re-a-sentient-human cry fest once a week, you’ll like this show. If, at heart, you’re a sap who grew up in a family where people said “I love you” a whole lot, you’ll like this show. If you like ogling beautiful craftsman style bungalow homes perfectly decorated but appropriately lived in, you’ll like this show. And perhaps most importantly, if, like me, you find yourself appreciating something earnest more and more these days, and you think that letting people know you feel things and you are not an automaton who runs on organic coffee and snark, then, well, you’ll like this show.
I could dissect Thursday night’s premiere episode with you, but who has time for that? We have another episode coming up tomorrow and also, my kids need to be fed. Instead, I am going to focus on one character. Today, it’s Kristina Braverman (played with soul by Monica Potter). Kristina is a mother of three and married to fictional Adam (who will always be Nate from Six Feet Under). She has incredible skin and very shiny hair, but she’s flawed and I love her. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 25 2013
Having a mother with a Master’s in Media Analysis means that not only are my poor kids (ages 14, 10, and 6) subjected to a semiotic postmortem following every movie we watch (What message is “Shrek” sending about intermarriage? Are “The Incredibles” elitists?) but also that I’m very particular about the television they watch. (I work in TV, I think it’s a fantastic, miraculous medium. But, I am also wary of the messages it sends, both deliberate and inadvertent.
I try to find shows for the whole family to watch together that are primarily entertaining. And feature characters the kids can relate to. And espouse values I believe in. (For instance, while I would love them to watch more shows starring African-American families, “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times” are off the table. I don’t like the subtext. Even if I’m the only one who sees it. “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “The Cosby Show” are better.) Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 24 2013
The last couple of weeks, I have been surprisingly emotional over the death of actress Jean Stapleton.
The television show All in the Family was a big part of my childhood and Jean Stapleton’s passing almost feels like a member of my own family has died. I know that sounds starstruck and kind of stupid, since All in the Family was a television show and not real life. Yeah, yeah, I should pick up a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and spend my life doing something meaningful rather than watching TV. Got it.
“One of the most acclaimed and controversial shows on television.” is what Henry Fonda said about this show and it holds true today. Watching old episodes on DVD, the show holds up beautifully, still uproariously funny and touching in just the right way, despite the 70s fashion and the infusion of political correctness that has permeated American life in the decades since this show went off the air.
I love it for those reasons certainly, but I love it for something much more.
For a half hour a week, on Saturday nights my family gathered around the television and watched this show–and we laughed. Read the rest of this entry →
Jun 21 2013
If you’re not pregnant like me, I recommend washing the show down with a nice Long Island Iced Tea.
Princesses: Long Island is a show that defies words. But fear not, Kveller readers–that will not stop me! I will be live-tweeting (as @Kveller) this car wreck of a “reality” show which implicitly defames Long Island, Jewish women, women in general, relationships, and basically all that is holy. My live-tweeting and the show will be on Bravo at 9 pm EST on (mark it on your calendars) Sunday night. And I CANNOT WAIT!!!!!
“Why on earth should I follow your live-tweets, Jordana, and about such an insane show?” you are thinking. “What’s in it for me?” I’ll lay it out for you below.
1. My credentials for both live-tweeting and reality TV are solid.
I think of myself as a smart person, and yet in certain instances, I am drawn to reality TV the way some people can’t help but slow down when they see an accident being cleaned up on the Long Island Expressway. This has been true ever since I snuck out of work to watch Temptation Island back in 2000. There are certain shows that hit a nerve in me for their sheer idiocy. This show is one of those cultural moments.
I last live-tweeted for Kveller on Oscar night… and if you were there, you know what a hit that was. Admittedly, I was seriously inebriated at the time but JUST THINK HOW FUNNY I WILL BE ABLE TO BE SOBER!!! The mind reels. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 24 2013
Were you among the millions who tuned in to watch ABC’s new primetime show Bet on Your Baby, which premiered earlier this month with 2.36 million viewers? This past Saturday the show increased its audience by 17%, with 2.92 million viewers. But it’s actually one show you shouldn’t be watching.
Bet on Your Baby is a game show with the vibe of a real-time America’s Funniest Home Videos. Five families appear in each episode. The parents come out one after another to chat with comedian hostess Melissa Peterman before deciding who will lead their child in a task inside something called the “Babydome.” After all the families compete for a chance to win a $5,000 scholarship, one representative parent comes back out to solve a puzzle for the chance to win a full college scholarship (valued at $50,000–which likely won’t cover a year of college by the time these tots are ready). Then those parents can smash up to five piggy banks to find the largest dollar amount possible. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 17 2013
I admit it: there was a long period of time when Law & Order: SVU was my favorite TV show. I’d set the DVR and watch it every week, giving myself crazy nightmares. But like any good addiction, it was hard to quit. Week after week, I’d watch–sometimes covering my eyes for half of the episode–because I needed to know how Elliot and Olivia would handle the latest “ripped from the headlines” tragedy.
Then I had kids. And suddenly, a show about special victims went from appealing to appalling. I can barely watch the commercials anymore. SVU has lost its glamour. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 5 2013
If my relationship with Hebrew had to have a status, I’d pick, “It’s complicated.” But as I’m rapidly closing in on the fourth anniversary of my move to Israel, it really should be better.
For a while–just as Sarah wrote a few weeks ago–I was learning Hebrew from my eldest child, but that stopped. One day, two years ago, at the tender age of 4, he decided he wanted to speak English and that was that. How does a 4-year-old make that choice? Read the rest of this entry →
Feb 13 2013
My parents and I immigrated to the United States from the then-Soviet Union in 1977. My father is a staunch anti-Communist. He is also a very cryptic, closed off man (teddy bear rescues aside). As a result, my brother and I are in agreement that, should he turn out to actually have been a Soviet sleeper agent for all of this time, we’d be surprised–but not too surprised.
When FX announced their new series, “The Americans” for Wednesday nights at 10, I knew I had to give it a shot. For two reasons. One) It was about a pair of Communist agents living undercover in the States, pretending to be a couple of perfectly normal, Mom and apple pie loving, suburban citizens. And Two) It was set in the 1980s. Read the rest of this entry →