Dec 4 2013
Tomorrow, December 5th, NBC will air The Sound of Music – Live! Rather than a remake of the much loved Julie Andrews movie, this is actually a revival of the original Broadway production.
The Sound of Music was the first movie I saw upon immigrating to the U.S. as a child. It gave me nightmares. Not, as so many people guess, due to the overabundance of lederhosen, but due to the overabundance of Nazis. Maybe the guys in the crimson armbands didn’t mean much to American kids in the 1970s, but, coming from the USSR, I knew all about fascists and how they were out to get little children. (What I didn’t know then, was that the Nazis had been out to get Jews, specifically. Despite the existence of graveyards like Babi Yar, that detail was minimized in the Soviet Union.)
Maybe it was as a result of my (over)-reaction, that my aunt simply never showed my little cousin the final part of the movie. She turned off the videocassette after Maria and the Captain get married.
When my cousin grew up and found out how The Sound of Music really ended (it’s very possible I may have been the one who enlightened her; I was that kind of kid), it changed the entire movie for her.
Meanwhile, as I grew up (and got a degree in Media Studies), I learned numerous tidbits about the making of the film that made me see it in a different light, too.
In honor of the brand new production, I will share with you seven of these tidbits… one for each of the Von Trapp moppets. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 14 2013
It’s possible that we’re wired to notice those aspects of art that apply to our own lives–one person staring at a Degas painting might see light, truth, and love, while another might simply see smashed up crumbly cheerios because they are the bane of her existence.
What? My point: the story lines on Parenthood that I am most interested in talking about are the ones that I can relate to, or the ones that somehow reflect my life. As such…
I have been less interested in the Amber/Ryan kerfuffle, or the Drew-goes-to-college-and-tries-to-figure-out-girls saga (though I do love Drew, such a sweet boy) and way more interested in the Julia-and-Joel-chaos and, to some degree, the Bonnie Bedelia-Coach-autumn-of-our-years plot.
First, though, let me take a moment to pay homage to Crosby, my favorite Braverman who, in episode six, rages against the minivan. Now, this was indeed a hackneyed storyline. Surely we all know someone in life (or on Facebook) who has struggled with a similar reality. (I don’t think anyone does it as cutely as Crosby does, though.) To get the details out of the way: Jasmine wants to get a minivan and get rid of Crosby’s “cool” vintage car. This comes to pass, and they make out in the backseat and all is well. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 11 2013
All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.
- The Internet, Netflix, fast food, and other forms of “instant gratification” are changing the way today’s kids view time and demands. This New York Times piece sheds light on the competitive nature of television networks and its effect on today’s “on demand” children. (NY Times)
- One in three women has an abortion by the age of 45, but how many people actually talk about it? New York Magazine features 26 women with 26 different experiences. (NY Mag)
- A recent study from the University of Pittsburg shows that the negative impact of “harsh verbal discipline” (even occasionally) on adolescents is comparable to the effects of physical discipline. (NY Times)
- When Larry’s wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, the family received unending amounts of food and comfort from family and friends. A decade later, their daughter Maggie was admitted to a psychiatric hospital and diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and received no such care packages. (Slate)
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Oct 31 2013
Erika Christensen and Sam Jaeger, who play Julia and Joel.
To my twelve readers:
Here’s the short of it: the last two episodes of Parenthood bored me a little (though I am still 100% a supporter of this show). So in this recap, I’m going to ignore the filler (Crosby and Adam signing some ridiculous band to their new label, Adam seeking out a big campaign donation for Kristina from a fake rapper named Mistah R.A.Y, etc etc) and focus on the storylines I found interesting/believable. (The interesting/believable criteria gives me license to ignore the Amber-getting-married-to-clearly-not-a-good-choice-Ryan. I will also willfully ignore the Grandpa Zeek-working-on-his-car-with-grandson-Victor-while-also-simultaneously-teaching-him-to-read storyline, because while I love Coach as much as the next gal, I think this material was worth one scene, tops, and not a lot of space in this blog post.
If you were watching closely, you know there were really just one or two incredible scenes in the last two episodes that felt true to life (at least life as a partnered-up parent), and truth is what I’m always hunting when I watch this show. (That, and an excuse to cry.) So here goes: Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 28 2013
Shiri Appleby has been acting in Hollywood since the age of 4, and now she has a baby of her own with chef and husband Jon Shook. The L.A. based pair welcomed little Natalie to the world seven months ago, and since then she’s been balancing the act of doting mama and busy actress. Most recently Shiri guest starred as girlfriend of main character Adam on the hit HBO series GIRLS, and will be appearing on the third season which airs January 12, 2014. Shiri also guest stars on the NBC drama, Chicago Fire.
Recently, I got a chance to chat with the sweet Ms. Appleby about acting, kvelling, being a new mom, and what it was like to work on the set of GIRLS.
Tell me a bit about your daughter Natalie.
Natalie is almost 7 months. She’s not really into toys; we were just talking about it. She’s more engaged in looking around her and seeing what’s going on. She’s really observant and likes to engage with people. She’s not really crawling, yet.
How do you and your husband split up parenting responsibilities?
Jon helps a lot with the night feedings and since he’s a chef, he cooks dinner for us. But I feel like parenting is a bit of a team sport in the sense that you do your portion until the other person is capable of doing their side. But he plays with the baby in the morning, and since I don’t work 9-5 it’s not too stressful. And my parents are really involved and have helped us a ton, too! Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 23 2013
Sometimes I forget that we live in a particular sort of liberal bubble here in our “Happy Valley.” And there are other times when it couldn’t be clearer.
The other day I turned on the television so my son could watch an episode of his beloved Wild Kratts. But, since it takes our sort-of-old TV a few seconds to actually turn on once you press the button (and since I’m horribly impatient), I popped into the kitchen to grab a snack while my son waited eagerly on the couch.
When I came back into the living room I found my son engrossed in whatever he was playing. I crossed my fingers that it was mildly appropriate, but with two other adults living in the house (my husband and my brother) it’s always a crapshoot as to what channel was last viewed. Upon a first, quick glance, it didn’t seem to be anything too offensive. I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry is a comedy starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James. I haven’t watched the whole thing but the general plot is that these two firefighter buddies end up getting married for insurance benefits (OK, so actually kind of offensive). Read the rest of this entry →
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 →