The 3 Guilty Pleasure TV Shows That Devour(ed) My Summers

In high school, before streaming was what it is today and I had my own laptop, summer TV was just that — limited to the physical TV and airing exclusively in the summer season. The fact that these shows popped up when I had the most time to keep up with weekly episodes just made them more addictive, and while only one of them is still in my life today, I still equate all three of these shows with summertime.

Technically, the new season of Married at First Sight is also one of my summer watches this year, but the show has pretty small gaps in between seasons and runs what feels like year-round. Is anyone else totally invested in the Dallas season even though they have a feeling it’s going to be a trainwreck? Ah, well, that’s the beauty of summer shows — they don’t need much to keep us hooked.

1) The Next Food Network Star

I don’t keep up with this right now, but for two or three consecutive summers, I was obsessed. This Food Network competition series is basically what it sounds — finalists compete in cooking challenges with twists tied to being TV chefs in order to win their own Food Network series. Honestly, I think it’s the loss of Alton Brown as a judge that made my interest in Food Network Star fade. Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis still judge, but the visual imbalance of two main judges and not having Alton’s witty wackiness just bores me. The show has low-stakes drama with gratuitous food porn, and you never have to pay much attention to it if you’re just not in the mood to think too much. I’d inevitably form a weird crush on one of the long-haired, slightly greasy-looking chefs that I definitely wouldn’t be attracted in real life. That’s what seeing a man cooking can do to you!

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What I Wish I Hadn’t Missed

Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective, and maybe objectivity.

~ Robert Morgan

1) Simon & Garfunkel’s Central Park concert

2) Newsreels played before movies

3) Wearing a hat and gloves for your daily errands

4) Midnight releases of the early Harry Potter books

5) The original Broadway productions of My Fair Lady and The Music Man

6) Experiencing high school without text messages

7) A television world with only three main channels

8) The heyday of Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire movies

9) Nights that ended with watching Johnny Carson

10) The prime era of drive-in movies

11) The hair and fashion of the 1940s and ’50s

12) Sitting with loved ones while watching the very last episode of M*A*S*H 

13) Nora Ephron’s New York

14) Baggy flannels and wide-rimmed glasses being ’90s men’s go-to fashion

15) The Tina Fey-Amy Poehler era of SNL‘s Weekend Update

16) Watching new Friends episodes on Thursdays

17) Gene Shalit’s TODAY Show segments

18) The novelty of the first few seasons of Real World

19) Swaying to Glenn Miller at USO dances

20) Needing to watch TV in real time at risk of never seeing a certain episode

21) Consciously living through the height of the Spice Girls’ fame

22) Big, wavy hair being in style, a la Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally

23) Being able to avoid feeling engulfed by the news or that I’m missing the next best thing, and knowing that we can disconnect without realizing we’re doing so

One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.

~ Sam Levenson

News Worthy: 5/21 – 5/28

When blogging was something I did in between college classes, in a busy student union with my battered water bottle and on-the-go lunch next to me, the News Worthy feature was something I managed to post here quite regularly. After I started my current job, I became less inclined to pore over pop culture essays or YouTube travelogues. Guiltily, I turned to more America’s Next Top Model reruns for entertainment in this pre-summer fog than I’m proud to admit.

However, what with the busyness of the past month — TV cancellations and renewals, the royal wedding, the beginning of beach read season — I’ve come across so much on the web that excites me.

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It took me a few episodes, but I eventually fell in love with the world of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when I watched the first season on Amazon earlier this year. As I wrote before, I totally agree with the theory that Amy Sherman-Palladino’s writing style is meant for a eclectic period setting like Maisel‘s. Season 2 is currently in the works, but Amazon also recently renewed it for a third season as well. But the recent Maisel-related news that has most excited in me is Zachary Levi’s Season 2 casting. 

Um, swoon.

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What I’m Watching Lately: Spring/Summer 2018

As I said in my last post about what I was watching on TV, the past year has seen me go through phases of not wanting to watch many shows outside of work. Maybe it’s because the big shows I usually cover, This Is Us and The Bachelor, are in between seasons now and new TV is winding down for the summer, but I’ve become way better in keeping up with my other shows and starting ones I’ve always meant to watch. So, while I’m more than ready for The Bachelorette to premiere and take over my Monday nights again, I’ve loved having the freedom to just watch whatever TV I’d like at night the past few weeks!

The past month has also brought me amazing work opportunities allowing me to watch new content, dust off my English major’s analyzing skills, interview interesting people, and produce features that I’m very proud of. Read on to hear more about these experiences and how they affected my recent TV viewing, plus thoughts on what shows I’ve been loving lately!

Stranger Things

Okay, guys, I know I’m like two years late on this, but I was on the fence about starting Stranger Things for a long time. Sci-fi has never been my thing, so I was very skeptical about whether I’d enjoy the show. I finally figured that in the immediate lead-up to Season 3, I would inevitably have to work on Stranger Things content, and it sounded like the type of the show I’d rather not just rely on online summaries in order to write about. So, admittedly after discovering David Harbour and developing a bit of a crush, I caved, and now I’m about halfway through Season 1. I don’t love it so far, but I’m definitely invested and have enjoyed each episode. Also, the slimy, breathing substance in the Hawkins lab never ceases to remind me of “The Beast Below” episode of Doctor Who. 

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5 Tips for Being in the Studio Audience of ‘The Late Show with Stephen Colbert’

I’m a total city mouse and ever since my college days, I’ve developed plenty of go-to hacks for free entertainment opportunities in New York City. Register for a ticket to an AOL Build talk! Go to Broadway in Bryant Park! Most especially, sign up for free tickets to one of the late night talk shows. I attended a taping of Late Night with Seth Meyers in February 2016 and two tapings of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, once in May 2016 and again in February 2017. I’m even waiting on my ticket status for another visit next month because, yes, I love Colbert and his show just that much.

While I definitely need to score a ticket to Jimmy Fallon just to check all of the major New York shows off my list, I could honestly see myself planning an annual visit to The Late Show for as long as possible (you’re required to wait six months before requesting tickets for another taping). As weird as it sounds, I now have a special fondness for the corner that the Ed Sullivan Theatre is on, both because of all the hours I’ve spent queuing outside the building and its position right next to the Broadway Theatre, where the last revival of Fiddler on the Roof played (I’m sort of a major Fiddler fangirl). The street is technically in the theatre district but is so far up that it’s a relatively calm area far away from most theaters and only a few blocks’ walk from Central Park!
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Colbert in his own form has always struck me such a class act and when the guest lineup of my second taping didn’t live up to the first one, I didn’t even mind. He and his house band put on a spectacle that only feels emphasized because of the literal theater you’re in as opposed to the smaller TV studios at NBC.

Back in the day, I know I had plenty of questions about going to a talk show taping. Going to The Late Show also requires a bit more prep than a NBC taping does, so I have five tips on how to make the most of your experience! Continue reading

5 Favorite Musical Moments in TV & Film

For an entertainment writer, I’m sorely uninformed about the world of music. I don’t know what Cardi B is famous for, I’d blast Taylor Swift’s old-school country music over Reputation any day, and I can’t even go a minute of watching the Grammys without saying, “Who’s that?.” Sorry, guys – my beat is TV and film, but if you want to give me a Music 101 course, let me know.

But when it comes to music’s role in TV and film, I think some of the most standout moments are amplified by song. Depending on how powerful a certain movie or TV scene is, I can forever equate a certain song with those fictional moments. Whether those scenes be sweet, romantic, or victorious, music tends to convey the natural mood of that instance, and I wanted to share five of my favorite of these kind of TV and film moments.

“Forever” — Jesse and Becky get married on Full House

I know it’s cheesy and gimmicky and that everybody of a certain age got bored of the revival after about half a season, but Full House was like the sitcom for my sisters and me when we were much younger. It was one of our first true forays outside of Disney Channel and PBS Kids, and because of the role “Forever” played in the series and particularly in Jesse and Becky’s relationship, I still find the song one of the most romantic ever. I love the Beach Boys’ original version of it.

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6 Episodes of TV That Made Me Cry the Hardest

If you saw my post about which movie scenes always make me cry, then it’s no surprise to you that I cry over certain TV shows on a regular basis. It could be a character’s death, an emotional monologue or, in the case of the usual suspect Call the Midwife, a particularly devastating medical twist. I seem to be ridiculously sensitive to TV trauma, and because I’m such an emotional sop, I wanted to share 6 of the TV episodes that made me cry the hardest.

There are definitely spoilers ahead (mostly with a theme of dead characters), and I’ve reserved the most spoiler-y episodes for the last two slots on the list. If you’ve yet to finish the most recent season of This Is Us, watch out for No. 1 in the post. As for the rest of them…well, it’s been quite awhile since they aired!

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What I’m Watching Lately

It’s my job to write about TV, and I can’t complain because this kind of path is what I’ve dreamt of and worked towards since I was 18 years old. That being said, being a writer, let alone an entertainment writer, can be a little draining and affect your desire to watch any new shows outside of your job. When you’ve spent all day working on your computer, sometimes the last thing you want to do is spend more time in front of a screen watching TV for your own enjoyment.

So, while I’m still trying to cut down on unnecessary screen time, I’ve only recently gotten out of a rut where I really wasn’t watching anything other than shows I cover for work. That being said, I definitely recommend the following three shows if you’re like me and enjoy historical shows or unconventional reality TV.

Also, I’m so excited for Timeless and Call the Midwife to come back in March!

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Otherwise known as the show that finally got Amy Sherman-Palladino some award show love, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel follows a Jewish housewife in 1950s Manhattan who finds a calling in stand-up comedy when her marriage abruptly ends.

One half of the duo behind my favorite podcast, Gilmore Guysnow runs a podcast deconstructing Maisel episodes, and in this, someone commented  that Maisel includes the time period and type of characters where Sherman-Palladino’s writing style and reference points just thrive. Gilmore Girls included old-school, mid-20th century references that were a little less believable for young characters in the early 2000s to use, but given that Maisel takes place in the ’50s, Sherman-Palladino’s knack for vintage pop culture can truly shine.

The physical quality of the Amazon Prime show is also great. There are sweeping, detailed shots that make the setting so believable, and things like that just make the entire story more immersive as a whole.

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The Christmas Pop Culture Blog Survey

I love getting to roll out the Christmas movies and specials every year. After seeing other bloggers’ end-of-the-year book surveys, I was inspired to create my own Christmas pop culture survey focused on the TV episodes, movies, and specials associated with this time of year. If you’re compelled to try out the survey on your own blog, please feel free to do so! I’d love to see your answers, so link back to this post so I’m in the know!

1) What is your favorite Christmas TV episode?

The most memorable one for me has always been Full House‘s “A Very Tanner Christmas,” which I basically grew up watching every year. Something about the holidays in the ’90s just makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside, no matter how cheesy the episode is. Also, watching that clip, I’m reminded of one of my favorite sitcom tropes – where do all of the guests at main characters’ house parties comes from? Suddenly they all have great friends outside of the recurring cast? These are the little details that haunt me, guys. 

In recent years, I’ve loved the Season 3 Christmas special of Call the Midwife (although all of its specials are just delicious) and, being another show that does great holiday episodes, The Middle‘s “Not So Silent Night” from two years ago. While it’s not distinctly a Christmas episode, How I Met Your Mother‘s “False Positive” also gets a special shout-out.

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10 Favorite Pop Culture Moments of 2017

2017 was a bit of a mess politically and socially. Trump’s tirades, several terrorist attacks, and an onslaught of sexual assault allegations were just some of the difficult moments we faced on a global scale this year. Although it’s important to find a balance between caring enough for the world’s struggles and taking note of your own self care, I’ve always loved entertainment and pop culture because of the relief they provide from sad or negative things.

Despite all of its negativeness, 2017 had plenty of moments that made me happy. I wanted to share my favorite pop culture moments of the year, so get ready to go down memory lane!

1) Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get engaged

Guys, this love story is a made-for-TV movie come to life! But, seriously, I’m hoping for another perfectly cheesy Lifetime flick about them a la William and Kate. Until recent months, I never knew much about Meghan Markle, but I definitely liked the sound of her and her relationship with Harry. After watching their adorable engagement interview, it’s clear that they’re truly in love and that Meghan has already begun a seamless-looking transition into royal life. Try not to smile watching that interview.

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