Tags: Obama politics TV

“They found a delicate folk art curio layered with hashish, and an elaborate photo album with heroin stuffed into its binding. The idea is to overwhelm the system: the more stuff you send, the more likely it is that some of it’ll make it through.”
As smuggling increases, a new reality show on the front lines at J.F.K. airport
“They found a delicate folk art curio layered with hashish, and an elaborate photo album with heroin stuffed into its binding. The idea is to overwhelm the system: the more stuff you send, the more likely it is that some of it’ll make it through.”

As smuggling increases, a new reality show on the front lines at J.F.K. airport

A ‘Parks and Recreation’ guide to the local media universe, by Tom McGeveran

I’ve probably missed stuff: Put it in the comments or @ me on Twitter (@tmcgev) and I’ll add submissions.

Got a submission for our guide? Reply to us here on Tumblr!

A ‘Parks and Recreation’ guide to the local media universe, by Tom McGeveran

I’ve probably missed stuff: Put it in the comments or @ me on Twitter (@tmcgev) and I’ll add submissions.

Got a submission for our guide? Reply to us here on Tumblr!


The premise of “Breaking Bad” is Mr. Chips’ transformation into Scarface. We’ve known this from nearly the beginning. But there is another storyline happening alongside that one: our own transformation as viewers. 
After Walt stole the methylamine a friend wrote to me: “Last night I realized that this is the point that I’ve finally become wholeheartedly in favor of Walter getting caught …. I just hate him so much finally.”

Starlee Kine on the latest episode of “Breaking Bad”

The premise of “Breaking Bad” is Mr. Chips’ transformation into Scarface. We’ve known this from nearly the beginning. But there is another storyline happening alongside that one: our own transformation as viewers.

After Walt stole the methylamine a friend wrote to me: “Last night I realized that this is the point that I’ve finally become wholeheartedly in favor of Walter getting caught …. I just hate him so much finally.”

Starlee Kine on the latest episode of “Breaking Bad”

GalleryTalkNY (the Tumblr!) talks to Capital about Bravo’s new “reality” show “Gallery Girls.”

Do you find “Gallery Girls” an accurate depiction of the New York art world?  In the first episode, the only accurate part is the shot of Maggie stuffing envelopes and getting coffee. Gallery interns would never be invited to an artist dinner following an opening—not even the children of collectors. I didn’t start developing close relationships with artists until late into my first year at the gallery when I gained everyone’s trust. The first few years of a “gallery girl’s” career are a lot of hard work. As a gallery assistant, I worked 60+ hours a week juggling a variety of tasks. I’m curious to see if they show these girls actually working.

GalleryTalkNY (the Tumblr!) talks to Capital about Bravo’s new “reality” show “Gallery Girls.”

Do you find “Gallery Girls” an accurate depiction of the New York art world?
In the first episode, the only accurate part is the shot of Maggie stuffing envelopes and getting coffee. Gallery interns would never be invited to an artist dinner following an opening—not even the children of collectors. I didn’t start developing close relationships with artists until late into my first year at the gallery when I gained everyone’s trust. The first few years of a “gallery girl’s” career are a lot of hard work. As a gallery assistant, I worked 60+ hours a week juggling a variety of tasks. I’m curious to see if they show these girls actually working.

"Since Walt has no real power, he must now strip his loved ones of theirs. How else will they keep believing he’s in charge?" - Starlee Kine on the latest episode of “Breaking Bad.”

"Since Walt has no real power, he must now strip his loved ones of theirs. How else will they keep believing he’s in charge?" - Starlee Kine on the latest episode of “Breaking Bad.”

Episode 6 of “The Newsroom” was great when it was season 3 of “West Wing.”


I’ve always been impressed by this show’s refusal to do that one trick where, let’s say, two characters hug and the camera shows one of them glaring, dead-eyed off into space while the other character can’t see. All the same, there were a whole lot of pointed looks in this episode. Hank’s expression when his soon to be ex-boss (can I just call him Not Sam Elliot?) talked about how Gus, a D.E.A. booster who came to his house for a barbecue, had actually all along been someone else completely, standing right in front of him. Hank’s face after that seemed to imply that he was putting the pieces together about Walt, but that could’ve been a perfectly fair misdirection. There was one like this last season actually, when Hank was unraveling his theory about Gus and the camera kept flashing on Gomez and also Not Sam Elliot in a way that made it seem like they were perhaps in on it too. At the time I remember thinking it was way too much of a regular cop-show move for “Breaking Bad,” but so far it seems to have been just a misdirection Gilligan was throwing at us (although Gomez could still be dirty). I can so clearly picture Gus teaching Not Sam Elliot how to fold a tinfoil pouch when barbecuing sea bass that it might have been a flashback scene.

Starlee Kine on ‘Breaking Bad,’ the final season: The wizard of ABQ

I’ve always been impressed by this show’s refusal to do that one trick where, let’s say, two characters hug and the camera shows one of them glaring, dead-eyed off into space while the other character can’t see. All the same, there were a whole lot of pointed looks in this episode. Hank’s expression when his soon to be ex-boss (can I just call him Not Sam Elliot?) talked about how Gus, a D.E.A. booster who came to his house for a barbecue, had actually all along been someone else completely, standing right in front of him. Hank’s face after that seemed to imply that he was putting the pieces together about Walt, but that could’ve been a perfectly fair misdirection. There was one like this last season actually, when Hank was unraveling his theory about Gus and the camera kept flashing on Gomez and also Not Sam Elliot in a way that made it seem like they were perhaps in on it too. At the time I remember thinking it was way too much of a regular cop-show move for “Breaking Bad,” but so far it seems to have been just a misdirection Gilligan was throwing at us (although Gomez could still be dirty). I can so clearly picture Gus teaching Not Sam Elliot how to fold a tinfoil pouch when barbecuing sea bass that it might have been a flashback scene.

Starlee Kine on ‘Breaking Bad,’ the final season: The wizard of ABQ

“‘The Newsroom’ is just not fun, and maybe that is because Sorkin is no longer having fun. Perhaps he’s too busy being angry at the world (with a hard-to-miss focus on women). Ironically, considering Sorkin’s contempt for the Internet, watching the Newsroom feels a bit like delving into the political blogosphere: either you toe the line or you leave yourself open to bucketloads of verbal hate. Just this week The Chicago Sun-Times had to turn off comments on a story about Alex Okrent, the 29-year-old Obama staffer who suddenly collapsed and died at Obama headquarters, because they were getting so nasty. On “The Newsroom” there is no room to disagree or for the characters to develop; we are basically just waiting for everyone to come to their senses or be punished.” - The television of cruelty: Aaron Sorkin thinks we’re stupid, and he’s punishing us for it

“‘The Newsroom’ is just not fun, and maybe that is because Sorkin is no longer having fun. Perhaps he’s too busy being angry at the world (with a hard-to-miss focus on women). Ironically, considering Sorkin’s contempt for the Internet, watching the Newsroom feels a bit like delving into the political blogosphere: either you toe the line or you leave yourself open to bucketloads of verbal hate. Just this week The Chicago Sun-Times had to turn off comments on a story about Alex Okrent, the 29-year-old Obama staffer who suddenly collapsed and died at Obama headquarters, because they were getting so nasty. On “The Newsroom” there is no room to disagree or for the characters to develop; we are basically just waiting for everyone to come to their senses or be punished.” - The television of cruelty: Aaron Sorkin thinks we’re stupid, and he’s punishing us for it


Another kind of “for white people” work is much easier to grasp. It conveys up front the notion that white people are a breed apart, morally, spiritually, intellectually. “Birth of a Nation,” “Gone with the Wind,” and “The Searchers,” yeah, sure, but also the first scene of the first episode of HBO’s “The Wire,” a moment that seemed so condescending to me that I could go no further with the series that virtually every white writer I know loves to pieces.
The opening of the series is a murder-scene conversation between a young hood-rat witness and a sage, world-weary white detective about the death of a lowlife named Snotboogie:
MCNULTY watches as the body, now bagged, is hauled into the back of the MORGUE WAGON.
MCNULTY: I got to ask you. If every time Snotboogie would grab the money and run away, why’d you even let him in the game?
WITNESS: What?
MCNULTY: If Snotboogie always stole the money, why’d you let him play?
WITNESS: You got to. This America, man.
The WITNESS looks away, oblivious to the poetry of it. MCNULTY turns around, takes in the scope of the tragedy that is Baltimore.
Yes, of course, the Witness wouldn’t grasp the poetry of his own words. Of course, this is McNulty’s moment to sigh deeply at the “tragedy that is Baltimore.” This America, man.
“Mad Men” doesn’t condescend in that way, but I still find it hard to relate to. Money and status seem to be on the line in nearly every encounter. That’s why one character, a formerly slim, icy and glamorous blond who has become plump and was rechristened by “Mad Men” fans on the internet as Fat Betty, is a tragicomic figure in this show’s universe.
The direction and music seemed designed to convey that nothing is sadder than being overweight and shoved to the margins of the rat race. Betty is living through the aftermath of a divorce and a cancer scare, sure, but the fact that she can’t suffer these misfortunes in style, like Jackie O strutting down Madison Avenue, compounds the tragedy. It made me think of John Cassavetes’ brutal kiss-off to middle-aged Gena Rowlands in “Opening Night”: “You’re not a woman to me anymore.” Fat Betty is the flipside of chubby, lonely but bubbly Queen Latifah staring down the abyss in the comedy Last Holiday.

Steven Boone on the very white poetry of “Mad Men”

Another kind of “for white people” work is much easier to grasp. It conveys up front the notion that white people are a breed apart, morally, spiritually, intellectually. “Birth of a Nation,” “Gone with the Wind,” and “The Searchers,” yeah, sure, but also the first scene of the first episode of HBO’s “The Wire,” a moment that seemed so condescending to me that I could go no further with the series that virtually every white writer I know loves to pieces.

The opening of the series is a murder-scene conversation between a young hood-rat witness and a sage, world-weary white detective about the death of a lowlife named Snotboogie:

MCNULTY watches as the body, now bagged, is hauled into the back of the MORGUE WAGON.

MCNULTY: I got to ask you. If every time Snotboogie would grab the money and run away, why’d you even let him in the game?

WITNESS: What?

MCNULTY: If Snotboogie always stole the money, why’d you let him play?

WITNESS: You got to. This America, man.

The WITNESS looks away, oblivious to the poetry of it. MCNULTY turns around, takes in the scope of the tragedy that is Baltimore.

Yes, of course, the Witness wouldn’t grasp the poetry of his own words. Of course, this is McNulty’s moment to sigh deeply at the “tragedy that is Baltimore.” This America, man.

“Mad Men” doesn’t condescend in that way, but I still find it hard to relate to. Money and status seem to be on the line in nearly every encounter. That’s why one character, a formerly slim, icy and glamorous blond who has become plump and was rechristened by “Mad Men” fans on the internet as Fat Betty, is a tragicomic figure in this show’s universe.

The direction and music seemed designed to convey that nothing is sadder than being overweight and shoved to the margins of the rat race. Betty is living through the aftermath of a divorce and a cancer scare, sure, but the fact that she can’t suffer these misfortunes in style, like Jackie O strutting down Madison Avenue, compounds the tragedy. It made me think of John Cassavetes’ brutal kiss-off to middle-aged Gena Rowlands in “Opening Night”: “You’re not a woman to me anymore.” Fat Betty is the flipside of chubby, lonely but bubbly Queen Latifah staring down the abyss in the comedy Last Holiday.

Steven Boone on the very white poetry of “Mad Men”

"Don is congratulated all around by his pitch, but in that way that you allow your kid just home from freshman year of college to explain to you who Heidegger was. Everyone’s in on the game but him. He thinks he must look so gallant leaving Joanie’s place, with his hat all cocked, a real life Superman in his suit: “I need to go home and prepare.” He got to her too late and even though she knows the truth, she doesn’t say a word. For reasons that were probably a mix of kindness, shame and pride she allows him to look like a fool the next day. He’ll never know whether it was he that won Jaguar over or she, and even if it was a combination of both, they didn’t do it as a team, a concept he has never approved of. “It’s very hard to get things done with you in another room,” says Ginsburg. “I obviously disagree,” answers Don. Now he’s lost the faith of his staff and has no way of gauging his value anymore. His greatest fear of being abandoned happened, at the hands of the three woman, humans, who make him feel the most whole."

— Starlee Kine, in her recap of Sunday’s episode of “Mad Men,” on Capital New York.

Tags: Mad Men TV


I’ve sometimes fantasized that the finale of “30 Rock” shouldn’t have Tina Fey in it. What would happen if we suddenly had 22 minutes inside of the “TGS” studios, which the camera, pointing as it does at Fey’s character with the same technology as it does on Tracy Morgan, on Subas the janitor, on zany Kenneth the Page, pretends to render objectively, and found that the camera and the mind of Liz Lemon are actually in some out-of-body way engaged in a feedback loop? Jack Donaghy becomes a gruff but finally somewhat boring guy, a little bit of a backslapper but completely without absurdity. Subas’ accent is severely lessened, and he’s going to night school to re-obtain the law degree he had in his home country; Jenna is very pretty, driven, a little shallow, but utterly un-absurd.
In this version, I think Tracy Morgan’s dressing room, the nerve center of a giant movie and television franchise, is full of the bustle of efficient assistants faxing out contracts and brokering his bookings on interview shows. Kenneth, with his slight accent, is still endlessly accommodating, but not at all weird and far less prone to jaw about his backward Appalachian upbringing.
What an exercise like this would disclose is the possibility that the Liz Lemon character’s internal life does not itself accurately reflect the world around her. It’s not possible to experience the outside world without the filter of one’s own imagination. When Dunham’s most ardent supporters report that she gets so much right about life for young women in New York City, I suspect they mean she gets so much right about the internal experience of being a young woman in New York City. A very specific kind of young woman.
This is the trouble with “Girls,” I think. It’s the possibility that it discloses something about the internal imagination of white people in New York City  in what we are sometimes told is a post-racial world: That the white imagination renders successful people of color essentially white by a subconscious, internal exercise; those that remain themselves after that operation is complete are stereotypes. If they were not, they would translate as white.

New York, as seen from the ground floor of the Apatower | by Tom McGeveran | Capital New York

I’ve sometimes fantasized that the finale of “30 Rock” shouldn’t have Tina Fey in it. What would happen if we suddenly had 22 minutes inside of the “TGS” studios, which the camera, pointing as it does at Fey’s character with the same technology as it does on Tracy Morgan, on Subas the janitor, on zany Kenneth the Page, pretends to render objectively, and found that the camera and the mind of Liz Lemon are actually in some out-of-body way engaged in a feedback loop? Jack Donaghy becomes a gruff but finally somewhat boring guy, a little bit of a backslapper but completely without absurdity. Subas’ accent is severely lessened, and he’s going to night school to re-obtain the law degree he had in his home country; Jenna is very pretty, driven, a little shallow, but utterly un-absurd.

In this version, I think Tracy Morgan’s dressing room, the nerve center of a giant movie and television franchise, is full of the bustle of efficient assistants faxing out contracts and brokering his bookings on interview shows. Kenneth, with his slight accent, is still endlessly accommodating, but not at all weird and far less prone to jaw about his backward Appalachian upbringing.

What an exercise like this would disclose is the possibility that the Liz Lemon character’s internal life does not itself accurately reflect the world around her. It’s not possible to experience the outside world without the filter of one’s own imagination. When Dunham’s most ardent supporters report that she gets so much right about life for young women in New York City, I suspect they mean she gets so much right about the internal experience of being a young woman in New York City. A very specific kind of young woman.

This is the trouble with “Girls,” I think. It’s the possibility that it discloses something about the internal imagination of white people in New York City  in what we are sometimes told is a post-racial world: That the white imagination renders successful people of color essentially white by a subconscious, internal exercise; those that remain themselves after that operation is complete are stereotypes. If they were not, they would translate as white.

New York, as seen from the ground floor of the Apatower | by Tom McGeveran | Capital New York

'Game of Thrones' is bloodthirsty and depraved, but its pleasures shouldn't feel like guilty ones

But what many commentators missed is that “Game of Thrones” is not a modern show derived from modern conventions and ethics. It is a feudal drama with feudal ethics (and, in the case of Stark, who is executed on the order of the crazed King Joffrey at the end of season one, it is also a tragedy). Its people’s principles are honor, duty, loyalty, family, and primogeniture. They do not concern themselves with many of the things a HBO viewer might care about. Rather, this is an 11th century world, produced for our 21st century entertainment. The pleasure of the show’s scenarios are sometimes as vicariously subversive as they are dramatic. These people live and do things in ways that we cannot.
“Mad Men”—that other anxiously awaited returning drama—also receives high marks despite comparatively backwards attitudes towards gender and race. But the common justification goes that Matthew Weiner and company are simply representing the time in which the show is set, when brutish behavior towards women, Jews, and blacks was open and tolerated. And yet, it is for that same reason that some critics, like Daniel Mendelsohn, writing in The New York Review of Books, have found the show uncomfortable. There’s a sense in which the capability to represent these behaviors is being trumpeted—look what we can do!—and the audience, by way of the passive medium of television, is made complicit.
“Game of Thrones” may unsettle some viewers for similar reasons. While the show’s women are often rewarded for fierce displays of principle, most often they are of one kind: maternal love. Occasionally we see women scheming alongside, or against, the men, but they have no way to match the agency and physical power wielded by their male counterparts. When a female character is introduced, there’s an even chance that you’ll eventually see her nude, if she isn’t already. Prostitutes are abundant, and a number of women are victims of sexual violence, sometimes while trying to supplicate themselves before powerful men.

'Game of Thrones' is bloodthirsty and depraved, but its pleasures shouldn't feel like guilty ones

But what many commentators missed is that “Game of Thrones” is not a modern show derived from modern conventions and ethics. It is a feudal drama with feudal ethics (and, in the case of Stark, who is executed on the order of the crazed King Joffrey at the end of season one, it is also a tragedy). Its people’s principles are honor, duty, loyalty, family, and primogeniture. They do not concern themselves with many of the things a HBO viewer might care about. Rather, this is an 11th century world, produced for our 21st century entertainment. The pleasure of the show’s scenarios are sometimes as vicariously subversive as they are dramatic. These people live and do things in ways that we cannot.

“Mad Men”—that other anxiously awaited returning drama—also receives high marks despite comparatively backwards attitudes towards gender and race. But the common justification goes that Matthew Weiner and company are simply representing the time in which the show is set, when brutish behavior towards women, Jews, and blacks was open and tolerated. And yet, it is for that same reason that some critics, like Daniel Mendelsohn, writing in The New York Review of Books, have found the show uncomfortable. There’s a sense in which the capability to represent these behaviors is being trumpeted—look what we can do!—and the audience, by way of the passive medium of television, is made complicit.

“Game of Thrones” may unsettle some viewers for similar reasons. While the show’s women are often rewarded for fierce displays of principle, most often they are of one kind: maternal love. Occasionally we see women scheming alongside, or against, the men, but they have no way to match the agency and physical power wielded by their male counterparts. When a female character is introduced, there’s an even chance that you’ll eventually see her nude, if she isn’t already. Prostitutes are abundant, and a number of women are victims of sexual violence, sometimes while trying to supplicate themselves before powerful men.

Starlee Kine of This American Life is recapping Mad Men through the eyes of the women on the show for Capital New York:

The show’s female characters seem now to have arrived at the forefront of the action at the same time as they did in the course of American history. There were so many different types of women interweaving through that office last night that it wouldn’t have been presumptuous of Fellini to have demanded a posthumous consulting credit. Even when they weren’t on screen, they were being talked about. Everyone is interested in hiring a girl, upending a girl, giving their soul over to a girl. And interwoven throughout comes the desperate, muddled searching,  the quest to find new categories to place them all in.

Starlee Kine of This American Life is recapping Mad Men through the eyes of the women on the show for Capital New York:

The show’s female characters seem now to have arrived at the forefront of the action at the same time as they did in the course of American history. There were so many different types of women interweaving through that office last night that it wouldn’t have been presumptuous of Fellini to have demanded a posthumous consulting credit. Even when they weren’t on screen, they were being talked about. Everyone is interested in hiring a girl, upending a girl, giving their soul over to a girl. And interwoven throughout comes the desperate, muddled searching, the quest to find new categories to place them all in.

Tags: Mad Men TV