Get with the Program: Home Town

home townAirs: Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c on HGTV

TV show equationHome Town  =  Fixer Upper – 1/2 Asian – Texas + Mississippi

Premise in a Sentence:  Fixer Upper in Mississippi.

Really, I just wanted to use this post as a way to tell all of my Fixer Upper fans that if you aren’t watching Home Town, you should be.  But I guess I can go a little more in depth.

The show follows Erin and Ben Napier as they try and save their small town of Laurel, Mississippi by renovating one house at a time.  She is a designer and he is the handyman.  Sound familiar?  This show was always going to be compared to it’s Texan cousin, mainly because it is obviously HGTV’s attempt to recapture that Fixer Upper magic.  I am happy to report that it holds up pretty well in comparison.  I am even going to make a bold statement and say that the Napiers have had a more promising start than the Gaines’.  Have you ever gone back and watched those early episodes of Fixer Upper?  It’s disconcerting.  Chip is not his Chip-py self, he barely even cares about demo day, and Joanna is clearly uncomfortable on camera.  Not so with the Napiers.  They had the banter and dorky humor down pretty quick, perhaps because they had a pretty good example of a winning formula.

homeBen Napier is not quite as entertaining Chip, but his resourcefulness makes up for it in my book.  He is quite the Mr. Fix-It and seems more than capable when it comes to building furniture, restoring construction, and coming up with solutions to make Erin’s designs work.  Erin’s design aesthetic has a nice lived-in element to it, but it has variety.  Every project thus far has felt different while still having her stamp on it.  The best way I can describe it is that she seems to like a lot of stuff on the walls, but in a good way.  The town of Laurel seems to have more of a small town quality than Waco and the houses have more historic character.

Like I said, it’s pretty hard not to compare the two, but both shows come out of the comparison in good shape.  Part of me wonders if they should have just gone the Flip or Flop way and just called this Fixer Upper: Mississippi, but I am happy to see seemingly nice people get their own platform.  Fixer Upper is always going to be my go-to HGTV viewing, but I am happy to have Home Town in the off season.

Ellen

The Reviews Are In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

This is the last Fangirly review I will ever write. And it’s all Ellen’s fault.

See, Ellen has a job where a working knowledge of pop culture is requisite. Needless to say, Ellen is very good at her job. She knew long before I did that that reviews for James guardians-galaxy-2-poster-charactersGunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the film for which we bought our tickets weeks in advance, was getting slightly less glowing reviews than it’s predecessor. She told me, “Go into this movie thinking that’s it’s only OK, and it will probably exceed your expectations.”

So I did. I trust Ellen to a fault, not just because she’s my hero (please don’t tell her I said that), but because she has a nose for this sort of thing. Ellen’s the pop culture guru and I’m the one that can, under the right conditions, burp the first four letters of the jsc3020-cmp-v3781007-jsc3050-cmp-v2631009-comp-r-1486345142271_1280walphabet. You could say we both bring things to the table.

But as I sat through Vol. 2, I kept forgetting that it wasn’t a perfect specimen of modern film-making. I kept dancing in my seat to the soundtrack. I kept getting wrapped up in the story. I kept enjoying watching characters develop. I kept laughing so hard that I cried, and in some instances, crying so hard that I laughed. In short, I kept forgetting why I wasn’t supposed to love this movie unreservedly.

6ab3ae6be78d4be8fb6407ee754133c867474d74If I’m being honest, it wasn’t Ellen’s fault. She was just trying to shield us both from potential disappointment. But I can’t help but wonder what my experience of this movie might have been if I hadn’t spent the whole 136 minute run-time wondering which of it’s glaring flaws I was missing. I learned that I’d rather be surprised by life’s occasional disappointments rather than spend my time anticipating them. The pop culture landscape is such that people can earn a living from tearing down something someone else put blood and sweat into making.

So I’m done reading movie reviews. I encourage you to do the same. Whether you use guardians-of-the-galaxy-2-2016-billboard-1548them to decide which movies to see, or you use them to validate opinions you already had, I think that the brain trusts over at Entertainment Weekly have officially outlived their usefulness.

That being said, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologize to fans of Batman V. Superman. You thought that movie was great, and I trashed it. Hard. While I stand by what I said, you are entitled to love that dumpster fire of a movie (double standards are fun, aren’t they?).

Oh, I was supposed to review Guardian of the Galaxy, wasn’t I? Guys, so good.

Whitney Weldon

 

Grade A, Choice Picks: Ellen’s Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2017

May is upon us and you know what that means, children?  We are officially in the summer movie season!  Even better news, the lineup this year looks fairly promising.  There are still a lot of sequels but even those seem to be bringing something new to the table for their respective franchises.  With that, let’s take a look at the top 10 movies that I am most looking forward to seeing this summer.

10. King Arthur (May 12) Look.  At the very least, Charlie Hunnam.  On top of that, though, Guy Ritchie makes a fun movie and I have always been a fan of the Camelot mythology.  The trailers weren’t getting me super pumped, but the early rumblings are that this is a surprisingly great movie and should be a good time at the movies.  Plus, Charlie Hunnam.

9. The Big Sick (June 23) I always have to have at least one Sundance darling.  This film is about a Pakistani stand-up comic who falls for a white girl and struggles with telling his parents about her.  He further has to navigate his feelings when she becomes sick and falls into a coma.  Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon wrote this movie together based on their own relationship and they are utterly charming together on their podcast The Indoor Kids.  I think this one will be a nice reprieve from all the shoot ’em, blow ’em up we have on the docket this summer.

8. Dunkirk (July 21) This one doesn’t look it will be particularly fun to watch, but I am excited to see Christopher Nolan bring his touch to a war movie.  The approach that he is using to tell the story of this event by showing it from three different POVs of land, air, and sea has the feel of a mini Band of Brothers to me and that only further intrigues me.

7. Baywatch (May 25)  Could this be a trainwreck? Yes.  But I think it is more likely to be a pretty fun summer comedy.  Some recent TV spots that I have seen with Zac Efron in drag going “undercover” have me a little worried about the caliber of comedy we will be dealing with, but I am hoping it goes more in the direction of 21 Jump Street with irreverant and self-aware comedy.  You sort of have to with Baywatch, right?

6. Alien: Covenant (May 19) I am not always huge on “scary” or jump scares. Even though this looks like it will deliver both of those in spades, there’s no denying it also looks awesome.  Prometheus was both a hit and a miss with audiences, but this looks like it will be getting back to more of the intensity that Alien(s) delivered.  I may be watching with my hands over my eyes for half of it, but consider the ticket bought.

5. War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14) Both Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (don’t ask me which came first) were huge surprises for me.  What could have been quick money grabs on a pre-existing franchise ended up being very thoughtful films on the essence of “humanity” and a group of apes fighting for their right to it.

4. Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7th) I think it is safe to say that I have developed into quite the Marvel fangirl over the past 15 years, so to see Spider-Man getting his “homecoming” is pretty exciting.  After seeing Tom Holland make his debut as the (age appropriate) web-slinger in Captain America: Civil War, I was even more excited.   Add a dash of John Hughesian high school comedy with a pinch of RDJ’s Iron Man and you have what should be a great addition to Marvel’s roster.

3. Wonder Woman (June 2) Diana, don’t let me down.  This movie might have taken my top place if not for the DCEU’s less than stellar showing thus far.  My faith is still with Wonder Woman, though.  The trailers seem promising and Gal Gadot was one of the few redeeming qualities about BvS: Dawn of Justice.  I’m rooting for you, so please, please don’t screw it up!

2. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5)  I don’t know if I have made this clear yet, but I love Marvel movies and the first Guardians is my favorite Marvel movie, ergo, I am dang excited for this movie.  Early reports seem to indicate that this is not as great as the first, but not as great as the first is still pretty dang great in my book.  Already have my ticket to see it on Friday.

1. Baby Driver (June 28th) It’s always a safe bet that a new Edgar Wright movie will be number one on my list.  After SXSW, it is being touted as the action movie La La Land.  So, yeah, I’m in.  The premise of getaway listening to music to block out his tinnitus allows for the action sequences to all be set to music.  Did I already mention that I’m in?

-Ellen

 

Fan-Rants- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Subversive Power of a Good Narative

Dear Internet,

Sorry I haven’t written in a while, but so much has happened in the last three months. Ellen and I have fulfilled our mutual destiny by moving in together. Yes, that’s right; these two single soul-sisters are finally makin’ it happen. I’d say that our roommate dynamic is one part Golden Girls, one part Playing House (Ellen’s beagle Steve operates as a sort of Baby Charlotte to our Emma and Maggie).

Ours is a quiet existence, which is just fine with us, as it affords us plenty of time to pursue our passions: painting, dance, basket weaving, and making “ah-OO-gah” noises at cute boys through open car windows…

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Scratch that: we watch a lot of TV. Tonight’s media menu was The Music Man, followed by a YouTube palette cleanser, rounded off with a fresh episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If you, like so much of the world, have written S.H.I.E.L.D. off as another one of ABC’s lost causes, you’re assumption is as understandable as it is premature.  S.H.I.E.L.D. has had it’s ups and downs over the last 4 seasons (I’m looking at you, season 2). But nothing makes for fine TV escapism quite like a world in turmoil. Our evermore chaotic 24 hour news cycle is the perfect fodder for some scintillating social commentary, if only a member of our media-elite should take enough time from mustache twirling and fake news-ing to look for it (these are the jokes, folks). Enter  Agents shield-season-4-jemma-fights-lmdsof S.H.I.E.L.D. If you haven’t kept up, let me bring you up to speed.

Through a escalating and, frankly, very complicated series of events, the S.H.I.E.L.D. team
have found themselves trapped in a parallel “framework” reality where the government and media are controlled by Hydra. Some- Daisy, Gemma, and Coulson- remember the world as it was, while others- Fitz, Mac, May- have bought into the lie.
Fitz, in particular, has made a temperamental 180 as the new de facto leader of Hydra. Gone is the sweet Fitz of yester-season. In the framework he murders and manipulates anyone who opposes him as he works to bring an as yet unspecified Hydra agenda to fruition.

IAIN DE CAESTECKERThis season, in addition to being beautifully written, has been less than subtle in it’s criticism of our recent, ahem, regime change. References to “alternative facts” and a seamless work-in of the line “nevertheless, she persisted” abound.  This week’s episode featured a scene where one especially sleazy character offers to take another female character “furniture shopping, anywhere she wants”. For anyone not picking up on the reference,  I offer you this proud moment in American history.

Some might be tempted to say that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been heavy handed, that they are pushing an unapologetically progressive agenda. To which I say, maybe.

Or it’s just a story about a group of people trapped in a reality they don’t understand. Where ideologies that were once collectively deemed hateful and unsupportable have gained a foothold. Where good people are changed beyond recognition by conditions out of their control.  And, like any good example of the superhero formula, it shows that while some people might succumb to their circumstances, other will rise above them and work to make the world a better place.

Oh, and then we went to Chick-fil-a for dinner. Have you tried the spicy chicken sandwich? It’s like buddah.

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Whitney Weldon

Fangirly Presents: Why Women aren’t Funny

You know what sucks?

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And just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, I was informed today that women are, tragically, not funny.

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It’s true.

I know this because the person who let me in on this secret was, himself, blessed with a penis, so you know he knows comedy.

At first I was furious. How could someone make, with such confidence, such a blatantly untrue generalization?

Then I thought about it. And, wouldn’t you know it, he’s right.

Women really aren’t funny.

I mean, we have no sense of irony.

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Woman are historically terrible at physical comedy.

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Honestly, how many women can do impressions?

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I think, and this is just me, that women are too preoccupied with their appearance to be funny.

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And you know who really isn’t funny? Mature women.

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Maybe if we didn’t harp so much about objectification in the media.

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Maybe if we just got better at rolling with the punches.

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If we weren’t so damn prissy. You know, developed a sense of bathroom humor.

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It’s no wonder that male comedians don’t want to work with women.

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And why there aren’t any good female comedy duos.

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Who would have thought that ovaries, those things that launch our transformations into raging hose beasts with each new moon, would be the agents of our comedic destruction?

Let’s rally, ladies. Let’s focus on our strengths. Like wifery.

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And being good at literally everything else.

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Actually… wait…

I think I just thought of a joke.

Ok, bare with me, I’m new at this.

What did the woman say to the dumb-ass who thinks women aren’t funny?

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Get it?

Whitney Weldon

Fangirly Icons: Madeline Kahn

In these divisive times, it is important to focus on just about anything else.  In keeping with Whitney’s inspirational post from yesterday, I thought I would start another new feature on here, Fangirly Icons.  Whitney and I are never short on awesomely amazing ladies who we look up to, so this should be no problem for us.

For this first foray, I wanted to highlight my literal favorite of all time, Madeline Kahn.  I recently did a binge of every Madeline Kahn movie I own and was again reminded of how amazingly talented she was and how little credit she seems to get for the groundbreaking work that she was doing as female comedic talent of the time.  She was doing broad, over-the-top comedy that still came off as understated and nuanced, doing silly comedy in an intelligent way.  She was able to be loud and brassy (Blazing Saddles), nagging and conservative (What’s Up, Doc?), reserved and disturbed (Clue), and cultured and refined, with a touch of animalistic (Young Frankenstein). She was often a featured player in her movie roles, most notably in her run of Mel Brooks movies, but no matter the size of her role, she always stood out.

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As a little girl watching these movies, I always loved seeing this beautiful, seemingly-sophisticated lady be just as silly (if not sillier) than the guys.  A woman who was described by all who knew her as shy and reserved, making jokes about “sausages” and “poo poo undies”.  She delivered dirty jokes with a graceful, knowing arched brow that seemed to dare the viewer to try and scorn her for it.  To that point, Madeline Kahn was once quoted as saying, “It’s acceptable for men to act the fool. When women try, they’re considered aggressive and opinionated.”

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It has only been within the past 10 years or so that people have finally begun discussing this phenomenon and we as a public are still working on recognizing that yes, women CAN be as funny as men.  In this humble writer’s opinion, Madeline Kahn was being funnier than men 50 years ago.

Ellen