Portlandia: Fridays at 10p.m. Eastern on IFC
Mike normally reviews new (or recently returned) TV in an attempt to answer the question: Would I watch this again or would I recommend a friend picking up this series? However, once every week or so, the brain trust at Manhattan Digest gives him a little more free reign which he in turn uses to highlight the stuff you should check out (but probably haven’t yet).
I realize right off the bat that I am asking a lot, immediately recommending a show that comes on at 10p.m. on a Friday night, a time when most people are out and about kicking off their weekend, be it with friends, at a bar, or a party. That being said, if for some reason if you are stuck in on a Friday night (it is the middle of winter after all) or have a half hour to kill and a Netflix account or On Demand service I strongly recommend giving Portlandia a spin.
Portlandia is a sketch show that is the brainchild of Fred Armisen (Saturday Night Live) and Carrie Brownstein (of the bands Sleater-Kinney and Wild Ones). The show revolves around the hip, the hippies, and the hipsters that live in the greater Portland area. The show is currently airing it’s third season, with the first two seasons available on DVD (or on Netflix if that’s your sort of thing).
While there is a glut of sketch comedy regularly on TV between SNL, shows on Comedy Central and Adult Swim and the library of classic sketch comedy (be it Kids in the Hall, SCTV or Monty Python) that can be accessed through a variety of different means (be it DVD, YouTube, etc.), Portlandia stands out from the pack because it feels less forced, hackneyed, or reliant on pop culture than many of those similar shows.
The show’s humor comes from a number of sources. First and foremost, the show does a superb job of sending up pretentiousness, whether it’s yuppie parents who feel that their child’s life trajectory is based on getting into a choice preschool, the feminist bookstore owners whom are comically inept in running a retail establishment to the extent that they prefer donations over selling books, or people who create “art” by putting birds on various objects. Similarly, anyone whose ever had to deal with any alt-culture subgroup, be it your garden variety hipster, street punk or someone whose life choices are based off of some sense of moral superiority as opposed to actual intellectual honesty will see those contradictions ring true in many of the show’s characters.
The show’s second main form of humor comes from zany surrealism. This is often seen in a lot of the segments involving the Mayor of Portland (Kyle McLaughlin), who often dispatches Fred and Carrie (playing themselves) on various civic missions for the good of the city, whether it’s ensuring the Olympics never come to Portland, creating the city’s first major league team, or redesigning the police uniforms to give them a softer and less authoritative feel. Similarly, Portlandia has turned the wait for Sunday brunch into a post-apocalyptic wasteland where cutting the line is treated with extreme (and toasted) prejudice.
While there is no serialization inherent in the show, the show truly succeeds in creating a universe that seems as full and vibrant as a show like The Simpsons (which is known for its’ fairly large recurring cast), which is no small feat considering that the bulk of the characters are played by the duo of Brownstein and Armisen. This is critical as it means you can pick up the show at any point (as opposed to a show that runs on in-jokes and callbacks like say Frisky Dingo, or a show with a heavy serial element like Community). That being said, my recommended start point is still the pilot as it opens with one of the shows strongest sketches (The Dream of the 90’s) and really sets the tone of what you can expect throughout the rest of the series.
It is pretty astounding how common it is that a lot of gay men subconsciously feel they are not good enough and frequently put themselves down to the point where it has become the norm. The years of being categorized as a mental illness and having to hide one’s sexuality are being left behind as society enters an era of more acceptance and understanding. Yet still there is a sense of solitude and misunderstanding that cuts through the gay male community.
Many have written about the gay male community suffering through post traumatic stress disorder as a result of HIV wiping out an absurd amount of gay men, to me this could not be any more true. Now on top of still struggling with self esteem and self worth issues, there is a constant awareness that the natural sex gay men enjoy can lead to a disease that will destroy your immune system without some form of medication to treat it. When it comes to sex the gay male community has been scrutinized more than anyone else, from judgement for sexual choices and preferences to shame for desiring intimate and barrier-free sex. This scrutiny has not only come from people outside the gay male community but from community members themselves.
It doesn’t help that this country carries a deep seeded stigma towards sex, causing many to revolt and take on the complete extreme side of things by being overly sexual. Hence 1968 Summer of Love and the 70s, which were years of being as sexually free as possible. To be clear, I’m not stating there is anything wrong with that. Hedonism is part of our human nature and the more we embrace it the better we can care for it and not let it run our lives. Like everything else, moderation is key. However, is it really surprising that people have taken extreme measures to express themselves sexually after years of being repressed about it?
The same perspective applies to gay men in response to years of sexual restrictions after HIV hitting the community. It is only normal to crave sex without restrictions and when you create an environment where even talking about that desire is put down and ridiculed, well then it all goes underground where no one openly talks about it and people are less likely to be frank around discussions about HIV, STDs and looking at different options to be safer.
In the past few years I’ve heard some gay men refer to condom free sex as a “kinky” – wow, really? Kinky? That’s how far restriction has taken the notion of sex without condoms, where it is considered a kink or a fetish of sorts…as if it is something that is SO out of the normal range. Let’s be real here, sex with condoms is not natural or normal sex. Sex with condoms is simply a way to be safer and feel more protected. Unfortunately the community has let fear get in the way so much so that it has prevented the ability to just talk about the normal desire for sex without condoms.
In a community that still faces strong issues of insecurity and low self esteem, it is imperative that shame and judgement be removed from dialogue when it comes to sex. When people have low self worth and don’t have a safe outlet to discuss sex beyond condoms, the typical outcome will lead to behaviors that only perpetuate more misunderstanding and solitude.
– Alex Brousset, MFTi
Did you catch Seven Psychopaths last October? …yeah, didn’t think so. Martin McDonagh’s latest film certainly made back it’s modest budget of 15 million dollars, and received plenty of solid reviews, but it certainly wasn’t the talk of the cinema landscape. As a self-proclaimed film critic, I have to say that Seven Psychopaths holds a unique distinction for me, as it was the single film of 2012 that I had the most mixed feelings towards. With the film arriving on DVD and Blu-Ray today, here’s why I feel you might want to catch/skip this underrated/overrated crime comedy.
In describing the plot, it’s best to put it like this: It’s a cross between Adaptation and Pulp Fiction. Like the former of those two films, writer/director Martin McDonagh basically writes himself into the film as a fictionalized version of himself (played by Colin Farrell), who is a struggling Hollywood writer trying to complete a screenplay. He’s having writer’s block with his latest screenplay entitled Seven Psychopaths (The film is very self-referential if you haven’t noticed), and idles his time drinking and hanging out with his jerk-ass friend Billy Buckle (Sam Rockwell). The film’s action kicks in when Billy and his accomplice Hans (Christopher Walken) steal the dog of a cartoonishly insane gangster (Woody Harrelson), and Marty finds himself drawn into their hijinks. Throughout the film, we uncover the “psychopaths” that give Marty’s screenplay its inspiration.
For the uninformed, Martin McDonagh is a rather distinguised writer for both theater and film. The 42-year old McDonagh (a dual citizen of both England and Ireland) spent much of his 20s and 30s creating acclaimed plays such as The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Cripple of Inishmaan, before deciding to turn his attention to making movies. In 2004 he wrote and directed a short film called Six Shooter which turned out to he a hell of a debut, as it won the 2005 Academy Award for best short film. His first feature film, In Bruges, came out in 2008 and proved to be a well liked dark comedy, and seemingly a sign of an illustrious film career to follow.
Seven Psychopaths is easily his most mainstream work to date, but his sense of black humor isn’t hampered too much by the commercial leanings. Filled with clever fuck-laced dialogue, parodic gangster tropes, and so-bloody-it’s-fun violence, Seven Psychopaths easily finds it’s place amongst other post-Tarantino crime films. It’s clearly not anything new, but that doesn’t keep the movie from being any less watchable. McDonagh certainly proves to be an actor’s director here, as the entire cast shines. The characters are all as playful as they are violent, which is certainly what the film’s tone is going for. Granted, the film is undeniably random and messy throughout, but the acting and scenarios are so creative that Seven Psychopaths remains highly enjoyable for 80 out of it’s 109 minutes.
…Then the final act happens and boy does it disappoint! The film’s creativity seems to suddenly dissipate, and we’re left with a half-assed shoot-out to climax the film. What’s worse, the “pivotal” moments that follow fall flat as well, and the writing just comes off as lazy. Granted, the film visually peaks in a scene that precedes the climax, but it’s still hard not to feel that the end is a bit of a cop-out. Seven Psychopaths needed to have a really crazy yet sublime ending, that would of made up for the film’s random nature, and nicely delivered its message on the arduous process of writing and re-writing a film script. Instead, what ever McDonagh was trying to say goes right out the window through a cliche-heavy ending that truly lacks spark.
So critics were right to call Seven Psychopaths a fun film (at least for the first two-thirds), but it ultimately fails as a commentary on screenplay writing. Certainly worth a view, especially if you love crime movies, but to be honest it’s difficult for me to recommend this film to very many people. It’s possibly too slow for the action movie crowd, and arthouse audiences are likely to find it too flawed or over-the-top to be worth the price of admission. For that reason…I’m gonna have to recommend that you go see In Bruges instead.
Through the Eyes Of Brandi Carlile
When I used to hear the words “Country Music” I had a narrow minded view of a spoon slapping, twang sounding, lyrically limited genre. Brandi Carlile’s “Bear Creek” is a perfect illustration of how vast country musics reach can be while touching the many emotions of the soul.
Carlile’s lyrical genius manages to evoke emotion and put me in the shoes of a child, a lover, a strong women and a lost soul. Each and every track tells a different story, rather then having a constant theme throughout the album.
I feel that to do “Bear Creek” real justice, this review must go into several of her tracks in depth, as each has its own special element that deserves to be explored. The opening track, “Hard Way Home” has a musically upbeat sound, including a bit of a “soul clap” giving that boisterous feel. “Raise Hell” encompasses a powerful element, while allowing to feel her struggle not only through her lyrics but through her voice. During “Keep Your Heart Young”, Carlile demonstrates the classic country sound with beautiful harmonies, with an exquisite accompaniment of an acoustic guitar, a walking upright bass line and the soft sound of brushes tickling the snare drum. With the ballad “A Promise to Keep” the sorrow of Carlile is expressed with her melodic lyrics and classical quartet with the accompaniment of a guitar, touching both your heart and soul.
Carlile has effectively and emotionally put out an album with cutting-edge elements that many artists strive to have. She displays lyrical mastery, vocal finesse and is accompanied by a variety musical styles, putting together what REALLY makes an album. Each track has something special to give to the listener, and is worthy of a gander so we can share the Carlile experience together. Do yourself the COUNTRY favor.
Pamela Erin Gordon
Welcome to RuPaul’s Drag Race!! Are you excited? I know I am, even though I have no idea who these people are! Let’s bust out our control top panty hose and get going!
The first thing I notice about the opener is that there are no big girls here. It’s all skinny femme girls. Oh boy. There’s going to be a lot of screaming, I can tell. Let’s meet the ladies.
Detox dances and sings and I already don’t care. It’s Willam 2.0. Roxxxy comes in and needs to blend, or something. I’m confused by the shade of her base. Jade is pretty much a girl. No really. Serena shows up in a tulle dress but with no Spanish accent. Interesting. Alyssa informs us that she’s the Vanessa Williams of drag. I wonder how Ms. Williams feels about this. Jinkx is Seattle’s Youngest MILF and another actor. I don’t know if I have the strength. Penny shows up as our resident big girl, and is also the fan favorite, and makes a big deal about that. Vivianne is an Asian Bettie Paige wannabe. Alaska is Sharron Needles’ boyfriend and shows up in a horse mask. Everyone’s awkward. Honey is giving us Pam Grier realness. Ivy comes in trying too hard. Monica whatever can’t say her name without saying her full name. Lineysha Sparks is our resident Spanish speaker. Coco comes in last. I’m assuming you know what that means…
Uh oh! There’s already drama going on between the girls!
She-Mail! RuPaul’s all shook up! Is it another disaster motif? The dolls start screaming and somewhere a group of Justin Bieber fans think it’s too much.
Instead of a disaster, we’re starting out in the pool. The pit crew’s in speedos and I don’t care about anything else except more Sean Morales. Jade comes in and somehow manages to miss the giant tin of water. Yeah.
It’s going to be Esther Williams homage. I can’t imagine that this will be good for their outfits and make-up. Serena’s paella is showing and it turns out she wasn’t tucking, due to a poufy dress. The other dolls give her the Look. Half these people can’t handle water. No, really. Who are these people who don’t ever learn how to swim? Pool parties? Beaches? Like they NEVER go near the water. I’m so confused. There’s the obvious Shelley Winters joke with Penny. Alaska doesn’t know how to go deep and we just leave it at that. Everyone has “I’m holding my breath” face.
Apparently, Jinkx has narcolepsy. I doubt this is the last we’ll hear of this.
Detox wins, and it’s actually a fun picture.
Tomorrow is going to be a shopping spree and everyone’s excited, but realizes that could be a lot of things. Also, Jinkx, take off the Downtown Julie Brown hat.
The dolls get on a double decker tourist bus and start passing by “celebrities” like LaToya and Chas. It’s weird. There’s lots of lip-synching and I have no idea what’s going on. Somewhere, Connie and Carla are jumping in their seats.
The bus stops outside of a boutique and out comes Camille Grammar, who knows ALL about men in dresses, if you catch my drift. She sends them around the back, and everyone looks lost. They’re met by RuPaul in a giant pink Hazmat suit. All the dumpsters in the alley are filled with swag and they have a minute to grab as much shit as they can so they can make a red carpet dress. There’s more screaming and hollering. Take off the damn hat, Jinkx!
Back at headquarters, Roxxxy has a make-up dress that she always wears. Alaska is the first to get naked and apparently has a huge cock. There’s some drama between Jade and one of the others who has a huge overbite and a bolt of red sequined fabric. Shade is thrown, again, and I’m starting to roll my eyes.
Dressmaking time! It’s a mix of talents and abilities. Serena’s going super slow and Ru’s concerned. Jade talks more shit about her. Roxxxy talks about her recent weight loss and we all tell her she looks great. Penny discusses her dress and Ru looks unconvinced. Alaska’s making a saran wrap dress. Yup. That’s right.
While they’re getting ready, everyone talks more shit about everyone else. Alaska bring sup that he’s dating Sharron and everyone starts asking about their sex life. He’s apparently insecure about it all, and Overbite digs and digs. Serena interrupts everyone with a screech that makes Tyra’s voice seem beautiful. More shade. I don’t care. Let’s meet the judges.
Tonight, we have Mike Ruiz, who’s pretty but…. yeah, he’s pretty. The other judge is Camille Grammar. Why not? Runway time!
Roxxxy still needs to blend but the judges like the dress.
Jinkx just wrapped herself in fabric.
Detox is non-descript.
Ivy’s dress looks well sewn and her hair is very Janice Dickenson
Honey’s dress is weird, but I like the top (Shut up)
Jade looks like NBC and a Carol Channing hooker had a kid.
Alysssa’s was fun until she opened the cape thing.
Penny’s a scroll down which gets worse and worse the further you go down.
Coco looks like a frosting disaster.
Vivienne does the same mid-thigh chiffon train thing.
Alaska’s actually came together. Go her.
Lynesha’s dress is rather dramatic and kind of cool though could fit a bit better.
Monica is Dida 2.0
Serena just looks . . . weird.
Ru berates the safe girls and they all cry.
The judges love Roxxxy’s dress and she butters up RuPaul by showing off how she bought Ru’s shoes. Ivy’s sewing impresses the judges, but Santino wants some trash thrown in. I’m leaving that alone. Jade has too much going on. Yes. Yes she does. The judges talk about Penny and her dress and her shading, and the camera keeps focusing on Roxxxy. Everyone loves Alaska. Lynesha reveals that her dress was wallpaper and I’m impressed, and don’t mind the fit. Serena looks too much like a little Latin boy in a lederhosen dress. So true.
The judges like Roxxxy and I don’t know why. Michelle calls Ivy’s gown “eloguent” but hates her hair. Santino can’t tell where Jade’s taste level is. Michelle hates the scroll down on Penny. Mike was pleasantly surprised by Alaska, as we all where, but Michelle wants some big ol’ Jersey Girl earrings. The judges talk about Lynesha’s show like Manila didn’t do it two seasons ago. We all hate Serena. Looks like Penny and Serena, folks!
Roxxxy wins the whole she-bang, which I didn’t expect. Ru tells Jade to edit, which, let’s hope THAT happens. Up for elimination? Serena and Penny. Lip-synching to Party in the U.S.A. Yawn. Serena is giving us MOUTH, gworl and is all over the stage. Looks like it’s going to be nothing but skinny bitches after this. Penny doesn’t know the words and covers it up, while Serena is actually performing. Probably because she’s actually heard of the song, and Penny’s all “Miley who?” Serena stay. Go fig.
Next week! Skinny bitches do stuff! I know I’ll be watching!
Pantha Du Prince & the Bell Laboratory – Elements of Light
Score – 8.0/10
Similar artists – Voices From The Lake, Ricardo Villalobos
Genre – Minimal Techno, Ambient Techno, Meditative
I first listened to “Elements of Light” while driving to work during the wee morning hours after an unexpected snowstorm. Gazing at the newly whitened landscape as I rolled along the trafficless highway enacted a serene, glacial light upon the music. In essence, the music was perfected by this environment, and I was soothed into a state of transcendental bliss. I have listened to the music in a variety of settings in an attempt to rekindle my original impression of earthly tranquility, but despite my efforts, I have been unable to reach that same apex of enlightenment.
Regardless of environment, Pantha Du Prince’s fourth LP remains a technically complex, totally immersive headphone listen. While less showy than Black Noise, this is a leap forward for Pantha. “Elements of Light” consists 5 continuously flowing tracks, each largely composed with an assortment of bells. The main draw of the record is how Pantha does so much with this type of instrument, which has seemingly unlimited potential in his hands. There are other instruments as well, but all are second to the ting’s and tang’s of the bells. Pantha’s new, extended pseudonym (& the Bell Laboratory) is an aptly titled one, as it is easy to imagine Pantha composing this material in the heart of a giant clock tower, surrounded by an array of shiny percussive equipment.
The album opens with particularly ethereal bells tingling away in unison. Empty space is abundant, and there is little to remind us of the Pantha from previous outings. The sounds grow busier with each minute, but it is not until the 8 minute mark that a kick drum is introduced and we are given a hint towards listening to anything pertaining to techno music. The album continues to pick up plenty of steam throughout the 12 minute “Particle”, and although you will certainly be tapping your foot, it is not what one could consider dance fare. Pantha’s music has always been the kind to make be jiggle, and there are certainly moments here that feature Pantha’s signature bass and groove, but the shifting structure and emphasis on experimentation make this a home listening experience rather than something you would want to play at a party.
The momentum simmers down at the start of “Spectral Split”, the album’s penultimate, 17 minute track. The constantly changing bell patterns that build to the album’s climax make me gleefully aroused every time. Quite paradoxically, the last 10 minutes of Spectral Split are more exciting than any techno track I’ve heard in months, but are simultaneously lamentable in their melancholic tone. The Final track, “Quantum”, is blissful lullaby-esque ambience that concludes the album on a contemplative note. The last 40 seconds of the album are dead silent, giving the listener time to gather his/her thoughts and return to the real world before removing the headphones.
At the beginning of this review I stated that the album never rewarded me as much as it did on my introductory listen; this is true only in the sense of a musical experience. Like all good albums, “Elements of Light” offers something new and rewarding with each listen. At ¾ of an hour and excellently paced, when compared to Black Noise’s hour + running time, Elements of Light flies by. The album invokes the same meditative full-body experience that last year’s beloved “Voices from the Lake” LP did, but it does so in half the time. The fact that this album is both easy to listen to and engrossing are the reasons I feel confident I will revisit it commonly throughout the year.
* – Album Highlight
There is nothing like a nice long lunch to break up the workday. With this years’ restaurant week off to a strong start on such a cold part of this winter, I always look towards some delicious rib sticking warm foods to kick off my first attempt at leisure during the day. The Exchange at the Setail Wall Street stole my heart with a perfectly balanced succulent sunchoke soup. I would go back and eat this soup every day, if they would let me. The soup was finished with a beautiful, herbaceous oil and thyme crème fraíche There were surprising pepper notes throughout bringing the whole bowl into balance. The earth flavors of the sunchoke melded perfectly with the freshness of the other components.
Second course was another root vegetable inspired dish, with beets, celery and horseradish. Oh, but did I forget, there was also a perfectly cut and seared piece of salmon. Only down fall was that I did not have a knife with an edge to pierce the decadent crusting, so that I could leave more of the fish intact when trying to devour it. The table presentation of this dish fit perfectly with the ambiance of the financial district sleek and sophisticated venue. With a simple pour, a vibrant deep red beet broth was poured over the celery and parsnips under the salmon fillet. The open kitchen and wine lined walls make me want to return for a dinner date. But, the lighting was perfect for a business lunch too. There was comfort and room for a closing lunch. (I will be back for one of those.) The lighting was perfect for so that reading could still be done without a strain of the eyes, but for me I would find it too hard to concentrate on the work on not the artfully prepared food.
The final course was a light and fresh citrus layer cake with candied lime zest and blood orange segments. Although there was not a ton of flavor in the cake its self, the texture and finish is what made it artful.
Chef Josh Capone and Pastry Chef Alise Ciucci earned a place in my stomach when I headed back up to my office with my head filled with flavors and stomach as happy and full as could be. The fresh ingredients really had the opportunity to sing on the plates that left the kitchen. Despite the use of ingredients like crème fraíche and butter throughout the meal I was light on my toes, and ready to head down to yoga after work. Which after a big lunch, I am just looking for an excuse to leave my gym bag at the office and head out of the office off to the next meal, no stop at the gym, but here I was energized and ready to go. Although, I did have to ask for a to-go box for the pastries that followed the meal (yes, there was more!), because I could not just abandon a key lime macaron and chocolate meringue star. I made sure these two final sweets found there way home to my stomach, and they were the perfect bite size pick me ups later that afternoon. Who needs coffee any ways?
This was balance at its finest. Clearly the kitchen cooks with the freshest ingredients they can get. Despite my original disappointment when I was handed the menu and the items that I chose for my meal were not there as show on the NYC restaurant week website. I could not have been happier with the food or experience. Between the healthy and not so much ingredients, the creamy and acidic flavor, the whole nine yards. It was just dam good and I cannot wait to eat there again. As the ingredients and cooking techniques evolve with the seasons I am excited to see where the chefs here take it.
The SAG awards brought out some of the best actors in television and movies. And despite the gloomy weather, the fashion was glamorous. I noticed a few trends on the red carpet at the SAG awards this year.
Bridal wear was all over the red carpet. Stars like Kerry Washington, donning a Rodarte gown, and Sophia Vergara, in Donna Karan, looked chic in white. As did Naomi Watts in a stunning Marchesa beaded gown. Naomi Watts was one of the best dressed on the red carpet, in my opinion. Her gown was elegant and fit like a glove, the intricate beading was stunning, and her hair and make up were flawless.
Another look that flooded the red carpet last night was navy gowns. Les Mis actress Amanda Seyfried looked incredible in a navy Zac Posen gowen. The Strapless dress hugged all her curves and the exaggerated mermaid silhouette made heads turn. Another Hollywood starlet who rocked navy last night was Jennifer Lawrence. Jennifer Lawrence’s Christian Dior strapless gown was exquisite. The layered gown was a new take on a classic silhouette. Jennifer Lawrence brought home her first SAG award last night for her role in the Silver Lining’s Playbook and looked alluring and graceful doing it.
Florals were everywhere last night. Floral prints are definitely a trend to watch out for this Spring 2013 season, and the stars knew it. Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Ariel Winter all sported floral frocks. However, Julianne Moore’s Chanel Couture dress did not work on her. The white, low cut V-neck gown, with black contrasting floral appliques looked terrible on the actress. The top half did not fit and made her appear “saggy.” Also, the dress was too tight around her legs and she could barely walk up to the stage to accept her Actor. Overall, Julianne Moore was my pick for worst dressed of the night.
These were just a few of the trends that were headlining at the 2013 SAG awards. So many other amazing fashions were on display last night. Other trends I noticed were glittery dresses, contrasting black and whites, and thin waist belts. Before I finish this article I must point out one of my most favorite looks at the 2013 SAG awards. January Jones definitely wore the most bold gown of the night and her slicked back hair and bright red lipstick made her look like a rock star. The black and white Prabal Gurung gown had a unique neckline and the Mad Men star looked fierce. I would also like to point out my two best dressed men of the night. Ben Affleck looked insanely handsome in Gucci and Justin Timberlake’s Tom Ford suit and tie were perfect for the singer.
Finally, my best dressed of the night. Jessica Chastain looked absolutely regal in her red satin strapless Alexander McQueen gown. The dress fit her immaculately and the color looked brilliant against her flawless pale skin tone. Her loose wavy hair and toned down make up were impeccable. Jessica Chastain stood out last night at the 2013 SAG awards yet still wearing a classic silhouette and color.
Legit: Thursdays at 10:30 Eastern on FX
Over the last few years, one of FX’s strongest suits has been the lowbrow comedy about flawed people, whether it be the remorseless gang of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the maladjusted spies at ISIS in Archer, or the failed lawyer who gets high with a dog in Wilfred. Their new series Legit is a perfect fit in this mold.
Legit follows Jim Jefferies (in his stand-up persona), a stand-up comedian who is known for immaturity and for generally being an all around jerk as he tries to become more “legit” in the eyes of his mother. He is aided in his task by his best friend Steve (Dan Bakkedahl –the name may be unfamiliar, but he has had guest runs on shows ranging from Community to Veep to 30 Rock) whom has a considerably straighter moral compass than Jim and recommends that Jim do good things for people as a way to become “legit”.
When Jeffries’ gets a call from Steve’s younger brother Billy (who has muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair), the show’s plot wheels begin to turn in motion. Billy’s major concern in life at the start of the show is that he has yet to have sex and begs Jeff to take him to a hooker. This leads to a debauchery laden road trip that sets the overall tone for the series (and leads to the events of the next episode).
The second episode, “Dreams” picks up where the first one left off, with Jim and Steve off to break Billy out of his rest home but being saddled with his roommate, a developmentally disabled dwarf named Rodney (who drives a hard bargain and is really good at Wii Bowling) for a night of hard partying that leads to, Billy’s eviction and the return of Steve’s overbearing mother (and the clear fore-runner for Jim’s sitcom nemesis) Janice (played by Mindy Sterling) who insists on being the caretaker for Billy now that he can no longer be in the rest home.
The show as a whole is fearlessly raunchy, with two large benders in the first two episodes (in the form of the road trip in the pilot and a party off-screen in episode two), and features a very take-no-prisoners approach to its’ humor (if you’re not comfortable about a man in a wheelchair tripping out and being surprised at the notion that “he can’t feel his legs” this show is not going to be for you and you probably should disregard this review).
Where this show truly succeeds is in those heartwarming moments where Jim suddenly becomes a little less self-centered, be it when he hands a homeless man a five for listening to him ramble on about how dreams and goals make him miserable, trying to talk Billy out of killing himself after being forced to move in with his mother, or his genuine joy when Rodney gets a perfect game on Wii Bowling (even if the latter occurred while Steve was bugging out about returning Billy and Rodney to the rest home).
The Final Verdict: Legit clicks with me. It’s honest, it’s funny, it’s a little dark at times, but it fits perfectly into FX’s 10:00 PM Thursday comedy hour that has been home to some of the funniest comedy on television (and Unsupervised) over the past three years. It’s particularly strong at reaching both the most cringe-worthy of lows, and yet still succeeds in creating heartwarming moments. This will likely be part of my regular viewing (it’s lead in Archer has been for me since day one) and I look forward to how this twisted redemption tale plays out.