I realize there's something inherently wrong about saying the best thing about HBO's Girls — a groundbreaking show that's blazing the trail for female characters, as well as writers and show runners on television — is a boy. And that's not to say that Golden Globe winner Lena Dunham isn't deserving of her praise (deal with it, haters) or that I couldn't watch an entire series about Shoshanna (because oh em effing gee, that would be amaze), but returning guest actor Andrew Rannells has been the best thing about Season 2 so far. Sorry girls, but the guy is stealing the show right now.
Rannells made his mark on Girls back in Season 1 as Elijah Krantz, Hannah's gay ex-boyfriend who had some of the most memorable moments (slapping Marnie, for one) and the most stinging zingers. ("It was nice to see you. Your dad is gay!") In Season 2, Rannells is still the comedy's comic relief, not to mention the only actually likable male in the whole bunch. Adam veered from cautiously charming to full-fledged crazy person during last night's episode, Jessa's shotgun hubby Thomas John (fellow guest star Chris O'Dowd) is the very picture of insufferable Wall Street type, and you'd like to think the softness of Shoshanna would balance him out, but Ray is still a pompous jerk.
But it's not just the endlessly entertaining character of Elijah, with his terrific theme night ideas, his backhanded compliments (he told Hannah his morning boner was not for her, called his "three pump" one night stand Marnie that she looked like a "slutty Von Trapp child") or his impeccably coifed hair that makes him worth watching. It's so much of Rannells, the multi-talented 34-year-old actor who had audiences singing, dancing, and totally losing their s**t in the aisles when he originated the role of Elder Kevin Price in the Broadway smash musical The Book of Mormon. Rannells deservedly earned a Tony nomination for his gut-busting, show-stopping, and emotionally honest turn.
While his talents certainly aren't exactly being squandered on the hit-and-miss NBC sitcom The New Normal (he's the best thing about it), Dunham (whom he has unbelievable chemistry with) and Girls are taking full advantage of having him there. Sure, Elijah is cartoonish, but for a show that roots itself in such a grim reality, he's a much-needed shot of hilariously bitchy adrenaline. But even as the gay best friend, Rannells still makes Elijah a three-dimensional person. He's just as lost as Hannah, even though he'd never admit it (he depended on his ex-boyfriend George for all of his finances and he may or may not be a German bisexual), but he's actually fun to be around. Think about it, out of anyone in the entire Girls universe, is there anyone you'd want to hang out with or throw a party with more than Elijah?
Whenever I watch Rannells weave his magic on Girls (and by magic I mean turning a line like "Are you having a stroke?!" into comedy gold) I always think about his big solo in Book of Mormon, the epiphany number "I Believe." Sure, we're laughing at his blind faith and ambition, but he also makes you admire and respect him for it. Rannells always made us root for him and hope things turned out for the best for him and everyone around him. He brings that very same charisma and energy to Girls. All hail.
[Photo credit: HBO]
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I’m headed to the set of Glee and The New Normal today, (Tweet me your questions: @LeanneAguilera) so I’m keeping this intro short and sweet. The week’s edition of Leanne’s Spoiler List is filled with five fantastic shows! I chatted with the lovely Megan Hilty of Smash to find out what’s next for Ivy’s love life, and gathered scoop on what’s coming up for Hannah and the gang on Girls. I also hit up the FOX all-star party to find out what’s happening for the Raising Hope wedding bells and watched future episodes of Shameless and American Horror Story: Asylum to snag some crazy spoilers. Read on for all the TV fun below!
1. Girls: Cocaine-Induced Craziness
Oh em effing gee this season of Girls is amaze. I’ve only seen then first four episodes (subtle brag intended) and I’m already counting down the days til Lena Dunham wins her next Golden Globe. This Sunday’s episode, “I Get Ideas,” is truly fantastic. It has everything you could ever need: puppies, attempted restraining orders, high-waisted shorts and the return of Missy Elliot in the world of pop culture. Donald Glover is back as Hannah’s kinda, sorta, but oh-so hot boyfriend and spoiler alert: He’s a Republican. This of course is not a quality that Elijah deems admirable, but he really doesn’t get any say in this considering he had sex with Marnie for like “two and a half pumps.” And yes, that hilarious matter will be addressed soonish. But as great as the second episode is, the third (“Bad Friend”) is quite possibly the best thirty minutes of my entire life. And I’ve lived 23 phenomenal years so far.
If you thought Shoshanna on crack was incredible, just wait until you see Hannah and Elijah’s wild cocaine-induced adventure. Warning: You will see Hannah’s lady buttons, out and proud for the majority of the episode. And it’s both distracting and entertaining. Our leading lady is looking for some writing inspiration, so she does what any early-to-mid-twenties NYC girl would do: She asks her junkie neighbor if he could hook her up with some illegal drugs. (Writer's Note: I don’t actually live in New York so I have no idea if that last statement is entirely true. Editor's Note: Totally true.) The result is a laugh-out-loud, call your best friend and tell her you love her experience that only Girls could create.
2. American Horror Story: Asylum: Time Jumps Galore!
“What the eff was that?” Those were the exact words I though to myself after I finished this week’s all-new episode of American Horror Story: Asylum. We all know that this season has been absolutely one hundred percent batshit rocking back-and-forth in a corner crazy, and tonight’s episode, “Continuum,” is just as bizarre as the rest of them. The episode is divided into four chapters through a series of fast-paced time jumps: The Kit-centric storyline is set in 1967, Jude’s (or should I say Betty Drake’s) tale takes place in 1968, and Lana’s story in 1969. The final segment is a quick capper that fast-forwards the fans to an unknown year, starring Johnny Morgan (Dylan McDermott) completely scaring the crap out of an old woman.
While all four storylines are intriguing in their own psychotic way, Kit’s journey in “Continuum” is definitely the most horrific. Last week we saw that Alma is actually alive after Kit had already proposed to Grace. Ruh Roh! So, what’s a fella to do when he loves two women and has a child with each of them? Answer: Become one big dysfunctional family living under the same roof. Plus, attention ladies: Kit spends a few key scenes in his tighty-whities! True he’s splattered with blood while he’s wearing them, but come on — we’ve seen way worse on this series. Overall, Kit’s progression throughout the episode is heart breaking, and we’re starting to get the sense that Ryan Murphy does not want to end this season on a happy note. Sigh.
3. Shameless: The Baby Whisperer
Shameless is back, and I’m going to be totally honest when I say it’s better than ever. Last week we saw that after 137 days, Frank returned to his family and was welcomed with a less than enthusiactic reponse. Well, except for Debbie. This week we see that Debbie is still over the moon to have her dysfunctional dad back in her life, but of course, leave it to Frank to break a young girl’s heart in just a few short hours. The result is one of the most hilarious and satisfying scenes we’ve ever seen on Shameless. When I caught up with William H. Macy last week, he revealed that doing that scene was a challenge. “Emma, who plays Debbie, was pretty timid at first, but once she got going she really rattled my brain. I always take quite a beating on this show.”
Also in “The American Dream,” fans will see that Sheila and Jody are doing their best to quiet down the worlds most obnoxious baby. I love this show more than most of my shoes, but I swear if they don’t find a cure for this baby’s crying, then I seriously just might have to watch it on mute. Luckily it looks like Frank is also known as the baby whisperer and he’s able to quiet the little tyke down. I’m not sure if Frank's methods are considered legal, but at least the demon baby stops crying right?
4. Raising Hope: A Modern Wedding
Confession: I’ve recently rediscovered how much I love this show. Back when I was just a little baby journalist, (Ahem, that would be a year ago) my very first interviews were with the stars of Raising Hope. Luckily the cast was sweet and did not make me cry, so I continued on with my career choice. I was on set for last year’s Valentine’s Day episode, when Sabrina finally realized that she had feelings for Jimmy. It was oh-so adorable, and now the two crazy kids are getting married! Even though I wasn’t invited to the wedding, (Um, rude.) Shannon Woodward recently told me that it’s going to be an fantastic, spoof-filled episode. “Melanie Griffith’s character, who plays Sabrina’s mother, she decides not to come to the wedding… So instead of coming to the wedding she hires the film crew from Modern Family to document Jimmy and Sabrina’s wedding.” The actress continues, “Which is basically an amazing way of saying that this episode is exactly like Modern Family — we talk to the cameras, and for one episode it’s like a completely different show.” That. Sounds. Amazing.
Obviously this is going to be the TV wedding to watch this season, (airing Jan. 29 bee tee dubs) but according to Woodward the Natesville nuptials are not going to be the main focus of the episode. “It was really fun, but there is a huge surprise that I’m not allowed to say… but I can say that it is so big that the wedding is almost the B story. You will never guess it. There’s no way you’ll guess it, but it’s worth watching.” I pried and pleaded and even complemented her cute shoes, but she would not divulge the big secret. Grrr. However, she did tell me that there are plenty of other hilarious episodes coming up before and after the wedding. First up are the bachelor and bachelorette parties in an episode called "What Happens at Howdy's Doesn't Stay at Howdy's." Woodward explains, “Something crazy does happen, and it may involve Jimmy marrying a man by accident.” There is also a honeymoon two-parter in which Jimmy and Sabrina visit Los Angeles, end up on the set of a children’s TV show, and somehow involve monkeys. Sounds like a normal vaycay to me!
5. Twitter Question: @markisawimp: Saw 1st hour of Smash s2 & LOVED it, esp the opening Marilyn no. & Jimmy's song! Any good ep2 scoop?!
Why hello there fellow Smash lover! I’m so glad that you enjoyed the first hour of our beloved musical theater drama, and for those who are yet to witness the amazingness you can watch it here. But please don’t even get me started on Jimmy’s song, I swoon, pass out and then bump my head each and every time I watch it (So far I’m up to 9 concussions but it’s so good that I just can’t stop!). Funny you should ask about scoop, because I have tons from when I stalked chatted with the Smash stars last week at the NBC TCA Press Tour party. Megan Hilty — the sweetest girl you’ll ever meet — is just as excited as the fans for the new season to start. In the second episode you’ll witness one of the most gorgeous Ivy solos you’ve ever heard, but she steps on Karen’s toes as Marilyn to be able to sing it. Hilty says that Ivy has a difficult journey ahead of her this season. “She’s forced to really look at her life and ultimately realize that she needs to make some changes, both personally and professionally.”
If you’re hoping Ivy’s personal life will include a new fella, you might have a wait a bit. “For right now, she needs to figure things out for herself first before she can be good for anybody else. Maybe she needs a plant or a dog or something.” Another key aspect of Ivy’s past will be coming back this season: her mother. That’s right: Broadway legend Bernadette Peters will reprise her role as Leigh Conroy, the fabulously fierce musical theater star. Hilty explains that their strained mother/daughter relationship is something that will definitely be addressed. “They’re also trying to mend things between them, but its difficult. They’re two very different personalities and very strong women. It’s a little tumultuous but they’re working towards it.” Be on the look out for more Smash scoop from yours truly as we get closer and closer to the premiere.
Are you excited for the season premiere of Smash? What do you think the “huge surprise” is going to be on the Raising Hope wedding? Want to party with Lena Dunham on Girls? Tell me everything in the comments below!
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[Photo Credit: HBO, Showtime, FX, FOX, NBC]
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There was a recent article in the New York Times about "the end of courtship", about how this generation doesn't date — at least not in the traditional sense — anymore. Instead, twenty-somethings wind up in a series of convenient hookups and hangouts where romance is all but dead. The article likely resonated far too closely with some, and horrified others who wondered where it all went wrong.
The same could be said about any episode of Girls, but it rang especially true with the long-awaited Season 2 premiere. Even more interestingly, the episode (titled "It's About Time") was just about that: how the girls of the Girls generation are readjusting to the new rules of courtship and blurred lines of relationships and social conducts, all while trying to come into their own in the Big Apple.
Another big theme of last night's premiere was, well, themes. Hannah (Lena Dunham) and her new roommate/gay ex-boyfriend Elijah (a scene-stealing Andrew Rannells), in the midst of the line-blurring roommate bliss decided that, in addition to the housewarming party they were throwing, they'd start having theme nights. A fondue night, a craft night, a Japanese snack night, a French salon night. All those things you and your roommate say you'll do, but will never actually follow through with. (See, this is how Girls hits it on the head when it comes to peering into the lives of young Brooklynites.) But, in addition to theme of Well-Meaning, But Unrealist Roommate Plans, there were some other notable themes during the episode.
The Hannah Being Hannah Theme: Lena Dunham knows who Hannah is. She knows Hannah will still help out a disabled Adam (Adam Driver) despite the fact that she no longer wants to be with him (or so she says) and that she's now casually dating/sleeping with a charming new fellow named Sandy (guest star Donald Glover). That she'll push the new guy away when he even uses the word "love", but let Adam get away with spouting his typical bulls**t about not needing labels to define his own love for her. And, in true Hannah fashion, when she wasn't wearing ill-fitting clothes, she simply wasn't wearing any at all. Lena Dunham knows what she's doing.
The Disaster Waiting To Happen Theme: All the girls are following that theme, really. There's Hannah and her ultimately doomed courtship with Sandy (you just know she's going to wind up in Adam's manipulative arms) and her ultimately doomed friendship with Elijah (it's bad enough they sleep in the same bed together, but wait until she finds out that after a hilarious karaoke duet of "Building a Mystery", he and Marnie sort of kind of started to have sex.) Elijah and his sugar daddy boyfriend George are as co-dependent and messed up as Marnie is with Charlie (she wound up at his door looking for comfort, despite that fact that he's still with his terrible girlfriend Aubrey), so both of those relationships are doomed in their own ways. Then, there's Jessa (who showed up in true Jessa fashion at the last moment possible) and Thomas John (Chris O'Dowd). How doomed are they? Well, if you don't know where your new husband lives, it's not exactly a good sign. The only disaster that might weather the storm, against all odds, are Shoshanna and Ray. Go figure.
Inevitable Sex and the City Comparison Theme: The recently-fired Marnie's sex-fueled brunch chatter with her very SATC-like mother (played by guest star Rita Wilson), Shoshanna and Ray's very Charlotte and Harry-like courtship, and George's very Lexi Featherston-like anti-new New York rant. It all felt like moments standing in the shadow of SATC, which is unfortunate really, because while the two HBO shows have plenty in common on the surface (centered around four independent women, New York City, sex, catching an amount of s**t for being self-absorbed and unlikable to a degree that Entourage never even scratched the surface of dealing with) Girls will hopefully break free from feeling too much like SATC Jr. That said, an occasional theme night is okay.
The Killer One-Liner Theme:
- "Sorry I have a boner. It's not for you." — Elijah, sleeping next to Hannah. (Kudos to Dunham for letting her small belly hang out in this scene. This is what people actually look like when they sleep.)
- "My keen mathematical mind and fairly fast-growing hair." — Shoshanna, thanking her higher powers for her many gifts.
- "I may be deflowered, but I am not devalued." — Shoshanna — who is "oh em effing gee amaze" — hear her roar.
- "So, Hannah says Greenpoint and I'm like, 'Where the f**k is that'?" — Elijah, talking about his new neighborhood.
- "I f**king hate grown-ups." — Hannah, saying what we all think.
- "When you love someone, you dont have to be nice all the time." — Adam, on relationships. (True, but you do have to be nice sometimes, Adam.)
- "A panda next to a gun next to a wrapped gift, it makes no sense!" — Ray, on emojis.
- "Bisexuals and Germans...I happen to be both." — Elijah, on the only groups of people still acceptable to make fun of.
Aside from Marnie's chat with her unpleasant mother, this episode hit everything square on the head. From Adam's conveniently lax confessions of love ("You're my main hang") and Hannah promptly shooting them down to Shoshanna becoming the show's unexpected voice of reason, if these are the themes Season 2 will be exploring, Girls makes enduring your twenties worth all the heartache, humiliation, and hassle.
[Photo credit: HBO]
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