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Right now is a tough time to be a political junkie. You can’t just flip on CSPAN for your fix of bickering congressmen and long senate hearings. Thanks to the government shutdown, all the bickering is now taking place far away from the halls of power.
We feel your pain, and so we’ve compiled this list of TV shows for you to binge watch while you wait for the government to come back in session. Aside from HBO’s Veep, all of these shows can be found easily on Netflix streaming.
Despite the fact most of these shows are highly unrealistic and overly dramatic, you can take comfort that the governments presented still somehow manage to be more functional than our actual government at the moment.
The West WingThe ultimate drama for the political junkie, this Aaron Sorkin classic imagined Martin Sheen as the fictional (and eloquent) President Bartlett. Taking viewers inside the White House and behind the halls of power, it featured razor-sharp writing and fantastic performances.
House of CardsThe Netflix original series features Kevin Spacey as a highly corrupt senator on a mission to make his political rivals pay. While at times the show strained credulity, its over-the-top political maneuvering makes it a must watch for anyone looking to feel a little bit better about our government in comparison.
VeepJulia Louis-Dreyfus just won the Emmy for a reason, and here she plays a hilarious Vice President who is barely able to get out of her own way. Things in Washington right now are grim, so it might be time to flip on an episode of Veep and watch Selina Myers walk through a glass door.
Parks and RecreationIf you want your politics less cynical and more sunny side up, then look no further than the great Leslie Knope on NBC’s Parks and Recreations. The politics might be small town, but the laughs are always big.
Political AnimalsWhat would life be like if Hillary Clinton made a run for office? This is what the miniseries Political Animals asks, as Sigourney Weaver plays a pretty obvious Hillary stand-in. The series is more soapy than serious political potboiler, but it features a strong turn by Weaver as the former first lady dreaming of one day becoming the Commander in Chief.
ScandalIf soap is what you want, why not go all out with Shonda Rhimes' soapy, over-the-top drama about a political fixer. Olivia Pope and her team are the ultimate PR dream team, except for the fact that Pope is totally having an affair with the President. With a title like Scandal, you know what you’re getting yourself into, yet the fast-moving drama is also fantastically addictive.
Until D.C. and the national parks reopen, why not cuddle up with these political TV shows instead? The government might be closed but the drama, backstabbing, and scandal you’re jonesing for is always open in these television classics.
What do you think? What are some of your favorite political shows? Sound off in the comments!
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The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards ceremony gave us a great deal to celebrate. We saw the HBO dramedy Girls and its star and creator Lena Dunham earn due recognition for everything they've accomplished since the show's series premiere. We watched the marvelous Adele graciously accept a sparkling statue for her shoe-in titular musical number in this year's James Bond exploit Skyfall. And of course, we reveled in the honor bestowed unto the great Jessica Chastain for her work in the all-important Zero Dark Thirty. But among these wonderful triumphs, there too existed some colossal failures — agonizing face-palm moments, cringe-worthy faux pas, good old fashioned screw-ups that made the show that much more painful (or, if you're in the variety who just loves a good awkward moment, enjoyable) to watch.
As any awards show is wont to do, this year's Golden Globes exhibited a wide range of faux pas, erring with gawdy acceptance speeches, misplaced jokes, and a few technical glitches. Here's a quick rundown of the five biggest eye-rollers to catch our attention at this year's ceremony...
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Anne Hathaway's Second Speech
We weren't all too crazy about Les Miserables Supporting Actress Anne Hathaway's first go at an acceptance speech (that wasn't even the appropriate use of "blerg," Selina). But when she rushed the mic after the film's victory of the Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical during what was supposed to be producer Tim Fellner's big moment, even those set staunchly in the Hathaway camp had to hang their heads in shame.
Quentin Tarantino's Fist Bump
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler opened the show with one of the greatest introductory routines we've seen in years, kicking off the speech with a jab at their fellow "rat-faced" television people who will forever live in the shadow of "beautiful" film folk. An odd choice, then, for those operating the camera to cut to none other than Quentin Tarantino, midway through a fist bump with an off screen party. Was he really celebrating his designation as a beautiful film type? Or could the identity of his fellow fist bumper explain it as simply an act of self-deprecating comedy?
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Catherine Zeta-Jones' Les Mis 2 Audition
When Amy Poehler gave us her own tight-lipped rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" during the show's introduction, it was funny (and Mandy Patinkin approved! Maybe he's just used to hanging out with people who barely open their mouths). But when Catherine Zeta-Jones tried to steal the show with a few bars from "Do You Hear the People Sing?" it was just a bit uncomfortable. We hear you, Catherine. Take it down a notch.
Dustin Hoffman's Unknown Movie
The awards circuit is no stranger to the shameless plug. When handled with self-aware humor, the ordeal can work just fine: Oscar hosts Billy Crystal and Steve Martin have pulled off the antic with aplomb. But when Dustin Hoffman, introducing the nominees for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, attempted to throw in a joke about his latest film and directorial debut Quartet, it didn't quite land. Largely because no one has even heard of that movie.
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Paul Rudd's "Hello!"
Okay, we have to admit. This one was kind of adorable. But you're lucky, Globes, that you had the likes of the incurably affable Paul Rudd on stage during a malfunction of this caliber. Following a so-bad-it-was-kinda-funny joke by the man himself, the ceremony's teleprompter seemed to give out, leaving Rudd and co-presenter Salma Hayek without a script to introduce the nominees for Best TV Series – Drama. Rudd's spur-of-the-moment ad lib: "...Hello!"
[Photo Credit: NBC (5)]
Making an earnest cinematic argument for the immortality of the soul and the existence of an afterlife without delving into mushy sentimentality is a difficult task for even the most gifted and “serious” of filmmakers. Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson discovered as much last year when his sappy grandiose adaptation of the ethereal bestseller The Lovely Bones opened to scathing reviews. Critics by and large tend to bristle at movie renderings of what may or may not await them in that Great Arthouse in the Sky.
And yet filmmakers seem determined to keep trying. The latest to make the attempt is Clint Eastwood who throughout his celebrated directorial career has certainly demonstrated a firm grasp of the death part of the equation. His filmography with a few notable exceptions practically revels in it: of his recent oeuvre Invictus is the only work that doesn’t deal with mortality in some significant manner. With his new film Hereafter Eastwood hopes to add immortality to his thematic resume.
The film's narrative centers on three characters each of whom has intimate experience with death and loss. Their stories in true Eastwood fashion can ostensibly be labeled Sad Sadder and Saddest: Marie (Cecile de France) is a French TV news anchor who’s haunted by disturbing flashbacks after she loses consciousness — and briefly her life — during a natural disaster; George (Matt Damon looking credibly schlubby) is a former psychic whose skills as a medium are so potent (the slightest touch from another human being triggers an instant powerful psychic connection a la Rogue from X-Men) they’ve left him isolated and alone; Marcus is a London schoolboy who retreats into a somber shell after losing his twin brother in a tragic car accident (both brothers are played rather impressibly by real-life twins Frankie and George McLaren).
Humanity offers little help to these troubled souls surrounding them with skeptics charlatans users and deadbeats none of whom are particularly helpful with crises of an existential nature. Luckily there are otherworldly options. Peter Morgan's script assumes psychics out-of-body experiences and other such phenomena to be real and legitimate but in a non-denominational Coast-to-Coast AM kind of way. Unlike Jackson’s syrupy CGI-drenched glimpses of the afterlife Eastwood’s visions of the Other Side are vague and eery — dark fuzzy silhouettes of the departed set against a white background. Only Damon’s character George seems capable of drawing meaning from them which is why he’s constantly sought out by grief-stricken folks desperate to make contact with loved ones who’ve recently passed on. He’s John Edward only real (and not a douche).
Marie and Marcus appear destined to find him as well but only as the last stop on wearisome circuitous and often heartbreaking spiritual journeys that together with George’s hapless pursuit of a more temporal connection (psychic ability it turns out can be a wicked cock-blocker) consume the bulk of Hereafter’s running time. We know the three characters’ paths must inevitably intersect but Morgan’s script stubbornly forestalls this eventuality testing our patience for nearly two ponderous and maudlin hours and ultimately building up expectations for a climax Eastwood can’t deliver at least not without sacrificing any hope of credulity.
It should be noted that Hereafter features a handful of genuinely touching moments thanks in great part to the film's tremendous cast. And its finale is refreshingly upbeat. Unfortunately it also feels forced and terribly unsatisfying. Eastwood an established master of all things tragic and forlorn struggles mightily to mount a happy ending. (Which in my opinion is much more challenging than a sad or ambiguous one.) After prompting us to seriously ponder life’s ultimate question Eastwood’s final answer seems to be: Don’t worry about it.