“The Ruined Garden” by Charles Baudelaire

My childhood was only a menacing shower,
cut now and then by hours of brilliant heat.
All the top soil was killed by rain and sleet,
my garden hardly bore a standing flower.

From now on, my mind’s autumn! I must take
the field and dress my bed with spade and rake
and restore order to my flooded grounds.
There the rain raised mountains like burial mounds.

(Translation of “L’Ennemi” by Robert Lowell)


Westworld Recap: 1×03 “The Stray”

Previously on Westworld: Goofus and Gallant showed up to the park to make mischief; Bernard told Dolores she’d changed; Dolores dug up a gun; some dude murdered a bunch of people with milk and it was totally freaky; Daddy: Original Flavor got retired, and Elsie worried that it was contagious; Bernard thought it might be sabotage; Maeve woke up during surgery and saw a dead Teddy in a giant tank full of temporarily dead androids.

Cue the credits, which are super long—a thing I normally approve of, being nostalgic for the days of almost-full-length theme songs (remember “Searchin’ My Soul”? “California”? That song about God being one of us from the late great Joan of Arcadia?) but Westworld doesn’t show the actors in the credits, or actual clips from the show, so it’s more artsy and less tugging at the fannish heartstrings than other long theme songs which I have loved in my youth.

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In Seven Seasons, Gilmore Girls Never Said the Word “Abortion”

When Gilmore Girls came out in 2000, young women were in desperate need of positive female role models. In an era when society designated the explicitly post-feminist Ally McBeal as the show that best articulated the internal conflicts of women (it didn’t), Lorelai and Rory Gilmore were godsends. Intelligent, funny, quick-witted, independent, well-read, and wholly original, they fulfilled a hunger for well-rounded female characters who had their own dreams, goals, and opinions separate from the men in their lives.

The groundbreaking nature of the main characters and the focus on female relationships made one uncomfortable fact much easier to miss: Gilmore Girls is not particularly feminist. It might be considered feminist for the time period, when stacked against actively misogynistic shows like Ally, but on the whole, it doesn’t even achieve the “flawed but as feminist as we could expect for the time” status, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It had a disquieting penchant for gay panic, slut-shaming, and casual racism (which I will explore in depth in another post), and when it wasn’t being politically incorrect, it was often pointedly apolitical. Case in point: Gilmore Girls is a show about teen motherhood that literally never utters the word “abortion.” Continue reading →

Links We Loved This Week — 10/21/16

Braindead was officially cancelled this week, according to TVLine. It’s probably for the best since it was hard to imagine the storyline extending into another season, but we’ll miss seeing Johnny Rae Gill and Aaron Tveit every week next summer.

The Baffler wrote a thoughtful analysis of the state of realism in contemporary literature:

Nor do critics worry that the “social issues” presented in our novels rarely attain the complexity of cable television. Or that a novel genuinely concerned with social life (or even the social role of a single person) could itself, against this backdrop, be idiosyncratic. It’s sad, in other words, that the novels of Jonathan Franzen register to most as sociopolitical literature. Freedom isn’t a social novel on the level of Wharton. It’s a decelerated twenty-four-hour news channel.

The first Nashville season five teaser has been released!

People aren’t loving Ewan MacGregor’s directorial debut American Pastoral, which is sad because the book was great. The NYT mildly disliked it, and Rolling Stone haaaated it (and it’s always fun to read a pan).

The New Yorker says Westworld caters disproportionately to stereotypically male fantasies in the excellent piece “The Meta-Politics of Westworld.”

Joss Whedon says he’s a Spuffy shipper, because Spike is a “more evolved” character than Angel. We only agree with the latter statement.

This week, The Good Wife‘s Josh Charles got in costume as a lawyer one more time for an excellent cause:

Not to get TOO political, but you should also check out this collection of the best #TrumpBookReport tweets.


Westworld Recap: 1×02 “Chestnut”

Previously on Westworld: A lot of things, but just to run down the cast of characters: Dolores and Teddy are androids living in a park that caters to rich visitors who fantasize about the Wild West; the Man in Black, or “Ed” as we’ll be calling him, totally scalped a dude to find out the deeper levels of the game; Bernard is a mild-mannered scientist who works on the androids under the direction of fierce corporate exec Theresa and the scientist who apparently started it all, Ford. Also, Dolores’s dad has just been seamlessly replaced by a new android after the last one started to question the nature of his reality, and Dolores just slapped a fly, which she’s not supposed to be able to do.

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Links We Loved This Week — 10/15/16

Keith & the Movies gives a rave review to one of our favorite movies from this year, Jane Austen adaptation Love & Friendship.

“I can’t imagine anything a black man would want to be more right now than bulletproof,” says Mike Colter in an article on the Huffington Post, “Marvel’s Luke Cage is the Bulletproof Black Superhero We Need Right Now.

Aaron Bady of The LA Review of Books calls HBO’s Westworld “the most consciously reflexive TV show I’ve ever seen.”

The New Yorker argues that the so-called “first conservative art show in America” inspired by Donald Trump is quite terrible from an artistic perspective, which, sure.

You know you want to read an epic fanwank from 2009 about the theory of management (supposedly) underlying The Office.

At the LA Review of Books, Aaron Hanlon passionately argues against the tired notion that humanities Ph. D.s are irrational for pursuing their degrees at all.

Why aren’t you watching Casual?

Maybe you don’t have a Hulu account. I would allow that, but really, Hulu has enough network shows that you should dump your cable TV subscription and replace it with $7.99 a month at Hulu. No, I wasn’t paid to say that [although if someone at Hulu does want to pay me to shill for them, you can reach me on Twitter @adversioned].

If you do have a Hulu account though, no excuses. You should be watching Casual.

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