Category Archives: Television

Emmy Nominations 2017

Well, what a year it’s been in television. From Bette and Joan to Lily and Jane, all the faces are here. Joining me to discuss those faces are Stephanie Coffey and Ben Ladouceur

Drama Series

This Is Us

The Crown

The Americans

Stranger Things

The Handmaid’s Tale

House of Cards

Westworld

Better Call Saul

BL: I feel like Handmaid’s Tale will take it because it’s so relevant socially. It’s like, the show of our times.

T: I know it’s been said many times before, but it truly feels like we’re just a few steps away from the world that The Handmaid’s Tale flashes back to, so it gives us a glimpse into a future that feels entirely possible right now. A sci-fi dystopia this ain’t. Aside from the excellent timing of the show, it’s brilliantly written, acted and shot television – a sure winner for any year. The Crown is also brilliant, but much more traditional, I suppose. I say Handmaid’s Tale or The Crown takes it.

SC: I would just like to say I watched one episode of This Is Us and it was really bad.

T: You know what? I watched the first couple, and I would happily have got together with you and watched it and eaten pizza and cried over the cheesy nonsense storylines. But alas it just doesn’t fit into my life.

SC: We would only watch it for Fat Mandy and her weight loss problems but okay, maybe you are right. I will go with The Handmaid’s Tale.

T: I feel like we should have watched The Americans but honestly it just doesn’t interest me. Good for it though, I hear it’s good. Fun to see Strangers Things here, I guess.

SC: I feel like Stranger Things was just like Steven Spielberg porn. It was just like “here is the 80s! Remember?!”

T: Westworld is a big bag of no.

S: The robots were cool. The story blew.

T: Wait there were robots? I thought it was cowboys or some shit?

SC: Thomas the robots were cowboys…or were the cowboys robots?!

T: MIND. BLOWN.

westworld

Actor in a Drama Series

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Sterling K. Brown, This Is Us

Matthew Rhys, The Americans

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Anthony Hopkins, Westworld

Liev Schrieber, Ray Donovan

Milo Ventimiglia, This Is Us

T: Don’t care. Give it to Sterling K. Brown, he was great in OJ. Milo is hot. Team Jess! (shoutout to my Gilmore Girls fans wooo!).

SC: You and everyone else who has a Netflix account will enjoy that shout out. You are all lemmings!

T: How?!

SC: Netflix totally told you to watch Gilmore Girls. It told everyone.

T: I’m so glad it did. Best show ever. Okay look we’re getting sidetracked because we don’t care about this category. Who do you want to win?

SC: I glanced through and I decided Bob Odenkirk. I watched the first season of Better Call Saul. I liked it. I liked that weird show he did with David…?

T: Cross.

SC: Yes, Tobias. Give it to him.

T: Yeah I like Bob, he’s good, I can handle him winning.

better-call-saul

Actress in a Drama Series

Claire Foy, The Crown

Elisabeth Moss, The Handmaid’s Tale

Robin Wright, House of Cards

Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder

Keri Russell, The Americans

Evan Rachel Wood, Westworld

T: Gotta be Lizzie. Although Claire Foy would be great, but she hasn’t won anything at the Globes or the BAFTAs so I doubt it.

B: I hope you’re right about Lizzie.

SC: Yes it has to be Elisabeth. Like I stated above she’s the backbone of everything she is in and she kept getting snubbed and it’s not okay. Give her one right now. She’s very good. And did you know that she chose the colour of red that robes were going to be? Talent!

T: What a fun fact! I didn’t know that. Go her! Here’s another fun fact: all her shows win Best Drama! Picket Fences, West Wing, Mad Men. All winners. This bodes well.

S: She is the four leaf clover of Emmy dramas. Now give her one for herself please. She shouldn’t have to share.  

BL: What’s… what’s Picket Fences?

T: Picket Fences was a CBS drama about a small town that ran from 1992-1996, starring Tom Skerritt and Kathy Baker. There’s nothing else to say.

elisabeth-moss

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

John Lithgow, The Crown

Jeffrey Wright, Westworld

Jonathan Banks, Better Call Saul

Michael Kelly, House of Cards

Ron Cephas Jones, This Is Us

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland

David Harbour, Stranger Things

T: I love John Lithgow, he was great in The Crown. You go for it. I’ve loved him since 3rd Rock from the Sun.

BL: Yes. Even though I feel like 90% of his work in this show is just having big old man jowls. But that’s how it should be.

S: Okay yes I’m fine with him winning this. I don’t care about this category much besides him. I want to see that movie he made, Love Is Strange. Looks good. Have you seen it?

T: You know what? I tried. It’s a rich white people problems drama that’s pretty unengaging. Or else I wasn’t in the mood. I dunno. I was underwhelmed.

S: Oh darn. I was hoping it would be a tearjerker. Well I’m sure something else will come out where he’ll be someone’s dad.

the-crown-john-lithgow

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Millie Bobby Brown, Stranger Things

Chrissy Metz, This Is Us

Thandie Newton, Westworld

Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black

Ann Dowd, The Handmaid’s Tale

Samira Wiley, The Handmaid’s Tale

B: Where’s Winona Rider for Stranger Things? Specifically, the nomination should read “Winona Rider’s face and tear ducts, Stranger Things.”

T: Everyone thought Winona would get nominated. But she was. So. Bad. So bad. But like…in a really compelling way. OMG maybe she was doing terrible 80s movie Mum acting? Maybe her whole performance was genius?

BL: I think that was it. The whole show is so campy, so I feel like she decided to lean into the camp, or else the directors knew that that was what she’d do and just let her go for it.

S: Poor Winona. She’s always been so pretty but could she ever really act? She just kind of chews her cheeks and speaks monotone. She’s got a great agent though.

T: Uzo Aduba, stop being nominated please. There are better people in the cast.

S: Yeah I don’t understand that. Don’t get me wrong. Don’t send us hate mail (if anyone actually reads this), I love me some Uzo Aduba but can’t we just throw some other amazing actresses on OITNB a nod. Suggestions: Laverne Cox. Or Samira Wiley – double nomination! Or Danielle Brooks!

T: Ahem, Laverne is up for guest actress.

S: Why?! She’s on the show!

T: Nah man. She’s barely there anymore. She’s off making shitty procedurals with Katherine Heigl. Also, fun fact, if you appear in less than 50% of the eps in a season, you can go in as Guest. Extra Emmy nom, win.

samira

Comedy Series

Veep

Master of None

Black-ish

Silicon Valley

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Atlanta

Modern Family

S: Ooh this category is fun. Finally some room to debate! I’m between Atlanta and Master of None. Kimmy can have it next year.  

T: I can’t forgive Master of None for that godawful Manic Pixie Pasta Girl bullshit they pulled. Angela Bassett episode aside, I found that it kinda ruined the season.

S: I know I know. Pasta Girl was Al Dente. HAHA!

T: That joke…doesn’t even…what…?

S: But the other episodes Thanksgiving, I Love New York I was losing my mind!

BL: Stephanie feels no need to explain the joke. If we don’t get it, it’s our loss.

T: Those episodes were transcendent, I agree. But then he let us all down very badly.

S: Okay if we are going for a solid epic season then I have to give it to my man Donald Glover. I hope he reads this. This show was epic, poignant and also really funny. He’s already got a Globe, give him an Emmy!

T: I’d be fine with him winning an Emmy. I still need to watch this show. Um, can we talk about the lack of a nomination for Transparent? I mean, I get it, it’s not a comedy, but still. Great TV.

S: Oh, true. Yeah that should have always been in the drama. That’s a straight up The Martian faux pas. I am disappointed too now that you mention it. Jill Soloway is everything.

T: But what wins here? Probably Veep again?

BL: I watched the complete latest season of Veep on planes this year because I guess that’s what my life is now. It’s good and will probably win, even though sometimes it does that comic-panel-from-The-New-Yorker thing where it’s not that funny but it somehow communicates to you that if you don’t find the joke uproarious it’s your own fault because you’re not a very sophisticated person.

T: Whereas when Armando was still running the show, it was actually hilarious.

S: I bet you Atlanta. They are winning things. I’m telling you.

veep

Actor in a Comedy Series

Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Aziz Ansari, Master of None

Donald Glover, Atlanta

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

William H. Macy, Shameless

Zach Galifianakis, Baskets

T: Zach Galifianakis can do one. Don’t care about him. Give this to Donald, amirite? Or Jeffrey.

S: Yeah I think Donald for this one. Although it’s always tricky when you are the star of your own show. It’s less acting and more like embodying this version of yourself. When I looked at Aziz and Donald I was like I feel like what they’ve created is amazing as a whole. I know, I know, you don’t like Manic Pasta Dream Girl. However, besides Tambor, this category is light so I am going to go Donald.

T: It really is. Go for it, Donald.

BL: I feel like it will probably just go to Tambor though.

T: …probably.

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Actress in a Comedy Series

Julia Louis-Dreyfus Veep

Tracee Ellis Ross Black-ish

Ellie Kemper Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Allison Janney Mom

Lily Tomlin Grace and Frankie

Pamela Adlon, Better Things

Jane Fonda, Grace and Frankie

T: JANE FUCKING FONDA. She smashed it.

BL: Yes. If my math is right then this nomination is for the second season of Grace and Frankie? In which case it should be Jane Fonda because of her multi-episode binge drinking. She acts drunk super well, and when she makes terrible mistakes, we’re all there, making them with her.

T: It’s not, but what you say still stands. Um, who on Earth is Pamela Adlon and what is this show?

S: I just tried Googling her and I’m less clear. Also funny reading-lol moment. I was just like what is this show Janney Mom. What’s Allison up to?

T: Allison stars in Janney Mom, coming this Fall on NBC. I would watch that show.

S: We’d binge watch the shit out of that. What do you think Allison Janney is doing right now?

T: She’s getting hammered on her wagon of Emmys.

S: Just draped in Emmys.

T: Sounds painful. Umm JLD has won this category for five years running…can anyone unseat her?

S: That’s pretty legit JLD. Remember when she played the blind lady in Arrested Development?

T: Yes, and it was genius. Please can we give this to Lily Tomlin now please?

S: You know I would give anything to Lily if she needed it. It’s hers!

BL: Fine by me.

lilytomlin_graceandfrankie_lionsgate

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Alec Baldwin, Saturday Night Live

Tony Hale, Veep

Louie Anderson, Baskets

Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Matt Walsh, Veep

T: So Alec Baldwin is here. Okay then. For that shitty Trump impression.

S: Really Alec Baldwin shade? I wasn’t expecting that.

T: From me?

S: Do you hate Alec Baldwin?

T: OMG no! I just…hmm…I dunno. Surely there are more people who could have taken this slot?

S: Ah I see. Eh, let him have a nom. Maybe not a win though. It was pretty hysterical.

T: No not a win. We all know this HAS to go to Titus.

BL: Completely. Let him have it.

S: I was just going to say. Let’s get back to the real issue which is how Titus is the funniest person alive. And how he resembles you and also a pug dog.

T: Tina Fey stole my life to write Titus. I’m going to sue her. Or at least demand half of this Emmy.

S: Omg remember when that company stole Titus’ likeness to sell sassy gas products. THAT’S YOU!

T: So meta, Tina.

S: Please insert a photo of you Titus and a Pug below this category. Thank you.

titus

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live

Vanessa Bayer, Saturday Night Live

Leslie Jones, Saturday Night Live

Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Judith Light, Transparent

Kathryn Hahn, Transparent

T: Right so how did THREE SNL ladies get in here? I mean, good for them, but kinda makes for a dull category.

S: I was like yeah sorry cut Vanessa Bayer, maybe? Also. who cares…JUDITH AND KATHRYN.

BL: No, I liked Vanessa Bayer’s weather girl who was too nervous to talk properly. Also I think it’s her last season so this is the last-hurrah nomination.

T: Judith wins for Hand in my Pocket. Kathryn wins for best actress alive. The new Meryl. A tie? Anna Chlumsky go home.

S: New Meryl. So bold. Yeah, I just love Kathryn. She can do literally no wrong, ever. Although that Judith and her Alanis. The judges will never be able to decide. It has to be a tie. And they can lipsync for their lives to see who wins. I’ve been watching too much Drag Race.

T: WHERE’S JANE KRAKOWSKI?

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Best Actor in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Robert De Niro, The Wizard of Lies

Riz Ahmed, The Night Of

John Turturro, The Night Of

Geoffrey Rush, Genius

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Lying Detective

Ewan McGregor Fargo

T: I’m so glad Robert De Niro got a nomination for that Wizard of Oz remake or whatever.

S: I heard it was good. I almost watched it with my sister but then we watched Bad Moms instead which KATHRYN HAHN is in.

T: She’s getting a lot of Oscar buzz for it.

S: That’s a joke right?

T: If I had it my way…anyway, I don’t care about these people, give it to Riz Ahmed because he’s the best.

S: Okay look was The Night Of amazing? No. Is Riz Ahmed the biggest QT babe that I have such a crush on? Yes. So there you have it.

T: Crushing haaaaard. Okay happy Emmys Riz!

riz

Best Actress in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Nicole Kidman, Big Little Lies

Jessica Lange, Feud

Susan Sarandon, Feud

Reese Witherspoon, Big Little Lies

Carrie Coon, Fargo

Felicity Huffman, American Crime

T: Holy Christ. Best category ever.

S: Yeah this is literally your wet dream of a category.

T: Ew, but yes.

S: Ha. Okay I’m sorry everyone was great but NICOLE acted the MOST.

T: You know what……….I completely agree. Nicole wins.

S: If you don’t believe us just watch Nicole’s therapy scene where she displays 700 emotions without saying a word.

T: If anyone was unconvinced of Nicole’s towering genius, this show will change their mind. Abso, 100%. Now then, Felicity Huffman you’re a genius, I love you, but you’re going home empty-handed along with Carrie Coon.

S: Ha. We could have left it at just praising Nicole but you just had to throw shade on Felicity.

T: I was getting them out of the way so I could focus on the big juicy performances by Jessica and Susan as Joan and Bette.

S: Fair. I mean Felicity isn’t going to win, let’s be real. Jessica and particularly Susan had a great year. I love Susan’s Bette. Big shoes too. Impressive.

T: Susan WAS Bette. There were times I had to blink a few times and remember that it wasn’t actually Bette on my screen. It was a mesmerising performance. Although Jessica didn’t become Joan in quite the same way, she absolutely smashed it and gave a towering, heartbreaking performance. If it was Jessica V Susan I think I’d give it to Jessica.

S: It’s almost sad we have so much talent in the same category. I feel like summoning up some pageant tears and declaring “we are all winners!”

T: Nicole should break her trophy and give pieces to everyone else.

S: One piece for Regina George!

feud

Best Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Stanley Tucci, Feud

Alexander Skarsgard, Big Little Lies

Alfred Molina, Feud

David Thewlis, Fargo

Bill Camp, The Night Of

Michael Kenneth Williams, The Night Of

S: I feel bad saying Skarsgard should win because Perry was so creepy and terrible but it was a really good performance.

T: Agreed. It feels weird, but he was incredible. Personally, I’d give this to Alfred Molina.

S: Yeah it’s awks to award spousal abuse so maybe we should give it Alfred Molina. Or how about Stanley Tucci? He’s always sidekicking around.

T: Oh he was great in Feud. Where he screams CUUUUUNT about Bette Davis. So great.

S: Sounds like we’ve made a decision: Stanley Tucci for yelling CUNT at Susan Sarandon…Is that awkward too though? I don’t know, I’m lost in this category.

T: Tucci wins for saying CUNT. Deal.

FEUD: BETTE & JOAN -- Stanley Tucci as Jack Warner. CR: Kurt Iswarienko/FX.

Best Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Television Movie

Regina King American Crime

Michelle Pfeiffer, The Wizard of Lies

Laura Dern, Big Little Lies

Judy Davis Feud

Jackie Hoffman, Feud

Shailene Woodley, Big Little Lies

T: Shailene Woodley, go home.

S: Ugh she is the one thing wrong with Big Little Lies. You know I was talking to someone, (might have been you) and we were saying how Reese literally had the worst plotline and she was mesmerizing. Shailene you had rape survivor single mom raising a child and you were like watching paint dry. Why Shailene? Why?

T: I know right? She was way out of her depth. Judy Davis was hilarious as the gorgon Hedda Hopper, and Jackie Hoffman was also brilliant as Mamacita. But for me this goes to Laura Dern. Or does it? Did she do that much?  

S: Yeah I might be blinded by my Laura Dern love. Like I can literally watch that Frozen Birthday Party Drama for dayz. But I think one of the Feud ladies might be more deserving. I bet they will give it to Shailene.

T: Ugh please god no. I vote for Judy Davis.

S: I like the character name Mamacita so she gets my vote.

mamacita

Limited Series

Big Little Lies

Feud: Bette and Joan

The Night Of

Fargo

Genius

T: This goes to BLL right? In my heart it goes to Feud.

S: Yeah it’s def going to BLL. I’m happy though. That show was all kinds of genius and it only did SEVEN fantabulous episodes. Get in there, make a great show, get out.  

bll

TV Movie

The Wizard of Lies

Sherlock: The Lying Detective

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Black Mirror: San Junipero

Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colours

T: Dolly. Parton.

S: Haha of course. Look I’m sorry I can’t go down that road with you because San Junipero was the most heartbreakingly beautiful thing i saw this year and I sat and bawled alone for 5 minutes after the credits.  

T: OK I’ll go with that.

S: Wait till Ben gets here. I know he’ll agree with me.

T: No he won’t he doesn’t understand women, esp. Lesbians.

S: Ben stand up for yourself poindexter!

BL: The only correct I have to make is that I understand lesbians slightly better than I understand straight women. But yes, I completely agree with Stephanie, San Junipero is possibly my favourite thing I watched last year.

T: I just really think the academy should like pull a shocker and give it to that shitty Lifetime Dolly Parton movie. Can you imagine the uproar? It would almost be as good as accidental La La Land Oscar envelope non-winner gate.

Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors - Season 1

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series

Ben Mendelsohn, Bloodline

Hank Azaria, Ray Donovan

Gerald McRaney, This Is Us

B.D. Wong, Mr. Robot

Brian Tyree Henry, This Is Us

Denis O’Hare, This Is Us

T: I don’t know what these words mean.

S: This category is a snoooooreeeeeee. Why is everyone from This Is Us? It isn’t good.

T: Fuck they’ve really gone for it right? I vote BD Wong, whoever he is. Maybe he plays the robot on Mr Robot, I don’t know, I don’t care.

S: Yes he plays the Robot that convinces all the other robots to perform a broadway musical ROBOTS!

T: Oh shit that’s what this show is? I should get on that…

S: yes you can here the award winning song “Love Me Before I Rust Away.” Tear. Jerker.

T: Can you imagine the pitch meeting? “It’s SMASH, but with ROBOTS!”

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Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series

Cicely Tyson, How to Get Away With Murder

Laverne Cox, Orange Is the New Black

Shannon Purser, Stranger Things

Alison Wright, The Americans

Alexis Bledel, The Handmaid’s Tale

Ann Dowd, The Leftovers

BL: It’s gotta be Barb. Nobody would be complaining about justice for Barb if it weren’t for that actual performance.

T: BARB! Barb for the win! I love that she’s nominated. That’s just the coolest. Also RORY GILMORE yeeeey. She was amazing in Handmaid’s Tale. Honestly I never knew she had it in her.

S: You know what? While I was watching that show I was like I’m not hating on Alexis Bledel and that’s very surprising for me. So in line with that I will award her an Emmy!

rory

Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series

Matthew Rhys, Girls

Riz Ahmed, Girls

Lin-Manuel Miranda, Saturday Night Live

Dave Chappelle, Saturday Night Live

Tom Hanks, Saturday Night Live

Hugh Laurie, Saturday Night Live

T: If Riz is winning for actor in a limited series, then this should go to Lin-Manuel Miranda because he was amazing and he’s amazing and I love him. Insert Hamilton pun here.

S: Wow, so much SNL. Um yes. Riz can win for The Night Of. I did not enjoy the writing for his character in Girls. He felt like an afterthought. Lin-Manuel! As Thomas knows I broke down and started listening the Hamilton soundtrack this week (I wanted to wait until I saw the musical, but that might never happen) I also watched Moana. And I’m just like Lin Manuel you are so freakin talented. Oh Thomas maybe he can get an EGOT!

T: I have every faith that he will, but he’s currently just an EG.

snl

Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series

Wanda Sykes, Black-ish

Becky Ann Baker, Girls

Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live

Carrie Fisher, Catastrophe

Angela Bassett, Master of None

Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Live

T: I’m torn. Carrie Fisher, the Lord ha’mercy on her soul, is great and should posthumously win things. However, this has to go to Angela Bassett for one of the best episodes of television ever on Master of None. Gutted there’s no Laura Dern for Kimmy Schmidt.

S: I feel the same way. RIP Carrie. We love you. But ANGELA. Oh my word. That episode is amazing. I also just recently rewatched Waiting to Exhale. I relived the moment where Angela burns all her husband’s clothes because he leaves her for a white woman and this is totally unrelated but I just wanted to talk about that. Best scene ever. Angela for the win!

master-of-none

Best Documentary

30 for 30

The Keepers

American Masters

Chef’s Table

Planet Earth II

T: The Keepers x 1000. Although Planet Earth was amazing. Those snakes gave me nightmares.

S: FUCKING JANE DOE OH DEAR GOD THAT SHOW. THE SADNESS. THE ANGER. FUCK FUCK FUCK. MURDER NUN SHOW HAS TO WIN.

Jane Doe! Oh dear God, that show. The sadness. The anger. Fuck. Murder Nun show has to win.

T: Sister Cathy! Jane Doe aka Glenn Close! Oh god this show made me cry with sadness and rage. All the Emmys.

S: It is the LEAST you can do. ALL OF THEM. Sidebar that little lizard guy who got away from the snakes in Planet Earth two. I’ve never cheered so loud.  

TD: I know right? Actually had a nightmare about those snakes tho. My therapist found that very interesting.

S: Snakes are trying to get you! WATCH OUT!

The-Keepers

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The 2016 Emmy Nominations Were Mostly Wonderful

Following a disappointingly narrow batch of Oscar nominations, it was refreshing to see a list of Emmy nominees that reflects the diversity of storytelling on television. While the great and good of the film community are congratulating themselves for having Sulu hug a boy or dance to Madonna or something equally Earth-shatteringly homosexual in Star Trek, in TV land we’re busy discussing shows dealing with a wide array of female, queer and racially diverse themes. 

I teamed up with Stephanie Coffey and Ben Ladouceur to talk wigs, Helen Hunt and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

Lead Actress in a Drama:

Claire Danes, Homeland

Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder

Taraji P. Henson, Empire

Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black

Keri Russell, The Americans

Robin Wright, House of Cards

T: Homeland is still a thing?

S: Claire Danes, go away. Unless you are hanging out with Aziz in Master of None. That was great.

B: I’m throwing my weight behind Tatiana, for playing 50 different lesbians or something.

S: Tatiana is also pretty incredible with her 18 different roles. Ben, I think she just plays one lesbian, though. She is an amazing actress and woo, Canada!  

B: If you watch the show for long enough, a streetcar goes by, and you feel like Toronto is a magical land.

T: Toronto *is* a magical land, Ben. It would be nice to see a Canadian win this. Following on from Viola’s landmark win last year, I feel like this would be equally historic. But this will probably go to Viola Davis for the second year in a row, right? And I’m completely fine with that because she’s a genius.

S: This is tough. I love Viola but I couldn’t do Season two of HTGAWM. (Wow. Long acronym). The mystery was too much of a let down in season one and the amount of time they flashed back to clues because they don’t trust their audience was insufferable. But the best thing about the show is its lead actress, so she is deserving.

viola-davis

Lead Actor in a Drama:

Kyle Chandler, Bloodline

Rami Malek, Mr. Robot

Bob Odenkirk, Better Call Saul

Matthew Rhys, The Americans

Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

T: I find it hard to care about any of these people and their shows. I say give it to Rami Malek, because why not?

B:. I have never seen Mr. Robot. It seems like the new Breaking Bad, in that like four or five straight males told me that I HAVE to check it out. I assume it’s about a robot named Mr. Robot, and that he can’t get wet or he’ll malfunction, but where he lives it’s always raining. Enjoy your Emmy, Mr. Robot!

T: It’s like that show Billions. Straight boys are jizzing over it but gay Twitter says there are no ladies doing lady things so don’t bother. I choose gay Twitter. Mr Robot for the win!

S: Bob Odenkirk! I too ignored the straight boys on Breaking Bad but then watched Better Call Saul in an act of defiance. It was brilliant and I vote for that because I prefer my robots to be Alicia Vikander.

mrrobot_show_2560x1440

Lead Actor in a Limited Series:

Bryan Cranston, All the Way

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

Idris Elba, Luther

Cuba Gooding Jr., The People vs. O.J. Simpson

Tom Hiddleston, The Night Manager

Courtney B. Vance, The People vs. O.J. Simpson

T: Fuck this whole category, because Oscar Isaac was not nominated for Show Me A Hero, which was exceptional.

B: I just googled Show Me a Hero, it looks good. By “it” I mean Oscar Isaac’s moustache.

T: Anything in or around Oscar Isaac’s face is usually 10/10. I have major issues with Tom Hiddleston – he’s a pretty face but I find him completely vacuous, and I’m in the minority that thought The Night Manager was unwatchable.

S: Yes! No more Hiddleswift PR please!

T: This should absolutely go to Courtney B Vance, I thought he was amazing in the show. Also because he was wearing a wig but he was the only person that didn’t look absolutely ridiculous. Plus, he’s married to Angela Fucking Basset.

S: Angela FUCKING Basset.

B: Yes, give it to Vance, who not only acted well, but also grew a moustache.

S: Yes. I’m with you guys. Mostly because of not looking ridiculous in a wig. I’m getting strong images of how terrified I was of John Travolta in this series. Ughhhh.

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Lead Actress in a Limited Series:

Kirsten Dunst, Fargo

Felicity Huffman, American Crime

Audra McDonald, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grille

Sarah Paulson, The People vs. O.J. Simpson

Lili Taylor, American Crime

Kerry Washington, Confirmation

T: How long have we been banging on about Sarah Paulson? Three years now? She was utterly brilliant in OJ and she’s usually the best thing in pretty much anything she does. Give her the fucking Emmy already.

B: I’ve been in love with Paulson since Studio 60, in which she was the only good thing. If I could travel time, I would visit zero dinosaurs and instead travel back a mere six years to go see the 2010 Broadway production of “Collected Stories” with her and Linda Lavin. So if she wins, I’ll be happy.

T: You have quite a thing for Lili Taylor too if I remember correctly?

B: I DO love Lili Taylor, and I am so honoured that you remember that about me. I just want to have brunch with her every once and awhile. Her and Helen Hunt and Embeth Davidtz. And at the start of brunch when we’re all sitting down, we’re like, “No mimosas!” but then one of us orders one anyway, and that gets the ball rolling, and we’re all drinking one mimosa each and talking about how silly we are, so silly, three silly girls and their silly friend Ben.

T: This sounds like a brunch I would turn up to with a really open mind and my heart would sink in like the first three minutes.

S: Why are the mimosas so forbidden, Ben? “No we can’t. We can’t. OMG Helen you are so bad! I’m ordering one too!”

T: Maybe I could convince Embeth to slope off with me? Anyway, I remember you like Lili Taylor because you loved her character on Six Feet Under, who was just the worst.

B: You watched it wrong, she was the best thing about that show.

S: Ben has been on my radar of questionable female actress choices since the inception of his bizarre love for boring Helen Hunt. However, Sarah Paulson bridges the gap finally! To quote Thomas’ drunken voicemail last week, “Pleeeeeease give Sarah Paulson an Emmyyyyyy. She’s a fuuuuuucking genius!”   

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Lead Actor in a Comedy:

Anthony Anderson, Black-ish

Aziz Ansari, Master Of None

Will Forte, Last Man on Earth

William H. Macy, Shameless

Thomas Middleditch, Silicon Valley

Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

T: I feel like we should really be watching Black-ish. The clips I’ve seen look funny.

B: I watched Black-ish’s Very Special Episode about BLM, which was great, but probably not that emblematic of the show’s comic sensibilities.

T: I’m torn here between Aziz Ansari and Jeffrey Tambor. I’d say Aziz is funnier and the fact that he writes and directs the show is a huge achievement. But this is probably Tambor’s to lose. Transparent season two was excellent and I think he was great in it.

B: Let’s give it to Forte, whose show is not perfect, but neither am I and neither are you.

S: Aziz! I loved season two of Transparent but I’d like to see some other players get wins this year. Can someone give Gaby Hoffman an Emmy? Or perhaps some Jill Soloway love? Tambor was brilliant but I think Aziz has created a Master-ful show that touches on a lot of important topics and is hilarious.

T: Puns are always welcome.

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Lead Actress in a Comedy:

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep

Ellie Kemper, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Tracee Ellis Ross, Black-ish

Laurie Metcalf,Getting On

Amy Schumer, Inside Amy Schumer

Lily Tomlin, Grace and Frankie

T: Firstly, Maria Bamford got snubbed for the hilarious Lady Dynamite. It was genius. Shocked to see her left off the list. As you said before, Ben, Grace and Frankie is perfect television so Lily Tomlin deserves to be here. And Tracee Ellis Ross is hilarious so I’m not surprised to see her here. Who takes it? JLD, again? In my heart of hearts I would love this to go to Lily Tomlin.

B: I’m OK with anyone here winning. I’m most OK with Tomlin.

S: Tracee Ellis Ross or Amy Schumer. Lily Tomlin can win if there is a write in vote for Grandma.

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Comedy Series:

Black-ish

Master of None

Modern Family

Silicon Valley

Transparent

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Veep

T: In terms of the most laughs I got out of a show this year, Kimmy Schmidt takes it for me.

S: Titus Burgess really carried the show for me this season. I wouldn’t say it was the best show of the year but I definitely laughed.

T: In terms of purely artistic achievement, this is between Master of None and Transparent.

B: Transparent was REMARKABLE, but I didn’t laugh – mostly I winced and cringed and almost-cried and thought about how one day we’re all going to die. But yes: for best show, it should be Transparent, but for funniest show, Unbreakable.

S: Transparent is heartbreakingly beautiful but it’s one of those odd ‘should it be in the comedy section?’ nominees. I watched Man on the Land S2E9 three times and just bawled. Hari Nef was INCREDIBLE. She should have received a nod!

B: Master of None didn’t do it for me. I feel broken but it’s true.

S: Ben, I’m starting to doubt you again and after we just reconciled over Sarah Paulson. Master of None was amazing. I’m also like the biggest Aziz Ansari fan so I could be biased…no, it’s great.

B: Yeah, I know I’m in the minority here. I appreciate that Ansari is a man with a mandate, addressing social issues. I’m just not driven wild by his schtick.

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Drama Series:

The Americans

Better Call Saul

Downton Abbey

Game of Thrones

Homeland

House of Cards

Mr. Robot

T: I watch none of these shows. I loathe Downton Abbey. Give it to Mr. Robot. Sure.

B: You don’t watch Game of Thrones? I assume everyone in England does because it’s filmed in the big soccer field across the street from everyone’s house.

T: You know how everyone in Toronto had a walk-on in Being Erica? Everyone in the UK has played a tree on Game of Thrones.

S: I DON’T CARE. ACTUALLY put Transparent in this category and voila! A winner.

B: Also, this is where I mention that I have watched Downton Abbey start to finish, and enjoyed every minute. This season was one of the stronger ones. There were car crashes, and the finale was so incredibly CONCLUSIVE. Not a single loose thread. Basically everyone either got married or died, and there was no middle ground, because that’s how aristocracy works.

T: I hate the aristocracy, I hate the crappy writing on this shitty show, and I hate you, Ben.

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TV Movie:

All the Way

Confirmation

Luther

Sherlock: The Abominable Bride

A Very Murray Christmas

T: Umm, weren’t all of these reviewed as bad or mediocre? Unless I’m forgetting something. Give it to Bill Murray for all I care.

B: Confirmation, let’s say.

S: No guys! Did you see the Christmas special? It was like Sofia Coppola does sparse atmospheric Christmas where nothing happens but I put my famous friends in it so it’s fine. Does Black Mirror White Christmas count as a T.V. movie? The one with Jon Hamm. I just watched that and it’s really good. Write in?

T: Steph, with her characteristic finger on the pulse, has singled out a show that was released in 2014.

S: D’oh! … Please disregard Stephanie. *Sneaks in answer* Sherlock because it was probably good.

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Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:

Louie Anderson, Baskets

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Keegan-Michael Key, Key & Peele

Ty Burrell, Modern Family

Tituss Burgess, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Tony Hale, Veep

Matt Walsh, Veep

T: First off, three of these nominees are actors of color, well done academy. Tituss Burgess had the most hilarious year on UKS, give it to him. Tony Hale and Matt Walsh are solid – in particular it’s great to see Walsh recognised. What. On Earth. Is. Baskets?

B: Just googled it. On Baskets, Louie apparently plays a nagging old woman, which is probably a very large step back for the trans rights movement. Let’s give it to Braugher for the quality of his role: a gay black man who has grown into a hardass after dealing with years of bullshit in an intolerant work environment. His character is heavily informed, but ultimately not defined by, his queer experience and that, to me, is the best possible future of gays on TV.

T: Are we saying, Ben, that Brooklyn Nine Nine is one of the great queer texts of our time?

B: Yes. Andy Samberg is like ten Gore Vidals.

S: Not only actors of colour but two queer black characters. I think this is definitely proving that Hollywood films need to catch up to TV in terms of diversity. Andre Braugher as Captain Holt is one of my favourite TV characters ever! Not only is Holt a complex queer character, Braugher’s comedic timing and monotone delivery exemplify his supreme acting chops.

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Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie:

Jesse Plemons, Fargo

Bokeem Woodbine, Fargo

Hugh Laurie, The Night Manager

Sterling K. Brown, The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

David Schwimmer, The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

John Travolta, The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story

T: Who is Bokeem Woodbine, he’s my new favourite person. Like a chipmunk or something got nominated for an Emmy.

B: I got lost at Woodbine subway station once. I was hungover and I took the subway the wrong way and ended up in Scarborough. So I don’t like Bokeem Woodbine.

T: This should definitely go to Sterling K Brown, he was amazing as Darden. John Travolta was hilaire and Ross Kardashian is just no. I really like Jesse Plemons. Generally. That’s all I have to say about him.

B: I agree! Sterling K. Brown.

T: Are you just agreeing for the sake of it? I’m pretty sure you only watched one episode of OJ…

B: I’m agreeing because I trust you Thomas.

S: I will jump in and admit that I am going to blindly agree with Thomas because I don’t like anyone else. I watched three episodes of OJ.

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Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:

Niecy Nash, Getting On

Allison Janney, Mom

Kate McKinnon , Saturday Night Live

Judith Light, Transparent

Gaby Hoffmann, Transparent

Anna Chlumsky, Veep

T: Janney again? I love her, you know I do, but like come on love you’ve got a wagon of Emmys. Ease up. Would be great to see Kate McKinnon win this, and there’s a possibility as she rides the wave of her Ghostbusters success. See previously: Melissa McCarthy for Mike and Molly. Anna Chlumsky is great, and the Transparent ladies also. Tough one. WHERE THE FUCK IS JANE KRAKOWSKI? I WILL SET THE BUILDING ON FIRE.

B: Yes, she is a notable absence. So is June Diane Raphael, Brianna from Grace & Frankie, whose business scenes with Lily Tomlin were one of the best things about the season. Give it to the ghostbuster.

T: Ladybuster for the win!

S: GABBY HOFFMAN. I love her. Ever since I used to watch Now & Then as a little girl and dream about my future. She was so good in Transparent this season. I’m very proud of her.

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Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:

Maura Tierney, The Affair

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

Lena Headey, Game Of Thrones

Emilia Clarke, Game Of Thrones

Maisie Williams, Game Of Thrones

Constance Zimmer, UnREAL

T: The only person I care about here generally is Maura Tierney. I’ve only just watched The Affair and my God now I remember how great she is. Give this to her immediately.

B: Constance Zimmer! Nobody watches UnREAL except for me, I think, but it’s fantastic, and Zimmer is especially good. Great to see UnREAL get one nod.

T: I hear it’s good, I should probably watch it. Also you should watch The Affair, it has the edgy yet solidly Mom sensibility that I think you would really dig.

B: On it.

S: Actually Ben, I have also watched UnReal and know about Constance Zimmer. She is quite good. However, I think I have to go with Thomas on this one. SPOILER ALERT: Helen gets high in Season two and says she queefed at the hairdressers and her hair gets accidentally bleached and it’s ridiculous. Season two is all about Helen and she delivers a complex performance. Plus she’s the mom from Liar Liar, so…

T: Maura Tierney has been a genius since ER which I was watching way before Liar Liar because I’m a Mum/Mom.

S: Yes I’m your bratty daughter who caught on to all your ladies in the 90s and you keep trying to “show me where they got their start” and I’m like “mommmm you don’t understand me, Maura Tierney is married to Jim Carey and they have a kid with a mushroom cut. That’s it!”

T: I know, I’m just a Maura Tierney completist.

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Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie:

Melissa Leo, All The Way

Regina King, American Crime

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Hotel

Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Hotel

Jean Smart, Fargo

Olivia Colman, The Night Manager

T: This is very strong. Paulson again?

B: Sarah Paulson could win two this way! That’s always fun.

T: Remember when Elisabeth Moss was up for two and we were like “SHE COULD WIN BOTH” and we held hands during her categories during the ceremony and we were disappointed x2?

B: I’ve done my best to forget that moment, but yes, I remember all too well.

S: I’m just going to throw my hat in for Kathy Bates. “It’s your men out there!”

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Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series:

Bob Newhart, The Big Bang Theory

Tracy Morgan, Saturday Night Live

Larry David, Saturday Night Live

Bradley Whitford, Transparent

Martin Mull, Veep

Peter MacNicol, Veep

T: Give it to Principal Kraft.  

B: Where is the rest of the Sabrina The Teenage Witch cast in today’s entertainment milieu? If you had told me, back then, it would be Principal Kraft still doing stuff, I’d have been, I guess, a somewhat bummed-out eleven-year-old. Where’s Libby, Aunt Zelda, Jenny, Harvey? (For her part, Melissa Joan Hart is the trainwreck nobody is talking about. You’ll all be quoting me on this one day.)

T: She recently starred in God’s Not Dead 2, so she’s doing fine. I guess. Fun fact: Beth Broderick retrained in psychology and is now Steph Coffey’s psychologist. True story.

S: Melissa Joan Hart is clinging on to the cliff of success in Melissa and Joey with Joey “Woah” Lawrence. They also did an ABC movie called Holiday in Handcuffs that’s on Netflix. I watched it when I shame spiralled at Christmas a few years back. Let’s all write in a vote for Beth Broderick!  

B: Zelda Spellman! Yes!

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Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series:

Laurie Metcalf, The Big Bang Theory

Christine Baranski, The Big Bang Theory

Tina Fey & Amy Poehler, Saturday Night Live

Melissa McCarthy, Saturday Night Live

Amy Schumer, Saturday Night Live

Melora Hardin, Transparent

T: Ladies. A joint Emmy for Tina & Amy.

B: Happy with any of these.

T: Could it be any cuter that Tina & Amy get nominated as one person?

S: Can that happen? I mean I’m happy for Tina and Amy but is that a thing? A joint nom? Also, clearly if they are nominated as a pair then I’m voting for them.

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Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series:

Margo Martindale, The Americans

Carrie Preston, The Good Wife

Laurie Metcalf, Horace And Pete

Ellen Burstyn, House Of Cards

Molly Parker, House Of Cards

Allison Janney, Masters Of Sex

B: Molly Parker is Canadian. She played a necrophiliac in a 90s movie. Who hasn’t, though.

S: Lol to playing 90s necrophiliacs.

T: We’ve all had a bash. Did you know Raynor and co’s drama teacher in High School played the dead blonde lady in Murder at 1600?

S: Thanks, Tom. Now I want to ignore the work I have to do to today and watch some 90s Welsey Snipes. Murder at 1600, Passenger 57, can’t wait.

Thanks guys! Check back in for our post-Emmys round-up after the ceremony takes place on September 18.

Have You Seen…Absolutely Fabulous?

Sweetie, darling: pour me a glass of Bolly – just a smidge – and come and sit down so we can talk all things FABULOUS. Absolutely Fabulous, that is.

Jennifer Saunders’ satirical sitcom set in the world of fashion and PR took the world by storm when it was first broadcast in the ‘90s, with its characters, clothing and distinct lexicon becoming iconic in the process. Absolutely Fabulous has remained a firm favourite ever since – camp, quotable and quirky, the exploits of Eddie and her sidekick Patsy captured the imaginations of audiences both gay and straight everywhere.

PR guru Eddie was the world’s highest-functioning alcoholic: she rarely went into office (thanks to her friend Mr. Mobile Telephone, she was always at work), yet she ran a semi-successful PR firm and managed to hold on to a large house in London’s classy Holland Park. Her ever-present best friend and confidante Patsy (played with venomous relish by Joanna Lumley) was the enabler of the situation, a parasitic magazine fashion director with a propensity for Stoli, ciggies, cocaine and windscreen washers with buns so tight they were bouncing off the bedroom walls.

Treated less well by these two were Eddie’s long-suffering, buttoned-up daughter Saffy (an excellently deadpan Julia Sawalha), the ‘adult’ of the mother-daughter relationship and constant voice of disapproval for her mother’s shenanigans – referred to by Patsy as ‘that little bitch troll from hell’ – and Eddie’s mother (June Whitfield) a kleptomaniac who may or may not be suffering from Alzheimer’s.

These were not a likeable bunch, but we loved them anyway; Patsy’s parasitic tendencies may not have been sympathetic, but for someone whose Mother reportedly hated her and for whom home was described as ‘a little place above Oddbins’ (a UK off-licence chain), her annexing of Eddie’s life seemed fairly logical.

As well as establishing one of the most dysfunctional families ever seen on television, Ab Fab also skewered the worlds of fashion and PR with razor sharp precision – stemming from the fact that even Eddie didn’t really seem to know what she did for a living. ‘P-R!’ she says, when pressed by Saffie. ‘I PR things. People, concepts – Lulu!’

Still, whatever they did or didn’t do for a living, they always seemed to have plenty of cash to spend on ridiculous designer clothes – “Lacroix, sweety, Lacroix” – and regular trips abroad: between flying to New York simply to find a new door handle, to selling Saffie into slavery in Marrakech, bearing their breasts atop the Eiffel Tower and getting married in a ceremony presided over by Whoopi Goldberg in the Big Apple, they clocked up some serious frequent flyer miles.

As with many high-profile sitcoms, Ab Fab attracted the fandom of a number of big celebrities who all clamoured for an appearance on the show. For a show that dealt with the cult of celebrity, this was a blessing, and Saunders’ often invited them to appear in unflattering roles, such as Minnie Driver, Elton John, Kate O Mara, Erin O Connor, Twiggy and Naomi Campbell.

Ab Fab ended its initial run with ‘The Last Shout’ in 1996, in which Eddie had a near death experience and became convinced she was the messiah (God, incidentally, looks a lot like Marianne Faithful). However, the show eventually returned for two more seasons and to this day sporadically produces one-off specials – meaning you’re never far from the hilarious shenanigans of Eddie and Patsy.

And who would want to be? Absolutely Fabulous is an iconic show in many ways and for many people – but especially to the LGBT community. Maybe it was their unabashed hedonism that appealed to us; maybe we just liked looking at lovely jackets. Whatever it was, Ab Fab has made an indelible mark on our collective memories.

So, it’s goodbye aging obscurity and Hello! Magazine…

Dawn French’s Best Moments

The great Dawn French announced today that she will tour the UK in a one-woman show she describes as “somewhere between a monologue, a play, and an autobiographical slide show with a few funnies thrown in.”

Once the paramedics got our hearts started again, we began to think about exactly what Ms. French would put into her show – titled 30 Million Minutes – seeing as her accomplishments as a comedian, writer, actor, author and memoirist couldn’t possibly fit into your standard show length. Take a look below at Spindle’s highlights from Dawn French’s illustrious career and remind yourself why you definitely need to get tickets for this show:

‘Dickens Daughters’ – Shakespears Sister Parody

Dawn and her comedy partner Jennifer Saunders are probably most famous for their spot-on movie and music parodies – and probably their best remembered is their take on the iconic video for Shakespears Sister’s Stay. As the original song and video were so singular, it seemed almost parody-proof – until French and Saunders got their hands on it, dressed Dawn in a bin liner with a tinsel crown and had she and Jen play-fight on a double bed. This must be seen to be believed, though I’d say it’s less bonkers than the original video. Shakespears Sister vocalist Marcella Detroit didn’t seem to mind though, as she later made an appearance on Saunders’ show Absolutely Fabulous in 1996.

The Vicar Of Dibley – Four Christmas Dinners

In this 90s BBC sitcom Dawn played Geraldine Granger, a female vicar sent to a sleepy countryside parish. Female priests were a hot-button issue at the time, and this fish out of water story of a cheerful vicar trying to navigate the hostility and stupidity of village politics was a huge hit.

Now we know we’re meant to show the clip of Dawn falling into the big puddle, but frankly the physical comedy of this attempt to stuff down four Christmas lunches in one day is a personal highlight of the series.

French and Saunders – Silence of the Lambs

Without a doubt French and Saunders’ most fondly remembered movie parody is this one – I don’t think anyone before or since has done such an accurate impression of Jodie Foster as Jennifer Saunders does here. The biggest laughs, of course, go to Dawn as a portly, female version of Hannibal Lecter, aided by a terrific script that is at once faithfully recreated while also being utterly, utterly silly.

“I want a view, Jennifer. I want to see trees and some grass. Yes. I want a dressing room that overlooks the Blue Peter garden.”

Wild Wild West – Mary

This curio ran for two series on BBC One and starred Dawn and Catherine Tate as lesbian (lesbean) Cornish shopkeepers Mary and Angela. At the time this oddball show about the eccentricities of Cornwall village life wasn’t too well received with critics or viewers, but its retro-raves are legion – to see why, check out the video to see Dawn trying to put out a fire by telling it to shutup.

Roger & Val Have Just Got In – Val

Probably the crowning achievement of Dawn’s acting career has been this comedy-drama in which she co-stars with Alfred Molina. The show takes place in real time in the 30 minutes after middle-aged married couple Roger and Val have just returned from work – and that’s it; just the two of them, in their house, working through the mundanities of life while masking past trauma that lurks just beneath the surface. It’s a joy to watch these two masters at work, and a reminder that Dawn is much more than just the fat one from French and Saunders.

Tickets for 30 Million Minutes go on sale at 9am on Friday 28th February. Dates are:

June
5-8 – Sheffield, Lyceum
10-12 – Glasgow, Pavilion
13 – Derby, Assembly Rooms
14 – Buxton, Opera House
15-16 – Llandudno, Venue Cymru
18-20 – Birmingham, New Alexandra
25-28 – Brighton, Theatre Royal
29 – Plymouth, Theatre Royal

July
2-6 – Bradford, Alhambra
9-13 – Dublin, Olympia
16-20 – Cardiff, New Theatre
23-24 – Crawley, Hawth
25-27 – Reading, Hexagon
30-August 2 – Dartford, Orchard

Words: Thomas Dearnley-Davison

Originally published on Spindle Magazine

E4’s The Midnight Beast Returns

E4’s hit show The Midnight Beast returns to our screens this week, bringing with it laughter, tears and mirthful musical interludes.

I caught up with the beastly trio of Stefan Abingdon, Ashley Horne and Dru Wakely to discuss their humble beginnings as a Youtube sensation and what hi-jinks we can expect from the return of The Midnight Beast:

Congratulations on the second series! Can you give us a bit of a sneak peek of what we can expect this time round?

Ash: This series is a lot more shocking and dirtier, we really wanted to upgrade the whole thing. The music videos are bigger, especially the first number – it’s a big musical theatre number. We’ve always been influenced by South Park, the beginning of the movie, and we wanted to start off the series with a big kick.

Stefan: We’ve got some older people that were in the last one – like Simon Farnaby, who plays Sloman – and then we’ve got Julia Deakin from Spaced and Allen Partridge joining us, which is amazing. And we’ve got two great new characters – Julia’s Granddaughters, Ria [Zmitrowicz] and Esther [Smith].

Dru: And we have a job in this one, which is a pretty big deal.

Stef: The last series focused on our trials and tribulations as a band. This time we’re a lot less successful, so it’s more just about our friendship, holding shit together and trying to keep that crummy East London flat.

So it’s kind of like Girls in East London.

Ash: Absolutely. We’re gonna nick that.

Damn it. So what was it like coming back for series 2? Was there more pressure this time round? You’ve probably got a bit more of a budget to do bigger things at least…

Ash: I think the budget might have been a bit smaller actually.

They just wanted more.

Stef: They wanted to work us, yeah. It’s like that difficult second album thing – me and Dru played in bands before and we really approached it like that. Our involvement from the get-go was like “okay, you need to come up with 10 to 14 songs and they need to be good”, and for that to happen you’ve got to realistically write 30 songs and whittle it down. So we just spent a lot of time just cabin-fevering it in the studio. Last time we recorded the whole of the first season underneath the District line train track in Putney and that was really good – we just had to literally dodge the timetable, find out from TFL when trains were going. But this time we’re in a nice studio and we’ve got the space to ourselves and have our own vocal booth, so it was a lot more comfortable doing it.

Ash: With the songs, we’ve tried to push it a lot more.

Stef: In the first episode the second song in it is a big gospel number, so we got to record a gospel choir for it and that was absolutely fantastic.

That’s a brilliant number.

Stef: The way we work with the writers, they’ll pitch us the idea for the episode, we’ll say if we’re into it and we’ll collaborate on that a bit, then we’ll write the songs to it. We knew we needed a song about my character being heartbroken and we didn’t want to do just a standard breakup song, so we took it to there.

I was going to ask about how you collaborate on making the show because it’s got the same kind of vibe as your early videos – it’s quite madcap and irreverent, so I wondered how much input you had? 

Ash: We’ve got such an amazing team around us and we got to handpick who we’d work with, so we had that mutual understanding that it’s got to be a project that we’d work together on. The director, Al Campbell, was incredible at doing that because, you know, we all act a little bit but it’s not like our forte, so he was very understanding and with his help we’ve improved. With the music videos, we’d have hour-long meetings where we’d discuss what was going to happen within the videos, put together treatments, and even with directing videos we’d have a big say on what should happen.

Dru: It’s never been a creative struggle. We’ve been so blessed with the people we work with, everyone’s just working towards that same goal. It’s never been like “I know you did the Youtube videos, but we’re going to do this…” – everyone just wants to make the best show possible.

So they haven’t Wayne’s World-d you?

Ash: No! One of the most surprising things was with the songs – they let us go away and work on tracks, then we presented them with all 12 songs from the series and they just said “yeah, perfect” – they didn’t have a single note. Whenever it’s the music, they just let us get on with it.

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There’s some interesting things in episode one – throwing that terrible ‘Twilight but not quite’ party was great – especially the garlic punch. 

Stef: I feel like it might work.

I put tonnes of garlic in everything I make. I’m intrigued by garlic punch.

Ash: Go for it.

Maybe I’ll do that as a companion piece for this?

Stef: Have you ever been to Garlic and Shots in Soho?

…no?!

Stef: If you like garlic, they do chilli shots and garlic shots as well. Absolutely amazing.

Ash: Bring loads of chewing gum though.

Yeah, I wouldn’t go there on a date. So, what are some of the worst party experiences you’ve ever had?

Dru: It didn’t happen to me, but I laughed so hard that it definitely cleared the room. There was a girl who was sitting next to a candle…she turned around really quick and her hair caught fire and literally just started to engulf in flame. Everyone panicked and I just pointed and laughed. Everyone was really disappointed in me – everyone wanted to console her as she ran out of the room and I was the only one finding it side-splittingly funny. She was alright. She lost a good chunk.

Stef: Every one of our parties seems to end in injury. For Dru’s birthday we had a tonne of people round to my flat, and I’d left my Christmas tree outside –

Dru: Not really left, you just dumped it.

Stef: Yeah. And our friend Vicki fell over it, she was laughing so hard – again, always laughing – she fell over and split her head open. We had to take her to A & E. Disastrous party.

Well, speaking of extra-curricular activities, Ash you have your own clothing line – was fashion something you were always into?

Ash: Definitely! I spend far too much money on clothes and I always wear other people’s clothes, so I just thought why not create my own thing and wear it in the TV show?

Cross-promotion.

Ash: That’s right. But yeah, it’s been doing really well. I started it only last month and it’s been doing really well. It’s crazy what we’ve achieved so far. But I also want to do more acting. I was in the latest series of Skins, and All Stars the movie, and before I was in Eastenders for a bit, so I’ve always wanted to do more acting stuff. So when this came along it was a bit of an easy way out – or an easy way in, actually…

Stef: You make it sound like suicide.

Ash: It was a suicidal move for my career. But I was on TV a bit more, that’s all that matters.

Going back to your Youtube career, I was thinking about the Another Boyband video which is a brilliant pastiche of boybands in general – are you trying to critique something about pop music or the pop industry today?

Stef: It certainly came from something. I got into songwriting because if you think something’s shit, don’t just sit back and talk about it – try and do something about it. I mean, the songwriters behind those acts are amazing, and One Direction’s music is incredible, put people are used to Simon Cowell putting things together and delivering it to them on a platter. People want you to just jump when they say it. We didn’t want to preach about it, we wanted to put a fun slant on it.

Dru: It was never meant to be a big political statement. More of a nudge and piss-take of these guys that are just pouting and kicking dust in a music video.

Stef: We’ve sat in board rooms before and had people pitch us the idea of ‘right, we’re going to take on the X Factor’, and that has become the biggest cliche!

Ash: There was talk of us going on X Factor at one point to do Another Boyband, which wouldn’t have worked! Contradicting ourselves about how X Factor is not for us and then going on it?

Yeah, I think the universe would have imploded. 

Ash: Exactly!

Stef: Pop eats itself. I think if I write something that makes these guys laugh, or if Ash writes something that makes us laugh, that’s all that matters really. If no one finds it funny, at least we do.

Ash: I think about two years ago I had the idea of doing a parody of Whip My Hair Back And Forth, but the quality was really…it was shit. It was called I’ve Got A Boner In My Shorts. We recorded it and got to the stage where we were going to do a video – and we were like “this is fucking shit”. And I’m sure Will Smith would have got on to it, got in touch with us…

He’s litigious, that one.

Stef: It’s good to know when to kill an idea.

Before anyone lawyers up. Probably a good idea. So, you guys have your new album coming on March 17th?

Stef: Yep, and you can pre-order it throughout the whole of the series.

And what are your ambitions beyond that?

Stef: A musical would be nice….

Ash: We’ve been inspired by Book of Mormon recently, that was incredible. We’d love to do that.

Stef: It would be a fun project to do, and a third series would be amazing too.

Thanks guys!

We’ll keep you informed about that third series, and in the mean time you can watch the brand new series of The Midnight Beast on 23rd January, 10pm on E4.

midnightbeast.com // @midnightbeastuk

Words: Thomas Dearnley-Davison

Photography: Matt Martin

Originally published on Spindle Magazine

meet amy morgan mr selfridge thomas dearnley-davison

Meet Amy Morgan, The New Star of Mr. Selfridge

Living in Canada for the last two years, my British housemate and I were delighted when we happened upon a lovely costume drama with which to soothe our homesickness.

Imagine our mortification upon the discovery that the main character in Mr. Selfridge was played by an American! Ari Gold himself was taking over our lovely, snuggly costume dramas. We needn’t have worried too much, however, as we found Mr. Selfridge to be a perfect Sunday afternoon drama that managed to be warm and comforting while also telling a damn good story in an innovative way – unlike its cousin, the largely vapid Downton Abbey.

Fans and soon-to-be fans will be glad to hear the the second series returns this Sunday, January 19th and with it come some fresh faces. We caught up with newbie Amy Morgan to talk about her character Grace Calthorpe, her background in theatre and the joys of corset-wearing.

Congratulations on the Mr. Selfridge role Amy! Tell us a bit about how you got your start in showbiz.
Thanks very much! Well I guess my story isn’t that starry or anything, but I basically got into Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, got an agent and then didn’t really work much for about a year! Then I got my first theatre job which started the ball rolling for me. I suppose the job that changed the path of my career was the first job I did at the Donmar Warehouse called Inadmissible Evidence. The Donmar  has such a fantastic reputation that everyone goes to see things there! So I got some great exposure from that job.

Can you give us a sneak peek as to what we can expect from your character on Mr Selfridge this season?
Well! I play Grace Calthorpe who works on accessories under Miss Mardle (played by Amanda Abbington). Grace is very ambitious but very kind-hearted and generous with her time. She’s best friends with Jessie who works on cosmetics and they love a good gossip together! She also becomes very good friends with Gordon Selfridge (Mr Selfridges’ son). And that’s all I can say! Ha!

mr selfridge series 2 amy morgan itv

Do you like getting dressed up in period costume – or is it a bit long-winded to face at 6 in the morning?
I’ll be honest, I’ve done a lot of period dramas now so wearing a corset for 13 hours a day can wear a bit thin! But after the first week or two, you forget about it and just get on with it. As long as you make as much space as you can by pushing your ribs out in the corset fitting, you’ll always leave enough room for breathing and lunch! Top tip there! Oh, the glamour. Ha!

‘Once A Catholic’ has been a big hit in theatreland this season – what’s it been like working with Kathy Burke and co?
Oh it’s been brilliant, such good fun! We’ve been sold out every night so playing to a full audience with a raucous comedy like Once a Catholic has been amazing. Kathy is just brilliant. She’s one of my favourite actresses, so I couldn’t believe it when my agent called to say I’d got the job! Very surreal. She made the whole rehearsal period so enjoyable and stress free. Love her!

Which do you prefer: movies, TV or stage?
Ooh that’s always so tough because when you’re doing theatre, you’re always thinking, ‘Oh I’d love a telly job after this!’ And when you’re doing telly you’re gasping for some theatre! Grass is always greener! It’s nice to have a variety of all three ideally. My heart is probably in the theatre though.

In an ideal world, who’s career would you like to emulate? Who inspired you in the first place and who do you look up to today?
In an ideal world, probably Judi Dench. Her roots are in theatre but she’s managed to become equally successful in all areas of acting. She’s having such a long successful career and she’s also managed to have a family and to keep her private life out of the public eye. She’s very inspirational. I also did a play with Olivia Colman a year ago whom I love, and she inspires me every time I see her. She’s also managed to have a wildly successful career and have a wonderful family life too.

I’m also totally in love with Lesley Manville. I remember seeing her in a Mike Leigh film on TV when I was a teenager and just thinking, ‘God she’s good. She’s really good…!’ And then I was sat next to her at the Ian Charleson awards last year! I couldn’t even get my words out properly at first! She was wonderful to me that day. Very warm and kind and so supportive. All brilliant, funny, amazing women.

We’re all about promoting emerging talent here at Spindle – who are your Ones To Watch for 2014?
Ooh well I would say Phoebe Waller-Bridge who was also in HayFever with me and Olivia. She’s simply wonderful. She can act, write, direct, do stand up – pretty sure she can do anything actually! She won a fringe first up in Edinburgh for her one woman show ‘Fleabag’, which then had a sold out run at the Soho Theatre. She’s amazing! Similarly, Jessica Knappett is as impressive! She’s managed to write and star in her own comedy, Drifters for E4 which is bloody hilarious! Very funny ladies!

Thanks Amy! Mr. Selfridge returns Sunday January 19th at 9pm.

Words: Thomas Dearnley-Davison

Photographer: Joseph Sinclair

Hair and Makeup: Nibras using MAC

Mr Selfridge Image: ITV

Originally published on Spindle Magazine

John Lewis Christmas Advert 2013

One may as well begin with some social media comments about the latest John Lewis Christmas advert:

They’ve done it again. It’s animated and I still cried.

It’s another tear jerker.

Made me cry but has a happy ending.

It’s perfect!

Anyone that doesn’t share a tear at the John Lewis Christmas advert isn’t human.

If you haven’t seen the ad in question, perhaps because you live on Mars, then here it is:

Our mission here at Spindle is to Unravel Creativity, so here goes: as far as I can make out, the advert features a hungover bear in a need of a hug and The Animals of Farthing Wood putting up a Christmas tree. You’d be forgiven for thinking the tagline of ‘Give Someone A Christmas They’ll Never Forget’ sounds like the vaguely threatening teaser campaign for the Christmas Day episode of Eastenders.

Quite how any of this compels anyone to go and buy stuff from John Lewis is beyond me, but then again John Lewis has always been about selling an idea rather than some individual product (yeah, I watch Mad Men; I understand things), and this keenly observed blend of customer demographics and focus-grouped emotional cues means the nation has now officially ‘got into the Christmas spirit’ – and we all have John Lewis to thank.

However, what you’ll also have noticed from the above social media comments is that no-one, but no-one, mentioned that they were intending to even visit a John Lewis store – let alone do the bulk of their Christmas shopping there.

But could there be anything more appealing to John Lewis’ middle-class MOR target consumer than a Lo-fi Lily Allen cover of a bloody Keane song? I mean, I’m happy that Lily Allen’s making a few quid off music again because she was fairly good at it for a while, and I’m pleased that Keane are once again achieving some modicum of cultural relevance. But as I’m sure Smiths fans noted after the use of Please, Please, Please in the 2011 John Lewis Christmas ad, your moment of association with high quality, reasonably priced white goods will only provide a momentary resurgence in popularity among the average Jonelle customer.

Don’t get me wrong; I have no beef with John Lewis. Why, one time they saved me from a wretched hangover when I visited the High Wycombe store with a friend who wanted to buy a coffee maker. Those little free shots of espresso handed out by the highly professional demonstrator gave me the strength to carry on. They made me who I am today.

In all fairness, this year’s ad isn’t as baffling as those of previous years, such as 2012’s ‘Snowman leaves snowgirl mate to climb a mountain and hop over a motorway bridge in order to get to a John Lewis and return with a gift’ or 2011’s ‘white middle class kid who’s never wanted for anything in his life is impatient for Christmas to arrive but in a dramatic twist just wants to give his Mum a nice gift’. The stunts have worked: John Lewis is in rude health, posting profits of £3.3 billion (about $5.3 billion) in 2012.

Now can I attack the hypocrisy of Christmas in general? Oh, come on now – don’t close the page! Just hear me out. As a recovering Catholic (Hi Mum! *waves*), this is one aspect that particularly sticks in my craw. Surely you remember a few years ago when it was fashionable to at least take a moment to think about the irony of atheists, agnostics and, you know, Jews and Muslims celebrating Christmas. Now it seems we’ve gotten over it and are happy to indulge ourselves unabashed at this time of year. And I get it; Christmas is so twinkly and sweet – even my Muslim sister-in-law was so moved by a friend’s stunning Christmas tree last year that she declared that she would get one this year.

The tree in question has not materialised and is unlikely to, further demonstrating the momentary mania that affects us all at Christmas.

Perhaps the collective abandonment of religion at Christmas and gleeful offloading of any kind of guilt about this means that culturally we’ve had to re-frame what Christmas means: therefore, “it’s all about family” (or “all abaaat faaam-leee” to continue the Eastenders metaphor, inextricably linked as Christmas and the nation’s flagship soap opera are in the British psyche) has become the accepted refrain by Mums and other deranged folks through the land. Nope, it’s definitely still about the birth of Jesus. Sorry to disappoint you.

Who knows – the current trendy Archbishop of Canterbury and this new-fangled Pope are taking steps to get with the times, so maybe by this time next year they’ll announce that Christmas really is all about family and we shouldn’t worry too much about the Jesus thing.

So, for now, let’s worship at the altar of John Lewis once again: and remember, if you don’t cry over this advert, then you definitely aren’t human.

Originally published on Spindle Magazine