All posts by gaskinsmn

I'm just an English nerd studying Public Relations as a Trojan in downtown Los Angeles

Goodbye My Old Friend: An Open Letter to Shonda Rhimes and Grey’s Anatomy

post it

People who know me well know that I probably take the TV shows I invest time in a little too seriously, and a little too personally. I started watching Grey’s Anatomy the day before my 14th birthday. I was a freshman in a high school that I didn’t feel particularly loved or comfortable in (does anyone in high school feel particularly loved and comfortable???). Anyway the show began right around the time when my closest group of friends began to circle each other like a great bar against all senses of evil and darkness that would come our way. I called my best friend my person, my Die, just like Meredith did with her best friends. The show was a weekly beacon for us to watch and connect and imagine our lives would shape into (my best friend eventually going to med school to be a surgeon the likes of the character I’d always called her by). Sure, it was a primetime soap that often saw bombs and car accidents and lots of different forms of sadness along the way, but the relationships between the characters always felt like this tangible proof of long term friendships and hope—hope for human understanding, hope for happiness, and (maybe) most importantly hope for love.

The years have seen characters come and go, but Meredith and her love were always a rock for the show to come back to, and for its audience to feel trust in. It seemed that’s where the show started—in a living room on the floor—and that’s where it would end.

.

On this week’s episode, Meredith and Derek’s story came to a close when his car was hit by a truck in an awful car accident. The ending felt weak and cheap and rushed. It felt like there were forces happening behind the scenes that made the ending so abrupt.

I know it’s a TV show and I really shouldn’t care. These aren’t real people and with all the live, actual bad things happening in the world, it’s tough to feel empathy or mercy towards someone who has time to feel sad about the end of a character on a show that’s been on way longer than it needed to be. But I’m still going to say this anyway: Derek’s death meant a lot to me. Yes, he was a character on a show, but he was also more than that. Over a decade’s worth of watching him, he became a symbol for good at the end of the day, for hope for those that are less than optimistic.

It’s the end of an era, a decade of something unreal (in a very literal sense) and yet still very present in my life. This will be my last season watching Grey’s Anatomy. I have loved every break up and make up, and fake surgeries that could never happen. I’ve loved even the plane crashes and the unnecessary deaths. As Shonda Rhimes is queen of doing, she’s impacted my life with her fiction in a way few writers ever do. And I’ll forever be grateful.

Goodbye, my old friend. I will miss you so much.

ELLEN POMPEO, PATRICK DEMPSEY

Advertisements

About Alex: Flawed but oh so Captivating

“There are three stages to finding friends in college: the first is desperation, the second is panic, the third is fate—when you wind up at the same table together, somehow and your real life begins…”

Such are the starter words to writer Ben’s (played by Nate Parker) first published piece. It’s a piece that led to his full time career in writing, and captured his friendship with his five closest friends from college, which include merger and acquisition lawyer Sarah (Aubrey Plaza), philosopher and resident douche bag Josh (Max Greenfield), investment banker Isaac (Max Minghella), Ben’s girlfriend Siri (Maggie Grace), and devoted loner Alex (Jason Ritter). Ben’s words were scribed ten years ago at a time where the bond between these six people was all consuming. About Alex, however, brings us into the future where the only thing that can bring these reluctant friends together is Alex’s attempted suicide. The friends, along with new addition Kate (played by Jane Levy), spend a weekend at Alex’s house trying to avoid everything from the bathroom Alex slit his wrists in, to the unanswered question of what happened to their friendship.

The trailer for About Alex boasted a review that it is The Big Chill for millennials and that influence and idea is easy to see when watching the film. Although the editing is sometimes choppy and I’m never a fan of background music that is so loud and intrusive it is basically telling the audience, “This is when you should feel sad,” there is this connection and a familiarity to the film that makes it hard to stop watching. There are so many different complexities to all of these relationships within the friend group, and if you are a fan of New Girl there is a glimpse of Schmidt somewhere in Max Greenfield’s performance, but it is the relationship between Ben and Alex, so flawlessly developed by Nate Parker and Jason Ritter, that makes this film worth watching. There is a desperation and a lost-ness between the two of them that shines in particular that gives the movie its feet.

As someone in a group of six friends who has obsessively been involved with each other for nearly a decade now, I actively search for and dismiss all movies that have to do with a group of friends who come back together and face a crisis. But About Alex is charming and warm. It’s the kind of film that you can watch again and again and relearn something about each character or scene without boredom.

About Alex is not a perfect movie. But getting the chance to see those six friends become who they were just by sitting at a dining hall table left me in both sad and happy sobs. I’m sure if you see the movie, it’ll break you just the same.

You can find About Alex on VOD and in select theaters starting August 8, 2014.

Urban Butcher- The Taste Your Buds Will Never Forget

Urban Butcher is the most tasty splurge I’ve probably ever eaten. After passing the large, glowing windows off of Georgia Ave in downtown Silver Spring and seeing the antique tables, plaid shirted waiters, and chalkboard backing several times in one week- a few friends and I decided to have dinner at the boutiqey restaurant last night.

Upon first walking into Urban Butcher, I felt like I had been transported back to my temporary home of LA. The restaurant has about four different sections that feel like their own room and space. The front of the restaurant feels purposefully (and beautifully so) a bit undone, while the back room is bright, painted in a spring yellow and lit by hanging lights. Breaking up the front and back of the house are the butcher shop which is lined in glass and all white contrasting the dark and wooden bar area.

Our waiter was just as hipster as the restaurant, but he knew his stuff, offering us their specialized drink menu with serious Old Fashions and The Butcher’s Negroni (which you kind of have to have). As for our meal, Urban Butcher is one of maybe three restaurants I know that you could get anything on the menu and be pleasantly surprised/satisfied. Nothing is bad. Nothing is even just good. Everything tastes like a bit of heaven.

The steak frites are moist and seasoned all the way through, which you get to experience while it melts in your mouth. The beef empanadas are spicy, toasty, and delicious. I ordered the house burger with bacon and artisan cheese. It was so good, I’m not sure I’ll have another burger again for a long, long time. But, for me, nothing tops the Ahi Tuna. It was so fresh and so juicy. The seasoning was strong but not over powering. I could have eaten about three cups of it and I don’t even like fish.

So the next time you need to impress your foodie date, or just want some damn good food, head over to Urban Butcher for a taste your buds will never forget.

Five Reasons to See ‘Neighbors’

The Frat House vs. Family comedy just hit theaters this past Friday. It’ll be the perfect laugh to start your summer and here’s why:

baby bad-neighbours-baby

 5. Baby Stella

This little chunk keeps a smile on her face throughout most of the film, whether she’s dressed as Walter White, Dexter, or Seth Rogen and the rest of the cast. She, alone, is worth the watch.

dave franco

 4. Dave Franco plays an intellectual

 The brother of the man who can and does do all decides to show a bit of his intellectual side in Neighbors. He’s funny, still hot, and he seems to want a career besides making party history with the rest of his frat. Plus, straight-A student Pete will be a great juxtaposition to Franco’s drug selling, jail bait character in his other movie this summer, 22 Jump Street.

cute couple

 3. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne make a pretty cute couple.

They’re new parents who are trying to balance being parents and still feeling like they can have some fun. A really awesome part about their adventures against the frat house next door is watching them continue to be a kick ass team and be in love with each other. It’s a rarity in this type of film (or really in any film I’ve seen in the past year, I suppose) and it’s quite refreshing.

rose

 2. You might need to know how to milk a human woman one day.

I won’t give the whole scene away because it is something that everyone should experience personally, but when I say Rogen and Byrne make a good team, this scene is a big part of what I am referencing!

shirtless efron

 1. ZAC EFRON

 I will not deny the main reason I originally wanted to see this movie was because of the advertisements for the film, in which Efron barely ever has a shirt on. The movie, in this regard, does not disappoint. But leaving the theater I was actually quite impressed with Efron’s comedic chops, improvising seemingly just as well as Rogen. Plus… like… his shirt is off for most of the movie.

funny efron

Americanah

I devoured Americanah. The novel written by the now infamous voice from Beyonce’s “Flawless,” Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, is something that should be ingested and digested as soon as it touches your hands. It’s good for the soul.

The novel on its bookends is a story about two souls so clearly made for one another that it’s hard to imagine that anything could pull them apart. But it is in that pulling apart between countries and continents where the story really shines. Americanah is without a doubt a good love story—one that sucks you in and makes you want one of your own—but it is in the experiences that Ifemelu and Obinze have without one another that all of these truths about life spill out and fill its reader.

 Ifemelu, smart and without filter, leaves Nigeria during her junior year of college for the States. It is, of course, the plan for Obinze to meet her there in a few years when he is granted a visa. But when does life ever work out the way one plans?

While rediscovering (and recovering) who she really is, Ifemelu finds out what it is like to be a foreigner in another country, what it means to love but it not be enough, and the difficulties of being considered black in a country that is constantly denying its race problem, causing more tension and polarization than actually finding a solution. Lucky for us—Ifemelu starts a blog called “Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-­American Black” clueing us in to all of her thoughts along the way.

americanah pic.jpg

Americanah as a whole seamlessly drifts back and forth between time and across continents as our lovers grow up without one another. The book says things out loud that even in 2014 I’ve never seen in print. It’s honest without any signs of filtration, just like its protagonist. It is Adiche’s unraveling of the unspoken token things of cultures that is so nourishing for the reader. She talks freely about “taboo” subjects like black girls and natural hair and what it’s like being in an interracial relationship without dipping into the cliché; everything she writes feels real and honest and actually experienced.

Besides just speaking plain truths about race and culture in America, Adiche’s characters cannot be denied their realness. They are relatable in the way that in each character, you could pinpoint someone in your own life who so perfectly fits their description.

 Americanah is a hefty book, but reading it is more than worth it, it is a necessity.

Heartbreak Dream

This Australian songstress’s sound is distinction and nostalgia all wrapped up in one. Her new EP entitled Slow Dancing features a late 80s, early 90s sound that is pop at its best: oozing fun without losing feeling. And with lyrics like those featured in her EP, you’re bound to feel.

“It’s us colliding/ it’s never finding when we should say when/ it’s holding hands/ it’s making plans that we’re never keeping.”

The whole EP should be blasted and listened to on a loop but ‘Heartbreak Dream’ particularly deserves a good performance with your hair brush mic and mirror audience. For your listening pleasure…Ms. Betty Who

Five Reasons You Should Be Watching “About A Boy”

When I first heard that network television was going to take on About A Boy, I wrote it off. I’m rarely fond of books that have turned into movies—but the idea of a book turning into a Hugh Grant movie that then became a TV series seemed liked a generally bad 21 minutes of television. Fortunately for me, some friends of mine who are way less judgmental than I (apparently) am tuned in on opening night and convinced me to give the show a chance. The list below features the reasons why I now cannot stop watching this heartwarming little comedy—and the reasons you should give it a shot.

fnl

5. Friday Night Lights characters will guest star

The characters and the cast of FNL made their way into our hearts and if you are anything like me, you’ve spent the past 3 years watching shows and movies that you probably don’t even like just to see your favorite cast at it again (cough, cough PromJohn Carter). Tyra- errr I mean Adrianne Palicki guest starred in episode 6 of About A Boy and her character was just as quick witted as Tyra ever was (minus the Texas accent, plus a doctor’s coat). I’m sure more FNL cast members will find their way onto the show as Jason Katims is the show creator! Which brings me to reason number four.

parenthood

4. Jason Katims is the show creator

The man behind television’s best shows about family (and probably America!) is running About A Boy. He’s got a knack for writing characters that are so relatable and real, you start confusing what’s happened in his shows with what’s happened in your real life. Parenthood and Friday Night Lights are both shows whose performances and writing were unstated and spectacular and Katims is mostly to blame for these feats. His glow warms up About A Boy and it’ll probably warm up your heart a little too.

 minnie driver3. MINNIE DRIVER

Minnie Driver plays the mother of Marcus. Have you heard this woman speak? Have you seen Good Will Hunting? Need I say more?? 

boy 1

boy 2

boy 3

boy 4

boy 5

boy 6boy 7

boy 9

boy 10

2. Will & Marcus Make the Best Team

If you’re a fan of Parenthood you’ll know from episode one that Will, played by David Walton, is basically season one Crosby. He is also really attractive. Putting hot, irresponsible musician type with a sheltered, faux vegan ten-year-old named Marcus (Benjamin Stockham) is a truly winning combination. Their banter is funny, but together they are helping each other grow up and watching it is a treat.

About A Boy - Season Pilot

1. It’s only 21 minutes long.

Minus the commercials, it is 20 minutes, once a week that you will feel happy about the world. Sometimes it is a bit cheesy but its heartwarming nature is undeniable.

 

All of the episodes can be found on Hulu and Amazon. Get to it!!

 

Dreams

This youtube darling dropped her first official EP on Itunes this week entitled The Lonely One. With a dreamboat voice (and face at that!) it’s hard to imagine her as anything remotely close to lonely, but then again, aren’t all the best artists? Her voice is without flaw: seemingly perfect vibrato, control, and range. Her voice is good listening for the soul whether she’s singing her own tunes like “Keeping Me Waiting,” covering top ten hits like Rihanna’s “Stay,” or rock classics like “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac.

For your listening pleasure, Ms. Dana Williams…

All of My Favorite TV Characters Keep Dying

All of My Favorite TV Characters Keep Dying:

A Look At Six TV Deaths We’re Sure We Will Never Get Over

It’s in marketing’s nature for television shows to say that each episode is going to be “the most dramatic episode of television ever” or something as grandiose and obscene that writers can never really come through on. This year, however, it seems series aren’t afraid of killing off regulars. Although some shows are following the design that was made far before their existence (House of Cards), other shows are fearlessly murdering their main characters. Here are the most shocking character loses of the past four months.

 

Brian Griffin

brian

The death of this beloved dog from Family Guy was so shocking to fans that social media seemed to go up in flames with petitions against the dogs death. Alas, the death lasted only a few weeks, but like any beloved character, Brian’s death was truly a shocker to fans.

 

Clay Morrow

clay morrow

Sons of Anarchy fans knew that the end of Clay Morrow’s reign was inevitable, but it was still hard to see him go! As show creator Kurt Sutter told EW,  “As much as people say that they want Clay dead, they don’t want Clay dead…They want to see it be complicated. They want to see how Gemma feels about betraying Clay. They want to see how Juice feels about betraying. They want to see that play out even though they, in their gut, they know the guy should be dead.” Ahh, I guess in Morrow’s case, there is a little rest for the wicked.

 

 

Joss Carter

joss carter

Audiences were (umm, present tense ‘are’ still for some of us) devastated when Detective Carter was killed in this season’s Person of Interest. Commercials leading up to the episode all pointed in the direction that another character would be killed off, but when it was Carter who was taken down, fans immediately went to social media to express their outrage at the loss of good gal Carter. I guess that last moment between Carter and Reese became the literal kiss of death…

 

Zoe Barnes

zoe barnes

Okay! It is true that Zoe Barnes dies in the British version of House of Cards and so her death shouldn’t have been a big shocker. But somehow when (almost) President Underwood pushes feisty little Zoe in front of a moving subway train IN THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF SEASON TWO, I was waiting for some sign that this was a horrible day dream designed by Underwood.  Three episodes passed and I was still waiting for Zoe to reappear, alive and in tact. I hope Zoe is resting in some chair-less journalist heaven.

 

James Novak

james novak

Novak’s husband had almost gotten him bumped off before, but this time it seems Cyrus’ actions really got his own husband killed. Just when it seems Cyrus and James can pull it together and be a family, Shonda Rhimes and the Scandal writers (or “the crushers of all dreams” as I like to call them) decide to make sure former sweetheart Jake gruesomely kills James, and stays to watch him go. Rest in peace to the white hats, no?

 

Will Gardner

will gardner

As this death just happened only hours ago—with no warning and seemingly no real end game—it’s still a big shocker to me. Gardner’s chemistry with Alicia—their banter, their eye contact, their obvious pull to one another—is the main reason many fans continue to watch the Will-Alicia-Peter love triangle after FIVE seasons. The Kings had managed to keep writing the same love story without making their audience ever wish it would end. One thing audiences across the board (and I myself!) thought was that whenever The Good Wife ended, Alicia and Will would be hand-in-hand. Apparently we were all so very wrong.

There are exactly five stages of grief. I’ll let you know when I get past stage one.

The Fault In Our Stars

the_fault_in_our_stars_by_grodansnagel-d6rujir

The Fault In Our Stars is one of those intoxicating books that you shouldn’t begin unless you have free time to read it all in one sitting; it is the type of novel that makes you feel bad for doing the things that you actually need to do to survive like eat and/or sleep because even if you need to do them- that’s time spent away from reading the book.

The story centers around a teenage girl obsessed with the concept (and the actuality) of death. Hazel Grace, as one of the main characters of the novel likes to call her, has the typical “emo” high school girl feel except she has a legitimate reason for feeling all of the feels: most of the sixteen years of her life have been spent battling cancer. Hazel would hate it if she saw that someone wrote a description of her as someone who is “battling” cancer, as someone who is also offended and over most of the cliché language involved with cancer patients and survivors. Still, every week her mom forces her to go to a support group for young cancer patients. It’s here in this group that Hazel meets Augustus Waters and the real story of The Fault In Our Stars begins.

No spoiler here, Augustus and Hazel fall in love and reading their love story—being swept up in their adventures through life and love intertwined with the painful reality of cancer is an experience unlike any other. Yes, their story is heartbreaking, but I laughed in the book a lot more than I cried. Hazel and Augustus are faced with unimaginable circumstances and it has shaped their thoughts and their humor (and, of course, their lives). But, I won’t ruin their story with my words, because, as Hazel says, “like all real love stories—it will die with us, as it should.”

The Fault In Our Stars is exactly the kind of novel worthy of your precious time- gorgeously literary, laugh out loud funny, and irresistibly beautiful.

IMG_4081

The movie adaptation hits theaters on June 6!