surrender becomes power

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Maybe there’s no such thing as a 100% terrible movie that you get absolutely nothing out of? No, really. Hear me out. There are many, many epically bad films out there but is there always at least something redeeming we can pull out of a movie? For example, there are lots of films that I love which are really awful pieces of shit that no human being should sit through. Yet due to their campiness and sheer horrible nature they somehow become accidentally hilarious and genius. I mean watch Starship Troopers or Showgirls or Center Stage and tell me didn’t enjoy them in the same way you enjoy a bag of Cheetos. It’s not good for you but you sort of don’t care. As a lifelong movie nerd, I came to the hard realization years ago that not every movie is supposed to save your life. Maybe the writing is atrocious, the performances ridiculous and the entire production a bloated mess and you can still get something out of it? Or maybe not. But surprisingly, I did actually get something out of Suicide Squad when I watched it the other night.

Oh, this isn’t to say that I thought Suicide Squad wasn’t a bad movie. It’s a really bad movie. It’s a movie so bad that I found myself shaking my head in disbelief for the entire overstuffed 2 hours and change of the film. It’s so bad that it comes real close to becoming the kind of camp Camille Paglia wrote about. The kind of camp kids get stoned to watch and make fun of. And perhaps in time it will become that sort of camp. But for now it’s just a really big budget film where seemingly everything went wrong.

The film, in case you didn’t know/didn’t care, is based on a DC comic where a team of popular villains is brought together to fight against, uh I think, it’s alien terrorists? Sure, let’s go with that. Bless the poor person at Wikipedia who spent 1,100 words writing about the plot of this film because trying to describe it is like trying to describe a cup of noodles that got spilled on a compost bin which was then accidentally set on fire. But if that poor soul at Wikipedia can do it, I’m willing to give it my best shot, dammit! Anyway, this group includes Will Smith as Deadshot, a human machine gun who’s real superpower is making Will Smith the least annoying actor in the cast, Harley Quinn, a twisted sledgehammer wielding riot girl who looks like every girl you smoked crack with at a rave, a crocodile guy, a cholo who can set stuff on fire and some Aussie a-hole with biceps and a boomerang. They were recruited by Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis who must have lost a bet to wind up in this shitshow) who now–get this– controls their lives by an app on her phone which can kill members of the squad if they step out of line. From there, it’s a whirlwind of explosions and guffaw inducing plot twists until the big action packed showdown at the film’s climax.

In a film packed to the gills with awful stuff, I’ll narrow it down to two elements that were noteworthy. First off, the acting is really, really bad. When Viola Davis, whom I always find to be a tad over the top, gives the most nuanced performance, we are in trouble. Margot Robbie looks the part but she’s sports a Jersey accent that fades in and out from every scene. Let’s just say she does better in scenes where she kicks ass. Jared Leto as the Joker has already been given a place in history as one of the worst Jokers of all time and rightfully so. Nicholson is still the best movie Joker, by the way, and this is not open for discussion. Every scene he’s in is cringe worthy which is too bad because I’m a fan of Leto, the freaky androgynous sensitive actor/musician. But decked out in gold pants, bad tattoos and a grill(!), his Joker is a joke.

Secondly, the music. Oh my god. Look, I could have picked the script, the direction or the editing to talk about but the sheer shittiness of this soundtrack tell you all you need to know about Suicide Squad. I mean it has an Eminem song on it, for crying out loud. Eminem is musical late night Taco Bell. Sure, lots of people must do it but nobody talks about it. Yet here it is right in your face: an Eminem song and an old one at that! But given that the track shares soundtrack space with “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Super Freak” and “Spirit in the Sky”, we can only assume that the film’s music supervisor was a wedding deejay from Orange County.

I spent my two hours with Suicide Squad laughing and rolling my eyes and occasionally checking the time readout on HBONow. It’s a slog and a disaster but I had a good laugh watching it. I won’t recommend it unless you’re like me and enjoy a really bad movie from time to time. In which case, please watch it and report back to me so we can make fun of it together. Still, believe it or not, I actually got something out of it and it came from Jared Leto’s bling covered mouth:

“Desire becomes surrender. Surrender becomes power.” – The Joker

He says it in a scene, which in an act of some kind of movie PTSD I’ve forgotten, but it’s a line I couldn’t forget. After all, the whole idea of surrendering becoming power is what recovery is all about. I didn’t get my power back until I could surrender to the fact that I had a problem. And the amazing thing about this power of surrender is that once you do it, you surrender all of the time and get even more power from doing it. Omg, Joker. Mind.Blown. But in all seriousness, this is an incredible concept and when I’m in a spiritually fit place, I can still surrender. I’ve surrender about financial situations, relationships, my physical limitations, my character defects. Through this act, I get power back which sounds nuts. But it’s certainly been my experience. If I’m in the right place, I’m surrendering all day long– even if it’s just surrendering to how terrible a movie is and enjoying it anyway.

Aquaman is bae (and always has been)

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Monday morning confession? The first man to ever capture my heart wore orange and green spandex and lived under the sea.  Now as a six-year-old in the late 70’s, I wasn’t exactly sexually “woke.” I just knew on some level that Aquaman, this hunky, blonde often seen riding abnormally large seahorses around, was my “favorite.” Sure, he’s often made fun of for being useless and if you made me pinpoint his exact powers I’d fail miserably. But on some level my childhood heart knew that out of the Super Friends men he’d probably be the best boyfriend. I mean Batman? That dude has too many issues. And let’s be honest, Superman is a snoozefest. After one spin on his super human penis, you’d probably get bored and want him to shut up.  At least Aquaman could communicate with dolphins and is too cool to live among terrible landlocked humans.  Plus, he wasn’t in too many episodes of The Super Friends incarnation I watched (technically Challenge of the Super Friends if we’re going to get really nerdy here) which made him feel more rare and exotic. He just seemed sort of dreamy to my childhood self and I really couldn’t explain it. So when the internet starting freaking out again out Aquaman, I couldn’t help feel like my forbidden feelings for this fishman were finally vindicated.

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A whole lot edgier and more in your face, the current incarnation of Aquaman looks just like my childhood crush. That is if my childhood crush went to The Warped Tour, opened a tattoo studio on Venice Beach and smoked weed everyday. Folks from all over comic book fandom have been drooling over the new Aquaman, played by Game of Thrones super hunk Jason Momoa. The fanning and fainting hit a fever pitch last week when a new Justice League teaser was dropped online. “Finally, Aquaman is cool!” is one of the comments I read from some blog most certainly more qualified than I to yammer about anything comic book related. But to me, he’d always been cool.

First of all, I was always obsessed with mermaids and people who lived underwater. In a pre-Ariel world, it seemed exotic. Like here were humanlike species who lived a better and more peaceful existence underwater away from all of our bullshit and baggage. In fact, sounds pretty damn appealing in the post-Trump world too.  Later on Splash with Darryl Hannah would send my mermaid obsession into complete overdrive. But with Aquaman it was always a just a glimpse into that world and a shoddily animated and brief glimpse, at that. Still it felt romantic and innocent. Though later animated versions of Aquaman were definitely more overtly sexy and daddy-ish. Like this one from the early 2000’s Justice League:

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or this studly 2008 re-imagining from Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

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Other than a lifelong obsession with Wonder Woman, one of which included me dressing up as her in kindergarten and lead to a tattoo of the goddess in my late twenties, my comic book knowledge is limited. Therefore I can’t really speak of Aquaman’s literary world and what it looks like beyond what I saw as a kid on The Superfriends. But as a cartoon pretend boyfriend, he fit the bill nicely, as odd as that might sound.

Talk to any gay man, however and you’ll discover that nearly all of them had a cartoon man crush growing up. For a certain generation, He-Man did the trick. With the muscles, loin cloth and very gay tiger, it’s easy to see why. However, if I was going to go there with someone from that universe, there’s no question it would have to be Bow from She-Ra. With his Tom of Finland moustache and kinky outfits, he’s kind of the most out of the closet 80’s cartoon character ever. May I submit exhibit A, a photo of Bow with He-Man.

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Likewise, I’ve heard Aladdin or Trent Lane from Daria.dc84548ae0eef52ceb76948b3421b486.gif

Both completely crushable and perfect imaginary boyfriend material. Peter Pan, Scooby Doo’s Fred, Gambit, John Smith from Pocahontas, Johnny Bravo and of course Gaston of Beauty and the Beast who’s momentary shirtlessness caused many a sexual awakening for gay boys of certain era.

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Even my own husband confessed to having a pre-pubescent crush on Captain Planet. Clearly, there’s an age gap between me and the mister. I guess the thing about cartoon boyfriends is that they seem safe. We know they’re not real but their looks and personalities are something aspirational. #BoyfriendGoals, if you will.

For me and my boo Aquaman, it was on a subliminal level. Like I had these feelings about him and I was too young and naive and too Catholic to understand them but making him my favorite was sufficient enough in the romance department. My non-romance with Aquaman later lead way to a “funny feeling” at age 11 when I watched Adam Ant in leather pants perform “Strip” on Saturday Night Live which opened the door to future crushes on Billy Idol, George Michael and every male gymnast, swimmer or diver at the 1984 Summer Olympics. And while I didn’t exactly wind up with a blonde who hangs out with dolphins and lives under the sea, I did marry somebody who is incredibly kind and compassionate, things cartoon heroes like Aquaman always were.

All of which is to say, I’m ready to relinquish my imaginary boyfriend Aquaman to a new generation of sexually naive gay boys across the globe with the slight satisfaction that he was mine first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

she’s got the power

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Some battles just aren’t yours to fight. Sometimes the best you can do is cheer from the sidelines. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little excited about the march on Washington this Saturday. With over 1,800 bus permits issued (about 1,600 more than that tragic ass event happening the day before) and over 100,000 people expected to attend, I will admit to having serious FOMO. As man with three nieces, one sister, oodles of female friends, cousins and coworkers, I love women. In fact, growing up it was always, “Sean and the girls.” I had found my allies at an early age and it didn’t matter that we were of different genders. What mattered is that we liked hanging out together. Girls always had my back and protected me and I, in turn, would make them laugh. It was a simple and mutually beneficial agreement that lead to beautiful friendships starting around the age of 5.  Couple this with the presence of badass women in pop culture of the 70’s and 80’s (everything from Pat Benatar and Jem to Wonder Woman and Debbie Harry and She-Ra and beyond) and I was as girl crazy as any boy who didn’t actually like girls could be.

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That’s why right now in history seems pretty darn special.  So yeah we don’t have a woman president. I noticed, dammit. But energetically, maybe that doesn’t matter. There’s something bigger going on. Pardon the joke but a force perhaps? I felt it last week when I was watching Rogue One at the movies. I don’t need to explain why a 44-year-old man was at the first showing of a Star Wars movie on a Tuesday. I’m grown up. I do what I want. Suffice to say, me, a guy who looked like Larry David and a man with a lumberjack beard all seemed to enjoy this little matinée. Besides being an awful amount of well-paced, well-constructed fun, Rogue One stood out because of its casting. With relative ease, it put people of color, people with accents and a woman in leading roles. Translation: something we’re not used to seeing in a Hollywood blockbuster. It wasn’t a stretch or something that felt forced having a female lead character propel the action. After all, this is the franchise that gave us Princess Leia. And excuse me, when I was a kid we also had Linda Hamilton and Sigourney Weaver regularly kicking ass. But this feels timely and kind of punk rock especially for a country currently hell-bent on rewarding untalented, straight, white assholes.

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Clearly, I know that having a female lead in a blockbuster sci-fi series isn’t the same as the government staying the fuck out of women’s bodies and equal pay but it’s a message. One of thousands right now, as a matter of fact. Without getting all corny here, I’ll say that I’m a big believer in the more twinkling lights of hope from as many sources as possible, the better. Consider Queen Sugar, a series for OWN with every episode directed by a different female director. Or Hidden Figures with its predominately black female cast, which is currently number one at the box office for the third week in a row. Or perhaps the fact that even my beloved Wonder Woman is finally coming to the big screen. I talk a lot about how the presence of recovery storylines in the media is important for my podcast as well as in my gig over at AfterParty Magazine. When people see folks getting sober on television in their living room, a spark happens. It feels relatable and real even if it’s only coming from a sitcom or movie. It’s the same with representation. As a gay man, I think I know this as well as anyone. (I mean what was the last movie with a gay lead character that wasn’t tragic or in the closet? I’ll wait.) All of these films and television shows are a start but yeah it isn’t enough.

Some 700 words later, I’ve changed my mind. Maybe this is my battle too. Despite lacking a vagina, I get it on a cellular level. And I’m thrilled that they’re pissed off, that we’re pissed off. All good things happen when we finally say, “I’ve  finally had enough.” Just ask any sober addict. In times like the ones we’re approaching, I honestly think the only way we’ll survive is by saying, “I’m sorry you’re hurting. I understand and I’m hurting too. And fuck them.” Mainly that last part. We need one another more than ever. Know that me and others like me are marching next to you. If not in person, certainly in spirit and for the next four years too. So for all the times you had my back, women of the world, now is my hour to have yours. For the honor of Grayskull, as my girl She-Ra would say.

everybody’s a little bit Liza

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Maybe it’s because we’re both adult children of alcoholics of the elite ninja level. Maybe it’s just a rite of passage for every gay man transitioning out of youth and into uh, shall we say, more mature years. Maybe it has something to do with he fact that her whole life seems to be covered in rhinestones and glitter. Whatever it is, the older I get the more I love Liza Minnelli. As I watched this week’s Sloshed Cinema film, Arthur from 1981, I found myself waiting for her to pop back up on-screen. Sure, some of that had to do with the film’s now downright offensive screen portrayal of an alcoholic and craving an escape from Dudley Moore’s buffoonish performance but mostly it had to do with her sheer Liza-ness. It’s the throwaway sassy girlfriend role so frequently found in 1980’s comedies to be sure. Minnelli, at this stage of her career already a Broadway legend and an Oscar winner probably just needed the paycheck .Yet it doesn’t matter because within seconds of appearing in the film, in that red cowboy hat and yellow raincoat, we’re smitten with her just like Arthur is. There’s just something about her that crackles on every level regardless of how underwritten the role is. Granted, razzamatazz was something she was probably born with. I mean she can’t help it. Even sitting at a piano singing on a talk show in the 1970’s, she’s dialed up to an 11. And gloriously so.

Being the daughter of Judy Garland sparkly showbiz just runs through her veins. Yet there’s always been more to her too. A sadness. A desperation. A loneliness and usually along with those things comes addiction and self-destruction. Liza’s battles with drug use are well chronicled (probably another reason why I’m drawn to her). According to lore, her dependency on Valium kicked into a high gear when her mom died in 1969. There’s even a legendary Warhol diary entry where he writes Liza arrived at Halston’s apartment in 1978 and declared, “Give me every drug you got.” My kind of girl.

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photo by Warhol, dress by Halston, drama by Liza

By the mid-80’s when I was massively consuming pop culture and not drugs (not yet anyway) Liza was doing guest spots, tours and lesser film roles (Rent-a-Cop with Burt Reynolds anyone?). Like any good addict, she’d been in rehab a few times and had a few terrible, short-lived marriages. Thus she wasn’t really on my radar. In this time frame obsessing about Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Boy George were full-time jobs, leaving little room for a Broadway star from yesteryear. It wasn’t until I moved to Los Angeles in the 1990’s was I quickly educated by older wiser gay men that Liza is a genius and must be revered as such. I watched Cabaret for the first time in adulthood and had my mind blown open.

I was also sat down in front of her classic Bob Fosse directed television special Liza with a Z. 

I was even turned on to her Results record, a guilty pleasure of the highest order that she recorded with the Pet Shop Boys in 1989.

Later career Liza wasn’t always the prettiest. Like this call-your-sponsor worthy performance from the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary performance from 2001.

But time and Liza Minnelli both march on. Last year, she was in rehab once again for painkillers (she was pill popping way before we called it opioid addiction, y’all) and like clockwork the minute she got out, she was spotted singing at clubs and on stages. Back and forth from legend to camp to trainwreck and back again, the woman is human teflon. And this might be her real appeal to me.

In my old home group, we had woman who, god love her, could not stay sober. She would get 4 months and relapse. She’d get 6 months and relapse. She’d pick up 30 days and go back out. After a long disappearance, I heard this gal is now sober and recently celebrated 2 years. I wanted to burst into applause when a friend told me this. What can I say? I love a good comeback story, including my own. Humans,especially addicts and alcoholics, can crawl back from some pretty gnarly times. Given her heritage and where she comes from, its remarkable Liza has been able to survive. Turning 70 last spring, she’s already outlasted mama Judy Garland by 23 years. She’s changed a tragic family legacy, even with stumbles off the wagon and bumps in the road. This is miraculous not just for Hollywood royalty but for anybody.The fact that we can change inevitable tragic endings and changed doomed old behaviors is truly magic.

So maybe I love Liza for just the razzle dazzle. Maybe a fucking great film like Cabaret is enough to cement a person’s superstar status. But maybe it’s more. Maybe all of our collective comebacks and failures are actually helping other people too. Maybe we keep just trying and that alone is enough.

Listen to my thoughts on Liza, Dudley Moore & Arthur on an all-new Sloshed Cinema! 

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“Holy shit. Not another fucking Robin Williams meeting.”

I remember thinking that a little over two years ago today. I was thinking this and fuming as I sat in one of those rooms where people who have what I have talk about trying not to drink, do drugs or kill themselves. It was a horrible thought to have, granted. But since his passing a week earlier, I had literally been to 7 meetings where the topic was how fucking sad people were that Robin Williams had died. I mean, I got it. I got that he was a special part of people’s childhoods. I got that for this dark and sad group of people, his comedy probably provided a lot of joy to folks who normally didn’t have any. I got that he was an addict like ourselves and whenever one of our own passes, its horribly heartbreaking, whether they’re famous or not. I got all of this and I was still annoyed. I’m gay and alcoholic so in truth me being annoyed probably didn’t have anything to do with Robin Williams. Annoyed is just sometimes my old crusty default setting. I was probably just irritated that we weren’t talking about me in these meetings and that we were obsessed with the celestial being that was Robin Williams.

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As you may have picked up on, I am a movie snob and a half. Therefore, the later half of Williams’ career is something I resolutely turned my nose up at. Basically,1998’s Patch Adams and everything that followed it can be filed in Sean’s NMKOM (Not My Kind of Movie) file. Fluffy family stuff and flatulence based comedies are not my jam so the charms of films like Old Dogs, World’s Greatest Dad and License to Wed would most likely be lost on me. Still, as a performer his power was impossible to deny. I liked him best on stage and unhinged. Like most addicts, he was at his best when he was outrageous and honest. Like here when he talks about alcoholism.

When he died, before hearing sober people yammer about him for a week, I remembered my own Robin Williams moment from 2006. He came into the restaurant on Sunset Blvd where I used to work. It was one of those locals-and-cool-people-only places tucked away in and he was with a regular customer, Bobcat Goldthwait. They had just come from a meeting, Williams told us. His battles with drugs and alcohol were well-chronicled so he clearly embraced this part of this personality and seemed open about it. Seeing as it was a crowded Saturday night and the place was tiny, Williams and Goldthwait were undoubtedly in a fishbowl. It struck me how good-natured and sweet he was for a guy who was clearly being gawked at and watched. By this time he’d been famous for decades and overcome a lot of demons so he handled that dining room and everything with the kind of charm you’d expect from a star like Robin Williams. I was far, far, far from sober in 2006 therefore the triumphs in his personal life, like much of his film resume, were also lost on me. Suffice to say, two years after his death, I actually get it.

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Here in 2016, the battle to overcome mental illness and addiction is still very real. Sadly, maybe even worse than it was then. With an exploding heroin epidemic and a healthcare system stacked against mental illness, Williams’ effort to simply stay afloat is nothing short of heroic. We know now that Williams’ committed suicide in 2014, something more than one of us on this journey has certainly thought about. Personally, a shocking relapse in my inner-circle of early recovery has my own head spinning today. Someone I love with years of recovery is no longer sober. It’s as simple and heartbreaking as that. So I guess what I need to tell myself on August 11th while thinking about Robin Williams and my dear friend is that I need to stay. I need to keep going and keep fighting. More than that, I want to. When doubt creeps in and tells me it’s too hard, I need to tell it to kindly fuck off and keep moving. Because, as a movie snob and a half, I know in my heart that a tragic ending is not the only way for this to end.

Listen to Sloshed Cinema Season 1 Now!

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Once upon a time,  a gay man obsessed with films and sobriety living in a marijuana filled forest reached out to a podcasting wizard. This wizard, wizard in like a magic kind of way not like a KKK kind of way, specialized in creating stimulating conversations about recovery and hence Sloshed Cinema was born! 

I mean. That’s basically what happened. We (we being me and Chris of the Since Right Now Network) thought wouldn’t it be fun/entertaining/provocative to talk about movies that talk about drinking? I’d pick a different movie every week and for 30 minutes, I’d ramble on about the film and how it relates to recovery and all the while I’d really be talking about myself. 10 episodes later, this show that was an idea, is now a reality. And now you can listen to our entire first season! In it I talk about new films like Burnt with Bradley Cooper and I Smile Back With Sarah Silverman, classic films like The Days of Wine and Roses and really campy films like Less Than Zero as well as the latest news and views from the corner of pop culture and recovery.

Listen to our first season here or here!

And Sloshed Cinema will be back in July with all new episodes.

Shoshanna On My Mind: Hearting HBO’s Side Characters

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Perhaps all of this is Samantha Jones’ fault.

My husband recently watched all of the seasons of Sex and the City. He’d never see them combo’d with the fact we just got HBO Now. The show has done some really fucking weird aging, by the way. Like nearly everything Carrie and Big do, which I once considered romantic, is kind of the most deplorable behavior ever which makes people the globe over despise American straight people. I used to want a Big and Carrie kind of love but now I realize I used to also really hate myself. The show also has some,shall we say, “whimsical racism” and backward homophobia- which is fucking bizarre considering the whole thing was pretty much written by gay dudes. I had a hard time rewatching the episodes for these reasons but I’d get stuck in an episode, thanks largely in part to Samantha Jones. Samantha Jones to this day remains the sole survivor of the group who you’d actually want to hang out with and who wouldn’t make you want to step in front speeding New York City bus. She’s the only one who tells the truth, she’s the only one whose personality doesn’t make you die inside and of course, she has all of the good one liners.  All of this Samatha-ness made me think, in a very Carrie Bradshaw way, “I started to wonder did I love HBO shows or did I just like the side characters?” Cue the burning cigarette as I type on a vintage Mac.

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I suppose I should give you some background info: The reason we went down the HBO Now rabbit hole to begin with is because of Game of Thrones. Look, I didn’t want to nerd out over some goddamn fantasy series. Really. But the storytelling is so good I had no choice. And now I’m some sheep all invested in these sword wielding weirdos. Such is life. Instead of getting cable or waiting until the series comes out on DVD(which we had been doing) we chose HBO Now. It was a good choice. I am invested in Game of Thrones despite really hating the poorly plotted mountain of misogynistic garbage that was season 5. A lot of that has to do with the characters too. Just so we are clear- a great Game of Thrones episode for me contains one or all of the following:

  1. Direwolves
  2. Tryion Lannister
  3. Dragons
  4. Brienne of Muthafucking Tarth

I don’t have time for 45 minutes of Sansa whining or John Snow brooding in a corner. Ditto whatever bullshittery they’ve cooked up with the Red Woman or the assortment of a-holes currently ruining the North at a snail’s pace. But I will put up with these things however if an episode has some great, juicy character stuff. Four minutes with Lord Varys or Davos, for example, can make some other not terrific scenes easier to digest. In general, I think season 6 is back on track because of that very thing. We are getting more character stuff and faster moving storylines that push along the action. And this season has had some incredible (if not heartbreaking) scenes featuring all of my favorite GOT things. And 10 minutes of Brienne with a sword goes a long, long way in my book.

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So the side characters aren’t the only reason I heart GOT but what about other HBO shows? We’ve also added Silicon Valley to the rotation. While I think Mike Judge is probably the best comedic chronicler of the mundane, this show has a lead character problem. Richard, our protagonist programmer waffles between endearing dorky and “Oh. My. God. Dude. Get it together”-ness. His dorkiness can also morph into uppity and judgey (says the guy judging fictional characters from his computer) and he can be hard to root for when you want to smack him in the head. Thank god for Jared, Dinesh and Gilfoyle. These side characters mixed in with an assortment of Silicon Valley tech misfits make Richard palatable. When the show is brilliant (and it frequently is) it lets these geniuses with zero social skills flounder in the real world and finds big laughs in parodying this universe that creates tech superstars. Plus, every single line that Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh delivers is comedy gold. The guy can say more with his eyebrows than any other actor on the planet. This is a compliment, by the way. Dinesh and Gilfoyle are the frenemy, genius progression of Judge’s own Beavis and Butthead and utterly entertaining to watch.

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The one thing that all of these HBO shows have in common is fantastic casts. Casts so fantastic that they can, at times, make up for the weak parts of the show as a whole. Which brings us to Shoshanna. Shoshanna Shapiro, for those uninitiated, is quirky, motor-mouthed mess of early 20-something emotions who steals every scene in Girls. According to tv trivia, Shoshanna was intended to be a single episode character but I’m glad she’s stuck around. There’s a lot of feelings about Girls out there on the internet and a lot of feelings about Lena Dunham. While I don’t want to wade in well-tread waters, I will admit I certainly fell into the “this whole thing annoys the shit out of me” camp when the show first came out. But we’ve watched the first three seasons and I gotta say I’ve changed my mind. I mean yes the narrative can be shrill and annoying but I think that’s really accurate for the age of people they’re portraying. And when Dunham finds the funny in situations, the show actually soars. Shoshanna, played with comic precision by Zosia Mamet, personifies what’s brilliant about Girls. Simultaneously a parody of 20-something girls as well as a lost lamb in the New York City woods, Mamet pulls off a hell of a hat trick by creating a character that we both laugh at and root for. For the 40 scenes where you want to throttle Marnie and Hannah, you get one scene with Shoshanna and all is nearly forgiven. Point being, I’m sticking it out with Girls through its current season because I hear it keeps getting better and because it means I’ll get more Shoshanna time.

So wait. Did I even answer my own question? Did Carrie ever answer her questions? Who the hell knows. What I do know is an overflow of good side characters means there’s quality writing happening out there in HBO land and in TV land in general. Writers are clearly doing their thang if they can create people we want to see week after week, even it’s only for a few fleeting moments.

Cue the jazzy saxophone over the end credits.