Wednesday, October 30, 2019

TV: Truth in television?

Truth.  So many pursue it, even more obscure it.


We kept thinking about that last week.  We especially thought about it Thursday while watching WILL AND GRACE.

We weren't surprised about the havoc Debra Messing was creating on the set.  We weren't surprised and we warned about it ("NBC has a hateful bitch problem on their hands").   Just like we warned, before it happened, that Charlie Sheen would implode:

We're not sure what's going to kill the show first, the loss of a lead-in to hand  viewers to them or the fact that Sheen's offscreen antics may no longer have the buffer of Denise Richards. Probably not a good idea to build a "family sitcom" (no matter how leering) around a man more famous in the nineties as a client of Heidi Fleiss than for anything he did onscreen. In fact his rap sheet is far more impressive than his filmography. Let's just deal with the most recent "hits:" Arrested for assault in 1996, arrested for battery in 1997, hospitalized for an overdose in 1998 and fresh off probation as the decade began, Sheen's colorful, not so distant past may have blotted away memories of the zombie walk through performances of Major League II, Terminal Velocity, The Arrival and the lot but they didn't make him a good actor.
How much does CBS want to get behind this show now that Swinging Sheen is single again? How much are they willing to stake the network's future on it? There are grumblings that the wrong show was moved to Wednesdays (Still Standing) and concern that one new tabloid headline could make the trash seem far less funny. We'd say those are good concerns and possibly the answer here would have been to never have put this crap on the air.
And while considering that, we'd add a question of our own: How much does CBS hate women? That's the question we're left with after watching Two and a Half Men.

So we weren't really surprised -- months ago -- when we heard from people with the show that Debra was out of control as we had maintained.  Last Thursday, Rebecca noted there was obvious tension between Megan Mullally  and Debra in their one scene together.  Their one scene.  Grasp that.

But what we found more shocking was the pregnancy.  Grace is pregnant again.  Again?

Yes, season eight.  One of the all time worst storylines ever.

We get it.  Debra Messing has ballooned and then some.  You can't hide her girth any more than you can hide her thinning hair (we cringe anytime she parts in the middle and creates that deep valley of visible skin).  There aren't a lot of things you can do with that.

When the actress was actually pregnant years ago, the show had hide her belly, create a storyline where she ate constantly and then wrote her out of an episode.

That was actually better for the show than the Grace pregnancy storyline.  Who can forget, for example, Jack graduating from nursing school.  The whole episode, Grace was supposedly asleep in her bedroom.  While Will crafted Jack's speech (using an old play Will had written in college as source material), they forgot to wake up Grace.  Something they remembered at the ceremony.  It was a hilarious episode with many laughs.  And best of all: No Grace.

Many have argued over the years that the program should have been entitled KAREN AND JACK.  Megan and Sean Hayes are the icing on the cake for most episodes.  But Will (Eric McCormack) has been a valuable player in the show in numerous ways.  Eric McCormack

Debra?  She's always been the parsley, take her away and no one notices.  

We wrote about WILL & GRACE during its original run -- we wrote about it numerous times.  This isn't the first time Debra's caused problems.  In 2005, she was causing problems.

Debra thought she had a career as a movie star just around the corner.  Like her character Grace, she mistook herself for Julia Roberts and even the fact that THE WEDDING DATE bombed in 2005 couldn't dissuade her.  She just knew she was bound to be a movie star.  And, this is where the problem came in, she just knew it was all the big laughs she was getting for Grace's outfits that were hurting her chances at a movie career.  No, dear, it was the fact that you were 42 -- a little old (a lot old) to become a movie star.  For a reference point, much was made in 1992 when Sharon Stone became a movie star off of BASIC INSTINCT.  No one, industry insiders noted over and over, became a star 'that old.'  Sharon was only 34 at the time.

But plot point aside, did anyone stop to point out that Lucille Ball focused on being a clown on I Love Lucy? People didn't love Lucy because she wore designer clothes, they loved her because she was funny.

Part of what made Grace so funny was her outlandish style. Her fashion choices reflected that she didn't have it all together so, when she got off a mean spirited barb, it was funny because she was such a mess. Now days, Grace often just comes off as bitchy. The same sort of lines once spoken by wacky Grace sailed right over home plate, but with Fashion Grace saying them, they leave an after taste.

I LOVE LUCY.  Lucille Ball.  A true TV star.  America loved her, America still loves her.  Lucille Ball, in films in the 30s and 40s and 50s, could be very glamorous and exotic.  She was often a leading actress in films, a leading lady.  She was not, however, a movie star.  TV was the format on which she became a star.  And she did it by making us laugh, not by making us 'ooooh'  and 'aaaah' over her fashion choices.

Being a TV star wasn't enough for Debra.  She had no appreciation.  As Maria McKee sings, "Why wasn't I more grateful, Tell me why wasn't I more grateful, when life was sweet."

Debra tried to be anything but Grace in the years that followed the 2008 conclusion of WILL & GRACE.  She tried being THE STARTER WIFE and was a full fledged failure in that show (she's no Jennifer Aniston).  Ten episodes and USA didn't want to see any more of it.  In 2012, she tried to be the more glamorous and more successfully romantic character on SMASH.  The producers didn't think it worked.  The producers didn't think she worked.  Which is why the second season found her with so little to do and the producers added one young character after another.  Now we praised Debra for this role (and we stand by that).  But, yet again, she was trying to be something other than funny.  Next up was THE MYSTERIES OF LAURA.  Again, not a comedy though it did have a comedic element.  Again, we praised her and, also, we praised the show.  The second season struggle but the first season was solid (and that includes Debra).  But America didn't buy her in this role either and this was her third low rated series that viewers really avoided.

Three strikes and you're out.  Or, rather, as Tina Turner sang, you're "back where you started."  So that's when Debra's happy to be a part of a sitcom again (or at least willing to cash the checks) and we get the WILL & GRACE reboot.

We knew there was going to be trouble.  Debra is fat and she's balding and she was only returning to a sitcom because it was the only work she could get.  Add in that she now fancied herself 'political.'  This is the bitch -- we use the term with all consideration -- remember who was a TV star as Bully Boy Bush went to war on Iraq.  A war that still goes on, by the way.  And our 'political' Debra never said "boo."  Not one word was spoken by Debra.  2008 rolled around and Hillary Clinton was hit with the most vicious sexist attacks.  If you were reading this site back then (or checked the archives after the fact), you know that we defended Hillary against sexism.  Hell, we defended Sarah Palin, Cynthia McKinney and Rose Clemente against sexism.  Sexism is outrageous and needs to be called out.  Debra?  She didn't say boo.  But in 2015, she was all about calling out sexism -- real and imagined -- if it was about Hillary.  She herself was sexist in her attacks on Susan Sarandon and, of course, didn't know what she was talking about -- confusing foreign countries with US colleges, for example).  And since then she's considered herself 'political.'

She is not.

She is partisan.

There is a difference.

Two movie stars were political in the 70s.  Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave.  Both are incredible actresses (and, as we often note, Jane gave the best performance in a film -- actor or actress -- when she made KLUTE.  Both were political -- speaking out against racism, speaking out against war, speaking out against sexism.  Jane spent her downtime on the set making calls on various political issues.  She didn't proselytize to the crew or other actors.  Vanessa, by contrast, liked to speak with other actors and crew members about the issues, she would invite them to join her for evening teaching sessions, etc.  Jane denies this but others believe it's true: When they worked on JULIA, Jane felt she saw a glimpse of what she could have been and didn't like it.  She didn't want to be the person who was always talking politics to people, spending every moment of the day trying to persuade people because they were basically hostages -- both of the film set and of her own fame -- and knowing that most were pretty much set in their belief system already.  (Shirley MacLaine has always been similar -- about her politics and about her spirituality.  If someone -- cast or crew -- is interested, she'll gladly enter into a conversation but she's not going to try to hard sell anyone on her beliefs.)

Debra isn't political.  She's partisan.  And, check her non-stop Twitter feed, she's obsessed with Donald Trump.  Everything he says, does or Tweets, she feels, requires an immediate response from her.  Everything.  If her Twitter feed is annoying -- and it is -- imagine having to work with her.

She's a DNC talking point explosion.  She's not smart enough to work on issues because that would require actual thought.  So she just spits out whatever others say and pretends she's informed.  She can't have a fun day, she can't have a laugh, she's suffers from a Christ complex (and she's Jewish) and we knew this was going to end badly (which is why we warned it all that time ago).  She storms around the set, a knuckle dragging hothead, always ready to explode and bend your ear about Trump.

He's not that important.  Seriously, people, get a life.  If we do what's needed, he can be voted out in 13 months.  Obsessing over him not only lets him steal your joy, it lets him steal your power.  We work on real issues.  We don't have time for the Trump hysteria -- our lives actually matter to us.

We feel for those who have to work with Debra -- including those who've called to say, "You don't know how right you were."

That's the truth about Debra (and the trouble with her).  And the trouble with Grace?  That they've given her another pregnancy storyline.  The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief on

September 28, 2017 when Karen emerged from a drug induced fugue and we learned that the plot of season 8 was all her dream -- Will and Grace had not really married their partners that year, they had not gone on to have children.  If you missed the hideous ending of season eight (and the end of the series originally) you can refer to our real time piece.

Grace's pregnancy was bad in real time.  After the series ended, it only got worse.  Season eight ended with the end of Will and Grace, they were no longer friends.  Her pregnancy made Princess Grace a bit of prig and a bit of a problem.  So the friendship ended.  The show then flash forwarded to both their kids in college and Will and Grace bumping into one another and deciding to have a coffee because that's what shallow-no-longer-best-friends do.  It was a gob of spit hurled at the viewers.

And now the 'geniuses' have decided to make Grace pregnant again as the show is ending.  The e-mails came flooding in starting Thursday night.  Yes, many noted the problems between Megan and Debra; however, most were about Grace's pregnancy and whether we should all be concerned considering how the show ended last time?

We should.

Truth was swirling around last week with the release of TOUCHED BY THE SUN.  This is Carly Simon's second memoir and it focuses on her friendship with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.  We highly recommend the book.  It's well written and it's fascinating.  Our key observation?  Carly goes deeper here than she did in BOYS IN THE TREES and that's really saying something (we loved BOYS IN THE TREES).  That may be due to the fact that Jackie is the focus.  Sometimes we're far more personal when we're writing about someone else.  But all writing is autobiography.  Anais Nin said, "Truth is something which can't be told in a few words. Those who simplify the universe only reduce the expansion of its meaning. Dreams are necessary to life."

Truth and dreams come flooding out of Carly's book.

Truth popped up somewhat on CNN last week when Mayor Pete's campaign was discussed.

No, Pete is not a shoe-in.  The issues that CNN noted were already noted several day before, in the Monday, October 21st snapshot.

With one of us already having noted the same issues, we were surprised they didn't go further.

As noted in that snapshot, Pete could win.  We are not saying he couldn't.  We are saying it's a harder haul than the press has been implying.

The CNN report dealt with the issue of Pete being gay and the problem some men have with that.  There's another issue though.  It's about relating.

If Pete wants to be president, you have to wonder why he and his spouse have not adopted.  We're not joking.  Military combat does not make you a 'man' (even if Pete had seen combat, which he didn't -- Tulsi Gabbard's the only one running who could be considered a combat veteran).  Most American voters see you as an adult if you have kids.  And that's called truth -- whether or not you choose to pursue it.

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