What ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ Can Teach Us About Self-Pity

Amazon Prime’s new streaming show, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, portrays the paradoxical lives of its characters with panache. Stylish and perfectly proportioned Miriam “Midge” Maisel (Rachel Brosnahan) is a witty, beautiful Jewish housewife in 1960s New York’s Upper West Side. Her husband, Joel Maisel, is a vice-president at his uncle’s company by day, and he … Continued

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Why So Many ‘Today’ Show Viewers Thought They Knew Matt Lauer

“Please don’t tell me it’s Al Roker. I just couldn’t take that.” That was the beginning of a conversation I overheard in an office building in Queens yesterday. The ladies (all in their mid-thirties) standing around seemed genuinely heartbroken upon hearing the news that NBC Today host Matt Lauer had engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior … Continued

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Is ‘Wonder’ a Realistic Portrayal of Middle School?

“Is Wonder realistic?” I asked my son when we returned from seeing the movie last night. The two fourth grade boys and the two fifth grade girls who accompanied me had all read and loved the book on which the movie was based, but I wondered about what seemed like an extraordinarily happy ending. In … Continued

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‘Lady Bird’ and the Power of Place

Lady Bird, Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age film set in Sacramento, California, is dazzling audiences as much as it’s dazzled critics. Despite its limited release four weeks ago in arty theaters, it’s still among the top ten films for domestic box office, grossing more than $17 million to date. And for good reason: It’s a lovely movie. … Continued

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‘Poldark’ is Everything Wrong with Our Therapeutic Times

The most painful thing for an academic is to watch period dramas, and I am starting to think I should actively avoid them. The recent experience I’ve had has been traumatic, and I don’t think I ever had such a disappointing run, whether with movies or TV shows. It started with the Gunpowder Plot on … Continued

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‘Bob’s Burgers’ and Hollywood’s Problem with Thanksgiving

It happens every year; stores are covered in red and green Christmas decorations before Halloween celebrations even start. Commercialism overtakes commonsense. I don’t know if the early saturation of Christmas décor works for sales since it actually seems to make everyone mad, but it seems to happen earlier and earlier every year. And yet, I … Continued

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George Clooney’s ‘Catch-22’

George Clooney has just agreed to star in and direct a miniseries based on Joseph Heller’s classic novel, Catch-22. Clooney claims that the book is his favorite novel, but we’ll see how much he respects the story’s original themes. Critics and lit professors often refer to Catch-22 as a “satirical anti-war novel,” which makes some … Continued

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The Disneyfication of Everything

This year is the twentieth anniversary of the debut of Disney’s Broadway musical, The Lion King. The show is significant for its use of puppetry, movement, and beautiful costumes designed by visionary director Julie Taymor. To celebrate the occasion on November 5, the show’s composer, Elton John, treated the audience to a curtain-call performance. That … Continued

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Why Hollywood Loves to Take Cheap Shots at Conservatives

There’s a remarkable scene in the otherwise unremarkable 2012 movie, The Three Stooges, that speaks volumes about Hollywood. The sequence features the story’s villains, played by Kirby Heyborne and Sofia Vergara, together in bed. Can you guess the magazine Vergara’s character is reading? It’s The Weekly Standard, a reliably conservative publication. That’s a tell that … Continued

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