Review, television, Things Happening RN

“ROSEANNE” IS CANCELED

On Tuesday, ABC announced that it would be canceling the reboot of Roseanne after the show’s star, Roseanne Barr, went on a Twitter rant that included a racist remark against Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, in which Barr compared Jarrett to an ape. Despite tepid headlines calling it “racially charged” or heading into “racial waters,” the remark was just plain racist.

The reaction to it was swift; Wanda Sykes, a consulting producer on the show, announced that she was quitting, Emma Kenney, an actress on the show, Tweeted that she was going to quit. This is after showrunner Whitney Cummings announced last month that she was leaving the show as well.

In a letter, the president of ABC Entertainment Group, Channing Dungey, announced that Barr’s comments were abhorrent and they were canceling her show. Dungey is also the first black American president of ABC.

To talk about this is to talk about how something can be both good and bad at the same time. It is good, categorically, that people had the response to Barr’s comment. It was racist, because Roseanne Barr is racist. It is good that ABC canceled the show, and that people on the show had the reaction they did.

However, Roseanne Barr being racist on Twitter and peddling in racism, bigotry, Islamophobia and conspiracy theories existed before her show was rebooted. Former U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who is black, said that Roseanne also compared her to an ape in a tweet. Roseanne also perpetrated the conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring in the basement of a pizza restaurant. That theory led to an armed man entering and threatening the occupants of that restaurant.

ABC did not have a problem with Barr’s past comments, so it’s difficult to assume that this latest remark, even though it is a racist, repugnant comment, was what sent her show over the edge. ABC canceled the show for one reason: because it affected ABC. Without Cummings or Sykes, and with the possibility that several of its actors would leave, the show, and Barr herself, became a financial liability. That is why they canceled the show.

In February 2017, Simon & Schuster dropped Milo Yiannopoulos as a client after acquiring the rights to his book with an advance $255,000. The book deal was tabled after audio surfaced where it appeared Yiannopoulos condoned inappropriate sexual relationships between men and boys. This was decidedly too far for Simon & Schuster, the people signing the same man who was banned from Twitter for inciting racial violence and bullying against Leslie Jones, who called people faggots and derided feminists as “ugly and sexless.” Simon & Schuster did not drop Yiannopoulos because they were offended morally. They dropped him because the bad publicity and optics of keeping him were not worth it. They found worth in him, and subsequently cosigned his words and bigotry, when the benefits of him outweighed the costs.

ABC cosigned Roseanne’s actions because the benefits of her outweighed the costs. When the scales were flipped, they dropped her. It was, and is, business.

This isn’t to say that I don’t think that the people behind these actions, like the executives at Simon & Schuster or Channing Dungey, were not offended by the actions and words of their clients. I think it’s highly likely that they were. But what I’m saying is that everything else, and everything before, they did not have a big enough problem with to stop working with Yiannopoulos and Barr.

I think that there is a place for conservative shows on television, and I think that it’s necessary to have conservative voices in the conversation.  I think it sucks that everyone on the Roseanne show was unceremoniously fired, leaving their jobs and their paychecks in limbo. I think it sucks that Roseanne Barr was given literally a golden opportunity and all she had to do was keep her raging racism barely in check – and she couldn’t even do that.

I think it sucks that the ABC executives who greenlit the show fed into the lie that Roseanne was important because it represented the so-called “silent majority,” white middle-class Republican voters, perpetrating this lie that they are the people who are being marginalized. Losing your status as the only voice can feel like, I’m sure, losing your voice, but that’s not true. Roseanne was not, and is not, the only show that represents white, middle-class Americans. There is, without sounding facetious, countless shows that represent this demographic – The Middle, Bob’s Burgers, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, Family Guy, Fuller House… the list goes on and on.

I understand the push behind reboots; it’s the same reason why I re-watch the same shows over and over against. There is power in the familiar, and there is capital in nostalgia. But the shows being rebooted after remnants, unfortunately, of a time in television where the pre-eminent voices were white, cisgender and straight. What if we put the energy, money and passion that is being directed towards rebooting old shows into creating new ones? What if we created shows that were representations of the present and future of Americans?

The 2016 election uncovered for many Americans the truth of our country: that we are riven with cracks, that we are deeply divided and angry and frightened. I understand the impetus behind rebooting shows like Roseanne, that desire to reach out to different sides of the aisle. But I don’t think Roseanne was the answer. I think the answer is not in encouraging growth from a poisoned root, but in growing something new and wholly its own. There is a way to truthfully and accurately represent what it means to be an American in 2018.

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2018, Life, Things Happening RN

TRYING TO BE HOT AT MY FIVE-YEAR REUNION

On Saturday, I had my five-year high school reunion.

I went in with low expectations, and by that I mean that I went in with the highest expectations and fully expected to be disappointed.

I regularly make jokes about the kind of person I was in high school; “I looked like a thumb with eyes” is a common one, given the fact that I had red, horrible skin, didn’t figure out a haircut that worked for me and I plucked my light eyebrows into impossibly high, thin arches that rendered them completely invisible in photos.

Embarrassingly (although everyone is guilty of this) I was obsessed with maintaining a façade even more than I was obsessed with maintaining a severe eyebrow arch. I probably even loved saying the word “façade” in high school. Difficult pronunciation and a squiggly accent mark? Chic! Essentially, I was kind of geeky and not-chic, except that I thought I was the most chic. Animal-print? Yes please. Neon? Why not! I was also perhaps most famous in high school for having a blog, and by that I mean, I was gay and literate and wrote about it.

Going into this reunion, I had one main goal: make everyone want to kill themselves with jealousy.


I assumed that this goal was very much attainable and also very much in the bag. However, things started to unravel very quickly. A tussle with a sheet mask ended up with me having a slight allergic reaction. A haircut ended up looking a little too egghead. My skin, which has been on a journey not dissimilar to Arya Stark trying to find her way back to Winterfell, decided to have a flare-up! Everything was coming up rosacea!

For reasons that I discuss extensively in therapy but will not disclose here, I feel a powerful need to prove myself to everyone, but particularly people who dislike me. Given the fact that I went to an all-boys Catholic prep school and was gay/wore leopard-print, I was not wanting for enemies or bullies!

I showed up to cocktail hour an hour late and dressed fucking cute, and immediately realized that I would not get through this night without alcohol. I was sucked into a conversation with a former classmate about his career track. He does something client-facing, and wears ties, and honestly that’s all I could remember because I was too busy scanning the faces of other classmates and making mental notes of everyone who got hot.

As I mentioned, I went to a prep school, whose main exports are insecurity complexes and people who work in square professions – finance, real estate, anything that has you start as an “analyst.” I was one of maybe four people who was in a creative industry, and reminder, I barely have a job! I was back in an environment that both fostered trust-fund fist bumps and discouraged me making any sort of “anal-yst” jokes! It was tough!

To overcompensate, when people asked me what I did, I formulated a square and safe response. “I’m a writer, and I’m going to grad school in July.”

Over the course of the evening, I got progressively looser and more annoying. “I’m a writer” became “I’m a freelancer writer,” which became “I’m a freelancer writer and I work at Trader Joe’s,” which somehow devolved into “I write about gay stuff!” and then completely deteriorated into just “Gay!”

To be fair, it always ends up that way.

But sometimes I realized, as my answers about “What I’m Doing” became sillier and more honest, is that people responded in kind. I got an accountant to admit that if I don’t pay taxes, there’s a possibility that nothing will happen (don’t do this though, pay your taxes). I asked a civil engineer if he got inspiration from that underground cavern in Marvel’s The Defenders. He did not laugh!


When I was saying hi to somebody, the person next to him saw me and made to do the “How are you doing!” facial shift.

The problem with this was that we never had a conversation in high school. I knew who he was because he’s hot, and he knew who I was because I’m gay, but no words passed betwixt us. So when he said, “How’ve you been?” I responded with “I’m good – I’m excited to have our first conversation ever!” And all he could do was laugh because literally it’s true.

And once we got over the truth, we actually had a conversation. We talked about high school, his work, my work, marijuana dispensaries and being hot.

I detest small talk because it kind of defeats the purpose – it’s meant to facilitate conversation, but it actually becomes a barrier against having real conversation. It becomes “Where did you go to college again?” and “What have you been doing?” instead of “Did you love college?” and “What do you think of Cardi B?”

By the way, people have high praise for Cardi!

I understand the impulse to put your best foot forward – I’m the fucking mayor of Putting Your Best Foot Forward – so I’m not sure exactly what snapped in me, but I’m glad it did. Because instead of exchanging meaningless pleasantries, I actually dug into real conversation with both old friends and people that I had never connected with in high school.

High school was messy in roughly eight thousand ways, and these all made going back into the Vineyard Vines viper’s pit quite stressful, which is probably why I became acutely obsessed with my appearance. A classic redirect to avoid confronting past trauma, sis!

But despite it all, I’m glad I went. I got a chance to look hot in suede boots, call everybody “hon” and “handsome” and snag an alumni baseball cap. And at the end of the day, that’s really all I could ask for.

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music, Rambles, Things Happening RN, Things I Like

WHO’S GOT THE BEAT: I TRY TO FIND NEW MUSIC

Historically, I have bad taste in music. I don’t think so, but I’ve been told so. I have the kind of musical taste that people will unceremoniously aim for a new vibe whenever I have control of the aux cord. In conjunction with that, I’m also picky. I’ll listen to the same song over and over until I’m sick of it, then I listen to it even more until I hate it, and then I’ll move onto something else. If something doesn’t immediately jive with me, I don’t give it any chance. This combines to making it extremely difficult for me to find new stuff. I’m writing this is the hopes that I can The Secret new music.

Over the past few days, with an unusual ferocity, I am deleting songs that I don’t listen to on my Spotify. I’m a hoarder by nature (thanks Dad!) so I hardly ever delete music – what if it’s the exact song I need to through that tough set at the gym?? What will I do then? – and I’ll just skip through until I find one I like.

Eventually, I realized that I was spending more time skipping through songs than I was actually working out/modeling in front of the mirror-wall. Beyond that, I basically only listen to Cupcakke’s new album, Ephorize, at the gym anyway, so I don’t know why I haven’t just caught on and put that on shuffle yet. Too old to learn but too dumb to realize, I guess.

Suddenly, everything in my library annoys me, and it’s kind of no wonder. Currently, it’s an emotionally disturbing cross-section that includes The Greatest Showman soundtrack, music by drag queens, piecemeal rap, and Kelly Clarkson. I mostly listen to music when I’m at the gym. When I’m driving, cooking, walking, doing laundry, sitting quietly in the corner, I listen to podcasts. But I find podcasts hard to listen to at the gym – either they’re too funny, and I laugh at an inopportune time, or I find that it doesn’t propel me forward in my workout. So the music I tend to gravitate to at the gym typically is super-emotive and thinspiring.

But I’d like to get into more music, and the road I’ve been traveling down is just not cutting it. Roughly every six months, I pick a new vibe and cultivate music around that. In the autumn and winter, I’m moodier and rocky-er. I pick songs that are similar to my youth (I was formulated – Powerpuff Girl-style – on the Kooks, Arctic Monkeys, Florence and the Machine, and Rilo Kiley). In the summer, I live for a good bop (Carly Rae Jepsen – more like Carly Slay Jepsen! I’m gay and I hate myself). Two autumns ago, it was a Bastille-Halsey moment. Last summer was all about Grace Potter. This summer was dedicated to Kesha, and in the autumn, I fell back in love with Joanne and Miley Cyrus’s Younger Now.

But lately, I’ve been going further and further down a country/folk/rock/indie avenue, and I need help. The vibe I’m going for this spring and summer is “chill” meets Call Me By Your Name meets “indie rock” meets “country pop” meets “long, winding summer road” meets “pine tree” meets “winsome romance.” Unsurprisingly, that is not a “Mood” that you can click on Spotify’s Browse.

I created a SS18 (spring-summer 2018) playlist expressly for the purpose of encouraging the new sound, and it’s definitely threadbare. Their “Recommended” and “Discover Weekly” features are also a total let-down, because it pulls from the songs that are in your library. For me, that produces a heavily-skewed coterie that’s more suited for poppers and raving than it is for me living my actual, human experience.

Music, for me to get into it, has to invoke a strong emotional response. You know how there are some people who can listen to an album and “appreciate” it? Or sit through a terrible art film and “examine” it? That’s not me. Ephorize makes me want to be a total slut; Vince Staples’ Prima Donna gives me swag; Kelly Clarkson’s Meaning of Life fulfills every karaoke fantasy I’ve ever had. I’m in a period of flux at the moment, and I’m kinda teetering on Big Adult™ decisions, so I want something that reflects that and inspires me.

I’ve started listening to a little more country – definitely country lite, like Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves and Russell Dickerson. I’ve been in a more softly contemplative mood lately, and I find that mindless pop – that includes you, Katy Perry, with your “activist” pop – isn’t really cutting it for me. I used to hate country music – it was too square and too heteronormative and square – but I like what it feels like for me. It feels a little evolving, and a little slow, and a little contemplative. And that’s, overall, the vibe that I’m aiming for in the next few months.

If you’ve got any suggestions, or any advice on how to find new music, plz send me a postcard. I need your help. America needs your help.

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/1237130065/playlist/0JQlpZOW32PIBaUQTJ6sxo

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Essay, Humor, Things Happening RN

I’M EAVESDROPPING

THURSDAY, STARBUCKS – I just spent twenty minutes listening to two teenager/twentysomething girls complain about their babysitting wards, specificially some kid named Soren. I kept meaning to start writing something, but I was drawn in beyond understanding. Soren dropped something on the floor and then just walked away. She would totally clean it up no problem, one girl assured, but it was the laissez-faire attitude Soren possessed that really irked her. By the way, that’s never true. It’s never that you would totally clean something up but the person was rude about it – you also don’t want to have to clean it up. But for some reason, it’s unacceptable to say, “I don’t want to clean up after you, Soren!” I laugh so hard at this fake, imaginary person who loves cleaning up after people but loves politeness more.

“Do the parents care?” “No. I mean, they get mad, but they don’t really do anything.”

I’ve been doing a lot of eavesdropping lately. Not necessarily on purpose, but it’s just been happening. I work at a moderately hipster, reasonably priced popular grocery chain. And what I’ve learned in the almost five months I’ve been there is that nothing makes you more invisible to people than working retail. People, bless their hearts, really are blind to you.

The other day, I was manning a register when, behind me, a customer was loudly monologuing about the upcoming Super Bowl. “Tom Brady’s so mentally strong,” she was trying to convince my co-worker who, bless her, does not watch football. “He’s totally mentally strong,” she shouted into the void. When I turn innocuously to catch a glimpse of her, she latched onto me. “You watch football right?” she asked without waiting for me to answer. It’s a minute later before I found a dip in the conversation to say, “No, not really.” She bore a more-than-passing resemblance to Jenna Lyons, the former creative director and president of J.Crew – slightly more mannish and full, but strangely magnetic.

Even after we’ve all affirmed that we, unlike her, do not watch football – I’ve watched one game this season – she continued to launch several rhetorical questions into the open air. Receipt in her hand, she kept going. Next customer being rung up, still she stood talking. And finally, when she said her goodbyes and pushed her laden cart out of the store.

Days later, she came to my register and started talking – mercifully, not about football. She was ranting about The Walking Dead before offering up, sans spoiler alert, “Yeah Carl was bitten.” And when I said, “Oh I don’t watch that show,” she repeated the spoiler, “Yeah, he’s the son. He’s annoying. He’s dead, well, not yet but he will be. That show’s really going off the rails.” To so brazenly offer up what was surely a pivotal twist in the series without even the slightest concern or spoiler alert – what if I were watching the show? – was shocking. When I offered up that I was currently watching The Crown, she pivoted easily and naturally. She had not seen the show but her brother-in-law was the owner of some football team and also an ambassador to the U.K. She dug up a picture of him meeting the Queen and attempted to show me several more Instagrams before the lack of Wi-Fi foiled her. She would, she promised me, show me the photos next time.

As she left, I had to fight a smile from creeping across my face. When I first escaped her football speech, I pictured what the rest of her day must look like, as I often do with customers. I pictured her talking the ear off of other mothers at drop-off; I pictured her loudly holding court at the dinner table. I pictured her as loving fiercely, but suffocatingly. But something about her vicious lack of wherewithal about name-dropping shifted my lens of her.

She just, bless, didn’t give a fuck. She wanted to name-drop, and so she did. She had opinions about The Walking Dead, so she shared them. She had an effusive admiration of Tom Brady, so she expressed it. It didn’t matter to her that no one shared in her journey; an audience was entirely beside the point. What I had interpreted as an inability to read the room was actually just blind conviction. And there’s something about bald and bold confidence that draws me to people. People so often step around how they feel, like those girls did with Soren. Instead of just saying, “Fuck off Soren, I’m not your maid, I’m your babysitter. Now clean up the floor,” she couched it in the way he (or she, the name Soren leaves the gender mysterious) handled the dropping. But I imagined that “Mentally Strong” would have no problem eviscerating Soren. And Soren would probably, eventually, be grateful for the straight talk.

People so rarely say what they mean. We’re wrapped up in manners and culture – it’s not necessarily a bad thing – but it was so arresting to see someone so unconcerned with the norms. A normal person would exchange meaningless banter at the register – their weekend, the weather, perhaps a recipe or two. But for her, all the world’s a stage.

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Humor, Life, Mental Health, Things Happening RN

Lol – I’m Depressed

It was probably the eighth time that I went to open a Word document to write a blog post, hovered over that blue W and then flicked my finger away that I realized something was probably wrong.

It was probably when waking up left me feeling more tired, the kind of deep, head-wrapped tired that dips your bones in wax.

It was probably when the thought of sending an email filled me with enough anxiety to justify binge-watching the latter half of Real Housewives of New Jersey. (I also just, like, had to do this. Siggy is crazy, y’all).

It was probably when depression curled itself around me like an angora sweater-shawl that I realized something was up. A blend of cashmere and sadness.

Depression is weird because even when you have a “handle” on it, it can still surprise you. I’ve been in therapy on-and-off since I was fifteen; I’ve had ups and downs and I thought that I was pretty solid on my mental health. Even so, I would be surprised to realize that the few “bad days” I was having, where nothing seemed to go right and my thoughts couldn’t be quelled, were small depressive blips.

In lay terms, I often describe those blips as a common cold. It knocks you out of commission for a few days; it makes you a little fuzzier and a little slower; you don’t realize it’s happening until it’s almost over. But, in the same way that a healthy person always seems a little in denial that their body is fallible, I’m always a little naïve that I can fall prey to these blips.

This last time has been more than a blip: a blap, perhaps, or even potentially a bloop. Depression is wild because it completely changes your way of thinking and distracts you from itself. It’s the Cheshire cat of mental health: me not being able to write a coherent blog post, or answer an email suddenly gets attributed to other things – I’m not funny or talented, or I still can’t figure out if “Best, Danny McCarthy” is going to be my email signature. It took a few days/weeks to realize, “Oh, it’s been you beside me all along.”

I live for a romantic comedy, but not one that ends with me and Depression kissing in a gazebo.

This bloop was brought on by a myriad of things, none of which were particularly noteworthy or memorable in and of themselves. I’m applying to grad school and wading through applications. I’m working. I’m trying to find a psychiatrist. I ran into my major high school crush whilst at my day job when I was underslept and overshaven. I’m living in my childhood bedroom. I graduated from college and I’m spiraling.

There’s no real button to this blog post that’s neat or clean. I’m still having a bloop; and I’m doing self-care in the ways that I know how: forcing myself to write, doing pull-ups and listening to a lot of Kelly Clarkson. I think it’s important to write this because I often feel that whilst I’m in the moment of a bloop that I can’t talk about it: better to wait until it’s over and then I can be triumphant and saintly and tough. But that’s not realistic, and that’s not relatable. And as much as I worry that these seem like “Cry for Help” posts or pity parties, I know that they’re not. I’m fine now, and I’ll be fine later. I don’t want to wax poetically about how I “made it through, and you will do.” I know I’ll make it through, and I know you will too, but hon, we’re here for the moment. Might as well lean into that angora and be honest.

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Millennials, Politics, Things Happening RN

ARTICLES AND VIDEOS FOR THIS WEEK

With everything happening from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and today being the 16th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, it seems bizarre to write something trite or funny, so I thought I would just include some articles that I felt were impactful and interesting.

1). Refinery29 – 9/11 Survivor Essay:

I grew up in the greater New York City area in the aftermath of 9/11, (I was six in 2001), and a lot of what I know is from friends and family talking about it. We grew up hearing a lot of personal accounts of what everyone was doing that day (friends, peers, adults) so I haven’t read many accounts of what people went through. And it wasn’t until I was much older that I watched a video of the actual day.

I really enjoyed this piece by Margaret Lazaros in Refinery29 because, while it was brief, it was totally beautiful and heartbreaking to hear from someone who worked in the World Trade Center. She writes about walking away from the buildings as they fell (that’s a common thread amongst the retellings – the walking, the sneaker stores opening their doors for women in heels) and trying to get to her daughter. If you have a few minutes, I highly recommend it.

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Mental Health, Rambles, Things Happening RN

MENTAL HEALTH IS CHIC, YOU GUYS

In typical fashion, I had a perfect title before I had anything else even written.

I just sent an email to a potential new psychiatrist (in the event it works out and I eventually tell you about this, hi hon!). While I was in school, I utilized our student health services and saw the same psychiatrist on-and-off for about three years. Always check out the resources available to you, especially when you’re at school—I’ve heard some horror stories about SHS, but I’ve always had good experiences.

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