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Bill Maher Wants to Know Why the Most Popular Movie of the #MeToo Era Is ‘About a Woman on a Leash’ — Watch
Bill Maher wants to know why, in the era of #MeToo, the most popular movie in America is “Fifty Shades Freed” — a film he describes as being about “a woman on a leash.” During his New Rules segment last night, the controversial TV host turned his attention to the seeming disparity between the growing calls for gender equality and an end to sexual harassment and the content of successful films like “Call Me by Your Name” and “The Shape of Water.”
“2017 was a great year for women because finally men have been put on notice. Harassment is going to be noted now, so you’re going to have to think of another way to meet women,” Maher said before adding that “all men are playing with five fouls now, as we should, but the movement falters if it thinks we can make pain-free the messy transition from two people not in a relationship to two people who are” — something born out by films ranging from “Love Actually” and “Snow White” to “Jerry Maguire” and “Rocky.”
“I’m not saying men act the way they do primarily because of movies,” Maher clarified, “but they have been getting this message for a long time that this is what women want. And it is what women want — but only from men they want it from. Problem is, we don’t know which one we are.”
To prove his point, he brought up four movies from 2017. “‘Beauty and the Beast’ is about a simple country girl who’s kidnapped, but it turns out it’s a prince, so it’s okay. If you think there’s a power imbalance when the conductor dates a cellist, imagine being hit on by a hulking dog-monster,” he said.
“‘Phantom Thread’ is about a powerful older man who picks up a waitress, ‘Call Me by Your Name’ is about a 24-year-old who has a gay affair with a 17-year-old, and ‘The Shape of Water’ is about a cleaning woman in a secret government lab who takes the Creature from the Black Lagoon Home and bangs it in the bathtub. If that’s not workplace sex, it’s certainly stealing office supplies.” Watch the full segment below.
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Dominic West earned great acclaim for playing Jimmy McNulty on “The Wire,” but he almost didn’t get the part. In an excerpt from Jonathan Abrams’ book “All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire,” series creator David Simon reveals that he originally had a very different actor in mind: John C. Reilly. The reason it didn’t happen? A combination of phone tag and geography.
“I thought John C. Reilly could be a different McNulty, certainly not the same, but I thought he could carry all of the excesses and vices of McNulty in a different way,” Simon says. “I’ve loved his work in a lot of stuff. I was on the phone with him. It was three weeks before Halloween , because I was in a corn maze with my kid, Ethan, who would have been like seven, six. So, I’m trying to keep up with my kid, who’s running around like a madman in this maze, and that’s when John C. Reilly called me back. I really couldn’t take the call. I talked to him for maybe five minutes, and I said, “‘Hey, listen, can I call you back? I’m in a corn maze with my kid.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, yeah. Call me back.’ In the time between when he called me and when I called him back, he stopped taking calls. He later told Dom [West, who got the role] that his wife was like, ‘We are not moving to Baltimore.'”
“Later on, Dom was working with him on ‘Chicago’ and they’re looking at each other,” Simon continues. “They’re so different, and Dom’s like, ‘What were they going for?'”
The rest, as they say…
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‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ Review: Game-Changing Finale ‘Nathaniel Is Irrelevant’ Is a Reckoning Three Seasons in the Making
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” Season 3 finale, “Nathaniel is Irrelevant.”]
“I’m so excited that our love story can begin.” “Josh Chan must be destroyed.”
It’s only fitting that the third season of “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” would end with another shocker of a sendoff, courtesy of Rebecca Bunch. The closing to an unofficial trilogy of Rebecca’s journey from workaholic hurricane of obsession to a more self-aware, introspective version of herself is what this season has been building towards from the start. “I plead guilty” is a pretty striking way to close out a true roller-coaster season — in many ways, it feels like the only logical conclusion.
Both in the episode and season overall, it wasn’t necessarily the cleanest road to get there. But what the show leaves behind at Season 3’s end is the biggest change yet for a volatile heroine, and the decision that almost feels like “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” starting over again. That reset button is one that really got pushed two weeks ago with the masterfully executed time jump that kicked off a thrilling season-ending arc. Tracking into the finale, part of that comes from Paul Welsh, who continues to be uproariously unsettling as Trent. Between last week’s incredible opening credits number, him combing his hair in the mirror, and his delivery of the line “Io-was…” it’s appropriately bizarre farewell if Trent’s destined to be consigned to a body cast for the foreseeable future.
But as result of her increasingly haunting visions and a discussion with her therapy support group (a chance for Michael Hitchcock to make one last guest appearance this season, in an episode he co-wrote with director Aline Brosh McKenna), Rebecca decides that it’s time to come clean with everything she’s hidden from the three most important people in her life over as many seasons. Rachel Bloom’s deep breath expression before unleashing a torrent of missteps is the kind of frankness the character’s been searching for in a shifting, post-diagnosis world.
That confession summit is an interesting way to reevaluate all four people involved as the show heads into a hiatus. Josh has felt like an appendage of sorts to the season. Once Rebecca finally moved on, his connection to the series has felt less vital, even if a stripping gig, a great “Singing in the Rain”-inspired number, and a stomach-churning barkeep mishap has kept him in the mix. But it makes sense that he was there for this, especially if Rebecca’s potential jailtime will put extra focus back on the people she’s wronged.
Of course, this boardroom reckoning shows that Rebecca’s not the only person deserving of some long-overdue blame. Between the confessions that earn him a sharp Chan right hook to the jaw and the not-so-flattering nihilism of the ethically murky ballad “Nothing is Anyone’s Fault” (of course the closest the show’s ever come to a Jason Robert Brown song features the line “Energy in space was the ultimate Bad Father!”), it’s clear that Nathaniel still is not a good person. That’s true even if Nathaniel mouthing the word “insanity” in the courtroom is one of his best moments of the season or if “I Go to the Zoo” is the most replayable jam “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” has ever made.
Patrick Wymore/The CW
And while the episode may have begun and ended with Rebecca, like most of the strongest parts of the season, this was a showcase for everything that Paula can be. In a finale that leaned a little closer to the surreal and goofy side of what “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” occasionally becomes, Donna Lynne Champlin grounded every single major moment that she was a part of.
Reading seismic revelations from a piece of paper, there’s genuine hurt in Paula’s demeanor. This isn’t just the usual disappointment that Paula sometimes has to shoulder. It’s a breaking point. That she can play that sense of betrayal and, in the seconds right before Rebecca‘s final line, be understanding enough to give her best friend the strength to face the aftermath of her decisions is a testament to how Champlin’s elevated the character from sidekick to a fully developed woman all her own.
Goodness, and that’s all after “The Miracle of Birth,” another show-stopping Paula sequence worthy of ancestors “Maybe This Dream,” “Face Your Fears,” and “The First Penis I Saw.” Rhyming “went, uh” with “placenta” is lyrical wizardry, a trick to which Champlin adds the perfect final touch. No other actress alive could put that same frisson on the word “mucus,” either.
And the callbacks. Ohhhhhh, the callbacks. The song titles alone would have been enough. (Though, with Nathaniel and Darryl both saying it, we’d be lying if we didn’t say that we hoped a third invocation of “Having a few people over” would lead to a full-blown reprise.) But by squeezing in “Group Hang,” “After All [She’s] Done for You,” and “You Stupid Bitch,” it’s almost like the soundtrack was clearing house just as much as Rebecca was.
But the two most important songs for this episode were also ones that were not sung. Rebecca nodding to the Season 2 opening credits, saying that she wants to be “held responsible for her actions,” might have been one shade too on-the-nose for the climactic moment. But if the intent is to lay the groundwork for everything we’ve seen of this character so far, that’s one last goodbye to what Rebecca used to be.
Patrick Wymore/The CW
But the final touch, even after those final affirmative seconds, is “I’m a Good Person” over the end credits. (Listen for it on the DVD.) When Rebecca sang that song on Season 1, it was a shining example of the disconnect between how she was seen and her own self-denial. Now that she’s finally begun to accept that responsibility, she’ll still have to reckon with whether her decision to throw herself at the mercy of the Los Angeles County legal system is a true act of absolution.
Whatever conclusion she or the judge arrive at, this finale also gave a chance to bring the Whitefeather/Plimpton employees back to the fold, after they took somewhat of a backseat to the messy Nathaniel and Rebecca drama. George delivers heat-seeking missiles of truth to both lovesick co-workers, Tim gets the blood-curdling shriek after Trent gets pushed off the rooftop, and Maya gets to explain her love for the baby name Rufus. Regardless of how Season 4 progresses, here’s hoping the future doesn’t lose sight of the law firm support staff.
Two other people the show hopefully has a plan for? Darryl and Heather, who made the most out of this finale’s B(irth)-plot. Fast-forwarding Heather’s pregnancy was probably the best move in the long run, particularly since it’s becoming more and more difficult to have a birth scene that doesn’t lean on cliches. (A dream ballet with pre-schoolers was far more illustrative!) But by skipping over all the lead-up to Baby Heabecca, it’s another case of this finale tying its effectiveness to events that are still over the horizon. So much of the success of this turning point depends on where the show goes afterwards (and whether David Wain gets to come back as the doctor who, like the Waiters Who Are Nauseated by Food, reaches for the trash bucket after Paula’s description of the birthing process).
Even after her diagnosis earlier this season, a slightly changed Rebecca still had so many chances to backslide and to do the bare minimum to change. So “Nathaniel is Irrelevant.” doesn’t seem like a series finale. Of the three season-ending episodes, this is the one that even in coming full circle would be the most heartbreaking to not see what comes after. The fairytale ending of Season 1 ended exactly the way that Rebecca wanted. The crazy wish fulfillment of Season 2 ended with a strange, renewed sense of purpose. In a season where Rebecca felt the most conflicted and the show’s tone and approach sometimes matched that, the ending was never going to be as clean and happy as those last words may indicate.
So what comes next? For the first time in the show’s history, that’s not abundantly clear. It’s a radical departure for a radical show. If a next chapter is on its way, it’ll be the most important one yet. (And if it isn’t, we’ll always have Dog Josh.)
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[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for the “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” Season 3 finale, “Nathan Is Irrelevant.”]
Despite the title “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) has officially gone on the record to reject the idea that she is insane in the series’ Season 3 finale.
Over the course of the past year, Rebecca survived a suicide attempt, was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), and even started therapy, all of which seemed to point to progress in treating her mental health. By the end of the season though, events transpired to the point where she was charged with attempted second-degree murder after she accidentally injured someone. When her lawyer and erstwhile boyfriend Nathaniel (Scott Michael Foster) suggested she offer up a plea of insanity, she was sorely tempted at first, but in the end, decided to take responsibility for her actions.
IndieWire spoke to co-creator Aline Brosh McKenna about Rebecca’s decision, which will most likely result in jail time and other harsh sentencing.
“We always knew that the end of this season would be a very low point for her and that it was going to sort of end and her realizing that she’s been in a bit of a fever dream,” said Brosh McKenna. “Somebody [was] saying, ‘You can use your disorder to eschew responsibility.’ And she does not want to label herself crazy. Last season she dealt with something that her mother used to have her eschew responsibility for — what she had done to [an ex-boyfriend] Robert. And in this, she’s saying, ‘I want to take responsibility for this.’
“And obviously, ‘crazy’ and ‘insanity,’ those are all very medically non-meaningful terms. She does have a disorder and does have mental health issues but this is about her saying, ‘In addition or besides that, I have made some decisions that are not great and people have let me off the hook. And now I don’t want to let myself off the hook anymore.’”
Check out additional highlights of our conversation with Brosh McKenna, in which she addressed more details about the finale, that unexpected time jump, Dog Josh, and the show’s end game:
Nathaniel the Ne’er-Do-Well
Although Nathaniel began as the unscrupulous interloper boss who took over Rebecca’s law firm, he’s slowly transformed himself to become a far softer and more loving sort of guy. That doesn’t mean he’s quite figured out all of the moral or ethical nuances of behavior though, as evidenced by the power duet, “Nothing Is Ever Anyone’s Fault.” Check it out below:
“There’s this trope about the uptight, rich asshole who learned to be a wonderful guy because of this quirky girl. That is the trope that we’re playing with with him,” said Brosh McKenna. “He’s learned that backstory and psychology and learning who you are and where you came from is important, but he’s absolutely gleaned the absolute wrong implemented lesson of that, which is, ‘Hey, super, then you can use this as an excuse for anything! So let’s use this to get you off the hook the way that I get myself off the hook for every shitty thing I’ve ever done.’ It made us laugh… to take a well-traveled trope … where a girl makes an asshole realize how to pursue a better path and kind of subvert that.”
Despite Nathaniel’s very tempting argument (who could resist that power ballad?), Rebecca decided at the 11th hour to face up to her actions while in court. Each of her friends was present in the courthouse except for her BFF Paula (Donna Lynne Champlin), who was still stung by the revelation of Rebecca’s lying. But just as Rebecca was about to plead insanity, Paula showed up, and seeing her friend’s guarded face clinched the decision for Rebecca.
“In a romantic comedy there’s always a character that kind of protects the lead from taking responsibility because she is the one who is going to say, ‘Go to the airport and track him down,’ or ‘Run to the New Year’s Eve party and tell him how you feel.’ She’s the classic sidekick,” said Brosh McKenna. “Without her sidekick, Rebecca has to understand and face her own culpability, which Paula has a tendency to soften for her because Paula is, among other things, co-dependent. And so without Paula there, it’s up to her to use her own intellect and intuition to understand the situation that she’s in. When Paula shows up at the end, that’s when Rebecca is unable to make a choice that she knows is not the right choice for her.”
Heather the Pregnant Dilettante
PATRICK WYMORE/THE CW
While Rebecca is dealing relationship woes in the finale, her friend Heather (Vella Lovell) finally has to make good on giving Darryl (Pete Gardner) the baby she’s been carrying for him as a surrogate.
“The thing that’s happening in Rebecca’s storyline is that she is really going to a new level of understanding what her responsibilities are in the world. That’s definitely true for Heather too,” said Brosh McKenna. “She has to follow through on something, and she has to live with the inevitable consequences of the decision she made. Really that’s where those are thematically linked. It’s repercussions. You decide to have someone’s baby for them, you’re going to actually give birth. For Rebecca, she’s made a lot of decisions that are somewhat reckless morally and they all come crashing down on her, so it’s very much an episode about repercussions and responsibility.”
Paula’s Horrifyingly Gross Song
In trying to calm Heather down before giving birth, three-time mother Paula sings a song titled, “Miracle of Birth.” Unfortunately, she dwells a bit too much on the physical aspects of childbirth and ends up scaring Heather even more. Take a listen:
“[Songwriter Jack Dolgen is] in the writers’ room and he works with a lot of women. There are only three men in our writers’ room out of 10 people. We like to horrify them with stuff like ‘Period Sex,’” said Brosh McKenna. “A bunch of the moms sat down with Jack and told him all the gross realities of birth… And then Jack went off and wrote the song with [composer Adam Schlesinger]. What I love is it’s a song about the horrifying nature of birth written two guys after having talked to a bunch of moms. We were on a very tight deadline for the finale. They wrote the song in a couple of hours in our recording studio.”
That Brilliant Time Jump
The series took a massive leap two episodes ago when it introduced an eight-month time jump in the middle of the episode. While Rebecca and Nathaniel were conducting an affair by hooking up in the back room of Home Base, various other characters were also hanging out at the sports bar. In a seamless edit, Heather — who has just become pregnant — walked behind the bar and when she emerged from the other side, she was sporting a significantly larger baby bump. While all the other characters also made big changes in their life, Rebecca and Nathaniel were still hooking up on the sly.
“We wanted to establish the conditions… the first time Valencia (Gabrielle Ruiz) and Beth (Emma Willmann) met and show here’s where Rebecca is in her relationship and then to jump ahead,” said Brosh McKenna. “We had a character that was pregnant, so that was one of the motivations to move that story forward. But another bigger theme was that everyone in their life was moving forward and whizzing past Rebecca. We wanted to show that she’s in a weird stasis with her relationship with Nathaniel. So having everybody jump ahead — White Josh has gone out of town, Valencia has a new relationship, and Heather’s having a baby — but Rebecca and Nathaniel have kind of frozen in time.”
She added, “That episode is directed by Erin Ehrlich, who has been one of our executive producers since Day One, and so she really understands how we were going to make that work. We worked really closely together. So it ended up being really fun. Somebody brilliant, not me, brought up the idea of using ‘The Moment Is Me’ to transition Heather around the bar. Everything in the bar has changed except for that neon sign, and that was Erin’s idea.”
When Valencia Met Beth
Although Valencia had dated Josh Chan (Vincent Rodriguez III) previously, the show didn’t make a big deal of her developing a relationship with a woman during the time jump. In fact, it felt very natural and matter-of-fact.
“We wanted to show that in her personal life she’s gotten some things sorted out and she’s met somebody who appreciates her and talks to her in a way that Josh never did,” said Brosh McKenna. “We haven’t really seen Valencia in any other romantic situations since Josh. So when she meets someone who thinks she’s funny and appreciates her business — those are two things Valencia cares about. We wanted to show them meeting and that this person latches onto those things about her right away. Then that by the time you see them eight months later, they’re already in a relationship.”
Dog Josh: A Tail of Hound and Furry
While going to Mexico, White Josh (David Hull) also adopted a cute little dog that Josh Chan insists on calling Dog Josh because of its superficial resemblance to both of them.
“Rachel and I for a long time had been saying that White Josh should have a dog… because he seems like someone who doesn’t understand love. They wanted to give him something where he understands love in a really profound way that’s not romantic love. I think I actually was the person who said, ‘Maybe he could be called Dog Josh.’”
Finding the proper dog to embody Dog Josh was an important task. “Tom Cahill, for prop master, who is brilliant worked with some animal wranglers and he brought us maybe five or six dogs,” she said. “We looked for one that looked like David and Vinnie. It was that kind of like snub-nosed look, that kind of slightly flattened, small nose look that had jumped out at us. We think that Dog Josh is some sort of bulldog hybrid who somehow ended up living in squalid circumstances in Mexico. [White Josh has] adopted an orphan because Rachel and I both have rescue dogs.”
GREG GAYNE/THE CW
The End Is Nigh… If It Gets a Fourth Season
“We haven’t gotten picked up for Season 4. If we’re lucky enough to get a Season 4, that will be it for us. Season 4 will be our last season,” said Brosh McKenna. “We’re trying to kind of round out that journey. Rachel and I pitched this story in four chapters when we started working together. It was always a story about a woman’s descent and her rising up. And we’re excited to tell the back bit of that story.”
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