What to Watch: “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”

If you’ve ever loved a comedian – whether that’s as a S.O., a friend, a family member – you know what it’s like to support their comedy dreams. The biggest show of love you can have for a comedian is attending an open mic.

Miriam “Midge” Maisel is a novice comic’s dream supporter. She attends all of her husband’s open mics, helps him write new jokes, brings friends to his performances, and makes brisket to bribe the host for an earlier time slot. She’s also a great wife: keeps a good home, raises two kids, and goes to her husband’s open mics. She has it all – until secrets start coming out and her life as she knew it is shaken to its core. By the end of the pilot, she finds herself on stage doing stand-up and commanding the room, getting bigger laughs than her husband ever did.

Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) has created a beautiful and unapologetically Jewish show. I mean, the Maisels are preparing to have the rabbi over for breaking fast of Yom Kippur. Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards) is absolutely charming as Midge Maisel. Within the first five minutes, you know exactly who she is and her history up to this moment. She’s deeply in love with her husband Joel (Michael Zegen, Rescue Me) and her support is unwavering, not a surprise given the year is 1958. Tony Shaloub (Monk) and Marin Hinkle (Two and a Half Men) play her frustrated and concerned parents.

Alex Borstein (Getting On) plays Susie Myerson, an employee at the comedy club, who sees Midge’s act and encourages her to continue. Susie compares Midge to Mort Sahl, a comparison Midge does not find herself worthy of, especially during her time of crisis. Susie says she’s right about this, just as she’s right she’s going to be alone the rest of her life. Then she delivers the line that hit me right in the feels: “I do not mind being alone. I just do not want to be insignificant.”

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is hilarious, endearing, and an absolute joy to watch. I cannot recommend it enough. You can watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon Prime.


‘Schitt’s Creek’ Just Released A New Trailer For Season 4 And I Am Screaming

As you all know, I’m obsessed with Schitt’s Creek to the point where I’m writing fanfiction for it. (You knew this was coming.) CBC/Pop! just released a full-length trailer today and it has made January 24th feel like an eternity away. It’s a great trailer (Watch it here!) that highlights all our favorite parts of the show and I want to dissect each individual part because I can’t stop screaming.

  1. Dead Guy in Room 4 – Admittedly, I know what this refers to because I saw this episode at VultureFestLA, but oh my god am I excited for everyone to see how this unfolds.
  2. Alexis at Elmdale College – Alexis as a (community) college girl is just aces. This is a girl who would’ve loved some big Division I party school or super expensive liberal arts school but instead she’s stuck at some rinky-dink college in nearby Elmdale.
  3. David & Patrick’s Relationship – You knew this was coming. This is David’s longest relationship (and Patrick’s first!) and that really says a lot about my baby! He’s growing up! And things are good! Patrick apparently sends David a 4-month-iversary giant heart-shaped cookie before learning this fact. And from my constant rewatches of season 3’s “Grad Night”, this move says a lot about Patrick too. (Recap: David’s upset his family forgot his birthday and says to a customer that he wishes everyone took special days seriously.) Look at what Patrick’s doing!!! I’m just saying!!! (Also, all the serious heart-eyes that are happening? Murder me.)
  4. Alexis Graduating from College – Marketing and Pubic Relations. I smell an uphill college administration battle for Alexis and I am here. for. it.
  5. “It’s television’s Moira Rose!” – Moira is always at her best when she’s trying to make the best of a shitty (ha!) situation and returning to acting. Who could ever forget the fruit wine commercial? Catherine O’Hara is a goddess and I cannot wait to see what bizarre performance she’s cooked up this time.
  6. Alexis has… friends? – Alexis is trying to bond with Stevie and a woman at the motel’s counter. Alexis and Stevie haven’t really had many scenes alone together, if any. The possibility that talking about how Zac Efron was a booty call is her idea of ‘female bonding’ is sooo Alexis.
  7. Everyone’s Here!! – Moira, Johnny, David, Alexis, Roland, Stevie, Ted, and Pa… Patrick. The first six were a given. I’m so thrilled that not only is Noah Reid (Patrick) sticking around, but so is Dustin Milligan (Ted). They’re both such excellent foils to David and Alexis, respectively. Crossing my fingers for season regular promotions!
  8. Roland & Johnny – There is no such thing as too much Chris Elliott, especially when he’s being gross. Nope. Not possible.

Things I want to happen this season:

  • David and Patrick to not break up ever because I don’t think my heart could take it
  • Alexis confidently turning down a date with a guy she’s attracted to because she’s a strong independent woman and she don’t need no man
  • Moira doing some sort of cabaret show where she just does different characters or some weird showcase thing
  • More Johnny/Stevie motel co-owners shenanigans. (We took a “Which Schitt’s Creek Character Are You?” quiz and my boss who introduced me to the show is Johnny and I’m Stevie so you can understand my affinity to this relationship.)
  • I want Patrick to get a last name!
  • Tension between Alexis and whoever Ted hires as his new assistant. But not like, romantic tension. Career tension. Because I’m here for career-driven Alexis.
  • She’s at the end of the trailer, but I love Ronnie (Karen Robinson) and I hope we get more of her.
  • Will anyone remember who Gwen is? Probably not.
  • Rizwan Manji’s Ray has another business. Some suggestions: salmon migration, Faberge egg decorating, screen printing and embroidery. Or his business starts to rival Rose Apothecary. (Does Patrick still work at Ray’s? ‘Cause that would be awkward.)
  • Have I mentioned David & Patrick? I just need more of them always.

Schitt’s Creek returns to CBC in Canada on January 9th and to Pop! in the US on January 24th.


Romance in “Schitt’s Creek”: The Queer Slow-Burn

Full disclosure: this post is more for me than anyone else. Enjoy. Also, massive spoilers for Schitt’s Creek season 3. As in, don’t even bother reading this if you don’t want to be spoiled.

Queer romance, especially for male-identified characters, is woefully lacking on television. In the 2000’s when the LGBTQ community was finding its footing in the TV landscape, the representation for queer men was only one of two options: hook-up culture a la Queer as Folk or celibate a la Will & Grace (not to mention how white these shows are). I watched Queer as Folk religiously and wished I could mimic that life, but alas, I lean closer to the chaste side, but in the middle nonetheless. I’m not alone as most of the queer community falls somewhere between those extremes.

There are quite a few queer relationships between men on television, but even fewer relationships that do not start with the characters sleeping together. Current media tends to lean toward the sexual side, opting to shock viewers with images of gay sex right off the bat. Yes, many of the relationships, regardless of beginnings, take the winding journey to a monogamy. Yet only four couples from recent shows come to mind in regards to a slow-burn: Alec & Magnus from Shadowhunters, Blaine & Kurt from Glee, Darryl & White Josh from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and David & Patrick from Schitt’s Creek. (There are more, but I haven’t seen all the television that exists. I know, shocking.) Even out of those, only one does not include a coming out storyline: Schitt’s Creek.

From the outside, the relationship plays out like a normal sitcom. David purchases the now-vacant general store and meets Patrick when he has to procure his business license. Patrick later offers to help David run the store since David clearly has no business acumen and Patrick is, as David says, “a business major who wears straight-leg, mid-range denim”. The relationship blossoms and it culminates to a lovely date on David’s birthday that ends with a kiss in Patrick’s car.

It’s a simple and straight-forward enough plot, but it’s still incredibly unique. And I’m obsessed.

David is sarcastic, self-centered, and materialistic in season 1 and… not much changes in season 3. However, we learn in the pilot that his friends back in New York have abandoned him since the family lost their money. They were relationships (friendships and otherwise) based in superficiality so it’s understandable to why David is emotionally closed off. The first person to break through that is Stevie who is David’s first genuine friend. Their friendship is hilarious and wonderful, despite the bumps along the way.

When David meets Patrick, he treats him coldly and defensively like anyone else in Schitt’s Creek, but Patrick is very clearly fascinated by David. You can see it all over his face. This one conversation tells you a lot about where Patrick is coming from. David is a rarity in Schitt’s Creek and certainly someone he’s never met before. At the end of their last scene in episode 8, the camera lingers on Patrick after David has left. Anyone who watches shows with queer goggles knew immediately that Patrick was gay. (Ex: I pointed and yelled at the screen, “That motherfucker is gay.”)

The thing is, David can’t tell Patrick is gay. His emotional walls prevent him from seeing Patrick as anything other than the guy at Ray’s. Patrick, to David’s credit, is playing this very subtly. He brings David’s business license that Alexis points out is framed. Hats off to Noah Reid, because in the simple stutter, “Actually, they… they come that way.” we know the frame means much more. Adding his crestfallen face after David rejects the frame as it’s too corporate for his brand tells you what kind of gesture Patrick meant to make it. This small moment sets up the progression of Patrick’s courage with David: any time he questions his romantic gesture, he stutters.

Back at the motel, Alexis hints to David that Patrick might be gay as he didn’t hit on her (which meant he was either newly married or that) and it’s not likely he’s only into the store concept. He usually dismisses her, but David takes this conversation to heart. He’s been so emotionally closed off from long before they were forced to move to Schitt’s Creek that it hadn’t been something he could have imagined. It also forces David’s idea of who can be queer to expand. While Jake (David’s season 2 fling) and Patrick are both more masculine men, we can assume that David is used to the kind of rhythm Jake brings: far away from everyone, secretive, and physical immediately.

The next day, Patrick comes to the store when David is alone. It’s in this scene where David smiles for the very first time around Patrick. It’s also a smile we’ve never seen before. It’s one of innocence and excitement. It’s a smile we can imagine David having in his teenage years with his first crush.

Meanwhile, there is nothing about Patrick that says he denying his sexuality or his attraction to David. Patrick’s admission of purchasing the frame is a flirting ritual we’ve seen numerous times in straight relationships on television. And like those couples, we are given the exact same kind of reaction. We don’t get any moody expository moment of Patrick being ashamed to divulge his identity to David. It just is what it is. They both know what is happening.

Every step through their budding relationship is a small one. Nothing about it is rushed. It’s romantic tension, not sexual tension.

In the season finale, Patrick takes David out for his birthday but David doesn’t realize it’s meant to be a date until Stevie points it out. David knows Patrick is interested in him, yet fails to put the two together. Prior to Patrick, it’s probable that David had never been asked out on a date. His reaction to Patrick’s gift is so sweet, the realization that this is a relationship that is starting out of romance instead of sex. Meanwhile, Patrick is smooth and confident… until Stevie shows up because David invited her. Obviously Patrick doesn’t oppose to being seen with David alone and he’s met Stevie. She’s seen them interact. But he stutters after her arrival. The nervousness is from giving an obviously sentimental gift to David on what he believed to be a date, a sentiment anyone can relate to.

The pinnacle of the finale is the car scene. As Patrick is dropping David back off at the motel, they kiss. It’s brief, but means so much to both characters. In the silence, you can see David weighing if that was the best decision, but we quickly learn that Patrick had been waiting for something like that his whole life. It’s his first kiss with a man and he thanks David. While this doesn’t seem like much, Patrick is not thanking David for confirming his sexuality. He’s thanking David for taking that final step. It would have been easy to slip this final conversation into something that takes us into Patrick’s coming out story. It’s a common trope in Queer From A Small Town. With limited options and opportunities, writers will often make this the experiment that confirms the character’s sexuality. But Patrick knows who he is without hesitation. This wasn’t a test if he liked David romantically, but if David had similar feelings. They slip back into their usual banter as David exits the car, but this time it’s infused with affection and excitement for what lies ahead.

And that’s where we’re left. There’s no lesson to be learned. No one randomly goes into a soliloquy about how hard their queer identity is. No one explains their sexuality. It is just two people who have mutual crushes naturally finding their way to each other. The show has allowed David and Patrick to be people, not props for a queer agenda or a “very special episode”, and it is so refreshing. We know they’re queer because it’s two men in a relationship. We don’t need to be hit over the head with it. It’s the slow-burn that mimics a reality for many queer people that hasn’t been represented. I’ve always been a romantic, so I’m so incredibly happy to see a relationship that looks exactly like what I want for my life.

Dan Levy has made a point in saying that he refuses to let David become a caricature of the queer community and I agree with him wholeheartedly. Not only is David not a caricature, but he defies many tropes of queer characters before him. David openly pansexual, an identity that has not been represented in media, and no one gives him any trouble for it. He doesn’t have an overabundance of casual sex like many bisexual portrayals. He comes out once and his sexuality is mentioned very little after that. We are here with these characters every week so we know who they are. David is so much more than a lesson in queerness.

If there is a lesson, it comes in the analyzation of the show: that queer romance has all the same tenets as straight romance. The butterflies, the nervousness, the uncertainty, the twitterpated heart, the joy. Queerness does not have to be centerstage in a queer romance. The center of romance is love and that is universal.

(Full disclosure #2: I was lucky enough to see a screening of the season 4 premiere at Vulture Fest this past weekend, so I know where they take the relationship. No spoilers because I don’t ever want to be on Dan Levy’s bad side, but I am positively exploding with delight. The whole episode is lovely and hilarious and I’m in physical pain that I can’t discuss it with anyone.)

Schitt’s Creek returns January 9th.