This Is Us Episodes 2 & 3: Call Your Dad

By: M.K. Killen

Episode 2 of This Is Us explores the emotional trauma of alcoholism and the vulnerability people feel when they know someone is looking up to them.  Episode 3 followed up with unresolved trauma from the death of a loved one, particularly a father figure.

This Is Us has consistently done a great job at validating nontraditional families, sticking to the theme that no one is perfect—even the people who seem like it.  The past two weeks they tackled the father figure.

As they delved into the depths of Jack’s alcoholism and the strain it put on his familial relationship, the writers also managed to build up a stronger sense of family.  Jack says he can’t do it on his own, and in one of the most touching moments of the season thus far, admits his failures to his daughter Kate.

A man who in all ways seems perfect, who is immortalized in his children’s memories, this moment of weakness in Jack was powerful.  A father never wants to disappoint his children, to show them he’s not the perfect role model, but that’s not how life works: people make mistakes, people have personal struggles.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Randall tries to account for and calculate everything in life.  His ridiculously type A personality that pushed him into a breakdown last season, is driving him to make changes this season.  Randall’s new role as Mr. Mom, paired with his excitement about bringing a new child into the house is adorable.

His fear for his own family by changing the dynamic—and his own thoroughly considered plans—when Beth suggests fostering an older child is equally moving.

Viewers can see how growing up with a Jack as a father, truly shaped Randall as both a father and a husband.

In episode 3, we get a glimpse into Kate and Kevin’s opposing methods of coping with their father’s death—Kate speaks about him all the time, and Kevin avoids the subject at all costs.  We also see how Randall’s biological father, Walter, influenced his grandchildren and will leave a lasting impact on their new foster daughter, Deja, even after his death.

While the This Is Us cast continues to grow, the looming reveal of Jack’s death casts a shadow over new characters.  With Kevin’s emotional breakdown after the realization he repressed all emotions after his father’s death, viewers can tell discussion of Jack’s death is imminent.

The lesson we can take away is, dead or alive, perfect or perfectly imperfect, if your memories are overall good or bad, you owe a lot to your dad.

I’m Gonna Leave You Anyway…

Photo courtesy of FX.com

By: M.K. Killen

Season four of FXX’s “You’re The Worst” kicked off Sept. 6, 2017, 10 months after the season three finale which dropped two consecutive bombshells on fans.  The first three seasons of the anti-romantic romantic comedy follow the budding relationship of two unlucky-in-love and all around terrible people Jimmy and Gretchen.

The seemingly self-aware narrative deals with the sordid lives of millennials in Los Angeles, who often serve as their own antagonists.

Covering themes like monogamy, domestic abuse, PTSD, clinical depression and the mystery of the human condition, the show makes use of the dark comedy popularized on the network by “Louie” and “Fargo.”  Though “You’re The Worst” is arguably more tame, it still contains scenes that cross the line from black comedy into just plain morose and bizarre.

Continue reading “I’m Gonna Leave You Anyway…”

Comedy Central to host Justin Bieber roast

By Liam McGurl

[Image courtesy of Splashpress.com]

On Jan. 20, Comedy Central announced the upcoming premiere of their newest special The Roast of Justin Bieber.  It is assumed that millions will tune in on March 30 to watch this controversial heartthrob get grilled with insults.

In past years, Comedy Central has been home to the roasts of Hollywood’s most talked-about public figures including James Franco, Charlie Sheen and David Hasselhoff. For those who haven’t tuned in for any of the previous seasons, these roasts feature a panel of celebrities who take turns at slighting the celebrity “roastee” of the season.  With all of the recent talk about Bieber’s arrests, partying and alleged photoshopped Calvin Klein ads, it is likely that the show will be met with better reviews than previous seasons.

As if a Bieber roast couldn’t get any better, Comedy Central’s very own Kevin Hart will serve as roast master.  “I’ll definitely tune in and watch the roast—especially since Kevin Hart is hosting the show,” said freshman accounting major Madeline McDonald.  “I think it’ll be nice to have some comic relief surrounding everything going on with Justin Bieber.”

Within the past year, Bieber’s name has been a recurring topic in the media.  Due to his police charges of dangerous driving and assault—after his ATV allegedly collided with a nearby minivan—viewers can expect the panel to have some things to say about that.   The celebrity roasting panel probably will not be forgetting about Biebers unsettlingly happy mug shot after his arrest for drag racing and allegations of the singer driving under the influence, either.

Even though Bieber had a year full of reckless behavior, it is safe to say that none of the roasters will fail to bring up Bieber’s long lasting pretty-boy reputation.  The audience should also expect an abundance of jabs at Biebers on and off relationship with “The Heart Wants What It Wants” singer Selena Gomez.  It is likely that some of the panel members will take a few shots at Bieber’s musical talent, given the constant debate between “Beliebers” and Bieber “Haters” over the quality of his music.

In the off chance that the group fails to bring up any of these topics, there’s always the trending hashtag “Deport Bieber,” which took over Twitter this past year.

“I’m not a huge Justin Bieber fan; I’m excited to see what everyone has to say about him,” said freshman english major Arshia Mehra.  “Making fun of Justin Bieber has been a huge thing for comedians over the past couple years.”

The Roast of Justin Bieber is likely to entertain just about anyone.  Whether viewers are fans of Bieber, could do without him or are indifferent, these specials seem to jerk a laugh out of anyone.

Grammys 2015: Highlights, winners and best moments

By Liam McGurl

[Image courtesy of cartoondollemporium.com]

The 57th annual Grammy Awards were a night full of glamour, performances and surprises — like Sam Smith tying Beyoncé with six nominations. As expected, LL Cool J opened the show wearing his signature beret for his fourth consecutive year.

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[Image courtesy of zap2it.com]

The early 70s rock band AC/DC opened the show performing their hit “Highway to Hell.”  From the get-go, it was clear that the night would be entertaining for everyone, young and old.

The night was full of similarly shocking performances, as Madonna performed a matador and bull themed rendition of “Living for Love.”  This performance was definitely the most controversial of the night as it featured an entourage of men dressed in bull horns and face masks alongside choir singers performing in gospel fashion.

Aside from Madonna’s sexually-charged performance, the night was full of fairly solemn acoustics – much different than the over-the-top nature of many past Grammy’s.

One of the most emotional solo performances of the night was Beyoncé’s soulful rendition of Thomas A. Dorsey’s gospel tune “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.”  Dressed in all white, surrounded by a choir of men in white tuxedos, Beyoncé effortlessly belted out the tune, earning her a standing ovation.  While Beyoncé’s singing brought tears to viewers’ eyes, winning “Best R&B Performance” for her Jay-Z collaboration “Drunk in Love” almost brought a few tears to her eyes.

Beyonce performs "Take My Hand" at the 57th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles

[Image courtesy of hellogiggles.com]

Katy Perry’s rendition of “By the Grace of God” was equally touching.  After listening to an introduction from President Barack Obama, followed by a speech from a survivor of domestic abuse, Perry delivered an emotional performance.  Full of smoke, shadow art and serious messages, Perry was the star of what might be the most memorable performance of the night.

Among these powerful performances were Ariana Grande’s production of “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” Kanye West’s surprisingly somber, and rap-lacking, performance of “Only One” and Sia’s slightly more upbeat theatrical production of “Chandelier” featuring actress and comedian Kristen Wigg as a Sia doppelganger.

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[Image courtesy of ew.com]

Maybe it was all of these emotional vocals, but even Pharrell’s “Happy” didn’t seem too happy. Regardless, whether or not Pharrell’s popular tune didn’t sound quite as cheerful, it’s a safe bet that he was after walking away with the Grammy for “Best Pop Solo Performance.”

While some may like the usual theatrical nature of the annual Grammy’s celebration, many appreciated this year’s focus on simplistic sets and tremendous vocals.  When it comes to these vocals, there is nothing better than a power-duet. Luckily, these were not in short supply this year.

Sam Smith and Mary J. Blige teamed up for an epic “Stay With Me” collaboration.  Even though the performance was met with an outstanding number of bravos, it’s a safe bet that the highlight of Smith’s night was walking away with four Grammy’s, including “Best New Artist,” “Best Pop Vocal Album,” “Song of the Year” and the coveted “Record of The Year” award.  One could say that Smith ran the Grammy’s— but that’s not much of a surprise to anyone.

While they might not have snagged any awards, Hozier and Annie Lennox joined forces for a mash up of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” and Lennox’s “I Put a Spell on You.”  Hozier’s soulful voice could have jerked a few tears while Lennox’s power ballad provided a successful comeback for this 80s performer.

Lennox wasn’t the only shocking comeback of the night, though.  Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga took to the stage to perform their hit Cheek To Cheek, which helped them to win the award for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.”  It was nice to see Gaga on stage since she has been out of the public eye for the past few months.

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine and Gwen Stefani collaborated on an electrifying performance of “My Heart Is Open.”  Much like Lennox and Gaga, Stefani was a pleasant surprise as her career had been in limbo for a few years.

For the ladies, Ed Sheeran and John Mayer’s “Thinking out Loud” collaboration was a crowd pleaser.  For the older folks, Sheeran and the Electric Light Orchestra’s rendition of “Mr. Blue Sky” was a highlight.

Overall, there were not many surprises, with the exception of not so well-known vocalist Beck snagging “Album of the Year” and Paramore’s Hailey Williams taking home the award for “Best Rock Song.”

As for the expected winners, the Clean Bandit and Jess Glyne collaboration “Rather Be” took home the Grammy for “Best Dance Recording,” A Great Big World and Christina Aguilera’s group effort “Say Something” took home the award for “Best Pop Duo/ Group Performance,” and Miranda Lambert received the Grammy for “Best Country Album.”

Sunday night brought about lots of laughs, tears and great performances — but we’re still wondering if Sam Smith struggled to carry all of those trophies on his way out.

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Probably not.