My American Gods bosses sent me this screenshot of my lil piece of the pie in the show’s opening credits. Maybe some day years from now my name on a screen will make me feel nothing but currently, it still gives me a hot zing of yay which is what I call all good feelings, just in general. COMING TO STARZ 4.30!
Being that I have a play that’s about Cake, watching the Great British Baking Show is actually NOT procrastination or distraction, it is in fact research. Thank God Netflix just added two seasons of it so I can continue this important work. I’m only one episode in, but I must go ahead and declare my favorite, Frances:
Frances designs children’s clothes for a living, and likes to make cake ‘fun.’ For the ‘sandwich cake’ challenge she made a cake that actually looks like a giant jam sandwich, complete with sugar wrapper that you peel off the sandwich before eating.
For the show stopper chocolate cake challenge, she made a SECRET SQUIRREL CAKE THAT HAS A SECRET CHOCOLATE SQUIRREL HIDING INSIDE OF IT.
FRANCES YOU SEE INTO MY HEART
There’s a thing going around instagram, Best 9, in which people post a grid of their best nine pictures from 2016, summing up a year in their lives. Whenever everyone is doing something it kind of makes me not want to do it, as I am no sheep, by which I mean BAAAAAAAA I’LL JUST DO IT HERE INSTEAD but with 24 pictures because I LIVE MY OWN LIFE (IN GRIDS.) And so with no further ado, it has been a magnificent year! I:
Ate that chicken pot pie in a blizzard, wrote for American Gods, had a beautiful production of my Heaven play at South Coast Rep, found the perfect overalls and wore them approximately 170 times, washed them about 3 times, took a surfing lesson with Elizabeth, had a Dewey’s pink lemonade cake to call my own at my Easter pot luck thanks to my Mom, ran a 5K with a little girl Monet who ate gummy savers the whole way thanks to Blaine, celebrated 2 years with Mo at Red Lobster, patroned Ru Paul’s drag con, got after that no speaking above a whisper resort life in Joshua Tree, spent some time writing at Space on Ryder farm in upstate New York, went to Carrie’s Beyonce themed beybe shower (then later welcomed and met her dear little Sebastian who I am now calling Bash / 2017 let’s see if we can get that going), and then also:
Had the most perfect of bridal showers complete with hats and tiny sandwiches, spun for 3 hours in YAS-a-thon for cancer research, made Ina Garten’s flag cake, welcomed little nephew Mojo, worked on The Cake at the Alliance, Echo and Ojai, did Vegas so hard bachelorette style, tried on a bunch of white dresses / picked one had a bunch dress fittings / obsessed over its details and its accessories namely did I ever mentioned that Ferris Bueller cropped leather coat? / GOT MARRIED / cast my vote for a woman president for the first time, attended Blaine and Jason’s non baby shower baby shower, read Vivian Howard’s incredible cookbook, and started writing for This is Us. And so, a great many things.
Last week I started to have dreams that I was left out of something creative, being mocked for output or performance. Personal favorite: I dreamt I had to play a drunk dog onstage and the reviews were terrible (this dream brought to you by the first night in Hong Kong, surrounded by every stimulus possible.) I think the dreams stem from a feeling that I haven’t accomplished enough creatively this year, like I haven’t dug enough into my own heart / brain. I’ve been working, yes, but I feel, in general, sort of uninspired, like the questioning part of my brain has been numbed. It’s most likely because the majority of all extra time and emotional brainspace I had went to wedding planning. And so, I will forgive myself, hope that 2017 brings characters / moments / stories / questions, big new ideas, but ALSO, more cakes / adult onesies / trips / love, FOR BALANCE.
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Hear ye, Hear ye: Queen Sugar on OWN and Atlanta on FX are the best new shows on TV this fall, and I WRITE for a show new to TV this fall (I selfishly and affectionately declare This is Us third best.) Exceptional tone, writing, acting, beautiful landscapes in each. Atlanta makes me laugh and squirm in a way I think I forgot how to. Queen Sugar is the first TV show to make me cry in, maybe ever. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that both were created by black writers and feature mostly black casts. Culturally, we need both shows, so badly. They reveal truth behind cliche and public perception. They are gritty and real, they are at once specific and UNIVERSAL. If, as a white writer, this means I need to step aside for a minute, I will step aside and aside and aside, and happily watch from said side as these shows change TV for the better.
I love many things about morning television, but I adore most this tendency: when the producers are like, nothing is happening in the world right now that is interesting to us so LET’S JUST GET OUR HANDS ON A WILD BIRD OR ANIMAL AND JUST SORT OF PUT IT THERE AND MAKE THE HOSTS PLAY WITH IT, and then America will be all, WHOA LOOK AT THAT THING! And we’ll all have a laugh, forgetting as per usual that we too are just wild animals given language and shoved into pants or skirt or skort.
If you are not watching this show I genuinely do not know what you’re doing with your life. It’s a reality baking competition, but with really lovely and polite British people who never get that upset. Everyone from blue collar workers to grandmas to high schoolers studying for their exams compete. Its episodes are called things like ‘Advanced Dough’ in which they make things called ‘savory parcels,’ and they are given challenges – at once tough and cheerful and adorable — like to craft towers of buttery pies shoved full of various fruits and chickens, adorned with tiny bread birds. Then these two really nice people — one the ‘mean’ guy and then Mary Barry, who I think is Britain’s Martha Stewart?
give them feedback on their bakes. The harshest criticism is Not a good bake to which the baker responds, Alright then! Better luck next time, then! There is a cheeriness and cleanliness to the episodes that makes it the TV version of floating on a cloud of angel food. And the products are quite incredible:
There’s more episodes than I care to fully deal with on Netflix. Join me. BUT WHATEVER YOU DO DON’T EVER ACTUALLY EAT ANY ACTUAL CAKE OR OR BISCUITS OR ROLLS OR PIE OR SAVORY PARCELS OR ANY OTHER KIND OF BREAD . WHAT ARE YOU, NUTS MMM NUTS ARE GOOD IN BREAD BREAD GOOD
Hi, I has new job! I am honored and stoked beyond recognition to get to work on the first season of a Starz show based on the epic and epically beautiful novel American Gods by Neil Gaiman. HI TO NEIL AND TO NEIL’S GOOGLE ALERT. It’s only a book about all of the Old World Gods who have been brought over to America by immigrants, who live among us, but are dying out as no one believes in them anymore — waring with New Gods — media and internet and war and fear. It is only about Everything Ever. It is only about agency and selfhood and faith and God and Gods and money and holidays and tv and dreams and Babylon and Ireland and Genies and morality and loss and gain. JUST THOSE THINGS. I find myself thrust into the very center of every giant question we should be asking ourselves, both personal and political. I think it has the potential to be a show that is theatrical and big but small and specific and forces us to look out ourselves in an arrestingly truthful way. ONLY THOSE THINGS. Okay so off to build a tower of books to climb up to this VERY HIGH BAR.
TV, YOU ARE SO GREAT RIGHT NOW! The past week, I have been preaching this new Netflix show’s gospel to everyone I meet, spreading its word. It’s Tina Fey’s new genius mindbaby. Ellie Kemper plays a girl who spent the past 15 years in an underground bunker, after a cult leader convinced her that the apocalypse was coming. She gets rescued, and promptly moves to New York. The product is brilliant. It’d be too easy to just make a show about ‘naive girl from Indiana moves to the Big City! Does stupid things!’ But the layer of her literal separation from society for the past few decades makes her naiveté incredibly real and sympathetic. I love this show so much. It is colorful, adorable, optimistic, but most importantly, it is SMART. It is not quirky, it is clever, and it is relevant. Tina first set it up at a network, but they passed and are now most likely kicking themselves and also binging this show. While the Netflix / binge model of the hour long show, for me, promotes hermitage and ‘wait, when is the last time I stood up?’ I’m really liking the half hour show binge. Honestly, if Kimmy episodes were being dropped once a week — I MIGHT have disengaged. But this way, I can grab an episode here and there at my leisure. A 26 minute episode serves as a reward for work complete, but is not long enough to suck you out of work mode. It’s the best. TINA AND ALSO NETFLIX, DON’T EVER STOP.
I just wanted to voice in this public space that I am loving this new HBO show, so much. It’s about a married couple in LA, and their friends, their kids, their relationship. Seems simple, right? Perhaps too simple? But like any good show: the world is perhaps familiar, but the TONE, the SPECIFICS, the weird ways in which the characters express themselves, the worlds they find themselves in, all of these choices make the show explode with humor and sadness and grit. It’s arresting to watch it now, as I am not yet married — there are moments when the show makes me want to run screaming away, find celibacy in a cave somewhere forever. But ultimately, it makes me sort of long for the complications that marriage brings. It makes me want to feel the sort of love and connection and need to protect and provide for and fight for that I think comes from having kids. It’s about the future. It’s about love being tested by time, and what happens when two people continue to Grow Up way into their adulthoods. Grown ups CAN play dodgeball and make new friends and accidentally drink mushroom tea. You get older, it gets harder, but it gets better, and life never stops surprising you. BRING IT, LIFE! IF YOU COULD ALSO BRING A DODGEBALL THAT WOULD BE GREAT!
I had the pleasure of attending the Jane the Virgin premiere last night with my buddy and fellow tvwright (noun: a playwright who also writes for TV, I just decided) Chris Pena. It’s a new CW show about a girl, a virgin, who, through a bizarre series of events, scored with awesome score and narrated by hilarious narration, accidentally gets inseminated at her gyno. If it sounds insane, it’s because it is, but in a good way. It’s modeled after a telenovela, is aware of its form, and it is, to my MOST GREAT PLEASURE, straight up chock full of whimsy. I love whimsy. I love when whimsy knows that it’s whimsical. Call me simple or nuts, I just do. I especially love seeing it on TV, and even more especially love when its grounded in truthful and likable characters. I also had the pleasure of meeting a few of the lady actors:
These are not seasoned, jaded TV stars. These are actors who are happy and gracious grateful to be there, who are stoked to be a part of a show that’s innovative and re-energizing its network. Reminded me very much of the cast of Switched. TV, I LOVE YOU SO MUCH RIGHT NOW! I’m definitely going to keep watching this show, as should You.