Lady Dynamite gets pally with beaux and boundaries

LD AVC 1.5 beaux boundaries“I stop with my hands! Which means I’m on an adventure!” Maria warns the
coffeehouse crowd early in “I Love You.” Maria’s wheeling out of
control, and not just because she’s on rollerblades. This episode’s is all about establishing and respecting boundaries, but almost no one in it knows how. Read my full review of “I Love You” at The A.V. Club.

Lady Dynamite solves racism! Yay!

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 7.26.41 PM

“White Trash,” the third episode of Lady Dynamite, shows the many ways well-intentioned people do harm. Grappling consciously with her own unconscious racism, Maria manages to perpetuate racism instead, in an episode as layered and complex as Mira Sorvino’s multi-level guest appearance. Read my full review of “White Trash” at The A.V. Club.

looking down

My late father has been very much with me for the last day or two. Yesterday, I fixed a moderately vexing problem with just patience and electrical tape, and I could picture him looking down at me in approval as I sat on the floor, tracing the trouble to its source.

Later, I took a break from work just in time to catch some of Jeopardy, including a category all about Peter and the Wolf, which he used to play for us with enthusiastic gestures and exaggerated expressions.

I don’t believe, not even a little bit, in life after death. And that’s okay. But it’s still comforting to feel his presence, however illusory.

We all die. But none of us vanish, because you carry the people you love with you — in your heart, in your head, in your memories.

Lady Dynamite trusts its gut and sings its heart out

Screen Shot 2016-05-26 at 9.34.49 PM“Bisexual Because Of Meth,” the second episode of Lady Dynamite, poses some worst-case scenarios, then shows that even the worst case is rarely quite that bad. The episode tries to have its meth cake and smoke eat it, too, by sending up some ugly tropes even as it gleefully exploits them. But ultimately — and in keeping with Bamford’s comic voice — it’s a hopeful story about learning to trust your gut and sing your heart out. Read my full review of “Bisexual Because Of Meth” at The A.V. Club.

bodies of work

AVQ&A body-shamingAt The A.V. Club, I take part in an AVQ&A spurred by Amy Schumer’s call-out of Glamour for including her in their special plus-sized edition’s list of “women who inspire us.”

On Twitter, I mentioned: On reflection, I wish I’d thought to mention (and celebrate) women whose physical type is neither the Hollywood norm nor “plus-sized.” Women like Leslie Jones, whose sexuality is often treated as a punchline, but who OWNS that stage when she’s on it. Women like Gwendoline Christie, who is commonly cast in fantasy roles, as if she can’t fit into reality.

Because the narrow range of bodies TV & films feature isn’t just about slenderness; it’s being tall but not “too” tall, strong but not “too” strong, being muscular and slim, but not “too” muscular or “too” slim. It’s about being effortlessly able-bodied, but not “too” able. It’s an unstated, ever-present ideal that has come to represent “normal” in entertainment, an ideal impossible for most women.

And it’s about demeanor as well as appearance. It’s about being sexually appealing, but never “too” sexual, which is cast as rapacious or predatory or pathetic. It’s about fitting into an impossibly narrow margin of arbitrarily designated desirability, one that’s so narrowly defined in TV & film that casting someone who’s just a few inches outside those margins seems strikingly exotic.


In recent years, I’ve identified heavily with Lauren Ash’s characters: strapping, vigorous, powerful women, whose strength & sexuality are punchlines. In Super Fun Night and in Superstore, she reads as BIG and STRONG, so I was jolted to realize she’s inches (and presumably several sizes) smaller than I am. Even her characteristic presentation as larger-than-life (and my easy confusion about her actual size) shows what a narrow range TV accepts as normative, and how easy it is to convey otherness by casting a few inches outside it.

(I started to add these follow-up remarks to the article’s comments over at The A.V. Club, then I realized no one could pay or persuade me to wade into the comments of an article where I described myself as plus-sized. AND YOU CAN’T MAKE MEEEEEEEEEEEE.)