Orphan Black explores the question of who owns a woman’s body

Tatiana Maslany recently gave an interview to TV Guide. They were talking to her about her upcoming role as Aziz Ansari’s love interest on Parks and Recreation, but the conversation quickly turned to Orphan Black and clones.

In the final episode of season one on Orphan Black, the clone Cosima, a scientist, does some binary decoding and discovers a patent is listed in the DNA of the clones. They are the “property” of Neolution.

Tatiana Maslany as the clones
Tatiana Maslany as the clones

TV Guide asked about that.

At the end of Season 1, we learned that the clones are actually trademarked, so will the question of freedom be a running theme in Season 2?

Tatiana Maslany: It resonates differently for each of them. There’s something about that idea of ownership over your body that I feel is quite resonant to women. It’s so interesting that it’s in the context of clones, but it’s all women dealing with this idea of, “Do I own my body? Is my body mine? Who am I if I don’t own my body? Who am I if somebody else has decided all this stuff?” I think Sarah is a fiercely rebellious person, so anybody putting her in a box is when she’ll lose her sh–. Cosima is fascinated with this concept because of the science of it and because of the way that she can break things down and understand them better. Alison bought into it. It’s cool that they all deal with it very differently.

In the current political climate in the United States, where right wing activists are pushing bills through state legislatures that take away women’s rights to govern their own bodies, this is a particularly interesting topic for a TV show to take on. I cannot wait to see how the issue is dealt with in the fictional world of Orphan Black.

The value of science fiction

The value of science fiction is that it lets us take a look at issues and talk about them in a place away from an emotionally fraught reality.

On the SyFy channel, Continuum is doing something similar to Orphan Black, but on a different topic. Season 1 of Continuum describes the premise best. (It gets lost in the action a bit in season 2.) Here’s the premise. The show opens in a world 65 years in the future. There is no illusion of government left, there is only the corporation. THE corporation. The corporation rules the world for its own good.

Several people from this world get sent back in time, including the series star Rachel Nichols. She plays Kiera Cameron, a cop in the future who falls into a role as a cop here in our time. She is desperate to get back to her own time and her family. Many of the people who traveled back in time a part of an organization called Liberate which is trying to prevent the corporation from rising to power. Kiera wants to prevent this because she thinks it will change the future and her chances of being reunited with her family will be lost. It’s an Occupy movement story, a 99% story, using time travel as the vehicle.

These are two important issues. Do you find that thinking about things like this in relation to a fictional world like Orphan Black or Continuum has an effect on how you feel about such issues in the real world?

Images ©BBC America.

Ray Donovan is a Wow!

I’ve never liked Jon Voight. I don’t have a good reason, he’s just never done anything for me. Of course I’ve seen him in a lot of things – there’s no avoiding the man. But, wow, he found the vehicle of a lifetime in Ray Donovan on Showtime. He is so perfectly Mickey Donovan – his walk, his tone of voice, his expressions, his questionable sincerity – his entire being is flawless in this part.

I, who would never see anything simply because Jon Voight was it in, am telling you to see this if you can because of Jon Voight. If you don’t have Showtime, file it away as a must watch on Netflix or Amazon or Hulu or someplace like that in the future.

The series is currently nearing the end of season 1. Here’s the trailer.

Voight aside, the entire cast is exceptionally good at creating the gritty and steamy world of Ray Donovan.

The title character Ray is played by Liev Schreiber. He’s an Olivia Pope from Scandal fixer sort of guy, except he uses violence more than cunning to do his job. Ray takes care of the illegal and misguided antics of the rich folks in L.A. while Olivia is keeping D.C. running smoothly.

Liev Schreiber
Liev Schreiber as Ray Donovan

Ray is a family man, as his father Mickey is attempting to be on his return from 20 years in prison. But Ray keeps his family in the dark about his less than admirable work life. This is a source of conflict with his wife (ably played by Paula Malcomson) and his two kids (played by Kerris Dorsey and Devon Bagby). Ray is close to his brothers, Terry (Eddie Marsan) and Bunchy (Dash Mihok). As the story gets underway, Ray learns that he has a African-American half-brother, who serves to help push the plot line involving Mickey’s devotion to black women and their asses. (Mickey definitely knows what twerking is.) The half brother, played by Pooch Hall – a boxer in real life –  has been hanging around the boxing gym Terry runs. Terry and Bunchy both knew about the relationship for years, a fact that does not sit well with Ray.

That’s as far as family love goes with Ray. He hates Mickey for reasons that haven’t been fully explained yet. He doesn’t want his father near his own family or hanging around with his brothers – both things Mickey immediately does on getting home from prison.

The series is a rich drama with lots of stories intertwining from a past full of secrets and lies as well as Ray’s present unsavory work. Worthy of special mention as supporting players are Kerris Dorsey (you may remember her from Brothers and Sisters) as the teen-aged daughter, Katherine Moennig (from The L Word) as one of Ray’s assistants, Elliott Gould as a business partner hiding secrets from the past while quietly going cuckoo, and Paula Malcomson as Ray’s wife.

A woman, Ann Biderman, is the series creator and writer. This matters to me.

Showtime will let you watch episode 1 for free. I urge you to take advantage of the offer.

All images property of Showtime.

The L Word Opening Credits (Season Six)

The idea is that you can get everything you need to know about an episode of The L Word from just the opening credits. If you know who was in an episode, you can remember what happened, right? Well, that’s my contention and I’m here to bring you the recap of final season of The L Word using nothing but the opening credits. Continue reading “The L Word Opening Credits (Season Six)”

WIGS: Diana Nyad documentary

The web series WIGS created a documentary about Diana Nyad. It seems a fitting tribute to post it today. Yesterday the 64 year old swimmer achieved her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida. She did it in 52 hrs, 54 mins and 18.6 sec without the protection of a shark cage. She is the first person in history to accomplish this feat of endurance and determination.

Here’s to Diana Nyad!

Magic Mike: A Review

It may be old news on movie reviews here at Old Ain’t Dead for a while, because I recently came into 3 months of free HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and Encore. I’m going to have a ball catching up on things I haven’t seen for the next 3 months. The first thing I watched in this movie bonanza was Magic Mike.

Matthew McConaughey
Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike.

Magic Mike takes place in the world of male strippers. It features Matthew McConaughey as Dallas, the organizer and promoter of a crew of male strippers. The Mike with the magic moves is played by Channing Tatum.

Alex Pettyfer plays Adam, a dissolute drifter that Mike brings into the stripping world. This introduces Mike to Adam’s sister Brooke, played by Cody Horn.

Channing Tatum
Channing Tatum in Magic Mike.

There’s a lot of naked male flesh – I’ll get to that in a minute.

First, the plot. Mike is saving his money to open a business making one-of-a-kind furniture, for which he has a real gift. He works all sorts of jobs to generate enough cash to fulfill his dream. On one of his jobs, he meets Adam, whom he befriends. I fail to see why Mike likes Adam or why he helps him – the guy is a mess and obviously trouble. It must be a reflection on Mike’s sterling character. Mike introduces Adam to his boss at the strip club (Matthew McConaughey) and gets him a big money gig as a stripper.

Mike is pining over the girl who got away, played by Olivia Munn, while also falling for Brooke, who was enabling Adam’s irresponsibility long before Mike came along and joined in the game.

We see many, many strip shows mixed in with the story of Mike and his longing to be a creative furniture maker with a nice girlfriend.

The guys strip down to bare everything but the essentials and cavort in highly sexualized ways. Young guys, perfect bodies, lots of hip grinding and thrusting and sexy sexy. Before I express an opinion about the sexy sexy, take a look at the teaser.

Naked Men

I may be really misjudging the intentions of the people who made this film, but I think it’s a comment on the double standard we have in American society about male sexuality and female sexuality. It’s like that awful host at the Oscars who pointed to every woman in the audience who bared her breasts in a role while nary a penis appears on a screen anywhere. Was he just being an ass or was he making a point about equality and the sorry double standard we live with? Magic Mike seems to be scoring points for feminism.

If this film had been about women, they would have been shamed as sluts. There would have been a public outcry. When Miley Cyrus does a sexy dance with Robin Thicke, the only person who gets vilified is Miley Cyrus. But nobody has a complaint when men bare it all, wriggle their asses, and simulate sex for a group of screaming women. In fact, when this movie first came out I saw all sorts of positive tweets about how awesome the hunky guys were and not a single complaint about bare asses.

Magic Mike is a role reversal. The person caught in a seamy sex worker’s life is a man, not a woman. The person who is desperate to make enough money to build a different life outside of sex work is a man, not a woman. Otherwise, it’s a film we’ve seen a hundred times before with women doing all the sexy, sexy. It’s a story about the objectification of the male body instead of the usual objectification of women. There is one exception to the role reversal. We don’t see the penis. No penis, no perfect analogy to what women are asked to bare in films.

Magic Mike is a fair movie, not great, but not awful. It’s full of gorgeous guys who are true eye candy. In many ways, it’s a chick flick: predictable plot, likeable protagonist, love interest, lovely to look at while you’re viewing it, but not something you’ll remember forever as great drama.

The film was released in 2012. DVDs will be available in October, and can be preordered on the magicmikemovie site.

All images ©2012 Warner Bros.

In a World: A Review

In a World is terrific.

In a World poster

In a World is the from the mind of Lake Bell. She wrote it, directed it, and stars in it. Her character – Carol – wants to do voice overs. Carol is a quirky and very likable woman. Carol’s father Sam, played by real voice over artist Fred Melamed, discounts her dreams because she’s a woman and women don’t become voice over stars. In addition, her father is currently the biggest name in voice over acting, and he doesn’t like the idea of an upstart daughter being his competition.

The title comes from the voice of Don LaFontaine, the legendary voice over star who made the phrase “in a world” the famous opening of many a movie trailer. The death of this real Hollywood personality left a hole in the voice over world that several in Lake Bell’s fictional world attempt to fill.

Carol, her sister Dani (Michaela Watkins) her father and her father’s younger girlfriend Jamie (Alexandra Holden) make up a family with its unique set of issues and jealousies and support systems. The sisters are beautifully close. I enjoyed the twists in how the family dynamics played out, and especially Jamie’s surprise influence on how Sam behaved as a father.

Dani has her own storyline separate from Carol around her relationship with her husband Moe, played by Rob Corddry. Another storyline is Carol’s hunt for work and her voice recording work in a studio run by a guy named Louis, played by relative newcomer Demetri Martin. (Louis is a romantic interest, too.) Other characters in the recording studio are played by Stephanie Allynne, who has a real knack for physical comedy, and Tig Nagaro, who gets a couple of good laughs. Ken Marino is Gustav, another of the voice over artists in the race to become the new voice to utter “in a world” in future movie trailers. Gustav uses his oily charm to seduce Carol before he realizes that she is his mentor Sam’s daughter and another aspiring voice over talent.

Eva Longoria is hilarious as Eva Longoria. Geena Davis is perfect as a crusader for women’s power in Hollywood. Cameron Diaz did an uncredited bit as an Amazon warrior.

The movie is funny with lots of opportunities to laugh, a few opportunities to wince at a character’s pain, and an ending that deserves applause. I don’t want to give you a lot of details because the ending is unusual. As I was leaving I heard several different people make positive comments, so I wasn’t the only moviegoer who was happy with the movie.

You can watch the trailer in the earlier post Where in the World is In a World?

All images ©Roadside Attractions

New TV season shows I can’t wait to see

The summer shows are fun and I love quite a few of them, but I’m eager for the new seasons of some old favorites. Here’s what I’m looking forward to. What about you?

Lost Girl

Season 4 can’t get here soon enough for me. It airs first in Canada on Showcase beginning in November. Then there’s an agonizing wait for the U.S. showings on SyFy. At the end of season 3, Bo was off somewhere unknown meeting her father – maybe. Dyson and Tamsin disappeared in a puff of black smoke when their truck went over a cliff. Lauren was in a science lab creating Fae from humans and nobody knew where she went after everyone else escaped. Kenzi was driving a hot car with Bruce beside her. Trick had gone to Scotland with his lady love. And where the heck was Hale? Obviously the beginning of season 4 requires explaining where everyone has been and how they all get back together.

Guest stars that have been mentioned for season 4 include George Takei (from Star Trek), Mia Kirshner (from The L Word), and Ali Liebert (from Bomb Girls). If the guest stars are any indication, things should be fun on Lost Girl.

Here’s a bit of a teaser for season 4. Lost Girl season 4 is currently filming in Toronto.

House of Cards

House of Cards was Netflix first attempt at original programming and it was superb! (I can’t wait for season 2 of Netflix’s other great series, Orange is the New Black, either.) House of Cards won’t show up until sometime in the spring of 2014, but it is definitely worth the wait if it maintains the quality it had in season 1.

This political drama felt completely real. Or if not real, at least valid and true. Stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, and Kate Mara were especially good, but the cast was large and there were many compelling performances.

Netflix released this trailer for season 2, which is currently filming in the Baltimore area.


Nashville season 2 begins in September 25 on ABC, less than a month away. I love anything with singing (Glee, Smash, Nashville – I’ll watch ’em all.) People we don’t normally think of as musicians are leading the cast of this show and doing a really fine job as Nashville singing stars: Connie Britton, Hayden Panettiere, and Charles Esten in particular. Clare Bowen is my favorite in terms of singing. She plays Scarlett, a folky type who reminds me of Emmy Lou Harris.

A theme of the show has been the conflict between young and old country music, personified by Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton. They get forced together in ways they don’t want and are very different. Both have confused personal lives and troubled love lives. A troubled love life leads to the finale of season 1, which was a disastrous car wreck.

I don’t know if you were a fan of Friday Night Lights (if you weren’t, you should have been) but there is just something completely wonderful about Connie Britton. She’s fabulous. I’m so glad we get to see her in another great series – with SINGING.

Here’s a teaser for season 2.

Grey’s Anatomy

Season 10. Can you believe it? We’ve been watching Grey’s Anatomy since Shonda Rhimes only had one show on TV. They announced recently that Sandra Oh is leaving the show. What will Meredith do without her person?

The new season begins in September with a 2 part opening episode. At the end of season 9, Arizona and Callie were in danger of breaking up, Richard was possibly electrocuted, Meredith was pregnant – the usual Grey’s drama. Over the years Grey’s has had its wins and losses, people have come and gone, story lines have succeeded and failed. But it’s always been engaging and I keep going back.

I couldn’t find an actual preview video for season 10, but three of the cast members do talk about season 10 in this video.

The Good Wife

I say that I want to see the new season of The Good Wife with some trepidation. Season 4 wasn’t good. They lost their way a bit. There were fabulous guest stars, but those guest stars got too much of the screen time, there were too many court room scenes, Kalinda’s (Archie Panjabi) story was just dropped, and Alicia (Julianna Margulies) can’t figure out what the holy hell she’s doing. I think Alicia is fascinating in her own guarded and self-contained way. However, the queen of self-contained and guarded is Kalinda. She is the most interesting character in The Good Wife. If we don’t see more of her in season 5, I think it’s going to be the end for me and The Good Wife.

When season 4 ended, Alicia was leaving Lockhart Gardner to start a new firm with Cary. That will add some drama to the relationships we already have going on the show. We don’t know where Kalinda will end up – I sincerely hope it’s with Alicia and Cary, but there haven’t been any clues.

The new season starts in September. Here’s a teaser. It seems to acknowledge that the show went off the rails a bit in season 4 with its claims to be back.


Scandal, like House of Cards, has a ring of truth about politics and Washington that makes it fascinating. This Shonda Rhimes series begins in September with season 3.

I could talk about Kerry Washington and Tony Goldwyn and the other excellent cast members. They deserve the attention. Instead, I want to make a big fuss over Guillermo Díaz.

Guillermo Díaz has been around a while. You may remember him from Mercy or Weeds. There are currently 78 titles on his filmography page at IMDB, so I know you’ve seen him before in more than one thing. But the job he’s doing as Huck on Scandal is phenomenally outstanding. He should have had an Emmy nomination for best supporting actor, but he didn’t get one. As a defender of justice I’m here to announce that Guillermo Díaz is doing amazing work on Scandal and he should get a million awards for acting.

Now that I’m finished with my Guillermo Díaz rant, I can get back to the bigger picture on Scandal, which is the steely and powerful Olivia Pope and her Machiavellian schemes to control situations for people in Washington who screw up, including the President. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.

This promo video is more about Kerry Washington’s Emmy nom than season 3, but it’s the only thing available right now.

I haven’t even mentioned The Walking Dead or How I Met Your Mother, which is on its last season, or Elementary, or Castle or a whole lot of other good shows. Which of your favorites are you most eager to see?

Guillermo Diaz image from The Jasmine Brand.

TV Shows for Fall 2013 that Look Good

Here are some upcoming shows for fall that look pretty good. I’m not aware of everything that’s coming up, so if you know of something good I’ve missed, give me a shout in the comments.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This Joss Whedon show will be on ABC on Tuesdays. Shows based on comic books usually don’t do much for me, but Joss Whedon is always dependable and I’ll be watching. There are not one, but two, important female stars in this one. See, that’s why I trust Joss Whedon with my time.

The Crazy Ones

This CBS comedy stars Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar as a father and daughter team of advertising execs. It looks funny and charming.


Monday nights on CBS you can see the incomparable Toni Collette with Dylan McDermott in Hostages.


This NBC drama features Gillian Anderson, which is just about the only thing I need to know to be watching. Dermot Mulroney, Lance Gross and Rachel Taylor are also starring. This show doesn’t start until midseason, or as Kyle Nolan, who first mentioned it to me put it – it doesn’t start until after football.

I can usually tell from a trailer if I’m going to like something or not be interested. These shows definitely look interesting to me. What’s on your watch list for fall?

Image of Toni Collette and Dylan McDermott ©CBS

The L Word Opening Credits (Season Five)

Recapping season 5 of The L Word using nothing to tell the story but the opening credits. That’s what’s happening right here. Continue reading “The L Word Opening Credits (Season Five)”

Entertainment is a gift, hating on entertainers isn’t

We have a serious problem with our entertainment. We think we own it. We think we own the stories, the characters, the actors. We think it’s ours to dictate and control. If it isn’t the way we want it to be, we get vicious.

Entertainment is a gift to us, created and conceived for our enjoyment by someone else. We don’t know or own that someone else.

It’s the Internet. It’s Twitter. It’s message boards. You can say whatever lame-brained thing you want and send it out into the world. It’s so easy, even I can do it.

That doesn’t make it right.

Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston
Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad

Actress Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad wrote this op-ed piece: Breaking Bad star Anna Gunn: I have a character issue. She made several good points in her post, including this one.

At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me. The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks. One such post read: “Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?” Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her?

Before I started this blog, I was putting an occasional pop culture post on one of my other blogs. That’s where you’ll find Dear Lesbian Bloggers, Isn’t it Time to Forgive? The post is about the resentment many directed toward The L Word. In that post, I stated,

I surfed around among many lesbian writers, sampling what they had to say about The L Word. I was surprised when I discovered a plethora of complaints, vilifications, and shaming. Nobody liked Ilene Chaiken. Nobody was satisfied with the plot. The characters were all too pretty. It wasn’t realistic. Everyone was mad because Dana died. Everyone hated Jenny. And on, an on, and on.

On the blog Dorothy Surrenders the other day, I saw On Faith and Fandom. She was talking about the attacks on two actresses because of their personal beliefs.

Which leads me to the recent heated fandom debates – to put it very mildly; you should see the email folder I’ve made for all the messages – over Rachel Skarsten of “Lost Girl” and most recently Laura Prepon of “Orange Is the New Black.” Both have been tied to churches that are reportedly anti-gay.

Fans argued that it was okay to hate a character and the person who plays her because of a religious belief. Even though before they knew this one personal thing about the person, they loved the character and the actor playing her. Nothing about the show or the character changed.

Love a show? Then watch it.

Is there some show you love? Breaking Bad or Orange is the New Black, perhaps. Yea! Then watch it for your entertainment pleasure. It’s a gift to you from a network and a creator and a producer and a huge crew and a lot of actors who work for months to bring you said entertainment. If the show you love has a message or a larger cultural meaning about good and evil or visibility for LGBT people or some other topic dear to your heart, good for it! You can support the show on that basis.

If the show you love has a character you like or don’t like (because every drama has to have a protagonists AND an antagonist or nothing dramatic happens) then good for the show’s creators for giving you characters that make you care.

The thing is, it’s fiction. It’s story. It’s made up. The actors are not the characters. And neither the actors or the characters belong to you. You don’t get to judge entertainment based on the actor’s personal lives. You don’t get to hate them when the characters they play don’t do exactly what you want. Just because you feel invested in a story or character, it’s still mass entertainment and not your personal possession.

Here’s how Shonda Rhimes (Gray’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal) put it on Twitter:

Advice from Uncle Bill

When I was a kid, my Uncle Bill was a theater manager. That was back in the day when Elizabeth Taylor was a huge star. She was on her 5th or 6th marriage, and I commented to Uncle Bill about not wanting to see her latest movie because she got married all the time. He said, “Look at her her acting. Look at the work. That’s all that matters.”

Look at the work. A lot of people did a lot of work to tell you a story. Watch it with pleasure or don’t watch it at all. But don’t threaten to harm the people telling you the stories.

Breaking Bad image ©AMC