Lucky Number Seven

Nerdy Girl Notes turns seven years old today!

If you would have asked me back on April 2, 2012, what I thought my life would be like seven years later, that young woman’s predictions would have been very different from how things turned out. But all those years ago, I knew I wanted NGN and the incredible people who make up the little family surrounding it to be a part of my life for as long as humanly possible. And I feel so blessed to know that seven years later, even after so much of my life has changed, NGN is still here for me to share my hopes and fears and thoughts and FEELINGS with all of you—and even more blessed to know that so many of you are still here for me to share all of those things with.

NGN itself is so different from what it was seven years ago. It’s gone through different stages (How did I ever review five shows a week?!) and chronicled different obsessions, but one thing remains the same: It’s a place that is driven by enthusiasm and love. I still love being able to write whenever inspiration strikes and the timing is right. And that’s why I wanted to take this opportunity to fill you in on what’s coming to NGN in the next few months!

After what has felt like the longest hiatus ever, NGN is returning to weekly content starting the week of April 15th! I’ll be back with my final round of Game of Thrones Moment of the Week posts (and maybe more about the show as we lead up to its finale), as well as weekly posts about FX’s new limited series Fosse/Verdon. As a dancer, a musical theater fangirl, a choreographer, and a reader who devoured the Sam Wasson biography this is based on, I have been eagerly awaiting the show since its announcement last year and knew right away I had to write about it. I’m not sure what form my posts will take yet and they’ll be starting after Episode 2 (because I’ll be soaking in the magic in Walt Disney World during the premiere), but I can’t wait to share all of my Gwen Verdon feelings and Cabaret love with all of you.

The fun will then continue into the summer with coverage of Big Little Lies and maybe some fun posts about movies, which I don’t write about enough around these parts.

Needless to say, I’m feeling very inspired lately and ready to share that inspiration with you. And I can’t think of a better mood to be in on NGN’s “blogiversary.” This little corner of the internet was founded on the belief that everyone needs a place where they can unashamedly love things, and I’m so thankful that so many of you continue to embrace that mindset along with me.

If you’ve been here for seven years or seven seconds, if you comment regularly or would rather remain an anonymous reader, if you visited for a specific show or have followed me through more fandoms than we can count—thank you. Thank you for your support, your encouragement, your humor, and your heart. Thank you for your insight, your honesty, your recommendations, and your inspiration. Most of all, thank you for your friendship. I never would have made it to Year Seven without my NGN Family behind me, and knowing I have you in my corner makes me excited every time I open a blank document and get ready to write.

It’s been an unpredictable journey and a winding road so far, and I can’t wait to see where this year’s twists and turns and fangirl flights of fancy take us!

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I’m Off the Deep End (Watch as I Obsessively Talk About Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga)

“We’re far from the shallow now…”

There was nothing shallow about Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s performance of their Oscar-winning, Grammy-winning, and everything-else-winning hit from A Star Is Born. In fact, in an Oscar telecast filled with a surprising number of high points (Olivia Colman! Melissa McCarthy covered in rabbits! Women winning so many things! Spike Lee climbing Samuel L. Jackson like a tree!) their breathtaking take on the instant-classic “Shallow” might have been the moment with the most depth—or at least the moment people rewound the most to make sure they caught every last detail.

And there were some magical details to catch. From the way Gaga seemed to hold her breath as he sang and their ridiculously intense eye contact to his smile as she sang and that final intimate chorus that launched a thousand tweets, it seems people can’t get enough of them and their performance (myself included).

So what made this moment so special? Why can’t we stop talking and tweeting about it?

It felt real. Even if these are two actors who are both talented enough to be nominated for Oscars. Even if they’re just good friends (who like to look into each other’s eyes for so long it seems they’re trying to break some kind of record). The intimacy they created on that stage felt real, and sometimes what we feel matters more to us than the facts.

What I felt—more than anything else—was the best kind of vulnerability from both of them, and that’s where real intimacy comes from. Cooper has talked often about being unable to hide when you sing, and that was certainly true in this performance. From the minimal staging to the soft lighting and even the lack of introduction and stripped down arrangement, the moment was all about the two people sharing it and nothing else. Which isn’t an easy thing for an actor who didn’t sing before doing this movie and for a singer who’s used to hiding behind a persona when she takes the stage. All they had was each other and a piano, and that proved to be more than enough.

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2019 Oscars

Oscars

Source: MentalFloss.com

I love the Oscars. I know they don’t always award—or even nominate—the right people and films. I know they have plenty of problems with diversity and inclusion and accepting new visions of what filmmaking can be. I know this year’s race and ceremony in particular have been a hot mess of controversy, bad decisions, and backpedaling.

So why is Oscar Sunday still one of my favorite days of the year?

It’s simple: I love movies, and Oscar Sunday is a day people set aside to celebrate movies. It’s a day to unabashedly and unashamedly care about movies. It’s a day to proudly be passionate about film. And for me, it’s even more special this year because this year rekindled my passion for film in a way I wasn’t expecting and yet in a way I desperately needed.

With the end of many of the TV shows that had been part of my life for so long, I found myself lost as a fangirl without a home. But then movies came back into my life, and they helped me find a part of myself that I lost when my enthusiasm for film waned in my 20s. I saw so many movies this year—including all but one of the year’s Best Picture nominees. (Sorry, Vice.) And in those hours spent in darkened theaters and on my couch, I remembered what it feels like to become completely transported and transformed by a movie. It’s unlike any other media experience you can have, and it brought the purest kind of joy into my life when I needed it most.

So no matter how mad I may be that Bradley Cooper was snubbed for a Best Director nomination or how annoyed I may be with all the changes—and then weird retractions of changes—to the ceremony itself, I haven’t been this excited about the Oscars since I was 17 years old and still dreaming of being a film critic. I’m more educated about these races than I’ve ever been. (Thanks in no small part to Collider’s amazing For Your Consideration videos, which I have watched religiously for months and have come to see as true bright spots of movie nerd enthusiasm in my life.) And I can’t wait to share my predictions with you this year because they come from a place of deep analysis and also genuine fangirl love, which is what NGN is all about.

I hope you share your picks for the night’s winners in the comments because I’m ready to start talking more about film around here! And as always, I’ll be live tweeting all the night’s festivities starting with the red carpet at 6 p.m. EST, so follow along on Twitter if you want to see my emotional breakdown over Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga singing “Shallow” in real time.

Without further ado, here are my picks for the winners in every category tonight (I tried to keep my thoughts short since I also added analysis for every category this year—not just the big ones)!

Picture
My Pick: Roma
My Thoughts: This is the most wide-open Best Picture race in years, and I think at least 5 of the 8 nominees have realistic chances to take home the win, especially with the preferential ballot system (which awards films that many people like rather than films that a smaller group love). Although my heart belongs to A Star Is Born, I’d love to see Black Panther break new ground with a win, and there’s plenty of support behind Green Book to make it possibly even the favorite at this point, I still think Roma is going to take home the night’s big prize. Roma is a gorgeous film that affirms the universality of themes like family, trauma, loss, and the strength of women while being stylistically in a class of its own. A win for Roma wouldn’t just be a win for a beautiful, unique movie, it would send a message about the stories we have in common being more important than the things that people want to use to divide us.

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Sharing the Galentine’s Day Love

parks-valentines-muskox

I love you all like Leslie loves Ann.

Happy Galentine’s Day, you poetic, noble land mermaids!

Galentine’s Day may have started as a fictional holiday created by my hero and ultimate life inspiration Leslie Knope, but it’s now become a day celebrated by women around the world who want to honor the ladies in their lives. Seeing this holiday grow from something shared only by our beautiful little Parks and Recreation fandom to a day that has its own decorations at Target has been incredible, and it brings me so much joy to know that so many people are taking time today to tell the women in their lives how special they are and to honor the power of female friendship (hopefully with lots of breakfast food).

I’m so blessed to be surrounded by the smart, funny, passionate, protective, warm, and welcoming women I call my friends. They support me and surprise me; they’ve challenged me and changed me; and they’ve helped me embrace the best and most authentic version of myself. My female friends have been the great loves of my life to this point, and I can’t think of a better group of people to call my soul mates.

And that includes all the brave and beautiful women I’ve met because of fandom—and NGN in particular. Over the years, this has been a place where friendships have formed both for me and completely independent of me (which is the coolest thing in the world). Even if our comment conversations aren’t as plentiful as they once were and even if our interests have diverged, I still treasure the moments and memories we’ve shared in this little place that I’ve called home for so long. The friends I’ve made through fandom are some of the best friends I could have ever hoped to have, and I love having a day to single out just how special you are.

With that in mind, I wanted to take a page out of Leslie Knope’s playbook and tell all of you how amazing you are. It may not be a 5,000-word essay, but I want to take a moment today to shower each of you with a string of compliments that would make my sitcom spirit animal proud.

So let’s have a LOVE POST!

Here are the basic instructions as I remember them from my old LiveJournal days: Make a comment on this post with your username (and things like your Twitter or your Tumblr URL if you feel like people might know you better by those identifiers). Then, sit back and let others reply, telling you how much and why they love you. Finally, share the love! Reply to your friends’ comments on this post and tell them how awesome you think they are. Even if you’ve never posted at NGN before or think no one will know or remember you, leave a comment. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

I’ll start things off below just so you can see how it’s done, and I hope that by the time this day of ladies celebrating ladies is done, the comments will be the best virtual Galentine’s Day party ever.

I’ll bring the waffles!

 

Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2019 Golden Globes

golden globes

It’s been a while (five years, to be exact!) since I’ve predicted the Golden Globes around these parts, but I’m back and ready to talk about my favorite awards show! The Golden Globes are the kickoff party for awards season—one of my favorite times of the year. They’re typically more fun than your average award show, feature memorable speeches, and celebrate both TV and film—the two great loves of my life. They’re also famously full of surprises and are notoriously hard to predict, which is exciting for the fangirl in me but challenging for the perfectionist who always wants to get as many picks right as possible.

Despite how hard it is to play the Golden Globes guessing game, I couldn’t resist making my predictions public this year when I have so many horses in this race. From the last chance for one of my favorite television shows of all time to the movie I loved this year more than any other, I haven’t been this emotionally invested in the entirety of an awards show in a long time. So if you want to see the multiple emotional meltdowns that are sure to occur in real time, I’ll be live tweeting the festivities starting at 6 p.m. EST tonight.

Until then, here are my predictions for what’s sure to be another memorable and surprising Golden Globes ceremony. Don’t forget to share your picks in the comments!

FILM
Best Motion Picture: Drama
My Pick: A Star Is Born
My Thoughts: If there’s one thing the HFPA seems to love, it’s star power. This film had that and more. It was a fresh but faithful take on a beloved Hollywood story, the debut of an actor-turned-director (another thing the Globes often honor), and a showcase for one of the biggest stars of the moment: Lady Gaga. A Star Is Born is a film with the kind of mass appeal and genuine artistry to take home the night’s biggest film award, and my intense devotion to its sincere storytelling means I’ll be crying happy tears on my couch if this prediction comes true.

Best Motion Picture: Musical or Comedy
My Pick: Green Book
My Thoughts: This category seems a bit more wide open than its dramatic counterpart. Although both Black Panther and BlacKkKlansman pose a bit of a threat to A Star Is Born, that’s remained the frontrunner, while the comedy/musical category has many options that all make strong cases for consideration. Despite my deep love for Mary Poppins Returns, I think Green Book has the kind of broad support and critical acclaim that will give it the edge. The Favourite is another strong possibility, but I think Green Book is the kind of feel-good, crowd-pleasing “comedy” that voters will want to reward at the Globes.

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NGN’s Best of 2018: TV, Movies, and More

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time once again to highlight the best of pop culture from this year. In previous years, I’ve stuck to television, but one of my goals for 2018 was to expose myself to more of a variety of media, so I watched more movies and read more books than I have in the past. That, coupled with a slight dip in the amount (and, frankly, the quality) of TV I watched this year inspired me to expand my year in review post to include movies, books, and sports in addition to television. I also hope this inspires you to share all of you favorite media from 2018, because one of the best things about these posts over the years has been all the wonderful recommendations I’ve been given in the comments. (I never would have fallen in love with The Americans without my NGN Family championing it in these posts years ago.)

Looking back on this year in media, it’s no surprise that so many of my favorite things revolved around female characters. The books, movies, and TV I loved this year almost unanimously dealt with women learning to define themselves on their own terms as brave, strong, and—most importantly—kind people. The media I gravitated toward this year often celebrated a kind of radical goodness—a message of light pushing back against the darkness, of love surviving even the most painful things life can throw at us, and of hope existing in that quiet corner of our souls that allows us to keep getting up when everything around us seems determined to keep us pinned down. This year in media taught me that we all have choices to make and those choices determine who we are. And when we choose to believe in ourselves and our capacity to love—that’s when we become our best selves. That’s the message I’m taking into 2019, and what an empowering message it is.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at my favorite television, movies, and more in 2018!

Television

the-americans-episode-607-harvest-promotional-photos

Source: spoilertv.com

Best Show (Drama): The Americans
The Americans changed me in ways I never could have expected when I first started watching it. It changed me as a writer; it changed me as a TV viewer. It forced me to look more closely and think more deeply about the media I consumed, and it challenged me every week to find the words to talk about its brilliance with others. Although I was sad to see it end this year, I couldn’t have asked for a better final season for what I consider the best show I’ve ever watched. The Americans was always a show about marriage and family above everything else, and this final season reinforced that in the most surprising and impressive ways imaginable as it built to a finale that was all about letting your children leave you behind as they grow. From “Don’t Dream It’s Over” to “With or Without You,” this season took us on a journey of self-definition for nearly every character that ended in a way I don’t think anyone expected. Along the way, it gave us heart-stopping chase scenes, romantic axe mutilations, line dancing, and a moment that will go down in TV history simply as “the parking garage scene.” With everyone in the cast turning in top-notch performances and masterful moments of silence balanced by lines that cut like a dagger (“You’re a whore!”), The Americans turned in one of television’s most complex and unique final seasons by staying true to itself until the very end.

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What Are You Watching? Fall 2018 Edition

Welcome, fellow TV fans, to NGN’s longest-running feature! This is my seventh fall TV season here at NGN, and I’m ready to once again share my viewing schedule with all of you.

Today is the first day of fall, which puts me in the mood for pumpkin spice everything, long sweaters, and new television shows. Luckily, this week kicks off the official start of fall TV season, and while my schedule is a bit lighter than it used to be (due in part to both life changes and a bit of a down year for pilots and premieres), I’m still excited for so many of my favorite shows to be back.

I hope this list inspires you to share your own fall TV schedule in the comments! I know that I’ve often used the recommendations shared in this post to try new shows that ended up becoming favorites of mine. And if you want to use my list to find new shows to try, I’ve listed the dates, times, and networks the premieres are airing on, and any new pilots I’m checking out are highlighted in pink.

(Just as a reminder: I don’t include reality shows on this list because I watch way too many of them but don’t watch them in any regular kind of viewing schedule.) 

I know this post isn’t quite the behemoth it once was, but I also have plenty of returning favorites coming back in early 2019, which means it might finally be time for me to do a midseason one of these in a few months! Until then, I hope this post reminds you of your favorite shows, introduces you to something new you might love, and inspires you to share a show you love that you can’t believe I’m not watching yet.

Monday
Manifest (9/24, 10 p.m. on NBC)
If you’ve spent any time around these parts, you probably know of my deep love for Josh Dallas. He was the reason I became hooked on Once Upon a Time as instantaneously as I did, and as such, I will pretty much follow him anywhere. I’m not usually one to sign up for shows that seem inspired by Lost (because I will always compare them—and they will almost always come up short), but I will buy anything Dallas is selling at this point. The trailer also made me feel as if this might be more of a sincere, relationship-driven story than one propelled only by its central mystery, and that’s always a kind of show that speaks to me. Although I might not watch it until I get back from my own flights to Disney World next month (What can I say, I’ll always be a nervous flier!), it’s still on my list of pilots to try.
Series Premiere September 24

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2018 Emmy Awards

 

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Audience

(Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The Emmys and I have had a volatile relationship ever since the days when Jennifer Garner (and perhaps even more egregiously, Victor Garber) were passed over for their  work on Alias. There are times when surprise nominations and wins bring me endless joy—like Kate McKinnnon’s first win. But there are also times when shocking snubs send me into fits of rage—like the fact that Amy Poehler never won an Emmy for playing Leslie Knope and Steve Carell never won for playing Michael Scott.

Those last two names remind that an Emmy isn’t everything. Legendary performances and beloved television shows don’t need to have their time in the Emmy spotlight to mean something to both an individual and the TV-loving community at large.

But it’s still nice to see your favorites win.

With that being said, this has been a challenging prediction post to make. I’m too invested in some of the shows—especially one drama series in particular—to be completely objective (or even logical) in my choices. But the good thing is, I don’t really have to be. (That’s when not doing this for a living has its perks.) This year, I’m picking with my heart, so while you probably shouldn’t use my ballot as a key to winning your office pool, you should know that it’s a close look into where my heart will be on Monday night. (Side note: I HATE having the Emmys on a Monday night. It’s THE WORST.) And if you want an even closer look, you can follow along with all the evening’s fun—and probably emotional devastation and angry ranting—on Twitter, where I’ll be live tweeting starting around 6 p.m. EST!

Without further ado, let’s get to the picks!

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick: The Americans
My Thoughts: It’s my last chance to root for what I think is the most nuanced and unexpectedly powerful drama on television, so you better believe I’m going to pick it to win in pretty much every category its nominated for. But this is more than just a choice from the heart; I think it has a good—albeit, not great—chance to get some of that last-season love the Emmys sometimes like to dish out. While this category is probably a two-horse race between The Handmaid’s Tale and Game of Thrones, I want to believe there’s some goodwill in Emmy voters’ hearts for this moving portrait of marriage and parenthood wrapped up in a spy story that’s completely compelling in its own right. The show’s final season featured some of its most breathtaking performances and heart-stopping moments, and it was capped off by one of the most talked-about finales of the year. I hope the well-deserved praise for that brilliant episode  leads to the Emmy glory this show has always deserved.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Atlanta
My Thoughts: Although I don’t watch Atlanta (There’s too much good TV to watch!), I’m no dummy; I know it’s something special. I also know its second season was highly praised, and I’m always a supporter of Donald Glover winning all the awards. While I’d love to see GLOW take home this award (and am already hoping for it to win next year for its stellar second season), I won’t be completely devastated to see such an inventive show get the recognition it deserves.

Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick: The Assassination of Gianni Versace
My Thoughts: This is the only Limited Series pick I’m going to make this year because I’m woefully uneducated about the nominees, and that includes this iteration of American Crime Story. Although I only watched the first few episodes because it was too disturbing and violent for my taste, I knew it was a shoe-in for this award and pretty much any others it was going to be nominated for (including the career-redefining work Darren Criss did in a role that literally gave me nightmares). I can appreciate art without having the stomach to consume large amounts of it, and The Assassination of Gianni Versace was a true work of art.

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Fangirl Thursday: A New Decade

Fangirl Thursdays have always been a place for me to get personal. These posts have been a safe space for me and—hopefully—for all of you to talk about the experiences, the media, and even the life events that have made us who we are. So I can’t think of any better place to address the fact that tomorrow is my 30th birthday, and before I embrace my thirty, flirty, and thriving new decade, I needed to say goodbye to the one I’m leaving behind.

The best way for me to express myself has always been through letters, so it’s time for me to write a little something to the woman I was 10 years ago—on the brink of turning 20 with no idea where this crazy, exciting, and fulfilling decade was going to lead.

Dear Katie,

There’s so much I want to tell you about the next 10 years of your life—the places you’ll go, the people you’ll meet, the TV shows you’ll watch, the writing you’ll do…But I’ll start with the most important thing:

They make new Star Wars movies. Good ones. The ones you cried over when you were 12 because you thought they’d never make them. You get to see what happens to Han, Leia, and Luke—and you get to meet some really amazing new characters, too.

Right now, you can’t imagine those movies ever getting made. You might not even be sure you care anymore if they do get made. (Stop fighting it: You totally care. You care A LOT.) But it happens. And that’s the best way I can sum up your 20s: There’s so much good stuff coming your way that you can’t even imagine right now.

I know the thought of life turning out differently than you imagined terrifies you. You have a plan for your life—married by 24, kids by 27, journalism job somewhere close to home. Well, I want to be the first one to tell you that none of that happens—and that when you’re facing the dawn of your 30s, you wouldn’t want to fix those broken plans even if you had the chance to go back and do it all again. You’re about to make some big choices, little girl, and they’re going to be the right ones. You’re going to feel unsure and afraid that you’re throwing your plans out the window, but here’s one of the most important things you’ll learn in the coming decade: Your instincts are always right. That little voice inside of you telling you not to take that job, telling you to get out of that relationship, telling you to trust that Craigslist ad for a job opening…That voice doesn’t care about your five-year plan. It cares about what’s going to make you happy, healthy, safe, and successful. Listen to it.

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“But I Won’t Feel Blue”: The Case for Purposeful Fluff

Mamma Mia

When my friend asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday later this month, I told her all I really wanted was go to brunch and see Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again—for the third time since it came out last week.

Why the sudden, overwhelming interest in sitting in a movie theater and watching a bunch of actors sing ABBA songs? Is it the gorgeous Grecian landscapes? The spunky choreography? The presence of icons like Christine Baranski, Meryl Streep, and Cher?

All of those things have contributed to my latest pop culture obsession (especially Cher), but my love for Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again goes beyond my love for catchy pop songs and iconic actresses.

I love this movie because it’s happy. It exists to do nothing other than make you leave the movie theater feeling better than you did when you went in. And in a world where it can be really hard to feel good most days, that’s a downright heroic mission statement.

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