Hold on to Happiness

There are times it feels like you really have to reach to find happiness. There are times it feels like everything around you is angry, dark, and heavy. There are times when it seems like the entire media landscape—from the news to the fiction you turn to when you need to escape the news—is conspiring against your valiant attempt to find reasons to smile and laugh every day.

This seems like one of those times, doesn’t it?

Looking back on posts from previous years, it seems that around this time every year, television decides to get really dark, and this year is certainly no exception. From Jane the Virgin and Nashville to This Is Us, there’s been no shortage of tears shed over fictional characters lately. And even in the world of cinema, this has been a rough patch if you’re looking for some escapist fun and unabashed joy; Oscar season isn’t known for its happy films, but this was a particularly heavy year, where even the film being praised most ardently for its joyful spirit (La La Land) ended on a bittersweet note.

What are we to do when things look dark? We celebrate the light. We appreciate moments of pure good where we find them. And we hold on to happiness like the precious treasure it is.

I watched a lot of Fuller House in the days around the presidential inauguration this year. It’s a show that exists for no other reason than to make people happy, and it does its job well. It’s not Breaking Bad or Orange Is the New Black, and not every show needs to be or should be. Sometimes you just want to watch a silly, simple show where storylines are wrapped up in 30 minutes with a group hug. It’s a throwback to a more innocent, less cynical time, and if you’re looking for some warm, fluffy feelings in your media-consuming life, I highly recommend it.

Another show that has become my antidote to all the death and cynicism on television in recent weeks is Timeless. It’s certainly not on the same level of fluffiness as Fuller House, but it’s about three fundamentally good people working together and becoming a family through trust, respect, and empathy, which is even better than fluff. Plus, it’s a time-traveling adventure with great costumes, impeccable guest stars (Fellow Once Upon a Time fans should check it out if only for Sean Maguire’s almost inhumanly charming turn as James Bond creator Ian Fleming.), and characters you feel good about rooting for—characters who have grown more in one season than some shows allow their characters to grow during an entire run, characters who fight for each other, characters who have big hearts and are big nerds. It also has my favorite developing romance on television right now between Wyatt Logan and Lucy Preston, and there is no happier feeling than watching a fictional relationship progress from initial skepticism to respect to fake engagements to real hugs to “I cannot lose you again!” to opening hearts and taking chances—all in the course of one season.

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2016 Emmy Awards

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Audience

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

The 2016 Emmy Awards are upon us, and this is the first year in my Emmy-viewing history (which extends back to my early high school years when I first felt the bitter sting of disappointment every time Alias didn’t win) that I have a rooting interest in nearly every category. Although I’m still frustrated by some of this year’s snubs and the overall lack of pleasant surprises among the nominees, it’s nice to see some of my favorites from the world of television with a fighting chance to take home an award this year.

The Emmys give us a chance to celebrate television while eating pizza on our couch and freaking out every time our favorites are shown in the audience (or is that just me?), so no matter how annoyed I get about nominees and winners, I watch them with rabid enthusiasm every year. And you can join in the rabidly enthusiastic fun on Twitter, where I’ll start live-tweeting with my reactions to the red carpet coverage at 6 p.m. EST!

Without further ado, here are my picks for who I think will win each of the night’s major awards (except Outstanding Television Movie because I didn’t see any of the nominees) and who I wish would win. Don’t forget to share your hopes and your predictions for this year’s Emmys in the comments!

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick and My Wish: The Americans
My Thoughts: I’ll be honest with all of you; I really think Game of Thrones has the best chance to win this award. But I can’t pick against what I consider the best show on television when it has finally found itself in this position. And if Emmy voters want to go in a different direction since Game of Thrones won last year (which isn’t likely, but it could happen), then I think The Americans is in a prime position to move to the front of the pack. This season was universally loved by critics and fans; it has more buzz around it than ever before; and it nicely fills the “20th century American dramatic period piece” void left behind by Mad Men. The Americans is simply a brilliant piece of television and has been for years, and it’s time Emmy voters took notice.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Veep
My Wish: black-ish
My Thoughts: I don’t think any show is going to upend Veep’s reign of dominance, especially considering the plethora of other awards it’s nominated for. However, I’d love to see black-ish shock everyone with a win in this category. It had a stellar sophomore season that tackled important issues with honesty and heartfelt emotion (“Hope” was one of the most profound episodes of television in all of 2016.) while never losing its sharp sense of humor.

Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick and My Wish: The People v. O.J. Simpson
My Thoughts: The People v. O.J. Simpson could have gone wrong in so many ways, but somehow it ended up being a true triumph. It managed to take an event analyzed for more than a decade by legal experts and everyday Americans and open our eyes to the humanity that got lost in the media circus. That focus on the personal stories of the people on both sides of the trial allowed its stellar cast to shine, and its strong ensemble work and surprisingly deep and nuanced tone is what will help it emerge victorious.

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Fangirl Thursday: Emmy Nomination Highs and Lows

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Audience

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

For TV fans, few days spark passionate discussion like Emmy Nomination Day. Especially during this time of “Peak TV,” there are so many good shows with so many great performances that the Emmy nominations provide the perfect vehicle to talk about why our favorite shows are deserving of awards—and why those who choose the nominees are either brilliant for agreeing with us or idiots for not seeing genius in the same place we see it.

On most Emmy nomination days, I find myself disappointed and angry about the same actors and shows being nominated year after year, leaving little room for fresh blood—and the shows and performances I love—to make the cut. This year, there is still plenty to be said about the stale taste of some nominations (We’re still nominating Modern Family and Homeland?), but there were more than a few new faces joining the party this time around. And that made today much more exciting than past Emmy Nomination Days. For once, my joy over who made the cut actually outweighs my frustration over who was snubbed.

Of course, that’s not to say there was nothing I would have done differently. There are still actors, shows, and entire networks I feel the Emmys are overlooking. But one very specific set of nominations today proved to me that even if the Emmys ignore a great show and its talented cast at first, they might eventually come around to seeing the light. So don’t lose hope, fellow TV fanatics. Next year might be the year your favorites finally break through.

Without further ado, here are my five favorite Emmy nominations announced today and five things that disappointed me about today’s Emmy news.

THE HIGHS

1. The Americans
FINALLY! It took four seasons, but the Emmys finally invited the best show on television to stand in the spotlight with not just one big nomination but a handful. Last year’s Outstanding Writing nomination was repeated; this time for “Persona Non Grata,” which featured one of the most beautiful and revelatory pieces of TV writing I’ve seen in William’s deathbed speech about the “absence of closeness.” And, of course, Beloved Character Actress Margo Martindale was nominated again. But I was pleasantly surprised to see those nominations joined by Best Actor, Actress, and Drama Series nominations. It’s about time the show itself was praised, but I’m most thrilled about Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell’s nominations. Both have been doing such great work since the show’s pilot, and I’m so happy that they are finally being recognized on the biggest stage for it. I think Russell turned in one of the most incredible season-long performances I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and more than any other category this year, hers is the one I can already feel myself investing the majority of my emotions in.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/13 – 9/20)

As television shows are slowly awakening from their summer-long slumber, we were treated to the first taste of this new TV season over the past week. On Monday night, Dancing with the Stars returned with a very promising new crop of celebrities. And on Tuesday, The Mindy Project started the next chapter of its life after its move to Hulu.

I was all set to write about the ending to the season premiere of The Mindy Project for this post. I had a lot to say about Chris Messina’s ability to say so much with so little and the beauty of Mindy Kaling’s smile. I also wanted to talk about how important it was for Danny to tell Mindy he’d like to be wrong about marriages never working out. Because that’s what mature love is—it’s a leap of faith that you choose to take instead of something you blindly fall into. It’s knowing that there’s a chance this could end in disaster but choosing to believe there’s also a chance it might not. Love is belief—belief that the person you love is worth the risk and belief that your own happiness is worth fighting for. All those themes were wrapped up in one moment—in one line, really. And it gave me so much hope for the future of this show.

I had all that planned, and then last night’s Emmy Awards happened. Viola Davis happened. And now I don’t want to write about anything else.

Viola Davis is class, elegance, and power personified. When she talks, you listen. And when she talks about the struggle for African American women to find their voice and their own place on television, you don’t just listen; you cry.

You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.

What an honest and deeply moving statement. There’s still so far to go for women—and especially women of color—in television, but progress and change are happening. And it’s happening because of a community of writers, creators, and actors who believe in what they’re doing and believe in each other. As Taraji P. Henson embraced Davis with such emotion on her way up to the stage, as Kerry Washington cried her way through Davis’s speech, and as Davis mentioned so many of her peers who are making their mark on the television landscape, I was moved to tears by the power and beauty of women supporting other women.

The Emmys weren’t perfect, but they gave us this moment. And for that, I am so grateful.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week? And let’s use this post as a post-Emmys discussion group, too! What were your thoughts on the night’s winners, snubs, and overall entertainment value?

Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2015 Emmy Awards

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

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

It’s time once again for the Emmy Awards! While I don’t always agree with the nominations, I do always have fun watching the show. It’s a great way to celebrate some of the best achievements in television, and this was a fantastic year to celebrate.

Watching the show is even more fun when you can make your own picks and play along! So here are my choices for who I think will win each award and who I hope will win, too. Don’t forget to share your picks in the comments, and I’ll be live tweeting the evening’s festivities (from my comfy couch, of course) over at the NGN Twitter account starting around 6 p.m.

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick: Mad Men
My Wish: Orange Is the New Black
My Thoughts: This feels like one of the most open categories of the night in terms of which show will win, but my gut says Mad Men’s impact on the television landscape will be honored with an Emmy for its final season. (My gut really says this award belongs to The Americans, but Emmy voters don’t care about my gut, apparently.) However, I would love to see the rise of complex, diverse female characters on television highlighted with an Orange Is the New Black win.

Outstanding Comedy Series:
My Pick and My Wish: Parks and Recreation
My Thoughts: I can’t pick against Parks and Rec when it’s my last chance to pick it…I just can’t. I wrote an entire post earlier this week about why this show is so deserving of this award, so I’ll sum up those feelings by saying sometimes nice people finish first, and I want to see that happen on Sunday night.

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Fangirl Thursday: For Your Consideration (2015 Emmys)

Source: vulture.com

Source: vulture.com

The 2015 Emmys are right around the corner, and, despite my overall lack of enthusiasm about this year’s crop of nominees (If you don’t nominate The Americans for any major awards, you lose most of your credibility in my eyes.), there are still some categories that I have a very deep rooting interest in. I’d love for Andre Braugher to get some recognition for what is one of my favorite performances on a comedy right now. I’m downright giddy when I think about seeing Tatiana Maslany’s name listed in the Best Actress in a Drama category. And I’m ready to ride the “Poehler or Bust” train for one last year in the Comedy Actress race.

And while the category I’m most invested in is also probably the category most likely to disappoint me, I’ll keep hoping that Emmy voters got a little sentimental this year with their pick for Best Comedy Series. This is their last chance to acknowledge what so many of us know to be true: Parks and Recreation deserves its time to shine, its time to stand among the best of the best—where it rightly belongs.

This wouldn’t even be a clichéd, undeserved “body of work” award like you sometimes see final seasons get at these kinds of shows. The last season of Parks and Rec was one of its finest—a fitting end to a show known not just as a great comedy but a great television show that was beloved by fans, respected by those in the industry, and adored by critics.

What do you want in a television comedy? Laugh-out-loud moments? Parks and Rec had those in spades. Smart satire? That was often this show’s claim to fame. Multifaceted characters who aren’t boring? Parks and Rec had the strongest ensemble and the most interesting cast of characters in the current TV comedy landscape. Relationships to root for? This show made you care about every relationship—from the central ones (Leslie and Ben, Leslie and Ron, Leslie and Ann, April and Andy…) to the surprising ones (April and Ben, Tom and Donna, Andy and Ron, Ann and April…). Female characters who exist as more than just love interests? CHECK. Moments that move you to tears? Parks and Rec made me cry more than 99% of the dramas on television.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (1/11 – 1/18)

This week in television began with Sunday’s highly entertaining Golden Globe Awards, featuring strong jokes from Amy Poehler and Tiny Fey as well as big wins for some very deserving actors and shows. Sunday night also gave us a hilarious new episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and an episode of The Good Wife that attempted to tackle the issue of racial unrest in America while also featuring Alicia’s big debate. Monday’s episode of Castle proved that taking Castle out of the precinct was actually a wonderful decision for the show. And Tuesday gave us the return of Parks and Recreation, joining a night of television that also featured another strong episode of Agent Carter and an excellent guest appearance by Lee Pace on The Mindy Project.

I’m a sucker for a good award show acceptance speech, so this year’s Golden Globes were an embarrassment of riches for me. From George Clooney’s love for his wife to Michael Keaton’s love for his son, sincerity was the real winner, which is rare for a Hollywood event. However, no moment was more sincerely joyful and emotional than Gina Rodriguez’s acceptance speech for Best Actress in a Television Comedy. I don’t even watch Jane the Virgin (Yet! That will change soon.), but I found myself moved to tears by her pure gratitude. This was a year for inspiring, diverse projects and people to take home Golden Globes, and Rodriguez’s win set the tone for the whole evening in such a beautiful way: “My father used to tell me to say every morning, ‘Today is going to be a great day. I can and I will.’ Well, Dad, today is a great day. I can and I did.”

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2014 Emmy Awards

How many Emmys will the final season of Breaking Bad win?

How many Emmys will the final season of Breaking Bad win?

For as frustrated as I was with the 2014 Emmy nominations when they were announced, I’m still excited to see TV’s best (with some notable exceptions) celebrated on Monday night. Although I don’t watch a lot of what’s considered “critically acclaimed” television, I’m still going to attempt to predict the show’s big winners. I’m also going to offer my thoughts on who I wish would win in these categories, too.

I’m not including the miniseries or TV movie categories because I haven’t seen any of those nominees. However, if you have thoughts on who will/should win those categories (as well as any others I’ve left out), let me know in the comments. And I’ll be live tweeting the evening’s festivities (including any red carpet coverage I can watch after work—why are these awards on a Monday?) over on the NGN Twitter account.

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick and My Wish: Breaking Bad
My Thoughts: I will preface this by saying I think Breaking Bad and True Detective are going to split the series and actor categories. So if Bryan Cranston wins for acting, I think True Detective will take home this award. Ultimately, it’s a very close race, but I think Breaking Bad’s final season will be recognized to honor the show’s part in TV history. Years from now, Breaking Bad will be known as one of the pillars of this new Golden Age of television, so I think the Emmys will take advantage of having one last chance to honor it.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick and My Wish: Orange Is the New Black
My Thoughts: I know the Emmys are often afraid to break away from the familiar, but the impact Orange Is the New Black has had on the television landscape shouldn’t be denied. I think this will be Emmy voters’ chance to recognize Netflix as a platform since I don’t think House of Cards will take home any awards this year. Not only would this be a way for the Emmys to make a statement that they’re not stuck in the past, it would be a way to recognize a show that’s unlike anything else on television.

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Fangirl Thursday: For Your Consideration (2014 Emmys)

diane lockhart

With the 2014 Emmys right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about who we think will take home the night’s big awards (which will be the topic of a post over here this weekend), as well as who we think should be given an Emmy this year. Although I found myself fairly disappointed with this year’s group of nominees (surprise, surprise), there are still some names on the list that I will be crossing my fingers for on Monday night. Some of those names don’t have much of a shot at winning, but I love a good dark horse.

When Monday rolls around, I’ll be waiting with bated breath to see if Amy Poehler, Andre Braugher, and Julianna Margulies are rewarded for their stellar performances this season. The buzz around Braugher and Margulies is strong, so I’m hopeful about their chances. And for as much as I love Poehler, I don’t think this was Parks and Recreation’s strongest season. Therefore, I think she might have to wait for a “body of work” Emmy next season. All three of these actors have been deservedly showered with praise far more eloquent than anything I can ever say about them, so I want to turn my attention to the final nominee I’m wholeheartedly championing this year—a woman whose subtly affecting work is often overlooked in favor of others in her category and even on her show: Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart on The Good Wife.

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My Advice for Emmy Voters

This year’s Emmy nominations are disappointing as a whole (despite some bright spots), and that statement has become as predictable as the nominations themselves. Every year, it seems the Emmy nominations are plagued by the same complaints: predictability and a very narrow view of what’s become a very broad medium.

In order to cope with my overwhelming frustration over this year’s nominees, I wanted to offer a little advice for Emmy voters. Follow these helpful tips, and maybe next year’s nominations will be met with something other than bored shoulder shrugs and frustrated sighs.

1. Stop nominating the same shows year after year when they’re not showing any growth.
Few things annoy me more when it comes to the Emmys than strong seasons of “dark horse” shows getting overlooked in favor of mediocre seasons of perennial “favorites.” Don’t get me wrong; I think Modern Family is still a very funny show, but maybe it’s time to open your eyes, dear Emmy voters, to see that there’s a whole world of network comedy beyond that show and The Big Bang Theory. Brooklyn Nine-Nine had one of the strongest freshman seasons I can remember. The Mindy Project created a season of television that was a better romantic comedy than any shown in movie theaters this decade. And Parks and Recreation continued to prove its underappreciated brilliance with a season full of brave storytelling that culminated in a truly genius finale. You have only one season left to honor Parks and Rec; don’t screw this up next year.

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