TV Anatomy: The Good Wife Season 2 Finale

I’m cribbing this from my Tumblr, so apologies if you already follow me on there and are getting this twice. I’ve made no secret about how much I love the television drama, The Good Wife: I have written about it a few times for the guardian, and earlier this year, I interviewed Archie Panjabi, who plays Kalinda Sharma, investigator at the fictional law firm of Lockhart Gardner and wearer of The Sexy Boots of Justice™ (I believe @johnwarrender came up with this, and I love him for it).

The series of scenes in the video up top are from the second season of CBS (More4 in the UK) drama, The Good Wife. There’s a lot of hoo-ha around the current fifth season (superlatively good storytelling, showing no signs of age, BIG EVENT) at the moment, but I am not looking to talk about recent plot points in the show today. For one thing, the episode has not yet aired in the UK, and will not air for another few weeks at least, and for another, the players involved are so much more than this season. As such, please be careful if you make a comment below – no spoilers, please.

In the video above, in which someone has very kindly spliced together scenes from the season 2 finale, Closing Arguments, we see two players, Will Gardner and Alicia Florrick. The essence of their relationship, their characters is captured in this video, I think, and the video is the thing that I want to talk briefly about. The video is almost exclusively Will and Alicia, from the immediate aftermath of a heartfelt victory in court, to a celebratory drink at a hotel bar, and then beyond.

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10 Things I Hate About You: 15 years and 6,000 words

So, listen.

January’s hysterical descent into nostalgia and the depths of unedited self-publishing proved ridiculously, astonishingly popular. This is not false ‘third encore’ modesty. Obviously I believe every keystroke of mine is prize-winning, but I was so pleased and surprised that so many people liked that (half-dissertation length) piece! Seriously, thank you for reading the recap of She’s All That, and thank you for sharing it across all your internet spaces. It is no exaggeration to say it is in the Top 3 most read things I have written in the almost-five years this blog has been going. If I’d known you were this keen on rambling perspectives on oldish movies, I’d have been doing this ish years ago. My ego thanks you profusely.

And that is why we are doing it again! That’s right, after combing my legal online streaming sources and my DVD library (yeah, I call my 130-ish DVDs a ‘library’ – fight me), I realised that I own pretty much none of the 90s Teen Movie Canon™. But then the gods smiled on us all and Netflix added this month’s title to its roster! This was meant to be, friends. We’re doing 10 Things I Hate About You, which Netflix’s blurb has as follows: “After learning that Bianca can’t date until her man-hating older sister Kat finds a beau, Bianca’s would-be boyfriend pays a moody school rebel to woo her”. Shut up, Netflix. There is so much to love about this movie – the cast! the soundtrack!reworked Shakespeare! Heath Ledger doing Frankie Valli! baby JGL! Gabrielle Union [again]! etc. etc. – and so much to get into that we’re just going for it. LEGGO!

10 things promo

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On Keeping Diaries

I used to keep a diary, in which I wrote every day. It wasn’t what my American friends call a ‘journal’ – I did not write out my dreams or hopes (in any structured way) or amateurish poetry or prose – but an old-fashioned ‘here is what I did today’ diary. I’ve been writing since I was very young, first on my bed post, and then on the walls, much to the annoyance of my parents. I’ve kept a diary since the super-self-obsessed days of puberty, beautiful hardbacked notebooks (my mother loves nice stationery and made us love it too) filled with rage and a punishing lack of kindness to myself and others, written in both the Nigerian English slang of my youth, regular ‘for posterity!’ prose, and, for a few months between 14 and 15, a now indecipherable code, like hieroglyphics, only written in blue ink and far less complex (and important for understanding an ancient civilisation). I can feel the secrets contained in the pages of coded squiggles, though. And because I can no longer understand what I wrote, I have to believe that these were important things – covering jealousy, love, pride and anger. Because at that age these were the things I cared about enough to hide from prying eyes, but maybe also my future self? Hmm. Perhaps that’s me stretching artistic licence.

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I Will Do Anything For Cash (But I Won’t Do That)

It might not be pertinent, but I feel like it might be: I started writing this post last August, a week or two after finishing a lovely, longish stint of work at a newspaper. Clearly the euphoria of working in jam-stained pajamas again got to me, because I went on to not finish it for another eight months. In a way, though, that’s a core part of what this post is about. Prioritising and realising what you want to be spending your time doing, but more importantly what you don’t want to spend your time doing. Last August I wanted to go out and enjoy the warmth and sunshine (remember how great that was?), apply for fellowships in Germany, write for a magazine. I didn’t want to write a blog post about priorities. And now I do.

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Being Mary Jane, or onscreen black girls

A few weeks ago, I was very kindly invited by the good people at BET to a screening of their new original drama, Being Mary Jane, starring the talented and ageless Gabrielle Union. After nibbles and drinks in one of the bars in the Soho Hotel, we settled into one of the screening rooms to watch. I have thoughts – and feelings – about Being Mary Jane, but let me point out three things real quick. These three things are small but telling – and they could not have been written except by the hand of a black woman (in this case Mara Brock Akil, the creator of the much missed characters of Maya, Toni, Joan and Lynn in sitcom Girlfriends). Here are the three things:

  1. Mary Jane mentions her edges;
  2. At the gym, Mary Jane pulls on a shower cap en route to the shower;
  3. At work, in a discussion with another woman of colour (her Latina colleague Kara, played by Lisa Vidal), Mary Jane calls up and calls out the stereotype of the ‘angry black woman’.

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She’s All That: 15 years and 5,000 words

I first watched She’s All That back in 1999, at the Stratford Picturehouse some weekend after school. I remember loving it, because it hit all the spots it was supposed to: boy and girl got to have each other at the end, and bad guy kind of got his comeuppance, which is as it should be in real life. The 90s – especially in the mid-to-late period – was a significant time for teen movies. It was a golden period, during which the industry enjoyed a purple patch starting around 1995 with Clueless, continuing into 1996 with The Craft, and exploding in a high point of acne, prom and hormone-fug in 1999, which saw the release of 10 Things I Hate About You, Cruel Intentions, Never Been Kissed, Election, American Pie and of course, She’s All That. In 2000 and 2001, we saw movies like Bring it On, Get Over It and Save The Last Dance, but largely, the boom was over. There would be no real, big, all-encompassing teen movie moment for a few years, when Tina Fey’s triumphant Mean Girls reared its plastics head in 2004.  Here, in 2014, we still have not seen as rich a spread as the late 90s gave us.

And so one one icy evening in Berlin last autumn, I powered up my laptop and cued up She’s All That. I was feeling nostalgic, perhaps a little homesick that night, which is probably why the movie appealed so strongly. Prior to this, I don’t think I’d watched it in almost a decade, and my recollection went something like this: vague Pygmalion references, popular guy, outsider girl, a bet, a makeover, a misunderstanding, prom scene, resolution, Kiss Me by Sixpence None The Richer, FIN. Turns out, it was all of these things and so much more. It seems obvious to say, but watching a film at the age of 16 or 17 yields a vastly different return to the one you get when you view that same work in your 30s. For one thing, life at 16 was an infinitely simpler thing. I had sixth form, little to no money, and a head filled with teenage mush alongside the standard issue brain. In my 30s, on a journalism fellowship in a foreign country, and thoughts of the bills I would face upon my return to London, life is a little more lived, less shiny. I do not say this to sound wise and fat with experience – it is just the truth. I may not be old, or been to war, or birthed a child. But I have been paying council tax for ten years now, and filing a tax return for four, and let me tell you – that shit will change your outlook.

SAL Poster

Before we go any further, I want you to know that according to Wikipedia, this movie cost $10 million to make, and made more than $100 million at the box office. I also want you to know something I discovered only last summer: this movie was apparently co/ghostwritten by M Night Shyamalan. Chew on that for a second. Masticate the thought until it is a pulpy mess. Now swallow. Your mind has just been blown. 

Anyway. She’s All That. Below is a kind of recap of the film, plus my feelings upon watching it again, 15 years after its release. It’s a ramble and at just over 5,000 words, a bit of a slog. You have been warned: bow out now, or forever hold your peace.

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On desire, expressed

Most Fridays for the last nine-ish months, I have been putting together a list of things I like, and posting them on Twitter. With trademark wit, the list is called “#Bims10Things” and I am delighted by the number of people who are genuinely into the things I share. The formula is not set, but includes staples: old Hollywood glamour, previously unseen photos of personal faves, music, videos, vintage ads, gifs, very good-looking men and women and always, always, a photo of my obsession, Solange. The exclamations of joy at the list usually take the form of retweets, perhaps with a little note at the beginning or end. People cc in their friends – “look! You’ll love this kitten in a sporran” etc – and others drop me out completely, leaving only the hashtag as a marker of its origin. There is a loudness to their consumption of the list – “come, share this further” is the feeling I get – which marks it as a clearly public activity.

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On hope, and a new year

Earlier this week, back in the old year, I tweeted about how full the gyms would be in the next couple of weeks. I joked about sitting at home, caressing a gut (nicknamed Ira) and laughing. I didn’t mean to downplay the relative importance of fitness or imply that those in possession of a sizeable gut cannot be fit. I was just pointing out my own laziness and lack of motivation when it comes to a ‘right-and-tight’ body. I was also, in a sort of cowardly way, laughing at the clear display of hope over experience. The scene at the gym is nothing new – every January, driven by the overindulgence at Christmas, swimming pools and gymnasiums fill up with enthusiastic punters, either luxuriating in a shiny new membership, or a holding a renewed commitment in their hearts and minds. The queue for the treadmill and the wall of occupied lockers is a physical manifestation of the thought: “I will be better.” The gym is a handy example, but it’s everywhere you look, this reckless, no-basis-in-reality optimism. I mock it, but deep down, I love the hope that needs to exist in order for the scene to occur. The hope of a new year is magical, transformative. It is, in my limited view, one of the things that makes us human.

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Bim Does Berlin: The Sedaris Temptation

If you are a writer, and one day find yourself in a classroom with other adults, learning a foreign language, you will not be able to help yourself. You will inevitably—joylessly, even—start to narrate the activities happening around you in the voice of David Sedaris. It will sneak up on you, this tendency, until you are fully submerged in it. You may find that your inner voice has changed accents when you weren’t paying attention. You’ll find yourself giving your classmates nicknames, initially temporary to help you identify who’s butchering the new language alongside you, but then later, because you’ve come to like the slightly waspish nicknames you’ve bestowed on them. “Sharp Italian” will remain as is, and so will “Indecipherable American” and “Serious Spaniard”. You will imagine these nicknames when you tell people how your classes are going.

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Bim Does Berlin: We Need To Talk About Berlin III

At this stage in the game, the jig is almost up. I can practically smell London, and I’ve already begun to regain the ability to say ‘sorry’ to inanimate objects. This all means one thing: I’m running out of Berlin road. In a mere two weeks, I will be back in London, eating my mum’s delicious spinach stew with basmati rice, sitting at my kitchen table in jam-stained pyjamas and idling far too long on the internet. So here’s a final installment of my ‘Observations’ posts in the Bim Does Berlin strand.

I know. You’re gutted.

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Bim Does Berlin: Food, Glorious German Food!

Like dreams, food—the description and study of—is only interesting to the person it directly concerns. When you start the analysis of something that literally no one wants to hear, look closely into the eyes of the person you’re talking to. There, clear as day, will be the manifestation of the internet acronym “TL;DR”. No one cares the way you care, b. And here’s a life lesson for free: no one ever will.

So that’s why I’ve resisted writing about my Berlin diet on this blog so far. In fact, I wasn’t going to write about it at all, because what can you say, really? More importantly, what can you say that anyone is chomping at the bit to read? But then three things happened. 1) I read this essay on The Morning News (which is an ace site, and you should be reading stuff from there); 2) A long and overdue gchat session with a friend in London, during which the following question came up: “how’s the food? Better?” And to which I replied, somewhat sniffily, “Not better. Different”; and 3) I thought, “it’s my damn blog, and I can write whatever I want.”

So this is a post about food, specifically, the food I’ve been eating for the last month and a bit.

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Bim Does Berlin: Berlin’s Bodacious Babes

On the way to brunch in Prenzlauer Berg, I sat opposite a drowsy young man in maroon jeans and brown suede boots. He had on a fisherman’s chunky sweater, not dissimilar to the type Jim Carrey wore in The Truman Show, with a short black coat.. His hair was brown and curly/wavy/messy, what the lazier elements of my trade might describe as an “appealing mop”. He was also staggeringly beautiful. Just… gorgeous. I want to stress that I’m saying that objectively, by the way. Yes, his was an objective beauty, you see – the kind you can’t ignore or argue isn’t real. His beauty was warmth-of-the-sun real. As real as the long eyelashes, the characterful nose, the curve of his cupid’s bow. As real as the train we were travelling on. As real as my eyes widening when I took in the splendor of his face. Here, at 10:45 on a Sunday morning, was uncomplicated hotness – the kind that makes a girl reach for a line of dialogue from 1999′s magical weepie, Stepmom. He was, in the language of the flighty, sort of flaky Julia Roberts character, “a stone fox”.

Berlin: why is a significant proportion your male population so good-looking?

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On ‘surprises’ and paying attention

Last week, I saw a tweet in which the author was marvelling at having spotted the term ‘twerking’ in a song all the way back from 2006. I think the tweet ended on an exclamation point – it was perhaps a jokey way of saying, “Hey! Pop culture, eh? Undiscovered layers like an onion.”

Even earlier in the week, I’d had a Twitter conversation with Mallory Ortberg (of online treasure The Toast), about new movie The Best Man Holiday, a sequel to The Best Man (1999), starring Sanaa Lathan, Taye Diggs and The Flawless Nia Long™ among others. In the course of our conversation, we excitedly squeeed about the new film, and lamented the poor folks who’d never seen the first movie – or indeed Love and Basketball, or Love Jones. To me, these are genre-defining movies, watched around the same time I was consuming Sleepless in Seattle and My Best Friend’s Wedding and so on.

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Bim Does Berlin: On naming conventions, briefly

Travelling to German class one day, I go through Weinmeisterstraße station on the U8 line of the U-Bahn. I think Weinmeisterstraße might be my favouritely named station (there’s some history on the station, which was a ‘Geisterbanhof‘ during the Berlin Wall years).

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Bim Does Berlin: We Need To Talk About Berlin II

Okay, it’s been considerably longer than a few days of living in Berlin. Here are a few more thoughts.

1. Smoking. I’ve been to Paris a couple of times, and both times, was overwhelmed by the smoking. Parisians do not dick around with their fags. They will smoke everywhere they can, and I thought they were the world’s best – until I moved to Berlin. Every single Berliner smokes. Men, women, olds, youngs, toddlers, teens, market traders, IT guys, cats, dogs, tables, chairs – THEY ALL SMOKE. It is disconcerting, it is bad for my clothes, and the smell lingers in my afro. I’ve even seen a couple of people just light up on the U-Bahn. Like, “I can’t even be arsed to go overground for this nicotine hit. Fuck you and your genteel sensibilities, pass me that lighter.” Berliners really dig smoking, is what I’m saying.

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