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It's been nearly two months since Amazon debuted the first season of "Transparent," and more than a month since Amazon ordered a second season of the Jill Soloway-created drama. I've been meaning ever since to write a spoiler-filled book-end to my original review, looking over the entire 10-episode first season, but other things kept getting in the way. Better late than never, here are many thoughts on this show's great first season coming up just as soon as you let me know if you see any mustard... It's been so long since I watched the season that my thoughts are more fragmented than they might've been had I written this right after the renewal announcement, though my overall feeling remains the same as in that first review: this was gorgeous, intimate storytelling, among the very best things I watched all year. But let's go straight to the bullet points and bounce around different characters, »
- Alan Sepinwall
Eliza Coupe has an uncannily innate ability to seem like the most composed and least poised person at the same time on screen. It is a trait that Happy Endings used well, even if it didn’t fully embrace it until the final season, when it delved into Jane’s increasingly slapstick job with the Car Czar. When dealing with the messiness of Brad or Alex’s tomfoolery, Coupe’s Jane Kerkovich-Williams was the only one keeping everything together, yet when she was unable to live up to her own standards of perfection, she fell apart before you could squeak out a trademark Kerkovich “What?”
Benched, the new half-hour comedy on the USA Network, harnesses this quality well. Centering on the career obliteration of “money law” Hbic Nina Whitely (Coupe), following a public breakdown stemming from being passed over for a promotion, the show embraces the less than glamour-filled world »
- Whitney McIntosh
Elevators. Relationships. Conversations with other human beings in general. As evidenced by Tuesday’s series premiere of USA Network’s Benched, none of these things are lawyer Nina Whitley’s strengths.
Fortunately — for the viewers, at least — her failures are spectacularly entertaining.
After being passed over for partner at her corporate firm — by a less-qualified, larger-breasted friend, no less — Nina (Happy Endings‘ Eliza Coupe) unleashes the proverbial Kraken, telling off every single one of her co-workers with the kind of speech most hard-working, under-appreciated Americans only dream of. »
When Nina's ex-fiancé tells her he's engaged mere minutes before she's passed over for law partner by a big breasted colleague, she can't help but break everything in the room—champagne flutes, a candy dish, even a vase that Sir Elton John gave the firm. And since her day's going just peachy, the elevator doors refuse to close after she double flips off the entire office, leaving her looking sheepish as elevator music plays.On USA's new comedy Benched, the more uncomfortable it is for Nina (Happy Ending's Eliza Coupe), the more hilarious it is for us. Her "I quit »
- Kathryn Luttner
We finally had our first network cancellation of the fall season last week, when ABC dropped the ax on "Manhattan Love Story." Had the Alphabet waited one more week, we'd have made it through the first season in a while where all the new fall shows got to debut before one was canceled. But that was not to be, and instead we have our final new network fall show (with plenty more on the bench for midseason, or whatever the broadcast nets are willing to call it these days) coming up this week, along with a new cable comedy. Both, oddly, feature Jack McGee in a supporting role (the result of cable and network shows often filming on different schedules), and that — along with the fact that I don't feel strongly about either one at this stage — is enough excuse to put them together in the same post for a »
- Alan Sepinwall
Nina Whitley, the main lawyer on USA Network’s new legal sitcom Benched — premiering Tuesday at 10:30/9:30c — isn’t someone you’d necessarily choose to have in your corner. Then again, she probably wouldn’t want to help you, either.
Stop me any time if this sounds familiar: A lawyer at a big corporate firm is denied a promotion, engages in a spectacular meltdown, and finds herself, after a period in purgatory, taking a job as a public defender, uniting her with wacky office mates (including one who’s kinda dreamy) and a new array of unpleasant smells. “Benched” plucks its leads from defunct ABC comedies — Eliza Coupe of “Happy Endings” and “Better Off Ted’s” Jay Harrington — and generally presents the sitcom version of a recycling program. The greatest indignity might be that its unscripted lead-in, “Chrisley Knows Best,” delivers more laughs.
Much like USA’s “Satisfaction,” the outburst by Coupe’s Nina, delivered to a shocked conference room full of colleagues, helps set the plot in motion. Not only does the bridge-burning eruption result in her frequent humiliation — since the legend surrounding the actual event seems to grow »
- Brian Lowry
Transparent, Season 1
Created by Jill Soloway
Released on September 26, 2014 by Amazon Studios
I imagine my feelings after finishing Transparent’s incredible first season were much like many people’s feelings after Orange is the New Black premiered. It is wholly original and seems to exist as a result of the ways online streaming has opened up the medium of television to previously unrepresented characters. I was enamored both with the show’s characters and the way it approached issues of gender identity and sexuality. I needed to keep binge watching.
Transparent follows the Pfefferman clan, a tightly knit Jewish family living in Los Angeles, as their lives are changed by one member’s brave announcement. Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) comes out to her family as a woman, despite being their father and going by the name Mort for all of their lives. Pfefferman matriarch Shelly (Judith Light) confronts this new knowledge »
- George Morvis
There's nothing funny about the wage gap. And yet, Sarah Silverman managed to humorously address the topic while promoting the Equal Payback Project. In the thought provoking, Nsfw video, the comedienne, 43, proves she'll stop at nothing to ensure she's paid the same amount as a man—even if she has to undergo gender reassignment surgery to make it happen. "Every year the average woman loses around $11,000 to the wage gap," Silverman explains. "Over the course of her working life, that's almost $500,000. That's a $500,000 vagina tax!" Before consulting her surgeon (Michaela Watkins), Silverman says, "Women make up almost half the working population, yet we typically earn »
A quick review of last night's "New Girl" coming up just as soon as I save you from a hideous river disease... "Julie Berkman's Older Sister" was the plottiest of the three episodes we've gotten so far. Or, at least, it was the one with stories that in their broadest strokes — Jess disapproves of her father's younger new girlfriend, Schmidt takes desperate measures to win an account — you could see other sitcoms doing. But it was also a reminder of how easily "New Girl" can get distracted from its own storylines in favor of letting the actors do and say random things — and also of why they tend to lean that way, because that tends to be when the show is most fun. So pretty much everything about the Schmidt/sponge story was a mess on a plot level, yet the whole story was clearly just an excuse for scenes »
- Alan Sepinwall
When a teenage Jessica Day flipped through her high school yearbook, little did she know that one of those pages featured her unlikely future stepmother: This week’s New Girl (Fox, Tuesday at 9/8c) introduces Ashley, the young new fiancée of Jess’ dad, Bob.
Pros: Ashley is played by It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Kaitlin Olson, who’ll be back for more episodes later in the season. Cons: Ashley is Jess and Cece’s high school nemesis… though she doesn’t remember it that way.
Related Fall TV Spectacular: Exclusive Scoop and Photos on 42 Returning Favorites, Including New Girl »
At a loss for what to watch this week? From new DVDs and Blu-rays, to what's streaming on Netflix, we've got you covered.
New on DVD and Blu-ray
Jon Favreau wrote and directed this delicious comedy about a chef named Carl Casper, who quits the biz to start a food truck with help from fellow chef Martin (John Leguizamo) and Carl's son Percy. Sofía Vergara plays Carl's ex-wife, with Dustin Hoffman as Carl's former boss, Scarlett Johansson as the hostess of the restaurant, and Oliver Platt as a food critic whose mean tweets kicked off this whole business.
"The Exorcist: The Complete Anthology"
This Blu-ray box set includes both the theatrical version and the extended director's cut of "The Exorcist," "Exorcist II: The Heretic," "The Exorcist III," and the two prequels, "Exorcist: The Beginning" and "Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist." Although this set doesn't boast a whole lot of extras, »
- Jenni Miller
Margaret here with a guessing game for you: a studio comedy is in production, and the lead is a woman. Who gets cast? If you're a Hollywood executive, the answer is Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig or Jennifer Aniston. Looking at today's top-grossing movies, you'd be forgiven for thinking that there are only four comic leading ladies; the studio focus on bankability keeps them sticking to a pretty rigid shortlist.
Actress Wendi McLendon-Covey, known best for her work in Bridesmaids and Reno 911!, thinks that shortlist should be a little longer. Earlier this week she took to a guest column at Laughspin to stump for her favorite comic actresses, and pitch a host of new projects. I am in no way saying that the women on the funny-lady short lists aren’t funny; they absolutely are! This is just a gentle reminder that there are other bankable comediennes out there, »
- Margaret de Larios
The half-hour from ABC Signature, the cable wing of ABC Studios, will air in the 10:30 p.m. slot behind USA’s comedic reality series “Chrisley Knows Best.” USA’s Tuesday comedy block is anchored from 8-10 p.m. by “Modern Family” reruns.
“Benched” stars Eliza Coupe, an alum of ABC’s “Happy Endings,” as a high-powered corporate lawyer who falls from grace and is forced to work as a public defender. Jay Harrington, Oscar Nunez, Maria Bamford, Jolene Purdy and Carter MacIntyre also star.
“Benched” is the third original comedy to hit USA this since the cabler invested big bucks in »
- Cynthia Littleton
“It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia” star Kaitlin Olson has landed a recurring role on Fox's “New Girl.” Olson will play Ashley, returning guest star Rob Reiner‘s fiancee and Jess's (Zooey Deschanel) high school nemesis. Since Reiner plays Jess's dad, you do the math about how well that will go over in sitcom-land. Also read: Fox TV Sells ‘New Girl’ Cable Rights to TBS, MTV The arc begins in the upcoming season's Episode 3, airing in late September. Olson and Reiner won't be the only stars guesting on the episode: Michaela Watkins (“Trophy Wife”) will reprise her role as Schmidt's (Max Greenfield) boss, »
- Tony Maglio
Brooks Wheelan, we hardly knew ye… and now we may never get the chance to. The blue-eyed comedian revealed Monday night that he won’t be returning for a second year at Saturday Night Live this fall—and that the decision wasn’t his to make. In a fairly delightful tweet, Wheelan said that he’d been let go. (His exact words: “Fired from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” Which is funny enough to make me wish things hadn’t ended this way.)
Clearly, getting canned from television’s most august comedy institution must be a bit of a bummer. »
- Hillary Busis
Brooks Wheelan announced on Monday that he was "Fired From New York, It's Saturday Night!"
The 27-year-old comedian tweeted:
But don't go feeling sorry for Weelan just yet. Acclaimed comedy director Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, Superbad) has already reached out to him, tweeting: ".@brookswheelan you will have the Robert Downey Jr. post SNL career! (minus the painful drug addiction). Rock on friend!"
Wheelan responded: ".@JuddApatow thanks man! I'm gonna take this time to formally submit myself for the Ironman reboot in 2021 and the Chaplin reboot in 2032."
Wheelan isn't the only SNL cast member to have his time cut short on the show. Obvious Child star Jenny Slate was let go after one season. She did, however, drop the f-bomb on her first episode. Chris Parnell, who now stars on Suburgatory, was cut from »
Come Undone: Wain’s Cliché Buster Episodically Funny
Every now and then, director David Wain delivers a great film with his certain brand of offbeat humor darkly shining, particularly with Role Models (2008) and Wet Hot American Summer (2001). At the very least, his less successful ventures feature standout performances from someone in his regular crew of comedic comrades (Michaela Watkins in Wanderlust, for instance). But arriving with the Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd headlined They Came Together (yeah, it’s supposed to mean that, too), finds Wain at his most strained since the episodically structured The Ten. Except, this film might have actually benefitted from a string of vignettes harpooning ridiculous rom-com tropes rather than the befuddling exercise at hand centered on two people that we’re watching solely as performers engaging in sketches rather than actual characters, utilizing a variety of broad comedic styles that feel lifted from the likes of The Naked Gun. »
- Nicholas Bell
“We tried to make this in 2002 but we couldn’t get the studio to do it,” he told the audience the Regal.
Wain’s longtime collaborator Michael Showalter wrote the script shortly after 2001′s “Wet Hot American Summer” but Universal put the project into turnaround. A decade later, Wain held a table read with Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler and got Lionsgate’s microbudget division on board.
With a budget of “$3 million and change,” Wain shot the project in 23 days, mostly in Brooklyn.
“We had a lot of one-take scenes; it was a race against time and money,” he noted. “Dollar for dollar, it was the least expensive movie I’ve ever done.”
The director explained that he was emulating the tone of “Airplane, »
- Dave McNary
With the second season of Comedy Central’s Drunk History just a month away from hitting the air, let’s pour you a tall, frosty glass of casting news: David Cross, Laura Dern, Patton Oswalt, and Charlie Day are among the notable names who will pop up this summer on the only TV series in which an intoxicated narrator shares a true-but-lesser-known tale from our nation’s past while celebrities act out his or her version of the story.
- Dan Snierson
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