she liked Imaginary Men best of all


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Fangirls Fall Guide to 2016: Television Edition

I have been lucky enough in my blogging “career” to meet some great people. One of them is Julie Kushner who wrote a blog about Pacey and Joey in 2010 that I read, loved, gushed over and out of that connection we became real friends. Since then we have spent time together chatting about boys (imaginary and real), giggling about TV Boyfriends, attending actual fan conventions, joint blogging about Hot Vampires, and of course, fangirling our hearts out.

Today I’m excited to present our latest venture together: our Fangirl Fall Guide to what we’re watching, reading, listening to and much more that we want to share with you! So just scroll past the photo here to see the Julie penned intro to this series that is also cross posted at Julie’s fab blog TV Recappers Anonymous. Read on Fangirls!

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In Amy H. Johnson’s honest, fresh, funny and inspiring memoir “The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines,” she writes about how Fangirling is not just a hobby but a way of life.  Whether it’s a favorite band, or a favorite book series, a favorite actor, or a favorite television show, Fangirling is a way we define ourselves, both to stand out from a crowd, and connect with the wide world of people who share similar interests with us in ways we never dreamed possible even a decade ago.  Through Fangirling, Amy, like many of us, found solace and comfort, excitement and adventure, independence and self-reliance, and a loving extended network of like minded fans, who she can turn to, not just to discuss the latest album by The Killers, but to share all the ups and downs life has to offer.

IG fangirlfiles.comThroughout “The Fangirl Files” Amy details her life from childhood, through adolescence into adulthood, using the various fandoms with which she associated as milestones along her thrilling journey.  And this, of course, may lead you to wonder, what is Amy fangirling about now, in the Fall of 2016?

With the help of her fellow Fangirl friend (Me, Julie, naturally), Amy will share with us the things that get her all excited and fangirly right now.

I’ll play as well, because, why not?  I’m a Fangirl too, after all.

Coming up we’ll discuss a few of our favorite things in 2016 from a wide variety of pop culture topics including television, movies, music, apps, podcasts, columns, and books.  And you can weigh in on whether you agree with us, think we are totally nuts, or have your own recommendations.  Because that’s what true fangirling is about, after all . . . . sharing our passion, expanding our horizons, and bonding over the things we all love.  Also, let’s be honest, it’s about the cute boys . . . because who doesn’t love those?

Amy’s TV Picks

What I’m watching:

I have been binging on season four of The Americans. Perhaps “binging” isn’t the right word as sometimes an episode is so stressful it takes me days before I feel emotionally ready to watch the next one! I often wonder why this show has never had the same sort of pop culture fixation as other “prestige dramas” like Mad Men or Breaking Bad. It is also filled with conflicted anti-heroes and heroines and is intense, brilliant, suspenseful, heartbreaking and superbly acted (if you ever thought, “Awww, Felicity Porter is so adorable!” Keri Russell will kick the living sh*t out of your memory of her previous incarnation). Plot lines are artfully woven through multiple seasons so things that happened two seasons ago come back to haunt the characters. Under the layers of spy intrigue and danger is the story of a family trying to stay together through the mundane tasks of every day life, and the high stakes secret world of espionage. And it always bears repeating, “POOR MARTHA!” Watch it: Amazon, iTunes.

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What I can’t wait to watch:

I’m excited about season three of The Affair. This one is another under-the-radar show that critics and awarding bodies like but is also not part of the “Peak TV” conversation. I think that may be because it can contain some soap opera-y elements although I don’t think that detracts at all from the performances or really deep emotional places it goes to. It is another doozy of a show in terms of stressing me out but this one also makes me cry a lot because at the heart of it is the understanding that relationships­—with spouses, lovers, friends, parents, even enemies—are complex and often overwhelming. The first season featured the POV of the two characters having the affair Alison and Noah. Season two added the views of the spouses they cheated on, Cole and Helen. As we follow the frequently conflicting interpretations of what happened in each relationship, there’s also a central mystery unfolding known as, “Who Killed Scotty Lockhart.” Let me tell you, last season’s finale was a true Gasp-Out-Loud-What-Just-Happened-Holy-Sh*t! Kind of TV moment that made me miss a time when everyone watched TV shows at the same time so we could discuss them right afterwards. Of course the entire reason I even began watching this show was because of my Ultimate TV Boyfriend Joshua Jackson (Pacey 4eva!) who even got his own chapter in my book The Fangirl Files! Watch it: Showtime, November 20th.

If you’d rather laugh:

Try Billy on the Street (Hulu), Parks and Recreation (Hulu, Netflix) or my latest binge, Very British Problems (Netflix).

Julie’s TV Picks

Stranger Things (Netflix)

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Admittedly, I was a bit late to the party on this one, if only because I thought it would be too scary for my wimpy, fraidy cat, ass. (Also because I’d heard the ending involved a full-sized slug coming out of somebody’s mouth, which pretty much describes every nightmare I’ve had from the age of six until forever.) If you’re an eighties kid, you’ll love the overload of nostalgia you will inevitably feel for a simpler time, when “fun” for kids involved just riding bikes around town or playing an intense round of Dungeons and Dragons, two activities that involve NO TECHNOLOGY AT ALL. Not to mention the fact that the film is jammed packed with pop culture references from the time: movies (E.T., It, Nightmare on Elm Street), music (Hazy Shade of Winter, Waiting for a Girl Like You); even school supplies (Teen Heroine Nancy owned and promptly displayed her very own Trapper Keeper during the series).

Even those who don’t exactly remember the eighties will still find plenty to love in this super fun series that is filled with action adventure, mystery, humor, horror, plucky characters you will root for, and cheesy special effects that will make you giggle. But most of all, I think Stranger Things is about the enduring nature of childhood friendship. Because when you are eleven years old your best friends are your whole wide world. It’s a feeling you never quite get back, after you inevitably grow into the self-absorption of your teenage years . . .

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The Night Of (HBO)

Based on the British series Criminal Justice, this HBO crime procedural / mystery follows Naz, a well-behaved, dutiful Pakistani college student, who gets invited to a party, meets a hot girl, has the best sex of his life, and then proceeds to have the WORST SIX MONTHS EVER! Though its Naz’s plight and the mystery of Who Killed Andrea, that will draw you into the series, you’ll stay for the harrowing portrait of our criminal justice system, and the pressure it puts on everyone from beat cops, to detectives, to district attorneys to judges to arrive at a conviction for violent crimes, even if it means ignoring exculpatory evidence, not to mention the picture it paints of our prison system. The Rikers Island of The Night Of makes the Litchfield of Orange is the New Black look like a trip to the mall.

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Also there’s a really cute cat in the series. And I’m just a sucker for really cute cats…

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This is Us (NBC)

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A husband whose wife is about to give birth to triplets; a Hollywood heartthrob experiencing malaise over the trajectory of his career; an overweight woman struggling to take back control over her life in a society that often obsesses over appearances; a successful businessman who has just reconnected with the biological dad who abandoned him at a fire station 36 years earlier.   These are four very different people, with vastly different stories; people who seem to have nothing in common with one another but the date of birth that they share . . . OR DO THEY?

From the first moment of the pilot, this series instantly had me hooked with its cast of likeable, not to mention super attractive characters, their relatable stories, and the unexpected twists the writers seem to enjoy slipping into the end of every episode. And touching, man is this show touching. Bring your hankies folks, because if you are in the right mood when you are watching this, you will be happy crying all over the damn place!

Stay tuned for Part 2: Movies!

For more check out Amy’s book The Fangirl Files: True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines and Julie’s novels on Amazon.


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I’ve written a book!

So it is clear that my attention to this blog has fallen by the wayside the last few years. There are many reasons for that including, but not limited to: a real, non-imaginary-man boyfriend, a house and a dog.

There is another reason that will be far more interesting to you which is that I have been writing a book! If you’ve liked what goes on here (when things were, you know, actually going on) then I guarantee you will like

The Fangirl Files

True Tales and Tips from the Fandom Frontlines!

Click to connect to my new book-centric website!

Click to connect to my new book-centric website!

The book is an expansion of this blog so if you enjoyed my tales of chasing Brandon Flowers on his Flamingo Tour, unapologetic love for Boy Bands, devotion to Pacey Witter and all things that celebrate being a Fangirl then get your copy and join the Fangirling Revolution!

May I interest in you a fabulous book trailer?

Buy now in Paperback or Kindle!

And follow along with #fangirlfilesbook on my social media (just look over there to the right, and up, and there you are!)


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The X-Files Today vs. Back in the Day

I have been loving the “revival” of The X-Files, or, technically, season 10. There’s been a mythology episode (My Struggle), a monster one (Founder’s Mutation), a funny one (Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster) and a heart breaker (Home Again). But even with two episodes left in this run, it will be hard for them to top this quiet moment in Home Again as they sit together in the hospital with Scully’s dying mother:

Scully: Back in the day did we ever come across the ability to just, wish someone back to life?
Mulder: I invented it. When you were in the hospital. Like this.
Scully: You’re a dark wizard Mulder
Mulder: What else is new (laughs)

There is a LOT going on in this brief exchange. Writer Glen Morgan knows these characters well, and these actors know their characters incredibly well. So much of Mulder and Scully’s entire relationship both professional and non has hinged on all the looks they exchange and what those gazes are saying, oftentimes without them having to speak a word. These 30 seconds intimately capture a shared history of pain, loss, struggle and understanding with exactly the right level of understatement in the performances.

Which brings me to a surprising aspect of the revival that I hadn’t expected which is the interesting new chemistry between Mulder and Scully. The show is famous for creating the “shipper” mentality in TV fandom and that’s because the leads had such incredible, lightening in a bottle on-screen chemistry together. Many viewers were like me and my friend Sarah shouting “JUST KISS ALREADY!!” at them in the 90s. But that was two decades ago and since then there have been a lot of kidnappings, near death experiences, monsters, creepy children, alien conspiracies, shadow governments, comas, dead parents, talking tattoos, buck toothed vampires, shape shifters, black oil eyes, ghost ships, inbred hillbillies, virus carrying bees, and cancer that these two have survived together.

Even with all that our favorite special agents found time to finally get it on, have a kid, give the kid away, go on the run together, settle down together, break up and reunite (at least professionally) to re-open the division that brought them to one another in the first place. And while that’s all fantastical and made-for-TV, in many ways it mirrors a marriage or any long term relationship. There are ups and downs, there are disappointments and joys, celebrations and sorrows, sometimes you want to throttle the other person and other times you could kill anyone who has hurt them.

And in the same way the actors probably feel that they are in a long term relationship of sorts that will always keep pulling them back together. It wasn’t much of a secret during the original run that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson didn’t always have the best off-screen relationship. They worked very long hours on an extremely intense show and both have said at various points they were just sick of each other. I tend to think that their off-screen prickliness may have been what lent their on-screen dynamics such an undeniable spark, because now that they clearly are quite close in real life (they seemed to be having a ball doing press together for this season), their on-screen chemistry is less hot and more cozy.

And isn’t that what happens in a real relationship as well? You ease into something comfortable and familiar. It isn’t as exciting or sexy but it’s deeper and more interesting because there are years and layers to it. This new Mulder and Scully dynamic seems lived in and because fans have watched it unfold in all it’s mysterious complexities over the last 23 years, it feels earned. Scully seems more appreciative of Mulder and he seems a lot more respectful of her and together they are just as interesting to watch as they ever were. It’s made me want to see how they develop further into another season, one in which they hopefully would find their son William, now a lanky red-haired teenager with (possibly alien) superpowers and an eye-rolling attitude about his parents who are sooooo lame.

 


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We Want to Believe in X-Files Ice Cream!

Maybe you have heard that a little show called The X-Files is making a return to our entertainment world next year and it begins shooting today!

My friend Andrea (perhaps you’ve read about her Wall of X?) and I thought that this momentous occasion needed to be marked in some important way – and that way is through ice cream my friends. Specifically Ben & Jerry’s ice cream as they are known for making special pop-culture themed flavors!

To that end we have started a petition and we want you to sign it! It’s quick, easy, fun and hey, we may get some Mulder and Scully themed creamy cold tasty goodness out of it!

Find it HERE and please sign, don’t be left celebrating a new season of The X-Files with only tofutti rice dreamsicles to eat 🙂

Kudos to Andrea for making this!

Kudos to Andrea for making this!


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An Ode to Dave

In my early teens I developed an obsession with Late Night with David Letterman. I’m not sure how I discovered it but it must have coincided with when we got a VCR which allowed me to tape episodes (given that 12:30AM was much too late to be up on a school night!)

For much of my teen years I was an avid fan and would record a week’s worth of shows and then spend the weekend watching them. I even kept a notebook with a dedicated pen to write down my favorite quotes and skits that the show did. There was “Bridget Jackson’s TV Nest Egg” where he had a staffer who was getting married come on and perform to earn different amounts of money towards her wedding (for example, $600 for doing a puppet show); during a writer’s strike Dave had a fountain built in front of his desk that he called “The Dancing Waters” and every night he’d introduce it and Paul would tinkle on the piano and they’d light up the fountain – and – that was it. That was the bit! When he tired of that they changed it up and added various other liquids (milk or Windex) and re-named it “The Prancing Fluids”; there was his crush on Connie Chung (one of my favorite bits was him spending the day running errands with her and deriding her need to get “shoe trees for Murray” – her husband and Dave’s romantic nemesis Maury Povich); there was the woman in the building opposite 30 Rock that he started calling randomly and chatting with; or yelling demented things through a bullhorn at an annoyed Bryant Gumbel as the “Today Show” tried to shoot.

Dave was absurd, irreverent, caustic, snarky, hilarious and sharp. He made me realize what made me laugh the most and what I wanted to emulate in my own humor were those very same qualities. I truly idolized David Letterman and that notebook was my way of keeping track of what it took to BE David Letterman. In all honesty I wanted to grow up and inherit his show when he retired. With that deadline looming TONIGHT I clearly did not reach that particular goal. I could have possibly come close at one point: in college I was looking for summer internships and found one on The Late Show. By then my Dave Worship had dwindled but seeing that there was a possibility that I could actually WORK on his show pulled me right back in. As I scanned the requirements I found I did not meet an important one: I was not a Communications major therefore I couldn’t receive credit which was required as part of the Late Show Internship program. Once again, my Dave Dreams were dashed.

So Dave was a big part of my formative years and he was also strangely a comfort during a particularly rough time in my life. When I was 15 and my parents told me about their separation I went numb and curled into a fetal position on my bed. I remember them gently asking me if I would like the TV moved into my room so I could “watch Dave” and I nodded and the TV was set up next to my bed where I watched with glazed over eyes and willed Dave to make me forget what was going on outside my door. I don’t remember anything about the episode other than being grateful for the familiarity of Dave doing his monologue when everything else had just been turned inside out.

But their eventual divorce did lead me to another grand plan and that was to get my mother to marry Dave and have him adopt me, therefore making me an actual, legitimate heir to his talk show crown. My mom however, didn’t warm to this plan citing Dave’s cigar smoking as a deal breaker (around the same time Letterman had an actual stalker who was always claiming to be his wife so it is likely this particular plan would not have gotten very far.)

Last year when he announced his retirement I realized that I probably wasn’t even going to fulfill probably the easiest Dave Goal to reach and that was to go to a taping of his show. The last few weeks I’ve been DVR’ing the Late Show and getting very nostalgic and even weepy about my youthful adoration of Dave and all his silliness. In recent years when I’ve caught the show he seemed bored at best, cranky at worst. In this home stretch he’s loosened up considerably and it’s reminded me how funny he is and how big a part of my life he’s been these last thirty years.

Late night TV is a changed landscape and now the entire point of a talk show seems to be getting a good clip that will go viral the next day – the Jimmy’s are the co-kings of this. But Dave is still old school and I’m sure CBS is a little relieved he’s decided to go and that the more viral-friendly Stephen Colbert is coming.

Just watching the final Top Ten lists has made me a little weepy so I fully expect to be a sobbing baby when I watch his final show. I truly feel it’s not just a man who is retiring but an entire form of entertainment – the last original late night talk show. He’s going out with a lot of accolades and deserved thanks from comedians and other hosts who would not have careers without the goofy and hysterical path he paved. But to me he’ll always be the guy who made me want to be as funny as he was when I was still finding out who I was.

Letterman Final

 


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“This is the story of four vampires who live in a flat and have their eternal lives taped…”

Last night I saw What We Do in the Shadows which is a HYSTERICAL “vampire reality TV documentary” (should such a thing actually exist!)

Here, just watch this:

I haven’t laughed so much at a movie in ages. It is so funny, so clever, so ridiculous that afterwards as I was trying to fall asleep I literally burst out laughing remembering one of the scenes. Just the idea of vampires having “chore charts” when one roommate isn’t pulling his weight or tricking people into thinking their spaghetti is worms because they learned it from The Lost Boys (!!!) is so brilliantly demented.

If my gushing hasn’t sold you – how about the fact that it’s by the same lunatics behind Flight of the Conchords? Or that Jemaine Clement stars and Rhys Darby has a supporting role as the alpha of a rival gang of werewolves (not “swearwolves” because they watch their language, OK?) Why don’t you watch this and remember how on-the-nose these guys are at parody and then go see the movie?


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Band Dynamic Documentaries

Tonight VH1 is premiering the Backstreet Boys documentary Show em What You’re Made Of and I think you should watch it. I say this not as a BSB fan but as a fan of anything that involves uncovering the fascinating world of band dynamics.

I recently read Mick Fleetwood’s autobiography Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac because for my money there is no band with more incredibly complex, deranged inter-band dynamics then Fleetwood Mac. Marriage between members? Check. Affairs between members? Check. Break-ups between members who then make the person they dumped sing songs about how awful their break-up was on-stage to thousands of fans? CHECK. Their episode of Behind the Music is well worth 45 minutes of your life.

Less romantically tangled but just as fascinating to this U2 fanatic is the near destruction of the band pre-Achtung Baby detailed in Bill Flanagan’s U2: At the End of the World and explored further in the band’s own documentary on the experience in From the Sky Down. Coming off of a decade of unparalleled success the members find themselves on opposing sides when it comes time to define themselves for the 90’s and nearly fall apart until they stumble into One.

And the king of all band dynamic documentaries is surely Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster which details abrupt departures, rehab stints, long buried animosities, and the band partaking in some of the craziest “group therapy” you’ll ever see. I am not a Metallica fan but I was enraptured by this film and the exploration of the complexities of being in a band and staying in a band, sharing your life, livelihood, emotions and talents with multiple other people who may not always have the same agenda or investment.

Which brings me back to the Backstreet Boys and their documentary detailing the making of their latest album In a World Like This and the subsequent tour. I watched it on VOD when it as released a few months ago and it hits all the sweet spots of a good band dynamic documentary: the camaraderie and frictions, the long-standing tensions and love for each other and the music. There was always a lot of backstage drama with BSB – the contract lawsuits, Brian’s heart problems, AJ’s addictions, Nick’s arrests – they were basically a documentary waiting to happen. The group visits to each member’s childhood home reveals a lot about each guy not just to the audience but to their other band members (the one to Nick Carter’s elementary school and his reunion with a teacher who supported him is heartbreaking as Nick’s very raw breakdown at the memory of what a lonely little boy he was and what kindness and faith this woman showed him is difficult to watch.)

So I don’t think you have to be a fan of a particular band to find their story and their relationships interesting. In some cases seeing the non-glossy, not-so-glamorous reality of what being in a band is actually like makes me appreciate them in a way I wouldn’t have if it was just about listening to their music. Check out any of these docs I’ve mentioned and you can start tonight on VH1 🙂