“A Lady Had a Baby in a Tree” – Initial Reactions to The Michael J. Fox Show

Michael-J-Fox-ShowAs a longtime fan of Michael J. Fox, and having watched most of his previous shows through reruns, I’m highly excited about his new series, The Michael J. Fox Show, which debuted this week.

Like the publicity leading up to the show these past few months has suggested, The Michael J. Fox Show is a semi-autobiographical account of Fox’s life as a television star, husband and father coping with Parkinson’s Disease. The pilot episode explains that his character, Mike Henry, has been a stay-at-home dad since leaving his position as a news anchor five years earlier. Mike’s family, while certainly appreciative of his household contributions, recognizes that he needs to find another outlet in which to invest his energy. Therefore, when, following what he believes is a chance meeting with a former colleague, Mike tells his family he is considering returning to his job, they are all clear in expressing it is something he needs to do, despite his fears that his condition will hinder his success. And so, Mike decides to give broadcasting another chance.

Because the show airs on NBC, Mike is of course affiliated with the network, allowing for fun meta references and cameos à la 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live. One of Fox’s funniest bits in the pilot involves his character describing a rivalry with Matt Lauer, which his wife, played by Breaking Bad‘s Betsy Brandt, then explains is actually “one-sided.”

The rest of the plot centers around Mike’s family, played by a strong ensemble. The casting directors did an excellent job of finding actors that are believable as Michael J. Fox’s wife and children and can hold their own opposite him onscreen. It’s clear from any interview how close Fox is with his family (his wife, Tracy, even appears in the second episode) and the series really captures that dynamic.

The Michael J. Fox Show has a great foundation and I look forward to seeing how it evolves. I think a lot of fans are rooting for Fox and the series and I’m certain he will continue to entertain and surprise us.

The Michael J. Fox Show airs Thursdays at 9:30 PM on NBC.


Introducing a New Media Channel and Series

Mug for Thought contributor Tanya Marcy recently informed me of the launch of network Pivot.tv and one of its programs, “Please Like Me.”

According to its website, “Pivot, launched August 1, 2013, is a new television network from Participant Media serving passionate Millennials (18-34) with a diverse slate of talent and a mix of original series, acquired programming, films and documentaries.” Pivot appears to be already available through some cable providers, with plans to expand to additional distributors.

“Please Like Me” is described as an “original, coming of age comedy series which celebrates the awkwardness of establishing an identity and sustaining friendships as a young adult.” Created by Josh Thomas, the series’ first six episodes originally aired on Australian television and the show has already been renewed for a second season.

Tanya and I look forward to learning more about Pivot and “Please Like Me” and reporting back with our thoughts. Meanwhile, we hope you enjoy this “Please Like Me” trailer and welcome your feedback in the comments section below.

Closing Books and Embracing New Directions

Hello, everyone. I’m happy to back writing again after my time in California, which was much-needed and I am trying to keep with me a bit longer.

I would like to say some final words in the wake of Cory Monteith’s passing which occurred while I was traveling. While Cory is not someone I knew personally, he seemed like a good person, and it felt like all that did know and work with him attested to this. At his best, he came across as optimistic, hardworking and humble. He brought a great energy, talent, and heart to Glee, and it’s clear how special a role he came to play in Lea Michele’s life through his final days. It is truly unfortunate that someone with such promise was unable to conquer the inner struggles he fought so hard to overcome, and he will be missed by the many who grew to care for him in the course of his life.

I’d always intended to write some final words on my experience with Glee upon the series’ ending when I presumed, among other events, Finn and Rachel would finally take that midnight train going anywhere. Cory’s death brought the realization of how much we count on these things, a faith we can only understand fully when reality makes us see truth. Wherever the Glee team decides to take the show from this point, I wish them the best of luck. At the same time, Cory’s legacy will live on through his performances and the hearts of his friends, family and fans. In the words of a certain Journey song, Don’t Stop Believin’.


A Surreal Two Weeks

IMG_0223The past few days have been a whirlwind. Yesterday, my best friend since childhood got married. She and her now-husband relocated to Los Angeles last year, and so I have been in California in the days leading up to their wedding. Today, my parents, who also traveled out to attend, and I are driving down the coast to spend a few more days in Southern California. It will be my first real vacation with them since I graduated college, and I’m really looking forward to this time to get away from my life in Stamford and reflect on things.

At the same time, I am still in shock to learn that Cory Monteith has passed away. I first learned of the news shortly after returning from the wedding, and the juxtaposition of such joyful and sad events feels haunting. Having written about Cory and his girlfriend, Lea Michele’s lives in the context of what often appeared to be the ideal of success compared to my own process of self-discovery, I’m struck by how quickly harsh reality has shattered that image, even though I knew Cory had struggled with addiction multiple times in the past.

Everything has changed, yet in many ways will continue as before. Lea’s life and career will be marked by this tragedy forever, even though she’ll continue to work on Glee, her album and her book. My friends, whose wedding also resembled a storybook ending, will return from their honeymoon to their new, yet in many ways the same as they’d been lives in LA as husband and wife, and I’ll too return to my life.

Yet for now, I wish a wonderful honeymoon to my friends, keep Cory’s colleagues, friends and family in my thoughts, and look forward to a few more days of my own vacation. I’ll be back, as always, but the past few days have shown me we can never perfectly plan our futures, and so I close this until we meet again.

More Comedians, Cars and Coffee – Plus, Dream Guests!

Jerry Seinfeld has released the preview for the second season of his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

This year’s group of comedians appears more diverse than last season’s, with the first female guest (Sarah Silverman) and Chris Rock among those featured. I’m also excited to see Seth Meyers will appear in a webisode.

The show’s format looks to be the same, and I’m curious to see how Jerry’s rendezvous this year will compare to the previous season. Meanwhile, I propose a list of potential future guests:

  • Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Former Seinfeld castmates, obviously.
  • Tina Fey – My lady hero. Enough said.
  • Amy Poehler – Another one of my favorites.
  • Steve Carell – That’s what she said.
  • Michael J. Fox – He has a new series debuting this fall, and was also hilarious in the most recent season finale of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
  • Lena Dunham – I’d be interested to see these two interact and debate whose depiction of New York is more “authentic.”
  • Myself – I can dream, right? I do run a website called Mug for Thought, after all. Maybe if enough of us tweet Jerry, we can convince him to have me on the show. Weirder things have happened on the Internet.

New webisodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee start Thursday, June 13th.

Where Did My Love For Glee’s Lea Michele Go?

Interesting comments on the potentially negative reactions to any celebrity’s overexposure.

Readers know I’m a longtime fan of Lea Michele, but this article addresses some points worth considering.

It can be challenging to continually be happy for someone when you feel you’re in their shadow, even when that someone is famous. At times especially when that person is famous.

By all means we should always seize opportunities to pursue our passions, but we also need to evaluate how much we care about how our friends, family, and other people will view those choices, and if that matters to us at all.


All In Spare Time

The Paley Center Honors Ryan Murphy With Inaugural PaleyFest Icon Award

I used to absolutely adore Lea Michele, but something has happened since she shot to stardom — she’s become really, really annoying.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think she’s got one of the best musical theater voices in the world, but when I read in this morning’s The New York Times that the Glee star will write a book to be released next spring for the Harmony Books imprint of Random House’s Crown Publishing Group, I literally rolled my eyes. Rolled. My. Eyes.

The “part memoir, part how-to and part style-guide” will be titled Brunette Ambition (cue another eye roll) and will follow Michele’s journey “from normal Bronx-born schoolgirl to Broadway child star to lead actress in one of the most popular shows on television.” Oh Lea. Oh, oh Lea. Do you have no self awareness at all?

When Glee first began airing, I was totally rooting for her. I…

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That’s What She Said: Reflections on The Office.

Television series’ finales often generate a sense of perspective and nostalgia. We realize that in the years we’ve spent watching along, our life has been unfolding in tandem. So as The Office concluded its nine season run this past week, it’s prompted me to look back on how much I’ve learned over that time.

The Office premiered the spring of my senior year of high school and reached its creative stride during my college years – everyone I knew seemed to watch and have Dunder Mifflin memorabilia in their dorm rooms. As we graduated and took on our own first jobs, I’ve found the show’s depiction of the workplace environment to be widely reflective of my own experience. I often question what it is I’m even doing at my company. My boss is filled with often unrelenting energy and my coworkers are equally full of idiosyncrasies one could only learn about by working with them – and at the same time, they’ve been as influential in shaping the person I’ve become as any family member or friend, and at the end of the day, we truly care about each other.

While I hadn’t watched much of The Office since Steve Carell left the show in 2011, I returned for its final episodes and found that they, like most of the series, captured that unique workplace spirit. Some characters had moved on from Dunder Mifflin, others had found new niches at the company, yet all of them had been impacted by their time there.

Incidentally, I feel myself reaching a crossroads in my own career, often itching to get to the next opportunity, wondering what keeps me coming back each Monday. I know I’ll move on eventually, if only because the company’s evolution will continually force me to adapt and make choices.

I don’t know when that will happen. I don’t think I’ll meet my future husband here, and that’s okay. Because as much as these years have been filled with frustrations and mundanities,  my life has been taking place.

I won’t reveal the show’s ending for those who may still want to see it, but I’ll close with one of its final bits of wisdom:

“Even if I didn’t love every minute of it, everything I have, I owe to this job.”

That’s what she said.

Searching for a (Lady) Hero


Will Katniss have to choose between her conscience and her heart? And why don’t guys seem to face these dilemmas? (Photo by Murray Close.)

There seem to be some universal experiences single women share. A sense of searching, inside ourselves and in the world, for meaning and direction. I know that men engage with these feelings as well, but it feels as though something in our biology or socialization make the female experience intangibly, distinctly different.

I know I, at least, tend to look at women in fiction as an extension of my of own self. How do they approach their work, their relationships? What can I learn from them? And while there are certainly more than enough examples of females who are horribly written, the best have me rooting for them to secure everything they’ve ever wanted.

I notice we never question whether men can “have it all” – no one writes New York Times features on men’s challenges to balance aspirations, relationships and family. Why? I don’t know. I’m sure a lot would benefit from such explorations. I suppose that even academia is not immune to pressure to selling ideas it believes will bear the most fruit.

Returning to the fictional realm, women in literature, film and television tend to take on this cultural transcendence – where their anxieties and victories represent those of all women, from Mary Richards to Carrie Bradshaw. Meanwhile, male archetypes tend to remain the familiar superhero (or villain), outlaw, executive. Superman saves the world and flies into the sunset (metaphorically, at least) with Lois Lane, and we have no doubt he’ll be able to do so. Meanwhile, we spend the entire Hunger Games Trilogy wondering how Katniss Everdeen will shape her destiny.

Many female protagonists are writers in some form – I mentioned the likely over-studied Bradshaw, and then there’s Bridget Jones, Liz Lemon, Hannah Horvath. Even the recent MTV series Awkward. draws upon main character Jenna’s interest in blogging to share her story. As if in writing about our experiences we’ll be able to reach revelations we otherwise wouldn’t have. In retrospect, the cartoon Doug was pretty groundbreaking in featuring an eleven year old boy pouring his soul into his beloved journal in this regard.

I know that these are rough observations – if I were attempting to be published in a peer reviewed journal, this piece would be very different. But that is not my intent, at least not now. Mine is to pose questions, and see what ideas they might solicit from you. So share your thoughts – who are your heroes, male or female, and are they such because you identify with them on some level? Do they reinforce or challenge our assumptions about gender? Leave some points in the comments section below.

What “The Big Bang Theory” teaches us about our twenties

Another great read. I’m a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory and find it to be probably the most honest and assuring depiction of young adulthood in my experience for the reasons mentioned (Sorry, Lena Dunham. Don’t worry though – you’re still my role model.)

20somethings Blog

Through Twitter, I found an article from USA Today College that uses The Big Bang Theory to provide tips about graduate school:

What ‘The Big Bang Theory’ teaches us about grad school (usatodayeducate.com)

For those of you who haven’t watched The Big Bang Theory, it’s about four nerdy scientists — Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj — and Penny, the attractive blonde they befriend.

I enjoyed the article, but it made me ask myself if The Big Bang Theory could provide lessons not only about graduate school but also about your twenties. So these are five points that I came up with:

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‘Glee’ star Cory Monteith checks into rehab facility

I’m stunned.

As a longtime fan, I hope Monteith gets the help he needs and wish him and his family and friends the best during this challenging time.

It just shows that everyone faces obstacles, regardless of how perfect their lives may seem from the outside.

That truth is something to keep in mind during those moments we feel mediocre among classmates and those in the limelight. If we agree to support others in times of need, hopefully they will be there for us in return.

All the best.