It’s been awhile. I’m not going to excuse our six-month absence from the world of pop culture snarkery – I’ll leave all that to Miss Thropist.
The point is, we’re back, a return inspired by a very special occasion for one of our most playful Playmates. In the midst of the thrilling lives we’ve been living, we’d forgotten just how much we enjoyed frolicking in our little corner of the interwebs. But while Miss Barista is celebrating her launch with champagne and tote bags (which we will also be partaking of tonight, thank you very much), we’ve decided to mark our relaunch with a fresh look and a couple of our trademark lists of ‘tings. (We do love our lists. And our ‘tings.) Keep it simple, keep it true. Clear eyes, full hearts. Etc.
I’ve got a very good feeling about PCP’s revival and am confident that we’re going to be even better and bigger and badder (like, in a good way) than ever. I have no basis for this assumption, but hey, if you don’t have a positive outlook, then you’ve already lost.
Then again, coming back does not necessarily a comeback make… let’s take a look at a few things I’ve loved and lost and possibly not quite gotten back again.
There was a time when Friends was the only TV show I’d ever seen every episode of. Those hairstyles and shenanigans ushered me to a few years shy of the age the Friends were meant to be in the pilot. Although it was definitely past its sell-by date by the time the final episode aired, I felt a sense of loss once it was all over. For ages afterward, anything that happened to me or someone I knew seemed to have happened first in Friends. I was naturally sceptical of the proposed spin-off but still managed to be completely blown away by its sheer terribleness. While Friends celebrated friendship, Joey celebrated stupidity. Furthermore, Joey made me sad because each episode underlined the fact that any friendship, however long, close and strong, can dwindle away to nothing. Much like the viewers for Joey. At least, after the five-year break from acting that the calamitous spin-off reportedly prompted, Matt Le Blanc seems to be doing well in Episodes, as a fictionalized version of himself. (Not that I’ve watched it.)
Sweet Valley High
I was obsessed with the travails of the Wakefield twins as a kid. I can’t even begin to count how many Sweet Valley High books I’ve read, not to mention the Sweet Valley Kids, Twins, Unicorns, SVUs, Secret Diaries etc. I liked the show too, although it didn’t really capture the Stepford Wives meets Twin Peaks vibe of the books. So I was psyched by Sweet Valley Confidential, which would show the twins at 30. Would another set of murder-y doppelgangers be implausibly stalking and impersonating the twins? That was my favourite Sweet Valley.) But oh god. Sweet Valley Confidential is one of the worst books I have ever read, and I have a passion for the likes of Virginia Andrews and Grease 2 so you know that means it’s bad. It is boring and littered with weird, stilted references to social media that made it clear that Pascal (if she actually wrote it) is barely capable of Wikipedia-ing Facebook. (Also I don’t think she understands homosexuality.) Sweet Valley Confidential has put me off re-reading my dog-eared Sweet Valleys, because I’m beginning to think they were always that bad and I just never realised. And yet… I still have hope for Diablo Cody’s movie. It’s going to be a musical!
Sarah Michelle Gellar
I was pretty late to the whole Buffy the Vampire Slayer thing… I only watched a few episodes here and there when it was actually airing – my mother seemed much more interested in it than I did. Although I’d seen the film shortly after its release, I just didn’t really get how a whole TV series could be spun from the concept. (Ha!) I finally mainlined the whole series (and Angel) over the course of three months in 2009. It was my crash-course to the Whedonverse. I learned that any romantic happiness will be immediately followed by utter despair and that a pillow can be drenched in tears by the end of a mere 40-minute episode. I also learned to more fully appreciate SMG, who was previously mostly known to me as Katherine in Cruel Intentions and the beauty queen in I Know What You Did Last Summer. So while her hiatus from TV didn’t seem quite as lengthy to me as it might to a more seasoned Buffy fan, I was still excited about her return in Ringer. Its intriguing and nonsensical premise was very much up my alley. And I do love a bit of twin swapping. But not enough people did, obviously – it only lasted a season. I’m not too bothered by its cancellation. I was more concerned that it might put SMG off being on the small screen for another eight years. But luckily, this doesn’t appear to be the case – I’m not completely convinced that this is going to last either, but it could also be utterly awesome. After all, it has Mork!
As Joey didn’t even try to prove, Friends is a hard act to follow. And Matthew Perry seemed particularly afflicted by the Friends Curse, with two promising shows, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and Mr Sunshine, dying quick deaths. Only time will tell (NBC is wielding the axe as I type!) whether Go On, a show about loss, proves to be a winner and last past one season. But while I’ve been gently enjoying Go On and Matthew Perry is welcome on my TV any day, I’m not sure he’ll ever be incarnated as someone more endearing than Chandler Bing.
At 13, I became rather enamoured of Norman Bates. Which I realise sounds extremely creepy. But few could deny that Hitchcock’s Psycho is an incredible film, it’s pretty much perfect and I’m glad that I got to watch it without knowing the twist. (I’m especially glad that I didn’t watch Gus Van Sant’s indulgent shot-by-shot remake before the original.) Perhaps the real allure of Norman Bates was not so much the incest and bevy of nubile blondes, but the fact he was played so impeccably by the gorgeous Anthony Perkins. I was won over by his nervous charm and offerings of sandwiches and milk before bed. I read the book and then ended up watching ALL of the Psycho sequels, none of which I can recommend, apart from Psycho IV, featuring ET‘s Henry Thomas as a young Norman and Olivia Hussey as Mother (Tagline: You’ve met Norman, now meet Mother!) which definitely was so bad that it was good. But my Psycho-philia seemed to have run its course… until I heard about Bates Motel, which is a contemporary prequel to the original film. Once again, I’m hooked. I love the weirdness of White Pine Bay. Vera Farmiga is almost as amazing as Norma Bates as Perkins was as Norman. I didn’t even know I wanted to be Psycho-tic again – but a little Mother goes a long way…
James van der Beek
As with Buffy, I was late to the Dawson’s Creek party. It showed every day on Star Plus during the year I lived in Dar es Salaam and it became an enjoyable ritual between me and my parents. (My dad became more concerned by the ups and downs of Joey/Pacey/Dawson/Jen than I did!) But the thing that stopped me from truly loving the show was Dawson himself. He was so whiny! And self-righteous! Ugh. I did not feel the lack of the Beek on screen at all. Then I came across this and realised that he deserved a second chance. And he got one on the fabulous Apartment 23, which is truly one of the best sitcoms ever, playing pretty much the version of himself that would make a self-mocking website full of emo-gifs. But the TV God giveth, and he taketh away. Apartment 23 went through various title changes and stops and starts, before shuffling off of TVland’s mortal coil. What is wrong with people?! If you can find me the remaining unaired episodes, I will give you the first child that I conceive with James. (Any I obtain via Joshua Jackson are all mine though, sorry.)
The Big Bang Theory
You know what’s really sad? When you really really like something and you think you’re always going to like it and then suddenly you realise its become… un-good. (*cough* How I Met Your Mother *cough*) I loved the dorkiness of TBBT, the Barenaked Ladies theme tune, Sheldon… and then it all became a bit meh. Even worse, the increase of regular female characters on the show, which should have been a positive development, starkly revealed the inherent sexism and superficiality. While the stereotypically attractive Penny and Bernadette are consistently presented as desirable and worth making an effort for, poor Amy Farrah Fowler has to make do with whatever scraps of affection and respect Sheldon is willing to toss at her. (Thanks for ruining Sheldon, show.) And way too much humour is derived from the Fear of Gay, be it Howard and Raj’s bromance, Raj’s budding friendship with Stuart… and well, just Raj, really. (The treatment of Raj also borders on offensively Orientalist.) But lately, TBBT seems to be returning to form, with recent episode “The Closure Alternative” being genuinely loveable and hilarious.
But maybe I’m just too easily won over by the Whedon-verse (my favourite plot involves Leonard trying to get Penny into Buffy), and the fact the episode was essentially about how wonderful it is to have things to geek out over, whatever those things are… after all, that’s why we started PCP in the first place. And that’s why we’re back!