Monday, March 21, 2011

New Addictions: All About Aubrey

Spring has almost sprung.  Thank God, because I'm so sick of tights, boots and shivering.  Especially shivering.  And with spring comes sunshine, change, me smirking at couples PDA's (oh hell, I do that all year)...and best of all, new reality TV shows I scoff at in public but Hulu in the privacy of my apartment.

Such as...All About Aubrey.

Remember Aubrey O'Day?  I do!  When I was a depressed law student, you couldn't pry my ass away from my crappy tiny TV on Making the Band night.  My overweight, sad self envied the hell out of the tight-bellied beauties competing for fame and fortune, not by making sex tapes or peeing in clubs, but by singing and dancing their spray-tanned hearts out.  I was on the edge of my desk chair when Diddy announced (gasp!) there would be no band, though he invited back a few girls to compete with a whole new crop of wannabes.  I was on the edge of my desk chair during the next season, where Danity Kane was formed.

And in the midst of it all, was Aubrey O'Day, pretty much a lock for the group since day one.  She wasn't the cutest.  At least half the girls could outsing her.  And fellow competitor Shannon could kick her ass all over the dance floor.

But Aubrey knew how to play the game.  That's not to say she wasn't talented--she had a great voice and was an excellent dancer.  Above all, however, she was the competitor you loved to watch.  She didn't try to buddy-buddy the other girls, but she had enough friends in the house that you knew she wasn't a bitch.  She had an instinct for when Diddy wanted sassy, when he wanted diva, and when he wanted workhorse.  She may have sported the cleavage-baring workout ensembles and janky highlights, but girl was whip-smart when it came to standing out.  And when she was the first "winner" announced, no one was surprised.

I didn't really follow Danity Kane during the following seasons of Making the Band, as by that point I'd graduated and was making a lot of major life changes.  I vaguely remember that Aubrey was fired, at least one girl quit in protest, and Diddy disbanded the very band he had made.  In fact, I forgot all about Miss Aubrey, until a recent commercial for her new reality show.

Since I don't get Oxygen, I went Hulu.  And one episode in, I'm all about Aubrey all over again.

Sure, some of it is totally staged and ridiculous.  I mean, who the hell dyes their dogs' fur and has their hairstylists jerk them off so she can freeze their sperm?  Aubrey, that's who (as the folks at The Soup thank whatever gods and goddesses they worship).  I could do without the "finding a man" storyline (come on, she's interesting enough without it!).  Her speaking voice is Kardashian-level whiny.  And sweetie?  It's really okay to cover up your tummy every once in a while. 

But you know what?  Under her blank and possibly plastic-surgeried exterior, Aubrey's still pretty savvy.  She's going for a comeback, using connections she made while in Danity Kane.  She's doing a reality show chronicling said comeback--automatic PR.  And she's owning up to some of the things she did that weren't so smart: namely, becoming a tabloid whore when that paid the bills and "artistry" did not.  Something else I didn't know but could have guessed from Making the Band: she's been singing, dancing and acting her ass off since childhood.  Even if I'm not always about sugary pop music, I respect people who want to be stars and actually, you know, WORK for it.

Also, she's gained some weight.  I don't think it looks bad on her--we should all be so fat.  And besides, Aubrey was several years younger when she first auditioned for Making the Band.  Her metabolism has changed as metabolisms do.  However, she's going to have to lose the weight because the industry's a bitch and double standards run amok.  During a dance rehearsal in the first episode, Aubrey had a little breakdown about this.  She's a stress eater and has never felt like she could enjoy food.  Either she's a hell of an actress or that was all true, because the whole scene felt real to me.  I'm not a pop tart, but I could relate, as many women can. 

When it comes to reality shows, Jersey Shore doesn't do it for me and never has.  No matter how hard I try, I just don't get the appeal of watching unattractive people be nasty to one another.  If I want to see that, I can go to a Wrigleyville bar.  And Teen Mom just makes me depressed that my gay friends can't get married in most states, yet THESE awful girls who never got a decent education in birth control (or a decent education, period) become famous simply for not using a condom.

But a show about someone who, despite her ditsy exterior, genuinely wants to get ahead in the music industry and lives in a pretty Hollywood house?

That I like!

All About Aubrey airs Monday nights on Oxygen, is available on Hulu, and re-runs on E!

And just because I can't get this friggin' song out of my head:

Monday, March 14, 2011

Happythankyoumoreplease, or My Life As an Indie Movie

On Friday, I saw Happythankyoumoreplease, which was basically Josh Radnor of How I Met Your Mother fame's attempt to be Woody Allen.  It kind of worked, in no small part because Radnor--who also played the lead--is quite adorable.  (Not that Woody Allen's adorable, unless your name is Soon-Yi, but you get my drift.)  And for once Malin Akerman, aka The Worst Working Actress in Hollywood, didn't annoy me too much, even though it was obvious she thought she was sooo deep for playing a hippie chick with alopecia.  However, the AV Club (who I would kill puppies to write for) made a good point: if Radnor weren't an established TV actor on a popular series, this movie probably wouldn't have gotten past the screenplay stage. 

Why?  Because it is full of Indie Movie Cliches.

And because I am a sucker for Indie Movie Cliches, roll my eyes at them as I am buying my ticket to whatever twee attempt at capturing the Stuff White People Like experience, I began to wonder.

What would my life be like if I existed in an indie movie?

Here goes:

1.  I would have long hair.  With bangs.  Unless I was the manic and/or perpetually horny and/or E-popping club-hopping friend/foil of the male protagonist.  Then I could keep my short hair.

2.  I would either play the guitar or have a charming yet sultry singing voice, which would only be used for folk songs, ironic covers of 80's hits, or Kander & Ebb showtunes that outline my life's overarching themes or the lesson I am supposed to learn that day.

3.  Speaking of music, I would have a ton of it.  Whenever I had sex, created something meaningful, saw someone on the street who would eventually play a huge part in my life, came to a major decision, or just sat and pondered my life, there would be gentle guitars and gravelly male tunefulness or uber-feminine warbling right on cue. 

4.  Jeff Daniels would be my dad.  Or my sad sack love interest.  Either way, Jeff Daniels would be involved.

5.  If my love interest weren't Jeff Daniels, he would be a mopey, vest-wearing, Smiths-loving gent with a quirky day job that still stifles his natural artistic instincts to pen navel-gazing prose, draw loser-turned-superhero comics or design arty buildings.  OR he would be a nerdy stalker who takes photos without my knowledge which he later shows to me to prove how beautiful I don't know I am, and instead of calling the police for a Temporary Restraining Order, I am totally charmed.

6.  I wouldn't have any gay male friends.  I would, however, know a lesbian or two who wanted to adopt or get turkey bastered.

7.  If there were any children in my orbit, they would draw meaningful pictures and spout innocent wisdom causing me to question my values and possibly get pregnant.

8.  I would--only once--get drunk and sleep with my ex, and feel quietly empty and regretful the next day.  And possibly get pregnant.

9.  My apartment building would have a stoop to sit on with my friends while we drank bottled beer and wondered "where is my home?"  That's more than an Indie Movie Cliche.  That is an Indie Movie Law.

And finally...

10.  As a woman, I would only exist as the sarcastibitch sister who swears a lot, the friend/foil who listens supportively between E-popping and club-hopping, or the long-haired pixie musician who captivates the whiny manboy protagonist simply by making eye contact with him on the sidewalk while sporting an Anthropologie sundress.  If I were one of the first two, I might get a subplot where I acquire a nerdy stalker or impregnate myself via ex or turkey baster.

Hey, I love indie movies.  If I didn't, I wouldn't be familiar with all these cliches.  However, just FOR ONCE can there be an indie movie with a smart, funny young female protagonist?  With someone who has a corporate job and is happy about it?  With gay characters who are real people?

I know they're all out there, but there are not enough.

Script Frenzy is coming up.  I don't know shit from apple butter about writing a screenplay, but I'm a little tempted to give it a shot.