‘Scandal’ Season 4 Episode 9 Recap: “Where the Sun Don’t Shine”

Whatever Scandal‘s problem is, from week to week and on the whole, as one of TV’s fastest-paced and most consistently bonkers dramas, it’s never that the show has gotten too silly. This is not to say that Scandal is not, very often, a remarkably silly show; the thing is, silliness is more often than not a good look for Scandal. Think about Mellie’s fire-and-brimstone monologues, which we haven’t heard nearly enough of this season. The show works as a high-stakes political thriller and a romance built around a love triangle and even, in the past two seasons, a family drama. Scandal sacrifices tonal consistency in these moments of Twitter-friendly, in-your-face wackiness — but if it didn’t have a screwy, campy, self-aware sense of humor, it would be a slog to watch. … Read More

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‘Scandal’ Season 4 Episode 8 Recap: “The Last Supper”

In past seasons, Shonda Rhimes and her writers have filled each Scandal episode to the brim and then made it sprint, combining raw action with endless plot twists in a way that was guaranteed to break both individual viewers’ brains and Twitter. This year, though, the show has displayed more restraint than I ever thought I’d see from it — with mixed results. While the first few episodes were just plain sluggish, Scandal has recovered significantly in the past several weeks, as it’s set up several season-long arcs. Last night’s installment, “The Last Supper,” was the final one before next week’s “Winter Finale” (but shouldn’t that be “Fall Finale,” since it’s not even Thanksgiving yet?). The first two-thirds of the episode dragged a bit, but it ended on a strong note, largely thanks to a brilliant action sequence that brought several apparently unrelated storylines together. … Read More

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How ‘Selfie’ Became a Better Show — Just in Time to Get Canceled

Selfie was doomed from the beginning. Its title was both obnoxious and alienating to potential viewers, its premise — a modern-day My Fair Lady — was a turn-off for many, and its obsession with social media made the series a niche concern. It certainly didn’t help that the pilot was extremely irritating. I noted in a pre-air review that I wholeheartedly believed Selfie had massive potential hidden beneath that first episode’s Yelp puns and the fumbling character development. Now, with six episodes aired, Selfie has bettered itself and found its place on television — only to get canceled by ABC. … Read More

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‘Scandal’ Season 4 Episode 7 Recap: “Baby Made a Mess”

If you recognize the origin of last night’s Scandal episode title, there’s a good probability that reading it makes you cringe. “Baby Made a Mess,” you see, refers to a leaked video that captures Senator McDonnell of Virginia dressed as an adult baby and, rather unfortunately, soiling himself. It’s the kind of clip that unceremoniously ends a political career, and McDonnell (side note: change just one letter of the fictional senator’s last name and you’ve got newly reelected Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell) resigns immediately. Thankfully for those of us who get nauseated thinking about it, his particular shame only gets a few minutes of screen time. But what it represents — powerful men throwing self-destructive tantrums and giving in to selfish, immature urges while competent women step in to take control — becomes the theme of the week. … Read More

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‘Scandal’ Season 4 Episode 6 Recap: “An Innocent Man”

Of the many things that make Scandal addictive, one that’s rarely discussed is its uniquely combustible blend of fantasy and reality. At one extreme, it’s a political drama that isn’t afraid to go deep into the nasty expediencies and ruthless optics-doctoring that most of us assume are essential to our federal government’s daily operations; at the other, it’s a utopian hallucination of a Republican administration that cares about issues like equal pay and gun control, where an ethnically diverse, largely female group of fixers can go head-to-head with not only POTUS but also the shadowy, top-secret assassin agency charged with protecting the nation’s security at any cost. The show is at its best when it brings its optimism and pessimism into direct conflict through individual relationships, as it did on last night’s “An Innocent Man.” … Read More

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Karen Russell’s “St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves” Will Be Adapted as an ABC Series

St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, the short story collection by Pulitzer Prize finalist and MacArthur Genius… Read More

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‘Scandal’ Season 4 Episode 5 Recap: “The Key”

Scandal thrives on interweaving political intrigue with personal relationships and struggles, though for the first few episodes of Season 4, its attempts to unite the two came across as awkward and forced. But, among other encouraging developments, last week’s final moments contained a political bombshell with the power to bring closure to the show’s most persistent interpersonal storyline: the Fitz-Olivia-Jake love triangle. … Read More

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‘Nashville’ Is Pushing Its Gay Cowboy Out of the Closet, and It’s About Time

Note: This article contains spoilers for last night’s episode of Nashville.

A few weeks back, ABC’s Nashville — now in its third season — nearly evaded a conversation that seems unavoidable when a young, single character gets pregnant unexpectedly in the year 2014. The country music soap delicately danced around the topic of abortion. Superstar Juliette Barnes (played by Hayden Panettiere) would have the baby and give it up for adoption, and she would hide the pregnancy while filming a Patsy Cline biopic and touring the country, practicality be damned. … Read More

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‘Scandal’ Season 4 Episode 4 Recap: “Like Father, Like Daughter”

TV recaps tend to get a bad rap among high-minded critic types — something I’ve never thought was entirely fair. Certainly, I have practical reasons to be biased in favor of the format, but it’s also difficult for me to understand what’s so terrible about coming together to discuss individual episodes of television, which is after all one of the few shared experiences left in American culture now that we all bowl alone and have invented enough apps that we never need to leave home. … Read More

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Nielsen Admits to False Network Ratings Since March Due to “Technical Error”

Do television ratings ever seem bewilderingly arbitrary to you? Do you find yourself cursing the heavens when that smart, not-that-esoteric… Read More

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