Alias S01E14-15: My name is Regina Phalange. I’m a business woman in town on business.

Well, folks we made it through Quentin Tarantino’s unfortunate presence in “The Box” and now we are to be rewarded for our discomfort. It is time for Sark. IT’S TIME FOR SARK! It is the best time (until a little something that happens in S02E01, after which Sark is basically the second-best, but it’s not time for that yet).

So, Sark is just about my favorite Alias character because he’s like a Will you’re allowed to dislike. He has no loyalties, no good side, but he’s the bad guy, so you’re allowed to hate him. He’s also consistent, which makes him only the second character after Will to be consistent, so he’s easy to watch. There’s nothing frustrating about Sark. There’s none of the resentment I feel with Will, where I know I’m supposed to view Will as the good guy but all I see is him being terrible. There’s very little gray area when you’re dealing with Sark, and I respect that about him.

(Also, as a slight aside, did anyone else read this GQ interview with Bradley Cooper where he talked about how horrible it was to play Will because he only worked 3 days a week and eventually got so sidelined that he asked to be written out of the show? I could almost not exactly believe this shit when I read it, because how fucking Will Tippin is that attitude? “But why aren’t I the star of Sydney’s life? This should be more about MEEEEEEEE!” I mean, seriously.)

S01E14-15 Recap

Sloane is showing his team security footage from a break-in at FTL headquarters that took place the same time as QT was performing in his odd little one-man show, oblivious to the plot and script and actors around him, in the last 2 episodes. This break-in was led by a newcomer unknown to any facial recognition databases they’ve checked. Someone who managed to take down the entire security team of the head of FTL, then chase the guy out of the building, then stone cold stare him straight in the eye and shoot him fucking dead in broad daylight.

 

And I already love him.

And I already love him.

 

Sydney wants to quit school because her entire sense of self and all her goals in life are based 100% on “my mom was a lovely person and a teacher and so I’m going to be a teacher like my mom and my dad is a big meanie who lies intentionally to hurt me” and any time those definitions shift even slightly she loses all control on her life and starts making really stupid decisions. She tries to talk to Jack about it and he just cannot fucking deal even a little bit. (Again, when Jack needs to be an emotional wreck, he gets to do it at the office in a suit, not at the bottom of a glass of wine in his robe and slippies.) She talks to her professor about it and, even though all season he’s been telling her her work is slipping and she’s not trying hard enough and maybe she needs to think about whether she should even be in school at all, when she hands him the form he has to sign so she can drop out, he refuses to do it. Because even when Sydney is making bad decisions, she doesn’t get to really make them unless a man on the cast agrees.

 

Speaking of the stupid decisions Sydney makes, she tells Francie that she’s going to Vegas for work. This is a stupid decision because she’s actually going to Vegas. This is the only example I can think of in the show where she actually tells people where she’s going, and it immediately becomes clear why she should never do this, because Francie’s first thought is to climb into Sydney’s suitcase and go with her. Sydney talks her out of it at first, but then Francie and Charlie elope to Vegas and almost ruin everything, because not only did Sydney tell them she was going to Vegas, she told them the fucking hotel she’d be staying at. So, Francie’s calling her all “I’M HEEEEEEERE WHERE AAAAARE YOU WHAT ROOOOM ARE YOU IN????” while Sydney’s running around ten feet away trying to be undercover as a showgirl and at this point I just feel like the writers don’t even remember anymore that Sydney is supposed to be smart and that spies are supposed to be secretive.

 

Anyway, Sydney compromises her mission and almost gets Dixon captured or killed so she can confront Charlie about how she ran into the woman he was actually cheating on Francie with. (Yeah, remember that storyline that got resolved several episodes ago? Well, it’s back for some reason. I guess they all assumed we even remembered that Charlie was ever on the show to begin with so they thought they’d bring him back for 5 minutes to get rid of him for good.) She threatens Charlie into calling off the wedding, then has to tell Francie the truth herself when she finds out Charlie didn’t. Francie, of course, launches right into “You hate Charlie! You just don’t want me to be happy! I hate your job and you’re a terrible person.” And, you guys, I don’t wanna spoil anything here, but I cannot fucking wait until the one where XXXXXXX XXXXXXX XXXX XXXXXXX!

 

After all of that, Jack takes Sydney to her favorite childhood carousel to try to apologize for being such an emotionless wall all the time. He tells her how he used to take her here and talk to her mom about his day while Sydney rode the carousel, never knowing that his wife was storing all his work secrets away to pass on to the KGB. And, you know, I kind of love these little glimpses into how Sydney really gets all of her emotionalism and poor personal-life-decision making skills from Jack. Anyway, somehow this is al supposed to mean that Sydney should still be a teacher or something.

 

So, after the whole FTL deal went down, the secret organization that the mystery guy (SARK!) works for set up a meeting with K-Directorate. Sydney is sent to spy on the meeting and this involves her hanging from a wire in an alley while wearing a fur hat and sometimes I really do want her job just for a minute. Except for the part where the bad guys see her and she’s just hanging there mid-air being all shot at and shit. I could skip that part. The fur hat would be fun, though.

 

Back in Sydney’s personal life which they keep making us look at even when she’s not around for some unknowable reason, Will has won an award. His intern-girlfriend tells him about it and assumes he will want to celebrate. He tells her doesn’t want to celebrate, but what he means is that he wants to celebrate with Sydney, whom he immediately calls to brag to and make plans with. Ugh, he is so gross I can’t even sometimes. Then he heads off for a meeting at the jail, after which Jack kidnaps him and fucks with him for a little while to scare him off the story.

 

Now, I’m all for this. I say anything any of these characters can do to teach Will that he’s disgusting and needs to start making different life choices is pretty much the way to go. But then things get even better, because after Jack leaves and Will is stuck in the middle of nowhere, Will calls Jenny to pick him up. And because Jenny is not a horrible person but actually a nice lady trying to have a relationship here, she comes to get him. And he basically gets in the car and says “yeah, I think we should break up,” because that’s something a decent person would say to the person they’re dating who just drove forever to come rescue them. And you know what she does? She kicks him the fuck out of her car and leaves him stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere. God, I love that scene. It’s the last we see of Jenny, but, man, she goes out in style.

 

Back in the part of Sydney’s life I care about, Vaughn wants Sydney to use her close relationship with Sloane’s cancer-stricken wife, Emily, to get invited over for dinner and swap out a Rambaldi artifact at Sloane’s house before he has a chance to send it away. He also doesn’t see why she’s upset that she’s being asked to manipulate one of her friends to benefit the CIA. She does it anyway, though, and she brings Will to dinner.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 6_Fotor

That’s Sloane’s “Ugh, not this asshole” face. It’s a great face.

 

During dinner, Vaughn calls Sydney posing as Francie so she has a reason to excuse herself and go steal from Sloane. And I really really really hope this is not indicative of any future foreplay tendencies. Anyway, this scene makes me dream up yet another alternate-reality show that I would watch the hell out of. Because we’re supposed to get all tense in this scene, like “ooooh what’s gonna happen if Sloane catches her,” but if Sloane caught her, Jack would just shoot him in the head and then probably sit down and finish his dinner and I think we all know that. So, yeah, I would watch the “Jack kills Sloane and takes over SD-6” show is what I’m saying.

 

Sydney turns over the artifact (a blank page from Rambaldi’s book) and the CIA makes some magic happen so the ink will appear and this is what they find:

 

DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNNN!

DUN DUN DUUUUUNNNNNN!

 

 

Yay-Boo Analysis

Yay!

Boo!

No but seriously that opening scene. SARK!

I just wanted to rip his finger right off again.”

Sydney telling Charlie “I will kill you.”

I suppose there are worse places to be stuck,” and then SNACK FIGHT!

Sydney finally has her chance to ruin Francie’s life!

spy fur hats!

mannequin factory fight!

spy banter!

Will misuses “literally”

Total These Episodes: 8 Yays & 1 Boo – Seriously. And my only Boo is a word gripe that I’m pretty much in the minority on anyway. You guys. YOU GUYS LOOK AT THAT! Sark shows up and suddenly I clearly, mathematically love this show!

Total So Far: 56 Yays & 57 Boos

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Alias S01E12-13: That was one of the worst things ever. And not just on TV.

(Full disclosure: I watched these episodes weeks ago but haven’t been able to bring myself to think about them. At this point, I can’t read my own handwriting and I may have filled in some of the gaps my notes left creatively. Please accept my apologies for any inaccuracies in this post, but there is just no way I’m watching these episodes again for at least a decade.)

OK, so I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I watched the Quentin Tarantino episodes. I’d been dreading it since I started re-watching, but I powered through. And I think, if it weren’t for the absolute awfulness of QT’s acting, these 2 would be some of my favorite episodes. They explore a really interesting idea: what happens when one of the spies you deem disposable, who works for your secret evil agency and doesn’t know they don’t work for the CIA, gets in a bad situation? Well, if you won’t help them out of it, because you view them as disposable, they might just call the CIA for help. And that could come back around someday to bite you in the ass cut your finger off.

S01E12-13 Recap

But before we get into that interesting situation, we need to wrap up where we left off last episode, with Jack having revealed to Sydney that her mother was not a kind, loving teacher who was the unfortunate victim of Jack’s nefarious KGB activities, but was in fact a super-evil KGB agent who exploited her unwitting husband’s displays of affection in ways that allowed her to engage in maximum amounts of killing CIA agents. This is revealed to Sydney in a CIA conference room, in front of the director of the agency and several other very important people. And Sydney runs out into the hall to have a little meltdown, because of course she does. Ten minutes ago she was all stone-faced, ready to volunteer her father for whatever it is they do to traitorous CIA agents who murder their fellow agents. Now she’s a pouty mess in the hallway who apparently doesn’t care how she just made herself look to her boss, her boss’s boss, and her dad’s boss.

Jack tells her she “can’t lose control” over this, but of course he means “shouldn’t,” because she totally can and she will. In fact, she will go home and tear up old pictures of her mom and toss them into the fire while pouting the poutiest pout that ever was pouted.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 7.34.10 PM

Hey, get me, remembering to grab some screenshots so I don’t just keep saying things like “and then Sydney makes a face” and leaving you to imagine it for yourselves.

Sydney meets with Vaughn in whatever that chain link fence room is they always go to so they can talk about how her mom killed his dad and stuff. She cries, because of course she does, and he has his usual, “Are we sleeping together yet? Am I listening to her? God, is she crying again? What the hell is with all the crying?” face on. Then they share the world’s most awkward hug.

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 7.49.02 PM

“God, I hope she doesn’t cry this much during sex.” –Vaughn, who apparently learned nothing about proper hugging in spy school. “Just slap your hand against the back of her head, and manage to look like you’re not actually touching her in any way” is NOT a valid hug technique, buddy!

Sydney decides she’s going to quit SD-6, because everything’s a lie or something. She also wants to go out with Vaughn once she quits so that he can be the one “real” thing she has in her life. Now, this is everything Vaughn’s been pining for, and Sydney’s ready to just hand it to him, so of course he decides he wants the opposite and tells her she can’t quit. Jesus Christ, these two. I swear. He does rightly point out that Sloane will kill her if she quits and doesn’t go into witness protection, so points to Vaughn on that one, because Sydney just…doesn’t think he will. Sure, he killed her fiancé a few short months ago and then tried to have her killed when she tried to quit over that, but he’s been so sweet lately, so he’ll probably be totally cool with her quitting this time.

Anyway. Over at the fake bank, a Mystery Van has arrived, and hiding inside is Quentin Tarantino’s desperate need to inflict his “acting” on audiences and say “behbeh” a lot. Like, a LOT a lot. Shit’s about to get grating as hell around this place, folks. You may want to go pour yourself a drink.

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 10_Fotor

“Punch the ceiling. Knee yourself in the chin. Never blink.” — The QT approach to “believable” running.

Will is having a minor crisis because everyone he talks to gets mad at him for being such an intrusive ass. He’s decided that, since so many people – like, 90 of them by this point – have told him to back the fuck off the Danny/Eloise Kurtz/SD-6 story, maybe he really should. It seriously takes Sydney getting mad at him, Francie getting mad at him, his (female) boss getting mad at him, Eloise Kurtz getting mad at him and then ending up dead because of him, the secret voice on the other end of the brooch communicator terrifying him, and the guy from thirtysomething getting mad at him for potentially putting his daughter in grave danger before Will thinks maybe he’s dealing with something dangerous and should back off. Considering he got into this whole thing thinking he was doing something to help Sydney, Sydney telling him to leave it alone should have been enough. But, no, it takes until Will sees how his actions might negatively affect a man before he realizes things might be getting out of hand.

Sydney storms into SD-6 ready to quit. On her way in, she passes the van and the driver QT left behind to keep watch. He tells her to smile and she gives him such hate face as I couldn’t even capture in a screenshot. As soon as she has her back to him, he points a gun at her head. And I can’t think of anything that’s happened on this show so far that was this realistic.

Jack shows up to talk Sydney out of quitting SD-6, pointing out quite reasonably that even if Sloane let Sydney go without a fight, Sloane is not the top of the organization, so the first thing Sloane’s bosses would do is kill Francie and Will. Again, I say bring it on, but Sydney is really invested in keeping her friends alive for some reason.

In the end, she never gets her chance to quit, because QT has taken over the SD-6 offices and Sloane has initiated emergency lockdown procedures. Sydney and Jack are stuck in the elevator while QT gasses everyone else in the building. I guess the ventilation system in the elevators is completely separate? Because Sydney and Jack stay conscious. Conscious but on their way to the main floor due to the emergency protocol elevator override something or other. They crawl out through the roof and climb down the elevator shaft because they know when the elevator doors open someone will be waiting there to kill them. I don’t believe they needed to worry about this, myself, because this is the guy that was waiting for them:

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 11.00.54 AM

If someone could explain this hair to me, please?

I just don’t buy that guy as someone who could take down either Jack or Sydney, let alone the 2 together. (Although, by the end of this arc, we will see QT knock out Sydney while droning on about how “kickboxehz” can’t take a punch, so the vast unbelievability of these episodes probably can’t be overstated and shouldn’t surprise me anymore.)

While Sydney and Jack are crawling around in the SD-6 ductwork, over at the CIA, Vaughn’s taking a moment to deal with the truth about his father’s murder. Don’t worry, though, we’re not going to waste too much time letting one of our main characters feel sad and conflicted over one of the defining facts of his life; that’s mostly Sydney’s deal and the writers know it, so no one else ever really gets much screen time for their inner turmoil. Weiss tries to cheer Vaughn up, and this is when I realize Greg Grunberg should have played Vaughn, because he can act more just by walking through a door than Michael Vartan can mourning the loss of his father.

Then Joey Slotnick shows up as basically Minimoose. We’ve never seen him before but Weiss and Vaughn totally hate him and he seems to have it in for Vaughn for no obvious reason. He’s reported Vaughn for his inappropriate feelings for Sydney, so Vaughn has to see the CIA therapist. I guess this is supposed to make him evil, and everyone certainly plays it that way, but Vaughn actually is way more emotionally attached to Sydney than is appropriate for (a) an agent whose case he handles and (b) someone he’s known for, like, 3 months max. Also he just found out her mother killed his father, which at the very least is going to be awkward to explain to the grandkids, so maybe therapy would actually be a good idea for Vaughn? But when you get Joey Slotnick you’re basically signaling to the audience they should hate him, so hate him we shall.

Back at SD-6, Jack and Sydney are tapping into the closed circuit cameras and sneaking around gathering up Marshall’s spare spy tech and such. QT has tied up all the SD-6 employees and is just speechifying all over the place. We learn that he works for someone called “The Man” now. He used to be a lowly little SD-6 operative, but his last mission went wrong and Sloane essentially left him for dead. When he was captured and tortured he claimed to be a CIA agent but the CIA said they’d never heard of him. So he was tortured some more. He’s a little miffed about all this and so he’s come to drink champagne and spew outdated slang all over Sloane while the rest of his team does some actual work and steals a Rambaldi artifact from the SD-6 vault.

While QT is distracted by his love for the sound of his own voice, Jack uses one of the CCTV cameras to tap out Morse code instructions to Marshall and Dixon, who are the only 2 people at SD-6 with a tendency to sometimes seem actually too smart to have been tricked into working at SD-6. Marshall tries to provide a distraction but it goes badly. Jack ends up having to reveal himself so Sydney can keep crawling around in the ductwork. Dixon tells Jack he wants to contact the CIA and Jack can’t quite come up with a good enough explanation of why that’s a terrible fucking plan, so Dixon does it.

Vaughn, Weiss and Minimoose review Dixon’s message and Vaughn immediately decides it’s true and Sydney’s in trouble and he’s gotta break, like, so many rules to get over there and check it out. He goes to the Credit Dauphine parking garage, where his first order of business is to shoot the “smile” guy in the [dick? do my notes actually say he shoots him in the dick? was that wishful thinking on my part or did it really go down like that?]. He then contacts Minimoose to let him know that Dixon was telling the truth, and Minimoose fulfills his purpose as guy-who-is-on-the-show-so-he-can-be-mean-and-we-can-hate-him by doing fuck all about it.

(Here, my notes utterly fail me. I think the rest of this is correct, but feel free to steer my straight in comments if it’s not.)

Sydney and Vaughn meet up, find all the bombs and defuse them. They meet up with QT’s girlfriend along the way and it turns out she’s a double-agent who apparently drew the short straw on Somebody Here Has to Sleep With Tarantino to Get Closer to The Man day.

Sydney turns herself in to QT to keep him from shooting people. He tells a big story about how he asked her out once and she was too cool for him, then he makes her drink champagne from the same bottle he drank from as some sort of you-made-a-huge-mistake-behbeh revenge thing and I become convinced that J J Abrams let him write his own part for this because everything about it is so out of step with the rest of the show.

QT tortures Sloane for information. It doesn’t work, because Sloane is a fucking badass.

QT’s team is about to break into the vault and there’s a fight scene where we’re supposed to believe he’s tougher than Sydney, who we saw take a guy twice his size back in episode 4.

Jack gets to Sloane and Sloane explains that he gave QT the wrong vault codes and that as soon as his team breaks in the whole place is going to blow up. The only way to override the code is with Sloane’s finger print but he’s stuck in the torture chair, so Jack has to take his finger print. Seriously. Sloane’s all, “Take it, Jack. Take. my. finger. print.” and then Jack just straight-up grabs some, like, bolt cutters or some shit and cuts Sloane’s finger off and carries it back to his office and saves the day with it.

Anyway. Let’s see how I felt about this one, won’t we?

Yay-Boo Analysis

Yay!

Boo!

Jack explains to Sydney that his marriage to Sydney’s mother was basically her mother’s KGB assignment. Nothing her mother claimed she felt at the time was real. “Including wanting to have a family?” asks Sydney, all pouty still. And I want to be, like, “Hey, Sydney, plenty of us weren’t wanted, and you know what we do? We fuckin’ deal.

And I know, I know, that this is more about my own personal feelings and I suppose it really is jarring for someone who always assumed they were a wanted baby to realize the opposite. But whatever. I have also run out of fucks to give on this subject for lots of reasons that have nothing to do with this blog, so Boo it is.

SD-6 has facial recognition software scanning everyone in the building constantly, but Jack is able to bypass bugs to talk openly with Sydney just using his spy pen? That seems like a gap in SD-6’s technological capabilities to me.

Why is Sydney’s spy shit always makeup?

the tiny little fuck yeah Vaughn moment where he defends giving Sydney a Christmas present

QT’s “behbeh” is another example of a not-white spy who does sexy stuff to get her spying done. Meanwhile, in this episode we see that even when all her friends are under attack the show won’t let Sydney flat-out kill anyone, only put them on a path that leads to someone else killing them.

I can’t be the first person to have difficulty taking you seriously, can I?” This is the episode where we really start to see what a fucking badass Sloane is.

Do we ever see QT blink? Like, does it happen even once?

J J Abrams entire musical style consists of just speeding up or slowing down that one sample off his old Casio.

retroactive Boo!: Mythbusters has taught us that C4 is just not as terrifyingly sensitive as all that. Sydney and Vaughn could have lit it on fire and made s’mores to fortify themselves before defusing the bombs and everything would have been fine.

QT has a bad-ass hot chick spy of a girlfriend but acts all surprised that a girl was trying to sabotage his plans the whole time?

Will goes on and on at Francie about all the trouble his inexcusable nosiness is getting him into, and Francie laughs at him! Three times! Francie is sort of alright, for the moment.

I’m not scared of you.” “Well, you should start being scared of me.”

Fuck yeah Sloane! totally breaking QT

But fucking seriously! it pushes QT to murder his girlfriend

Hands-tied-behind-backs kicky fights!

Sloane’s finger!

We’re supposed to believe QT can fight?

WHY DOES HE TALK LIKE THAT THO

Total These Episodes: 7 Yays & 11 Boos

Total So Far: 48 Yays & 56 Boos

That Game Should NOT Be Played Without My Supervision: Romantic Comedies for People Who Hate Them

I like romantic comedies. I kind of totally love them, in fact. But I get that they’re not for everyone. All that meet cute, easily cleared up misunderstandings that no one bothers to clear up, manufactured tension, breaking up only to get back together at the last minute stuff can get a bit cloying. And a lot of them don’t really have the best things to say about the nature of monogamous heterosexual relationships. (Let’s save the underrepresentation of non-monogamous and/or non-heterosexual relationships for another post.) Lots of shrill, controlling women and clueless man-children, except in the ones that are populated with moony women desperate for marriage and the emotionally manipulative men who like to toy with them for a few hours before admitting, oh, yeah, I totally love you and stuff.

So, why do I like them? I like seeing characters connect, find someone who gets them. I like watching actors who have good chemistry fall in love on screen. I like neat, tidy endings and I really like love stories but I don’t like being made sad when it all ends tragically. I also agree with what Roger Ebert said in his review of Norman Jewison’s 1994 romantic comedy, Only You: “There is a fine line between the Idiot Plot, so called because the characters act in defiance of common sense, and what we might call, in deference to Jewison’s 1987 hit, the Moonstruck Plot – in which the characters also act in defiance of common sense, but we don’t mind because it’s fun.” I watch romantic comedies to have a little fun. I like watching the work of people who really know what they’re doing and I’m always intrigued when I end up loving a movie despite the absurdities of its plot.

Another thing I like is sharing the things I enjoy with the people whose company I enjoy and trying to make it all happen in a way that they will enjoy. So, every so often I embark on a quest to introduce someone who does not like romantic comedies to the reasons why I love them. I’m not trying to change their minds, exactly, or—well, OK, I guess I am trying to change their minds, technically, but I’m not trying to force them to like something they hate just to please me. I only do it if I really think there are romantic comedies out there they would like. I want to see their perspective on the things I’m really into and if in the process I get them sort of into it in some way as well, then yay for me and my excellent taste.

I am just about to embark on a new quest. In preparation, I’ve dusted off my old Intro to Romantic Comedy curriculum and I’m making some adjustments. It’s been years since I took someone new through the program and I’ve seen some really good movies since then which I think deserve a place on the schedule. I’m taking the opportunity to watch some new ones, too, and to re-watch some old ones to make sure they still hold up. I like to tailor the order and/or exact movies for each person. For example, this person does not want to watch Meg Ryan fall in love. That’s fine by me, as I think most of her biggest romantic comedies are about terrible people acting in horrible ways and we should not be happy at the end of them, but it does mean finding a suitable replacement for When Harry Met Sally… in the iconic/classic/not necessarily about terrible people being horrible to each other/has some really snappy dialogue category.

The order and the movies can change as needed, but I do have an opinion on the correct order of types of movies for maximum not-hating to occur. I think it’s important to start with a movie that is not a romantic comedy. There is a difference, to me, between a romantic comedy and a comedy with a love story in it. Let’s use Hugh Grant as an example because, come on, we’re talking about romantic comedies here. Notting Hill is a romantic comedy. The entire movie is about William and Anna and how they feel and whether they will get together. Music & Lyrics is a comedy with a love story in it. The entire movie is about Alex’s attempt at a comeback and the fact that he and Sophie end up a couple is incidental. However, the relationships in comedies with love stories in them tend to follow a very similar path to the relationships in romantic comedies and there tend to be a lot of common elements between the 2 subgenres, so I think a comedy-with-love-story acts as a good first, maybe even tentative, step on the road to watching a full-blown romantic comedy.

Within the true romantic comedy category, where everything is about the couple and the will they/won’t they stuff – the stuff that gets tedious if you’re not feeling it – I like to pick out some examples with great supporting casts. If the characters surrounding the main couple are funny enough and have enough going on, then you can sort of ignore the love story that the whole movie’s supposed to be about if you want. Notting Hill again serves as a good example. Anna’s kind of an asshole and William’s kind of a sap. I’m happy when they finally get together and all, but I’d probably enjoy hanging out with William’s friends more than with William and Anna themselves.

Finally, if we’re going to explore lands beyond these ones, I like to make sure there’s some serious good chemistry between the leads because otherwise there might not be enough to distract you from the general silliness and/or offensive elements of the plot. We’ll get more into this when we talk about Only You.

With all of this in mind, I’m setting up a list of movies I want to show my friend and discuss with her. I’m also putting together a little trading-card style preview of stats on each movie so she can see what’s in store (and exercise her veto power if she’d like). Here’s what I’m looking for in each movie:

  • Is it a romantic comedy or comedy w/a love story?
  • Does it pass the Bechdel Test?
  • The number & type of problematic scenes, characters, and/or dialogue.
  • Does the movie present stalking as romance or otherwise normalize dangerous and abusive behaviors within romantic relationships?
  • Does the plot take an hour to deal with something that could be solved via a single, candid conversation?
  • Are there straight girls hating on each other because the writers couldn’t think of anything better?
  • Is jealousy presented as a legitimate rule when neither party has consented to any sort of terms of commitment?
  • Does Meg Ryan fall in love?
  • Are there unpleasant associations to be made with the real lives of those involved in the film?

I’m really looking forward to this quest and I’ll be writing more about it here as we go. There will likely be Strong Opinions flying everywhere. You will probably get several paragraphs on my Theory of the Relative Boringness of Laura Linney and Kristen Scott Thomas. Also my belief that we should elect Richard Curtis President of Romantic Comedies or at least consider not letting anyone else make them without his supervision. So, check back soon, because shit is about to get romantic as fuck around here.