Big Love (1/21)

EW Description: “We agreed with star Chloe Sevigny that last season was lackluster. But the fifth and final season of the HBO drama is poised to deliver, with a welcome refocus on the extended Henrickson clan as they embark on life as a political family — and open polygamists.”

First of all, an explanation. School has overtaken my life and it’s made it very difficult to update this on a regular basis. I’m aware the series finale for Big Love aired over a week ago, but I had to wait until I went home for spring break to catch up on the last few episodes. I don’t have HBO when I’m at school, so I had to mooch off OnDemand at my parents’ house.

Big Love has definitely had its ups and downs over the years. Everything about season 4 was pretty much a disappointment, so I was skeptical about the final season. My favorite character (Sarah, played by the amazing Amanda Seyfried) was not returning and I was worried I wouldn’t care about any of the storylines. However, I became fascinated with Barb’s (Jeanne Tripplehorn) storyline. What I loved about Sarah was her constant struggle with her religion. That’s something I really relate to and when Barb started questioning her belief in her husband’s church, I was hooked.

Nikki (Chloe Sevigny) is probably tied with Bill (Bill Paxton) for my least favorite character, so I tended to tune out a lot of their storylines. I was very interested in Cara Lynn’s storyline and her affair with her teacher. It really showed the struggles she faced in moving from the compound to the “real” world. I found the parallels between Cara Lynn’s romance with her teacher and Nikki’s marriage to JJ really compelling.

As much as I love Ginnifer Goodwin, most of Margene’s storylines have been ridiculous and I never really cared about her business ventures. I connected with her desire to branch out and see the world, but I also feel like the writers didn’t always know what to do with Margene.

As for the decision to kill off Bill, I was absolutely thrilled. There were so many times when I just wanted to punch Bill in the face and I almost did a happy dance when he died. Plus, for me, the show has always been more about the journey of the sister wives. I always felt like Bill was holding them back and keeping them from achieving their true potential. This was never more evident than when Barb wanted to hold the priesthood and Bill said she would never be able to because she was a woman. Bill’s patriarchal values always pissed me off. To see how far the sister wives have come since the first season was just really astounding to me. Overall, I was really happy with the way everything wrapped up and I am going to miss seeing into the Henrickson’s life.


Top Chef All-Stars (12/10)

EW Description: “The culinary competition reunites cheftestants from the past seven seasons. This time around, the ambition is strong, the egos are stronger, and the insults from new judge Anthony Bourdain are just delicious.”

When the All-Star season first began, I was extremely excited. So many of my favorites were back and I was thrilled to see them again. I absolutely loved Jen when she was on in season 6, but her complete and total meltdown in the second episode led to her too-early departure. The first couple eliminations were completely shocking and I watched as several of my favorites left almost instantly. Some of my old favorites disappointed me (Jamie, who turned into a sullen brat since season 5) and some of the people I hated in their season became my new favorites (Season 1’s Tiffani did a complete 180 with her personality and became extremely likable).

Once we got to the middle of the season, I was a little bit irritated. A lot of the challenges seemed designed to instigate drama rather than showcase the talents of the chefs. For instance, the US Open Challenge was all about strategy and scheming. I don’t want to watch these chefs scheme to screw over the competition. I want to watch them strategize in order to develop the best dishes. I watch Top Chef for the food, not the drama. Maybe I’m in the minority.  Fortunately, the majority of the challenges have been extremely difficult and have stretched the chefs to their limits. I love when a challenge truly pulls one of the cheftestants outside of his or her comfort zone. It can lead to some of the most creative dishes I’ve ever seen and it absolutely fascinates me.

Now, we’re at the end of the season. The second of the three-part season finale airs next week. This season has been full of surprises. The final four are Mike Isabella (Season 6), Richard Blais (Season 4), Antonia (Season 4), and Tiffany Derry (Season 7). Basically, everyone expected Richard to be in the finale. I never would have expected Antonia to make it to the final five. I really liked her when she was on in season 4, but I didn’t think she was going to be the best of the best. She has absolutely astounded me this season. I definitely never expected Mike Isabella to make it to the finals. I thought he was an obnoxious jerk when he was on the first time. I still think that, but I believe in his talent more than I previously did.

My favorite, Season 5’s Carla Hall, sadly got eliminated in the first part of the finale. She was doing so well, but any sort of misstep gets you sent home in this group. Richard is definitely the frontrunner to win, but I have a feeling he’s going to choke just like he did the season 4 finale when he lost to Stephanie Izzard. Right now, I’m rooting for either Antonia or Tiffany to take it all. We’ve only had one female Top Chef and I’d love for the Top Chef All-Star winner to be a woman.

If you want to catch up on the season, Bravo airs all the episodes from the current season right before the new episode every Wednesday night. Basically, Bravo becomes the Top Chef network on Wednesdays.

Taylor Swift’s “Back to December” video (1/28)

EW Description: “The singer’s stark, lovely new spot from her smash album Speak Now finds her bereft on a bleak winter’s day, working through her melancholy over the love she let go.”

I said in an early review of Swift’s Speak Now album that this is one of the few songs on it that doesn’t make me want to claw out my eardrums. Well, now every time I turn on the radio, this song is playing. I’m starting to change my mind. I honestly have no clue why this video is a must-see because there is truly nothing special about it.

It’s a very run-of-the-mill, average music video. Maybe I’m spoiled by the epicness of Lady Gaga’s music videos, but this just doesn’t wow me. It’s basically just Swift looking sad, writing music, taking a bath, and wandering around in the snow. I mean, it’s not a bad video by any means, but it’s nowhere near as good as people might make it out to be.

I think that’s my biggest problem with Taylor Swift. I absolutely adored her when her debut album came out. I listened to it constantly and I still like to go back and listen to some songs on it. “Picture to Burn” is one of my favorite songs to yell along with when I’m really pissed off at the world. There is no denying that Swift has talent. She’s a very good songwriter. However, all of her songs tend to sound the same. “Back to December” is one of her more unique songs, which is why I didn’t instantly hate it. She is not the greatest thing to happen to pop music, though. I have great respect for her as a songwriter and a performer, but I can think of at least ten artists who are better songwriters and don’t get nearly the attention that Swift does.

If you really like Taylor Swift, you’ll like this video. If you’re kind of sick of her like I am, you’re not missing out on anything if you choose not to watch it. Trust me.