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DID YOU READ

The empire in decline.

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Jon Stewart may have designated this year’s Oscar ceremony the post-strike “make-up sex,” but it was more like a wistful catch-up drink with your ex in which you’re both so busy bringing up the old times that neither of you actually manages to get around to finding out how the other is doing in the present. From the opening montage of action movie moments and superstars to the never-ending bombardment of montages of past presenters, past acceptance speeches, past musical numbers (including an apparently nostalgic wink at the infamous 1989 Rob Lowe/Snow White debacle), past winning films and everything short of a montage of best death montage milestone, this year’s backward-glancing awards were more concerned with the way we were than the way we are. Case in point: After giving the much-deserved win for Original Song to “Once,” a real heartwrencher of a competition with the number from the scrappy $100,000 movie pulling out in front of three entries from 18-time nominee Alan Menken, the PTB cut the latter half of the singer/songwriter team, Markéta Irglová, off before she could say a word in favor of more taped reminiscences from more famous former winners who were presumably given the chance to get in at least a few sentences before getting played off the stage. Host Stewart had to retrieve Irglová after the commercial break to give her a moment to deliver her impassioned thank you speech.

It’s not such a surprise that the Oscars have become a misty remembrance of times past — 2007 was a year of great movies that audiences mostly passed up in favor of threequels that, “Bourne Ultimatum” aside, no one could laud. Marion Cotillard may have done a hell of an Edith Piaf impersonation in “La Vie en Rose,” but you could feel the award show producers all but drumming their nails when she won — if the film’s $10 million box office take, pretty good for an indie French film, were any indication, most of the viewing audience had no idea who she was. “Oh, for the days of ‘Hello, gorgeous!'” you could hear them sighing as they cut, again, to tape. “What the fuck will happen to the ratings?”

For me, the strangest part of the whole ceremony was finding myself, for the first time in memory, in total agreement with the Academy — “No Country for Old Men” was the best motion picture of the year and a brilliant encapsulation of our national mindset. But that’s not what the Oscars are all about, right? Or if it is, and this inexorable creep toward Indiewood and the international continues, then maybe it’s about time the Academy embrace that, rather than stiltedly ignoring the fact in favor of how things used to be.

Bits and pieces worth remembering:

Josh Brolin apologizing to Jack Nicholson for the poor quality of his Nicholson impression.

Stewart suggesting that rather than canceling their Oscar party out of respect for the writers, Vanity Fair could actually invite some next time.

Javier Bardem taking a bow after his acceptance speech — everyone should make their exits so gallantly.

That photo of “Roderick Jaynes.”

A glowing Daniel Day-Lewis thanking the Academy “for whacking me with the handsomest bludgeon in town.”

Tilda Swinton! She seemed as surprised as anyone to win, but if you didn’t prepare a speech, dedicating much of your time to making fun of George Clooney is an excellent way to cover. To relive: “George Clooney, you know, the seriousness and the dedication to your art, seeing you climb into that rubber bat suit from ‘Batman & Robin,’ the one with the nipples, every morning under your costume, on the set, off the set, hanging upside-down at lunch, you rock, man.” Seriously.

[Photo: Ethan Coen: “Thank you very much” — Darren Decker / ©A.M.P.A.S.]

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.