The Duchess of York on “The Young Victoria.”

The Duchess of York on “The Young Victoria.” (photo)

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Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, a famous toe-suckee, a one time confidante to Princess Diana, a Weight Watchers spokesperson, Britain’s traditional punching bag and, now, a movie producer — and she’s out on the circuit doing press for “The Young Victoria,” her first venture into film production.

Americans are suckers for British accents and aristocracy, so regardless of any accompanying infamy, it was inevitable the Duchess would show up and give good copy to promote the release, this Friday, of the year’s seemingly mandatory entry in the Boring Awards-Season Movie About British Royalty genre. (Last year, hilariously, it was literally “The Duchess” with Keira Knightley; two years before that, it was “The Queen.”)

And the Duchess has been getting softballed by everyone from New York‘s “46 Minutes” to New York Times ex-restaurant critic Frank Bruni. In every interview — all of which devote at least half of their length to discussing Fergie rather than the movie she’s ostensibly promoting — she alludes to being “misunderstood,” or how the British press was cruel to her, or so on. The American profiles tend to leave it at that, erring on the side of discretion.

When the film came out in the UK earlier this year, it seems Ferguson’s involvement was viewed as a demerit rather than an asset, and interviews with her were far less extensive. Hating the Duchess is a national UK pastime, perhaps exacerbated by her twin reality shows “The Duchess in Hull” and “The Duchess on the Estate,” in which she shows up and harangues, respectively, the obese and the poor, all while moaning about herself.

12152009_duchessinhull.jpg“Every single minute of the day I think I’m fat, ugly, disgusting, unworthy and nobody likes me. I’ve had 15 years of defamation of character,” she begins the former show by saying, before informing the fat family — who didn’t know who she was — “You’ve heard of the Queen of England, have you? The Queen was my mother-in-law.” And her obsession with her bad press seems only to be adding fuel to the fire, as when she showed up at her daughter’s college, working into her speech the tabloid poll tidbit that 82% of the nation would rather sleep with a goat than her.

But let no one say that she doesn’t understand her American audience. It’s highly unlikely that viewers will show up for “The Young Victoria” solely on the strength of a royal connection, no matter how much Ferguson claims spiritual kinship by explaining she wanted to make a movie about a woman who “fought for her marriage” like she should have done. Similarly, it’s impossible she raised $35 million on the strength of her tabloid background and the parallels.

But her unselfconscious sense of constantly reiterated hurt and willingness to discuss her peak of fame for an audience that hasn’t learned to hate her like they do at home is smart marketing for a movie that (c’mon) has little chance of making an American killing. Better yet, it allows her to martyr herself in a way that plays to the bathetic strengths of American celebrity journalism.

Regardless of how “The Young Victoria” does, this has to be the most satisfying press tour Ferguson’s done in years: a prestige-y movie to talk up and parallels to Queen Victoria. Never mind that the Victorian era is not generally considered a golden age these days. An icon is an icon.

[Photos: “The Young Victoria,” Apparition, 2009; “The Duchess in Hull,” from Ken McKay, ITV, 2008]


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


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


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.