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What to watch on IFC: “The Lives Of Others”

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Sometimes there is no justice at all in the Academy Awards. Like that time Beyonce didn’t win and Kanye West rudely interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to brag on his friend. Oh, wait. Rather, there’s no justice in the Academy Awards show like that time that “Napoleon Dynamite” didn’t win Best Picture or that other time when they let James Franco host the awards show and how Jason Statham has never won any acting awards even though he is clearly the hardest working man in Hollywood. Sometimes, though, justice is done and the right award lands in the right hands, for example back in 2007 when “The Lives of Others,” ironically a film about a world with no justice, won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

The darkly moving film marked the debut of German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. Set in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1984, the film follows secret Stasi officer Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler who is assigned by his superior, Anton Grubitz, to spy on a successful playwright Georg Dreyman. Dreyman isn’t wanted by the authorities for his work, which is actually staunchly pro-Communist, but because the Party’s Minister of Culture, Bruno Hempf, is madly in lust with Dreyman’s actress girlfriend and is using his position in the Community Party to rid himself of a romantic rival. Wiesler is horrified by the abuse of power, especially when he realizes through his surveillance, that Dreyman and his girlfriend are deeply in love. So Weisler silently does what he can to help the couple and what happens makes for a deeply powerful film.

Watch the trailer for “The Lives of the Others” and then be sure to tune in today at 8:30 a.m ET:

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The Lives of Others” airs on IFC today at 8:30 a.m. ET/7:30 a.m. CT;

Soap tv show

As the Spoof Turns

15 Hilarious Soap Opera Parodies

Catch the classic sitcom Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures Television

The soap opera is the indestructible core of television fandom. We celebrate modern series like The Wire and Breaking Bad with their ongoing storylines, but soap operas have been tangling more plot threads than a quilt for decades. Which is why pop culture enjoys parodying them so much.

Check out some of the funniest soap opera parodies below, and be sure to catch Soap Saturday mornings on IFC.

1. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was a cult hit soap parody from the mind of Norman Lear that poked daily fun at the genre with epic twists and WTF moments. The first season culminated in a perfect satire of ratings stunts, with Mary being both confined to a psychiatric facility and chosen to be part of a Nielsen ratings family.


2. IKEA Heights

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IKEA Heights proves that the soap opera is alive and well, even if it has to be filmed undercover at a ready-to-assemble furniture store totally unaware of what’s happening. This unique webseries brought the classic formula to a new medium. Even IKEA saw the funny side — but has asked that future filmmakers apply through proper channels.


3. Fresno

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When you’re parodying ’80s nighttime soaps like Dallas and Dynasty , everything about your show has to equally sumptuous. The 1986 CBS miniseries Fresno delivered with a high-powered cast (Carol Burnett, Teri Garr and more in haute couture clothes!) locked in the struggle for the survival of a raisin cartel.


4. Soap

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Soap was the nighttime response to daytime soap operas: a primetime skewering of everything both silly and satisfying about the source material. Plots including demonic possession and alien abduction made it a cult favorite, and necessitated the first televised “viewer discretion” disclaimer. It also broke ground for featuring one of the first gay characters on television in the form of Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas. Revisit (or discover for the first time) this classic sitcom every Saturday morning on IFC.


5. Too Many Cooks

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Possibly the most perfect viral video ever made, Too Many Cooks distilled almost every style of television in a single intro sequence. The soap opera elements are maybe the most hilarious, with more characters and sudden shocking twists in an intro than most TV scribes manage in an entire season.


6. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

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Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was more mockery than any one medium could handle. The endless complications of Darkplace Hospital are presented as an ongoing horror soap opera with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from writer, director, star, and self-described “dreamweaver visionary” Garth Marenghi and astoundingly incompetent actor/producer Dean Learner.


7. “Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive,” MadTV

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Soap opera connoisseurs know that the most melodramatic plots are found in Korea. MADtv‘s parody Tae Do  (translation: Attitudes and Feelings, Both Desirable and Sometimes Secretive) features the struggles of mild-mannered characters with far more feelings than their souls, or subtitles, could ever cope with.


8. Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks, the twisted parody of small town soaps like Peyton Place whose own creator repeatedly insists is not a parody, has endured through pop culture since it changed television forever when it debuted in 1990. The show even had it’s own soap within in a soap called…


9. “Invitation to Love,” Twin Peaks

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Twin Peaks didn’t just parody soap operas — it parodied itself parodying soap operas with the in-universe show Invitation to Love. That’s more layers of deceit and drama than most televised love triangles.


10. “As The Stomach Turns,” The Carol Burnett Show

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The Carol Burnett Show poked fun at soaps with this enduring take on As The World Turns. In a case of life imitating art, one story involving demonic possession would go on to happen for “real” on Days of Our Lives.


11. Days of our Lives (Friends Edition)

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Still airing today, Days of Our Lives is one of the most famous soap operas of all time. They’re also excellent sports, as they allowed Friends star Joey Tribbiani to star as Dr Drake Ramoray, the only doctor to date his own stalker (while pretending to be his own evil twin). And then return after a brain-transplant.

And let’s not forget the greatest soap opera parody line ever written: “Come on Joey, you’re going up against a guy who survived his own cremation!”


12. Acorn Antiques

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First appearing on the BBC sketch comedy series Victoria Wood As Seen on TV, Acorn Antiques combines almost every low-budget soap opera trope into one amazing whole. The staff of a small town antique store suffer a disproportional number of amnesiac love-triangles, while entire storylines suddenly appear and disappear without warning or resolution. Acorn Antiques was so popular, it went on to become a hit West End musical.


13. “Point Place,” That 70s Show

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In a memorable That ’70s Show episode, an unemployed Red is reduced to watching soaps all day. He becomes obsessed despite the usual Red common-sense objections (like complaining that it’s impossible to fall in love with someone in a coma). His dreams render his own life as Point Place, a melodramatic nightmare where Kitty leaves him because he’s unemployed. (Click here to see all airings of That ’70s Show on IFC.)


14. The Spoils of Babylon

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Bursting from the minds of Will Ferrell and creators Andrew Steele and Matt Piedmont, The Spoils of Babylon was a spectacular parody of soap operas and epic mini-series like The Thorn Birds. Taking the parody even further, Ferrell himself played Eric Jonrosh, the author of the book on which the series was based. Jonrosh returned in The Spoils Before Dying, a jazzy murder mystery with its own share of soapy twists and turns.

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15. All My Children Finale, SNL

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SNL‘s final celebration of one of the biggest soaps of all time is interrupted by a relentless series of revelations from stage managers, lighting designers, make-up artists, and more. All of whom seem to have been married to or murdered by (or both) each other.

Watch the season two premiere of Whisker Wars

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Beards are back! On Friday we kicked off an all new season of Thom Beers’ beard-based drama Whisker Wars. The bearding season kicks off with competitors from across the country going beard -to-beard in the Ohio Championships. The event draws circuit heavyweights from across the country, including Aarne Beilefeldt, Myk O’Connor and the Austin Facial Hair Club. Noticeably absent from the contest is former World Champion Jack Passion, who is still reeling from the loss of his title. As Passion has lost his passion for competitive bearding, he contemplates the unthinkable: abandoning his beard career.

Did you miss the action? Don’t worry, you can watch the entire episode in our new site, The Stream Room. Head on over and catch up on the new season of Whisker Wars before a new episode airs Friday at 10/9c.

In this clip from the first episode of the new season of Whisker Wars, we see Jack Passion on the brink of doing something drastic. Watch and see for yourself as Jack toys with shaving off his beloved beard, Big Red:

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Want the latest news from Whisker Wars? Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter@whiskerwars and use the hashtag #whiskerwars.

Whisker Wars airs to IFC on Fridays at 10 pm ET/PT.

Watch Chapter 24 of R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet

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R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet is back! Last Friday we rolled our turkey stuffed stomachs over the to television set to watch the triumphant return of R. Kelly’s intense, complex, Beretta swinging hip hopera right here on IFC. Now, for your repeat viewing pleasure, each day this week and next we are unrolling a new chapter of Trapped in the Closet on this very website, starting today with Chapter 24. Need to catch up on all the adventures of Sylvester, Twan, Cathy, Rufus, Brigid, and Pimp Lucius? Head here where Chapters 1-23 live online.)

In Chapter 24, we find Twan and Sylvester in a barbershop discussing the mysterious phone calls that they both received.

Sylvester is a little suspicious, but Twan just wants to get paid. Although, no one wants to get paid as much as Pimp Lucius does, especially when he suspects one of his women is stealing from him.

Sylvester isn’t interested in having a highschool class reunion with Pimp Lucius. And when Twan and Pimp Lucius comes to words, things get a little wacky.

Watch Chapter 24 now and be sure to come back tomorrow for the next installment of Trapped in the Closet:

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