DID YOU READ

Maggie Carey Talks Dirty About The To Do List

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For every movie about a guy’s quest to lose his virginity, there’s a girl’s story left untold — but The To Do List has that on the top of its list to remedy. Our heroine, Brandy Klark, played with much aplomb by Aubrey Plaza, is her graduating high school class’ valedictorian, but she has a singular goal to achieve before she starts college — and it’s to sleep with hot older guy about town Rusty Waters (played by Scott Porter). Since she’s a virgin, her plan is to get some experience under her belt first, so she makes a checklist of every sexual practice she’s ever heard of, with the goal to acquire skills she thinks it would be necessary to finally “graduate” in this arena.

“People said, ‘Aubrey’s too pretty. Guys would just sleep with her, no problem,'” the film’s writer/director Maggie Carey told IFC. “But she doesn’t want just any boy. She wants a hot college boy, and she has no way to wow him. She’s inarticulate in front of him.”

Brandy, however, is far from inarticulate in front of everybody else. She’s the quintessential high-achieving smart girl at school, who in any other movie or sitcom would be portrayed as a nerd, even if she’s a cute nerd. Think Carol Seavers on Growing Pains, Jesse on Saved by the Bell, Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Tracy Flick in Election, Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series. Some of these girls are referenced visually in the film, which takes place in 1993, since the costume designer actually tracked down wardrobe items from Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills, 90210. “When Rachel Bilson shows up at the pool with a great black and white print with the midriff showing, that was something Donna would have worn,” Carey said.

Although these girls did sometimes get the hot guy (or hot girl, in Willow’s case), they usually had some degree of romantic feeling about it. The ones who were a little more cynical about it — Stacy in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Ferris and Angel in Little Darlings — had to pay a price of sorts for their nonchalance.”One thing that was very important to me is that losing it wasn’t a bad thing,” Carey said. “I didn’t want Brandy to regret it. It didn’t happen as she thought it would, or the way she expected it would, but she was in control. The audience never had to be worried for her, so you’re not uncomfortable.”

Some of Brandy’s first experiences with making out, digital stimulation, and hand jobs are with her male study partner Cameron (played by Johnny Simmons). From his perspective, this constitutes a romance, but not in Brandy’s eyes.

“That was something that even when I was trying to get the movie financed, marketed, and tested, people kept calling it a romantic comedy,” Carey laughed. “But this is not romantic! This is a comedy comedy, not a romantic comedy. Don’t get me wrong. I love romantic comedies, but that’s not what this is. Brandy is stereotypically male, and Cameron is stereotypically female, because he’s sappy about it, and she’s more methodical, treating sex like she’s studying for a test.”

Hence her penchant for wanting to get the terminology right. A funny discussion between Brandy’s friends (played by Alia Shawkat and Sarah Steele) is a debate about what to call a particular sex act, pre-Internet when you couldn’t look up sex slang on Google. “It’s the one most people kept asking me about, when I sent out a draft of the script for feedback,” Carey said. “Fingerbang. One person said, ‘No, I think it’s called, ‘Fingerblasted.’ Another would write back, ‘I think it’s fingerbombed.’ So I turned that into the argument in the movie.” (The term that confused Carey most growing up? “Pearl necklace. No one was doing it, but people would make jokes about it, and you’d be like, ‘What is that? What? No thank you!'”)

During one of these feedback sessions, Michael Cera came up with an alternate title for the film — The Fuck-It List. “That was a pretty brilliant title,” Carey chuckled. “We actually were going to call the film The Hand Job at one point, and then once we started location scouting at schools, we realized we couldn’t keep it.”

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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.