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Awards season, the ultimate in existential challenges.

Awards season, the ultimate in existential challenges. (photo)

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For the next three months, many film sites will be sucked into the awards-season horse-races, spewing thousands of words that’ll date and curdle quicker than last year’s “Daily Show.”

There are, in fact, whole careers built around the prognostication of the irrelevant. Over at the New York Times, David Carr’s passed the baton of four years’ worth of “The Carpetbagger” Oscar commentary to Melena Ryzik in video form, which makes for amusing yet grim viewing.

It begins with Carr — his gloriously demolished voice his secret weapon — glowering in his Times cubicle and receiving an editorial voice-mail informing him it’s time to put on his “big boy pants.” Carr glances at his calendar, where a skull-and-crossbones mark the start of awards season and an ominous score come way out of some left-field horror movie. He has flashbacks to indifferent interviewees on the street and red-carpet chaos; he winces in pain.

Then the kind of malicious smile Wile E. Coyote used to get spreads across his face. “Hey Melena!” he yells across the room. “You like movies, right? Have I got a gig for you. Low pay, long hours, you get to spend time with movie stars who could care less about you […] and an audience in the hundreds, OK, dozens. You can be the famous New York Times Carpetbagger.” Then he trains her to fight it out on the red carpet.

It’s a joke, but it’s not a very funny one because it’s a little too close to home. Much like Jason Jones’ hilarious but painful visit to the Times this summer, a lot of the laughs are centered around how the paper is both out-of-date (Carr hands Ryzik his Rolodex rather than just sending her his e-mail contacts) and not nearly as important as it once was (their spot on Carr’s practice red carpet pales next to Variety‘s).

12022009_melena.jpgThe jokes about traffic counts are exaggerated but recognizable (see also this Onion article, which reads like it could be fact). For anyone concerned for the future of the Times (which should be, like, all of you), this mordantly self-mocking video’s first half is more like a funeral bell than a joybuzzer.

There’s something else here, though: a grim, resigned sense that we must confront the awards season head-on and remain immersed in it for a quarter of the year, no matter why or who cares. Ryzik seems like a good sport and does her Times Square interviews while remaining admirably friendly and composed, but it’s hard not to sympathize with the bald, mustachioed man who says he couldn’t care less and has to ask his wife if they saw any good movies this year. (“‘The Inglourious Basterds’? Something like that?”)

It’s like basic existentialism: in the face of meaningless and ultimately pointless life, we persevere, conducting ourselves the best we can, ultimately to die and be forgotten. Much like awards-season coverage. Godspeed, Melena Ryzik.

[Photo: From yesterday’s “Carpetbagger” video, the New York Times, 2009]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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