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“I always knew that saying the unsayable was going to be a powerful thing.”—Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Jennifer Lopez’s Trailblazing Timelessness
We call it Fashion Week, but the fashion schedules of the four big cities alone take up literally one-sixth of the year (more when you count the men’s shows and couture). That being said, another Milan Fashion Week has come and gone, and the highlight (in terms of spectacle, at least) was Jennifer Lopez shocking the front row set by closing out the Versace show in a new spin on her famous dress from the 2000 Grammys, with a nod to the rumor that the dress’s protovirality supposedly inspired the creation of Google Image Search (Donatella herself, however, says the moment was not sponsored by the tech giant). The most talked about moment at the Gucci show, however, was unplanned, though if not a bit unclear. The creative director, Alessandro Michele, riffed on straightjackets for one portion of the show (he said they won't be sold in-store), which led the model Ayesha Tan-Jones to protest by writing “mental health is not fashion” on their hands. Gucci, however, was hoping to make a statement of another kind by declaring its show to be officially carbon neutral (as for what that means, click here). Moschino, meanwhile, put on a delightfully campy show by turning some of Pablo Picasso’s most famed art into wearable garments (though we guess that designer Jeremy Scott didn’t watch Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette), and Kaia Gerber, Joan Smalls, and the Hadids teamed up for an all-star finale at Max Mara, while Bottega Veneta continued its cool-girl resurgence under designer Daniel Lee. Plus everyone from a recently freed A$AP Rocky to Nicole Kidman were spotted in front rows throughout the week, and, as per usual, the Milanese brought out their statement-making street style best.
The 2019 Emmys marked the last stop for two of HBO’s biggest hits over the past decade, but in the grand scheme of things, Emmy voters paid them dust. Game of Thrones came into the ceremony with a leading 14 nominations, and while it scored the big Best Drama prize, its only other win was for Peter Dinklage (in something of a shock, Jason Bateman won for directing an episode of Ozark over all those people who helmed big Game battle episodes). Veep, meanwhile, got completely shut out. These shows are not historically Emmys losers, so no tears here, but that did pave the way for Phoebe Waller-Bridge to emerge as the night’s big winner. The second season of her show Fleabag was the most awarded program, with four Emmys, including two for Waller-Bridge’s acting and writing and another for Best Comedy. Jodie Comer also had a surprise (but decidedly not unwarranted) win in the Drama Actress category for Killing Eve, which PWB also created. Waller-Bridge’s programs were originally commissioned by the BBC, but Fleabag streamed on Amazon Prime on our side of the ocean. Amazon almost instantly thanked Waller-Bridge by signing her to an exclusive contract worth as much as $20 million a year (though it won’t interfere with another upcoming program, Run, which she’s producing for HBO). Unfortunately, that deal does not guarantee what the Internet now considered its dream project: In an amusing segment, Waller-Bridge presented alongside Bill Hader, causing Twitter to demand the pair immediately star in a rom-com.
The Network’s Attempts to Stay Relevant
Ryan Murphy's Substance
With the Emmys in the rearview mirror, broadcast television is getting the fall season started in earnest with everything from your NCISes to your This Is Uses kicking off new seasons this week. You probably already know which returning series you’re at least semi-excited for, and we won’t even judge you if it happens to be one of those NCISes. Of course, with those returns come a crop of new series, many of which find the networks attempting to up their game in the age of prestige TV while still meeting the demands of their traditional format and business model. Some, like Fox’s Prodigal Son (which stars Michael Sheen as a serial killer with a son who happens to be a criminal psychologist) are getting particularly nailed for so plainly attempting to compete with Netflix while falling flat. NBC’s Jimmy Smits-starring Bluff City Law attempts to put a spin on the traditional network legal drama, but has also fallen flat with critics. Others show promise, like ABC’s Stumptown, which finds the sitcom vet Cobie Smulders as an Army vet antihero who solves crimes. CBS’s Evil, from the creators of The Good Wife, puts an almost X-Files-ish spin on the science vs. religion debate with a team of investigators (including a hot priest, of course). Meanwhile, reviews for the network’s new sitcoms all seem to be stuck in the category of a mediocre meh, but we shouldn’t be too surprised. Comedies always take a little longer to settle into their proper rhythms.
Despite this being the traditional networks’ big week, Netflix is still making a play with the first series to come out of its megadeal with the superproducer Ryan Murphy, and boy is it a statement. The Politician pairs the Tony winner Ben Platt with two Oscar winners, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Lange, as well as two of the hottest up-and-coming young actresses in this business, Zoey Deutch and Bohemian Rhapsody's Lucy Boynton, for an anthology series that’s supposed to riff on the political ambitions of a bright young kid, one election at a time. The first season, of course, centers on a race for high school class president but falls prey to some of Murphy’s weaknesses: prizing surface and meme-able moments over deeper substance. Ironically, the same could be said for Amazon’s surprising choice to wrap up Transparent this weekend with a musical special, of all things.
While the Emmys (rudely) didn’t recognize it, D’Arcy Carden has been given one of the best comedic performances on television as the not-quite-robot Janet on The Good Place, and she tells us that she expects the show’s fourth season to wrap up perfectly.