8 - Tuesday, December 3, 2013
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
8 - Tuesday, December 3, 2013 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom ,.
"Holy sheet, this is good,"
between the sheets
New HBO beds.
The new documentary,
documentarylooks at "Americans in Bed," is 81 min-
utes of interviews, featuring 10
sexual partners couples of every sort imaginable.
The cast might be the most col-
By GRACE HAMILTON orful one on television: straight,
DailyArts Writer gay, lesbian, old, young, over-
weight, Muslim, Catholic, inno-
HBO has successfully bro- cent, cheaters, polygamists and
ken accepted boundaries again, probably everything in between.
pushing its You name it, someone else
nosy head B+ thought of it too, making sure
intothe realm not to exclude them from this
of extreme AlleMiCafS very candid and often charm-
privacy and n ing exploration of relationships.
the business "What are we looking for and
of others and, Availablefor how do we know when we've
in this case, streaming found it," as one spouse puts it,
finding its seems to capture the focus of the
way into their HBO film.
ALL IN ONE
SAnVN YOU MONEY AND TIME TO CReAM.
The audience is introduced to
each new couple as they climb
into bed, where the rest of the
interview takes place. The foot-
age bounces back and forth
between the 10 couples, each
contributing some version of
the story of how they met, the
nature of their sex lives, their
opinions on marriage and -
most importantly - revealing
the idiosyncrasies that make
their relationships unique.
Most sections of the inter-
view are in a single shot, and the
camera often lingers longer than
what feels appropriate. Given
the explicitness of content in
popular culture today, the audi-
ence should be accustomed to
these kinds of intimate displays.
That being said, the reaction of
listening to these couples talk
about their love for each other
is surprising: Even with all our
exposure to naked bodies, sex
on screen and the often power-
ful drama of fictional lives, the
camera and the audience often
Still, this discomfort only
further contributes to the raw-
ness of the film. It is personal
to the point that the viewing
experience almost mimics the
intimacy that we are watch-
ing take place. On top of that,
the film does not manipulate
its subjects or their words into
portraying a single message
or one revolutionary answer
to the meaning of love. It does
not seek to justify its purpose
as a creative work with such a
solution, choosing instead to
remain simple and straight-
forward. "Americans in Bed"
lets the audience be the judge
of such a purpose and the sub-
jects,who often contradict each
other, speak for themselves.
This is extremely refreshing.
The major takeaway from the
film is not particularly novel:
sex and love mean different
things for different relation-
ships, which function in dif-
ferent ways, and that is okay.
Though it seems obvious, in
light of the flood of commen-
tary on "healthy relationships"
today, many people forget this.
The subjects help to remind
the audience that it's okay to
be vocal about their insecuri-
ties and completely honest; "I
thought it was terrible," one
partner said of his first time
with the other, sitting directly
next to him. These individu-
als represent real relationships,
and these real people's stories
sound a lot more similar to our
own than those in the Romantic
Comedy section on Netflix or
Taylor Swift songs. "Americans
in Bed" reveals how love is pret-
ty much never the magical "love
at first sight," and the audience
should find these acknowledge-
ments remarkably comforting.
Even in watching for a few
minutes, these couples might
help to affirm that your rela-
tionship is indeed normal after
all and does not need fixing.
And for the romantics out there,
despite many of the unromantic
details of relationships given
attention by the film, on the
whole, this is as tender as it gets.
Melodrama steals the
show on 'Homeland'
By CHLOE GILKE away for one minute and you
Daily Arts Writer might miss the revelation of a
bomber's identity or a charac-
Showtime's CIA spy drama ter's pregnancy. The writer's
"Homeland" has been subject to assume that their viewers are
a fair amount of unjust criticism intelligent and engaged, and
and mockery. Though every- the plot slows for no one. The
one I've talked to agrees that long "previously on" segments
the first season of "Homeland" preceding every episode are
is truly great television, most there for a reason: It's your one
fans aren't as eager to praise chance to catch up with the
the second season. Frequently events of the last few episodes.
cited for unbelievability, last From the time the jazzy theme
year's season of "Homeland" song begins, you're on a roller
arguably took a turn away from coaster ride of twists and turns
serious, "Zero Dark Thirty" ter- of loyalty and conspiracy.
ritory toward the ridiculous car And despite the compari-
chases and screaming matches sons, "Homeland" is no "24."
prevalent in the worst seasons Its characters are not stock
of "24." Many claim that the heroes and bland baddies, but
heartbreak (both the turmoil of nuanced and often inscrutable.
the main romantic couple and Take former prisoner of war
one character's induced heart Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis,
attack) was over-the-top, and "Band of Brothers") as an
cite Dana's car accident as one example: Despite almost three
of the most ridiculous and unin- full seasons exploring his pos-
teresting plots on TV. And with sible connections to the terror-
the main villain caught and a ist organization of Abu Nazir,
major character out of the pic- viewers still aren't sure wheth-
ture, the third season seemed er he is trustworthy. Despite
dead on arrival. suicide vests and brutal mur-
Yet, "Homeland" manages to ders pointing toward his guilt,
still be one of the most unique the American public thinks he's
and interesting shows on TV a war hero, and for a while, his
today. Despite some plotlines family is eager to agree. Lewis's
that border on ridiculousness, portrayal of Brody is opaque
every twist in the storyline is and brilliant. Brody is powerful
delightfully unexpected. Even but a wild card, and I am doubt-
in an age where anyone can ful that even he knows where.
check Twitter for episode spoil- his loyalties lie.
ers, "Homeland" is chock full of Even our CIA Operative her-
action that can't fit into fewer oine Carrie Mathison (Claire
than 140 characters. Watching Danes, "My So-Called Life")
the show can't sort out her feelings for
takesyour First seen on Brody. Despite being convinced
full atten- F he is a terrorist, she and Brody
tion- Look ---- 9he iter oenares in a whirlwind affair
The stakes couldn't possibly be
higher - not only does their
relationship put Carrie's job
and Brody's marriage at risk,
it sparks a national security
threat. (You can't say the same
for the main couple on "The
Vampire Diaries," can you?)
And in a show so jam-packed
with action and character, sub-
stance and flash, it says a lot
that Carrie and Brody's sto-
ryline is the most engaging.
Between Brody's PTSD and
secret double life and Carrie's
bipolar disorder, the two are so
terribly dysfunctional that they
compliment each other in the
most destructively perfect way.
Their relationship is a contra-
diction that shouldn't work, but
Danes and Lewis sell it so com-
pletely that you can't help but
root for the doomed pair.
Every time it
starts to slip, it
pulls you right
"See, I told you I'm famous,"
I cannot stress enough that
the criticisms the second and
third seasons of "Homeland"
have received should be taken
with a grain of salt. Later epi-
sodes definitely had some glar-
ing issues. Especially when the
show strays away from the per-
sonal lives of the CIA operatives
and Brody family and tries too
hard to be a serious spy drama,
the twisty plots can feel a little
heavy-handed. Every villain
the show introduces will pale
in comparison to Abu Nazir, an
obvious (but no less terrifying)
fictionalization of Osama bin
Laden. And the show is at its
most explosive when Carrie and
Brody share the screen, and so
far this season, we haven't been
treated to the legendary Danes-
Lewis chemistry yet.
But every time I am almost
ready to give. up on "Home-
land," I'm sucked back in.
Despite a bit of a drop-off in
quality from its first episodes,
I still trust "Homeland" 's writ-
ers completely. The bipolar
nature of the show makes it
that much more interesting to
watch. The manic energy of its
best moments make up for the
slower parts, and truthfully,
the crazy fun is the best part of
the show's appeal. It's impos-
sible to predict what might hap-
pen next on "Homeland," but I
know whatever it is, it will be
- A version of this article was
published on the Daily Arts blog,
The Filter, on Nov. 19, 2013.
"You can't keep being a Dana fan, Carrie. You'll only end up heartbroken."