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December 05, 2019 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
Thursday, December 5, 2019 — 5B


Comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler began their
night as hosts of the 2015 Golden Globes with a joke
that would define popular media in the 2010s: “Only at
the Golden Globes do the beautiful people of film rub
shoulders with the rat-faced people of television.”
This line, while intended to poke fun at the persistent
belief that film is a higher and more prestigious art
form than television, actually exposes a recent trend
that has made this belief obsolete. The Golden Globes
aren’t the only place where faces from both film and
TV cross paths; in fact, the worlds of the two mediums
have become so enmeshed that the distinction between
movie star and TV actor is no longer clear-cut.
In a decade where streaming services like Netflix
and Hulu dominate cable television, the idea that TV
has no artistic value has faded away almost entirely.
When sitcoms and procedurals were the most popular
shows on television, it was easy to say that the medium
may not be as impactful or meaningful as cinema.
However, with billions of dollars spent every year on
original content for streaming services, television has
evolved far beyond its small-time roots.
While bitingly funny, Fey and Poehler’s suggestion
that the worlds of film and TV are overlapping fails to
acknowledge that, in the past ten years, these worlds
have become nearly identical. Rather than pushing
“serious” actors to film, renowned television series
have pulled top-billed names into the TV industry
and made the careers of countless new stars. With
the stigma towards TV as a lower-budget medium
effectively erased, talent has sprawled across its native
In fact, the Golden Globes are the perfect
representation of how the film and TV industries have
intersected. The award show, which has categories for
film and TV productions, has seen steady ratings in a
time where more niche award shows like the Emmys
and the Oscars have experienced a significant decrease
in ratings over the past few years. The Golden Globes
have also been lauded for their commitment to coming
through on promises of diversity on-screen and

The blurring of lines between TV and film has
opened doors for new stars and new representation that
was previously unseen in the nearly all-white films and
shows before the 2010s. While minorities and women
are still underrepresented in pop culture, the push for
more varied stories and faces to tell those stories has
intensely affected both industries. By acknowledging
the growing similarities between the forms of media,
the quality of TV shows and films has responded to
the other’s respective success with more thought for
the consumer. As the demand for representation has
increased, each platform has raced to make that goal
a reality.
While there is still much work to be done in
improving the entertainment industry as a whole, it is
undeniable that the reactions of TV and film producers
will be similar. With content and public interest
becoming more closely aligned, the two formats will
continue to merge as reflections of the calls for social
change in popular media. Soon, it won’t be just the
Golden Globes where TV and film are in the same room
together. It’ll be in every aspect of their production and
— Anya Soller, Daily Arts Writer
In sum: The 2010s have been a decade of convergence
for television and movies. “Movies,” here, means
specifically the Scorsese-would-spit-on-their-graves
type, all the “Potters”, and Marvels, and “Star Wars”
and “Jurassic Parks.” The “television” I’m referencing
is not the latest CBS sitcom — not “God Friended Me,”
not “Man with a Plan.”
The convergence of movies and television has
been brought on by that other class of TV, those
script-driven-dramas that aim to rise to a higher
artistic occasion, reckoning themselves serious and
important, and receiving crucial praise that would
validate them as such. High-brow television has, as
Richard Brody put it in his recent New Yorker article
on the 27 best movies of the decade, taken the place of
the “so-called mid-range drama for adults,” filling the
niche in entertainment for script-driven narratives,
often “(subtracting out any) discernable directorial
originality or inventiveness.”
At the same time, movies have stolen a core tenet of
the television show: the serialization. Every single one
of the top twenty movies in the box office this decade,
as well as the most profitable film from each year
this decade (minus 2014’s ticket-stub crown going to

“American Sniper”), has been a remake or a franchise
film. If it’s true that there’s been a resurgence of box
office numbers, if it’s true that people are getting back
to the theaters, it’s cinematic, extended universes and
nostalgia trips that are putting butts into seats.
The decade-long period that
started in the mid-2000s and ran
through the middle of the 2010s,
often called the Golden Age of
Television, was headlined by
television shows that aimed to
reach past what was narratively
expected of them, working with
literary aspirations, even, in some
cases. As Adam Wilson noted in
his reflective essay in Harper’s on
the many Golden Ages of television
earlier this fall, critics aren’t
afraid to pass around the idea of
the visual medium as a literary
one, pulling a quote from writer
Brett Martin, who called “The
Wire” “one of the greatest literary
accomplishments of the early
twenty-first century.” If you ask
the average, avid fan of television,
you’ll hear that it’s TV, not cinema,
that’s taken the seat as the rightful
artistic heir to the novel, the play,
the poetic epic — not that there
needs to be a successor, not that it
was necessarily going to be cinema
in the first place.
What does it say that the evolution of each of these
forms — of television and of movies — seems to have
come at the hands of the other? More so in the past
decade than ever before, industry creativity and talent
has been pumped into prestige dramatic television,
with every studio, cable channel and streaming service
looking for their spiritual successor to “The Sopranos”
and “The Wire.” Just so, we’ve seen Hollywood rear its
ugly (and obviously profit-driven) head — the advent
of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the sequel-

storm that followed, making explicitly clear what
the industry values: Selling tickets at any cost, even if
that means the end product tends toward unoriginal,
repetitive, increasingly vapid. Hollywood’s major
model to this end has been to franchise everything,
to jam anything they can into a
cinematic, extended, multi-movie
universe. All of a sudden, the slate
at your local multi-plex begins to
resemble the schedule of a cable
television channel. Installment
after installment after installment
of stories that seem like they’ll
never advance, nevermind end.
streaming services like Netflix,
Hulu and Amazon Prime have
further blurred the line between
television and film, releasing
directly onto laptops and living
room televisions, a type of direct,
content that used to be reserved for
TV. Big name directors like Noah
Baumbach, Alfonso Cuarón, Bong
Joon Ho and Martin Scorsese
have turned to Netflix to make
movies, in many cases bypassing a
theatrical release wholesale.
Just a few weeks ago, the
Department of Justice released a statement declaring
that they would be terminating the Supreme Court
decision from 1948 which broke up vertical integration
— the monopolies that studios like Paramount had — in
the entertainment industry. The historic Paramount
decision prohibited studios from owning their own
theaters, creating competition by ensuring that each
local theater, maybe the only one in a city or region,
wasn’t showing movies made by only one company.
The timing of the DOJ’s decision comes with more
than a hint of irony.

The crossover of the decade: 2020 in film and television


As we move into
the next decade,
I can’t help but
believe that
cinema — in the
their-graves sense
— will be further
banished from
the studio system.


Ranking television shows is an impossible task, one that’s only gotten more difficult
as there are fewer and fewer shows that everyone watches. There is little difference
between number five and number three, so I am opting to chronologically rank them
instead. Binge-watching television shows, as opposed to viewing them week-to-week,
makes it harder to recall the details as you don’t have any time to process. As we near the
end of the decade, here is a list of the shows no one should forget.
5. “30 Rock” (2006-2013)
Available on Hulu
138 Episodes
Bizarre, hilarious and witty. Loosely based on Tina Fey’s experience as a head writer

for “Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock” follows Fey’s character, Liz Lemon, as the head
writer and showrunner of the NBC sketch comedy show “TGS with Tracy Jordan.”
She supervises the cast and crew, which includes her best friend Jenna Maroney (Jane
Krakowski, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”), the difficult-to-manage Tracy Jordan
(Tracy Morgan, “Green Eggs and Ham”) and network executive Jack Donaghy (Alec
Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live”). Episodes often feature arguments between Donaghy’s
conservative views against Lemon’s liberal ones, Maroney’s attempts to become a film
star, Jordan’s poor behavior and their romantic and personal lives. It is extremely
reflexive, making jokes about NBC and even satirizing Comcast’s acquisition of it.
4. “The Office” (2005-2013)
Available on Netflix
201 Episodes
Based on the British show of the same name, “The Office” is a mockumentary-style
sitcom that depicts the everyday lives of office employees in Scranton, Pennsylvania at
the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. It employs a huge ensemble cast, most
notably Steve Carell as Michael Scott, the well-intentioned yet often misunderstood
regional manager who frequently ends up annoying his employees. The first season
was met with mixed reviews but was followed by several seasons of critical acclaim.
Although the final two seasons did not feature Carell (resulting in a large dip in quality),
the show will always be remembered for being one of the first comedies in the United
States without a laugh track to have solid ratings. There may never be a character like
Michael Scott on television again, so get your last couple re-watches through because
the show is heading to NBC’s own streaming platform in January of 2021. Until then,
“The Office” remains Netflix’s most streamed show.
3. “Parks and Recreation” (2009-2015)
Available on Netflix
125 Episodes
“Parks and Rec” is often compared to “The Office,” and people will get in heated
debates about which show is better (I am, personally, Team Leslie). This mockumentary-
style political satire sitcom stars Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, the deputy director of the
Parks and Recreation Department in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana alongside
her best friend Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones, “Angie Tribeca”). Additionally, it features a
strong supporting cast that includes Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza and Chris

Laugh, TV is funny

Daily Arts Writer


I come from a family of five: a brother, a sister and two moms.
“Two moms” is an interesting way to express the different and
historically complicated relationship of being raised by a lesbian
couple, though “two moms” is how I have always described my
family situation. This is often followed by “oh, you have a step-
mom.” Nope. “Your dad remarried?” Wrong again. “Then were
you adopted?” Sperm donor.
It took some time before I was able to comprehend why my
situation was so confusing. To be raised by an openly gay couple
is rare. Alix, the co-writer of this piece, is the first person I have
ever met who shares this experience. Rare experiences make for
interesting writing, and I am happy to share as we reminisce on
the decade and the legalization of gay marriage that came with
One question I often receive, as a heterosexual male, is what
it was like to be void of fatherly influence in my upbringing. My
response to this, for the majority of my life was, “Well, I have
uncles and grandfathers,” which is a response I regret to have
ever given out. The question itself is problematic, for what is
fatherly influence? Is it knowing how to play football? My mother
taught me how to throw a tight spiral. Is it having some older
representative of male anatomy? My parents are both physicians
— they know more about male anatomy than most dads.
I call my brother my brother and my sister my sister even
though we share no genetic connection. I call them my brother
and my sister because we grew up together, under the same roof,
calling the same people our parents. I call both my parents mom,
because that is who they have always been to me and my siblings.
This is not in defense of gay marriage, because we have
nothing to be defensive of. My family and I lack anything to be
sorry for, we bear no burdens for having lived the way we always
have. Gay marriage should have never have had to be legalized,
because it never should have been illegal in the first place. I
was provided a safe home, a childhood I am fond of, a space for
creativity and freedom of ideas. My lesbian parents raised three
children and did a fine job doing so. We are all healthy, in a good
state of mind, with goals and aspirations: I’m not sure what else
a straight family could provide.
For years, I was silent at school about our family situation,
especially since my siblings and I grew up in a fairly conservative
area. After the legalization of gay marriage, it felt as though
there was some national recognition of our family after years of
rejection and fear of exile.
The legalization of gay marriage meant a great deal for my
family, though it was more symbolic of national and political
acceptance. My parents had been together for over twenty years
and had raised three children before their partnership was
legally recognized. In this sense, the act was more an affirmation
than a permission slip, but it was celebrated nonetheless.
In 2015, my mother proposed to my other mother at our family
home, despite already having been together for twenty years.
There are many stories like my parents’ because the legalization
was a chance to renew an already solid partnership, in a bond
familiar to those who had disavowed them for millennia.
— Zachary M.S. Waarala, Daily Arts Writer
Growing up with lesbian moms meant that there was a routine
of phrases I had plenty of practice saying. “Yes, I really have four
moms.” “No, they are not in a polygamous relationship.” “No,
I’m not adopted, I had a sperm donor.” “No, I don’t really care
to meet him.” The list goes on. I’ve told the story of my familial
life so often, I could say it in my sleep. My parents are lesbians.
When I was three they separated and each met new partners.
My two lesbian mothers multiplied into four and boom, I have
four moms.

When I was in third grade, I came up with nicknames for
all of them in order to make conversations about my moms less
confusing when I was talking with my friends. The nicknames
stuck and now, whenever I talk about my moms I refer to them
as “Broken Ankle Mom” (because she had a broken ankle at the
time), “Police Mom” (because she is a policewoman), “Taco Bell
Mom” (she used to work at Taco Bell) and British Mom (she’s
Growing up, my familial life never seemed out of the ordinary.
Even though there was only one other kid in my town who had
gay parents, I didn’t feel any different. I grew up in a pretty
conservative area, yet nobody made fun of me. At least, not to my
face. I’m sure they might’ve said some things behind my back. In
fact, one time in high school, a football player whispered to me, “I
know your secret … your parents are gay.” Which I found pretty
hilarious at the time (and still do).
The only thing I found weird was that before June 26, 2015,
my parents were never married. My birth mother and my British
mom were together for ten years before they separated. If they
could have legally gotten married, they would have. Sure, all of my
mothers acknowledged that marriage wasn’t a defining factor of
their love. Yet, the numerous legal issues that came along with not
being allowed to marry was quite frustrating. I remember once,
when my Birtish mom was hospitalized, the hospital did not allow
my policewoman mom to visit her during “family only hours.” She
had to sit outside in the waiting room, unable to stand beside the
love of her life during what was quite a traumatic experience. In
the eyes of the law, they were just two women who lived together.
It was because of this that I so desperately wanted gay marriage
to be legalized. In fact, I even wrote a letter to President Obama
asking him to make it legal. I still have the “letter” he wrote back
to me framed in my childhood bedroom, complete with the ever-
personal phrase, “Dear Student of America.”
The day gay marriage was finally legalized was a visceral
experience. I was on my first ever date with a girl when I heard
the news. We were at the local zoo and my phone exploded with
texts from all of my moms. I came home from my date to the
rainbow flag flying outside of our house. Our family had always
been valid to us, but now we were seen as valid in the eyes of our
country. The five remaining years of the 2010s were complete
with both sets of mothers tying the knot with one another.
While the love between
omnipresent during the
first half of the decade,
it was the legalization
of gay marriage that
made the latter half of
the decade something
to celebrate.
After gay marriage
was legalized, there
was a sense of hope
that both Zach’s and
my family shared. A
hope for the future.
A hope that families
like ours wouldn’t feel
the insecurity we felt.
Because there is no
reason to feel insecure.
and mine have love at
their core, just as other
families do. Love that
has always existed and
will continue to exist,
regardless of what any
law could ever say.
— Alix Curnow, Daily
Arts Writer

Growing up with multiple moms


Daily Arts Writer

Daily Arts Writer

Daily Arts Writer

Daily Film Editor


In 2015,
my mother
to my other
mother at
our family
home, despite
having been
together for
20 years.

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