Mad Men Series Finale – “There’s more to life than work.”

Is there?

Last night, the much-anticipated series finale aired. I was so eager to see it that I stayed up past midnight to watch, despite having a very early morning flight to catch.

The previous two episodes to the finale were outstanding, and provided a lot of scenes with main characters that could easily have been their last. Betty’s letter to Sally, Joan exiting with her Rolodex, Peggy entering like a rock star. But it would have been so unsatisfying to never see them again.
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‘The Amazing Race’ Finale

Last fall, I didn’t watch The Amazing Race. I’d gotten tired of the show after a few poor seasons, and felt no motivation to catch up after missing weeks while on vacation. But I’d heard it was a better season than ones past, and decided to return for this installment.

I was suspicious of the “blind date” twist, because I didn’t want this show to become The Bachelor. I had no reason to fear – in fact, this ended up being one of my favorite seasons in a while. The teams were great. There were a few that I really rooted for, and a couple that I really rooted against. It was actually fun to watch longstanding couples compete against total strangers. My only complaint was that the cast wasn’t as diverse, in terms of age and abilities, as usual – it was pretty much young, fit people.

The four teams that entered the final episode were good ones to watch compete. We had the villains, Hayley and Blair. Blair was pretty patient over the course of the race, but Hayley was a total nightmare. Nagging, whiney, delusional and just plain rude. She was CONSTANTLY screeching at Blair and making everything his fault. I absolutely did not want that woman to win half a million dollars.

Then there was Jenny and Jelani. I wouldn’t have been furious if they won, like I would have with Hayley and Blair. But I wouldn’t have been planning a parade in their honor, either. Despite what they said at the end of the race, they really did not seem to get along that well. They bickered a lot, and so I didn’t really root for them.

I loved Mike and Rochelle – the only established couple to make the final episode. They were a longshot to make the final three, let alone win. I wasn’t surprised when Phil eliminated them, but I was rooting for them nonetheless. They seem like such a good fit together, and Mike was such a supportive partner.

The couple I really, really wanted to win was Tyler and Laura. I’d liked them from the start, and came to like them more and more as the race went on. They both seemed to have great personalities and senses of humor, they competed well, and they appeared to develop a pretty genuine friendship. I loved how they always laughed off Phil’s questions about romance, and made fun of the other couples that I didn’t like. (Hayley and Blair for their fighting and general horribleness, and Jackie and Jeff for being that overly affectionate couple we all know and hate.)

I was so psyched that they won! What sweet justice, that Hayley made a crucial error that caused her and Blair to lose the race. She spent the whole thing criticizing him, and now she has to live with the fact that their loss rests solely on her shoulders. What just desserts.

Hayley’s blunder opened the door for one of the other two teams, who were neck-and-neck, to take the lead. Jenny and Jelani managed to solve their combination lock test quicker, but Laura and Tyler excelled when it came to placing their selfies from the race in chronological order. They stayed focused and didn’t bicker, and they worked as a team to solve the challenge quickly. Their patience, focus and team chemistry is what set them apart from other teams all along, so I’m glad it was what helped them win in the end.

I’m dying to know what Hayley thinks about her behavior and portrayal on the show. Will she own up to her flaws, or blame editing? (Or blame Blair.) I’ll certainly be reading some post-race interviews.

Did you watch this season? What did you think?

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Survivor – Play To Win

Thank goodness, this season of Survivor is almost over. Before I get into the review, a quick note: I’ll be traveling for work next week, so I won’t be watching the Survivor finale until later. I know! Good thing I barely care about this season. And, my work trip is in The Bahamas so, you know, I can’t really complain. I know, I know, you must all really pity me.

OK, click through if you watched this week’s episode – spoilers ahead!

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Mad Men – “The Milk and Honey Route”

I can’t believe there’s only one episode left of Mad Men. Though there are a couple characters that still need screen time (Peggy didn’t even appear in this episode, which makes me think she’ll be featured heavily in the finale), this episode very easily could have been the series finale. It felt like one for so many characters, particularly Don.  After next week, I’ll be watching this whole season over again.

Obviously, major spoilers, so only read on if you’ve seen the episode.

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Survivor – It’s My Birthday And I’ll Cry If I Want To

Oh man. Who do I hate more: Dan, Will, or Rodney? It’s a tough competition, because they’re all awful. And each in his own special way! This season is the worst.

OK, let’s get down to business. Mike’s plan from last Tribal Council worked, because the whole tribe was in a tizzy when they got back to camp. Tyler and Will had voted for Dan, and he was NOT happy. Mike had a Hidden Immunity Idol, so everyone knew they’d have to vote out one of their own this week.

Rodney’s birthday fell on the Reward Challenge day, and as you can imagine he was pretty chill about it. I think he even forgot himself! Just another day, amiright? It’s like that quote: The year you were born marks only your entry into the world. Other years where you prove your worth, they are the ones worth celebrating.”

JK! Rodney has never heard that saying before. Rodney has never proven his worth, and therefore his birthday means EVERYTHING. Rodney was pretty much guaranteed a reward, since whoever won would take him….but then it was a team challenge. Hahahaha! Sorry, sucker! You’re going to have to earn this one.

Rodney hasn’t won a reward challenge yet. In fact, Rodney kind of sucks at this game, doesn’t he? He might look like a gym rat, but he has not been a threat in challenges. Sierra, Carolyn and Mike won the Reward – an opportunity to deliver supplies to kids at a local village, and to have a BBQ with them.

Rodney, of course, was devastated. Would anyone give up their spot for him? HELL NO! Rodney said “I’m not going to plead a case, but it’s my birthday and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.” (In case you missed it, that was pleading a case.)

Yeah, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s one of the most coveted and memorable rewards in the whole game. They don’t give away cars anymore, so a family visit is the only thing that trumps it. No one gave up their spot for lousy Rodney, and he’s probably still moping about it. “Not one reward,” he kept saying. Hey Rodney! Here’s an idea: WIN SOMETHING!

Rodney ranted and ranted back at camp, annoying the heck out of his teammates. Even Dan (!) thought it was overboard – though he was happy to have the focus shifted off him for awhile. Rodney came up with a plan to pretend he wanted out of the game, so that Mike would feel cocky and hang onto his Idol. It was a foolish, foolish plan. There was no way Mike would fall for it, and everyone knew it.

When everyone returned from the reward, Rodney began his performance. Though, I believe that he was pissed about not getting to go on the reward. That wasn’t acting.

“Best time of your life on MY birthday,” he complained. What a whiner! Mike said, “I see right through the plan.” Nice try, Rodney.

The Immunity Challenge was strength and endurance based, so I thought Mike might have a shot. Players had to hold themselves up by a rope, leaning diagonally towards the water. Mike hung in for a while, but it came down to Tyler and Carolyn – and Carolyn took reward. I’ve got to hand it to Carolyn, she is one tough cookie. If she can make it to the finals, I think she can win. If Mike can make it to the finals (which seems more unlikely), I think he can win. If they both make it to the finals? That could be close.

Before Tribal, the main alliance had to decide how they’d split the votes. Mike was voting Tyler, but everyone else had to decide whether Tyler or Dan posed a bigger threat. Tyler’s a bigger threat to win, but Dan has an advantage that gives him two votes.

I was surprised that Dan voted Mike, rather than voting Tyler. You’d think he’d have voted for the other guy, just in case more votes went his way. But he was safe to trust everyone – they voted out Tyler.

I felt pretty indifferently about Tyler, so I’ve got nothing to say about this. I hate half the people left in this game, and I don’t love any of them. As long as Sierra, Carolyn or Mike win, I’ll be OK.

The finale airs May 20 – there’s a good chance I’ll be out of town for work that week, which is unfortunate. (Well, not that unfortunate – I’m going somewhere warm and sunny. And this season isn’t that great anyway.) At the live finale, they’ll reveal which players will return for a second chance next season. I went to the Survivor website to vote, and thought it was pretty slim pickings. You have to vote for ten women and ten men, and I couldn’t even come up with it. I had to choose a few randomly so I could submit my choices. Here’s who I’d really like to see:

Women: Ciera, Tasha, Teresa, Kelley Wentworth, Kelly Wigglesworth (that’s a Survivor deep cut!) and Shirin.
Men: Jeremy, Stephen (love Stephen Fishbach!), Joe (OF COURSE!), Mike, Spencer  and Vytas.

Nothing reminds you how long Survivor has been on the air like seeing some of the early era cast members. It’ll be interesting to see who returns, but ooof – it was slim pickings.

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Mad Men – Let’s Roll

I was traveling recently, and missed reviewing the last couple episodes of Mad Men. So this blog will do double-duty, since I loved “Time and Life” so much that I can’t not talk about it.

Everything from here on out will contain spoilers, so…

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Survivor: The Ugliest Season Of All Time

survivor worlds apart logoI missed writing about Survivor last week because I was out of town. And though I went straight to bed after the show last night (I’m still recovering from travel and a lot of early mornings), I couldn’t let another episode go by without weighing in.

Because this is the most despicable season of Survivor I’ve ever seen.

These people are rude, belligerent, misogynistic, cruel pigs. I’m mostly speaking about Will and Dan, who both said some truly heinous things in the last few episodes. But I’m also disgusted with the cast as a whole, for not voting these jerks out already.

Sometimes, the best strategic play is to bring the biggest asshole to the end. There’s a simply reason why Russell Hantz, the villain so many viewers loved to hate, never won: he was mean. Good strategy and sound, cutthroat moves get rewarded at the end. But unnecessary cruelty is not.

But this season, there are so many lousy people that taking a jerk to the end won’t guarantee victory. These horrible people like each other, and they’ll vote for each other.

Let’s recap the atrocities. Last week, Will personally attacked Shirin, a woman who has in the past been a victim of domestic violence. He used his knowledge of her family situation against her to tell her that “more people in this game like me than like you in real life”, and other such things. It wasn’t about the game, it was personal and it was disgusting. He never apologized or admitted that he’d gone to far – in fact, ever time he was given a chance to apologize he just made things worse.

Then there’s Dan. Disgusting, disgusting Dan. He’s always been horrible to Shirin. But this week took the cake. First, he said “For what it’s worth, I’m really sorry about what happened at Tribal Council.”

OK, sure. And then:

“Apparently there is violence in her history. If that’s the case, I feel very bad for her.”

Red flags! “Apparently” and “If that’s the case”. UGH I’m already mad.

“However, that being said, Shirin is a drama queen. She is a two-faced liar. She LOVES to play the victim. For Shirin to say that Will is worse than her, that’s hypocritical. Did he go overboard? From what I heard, yes. But when she’s calling him names, when she has no gratitude or appreciation – I’d call that karma.”

I have written SO MANY mean things about Dan here and then deleted them, because I don’t want to be that blogger. But……forget it. Choke on your beard and die, Dan! That was a disgusting thing to say! Shirin does not “love to play the victim”, she was and IS a victim.

That’s not even the worst of it. Later, at Tribal Council, Dan got even worse. Shirin said that her home situation is different than the others – because she grew up with domestic violence at home, she doesn’t really have a family to share this experience with. She has a boyfriend, his family, and close friends.

Dan says he can relate, because he is an adopted child. “All I have for blood in this world is my mother,” he says. Dan added that he has his biological mother, his adopted family, his wife, his wife’s family, their children, and his friends. So yeah, JUST like Shirin’s scenario.

Dan: “My scenario really isn’t much different from hers.”
Probst: “So you had domestic violence in your upbringing?”
Dan: “I’m an adopted child.”

THAT WAS A REAL CONVERSATION. Probst responded and said “Dan, not to split hairs, but that’s a very big difference.” And I was glad. But I continue to think that Probst is too easy on contestants when it comes to misogyny, and he has often shown sexism himself. The fact that Jeff Probst said that this was one of his favorite casts in a long time, when it’s a group of actual monsters, fills me with rage.

OK. I know, this is already almost 700 words just on how despicable this cast is. There’s also a show to discuss.

The Immunity Challenge offered the chance for both a man and a woman to earn protection, by holding up 25% of their starting body weight. Carolyn and Mike won. I don’t care for Carolyn, but I’ll admit she’s crushing it in challenges. I don’t love Mike, either – I want to root for him, but he makes so many mistakes – but I have to admit the guy is working his butt off to win.

Everyone had already decided to vote for Shirin, despite her arguments that she posed no threat to win. So, at Tribal Council, Mike pulled out his Hidden Immunity Idol. He said Shirin would be voting for Tyler, and he’d be voting for someone else. It forced the “strong six” alliance to reveal their true inner structure – players could either vote Shirin in hopes that Mike wouldn’t play the Idol, vote for Tyler, or vote for the person on the bottom of their alliance.

Mike did not play the Idol to save Shirin. I get why he didn’t – he’ll need it to keep himself in the game. For him, the move would hopefully cause enough drama in the alliance of six that he could forge a new alliance. But I was sad to see Shirin go.

Shirin, Dan and Tyler all received votes. So now Dan knows where he stands. And Tyler knows that someone other than Shirin voted for him. It’s magical. (Mike actually voted for Tyler, but not everyone will necessarily know that. Will and Tyler voted for Dan.)

Now Dan knows where he stands, and he has two votes. Mike still has his Idol. Mike is in a much better position than he was before he made this move. So, I guess I’m rooting for Mike to win now. Who would’ve thunk it.

How do y’all feel about this season? Do you hate the players as much as I do? Who deserves to win? Hit me up in the comments.

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