Lunchtable TV Talk- Guest star: Courtney Love


Courtney Love has lived a life full of drama that has played out in the public eye – both by her own hand and because some of her antics have been so outlandish that a public debacle was unavoidable.

The only reason I think of her now is that she has appeared in small but somewhat tantalizing guest roles in a few shows lately – first as a preschool teacher in Sons of Anarchy and as a hitman in the increasingly ridiculous Revenge. Then I read that she plays a role in Empire (one of the few shows it seems I have not seen).

I can’t judge Love and some of her seemingly odd life choices, but in seeing these very brief appearances on TV, I started to wonder what kind of performances we may have missed from her because of these odd life choices and seeming derailments. She showed tremendous promise and generated buzz in a few film appearances that coincided with the height of her band’s fame (Hole, for anyone who doesn’t know, however improbable that is). I can’t claim to know what she was going through privately, but I wonder sometimes whether, had she continued acting really actively, her skills would have been honed. Where would she be now? She’s doing a fabulous job in these small roles – and standing out doing it (not just because she is Courtney Love). But what more might she have done had she focused? (And not knowing everything, I don’t know if it has a lot to do with focus.) When we have seen glimpses of a sane and talented actress in Love, I have to ask what more we might have seen?

I don’t find myself thinking this way about most actors – maybe I think of her because it feels like so much promise squandered. Maybe not “squandered” as much not living up to full potential. Maybe because I can never decide if Love is a misguided lunatic genius or a misguided lunatic idiot.

Lunchtable TV talk – BoJack Horseman: “Son of a bitch – that literal son of a bitch”


I have never been one much for animation. Somehow I can’t get past the actual animation. As a person who is not that visual in the first place, I sort of need the realism of actual people to draw me into something I watch (even if I often watch only halfheartedly). I have always been this way, preferring live-action Muppets to cartoons. Animation just does not hold my interest for some reason, even if the story and the content are fantastic. Which means that I don’t get as much out of something great, like the film Persepolis, as I should.

I read many good things – or even not good things, but things that made me curious – about BoJack Horseman – yet another of Netflix’s triumphs – so I decided to give it a try. What struck me as I watched episode after episode is the sense that animation can actually poke fun at and draw out real satire from things, people, situations, trends in ways that “real” shows cannot as easily do.

That said, it always takes me a while to readjust my view to watch animals become anthropomorphized, interacting with and dating humans. Lifting the anchor to reality, the whole thing becomes a lot more palatable: it’s fine that a horse, BoJack Horseman, who starred in a sitcom is now a has-been trying to reignite recognition by publishing an autobiography he can’t get around to writing. It’s fine that his great rival is a dog, Mr Peanut Butter, who starred in a suspiciously similar sitcom. And because a dog is always aiming to please, this rivalry is more grounded in Horseman’s envy and depression. The dog is always exceedingly good-natured, a little bit vacant but very sweet and sincere and always attempting to be friends with Horseman. There’s almost no real rivalry until Horseman starts to have feelings for his ghost writer and Mr Peanut Butter’s girlfriend, Diane, a human.

Son of a bitch – that literal son of a bitch.” -BoJack on rival Mr Peanut Butter

The mix of human and animal characters becomes, if not invisible, just an extra level of comedy. And can you fault anyone for creating a seal who is a Navy SEAL? No new stories in “Hollywoo”.

Slate offered a solid description of the show’s premise. It argues that the show is more clever than funny, delving into the comedic yet sad territory of has-been celebrity and the pervasive idea of “revival” in the form of tell-all autobios and reality shows.

Vulture’s analysis goes a step further and echoes about what I feel after watching the show: it is “one of the most aggressive portraits of depression I think I’ve ever seen. Look past the anthropomorphic animal characters and the satire of toxic celebrity culture: This show is radically sad. I love it.”