Jumping screens: Gilmore Girls and Southcliffe


In no logical world would any person put the gratingly annoying but occasionally clever Gilmore Girls into the same sentence as the raw, four-part UK drama, Southcliffe. But after I force fed myself seven seasons (excruciating 22-episode seasons!) of Gilmore, I had to watch something else – something with more depth. I turned to Southcliffe, and impressive though its performances are (a whole host of good actors, such as Shirley Henderson; Rory Kinnear of Penny Dreadful and Black Mirror; Eddie Marsan of loads of good stuff, although lately he’s been in the constantly improving Ray Donovan; Anatol Yusef, who was great as Meyer Lansky in the late, great Boardwalk Empire…) its central story (told in non-linear fashion) is too dark and too close to the reality of our world, filled as it is with random gun massacres.

I’ll never be able to explain what propelled me forward with the Gilmore viewing. It was one of those “I started and can’t stop til I finish” things. I can think of no other word than “grating” to describe it. The fast-moving conversational virtues and onslaught of often rare cultural references aside, dialogue was stilted, people’s reactions over the top, behaviors usually aspirational rather than what would happen in reality and… well, it’s just annoying. A full “town” of weirdos (they were supposed to be, I guess)… but if you lived in a town as sleepy yet quirky as Stars Hollow, would you be as close knit as this? Sally Struthers and her grating, horrifying voice – that alone is enough to smash your TV! And that is just for starters. Right? Lauren Graham is someone I’ve really tried to like, but after forcing myself to watch this and Parenthood, I’m pained to say that she still annoys me. And as Rory, Alexis Bledel comes in a close second. And Melissa McCarthy… I’ve never seen the appeal because I don’t find her funny or entertaining in anything she has done, and Gilmore was no exception. My favorite part was seeing weird stuff like Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach show up as a guitarist who wants to join a little high school band in the show. Or seeing a young Rami Malek, surprise star of surprise summer hit, Mr Robot, in one episode. In fact, when you go back and watch virtually any tv show from years past, especially ones that lasted as long as Gilmore did, you will be surprised by familiar faces.

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks lately, and I have focused on work and sucking these shows up obsessively. I started looking at real estate and found a place I want to buy because I feel like having a fresh start with a fresh view. But in the absence of being able to swing that, I go on… just finishing up the final episode of Southcliffe now.

Real estate porn and Swedish salespeople


Sometimes for fun I look at real estate. Sometimes idly, flipping through pictures and descriptions on websites and other times more actively, actually attending viewings and contacting real estate agents to get my questions answered. Sometimes I take my own research to a strange place. When I was interested in Berlin property, I started investigating the weird and wonderful world of foreclosed properties. Of course, the information about foreclosures is only available in German, which is not a language I know – but I was determined to dig into this properly and thus armed myself with a German dictionary and figured out the how, when, where of purchasing foreclosed-upon properties in Berlin. Sure, I never applied the knowledge, but how often do I apply most of the random knowledge that is rattling around in my head (e.g., citizenship laws for too many countries to count).

In the process, both in my real estate porn and in my actual home purchase process several years ago, I discovered that Swedish real estate agents are just weird. “Weird”, I grant, is not descriptive and in this case singles out one way of doing things (the “Swedish way”) and makes it sound as though it is wrong. In fact, it is simply different from what I think property sales and salespeople should be like. Out in the country where I live, I understand that there is not much incentive (they get no or tiny commissions), and to some extent, in cities, the markets are just so “hot” that agents don’t really have to do much.

My thinking, though, is that if I found a property I liked and lived in the US, I would contact the agent and express this interest. They would be obsessive about trying to sell it to me and,in case that did not work out, would actively be looking at other comparable properties and be pressing me on looking at those, too.

On several occasions in Sweden, when I contacted an agent again after looking at a property and seeing it had been removed from the web, they say simply, “It is sold. Sorry.” And nothing more.

This would rarely, if ever, happen with an American real estate agent, who would say, “I am sorry, but the property you were interested in is sold… but I have x in the same neighborhood and have a comparable type of property in X neighborhood.” Selling. Always trying to keep you on the hook. While I appreciate low-pressure salesmanship, this Swedish way feels lazy and not at all like any kind of selling. I have found in most cases that people here do not care if they are helpful or if they sell anything at all.