Archive for September 30th, 2009

Jonathan Ames Is Bored to Death

The following is an entirely true and somewhat amazing cascade of events:

Sometime early this decade, probably right around when I finished reading Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, I decided I wanted to write my own detective novel. It was to be nothing short of a blatant rip-off of Christie’s concept—people dying one by one on an island cut off from the rest of civilization—with the small twist that a tried-and-true detective would be there, doubling as the role of the murderer. And because detectives always had such austere names and I had always liked the sound of “Jonathan,” I decided to name my main character Jonathan Ames.

Fast forward two years or so to a shot of me walking through my favorite bookstore. There, on the discount rack with a bright yellow spine, was a book called Wake Up, Sir! by a man named Jonathan Ames. Two days later, I finished reading the funniest book I’d ever picked up.

Now in the fall of 2009, we’ve come full circle. HBO has a new television series based off Ames’ short story, “Bored to Death.” And the main character is none other than a detective named Jonathan Ames.

Crazy, right?

Continue reading

The Return of The Hills

The Hills KristinThe appeal of The Hills has always been its delicate balance of a few very key contradictions: the show is “real life” but quite obviously staged, these characters are on a very successful and invasive TV show that they can never explicitly acknowledge, the people on the show constantly talk about how much is going on in their lives while nothing actually happens on the show, and they all have to lead very dramatic lives while simultaneously professing a deep aversion to said “drama.”

The introduction of Kristin Cavallari, though, threatens to throw this symbiosis all out of whack.

In last night’s season premiere (called “It’s On, Bitch,” except MTV didn’t punctuate it, so it read as if something was on top of “bitch”), Kristin was treated as if her reputation preceded her like Winston Wolf, except instead of solving problems, she steals boyfriends. And in short order she starts pursuing Audrina’s ex, Justin Bobby.

Except Kristin’s reputation is repeated so often by so many characters that they sound as if they were reading MTV Production Notes (particularly Stephanie, who says both “This is the girl that’s going to stab us all in the back!” and “How is it possible that one girl can turn all of our lives upside down?”). Also, the only reason Kristin is pursuing Justin, as she more or less admits, is to cause drama and upset Audrina, which A) violates the rule that all characters must profess a “no drama” ethos; and B) highlights how forced Kristin’s inclusion is. She’s not actually friends with anyone on the show, as both she and Lo make clear at various points during the episode, which makes any interaction she has with the rest of the cast seem manipulated and contrived (even more so than usual). Continue reading