Media liberals are rooting for NBC’s two-gay-dads sitcom The New Normal. USA Today TV critic Robert Bianco made it number two on his favorite new shows: “For the most part, Normal plays like a lovely, small movie, mixing humorous moments with sweet, gentle grace notes.” Alessandra Stanley at The New York Times tries to make the bold statement: "Gay is the new straight."
Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever is less impressed, given that its producer (Glee creator Ryan Murphy) tends to lose creative steam. But Stuever loves the “deliciously acid” Phyllis Schlafly character with Callista Gingrich hair:
“Can’t wait for the stoning-of-adulteresses question,” Washington Post TV critic Lisa de Moraes snarked in a column back in March about The American Bible Challenge, an original game show in development for GSN (formerly the Game Show Network), to be hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy.
Fast forward to this morning’s Washington Post, and readers would find Hank Stuever’s scathing review on the front page of the Style section. Since GSN isn't listed in the Post’s daily TV listings grid – nor is it necessarily a highly-trafficked cable network – it seems obvious that the only reason for a review would be to malign it. And trash it he did.
A new reality TV show featuring C-list celebrities doing military training exercises to compete for charity was denounced as "empty jingoism" and a modern-day spin on "[a]dding a celebrity quotient to the military-industrial complex," kind of like when Bob Hope entertained the troops during World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
That's pretty much the reaction of Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever to the new "Stars Earn Stripes" program, which debuts tonight at 8 p.m. EDT on NBC. "It also feels about five years too late, in both its reality-TV tropes and its message of pride," Stuever huffs. "It harks back to the 'Mission Accomplished!' era of attacks and setbacks in the Middle East":
"Either we're spoiled by TV's unlimited population of giant personalities or this woman is one of the most boring people of her era," observed Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever regarding Chelsea Clinton's television journalism debut on last night's Rock Center.
"It's no surprise whatsoever that Chelsea Clinton didn't electrify broadcast journalism with her debut" on last night's Rock Center, but, "what was surprising" was "how someone can be on TV in such a prominent way and, in her big moment, display so very little charisma -- none at all."
While columnist Dana Milbank complained about "The irrelevancy of the Obama presidency" -- noting Republican laughter during the Obama speech (especially the line "This isn't political grandstanding") and Rep. James Moran (D-Va.) reading the newspaper -- TV critic Hank Stuever sat at the Tom Shales Desk of Obama Speech Puffery. "Obama reiterates his mastery of medium" was the headline on the front of the Style section.
Stuever's expert of choice on Obama was Lou Dobbs of Fox News, whom he plucked out for declaring it was "The best speech he's ever given." That's not exactly what Dobbs said on The O'Reilly Factor after the speech. Dobbs said it was the best speech of his presidency. But then Dobbs agreed with Bill O'Reilly that it was extremely political and not a transparent proposal:
Washington Post staffer Hank Stuever started off with a fair point in his review of the new HBO documentary "Hot Coffee." But before his June 27 Style section front-pager was concluded, the Post TV critic was bashing conservatives and free marketeers for advocating tort reform.
On the surface, TLC's "Extreme Couponing" -- premiering tonight at 9:30 p.m. EDT -- may look to you and me like an innocently voyeuristic look into the lives of fellow Americans who take penny-pinching to the extreme, saving at times hundreds of dollars on grocery store runs.
But that's why we're not TV critics for a liberal metropolitan newspaper.
Washington Post's Hank Stuever worked in a healthy share of left-wing grousing about capitalism and insisted that the coupon-clippers highlighted by the program were insufferably selfish souls.
Washington Post TV critic Hank Stuever reported "Valentine's Day was a week ago, but MSNBC's Chris Matthews has belatedly gifted a particular former president with a mash note - strike that, a one-hour special called 'President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon,'" which airs tonight, somehow equating Clinton with Washington and Lincoln. Stuever explained:
Matthews, aided by the likes of Terry McAuliffe, Mary Steenburgen and various biographers, remarks again and again how smart Clinton is, how generous, how famous, how friendly, how productive. Perhaps this special is some sort of MSNBC covert-op to cause paralytic apoplexy over there on the right? The kind of people who still keep the Starr Report at the ready?... The not-very-sub subtext of "President of the World" is a nostalgic grieving for the glory of the Clinton years.
Washington Post reporter and TV critic Hank Stuever helpfully provided a book-cover blurb for Sean Bugg, editor of the DC gay news magazine Metro Weekly. Bugg's new book is titled Boy Does World: Fifteen Years of Bad Behaviors, Bad Attitudes, and Happy Endings. The January 6 Metro Weekly featured this Stuever blurb, with a hurrah for gay "equality" of respect:
Sean was fearlessly funny in a fearful era clouded by AIDS, and Boy Does World is a wonderful chance to enjoy a retro romp into that past. It’s also an affirming look at some happy endings – the hard-won, worth-fighting-for future of gay equality and domestic bliss.”
But that's not all the blurb Stuever offered. On his website, Bugg uses this Stuever line, too:
I'll admit it, like millions of other Americans, I'm a sucker for cheesy occupation-based reality shows. I love History Channel's Pawn Stars and American Pickers, as well as A&E's Billy the Exterminator and Dog the Bounty Hunter. I watch them because they're entertaining and full of colorful characters, not in the expectation of some insightful commentary on America's real or imagined economic and social woes.
But for some reason, Washington Post Style section contributor Hank Stuever is disappointed that A&E's new reality show "Storage Wars," which debuts tonight, doesn't explore those issues to his satisfaction:
The Washington Post is getting out ahead of the pack in hating the new Sarah Palin reality show on TLC, “Sarah Palin's Alaska.” It isn't really about whether the show is entertaining. TV critic Hank Stuever tore into the Republican VP nominee with relish from the first sentence at the top of Wednesday's Style section:
Who is this woman, this fruit bat in fleece and Gore-Tex, clenching the side of the rock face above a glacier, screaming "Tahhd! Tahhd!" at her husband, piercing the tranquility of the Alaskan paradise?
Isn't this the kind of person whom forest rangers usually despise? The one whose loud command to heed the bears actually startles the bears? The hapless camper whom taxpayers have to rescue at great expense after she loses her Verizon signal and gets hopelessly disoriented?
Washington Post writer Hank Stuever has strong opinions about the new HBO movie on Bill Clinton and Tony Blair in Friday's paper: "Dennis Quaid is truly awful in the role of President Bill Clinton, the other half of The Special Relationship's special relationship. It's so bad that I insist everyone inside the Beltway watch it at least twice."
It must be hard to play Bill Clinton when everyone is so familiar with him, and so many media liberals still consider him a hero, despite the well, itty-bitty flaws. But Stuever really, really hates Quaid's work:
There are museum animatronics doing better presidential imitations than Quaid. If I had been in director Richard Loncraine's shoes, a couple of days into filming, I would have gone on eBay and purchased one of those cardboard, life-size Bill Clinton cutouts and had Quaid carry that around in front of him while the cameras continued to roll and I frantically waited for "Saturday Night Live's" Darrell Hammond to return my phone calls.
Stuever's review suggests HBO did not cut the scene of Bill telling Hillary he had carnal knowledge of an intern (or maybe the reviewer's copy still had it, but regular viewers won't see it):
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the horrific Oklahoma City bombing, and The Washington Post's Hank Stuever promoted MSNBC on the front page of the Style section -- because Rachel Maddow "has been having 1990s flashbacks with the anti-government vitriol that most recently accompanied the health-care reform debate."
Stuever offered a preview of the left-wing propaganda to be unveiled tonight in the Maddow hour:
"Nine years after his execution, we are left worrying that Timothy McVeigh's voice from the grave echoes in the new rising tide of American anti-government extremism," Maddow says at the outset of her MSNBC special Monday night called "The McVeigh Tapes: Confessions of an American Terrorist."
For Hank Stuever of the Washington Post, Sacha Baron Cohen's latest movie, "Bruno," is a reflection of America's "giant case of sex phobia."
Cohen's movie tells the tale of Bruno, a gay Austrian fashionista who embarks on a quest for fame (to become "the most famous Austrian since Hitler"). Its depictions of gay sex and a gay man flamboyantly flaunting his sexuality caused worry among gay activists about an increase of homophobia, despite a statement from Universal Pictures that the film aimed to "shed light on the absurdity of many kinds of intolerance and ignorance, including homophobia."
Stuever offered Post readers an inside look on July 9 at what it felt like to be a gay man watching "Bruno" and concluded that the movie didn't teach anything "other than sex is basically a total gross out."