Friday Five: Lena Dunham’s Version of ‘Oleanna,’ The Best Use of Rihanna And PJ Harvey At The End Credits Of A Show, And The Most Flattering Blouse Of All Time

+ Moonlight won! I know everyone’s talking about that Best Picture Oscar craziness, but I still am so psyched that a small indie microbudget movie about a poor black gay male’s coming-of-age experience won an Academy Award. If you haven’t seen it, please rent it — or see it when it hits theaters again this weekend. All the performances are stellar — Mahershala Ali’s performance won an Oscar, but honestly, everyone was so incredible. Barry Jenkins directed a genuinely indelible work of art, one that speaks to anyone who has been imprisoned in a loneliness that seems so hard to break out of — and it deserves all the speeches in the spotlight it can get.

+ I know I mentioned Girls a bit last week, but WOW — last week’s episode deserves its own essay. Longtime Girls watchers know that most seasons feature a nice little ‘standalone’ episode that functions almost like its own short movie — they stand apart from the season and yet major epiphanies tend to happen in them. For me, they’ve been some of my favorite Girls episodes — and often some of the most finely directed ones, as well. This one was probably the most polemical — Hannah goes and meets with a total hombre writer type (played by Matthew Rhys) that she’s written what sounds like a scathing online article about. He’s one of her favorite writers, but has been accused of taking advantage of several undergrads on his recent book tour. They argue about sexuality, consent, power and other hot-button issues, seem to come to some kind of detente…and then something gross and genuinely disturbing happens, in true Girls fashion. The episode almost functions like Lena Dunham’s answer to David Mamet’s ‘Oleanna,’ if that gives any clue about the concerns and emotional timbre of the episode — and I have to say, it’s incredibly well done from directing to performances to the writing, and a great episode of television. Plus: best use of Rihanna at the end of a filmed entertainment, EVER. (My favorite song from ‘Anti’!)

+ I just started Big Little Lies on HBO — whoa, it’s like Femme Sunday on HBO at the moment — but this makes the part of my brain that’s a cultural critic about class, gender and toxic motherhood light up like a Christmas tree in December! Interestingly, it’s been getting great reviews, but the word-of-mouth around me personally (which is from primarily dudes, which in itself is interesting, if you know what I mean) is how much they don’t like this show. I can understand why — because, honestly, part of me would run the other way if I was ever stuck with some of these characters in real life. They are harsh, competitive, self-righteous, arrogant and self-satisfied (qualities I might add I find annoying in men as well as women!) If these were my fellow moms at my son’s school, I’d be all ‘OK NOW WE HOMESCHOOL.’ But the great gift of the actresses in Big Little Lies — Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley and Zoe Kravitz — is that they dig deep and find the humanity, vulnerabilities and complexities of the sometimes brittle, shiny surfaces. The setting is glossy and super-privileged and the problems read as #firstworldproblems at first, for sure — but it gets to the way a certain expectations around womanhood and women’s roles can really fail women overall, even when they are cosseted in riches and wealth. I find it fascinating, smart and well-acted — and it’s great to see women being fully human onscreen, as tough as some dudes seem to find it. (Ugh, can we get over this ‘likeability’ requirement already?)

(Plus: the first episode features the best use of a PJ Harvey song from ‘Is This Desire?’ at the end of a filmed entertainment!)

+ This article promises to be “THE ULTIMATE RELATIONSHIP GUIDE TO END ALL RELATIONSHIP GUIDES.” And while I can’t quite judge that boast accurately — I would never presume to know much about relationships, honestly! — I would say it’s pretty good. It says some pretty common things — have realistic expectations, for example — but the part about the most important factor in a relationship’s success is actually respect, no communication goes against the typical shallow relationship article on the Internet. What would you add?

+ This week’s featured outfit was a perfect storm of having a well-curated closet meets #momlife. At the beginning of this week, I was feeling super drained after a full day of morning toddler wrangling, job, writing, more job and then working out. I got home, took a shower and changed into my pajamas. I was ready to just crash at home, but then I realized little Budgie needed an outing — and my partner was also tired from watching him all day. So I decided to throw on jeans and a shirt and take Budge to the mall. (Which he adorably calls “Look-At-Books” because we always go to the bookstore when we go to the mall!) Despite the dashed off nature of the outfit, it felt really nice and easy — skinny jeans and a Tucker blouse. Tucker’s flagship blouse is basically a cult item because it’s both supremely comfortable, available in tons of quirky prints and flattering to a wide variety of body types. (It’s also a great nursing top, as well!) I also tossed on my knee-high riding boots, which I haven’t worn in awhile — it’s been nothing but ankle boots for quite some time in terms of fashion, but I forget what a nice lean line a knee-high boot gives you. It’s so nice when something you just throw on works and makes you feel great!

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