Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
How do you make women funny? Add alcohol.
That’s what you’d gather from NBC’s new lineup, featuring the return of “Whitney” (I know, I hadn’t realized it’d gone away either) and the new sitcom “Are You There, Chelsea?” – a block it calls “Happy Hour Wednesday.” Yet from what we’ve seen of “Whitney” already and the already grim-looking previews for “Chelsea?” I can think of few things less likely to induce Wednesday happiness. To be fair, though, the odds are good they’ll make you want to reach for the Cuervo.
Based on Chelsea Handler’s best-selling, liquor-fueled memoir, “Are You There?” features “That ’70s Show’s” Laura Prepon as a gleefully boozy, slutty party gal who prays to the higher power of vodka for the strength to get out of DUIs and awkward same-sex overtures. Chelsea, we are incessantly reminded, is a free spirit (i.e., a lovable skank), attempting to get down to earth with the assistance of her virginal roommate and dowdy sister — played, with dowdy brunetteness, by none other than Chelsea Handler herself.
The Chelsea character is meant to be a mess, but she’s also meant to be hotter than any other gal in the room, and way more fun than her “judgy super-Christian sister.” She’s a natural “Happy Hour” companion to Whitney, she of similar sexy-dork shtick and the wacky jokes about drinking water like it’s vodka. Hilarious bits involving drunk driving, little people and homophobia ensue!
Of course, there’s plenty of genuine comedy to be found in excess, regardless of which gender is falling down. That’s why “The Hangover” wasn’t called “That Time a Bunch of Guys Drank Mineral Water and Nothing Happened.” “Bridesmaids” might still have been a runaway smash without Kristin Wiig’s liquored-up airplane scene, but it was an undeniable showstopper nonetheless. And it’s notable that “Chelsea” debuts the same week that one of the all-time champs of inebriated comedy has staged a brief return. “Absolutely Fabulous” always was – and blessedly remains – based largely on the humor inherent from well-dressed ladies face-planting out of taxicabs.
Yet there’s something different in the whole Chelsea-Whitney NBC Happy Hour. It starts with its weird assumption that the notion of Girls Behaving Badly (actual title of another Chelsea Handler show) is somehow, in this day and age, groundbreaking. That’s pretty much all it takes, by the way, for Handler to earn L.A. Times critic Robert Lloyd’s breathless accolade of “real” twice in a single recent paragraph. But what really sets it apart is the whiff of voyeuristic creepiness about building a prime-time block around willowy females who dress up sexy and get their drink on. Is this really the same network that figured out how to give us the complicated, hilarious – and very different – characters of Reagan Brinkley, Leslie Knope and Liz Lemon?
Worse, though, Happy Hour reinforces the stereotype of ladies as inherently less funny than dudes. Chelsea’s humor, after all, hinges upon her being like a guy — someone who sleeps around and gets “lady wood” — but has conveniently appealing blond hair and boobs. It’s an interesting if depressing ploy, especially coming on the heels of Meghan Daum’s recent declaration that Christopher Hitchens was right about women not being funny because “they’re afraid of what they’ll have to give up in exchange, for instance the coy mysteriousness that men supposedly prize above all else.” I think Daum is dead wrong, but I can’t help noticing what a neat workaround alcohol provides for the kind of person who does indeed believe that vaginas render a human unamusing. Drinking gives the female permission to be messed up and aggressive — all the things that make for comedy — and then go back to being “coy” and cute.
But there’s got to be more to a woman, even a fictional one, than “Look at me, I’m so naughty.” Some depth of character, some occasional jokes. Because the girl at the bar slurring “I’m sooooo drunk” is just a punch line, not a promising premise upon which to hinge an entire series. And alcohol only makes people interesting when you’re the one doing the drinking.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.