You’ll LOL When You See The Differences Between Real Life and TV/Movies.

The entire world may be a stage, but that doesn’t mean anyone is recording. Despite your dramatic friend’s best efforts, your life is not a movie or television show. That isn’t to say that it will never be, but the odds of you becoming the next Raymond that everybody loves are not in your favor. (After all, where are you going to find a good studio audience to laugh at all of your jokes?) Not only that, but your life is nothing like the lives of people in film.

There are so many tiny everyday situations and items that Hollywood thinks is reality, but this definitely doesn’t happen in real life:

While some of us may still dream of being in a television show or movie, there’s no denying that not living in a fictitious world is probably for the best. If your life was actually a film, you’d have to sit through the credits.

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These Incredible Celebrity And Character Impressions Are Accurate AND Hilarious

I am horrible at accents and impressions of any kind.

This is why I love actors and actresses. It’s a whole skill set that I just don’t have, and watching people bring my favorite characters to life is one of the most exciting things about watching TV and movies.

Beyond that, though, I’m fascinated by those who can do impressions of those celebrities. It takes a lot of work studying speech patterns and voice tones that are far too subtle for me to pick up on.

Jay and George over at Stuntbear do a particularly amazing job, running through 25 distinct celebrity and character impressions in just two and a half minutes.

Youtube / stuntbear

Read More: This Guy’s Incredible Impressions Will Entertain You For Days

I’m gonna have to keep practicing my Walter White, but these guys have got it down. Again! Again!

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“Empire,” “Jane The Virgin,” And The Nonwhite Family Melodrama

One’s an unprecedented hit and the other won The CW its first Golden Globe. But more importantly, Empire and Jane The Virgin are both doing some of the most unique and progressive work on television today.

From left: Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett), Tiana Brown (Serayah), Hakeem Lyon (Bryshere Gray), Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson), Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealey), Lucious Lyon (Terrence Howard), Andre Lyon (Trai Byers), and Rhonda Lyon (Kaitlin Doubleday) on Fox’s Empire

Chuck Hodes / FOX

The Villanueva women — Alba (Ivonne Coll), Jane (Gina Rodriguez), and Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) — on The CW’s Jane the Virgin

Tyler Golden/The CW


The first scene of Fox’s new, ratings-demolishing series Empire doesn’t introduce the cast of characters that will make up the tapestry of the show. It doesn’t tour the mansions that will serve as its backdrop, or offer the titillation that will punctuate it. But within two minutes, it sets the register in which the rest of the series will operate.

A young woman sings a verse and a chorus in a recording studio as a producer, played by Terrence Howard, watches from the booth. Her voice is beautiful, but you can tell that he’s unsatisfied. “I need you to sing like you are going to die tomorrow,” he interrupts, “Like this is the last song you will ever sing, you hear me? Show me the soul in this music.” Another failed try later, she launches into the next-level take: the same words, the same melody, but it’s also evoking something visceral, fundamental, ineffable.

That’s the register in which Empire has continued to play throughout its debut season thus far: over the top, manipulative, bombastic. But those are all pejoratives ladled on a mode of entertainment that, for all its excess, is capable of expressing profound and often unspeakable truths about marginalization and oppression, and of articulating the impossibility and helplessness of living in a world defined by contradictions.

That mode is melodrama — and family melodrama in particular, one of the most resilient and influential artistic forms of the last century. On television, we’ve had Dallas and Dynasty, most famously, but also Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, Nashville, The O.C., Revenge, Big Love, and Parenthood, and dozens more. And one of the things uniting all of those shows is whiteness — Italian-American whiteness, Californian whiteness, country whiteness, but whiteness nonetheless.

Yet what distinguishes Empire, as well as The CW’s Jane the Virgin — the two most recent (and successful) entries into the category — is their near exclusion of whiteness, and the ways in which that exclusion liberates both shows to focus on issues specific to their subjects and their places in America.

On the surface, the premise of Jane the Virgin sounds straight-up ridiculous: A woman is accidentally artificially inseminated and becomes pregnant with the baby of her wealthy boss. There’s much more to the story, but the premise primarily rotates around the axis of Jane (Gina Rodriguez); her immediate family; the father of her baby, Rafael (Justin Baldoni); and their future as a closely bound if totally untraditional family. Oh, and nearly everyone is Latino. Because both Jane the Virgin and Empire blatantly invert the ethnocentricity that guides most network television series, in which people of color serve to support the white main characters that dominate the narrative.

Jane (Gina Rodriguez) and her mother Xiomara (Andrea Navedo) on Jane the Virgin Greg Gayne/The CW

While melodrama is distinguished by its embrace and accentuation of emotion, one of the genre’s most radical achievements has always been its ability to explore “heavy” and uncomfortable massive societal issues by mapping them onto personal. Thus, otherwise easily dismissible and/or readily watchable narratives become ones of love and family. As a result, the personal doesn’t become political so much as the political becomes embodied. In simple or straightforward melodrama, that characterization is as simple as good and evil, right and wrong: unquestionable hero against equally unquestionable evil.

But in the family melodrama, it becomes much more. The first gay characters showed up in a made-for-TV movie (read: melodrama) all the way back in 1972; a “football show” like Friday Night Lights played out narratives of class and abortion; and a procedural melodrama like Scandal makes the politics of an interracial romance its fundamental source of conflict.

And in the worlds of Empire and Jane the Virgin, each character takes on an attitude or ideology, often accentuated or dictated by his/her generation. Empire is composed of aforementioned producer Lucious Lyon (Howard), his three sons, his fresh-out-of-jail ex-wife Cookie (Taraji P. Henson), and his quest to find a successor for Empire Entertainment before he succumbs to ALS. Lucious is the ruthless father, desperate to pass along his legacy as he hides the fatal illness that will wrest away his power. He also represents a distinctly old-school attitude not only to hip-hop, but work ethics and sexual politics. In the first 10 minutes of the pilot, he tells a group of investors that he started selling drugs as a child simply to survive on the street, and makes it clear that he thinks “sissies,” like his middle, gay son, Jamal (Jussie Smollett), have no place in hip-hop.

Beside Lucious, there’s Cookie, his equally pragmatic ex-wife, hardened by nearly 20 years in prison. She’s unruly, disrespectful, and brassy, with a particular attitude toward adversity: If someone says no, she reasons, make them say yes.

Lucious and Cookie Lyon’s eldest son Andre (Trai Byers) on Empire

Michael Lavine / FOX

Lucious and Cookie Lyon’s middle son Jamal (Jussie Smollett) on Empire

Michael Lavine / FOX

Lucious and Cookie Lyon’s youngest son Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) on Empire

Michael Lavine / FOX


The Lyon sons each represent a different path to success: Andre (Trai Byers), the eldest, has gone full bourgie, attending Penn, marrying a white woman (Kaitlin Doubleday), stripping his voice of accent and his conversation of language that could mark him as other. He also lacks the musical skills of his younger brothers, seemingly doomed to disappoint. Middle brother Jamal’s gayness also works to mark him as emotional: He plays John Legend-like piano riffs that barely mask the inner turmoil of his father’s implicit rejection. And the youngest, Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) — with his swagger and aggressive womanizing — takes up the role of the stereotypical rapper: talented, entitled, abrasive, the sort of young black man who’s not “a credit to his race.”

Over the handful of episodes, however, each character has complicated the trajectory of his or her type: Cookie is self-conscious, Jamal is ambitious, Hakeem is insecure. But each represents a slightly different take on what it means to be black in America, with corresponding attitudes toward the politics of respectability, the achievement of the American Dream, or how to manifest love and sadness and fear.

Jane the Virgin illustrates a similar dynamic, spread out over the three generations of Villanueva women, and defined, broadly, by the politics of immigration. There’s the eldest generation — Alba (Ivonne Coll) — who lacks papers and lives in constant fear of deportation. She regularly communicates in Spanish; she’s fiercely religious; it’s on her request that her granddaughter Jane vow to remain a virgin until marriage.

Alba’s daughter, Xiomara (Andrea Navedo), is an American citizen, embodying the first-gen immigration ethic. She’s also defined by her resistance to her mother: She got pregnant at 16; she sleeps around; she loves dancing. Pious she is not. She rarely, if ever, speaks Spanish, and is generally a disaster at replicating the signifiers of her culture, especially when it comes to food.

Jane represents a fusion of the ideologies embodied by her mother, Xo, and her grandmother, Alba. She speaks and understands Spanish; she respects her grandmother’s wishes for her to remain a virgin. She’s working her way through school; she’s respectful and loving but focused on avoiding the mistakes of her mother. She’s a proud, fully integrated American, speaking with accentless English, and shopping at Target.

Other characters represent even further ideas of what it means to be Latino/a in America, like the privileged Miami playboy in the case of Rafael, and the hilariously gaudy telenovela star with Jane’s biological father Rogelio de la Vega (Jaime Camil). Like Empire, Jane the Virgin doesn’t suggest that these are the only ways of being Latino/a in America, but they are several of the examples which, when thrown together, act out the various tensions and glories of working out identity over a day, a year, a lifetime.

Interactions between family members — and, by extension, the ideologies they represent — are amplified by proximity. Apart from an occasional trip to a club or the back of a car, the primary homes and offices of Empire feel as claustrophobic as the emotional space real estate collapses in. Same with Jane the Virgin, which limits its locations to the Villanueva home and the hotel owned by Rafael.

Some of the overlaps makes sense; others are unlikely. But plausibility matters less than the way in which the proximity accelerates and amplifies the narrative. It’s like real life, on steroids. Every door slam bears intense meaning: It’s not just anger; it’s literally shutting the door on a past life or action. Lucious shoving a young Jamal in the garbage can, Cookie taking the head of the dinner table, Rogelio gifting Jane with a car, and the loss of Abuela’s rosary all become pregnant with narrative-altering significance.

Jane’s father, telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega (Jaime Camil), on the set of his show The Passions of Santos, on Jane the Virgin The CW

And then there’s the aesthetics. In melodrama, excess overflows into the mise-en-scene, manifesting in wardrobe, set, weather, everything. On Jane the Virgin, it happens most overtly (and deliciously) in the scenes from the telenovela on which Rogelio stars that is nested within the series. The painted sunset and exotic jungle reflect Rogelio’s grand emotional gestures and his latest object of affection. (Or a recent episode, in which the intense turmoil between characters overflowed into….an actual hurricane).

Jane the Virgin showrunner Jennie Urman has discussed how she worked with set designers to create specific palettes for each character and set: Jane in blues, the hotel bathed in light, and no one, ever, in red. That aesthetic might seem like a natural extension of the show’s Miami setting, but it also communicates the way in which Jane attempts to solve its inherent conflicts: This is a show in which operating in the open — in truth and transparency — is valorized.

By comparison, the palette of Empire is replete with the deep veneers of dark lipstick and black Escalades, the lushness of fur and deep velvet. It’s a show obsessed with texture and surface, which reflects its narrative concern with image and the ways in which the performance thereof can mask the darkness and despair within. Several characters live some variation of a double life — a tension that plays out in the deep contrasts between the spotlights and dark corners that characterize the nightclub, the press conference, even the bank of the river where Lucious orchestrates [SPOILER ALERT] the execution of his longtime confidant.

Wardrobe also always contributes to character, but it becomes particularly significant in melodrama: Jane’s sundresses reflect her modest, sunny disposition; Xiomara’s cut-off jean shorts and wedges tell you everything you need to know about the type of woman she wants to be.

On Empire, Cookie’s lush outfits communicate loudly, especially when compared to her ex-husband’s new wife’s ensembles — the former debutante looks like she walked out of an Ann Taylor catalogue. The two would clash regardless, but their clashing style highlights their varying upbringings, worldviews, and expressions of femininity that undergird their conflict.

Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson) on Empire


Anika Calhoun (Grace Gealey) on Empire



Only with a family melodrama can clothing mean that much, addressing enduring tensions of class, skin color, and assimilation within the black community. And only with a family melodrama, can a show on The CW explicitly address the practice of “medical repatriation,” in which undocumented immigrants, once hospitalized, can be deported back to their country, even when gravely ill. Because these issues of identity are embedded into the very details of every scene, they feel far less didactic and hackneyed than the after-school specials or “very special episodes” of the ‘80s and ‘90s that attempted to reduce larger issues into a single plotline.

There’s a potential danger, of course, in transforming systemic issues into ones that primarily take place on the level of the individual. It encourages audiences to view change for one person — Alma’s narrow avoidance of medical repatriation, for example — as enough. Systemic problems remain, but the salvation of the individual character,with whom the audience has connected, feels cathartic. Melodrama can depict and narrativize these issues, then, but it can also inoculate viewers from doing anything about them.

But there’s only so much straightforward thinking one can do about a particular issue: You can read the news, contemplate the tragedies of an issue, feel sad, post to Facebook, join a protest. What melodrama enacts, then, is a sort of narrative that not only makes Latino and African-Americans protagonists in their own narratives — instead of guest stars and plotpoints in others — but encourages people who might feel alienated or distant from those struggles to identify not necessarily with the particulars of existence, but the universalities of the human experience.

The emotionality and excess that make it easy to dismiss Jane the Virgin and Empire are also an entryway to a world that some might not otherwise consider. These shows aren’t what some term “quality television,” and even Gina Rodriguez’s Golden Globe win for her turn as Jane isn’t enough to make many take it seriously. But that doesn’t mean these melodramatic shows aren’t doing some of the most important, unique, and even progressive work on television today.

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The Funniest Woman In Hollywood Is In Search Of Her Next Big Role

As Season 10 of It’s Always Sunny gears up, Olson looks ahead to what a life after Sweet Dee would be like. Sometimes I’m like, Oh well, they just wanted a young pretty person, rather than a funny person.”

Kaitlin Olson is hating having her picture taken right now. The 39-year-old star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia doesn’t say this out loud, but it’s not hard to tell that she is deeply, deeply uncomfortable — though she’s nowhere near as awkward in her own skin as her character Sweet Dee, a caustic and narcissistic would-be thespian, on the FX (and now FXX) cult comedy. “Could you play a bit with the tree?” the photographer gently asks her.

It’s an unusually warm Friday afternoon, and Olson is standing in the backyard of her contemporary Sherman Oaks home. The lawn is sprawling, with a trampoline on one end and a pool at the other; toy cars and pint-sized seats, the cast-offs of her two young children, litter one corner. A stylist fixes Olson’s hair as she begrudgingly twists her fingers through the tree’s branches. “Just hanging out, touching my tree,” Olson says out loud, to no one in particular. “You like photo shoots? It’s pretty great, standing by yourself, taking photos.”

For a seasoned actor like Olson — who’s been working consistently for the past 15 years in comedy roles, turning up on Curb Your Enthusiasm as Becky, Cheryl’s loud and opinionated sister; as Mimi’s vengeful nemesis, Traylor, on The Drew Carey Show; and currently on New Girl as the free-spirited girlfriend of Jess’ dad — it’s surprising that she’s not used to the being the center of attention by now. But she’s decidedly not.

The truth is, though, that Olson feeling anxious about this interview and photo shoot is entirely understandable. She’s heading into a 10th season of Sunny, and while that’s a place any actor would envy being in, she’s also arriving at a crossroads in her career. As Sunny begins to wind down, Olson will soon be leaving a show on which she’s been a linchpin for 10 years, and will have to look around the corner to see what lies ahead for her career.

“Could you maybe relax your shoulders a bit more?” the photographer asks her, trying a different tack. “I don’t know,” Olson says, laughing at the word relaxed, “because I’m definitely not.”

Photograph by Macey Foronda for BuzzFeed

The biggest role in Olson’s career to date remains the 10 years she’s spent on Sunny as Deandra “Sweet Dee” Reynolds, a horrifying example of a human whose self-centered streak is often a driving force in the storyline. Such as in the Season 8 episode “The Gang Gets Analyzed,” when Dee’s therapist calls her out for lying about being the first choice as the female lead in The Notebook, and the episode ends with Dee repeating, “Tell me I’m good,” until her therapist finally relents. Or in a third season installment, “Dennis and Dee’s Mom Is Dead,” when Dee hears from a lawyer that she won’t be getting any inheritance, because she was “a mistake” (despite being Dennis’ twin), and her knee-jerk reaction is to dig up the grave so she can steal the jewelry off her mother’s dead body. But rather than be repulsed by her character’s more detestable nature, Olson has been able to connect with Dee.

“I can’t tell if I relate to her anymore or if I’m just so used to playing her and love her so much that it’s second nature,” Olson says. With the photographer and stylists gone, Olson finally seems more at ease, sitting at a long wooden outdoor table in her backyard and tucking her legs into her chest. “There’s a certain element of desperation and wanting people to like you… I was really shy. But I think because that was so sad for me when I was little, that it’s so hilarious and sad now, that I relate to that. I like this character’s way of handling it, way more than how I handled it. Which is, like, aggressively and angrily. Maybe it’s cathartic. I don’t know.”

“I was really proud to make Larry [David] laugh. The more I would yell at him the more he would laugh.”

And Olson not only relates to the idea of needing to fit in, but it’s something that’s apparent just from talking to Olson. Often she’ll end sentences with “I don’t know,” like she’s trying to take back what she just said in case you don’t like it. Several times, she stops herself from answering a question with “I don’t know if I can answer that question. I don’t want you to print anything I have to say,” or “I don’t know how to answer that, again, without having it in print sound like I’m being a real arrogant asshole.” Refusing to answer tough questions about Hollywood and her role in it proves doubly problematic though, and she softens the blow by pointing at the recorder and saying, “I’ll tell you when your thing’s off.”

That need to be liked started long before Olson made it to Hollywood, and it’s what initially led her to start performing. Olson grew up in perhaps the most un-Hollywood setting — on a six-acre farm in Oregon. Olson says her mom would whistle when it was time for dinner, and if you wanted a snack, you just ate out of the garden.

“Nobody was an actor,” Olson says of her family. “I started doing summer camp stuff in elementary school and loved doing the plays. I liked making people laugh. I remember that specifically, being really young and having my parents being in the audience and laughing. It wasn’t really a Oh, I’m the center of attention feeling, it was more Oh, I’m making them so happy right now feeling. I liked that.”

Olson — with Julie Payne, Cheryl Hines, and Paul Dooley — rails at Larry (Larry David) on Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO

That sense of accomplishment — of making someone happy — is what drove her to attend the University of Oregon and major in acting, and it’s what would eventually take her to Los Angeles to fully commit to her vocation. “I thought it was beautiful. It was so sunny. It’s so cloudy and gray and rainy in Oregon,” Olson says of moving to Los Angeles. “I didn’t understand how anyone could ever be sad or depressed here. It was so beautiful.”

She took classes at The Groundlings and eventually made it into the Sunday company. To support herself, Olson worked three jobs: as a recruiter for a biotech company; as a receptionist in a hair salon; and as a salesperson at a boutique shop. “I worked hard,” Olson says. That determination paid off when she landed an audition for Larry David’s HBO comedy Curb Your Enthusiasm. “I’m not the ballsiest person, so I was very proud of myself for getting it,” Olson says. “I was really proud to make Larry laugh. The more I would yell at him the more he would laugh. Which was really fantastic. I loved that.”

Patrick McElhenney/©FXX / courtesy Everett Collection

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia originally started as a “writing exercise,” according to Rob McElhenney, who made a $200 homemade video pilot with Charlie Day and Glenn Howerton in an apartment. That pilot then sold to FX in 2005, and was given a budget of $400,000, less than a third of the cost of a traditional network comedy. It was shot with the caveat that they’d need to reframe the original storyline from being centered on three actors in Los Angeles to a group of friends who tend bar in Philly.

According to Howerton, one of the show’s executive producers, who also plays Sweet Dee’s twin brother, Dennis Reynolds, on the show, Olson came up against some stiff competition for the role of the hilariously vulnerable Dee; the final two actors considered were Olson and Kristen Wiig, according to Howerton, but in the end Olson landed it. (Wiig’s publicist did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

“I knew her work from seeing her in Curb,” Howerton tells BuzzFeed News. “We wanted to find somebody who could be as funny as the guys, and we felt a lot of times in comedies, girls are so often relegated to the ‘oh, you guys’ role.”

Day, who fans know best as the ever-screaming and always emotionally unstable Charlie Kelly, echoes the sentiment that casting Olson was a no-brainer.

“We were blown away by how funny she was,” says Day. “I can’t think of an overall impression other than our general excitement that we found someone who was really right for this part.”

Oddly enough, it was McElhenney — to whom Olson is now married — who was less than convinced about her. During the audition, Olson accidentally left out a critical line in the script they’d given her, and McElhenney was nonplussed, to say the least.

Howerton and Olson in an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia FX

“I left the room and Rob was like, How did she leave out the funniest line that was in there? and he didn’t want to cast me,” Olson says. “Rob, who I’ve now married, had to be talked into hiring me.”

The first time Olson and McElhenney met was during her audition, and despite any apprehension he had, she was cast as Dee, and the show premiered in 2005. Somewhere during filming Season 2, the pair started dating, though they wouldn’t officially come out as a couple until the show’s third season.

“Literally, the stupidest thing you can do in the entertainment industry is start dating your co-star on a television series that’s expected to continue,” McElhenney says in a phone interview. “Potentially, we could’ve ruined the dynamic of the TV series, but we jumped in anyway. I guess because I started to fall in love with her.” His voice softens as he says it.

They married in 2008 and have two sons, Axel (age four) and Leo (age two).

Mary Elizabeth Ellis, who plays The Waitress on Sunny and is married to Charlie Day in real life, first met Olson when they were on a flight to shoot the pilot. “The guys flew to Philly early, and I flew on a flight with Kaitlin,” Ellis explains. “We had a lot of cocktails together and were like, OK, you’re great, we’re going to be best friends.”

Ellis vividly remembers the moment when she found out Olson and McElhenney were dating. It was during a press junket, and they all sat down in a hotel room. “They were like, ‘We have something to tell you guys,’ and Kaitlin just starts crying and says, ‘I love him. I love him so much, you guys. He’s such a great person. We don’t want you guys to be mad at us because we’re dating and on the show,’” Ellis says, laughing. “It just made us laugh so hard, because it was such a funny way to reveal that they were dating for the first time. They’re just so great together.”

Patrick McElhenney/FX

None of this would have happened if Olson had chosen not to take the role of Sweet Dee, which she considered in those early days.

The character was written as the typical straight man, which Olson had no interest in playing. “There were three episodes that were already written that I had to do that were just very like, ‘You guys. Come on, you guys. That’s stupid, you guys,’” Olson says. “But I was very clear about not wanting to do that.” (“I don’t think we did a great job writing her character the first season,” Howerton says.)

It speaks to Olson’s character that she wasn’t willing to just simply lay down and read the lines she was dealt; she took an active role in shaping the character and how she wanted to play Dee. “She pulled Rob aside, because he was the showrunner, and said she didn’t want to do the show if her character wasn’t funny,” Howerton says.

Olson only took the role after many conversations with McElhenney about how the character of Dee would be shaped. “He was like, ‘Look, we just don’t know how to write for a woman, but we’ll figure it out,’” Olson says. “And I was like, ‘Well then, don’t write for a woman. Just write — look at all these great funny characters you wrote. Just write one of those. I’ll make it female.’”

Despite initial character setbacks, the Dee of the past nine seasons is hilarious, and the most physically comedic role on the show. (Witness her free-form dance moves.) Dee’s actions don’t fall victim to the conventions usually dealt to women in comedy. Dee was Bridesmaids before there even was a Bridesmaids. She is crude beyond belief at times. She flails her arms and spits venomous, half-baked threats at anyone within earshot. She falls — a lot — and fake-vomits so convincingly that it’s become a running gag on the show. “I’ve never heard somebody do a gag so funny,” Howerton says. “You know, suppressing puke, it’s just a weird gift she has.”

Olson runs head-first into a parked car on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia FX

In the second season episode “Charlie Gets Crippled,” Olson wears a back brace and hobbles on crutches as she drags her legs behind her. In “Who Pooped The Bed?” she runs out of a shoe store in stilettos and slams headfirst into a car so hard that there’s a dent, a stunt Olson performed without a stunt double.

“We had a stuntwoman do it, and it didn’t look very real, and then Kaitlin did it, and actually ran into the car, probably almost breaking her neck,” Day says with a laugh. “It’s just one of the funniest moments of physical comedy I think in the history of the show.”

Olson furrows her brows as she stares across the lawn. “I don’t want the stunt double to do it, unless it’s like a quick thing, because that’s part of the acting. I want to do that,” she says. “There’s a lot of acting that happens in between the running out and the head-hitting.”

The only problem is that Olson is extremely clumsy. “If there is a tack on the floor, she will step on it,” Howerton says. During the filming of Sunny, Olson has broken her back, her foot, her heel, and while on set, she fell through a floorboard and ripped her calf open on a metal spike.

“Our idea of Dee was not as physical as Kaitlin is,” McElhenney says. “It’s something we sort of found with the way she carries herself.”

Olson sighs. “I’m very long,” she says. “I’m very unaware of how long my limbs are and I bash into things a lot, and Rob makes fun of me a lot… I’ll do something and Rob will tell me to do it again and I didn’t even know it was funny.”

Photograph by Macey Foronda for BuzzFeed

Olson is, as Howerton says, nothing like her Sweet Dee character, though fans of the show often have a hard time accepting that. “They assume I’m drunk and loud and that I want to do shots and stay up all night,” she says, laughing.

The home that Olson shares with McElhenney is immaculate, despite the fact that they have two children under the age of four. When her youngest, Leo, comes home from school, her entire face lights up and she wraps him in a warm hug before excusing herself to put him down for a nap. And an ideal Friday evening is one spent at home, according to both Olson and McElhenney. “A perfect night is coming home, having dinner, putting the kids to bed, and opening a bottle of wine and watching Game of Thrones,” McElhenney says.

Olson is often described by those who know her as nurturing and protective — “I think of her as a lioness,” McElhenney says. “She’s extremely protective of her children, like I fear oftentimes for my life if I cross a line. I’m afraid she’s going to snap my fucking neck. The way a female lion might with her cubs.” — very un-Dee qualities. She was “raised by hippies” in Oregon (McElhenney’s words) and cooks organic food, grows herbs in her garden, and uses homeopathic remedies.

“My motherhood life is sort of private … it’s so special to me I don’t want it attacked or to have that part be annoying to people.”

“She’ll pick something from the garden to heal a wound and it will magically disappear,” her friend and fellow actor Tricia O’Kelley (of Gilmore Girls and Devious Maids) says. Day: “In the 10 years that we’ve been doing [the show], I don’t think I’ve ever seen her get a cold. That’s quite an accomplishment.”

Her weakness is watching any of the Real Housewives shows, and she says that if she ever does get time to relax, she’ll check into a hotel nearby to “literally just order room service with a girlfriend and get massages and drink wine and watch Bravo.”

And because her private life is so starkly different from her television persona, she tends to keep it under wraps. “I feel like people only want to hear me say funny things. Like, I don’t tweet about my kids or being a mom ever, because I’m very aware that that’s annoying for people to hear,” Olson says. “So everything is true, but I just feel like my motherhood life is sort of private, because it’s so special to me I don’t want it attacked or to have that part be annoying to people.”

And everyone around Olson mentions how her role as a mother is an enormous part of her identity. “Motherhood has changed her a lot for sure, it’s by far her number one priority is those children,” O’Kelley says. “Everything else comes in a distant second. Her family as a whole — Rob, their marriage — her family is her priority.”

When asked what he sees as being next for Olson, her husband agrees that while her career is a priority, family will always come first for them. “She would love to build out a movie career and see what’s next in television,” McElhenney says. “But I do know the thing that’s most important to her now is to make sure these boys are raised well.”

Olson concurs. “Parenthood has become number one,” she says. “So I’ll only take something if it fits in, and if it doesn’t interfere with my ability to be a good mom. And that’s the truth and that’s how it will always be, because I feel that.”

Photograph by Macey Foronda for BuzzFeed

Motherhood might be Olson’s priority at this point, but acting is a very real and large part of her world. “I would love to do more film,” she says at one point. “I really like TV, but yeah, in the interests of doing something different I would love to do more films.” She pulls at her silk shirt. “I’m not having any more babies. I want to work.”

In a year when Time named 2014 the “Best Year for Women Since the Dawn of Time,” it’s still a year where female-led comedy shows like Selfie, Super Fun Night, and Trophy Wife were canceled. And a year in which the most anticipated female-driven comedies — Tammy, Obvious Child, and They Came Together — made a very small dent in the film landscape. Obvious Child grossed just $3.1 million at the box office, and They Came Together grossed under $1 million. While Tammy was a financial success, making close to $100 million at the box office, if you compare that to male-driven buddy comedies like 22 Jump Street (which grossed close to $200 million), there seems to be a disconnect between what Hollywood is offering and what Americans are seeing.

“Look, I’m never going to understand what Middle America wants, because I’m on a show that Middle America doesn’t necessarily like, but I think is really funny,” Olson says, wrapping her arms across her chest. “I think there’s definitely a shift, and no one’s funnier than Melissa McCarthy and she’s doing really well, you know, so hopefully.”

Sasha Roiz and Olson on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia FX

Whether or not middle America likes Sunny or Olson, there does seem to be a shift happening. Ellen DeGeneres hosting the 2014 Oscars led to an 8% increase in viewership, and Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have hosted the Golden Globes for the past three years, but is that enough? “For sure, there’s not enough funny roles for women in Hollywood, period,” Howerton says. “I’m happy to say that we personally — in Sunny and other things that we’re working on and have written — always try to make it a priority to write funny female roles.”

Even if what Olson and Howerton say is true — that Middle America doesn’t like the kind of comedy Olson wants to do, and there aren’t enough comedic roles for women in general — what does that mean for Olson as she leaves Sunny to explore other roles? Where do you go when the film and television landscape isn’t in your favor?

Olson doesn’t seem entirely sure, other than that she’d like to try out a character who isn’t quite so heightened and extreme as Dee. “I don’t know that I want to do something super dramatic. Our show and our characters are so heightened; I would like to do a more realistic person, who’s going through something really hard, but deals with it in a humorous way,” she says. But at the moment, those aren’t the parts she’s being offered.

“What I get a lot of is ‘We know you can make this funny.’ Stuff that’s like, it’s OK, but then I’m supposed to make it funny,” Olson says. “It’s a great compliment… But I don’t know if I’m interested in taking something that’s OK and being the one that’s responsible for making it funny.”

“I think a lot of men are scared to act opposite a woman who is as funny as they are.”

When asked why she thinks she hasn’t been offered more roles at this point, Olson says, “Sometimes I’m like, oh well, they just wanted a young pretty person, rather than a funny person. That’s discouraging, because there’s nothing I can do about that.” Olson pauses, and then softens the blow with, “I love my job. I got really lucky. I love my character and this circumstance, but it is a little confusing why, in my off time, I’m not doing more. I can’t really blame it on ‘oh well, I’m pregnant’ anymore.”

The actors who have worked with Olson know what she’s capable of, and vehemently speak of her potential. “I’m pissed off at the world that she’s not a giant movie star,” Ellis says of Olson. “I just think she has so much to offer: She’s a great comedian but she’s also a great actress.”

For his part Howerton offered his own take. “I just think it’s a shame that she hasn’t been more recognized, and that more roles have not been thrown at her. I think a lot of men are scared to act opposite a woman who is as funny as they are, and who will give them a run for their money for being the funniest person in that project,” he says. “And I think a lot of times she doesn’t get cast in things because she’s so funny, and I think that’s fucked up.”

When asked if this was at all true, Olson appears hesitant to answer and seems borderline uncomfortable. She pauses before responding. “I hope not, but I feel like that’s happened a few times. I just hope that, if it is true, it starts to shift soon. Because it’s a shame. I don’t know if I can answer that question. I don’t want you to print anything I have to say.”

After a long pause — where she leans across the table, then sits back and re-tucks her legs into her chest — she says, “Yeah, I just, I love Glenn for saying that and for recognizing it, and, well, you know, Rob says all the time, he’s like, ‘Look. That must not be what America wants because if it were, you’d see more of it.’ People, women, want to see women being pleasant. But for some reason, we want to see men be really funny. I think that’s starting to change, you know, ever since Bridesmaids really. So that’s really awesome. I think that’s the part that I’ll focus on and just hang in there.”

During a time where Olson does have to consider and weigh every word she says, because those words could lead to her next big role or prevent her from landing it, it’s clear that she’s nervous about it all — about posing with the tree, how she’ll be perceived by viewers, and what people think of her, and wanting to be liked by an audience larger than the one she’s cultivated with Sunny. “I hope it’s not threatening for me to be as funny as I can be and work with a really funny man,” she says emphatically, straightening her posture and finally relaxing. “To me, that sounds like an amazing movie.”

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Gabrielle Union: “People Want To See Themselves Reflected On TV”

The Being Mary Jane star talks about life as a jobbing actor, the theft of her nude photos, and her “lesbian short film”.

Everett Collection/REX USA

It’s hard to believe it, but Gabrielle Union has been on our screens since the early ’90s: There she is in Family Matters (1993), for example, plus Moesha (1996), Sister, Sister (1997), and even, as a young Klingon warrior, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1997). In the late ’90s and ’00s, she made the leap on to the big screen by starring in teen classics She’s All That, 10 Things I Hate About You, and Bring It On, and hasn’t stopped working since.

Universal Pictures

Touchstone Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures


Now she’s back on the small screen, starring in BET’s Being Mary Jane. Of the feature-length pilot episode (created and written by TV veteran Mara Brock Akil), the San Francisco Chronicle said “the script is good enough to bring out the best in this cast”, and the Los Angeles Times called it “thematically ambitious”. The show is now on its second season, and last month was renewed for a third.

Union plays the title character, a TV news anchor in Atlanta trying her best to make the multiple strands of her life — work, family, and love — come together. Mary Jane is a complex woman: For every good decision, she makes at least two bad ones. The entirety of her Season 1 love life, usually caught between the push and pull of Andre (Omari Hardwick) and David (Stephen Bishop), was an object lesson in “How Not to Go About Your Love Life”.

But there is humour and humanity in her alongside the usual TV tropes of “career woman” and “Single Black Female” (which was the show’s original title). As the lead — and a black female lead is an occurrence that will hopefully be happening more and more in this post-Shonda Rhimes world — Union is in almost every scene, a formidable task that she seems to relish.

Akil Productions / BET

Ahead of Season 2 starting in the UK (at 10pm on March 9 on BET), BuzzFeed had a quick conversation with the star about fame, life as a jobbing actress, and the diversity hurdle Hollywood is still struggling to clear.

So what’s new in Being Mary Jane?

A lot of changes at work. Talk Back [the news programme Mary Jane presents] is taken in a new direction and she’s given a pretty big opportunity… Niecy [Mary Jane’s niece] moves in with her, and of course she’s on her second child with her second babydaddy with no job, no education, so there’s the fun of that. Niecy also has a new love interest — or a returning love interest, I guess…

Frenemies: We explore friendships that are not quite healthy — or equal.

And there are two new love interests, plus David. So she’s trying to figure out what’s happening with David, and get over his Season 1 finale bombshell and try to process that.

Akil Productions/BET

Akil Productions/BET


You’ve been working for such a long time. Do you still see yourself as a jobbing actress? What’s it like being famous?

I think as a black actress — because our road isn’t as easy as it appears — like, the jobs just aren’t sort of lined up like how you with see some of our white counterparts, who have, like…80 jobs. (laughs) Like, “I’ve finished this and then I go here, then there’s this, and…” their schedule is filled? It’s not exactly like that for us. So each job feels like a) a revelation, and b) you’re so freaking grateful, and then the worry starts: “OK, when, if this job ends, where does that leave me?”

But fame is something different. So being famous doesn’t necessarily translate to work. Those are two different things. Being famous is a weird thing, just… Today, we got in the car and the driver, I mean I have an alias, it’s kind of funny, and it in no way sounds like me. So he is looking for this weird name and I get in the car and he’s in the driver’s seat and I’m in the backseat. And he’s like (mimes awestruck, open-mouthed silence) but for a full minute. For a long time.

What was your face doing while he was staring?

I was just like, “Hey, how are you?” you know, whatever, and he’s like, “I know you!” but then he pulled it together.

Those are the moments where I feel like, “Oh, OK, shit. Yeah. I guess.”

And it’s funny, because oftentimes, the studios in the States, they’ll be like, “Oh, you don’t need to do any foreign press because your movies don’t do well over there.” And so for the longest, when I would come to the UK, or throughout Europe or Africa, or Asia, I’m assuming because “our movies don’t do well”, no one will know who I am. But from the first time I came to London, it was, “Gabrielle Union!” (points) I was like, “Wait — you haven’t seen my movies, though!” And they were like, “What?”

And somebody took me to Piccadilly Circus, where they sell all the bootleg movies, and all of our movies were doing brisk business! We didn’t know that. We didn’t know that by hook or by crook, our movies are being seen, and we’re known. Every time you’re kinda like, “Nobody’s going to know who I am,” and then they do.

Kevin Winter / Getty Images

How do you think Hollywood’s relationship with black actors has changed over the course of your career?

It goes in waves. It’s almost like the colours of fashion week, and someone will be like, “orange is the new black!” or “green is the new black!” So, some years we’re in and some years we’re not. Right now we’re in. But it’s because of the success of the Shonda block.

You know, not everyone includes Grey’s Anatomy, but it has an incredibly diverse cast. With the success of Grey’s, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder — and in the States, they come on in that order — she has a whole block of television that has done extremely well. And people want to replicate that success. So there has been more work.

Somebody asked, “Do you feel like it’s your time?” and I’m like, “I think it’s always been our time, we just didn’t all have the same watch.”

But I think finally TV and film are catching up with the diversity that is the global community and the fact that people want to see themselves reflected on TV. As many gains as African-American actresses have made on TV this season — and the last couple of seasons — where are our Latina actresses, where are our Asian, our Middle Eastern, our Native American actresses? And where is the diversity within those groups? We still have a ways to go. I don’t want to get too comfortable and pat myself on the back. There’s more to do.

Kevin Winter / Getty/BuzzFeed

What’s been your most challenging role? Is it Mary Jane? Is she the one you take home every night?

I think, with Being Mary Jane, the way we shoot it makes it an incredible career challenge. We shoot almost 10 pages a day, which is unheard of. The average is four, four and a half. You usually shoot one episode in nine days.

We shoot two episodes at a time, in about two weeks. It’s a lot of pages. And Mary Jane is in most of the scenes. So just the sheer volume of work a day makes it incredibly challenging. I don’t have a choice but to take it home with me because I have to prepare for the next day. So it’s… The physical toll of what we are actually doing is very challenging.

But probably, Cadillac Records was often the most challenging. Very rarely do I get those kinds of roles, and that was really a challenge. We shot that movie in a very short amount of time but I loved it.

Akil Productions/BET

You were recently a victim of the theft and leaking of nude photographs of female celebrities. You called it “a violation and a crime”. What do you think can be done?

Y’know, I don’t know. I wish I had a better answer. I’m not that tech-savvy to understand what can actually be done. As they were explaining it to me, for every new roadblock they put up for hackers, they’re working just as hard to get around it and to create other ways in. So, for sure, it is a sex crime; there’s no other way to look at it. Um, it was a theft. It was, you know, probably a few things, and it’s happening globally.

And that’s just pictures of you know, a naked body. All of your information — your credit, everything you could possibly want to keep near and dear and secure — is vulnerable. You look at what happened with Sony. I probably don’t have as many firewalls to protect my stuff as they do to protect those movies, and people easily got around that. All of your data. Your financial history… I’m glad it was just my boobs, you know what I mean? Like, your financial history is your footprint, is your fingerprint. You destroy that, you take that away from somebody, you’ve literally taken away their life. I mean, that’s how serious it is. So much of how we live and how we are able to live, our opportunities, are all somewhere online. Somewhere. So, they just did something yesterday, trying to regulate the speeds and all of that…

So I’d like to think that if you can regulate internet speeds, you can criminalise this sort of behaviour and be a little bit more — or a lot more — active in prosecuting and finding these hackers that are doing so much damage. And it’s not just about nude pictures, that’s just one aspect. Protect us. You know? Protect us. As consumers.

You want our money? Protect us.

Union in Ava DuVernay’s short film The Door. Brigitte Lacombe For Miu Miu

I wanted to talk about Ava DuVernay and the short film she directed you in, The Door, which I loved…

(interrupting) Thank you! OK, so I have a question for you, which has become my new “what colour is The Dress?” Did you see that? What do you think?

It’s black and blue…

OK, thank you! It’s just the three of us! Did you think my character in The Door was a lesbian?

No, I did not. I didn’t assume any sexuality.

It’s about 50:50. It’s clearly… Because you never see “the guy”. You don’t really see who she’s with. But people are like, “It was such a strong, feminist, lesbian…” I was like, a what? (laughs).You don’t really see who she’s with! But there’s no men in the film! Which, I guess people assume, because if there’s no men involved, it must be a lesbian film. So now, I’m like, “Did you see my lesbian short?”

Season 2 of Being Mary Jane starts at 10pm on 9 March on BET.

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The Weirdest, Craziest and Downright Cruelest Reality TV Shows of All Time.

There’s a certain stigma placed on reality TV shows. But reality television it is a reflection upon our society’s recent obsession with participation. Even scripted TV shows now air with a hashtag in the bottom right-hand corner. They do this so that the viewers can start conversations online about the show.

As video games become more and more cinematic, it would not be a huge leap for movies to become more interactive as well.

That may sound cool, but sometimes participation entertainment is just the wrong call.

1.) Penitents Compete (2009).

1.) Penitents Compete (2009). wikipedia A rabbi, an imam, a priest, and a monk walk into a reality TV show. This isn’t a joke, this was a real show on Turkish TV. The fab four were pitted against each other to convert 10 atheists to their religion per week. Before it went to air though the Turkish Caliphate refused to allow the imam to appear on the show and it all fell apart.

2.) ‘Susunu! Denpa Shōnen’ (1998).

2.) 'Susunu! Denpa Shōnen' (1998). weirdasiannews Challenges of this reality show included being forced to live naked alone in an apartment, living only on commercial sweepstakes and being locked in a room with only a TV screen that showed games of your favorite sports team. If your team wins you get to eat, if they lose you don’t. (It was as insane as it sounds.)

3.) Gaki no Tsukai (1989-present)

3.) Gaki no Tsukai (1989-present) blogspot If you get a question wrong in this popular Japanese tv game show, a man is slowly dropped with his butt and/or genitals directly in your face.

4.) All My Babies’ Mamas (2013).

4.) All My Babies' Mamas (2013). xxlmag Atlanta rapper Shawty Lo fathered 11 children with 10 different women over the years. The point of this (awful) show was to throw them all into the same house and see what happened. The NAACP petitioned against it and eventually Oxygen cancelled the show before it even aired.

5.) Megan Wants a Millionaire (2009).

5.) Megan Wants a Millionaire (2009). wikipedia Reality shows are sometimes accused of purposefully casting “crazy people” or people on the spectrum of mental instability, but it wasn’t until Rock of Love contestant Megan Hauserman’s spin-off show that people realized that might not be such a great thing. After the third episode aired, it was discovered that one of the contestants had murdered his ex-wife and had put her body in a suitcase.

6.) The Swan (2004).

6.) The Swan (2004). sheknows Each contestant was given a beauty team. Each time included a coach, therapist, trainer, cosmetic surgeon, and a dentist. The goal was to have an “ugly duckling” transformation into a beautiful swan. It aired for two seasons. The cancellation was probably a direct result of the horrible message it sent to kids about accepting their appearances.

7.) Welcome to the Neighborhood.

7.) Welcome to the Neighborhood. spokesman Several decidedly non-rich and non-white families (for example: a black family, a gay couple, a poor family, etc.) vie to be in an exclusively rich-white suburban community in Texas. During the first episode, one member of the judging panel (which consisted of members of the community) openly declared that he would not tolerate homosexuals in his neighborhood. The show was cancelled before it aired to sponsors pulling out.

8.) Mr. Personality (2003).

8.) Mr. Personality (2003). theweek The concept of this show wasn’t actually that weird: twenty bachelors competed for the love of one contestant, forbidden to talk about their jobs and forced to wear creepy phantom of the opera masks so that she couldn’t see their faces and rely solely on personality. The concept could have survived if it wasn’t for the bizarre choice of host. Monica Lewinsky hosted this show for a season until viewers I guess were like, “Well, that was that, but I’m done with this.”

9.) Man vs. Beast (2003).

9.) Man vs. Beast (2003). isureandgo “Hey I wonder if orangutans can climb things fast than humans can?”–some stoned Fox executive.

10.) Mars One (2024)

10.) Mars One (2024) gizmag Because the cost of a one way trip to Mars goes about 6 billion dollars these days, most of the funds for the Mars One trip will be recovered by a global reality television show that will begin with the astronaut selection, and continue through the first few years of living on the new world.

There you have it. Reality television may be the future, but it’s up to us how weird we want that future to be.

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