Sisterhood Blog

Aly Raisman Survives First 'DWTS' Elimination

By Lilit Marcus

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Gold medalist Aly Raisman has great moves off the mat, too.
Good news, Aly Raisman fans: The Olympic gymnast is more than safe following the first elimination on “Dancing with the Stars.” Aly’s Quickstep (watch it below!) was fun and bouncy, but it also showed off her ballroom technique, and her scores put her in third place for the week. Though she’s not as flashy a dancer as Disney star and current show champ Zendaya, Aly is showing that she works hard and is great at handling complicated footwork — not a shock, considering she has a gold medal in the floor exercise.

So, who did get eliminated this week? The bottom two were Real Housewife Lisa Vanderpump and boxer Victor Ortiz, but ultimately Olympic figure skating legend Dorothy Hammill opted to drop out of the show following an injury. If we were betting people, we’d bet that Aly has quite a few more weeks of solid dancing ahead of her.

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Jewish 'Downton Abbey'

By Sarah Seltzer

Getty Images
Shirley MacLaine of ‘Downton Abbey’

Last night, British period drama “Downtown Abbey” had its stateside premiere of the third season — to the accompaniment of thousands of excited tweets. And at least for this “Masterpiece Classic” fangirl, one of the highlights of the first episode was the arrival of Shirley MacLaine’s Martha Levinson, the gilded American counterpart and foil to Maggie Smith’s zinger-slinging Dowager Countess. The genteel enmity between them was prefigured when Violet, the Dowager Countess, says before the American Levinson’s arrival, “When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.” It was an absolute joy watching the two legendary actresses spar high-handedly over the relative merits of British tradition v. American inventiveness.

But even though Levinson’s bold outsider ways, her wry expressiveness and even her refusal to eat crab (as communicated by her maid) may have indicated otherwise in the premiere, it seems she is not a Jewish character. Not strictly, anyway. Many of us were convinced that — thanks to her husband’s name, “Isidore Levinson,” and his fortune as a Cincinnatti dry goods manufacturer — there was strong evidence for Martha’s and her offsprings’s Jewishness.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: jewish women, shirley maclaine, julian fellowes, downton abbey, television, tv

Girlfriend TV — From 'Lucy' to 'Girls'

By Gabrielle Birkner

HBO
‘Girls’

If the new HBO series “Girls” lives up to its breathless early reviews, Lena Dunham’s Hannah and her tight-knit group of self-reflective friends seem bound to join the television canon alongside Lucy and Ethel, Laverne and Shirley, and Carrie and Co.

In advance tonight’s “Girls” premiere — see The Sisterhood preview here — I spoke with Lynn Spangler, a SUNY, New Paltz communications professor and the author “Television Women from Lucy to ‘Friends,’” and Elana Levine, who teaches television history at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, about the small screen’s most iconic girlfriends and the generations they defined.

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Going Gaga for 'Girls'

By Sarah Seltzer

getty images
‘Girls’ star Lena Dunham

I’ve felt for a long time that the problem with the rise of bromance/male slacker comedy isn’t that it elevates immature dudes into leading men, but rather that it pairs them up with too tightly wound ladies. It’s what David Denby called the “slacker-striver” pairing, and it was popularized by Judd Apatow.

In short: putting women on a pedestal doesn’t help if the men are getting all the laughs. In the world of comedy, having a job and being responsible doesn’t confer privilege — getting the audience to crack up does. So let women be as flawed and wacked-out, as pot-smoking and dorky and physically goofy as the guys, let them garner the laughs as Kristen Wiig did in “Bridesmaids,” and then we’re closer to okay.

That’s why I and many others are so excited for “Girls,” the new HBO series that has received Apatow’s producing imprimatur but is almost entirely the work of “Tiny Furniture’s” Lena Dunham. The show follows a group of very young women struggling to make it in New York City, but early reviews assure us it’s nothing like “Sex and the City: The Carrie Diaries.” It’s apparently real and unglamorous and skeptical of its characters.

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'Millionaire Matchmaker' Should Take Own Advice

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

Getty Images
Patti Stanger, the “Millionaire Matchmaker”

Patti Stanger should take her own advice.

The “Millionaire Matchmaker” was on Bravo TV’s “Watch What Happens Live” Sunday night (unfortunately I can’t find a video version to share with you), talking with host Andy Cohen, who seemed by turns disgusted and perplexed by what Stanger had to say.

Now, unlike Ilana Angel from the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, I like watching “Millionaire Matchmaker.”

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A Close Look at the Bigotries of Reality TV

By Sarah Seltzer

Jennifer Pozner’s new book, “Reality Bites Back,” is out this week. In its pages, she takes our favorite “guilty pleasure” genre of TV to task for racism, sexism and manipulation of its audience. Pozner spoke recently with The Sisterhood. Her satirical book trailer is below, and the interview follows.

Sarah Seltzer: How did your interest in paying close attention to reality TV develop?

Jennifer Pozner: I basically started monitoring reality TV in 2002 when “The Bachelor” began to air. I sensed a new backlash meme was about to start. People were saying “oh, it’s just a fad.” But I knew that wasn’t the case because of media economics. It’s really easy to think shows come and go based on what viewers want to see but that’s not true. It’s more what advertisers want to pay for and what networks want to design for their advertisers. And reality TV is up to 50-75% cheaper than scripted shows, and it nets networks hundreds of thousands of dollars of product placement. So I thought we’d see more of this kind of show. I was hoping I was wrong but unfortunately I wasn’t. And I thought someone had to write this book.

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