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Daily Reads: Why ‘Girls’ Is Still Great, the Worst Final Seasons of TV and More

Daily Reads: Why 'Girls' Is Still Great, the Worst Final Seasons of TV and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. The Return of “Girls.” Lena Dunham’s always divisive show “Girls” is back for its fourth season this Sunday, and with it comes Hannah Horvath and company’s often abhorrent behavior. Willa Paskin of Slate writes about why it’s still great.

“Girls” has always been more matter-of-fact about friendship than the strictures of television typically allow. On TV, a show about four buddies usually requires those buddies to spend time together. “Girls” has never had much truck with this. In Season 2, the girls didn’t all hang out for more than half the season. (Shosh and Jessa don’t seem like Marnie-loving people anyway.) With Hannah ensconced in Iowa, this disconnection is more pronounced than ever, though all the wide-open space seems to be good for the girls’ friendships, which are in more affectionate shape than usual. It is also good for “Girls” itself. Read more.

2. The Best of “Portlandia.” “Portlandia” is back for its fifth season, and in anticipation Kate Erbland of Rolling Stone picked the show’s 15 best sketches, from the opening of “Dream of the Nineties” to “911 Beets Emergency.”

“Social Bankruptcy.” Understandably overwhelmed by the influx of social media demands into her everyday life and the head-splitting ping of a constantly buzzing phone, Carrie goes for the “nuclear option”: declaring social bankruptcy and jettisoning the entire thing into the great recycling bin in the sky. It’s so freeing! It’s so wonderful! It’s so…lonely. A clean slate might sound like a good idea at first, but without a digital footprint and a set of emoticons to contextualize it, even the most liberated Facebook hater turns into a ghost. Read more.

3. Having a Strange Attachment to Movies. Sometimes an inconsequential, even mediocre movie sticks with a viewer for reasons that are hard to articulate. Mike Ryan of Uproxx tries to explain his emotional attachment of “Wedding Crashers.”

When “Wedding Crashers” was first released, I had only lived in New York City a few months and I had just gone through a breakup. I didn’t really know many people at the time and this was before social media made it easy to talk to really anyone at any time. I discovered the absolute joy of attending movies by myself…the next day I decided to go back because I had nothing better to do and it didn’t seem as weird. I just kind of liked being around these guys; loneliness is a weird emotion and these two wedding-loving knuckleheads made me forget about all that. Read more.

4. How Rules Ruin the Best Original Song Oscar Category. Best Original Song is one of the Oscars’ most exasperating categories because of idiotic rules and technicalities. The A.V. Club’s Jesse Hassenger explains.

In the case of “God Help The Girl,” in-context viewing would involve showing several of the best scenes in the film: the joyful free-for-all of “I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie,” the intimate opening scene set to “Act Of The Apostle,” or the sweet playfulness of “The Psychiatrist Is In.” If cinematic context is truly part of this award, “God Help The Girl’s” performances show a lot more merit than the postscript soundtracking of Coldplay’s song from “Unbroken,” an early favorite. But whether disqualified because of the earlier album or never submitted due to a perceived uphill battle, nothing from “God Help The Girl” makes the official long-list of 79 eligible tunes. An indication of the Academy’s stringent sense of fairness: One of the songs on the eligible list is from “Paddington,” a movie that didn’t even wind up coming out in 2014. Read more.

5. The Worst Final Seasons of TV. How badly could “Glee” end? Its fifth and final season could turn out like any of these other disastrous conclusions written up by HitFix, from “True Blood” to “Roseanne.” Here’s Daniel Fienberg on “Dexter.”

Few shows have pulled the tease-and-whimper with the authority of Showtime’s “Dexter.” More than a few fans had written “Dexter” off after the dismal Season 6, featuring Colin Hanks and his Imaginary Froze Friend and the birth of Deb’s brother-lust. I was right on the cusp of checking out on “Dexter,” when a strange thing happened: Season 7 of “Dexter,” which was the start of a two-season endgame, was surprisingly solid and the writers fooled us into believing that after a confused detour, everything was back on track. This was not the case. The final season was a series of misdirection, anti-climaxes, a weak Big Bad and then, finally, that horribly realized hurricane, a poorly handled death for a character who deserved better and then… Lumberjack Dexter, sitting with a bearded, dyspeptic expression that mirrored the reaction of more than a few watching fans. Read more.

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