Vote for the Worst Adolescent Children on TV

Photo:  Kent Smith/SHOWTIME -

Photo: Kent Smith/SHOWTIME –

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

I usually defend the teenage characters that annoy most people. Maybe it’s something to do with being a mom myself but I tend to be more forgiving.

I root for Dana Brody and love what being a parent brings to Alicia’s character on The Good Wife. But after watching Grace wistfully eye the guns on Sunday night’s episode of The Good Wife, I began to think that maybe, like a lax parent, I’ve been a little too lenient.

Who do you think are the worst adolescent children on TV? I’m not talking about shows like Glee where teens are the main characters but show about adult characters who have teenage children. Talk about it below and vote!

Here are my picks:

Grace and Zach Florrick on The Good Wife

Pros: Zach’s great with computers and all things technical. His taste in girlfriends constantly disrupts his dad’s political life. He introduced us to Eli’s nemesis Becca.

Cons: Grace bounces from one distracting story line to the next. Now she’s going to be into guns?

Karen and Jerry Fitzgerald on Scandal

Pros: They never see their parents.

Cons: They never see their parents.

Dana Lazaro and Chris Brody on Homeland

Pros: Morgan Saylor is a great actress. She hasn’t had the best material to work with and she’s made it work.

Cons: Dana makes truly horrible decisions when it comes to dating. Has Chris had more than three words of dialogue all season?

Morgan and Jake Sanders on Hostages

Pros: Ummmmm . . . .

Cons: Just about everything that’s happened since the pilot.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

 (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

(ABC/Craig Sjodin)

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Sing it with me now . . . .

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. With new shows premiering and old shows returning, I’m in such good cheer. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

There’ll be cliffhangers resolving. New characters debuting. And characters who say goodbye. There’ll be dramatic new plot twists, results of big kisses and Parenthood will make me cry.

We’ll see Olivia with her daddy. Ted with his wife. Alicia at her own firm. And I’m sure Scarlett will still make me squirm. So set your DVRs and get ready for the most wonderful time of the year.

Can you tell I’m just a little excited for the new season? I know I haven’t been posting to the TV Gal blog that much but I have been busy writing. Here are some of my stories about the new season.

Here’s my story about Brooklyn Nine-Nine, my favorite new show of the season, for

Here’s my interview with The Mother (Cristin Milioti) on How I Met Your Mother for

Here’s my story about the Five Things You Need to Know About the New Season of Parks & Recreation for xFinity.

Here’s my story about the Five Things You Need to Know About the New Season of New Girl for xFinity.

Here’s my story about the Five Things You Need to Know About the New Season of Nashville for xFinity.

Here’s my story about The Mindy Project for (The show gets a gold star for most improved.)

Here’s my story on the 10 Most Anticipated Returning Series for xFinity.

Here’s my story on the 10 Buzziest New Shows for xFinity.

What new show are you most excited about? (In addition to Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I’m intrigued by CBS’s new show Hostages and have a soft spot for The Goldbergs.) What returning show? (For me that’s Scandal, see photo above). Check out this calendar for a handy of reference for when everything is premiering.

To celebrate the new TV season, I’ll be giving away two prize packs consisting of a Sleep Hollow t-shirt, an Almost Human pen and a Brooklyn Nine-Nine notepad. I’ll pick two winners at random from the comments. (You must live in the U.S. to win). You have until Friday, September 20 to post a comment.

Now get ready for the most wonderful time of the year!

ls ‘Glee’ Out of Ideas? Should we trust Claire on ‘The Following’ and other TV questions

CR: Bob Mahoney/FOX

CR: Bob Mahoney/FOX

By Amy Amatangelo ®

Here are my biggest TV questions this week:

1. Is Claire Matthews secretly one of Joe Carroll’s followers on The Following?

The first season of 24 changed me as a viewer. I trust no one now. No one. And just as Nina was revealed to be a traitor in the first season finale of 24, I don’t think Claire is as innocent as she seems. She was married to Joe. How is it that she suspected nothing exactly? Clearly The Following loves surprising viewers (witness the little menage-a-followers in last night’s episode). Could this be the big surprise of the season? Was Claire’s relationship with Ryan merely a ruse to distract him? I’m doubling down on this one – Claire is not what she seems. Who’s with me?

2.  Is there a more cringing inducing story line that Tina lusting after Blaine on Glee?

Honestly is Glee completely out of ideas? Shows always suffer when they’ve exhausted every possible romantic permutation and start coming up with ridiculous pairings. Finn kisses Emma? Blaine has a crush on Sam? The worst offense is Tina lusting after Blaine.  I still shudder at the thought of Tina putting vapor rub on Blaine and crying while he slept. It wasn’t sad and poignant. It was creepy and unsettling. Where did this even come from? I’m all for the underused Jenna Ushkowitz getting more screen time but this is not the way. Plus it exposes one of Glee’s worst offenses. Characters are completely and irrationally inconsistent. Why would Tina fall for a guy she knows is gay? And what exactly did Blaine have to apologize for? For being gay and not liking Tina the way she likes him? Glee doesn’t make a lot of sense most of the time. But this story line makes no sense none of the time.

3.  Does Scandal need to go back to fixing other people’s problems?

You know I love how completely nuts Scandal is. The show is ridiculous in the best, most entertaining way.  But, even for me, last week’s episode was too much. The President is now a murderer? Sure everyone on Scandal pretty much exists in a gray area. Despite all the talk about Olivia and company being “gladiators in suits” and the good guys, we know that’s not completely true. They are the good guys only in the right context.  But I still don’t want the President to be a murderer.  And I didn’t quite believe that Abby would turn on David like that. It’s a dangerous game Scandal is playing – characters should be flawed, that’s what makes them interesting. But they shouldn’t be so flawed that we are unable to root for them anymore.  Scandal needs to take a break from all the conspiracy and the back stabbing and the murder. This week’s episode (Thursday at 10 p.m. on ABC) skips ahead 10 months and begins Scott Foley’s guest star arc. The official press release for the episode says the team will be handling a new case. A few stand-alone episodes will do the show good.

4. Is there a more obvious story line than the doctors trying to buy the hospital on Grey’s Anatomy?

If it’s the settlement from the lawsuit that’s bankrupting the hospital, of course the doctors are going to try to buy it. Why did we have to spend three episodes getting to this obvious conclusion.  I’m finding Grey’s Anatomy positively tedious this season. Anyone who can name all the new interns without looking them up deserves some sort of prize. Because I call them Smash, Tina Majorino, the one I always forget about, annoying girl in love with Jackson and Lexie 2.0.

5. Is there a more annoying character on TV right now than Scarlett on Nashville?

She is so whiny and her accent is way over the top. I actually think I’m on Avery’s side which can’t be what the show intended.  Nashville is starting to become the show I hoped it would be but I always want to fast forward through the Scarlett scenes. Really the only time I want to listen to her is when she’s singing.

What do you think about what’s happening on The Following, Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, Nashville and Scandal? Talk about it below.

 Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Amy Hargreaves is Gail, the woman Tom hit with his car on The Carrie Diaries. She plays Carrie’s sister Maggie on Homeland.

Nazanin Boniadi was the public relations expert following Alex around on Grey’s Anatomy. We just saw her on Go On as Hannah, Carrie’s friend who went out with Ryan. She was, of course, Barney’s girlfriend Nora on How I Met Your Mother.

Abby Elliott is Ted’s new crazy girlfriend Jeanette on How I Met Your Mother. She was on Saturday Night Live for four seasons and, interesting fact, was the original Kate in Ben and Kate before the role was recast with Dakota Johnson.

Susan Misner is having a busy TV season. She plays Louis Canning’s wife Simone on The Good Wife.  Stan Beeman’s wife Sandra on The Americans. And she was on The Following last night as Ryan’s sister Jenny.  I also recognized her as Dan and Jenny’s mother Alison on Gossip Girl.

This one was bugging me for a while. Leah Pipes was the senior who wanted Rachel to be topless in her movie on Glee.  She was Katie in the short-lived CW series Life is Wild.

Quotes of the Week

“I’m like the Joan Cusack character in the romantic comedy of your life.” Mindy to Jamie on The Mindy Project.

“Little choke doesn’t like caramel and also he’s dead.” Laurie about why the Latin Kings didn’t accept her gang initiation cake on Cougar Town.

“Child stars go downhill no matter how good they are. They could star in a Spielberg movie and still end up playing the nutty mom in some sitcom,” Virginia to Sabrina on Raising Hope in a nice little shout out to The Goonies.

“I’m a squirrel. You’re a nut. Winter’s coming and I’m going to store you in my cheek girl.” Schmidt to CeCe on New Girl.

“That’s for cancelling My Name Is Earl,” Burt as he kicked the NBC executive on Raising Hope.

“I want painful, difficult, devastating, life-changing, extraordinary love. Don’t you want that too?”Olivia to Edison on Scandal. Oh Olivia, my dear, sweet Olivia, you need SO much therapy.

“Do you think she’ll still like me now that I’m dead?” Chris after suffering food poisoning on Parks & Recreation. 

“I think you should stay and I think we should fight.” Pam to Jim on The Office.

“Rayna, I’m done talking.” Deacon to Rayna before kissing her in the elevator on Nashville.

“Not everyone in here looks like they are on the CW. Some of us are more PBS.” Artie on Glee.

What do you think about what’s happening on The Following, Glee, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Nashville? Talk about it below. If you’ve seen a familiar face or heard a great quote, let me know through my comment page. And don’t forget to follow my blog by entering your email in the upper right hand corner. That way you’ll always know when I have a new post up.

‘Scandal’ Giveaway!

Credit: ABC

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the set of Scandal with my fellow TV critics. It was a fantastic set visit. Everyone was so delighted to talk to us about their show. They seem to have as much fun making Scandal as we have watching it. We also got a sneak peak at this week’s episode which is called “A Criminal, a Whore, an Idiot and a Liar,” (one of the best episode titles ever, don’t you think?). I can’t tell you much about it but I can say that once again Olivia is wearing some fabulous gloves and that the ending had a few rather shocking plot twists.

You can read my story about my Scandalous visit on Since I couldn’t bring you with me on the set visit, I’m giving away the DVD of Season One of Scandal. To be eligible, post in the comment section why you love the show.  I’ll pick a winner at random. You must post by 5 p.m. EST Friday, January 18. This giveaway is limited to residents of the United States and Canada.

My Favorite Shows of 2012


By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

When I first started writing about TV, I could list my ten best shows of the year with confidence. Sure one viewer’s trash is another’s treasure (some think American Horror Story is brilliant, I find it rather laughable). Lists are always subjective and my opinion is just my opinion. But, back then, I had at least watched one episode of every show and felt I had given every series its fair consideration.

That, my friends, is no longer the case. Even if I did nothing else but watch TV, I don’t think I would be able to say I’ve seen everything the medium has to offer. There are way too many shows on the air. For example, I will admit to you that I’ve never seen a single episode of Justified. It’s been on my “I need to watch this show” list for years. There are other shows I liked –The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad among them – that for whatever reason I haven’t kept up with. The second season of Downton Abbey is just sitting on my desk waiting to be watched. Do spa/TV viewing vacations exist? Because that’s what I need.

My other issue is the rise of what I like to calls shows that are rated NFA – Not For Amy. For example, I can appreciate that Lena Dunham is creating something unique with a distinct point of view with Girls. However, from the opening moments, I couldn’t stand the show. I found the characters to be whiny, obnoxious and self-centered. And series such as Game of Thrones are also NFA.  With its gratuitous sex and violence, I didn’t even make it through the series premiere of Game of Thrones.

What I can offer you are my favorite shows of the year. The shows that have been consistently high in quality. Show that each week offered thoughtful, moving performances and strong writing. Shows that make me laugh, cry or both. Shows that are among the best TV has to offer. I have ranked them in terms of what I would choose to watch first on my TiVo.

1.Homeland (Showtime): So we’re all kind of in a fight with Homeland and I totally get that.  The show is cutting corners and sacrificing realism to advance the story and get the characters where they need them to be. I mean we’re going to have to ask Carrie more follow-up questions about how she escaped from Abu Nazir, right? An acceptable answer isn’t “I got lucky” when it comes to freeing yourself from the world’s number one terrorist. But all my quibbles aside, no other show surprises me and keeps me engaged like Homeland does.  Especially in season two, I never knew what the show was going to do next. Every time I lulled myself into believing I knew what was going to happen, the series zigged in a totally different direction.  But what really sets Homeland apart is the incredible acting. Clare Danes, Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin are breathtaking every week. They rise above the most inane writing and ridiculous plot twists.  Danes and Lewis have made me believe in TV’s most unlikely and unhealthy romance. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to a show as much as I look forward to Homeland. And that means, despite the ridiculousness of late, the drama is doing a lot of things right.

2.Parenthood (NBC): This is the season Parenthood transitioned from a good drama into a great one.  I wrote about Parenthood being one of the best shows for Paste Magazine. You can read what I had to say here.

3. Southland (TNT): The best cop drama on TV. With gritty realism, Southland pulls the viewer into its world each week.  This past season the drama added Lucy Liu and, as much as I enjoy Liu on Elementary, I am really going to miss her on Southland. Her performance was transformative. I could write paragraphs about the brilliant acting that occurs each week on the show but I want to especially praise Regina King, whose Detective Lydia Adams is one of the strongest female characters on TV. Bonus points to the show for having C. Thomas Howell in its cast. When I was a girl, pictures of Howell adorned my bedroom walls. How wonderful it is to have him on TV. Some things that are gold can stay.

4. The Middle (ABC): This week Frankie (Patricia Heaton) woke up in the middle of the night to fight with Mike (Neil Flynn) and you know what I loved best about that scene? Frankie was in mismatched pajamas. That, my friends, is real life. (My biggest complaint with Homeland this season remains that Jess packed a negligee to go to a safe house). While Modern Family may be the show all the cool kids watch, The Middle is the show that truly captures the humor of family life. The comedy has the best teenage characters of any show. Each week Eden Sher and Charlie McDermott are perfect as the ever enthusiastic Sue and her older, slacker brother Axl. (For real fun, follow these two on Twitter to see how they interact in real life).  When people ask me what’s the one show they are not watching that that they should be watching, I always say The Middle.

5. Scandal (ABC): From her first power-suit strut into the office, I was all about Olivia Pope and her not-so-merry band of Gladiators. The show provides a juicy soap opera and intense mystery while, without making a big deal about it, has built a show around a successful woman of color. Plus nobody enunciates quite like Kerry Washington enunciates. I want to be a client of Pope & Associates just so I can hear Olivia say my name. Most of the time, I have no idea what the Huck the show is going to do next and I love that.

6. Parks and Recreation (NBC):  What other series could make local politics so utterly compelling? I literally love this show. Parks has the best ensemble cast on TV. There are no weak links. I adore every single character on it.

7. The Glee Project (Oxygen): The Glee Project is the only reality competition that is truly rooted in reality.  The audition process is grueling and, in the end, no matter how much the casting director, vocal coach and choreographer may love you, it all comes down to the executive producer’s capricious decision.  I love that this is a tough competition but one where none of the coaches are mean-spirited or nasty. If you’re not performing well, they will tell you but in a way that allows the performers to flourish. Bonus points to the show for 1):  Totally making up words.  We all need a little glee-ality and romanticality in our lives.  2): Giving me my new secret boyfriend Zach Woodlee. His proud papa face when he watches the kids perform makes me tear up every time.  3): Giving Glee Blake Jenner and Alex Newell. They’ve both been great additions to the series.

8. Mad Men (AMC): Not everything worked this season but when the show worked, it worked brilliantly. Joan finally telling her husband to get out. Peggy leaving the agency and coming into her own. Joan becoming a partner in the worst possible way. These are TV moments indelibly inked in my mind. Mad Men continues to create a world that is mesmerizing.

9. Awkward (MTV):  Yes I know I’m way too old to be watching this show. But what I love about Awkward is that although the technology has changed (no one had a blog when I was in high school), the experience of being a teenager hasn’t. Awkward takes me right back to the not-so-glory days of high school. But it’s not just nostalgia that makes me love the show – it is witty, hilarious, poignant and heart-breaking.  While I always rooted for Jake, the Jake/Matty/Jenna love triangle is one of the best ones out there.

10. New Girl (FOX): For a show ostensibly about a girl, it’s the men who have made this comedy flourish. The rapport between Schmidt, Nick and Winston is the stuff of TV magic. If Schmidt is the series breakout character, Nick is the sleeper breakout character. I still laugh every time I think about Jake Johnson’s “I give you cookie” diatribe.

Honorable Mentions:

The Good Wife (CBS): I adore this show. The only reason it isn’t part of my top ten is due to the mandatory “Nick is a bad husband” deduction. May we never have to see a fight involving raw eggs again.

30 Rock (NBC): As always, I want to go to there. In its final season, this smart comedy has enjoyed a greater and more hilarious freedom as it mocks its corporate parent and takes Liz Lemon through some major life changes.

Switched at Birth (ABC): Bunheads may be Gilmore Girls Redux but it’s Switched at Birth that has filled the hole Gilmore Girls left in my viewing schedule.

Go On (NBC): This comedy is doing exactly what a freshman comedy should be doing: It gets better every week as Ryan (Matthew Perry) continues to grieve his wife’s death with an unlikely support group. It can’t be easy to make a comedy about people continuing on with their lives after a great loss, but Go On is doing an excellent job.

Those are my favorite shows of 2012. What are yours? Talk about it below.

TV Throwdowns

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

As TV viewers, we must make tough choices. In that vein, I present to you my current TV throwdowns.

New Glee Students vs. New Grey’s Anatomy Interns: Glee had an obligation to add new students. It is, after all, a show about a high school Glee Club. It would be impractical to keep the actors high school students forever especially since many of them looked as if they passed the exit to high school long before the show started. But, we didn’t really need new interns on Grey’s. We have enough doctors to keep up with as it is. On top of that, while the Glee students may be knock-offs of the originals (in the grand tradition of Valerie becoming the new Brenda and Gina becoming the new Valerie on 90210), they have made an impact. I may not like Kitty, but at least I know who she is. While watching Grey’s last week, I did not even recognize Leah (Tessa Ferrer). When she talked about having slept with Alex, I thought, “Is this girl hallucinating? She’s never been on the show before.” Turns out she’s been on the show twice before. Who knew? The rest of the interns I refer to as the crying one, Smash and Tina Majorino. Winner: The new Glee students.

Marvin “Wait For It” Erickson (How I Met Your Mother) vs. Carl Porter (Revenge): I know it’s hard to have a real baby on a TV set. If my daughter had been on any TV show as a baby, you would not have been able to hear any of the dialogue over her screaming, but I digress. Last week when Marshall was wearing a doll in a baby carrier, it was as if How I Met Your Mother wasn’t even trying.  The scene was ridiculous. Say the baby is sleeping or out for a walk or whatever, just don’t show us a lifeless baby doll. It was disturbing Baby Carl may be the easiest, most well behaved baby on the planet but at least he’s usually played by an actual baby. Winner: Carl Porter.

Nellie Bertram (The Office) vs. BJ (Ben and Kate): Who is the better saucy British sidekick? The Office has done a lot of work to make Nellie a more tolerable character this season. The smartest move the show made was to make her one of the gang. Now she’s the one colluding with Jim and Pam to play a trick on Dwight instead of the antagonist. They’ve also attempted to give Nellie a personal life to try to humanize her character. But despite her character rehabilitation, too much damage was done last season. I still prefer Lucy Punch’s absolutely outrageous BJ. Winner: BJ

The technology on Scandal vs. The technology on The Killing: Both shows seem, at times, to be stuck in the early 2000 technology wise. Rumors spread a few weeks ago that Netflix might pick up The Killing for a third season. In addition to the fact that this might not be the best idea creatively (the show struggled so in its second season), I wondered if the characters on The Killing even know what Netflix is or that’s it’s possible to watch a TV show via the Internet. This is, after all, the show that has a police detective using a flip phone and driving a car with no automatic locks. But over on Scandal, Olivia still receives photos via fax machine (I honestly thought my mother was the only person who still used a fax machine so at least she’s in good company) and Cyrus’s husband is excited about being on the front page of a newspaper (wouldn’t he be more excited about being the featured story on the paper’s website or getting his own blog for a political website?).  Meanwhile the show has Huck who can hack into anything at any time. At least The Killing was consistent with its archaic technology. Tough call but winner: Scandal.

Stockard Channing as Alicia’s mom (The Good Wife) /Adrienne Barbeau as Victoria’s mom (Revenge): Which mom am I most looking forward to meeting this Sunday? Well I already love Alicia’s brother and I’ve missed having the Former First Lady on TV. Except for the Storyline That Shall Not Be Named, The Good Wife does an excellent job with its guest stars. Revenge, however, wasted Jennifer Jason Leigh. WASTED HER. I’m not even sure of the reason for having Leigh on the show.  Winner: Stockard Channing.

Where do you weigh in on some of these TV throwdowns? Talk about it below. Have a question? Seen a familiar face? Heard a great quote? Email me and let me know.  And remember to sign up to follow my blog if you want to be part of my December TV Swag giveaway. Coming soon, my open love letter to Parenthood, Part 2.

Dysfunction Junction: TV’s Most Unhealthy Romances

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Love is in the air all over TV. A long simmering romance is finally blossoming on Castle. George and Dallas are positively adorable as they discover what it’s like to date after divorce on Suburgatory.  And the great tradition of falling for a former cast member of Friday Night Lights continues on Parenthood.

But while other couples are going out for fancy dinners and canoodling, several unhealthy relationships are getting plenty of screen time. A look at some of the most dysfunctional couples currently on TV:

Angela, The Senator and Oscar on The Office (Thursdays at 9 p.m. on NBC): This entire storyline is such a dark turn for The Office to take in its final season. Yes Angela isn’t the nicest character. She’s nasty to Kevin and was awful to Andy. She constantly puts down Pam and makes fun of Phyllis. But do I want to see her, as Kevin so aptly put it, discover that her entire life is a lie? Not really. I can’t find the humor in finding out that your husband is cheating on you with a man.  And after nine seasons, I would love to have Oscar find true love. But does that true love have to be at Angela’s expense? Not sure what the writers were thinking when they went down this path. There are not a lot of laughs to be mined here.

Olivia and President Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal:Just a few weeks ago I was wondering where this particular story line could go. There are only so many times a fabulously dressed Olivia can defiantly announce to Fitz that their relationship is over. There are only so many times he can give her his hurt puppy face in response. I liked the knowledge of their affair as a starting point for the series. The idea that they both want something they absolutely cannot have is a great undercurrent to all the action. But the whole thing was beginning to feel a bit redundant. Until, that is, the show hinted that Olivia, the First Lady, and Cyrus had collaborated to fix the election. I couldn’t figure out why the series kept emphasizing that the opposing candidate had lost by 4,359 votes in Ohio.  But now it definitely seems like there was some voter tampering going on and if Olivia wasn’t a part of it, she was aware of it.  And since it appears that the President was not, that should add a new interesting wrinkle to their relationship. While I’m on Scandal, as much as I love the show (it’s second on my must watch on my DVR list after Parenthood), I’m concerned that Olivia is getting duped by her clients too easily. She’s not the ultimate fixer if she discovers after the fact that the Governor did know his wife was having an affair. That kind of last minute bait-and-switch reveal reminds of what The Practice always used to do.

Carrie and Brody on Homeland: This duo is the definition of dysfunction.  Three weeks ago Carrie was triumphantly told Brody that he was under arrest for being a traitor to his country and this week she’s hungriliy making out with him in the woods.  What works about their twisted romance (if one can call it that) is that as a viewer, I never know if Carrie has true feelings for Brody, if she’s playing him or if it’s a little bit of both.  When she told him in the interrogation room that if she were being honest she would tell him she wants him to leave his wife for her, it’s hard to tell if it is some confession ploy or the real deal. And the thing is –  I don’t think Carrie knows her true feelings either. Her work and her life are so enmeshed that how she feels about Brody is part of her work.   There’s a fine line between love and hate but when it comes to Carrie and Brody, there’s a fine line between love and obsession.

Victoria and Conrad on Revenge: Since the dog died last season, there are no functional couples on Revenge. (Jack and the dog were our last hope).Everybody is using everybody. Conrad and Victoria viciously plot to bring each other down. They trade barbs and insults. But when they were both facing death,  they held hands.  It wasn’t sweet exactly but it was something. As the patriarch and matriarch TV’s most outlandish prime time soap, Victoria and Conrad are better together even if they both have a knife in the other’s back.

What couples do you think define dysfunction on TV? Talk about it below. I’m back on Thursday to check in on how some of this season’s new shows are doing (The New Normal, Nashville, Elementary). Remember to sign up to follow my blog (upper right hand corner) if you want to be part of my December TV Swag Giveaway  And if you’ve seen a familiar face or heard a great quote, email me and let me know.

An interview with Bellamy Young, the First Lady of ‘Scandal’

Credit – Angelo Kritikos

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Last week I had the chance to talk to the delightful Bellamy Young, First Lady Mellie Grant on Scandal. In case  you missed the great news, ABC recently ordered a full season of Scandal so we will get 22 episodes this season. That means viewers will be treated to much more of the First Lady’s devious scheming.

Ms. Young and I had a lovely conversation, although the North Carolina native was somewhat tight-lipped about what is coming up on the juicy drama (which airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC). She laughed and told me she’s had to go through publicity training to learn to not give away the show’s secrets. But she did have lots to say about the Grant’s turbulent marriage, where their two children are and what it’s like to be fake pregnant.

TV Gal: I’m always surprised by how much sympathy I have for Mellie. How difficult is it to play a character who can be so awful without alienating her from viewers?

Bellamy Young: I’m blessed because our writers are incredible. They always put the pain underneath the anger. It’s always coming from a place of being so hurt and there’s no one who can’t relate to that. We’re never worse than to the people that we love in those dark, dark moments. It really does feel like Tony [Goldwyn, who plays President Fitzgerald Grant] and I have decades of history between us and there have been so many good times. We have two lovely children, a third on the way and you remember that marriages go through a lot and we’re meeting them in a really ugly moment. But there have been so many other times before that. It’s just one sort of dip in the dance that they’re doing together that’s not the prettiest color on either one of them but they’re still very much a team. It’s like taffy you can pull it any direction and it stays intact.

TV Gal: Obviously you’re not a conniving First Lady, what is it about Mellie that you connect to when you play her?

Young: Mellie couldn’t be any more different than I am. On some levels that is so freeing – to be this completely self-confident, my way or the highway, women is kind of a thrill. In terms of the emotional truth so much of it resonates with me – the pain of it all. I’m human. People have hurt me and when they hurt me I lash out. There’s nothing that I don’t understand about where Mellie is coming from in those moments of abject pain and desperation.

TV Gal: This season you were promoted to series regular. What has that experience been like?

Young: It’s truly my first time as a bride. I can’t think of a way to be any luckier. It is a dream and they just keep writing incredible things for me to do. It’s so much fun it almost blows my mind.

This is an incredible next level to be able to relax into something. You never get to have these rich conversations when you’re guesting. It’s very very different when you get to build these lives with a core group of people with the writers and the actors. To live with someone for so long it starts to come from your marrow, from inside your thigh bone, what Mellie would do. You really know her. You start to speak up for yourself and  your character.

The genius and the joy of it is that with every script comes a new revelation. You kind of add that layer to the onion, you get to feel like you have a really complicated, breathing existence.

The other side of this honestly is getting talk to people like you about things like this. I’ve never had an experience and been commenting on an experience at the same time. That has been a huge learning curve.

TV Gal: You worked with [executive producer] Shonda Rhimes before on Grey’s Anatomy, right?

Young: It was actually the Grey’s Anatomy  episode that was the spin- off for Private Practice. It was a two hour episode and I was in the Private Practice part of it. My arc on that episode went from absolutely comedic to absolutely tragic.

TV Gal: You mentioned to me that you are really excited about the eighth episode of the season which you recently completed filming. Can you tell me anything about that or anything else that is coming up on the show?

Young: We have another flashback episode coming up. That was one of everybody’s favorite episodes last year to do and to watch. And again it just delivers in spades this year. It just informs all the drama and wonderment that’s going on in real time so much. The history just makes it that much more angsty and intense.

Mellie has her fingers in some very important pies coming up.  There’s some Abby and David juiciness. We’ll see if there’s any future for Senator Edison Davis and Olivia. We have more Cyrus and James to look forward.

TV Gal: What about Fitz and Mellie’s children? Where are they?

Young: It will be explained in an upcoming episode and hopefully we will see them. They’re in boarding school. Tony and I think outside of Santa Barbara where my family is from. I get that question increasingly. There’s a baby inside of Mellie so people think, “Um is she going to be an okay Mom?”

TV Gal: What’s it like being pregnant on the show?

Young: I love being fake pregnant. As an actor you’re always flummoxed about what to do with your hands, and you can put them on your belly, rub your belly. You can rub that belly and sort of look beatific and say the most hideous things.  It’s a joy plus you don’t have to worry about what you ate, if your belly is fat , if your butt is big. It’s just sort the greatest sort of gift.

TV Gal: Have you filmed the arrival of the blessed event yet? Will we get to see Mellie deliver the baby?

Young: I have to plead the fifth on that one.

TV Gal: The entire cast is very active on Twitter when the episodes air you tweet in both east coast and west coast time.

Young: It’s just incredible to talk to people who are watching the shows in real time. It’s almost like theater again. You get to  really see how it’s all landing with people. (You can follow her @BellamyYoung)

TV Gal: I know Scandal keeps you very busy. Is there anything else  you are working on?

Young:  I will be back sometime this season for two more episodes of Criminal Minds [as Hotchner’s love interest Beth]. And I executive produced and co-starred with David Arquette in the movie The Cottage which is now out on DVD.

Where Have I Seen Them Before and Quotes of the Week for October 25, 2012

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal ®

Where Have I Seen Them Before?

Skyler Day was the teen who wanted to keep sailing even though she might lose her foot on Grey’s Anatomy. She was Amy, Drew’s girlfriend, on Parenthood. Meeghan Holaway was the lawyer for Derek, Cristina, Meredith and Arizona. She played Amanda Burke, the lawyer Kathryn and John had on Switched at Birth before they hired Craig (Sam Page).  Ned Vaughn was the lawyer for the airlines. We just saw him in an episode of The Newsroom, where he played a representative for Halliburton who came on Will’s show.

Patrick Fischler was Artie Hornbacher, the NSA employee who tricked Olivia on Scandal. Fischler has been on so many things but I remember him most as Jimmy Barrett, the comic who did the Utz Potato Chip commercials on Mad Men and Phil, a DHARMA Initiative employee on Lost. Wendy Davis was Kimberly Mitchell, the talk show host. She’s Joan on Army Wives. Steven W. Bailey, who played the bartender Joe on Grey’s Anatomy, was the medical examiner. Brian Letscher is Tom, the secret service agent. I wanted to point him out because he’s the brother of Matt Letscher, who played the evil Billy Chambers last season on Scandal. So Shonda Rhimes hire within her TV family and within real families as well.

Adam J. Harrington was the robot like Congressman on Parks and Recreation. He was Ethan last season on The Secret Circle and Agent Walker on Dexter.

Rosa Salazar was Molly, Kate’s wild high school friend on Ben & Kate. She played Zoe, the woman who changed her mind and kept her baby last season on Parenthood.

Yancey Arias was the father of the missing girl on Elementary. He played Senator Tom Kingsley last season on Revenge but I’ll always remember him as Miguel on Kingpin.

Matthew Del Negro was Kent, Penny’s physical therapist on Happy Endings. We just saw him in the season premiere of The Good Wife as the police officer who pulled over Zach. He’s lodged in my memory as Brian Cammarata on The Sopranos.

Rachel Shelley was Milah, Rumplestiltskin’s wife on Once Upon a Time. She was Helena Peabody on The L Word

Quotes of the Week

“I loved you . . . if only the circumstances had been wildly different. You’re a disgrace to your nation Sergeant Nicholas Brody. You’re a traitor and a terrorist. And now it’s time to pay for that.” Carrie to Brody on Homeland.

“You’ll never be done.” Amanda to Emily on Revenge.

“I’ll wait until I hear them all sing and then I’ll text in my choice.” Axl on which Presidential candidate he’ll cast his vote for on The Middle.

“You gave me cookie. I got you cookie.” Nick to Schmidt on New Girl. This is definitely one of those quotes that makes no sense out of context but I loved it so much I had to include it this week.

“There are no bad ideas Lemon. Only great ideas that go horribly wrong.” Jack to Liz on 30 Rock.

“You see her again, I’ll blow you away. And I’m an excellent shot, remember?” the First Lady to the President on Scandal.

“Christopher, this is no time to be petulant.” Tim to Christopher on Project Runway when he won’t stop sewing when his time is up.

“I’m proud of you but also a bit fearful that we’re verging on what I call feelings territory so let’s stare at the fire in silence.” Ron to Tom on Parks and Recreation.

“It’s going to be old school – guitars and great songs. Just a show for people who love actual music.” Rayna to Juliette about her new tour on Nashville. Rayna could rival Victoria Grayson for biting one liners.

“Now I don’t feel like pie. Wait. No. It’s back.” Kevin on The Office.

“He won the election. Honey, our son is the new president of Cedar Knoll Middle School. God help us all.” Adam to Kristina on Parenthood.

“I will always come find you.” Emmett to Bay on Switched at Birth. Thanks to Diane for the quote.

Best Exchange of the Week

“Who’s your favorite rapper?” Nick to Schmidt in a flashback to their college days on New Girl.

“Brian Austin Green.” Schmidt’s response. I would watch a whole show about Nick and Schmidt in college. Can we make that happen?

Have you seen a familiar face or heard a great quote? Email me through my contact page and let me know about it. And remember to follow my blog (enter your email in the upper right hand corner) so you’ll always know when I have a new post.

TV’s Best Tertiary Characters

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

How do you know you’re a great character?

There’s a fan outcry when you aren’t around.

Since Homeland began its second season, viewers have been plagued with questions:  Will Carrie realize she was right? Will Brody get caught? But perhaps the biggest question troubling viewers was: Where is Virgil?

The beloved surveillance expert brilliantly played by David Marciano finally returned on Sunday.  I actually clapped when he came on the screen. There is something so wonderful about Virgil and his relationship with Carrie. He’s exasperated when he should be, protective when he needs to be, and funny when the show is in desperate need of comic relief. Plus, he’s kind of the only character besides Carrie that I truly trust at this point.

But the really interesting thing about Virgil is that he’s obviously not a main character (that’s Carrie and Brody). But he’s not a secondary character either (lsuch as David Estes or Mike). He’s a tertiary character. And to make a tertiary character stand out you’ve got to be really good.

Here are some of my other favorite tertiary characters on television:

First Lady Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young) on Scandal: I adore Mellie. First of all, she’s a woman in the right. Her husband, the President of the United States, cheated on her and continues to be hung up on a woman he cannot and should not have.  Secondly, would you want to cross her? Young brilliantly pulls off the tricky act of being simultaneously sympathetic and devious. The scene in the limo where she asks her husband to forgive her? Heartbreaking. The scene where she tells her husband that she needs to start making plans for her future.  A little terrifying.  The season Young was promoted to series regular and is rightly getting so much screen time that she’s almost a secondary character.

Grizz (Grizz Chapman) and Dot Com (Kevin Brown) on 30 Rock: As Tracy’s entourage, the pair have provided some of the comedy’s best laughs with their droll commentary on their boss’s ridiculous antics. They’re the voice of reason not just in Tracy’s world but sometimes for the entire series. I would so watch the Grizz and Dot Com Show. Now that 30 Rock is ending, isn’t it about time for a spinoff?

Cora (Barbara Hershey) on Once Upon a Time: How do you make viewers feel sorry for the Evil Queen? Give her a mother who is worse than she is. Hershey is wonderfully evil. I’m so glad she is still around this season causing trouble. Also bonus points for the fact that Hershey actually looks like she could be Lana Parrilla’s mother.

Brad Bottig (Brock Ciarlelli) on The Middle: As Sue’s enthusiastic former boyfriend, Ciarlelli makes me smile every time he comes on the screen.  He also exemplifies what makes The Middle such a fantastic show.  Brad could have been a one note joke – Sue doesn’t realize that her boyfriend is probably gay. But he has become so much more than that. The Middle thrives because it’s a very funny show with humor based in truth and characters we know. I always say there’s a little bit of Sue in anyone who has ever been a teenage girl. And I definitely had friends such as Brad when I was in high school. He’s simply a fantastic character.

Burt Hummel (Mike O’Malley) on Glee: O’Malley provides some of Glee’s best moments. He is my favorite television dad.  Here’s hoping there’s a holiday episode in our future where Kurt goes home to see his dad.

Who are some of your favorite tertiary characters? Talk about it below.

Happy Endings, Don’t Trust the B ____ in Apartment 23 and Nashville

Here’s my three-part TV viewing assignment for the week:

There are times when I truly believe an episode of television was created just for me. It’s like television’s way of saying “thanks Amy. We’re glad you’re here.”  And the premiere of Don’t Trust the B____ in Apartment 23, which returns for its second season tonight at 9:30 p.m. on ABC, is one of those times.  James Van Der Beek, who continues to hilariously spoof himself, reluctantly decides he will do a Dawson’s Creek reunion.  I don’t want to ruin the jokes by telling you any more than that. But any show that can reference The Facts of Life Goes to Paris and stage a fame intervention is my kind of show. You must watch.

I have championed Happy Endings since it premiered. Dave writing thank you notes after being left at the alter is one of the funniest television moments ever (“Darkness reigns. Hope gurgles out its dying breath. Thank you for the beautiful crockpot.”).  As it returns for its third season (tonight at 9 p.m. on ABC), Dave (Zachary Knighton) and Elisha Cuthbert (Elisha Cuthbert) are back together but keeping it casual. They’re this decade’s Ross and Rachel if you didn’t think Ross and Rachel should actually be together. The show has become more Scrubs-like as the seasons have progressed (more totally out there flights of fancy humor) but the writing remains razor sharp. What other show has hilarious lines such as “You two have fun talking like Scott Caan’s groomsmen.”  Again, you must watch.

People, people, people. What is going on? Why oh why is Nashville (Wednesday at 10 p.m. on ABC) on the bubble? Why aren’t you watching the best new show of the season? This is starting to remind me of Lone Star. Talk to me.  Why aren’t you watching?

That’s all for today. Remember to follow my blog so you will know every time I have a new post. And on Thursday I’ll have this week’s best familiar faces and quotes so if you’re heard a great quote or seen a familiar face email me about them through my contact page.