Chick Flicks: The 25 Highest-Grossing Movies with Female Leads

Let’s compare and contrast two lists today: the 25 top grossing movies of all time, and the 25 top grossing female-led movies of all time. Maybe when all this is done we’ll learn a little something about women’s representation in the media. Probably not though! You want to learn facts, go watch Bill Nie.

Okay, first, the easy part. Movies that pass the Bechdel test (meaning that two female characters with names talk to each other about something other than a man) are bolded.

The 25 Top Grossing Movies of All Time (U.S. Box Office)

1. Avatar (starring Sam Worthington) [$760,505,847]

2. The Avengers (starring Robert Downey, Jr.) [$615, 996,809]

3. Titanic (starring Leonardo DiCaprio) [$600,779,824]

4. The Dark Knight (starring Christian Bale) [$533, 316, 061]

5. Star Wars (starring Mark Hamill) [$460, 935, 665]

6. Shrek 2 (starring Mike Meyers) [$436,471,036]

7. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (starring Henry Thomas) [$434,949,459]

8. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (starring Ewan MacGregor) [$431,065,444]

9. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (starring Johnny Depp) [$423,032,628]

10. Toy Story 3 (starring Tom Hanks) [$414,984,497]

11. The Hunger Games (starring Jennifer Lawrence) [$405,882,323]

12. Spider-Man (starring Tobey Maguire) [$403, 706,375]

13. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (starring Shia LeBeouf) [$402,076,689]

14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (starring Daniel Radcliff) [$380,955,619]

15. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (starring Hayden Christensen) [$380,363,555]

16. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (starring Elijah Wood) [$377,019,252]

17. Spider-Man 2 (starring Tobey Maguire) [$373,377,893]

18. (Info not available! Does this pass?) The Passion of the Christ (starring Jim Caviezel) [$370,270,943]

19. Jurassic Park (starring Sam Neill) [$356,784,000]

20. Transformers: Dark of the Moon (starring Shia LaBeouf [$352,358,779]

21. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (starring Elijah Wood) [$340,478,898]

22. Finding Nemo (starring Albert Brooks) [$339, 714,367]

23. Spider-Man 3 (starring Tobey Maguire) [$336,530,303]

24. Alice in Wonderland (starring Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp top billed) [$334,185,206]

25. Forrest Gump (starring Tom Hanks) [$329,691,196]

So, in terms of lead actors, that is one homogenous-ass list. Only two of these movies have female main characters (The Hunger Games and Alice in Wonderland) and only one of those two gave top billing to a woman. Only two of them (Toy Story 3 and Finding Nemo) star actors who were age fifty or older at the time the movie was made, and both of those are animated, because who wants to look at crow’s feet, am I right? None of them star an out actor, which is a shame but not too surprising. What is more surprising is that none of them star an actor of color, either! What? Come on, America. You’re killing me here. Only 2/5 of them pass the Bechdel test, which is extra depressing when you think about how low a bar the Bechdel test actually sets. Seriously, all that has to happen is an interaction like:

Mary-Jane: Good morning, Aunt Mae. How are you?

Aunt Mae: Fine. Nice weather we’re having.

Mary-Jane: Yep! Well, see you later.

THAT WOULD GET YOU A PASSING GRADE ON THIS DAMN TEST. And less than half of these movies have even THAT level of female representation. Grim.

Now, moving on to the 25 top grossing female-led movies of all time!

It was a little difficult to pin down what makes a movie female-led. For instance, Tilda Swinton got top billing on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but she really can’t be described as the lead– the three children (only one of whom is female) seem to share that title equally. Hayley Steinfeld clearly played the protagonist of True Grit, but Jeff Bridges got top billing. Similarly, Mia Waskowska played the clear protagonist and title character of the 2010 Alice in Wonderland reboot, but Johnny Depp got top billing and was more prominently featured in the ad campaign. It’s a tricky business,  but, for my purposes, I’ve decided to only count a movie as female-led if (what I consider to be) the film’s protagonist is female, and a female also received top billing.

Once again, bolded movies pass the Bechdel test.

1. The Hunger Games (starring Jennifer Lawrence) [$405,227,711]

2. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (starring Kristen Stewart) [$300,523,113]

3. New Moon (starring Kristen Stewart) [$296,619,304]

4. (? Anybody know whether this one passes Bechdel?) Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Pt. 1 (starring Kristen Stewart) [$281,275,991]

5. The Blind Side (starring Sandra Bullock) [$255,950,375]

6. Twister (starring Helen Hunt) [$241,688,385]

7. My Big Fat Greek Wedding (starring Nia Vardalos) [$241,437,427]

8. The Exorcist (starring Ellen Burstyn) [$204,565,000]

9. Brave (starring Kelly Macdonald) [$208,774,173]

10. Tangled (starring Mandy Moore) [$200,807,262]

11. Monsters Vs. Aliens (starring Reese Witherspoon) [$198,332,128]

12. Twilight (starring Kristen Stewart) [$191,449,475]

13. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) (starring Adriana Caselotti) [$184,925,485]

14. Beauty and the Beast (1991) (starring Paige O’Hara) [$171,301,428]

15. Chicago (starring Renee Zellwegger) [$170,684,505]

16. The Help (starring Emma Stone) [$169,705,587]

17. Bridesmaids (starring Kristen Wiig) [$169,076,745]

18. The Proposal (starring Sandra Bullock) [$163,947,053]

19. The Sound of Music (starring Julie Andrews) [$163,214,286]

20.(? Not sure if this one passes, either.) Scary Movie (starring Anna Faris; Carmen Electra top billed) [$156,997,084]

21. Sex and the City (starring Sarah Jessica Parker) [$152,637,269]

22. Snow White and the Huntsman (starring Kristen Stewart) [$152,589,315]

23. Lilo & Stitch (starring Daveigh Chase) [$145,771,527]

24. Mamma Mia! (starring Amanda Seyfried; Meryl Streep top billed) [$143,704,210]

25. Juno (starring Ellen Page) [$143,492,840]

First, the good news: 19 of these 25 movies passed the Bechdel test. I guess that’s not surprising since if your main character is a lady it’s a lot easier to slip up and accidentally have her talk to another lady about, you know, lady-stuff, whatever that is.

But once again, zero people of color, zero out actors, and this one only has one top-billed actor over age fifty: Ms. Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia! At least she got to actually appear on screen, unlike Hanksy and Brooksy.

It’s also a little disheartening to look at the amount of money these movies made. Avatar, the top-grossing movie of all time, made a little less than twice what The Hunger Games, the top-grossing female-led movie made, and #25 on the female-led list (Juno) made about a third the amount earned by #25 on the general list (Forrest Gump).

I’d love to hear any analysis any of my readers might have of these numbers. I’m but one human, and I don’t really know what to make of these statistics I have gathered!

Part 2: The 25 Highest-Grossing Movies Starring People of Color coming soon!

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The 50 Best Songs of the Past 5 Years

In your perusing of this list, you may notice that I have defined the past 5 years as 2007-2011, seemingly disregarding the current year all together. The reason for this is simple: I can’t do math. Oh, well. There probably haven’t been any good songs this year anyway.

50. “&” – Tally Hall (Good & Evil)

49. “Na Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na)” – My Chemical Romance (Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys)

48. “Greenback Boogie” – Ima Robot (Another Man’s Treasure)

47. “I Don’t Care” – Fall Out Boy (Folie a Deux)

46. “America’s Suitehearts” – Fall Out Boy (Folie a Deux)

45. “Property” – Say Anything (Say Anything)

44. “Unstoppable” – Foxy Shazam (Foxy Shazam)

43. “Animal” – Neon Trees (Habits)

42. “(Coffee’s for Closers)” – Fall Out Boy (Folie a Deux)

41. “Bang the Doldrums” – Fall Out Boy (Infinity On High)

40. “Once in Awhile” – Don’t Stop Or We’ll Die (One of the Gang)

39. “Folkin’ Around” – Panic at the Disco (Pretty. Odd.)

38. “Never Meant to Know” – Tally Hall (Good & Evil)

37. “20 Dollar Nose Bleed” – Fall Out Boy (Folie a Deux)

36. “Nine in the Afternoon” – Panic at the Disco (Pretty. Odd.)

35. “A Little Piece of Heaven” – Avenged Sevenfold (Avenged Sevenfold)

34. “One Day, Robots Will Cry” – Cobra Starship (¡Viva la Cobra!)

33. “Wowee Zowee” – Two Tongues (Two Tongues)

32. “The Truth Is, You Should Lie With Me” – Say Anything (In Defense of the Genre)

31. “Effect and Cause” – The White Stripes (Icky Thump)

30. “Thriller” – Fall Out Boy (Infinity On High)

29. “You Were Good In Your Time” – Morrissey (Years of Refusal)

28. “Fuck You” – Cee-Lo Green (The Lady Killer)

27. “Somebody That I Used To Know” – Gotye (Making Mirrors)

26. “Henrietta” – The Fratellis (Costello Music)

25. “Prostitution is the World’s Oldest Profession (And I, Dear Madam, Am A Professional)” – Cobra Starship (¡Viva la Cobra!)

24. “Toy Boy” – Mika (The Boy Who Knew Too Much)

23. “That’s How People Grow Up” – Morrissey (Years of Refusal)

22. “Kiss with a Fist” – Florence + the Machine (Lungs)

21. “Girl with One Eye” – Florence + the Machine (Lungs)

20. “Home” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (Up From Below)

19. “The World Should Revolve Around Me” – Little Jackie (The Stoop)

18. “You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)” – The White Stripes (Icky Thump)

17. “Out of the Blue” – Julian Casablancas (Phrazes for the Young)

16. “Hum Hallelujah” – Fall Out Boy (Infinity On High)

15. “Wanna-Be Angel” – Foxy Shazam (Foxy Shazam)

14. “Happy Ending” – Mika (Life in Cartoon Motion)

13. “Fresh Attitude, Young Body” – Bomb the Music Industry! (Scrambles)

12. “Pacific Coast Highway” – Hole (Nobody’s Daughter)

11. “Guilty Pleasure” – Cobra Starship (¡Viva la Cobra!)

10. “Disloyal Order of Water Buffaloes” – Fall Out Boy (Folie a Deux)

9. “Animals” – CocoRosie (The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn)

8. “Killin’ It” – Foxy Shazam (Foxy Shazam)

7. “‘The Take Over, the Break’s Over'” – Fall Out Boy (Infinity On High)

6. “Grace Kelly” – Mika (Life in Cartoon Motion)

5. “That Green Gentleman (Things Have Changed)” – Panic at the Disco (Pretty. Odd.)

4. “Ludlow St.” – Julian Casablancas (Phrazes for the Young)

3. “Werewolf” – CocoRosie (The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn)

2. “Dog Days Are Over” – Florence + the Machine (Lungs)

1. “Oh Lord” – Foxy Shazam (Foxy Shazam)

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The 25 Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes, Pt. 4: #10-1

Alright. I know everyone has been on the edge of their seat waiting for me to finish up this damn Buffy list. I know I have, and my ass is starting to get pretty sore. From sitting on the edge of my seat, you see. That’s not how chairs are supposed to work.

Anyway, the final installment is here, but first, an announcement:

Lenny of Lenny Tunes and I have created a podcast in which we discuss our mutual favorite thing in the world, television. It’s called Secret Lover (1), and I don’t care what your favorite podcast is; you’re about to trade up.(2) You have your choice of downloading and/or streaming it on iTunes or Podbean! Lucky you!

And now, on to the thrilling conclusion of my list of the 25 best episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Images are from LeaveMeTheWhite.com unless otherwise noted.

10. Tabula Rasa (06×08)

Anya: What? I’m just saying what everyone’s thinking, right baby?
Xander: You are attractive and have many good qualities.

The delightfulness of this everybody-gets-amnesia episode is undercut only slightly by the fact that no one would have gotten wacky magical amnesia in the first place if Willow weren’t an abusive girlfriend. The highlights of the episode are watching Spike and Giles decide they must be a father and son and then try to work out their issues, and watching Giles and Anya make out. Heehee. Plus, bonus Michelle Branch!

9. Intervention (05×18)

Buffybot: Angel’s lame. His hair grows straight up and he’s bloody stupid.

Awww, Buffybot. You’re all I need in life. This episode is great because it provides the sexy visual of Spike-on-Buffy action without forcing you to think about the unpleasant emotional reality of that couple. Plus, the readouts on Buffybot’s screen are hilarious (“Willow, best friend, gay [1999-present]” and “Positions1 Positions2 Positions3 Positions4” are two of my favorites.)

8. Passion (02×17)

Buffy: Giles didn’t set this up. Angel did. This is the wrapping for the gift.

I love a good Angelus episode. This has Giles going through one of the most horribly heart-wrenching moments of the entire series. My only complaint is the goddamn narration by Angel and/or Angelus that bookends the episode. Yeeeeeesh.

7. Innocence (02×14)

Angel: I got a message for Buffy.
Buffy: Then why don’t you give it to me yourself.
Angel: Oh, it’s not really the kind of message you tell. It sort of involves finding
the bodies of all your friends.

More Angelus. Yes please.

6. Surprise (02×13)

Oz: I’m gonna’ ask you to go out with me tomorrow night, and I’m kinda nervous about it, actually. It’s interesting.
Willow: Oh, well, if it helps at all, I’m gonna say ‘yes’.
Oz: Yeah, it helps. It creates a comfort zone.

Who doesn’t love thinking about teenagers losing their virginity? Um… it’s a great episode anyway.

5. Who Are You (04×16)

image from Buffy World

Buffy (in Faith’s body): Stop inching. You were inching!
Giles: Look, I know what you’re going to say, and, and…
Buffy (in Faith’s body): I’m Buffy.
Giles: All right, I didn’t know what you were going to say, but that doesn’t make you any less crazy.

This body-swap episode is especially amazing because of the skill with which Eliza Dushku and Sarah Michelle Gellar are able to impersonate each other. We’re all friends here, and I feel like I can be real with you guys, so I’ll just say it: Faith’s a terrible character. But, that said, this largely Faith-centered episode successfully sucks you in and makes you care about her. Nice.

4. Once More, With Feeling (06×06)

Sweet: Something’s cooking, I’m at the griddle/I gave Nero his very first fiddle.

MUSICAL EPISODE! MUSICAL EPISODE! MUSICAL EPISODE! Seriously, what can’t Joss Whedon do?

3. The Body (05×16)

Anya: I don’t understand! I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s… there’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And Xander’s crying and not talking. And I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch, ever. And she’ll never have eggs or yawn or brush her hair. Not ever. And no one will explain to me why.

This episode is beautiful and amazing. Too bad it’s horribly depressing and I never want to watch it again.

2. Restless (04×22)

Giles: Everybody that Willow’s ever met is out in that audience, including all of us. That means we have to be perfect.

This episode simultaneously reflects what dreams are like, explores the inner thoughts of the Scooby Gang, produces some of the weirdest, funniest lines of the entire series, AND seriously creeps me out every time I watch it. Now that’s good Buffy.

1. Hush (04×10)

(image from Buffy World)

Spike: Like I’d bite you, anyway.
Xander: Oh, you would.
Spike: Not bloody likely.
Xander: I happen to be very biteable, pal. I’m moist and delicious.
Spike: All right, yeah, fine. You’re a nummy treat.
Xander: And don’t you forget it.

It’s hard to come up with a good quote for this episode, since the vast majority of it is silent, but the above interaction between Spike and Xander is pretty adorable. I hardly even have to defend this episode since it’s widely regarded by Buffy fans as the best episode, so I guess I’ll just reiterate that it’s perfect and leave it at that.

Footnotes

(1) A reference to Homer Simpson’s immortal line about television: “Teacher. Mother. Secret lover.”

(2) Loving homage to a joke by comedian Anthony Jeselnik. Do y’all know about Anthony Jeselnik? I didn’t used to like him, but he’s beautiful and I’ve come to associate his face with his humor and, well… time makes fools of us all.

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The 25 Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes, part 3: 15-11

I hope you’re enjoying this walk down Buffy Memory lane as much as I am, gentle readers. Here’s the next installment of my list. If you need to catch up, you can read the first two installments of this list here and here. As always, screen caps are from Screencap Paradise, unless otherwise noted.

15. Halloween (02×06)

Image

Giles: “Break the spell, Ethan. Then leave this place and never come back.”
Ethan: “Why should I? What’s in the bargain for me?”
Giles: “You get to live.”

I believe my everlasting love of Ethan Rayne has already been documented, but I’ll reiterate: he is a wonderful villain, who brings with him the gifts of wacky mischief  and homoerotic undertones. I wish the show had used him in more than four episodes, but instead of dreaming of what might have been, I’ll just appreciate the times Ethan and I had together. In this episode, Ethan, making his first appearance, sells costumes to the kids that turn them into whatever they’re dressed as. Hence, the world goes topsy-turvy on us as Buffy becomes a simpering noblewoman who mistakes cars for demons and Xander becomes a living G.I. Joe. More importantly, this is the first episode to hint that back in his day, Giles was a total badass, and when the situation calls for it he’ll revert to that badassery in a heartbeat. The perfect man? You be the judge.
14. Earshot (03×18)
Image
I am my thoughts. If they exist in her, Buffy contains everything that is me and she becomes me. I cease to exist. Huh.” – Oz
 This episode makes fantastic use of Buffy having temporary mind-reading powers. We get Oz, the human incarnation of the phrase “still waters run deep,”;  Cordelia, who says everything she thinks; and poor Xander, who simply cannot stop thinking about sex for two seconds. I think we can all relate. “Earshot” also has one of the greatest comedic moments of the series when Xander and the lunch lady simultaneously catch each other doing bad things- and it takes them both a moment to realize that pouring rat poision into kids’ lunches trumps pilfering a piece of Jell-O. This also has an important lesson for teenagers, and, indeed, people of all ages: Nobody else notices you’re miserable because we’re all distracted by our own misery. Don’t kill anyone.
13. Living Conditions (04×02)
image from Buffyworld
Buffy: “So then she’s like, ‘It’s share-time.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh yeah? Share this!'”
Oz: “So either you hit her or you did your wacky mime routine for her.”
Buffy: “Well, I didn’t do either, actually. But she deserved it, don’t ya think?”
Oz: “Nobody deserves mime, Buffy.”

In this episode, Buffy starts to act more like me then ever! Then, everyone comments on what a bitch she’s being and it’s revealed that it’s because a monster is stealing her soul. Well, you win some, you lose some. At least this has the valuable lesson that no one should ever accuse Buffy of being crazy. Even when she only has half a soul, that girl has her shit together.

12. Band Candy (03×06)

Buffy: “Listen to me–”
Giles: “No, you listen to me. I’m your Watcher so you do what I tell you. Now sod off!”

This episode does a great job o drawing attention to how dumb teenagers act by showing the show’s adults acting like teenagers. We get to see Principal Snyder as a lame teenage nerd, Joyce Summers as a ditzy teenage girl who loves bad boys, and Giles as a badass Cockney teenager who goes around smashing shop windows for fun and gets so excited at the thought of Buffy beating up Ethan Rayne that he has to hop up and down to get it out of his system.

11. Storyteller (07×16)

“Oh, hello, there, gentle viewers. You caught me catching up on an old favorite. It’s wonderful to get lost in a story, isn’t it? Adventure and heroics and discovery: don’t they just take you away? Come with me now, if you will, gentle viewers. Join me on a new voyage of the mind. A little tale I like to call: Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyrs. ” – Andrew Wells

Season seven, as a whole, was not bringing it, but this episode, as an individual episode, almost makes up for that. This episode shows the adorable Andrew’s attempts to make a documentary about Buffy and the end of the world that makes him look like less of a best friend-murderer than he is, intercut with footage of Andrew’s fantasy sequences. Tom Lenk is unbelievable in this episode, giving both hilariously bizarre line deliveries and a heartbreakingly real emotional performance. We are as gods!

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The 25 Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes, part 2: 20-16

It’s Whedon season, and I’m needonin’ some Whedonin’. To tide me over until much anticipated (by me, at least) Whedon flicks Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers come out later this month, I’m revisiting the best episodes of Joss’s best show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

If you missed it, you can read the first part of this list here: The 25 Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes, part 1: 25-21.

Photos are from Screencap Paradise.

20. “I Was Made to Love You” (05×15)

Buffy: Can you cry? Sometimes I feel better when I cry. But… there might be rust issues.

April: Crying is blackmail. Good girlfriends don’t cry.

Is anything more relatable than a sex robot getting rejected by her creator/boyfriend and then going on a violent rampage? Not to me, but I’m not known for having the healthiest relationships. This episode (which introduces the nerd we all love to hate and hate to love, Warren Mears) is adorably sad while still being entertaining and having some funny moments. Be warned, though- the last scene, which is unrelated to the episode plot, will bum you all the way out. No judgements if you turn off your TV the second Buffy steps into her house.

19. “The Wish” (03×09)

Xander: And they burst in, rescuing us, without even knocking? I mean, this is really all their fault.
Buffy: Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic.
Xander: Mine is much more advanced.

In the wake of her split with Xander– caused by finding him kissing notorious overalls-wearer Willow– Cordelia makes a wish with a vengeance demon (Anya! Welcome to the show, Anya!) that Buffy had never come to Sunnydale. Kind of a weird wish, when you think about it, since her problem is with Xander and Willow, but I guess I’ll give her a pass since she was just idly saying that and didn’t know it would come true. It does come true, though, and we get a glimpse into what Sunnydale would be like without Buffy and, equally unnerving, what Buffy would be like without Sunnydale. Most things would be awful, sure, but at least Angel would get tortured a whole lot! Oh well, I guess it’s not worth it.

18. “Lovers Walk” (03×08)

“I gave her everything – beautiful jewels, beautiful dresses, with beautiful girls in them, but nothing made her happy. And she would flirt! I caught her on a park bench, making out with a chaos demon! Have you ever seen a chaos demon? They’re all slime and antlers.” – Spike

This episode has a recently dumped Spike being a whiny little bitch, then sort of getting rapey with Willow. It also has Joyce thinking that Spike is a nice young man she should make hot cocoa for, and that Angel is a monster. (She has some good points there.) What can I say? Those are pretty much my two favorite things.

17. Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered (02×16)

Angelus: Dear Buffy. I’m still trying to decide the best way to send my regards.
Spike: Why don’t you rip her lungs out? It might make an impression.
Angelus: Lacks… poetry.
Spike: It doesn’t have to. What rhymes with lungs?

Amy the witch turns Buffy into a rat for the majority of “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered,” but despite having less Buffy than any other Buffy, this episode, about Xander and Cordelia fleeing the angry mob of Xander-admiring girls created by a love spell gone awry, is still a delight to watch. Oh, Xand. When will you learn that love spells don’t solve anything? I guess after this episode. Asked and answered.

16. “Superstar” (04×17)

Buffy: “Giles, do you have a Jonathan swimsuit calendar?”
Giles: “No. (pause) Yes. It was a gift.”

Finally, the Scoobies get transported to a universe where Jonathan Levinson is the coolest guy in the world-which, incidentally, is the universe I already live in. It’s awesome to see Danny Strong play a character who’s almost as cool a dude as he is for once. Plus, we get the delight of seeing every character drool over Jonathan, as well as confirmation that no matter what the situation, Buffy’s natural leadership skills will come out eventually.

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The Best Podcast Episodes of the Week: March 25-31

Look, there’s a lot of podcasts out there, and honestly, most of them aren’t so great.  I know. I listen to a lot of them, and oftentimes it brings me nothing but heartache. To save you the arduous task of wading through the pod-roughs to find the one pod-diamond, I’ve decided to start recommending a finite number of podcast episodes each week. This week I’m going with five, one for each drive/ride/walk to work/school.

5. Sklarbro Country: “Hurdler Backpack”

Guests: Taran Killam, James Adomian, and Dan Van Kirk

Look, you guys, I do not care about sports AT ALL. I’m too busy putting on mascara and thinking about baby names to watch a football game. Gender socialization is oppressive, am I right? When I have children they’ll all wear yellow clothes and play with trucks and dolls and have medium-length hair and gender-neutral names like Ashton and Sasha. I am a first-year sociology student, I know what I’m talking about, you guys. Anyway, the point is that we live in a patriarchal society and need to cast off the shackles of male oppression. The other point is that despite not understanding the games they discuss or knowing anything about the athletes they mock, I still find this show immensely enjoyable because the Sklars are just so damn fun to listen to. Plus, this week their guest the adorable and charming Taran Killem of SNL.

4. Who Charted? with Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack: “Ronna & Beverly”

Guests: Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo

Who Charted? is one of the few podcasts I enjoy listening to every week, regardless of who the guest is. However, I was a little skeptical when I saw the guests this week were Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo in character as Jewish fiftysomethings Ronna and Beverly. The Ronna and Beverly podcast is one of only two that I’ve ever turned off in the middle due to boredom despite Paul F. Tompkins being the guest. (The other one was Aisha Tyler’s podcast. Bleh.) I don’t know how to explain it, but being around chartists Howard and Kulap somehow made these two entertaining, and I actually really enjoyed them on this week’s show. They kind of put me in mind of Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler’s Bronx Beat characters, which is something I need more of in my life.

3. Freakonomics Radio : “The Power of the President — and the Thumb”

This show is really, really good, always, and this week was just as entertaining and informative as always. The first half addresses the question, “Does the President matter?” (Short answer no with an “if”, long answer yes with a “but”) and the second is about the decreased popularity of hitchhiking. Both are updates of old episodes, but there’s enough new content here that I was still interested. Since I have the attention span of famous ADD sufferer Adam Levine, odds are you’ll be interested, too.

2. Your Mom’s House with Christina Pazsitzky and Tom Segura: “Episode 41”

Guests: Paul F. Tompkins

I’ve never listened to this podcast before and, I’ll be honest with you, I’ll most likely never listen to it again, but as Paul F. Tompkins goes, so goes my podcast listenership. PFT advertised this as the “raunchiest [he] ever get[s] or [has] gotten,” and that statement stressed me out more than perhaps it should have. Look, I go to PFT for high-brow comedy about opera hats and cake dragees and stuff. If I wanted a poop joke I’d buy a Larry the Cable Guy album, you know? I was relieved that this episode was just PFT being the PFT I know and love. The raunchiest he got was grudgingly responding to a “would you rather” scenario that involved penises, then  being asked if he’d rather “fill up/seal shut” Penelope Cruz or Salma Hayak and remarking that “fill up” and “seal shut” are weird euphemisms for sex. The married couple that hosts this show is a little gross for my liking, but with PFT in there classing up the joint this is still a delightful listen.

1. Comedy Bang Bang: “Time Bobby”

Guests: Paul F. Tompkins, Bobby Moynihan

And more PFT! Hurray! This week’s episode of CBB has the “co-host/interviewee” spot, normally filled by some sort of real celebrity, occupied by Mr. Tompkins in character as perhaps the classiest of all his characters, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. It also features adorable little SNLster Bobby Moynihan as a scrappy street urchin with a passion for musical theater and a penchant for stabbing people. Also Scott Aukerman is there, doing his hosting thing! Yay! Aukerman! Seriously you guys, just listen to the episode. You shan’t regret it.

Pictures from EarwolfRadio.com YourMomsHousePodcast.com, and WhiteHouse.Gov.

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The 25 Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes, part 1: 25-21

Is it just me, or has Joss Whedon been a lot more active lately? I’ll admit that I haven’t really been paying attention to him, but I haven’t noticed a lot of Whedon projects in the past few years. Now, suddenly, he has two movies (The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods) coming out this spring that I would be super excited to see even if Whedon’s name wasn’t attached to them. I am thrilled for this Whedonaissance, whether or not it is occurring solely in my mind, and so in honor of dear Joss, I’ve compiled a list of the twenty-five best episodes of what is, to me, clearly his masterpiece: Buffy, Slayer of the Vampyres.

Pictures are from Screencap Paradise.

The 25 Best Buffy the Vampire Slayer Episodes: #25-21

25. “The Weight of the World” (05×21)

Willow: “Ben and Glory are the same person?

Xander: “Glory can turn into Ben and Ben turns back into Glory.”

Anya: “And anyone who sees it instantly forgets.”

Giles: “Now, do we suspect that there may be some kind of connection between Ben and Glory?”

For nearly five full seasons, Buffy shouldered the burden of averting Apocalypse after Apocalypse all by herself. Okay, the Scoobies were there too to look up names of demons and act as bate and stuff, but come on. Buffy did all the heavy lifting. Having that insane workload would send any other person “howling to the nut house,” as Dean Winchester would say. “The Weight of the World” shows Buffy finally having a well-earned mental breakdown. In order to save her from her catatonic state, Willow magics herself into Buffy’s brain and travels  through some of  the most important memories she finds there, providing us a glimpse into Buffy’s wonderful, tortured, heartbreaking brain. Oh, Buff.

24. “Something Blue” (04×09)

“So the plan is to cure my total incapacitating blindness tomorrow, is it?” – Giles

Willow does a spell to to “have her will done,” (spell-language is just the worst, isn’t it?) that doesn’t take into account the prevalence of figurative speech. Because of this, Giles ends up blind, Xander ends up hunted by every demon in a five-mile radius, and, most importantly, Spike and Buffy end up ickily, gushingly in love with each other and start planning a wedding. The plot is an eentsy bit flimsy and this is the beginnings of Willow becoming the most selfish character in the world, but it’s such a fun, hilarious episode that I forgive it, and so should you.

23. “Fear Itself” (04×04)

Giles: “The summoning spell for Gachnar can be shut down in one of two ways. Destroying the Mark of Gachnar…

[Buffy destroys the Mark of Gachnar]

Giles: “..is not one of them, and will in fact immediately bring forth the fear demon itself.”

When will college kids learn that idly painting pentagrams on their floors is dangerous? Damn kids.  The gang heads to a a Halloween party and, wouldn’t you know it, all their deepest fears end up coming true. Thankfully, none of these characters are too messed up, and all of them have fears like being invisible and turning into a werewolf, so this episode is fun to watch rather than deeply upsetting. This one goes down in Buffy history as the episode that originated Anya’s famous rabbit phobia. It also goes down in the Buffy history of my heart as the episode where Giles wears a sombrero and wields a chainsaw.

22. “A New Man” (04×12)

Buffy: “Please don’t die!”
Giles: “Actually, I feel quite well, except for the rage.”

I’m a sucker for a good Ethan Rayne episode! He never raises the stakes too high; instead of wanting to end the world or enslave humanity, he just wants to stir up a little trouble. I won’t lie, I also love to see the longing in his eyes when he looks at Giles. I’m right there with you, Rayney. Giles is a gorgeous hunk of man. This episode, about a depressed and defeated Giles getting transformed into a demon, has it all: Spike and Giles teaming up out of necessity, stupid Maggie Walsh getting a well-deserved demon-chasing, and, of course, proof that Buffy knows Giles better than anyone has ever known anyone.

21. “The Harsh Light of Day” (04×03)

Xander: “So… the crux of this plan is…”
Anya: “Sexual intercourse. I’ve said it, like, a dozen times.”
Xander: “Uh-huh. Just working through a little hysterical deafness here.”
Anya: “I think it’s the secret to getting you out of my mind. Putting you behind me. Behind me figuratively. I’m thinking face-to-face for the event itself.”

This episode, I am willing to bet, is much more popular with lady-viewers than with the other kind, since it’s essentially about how men are kind of the worst. Buffy sleeps with Parker and then gets the old we-were-just-having-fun-you-knew-what-this-was speech. Anya sleeps with Xander, who promptly ditches her without explanation. A newly vampirized Harmony just wants her new boyfriend Spike to forget about his ex, but instead he tries to kill her. Willow escapes unscathed, because she is dating only-nice-guy-in-the-world Oz! This episode’s a bit of a bummer, but damn it, it tells it like it is. Plus, Harmony and Spike have the best dynamic ever– you know, when he’s not trying to murder her.

Those are some good episodes, y’all. But there are twenty more even better episodes ahead! Isn’t it nice to have something to look forward to in your bleak existence?

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