Tag Archives: grey’s anatomy

When Television Gets Bad, It Gets Ugly

I think TV is like Thai food — it’s either really good, or horrendously bad.  However, unlike pad thai dripped with e.coli, sometimes I can’t tell when a show is bad.  I keep on tuning in, watching week after week, until the evil hits me straight in the face, like Chris Brown.  Afterwards, at least I can see the crap that I’ve put up with for so long. 

gossip girl 5Every bad show has a breaking point, where it turns into an abusive, sick-inducing pile of garbage.  The O.C. went downhill once Marissa became a lesbian.  Grey’s Anatomy kicked the bucket once Izzy started sleeping with the ghost of her dead husband.  And The Hills was always terrible, although it became even more unbearable once Kristin showed up. 

For me, all of these shows died at critical inflection points: lesbianism, ghosts, and annoying skankbags.  And after watching Gossip Girl tonight, I’m beginning to wonder if GG is heading towards the junkyard too.  This week’s episode featured more inbred infighting (yawn), lovechild drama (yawn), and some creepy old people singing (Sonic Youth is an ironic name for a tone-deaf band of geezers).  The teaser for next week’s Gossip Girl featured backroom gambling.  As if Blair Waldorf would ever set foot in a room with bad lighting.  Come on. 

Sometimes I feel like I know the characters better than they know themselves.  Marissa isn’t a lesbian!  Blair wouldn’t gamble!  But the TV writers come up with such creative ways to make us believe that it could work: blame it on the al-a-a-al-a-alcohol, baby.  Or, blame it on a brain tumor.  Or, blame it on the need for a blonde reality star to serve as the center of Prada-loving Satan’s attention.

In either case, I would like to bid farewell to Gossip Girl, the latest member of the bad TV crowd to show its true colors.   And just for the record, I can’t really tell when my pad thai is swimming with e.coli either.  So I suppose the analogy is better than I thought.

And on a completely random, unrelated note: if you want a stomach-turning experience, please see this terrifying Tabasco commercial with pepperoni faces.  For some reason, it really creeps me out.  I will never eat pizza again.


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Work Diary: Sept. 17, 2009… The Routine

Female, 24, Midtown Manhattan, working in corporate finance but disillusioned… would prefer to be a writer, but doesn’t have the balls to pull it off yet.  Somewhat related to the ‘female’ part.

7:30 AM – Waking Up

Monday to Friday, my alarm goes off at 7:30 AM to the cacophony of Z100’s Elvis Duran and the Morning Zoo.  As with any quality FM morning show, I’m immediately thrown into a state of utter chaos: yelling, laughing, arguing, screeching, and the occasional clip of turtles having sex (one of the Morning Zoo’s favorites).  I’m not quite sure why I allow my brain to get filled with celebrity gossip, stupid news, and turtle copulation every morning.  But perhaps I just need some dysfunction to prepare myself for the day.

8:15 AM – Getting Dressed


It’s sad that choosing an outfit for work will be the most important decision that I make all day.  Most of the time, I simply try to look “not homeless.”  I have a rotating set of acceptable, uninspired work outfits that I choose from.  So my important daily decision comes down to whether I want to look more Banana Republic, or more J. Crew.  But given my stellar (lack of) fashion sense, whatever I choose and however much I try, I probably end up looking more Talbots than anything.  Evidence?  I own corduroy shorts.  They’re not cute.

8:30 AM – The Commute

nyccommuteOutside of war victims and child prostitutes, NYC commuters are the most miserable, despondent people in the entire world.  On my walk to work, I’ll see at least twenty pigeons, at least ten piles of overflowing trash, and if lucky, a couple  of rats.  But I have never, ever, seen a smile at 8:30 AM in the morning in New York City.  If I were to see someone smiling while walking to work, I’d probably pass out right there from shock.

8:45 AM – Getting to Work

Even if I’m dreading work, for some reason I feel compelled to get there as fast as possible.  I’ve learned to dodge tourists, puddles, and dog crap with astounding alacrity.  But once I actually make it to the office, I get the sinking feeling that I just arrived early to my own waterboarding session.  Why did I run through a blinking stop, hipcheck an elderly woman, and narrowly avoid death by taxi…so that I could be on time for work?

8:46 AM to INFINITY – The Work Day

While every day is different, here is an example of how I spent today, Sept. 17, 2009, written in the spirit of NYMag’s sex diaries.  (I would write those if I had an exciting personal life, but clearly, the only romance I ever encounter is the symphonic turtle kind):

  • 9:15 AM: I need to get a new ID card, since my old one stopped working.  The woman tells me that she does not have my current ID photo on file, so she has to take a new one.  nicknolteOf course, this is the one day that I had planned to be a hermit at my desk, avoiding people at all costs in my “I need to do laundry” outfit.  My new ID photo comes out looking like I just got hopped up on acid with Nick Nolte.  I manage to have a droopy eye and a double chin.  It’d be a perfect mugshot if I were getting arrested for crystal meth.
  • 9:25 AM: I run into a co-worker in the elevator.  The elevators in my building could rival the ones on Grey’s Anatomy for the “Slowest Elevators in History” award.  (Also, I always seem to run into the EVP of the company in the elevator bank.  Of course, I only see him on days when I’m getting in late or leaving early.  I never see him otherwise.)  Our elevator is packed.  Above another guy’s head, my co-worker asks me how I’m doing.  I say I’m doing well.  Then she asks, “Living the dream?”  “Every single day,” I reply.  The entire elevator lets out a collective guffaw.  At least I’m not the only one.
  • 10:41 AM: I get an email asking me to put together a few slides for investment bankers, because part of our company is expected to go on the market.  So basically, I’m being asked to do something that may lead to my ultimate firing, once the company is gutted and sold.  (It’s like asking me to sharpen the axe that will chop off my head.)  Still, I happily oblige.
  • 1:06 PM: I get an instant message from a co-worker, lauding me for one of the “most genius accounting jokes” she’s ever heard.”  This is the joke I wrote, in the spirit of Chuck Norris: “Keith Sherin can always recognize revenue, even from far away.”  I contemplate becoming a stand-up comedian for accountants… but then I remember that most accountants don’t have a sense of humor.
  • davematthews3:10 pM: I discover that there is a co-worker in another office named Dave Matthews.  I spend ten blissful minutes hypothesizing as to What [he] Would Say about about our Satellite operations.
  • 4:01 PM: I overhear a woman who sits next to me say, “My motto is, no one’s life is that fabulous.”  She’s obviously never met Tina Fey.
  • 4:02 PM: I get an email in my inbox from the head of HR, telling us that health benefits are changing.  I blame Max Baucus.
  • 5:25 PM: A co-worker tells me that she’s doing SOX testing.  I ask her what she thinks is better, wool or cotton?  (This is the second time in my life that I’ve made this joke, sadly.)  I chuckle silently to myself.
  • 6:45 PM: Heading home.  Another day, another dollar.

doughboyTOTALS: Two accounting jokes, one reference to healthcare reform, one fantasy about DMB in corporate finance, 50+ instances where I questioned what I was doing with my life (excluded above, since that just gets annoying), and one new ID photo in which I look like a drugged Pillsbury Dough Boy.


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Diversity in TV Shows Today… Do We Still Need a Color Television?

Update 4/7/09: Well, there goes another one.  Goodbye to Kal Penn’s Dr. Kutner.  He’s moving on to another House, one of far greater prominence.

Update 2/18/09: Yesterday’s article in the LA Times reports on the diversity phenomenon in television… While the Times may have a different definition of “lead character” than I do, the message is still the same: Diverse characters just aren’t found in scripted programming these days.

On my way to work on Monday, I told a co-worker that I had seen He’s Just Not That Into You over the weekend. “It looks cute,” my co-worker said, “But I don’t want to see it on principle… it’s too white. Where are all the minorities?”

Let’s see: in the movie, all the primary characters were… white. All the couplings… white. All the love connections… white. There were a few gay men who were minorities, and Justin Long did make out with a black girl, but other than that, the movie was one long, bad, whitewashed chick flick.

Strangely, even as a minority myself, I didn’t notice that the cast was all white before I went to the theater. However, my co-worker’s stand resounded with me (she, by the way, is white). Our country is supposed to be a “melting pot” — our minority populations are growing — and oh, our President is black. So why is Hollywood so white?

Entertainment Weekly ran a story a few months ago about diversity in entetainment: “Why is TV so white?”

There was a time when diversity seemed to come naturally to prime time. The social consciousness of the ’70s spawned successful sitcoms like The Jeffersons, Good Times, and Sanford and Son; the ’80s brought living-in-harmony comedy Diff’rent Strokes and the ultimate breakthrough TV family on The Cosby Show

After nearly 10 years of working with diversity reps and outreach programs, the networks still primarily solve the problem by sprinkling nonwhite actors into white-led shows — often as a comedic sidekick or in guy-who-helps-the-main-guy-solve-a-crime roles.

So I decided to take a look at the current TV lineup to see just how white it actually is. I went through all the network shows in primetime, excluding all reality/news programming. For the shows that I didn’t personally watch, the litmus test was whether the show’s website included pictures of diverse characters on their main page.

From there, I color-coded all the shows that featured the following:(1)


Based on thorough scouring of show websites, and operating under the assumption that some cartoon characters were meant to be white, what I found confirmed the EW report and my co-worker’s concerns.(2) (Of course, I don’t have 90 hours a week to carefully watch each show for its contribution to diversity, so feel free to email me with anything I’ve missed or gotten wrong.)

Out of 90 hours of primetime programming per week, there are 32.5 hours dedicated to reality TV, news, or Sunday night movies. Of the remaining 57.5 hours of scripted series:

  • Shows with ANY minority primary characters: 13.5 hours (Heroes, Scrubs, 90210, Law & Order, Lost, 30 Rock, ER, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, My Name is Earl, Friday Night Lights, Everybody Hates Chris, The Game, Desperate Housewives, The Unit, The Simpsons)
  • Shows with MULTIPLE minority primary characters or leads: 6.5 hours (Heroes, Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, ER, Private Practice… and this is counting ABC’s double-airing of Lost on Wednesdays)
  • Shows with a LEAD minority character: 3 hours (Ugly Betty, The Unit, Everybody Hates Chris, The Game)


So, out of the 57.5 hours of scripted programming, 76% of this programming features all-white leading casts. Only 4 shows have minority lead characters, and two of them air on Friday nights on the CW.

Finally, just some parting thoughts on diversity in entertainment:

  • Derek and Meredith, Jim and Pam, Kate and Jack/Sawyer… We’ve seen interracial couples flow seamlessly through the Grey’s Anatomy plotlines, but how many other shows have done it? Even in the diverse ensemble casts, why does the main love story/central relationship in the show always feature only one race? I’m not talking about flings, I’m talking about the Ross and Rachels… makes me wonder.
  • The lack of diversity isn’t limited to network TV either… some of the hottest shows on cable (Burn Notice, Damages, The Closer) and pay TV (Entourage, Californication, Big Love) are lily white.
  • A show featuring a minority family has not earned broad mass appeal in more than a decade. Has something systemically changed in our audience today? Are we more or less racially polarized? How would the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or The Cosby Show do today? How would The George Lopez Show or The Bernie Mac Show have done then?
  • Will we ever see a show with an Asian lead on network TV?

(1) Lead character(s): The main storylines are centered around this/these character(s). They serve as the face of the show, and are featured in every episode. With a show like House, the lead character would obviously be Hugh Laurie’s Dr. House. In Grey’s Anatomy, the lead would be Meredith Grey. Even though it is an ensemble cast, she provides the voice-over and has the sickeningly cute doctor-boyfriend. Similarly, in The Office, it would be Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott… in 30 Rock, Tina Fey… etc.
Primary character(s): Not every show has primary characters who are not leads. Primary characters are mostly part of an ensemble cast where their characters also have a backstory that is shared with the viewer. Examples: Jenny in Gossip Girl, Hurley in Lost, Jim and Pam on The Office… etc.
(2) In this exercise, I did not look for minority secondary characters because I figured that most shows did have diversity in this sense, per the EW quote above.


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Oh, Womanizer, Oh, You’re a Womanizer Baby

Over the years, we’ve always had a soft spot for the bad boys, the jocks, the rebels, and the reformed. There was something about the guys’ guy that whet our appetite for a challenge. The reluctant hero beguiled us, and the tortured soul tugged on our heartstrings. The ultra macho he-men made us want to watch Bowflex commercials on repeat. These are the men who made us laugh, made us cry, and made us want to take them home. They compelled us ladies to demand nothing less than a great sense of humor and an eight-pack of abs.

Of course, even if we didn’t have AC Slater’s pecs, we made up for it with Pacey’s charm. Or Dylan’s earnestness. Or Ryan’s from-the-streets sensibilities. Either way, the heartthrobs from 90210, Saved by the Bell, Dawson’s Creek, and The O.C. refined our collective taste for good men. If guys wanted a lady in the street but a freak in the sheets, then girls wanted chocolate bonbons: hard on the outside, but soft on the inside.


With all their personality, charisma, and good looks, our favorite bad boys always got the girl in the end. Dylan finally reconciled with Kelly, Slater stuck with pill-poppin’ Jessie, Joey chose Pacey, and Ryan… well, that show crashed and burned after season 3, so it’s fair to say that barring car chases and death, Ryan got Marissa.

greysgeorgeconquestsgreysgeorgeBut nowadays, a new group of men have replaced the earnest anti-heroes of the past. Our enigmatic soul searchers have given way to male characters who, well, just can’t keep it in their pants. There’s George (T.R. Knight) from Grey’s Anatomy, the awkward, bumbly intern at Seattle Grace who has inexplicably slept with more female leads than the character they call McSteamy (Eric Dane). Three to two, Dr. Sloan. Then there’s Nate Archibald (Chace Crawford), the feel-bad-for-me rich kid from the Upper East Side, who has slept with all three of the teenage female leads on Gossip Girl… and there are four in total. Don’t feel bad for little J, though — she made out with Nate earlier this season (Jenny’s brother broke it up before they could get too serious). Now that Nate’s 4/4 with the young girls, we’ll see if he moves on to the mothers soon… If you watch the show, you know that it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.

ggnatesconquestsWith George knocking boots with half the female doctors in Seattle, and Nate batting 1.000 while still in high school, it got me thinking… what happened? Is it a sign of the times that we demand philandering doctors and promiscuous pretty boys? Does the 18-34 demographic really want to see these guys rotating through the female leads like cowboys at the rodeo?

Perhaps our standards have loosened. Or maybe we’re just championing a character that we haven’t quite embraced before. Indeed, nothing deifies a new persona like a Britney Spears song…

It seems womanizers are the champion of the new young and hip generation. But personally, I’m not ready to let go of my chocolate bonbons yet — I’d rather stick to the hardened softie, the one-woman Ryan Atwood, over the womanizing polygamist Nate Archibald.  Because if you trade in a good thing for a mystery box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get…  what disease, that is.  XOXO.

Daddy-O / You got the swagger of champion
Too bad for you / Just can’t find the right companion
I guess when you have one too many, makes it hard / It could be easy
Who you are, that’s who you are, baby

Womanizer, Woman-Womanizer / You’re a womanizer
Oh womanizer, Oh / You’re a womanizer, baby
You, you, you are / You, you, you are
Womanizer, womanizer, womanizer


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Best All-Around: Damages (10 pm, Wednesdays, FX)

Now that awards season is upon us, it’s time to reflect on the past fall’s TV lineup and welcome the spring slate of shows (new and returning) that will ease our winter hibernation. While American Idol will likely win its 8th “Most Popular” title in a row, here are some television superlatives, high school-style, for your viewing pleasure:

MOST POPULAR: American Idol (8 pm, Tuesdays, FOX) The crazier Paula Abdul gets, the better ratings the show receives… That’s a good combination for FOX, since that woman is straight up insane, and Simon’s getting a bit boring.

tim-rigginsBEST LOOKING: It’s a toss-up between Simon Baker on The Mentalist (9 pm, Tuesdays, CBS) and Taylor Kitsch as Tim Riggins of Friday Night Lights (9 pm, Fridays, NBC). Given that Riggs is actually in high school, perhaps he deserves this award. On the other side, I’ll let the guys decide who they prefer on Gossip Girl (8 pm, Mondays, CW): Blair or Serena?

MOST CRAZY (IN A GOOD WAY): Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock (9:30 pm, Thursdays, NBC)… This is why 30 Rock won 5 Golden Globes.

MOST CRAZY (IN A BAD WAY): Mrs. B as a crazy mom on the reality show, Momma’s Boys, which had its season finale on Monday night. Her poor son Jojo (who, by the way, was looking for love at the ripe old age of 21) tried to win over girls after his mother’s racist speech, declaring all but white Catholics suitable for her darling son. Jojo may need to try the priesthood now that this show has aired.

Layout 1BIGGEST TRAIN WRECK: I will nominate the entire cast of Grey’s Anatomy (9 pm, Thursdays, ABC) for this award. Let’s see, George has slept with 3 of the female leads, Meredith has had two ridiculous near death experiences (hand in bomb, ferryboat accident), and now Izzie is sleeping with the ghost of her dead ex-fiance (whom she accidentally killed). I used to watch this show religiously… these days, it’s lucky to get DVRed.

SAD FOR HUMANITY: There are a whole host of shows that fall into this category–Tool Academy on VH1, Rock of Love 2 on MTV, Nip/Tuck on FX (how fast it’s fallen)–but the runaway winner is MTV’s A Double Shot at Love, with the Ikki Twins. I think it’s pretty easy to justify how this show is sad for humanity; if you Google “double shot at love,” the first link leads to this proclamation: “OMG! i love a double shot at love even know im 10 years old i stull love you guys you guys are buteyful.” Future of America…

KILL IT NOW: We like watching fictional rich girls live out melodramas on the Upper East Side, but we don’t like watching melodramatic rich girls live out fictional storylines in The City (10 pm, Mondays, MTV). Spare us the misery of watching Whitney attempt to be interesting. I’d almost rather watch Bromance on repeat than sit through another episode of The City… well, almost. In both scenarios, death would be a welcome alternative.

damagesBEST ALL-AROUND: Speaking of death, I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Glenn Close as Patty Hewes on Damages (10 pm, Wednesdays, FX). Why is it that Glenn Close always plays crazy so well? With the best cast, the best plotlines, and the best stony looks on television (thanks, Rose Byrnes), Damages is my new favorite show (FNL is a close #2). And you know it’s got to be good when you need to keep a light on while watching.

WHAT I’LL BE WATCHING THIS SPRING: (suggestions, comments, insults, and digs always appreciated)


8 PM: Gossip Girl (CW)

9:30 PM: Samantha Who (ABC)


8 PM: The Biggest Loser (NBC)


9 PM: Lost (ABC)

10 PM: Damages (FX) / Top Chef (Bravo)


9 PM: The Office (NBC) / 30 Rock (NBC) / Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)


9 PM: Friday Night Lights (NBC)

And on occasion: Bones (8 pm, Thursdays, FOX), Without a Trace (10 pm, Tuesdays, CBS…and the only CBS show I’m watching), House Hunters and Property Virgins (HGTV), Iron Chef America (Food Network)

They’ve got potential: Some new shows with promise… Kings (8 pm, Sundays, NBC), Lie to Me (9 pm, Wednesdays, FOX)


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Having a Career vs. Having a Life: Mission Impossible?

We’ve talked before about defining success… now that we have an idea of what success means to us, how do we go about achieving it? If we want to focus on our career, can we have a personal life too? If we want to focus on family, can we still succeed in our jobs? Is it possible to “have it all”?

No: Simple economics tells us that we can’t. Like the graph below shows, every hour spent working is one hour less at home. It can be reasonably assumed that achieving professional success requires an enormous investment in time: an article about Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Outliers describes his theory that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to succeed at a given skill. “The greatest athletes, entrepreneurs, musicians and scientists emerge only after spending at least three hours a day for a decade mastering their chosen field.” Within business, many varied skills are necessary in order to climb the corporate ladder. For all the hours we spend working, networking, and honing our communication skills, our lives can easily start to revolve solely around our jobs. Given that there are a finite 24 hours in a day, we must make sacrifices if we want to be a CEO, or a doctor, or secret agent Ethan Hunt. Whether that means spending less time with friends, cutting back dates with a significant other, or taking fewer vacation days to visit family, we face tradeoffs.

Yes: While people do face tradeoffs, “having it all” is not a simple matter of time. Just as extra hours spent at work may not increase our productivity, extra hours spent at home may not improve our relationships. Economics only goes so far: we do have to make concessions with our time, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that success in our career and our personal life is mutually exclusive. Working fifteen hour days may leave us only with a few hours to ourselves, but we can accomplish a lot in a few hours. The quality of our time is far more important than simply having the time itself. Although we may need to put in extra effort to ensure that we are making the most of our spare moments with friends and family, this must be expected with the life we wish to lead. And in the beginning stages of our careers, true friends will understand that perhaps our jobs may come first.

In the end, I think the second graph is probably most accurate, as it is possible to fall along any area on this spectrum. While all of us would like to be in the first quadrant, it does take work and sacrifice. This sacrifice, however, is not choosing between your personal life and your job. Instead, it relates to prioritizing within our professional and personal lives: “having it all” is not the same as “doing it all.” With limits on our time, we may not always be able to do everything we want to do, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that our work/relationships will suffer as a result.

Lastly, this past week on Grey’s Anatomy, we saw the overworked Dr. McDreamy land on the cover of a medical journal while keeping his romance alive with kidney-dropping Meredith. We also saw Michael and Holly consummate their relationship on The Office, bringing workplace romance back to Scranton. Thus, from the annals of fake hospitals and fake paper companies, these are just a few examples of intersecting professional and personal success stories. Given that I take all my cues from Thursday night TV, is it possible then to “have it all”? Clearly, yes.

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The Best Shows on Television

My favorite TV shows (current):

#1: Friday Night Lights: One of the best shows of all time…that no one watches. This show has actually made me want to visit Texas in search of Tim Riggins. Gritty, real, heart-wrenching… any show that prominently features Applebees has to be high on one’s list. FNL is currently airing its 3rd (and likely last) season on DirecTV, although it will be re-aired on NBC in the spring.

#2: 30 Rock: With the emergence of Tina Palin’s new uber-celebrity, hopefully people will start watching it now. One of my favorite clips below… Coming back Oct. 30 on NBC Thursdays.

#3: Grey’s Anatomy: Our protagonist, Meredith, is whiny, neurotic, and somehow still likable. Add in floods, flesh-eating bacteria, and McDreamy, and this makes it a can’t-miss.

#4: The Office: The show that has made “that’s what she said” into an automatic, kneejerk reaction whenever you hear something like, “It [the test] was pretty hard,” or, “It [the shirt] was a little too long.”

#5: Lost: It’s kind of been out-of-sight, out-of-mind… When it comes back in January, it may catapult up this list.

Honorable Mentions: Gossip Girl (needs a longer track record to make this list), Damages (same as GG; needs a second good year to build off its first amazing season), Heroes (I’ve stopped watching this season… should try to pick it back up again), Project Runway (this cast has been kind of blah though), The Biggest Loser (always fun to watch other people work out while struggling to reach the remote from my place on the couch), So You Think You Can Dance (…dance, dance, dance)

Other shows I enjoy: Bones, Monk, Samantha Who, Jon & Kate Plus 8, The Amazing Race, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Designers Challenge, and most everything on the Food Network

Favorite TV shows (no longer airing):

#5: Dawson’s Creek

#4: Alias

#3: Frasier

#2: Will & Grace

#1: Friends

Honorable Mentions: Saved by the Bell, The Cosby Show, Fresh Price of Bel-Air, Cheers, Golden Girls, Mad About You

Shows I’ve never seen (or only saw a few episodes), but are on the to-watch list:

#5: Flight of the Conchords

#4: Brothers and Sisters

#3: 24

#2: The Wire

#1: Arrested Development (on DVD, I suppose)

Shows that make me sad for America: (ironically, all reality shows)

#5: The Moment of Truth

#4: The Real Housewives of Orange County

#3: A Shot of Love with Tila Tequila

#2: Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader

#1: My Super Sweet Sixteen

Honorable Mentions: Paris Hilton’s My New BFF, My Super Sweet Sixteen presents: Exiled, I Survived a Japanese Game Show


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