TIME Television

black-ish Whips Up a Conversation About Spanking


A suddenly topical episode about corporal punishment is the new show's riskiest, and its best yet.

I liked the pilot of black-ish a lot. But–as often happens with sitcom pilots–I wondered how the show would sustain the premise over a series. Would it, on the one hand, be a string of variations on “Is our family black enough?” questions? Or, on the other hand, would it settle in and become another ABC family comedy, with hijinks and conflicts and special holiday episodes?

Over its first few episodes, though, black-ish has shown that at best, it can be something more nuanced and rewarding than either. “Crime and Punishment,” the show’s riskiest episode and its best yet, uses a universal parental question–how to discipline kids–to both bring out illuminate its characters’ group identity and treat them as specific individuals.

“Crime and Punishment” gets at the racial dynamics of spanking, which came up most recently in the Adrian Peterson child abuse case. The injuries that Peterson’s son received went well beyond “spanking,” of course, but the controversy also raised the charge that Peterson’s critics were imposing outside values on black parents who still favored corporal punishment.

[Note! I'm not trying to draw sweeping conclusions about how black or white parents discipline, but that's the argument people were making. And for disclosure's sake, I'm not a spanker nor was spanked--though I was told my parents spanked my older siblings, so maybe they were just worn out by the time I came around. In any case, I'm not trying to adjudicate the spanking issue here, but feel free to have at it in the comments.]

Unlike the pilot, which underlined its points about what is and isn’t “a black thing,” “Crime and Punishment” doesn’t directly identify spanking as a racial-cultural issue. It doesn’t have to–by bringing Pops into the conversation (“An ass is an ass is an ass is an ass“), it shows that André and Rainbow’s ambivalence has everything to do with the tension between how they were raised and where they are now.

But that tension isn’t simply about race–it’s about time passing and social mobility and the different boundaries of acceptable parenting in different social and economic classes. It’s not “White folks punish their kids like this, but black folks punish their kids like that!” here. With impressive concision, the episode makes the point that there isn’t one “white” or “black” position on discipline–when it comes to parenting, there are millions of opinions, each certain it’s right (and terrified it’s wrong).

When André polls his coworkers, their experiences bring in other cultures (South Asian, Korean-American), different generations (his older boss remembers spanking almost fondly), and general anxiety about the future and class security (“countries that beat their kids are beating our asses”). André and Rainbow’s own private discussions betray their own fears about Jack’s future, imagining what spanking and not spanking will do to him both ways he ends up homeless, though in one scenario he has a dog. (This too comically echoed some of the rhetoric around Peterson, who said that his own parents’ discipline kept him from being “lost on the streets.”)

What worked best about André and Rainbow’s dilemma is that “Crime and Punishment” presented it as a conversation they’d had before: André spanked Junior once, and they decided never again. (This again is an improvement on the pilot, in which the are-the-kids-black-enough questions, while funny, seemed to be suddenly hitting André for the first time, though at this point he’s the father of teenagers.)

The conversation was, for broadcast primetime, refreshingly direct: not just “spanking,” but “beating” and “whipping.” For all the parenting comedy on TV, corporal punishment rarely comes up as a question on sitcoms today–even though it certainly comes up in viewers’ homes. (The pilot of Modern Family, actually, included a subplot about Phil vowing to shoot Luke with a BB gun as punishment for shooting his sister, but it played mostly as slapstick.)

And it took its time coming up here too: according to an interview with Vulture, the episode was one of the first made, and producer Kenya Barris hoped it would air as the show’s second episode. After the Peterson scandal, ABC held off. But I hope the network gives black-ish the running room to be provocative like this in the future; there aren’t many sitcoms right now outside South Park that I could see doing a similarly funny-but-slightly-uncomfortable topical story.

And it gives me hope for black-ish as a series. “Crime and Punishment” was something different in a primetime network sitcom, in a way that wasn’t entirely about its characters race and wasn’t entirely not about race either. “Should we spank?,” it argued, is not simply a black parents’ question. But it’s also one to which these specific characters’ blackness is not irrelevant. It is–as they say–black… ish.

TIME celebrities

Sofia Vergara on Taking Risks as an Actor: “It’s Not Like We’re Doing Brain Surgery”

Sofia Vergara
Follow The Script Campaign/AbbVie

...And other advice from the Modern Family star

Most know Sofia Vergara for her role as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the long-running hit ABC comedy Modern Family. But many don’t know that Vergara, the highest-paid actress on TV, is also a survivor of thyroid cancer. Diagnosed at 28, Vergara had her thyroid removed, developed hypothyroidism and has been on medication ever since. Vergara is now a spokesperson for the Follow the Script campaign, which aims to raise awareness about hypothyroidism.

TIME sat down with Vergara to talk about surviving cancer, that controversial Emmys skit and how actresses can lean in.

TIME: You were criticized this year for your Emmys skit in which you were placed on a pedestal. Were you surprised by that?

Sofia Vergara: Yes, I was. Obviously it was a joke. It was something that was staged. It wasn’t like I was tricked into it. So we were laughing about how some people have to bully others for no reason.

I’ve read that the character of Gloria is based on you. How similar are you two?

I play her the way I see my mother and my aunt behave as Latin women. And now the writers know more about the Latin culture than when I started doing the show, and they know me better, too. So at this point, I pretty much follow the script.

But before you would improvise more?

Well, not improvise. I would talk to them and tell them, “We wouldn’t do this.” One time we were at a party with Colombians, and the Colombians were dressed like Mexicans. So I went to the writers and was like, “Colombians don’t dress like that.” Little things like that, but now they’re really good about it.

Latina women are underrepresented in Hollywood. Do you feel like it’s gotten better since you started your career?

Yes. There’s more scripts now. But it takes time. I cannot blame the writers because when you’re a writer, you write about what you know. So you cannot tell an American writer to just write about some other culture and think it will be as natural as writing about an American person.

Do you hope to see more Latin writers working for TV shows?

I think that would be ideal, because there are plenty of Latin actors out there. We just need a little bit more material.

So what do you look for in a movie or show?

I started acting so late in my life, I’m still just trying figure out what I do right. I realized when I started doing auditions that I was good for comedy. Growing up I always tried to make my friends laugh, but I didn’t know I was going to be able to make a living out of it. But then I got really good feedback when I was doing comedy, so that’s what I do.

Gloria is very protective of Manny, her son. Do you have a similar relationship with your son?

Yes, of course. I’m a Latin mother, so it’s like we never let go of our kids. My son is almost done with college now, and I’m already like, “So you’re coming back home, right?”

Obviously one of the hardest parts of getting diagnosed with thyroid cancer and then hypothyroidism is talking to your family about it. How did you discuss it with your son?

It was scary, because I was only 28 years old. When they tell you you have cancer, you don’t know that much about it and think you’re going to die immediately. That’s why it’s important to educate yourself. When I told him, I tried to not panic him, because it’s your kid and you don’t want him to have a horrible time dealing with it. I tried to make it as light as I could.

What have you had to change about your lifestyle since you had your thyroid removed?

I take a hormone pill every day. The only way to know exactly what amount of hormone I have to take is by doing a blood test, so I’m very religious about that.

You are the most well-paid actress on TV. Do you have any tips for young women or actresses about negotiating for what they want?

You really don’t have anything to lose if you are in the entertainment business, because it’s not like we’re doing brain surgery where you can actually kill someone. The worst thing that will happen is nobody goes to your movie. So I try to take risks and have fun with it.


TIME Television

Time Is a Round Donut: The Graze-Watching Possibilities of Simpsons World

THE SIMPSONS: Join (L-R) Maggie, Marge, Lisa, Homer and Bart Simpson for the 21st season premiere episode "Homer The Whopper," of THE SIMPSONS airing Sunday, Sept. 27 (8:00 - 8:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. THE SIMPSONS ™ and © 2009 TCFFC ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
'The Simpsons' Fox

The addictive new Simpsons website proves that there's more than one way to binge on TV. Mmmm.... TV.

Make 550-some episodes of any TV show, and some unusual coincidences start to turn up. Tuesday, I was playing around with Simpsons World, the immersive website/app that allows cable subscribers access to every Simpsons episode ever made. The very first two episodes I watched–one randomly served for me by the site, the other chosen after I did a search on “Marvin Monroe”–both began with Homer wrecking his car after a toy got lodged under the brake pedal. As one does. (The episodes: season 21’s “Rednecks and Broomsticks” and season 15’s “Diatribe of a Mad Housewife.” You can check it for yourself.)

I mention this not to criticize The Simpsons as repetitive–again, 550-some episodes–but as an example of the different kind of experience that this new kind of TV streaming promises. Put hundreds of hours of TV programming online in a searchable, customizable form, with 25 years of TV equally accessible, and you’re going to find yourself discovering some strange connections.

One of the major influences on TV’s current cultural glory days is “binge-watching”–the marathon viewing of a show first enabled by VHS and DVD sets, which really took off after services like Netflix made it frictionless. Bingeing allowed new audiences to discover great serials like Friday Night Lights, while turning dramas like Breaking Bad from cult shows to blockbusters as they addicted viewers between seasons.

Besides bringing in viewers, bingeing helped elevate TV’s cultural status, by underscoring its similarity to the novel. If the original airing of The Wire, week by week, recalled Dickens’ publishing serial novels in English newspapers, bingeing it several episodes at a time allowed you to go through it the way we read Dickens now.

Bingeing, however, tends to confer that prestige on a particular kind of show: the ambitious serial drama, which compels you to begin the next episode after the last ends. This is one genre that has taken advantage of the TV medium’s strength for telling linear stories, which begin at a beginning and can take much more time than movies to drive forward toward an end.

But that’s not the only kind of expansive storytelling that TV’s open-endedness makes possible. Sitcoms, in particular, don’t generally drive in a straight line from a beginning to an end–not even, necessarily, more serial recent ones like The Office. Comedies, like The Simpsons, create immersive worlds rather than propulsive narratives. You can certainly binge a sitcom as much as you can a drama–Netflix, for instance, is counting on you to do that in the new year with Friends. But you don’t need, or necessarily even want, to do it in a particular order.

If a serial drama creates its effects by driving forward along a track, like a train, something like The Simpsons expands outward, like a cloud, or maybe a spiral galaxy extending from a center. You can live inside it, jumping from point to point, discovering new corners or echoing themes, skipping from season 2 to season 23 as if through a space-time wormhole.

The Simpsons World site is still incomplete; it went live Tuesday but has yet to add features like allowing people to find and share customized clips. (You’ll know when that feature is added, because they will be everywhere on the damn Internet.) Yet you can already see that this kind of format has the potential to do for this kind of TV show what binge-watching did for serials. You can search for terms, for instance–episodes involving the inanimate carbon rod, or Hans Moleman, or gambling. You can skip around and explore the series like a character inside a massively-layer online game universe.

It’s not binge-watching, exactly, though it could be just as time-suckingly immersive. Maybe we can call it graze-watching. (Or gorge-watching, for those with more Homer-like appetites).

And while it’s not every show that could take advantage of this kind of destination viewing, it could work for more than The Simpsons. If Friends hadn’t done a streaming deal with Netflix, for instance, I could easily imagine a Friends World, letting you customize clips, search for favorite quotes and skip around through every possible permutation of who’s dating whom. It doesn’t even need to be comedy-only: imagine creating a Law and Order World, with the rights to each season and spinoff of the franchise, searchable and drilled deeply for data and themes. (I’m envisioning a vast crime map of NYC with everyone murdered by L&O plotted on a block-by-block level.)

TV is still figuring out what it’s going to do with streaming and what streaming will do to it. But one thing that excites me about Simpsons World is that it suggests that different kinds of streaming can work better to show off TV’s different strengths–and thus to celebrate different kinds of TV greatness. Not all “Golden Age” TV–or whatever you want to call it–is about stories that drive in a straight line from this thing to the next thing. Some is about world-building that allows you to skip from this thing to that thing to that thing.

One of the new patron saints of serial drama, Rust Cohle, said that time was a flat circle. In Simpsons World time is, maybe, more like a round doughnut.

TIME Television

Bill Murray Loved Working at Little Caesars

Back in the day, he worked alongside celebrity chef Kerry Simon

Actor Bill Murray came from humble beginnings — and so did his friend, celebrity chef Kerry Simon. They both worked at a Little Caesars pizza shop in Illinois, Murray said during a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live on Tuesday. It was the best job he ever had, Murray admitted, although it’s hard to see how anything could top Ghostbusters.

TIME Television

Toys R Us Pulls Breaking Bad Toys

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Walter White (Bryan Cranston) - Breaking Bad _Season 5 - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC
Frank Ockenfels—AMC

They're on an "indefinite sabbatical," the retailer said

Toys R Us said late Tuesday it had begun to immediately remove from its shelves a quartet of dolls based on AMC’s meth-themed Breaking Bad in response to outraged parents.

“Let’s just say, the action figures have taken an indefinite sabbatical,” Toys R Us said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. The move comes just days after a Florida mother launched a campaign on Change.org to ban the toys, which are based on meth-dealing characters like Walter White.

The collectibles were sold in limited quantities in the adult-action-figure area of the stores, but one mother, Susan Schrivjer, alleged that some had made their way over to the kids’ section. Though Schrivjer said she enjoyed the show, she pointed out that the toys came with detachable bags of meth and cash, and called them “a dangerous deviation from their family friendly values.”

Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, who plays White, will be disappointed by the news. On Monday he tweeted:


TIME Television

So What Has Bethenny Frankel Been Up To Since Leaving Real Housewives?

Bethenny Frankel attends Angel Ball 2014 at Cipriani Wall Street on Oct. 20, 2014 in New York City.
Bethenny Frankel attends Angel Ball 2014 at Cipriani Wall Street on Oct. 20, 2014 in New York City. Joe Stevens—Retna/Corbis

Everything you need to know about the last few years in Bethenny Frankel's life — for better or for worse

One divorce, one talk show, and many millions later, Bethenny Frankel is returning to the series that made her famous, The Real Housewives of New York City, which she first left in 2010. Back then, Frankel was one of the franchise’s stars, but said she could no longer stand the “dirty and nasty” drama. When she returns for season 7, it’ll be to a different show — only two of her then-castmates remain — as a different woman, and in front of a nation that has half-forgotten this ever happened.

Here, a refresher on Frankel’s RHONY arc and what she’s been up to the last four years:

As a Real Housewife, Frankel was a Carrie and a Miranda. In a 2011 Forbes cover story, Meghan Casserly wrote, “Frankel has become the most well-known entrepreneur on television by making her business everyone’s business.” Frankel worked as a natural foods chef and businesswoman who first broke out as a finalist on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart (on RHONY, viewers watched the early stages of her Skinnygirl empire). She was deft enough to land on the right side of two high-profile feuds — opposite Kelly Bensimon and Jill Zarin. But all that fighting took its toll, and Frankel styled her Housewives departure as a reboot, beginning life as a new wife and mom.

She used to be on a show called Bethenny Ever After. A mark of her fame, Frankel starred solo in a 2010 summer-long series called Bethenny Getting Married?, about her courtship with Jason Hoppy. Its premiere broke viewership records for Bravo, and it ran for three seasons as Bethenny Ever After, following its star through some of the rubber band burdens of maintaining a beloved brand.

She’s rich. Frankel sold Skinnygirl to beverage company Beam Global in 2010 for… some money. One analysis said at least $64 million; another, $120 million. The speculation led to backlash, and then backlash of the backlash, and finally, to some predictably astute Gawker comments. The Huffington Post, finally, cleared its throat, and argued that the price tag was actually only $8.1 million. To which Frankel responded, “Come on… I’m going to be paying a hell of a lot more than $8.1 million in taxes.”

She came in second on ABC’s Skating with the Stars. By the time Frankel appeared on this Dancing With the Stars-on-ice show, in the fall of 2010, she was already a successful chef, author, and entrepreneur. That didn’t make her a good ice skater, but it made her an excellent competitor — she was the runner-up, behind Rebecca Budig.

She used to host a show called Bethenny. When Frankel announced an eponymous syndicated daytime talk show, with a test run in the summer of 2012 and a debut the following fall, she had already successfully appeared on four other TV shows. But Bethenny was a failure and ended this February after drawing a fraction of Judge Judy’s numbers. Still: We can always rewatch the moment where Omarosa worries — to Bethenny’s face — that she isn’t “walking in [her] own truth.”

She is divorcing her husband. Frankel and Jason Hoppy split up just before Christmas of 2012, and divorce papers soon followed. “This was an extremely difficult decision that as a woman and a mother, I have to accept as the best choice for our family,” Frankel said at the time. But a custody battle between the pair dragged on until this summer and Frankel alleged that living with Hoppy during their separation was “brutal, horrendous, excruciating.”

She wrote a book (on an iPhone!) about how great her dog is. The dog’s name is Cookie and she has more than 25,000 followers on Twitter. That’s probably more than you.

TIME Television

Why Nothing Is Getting Canceled (Yet)

It's not quite time for last rites for Mulaney just yet. FOX

It's not that every new show is a hit. It's just harder to figure out what a hit is nowadays.

We’re a month into the official fall TV season, and the big news so far is… nothing. As in: nothing has yet been canceled. (I realize, of course, that I may shake loose the season’s first cancellation simply by typing these words.)

What’s happened? Have the broadcast networks finally perfected their art, discovering the unerring secret of delicious, addictive entertainment? No. As usual, there have been some out-of-the-box hits (How to Get Away With Murder, in particular). And there have been a few thundering disappointments (at Fox, especially, where Mulaney just had its episode order trimmed back while vultures are circling above the Utopia compound).

Yet the Reaper has been pokier this season than last year, when, for instance, Lucky 7 had already come up snake eyes by now. Part of the reason may simply be that networks had been so quick to reach for the hook over the past several years–when cancellations after two or three episodes became common–that the slightest restraint looks like mercy. And at NPR, Eric Deggans offers a few explanations–for instance, that networks have done better at protecting new shows with better scheduling.

But a big part of the explanation goes back to something you should keep in mind when following any TV-biz news today: Nobody knows what is a hit anymore. At least not right away, and maybe not for a long time.

There are different kinds of hits: shows that a lot of people watch, and shows that make a lot of money (two factors that can be, but are not automatically, related). For the purposes of cancellation, a hit means the latter. If a show makes money, or is likely to, it stays on the air.

But how a show makes money, and how can you tell, are more complicated questions than they used to be. You need to know the ratings, of course–specifically, the ratings in the age demographics that advertisers will pay for.

That’s not so easy anymore–even if Nielsen doesn’t screw up the ratings for months as it did earlier this year. With DVRs, viewers may watch a show live, or later the same night, or later that week. So you may not know how popular a show is for weeks after it airs, once you get the DVR ratings such as “live plus seven”–the number of viewers who watched a show within a week of its airing. Now advertisers don’t pay for all those viewers; generally, they pay for what they call “C3″–not the measure of viewers within three days but the measure of commercials watched within three days. (If you have any sense, you skip the ads on DVR, and if advertisers have any sense, they know that.)

And all that assumes the relatively simple world of broadcast TV. It’s even more complicated on cable (where revenues like carriage fees from cable providers factor in), pay-cable (where HBO and Showtime make money from subscriptions, not ads) and streaming (where Netflix will never tell you how many people watch its “hits”).

So we wait longer for the ratings. In the meantime, networks–to counter the impression that a show’s a bomb from its live ratings–have begun issuing “projected” time-shifting ratings, which you should no more take seriously than you would fill out an insurance form giving your “projected” blood pressure six months from now after you finally give up French fries and start going to the gym.

But wait, there’s more! TV ads are still the main way broadcast shows make money, but they’re not the only way. There’s also the smaller but growing amount of online streaming, which shows up nowhere in those DVR numbers. And besides possible future syndication, there’s also the possibility of the sale of a show to Netflix down the road–a potentially lucrative deal that can make a relatively low-rated show like New Girl stick around. DVR ratings a week later may not be worth anything for ad sales, but maybe they indicate a fanbase that can be monetized later through streaming sales, or overseas sales, or… something else someone will invent soon.

For now, we wait, deciding whether to commit to new shows, while the networks wait and parse a growing mound of data, trying to decide whether to make the same commitment. For some shows, this more complex TV business could mean a longer life, as they get a second season to prove their worth. For others, it may just mean a slower death. Bottom line, the more ways TV has to turn viewership into money, the more complicated it becomes to turn new shows into old memories.

TIME Television

Watch Alan Cumming Share His Side of the Shia LaBeouf Cabaret Incident

LaBeouf was arrested in June and later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct

Alan Cumming finally dished about Shia LaBeouf’s wild night at Cabaret during a sit-down with Conan O’Brien on Monday.

Cumming, who starred in the Broadway performance this summer, was onstage when LaBeouf was removed from the theater for erratic behavior and arrested. (He later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct.)

“He was just wasted, and he was wasted from the second he walked into the thing, so there was an atmosphere when I went to go down onstage and start the show everyone’s freaking out because there was, you know, somebody seemed to be a crazy person shouting,” Cumming recalled.

LaBeouf is currently promoting Fury, and Cumming is starring as Eli Gold in CBS’ The Good Wife.

TIME Television

Dancing With the Stars Watch: Pitbull Gets Caliente on Latin Night

Adam Taylor—ABC

Salsa and cheese on the dance floor

Welcome to Dancing with the Stars, where the hair is big, the clothes are small and the stars are eager to shine. Tonight the dancers head south of the border for a night of salsa, samba, rumba and Pitbull, because nothing says “It’s Latin night!” like Pitbull screaming “Fireball!” while surrounded by a group of women scantily clad in gold lamé fringe. Since Len Goodman is still embedded at Strictly Come Dancing, after performing and presumably yelling, “Dale!” a few dozen times, Pitbull will join the judges to assess the stars on their passion for dance.

Also on hand is former Dancing With the Stars contestant Leah Remini, who has left the jazz shoes and picked up the microphone to step in for baseball enthusiast and AWOL host, Erin Andrews.

Here’s what happened on Dancing With the Stars:

Jonathan Bennett and Allison Holker: After his dismal performance last week, Allison takes Jonathan into the closet, away from the cameras, but still on microphone, and whispers in his ear, “Be you! Be you!” While the promos for the show promised (promised) that all shirts would be off tonight, Jonathan and Allison wore suits and ties for their jazz routine to Pitbull’s “Back in Time.” After lowballing his scores for the past two weeks, the judges finally recognized his hard work, and he earned a respectable 32/40.

Fashion 911: During an interstitial dance, Tony Dovolani wore an all-lace long-sleeved shirt with a deep diagonal V cut into it, which was something to behold. Host Tom Bergeron calls it a lesson in how to make a shirt out of pantyhose.

Janel Parrish and Val Chmerkovskiy: In their rehearsal footage, the producers give Val and Janel the serious are-they-or-aren’t-they-in-love treatment, that is not resolved. While their love might not be in jeopardy (or exist) the couple is at risk of going home. Val politely abided by the rules of the competition and shed his shirt for his saucy samba to a Celia Cruz song. Bruno thought it was well executed, but Pitbull did not feel the passion and gave them a mere 7. 33/40.

Tommy Chong and Peta Murgatroyd: Last week, Julianne Hough told Tommy that he seemed tired and lowballed him with a 5. So Tommy took Peta (and some poor cameraman) to a sweat lodge in the desert to recharge, and a vision of Cloris Leachman gave him the energy to get through his foxtrot. (Man, this show is weird sometimes.) Pitbull dubbed Tommy “the most interesting man in the world,” and Julianne warned him that he could be in the competition for a long time. 28/40.

Antonio Sabato Jr. and Cheryl Burke: Antonio finally hit his stride in a nearly-shirtless salsa, even almost managing to hold his own against the pros who helped get the dance floor party started. He’s still a little Frankensteiny, but both Paula Abdul and Florence Henderson, who may have carpooled to the show together, seemed to enjoy the routine. Leah Remini demanded Antonio take off his shirt, but forgave him when he didn’t, because rules are meant to be broken. 28/40

Sadie Robertson and Mark Ballas: This week, Mark was tasked with striking a balance between Sadie’s need for modesty under the watchful eyes of her family and his need to make a slightly racy rumba. He managed the feat and the Duck Dynasty scion maintained her chastity by dancing a PG-rated routine to Rihanna’s “Diamonds.” The judges loved it, with Pitbull giving it a 10, which was balanced out by Julianne doling out an 8. 35/40.

Lea Thompson and Artem Chigvintsev: For this week’s salsa, Lea went full Miami for her routine to “Sexy People,” which, of course, is a track that features Pitbull. Bruno loved the routine, but Carrie Ann Inaba thought Lea didn’t stay true to herself and stumbled. Pitbull took one look at Artem and said, “I didn’t know Jean Claude Van Damme could dance so good.” He also thought Lea let it out, which is apparently a good thing. Lea put Artem in a Lea(h) sandwich with Leah Remini playing bottom slice, which she did not seem to appreciate. 32/40.

Michael Waltrip and Emma Slater: After last week’s dismal performance, Michael went to Talladega to renew his self-esteem on the race track, like Vin Diesel in Fast and Furious 8: Straight to Therapy. Back on the dance floor, the poor beaten-down dancer nailed his Argentine tango causing Tom to take a moment, pull him aside and tell him he thought it was great. The judges agreed and Michael earned his highest score ever. 30/40.

Bethany Mota and Derek Hough: Due to Bethany’s YouTube promotion schedule, she and Derek didn’t have much time to practice their tango. What time they did have was spent in a rehearsal studio in Australia where gawking koalas and wallabies interfered with their practice (Guessing!), and the producers devoted a lot of tape to how unprepared they were. Despite the big asterisk on their performance, the tango was nearly flawless. 36/40.

Alfonso Ribeiro and Witney Carson: “Tell me about your groin,” said Witney with a straight face. Apparently, Alfonso pulled his groin doing the Carlton last week and had to rehearse around the injury. It’s not his groin that’s the center of attention during their hip-hop influenced salsa routine, though, but his “booty.” Witney choreographed a whole routine to J. Lo’s “Booty” and it was bootylicious, but then Alfonso pulled his groin again. Despite his injury, Carrie Ann spanked him 10 times as a sneak peek of his score. 39/40.

In Jeopardy: At the end of the show, Michael Waltrip, Jonathan Bennett and Janel Parrish are in jeopardy of leaving the show. It’s quickly announced that Michael is safe to dance another week.

Who Went Home: Between Jonathan and Janel, the answer is clear: It’s Jonathan’s time to go. He takes the news well and announces that he “had the time of his life.”


TIME Television

Bryan Cranston Responds to Mom Against Breaking Bad Toys

Tread lightly, action figure haters

Multiple Emmy-winning actor Bryan Cranston became the One Who Tweets Monday afternoon, following an uproar over Toys “R” Us selling action figures of Breaking Bad‘s drug-dealing characters.

The action figures of chemistry-teacher-turned-meth-maker Walter White and his sidekick Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) stirred controversy with a Florida mom.

Susan Schrivjer, based in Fort Myers, Fla., launched a petition to have the store remove the toys from shelves. Schrivjer was a fan of the AMC series, despite her opposing views on the toys’ appropriateness for children.

“I thought it was a great show,” she told a local TV station. “It was riveting!”

The petition calls for Toys “R” Us to stop selling the doll collection, which comes “complete with a detachable sack of cash and a bag of meth.” Cranston, however, got in on the fun:

Aaron Paul has yet to chime in, but seems to have no problem with children being involved in the fun of the characters.

As of Monday evening, the Breaking Bad action figure collection did not turn up in a search of the Toys “R” Us website. The company did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

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