After pulling off a victory at the Golden Globes for Best TV Comedy Actor, Ramy Youssef is now seeking to replicate the win at the Emmys. He’s earned two two nominations: one for playing Ramy Hassan on his eponymous Hulu series and one for Best Comedy Directing. For his acting submission, Youssef has chosen “Ramy‘s” Season 2 finale, “You Are Naked in Front of Your Sheikh.”
The episode opens with a flashback to Ramy and his cousin Amani (Rosaline Elbay) meeting up for a hookup at a hotel in Egypt. The hotel staff harasses them, believing they are an unmarried couple, but they back off after Amani claims that she and Ramy are siblings. Amani then says she’s tired of sneaking around and wants to tell their family about their relationship so they can get engaged. Ramy doesn’t want to move the relationship forward, which makes Amani break it off.
Back in the present, Ramy and his fiancée Zainab (MaameYaa Boafo) are visiting her mother’s grave. Zainab, who also happens to be the daughter of Ramy’s spiritual mentor, Sheikh Ali (Mahershala Ali), is looking forward to their upcoming marriage, and the two discuss committing to improving each other together. Ramy returns home to learn that Amani is flying in from Egypt for the katb kitab, which causes Ramy to flip out at his mother. At the pre-ceremony dinner, Ramy is rattled and awkward when greeting Amani and introducing her to Zainab. Later that night, Ramy drives Amani to a drug store. They discuss why her engagement ended. She says she’s happy for Ramy, but Ramy leans in and the two kiss.
Before the katb kitab at the mosque, Ramy is having second thoughts about the ceremony. His friend Mo (Mohammed Amer) says not to worry because the religion allows him to take another wife if he wishes. Ramy goes through with the ceremony, visibly nervous, with his family and friends beaming at the step he’s taking in his life. Later that night, Zainab and Ramy consummate their marriage. Afterward, Zainab admits she’s glad Ramy had some previous experience so that at least one of them knew what they were doing. Ramy starts to talk about his emotions and drops in what Mo had said about possibly taking another wife. Zainab does not react well as Ramy continues to ramble and lets it slip that one of his exes showed up for the ceremony. Zainab quickly realizes that he’s talking about Amani and that the two shared a moment the night before. She angrily puts a pillow between them and goes to sleep.
When Ramy wakes up the next morning, Zainab is gone and Sheikh Ali is sitting in the room and glaring at him. As Ramy attempts to justify his actions, Sheikh Ali goes to make wudu and reveals that Nico, an anti-Muslim protester who was severely beaten by Dennis, a convert Ramy brought into the congregation, has died. Sheikh Ali blames himself for letting Ramy into his life and tears into Ramy, shouting that he hurts people and is dangerous. Ramy quickly goes to make wudu so he and the sheikh can pray, but when Ramy returns, Sheikh Ali is gone. At his house, Ramy doesn’t tell his family about Zainab leaving him. He tries to rekindle what he had with Amani, saying he made a mistake with Zainab, but she rejects him, saying that when she’s around him, she does things that make her hate herself. Defeated, Ramy takes Dennis’ dog, which his family has been caring for, back to Dennis’ abandoned car. In there, Ramy starts the car and a CD titled “How to Be a Muslim” starts playing with the instructions on making wudu.
Let’s examine the pros and cons of whether this episode could lead to a victory for Youssef.
SEE ‘Ramy’s’ Ramy Youssef on bringing in Mahershala Ali for Season 2 [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO INTERVIEW]
This is probably the most complex character of all the nominees in the Best Comedy Actor category and easily the most layered performance in the category as well. Youssef really captures all of Ramy’s flaws and worst tendencies, but at the same time he’s very careful not to take the character over to the villainous side. The way he walks this fine line with the character could be appreciated by his fellow actors.
It’s hard not to like Youssef himself as his speech at the Globes had the entire audience laughing. The show’s groundbreaking nature of showing a Muslim-American family cannot be ignored and can play into his chances as well. Even though the show doesn’t center around politics, its very existence is political, and in a year with a presidential election, that could give Youssef a leg up. Jeffrey Tambor was in a similar situation in 2016 when he scored his second win for “Transparent.”
The actions of Ramy’s character can be extremely uncomfortable to watch and, as good as the performance is, that could really turn off some voters. There’s a chance they might not make it past him hooking up with his cousin at the very beginning.
On the comedy side, we have had winners whose shows were not nominated for Best Comedy Series, but that has usually happened in the supporting races (Louie Anderson, Allison Janney and Merritt Wever). The last time a lead performance in a comedy program won without a corresponding series nom was Jon Cryer in 2012 for “Two and a Half Men” and Melissa McCarthy the prior year for “Mike & Molly.”
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Back in August, we learned that Chelsea Houska is pregnant with her fourth child.
We’re still in the days of social distancing, and Chelsea lived in the middle of nowhere even before the pandemic hit — but despite all of that, this might be one of the most high-profile Teen Mom pregnancies of all time.
The main reason for this is that Chelsea is more popular than ever.
In fact, fans have been begging MTV to give Houska her own spin-off series, so that they can see even more of life inside her massive house on the prairie.
While the other moms of TM2 might deliver more soap-worthy drama, fans love checking in on Chelsea and Cole’s lives of quiet domesticity, and the whole picture is sure to become even more blissful once Houska delivers her fourth bundle of joy.
For now, fans will have to be content with the frequent bump updates that Chelsea has been offering on social media.
Over the weekend, Houska’s sister Emily got married, and the pregnant South Dakota native marked the occasion by posting a rare family photo.
“How gorgeous are my sisters?!” Chelsea captioned the pic.
Her sister Angie also posted the pic, along with a caption reading:
“All of the Houska girls are officially off the market. Congrats Emily and Shad.”
Naturally, fans fixated on Chelsea’s bump, and the most-commonly asked question in the comments section was “how far along along are you?!”
Mrs. DeBoer didn’t answer, but she has made the timeline of her pregnancy quite clear elsewhere.
At first, Chelsea was secretive about the situation, but she later clarified exactly why that was:
“I’ve been seeing articles over the past few weeks speculating that I was pregnant because I haven’t been posting much on Instagram and that is totally true because I was so afraid that I was going to say something because I’m such a bad liar and I’m not good at hiding things,” she wrote on Instragram.
But now that the cat is out of the bag, Chelsea has been surprisingly candid about the situation, offering frequent updates for fans who wish to follow along with her progress.
On September 18, Chelsea posted the photo above, along with a caption reading:
“Almost half way there baby girl!”
So it’s safe to assume that Chelsea is a little over four months into her pregnancy, and that she’s expecting to deliver sometime in early 2021.
Of course, it’s anyone’s guess when we’ll be able to return to normal life, so it might be quite some time before the DeBoers feel comfortable welcoming an MTV camera crew into their home.
But the production delay is not necessarily a bad thing.
For one, Chelsea will have plenty of time recover at home and bond with her new baby girl.
And it’s not as though fans will be completely left in the dark.
We’re sure Chelsea will be posting plenty of pics and offering detailed updates about her new arrival.
She knows a few million fans are almost as excited for the big day as she is!
In The Number Ones, I’m reviewing every single #1 single in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, starting with the chart’s beginning, in 1958, and working my way up into the present.
Wham! Featuring George Michael – “Careless Whisper”
HIT #1: February 16, 1985
STAYED AT #1: 3 weeks
“I’m not planning on going solo.” George Michael sang those words on “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go,” the song that made Wham! pop stars in the US. And then Michael immediately went solo. Kind of. Mostly.
The billing of “Careless Whisper” is a curious thing. You could argue that Wham! was already pretty much a George Michael solo project by 1985. Michael was Wham!’s lead singer, songwriter, and producer. He was the face of the group, the one who was the clear focus of all the videos. Andrew Ridgely, Michael’s childhood friend and Wham! partner, had been instrumental in helping to come up with the group’s image, and he’d co-written the early UK hits “Wham Rap! (Enjoy What You Do)” and “Club Tropicana.” But by the time Wham! released their second album Make It Big, Ridgely was mostly just the guy who danced behind George Michael in the videos.
But “Careless Whisper,” the last song on Make It Big, is actually the only song on the album that Ridgely co-wrote. That makes it the least solo song on the album. In most of the world, “Careless Whisper” was sold as a George Michael solo single, even though it was on the Wham! album. In the US, though, Epic billed “Careless Whisper” as a song from “Wham! Featuring George Michael.” With the exclamation point, that becomes an even more confusing syntactic jumble. Wham! already featured George Michael. It’s like saying “Eurythmics Featuring Annie Lennox” or “Simon And Garfunkel Featuring Paul Simon.” It just doesn’t make any sense. But Billboard eventually named “Careless Whisper” the #1 single of 1985, so apparently it worked.
George Michael started writing “Careless Whisper” before Wham! even had a name. He came up with the basic idea when he was 17, working as an usher in a movie theater. Michael riding a bus to his job when he thought up the sax riff. Ridgely wrote the song’s chord progression, and the two of them recorded a demo for the single at Ridgely’s parents’ house. Along with “Wham Rap!” and “Club Tropicana,” “Careless Whisper” was one of the songs on their original demo tape, the one that got them signed to Innervision Records.
Later on, when Wham! were blowing up, Michael decided that he wanted to be a soul singer. There had already been plenty of R&B in Wham!’s sound, but Michael wanted to make smooth, heartfelt soul records on his own. He also wanted to keep Wham! going. The idea was that he’d make pop with Wham! and soul on his own. “Careless Whisper” was going to be the branching-off point, the introduction of what George Michael could do on his own.
Michael went to Alabama to record “Careless Whisper” at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, a place where tons of classic soul records had been made in the ’60s and ’70s. Michael also enlisted a hall-of-fame producer: Jerry Wexler, the legend who had invented the term “rhythm and blues” and helped establish the Atlantic Records sound. (Wexler had only ever produced one #1 single: “Respect,” from future George Michael duet partner Aretha Franklin, which had topped the Hot 100 18 years before “Careless Whisper.”) With Jerry Wexler, Michael recorded a rich, buttery old-school version of “Careless Whisper.” But Michael didn’t like the way that version turned out. The Wexler version came out later, as a B-side.
Michael ended up producing “Careless Whisper” himself in London. He worked on the song for ages, never able to get it quite right. None of the session saxophonists could play the “Careless Whisper” riff exactly the way Michael envisioned it. He went through 11 different sax players before Steve Gregory, a session guy who’d previously played on the Rolling Stones’ chart-topper “Honky Tonk Women,” came in to try it. Gregory played the riff over a slowed-down version of the track, and then the engineer sped it back up. That turned out to be exactly the version of the riff that Michael wanted to capture, and that’s the one that came out.
All of those decisions worked out. Maybe Gregory’s version of the “Careless Whisper” riff was only microscopically different from all the previous ones, but there’s a primal power to that cheesed-out sax line, one that practically screams of smooth ’80s excess. In the annals of molten sax riffs on smoothed-out pop songs, “Careless Whisper” belongs right up there with Gerry Rafferty’s 1978 #2 hit “Baker Street.” (“Baker Street” is a 9.) That Steve Gregory saxophone sounds like soap-opera sex scenes and hair-weave commercials and overhead speakers and waterbed outlets. It sounds like the ultimate in chintzy luxury.
George Michael was right to ditch the Jerry Wexler take on the song. His own version is sleeker and more minimal, and it finds some uncanny sort of groove. The “Careless Whisper” arrangement is pretty simple — a slow-strut bassline, a few soft synth tones, some quasi-Spanish guitar flutters, that big sax riff. But the whole thing hits a pocket. Michael clearly does his best to capture the sound of American quiet-storm soul, but his own stripped-back production has some of the spacious whump of UK synthpop. Every element of the track has room to breathe.
Michael sings it beautifully, too. As an R&B singer, he’s direct and unshowy. Where way too many other white soul singers attempt growl-scream testifying, Michael eases his way into the song, letting the melody do most of the work for him. Even when he hits his big notes, Michael stays soft and intimate. That means those big notes — “To-night the music seeeeeems so loud” — carry a certain wounded vulnerability. As the song builds, Michael ramps up the drama, but he never loses that central fragility.
Lyrically, “Careless Whisper” is a pretty silly song. (Michael himself came to think very little of the track.) Michael’s narrator has cheated on a partner. He’s dancing with that partner, but guilt still tears him up inside, and he knows he won’t be able to keep the charade up for long. That’s a basic pop-song scenario, and Michael’s words are a little clumsy. The phrase “guilty feet have got no rhythm” looks at least a little bit ridiculous on paper. But Michael sells it. He sounds like he’s mourning something that hasn’t quite ended yet. “I feel so unsure,” he sings, and he sounds like he means it.
For the music video, Michael worked again with “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” director Duncan Gibbins, who would later make the sci-fi movie Eve Of Destruction. Gibbins and Michael shot the clip in Miami, and future Baywatch star Lisa Stahl played the cheated-on girlfriend. Apparently, they had to re-shoot a ton of it. Michael didn’t like the way his hair looked, so he flew back to London to get his hair re-done. But the clip works as effective kitsch, with those helicopter shots of the sailboat and Michael’s purple-lit Venetian-blind silhouette when he’s making out with the other girl. His hair looks spectacular.
Shortly after “Careless Whisper” hit #1 in the US, Wham! pulled off a magnificent publicity stunt, becoming the first Western pop group ever to tour the People’s Republic Of China. The footage of Michael singing “Careless Whisper” in China is truly fascinating. The people of China loved that shit.
But people everywhere loved “Careless Whisper.” It was true global smash, hitting #1 in Australia and Italy and South Africa and Poland and a half-dozen other countries. Notably, the song also did well enough on Black American radio that it reached #8 on the R&B charts. A couple of months after that China trip, George Michael sang “Careless Whisper” with Smokey Robinson, the American R&B singer who might’ve been his biggest influence, on the Motown Salutes The Apollo TV special. To his great credit, George Michael did not get blown offstage, and he did not lose this crowd.
Wham! will appear in this column again. So will George Michael.
BONUS BEATS: Here’s AZ, Nas, and Nature rapping over producer Dr. Dre’s “Careless Whisper” sample on AZ’s 2004 track “Time”:
(AZ’s highest-charting single is the 1995 Miss Jones collab “Sugar Hill,” which peaked at #25. Nas’ highest-charting single is 2003’s “I Can,” which peaked at #12. Nature, as far as I can tell, has never made the Hot 100. Dr. Dre will eventually appear in this column.)
BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s the South African quasi-grunge band Seether’s growly 2007 cover of “Careless Whisper”:
(Seether’s version of “Careless Whisper” peaked at #66. Seether’s highest-charting single is the 2004 Amy Lee collab “Broken,” which peaked at #20.)
BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s Ryan Reynolds mentioning “Careless Whisper” in the 2016 movie Deadpool:
And here’s end of the movie, where that bit pays off and “Careless Whisper” plays:
BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: Here’s El DeBarge and Kamasi Washington saluting George Michael after his death by covering “Careless Whisper” at the 2017 BET Awards:
(As a solo artist, El DeBarge’s highest-charting single is 1986’s “Who’s Johnny,” which peaked at #3. It’s an 8. As a member of DeBarge, his highest-charting single is 1985’s “Rhythm Of The Night,” which also peaked at #3. That one is a 9. El DeBarge was absolutely killing it on the soundtracks of ’80s movies that I watched over and over as a kid.)
BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BONUS BEATS: While scoring the 2019 TV series Watchmen, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross covered “Careless Whisper” with Pomplamoose singer Nataly Dawn. Here’s their version of it:
(As the leader of Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor’s highest-charting single is 1999’s “The Day The World Went Away,” which peaked at #17. As Nine Inch Nails members, both Reznor and Ross will both appear, in sampled form, in this column.)
THE NUMBER TWOS: Billy Ocean’s slick, joyous quasi-rock stomper “Loverboy” peaked at #2 behind “Careless Whisper.” (It’s an 8.)
Ever since Marvel announced that ‘The Eternals’ was in the works, fans of the cosmically powered super-race have been speculating how the film might introduce the characters into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With a history that stretches all the way back to the dawn of civilization, the Eternals have been in a lot of situations that would make for excellent stories, which made it all the more difficult to figure out how exactly they would fit in with the timeline already established for the universe.
Well, fret not true believers, a synopsis for the movie has now been released ahead of a Disney investor’s meeting and it finally reveals that ‘The Eternals’ will be set in the present day and not in the distant past.
In fact, the movie will be directly following the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame’. “Marvel Studios’ The Eternals features an exciting new team of superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years,” it stated.
“Following the events of ‘Avengers: Endgame’, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, The Deviants,” the synopsis explained.
“The outstanding ensemble cast include Richard Madden as the all-powerful Ikaris, Gemma Chan as humankind-loving Sersi, Kumail Nanjiani as the cosmic-powered Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as the super-fast Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as the intelligent inventor Phastos, Salma Hayak as the wise and spiritual leader Ajak, Lia McHugh as the eternally young, old-soul Sprite, Don Lee as the powerful Gilgamesh, Barry Keoghan as the aloof longer Druig, and Angelina Jolie as the fierce warrior Thena. Kit Harrington was cast as Dane Whitman.”
‘The Eternals’ will be arriving in theaters on November 6. ‘Black Widow’, the first MCU movie of the year, will be arriving on May 1.
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