Alright, so … I guess the best place to begin is to say that I actually enjoy the show Mike and Molly. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone across the last 24 months who’s blown up like Melissa McCarthy has (although the movie with Jason Bateman was uneven at best), and the supporting players on Mike and Molly are pretty funny. It’s a stupid sitcom with good comic timing. That’s what CBS does better than anyone en masse, and they did it well again there. Last night, I was watching, and lo and f’n behold, Susan Sarandon — five-time Oscar nominee and one-time winner — shows up as an alcoholic writer who could be a mentor to McCarthy’s character. Turns out she’s also into having sex with McCarthy’s character. They do some good physical comedy bits together, including crashing onto the floor.
Sarandon’s comic timing was good and she added a lot to the episode. When she first showed up, my thought was, WHHAAAAAAAAA? Then I remembered she’s going to top-line a NBC sitcom with her daughter, so I figured maybe this was a run-through of sorts. (I also kinda assume she has some connection to James Burrows, who is a big figure on Mike and Molly, since he’s been working in TV since the 1970s and seems to have a writing credit on every major sitcom of that time period.) More than anything, though, it got me thinking about what she’s been up to. As you can see in that top embed, she’s been giving interviews about Obama not deserving the Nobel Peace Prize. She’s also admitting she’d be OK in a Bollywood film, discussing education as an end to gender bias, admitting she knew Brad Pitt was “special” way back when, working with UNICEF, admitting war is the biggest export that the U.S. has, dressing up with Padma Lakshmi, and, yes, still actively denying that she’s in a relationship with Jonathan Bricklin, a ping-pong entrepreneur (they are co-owners of SPIN in NYC) who is about three decades her junior. (In fairness, Sarandon now does say she has a boyfriend, but doesn’t go farther than that.)
This arc started because Tim Robbins — her longtime (22 years or so) partner (they didn’t marry, I don’t believe) — came to her one day and said he wanted out because of “insanity” and a “midlife crisis.” (Side note + shameless plug: at one point, Robbins believed Sarandon’s best role ever was Lorenzo’s Oil.) Sarandon tattooed “a new dawn, a new day” on her wrist, among other things — she was working on The Lovely Bones when all that happened — and eventually moved on, apparently with Bricklin. He kind of looks like a skinnier James Franco here, by the way (it’s from over the summer):
As of last spring, it appeared Tim had moved on as well. Meanwhile, Sarandon has seven other projects coming up — including a ping pong movie! — in addition to the development of this sitcom. She’ll also continue her work as an activist, on topics ranging from pot to divinity to feminism to notions of a female President. The woman will speak on anything and everything, it seems. (That’s a good thing in modern-day Hollywood, which is a little too obsessed with the superficial at the expense of everything else.)
This will come off sounding over-dramatic, but while I initially cringed at an Oscar winner appearing on a mostly sub-par sitcom (just because I like it doesn’t mean it’s good; it might actually mean the exact opposite), I kinda love what Sarandon is doing with herself right now. In the early 1990s, she was a straight-ahead leading actress for serious, dramatic movies; she would get roles for a while and you knew that film had Oscar potential. As she got older, she reinvented herself behind her children, her spirit, her activism, possibly being a cougar, ping pong, and juicier (or one-off) side parts. In the modern canon, people hold up different ideas about what women should do with themselves, especially if they find themselves divorced/separated at an older age. The idea of Eat Pray Love has been popular as a personal quest for a while (I think; I’m not a woman but I know a few), but Sarandon’s ping-pong-laden version of it has been interesting to watch. And hey, she did know Brad Pitt way back when.
Maybe my next post should be about what happened to Geena Davis … which would begin with some Googling, I guess, so … GAHHH!!! Thelma and Louise reunion just happened a few months ago! You know that expression people sometimes say when they break up, “I’m doing me?” Susan Sarandon is doing herself right now, and it’s a glorious thing to sit back and observe.