Tracey Ullman's State of the Union

Tracey Ullman's State of the Union is an American sketch comedy series starring Tracey Ullman. The series was written by Ullman along with Hollywood satirist Bruce Wagner. Gail Parent and Craig DiGregorio acted as contributing writers to the series' first season. The show ran for three seasons on Showtime. On May 17, 2010, it was announced that the show would not be returning for a fourth season.[1]

Tracey Ullman's State of the Union
Sotutitle.jpg
Created byTracey Ullman
Directed by
StarringTracey Ullman
Narrated byPeter Strauss
Opening themeSymphony No. 9
ComposerRichard Gibbs
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes19 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
  • Gail Parent (2008)
  • Shawn Wilt (2008)
  • Melissa Wylie (2009)
  • Melanie Patterson (2010)
Cinematography
  • Anthony Hardwick (2008)
  • Peter Lyons Collister (2009)
  • Rob Sweeney (2010)
Editors
  • Kabir Akhtar (2008)
  • Rick Kent (2008–2010)
  • Roderick Kent (2009)
  • John M. Valerio (2009)
  • Marcelo Sansevieri (2010)
Running time25 minutes
Production companyAllan McKeown Presents
DistributorDRG (Worldwide)
Release
Original networkShowtime
Picture format16:9
Original releaseMarch 30, 2008 (2008-03-30) –
March 8, 2010 (2010-03-08)

PremiseEdit

The show takes a satirical look at a day in the life of America.[2]

BackgroundEdit

After her HBO sketch comedy television series Tracey Takes On... ended in 1999, Ullman was looking to take a break from her multi-character television work. She had plans to develop a new show where she'd play at most three characters.[3] In the meantime, she continued to work in film and on her e-commerce boutique Purple Skirt. The web site would become the basis for the fashion-based talk show Tracey Ullman's Visible Panty Lines for Oxygen in 2001.[4] She returned to HBO in 2003 with the television special Tracey Ullman in the Trailer Tales, which she produced and directed, along with a film version of her one-woman show Tracey Ullman: Live and Exposed in 2005. She later approached the network with an idea for a new sketch comedy series which HBO ultimately wasn't in the market for.[5] She then brought the idea to Showtime. President of Entertainment at Showtime, Robert Goldblatt, recalled Ullman fondly from his days working at Fox. "I have always loved Tracey Ullman ever since I was a young development executive at Fox when she was doing the original 'Tracey Ullman Show,' ... She is a one-of-a-kind comedienne and sketch comedy performer, a true artist. We are so proud to bring her to Showtime in a completely new show that will again showcase what she does best, and in this case, she will be looking at the wide cross-section of Americans and both celebrating us and sending us up."[6]

FormatEdit

The show is shot in cutaway fashion, with each sketch lasting only a few seconds to a few minutes, much like a YouTube clip, a style Ullman was looking to achieve.[7][8] Each episode takes place within a 24-hour period and is narrated throughout by actor Peter Strauss.

Showtime's Robert Greenblatt explained, "No sketch is longer than a minute and a half. Each episode is a day in the life of the United States. You pop in on people all over the country, really quick visits. You'll go to some famous people. You'll see some recognizable faces and some regular Americans. You revisit characters from episode to episode. You'll go in and out, like the Google map of the U.S., in and out from the outer atmosphere. You'll go to Iowa and visit two women on a farm and then you'll pull out and go to Los Angeles and see Arianna Huffington, played by Ullman, in her boudoir, and then pull out and go to Washington, D.C. and see a woman who's an anchor for the evening news. Ullman will play 90 percent of the characters, men and women."[9]

CastEdit

CharactersEdit

OriginalEdit

Celebrity impersonationsEdit

The following is a complete list of celebrities impersonated in the show.

EpisodesEdit

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
15March 30, 2008 (2008-03-30)April 27, 2008 (2008-04-27)
27April 12, 2009 (2009-04-12)May 24, 2009 (2009-05-24)
37January 25, 2010 (2010-01-25)March 8, 2010 (2010-03-08)

RemakeEdit

On November 6, 2008, it was announced that State of the Union would be remade for Germany starring comedian, writer, Mona Sharma, under the title Lage Der Nation.[28]

Home mediaEdit

Region 0Edit

DVD name Release date Ep # Additional information
Tracey Ullman's State of the Union: Complete Season One November 11, 2008 5 This one-disc set contains all 5 episodes of Season 1, along with extras which include: 30 minutes of bonus footage including blooper reel, character makeup tests with Ullman commentary, making of the opening sequence with Ullman commentary, extra material and deleted scenes.
Tracey Ullman's State of the Union: Complete Season Two May 4, 2010 7 This two-disc set with a running time of 201 minutes, contains all 7 episodes, and 20-minute documentary, outtakes and deleted scenes, "How It Was Done", and 4 sing-alongs.
Tracey Ullman's State of the Union: Complete Season Three August 20, 2011 7 This two-disc set is only available through Amazon.com. Each set is printed on demand through Amazon's print-on-demand service. The two discs comprise all 7 episodes, plus 40 minutes worth of extras: The Making of State Of The Union Season 3/Behind The Scenes with commentary from Tracey/Outtakes/A Twist on Outsourced Call Centers. The total running time is 117 minutes.

Region 2Edit

DVD name Release date Ep # Source
Tracey Ullman's State of the Union: Complete Season One 2010 5
Tracey Ullman's State of the Union: Complete Season Two 2010 7

Region 4Edit

DVD name Release date Ep # Additional information
Tracey Ullman's State of the Union: Complete Series One and Two October 1, 2009 12 This two-disc box set includes all 12 episodes of Seasons 1 and 2. Season 1 contains the same extras as the Region 0 release. Season 2 contains a 20-minute documentary, outtakes and deleted scenes, and 4 sing-alongs.

ReceptionEdit

Critical receptionEdit

The series received overwhelmingly positive reviews, with many critics dissecting elements of the show, including the length of the sketches, the show's format, and its celebrity mock-ups. Suggesting that Ullman's stronger portrayals are found in her original characters, rather than the famous, one reviewer wrote, "Ullman's satire is at its best when she inhabits the little people."[29] Others praised its collection of famous, and semi-famous impersonations, including Arianna Huffington, "who sleeps with her laptop and has a dramatic Eva Gabor accent and penchant for using "blog" in every part of her speech."[30] "Her best moments came as Arianna, Dina [Lohan] and Laurie [David]", stated April MacIntyre, of Monsters & Critics.[31]

Its YouTube-format garnered a few complaints. "...She can do so much, initially she's doing too much. Though fun, the opener's skits are too short, and the characters too numerous, for any one joke to register. But give the show a week to settle, and the strengths of Ullman's concept come to the fore. As the show grows clearer and funnier, you may even find yourself anticipating the return of favorite characters..."[32]

Commenting on the writing, a critic noted, "Ullman is obviously great at impressions, but it's the sharpness of the writing that sets this show apart from other sketch comedies. Ullman tosses off so many excellent one-liners along the way, it's hard to keep track of them all."[33]

"It may take "Saturday Night Live" a season to put out this many funny characters and celebrity portrayals. But the glossy "State of the Union", narrated by Peter Strauss, churns out a dozen or more in each week's half-hour."[30]

RatingsEdit

The show's premiere episode raked in 907,000 viewers for its first night of three airings, 776,000 combined for 10PM and 10:30PM, (just short of Showtime series Californication's debut total of 795,000). Pre-airings of State of the Union were available through cable television's On Demand service weeks before its official premiere on the network.[34]

Celebrity reactionEdit

Celebrity impersonations have become a recent addition to Ullman's comedic repertoire, something that she had not dabbled in since her early days at the BBC, nearly thirty years prior. The slightly famous to the infamous are skewered in State of the Union. Reaction to the parodies were fast in coming from the actual celebrities themselves.

One of the first reactions came from actress Renée Zellweger. In a sketch, Zellweger is featured on a press junket for her new movie, where her character has a condition called "chronic narcissistic squint". The real Zellweger was shown a picture of Ullman doing an impersonation of her on the Late Show with David Letterman. Ullman revealed that she wore no make-up to get her Zellweger appearance. She simply donned long eyelashes, very much like Shari Lewis' Lambchop.[8] "This is why I need therapy… I better watch what I say. Look at what happens when I've done nothing to her."[35] She went on to say that Ullman looked like her "transvestite twin brother".

Political pundit Arianna Huffington's thick Greek accent and obsession with blogging receive numerous jabs throughout the series. The word "blog" is often substituted for various nouns and verbs. While filling out an Internet dating profile, Ullman as Huffington types, "Must enjoy nice long blogs in the rain." She clutches her laptop in her arms and kisses it goodnight upon going to sleep. Huffington takes the parody in good humor, saying, "I actually loved it." Huffington continued, "She does a really good imitation of me... And you know....she ends a lot of her imitations of me by saying 'blogs and kisses,' which is kind of something pretty good. I like that.[36] Huffington's parody is generally lighthearted. The same wouldn't be said for the show's take on the American news media and its "fear mongering". Real-life CNN news anchor Campbell Brown serves as the vessel in which this is made apparent. In one episode, "Horror, terror, horror, terror, nightmare, horror, fear. Back to you, Brian", serves as the entire report issued by Brown. Campbell issued a statement regarding the parody saying that she "loves, loves Tracey Ullman, and is a huge fan of the show." Brown went on to say that she wanted to book Ullman on her 8 p.m. program.[37]

Larry David, ex-husband of Laurie David (who's impersonated in the show), publicly confronted Ullman yelling that he didn't appreciate what she did to his wife and how she was upset. Ullman says it turned into an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. She later apologized personally to Laurie David.[38]

In the end, Ullman contends that celebrities "love being impersonated".[39]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Recipient(s)/Nominee(s) Result
2008 Online Film & Television Association Best Host or Performer of a Variety, Musical, or Comedy Program Tracey Ullman Nominated
Best Ensemble of a Variety, Musical, or Comedy Program Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Makeup For A Single-camera Series (non-prosthetic) Sally Sutton (department head makeup artist), Matthew W. Mungle (additional make-up artist) Won
Outstanding Hairstyling For A Single-camera Series Martin Samuel (department head hairstylist) Nominated
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries, Movie Or A Special Sally Sutton (department head makeup artist), Matthew W. Mungle (special prosthetics) Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Comedy Series Tracey Ullman's State of the Union Won
Best Performance in a Comedy Series Tracey Ullman Nominated
2009
Art Director's Guild Variety, Music or Nonfiction Dan Butts Won
Online Film & Television Association Best Host or Performer of a Variety, Musical, or Comedy Program Tracey Ullman Nominated
Best Makeup/Hairstyling in a Series Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup For A Series, Miniseries, Movie Or A Special Matthew W. Mungle (prosthetic designer/special makeup effects department head), Sally Sutton (department head makeup artist). Kate Shorter (additional makeup artist) Nominated
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single Camera Series Martin Samuel department head hairstylist) Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Best Actress in a Comedy Series Tracey Ullman Nominated
2010 Online Film & Television Association Best Female Performance in a Fiction Program Tracey Ullman Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single Camera Series Martin Samuel (department head hairstylist), Colleen LaBaff (key hairstylist) Nominated

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Allan McKeown Presents..." Allanmckeownpresents.com. Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2015.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ "State of the Union - Overview". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
  3. ^ "Tracey Ullman Discusses "Small Time Crooks."". May 22, 2000. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  4. ^ Dempsey, John (June 3, 2001). "Oxygen Buys into 'Lines' from Ullman". Variety. Variety. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  5. ^ Wyatt, Edward (March 30, 2008). "Oxygen Buys into 'Lines' from Ullman". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  6. ^ "Red, White, and Tracey". January 16, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2021.
  7. ^ Variety. "Showtime's 'Tudors' Continues Reign, Network Gives Show An Early Renewal". Josef Adalian. April 12, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007.
  8. ^ a b "Tracey Ullman creates a more humorous 'Union'". Bill Keveney, USA Today, March 27, 2008.
  9. ^ MediaVillage.com. "Ed Martin's Watercooler TV: Showtime's Robert Greenblatt on the Return of Dexter, Weeds and Brotherhood - and the Future of Sleeper Cell" Archived 2007-11-11 at the Wayback Machine. Ed Martin. June 27, 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2007.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Downsizing". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. January 25, 2010. Showtime.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Wetwipe Killer". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. February 22, 2008. Showtime.
  12. ^ a b "Baby Shopping". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. April 13, 2008. Showtime.
  13. ^ a b "Cooking Incident". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. February 22, 2010. Showtime.
  14. ^ a b "Don't Dalai". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. May 3, 2009. Showtime.
  15. ^ a b c "Blogs and Kisses". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. April 12, 2009. Showtime.
  16. ^ a b "That Terrible Time of the Month". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. April 20, 2008. Showtime.
  17. ^ "SpongeMom". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. May 24, 2009. Showtime.
  18. ^ a b c "Hog Callin'". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. April 19, 2009. Showtime.
  19. ^ a b "Fuzzy Cheeks". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. May 17, 2009. Showtime.
  20. ^ "Locked and Loaded". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. May 8, 2010. Showtime.
  21. ^ a b c "The Endless Walk". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. February 1, 2010. Showtime.
  22. ^ a b "Vagisizer". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. April 27, 2008. Showtime.
  23. ^ "Get the Hose". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. February 15, 2010. Showtime.
  24. ^ "JK's Here, No Kidding". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. April 26, 2009. Showtime.
  25. ^ "Putting Down the Boot". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. February 8, 2010. Showtime.
  26. ^ "Overcoming". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. March 1, 2010. Showtime.
  27. ^ "Bloggies". Tracey Ullman's State of the Union. April 6, 2008. Showtime.
  28. ^ [1]. C21Media. "McKeown pours US$15.9m into India". November 6, 2008.
  29. ^ "Jonathan Storm: Tracey Ullman takes her licks at the US", Philly.com. Jonathan Storm. March 29, 2008.
  30. ^ a b “Tracey Ullman’s Back As A Hilarious Cast of Thousands”. Courant.com. Roger Catlin. March 30, 2008.
  31. ^ "Review: Tracey Ullman's State of the Union" Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine. Monsters & Critics. April MacIntyre. Retrieved May 26, 2008.
  32. ^ "State of Tracey Ullman's Union Is Strong", USA Today. Robert Bianco. March 27, 2008.
  33. ^ “Tracey takes on the USA”. Salon.com. March 30, 2008.
  34. ^ "Not As Good To Be King: 'Tudors' Second-Season Debut Slips". Multichannel News. Mike Reynolds. April 1, 2008.
  35. ^ Renee Zellweger’s Ullman Revulsion: Tracey’s Impersonation A Reason To Call A Shrink, Huffington Post. April 4, 2008.
  36. ^ "Arianna Huffington: Blogs and Kisses" Archived 2008-05-03 at the Wayback Machine Mark Silva. April 29, 2008.
  37. ^ "Tracey’s Targets Play It Cool", New York Post, April 29, 2008.
  38. ^ "Tracey Ullman on Playing Celebrities and Public Figures on Tracey Ullman's State of the Union, Which She Hadn't Really Done Before, Including Laurie David, Arianna Huffington, and Andy Rooney". Television Academy Interviews. June 29, 2020. Retrieved February 27, 2021.
  39. ^ "Behind the Scenes". Showtime.com. Retrieved May 27, 2008.

External linksEdit