November 14, 2023
Do you remember where you were the first time you heard Meredith Grey’s infamous line, “Pick me, choose me, love me”? Shaun Diston joins Ashley to discuss and act out some of their favorite TV monologues from shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Designing Women, Andor, and more. They also make predictions ahead of The Golden Bachelor finale and theorize if there could ever be a Golden Bachelorette.
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What We Watched:
The Golden Bachelor
Bachelor in Paradise
The Morning Show
The Family Chantel
S2E69 — The Best TV Monologues w/ Shaun Diston
Ashley Ray [00:00:02] You know, people are always like, “Oh, movies. Yeah, it’s so cool you can do the monologue from, like, Taxi Driver. You have plays memorized? Good for you, Dame Judi Dench. You can just, like, do a Shakespeare monologue.” I can do probably 20 monologues from Grey’s Anatomy.
Shaun Diston [00:00:21] Well, that’s incredible.
Ashley Ray [00:00:30] Welcome to TV, I Say with Ashley Ray–your go-to podcast for discovering what to watch on TV and getting behind the scenes insight from the people who make the shows you love. You just heard a little tease of my chat with Shaun Diston, and we’re getting into TV monologues today. What makes a good one? What makes a bad one? What are some of our favorites? Do I perform a Grey’s Anatomy monologue in this episode? Yeah. Yeah, I do. But not the one you think. Not the one you think. And of course, there’s some Scandal. We all know Shonda Rhimes is the queen of the monologue. So, we’re going to get into that–maybe even some Designing Women… possibly. We’re going to get into all of that, plus some TV news. But the biggest news is that we recorded this episode and the next day the SAG strike ended. The strike ended! Did this episode end it? Maybe. I don’t want to take that. No. No, it wasn’t– It was a lot of people working so hard. But the strike ended. We are on the other side. It’s a beautiful moment in TV and film in Hollywood. Everyone fought so hard. I hope all the people are happy with their deals. You know, I think we’ll see some details about that coming out. But in the meantime, you get to enjoy this amazing interview with Shaun Diston. And the strike is over. What more could you ask for? TV monologues. The strike is over. Go watch all the TV after this. You can do anything. Oh, okay. Let’s get into it. Enjoy my interview with Shaun Diston. Welcome to TV Club. You’re here. I’m so excited.
Shaun Diston [00:02:20] Ashley, how the hell are you?
Ashley Ray [00:02:21] I’ve been having a rough morning, actually. We were getting set up for this podcast. I somehow tripped and hit myself in the head with a pair of headphones. I had a joint in my mouth–it went flying. It was lit, obviously. And it goes flying literally on top of a stack of papers. But we’re here now. You’re here. You’re here in TV Club. Listeners, you know Shaun from Comedy Bang! Bang! You are very popular. You know, you have a whole Reddit group of people who are like, “I am Team Shaun.”
Shaun Diston [00:02:52] I will also say there is a whole Reddit of “I don’t think Shaun Diston is funny.” I want to say I think it’s okay. Like, I think I used to be really bothered by it. But now I’m kind of just like, “You know what? I’m not that funny that no one can have a criticism.” I’ll let the haters live. And I’m just glad people are listening.
Ashley Ray [00:03:12] There’s a few, I’m sure, Reddits about me not being funny.
Shaun Diston [00:03:15] What are you going to do about it?
Ashley Ray [00:03:15] What are you going to do? That’s Reddit. That’s human nature. You can’t be for everybody. But you are also in Twisted Metal, which just came out this year. And I want to shout out Wrecked because I loved Wrecked–one of the first shows I got to review for The A.V. Club.
Shaun Diston [00:03:32] Thank you. Yeah, I wasn’t in Twisted Metal. I just was a producer and a writer on it. But I did go down to New York. I was on set very often. But Wrecked I had the pleasure of writing for. And then I got to be in it. As a Lost fan, it was, like, an absolute dream.
Ashley Ray [00:03:49] People, go watch Wrecked. Three seasons. I’m excited to have you here. We’re going to be talking TV monologues today, which for me, I was a nerd as a child, and the television was my friend. And I used to print out, like, whole scripts of Saturday Night Live episodes or Golden Girls episodes I thought were funny. And I would take it to school and make my friends perform it.
Shaun Diston [00:04:14] That’s so funny.
Ashley Ray [00:04:15] Funny? Sad, maybe?
Shaun Diston [00:04:17] Oh, no, no, no. I think I relate to you in that, like, I feel like it’s more common that my friends are film buffs, you know? And I will constantly say, like, I think I’m just a TV guy. And I sometimes feel like it boxes me in. I just don’t have the appreciation for movies that maybe some people do. But I’ve always been such a TV head as an only child who basically needed glasses really young. So, I was sitting, like, nose to the television. I was just watching so much TV. And I claimed to be really good at watching TV–I can watch a lot of it–so I can totally relate.
Ashley Ray [00:04:58] Same. That’s why we’re here. I can watch so much TV. It is my thing. You know, people are always like, “Oh, movies. Yeah, it’s so cool you can do the monologue from, like, Taxi Driver. You have plays memorized? Good for you, Dame Judi Dench. You can just, like, do a Shakespeare monologue.” I can do probably 20 monologues from Grey’s Anatomy.
Shaun Diston [00:05:21] Well, that’s incredible. I will say I was lowkey jealous of Judi Dench because I was like, “There have been times where if I had just pulled out a Shakespeare monologue, I would look like such a baller.”
Ashley Ray [00:05:32] That is a cool skill. But, you know, it’s also cool to be able to do a monologue from Sex and the City, you know? Yeah. I mean, before we do that, we’re going to talk some TV news because one of my fave shows–The Bear–was just renewed for Season Three, which honestly, I thought had happened months ago because why would you not immediately renew The Bear? So, we finally got that confirmed. We’re getting another season.
Shaun Diston [00:05:58] I feel like this is a show that probably was renewed pretty quickly after the writers’ strike. I think there’s a hold on announcing returning shows because they want actors to be a part of that announcement. And as of this record, the actors are still on strike, so there’s this weird sort of trickle out of renewals. So, I feel like The Bear–they must have known they were renewing it but maybe were holding off. I wouldn’t be surprised if the room was already going.
Ashley Ray [00:06:27] It is already going.
Shaun Diston [00:06:29] Yeah.
Ashley Ray [00:06:30] I was like, “I thought for sure.” But, you know, you do want those Jeremy Allen White posts. Come on. You want him in it.
Shaun Diston [00:06:38] I did claim to be extremely good at watching TV, and The Bear has sort of fallen into a category of shows that I’m waiting to watch. And I recently had to decide between The Bear and another show, which we can talk about a little bit later–
Ashley Ray [00:06:54] What was the other show?
Shaun Diston [00:06:56] Yellowjackets because both of those shows I kind of missed the boat on. And I was like, “Well, I’m going to start one or the other right now.” And I started Yellowjackets instead, but I can’t wait to get to The Bear. It’s an interesting show. I have heard that people don’t love the second season as much as the first. But I’m still kind of enjoying it. But also, like, as a fan of Lost, I’m constantly going like, “Come on!” I’m watching it with my girlfriend right now, and she hasn’t seen Lost. And I know at some point we’re going to get into watching it. But things are happening on Yellowjackets where I’m like, “God, this is kind of like Lost.” When you see a biplane in the middle of a forest, you’re going to think that it’s a Yellowjackets thing and not the Question Mark.
Ashley Ray [00:07:38] Just… I think there’s going to be a few more things that make you go, “Oh, they’re doing Lost.”
Shaun Diston [00:07:44] Which I don’t mind. I don’t mind.
Ashley Ray [00:07:46] I don’t. I would say you made the right choice. I do think Yellowjackets is the more, like, engaging, fun watch. The Bear is the comedy that makes you cry.
Shaun Diston [00:07:55] I can get into that, too.
Ashley Ray [00:07:56] Yeah, it’s a good one for, like, a nice slow weekend, when you’re just trying to, like, get through family issues. You just really want to appreciate your life, the people around you, and the fact that you don’t have to make 80 sandwiches right now. Jeremy Alan White came out. He talked about how he had, like, a Marvely meeting. They brought him in to maybe do a superhero movie. And he was just very exactly like his character, Carmy, about it. He was just like, “Why should I do your movie?” And they were like, “Fuck off. You should want to do our movie.”
Shaun Diston [00:08:28] “Convince me to do it.” It’s like, “That’s not the power dynamic that we are used to.”
Ashley Ray [00:08:32] And he’s like, “I think I just played it wrong.” And obviously the Marvel people came after him, and they’re like, “How dare you insult superhero movies?”
Shaun Diston [00:08:41] Wow. I didn’t know anything about that.
Ashley Ray [00:08:43] Yeah, this is fresh news–just happened yesterday. He had a GQ thing come out. There’s a whole very homoerotic photoshoot with it if you’re interested in that. It’s a lot of Jeremy Alan White standing around men who aren’t wearing shirts in locker rooms, on beaches… Pretty nice stuff.
Shaun Diston [00:09:01] I feel like he’s pioneering a little, like… This guy has become some sort of sex symbol where I’m like, “Damn! Came out of nowhere.”
Ashley Ray [00:09:07] I mean, I’ve been watching Shameless, so…
Shaun Diston [00:09:10] Okay, right.
Ashley Ray [00:09:11] Maybe it’s high school. College. I don’t even know. But I grew up in Illinois and went to school on the East Coast. And watching Shameless would make me feel less homesick, even though, like, after a few seasons, it wasn’t even shot in Chicago anymore and also used the fakest fake Chicago landscapes. But I would just watch it and be like, “Oh, I feel a little closer to home.” I sometimes feel that with The Bear, although I get more agitated with what they get wrong about Chicago on that one because it’s like, “You’re so close. Why didn’t you do this the right way?”
Shaun Diston [00:09:40] I can’t wait to watch this because it does feel like one of those shows where it’s like, “I’m missing a lot of conversations and maybe I can catch up to them later.”
Ashley Ray [00:09:49] Yeah. And I think when you watch it, just be like, “That guy–the man guy–they wanted him to be a superhero? Like, the superhero of tears?” He’s a wonderful, beautiful actor, but he does play characters who make you sob. Even in Shameless, which was a comedy, his character was the one that was just like, “I’ll never get out of this neighborhood.” He was just always running from the saddest stuff. So, Jeremy, I’m on your side. We’re here. It’s TV Club. Of course, the listeners want to know, what are you watching right now?
Shaun Diston [00:10:36] You know, I’m watching a decent amount of stuff. I’m watching Loki. I’m watching Golden Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise. I’m slowly rewatching Next Generation. I’m in Season Four. That’s kind of our, like, end of the night, falling asleep show that we put on.
Ashley Ray [00:10:57] Yeah. That’s a good one for that.
Shaun Diston [00:10:59] I’m watching Bake Off.
Ashley Ray [00:11:01] I would love to talk Golden Bachelor. I mean, we’re down to two ladies now.
Shaun Diston [00:11:06] My thought on the show–I started to feel this around Episode Two or Three–I’m just so scared because I think that the stakes are so much higher for these relationships. And, like, where in other seasons of the show, I’m kind of like, “Yeah, they get together or not, they’ll probably break up in three months or whatever. It’s about the, like, fantasy of it.” This feels so real to me. And Gary is such a good guy–I think he’s a person who was surrounded by women in his life–so when he’s interacting with these women, he’s really seeing them and engaging with them and just doing things that people are probably not always used to. So, you’re seeing these women fall for him so hard. Like, I’m just so worried. Like, I do think he’s in love with both of these women.
Ashley Ray [00:11:58] I truly believe him when he’s like, “I really love them.” It’s breaking him. He couldn’t even, like, handle doing the rose ceremony. He had to run out of the room crying.
Shaun Diston [00:12:13] Which again is something they do on the show, but it just feels more real now. What do you think about the last two?
Ashley Ray [00:12:22] First of all, all season I have been getting them confused because I think they look so similar.
Shaun Diston [00:12:26] Yeah. The dancer and the guitar player are, like, interchangeable. Yeah.
Ashley Ray [00:12:32] Yeah. And I’m like, “Okay, yes, he is a type.” But I do like both of them. I wanted the dancer to get to the end. She’s kind of the person I think I want to win because the other lady–I didn’t like the drama she had with some of the other girls earlier. Something about her reads fake.
Shaun Diston [00:12:50] I can’t believe that she stayed and they sent Faith home.
Ashley Ray [00:12:54] Oh. Yeah. Faith, I thought, was going to make it for sure.
Shaun Diston [00:12:57] First impression rose and, like, very genuine and, like, this other contestant, which, again, I don’t remember anybody’s name, but… She reads a little bit as fake. And I don’t know how fake. Especially when she was around her family, I started to feel a little like, “Oh, she’s a little more real than I thought.” But the drama around the things that were happening with her just shows a slight level of unawareness a little bit.
Ashley Ray [00:13:22] Yeah.
Shaun Diston [00:13:24] And I don’t know. I don’t see them ending up together. But then as I was watching, I was like, “There are times where they’ll, like, kiss or hug each other, where I’ll be like, “They actually have sexual chemistry.” And I think that’s maybe what he’s responding to.
Ashley Ray [00:13:41] Yeah. Yeah.
Shaun Diston [00:13:43] And even with the dancer, while I love her and I think she’s great, from the beginning, I was always like, “Well, she is the most young at heart–young physically. She is the younger presenting of the people. So, it is a weird kind of, like–”
Ashley Ray [00:14:01] And she dated Prince. She dated Prince!
Shaun Diston [00:14:04] So there’s so much excitement around her.
Ashley Ray [00:14:06] My producer says their names are Theresa and Leslie. Couldn’t tell you–
Shaun Diston [00:14:09] Yes, I could have maybe remembered Theresa. But Leslie has always been “dancer girl” to me. It’s been an interesting season to watch. I know it’s a little shorter and it’s kind of lower budget. But I’m interested–do you think they could ever do a Golden Bachelorette?
Ashley Ray [00:14:27] I do. And I would love to see that. But I would want it to be something like a Golden Girls vibe. Like, I would want two of them. I think if it was two of them– I think you would need that support. That’s what I’ve loved about The Golden Bachelor is that, like, the women have just truly come together, and you can tell they’re all besties. Whenever there was any kind of drama, it was annoying. It was something like, “I don’t like that she told me details about the date.” Or it was just women being like, “I was upset about that, but I’m an adult, so then I just stopped being upset about it.”
Shaun Diston [00:15:01] Yeah. The sort of Rachel-Gabby season is a decent framework for doing Golden Bachelorette. I think, for me, the fear is that I don’t know if they can find enough men.
Ashley Ray [00:15:14] Enough hot, old men? Okay, first of all, Patrick Dempsey just won People’s Sexiest Man Alive.
Shaun Diston [00:15:22] Not necessarily about attractiveness or anything. It’s just like… I don’t know, you got to be good for TV as well.
Ashley Ray [00:15:29] I could see, like, a bunch of old dudes who are like, “I’m lonely. I need a show I can go on and find a lady who will make me a sandwich.”
Shaun Diston [00:15:38] Exactly. I’m worried they would just not be as compelling or even, like, nice to each other or even talk to you. What’s it going to be like?
Ashley Ray [00:15:46] Just a bunch of, like, 60-year-old dads. Okay.
Shaun Diston [00:15:50] We’ve seen that on Bachelorette seasons. The men are just, like, kind of inept sometimes when it comes to dealing with their feelings and stuff. And I feel like older men may be more entrenched, you know? And I could imagine them just sitting around silently waiting for things to happen.
Ashley Ray [00:16:09] It’s tough to find that many emotionally sensitive, nice grandpas.
Shaun Diston [00:16:14] Now, is there a version where we sort of age the men down a little bit? “We’re not looking for grandpa necessarily. We’re just looking for older men who might be into an older woman.” I don’t know. It becomes a different show.
Ashley Ray [00:16:30] Yeah, that’s, like, a cougar twist now, which I am sure Discovery+ is working on. I’m sure that’s their follow-up to, like, MILF Manor or whatever. I will say, my appointment show right now just ended this week. The Morning Show.
Shaun Diston [00:16:45] Interesting. Apple TV.
Ashley Ray [00:16:48] I don’t know how to describe this show. Someone at work asked me about it, and they were like, “Isn’t that a really serious show about, like, sexual assault? And it’s really heavy?” And I was just like, “No, they literally, like, send Reese Witherspoon to space. They shoot her out to space.”
Shaun Diston [00:17:02] They do?
Ashley Ray [00:17:03] Yeah, with Jon Hamm, who’s playing a billionaire randomly. It’s kind of like a child heard about what the morning show wars were in the early 2000s and tried to, like, make a show about it. But they also were like, “What’s dramatic for adults?” And they just throw in the wildest stuff. They’re like, “What if we send Bradley’s character to January 6th and she runs into her brother?” This is the equivalent of sending Hoda or, like, you know, Katie Couric. It’s a world where people truly believe, “Oh, the most important thing to Americans is morning show anchors. Americans wake up–the first thing we do is like, ‘What is going on with my morning show anchor?’”
Shaun Diston [00:17:55] That is so funny. But you know what? Like, I think Apple TV has this thing where you describe the premise to a lot of their shows, and you’re like, “Huh?” And then you watch it, and you’re like, “This is actually pretty good.” Like, I am a huge fan of For All Mankind.
Ashley Ray [00:18:11] Oh, For All Mankind is incredible.
Shaun Diston [00:18:13] Which I think is coming out–the next season–in a few days.
Ashley Ray [00:18:16] Yes, in a few days.
Shaun Diston [00:18:17] And I’m so excited about it. But any time I try to talk to someone about it, I sound like an insane person.
Ashley Ray [00:18:23] Reality-wise, I have been watching The Family Chantel, which has come back. If you are part of the 90 Day Fiancé universe, you know The Family Chantel is a spinoff focused on Chantel and Pedro. And it’s mostly Chantel’s family because they are insane. I call them “the first family of 90 Day Fiancé because, you know, they’re the first family that truly was like, “We are all going to get a paycheck from this. Like, how do we do this and act wild?
Shaun Diston [00:18:54] To me, the funny thing about that is, like, it is the closest thing to Marvel. Like, there are so many spin-offs. And it’s hard to follow.
Ashley Ray [00:19:03] Oh, yeah. This year alone they put out two new spinoffs with 90 Day: The Last Resort.
Shaun Diston [00:19:12] I love all the names.
Ashley Ray [00:19:13] Oh, they’re perfect. That one is couples who are almost going to get a divorce, and they get sent to a resort in Florida that is not that nice. And they do group therapy exercises. But mostly I don’t think these are qualified therapists. A lot of the time they’re like, “We’re going to play a game where you’re blindfolded and you have to be led through a, you know, maze or something by your partner.” And all of the therapists just kind of are like, “Yeah, that’s a valid feeling. I don’t know.” They are never deep diving into the issues they have. They’re just like, “Maybe you guys have sex about it.”
Shaun Diston [00:19:47] Never trust a TV therapist.
Ashley Ray [00:19:48] Never trust a TV therapist, especially one paid for by Discovery+.
Shaun Diston [00:19:54] You should lose your license if you are being paid by Discovery+. You just can’t be a therapist.
Ashley Ray [00:19:59] I agree with that. Let’s get into these TV monologues. You sent over some great ones. First, I want to know what makes a good TV monologue to you?
Shaun Diston [00:20:23] You know, this was the question I was sort of antagonizing myself about because a lot of the things that I was like, “Oh, this is one of my favorite monologues,” and I’ll go back and I’ll be like, “Is that quite a monologue…?” Like, one example is from The Wire. I think it’s the last season where McNulty and Bodie are in a cemetery. And Bodie is about to flip on Marlo. He has this kind of long kind of conversation with McNulty. I remember that being really fun because it ends with my favorite ending where he kind of says, like, “I’m going to snitch.” And then McNulty looks at him and says, “You’re a soldier, Bodie.” And then he just goes, “Hell, yeah.” And he takes like a big bite of the sandwich he’s eating. And I love that scene, but is it a monologue? I don’t know. I think the things that I started to recognize were there’s a length issue. Like, it needs to be a certain amount of time. It needs to be a little bit longer than just, like, a nice couple lines you might deliver in a fun scene.
Ashley Ray [00:21:25] Yeah.
Shaun Diston [00:21:26] What makes a good monologue is obviously the performance. What I really like about monologues in TV specifically is, like, it is kind of the writer’s medium as opposed to the director’s medium. So, when you’re seeing a really good monologue, I think the directing is obviously important, but you’re focusing so much on the writing and the performance.
Ashley Ray [00:21:48] To me, it’s the writing and, like, it has to have something that makes me go, “That’s a quote. I’m putting this on my Myspace page.”
Shaun Diston [00:21:58] A little bit of quotability is in there. And then what I was really looking at–I was like, “Well, let’s look at my favorites and the things that they kind of have in common.” And I think ultimately, they all kind of are keeping me on the edge of my seat. They’re exciting. I think a monologue has the potential to be a little boring, you know? If it’s just a character talking and maybe delivering information or something, it can be a little boring. But when you are excited and at the edge of your seat and you realize, “Oh, my God, this person’s just been talking for a minute or two minutes,” that’s when I’m like, “Oh man. This is kind of magical.” And then I often find that in most of my favorite monologues, what happens directly after the monologue–the punctuation to the monologue–is generally the thing I remember or the thing that I’m like, “Wow, I can’t believe they got to that point.” I’m a TV writer and I watch a lot of TV and I often marvel at stories and things that are happening in the show. But a lot of times I really just marvel at the miracle of, like, they got it done. And TV monologues are one of those things where I’m always like, “What a risk that they took to just decide to sit the camera down and let an actor go off, just like they would on stage.”
Ashley Ray [00:23:21] And it just works.
Shaun Diston [00:23:22] It works.
Ashley Ray [00:23:23] The first one you sent over as your favorite is The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia from Designing Women.
Julia Sugarbaker [00:23:30] My sister caught that button. And 12,000 people jumped to their feet for 16- and one-half minutes of uninterrupted thunderous ovation as flames illuminated her tearstained face. And that, Marjorie–just so you will know and your children will someday know–is the night the lights went out in Georgia.
Shaun Diston [00:24:01] Now that is such an incredible performance for multiple reasons. This is a multi-cam.
Ashley Ray [00:24:08] Yeah.
Shaun Diston [00:24:09] And a lot of the monologues that we’ll be talking about are, like, performed and edited around. And this is on par with being on stage and delivering such an incredible scene. It’s just so out of this world. Like, all the things that are being said–it is so funny. Like you’d seen that one before, obviously.
Ashley Ray [00:24:30] Oh yeah, that one–it’s one of those you remember. You’re immediately just like, “The Marjorie…” I would, like, say that. I say that name that way with my friends as a joke.
Shaun Diston [00:24:43] Or “Georgia.”
Ashley Ray [00:24:45] “Tearstained face.” Just the way she hits some of it.
Shaun Diston [00:24:49] I think that I really became aware of this monologue because of Drag Race last year. They did a sort of lip sync to this monologue, and I was like, “What is this?”
Ashley Ray [00:25:03] Oh, yeah. A monologue lip sync is one of my favorite things.
Shaun Diston [00:25:06] It’s incredible. And I will say, like, my girlfriend has informed me that that bit of doing that monologue kind of originated with a local drag queen named Meatball in LA.
Ashley Ray [00:25:17] Yes. Yeah.
Shaun Diston [00:25:18] And it’s a little controversial that they did it on Drag Race, but it was so fun to watch. And it made me go back and watch it. And I was like, “Wow, this is so incredible.” Having worked on a multi-cam and knowing how hard it is to just deliver a scene, to deliver such an incredible monologue is kind of astounding.
Ashley Ray [00:25:37] Yeah. And just also the physicality of it of her getting closer and closer to Marjorie.
Shaun Diston [00:25:44] One thing that it does do, which I was starting to notice, is there is a little bit of response from the other character. You know, like, it isn’t just one person talking the whole scene. And I don’t think it negates the fact that it’s a monologue. And I think especially in TV, there can be a little bit of interaction and it does not, like, disqualify it from being a monologue. But that’s a good example of, like, yeah, there’s one word said and then they continue. It’s so well-written and so good.
Ashley Ray [00:26:12] It has, to me, some Papa Pope energy. If you watch Scandal, Papa Pope–Olivia’s father–basically became a character famous for his monologues. Like, they would just bring this actor on the show. And as soon as you saw him, you were like, “Here he goes.”
Shaun Diston [00:26:30] I did watch a couple of these when I was researching. I was like, “Oh, there’s been a few on Scandal. Let me watch it.” I was like, “Oh shit!”
Ashley Ray [00:26:36] Oh yeah. He just goes off. Yeah. I think the most famous is when he tells Olivia, “What have I always told you? We have to work twice as hard and blah, blah, blah. And you’re not white.” And that’s the most famous one. I actually prefer a monologue he does with the president–President Fitz–who is having sex with his daughter. And there’s basically a scene where this president ties up Papa Pope and is, like, taunting him. And he’s like, “I’m screwing her, you know? Your daughter.” Yeah. Scandal. He’s just like, “She’s, you know, quite talented in bed. It’s. I love the way she tastes.” Gross. And Papa Pope–he’s tied to the chair–he just goes off. I’m going to read it.
Shaun Diston [00:27:25] Let’s read it.
Ashley Ray [00:27:26] Okay. “You’re funny. You’re a funny, funny man. Or should I say “boy.” You’re a boy. You’ve been coddled and cared for–pampered and hugged. For you, it’s always summertime, and the living is easy. Daddy’s rich and your mama’s good looking. You’re a grant. You got money in your blood. You are a boy. I’m a man. I have worked for every single thing I have ever received. I have fought and scraped and bled for every inch of ground I walk on. I was the first in my family to go to college. My daughter went to boarding school with the children of kings. I made that happen. You cried yourself to sleep because daddy hurt your feelings, because Papa banged his secretary, because it hurt to have so much money.” And then there’s a note here: “Really getting worked up now.”
Shaun Diston [00:28:16] So just imagine that. That was kind of worked up, but now he’s really worked up.
Ashley Ray [00:28:21] Now he’s really worked up. “You spoiled, entitled, ungrateful, little brat.” The president of the United States. “You were handed everything on a silver platter, and you squander it. You’re given the world, and you can’t appreciate it because you haven’t had to work for anything. So now you’ve decided that the one thing that you want is my daughter, my child, mine, what I made, what I created… You could talk about what a great lay she is to try to get a response from me all you want. But guess what? I am actually quite literally above your paygrade.”
Shaun Diston [00:28:56] I mean, that is good.
Ashley Ray [00:28:58] Such a Shonda line.
Shaun Diston [00:29:01] “Actually and quite literally…”
Rowan Pope [00:29:04] I am actually and quite literally above your pay grade, which means that I know that you believe that you are in love with her–as wrong as you may be.
Fitz Grant [00:29:13] I do love her.
Rowan Pope [00:29:14] You love that she is a door marked exit. You love that she is your way out because if you are with Olivia Pope, you don’t have to fulfill your father’s dream of being president. If you are with Olivia, you no longer have to be your father’s son.
Shaun Diston [00:29:36] This is a great one. And it falls in the category of, like, I think there are a lot of good monologues that are just a dressing down. Like, you have a thing to deliver to another character about them and you are just delivering it. Like, this is such a good… It’s like a rant, but it’s also like you’re fucking reading this guy the whole time.
Ashley Ray [00:29:56] Yeah.
Shaun Diston [00:29:57] It’s really good. And I’ll also say, like, so many of the words that are being said–the reason that they’re good isn’t just because of the literal dialogue. The situation is such a big part of what makes the monologue compelling. Like, even going back to Designing Women–when she’s doing that monologue, you didn’t see but halfway through Delta Burke walks in and is watching her sister deliver this monologue. So, like, as the monologue is being delivered, the story we’re being told as an audience is this is a sister sticking up for her other sister and the sister being able to see that. The tension in that moment is so about the situation. And the monologue sort of releasing the tension is so good. And what you’re describing–I’m sitting there watching, thinking about a man who’s tied up. He’s in the low status situation. It’s not like he’s just talking down to someone. He’s bottoming from the top if you will.
Ashley Ray [00:30:56] Tied to a chair. The president is talking about fucking his daughter, and he’s like, “Actually, I make more money than you.”
Shaun Diston [00:31:05] I think that is so, so fun.
Ashley Ray [00:31:07] And it’s just such… Like, you know it is a Shonda Rhimes monologue. That is the thing. Her writing–it just resonates. Obviously, I would say Shonda’s most famous monologue is Pick Me, Choose Me, Love Me from Grey’s Anatomy. I think everyone actually in the world would agree.
Meredith Grey [00:31:26] So pick me, choose me, love me.
Shaun Diston [00:31:32] I know a lot of people like the… I saw it on a few lists. It’s, like, the number one monologue. And it’s from the crossover episode.
Ashley Ray [00:31:38] Yeah. The crossover. It’s the scene between Olivia and the Viola Davis from How to Get Away with Murder character. You know, for me, at that point in Scandal, I was just like, “What are we doing? We’re just making ridiculous things happen.”
Shaun Diston [00:31:55] So story-wise, it doesn’t hold up as well.
Ashley Ray [00:31:57] Yeah. It’s just kind of like they did this because these were the two major shows. They have these two actors together. But it’s a monologue that you could remove from the scene and the season would still make sense. It’s just one of those “We have them here. So, let’s really let them chew the scenery.”
Shaun Diston [00:32:10] “Let’s just let them go off.”
Ashley Ray [00:32:12] Which–hey–is a thing I can love about a monologue. I think most of the best monologues come from Dr. Richard Webber. And if you watch Grey’s, you know every episode actually starts and ends with a monologue. They have a voiceover, and it kind of, like, sets up the episode. But I think our very first introduction to Dr. Richard Webber is the pilot. All of these interns have come to the hospital, and he lays it all out. “A month ago, you were in med school being taught by doctors. Today you are the doctors. The seven years you spend here as a surgical resident will be the best and worst of your life. You will be pushed to the breaking point. Look around you. Say hello to your competition. Eight of you will switch to an easier specialty, five of you will crack under the pressure, and two of you will be asked to leave. This is your starting line. This is your arena. How well you play–that’s up to you.”
Richard Webber [00:33:06] A month ago, you were in med school being taught by doctors. Today, you are the doctors. The seven years you spent here as a surgical resident will be the best and worst of your life. You will be pushed to the breaking point. Look around you. Say hello to your competition. Eight of you will switch to an easier specialty. Five of you will crack under the pressure. Two of you will be asked to leave. This is your starting line. This is your arena. How well you play–that’s up to you.
Ashley Ray [00:33:43] And why I love this monologue is because they will truly suffer at this hospital. They are going to be in plane crashes, actually. They are going to deal with three different, separate shooting incidents.
Shaun Diston [00:33:56] I love this because it feels like the thesis of the whole show, you know? “You were training to be a doctor. Now you’re a real doctor.” I find that, like, thesis statement monologues are really good as well. I brought in this monologue from Andor, which I think people remember. And I think the reason I like it is because it’s such a sort of distillation of what the show is. I have it here. I’m going to try to perform it with my Stellan accent. Here we go. So, an actor asks Stellan Skarsgård, “What do you sacrifice?” And he goes, “Calm. Kindness. Kinship. Love. I have given up all chances at inner peace. I’ve made my mind a sunless place. I share my dreams with ghosts. I wake up every day to an equation I wrote 15 years ago from which there’s only one conclusion. I’m damned for what I do. My anger, my ego, my unwillingness to yield, my eagerness to fight–they’ve sent me on a path from which there is no escape. I’ve yearned to be a savior against injustice without contemplating the cost. And by the time I looked down, there was no longer a ground beneath my feet. What’s my sacrifice? I’m condemned to use the tools of my enemy to defeat them. I burned my decency for someone else’s future. I burned my life to make a sunrise that I’ll never see. And the ego that started this fight will never have a mirror or an audience or a life of gratitude. So, what do I sacrifice? Everything!” Good monologue.
Ashley Ray [00:35:32] That’s a good one. Oh, I love that it just builds.
Shaun Diston [00:35:38] And I think it’s just such a good distillation of what the show is. And it is a moment where it’s not adding anything to the plot. It’s literally just giving you this character moment. And it’s one of the most powerful moments of the series. Are you a fan of The Leftovers?
Ashley Ray [00:35:54] Oh, yes. I am a fan of The Leftovers–one of the best shows.
Shaun Diston [00:35:58] I think The Leftovers has maybe three of the best monologues in TV history. One from Kevin Sr. when he’s talking to the person who’s trying to get this, like, final song from– They’re all in the third season, by the way. I think the writers’ room was just like, “This season’s going to be all monologues.” And I think maybe my personal favorite is the first one where Kevin Sr. goes on this long, meandering diatribe about why he needs this thing from this other person. But it’s such an exploration of his faith. And, you know, he’s basically telling this kind of unbelievable story. I just think it’s so great. And like I said, the ends of these monologues are, to me, what makes them. And the final moments kind of always give me chills because he’s asking for this song to stop an upcoming rain. And the character says to him, “Well, my song doesn’t stop the rain. It brings the rain.” And Scott Glenn kind of just leans back. Like, the performance is incredible. There’s articles about this monologue. And he just leans back and says, “Well, that’s all subject to interpretation.” And that little, tiny line is the whole show. So, I just find it astronomically good.
Ashley Ray [00:37:10] I love a good monologue that’s like, “You want to know what this show is about? There you go. That’s it.”
Shaun Diston [00:37:16] And then, of course, the final… I’m skipping the monologue where the Australian woman is describing what happened with her kids. And then at the end, Scott Glenn says, “You’re not crazy. You just got the wrong Kevin.” That’s a great monologue as well. But obviously the one everyone knows is the final monologue of the show where Carrie Coon is kind of delivering the story and explaining to Kevin what happened to her. And she’s doing it and at the end goes, “The reason I didn’t come back and tell you this crazy story was because I didn’t think you would believe me.” And I find that to be one of the great questions of the show because the show is about faith and what you believe. And at the end of the day, he says, “Why wouldn’t I believe you?” And I could cry thinking about it.
Kevin Garvey [00:38:06] I believe you.
Nora Durst [00:38:10] You do?
Kevin Garvey [00:38:13] Why wouldn’t I believe you? You’re here.
Shaun Diston [00:38:18] It is such a compelling end to a show because it’s basically like faith is something that we’re all exploring in our life. But you can’t really get true happiness until you have faith in each other. So, for him to say, “Why wouldn’t I believe you?” I just find that monologue and Carrie Coon’s performance incredible.
Ashley Ray [00:38:42] I need to rewatch The Leftovers. That’s one of those shows–I have a good time rewatching it every time.
Shaun Diston [00:38:46] It’s funny because you think you have a good time and then you’re so devastated by it. It’s such a devastating show, but it’s fantastic. And the last season, they really leaned into these monologues a lot. And there’s just so much compelling stuff, and it’s great.
Ashley Ray [00:39:02] These are some good ones. The fans also sent some in.
Shaun Diston [00:39:05] Ooh.
Ashley Ray [00:39:06] Yeah, we got some from Twitter. There’s one here that I really was happy someone submitted, and it’s a monologue from Girls, because Girls had some great monologues. I think, you know, the writing of the show is a little slept on. And this person shared a monologue from Shosh, who is the best person on the show. I also love Hannah’s monologue where she’s like, “No one could ever say anything mean about me because there’s nothing I haven’t already said about me to myself that’s a million times worse.” And this one is up there for me. But when she’s breaking up with Ray, she says, “Sometimes I love you like I feel sorry for a monkey. Like, they just need so much help and they’re in those ugly cages. You know what I mean?”
Shaun Diston [00:39:50] It’s funny when a comedy can have a monologue that’s both dramatic and funny. Like, you’re doing so many things in there. I think that’s so, so interesting.
Ashley Ray [00:40:00] Another one they did–they did bring up The Bear. Carmy’s speech.
Shaun Diston [00:40:03] Yes, I heard that was a really long one, right?
Ashley Ray [00:40:06] Oh, yeah. It’s so long. And, like, he’s crying. And you’re like, “I thought this was a comedy, but okay.” And it’s incredible acting. I was like, “Give this man an award right now.”
Carmen Berzatto [00:40:19] I could speak through the food, like I could communicate through creativity and that kind of confidence. You know? Like, I was finally– I was good at something that was so new and that was so exciting. And I just wanted him to know that. And–fuck–I just wanted him to be like, “Good job!” And the more he wouldn’t respond and the more our relationship kind of strained, the deeper into this I went and the better I got. And the more people I cut out, the quieter my life got.
Ashley Ray [00:40:49] Someone sent one from Homer Simpson–sugar scheme–which I have no idea about.
Homer Simpsons [00:40:55] I want it all. The terrifying lows, the dizzying highs, the creamy middles… Sure, I might offend a few of the bluenoses with my cocky stride and musky odors. Oh, I’ll never be the darling of the so-called “City Fathers” who cluck their tongues, stroke their beards, and talk about what’s to be done with this Homer Simpson.
Shaun Diston [00:41:19] I mean, that’s great. I don’t know if a V.O. monologue is ever going to compel me as much as watching the actor. So much of it is the performance. Like I was saying, the BoJack episode that’s one giant monologue is incredible. And I think the writing is great, but it falls out of the category as a great monologue to me because I’m like, “I’m sure they’re recording that piecemeal. I’m watching animators.” And so much of it is about the actor’s performance. And I don’t know how much you get from animated.
Ashley Ray [00:41:47] Yeah. And that to me–it felt like satire of what we get from Designing Women. You know? It’s like, “I see what you’re going for. You want to make this wordy.” Yeah, it’s animated. Okay. But for The Simpsons, it’s strong.
Shaun Diston [00:42:02] Yeah. And I do want to shout out another comedy thing. Like, if you’re a fan of Kids in the Hall, it was a show that did a bunch of sketches but would also have comedic monologues. So, there are so many monologues from Kids in the Hall that are really, really good. Like, Hey, a Guy Stole My Bike is a really good one. I am a big fan of the preacher character monologue. And there’s just so many really funny monologues, and it is kind of a masterclass in comedy monologues, which is a little bit of a lost art, I think. So, if anyone is interested in seeing any of those, I think it’s worth watching just for that.
Ashley Ray [00:42:35] Yeah. The comedy monologues–you know–I don’t think they do get enough credit. There are some really strong ones out there.
Shaun Diston [00:42:41] It used to have a place in sketch, and I just feel like it doesn’t anymore.
Ashley Ray [00:42:45] Yeah. They need to bring that back. Bring back the monologue. They sent so many. We don’t have time to go through all of these. George Costanza–his marine biologist monologue.
Shaun Diston [00:42:54] Oh, my God. That’s a good one.
Ashley Ray [00:42:57] Dale Cooper. I want to give these a shout out. I mean, Bebe Glazer smoking. Obviously, a lot from Scandal. I think we could easily say Shonda Rhimes is the queen of the monologue.
Shaun Diston [00:43:06] I mean, Shonda… And I will also say Newsroom man…
Ashley Ray [00:43:10] Oh, yes. Aaron Sorkin.
Shaun Diston [00:43:11] So many Sorkin monologues, which sometimes can be a bit grating. But when he really hits it, he’s fucking hitting it. Like, the America Isn’t the Best Country in the World is kind of a hitter.
Ashley Ray [00:43:21] Yeah. When he gets me, I gotta go, “Okay. Okay. You got me.”
Will McAvoy [00:43:27] There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement that we’re the greatest country in the world. We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, number four in labor force, and number four in exports. We lead the world in only three categories. Number of incarcerated citizens per capita, number of adults who believe angels are real, and defense spending, where we spend more than the next 26 countries combined, 25 of whom are allies. Now, none of this is the fault of a 20-year-old college student. But you nonetheless are, without a doubt, a member of the worst period generation period ever period. So, when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
Ashley Ray [00:44:07] I would say bad monologues? I think that Ryan Murphy is horrible with monologues. He tries every season of American Horror Story–everything he does–to have, like, this monologue and moment where it’s supposed to, you know, be like, “I’m facing the fear.” But I’m always just like, “What? That was the silliest thing.”
Shaun Diston [00:44:28] You know what’s so funny is I feel like Ryan Murphy–the monologue attempts are pretty wack. But then when I watch the Flanagan horror stuff, he actually does some pretty interesting monologues in there. And I think there are some really good performances. Like, I’m a big fan of Midnight Mass. I don’t know if people watch Midnight Mass. There’s, like, three gigantic monologues in that that are incredible.
Ashley Ray [00:44:52] Have you watched Fall of the House of Usher?
Shaun Diston [00:44:53] I haven’t. I’ve started it, but I haven’t gotten into it.
Ashley Ray [00:44:56] I mean, most of the show is one man doing a giant monologue to explain his entire life.
Shaun Diston [00:45:01] Well, I’m in. That’s fun.
Ashley Ray [00:45:04] It’s real good. And it’s mostly him just tearing the walls apart from his chair. He’s like, “I’ll be quick about this.” And then it’s like ten episodes later, and you’re like, “You’re still sipping the same whiskey, telling us the story.”
Shaun Diston [00:45:17] I guess it’s True Detective kind of, which is also a monologue heavy show.
Ashley Ray [00:45:22] Yeah. And I love it. When they do it well, they do it so well. But Ryan Murphy–it’s like, “Come on. Just embrace how silly the show is and stop trying to make these serious moment monologues. It’s not for you.” I want to thank you for joining. We talked so much about so many things.
Shaun Diston [00:45:38] I feel like I could talk about TV monologues– I feel like if we ever want to come back and talk about them again, I could bring up maybe ten other ones.
Ashley Ray [00:45:44] Honestly, now I’m like, “We gotta do a part two with comedy monologues.” I love this. Thanks so much for joining. Where can the people follow you? Should they be looking out for anything?
Shaun Diston [00:45:54] Yeah. You can follow me @shaundiston. I obviously worked on this show Twisted Metal on Peacock. And I do a podcast with Scott Aukerman called Scott Hasn’t Seen, where we watch movies that he hasn’t seen, and we chat about them.
Ashley Ray [00:46:05] A lot of movies he hasn’t seen, I imagine.
Shaun Diston [00:46:07] Yeah. And I’m watching a lot of movies. And as a TV guy, I’m like, “All right, here we go.” But they’re not all bad. I’m enjoying it.
Ashley Ray [00:46:13] That’s how I feel. It’s like, “A movie? You got to sit there.” And then I’ll sit, and I’ll watch eight hours of 90 Day Fiancé
Shaun Diston [00:46:19] Exactly.
Ashley Ray [00:46:20] But that’s how it works. Thank you so much for joining me today. TV Club, make sure you’re caught up on some things. Like we said, there’s not a lot coming back. We should be episodes deep in a new Grey’s Anatomy right now. We’re not.
Shaun Diston [00:46:33] Yeah, take this time to catch up on the shows you miss like Yellowjackets.
Ashley Ray [00:46:38] We do have a new season of Selling Sunset. Like I said, Invincible is back. Upload is having its finale this week also. So, there’s some things wrapping up. You probably didn’t watch The Morning Show. Go watch it. It’s really ridiculous this season. And then we got The Family Chantel back. And let’s see who wins and becomes the Golden Bachelor’s lady. That’s really all that’s coming up right now.
Shaun Diston [00:46:59] Yeah. Definitely. Going to be a real bloodbath in that finale, I’m sure. It’s sad.
Ashley Ray [00:47:05] Thank you so much for listening. And we’ll be back next week with another episode. TV, I Say with Ashley Ray is an Earwolf production made by me, Ashley Ray-Harris. It’s engineered by Abby Aguilar, produced by Anita Flores, executive produced by Amelia Chappelow. And our original theme song is by RaFia. It means so much to me if you go rate, review, subscribe. Follow TV, I Say. Let us know what you think and tell your friends. Share with your Golden Girls. Tell your Boys. If you love my TV recommendations, let everyone you know know. For special TV Club members, join my Patreon.
November 28, 2023
Guest Sona Movsesian
Gilmore Girls, Friends, The Office – what TV do you put on to drown out your family during the holidays?