We introduced our Battle of the Brackets on Monday. Today's matchups include clashes between bad fashion and Southern food, television's best dramas and NCAA mascots, and the likes of Adam Levine and Lana Del Rey against Barack Obama and Kim Jong-un.
In the contests that started yesterday: Jezebel and sister site io9 are cruising against The Name of the Year bracket and Esquire's March Hotness competition. Meanwhile, the higher-seeded brackets from the NCAA and Consumerist are facing tighter contests against upstarts Sound of the City and Muppet Madness. Voting for those pairings will close at the end of the day Tuesday (6:00 p.m. EDT), so, if you haven't, go vote, vote, vote.
Without further ado, here are the remaining first-round brackets:
Scope: Are deviled eggs better than fried catfish? And what about fried okra? That's the debate that Garden and Gun wants to settle. Meanwhile, the Fug Girls, who have been following who wore what for the past year, are putting their archival skills to good use and presenting us with the most puzzling outfits and personalities who wore them.
Fan Excitement: The timing couldn't be better for Garden and Gun Paula Deen might be a racist, sexual harasser on top of having Type-2 diabetes; Mitt Romney is using his newfound love of grits to pander; and Alabama and Mississippi just finished their primaries. With Southern food weaving its way into political, entertainment, and cultural conversations, Garden and Gun has all the momentum. On the other hand, with the opening round of Fug Madness underway, an epic battle between Lady Gaga and that one young woman who used to be on Gossip Girl but isn't Taylor Momsen has drawn out Fug fans to the tune of more than 9,000 already dishing out their verdict.
The Cinderella: Lindsay Lohan. She's running the score up against the formidable Cee-Lo Green, and lest we remind you, Green wore this. When it comes to Southern food, we like cornbread's chances. Since defining barbecue (cow or pig? proper spelling?) has become a divisive topic in its own right, we think it can beat out pulled pork, which is battling it out with mac n cheese -- and on the plus side, it wouldn't have to run into heavyweights like fried chicken or gumbo until the finals.
The Intriguing Matchup: We spot a sibling rivalry in the opening round of Fug Madness--an Olsen throwdown that pits Mary Kate and Ashley versus Elizabeth or you know, Martha Marcy May Marlene or something. And we're looking at the sweet versus savory battle between peach cobbler and country fried steak in the second round in the Garden and Gun bracket.
Why Fug Madness Should Win: The Fug Girls's competition could easily get redundant and fall into something resembling Mean Girls. But it never does, and their inventive approach goes a long way toward explaining why they're garnering some 9,000-plus votes in each matchup.
Why Southern Food Should Win: Like we mentioned, Southern food has become a cultural touchstone. It's hard to imagine that Southern food can be as popular or as conversation-dominating as it is right now.
Scope: With The Black Keys, Mumford and Sons, Evanescence, and Foo Fighters taking the top four seeds in MTV's Music Madness, it does seem like the competition skews less R&B and Hip Hop and more mainstream rock. The seedings are based on album sales, but votes from the public determine who succeeds. Foreign Policy's Dictators vs. Democrats brackets is just as it sounds--leaders like Obama, Sarkozy, and Angela Merkel on one side with Kim Jong-un, Hugo Chavez, and Vladimir Putin on the other. There is one unique rule that Foreign Policy employs: "A contestant will be automatically eliminated if their government is overthrown during the tournament."
Fan Excitement: With more than 50,000 Facebook likes and nearly 20,000 tweets, MTV has clearly tapped into music fans. It's going to be a bit tougher for Foreign Policy to catch those numbers, especially since dictators and democrats don't have the fan base music acts like Korn, Coheed and Cambria, and Lana Del Rey (and she does) do. Last year, Foreign Policy only accepted faxed-in votes (more than they expected); this is the first year the bracket is open to entries online.
The Cinderella: Has this Gotye song made you cry yet? OK, so maybe it's not Adele-level yet, but the video already has more than 100 million hits on YouTube--not bad a for a 15-seed. In Dictators vs. Democrats, we're thinking Sudan's Omar al-Bashir might be the hot pick thanks to a Clooney arrest.
The Intriguing Matchup: Maroon 5 takes on Lana Del Rey in the opening round, pitting some of the two most maligned music acts and fan bases against each other. The same could be said for fans of Kim Jong-un and Hugo Chavez, who also meet in the first round.
Why MTV's Music Madness Should Win: Sheer numbers and harnessing the passionate power of the age-old argument: "My favorite band is better than yours."
Why Dictators vs. Democrats Should Win: The disqualification/overthrown government rule is a nice touch, but it's also a reminder that the world (and it's leaders) don't stop for March Madness--President Obama filling out a bracket doesn't count.
Scope: It's not exactly that original, but Slate is pitting mascots against one another this year. A bracket like this happens every year, and for some it may even be how they pick their real NCAA brackets. The results are amusing, not only because of the matchups and inter-school rivalries, but also, there's some secret trivial joy in learning and telling your friends what a Hilltopper is. Vulture's competition is going to narrow down the best dramas in the past 25 years--Mad Men, The Wire, and The X-Files are all in the mix. Unlike the fan votes incorporated by some brackets, Vulture's editors and writers break down each matchup and actually pick the winner of each pairing.
Fan Excitement: Vulture's matchups and decisions are scrutinized closely by its readers and consequently, each drama's fan base. There are nearly 100 comments on each recap leading to in-depth conversations about, say, how underrated shows like My So Called Life and Buffy The Vampire Slayer are--stuff that you wouldn't normally see outside a fan message board. Slate beckons to a fan who really isn't into the whole March Madness hoopla: "Our advice: Stop cramming for March Madness and print out Slate's alternative NCAA brackets. We guarantee that these PDF brackets will not overload your brain with excess information." It's odd though, as we think that someone who cares about March Madness enough to actually suffer from burnout from bracket-picking might not be interested in a brainless activity of who has a better mascot or logo.
The Cinderella: Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show had a 144-episode run and, as Vulture puts it:
[I]t was as though Whedon and Co. wanted you to be a member of the Scooby gang from your living room. Buffy yielded a fully living, breathing world where the continuing adventures of characters like Spike never truly die. Whedon knew that the best ending was no ending at all, and in the end, left us wanting what every fan wants: More.
The little show that could has already taken out the beloved HBO series Deadwood. As for the mascot brawl, we're going to defer to Deadspin and go with the Wichita State Shockers--or rather, WuShock their mascot. OK, so they've been eliminated -- the character is still one intimidating-looking shock of wheat.
The Intriguing Matchup: Mad Men versus Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Sure, the winner takes on The Wire, but we can't think of two dramas that are not only incredibly different but also masterfully done. And what happens if you, like your blogger, like both equally? For Slate's mascot battle, we're interested in anything that involves a Hoya and a Boilermaker.
Why Vulture Should Win: The breakdowns. It's easy to gush about the last episode of Mad Men, or write about why Mad Men is so great, but it's another thing to defend the decisions, point out the series' flaws, critically analyze the show's worth in television's history, and then translate that into something relatable and readable.
Why Slate Should Win: Simplicity. If you don't care about March Madness, then this, although lacking in originality, might be just the bracket for you.
Scope: "Leverage," "Empower," and "Drinking the Kool-Aid" were all major players in Forbes' Jargon Madness--a competition to find the most overwrought and overused terms in business. Grantland's is businesslike as well--pick the best character in a series that happens to be one of the most well-loved television franchises in history.
Fan Excitement: Grantland has some presidential help here. It wasn't too long ago that President Obama picked Omar as the best character from the show and declared it so in an interview with Grantland's Bill Simmons. That's one big momentum boost, though arguably it's one that a show of The Wire's magnitude didn't really need (if you need more meta-proof, The Wire is currently steamrolling through Vulture's Drama Derby). What Forbes doesn't have in fandom, it makes up for in ubiquity—we're guessing the number of people who have heard phrases like "reach out" and "hard stop" outnumber those with HBO subscriptions. It's just getting those people to passionately vote for those phrases that's the problem.
The Cinderella: Though both of these brackets are completed, they still had their fair share of Cinderellas. For Forbes, we're going with the esoteric and very creepy "open the kimono." For Grantland, there weren't as many upsets, with a lack of bonafide Cinderellas--but Jimmy McNulty, a three-seed, did manage to storm his way into the Final Four.
The Intriguing Matchup: "It Is What It Is" vs. "Reach out" was the cringe-inducing matchup we had our eye on, since we've definitely been on the receiving end of one of these phrases. Meanwhile, the 2 vs. 7 matchup between Clay Davis and 'Bubbles' Cousins piqued our interest, but some would argue that it was bad seeding that enabled the opening-round matchup.
Why Grantland Should Win: Guts. You have to be kind of fearless to tackle a show as popular as The Wire because it seems like everyone, including the President of the United States, has an opinion on the series.
Why Forbes Should Win: They've explained and hit on a touchstone. Yes, we can't quite put our finger on what it is about "Reach Out" that perturbs us, but we're glad that Forbes has justified our discomfort.