Image by Tara Jacoby, featuring the shade artist at a young age.

It is Friday yet again and here I sit on my bench—ready to judge, ready to shade, ready for this goddamn election to finally end.

In this week’s Shade Court, the final presidential debate is addressed, Vogue disappoints and Lady Gaga faceplants at third base.

Shade Court Docket #2016JZ000197

Screenshot via HBO. Image via Getty.

The Case: Sarah Jessica Parker has been promoting her new HBO show, which naturally leads to discussions about her old HBO show.

In an interview with Jane Pauley on CBS Sunday Morning, in which Pauley points out that Carrie was “so romantic . . . it had to be love, love, love, love all the time,” Parker nodded in agreement. “Childish, in a way,” Parker says.

The Defendant: Vogue magazine

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: Please allow me to be incredibly naive and foolishly hopeful for just a moment: If there was a single publication that should get shade right every single time, it is goddamn Vogue. And yet. YET.

Like Carrie’s outfits circa season four this was haphazard and irritating.

Let’s be clear about what happened here: Sarah Jessica Parker called Carrie Bradshaw childish. Straight up. That’s it. That is what Vogue thinks shade is. If that wasn’t bad enough, they added to the stomach ulcer I’m surely developing by saying “serious shade” because there is no rest for this very weary judge.

The Ruling: Not shade

Shade Court Docket #2016JZ000198

Images via Getty.

The Case: Because 2016 has granted us just a sliver of mercy, on Wednesday the final presidential debate between our future president and Donald Trump took place. The Los Angeles Times wrote about it:

And so, finally, voters got the Shade Queen that America deserves. Somehow, subtly and yet repeatedly, Clinton released her staid political professional veneer.

When Clinton spoke about the sexual assault allegations against Trump, she said: “Donald thinks belittling women makes him bigger. He goes after their dignity, their self-worth, and I don’t think there is a woman anywhere that doesn’t know what that feels like.”

The Defendant: LA Times

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: You people just love to throw down the shade card and then forget all about it. Shade is not a succulent! You can’t just put it out in the sun and hope for the best. Shade is a delicate orchid and you better show it some tender loving care.

I find this assault upon shade particularly frustrating because the author (or perhaps an overeager editor) used it in the headline and went on to mention the word just once in the course of the entire article. ORCHID!

Despite crowning her with the much-too-generous title of Shade Queen, the author doesn’t make any attempt to mention Clinton’s shady moments. And since we’re using the debate as the example, there obviously aren’t going to be any!

Do you really think a pun about “apprenticeships” is the best shade Hillary Clinton can produce?


We’ve been over this, but I’ll just say it one last time: Hillary’s goal during the debates isn’t to throw shade. She is, in her own style, going pound for pound with Trump and his bullshit, inane insults. Shade, in this scenario, would not be helpful to her. You can’t afford to be too subtle when you’re facing a farcical manifestation of everything decent people around the globe take offense to.

Yes, Hillary Clinton threw down sassy retorts and hard-hitting zingers and somehow controlled a wave of eyerolls that would have blinded me had I tried to suppress them, but she was not throwing shade.

The Ruling: Not shade

Shade Court Docket #2016JZ000199

Images via Getty. Screenshot via Facebook.

The Case: Wordsmith’s Word of the Day email went on out on the morning of the final debate and featured the word “trumpery.”

The Defendant: Word of the Day

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: Like that one “comfort food” contestant on Top Chef who’s eliminated after the third round, I like to say that simple is almost always best.


Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate some truly petty shade—like Drake getting a specially made jersey made or Kim Kardashian securing some random dress worn on a magazine cover by Taylor Swift five months before. But sometimes, instead of a latte, you just want a cup of nice, hot black coffee. Instead of the sausage, pepper and onion pizza, you want a $2 slice of cheese. Sometimes you’re in the mood for Ja Rule, not Kendrick Lamar.

Word of the Day noted that the theme for the week was: “Words that appear to be coined after someone (but aren’t).” Their decision to include “trumpery” becomes all the more hilarious when you realize—I assume in an attempt to seem unbiased—they also included words that recall Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. Those words, however, are “obambulate,” meaning “to walk about,” and “hilarity,” which, duh.

They associated Obama and Clinton with walking and laughing and Donald Trump with being “showy but worthless.”

Low-key, simple and mighty effective.

The Ruling: Shade

Shade Court Docket #2016JZ000200

Images via Getty.

The Case: In a radio interview to promote her new album Lady Gaga was asked about the frequent comparisons to Madonna she garners.

“Madonna and I are very different, I wouldn’t make that comparison at all,” Gaga said. “I don’t mean to disrespect Madonna. She’s a nice lady and she’s had a fantastic huge career. She’s the biggest pop star of all time, but I play a lot of instruments.”

Gaga continued: “I write all my own music. I spend hours and hours a day in the studio. I’m a producer, I’m a writer. What I do is different. I’m not just rehearsing over and over again to put on a show,” adding later that, “there’s a spontaneity in my work. I allow myself to fail. I allow myself to break. I’m not afraid of my flaws.”

The Defendant: Paper magazine, E! News, Entertainment Tonight Canada, Perez Hilton, US Weekly

The Evidence:

The Deliberation: To quote a real diva’s diva: Did we almost have it all?

GOD, SHE WAS SO CLOSE. Lady Gaga had her shade right there, gently resting in the palm of her hand but then she couldn’t shut up and let the magic happen. The line: “She’s the biggest pop star of all time, but I play a lot of instruments” is shady as hell. That’s from the Mariah Carey School of Shade where it sounds like she’s about to pay someone a compliment only to pull the rug out at the last minute with some casual mention of one tiny difference between them that’s actually a huge difference in the favor of Mariah Carey.


Everything Lady Gaga wanted to say was right there: Sure, she’s Madonna. She’s a pop star. But I’m an artist.

You can argue the truthfulness of that statement all you want but you can’t argue the shade of it.

HOWEVER, Gaga just had to keep going. She ran her mouth too much and completely undid her beautiful work from moments before by blabbing her entire resume. Girl, we get it.

The Ruling: Almost shade