Posted in TV

9 Things That Made No Sense About “Smallville”

clark kent superman GIF by HULU

I love Smallville- I love the adorable and sincere Tom Welling, I love the sweet parental relationships, I love a good pastoral drama. However, like many contemporary shows geared at teens, Smallville is flawed, and occasionally, nonsensical. While there are many things to love about this early two-thousands drama, there are a lot of aspects of the show that just don’t hold up.

1. The Distance Between Smallville and Metropolis

During the show’s long run, there were discrepancies about how far apart these two settings were. Lana at one point states that they are four hours apart, but later Chloe claims they’re two hours apart. Either way, it makes no sense for Chloe, Clark, and Lois to commute to Metropolis and remain residents of Smallville. While the show wanted to remain rooted in Smallville, a two hour commute each way seems a bit untenable, unless, like Clark, you can run the distance. It does make sense for a show that wants to keep one foot in Smallville, when Clark hasn’t fully moved on to his new life in Metropolis, but it certainly seems logistically fraught for people without super-speed.

2. Martha’s Disappearing Act

Having Ma Kent leave the show when Clark becomes more independent makes good sense, but not having her pop in at crucial junctures is a little out of character. The only times Martha is mentioned is in an off-hand phone call with Clark. She does not return for the funeral of her close friend, Lionel Luther, or for Chloe’s ill-fated wedding. As a mother very engaged in her son’s life, there’s a difference between giving Clark space and completely vanishing. I love Annette O’Toole and what she brings to the show, and even having her mentioned makes more sense than her complete absence. Later, this is excused by Martha being traumatized and needing space from her late husband’s memory, but it still doesn’t sit well with me.

3. College Drop-Outs

After Dark Thursday, Met U is conveniently closed so that the college storylines can wrap up and we can focus on bigger things, like Lex and Lana. Clark also drops out of college, to little fanfare. It makes sense to focus on their other plots, as some of the show’s worst episodes were college-focused, but even in the early two thousands, getting a job in journalism without a college degree wasn’t likely. Even grunts at a newspaper would need a journalism degree, so Chloe, Lois, and later Clark getting hired at the Planet without one is unlikely. Lois is also booted from college at one point, spends a weird couple of weeks at Smallville High, and then becomes a full-time reporter after a brief stint as a campaign manager for Jonathan Kent. Lois’ record is certainly a little weird, and her career trajectory from there is certainly unrealistic. She’s very bright, but it’s difficult to imagine brains and moxie completely covering for a poor record.

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4. Living Arrangements

Aside from the impossible commute to Metropolis, there’s one other thing that makes little sense about the characters’ housing: the Talon’s size. The apartment above the Talon is home to Lana, Chloe, Lois, and Jimmy over the years, but gauging its size is difficult as a viewer. When Lana lives there, it seems to be a studio, but at one point, Lois, Chloe and Jimmy are all living there together. Is there a second bedroom, or is Lois just bedding down on the couch? Who even owns the Talon after Lex dies? Are they paying Tess rent? It makes no sense to stay in this apartment.

5. Chloe & Oliver & Lois & Clark & Arthur

While it is pretty true to the comics, it’s a little weird to have Lois involved with three of the members of the Justice League before she and Clark settle down. What’s definitely weirder is Chloe then ending up married to Oliver, meaning that not only has Lois had relationships with two of Clark’s close friends, she’s also slept with her cousin’s husband. It deviates from Oliver’s comic counterpart, who is usually involved with Black Canary, Dinah Laurel Lance. A happy ending for Chloe, who deserved a lot better than the show gave her a lot of the time, was well overdue, so I’m inclined to let this go. It is great that Lois is never shamed for her numerous relationships, which is something that a lot of shows didn’t do as well in the early two thousands.

6. Pretty much everything about Lana’s life

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Lana has a pretty hard go of it, and after a certain point, you have to suspend disbelief about the things that she does, and the stuff that happens to her. Staying in Smallville makes some sense- every teen show has that one friend who moves into the basement. Lana then leaves Smallville for school in France, which makes no sense. How is she paying for this? Does she have an inheritance from her dead parents? She then leaves to return to Smallville after becoming possessed by one of her ancestors (yeah, that was a weird season.) Did she get school credit? How was she just living as a minor in a foreign country? When Lana returns to Smallville, she rents out the apartment above the Talon, which we have already covered a little. How is she paying for this apartment? Lana makes a lot of weird choices, but the logistics alone make the head spin.

7. Telling Lois

Clark doesn’t confide in Lois about his origins and powers until the final season. At that point, they have known each other for years, and are in love with each other. While they have had a slow development into close friends, and then partners, at work and in life, Clark waits a really long time to tell Lois his secret. By that time, she already knows, and has decided to wait until he is ready to tell her. Clark trusts Lois, and he should have told her sooner. She’s more in danger not knowing than knowing, and she deserves to know. Damn Clark and his trust issues.

8. Lex and Clark’s Friendship

It is incomprehensible that any normal guy in his early twenties would want to hang out with a fifteen year-old farm boy. While Clark is extraordinary, a rich, self-centered guy like Lex would never want to hang out with a teen who can’t even ask out the girl he likes. Watching it now, it makes total sense why Martha and Jonathan don’t think their son should pal around with Lex Luther- he’s a rich playboy in his early twenties and they’re raising a well-mannered, handsome alien. The last thing you need entering into that kind of parenting is a wildcard like Lex. Even if someone saves your life, it makes no sense for Lex to want to hang around Clark.

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9. The Finale

Most fans can agree that Smallville went on for way too long, leaving Clark in a state of arrested development, with one foot in Smallville and one in Metropolis. The show continuing for so long meant that some episodes were bloated, and others too thin. New characters were integrated reasonably well, but the show’s longevity decreased its overall quality. The season finale included the resurrection of Lex Luthor, death of Tess Mercer, and Clark and Lois’ wedding. The final episodes were too rushed, and a disservice to fans who love the show and its mythology. In particular, a character like Tess, who goes through so much in the show, dying without any of the other characters addressing it shows that time was managed poorly. The scene with Tess and Lex was pitch-perfect, exactly what it needed to be, but Tess deserved to be memorialized even a little. A lot of threads get dropped in the last season, like Conner Kent, and it shows. The show also wastes time in the final episodes with Lois trying to break up with Clark for stupid reasons, which was in-character, but not necessary.

While the show has its ups and downs, Smallville was great, and had such an impact that it provided a blueprint for the super hero shows on TV today. While it has its plot holes, we can’t help but love it. It’s just super.

getting ready clark kent GIF by HULU

Posted in TV

“Jane” Falls Flat Again

So, this episode of Jane the Virgin wasn’t just disappointing, it was infuriating. Most of the season so far has been hot and cold, but this episode was a new low. The A plot is Jane’s struggling with Jorge’s new presence in the family home, while the B plot is Xiomara losing it over River Fields’ new infatuation with Rogelio. Both were poorly conceived and were only watchable because of how talented the show’s actors are.

Jorge

Jorge is probably the worst part of the episode. Pretty much everything he does is the wrong thing. He acts essentially like he’s a guest in the house, and expects everyone to alter their lives for his convenience. Turning up the TV when Mateo is having a temper tantrum, acting as though he’s okay with Jane’s reasonable requests and then complaining to Alba about it? That’s teenage behavior, not that of a grown adult man able to communicate effectively. He knew going into the situation that Jane lived at home, and regardless of how he felt about that, he should have understood that this would mean she would probably, you know, have stuff there. He is somewhat considerate of Alba, asking Jane to take the farther parking spot, but overall he’s self-serving and kind of an asshole about the whole thing. It’s almost like he wanted to annoy Jane into moving out.

Alba

Alba enabling the situation is almost as bad- when Jorge comes to her upset, she immediately yells at Jane, despite him not telling her what it’s about. She immediately blames Jane, and then tells Jane that her marriage is none of her business and that Jane never minded when Alba was taking care of her and Xiomara. The thing is, this argument doesn’t ring true. First of all, Alba never keeps her opinions about other people’s relationships to herself. If Jane were to see something troubling in any relationship, I think she would speak up. She’s a busybody, and she cares about people. Secondly, Jane and Xiomara also contributed to the household. While Alba worked, so did Jane and Xo, and Jane took on a lot of family responsibility from a young age. They all had a symbiotic relationship. Alba being sexist and saying that Jorge deserves consideration because he’s “The man of the house” is so awful, and frankly unworthy of her. I expected more from Alba, since she’s grown so much.

I really wanted to see Jane talking to her mother about this- is it something that existed in Alba and Mateo senior’s relationship? Ordinarily, in a problem like this, we would see Jane consult Xiomara and get advice. I missed that. Jane moving out is a good call, and honestly I could see her being Petra’s roommate. They’re stronger together than separately, and while their parenting styles might clash, I think they could learn a lot from each other.

River

This came totally out of left field for me, if you’ll forgive the pun. Honestly, it seems like they’re playing River deluded and unhinged, as opposed to her previous moderate level of crazy. Rogelio has really grown as a person, and I can see why she’d fall in love with him, but we got zero warning about this. The twists on this show only work it the groundwork is laid, and the job wasn’t done right here. I guess we’ll see where it goes, but it doesn’t look promising.

Xiomara & Rogelio

The idea that Xo and Rogelio wouldn’t trust each other absolutely after all they’ve been through is a little far-fetched. The idea of getting back to normal is great, but I’m not really interested in Xo being insecure, it doesn’t suit her anymore. She’s grown so much, seeing her regress this way is kind of painful. However, Rogelio being honest with Xiomara, but realistic about his job, is a breath of fresh air. He can’t avoid River, but he can defer to his wife’s feelings as much as possible.

Overall, the actors pulled off the episode, but it wasn’t a good time to watch. I was hoping this week I would be back to enjoying the show, and not just watching it out of commitment. It seems I was wrong.

Small Things

  • Will Rafael help Jane find a place? This could help them spend a little time together.
  • Krishna coming back to work for Petra is ringing bells in my head- I feel like they’re going to get together.
  • What’s going on with Luisa? I never want more of her, but after last week I do.

 

 

Posted in TV

“Game of Thrones” Is Almost Over

We are three episodes into the final season of Game of Thrones, and not a lot has happened yet. Here’s a summary of everything that has happened, and everything that needs to be resolved, before the final credits roll on the finale.

Who’s dead?

So far, we’ve lost Beric, Theon, Edd, Jorah, Melisandre, the Night King, and Lady Lyanna Mormont, all of whom died at the Battle of Winterfell in episode three. Fantastic deaths for the most part, although Lyanna as usual just stole the show. This is a pretty low death count for halfway through a season, and considering how many deaths are predicted by prophesies within the show, we have a long way to go. Cersei is going to die, as we know from the prophesy she received as a girl, and one of her brothers is going to kill her. Varys is going to die, too, as prophesied by Melisandre. I could care less about him, but I’m kinda mad that we had no deaths in episodes one and two. We need to get something good in four, or risk losing momentum in the final episodes, cramming too much into the last two.

What’s going on?

The army of the dead has (most likely) been defeated. There are some fringe theories that the white walker babies are still out there, and that Little Sam may be a sleeper white, but we’re going to put that aside, since we’ve already burned through half of the season.

Sansa is not happy with Jon or Daenerys, Daenerys is not happy with anyone, and Jon is conflicted. All of the people we like are in the North, recovering from defeating the dead. House Mormont is essentially wiped out, so that’s sad, and Arya is the hero of Winterfell and the whole damn world. It looks like most of Daenerys’ armies have been wiped out, though there is a theory that the Dothraki were sent away to use as a deus ex machina later, and in order to confound the plans of Cersei’s spies. Either way, the forces of our heroes are depleted and they’re going into battle against the golden company of Essos.

mothers day drinking GIF by Game of Thrones

Cersei has everything except her elephants, which she’s super salty about, and is now sleeping with Euron Greyjoy. Some fans theorize that it’s to cover for her pregnancy with Jamie’s baby, but I’m of the opinion that she lied about being pregnant initially, because while we previously saw her refuse wine, she’s clearly shown drinking it again. It was also to her benefit to lie to Jaimie and Tyrion about it, because Jamie would be more likely to stand by her, and Tyrion would be more inclined to believe her lies. I think she’s invited Euron further into her life because she is lonely. Jaimie has abandoned her, which is something she never believed would occur, and she’s being beset by enemies on all sides. The only advantage she has is the backing of the Iron Bank, and they’re bankers, so you know they’re fickle. But, that’s where we stand. We haven’t seen King’s Landing since episode one, so we’ll know more on Sunday night.

What now?

Sansa is pissed that Jon is putting aside the interests of the North at large for Daenerys, so I can’t imagine that learning about Jon’s true parentage is going to go over well. I think he’s going to tell people, but probably Arya first. She’s his closest pseudo-sibling, and her opinion of him won’t change for knowing it. I would also love more scenes of them together.

I can’t imagine what Jaimie’s next move is- is he disillusioned enough with Cersei to march with an army against her? If so, he might be a valuable asset. He’d have to pledge loyalty to Dany, though, and he might be unwilling to do that. And would she even accept him if he did? He’s still on Brienne-sponsored probation.

What about Euron? My theory is he’s definitely dead before the end of the show, but I don’t think Cersei will off him. She’s very into killing people these days, but he’s the one person who talks to her like he’s not afraid, and that’s almost friendship, maybe?

daenerys targaryen kiss GIF by Game of Thrones

Jon and Daenerys gotta go one of two ways- full love-fest or Splitsville. Either they find a way to reconcile, or completely diverge. I don’t think Jon wants to break fealty, and I think he still loves her, but there’s kind of an impasse regarding their claims to the throne. It’s a bit late in the season for Daenerys to address a possible pregnancy, so that may have been a red herring, or something that fans read into too much. In the unlikely case of a pregnancy, Jon would still want to marry her. Though he’s always been legitimate, he was raised a bastard, and I don’t think that will ever leave him. He would never intentionally allow a child of his to go without a father, so I think that would trump any icky feelings he might have over the incest. It would actually simplify things, because they would probably both feel qualms over being together, but a pregnancy would give them little choice but to talk about their relationship and find a way forward.

In general, there have been a lot of red herrings this season. Most fans thought that Brienne would die, since she finally got her due and became a knight. Podrick, Greyworm, and Missandei were all also slated for death, due to their scenes in the second episode, but all have survived so far. The writers’ talent for misdirecting us never falters, so maybe the majority is wrong, and we’ll all be surprised, come Sunday. game of thrones final season GIF

Posted in TV

Jane the Virgin: Final Season Predictions

Jane the Virgin has been a real ride- from her accidental artificial insemination to her turbulent romantic life, Jane and her family have provided us with a lot of emotional and hilarious moments since the show premiered. While there are a lot of twists and turns along the way, we’re all enthralled by the main conflict of the last four seasons: the choice between Rafael and Michael, Jane’s decision about who to spend the rest of her life with.

While bringing a character whose death was so emotional back from the dead initially seems a little like a ratings-grab for the last season of the show, it makes more sense than at first glance. Rafael, who has healthy self-esteem, is insecure about his relationship with Jane after all they’ve been through. The best way to dispel that insecurity is to have Jane choose him over Michael when both are an option, or he will always believe a little bit that she only is with him by default. So, without further ado, here are my predictions for the final season of the show.

Jane writes her new book

Obviously, having the revelation that all of her novel drafts are actually one book was huge at the end of season four. Jane will probably take some time to process the changes in her life, but she processes a lot through her writing. With how invested Jane is in all of her stories, this one is bound to be a hit. Probability: 99% Jane will write an amazing new book 

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Xo finds a new career- and defeats cancer

Xiomara can’t die- her role in the family is too important, and her death would be too much in a show that promises so much drama in this last season. We can’t watch the Villanueva women suffer like that! She’s going to be cancer free, and find a new direction with her life, possibly even working as her husband’s personal manager. We saw her explain Rogelio’s feelings and needs perfectly at the end of last season, to his overbearing co-star. If she can handle seeing that much of him, at work and at home, Xo would be the perfect manager. Probability:  99% Xo gets better, 60% she finds a new career

Alba’s marriage falls apart

With the bittersweet way the season ended with Alba’s green card marriage to Jorge, fans are not sure what to think. She did the right thing for her friend, but for herself? It’s hard to tell. Jorge, after having a proposal turned down twice, might not want to be with Alba. She has spent half of her adult life as a widow and in love with her dead husband. It’s unlikely that the marriage will last, but hopefully they got the paperwork processed fast enough for Jorge to see his mother one last time. Probability: 50%

JR goes to prison

JR, Petra’s amour, shoots an unknown assailant in the season four finale. As she is a lawful good character, she is unlikely to want to hide the evidence and escape prosecution for her crime. She might not have killed the person attacking Petra, but she definitely did some damage. It is likely that she would turn herself in and serve her sentence. JR loves Petra, so they might stay together, but it seems likely that the two would argue over what to do about the crime. Petra is a self-preservationist, as she has had to be to survive her mother, evil twin, and vindictive exes. She would want to protect JR, no matter the consequences. JR might have some moral disagreements with Petra, but they’re in love. Here’s hoping they make it. Probability: 60% JR goes to prison, 70% JR and Petra stay together

Michael has amnesia

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Jane would never forgive Michael if he knowingly allowed her to believe he was dead, so he has to have amnesia, or be faking it. He also did not seem to recognize his BFiLF (Best Father-in-Law Forever) Rogelio, which is further evidence of the amnesia theory. The show has never shied away from telenovela tropes, so this seems like a likely theory for why Michael has been absent and presumed dead. I don’t get how the death certificate and everything else could have been faked, but it Sin Rostro had a hand in it, there’s room for skepticism. It’s possible she had him abducted and is still controlling the criminal underworld from prison, since she knew he was alive somehow. Maybe he is still somehow a cop? Almost every scenario has him lying to Jane, which is pretty much unforgivable. Probability: 70% Michael has amnesia, 50% Sin Rostro faked his death 

Jane is pregnant

Pregnancy plays a huge role in the show, from Jane’s unintended insemination to Petra’s intentional one. It is not super likely, but it’s possible that Rafael could have gotten Jane pregnant again. When she comforted him at the end of the last season, there’s a bright transition and then we see them relaxing together. This might indicate that the scene isn’t just a normal sex scene, but something important. It’s not super likely, since Rafael is supposedly infertile and a pregnancy would force Jane to make a choice sooner rather than later. It would give the show some symmetry, with Jane having another baby at the end and choosing again who she wants to be with. Probability: 10%

Jane will choose Rafael

The whole show has been about Jane growing and changing, becoming an adult and making adult decisions, changing her mind, and becoming open to life. Initially, she loved Michael and wanted to be with him because they had so much in common. Now, Jane loves Rafael because he’s built himself from nothing, and become a new man. Where he was once a morally ambiguous character, he has become one who always does the right thing, because he knows it’s right. That appeals to Jane, and the viewer. Michael has just always been less interesting than Raf- he’s certainly wholesome, sweet and kind, but he doesn’t have depth. It’s not that Michael isn’t a good guy, but the story isn’t really about his relationship with Jane. Jane was always going to outgrow him- he’s a first love, not a soul mate. What’s been interesting about Rafael has been him growing, changing, becoming a better and fuller version of himself. Rafael breaks patterns we see in early seasons- he stops making self-destructive choices and starts following his moral compass. When we see him drunk and angry in the season four finale, we see him in his worst place. He thinks that everything he wants with Jane is going to be over because it’s all based on Michael being dead. Jane shows her growth by staying to be with him, even though he doesn’t want her there, and Rafael shows how he has changed by coming clean and being honest with Jane. Rafael shows trust, but also faith, that his relationship with Jane is strong enough to survive this hurdle. He also shows good judgement in telling her the truth, not just morally. Rose wanted to ruin his happiness, but he didn’t let this fester and destroy him, he set the secret free. Rafael made a selfless choice, one he wouldn’t have made in previous seasons. Probability: 100% Jane will choose Rafael

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I think it’s fairly obvious that Raf and Jane will end up together, but I can’t wait to see how things shake out. Jane the Virgin will return to television March 27th.

 

Posted in TV

Netflix Gems: Supernatural Shows

Back to uncovering the best things you’re not watching on Netflix! I could write a million of these lists, and maybe I will.

The Vampire Diaries is over, The Originals is off the air, so we must keep ourselves occupied until the Winter melts away and we can once again go outside without getting frostbite. Let’s begin with a few high-quality shows that tackle one of our favorite TV tropes, the supernatural.

Supernatural, starring Jensen Ackles and Jared Paladecki

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This list could not begin any other way. Supernatural is a fan-favorite show, with great writing, perfect casting and just heart-destroying plot twists. You will cry. You will hate yourself. And you will watch all twelve seasons in less than a month. The first two seasons are rocky, but the show really hits its stride in season four, when Mischa Collins joins the cast, and many pedigreed actors have made notable and memorable appearances on the show. Overall, not to be missed. There are some troubling racial and gender related undertones early in the show, but those are subverted later in the show’s run. Still going strong, you have a lot to catch up on, since episode three hundred just aired.

Charmed, starring Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, Shannen Doherty and Rose McGowan

This show hit the ground running from the start, it’s sad, funny, silly and adorable all at once. The three leading roles are all women, though there is some cast rotation in the middle of the show’s run, and they’re all strong, funny and compelling. No season stands out as awful, but season four with the addition of McGowan breathes new life into the show, sustaining it until the show’s finale. Some of the best episodes revolve around Paige Matthews, the fourth Halliwell sister, and Piper Halliwell is one of the most badass witches to ever appear on TV. If you can stomach the outfits, which tend towards the ’90s, you’ll be totally charmed. There has been a recent reboot of the show, which has failed to attract consistent viewership, but might be worth checking out. It airs on the CW.

Bitten, starring Laura Vandervoot and Greyson Holt

This show is full of bloody conflict and true love. The leads are a compelling couple facing a series of obstacles, and nothing plays better than lovers in trouble. There are only three seasons of the show, but they are three flannel-clad and fun seasons of fascinating Canadian drama. Gory, dramatic, and high-stakes, Bitten is fun all around. It doesn’t hurt that everyone, and I mean everyone on this show is attractive.

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Good Witch, starring Catherine Bell and Bailey Madison

I’d never actually seen the made-for-TV movies that are the precursor to this show until after watching all of it, but it plays well both ways. The character histories can be a little difficult to parse without backstory, and some of the story-lines abort without warning, but it’s overall a pleasant show to watch, and tends toward the family friendly if you want to take a break from morally dubious heroes. Cassie Nightingale is overwhelmingly virtuous, without being irritating. For a change, this show’s main teenagers are mostly tolerable. A pleasure to watch without being too taxing emotionally.

That’s a couple seasons to keep you warm until Spring, comment with your favorite supernatural show. Happy hibernating!

 

Posted in TV

“The Four” Fergie’s spins, white girl dreads, and black excellence

This season on “The Four” has been wild, to say the least. The judges kept things interesting, the challengers were impressive, and the Four were intense. The first season of the show is certainly promising, but there were ups and downs on the journey to stardom. Be that as it may, the show has definitely earned its time-slot.

the four on fox GIF by Republic Records

I loved Fergie as the host- she’s charming, charismatic, warm, and generous. Also, spinning as the rings come up blue is hilarious, I have no idea how she does it in those heels but I respect it.

For the most part, I love the panel. Khaled is intense and hilarious, Meghan is warm but tough, and Diddy plays bad cop faultlessly, while showing his approval when someone makes muster. Charlie Walk is on leave, due to harassment allegations, but it’s no great loss. I actually found him to be an ineffective member of the team. As a record executive, he’s supposed to be looking for someone he can market, but he definitely prioritized thin, attractive, white contestants. Diddy was unequivocally my favorite thing about the show- we really got to get to know him and how he thinks. His interactions with his fellow judges were hilarious and honest, and he just took everything to the next level.

I think the structure of the show is effective, it gives the audience a chance to connect to the singers and I love watching the Four sit up and judge the challengers. The contestants are mostly hopeful and full of passion. There were some uncool moments, specifically when Jason Warrior got in Meghan’s face and made an ass of himself. He was previously a favorite of mine, he seemed devoted and willing to go the distance, but losing brought out something ugly in him. He was ungracious in defeat, and that takes the shine off of his charm. Warrior is clearly a rare talent, and I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of him. Saeed was definitely robbed, he deserved more time on the show, and I hope to be seeing more of him, too. I loved Tim’s energy, hopefully his multiple talents will keep him working and we’ll get to see more of his sweet moves soon. Lex Lu and Vincent also deserved more time. Vincent’s performance of “Creep” shook me all the way through.

i respect that the four GIF by Diddy

The winner, Evvie, was a real revelation. She has the kind of voice that only comes around once in a generation, and she was a no-brainer to win. I almost cried listening to her sing “Glory” and her performance of “Proud Mary” was the best thing I’ve seen all season. She’s wonderful, and I believe she’ll be incredibly successful. I hope we see some of her next season, working on her album, just because she’s so charismatic and such a presence. Evvie has the star power the judges were looking for, and her win sets a great precedent for the show.

dj khaled congratulations GIFNow, let’s talk about Zhavia. She is incredibly talented, and clearly has great potential. She was the first challenger to really wow the panel, and she has mad love from the fans. However, she presents a lot of problems we need to address. To state the obvious, she is a white girl with dreadlocks. This is inappropriate for a variety of reasons, but the first is that she has exploited the black community. The community is very accepting of light-skinned people, which occasionally means that a white person can appropriate blackness like it’s a cool accessory. (See Rachel Dolezal.) Zhavia has never made clear what her racial background is, but it’s pretty safe to say that she is white. People who are ethnically ambiguous or propagate an image of racial ambiguity seem to think it’s okay to be black when convenient, but this is clearly wrong. Add Zhavia’s blaccent, and I’m angry. While everyone is praising her big, beautiful voice, no one is talking about how unacceptable it is for her to present as black. And she does have a gorgeous voice- I love listening to her sing- but she needs to get learnt. She is only sixteen, so she has plenty of time to switch gears in her career. The thing is, you don’t have to be black to sing soul, and R&B. Adele is amazing, Amy Whinehouse was fantastic. There is no excuse, even though she’s young. She clearly has some familiarity with the community, and it should be clear to her that the way she is portraying herself and acting is not okay.

In particular, Zhavia is invading a space not exclusively for people of color, but a place that is safe and welcoming to artists of all ethnicities and races. There were some amazing black artists on the show who deserved a seat over her, and they didn’t have the opportunity. It is about race, but it’s also about perception- Zhavia is white, thin, young, and beautiful. We have the responsibility to hold her accountable for her actions regardless of her ability. I hope she does come to the realization that what she has done is wrong, and I wish her all the success in the world, but not at the expense of other equally talented artists.

In short, I’d say this first season deserves a B+. Charlie Walk and Zhavia are definite negatives, but the show made a strong beginning, and will hopefully be entertaining us for seasons to come.

dj khaled popcorn GIF by Diddy

Posted in TV

“Big Little Lies” Episode 6

Things keep chugging along in Monterey, where our three favorite moms (and Laura Dern) are confronting their problems in spectacular fashion. Episode six does not disappoint, bringing us some more revelations and an awkward dinner party that ends in vomit. Let’s dive in!

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Maddie and Ed finally are addressing their marital problems, which mostly are within the context of their lack of passion, or Maddie’s lack of passion, to be specific. Ed does the good-guy thing, which makes me like him more. The dudes on this show (at least the ones who aren’t adorable six year-olds) are pretty lousy, but out of the lot Ed is the decent one. He cares about the needs of his partner, and is devoted to her. Ed doesn’t confront issues well, but that’s a two way street: Maddie confronts the problems of everyone but herself. I think it’s pretty clear that they’re going to stay together, and Maddie isn’t going to tell him about her affair. The conversation between Maddie and her daughter is metaphorically resonant, because it takes place outside, not in her room at her dad’s. I think it’s important that Maddie tells someone. In telling Abigale about something she’s not proud of, Maddie makes herself vulnerable. Watching, we as the audience see that, despite all of her prickliness, Maddie is all soft spots. The relationship between Maddie, her ex, and their respective spouses has only soured with their reconciliation dinner, but the drama of the final episode will hopefully make them forget their squabbling. Abigale’s behavior is a misguided teen’s cry for attention, and it works. I think that by the conclusion of episode seven, Abigale will be moved back in with her mother.

Shailene does herself proud in this episode. The sex talk with Ziggy is a great moment of parenting, where Jane was clearly caught off guard but explained everything in a way Ziggy could understand. Jane’s tension with Maddie this episode was a bit rough, but it served its purpose. Being honest with Maddie is a big part of Jane’s journey, she’s learning to be honest with herself and her friends. Saxon turning out not to be Ziggy’s father and Jane’s rapist tightens things a bit- we’re going to learn his identity, the identity of the murderer, and the murdered, in one episode. That’s gonna be one packed hour. I thought her trying to make things good with Renata made sense, but Renata is still just a blindingly unsympathetic character.

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She’s worried about her kid, but she has no concern for anyone else. True, Jane does attack her, but Renata has been provoking Jane and socially humiliating her son. Jane is the one we feel for, because she’s by herself, she’s doing her best, and she apologizes when she’s wrong. Renata also says she’s sorry, albeit gracelessly.

Big Little Lies hbo shailene woodley adam scott reese witherspoon GIFOf course, this is really another Celeste episode. Nicole Kidman got the meatiest part on this show, despite the intensity and complexity of the other characters. The scenes with the therapist continue to be pitch-perfect, and you can slowly see Celeste understanding the true nature of her marriage. When she looks around that new apartment, you can see her placing twin beds for her twin sons, boxes of Legos and toy guns and dinosaurs. Celeste only truly accepts that her marriage is a hostage situation when Perry threatens her life, and that’s when she knows she has to do what her therapist is telling her.

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The music in this episode is maybe even better than it’s been- the production on this show is really fantastic, some of HBO’s best. I’m sad that it’ll be over next episode, but I anticipate a very satisfying finale.

 

 

 

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A New “Series of Unfortunate Events”

Like anyone who grew up and came of age in the early two thousands, I read A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket in elementary and middle school. The books, a hit, were adapted into a so-bad-it’s-good Jim Carrey showcase entitled A Series of Unfortunate Events. Personally, I enjoyed watching the movie, but I wasn’t really thinking of it as an adaptation of the books. When I watch a movie based on a book, I lower my expectations. I mostly think of the book as a suggestion- I know that’s how Hollywood sees it.

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So the Jim Carrey movie masquerading as A Series of Unfortunate Events was widely considered a failure, which is too bad because failed movies tend to deter future similar movies. But, through the magic of Netflix, we received an almost version of A Series of Unfortunate Events in the form of an eight-episode miniseries. Neil Patrick Haris is, like his character, a flawless scene stealer. The children are remarkable, especially for such complex roles, and the supporting cast is just phenomenal- Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket is just criminally good. Honourable mentions to Aasif Mandvi and K. Todd Freeman, who were just so book-accurate.

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There are a lot of ways that I think that the Netflix adaptation is a lot stronger than the books- there are characters of color whose races were never specified in the books, there are gay characters who are specifically established as gay. Obviously, in television foreshadowing and plot pacing has to be different than in books, so we may get answers we weren’t expecting. The opening sequences are hilarious and give every episode a little special something. I could go on forever talking about the aspects of the show that I think are brilliant, but I’ll just say one more thing: The decision to introduce the Quagmire siblings and their parents in the first season is genius, and Colby Smoulders and Will Arnett are a perfect and tragic red herring.

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In terms of the second season, it has been announced that it will consist of ten episodes, and cover the next five books- Austere Academy to Carnivorous Carnival. Supposedly, season three would tackle the final four books, but considering how much longer and more complicated the books get later in the series, I hypothesize that they will have to make more than two episodes to cover the last two books, so perhaps season three will be ten episodes as well. The production team and writers have definitely proven themselves with season one, so I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us in future seasons. Season two has an anticipated release in 2018, but it’s likely that the producers will choose to film the entire rest of the series back-to-back, due to the children not remaining children forever. Let’s hope it continues to impress us all with its unfortunateness.

You can read a letter from Mr. Snicket here, explaining the very fraught direction that this very frightening decision has pushed us all in.

Posted in TV

“Big Little Lies” Episode 5

So this was an eventful episode! Car crashes, flashbacks, road trips, oh my! Got to admit, I had more problems with this episode than the last few, but it was definitely important, and moved things along in the direction I think we all know they’re headed.

My favorite character moment of the episode goes to Celeste- you can see her close off as the therapist begins to ask questions she’s not okay with. When the therapist asks why she stays with him, she sees herself comforting Perry after he assaults her. Seeing his “remorse” is her justification for staying with him. She makes all kinds of excuses, his being a good parent, his love for her, his staying by her side. But even Celeste doesn’t seem to believe what she’s saying. The scenes with the therapist are genius, and I think they’ll be further explored in interesting ways in the next two episodes. The most pragmatic part of the Celeste scenes was her greeting Perry at the airport- he cries, kisses her fiercely, and their kids look on. It’s another reminder that she’s still trapped, not done quite yet.  Big Little Lies shailene woodley reese witherspoon nicole kidman zoe kravitz GIF

The Madeline subplot feels kind of contrived- like, okay, there have been some hints that the director guy has a thing for her, but aside from her passion for theater, we’ve seen little indication that she has interest in him. I can see her losing control and using someone who clearly desires her , but I’m not sure she’d leave the affair unresolved- Maddie’s an anxious person. The car crash is a catalyst for the spouses to start asking questions, and to put Madeline back on track in the life she wants for herself, or seems to. Her marriage is pretty glass house-y, so we’ll see how this develops further. My hypothesis is that either she and Ben will break up as a result of her affair, or nothing will happen and they’ll continue to live in an uneasy, semi-satisfying relationship. I feel like this subplot was created to give Maddie more to do outside of her problems with her daughter, her ex, and his new family.

Jane had an eventful episode- her PTSD is really well done, but I feel like she needs to be seeking help outside of emotional runs on the beach. Her biggest priority is being a good mom and taking care of her son and herself- and not dealing with her PTSD is hurting them both. At this point, I’m pretty convinced that Ziggy didn’t hurt Amabella- there’s some other culprit at play here. Maybe it’s her dad? Eh. I need more data. I’m having problems with Renata Klein. I just don’t think any reasonable woman would treat another mom like that, even one who she thinks is responsible for the child who is hurting her daughter. I also feel like Renata is another example of the hysterical Jewish mom, which is a trope I would like to see die. Sure, she’s right to be concerned about her daughter, but Jane is being a better mom. Jane took her son to a child psychologist, who told her what she needed to know. She trusted her son, and confirmed what he told her with as much science as you can. All Renata is doing is yelling at anyone who will listen, her husband, her daughter, the school’s administration and Jane. That’s just not productive behavior.

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Side note, where did Jane get all that pot? Maybe she is getting treatment for her PTSD. I get her driving down to confront her potential attacker on her own. The women going with her was a nice idea, but this is something she was always going to do on her own. Whether or not he was truly her rapist, Jane’s reaction to him shows that she’s not done dealing with her assault.

With only two episodes left, the show has a lot of threads to tie up. I don’t think we’re going to find out the murderer and the murdered until the finale, but the dissolution of Celeste and Perry’s marriage and Jane’s rapist have to be revealed in the next two episodes. Hopefully, we will be getting more of the great stuff we’ve been seeing so far, and it will be resolved satisfactorily. We’ll see in tonight’s episode . . .