My Two New Shows

A Million Little Things stars Nick from Grimm and I’ve missed that show so much that I had to check out his new show. And HEY! the funny guy from Psych and the funny guy from The Forty Year Old Virgin are in it along with that guy from Office Space who’s also in like, all sorts of things. This’ll be a GREAT show, I think, watching the teaser to the pilot on a Tuesday afternoon while my kids play quietly on the floor.

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I loved… this show. 

And then what’s his name, who didn’t finish the TPS reports, jumps off a balcony and kills himself and my son decides THAT VERY MOMENT to pay attention. “Mommy, what happened to that guy?” he asks all sad-faced and too smart for his three and some odd years of life.

What happened is I turned that show off, turned Sesame Street on, and now I watch A Million Little Things alone when the kids are out of the house and cry to myself because life is a bitch, ain’t it? This show is my This Is Us, I’ve decided, which I cannot watch because I passionately dislike Mandy Moore. Also I think a baby died at some point. I don’t watch dead baby shows. “No, thank you,” as my son politely says to my husband whenever he tries to sing.

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I could not stand… this child.

And on the opposite end of the emotion-o-meter, I’ve been watching God Friended Me starring that woman I saw somewhere before plus the guy who was The Mayor? and the dude who plays his dad was the bossman in Speed and the adopted Blues Brother. I was pretty pissed that Kevin Probably Saves the World was cancelled since it was my weekly reminder that everything doesn’t suck all the time so this show has to MEASURE UP. And it kinda does! Plus gay characters and racially diverse cast and a Star Wars reference to sum up the main character’s relationship with his dad! I love a feel-good show.

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Convenient! Kevin and Miles actors promoting their former shows.

What I like about religiesque shows is all the happy fun miracles and positive life-affirmingness without any of the Seventh Heaven preachiness. I don’t need TV shows to tell me how to live MY life. I need them to play out my more extreme emotions so my daily life can remain drama-free. I will go to fake condensed for TV church/temple/service just like I adore a sports plays chosen for maximum dramatic impact sport-type movies. Get to the point, relate to the subject matter, and end in 30-60 minutes and I’m all on board.

Meanwhile, shows I hated within minutes of viewing the first episode:

The Neighborhood

I Feel Bad

Happy Together

Couldn’t do it. Too sitcommy. Too reliant on boring tropes and stereotypes. The only good sitcom anymore is The Good Place.

 

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I Can’t Handle the Truth

I had jury duty for the first time yesterday and I was really looking forward to finding out how much truth there was in TV tropes. Will there be a Rouge Juror? WILL IT BE ME?!?!

Chalk this one up to another disappointment, just like how New York City isn’t ALIVE WITH ENERGY so much as it REEKS LIKE ROTTING KETCHUP because all I did all day was sit in a big ole room with a bunch of other jerks all bored out of our minds and wishing we had brought more snacks because the coffee cart was hardly the Hogwart’s Express Trolley of treats we were led to believe it was.

Color me disappointed.

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TV Will Now Actively Rot Your Brain

My household recently switched from regular old cable I only wished I had when I was a kid to some kind of streaming service I do not totally understand as an adult and we saved ourselves a good $70 a month. Ok, so we can’t watch Riverdale live and we can’t “DVR” our shows anymore but it’s a good cheap service with “apps” and like, an on-demand type thing so we still get all our shows.

And then May happened and a good number of our shows got cancelled.

So… we clearly made the right choice because, I mean, if our Live TV options are a bunch of low brow sitcoms and derivative police procedurals, then why pay $70 more per month when we can just wait one day to watch Riverdale?

Honestly, my kids’ bedtime routines take so freaking long we don’t end up watching ANY of our shows until a week later anyway.

With that, I bid adieu to the latest casualty on my list of things to watch when we get around to it:

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In a world where Last Man Standing survives and Brooklyn 99 has to go shopping for a new network, there is no place for smart people saving the world. Let’s bitch about women and their nail polish and periods instead. 

 

 

 

Cheese and Rice!

I’m having trouble confronting the reality of Americans being super dumb again.

How does one confuse The Last Man on Earth with Last Man Standing?

Last Man Standing is a derivative situational comedy that uses sexist stereotypes as low brow entertainment.

The Last Man on Earth is freaking genius sauce, ok? Ah durrr!

For real, something truly original and hysterical and thought-provoking and amazing could be cancelled because some total turds can’t tell the difference?

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Get in Your Chair and Keep Going

I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt because ok, yes, Roseanne Connor probably would vote for… you know… And she would absolutely not apologize for it no matter how horrible that choice turned out to be. And she would make Jackie apologize TO HER for her decision.

That’s who the character is: a stubborn, loudmouthed, take-no-prisoners, sorry-not-sorry, working class, conservative, uneducated caricature. We don’t want to hang out with her and be her friend! We want to watch her yell at people. That’s the appeal.

But… I don’t know. There’s something amiss in TV land and it’s rubbing me the wrong way.

Oh right, it was the chair episode. She lost me on the chair episode. And by “lost” I mean kicked me in the crotch and told me to nut up because children can only be controlled by verbal and/or physical assault.

That, and the actress’s chit chat with the offender in chief is what sealed the deal for me. Ooohhhh, so this isn’t a joke. This is the bullshit she’s putting out into the world as her actual truth. She’s actually saying that being an abusive bigot is A-OK in her book and giving more abusive bigots an excuse to continue to hurt others. I see. Yesssss, I see now.

I was trying to compare it to the Adam is a bi-sexual man episode of Jane the Virgin (“Jane the Heteronormative”) and how that kinda rubbed me the wrong way too. Jane takes no issue with female bisexuality but male bisexuality is gross and weird? Mmm… that’s not… ok for such a liberal and progressive show. Oh but wait… as the story arc wore on, it became clear that the Jane character was exposing a set of beliefs that are fairly common and then examining them as a way to open the door for a future story line about Petra being bisexual and I’m not 100% pleased with how it all went but at least the dialogue continued.

In Roseanne, the dialogue seems to stop with Roseanne. I kept waiting for Darlene to prove her parents wrong. To show that compassion and trust (to a certain extent. mistakes were made, Darlene) in child-rearing can result in compassionate and trustworthy children would have reconciled some of the crappy things Roseanne and Dan said and did to their own children.

But it didn’t happen. Children are stupid and can’t be trusted and it’s perfectly ok to abuse them if that keeps them in line. The end.

That’s it. It’s all just excused. And let’s not pretend for a second that it’s ok to get into the shower with someone without their permission. EVERYTHING about that episode was bullshit and it that was just it for me. I’m done. Delete that recording, DVR, because I don’t want to watch this garbage anymore.

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File this under things that are not effective or appropriate parenting, marked “How not to teach kids about bodies and boundaries”

Like Roxanne Gay wrote in her NYTime Opinion piece,

I’ve been thinking about how nothing will change if we keep consuming problematic pop culture without demanding anything better.

She also said that shows like this are normalizing these behaviors. I don’t think I need to justify, at this point, my opinion about anyone trying to #MAGA with bigotry and anti-intellectualism. But from a parenting perspective, this kind of old school “family values” 50s throwback, child-controlling, abusive behavior apologism is intolerable.

I’ll stick with Jane.

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Children are magical, even when they are driving you freaking nutballs. Calling them bitches and attempting to drown them doesn’t change that.

In Defense of Jughead

I, too, am overly invested in the lives of fictional television characters, like a teen with little to no control over their own life who takes ownership of other people’s creations and projects all of their issues onto them, and then loses their cool when what they think should happen–or what they need to happen–doesn’t.

That’s me, in all my middle-aged glory. Because I currently have little control and so I seek it elsewhere. In Riverdale. Because I simply cannot handle what’s going down in Hawkins.

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*shudder*

Anyway.

I’m starting to almost maybe recover from Bughead’s break-up, as traumatizing as that was, because I keep watching the clip of Jug and Toni’s kissy time and thinking, “Man, if anyone needs some TLC, it’s that boy.” It’s the wrong girl, I know, but a need is a need and boy howdy does Jug have a neeeeed. Look at his broken face. Look at his broken soul. By GOD, somebody kiss that poor boy!

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I’m sure the appeal of everyone’s favorite modern day Romeo and Juliet has something to do with just the right combination of writing and mood-setting and actor chemistry but there’s also the appeal of two broken souls finding their match. Betty and Jughead are both victims of their parents’ mistakes, neither nurtured appropriately, both lacking in that fundamental need for acceptance and affection and attention (see Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect). What they’ve found in each other was what was/is missing from their childhoods and I think that’s why their bond is so intense. Where Archie and Veronica are love and teen sexuality, Betty and Jughead are love and childhood emotional healing.

That’s why their breakup was so traumatizing for so many of its fans. And me. I’m also a traumatized fan. The tragedy wasn’t as much that a serial killer split them apart (figuratively… so far) as that the wounds within that had just started healing as a result of their union were violently ripped open again. They’re both suffering from being stabbed through an existing scab.

I don’t blame Jug one bit for accepting a consolation from a girl he thinks is capable of taking care of him. She’s already started to, warning him about sitting alone in the cafeteria, helping him at the school paper and in attempting to decode the cipher, tutoring him for his gang exams. Regardless of her actual intent–which I’ve read may be a bit on the shady side–Toni is there for him and Betty is not right now. He’s hurt and he’s broken and he needs comfort and she’s… there, making dramatic gang-family promises to die for him. So… that, up there, with the smoochie boochies happened. And it makes a lot of sense.

As does real life, drama screws with what’s established, what’s expected, and what’s best for us, throwing us into a pit of chaos and waiting for us to learn the lessons that’ll get us up and out. Jug will learn a lesson. So will Betty. So will Toni. So will I and so will all the kids out there stressing out over this.

The struggle is real, I know, because I feel it too. We’re connected to these characters because there’s a need within us that sees the need within them and it’s easier to really understand what we’re going through when we watch it happen to others. But whatever harshness the writers throw at our favorite fictional characters doesn’t have to be a reflection on our character. We can make choices based on insight and logic and the advice of our support system whereas they are slaves to their creators and only exist for our viewing pleasure.

So rather than getting unreasonably angry at actors or showrunners, maybe we can take this as an opportunity to imagine or reassess what we would do or have done in similar* circumstances. That’s the point of fiction, after all: to help us understand ourselves, to make sense of life, to connect all of humanity through archetypes. And the best kinds of stories are the ones that affect us as deeply as this one has.

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*Similar, not the exact same, because I’m married and nobody in my marriage better be kissin’ nobody else.

Give Me Riverdale or Let Me Go

My husband is mocking my excitement for tonight’s new episode of Riverdale and I’m over here like, listen… the most excitement I get is diaper blowouts and televised drama so BACK OFF. Like he’s not going to watch too. Like he’s not gonna enjoy every damn second.

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I’m of the opinion that real life drama is best experienced in intervals, preferably few and far between. I had a baby 7 weeks ago. I’m good. That was sufficiently dramatic, what with the race to the hospital and ushering new life into the world and whatnot. I don’t really need anything else happening in my life to upend it or create more emotion than I’m already experiencing as the pregnancy hormones wreak havoc on their way out of my system.

But I’m also bored out of my mind being home all day.

The solution: entertainment.

Televised, published, streaming; you name it and I will consume it. I will chew up other people’s drama and swallow it with satisfaction because it is tasty delicious and I didn’t have to cook it myself.

So let me have my excitement over Riverdale. Let me watch those beautiful kids fight and solve mysteries and make out and wear nice clothes in messy situations. Because I probably won’t leave the house for two more days and my kids don’t solve mysteries. Not even of the “OK, who pooped now?” variety. No, that’s all on me to figure out and it is not as mysterious as it may seem. Because the answer is inevitably Both Of Them.

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The Only Girls I Want are Gilmores

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In this role, she has brown hair.

 

I don’t get a lot of “free time” so I don’t like to waste it.

And no, it’s not fair to watch the first 10 minutes of something (or read the first 20 pages or listen to the first song) but again, I don’t like to waste time, especially on something that makes me roll my eyes a couple dozen times before I even know what the thing’s about.

10 minutes of Girlboss was enough. The only good thing that happened is that an old lady straight up smacked this girl in the face. This girl–played by the girl who always plays an obnoxious, pouty, self-absorbed brat–needs a slap in the face. Every day. Until this obnoxious stereotype of all millennials being obnoxious, pouty, self-absorbed brats goes away. Because the majority of millennials I know are real people with actual personalities and problems and accomplishments and goals and setbacks and perspectives other than this very limited one.

I guess I will go clean the bathroom now instead of enjoying a little coffee and Netflix before the kid comes home from his grandparents’ house. Thanks for wasting my free time on this garbage today, Netflix.

How about more Gilmore Girls, less crap I could watch on cable TV.

I Love the Shows, They Go Away

Grimm is ending soon and I am… what’s a word that means devastated but on a really shallow level? Like, it doesn’t affect my life in any way and I will move on from it like I do every show I love that ends or gets cancelled, but I’m pretty bummed about it right now, as the actual end approaches? I’m that word.

What’s different about Grimm is that it’s a Buffy for grownups. It’s an adult–eventually several adults–who come into their power in mid-life instead of say… discovering their mutant abilities at puberty or learning of their legacy as a high school sophomore. They’re not still forming their identity when that spider bites them or negotiating prom plans when a freak accident gives them special powers or wolf bite reveals their true underlying nature.

They’re not kids taking on the world before they’re ready; they’re adults frustrated with a broken system who find themselves with extra abilities with which to bypass the red tape that holds everyone else back.

Like how Wu just straight up eats some bad guys sometimes. Generally speaking, cops don’t get away with EATING people. Shooting them under certain (*coughracistcough*) circumstances, sometimes they can talk their way out of, but eating? Only Wu.

Grimm justice is just about cutting off heads sometimes because… you know, sometimes, it needs to be done and detectives just don’t have that kind of authority.

And don’t even get me started on Hexenbiest problem-solving methods because veterinarians don’t USUALLY esplode people to bits or like, throw them against walls repeatedly until they die. It’s just not professional.

As a mid-lifer myself who received neither her Hogwarts letter nor my Slayer powers, Grimm gives me hope that I’m not completely useless yet. Maybe there’s a vat of nuclear goo in my future or a cute Irishman willing to pass his visions to me as he sacrifices himself for the greater good.

I mean, there’s always the SMART PEOPLE shows like Scorpion or MacGyver or Madame Secretary to make me feel like SOME old farts are getting it done but as a non-genius, none of those hold the same kind of appeal as an old lady showing up at my door and saying, “Don’t you know who your REAL parents are?! Don’t you know what you can do?!”

Because I guarantee I would not cry and whine and Just Wish I Was Normal if I got powers. I’d be out avenging! I’d be righting wrongs! I’d be tearing it up! I’d be… honestly, probably pretty corruptible actually.

Never give me power, man. I’d just Hancock it all up.

Still, I’ll miss Grimm. Here’s to more grownups getting the power and using it for good!

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7 out of 8 characters pictured have far more super powers than me.

 

P.S. I’ve got a backburner WIP about a newish mom who accidentally escapes her mundane  mom life to solve some mythic issue with the help of her infant son. GROWN-UP HEROES! GO, GO, GO!

Keifer IS… kickass no matter what

Hey, if you want to feel better about the election, binge watch Designated Survivor. After four episodes, I switched over to the news and was like, “oh missing emails? who gives a poop?”

I mean, that’s what I thought the first 8,000 times that email nonsense was brought up too but watching Keifer Sutherland pretend to be a meek minor cabinet member forced into a role of ultimate power (ha. Kiefer can handle anything) and seeing how everyone bitches about every tiny thing he does all the damn thing… well, it really puts things in perspective.

I am disappointed in big fat nothing they’ve given Maggie Q to do. Every episode, she’s sad and staring at something that reminds her of her dead lover. No. That is not what you do with Maggie Q. Give that woman some ass to kick. Give Keifer a gun and a license to kill. I want to see that show*.

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*Which would be Nikita and 24, I realize. But I liked what I saw of both of those shows.

EDIT: Props to the malefolk over on Twitter who liked and retweeted the link to this post without reading it at all. It’s a nice little reminder of how social media works. I’ll just throw this little tidbit here at the end: Designated Survivor, while intriguing, is still a sexist show. Less so than many out there, true. But there’s a character who is much more qualified to be president but she’s a woman so she’s a backstabbing shrew. There’s a character who would make a competent and trustworthy Chief of Staff, but she’s a woman, so she’s a “special assistant” and has a romance brewing with the significantly less trustworthy choice for Chief of Staff. There’s a female general but no one listens to her. And naturally, the First Lady had to quit her job and has to spend her time being the President’s ear piece and taking care of the kids.

So… it’s no Speechless, with the overt objectification of teenage girls like there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it’s not a paragon of social progress either.

Also, #ImWithHer so… if ya’ll non-reading retweeters are thinkin’ that Trump = Kiefer, NO. Not at all. Kiefer is an excellent actor, the character he plays is the anti-Trump, and maybe you should freaking read what you retweet.