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Television

Angel and Buffy

I’ve just rushed through the final series of Buffy and some of the episodes in the final series of Angel, because they leave Amazon Prime in a few days.

I’m reminded about how much I liked the final series of Buffy, despite popular opinion. Yes the potential slayers were mostly dull and cannon fodder, like most viewers I wished Kennedy would die early, and Buffy made just a few too many speeches. But Faith was back, Principal Wood was hot, and it was a great ending. There were also some really funny bits (Buffy and the bazooka, Anya in general) and some genuinely touching moments (Xander’s extraordinary talk with Dawn).

But I’m also reminded of how much I didn’t buy into the Buffy and Spike thing. I really enjoyed the episode in Season 4 where Willow cast a spell on them and they were getting married. And I suppose I could understand the self-loathing, no-strings sex. But the romance? To me it always felt like Spike just wore her down, professing his love so much she felt obligated to reciprocate. I don’t really believe in ‘falling’ for someone just because they’re in love with you: sounds a bit too much like settling. I’m not saying I wanted her to end up with Angel, but at least that felt equal: they liked each other and fell for each other at the same time (no matter what happened after).

I wish I could say I enjoyed the final season of Angel. The standout episode is Smile Time (where Angel is turned into a puppet), but mostly it felt like a drag. One in which they killed off their two lead females, replaced their great female antagonist with one no-one cared for, at least brought Harmony back for some comic relief; and brought more men into the picture. Don’t get me wrong: I love all the male leads, and ‘Spike and Angel’ was great. But I really missed Cordelia, and killing Fred was just cruel. To be fair, Angel started going off the rails when Connor came into it, but I felt like it could’ve been recovered. Admittedly more difficult after Season 4, but not impossible.

Part of me wonders if the male-female ratio was in some way to counteract all the women in the Buffy TV finale, but most of them didn’t speak; and they actually increased the number of men (5: Xander, Giles, Spike, Andrew, Wood) so it compared more favourably to the women (6: Buffy, Willow, Dawn, Anya, Faith, ugh Kennedy and other non-speaking potentials) compared to earlier series. And they killed Anya.

All that being said, I still intend to buy the comic books and continue to follow the Buffyverse.

Television

Community: the TV Show

OK, OK, so I’m late to the party. But what a freaking awesome show! Seasons 1-5 leave Amazon Prime in 14 days. I started watching when there was 21 days left. I’m already on Season 5, and I’ve had to force myself to stop watching several times! I’m so glad I decided to watch it before it left Prime, otherwise I probably wouldn’t have bothered.

Community-NBC-TV-Show

I would go as far as to say this is now my second favourite TV show of all time.

  1. Red Dwarf
  2. Community
  3. Frasier
  4. Gilmore Girls
  5. Buffy and Angel
  6. Supernatural
  7. The Wire
  8. Veronica Mars
  9. The Good Wife
  10. Big Bang Theory
  11. House
  12. Southland
  13. Nurse Jackie

I can’t imagine anything knocking Red Dwarf from the top spot, and Community is deservedly #2, but the rest of the order isn’t set in stone. There’s so much crap on TV, I tend to watch the same shows over and over, and it can take me a while to catch on to something good. So there’s quite a few shows I want to watch that I haven’t yet (some of which have already finished), like Modern Family, Arrested Development, Oz, Friday Night Lights, Orange is the New Black. I’ve also heard good things about Sleepy Hollow and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

But back to Community. I love it. I love how close the cast is and how intense the fans are. I love the movie parodies, tropes, insane storylines, running jokes. I think I might be addicted to it. I’m watching interviews, conventions and outtakes on YouTube when I’m not watching the episodes. I’ve found themed jewellery and furnishings I want to buy. I want to watch the episodes again and again so I can quote lines. I want to get a new pet so I can name it after one of the characters.

But I can’t imagine any of my friends being into it, which is no great surprise (I am the oddball) but is a shame. I guess I’ll just have to carry on being weird by myself. Or find some friends who do watch it.

I’m hoping that when it finishes (inevitably after its 6th season) someone will create a new show that brings this cast back together.

Television

3 Programmes to Watch on Thursday Nights

Thursday night is TV night. The Good Wife, Nashville, Southland. I know Southland finished ages ago, but I’m behind. And going to be gutted when it comes to an end.

I love The Good Wife. It’s really well written with great story lines, it’s funny, serious, thought-provoking, and I love how it’s so current, e.g. Anonymous, Bitcoin, etc. It also has the rather lovely Matt Czuchry, but not quite enough of him right now. And Archie Panjabi is brilliant: everyone wants to be Kalinda!

I’m hoping Alicia and Carey’s firm will get on firmer footing soon, and it would be great to see them facing anyone other than ‘LG’ (what a pretentious name change!). And great to see Nathan Lane back in.

But one storyline I never liked and really wish they would get rid of is the Alicia and Will romance. I didn’t like it when they were having the affair, I didn’t like it last season when the end-of-season cliffhanger could have been Alicia inviting Will to her apartment. And I don’t like all the flashbacks in Season 5. It’s probably because I don’t particularly like Will’s character, but I just wish they’d lay off.

Unfortunately I’ve just accidentally ‘spoliered’ myself and I think anyone in the US knows this isn’t something that will bother me for much longer.

Nashville is all about the women, but it has some very hot men in it too, like Sam Palladio and Chip Esten. I’m enjoying the mix of characters, from the long-standing queen to the new young star, to the ones trying to make it. And they have such a range of sounds. I’ve never been one for country music, but I like a lot of what they play. I can imagine it’s going to do a lot for Nashville, especially as it’s filmed there.

I really like the show, but it would be nice if Juliette could grow up a bit. Especially now we have Layla for the bitchy queen: don’t need two of them! Last week’s episode ended with Will standing on a train track and Peggy getting shot. Looking  forward to next week.

And Southland. It’s a bit grittier than I usually like my shows to be, but I enjoy watching it. Everyone is flawed, but often you can understand where they’re coming from even if you don’t agree with them. It’s a real shame that it’s been cancelled after 5 seasons, especially considering the rollercoaster ride it’s had in that time.

But what is it with Southland and its sudden, shocking deaths?! First Nate in Season 3, and now Henry in Season 5. They happen so fast you can’t be sure you really saw them. And apparently the storyline of 5.9 is based on real-life events from 1963.

Last ever episode of Southland next week. So glad there’s internet TV so I can go back over my favourite episodes.

Sociology Television

Sarah Palin is apparently Feminist

Just been reading an article from Jessica Valenti in Newsweek and had to post this. Quote from the article:

In much the same way Obama-supporting feminists were criticized, women who didn’t back Palin were swiftly denounced as hypocrites by those on the right. Rick Santorum called Palin the “Clarence Thomas for feminists,” blasting women who didn’t support her. Janice Shaw Crouse of Concerned Women for America said, “Even feminists—who supposedly promote women’s equality and the so-called ‘women’s rights’ agenda—are questioning a female candidate’s ability to get the job done.” The criticism of women who failed to back Palin even indulged in sexism. Dennis Miller said that women who weren’t behind Palin were simply jealous of the candidate’s sex life, and Time magazine reporter Belinda Luscombe wrote that some women had a “hatred” for Palin simply because she was “too pretty.” (My favorite, however, was Kevin Burke’s argument in National Review that women who didn’t support Palin were suffering from “post-abortion symptoms.”) Palin even managed to divide some feminists. Elaine Lafferty—a former editor of Ms. magazine who had endorsed Clinton but then signed on as a consultant to the McCain campaign—condemned feminist leaders for “sink[ing] this low” and called feminism an “exclusionary club” for not welcoming Palin with open arms.

Or perhaps people didn’t like her because of stuff like this:

Or that an actor knows more than she does about dinosaurs:

I’m not American so this isn’t something that directly affected me. But apparently as women, if we get a female candidate, it is our duty – as women – to support them. No matter how ridiculous that particular woman might be, or how little she knows about politics. If Britney Spears decides she is running for president, all women must vote for her. Quite frankly, if you think that way then you can fuck off. I was too young to really understand the Thatcher years but looking back on it, I don’t much like her. When white men had to choose between Al Gore and George W, were the younger ones told to vote for Al because he is younger than George? Or was it based on their height, build … favourite colour? What about when British men are (likely) to be asked to choose between David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg? Support the same football team perhaps?

I feel I should also note how lovely Katie Couric was about the Sarah Palin interview when she appeared on David Letterman. She could have completed slated her – as most people were doing – but she was very polite.

I do not claim to know everything about feminism. In fact, the more I read about people’s issues with feminism, the more I realise how much I have to learn. But the version (or brand or label or whatever) of feminism that I adhere to is about social justice. Not something I associate Sarah Palin with.

Television

Reality TV and Talent Shows

Ironic really, since reality TV shows are rarely set in a real life situation, and talent shows revel in showing untalented acts. I’ve always had an issue with these shows, but it’s all come to a head this week. Not only because of what happened to Susan Boyle, but also because of the media coverage.

I was (unfortunately) listening to Steve Wright the other day when his co-host mentioned that BB was back, then it’ll be X-Factor and Strictly again. He said it was barely worth going out. I’ve lost count of the amount of people who have either been talking about BGT or ask if I watch it. I felt like the only person on Facebook who wasn’t watching the new series of the Apprentice.

I just don’t get it. Have our lives really come down to watching other people’s fake real lives through our TV screens? Doesn’t anyone have any hobbies anymore? Or taste for that matter?

There is an Andy Warhol quote: “I believe that in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.” Apparently Andy was a prophet. TV certainly seems to have gone that way, giving everyone their 15 minutes, either because their talented, or so lacking in talent that it’s funny. I think it all started with The Gong Show. And rather ironically, one of my favourite films is about the original host, Chuck Barris.

The world is filled with people who seem to think that they have some right to be famous, and by hook or by crook, they will be famous. The main ambition of young children today is to be a celebrity, for any reason.

Doesn’t anyone want to make a difference anymore? Isn’t anyone content with a leading a quiet life? And what is it about fame that draws everyone in – money? Power? Popularity?

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate or ignore famous people. There are bands and actors that I like and will go on about, and who bring out my shallow-as-a-puddle side while I go on about how hot they are. Some people deserve to be famous because of something defining – Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jnr, Gandhi, Che Guevara, Leon Trotsky, etc. But the obsession with fame baffles me. I won’t get started on the celebrity magazines here – whole different rant!

And the talent shows. Building up people with so little talent just to tear them to shreds on TV. For entertainment. Wow, that’s really something to be proud of. What wonderful human beings we are. Or is that just human nature? If so we might need a new definition of ‘humane’.

And the media coverage. Susan Boyle had a breakdown. It was the hot topic on the news all day. On the same day that a passenger aircraft went missing over the Atlantic! What about soldiers and civilians being killed in wars around the world? Or famine? Or any sort of politics (except expenses)? What about anything that involves more than one person having a breakdown due to a media-induced frenzy, all because she could sing?

Sociology Television

Coleen’s Real Women

It wasn’t my choice: I was forced to watch.

So essentially she gets a bunch of not-skinny girls with slight imperfections, dolls them up with fancy hair and make-up and in nice clothes, and sends them off to photo shoots. They then compete against professional models for contracts.

My first issue is with the “real”. I’d be interested to find out if these girls are photoshopped in post production. And the idea of doing them up and sending them to a photo shoot doesn’t seem too real. So I’m not too sure what she’s challenging. Just the idea that “fat girls” can’t be models? Surely we already have that with plus-size models?

While she may feel she’s challenging the modelling industry, she isn’t really going far enough. She is still working well within its usual confines. Perhaps the changes I want to see need some sort of alliance between like-minded folk within the industry who decide that the whole lot needs an overhaul, and set new ‘best practice’ guidelines or ‘minimum standards’ for themselves.

For me the bigger issue is these unrealistic targets that are aimed at us through marketing. Every photo in every campaign is done with cleverly thought out lighting, exposure and camera angles. Models are nipped and tucked in post production until the end result looks nothing like the real person.

Then we we’ve got the whole ‘size zero’ models and celebrities in general being pushed to get thinner and thinner, until we end up with the lollipop heads like Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff, and so on. So girls crash diet because apparently anything bigger than a size 8 (UK) is enormous, and curves are just plain wrong. They have a crappy self-image because they’re aspiring to unreal, unrealistic images of girls that have been made up for hours and at great expense.

And the weird thing is, these models are gorgeous anyway. They’d look even better with a bit of meat on their bones. Would it be so terrible to see them in a more natural way? I’m not saying no make-up or hair-styling whatsoever, but something a bit more everyday.