Best of 2014: Characters

When I look back at this year in television, what I most want to remember is how it affected me. I want to know what I loved or what impressed me and why and that’s exactly what this list and the ones that will be coming out over the next couple weeks set out to document. There is no formula for choosing what went on the list. Nothing here is objective, nor would I want it to be even it were somehow possible to objectively quantify an opinion. It will not look like anyone else’s list, though there will undoubtedly be similarities, and that’s a good thing. So enjoy my picks for my favorite/the best in television of 2014 according to me and please share yours in the comments below.

In any given year, there are a lot of characters I love. I admittedly have a tendency to love the emotionally guarded woman who is learning how to open herself up to love and happiness and this is the year many of those women did that in amazing ways. It was great year for so many of my favorites and the actors who brought them to life. There may have been better, more interesting, or more original characters on TV (if one can quantify characters in that way) but these are the 10 who touched my heart the most.

Kelly Severide (Chicago Fire) Kelly has always been one of my favorite characters but this year (this fall, in particular) has made me love him even more. Thanks to my years of TV watching, I had a horrible suspicion that both Severide and Shay wouldn’t make it out of the events of the s2 finale alive. Their friendship has been one of my favorite things about the show since it started and I was devastated to learn that my suspicions were correct. I watched him grieve for his best friend and turn into kind of a disaster for a few weeks only to wind up marrying a girl in Vegas who he barely knew and managing to turn it into something positive. He’s hurt and grown and has come out stronger. He and Casey have finally gotten their friendship back to where it should be and I have a feeling he’ll continue to be Casey’s support system through his problems with Dawson. If I can’t have his friendship was Shay on the show, I’ll take his friendship with Casey as a backup.

Abbie Mills (Sleepy Hollow) Sleepy Hollow may have fallen apart a bit in season 2 but Abbie Mills is still the best part of the show. She remains fiercely dedicated to her role as Witness, whatever that may entail. Need someone to stay behind in Purgatory so Katrina can do the magic needed to stop an Apocalypse? Abbie volunteers. Katrina needs a second person to help her do magic? Abbie steps up. Sheriff Corbin’s son needs saving? Abbie never gives up on him. She is loyal and true and a fighter and that’s why I love her. The episode where she and Jenny were briefly reunited with their mother and able to learn more about their family’s history was easily the best of the season because the focus was where it should be – on this incredible character and her role in fighting this war.

Emma Swan (Once Upon a Time) What a year it has been for her as a character and all of us as fans. We got more backstory about her heartbreaking past, we saw her be afraid and fall back on her instinct to run away and survive on her own, we saw her open herself up and find not only a home with her son and parents, but a dashing pirate who loves her, and a new friend who understands her. She’s growing and trying to be her best self and letting people help her along the way. It has been so incredibly rewarding to watch her allow herself to be vulnerable, especially as someone who struggles with that herself, and I can’t wait to see her continued growth and relationships with everyone in her life in 2015.

Continue reading Best of 2014: Characters

Why You Should Be Watching Jane the Virgin

When the CW announced their fall line-up in May, I thought Jane the Virgin sounded and looked terrible. I had absolutely no intention of watching until reviews started coming in. While not the definitive word on what I will like, critics whose opinions I have historically agreed with started raving about how good this show was. That got me watching the pilot last week. Less than halfway through the pilot, I was hooked and by the time the episode ended, I was ready to fast-forward a week and watch the next episode immediately. It is unexpectedly one of my favorite new shows of the year and one that should really have a larger audience than it does, especially now that it has been picked up a full season. So I’ve put together a list of reasons why this show is worth a look in the hopes that it will inspire more people to check it out.

One of the best things going for this show is the gem it found in its lead actress, Gina Rodriguez. As Jane, she exudes this warm energy that draws you to the character and backs that energy up with some grit and determination. Jane is strong and smart and proud of who she is. Off-screen, Rodriguez shows the same level of intelligence and understanding of what a powerful role this is. Until more shows embrace diversity in their lead roles, those lead actresses (and actors) of color will have to answer questions about their race and how it has affected the roles they have been offered and ultimately chosen and Rodriguez has handled all of those questions beautifully. She understands that this role will give young Latina women in the future a chance to see themselves on TV and what that means for them and she relishes that opportunity. She’s unafraid to stand up for herself and take roles that are meaningful to her, even if it means a lower-profile career. She refuses to simply play a stereotype and I think that is something to be commended.

Continue reading Why You Should Be Watching Jane the Virgin

Sleepy Hollow and Me: My Katrina Problem

Typically, when I’m watching TV, I’m not overly concerned with the story the creators are trying to tell and instead choose focus on the story I’m getting out of it. In many cases, I don’t need to think about it because my interpretations match the creator’s vision. In others, I recognize that my interpretation differs wildly and only occasionally get disgruntled when something reads drastically wrong to me.

Last night, however, that’s not what happened with Sleepy Hollow. I think I spent most of the episode contemplating what story they are telling with Katrina. After 17 episodes, I still don’t care about her as a character at all and it’s starting to become a problem with the way I’m watching the show. I want to understand more about her so I can feel something about her relationship with Ichabod and its potential dissolution but every time I think we’ll learn more, I’m left unsatisfied. I want to feel that undying love between her and Ichabod because quite honestly, I don’t see it. I hear about it a lot. There’s a lot of referring to Ichabod as “my love” and references to them as husband and wife and some concern about her well-being on Ichabod’s part. But I don’t feel it and that’s rare for me.

It is possible that I’m not remembering a key detail from the first season that would answer my questions for me. What made Katrina choose Ichabod over Abraham (other than the fact that she didn’t seem to like Abraham very much)? What drew Ichabod to her, even knowing she was promised to his best friend? I know Ichabod is a nice guy and he and Katrina seemed to be friendly with each other but I need more than that. I also want to know when in the timeline of their relationship Katrina learned of Ichabod’s role as a Witness. That starts veering a little far into questioning the plot, which is probably best not done with this show, but I’m still curious.

Without understanding their relationship when it was good, I struggle to care about the problems they are having. I understand Ichabod’s frustration over Katrina’s continued secrets but because I don’t feel that connection between them, I don’t get a proper sense of the emotional toil this will have on Ichabod. Even his declaration to Abbie that their duty to each other needed to come first fell flat to me, because based on his actions, it already was.

I understand that he and Abbie are both Witnesses and as such, share a special bond. I’ve written about how much I enjoy their relationship in the past and as someone who wants them to be together in a romantic sense sometime in the future, I have loved what we have gotten between them so far this season. But I am having trouble rectifying their relationship with the epic love that Ichabod and Katrina are supposed to share, especially since I don’t see it. I don’t think Ichabod or Abbie would physically cheat on his marriage with Katrina, it would be out of character for them. But I see far more love, trust, respect and understanding in their relationship than I do with Ichabod and Katrina’s.

So I just want to know what the writers intend for her. Are they just going to continue telling us about their love without filling us in on their history? Will we ever get more of Katrina’s internal motivations? Are we supposed to root for Ichabod and Katrina to make up and live happily ever after fighting the impending apocalypse alongside Abbie or should we be just waiting for their inevitable downfall?

I wouldn’t normally be bothered by the creators’ intentions but for some reason I am. I feel like as a viewer, I being told to care and be emotionally invested in a character and relationship that they’ve given me no basis for. This show has never been subtle, but in most other ways, they get the relationship aspects just right so in this case, I’d like to be on the same page as them.

Make Katrina good, make her evil, make her morally grey. Just make her something. Stop telling me who she is and show me. Let me into her internal world, no matter what lies there.

Episode of the Week: 10/5-10/11

This week on TV, Jake and Terry bonded over Terry’s vasectomy, Bob’s Burgers created a musical theater mashup of the movies Die Hard and Working Girl, the lawyers of Florrick Agos went through Christian arbitration with a client on The Good Wife, Emma and Elsa bonded on Once Upon a Time, Castle got more questions than answers about his disappearance on Castle, Ichabod and Abbie met a potential new ally on Sleepy Hollow, Casey and Dawson put off their wedding on Chicago Fire, Selfie improved over its pilot episode, The Mindy Project made uncomfortable more than it made me laugh, we were introduced to Barry Allen and his alter ego on The Flash, Dre realized that his son did have a culture of his own, even if it wasn’t the one he expected on Black-ish, I disliked Luke more than usual on Nashville, Fitz finally learned Abby’s name on Scandal, Wes convinced Annalise to take Rebecca’s case on How to Get Away with Murder, Zeke had heart surgery on Parenthood and Cristela reviewed with a lot of potential.

There was a lot to love on TV this week. Terry high on pain medication made me laugh a lot on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The Good Wife continued it’s streak of amazing episodes, Emma and Elsa bonding was everything I could want on Once Upon a Time, and I had a lot of feelings about Beckett and her choice to trust Castle. Ultimately though, it was a new show that impressed me the most.

The pilot of The Flash was the most fun hour of TV I watched all week. It had plenty of serious moments and troubles for Barry and the rest of the cast but at it’s core, it’s about a geeky guy who woke up with super powers and now wants to save to save the world because he has a good heart. His mother’s murder and father’s false imprisonment is part of his past but they are not his defining characteristics. Even as a young kid before the tragedy in his life, he wanted to help people and would stand up to others against bullies. So when he finds out that there are people like him with powers that they are using to do bad things, he knows he needs to fight them.

It’s a lighter superhero show than DC Comics’ other offerings (Gotham and Arrow) and that’s a good thing. Sometimes I just want a show about good people doing good things for others. Barry will surely fail at times, both as himself and as The Flash. Mistakes will be made and bad guys will get away or he’ll hurt someone he cares about. He’ll struggle to learn that even as a metahuman, he still struggles with normal human flaws and problems. But he will continue to fight and protect Central City from those who would terrorize it. He’ll be the guy at the end of the pilot who tells his imprisoned father how proud he is to be his son. The guy who could believe in the impossible long before he became the impossible. He’ll be a guy we’d want to root for, even if he wasn’t a superhero.

I am excited to see what this season brings. It’s going to be an hour of TV that I think I will greatly enjoy watching each week and that will make me happy.

What episode would you choose as your Episode of the Week?

Episode of the Week: 9/21-9/27

Now that TV season is fully underway, it’s time for the return of my Episode of the Week posts! I’ve taken the slightly easier option of choosing the episode that most deserves to be spotlighted this week, whether I thought it was the best or it did a good job being creative and unique.

This week, my TV world was a busy one for the first time since May. I was introduced to Elizabeth McCord on Madam Secretary, worried about Cary being in prison on The Good Wife, rejoiced over the return of Sleepy Hollow, met the young Bruce Wayne on Gotham, was disillusioned with the start of s8 of The Big Bang Theory, fell in love with Schmidt again on New Girl, loved the way Mindy takes care of Danny on The Mindy Project, sobbed over the loss of Shay and the beautiful friendships between her, Severide, and Gabby on Chicago Fire, had my heart broken by Juliette on Nashville, met the Johnson family on the very funny Black-ish, cheered for Olivia’s return while grieving with Mellie on Scandal, learned How to Get Away with Murder, cried over the loss of Sweets on Bones, and began the final season of Parenthood.

There was a lot of TV I really enjoyed this week. The Good Wife is off to what looks to be a very exciting season and Eli Gold and his daughter are a wonderful treat. The Mindy Project continues to be fantastic at navigating Danny and Mindy’s relationship and premieres were strong this week. But nothing on TV thrilled me as much this week as the return of Sleepy Hollow.

It’s been a long wait for Sleepyheads (which is an adorable fan group name, btw). The s1 finale aired in January with basically all the main characters in some sort of trouble or danger. Irving was in jail, Jenny was in a car accident and we were uncertain of her fate, Katrina was taken prisoner by the Headless Horseman, Ichabod had been buried alive by his son (the 2nd Horseman of the Apocalypse), and Abbie was trapped in Purgatory. Many of these problems were resolved in the second season opener and while it was appreciated, it wasn’t what made the episode great.

I have said it many times and I will continue to say it as long as the show runs. This crazy show, with it’s blend of historical figures and Biblical end-of-times mythology, probably shouldn’t work. The plotting isn’t always tightly controlled and things can sometimes be a little too convenient, but none of that matters. The characters are what make this show a joy to watch. It’s the surprise party that scares Ichabod, and the way Ichabod and Abby hugged when they were partially reunited in Moloch’s lair, and Jenny and Ichabod trading places in the ambulance because he didn’t know how to put it in reverse that make this show work.

The chemistry between Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie is as usual, nothing short of spectacular. They sell Ichabod and Abbie’s happiness at being reunited (more than once) and really make you feel how important these characters are to each other. There is an easiness and comfort that pours out of every scene they share and even if that connection was a little rushed plot-wise last season, it works because of everything Mison and Beharie put into it.

I am also really looking forward to seeing Jenny join the team next season and be a bigger part of things. Lyndie Greenwood works so well with both Mison and Beharie and it makes her character seem like such a natural fit with the team. I want more moments between the sisters as they heal and build a new relationship moving forward and I need more of Ichabod calling her “Miss Jenny” and seeing a friendship develop there.

What was your favorite episode during this first full week of TV?

New Fall Shows: What Are You Watching?

It’s officially September and that means new network TV and lots of it. Below are the new shows with air dates, trailers and descriptions (along with links to the pilots on Hulu if applicable). If you already know what you want to see, skip to after the list for my take on this year’s new shows and head to the comments to share what new shows you’ll be trying out!

September 17th

Red Band Society (FOX) Trailer/Description

September 21st

Madam Secretary (CBS) Trailer/Description

September 22nd

Gotham (FOX) Trailer/Description

Scorpion (CBS) Trailer/Description

September 23rd

Forever (ABC) Trailer/Description/Pilot

NCIS: New Orleans (CBS) Trailer/Description

September 24th

The Mysteries of Laura (NBC) Trailer/Description

Black-ish (ABC) Trailer/Description

September 25th

How to Get Away with Murder (ABC) Trailer/Description

September 30th

Selfie (ABC) Trailer/Description/Pilot

Manhattan Love Story (ABC) Trailer/Description

Continue reading New Fall Shows: What Are You Watching?

Badass Women and the Shows that Celebrate Them

I finally got a chance to watch the Badass Women panel from the weekend and like many others, I absolutely loved it. The women on the panel are all fabulous, both on screen and off. I love that a panel like that exists because it means that more people are taking an interest in the way women are portrayed on TV and in the movies. I love that sexism and racism in the entertainment industry can be discussed in two very popular panels during Comic Con. What I loved most of all is that it celebrates so many different ways to be strong. Sansa Stark is very different from Sarah Walker and Donna Meagle but all three are equally badass. I was so inspired after finishing the panel that I wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate shows that focus on all types of female strength. Many of these I have already discussed this month (I may have a slightly obvious preference in my TV) and I would love to hear your thoughts on strong female characters and the shows that portray them.

Sex and the City This show is fantastic about showcasing different types of women and the relationships between them. The show never demonized any of the women for their beliefs or actions or tried to elevate one above the rest. Charlotte wasn’t the uptight prude that everyone hated, Samantha wasn’t the slut that everyone secretly talked about behind her back, Miranda wasn’t the cynical, career-driven bitch, and Carrie wasn’t the slightly naive one who made bad choices. They were all fully formed women and appreciated the differences in each other and that made it truly special. 

Gilmore Girls This is my go-to show for their depiction of a strong women whose strength had nothing to do with physical abilities and everything to do with dedication and drive. Lorelai was emotional, occasionally irrational, independent and determined. She got to be sensitive and competent and while that might not seem like as big of a deal now, it was a big deal in 2000 to my teenage self and it’s still a portrayal I deeply love. The show also featured a myriad of other fantastic women, from Miss Patty to Emily Gilmore, who all had different approaches to life but who each had something we could learn from them. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse I’m just going to lump all of Joss’s shows together because he is known for the strength of his female characters. Unlike Gilmore Girls and Sex and the City, many of the characters on his shows are also physically strong. Buffy is a vampire slayer and therefore good in a fight. Faith, Zoe, and Echo are also characters who aren’t to be messed with because they are capable of kicking your ass in a fight. But there are also characters like Willow, Kaylee and Fred, whose strength comes from other areas. What is most remarkable is that all of the characters, regardless of their variety of strength, aren’t only defined by it. Buffy is still a regular teenage girl. She has crushes, she makes bad romantic choices, and she just wants to go to college with her best friend. Kaylee is a sweetheart and emotionally vulnerable but is also a highly gifted mechanic. They are all well-rounded and full characters, not stereotypes that can easily be placed into a box. 

Battlestar Galactica I love that this show can contain all of the awesomeness that is Kara Thrace, Laura Roslin, and Six. All equally strong yet all diverse. Kara’s approach to her femininity isn’t the same as Six’s approach. Roslin’s strength of conviction and leadership skills aren’t the same as Kara’s physical abilities or her confidence. Then there are the rest of the women who fall somewhere in between these divergent characters to occupy a space that is all their own. 

Once Upon a Time Like Jennifer Morrison said, this show is a great one for female characters. All are allowed their own identity and a space to call their own. They don’t need to be alike and they don’t all need to occupy traditionally female narratives at all times while not needing to occupy a more masculine narrative in order to be strong. There is strength in their vulnerability. There is strength in Snow’s continued hope. There is strength in the protectiveness that come’s from Red’s wolf side. There is strength in Regina’s growth as she opens herself up to others. There is strength in the forgiveness that has had to come as characters have hurt each other, whether intentional or not.

I want diverse examples of women on TV. I want young girls to be able to watch a show full of female characters and be able to find a character or even a combination of characters who have traits they can identify with. I want all women to feel like there isn’t a wrong way to be a strong woman. Physical strength isn’t a necessity, but it’s ok if you do have that. Women don’t have to express their emotional strength by being kind and nurturing, but it’s ok if that’s how you choose to be. We don’t have to be one extreme of the gender role spectrum, we’re allowed to occupy multiple roles at different times and even at the same time. Our identity is what we make it and our strength comes from being honest about who we are and being brave enough to share that with the world. That’s what I want when I say I want strong female characters on TV and that’s what was represented by this fantastic panel.

What shows do you love for their portrayal of female characters? 

Even More TV Options: Non-US-Made Shows

It is truly a great time for television. While most of the focus of this version of the Golden Age of Television (and all of the previous versions) has been US-centric, there is an increasing interest in non-US made TV. So today we are going to look at some of the best TV made outside of the US.  

British TV has always been slightly more accessible to Americans through PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre, but it’s really become popular thanks to Downton Abbey and Sherlock. BBC America has also brought over shows like Doctor Who and Top Gear and introduced them to a larger American audience.

Similarly, Broadchurch got so much positive attention for its first season that it is now being remade by FOX (which will hopefully introduce people to the original). Despite the common language, it’s not too uncommon for British shows to be remade in America. Sometimes, it is a horrible failure (see The Inbetweeners, Coupling, and Skins). Other times, the show comes into it’s own and departs enough to find a voice to appeal to its new audience (The Office, Shameless, and Queer as Folk).

My personal picks for favorite British shows are a little less known. First is an older comedy entitled Waiting for God. It takes place in a retirement home and revolves around the lives of Diana and Tom, two residents who have very different ways of seeing the world but find a solid friend in the other.

Second is a more recent comedy entitled Miranda, after its star and creator Miranda Hart. Miranda is the very tall, socially awkward owner of a joke shop (which she runs with the help of her best friend). Miranda is a bit eccentric and clumsy but a good person and she speaks to the part of us all that doesn’t quite feel like an adult yet.

Finally, there is Merlin, by far the best known of my favorites and as far as I am aware, the only one that also aired in America. Merlin tells the story of the famous magician and Prince (later King) Arthur as young adults. It is full of plot holes and characterizations that go a little astray, but when they get the relationships on the show right, they get them really right. The friendship between Merlin and Arthur is fantastic, as I have mentioned, as is the relationship between Merlin and Lancelot and the other Knights of the Round Table.

Recently, American audiences have been introduced to remakes of shows made in other parts of the world. In the case of the French show Les Revenants (The Returned), the original was aired with subtitles on SundanceTV and is in the process of being remade for A&E.

The Danish/Swedish show Broen/Bron (The Bridge) never aired on TV in America before its remake but is now available on Hulu Plus. It has also been made into the British/French show The Tunnel. Each features a different set of border relations, which has allowed the adaptations to be more familiar in their new country.

Finally, the German show Borgen has received a lot of positive critical attention in America. It only airs on LinkTV, but the episodes are available online for two weeks after their broadcast. The network seems to cycle through the show, starting back at season 1 when they finish season 3. The first season just started again and I do intend to start watching, so if anyone else wants to join me, I’d love to have more people to discuss it with!

I’m excited by the availability of TV from around the world and look forward to watching the shows I’ve mentioned that I haven’t gotten a chance to start yet. The TV nerd in me wants to see what other countries are doing and look at the differences and similarities to the shows I’ve grown up watching.

What are some of your favorite shows made outside of the US?


Attack of the Feelings: Friday Night Lights

I am most attracted to shows that make me feel things. Well-thought out plots are good and an interesting premise certainly helps, but I want my TV to make me have some sort of emotional reaction. I want to be connected to the characters and their lives and invested in their present and future.

One of the show runners most known for making his viewers feel things (and cry a lot) is Jason Katims. He builds such believable characters and worlds and draws the viewer into those lives and worlds. Today I’ll be focusing on one of the shows he is best known for – Friday Night Lights.

I never expected to love Friday Night Lights as much as I do. I have never been a big fan of sports and this is a show that is at least partly about a football team and their season. That being said, it was the football game that made me cry during the very first episode and a football team that made me cry during the first season finale. What this show does better than nearly any other that I’ve watched is create a very detailed world and dropped the viewer into it. I went to a small high school and visited many towns much smaller than Dillon during my four years of high school cheerleading. The towns weren’t even big enough to have football teams, so basketball was the sport of choice. On game days, those bleachers were full of people who weren’t so dissimilar from the fans of Dillon. They were passionate and invested in their high school teams and a win meant a lot. So the portrayal of the town’s relationship to the team felt right. It felt real.

The same can be said of the moment in the pilot when Jason Street was injured. Fortunately, no one was ever too seriously injured during any of the games I cheered for. But at the moment when the star of our girl’s basketball team tore her ACL, the gym felt an awful lot like the stadium in Dillon felt. It’s a hard feeling to put into words but it’s a collective sense of worry and sadness that impacts everyone, regardless of what team they are on or are there to support. Once again, the emotion produced by the show felt right.

In addition to the strong sense of place, Friday Night Lights had a lot of well-rounded, fully-developed characters. The writing for them was strong but what has impressed me is the freedom the actors had with their characters. Scene blocking was minimal and so long as the overall plot wasn’t hindered, they were encouraged to change lines to better fit the characters if necessary. It resulted in a group of talented actors who knew and were comfortable in their roles and it showed on screen.

It gave us characters like Coach and Mrs. Taylor, Matt Saracen, Tim Riggins, and Tyra Collette. Characters we could look up to and invest in. Characters who we might like to know in real life. Characters that grew and changed while never losing what made them great. It gave us characters who didn’t always do the right thing. Who weren’t always very good people. Who hurt the people around them. But they were real. It gave us characters like Buddy Garrity, who started out very unlikeable, became more understandable as we learned more about him and as he was forced to grow throughout the series, we were forced to reevaluate our initial impression of him.  No one was perfect, everyone made mistakes. But they were never made to be unredeemable by those mistakes. They could still be characters we loved and cheered for. They were always characters we wanted to see happy.

What show(s) make you feel deeply about the characters and their fictional universe? What show will always find a way to make you cry both happy and sad tears?

The Flaws of Fictional Characters and Personal Healing: My Cristina Yang Story

No one likes to watch perfect characters. They are unrealistic, can be hard to relate to, and just aren’t as interesting. It’s in the flaws that we get to understand the whole of the person. Sometimes these flaws are of a sort that could be turned into strengths, depending on how you look at them. Other times, they are things that make characters more unpleasant to the viewer or something the character struggles with that makes their life in-universe more difficult. These flaws don’t prevent us from liking a character and sometimes these flaws make them all the more relatable as we see our own struggles reflected in them.

For me, the character who I love, flaws and all (and maybe especially for her flaws), is Cristina Yang from Grey’s Anatomy. I admire her strengths and the way she uses things that can be perceived as flaws (like her competitiveness) as a strength to accomplish her goals. But it’s her stubbornness, guardedness, and desire to control the environment around her that draws me toward her because I understand that. It’s where she is the most relatable to me.

I just started watching Grey’s last month, so I apologize that all the examples I’m going to be using are 8-10 years old since I’m only near the end of the second season. It leaves a lot of room for future characterizations and growth but just in these two seasons, Cristina has become one of my favorite characters of all time.

Continue reading The Flaws of Fictional Characters and Personal Healing: My Cristina Yang Story