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Best of 2015: Relationships

Now that I’ve shared some of my favorite individual characters of 2015, it’s time to move on to some of my favorite relationships. Some people watch TV for the plot of a show. I watch for the relationships. Whether that relationship is romantic, platonic, familial or even antagonistic, it’s these relationships that get me invested and keep me coming back for more.

Bellamy and Clarke (The 100) Over the course of two seasons, the relationship between Bellamy and Clarke has grown from enemies to co-leaders to friends. While much of their development happened prior to this year and their time on-screen together was limited, the strength of their bond shone through the distance. We saw the unshakable belief that they would save their people and that the other could do the impossible. We saw the trust they have in each other. We saw Clarke’s concern for Bellamy. We saw that Bellamy would do anything to protect Clarke. We saw them make an awful decision to save their people. We saw them say goodbye. It was basically a year of pain for these two but until the end, they had each other. It has been each of them doing what was best for their people, confident in the knowledge that the other would do the same. Their goodbye may have been sad but in it, you see exactly what these two are to each other. You see the security and the teamwork and the history and the love. That love may not be romantic yet (or ever) but that doesn’t diminish its strength. Bellamy is Clarke’s home and she is his.

Abbi and Ilana (Broad City) I can never get enough of female friendships on TV and while they may not be the most conventional of people, the love they have for each other resonates deeply with me. Thanks in part to Ilana Glazer’s and Abbi Jacobson’s off-screen friendship, the easy dynamic of their on-screen counterparts suggests a long history together. These two accept each other exactly as they are. They have clearly seen each other at their best and worst and at the end of the day, there really isn’t anyone they’d rather spend time with. Ilana is clearly the less inhibited of the two and while that could scare some people away, Abbi appreciates that about her. Sometimes you just need to call your best friend when the guy you’ve been crushing on forever wants you to peg him and sometimes the best response that friend can give is to literally dance in excitement for you. Ilana wants Abbi to experience as much of life as she possibly can and she knows Abbi wants that to but isn’t always brave enough to go for it. She pushes her just far enough outside her comfort zone to try new things all while offering someone supportive to fall back on in case it doesn’t work out. They can be crazy and ridiculous but but they love each other and support each other and that’s what lifelong friends do.

Joe and Barry (The Flash) Of the many wonderful relationships shown on the show, this one continues to be so much of its emotional core. While they aren’t biologically related to each other, these two are father and son. Joe has never tried to diminish Barry’s relationship with his biological father but it’s been clear since episode one that they consider each other family. As his adoptive father, Joe wants what is best for Barry. This was never more clear than their discussion in the season one finale “Fast Enough”. Joe loved Barry enough to give him a chance to grow up with his biological parents, even if it meant losing all the memories and love these two had built. Barry may have missed his parents growing up but all it took was the torn expression on his face to make it clear that this wasn’t an easy decision. It was Joe who got through to Barry as a child to tell him it was OK to grieve and it’s been Joe supporting and loving Barry through his experiences as a superhero. Joe now knows that he does have a biological son but the watch he gave Barry is a reminder that he’s also his son, even if it’s not by blood.

Will and Hannibal (Hannibal) I want to send all of the awards to Bryan Fuller, Mads Mikkelsen, and Hugh Dancy for bringing this beautiful, destructive, and deeply intimate relationship to life. This friendship gave both Hannibal and Will something they had longed for – recognition of who they were. They saw everything about each other and accepted it all. None of the harm they did to each other ultimately mattered because their intersection forever altered their lives. Since their introduction, their worlds have slowly merged as they’ve rotated around each other until there was little space left between them. Where one is, the other is as well. Drawn together by an inescapable force, these two will never be free of the other. They understand each other in a way that no one else in their lives is capable of and while it was not what you would call a healthy relationship, the power they held over each other was strong. It was strong enough for Will to admit that even after everything Hannibal did to him in season two, he would have run off with him. It was strong enough that even after Will betrayed him (in Hannibal’s mind at least) he made it so that Will would come find him. Hannibal was smart enough to live the rest of his life without being caught but then he would have been without Will and he wasn’t able to live with that. Their relationship is intoxicating to them both and absolutely compelling for the viewers.

Continue reading Best of 2015: Relationships

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TV Thoughts: 2/1-2/7

It must be sweeps because so many of my shows had big episodes this week. We learned the identity of Sin Rostro, Katrina took her first steps toward being evil, Mindy found out that she is pregnant, Donna got married, Fresh Off the Boat premiered and Nashville returned just as crazy as the last 10 minutes of the midseason finale suggested it would. I really enjoyed many of the episodes this week and I hope you all did too.

Monday

  • Jane the Virgin: This week was great for me and Jane the Virgin for two reasons. First, how great was that episode? I love the Sin Rostro reveal and once again, the post-production work on this show has been stellar with the drop of blood falling out of Sin Rostro’s name in the narration. It also featured Jaime Camil’s best work of the season. That death scene was perfect and it led to Jane calling him “Dad” for the first time, which completely warmed my heart. These two have come so incredibly far in a short amount of time and I have really enjoyed watching their relationship grow and continue to deepen. Finally, this episode also was the perfect example of why Jane means so much to me. Her conversation with Rafael about choosing to see the best in people was everything I want more of in television. I want more genuinely good people who want to see the good in others. I want to see people believe in others and support them even if others think they are foolish. I want more people who will sit down and listen to a woman who has caused nothing but problems for them and offer support. I am so grateful that that is the philosophy this show chooses to promote.
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  • This show also meant a lot to be this week because I was able to visit the set of the show, thanks to a very generous friend. We got a tour of the various sets, meet a few of the cast members, and watch a scene film from an upcoming episode. My lips are sealed about future occurrences on the show but what I do want to say about this incredible experience is that the people involved with this show on every level are so kind and enthusiastic about what this show sets out to do. They genuinely love it and the people they work with. It was an honor to meet the cast, who is in fact as lovely as they appear to be, and a true pleasure to have this opportunity. If you like watching good things happen to good characters on TV, then please tune in and support this show. Not only is it a great show on it’s own merits but I want these incredible people to get to work on this show for a long time to come.
  • Sleepy Hollow: I am all for an evil Katrina. It adds something to her character that has been lacking and even if it’s a disaster, at least it’s something for her to do. It’s also a way to reintroduce Henry to the group as a whole as an antagonist. Henry’s clearly there but Team Witness is crippled so long as Katrina continues to fight for him. Now if she’s fighting with him, not only would it make that mother-son relationship more interesting but it will also provide the catalyst needed for Katina and Ichabod to officially realize that their marriage isn’t going to work in the modern world. No matter what they were like it in the past, they haven’t been on the same page since they brought Katrina from Purgatory and they need to recognize that and put them and the audience out of their misery.
  • The Fosters: Now that Parenthood has ended, I appreciate The Fosters even more. I need my weekly dose of family drama full of characters I love. It’s the little moments with this family that make episodes worth it to me. It’s scenes like Stef enthusiastically embracing twerking once Lena demonstrated what it was. It’s scenes like the ending and everyone having fun as a family together in the lake. The plots of the episode are not the interesting parts to me (though I’m not sorry to see Haylee go), it’s these characters and the love they have for each other.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 2/1-2/7

TV Thoughts: 1/11/15-1/17/15

After an exciting start with Golden Globe wins for Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez and Transparent, this week gave us some really strong episodes of television. Not all of them invoked a lot of emotion in me, but the ones that did, really did.

Sunday

  • Looking: It is so nice to have this show back. I would like Patrick to stop making terrible choices and leave Kevin once and for all and realize how incredible Richie is, but I recognize that will take some time. What I do always find interesting about him is his ability to live in denial. His whole sunny, boy-next-door demeanor is predicated by his belief that bad things aren’t happening (and he’s not doing them) if he just refuses to think about them. It fell apart in this episode and I was happy to see him confide in his friends about his affair with Kevin.

Monday

  • Castle: I was concerned about what would happen to the show now that Castle was no longer working with the NYPD. The working relationship between Castle and Beckett has been part of the foundation of the show and has been shown as equally as valued to both of them as their romantic relationship. After seeing this week’s episode, I’m no longer concerned. With Castle continuing to be a P.I., I expect his path will cross with the NYPD at least occasionally and even if it doesn’t, he and Beckett can still discuss his cases over dinner and continue the theory-building dynamic I’ve loved from them. I was also thrilled by the more sexual overtones to this episode. Not because I need Castle and Beckett to constantly be having sex, but because this show always handles that aspect of their relationship so well. It’s part of their lives and it’s one that they enjoy and have fun with. It’s doesn’t seem to require Castle to use his previously-mentioned safeword of “apples” nor is it portrayed as a love-making scene out of a romance novel. It’s something that these two consenting adults who are in a loving relationship do for fun. The romance clearly didn’t die with these two after marriage and it’s nice to see that sort of relationship portrayed.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 1/11/15-1/17/15

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.

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A Celebration of Friendships

So far this month, I have celebrated individual characters and touched a little bit on other types of relationships but I haven’t had much to say about friendships on TV yet. I love seeing all the different ways that friendships are portrayed on TV. I love them in all their forms and amount of emphasis on any given show. Some of the ones I’ve chosen to highlight today can also easily be construed as romantic but as they are non-canon and I am of the strong opinion that the best romances grow out of friendships, I’m including them in the friendship category. In (mostly) no particular order, here are 10 of my favorite friendships on TV, past and present.

Leslie and Ann (Parks and Recreation) It will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever spoken to me that this is my favorite friendship on TV. The bond and love that these two share is so special and genuine. Ann grounds Leslie. She acts as an anchor in times of crisis and shares in her joy in times of happiness. She gives her balance and an outlet for all of her passion and excitement for everything. Leslie believes in Ann. While Leslie is very good at knowing who she is and what she wants, it’s something Ann has been working on since the show began. By the sixth season, she had figured out something to make her happy and then pursued that idea to completion despite negative opinions and setbacks, just like Leslie would have. Like any true friendship, they are there for each other in the big moments (like having a baby or buying a house) and the small (sharing opinions about Jennifer Aniston). They may not be alike but they complement each other and help each other be their best self. Above all, they love each other and know the other one is always just a phone call or text away.

Esposito and Ryan (Castle) There are a lot of really great friendships on Castle but the one between Esposito and Ryan may be my favorite. Once again, these two are very different but there is a loyalty and love between them that can’t be beat. Their friendship got a brilliant showcase in season 6’s “Under Fire” as they tried to encourage each other not to lose hope as they were trapped. The small moments of friendship we get between them are often funny but have an underpinning of trust and respect that you can tell goes back a long way. These two are partners and always will be.

Severide and Shay (Chicago Fire) Like Castle, Chicago Fire has a lot of great friendships. The friendship between Severide and Shay has been one of the most constant throughout the first two seasons and one of the most endearing. Like most of my favorite friendships, this one is built on trust and loyalty. These two would do anything for each other and they both know it. They may disagree on the other’s choices at times but the rift never stays for long. It’s clear that they have each other’s best interest at heart and want them to be happy and safe. I would have loved for them to be able to start that family together, but maybe it’ll happen sometime in the future. Assuming that they both survive the events of the s2 finale, that is.

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Best of 2013: Returning Shows

Just like it was a great year for new TV, it was a great year for returning TV as well. Several shows did a fantastic job at reinventing themselves and proving their quality in a rapidly-growing TV world.

Breaking Bad I’ll admit, I haven’t seen the last two episodes of Breaking Bad (a problem that should be remedied this week) but the six episodes that preceded them were fantastic. From Walt and Hank’s confrontation in the garage to the scenes in the desert, the season was filled with tension and it brought out the best in all of the actors. While I know that not everyone was thrilled with the finale, there is no denying that the episodes leading up to it were among the best this show had to offer.

Game of Thrones This season brought 3 outstanding moments – the Dracarys scene, Jaime’s confession in the baths, and the Red Wedding. It also brought with it fantastic additions to the cast in Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister, Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell, and Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell. It was full of interesting connections between characters and some truly outstanding performances. This show continues to be one of the best.

The Good Wife I am so impressed with what this show has managed in its fifth season. The decision to split the cast into two different and competing firms has completely revitalized the show. There is a new energy and excitement to it and the quality is higher than ever. It’s hard enough to do even one episode like “Hitting the Fan” in a season but just a few weeks after that aired, we got “The Decision Tree” which was one of the best 100th episodes of a show that I’ve ever seen. For all those who think that nothing on network TV could ever compare to a cable drama, watch this show. It’ll prove you wrong.

Parks and Recreation Parks and Rec started out this year with one of its best episodes – “Two Parties”. More than almost any other, this episode summed up what this show is all about. It’s about good people doing doing things for each other. That theme carried through to “Leslie and Ben” as everyone important to Ben and Leslie pitched in to give them a perfect wedding. It’s been a year of love, friendship, and lots of laughter for this show and it never gets old.

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Episode of the Week: November 17th-23rd

After a one-week break, I am back with my thoughts on the best episode of the week. This week saw the start of Almost Human, the return of Natalie Flores (America Ferrera) on The Good Wife, more heartbreak with the Bartons on Masters of Sex, more fairy-tale family connections on Once Upon a Time, a terrifying episode of Castle, all of my tears over Chicago Fire, Billy Joel songs on Glee, Joel Braverman being uncharacteristically awful on Parenthood, and two hilarious episodes of Parks and Rec.

While many shows could easily have been the best episode of the week, there were two that stood out for me. The first was Parks and Recreation, which I guest-reviewed for Nerdy Girl Notes. It was a great hour to spend with my favorite show and it cracked me up so many times.

The other winner of the week was Chicago Fire. The promos for this week’s episode were intense (and rather misleading) and I knew that I was going to end up crying over it because that’s what I do with this show. Unlike most weeks, the episode revolved around a central case, which on its own would still have made for an engaging hour of television. Where this show really shines, however, is in the character moments. The best example of this came when Chief Boden and Peter were trapped in a building and essentially, prepared to die in an explosion. Despite Chief’s orders, his house refused to give up on him and found a way to rescue them any way. It really brought out the chosen family aspect of the show, which is what drew me in in the first place.

This show has done an amazing job making me care about all of these characters so much. I was proud of Gabby for the good work she did as an EMT, I was proud of Hermann for taking the lieutenant’s exam again, I was proud of Severide for meeting his half-sister, and I was proud of and heartbroken for Casey having to say goodbye to his best friend’s sons (who he had been raising while their mom was in jail). The best shows are the ones that make you feel the most and this show deserves more recognition than it gets for the great job it does.

Finale Review: Chicago Fire

Episode Title: A Hell of a Ride

Renewal Status: Renewed for season two

Pre-finale Thoughts: Chicago Fire is one of my favorite new shows of the year. It’s really a show about the characters and the family they have created together. Yes, they fight fires and do the other occupational things that firefighters do, but that’s not the point of the show. The relationships between the characters are what makes this show worth watching. Leslie Shay and Kelly Severide have my favorite male-female friendship on TV right now and Shay and Dawson’s friendship is another great female friendship. When something goes wrong, the house bands together and it always brings me to tears.

I highly recommend this show to anyone who enjoys chosen families and engaging characters. It’s been a great first season and I was looking forward to seeing what the finale had in store.

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Episode of the Week: March 24 – March 30

Show: Chicago Fire

Episode Title: A Coffin That Small

This week in television, Greg a.k.a. Owen confronted Regina on Once Upon a Time, Peter offered Diane a position as judge while Alicia told Will they had to be over on The Good Wife, Carrie and Walt had a heart-to-heart about his sexuality on The Carrie Diaries, we got an awesome episode about Ryan on Castle, Nick’s father died and Jess was Elvis on New Girl, Anne and Ryan liked the same girl on Go On, Severide and Shay were adorable on Chicago Fire, and we all fell in love with the idea of Skye and Jeff together on Cult

There were four episodes of television that really stood out to me this week. Each episode brought with it strong character development and lots of heart but this week’s honor of episode of the week goes to the show that made me the most emotional – Chicago Fire.

Continue reading Episode of the Week: March 24 – March 30

2013 Television Wish List

Happy New Year everyone! I hope 2013 is filled with lots of happiness and lots of good television for you. Here are some things that I’d like to see happen with television this year on certain shows but also in the industry in general. What’s on your wish list for 2013?

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