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Best of 2016: Shows

There were 455 scripted TV shows that aired in 2016. No one could watch them all and no one save for critics could watch even a significant fraction of them. We have so many options now and a decent portion of them are really solid choices that are capable of exciting and enchanting us. This is always a hard list for me to make because I watch so much TV and I really love most of what I watch. So in addition to my top 10 that I’ve briefly talked about, I included an additional 10 honorable mentions that I would recommend just as enthusiastically as my actual top 10. Especially since when I finalize these lists, I always feel like I have more to say about my dramas so my comedy favorites get a little neglected.

1. Rectify (Sundance) What a beautiful, special show. Over the course of four seasons, this show has treated its characters with such empathy and grace. It has been a slow and thoughtful journey all leading up to the finale and an important realization. Mistakes of the past can’t always be rectified, but we can still grow and move past them. We can become better. We can heal. Daniel’s imprisonment and subsequent release are moments that will shape not only his life, but the lives of each member of his family and the people drawn into their world. But they do not have to define them any longer. There is room for hope and all the messy emotions that accompany it. There is a place for dreams that take you far outside your comfort zone. There is a place for family and love, for forgiveness and understanding. It is a time for rebirth. This show has been one of the most emotionally satisfying I have ever experienced and I will always be grateful that it existed and went out on its own terms.

2. The Americans (FX) This show just keeps getting better as the seasons go on. It’s in the act of maintaining the tension and the emotional release that I find the show most impressive and it did that better than ever this year. After years of service with little break, the Jennings finally got to step back from their duties and truly be a family. It was a peace that couldn’t last as they still have a job to do, but that small bit of relief made all the difference. This could be a dark and depressing show. It’s full of lies and secrets and pain, inflicted both intentionally and unintentionally. But just as Philip and Elizabeth’s break helped bring them back from their breaking point, this show finds ways to prevent itself from becoming unbearably bleak. It’s a show that loves and honors the connections these characters make, even if those connections ultimately end in heartbreak. It recognizes their value and the way Martha shaped Philip and Young Hee shaped Elizabeth. Just because they started as assets to be manipulated didn’t mean that was their full value. We were encouraged to love them and care for them just as much as the Jennings did even when we knew we shouldn’t. It’s remarkable storytelling and I could never recommend this show enough.

3. American Crime Story: People vs. OJ Simpson (FX) I can’t speak to the authenticity of this series but I do know what it has done to re-contextualize this trial and the people involved in it. The original was such a media spectacle that it seems a perfect fit for a television show like this, especially when combined with a talented cast such as this one. We got to see the role racism and sexism played, the way it became a media circus, and most importantly, we saw a show that never forgot the victims in this case. Yes, the trial was technically centered around OJ Simpson but it never felt like he was the star of the show. It was a battle of the lawyers and we saw how deeply the outcome of this case affected Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden. They wanted to win it for the Brown and Goldman families. They may not have won then and they have been mocked for it ever since, but I appreciate what this show has done to make people see how wrong they were to do so and for ending the show with Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, who somehow got lost amongst the madness of this trial.

4. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (CW) This show could have made the list for the music alone, which continues to be fantastic, but even beyond the clever songs, this is one of the most confidently made shows on TV. It always feels like it always knows where it wants to take these characters. It knows when to lean into expectations and when to run the other way from them. The second season has been especially smart in ditching the love triangle in a believable way while focusing on the real relationship of the show, the messy friendship between Rebecca and Paula. The supporting characters round out the cast in the most delightful ways and the show has become even better as more of them are able to be highlighted.

5. Person of Interest (CBS) I would have loved a longer final season but there were so many outstanding episodes in the one we got. This season gave us a look into Shaw’s mind and the depth of her love for Root. No matter what happened, in any scenario Samaritan could dream up, Root was her constant. Her touchstone. She is her safe place and the only thing on the planet she would die to protect. I think the writers would have loved to give these two more time, but maternity leave made that impossible, so we were given this beautiful gift and I’m grateful. We got some truly lovely moments of Team Machine coming together to protect The Machine and Finch. We saw to see the people the Machine had saved and later recruited to her cause come together to save the people who originally saved them. We saw this family come together to save each other and save the world. However unrealistic, I would have loved if they could have done it all without any losses. But I know that was never in the cards. John’s death was always coming and I’m sure he’s in the Machine listening to Root call him a big lug and having all those conversations with Joss they never got to have while she was alive. These characters will live on and the memory of this show will live on in the hearts of the fans and create new ones as people discover it through Netflix.

Continue reading Best of 2016: Shows

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Best of 2016: Moments

This is my fourth list of the year and the first one I’ve really had a difficult time ranking. Even more so than favorite characters or relationships, this list feels like a reflection of who I am and what I love about television. The specific moments and events that resonate with people are so individual and don’t always have the same effect out of context. Some stand on their own, but others are only pieces (often culminations) of a character’s journey over seasons or entire series. No matter how many of these moments you are familiar with, I hope you enjoy reading my thoughts about them and share some of your own favorites in the comments below.

1. Lorelai’s best memory of Richard (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life) I’m not sure that Lauren Graham has ever been better than she was in this scene. Though time has passed since his death, Lorelai still hadn’t managed to fully process the realities of her father’s death. There was a loss in the general sense but the full force of her emotions had yet to hit her until she stood and looked at the wilderness. While Lorelai had a complicated relationship with her parents, she loved Richard. He was distant and not as involved as she might have needed, but he loved her and tried to show it as best he could. Teenage heartbreak is kind of the worst. Without any perspective, all you have is the fact that it hurts and is humiliating and makes you question everything. Richard knew where to find Lorelai and knew what would help ease the pain. He knew she wanted the pretzel and knew what kind of movie she would want to see. He knew she didn’t need a lecture, just some love and compassion. He knew she needed this to be a secret from Emily, who wouldn’t have understood either of their actions at the time. On that day, Richard gave Lorelai exactly what she needed. She needed to feel as though someone saw her and understood her just as she was. It wasn’t a feeling she got often in her childhood. Richard never intended to hurt his daughter or push her away. He loved her deeply even if he couldn’t always demonstrate it in a way Lorelai needed. But he left her with this memory, this secret between just the two of them. And by letting Emily in on the secret, by showing her that Lorelai was missing her father just as much as Emily was missing her husband, he helped repair the rift between them just enough to keep a relationship possible.

2. I’m gonna miss her (The Americans) For a scene with so few words, so much is said and expressed. For the first time in Elizabeth’s adult life, she had a friend. Though it started as an assignment and though Elizabeth could never be fully honest with her, she genuinely enjoyed Young Hee’s company. The laughter and friendship was real, even if it’s origins weren’t. I wish that there could have been another way, that Elizabeth could have kept this. The fact that she even tried speaks volumes about what this relationship meant to her. But there wasn’t, so after doing her duty for her country, she came home and let herself be vulnerable and comforted by her husband. She’s honest here, in a way she can only be with Philip. He’s the only one who gets to see this side of her, the fragile side. He can’t make it better but he can sit there with her so she doesn’t have to be any more alone than she already feels like she is.

3. It’ll always be yours (Game of Thrones) I stopped watching this show last season but this relationship is something that they are getting exactly right and that is all thanks to Gwendoline Christie and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. They love these characters and their dynamic so much and it shines through in every scene they share. Every interaction is so layered and full of unspoken truths each are unable to give voice to. By allegiance, they are on opposing sides of this war. Jaime is loyal to his family and Brienne continues to honor her oath pledged to Catelyn and now Sansa Stark. That fact hangs heavy over their reunion. They recognize that there may come a day when they are asked to fight against each other and Jaime is doing is best not to think about that fact. Brienne tries to deal with it head on and essentially tells him that despite her love for him, her pledge comes first. It’s always the things that are unsaid that are most important with these two, especially when it comes to Oathkeeper. We know it symbolizes their relationship. It’s their unwavering faith in each other’s word and honor. They know it too and you see that in the scene where Brienne tries to return it. She’s terrified of what loving this man might mean and how she can reconcile that with her duties. She’s afraid to lose him but also afraid to have him. Jaime on the other hand, is more sure of his love, but not ready to face the consequences that love will bring. There is a tenderness in the way he says “it’ll always be yours” that leaves little doubt as to what he is actually talking about, a fact not missed by Brienne judging by her face. Every time Coster-Waldau and Christie share a scene together, I’m left in awe of their ability to convey so much in a look or change of tone. I may not care about much else on the show, but these two will always bring me back.

Continue reading Best of 2016: Moments

What to Watch (and Read): Summer Recommendations 2016

Another season of television has come to a close and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m breathing a sigh of relief and looking forward to new possibilities. To say that this season was trying would likely be an understatement.  While I found a few new shows to enjoy, many fell flat with me and even returning favorites tested my patience and love for them. Then of course, there was the spring doldrums, where each week seemed to bring a new show making inexplicable choices to kill (or not re-sign) vital characters who made a tremendous impact and a general state of misery that befell too many shows. Now that the season is largely behind us, it’s time to look forward and hope for a brighter season next fall.

Summers can be a great time to catch up on new shows that you missed or fell behind on or try out an older show that you hear great things about but missed on its first run. My last summer was spent largely with Grey’s Anatomy and LOST but I was also able to try out shows like You’re the Worst, which quickly became a favorite and a highlight of the fall season. This summer, I’m continuing on my multi-year journey with The X-Files, finishing up Avatar the Last Airbender, watching Freaks and Geeks for the first time, starting Happy Endings, hopefully watching Grace and Frankie, and likely becoming obsessed with Shadowhunters, though I’m sure I’ll find time to squeeze a few more things in there. In case you’re looking for some ideas for your own summer watching, I’ve listed a few shows below that I think would be a fantastic way to spend this hiatus.

Sense8 To understand this show is to understand me and that has nothing to do with these characters (who I love dearly) or the plot (which is fine) but everything to do with its central theme of connection and the beauty that results from it. My love for this show is all about the way it makes me feel. I love shows that understand the value in simple moments between two people, allowing them to share themselves with each other, and this show loves those moments. Its strongest moments are often when two sensates are doing nothing more than talking to each other and lending each other emotional support. The fun action sequences and the excellent romances make it even better but its core principles are what move me and what has made it stay with me.

The Americans This show is in its 4th season and it just keeps getting better, which most TV fans know is a truly remarkable accomplishment. Rather than being a fast-paced spy drama, this show is about a family struggling for connection and facing the consequences of their actions. That family just happens to be headed by two Russian spies. It’s a look at identity and loyalty to one’s country and family and how those things can change over time. It is incredibly well-made television that is comfortable in quiet moments and gives them the proper space to truly resonate. It can be nearly unbearably tense at times but only after it’s asked you to care about these people on an emotional level. It’s dangerous being a spy and external threats will always be a part of the show but the most compelling work is done on a smaller more personal level. The emphasis on the people behind the actions and the talent at all levels of this production make it one of the best shows on television at the moment.

Gilmore Girls With the revival nearly wrapped, what better time could there be to travel to Stars Hollow and fall in love with this special show? The lighter tone of the show is perfect for lazy summer days and the fast-paced, witty dialogue will leave you quoting the show long after it ends. No matter with Gilmore girl most resonates with you, there is inspiration to be gained and laughter and tears to be had. For all of the disagreements about boyfriends on the show, the heart of the show exists in Lorelai and Rory’s relationship with each other and it is something that should be cherished all these years later. If you’re not already a fan of this show, check it out and see what makes it special to so many.

Jane the Virgin I am continuously amazed at this show. It juggles so many different tones and stories and while it doesn’t handle them all equally well, it comes together to form an incredible whole. No matter what it is trying to do, it has three reliable strengths to fall back on. The first is Gina Rodriguez’s talent and love for this role. She puts everything she can into whatever this show throws at her and her natural warmth and light shine through it all. The second is the relationship between the Villanueva women. This will always be the best love story on the show. The dynamic between these ladies is always feels beautiful and real. This is the grounding point in the show, amidst all the telenovela styling and crime boss plots.  Finally, it’s the coherency that the Narrator brings to the show. It adds a lightness and awareness to everything the show is doing and gives it that fantastical edge that sets it apart from other shows. This is such a special show and there is truly nothing else on television like it.

Continue reading What to Watch (and Read): Summer Recommendations 2016

Best of 2015: Shows

Happy New Year, everyone! I was enjoying a much-needed vacation and now that I am back, it’s time to talk about my favorite shows of last year. My contenders for this list turned into a monster that grew entirely out of control. There was a lot of TV made in 2015, as was been noted, and there was a lot of it that was good. I love the transition to a greater quantity of TV that will appeal to a smaller number of people. Not every show can or should be Empire but all have the ability to resonate deeply with people and that is what this list is to me. These are the 10 shows that resonated with me the most in 2015 (and another 15 honorable mentions just because I love TV and want to see it celebrated).

For even more Best of 2015 fun, check out MGCircles and Nerdy Girl Notes if you haven’t already for their takes on the best TV had to offer last year.

Parks and Recreation All anyone really wants from a final season of a show is for it to honor the investment they have put into it. That means different things to different people and looks a little different for character-based vs. mythology-based shows, but it all boils down to us wanting the things we love to end strongly, if they have to end at all. I would have happily watched another several seasons of Parks and Recreation but since that wasn’t an option, I can’t have chosen a better final season. It was everything I could have asked for as it closed this chapter of the story for these characters while allowing me to see a future in which they are all still close. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and it gave me even more of Leslie Knope to be inspired by and that’s really the show in a nutshell. It was a show that made me feel good and believe that people can and want to do good for others and be rewarded for that goodness. It was a show about friendship and the joy that comes from watching your friends succeed. It was a show about believing in yourself and never giving up on your dreams. It was a special show and I’m glad it got the ending it deserved.

The Americans What a brilliantly crafted season. It was gripping and tense from start to finish all while allowing for some quiet moments of intimacy and grounding that prevented things from feeling oppressively bleak. This show isn’t a typical spy show, it’s a character study about faith and allegiances and family. This season highlighted the similarities between Paige and Elizabeth and the wholehearted way they embrace their beliefs and how those beliefs help to provide a structure to their lives. Elizabeth may not understand why Paige believes what she does but the underlying desire to be a part of something greater is the same for both of them. Philip, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same grounding faith as his wife and daughter and he was adrift for much of the season, caught between trying to be a loyal agent and the man he wants to believe himself to be. Seeing the growing divide between Philip and Elizabeth was painful to watch but Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell continue to be captivating screen partners and the work Holly Taylor and Alison Wright did as Paige and Martha was simply incredible. Taylor and Wright in particular took two characters who could have been stereotypes and far less fleshed out and made them into characters we want to root for and protect from the life the KGB thrust upon them.

Jane the Virgin This is one of the best crafted shows on the air right now. The writing is sharp, clever, and incredibly self-aware all while also being funny and emotional. The care that goes into crafting this show and balancing its numerous elements is evident in every scene and I will never think it gets enough credit for the wonderful job it is doing. It is easy for many to dismiss the quality of the show because it doesn’t doesn’t hit the various markers of “prestige TV” but those who do are doing themselves a disservice. Shows don’t have to be dark or constantly serious in order to be well-made. They can be full of warmth and love and joy and be every bit as good as anything else on the air if a person is willing to put down their preconceived notions of what the show is and instead embrace the amount of respect and love everyone associated with this show has for its telenovela roots and how they have played with its genre to create something wholly their own. I love these characters, so I’m already inclined to enjoy the show but at least once an episode, something will happen that makes me pause and marvel at how well-done the show is. Anyone who is a fan of high quality TV should check this show out and enjoy what this incredible cast and crew has to offer.

Continue reading Best of 2015: Shows

Best of 2015: Episodes

Choosing the best episodes of the year is always tough because it can be tricky to compare against many different types of shows. Ultimately, as always, I opted to discuss the ones that touched me the most. Whether it was for a standout moment, a departure from the ordinary, the relationships showcased or saying goodbye to a show, these are the episodes I could watch again and again. They were executed well and made me feel and there isn’t a better qualification, in my opinion.

One Last Ride (Parks and Recreation) To close out seven seasons of the show, Parks and Recreation chose to spend their final episode by reflecting on these characters and how they have been changed by knowing Leslie Knope. For a character whose dreams always included the happiness of her friends, I can think of no better ending. The unique structure allowed us to peek into the future and know that these characters had bright lives ahead of them. We got to say goodbye to each of them individually before we got to celebrate one final moment of them working together to make a difference in a small, rather unappreciated way. We got one more chance to celebrate the friendship between this intense, occasional steamroller of a woman and her beautiful tropical fish (and cry many tears at their reunion). We got one more look at the unconditional support and belief that Ben Wyatt has in his wife and got to see Leslie accomplish everything she had ever wanted. We even had time for one last library joke. Nobody does anything alone. Leslie taught us that has she achieved all of her goals with the people of the Parks and Recreation department of Pawnee, Indiana by her side. It is a beautiful message and the only real way to say goodbye to this beautiful show.

Stingers (The Americans) A single scene and its fallout elevate this episode into one of the best of the year and the best thing The Americans did in an incredible season. This scene wasn’t loud or splashy, but instead was quiet and almost painfully tense. For the first time in her life, Paige’s parents decided to be honest about who they were. It was a question she had every right to ask because no one can pretend that their life is perfectly normal. It was also a question whose answer she was in no way prepared for. Her parents were similarly unprepared to tell her the truth though I’m glad they did. They understood what they were asking of Paige even if I think they overestimated what a teenage girl could reasonably be expected to bear. And so they told her with as much compassion and love as they could muster because despite their history and everything they have been asked to fake, they’ve never needed to fake their love for their children. This scene was so affecting because you could feel Philip and Elizabeth’s need for Paige to understand and accept what they were saying just as much as we felt how overwhelming all of this information was to Paige in this moment and for the rest of the episode. Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell, and Holly Taylor are all so talented and made this a scene and an episode I won’t forget.

Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television (Community) There was no other way for Community to end. The final episode needed Jeff to come to terms with himself and be wonderfully meta about the role television plays in our lives. This episode was Dan Harmon’s thank you letter to his fans. It was an acknowledgement of the show’s ups and downs and a statement of his vision and everything he put into creating such a weird little show that never found mass success but inspired a dedicated following. It was his frustration of the way the show was received by fans and an admission that it’s hard to create a TV show that is everything each viewer needs and wants it to be. Saying goodbye is hard, whether it’s to a show you love or to your best friends as they go off and start new chapters in their lives. But things can’t stay the same, in television or in life. Change is needed. People need to move on and grow so they don’t end up in a permanent stasis that isn’t true to who they are. This episode was about welcoming that change and by making it as much about TV and the viewers as it did about the characters, Community gave us a fitting end so we would be ready for whatever the future held for the show.

The Devil’s Mark (Outlander) In this episode, Claire found out that that she wasn’t the only time-traveler in Scotland and Jaime found that that Claire was from the future. These two events changed Outlander and solidified the bond between Claire and Jaime. From now on, these two are full partners, with the knowledge that they have chosen each other and their life together. When a character is keeping a secret as big as Claire’s, we know as viewers that it can’t last forever. Eventually, someone one has to find out. Often times, it gets revealed for an easy source of drama, but Outlander chose to go a different route. Jaime may not understand how all of this was possible but he listens and he chooses to trust his wife and let her decide how she wanted to move forward. Their separation at the stones was painful because you could see the effect it was having on both. They got married out of necessity but the love between them is real. Catriona Balfe and Sam Heughan have incredible chemistry with each other and they sell the epic love story that is Jaime and Claire. Their reunion at the end and the tender kiss they share says what words couldn’t at the moment. Claire no longer wanted to go home. Or rather, she didn’t want to go back to her own time. She did choose to go home but that home was now wherever she and Jaime could be together.

Continue reading Best of 2015: Episodes

TV Thoughts: 2/8-2/14

What a week of TV! This is the kind of week that is so incredibly satisfying as a fan of good TV. There were so many great episodes this week and so many tiny character moments that filled me with pure joy (and sometimes the best kind of heartbreak). What did you love about the past week in television?

Sunday

  • Looking: I can’t say that I’m disappointed to see Kevin go. Seeing Richie and Patrick talking and hanging out again reminded me that I like them together so much better, even if it’s just as friends. Patrick needs someone to call him out when he’s being an idiot, like when he’s having an affair with his already-taken boss and getting too emotionally invested in a future that wasn’t going to happen with Kevin. I’m glad it made him realize that he needed to stand up for himself and ask for what he needed out of the relationship, then leave when Kevin wasn’t capable of giving it to him. In other breakup news, I’m also proud of Dom for leaving Lynn. I liked Lynn a lot last season but he’s an awful boyfriend. Like Kevin, he wasn’t capable of giving Dom what he needed because he is still emotionally in a relationship with Brian. It’s understandable but unfair and Dom deserves better. I’m so happy that he has Doris who is so supportive and has his back 100% of the time. We all need a friend who will look into ways to Kickstarter our restaurant and help us make our dreams come true for no other reason than it is important to us. Finally, to round out the group, I cannot tell you how happy I am with the changes and growth in Augustin between s1 and s2. Eddie has been such a good influence on him and I am excited to see how he adapts to working at the shelter.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: This wasn’t a brilliant or groundbreaking episode of this show by any means, but it was so much fun to watch. I loved the more action-oriented scenes as the team took over the training and took down all the other agents. It’s easy to forget that this is a show about cops and this was a nice way to bring their jobs into focus a little more while retaining all of the great character moments I love about the show. Amy’s failure to start the Nine-Nine chant (and her subsequent excitement when it worked) was adorable and so Amy. Terry’s description of the team as “boss ass penguins” may be my favorite Terry line in a while, and Rosa opening up and explaining why she needed Saturday off was perfect. Back at the precinct, I loved Captain Holt’s apology most of all. While I’m not sure that I necessarily agree that they should have ended up with the same personality classification, it’s nice when a leader can recognize that part of leading is encouraging and accepting the strengths of those who work for you. It takes a lot to admit your failings to an employee and it made me respect Captain Holt as a character even more.

Monday

  • Jane the Virgin: I fall a little more in love with this show every week. I am all-in on Jane and Rafael’s relationship (even though he is acting awfully shady at the moment) and thought their mutual concern for the health of their unborn child was so well done. I’m glad that Rafael went with his gut and planned the graduation celebration for Jane even if it was cheesy because it led to the best moment of the episode. It’s just become a fact of this show that any scene featuring the three generations of Villanueva women will be outstanding. Xo’s speech to Jane was beautiful all on it’s own but the shot of the three women sitting on Jane’s bed as she asks for the secret to being a good mother is one that will happily stay with me. No matter what is happening with Jane and the men in her life (Rogelio included), her relationship with her mother and grandmother is always stable and always a source of comfort, love, and acceptance.
  • Castle: Oh how I love the 3XK arc. It never fails to be wonderfully chilling and it brings out such good things in Nathan Fillion’s performance. Both Castle and Ryan carry so much guilt over Jerry Tyson and the murders he committed that both feel responsibility for and you could feel that guilt this week. When they found Tyson, I was not alone in thinking that maybe there was a chance they found someone who really had surgically altered their face to look like a serial killer and I loved that doubt. It wasn’t until that brilliant final interrogation scene that I felt sure they had caught Tyson only to have things go so terribly wrong when the precinct realized it was all a part of Tyson and Nieman’s plan to kidnap Beckett. That interrogation is some of the best work Nathan Fillion has done on this show. He found the story and my jaw dropped when he pulled out the pictures of Tyson’s mom and compared them to the recent victims. I have been anxiously awaiting part two of the episode and I’m so glad that tomorrow is Monday.
  • The Fosters: So many things happened in this episode, it’s almost overwhelming. The most-talked about this week was the Jude and Connor scene at the movies. However this unfolds, I am in no way prepared. I feel so incredibly protective of Jude and his happiness and I just want everything to work out for him. Regardless of what direction his relationship with Connor goes from here, it’s obvious that these two deeply care about each other. They are young and figuring out who they are and unfortunately, only one of them has the space to do so. If Connor decides he might like to move forward with a future relationship with Jude, his dad isn’t going to be supportive and it’ll just make this time that much more confusing for him. I trust this show to handle it all well but I guarantee it will make my emotions a mess. Just the small scene of them touching (and eventually hooking) pinkies tells me that there are so many good and heartbreaking things to come for them. It was full of innocence and excitement and uncertainty and everything that a first crush should be.
  • In other brief thoughts of the week, I love most of what they are doing with Mariana’s character. I love that she is enjoying STEM Club as well as her dance team. She’s one of the more unapologetically feminine characters on the show and it’s nice to see her continue to maintain that identity while excelling at a traditionally male-dominated field. I’m less excited about her wanting to go on tour with the band and would rather see her work through some of her abandonment issues, but I sometimes forget that she’s still a teenager and sometimes they don’t make the best choices. Along similar lines, Jesus could also stand to work through his own issues regarding his mother and how that’s affected him and I will look forward to seeing that happen so he will stop making such stupid decisions. Finally, Robert and Callie. I want these two to have an actual relationship that doesn’t just have Callie calling him when he’s in trouble. I think they have a lot they could offer each other and I want to see that develop. In order for that to happen though, Robert needs to realize that he can be Callie’s dad without being her guardian. As a parent, you have to think of what’s best for your child and I just don’t see how taking Callie away from the family she’s chosen for herself and her brother is going to help her, especially not at 16 when she may not have that many years left at home.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 2/8-2/14

Galentine’s Day 2015

Happy Galentine’s Day everyone! It’s time to celebrate all of the amazing women in our lives and that includes the fictional ladies of TV. I had so much fun writing my Galentine’s Day post a couple years ago that I couldn’t resist bringing it back this year. This list is made up of just a few of the incredible female characters currently on the air right now and I know you all have plenty more that also deserve some love. So head over to the comments and lets talk about our favorite women!

Jane/Xo/Alba Villanueva (Jane the Virgin) This whole show is one that celebrates women. The showrunner is a woman, as are many of the directors and writers. If today is all about celebrating women and what they can do for each other, the cast and crew of Jane the Virgin deserve a shoutout. These three women, on their own or in any combination, are among my favorite on TV right now. I can admire Jane’s optimism and desire to work hard, Xo’s persistence in following her dreams and selflessness when it comes to Jane, and Alba’s unwavering dedication and support of her family. Jane may be the character I relate to the most, but she wouldn’t be who she is without the influence of her mom and abuela. These women support each other, no matter what, and it’s been beautiful to watch.

Bow Johnson (Black-ish) It’s never easy to be the fictional character in a relationship with another character who has a big personality. If not played or written right, this sort of character could easily fade into the background but I’m so glad that Bow hasn’t. Yes, she may end up reacting a lot to something Dre is doing (though that can often work to the show’s advantage, like her attempted prank on Dre with the kids) but occasionally she’ll get her own rant that will just crack me up and remind me of how much I adore her. She’s talented in her own right and is proud of her successes as a doctor. She’s not afraid to say, that yes, she is in fact pretty great if no one else is going to step up and recognize her and that’s a trait I really admire.

Amy Santiago/Rosa Diaz/Gina Linetti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) I’ve spent the past few days trying to choose just one of these wonderful ladies for this list but I haven’t succeeded so I’m picking them all. Each has found their place in the world and they are very comfortable in it. Amy has found security in rules and organization. They help her make sense of things and she’s very relatable to me in that aspect. Rosa finds security in her tough exterior. It’s partly emotional protection for her and partly her innate tendency to tell it like it is and she can have trouble when others don’t do the same. Like so many of the other women who present a prickly exterior to the world, she does care and she’ll always have your back. She’s not going to pretend she likes you when she doesn’t but if she likes you, she’ll be a loyal friend for life. Gina just exists on her own plane of existence. Like Rosa, she’ll tell you exactly what she’s thinking (which is something about herself more often than not). She’s self-absorbed and a bit intense for a lot of people, but there is something so amazing about the fact that she’s as likeable as she is. What makes these three women great is that they exist simultaneously on the same show. It’s not a show with a token woman with the same basic strengths and weaknesses as the characters on other shows. All are different and all are celebrated for who they are. They are never pitted against each other and are allowed to simply be.

Linda Belcher (Bob’s Burgers) I know that Tina and Louise are internet favorites but Linda has always been my favorite of the Belcher women. She may get stuck on crazy ideas and take them too far (like every other member of the family) but when it comes down to it, she’s an enthusiastic and passionate woman who loves her husband and children. She’ll fight for them and be their champion when others doubt them because she accepts them just as they are.

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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: 1/25-1/31

This week saw the ending of one show and the return of many more. The craziness that comes with spring TV watching has officially begun and I am already behind on things. As we head in a month that historically brings with it lots of good television (thank you, sweeps), here are my thoughts on the TV that I did manage to watch this week.

Sunday

  • Galavant: What a fun and enjoyable month this was with Galavant. I loved the songs, I loved the characters, and I just had a blast watching it each week. I am a bit disappointed that it ended on a cliffhanger since I’m not hugely hopeful for a season 2 and now I’ll be disappointed to not get one and miss out on Galavant and King Richard adventures. Also, if we do get a season two, I need more flashbacks to Galavant’s dad for no other reason than my desire to listen to Anthony Head sing all the time.

Monday

  • Jane the Virgin: I like how willing Jane is to stand up for what she wants from her romantic life. Even if other people don’t understand it, Rafael is the person she has chosen to be with and she’s made it very clear that everyone is going to have to respect that. I understand Xo’s concerns and of course you can’t completely ignore the opinions of those around you, but Jane is the only one who can truly answer what is right for her at this time in her life and it was a nice change from the love triangle that could have happened.
  • Sleepy Hollow: I’m still not really sure how this show managed to so completely lose what I loved about it, but this episode gave me a little bit of hope that things may be back on the right track, or at least an adjacent track. I’m disappointed that the show wants to decrease the serialization but if the writers can’t handle that well, then I’m ok with stand-alone episodes. What I do care most about is losing the characters and dynamics I grew to love in season one. I want more Abbie and Jenny and unstoppable partners Abbie and Ichabod. I would even take Abbie and Katrina teaming up and working together instead of them ending up seemingly on opposing teams because Ichabod doesn’t know how to deal with them together. Hopefully the conversation about Abbie and Ichabod in this week’s episode leads to the return of their teamwork and the dynamic we all fell in love with. I will however remain sceptical until I see it, it’s not the first time this conversation has happened this season only for Abbie to be sidelined again.

Continue reading TV Thoughts: 1/25-1/31

Best of 2014: Actors

In my second to last installment of the Best of 2014, I want to take a moment to celebrate the brilliant work that so many actors did on TV this year. It was a year full of talent and it could be found everywhere you looked, across all networks and platforms.

Jeffrey Tambor (Transparent) I’m sure that Jeffrey Tambor has been in a great number of things but until this year, I only knew him as George Bluth, Sr. Within just a few minutes of meeting Maura Pfefferman, all images of George Bluth were erased in my mind. Jeffrey Tambor has been rightly praised for his work in Transparent. He captures the vulnerability, the strength, the fear and the relief that comes with being the person you always knew you were supposed to be. There is a gentleness to his portrayal of Maura, a sense of trying to relearn everything you thought you knew about the world while holding onto sometimes (like family) you don’t want to leave behind.

Allison Tolman (Fargo) The casting department found gold in Allison Tolman. Without the warmth and dedication she brought to her role as Molly Solverson, Fargo would have been far less memorable to me. Whether it was her relationship with her father, her growing relationship with Gus and his daugher, or her pursuit of Lorne and Lester, there was an emotional and moral base to all she did. I sincerely hope this becomes a breakout role for her and we see much more of her in the future.

Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys (The Americans) I’m cheating and picking two people for this spot. Each of them are fantastic on their own and definitely shine in their individual scenes but it’s the combination of Russell and Rhys that makes the acting on The Americans so compelling. The Jennings are complicated characters, torn between their loyalties to their mother country and their children who are still unaware of who their parents really are, and every bit of that conflict and complication comes through in these two performances. Whether it is a quieter moment, like Elizabeth reaching out to Emmett and Leanne’s son and deciding to not tell him the truth about his parents or a louder moment like Philip’s meeting with Paige’s pastor, you don’t want to take your eyes away from them.

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