Archive for the ‘TV’ Category


My birthday was this weekend, so to celebrate I bought myself a Tiny Hannibal Lecter, NBC show edition. I intend to pose him in various situations and take silly picture for my own amusement, and sometimes I’ll use them as a lazy post when I can’t be bothered to have strong opinions about things.



Tiny Hannibal wanted to slice the pork… or perhaps it was a forearm…


Then he took a shot at the lamb… or perhaps it was a bit of rude rump roast…


Tiny Hannibal stands over his master carving skillz.


Then, of course, there was the chocolate cake. I’ll let your imagination run wild with what might be baked into it.


Next up (probably): Tiny Hannibal does Christmas.

Happy Holidays, whichever you celebrate!

Read Full Post »

I may not read very many comics, but I adore film and tv adaptations of them. Through the years, I’ve set up my tent firmly in the Marvel camp, in the competition between Marvel and DC Comics. This is generally because I think they make better movies, but also because they have better female representation. I’m not saying they’re doing a fantastic job (I mean, can we PLEASE have a Black Widow movie already?), but for the most part they’re doing better than DC.

the flash

While I enjoy Marvel adaptations more than DC adaptations, I was more than willing to give The Flash a try. Only five episodes in, and I have very mixed feelings about this show/story. I like Barry Allen, as it turns out. He’s kind of mopey, but he’s smart and sweet and all those good things a hero should be. Very few flaws, which is totally unrealistic, but I feel like he’d be a fun person to hang out with. He has room to grow. I also like the set-up for the story, mostly because there’s lots of science-gone-wrong involved. I like that scientists are main characters. I LOVE Jesse L. Martin (secretly I’m hoping one of the meta humans will start walking around making everyone sing just so I can hear his voice). But I have two very specific problems with this show.

First, the portrayal of “nerds” as borderline-annoying brainiacs with very few social skills grates on my nerves. This is one of several tropes that absolutely drive me crazy. Just because you’re smart, and you really like science, does not mean you have no social skills. This is a myth that needs to end. It’s part of the reason I stopped watching The Big Bang Theory.

But the trope I really want to talk about is the one that Iris falls into. I don’t know the name of it, but if you do – please let me know in the comments. After my praise of Marvel comics, I must admit that Mary Jane of Spider-man also falls into this trope. Iris and Mary Jane are trophy girls. They’ve been in the hero’s life for a really long time, and he loves her, but she is completely oblivious, yet everything she does is for him is written to get a reaction from him. I’m going to focus on the specifics of Iris’s character, but I’m sure you’ll be able to see the parallels with Mary Jane.


(Isn’t Barry Allen adorable though?)

Iris suffers from a severe lack of agency. Everything she does is either for The Flash, or written in a way that gets a reaction from The Flash. She never does anything for her own reasons, it is ALWAYS tied to The Flash.

Exhibit A: She’s his best friend, yet has no idea that he’s been in love with her since the beginning of time.

Exhibit B: She starts dating her dad’s partner, not because the guy is particularly interesting, but because the writers want Barry to feel sad that he can’t have her.

Exhibit C: She does school? Maybe? And works in a coffee shop? Supposedly she’s into journalism. But we don’t really know what she does with her time when Barry is not pining after her to her face.

Exhibit D: She’s obsessed with writing a blog about The Flash.

Exhibit E: When The Flash confronts her about the blog and asks her to stop writing it, she confesses that she’s been writing it for Barry (a.k.a. The Flash) to prove that the impossible is possible.

Beyond these things, we don’t know anything about Iris. We don’t know what she likes, what she hates, what she wants to do with her life, why she gives a damn about her dad’s partner. I mean, really, who is that guy and why should we care about him? He doesn’t really have any agency either, for that matter.

This is lazy writing. Comic book heroes get reinvented all the time, so why can’t the other characters in the story? [Edited: misleading comment from Wikipedia page on the various iterations of Iris’s character] Seems simple enough to give her some agency and her own purpose in the story outside of how she affects Barry Allen and/or The Flash, don’t you think? I mean, right now Iris is the most boring character on the show, aside from the detective she’s dating. This is mostly because we don’t know anything about her, or what she wants for herself. We know plenty about what she wants for her best friend the superhero, but she is painfully two-dimensional.

It is early days for The Flash, and Iris has plenty of time to become more interesting on her own (a friend of mine hinted at some things from episode 6 that I haven’t seen yet because I don’t watch things when they air that could bode well for her). I have hope.

But that doesn’t make me any less tired of seeing this same thing over and over again: female love interests in comic book stories that are merely a prize for the hero to win after many trials and tribulations, whose desires and goals in life are meaningless unless they are also tied to the hero.

When something is adapted to film or TV, what’s the point of doing it if you can’t at least try to make it better or different than the original?

Read Full Post »

The Almighty Johnsons is an urban fantasy genre show out of New Zealand. Over there it’s in its 3rd season, but the 1st season just appeared on Netflix in the US. Netflix recommended it to both my roommates and me, so we thought we’d give it a shot. Keep in mind we’ve only seen the first 3 episodes, but I think that’s enough to have developed some decent first impressions of the show.


The basic premise is this: four brothers – Mike, Anders, Ty, and Axl – are all decendents of Norse gods. Olaf – the only guy in the photo above in shorts – is actually their grandfather (he just ages really slowly because of his god power). Way back when the gods decided to live amongst humans, they left Asgard for Earth. Later, when people stopped believing in them or something, they got chased out of their homes and fled to New Zealand (Yes, New Zeland, of all places). Now, whenever a god and a goddess have a child together, that child becomes a god on his or her 21st birthday. They’re immortal, it seems, because they are continuously reincarnated.

Before I get into more detail, I feel the need to tell you that this show does not take itself very seriously. At all. The sense of humor is very blunt. They’re all gods, and they know they’re gods, but they appear to only really have memories of their current reincarnated lives (this might not be true, but I’m only 3 episodes in, and this is the way it seems). I LOVE the humor in this show. The situation is absurd to begin with, and they just roll with it. It reminds me a bit of the humor in The Fades. It’s blunt, and it’s quick witted, but there’s also a lot of 21-year-old boy humor. It’s an interesting combination.

The story begins on Axl’s 21st birthday, when his family informs him that his “cousin” Olaf is actually his grandfather, and they all have weak super powers because they’re gods. They do this silly little ritual – forcing Axl to strip naked and hold a sword in the air for “the lightning bolt” and suddenly he’s a god. But he’s also a 21-year-old boy. You can see how ridiculous this can become.

Here are a few more ridiculous things:

Olaf also has the fun duty of being the family Oracle. Sometimes he knows things. Sometimes his chill surfer dude lifestyle seems to take over his ability to know things. At one point he snaps out of a god-induced coma thing and starts dancing around, topless, with a lamp. I love Olaf.

The 4 brothers’ parents were the god of the sea, who ran off when they were kids, and their mother was the goddess of… I can’t remember. But she decided raising four sons who would be gods was too much to handle, so she ran into the forest to become a tree. Apparently the absurdity of godly behavior transcends the years.

Then there’s that one time that the god of all things dark and cold, and the goddess of… apples(?) have sex and make it snow apple-flavored snow. Indoors.

I don’t know very much about Norse mythology, mostly just the big-name gods and goddesses, but people who do know it will appreciate that many of the lesser-known gods and goddesses are in play here. It makes for many hilarious situations, especially when you start to think about the original relationships between all of them.

The only relationship they stick to is that between Odin and Frigg. There are a bunch of signs the day Axl turns 21, and this leads to him being the reincarnation of Odin. Odin has a big job. He has to find Frigg. This is his quest. If he fails this quest before he dies, then his whole family also dies. No pressure, then.

The set-up and the humor alone are enough to get me to start watching The Almighty Johnsons. But whether or not I stick around will be based on how they portray women on the show. I’m three episodes in, and so far the women are either mortal background characters (Axl’s roommate has a massive crush on him, but I can’t remember her name, and he is completely obvilious, and otherwise I have no idea what her purpose in life is. Then there’s Mike’s wife, who pretty much hates half his family, and might have originally been Mike’s best friend’s girlfriend?? But again, no idea what she does otherwise.), prizes to be won (Frigg, the goddess of Eden), or enemies.

There appears to be a whole coven of women who are probably goddesses, but this hasn’t really been confirmed. They tried to kill Odin, but failed, so now they’re trying to find Frigg. We don’t really know their names (at least, not their goddess names). But when the gods found out they existed, they were like “oh shit, goddesses hanging out together is really bad news – we have to find Frigg first!” Which, to an outsider like an audience member, is completely out of the blue. So far, the women haven’t been treated like people with their own ambitions (though I do have hope for Anders’ assistant, Dawn, who appears to be the only gorgeous woman Anders hasn’t tried to sleep with). They are entirely dependent on the gods’ storyline. I really hope this changes, but if it doesn’t, I don’t think I’ll be leaping for joy when season 2 comes to Netflix.

Read Full Post »

My rage associated with feminist issues has been extremely close to the surface this past week, thanks to all the GamerGate sexism/misogyny and Utah State University refusing to put public safety before gun laws for Anita Sarkeesian’s talk. But plenty of people have written about these issues this week, and I’ve been sharing links to articles and blog posts on my social media outlets for days.

So instead of repeating what these eloquent people have already said on the issue, I’m going to talk about the new Old Spice ads that spark my rage every time they appear on Hulu.

The implications here are that women (particularly gorgeous ones) are too stupid to notice that the guy in their hot tub is a robot, despite how obvious it is to the viewers, just because he smells good. Really? REALLY?? The sexism is practically shouting from this ad. Here, women aren’t people, they’re just objects to be won by man robots who smell nice.

And this one:

Another gorgeous woman reduced to stupidity because a robot – this time, fried wires hanging out for the world to see – smells like a human man. And she was already at the dinner table with a real man.

Aaaaand this one:

I don’t even have words for this one. Creepy robot dude falls on a pretty woman and can’t get up. Gross. The hot tub commercial is definitely the worst of all of these. But all of these portray stereotypically gorgeous women as idiots. Please, can we not?

What happened to weird horse guy? That one at least was just strange and oddly charming. These new robot commercials make me want to vomit.

Just for good measure, and to show that Old Spice is not the only company guilty of sexist ads this past year, here’s the KIA ad in which human-sized male hamsters (who actually have the anatomy of a real hamster) turn real-sized pet hamsters into human-sized female hamsters who creepily have the body shape of human women. Also hair, like human women. The boys also steal one of the female’s cars, and then everyone parties together. Objectification of women at its finest, ladies and gentlemen.

I apologize if you are now as enraged as I have been over these, but the more voices out there pointing out the blatant sexism in these commercials, the more likely it is that the right people will hear about it, and be in a position to change it.

Read Full Post »

I was going to write this post about sequence stratigraphy and my thesis project, and attempt to explain it for non-geologists (or non-sedimentologists, for that matter), but I spent a long weekend doing nothing but sequence stratigraphy on a field trip this weekend, and now it’s 10pm and I just want to go to bed.

So, instead I will tell you about my new favorite show, The Fades.

the fades

It’s a weird mix of horror, drama, comedy, and fantasy/sci-fi from the BBC. I personally love things that cross genres like this does, and rather than being a clunky switch from one to the other, the writing is so good that they all blend together very well.

I must admit that I am only two episodes into this show, and it only has one season of six episodes. Yet I have no doubt that I will enjoy every second of the rest of it.

Our hero, Paul, is played by Iain De Caestecker (some of you may know him as Fitz in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and he’s super awkward and hilarious… and also happens to be our only hope for the future. Maybe. His role in the apocalypse (because of course, there is one) is not exactly clear. He is joined by his best friend Mac (Daniel Kaluuya), and his mentor-ish character, Neil. There are loads of other characters, and while the female representation is a bit skewed (half of them are already dead, and half of them only appear to be props for the main character… oh, and there’s the evil one), it’s well rounded enough for me.


It all begins when Paul and Mac ride their bikes around an abandoned building, and witness some gruesome weirdness…



Then something happens to Paul, and he has a vision of the future – basically an apocalypse that turned everything to ash. Probably everyone is dead. It’s not a pretty sight.

The plot revolves around the Fades – ghosts of people who have died who couldn’t move on for one reason or another (Natalie Dormer is one of them, and she’s pretty much amazing in everything she does, so I’m excited to see what they do with her character). If they stay in our world long enough, and become detached from their humanity, they become sort of feral and evil. Some people, called angelics (I think, I’m only on episode two, ok?), can see these ghosts, and the evil fades like to kill them. For the longest time, these ghosts couldn’t touch humans. But lately they’ve been snacking on live humans, and this apparently gives them the ability to make contact with things in the real world. This is the horror part.


So everything is extremely dire, and our fate appears to be in the hands of Paul, who is… a teenager…


So there’s horror, and death, and drama, and then… there’s a boatload of comic relief that mostly revolves around the fact that Paul and Mac are teenagers and really just want to find girls who will like them enough to have sex with them. Oh, and they LOVE making Star Wars and other nerdy references. I love this humor because I actually get all the jokes, and I am extremely guilty of nerd-dom.

Don’t get me wrong, though – the “juvenile” humor doesn’t overpower the direness of the situations they’re in, or the fate of the world, or the super creepy terrifying fades. Like I said before, it all blends together perfectly. I alternate between being terrified, grossed out, and laughing hysterically throughout the entire hour that I spend watching this show every night. This is some very well written and well-acted entertainment. Check it out. Have some fun.

Read Full Post »

I’ll admit, I was skeptical. A show about witches, airing on Lifetime, teased for being the “Women’s Channel.” I must remember that it also brought me Blood Ties, which was fun for the first season at least. I was also skeptical because I’d read some not-so-nice book reviews of the novel, Witches of East End. I must also admit, the book synopsis didn’t grab me the way the show has, and it’s likely I will never read it, now that I’ve seen how much the show strays from it (Much like Vampire Diaries and The 100 have, to their credit).

Perhaps the thing that made me most skeptical of all, however, was the cover image on Netflix (this is also the DVD cover image, as far as I can tell, for season 1).


My first thought was “Witches of Jersey Shore??” Because. This image. It’s ridiculous. Everyone’s hair is enormous. The girl on the far right, Ingrid (I’ll talk about each of them in a minute) is dressed pretty much the complete opposite of how her character actually dresses. Freya (far left) looks like she has evil eyes (she doesn’t, she actually has very pretty eyes). But luckily for me, my love of all things supernatural won out, and I gave this show a chance.

I was not disappointed, and I was hooked by the first episode. I am the first to admit if it takes me a few episodes to get into a show, and this was definitely not the case with Witches of East End.

The number one thing that drew me in was the fact that this is very much a female-driven show. It centers around the Beauchamp women of East End – Wendy and Joanna, and Freya and Ingrid (Joanna’s daughters). Each of these women has a curse that gives them immortality. Wendy can transform at will into a cat, and she therefore has 9 lives. The other three are much more intertwined. When one of Joanna’s daughters dies, the other dies shortly after, often due to unrelated circumstances. Before Joanna has finished grieving, she finds herself pregnant with one, and then the other. This has been their pattern for hundreds of years.

This time around, when the show begins, Joanna has decided to hide from her daughters that they’re witches. You see, they never seem to survive past their mid-twenties in all their previous lives, and in all their previous lives they have learned to use their magic from a very young age. Joanna puts some kind of enchantment on them, and hides their magic.

That is, until Wendy shows up after 100 years and tells her sister they’re all in danger.

This is a lot to pack into a pilot episode, especially since the girls learn about their magic by the end of it, and I personally thought the writers, actors, and director all did an excellent job of pulling it off. I love all things supernatural, like I said above, but that isn’t what kept me around. It was this ensemble of strong female characters running the show (Dash and Killian, the two leading men on the show, certainly helped though, but I’ll get to them later).

1. Ingrid

Ingrid2 Ingrid1


Ingrid is definitely my favorite character. She’s a total bookworm, and she’s practical, and skeptical. I found her instantly relatable. She works in East End’s library and is continuously working on a PhD dissertation about the history of witchcraft in New England. Ingrid has the most trouble adjusting to having magic in her life, compared to her sister, Freya. She begins by taking a practical approach, and ends up unleashing a curse on herself. The first few episodes are quite a roller coaster for her, and she makes several attempts to never use magic again, to no avail. She struggles with this drastic change in her life, but becomes stronger for it. Watching her grow through the first season (and now into the 2nd season) has been amazing to watch.

2. Wendy


Wendy is my second favorite. She’s the free spirit, semi-hippie of the bunch. She breaks the rules when she feels it’s appropriate, and she’s extremely comfortable with herself. Wendy is the aunt we all wish we had. I suppose this might make her a sterotype, but I like her. Her history has clearly shaped who she is today, and she still makes plenty of mistakes and has difficulty trusting people. Yet she is refreshingly confident and often surprisingly the voice of reason in the family. Wendy is also a little bit psychic and has the best collection of jewelry.

3. Freya

Freya2 Freya1

Oh, Freya. This girl is ruled by the dramatic, and worries intensely about EVERYTHING. Oh, hey, that sounds a little like me… Anyway… Freya is also a little bit psychic, and she is super into learning she’s a witch, considering she thought she was going crazy through some of her formative years. Freya is often the comic relief, but her story revolves around her love for two brothers (ok, I know, this is starting to sound like Vampire Diaries, but bear with me). She is extremely passionate about everything she does, including her bar tending (it turns out she was great at mixing potions in her previous lives, and when she grew up without magic, this turned into an impressive drink-mixing skill). Freya has a strange sort of innocence about her, which makes her one of the kindest characters ever. It also gets her into a lot of trouble, but I love this girl, and kind of wish she was MY little sister. The friendship she shares with Ingrid is very similar to the sisters in the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, or Charmed.

4. Joanna


I couldn’t find a photo of Joanna that I thought captured her well, so here’s a photo of her with Wendy making strange faces as they try to explain something unpleasant. This sort of thing happens often. Many delightfully awkward moments on this show. Joanna’s character is fun because she gets to be both a mother and a sister. She’s the most stable character in the group. Her fatal flaw, however, is that she is often idealistic – a fact Wendy likes to point out on more than one occasion. She has many enemies, but it seems they were all created while she was in pursuit of saving her family. Joanna is probably my least favorite of the main characters, but she is a great mother and sister.

And now for the boys…



Killian is your standard gorgeous bad boy with a bit of a checkered past. He shows up out of nowhere for Dash and Freya’s engagement party, yet he and Freya have been dreaming about each other for weeks. It’s all very romantic and stuff. I like this guy simply because I like this archetype character. Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Damon from Vampire Diaries… I like these guys. I’m ok with that. What makes Killian a little different is his relationship with Freya, which we have only just begun to scratch the surface of, so I won’t leave too many spoilers. Honestly, the other men who come and go in this show are more interesting to me, but Killian is pretty, and he brings a good sense of humor, so I’m curious to see where they take his story, especially with season 2.

I also really like this photo of them, deciding to just be friends:





We have the stereotypical bad boy, and Dash is our stereotypical good boy. This is probably the biggest flaw in this show – these two stereotypes, and the fact that they’re in love with the same girl (this is season 1 we’re talking about though, things have changed in season 2 in many ways). Luckily we get some variety with the other women and the men in their lives, and by the end of season one, the Gardiner boys become very interesting indeed. Season 2 will be much more interesting watching their stories unfold, I think. But the best way I can describe Dash? He’s the Angel (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or Stefan (Vampire Diaries) equivalent. Aside from his silly name, Dash is set up to be the “perfect guy.” He’s a doctor, he’s extremely wealthy, and cares deeply for Freya, his bride-to-be. If he stayed like that for the entire show, he would be extremely boring. But as the first season progresses, he slowly unravels, and we start to get a better picture of who he really is. I honestly didn’t find him interesting until the very end of the season, but I was in this show for the strong women characters to begin with anyway, so it didn’t bother me too much.

In addition to these excellent characters, the show has my favorite blend of drama and humor. Plus magic that ALWAYS has a price, which they continue to state clearly when the girls are first learning how to use their magic. One final point – this show is very sex-positive. These women are very clear about not judging each other for their habits (or lack thereof) and that includes the older two women, which in my experience is a bit of a rarity. In my humble opinion, this is a well-done show, if cheesy at times the way Charmed was sometimes cheesy. My only other complaints are that sometimes really strange things happen that remind me of Torchwood in a bad way, and it’s possible the guys could be better at acting. I’m sure people with a more critical eye than mine could find more flaws, but on the whole, I really enjoy this show, and I can’t wait to see more with strong leading ladies. And now I must leave you – as I’ve got another episode of Witches of East End to watch.

Read Full Post »

My roommate and I are fans of the young adult science fiction and urban fantasy genre, which means we share a lot of books and like to go to the same movies and watch the same TV shows. I think I have the best roommate ever. The most recent stories that fall into this category are Divergent, The 100, and Star-Crossed. I enjoy all of them for different reasons, but mostly I want to focus on the female protagonist/main character in each of these, because I’m starting to see a trend of strong, young, female leads that I like.


I would just like to note how happy I am that I found a movie poster that didn’t do the stupid female pose that is so common with action movie posters. This one is much better.

Divergent was recently made famous by the new movie, starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James. It is based on the first book in a trilogy of the same name by Veronica Roth. My roommate read the books ages ago, and loved the movie. I loved the movie, and immediately started reading the books. I’m currently almost finished with Insurgent, the 2nd novel in the series. Divergent is in the same realm as The Hunger Games trilogy, as far as themes go. It’s set a little ways into the future, after the world has theoretically been destroyed by a crazy war. Details of this war have not been given, and the entire story (what I’ve read so far) takes place behind a giant fence that encloses what remains of Chicago. These days, everyone in the city is divided into 5 “factions”: Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, and Amity. Each has their own purpose, and the goal is the keep the peace. The cool thing is, everyone is allowed to choose their faction at age 16 – after they take an aptitude test. Most stay in the faction they were born in, but a significant number will transfer to a different one. Once they’re chosen a faction, they have to pass initiation in order to stay there. When they fail initiation, they become factionless. The factionless wander the seedier parts of town, relying on the goodwill of Abnegation to get food and clothing. They’re completely ignored by the rest of the factions. So we have Beatrice, born into Abnegation, and given “inconclusive” aptitude test results – she is Divergent. Being Divergent is a big scary thing, because it means you have a broader personality, you aren’t happy doing just one thing. Some people (the antagonists, in this case) think this is dangerous. So Beatrice chooses Dauntless, because it’s much more exciting – they jump off moving trains, zip line off the roofs of buildings, climb ferris wheels… I can see the appeal.

Now, I know there are some rumblings about having to be special in order to save the world and whatnot (seeing as the two main characters of this story are both Divergent), but I decided not to care about that, because I think the rest of the story is more interesting, and I am not really all that philosophical about this kind of thing. It’s a story. Stories are often not perfect. Moving on.

I find her a lot more interesting than Katniss because Tris (as she calls herself when she joins Dauntless) appears to have more of a personality. I always thought Katniss was a bit boring because she always just let things happen to her. She doesn’t try to lead a revolution, the people around her essentially make her do it (maybe it’s just me, but that’s how I felt about her). Tris, on the other hand, has some agency. Like the tagline says, she makes choices. She chooses Dauntless after being told she has aptitude for Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite. She’s the first one to jump down a big dark hole to enter the Dauntless compound. She works extremely hard to become strong enough to stay in the Dauntless faction. She makes it all the way through initiation, only to be thrown into a war with mind-control and crazy simulations.

A lot of really bad things happen when that war starts, and it results in some serious PTSD for Tris. She can’t even hold a gun, she has intense guilt, and no one acknowledges that she has PTSD. She can’t catch a break from the people who are supposed to care about her and be her friend, and she spirals. It takes capture and near-death at the hands of the antagonist faction (I’m trying to avoid major spoilers here) to snap her out of it, force her to start feeling like herself again.

In short, Tris is a very dynamic character, and I continue to watch her pull herself out of the chaos around her.


At first glance, my roommate and I were extremely skeptical about Star-Crossed, one of the CW’s latest sci-fi creations. I mean, first of all, it comes from CW, which means it has to really impress me to get me to keep watching. Currently, we only watch Vampire Diaries and The Originals on that station. Granted, we were less than impressed with the first couple episodes of this show. It was hard to see where it was trying to go. But I kept at it (because I’m a sucker for sci-fi romance, ok? Deal with it), and I think it’s actually turned out pretty interesting. Before I go on, though, I’d like to point out that things are not looking good for a second season of Star-Crossed.

Once again, this show is set in the future, but only by ten years (it’s 2024). In 2014, a spaceship full of Atrians (humanoid aliens with random black “tattoos” all over the place) crashes into Earth. Battle ensues, and humanity locks them up in a sector, much like District 9, where houses are made of box cars.

My roommate and I think this intense segregation would not really be our first reaction to a bunch of humanoid aliens showing up. The Atrians crash landed – they weren’t intending to take over. But now that they’ve been segregated for ten years, some of them are a little pissed. Several of the leaders have their own agenda regarding humans, nevermind the fact that humans greatly outnumber them. But the story centers on two people – a human girl, Emery, and an Atrian guy, Roman – the origin of the name of the show. There’s a lot going on in this show at the point I’m at, but I want to focus on Emery.

At first she seemed like a delicate flower – in the hospital for most of her life because cancer (?), her first experience with public school is when she finally gets to leave the hospital and join the rest of society. But then she starts developing this relationship with Roman, and he pushes her away “to protect her” from the human-hating faction of Atrians, but he doesn’t properly explain himself. Eventually she comes out and says she doesn’t need protecting, it’s not what she wants out of a relationship. She shows time and time again that she’s brave enough to stand up for equality between Atrians and Humans, and yet he continues to try to keep her in the dark. To her credit, she tries to move on with someone else. Eventually, though, Roman gets the hint – she doesn’t need to be taken care of, she wants to be his equal. When he figures that out, they get to start again, and it’s a much healthier relationship than what they started with.

There are a lot of other things going on in this show that are beyond the scope of this post, but I just have to say I love all the interesting things they do with their native plants. The friendships that develop between these characters are really well done – things seem to progress naturally, and I really like how the younger generations especially are more open to friendships with the aliens. It’s not the best show ever, but I definitely like it. Also, Taylor is to Star-Crossed what Caroline is to Vampire Diaries. The popular girl doesn’t always have to be the stereotypical mean girl. Though it’s not focused on, it was implied at one point that the aliens are all bisexual, and the fact that most humans base their attraction on gender is laughable.


Yes, those are bodies falling out of the sky. The CW’s new show, The 100, is based on The Hundred by Kass Morgan. Sometime in the near future, humanity went through a nuclear war. A small fraction of humans survived on a space station, now called the Ark. 97 years later, the Ark is failing – there are too many humans to support. They made laws like only one child per family. If you were under 18 and broke any kind of law, you were locked up. If you were over 18 and broke a law – you got floated into the black.

The people in charge decide to send the 100 child prisoners to the ground, to see if they can survive. At first, it sound ridiculous – sending a bunch of teenagers to a radioactive-recovering Earth, and letting them fend for themselves. Honestly, I still struggle to get past the plausibility of that, mostly because what you’d expect really does happen. It’s chaotic. There are a few sensible people, and there are a few bull-headed assholes who just want control, and declare that there are no rules, which is rather contradictory. Six episodes in, they’ve started to rally together, and the intergroup chaos has died down a bit. But they’ve also encountered things like mutated deer, “grounders,” and glow-y things.

creepy mutated deer

Despite my problems with some of the decisions of the characters (if everyone on the space station is going to die anyway, why don’t they just send everyone to Earth to have a fighting chance at survival?), I find the premise pretty engaging. Like I said, I’m a sucker for sci-fi like this. But once again, I want to focus on Clarke, the main character. She hasn’t dazzled me with her personality yet, but she is the most mature person down on the ground, as far as I can tell. She starts a relationship with a boy on the ground, and when his girlfriend from the space station arrives, she steps back, completely understanding that he never expected to see his girlfriend again. Inevitably, the girlfriend finds out about them, and Clarke is very mature about what happened. Amazingly, they both move on (the boy is still hung up a bit on Clarke, so yes, there’s still drama, but the girls are ok). The problem I have with Clarke is that she almost seems too perfect. She’s always the voice of reason, she’s very mature for her age. In the last episode I saw, though, she finally had a mental breakdown, and it made her seem more like a real person. I’m surprised it took as long as it did – being stranded on a broken planet away from the only life you ever knew would be traumatizing. I have hope she’ll get more interesting. Granted, I haven’t read the books this show is based on, but that’s a project for this summer.

What I’m trying to get at with these three shows is that I’m seeing a more consistent trend of strong, mature young women emerge in popular culture. We’re catching on, especially on the CW, of all places. I’ve talked about this kind of thing in the context of the Vampire Diaries, which is full of strong female characters. These CW shows may not have the most coherent plots, but at least they’ve got female characters I can relate to. It’s a step in the right direction. Besides, Vampire Diaries turned out really well, I think. If you’ve got anything to add about these shows, or want to defend your favorite female heroes as well, feel free to do so in the comments!

More of this please!

Read Full Post »

As I mentioned in my last post (which was a guest post written by Jesi Lea Ryan, and you should check it out if you missed it), I haven’t updated in five months. I am in my first year earning my Masters of Science degree in geosciences, and I made the mistake of taking 12 credits. You see, I asked around if that was a good number, as that was a light load in undergrad. But, no one told me 12 was too many until I was already to far to back out. Not to mention I had to teach two Geology 101 lab classes of 25 students each – lab prep, 4 hours of teaching, hours of grading, writing exams… Plus I had to actually figure out what I wanted my thesis project to be.

You can imagine I was insanely busy. I tried to keep up with my blog pact (they have 9 members now! When we began it was only 3! And if I can keep it up I’ll make 10! We will be the 10 plagues of Egypt, and I am the rivers of blood, because vampires… but I digress.), but it only lasted for a couple weeks before I was too swamped and drained of energy to be creative.

But now, after the winter break, I have been able to recharge, and now I’m itching to write ALL THE THINGS.  Last Friday, my writing parter wrote a guest blog for me to promote her latest novel: Arcadia’s Curse, the second in a trilogy about a teenage empath. Then I talked to a couple of my writer friends, @mmjordahl and @centralcoven about our writing lives, and I found myself inspired! So, I’m going to do a trial run and see if I can get myself back into the blog pact by the end of February.

I have to grade things all the time. Especially right now, as I’m teaching a three-week winter session geology 101 lab – I have to teach a different lab every day, including set-up every morning. In order to stay on top of grading, I have to grade every day. Grading, as I’m sure many teachers will tell you, is rather tedious. It’s not that I don’t enjoy teaching – I actually have a lot of fun doing this. But grading, as it is extremely repetitive (30 students, 5-10 graded pages a day), is tedious. So, in order to alleviate the boredom I sometimes feel while grading, I watch television. A LOT of television. Grading takes a couple hours a day. You get the idea.

A couple weeks ago I decided to give Scandal a try. Kerry Washington won an award for it, after all – perhaps it wasn’t as much of a soap opera as I feared.

Turns out I was right (at least by my standards). If you’ve ready my earlier posts, you’ll know that I love Revenge, despite the fact that it is TOTALLY a primetime soap opera (I’ll compare these two as they’re both on ABC). Sure, Scandal has soap opera-y moments (I mean, the main character is having an on-again, off-again affair with the President of the United States), and it is full of scandals, the mood of the show is completely different from Revenge. There is a much higher level of humor written into the script, and delivered perfectly by the cast. The music lightens the mood a lot of the time as well (something that is completely lacking in Revenge). While I love a few of the main characters on Revenge, I actually love all of the main characters on Scandal. Olivia Pope is having an affair with the POTUS, true, but she is incredibly conflicted about it. Sometimes she’s strong enough to rise above their impossible situation, and stand up for herself (honestly I think the POTUS is a terrible person and the King of Mixed Messages when it comes to Miss Pope. If the writers want me to hope for their eventual happy ending, they’re doing a terrible job of it). Other times the POTUS lures her in with promises which he later breaks. I only hope that she’ll learn soon. (I’ve only seen the first 2 seasons! No spoilers!)

So that’s the soap-opera side of the story. In addition to that we have the political side that reminds me of the kinds of things that happen on The West Wing. In fact, Scandal inspired me to try watching The West Wing again, and so far I love it. So if you like political drama, this is a good show for you.

Olivia Pope is a badass. She’s a fixer, not a lawyer. Rich people bring her problems, standard and obscure scandals, and she finds a way to fix them. But that’s not all she does – that’s just her job. She also takes care of people, people who made mistakes, people who got framed for terrible crimes they didn’t commit, people who lost their way. She and her associates call themselves “Gladiators in Suits,” and that’s pretty much what they are. They are afraid sometimes, but they face their fear, and when they’re in trouble, they solve their own problems and help each other. These characters are three-dimensional, each with their own backstory, their own motivations, and their own loyalties.

The other thing I love about this show is that it passes the Bechdel test! Half the cast is female, half the cast is male, and the women talk to each other all the time about things other than men. Oh, and did I mention there’s a fantastic gay couple that isn’t just the “token” gay couple? They have normal married couple problems, they aren’t just flaunted for ratings. They struggle with the decision to have a baby, they struggle with their jobs – one is the advisor to the President, and the other is a reporter. They just happen to both be men.

I honestly can’t remember why I was so skeptical about this show before. I think perhaps the previews and ads didn’t do it justice. They focused too much on the affair, and not the rest of the show. Scandal is dynamic, has great characters, and just the right amount of humor. I say it’s my new guilty pleasure, but I think it’s better than that. It’s good television.

Read Full Post »