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Posts Tagged ‘urban fantasy’

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.

thealmightyjohnsons

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.

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Arcadia's choice

Arcadia’s Choice, the 3rd part of the Arcadia trilogy by Jesi Lea Ryan came out last week, and I was given an advanced review copy! I tried to finish it for last week’s blog post, but school makes reading fast rather difficult. So, here I am finally with my review!

Let me start by saying I absolutely adore Arcadia (Cady) Day. She’s the kind of heroine I wish I saw more often in YA novels. Cady struggles to understand the difference between what she wants, and what she needs, and when it’s ok to put herself before others. Considering she’s a compassionate empath, this is considerably more difficult that it might be for a regular person. Cady also reminds me a lot of myself – she wants to make everyone happy, and that is an impossible task, something she learns throughout the trilogy. I enjoyed watching Cady grow as a character during this series, and every time she made a smart, strong female character-like decision, I felt proud of her. She goes through some really crazy things in this story, and comes out of it all strong. Her characters ends up in a totally different place from where she starts. Not so secretly, I’m hoping we’ll get to visit her world again in the future, but I’m content with the story as it ends.

Now, as for this book all by itself (I mean, obviously you should read the first two books before you read this one, but this is a book review, after all) – lots of things happen. It almost feels too busy, but everything happens for a very specific reason, and it all leads to Cady figuring out what she wants to do with her life after this part of her story is over. It’s fast-paced, and it’s exciting, and everything from the first two books gets resolved with plenty of surprises along the way. Some things I predicted, but just as many of them I didn’t see coming. I would happily hang out with these characters for another whole trilogy if given the chance.

I will say there is a bit of a love triangle, but it’s a subplot, and it becomes clear who the decoy really is early on in this book (if you hadn’t figured it out in the second one – which really, you should have, because Cady is NO Bella Swan). Honestly, there’s so much going on it’s a wonder she even has time to deal with it, but she does, and she’s mature about it, and takes care of herself. Cady is an excellent role model for young adult women. I can’t wait for my sister to be old enough to read these books!

As for the empathy – I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love how unique this story is. The supernatural element is a variety of psychics, which is refreshing in a world full of vampires and werewolves (don’t get me wrong – I love those too, but sometimes I like something a bit different). It actually reminds me a bit of a young adult, less-dark-humor version of Carolyn Crane’s Disillusionist trilogy (I also highly recommend that series).

So, if you’re sick of vampires, love young adult urban fantasy, and want to read about a fantastic, mentally strong female character, I highly recommend the Arcadia series. The finale does not disappoint!

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My allergies have been slowly trying to kill me all weekend, so I’m going to try to keep this short so I can go to bed ASAP.

Today I want to tell you about 3 TV shows I love, and the top 3 reasons I love each of them. If you’re looking for a new show to watch, perhaps you’ll find one here.

Before I tell you what these shows are, these are the top 3 reasons I love them:

1. They repeatedly pass the Bechdel Test. Each of these shows features at least four female leads and they all have conversations that don’t revolve around men. The shocking part? Two of these three shows are American (the third is Canadian). Perhaps this is a sign that we are learning.

2. They all have a fairly evenly-split cast between men and women. For a while, this was tough to find. Most television shows lean more toward the male-dominant side of the scale. This balance makes the show more well-rounded.

3. The main characters of all of these are badass women with agency. Need I say more?

These fabulous shows are: *raises curtain*

Lost Girl

Lost Girl

Lost Girl is a Canadian show (Showcase in Canada, Syfy in US) about a succubus who discovers what she is quite by accident. In so doing, she discovers a whole world of supernatural creatures from all kinds of folklore. Her best friend is a snarky little human named Kenzie, and Bo, the succubus, is caught up in a love triangle with Lauren and Dyson (oh yeah, she’s totally bisexual, and it’s no big deal, because Canada is great). In this supernatural world, every person must choose a side – light or dark. At the beginning of the series, Bo gives a big FU to everyone, and refuses to choose a side. Of course, most of her friends are on the light side, but whatever. She didn’t want to follow archaic rules – she just wants to live the life she chooses. Each season has overarching plots, and the episodes are often crime-mystery subplots. The writing is fantastic, as is the acting, and Bo is quite possibly the most realistic badass lady I have ever seen on television.

Revenge

Revenge

Revenge is about a young woman named Emily Thorn who has gone through an extensive amount of training to exact revenge on the people who ruined her life. She wants to avenge her father, who was framed by his wealthy employers and their terrorist friends. When I first heard about this show, I thought it was a really cheesy plot. And yes, I suppose there is a certain element of soap opera-ness to Revenge that I choose to ignore. Overall, I think the writing is quite good, and the plot thickens with each season. The acting is definitely better than a soap opera at any rate. Also, if you are obsessed with all tech-genuis characters – this one has a great one. I named my laptop after him. He’s snarky and complicated and fun.

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries

The Vampire Diaries was created to feed off the new popularity that the Twilight series had brought to vampires. I will admit, it takes a few episodes to find its footing, but once it does – it blows Twilight out of the water. Yes, there is a love triangle (I am a huge fan of those – Revenge has one too, but it’s not a focus of the store as much as it is in Lost Girl and TVD), but TVD is absurdly filled with plot. Every season builds off of the one before it – it’s always exciting to see what will happen next. There are very few “filler” episodes in this series, it’s that intense. The writing is brilliant, especially when the two brothers get to banter at each other. But Elena is the star of the show. She is such an amazing protagonist I hardly know where to begin. Everything she does is driven by a need to keep her family and loved ones safe. She’s not driven by an obsession with a boy. She doesn’t even want to BE a vampire. Ever. But she’s cool with being in love with one (or two?). Against the advice of the men in her life, she will often take matters into her own hands. She HATES being taken care of, or protected. She’s not a badass fighter the way Emily Thorn and Bo are, at least, not at first, because she is, after all, just a teenage girl. Her friend Caroline is equally, if not more, awesome. They knock her down and she comes back stronger every time. Here in this show there are two female characters who repeatedly step up and take care of their own problems, and it’s very empowering to watch. These girls are excellent role models for teens.

 

There are, of course, a few other shows I watch that are awesome for the same reasons – Warehouse 13, for example (though that show might actually have a few more female characters than male characters). But if you’re looking for something new, check one of these out, and I hope you’ll like them for the same reasons I do.

Currently Reading: Gameboard of the Gods, by Richelle Mead. This is very different for Mead, but I do see her background in comparative religion all over this. I am not very far into it, but what I’ve read I definitely like.

Currently listening to: The wind blowing outside the door. I think it’s time for bed.

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