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Television Tuesday :: 2014 in television (some missed opportunities and some positive things)

30 Dec

Missed opportunities

Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Adilyn (Bailey Noble)
Because while I was mad at gorram True Blood from the get-go thanks to the Tara (Rutina Wesley) situation that I’ve already discussed at length, the first episode at least did have one situation with promise, the one with Jessica and Adilyn.  While I still hate what happened to the other Bellefleur girls (I think I care about the auxiliary Bellefleur girls more than everyone else in fandom combined, and I’ve come to terms with this fact, but but aren’t they a missed opportunity too wouldn’t you watch the shit out of a show about baby fairies who embody tumblr and look at the world through fresh eyes and therefore are optimistic about most things while also not understanding manners 100% of the time and I’ve spent too much time thinking about this I’m so sorry) I hate more that this situation was never really resolved.  Jessica felt guilty and swore to protect Adilyn, then after Adilyn was drawn into the actual most horrible kidnap scene they… didn’t say anything to each other ever again.  Adilyn didn’t even attend Jessica’s bullshit wedding, despite the fact that it was in the daytime and Adilyn’s father was presiding over it.  What could have been an interesting, complicated friendship (with undertones?) was basically a plot device that was thrown to the side in favor of both girls getting shoehorned into unnecessary heterosexual romantic relationships that consumed their entire characters.

the entirety of Sons of Anarchy, tbh
Sons was never my favorite show, but it didn’t used to annoy me as much as it did by its final season.  And maybe some of that was just that I was blindingly mad about the Tara (Maggie Siff) situation, or that I got increasingly frustrated that I couldn’t play “how is it Hamlet” nearly as well, or maybe it was just that when every episode is two hours long it stops meaning anything that they’re that long, or maybe I don’t know anymore, but it just felt so unnecessarily drawn out.  Also increasingly sentimentalist and with an increasingly laughable score.  “I think Sons might have been better served as a three season show,” I mused, causing one of my people to berate me for questioning the creator’s artistic vision, but it stands.

all of these dead people
All of them.  Even the ones on shows I don’t technically watch.  Special shoutout to Amber Mills (Natalie Hall), who for some reason I am also really bitter about, because I mean, Sarah Newlin’s black sheep-y vampire sister could have been such an interesting storyline and… nothing.  Also, obviously, Isabelle (Lucy Lawless).  Poor thing.

the damn Orson’s beetles scene
You know.  The one before Tyrion’s (Peter Dinklage) trial where he talks to his brother Jaime (Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) about his cousin Orson smashing beetles.  And it lasts for something like four minutes and it does absolutely nothing to further the plot in my read.  This has actually become a thing with my mom and I: pointless scenes happen in media and we turn to each other and say “Orson’s beetles.”  It’s a code.  And anyway it’s a missed opportunity because that scene is, uh, not about Orson’s beetles in the books, it’s about something important that they just sort of ignored in the show and I’m not sure how that’s going to play out in the future and that scares me.

Positive things

sometimes SHIELD and ladies
It’s had its failures and its questionable moments as regard ladies (see also the above dead people collage) but when it gets things right, it really gets things right.  Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge) saving everyone else and herself with her porcelain-ivory-steel-skinned resolve and her scientific knowhow?  Melinda (Ming-Na Wen) kicking all of the ass (hey remember that time she made a joke about how she was always on top when she and Ward [Brett Dalton] banged while beating his ass I do) and also being an important supportive figure to the entire team but especially Skye (Chloe Bennet)?  Skye growing from awestruck mouthy hacker baby to capable snarky take-no-shit agent to honest to gods superhero?  Raina (Ruth Negga) who was originally supposed to be a one-off character becoming this compelling-as-hell not quite villainous queen of moral gray areas and wide-eyed faith?  Thank you, guys.

the following Game of Thrones things

  • Oberyn (Pedro Pascal) taking time out of his busy bisexual orgy schedule to explain bisexuality (and his bisexuality specifically) to Olyvar the boywhore (Will Tudor).
  • Varys (Conleth Hill) taking time out of his busy confusing scheming schedule to explain his asexuality to Oberyn.
  • Oberyn in general.  Pretty much all of his stuff was perfect.
  • Ygritte’s (Rose Leslie) death scene.  I mean, I know that scene in the book inside and out, so there were lines I missed (why, why, why did they go to the trouble of including the “is that a castle?” “no, it’s a windmill” part in season three if they didn’t have Ygritte asking Jon [Kit Harington] “is this a castle?” while she was dying in his arms) but overall it was well handled and I wasn’t disappointed.
  • Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and their out-of-nowhere crush thing.  Normally it would annoy me if they wrote crushes in that weren’t book canon, especially because in the books Missandei is a ten-year-old, but this was handled tactfully and sweetly and also, if by default, is an asexual romance!
  • The rest of this list.

–your fangirl heroine.

taking no shit today thank you


Fictional Friday :: 5 more x4 women I’d like to invent an alternate canon for

3 Oct

What can I say, this keeps being relevant.  You’ll notice that all but one of these ladies was on the cover of my recent fanmix, “Our Revolution is Long Overdue,” because that’s… honestly sort of the point.

5. Adilyn & Braelyn & Charlaine & Danika Bellefleur (Bailey Noble, Natalie Dreyfuss, Hannah Kasulka, Jordan Monaghan, True Blood)
I said last time I did one of these lists that they needed the context of the show.  I’ve since decided that’s not true, or at least it’s flexibly true to the extent that I don’t care anymore.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the fandom who actually gives this much of a damn about the Bellefleur girls (who I’m including as one list item because they do need each other) but I really, really truly do.  Partially just on principle, because introducing four girls to kill three of them off and then drag the other one through the muck as angstfodder for (well, Jessica [Deborah Ann Woll] and) a father-shaped dude?  Lame.  But also because if given the opportunity, the Bellefleur girls could actually be tumblr.  Hipster fairy princesses all.  Flowers and glitter and laser hands galore. Am I the only person who would watch that show?  Probably, but I don’t care.  It should happen.

4. Collette Jane (Kim Dickens, Sons of Anarchy)
How angry am I that Colette (and apparently every one of the escorts at the escort service) got murdered?  Very angry.  Even though it was mostly just by default of her being Kim Dickens i.e. also my Joanie darling, Colette was one of the only characters in the show’s universe that I still care about (and considering that Maureen and Trinity Ashby [Paula Malcomson and Zoe Boyle] are still over in Belfast, I doubt they’ll be brought into the remaining plot, so at least they’re safe.  Now watch, someone’s going to fly to Belfast and shoot them.  Sorry, Maureen and Trinity) and what’s more, it’s the answer to a question I was recently asked by one of my people.  Gosh, it reads like such a gross question, but here it is: “how many dead prostitutes are too many dead prostitutes?”  It’s almost a trick question, though, because the answer is any dead prostitutes are too many dead prostitutes. Or escorts.  Whatever, for the purpose of this it’s all the same.  Just because a woman’s profession involves the pleasure of men (or women, I don’t know, I never saw any female clients at Diosa but there might have been) does not mean that they are disposable.  It’s kind of like prostitutes are the redshirts of crime fiction, and that’s not okay.  Anyway, that’s a rant.  I’d like to watch a story about Colette by herself.  I assume it would just be her taking care of the girls in her employ and whatnot, but that would be nice.

3. Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter, Breaking Bad)
Hooooooly crap.  I just watched her final episodes tonight and was working very consciously to not scream.  I didn’t like Walter White (Bryan Cranston) to begin with, but now I really don’t like him.  What he did was a horrible thing and Jane deserved better than only existing as Jesse Pinkman’s (Aaron Paul) manic pixie dream drug girl.  I would watch a story about her being a tattoo artist and actually coping with her drug addiction any day.  I would watch a story where she wasn’t dead any day.  She interests me.

2, 1.  Victoria Hand and Isabelle Hartley (Saffron Burrows and Lucy Lawless, Agents of SHIELD)
We were talking today and the idea of a series of undercover assignments and other secret agent miscellany starring these lovely ladies came up.  It seems important.  They’d be awesome and kick ass and take names and pass the Bechdel test and kiss each other and kick bad guys’ asses.  They’d travel the world and fix things and then kiss each other more.  They’d wear excellent suits and occasionally get dolled up to go to fancy parties because sometimes being undercover requires that and then they’d kiss each other more.  Also, they’d kiss each other and nobody would ever make a deal of it.  That’s important too.

–your fangirl heroine.

shut up gross person

Television Tuesday :: No Trope Bingo, featuring season 7 of True Blood

26 Aug

So!  It’s time to look at the No Trope Bingo cards and this season of True Blood.  It’s… shocking, to say the least.  Almost as if Brian Buckner et al actually sat down with these cards and went “how much can we fit in?”

R1C1, Bechdel fail: the first few episodes of the season passed the Bechdel test pretty well.  Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) talking to Adilyn (Bailey Noble), Willa (Amelia Rose Blaire) talking to Lettie Mae (Adina Porter), etcetera.  But… then that devolved.  Almost every conversation Sookie (Anna Paquin) had with another woman exclusively was about Alcide (Joe Manganiello) or Bill (Stephen Moyer), suddenly Jess’ conversations fell into the same trap, etcetera.  The last episode did pass thanks to a scene between Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) and Sarah Newlin (Anna Camp), but.
R1C2, disregarded logic: otherwise known as everything.  But this is a good place to bring up the most glaring continuity error: in episode nine of this season, Jessica asked Bill to release her, but… Bill had actually already released her.  In season three, episode eight, “Night on the Sun.”  I’d actually recently looked this up just for other reasons and when this took place I twitched so much, then looked it up again just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating.
R1C3, underused/invisible POC: well, they killed Tara (Rutina Wesley) off in the first five minutes of the season.  For some reason they spent more time with Lettie Mae than they have in the entire rest of the show, and Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) did get dragged into that as well as have a… horrible bisexual love triangle, but he wasn’t hardly in the last few episodes.  All Nicole (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) did was get kidnapped and talk about being pregnant/having a baby.
R1C4, dead family manpain: primarily fulfilled by Bill’s ridiculously tedious flashbacks to the Civil War.
R1C5, invisible lesbians: or bi girls, or girls who are some stripe of queer.  Well, they killed Tara off in the first five minutes.  (They’d effectively nullified her relationship with Pam, and this also ended any potential for a relationship with Willa that was totally there, I mean seriously, just look at Willa’s face when she was talking about Tara.  Love comes in at the eyes.)  And while Pam had some lines about being queer, the closest she got to acting on it was expressing her initial approval of Amber (Natalie Hall).  Also I read an interview with Bailey Noble where she said something along the lines of “well, Adilyn was originally supposed to be a lesbian, I don’t know what happened to that idea.  (nervous laughter)”  It all adds up.

R2C1, vicious female rivalry: a little bit Amber and Sarah (though that was with reason), primarily fulfilled by Violet (Karolina Wydra) and Jessica.
R2C2, ho-yay: primarily fulfilled by Jason (Ryan Kwanten) and his completely pointless, gratuitous sex dream about Eric (Alexander Skarsgard) at the beginning of the season (despite the fact that it had been at least six months since Jason had Eric’s blood and in the past that particular effect of vampire blood had never lasted that long).
R2C3, infectious diseases: was the hep V the Big Bad of the season?  I just don’t know.  It was certainly the Big Pain in the Ass.
R2C5, dead little girls: mostly just in reference to that element of Adilyn and Andy’s (Chris Bauer) previous season’s experiences.

R3C1, sexualized violence: I am still so furious about the scenes in Violet’s sex dungeon oh my goodness.
R3C5, fridging: they killed Tara off in the first five minutes.

R4C1, gratuitous sex: Jason and Violet banging on the cop car.  Jason and Eric banging in his ho-yay dream.  Eric and his French girl banging in the flashbacks.  Jason and Jessica banging at Sookie’s party that she didn’t want to have (which could have turned out to not be gratuitous, but given the way the plot dramatically switched after that it was).  Violet blowing Jason in their house.  Bill and Sookie’s sex scene that lasted just way too long.  Jessica and Hoyt’s (Jim Parrack) sex scene that lasted just way too long.  Etcetera.
R4C2, inappropriate male attention: in addition to the sketch attention that Sookie gets from strange male vampires always, I just marked this off because Bill’s attention always feels inappropriate.
R4C4, infidelity: James (Nathan Parsons) with Lafayette cheating on Jessica.  Jason with Jessica cheating on Violet.  Hoyt with Jessica cheating on Bridget (who’s not listed on imdb, and I don’t want to go searching through articles that are just going to make me sad to find the actress’ name).

R5C1, conscious irresponsibility: I also mark this square off just because Bill.  He’s willing to say to Sookie, “I hurt you,” but he doesn’t ever actually say what else he’s done wrong.  Allegedly he wrote a book, and other characters mention things from it, but it seems mostly to exist as a way for characters to know things that happened previously in canon that they weren’t present for.
R5C2, narrative neglect: THEY KILLED TARA OFF IN THE FIRST FIVE MINUTES.  Also, once the plotlines they’d been dragged into wrapped up, any notable number of characters just… weren’t present anymore, or were only present in a sideline/background context, despite there being every reason for them to be (the most obvious victim of this is Willa, who was only in about half of the episodes this season; this also happened to Lafayette and James, somewhat to Adilyn and her stepbrother-boyfriend [confession: my DVR’d recording cut off after a proper hour of programming, shortly after Nicole and Sam’s [[Sam Trammell]] daughter disembarked from their van, so if anything happened after that I don’t know and I don’t care enough to go looking]).
R5C4, narratively excused sociopathy: another one I mark off largely just because Bill, honestly.
R5C5, love triangles: AHAHAHAHA.  Alcide-Sookie-Bill.  There’s the everpresent tease of Eric-Sookie-Bill.  Jessica-James-Lafayette (which is my least favorite of them, because honestly, throwing the bisexual guy into the love triangle is actually the worst).  Violet-Jason-Jessica.  Jason-Jessica-Hoyt(-Bridget who then – back to Jason).

R1C2, narratively excused intolerance: well, there’s plenty of narratively discussed intolerance, but also… not.  The whole thing with the fellowly WOC townswoman goading Kenya (Tanya Wright) into doing violence against supernaturals by saying that Sheriff Andy disrespects her for being a black woman didn’t sit well with me, because the handling made it feel like it was trivializing the issue of such biases, for example.
R1C3, lack of POC: again, killing Tara off is a big part of it.
R1C4, general male brooding: see also, Bill Compton.
R1C5, lack of queer people: again, killing Tara off is a big part of it.

R2C1, narratively enforced gender policing: primarily fulfilled by the ways that Violet taunted Jason about how in her (vaguely historical) time men were men, men didn’t feel things, he was being too soft.
R2C2, compulsive heteroeroticism: see also, the finale in which inexplicably everyone was married and/or having babies.  Somehow a vampire drama turned into my Facebook newsfeed.
R2C3, crazy inbred hillbillies: well, not hillbillies, but definitely bigoted townsfolk were the little-bads for a couple of episodes.
R2C4, slut shaming: primarily fulfilled by comments thought about Sookie by townsfolk and said about Adilyn by Holly (Lauren Bowles) (who then did apologize, but still).
R2C5, children as plot devices: primarily fulfilled by Nicole and Sam’s unborn baby and then by… the finale in which inexplicably everyone was married and/or having babies.

R3C1, police brutality: primarily fulfilled by the aforementioned instance of Kenya being swayed to the dark side of bigoted townsolk.
R3C2, love interest syndrome: poor Sookie, the protagonist of the show, was narratively treated as little more than who she was banging.

R4C2, excused unwanted overtures: also marked mainly because Bill.
R4C3, forgive your abusers: Sookie and also Jessica re: Bill.  The entire plotline with Lettie Mae and Tara’s “ghost” (which, are you kidding me, seriously, no that is not the thing).  Etcetera.
R4C4, compulsive motherhood: the finale in which inexplicably everyone was married and/or having babies.
R4C5, “don’t do the brave thing”: somewhat Alcide re: Sookie.  Somewhat Nicole re: Sam.

R5C1, (evil) white guy redemption arc: see also, Bill Compton.
R5C2, narrative double standard: there are also ways to apply this to Bill Compton, I’m sure.  And so many other things.  I’m too tired to get into it.
R5C3, women as plot devices: Nicole.  Adilyn.  Amber Mills.  Poor dead Tara.

There were 6/24 squares free on each card.  So 3/4 of each card was filled.  Seven bingos were achieved.

–your fangirl heroine.

shut up gross person

Television Tuesday :: the 2013 “no” trope/plot device list, part one

17 Dec

Disclaimer: these plot devices (or plot failings) often belong to films and whatnot as well, but in the grand tradition of TV Tropes, I’m talking about them as relate to television tonight, because this year… this year has not been my favorite.  Pretty much everything I love hurt me at least a little bit.  And a lot of it was exceptionally problematic!  So let’s get started.  These are only examples from some of the shows I watch, and I’d love to hear examples from others if anyone has them.

5. Custody battles
You know, when a child character’s main function is to be a source of conflict for their guardian adults with regards to who gets to care and be responsible for said child.  As seen this year with:
Sons of Anarchy, Gemma (Katey Sagal) and Jax (Charlie Hunnam) vs. Tara (Maggie Siff) as pertains to Abel and Thomas.  I haven’t finished watching the season yet so don’t spoil, please.
True Blood, Sam (Sam Trammell) vs. Martha (Dale Dickey) and/or the werewolf pack as pertains to Emma (Chloe Noelle).
Boardwalk Empire, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) vs. Julia (Wrenn Schmidt) as pertains to Tommy (Brady and Connor Noon).

4. Dead little girls
The convenient plot device where you introduce little girls just to kill them off (or at least harm them) to create angst of their parent figure.  As seen this year with:
The Walking Dead, little Meghan (Meyrick Murphy) dying for Lilly’s (Audrey Marie Anderson) angst.
True Blood, Braelyn/Charlaine/Danika dying for Andy’s (Chris Bauer) angst (and Adilyn’s [Bailey Noble]).  And this still counts because although they were in the bodies of teenagers, they were less than a week old.

3.  Dead prostitutes, etcetera
Because apparently, women who have sex are still disposable.  As seen this year with:
Game of Thrones, my poor darling Ros (Esme Bianco).
Sons of Anarchy, Erin (Suzanne Schmidt) that the Toric (Donal Logue) killed.
Magic City, Judi Silver (Elena Satine) just to put the cap on an already uncomfortable season ender.

2.  Infectious diseases
Really, any epidemic-related plotline.  I’m so over it.  As seen this year with:
True Blood, regarding hep V (and what it did to my Nora [Lucy Griffiths], which was then incompatible with what it did to the vampires who drank the contaminated TruBlood, but whatever).
The Walking Dead, regarding whatever screwed up mutated virus took the prison for a loop (and especially what it did to my dear Glenn [Steven Yeun]).
Agents of SHIELD, regarding episode 6, “FZZT,” with the Chitauri virus (and what it almost did to my Jemma [Elizabeth Henstridge]).

1. Narrative negligence regarding entire characters
Again, usually women.  I don’t know why this year thought it was okay to either just forget about characters or write them off just ‘cause they didn’t want to deal with their plotline anymore (or both) but that did definitely happen.  As seen this year with:
True Blood, wherein both of those things happened to my Nora, where the second happened to both Luna (Janina Gavankar) and Braelyn/Charlaine/Danika (and actually, all of the other fairies at the fairy club, too).  Like I’ve already said.
Mad Men, which I’ve already written an essay about.
Boardwalk Empire, where despite being in the main credits Kelly Macdonald’s Margaret didn’t even show up till five episodes into the season.

–your fangirl heroine.

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