Tag Archives: justified

Television Tuesday :: 2015 and the No Trope Bingo cards

22 Dec

notropebingo

notropebingo2

I don’t watch that many shows anymore.  (By that many, I mean I watched less than ten in first run this year, somehow.)  So I’m not going to take you through a play-by-play of the No Trope Bingo cards.  I just did a tentative drawing-up of which boxes I saw get marked and here are the ones I’ve seen the most (featured in some way or another in 5+ shows.)

Lack of queer people: I’m trying to think of openly queer characters and all I’m coming up with is sweet puppy Joey (Juan Pablo Raba) on SHIELD and Dorian (Reeve Carney) and Angelique (Jonny Beauchamp) on Penny Dreadful.

Similarly…

Compulsive heteroeroticism: SHIELD WHY.  Rest of the shows I watched, also why, but mostly this is a time to yell at SHIELD.

Narrative double standard: a good way to look at this is what constitutes a happy ending for characters.  I’m looking at you, Mad Men, where women seemed to have to choose between romantic happiness and professional happiness, if they got happiness at all, but dumb boys got to have it all.  But this is true in many places.

Women as plot devices: Betty Draper (January Jones).  Raylan’s infant daughter on Justified.  Kara Lynn Palamas (Maya Stojan).  The Game of Thrones rage-inducing baby trio of Sansa (Sophie Turner), Shireen (Kerry Ingram), and Myrcella (Nell Tiger Free).  Etcetera.

Uneven f::m ratio: sadly, the only new thing I watched this year with more women than men was Carmilla and that’s a webseries.  Virtually nothing had equally gender-split casts, though The Librarians‘ 2::3 main cast ratio is pretty good.

Looks like we’ve got more work to do, television.

–your fangirl heroine.

intense20skepticism

 

 

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Superlative Sunday :: my thoughts on the Critics’ Choice TV Awards

31 May

I watch a grand total of two things that won anything in this award show, and one of them I watch under duress and I don’t want to ruin your nights talking about my antipathy for Silicon Valley because it’s not worth doing except to say that it feels to me like an R-rated tech/corporate Big Bang Theory where the best thing I can say for it is that the token female is not, at least, constantly teased for being too stupid to understand things.

Justified, despite having a pretty damn excellent final season and being nominated for many things, only won for Sam Elliott’s guest turn.I don’t know anymore.

–your fangirl heroine.

oh bloody hell

Television Tuesday :: Justified.

14 Apr

I’ve been watching Justified since it began, and like… just about everything that I’ve been watching for the past bunch of years, it’s just come to an end.  (I feel like there is some great significant life feeling to be had here, but honestly, most of my shows that have already ended I’ve been ready to see them go given how things have turned out I’m really not kidding I’m not getting over True Blood I’m really sorry you guys.)  I know I don’t talk about it much, because I just… don’t.  It’s always been a consistent source of enjoyment for me, though, not my most favorite but not my least favorite by far.

Now, my people and I started watching this show because of one reason, and that reason is Timothy Olyphant.  We love him from Deadwood and we think it’s completely hilarious that he seems to only play two varieties of role (psycho criminal and law enforcement officer) and we just… love him.  (Doesn’t hurt that my mother and I can agree on him being a rather becoming fellow.)  And to be sure, he’s always been in fine form on Justified: Raylan is a much snarkier asshole than Seth (who, bless him, is also a bit of an asshole at times, but in a different way) and rather more openly philandering, he’s got a wryer sense of humor and less of a werewolf guilt complex, but nonetheless he’s interesting enough that I’ve never begrudged him his existence like I’ve gradually started to do with, say, Don Draper.  I’ve rolled my eyes at him sometimes (his ineffable penchant for blondes, for example) but I’ve usually at least liked him overall.

He’s not the reason I stuck around, though.  While I think that Walton Goggins’ Boyd is masterfully acted and written, and Joelle Carter’s Ava has always been compelling, it’s a few of the side characters that have held my attention most.  Though Loretta (Kaitlyn Dever) was really a tertiary character, mostly tethered to the second and last seasons, I always had a fondness for her, probably because I have this residual fondness for sassy teenage girls that comes from my days of being a teenage girl who desperately wanted to be sassy.

The great joys of the show for me have always been Tim (Jacob Pitts) and Rachel (Erica Tazel), though.  Raylan’s fellow deputy marshals, they’ve always been a grounding force for the narrative, and a source of blessed sass of different ways as well.  Tim is this gift of a man, completely snarky and oddly self-aware, never gross, just brilliant; Rachel takes no shit from anyone and runs this town and she’s a WOC high-ranking law enforcement officer whose plot was always her own.  The greatest disappointment of this show for me has always been that there hasn’t been enough Tim and Rachel.

And as a finale episode?  Well, I admit that I was expecting it to follow the tradition of late: semi-tragic white man sacrifices himself for… something in the show’s final scenes.  (No, but seriously.  It’s the Breaking Bad formula.  Also followed at the least by True Blood and Sons.  Probably by other things.)  I was expecting shootouts and deaths, at least one that would make me angry.  Instead, I got things handled by proper legal procedure, then a Four Years Later (which, I admit, when I saw that I actually groaned, because I am exhausted with time jumps) that actually wound up being sort of sweet and slightly implication-filled in a way I wouldn’t have predicted but that actually makes sense the more I think about it.

So, good job, show.  You never disappointed.

–your fangirl heroine.

sunshine smile

Television Tuesday :: 2014 and the Bechdel test

16 Dec

At least in regards to the shows I watch, which again can be found here.

So as I’ve mentioned before, I kept track of TV seasons that started this year and whether or not they passed the Bechdel test.  I can’t promise I have an exact tally, but this is what I found.

  • In season two (I didn’t count during season one because the season started last year and since I hadn’t started counting then the tally would be inaccurate) Agents of SHIELD has so far passed the Bechdel test every episode.  Sometimes it’s kind of a sketchy pass (i.e. episode nine, “Ye Who Enter Here,” when the conversation between Skye [Chloe Bennet] and Raina [Ruth Negga] did involve Skye’s father but touched on non-Skye’s father subjects for at least thirty seconds) but it’s a pass each time.  Thank the gods for Skye, because a majority of the passes were due to scenes of hers: her and Raina (how thrilled am I about her and Raina in general?  Pretty damn thrilled, honestly), her and May (Ming-Na Wen), her and Jemma (Elizabeth Henstridge).  (Actually, all of those relationships are ones I’m thrilled about.)  Also of note is episode three, “Making Friends and Influencing People,” where the Bechdel test is smashed into tiny pieces with the multitude of interactions between Skye and May and also Jemma and Bobbi (Adrianne Palicki).  Thumbs up, y’all.
  • As SHIELD goes, I will cite a first example of times that women talk about a man but it mattered a lot: that conversation in episode nine between Jemma and Bobbi that was about both of their respective man situations, kind of, because what that did was allowed Bobbi to represent for “Jemma’s side” of the situation, to give her reassurance that she does need, and allowed Jemma to finally get to tell her side of the story.
  • You know it’s a weird world when a show that is titled simply Girls can’t even pass the Bechdel test 100% of the time.  They did rate a respectable 88%, with the one episode that failed being because every conversation was about a man if I recall correctly, but still.  Wow.
  • As I mentioned before, Justified passed 66% of the time, which is still surprisingly often compared to some of the shows on my list.  And this is because Ava (Joelle Carter) went to ladyjail.  Every episode after Ava went to ladyjail passed, because ladyjail is one place where ladies are going to narratively have to speak to one another constantly and therefore some of it will be not just about men.
  • Game of Thrones and True Blood both passed 40% of the time.  As Game of Thrones goes, good job Melisandre (Carice van Houten) who was responsible for half of those passes (once with Shireen [Kerry Ingram], once with Selyse [Tara Fitzgerald]).  And as True Blood goes, well… the what-could-have-been with Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and Adilyn (Bailey Noble) is the most important one to me.  The rest I’ve chosen to push out of my mind because they dealt largely with plots that I loathed and represented nothing good that could have been.
  • A lot of the conversations about men in Game of Thrones are, while note test-passing, still revealing of things that may or may not be important narratively and may or may not just make me smile: Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), Margaery and Olenna (Diana Rigg), Margaery and Cersei (Lena Headey).  Also Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel).
  • Fargo, Mad Men, and Sons of Anarchy passed two times apiece; Penny Dreadful a sad one.  The new ridiculous TNT show The Librarians has passed 1/3 episodes so far, and I can pray that it picks up with that soon, as I’m praying that it picks up in other ways soon.
  • And as for total Bechdel test failures?  True Detective, From Dusk Till Dawn, Silicon Valley.  2/3 of which I was watching because other people really wanted to and I couldn’t get out of it.

–your fangirl heroine.

fidgeting

Television Tuesday :: 11+ examples of the “new kid” narrative device

20 May

By “new kid” stories, I mean shows that begin with a new character, who is usually the protagonist or one of the protagonists, physically moving to a new location (town, workplace, school, etcetera).  This obviously does not always apply to literal children, but like when a kid moves schools (or when anyone adjusts to a new sort of lifestyle) the character is either disoriented or disorienting.  I was going to do a post about the “logical outsider” narrative but then I was thinking about a very straightforward “new kid” story that I won’t be discussing here because it’s a movie, and that’s Mean Girls.  Yes, Cady represents the logical outsider in the story (observing what seems to her like a foreign culture through a very analytical framework) but she also turns into the catalyst, her presence setting off a chain of events that change everyone around her.

That’s what new kid narratives often do.  Either they help give the audience perspective (or provide the audience a self-insert character) or they spark a revolution that comprises the plot of the show or season.

For this list, I’m only dealing with new kid narratives that begin in season one (sometimes they start much later; Eric [Alexander Skarsgard] in season five of True Blood is a perfect example of the logical outsider, weirdly enough) but I’m covering both types.

11. American Horror Story
Actually, this has been true of every of the three seasons of this show, and since they’re all separate stories I will discuss them each separately.  Season one has the Harmon family moving into the murder house and Violet (Taissa Farmiga) has to move schools.  Her parents (Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton) both make adjustments, but it’s Violet who at least in my read shoulders most of the new kid narrative.  She meets a mysterious new boy (Evan Peters) and deals with a whole new set of rules, and then toward the end of the season the new kid narrative takes on another dimension as we find she’s also been thrown into a new (after)life.  Season two, Asylum, had Lana (Sarah Paulson) serving as the logical outsider in the world of the hospital, the logical outsider on a very basic level — she wasn’t crazy, and the others might not have been but she was very much not.  Season three, Coven, had Zoe (again, Taissa Farmiga) thrown into the world of the academy and also the world of being a witch and dealing with magic in the first place, and acting as the logical outsider by sometimes being confused by the traditions.

10. Elementary
I haven’t actually seen past season one of this yet, but any Holmes adaptation is a perfect example of the logical outsider narrative.  Whoever the Watson is (in this case, Lucy Liu) makes a physical and emotional transition and is thrown into the crazy world of mysteries and deduction that doesn’t really make that much sense by normal standards that Holmes (in this case, Jonny Lee Miller) inhabits and is left to translate what happens for us, the audience.  In this case, at least, Joan is also the catalyst, prompting Sherlock to work on himself and also prompting herself to make life changes.

9. Mad Men
Logical outsider situation in the extreme.  Through Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) we’re introduced to the office and the way it’s run, its context and its place in history; we’re introduced to the way that most of the characters behave.  Her role as logical outsider gradually lessens as we the audience become accustomed to the situation and as she becomes accustomed to the workplace she’s in, but given that the show’s first episode includes scenes of her being given a proper tour of the office by Joan (Christina Hendricks), it very much fits.

8. Dollhouse
This is only vaguely this, but it’s still an interesting point to make on this list: the literal new kid in the Dollhouse is Sierra (Dichen Lachman), who can’t herself be the logical outsider but whose presence asks the audience to be that for themselves, and the more direct logical outsider and fairly new kid, Boyd (Harry Lennix), is later revealed to be the Big Bad and have been faking his moral ambiguity and logic all along.  That’s a fairly rare twist.  And Echo (Eliza Dushku) often serves as the logical outsider, though she’s only a new kid in the sense of her slowly-developing independent consciousness.

7.  True Blood
Another less direct new kid narrative; Sookie (Anna Paquin) does not make any life changes at the start of the series, but life changes sort of find her.  She’s always known that she’s different and she’s been aware that the world is different for a while before the series begins, but the difference (vampires to begin with) crosses her path at the beginning and from them on, she’s being thrown into the world of the supernatural, learning about vampires (another purpose that the new kid narrative serves is that of providing the audience with a convenient excuse for a lot of exposition, which is especially useful when the story takes place in a world that’s different from our own, i.e. in a different time period or in a world that contains supernatural elements) and serving as the logical outsider in regards to vampire customs and vampire-human dealings as well.  By season’s end, we have the first creation of a baby vamp, that of Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll), and eh, it’s still season one and for a lot of the rest of the series Jessica serves as a semi-logical outsider in the show as well.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is pure catalyst (as rather deconstructed in the season three episode “The Wish,” with a comment by Cordelia [Charisma Carpenter] highlighting the fact that if Buffy had never arrived in Sunnydale everything and everyone would be different).  It’s one of those cases where the fact that she ushers in all sorts of weirdness when she arrives actually causes the people around her to be thrust into new situations, despite being surrounded by familiar people and places, and causes them to play the logical outsider at times.  The closest the show probably gets to the specific logical outsider is Oz (Seth Green), with his dry remarks that highlight how strange things are, but everyone serves that purpose at times.

5. Deadwood
But Seth (Timothy Olyphant) and Sol (John Hawkes) are pure logical outsiders.  Seth doesn’t intend to bring order to the camp, but we arrive in the camp when he does and so we can see how unruly it must look through his eyes.  Deadwood is a show where new kids arrive all the time, all of them bringing some new perspective, but Seth and Sol serve as the clearest logical outsiders, eventually but not immediately enacting change of various sorts based on what they observe.

4. Firefly
Simon (Sean Maher) is a fairly straightforward logical outsider especially as regards space travel and a life of crime, and River (Summer Glau) sometimes serves as one too, but by bringing River into the crew’s lives he/they serve as catalysts as well.  The life of crime continues but is simultaneously upended, leaving everyone to have to learn to make adjustments.  We also get glimpses of logical outsider from Book (Ron Glass) and Inara (Morena Baccarin), the other new (or newer) kids on the ship.

3. Justified
Closer to a catalyst than a logical outsider situation, certainly; the impression I’ve gotten from the way that Art (Nick Searcy) addresses Raylan (Timothy Olyphant) is that the marshals’ office used to be a straightforward workplace.  They handled cases, nothing horribly dramatic ever happened.  Then Raylan gets transferred back home and accidentally keeps dragging his coworkers into all sorts of criminal drama that’s loosely connected to his old acquaintances.

2. Agents of SHIELD
Another fun subversion, sort of.  All of the characters are new kids in a way: Coulson (Clark Gregg) is just forming the team.  He recruits May (Ming-Na Wen), we see Ward (Brett Dalton) being recruited as well (the fact that we see his recruitment and the sort of wry, flip comments he makes sort of make it seem like he’s going to be our logical outsider, or at least like he could be, which couldn’t be farther from the truth).  We don’t see it, but Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) have been recently recruited as well; they even talk in the second episode about how they’re new to missions, but while they learn many things over the course of missions and grow quite a lot (Jemma has a more distinct arc, but) they are neither the logical outsiders (logical certainly, but that’s just their scientific personalities) nor particular catalysts.  It’s really Skye (Chloe Bennet) who serves both purposes, though: at first she’s analyzing SHIELD, spying on it and from within it, and she’s questioning the way things are done.  Then she’s working within it and she’s still questioning the way things are done.  She’s saying the things that the audience might be thinking and asking the questions that the audience might have themselves.  Furthermore, she serves as the show’s catalyst, first by getting SHIELD wrapped up with Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) and then by involving the team in subsequent situations that would not have existed were it not for either her outside perspective or her mysterious self.  The outside perspective, her ability to approach things in a way that’s not the rest of the team’s, is actually highlighted in “The Magical Place,” when Victoria Hand (Saffron Burrows) banishes her from the Bus out of seeing that as unhelpful and May allows it because she knows it will be beneficial.  And she arguably has emotional effects on the greatest number of other characters.

1. Game of Thrones
Let’s see.  Well, there’s Ned (Sean Bean) playing the new kid in the courts of King’s Landing and it going horribly, horribly wrong; there’s Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya (Maisie Williams) both playing new kid, usually logical outsider in one way or another, in their own circles and it going horribly, horribly wrong (Sansa is made to stay in the increasingly horrible situation she tries to adapt to, while after season one Arya has been on a continual roadtrip and playing the new kid constantly); there’s Jon (Kit Harington) and his Hundred Acre buddies all serving as new kids at the Wall and varyingly serving both roles, which doesn’t go well but isn’t horrible necessarily; there’s Dany (Emilia Clarke) starting with being the new kid in a horribly, horribly wrong situation (i.e. being sold into marriage) and then spending the rest of the series so far on a continual roadtrip and playing both the logical outsider and the catalyst constantly; etcetera, etcetera.  (It occurred to me the other night that most if not all of the POV characters in this series have roadtripped at least a little bit, while some of them, like Arya and Dany, have been on perpetual roadtrips the majority of the time.)

bonus: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Yes, laugh, here I am including my silly pony cartoon on a list of actual real grown-up television shows.  But it’s a perfect example of the new kid narrative, because here’s Twilight Sparkle coming to Ponyville and acting not only as a logical outsider (though more to the behavior of her new friends and the concept of friendship in general than to the local goings-on) but serving as a catalyst.  Without Twilight Sparkle, the show would not happen.  Period.  This is a narrative structure that crosses genres.  Clearly.

–your fangirl heroine.

goodness guys

Television Tuesday :: television and the Bechdel test, part one.

15 Apr

Since the beginning of the year, I have been keeping track of television shows and the Bechdel test (do two women talk for more than thirty seconds about something other than a man).  I’ve only been doing it with shows which had seasons that started after January 1 2014 (i.e. The Walking Dead and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are not part of the tally) because… I don’t know.  Statistics are comforting.  The people I watch the most television with are already getting tired of me talking about this.

I won’t be posting the entire summary until the end of 2014, because that’s how I designed the… not-quite-experiment… and I want to be very technical about it, but I will be routinely commenting on certain things that doing this teaches me, beginning with tonight.

Season five of Justified finished airing last week.  Now, I’ve liked Justified since the beginning (we came for Timothy Olyphant and I stayed for Rachel [Erica Tazel] and Tim [Jacob Pitts], among other things) but one of its biggest failings has always been the lack of Bechdel passing.  It’s always had good female characters (Rachel, Ava [Joelle Carter], Winona [Natalie Zea], Mags [Margo Martindale], Loretta [Kaitlyn Dever], etcetera) but there hasn’t been a lot of interaction between them, or in the case of Mags and Loretta they often (not always) were talking about men and anyway that was way back in season two.  I wasn’t expecting Justified to pass at all this season, since they rarely do, so imagine my surprise when they had a 66% pass rate by episode.

Why was this?  Why, Ava went to women’s prison.

It makes sense that women’s prison would involve talking to other women, and it makes sense that they’d talk about things other than men.  In large part this is just because there weren’t any men present, and sure, they did have conversations that mentioned men on the outside, but that was not the only thing that they discussed.  They had schemes of their own, friendships of their own, rivalries of their own, a women-centric religious circle of their own —

And it occurred to me a few episodes in how really sad it was that the only reason for this abundance of female stuff was that there were very, very few men physically present.  This couldn’t exist on the outside, apparently, the show had to physically remove the women (and do so in order to set up a scenario pertaining to Ava and her man, mind, I’m not forgetting that) from the male world.

Gosh, that’s a sobering thought.

–your fangirl heroine.

that's the approach you're taking

Television Tuesday :: 10 shows that show up as the subject of mixes in the Southern Gothic tag on 8tracks

8 Oct

This tag is just where I live right now.  And I am really somewhat obsessed with tracking the trends in it.

10. Hemlock Grove
I don’t know a single thing about this other than the fact that it’s on Netflix.  Wikipedia just told me there are werewolves.  So?

9. Game of Thrones
I don’t know why this was there, because it is about as far from Southern Gothic as anything, but it was there one time and I loved this playlist a lot in all of its technical nonsense.  And I know the trends in Southern Gothic mixes and in Game of Thrones mixes and this was surprisingly not predictable.

8. American Horror Story: Coven
This doesn’t actually start until tomorrow (and I am so excited I admit this) but I’ve already seen mixes for it in the tag.  Nothing particularly specific, but vibey.  And the vibeyness of the show is why I’m excited, so that works out.

7. Teen Wolf
Why is this in the Southern Gothic tag it is set in California.  And the few episodes I watched did not strike me as particularly vibey in this direction.  It was vibey in the direction of “modern and yet not aggressively so teenage monsters,” but the only thing that was remotely Southern Gothic about it was that there were monsters.  But maybe I’d just need to watch more to understand why it was there.  I will give props to the mix I saw described specifically as a Teen Wolf Southern Gothic AU, because that makes more sense.

6. Justified
This is like I mentioned how I tripped into the Southern Gothic tag to begin with, but it appears surprisingly not often.  I mean it definitely does appear, but still.  It’s not really a show with a big giant fandom so far as I know, so I guess that makes sense, but still.

5. Sons of Anarchy
Why is this in the Southern Gothic tag I don’t understand.  I mean, musically I guess it works as a lot of the songs in the tag come straight off the show’s soundtrack, but it’s not even set in the South.  Sons of Anarchy is set in California too.  So I don’t know, but it works.

4. Hannibal
I don’t watch this.  I had to look up to see where it was even set, which appears to be Southern.  But I guess it works?  I dunno, I usually skip these mixes since I don’t go there.

3. The Walking Dead
Set in the South.  Really messed up.  Makes sense.  The show has never been particularly musically vibey, because there’s not much time for music in the apocalypse (unless they want to give Beth [Emily Kinney] something to do, bless) but still.

2. True Blood
And it always works, and I always feel things, and I always scream in frustration because Southern Gothic vibes were yet another thing this last season did not provide me with adequately or at least in a way I was comfortable with.  (Surprise!mayor!Sam evangelizing at the church felt kind of this, but in the bad way.  For example.)

1. Supernatural
This show is not Southern either.  I don’t know why it’s here.  But it’s here a lot, or anyway it feels like it is.  I’m kind of afraid of Supernatural fandom so I haven’t done much research, but.

–your fangirl heroine.

i exist ha