review · tv

Pretty Little Liars and ALL the Secrets!

And damn do they have good clothes, too. …usually. I’m looking at you, Aria.

Over the last few months, I’ve been playing catch up on Pretty Little Liars, got through Season 5 just in time for the start of Season 6, and was able to watch live as we all found out the true identity of the Liar’s long-game tormentor, A. I actually watched this show live when it first started six years ago, but stopped before the first season ended. Why did I stop? Why did I start up again? What do I think about the latest but oddly not quite final plot twist? Let’s dive in. Expect spoilers.

Continue reading “Pretty Little Liars and ALL the Secrets!”

diversity · games · movies · tv

Diversity in Games (and Other Media)

Nothing like a sinus infection & viral bronchitis combo to slow your week, topped off with busting up your phone! At I can say that I am on the mend; as for the phone, that remains to be seen.

Since the Daily Post doesn’t have this week’s photo challenge up yet, here’s a topic that crossed my mind again recently and does on occasion when I’m writing or designing, or just reading about games and media in general: diversity. I’ll be talking mostly about games here, but a lot of this applies to other media like movies, TV, comics, and so forth, so expect some crisscrossing of that line.

It’s no big secret or shock that most game protagonists are the default white male. Most designers are white men, and historically their target demographic has been white males. It still baffles me that some people react some strongly against this “status quo” being changed or challenged, but that’s a different topic altogether. I understand why this is the default–the old adage of “write what you know” is a powerful and natural direction to take when writing. It’s easiest to imagine yourself as the protagonist of a story. If you were to take a look at all my writing and roleplaying characters over the years, you’d find that most of them were female, white, with red or brown hair. This, and likewise the default white casts or male white protagonists of TV shows, movies and games did not stick out to me as odd for a long time.  Continue reading “Diversity in Games (and Other Media)”

review · tv

“Men at Work”: You’re Doing it Wrong

Last night, Brandon and I happened to catch an episode of the new TBS sitcom called “Men at Work.” You may recognize the name from the absolutely relentness plugging that’s been going on for the show. It wasn’t a show we

Shocking news: “Guy shows can be just as crass, penis-obsessed and vacuous as all those gal shows that started turning up last fall. More, even.” The shock is that someone said this with a straight face.

sought out, but it came on after a repeat of The Office, so we  sat through it.

And ugh. This piece of crap cannot be cancelled fast enough. Cliched writing, characters, stock jokes, and plots. Ripping off better shows. The only reason anyone is saying this is the guy’s version of Sex and the City HAS to be because that’s something the marketing for this show came up with, because it’s nothing like that at all, apart from having four male characters in one show. Continue reading ““Men at Work”: You’re Doing it Wrong”

books · games · movies · thursday tropes · tv

Thursday Tropes: After the End

I love a good post-apocalyptic story. Hell, I even enjoy ones that aren’t that good, because just the hint of one will perk my ears. And given the proclivity of this kind of setting lately, it’s safe to say I’m not the only one. Just

It’s Ellen Page in the post-apocalyptic future! (Actually, the resemblance is a coincidence, but I’m sure she’d have something quirky to say if it were her.)

yesterday I came across some trailers for an upcoming game, The Last of Uswhere a version of the Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the fungus that can create a zombie ant, has jumped to humans and created zombies and lead to the collapse of civilization as we know it. I know so very little about the gameplay, the plot, anything, but I know it looks gorgeous and I’m suddenly we’ve got a PS3 and I’ll be able to play it! I’ve also written before about another such setting I ate up (a coincidentally interesting choice of words on my part) when I wrote about Feed by Mira Grant, which features fantastic world-building. The third book and final book in that trilogy, Blackout, releases later this month and I can’t wait to read it.

When reading up on TLOU the other day, a few things occured me. One, this was a perfect topic for my next Thursday Tropes post! Two, I clearly have an itch to write my own post-apocalyptic story, so I should work on that at some point. And three, why are we obsessed with post-apocalyptic stories? I’ve come to at least one conclusion: it’s real-life fanfiction crossed with cautionary tale. Continue reading “Thursday Tropes: After the End”

thursday tropes · tv

Thursday Tropes: The College Application Process

Everything you’ve seen on TV about getting into college in the US is pretty much completely and utterly FALSE. In a variety of ways, so let’s break this down. The latest offender is, of course, Glee. But I promise I’ll pick on Gossip Girl, too, this time!

The Long and Fairly Specific Process

In the US, there’s a pretty standard system for how the college application process works. You spend the latter portion of your junior year researching and checking out schools, as well as the following summer and some of the fall of your senior year. Most applications must be submitted by January 1st (with some early admission deadlines around early to mid-November). Some school with rolling admission may take applications into March. You will hear back on whether or not you’ve been accepted between April 1st and April 15th, and you are expected to respond by May 1st as to whether or not you will be enrolling at the places you have been accepted. Continue reading “Thursday Tropes: The College Application Process”

books · games · movies · thursday tropes · tv · writing

Thursday Tropes: The Love Triangle

The Love Triangle.  Because we all know that love and relationships are only complicated when a potential second suitor comes along, and apart from that, it’s all rainbows and good times and everyone gets along.

Waaaait a second.

Why hook up with the still living when you can have the undead popsicle, amirite?

My beef with the love triangle is how overused it’s become. Now, do love triangles happen in real life? Of course they do. And do they keep fiction interesting? They certainly can. But it’s become a staple, it often seems, rather than a useful tool among many others in the writer’s toolbox. I get the impression that a lot of them are added in because that’s what people are told will sell books (or other media), rather than it being in there because it helps the story and develops naturally.

Of recent love triangle fame is, of course, the Twilight series. Which is funny since this is a triangle that isn’t a triangle. Yes, I read them, and yes, I’ve seen the movies. Yes, I think it’s awful. It’s like a train wreck, I can’t look away! Plus the unintentional hilarity is fantastic. But I digress. This now hugely famous love triangle isn’t one because at really no point does Bella ever seriously consider Jacob. Briefly in New Moon, when it looks like Edward’s gone forever, but hot damn, she literally jumps on a plane to fly halfway across the world the second she learns that’s still an option! Jacob, buddy, that should’ve been your first enormous clue that she was just not that into you.

But thanks to this series, love triangles have taken on new life as a given in YA, it feels like, becoming cliche, boring, and overused in the process. Continue reading “Thursday Tropes: The Love Triangle”

review · thursday tropes · tv · writing

Thursday Tropes: Pretty Hurt

Part of my new attempt at a schedule, I’m going to aim to talk about a TV trope on Thursdays. I say “TV” because it’s largely inspired by the website TV Tropes, but these might come from books, movie, TV, games, any media or entertainment for mass consumption there is, really. Plus, Thursday Tropes has some nice alliteration to it.

I know, I know, today’s Friday, deal with it. I’m just getting this thing started! (Glee and The Killing spoilers ahead.)

Also, check out the new look! What do you think? The background is from Cutest Blog on the Block.

Continue reading “Thursday Tropes: Pretty Hurt”

review · tv · writing

T-Boned: The Uncomfortable and Ultimate Glee Fail

Spoilers, if you care.

A few weeks ago, while watching Glee:

Me: *bitch bitch rant rant*
Brandon: “We hate this show now, don’t we?”
Me: “Yep, pretty much.”
Brandon: “We’re still gonna watch it though, right?”
Me:  “At least until the end of the season.”

In its tradition of bringing public attention to tense matters facing high school students today, Glee explored a new dark side of teen bullying and homophobia: teen suicide as a result of bullying for one’s non-heterosexuality.

Continue reading “T-Boned: The Uncomfortable and Ultimate Glee Fail”

tv · writing

What Happened to Glee?

A long time ago on a blog far, far away — or, in May of 2009 on my previous (and short-lived) blog Jump the Snark, I blogged about the pilot of Glee*. Such promise, such fun, such a  great pilot that looked like it couldn’t possibly stand a chance because it was all about the outcasts and losers and they were singing.

This was great. What happened?

Nearly three years later, here we are, and Glee is so damn popular it’s finally inspired another musical show, Smash. (I’ve got this pilot recorded, but haven’t yet watched it, so I can’t and won’t yet comment on what I think of it.) Beyond all expectation, Glee not only survived, it thrived! So I should be rejoicing, right? The Have Nots finally Have! Except that in the process, Glee has become just plain awful.

The things that are wrong with the show have been described at length in a number of places around the internet and in news media in general. And I agree with just about all of them. At its root, to my eyes and ears, the problem is this: the show lost its heart, forgot what it was about, and overwhelmingly assumes and expects its audience to be resoundingly stupid. Characters and plots alike have no consistency, and both jump out at opposing and unbelievable extremes. And while both have moments of brilliance, they far too often fall into mockable parody and unfulfilled potential.

Let’s take Quinn. In the pilot episode, she was head cheerleader, most popular girl, and broke stereotypes by choosing to be chaste, breaking off make-out sessions with Finn to pray. An interesting twist, though one soon abandoned when we learn the good Christian Cheerleader slept with her boyfriend’s best friend and got pregnant. Quinn’s pregnancy, I would argue, is one of the more interesting plotlines in Season 1, and we see the girl at the top of the world fall to the very bottom, and make the brave (and often unexplored on TV) choice to give her baby up for adoption. Her relationships with everyone in her life are affected — her parents kick her out, Finn dumps her, Puck matures (to a degree), Mercedes becomes a good friend, Sue

Remember when we were besties?! No? Yeah, me neither.

Sylvester kicks her off the squad, Quinn finds friendship, support, and comfort from the Glee kids, even using the vestiges of her power to help them out more than once. Then in Season 2…just about all of that may as well have never happened. She’s shallow, she’s still a cheater, she has no discernible relationship with Mercedes at all. The girl she asked to be present for her ordeal of childbirth, the girl who invited her into her home, and they have zero conversations! Rather than maintaining Quinn’s maturation, or intentionally contrasting it’s absence with her obsession at reclaiming her former glory, she’s just another inconsistent character whose extremes continue to make no sense in Season 3, where yet more interesting ideas are wasted on her by having her slate cleaned in the end once again.

Rachel and Finn are a ridiculous and pointless on-and-off couple, similarly never showing they can stick to personal goals for more than a few episodes (Rachel’s Season 2 pledge to herself to focus on becoming a star rather than on getting Finn back is abandoned almost as soon as she finishes singing “Firework”). Will Schuester is likewise flung far and wide and irritatingly so by the whims of each week’s plot. Santana, Brittany, and Kurt show some possibly the most promise on their respective journeys as lesbian, bisexual, and gay male, and have rightly gotten the show a lot of attention for their stories. These are often well-done, if not perfect (but then, characters really should have flaws and theirs are at least mostly consistent) (mean-spirited cruelty, stupidity, and self-righteousness, respectively). But the biggest problem character, in my opinion, is Sue Sylvester.

Sue was a great villain in Season 1. Outlandish villainy and great one-liner insults played straight-faced by a woman intensely focused on herself and success at what she did. A single soft spot, her sister who has Down syndrome, humanizes her and introduces her second soft spot, a student named Becky who likewise has DS and becomes her…well, lead minion, really. (And actually I find her relationship with Becky to continue to be interesting and hilarious: Becky’s actress is great, their Dr. Evil and No. 2-esque pairing is really amusing, and it’s an interesting and rather bold choice to have a character with DS not be a good guy. Becky’s vicious! And connected!) In the finale, we see another secret weakness in Sue’s armor — it’s okay for her to beat up on Glee, but when other people threaten her school? Hell, no! Those are HER victims, dammit. She votes for them at regionals, and when they don’t place, she arranges to have the club kept around anyways, because what’s the good of being a villain if you’ve got no nemesis?

After that, it’s all downhill. Sue becomes an abusive bully who should’ve been fired a hundred times over for her inappropriate, physically threatening (not to mention emotionally abusing) behavior towards students, coworkers, and superiors alike. She has physically assaulted students on her and with items that could be classified as weapons. And her ‘ridiculous’ plotlines have only gotten worse as well — marrying herself? Really? Season 3 has only made it worse, most recently, in the episode “The Spanish Teacher,” when she had a talk with teenaged male high school students about donating

Dangerous child predator and bully, played for laughs.

sperm because she was seeking to be artificially inseminated. And when her inappropriate behavior is later brought up by the guidance counselor Emma? It’s only about that she said the same to Will, to whom Emma is now engaged! Why hasn’t this woman been fired several times over?!  And arrested, for that matter. It’s been proven as well by that same episode that she doesn’t have tenure, her lame blackmail on Figgins has been a dead-in-the-water plot since sometime in Season 2 at the latest. Why is a show that has done some ground-breaking and wonderful anti-bullying storylines completely ignoring the biggest bully character in their cast?

Also? The songs are over-autotuned! These kids have talent, let them show it already!

I may finish out this season, but at this point I’m not sure if I’ll bother coming back to it next year. They lost the heart that gave them such promise back in Episode 1. Their cover of Don’t Stop Believin’ was and still is great, and the moment it created in the pilot episode was fantastic. It’ll always take me back. But the show has lost that direction and that core in a shower of ridiculous glitter-bombed extremes.

And that’s my rant, on Glee!

*Comments are now disabled there, and there’s no sense in following it as I don’t post there anymore. So, comment here and follow this blog, if you are inclined towards either.