Tag Archives: television

Problematic Things I Enjoy – Beverly Hills 90210 (A.K.A. The Brenda Walsh Show)

OKay admission of a child of the 90′s – I used to watch Beverly Hills 90210.

Alright, that’s a bit of an understatement my mother still mocks the fact that I watched every episode of the early seasons and would rush out of conversations if it was starting. My main reason for watching this show was – Shannen Doherty/Brenda Walsh. I loved her. Most other fans of 90210 will admit that Brenda was one of the most interesting characters on the show. Her character arc had her going from a sweet girl from Minnesota to a manipulative liar to an animal rights activist. Her popularity was quite obviously helped by the off-screen tabloid appearances and rumors that spoke of major problems between Doherty and Jennie Garth, the actress who played her best friends/main rival through the four seasons she was on the show.

Okay so why is BH 90210 so problematic? 

The class issues alone are enough for a whole series of articles and while I vaguely remember them attempting in inject some class consciousness into the show it was never enough to take away the fact that like it’s successor Dawson’s Creek it was a show about pretty rich white teens that date other pretty rich white teens and have OMG!Melodramatic problems.

And then of course there’s the fact that anytime someone of a different race or class background or sexuality or ability level or size or etc. showed up it was always “a very special episode”. The show had almost no social consciousness anything that could have been a real learning moment was milked for as much meodrama as possible and stereotypes were relied on frequently to shortcut characters and plotlines.

The show was completely and utterly vapid, over-the-top, and had no connection to my life (or I suspect the lives of most folks) but there was something riveting about the show. Something that kept me tuning in for four years I’ve never been able to figure out what. (Some friends claim the joy is in watching the extreme lengths the writers had to go to to create problems for the pretty rich teen boys and girls and that is part of it).

Really I’m just waiting for “Compton”. The show about youth trying to get out of the ghetto, going to college, police harassment, gang involvement – kinda makes whether Dylan is there to meet Kelly or Brenda at the Peach Pit seem kind of like frivolous bullshit AND IT WAS but I still loved the show.

So yes there is a spin-off coming simply called 90210 (creativity does not live here). I’ve been less than enthused about it and hadn’t intended to watch it. That is until I heard that Miss Brenda Walsh will be returning to the show, now a famous theatre actress/director she returns at behest of fictional frenemy Kelly Taylor (play by real frenemy Jennie Garth) to direct the high school musical.

What sparks will fly?

Will Brenda and Kelly get into a knock down drag out fight about their ex-beau Dylan? (Yes please!)

When will the rumors of backstage fights begin?

Will the newbies bow down to the Queen of 90210, Brenda Walsh as they should?

How will Shannen leave the show this time in joy or anger? Well, some questions are rhetorical but you get my meaning.

There’s already been one cast member pushed out before it even began! Tori Spelling who played Donna Martin in the original show was rumored to be returning along with Doherty and Garth until she found out how much they were being paid. This is all rumors but it’s been reported that when Spelling who was being offered 10k-20k per episode found out Garth and Doherty had range of 35k-50k per episode. She demanded parity and the producers refused. While not Doherty’s fault it sure sets the stage for the drama of this new show. I’m in as long as Brenda’s there, once she’s gone so am I.

Media Friday – The Buffy Spin-Off that Never Was

Recently a three minute clip of the scrapped Buffy cartoon was leaked online. I think all the actors from the show voiced their characters except for Sarah Michele Gellar and I don’t know who they got but her voice is very reminiscent of SMG’s. Checking it out I see a lot of potential, there are some rough jokes and weird pauses but then again this is a pilot so chances are it would have gotten better over time.

For me this goes in the “Things The Suits Passed On But Never Should Have!” along with the Global Frequency pilot. Anyway check out the clip!

My First Column!

The first edition of my column Crossing Lines is up at Fantasy Magazine. It’s about the Fifth Season Premiere of Stargate Atlantis. Go check it out and comment!

Now I Have To Watch Law & Order UK? Unfair!

So yes I do like Law & Order, whenever there’s a marathon I am stuck to my seat for all 33 hours of it. It can also be a supremely problematic show, especially the Special Victims Unit- spinoff (which I stay far away from most of the time as much as it hurts ’cause I adore Olivia and Elliot), I know this and I deal with it the way I deal with other things I enjoy that are problematic. I dissect it.

But this post isn’t about that (maybe a later post), right now I’m just pointing out how much I love Crime dramas in general. This is so you can understand how odd it was of me to have had no intention of watching the new UK version Law & Order: London .

This was for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that the showrunner is Chris Chibnall. Now those who love Torchwood might recognize that name, he is the lead writer for Torchwood and the episodes he wrote are among the worst of each series. Just…bad, sometimes his build up was okay but he just did not know where to take it from there so it often fell into stereotypes and non-sensical endings. The actors and their interplay and the episodes written by other people keep me a Torchwood fan but I figured there were enough L&O spin-offs in the states to keep me occupied anyway.

The second reason was that I heard one of the leads for the series would be Jamie Bamber, who plays Apollo in the Re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. This was another strike against the show because honestly I know Bamber is a great actor but Apollo’s emo-manpain on BSG turned me off the actor for a while.

So what could counteract both these issues and make me vow to tune in for every episode?

Freema Agyeman!

That right, Martha Jones from the third series of Doctor Who has been cast as the main court prosecutor.

Damn it all to hell!

I love Freema too much to stay away from any series she’s a part of so it looks like I’ll have to watch. It was like the remake of the Bionic Woman series, no one really tuned in for any other reason than Katee Sachoff was kick ass as the evil first bionic woman.

Writing Day & Virtuality 7.22.08

Okay so since yesterday I’ve been feeling filled with creative energy so I’m declaring today a Writing Day.
But before I go off to be a creative I have to point out that I’m super pissed at Ron Moore’s new show Virtuality. This is one of the new sf/f shows coming up that I wanted to try out until I read spoilers on io9.com.

WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD:
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Media Friday! 7-18-2008

Thank Jebus it’s Friday y’all, ’cause this week has been the longest ever. It felt like a month. I suspect some sort of warp in the fabric of space-time. So I’m thinking of making my Friday posts all about the media where I post videos or pictures or whatever.

Now many here may not now it but there are certain reality shows that I love (only a few! I can’t help it). At the top of my list is So You Think You Can Dance. My two favorite dances from this week:

Twitch & Comfort – HipHop

Will & Katee – Pas de Deux

And for all you genre fans out there, here’s the trailer for the upcoming adaptation of the graphic novel Watchmen. For those who don’t know Watchman is a 12 issue mini-series comic, released in the U.K. in 1986/1987 largely thought to be one of the best graphic novels ever. I have major issues with the comic to the point that I have never re-read the story after that first time. These issues have to do with blatant sexism, queerism and racism that thread through the work. I don’t want to spoil anyone but it’s a seriously problematic book. The thing that saves it is the crazy ass political leanings of the characters and the way everything plays out. Moore does fuckedupedness well I just wish the comics weren’t so damn problematic and traumitizing!  

That being said many American comic writers/artists decided to break with the comics code and do their own think after seeing the dark, gritty, real world of Watchmen. It truly made a lot of the “adult” comics I love today possible.

It’ll be interesting to see if the adaptation gets as dark as the comic, which is pretty damn dark. The movie’s not out until March 2009.

I Have a New Favorite TV Show!

Now it might seem premature to label a show your favorite when you’ve only seen two episodes but the ABC family original The Middleman is some really good TV. It’s superhero TV at it’s best, it harkens back to the Batman TV show with its visuals and bad special effects at times but the dialog is hip, fresh and funny the side characters are entertaining and there’s a lot of mystery but it doesn’t feel incomplete the way Lost always felt to me.

I stayed away from the show originally because #1 it was on ABC Family which automatically makes me go *smh* because I’m unsure if ABC’s idea of family programming has ever entertained me and #2 all the ads made it seem as if the female lead Wendy Watson (played by Natalie Morales) was going to be a scantily clad sidekick there to look hot in leather and shoot big guns and not really the focus of the show.

Then a couple days ago while idly surfing Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature I saw that the first two episodes were available so I decided to give them a try. Boy was I wrong, it’s fantastic romp through a crazy world of mad scientists, demons and aliens. Also Wendy is far from an extra body she’s actually the lead protagonist and it’s great to have a Latina actress playing a superhero (well apprentice/successor but still).

The shows’ basic premise is that a sarcastic, rude, unflappable young woman right out of art school is recruited as the apprentice to The Middleman, a former Navy Seal who could have been plucked from some random 50′s health film (he’s constantly saying things like “Golly Gee”, “Jeepers” and “Now that’s just mean/rude”). Wendy proceeds to ride The Middleman for his language and also has an antagonistic relationship with their extraterrestrial robot Ida, often calling her “3PO” (After Star Wars robot C3PO). The back and forth between The Middleman and Wendy has some clunkers sure but for the most part it’s funny, hip and very comic book. For example the constant references to her father that disappeared under mysterious circumstances are so ham-handed at times that any comic book reader (or anyone with ears really) will know that this is something that will pop up in the show relatively soon.

The side characters are also pretty damn funny. Lacey, Wendy’s Roommate, who’s a confrontational conceptual artist and very much the pseudo-liberal who gets arrested pretty damn often for protesting. Nozer, the African-American guitar player that Wendy exchanges song lyrics with in the hallway every time she comes home. Ida, the ET Robot who’s “been cranky since her appearance circuit got stuck on disapproving school marm version 2.0″ and continually insinuates that Wendy’s only cool under pressure ’cause she’s always high.

And yes I admit that the special effects tend to be kind of low-budget but really the episode villains are not the reason to watch, even though their fun in a really ludicrous way. It’s the journey to find the villain that packs the most hilarity with revelations of Succubi, Incubi, illegal experiments and extra-marital affairs all making appearances.

Funny, Hip, Inspired and Corny by turns it’s been quite a while since a show grabbed me in so few episodes. Let’s hope that #1 they don’t mess it up and #2 that it stays on the air long enough to find its footing and really wow us.

To say anymore would be spoiling but if you have Netflix then take a couple of hours to watch the episodes on there, or find some other way because no matter what you have to at least check out, if only to let me know if you agree with my over-enthusiastic response.

Can’t…Think… Doctor Who Has Hijacked My Brain

Okay I wish I could give y’all some kind of thinky-smart-ranty post ’cause there haven’t been anmy this week and I’m in a space where I think I could and I have a couple in the draft stages. But being completely honest all I can think about is this:

WARNING CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE FINAL TWO EPISODES OF DOCTOR WHO SERIES 4

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I love Omarosa! Why Don’t You?

This whole post came about because my friend Jackie and I were lazing around and flipped onto some Reality Show countdown on VH1. It was showing the fight on the Surreal Lifebetween Omarosa & Janice Dickinson. I said to my friend “Y’know I kinda like Omarosa”. Her response? “Me too.”

So we started to toss ideas back and forth, not only for why we really like Omarosa but also why other people seem to have this unspoken but powerful need to hate her. It really comes down to our society’s view of women and the view of black women in particular.

Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth burst onto our TV screens on the Donald Trump reality show Apprenticeand though she didn’t end up with the big prize we all heard about her. Omarosa was the villainess, the bitch, the evil player that everyone loved to hate, but my question always was why? I enjoy some reality shows (though they are usually more frivolous that Apprentice) so I tuned in for a couple episodes way back when to watch this black woman that had all my friends talking. 

And honestly I didn’t understand the hate.

I saw a smart business woman. I saw a woman who had been immersed in the shark-filled waters of the business world and had discovered how to swim. Let’s be completely honest, the backroom dealing, the harsh attitude, the need to have everything her way and not compromise on what she thought was right, all of those things wouldn’t have gotten a blink, let alone intense media coverage had she been a white man. I mean how often are White Male Reality Villains heard about and known beyond the bounds of fans of that show? Almost never and when they do they fade quickly from public consciousness, anyone not a fan of Survivorstill remember Johnny Fairplay? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Yet Omarosa became a household name and achieved heights few others have aspired to…being known by only one name.

Look at the “character flaws” generally attached to her, the reasons for hating her given are usually something along the lines of: “bitch” “bossy” “aggressive” “angry” “defensive” “not able to get along with others” “liar” these are very similar (exactly the same in some cases) to the accusations constantly thrown at African-American women within our society, the constant stereotype of the overbearing, controlling black woman.

Let me get back to what inspired this post, the altercation on television, specifically the other combatant: Janice DIckinson. Janice is frequently described with the same kind of epithets as Omarosa, yet she is very rarely has the vitriol pointed at her that is constantly pointed at Omarosa. In fact she profits off the perception of her as a “bitch”,  gaining not one but two shows of her own after parting ways with America’s Next Top Model: The Janice Dickinson Modelling Agency and Abbey & Janice: Beauty & The Beast. So why? Why does Dickinson get show deals and lauded as a fashion/queer icon where anytime Omarosa is talked about it’s in terms of negativity, she’s called chickenhead, people “pull an Omarosa”, she’s used as a measuring line for the villainy of reality show contestants.

This “bitchyness” that’s such an iconic personality trait for a white woman and yet for a black woman it makes her hated world-wide? A lot of it has to do with perception of black women in America and Omarosa’s history of success. When a Woman of any Color is not submissive and stands up for herself (especially against a white man and especially on a reality show) she’s a villain or unreasonable or stupid or a bitch but they don’t all get as famous as Omarosa has. Part of that could simply be the wide response/audience of the first Apprentice but I think much of it has to do with her history. She worked in the Clinton/Gore administration and  has a history in business, hell the very fact the Trump picked her for his show gives her a lot of business cred. Mainstream America cannot write her off like they do many of the other Women of Color they see on their television, they know that her approach does work to some degree, that she has known success.

Let’s look at the perception of businesswomen. What is the constant image America gets of the successful business woman through our media? That she is someone who uses/used sex to get ahead or at the very least someone who is highly sexualized (if she’s traditionally beautiful). I could list multiple movies and TV shows where this is the case such as Sex & The City, Ally McBeal, Women’s Murder Club…etc. 

When we combine that view with the already highly sexualized view of African-American Women in our current society, it’s fireworks or ignorance all over the place. We as a society are conditioned to expect Omarosa to use her sexuality, to not be successful but she breaks these “rules”. She does not use her sexuality at all in fact. She comes to the show (and every appearance we see her in) hard and she comes with a highly developed sense of self and her own worth.

The automatic response to this woman breaking through our expected perceptions of her seems to be anger and hate. That anger becomes focused on things she does that when looked at objectively are actually no worse than anything contestants in the same episode or on other reality shows have done hundreds of times. Yes there might have been some lying, some backstabbing, some ambition on her part but isn’t that the point of reality shows? That’s at the base of all reality shows, trying to show that you (or your team) is the best and sorely deserves the top prize. 

There will of course always be some who’ll claim that the hatred targeted at Omarosa has nothing to do with gender or race but in that case I’m still waiting for them to explain to me the hatred that Omarosa’s name invokes. And why that same hate is directed at ‘ole whats-his-name, you know the one I mean, the one from Big Brother…

I feel that I actually could have gone on for a couple more posts about Omarosa by expanding everything in this post but I have training at work today and no time in which to do it. Plus I promised y’all a post on Omarosa this week but I might come back to this essay later, consider it an early draft.

Ruby – Kick-Ass Demon!

Let me note that this post is mostly squee and really has very little deconstruction. This is Ruby:

Ruby is a character in the 3rd season of The CW’s Supernatural. Now I tried to watch Supernatural back when it first came on but honestly there were so many problematic elements in regards to race and gender that I only got to the episode with the racist truck-driving ghost before I had to step away (There’s a whole post in the works about Supernatural and my problems with it). Plus the fact that the two main characters, the Winchester brothers: Sam and Dean, are both male and as I’ve said before I do better connecting with female characters. So when the 3rd season premiered it was announced that two female characters would be recurring: Bela* & Ruby.

So I’m gonna break down the squee: Why I love Ruby and would gladly carry her half-demon baby!

#1 She’s a kick-ass fighter
When first introduced she takes down three demons without breaking a sweat. She has a magic knife that kills demons dead instead of sending them back to hell to fight again another day. She rushes into danger and fights her way through. In one episode where the Winchester boys along with one FBI agent, a deputy sheriff and a secretary are under siege in a police station by about 30 demons. She fights her way through and while walking past the wary folks inside says one of my favorite lines of the season:
“Anyone have a breath mint? Some guts splattered in my mouth while I was killing my way in.”
Then after they won’t heed her advice she walks out of the front door and dares the demons to get in her way, they part like the sea. C’mon now, that’s badass! 30 demons parted for her! Also a preview of the season finale that will air this Thursday shows her taking down both Winchesters in about a minute.

#2 She’s sarcastic, snarky and doesn’t take shit.
See the quote above. Additional quotes:
“Just think of me as that little fallen angel on your shoulder.”**

“Don’t tell me you let the colt slip through your clumsy hands!”
Sam: “Ruby”
“Shut Up!”

“You can stand there and let me cut your heart out of your chest.”

“So now because you were careless I have to die. Try to be more careful in the future, hell of a dying wish.”

#3 She’s very practical, to the point of being a sociopath.
That plan that the Winchester did not want to heed (actually Sam was willing which is a whole other kettle of fish) was sacrificing the virgin among them in a spell that would kill all the demons in a one mile radius, including her. Note that this was only after the the Winchesters lost the Colt and that Nancy (the virgin in question) actually agrees with this and states as everyone argues “This is my decision.” which I cheered for because women are rarely if ever allowed the noble self-sacrifice. They didn’t go through with it in the end but I thought it was an interesting point.

#4 She’s sneaky and has her own agenda
Ostensibly she’s there to help Sam keep on fighting and win the war against the demons on his own since his brother will be dead in less than a year (because of a demonic bargain to bring Sam back to life). Through her guidance and points we see Sam becoming more and more ruthless, more willing to take lives, more demonic overall. (Quick sidebar for those who watch the show, that whole Trickster Dean’s death thing? I think Ruby was behind it to make Sam even darker). She wants the leader of the demon army, Lilith, dead but I think there’s something more going on, it might be corrupting Sam, it might be taking over the army herself but I do think there’s something else happening with her.

So yes I love Ruby and I could make a point here about how female characters are only allowed to be ruthless and kick-ass when they have something to blame it on like not being human but like I said this is a squee post so I’m gonna leave it there. We’ll get into the other stuff in that Supernatural post I’m planning.

*Note – I like Bela as well but I felt that a lot of her characterization was uninspiredand downright trite at times.
**Note the 2nd – Most of these qwuotes are from memory so may be off a bit.