… the musings of a thirty-something, married, Southern teen librarian turned Stay-At-Home-Mom with a 14-year-old's sense of humor, an awkward spirit, and a stubborn, mouthy, redheaded country boy to accompany her through life.
Once I completed my self-assigned project to read 26 classics, I was pretty burnt out on heavy literature. While I genuinely enjoyed all but two of the titles I chose, I realized that there’s a reason why people don’t typically read classics for fun. The pacing is far slower, the world-building is more involved, the themes are less obvious, and in many cases, the dialect can be quite difficult to follow. Reading a classic is enjoyable in the way reading a PEW Research Center study is enjoyable. It’s work. So, as a balm to my somewhat raw senses, I decided to try a modern and lighthearted take on classics, with Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, following the prolific family of the same name in Regency era Britain, which officially spans the years 1811-1820.
In our modern world, where everyone is watching something different, there are few titles that everyone recognizes. While others lament that fact, I’m just relieved that finally, I can rewatch the original Roswell for the 87th time in peace, without being subjected to the absolute horror that I haven’t seen Yellowstone. Bridgerton, however, is one of the rare shows that seems to have gained household notoriety, even if not everyone has actually watched it. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise and have perhaps just had it on your Netflix list, it’s about a family of eight children, the Bridgertons, sequentially named for the first eight letters of the alphabet and their adventures in love. Each Bridgerton gets their own book and, I would assume, Netflix season. Though historical romance has never been my jam, I made my way through the entire Bridgerton series, complete with lengthy epilogues, and figured it would be a complete waste not to review them.
As with my previous “I read… so you don’t have to” serial, there will be unavoidable spoilers, because… well that’s the “you don’t have to” part. I will not, however, share every detail of the plot or resolution, completely ruining the story or show for those who intend to read or watch. The show has already veered a great deal, so I suspect reading my reviews will spoil very little, but reader beware. I will be updating and reposting my reviews as the series continues, to include my assessments of each season.
1. The Duke and I – Daphne and Simon – Rank: 3
The Duke and I tells the tale of Simon Basset, the Duke of Hastings, and Daphne, the oldest Bridgerton daughter in the summer of 1813. Simon is a rake (Regency era playboy) and the best friend of Anthony Bridgerton, Daphne’s oldest brother. Having been abused by his own father, Simon has vowed never to marry or have children. Meanwhile, Daphne longs for marriage and motherhood, but finds that she’s so easy to get along with that men tend to see her as a strictly friendly or even sisterly companion, much to her despair during her first season on the marriage market.
Simon first meets Daphne when she’s being harassed by a suitor. Before he can save the day, Daphne punches the drunk herself and Simon finds himself immediately attracted to her… that is until he discovers that she’s the little sister of his best friend. Regardless, Simon and Daphne hatch a plan to convince high society, or the ton, that they’re courting. Mothers eager to marry their daughters will leave the disinterested, yet extremely eligible, Simon alone; and Daphne will attract the attention of far better suitors when they see she’s caught the eye of a Duke. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t go as planned and the two begin to truly fall in love.
Through Regency era shenanigans, Simon and Daphne find themselves forced to marry, despite their differing plans for life. Simon informs Daphne that he can’t have children and she accepts him regardless. When innocent Daphne’s mother, Violet, explains sex to her, she’s left confused at the mechanics and goes into marriage blind. In time, Daphne realizes that Simon hasn’t been truthful with her and feels betrayed by what she realizes are his deliberate efforts to mislead her and avoid conception. Through drama and heartache, the two reconcile and babies are born into a happy marriage, some of them through the epilogues of other books.
I’ve never been a connoisseur of historical romance, finding it difficult to suspend my disbelief to accommodate these charming, young, handsome, tall rakes of the Regency era. I can never forget that the average male height in this time period was 5’6″, baths occurred on a weekly or monthly basis, and toothbrushes hardly existed. Still, I obviously enjoyed The Duke and I enough to continue the series, but I did notice a glaring issue with the show. While Bridgerton has been relentlessly praised for its diverse casting, it didn’t take long to realize that most of the Black characters in the show don’t exist in the books. There is no sassy Black queen. Marina is an off-page bit character in book five. Will, Alice, and MadameDelacroix aren’t in the series at all. Simon is the only prominent character from The Duke and I played by a person of color. Lady Danbury does become an important character, but she’s barely in the first book. It’s as if the writers wanted to appear progressive without “ruining” the image of the main characters and that’s… gross. The Bridgertons are one of two main families in their story and there’s no reason why the Featheringtons couldn’t have been portrayed by people of color as well, if historical accuracy was moot.
Despite the books souring me on the show’s faux diversity, I quite enjoyed Simon and Daphne’s story. I’ve never been drawn to the Brother’s Best Friend or Fake Dating tropes, but it was fun to read such a contemporary take on this time period. The show did a fair job of depicting the characters and their story in season one, with an appropriate touch of gloss on some scenes the didn’t age well. While fans of the show didn’t ignore the dubious nature of Daphne’s attempt to conceive against Simon’s wishes, the scene in the book was substantially more rapey. I won’t ruin it, but I will warn that it might color the character in a pretty negative light for some readers.
As with all romance, the guaranteed HEA, or happily ever after, takes much of the stress out of the story. The odds for the couple are seemingly insurmountable, but it’s always in the back of your mind that everything will work out and it does. This is not a time period about which I fantasize, but I can see how some would after reading this book. The realities of history are replaced with a story about wealthy, beautiful people, surrounded by loving and accepting families. Whether watching the show or reading the book, you’ll want to be a Bridgerton and why are we reading books such as these if not for escapism? Ultimately, Daphne and Simon rank as my third favorite Bridgerton couple.
2. The Viscount Who Loved Me – Anthony and Kate – Rank: 2
In the summer of 1814, Anthony, the eldest of the Bridgerton children, has decided that it’s time to set aside his rakish ways and marry. Traumatized by the untimely death of his father from a bee sting, however, he’s determined never to love and deliberately seeks a match that will incite no truly deep feelings. Enter, Edwina Sheffield, the shy and proper younger sister of fiery Kate. Nearing spinsterhood at age 20, Kate’s sole concern is finding a decent match for her beloved Edwina. While Anthony has decided the younger of the Sheffield women fits his requirements precisely, Kate disapproves of the match, convinced that the Viscount has not given up his rakish ways. Despite the growing friction between the two, neither Anthony nor Kate can deny their attraction to each other. Caught in a precarious position when Kate is stung by a bee, the two have no choice but to marry and reconcile their differences, eventually growing in love throughout the rest of the story.
Anthony and Kate were my second favorite of the Bridgerton couples. Just typing this makes me want to reread, though I’ve never cared for the Enemies to Lovers trope. I appreciate the concept in theory. I just always find it somewhat uneven. The conflict between the two either tips into hostile and abusive territory or exaggerates what is simply good-natured ribbing. In an attempt to avoid sullying the swoon-worthy hero, the author often writes only the heroine as truly antagonistic, inadvertently coloring her as an unlikable shrew. Anthony and Kate had the perfect balance. I’m talking chef’s kiss here. They’re both assholes to each other and it is Chuck and Blair delicious. While Anthony’s absolute conviction of his early demise seems a wee bit overwrought, the animosity and attraction he shares with Kate are simultaneously quite convincing, which I find rare among these stories. I would say my favorite thing about this book, is that the couple spends basically the last half of it together. In my opinion, it is absolutely vital in this trope, that the reader experience the couple happy after all that conflict and most authors fail here.
On screen, Jonathan Bailey and Simone Ashley did a fantastic job portraying Anthony and Kate’s chemistry. The switch-up with Indian culture felt fun and natural. The costumes were gorgeous. That said, Netflix ruined the story of The Viscount Who Loved Me. Y’all, I am not a purist when it comes to adaptations. I love a good twist on an old tale, but Anthony and Kate’s season of Bridgerton was utter crap. In The Viscount Who Loved Me, Edwina is simply looking for a husband, nearly as pragmatically as Anthony. She never loves the eldest Bridgerton. She barely has a chance to get to know him, before he’s forced to marry Kate after he’s caught scandalously examining her bee sting. What follows is a delightful forced marriage story, as the couple comes to love and respect one another for their equally strong wills, a concept I appreciate considering my prideful, stubborn, pushy husband.
Bridgerton, however, drags out Anthony and Kate’s courtship up to the humiliation and devastation of Edwina. This unavoidably paints the leads as complete assholes, not to each other but the sister Kate adores and whom Anthony respects, regardless of his lack of romantic affection. By the time the two unite, I can’t even root for them anymore, because they’re dicks, which I suppose is a minor consolation for the fact that we’re robbed of their growing love for one another. All of this was entirely unnecessary, as the original story included a great deal of drama that could have been easily adapted for the screen, such as Anthony’s conviction that he won’t live past 38, Kate’s absolute terror of thunderstorms, and a carriage crash that nearly killed the heroine. The fabricated drama of the show hurt the story and its characters, so while this was my second favorite book, I can only hope it’s my least favorite season of Bridgerton.
From the time Jake and I started dating, I knew that we would always have some interests we just don’t share. Jake listens to political podcasts throughout the day. I love reading so much that I have an audiobook playing in my earbuds nearly constantly. He likes to work outside. I like to do crafts. He likes playing video games. I like watching the nostalgic TV shows of my youth… which are objectively bad. For example…
1999’s Roswell tells the story of Liz, a high school sophomore who works at the alien themed restaurant her parents own in Roswell, New Mexico, alongside her best friend Maria. In episode one, Liz’s and Maria’s lives are forever changed when Liz is shot and healed by Max, a 16-year-old alien played by 26-year-old Jason Behr. Seriously, if y’all thought Riverdale was bad, just check out some of these early 00’s shows.
Everyone complains about unrealistic physical standards for teenage girls, but this was what they told us high school sophomore boys should look like in the year 2000.
I’ll only briefly mention Roswell’s primary lovers, Max and Liz, the16-year-old “soulmates,” when discussing it’s greatest transgressions. Today, media seems to understand that most teenagers are too young to make lifelong commitments to one another, particularly when the basis of their relationship is life-threatening drama. While half of us in the South might still be divorced by 25, the cinematic era of Noah and Ally has mostly passed. However, in the year 2000, it was just beginning and Max and Liz were pretty standard representatives. Also not entirely unique, the level of romance from Max defined unattainable as he literally risked his life for Liz on loop, professed his undying love in flowery, swoon-worthy language, and even refused to accept her rejection of him, because he knew she loved him. What can I say? We all thought low-level stalking was hot in the early 00s.
It was Maria and Michael who fans insisted provided the most realistic depiction of high school dating. If that’s true, millennials all needed massive amounts of therapy. Only recently have I noticed how absolutely horrible this 22-year-old teenage boy is to his romantic interest. Maria repeatedly risks her car, her relationship with her mother, her job, her academic standing, and her heart for Michael and he walks all over her. Nearly every episode features Michael telling Maria that he doesn’t care about her or their relationship, as she begs for his affection and support for the first two seasons. Only in the final season does Michael gain any modicum of decency as a boyfriend and Maria isn’t the only one who thinks it’s too little too late. Of all the criticisms I’ve seen of unhealthy romance in young adult media, I honestly think this one is the worst depictions.
As much as I adore Roswell, despite it’s damaging relationships, I must admit that the real failing is in the terribly inconsistent and indecisive writing. First and foremost, there’s a confusing amount of longingly staring through windows for a show with a “they’re among us” primary plot… as in so much that you’re not really sure if you’re watching a science fiction show at all, sometimes. Additionally, there’s definitely an element of “Where are their parents?!?!”, specifically with Max and Isabel, who play siblings who were adopted by the perfect upper-middle class family and Liz, whose parents own and literally live in the restaurant that serves as their hangout. These teenagers take off for days and even weeks at a time, with little to no explanation, and no one notices. While there is a weak effort to address this by assigning Maria a free-spirited former teen mother who somewhat “gets” her daughter’s behavior and Michael being an emancipated minor, parents in Roswell only really exist to further the storyline. I cannot understand why these shows still star teenage characters. Why not tell the same story starring characters the age of the actors portraying them, in their late teens and early twenties? They’d still be relatable, but the parents that are so lazily written out would no longer be an obstacle.
There’s also the origins and powers of the aliens to address. Historically, the alleged spaceship crash occurred in 1947, which Roswell acknowledges by stating that the four aliens were incubated in a form of cocoon for 42 years before emerging as six-year-olds, who were discovered walking naked and alone in the dessert. It’s quickly noted, though, as a major and recurring plot point, that the aliens don’t have human blood and any sampling of their DNA risks exposure. I’m not a social worker, but I’m pretty sure any child found abandoned in the dessert is undergoing extensive medical testing to verify health and potentially track down parents. Yet Max, Isabel, and Michael have gone ten years without a single blood draw.
As for their powers, it’s explained that the aliens can “manipulate molecular structures.” Well, isn’t that… insanely broad. Despite these seemingly limitless powers, we see the aliens struggle constantly, even declaring that they don’t all have certain abilities, such as healing wounds, which would fall decidedly under manipulating molecular structures. Ultimately, it’s revealed that the aliens are actually alien/human hybrids who have been engineered to use the full capacity of the human brain and that that’s where the powers originate. I’ll ignore the flawed science there and note that later in the show, we find out that with the help of a mysterious structure called the Granolith, the aliens can actually time travel or even return to their home planet where even humans can apparently survive just fine. The scope of these alien powers fluctuates endlessly throughout the show, with some new ones developing while old ones are simultaneously forgotten. For example, two characters rob a store without bothering to change anything about their appearance, which would not only fall under manipulation of molecular structures, but also buying a wig.
Overall, the plots of Roswell are just inconsistent and baffling, with the local police acting as the first enemy, before the sheriff joins the team when the FBI becomes the primary enemy until they… just lose interest? The main villain then shifts to an alien race serving the ruler of the alien’s home planet, who they defeat… with essentially no trouble at all.
A major and unresolved plot point occurs in season two, when Liz finds out from Future Max that she must end her relationship with him before Tess leaves, leading to the destruction of the world in 2014, Liz feigns cheating to turn Max away from her… even though Tess ultimately leaves anyway, pregnant with his child, after she betrays the group and the world is… fine. Perhaps the enemies Tess helped kill so easily were the only real threat and simply took their sweet time attacking over the course of 14 years.
In season three, with other aliens as a whole conveniently a threat of the past, Max searches for a way to retrieve his son and faces a much less impressive variety of villains, such as an old lady who wants him to heal her husband, municipal law enforcement, and eventually the FBI, a seemingly far less threatening force at this point in the show.
Roswell isjust generally all over the place, fraught with manufactured and often inconclusive drama, starring actors who are of a completely inappropriate age for the roles they play… and I love it. I have no idea how many times I’ve seen this show, but maintain every confidence that the number will triple over the course of my life. I know it’s crap and I just don’t care. Thirty-four-year old Belle might not obsess over this show as much as 12-year-old Belle did, but it will forever maintain a place in my heart as one of the only real bits of solace I had during middle school.
1999, what a time to be alive. Gilmore Girls also premiered the year I started the sixth grade and quickly became one of my mother’s and my favorite shows. Lorelai Gilmore was the star of this dramedy about a mother who had her 16-year-old daughter, Rory, when she, herself, was 16. As the only child of an upper-middle class family, Lorelai felt stifled and railroaded toward a life she didn’t want. To gain her independence, she ran away to a small, quirky Connecticut village, taking her one-year-old daughter with her, maintaining as little contact as possible with her parents. That is, until the pilot episode, when she needs money for Rory’s tuition to attend a prestigious private school. Antics and tantrums ensue.
This show has a cult-like following and I’m not gonna mince words here… it is toxic as fuck. Not even in my Roswellian obsessed middle school days have I ever been as aggressive in my love of fiction. So, while I once thought it would be fun to participate in this surprisingly active fandom…
… I no longer do.
My inclusion of Gilmore Girls on this list would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge how poorly it’s aged, from the occasionally homophobic and fat-shaming humor to the “Not Like Other Girls” stereotype. While other girls starved themselves to fit into skimpy tops, listened to Avril Levigne, and obsessed over romantic comedies,Lorelai and Rory ate junk food, wore quirky but trendy outfits, listened to The Bangles, and watched classics like The Godfather. While this garners criticism from newer fans, it’s important to consider what it was liketo actually be a young woman in the early 2000’s. It sucked. There was a much more particular mold that women were expected to fit. They were supposed to be blonde, overly tanned, scantily clad, adorably stupid, and very hungry. Watching fair-skinned brunettes wear tasteful but fashionable clothing, discuss classic literature alongside obscure pop culture, and eat whatever they wanted actually was progressive in a time when Abercrombie & Fitch literally sold clothing through nudity.
Another modern critique of Gilmore Girls is Rory’s love interests, particularly Dean, her first boyfriend, who is universally loathed by new fans. In the year 1999, though, Dean was the perfect boyfriend, according to the creators of the show. He was handsome in that Classic White Boy way, understood Rory’s humor and intellect, was protective and attentive, and absolutely adored her. Today, Dean doesn’t quite hold up. What was considered protective 20 years ago, now comes across as controlling, while attentive and adoring is easily interpreted as domineering and obsessive. Even Rory’s second boyfriend, Jess, who embodied the Broody Bad Boy stereotype is often seen as abusive, because we just had much lower standards back then. In fact, many fans hate all of Rory’s love interests, including the Old Money Charmer, who I personally still adore, because what’s not to love about money and charm? What can I say? We were all a little broken in the early 00s and had whopping consent issues.
All in all, I think the above criticisms are valid, though often taken far too seriously by newer fans for a twenty-year-old WB dramedy. Gilmore Girls was never intended to be looked at through a 2022 microscope. Emily Gilmore wasn’t written as a thinly veiled version of The Grandmother from Flowers in the Attic. Lorelai wasn’t the star of Netflix’s The Maid. Rory wasn’t Anna Karenina, though it is a bit prophetic that she claims this was her favorite novel. No, this show was simply meant to be cozy fun and that’s how I choose to take it… despite it’s other issues, because aging isn’t the reason I include Gilmore Girls on a list I’ve labeled as “crap.” No, it’s earned this title from me for the glaring writing flaws. While Gilmore Girls has an undeniably cozy and charming aesthetic, it is honestly one of the most inconsistently written shows I have ever watched. From major plot points to characterization, it’s obvious that the writers of this series were just flying by the seat of their pants for the full seven seasons.
I’ll start with money, which most TV shows address poorly. In Gilmore Girls, however, money is central to the plot of the show, as Lorelai has eschewed her parents’ privileged lifestyle to raise her daughter as a single mom… where she owns her own home in a town that would have exorbitant property taxes for all the festivals it holds. Additionally, Lorelai simply doesn’t live her life as a single mom, ordering take-out nightly, taking impromptu road trips, and going on wild shopping sprees. Only when it’s plot-relevant is Lorelai impeded by her finances, such as when she needs tuition for Rory or her house has a termite problem. Throughout the rest of the series, she has plenty of money for All the Things, despite the entire premise of the show being her escape from wealth and her insistence on being a strong, independent, single mom.
I’m not sure if I’d consider characterization inconsistencies a secondary issue, simply because they’re so egregious in Gilmore Girls. In the beginning of the show, we’re introduced to Dean, the smart, witty new boy in town, who understands all of Rory’s obscure references, enjoys her books, and can build a car… who by season three isn’t sure if he can get into junior college. Lorelai’s eventual love interest, Luke, goes from the title of casual acquaintance in season one to Rory’s lifelong father figure by season six. He starts out as a health nut and an avid fisherman, who hates red meat, but eventually claims he’s disgusted by vegan food and has never had lobster. Lorelai opens the show having spent the last 16 years doing everything she could to be a different kind of mother than Emily, but cuts Rory out of her life completely when she decides to take a semester off from college. Luke’s sister and Jess’s mother is described as a neglectful addict in the beginning of the series, but is later portrayed as just a quirky flake who loves her son. Even Sookie begins the show as the klutzy chef, but seems to get her bearings by the end of the first season, because she never struggles with her recurring injuries again.
It’s not just money and character inconsistencies that plague Gilmore Girls, but entire plot points that are just… dropped, such as when Rory joins a sorority at school and it’s never again mentioned. When Lorelai discovers that her boyfriend is suing her father, it’s a big enough deal to end the relationship, but we never hear about it again. An entire episode centers around Jess visiting his dad in California, but after the proposed spinoff is ultimately nixed, we never get a resolution to that incredibly dull storyline we had to endure. Jackson takes on Taylor to become town selectman, wins, and Taylor has the title again after just a few episodes. When Rory takes time off from Yale and is magically able to graduate on time, she demands and receives a writing job at the Stamford-Eagle Gazette and never again mentions it.
Beyond the financial, character, and plot inconsistencies, Gilmore Girls is a cozy story starring some pretty crummy people. Emily gets all the grief from modern fans and she certainly has her flaws, but Lorelai isn’t exactly a better human. Her relationship with Rory is arguably no greater than Emily’s with Lorelai, as she fosters extreme co-dependency and refuses to act as the adult in the relationship. Furthermore, despite constantly complaining about her mother’s controlling and manipulative nature, she spends most of a season refusing to speak to her daughter, even to share her engagement with her, because Rory hasn’t made the exact choices in life Lorelai wanted. Rory, who starts off a little sassy and very driven, goes on to cheat on or with every boyfriend she ever has and ultimately defines entitlement. And yet… I fully intend to start another rewatch this fall, as I cozy up and enjoy the fake fall leaves of Calif-Connecticut. For all its flaws, there’s just something about Gilmore Girls that keeps me coming back, be it the aesthetic or the What Not to Do guide to motherhood.
Smallville first aired when I was 14, just one year younger than Clark Kent, high school freshman.
Had anyone working for the WB ever actually met a teenager?
Smallville had a pretty simple premise, as a Superman origin story focusing on Clark Kent’s teenage years. As in all Superman renditions, Clark is written as a gawky, awkward teenage boy, who lives and works on his parents’ Kansas farm. Unique to Smallville, however, Clark is played by a literal construction worker/male model, making this description less than believable. While his co-stars are standard fare for the early 00’s WB, meaning far too attractive and stylish, they’re also more appropriately cast for their roles. Simply put, while his classmates walk the halls of Smallville High looking like Seventeen magazine models, Clark Kent looks more like a substitute teacher or the foreman of a construction crew.
Jake and I have actually been making our way through Smallville since the summer of 2020 and it’s been a fun, if absurd, ride. Even for a superhero show, Smallville, while entertaining, is nonsensical in basically every way, such as overall characterization, the teen romances, Clark maintaining his Secret, and everything about the properties of WB kryptonite.
The characters of Smallville aren’t particularly distinctive for an early 00s teen show, initially comprised of beautiful, stylish teens who are, for some reason, considered unpopular. Clark begins his freshman year alongside friends, Chloe and Pete. Chloe is obviously Smallville’s resident Lois Lane until the creators decide to write in the actual Lois Lane in season four. She’s passionate about journalism to the point that she will destroy every relationship she has to get a story for the high school paper, The Torch, over which she seems to have absolute control. It makes perfect sense that Chloe would be in charge of the school paper, though, because she has a ridiculous number of vague professional connections, including someone at the medical examiner’s office, the mental institution, and multiple sources at the Daily Planet. It helps that she has advanced computer programming skills and can hack into literally any database without getting caught, at the age of 15. For the first three seasons, Chloe is in love with Clark, because that’s why female side characters existed in the early 00s. By far her most annoying trait, however, is her complete inability to speak in normal human sentences. Literally every line she has is such an overblown attempt to sound clever that you wonder if she’s ever actually heard people talk.
“Your online horoscope suggests that you try not to flaunt your excitement which I know will be hard since you’ve been waiting for this date since, like your first growth spurt.”
“Clark Kent at the keyboard? Have I been downsized in the bureaucratic world of superheroes?”
“Canary, you are caught in a virtual cage and you don’t even know it, but I can help you fly the coop.”
This goes on for entire episodes. As for Pete, it’s been 20 years and he did not age well. While Chloe eventually has an entire in-depth backstory, having little to do with Clark, Pete’s character revolves solely around protecting Clark’s secret… even though he sucks at it, taking every chance and excuse he gets to try to out Clark. Regardless, it’s not a good look in 2022 to have such a cliché Token Black Character as Pete Ross. Considering other POC characters, such as Jesse from Roswell, Lane from Gilmore Girls, Skills from One Tree Hill, and Gunn from Angel, it wasn’t a great look for 2001, either.
A Superman origin story would be incomplete without Lex Luthor, of course, and Michael Rosenbaum is still considered by many to have portrayed him best of all. Smallville didn’t only present a young, handsome, successful Lex Luthor, but a sympathetic one. Lex starts out as a something of a local benefactor, befriending Clark, his family, and even his friends out of genuine kindness and interest, despite their continual distrust in him because of his father, the initial villain of the story. At times, it comes off as creepy that he’s 26 and hanging out with a bunch of teenagers, but it wasn’t intended as such when the show was written. Over the seasons, Lex starts to feel hurt, then angry, and even betrayed by Clark for refusing to confide in him and the two have a falling out amidst Lex’s gradual rise to arch-nemesis. If there is any reason to watch this campy show, it is Lex Luthor’s descent into madness and, for a teen show, the WB does not disappoint in how very evil he becomes, from trying to kill Johnathan Kent, to essentially having groomed Lana to be his lover, to committing war crimes.
Finally, there are Clark’s love interests, Lana and then Lois. Lana is Clark’s first love in Smallville and she is absolutely insufferable. I’ll give this show credit for the fact that the majority of the relationships are relatively healthy… except for Clark and Lana who spend far more time having angsty conversations about why they can’t be together than they ever actually spend together. This is primarily because Lana demands that Clark share all of his secrets with her from the very beginning, eventually even teaming up with Lex to investigate him, despite being quite secretive herself. As the show goes on, Lana gets progressively worse, as do the storylines surrounding her, from her sleeping with a teacher, to becoming a witch, to hooking up with Lex. Despite the writers’ insistence that she’s a deep, interesting, sympathetic character, she’s continually proven to be quite the opposite as the show goes on, eventually going toe-to-toe with Lex in corruption.
On the bright side, though Lois definitely fits the Mysterious Gorgeous Bitch trope of the early 00s, when compared to Lana, she’s America’s sweetheart. Lois isn’t a bad character, so much as she’s a bit too abrasive for the iconic role. In the early 00s, strong women were often written as physically beautiful, but closed-off and overtly rude. This is definitely on display in Smallville as Lois repeatedly mocks and insults Clark, despite his and his family’s every kindness. The animosity doesn’t destroy the chemistry between the two, but it’s also never been the case for Lois in any other version of Superman, to be this hateful to Clark, when she just considered Clark to be somewhat dorky, at worst.
Perhaps one of the biggest failings of the writing in Smallville is around Clark’s “secret.” I use quotes, because eventually everyone in Clark’s life knows about his powers, and if they don’t, they should, because he uses them in public constantly. In nearly every episode of this show, there’s a scene where Clark uses his super speed on a public street, yet when his cousin Kara does the same, he throws a tantrum about the importance of subtlety. The only characters kept in the dark for any real length of time are Lana, Lex, and Lois, solely for purposes of plot and overwrought drama. Even guest stars are frequently let in on this secret that isn’t, to the point that there is just no way that it’s not public knowledge by the end of season three.
Finally, the biggest flaw in Smallville: Kryptonite. It’s comic book canon that Kryptonite comes in multiple forms and Clark is impacted in a variety of ways. The problemis that there’s so much Kryptonite in Smallville and it’s affects vary so wildly. For the first several seasons, this show is pretty Monster of the Week with a new kid at school developing miraculous powers that are usually only dangerous because they’re being used in the wrong way. There are two students who can control bugs, one who can turn people into mannequins, another who can freeze people, a young Amy Adams who can suck the fat out of people until they die, several with various forms of telekinesis, a reporter who can turn into water, a few different seductresses… and the list continues. For some reason, however, the Luthors are the only individuals in the world who are interested in studying and experimenting with this magic rock, even though it’s all over town. You’d think that would pose a problem for Clark. Well, sometimes it does… and a lot of times it doesn’t, like when he can’t see it’s in the same room with him yet, while other times, it’s just too hard to roll away from it. Different kinds of Kryptonite require different levels of exposure too, as red Kryptonite appears to be topical, while silver has to be embedded in the skin. The aliens of Roswell have more consistent powers than Clark’s and everyone else’s response to Kryptonite. It’s just a persistent and glaring plot hole in every other episode.
Despite all these issues, Smallville seems to have been the beginning of the the current superhero TV saga and, as consistently ridiculous as it is, there’s something comforting about its camp. Like many shows of the time, it of course ran for far too long, so it may be another two years before Jake and I finish it, but we have both enjoyed it, even if it’s half in mockery.
One Tree Hill
One Tree Hill started my sophomore year of high school and ended my first year of grad school. It told the story of two brothers in their junior year, who shared only a father, Dan. Lucas, was raised by his father’s high school sweetheart, Karen, who he abandoned when he discovered she was pregnant, and his brother Keith. Dan immediately impregnated another woman, Deb, who came from money and could help him become the wealthy businessman he was in the show. Naturally, he married Deb and raised his second son, Nathan while neglecting Lucas. The two grew up as rivals in the town of Tree Hill, only for their relationship to come to a head when they found themselves on the same high school basketball team.
Y’all, the only thing I hated more than sports in high school were the popular kids who bullied me. I have no idea why I enjoyed this show. I think I felt some kinship toward Haley, Luke’s nerdy best friend, though she was far more poised and adorable than I have ever been. Perhaps it was just the depiction of the outcasts becoming accepted that I enjoyed, because in One Tree Hill, even the losers were eventually included to some degree. There was also the romantic element, which received far more screen time than the basketball plot, since everyone slept with everyone in this incestuous little town. I was particularly invested in the love story of Nathan and Haley, who married and had a baby as teenagers, the pinnacle of early 00’s Don’t Try This At Home teenage girl fantasies. Despite my enduring affection for this terrible show, basically every single thing about it is beyond problematic.
I’ve mentioned the relationships of both Roswell and Gilmore Girls, intentionally avoiding the word “toxic,” as I consider it hyperbolic and overused… unless one is describing the Gilmore Girls fandom. That being said, basically every relationship in One Tree Hill, outside of Nathan’s and Haley’s could only be described as toxic. Lucas opens the show utterly obsessed with Peyton, Nathan’s girlfriend and the absolute embodiment of the Mysterious Gorgeous Bitch trope. In Peyton’s case, the mystery for her atrocious personality was the fact that her mother had died while she was young, her father worked out of town, and her boyfriend was absolutely horrible to her. She wasn’t alone in this title, however. Nope. That moniker was shared with Lucas’s other romantic partner, Brooke, Peyton’s best friend.
This is what teenage girls were supposed to look like in 2004.
Throughout several seasons of the show, Lucas plays Peyton and Brooke off of one-another, frequently cheating on Brooke with Peyton, yet never concerned with the fact that he and his brother are wiener buddies twice over… because the teenagers in this town are apparently in the porn industry. Literally every relationship depicted in this show is horribly unhealthy and sets a terrible example for teenage girls. Even Nathan and Haley are only a dim light in the dark when she kisses another guy before going on tour with him. Yes, Haley goes on tour, because aside from the toxic relationships, the plot points in this show are ludicrous.
It’s been awhile since my last rewatch of One Tree Hill, but I do recall that over the course of this show, the following storylines take place:
Nathan becomes an emancipated minor to escape his insane parents and marries Haley at 16.
Haley leaves Nathan to go on tour with Chris Keller, played by up-and-coming singer Tyler Hilton, who played Elvis in Walk the Line, but otherwise never made it.
Bullied teen, Jimmy, from the first few episodes brings a gun to school and holds a classroom full of students hostage, eventually shooting himself alone in a hall with Dan and Keith. Dan takes advantage of the opportunity to shoot his brother and blames Jimmy.
Peyton meets the brother she’s never heard of, but discovers he’s really an obsessed stalker who wants to rape her.
Nathan gets involved with small town gangsters who are really into betting on high school basketball (is that even a thing?) and gets caught throwing games.
Haley gets pregnant and intends to renew her vows with Nathan, but gets in a car accident on the way and nearly dies.
A witness comes forward and puts Dan in prison for the murder of Keith.
Four years pass and we find Nathan in a wheelchair after getting in a fight at a bar and ruining his chances at playing professional basketball for a team that just signed him.
Nathan and Haley’s crazy nanny tries to seduce Nathan and takes Dan hostage, posing as a nurse.
I’ll stop there, even though there are way more ridiculous plot points to note, because I want to mention one of the biggest issues that makes this show complete trash, and that is the insane level of success that every single character reaches after college. While the first four seasons of One Tree Hill tell the story of the characters’ junior and senior year of high school, even writers for the WB/CW seemed to realize that these actors were just getting too old for these roles. So, instead of writing a story where everyone went to college together, they chose to skip ahead four years to age 22, wheneveryone has their shit together.
I don’t know where you folks were at 22, but I was married to a psychopath and substitute teaching while working at a rec center for minimum wage, driving around with my valuables in my trunk so my ex wouldn’t pawn them. I certainly wasn’t married to an almost professional basketball player, down on his luck but still rolling in it from his sign-on deal, raising an adorable four-year-old, and reaching troubled teens with my love of literature. I knew zero published authors working as a high school basketball coach for their love of the game. I also didn’t have any friends who’d started luxury clothing lines or become successful sportscasters. I certainly didn’t know any22-year-old record producers/club owners the year I graduated college. I’d buy the plot point that a stoner’s dog ate Dan’s heart before I’d buy that anyone is that successful right out of college…
No really, I’m not making this up.
… and still, I find myself trying to figure out if I can finish Roswell in time to start One Tree Hill with enough time to start Gilmore Girls in the fall, while Jake and I continue to truck along on Smallville, because there’s just something so comforting about the shows I watched as a teenager, no matter how ridiculous. Perhaps it’s the stress of soaring gas prices and inflation and the threat of a world war that leads me to seek solace in pure nostalgia. Perhaps I just take comfort in the fact that Jake will never impregnate my alien rival… I’ll never not know who the father of my baby is… my former best friend won’t attempt to assassinate my father… and a dog will probably never eat my heart… but what can I say? When it comes to 00s shows, I just have terrible taste.
I, like everyone else, was determined to be productive when Covid-19 hit my country and the lockdown was implemented, in various stages. I was going to do yoga and all sorts of crafts and read all the books and workout and write and, and, and…
I did do some of those things. I walked a lot and on those walks, I listened to audiobooks. I hand-painted a cartoon portrait of my dogs in a bathtub. I painted and decorated the hall bathroom. I… bought a yoga mat and blocks. Mostly… I watched a lot of TV shows, old and new, good and bad. Here are my thoughts, limited to very mild spoilers only.
Lizzie McGuire: I loved this show as a young teen. It was less about relating to Lizzie, herself, and more about wishing I could relate to her very wholesome experiences, at school and at home. As an adult, I realize that this was a pretty sugarcoated version of the middle school years, though, and I’m thrilled that the reboot fell through. Duff wanted an “honest” depiction of life in your 30’s, claiming that the original show portrayed an honest depiction of middle school and I call shenanigans on that. Not once did one of Lizzie’s classmates fear pregnancy, because she swallowed after her first blowie… and that’s a big part of the appeal for me. Even today, I retroactively envy Lizzie’s home life, with her supportive parents and annoying, poorly disciplined little brother. It’s delightful to see that this is one of those shows you can watch as an adult and realize you now relate to the parents just as much as you once did the kids. They weren’t written as clueless or naïve and I’d say this is still a wonderfully hokey watch, that I can’t wait to share with my girls.
The Mandalorian: I’m not gonna lie. I far prefer Star Trek to Star Wars and have picked many a fight with my husband over who would win in a battle, Spock or Obi Wan… because I am cool. The newest installments to the latter have left me cold and viciously hating Rey, because women can be strong and independent, without being ungrateful assholes. So, I had little interest in The Mandalorian, beyond the cuteness of Baby Yoda, but my husband was really excited about it, as were my library teens… and Baby Yoda was still the primary appeal for me. I watched every episode of this series and I couldn’t tell you much about the plot, past “save the child.” One of my teens recently told me that the reason he loves it so much, is that it’s the closest thing to Firefly that isn’t Firefly. I disagree. Sure, the setting is similar, but the heroes aren’t warm or funny or even attractive and the villains are relatively bland. If you’re a diehard Star Wars fan, you’ll likely love The Mandalorian, but if you can take it or leave it, you’re unlikely to feel any differently about this installment. Baby Yoda is adorable, though.
Once Upon a Time: This Disney/ABC family show is objectively terrible, overall. The CGI sets are laughably bad in the first season and the child actor gets progressively worse as his cuteness wears off. The storylines are engaging and clever in the beginning, but quickly become more about participation trophies and honorary mentions, as the writers work to include every Disney character ever throughout the seasons. Honestly, though, it’s still a really fun watch. It’s nice to enjoy a fantasy story that truly appeals to all ages, including fight scenes and love stories in equal measure, with absolutely no penis. Game of Thrones and True Blood have their appeal, but there is definitely a point where I feel like nurses see less dick. Once Upon a Time is not what I’d call good. It’s campy at times and goes on for far too long. I haven’t finished the show, but I’m absolutely certain that it jumps the shark, probably specifically the one from Finding Nemo, if the reviews are any indication. Still, it keeps me engaged, when I want some harmless drama and excitement… and can stomach the heroes repeatedly releasing the villains and being absolutely shocked when they do something evil, once again.
Big Bang Theory: Originally, BBT was a clever sitcom portraying a demographic often ignored… even if some thought the jokes just made dumb people feel smart. The show truly jumped the shark, however, when all of the relationships and female characters became its central focus. Penny was always a plot device, the Xander, a character to whom the audience could relate, as she asked questions on their behalf. She normalized the nerds and acted as the inevitable love interest. She had a purpose. Bernadette was an entertaining representation of how women can be smart and beautiful, though she received little depth as anything beyond Howard’s gal. Then, Amy Farrah Fowler joined the show, lighting the fuse that was its inevitable explosion. Amy was an offensive stereotype of female intellectuals: frumpy, socially clueless, and boring. She had to “fix” Sheldon, who didn’t need fixing as an asexual character, and refused to respect his boundaries… or those of anyone else on the show. While she did get progressively worse, it wasn’t just her. The jokes became formulaic and the focus entirely shifted, as happens to many sitcoms that run too long. What was once a tale of geeky men exploring their post-college years, became a failed attempt at a nerdy Everybody Loves Raymond with jokes about marriage and parenting dominating the predictable dialogue of literally every single character, including the no-longer-asexual Sheldon… because that’s how sexuality works. If I ever rewatch BBT, I’ll stop before the first wedding and recommend the same.
Friends: David Schwimmer carried this show. Whether you like his character or not, the actor was the best at physical comedy and delivery. From the first episode, Schwimmer sold Ross as the awkward, nerdy, doormat. Did everything about his character age well? No, but neither did a lot of things, so I’m willing to look at Ross through the lens of 1999, too. Not only did I enjoy Ross more, I found myself hating Rachel, especially past the “we were on a break” drama. She left a man at the altar and slept with him after he got engaged, slept with an ex after he groped her friend, was always a terrible employee, slept with her assistant, took advantage of her friends, treated Ross like a sweater she neither wanted to wear nor donate by stringing him along for years and sabotaging his every new relationship, and gave the father of her baby no actual say in his daughter’s well-being while simultaneously expecting him to do all of the husbandly things without the title. I shipped Chandler and Monica at one time, with their friends-to-lovers trope and enjoyed their storyline again, but now realize that Phoebe and Mike were the couple to beat. They had an adorable meet-cute with real chemistry. Mike accepted Phoebe for all of her history and annoying quirks, with zero embarrassment. Best of all, their relationship never had time to drag. Schwimmer might have been the comedic lead, but Paul Rudd was the real romantic MVP.
It’s a Sin: I thought this miniseries had six episodes. When I realized it was only five, I was relieved, because it was absolutely heartbreaking. When it comes to movies and TV, I’m basically a robot. Nothing but dead animals and babies makes me cry. The Notebook?Titanic? Schindler’s List? Nope. That being said, I cried during every episode of It’s a Sin and I mean tears streaming down my face. It’s such a compelling tale of a group of mostly gay friends, living in 1980s London, during the AIDS epidemic. The protagonists aren’t caricatures and neither are the villains, really, as the leads each leave home and make their way to London, where they can live their lives freely… until they start to fall ill, one by one. Surprisingly, religion is rarely addressed as the reason for the stigma against homosexuality (and AIDS by extension), which I appreciated, because it’s not necessarily as historically accurate in the 80’s UK as it would be in the US South. This show infuriated me as a librarian, as the main characters struggled to find any information on the mysterious illness killing people they loved. I’ve never been happier for such an amazing show to end. I have read criticism that the one (seemingly straight) character was the Token Straight Friend, but I consider that to be a horrible way to talk about allies. Plenty of straight people lost friends and loved ones to AIDS and this show did a great job portraying that, as well.
7th Heaven: At 10 years old, I wanted to be Mary Camden. All of my friends were slender, athletic, and had parents who made sure they bathed and their clothes fit. I never could seem to master any of those. I realize now, depressingly enough, that my mother wanted to be Annie Camden: wanted by her husband, respected by her community, with children who looked up to her, able to keep all the balls in the air… and she never could master any of those, herself. So, watching this show as an adult was bittersweet for me, as I recognized how far my mother’s life veered from what she wanted. While 7th Heaven might have hit a soft spot for me, though, it has probably aged worse than anything in the history of time. Every negative thing about the 90s is encapsulated in this show, from the most oppressive purity culture to low-key racism thought progressive. The Camdens controlled their children’s sexuality with an iron first, from first kisses to first times. They knew one black family, a most accurate example of Token Black Characters, as nearly every episode featuring them was themed around race… which was also true for all other non-white character mentions. It also went on for way too long. By season 8, all but a handful of the original actors had given up, and so did I. Nostalgia aside, there’s only so much time I can spend with early 00s churchy people, without having flashbacks of my own.
Roswell: At age 12, I was obsessed with Roswell. I mean that I would be concerned if my child were so fixated on something. I work with teenagers, so that’s saying something. Having reached my adult height by sixth grade and still a few years out from my breast reduction, I remember watching Liz Parker stand in front of her mirror in her matching bra and panties, knowing I could never wear something like that, because the cute stuff didn’t come in my size. If I wanted to be utterly mortified, I could dig up the diaries where I introduced myself with my full name in every entry, just like Liz. Still, I think I’d have preferred to be Isabel, beautiful and in possession of alien powers, with two brother figures who wanted to protect her. Middle school Belle had issues and this show is a lot of what got her through them, so for that reason, Roswell will always have a place in my heart. Objectively speaking, though, it isn’t much different than many early 00s shows, featuring gorgeous actors far too old to play the dramatic and angsty parts assigned. It does, however, lack the clever wit of its more iconic competitors, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and doesn’t measure up in the sci-fi world to shows like Firefly, with a plot riddled with holes. It’s unsurprising that Roswell never made it past three seasons, but I don’t care, because those came at just the right time for me.
Smallville: I never intended for Smallville to be a good rewatch. I just wanted something mindless and campy and Tom Welling’s Clark Kent seemed like a good fit. I’d argue that this show is, overall, one of the worst in the Superman franchise. For starters, if Tom Welling can pass for 15 in season one, I can pass for Betty White now. Clark is supposed to be this gawky and awkward teenager, but no amount of stumbling or sputtering from Welling makes up for his age and build. Any teenage boy who looked like that would be the crush of every girl and invited to every party… once people realized he wasn’t a substitute teacher. It’s not that Welling does a bad job portraying Clark, it’s just that it’s utterly unconvincing at age 25. The mostly Monster of the Week plot doesn’t really redeem Smallville either. While Michael Rosenbaum is my all time favorite Lex Luthor, we barely get to see his dark side for several seasons and the supporting characters leave something to be desired, especially Lana. I don’t remember hating this character. Chloe annoyed me until she got over her Clark crush and started acting like a real friend, but I loathe Lana. She’s self-absorbed and whiney and thinks everyone in her life owes her their every secret. Regardless of its other flaws, Lana is what makes me not want to watch, as an adult. The rest, however, is more or less what I wanted: mindless, campy fun.
Gilmore Girls: Gilmore Girls has been quite the comfort watch for me, over the years. Lorelai always had money for the things she and Rory needed and wanted, despite the insistence that she had to get by on hard work and grit. If ever that wasn’t true, The Bank of Gilmore was happy to write a check, in exchange for company only. The heroines were effortlessly beautiful, universally loved, and were handed the world on a silver platter that they mocked for its pretention. They were best friends and adored by all men and their snowglobe town. It was the ultimate fantasy. I tried to rewatch in 2020, though, and just couldn’t get over how ungrateful these two were for their obscene privilege. Sure, you have a complicated relationship with your parents… so do a lot of people whose parents aren’t willing to write them checks or buy them lavish gifts. The Poor Little Rich Girl plot just didn’t hold up for me after the last year and Lorelai’s insistence on being a friend, rather than a mom, was extremely grating when I work with teens in this situation, was a teen in this situation, and prepare to have daughters of my own. Perhaps Reddit just ruined this one for me by villainizing literally every character, claiming abuse all around and scrutinizing the entire show through a 2020 lens. Maybe I just need to come back in another time of life, but this one was a surprising pandemic no-go for me.
Stranger Things: Oh, Stranger Things, the leading title in shows that didn’t need subsequent seasons. My favorite thing about ST is the hilariously spot-on portrayal of teenagers and the amazing acting that accomplishes it. I love me some teen dramas, but working with the age group has me hyperaware that they are almost never portrayed as a day younger than 19 and always by actors older than that. ST breaks the mold with its nerdy 80s middle schoolers and unique sci-fi plot… in the first season. Unlike many, I never felt that ST needed a second, and definitely not a third, season. I didn’t need to be introduced to Billy and Max, who completely lifted out of the story. I didn’t need the audience-pandering reveal of a Steve who’s scooping ice cream and a Jonathan with a successful career, when the opposite is totally what would have happened, considering Steve’s privilege and charm and Johnathan’s poverty and general creepiness. I didn’t need a love story between the single mom and the drunken, incompetent chief of police. I didn’t need to watch Genius Elle stumble over the English language for three years. I didn’t need to see Mike’s mom become a cheating whore. Mostly, I didn’t need all of the sci-fi plot explained, in detail, ultimately removing any and all mystery from the storyline. Sometimes, less really is more and I don’t care if I’m entirely alone in saying that ST would have been far better as a miniseries with a dark and open ending.
Vampire Diaries: VD started off alright, for teen angst played by beautiful twenty-somethings, a favorite genre of mine. Admittedly, Ian Somerholder carried the show, only slightly aided when the original vampires arrived in season four, but it was still a fun watch… at first. My earliest problem with VD was that all affection for Elena dissipated by season three, seemingly a trope of vampire dramas, as Sookie Stackhouse suffered the same fate. It made for a rough watch when I loathed the main character everyone loved. VD didn’t even have True Blood’s handy backup of engaging support characters, either… just Damon and occasionally Caroline. As with most CW shows, Vampire Diaries’ greatest sin was that it went on far too long. Nina Dobrev (Elena) wasn’t even in the last two seasons and it wasn’t not the saving grace it sounds, because VD was the TV show that most obviously revealed it was never intended to be binged. I’ve never seen anything more redundant. Even reminding myself that the story was supposed to span eight years, I couldn’t get past the fact that every character died multiple times. I’m not exaggerating. A Google search reveals that the only character who didn’t die was Klaus, who left the show for his own spin-off. By season five, character death had zero impact, because supernatural loopholes would just allow for their return. After that, I wished for the ability to watch at double speed. At least True Blood had Alcide Herveaux.
Bewitched: At age nine, as my parents were growing less and less interested in me, TV was my best friend. Nick at Nite’s Block Party Summer was the best thing ever and Bewitched night was my favorite. I suppose I just never grew out of my desire to live in a world with magic and Bewitched painted a picture of a grown-up existence where that was possible. On my rewatch, I realized the magic is still there. I still love the 60s aesthetic, even knowing the absolute hogwash that was the decade’s representation. I still wish Endora were my mother and consider her way ahead of her time. I still adore the shenanigans that came with a magical, meddling family. I just have one complaint: Darrin Stephens. Darrin was, at best, a bully with no redeeming qualities. Not only did he not allow Samantha to use her magic, due to his own insecurities, he insisted she hide who she truly was, because he was ashamed of her… unless he directly benefited. Their marriage was a wonderful representation of the oppression of the mid-century housewife. I’d like to think that someone magical and immortal was only with him as some form of social experiment. In my mind, 2021 Samantha is as young and hot as ever, raising her two magical children, her late husband nearly forgotten. This conclusion makes for a much better watch, because of all the shows I rewatched during the pandemic, I think this is one I’ll never outgrow.
Mad Men: I got Jake to watch the first episode of this one two years ago, only for him to rage quit, insisting Don Draper was a representation of how men can’t be successful and good. Not until recently could I convince him to try again, after explaining that Don isn’t supposed to be a hero and pointing out that if he can cheer for any of the characters in Game of Thrones, he can get off his soap box. So, I purchased the entire show on Vudu and I’m enjoying it more than I did the first time, as is Jake. Mad Men is generally one of those shows that gets better when you know the ending, as you recognize the growth of the characters through the years, in direct correlation to the shifting political and social times. Not only do I see the intention behind Don’s character changing according to what society thinks he’s supposed to be, but his older counterpart, Roger, goes through later stages of the same, even without a secret identity. In contrast, from episode one, we see Peggy’s battle with who she’s supposed to be and who she wants to be, while Betty and Joan cling to roles they were raised to fill… one with success and the other without. We even get to see how these dilemmas impact their children, growing up in such a volatile decade, all with astounding wit and impeccable taste. I’m definitely not sorry to own Mad Men.
The Office: Jake and I watched The Office for the first time, during the summer of 2019. When my manual laborer landed a promotion placing him in an office setting, though, I insisted we rewatch from episode one, so he could experience the business casual shenanigans in a new perspective. I bought the DVDs on Amazon and The Office has been even more enjoyable the second time. Originally, I found Jim to be somewhat spineless, pining for Pam for years without action, while seeing Pam as a bit cruel for stringing along both him and Roy. This time, I was able to better recognize the nuance, knowing how things ended up for the couple. Not only did the two work together, but Pam’s live-in fiancé also worked downstairs. There’s no scenario where she leaves her fiancé and dates her coworker and everyone is happy. I also figured out what exactly I don’t like about Pam and can get past it as a very human flaw: she is an utter doormat. While I could never relate to being that much of a pushover, that trait makes her transgressions a lot more forgivable. As for Michael, while I love Steve Carrell, I find him to be a much more abhorrent person than I first did. I place intentions higher than most and they still don’t carry that much weight. Holly was just as dorky, while being a much better person, and I’m a bit sad that she doesn’t get someone better.
In honor of Halloween. Originally posted October 29, 2013.
A few weeks ago, I was telling Gail about my Game of Thrones marathon. I tried to explain that, no matter how drawn out the storyline was, it was entirely worth it to keep up with the Khaleesi.
Gail: “Okay. Wait. Are you sure she’s the heroine? Because, you really don’t have the best track record with that.”
Me: “Hey. Like 14 people liked my Facebook status defending the witch against Hansel and Gretel. Those little shits vandalized her house. She was the victim, damn it!”
Gail: ::silence:: Me: “.. but, no. Everyone else thinks the Khaleesi is the heroine, too. Even the people who can’t see that Cruella de Vil was doing her part to curb over-breeding.”
She’s practically an activist.
So, it came as no surprise to Gail that, for my next blog post, I was going to make my case for the Sanderson sisters… particularly since I’ve watched Hocus Pocus nine times this month and have been quoting it on Facebook daily. Actually. Best thing about living alone: the dog doesn’t care that I can (and do) recite that movie as it plays. Now, just to clarify, my argument isn’t so much that the Sanderson sisters were innocent and/or wronged. It’s more that their actions were justified. The kids in the movie deserved to have their souls sucked dry. Happy Halloween, y’all.
We all know the story. In 1693, the Sanderson sisters were tried and convicted of witchcraft, after punishing some young trespassers. Perhaps the girl was lured into the yard; perhaps not. We never got to hear the details of the case, over the sounds of angry townspeople. We do, however, know that Thackery Binx was was doomed to live forever as a cat. Wait. Doomed? Being an immortal cat would be fucking awesome!
Regardless, the witches cast one last spell, just before they were hanged.
Three hundred years later, in not-so-modern-day Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison and his “laid-back, California, tie-dyed point-of-view” have relocated with parents and little sister Dani. Though he lives in the aparent Halloween capitol of the United States, Max isn’t buying into this whole “Sanderson sisters” bit. His enthusiasm for his new school and town is further lessened, by the bullies who steal his shoes.
His name ain’t Ernie no more.
Disgruntled and frustrated, Max goes home in socks, only to flop on the bed and masturbate to the thought of Allison, the pretty girl in class, who totally shot him down. Fortunately, little sister Dani leaps from the closet before Max unzips, demanding to be taken trick-or-treating. Max puts up a fight, declaring that she’s eight and can go by herself.
Ultimately, Max ends up escorting his little sister, leading them to a luxurious house, owners unknown. Finally, we begin to see the true character of these little delinquents as they knock on the door of this stranger’s home, and upon receiving no answer, stroll right on in. Alright Dani, I’ll forgive you for this. You’re eight. There’s candy involved… but what the fuck Max?!?! You’re 16/17 years old! You’re on your way to a fucking B&E!
Fortunately for Max and Dani, this just happens to be the home of Max’s mastubatory heroine, the one and only Allison… and she is simply delighted that the boy she turned down earlier in the day is standing in her foyer uninvited and stealing candy. At this point, Dani embarrasses Max by declaring that he loves Allison’s “yabbos.” Rather than asking her obvious stalker to leave, the teenage model in a $200 Halloween costume laughs at the fact that the rude and awkward new kid has been talking to his kid sister about her tits.
Allison seems taken with Dani and tells her that her mother used to run the museum dedicated to the Sanderson sisters. Max immediately suggests they break in.
I told you he was on his way to a B&E. Despite the protests of both Dani and Allison, the three criminals soon find themselves in the old Sanderson house… setting shit on fire.
Okay, I get that this was just a candle with a mystical warning, but this place is a damned tinder box. Look at it! It’s made of 300 year old wood! It’s best not to start fires, y’all. Also, why the hell is all this stuff still here? Doesn’t someone own the merchandise? I mean, maybe they can’t just sell the Occult shit to tourists, but the lighters and the candy? If this place was so haunted that the workers had to just desert everything inside, I’m pretty sure Satan’s Damned Candle isn’t just sitting around with an “I dare you” sign on a box of matches. Just sayin’.
Max reads the inscription and Dani does not ask what a virgin is. I’m sorry, but this is the one thing that I just don’t buy. I’ll allow for the suspension of disbelief for everything else, but as much as I adore this movie, Dani was eight. They just said so! It was 1993 and her parents scolded Max for saying “sucked.” There is no way she knew what a virgin was. Anyway… just as Max lights the Black Flame Candle, the electric lights burst and… wait, wait, wait. If someone’s paying the electric bill, surely this place is better guarded than this!
Green lights flash as the witches strut in and marvel over who lit the Black Flame candle. Upon discovery of the children… wait. Hold it. In 1693, a boy Max’s age was considered a man. He likely had a wife and kids. What, exactly, are the parameters for “child?” Anyway… apparently Max and Allison both qualify as children, because the Sanderson sisters want to eat them as well. I’m a little confused as to whether or not they were, indeed, cannibals and feel Disney has done me a great disservice by not clarifying. Case in point: “Let’s barbecue and filet him.” – Mary
In an effort to flee, Max sets off the sprinkler system, insisting it is “the burning rain of death.” Okay, so at this point, this kid has not only broken into two houses and risked burning the latter to the ground, but now he’s flooded it? Three hundred year old wood is going to be seriously damaged by that much water! Eat him Winifred. Eat him and scratch your back with his spinal column, for destroying your home. Before Max can escape, Binx the cat leaps onto his chest, calls him a fucktard, and instructs him to steal the sisters’ spell book.
1. Breaking and entering… twice
2. Lighting the Black Flame Candle
3. Flooding the house
4. Stealing the priceless Occult artifacts
How is Max the protagonist? Why is Max the protagonist? He asked for all of this.
Sidenote: Did anyone try to blow the Black Flame Candle out? I mean, it’s at least worth a go, you know?
After robbing a museum, the derelicts and cat seek refuge in a cemetery… after dark. That’s right. The cemetery was closed.
5. Breaking into a cemetery
In contrast, the Sanderson sisters did not break in. They just hovered over the ground for awhile. Eventually, events lead the witches, desperately trying to reclaim their rightful property, to a neighborhood filled with trick-or-treaters. In the meantime, Max leads Binx into the street, with no idea that he’s immortal, ultimately getting the cat run over. Even if he doesn’t die, we know it hurts, because he complained of pain later, when he was held over an open flame.
6. Killing/inflicting immense pain upon Binx
As the witches seek out children, the main ingredient in the potion that will allow them to live forever, they come upon a creepy old man dressed as Satan and think he’s the real deal. They figure their “master” can help them reclaim their book. Let’s just hope it’s not like the books I get back, covered in urine. Who knows, though. Max clearly has no regard for anyone else’s property. The Sanderson sisters consult with Fake Satan, while Max and company try to convince a cop (psych) and eventually his own parents that they’re in danger. The sisters realize they’re mistaken about their master and leave to find that their brooms have been stolen by three children dressed as our “villains.”
Who the hell just steals a bunch of brooms that clearly belong to someone?!?! No wonder the Sanderson sisters want to kill children! It’s not like they’ve had any pleasant experiences with them!
The witches chase the “protagonists” to a town party, where Max has been unsuccessfully trying to convince his parents that he’s being stalked by the supernatural. No shit. Really? After the sisters put on a lovely performance, encouraging overweight Americans to get some exercise with “dance until you die!”, the children hatch a plan to burn the witches in the school kiln… in the middle of the night.
7. Breaking into a government building in the middle of the night
8. Operating highly volatile and expensive equipment with no experience
9. Burning school property in the form of a boombox used as bait
The witches burn as the children cheer… sadistic little shits. But, wait! They’re not really dead. Binx is fully aware that this may be the case, instructing them not to open the Sanderson sisters’ spell book. Allison, however, is enjoying her bad boy phase and declares “What harm could it do?”
For realz, yo?!?! It’s made of human skin and has a working eye. What the hell kind of harm do you think it can do?!?!
While Max was making out with Allison, the Sanderson sisters acquired some more children…
Seriously. What is a child? On what are they basing this?
… and are currently waiting for death, when they look out the window and see the beacon sent out by the book. You know what? I’ve about decided that this is just the story of a woman desperately fighting censorship. We’ve got another activist here.
Belatedly, Binx the cat tells the kids that “nothing good can come from this book”… because it is made of human skin. Seriously. These kids fucking asked for it. There’s a final showdown in the cemetery…
10. Breaking into the cemetery again
… and sadly, Max survives, though Winifred had him in her clutches.
Not only does Max survive, but the Sanderson sisters perish. The worst part? The only intelligent and good being in the entire movie is officially killed. That’s right. Binx the Immortal Talking Cat is turned back into a stupid boy. What the fuck, Disney? First you take the awesome talking furniture in Beauty and the Beast and turn it into boring ol’ people and then you kill Binx the Immortal Talking Cat?!?!?
The movie ends on this tragic note, but we see in the sequel that Max and Dani got theirs for leaving the bullies to slowly starve to death in cages. Though it’s never addressed in Hocus Pocus, the brief soul sucking leads to Max’s eventual demise. His parents no longer mention his name, their marriage crumbles, and Dani grows up to seek refuge from that tragic night, through the comfort of the deeply disturbed neighbor boy in…
I think the thing that makes me such a great blogger is my dependability. I never just randomly disappear for weeks on end. Oh, wait…
Chiefly, my reason is that I desperately need a new computer. Every time I start to write a blog, this one spits popups at me and growls. Also, I got really into this book series… hashtag librarian woes, y’all.
Speaking of which… while Gail and I align on many levels, our literary tastes are not one of them.
As you can tell, this doesn’t stop me from making references she wishes she didn’t understand. After all, fair’s fair and if I have to read her NPR transcript, via text message, she’s gonna know the outline of my latest novel. This month, I’m stuck on the Outlander series.
Yeah… that about sums it up.
Kidding. There’s actually a lot more plot to this one than my typical werewolf porn. I mean, they had to have some basis for the Starz series. Essentially, though, it was the first in what became a slightly obscure genre (Amish romance is a thing y’all) of Scottish highlander time travel adventure romance novels. I kid you not. There are many, many knockoffs of this series and they usually focus much more heavily on the romance (sex) than the rest. This one, however, has sparked a great deal of conversation between Gail and I, for two reasons…
1. Deep down, I’m still the 12-year-old who not only knew all of the shippers for Roswellian fandom, but also the rules of chat room role play games. I will talk Gaily’s ear off about a new obsession.
2. Even the fandom I adore gets over-analyzed and mocked by me, because everything in this world is funny.
While neither Gail nor I have grown up in any true luxury, we both came to adulthood in Shetland, a middle income Southern suburb. We graduated high school in 2006, with dial up internet connections, cell phones, and three-minute microwavable pasta. So, in my chatter over my latest series, Gail the Mailman and I, Belle the Librarian, have been discussing just how very poorly we’d do in 18th century Scotland.
Naturally, this has led to plans to pen a Scottish highlander time travel adventure romance satire… because we bring the party.It’s actually been great fun trading ideas back and forth.
Braxley Engel’s Unsexy and Disappointing First Person Narrative of a Venture Through Time, by Belle Roquemore and Gail Frederickson. I think a catchy title is key.
Chapter 1: How I almost died of exposure. For realz yo, it was 65 degrees out today… in mid-November. I feel confident stating that 18th century Scottish winter wear does not have the word “PINK” emblazoned on the butt in rhinestones.
Chapter 2: Why doesn’t anyone speak English?!?! There actually is no universally accepted criteria for differentiating between dialects and languages. However, over 30% of Scotland speaks Scots today and no one can quite decide if it’s a language or a dialect.* It’s pretty reasonable to assume that if 2014 Braxley woke up in 1743 Scotland, she would be fucked.
Chapter 3: Wait… what the hell is my backstory?!?! If the destruction of the personalized keychain industry wasn’t enough to make you reconsider that ridiculous damned baby name with all of its x’s and apostrophes, perhaps this will! All silly first names that aren’t actually names aside, most Americans know very little about their origins. Sure, Braxley knows that Engel is German, but does she know that Germany was Prussia? Furthermore, can she speak the language? Also, that accent doesn’t exist yet.
Chapter 4: Why is my warrior so hideous?!?! Folks, we dose our water with fluoride for a reason. We also lose a lot fewer limbs these days. Aside from such trivial matters as teeth and arms, though, the average height of a Scottish male in the 18th century was 5’3″.* That’s like, ignore his eHarmony message short. That’s like, stand on my feet while we slow dance, short. That’s like… hope I don’t have any 5’3″ male readers, short. Not to mention, while I lack a Wikipedia article on it, I’m pretty sure 18th century warriors weren’t shy about farting and scratching their asses.
Chapter 5: Where’s the soap? What’s toothpaste? Who’s Tampon? You guys, you’re out of toilet paper! Where are the razors? Oh my stars, what is that smell?!?! What’s 18th century for “dick cheese”? I need to buy some nail clippers. Oh, look. Pubic lice.
Chapter 6: Why am I wearing an entire winter wardrobe?!?! Imagine traveling in the heat… or rain. Also, that tickle in your throat? It’s a rib.
Chapter 7: Um… I bring nothing to the table. How dare they treat me this way!?! I have a Master’s in Library and Informat… um… FINE! I also have an in-depth knowledge of 20th century liter… oh.
Chapter 8: Everything is just so… hard.
The other night, I got home from both jobs (where I sit a lot, in air conditioning) and was too tired to cook, so I went to bed without eating. EASY MAC EXISTS, y’all. Poor Braxley and her expectation of only wearing an outfit once before having it clean and dry in about two hours, while she watches TV.
Chapter 9: I have some nutritional concerns. Where are the bananas? How do I make bread out of flower, water, and this rock? Why is the water green? Should we really be eating cat? Do maggots count as protein?
Chapter 10: All my pets are food. Why is the dog on a spit?!?!
Chapter 11: He won me in a card game?!?! What dowry? Of course I have no dowry. I don’t need a man to arrange a marriage for me! What do you mean middle-aged?!? I’m only 27!
Chapter 12: Wait… how do I fake virginity? Fish bladder full of blood. Google it. It was a thing. Just don’t overdo it. The scene from The Shining is going to look awfully suspicious.
Chapter 13: Marital rape… and punishment. 1993. That’s when it was illegal for a man to rape his wife in all 50 states.* Furthermore, there are still some mighty creepy corners of the internet using the phrase “Domestic Christian Discipline”. I shudder to think what 200 years ago felt like.
Chapter 14: Woot. Scurvy. What’s an orange? You know what else sounds fun? Smallpox… and plague.
Chapter 15: At least I won’t live past 40. It’ll probably be due to the rampant STD’s, but at least Braxley won’t have to look at that scabby, pussing torture device again. Ooh! It could be because the baby tries to come out sideways. That’s always fun. This is all, of course, only if she can keep her mouth shut about time travel and they don’t burn her for a witch.
Me: I want to buy a motorcycle and shoot my guns from it! Gail: Turn off Sons of Anarchy.
Me: I just found a Shake and Bake Meth Recipe on Google! All I need are the batteries. Gail: Ugh. You’re going to blow yourself up. How many episodes have you watched? Me: Like one. Breaking Bad isn’t really doing it for me. Gail: Your search history is going to get you on some kind of list.
You know, good friends support each other, GAIL. Just this last week, you were appallingly negative about my attending a simple party.
Gail: “Well, for one, judging by how often you leave your drink unattended, I would say you definitely should not go to a frat party. Two, while I’m sure you could pass for 21, no one’s going to talk to you when you excitedly open with ‘Hi! I’m Belle and I’m 21!'”
Ugh. What am I going to do with you?
Recently, I’ve decided to break up my Gossip Girl marathon with The Sopranos. I had actually planned to watch the latter first, but I couldn’t find it to rent and I’m too cheap to purchase anything I haven’t seen. Because libraries are the coolest, I was able to get it from work, through Interlibrary Loan. After two episodes, Gail, once again, decided to crush my dreams.
Gail: Surely you’re not the first person to think ‘I’m a librarian.That’s practically Al Capone.’
Me: Was Al Capone technically the mob? Hmm… I’ll need to catch up on my trivia.
I can’t wait until you have kids, Gaily. They’ll run in and joyfully share their desire to be an explorer…
“Oh, honey, that’s not practical. Everything’s been discovered already and you’d probably just be bitten by some kind of exotic bug and die. Also, keep the desire to leave the country under wraps. The president can hear you right now.”
So, despite obvious Mean Girl Sabotage, I plead my case for exactly why I would not only make a good mobster, but in fact, a better mobster than Tony Soprano.
I could carry out a vendetta, without getting caught, at a very young age.
When I was in the second grade, I got a cool new kind of glue, with a sponge applicator. Everyone thought it was the neatest… until it went missing. A few days later, as I was walking by Sammy’s desk, I noticed a suspiciously similar brand of glue. Of course, I promptly declared that she stole it and told the teacher. Ultimately, Sammy confessed, Mrs. Green made her apologize and return the glue, and likely issued a reasonable punishment… as I seethed. An apology and some missed recess, when the little bitch wronged me?!?!?
Naturally, in a lawless society, I took matters into my own hands and meted out justice like Batman. I waited two weeks, to throw off suspicion, and graffiti’d the bathroom stall with Sammy’s name during recess… first and last, so no one would be mistaken. Mrs. Green was livid and all Sammy’s friends thought she was lying when she said she didn’t do it. Not only did she have to scrub the wall clean, but she missed a lot more recess, as well.I actually managed to earn her a greater punishment, and also completely discredit her as a person, exactly as the little thief deserved.
Lord help me when I have children, because that was just plain awful.
I can cuss better.
No, really. Isn’t the seventh “fuck”, in a sentence, a little superfluous, Tony? I mean, there are a lot of things I could suffer from while being held at gunpoint: rape, robbery, blackmail, torture. Do we really need to add redundancy to the list? I’m not offended by your usage of the word “fuck”, but it’s a little tired, what with the 13-year-old in the corner using it. The key to swearing with impact is to mix it up a little. Not everything has to be HBO-worthy. “Mountain of dicks” is totally prime time appropriate and still gets the point across. It doesn’t even have to be that adult. You throw in a “zetus lapetus” or an “oh em jingles” and those f-bombs really pop.
“I’m gonna drape your intestines over the trees like Christmas garland!” See. I win.
I know where feelings belong.
Say it with me now: “With the last fucking Horcrux.” Now, I’m not too far into this show, but I feel it’s in poor judgement for Tony to see a therapist. So some ducks flew away? Bee eff dee. You don’t talk about your feelings. This is an HBO crime drama, not a sitcom about a recently widowed father raising his three young girls. Get your fucking genre right, dude. I mean, were I a therapist treating the mob boss of Jersey, I’d shut my cakehole and all, sure. The thing is, all it takes is one time for this chick to talk. Yeah, you’ll cut off her arm and rape her with it, or whatever mob bosses do, but the FBI will still have proof that you’re the guy laundering money, selling coke, moving stolen DVD players, and cutting off people’s arms and raping them with them. The therapist will be dead. It will have hurt. It will still be all Tony’s fault for being such a vagina. Need to vent, but find you’re a crime lord? DON’T. That’s part of the fucking gig. Just hide in fiction until the problems go away.
Overall, I would be a lot more discreet.
Okay, seriously dude, I know you’re like a household name in this world, but maybe, just maybe, you wouldn’t be if you didn’t wear that mobster costume every day. You’re a chubby Italian man with a thick accent, obvious anger problems, and an income level that’s completely incongruent with your claimed profession? Wow. Your Etsy store must be doing great! I, however, have pink guns, denim dresses, pearls I actually wear, and country music blaring from my car. The only indicator I might give of my mob involvement, would be that I’m Catholic. Granted, this is a bit more brow-raising in the Midwest than it is in Jersey, but I assure you, the flowered dress, peep-toes, and usage of the word “y’all” will more than conceal my secret station and crime ring.
If you’ve been following my blog long, you probably realize I have two favorite topics: dating and over-analysis. There’s been little on the dating front, besides magical moments like this opener:
PoF User: you look cute without the glasses. how are you doing?
Me: I look cute with my glasses, too.
PoF User: I prefere u without the glasses…lol…how r u doing
Yeah. That happened. I’m still swooning. I didn’t realize anyone actually used “negs.”
I have two settings when it comes to dating:
1. I’m going to die alone!
Right now I’m on the latter, soooooo in honor of the Christmas season, I treat you to my second favorite topic, with an over-analysis of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
There have been numerous depictions of Santa Claus in the media. He was anti-establishment in the stop action film, Santa Claus is Coming to Town. He was absent-minded in Elf (how do you not realize there’s a human child in your toy bag?) He was on acid in Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. He was terrifying in A Christmas Story…
… and he was a douche bag in Rudolph the Red Nosed Riendeer.
The movie opens with newborn Rudolph residing comfortably in a cave with Donner and “Mrs. Donner,” because female characters don’t warrant their own damned names. It quickly becomes obvious that Rudolph is horribly disfigured, when his nose starts to glow.
Mrs. Donner: “Well, we’ll simply have to overlook it.”
Mr. Donner: “Now, how can you overlook that?”
Santa: “Great bouncing icebergs!”
Donner: “Now, I’m sure it’ll stop as soon as he grows up, Santa.”
Santa: “Well, let’s hope so, if he wants to make the sleigh team some day.”
No one mentions the real concern here, and that’s that Rudolph’s nose makes a high-pitched whining noise. Seriously, light up all you want, but stop that. I suppose it doesn’t matter, though, because Santa’s made it pretty clear what his sleigh team values most: conformity.
We even see the universality of this concept, when Hermey the Elf tells his boss that he doesn’t enjoy his job.
Hermey: “I just don’t like to make toys.”
Boss Elf: “Oh, well, if that’s all… what?!?!?! You don’t like to make toys?!?!.. HERMEY DOESN’T LIKE TO MAKE TOYS!” ::Immediately, all of the elves start to whisper about the Freak Elf (not a direct quote)::
Boss Elf: “Do you mind telling me what you do want to do?”
Hermey: “Well, sir, some day, I’d like to be a… a dentist.”
Boss Elf: “A dentist?!?! Now, listen you! You’re an elf… and elves make toys. Now, get to work! 10 minute break! Not for you! Finish the job or you’re fired!”
Okay, dude, first off, you asked what he’d prefer to do. Second, he just told you he hates his job and doesn’t want to do it anymore and you responded by taking away his break and threatening to fire him, though you clearly want him to stay? Also, what kind of regime is this? Elves are born and die in their station as factory workers? They’re shamed for wanting to pursue higher education? Fortunately for him, Hermey grows a pair and decides that he can’t be fired, because he quits.
Meanwhile, Donner makes Rudolph cover his disfigurement with a fake black nose that makes him sound like he has a sinus infection. When Rudolph complains about the discomfort, we get this parenting gem:
Donner: “There are more important things than comfort: self-respect! Santa can’t object to you now!”
So, like a closeted, homsexual, country boy, Rudolph dons his fake nose to make his dad happy, and as long as he’s doing so, Donner is proud.
We return to the elves, as they practice their Christmas song for Santa. As far as we’re told, this isn’t really for any kind of event. They’re just singing Santa a song to make him happy. He accepts this gift with the poise of a mom stomping on her child’s macaroni necklace.
Santa: “Hmmm… well, it needs work. I have to go.” Mrs. Claus: “What does Papa know? It’s beautiful. You keep it just the way it was.”
See. Even Mrs. Claus is like…
Geez. No wonder my parents’ generation came up with the participation trophy.
Ultimately, both Hermey and Rudolph are shamed into leaving Christmastown, but not before Rudolph’s crush, Clarice, is told by her father
“You get back to your cave this instant! … Now, there’s one thing I want to make very plain. No doe of mine is going to be seen with a… a red nosed reindeer!”
Off they go, and in their travels, Rudolph and Hermey team up with Yukon Cornelius, prospector of silver and gold, narrowly escaping The Abominable Snow Monster of the North, Bumble. Bumble is apparently very dangerous, though he never actually harms anyone. Rudolph’s parents, however, are still quite worried about him. When Donner heads out to find the bane of his existence, Mrs. Donner wants to go as well, but Donner insists on leaving her behind.
Donner: “No. This. Is. Man’s. Work.”
Regardless, Mrs. Donner sets off to search, taking Clarice along with her, also known as kidnapping. Seriously, she’s a child and you’re taking her out, alone, into the arctic? No wonder the men belittle the women in this story.
Rudolph and Company find The Island of Misfit Toys, where everyone different has been banished. No seriously. The lion with wings, King Moonracer, gathers them from around the world and keeps them on the island, until they find homes. It’s never explained how they’re supposed to go about that while confined to a deserted island, though. Read: banishment. The truly confusing part, is that most of these toys’ problems are easily remedied. The water pistol that shoots jelly could be filled with water. The Charlie in the Box could start going by Jack. Also, who made these loser toys? Was it Hermey? I’m betting it was Hermey, either falling down on the job while daydreaming of incisors, or fullfilling some kind of God complex, while he created an inferior species.
Is that… other toys they’re burning?
Sadly, Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon are denied safe haven on The Island of Misfit Toys, seeing as how they aren’t toys. King Moonracer still has the gall to ask for a favor, though. Rudolph is to plead the case of the banished toys to Santa, in the hopes that he’ll find them homes. They’ve already tried to find homes, so I’m guessing they’ll end up in some kind of orphanage. The elves, of course, could replace the square wheels with round ones or repaint the polka-dotted elephant, but that was apparently too difficult in the first place… Hermey.
When Rudolph returns to Christmastown, his parents and Clarice are still out looking for him. He’s now an adult reindeer. It’s been at least a year since he left, as it takes a male reindeer about that long to reach sexual maturity.* Clarice knew that boy for about 11 minutes and she’s been searching for him for over a year. That’s what I call commitment. Lucky for her, Rudolph returns this sentiment by heading out to search for the search party, where he’s held hostage by Bumble, who honestly, is only seen petting Clarice. No one’s been harmed, until Rudolph attacks Bumble and he clubs him. That, right there folks, is self-defense. Naturally, in response, Hermey and Yukon Cornelius set a trap to knock Bumble unconscious.
Okay, so I get that Yukon is supposed to have some sort of history with Bumble. He’s apparently very dangerous and that petting would have turned vicious… eventually. Here’s where it gets intensely disturbing, though. After Bumble is knocked unconscious, Hermey and his God complex pull out all of his teeth. What the fucking fuck?!?! That’s like half of the procedure used in Human Centipede, also by a man with a God complex!!!
Hermey. So I had a little free time? That doesn’t make me “creepy.”
After Yukon pushes Bumble off a cliff, “they realized that the best thing to do, was to get the women back to Christmastown.”
We all know the ending, of course. Rudolph and pals make it home. Santa finally realizes that the exact same idiosyncrasy, for which he shamed a child all along, can be exploited for use as a fog light in an epic storm… because the elves can’t make a fog light? Then again, I suppose if the task fell to Hermey, it would be a fog light that doesn’t light up, so he can feel better about going against The Regime’s demands of him, when he’s finally allowed to become Christmastown’s dentist. Seriously? The guy has no training beyond his experiments with animals. That’s like making the town butcher your new gynecologist. Speaking of animals, abominable snow monsters bounce, so Bumble is given a job… to put the star on the tree. That’s right. He can no longer feed himself, but for one minute annually, his life still has purpose. Last, as an afterthought, the misfit toys are saved by Santa… though we never do find out who wants these half-assed creations.
When I was in high school, I was really into horror movies. Even now, it’s understood that Malik and I are slasher movie buddies, though I am more into picking them apart these days. For example…
Why is Carrie White suddenly an ultrasound tech?
Stanley Kubrick, I really don’t think you fully understand basic human anatomy.
I’m sorry, but those zombies would’ve completely decomposed in this heat. I’m not buying it.
This analytical frame of mind might not make me the best overall movie pal, but it certainly entertains me. It’s also allowed me great introspection into the question of whether or not I would survive a horror movie. Sometimes I’m 100% sure I would, because fuck that guy, I’ll totally shoot him in the foot as bait. Other times, I’m not so certain. So, in honor of Halloween, here are the top reasons why I wouldn’t survive a horror movie.
Spring in the Midwest is a terrifying time. I’ve written about my tornado adventures before, but even when we don’t have Hell funneling down from the sky, we do have some epic storms. Frankly, winter can be even worse. Whereas everyone north of my home state gets snow, we get ice. Ice sucks. It tears down power lines far worse than any rain storm. Regardless of the cause of a power outage, in every single instance, I am faced with a choice: I have time to charge my phone or my Kindle, before the storm gets bad. It seems like I’d be able to do both, but in the past, there has always been something keeping me from it. Perhaps, it’s that I’ve had to buy a new phone charger three times, and have been left with my Kindle charger when it’s out of commission. Each time, however, I end up with a fully charged Kindle and 18% on my phone, until the power comes back. I mean, that phone was only going to amuse me for so long, ya know? My Kindle battery lasts for 30 hours. It just made more sense.
Call for help?
… or pretend this isn’t happening?
Not only do I prefer reading over communicating with other people (why wouldn’t I?), but I also prefer my dog to most of humanity (why wouldn’t I?). It’s a recurring them in horror movies to kill or threaten the pet. There’s always some scene where the group goes into the room, sees that the family dog has been killed, its blood spelling out a warning, and they just sort of forget about the defenseless animal and fight for their own survival. I would become completely engrossed in the fact that my McSqueezybear had been harmed. I’d run to the scene of the crime to see if he could be helped, putting myself out in the open and completely vulnerable for the taking. If I wasn’t killed at this point, I would not care about fighting for my survival, anyway. The movie would suddenly become all about my effort to avenge/save my puppy, my safety becoming secondary. Naturally, that awesome and totally valid number one priority would get me super murdered.
Also, there are my princess tendencies. You know that scene in the horror movie, where the woman is crawling through the rat infested tunnel to-
My Observational Skills
I worked at my first library for approximately two years. At about 20 months, I realized that one of the librarians was missing a thumb. I did not notice for two fucking years. I worked with this man every day! It’s not like our paths never crossed.
Me: OH EM GEE. I am the most self-absorbed person on the planet. I seriously JUST noticed that Joe is missing a thumb. Gail: Wait. How do you not notice that? It’s a THUMB.
Alright. Maybe that was a fluke.
Me: I am a horrible human being. Gail: WHY?!?! Me: I just realized Regina is not only missing a finger on one hand, but the fingers of the other are all severely deformed. Gail: What is so dangerous about working in a library that these people are all missing appendages?!?!
When I wrecked my car, back in June, my uncle asked if I’d been texting. I informed him that, no, I hadn’t. I’m just a terrible driver and wasn’t paying attention. I do not notice shit around me. In a way, this is an admirable trait. Regina holds her hand in a delicate way that betrays her discomfort with her disability. I didn’t even fucking notice. I overheard a regular favorite customer talking to a coworker about his “accident” about a year ago. It was then that I noticed his missing leg. He wore shorts all the time and I never even realized he was bionic. He was just my friendly, cheerful customer.
Accident? What accident?
However… this is not a benefit in a horror movie. I don’t even watch the news. I am 100% certain that the known serial killer, with the very specific pattern of raping and butchering librarians who look like Velma from Scooby Doo, could walk into my library and I’d greet him with a smile and ask how I could help. Then I’d follow him into the stacks alone. Gaily’s big source of contention with my online dating habits is that I’m not cautious or observant enough. Only during her lecture did I realize that most of the guys I’d dated had, in fact, been left alone with my drink. WHAT?!?! I had to pee.
Me: “Oh, come on, Gail. No one’s going to rape me in a Chili’s.”
Gail: “Stop leaving your fucking drink alone!”
As I’ve said before, I’ll get caught up telling Gail why I didn’t like a guy. She’ll tell me I’m being ridiculous. Then I’ll remember that teensy weensy detail.
Me: “Well, he did say one thing that might have been kind of weird, but I think I was reading into it.”
Gail: “What did he say?”
Me: “Well… um… nevermind. It sounds worse than it is, when I say it out loud.”
Gail: “What did he say?!?!”
Me: “Well, when I texted to ask what intersection we were meeting at, he responded with ‘the restaurant or my apartment?’, but I think he just misunderstood what I was asking.”
Gail: imitating my voice… poorly “Ell oh ell! You don’t know how words work!”
“Certainly, Sir. I’d be happy to help you take your books to your van. Behind the library? In the alley? Alrighty. Lead the way.”
Scene: I’m in a hurry to make dinner, because I’m going to miss the football game between my alma mater and our biggest rival. I don’t want to waste time getting out the cutting board, so I just hold the onion and slice it. There is blood.
Scene: I’m stepping out on the patio to get something out of my storage closet. I trip over the watering can, which gets stuck in a groove of the wooden planks and does not budge. The spout gouges out a chunk of my shin. There is blood.
Scene: I’m making Oreo Balls. I mix the cream cheese and Oreos in a food processor, but can’t get the resulting dough out. Naturally, I try to scoop it out with my fingers. There is blood.
I really don’t think I need to continue. You know the scene in Scream, where Drew Barrymore sneaks around the house with a chef’s knife? I’m pretty sure I’d save Ghost Face an awful lot of trouble by impaling myself on it, before he ever even found me. At the very least, I’d disable myself by dropping the knife on my foot or somehow stabbing myself in the eye while trying to scratch my ear. Forget about running from the killer. I tripped going up my own stairs just a few days ago. I almost landed on the dog. Working the phone quietly in the hallway, while the killer searches for me? I have an Otterbox on my phone, because I literally have an “Oh, shit. Did I crack it this time?” moment five or six times a week. I am not even going to have to baby proof my house when I have kids. I, myself, am already deeply endangered by sharp corners.
There are many things at which I excel, such as not ending a sentence in a preposition. My impulse control, though? Nope… it sucks. In my defense, I can say that I don’t have a buying addiction. That’s all I can say, though. It was even worse when I was a kid. One day, my second grade teacher used the phrase “workbook.” I felt inclined to correct her and let her know it was just a “book.” I thought “workbook” sounded babyish. I made her so angry that she went to the third grade hall to get a math textbook. This very even-tempered woman shoved the book in my face, in front of the entire classroom, and told me that this was a math book and it was hard. My response? I rolled my eyes. The was my favorite teacher throughout elementary school. I just drove her to rage that day. In the 6th grade, when the principal told me that she’d never met anyone with the nerve to poor milk on a bully’s head, I thanked her sweetly. My first day of freshman year, my biology teacher made the obvious joke about my last name, which I’ve heard my entire life, and I responded in a deadpan voice “Oh my gosh. You’re the first person to ever notice that.” Wait. How did I get through high school without detention?!?!
Meanwhile, in Great Britain…
As an adult, I’ve improved. I realize that this kind of behavior is self-destructive and keep my “Well. I’m sorry you chose to take it that way.” apologies to a minimum. But in a horror movie? Under terrible duress?
So, I am not a huge television watcher. In fact, this is my background on my computer screen at the moment…
Yes. It was intended to be ironic.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with watching television… when you want to watch television. I just think there’s something broken about Americans that has them plopping down in front of a screen as a default, rather than finding something they enjoy more. It’s the home where I grew up. It’s the home where my dad still lives. It’s the home my brother has built. It’s my entire technological experiment of a generation that just plugs in, because real fun is harder. That’s fucked up. That being said, television can be truly enjoyable. Well, Netflix can. My hatred of all advertising is a topic for its own entry, with an honorable mention of the ridiculous price my cable company charges for pretty much anything. Netflix, however, caters to the 11-year-old that is still inside of me re-watching last Monday’s recorded episode of Roswell before she goes to school. I am an obsessive person and the selection of television series feeds that.
Bo: “Do you watch Sons ofAnarchy?”
Me: “I don’t have cable. I also hate reality T.V.”
Bo: “That’s not reality T.V. It’s about a motorcylce club.”
Oh em jingles, I was just masturbating to a motorcycle club romance novel! See, Gaily. There’s a lot of shit I don’t say. My filter isn’t broken. It’s selective, fuck you very much. In actuality, I downloaded the motorcycle club romance novel after that conversation and it wasn’t porn… not exactly. Wednesday night, however, I had just finished a couple of those books and figured I’d give this Sons of Anarchy thing a try. My first thought being, I don’t get it. My second thought being…
Oooooh. Noooow I get it.
I’m kidding. There were no coherent thoughts. When I Googled that photo, I saw ones with his hair cut off and I think I need to change my panties now. Eventually, I totally understood the appeal of the show, beyond the fully naked backside shots, though those are worth rewinding. Being the obsessive gal I mentioned above, I started the show Wednesday evening and made it to season four by Saturday night.
Now, anyone who reads this blog regularly is fully aware of my affection for alpha male romance novels. The hot, pushy, protective, special ops guy is super appealing in fiction-only-fiction-ever. As I’ve mentioned, I can compartmentalize and acknowledge that, because I’m 25 and my brain development is leveling off. Being threatened and bullied and pushed around only works in those books, because the women secretly want it. For example, if Anastasia Steele were to legitimately say…
“Fuck off, Christian. I’m an adult and I’m capable of making my own decisions. Bee tea double ewe, I want a divorce.”
… he would bar the door to physically prevent her from leaving, then tie her up and punish her sexually just like it was still a normal Tuesday… only this time she would mean it and there would be no way to express that. In a fantasy, the alpha does nothing I don’t secretly find sexy, so I don’t need a way to state genuine disapproval. In reality, I’m calling my daddy and he’s loading his gun.
I’m kidding of course. I’m loading my gun.
Pink or not, they’ll still fucking kill you.
My point is, though, that I get that it’s fantasy and a different set of rules apply. Women have rape fantasies because the responsibility for the degrading things they’re imagining is put on someone else. It does not mean they want to be raped. I have fantasies about some big strong man coming in and taking over the responsibility in my life, because I have deep-seated abandonment issues and if I weren’t so fond of gummy worms, I’d be stripping. It does not mean I’m going to go out and start that relationship.
All that being said though, during my Sons of Anarchy marathon, I found myself thinking thoughts that girls with a fondness for pink aren’t typically supposed to think. There’s a scene in season one where the woman is knocked over the head by another woman and then gang-raped. I don’t believe in that feminine power crap about how we’re all sisters because we all slough our uterine lining once a month, but the idea that a woman would betray another woman in that way was just abhorrent, as I’m sure the writers intended. So, as I watched and waited for this gal to finally get hers, she ended up alone with a cop and I found myself shouting at the screen:
“Rape her with a billy club!”
Later, the bad guys were getting away and I was yelling:
“Shoot out their fucking knee caps!”
The doctor’s boss had been a bitch all season and the doctor finally punched her and threatened her and I was thinking…
Yeah… maybe it’s a little weird that I just rewound and watched that again.
After two seasons, I was texting Gail…
Me: I want to buy a motorcycle.
Gail: No you don’t.
Me: … and sell guns illegally.
Gail: Again, you’re mistaken.
Back to that compartmentalization skill of which I was so proud… I understand that if that character were raped with a billy club, the actress would just go home and call her dad and explain that he probably wouldn’t want to watch next week’s episode. No one’s knee caps are actually being shot. Punching anyone would make me feel horrible, because I apologize to the dog when I have to move him off my blanket. I get that the depicted life of crime is only appealing because there are hot guys and they gloss over all that prison. I’m not stupid or sadistic. I’m only enjoying this vicariously through fiction… because I’m an adult and capable of doing so.
After last year’s theater and Sandy Hook shootings, a lot of debates about violence in media sprung up and people brushed them off to focus on the creation of more gun laws that we won’t enforce and criminals still won’t follow. If a few hours of watching Sons of Anarchy can have a futurelibrarian screaming “rape her with a billy club!” though, maybe we should give this violence in media topic a little consideration. I’m not a violent person, but I still can’t wait for Grand Theft Auto Five and gleefully told Gail:
“I hope they bring the chainsaws back!”
My mind is more or less fully developed. These books, shows, and games are not shaping my brain. I understand that this isn’t reality and I would no more want to physically assault someone, let alone chop them up, than I would want a man to lock me in his sensory deprivation chamber and condition me to enjoy rape.
Don’t perform an image search for this book at work. You’re welcome.
If I’d read the above book at 15, though? I don’t know how that would have shaped my views of sex and relationships, particularly when paired with the trashy alpha male motorcycle club books I just read. If I’d been playing GTA and having Sons of Anarchy marathons when I was still learning anger management and people skills? I don’t know. I can guess, though and I genuinely think that I would’ve developed a more warped view of sex than I presently have and my favorite thing about masturbation is that I’m the most normal person in the room despite the tears. Life broke me enough on its own and I absorbed an abnormal amount of electronic media as a kid and teen. Thankfully, it was mostly Roswell, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Charmed, and maybe a couple of Sims characters locked in a room with a rocket launcher. Then again, maybe that explains the violent werewolf porn on my Kindle.
I don’t necessarily have a solution beyond parents actually, you know, parenting and not letting their kids have access to violent shows and video games. My primary declaration, though, is that this shit does matter. Maybe it’s not a video game that shot a bunch of scared babies in Sandy Hook, but Manhunt probably didn’t help the anger issues. Even as an adult, during my Sons of Anarchy marathon, I’m pretty convinced that I want a motorcycle and have for years. Because I’m a huge Superman fan and watched Man of Steel during said marathon, I’m danged certain I want it to look like this….
… but I’m an adult who couldn’t possibly be affected by media since not even children are, right? Isn’t that what keeps advertising from being a billion dollar industry? I started using Maybelline cosmetics at 12 (and still do), because Sarah Michelle Gellar was in the commercial. Don’t tell me Teen Mom doesn’t have anything to do with the rising teen pregnancy rate in my hometown. Even so, you can get on your high horse and tell people to read instead of watching T.V. or playing video games, but there’s still violence and fucked up sex in books, too. Maybe the time people spend arguing about this crap should be time spent discussing the abusive relationship implications of the Twilight novels with their 13-year-old daughters. Maybe we should be finding out where our teenage boys heads are at and reviewing their Internet history to discover what kind of porn they’re watching and how much that’s fucking them up. Maybe we should stop blaming external sources and blame ourselves for allowing impressionable children full and unlimited access to said sources.