Dear TV Writers: Your Fear of the Moonlighting Curse is Killing Your Show

What is the Moonlighting Curse, and why is it such a big deal to television writers? Read this in-depth look at the crippling phenomenon and find out!

Getting Rid of the Stigma: Mental Illness in Young Adult Fiction, by Megan Mann

In this piece, Megan brilliantly discusses the stigma of mental illness in literature and how some young adult novels are helping to change the landscape for this discussion.

In Appreciation of the Everyday Heroine

A mask does not a hero make. In this piece, I discuss why it's wrong to dismiss characters without costumes or masks as superheroes.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer Lovin’ -- Week 23

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We're back again with another fun Summer Lovin' installment. I don't know about you, but Netflix has taken up a lot of my time on the weekends now. It's been really fun getting to catch up on movies and shows while my favorite series are on summer hiatus. There was a lot to love this week for our staff members, so let's dive in! Joining me this week are:

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wynonna Earp 2x03 Recap: "Gonna Getcha Good" (Make a Wish) [Contributor: Isabella]



"Gonna Getcha Good"
Original Airdate: June 23, 2017

This episode is also known as the long-awaited Waverly the cheerleader episode, and Nicole is right when she tells Waverly, who performs a routine just for her, "Baby, that's everybody's thing."

Ahem, so the murder mystery this week involves Bryce Cooper, the star of the high school's hockey team from 2007. A monster-demon forced him to pull out his own liver, and he died gazing at the trophy case. This pulls Wynonna into a nostalgia trip, especially when she gets hit up by Perry, another one of the teammembers of the old hockey team. When she first agrees to go on a date with him — simply so she can find out any info on the murder, of course — she has no idea that he's directly involved with it. And in a very creepy way, as we get to see him grab a bloody skinned rabbit out of a bucket while in his room.

At the start of their date, they get interrupted by Skip — another teammate — who's blabbering about how Bryce was taken. Perry seems to understand what he's talking about and attempts to cover it up from Wynonna by dragging Skip back to his house. She follows them there, only to find that Perry's drawn an algiz both on his front door and on Skip's forehead in blood (presumably that rabbit blood from before). Skip's lying down on the front porch when the demon comes up and begins to force him to pull his liver out. Skip doesn't get too deep into his own body before Wynonna shoots at the demon, who's already run off.

Later on, Perry comes by Wynonna's house for help and they find out that he isn't summoning the demon to kill his old teammates, but rather, he's trying to protect them from it. Back when they were seniors, Perry and his teammates were given a spell by their coach who wanted them to finally win a game. They performed it and were promised ten years of anything they could wish for, but now the Marzanoik demon is back to finish their deal. When Doc hears this, he believes that if they capture the demon, they could use it to save Dolls. He tells Wynonna this plan, along with the fact that he's been concocting the drugs Dolls needs in the basement of Shorty's bar. And so, queen Wynonna snatches the 2007 trophy from the current team's hands.


Meanwhile, Waverly's still dealing with her identity issues after struggling to come to terms with the fact that she's not biologically an Earp. Because of this, she has tried and continues to try to keep the town's community intact and maintain the status quo. That is why she tells Nicole to not arrest Tucker after she catches him taking pictures up cheerleaders' skirts without their knowledge. But later in the episode, Waverly gets harassed by Tucker and her inner demon Gooverly comes out and chokes him a little. After which, he goes off crying home to his sisters — one of whom is Mercedes. Mercedes tells him to back off and not get close to the Earp sisters. She gets a brief moment of victory before she is attacked (and possibly killed?) by the Figures in Black.

Later on, Nicole learns that Tucker's family are important figures in town. They have a lot of money, which is why they let Tucker off scot-free — or so she thinks. The sheriff's been compiling a big folder of all the horrible thing Tucker's done, for the "long game." Nicole can't think about this for too long because while she's babysitting Skip in his jail cell — for driving under the influence right into a beautiful oak tree — the demon comes by to finish him off. Nicole tries to stand her ground, but he throws her to the ground. Doc, Wynonna, and Perry come to her rescue and ultimately trap the demon back in the trophy.

Earlier in the episode during a bit of downtime, Nicole brings up the fact that Waverly's been acting a little odd and more brusque to Wynonna. Wynonna gets defensive about this, since she can't believe anything could be wrong with Waverly. She dismisses Nicole's claims very suddenly by comparing those same characteristics to herself. Nicole is once again left alone to think and worry about this, but not for long.

Dolls, who's somehow locked up in the Earp barn, witnesses Gooverly playing around with her collection of silver-looking objects. He tries to get her attention since she seems really out of it, but right before she walks out of the barn, she turns around and flashes him her demon eyes. It hopefully — and probably — won't be long before somebody finds him. ... Or at least hears his screams.

Other Points of Interest:
  • "Boys from here to there!" "Girl, put on some underwear." Incredible accidental rhyming on the part of Waverly and Wynonna.
  • "You've polished the shaft hard enough." "Wow, you so rarely hear that."
  • Who else misses Dolls like a lot? Like a lot a lot? ME, but also Wynonna. I love how she nervously twiddles with the necklace Dolls gave her in the first episode.
  • "Calm down, flaming ladybug."
  • "Run!" "I'm not big on cardio these days." Same, Wynonna.
  • It makes me anxious to think that even after Nicole brought up the weirdness about Waverly to Wynonna, she's still the only one who sees it. I get why Wynonna would be so defensive about her little sister, since I would be to, but this will get even more dangerous in the long-run.
  • Bless Mercedes. That is all.
  • How did Dolls get there? Since when has he been there? What's happening? What's going on?!

Twin Peaks: The Return 3x06 Recap: "Part 6: Don’t Die" (Diane!) [Contributor: Erin Allen]

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"Part 6: Don’t Die"
Original Airdate: June 11, 2017

For an episode titled “Don’t Die” there was quite a bit of death, including an extremely tragic one that will not be leaving my mind any time soon. That particular scene and some lengthy ones of Cooper struggling in the real world (or this dimension or wherever this is) gave Part 6 a somber mood. There are some quirky, madcap moments, and a long-awaited character reveal is made.

The episode picks up where Part 5 left off, Cooper is still standing by the statue with an armful of case files. A friendly security officer brings him home. Janey-E fixes them sandwiches (which are weirdly loud and crunchy), and finally decides to take Dougie to the doctor. What must Dougie have been like that it takes her this long to make that assessment.

She sends him up to say goodnight to Sonny Jim who is reading a Hardy Boys book in bed — The Secret of the Old Mill, to be precise! They share a sweet moment with chips and a clap on/clap off cowboy lamp before Janey-E yells for Dougie to come downstairs.

When Cooper was brought home, the officer noticed an envelope on their doorstep. Janey-E had opened it while Cooper was upstairs, and was not happy with its contents. Cooper did not make arrangements to pay off Dougie’s debt because, well, he can’t even figure out how to find a bathroom on his own. Along with the threat, is a photo of Jade and Dougie. “Jade give two rides.” “Yeah, I bet she did.”

The phone rings and Janey-E jokes that maybe it’s Jade calling. Cooper smiles at the thought, and so do I. It’s the thugs who want their money. Janey-E takes command and tells them that she will meet them the next day. She tells Cooper that he better get to work on the work he brought home, and kisses him on top of his head despite being so angry with him.

There’s a cut to a Twin Peaks stoplight and MIKE in the Red Room before going back to Cooper and the files. MIKE appears before Cooper like he did in Part 4. He tells him to “wake up” and “don’t die.” Cooper starts doodling on the files, drawing ladders and stairs, and nondescript scribbles. At one point, pinpoints of light appear on the page. I don’t know what any of it means, but I was captivated watching him do this.

Albert pulls up to Max Von’s Bar. As he makes his way through the crowded place I’m chanting, “please be Diane, please be Diane.” After he says, “Diane,” I start chanting, “please be Laura Dern, please be Laura Dern.” It is! Laura Dern plays the mysterious, fan favorite Diane, Cooper’s trusted confidant. I could not be more pleased with this casting. I don’t think anyone else could’ve filled this important role better than Dern. She is a veteran of Lynch’s films, and a very gifted actor. All we got was a turn of the head and a “Hello, Albert,” and I was over the moon. Also, her whole look is fabulous. I don’t think I ever pictured anything in my head about how Diane would look, she was that much of an enigma. The white platinum bob and Egyptian-esque eyeliner is very cool and unexpected.

Turns out the guy who was making eyes at Shelly at The Roadhouse on Part 2 is a drug dealer, and a tricky one too. Richard Horne is testing the drugs that Red will supply him to sell in Twin Peaks. Red messes with him by calling him “kid,” and doing a coin trick that scares the crap out of him. It would scare me, too. It is some freaky magic trick. Red also mentions wanting to stick around town. I wonder if that has anything to do with Shelly? Balthazar Getty plays Red as an eccentric and menacing bad guy reminiscent of Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth. It was satisfying to see Richard on the receiving end of his peculiar intimidation. Richard leaves crying, angry, and emasculated.

The next few scenes end up converging at one intersection where that tragic death occurs. First, we see Carl getting a ride into town from his trailer park. Mickey, one of Carl’s neighbors, tags along so he can pick up Linda’s mail. Remember “Richard and Linda?” He talks with Carl about Linda, and it seems she is in a wheelchair, maybe because of a war injury?

Next, we meet Miriam at the Double R. She is raving to Heidi, the giggling waitress from the original series, about Norma’s pies.

There is a quick cut to Richard speeding down the road and then to Carl sitting on a bench in the park looking up at the tree tops. He smiles at a mother and son who pass by. Richard approaches cars stopped at a stop sign and he speeds up to pass them. I’m hoping that what I suspect happens next doesn’t happen, but it does. Richard runs over the boy right in front of his mother. It is truly horrific. If they are trying to show that Richard is borne of evil, this certainly sells that. First assaulting a woman and now killing a child exemplifies pure evil, in my opinion. As he drives away from the accident, Miriam with her Double R coffees watches as he passes. I don’t know if she is in enough proximity to know what happened, but the look on her face is complete horror. Carl comes out to see what the sound was, and watches as the boys spirit leaves his body, in the form of a yellow flame-like cloud. He goes to the grief stricken mother who is cradling her son, and they look at each other. Dang it, I’m sobbing again. It is just so awful and sad. The scene ends on a shot of a telephone pole and electricity crackling in the lines.

We have seen either this pole or one similar before. In fact, I believe this is the same intersection where Mike meets Leland and Laura in Fire Walk With Me. These callbacks along with the presence of Carl are all very significant, but I don’t know exactly why yet. Carl’s background from FWWM and in Mark Frost’s book The Secret History of Twin Peaks is as mysterious as the show. Is he somehow connected to Black Lodge or White Lodge spirits?

Mr. Todd, who we haven’t seen since Part 1, is working on his computer. A red square appears on his screen. It’s a signal of some kind. He goes to a safe and takes out a large white envelope with a black dot on it.

Back in Rancho Rosa, Dougie’s charred car is being towed away, and the drugged-out mom is still yelling, “1-1-9!”

At a motel, a man is playing dice by himself. The envelope with the dot is slipped under his door. As he opens it, hip hop music starts to play. He studies the two photos inside. One is of the worried Lorraine, the woman at the beginning of Part 5, and the other is Dougie. The man stabs the photos with an awl and the music stops.

Cooper shows up at Dougie’s office for another day of work. He can’t figure out how to exit the elevator, but he’s got coffee, so he has a big smile on his face. His boss goes over the work he did on the files, and he is bewildered at the doodles. He begins to chastise him about it, but takes a closer look. He sees something, because he thanks Cooper for his work. “I want you to keep this information to yourself. This is disturbing, to say the least. I’ll take it from here. But I may need your help again. You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about.” Mind sharing with the rest of us, kind sir?

Janey-E pays off Dougie’s debt when she meets the thugs at a park, but not before giving them a piece of her mind. “What kind of world are we living in where people can behave like this, treat other people this way without any compassion or feeling for their suffering?” She tells them to take a good hard look at themselves, and leaves them stunned. “Tough dame.” I’ll say!

That hip hop music plays as we see the hallway outside Lorraine’s office. Yeah, I don’t think she is going to be alive for much longer. The hit man rounds the corner, awl in hand. He brutally stabs her. The violence is very graphic.

Hawk drops a coin in the bathroom at the Twin Peaks sheriff’s station, which seems innocuous enough, but leads to what could be a huge clue. The coin he drops has an Indian chief head on it. He glances over at the bathroom stall door that has the logo of Nez Perce Manufacturing which is also an Indian chief head. He notices the metal on the door is bent back at the corner. He pries it open and finds notebook pages with writing on them. Could these be the pages from Laura’s diary when she wrote what Annie told her in her vision?

Doris shows up mad about her father’s car and lays into Frank about it. Chad mocks them, and the dispatcher sticks up for Doris and Frank. “She didn’t used to be like this. Don’t you know their son committed suicide?” Chad continues to be an insensitive jerk saying that he knows their son couldn’t handle being a soldier. Is this related to Linda and that war that Carl alluded to?

Once again, the end credits roll over a performance at The Roadhouse.

Stray Observations: 
  • I’ve never been so excited over a shot of a stoplight before.
  • We met Diane, you guys!
  • Tony, Dougie’s co-worker played by Tom Sizemore, looked really nervous when Cooper went in to talk to the boss. 
  • Characters I would like to see more of: Jade, Miriam, and the dispatcher.
  • This part’s musical guest is Sharon Van Etten with a mournful song befitting of this episode, especially with a lyric like “Send in the owl, tell me I’m not a child.”

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Bachelorette 13x04 Roundtable: Guys and Dolls [Contributors: Chelsea, Alisa, Patti, and Rebecca]


What's been happening in the world of The Bachelorette recently? Well, our favorite staffers are here to give you the run-down on all the dates and drama! Take a look at what Rebecca, Alisa, Patti, and Chelsea had to say about this week's episode.

Who do you think needs to leave next? Were you sad to see any man leave?


Rebecca: I already forget who left besides Diggy, so I must not have been too sad to say goodbye to any of this week’s eliminations. Lee really needs to go. He’s downright terrible. Not only is he a racist misogynist, but he’s an instigator and drama queen who needs to grow up. I hope Kenny pops him next episode. I’m also over Iggy using all of his time with Rachel to complain about Josiah. He seems to be stirring the pot, and it’s annoying. Maybe keep the other guys’ names out of your mouth and focus on getting to know Rachel? And Adam needs to get himself and that creepy doll out of there ASAP.

Patti: I did like Diggy, if only because his shoe collection is really impressive and I wanted to know more about it. Obviously Lee, Iggy, Eric, and Josiah NEED to go. I think Jack Stone is on his way out with that one-on-one date. I haven’t decided about Kenny yet. I used to love him, but he’s in the thick of all of the drama, and to be honest, I don’t know that Rachel needs to be a wrestling wife.

Alisa: Yeah, totally agree with Rebecca and Patti. I had a special place in my heart for Diggy, who just seemed really mature and genuine with a great fashion sense. What more could a girl want? I reeeeeally wanted to like Iggy but he needs to stop with the tattling. Every season we have somebody who thinks that’s gonna win them points and all it does is get them out the door faster. Come on, man. I do feel bad for Kenny because I think he inadvertently got caught up in the tornado of drama Lee insists on creating. And seriously, Lee never should have been allowed on The Bachelorette to begin with. What an awful creep.

Chelsea: I’m having so much trouble remembering all their names this year. Casting really found a bunch of petty basics to stir up the drama. Lee is the absolute worst and I do not believe for a minute that the producers were unaware of his social media history. Like Alisa said, he shouldn’t have been allowed on the show. I’ve had a sketch feeling about Josiah since the first week and this week proved me right. His ego is way too much.

They didn’t give Diggy and his delightful shoe collection a chance. You can’t tell me that Iggy, Lee, and Josiah are better than the male model and firefighter that went home. The odds of Raven tracking down that firefighter are really high.

Who had the best date of the week? The worst? Who should get a one-on-one next?


Rebecca: I loved Dean and Rachel’s blimp date! I’ve always wanted to go in a blimp, and the scene of them sitting in the back surrounded by all the windows was too cute. I also am a fan of Russell Dickerson — I saw him open for Thomas Rhett in March and was really impressed. He’s very talented and I hope being on the show gives him some much-deserved exposure.

Patti: Dean and Rachel’s date was fantastic! They were so open and candid and hilarious. It’s funny, because a lot of these conversations happen on every season of The Bachelor/ette, and I find myself tuning out completely because I just don’t care. But Rachel is asking the really good, smart questions, so the evening portion of the one-on-ones make me feel things! Although I wish they would do away with the “this random dude sings while we dance and kiss on a weird pedestal while an audience watches and cheers.” I would love for her to have a one-on-one with Will next.

Alisa: Dean and Rachel’s date was amazing. I was NOT a fan of Dean going into this episode. He’s very handsome but I didn’t think he had much depth and he seemed far too young. Boy, did he change my mind. He seems genuine and down-to-earth and like an all around lovely human being. Plus, they seemed really good together. I too hate the whole random country singer no one’s heard of portion of one-on-one’s, but was pleasantly surprised by this guy. I don’t even like country music but he had a great voice and I loved the song. The whole making out in front of the crowd thing is kind of awkward though. I also greatly enjoyed the spelling bee portion of the group date. That was hilarious and the good kind of awkward. Not only did you get to see who’s a great speller, you also find out who can just have fun and laugh at themselves, which is an even more important trait. I’d like to see Will get a one-on-one date next and also I think she needs some more alone time with Peter so maybe he could get a second one-on-one.

Chelsea: Dean is slowly becoming my favorite contestant to watch. You can tell Rachel is having a lot of fun with him and he’s a nice break from the petty basics. The blimp ride was so cute and they should have just had the obligatory country music performance in the air (I tend to zone out when the country starts playing). I am so charmed by Will and want him to have more screentime. Also, isn’t it about time Bryan gets a one-on-one?

Fantasy League Final Four picks have been locked in. What are some of your predictions and who should get the final rose? 


Rebecca: I have Peter, Alex, Bryan, and Kenny in my final four. I think all four of them are solid guys and seem to have good chemistry with Rachel. That being said, I think Bryan stands out from the other three. That first impression rose shows that he and Rachel really kicked it off from the beginning, and he seems to be staying pretty consistent as one of her favorites. I kind of wish I would have swapped out Alex for Dean, but I really didn’t like Dean for the longest time. He’s grown on me and I have a soft spot for him, and I think he has a decent chance of making it pretty far.

Patti: Peter, Dean, Bryan, and maybe Will? Although I’m just hoping to see more of him.

Alisa: I have Bryan, Dean, Josiah and Peter in my final four. I cannot stand Josiah but Rachel seems to like him. Even though it would hurt my bracket, I’d really like to see her kick him to the curb before hometowns. I also detest Bryan (seriously buddy, stop trying to eat her face off with each kiss!) but they definitely have a connection. I hope she ends up with either Dean or Peter because they both seem like pretty solid men.

Chelsea: It’s amazing how few contestants I care about this season. Peter, Bryan, and Dean seem like the only guys she’s super interested in based on screentime. Fantasy picks locked before I could swap Eric with Will or Kenny. I don’t see either of them winning but I like them both A LOT. There are so many guys this year that are either terrible or forgettable. Rachel deserves so much better.

Between Lee’s tweets and Paradise, the franchise has endured a lot of scandal this year. What are your thoughts as it moves forward? 


Rebecca: Obviously, I LOVE the drama, but I have mixed feelings concerning Lee and the DeMario/Corinne situation. Lee should never have been allowed on the show in the first place, and I feel bad for Rachel. I can’t imagine how she must feel now looking back at the roses she gave him, knowing the things he’s said about women and people of color.

As far as the Paradise scandal goes, obviously I’m glad that the video footage didn’t show the sexual assault people claimed happened. I would never wish something like that upon anyone. Sex between two intoxicated people is messy and confusing, and we’ll never know the whole story, but I sincerely hope Corinne is okay and that nothing happened. As a fan of the franchise, I’m glad ABC is moving forward with Paradise, but I hope that going forward, the production crew grows a conscious and steps in if anything questionable like that ever happens again.

Patti: Oof. I think I have to abstain from this question until more confirmed information is released, if it ever is. All I can say is, I think Rachel as the Bachelorette has elevated this show to a level they never dreamed it could go. And if they go backwards from here, I’m going to be very disappointed.

Alisa: I think drama is one thing, but words and actions that hurt other people is a whole different ball game and doesn’t belong on any "reality" show ever. Lee should never have been allowed anywhere near this franchise, and I definitely don’t buy the producers feigned ignorance about his racist, misogynistic social media posts. Y’all have interns for a reason. Use them to check that stuff. As for the Corinne/DeMario situation, it’s horrible and unfortunate either way. If she was sexually assaulted, the producers actions or lack thereof to stop it are unacceptable and heartbreaking. If she wasn’t assaulted, then the allegations and the statement she put out only serve to undermine the many real sexual assault victims out there in the world. I’m glad they did an investigation but I’m not entirely sure how much good an “internal” investigation does when clearly it’s in ABC/WB’s best interest to find that nothing happened.

Chelsea: Rachel is doing the Lord’s work this season and has brought so much class and intelligence to the franchise. I just hate what the show is putting her through. Lee should have NEVER been allowed in the mansion and the producers should be ashamed of themselves for letting him compete. It makes me weary of the edits they’re giving Kenny and Eric when they have a racist dude in the house antagonizing them.

As for the Paradise scandal, there is so much misinformation and conflicting reports of everything that’s happened. No matter what, I believe the show needs to really be more careful about consent and transparency with contestants and producers about what is happening.


Fantasy League Results:

  • Rebecca: 160 points
  • Chelsea: 130 points
  • Alisa: 90 points
  • Rae: 70 points

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wonder Woman Roundtable, Part 2: Battle of the Chrises [Contributors: Jenn, Julia, Anne, Jon, Deb, Marilyn, Megan, Erin, and Chelsea]


Earlier last weekend, the staff discussed what we loved about the Wonder Woman film. There was so much to love between the female-focused director and storyline, as well as the incredible performances. In part two of our roundtable, we'll discuss the supporting cast, as well as what we would like to see in a sequel.

Let's dive in!


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Veep 6x09 Recap: "A Woman First" (The Lost Diary of Selina Meyer) [Contributor: Erin Allen]

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“A Woman First”
Original Airdate: June 18, 2017

Did Selina free Tibet or did Tibet free Selina? Her only saving grace in her epic scandal is what Leon accurately described as “a fluke, a success despite an almost pathological level of incompetence.” She negotiated to free Tibet for purely selfish reasons, and now it is finally serving her as intended.

When Leon’s expose came out, I thought there was no way Selina would recover. Jaffar’s suggestion of leaving the country sounded pretty good. Selina was talking to her lawyers, and her staff was discussing the advantages of pleading guilty. Ben says, “I wouldn’t mind a little time in prison, get away from my wife; spend time with guys who get it.” No such luck for Ben, the news of Tibet overshadows all the horrible and sometimes illegal things Selina did while in office. This turnabout will also help the dismal reception of her book, A Woman First, which was ghost-written by Mike, so it needs all the help it can get.

This rollercoaster of an episode was so well done that the doom and gloom of such a catastrophe was silly and funny. Mike goes from being banished from Catherine’s brownstone, to damage control, to gleefully happy that he was an idiot and lost the diary in the first place. Amy narrowly escapes being sacrificed to Leon, and commiserates with a recently demoted Dan. I like Amy and Dan together in this capacity. The quick foray into a romantic possibility was comical, but I think they play best as friends who can relate to each other as well as tease one another relentlessly.

Speaking of Dan, he is content with his CBS digital platform spots until he sees himself on-screen in a taxi. He calls up Ben to tell him that he’ll join him and Kent (who was also recently fired by Jonah) as the Three Meyersketeers. Finally! I’ve waited all season for this. Jonah’s recent successes take a turn as his fiancee dumps him, he loses his financial support, and his uncle takes him off the congressional ballot. News which is not well received as he sits in the hospital recovering from his circumcision.

All of the changes and plot twists kept the episode moving which goes so well with its lightning-quick wit and barrage of one-liners. My favorite going to Selina berating Mike, “Why do you work for me, you stupid mustache?!” And second place to Peter MacNicol’s Uncle Jeff to Jonah, “You made the Hindenburg look like a normal, on-time blimp landing.” I guess I like when the biggest morons on the show get insulted. It was a very tight episode. So tight that it didn’t include President Montez’s reaction to Selina stealing back her Tibet praise. I really wanted to see the president and her team take that blow. She has been one-upping Selina since last season, and it would’ve been satisfying to see her knocked down a peg. Maybe next week in the season finale.

Meanwhile amidst the hubbub, Catherine is put on bed rest for her incompetent cervix. “Why should her cervix be any different from the rest of her?” She is drinking special uteran tea (which Selina accidentally drinks and vomits up) and being neglected by her mother. She is used as a fake emergency for Selina to back out of her Tonight Show commitment, and then has a real emergency about which Selina could not care less. And as a very pleasant surprise, Adam Scott plays the host of The Tonight Show. He bombards Selina with children reading bad reviews of her book as the credits roll.

Stray Observations:
  • Selina’s staff book inclusion stats: Amy is not mentioned until page 134. Gary is on page 93, “As Gary poured my tea, I realized the hostages, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.” Mike’s name doesn’t come up until page 213. “And I wrote the book.” Kent appears 12 times. Jonah isn’t mentioned once. “I ruined her administration, like, four times. You think that’d count for something.” Richard made it in the book, but “just the dedication.”
  • Jonah’s low office ceiling is all of us.  
  • Does Selina think that Johnny Carson still hosts The Tonight Show?
  • I could watch Selina and Marjorie interact forever and ever.
  • Jaffar is adorable. 
  • “The history books are being rewritten and this time it’s not Texas saying Satan made fossils.” 
  • Peter MacNicol as Uncle Jeff psychotically laughing at Jonah’s plight was a wonder to behold. Truly glorious.
  • ADAM SCOTT, YOU GUYS!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

American Gods 1x08 Review: "Come to Jesus" (A Storm Breaks) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


"Come to Jesus"
Original Airdate: June 18, 2017

[Warning: The following review contains spoilers.]

It’s finale time for American Gods! I usually judge finales by how well they tie up all the loose ends, but I went into this show knowing that the first season was only going to cover roughly the first hundred pages of the book so I suspected the finale would just be littered with cliffhangers. To my pleasant surprise, American Gods manages to structure its first season finale in a way that provides closure on some key ideas and character arcs, even as it clears the storytelling path for future seasons.

A STOLEN QUEEN


We didn’t see how they arrived since last week’s episode was all about Mad Sweeney and Laura Moon, but “Come to Jesus” opens with Wednesday and Shadow sitting in a house while Mr. Nancy sews them some fancy suits. Old Anansi is more than just a tailor, though — his primary role is as a weaver of tales, not of cloth. Mr. Nancy entertains the impatient Wednesday and angry, confused Shadow with the story of a queen in ancient times, who was worshipped by many and was slowly forgotten.

It’s the story of Bilquis, the goddess of love who has spent this season longingly gazing at museum artifacts even though she seems to be getting all the prayers she should need from the people she takes to her bed. Bilquis’s arc — her journey from real belief when she was a queen, to the empty connections she makes through meeting up with people via dating apps — shows us a goddess’s fall from power and rise to a different, less satisfying power. Bilquis is worshipped, but not in the same way she was worshipped before. She has power, but it’s a parasitic power; it relies on the aid of the New Gods, which means the belief of her followers is siphoned off by another deity and she faces starvation despite constant consumption.

There’s an interesting thread of the fall of female power in Bilquis’s story, representative of the ancient worship of the feminine that was transformed into worship of the masculine over time. Bilquis wasn’t forgotten because people stopped knowing her, but because people were stopped from knowing her, stopped from worshipping queens like Bilquis and turned toward worshipping kings. She was a goddess of love, reduced and laid low by gods of war and conquest. And with femininity being such a crucial part of Bilquis’s existence, it’s really no wonder that the male Technical Boy providing her “lifeline” results in unfulfilling, empty worship that leaves her still wandering museums and thinking back on what used to be.

Mr. Nancy wraps up his story in a little bow for Shadow, who still doesn’t get it, by telling the two men to go get themselves a queen. The New Gods recruited a forgotten queen to their side, so it’s time for the Old Gods to do the same.

A STOLEN QUEEN: PART II


In his Bilquis story Mr. Nancy says, from the perspective of Bilquis, “So long as I’m still alive, I can adapt. I still know what I am.” The declaration is a core idea within all the Old Gods, who struggle to find the balance between adapting (which means survival) and changing (which means self-destruction). Vulcan adapted then changed, and was beheaded for it. Bilquis adapted then changed, and was forgotten for it. And then there is Easter, the goddess Ostara of springtime, rebirth, renewal, and the dawn, who seems to have brightly adapted to the fact that she now shares her day with Jesus in the modern era. It’s kinda easy for her, though, since Jesus — all the Jesuses, of which there are at least a dozen walking around Easter’s mansion in Kentucky — is a super nice guy. He even feels a little bad about stealing some of Easter’s thunder.

The suits Mr. Nancy made for Shadow and Wednesday are because the two of them needed to be adequately dressed for Easter’s stellar Easter celebration. Just when I don’t think I can love Shadow any more than I already do, he meets Easter and is instantly smitten with the effervescent Ostara (played by the effervescent Kristin Chenoweth) to the point where he’s all smiles and blushes whenever he talks to her. Easter and I both agree that it’s darling and Shadow is the actual best.


Wednesday’s goal is to recruit Easter to the side of the Old Gods, because even though she’s not exactly on the side of the New Gods (since her existence relies more on Christianity adopting her day than anything the New Gods have done for her, regardless of what Media says about it) she still denies needing anything more than what she already has. To get Easter on their side, Wednesday claims that Vulcan was killed by the New Gods after pledging his allegiance and forging a sword for him. She’s troubled, but she still isn’t ready to sign up for a war. Furthermore, she has a party to host and people keep showing up uninvited — people like Media and Technical Boy, and Laura and Mad Sweeney.

I originally thought that one of the Jesuses walking around the mansion was going to be the one Mad Sweeney wanted to resurrect Laura, but it turns out that Easter was the target all along. Unfortunately for Laura, Easter says that she can’t do anything to bring her back to life because she was killed by a god. After some severe intimidation from Laura, Mad Sweeney confirms that it was Wednesday who had Laura killed because Wednesday needed Shadow. Why did Wednesday need Shadow? No one seems to know except Wednesday, and I have a feeling he isn’t going to be upfront about that motivation any time soon.

An interesting aspect of American Gods is the lack of a clear-cut line between the “good” and “bad” gods. We’re introduced to the story on the side of the Old Gods and, even though most of us viewers are more likely to worship our smartphones than we are to worship Odin, we see the New Gods as the villains. Of course, it doesn’t help that Technical Boy is hideously unlikable and Mr. World is just odd — but Wednesday isn’t exactly the most upstanding or endearing individual either, since he recruits Easter under false pretenses and manipulates her from the second he sees her.

Wednesday is using Easter, just as he’s using Shadow, just as he used Mad Sweeney and he used Laura Moon. The New Gods stole their queen and Wednesday is stealing his, but the show uses Wednesday to add a veneer of custom, tradition, and glory to the Old Gods that makes them seem more genuine than the flashy New Gods. Wednesday is manipulating us, the viewers, the same as he’s manipulating the characters around him: by presenting us with a narrative that makes us rather believe in him over them. If anything, Wednesday’s recruitment of Shadow is just a way for him to further this long con because Shadow is, more than anyone else in this brewing battle, good. By aligning Shadow with himself, Wednesday reinforces the illusion of being on the honorable side of the fight, and we believe it.

On this show, ancient gods are as mercurial and shifting as they need to be to survive and keep their power, and this episode underlines their need to adapt without destroying themselves. If the Old Gods don’t want to adapt to the world, like Bilquis and Vulcan and Easter have tried to do, they must follow Wednesday’s path and force the world to adapt to them. Things happen, as Wednesday says, because gods make them happen — and gods happen because people want to know why things happen. The Old Gods just need to give humanity questions to ask and inspire wonder, then they can return humanity to the simpler worship they followed before, when Old Gods thrived.

The episode ends with Wednesday telling Shadow who he actually is: “I am called Glad-of-War, Grim, Raider, and Third. I am One-Eyed, I am also called Highest and True-Guesser. I am Grimnir and the Hooded One. I am All-Father, Gondlir, Wand-bearer. I have as many names as there are winds, as many titles as there are ways to die. My ravens are Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory, my wolves are Freki and Geri. My horse is the gallows. I am Odin.”

Wednesday — Odin — kills some faceless New God henchmen in the name of Ostara and, bolstered by the dramatic speech and the deaths in her name, Easter shows her own power by going old-school and taking Spring from the world around her. The people can have it back, says Wednesday, when they pray for it. After such a fantastic show of ability, Wednesday asks Shadow if he finally believes. Shadow says that he does. He believes everything.

The war between the gods has officially begun.

Afterthoughts:
  • “More Mr. Nancy” is at the top of my list of things I want next season. “More Ricky Whittle being the best Shadow Moon that could ever be” is in second place, only because it’s pretty much a given.
  • Wednesday’s utter inability to understand the human perspective is still one of my favorite things about the character. Shadow is angry that he watched the guy cut off Vulcan’s head then dragged him off to get a suit and Wednesday’s response is “You’re getting one too!”
  • The Believe Buffalo returns to Shadow in this episode! Fitting, since this is the episode in which Shadow finally learns to believe.
  • For a second I thought a song and dance number was about to start when the faceless henchmen began marching around Easter. I wouldn’t put it past this show.