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.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Younger 5x10 Recap: “Girls on the Side” (Everything Isn’t What It Seems) [Guest Poster: Kay-B]

“Girls on the Side”
Original Airdate: August 14, 2018

What happens when the tables turn in the relationship between Liza and Caitlin? Does Liza even know the difference between reality and this world she’s created built on lies? How much longer can she keep secrets? This week’s Younger answers these questions and more!

It’s the first weekend apart for the newly-dating Charles and Liza, but Charles is being quite vague about why he is going on a mysterious last-minute business trip to Sun Valley. Liza — disappointed that they can’t go away together — quickly bounces back because life has other plans to keep her preoccupied.

Meanwhile Josh, signing the ten-year lease on his business after a big push from Liza, finally relaunches his newly renovated and upscale tattoo parlor, now affectionately known as Inkburg 2.0. Kelsey warned Liza that everything Josh does is to impress her, but she assured her that they are just friends. Liza must be blind though, because Josh lights up like a child on Christmas morning any time she is around. Liza is the love of his life and he would do anything for her.

So after he publicly thanks her for helping him get to this point of success in his life, he surprises her with a visit from Caitlin! Josh is so thoughtful, especially when it comes to Liza. The idea that she can’t see that he is still in love with her though is insane. At this point, I believe that she is choosing to look beyond his feelings and live in a space of friendship to avoid dealing with it directly — especially now that she’s dating Charles.

Caitlin, who very clearly wants her mom and Josh to be together, brought a surprise of her own in the form of her new, much older, former English professor boyfriend. Liza is upset, naturally, because this is her daughter. But comes off as a bit of a hypocrite since she dated Josh and provided the blueprint for Caitlin to date someone in a different age bracket. Caitlin suggests they all go to brunch, and Liza has to keep drinking as more and more details of the relationship between this older man and her daughter are revealed. Liza, the mom, wants to shield her daughter; but Caitlin needs to experience some things on her own.

Meanwhile in Sun Valley, Millennial’s newest author, Quinn, is flirting up a storm with Charles and posting about it on social media. With Liza and Charles still actively hiding their relationship, the flirting obviously strikes a nerve with Liza. She isn’t entirely sure where they stand as a couple and it makes her a bit wary. When she openly confesses to Josh that she and Charles are in a new relationship, he challenges her to really think about whether or not this is real. Josh feels so much for Liza and was always honest with her, while Liza is constantly wrapped up in lies. And this is when Josh tries to make her realize how damaging this non-stop cycle of lies truly is. Josh loves Liza, but firmly decides after their conversation that he needs to move on. He even repurposed his tattoo that they got together.

When Caitlin’s professor boyfriend asks her to leave the wedding they attended in fear of getting caught by a faculty attendee, she rushes to her mom. Liza comes clean about the lies she’s told over the past five years to get and maintain a job in publishing and support Caitlin and herself. She also admits to her secret relationship with Charles, in an attempt to try and teach Caitlin the error and harm in lying and creating these secretive environments. She encourages Caitlin to know her value and worth, and to start to receive the type of love she deserves.

When Charles returns from his business trip, Liza wastes no time letting him know that she felt uneasy about his time in Sun Valley, because it seemed like it was more then just business with Quinn. Charles confesses that Quinn is interested in investing in the company, and reassures her that he’s all in with her... just in private for now. Charles can’t be all-in in public quite yet, because things are complicated with work and his impending divorce. Liza, realizing that she only wants him in whole not in part, takes a stand and tells Charles to call her when he’s ready to go public with their relationship.

Elsewhere in the episode, Diana has her first major test with Enzo’s family. His mom invites her to dinner and asks her to bring a dish. Liza gets Maggie to make her world-famous lasagna on Diana’s behalf, and Enzo’s mother immediately knows Diana’s cooking skills are a farce. Instead of calling her out, she requests her assistance in preparing the rest of the meal. Diana works hard and tries her best, but one cheese topping mistake and Enzo’s mother loses it. She basically tells Diana that she’ll never be good enough. And while she thinks Diana will take it, Diana snaps back! She gives Enzo and his mother some hard truths about why he hasn’t settled down yet — and a lot of that is rooted in his mother’s consistent babying of him. Enzo agrees, follows Diana, and asks her to give him another chance. He will be finally leaving the nest and getting an apartment in the city!

This episode was really good to me. Seeing the level of discomfort on Liza’s face when Caitlin introduced her boyfriend was priceless. Also for the first time since her divorce, Liza is in a relationship with someone she really likes, and who understands her work, her divorce, and parenthood — yet she can’t share that openly with the world. This leads to a bigger issue of her double life catching up with her and not being sustainable. Having Josh confront Liza empowers her to really do some introspective work, which is exactly what this show needs to drive home this season’s last couple of episodes. Does Liza even know herself anymore? Does anyone know the real her?

Tell me your thoughts! Did you enjoy the episode? How much longer will Charles and Liza have to be apart? Will Enzo and Diana be getting engaged this season? Should Liza just be single and figure out who she is and what she wants? And will she sacrifice everything she’s built with Kelsey at Millennial for the sake of her relationship with Charles? Until next week!

Finding Your Voice: A Review of The Book of Essie [Contributor: Megan Mann]

I watch a lot of TV. Most people can say that, but really, I watch a lot of TV and I would say almost half of it is reality television. (I once told my cable provider that the package wouldn't do unless it involved Bravo.) So when it comes to the books that I read, I try to keep reality TV out of the binding as much as possible.

And then I made an exception for The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir.

The book follows Esther Hicks — Essie, for short — who is a member of the Six for Hicks reality show that has been airing since before she was born. Her father is a famous preacher and her mother is the quintessential matriarch. She's polished and fraudulent in ways that only those behind the scenes can understand. But Essie has a secret: she's pregnant, and she needs to figure out how to work the situation to get exactly what she wants.

What follows is a story that is constantly surprising you and leaving you guessing about what's going to happen next. It twists and turns and has multiple points of view in order to give you a full picture of what's really happening.

In short, what you think is not what's really true.

I absolutely loved The Book of Essie. I thought it was truly spectacular in how it frequently threw me for a loop and was never boring. I definitely did not find the plot to be dry. While there are times that the pacing is a bit more intentional and slow, it didn't ever feel like it was stalled. In that sense, the book's pace was perfect, drawing you in and making you want to know what was going to happen next.

Generally speaking, I can usually figure out what's going to happen in a book, plot-wise, or what the big reveal is going to be. But with The Book of Essie, I had no idea what was going to happen as the story unfolded. What the author does is give you, the reader, the basics and never really elaborates on  certain elements so that when the reveal comes, you're shocked and blown away. It's fantastic.

Another thing that's really great about this book is how it takes the idea of reality television and flips it on its head. It breaks down the barrier created between the editing room and our screens. And it demonstrates the idea that while we're getting reality from a "reality show," it's only a version of reality. It's not a whole picture, though it's usually enough to give us an idea of who those people are. When you look behind the camera into what's really going on, you realize how easy it is to create a facade and become an image — a brand. It tarnishes the idea of honesty and I loved that about this book. It's that facade that allows the events of this story to take place.

The Book of Essie is a story about finding your voice and standing up for yourself, even when the consequences might be devastating. It's about getting away from a situation that no longer benefits you and finding peace and happiness. It's a story about a girl who is ready to break free of the facade that has held her captive for her whole life.

The Book of Essie is a fantastic read and one you should pick up today!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

6 Reasons to Binge-Watch Insecure [Contributor: Megan Mann]

As the summer winds down, there are plenty of shows that you could be watching to fill up the time before the regular TV season begins. Sure, you could probably find another show to binge on Netflix or Hulu — or go with the old standby of re-watching one of your favorite shows. But allow me to tempt you with something your life is missing tremendously.

I give you: Insecure.

HBO’s original series created by, and starring, Issa Rae is easily one of the best shows you’re not watching. It follows Issa as she navigates life in Los Angeles, which includes pitfalls and triumphs of the usual twenty-something character: friendships, relationships, jobs, and understanding your place in the world. But the show makes those journeys actually feel real. The series is accessible and downright hilarious, but also carries so much heart.

There are plenty of reasons to watch this show, but here are just a few reasons to entice you:

1. Issa Rae is incredible.

If you’ve ever read Issa Rae’s memoir The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (which you should if you haven’t already), you’ll know that she is truly hilarious. She has a way of explaining life in a way that you really know she gets what you think and feel. This, wonderfully, translates on screen to Insecure. She not only makes you want to be her friend, but her mirror chats with herself are something we can all relate to when we try to pump ourselves up.

This girl’s shine is about to blind us all, so why don’t you just hop on the train now?

2. The cast is stellar.

Not only is Issa Rae an absolute star, but the rest of the cast is fantastic as well. Her best friend is played beautifully by Yvonne Orji. Frieda is the awkward, but lovable friend you work with. Tiffany, played by Amanda Seales, is that girl in the relationship that can’t stop talking about it that you sort of get annoyed with, but still talk to anyway. And Natasha Rothwell — who recently stole any scene she was in in Love, Simon — has you cackling more often than not as Kelli. Jay Ellis, Y’lan Noel, and Chad Kerr round out the cast of men that offer their own individuality to their characters and how they fit into Issa’s life. No one character is the same as the other, and I think that’s one of the best aspects of the show.

3. The friendships are important.

Circling back to wanting to be Issa's friend, you’ll see yourself in the friendships Issa has. We all have a best friend like Molly, who is literally the exact opposite of us, but who will ride or die for us no matter what. It’s being able to rely on a friend — someone you can fight with (like when Issa tells Molly she needs therapy) and know that it’ll eventually blow over — that makes growing up and finding our place in the world that much easier.

But it’s not just the friendship with Molly that you’ll love. Issa’s friends Tiffany and Kelli are people that you know you have in your life or have come in contact with. Frieda is a great work friend that you sometimes clash with. However the friendship is, at the core, the thing that sets the series in motion.

Without these people — without Issa being able to use them as a sounding board — Issa would be a different person. For me, seeing female friendship at the core of a series is important in today’s society. We need shows that focus more on the friendship, like Issa and Molly’s, rather than the romantic exploits of a modern woman. A woman doesn’t always need a man, but she will always need her best friend.

4. The show is authentic.

The authenticity really makes Insecure stand out. There are plenty of episodes where I have to hit pause and appreciate how real the show is. Sure, it’s a work of fiction, but the situations Issa finds herself in are entirely relatable. Sometimes we make mistakes and we have to live with the consequences, even if they hurt. Sometimes we say things that we shouldn’t, or hold back when we should have spoken up. Sometimes we don’t feel motivated to be better or move forward. We get stuck. We break up. We think we’re unlovable. We aren’t always a good friend.

For a twenty-something watching this show, the subject matter is so relatable that you wonder if your own life is being monitored and mined for an upcoming episode. There’s something special about being able to relate to what you’re watching. It gives you a sense of comfort that reminds you that you are not alone.

5. It’s hilarious!

I don’t even need to elaborate further. It’s absolutely hilarious, will have you hitting pause more than a few times to process a line and really appreciate it for its innate and subtle humor. This is a writer’s room any writer would kill to be a part of. Most specifically, the mirror pep talks and anything Kelli says are hysterical. Insecure will make you laugh, while also having a ton of heart. Win-win!

6. It is concise.

It’s literally eight episodes a season. EIGHT. At only 28 minutes! If you can sit down and watch an hour-long episode of a Netflix original series, you can definitely watch 26-28 minutes of absolute magic.

Best of all? Season three premieres THIS SUNDAY, August 12! So, queue up the HBO app or head to your local library to rent the DVDs, sit back, and binge all 16 episodes of the first two seasons. It’s something you’ll thank me for later.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

4th Annual Golden Trio Award -- SPECIAL CATEGORY NOMINEES

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Here is where the fun really begins, friends! Our Special Category is a bit shorter than in years past, but we're excited to have you vote in our #OTPoftheYear category (which is arguably one of our biggest and most popular ones each year)!

Never participated in the #GoldenTrioAwards? Here's how it works: Based on a fun, interactive game called #Top3 that our assistant editor, Chelsea, created years ago, these awards don't just have one winner — they have three! Like the Olympics, each category will wind up with a gold, silver, and bronze medalist at the end of the voting period.

Vote your favorites to the top three slots, and share the love!



Rafael/Jane ("Jane the Virgin")
Nick/Jess ("New Girl")
Sara/Ava ("Legends of Tomorrow")
Charles/Liza ("Younger")
Waverly/Nicole ("Wynonna Earp")
Jughead/Betty ("Riverdale")



"This Is Us"
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
"Legends of Tomorrow"
"The Bold Type"
"Wynonna Earp"
"Orange is the New Black"



"Cloak and Dagger"
"Splitting Up Together"
"Sharp Objects"
"The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale"
"Queer Eye" (Netflix)
"Killing Eve"

Don't forget to vote in the COMEDY and DRAMA categories too!

4th Annual Golden Trio Awards -- DRAMA NOMINEES

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Welcome to the fourth annual Golden Trio Award drama nominees! Life got heavy in the real world this year, but that doesn't mean our television favorites escaped hard times either. Whether a dystopian society, family issues, or battling creatures, the following nominees excelled.

Never participated in the #GoldenTrioAwards? Here's how it works: Based on a fun, interactive game called #Top3 that our assistant editor, Chelsea, created years ago, these awards don't just have one winner — they have three! Like the Olympics, each category will wind up with a gold, silver, and bronze medalist at the end of the voting period.

Vote your favorites to the top three slots, and share the love!



Orphan Black
Stranger Things
The Crown
The Handmaid's Tale
This Is Us
Black Mirror



Kyle MacLachlan ("Twin Peaks")
Sterling K. Brown ("This Is Us")
John Legend ("Jesus Christ Superstar")
Jeffrey Wright ("Westworld")
Matthew Rhys ("The Americans")
David Harbour ("Stranger Things")



Claire Foy ("The Crown")
Amy Adams ("Sharp Objects")
Sandra Oh ("Killing Eve")
Mandy Moore ("This Is Us")
Tatiana Maslany ("Orphan Black")
Melanie Scrofano ("Wynonna Earp")



Hale Appleman ("The Magicians")
Shamier Anderson ("Wynonna Earp")
Justin Hartley ("This Is Us")
Matt Smith ("The Crown")
Malcolm Barrett ("Timeless")
Matthew Goode ("The Crown")



Yvonne Strahovski ("The Handmaid's Tale")
Letitia Wright ("Black Mirror")
Vanessa Kirby ("The Crown")
Summer Bishil ("The Magicians")
Millie Bobby Brown ("Stranger Things")
Thandie Newton ("Westworld")

Don't forget to vote in the COMEDY and SPECIAL CATEGORY too!

4th Annual Golden Trio Awards -- COMEDY NOMINEES

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It was the year of comedy, which we desperately needed after real life gave us far too much drama. Below, you'll find some of our favorite performers and series from the 2017-2018 season. They may or may not win Emmys, but you can help them win gold, silver, or bronze in our awards!

Never participated in the #GoldenTrioAwards? Here's how it works: Based on a fun, interactive game called #Top3 that our assistant editor, Chelsea, created years ago, these awards don't just have one winner — they have three! Like the Olympics, each category will wind up with a gold, silver, and bronze medalist at the end of the voting period.

Vote your favorites to the top three slots, and share the love!



Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
The Bold Type
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend



James Roday ("Psych: The Movie")
Donald Glover ("Atlanta")
Andy Samberg ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine")
Chris Geere ("You're the Worst")
Ted Danson ("The Good Place")
Bill Hader ("Barry")



Rachel Brosnahan ("The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel")
Alison Brie ("GLOW")
Tracee Ellis Ross ("black-ish")
Justina Machado ("One Day At A Time")
Rachel Bloom ("Crazy Ex-Girlfriend")
Kristen Bell ("The Good Place")



Max Greenfield ("New Girl")
Tituss Burgess ("Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt")
Laurence Fishburne ("black-ish")
Todd Grinnell ("One Day At A Time")
Terry Crews ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine")
Marc Maron ("GLOW")



Rita Moreno ("One Day At A Time")
Melissa Fumero ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine")
Jameela Jamil ("The Good Place")
Kether Donohue ("You're the Worst")
Kate McKinnon ("Saturday Night Live")
Stephanie Beatriz ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine")

Don't forget to vote in the DRAMA and SPECIAL CATEGORY too!