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, March 18, 2018

Timeless 2x02 Review: "The Darlington 500" (A New Threat and a Lot of Cuddling) [Contributor: Jenn]

“The Darlington 500”
Original Airdate: March 18, 2018

They always say that history has a way of repeating itself. But often, not in the ways we expect. I feel like it’s better to say that history mirrors itself — we will find people whose stories resonate with ours that it’s almost as if we were separated across time and space. In this week’s episode of Timeless, Wyatt Logan meets Wendell Scott and the two connect over their love of cars, but also over their similar experiences with their fathers. Really, this episode focuses on the importance of people in history, and the fight against time. We get to know a Rittenhouse agent more and sense his struggle, and we get to see Wendell’s view of his present circumstances and his hope for the future. Elsewhere in the episode, Carol has difficulty wrangling Nicholas and we might have seen a slight shift in her perspective about this whole Rittenhouse ordeal. Just a little.


We’re traveling back to 1955 this week, but our Time Team really has no idea what Rittenhouse is up to. The Mothership landed there, but nothing significant happened in the town of Darlington, South Carolina. But Wyatt has a thought — what if Rittenhouse isn’t interfering in current important historical events? What if they’re anticipating the moments before events happen? Since he’s the only NASCAR nerd on the team, Wyatt informs the rest of the gang that there’s a significant NASCAR driver who gets his start at the Darlington 500. So the team travels back to 1955 with a few jackets from Old Navy because budget cuts, man.

You’ll imagine the team’s surprise and ours as the viewers when we realize that the driver who the Time Team thought they were rescuing from being murdered by Rittenhouse is actually a Rittenhouse agent himself. See, Rittenhouse’s plot was a bit more convoluted than Wyatt gave them credit for — the evil organization planted Ryan back in time and have been leveraging his influence in order to get to the Darlington 500 and then take control of the car companies in attendance.

It all sounds very Rittenhouse-y, but here’s where I actually really enjoyed the plot — Ryan Millerson actually liked his life in the 1950s. He got married. He has a child on the way. He might have been an agent from 2018, but he fell in love with his life in the 1950s. The plot twist this season of Rittenhouse agents being scattered across space and time (okay, mostly just time because I watch too much Doctor Who) lends itself to some really good stories like this week’s. It begs the question of what happens when you live in an entirely different era. Will some of these agents forgo their mission (like Ryan was tempted to and — I believe — probably would have) in order to hold onto the reality of the life they’ve built? Will some agents lose themselves in the past, desperate to return to 2018?

Will the mission mean anything to them anymore?

While Emma is your pretty cut-and-dry villain (complete with a strut, threats of death, and sarcasm), I like that — for however briefly — we got the chance to examine the fact that not everyone in Rittenhouse is like Emma; these are people who have made choices (bad choices) but when push comes to shove, might not always align with the Rittenhouse code of conduct.

Regardless, Ryan ends up dead — along with another Rittenhouse agent, thanks to Wyatt — and Emma is a bit concerned about the fact that Carol seems to be making no progress with Nicholas. If you’ll recall, the team picked him up and dropped him into 2018, but all Nicholas wants is pickled eggs and to paint. Carol is a little frustrated that Nicholas isn’t this great, genius mind that she was hoping for (and promised everyone else) who would lead Rittenhouse into the future (or… past? This is weird with time-travel shows).

Carol gets her wish when Nicholas essentially paints a manifesto on the wall. We’ll get to that later on, but suffice it to say that Emma is thrilled. Carol doesn’t seem to be as much.


Wyatt is the kind of character who heavily guards his past. It’s been used to hurt him and it, itself, has hurt him. This week, we got to learn a little bit more about Wyatt’s abusive, drunk father as he and Wendell share stories. Wyatt, while helping Wendell fix his car, talks about how he used to fix up cars with his father. But it wasn’t a father/son bonding experience. Whenever Wyatt mouthed off, his dad would throw him in the back of the car and drive it around until something broke. It was Wyatt’s job, then, to fix whatever was wrong with the car. And he wasn’t allowed to come home until he did. But when he turned 15, Wyatt left — he stole his father’s car, drove it until the pistons blew, and then drove it straight into a lake.

So you’re probably wondering how Wyatt became the soldier and protector we all know and love him to be. It’s interesting because loyalty is one of Wyatt’s defining characteristics. He’s stubborn in his loyalty to the people he cares about, but he’s often intensely guarded emotionally all the same. Learning more about his past, it makes sense: Wyatt will never be his father. He’ll never harm the people he’s supposed to love, and he’ll never abandon them. But because Wyatt experienced abuse and trauma, he’s hesitant to share the depth of his life with someone. When he and Lucy have an intimate conversation later about what he confessed, she’s half-amused, half-concerned that Wyatt can just turn his emotions on and off like a tap. One minute he’s sharing stories about his dad, and the next, he’s silent.

I think Wyatt’s complexities stem from this dichotomy, really — this desire to be vulnerable, but the fear of intimacy with people who could hurt him, emotionally. There’s something so lovely about the fact that Wyatt and Lucy balance one another out in that way, and are able to share so much about their lives without fear of judgment or condemnation. There’s hesitancy, of course, because vulnerability is scary. But both Wyatt and Lucy find comfort and safety in each other, which is so crucial because that stability is what they both crave.

Additionally (in a more comedic scene), we learn that Wyatt was a bootlegger (of sorts... more so the implication is that he was a drug runner) when he was a teenager. When Rufus and Lucy look at him, stunned, as he explains what he did, we — the audience — realize we don’t know much about Wyatt Logan. As he points out, I guess we never asked.


I mean, did Wyatt and Lucy REALLY need to be thrown into the secret hatch of the trunk together? Probably not. But they were! And because they were, I’m going to talk about the growing intimacy between these two characters. I’ve shipped them from the beginning of the show and I’m still shipping them now. There’s a beauty in their relationship — Lucy is so trusting, while Wyatt is a bit more guarded; Lucy is the emotional bedrock of the group while Wyatt provides the strategy and logic. And in this episode, the two commiserate over their terrible parents together.

While in the back of the car, the pair gets super duper cozy (cuddly and all), but also emotionally cozy — there’s an irony in the sense that Lucy believes Wyatt didn’t care about his dad or admire him because he was an abusive alcoholic. Wyatt gently corrects her because of course he still looked up to his dad; it was his DAD, after all. Lucy is still struggling because the woman she admired most in the world and loved immensely turned out to be a monster — or, at the very least, in the den of monsters. I love that these two are being more and more intricately bonded this season. Last year, they went through hell and back together. This year, they’re not only facing the emotional and literal consequences of Rittenhouse, but also tethering themselves to each other in the process. Every obstacle brings them closer, and every battle they fight proves they’re on each others’ sides.

Plus, they’re real cute together.

“The Darlington 500” ends with something pretty interesting. Carol and Emma meet with Nicholas, who unveils a painting to the rest of Rittenhouse. “We few will save the world,” he says as he declares how Rittenhouse can start the world over — the right way. If you listen closely (or even if you don’t listen closely) you’ll notice how rather genocide-y that sounds. Nicholas tells Rittenhouse that their job is to take the best of history, and slough off the worst of it. Time is theirs to do with as they please, so why not sculpt away at the human race until it “reaches perfection everlasting”? Emma thinks this is the greatest idea since sliced bread, but when we pan to Carol’s face, her hesitancy and reminder of Lucy’s “be on the right side of history” warning seems to be etched across her face.

As irony would have it though, “we few will save the world” is actually the slogan for the good guys, too. The Time Team will always continue to fight for justice and do what’s right — regardless of who they’re fighting against. The question is: will Carol choose to fight with Rittenhouse or will what semblance of a conscience she has left choose her to do otherwise?

Timey-wimey bits:
  • Ah, so Wyatt and Lucy aren’t rooming together in the bunker. That makes sense from a logical perspective, but my shipper goggles had hopes.
  • Some minor stories I did not talk about earlier: Jiya is still having what appear to be flashes of other timelines. Except... maybe they actually are premonitions of the future. At the beginning of the episode, Jiya freaks out because she imagines seeing a burn on Rufus’ arm. It is not real, of course... until the end of the episode in which Rufus returns from the 1950s with a burn on his arm. Meanwhile, Agent Christopher essentially has to force Connor from speaking at a symposium.
  • My favorite thing in the episode is when Wyatt rattles off names of NASCAR drivers and everyone looks at him with a mix of confusion and hilarious disinterest.
  • I had wondered why Michael Rady looked so familiar and then I realized he was in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
  • Can we all appreciate the running joke of Rufus giving Wendell “the nod”?
  • “Y’all really cops?” “... Yup.” “Uh, yeah, I’m the chief!”
  • Lucy confiscating moonshine from Wyatt is hilarious.
  • “Come on, fanboy.”
  • The show should just be renamed “The Prodigal Princess and Her Boy Toys.”
  • “Okay, this is simultaneously giving me a headache AND a panic attack.”
  • Did you notice Wyatt gave Lucy his jacket? Too cute.
What did you think of this week’s Timeless? How badly do you want Wyatt and Lucy to kiss? What’s really going on with Jiya? Sound off in the comments below!

Why Crazy Ex-Girlfriend Was One of the Most Important Shows of 2017-2018 [Contributors: Jenn and Anne]

Ever since its debut, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend has been a boundary-pushing, raucous, wonderful comedy — a gem on The CW and critical darling. As the show has grown and evolved, its shed preconceived notions and embraced discussion of stigmas. This season, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend took a few darker twists and turns which made the show more nuanced, layered, and poignant than ever before. Because the series has been so important to us (and actually Anne is the one who pushed me to try comedies that had polarizing names), Anne and I decided to combine our forces and describe the ups and downs of this season on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Rebecca Bunch is such a complex character — on the one hand, occasionally we will root for her, but often we root against her. This year, we saw quite an evolution of her character. By the finale, how did you feel about her arc?

Anne: I think that Rebecca still has a long way to go. I am a tremendous fan of this show — it is comfort television on weekends and comfort music on weekdays. Rewatching and re-listening so often has helped me to fully appreciate how ambitious the creators’ plan was for the character, to where each conflict Rebecca faced — whether unfairly or as a result of her own actions — made perfect sense within her emotional arc. If it were done, it would hardly be as ambitious. So I imagine there’s still a lot Rebecca has to learn, and that the arc isn’t concluded.

I wanted to mention the (presumably four-season) arc as a whole before answering what you were asking, about this season in particular. I thought the breakdown in season three made perfect sense and was necessary. For how strongly Rebecca reacted against Robert, with whom she was not even exclusively involved, it makes sense that Josh Chan — who, for the entire show, has been a bedrock of her happiness and hope — leaving her would cause such a downward spiral. And I think it has been important, as more people become involved in her life, that the artificiality of her moving to West Covina is shed. It makes the show darker and realer, and makes her decision in the finale justifiable (at least from an emotional standpoint).

Jenn: I’ve always enjoyed the fact that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a meta, raucous series. But I think that season three really helped elevate it from a smart comedy to a poignant one. This year saw darker twists and turns, but yet they never felt excessive or out of place. Rebecca is such an interesting character. We spent so much of our time in the series trying to decide whether or not her actions are justifiable. In season three, Rebecca Bunch became more self-aware, and we got the opportunity to see her realization that her actions have consequences and there are some lines that, once crossed, cannot be un-crossed.

Rebecca’s arc makes sense to me — she’s grown and progressed and has finally come to the point in which she’s willing and able to take responsibility and change, even if it’s difficult. In spite of the rocky road it took to get her there, Rebecca’s willingness to sacrifice (time, freedom, convenience) has allowed her to become a more well-developed character and also a more complex one. Rebecca still makes mistakes. We still disagree with some of the decisions she makes. She still takes two steps forward and one back. But that’s humanity in the show and in Rebecca.

Let’s talk about how Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was unafraid to go really dark this year. Why was that important for the show and its evolution?

Anne: I think it was important in the interest of blowing up the idea of “crazy ex-girlfriend.” Despite how many interviews the creators give and how concerning Rebecca was so often, I think that there is a huge chunk of people who miss season one Rebecca’s “quirky adventures,” and that’s not the story this show is interested in telling. I’m personally happy it’s not. I had a much harder time enjoying the back half of this season than the first — trying to watch Rebecca do the same antics with Nathaniel as she did with Josh. The first half of the season ruined forever the sanctuary of ignorance that Rebecca, and us viewers, could stay in. There’s nothing quirky about Rebecca’s behavior anymore; there never really was. Her actions have real consequences.

Now that we have seen with our eyes the consequences of Rebecca not receiving the treatment she needs, we know that that’s the endgame we need to be rooting for — not about the guys! That’s an idea that Rebecca hasn’t committed to (despite “Buttload of Cats,” ha) and an idea we’re not used to, either. My pea brain sees a guy like Scott Michael Foster and wants him to kiss anyone on screen at all times, okay, not necessarily watch Rebecca fill out therapy workbooks. A part of me has to wonder if our resistance to this idea is because we’re not used to a woman anti-hero character. Walter White didn’t end up with anyone. Don Draper didn’t end up with anyone. Dexter didn’t end up with anyone. (Actually, don’t get me started on Dexter...) Why is it essential that Rebecca does? Is it because the show is sold as a deconstruction of rom-coms, or is it that romantic love is seen as the only ending a woman has?

Jenn: I totally agree, Anne — especially in regards to the fact that the series now wants to remind us that Rebecca’s actions have genuine consequences and we should see her not as a quirky heroine but as a broken, messed-up woman who we can root for, not to find love but to find herself and healing.

I feel like the topic of mental health including this season’s reality of Rebecca’s attempted suicide is important in the show’s progression. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a misnomer — the show is not about love or ex-love. Those are integral elements that propel plot and characterization. At its core, this is a show about what it means to struggle to deal with life and heal. Everyone in the series has their own coping mechanism for when life gets difficult and most of them are toxic — denial, deflection, dependency, regression — but the series does a great job this year in pointing those things out and naming them as toxic behaviors. Rebecca’s diagnosis was the first step in her healing (emotionally, mentally, and physically) in order to have better, healthier relationships with her friends, co-workers, family, and loved ones.

I think the show knew that it was so easy to romanticize Rebecca’s unhealthy behaviors (because we see them, on a smaller scale, so easily romanticized in rom-coms — come on, jealousy? Light snooping? Sabotage? All things that female characters do on some small scale in romantic movies in order to propel themselves closer to the person they’re attracted to), so they completely demolished our perception of that this year by allowing us to see exactly how self-destruction works. Rebecca’s arc is the show — and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend reminded us that just because she’s the main character doesn’t mean she’s always right. The darkness of this season will help Rebecca and the show’s characters become more fully-realized human beings who become better through mistakes and triumphs.

Not many shows can successfully do time-jumps, but toward the end of this season, we got one on the show. How effective was it? What did you like/dislike about jumping a bit into the future?

Anne: I thought that episode was sorely needed. I mentioned that the back half of the season was not as enjoyable for me as the first — and I mean, that’s for a lot of reasons. But this episode helped to propel a lot of the action that could have lingered for too long, and gave Rebecca sufficient time to find a “new normal” that was just as threatening to her happiness as the quest for Josh Chan.

So I liked the movement and slight changes to status quo. I liked that it skipped past the pregnancy. I liked Dog Josh! And I did think, after a front half that was so, so jam-packed with plot propulsion, that time needed to stretch a little bit to fit it all, if that makes sense. It’s not required that shows follow the same timeline as ours, but let’s be real — it’s hard to make sense of it in our brains when shows play with time too much. Ask How I Met Your Mother (actually, don’t get me started on How I Met Your Mother...).

I did not like Mona’s place in the eight months (made no sense she’d stay that long), and I wish that Valencia-being-bisexual was touched upon more in advance. For a fan theory that was so popular to be true was awesome, but it felt dismissive of the character to not give it more time — although what’s new with Valencia? Same with Josh, to be honest.

Jenn: I just loved the way the episode framed the time jump itself, panning to the different characters at different periods in time. It was smart, from a directing standpoint, and visually appealing. Ultimately, I’m a fan of time jumps when they make sense — and this one did. We needed to see our characters change (or not change) in that eight-ish month time frame and to flash forward a little bit gave, like Anne said, that sense of relief that time is still moving forward. Because yes, the front half of the season was dark and great but also because of how heavy it was, narratively, it was slower — literally, it took up less time. Moving forward, I loved that we got to see very pregnant Heather. I’m in agreement with the Valencia decision: even if it was fan canon, it still didn’t quite feel earned.

While the emphasis this year was more on Rebecca’s personal journey and dealing with a lot of darkness in her life, we still focused a bit on romance — especially the romance between Nathaniel and Rebecca. What are your hopes for these two moving into next season?

Anne: I have never believed that Rebecca loved Nathaniel the way that Nathaniel loves Rebecca. They have bonkers chemistry, and I love both the actors’ jobs in portraying both, but I think with so much going on in Rebecca’s life, Nathaniel felt jam-packed in as a serious viable romantic candidate in a way that Greg did not.

I still don’t think Nathaniel understands Rebecca beyond “manic pixie dream girl,” which makes his unconditional acceptance of her implausible, and his inability to criticize her actions in the way that she needs is a huge problem for their relationship to develop honestly. I also think it’s scummy to have a girlfriend and a long-term mistress in a way that I don’t think can be forgiven. Not to mention poor Lolo. So... I don’t know. I think they had done such a great job with introducing that initial attraction budding into something more from Nathaniel’s side, but (and maybe intentionally?) they never did that with Rebecca in a convincing way. I guess the answer to your question, though, is “kissing.” Scott Michael Foster has great arms.

Jenn: Give me more of Scott Michael Foster always, honestly. Sometimes I forget that he wasn’t always a part of this series but he’s so, so great and talented and elevates everything. He’s got the whole “puppy in love” look nailed down. I definitely think Nathaniel romanticizes and oversimplifies Rebecca as a person and character (we see that in the finale a bit), but I don’t think it comes from a place of malice or anything. It’s weird because Nathaniel isn’t asking Rebecca to change who she is at all, and essentially he tells her that he loves her as she is. But that’s kind of problematic, right? Because Rebecca NEEDS to change and grow, and Nathaniel’s acceptance is (ironically) just as bad as if he would force Rebecca to change everything about herself.

I’m interested to see how this romance plays out. I think Rachel Bloom and Scott Michael Foster have excellent chemistry, but I’m curious to know what exactly they would glean from a real relationship with each other. Nathaniel is becoming a better version of himself around Rebecca (he’s more vulnerable and caring and thoughtful) because he loves her, but is Rebecca the best version of herself around Nathaniel? Or is she more content to remain who she is because that’s the way he loves her? It’s just so interesting to ponder.

Also, all feelings about Scott Michael Foster aside, I truly do miss Greg. I know that Greg and Rebecca had so many issues together but darn if I don’t still miss him a tiny bit.

Josh was once such a focal point of the series, but kind of faded into the background by the end of this year. What do you think of him now, compared to what you used to think?

Anne: I always respected Josh as a character because he was believable in a way that Heather, Valencia, Nathaniel, even Paula are not... I’ve met type-B “chill” guys who were afraid to confront uncomfortable situations, and have definitely had overkill crushes, so he always kind of hit home for me. I also think that Vincent Rodriguez III is just the greatest at being a fully realized character with flaws and strengths.

A huge disappointment I have had with this season is the lack of focus on him, actually. I always thought this was Rebecca and Josh’s story — after all, in order to be a “crazy ex-girlfriend,” you have to have an “ex-boyfriend,” right? I wish that in the back half of the season instead of focusing on Trent in such a plot-important way, they had focused on Rebecca and Josh. The conversation they had near the end of the season (where Josh thanks Rebecca for changing his perspective) is one I think should have happened in season four. Josh has one of the most incomplete arcs of the ensemble, and more time should be spent on him next year.

Jenn: Yeah, it’s weird because I never really cared for Josh. I never shipped him and Rebecca, because he was just such a man child (in a way that, while Greg had his serious flaws, never truly was), that it seemed implausible to me that Rebecca would even find him remotely attractive. But that’s probably because I’ve met so many type-B guys in my life who I immediately find unattractive for the whole aforementioned man-childness that I’m projecting onto Josh.

ANYWHO, Josh’s lack of any significance or purpose toward the back half of the season did feel like a misstep on the part of the show. I get that he’s no longer the crucial character he once was to the plot, but we had more of White Josh character development than Josh character development and though I’m a fan of some White Josh, something about that felt off. As much as I’ve never cared for Josh, the show almost dropped him off in the background — which is only startling because of how integral he once was to the show. I think there’s a way to gradually fade him into obscurity and I’m not sure that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend did that well.

Let’s talk about the importance of the series’ supporting characters! Which of their stories resonated with you this year? Who and what do you hope we see more of next season?

Anne: I am not the right person to ask this question to — I have never liked much a majority of the supporting characters. Ummm, I did love Father Brah playing poker. And the story with Tim and his poor, poor wife. As far as resonance, I thought the Naomi story in “I Never Want to See Josh Again.” was very emotional.

Here’s what I’ll say: a part of my apathy toward the supporting characters is because of Rebecca’s apathy toward them. I was driven nuts by how many conversations Paula, Valencia, Heather, even Rebecca’s therapy group that Rebecca would not listen to. She’d just steamroll and we’d move onto the next scene. I don’t know how that problem is fixed fully next year and it’s a shame because I love the supporting cast so much. But a baby? A pregnancy? I guess Paula’s still in law school? A job I don’t understand? A girlfriend who was introduced two minutes ago? So?

Jenn: I literally just want all of the Hector/Heather stories, and more of White Josh/Nathaniel scenes. In the back half of the season, those were some of my absolute favorite scenes. They provided levity but also actual depth. I actually have cared less for Paula this year than I did in the past two seasons, which makes me sad. It seems like she really serves no purpose apart from being Rebecca’s partner-in-crime and supposed rock (and again, the dizzying amount of circles the two women went in with conversations about what Rebecca should/should not do was really tiresome). And Darryl has always just kind of been present to me. I could do without the rest of the characters at the firm (especially because the one girl now has a show on Freeform), since they never really added much value, IMO.

Valencia’s character development into a really well-liked, but still flawed now-background protagonist has probably been my favorite development of the series. I like that she’s still got the personality that makes her irritating to other characters, but she still is able to learn and grow and change as a result and that makes her likable. Plus, putting the three women together in a house was one of the show’s best decisions.

I also totally agree with you, Anne, about Naomi’s story in “I Never Want to See Josh Again.” This show doesn’t make me cry often, but that whole episode left me feeling like the wind had been knocked out of me — and part of that was just the complexity of Naomi as a character and mother, and her relationship with Rebecca.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Jenn: I love this show, and I think that it continues to find ways to improve itself. Rachel Bloom deserves awards for the way she’s played this incredibly difficult-to-like, yet ultimately redeemable anti-heroine. And I will always commend Crazy Ex-Girlfriend for being unafraid to tackle the really difficult, really messy, really taboo stuff in a way that no other show on television — in my opinion — can with grace, hilarity, and poignancy.

Anne: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is one of my favorite shows. Rachel Bloom is transcendent. The songs were amazing this season. And although I have much to say about this season on top of what I’ve already said, I agree with this title of this article: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was important this year. It was raw where it mattered and moved fearlessly along. I hope we get our renewal; I will be excited, I think, to say the same next year.

What did you all think of this season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend? Sound off in the comments below!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Timeless 2x01 Review: "The War to End All Wars" (Welcome Back, Time Team!) [Contributor: Jenn]

“The War to End All Wars”
Original Airdate: March 11, 2018

Last year, Timeless was one of my favorite shows. It had everything I could possibly want: traipsing through space and time, an ongoing mystery, morally ambiguous villains, cliffhangers, and slow-burn romances. So when it was announced that the NBC darling was cancelled and then promptly uncancelled a few days later, you can imagine my emotional rollercoaster. Thankfully, Timeless is back — in all of its splendor — for a few episodes, and if “The War to End All Wars” is any indication, we’re in for a fun ride.


Six weeks has passed since the finale. Rufus, Wyatt, Agent Christopher, Jiya, and Connor Mason are alive, but secured in a bunker after Mason Industries was blown up — along with all of the other employees. Wyatt is going stir-crazy in the bunker because he’s desperate to search for Lucy. Our heroine, meanwhile, has chosen to play double agent with her Rittenhouse mother and Emma — the woman who has nothing but shifty eyes for Lucy. With Rittenhouse seemingly in control of time and space and history and all that fun stuff, it’s Lucy’s personal mission to destroy them; and Lucy is willing to sacrifice herself to do so.

At the bunker, the team snaps at each other because nothing will make you more irritated than the inability to figure out how to make the Lifeboat functional again, a lack of proper showers, and the dingy, dark walls of a bunker. Even Rufus is a bit darker. Still, the team does — of course — manage to get the ship off the ground and into the past, where Wyatt and Rufus are fully prepared to rescue Lucy, no matter the cost.

Lucy’s focus is on maintaining her cover as a Rittenhouse fangirl, especially because Emma is so suspect of the woman’s motives. So when the Lucy, her mom Carol, and Emma find the target they need (a man named Nicholas, injured in the war and being aided by his friend and fellow soldier) and Emma essentially gives a Voldemort-esque “kill the spare” directive to Lucy... the woman shoots and kills the innocent soldier. When Emma realizes that Nicholas is more gravely injured than she suspected initially, the three women head out to find Marie Curie to procure her “petites Curies” — a mobile X-ray machine. Unfortunately, when Marie Curie and her daughter accidentally stumble across the Mothership, Emma decides it’s time for a historical rewrite and aims to kill both pioneering women. Lucy stops her, standing in front of the women, but it’s Wyatt who ends up rescuing Lucy in the nick of time by threatening to end Nicholas’ life if Emma doesn’t let Lucy go.

Meanwhile Lucy’s mother makes no real earnest moves to save her daughter (there’s a small attempt in there somewhere), and Lucy realizes she can’t even rely on the redemption of her mother from Rittenhouse’s clutches anymore.

The biggest plot takeaway though is integral to the season — Wyatt and Rufus, while getting into a scuffle with soldiers, discover an iPhone on one of them. As it turns out, Rittenhouse has decided to plant covert agents in time who live their lives in history and wait for Rittenhouse’s instructions. Oh, and Nicholas? Yeah, he’s important to Rittenhouse. More importantly, he’s important to Carol Preston — he’s her grandfather.


Lucy’s storyline is the most heartbreaking for obvious reasons: she’s killed an innocent man, and even though Wyatt tells her that it wasn’t her fault and she was forced to, Lucy tells him that it’s not true. She had a choice; she chose her cover. Lucy also reveals that her plan was never to return to the present-day. She was fully prepared to blow up the Mothership and herself with it. It’s really dark, but it’s obvious that Lucy felt she had no other choice left. And it’s so hard to watch this usually optimistic, hopeful woman hit the point in the story where she believes all her friends to be dead, Rittenhouse to be winning, and her options to be nonexistent.

As if this wasn’t enough to deal with, Carol Preston abandons her daughter in favor of Rittenhouse. When Lucy tries to tell Wyatt, later, that her mother would never have let Emma kill her, Wyatt questions that statement. And then in a moment of profound brokenness and overwhelming grief, Lucy admits she doesn’t even believe her own statement. Wyatt holds her close as she cries and tells her that even though she’s lost everything else, she has not lost him.

Lucy will never lose Wyatt. This man will go through hell or high water or any time period in order to get Lucy — his Lucy — back. When Rufus tells Wyatt that he’s in love with Lucy (in the most hilarious, “DUH!” way), Wyatt hesitates to confirm that. But Rufus is about one schmoopy look away from smacking Wyatt upside the head. The truth is that Wyatt and Lucy have every reason to be guarded around each other: they work in a very dangerous adventure game where their lives are on the line constantly. Wyatt’s already lost one woman he loves; he doesn’t need to bat two for two.

But it’s telling that Wyatt and Lucy are totally vulnerable with each other. They confide in one another. They support one another. And they love one another. That final Wyatt/Lucy scene would be proof enough, but then there’s the fact that without Lucy, Wyatt is a lost and angry puppy dog. He needed her, he couldn’t find her, and he was ready to chew out every person who suggested she was dead when he knew — in his heart of hearts — she still had to be alive. 

Wyatt/Lucy is a focus of Timeless’ second season, with good reason, but I honestly just loved seeing the Time Team back together again. Reunited, they naturally fell into their roles -- Lucy as the heart, Wyatt as the protector, and Rufus as the navigator and voice of reason. (Also the comedic relief because I missed Rufus’ little comments.) We’ve added Agent Christopher, Jiya, and Connor Mason to the bunker which is sure to be fun. 

Timeless has always been a show about the humanity behind history, and I love that it’s continuing to embrace what made it so great. I’m looking forward to a new season of adventures and our favorite characters saving the world. How about you?

Timey-wimey bits:
  • I’m 100000% on board for Wyatt/Lucy this season. I know angst in this show is inevitable, but I want all of the scenes with Wyatt cuddling Lucy please and thank you.
  • Apparently Emma ensured that Lucy’s sister could never return in any timeline. I’m really not sure how that’s even possible, but apparently this chick went to great lengths (at the approval of Carol, by the way) to secure that inevitability.
  • I love Susanna Thompson playing a shady mom. She is so, so great at it. I miss Moira Queen.
  • Guess who’s back again? Flynn! Because of course.
  • “You can’t smell history in books.” “... ‘cause who would want to?”
  • Emma, to Carol regarding Lucy: “You can’t protect her anymore.” Wyatt: “I can.” Can we just take a moment and appreciate how desperately he cares for her?
Who’s ready for more of Timeless this year? Sound off in the comments below with your favorite moments from the premiere!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Flash 4x16 Review: "Run, Iris, Run" (Purple Haze, All In My Speed Force) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]

"Run, Iris, Run"
Original Airdate: March 13, 2018 

Before The Flash goes on hiatus, they’re sending us off with a nice little Iris-centric episode. Or... they’re sending us off with an episode that wants to be Iris-centric but, like almost the entirety of the “Iris is going to die” Savitar plot, the show fails at making it all about Iris. Granted, the problem is a lot less glaring in a single episode than it was throughout a half-season story arc, and they do at least try to give Iris a more active role in her own narrative. But if only it were a continuation of some long-running Iris character thread, rather than a one-off episode that works to brush all the rising questions about Iris’s life (Is she still working as a journalist? Does she still write? How much time does she devote to leading Team Flash now that Barry’s back?) under the rug.

We’re not going to stop asking those questions, you know, The Flash writers. You don’t get to half-answer them once or twice a season and then expect us to ignore the fact that the leading lady of your show barely exists as a legitimate character outside of her role as Barry Allen’s girlfriend-turned-wife. Iris deserves better, Candice Patton deserves better, and the audience deserves better.


The first twenty minutes of the episode focus on a few things: Ralph Dibny whining and being an awful coward, Harry deciding to build himself a thinking cap (against Cisco’s advice), and a bank robbery in which the metahuman robber gets his powers snatched before being able to make a getaway. Summarizing it all like that, I’m a tad surprised that it took up twenty whole minutes. Anyway, Iris’s power transfer comes in when she, having been shamed by Ralph into feeling guilty for leading the group from the safety of S.T.A.R. Labs, goes with her father to follow up with one of the bank robbery witnesses, an EMT named Matthew Kim. Kim freaks out, holds a scalpel to Iris’s throat, and when Barry swoops in for the rescue, he ends up accidentally sending his powers over to Iris.

(Side note: Iris’s self-worth is shaken by Ralph Dibny, of all people? No one should value the opinion of Ralph Dibny, especially not the petty, cowardly, extra insufferable Ralph Dibny we get in “Run, Iris, Run.”)

Iris’s new abilities mean testing, because these nerds sure do like to test their metahuman powers. Iris is thrilled, at least as far as the fun running part goes. Barry and the others are more nervous, since they don’t quite understand how this happens or if it can be reversed.

Credit to the show: At no point do I get the impression that Barry is jealous of Iris or resentful of not being “special” anymore when his powers go to her. He even seems a little amused by her enthusiasm. A lot of his discomfort with the situation comes from the fact that they have threats like DeVoe (Sir Not Appearing in This Episode) and the person who got the swapped fire powers from the bank robbery hanging over them while their team’s speedster is suddenly an untrained Iris West-Allen instead of Barry, the seasoned pro. There’s a scene in which Barry contemplates the idea of never getting his powers back, but it’s more an extended reaction to DeVoe’s control over Barry’s life than jealousy over Iris.

Testing and training gets interrupted by an actual emergency: a fire in a high-rise building with people trapped on the top floors. Barry is cautious about sending Iris in after only having her powers for a little while, but trusts her judgment when she says she wants to go. She switches clothes with Caitlin to be less obvious, borrows a mask left behind by Jesse, and runs off to save the day.

Unfortunately, saving the day is a lot easier said than done. She saves the people trapped, but Iris is overwhelmed by the fire, which she doesn’t have the knack for putting out with speedy arm whirlwinds, and the ceiling collapses on her. Barry tells her to phase through the debris, but he’s a crappy teacher so he can’t explain how to do that, and she has to be rescued by Cisco.

After the events of the fire, Barry tells Iris it would be okay if she took a breather and let Cisco and Caitlin handle the current meta situation, but Iris is using these new powers to work through some stuff. We learn she’d quit her job as a reporter to lead the team full time while Barry was in the Speed Force and her fearless instincts have been dwindling for a year. She’d grown accustomed to the relative safety of her role behind the console, but that safety makes her feel guilty because people she cares about are putting their lives on the line. More than anything, though, she wants to use her new powers to prove to herself that she can still be fearless.

And, okay — that’s all very nice. I appreciate that we get something out of this for Iris. But it’s such a small something, and it’s something that has had zero build-up or foreshadowing all season.

Shoving this arc into a single episode tells me that the writers didn’t really care about advancing Iris’s story. It implies that they just had a bullet point on their list of “cool stuff” and decided to build a filler episode around it. “Iris becomes a speedster” has, to them, as much emotional weight and significance as throwaway gags like “Cisco builds Barry a technologically advanced superhero suit” or “Harry seeks guidance from his alt-Earth selves,” and I doubt the writers sat down and talked about how they could build up Iris’s eagerness to get into the field over the course of a few episodes leading up to this one, or her struggling with her identity as a reporter/writer for weeks before getting this opportunity, or her questioning her validity as leader of Team Flash before stumbling into the role as the Flash. No, I think they sat down and talked about what color her Speed Force lightning was going to be, and that’s it.

Not knocking Iris’s cool purple Speed Force lightning; I just wish that there had been a bit more emphasis on Iris, rather than the iris-colored sparkly effects.

Another fire-related emergency arises, but this time the culprit is still on the scene. He’s a dude in a studded leather-and-denim jacket yelling about getting some money (or, as he pronounces, “MUNNAY!”). Matthew Kim shows up as well, hoping to talk the guy down from using his powers for evil. Mr. MUNNAY! informs Kim that it’s his fault he got powers in the first place, then Iris swoops in to temporarily arrest Kim while she deals with the fire-starting KISS fan.

In the end, Iris douses out Mr. MUNNAY!’s flames with a tidal wave, they recruit Kim onto the team (we’re ignoring that one time he held a scalpel to Iris’s throat, I guess) and he switches the speedster powers back to Barry. The status quo has returned. Also returned: Iris’s writing. She restarts her blog about sightings of the Flash, and tells Barry that, while his destiny and way of helping others is being a good speedster, hers is being a reporter.

Who wants to take bets on when Iris’s writing/reporting skills will be mentioned again this season? I’ve got all my money on “never.”

Other Things:
  • I’m curious about how Matthew Kim managed to learn he could take powers away in the first place. That’s not exactly a flashy ability, so... did he have metahuman friends? Shake hands with a dude covered in lightning?
  • Barry’s flinch away from Iris speeding off (“Wow, that’s super annoying”) made me realize how much poise Iris has whenever Barry does the same thing. She’s a champ.
  • Caitlin has an adorable proud smile every time Iris volunteers for a mission and it’s wonderful.
  • Iris’s blog is so hideous. Sweet merciful heavens, Iris, hire a graphic designer.

iZombie 4x03 Review: “Brainless in Seattle, Part 1” (An Apt Title) [Guest Poster: Chloe]

“Brainless in Seattle, Part 1” 
Original Airdate: March 12, 2018 

“Brainless in Seattle, Part 1” is a decent episode, but it functions exactly like its title indicates. It is part one of a much more narratively complex story but without part two, the episode falls a little flat. It also makes it more challenging to discuss, because it introduces so many new plot points that have no emotional or narrative pay-off yet. So instead of trying to speculate what is going to happen in part two, I am going to treat this episode like a standalone for now. I will acknowledge that this episode continues to develop some pretty ambitious ideas for the season, but without knowing how any individual narrative thread is going to come together, I am going to try to stick to commenting on what I do know.

While the plot point about the zombie cult/church played a vital role in last week’s episode, “Brainless in Seattle, Part 1” puts that storyline on hold for the week in order to explore yet another sinister threat to the safety of the citizens of Seattle. We discover that anyone who tries to come into/leave Seattle is either scratched (thus making them a zombie) or murdered. This new development is introduced to us in two important ways — and Blaine and Fillmore Graves seem to be at the center of most of the conflict.

The first important plot thread of the episode is that Seattle has a severe shortage of brains. In order to maintain the city the way it is, something has to change. If Fillmore Graves doesn’t find a new way to acquire a steady supply of brains, Seattle will soon run out and the aftermath will be catastrophic. The additional problem related to this is that new people entering the city are being scratched, even though that isn’t supposed to happen. The alleged culprit is Renegade — the human smuggler we met at the end of last week’s episode. It is not yet clear why she is scratching people (especially since she seems so compassionate and thoughtful), but the important thing is that Chase Graves wants her eliminated.

It is not yet clear what Chase Grave’s long-term goals for New Seattle are; he is keeping his plans to himself, since even Major is not privy to the deeper machinations underway by Chase and Fillmore Graves. It is evident that Chase does not trust Major with the more “classified” plans, and in many ways I think that is why he wanted Major to work with and recruit new zombie teens to join the Fillmore Graves army. If Major is occupied with trying to train impulsive and aggressive teen zombies, he won’t have time to focus on anything else. It is a calculated move on the writers’ part, because it leaves the audience as much in the dark about what is really going on in Seattle as our characters.

However, the episode does give us a bit of insight into at least one facet of what is clearly a much larger problem. By the end of the episode, we discover that there is a serial killer living in Seattle. He masquerades as a coyote, takes copious amounts of money from people that are trying to cross into Seattle, gives them a false sense of security, and then murders them. The case of the week centers on one of his victims — a young woman who tries to enter New Seattle in search of love. The reason the case is ultimately so important is because it speaks to a much greater issue plaguing Seattle.

I discussed it in my post last week, but it is worth repeating that having a wall surrounding New Seattle is oppressive and dangerous. By limiting who can come in and out of the city, Fillmore Graves has essentially turned Seattle into a prison. As a result, people will go to extreme lengths just to try to escape or bring loved ones in. So to find out that anyone who “defects” ends up dead, while Fillmore Graves turns a blind eye, speaks to a much bigger problem. I don’t yet know what the possible solution to this problem is going to be, but it does set a very dark tone for the rest of the season. Dealing with a possible serial killer is not something that iZombie has tried to grapple with before, so it will be interesting to see how it unfolds in part two. It is an ambitious move for a show that doesn’t function like a standard procedural and yet, it could still end up working well.

This episode also gives us a lot of good Blaine material. In any other context it would seem like a paradox, but Blaine truly is at his best when he is unapologetically evil. In this episode, Chase tasks Blaine with finding and killing Renegade — and in return, he is allowed to do whatever he wants. In the process of trying to track her down, we see Blaine at his most brutal. He kills and eats the brains of someone in order to uncover information, and in the process he reveals that he is indeed the one who stole Ravi’s zombie cure vials last season. I always assumed that Don E. stole them for Blaine, so it was nice to get that confirmation. The question now is what does Blaine plan on doing with the remaining sixteen vials? If he kills Renegade and Chase gives him the power to do whatever he wants, we might actually get to see what Blaine is capable of doing at his absolute worst. After his non-existent storyline last season, I would certainly welcome the full-fledged return of “evil” Blaine.
The episode also asks the audience to question what Blaine’s connection to the serial killer might be.

We know that Blaine’s business thrives off his ability to provide quality brains to the zombies of Seattle, and that they are obtained on the black market. But we also know that there is a brain shortage in Seattle for everyone and that the official Fillmore Graves shipments are producing fewer brains with ever visit into the city. So since we now know that people who are brought into city are being murdered and their brains are then sold for profit, is Blaine involved in ordering the hits on these people? Or is Chase the one responsible for ordering the hits? They both stand to benefit from the serial killer's handiwork, but it is still unclear what the true motivation is for either one. Is it about creating a culture of fear so that order is maintained, or is it about profiting from the deaths of innocent people? Regardless of what the connection is (and there is still a possibility that there isn’t one), I hope that part two addresses this next week.

Since there are more elaborate narrative elements to focus on in this episode, everything else is forced to take a backseat. Even though the case of the week is directly related to everything else that happens, it certainly does not feel like it at times. Liv eats the brain of a flighty, romantic-comedy obsessed hopeless romantic. When removed from the rest of the narrative, it is a really interesting brain for Liv to be on. In recent episodes we have seen Liv extremely unpleasant, and while she still has a moment where she makes a snide but a well-earned comment, having her on this brain is primarily an opportunity to see her be happy and fun for a change. Seeing her act like a love-struck teenager provides the necessary comic relief in an episode that would otherwise feel a little too dark. Her behavior is over-the-top, but that ends up working well. Plus, it provides us with the opportunity to see Liv quote famous rom-coms, and reference Bridget Jones. (Something that my rom-com enthusiast brain lives for!)

Beyond providing the audience with some wonderful and silly moments, being on this brain does not give Liv as much to do narratively and that is part of what makes the episode feel a little weak. In a lot of ways, this episode doesn’t give any of our characters a whole lot to do. However, despite not having as much interaction as we normally get, the few scenes we do get with Liv and Clive are incredible. In a moment of rare introspection, Liv has to decide if she should go against the instincts of “lovesick brain” and tell Clive that Dale is cheating on him. It is a disheartening discovery, but I also cannot say I am surprised that Dale is cheating on Clive. She is a hard character to like, and I really do think that Clive could do a lot better. So unless we get an alternative explanation for her actions in the next episode (like maybe Clive and Dale have opened up their relationship in order to still meet their individual needs), they really should break up.

Even though Liv decides not to tell Clive for now, I really appreciated her snide comments toward Dale. She essentially calls Dale a “dead-weight” who only exists to bring her partner down. While it is blatantly inconsiderate behavior — as is her thinly-veiled attempt to set Clive up with his new co-worker — in this instance I am going to give Liv a pass on her behavior. Despite being on an optimistic brain, she chooses to go against the personality of the brain in order to say how she really feels. This also proves that she is capable of making independent choices, which is something she previously denied was possible. She cares about Clive immensely and doesn’t want to see him get hurt. So while we don’t yet know how this particular plot point is going to resolve, it is important for the audience to know that despite everything, Liv is still going to be there to support her partner.

“Brainless in Seattle, Part 1” ultimately ends up feeling a bit disjointed. It introduces yet another complex element to the overall narrative at the expense of some of its other storylines. As I mentioned previously, this episode primarily serves to establish important things to come. But until they actually happen, it just feels like the show is using this episode as a placeholder. I appreciate all of the ambitious moves that the creators of the show have taken recently, but it still feels like the ideas are only partially realized. The more new elements the writers introduce to the story, the more confusing every facet of the show becomes.

While I understand how limiting it can be to fit every element you want into a thirteen episode season, sometimes a show can collapse under the weight of trying to do too much, and I worry that iZombie is heading in that direction. I still have faith in the writers of the show, but until I start to see resolution or emotional payoff for some of these ambitious plot threads, I am going to remain a little frustrated. Hopefully “Brainless in Seattle, Part 2” will start to provide some of the resolution I am looking for. Tune in next week for my coverage of that episode!

The Bachelor 22x10-22x12 Roundtable: Our Journey Comes to an End [Contributors: Alisa, Rebecca, Jen K., and Chelsea]

From Fantasy Suites to the five-hour finale, Bachelor Nation has cycled through every emotion under the sun. Finally this heap of garbage has come to an end (... for now) and we can eagerly await The Bachelorette this summer. Joining us for the finale — and returning to Bachelor Nation — is our contributor Jen K., who has a lot of thoughts about the final episode, and Minnesota gals.

Kendall was let go after Fantasy Suites and didn’t shed a single tear being dumped... but sobbed through Becca and Arie’s break-up when she returned for the two-part finale along with Caroline, Bekah, Tia, and Seinne. Seeing how she was the most rational and mature contestant this franchise has ever seen, how would you feel about seeing our little taxidermist in Paradise. And which of those aforementioned ladies do you want to see join her? 

Alisa: I’d love to see both Kendall and her twin sister Kylie in Paradise. They’ve brought other non-contestants to Paradise before (specifically, Ashley I.’s sister), so they can do it again! Both those ladies were super mature, rational, and intelligent, and let’s be honest: anyone deserves a beach vacation after dealing with Arie in their house, eating their food, and being fake to their family.

I’d also love to see Bekah and Caroline in Paradise. They would bring some hilarity and call everything like it is. I had really wanted Seinne to be the next Bachelorette before Arie did Becca so wrong, and so I’d definitely settle for seeing more of Seinne in Paradise. Maybe Peter could show up and they’d have a happily ever after?

Rebecca: Kendall and Kylie would be the ultimate Paradise power duo! They can be our new twins, since Emily and Haley ended up being a little crazy. I’d love to see them lounging on the beach with margs and oversized hats, drinking the day away and being swept off on some fun, exotic dates with men who are 1000000x the man Arie was. To be fair, every single woman on this season of The Bachelor deserves to be in Paradise — it’s the least the producers could do for making them sit through that god-awful season. I believe Chris confirmed Bekah will be there, and I have a feeling Caroline, Seinne, and the rest of Becca’s girl gang will make an appearance.

Jen K.: ... What’s Bachelor in Paradise? (Bear in mind, I’ve only gone here a week.) I’m here for Kendall in any way. The taxidermy freaked me out for a second, but everyone has a hobby! To each their own. I loved her attitude any time Arie brought up marriage (Dude, I’ve known you five weeks.) That is refreshingly rational, so I’d love to see more of her.

I’d love to see more of Caroline and Bekah. Caroline was so protective of all the girls, especially Becca. Her “I know what you did” was so savage, so I hope we see more of her kind and compassionate heart. And I don’t get what all the hoopla was over Bekah’s age. She was the most articulate woman of the bunch.

Chelsea: Kendall surprised me this season by being the most sane and rational human being ever on this show, which is sad because she said she’d try human flesh. I would be down for her and her twin Kylie popping up and owning Paradise. She was my favorite for Bachelorette and would keep all the other contestants sane on the beach.

There are so many great girls who could show up in Paradise and I think the gang from the finale will all be there on day one. Of course I always want Caroline to show up and I would love to know more about her. She brought so much fire to the show when she got screentime. Seinne is also somebody I want to see more of, but I know she’s too good and smart for Paradise. Chris Harrison seemed to be hinting at her finding love, so if she does go to Paradise, I could see that.

Many of us were spoiled about Arie changing his mind and going after the runner-up. What we didn’t know was that Arie blindsided Becca with the camera crew to break up with her after proposing a month earlier. Do you think we should have seen this break-up? Do you question his timeline of getting back together with Lauren? Will they make it last like Jason and Molly? 

Alisa: So like many people, I knew going in that Arie ended up dumping Becca for Lauren. But yeah, I definitely did not know it wasn’t an instant thing and that he led Becca on for weeks of engagement before doing the deed. I definitely did NOT need to see all of that filmed and I felt like it was in poor taste. I actually don’t blame the show or ABC — I don’t expect better of them. I put the blame totally on Arie. He had a choice and could have broken up with her privately in a normal, human way but he made the choice to bring a camera crew and go along with the lie that they were meeting up for a romantic couples weekend. That’s just wrong and I went from thinking Arie was just a dumb baby to truly believing he’s a narcissist/sociopath.

And his callous disregard for Becca’s feelings and inability to express empathy both during the break-up and in the post-break-up interviews was truly astounding. He seemed to only care that he’d gotten his happily ever after and had complete disregard for the pain he’d caused Becca. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he and Lauren do make it last, simply because they are going to feel like it’s them against the world and that kind of mentality can hold even the most toxic relationship together. I hope Lauren is eventually able to see Arie for what he is and drop him like he did Becca to go live her best life.

Rebecca: I agree wholeheartedly with Alisa. We know both the show and ABC exploit emotions for views and ratings, so the fact the break-up was aired isn’t a surprise. But what is a surprise is that someone could be so selfish and heartless to fake being in love with someone for weeks before finally getting the guts to break it off. And it’s cowardly that Arie chose to do it on camera. He is so self-centered and has absolutely no empathy. Arie really is not a very nice person, and I am so happy that Becca will have a second chance at happiness as the new Bachelorette.

Jen K.: I walked myself backward into this firestorm, so I knew exactly what Arie did. It was still awful. I’m with you Alisa — he’s a narcissist with sociopathic tendencies. It was lies. ALL LIES. I do not understand why he had to film the break-up with Becca, but the phone call with Lauren was private. He knew, going in, that Lauren would take him back. He also knew we would find out when the episode aired. So, I don’t get the: “I have to see if there’s still a chance with Lauren” nonsense when he was breaking up with Becca. Arie is the kind of man who says what he thinks you want to hear so he can get whatever he wants out of you. Or, as the home visits showed, wiggle out of uncomfortable questions that are trying to nail down his slimy self.

I am not remotely surprised ABC aired it. Every other television station would because that’s what television stations do. I’m not really expecting strong moral compasses from producers. However, I am flabbergasted why Arie believed it was appropriate to film it. His whole, “I wanted everyone to see I was the bad guy” schtick rang just as false as his assertion he didn’t know if Lauren would take him back. I truly believe he thought filming it would cast HIM in a better light. The entire break-up, particularly not leaving, was Arie trying to look like a good guy. His miscalculation was that it showed him for the narcissist he is, while Becca was strong and poised.

Honestly, I want to give Lauren running shoes and a one-way ticket back home for a wedding gift. I think Lauren desperately wants to be picked. She wants to be wanted like we all do, which is why she took Arie back. It also seems like she hasn’t seen anything in regards to the Becca break-up. She is pretty isolated and only getting Arie’s side of the story. While he may not know how to race a car all that well, he can certainly tell a good lie. It’s going to go one of two ways: they break up reasonably soon or she stays with the guy, pops out a couple of kids, and ten years later realizes she’s married to a sociopath. It’s a toss-up. But in no way is this her happily ever after because you can’t get happily ever after with clinical narcissists. I am unconvinced Arie is faithful to Lauren now or will remain that way. Arie really wants to be married and have babies because he thinks that’s what he’s supposed to want. He wants to cover his narcissism by looking like a family man. The problem with all that is it really cuts into his sleeping around. Run, Lauren. Run.

Chelsea: Like the other girls, I was spoiled a few weeks before Fantasy Suites, I think, but I wasn’t sure the extent of the switcheroo or how it all went down. Of course ABC would air the footage if they had to. It’s a huge ratings grab for a season that has seen ratings lows and they ultimately are a business that has to make money. Arie is garbage for calling the producers about the break-up and calling Lauren before the break-up to make sure she would take him back. If Lauren hadn’t given him that assurance that she’d return to him, I don’t think he would have broken up with Becca.

I think all of us at home watching it felt every break-up we’ve ever had flash before our eyes. It was all very unfair to Becca who was ambushed and had no other choice but to stay graceful and composed since she was on camera. She kept looking for a private moment to grieve and he kept pushing the matter because everything has to be about him. I’m not sure if Lauren and Arie will make it, and I’ve been saying for weeks that he’s going to break her heart.

Becca is officially our new Bachelorette, and it gave us the cutest moment of Caroline, Bekah, Seinne, Tia, and Kendall storming the couch to celebrate with her. How do you feel about her in the role after being dumped two months prior to the finale? Who is your dream Bachelorette? 

Alisa: So my dream Bachelorette had originally been Seinne because she’s super smart and way too good for this franchise. But after what happened, I don’t think anyone’s more deserving than Becca. And I think it’s fantastic that she has such a supportive squad rallying around her who will — hopefully! — be making appearances and cheering her on throughout her season. Those ladies seemed so genuinely excited for her even though it was obvious some of them were gunning for the title (looking at you, Tia). You don’t often see such a huge group of contestants become BFFs and it was a pleasant surprise this season. I think competing for such a basic Bachelor really allowed the girls to bond in a way that hasn’t happened before, and I’d really love to see a Girls Night Out-esque spin-off show with just a bunch of the coolest ladies hanging out and living life.

Rebecca: Becca was not my favorite contestant but she’s objectively very beautiful, down to earth, intelligent, and successful. She definitely deserves this second chance at love. I agree with Alisa that we got such better female friendships this season (probably because they were competing for a cold ham sandwich). She has tough shoes to fill coming directly after Rachel, but I’m confident she’ll be a great Bachelorette.

Jen K.: I watched to see what happens to Becca. Becca is the entire reason I binged from hometown to the finales and suffered that insufferable douchebag Arie. I truly don’t know how y’all did it week to week. I think how much the other women cared for Becca is a strong reflection of her character. She seems deeply kind, genuinely compassionate, and pretty darn forgiving. I am very much hoping she finds happiness on this crazy whirlwind called The Bachelorette.

Chelsea: I feel good about Becca being the Bachelorette. She fits my minimum requirements of being a real employed adult with health insurance. She didn’t get a lot of screentime because of Krystal, Bekah, and other people creating more watchable drama, but when she was on screen she was very intelligent and funny. My dream Bachelorette was Kendall because she’s an adorable little weirdo that feels just right for this silly show. Seinne is way too smart for this franchise and needs to go run the world. And I really want Rebecca’s spin-off of all the cool ladies of this show hanging out and living life.

We were introduced to five of Becca’s guys from the season before After the Final Rose ended. Who was your favorite? Who needs to be recast immediately? 

Alisa: LINCOLN. Oh my goodness, he was so adorably nervous and seemed the most genuine of all the guys they introduced. Plus, super hot and that accent! If Becca doesn’t choose him in the end, I think he needs to absolutely be the next Bachelor. The rest of the guys just kind of blurred together after that. I remember there was one that was too tan with teeth way too white who was kinda smarmy and named Chase or Chad or Chance or something, and I did not like him. He can be sent home immediately. The guy who brought the horse in seemed sweet but I’m always wary of the contestants with props. Sure, it makes you memorable but the best people are memorable all on their own. Like Lincoln.

Rebecca: Lincoln is a literal puppy dog and I adore him. He was so nervous, it was absolutely adorable! He seems super genuine, and his looks and accent certainly don’t hurt! Honestly, I don’t remember any of the other guys except that one of them brought a horse, which I thought was corny and adorable. If Becca doesn’t choose Lincoln, I think Just About Write needs to be credited with starting the #LincolnforBachelor campaign.

Jen K.: Becca needs to marry Lincoln. I don’t think we really need the whole Bachelorette show. I’m ready for the wedding.

Chelsea: I literally only remember Lincoln and he either needs to marry Becca or become the next Bachelor. My dream is actually for Peter to pull a Nick and show up half-way through the season to win Becca’s heart — except he actually gets engaged to her and Lincoln becomes the Bachelor. I should just produce this show.

Any last thoughts about the season? 

Alisa: I’m so glad it’s over! This was not a pleasant journey and it is a testament to my undying love for Chris Harrison that I stuck it out the whole way through. Please, let’s never see Arie’s face on this franchise again.

Rebecca: Arie is garbage; Chris Harrison, Just About Write, and the Bachelor ladies were the only reason why I got through this season in one piece. I think we should take a note from Minnesota’s book and ban Arie from the country.

Jen K.: The last time I watched The Bachelor was in season two. That’s right. I suffered through Alex Michel and Aaron Buerge. Yes, I am that old. Honestly, The Bachelor seemed reasonable with their six-week time frame compared to the hot mess that was Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire? Quite frankly, Arie fits right in with those bozos, which is why I stopped watching. Give a man a harem of 25 women and they think they're God’s gift to women. I remain quite skeptical that any of these bachelors truly want to get married. (I probably need to binge a season where one actually does and I’ll be less bitter).

The last time I watched The Bachelorette was season one with Trista Sutter. I did it all. The Bachelor to The Bachelorette to Trista and Ryan’s wedding. It was great. I went out on a high note. But now I’m emotionally involved and have to see what happens to Becca, so I’m diving back in. Hopefully it goes as well for Becca as it did for Trista.

Chelsea: They need to not air The Bachelor Winter Games during a season of The Bachelor next year. It adds like 12 lifetimes to the season and we didn’t even have time to get invested in the Winter Games.

Casting really crushed it this year with their selection of ladies. Producers, cast better than Arie for next year. We’ve suffered through three seasons of Bachelors with personalities that are worse than watching paint dry. Let us live!

And the Fantasy League final scores: 

  1. Chelsea: 860 points
  2. Rebecca: 690 points
  3. Alisa: 510 points 

Alex, Inc. is the Optimistic Comedy I Really Hope Succeeds [Contributor: Jenn]

(Image credit: ABC)

A few years ago now — more than I’d like to believe because that means time is moving faster — ABC ran comedies like Trophy Wife, Selfie, and Happy Endings. While the last one was filled with slapstick shenanigans and meta humor, the first two were focused on families and learning to become better people for those around us, respectively. ABC’s current comedy block has family-centric shows that have been highly-praised (notably blackish and Fresh Off the Boat), and now the network is adding one more family-themed series to the mix: Alex, Inc.

I’m going to be totally honest: I started watching this show because I love Zach Braff. An avid Scrubs fan, I used to watch reruns of the series in my college dorm most weeknights before bed. And as a 29-year old, I spend my time on Thursday mornings re-watching the series as I work remotely. Braff’s got a specific brand of comedy in nearly everything that he does — zany, punctuated delivery and that fun oscillation in his voice that sends you straight back to Sacred Heart.

ABC released the first three episodes of Alex, Inc. for review and I can honestly say that this is the comedy I hope succeeds in 2018. It’s sweet and endearing, realistic in its portrayal of marriage and conflict, and just fun. Optimism needs to continue to live on this year; too much of 2017 was filled with bleakness. And this new comedy deserves the chance to shine. This is not the kind of series that will necessarily provide the witty social commentary that some comedies do, but I also don’t need it to be that show. What I needed Alex, Inc. to be was a series that reminded me there is still good and joy and fun in the world — without always having to provide a bottom line.

While I’m not going to break down my review into three separate articles, I’ll do my best to convince you of why you should watch the series by dissecting some of Alex, Inc.’s best elements.


I’m a sucker for a show centered on a solid family structure. And Alex, Inc. brings that to the forefront of the pilot. We begin their story because Alex (Zach Braff) decides to quit his job and start his own podcast company. His wife, Rooni (played by The Good Place’s Tiya Sircar) is supportive of her husband, but their relationship isn’t without stress and pressure from his sudden decision. The thing we learn to be most true about Alex though, besides that he is a dreamer, is that he loves his family. He loves his children. He inspires them, and they — in turn — motivate him. He tells them fantastical stories, and they give him inspirational speeches.

Too often, I feel, television only portrays one side of family life. The children are supposed to learn lessons from their parents and apologize when they do wrong. That’s all well and good, and is definitely an aspect of being a part of a family. However, the fact that Alex, Inc. allows its youngest cast members the chance to play smart, empathetic, encouraging children who end up motivating our protagonist more than nearly anyone else is impressive. The kids aren’t just plot devices in this show — they ARE the show. By the end of the pilot, Ben (played by Elisha Henig) impresses his father with his bravery and boldness. In the show’s second episode, Soraya (played by Audyssie James) has a storyline with her dad that focuses on the promise and importance of being present. And in the third episode, the kids get the chance to explore what it means to embrace their cultural and ethnic heritage and learn about Holi from their grandmother.

Equally important is Alex Inc.’s portrayal of Alex and Rooni’s marriage. It’s easy to romanticize a character like Alex as the protagonist of the series — he’s passionate and idealistic and a dreamer. Those are the reasons Rooni fell in love with him. But as she says throughout the first few episodes, she also is a realist. The couple fights because they get on each other’s nerves and because they make decisions without consulting the other. Rooni tells Alex that she’s upset with him because he’s supposed to be her best friend and he lied to her.

That’s something wonderful about the series already: Television shows are great at portraying the loving relationship between a husband and wife. We all swoon when we get to witness loving scenes and cutesy lines of dialogue. But what about the friendship between a husband and wife? Alex, Inc. makes it a point to not paint either character as completely wrong or completely right — just like real life. Alex messes up and lies, but so does Rooni. Alex has good intentions for the way he handles things and Rooni has valid reasons for making the decisions she does. The first three episodes emphasize the importance of friendship and communication in their marriage, and it’s pretty dang endearing.

(Photo credit: ABC)


We want to see Alex succeed.

When Alex begins his podcast company, he brings aboard a team consisting of his cousin Eddie (played by Michael Imperioli) and Deidre (Hillary Anne Matthews), his former producer to get his company off the ground. Because Alex is so earnest and likable, we want him to do well. It’s interesting because we could easily believe Alex to be an incredibly selfish human being — I mean, he does decide to quit his job without consulting his wife and puts his family into a little bit of a tailspin because of it. Rooni mentions this to him on a few occasions too, and his kids try to adjust to life without a very present dad.

But because the character is played by Zach Braff, a charming and likable actor who’s able to bring whimsy and magic and an ethereal optimism to his roles, we like Alex. I genuinely like him because he’s self-aware enough to recognize that he’s flawed. Though some of his actions are problematic, he feels all-the-more realistic in admitting those flaws and seeking to remedy the damage as best he can. Alex is not an inherently bad character; he is a good guy who is earnest and makes mistakes. But his heart is always in the right place and the one thing we know to be true about him above all else is that while he wants to follow his dreams, he will do anything for his family. Their love is all that matters.

(Also if you were really into Scrubs and miss Zach Braff doing voiceovers on television shows, this is the series to fill that void for you. Just saying.)

Alex, Inc. is a show about following your heart and dreams — about recognizing that there is magic and imagination and an entire world beyond what we believe is possible. And that sometimes your dreams are worth chasing, even if you don’t know where you’ll end up.


I like my comedies to have a dose of realism to them. Though I’m a fan of the slapstick and the absurd, what I love is when shows can find the funny in the ordinary. And Alex, Inc. is one of those shows. It feels familiar because it is familiar — we all fight with our families, have a person whose habits irritate us, and struggle to come up with ideas when we desperately need them. There’s an entire plotline in the third episode where Alex struggles to name his company, and I relate so much to that because as a writer, I struggle to name things on a daily basis. In the same episode, Ben tries to get noticed by the kids in his class (and, of course, a girl) for his Indian heritage... which backfires spectacularly, and leads to a great conversation with Ben and his grandmother.

The humor and heart of the show are so intricately intertwined because they’re so familiar to us. Alex, Inc. is — at its core — a show about what it means to be human and to want the most out of your life.

And because of that, the humor feels just as real as every other part of it.

I hope that Alex, Inc. gets the chance to test its legs and succeed on ABC. Because of the way the show is constructed, I believe it has a shot of falling right into the network’s sweet spot of heartwarming family comedies. If you watch Alex, Inc., I sincerely hope that you find it to be as endearing, sweet, and fun as I did.

Alex, Inc. debuts on ABC on March 28 at 8:30 p.m.