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, December 8, 2019

Everything We Know About the Arrowverse Crisis of Infinite Earths Crossover [Contributor: Araceli Aviles]


The excitement for the Arrowverse’s massive, movie-style crossover might be the most highly anticipated event in network television in recent years. That being said, if you’re as dedicated and detail-oriented a fan as I am, you’re probably massively overwhelmed, and confused, as to how all of this is going to play out. For every new nugget of information we’ve received, there are equal scores of questions fans need answered. Therefore, I have compiled a list of confirmed guest stars as well as the biggest questions fans want to know about how Crisis, and Arrow’s subsequent end, will affect this universe of heroes.

ALL THE PLAYERS


Count on the regular players on Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman, to suit up, not all of whom will be donning their usual garb. It has been confirmed that Brandon Routh will be retaking his original superhero mantle as Superman for this crisis, which he originated in 2006’s Superman Returns. Only this time he will be known as Kingdom Come Superman.

Additionally, Arrow’s Audrey Marie Anderson will trade her power suit for her first supersuit, taking on the role of Harbinger. Not that we ever thought Lyla Michaels needed a costume to be amazing, but it’s still a treat!

Also reporting for Crisis duty:

  • Tyler Hoechlin as Clark Kent/Superman
  • Elizabeth Tulloch as Lois Lane
  • Tom Welling as Clark Kent/Superman
  • Erica Durance as Lois Lane
  • LaMonica Garrett as the Monitor/Anti-Monitor
  • Jon Cryer as Lex Luthor
  • Cress Williams as Black Lightning
  • Tom Cavanagh as Pariah, a scientist with a direct connection to the Anti-Monitor.
  • Osric Chau as Ryan Choi, a new version of the The Atom
  • Kevin Conroy as Future Bruce Wayne/Rumored Kingdom Come Batman
  • Burt Ward in a yet undisclosed role/cameo

THE BIGGEST HANGING SWORDS


Both Arrow and The Flash have done an excellent job of setting up Crisis of Infinite Earths. This is particularly important because, more than anyone, both Oliver Queen and Barry Allen are under the impression that neither one of them will survive. But... do any of us really believe that? In addition to that hanging sword, here are a few other lingering questions that deserve answers by the end of Crisis:
  1. Can the effects of Crisis, such as the destruction of Earth-2 (and, as revealed in recent sneak peeks, Kryptonian refuge Argo) be reversed?
  2. How are Arrow’s 2040 characters involved in protecting their parents’ past, and how will the present-day ensemble react to their involvement?
  3. Can Nora Allen still be born/revived?
  4. Will the remaining Earths be merged, thus combining universes allowing for more cohesive crossovers post-Arrow?
  5. Will Black Lighting come on board for future crossovers upon Arrow’s end?
  6. Why was Supergirl, specifically, given no prior warning as to the crisis, given how the destruction of Argo kicks off her own personal devastation?
  7. How does the Monitor expect Lex Luthor to be the “hero” of this story?
  8. Was it always going to be Oliver’s choice to be the sacrificial lamb, or is there a larger cosmic destiny behind his impending death? Was this always his fate?
The most crucial detail to remember for the Crisis of Infinite Earths crossover? When it’s airing! Mark your calendars now. Crisis premieres in each Arrowverse starting tonight, and in the weeks to come as follows:

  • Sunday, December 8: Supergirl
  • Monday, December 9: Batwoman
  • Tuesday, December 10: The Flash
  • Tuesday, January 14: Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow
One piece of good news that we know for sure will come out of this crossover is that, by the end, we will have answers to almost every question we have, at least regarding Arrow. The end is nigh, my friends. And if we want some hope of light at the end of this tunnel, let us look to Marc Guggenheim’s final script pages for Arrow’s series finale: “Of possibility...”

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Jenn’s Pick: 10 Things to Watch on Disney+ This Month [Contributor: Jenn]


When Disney+ launched, millennials everywhere lost entire days of productivity as we dove headfirst into the Disney vault and relived our childhoods by watching every Disney Channel Original Movie (or DCOM, as we know it) we could get our hands on. We reveled in the new content, too. And if you’re anything like me, you probably began stacking your queue with as much nostalgia and newness as you could find.

Since December kicks off holiday season, you’re probably already in the midst of prepping for vacations and family gatherings. If you’re in need of some fun content to watch on your days off, I’ve got you covered. This is a personal list of favorites — a mix of 90s and current programming — and contains some stuff you can watch any time of the year, as well as some holiday-specific programming I think you might enjoy.

Sit back, relax, and let’s talk about ten things you should watch this month on Disney+.

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10. I’ll Be Home for Christmas (1998)


Remember when Jonathan Taylor Thomas was the “it” guy of primetime TV? He charmed as a teenage heartthrob and the sarcastic son on Home Improvement. But he also starred in an incredibly cheesy, fun Disney classic: I’ll Be Home for Christmas. The plot is as follows: Jake (Thomas) is a college student in California who has a strained relationship with his dad. He hasn’t been home to New York for Christmas since his mother died and his dad got remarried. But this Christmas, Jake’s dad promises that if he’s home by 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve, he’ll get a vintage Porsche.

Jake weighs his options and decides to go to New York, with his girlfriend Allie (Jessica Biel) set to accompany him. After Jake gets accosted by his college nemesis and left in the desert with nothing on him but a Santa suit, Jake has to find his way home for Christmas. Shenanigans obviously ensue!

I’ll Be Home for Christmas is cheesy in the way that 90s movies were always meant to be cheesy. They’re often unrealistic and silly, but still heartwarming. This one works because Jonathan Taylor Thomas always had a knack for making absurd comedies and situations work, so if you’re looking for a 90s Christmas movie, this one fits the bill!

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9. Tru Confessions (2002)


I talk about this DCOM as often as I can because it’s one that incredibly moved me as a kid. But not many people have heard of it or watched it and that’s a shame. The plot: Trudy “Tru” Walker (Clara Bryant) is a teenager who aspires to be a filmmaker. She has a twin brother with autism named Eddie (Shia LaBeouf) whom she has a complicated relationship with. He often acts like a child and while Tru feels protective of Eddie, she’s also frustrated by how he’s treated by others and how he’s favored by her mother over her. Tru decides to create a documentary about her life, which obviously includes seeing the world from Eddie’s perspective. The movie is a look at the complex and emotional family dynamics that take place when a child is atypical.

Although, ideally, in 2019 this movie would be cast differently by using an actor who actually is autistic, as a child I was impressed with Shia LaBeouf’s portrayal of Eddie. Bear in mind that around this time he was still playing the slacker/goofball Louis Stevens on Even Stevens. So to see him switch into a serious role was an adjustment, albeit a good one. One of the most powerful scenes in this movie to me, to date, is when Eddie gets lost in a library. It broke me as a kid to watch that scene, and it’s still emotional as an adult.

If you’re looking for a DCOM that’s a little less widely known or talked about, check Tru Confessions out. A lot of DCOMs were fun, silly, hijinks-filled, but this one is deeply thought-provoking and emotional. And sometimes you just need that kind of movie.

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8. Zootopia (2016)


Zootopia is such an underrated Disney movie, in my opinion. Like Inside Out (which I highly recommend as well), it managed to tackle some pretty big topics with ease, humor, and understanding. Zootopia’s main focus is on discussions of bias and prejudice but it does so in such a brilliant way. Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) is the first bunny on the police force. She wants to make a difference in the world, is bright and idealistic, and also exuberant. Then Judy meets a fox named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman). Although these two live in a world where animals talk, have jobs, etc., prejudices still run deep. Judy was always taught to fear predators (since she’s prey), and was given fox spray by her parents before leaving home.

When something begins to happen to the animals in Zootopia that turns them “savage” (they begin acting like animals in our world would), Judy and Nick decide to investigate and eventually learn about each other and the world around them. What makes this film so brilliant is its ability to portray bias and prejudice to children in an accessible format. It’s got brilliant jokes and references, meta humor, an incredible voice cast (featuring Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, J.K. Simmons, and more), and emotional beats that are really earned.

Zootopia is a delightful buddy-cop-style animated comedy and definitely is a must watch.

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7. Noelle (2019)


This Disney+ original debuted with the platform’s launch and while I was initially skeptical about just how cheesy it would be, I have to say that I was incredibly surprised with how sweet and delightful it was. Of course, Anna Kendrick utterly sells any and everything that she stars in, which certainly helped anchor the film. Noelle is the story of Noelle Kringle (Kendrick), who grew up as the daughter of Santa Claus himself, Kris Kringle. Noelle’s role in the family was never going to be to take up the mantle of Santa though — that role was designated to her brother, Nick (Bill Hader). Noelle decides to help Nick prepare to become Santa Claus but unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be getting the hang of things. But when Noelle tells him to clear his head, she doesn’t anticipate what follows: Nick disappears. It’s up to her to find him and bring him back to the North Pole so he can fulfill his duty before Christmas!

What makes Noelle such a sweet and fun comedy is two-fold: there’s an earnest, emotional core in Anna Kendrick. She sells both the fish-out-of-water comedy tropes when Noelle visits the United States and the emotional heart of Noelle longing to do something important with her life. The supporting cast is great though, too, which really helps bolster the comedy. I adore Bill Hader, and Billy Eichner and Shirley MacLaine shine as well.

The end result is a movie that’s earnest. It’s a little predictable, but not cringeworthy. It’s cute, fun, and contains the perfect amount of heart. Add Noelle to your watchlist this holiday season!

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6. Dan in Real Life (2007)


While Steve Carell was playing Michael Scott on The Office (a role he made memorable and entirely his own) he also played a widower and romantic lead in the rom-com, Dan in Real Life. Not many people talk about this movie but it’s one of my favorites because of the way it weaves an overarching family story with a romantic one.

Dan (Carell) is a widower, father of three daughters, and an advice column writer. He and his daughters take a trip to Rhode Island for a family gathering. While at a bookstore there, Dan meets and seems to have a connection with a woman (Juliette Binoche), only to discover later on that she’s his brother Mitch’s (Dane Cook) girlfriend. The rest of the movie, as you might assume, is what happens after that. In addition to being a story about Dan and Marie’s budding connection, Dan in Real Life spends a lot of time focusing on family — both Dan’s complicated relationship with his daughters in the wake of his wife’s death and also Dan’s relationship to his brothers (another brother is played by Norbert Leo Butz) and parents (played by John Mahoney and Dianne Wiest).

This movie is worth watching just for the fact that Steve Carell sings in it, and also because it’s so tonally different from what he was doing in The Office at the time. It’s a cute, quiet comedy about love and the complexities of life and I definitely recommend watching it!

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5. Newsies: The Broadway Musical (2017)


There are two different versions of Newsies available to watch on Disney+ but if you’re a fan of Broadway musicals, like I am, give this version a chance. The musical is based on the 1992 movie of the same name, and follows the story of Jack Kelly (Jeremy Jordan) and “newsies” — kids who are mostly orphaned and sell newspapers to survive. But when the cost of newspapers goes up (because the New York World wants to outsell their competitors), the newsies band together to protest and strike the World. They’re aided by a budding journalist named Katherine (Kara Lindsay) who becomes Jack’s love interest throughout the show.

What’s fun about watching Newsies: The Broadway Musical is that you’re watching a stage performance with the original Broadway cast. Jeremy Jordan is absolutely astounding, and his voice will always be able to melt a little piece of my soul. The choreography for Newsies and its set design are just so much fun. If you’re not rocking out to “Seize the Day,” then something might very well be wrong with you.

So if you’re looking for something a little fun and different to break up your traditional movie/TV show combination on Disney+, check out this stage musical!

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4. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)


I definitely remember owning The Muppet Christmas Carol on VHS as a kid. Honestly, it’s probably my favorite retelling of A Christmas Carol, mostly because it combines some meta/fourth wall breaking humor with a classic Christmas story. And it’s got the Muppets in it!

In this version, Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Michael Caine but if that doesn’t sell you, then perhaps the fun additions to the film, like the songs “One More Sleep ‘til Christmas” and “Bless Us All” will. I think everyone knows the plot of A Christmas Carol, so there’s no need for me to recap it here. But if you’ve never seen this version, I definitely recommend it — especially if you have kids. It’s a fun little take on a familiar story and warrants a watch (or rewatch) this Christmas season.

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3. Big Hero 6 (2014)


While I often see people post GIFs of Baymax, I don’t often hear people talk about Big Hero 6 as a film overall. It’s such a wonderful story with some really powerful lessons in there for kids (and adults too) about anger, loss/grief, and forgiveness. Hiro (voiced by Ryan Potter) is a teenager and robot prodigy living in the futuristic city of San Fransokyo. He’s a little bit rebellious, choosing to use his talents to battle robots. His older brother Tadashi (Daniel Henney) and he are close, and his brother encourages Hiro to enroll in the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology and use his talents for good. Hiro does manage to build microbots, tiny robots that can bond together to accomplish things. Unfortunately after Hiro showcases these robots, an explosion erupts and Tadashi perishes in the fire.

After Tadashi’s death, Hiro discovers the project his brother was working on — an inflatable healthcare robot named Baymax. Together, the two embark on an adventure that eventually ropes in Tadashi’s friends and classmates too. Big Hero 6 is such a wonderful film, for numerous reasons. First of all, it features so many wonderful cast members and voices including but not limited to Damon Wayans Jr., Jamie Chung, Genesis Rodriguez, Alan Tudyk, and T.J. Miller. In addition to the stellar cast, the story is really compelling and relatable. Understandably, Hiro spends a lot of the episode wanting to avenge Tadashi’s death. He’s grieving and angry and he wants to use those feelings to hurt the people who took his brother from him. But Baymax — such a wonderful, emotional character — truly makes an impact in Hiro’s life and the lives of the people around him.

If you haven’t yet watched this movie, definitely do so. And maybe bring a box of tissues if you cry easily.

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2. Never Been Kissed (1999)


I first watched Never Been Kissed at a sleepover. It’s been one of my favorite underrated rom-coms ever since. The plot is so 90s that it’s perfect: A 25-year old copyeditor named Josie (Drew Barrymore) gets the chance to do an undercover assignment posing as a high-school student. As someone who was wildly unpopular back then, Josie gets the chance to have a do-over — to shake the insecurities from her past off. At first, she struggles to become popular. But then her brother Rob (David Arquette) helps coach her... and eventually poses as a high-school student himself. As Josie continues to form relationships at school, she begins to have feelings for the English teacher, Sam (Michael Vartan). What ensues is obviously hijinks, tropes, and revealed secrets.

The thing that makes Never Been Kissed so great is the earnest portrayal of Josie by Drew Barrymore. A lot rides on rom-com leads and she always delivers in spades. You really feel for Josie when she’s found out, and you root for her because she just wants to have what everyone else does: real love. The supporting cast in this movie is also just so dang great: John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon are fabulous, and the fact that Jessica Alba plays a popular mean girl is a lot of fun.

Drew Barrymore and Michael Vartan have fantastic chemistry (why wasn’t he the lead in more rom-coms than just this and Monster-in-Law?!), and if you’ve never seen this movie, I highly recommend you do!

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1. The Mandalorian (2019)


Yes, I know that this is a series (and the only series represented on this list), but it’s becoming one of my favorites. The Mandalorian is part of the Star Wars universe so if you’re unfamiliar with it, you probably will be more confused than anything. But for someone like me who’s familiar enough, this is probably right up your alley. The entire first season will be on Disney+ by December 27, when the season finale airs, but I recommend watching weekly if you can. The Mandalorian is a little bit of a slower series — it’s less about action and more about traipsing the galaxy.

The plot? The Mandalorian (Pedro Pascal) is a bounty hunter, traversing the galaxy for his next mission. He finds one and is set to deliver... until he sees his mark, referred to as “The Child.” Now he and The Child are on the run through the universe, encountering obstacles, fighting monsters, and saving some helpless people along the way.

A lot of people who criticize The Mandalorian do so by saying that it’s “slow.” And yes, it’s got a bit of a smoother pace than most things in the Star Wars franchise, but that’s not a bad thing. This is a “space Western,” which means that fight scenes move quickly and everything in between those scenes is slower-paced storytelling. Genuinely though The Mandalorian is great fun — it’s comedic without being over-the-top cheesy. Its comedy fits right into the Star Wars universe perfectly.

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And you’ve probably seen Baby Yoda (what many of us call “The Child”) pop up all over the internet recently. And that’s because Baby Yoda is so gosh darn cute that we can’t help ourselves. The dynamic between the Mandalorian and Baby Yoda is adorable. He’s serving as the little one’s adopted parent, and the show spends a lot of time reminding us of their cute little dynamic. This isn’t something the Mandalorian necessarily wanted, but he chose to save Baby Yoda because something within him knew it was the right thing to do. He couldn’t let people hurt or use his powers.

I’m interested to continue to learn more about the Mandalorian’s past (we’ve gotten hints of it here and there), but I can honestly say that Pedro Pascal is doing such great work emoting with just his voice since the Mandalorian never takes off his helmet. If you’re a fan of Star Wars, you’re probably already watching it. But if for some reason you’re not, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s fun, good storytelling. And again... Baby Yoda.

What do you plan to check out this holiday season on Disney+? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what we should watch too!

Monday, December 2, 2019

How Mike Schur and J.J. Philbin Became My New TV Power Couple [Contributor: Jenn]


I’m a sucker for TV comedies.

For a long time, I couldn’t even name five dramas I watched on a consistent basis. Life is often too dark, unpredictable, and disappointing and dramas just emphasized that. Comedies provide the sort of escapism and sweetness that we need in a world that is growing more and more heartbreaking by the day. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed a slight trend emerging in some of my favorite TV comedies: they feature the writing, EP, or other behind-the-scenes presence of either Mike Schur or J.J. Philbin.

Parks and Recreation was the comedy of optimism — a show defined by the love the characters had for each other (as well as their quirks). New Girl was a feel-good, slapstick show about friendship and relationships. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an ensemble series that leans heavily into the theme of found family. Single Parents is a heartwarming, funny show about raising kids with the help of your “village,” and The Good Place is a wonderful gem of a comedy series raising big questions and providing even bigger payoff.

All of the series above have the influence of either Mike Schur or J.J. Philbin — who are, if you hadn’t already guessed it, married. So what is it that makes these two writers and creators so special? I think it’s their consistent drive to create content that is poignant, emotional, and uplifting.

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TEAMWORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK


You’ll notice that each of the series I mentioned above is truly an ensemble sitcom. I love that Schur and Philbin have really brought their hearts and humor to this sub-genre. The Good Place is such a great example of this. It’s a show that hinges on some pretty big, deep concepts — the afterlife, philosophy, how to become a good person, theology, ethics. And yet, this is a comedy. Morality is a main character, but the true comedy and heart of the series comes from the interaction between Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, Jason, Michael, and Janet. Mike Schur took a show whose primary concept is so deeply serious and turned it into a bright spot in the TV landscape. The writers and producers on The Good Place recognized that the show’s plot was the afterlife but its main purpose was to showcase real, flawed, funny human beings. When the show works well, it focuses on the hilarity that can ensue when we clash with each other because of our fundamentally different upbringings and wiring.

Ensemble comedies that are positive and hopeful focus on the ways we clash with each other, but ultimately, they work because they emphasize our similarities and love for each other. There are numerous comedies that forgo hopefulness in favor of cynicism, but honestly I feel like it’s important that Schur and Philbin don’t lean too heavily into the darkness; life is messy and broken but also there is good in the world. It’s nice to be reminded of that every once in a while, and it’s nice to be validated in celebrating the hope.

While all of the Schur/Philbin comedies are real (meaning that they deal with some heavy issues including, but not limited to, racial profiling, death, divorce, morality, etc.), they also allow us to remind ourselves of the good in humanity. Too much of life is centered on darkness. People can be cruel, and people can be awful. Bad things happen every single day. Comedies in the Schur/Philbin universe don’t willfully ignore the bad things. That would be absurd. Instead, they reframe the bad with a lens of goodness. What if there is, indeed, bad in the world? But what if there is also love? And friendship? And hope, against all odds? What if there is change and reform when the good guys win?


Just like Mike Schur enjoys ensemble comedies, so does J.J. Philbin. If you compare New Girl and Single Parents, you’ll find that both are ensemble series where the emphasis on “found family” (a theme that runs pretty heavily through Schur AND Philbin’s shows) means hilarious shenanigans, misunderstandings, fights, and ultimately support. In New Girl, Schmidt would annoy his roommates, act like a jerk, and yet eventually he’d recognize his wrongdoings and be forgiven. In Single Parents, Douglas is the seemingly curmudgeonly one of the parent group but has a soft heart. Both shows focus on characters who are optimists and some who are pessimists.

What makes these comedies so wonderful is that they have a balance of all kinds of characters. That leads to comedy, tension, and also a whole lot of silliness. New Girl and Single Parents operate on the same wavelength of comedy, focusing on how people can turn insignificant things into high-stakes shenanigans. Everyone has their quirks, and everyone has things that press their buttons. What makes comedy tick is the balance between individual storylines and overarching narratives.

Ensemble comedies are tough to navigate because, by their nature, they require focus on the group as a whole as well as dynamics between individual characters. But Schur and Philbin’s shows have always managed to strike that balance with relative ease. It’s impressive how well Parks and Recreation was executed, given the fact that there were ten major characters throughout the majority of the series to juggle. Single Parents is currently a cast of five adults and five children. But both shows manage to balance the important overarching story (the love these characters have for each other) with fun storytelling dynamics (personally I always loved the Ron/April stories in Parks and Rec, and I adore Will/Angie stories in Single Parents).

I’m consistently impressed by how well the shows in the Schur/Philbin universe make the characters their first priority. It’s something that makes their comedies so significant, memorable, and funny.

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ROMANCE DOESN’T KILL COMEDY IN THE SCHUR/PHILBIN UNIVERSE 


A lot of television creators have talked over the years about romance as it relates to their shows. (And, fun fact, so have I!)

In our digital era, “shipping” is more prevalent than ever and, unfortunately, a lot of writers decide to dangle will-they-won’t-they relationships with no intention of following through simply to bait their audience. They worry that putting a couple with romantic tension together will erase the excitement and comedy from their shows. But in trying to avoid romance, shows often stumble into the ironic problem that shows NEED romance to survive; to be fully alive and human means that you experience all ranges of emotions and feelings. It means you love, you lose, and sometimes you just have to talk about feelings.

What I’ve always admired about shows in the Schur/Philbin universe is that they don’t seem to view romance as a stumbling block or erasure of comedy. In fact, they seem to view it the exact opposite: as a way to make their shows more relatable and funny. A primary example of this is Ben and Leslie’s romance on Parks and Recreation. While the show wrote in tension between the two and threw obstacles in the way of them being together, once the show committed to the pairing, they did so wholeheartedly. There was no reason for the writers to try and tear the two apart anymore — the comedy from Ben and Leslie’s relationship didn’t derive from their demise; the show realized that the two were fundamentally different and therefore funny on their own.


There’s a difference between tension and denial, and when writers are in tune with the characters they create, romance can make shows better. The key takeaway is that part about understanding the characters though. A lot of showrunners and writers place their own desires above the needs of their characters. They forgo plot development and characterization, deciding to break up couples just because they’re bored or cannot find a creative way to keep the relationship interesting. And, unfortunately, that can lead to character assasination and a general demise. I’ve watched numerous shows succumb to these issues. But a show that never really did in the Philbin-verse is New Girl. While J.J. Philbin wasn’t the creator of New Girl, she was a writer and consulting producer for the series. From the beginning of the show, it was clear that there was some sort of romantic tension between Nick and Jess. But it wasn’t until season two that the writers acted on that tension, and the pair kissed in “Cooler,” then proceeded to date throughout the next season or so.

When Nick and Jess broke up in season three, many fans were concerned that criticism over the pairing’s focus, and the romance itself, “ruined” the series. While that was untrue, it wasn’t unheard of for writers and audience members alike to draw that kind of conclusion. Nick and Jess eventually reunited by the season six finale, and the significance of that is not lost on me. The writers didn’t reunite their couple immediately, instead giving them each the character growth necessary to become the kind of people who were ready for each other the second (and final) time around. New Girl did a fantastic job showcasing Jess pining for Nick — something usually reserved for male romantic leads — and it’s only because she acknowledged her feelings, processed them, and asked for help from her friends that she became a better version of Jessica Day. Nick, similarly, had to grow too; instead, he was grown through a relationship with someone else. He learned how to be a better boyfriend, and he learned to be a better best friend. If Nick and Jess hadn’t spent crucial time apart, they wouldn’t have been better together.

Nick and Jess didn’t break up for petty reasons, and the writers of the show didn’t separate them because romance kills comedy or dragged the show down.

Writers who understand their characters know that romance elevates the humanity of any comedy or drama, and good romance requires an acute understanding of the characters to work.

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Mike Schur and J.J. Philbin both love the will-they-won’t-they pairings (Nick/Jess, Leslie/Ben, Jake/Amy, Will/Angie, Chidi/Eleanor, Schmidt/Cece), but you’ll notice that all of those pairings have one thing in common: the writers esteem the individual characters and they know great storytelling is built from organic conflict. Those characters clash even in love because some of them are idealists paired with realists or pessimists. Jake and Amy are seeming opposites, but they are both passionate people who express their passion in very different ways (shenanigans vs. structure). Will Cooper in Single Parents is the softest, most energetic person; Angie is tough and has trouble dealing with emotions.

Characters deserve to grow within romantic relationships on television shows. And one thing is sure: I’m incredibly grateful for the Schur and Philbin, because their shows are always willing to put in that work.

A NEW DECADE OF THE SCHUR/PHILBIN UNIVERSE


As we prepare to enter 2020 soon, I’m excited for more opportunities to watch Mike Schur and J.J. Philbin shine. They’re working on shows that are consistently highlighting optimism, friendship, and love. I feel like I say it every year, but life is dark; we need their comedy now more than ever. And what can we learn from these two executives and writers? We can learn that love is hard but it’s worth pursuing. We can learn that our coworkers can become our closest friends — and even our family.

And, finally, we can learn that life is messy, but it’s always and only better with others.

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Sunday, December 1, 2019

The Community Rewatch Podcast is Here! [Contributor: Jenn]


It's been a while since we visited Greendale Community College, but all of that is about to change. We've officially launched the Communtity Rewatch Podcast! Right now it's available to listen to on Spotify. Be sure to follow us there so that you're the first to know when new episodes drop.

Community aired on NBC a little over 10 years ago, and yet it's still one of the most impactful shows for many people, including us. The homages, jokes, and tone of the show informed a lot of what followed in pop culture. And while yes, the show did stumble a bit in its later years, one of the best things it taught us all was how to love something that was flawed.

You can listen to and follow the podcast below. Stay tuned for more episodes soon!
 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Flash 6x07 Review: "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 1" (Never Trust Evil Goo) [Contributor: Deborah MacArthur]


“The Last Temptation of Barry Allen, Pt. 1”
Original Airdate: November 26, 2019

Crisis is barreling toward us and, since The Flash takes a key role in the whole thing, we’ve fallen into some serious drama territory in the lead-up to the crossover event. As evidenced by the title, this week is the first half of a two-parter focused on Barry’s inner struggle with the death that virtually the entire multiverse is saying will be his destiny. He’s put on a strong front so far, but since “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen” pushes the focus on Barry’s internal struggle, it’s harder for him to hide how very much he does not want to die. The result of that dip into Barry’s psyche? A rather trippy episode that — again! — is phenomenally well-acted and, at times, more like a horror movie than a silly comic book show.


A LOOK INSIDE THE MIND


We open on the continuation of the fight between Ramsey Rosso and Ralph that was left on a cliffhanger last week. After some metahuman scuffling, it looks like Ralph gets the upper hand on Bloodwork, but then he makes the critical error of gloating about that upper hand and loses it. Ralph, I’ve said it to Barry and I’ll say it to you: Don’t. Gloat. At. The. Villains. When you seem to have won and you take time to rub it in the villain’s face, guess what happens? The villain stabs you with dark matter blood goo!

Killer Frost arrives just after Ramsey leaves and finds Ralph unconscious, which makes me wonder how everyone on Team Flash automatically knew it was Ramsey who attacked Ralph. Frost lets Caitlin take over for a bit so she can come up with a way to save Ralph, and the method she arrives at is a blood transfusion between him and Barry. Barry’s speed healing can repair cell damage, and now I’m wondering if that’s always been the case. Has anyone on Team Flash tested Barry’s blood for the sort of cure that sent Ramsey on his path toward villainy in the first place?

The transfusion between Barry and Ralph leads us down the psychological rabbit hole of the episode, since a small bit of Bloodwork’s evil goo-blood ended up in the transfer and is trying to take Barry over. The first manifestation of this is Ramsey himself — looking a lot less gross — appearing in Barry’s home, asking questions about the upcoming Crisis. One of the questions is whether or not he was seen at all in the visions of the future Barry experienced, but Barry says he was not.

Later, Barry is visited by the other side of this opposing struggle between good and evil: the Speed Force, using the form of Barry’s mother. That’s when Barry gets the explanation of what’s actually going on. Ramsey wants to take control of Barry and bend him to his will, but Barry seems adamant that Ramsey will lose. Let’s see how that plays out, everyone!

Ramsey reappears and plays Barry like a fiddle. Apropos, since he’s the stand-in for the devil, here. Ramsey starts with the false normalcy of Barry’s friends and family sitting down to a nice home-cooked meal, everyone acting as if Barry’s already fought off and won against the Bloodwork infection and had just been sleeping the rest of his fever away on Joe and Cecile’s couch. This quickly morphs into one of the most nightmarish sequences I have ever witnessed on primetime network television, as Ramsey arrives with a goo-filled lasagna and everyone at the table starts chowing down on what looks like viscous oil. When Barry understandably starts freaking out, Ramsey says he’s just there to eat and offer Barry “a gift.” Barry questions what Ramsey could possibly have to offer him, and everyone at the dinner table turns to Barry with black-stained mouths and says in unison, “Everything.” Thanks for those nightmares, show.

But wait — there’s more creepy ahead! Well, creepy and really, really sad. Ramsey teleports Barry to the time vault where the newspaper article written about his future disappearance is hanging and taunts Barry with how little effort he’s put into trying to stop that fate from coming to pass. Then Barry ends up in a room of gravestones bearing names of people Barry has known and lost, including Nora and Henry Allen, Eddie Thawne, Martin Stein, and the future Nora West-Allen.

That last gravestone transitions us to a nursery, where Baby Nora is laying in a crib. Barry is thrilled to see his daughter but when he tries to reach in and pick her up, his hands pass right through her. When the nursery disappears, Barry is left in a red-lit black void, where phantoms of people (Ralph, Iris, Joe, and Eobard Thawne) tell Barry how everyone will die and the city will burn without him there to save it. And wow, I know this is probably the third or fourth time this season I’ve applauded the acting on this show, but I have to do it again anyway: Grant Gustin is incredible in this entire pseudo-dream sequence. He buffets between rage and sadness and desperation so expertly, you can really see the psychological pressure that drives Barry toward Ramsey’s promises.

The Speed Force shows up again to act as another weight in the other direction, but Barry seems too far tempted for the Speed Force’s argument to sway him away from Ramsey, who is promising not only a life after the Crisis but also what essentially amounts to immortality and the ability for Barry to heal the people around him.

We get a struggle for Barry’s soul, with the Speed Force fighting to keep Barry from taking Ramsey’s deal and Ramsey dangling the possibility of Barry getting to live a life without Crisis cutting it all short, and while a part of me understands how desirable all that must be for Barry another part of me wonders how he can possibly fall for what is an obvious trap.

But fall for it he does! When Barry awakens from his fever, all seems right with the world — until Iris notices there’s something off about her husband, and Barry goes all evil black goo zombie and runs off. He finds and bows down to Ramsey, who is fully embracing his identity as a supervillain.

Next episode, I guess we’ll be dealing with Barry as a mindless goo zombie.

Other Things:
  • I felt like there was something off about the Barry and Iris plots this episode. Every time we returned to the real world, it sort of diminished Barry’s struggle against Ramsey. I think I would have preferred if this whole episode had focused on Barry’s trippy trip into his psyche, so that Iris’s struggle with writing her article about Barry’s disappearance could be saved for an episode where Iris could be the A-plot and shine a little more. That said, I suppose it’s emotionally fitting that both halves of the West-Allen couple spends their time coming to grips with Barry’s future demise in the same episode.
  • “Barry’s identity cannot be exposed,” Iris says to Allegra, as if the entire universe isn’t humoring Barry about his obvious secret identity.
  • Oh, I forgot about Barry being called “The Streak” way back when. Man, that was a terrible superhero moniker.
  • “Soon, the entire world will embrace — Bloodwork!” It’s really hard to make your villainous declaration sound suitably dramatic when your villain name is also a noun. Ramsey sounds like he’s going to force everyone to love diagnostic testing.

Friday, November 22, 2019

In the Era of Peak TV, Dollface is a Must-Watch [Contributor: Jenn]


When Disney+ was released, millennials everywhere dove head-first into nostalgia, rapidly consuming Disney Channel Original Movies and old Disney shows with fervor. I know, because I was one of those millennials. Then I quickly devoured new series like The Mandalorian. I essentially forgot that I owned Hulu and Netflix accounts for a few days, and only resurfaced to catch up on currently-airing series. But because Hulu is great at social media marketing, I kept seeing ads for their new series, Dollface. I honestly hadn’t even heard about it before an ad in my Instastory alerted me.

I resolved to watch the series, if only because it starred four criminally-underrated actresses, and was a show about women and female friendships. The end result? A 10-episode series that I absolutely adored. It’s got a few bumps and clichés along the way but overall, Dollface is a show that is quirky, fun, and utterly focused on what it looks like to have female friendships after college (hint: Sunday brunch makes a very, very fun appearance in the show).

Mild spoilers for the series to follow.

Let’s get the plot out of the way first: Jules (Kat Dennings) is a young woman who’s just been broken up with by her boyfriend of five years. Because she’s spent the last near-half-decade with one guy, Jules’ female friendships have been sorely neglected. So she vows to reconnect with the women she left behind, including her best friend from college, Madison (Brenda Song) and her other friends Stella (Shay Mitchell).

But it’s not easy for Jules to connect. She hasn’t really had female friendships in years, and while other women put them on hold for the short-term, Jules has apparently neglected her friends for a long time. Understandably, Madison isn’t keen on reconnecting with someone who abandoned their friendship in favor of a guy, but Stella is a little more accepting. Add to the mix the unlikely friendship Jules cultivates with a woman, Izzy, at work (Esther Povitsky) and you have a recipe for shenanigans.

Dollface’s primary charm is in its magical realism — when life is confusing or chaotic, Jules imagines her life in various scenarios. When she’s dumped, she boards an imaginary bus of sobbing women who all eventually arrive at a terminal and greet their female friends like they would if they’d returned from a long trip. Jules plays an imaginary game show in her head (“Should She Go Out?”), imagines a literal rift forming when Madison and Stella fight, and has an entire episode-long Wizard of Oz fantasy, which is so genius. The way she gains advice, primarily, is through conversing with a cat lady (Beth Grant) who tells her what she should do about her female friendships.

But there’s another charming layer of Dollface — the women themselves. Female friendships are complicated, especially when you get older. And while Ramona, the sister of Jules’ ex-boyfriend, tells the heroine that she should accept a dwindling group of female friends as she ages, it’s clear that the show (and Jules) don’t buy that. Ramona’s argument is that when you’re in your twenties, you need your female friends. Your squad, as it were. But when you settle into a relationship, it’s okay to let those friendships go. Ramona tells Jules about how she chose bridesmaids — but it’s not because she’s close to the women; most of them she hasn’t spoken to in over six months. She chose them because of how they’d look in her wedding party. Jules might have been fine with that life at the beginning of the series, but now that she’s reconnected with her friends, she can’t go back to that way of life.

The truth is, Jules found a deeper connection with her friends than she had earlier in life. Their college relationship was based on fun and seeing each other all the time. Now they’re older, trying to navigate life and expectations and work and their futures. There’s still drama and fighting and emotions because they’re human beings, but there’s something more powerful that connects them now.

Most of the first season is devoted to Jules learning how the world works when it comes to female friendships — and these women are hilarious as they teach her. Brenda Song is consistently underrated when it comes to comedy. There’s a way that she’s able to perfectly punctuate lines of dialogue with sarcasm that makes her so endearing. Madison is an interesting character, too, and I love that none of the women in the show are elevated as the “cool” or “flawless” one. Madison’s pride is a stumbling block. Izzy’s constant need for approval gets her into trouble (at least she’s self-aware of her codependency), and Stella’s tendency to numb or ignore her feelings causes issues.

Jules is the protagonist of the series and manages to transform pretty splendidly. She learns not just how to open up, but how to step outside of something that is comfortable and familiar and into the unknown. The season ends essentially with Jules standing up for herself — but most importantly, standing up for her friends. She doesn’t do everything in the series perfectly (she lies and tries to appease others rather than challenge them), but she grows. She learns how to become a better woman and a better friend. She stops being scared and starts actually living.

Kat Dennings, by the way, does a fabulous job at conveying Jules’ emotional journey. Not only is Kat just a hilarious actress, but also emotive (the endings of “Mama Bear” and “Feminist” prove that she can do a lot with small scenes). Something else I’m thankful for is that this show didn’t use Jules’ magical realism as a way to convince the audience that something was wrong with her, or use it as a problem-solving tool only. Jules’ imagination continues to run along even as she’s evolving and growing. It isn’t used as an escapist tool but rather as a way to process the world — and something super quirky too!

Madison, Stella, and Izzy get to grow a bit too. Shay Mitchell does an excellent job with dry humor, and that’s definitely Stella’s forte. But she also takes charge of her life and future, applying to business school because it’s something she wants. Everyone expects Stella to be the beautiful, fun party girl all the time. And Stella bitterly decides to act the way everyone sees her in one episode. But it’s really important not just to highlight the fact that Stella is beautiful and smart, but also ambitious. She’s a woman who seems, to outsiders, like she has no plan or purpose. But she cares about things and bettering herself.

Meanwhile, Madison undergoes her own little transformation too, learning how to trust people and show emotion. Madison’s so driven and career-centered that it can be hard for the audience to relate to the girl who seems to have it all. I’d liken Madison in Dollface to Ainsley in Four Weddings and a Funeral — both are gorgeous, fancy, self-made women but both are also people who are stubborn and prideful and can let that stand in the way of what they know they need to do, It definitely affects their friendships. But Brenda Song just does an excellent job of toeing the line between Madison’s tough, take-charge exterior and her vulnerability, which is why she is so compelling.

And then there’s Izzy, who’s so afraid of being excluded that she clings desperately to the people around her for validation. She’s also just weird and awkward sometimes and Esther Povitsky had already sold me in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and she sold me here. (Speaking of, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend alum Vella Lovell guest stars in the show as a coworker of Jules.) Dollface also boasts an array of guest stars including Malin Akerman (who plays Jules’ boss), Matthew Gray Gubler, Margot Robbie, and more.

So while the series toys with clichés about plot and character, and occasionally falls into stereotypical story traps, it does do a great job of portraying female relationships in a fresh, funny, whimsical way. And that’s really all I can ask for in a show.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Grey’s Anatomy 16x09 Recap: “Let’s All Go to the Bar” (McWidow) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]


“Let’s All Go to the Bar”
Original Airdate: November 21, 2019

Meredith is back at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital where she belongs! The fall finale kicks off with life starting to get back to normal for our core group of doctors, who have all faced difficulties in the first half of season sixteen. This episode also doubles as a pre-kick off to the weekly Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy crossovers that will begin airing on January 23, 2020. With plenty of laughs and tragedy to go around, let’s dive into the final episode of Grey’s Anatomy for the year.

FIRST DAY JITTERS


Maggie and Meredith are both back at work, and everyone is welcoming Mer back with open arms. We see screen images of Mer receiving texts from Cristina that say she has sent Mer a welcome back/sorry you got dumped present. DeLuca is surprised to see Mer at Grey Sloan Memorial, as he seems to be the only person in the hospital who didn’t know Bailey rehired her. Mer chimes in the best comeback and says, “I was going to tell you, but you were too busy dumping me.” DeLuca is confused and doesn’t think they are broken up, but Mer assures him that wanting space is the equivalent of ending a relationship.

Things at Pac-North seem to be going smoother these days. Gemma continues to try to be supportive of Richard and brings him a peace offering yogurt to get him to talk. She encourages him to be easy on Maggie over the death of his niece, Sabrina, but Richard doesn’t seem convinced. With Alex out for the episode to visit his mother in Iowa, Owen is left to give Dr. Daphne Lopez a tour of the hospital. The UCLA emergency room doctor is deciding whether to bring her services to Pac-North or Seattle Presbyterian, who apparently can’t afford her.

Romance is also back in the halls, and ambulance dock, at Grey Sloan. Catherine pulls up to the hospital to find Jackson being touchy-feely with Victoria Hughes. Since she still thinks her son is dating Maggie, Catherine is none too pleased to meet Vic. Catherine gets the award for best zinger of the episode by responding with, “Station 19? What is that, a TV channel?” after Vic introduces herself as, “Victoria Hughes, Station 19.” Amelia and Link and Nico and Schmitt are getting hot and heavy in different rooms of the hospital too. The romance factor drops a notch when Amelia and Link run into Jo, who tells them she has signed up to be a safe haven volunteer and has gotten a notice about a baby that was dropped off at a nearby firehouse. Jo asks Link if he will go with her, but Link has to get to surgery. Jo decides she will handle it alone, which probably wasn’t her best decision. Amelia and Bailey have also become pregnant buddies and check up on each other when they cross paths, like they did when Amelia walked away from Jo and Link’s conversation. It’s an odd new friendship.

Elsewhere in the hospital, the residents are doing their daily rounds and are all still mad at Schmitt for turning Mer in to Bailey. They go with Maggie to meet her first patient since coming back: a new father whose wife gave birth to a premature baby. The patient, Elliott, has chronic aortic stenosis and needs a fourth aortic valve replacement. This instantly makes Maggie nervous, as she doesn’t seem ready to be back at work yet. The next patient on rounds is Station 19’s former captain, Pruitt Herrera. Bailey sends the residents away and wants to take care of Herrera herself, as she formerly treated him for mesothelioma. He thinks his cancer is back and asks Bailey not to tell Ben. The third patient on rounds is one of Meredith’s former child patients, who presents with a mass in between her ribs. They get interrupted by Dr. Cormac Hayes, who was hired as the new chief of pediatric surgery that same morning. The Irish doc is immediately brash and rubs Mer the wrong way.

UNCERTAINTY


Jo arrives at none other than Station 19 to pick up the surrendered baby and is greeted by Vic, who thinks Jo is the baby’s mother. Jo recognizes Vic’s name and says that she must be Jackson’s girlfriend, which freaks Vic out because she didn’t think they had a label. Ben and fellow firefighter Dean Miller bring the three-day-old baby to Jo, and Ben decides to give Jo a tour of the station. Back at Grey Sloan, Maggie tells Teddy about Elliott’s surgery and asks her if she would like to scrub in. Teddy questions why Maggie would need help, but decides to scrub in anyway because she misses heart surgery. This is also direct confirmation that Maggie is unsure of herself and not ready to operate after taking responsibility for killing her cousin two episodes ago.

Back in Mer and Hayes’ patient’s room, the two docs are butting heads. Hayes asks Mer if she ordered a CT scan yet, and Mer says that she was about to order one before he interrupted her exam a few minutes before. Over in our third patient’s room, Bailey is giving Herrera an ultrasound and fielding questions about her pregnancy. Bailey is happy to say that she has an ultrasound later that day and is excited to find out the sex of the baby. Unfortunately, Bailey sees a mass in the ultrasound and needs to take Herrera for a biopsy.

Jackson decides to find his mother and set the record straight. Before he can do that, Catherine accuses him of sneaking around with another woman in plain sight. Jackson finally tells her that he broke up with Maggie a while ago and that he is seeing Vic now. Catherine reveals that she is unsure whether her marriage to Richard will last much longer, but Jackson reassures her that Richard loves her and wouldn’t cheat on her. Richard and Catherine have apparently barely spoken in weeks, so Jackson recommends she try and listen to her husband. Over in Elliott’s room, Teddy gives him and his wife some tips on being new parents while prepping him for surgery. Maggie is still clearly nervous, which at this point should be making the audience nervous as to what is going to happen next.

BABY FEVER


Back at Pac-North, Gemma and Richard have an impromptu AA meeting in his office. Richard tells her that he hasn’t been doing too well and learns that his friend is a widow, which is why she started drinking. The action switches over to Station 19, where Jo is chilling with the baby while Ben gets a bottle. Station 19’s Lt. Jack Gibson pops in to see how Jo and the baby are doing. Jo opens up about how she is having a surreal moment since she was also dropped off at a firehouse as a baby. Jack and Jo proceed to bond over growing up in the foster system before Ben comes back. Ben and Jack reveal that they get about seven surrendered babies a year after Jo asks, and Ben tries to explain that the babies are given up for good reasons. While Jo feeds the baby, you can totally tell that she is starting to wish that she wasn’t joking about being pregnant during her Halloween wedding.

Over at Grey Sloan, Schmitt and Helm are taking Elliott to surgery, but he asks to go by the NICU to see his baby in case he doesn’t make it through surgery. Bailey and Amelia find each other and start chatting again. Amelia reveals that she hasn’t had an ultrasound yet at 20 weeks pregnant and doesn’t care about finding out the baby’s sex. Bailey yells at her for being dumb, and Amelia has been too terrified at what she might find out from the ultrasound to actually have it done.

While waiting for their patient’s CT scans to load, Hayes and Mer continue to disagree. Hayes thinks the patient has a tumor, while Mer thinks it could be some gall stones that migrated to the patient’s back after taking out her gall bladder two years ago. Hayes accuses Mer of screwing up the prior surgery. Mer rebuttals by asking Hayes if Bailey or Koracick hired him because she doesn’t think Bailey would hire someone with that massive of an ego. Mer is also having the residents try and hunt down her package from Cristina, which they have yet to find.

FROM BAD TO WORSE


Ben offers to give Jo and the baby a ride from Station 19 back to Grey Sloan, as he’s taking the rest of the day off to go to Bailey’s ultrasound appointment. The baby is making Jo question her past even more, and Jo is failing to understand how her mother could give her up. Jo is quickly going into potentially bad territory here, as she doesn’t look like she wants to give this baby up. In the OR at Grey Sloan, Maggie continuously asks for Elliott’s estimated clogging time, which is what she forgot to ask about during Sabrina’s surgery. Teddy reveals she is being courted by Pac-North to run their cardiothoracic department. Speaking of Pac-North, Catherine shows up to visit Richard, but hears from another doctor that her husband is in his office with another woman and has the door shut. Catherine immediately assumes the worst and storms out.

Hayes decides to ruffle Mer’s feathers some more by telling their patient and her mother that she might have cancer, even though Mer specifically asked him not to worry them before finding out what was going on. Mer walks into the room as they find out the news, and she tries to calm the hysterical pair down. Elsewhere in the hospital, Amelia informs Link that she hasn’t had an ultrasound while he is walking to the OR with DeLuca. Link is more than a little surprised, and Amelia takes out her frustration on DeLuca by asking Link why DeLuca is on his service after dumping her sister. DeLuca is still convinced he didn’t break up with Mer and explains what happened to Link and Nico, who are all scrubbing in for the same surgery. Link surprises DeLuca by saying that he is not Mer’s equal and that it is okay. Link continues to say that he knows he isn’t Amelia’s equal either, and Nico seconds with how he’s not equals with Schmitt. Nico sends the message home by saying that even though he and Schmitt aren’t equals, he respects his boyfriend, but wouldn’t respect him if he asked to take a break to figure things out. Link urges DeLuca to correct his mistake with Mer and undo it before it’s too late.

Maggie and Teddy are almost done with their surgery, which is being carefully watched by Koracick in the gallery. Maggie thinks Koracick is still following Teddy around and feels he may think that he still has a future with her. Maggie wants Teddy to clear the air with Koracick instead of stringing him along, and their conversation gets cut short when Teddy gets paged to the ER and leaves Maggie to close with Helm and Schmitt. After Teddy leaves, they realize that Elliott’s heart isn’t restarting, which causes Maggie to start freaking out.

A quick break shows Bailey telling Herrera that he has lymphoma. Bailey is happy to report that the treatments are straightforward even though the cancer is aggressive. Herrera starts to imply that he might not want treatment, but notices that Bailey is bleeding. Ben, Jo, and the baby arrive at the hospital at the same time, and Ben gets the bad news text from Bailey and leaves Jo and the baby alone. Back in the OR, Elliott is crashing, and Maggie is losing her mind. She asks how this could be happening again, and Teddy comes back to save the day. She proposes a plan to keep Elliott on bypass and wait and see if his heart will restart itself while also trying to calm Maggie down. The scene cuts to Ben running through the halls and into an exam room, where he finds Herrera and Carina DeLuca comforting Bailey, who has suffered a miscarriage.

In another OR, Mer and Hayes are performing a biopsy on their teen patient. Mer is still complaining that she can’t locate Cristina’s package, while the lab confirms that the mass is not a malignant tumor. The news immediately perks Mer up, and she takes Hayes’ place to remove the mass and find out what is plaguing their patient. Upon removing the mass and opening it up, Mer finds that it was a gall stone all along. Hayes eyes show that he is quite impressed that Mer knew the mass was a gall stone and not a tumor from a scan. Mer takes a victory lap by verbally putting Hayes in his place.

Owen then finishes up his tour of Pac-North with Dr. Lopez and seems a bit smitten with his potential new colleague. Richard sees their interaction and warns Owen to be careful if he doesn’t want his relationship with Teddy to blow up. Even though he is projecting his problems onto Owen, Richard isn’t wrong, as Catherine and Jackson are sitting at a bar at the same time and talking about the same topic. Catherine fears that Richard is having an affair, while Jackson isn’t convinced and thinks they have just had a massive miscommunication.

Another couple in potential tragedy could be Ben and Bailey, as it’s unclear how they are going to handle the miscarriage. Ben wants to take Bailey home, but she would rather stay at the hospital and work to take her mind off things. She asks for some alone time because she can’t face her husband. On her way to her office, Bailey bumps into Amelia again. Bailey urges Amelia to have an ultrasound, and Amelia is happy to report that she already scheduled one for that night. Amelia makes the mistake of asking how Bailey’s ultrasound went, but Bailey doesn’t tell her that she had a miscarriage.

THE SHOE DROPS


Maggie and Teddy have the difficult task of telling Elliott’s wife that they need to keep him on bypass indefinitely to see if his heart will restart itself. The wife isn’t happy that they don’t know how long it will take or if her husband will wake up at all. Maggie gets too emotional and has to leave the conversation. To make matters worse, she runs into Koracick in the hall, who wants to know what happened with the patient. Maggie fully spirals out of control and tells her boss that she doesn’t trust herself anymore and quits on the spot. Teddy walks out of the room to find a stunned Koracick, who immediately asks her to be the new cardio chief. Unfortunately, Teddy thinks that Koracick fired Maggie to give the job to her as a sign of love. Teddy apologizes for hurting Koracick and proclaims her love for Owen while telling her ex that he needs to move on. Koracick is even more shocked at Teddy’s speech. He manages to tell Teddy that Maggie quit and would still like her to take the job. Koracick goes on to say that he would marry Teddy tomorrow if she said yes and wants a future with her. He asks Teddy to seriously consider whether she wants to close the door on him since Owen hasn’t proposed to her and he has.

While telling their patient that she doesn’t have cancer, Mer is surprised to see that Hayes has a softer side. He gives the teen advice on how to deal with boys her age, as he has raised a few teen boys of his own. On his way out of Pac-North for the night, Richard gets a text from Catherine saying that she is leaving for a conference. Gemma believes that Catherine must think Richard is involved with her, and Richard fears the same. The episode then goes into a series of four shocking/surprising moments/cliffhangers to end the year. The first comes from Jo, who has invited Link over to her and Alex’s home. Please note Alex is still out of town. Link is shocked to see that Jo has kidnapped the baby she picked up from Station 19, but considering how she acted throughout the episode, I wasn’t surprised at all. Jo admits that maybe becoming a safe haven volunteer was too much too soon. Maybe it will all work out with Jo and Alex adopting the baby without Jo getting in legal trouble.

The second sort-of surprise occurs when Mer and Hayes share the same elevator at the end of the night. Hayes informs Mer that he gives his patients all the info good or bad regardless of whether or not he knows what is wrong with them because his wife’s doctors didn’t give him that courtesy before she died. It is surprising that he is also a widow, but Mer is more taken by Hayes saying that he wants to learn how to work with her and understands why she was missed. Mer then gets her big shock when Cristina sends her several texts stating that her package isn’t an “it,” rather a “him.” The next text says “McWidow,” which is followed by three separate four-leaf clover emojis representing that Hayes is both Irish and the third doctor she has given a “Mc” nickname. Granted, McWidow doesn’t rhyme with McDreamy and McSteamy, but we’ll let that one slide. Considering the amount of times Mer couldn’t find her package with Hayes in the room, it wasn’t hard to guess that he might indeed be Cristina’s package, especially since she still likes to interfere in her person’s life form afar. Will Mer take Cristina’s bait now that Hayes has started to loosen up?

I also predicted the third cliffhanger way back at the beginning of the season. Amelia has her ultrasound and is relieved that everything is fine. However, Carina reveals that Amelia is actually 24 weeks pregnant, making Amelia realize that Link may not be the father of her baby. For the record, I called this the moment Amelia found out she was pregnant. This ought to severely complicate many lives! The big cliffhanger happens when Jackson, Nico, Schmitt, Ben, Herrera and a bunch of residents find themselves at a bar. Herrera is comforting Ben and says that his wife miscarried before having their daughter Andy, who is one of the few Station 19 characters missing from this episode.

As Ben asks Herrera why he was at the hospital, a car crashes through the side of the bar and becomes the night’s promised tragedy. It’s unclear what the outcome of the accident will be, but thankfully we don’t have to wait very long to find out. Station 19 and Grey’s Anatomy return Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 8/7c and 9/8c respectively. That’s right, Grey’s Anatomy is moving back to the 9/8c timeslot to allow the weekly crossovers to run more smoothly.