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.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Jenn's Pick: 10 Television Shows That Defined My Childhood


I was born in 1989 and therefore spent my childhood in the 90s. It was there that I was free to tote around my Cabbage Patch doll, try and keep my Tamagotchi alive for more than a few days, and then play Pretty Pretty Princess. The 90s were a great decade to grow up in, truthfully. School was enjoyable, ‘N Sync was on the radio, and there were so many wonderful and influential television shows on each week. I think one of the greatest things about life is that you’re often unable to fully appreciate the impact that your childhood has on you until you leave it behind. Gone are the days of playing in the backyard with neighbors until your mom called you in for dinner. It’s been years since I’ve been able to enjoy a complete day without any responsibilities.

Being an adult has its perks, of course, but there’s something to be said about taking time to reminisce on the “good old days” of our youth every now and then. I’ve mentioned this concept before in my Community reviews – it’s important for us to reflect on where we started our journey in order to appreciate where we are now and focus on where we want to go from there. I love being retrospective, I love being nostalgic, and I love the era that I grew up in. So many elements of my childhood shaped who I became as an adult, so it seems fitting to celebrate ten television shows that influenced me as a child.

Bear in mind, of course, that unless you grew up in the 90s like I did, these will probably differ from the shows that influenced YOUR childhood and stuck in your memory. And that’s okay – hit the comments below and let me know what specific shows had an impact on your life, too! So if you’re ready, grab those Lisa Frank pencil cases, your Power Ranger action figures, and put on those bell bottoms because we’re about to head back into the good ‘ol days of television!


Friday, August 16, 2013

Jenn's Pick: Top 15 TV Friendships


My longest friendship to date with another person is eleven years.

I moved from Pennsylvania to central Florida when I was thirteen years old (what a great age to uproot your life and form new friendships, right?) and started my new school a month later than everyone else. For those who are unaware, northern schools start in September while schools in Florida start back in August. As an incoming eighth grader, I knew that most students had already formed their friendships and cliques long ago. Being shoved into a new surrounding wasn’t easy for me, as someone who doesn’t like change, and I suffered through my first week of school and first new experience with a bully in my choir class.

As I rode the bus home that day, trying not to cry over the cruel note I had received from another girl in the soprano section, a girl who had also been in my choir class approached me. Gesturing to the empty space next to me, she asked if anyone was sitting beside me. I shook my head and she sat down. I found out that she lived in my neighborhood, got off at the same bus stop I did, and was a pretty nice girl. I tell her to this day that she chose to sit beside me at the exact right moment. Because I really needed a friend and she has been mine for the past eleven years.

There are a lot of wonderful friendships on television, if we’re being honest. And there are a lot of characters that we wish would be OUR best friends. In contemplating this list, I decided to pause and revisit not only the more recent television brotps and friendships, but also ones that defined my childhood. The 90s were, after all, a ripe time for sitcoms and with that came plenty of memorable, solid television friendships.

So whether you’re the outcast or the jock, the overachiever or the nerd, or the Time Lord Victorious and a temp from Chiswick, I hope you find these television friendships to be as inspiring and enjoyable to read about as they were to watch unfold on our television screens! :)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

In Defense of Annie Edison


I am not, nor have I ever been a Carrie or a Miranda or a Samantha. I am a Charlotte, through and through. I’ve never identified with the Rachels or the free-spirited Phoebes – I’m completely and utterly Monica Geller, down to my last color-coded spreadsheet. And I’ll never be a Britta Perry or a Shirley Bennett, if we’re being honest. Though I have traits that both women possess, the fact of the matter is that I am actually an organized, driven, perfectionist, a reliable student and employee, and a romantic.

In other words, I am Annie Edison.

Annie Elizabeth (since her real middle name isn’t canon, it’s been established fanon that it is Elizabeth, so deal with it) Edison is one of my favorite female characters on television and there are a LOT of amazing female characters on television these days, for which I am thankful. But what really delights me about Annie as a young woman is that I relate to her, I admire her, and I root for her. In any television series (or movie, for that matter), there need to be characters that the audience consistently cheer on, ones that we desire to see succeed. And I desire that for Annie. She’s not without her faults, though, which is also what makes her a well-rounded character. Rather than portray the young academic woman as having her life completely and totally together, the writers and producers choose to highlight qualities and aspects of Annie’s character that make her likable, but also aren’t afraid to humanize her by making her annoy us or one of the other characters.

(As an aside, a lot of hardcore Annie fans like to hate on Britta – as do some Jeff/Annie shippers but that discussion will be saved for a little bit later – because there are qualities about the blonde that make her annoying or irritating, or because she antagonizes Annie. But what I think those people fail to remember is that ANNIE also isn’t perfect, is prone to judgment and mistakes, and though her manipulations and irritating habits may be more subtle than Britta’s or Jeff’s or Pierce’s, they’re no less frequent.)

It may seem baffling that I’m writing a post entitled “In Defense of Annie Edison” when I spent the last paragraph explaining how the character annoys and grates other characters and their nerves, but I think that, when examining a favorite character or favorite series or favorite pairing, it is necessary to not only explain what is right and good with them/it, but also examine why they are flawed. Because that’s the beauty of Annie, the beauty of Community, and the beauty of life in general: we’re all broken people in a broken world, but somehow when we’re around these weird, damaged people, we learn from them, we grow, and we make each other slightly less broken. Watching perfect people is boring – it’s dull and unexciting because there’s no way those people can ever grow or learn or change. They remain stagnantly perfect. But watching Jeff Winger grow from a selfish ex-lawyer into a humanized man who is (albeit) still broken but learning to love and feel again? Well that’s beautiful.

And watching Annie progress from an insecure, love-sick teenager into a young woman with heart and strength and determination is just as beautiful.

So here’s what I intend to accomplish with this blog post: I am not going to attempt to sway you into the belief that Annie Edison is the best character on Community. While she is certainly MY favorite character, I will not force you to subscribe to that same opinion. I WILL, however, spend some time examining: Annie’s development from the first season until the fourth season, the issues I have with the unevenness of the writing of her character, why I feel she is misunderstood and harshly judged in the fandom as a result, and why she deserves love, happiness, and the chance to be more than a stereotype. And maybe, if I’m up for it, I’ll talk about her relationship with Jeff.

Maybe.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Jenn's Pick: Top 15 DCOMs (Disney Channel Original Movies)


As I sat sipping on my morning coffee, I was thrown into a tidal wave of nostalgia. Chelsea’s daily #top3 on Twitter yesterday centered around our choice of the top three best DCOMs, or Disney Channel Original Movies. Scrolling through Wikipedia, I realized something: between the years of 1997 and 2010, I watched every single DCOM that was available to watch (and I do, in fact, still remember clearly watching Under Wraps as a child).

I was born in 1989, which meant that I grew up in the 90s and early 2000s and that was Disney’s prime for movies and television shows. I idolized Lizzie McGuire and Ren Stevens. I longed to go to camp like the kids on Bug Juice. I had a crush on Shawn Ashmore long before he was ever in X-Men or The Following because of Cadet Kelly. I remember when Lindsay Lohan was an adorable teenager and the period for a few years where Brenda Song starred in nearly every DCOM.

Up until the time I was in seventh grade, I was convinced that I wanted to travel the world, studying plants and animals as a naturalist. I grew up watching Going Wild With Jeff Corwin, you see, and wanted to do exactly what he did. It was only when I began taking a Writing class in seventh grade that I desired to become a writer and not a naturalist. (I guess I also didn’t really think about the fact that becoming a naturalist would require me to do well in science and… yeah, that just wasn’t going to happen.)

Disney Channel was an impactful force in my childhood, and DCOMs were just as influential. Having seen, as I said, nearly every DCOM that was made over the span of thirteen years, it was difficult to narrow my favorites down to a list of fifteen. But, alas, as my friend Kim has always advised me, sometimes you have to be decisive and make some cuts. And so, below this cut, you will find a list of my top 15 DCOMs.

So hold onto your nostalgia, folks, and prepare your feels because we’re about to kick it old school. ;)