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, May 30, 2014

Jenn's Pick: 100 Things I Like



Earlier today, Brittany asked each of us to list things that we like. It was so wonderful to see everyone posting about some of their favorite things, whether the things that were being noted were people or places or abstract ideas. Everyone has something (or multiple somethings) in their life that fill them with joy. It can be the simplest thing, like that feeling you get from cuddling up in warm sheets from the dryer. Or it can be something significant like the memory of a child's birth.

Whatever fills you with joy and happiness is important because it triggers something within you. It triggers a memory or an emotion and in an instant, suddenly your entire day has turned around. So, beneath the cut, I expanded on my answer to Brittany and I've listed 100 things that make me happy. Bear in mind that this isn't an end-all-be-all list and I've very likely forgot something that makes me happy. 

Feel more than welcome to fill the comments with things that make YOU happy, no matter how small or silly they may seem. Don't be shy and don't be embarrassed. If something causes you joy, share it with the rest of us. And who knows, maybe you'll find that other people enjoy the same little and big things that you do! :)

The Crazy Ones 1x02 "The Spectacular" (How to Fail Spectacularly)


"The Spectacular"
Original Airdate: October 3, 2013

I don’t like failure.

I am a type-A perfectionist who always expects herself to be the best. In grade school all the way up through my junior year of college, I never received lower than a B on a report card. The only C I have ever received in my life was in a college Economics class. See, I don’t just strive not to fail; I strive to not come anywhere CLOSE to failure. Grades are quantifiable successes and failures. I’ve failed in other aspects of my life, of course. I’ve failed to make the correct decisions or do an assignment when I should or spend my time well. But I’m like Sydney Roberts, really, because I’m much more comfortable when I don’t take risks. I enjoy routines and things that are safe and predictable. I’m not great at “winging it” or being impulsive. What Simon teaches his daughter throughout the episode, however, is that it is one thing to fail but it is another to limit yourself and your potential. Elsewhere in “The Spectacular,” Zach and Andrew butt heads when Simon decides to try and reach out to the latter.

But before we discuss the importance of realizing you ARE capable and special and talented even if you fail (a message worth hearing, might I add), let’s discuss the plot of the episode, shall we?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jenn's Pick: What I'm Watching This Summer


I always looked forward to summertime as a kid and a teenager. I counted down the days that were left in school and anticipated embracing those days of summer where I could sleep in, roll out of bed, and play outside all afternoon – the days where you smelled like sunscreen and chlorine and sat on the back porch, cooking out with your family and friends. I remember the days of riding bikes down the street and then going to bed that night, excited that I got the chance to do the same thing over again the following day. Now, as a twenty-five year old in the working world, I don’t get the chance to have a real summer. I can go on small vacations here and there throughout the year and maybe spend an extended weekend at the beach, but my office doesn’t shut down from May to July because it’s summertime.

The best part about summer when you’re an avid television watcher such as me is that you get a break from your favorite television shows. Don’t get me wrong: I love the series that I watch throughout the normal TV year, but it’s nice to have a few months where I don’t have to frantically fit shows into my schedule or salvage DVR space for them. There are fewer shows that air new episodes of a series during the summer (mostly cable shows like Suits on USA),  but for the most part, summertime is a time to catch up on all of those series that you’ve been meaning to watch during the normal season. 

In the spirit of summer, I’ve decided to list some of the shows I am diving into over the next few months. Here, folks, is what I am watching while my favorite shows are on hiatus!

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Crazy Ones 1x01 "Pilot" (Crazy Is As Crazy Does)


"Pilot"
Original Airdate: September 26, 2013

What separates a good television comedy pilot from a great television comedy pilot? I asked myself this when I began to sift through the crop of new comedies during the fall of 2013. What I discovered as I watched an array of new series was this: a good television comedy makes you laugh. A good television comedy has intriguing characters and witty dialogue. But a GREAT television comedy has something extra: heart. It has a soul that the show is grounded in – a kernel of truth that drives the stories and characters. When I watched The Crazy Ones, I knew that this was a special show. It was a pilot that made me laugh, made me engage with the characters, but also exemplified what it was, at its core. This was a show that was driven by the heart and soul of a father-daughter relationship. It’s admirable to create a series that makes you laugh, but when a comedy manages to tug at your heartstrings and ground itself in a foundation that is stronger than a punch line, you know you have something special.

The Crazy Ones may have been cancelled (long may it live through my blog and re-watches), but I decided to revive it this year for #SummerRewatch. Throughout the summer, I’ll re-watch the entire season and write reviews  like this one each week. Because, quite honestly, no show ever dies, even if it is cancelled. And The Crazy Ones still has so much life left to give. So today, let’s discuss the pilot episode, shall we? I’ll talk about why the pilot of this comedy series essentially encompassed everything that the show was about while it was on the air. And I’ll probably also talk a lot about how sad I am that it’s gone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Why You Should Care About 'The Fault in Our Stars'


When I was in high school, I was close friends with a group of about seven other people. We stayed in touch after graduation, planned holiday parties with white elephant gift exchanges together. We settled back into a sense of normalcy even though our lives were each headed in different directions. I loved these people and though our little group has since fractured, I’m close friends with some of them still. I even live with one of them. Back in high school, my friends were interested in things like Doctor Who and hipster bands, but they were also invested in a particular author. My friend Karlee was, and still is, a huge fan of this person’s work. She met him. His name is John Green.

It seems logical that my group would become invested in John Green’s book Paper Towns. Green used to live in central Florida, where I currently reside and where my friends did, too, and Paper Towns is a novel that is set in our neighboring town of Winter Park. We passed that book around our little circle, each of us getting the opportunity to read it after the other had finished. (We passed around Looking For Alaska, too, but somehow I didn’t get looped into that exchange and have yet to actually read it.) When you’re a teenager, it makes sense that you read young adult novels. I was mildly obsessed with authors like Meg Cabot during my youth. But when The Fault in Our Stars was released, I was just about to turn twenty-three years old. Long gone were the days of high school and “youth,” and yet… I requested that Karlee lend me this book. (She did one better and bought me a signed copy of it for my birthday). Why? Because I was desperate to know this author that my friends had admired so much in high school. I was anxious to hear his voice and get to know his characters. And I was not disappointed with what I discovered.

With the release of the movie version of Green’s TFiOS (as all the cool kids call it these days) imminent, I thought I would write a little post on why you – yes, you – should care about this novel and why you should care about young adult novels, too.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Jenn's Pick: My Top 10 "Comfort Food" TV Shows


When you’ve had a bad day or a bad week or are just plain exhausted by the prospect of doing anything, you usually turn to something common and familiar and soothing. You usually turn to comfort food. Everyone has a different type of comfort food. For some people, it’s macaroni and cheese. It’s a food that makes you feel warm and happy and content. For others, it’s pizza or pasta or a certain type of dessert. The element that sets comfort food apart from normal food is this: security. It’s a food that fills you with some sort of nostalgia because it triggers fond memories or comforting reminders. It’s usually a food associated with your childhood, perhaps one that your mom or dad prepared for you. It is a normal food that makes you feel like everything will be okay, even when it isn’t.

There are certain foods that people associate with comfort and certain television shows, too. When you’re having a bad day, perhaps you go home, settle onto the couch with your macaroni and cheese, and select that ONE episode from that ONE show that you always know makes you feel better. There are certain “comfort food” television shows out there and – like actual comfort food – these vary from person to person. But I thought I would share ten of my “comfort food” television shows with you and the episodes that can almost immediately cure whatever bad day I am having.

Cuddle up with that blanket and click below the cut, because here we go!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Oh, Home. Let Me Go Home. Home is Wherever I'm With You (Goodbye, Greendale)


How do you properly say goodbye to something that has been a large part of your life for five years? I think that the only way you can learn to bid adieu to something so close to your heart is through remembering what was great about your relationship. When I began watching Community, I only knew Jaime within the fandom. She had been my best friend for years and I trusted her judgment enough to watch the show. Slowly, I began to find more people to connect with who were fans of the show – I met Kim and Sage through it and now barely a day goes by when I don’t talk to them over GChat about their lives. I’ve gained amazing people in my circle of friends – people who are there to send me good vibes and prayers when I’m going through medical issues or interviewing for a job or having a crappy day. These are the people who I’ve also witness encounter their own struggles and triumphs. I cheer when something goes right for them, no matter how small. I offer hugs and condolences when they’re hurting. The funniest part is that I’ve met hardly any of these people in person.

Community has been my longest fandom and it’s the one I’ve been most involved in. As season five drew to a close, I felt more distant from the show that I previously worshipped, but not from the people who were fans of it. I’ll never experience the same sort of bond that I’ve shared with this fandom. And while I was ready for Community to end, I know that – in my heart of heart – I’ll never really lose the people that I’ve grown close to through the sitcom. When Dan Harmon created this series, I would place money on the fact that he never anticipated that this little show would draw people together, people from all around the world of all nationalities and social classes and religions. What Community was as a sitcom will always be special to me, not because I always agreed with the writing choices and not because I think it’s the best sitcom to ever air. Community will always hold a special place in my heart because of the people I’ve met through it.

In order to say goodbye to Community, I thought that I would do my best to write a giant thank-you letter to the people who have poured years of their lives into it. The cast and the crew of this show always astounded me with their positivity and accessibility to fans. They always cared about US and so I thought the best way to say goodbye to Greendale would be to show them how much I care about them. If you’re ready, grab some tissues and settle in because we’re going to bid some delightful Human Beings farewell.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Jenn's Pick: My Top 20 Nick/Jess Moments


When I first started watching New Girl, I immediately fell in love with the idea of Nick and Jess becoming a romantic couple. I never ship couples from the pilot episodes, but I did with these two. I can’t put my finger on it and I suspect that the writers couldn’t quite either, but there was something inherently interesting about the way that Jake Johnson and Zooey Deschanel played off one another in their scenes that made me believe that they had potential.

It’s often hard to find great chemistry between characters on a television series, but this is something that Jake and Zooey have never lacked. They’ve always seemingly had a natural rapport and easiness as Nick and Jess, which made the two characters so appealing. Seemingly, Nick and Jess are polar opposites. When we meet both of them in the pilot, we are introduced to a gruff, curmudgeonly bartender in the character of Nick and a quirky, idealistic young woman in Jess. But as the audience grew to know and understand these characters over the course of a few seasons, we learned that they were more similar than immediately presumed. Both had suffered through the loss of a love, and it shaped the way that they viewed the world around them (for better or worse). Both had goals for themselves; both cared a lot about the people around them and had high expectations for the way that they should be treated in return.

Eventually, Nick and Jess grew from these goofy, weird, unexpected friends to romantic interests and – most recently – exes. The road has been paved with some amazing and delightful moments in both their friendship and romantic relationship and while we anxiously await the return of New Girl next fall, I thought I would ease our hiatus woes with a countdown of my top 20 Nick/Jess moments of all time. (I could have easily added more than 20, but I refrained.) So, if you’re ready, let’s take a look at some of MY favorite moments between these characters. Some are significant and others are so simple that you may have blinked and missed them during an episode. Feel free to add your own or rank your own favorite moments in the comments section.

Grab an Old Fashioned and settle in because we’re about to count down my favorite Nick and Jess moments of all time!

* GIF credit goes to everyone but me, since I'm not talented at things.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

New Girl 3x23 "Cruise" (Aca-Awkward)


"Cruise"
Original Airdate: May 6, 2014

Have you ever been forced – actually forced – into a conversation that you had no way of escaping? I can only remember one time that I was in a conversation like this. In high school, a guy I liked had just found out, through a mutual friend, that I had feelings for him. In an event that I try to repress, he confronted me in the courtyard of our school. I was sitting on a little half-circle cement wall that I frequented in the mornings with friends before class. He stood in front of me, the tall and lanky guy that he was, and explained what my friend had told him. And then, of course, he friendzoned me. But I was trapped in that moment, mostly paralyzed by emotional turmoil and trying to not burst out into tears before seven in the morning. I had no way of escaping the conversation – no friend came to drag me away by the crook of my elbow. No one interrupted us. Though the courtyard was chattering away, I was stuck in a conversation I didn’t want to be in, growing more mortified by the moment.

I guess in retrospect, that wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I did, actually, have an escape. I could have skillfully dodged the guy and darted into the performing arts halls. It’s a lot harder to avoid a conversation with someone when you’re sharing a room with them. It’s even harder when you’re sharing a room on a boat floating out in the middle of the ocean. This is what happened in New Girl’s third season finale appropriately titled “Cruise.” The premise is pretty simple: Nick and Jess booked a non-refundable cruise when they were together because it seemed like a good idea. But now they’re broken up and would be out a LOT of money if they didn’t go… so they drag the rest of the loft and Cece onto the boat with them. Everyone thinks this is a bad idea. For once in New Girl history, EVERYONE thinks something is a bad idea. And Schmidt is the one who vocalizes the notion I stated earlier in this paragraph: it’s impossible to escape from a conversation or an awkward moment when you’re on a boat that is floating in the middle of the ocean. There is, quite frankly, no escape except to jump.

Nick and Jess, however, are convinced throughout the majority of the episode that they can maintain some semblance of normalcy (this fails) in spite of their recent break-up. The former romantic pairing won’t make the trip weird. But what I loved most about “Cruise” was the eventual acceptance of this weirdness – of THEIR weirdness – by Nick, Jess, and the rest of the gang. It was really refreshing to see each of these characters not tolerate the weirdness and tension from Nick and Jess but actually decide to actively try and fix their friends. And I don’t believe that this desire to fix the pair was spawned through selfish motives. In fact, it is one of the most genuine and selfless acts that Winston, Coach, Schmidt, and Cece have collectively performed. They want their friends to be better because they know they HAVE to be better; Nick and Jess both have to heal and the only way to do that is by embracing the pain and moving forward, not avoiding it. Nick and Jess, as I have noted before, are very good at running away from their problems (“Table 34,” “Tinfinity,” etc.). What was so refreshing about “Cruise,” then was that it reminded us and them that you can only run away from your problems for so long. Eventually, you get stuck. And the only way to get yourself un-stuck is to confront those problems or… well, jump overboard.

Report Cards Are In! (Grading This Season of My Favorite Shows)


I never worried about report card days in school. I knew, usually without fail, that I would see all A’s and B’s. I had never even gotten a C on a progress report or a report card until college (darn you, Microeconomics course!). I was always an overachiever and a perfectionist and, to be honest, I am still the exact same way today. Since kids all across the country are wrapping up their classes and getting ready for summer, receiving their report cards and taking their finals, I thought it only appropriate that I would present my TV report card for this season!

So below the cut, get ready to get graded: I scored the most recent seasons of some of my television shows, noted the best episodes of their season, and explained why these shows got the grades that they did. Cross your fingers and close your eyes, then open them and see this year’s TV report card.