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, June 28, 2015

Series: Summer Lovin' - Week 4


It's finally summer! HUZZAH.

(In Florida, it has been summer for a few months. I kind of wish someone had waited to tell the state that it was summer until like, today. Humidity is nothing to celebrate, y'all.) Since it's finally and officially summertime -- and the dream Emmy ballot mini-series will continue to roll out in the coming days and weeks -- that means we're returning to our season-specific series: Summer Lovin'! Be sure to check the tag if you missed the first three weeks because we've all been loving a whole lot of fun series, webseries, movies, and books over the past month. We would hate for you to miss out on these gems as well.

So, without further adieu, let's start talking about what we loved this week. Joining me from my faithful crew are:
  • Our resident Marvel girl, Alice Walker
  • Movie-lover and novelist Lynnie Purcell
  • Newest contributor and snarky humor expert, Megan Mann
  • Resident X-Files lover and general awesome human, Lizzie
  • Jaime's greatest nemesis and my loudest cheerleader, Chelsea
Let's begin!

Orange is the New Black 3x04 “Finger in the Dyke” (The Wrong Side of the Bed) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


“Finger in the Dyke”

In prison, where everyone wears the same clothes, and inmates are more like statistics than people, individuals get overlooked. And in Litchfield, it’s not just the people that get overlooked, it’s their problems, too. The company touring Litchfield to decide if they want to acquire the prison treated the women as nothing more than animals that might cost too much to keep around the house. They sneered at the cost of women’s “health requirements,” and the fact that women tend to eat less than men was lauded for keeping costs down.

It was not the best day to show off Litchfield on a tour. Partly because the inmates are still sleeping without any mattresses or pillows, partly because the women’s periods all synced up, and partly because the inmates are all dealing with various losses. Bennett has been missing for two episodes, which is two weeks in prison-time, and Daya is starting to lose it and take it out on the breakfast eggs. Red and Morello are falling apart after Nicky left — Morello is without lipstick, so you know it’s serious. (That might sound sarcastic, but it’s not.) Suzanne and Taystee are both still processing losing Vee, and in a touching scene, they turn only to each other to mourn the monster that they truly miss. Alex is still struggling with losing the life outside of prison that was just ripped back out of her hands, and she turns to Piper for comfort. But Piper is on her period like everyone else, and on top of that it’s “June 7th” aka her 32nd birthday.

The only people who seem to be doing well this episode are Big Boo and Pennsatucky, two unlikely friends who I’m very much enjoying. Boo doesn’t seem to be missing Nicky at all, and she bounces back by forming a plan with Pennsatucky to take advantage of the religious extremists sending her money in prison. Boo gets a makeover from Sophia and Morello to look more ladylike so she can act as a reformed lesbian to impress the church, which connects to her flashbacks where her parents wanted her to look “normal” instead of butch.

To feel invisible is one of the cruelest emotions. That’s why Vee had such an impact on Suanne — Vee saw that she had value, even if Suzanne’s value to Vee was just to be used in her power ploys. Boo’s parents made her feel invisible her whole life and never accepted that she was different and unique. Boo’s speech to her father in the hospital was touching and so well done. “I refuse to be invisible,” Boo said, and she meant it. She fought every day to be seen and to be herself, and she can’t go through her plan to scam the church if it means covering up who she really is. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is not apologize for taking up space and let yourself be seen.

Boo’s struggle with saying goodbye to her mother fits right in with this season’s theme of motherhood. Red is Nicky’s mother figure, and Red feels like she has lost her own child after Nicky was taken away to max. Taystee and Suzanne both looked up to Vee like a mother, and they are reeling from losing that figure, even if it wasn’t a healthy relationship. Daya is about to become a mother, and the one person she was counting on to help her through this just disappeared without a word. Now all that’s left for Daya might be her actual mother, and she doesn’t seem like the best source of help and compassion.

Other notes:
  • Inmate of the episode is definitely Pennsatucky, the wisest schmuck at Litchfield. Thank God Boo got her to brush her teeth.
  • WHAT is going on with this flirtation between Healy and Red? I for real cannot deal with it. 
  • “That’s the great thing about men; they don’t have uteruses.” (But if men did have uteruses, they’d be called duderuses, thanks to Tina on Bob’s Burgers.)
  • That guy Danny with the clipboard that Caputo kept talking down to is definitely in charge of the whole company, right?
  • How funny was Maritza questioning if Bennett slept with Aleida?
  • “Seeing you like that was scarier than seeing a dolphin penis at SeaWorld.” 

Rookie Blue 6x01 "Open Windows" (Strength In All The Right Places) [Contributor: Hope]


"Open Windows"
Original Airdate: June 25, 2015

Hey everyone! I’m new here, and I am happy to be reviewing Rookie Blue for the next couple of months. I’ve been watching this show since the pilot, and I’m so happy it’s back for 11 more episodes this summer. I hope you’ll join me in watching it, and bear with me during my newbie effort at reviewing.

While this episode focused a lot on Andy and the case of the week, it did a good job touching base on all – or most of – the various characters’ story arcs, even if it did so briefly. I’ll start my discussion with Chris Diaz, because his storyline is bugging me. Chris was always the good-hearted, optimistic guy, and that was a wonderful thing. He balanced out the original five rookies perfectly, and while he wasn’t always the most dramatic character, he made up for it by say, bringing in a tin of muffins or bringing home a puppy by hiding it in his jacket. This storyline, first with his downward spiral into addiction, and now with his relationship with Inspector Jarvis’s wife… it’s only making me cringe. However, this revelation is the perfect opportunity for the show to turn his character back around. He didn’t know she was even married until this episode, and this would be the place for him to do another 180°.

Moving on. Nick wants to join the ETF (like SWAT, but they do more psychological profiling and negotiating) and now he’s also stuck with Duncan as his rookie. Traci had to be interrogated in this episode, and I am interested to see if it will impact her own interrogations in the future. Gail is still in the process of adopting Sophie. Dov has known about Marlo’s pregnancy for a while now, but hasn’t told anyone, which says a lot about how trustworthy he is (although his first loyalties probably go to Andy, so it’s interesting that he kept it from her. It probably helped that she was on vacation) and he’s still upset with Chloe. Chloe is still her babbling, hilarious self, holding down the desk with Juliet, who… well, I don’t know what to make of her. I want Nick to be happy, because he’s such a good guy. He was so understanding with Andy when they broke up (and a great Breakup Buddy before that, when they were just friends), and is generally good-natured about everything. The last thing he needs is get wrapped up in whatever is going on with Juliet. She seems to be a spy for somebody and not actually a transfer from Vancouver. Who is she investigating, and should we be concerned? Maybe she’s watching Inspector Jarvis – because, for the record, I totally think he planted that bomb in the evidence locker.

Now we’ve come to Andy, who had a rough episode. First, she’s attacked by a man who climbs in through the balcony. Then she’s told that 15 Division can’t warn their citizens about this criminal because it will compromise the investigation. She argues: “I’m not upset. I’m invested.” It was such a great topic to tackle, because it was such a complicated decision. You obviously don’t want to undo any progress that’s been made in the case, but the people have the right to know and protect themselves. These cops have the right and responsibility to protect them. It didn’t go so well but… 15 Division tried, and their hearts were in the right place.

Then there was the news about Marlo and her pregnancy. I am SO glad they didn’t draw this out. Minutes into the episode, Marlo tells Sam. Sam’s first reaction (other than an expression adequately described by the emoticon O.O) was to call Andy and tell her. How Sam handled and reacted to this shone a spotlight on his character growth over the series and kept him completely in-character, and it was just so well done. Not only that, but Andy’s reaction was just what it should have been for her. She needs space and walks away, but she’s not afraid to express her feelings. Later when she’s with Traci at the police department, she’s crying. And when Traci asks if she’s okay, she simply says “No.” She’s not going to pretend she’s feeling differently than she is, with Traci or Sam. She’s going to feel, she’s going to come to terms with it, and she’s going to do that in her own way. Traci doesn’t ask any questions and just supports her.

I love how the female characters on this show are so strong – they’re cops, I mean, come on – but being strong doesn’t mean they can’t cry, that they can’t be unnerved if someone broke into their apartment, and that they don’t have trouble doing a pull-up like Chloe did, because, let’s face it, that’s HARD. I would cry. I would freak out. And I most certainly would not have managed that pull-up. They can take down bad guys any day, but they’re human in a way we can all relate to. They don’t have an unattainable, unrelatable level of emotional strength. They can be hurt, confused, and just plain tired of the drama, which is perfectly acceptable and does not at all compromise their strength.

So now we have two ongoing cases: the evidence-locker bomb case (Jarvis, I’m watching you) and the case from this episode. How much will they be a part of this season? Stay tuned, and I'll be back to talk about episode two next week.

Notepad:
  • “You just chew and then you smile, you chew and then you smile.” Gail about eating her brother’s presumably terrible food. I loved the delivery of this line.
  • Did we ever get to see that mind-map Chloe and Dov made…? I don’t feel like we did, and that’s a crime.
  •  “I need a bro.” Poor Nick. Duncan is going to drive him crazy and it’s going to be hilarious.
  • “That would be like Oliver and Andy. Oh, gross. Wipe the mind. Wipe the mind.” Complete with mind-wiping hand motions from the one and only Chloe.
  • Guy who tried to break into his ex’s apartment via the balcony: “Okay, [I’ll stop] but I’m going to fall.” Andy: “So then fall.” And this was BEFORE her day got even worse.
  • Can Oliver Shaw please be the staff sergeant of 15 Division forever? Please and thank you.
  • “She’s genuine.” – Juliet speaking the truth about Chloe. Can we have a spin-off where Chloe just spurts her Chloe-isms all day? And can Felicity Smoak be a guest character on it?
  • Anyone have thoughts or quotes to share? I’d love to read them.

#TheXFilesRewatch 1x01 "Pilot" (Sorry, Nobody Down Here But the FBI's Most Unwanted) [Contributor: Lizzie]


"Pilot"
Original Airdate: September 10, 1993

How can I start anywhere in a re-watch of The X-Files but with the pilot? And I say this with the requisite amount of irony, because I, like many other fans didn’t really watch the pilot until Mulder and Scully were already so ingrained that watching these naïve and relatively untouched versions of our favorite characters makes us want to scream things like: "YOU HAVE TO TRUST EACH OTHER and JUST EACH OTHER, NO ONE ELSE, please, please pleaaaase, NO ONE ELSE."

But that’s a story for later. Much later. For now, let’s talk about how this series started.

(Side note: I’ve never been this excited to press play on something. Or to see the terribly old-fashioned block letters on the screen.)

The pilot begins, like most episodes of TV these days, not with our main characters, but with the crime/case of the week. This one seems to involve aliens, which is strange, because I didn’t think we were going to get the alien stuff in the first episode. Which just goes to show my memory cannot be trusted.

And this is a weird one, for sure, because if you see a light and a crazy dude coming at you in the middle of the woods, wouldn’t you like… I don’t know, scream? Try to run away? I know scary movies have shown that neither of those things actually work, but it’s still better than doing nothing. Isn’t it? Our victim does neither, and next thing we know, she’s dead. (This was to be expected, the show IS called The X-Files, yes, but you still need a body to investigate a crime, even in a show about the paranormal. The only thing to note about this particular death is that the actress looks remarkably like Scully, which I guess could be a coincidence, but, knowing Chris Carter, it probably wasn’t.)

The last words before the black screen and our first glimpse of the logo are: “It’s happening again, isn’t it?” and if that doesn’t just describe the whole premise of the show, I don’t know what does.

As I said before, we get our first X-Files logo, but not the music yet, and I never thought I’d miss music so much. It’s like The X-Files is not The X-Files without the song.

We meet Scully first, and I’m really glad she just walks around for ten seconds or so, because is her outfit throwing me off. I know fashion has changed A LOT in the past twenty years, but WHY would she wear that? It’s like three sizes too big for her, and I’m not even sure it was fashionable in 1993. Sinister Dude Number 1 (Blevins, I think), makes me forget all about fashion. And there’s Cancer Man in the corner, wow. I’d forgotten he was there from the beginning. Sinister Dude Number 2 (No idea about HIS name) gets straight to the point. We want you to spy on this Mulder guy. Of course, he uses other words, but I’m here to translate for you. They want her to use science to prove that Mulder is just a crazy dude chasing ghosts.

Scully shows a little personality, but just as we probably would in her position, she seems to agree. She makes a little joke, tries to please the bosses. It’s kind of cute, really, especially knowing what we know. In fact, the only thing this conversation doesn’t make clear is why exactly, if they’re going to all the trouble of assigning Mulder a partner, don’t they just… shut down the X-Files and reassign Mulder. Are they worried he won’t let it go? Are they using him for something? Why exactly do they want him there and, at the same time, don’t want him to be able to do his job? We won’t get an answer anytime soon, but it’s a good subplot and a nice introduction to the idea that something much bigger is going on here. And we’re only like, five minutes into the show.

Scully heads for Mulder’s office, and she looks thrilled with her assignment. Really, truly happy.

NOT.

And Mulder’s office, in case you didn’t know, is in the basement. We don’t know why. We also have no idea why someone is walking around casually as if this wasn’t, you know, the BASEMENT. Scully walks in and there’s sass from Mulder, a look of “What the hell did I get into?” from Scully and the POSTER, THE POSTER, but I can’t process because I’m drowning in feels. He’s being awfully flirty, and she looks very nice in this scene. I remember thinking, many years later, that I could have been imagining all the sexual tension, but oh, no, first scene, and it’s obvious that these actors have too much chemistry; these characters will never be just friends.

I also find it hilarious that, even before they knew they’d be assigned together, they both knew about the other. Although, either Mulder was a stalker, or he did know he was getting a partner, because, reading her thesis… a bit much, Mulder. A BIT MUCH.

Mulder is quick to explain the case in the craziest way possible. Scully tries to counteract with some common sense. It doesn’t work. (It never, ever works). They’re going to have to check it out in person.

And I wouldn’t even bring up the airplane scene while they head to the middle of nowhere, except for this. WHAT THE HELL IS THE UPHOLSTERY ON THOSE AIRPLANE SEATS?
My eyes will never recover.

Also, Scully’s clothing choices are becoming more and more suspect.

But seeing these two together makes my heart soar. I’ve missed them more than I can explain. I want to bang their heads together and make them, well, bang. NOW. Not in like, seven years or so. Sadly, I don’t have that power. I’m here to enjoy the ride. And the ride takes us to Bellefleur, Oregon, where, before the case is even mentioned, we’ve already experienced a funky radio and a car that mysteriously stops and then re-starts again without anyone kicking it or even attempting to pop the hood.

Don’t ever say The X-Files holds anything back.

Mulder responds, in typical Mulder fashion, by getting out the can of red spray paint that an always prepared FBI agent keeps in the trunk and marking the spot. He doesn’t offer much of an explanation to his way of thinking, and it’s weird, but Scully doesn’t say much, so we ignore it too. Weird show about weird things, so he gets a free pass, right? On with the case. First order of business: let’s exhume some people! Oh, and let’s use some clearly inept crews so they drop the casket and we are forced to run after it. The body inside looks like an alien, which, of course, considering this is only the first episode probably means it’s not.

Or maybe I’m wrong. I can’t remember Scully examining the body, though this is what she always does. I have a vague recollection of her finding an implant, but that’s about it. It’s like I’m watching this episode for the very first time!

Other things I don’t remember: The fact that this all seems to lead back to the Class of '89, the fact that guy whose body they exhumed confessed to the two other murders, the fact that he was in a psychiatric hospital or the fact that there are two more of his classmates in that hospital. Not that it really matters much in the grand scheme of things, Peggy O’Dell is in a wheelchair and Billy Miles is comatose, so it’s not like they have anything to do with what’s going on, right?

This is a very good pilot, and I’ll tell you why: it’s a good example of everything the show would end up developing. There’s Mulder/Scully banter, even a little bit of sexual tension, there’s tons of things we cannot explain, there’s shadowy government figures, and there are aliens! There’s also our favorite agents running into danger, because, of course, who needs common sense in a show like this?

Despite the fact that I know this is just the first episode, and our main characters are not about to get killed right away, I feel the sudden need to inform my TV screen that this is how scary movies usually start, with people running into dark forests. Not that they find much other than some strange ash on the ground, and creepy detective dude with a gun. Why is it that small town detectives are always painted as creepy?

When they’re driving away, a flash of very bad special effects light envelops them RIGHT on the spot the car malfunctioned earlier. When they open their eyes, nine minutes have disappeared, a fact that Mulder says, it’s commonly reported by aby alien abductees.

Cue disbelief.

Back in the motel, Scully examines the evidence, Mulder goes for a run, and then, well… it’s time for our gratuitous shot of the female lead half naked! Scully is, apparently, one of those people who has to take a shower before bed. (Like me!). Except, unlike me, she has to walk very slowly to the bathroom, drop her robe and stand in front of the mirror in her underwear, because … well, because.

Despite the fact that I said this episode was a very good example of what this show would turn out to be, it does tend to focus on Gillian Anderson’s beauty a little more than subsequent episodes will. I don’t remember many instances of our leading lady in underwear, and our leading lady in underwear running into Mulder’s room because she’s scared the two marks on her back are the same as the marks found in the victims is a one-off thing. (Although, to be honest, I would have been freaked out too. The marks are IDENTICAL. I have no idea how Mulder can just look at them and dismiss them as mosquito bites.) He does take his sweet time looking, though. The sexual tension is alive and well.

The scene afterwards is the scene that made us, well, shippers. It’s the reason why people write fanfic. In fact, if it weren’t for the fact that fanfic wasn’t as popular back in the day, I would have said this was Chris Carter’s evil plan all along.

Scully hugs Mulder after he reassures her that the marks on her backs are simply mosquito bites, and then, there’s a pause, and next thing we know, Scully is laying down in Mulder’s bed, covered up in a blanket as he sits on the floor and tells her about his sister.

Even I wrote a fanfic about what happens in between.

(I think.)

They get interrupted (OF COURSE) by a strange call (OF COURSE) and they rush out to find that Peggy O’Dell, previously wheel-chair bound Peggy O’Dell, mind you, has been killed by a car while WALKING AROUND. Which, a) Don’t walk around deserted roads at night, and b) DON’T WALK AROUND DESERTED ROADS AT NIGHT. Especially when you’re not even supposed to be able to walk.

Afterwards, they come back to the motel to find the whole thing is on fire and their evidence has been destroyed. Which, of course. Like I said, this is THE WHOLE SERIES IN A NUTSHELL. Good God. How did I watch nine years of them getting so close to proving something only to have all their evidence stolen?

Oh, yes, because of Mulder and Scully.

Moving on: Teresa, the daughter of the medical examiner who did the autopsies for the original victims wants to talk to them, and imagine that, she’s also from the Class of '89! She tells them she’s awoken in the middle of the woods several times, and that she needs their help, only for her father and creepy detective to show up and take her away.

With nothing left to do, Mulder and Scully decided to return to the cemetery, to, I presume, pick up a shovel and try to exhume the other bodies by themselves. Someone got there first, however. And it’s raining. Hard. Because that just makes the whole conversation more romantic, or something. Mulder has it all figured out -- it was Billy Miles! Scully laughs, but hey, at this point, what other option is there? Scully wants an explanation as much as Mulder does; she just needs proof. Her problem never is that she doesn’t want to believe, it’s that she isn’t as predisposed to believing everything as Mulder is.

They go back to the hospital to try to find their proof, and it’s there, in the form of sediment in Billy Miles’s feet, which... hard to get your feet dirty if you’re in a coma, and all. Scully takes a sample of the dirt and wants to go back to the forest to take another sample to compare it to, because, lost evidence and all.

Back in the woods, creepy detective Miles, who, by the way, is Billy’s father’s, finds his son offering up Teresa as a sacrifice to the alien gods or something, and there’s a bright light, and the alien gods must reject the sacrifice or something, because Teresa is unharmed, Billy comes back to himself and the weird marks in his back disappear. Mulder is there to witness it all. Scully is obviously not. That would be too easy.

Later, we watch Billy Miles explaining it all, under hypnosis. The aliens abducted them as punishment for partying in the forest (or because they were there, and it was easy, who knows?) and killed them when the tests they were performing failed. But, no proof, no dice, as Sinister Dude Number 1 informs Scully. Except Scully HAS proof. She had the implant on her pocket all along!

Of course, once she TURNS in the evidence, it’s lost forever. They even have a big evidence room for all their super-secret things, which seems like a really bad idea if you ask me, why keep ALL YOUR EVIDENCE in one place? But this is just the pilot, so they get a break. Especially when you consider what a good episode this is.

We even get a few things that will become standard X-Files trivia questions later on to close out the episode: Mulder calling Scully at 11:21 and the standard “Scully? It’s me” that’ll be used by both of them so much in the series that I even had it as a ringtone at one point.

And, that’s the end of this week’s journey into memory lane. It’s a brilliant pilot that touches upon all the elements that’ll become iconic in later years, and, even on re-watch, it’s an entertaining hour of television.

Quote of the episode:
Scully: Wait a minute, you're saying that time disappeared. Time can't just disappear. It's a universal invariant! 
Mulder: Not in this zip code.
Scary moment of the episode:
There are scarier episodes, of course, but the moment when Scully finds the marks on her back wins it for me this week. Later on we’ll get to be scared about what happens on this show, this time, we’re scared for Scully.

Mulder/Scully moment of the episode: 
There’s many, many to choose from, but I’ll go with semi-naked Scully throwing herself in Mulder’s arms. It’s a scary situation, and though they’ve only just met, this sows the seeds of trust that’ll remain.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hannibal 3x04 "Aperitivo" (Defenestration) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


"Aperitivo"
Original airdate: June 25, 2015

Jack, Will, and Alana all return to the moment that they died and came back to life by Hannibal’s hand. Jack literally died, his heart must have stopped, but everyone’s lives were metaphorically over the second they saw Hannibal’s true self that rainy night. Like a baptism in blood, they were reborn, and their lives now are split into BC (Before Cannibal) and AD (After Death).

Religion pops up over and over again this season — in just this episode, Mason Verger asks Alana if she has accepted Jesus and Jack visits a church during Bella’s funeral — but these characters subscribe only to the religion of Hannibal. Alana claims she doesn’t need religion (she can appreciate Old Testament revenge just fine on her own, thank you very much), but even she isn’t immune to the cult of Hannibal. They study him, live and die by him, and right now they are all devoted to him in some way or another.

Dr. Frederick Chilton makes his triumphant return in this episode and looks only a little worse for wear. That is, until he takes off his makeup and removes his false teeth to show Mason Verger his real scars. They are all scarred now, but only Mason’s and Frederick’s scars are so openly visible. Everyone else can hide their scars with clothes or a smile.

Alana returns in this episode as well (thank goodness), and she looks like a stronger, bolder version of her previous self. Has she ever worn blood red lipstick before? It looks good on her. The only physical indication that remains from her defenestration is the cane she carries. (Did you see how I dropped in defenestration so casual right there? It means the action of throwing something out the window. Who knew!)

Alana’s new AD self is setting the stage for something BC Alana would never have agreed to: revenge. She is manipulating and pulling strings and doing what she needs to do to get Hannibal caught. And that means sending Will back toward the monster himself. Old Alana would know that’s not healthy and would want to protect him, but new Alana only wants Hannibal, and she’ll play by his rules to get what she wants.

I love this direction for Alana. Her clothes are brighter, but her soul is darker, and it makes so much sense. When she didn’t see Hannibal for what he was, she was a pawn that got in the way of Will and Jack’s plans. But that old self shattered when her bones did, and this Alana will be no one’s pawn. With her pale skin, dark hair, and red lips, she looks like a porcelain doll, but she isn’t fragile anymore.

While most of the characters returned to the moment they metaphorically died, Bella actually did die, from the cancer she’s had since season one. Her cancer mirrors Hannibal’s path. Once hidden and lurking, it’s progressed at the same time the truth about Hannibal spread to everyone’s consciousness and finally took over. I kept wondering where Jack and Bella’s family and friends were when she was dying, or where they were during the funeral. But that they never appear gives a feeling that these characters are all alone in the world, and that the world revolves entirely around Hannibal. Instead of loved ones at Bella’s funeral, there was only Will and a card from Hannibal himself. They are all irreparably isolated, and the only other people in their lives are people who are also circling closer and closer to Hannibal.

Bella’s scenes with Jack were touching. Even after she died, Jack imagined Bella, dressed in white, healthy, and looking at him lovingly. He wasn’t the only one to imagine loved ones as he wished they were. Will imagined dinner with Hannibal and what might have been if he had chosen the life of running away with him instead of running after him. As usual, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t, and it’s like Will’s imagination has run out on him and taken over the whole show.

The scenes with Margot and Mason don’t include dream imagery, perhaps because Mason is nightmarish enough on his own. Mason and Frederick deconstructed their faces, and Mason went through a surgery that exposed his jawbone and made him look like a skeleton, and as far as I could tell, that was all in real life. (Yup, that’s nightmarish enough for me.) Mason has never been very subtle and he tends to say whatever he’s thinking, so it doesn’t seem like he has a rich interior life for his imagination. I’m happy to see the Vergers again — mostly Margot, let’s be real.

Earlier this week NBC announced they wouldn’t be renewing Hannibal for season four. There’s a chance someone else like Amazon or another channel could pick it up, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. But either way, I’ll be here every week for the remaining episodes, enjoying every disgusting, beautiful moment.

#SaveHannibal

Dessert:
  • Aperitivo is a drink to stimulate the appetite, generally an alcoholic drink served before a meal. Like pre-gaming, kind of.
  • The scene where Will imagines what would have happened if he killed Jack with Hannibal was like a ballet. Their moves were graceful and coordinated, and the music was beautiful.
  • I love that Alana finally interacted with Margot. It’s about time the Hannibal women had some scenes together.
  • Definitely not enough Bedelia. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Suits 5x01 "Denial" (Fixed Point)


"Denial"
Original Airdate: June 24, 2015

There are a lot of inevitabilities in life that I don't enjoy accepting. Chief among them? "Change is a part of life." As a perfectionist and a bit of a control freak and yeah, someone who deals with anxiety, I don't really adjust well to change. I love schedules. I love routines. I love normalcy. I take the same route to work day after day. I eat at the same places, for the most part. I shop at the same grocery stores. And to some people, this sounds appealing. To some it sounds absolutely dull. The reason that I'm often so fearful of change is because change is unpredictable. It's an unknown. I don't like how I can't plan for the unknown variables. I'd rather live in denial of change occurring than embrace it. (It's a character flaw I'm working through.)

Last season of Suits, the finale smacked us in the face (a few times) with some heavy emotional whiplash. Donna left Harvey. Donna left Harvey because she needed to be healthy and staying with him -- working for him when he couldn't be honest with her and when he pushed aside his and her feelings repeatedly -- was not healthy. It was a cycle. So Donna broke it and she decided to quit and work for Louis. See, in "Not Just A Pretty Face," Louis vocalized how important Donna truly was. He told her -- genuinely -- in the episode that she was valuable. And he backed his words up with actions: he listened to Donna when she told him that he was dealing with grief over losing Norma and that's why he was yelling obscenities. Donna was able to glean something from that relationship, with those interactions, that was sorely missing in her relationship with Harvey.

So she left. And that left Harvey wrecked. Throughout the entire premiere, Harvey is stuck in that very common, very first stage of grief: denial. He doesn't think the change is permanent. Six weeks after Donna leaves, he's in a therapist's office and he doesn't want to tell her the real reason he can't sleep, the whole story of what happened with Donna, or admit that he has a problem. Pride has always been one of Harvey's greatest vices. It's an amazing weapon when he's in the midst of a trial or a fight at the firm, on occasion. Pride often motivates Harvey to get the job done when nothing else will. But pride leads to denial and in the season premiere, we find that the ripple effects of Harvey's denial are far-reaching and of great consequence. Let's discuss it a bit more, including the effects on Mike/Rachel, Louis and Donna's new relationship, and Harvey's breakdowns.

'Pretty Little Liars': Rosewood Roundup ("Don't Look Now") [Contributor: Megan Mann]


Rosewood Roundup: "Don't Look Now"
(Original Airdate: June 23, 2015)

Hello and welcome to the first episode of the Rosewood Roundup! As this is my first recap of the Pretty Little Liars, allow me a slight background setup. I never wanted to watch this show. I saw people freak out all over my Twitter and was like, “Ugh, I can’t do this! It’s just bad television.”

Oh, how wrong I was my friends.

I purchased the DVDs on Black Friday one year and watched the first four episodes on a flight home from LA in 2013 and then just never touched them. I randomly decided to watch an episode or two when my boyfriend was at work one day last year and here I am now writing a recap. I came to the dark side and boy am I glad to be here. Okay, let’s get to the episode now, shall we? First, a bit of a recap for those in need.

We started this season off back in the dollhouse that A has hid the Liars and Mona in. Once the premiere episode starts, we discover quite early on that we are in for the darkest season of Pretty Little Liars yet. While we don’t get to see exactly what happens to them once their doors slam shut, we do hear screams before we cut to two weeks later. We are now closer than ever to discovering who A is and with that information being within arms reach, it ups the stakes. The episode ends with the girls escaping the dollhouse.

In the second episode, we see the girls try to cope with being out of the dollhouse and back in their homes. You know, the rooms that A managed to duplicate in the dollhouse. Weirdly, only Hanna seems to freak out and realize that she needs to change her room. For all that they went through, you would assume she wouldn't be alone. Ella tells Aria that her dad has talked to the police and the girls won’t have to talk until they're ready. Duh, of course they’re not ready, but Aria blames Andrew anyway. Girl, why are you lying? Sarah shows up at Emily’s house and says she’s run away. Well, that’s weird.

Then LAST week, it’s all basically a big to do about Andrew being A and how the girls just have to be right because otherwise they’re no closer to the truth and to being free from A than they were before the dollhouse. The girls try to go back to school but can barely manage to do so. Something seems super fishy about Sarah and by the end of the episode, Andrew is released because obviously him being A is too easy and he gives the girls the total verbal beatdown they deserved. Also, there was that super uber creepy last scene where Jason and Ali are finally getting answers and A IS RIGHT OUTSIDE. I almost quit then and there, guys. But answers.

Now, in last night's episode "Don't Look Now," we actually started to get answers. Or sort of, I guess. The episode started with Ali telling the girls what her dad had relayed to her and Jason the night before. Charles became dangerous just before the DiLaurentis clan moved to Rosewood and Mr. and Mrs. D placed him in Radley. This leads Spencer to make one of the most astute observations of the series: “All roads lead back to Radley.” Duh, everything happens at Radley.

Ali's parents wanted Charles to get better, but his mental state continued to spiral and they wanted Ali and Jason to have a normal childhood (hence why they never told them about Charles). Ali then drops the bomb to the girls: Charles couldn’t be A because... he’s dead. He had committed suicide at sixteen by overdosing on pills. Hanna doesn’t buy it and says, “No body, no grave, no proof.” It seems the girls, especially Hanna, are getting colder after the dollhouse.

The Liars believe Charles might still be alive and decide they need proof before they rule him out. Aria attempts to do some online sleuthing but comes up short. Her dad enters her room and reminds her that now that Andrew has been released, Tanner would like to speak to the girls when they’re ready. Aria snaps and doesn’t want to talk about what happened in the dollhouse. Ever. Okay, dad? She says she’s going to Hollis to develop some photos and denies his escort. Who would be alone after that experience? I would utilize the buddy system for every minute of every day, so I agree with Caleb that anything can happen in a ten-minute window between cops switching shifts outside of Hanna’s when A is still at large. Real Disney Prince of Rosewood is always right, guys.

Spencer, who somehow always to find the most information, sees an article about Radley being purchased by a company for $16 million and calls about Charles’ medical records by creating another story. Jeez, they’ve earned the name Liars. After discovering his records would soon be shredded, Ezra approaches her and asks if she’s alone. She says her mom will be back from the bank shortly. Ezra, master of wishful thinking, says that now that the Charles is out of the bag, they’re going to find him. Sir, you haven’t yet and I support Spencer’s skepticism, at least at this point so early on in the season.

Aha! Finally! More flashbacks from the dollhouse happen! Spencer sees a spilled cup from the hands of yet another new character (Sabrina, a waitress at the coffee shop) and flashes back to waking up in the dollhouse covered in blood. She doesn’t know whose it is or where it came from, but she’s visibly shaken. She starts to panic and I’m sitting here like, “Does literally anyone want to discuss what happened? You would probably feel like, 100 times better.”

The girls get together at Spencer’s to discuss the information she got. “If we get the file, we get the truth.” (Aria, we’re four episodes deep. We all know answers are not within reach right now.) They could go in and ask for the file, but what if that doesn’t work? Obviously... break in. I find it almost disheartening that a plan to break into the center came so easily to them, but I guess when you have a psycho stalker on your case who recently kidnapped you and you’re desperate for clues, you’re down for whatever.

Spencer asks how the pills are working for Aria and gets wild-eyed with she says she threw them away. Uh, are you going to dumpster dive? You’re a Hastings! Then she goes and proves me right and lies to a cop and searches for the pills. In the trash. I’m like a disappointed parent right now. Ugh.

The girls reconvene and head towards the center holding the records. Spencer has to have her doctor or parent present to retrieve her own, so there’s no way they’re going to get to Charles’. Then Hanna is all, “Guys, let’s break the law and sneak into the building.” Yeah, SOUNDS GREAT. Aria finds the file on Charles and they find a visitors log with only Mrs. DiLaurentis and Ali's great aunt Carol on it. Only problem? Aunt Carol died when the girls were all sophomores, so there goes that lead. However, they do discover that Charles was severely depressed. They hear someone coming and they’re out the door.

When they get back to their homes, both Aria and Hanna lie about their whereabouts. I’m fairly certain lying to your parents about where you are went out the window once you were kidnapped, but that could just be me. When Emily returns home, her mother raises concerns about Sarah which of course she overhears. Where is her mother? Surely someone can call her? Something feels off about that situation to me!

Ali finds Jason in their living room and she asks how he’s doing. Not well, obviously, and he has an introspective moment about his parents lies leading him to constantly doubt himself. Ali tells him about the records and how Carol visited him. Jason reminds Ali that he almost got killed in that elevator shaft (thought we were just going to push that one under the rug), but that after he got out, he went to Aunt Carol’s and found his mom. Jason told Ali that he’d figured he would stay there while he recovered and Jessica came up with a terrible lie (that literally anyone could clock a mile away) for him not being able to stay there. Is Charles alive and she was hiding him? It always bothers me when the theme song is right because obviously this is one of those “two can keep a secret if one of them is dead” scenarios.

A few of the girls, Ali and Jason all head to Carol’s house that looks totally abandoned. Ali raises the question we’ve all been asking since this A took over, “Why would he do this to me? To us?” If we knew, the show would be over sweetie. While that’s happening, Aria is at Hollis developing really creepy doll photos and when she goes to find a product she needs, she finds pink hair-dye and a note from A saying that she is his doll. Well, yeah. Then we see a flashback of him telling her to dye her hair and when she wouldn’t, he chopped half of it off in her sleep. (Excellent way to tie in her between season bob, writers.) She panics in the darkroom and runs for the door which is obviously locked. Classic A. It almost feels like A is more menacing than ever now that he has to be more careful. Sporadic as they are, his threats are clear.

Back at Carol’s, the group splits in half to see if they find anything. Spencer sees a weather vane and flashes back to the cameras in her room and waking up covered in blood. She panics and asks Hanna if she remembers doing everything A made her do. When Spencer recalls the flashback, Hanna blames it on sleep deprivation, but she does have a point that A was playing a million games and this might have just been one he was employing to break Spencer. Jason and Ali find Charles’ grave and he thinks that’s why his mother didn’t want him staying there lest he find it. Hanna doesn’t believe it’s real and that it’s just A trying to throw them off their scent. Jason and Spencer point out the vines are wrapping around the stone and have been for years the stone and couldn’t be faked; it’s real, thus crushing her previous theory .

So, if Charles is dead, where does that leave us? Someone is assuming Charles’ identity? But why? Who was it the he knew at Radley that was either released or found a way to escape that would have a vendetta against the girls?

Aria finally breaks down and tells her dad about what went on in the dollhouse. Someone is giving insight! To someone who cares about them! This is such progress and I’m glad the girls are slowly starting to discuss what’s going on in their heads. Back at the Brew, Spencer gets pot cookies from the new waitress and Ezra, who talks to her for all of ten seconds, figures out she might have a problem and that those won’t help her while her parents, whose job it is to pay attention to detail, haven’t figured it out. You will not see me calling Mrs. Hastings if I need a lawyer.

We think the episode is going to end with a story. Ali’s dad explains to her that they placed Charles in Radley because when Ali was eleven months old, he had come in the house to hear her screaming. He discovered her in the bath that was scalding hot and quickly filling up with Charles watching... Ali asks for no further details and to let Charles rest in peace. What a sweet ending, right? WRONG. The episode ends with A staring at a screen with each girl's name popping up with a location and an ID number.

Am I wrong or did A place trackers in the girls while they were in the dollhouse so he always knew where to find them? Because that’s the conclusion I’m drawing. This just got so Hunger Games and the odds are not in the girls’ favors.

Question for next week: based on the preview, are we to assume A is actually a girl? Will it be the previously mentioned, but not since last year’s Christmas episode, and forgotten Bethany? Or is it someone else entirely? Oh, #SummerofAnswers. You haven’t told me much of anything yet.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @MissMeganMann, for my weekly freakout where I try to keep my Rosewood emotions in check and usually fail. See you next week!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Road to the Emmys: Laura's Dream Emmy Ballot [Contributor: Laura Schinner]


While I may still be campaigning for an awards show called “The Laura’s” where I get to pick all the nominees and winners, it hasn’t quite happened yet. So instead, here are my thoughts on who and what should be nominated for Emmys this year, based off of the shows I watch.


Outstanding Comedy Series:
Brooklyn Nine-Nine
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia 
Jane the Virgin
New Girl
Parks and Recreation
Selfie

With NBCs Thursday night comedy block a thing of the past and many other network comedies declining in quality, I didn’t think there would be many comedies this season that I was excited about. Taking a look at the nomination ballot though, I realized that while there may not be a ton of brilliant comedies anymore, there are still some to look forward to. Brooklyn Nine-Nine had a great sophomore year, with one of the best ensemble casts on television right now bringing in the laughs week after week. They also flawlessly handled the budding romance between Jake and Amy, proving that Mike Schur should really teach a seminar on how to do relationships in comedies. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia continued to impress, somehow managing to produce one of its all-time best episodes, “Charlie Work,” in their tenth season. It was last year that the gang tried desperately to win an award and this year, more than ever, they deserve it.

Jane the Virgin and Selfie were the only two new comedies I watched this season and I truly believe both deserve nominations. No other show is doing what Jane the Virgin is doing, blending comedy, heart, and drama in such an interesting and compelling way. And no other character has made me laugh more this season than Rogelio de la Vega. While Selfie may not have been as successful as Jane the Virgin, they also deserve an Emmy nomination for what they did in their one and only season. Karen Gillan more than proved that she can do comedy and along with John Cho, made me fall in love with a show that should never have been cancelled.

After a less than stellar third season, New Girl came back this year, returning to the quality of their first two seasons. By far the quirkiest comedy on my list, New Girl was consistently hilarious with each member of the cast proving that on any given week, they could carry the show. If I were to pick the one show that I want to win the Outstanding Comedy Series this year, it would be Parks and Recreation. Even on a bad day, this show is ten times better than Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory, though they’ve never been recognized for it. Their farewell season was an absolute masterpiece, something that every show should aspire to be, and it would be a travesty if they weren’t recognized for it.


Outstanding Drama Series:
The Flash
The 100

I’m more of a comedy person than a drama person, but there were two dramas that really impressed me this year. The Flash had a fantastic freshman season, filled with compelling characters and storylines as well as a lot of emotional moments. The writing was on point all season and the cast really impressed me with their comedic and emotional range. The 100 also came out strong this year, not letting up after an impressive first season. There’s no show that does suspense better than The 100, as they constantly kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen. Filled with complex moral dilemmas due to the unique situations these characters find themselves in, The 100 tackles these questions with ease and deserves to be recognized for that.


Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Chris Geere as Jimmy (You’re the Worst)
Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt (Parks and Recreation)

It seems like forever ago that You’re the Worst aired new episodes but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a really funny show. The two leads, Chris Geere and Aya Cash, are both extremely talented actors who somehow make you root for their characters despite the fact that they might actually be the worst. Chris plays a selfish, rude, unemotionally available character yet still somehow manages to make him somewhat likable.

I’ll be the first to admit that before Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I wasn’t a big fan of Andy Samberg. His skits in SNL could occasionally be funny but most of the time I found them more obnoxious than anything. He won me over in Brooklyn Nine-Nine though, with his portrayal of Jake Peralta. Jake may at times be childish and immature but at the end of the day, he cares about his friends and his job and Samberg does a fantastic job showing both sides of the character.

Adam Scott, on the other hand, is an actor who I’ve always loved. His deadpan sense of humor combined with the nerdy side of Ben Wyatt that he portrays has made Ben one of my all time favorite male characters. Many have heralded Ben as the perfect man and that is completely because of what Adam brings to the character.


Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen (Arrow)
Grant Gustin as Barry Allen (The Flash)

In any given episode of Arrow, Stephen Amell has to play so many different versions of Oliver Queen. Whether it’s playboy billionaire, loving brother, ruthless vigilante, brooding hero, or any other role, Amell takes it all in stride, not misstepping once. Through his facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language you can interpret everything that Oliver is feeling but isn’t saying, no matter what version of him he’s ‘playing’ in any particular scene. Even without the flashback wigs, we’d be able to tell what point Oliver is at in his life because of the subtle differences in Amell’s portrayal of the character. This isn’t an easy thing to do and Amell deserves recognition for it.

If you don’t love Grant Gustin, there might be something wrong with you. There is no one better suited to play Barry Allen than Gustin, as he portrays this somewhat damaged, but somehow still optimistic hero who simply wants to make the world a better place. It’s because of what Gustin brought to this character that we all cried multiple times in the finale, as he struggled with saving his mom but potentially losing his other loved ones in the process.Through the whole season, there’s been something so inherently likable about Barry, that you can’t help but root for him.


Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Aya Cash as Gretchen (You’re the Worst)
Ellie Kemper as Kimmy Schmidt (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)

Females are strong as hell and there are a lot of ladies who deserve to be recognized for their amazing work in comedies this past year. Like Chris Geere, Aya Cash manages to make you like a character who on the surface is incredibly selfish and mean. She looks out for herself and can be brutally honest at times, making her an incredibly human character. Because of this, we’re capable of feeling empathy and compassion for her, because she could just as easily be one of us.

There’s no doubt that Ellie Kemper is adorable, something she brings to all of her roles. Her portrayal of the naive, overly trusting, but strong Kimmy Schmidt was no different, as we all instantly fell in love with this character. It’s not easy to make a character who is so naive to the world appear strong and completely in control of her own destiny, but Kemper was able to do this with Kimmy, one of the many reasons why she deserves an Emmy nomination.

Amy Poehler is essentially famous for being nominated for awards but never winning. It makes no sense. There is no actress who deserves an Emmy more than Amy does for her work on Parks and Recreation. Leslie Knope is a role model for women everywhere and that’s all thanks to what Poehler brings to the character. For once, I’d like to see her receive all the recognition she deserves for this.

It’s truly incredible what Gina Rodriguez has managed to do with the character of Jane in just one season. This character has been thrown into crazy situation after crazy situation but still manages to remain completely grounded and down to earth. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: when Jane cries, it is almost impossible to resist crying yourself. It takes a special kind of actress to inspire this kind of a response from an audience but Gina is able to do it every time. There’s no doubt that she is the biggest breakthrough actress of the season and hopefully the nominations will reflect that.


Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Jaime Camil as Rogelio de la Vega (Jane the Virgin)
Glenn Howerton as Dennis Reynolds (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Joe Lo Truglio as Charles Boyle (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Lamorne Morris as Winston Bishop (New Girl)
Chris Pratt as Andy Dwyer (Parks and Recreation)
Jim Rash as Craig Pelton (Community)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series is always the most difficult category to narrow down because there’s so many people deserving of the nomination. This year was no different, as I easily could have had a list of ten or more actors. Jaime Camil was a no brainer for my list, as Rogelio de la Vega was by far my favorite new character of the television season. His giant ego, bromance with Michael, and obsession with hashtags might cross the line to annoying if any other actor was playing him, but with Camil it’s nothing short of hilarious.

Each season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, my favorite character changes based on the storylines and arcs of the characters. This year it was by far Dennis, played by Glenn Howerton. His ability to portray a character who is so narcissistic, deranged, and quite frankly insane, is incredible. Especially because I’m assuming Glenn isn’t anything like Dennis in real life (or at least I’m hoping he isn’t). Dennis had a rough season, his meltdown in the Family Feud episode being a highlight, and I can say without a doubt that there are few actors who can play such a damaged character better than Glenn does.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a true ensemble cast show. That being said, there are a few standouts in that cast, Joe Lo Truglio being one of them. Whether he’s going along with one of Jake’s crazy schemes or waxing poetic about his favorite restaurant, Joe Lo Truglio brings out the best in Charles. Lamorne Morris has also done an incredible job with Winston in this season of New Girl, constantly stealing episodes with his hilarious delivery of one-liners. He doesn’t always have the most material to work with, but anything they give him is sure to be brilliant thanks to what he’s managed to do with the character.

Two former NBC stars, Chris Pratt and Jim Rash, also make my list of dream nominees for supporting actor in a comedy. Over the last year or two, Pratt has become a household name as he’s blown up as a movie star. Before all that though, he stole so many hearts in his portrayal of Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation. Immature and childlike, Pratt made Andy one of the most lovable goons on television. He may go by other names, such as Burt Macklin or Johnny Karate, but at the end of the day Andy isn’t afraid to  be himself. For Community, Jim Rash was a light in a season that overall wasn’t that impressive. There’s just something about Rash’s delivery that makes everything funny. While the whole cast can hold their own comedically, it’s Rash who continuously steals scenes through his portrayal of such an eccentric character.


Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Max Burkholder as Max Braverman (Parenthood)
Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells (The Flash)
Jesse L. Martin as Joe West (The Flash)

I’m going to cheat on this one because technically I haven’t seen the last season of Parenthood yet. I have three more episodes left of season five before I start in on season six but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve been incredibly impressed by Max Burkholder’s portrayal of Max Braverman. For such a young actor to be able to play a character with Asperger's so believably is truly amazing. I’m constantly in awe of what Max brings to not only this character, but the show as a whole, and I have no doubt that he was just as good in season six as he is in past seasons.

Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin’s characters both took on the ‘father figure’ role for Barry Allen at different points in the first season of The Flash. For Cavanagh, he spent the start of the season convincing us that his character was a great guy who truly cared about Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, and the city as a whole. With the discovery that Wells wasn’t actually Wells, Cavanagh had to do even more with the character, at times showing his true colors while also trying to convince these characters that he still cared about them. Clearly, not an easy task but Cavanagh did it seamlessly. For Martin, most of the season was spent building up his character’s relationships with his daughter, Iris, and his adopted son, Barry. While Joe West didn’t always make the best decisions when it came to Iris, his heart-to-hearts with Barry were some of the best moments of the first season and wouldn’t have been nearly as good without Martin in that role.


Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
Stephanie Beatriz as Rosa Diaz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Kaitlin Olson as Dee Reynolds (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
Aubrey Plaza as April Ludgate (Parks and Recreation)

Rosa Diaz is a complex character, who on the outside acts as though she doesn’t care about anyone or anything, but who behind that tough exterior is a loyal and caring friend. A lot of what is said by this character is said through facial expressions and subtle hints. Stephanie Beatriz is able to show this with ease, making this character who is so tough seem incredibly vulnerable at times. There’s so many layers to Rosa and Beatriz has done a fantastic job of exploring each layer.

Kaitlin Olson is the only main female cast member in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, acting alongside four hilarious guys. But she more than manages to hold her own among this funny cast through her portrayal of Dee Reynolds. More often than not, Dee is the butt of the joke in It’s Always Sunny, never quite being able to win the respect of the guys. Without them, she’d have a decent shot at living a normal life, but always ends up being pulled into their schemes. Kaitlin does physical comedy incredibly well, whether she’s pretending to be an inflatable waving in the wind or she’s doing a pratfall.

Aubrey Plaza has brought so much to Parks and Recreation through her portrayal of April. This character has perhaps experienced the most growth throughout the seasons, and Aubrey has showed this transition beautifully. Like so many of us, April struggled this season with what she really wanted to do with her life and as someone going through the exact same thing right now, I can say with certainty that Aubrey played it perfectly. The character might be sarcastic and closed off on the outside, but on the inside she really does care about those around her and she has been a fantastic addition to the show.


Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak (Arrow)
Mae Whitman as Amber Braverman (Parenthood)

This season on Arrow, Felicity had to go through a lot of heartache and despair. One of her best friends died, she went up against her ex-boyfriend, the man she loved refused to be with her, died, came back, and then continued to refuse to be with her. At the same time, she was trying to keep the city safe with the rest of the remaining group. Clearly, a lot going on there. Emily Bett Rickards did a fantastic job showing Felicity’s struggle through all of this. She showed the sadness, the anger, the confusion, and the ever present determination of the character. All through this, she continued to light up our screens each week, not an easy task.

I’m cheating again by putting Mae Whitman on my list. But really, how could I not? She’s managed to make Amber my favorite character on a show full of compelling and complex characters. Her emotional range is more than impressive and her ability to make you connect with her character is top notch. Like most characters on the show, Amber has been through a lot and even though I haven’t seen the last season, I have no doubt that she’ll go through even more before it’s all said and done. Mae can handle anything thrown her way though, and that’s why she  deserves to be nominated for supporting actress in a drama.

So what about you all? Which series and actors/actresses make YOUR ballot? Continue the discussion in the comments below and let Laura know. :)

Orange is the New Black 3x03 “Empathy is a Boner Killer” (In a Perfect World) [Contributor: Rae Nudson]


“Empathy is a Boner Killer”

There are many reasons why a person would choose to panic, according to Caputo. Like bed bugs, for example, or the prospect of losing your job. Or if a junkie with a business plan takes some drugs for herself and then faces time in max. Or if your secret fiancé stops showing up for work. Or if your books were burned, or your wife is going to leave you, or, apparently, if you are associated with Litchfield in any way whatsoever. Yes, Caputo, there are many reasons to panic.

Right now, though, Nicky may have the biggest reason to panic after she stole the heroin she was trying to sell and is now on her way to a maximum security prison down the road. Nicky’s flashbacks reveal a history of addiction and self-destruction, and her conversation with her mother when she realizes she might be facing 10 years in jail was devastating. Her mother may have made the wrong decisions sometimes, but when you are struggling with addiction, or watching someone you love struggle with addiction, the right decisions can seem impossible as every choice leads to more pain. Nicky knows this all too well, now, and she tells Pennsatucky that she wouldn’t wish being her mother on anyone.

Nicky’s story this episode is a microcosm that could reflect the whole world of Litchfield. Nicky can’t count on the programs in prison that are supposed to “rehabilitate” her, so she creates a support system with Red and does her best to survive. Ultimately, though, Nicky gets trapped inside with what could kill her, and a system of corruption helps bury her. Luscheck, who is part of the system in power, takes advantage of Nicky and not only helps her get further involved with drugs, but also demands 80% of the profits. Luscheck holds all the power, even if Nicky has the product and the idea. Luscheck doesn’t hesitate to use his power to gain access to the drugs and then to throw Nicky under the bus as soon as the drugs are found by Caputo. All Luscheck has to do is say that he suspected Nicky for a while, and they take her away without another word. Nicky can’t seem to save herself, and the corruption and oppressive system of Litchfield keeps her from getting the help she needs, just as it traps everyone and everything it touches. And when the prison finds the drugs, it immediately chooses the option that will get rid of the problem the quickest, and whether it actually helps or whether Nicky actually did it don’t matter at all. (I know that it really was her, but it shocked me how little they investigated the situation or cared about the truth before throwing Nicky’s life away.) Natasha Lyonne does a wonderful job portraying all the sides of Nicky, and her fear and devastation at going to max were heartbreaking to watch.

Even though most of the inmates and guards are dealing with one crisis after another, two people definitely not panicking any more are Alex and Piper. Unfortunately for them (I guess?), they aren’t having hate sex any more either. Piper and Alex’s exercise in drama class allowed them to work out some of their feelings, and Piper delivered the ultimate #sorrynotsorry. (Sorry I took away your freedom and put you back in jail so you’d hang out with me! Not really that sorry though because it worked!) Piper is still the worst — admitting you are manipulative and terrible does not mean you can keep being manipulative and terrible — but even I have to admit her delivery was very cute. The improv at drama class was a much-needed, funny break from Nicky’s story.

The structure this episode returned to focusing on one person’s flashbacks, even as we checked in on many other inmates, and it moved the plot along at a faster clip than the previous two episodes, which felt more like catching up and checking in. I hope that is not the last we see of Nicky, and I hope that Pennsatucky is right when she says things can’t get worse. But I’ve seen too much of Litchfield to believe that.

Other notes:
  • Inmate of the episode is Morello, who gave it her all in drama class and led a spirited discussion on the history of blow jobs. This episode was quite funny, and every time Morello was on screen it was a delight.
  • “I like reading more than I like living my actual life.” – Blanca. Girl, I get it. The memorial service for the books was such a great part of this episode.
  • LOL at Healy’s utter befuddlement as he watches Berdie connect with the inmates in a way he will never be able to. I still don’t quite trust Berdie, but it was fun to see some of the inmates are reacting so positively toward her.
  • “What are we going to do now if we can’t have hate sex?” “Hate snuggle?” “I don’t really think that that’s a thing.”
  • How does everyone’s eyebrows in prison look SO good?

The Road to the Emmys 2015: Megan's Dream Emmys Ballot [Contributor: Megan Mann]


I love the Emmys because I love TV. This year I’m really hoping all of my favorites (ahem, Sons of Anarchy) get nominated, but sadly, whatever I seem to really love is always overlooked. It’s okay. I still get excited for whichever comedian they get to host the whole show. So here are my picks for my dream Emmys ballot!



Outstanding Comedy Series:
The Mindy Project
Galavant
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
House of Lies
Shameless

I think that House of Lies is beyond underrated. Maybe it's because it’s on a premium channel or maybe because it's because it doesn’t get a lot of promotion. I don’t know. Either way, it’s one of the funniest and smartest shows about corporate America. Plus, it’s got Kristen Bell. So, really, there's no downside. Shameless simply doesn’t get the award appreciation like it should. It’s so good and every actor in it is fantastic. It’s also set in Chicago, so represent. Galavant took everything about medieval times stories, made fun of them and set them to music. The end. Mindy is basically a genius and had me totally crying in last season's finale and Tina Fey writes Kimmy. It’s perfect.


Outstanding Drama Series:
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mr. Selfridge
Orphan Black
Sons of Anarchy

Everyone loves Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones. They’ll continue to be nominated and maybe one of the actors will win, but I don’t think the shows themselves will win Outstanding Drama. House of Cards has me interested in politics in a way I never thought I would be and it’s smart and cunning. Mr. Selfridge is incredible and I wish it were nominated because it just makes me so happy. Orphan Black does not get the attention it deserves. It’s way too good and Tatiana Maslany plays like, a thousand different people. It’s sci-fi done so. well. Sons of Anarchy is my favorite show of all time and needs to finally be nominated now that it’s over. It’s only right.


Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:
Gael Garcia Bernal (Mozart in the Jungle)
Chris Messina (The Mindy Project)

I have a huge love for Gael Garcia Bernal and I feel like he doesn’t get nominated for any of his brilliance. He should win just for being so amazing at what he does. Chris Messina is so, so funny on The Mindy Project and should get a shiny trophy for making me laugh with his character’s antiquated ideals and his interactions with Mindy.


Lead Actor in a Drama Series:
Kyle Chandler (Bloodline)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel)
Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)

Kyle Chandler didn’t get enough praise for his work at Coach Taylor, so I would like to see him nominated for something as good as Bloodline. Jon Hamm is a standard nominee, but he’s just so amazing as Don Draper that it would be fitting for the final batch of episodes. Freddie Highmore frankly scares the crap out of me and I think that’s great. Piven is as equally and differently brilliant as Harry Selfridge as he was Ari Gold. Charlie Hunnam should be nominated and win because there was no better performance that his Jax Teller last season.


Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:
Mindy Kaling (The Mindy Project)
Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation)

It makes me sad that two women as hilarious as Mindy Kaling and Ellie Kemper most likely will not receive nominations simply because they aren’t on shows that have the mass appeal as other ladies do. But they are truly hysterical on both shows and are so deserving. I absolutely love Amy Poehler and feel, if we let her, she would run the world and do it so well.


Lead Actress in a Drama Series:
Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder)
Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)
Katey Sagal (Sons of Anarchy)
Robin Wright (House of Cards)

I mean, do we need to even discuss the brilliance of both Viola Davis and Robin Wright? It’s almost criminal how good those two are, especially on these shows where the women are so strong. Elisabeth Moss has always done a great job as Peggy on Mad Men. Tatiana Maslany deserves every award ever for playing so many characters and playing them all so differently and just knocking it out of the park. Sadly, she often gets overlooked. Katey won the only Golden Globe nomination for Sons of Anarchy and she absolutely killed it this last season and deserves an Emmy nomination.


Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:
Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)
Adam Driver (Girls)
Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation)
Adam Pally (The Mindy Project)
Andrew Rannells (Girls)

Tituss Burgess has some of THE best lines on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, but sadly, I think both he and the series will be overlooked for more mainstream, network TV shows. Adam Driver is just so great as Adam on Girls and I practically screeched when Andrew Rannells came back to the series as a series regular. (He’s easily my favorite character apart from Shoshana.) Nick Offerman speaks words of truth and is just hysterical on Parks and Recreation and I nearly rioted when Adam Pally was leaving The Mindy Project. Everyone in this category gave such great performances.


Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:
Dayton Callie (Sons of Anarchy)
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Game of Thrones)
Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)
Vincent D’Onofrio (Daredevil)
Tom Felton (Murder in the First)
Tommy Flanagan (Sons of Anarchy)

Dayton Callie and Tommy Flanagan did things to my emotional state that I can scarcely describe throughout the seven season run of Sons of Anarchy, but they were beyond brilliant this last season. Nikolaj has grown on me over the last two seasons of Game of Thrones and duh, Peter Dinklage absolutely slays every scene he’s in as Tyrion. Vincent D’Onofrio was so intimidating on Daredevil and I always think that’s a great skill to have. Tom Felton was just crazy good on Murder in the First.


Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:
Kristen Bell (House of Lies)
Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)
Zosia Mamet (Girls)
Kate McKinnon (SNL)
Xosha Roquemore (The Mindy Project)

Kristen Bell is perfect. We all know that. Mayim's Amy Farrah Fowler is the male equivalent of Sheldon but is, I think, a funnier character. Zosia is just... I mean. I could quote Shoshana every day and feel great about myself. If you don’t love Kate McKinnon, I don’t know what you’re doing with your life because she is one of the funniest and most entertaining women on TV right now. Xosha is so well written as Tamra and her delivery is always on point.


Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:
Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black)
Amy Brenneman (The Leftovers)
Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones)
Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black)
Drea de Matteo (Sons of Anarchy)

Uzo and Laverne are perfect on Orange is the New Black. There’s nothing else to say but that. Daenerys is my favorite character and just so badass and Emilia is very clearly one with her character. Amy Brenneman can do absolutely no wrong in my eyes. Drea de Matteo was phenomenal on The Sopranos, but I think her character Wendy on Sons of Anarchy surpasses that. She was one of the only driving forces of good and light in a very tumultuous collection of circumstances. She was what the show needed to be redeemable.

So, basically, I am really pulling for Sons of Anarchy, Mr. Selfrdige, Orphan Black and The Mindy Project. Shows that will more likely than not be nominated, but a girl can dream, right? I still have Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Mad Men and a few others to keep me going. May the odds be ever in your favor, favorite shows of mine. And if they’re not, I’ll eat a lot of food to quell all of our sadness. It’s the least I could do.

The Road to the Emmys: Jaime's Dream Emmy Ballot [Contributor: Jaime]


Hello everyone!  It’s Jaime here, ready with my dream Emmy ballot.  Now, let’s start with the obvious caveat: this is totally based on the shows that I watch, so there are probably going to be some huge oversights.  There are only a few occasions where I include something on my ballot just because I know it’s a given that it’ll receive a nomination; otherwise, this is totally based on the shows that I love that I think deserve recognition.  Of course, this entire thing is moot because Hannibal premiered too late to be considered and thus can’t receive any nominations, even though it deserves to win everything.  But don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll complain about that a lot throughout this post, so let’s just jump ahead to the actual categories.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY:
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – "Charlie Work"
Jane the Virgin – "Chapter Ten"
Game of Thrones – any episode
Mad Men – "Person to Person"
Marvel’s Daredevil – "Cut Man"

have a weird mix of contenders here, but hear me out.  It’s Always Sunny created a weird, Birdman-esque episode that featured one long shot.  Remember last year, how True Detective won this category?  Yeah, the episode that won had a six-minute tracking shot at the end.  It’s Always Sunny is a single-camera comedy series that essentially did the exact same thing.  That’s just not a move made on television, let alone on a comedy series.  If it doesn’t at least get nominated I will lose all my trust in the world.

When it comes to Game of Thrones, I couldn’t narrow it down to a particular episode because I think any of the ones submitted are deserving of a nomination.  I couldn’t remember a particular standout moment from any of the episodes that might tip the scales; rather, the show consistently has such high production values and beautiful camerawork that any episode deserves to make it in this category.  The same could be said for Daredevil, but they only submitted one episode so it was an easy decision for me.  Daredevil always finds such beautiful, interesting ways to film the action, whether it’s a fight scene or just basic dialogue.  It’s so wonderful to look at, and hopefully the fact that the show is relatively low profile won’t detract from it getting a much deserved nomination here.

This is the first instance where I am going to say that it is total garbage that Hannibal won’t be nominated.  You cannot have a conversation about cinematography on television without talking about Hannibal, let alone awarding the best cinematography.  I’m going to move on to the next category but know that I am not happy.


BEST DIRECTING IN A COMEDY:
Galavant – Pilot
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – "Charlie Work"
Jane the Virgin – Pilot
The Mindy Project – "Dinner at the Castellanos"
Parks and Recreation – "One Last Ride"

included Galavant and The Mindy Project here because each submitted episode had so many layers and elements working together throughout the episode.  Galavant brilliantly balanced comedy, musical numbers, plot movement, and establishing the show, while Mindy’s “Dinner at the Castellanos” featured comedy, plus huge character moments for Mindy and Danny individually and as a couple, plus the conflict of Mindy trying to hide her pregnancy, plus Danny dealing with his family coming together for dinner…It’s a lot to balance, and hard to find the right note between chaotic and over the top.  But both shows did it perfectly, and in totally different ways.  Galavant established itself as a weird, irreverent little show, while Mindy approached its chaos with the same quirky voice that has guided each episode.


BEST DIRECTING IN A DRAMA:
Game of Thrones – "Hardhome"
Mad Men – "Person to Person"
Parenthood – "May God Bless You and Keep You Always"

didn’t even bother to try filling out this category because drama is so packed every year, and rather than pick through them all, I went with submissions that particularly stood out to me.  Mad Men’s series finale will almost definitely earn a nomination here; besides the fact that the Emmys love the show, the finale perfectly balanced so many individual character elements and managed to wrap up seven chaotic seasons.  Like with cinematography, Game of Thrones submitted a few different episodes, but here “Hardhome” was a clear standout.  The last few minutes with the giant white walker attack was huge.  The amount of work that must have gone into filming that scene makes my brain hurt, honestly.  As for Parenthood, I’m hoping that the Emmys will pull a Friday Night Lights scenario and finally give it some well-earned attention for its final season.  Parenthood has always delicately balanced the storylines of its huge cast of characters, but that’s a daunting task when it comes to creating a satisfying finale.  There’s always a lot going on with the Braverman clan, but the finale brought everything together and left on a brilliantly fulfilling note.


LEAD ACTOR IN A COMEDY:
Andy Samberg – Brooklyn 99
Adam Scott – Parks and Recreation
Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

Okay, this one’s cheating a little bit because I haven’t gotten a chance to watch Transparent yet, but it’s safe to assume that Jeffrey Tambor will get nominated this year (and probably safe to assume that he’ll win).  Samberg and Scott have both proved themselves to be incredibly strong and reliable leading men, both portraying goofy guys who you can’t help but support, both personally and professionally.  And, I mean, come on.  Jake Peralta would be the best boyfriend ever and Ben Wyatt would be the best husband ever, right?  That’s just a fact we can all accept?  Okay, great, moving on.


LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA:
Charlie Cox - Daredevil
Jon Hamm – Mad Men
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul

Cheating a little bit again because I also haven’t gotten a chance to watch Better Call Saul (despite my eternal love for Breaking Bad), but whatever, this is my ballot, come fight me.  But it seems pretty likely that Bob Odenkirk will score a nomination, and I don’t want to avoid predicting inevitabilities, so.  Charlie Cox might be a longshot, but he’s so deserving of a nomination.  His performance as Matt Murdock is so complex and yet simple, and you can’t help but fall in love with him.  And I don’t really need to explain Jon Hamm, do I?  He’s always been overlooked in this category, and maybe he’ll finally get the attention he deserves for Mad Men’s final season.  Also, again, this category is totally moot without Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen.


LEAD ACTRESS IN A COMEDY:
Zooey Deschanel – New Girl
Mindy Kaling – The Mindy Project
Ellie Kemper – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Julia Louis-Dreyfus - Veep
Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation
Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin

don’t think I’ve made any unexpected choices here, right?  I’m sure there will be some changes between this and the actual category, but I feel comfortable saying that more than one of the women I have listed here will get a nomination. 


LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA:
Tatiana Maslany – Orphan Black
Elisabeth Moss – Mad Men
Taylor Schilling – Orange is the New Black

Again, probably nothing surprising here.  Also I finally watched Orphan Black a few months ago so now I can be one of those people who very loudly declares that Tatiana Maslany deserves this award.


SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A COMEDY:
Justin Baldoni – Jane the Virgin
Andre Braugher – Brooklyn 99
Tituss Burgess – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Jaime Camil – Jane the Virgin
Nick Offerman – Parks and Recreation
Chris Pratt – Parks and Recreation

All I have to say here is that if Nick Offerman never receives an Emmy nomination for playing Ron Swanson, then the Emmys will officially lose any and all credibility it ever had (which isn’t saying much).


SUPPORTING ACTOR IN DRAMA:
Jonathan Banks – Better Call Saul
Peter Dinklage – Game of Thrones
Vincent D’Onofrio - Daredevil
Kit Harington – Game of Thrones
Craig T. Nelson – Parenthood

Like I said before, I’m hoping the Emmys bestows some love on Parenthood, and I think Craig T. Nelson’s got enough clout and had more than enough to do that he’s got a good shot out of the show’s huge ensemble cast.  So much of this season focused on Zeek adjusting to all the changes in his life, and oftentimes featured Nelson in decently long sequences all by himself.  Meanwhile, Vincent D’Onofrio, like, took acting to another place on Daredevil.  Again, I’m not sure how high the show is on Emmy voters’ radar, but D’Onofrio hopefully has enough name recognition and respect within the industry that he’ll get the attention he deserves for his role.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A COMEDY:
Jane Krakowski – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Andrea Navedo – Jane the Virgin
Aubrey Plaza – Parks and Recreation
Yael Grobglas – Jane the Virgin

This was a hard category for me, but ultimately these four women stood out the most to me.  Yael Grobglas in particular has created such an interesting character, who constantly puts herself above everyone else and yet can be so vulnerable and heart-wrenching when she wants to be.  This category is always so hard to predict, and I can’t even be sure that any of the women I have listed here will wind up a nominee, but all of them are so deserving.


SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA:
Uzo Aduba – Orange is the New Black
Danielle Brooks – Orange is the New Black
Emilia Clarke – Game of Thrones
Lena Headey – Game of Thrones
Christina Hendricks – Mad Men
Kate Mulgrew – Orange is the New Black
Lorraine Toussaint – Orange is the New Black
Mae Whitman – Parenthood
Samira Wiley – Orange is the New Black

Did I go over the allotted number of nominees?  Yes, very much so.  Are half of them from Orange is the New Black?  Yes, fight me.  Are all of these women deserving of a nomination?  Very much so.


OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES:
Broad City
Jane the Virgin
Parks and Recreation

I’ve basically given up on trying to predict this category because it’s always surprising in terms of how it balances single camera and multi camera shows, so I’m keeping my picks here very simple.  Broad City is probably a long shot, but I’d love to see it nominated, mostly because it’s from two awesome ladies.  Jane the Virgin and Parks and Recreation will probably both score nominations for their stellar premiere and final seasons, respectively.


OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES:
Game of Thrones
Marvel’s Daredevil
Orange is the New Black
Parenthood

Say it with me, everybody: this category is pointless if Hannibal can’t be considered.  Otherwise though, my list is exactly 50% wishful thinking and 50% real predictions that will probably wind up with a nomination.  I can’t see Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black not getting nominated, and oh how I wish Daredevil and Parenthood would wind up in this category.  Fingers crossed, everyone.  Happy thoughts.

So, okay, no Hannibal, I know, what’s even the point of having the Emmys this year.  Still, other than that one huge problem, I’m excited to see how nominations go this year.  I can think of a few locks, but there are enough variables in every single category that I really can’t predict how things will turn out.  What do you guys think?  Are you as mad as I am that Hannibal can’t be represented this year?  If you’re not mad, that’s probably because you haven’t watched it yet.  Do yourself a favor, go watch it and then read this post again.  If it’s your second time reading this post – this so is not my design.

Thanks for reading, everyone!  Hopefully I’ve gotten a few of my predictions right.  Happy Emmy Awards!