Sunday, August 16, 2015

Series - Summer Lovin': Week 8

As kids and college students alike prepare to head back to school in the coming weeks, at Just About Write, we're still reveling in the warmth and presence of summer for a few more weeks until our fall television shows return or premiere. Until then, our DVRs are free to breathe a few sighs of relief (while our Netflix accounts groan under the weight of our binge-watching) and we're free to have lives outside of primetime television scheduling. (A novel, concept, am I right?) This week is all about diversity in movies, books, and television shows as we highlight some of the best things we're reading and watching.

Let's get to it then, shall we?

Joining me in my (jam-packed) crusade this week are the following ladies from the squad:
  • Meredith, my precious and adorable cupcake
  • Isabella, wonderful, brilliant moonbeam
  • Lynnie, a beautiful and lovely tropical fish
  • Maddie, human ray of summer sunshine
  • Lizzie, the sweetest cinnamon roll
  • Alice, a delightful sunflower
  • Rae, beautiful, talented, brilliant powerful musk ox
  • Megan, wispy cloud of brilliance
  • Deb, rainbow-infused space unicorn
  • Anne, sweet peach pie with a dollop of whipped cream
  • Jen, adorable, poetic, noble land mermaid

What Jenn's lovin': Not Another Happy Ending

Why she's lovin' it: Anyone who even remotely knows me knows that I'm a sucker for romantic comedies, no matter how good or cheesy they are. I can't help it. I really can't. So when I saw that Not Another Happy Ending was available on Netflix to stream, I immediately knew that I had to watch it. The movie is predictable in the same way that most romantic-comedies are: we know that the two leads will end up together and we assume that they will have misshaps and misunderstandings along the way. This movie has that, of course, but what I really loved was how it focused on writing a lot and on a lot of other relationships, apart from the romance between the two leads (who are, of course, opposites and begin the movie at odds with one another).

Jane is a writer and when her first book blows up, she becomes an instant celebrity. Still at odds with her publisher, Tom (a curmudgeonly -- and gorgeous, might I add -- French man with a temper who renamed Jane's book without her consent), Jane goes on to continue to write under her contract. Once she publishes the final book, she's free from her publisher. There's only one problem... Jane has every word of her book written except the final chapter. She's stuck and rather than tell Tom (who is confident Jane will be another success for him and needs her to be since his company is going under otherwise), pretends she isn't blocked. Tom knows that she is and enlists the help of his friend to un-block her. Since Jane is happy, she's unable to write, or so Tom deduces. His goal is to make her miserable so she'll be able to churn out the final chapter of her book for him.

What happens next, as you can imagine, is a series of shenanigans in which Tom tries to un-block Jane and Jane tries to combat her writers' block, to no avail. As I said earlier, I love that this movie is more than just a love story. There's a whole, beautiful plot of Jane repairing her relationship with her estranged father. And Roddy is literally going to become your favorite character. Not Another Happy Ending stars Karen Gillan, who absolutely shines as the comedic and romantic lead and also stars Stanley Weber who -- in addition to being completely swoon-worthy -- was hilarious as the sardonic Tom. We get to see these two characters evolve but the best part is fundamentally, they never really change who they are. Tom is still angry and has dry wit; Jane is still awkward and babbly and optimistic. They just learn that stubbornness and pride are hindrances to love (in any form).

Definitely check out Not Another Happy Ending. In addition to the things mentioned above, it also has a fabulous soundtrack and a cast of people with accents (HENRY IAN CUSICK!).

Bonus Lovin': Troian Bellisario's performances in Pretty Little Liars and Suits

This past week, I had the privilege of seeing Troian Bellisario in not just one, but two of the summer shows I watch. I absolutely loved her performances in both, though they were extremely different. And, come to think of it, that's probably WHY I loved them so much. Troian has this amazing ability to mine stoicism from the characters she plays while also making them extremely relatable. That's really difficult. Spencer Hastings -- in the hands of another actress -- would be an abrasive character: a know-it-all with a streak of perfectionism and guards up. But that's not what Troian has done with this character for the past six years. She's taken an extremely type-A character, one who could easily have been difficult to love or at the very least relate to, and she's managed to make her not just strong but also extremely layered. Every season, we seem to peel back more emotional layers of Spencer Hastings' character and that's credit to Troian. I often call Spencer my "precious unicorn" and it's because I find her so compelling and so endearing and so beautiful, especially with her flaws. Though "Game Over, Charles" focused more on Alison and Cece than it did the Liars, Troian still shone. 

It was also wonderful to see Troian's return to Suits this week as Claire, the pretty lawyer whom Mike once wooed (and also blew his cover with, since she found out he lied about going to law school). This week's episode focused heavily on the relationship between Claire and Meghan Markle's Rachel, and though Troian has only ever been in one episode before "Mea Culpa," it didn't feel that way. Claire is a bit colder and standoffish than Spencer Hastings and Troian played that distance extremely well. But what I really loved was her final scene with Patrick J. Adams -- Claire's advice to Mike about his impending nuptials was really thought-provoking and the way Troian handled the scene (delivering the lines with icy truth and yet an underlying sense of pity) was wonderful.

What Mer's lovin': Leverage

Why she's lovin' it: I used to catch episodes of Leverage on TNT when I had time. Usually not live, so I ended up watching episodes out of order and sporadically. But there were a few instances where I sat down and watched a marathon, and through those marathons, I managed to familiar myself within the chronology so that I had a solid understanding of the longer story arcs. Suffice it to say -- I really liked the show. The characters all had chemistry, the episodic storylines were entertaining, the dialogue witty. It was exactly the type of show I loved to watch -- where I could enjoy the show without completely losing myself to it in a life-altering way (ahem, Arrow).

But, as it does, life happened. I had a kid, and my TV shows got seriously and sadly cut down to but a select few. Since my husband didn't watch Leverage, it didn't make the list. Kid-free time is precious when one works full time and is raising first an infant, and now, toddler. (Case in point, as I write this up my toddler is in the other room dancing to a very loud rendition of "Uptown Funk." He keeps yelling HOT DAMN.) So for a good couple years, I didn't watch Leverage at all. And somewhere along the way it ended. Like... the series is done. GONE. How sad is that? And another thing that happened is that I became intimately familiar with the weird way that becoming involved in a large online fandom can influence your life. I am, in case you don't know this about me, very, very, very involved in the Arrow/Olicity fandom. And many of my fandom friends talk, constantly, about Leverage and how much they love it. So naturally this prompted me to get back into it. Because fandom friends are the best friends. And their opinions matter.

Earlier this week I started my re-watch; a friend and I tried to do a live-tweet but, as usual, life with a toddler got in the way. Nevertheless, I've been watching on my own, whenever I have some time to spare. Summer is a great opportunity to catch up on old shows, because the handful of shows I watch live are off the air. And Leverage is everything I remember it to be. Snappy writing. Intriguing characters with layered back stories. A hint of romance (oh man, do I ship Parker and Hardison). Fun, sometimes silly and convoluted, but always entertaining single-episode conflicts. The intrigue of the season-long story arcs. All these things tie together nicely to present a really enjoyable, fun TV experience. The characters are perfectly cast, and if you watch the blooper reels you can see how much fun the actors have playing these parts, with each other.

One of the things I like most about Leverage is that it's one of those shows where you can really ship anyone with anyone. I'm not ashamed to say that one of my favorite aspects of a TV show is the romance. Even shows where it isn't the main focus, I like to be able to put my money behind a couple. I'm a romantic, what can I say? On Leverage, I personally ship Parker and Hardison. But there are so many options for romance, and really all of them are good! Nate and Sophie. Sophie and Elliot. Elliot and Parker... There are no bad options. And I really like that in a show. It means that I'm not getting upset and throwing things at my TV if the writers insist on inflicting damage and angst on my ship. I can really enjoy the show without worrying that something is going to happen that would ruin it for me.

So, if you're looking for something to binge watch the next few weeks while we all wait with baited breath for fall TV to start back up, I highly recommend Leverage. It's streaming on Netflix, and it's super easy to watch a bunch of episodes in one sitting. If you do decide to watch, hit me up on Twitter. I love a good live-tweet! ;)

What Isabella's lovin': The Red Rising trilogy

Why she's lovin' it: "I will die. You will die. We will all die and the Universe will carry on without care. All we have is that shout into the wind - how we live. How we go. And how we stand before we fall."

I was incredibly lucky to have gone to a panel called "Modern Day Superheroes" at this year's San Diego Comic-Con, which had authors such as James Dashner (The Maze Runner) and Pierce Brown (Red Rising) speak about the topic and their books. I thought that Brown sounded so eloquent when talking about his characters and how he perceived a superhero to be someone who has an internal conflict with themselves and wants to overcome it. Don't tell him this, but I hadn't even heard of his book series when I attended the panel. His words really captivated me, so much so that I decided to find his novel and read it as soon as the stressful and exhilarating Comic-Con weekend was over. After the panel, I got a chance to take a picture with him and talk to him for a little while at which time he convinced me to read his books because they were going to be made into movies. He also, as I learned, wrote the screenplay for the first movie. I always like to be one of those people who says they read the books first before watching the movie, so I set out, bought the first two books in the series, and completely finished the first in about two days, if that tells you anything about how great it is.

The way I like to describe Red Rising is that it's a mixture of Ender's Game, The Hunger Games, and Game of Thrones. (I've actually never seen or read Game of Thrones, but I definitely know what it's about because my friends won't stop talking about it). This sci-fi novel focuses on a 16-year-old named Darrow who's been born into the lowest class system, the Reds, and whose life is unfair and unjust because of it. After the loss of his wife (yes, he is married at 16), he joins some revolutionaries in the hopes that he can fake his way into the highest social class, the Golds, and take the class down from within. The only thing is that before he can become a Gold, he must undergo testing and a trial that lasts for several years in which he and other students his age must join forces and defeat their rival social classes through very medieval, gruesome methods. I won't give too much away, but it is quite graphic.

I've really enjoyed reading Red Rising because although there are definitely a few similarities between this book and the ones I've previously mentioned, it's done in a very futuristic way that also alludes so much to the past. The characters are constantly analyzing the mistakes of previous philosophers and generals, hoping to not make the same mistakes. The characters, especially Darrow, are all incredibly sly and quick-witted that you can't help but get pulled into their minds begin second-guessing everyone and their motives. It also doesn't hurt that there's a very sweet relationship that develops between Darrow and another character (who I'll keep quiet on in case any of you want to read the book). Now, I'm going to go and see if I can finish Golden Sun before the next Summer Lovin'!

The third and final book in the trilogy called Morning Star will be released next year.

What Lynnie's lovin': Bob's Burgers

Why she's lovin' it: There are few shows that explore the humor in the everyday and the love of a zany, insane, wildly disparate family the way Bob’s Burgers does. It would be easy of the writers to constantly make fun of the individual family members and mock them for their differences, but they don’t. Instead, they embrace the crazy antics, adoringly accentuate the creativity and playfulness, and showcase a family that loves each other unconditionally as life ebbs and flows around them. They don’t focus on misogynistic, homophobic, or racist plot lines, as other animated shows have done in the past, which is a blessing to its viewers. Everyone on the show has their strengths, their moments to shine, and they are always supported by the others in the end.

The episode of the week for me is season’s five "Itty Bitty Ditty Committee." Armpit hair, armpit hair nets, Tina and Louise being the best sisters Gene could ever ask for, band drama, glorious straw music, and awkward rashes reinforce all the reasons Bob’s Burgers is currently in the running for an Emmy.

What Maddie's lovin': Joanna Garcia-Swisher' in The Astronaut Wives Club

Why she's lovin' her: If you haven't been watching this show, you need to. I don't think I have ever watched a show with this many wonderful positive female friendships to explore. This show is the very definition of #LadiesSupportingLadies. And on top of that add sass, amazing clothes, and a riveting fresh look at the history of the United States space program. All of these characters are absolutely incredible and you begin to adore them all. They're strong, kind, witty, vibrant, fierce, and fabulous women, each with their own compelling stories to tell. While I love each of the Astronaut Wives, my favorite is Betty Grissom played by Joanna Garcia-Swisher.

I have been a fan of Joanna Garcia-Swisher for a long time. I used to watch reruns of Reba every day after school for years until I had seen every episode at least three times, and I adored her portrayal of Ariel in Once Upon a Time. While she has grown as an actress without a doubt, there is one common thread that ties all of her roles together. Joanna is a literal ray of sunshine. For real. Each performance onscreen exudes her joy, optimism, and charisma. So as such a big fan of hers, I will say that Garcia-Swisher's turn as Betty Grissom is filled with heart and her best performance to date.

When we first meet Betty, she is "the sweet wholesome one," dazzled by the attention that comes through the spotlight with an aw-shucks kind of adorableness. As we get to know her better, we see that first impression only scratches the surface of Betty. Sure, she has had a simple life up to this point; but she is real. She mows the lawn in her curlers and gets excited about bringing a floral arrangement home from a gala with Houston socialites that was going to be thrown away. While I applaud the show for telling the stories of women like Trudy and Rene who boldly seek out careers in the 1960s, Astronaut Wives Club acknowledges that Betty is just as strong a woman while also being perfectly happy with being a stay-at-home mom. I think that is really special. Betty's home life is good. She and Gus are best friends and have the most positive and sweet marriage on the show. Love is at the core of who Betty is. She loves her husband, her kids, and her friends with all that she has. It is because of that love that Betty just has this light that shines whenever she is on screen. Additionally, that light comes from Joanna's performance which makes you believe Betty and empathize with her. But beyond all the smiles is a fierceness. Betty fights for the people she cares about on multiple occasions, but none so moving as in episode 1x08 "Abort." [The following contains spoilers]

Betty's husband Gus is killed in an fire that caught aboard a faulty Apollo capsules. The episode begins with Betty receiving news of that an accident occurred. And then the doorbell rings, confirming her worst fears. (Side note, I cried through most of this episode and even when searching for the following GIFs, I began to tear up.)

Joanna Garcia-Swisher kills it in this episode. Her portrayal of Betty's journey through grief is palpable: there's strength yet also the numbness as she has to keep it together through the funeral broadcast on live television with the President in attendance. Her grief, rage, and determination as she fights for justice when NASA tries to cover up the cause of the accident and blame it on Gus are all so real. Joanna's ability to make the audience feel the love and friendship between Betty and Gus makes her final goodbye all the more painful. In the final scene, we see that light begin to return in Betty as her fellow astronaut wives send her off to go on the trip to Paris her and Gus had planned for their anniversary. It is bittersweet and positively beautiful. This episode showed the emotional range that Garcia-Swisher has developed as an actress, and is a heartwarming and heartbreaking look at a character whose story isn't always told with such nuance and depth.

What Lizzie's lovin': The Princess Bride

Why she's lovin' it: Have you ever seen The Princess Bride before? I assume you haven’t, because if you had, then you’d realize how silly this question is. Everyone loves this movie. The only people who don’t love The Princess Bride are the ones who have yet to see it. I wasn’t expecting to find one of those people in my immediate environment, because not watching The Princess Bride is like sacrilege in my book. But, alas, I did. Considering the fact that I own the movie on DVD, I decided this was the sort of mistake that could be (needed to be) corrected ASAP, and so I kindly suggested (ordered) that we watch the movie.

And I fell in love again.

There’s Cary Elves, a young and too-pretty-to-even-look-at Cary Elves. And Robin Wright, also absurdly pretty (also the ideal we dreamed about when we were little). But it’s not just about them. This is not just a movie about pretty people falling in love. It’s about IƱigo Montoya and his father. It’s about Fezzik, the giant. It’s about the six-fingered-man and Miracle Max. It’s about “inconceivable” and the Dread Pirate Roberts and death not being able to stop true love.

Seriously, this is a movie about pretty much everything. A movie for pretty much everyone.

I originally saw the movie before I read the book, a reversal of sorts for me. In fact, for a while, I refused to read the book, because I didn’t want the book to ruin the movie for me. (Stranger words have never been spoken). But that’s how much I love this movie, and what it represents. Because, okay, I might have said it had a little of everything, but at its core, The Princess Bride is a movie about love. For a movie about love, however, it’s not really a stereotypically girly movie. It’s not a guy’s movie though either, in spite of the pirates, revenge and fighting. So, what is The Princess Bride? Simply put, it's a great movie. One you should watch. Now. I’m not even kidding. If you haven’t seen it, it’s time for you to discover the magic. And, if you have… don’t you think it’s time for a re-watch?

What Alice's lovin': You're the Worst

Why she's lovin' it: You're The Worst premiered on the FX Network July 17th, 2014. It was released with little fanfare and even less promotion. In fact, unless you are a die-hard FX fan, you probably didn't even know the show was debuting. The ensuing nine episodes ran weekly, ending quietly in September. If you're not sure which show I'm talking about, I don't blame you. However, YTW has been picked up for Season 2 on FXX, and is now entirely on Hulu and you need to watch it immediately.

The show is outrageously binge-able, with only 10 episodes clocking in a 22 minutes each, so you can easily burn through it in a day or two. Once you put on the first episode, you'll want to. It's centered on Jimmy (Chris Geere), a British writer with a foot fetish and a penchant for always being completely honest and Gretchen (Aya Cash), a self-destructive PR executive who could drink Don Draper under the table. They're mean, toxic and completely perfect for one another. They are literally the worst, and you love them for it. 

A bizarre hybrid of It's Always Sunny and How I Met Your Mother, this series manages to put a fresh spin on the romantic comedy. It's quick, it's cleaver and the dialogue is Happy Endings-level good. Geere and Cash are perfect and atrocious in equal measure, and it's a testament to the casting the the supporting characters nearly run away with the show. 

Gretchen's best friend Lindsay (Kether Donohue) is like Pam Poovey in real life, if she decided to settle down and get married. Edgar Quintero (Desmin Borges) may just be the best thing that's ever happened to sidekicks as a war vet with PTSD who cooks, cleans and provides more emotional support then anyone on the show really deserves. 

So do yourself a favor and check You're the Worst out. It's a world of wonderful, terrible hilarity you wont be able to believe you almost missed.

What Rae's lovin': Stephen King's Finders Keepers

Why she's lovin' it: Finders Keepers is, essentially, a story about the power of stories. Stories may not always change your life, but they can change your heart, and that is sometimes better. In this novel (the second in the Mercedes Killer trilogy), a young Morris Bellamy becomes so obsessed with the novels by a reclusive author that he is willing to kill in order to get his hands on more of his unpublished writing. Years later, another teenager, Peter Saubers, becomes obsessed with the same stories, and their lives intertwine in unexpected and terrible ways. These stories do change their lives, but it’s not always for the better.

Finders Keepers is a murder mystery and thrilling suspense novel; it’s a great read that went by quickly because I couldn’t put it down. Stephen King is no stranger to the concept of a prolific writer who prefers to keep to himself while living in the Northeast, or to the idea that stories can sometimes seem more real and more powerful than actual people in real life. A master at suspense, King delivers another fun thriller that questions what is most valuable: money, words on paper, or the people living in you own tale.

What Megan's lovin': Bravo's Don't Be Tardy

Why she's lovin' it: Okay, so we all love reality TV. Try as we might, it's just how it is. I get so excited when I start to see the over-the-top ads for both The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and The Real Housewives of Orange County. (I'm not partial to many other cities, but I did watch the first few seasons of Atlanta and I have to say, I am totally in love with Kim Zolciak.) When I found out that she was leaving the franchise and would be getting her own miniseries of sorts called Don't Be Tardy for the Wedding, I was so excited. I had to see how this was going to unfold. After the wild success, Bravo decided to pick up the series and continue following her growing family and new marriage to Falcons player Kroy Bierrman.

This show is easily one of the most hysterical half hours on television you'll watch. Kim has zero filter and is always making me laugh. With six children ranging in age from almost two to 18, it's a house full of chaos. Kim eats what she likes, drinks wine out of a Solo cup and pushes her daughter into a pool mid-conversation. Last season, Kim and Kroy set up their foreign nanny on a date where she proceeded to get super drunk. It was absolutely hysterical. If you want a show that's full of love and laughter, I cannot recommend this enough. Not only that, but it's followed by Manzo'd with Children which follows the also hilarious life of Caroline Manzo's family from the New Jersey portion of the franchise. That's some awesome Sunday night family time if you ask me.

Bonus Lovin': Let's talk about the Deadpool trailer. It looks absolutely incredible and I would much rather my boyfriend take me to see that next Valentine's Day than anything Nicholas Sparks expects me to watch. I mean, they used "Shoop" by Salt n' Peppa in the clip. It's sarcastic and fantastic and I need you to watch the Red Band trailer immediately. That's all I ask. Also, TJ Miller is in it, so it's sure to be a good time that will be had by all.

What Deb's lovin': Re-watching Merlin

Why she's lovin' it: This show is just so fun. Merlin was a BBC re-imagining of Arthurian legend that ran from 2008 to 2012. It specifically focused on (young) Merlin and his friendship with Arthur Pendragon, Once and Future King of Camelot. The main drama of the show comes from Merlin basically being the embodiment of magic and forced to protect Prince Arthur in a Camelot that's banned magic by penalty of death. Therefore, he has to make sure Arthur grows up to be a good king, protect him from the numerous evil-doers who want to kill him, and do it all without letting anyone but a select few know he has magic.

Okay, here's the thing: this is a really weird show. I love it and it makes me incredibly happy whenever I watch it, but it's weird. It flips around between being really beautiful and kind of dumb, with wonderful and talented actors delivering fantastic emotional scenes in one episode and another episode going full-on slapstick. During an initial watch of the series, it sometimes seems to suffer from poor plot and character development: things that are supposed to come to pass don't, or characters make decisions that are really terrible, obvious mistakes and you yell at your screen because why don't they see how dumb they are?! After my most recent re-watch, however, these errors -- whether accidentally or intentionally -- just added a new level of human tragedy to the show. Because yes, we as viewers can see where the characters go wrong in listening to omens and prophecies, but it's realistic that these characters - without the hindsight of knowing, via legend, what mistakes they're making - would do stupid, stupid things.

Is this a case of accidental genius? Probably. Are there problems with the show that can only be explained as poor writing? Yes. Do I still love this show with all my freaking heart? HECK YES. I love the mix of comedy and serious drama, the acting, the actors, the pain of sitting through these characters making stupid mistakes, and the joy of watching the heartwarming way they show they care about each other. It's marvelous even when it's irritating, even when I know the writers could have done just a bit more to make it that much better. It's a favorite to watch on a rainy day or after a long day at work, which is how I ended up thinking about it for this week's Summer Lovin' series.

And the ending of Merlin is one of my favorite endings of any series I've ever watched, because even though things don't end happily, they end exactly how they should. Not only because the finale could only go one way if they wanted to adhere to Arthurian legend, but also because it plays out the consequences of all those mistakes and moments of human stupidity I mentioned earlier. I won't say it makes it so everything's forgiven, but it pays off well enough that I can re-watch the show with the same -- if not more -- enjoyment I experienced the first time around.

Also, the extremely sad finale aired on Christmas Eve. Thanks, BBC!

What Anne's lovin': Sarah Dessen's This Lullaby

Why she's lovin' it: The book This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen is one of many of her books that I binge-read (back before binge-watching television was a thing). I was in third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade and I devoured all of her books, both sad and joyful. This one is the latter, though I hesitate to classify it in any other way than a "love story," which is what it is. It is a love story. In my life, more than any of the classics, I would call it the love story.

The plot is simple: Remy, an eighteen-year-old girl preparing for college across the country in the fall, has a system when it comes to relationships. Her perspective is colored by her mother, a hopeless romantic currently with her fifth husband, and her father, who she has never met but knows only from his one-hit wonder, "This Lullaby." In this final summer, Remy's prepared to have a relationship as she's always had: one that means nothing and ends exactly as it should, with no strings attached. That is, until she meets Dexter, a funny and charming musician who is messy in more ways than one.

As my summer winds down, I've been trying to accomplish all of the things I planned back in May. I wanted to cook more, write more, paint more, and read more. Re-reading Sarah Dessen's book has been an easy box to check off. All of the characters -- including Remy and Dexter's respective entourages, Remy's family, and her coworkers -- are realistic and meaningful in their own ways. The world they occupy is as equally detailed as the major characters'.

I don't remember a time when I didn't love romantic comedies, but if that time did exist, This Lullaby stopped me in my tracks and turned me back around. It is such a triumph of a book in every way that it has set the bar for the fiction I read, watch, and write. Long live Remy and Dexter, and long hate Spinnerbait (trust me, when you read it you'll get what I mean).

What Jen's lovin': Marvel's Daredevil

Why she's lovin' it: Since I'm such a huge fan of Arrow, The Flash and Batman, the natural conclusion for many was to recommend Daredevil to me. I'm not one to argue and I'll watch pretty much anything, so I dove in. I may lose points for predictability, but Daredevil was right up my alley.

(It should be noted my obvious preference for DC characters in no way influenced my opinion on Daredevil. I like a good Avenger as much as the next gal. Is DC the far superior brand? Of course. Facts are facts my friends. Daredevil was touted as Marvel's answer to Arrow. And while it is an excellent show, let's just cut to the chase: it's no Arrow. But I still liked it.)

Matt Murdock (Matty to me because we're tight like that) is my kind of hero. I like my heroes dark and I like them twisty. Matty achieves both of these without much effort. My dark and twisty hero needs a heart of gold, however, and lucky for Matty, his is 14 carat. Charlie Cox does an excellent job of interweaving Matty's innate sweetness and his unbridled rage. He's also very pretty to look at. Pretty is necessary. ... For the plot.

One aspect of the Matt Murdock character I always particularly enjoyed is his devote Catholicism. (Spoiler alert: I'm Catholic). Yes, the Ben Affleck version was my first introduction to Daredevil (come on, it wasn't that bad. ... okay it was pretty bad), but I was pleased to see a comic book character struggling with issues of faith. Netflix's version deals with the same heavy themes -- good and bad, right and wrong. If a good man does bad things, is he still good? If a bad man loves, is he still bad? I was pleased to see my faith handled truthfully and respectfully with a healthy dose of humor. The priest was one of my favorite characters and his scenes with Matty were some of my favorite ones.

One thing I love about comic book stories are the villains. The villains are permitted to be over-the-top there. When they are brought to the television or movie screen, you can see the absolute glee the actor emits while playing the character. Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk falls into this category. A larger than life villain, D'Onofirio plays him with glee. He plays Fisk much like a bubbling cauldron -- you just never know when the rage is going to spill over. This creates a tension to every scene and makes the quieter moments of humanity much more interesting.

The romantic subplots left me scratching my head, though. As opposed to my ardent Olicity devotion, I found myself more in The Flash territory when it came to romantic preferences in Daredevil. I enjoyed several permutations of coupling possibilities, but a strong breeze could blow me either way. Matty/Claire, Matty/Karen, Karen/Foggy, Matty/Foggy, Matty/his sticks -- they're all good and acceptable to me. (Personally, Matty/his sticks won me over in the end.)

Matty and Foggy are the backbone of Daredevil, so loving them seems a bit obvious. As for the romance? Eh. If I had to choose, I suppose I would go Karen/Foggy. Those scenes in the bar are just too cute and he saved her from thugs with a baseball bat! Ya hear that Matty? I see your sticks and I raise you a baseball bat.

The action in this series was unbelievable. Three words: hallway fight scene. Any Daredevil fan knows exactly what scene I'm talking about and why I'm tossing major side eye at the Emmy's for not nominating the stunt team. Welcome to the Arrow stunt team's world, Daredevil. For Christmas, I'd like the Arrow stunt team and the Daredevil stunt team to have an all out brawl. Like the Jets and the Sharks.

The only real misfire for me with this show was the pacing. Matty was Laurel Lance'd in his own show. What does it mean to be Laurel Lance'd? The character is separated from the entire cast for so long it feels they are on a different show entirely. I understand Matty's evolution to Daredevil was a slow burn, but they kept him isolated from Foggy and Karen for far too long. Things didn't start clicking with Foggy until episode 10. In a 13-episode season, that's a little too slow on the burner. Daredevil is stronger when it relies on the emotional connections between the characters. Bringing the rest of the cast into the fold sooner rather than later would be a wise lesson to learn from Arrow.

Did I love Daredevil? No, but I liked it. Sometimes love for a television show is a slow burn. I may just need another season. But kudos to those who recommended it. I'm in. 

What are YOU lovin' this week, friends? Hit up the comments below or tweet us! Until then. :)


  1. Maddie, I agree with everything you said about Joanna's performance and Betty's character. She might not be the center of the series, but I think she's the literal heart of it. Also, if we tallied up how many reruns of Reba we've watched, it would blow people's minds. :)

    Anne: I LOVE Sarah Dessen's novels. No one tells a love story in quite the way she does. Her protagonists are so strong and human, and her supporting characters are so eclectic and well-rounded. My all-time favorite is The Truth About Forever. I love rereading it.

    1. Hope, thank you so much for your comment! I totally and completely agree. What I especially admired about her was that she always remembered that the best love stories are ones where the characterization directly feeds into the relationship. So many love stories (Nicholas Sparks and most romantic comedies after 2002) make love the first ingredient, where all you need to make it happen is, like, one stupid joke and very attractive people. Sarah Dessen's books (in this case This Lullaby) made it clear why these two people like each other and the extent of what they mean to each other. I love when writers build good cases for their characters to remain together.

      Also, I LOVED Truth About Forever. Wes was always the hottest one to me, and those two books are the ones I feel fondest about (Just Listen being the third, but I never really was into Owen. I found my type very early on in life haha)

    2. Definitely. Dessen's love stories are so organic and natural, like they just happen. The two characters simply fall into each others' lives. Who they are is what brings them together and makes them fit wonderfully into not only a strong relationship, but also a deep friendship. I think that's why I loved The Truth About Forever so much. The way Macy and Wes just spend time together bonding as true friends was beautiful. To me, THAT is my ideal of a perfect love story. And Wes has yet to be replaced as my favorite of her male characters. I can't remember much about Owen, which probably says something about my attitude towards him.