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.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Younger 5x11 Recap: “Fraudlein” (The End of the World As We Know It) [Guest Poster: Kay-B]


“Fraudlein”
Original Airdate: August 21, 2018

What happens when everyone goes to Frankfurt for the big book fair? Hook-ups, secrets, confessions, and lives changed. So, basically the usual on Younger. Let’s hop to it!

Charles wants Empirical to close all gaps this year at the famous book fair since Millennial is, and will likely be, the shining star of the two companies. Diana tries to get herself out of the trip, but can’t because Charles insists on having all-hands-on-deck after the L.L. Moore scandal that has left them publicly and financially reeling. He specifically calls Zane to take as many meetings as he can and help turn Empirical around.

When the team arrives in Frankfurt, Cheryl Sussman from Plaza Publishing is there to greet them — and also put pressure on Diana to be as wild as she used to get in book fairs past. Diana is more than reluctant; Cheryl is persuasive. And Cheryl can multi-task, making it clear to Liza that she remembers her ongoing lie. But Cheryl insists she isn’t there to blackmail her. In fact, knowing that Diana isn’t paying Liza what she’s worth (and that Empirical Press is in trouble), she offers Liza a job with Plaza. Cheryl — no matter how messy — brings up some valid points about how Liza’s lie can’t last forever. Every day Liza puts her co-workers, their hard work, and their livelihoods at stake when she steps foot in that office. Cheryl is offering Liza more than money; she’s offering her a chance to fully be herself and her age.

Liza and Charles have a hard time staying away from each other during their pause — especially on this trip. They clearly miss each other and I, for one, really want them to have a fair chance. Charles confides in Liza that he has received no word from Quinn Tyler about a potential investment, so he is using the book fair as leverage to meet with tons of investors. Charles is in a very tight spot with only one more quarter’s worth of operating costs on hand. He has no other option, and confides in Liza that the company is doing far much worse than he lets on. If the fair doesn’t pan out positively, the company may have to close its doors for good. On the personal front, Liza reassures Charles that the break between them is temporary and he should focus on getting the company back on track.

While Charles is looking for funding, Millennial is busy being the talk of the book fair with two of their titles selected as “The Book(s) of the Fair.” Marriage Vacation and Capital Letters are now flying off the shelves. Diana’s quick press and marketing thinking land Liza and Kelsey on an impromptu panel to keep the momentum going. While on that panel, an audience member publicly questions Liza’s age. She recommends that Liza take beauty tips from Kelsey in order to look younger. Liza apologizes, but Kelsey is over Liza’s lying; she just wants to drink and celebrate all the accomplishments of the book fair.

During the celebration, Diana (or “Didi,” apparently, when she’s abroad) and Cheryl are AMAZING cabaret dancers and singers. Surprising their co-workers, Didi and Cheryl perform their routine from years past. I am so glad that we are finally seeing Diana more outgoing and less uptight. We really only catch her letting her guard down regularly with Enzo, so it was a delight to see her let loose. After the performance, Cheryl gets drunk and kisses Charles. Diana apologizes profusely on her behalf, and Charles opts to retire back to his hotel solo.

Liza goes to Charles’ room and tells him about the job offer and the new plan. At first, he’s understandably reluctant to lose one of Millennial’s key players. But then Liza explains that this is best decision, and also gives them the opportunity to finally date in public; they don’t have to have any more secrets. Charles asks her how she is going to get out of her contract, and Liza uses her feminine persuasion to get him to fire and release her.

Meanwhile, Cheryl catches Liza on her walk of shame and Liza verbally accepts the Plaza offer.  In true Cheryl fashion, she doesn’t mind her on business and knocks on the door that Liza just left. She figures out that Liza and Charles are sleeping together. Do German hotels not have peepholes?! I have only been once and stayed with friends, but this seemed like it could’ve been prevented if Charles just looked out of his peephole. Cheryl could really learn a thing or two about privacy and minding her business. Let’s see what she does with this new tidbit in the future.

Elsewhere, Kelsey — having had far too much to drink — is taken care of by Zane. Kelsey is starting to question whether or not she misjudged him and his heart for her. He also punches a handsy guy at the bar... who unfortunately ends up being the “big meeting” that Charles needed him to take to get Empirical back on track. So, suffice it say, that isn’t going anywhere. Good thing Charles’ meetings look promising.

Back at home, Malkie, Lauren, Josh, and Maggie enjoy each other’s company. At dinner, Malkie reveals her desire to have kids and the year-long process she went through to get there. She talks about the financial and donor constraints that she has encountered and that are holding her back. Maggie is visibly thrown for a loop and Malkie admits she didn’t think Maggie was ready to know. She was worried about how Maggie would react, with good reason. This conversation turned awkward really fast too because Malkie asked Josh if he would consider being her donor — all before having an in-depth conversation with Maggie about it.

As the episode ends, Liza confesses to Kelsey that she was offered, and accepted, a new role with Plaza. She says it’s time to leave because her lies cannot sustain; she is tired of the collateral damage being left in the path. It is an emotional and raw scene that reminds you the core of the show is Liza and Kelsey’s friendship. Liza values Kelsey so much that she is willing to walk away now before Kelsey resents her. Kelsey doesn’t want to lose Liza professionally but this feels like the right move for everyone. Liza has come to terms with it, but Kelsey definitely has not.

What did you think about the episode? How will season five end? Guess we will find out on the season finale!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Your Winners in the Fourth Annual Golden Trio Awards Are...

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Thank you all for participating in our fourth annual Golden Trio Awards!

I absolutely love the fact that so many of you cheered on your favorite shows, ships, and actors into gold, silver, and bronze places. Unlike most awards which only reward one winner, our awards know there's too much great television out there, so we need to honor THREE winners in each category. Now we get to celebrate who you voted into the top spots in comedy, drama, and our special category.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy celebrating with us!

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OUTSTANDING COMEDY


Gold: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Silver: Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Bronze: The Bold Type

I love that all three of these comedies for different reasons. Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been a consistent, inclusive, positive comedy that focuses not only on co-workers who genuinely like each other but also on how their squad truly became a family. This former-FOX comedy series was renewed this year by NBC after being cancelled on FOX and — as indicated by your ranking — it seems like you all are grateful for that. Here’s to another season of a show that seamlessly blends the serious with the slapstick.

Elsewhere on The CW, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s been soaring among fans and critics. As a boundary-pushing, raucous musical comedy, this show has been even more important in 2018 as episodes addressed mental health diagnoses and suicide. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is the series that’s never afraid to go where other shows would hesitate.

And speaking of no-holds-barred comedies, The Bold Type burst onto Freeform last year as a sweet, diverse, female-centric comedy series focusing on three young women in the magazine industry. The things to appreciate most about The Bold Type are its tenacity and unwavering commitment to opening up discussions among its characters about difficult-to-navigate topics (like intricacies of feminism, racism, sexuality, death, addiction, etc.).

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LEAD ACTOR — COMEDY


Gold: Donald Glover (Atlanta)
Silver: James Roday (Psych: The Movie)
Bronze: Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

It’s no surprise to anyone, really, that Donald Glover has become a household name. Whether writing, directing, or starring in Atlanta (a darker comedy that is consistently layered and nuanced — did everyone else laugh out loud during the Florida Man scenes this year or?), or performing as his alter-ego, Childish Gambino, Glover has made 2018 his year. He deserves the gold place for his outstanding performance in Atlanta.

Psych, meanwhile, had a comeback this year in the form of a standalone Christmas movie. And James Roday has never been funnier. He brought the same charisma and energy to the 2017 film that he did the series, but it was also nice to see Roday’s version of Shawn Spencer a little bit more grown up this time around.

Speaking of growing up, Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta has really exhibited growth personally and professionally! Samberg earns the bronze medal for his role in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Though Jake is still as goofy as ever, he’s grown in his relationship with Amy. At his core, Jake will always be someone who cares about people and his job, and that continues to shine through his performance.

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LEAD ACTRESS — COMEDY


Gold: Alison Brie (GLOW)
Silver: Rachel Bloom (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend)
Bronze: Kristen Bell (The Good Place)

True story: I enjoyed season two of GLOW more than the first season, though both were pretty great examples of why shows can (and should) have female leads at the center. Alison Brie always impressed me in Community, but in GLOW her character — while similar in the ways that both Annie and Ruth want to please others and are perfectionists — has a kind of grit and depth that Annie Edison didn’t get to explore. Her performance toward the end of season two is award-worthy, and I’m glad that GLOW fans voted her to gold in our awards this year.

Also worthy of praise is Rachel Bloom, who was snubbed by the Emmys and Globes this year. Bloom gave an incredible performance as Rebecca Bunch on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend this season, deftly navigating the intricacies of a mental breakdown. She pulled us into her performance and demonstrated how Rebecca truly has learned to grow as a person.

Kristen Bell’s Eleanor also grew as a person this year in The Good Place. While it’s always fun to watch Bell snark and she excels at physical comedy (and line delivery — seriously, her one-liners are impeccable), this year we got to see a little bit more vulnerability from Eleanor. The way Kristen Bell manages to convey the softness of Eleanor without it being cheesy or out of line with the character earns her a place in our final three.

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SUPPORTING ACTOR — COMEDY


Gold: Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Silver: Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Bronze: Tituss Burgess (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt)

Terry might love yogurt (and love), but you all love Terry Crews! This year our gold medal goes to a man who always brings the laughter on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Just the scene of Terry getting his physical exam while Rosa was in an active shooter situation should’ve won him this award. I love that Terry Crews plays a character who is a cop but also extremely sensitive. Terry radiates acceptance and love, and he watches over the rest of the Nine-Nine. I love that.

Elsewhere on FOX this season, New Girl bid audiences farewell, and Max Greenfield gave us some final memorable moments. The thing about Greenfield is that he managed to take what could’ve been a one-note character up notches. Schmidt was never perfect, but Max Greenfield made him incredibly funny and redeemable. His love story with Cece turned out to be one of the strongest elements of the last few seasons, and I love that we got to see some dad!Schmidt before New Girl concluded.

And then there’s Tituss Burgess who continually elevates everything he’s a part of. Burgess was the breakout star of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and even years later, he proves that he’s not slowing down anytime soon. Audiences tune in to hear one of his pop-culture laced tirades or GIF a perfect one-liner. There are certain things meant for Burgess and him alone to deliver, and that’s what makes him so stellar.

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SUPPORTING ACTRESS — COMEDY


Gold: Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Silver: Melissa Fumero (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Bronze: Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live) and Rita Moreno (One Day At A Time)

We’ve got a lot of love for supporting actresses, as there was a tie between our bronze winners! But first, our gold medalist: Stephanie Beatriz. I’m in awe of the ways Beatriz has played Rosa. Not only do I feel like I know Rosa Diaz more every season, but I feel like I know the real, authentic version of herself. Hearing at Comic-Con that the writers consulted Beatriz in Rosa’s coming out storyline was so important — not only in terms of representation, but also in terms of allowing these characters to be fully-formed, real people. That’s what Stephanie Beatriz brought to Rosa this year — a character we didn’t only root for, but one we truly knew.

There’s so much love for Brooklyn Nine-Nine in our awards this year and I love it! Earning the silver medal is Melissa Fumero, an absolute ray of sunshine as Amy Santiago. I love Amy. I love her determination and her dedication to her job. I love how type-A she is. But I also love that Fumero doesn’t allow Amy to just be an archetypal perfectionist. Amy is layered and her relationship with Jake has allowed us to see facets of her personality, which I enjoy. But Amy’s own personal dilemmas and triumphs have allowed her to really shine — especially in her new promotion to sergeant! Melissa Fumero has given us an incredibly engaging, fun, and driven woman to root for on television this year (and every year).

And now we have our tie for bronze: Kate McKinnon and Rita Moreno. McKinnon has proven over and over again the last few years that she’s a force to be reckoned with. This woman is seems equally at home in her Hillary Clinton pantsuit on SNL as she does rocking a Ghostbusters uniform. McKinnon has the incredible talent of melding herself into whichever personality or persona she needs to be for a role, while still maintaining her own sense of comedy and individuality.

And speaking of a force to be reckoned with... let’s talk about Rita Moreno for a moment. This season of One Day At A Time was (as is customary for the series) equal parts humor and sob-inducing scenes. Moreno gave an incredibly powerful performance at the end of this season as her character grappled with death. Moreno is amazing in everything she does — she’s able to recognize what makes Lydia hilarious, strong, opinionated, and proud while also reflecting what makes her scared and vulnerable. Watching Moreno play opposite her cast members is a joy, always, and I’m glad she earned the bronze medal for her performance.

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OUTSTANDING DRAMA


Gold: Orphan Black
Silver: Stranger Things
Bronze: The Handmaid’s Tale

It’s all about the drama, now! Orphan Black bid us farewell last year with a surprisingly sober end — then again, it was fitting because it focused on the clones and that’s really what was the core of the series all along. Not the gunfights or mysteries, but the love between “seestras.”

Meanwhile over on Netflix, season two of Stranger Things focused more on the fallout of season one and allowed us the chance to explore some more mysteries while still appreciating what makes the series great (the kids). It experimented with its structure a little, and earned your silver medal.

On Hulu, The Handmaid’s Tale expanded its story this season by taking plotlines beyond where Margaret Atwood’s novel ended. It continued to be a dark, gruesome, but necessary look at the abuse of power and provided more cautionary tales for us watching the series in 2018.

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LEAD ACTOR — DRAMA


Gold: Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us)
Silver: David Harbour (Stranger Things)
Bronze: Matthew Rhys (The Americans)

You all love Sterling K. Brown, with good reason. Randall Pearson has been a solid pillar for This Is Us, and the journey he experienced this season with Deja and coming to grips with his family’s drama was so important to witness. The thing about Brown is that he makes you really ache for Randall. You want to understand him, you want to hug him, but most important of all — you want to KNOW him. Sterling K. Brown continues to excel in bringing a sense of rawness and realness to this character.

On Stranger Things, David Harbour got to play more of a pivotal role this season. Harbour’s Hopper was arguably the stand-in father figure for Eleven, so watching Harbour and Millie Bobby Brown interact and explore that father/daughter dynamic this season was great. Harbour became a central figure and arguable hero this year, which was definitely needed. Matthew Rhys, meanwhile, played his role on The Americans with the ability to extract deep, emotional moments and convey them to the audience with seeming ease. His consistently underrated performance on the series, especially in the show’s final season, earns him the bronze medal in our awards.

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LEAD ACTRESS — DRAMA


Gold: Melanie Scrofano (Wynonna Earp)
Silver: Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black)
Bronze: Mandy Moore (This Is Us)

What is not to love about a lady going out with a revolver to take on demons and the undead zombies of her family’s lawman past? What Melanie Scrofano really gets right in her portrayal of Wynonna is her ability to deliver a more mature version of the post-Buffy Summers leading action lady. Wyonna’s clever, she’s daring, and takes no crap — all the things that Buffy encapsulated and pasted down to other female heroes. Scrofano also delivers a sense of intelligence to everything she does — she’s got the snark, she’s got the sass, but Scorfano also delivers a character you trust and want to root for. She’s got an ease in Wynonna.

In silver place is Tatiana Maslany, who pretty much deserves an award for every character she played on Orphan Black. Maslany is a wonder to watch, especially when you realize how many little tics and nuances she created to distinguish the clones from each other. Helena, Alison, Cosima, Rachel, and Sarah were all so different from each other. And yet, they were all played by the very same woman who managed not only to make us believe that she was six or seven different people, but also that each of these characters was a character in her own right. I never felt like I was just watching five versions of Tatiana Maslany — I felt like I was watching five different characters on their individual journeys.

Mandy Moore really knocked it out of the park on this season of This Is Us. She conveyed the depth of despair and grief you feel when you lose the person you love. The rawness of that grief was so beautiful and haunting to watch. Moore is part of an ensemble, but she doesn’t get enough credit for how amazing her standalone performances really are. Mandy Moore continues to bring the kind of depth and heart to Rebecca Pearson that I know we will see more of next season.

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SUPPORTING ACTOR — DRAMA


Gold: Shamier Anderson (Wynonna Earp)
Silver: Hale Appleman (The Magicians)
Bronze: Malcolm Barrett (Timeless)

It always happens. You get attached. We lived through it in Lost, in Buffy, if you watch Game of Thrones it’s a constant state of anxiety. Shamier Anderson began Wynonna Earp alongside Melanie Scrofano as Marshall Xavier Dolls, and was one of our two leading heroes. Since then, Anderson has rocked the screen as a bastion of heroics (also he was a human dragon, so points for that).

He was cool, he was suave, he was an all-around enjoyable character. His death was well-orchestrated and carefully planned by Andras who wanted to ensure Anderson went out as heroically (and finally) as possible. And Earpers clearly felt the love for Anderson to give him the gold spot in this year’s supporting actor category.

Hale Appleman takes the silver medal, thanks to all of the fans of The Magicians who voted! And it’s well-deserved, too: throughout his run on the series, Appleman has brought both sarcastic, dry, impeccable humor and also raw emotion to his role as Eliot. The most wonderful thing about Appleman as an actor is that he’s able to perfectly balance the line between Eliot’s dark wit and also his deep, profound emotions. He tends to put up walls around himself but Appleman reveals little cracks in that armor and continues to impress as the series has progressed.

Malcom Barrett began as the comic relief for Timeless, but over the course of the series became more than a guy with one-liners — he gave the most heartfelt performances. Barrett was able to understand what made Rufus tick, and ultimately express that Rufus was more of a “civilian” than Lucy or Wyatt, as the series progressed. His anguish watching trauma unfold throughout history, and the way he grappled with having to make hard choices demonstrated Rufus’ humanity. Timeless wouldn’t have been the same without Malcolm Barrett’s Rufus.

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SUPPORTING ACTRESS — DRAMA


Gold: Summer Bishil (The Magicians)
Silver: Millie Bobby Brown (Stranger Things)
Bronze: Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Summer Bishil is the no-holds-barred literal High King of Fillory over on The Magicians, and earns our gold medal for Best Supporting Actress this year! Bishil proved over and over again in the earlier seasons of The Magicians that she was a comedic force to be reckoned with — her one-liners dripped with snark and the relationship between the equally-sarcastic Eliot and Margo was a blessing to behold. But as Margo grew, Bishil was able to extract the deeper layers of Margo’s character. She’s not the funny, mean, or dryly humorous side character; she’s a leading woman — and Bishil brought all of the deep, complex emotions that Margo feels to the surface this year. Bishil is a force to be reckoned with.

Millie Bobby Brown was, without a doubt, the star of the first season of Stranger Things. In season two, we got a chance to see Eleven’s journey unfold in a very different way than season one. Brown brought vulnerability and growth to the young girl and conveyed her struggle to find her place in the world with grace and ease. She definitely deserves this silver medal for her performance!

How can someone make you feel sorry for a woman who was literally not only complacent in but also a driving force behind the destruction of a country and the sexual slavery of women? Yvonne Strahovski manages to pull humanity out of such a character. She, perhaps, even makes it a tad bit terrifying in that we can very much see ourselves inside her haunting long looks at herself in a mirror or out a window, wondering what went wrong.

Granted, most of us wouldn't be first in line to install an absolute fascist theocracy, but the details aren’t the point in Strahovski’s character or importance. We recognize Serena’s longing through Strahovski’s work, and we recognize someone lost, in pain, and making poor decisions. Her work with Elisabeth Moss also stands as a highlight as we watched them, each week, bounce between allies and possibly near friends only to become enemies again. Kudos to Yvonne Strahovski for delivering an honest portrayal of an otherwise ghoulish villain.

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OTP OF THE YEAR


Gold: Waverly/Nicole (Wynonna Earp)
Silver: Charles/Liza (Younger)
Bronze: Sara/Ava (Legends of Tomorrow)

Waverly Earp isn’t the only contemporary TV lady to discover her sexuality before our eyes (Supergirl also had a solid storyline here). We start out with Waverly dating a scumbag guy and us knowing that she’s worth a lot more. She gets it in the form of Officer Haught. Waverly and Nicole have a relationship growth that is intricate carefully plotted than most storylines of this nature. Nicole and Waverly continue to be more than just the prescribed romance of the show; their relationship becomes an integral part of their characters and their place. Nicole was an integral part of Waverly’s search for her identity and Wynonna Earp has allowed the relationship to flourish without making it the defining feature of either character.

Not to mention SyFy certainly allows the ship its due for moments of... well, heat. Ultimately, Wayhaught is one of the most realistic (minus the revenants and stuff) female romantic relationships on TV right now. It’s an incredibly supportive relationship that tells an important story about self-discovery and finding your safe place (or, in this case, person).

After literal years of will-they-won’t-they, Charles and Liza finally took the full plunge into a relationship on this season of Younger! Of course, their relationship isn’t without the bumps and drama — they only forged their connection once Charles learned about Liza’s secret from someone other than her. Throughout the entire series though, what I always appreciated was how Charles respected and saw Liza for who she really was; he always pointed out how incredible she was. Peter Hermann and Sutton Foster have undeniable chemistry and though I know the path for Charles and Liza won’t be easy, I know it’ll be worth it.

First off, Sara Lance is an incredibly layered, nuanced and — importantly — bisexual superhero on television right now. And she got the chance to be happy this season on Legends of Tomorrow. Sara and Ava haven’t had an easy road (that seems to be a theme, right?) but the fact that Caity Lotz mentioned how this upcoming season will explore the softer sides of both tough, kick-butt women while in a relationship is enough to make fans of the pairing excited — and also earn them a bronze medal in this category!

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OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE


Gold: Wynonna Earp
Silver: Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Bronze: Legends of Tomorrow

When you think of a TV western, you might think the genre is outdated. When you think of a supernatural TV western you might think, “Wow, that sounds like a hokey Supernatural rip-off.” But Wynonna Earp has proved through its two seasons that its female heavy cast, queer representation, and just plain fun concept make it something worth watching. Shows employing the Scooby Gang mentality when it comes to an ensemble cast can sometimes fall flat. But Wynonna Earp’s cast continues to be a ball of fun and a healthy collection of equally talented people. I could go into specifics, like Dominique Provost-Chalkley’s great work with Katherine Barrell (just look at that Wayhaught win!), or Melanie Scrofono’s excellence as captain of the show. But know that, ultimately, this cast makes the show pretty darn fun, pretty darn gut-wrenching at times, and just an excellent little SyFy series. And it was just renewed for a fourth season! Get hype, Earpers (and Earpers-to-be)!

In silver place is Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s ensemble. If you watched the cast’s panel from Comic-Con, you know why these people deserve a medal — they’re so utterly delightful and clearly love each other! This cast continues to shine in everything they do, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine truly is an ensemble series from start to finish; the comedy, the heart, and the power in the stories come from the group.

Coming in with the bronze medal is Legends of Tomorrow! This show has always been about the ensemble, with Caity Lotz’s Sara Lance leading the charge. But the beauty of this show is how many different character combinations and relationships are explored because of the heroes aboard the Waverider. Here are to more adventures and character growth in the next season!

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OUTSTANDING NEW SERIES


Gold: Killing Eve
Silver: Queer Eye
Bronze: Cloak and Dagger

Killing Eve has been hailed as haunting, terrifying, and excellent. Earning a gold medal in our awards this year, it is not only acclaimed by fans but also critics. The depth of psychological exploration, prominence of female characters, spy-thriller vibes, and incredible performances have earned it acclaim — and it’s only in its first season! There’s significance in how Killing Eve is willing to, and does, explore genres while still managing to anchor itself in its lead (Sandra Oh). No doubt, it’ll continue to earn acclaim in the future too!

Meanwhile, Queer Eye is the kind of delightful, feel-good series we needed on Netflix this year. With all the terrible things that happen on a daily basis, it was necessary to watch the Fab Five transform the lives of people in the country and for them to leave transformed too. I don’t know about you either, but the series brought me to tears on more than one instance. Thanks be to Netflix and the Fab Five for reminding us that we have the power to be our best selves, and we just need to believe that every once in a while.

Cloak and Dagger is Freeform’s answer to The CW’s superhero overload, and it’s a breath of fresh air because of it. Starring two young, fresh faces (Olivia Holt and Aubrey Joseph), this Marvel superhero show focuses on the gritty realities of redemption, heroism, fear, and sacrifice. It’s often dark and its heroes are not perfect — but that’s what makes the show so important. Tandy and Tyrone are fallible, each in different ways, and that’s why we connect with them. I’m grateful the show is coming back for a second season — and evidently so are you guys!

We’re so excited that you all participated in the Golden Trio Awards this year! Congrats to the winners and we hope to see you all again next year!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Younger 5x10 Recap: “Girls on the Side” (Everything Isn’t What It Seems) [Guest Poster: Kay-B]


“Girls on the Side”
Original Airdate: August 14, 2018

What happens when the tables turn in the relationship between Liza and Caitlin? Does Liza even know the difference between reality and this world she’s created built on lies? How much longer can she keep secrets? This week’s Younger answers these questions and more!

It’s the first weekend apart for the newly-dating Charles and Liza, but Charles is being quite vague about why he is going on a mysterious last-minute business trip to Sun Valley. Liza — disappointed that they can’t go away together — quickly bounces back because life has other plans to keep her preoccupied.

Meanwhile Josh, signing the ten-year lease on his business after a big push from Liza, finally relaunches his newly renovated and upscale tattoo parlor, now affectionately known as Inkburg 2.0. Kelsey warned Liza that everything Josh does is to impress her, but she assured her that they are just friends. Liza must be blind though, because Josh lights up like a child on Christmas morning any time she is around. Liza is the love of his life and he would do anything for her.

So after he publicly thanks her for helping him get to this point of success in his life, he surprises her with a visit from Caitlin! Josh is so thoughtful, especially when it comes to Liza. The idea that she can’t see that he is still in love with her though is insane. At this point, I believe that she is choosing to look beyond his feelings and live in a space of friendship to avoid dealing with it directly — especially now that she’s dating Charles.

Caitlin, who very clearly wants her mom and Josh to be together, brought a surprise of her own in the form of her new, much older, former English professor boyfriend. Liza is upset, naturally, because this is her daughter. But comes off as a bit of a hypocrite since she dated Josh and provided the blueprint for Caitlin to date someone in a different age bracket. Caitlin suggests they all go to brunch, and Liza has to keep drinking as more and more details of the relationship between this older man and her daughter are revealed. Liza, the mom, wants to shield her daughter; but Caitlin needs to experience some things on her own.

Meanwhile in Sun Valley, Millennial’s newest author, Quinn, is flirting up a storm with Charles and posting about it on social media. With Liza and Charles still actively hiding their relationship, the flirting obviously strikes a nerve with Liza. She isn’t entirely sure where they stand as a couple and it makes her a bit wary. When she openly confesses to Josh that she and Charles are in a new relationship, he challenges her to really think about whether or not this is real. Josh feels so much for Liza and was always honest with her, while Liza is constantly wrapped up in lies. And this is when Josh tries to make her realize how damaging this non-stop cycle of lies truly is. Josh loves Liza, but firmly decides after their conversation that he needs to move on. He even repurposed his tattoo that they got together.

When Caitlin’s professor boyfriend asks her to leave the wedding they attended in fear of getting caught by a faculty attendee, she rushes to her mom. Liza comes clean about the lies she’s told over the past five years to get and maintain a job in publishing and support Caitlin and herself. She also admits to her secret relationship with Charles, in an attempt to try and teach Caitlin the error and harm in lying and creating these secretive environments. She encourages Caitlin to know her value and worth, and to start to receive the type of love she deserves.

When Charles returns from his business trip, Liza wastes no time letting him know that she felt uneasy about his time in Sun Valley, because it seemed like it was more then just business with Quinn. Charles confesses that Quinn is interested in investing in the company, and reassures her that he’s all in with her... just in private for now. Charles can’t be all-in in public quite yet, because things are complicated with work and his impending divorce. Liza, realizing that she only wants him in whole not in part, takes a stand and tells Charles to call her when he’s ready to go public with their relationship.

Elsewhere in the episode, Diana has her first major test with Enzo’s family. His mom invites her to dinner and asks her to bring a dish. Liza gets Maggie to make her world-famous lasagna on Diana’s behalf, and Enzo’s mother immediately knows Diana’s cooking skills are a farce. Instead of calling her out, she requests her assistance in preparing the rest of the meal. Diana works hard and tries her best, but one cheese topping mistake and Enzo’s mother loses it. She basically tells Diana that she’ll never be good enough. And while she thinks Diana will take it, Diana snaps back! She gives Enzo and his mother some hard truths about why he hasn’t settled down yet — and a lot of that is rooted in his mother’s consistent babying of him. Enzo agrees, follows Diana, and asks her to give him another chance. He will be finally leaving the nest and getting an apartment in the city!

This episode was really good to me. Seeing the level of discomfort on Liza’s face when Caitlin introduced her boyfriend was priceless. Also for the first time since her divorce, Liza is in a relationship with someone she really likes, and who understands her work, her divorce, and parenthood — yet she can’t share that openly with the world. This leads to a bigger issue of her double life catching up with her and not being sustainable. Having Josh confront Liza empowers her to really do some introspective work, which is exactly what this show needs to drive home this season’s last couple of episodes. Does Liza even know herself anymore? Does anyone know the real her?

Tell me your thoughts! Did you enjoy the episode? How much longer will Charles and Liza have to be apart? Will Enzo and Diana be getting engaged this season? Should Liza just be single and figure out who she is and what she wants? And will she sacrifice everything she’s built with Kelsey at Millennial for the sake of her relationship with Charles? Until next week!

Finding Your Voice: A Review of The Book of Essie [Contributor: Megan Mann]


I watch a lot of TV. Most people can say that, but really, I watch a lot of TV and I would say almost half of it is reality television. (I once told my cable provider that the package wouldn't do unless it involved Bravo.) So when it comes to the books that I read, I try to keep reality TV out of the binding as much as possible.

And then I made an exception for The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir.

The book follows Esther Hicks — Essie, for short — who is a member of the Six for Hicks reality show that has been airing since before she was born. Her father is a famous preacher and her mother is the quintessential matriarch. She's polished and fraudulent in ways that only those behind the scenes can understand. But Essie has a secret: she's pregnant, and she needs to figure out how to work the situation to get exactly what she wants.

What follows is a story that is constantly surprising you and leaving you guessing about what's going to happen next. It twists and turns and has multiple points of view in order to give you a full picture of what's really happening.

In short, what you think is not what's really true.

I absolutely loved The Book of Essie. I thought it was truly spectacular in how it frequently threw me for a loop and was never boring. I definitely did not find the plot to be dry. While there are times that the pacing is a bit more intentional and slow, it didn't ever feel like it was stalled. In that sense, the book's pace was perfect, drawing you in and making you want to know what was going to happen next.

Generally speaking, I can usually figure out what's going to happen in a book, plot-wise, or what the big reveal is going to be. But with The Book of Essie, I had no idea what was going to happen as the story unfolded. What the author does is give you, the reader, the basics and never really elaborates on  certain elements so that when the reveal comes, you're shocked and blown away. It's fantastic.

Another thing that's really great about this book is how it takes the idea of reality television and flips it on its head. It breaks down the barrier created between the editing room and our screens. And it demonstrates the idea that while we're getting reality from a "reality show," it's only a version of reality. It's not a whole picture, though it's usually enough to give us an idea of who those people are. When you look behind the camera into what's really going on, you realize how easy it is to create a facade and become an image — a brand. It tarnishes the idea of honesty and I loved that about this book. It's that facade that allows the events of this story to take place.

The Book of Essie is a story about finding your voice and standing up for yourself, even when the consequences might be devastating. It's about getting away from a situation that no longer benefits you and finding peace and happiness. It's a story about a girl who is ready to break free of the facade that has held her captive for her whole life.

The Book of Essie is a fantastic read and one you should pick up today!

Thursday, August 9, 2018

6 Reasons to Binge-Watch Insecure [Contributor: Megan Mann]


As the summer winds down, there are plenty of shows that you could be watching to fill up the time before the regular TV season begins. Sure, you could probably find another show to binge on Netflix or Hulu — or go with the old standby of re-watching one of your favorite shows. But allow me to tempt you with something your life is missing tremendously.

I give you: Insecure.

HBO’s original series created by, and starring, Issa Rae is easily one of the best shows you’re not watching. It follows Issa as she navigates life in Los Angeles, which includes pitfalls and triumphs of the usual twenty-something character: friendships, relationships, jobs, and understanding your place in the world. But the show makes those journeys actually feel real. The series is accessible and downright hilarious, but also carries so much heart.

There are plenty of reasons to watch this show, but here are just a few reasons to entice you:

1. Issa Rae is incredible.

If you’ve ever read Issa Rae’s memoir The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl (which you should if you haven’t already), you’ll know that she is truly hilarious. She has a way of explaining life in a way that you really know she gets what you think and feel. This, wonderfully, translates on screen to Insecure. She not only makes you want to be her friend, but her mirror chats with herself are something we can all relate to when we try to pump ourselves up.

This girl’s shine is about to blind us all, so why don’t you just hop on the train now?

2. The cast is stellar.

Not only is Issa Rae an absolute star, but the rest of the cast is fantastic as well. Her best friend is played beautifully by Yvonne Orji. Frieda is the awkward, but lovable friend you work with. Tiffany, played by Amanda Seales, is that girl in the relationship that can’t stop talking about it that you sort of get annoyed with, but still talk to anyway. And Natasha Rothwell — who recently stole any scene she was in in Love, Simon — has you cackling more often than not as Kelli. Jay Ellis, Y’lan Noel, and Chad Kerr round out the cast of men that offer their own individuality to their characters and how they fit into Issa’s life. No one character is the same as the other, and I think that’s one of the best aspects of the show.

3. The friendships are important.

Circling back to wanting to be Issa's friend, you’ll see yourself in the friendships Issa has. We all have a best friend like Molly, who is literally the exact opposite of us, but who will ride or die for us no matter what. It’s being able to rely on a friend — someone you can fight with (like when Issa tells Molly she needs therapy) and know that it’ll eventually blow over — that makes growing up and finding our place in the world that much easier.

But it’s not just the friendship with Molly that you’ll love. Issa’s friends Tiffany and Kelli are people that you know you have in your life or have come in contact with. Frieda is a great work friend that you sometimes clash with. However the friendship is, at the core, the thing that sets the series in motion.

Without these people — without Issa being able to use them as a sounding board — Issa would be a different person. For me, seeing female friendship at the core of a series is important in today’s society. We need shows that focus more on the friendship, like Issa and Molly’s, rather than the romantic exploits of a modern woman. A woman doesn’t always need a man, but she will always need her best friend.

4. The show is authentic.

The authenticity really makes Insecure stand out. There are plenty of episodes where I have to hit pause and appreciate how real the show is. Sure, it’s a work of fiction, but the situations Issa finds herself in are entirely relatable. Sometimes we make mistakes and we have to live with the consequences, even if they hurt. Sometimes we say things that we shouldn’t, or hold back when we should have spoken up. Sometimes we don’t feel motivated to be better or move forward. We get stuck. We break up. We think we’re unlovable. We aren’t always a good friend.

For a twenty-something watching this show, the subject matter is so relatable that you wonder if your own life is being monitored and mined for an upcoming episode. There’s something special about being able to relate to what you’re watching. It gives you a sense of comfort that reminds you that you are not alone.

5. It’s hilarious!

I don’t even need to elaborate further. It’s absolutely hilarious, will have you hitting pause more than a few times to process a line and really appreciate it for its innate and subtle humor. This is a writer’s room any writer would kill to be a part of. Most specifically, the mirror pep talks and anything Kelli says are hysterical. Insecure will make you laugh, while also having a ton of heart. Win-win!

6. It is concise.

It’s literally eight episodes a season. EIGHT. At only 28 minutes! If you can sit down and watch an hour-long episode of a Netflix original series, you can definitely watch 26-28 minutes of absolute magic.

Best of all? Season three premieres THIS SUNDAY, August 12! So, queue up the HBO app or head to your local library to rent the DVDs, sit back, and binge all 16 episodes of the first two seasons. It’s something you’ll thank me for later.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

4th Annual Golden Trio Award -- SPECIAL CATEGORY NOMINEES

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Here is where the fun really begins, friends! Our Special Category is a bit shorter than in years past, but we're excited to have you vote in our #OTPoftheYear category (which is arguably one of our biggest and most popular ones each year)!

Never participated in the #GoldenTrioAwards? Here's how it works: Based on a fun, interactive game called #Top3 that our assistant editor, Chelsea, created years ago, these awards don't just have one winner — they have three! Like the Olympics, each category will wind up with a gold, silver, and bronze medalist at the end of the voting period.

Vote your favorites to the top three slots, and share the love!

OTP OF THE YEAR



OTP OF THE YEAR

Rafael/Jane ("Jane the Virgin")
Nick/Jess ("New Girl")
Sara/Ava ("Legends of Tomorrow")
Charles/Liza ("Younger")
Waverly/Nicole ("Wynonna Earp")
Jughead/Betty ("Riverdale")

OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE



OUTSTANDING ENSEMBLE

"This Is Us"
"Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
"Legends of Tomorrow"
"The Bold Type"
"Wynonna Earp"
"Orange is the New Black"

OUTSTANDING NEW SERIES



OUTSTANDING NEW SERIES

"Cloak and Dagger"
"Splitting Up Together"
"Sharp Objects"
"The Joel McHale Show with Joel McHale"
"Queer Eye" (Netflix)
"Killing Eve"

Don't forget to vote in the COMEDY and DRAMA categories too!

4th Annual Golden Trio Awards -- DRAMA NOMINEES

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Welcome to the fourth annual Golden Trio Award drama nominees! Life got heavy in the real world this year, but that doesn't mean our television favorites escaped hard times either. Whether a dystopian society, family issues, or battling creatures, the following nominees excelled.

Never participated in the #GoldenTrioAwards? Here's how it works: Based on a fun, interactive game called #Top3 that our assistant editor, Chelsea, created years ago, these awards don't just have one winner — they have three! Like the Olympics, each category will wind up with a gold, silver, and bronze medalist at the end of the voting period.

Vote your favorites to the top three slots, and share the love!

OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES



OUTSTANDING DRAMA SERIES

Orphan Black
Stranger Things
The Crown
The Handmaid's Tale
This Is Us
Black Mirror

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES



OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Kyle MacLachlan ("Twin Peaks")
Sterling K. Brown ("This Is Us")
John Legend ("Jesus Christ Superstar")
Jeffrey Wright ("Westworld")
Matthew Rhys ("The Americans")
David Harbour ("Stranger Things")

OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES



OUTSTANDING LEAD ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Claire Foy ("The Crown")
Amy Adams ("Sharp Objects")
Sandra Oh ("Killing Eve")
Mandy Moore ("This Is Us")
Tatiana Maslany ("Orphan Black")
Melanie Scrofano ("Wynonna Earp")

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES



OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A DRAMA SERIES

Hale Appleman ("The Magicians")
Shamier Anderson ("Wynonna Earp")
Justin Hartley ("This Is Us")
Matt Smith ("The Crown")
Malcolm Barrett ("Timeless")
Matthew Goode ("The Crown")

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES



OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A DRAMA SERIES

Yvonne Strahovski ("The Handmaid's Tale")
Letitia Wright ("Black Mirror")
Vanessa Kirby ("The Crown")
Summer Bishil ("The Magicians")
Millie Bobby Brown ("Stranger Things")
Thandie Newton ("Westworld")

Don't forget to vote in the COMEDY and SPECIAL CATEGORY too!