Saturday, December 8, 2012

Underdogs, Unite! (Five Things You May Not Know About, But Should)

As a fan of Community, I've become used to the term "underdog." And it's occurred to me that there are a lot of "underdogs" in this world that deserve some recognition. There are shows and books that seem like secrets to those who watch or read them -- hidden little gems to be discovered and unearthed. Community is a show that is small in terms of ratings, but mighty in terms of the dedication of its fanbase. I'm proud to call myself a fan of the show and even prouder to align myself with other people who are so passionate about the writers, producers, actors, and content of the show itself. And I'm EVEN prouder to be associated with a show that loves me, the fan, right back -- a show whose actors and writers are accessible via Twitter and other social media outlets, who appreciate and love us, who write and act with us in mind. 

It's quite something to be a fan of the underdog, isn't it? Even though The Big Bang Theory and American Idol may slay us on a weekly basis in Nielsen ratings, the point and purpose of the underdog is not, necessarily, to win but to fight. And fight, Community does. We have made our name known, and because of that, we have won all that matters.

So now, it's time to honor five of my favorite underdogs! These are either shows or books that deserve praise that isn't often given, but always deserved. Ready to find out what I've chosen? Venture below the cut and find out! :)

#5: Squaresville (YouTube)

Watching The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (a show you'll see mentioned a bit down the list) made me fall in love with Mary Kate Wiles (who plays Lydia Bennet). When I heard that she was the star of another web series, I knew I would have to check it out. And I was not disappointed with what I discovered.

Though vastly different from the world of LBD, Squaresville is brilliant in its construction of its main characters. Zelda (Wiles) and Esther (Kylie Sparks) are teenagers, living in a boring town and attempting to navigate through one of the most difficult stages of life -- they're not children, but they're not quite adults yet. It's a series about what it means to discover who you really are, where you fit in, and who matters in your life. Zelda is smart, but also desires to do something with her life... to FEEL something. She, like a lot of people, wants to do something important and meaningful (and maybe a bit reckless), but doesn't know exactly what that means. She wants to live, not just exist. Esther is her snappy and loyal best friend who is navigating the same path as Zelda. She, too, wants to be someone in life, and is struggling to determine who that person is.

Witty, sometimes dark, and always entertaining, I guarantee that Squaresville is the one of the best web series you're not watching yet!

#4: "Room" by Emma Donoghue (2010)

"Room," a novel by Emma Donoghue, is one of the most inventive books I've ever read. It's also one of the most powerful (and I've read a lot of books in my time). The story of how I found this particular book is interesting, and quite unlike me. You see, before Borders closed, I used to walk around the book store closest to my house quite a bit. Over the summer, I became convinced that I needed to find a new novel to start. While wandering through the Fiction section, a bright cover caught my gaze. Never one to purchase a book I had no knowledge or recommendation of, I turned the book over in my hand and read the cover, expecting to be let down by the premise.

I was wrong. The plot of the book intrigued me so much that I actually bought it that day. I never impulse buy books, so this was a huge step for me. When I began reading the book, I was also surprised -- I anticipated a book about a woman and her son being held captive to be depressing and gut-wrenching. (And granted, there are some very moving and powerful aspects to this novel.) But, at its core, this is a story told from the perspective of a five-year old boy -- so it's a story about the haunting aspects of humanity told in the innocent voice of a child.

I won't spoil the novel for you any more than that, but I will say that if you're looking for something different and also gripping, check out this book.

#3: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (YouTube, new episodes air Mondays & Thursdays, 9AM PST)

As I am sure you are aware from my discussion on Monday, I absolutely adore The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. If it hadn't been for Karlee, I would not have known that this wonderful modern-day adaptation of "Pride and Prejudice" existed. So why aren't more people watching this show? Well, for starters, unlike a cable television show, LBD is a YouTube web series and -- if you're anything like me -- a lot of people fail to remember when episodes of shows on this medium air.

Nevertheless, take time to catch up on all 70 episodes of this series before a new one airs on Monday. Why, you may ask? Well, quite simply, LBD is one of the best adaptations of a tale that has been told thousands of times and in just as many ways. More than that, though, this series is about the Bennet sisters and their love for each other. Jane, Lizzie, and Lydia need one another, and are vulnerable without each other. In episode 69, Lydia recently explained to Jane that she feels they work best, not when Bing or Darcy or Caroline are in their lives, but when the sisters (and Charlotte) are together. 

This adaptation is about a love story, yes -- but it's also a story about family, friendship, and trying to figure out exactly who you are in life and what you stand for.

#2: "Paper Towns" by John Green (2009)

This is one more thing that I can credit my darling best friend Karlee for -- the introduction to John Green novels. During breaks from college, a group of us who had been best friends in high school would return home and hang out. We'd spend time at each others' houses, watch movies, and -- in general -- goof off. We picked up right where we left off without missing a beat. So, when Karlee acquired "Paper Towns," it naturally got passed around the group.

I was excited when I FINALLY was leant the book from my friends, and was not disappointed. The group was ecstatic about "Paper Towns" because the story itself was centered in Orlando. We knew the places mentioned in the story -- we had been to those places, walked the same streets Quentin and Margo did. It made us feel, somehow, more connected to the story. And truly, "Paper Towns" is a coming-of-age tale, one that Green writes so beautifully. It's a story about the seemingly unattainable and mysterious girl Margo Roth Spiegelman. After Margo runs away, Quentin ("Q") begins noticing clues that he believes were left for him by Margo in order to find her. And so, as Q embarks to find Margo, he learns more about himself in the process.

Green (who also had a recent success in his novel "The Fault in Our Stars") is a young-adult writer. But what consistently blows my mind is the fact that I am a twenty-four year old college graduate who still weeps at the beauty and intricacy with which he weaves together stories about teenagers. So go find a copy of "Paper Towns" (or TFiOS) and read!

#1: Ben and Kate (Tuesdays, 8:30 PM - FOX)

Ben and Kate is the best new show that no one is watching. Tuesday nights is a competitive spot for television and for comedy, in particular, but this show has quickly moved up the charts and has become my favorite new show this season. Centering around siblings Ben and Kate Fox, it's a show about family -- what it looks like to become a family, and how this brother and sister (along with their respective best friends Tommy and BJ) navigate life and raise Kate's daughter, Maddie, together.

The show has just about everything I adore: a solid pilot episode, engaging characters, hilarious situations, and the most endearing and wonderful sort of heart. Lucy Punch steals every episode as BJ, the snarky and lazy best friend of Kate. Ben and Kate is consistent in its writing and committed to the development of its characters. Truly, it's my favorite new show because of how spot-on it has been since the very beginning. If you're looking for a show that will make you cry laughing one moment and then actually cry the next, this is for you!

So now that I've mentioned some of my personal "underdogs," what are yours? Do you have a television show, book, or movie that is underrated and deserves recognition? Sound off in the comments and let us all know your thoughts! :)


Post a Comment