Ted Lasso, Rom-Coms, and Emotional Vulnerability

Why is it important that a show about men who play soccer did a rom-com homage?

Dickinson Behind-the-Scenes: An Interview With the Artisans

Meet the artists who brought the Apple TV+ series to life!

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Looking for a new TV series to watch? We recommend them based on your preference for musicals, ensemble shows, mysteries, and more!

Monday, July 29, 2019

SDCC 2019: The Riverdale Cast Talks All Things Senior Year [Guest Poster: Kay-B]

(Photo credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

My favorite event to cover is San Diego Comic-Con, and this year did not disappoint! I had a chance to talk to the Riverdale seniors: KJ Apa (who plays Archie Andrews), Cole Sprouse (Jughead Jones), Lili Reinhart (Betty Cooper), Camila Mendes (Veronica Lodge), and Madelaine Petsch (Cheryl Blossom) who shared what’s to come in the form of academics, family, murder and mayhem in the cursed town of Riverdale.

Here is some scoop...

On Jughead’s arc for the season:

“Jughead’s only in Riverdale on the weekends now. So his main storyline is the prep school, which is the foundation and building blocks of the flash-forwards that we're doing with season four, ” Sprouse told me.

The locus of the mystery of this season is this very strange elitist prep school. The way it was described was very Gossip Girl prep, like Upper East Side kids. And then Jughead. It's sort of like Dead Poets Society. He got into this school because of the story he submitted to a writing contest about the gargoyle king. So a teacher being fascinated with his voice takes him into this prep school.”

On Veronica’s newfound freedom this season:

“Veronica is focusing on applying for colleges and dealing with the repercussions of her father's actions,” Mendes shared. “Both of her parents are in prison. She put her father, Hiram (Mark Consuelos) in there and she wants him to be there. I don’t think she wanted her mom to be there though.

But Hiram ... is causing hell in her life, making it hard for her to get into college, and reacting to the fact that she put him in prison. So because of the conflict with her parents and their current imprisonment, Smithers is her legal guardian. Mostly the house is unsupervised, which means anyone can come over and sleep over whenever they want.”

On Cheryl’s emotional state:

Petsch added: “Well, season four picks up three months later, and [the characters are] about to start their senior year of high school. And Cheryl is hyper-focused on getting into college and bringing her girlfriend, Toni, with her.

Mentally [though], she’s kind of sinking. She's hiding her brother's dead body in her basement and, after the events from the farm, she still believes she’s speaking with him. She truly feels like he’s back with her again. And I think we’re going to have to address that fairly quickly at the beginning of the season.”

On Betty’s complicated relationship with her father:

“It’s two and a half months after [Betty] saw her dad get killed in front of her, which is not a great thing to have [to] experience,” Reinhart explains. “Betty is sort of struggling with the idea that she feels like she can’t grieve him because of who he was. He was such a bad person, so morally wrong, and he was a murderer. She feels like she can’t fully grieve him or miss him because that would make her a bad person.

So that’s sad because she still has all of these memories of him being a good father to her growing up. It’s a little heartbreaking to see her deal with that. But Jughead is there for her in that situation. She’s going to lean on her friends since she can’t trust too many people, and her circle of friends is getting a little bit smaller. I think the core four is strong this season because they are all each other has.” 

On Archie’s relationship with Veronica and his mom this season: 

“Archie and Veronica both have a lot going on in their lives right now. They need each other more than ever,” Apa mentioned.  “Also, with Archie's dad being absent this season, we get to spend a lot more time with Archie and his mom, Mary (played by Molly Ringwald), which is a relationship we never really got to get to know quite well. Molly and I have already had some amazing scenes together so far. It’s been good getting to know how our characters interact with each other more. I think a lot of the stuff this season is based around relationships, especially between the core four figuring out things that we didn't know beforehand.”

Riverdale has always been so great at complex storytelling and taking the audience on journeys filled with unsuspecting twists and turns. It sounds like season four is no different; not only will we have dynamic mystery stories but also heavy family and relationship arcs as well.

Be ready for it all when Riverdale premieres October 9th, only on The CW!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Jenn’s Pick: 10 Underrated TV Actresses [Contributor: Jenn]

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You don’t have to be a television aficionado to know that being in the “golden age of television” can feel simultaneously exciting and overwhelming. Where there used to be only cable networks to choose from, today’s options for entertainment are vast and diverse. From YouTube original series to an array of streaming platforms, it seems like there’s scarcely a place you can’t watch television.

And since the TV landscape is jam-packed with talent, sometimes actors, actresses, and series get a little lost in the shuffle. There is just so much television and not enough time. (For instance, I just started watching Schitt’s Creek, a series I barely hear anyone talk about!)

But since here at Just About Write we value women as much as we value pop culture — if not more — I thought it’d be nice to talk about some unsung heroes of television: these underrated television actresses. Though I think all of these women deserve accolades, most have given performances that have been brilliant and yet also flown lower under the radar.

So let’s celebrate ten underrated television actresses, shall we?

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Hilary Duff
Younger (TV Land)

I grew up in the 2000s, so of course I loved Hilary Duff as the title character in tween comedy Lizzie McGuire (shout-out if you also remember the movie and/or can quote it by heart). So when I realized that Younger starred Broadway star Sutton Foster and an actress from my childhood, I knew I had to check it out. Hilary is consistently impressive in the series, navigating Kelsey’s desires for love, power, and friendship. She’s a young woman who’s trying to thrive in a career where men dominate. She’s a young woman who’s trying to figure out the complexities of friendships, loyalty, and relationships.

And Hilary not only portrays this struggle but also the heart that Kelsey has behind it all. She’s not a mean girl. She’s not a diva. She’s a woman who is compassionate and kind, but tough and fierce. She’s not afraid to stand up for her beliefs, but she also messes up. Hilary really nails the emotional moments Kelsey experiences too with such genuine and heartfelt emotion. I’m grateful Younger exists to continue to showcase Hilary Duff’s talent!

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Alison Brie
GLOW (Netflix)

I’ve loved Alison Brie since Community. Annie Edison was a go-getter, driven, perfectionistic — in essence, a lot of the things I am. In GLOW, Alison plays a character who shares a lot of the optimism that Annie Edison had but she also brings an incredibly real, raw depth to her performance as Ruth. There are some really powerful scenes in season two where Ruth breaks down, and you can palpably feel the pain, anger, and heartbreak.

Alison Brie is deceptive in the best way possible — she’s able to perfectly portray innocence and enthusiasm. But then she can hit you with an intense display of vulnerability and emotion. It’s something she navigates incredibly well and leaves you reeling. Not to mention the fact that Alison Brie is an immensely funny person too with impeccable comedic timing. I can’t wait to see her continue to tackle the emotional nuances of Ruth in the new season of GLOW.

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Kimrie Lewis
Single Parents (ABC)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Watch Single Parents on ABC as soon as possible. The show was thankfully renewed and I can honestly say it was one of my favorite series last year. The show has an ensemble of incredibly talented people (Leighton Meester is an absolute gem in the series), but I wanted to take special note of underrated Kimrie Lewis. Kimrie plays Poppy, the single mother to a vivacious, fantastic young boy. Poppy herself is self-sufficient, witty, and intelligent. But even with Will as soft and kind as he is, honestly Poppy might just be the heart of the group — and Kimrie does a wonderful job conveying her layers.

In the first season we get to see Poppy’s humor and heart, as well as her vulnerability, on display. Kimrie plays her as this perfect balance of kindness and kick-butt ferocity. She’s just as much at home on the couch with a glass of wine as she is donning an evening gown to visit The Bachelor mansion (please watch this show if for no other reason than the little crossover we get in one of the episodes with The Bachelor).

Kimrie is a talented actress to watch and you truly need to see her shine on Single Parents! Catch up before the season two debut in September.

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Justina Machado
One Day At A Time (Netflix; Pop TV)

I don’t think anyone made me cry more in 2019 (or 2018, or 2017...) than Justina Machado. Thank goodness Pop TV rescued One Day At A Time after its cancellation at Netflix because I need more of this show in my life! Not only is Justina an incredibly talented comedic actress (her facial expressions and physical comedy is so impressive; she fills up every space she’s in and commands the scenes), but she is one of the most underrated, yet wildly talented emotional actresses. She made this evident in the show’s first and second seasons with her ability to make you overtly weep over storylines about PTSD, anxiety, addiction and depression. But she just keeps getting better and better each year, and I am amazed that she isn’t a household name yet.

Penelope is a fun, strong, and compassionate character. Her kindness and love for people is only rivaled by her desire for their happiness and success. Her scenes this season with Todd Grinnell (especially toward the back half of the season) were impeccable. I cannot sing the praises of this inclusive, emotional, hilarious show enough. And I won’t stop singing the praises of Justina Machado either!

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Emily Bett Rickards
Arrow (The CW)

Admittedly, I stopped watching Arrow consistently a few years ago (sorry, show, but you kinda sucked life out of me). Nevertheless, I’m constantly amazed that no one has seemed to recognize Emily Bett Rickards for her talent over the years! This woman has done incredible work and, arguably, has held the series together as its glue when the writing was in shambles. Since the past season’s finale was her last (I expect she’ll make some sort of return in the series finale at least), I thought it was appropriate to honor her here. Emily Bett Rickards has done immense work with Felicity Smoak over the last several years. She was so captivating in the first appearance that she became a regular part of the series even though that was never the intent. And it’s a testament to her chemistry with Stephen Amell and presence on screen that she went from a presumed one-off role to the show’s leading lady.

What I was always impressed by was Emily’s impeccable navigation between nervous awkward comedy to genuinely heartbreaking emotion. She’s the kind of actress who can make you feel something so deeply by just the look in her eyes. There have been countless moments over the years where I’ve just watched a GIF of a facial expression or nuance she’s made over and over, impressed by her ability to communicate feeling and the intentional choices she makes. Emily understood Felicity deeply; I know she loved her as a character, and it shows. Felicity was an incredible, complex woman — someone who was equal parts moral compass, light, and tragedy. Emily fought hard in her portrayal to make sure Felicity always stood out and stood on her own, never needing to be defined by another character to make an impact. Even though she was the other half of the show’s major romantic pairing, Emily Bett Rickards didn’t need Stephen Amell to shine — she just shone by existing.

As Arrow wraps up, it felt right to acknowledge how hard Emily worked over the years and the journey she went on with this character. May we always remember her for her heroism, love, and hilarious Freudian slips.

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America Ferrera
Superstore (NBC)

I started binge-watching Superstore on a whim, and fell in love with it pretty quickly. It’s often awkward and silly but sometimes downright unexpectedly emotional. America Ferrera is the heart of this workplace comedy (NBC really does this genre of shows well), but she’s also been given the chance to do really great emotional beats too. America’s Superstore character, Amy, begins the series feeling trapped and by the end of the most recent season we’re able to truly step back and see how much she’s grown. She’s taken on more professional responsibilities and leadership and America walks the line between Amy’s awkwardness (which often lands her in some hilarious situations) and her stoicism well. She’s the kind of character who loves antics but also knows they have their time and place. I love that we get the opportunity to see not only America Ferrera’s comedic timing but also some somber, dramatic moments too. If you haven’t watched the most recent season finale, you definitely should.

I’m thankful that America Ferrera gets to bring Amy to life each week and can’t wait to see what she does with her next season!

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D’Arcy Carden
The Good Place (NBC)

Every actor on The Good Place deserves an accolade. Seriously. The writing deserves all the accolades. And while I’m devastated next season will be the series’ last, I’m grateful it gets to end on its own terms — something a lot of shows don’t have the luxury to do these days. Nevertheless, you likely noticed that the underrated actress I want to honor is none other than D’Arcy Carden.

It’s easy to take for granted the difficulties the actress must have had in playing the show’s operational mainframe; but when you realize those difficulties, it makes D’Arcy’s performance all the more impressive. While the other characters on the show are humans, there are unique tics that Janet has because she is not human (or a robot). The way she forms sentences is different. Her facial expressions are different. And her emotional nuances and beats are different. All of these subtleties are incredibly well-communicated by D’Arcy, who makes it look effortless and natural.

Speaking of making things look like they’re effortless and natural, D’Arcy deserves all the awards possible for her performance in “Janet(s)” this year. This woman not only had the normal difficulties of getting into Janet’s character but then also had to embody, while not satirizing, the other actors’ performances of THEIR characters.

D’Arcy absolutely knocked it out of the park in that episode, and I know from reading interviews with her that she was incredibly intentional in the way she observed and then portrayed her fellow actors as their characters. This woman deserves an Emmy for her work for sure. Janet is such a great character with growing emotional depth and layers thanks to D’Arcy Carden. I’ll miss The Good Place terribly and will definitely miss Janet.

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Yara Shahidi
grownish (Freeform)

It’s actually really great how much I waffle between loving Zoey Johnson and being irritated by her choices. Why? Because that’s the mark of a complex character, and one who Yara Shahidi plays flawlessly. Though I ended up reversing my watch order and binge-watching the first season of grownish before I started blackish, I was nearly immediately compelled by Zoey as a character. She begins her spin-off series na├»ve about the world and admittedly there’s still a lot of privilege and pride in Zoey’s actions and decisions even in the current season. But what’s great (besides Yara’s impeccably hilarious deadpans at the fourth-wall-breaking camera) about grownish and Zoey as a character is that we are welcomed into her messy, non-linear growth. We don’t always agree with her. The show doesn’t always ask us to believe she’s in the right. And Yara does a great job portraying that kind of complexity in her inner/external monologues. She breaks the fourth wall in certain scenarios to recognize she’s wrong, to rant, or to process her feelings and determine that she was right after all.

It’s a testament to how good Yara is that she manages to navigate those complexities in Zoey with grace. She communicates the young woman’s thoughts and feelings with humor and prowess. Zoey can be stubborn and proud, but she’s also incredibly passionate and loving. And Yara Shahidi captivates us in any and every of Zoey’s journeys!

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Aidy Bryant
Shrill (Hulu)

You likely know Aidy Bryant of Saturday Night Live fame. And while I enjoyed her on the sketch comedy, I was curious about her Hulu series, Shrill. I can honestly say the biggest disappointment... is that the first season is so short! I wanted more! (And thankfully there will be another season to satisfy that desire.) Aidy Bryant is as beautifully subtle and funny in this show as she is heartwarming. Aidy plays Annie, a full-figured woman who often gets dismissed, ignored, or disrespected by those around her. What’s really great is that even in the course of six episodes, you get to watch Annie grow in confidence. Aidy does a fantastic job initially portraying Annie as quiet and unsure of herself. But the character does not stay in that place for long.

And though the show does note that Annie has to learn to modulate her boundaries and actions toward others in this newfound confidence, she rips away from dependence on others and learns to stand up for herself. One of the most underrated and yet touching scenes in the series is when Annie decides to fully embrace her body and dance at a pool party. Aidy fantastically portrays the joy of Annie’s freedom and that action truly does change her for the rest of the season. I’m definitely excited to see more of Annie’s story unfold and more of Aidy Bryant’s performance in 2020!

Stephanie Beatriz
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (NBC)

Amazingly, it took me three tries to get into Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but I’m glad I stuck it out because it’s one of the most delightful comedies out there. Though every single cast member is a standout in his or her own way, Stephanie Beatriz has truly come into her own with her portrayal of Rosa Diaz. Rosa’s story has unfolded in really amazing, cool ways and I’m so grateful Stephanie has been gifted on and off-screen opportunities to showcase her talent. Not only does she have deadpan humor down (Rosa’s dark comedy is truly a highlight), but Stephanie also is able to tap into Rosa’s realistic and in-character emotional responses. Rosa will never be as emotionally expressive as Amy Santiago (shout-out to the equally fabulous Melissa Fumero), but that’s great because Rosa still expresses emotions with just as much validity as Amy — or anyone else for that matter. Over the years, Rosa’s journey through a very well-done coming out storyline to sacrifices she’s made for the people she cares about has woven together well. And you can tell Stephanie Beatriz cares deeply about this character by the way she plays her.

Additionally, Stephanie was at the directorial helm of this year’s powerful episode, “He Said, She Said.” And though Rosa’s presence in the episode itself was limited, it was great to see Rosa and Amy differ in opinion on a situation even though they are both women (Brooklyn Nine-Nine does well reminding us that women are well-rounded individuals and not identical. Praise hands!) Not only is Stephanie an incredibly talented actress but also a great director. I’m constantly amazed by what she’s done with the character and am glad I’ll get to continue to see her work next season!

Who are some of your favorite TV actresses right now? Hit up the comments below and let me know!