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.

Friday, September 27, 2019

One Chicago Recap: Season Premieres of Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. [Contributor: Araceli Aviles]


Given how far along each show in the One Chicago universe is in, they’d have to do something pretty shocking to jolt us out of our summer mood. It was not one, but all three shows, which said goodbye to an original cast member. Read on to see which one of your favorites will not be continuing on in Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D. this year.

Chicago Med


Given the events of the premiere, the theme of the hour should have been that everyone be mandated to see a psychiatrist immediately! But alas, Dr. Charles is only one man and he was otherwise occupied. Besides, how could he have known that Ava — whose sociopathic behavior became known when it was revealed she killed Connor’s father — would slice her own throat in the middle of the OR? Nor could he have known that Dr. Manning’s possessive boyfriend (Pretty Little Liars’ Ian Harding) would take advantage of her shaky, post-car crash memory and claim her as his fiancĂ©e? Long story short, Dr. Connor Rhodes has departed Med for a fresh start. We can only hope that Dr. Manning’s “fiancĂ©e” departs in a less violent manner.

Chicago Fire


Not since the season three premiere has Firehouse 51 faced such a tremendous loss. But five years later, we knew this one was going to be just as heartbreaking. In the first ten minutes of the premiere we watched as Brian "Otis" Zvonecek, took his final breaths of life. Three months later, Otis’s picture is up on the wall next to Shay’s. This, I must admit, made me feel queasy in its finality. It was only matched on the Tearjerker Scale by the memorial Chief Boden commissions for Otis right outside the firehouse.

What, hopefully, is not so final is Brett’s move back home. Sure, she tried it out for a few months. But the lack of adrenaline at the local fire department, plus a series of run-ins with people eager to box her into the person she used to be, should only prove to Brett that her place is in Chicago.

Chicago P.D.


I’m gonna pat myself on the back for predicting that Voight did not murder the mayor. After he got away with killing the man who murdered his son a few seasons back, it would have been too predictable. For a while, I thought that perhaps Antonio might have done it as revenge for Adam’s imprisonment. But as it turns out, Voight and Antonio were each other’s alibis, as Voight had been in the middle of taking Antonio to rehab at the time of the murder. Thus we say goodbye to original cast member Jon Seda, praying that his character finally gets the help he so desperately needs.

Meanwhile, the mayor’s murderer was, in fact, Superintendent Kate Brennan. Voight didn’t have the heart to bring her in, given the chokehold of pressure Kelton had her under, which ultimately pushed her over the edge. Before she could make any decisions, be it a suicidal confession or something else, Halstead came to the rescue. Or... did he? Voight was not too happy with Halstead’s constant questioning of his actions during this case, to the point that Voight invited him to leave Intelligence. Yikes!

The One Chicago universe lost three of its original cast members in one night. Where will these losses take those left behind?

Grey’s Anatomy 16x01 Recap: “Nothing Left to Cling To” (One Month) [Contributor: Julia Siegel]



“Nothing Left to Cling To”
Original Airdate: September 26, 2019

As Grey’s Anatomy begins its sweet sixteenth season, life is anything but sunshine and rainbows for our favorite television doctors. By the end of the season fifteen finale in May, viewers were left wondering whether Meredith would face jail time for insurance fraud, where Jackson disappeared to in the fog, whether Maggie and Jackson could make up after a horrendous fight, and if Jo checking herself into the psychiatric ward would help her overcome the trauma of learning about her past.

Thankfully, the premiere episode wastes no time in providing answers to all the questions you might have while taking the audience on a one-month journey through the recovery of all the characters.

THE NIGHT OF


The season premiere opens on the night where the May’s season finale left off. We first see Jo checking herself into the psych ward at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. Then, the scene changes to Maggie searching for Jackson in the middle of nowhere while calling out his name. When Jackson responds, Maggie finds him and a woman holding onto a rope attached to a man that is hanging off a cliff. Aid Car 19 pulls up just in time, and Victoria Hughes of Station 19 jumps out to help Jackson pull the man to safety. The couple is badly injured and transported to Grey Sloan immediately. Meanwhile, Richard attends a late-night AA meeting to rant about getting fired earlier that evening. He’s quite upset that his wife sat quietly by Bailey’s side as he was fired for his part in Meredith’s insurance fraud. It’s obvious that there will be a lot of bad blood between Richard, Bailey, and Catherine for the foreseeable future.

When we last saw her, Meredith was telling an imprisoned DeLuca that she was going to turn herself in and accept the consequences for her actions as she professed her love for him. Meredith follows through on her pronouncement by meeting with a lawyer that same night and confessing to the crime. She is surprised that her lawyer thinks she can get off easy, and without jail time, as long as she is apologetic for her actions. Alex and Link then go for drinks to discuss Jo’s situation, which doubles as a nice moment of support from Link. I’m hoping this is a sign that Alex and Link will start getting along a lot better and become friends, especially for Jo’s sake. Link tells Alex that he thinks his relationship with Amelia is over, which he will find out shortly he was dead wrong about.

The last part of the first night’s events occurs in Teddy’s hospital room. Amelia brings Leo to meet his little sister, but the happy moment is ruined by Bailey busting in on the family get-together to announce that she fired Meredith, Alex, and Richard and needs Amelia and Owen’s help with the incoming traumas of the two climbers. As the three doctors leave the room, in comes Tom Koracick, who — you might remember — was not called when Teddy went into labor or after the baby was born. Tom must have superpowers because he comes in knowing that the baby must have been born since he hasn’t heard from Teddy in a while. He also correctly guesses he wasn’t in the loop because Teddy and Owen want to get together. While Teddy cries over the mess she’s made, Tom tells her that he isn’t going anywhere and will be waiting for her once her fling with Owen ends because he loves her. It’s a pretty crazy whirlwind of events.


ONE WEEK LATER


After a short time jump, Alex drops Jo off at a thirty-day rehab facility to continue her treatment. However, it is unclear why she left Grey Sloan to go to this new program. Before going inside, Jo tells Alex that he deserves someone better in his life than her, and gives him an out of their marriage by saying they aren’t technically married since they never got a marriage license. Alex is quite shocked by his wife’s words, but surprisingly doesn’t react or say anything before she leaves.

Back at Grey Sloan, Link, Nico, Amelia, and Jackson have a frank discussion during a surgery. Amelia tells Link that she in fact did not break up with him the week before and simply wants to properly date him instead of jumping in too quickly — which is the most reasonable decision she has made in a long time.

It is then revealed that Teddy is living in a hotel with baby Allison instead of at Owen’s house, and she tells him through sobs that she can’t live in the house that he bought with Amelia. Teddy is having a difficult time being a new mom, which leads to some good moments of levity throughout the episode. Richard has found a new job working for a health app and making house calls to patients, but he is completely miserable. Maggie and Jackson’s relationship is still on the rocks, since they appear to not have talked in the week of that has passed in-show. DeLuca is finally out of jail and attends Meredith’s hearing, which doesn’t go quite the way the lawyer predicted. The judge assigned to Meredith’s case is particularly tough and becomes more so when he sees that Meredith isn’t apologetic for what she has done. He sentences her to community service and puts off a ruling on her medical license.

TWO WEEKS LATER


After another one-week time jump, a lot happens. The rock climber husband, who was still in the hospital recovering from his injuries, suffers a series of small strokes and appears to be brain dead, much to the chagrin of his doctors. Catherine reveals to Bailey that she has hired Tom as the new chief of all the Catherine Fox hospitals. Bailey is very upset that Tom is her new boss and feels slighted by Catherine, who is now upset — two weeks later — that Bailey fired her husband and two of the hospital’s other top doctors. Why Catherine has waited this long to voice her opinions is beyond me. After her confrontation with Catherine, Bailey runs into DeLuca, who wants to, and gets, his job back.

We then get to see Meredith performing her community service by picking up trash in a park. And, to no one’s surprise, Maggie and Jackson break up. That relationship was on life support for the past few weeks of the show's universe, so it’s about time.

THREE WEEKS LATER


A third one-week time jump begins with Owen finding Amelia in the ER, describing his troubles trying to help Teddy and the baby. Owen says that he offered to milk Teddy to relieve some of her pain (which Amelia tries very hard not to laugh in his face about) in what might have been the single best moment of the episode. Surprisingly, Richard goes for an interview for the chief of surgery position at Pacific Northwest General, which is Seattle’s lowest-ranked hospital and would be a huge downgrade for Richard. In an even more astonishing moment, Jackson and Victoria Hughes start becoming rather good friends in a very short amount of time. They meet up for a lunch date, which might be a glimpse at a possible cross-series relationship down the road.  Jo’s treatment finally makes its way back into the story when Alex visits her. Both are rather upset at the current situation, and Jo gives Alex a second chance to leave her. It really is sad to watch Jo profess how she isn’t worthy of Alex’s love, but it’s good to see her working through her problems.

While one couple struggles, another starts to bloom when Amelia and Link go out to dinner. They seem to be getting along much better these days. The conversation then randomly turns to Amelia describing a patient she treated many years ago with similar symptoms to their current brain dead rock climber. Amelia reveals that her former patient presented with strokes, but it wound up being fat embolisms instead. Link and Amelia rush back to the hospital to examine the rock climber and arrive as Schmitt is about to take him off of life support. Upon examination, Amelia and Link find a rash under the patient’s arm that indicates he has fat embolisms in his brain, which could mean he could wake up.

Meredith continues doing community service and seems to be enjoying it, while Teddy visits Bailey to complain about how much she hates being on maternity leave. Richard then drops by Alex’s apartment to discuss the two of them going back to work. He wants Alex to take the chief of surgery job at Pacific Northwest General and then hire him as an attending. Alex isn’t committal about the potential new position, as he’s a bit distracted by his meeting with Jo.

FOUR WEEKS LATER


The final time jump of the episode is more hopeful than the other segments, which is immediately apparent by the rock climber husband waking up. The doctors think he will make a full recovery, which is a nice ending to that story. Jo then gets out of the rehab facility and is met by a very dressed-up Alex. He proposes to Jo for a second time to show his commitment to their marriage and her ongoing recovery. Jo happily accepts his proposal, but warns him she isn’t magically better after a few weeks of treatment. After spending much of the second half of last season showing Jo’s downward spiral, it’s upsetting to not have seen more of her getting through the steps to recovery. Yes, she still has a ways to go before she will begin to heal, but it feels like a disservice to not get to see her start the process.

Owen shows up at Teddy’s hotel room and announces that he has put his house on the market so they can find a new place for a fresh start together. The gesture is very moving and leaves Teddy in tears. Carina mentions several times throughout a conversation with Amelia, that she thought Amelia might be pregnant... which makes Amelia realize that she probably is. This shocker comes out of nowhere and poses the question of who the potential daddy is: Link or Owen? As if Owen didn’t have enough on his hands already.

Catherine finds out that Alex and Richard are taking jobs at Pacific Northwest General and lashes out at Richard over his decision. She feels incredibly betrayed that her husband is going to work at a hospital that she doesn’t own, yet it’s her own fault for letting Bailey fire him and not offer him a position at another one of her hospitals. Richard and Catherine’s marriage could be in jeopardy, as they have a lot of issues to work through. The episode ends with Meredith and DeLuca discussing how well the community service is going and how lucky she has been.

Their happy conversation is interrupted by Meredith receiving a message saying that the medical board is going to pursue action against her license, which was to be expected. Meredith shouldn’t get off so easily for breaking the law, as a doctor in a similar situation in real life would have to face the consequences. This seems like an issue that will be ongoing for part of the season, as Meredith is going to have to fight to keep her medical license and find a hospital willing to employ her.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

8 Books to Read If You Loved Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley [Contributor: Megan Mann]


Over the last few years, I have walked by the middle grade section in numerous libraries and bookstores and stared down Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley. I said, each and every time, that I would pick it up the next time and would finally read it. Of course, it took until this year to do so, but it was well worth the wait!

The story follows Micah as he navigates the end of his beloved grandfather Ephraim’s life. All of Micah’s life, his grandfather told him stories, grand and small, but his favorite stories were of Circus Mirandus: a circus that was made of pure magic. He learned of The Man Who Bends Light and the miracle that this person promised his grandfather many moons ago. After Ephraim falls gravely ill, despite what his cruel Aunt Gertrudis and his disbelieving friend Jenny Mendoza says, Micah writes to the Man Who Bends Light and begs him to make good on the miracle. 

What ensues is an adventure every child dreams of having with a magical circus. As Micah seeks out the truth about Circus Mirandus, he sees that life truly is filled with magic. But sometimes, that magic isn’t spells and illusions; some of that magic is the love we share with one another. As the book comes to a close, we learn that Micah is going to follow the circus. 

And there’s a sequel to this book on its way! On October 1, 2019, The Bootlace Magician will hit shelves and let us eager readers know exactly what awaits Micah and the Circus Mirandus.

If you’re unable to wait that long once you’re finished with the first delicious installment, here are a few books that are similar in theme to sustain you! 

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein


Kyle learns that world famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed his town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock in. He knows he has to be there. However, the real game isn’t played until it’s time to get out of the library. In a romp through the history of literature and decoding the Dewey Decimal System, Kyle and the other kids have to solve puzzles in order to find themselves on the other side of the library doors. 

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


A classic, of course, but Willy Wonka created a world full of pure imagination. The story worked on a specific sort of magic that has mesmerized audiences for decades. Charlie Bucket finds himself destitute and dreaming of a better life: one where he can have Wonka candy whenever he wants. When the Wonka Factory announces its golden ticket contest, Charlie keeps hope alive to participate. When he finds that last golden ticket and enters that factory of delicacies and delights, his world completely changes.

The Candymaker by Wendy Mass


It’s every kids dream, like Charlie Bucket’s, to have an endless supply of candy. But four kids’ dreams are about to come true when they learn they’ve been selected to compete in a national candy-making contest. Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip each tell their own unique perspective of a story that is filled with mystery, intrigue, and delicious revelations. Who will make a candy more delicious than ever before? Who will crack under the pressure?

The Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman


This fast-paced adventure follows friends Emily and James as they play the game of Emily’s literary idol, Garrison Griswold. He created Book Scavenger, a game that’s played around the world. The object of the game is to solve puzzles and follow the clues to hidden books. When Emily learns that Griswold has had an accident leaving him in a coma just before his latest game is launched, Emily and James find an odd book that they believe is the new game itself. As they race against the clock, they wonder if the same people wo attacked Griswold are after them as well. Will they beat the clock and finish the game?

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt


Bingo and J’miah are your average brothers, except for the fact that they are also raccoons. And they’re now the newest Scouts of the Sugar Man Swamp. This high honor to serve the Sugar Man is also a huge responsibility for the brothers; they have to relay all of the important information to the rest of the swamp in a swift manner. When they learn that the swamp is about to be turned into an Alligator Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, they know they have to wake the Sugar Man. Don’t worry. He’s only been asleep for a few decades. Can they do it? Can they save the swamp?

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd


Felicity arrives in Midnight Gulch, a town that used to be consumed by magic but was cursed and is now just as ordinary as any town. But Felicity can see words everywhere and Midnight Gulch is the first place she’d ever seen the word “home.” Does this mean that her luck is about to change? In an effort to keep that word floating around her, Felicity will do anything to bring back the magic to Midnight Gulch. Can she lift the curse of the town and of her mother’s wandering heart? Can Midnight Gulch finally be home?

The Way to Stay in Destiny by Augusta Scattergood


Theo does not want to be in Destiny, Florida with an uncle he hardly knows. But due to circumstances beyond his control, that’s where Theo finds himself. Luckily, he’s managed to find solace in Miss Sister’s Boarding House and Dance School where the piano calls him. He loves playing but when he meets Anabel, a baseball enthusiast, the two find themselves on an adventure to uncover the mystery of the town’s connection to former baseball players who may have lived in Destiny years before. It’s melodic prose will have you excited for the adventure, but staying for the heart.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee


Much like Micah’s friend Jenny in Circus Mirandus, Ophelia hardly believes in anything that can’t be proven with scientific fact. After her mother passes, her father moves her and her sister to a snowy town for a job in a museum. Ophelia comes upon a boy locked in a long-forgotten room. He claims to be a prisoner of the Snow Queen and is in desperate need of Ophelia’s help. But will Ophelia be able to suspend her belief and go against everything she knows in order to save him? It’s an elaborate story-within-a-story that is sure to charm many readers. (Including this reader because I loved it.)

Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley is available now with the sequel, The Bootlace Magician, following on October 1.