Thursday, May 23, 2013

Short form TV diary, part 2

I was excited about this blog but I haven't really been keeping it up. As always I've been watching TV though, so here's some stuff I've watched in the last year:

Grimm season two was better than season one. They sidelined Juliette, the worst character. They let Hank, Nick's partner, find out about the animal people so he just wasn't awkwardly wondering what was going on all the time. Towards the end of season one they introduced Rosalee, a fox person who is a love interest for Monroe, the only charismatic character in the first season. Monroe is a wolfman who has decided not to hunt and kill humans, instead going in the other direction of repairing clocks, setting up elaborate Christmas and Halloween decorations, and drinking craft beer. Silas Weir Mitchell, who plays Monroe, is really cute but has something slightly awkward and creepy about him.

I guess I should have mentioned him when I reviewed the show before but I don't think I did. The short version is that the concept and execution of Monroe is the only thing on the show that ever got my attention and it doesn't take a lot to get my attention. Rosalee isn't quite as good as Monroe, but she's appealing and very pretty, and their relationship increases the amount of the show that isn't about really boring characters doing really boring things. Also did I mention the show now sort of has arcs and isn't just about Nick finding out that all murderers are actually snakes?

I'm not saying Grimm has become good, but there have been times that I was sorry the episode was over and I genuinely was frustrated during the midseason hiatus. It also has all the wonderful moments Grimm has always had, like when a woman is on a date with a guy and says, "I'm sorry I'm always crying," and the guy says, "But I want you to cry," grows a giant tongue, licks her tears, blinds her, says, "It's better if you can't see this," and then turns into a giant fly and kills her.

Lost Girl. I watched seasons one and two last year and loved them. The first episode of season three was like the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival in the form of a genre TV show, although I will give the writers some credit for sort of apologizing when people were mad about it, but they didn't really apologize that much. "I'm sorry you thought this 'demon,' who looks like a woman but has a penis and stubble and is trying to get into female-only spaces in order to rape women, was supposed to be a trans woman. Obviously it's just an imaginary demon." (It was also really sad to see queer cis women on implying that no one should criticize Lost Girl because it portrays queer cis women positively.)

Anyway that put me off the show for a while. When I started watching again, all the other episodes in the season were pretty good. The best part was Tamsin, a new love interest for Bo who is actually likable. I know I'm the only person in the world who hates Lauren, Bo's first female love interest, but I just think she is the worst and it was so great to get a character like Tamsin.

Also just really appreciate how much of the show is given over to female characters, female friendships, and lesbian relationships.

Community. Haven't watched season four, don't care, never will. I can't believe I've never written about this show on here because I've been seriously in love with it a year now? It really meets all my ideals of what an ensemble show should be by trying to compassionately portray people who are really different from each other. I think Shirley (the character who is most different from the most central character, Jeff, and also probably from most of the viewers) is written kind of weakly though and could be better.

Obviously the pop culture references are one of the most notable things about the show and I love them, but I got into it because I heard good things about Abed, the Autistic character. I have a whole lot to say about Abed so I will say it some other time. Basically I like how the show inverts so many tropes about how to portray Autistic, crazy, or disabled characters though. Abed is often portrayed as smarter, more in the know, etc. than the other characters--he's not othered so much by them and when he is, they're usually shown to be wrong--and the show makes constant sneaky references to his disability, without talking about it so bluntly that it seems like they're trying to be educational or define him by his disability. I don't know. It's really classy.

Game of Thrones. Watched the first season, read the first book, spoiled myself for EVERYTHING and got really into reading theories and analyses by fans, started reading the second book, watched the second season, and got so overwhelmed by the length of the book and so offended by the crappiness of the adaptation that I just gave up on everything. Then in the last few months, I started reading the books again and this time am really enjoying the length and density and kind of appreciating the show as a chance to relive the books, even though the show fundamentally misses the point of the books.

I won't go on about this because lots of people have written about it much better than me, but just an example. In both the show and the books, a guy gets married to a woman who, for political reasons, he shouldn't marry. To avoid spoilers let's call the guy Donald. In the book, Donald is a 15- or 16-year-old who had sex with a girl because he was stressed out, and now he wants to marry her because he ruined her life by taking her virginity. He announces this out of nowhere and is freaking out about what an idiot he is. In the narrative, this event isn't even treated as that important because Donald isn't a POV character, even though forbidden love is usually this dramatic, world-altering thing, especially in fantasy fiction.

In the show, Donald is the hero and is an adult, and his girlfriend is elevated to a much more major character who shocks him by standing up to him even though he's really powerful (something that would be really unsafe to do in that society!) and travels around the world doing awesome heroic things (something that would be really unsafe to do in that society!) and even kind of snarks about other women who aren't cool enough to travel around the world being heroic and sticking it to powerful men. The book series has smart, talented women characters accomplishing what they can in a patriarchal structure, and this character is a complete fuck you to that by implicitly blaming them for their own oppression. There's also sort of an implication that Donald and his girlfriend are just getting married because Donald decides it's lame to take political consequences into account. The show version of the romance undoes the cleverness of the book version, where instead of being super-romantic and the main thread of the story, the forbidden love happens off to the side and everyone feels like an idiot.

So, yeah. And then this kind of thing is about 50% of the show. The ASOIAF books subvert expectations for fantasy fiction and then the people adapting it for TV are just like, "But fantasy fiction isn't supposed to be like this! Let's make it more like he should have written it, i.e. more stereotyped!"

I probably watched some more shows but now I'm bored. Oh I watched Parks and Recreation. It's fine/would watch again.

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