***This review has spoilers: Proceed with caution***
Let's Start Here: The Book vs. The Movie
I’m going to be real with you: you will not be disappointed. Yes, there are many book-to-movie adaptations gone wrong. They will leave you confused and heartbroken.
This movie is not one of them.
Obviously, no movie can keep EVERYTHING from the book because, well, we would be there for 6 hours (not that I’d mind). However, I believe they did a great job with knowing what to cut, and new scenes staying in line with the overall focus of the book.
Kudos to you, George Tillman, Jr.
This Movie is NOT Trauma Porn
And it could have easily been. One thing I noted was the “quiet storm” that was King (why, Falcon, WHY!!). We didn’t need to see him beating the almighty hell out of Seven to know that this dude was fucking it up for anyone who crossed him. You didn’t even need to read the book to know that he definitely beat Seven’s mom after they left.
There are MANY scenes that could have been shot just for shock value, and I’m so grateful that they went for realism instead. Don’t get me wrong, you will need several boxes of tissues. But it’s not set out to shock, disturb, or disgust you. It’s set out to tell the real-life experiences that Black people face every day.
Maverick Carter is the Father We All Need In Our Lives
Russell Hornsby did a stellar job as Big Mav. I’m thinking this is going to be a separate blog post, but if you can gain anything from Big Mav, its never judge a book by its cover.
He entered donned in tattoos (no teardrops, however) and a past that involved gangs, drugs, and imprisonment. This man was the glue that held his family together. Some things to note about him:
In his most stressful moment, when the cops pushed him up against the glass, he never once screamed at his family
He encouraged Starr to “let it out” and used his traumatic experiences to give her just what she needed
He was always kind and affectionate to their mother, even when they disagreed
Think you can say that about King? How about Bill Cosby? (Don’t start, Quinzel)
I Definitely Wanted To Go 'Elevator Solange' on Hailey
I can guarantee that every black girl has gone through that level of gaslighting with a white friend. And usually confronting them on their bullshit, ends with them in tears, so you end up comforting them.
I was worried about seeing Hailey onscreen because the book version made me SOOOO angry. I read the whole "pretend like it's a piece of fried chicken, Starr" part as really aggressive. But in the movie, she had that clueless look on her face that's all too familiar. That look where you ALMOST believed that she really didn't mean any of what she said. However, both in the book and the movie, there were plenty of hints that Hailey knew exactly what she was doing, she was just really great at deflecting.
And you know what? I liked that! It gave the audience a chance to understand Starr's frustration. I also appreciate the realness of them never making up. Same as the book, but seeing it on screen was great because there are just some people who aren't gonna get it and you really do have to just move on.
Again, more realness than I expected to see onscreen. More kudos
Sekani, Your Name Means Joy
I want you to take a close look at this picture. Look really hard at the young boy. And I want you to ask yourself one question.
Could you kill him?
From the start of this movie, you can clearly see why his name means joy. His bright smile and high pitched laugh were enough to make your heart melt. Watching the scene with Mav and the cops is even more painful with seeing Sekani crying. Your heart will break for this sweet little boy.
The ending, while it didn't occur in the book, was arguably the most important scene in the movie. It brings full circle to The Hate U Give and what it means. Literal gasps filled the theater as Sekani pointed the gun and said: "get away from my daddy!"
In a flash, we could see what happens next, the cops kill this poor little boy before a bullet even leaves the gun. A mother watches her son's last breath. And the news doesn't depict anything about him that we already know. They won't discuss his smile, his laughter, the fact that he still can't aim in the toilet. People will shake their heads in judgment thinking nothing of a seven-year-old's death and criticize him for holding a gun in the first place. In those short moments, the audience all saw this happening. I could even hear sobs from a rush of tears. Thankfully, Starr shielded him and none of that happened.
But my mind immediately went to Tamir Rice. That baby is no longer here.
When tragedy strikes, people deflect any way they can, often making the victim as less human as they can. So if you watched that scene and cried, you need to know that none of this is really fiction.
Don't even get me started on Lyric. If you read the book, you can understand that that poor baby saw A LOT of fucked up stuff. And what about her? How will the hate that she's given fuck everybody? That's what The Hate U Give is all about.
The Hate U Give is a book, but truthfully, nothing we saw was fiction. You can't walk away from the theater with any kind of relief that this isn't our current reality.
Angie Thomas wrote the book that inspired this movie. She used her voice and it's already making a huge impact.
Seriously, just consider this my hate list. *grabs gasoline for the fire*
I love reading. I love writing. I'm ok with some books. Meaning, I'm not going to throw your book up against the wall if I feel it's mediocre because maybe someone loves it. Maybe it's just not for me. Maybe another person would...
But let me just interrupt myself to tell you, this is not the case with these books. I hate em. I'm not nice about it. And who wants to be cold this winter? Not me. Throw them in a fire.
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment by Steve Harvey
I'm throwing this in first to get the fire going. Get it going real good. Yes, that's it. Burn, baby, burn.
Ok, Steve, you want me to wait 90 days to have sex, cool. Ok, we're together now. You want me to never withhold sex..I? WHAT DO YOU WANT, STEVE HARVEY??
It drove me up a wall to read page after page of how men can be sexually free because it's just in their nature but I dare not even give off a whiff of sexuality or I will never find love. This was a manual on crossing your legs, never cussing, and never being anything less than lady like. In return, you'll bear children to a guy who feels like it's not a "man's job" to change a diaper. Hooray??
Basically, the book is not only an archaic way of how a woman should be, but you're also literally getting relationship advice from someone who has cheated on his own wife, so yeah.
Bared to You by Sylvia Day
Now, this isn't going in the fire because of bad writing. Close to the same premise of that other fake bondage book, it's actually not written badly at all. Seriously, no shade to Sylvia Day.
But all the shade to the main character, Gideon Cross. Because if you don't GET YOURSELF TO A GODDAMN THERAPIST, YOU HAVE ALL THIS MONEY YOU CAN AFFORD TO- ok woosah, Quinzel, just throw it in. *fire roars*
50 Shades of...anything
Oh, this fire is getting warm and toasty. I'd tell you more about why I hate these books, but after three tries, I couldn't get past page 20. Consider me and E.L. James to be rivals. One on the Evil side, and the other on the Ok, I'm Evil But Not THAT Evil side.
TW: The following article discusses sexual trauma, abuse, and assault from a victims perspective. While it does not give details, it does go in depth on an emotional level and may be triggering for some. Proceed with caution
This week has been, for lack of a better word, trying for survivors of sexual abuse, misconduct, and harassment. I'd throw some statistics here, but chances are if you're reading this, you've been a victim at some point. Stats can only account for those who come forward. It doesn't account for those suffering in silence at every Bill Cosby or Harvey Weinstein water cooler talk at the office.
While you can usually plug in your earphones and drown them out while you work (guilty), there's just one Facebook post that I can't seem to get away from.
Ah, a nice little meme. A way for your friends to show solidarity with you. A chance to have someone not only believe you, but take action.
So...why do I not feel great about this pic being shared?
First Of All, This Should've Been Done A Long Time Ago
It should not take a meme. It should not take a high profile court case. It should not take several high profile court cases.
Because some of y'all knew. But felt I was too drunk. Felt my "no" wasn't clear enough. Felt it didn't count because we were dating. Felt I was sleeping around anyway.
So don't pretend you're my ally now.
So This Is Awkward, My Abuser is Your Significant Other or Family Member
There's a level of pain seeing someone on your friends list, cuddled up, smiling with your abuser. Your abuser has friends, your abuser gets engaged, your abuser has kids.
But what's even more painful is seeing that partner post that. Maybe you don't even realize they are together until you look through their profile. But it it remains: do I tell the truth? Do i risk being called a liar? What is that going to do for my healing?
Sending A Name, Just A Name, No Details, Could Make Me Relive My Trauma
Because that name is ruined for me now. That name is forever printed in my head surrounded by fear, anger, hurt, and confusion (gaslighting is a bitch!).
I can't type that name, because it's at the very top of an unstable tower and typing that name would be the final structure to have it all come crashing down.
There's so much fear of being called a liar, of you wanting to press for details, and also that I just may never stop crying after typing that name.
I just need you to know. It hurts.
Ok, So What Should We Do Instead?
You need ction. A meme is a passive gesture. Anyone can share a meme. But what do you plan to do after you get that name? Are you really going to block them? Are you going to confront them? Cut them out of your life?
You gotta have the uncomfortable yet authentic conversations with your friends. If you want to know if you're connected to an abuser, gain peoples trust. No one will open up to you unless they trust you first. Talk with your friends. Look out for your friends. Intervene when you see something that isn't ok.
*Forrest Gump voice* And that's all I have to say about that.
I'm not what you would call a casual nerd. Not even close. No, I'm the obsessive type who will absolutely consume a piece of media at an unholy speed. It took me a month to get through seven seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I finished the entirety of Angel (five seasons) in a week, and when I got to the finale I almost threw things at my television because IT CAN'T END THERE. (It doesn't, but I don't read a lot of graphic novels.)
So obviously, I am no stranger to binge-watching. When I have the time, I will build a nest on the couch or in my bed and I will absolutely devour whatever show has caught my fancy. At this point, some of them I've binged on several times.
But I'm always looking for new recommendations of shows to watch, and I am sure plenty of you are looking for new shows, too! So here's my first list of absolutely binge-worthy shows on Netflix right now. Grab some snacks, load up on the caffeine, (please take a shower) and get ready to ride the feels.
(P.S., I'm skipping the obvious ones such as Queer Eye, Nailed It!, Supernatural and Sherlock. Come see what rabbit holes I've fallen down recently instead!)
1. Fantastically Funny: Disenchantment
Disenchantment is the latest show by Matt Groening, the creator of Futurama (and The Simpsons). Disenchantment is the story of Tiabeanie (aka Bean), a princess who doesn't quite have a handle on...well anything except her mug of ale. She makes up for it by cavorting around, drinking, stirring up trouble, and generally trying to live life on her terms while being egged on by her own personal demon.
This show is a lot more plot-driven than Futurama, and less parodying the fantasy genre as I'd hoped (and come on, there's no shortage of parody material -- even if you ignore the obvious ones like Game of Thrones). The first season is good, but I really hope it can grow to be as good as Futurama was, with a perfect mix of humor and story. And maybe a lot more parody.
Seasons on Netflix: 1
New Episodes Coming: Yep!
2. Space Cats and Magic Aliens: Voltron: Legendary Defender
I vaguely remember Voltron as a kid. And by vaguely I mean I know it existed and I definitely watched an episode or two at some point. Did I love it? Obviously given my lack of recall, no. But the new series, a Netflix original, is REALLY good. I was casually watching it as background noise, then got to the end of season two, thought, "HOLY SHIT," and immediately went back and rewatched the first two seasons. The premise is pretty simple: 5 people from Earth suddenly find themselves as the pilots of five magical space lions who combine to form a mystical warrior who must defend the universe against the evil Galra empire, with the guidance of an alien princess.
Voltron is absolutely character-driven, so you're going to have to forgive the plot holes and the silly filler episodes. What I love about about the show is the way the characters do grow and mature and learn over time. Their relationships with each other evolve, too. The show isn't about any one character with everyone else being in a supporting role. Even Coran gets his moments to shine, and each paladin has their own story arcs that help you discover who they are.
All of that said, Voltron's showrunners have come under fire with accusations of queerbaiting in season 7, specifically use of the "Bury Your Gays" trope. The showrunners have acknowledged that it was a problem and apologized, but it's up to you whether you want to sit through that arc.
Seasons on Netflix: 7
New Episodes Coming: Yes (but only 1)
3. Feel-Good Fluff: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir
Sometimes I need pure, simple fluff. Like, toe-curling, squee-inducing, diabeetus-giving sugar. And that's exactly what this show is all about. We've got high school super heroes, secret crushes, bratty classmate rivals, a cheesy big bad and a moralistic villain of the week. But despite all of that, Miraculous Ladybug has heart. It is sweet and thoughtful and uplifting. You will genuinely feel for these characters, especially Adrien/Cat Noir. But Marinette (Ladybug), Alya, Nino, and the rest of the cast all have their moments to shine.
The first season of Miraculous Ladybug doesn't have a lot of plot or character advancement, because it's very focused on the villain of the week. But the hints are greatness are there, so tantalizingly close! And I am happy to say that season 2 delivers on a more satisfying, multi-episode plot with some major reveals. Season 3 is due to drop some time in 2018, and I'm already screaming about it because what I thought was going to be perpetual fluff is building toward something really, really great.
Seasons on Netflix: 2
Episodes: 51 (Plus 1 Christmas Special)
New Episodes Coming: YES!
4. Amazing Adventures: Trollhunters
Trollhunters is one of those shows that popped up in my Netflix recommendations and I shrugged it off. "Maybe later," I thought. Fortunately, my roommate's boyfriend was all too happy to introduce me to the show, and it didn't take much to get me hooked. It might sound a little bit odd to hear that this children's show is the creation of Guillermo Del Toro, but at its heart this show is all about a human discovering a world of monsters, which definitely sounds like a Del Toro kind of thing. Trollhunters is one of those lovely shows where plot and characters are equally well done. The world-building is beautiful and the writers play with some of the common teen-superhero/vigilante tropes in interesting ways. And while the show has its dark moments, it's very hopeful and uplifting and even fluffy at moments. I was absolutely dismayed to find out that the third season was the finale for Trollhunters, but we'll be revisiting the world in two spin-off series, 3 Below and Wizards. I'm going to guess we'll see some crossover between the three, but since the main hero, Jim Lake, won't be the protagonist of all three, I'm still going to whine hopelessly and pitifully that my fave isn't center stage.
Seasons on Netflix: 3
New Episodes Coming: 2 spin-offs incoming
5. Beautiful Badassery: Black Lightning
After the CW opted to pull all its shows from Hulu in favor of its own free, ad-supported streaming at, the network also cut a deal with Netflix to stream the full seasons a week after the finale. Which means it's REALLY easy to get caught up on any of the CW shows. But rather than put yourself through 6 seasons of Arrow, skip over to Black Lightning, which is easily the best show the CW has ever done.
It's not JUST that Black Lightning is all about a black superhero. It's not even that it's a show with a predominantly black cast. Both of these are hella awesome things. But Black Lightning doesn't pull its punches when talking about racial and social issues, either. I'm talking everything from gang violence and police brutality and to the very real threat that black activists face when they protest. And to see that, for the first time, was incredible -- and heartbreaking at the same time. And mixed in with all these complicated topics we've got an amazing story and an amazing cast of characters.
At some point we're probably going to see Black Lightning cross over with the Arrowverse, and I for one am looking forward to Jefferson Pierce tearing Oliver Queen a new one. But for now, the CW and the showrunners are happy to let Black Lightning stand independent of the reason of the Arrowverse.
Seasons on Netflix: 1
New Episodes Coming: Yes
6. Outrageous Antics : Grace & Frankie
I don't really like sitcoms. Secondhand embarrassment makes me cringe and want to leave the room or hide behind a couch. But I made an exception for Grace & Frankie, because well, it was different. (And maybe because I still love The Golden Girls, which was one of the formative shows of my youth.) The premise is pretty simple: Two women in their 70s find their perfectly-planned lives falling apart when their husbands leave them for each other. It sounds interesting, but the reality turns out to be so much better -- because it's not just about these two women and their ex-husbands.
It's about the entire blended family, with all their quirks and complicated relationships. Grace and Frankie's slow, grudging friendship makes me feel a bit warm and fuzzy inside. But I also love these glimpses into the lives of Bud, Coyote, Mallory and Brianna, who exist as more than just the children who occasionally make an appearance at their parents' homes and react to the news. Grace & Frankie is hilarious at times -- the situations that the titular characters find themselves in are a source of endless laughter. But the show also has just the right amount of heart, too.
New Episodes Coming: Yes
7. Magic & Music: Galavant
Fantasy television is hard to do -- and for me, almost impossible to take seriously even when I like it. Fortunately, Galavant doesn't even try. Instead, it's a low-budget musical fantasy adventure meant to keep people tuned in to ABC during the winter break. And oh what a magnificent spectacle it is. Alan Menken (who did the scores for The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast, among many other works) handles the music, so clearly the showrunners had their priorities in order as far as budget goes.
The plot is pretty straightforward: it's the story of epic hero Galavant, who after being jilted by the love of his life gets suckered into a quest to help a princess reclaim her kingdom from the evil king who stole his love. Galavant plays with the standard fantasy and adventure tropes beautifully. So you might know where the plot is going, but you'll enjoy getting there. Plus, the show breaks the fourth wall pretty regularly with snarky commentary. The "fantasy" in season 1 is pretty low-key, but it becomes much more obvious in season 2.
The thing I love most about Galavant is that the whole crew clearly knew what they were doing. Take the costuming: There's plenty of period accurate costuming (with repeated mentions to the time period), and so when characters deviate it's obvious that it's intentional rather than a group of designers going "ooh but this looks cool!" without knowing a single thing about medieval fashion. And yeah, there's plotholes for miles and things that clearly don't make sense, but you get the feeling that it's all intentionally glossed over rather than the writers not knowing what they're doing. I mean, to be able to properly parody something you have to intimately understand it to begin with, right?
And then there's the music. The songs in Galavant are clearly riffs on all sorts of musicals, including Les Mis, Grease, and West Side Story, to name a few. The songs are just as cheeky as the rest of the show, and incredibly catchy. Plus, with Weird Al and Kylie Minogue making appearances, the songs are delightfully varied.
I'm really sad that Galavant didn't get more than 2 seasons, but overall they're pretty satisfying and always good for a laugh.
New Episodes Coming: Alas, no. =/
8. Superb Storytelling: The Dragon Prince
I absolutely LOVED Avatar: The Last Airbender and its sequel, The Legend of Korra. So when the writers from the show team up for a new series on Netflix, you can sign me right up! I was a little bit skeptical of the hype insisting that The Dragon Prince could be the next Avatar. That's giving this new show an awful lot to live up to, and if you go in expecting to see something that's immediately as wonderful and delightful, you might be a bit disappointed. But if you push all of that hype out of your mind and focus on the show itself, it's really easy to start to love it.
The premise isn't exactly unique. A long time ago, humans and magical races (read: dragons and elves) lived together peacefully and learned how to use magic. Then the foolish humans learned how to use dark magic. The other races, fearing this new evil, drove all the humans out of their lands. Fast forward a couple hundred years and humans are still using magic (including dark magic) and waging war on the elves and dragons. The humans kill the king of the dragons and destroy his egg. In retaliation, a band of elves set out to kill the king and his son and heir. Things don't go as planned, and one of the assassins teams up with the king's two children to try to make peace between all the peoples. Meanwhile, there's a war going on and political scheming -- and what seems like something potentially much darker.
Despite the somewhat unoriginal story, I absolutely love the characters. Rayla, Callum, and Ezran are all incredible in their own right. They all have their strengths and weaknesses and flaws and insecurities, and it works. You might not think that Ezran, the youngest character, could avoid the plot-trap of being the burdensome child who needs protection. But somehow, he does. He's absolutely the heart of the trio and I am 100% here for that. And the themes these characters deal with -- justice, loyalty, sacrifice. While Avatar started off lighthearted and got darker as the show progressed, The Dragon Prince has higher stakes from the get-go.
And the best bit? The Dragon Prince isn't mucking about with representation. From the get-go we have people of color in the show -- and in positions of power and importance. I'm still waiting to see if we'll get black elves (my fingers are crossed!), but just from the little bit of the world we've seen, I don't think we'll have to worry about "token" diversity. There's even a character who's mute and communicates with sign language. And it's just just...accepted, no tragic backstory needed, no exposition, nothing.
While The Dragon Prince is relying somewhat on some conventional fantasy tropes, I'm really, REALLY excited about it. The worldbuilding and storytelling are absolutely stunning. It's easy to see that there is so much potential there.
New Episodes Coming: There'd better be! But no official word yet.
What are your favorite binge-worthy shows on Netflix? Have you watched any of these? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!
WizardFest is just around the corner, and it's got me thinking about Harry Potter quotes that have stuck with me the most. Swearing I'm up to no good is a great quote for my fun life, but there are some Harry Potter quotes that have healed me like no other.
So, if you're considering going to WizardFest, or if you're wanting to throw a WizardFest in the comfort of your own reading nook, take a second to re-live these quotes with me. Feel free to use these yourself 🙂
"It Matters Not What Someone Is Born, But What They Grow Up To Be"
"It Does Not Do To Dwell On Dreams And Forget To Live"
"Numbing the Pain For A While Will Make It Worse When You Finally Feel It"*
*i feel kinda called out*
"It Is Our Choices, Harry, That Show What We Truly Are, Far More Than Our Abilities."
Tell me your favorite Harry Potter quotes that got you through tough times. Then treat yourself by going to WizardFest 😉
*knock* *knock* Hello there, have you heard the good word about WizardFest? No? Let me tell you.
WizardFest is a big ass Harry Potter dance party where you can shake your wands and shake your booty
Still mad about not getting your Hogwarts letter? You need to go.
Defending your house to anyone who will listen? You need to go.
After all this time? You. Need. To. Go.
And they are hosting them all over, so check to see if WizardFest is in your city. If you're 18 or older, you'll be able to enjoy the costume contest, dance party, and a boozy butterbeer (but only if you're of legal age, sorry). It might even make up for not living anywhere near Universal Studios
So, now that you've decided you're going (cause you are) how are you gonna hold your stuff?
"Hi Quinzel" my imaginary audience says "we don't believe you"
While hurtful, it's understandable. I fall under the category of people who don't look sick. It's why they call it an invisible illness.
Multiple Sclerosis, or MS as its shortened, is a snowflake disease, meaning symptoms can be different for everybody. Do we know why? No. Is there a cure? Also no.
One of the hardest things about my disease is explaining to people what it feels like daily for me. Aside from telling them that getting off my medication won't actually make me feel better and eating a bunch of oranges won't cure it, I also have the worst time trying to explain how I feel.
*some Ant-Man and the Wasp spoilers ahead*
Then I went to see Ant-Man and the Wasp. We were introduced to the character Ghost, known as Ava, who is constantly phasing in and out while experiencing a lot of pain. Long story short, the lab explosion that killed her parents didn't kill her, it just fucked her up to holy hell.
There's a symptom that I have that I can't describe in one word. But Ava's phasing shows it pretty well. It's this weird out of body experience like I'm jumping from one scene to another. It makes me feel as if I'm about to pass out.
The second is the pain. The constant pain. When you're in pain, minutes feel like hours, hours feel like days. While there is a level of pain I can deal with on a daily basis and still function, once I've passed that level, its all over.
Just like Ava, I am always in pain. Always.
So, I get it. Being so close to not being in pain everyday and you tell me we can't do the thing? Most people will never get to experience that level of desparation. It's a feeling where you will do absolutly anything to get rid of the pain. Living in constant pain robs you of the ability to have any sort of chill. Hell, it robs you of the ability to just live.
So, I get it. Do I agree with her plans? Mostly no, but I understand. To phase everyday, almost like a slow burning glitch, on top of being in pain sucks to the highest level. All you can do is wait to crawl into bed only to do it all over again.
So now that I've opened myself up to you guys, I'm curious what your lives are like. Any of you deal with a chronic illness, disability, or undiagnosed "why Lord?" level of pain? Have you seen it represented in media in an accurate way? Would you like MORE representation? Spill your thoughts in the comments section below.
If you missed the news in all the hubbub of SDCC, a trailer for the new season of Doctor Who dropped. And for once I can say I'm actually excited about it, and not just because the Doctor is now a woman (but yeah, I am hella excited about that). I'm excited because this is a whole new chapter in Doctor Who's saga, and the show desperately needs that.
I mean, it's not a whole lot to go on, a whole 50 seconds. And another 40 or so seconds if you count the teaser trailer.
So let's break it down. Obviously we get the whole "new faces, new worlds, new times" bit. I guess it's only natural for the new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, to want to distance himself and mark this as a new beginning. It's not a bad strategy, either!
So what do we see? Some flaming wrecks of presumably spaceships (I won't lie, they kind of remind me of the pod racers from The Phantom Menace). A yard with some old-timey stuff: A car, a jeep, some big boilers. Another scene with the Doctor and her companions standing in the parking lot of what I'd guess is a 1950s or 1960s motel. There's a flash of what's probably a forest, a couple of scenes in various ship (probably spaceships), an old deserted building, and of course a horseback riding scene that's possibly (probably?) a reference to the wild west.
We see the companions, obviously -- three of them, this time, and it seems like they won't know each other before they join up. Their names are Ryan, Yaz, and Graham, by the way. Check out the teaser trailer for more on that:
So what can we expect from season 11? Honestly, we don't have a lot of details. Chris Chibnall apparently wants to keep things quiet -- and again, that's probably a smart move. The less people know, the less they can tear the show apart before it even airs. The teaser doesn't even give us a glimpse at any of the monsters or creatures we might encounter, and Chibnall says we're going to see all new monsters, no familiar faces (not even Daleks!). We've got the usual blabber about "rules will be broken" and some general hype.
I'm not here to tell you what we will see. Because any sort of news will just come through the cast and then through the press. But I would like to talk a little about what I'd like to see. Because Doctor Who is one of those gateway sci-fi shows that lead people down the path to more geekdom. It's also a cultural icon. A landmark, even.
I didn't get on board with the new series of Doctor Who right when it came out. But I do remember watching season 4 of the new series in college, and enjoying it. Then my friend A introduced me to Torchwood. And that immediately prompted a dive back into seasons 1-3. Suffice it to say, in a very short time I became obsessed with Doctor Who.
And then Russell T. Davies and David Tennant both broke my heart by leaving the show just as my obsession was growing. But I was obsessed and Moffat had written a few pretty fantastic episodes during his tenure. Surely it couldn't be that bad, right? It might not be as deliciously good as the RTD era, but I would still enjoy it.
I did enjoy season 5, and parts of 6. Just not as much as I enjoyed seasons 1-4. And....things just went downhill from there. People say you always love your first Doctor the most. I'm a bit of an anomaly then, because 9 is my favorite even though 10 was my first. And I liked Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi as 11 and 12 well enough. But I hated the writing. I hated the giant multi-season arcs and all the build-up just to a couple of throwaway lines.
Enough about the past, though! What's there to look forward to in the future? What can we love and appreciate about Doctor Who instead of critiquing all the bad stuff. (And that's not to say that it doesn't deserve to be criticized, because Moffat and his writing team have a LOT to answer for in my book.) Here's what I'm looking forward to seeing in series 11 of Doctor Who:
1. More Diversity
First of all, if you're complaining or in any way, shape or form unhappy about the Doctor being a woman, you probably just want to close this browser tab right now because nothing I say here is going to make you happy.
Sci-fi (and fantasy, too) for some reason have this perception as belonging to white dudes -- old white dudes especially. And there's a whole LONG list of reasons why that's a load of crap, from the numerous women who were pioneers in speculative fiction to the fact that women and people of color account for a much bigger part of the world's population than old white dudes.
During Moffat's 81-episode tenure, 3 women wrote 4 episodes. That's it. (If I'm honest, Russell T. Davies wasn't much better, with just 1 woman writing several episodes in seasons 3 and 4) And that's not counting directors either. Representation in ALL aspects of media matter. That means it matters who's writing the scripts and behind the cameras as much as who's in front of them. Moffat is on the record as saying, "Stop assuming that I'm a demon who's trying to prevent it, as opposed to the man who's done more to make it happen than anybody else," ...but he also has a long history of saying vaguely offensive and very sexist things so you can make up your mind for yourself.
Fortunately, Chris Chibnall seems really dedicated to making this happen already. First, under his tenure Doctor Who has hired its first writers of color -- and I mean first in the entire 50+ year history of the show (Editor's note: Holy Shit). The show is possibly moving toward a writers room format for some of its episodes, but among its guest writer spots are two women (and three men). Directors will be half men, half women -- and all but 1 of the editors are also women. The new comics series featuring Jodie Whittaker's Doctor will also be an entire team of woman.
And that's not even getting into the companions. We have Tosin Cole as Ryan, Bradley Walsh as Graham and Mandip Gill as Yaz -- a young black man, a middle-aged white dude, and a middle eastern woman. Sharon D. Clarke also has an unspecified recurring role. I am absolutely excited about all of them. Yes, even the middle-aged white dudes. Moffat and RTD both seem to have favored young women for companions, and it leads to the inevitable "young girl falling for vaguely human-ish alien who notices her feelings way less often than he should" trope. (Donna was a great break from this. At some point I will probably wax eloquent on the many ways in which Donna Noble is the best companion of all time, but not today.)
Anyway. I want to see a bunch of different experiences, a bunch of perspectives on traveling through all of space and time, and I want to see how they clash and what common ground they find in making sense of the universe in all its infinite weirdness. It sounds like Chibnall is in agreement there, too. The original show had a group of companions, and so the new batch are a throwback to that. But he also said in an interview, “I love Doctor Who as a big, popular, mainstream, accessible show. So I wanted to make sure that every member of the audience felt they had a relatable character, an access point."
I also hope it will change the dynamic to something a little more platonic. Rose was a definitely romance, with a case of jealous boyfriend. Martha was unrequited love. Donna was a good friendship. Amy had a massive "are they or are they not a thing?" with a bit of jealous boyfriend thrown in. Clara fancied Matt Smith's doctor, and then spent most of the time playing nanny to Peter Capaldi's doctor while he made insulting comments about her appearance. Bill was a good start in breaking the cycle of romance, but there was an unhealthy and teacher-student vibe that didn't sit right with me. Which actually brings me to my next point.
2. Empower the Companions
OK, so technically Chris Chibnall is calling them "friends" now, not companions. I wonder how well that's gonna stick given how firmly entrenched the term "companion" is in the recent lore. But as I've been rewatching Doctor Who, the moments I am enjoying most are when the companions are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Doctor. When they help find solutions, when their thoughts and ideas are treated as valid and not 10 steps behind the Doctor.
As much as I love to see that the Doctor isn't perfect and can have flaws and moments of darkness, petulance, despair, and even childishness, I feel like 11 and 12 in particular were super prone to this sort of behavior. Clara, as a companion, was saddled with handling the worst of it. Even with Bill, Peter Capaldi's Doctor was difficult. He'd flip the dynamic entirely around and tell Bill to decide what happens, because for some reason he doesn't have that right or responsibility -- even when Bill has barely any understanding of what's going on or what's at stake. The Doctor's companions-slash-friends need to be more than just the people who tell the Doctor to quit whining/get it together/don't do this thing.
The Doctor's companions always shine brightest when they refuse to just sit back and wait for the Doctor to save the day. The moments that resonate with me are inevitably when they're leading and inspiring others; when they're doing their part to solve the mystery of what's going on. Rose had some great moments like this, especially in "Tooth and Claw." Martha in "Smith and Jones," Donna in "The Sontaran Strategem/The Poison Sky" and "The Doctor's Daughter." Amy in "The Beast Below."
Those are the companions I want to see.
So it's time put an end to the "know-it-all Doctor and bewildered companion" dynamic as well as the "Doctor is a child and his companions need to tell him to be a decent person" tropes.
The good news is it sounds like, from the trailer, that this is the kind of vibe we're going to get.
3. More Depth in Women Characters
Before I start here, I want to start by saying that I really liked Karen Gillan and Jenna Louise Coleman in the roles of Amy and Clara. The actresses are fantastic, and there were plenty of moments where I liked the characters themselves. But Moffat's tenure of Doctor Who didn't do great at giving the companions a lot of depth. If I'm honest, this is kind of a big problem in any sort of male-dominated media. Even the ones with "strong" women characters, what we get are women are who are one dimensional. They are defined by their toughness (their "I don't need no man" attitude) or maybe some sort of tragic backstory.
Amy Pond was your almost stereotypical fiesty redhead and sex object, especially in season 5. They played this up a lot in that "is she going to choose the doctor or Rory" storyline. And even in season 6 they still played on this. I mean you could probably argue they tried to be creative by giving her Rory as a fiance rather than a stereotypically sexy stud, but honestly, the hot girl falling for the nerdy, kind of awkward guy? Not that original.
And then there's Clara. And Clara had so much potential to be an interesting character. A woman who kept recurring throughout different points of time, meeting the Doctor in different forms at different points in time. Instead, we got a woman who existed solely to care for everyone else. As a nanny, as a teacher, as a companion. Even her death (spoiler alert) was because she put others' needs ahead of her own.
All of that sounds tragic and noble.... except that women are asked every day, often (and usually unfairly), to put others' needs ahead of their own. Women who don't get branded as selfish. And when the show writers opted to revamp Clara when the Doctor regenerated, they made her sassier, but it led to this weird almost-parental relationship with Peter Capaldi's Doctor, where he regularly made unkind remarks about her and she straight up slapped him when he got out of line.
River Song, when she first appeared, was an absolutely phenomenal character. She continued to be interesting the first few times she appeared after that -- even if she lost a little bit of her complexity. She became larger than life, a total badass -- whose defining characteristic was her badassery (she could make even a Dalek beg for mercy).
And then came the big reveal -- that she was Amy and Rory's daughter, and that she was a pawn (used by the Silence) destined to kill the Doctor. And that's about where River Song stopped being interesting, because she was shoehorned into this overly-complicated storyline and a destined romance that was really poorly written and awkwardly acted.
Oops -- I am ranting again. But I've hope I've made my point about the women lacking depth.
As much as I love the idea that the Doctor transcends gender and so who they are isn't dictated by whether they're in the body of a man or woman, I also want to see what happens when the Doctor tries to navigate the world as a woman. I want to see the Doctor flashing the psychic paper and some asshat still questioning it because they can't believe a woman would be the expert. Show us the companions trying to fit the Doctor into "standard" gender roles and her breaking that down.
Likewise with Jodie, I want to see some depth and complexity. I don't want a single characteristic to define her. But I'd like to see how she and the Doctor navigate their friendship, and how they deal with interacting with men -- both the other companions and an assorted cast of characters. Let's see how they handle being expected to do the things that women are often tasked with -- things that more oblivious men probably don't even notice.
That's not to say I want this entire season arc to be about the Doctor suddenly being a woman and gender politics. But it would be a nice change to see some of these issues addressed -- especially because it makes sense to do so. To ignore these issues associated with gender would be, to some extent, pretending they don't exist. Sure, in a truly progressive, advanced society they wouldn't. But they do, because we as humans aren't there yet. So let's talk about them a little. Let's see stories where the Doctor overcomes those barriers and use them to show that women are just as complicated as men -- and that our stories are just as interesting. Let's see women in all their complexity, not just the single embodiment of a typical feminine trait.
4. Better Writing (and a Better Season Arc)
Word on the street is that we won't see any two-part episodes in season 11. I'm a little bit sad about this because there are some FANTASTIC two-part episodes in NuWho canon (Human Nature/Family of Blood, for example). But on the other hand, we've only got a 10-episode season, so they may not want to invest in the fluff and filler that comes with a two-parter.
But either way, I just want to see better writing. Please.
Moffat can write great two-parters and one offs, but he's not so great at playing the long game. The entirety of seasons 5-7 got a bit convoluted with the River Song plot (plots?) combined with the Silence and Madame Kovarian and everything else. The worst part was the resolutions to some of these stories. They felt like a cheat:"The doctor is doomed to die at Lake Silencio and River Song is the one to kill him" but oh wait, it's just a robot and River Song is doing it against her will because she's already fallen in love with the Doctor!
(Pro tip: If your solution to all the plot-related complications of a character having a baby is to magically age that baby, you probably have no business writing that story. Yes, I'm looking at you, Stephenie Meyer.)
My issue with these stories (and I'll elaborate on this in a bit) is that they weren't really emotionally satisfying arcs. There weren't a lot of clues as to the resolution. Nothing was sacrificed or lost. There was no compromise of conscience or moral quandaries that made you question the Doctor. Emotionally there wasn't a lot of impact (except for "The Angels Take Manhattan"). And all of that is a let-down. Sure, it's always fun to round up the whole gang and storm the castle, but it's not much of a story to tell. With Doctor Who, I WANT to get my heart broken. I want to feel the pain of terrible things happening and not always being able to avoid them. Because those moments are what make the good moments even better.
Remember this? Think of how uplifting this moment was -- and that was because of all the heartbreak we'd experienced up to this point. Not just in this episode, but in every episode leading up to it. So many people died, on and off screen, in The Unquiet Dead, Aliens of London, Dalek, even Father's Day.
This is what emotional impact looks like.
Break my heart into a thousand little pieces; just do it well, please!
5. Focus on the Little Things
Season finales are supposed to be big and emotionally satisfying -- they're the culmination of the entire season, every story arc coming together. But there's absolutely such a thing as "too big." When you're constantly trying to figure out how to make your season openings and endings more "epic" you run into Supernatural-type problems: What do you do when you've defeated the Devil himself (several times)? Well, you take on God's sister that no one knew about. And once you've defeated literal-freaking-deities, what else is out there? What monsters could possibly be scary or more dangerous when you've essentially maxed out your leveling stats?
And that, to me, was the worst problem with Moffat's tenure on Doctor Who. Which is a goddamn pity, because the best episodes of the new Doctor Who series have always been the small ones. "Vincent and the Doctor" still makes me bawl like a baby; same with "The Girl Who Waited" and "The Doctor's Wife." From the RTD era, "Father's Day" will send be into a crying fit pretty quick. The stakes in these episodes weren't high. There was no big bad to defeat (except for House in "The Doctor's Wife"). Instead, each of these episodes is incredibly character driven. It's the interactions between each of the players that makes them fascinating.
(You wanted a reason to cry, didn't you? Right?)
I don't think most fans need totally epic tales of good and bad with high stakes to feel happy and satisfied with a piece of media. What I want, and what I think a lot of others want, is a well-told story with compelling characters. It can be happy, it can be sad, it can be bittersweet. But it has to be well done. So I really hope that before the writers go biting off more than they can chew, they work on getting the storytelling and the characters and the little moments right.
So that's my list. It's a big, abstract list, to be sure. But that's because I'm not wedded to the idea of seeing particular villains or characters recurring. I just want a well-done show, and this is what I think it'll take to deliver.
The other day Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now by Starship came on the radio and it got me thinking about the associations we form with certain songs. In this particular case, it made me realize that ever since seeing The Skeleton Twins, whenever I hear it now all I can see is Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig dancing on living room furniture. Associations are powerful. Even if we already have a personal history with a song, a television show or a movie can utilize it in such a way that it wipes out all previous associations. Here are 5 examples of television scenes that took songs I already knew and completely re-wrote what my brain feels when I hear them. I’m sure you all have plenty of these so feel free to share them in the comments!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Goodbye to You (Tabula Rasa)
Michelle Branch was big in the early 2000’s. I wasn’t particularly a huge fan but Goodbye to You was catchy. It didn’t evoke any emotion in me but I thought it was a cute pop song. Then someone who worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer said to themselves (I’m assuming), “How I can make it so that any time a Buffy fan hears this song it feels like their heart is being pulled out of their chest?? ...wait, I KNOW!” The result was this scene. Never have I ever been able to hear this song in the 17 (17?? JESUS.) years since without thinking of Giles abandoning his surrogate daughter to return to England, Willow and Tara’s heart-shredding breakup scene, and Buffy’s profound loneliness leading her to make a truly self-destructive choice. Thanks, Tabula Rasa.
Supernatural: Do You Love Me (The End)
I know, I know. Carry On My Wayward Son. Eye of the Tiger. Heat of the Moment. The Holy Trinity of songs that Supernatural has co-opted and now might as well own. But everyone knows those! Those are too easy. So I thought about another really great one that hasn’t been talked about as much. The only music my mom and I could agree on while I was growing up was oldies, so I heard this song A LOT. But SPN used it in such an awesome and unexpected way (in one of its best episodes of all time) that now this is what the song is to me. Running from Croatoans (SPN’s version of zombies) and getting rescued by a bunch of post-apocalyptic soldiers. Who knew this song could be so fucking badass?? Well Ben Edlund, I guess.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Just a Friend (Dennis and Dee go on Welfare)
Oh boy is this show a multiple offender for song associations, usually hilarious and sometimes awful. There were so many to choose from. Motownphilly, Vacation, Jessie's Girl (OH MY GOD THIS ONE), I Can’t Wait, Hollaback Girl, Take My Breath Away, Pretty Woman, Runaway Train... the list goes on and on. In the end I went with this one because it was the first of the many songs the show would use to create ridiculous new associations in my head. Dennis and Dee’s failed attempt to go on welfare and their subsequent crack addiction was one of the funniest things the show has done and now, goddamn it, a song I have always loved makes me think of these two assholes getting day-drunk and thinking they could play the system so that they never had to work again. The end when they turn the song up while Mac yells at them cracks me up every time. These goddamn assholes.
Black Mirror’s San Junipero: Heaven is a Place on Earth
I almost want to tell you not to watch this video if you have not seen the episode because this scene is so moving and profound if you have, but if you haven’t then it’s just sort of cute. The first time I watched San Junipero this scene made me weep. And a previously boppy, fun 80’s song now makes me tear-up thinking about a love story between two women that a television show developed beautifully, and that WAS ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO END HAPPILY. It was a bittersweet story overall but the ending was uplifting and glorious. And the choice of this song was perfection. If you have not seen it, please head over to Netflix and fix that.
Sense8: What’s Up (What's Going On?)
This 4Non-Blondes song now forever belongs to this show in my mind, and after Linda Perry showed up to the premiere of the series finale at the ArcLight theater in Hollywood and let the audience join her onstage to sing along with it, it belongs to the fans as well. I’ve mentioned previously that whenever all of the Sense8s appear in the same scene it is the best thing 100% of the time, and this is no exception. These pockets of joy in the show were always so well-placed and carried the audience through the tougher times. I used to like What’s Up because it reminded me of the 90’s, now I love it because it brings me actual joy remembering this scene (P.S. Kala and Wolfgang forever).
So, what song associations have been created, altered, or ruined for you by television??
I am ugly. I am horrid. I am terrible. My reflection says to me.
If I thought I was insecure, I promise you it got way worse after I had a C-section.
Granted, a lot of it was probably the postpartum depression encouraging me to hate myself, but I looked at my large scar, the tiger stripes that now went across my body, and I cried.
I mourned for all the things I wanted to wear, all the ways I wanted people to look at me.
I am ugly. I am horrid. I am terrible my reflection says to me.
I live in an area where there is no spring, just a long, horrible winter, and an even longer, hotter summer. So my envy of girls in short shorts and tank tops goes way beyond fashion, I just wish My body was beautiful enough for me to not have to cover every inch of it all summer.
Enter, the woman, we'll call her Fran*
I never met Fran before. We were all strangers at this college graduation barbeque but all bonded instantly over our love of all things geeky. In between the Star Wars arguments and Deadpool one-liners, I found myself staring in awe of Fran quite a bit.
She was beautiful and tall. She had that glowing brown skin that was all one smooth color. Her afro bounced as she laughed when someone complimented her top. It was a burgundy crop top that said "Thick Thighs. Thin Patience." She looked so amazing in her shorts and crop top that I started to think "I wish I didn't have stretch marks on my belly so I could wear that."
Hold up, Quinzel, she has stretch marks.
I was so caught up in the comparison game, of replaying the record known as Quinzel's Low Self Esteem, that I didn't even notice that Fran was someone just like me.
And I didn't think she was ugly
I didn't think she was horrid
And I certainly didn't think she was terrible
Fran was kind, funny, and beautiful, stretch marks and all.
So what the hell was wrong with me? Why was I so judgemental with myself and so quick to see the beauty in someone else?
So this is my love letter to Fran, who made me wake up and say Fuck It, I am not ugly, I am not horrid, I am not terrible.
And I am buying that fucking crop top and rocking it.
*I made this name up, I'm not even sure I know anyone irl named Fran