What Are You Watching?: “I Am Cait”

I Am Cait (2015, E!)

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http://bit.ly/1Q7x2K4

By breaking magazine sales, gaining more followers on social media than anyone in 24 hours, and snatching trophies, Caitlyn Jenner has dominated the year’s news and commanded attention for an issue that was overlooked for many years, all while coming to understand who she is today.

Whether you believe it’s all a publicity stunt or an expression of the inner self, it cannot be denied that Caitlyn Jenner has made huge strides for the LGBTQIA community in the past few months. And it was all chronicled on her series, I Am Cait. I am all for reality TV, especially if it gives me, and others, a better understanding of an unknown and struggling community.

I Am Cait follows Caitlyn — former star Olympian Bruce — Jenner into her newfound world. The series opens with the introduction of Caitlyn to her family. This has been noted as a huge struggle for many families. When someone transitions, the family may feel the need to mourn the loss of the family member they knew and begin to understand this new person in their life. Caitlyn argues that she’s still the same person, but the family believes that it’s almost impossible to not mourn the familiarity that they have known in the former body of their loved one.

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What Are You Watching?: “Scream Queens”

Scream Queens (2015, Fox)

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http://bit.ly/1GYfWGe

With the end of the Glee era for Ryan Murphy and Fox last year, a new and valuable time slot was left open. Murphy, who has gained monstrous success as the creator of both Glee and American Horror Story, has now created a hybrid between his two mega-hits in this latest endeavor: Scream Queens.

The series follows a sequence of murders that surround the sorority house Kappa Kappa Tau at Wallace Community. This sorority has an established past as the elite Greek house on the campus, accepting only the most impressive and beautiful women into their sisterhood. In 1995, a party was thrown at the house to celebrate the school year. During the festivities, a sister disappeared upstairs and was found in the bathtub with a baby – which she thought “was just the freshman fifteen! I thought I was having a bread baby!” Once the other sisters heard that TLC’s hit “Waterfall” was playing in another room, they excused themselves to dance. Following the song, they returned to find the sister, still with the baby, dead in the tub – still unsure of who the father was.

The show then cuts to 2015, leaving no answer to the question of what became of the baby. One thing is clear — the new Kappa house is just as brutal and dumb as the house of the 90s.

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What Are You Watching?: “Grace and Frankie”

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http://bit.ly/1PkLTkb

Grace and Frankie (2015, Netflix)

Ever wonder what would happen when your husband and his best friend came out as gay lovers? Ever wonder what it would be like when you’re seventy? Yeah…me neither. Yet, somehow this exact story unfolds within the first season of Grace and Frankie and manages to be captivating.

After my heavy summer filled with Hannibal and Scream, I needed some laughs. Netflix sent me a recommendation for their new series starring Jane Fonda as Grace and Lily Tomlin as Frankie. Grace is more of a Martha Stewart/socialite who focuses on extravagant things, whereas Frankie is more of a hippie who believes in the healing power of yoga and recreational drugs.

The new series follows these women in their later years as they become unlikely friends and roommates after discovering that their husbands, who are partners at a law firm, are partners in a whole different sense of the word.

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What Are You Watching?: “Hannibal”

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http://bit.ly/1Gx4VLX

Hannibal (2013 – 2015, NBC)

Over the summer, I made it my mission to start watching Hannibal. Having heard rave reviews from multiple people, I went in with high expectations, all of which were met and surpassed.

Hannibal is the story of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a gifted criminologist who works for the FBI as a profiler. Will has a power that allows him to enter a crime scene and mentally envision how the crime was committed based on blood splatter, body manipulations, and such. Will’s gift takes a mental toll on him — as it would anyone who was surround by death — so Will asks for assistance solving a complicated case of a serial killer. Enter Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).

The name “Hannibal Lecter” is familiar because it is the name of the psychotic protagonist from the 1991 film Silence of the Lambs. In the film, Dr. Lecter was institutionalized for violent acts of murder and cannibalism. With this echoed in the NBC series, I wondered how long it would be until the character in the series mirrored that of the one in the film… turns out, not long at all.

The show is brilliant for numerous reasons, one in particular is that it wrestles with the concept of insanity. The series establishes Hannibal as a brilliant doctor who is by far one of the most looked up to in his field. He’s also a good person who is working with the FBI on cases to help catch criminals. But Hannibal is also cast as a psychopath who feeds on human organs. It makes the viewer question whether Hannibal is insane or not.

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What Are You Watching?: “Scream”

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http://bit.ly/1O7n9Kd

Scream (2015, MTV)

With the recent tragic loss of horror movie icon, Wes Craven, I feel that I have to pay homage to the man who got me so hooked on the thrill of the horror flick. What made Craven’s films so superb was the way the narratives were always laced with ingenious plot points and sharp dialogue that not only exposed the true nature of numerous horror tropes, but also followed these conventions and allowed for the film to hold humor. Primarily, I am speaking of the first horror movie I ever saw – 1996’s Scream.

Scream was the film that chronicled Sidney Prescott as she made her way through high school in the sleepy little town of Woodsboro. Sidney’s mother had passed away and following that Sidney began receiving mysterious calls that before her mother passed, her mother had an affair and that is part of the reason she was gone. The anonymous calls are coming from horror icon, Ghostface. The Ghostface killer is most interesting because as the movie series moved forward, there was not only a new face but a new motive underneath the mask and it was up to Sidney, the survivor, to figure out who it was. Otherwise, she’d die.

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What Are You Watching?: “Ghost Whisperer”

Ghost Whisperer (2005 – 2010, CBS)

Ghost Whisperer
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Long before Long Island Medium there was Melinda Gordon, a typical young woman with an atypical power – she was able to communicate with the dead.

“My name’s Melinda Gordon. I’m married. I live in a small town and I own an antique shop. I might be just like you… except from the time that I was a little girl, I knew I could talk to the dead – earthbound spirits my grandmother called them. They’re stuck here because they have unfinished business with the living and they come to me for help. In order to tell you my story – I need to tell you theirs.” (Ghost Whisperer, Season One opening)

Jennifer Love Hewitt (scream queen from I Know What You Did Last Summer) stars as Melinda Gordon, a ghost whisperer who has had this gift since she was a young girl. She was encouraged by her grandmother to focus her gift and use it to help earthbound spirits cross over to “the other side.” This is where Ghost Whisperer varied from its rival show, Medium – Melinda owned her gift, acted as appropriately as she possibly could, and used this gift (sometimes against her will) for the greater good. Throughout the series, Melinda proved to be extraordinary but still highly relatable. The show focused heavily on the toll that having such a power can have on a person. It also discussed the fear, anxiety, and stress that comes with the gift.

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What Are You Watching?: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”

Buffy The Vampire Slayer
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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003, The WB/UPN)

With this semester quickly coming to an end, I’ve taken on the mundane task of planning my next semester of classes. With options that seem far less than interesting, I get discouraged (especially considering a university in Europe is now teaching a Britney Spears class on how she was overly sexualized by her management and ultimately became a feminist icon). I began looking for more fun alternative classes at other schools and stumbled upon “Buffyology,” which is the study of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how it explored issues in sexuality, gender, religion, family dynamics, and more.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer became a staple of my favorite television series a few years ago when it was first added to Netflix. Having heard little to nothing about the show, I gave the first episode a shot. Once I had gotten over the (admittedly cheesy) vampire face makeup, which resembled that of a villain on the Power Rangers TV show, I fell in love. Buffy was a literal kickass teenage girl who dealt with divorce, moving to a new school at a young age, young love drama, and all that comes with hunting vampires at night.

The show transgressed vampires and played with lure and mythology long before the Winchester brothers did so on the CW’s hit show, Supernatural. Buffy also took on social elements like interracial dating, homosexuality, and divorce, as well as death and the psychological tolls it can take on a character. These elements are what add to the “Buffy formula” that makes it truly something more magical, enchanting, and profound than it may appear to be.

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