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.
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.
Some of the best stories ever told are based on true events. Some of the most successful comedians base their comedy off of their families. Mindy Kaling, Kathy Griffin, and Chelsea Handler’s autobiographical books are all New York Times bestsellers based on their real life family and friends.
I could now talk about my insane family and the time my uncle “pimp-slapped” me, the time my aunt spontaneously sang the “Star Spangled Banner” to my best friend because she is a history major, or the time my mom and I got into a lengthy argument about Britney Spears and her influence – I won that one. I could collect all of the oddities that have become moments in my family’s history and try to form them into something like a narrative or a short story, but Adam Goldberg took it one step further. He took his family and turned them into the main characters of an ABC sitcom: The Goldbergs.
The Goldbergs are a typical family in “nineteen-eighty-something” living in the suburbs of Pennsylvania. Murray and Beverly Goldberg are the parents of Erika, Barry, and Adam who are young teens/pre-teens with their own sets of social ineptitudes and quirks.
Take a charming town in Connecticut, add Melissa McCarthy before she was typecast by her role as Megan in Bridesmaids, and throw in a quick-talking, pop-culture addicted, snarky, sassy mother-daughter duo–there you have Gilmore Girls. This show about love, acceptance, and family graced TV screens for seven complete seasons with its quick-wit and charm.
Created by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Bunheads), the show followed the story of Lorelai (Lauren Graham, Parenthood) and Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) – a young mother and daughter who were more best friends or a team than part of a typical family hierarchy. This relationship that I often envied is only made more believable by the immense chemistry that Graham and Bledel have together.
Lorelai is a young mother who got pregnant at sixteen and left home to raise her daughter on her own. She began working at the Independence Inn, a small inn in the fictional Stars Hollow, and eventually became manager. Her daughter Rory was named after herself, which Rory explains: “She named me after herself. She was lying in the hospital thinking about how men name boys after themselves all the time, you know, so why couldn’t women? She says her feminism just kind of took over. Though personally I think a lot of Demerol also went into that decision.” (Season 1, Episode 1, Pilot).
Age is just a number in the new TV Land series, Younger. The show, which is created by Darren Star (Sex & the City), revolves around Liza (Sutton Foster – Bunheads & Thoroughly Modern Millie), who is a 40-year-old recent divorcee and mother. She once worked at Random House Publishing for three years where she became editor and then left her job to raise her daughter.
Now, fourteen years later, her daughter goes on a mission trip to Mumbai and Liza is left alone and needs a job to support her and her daughter. But the publishing world has changed during her hiatus and she’s finding she can’t even get into the glass room to hit the glass ceiling because of her age.
To soothe her bruised ego, she and her best lesbian friend, Maggie (Debi Mazar – Entourage), go out to drink the pain away. While they’re out, Liz is hit on by a 26-year-old, Josh (Nico Tortorella – The Following), who believes her to be that same age. Empowered by this ego boost and with the understanding of “people believe what you tell them,” Liz goes to another interview pretending to be 26 and eventually gets the job.
From there, Liz has to keep up with the fast-paced environment of publishing, the advances made in marketing with technology, and the unfiltered office chatter with her new friend, Kelsey, played by Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire).
Is there anything better than having a best friend? Someone who understands your mild breaks in sanity or can always bring up a great, and often embarrassing, story from when you were younger is great to have around.
That’s basically the magic behind the new comedy on USA, “Playing House.” The show was created and written by real life best friends Jessica St. Clair (“Bridesmaids”) and Lennon Parham (“Accidentally on Purpose”), who also star in the show. That gives the show a chemistry unlike any other.