Tuesday, December 31

Favourite Things 2013


To comment on the Sound of Music picture, or not? Let's just get started shall we.

Television


Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) is the established "Queen of Country" music. However, her latest album is not selling well and her tour is playing to half empty venues. Her record label suggests that she open for Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere), the young and sexy best selling singer of bubble gum country. The two women come into conflict as each tries to get guitarist Deacon Claybourne (Charles Esten), Rayna's bandmate and former lover, to sign on to their tour. Rayna's life is further complicated when her estranged father, millionaire businessman Lamar Wyatt (Powers Boothe), convinces her husband, Teddy Conrad (Eric Close), to run for Mayor of Nashville.

If, this time last year, you had told me that I'd be really into a TV Show about country music singers living in Nashville, I'd probably laugh at you, a lot; And yet, here I am positively engrossed in this show. I always know that I'm going to enjoy a TV programme if I get the urge to shout at my TV screen, not only do I shout at the screen during Nashville, but I shout in (what I imagine is) a Tennessee accent, that's love.

Although it's set in the home of country music and despie the obvious music themes in the episode, Nashville is very much a 'relationship' driven show - it's all about how the characters interact and the relationships they have with each other; Rayna and Juliette, Rayna and Deacon, Juliette and Deacon, Scarlett and Deacon, Scarlett and Gunnar... The stand out characters of course being Juliette and Rayna, as the first series develops they go from bitter enemies to professional rivals to teacher/student to an almost mother/daughter relationship. It's an interesting one to watch, especially between two women.


The series revolves around Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a bisexual woman living in New York City who is sentenced to 15 months in a women's federal prison for transporting a suitcase full of drug money to her former girlfriend who is an international drug smuggler. The offense occurred ten years prior to the start of the series, and in that time Chapman had moved on to a quiet law-abiding life among New York's upper middle class.

TV (and/or whatever Netflix Shows are considered) is feeling quite lady-centric at the moment, quite rightly so. OITNB is a fantastic example of the new lady-centricity, you can probably count the men in this show on one hand and the one's that you can count aren't nearly as interesting as the awesomely diverse cast of women on this show - even the lead character isn't nearly as interesting as the awesomely diverse supporting cast of women in this show.

OITNB was created by Jenji Kohan, who also created one of my other favourite female led shows, Weeds. As far as characters go Piper is pretty much Nancy Botwin (Weeds), if not slightly less sheltered and shallow. If I'm honest, sometimes I skip past Piper's parts (especially those that include her awful husband played by Jason Biggs), just so I can get to the more interesting inmates' stories. Easily the best part of this show, each episode focuses on the backstory of an inmate that Piper is incarcerated with, my favourite so far being the episode focussing on Tricia, which was absolutely heartbreaking. I'm hoping next season will do the same as I'm desperate for backstories on Mendez, Taystee, Poussey and Crazy Eyes.


Honourable Mentions

Mad Men - Always and forever. I mean it was an interesting series, that at times seemed to favour shock twists and turns more than a Mad Men series should, but really, even when Mad Men is good it's better than most things on TV. I'm a little over Don's entire-life crisis, but Matt Weiner is taking the female characters (Sally Draper especially) in interesting directions, some of which I'm not sure on, but I'm excited to see how their stories develop.

Music


Just the one for this year I think. 

I went very quickly from not knowing who Lianne La Havas was to loving her, to seeing her and then absolutely adoring her.

I'm that rare breed of person that doesn't really enjoy live music, I know, I know. With a dad who has be a gigging musician since before I was born, I've spent a lot of time in studios and at concerts listening to music - good music, but also bad music, like properly terrible music. I like to think that because of this I have a good ear - I also have an incredibly low tolerance for bad music/musicians; I hate the risk that my favourite singer could be terrible or that I'm waiting around for an unknown singer to be terrible. I hate crowds, I hate bars, I hate arenas and I hate strangers swaying next to me when I'm trying to listen to my favourite song.

Lianne La Havas is fantastic live, I happily listened to her sing whilst stood in a field, in the rain - that, considering the rant a few sentences ago is a big deal.




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