Wednesday, March 4

What I've Watched #3: TV Edition

The Good Wife

I have caught-up with the previous seasons, and the current More4 season, of The Good Wife, and it is now a fully fledged obsession on the same level as my Mad Men and Parks and Rec obsessions. As I said before it's an amazing cast and the stories are incredibly gripping, my interest in the political back story (and Chris Noth) is pretty much non-existent at this point, but despite that I love it.

I had a pause mid-season five due to (spoilers abound in this paragraph) the loss of Will Gardner, which was devastating (like I had to have a nap devastating), but it was also completely necessary. As much as I love a 'will they/won't they story' and as amazing as the chemistry between Julianna Marguiles and Josh Charles was, it was always there lingering in the background, sometimes to the detriment of the show; although it did create, in my opinion, one of the best scenes in the show, when Will discovers that Alicia is leaving Lockhart Gardner. Nevertheless, now, carrying on into season six, it works and I get it, as far as plot devices go, it's very divisive.

 Aside from the ridiculously good main cast which includes Julianna Marguiles (obviously), Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming and new additions Matthew Goode and Taye Diggs. The regular guest stars are equally amazing - Nathan Lane, Stockard Channing, Martha Plimpton, Rita Wilson, Michael J Fox - who plays against type so well as a horribly conniving lawyer that it makes my head hurt - and of course the amazing Carrie Preston, who plays arguably the best lawyer and character on the series - Elsbeth Tascioni.

 Obviously, like most, I've always watched Girls, but I feel like I'm watching Season 4 a little closer - it's slowly becoming my favourite season. As much as I dislike the characters on the whole (and feel like that is ultimately the point), I enjoy watching them develop - seeing Hannah introduced to us in the first season as, in her own words, 'the voice of her generation' to Monday night's episode where she admits that she is coming to terms with her own mediocrity when faced with Mimi Rose's genius.

And 'mediocrity' seems to be the theme of this season, whether the Girls are aware of themselves or not. Marnie gave up her career as a curator after a minor road bump and is embarking on a music career where she performs in restaurants to less than welcoming audiences; Shoshanna graduated late from NYU and is going from job interview to job interview grating on her interviewers, naturally; and Jessa is basically in the same place she's been the past four seasons unaware of her privilege and continuing to be self-absorbed. It's actually reminding me of the Ted Talk by Courtney Martin - 'This Isn't Her Mother's Feminism' -
"...Many in my generation -- because of well-intentioned parenting and self-esteem education -- were socialized to believe that we were special little snowflakes -- who were going to go out and save the world. These are three words many of us were raised with. We walk across graduation stages, high on our overblown expectations, and when we float back down to earth, we realize we don't know what the heck it means to actually save the world anyway."
She might be referring to a different generation, but the points she makes seem perfectly apt. Also, I have to add that the closing credit music for this season has been rather excellent.

American Horror Story: Coven

I've just started watching American Horror Story, another show that has been recommended to me multiple times. If I'm completely honest I wasn't really interested in watching another Ryan Murphy show, as much I enjoyed Popular and Glee at first, he always seems to lose momentum after a season or two; but then I heard about series three of AHS - Coven. I'm not normally into anything mildly scary, but you can always tempt me a with a bit of witchery (see here and here). So I skipped series one and two, because they sound terrifying and decidedly witch free, and started with Coven.

At the moment it's mostly me watching the screen out of the corner of my eye, I'm only about eight episodes in and I'm still not sure if I like it a whole lot. It's incredibly sensational, but I suppose it wouldn't be Ryan Murphy without a little drama. It isn't that it's not very good, but the acting is a little hammy at times and it's a bit cheesy, in a way that I feel only Americans are capable of, but, meh, it's ok.

Other Things:

I thought this article about 'The Mindy Project', on Media Diversified was interesting. I love Mindy Kaling and I loved the Mindy Project, but it was one of the tv shows that I stopped watching when I streamlined my TV viewing (not that you'd be able to tell from this post). It was easy to stop watching because like 'New Girl' it got a little lost when the main 'will they/won't they' arch became 'they did'; But also the lack of diversity in the cast disappointed me, and the African-American character that they later introduced seemed like she was lifted out of a Tyler Perry film. The portrayal of black culture in American entertainment is actually really odd for me, it looks like it should be the same, but something is slightly off (like buying a supermarket branded ketchup instead Heinz), but perhaps that's a discussion for another day.

It no doubt, must be a huge responsibility for people of colour (for want of a better term) working in entertainment to live up to the hopes and expectations of not only your own ethnic community, but almost every other non-white community; It's not fair at all, but I hold Mindy Kaling more accountable, than I would Lena Dunham, for example. When you look at how diverse Shonda Rhimes' casting is, it seems almost obvious. Not to say that Lena Dunham (or whoever else is casting shows that I don't watch) aren't also responsible; I love Mad Men but when they address a lot of the political issues that, were at times literally happening outside their window - the civil rights movement and second-wave feminism - it can lack depth. When you contrast that with a show like 'Masters of Sex' that is only in its second season and has already broached on both quite a bit.

I don't know, maybe I'm over-simplifying the issue, but as a child who grew up pretending to be a mutant superhero, descended from a line of Kenyan 'witch-priestesses' (Storm from X-Men) instead of a Disney princess, because not a single one looked like me, I think it's incredibly important for people who almost definitely felt the same growing up, to feel a certain sense of responsibility when given an opportunity like Mindy and Shonda have, to push for diversity in entertainment. I also think it's everyone's responsibility to encourage blind-casting (not only based on race, but gender, disability etc), when I think of the films that I've watched so far this year, the race of the character for almost every one was irrelevant and yet the casts were predominantly white, when not specified the character was male and every one was able bodied.

On a lighter note, I've been trying to write at least a paragraph on Letterboxd about every (new) film that I watch. I don't actually read film reviews normally, but I like following people who, like me, list a load of random thoughts that they have whilst watching a film. You can follow me here.


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