Guilt-free

alba-villanueva-5-1453496549Abuela is judging me.

I’ve been absent from this page for weeks now, for a lot of reasons, all related. The main word is work. I’ve had way too much to do, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t had down time. The problem is what I’ve been doing during my (rare) off time. I’m guilt-ridden every time I choose to do something over another. I feel guilty when I’m not working to begin with, but on top of this, when I do something other than read/study/write my proposal, I feel guilty about doing this one thing rather than another. If I choose to watch TV, a voice in my head scolds me for not writing an email or a letter to my friends instead. If I decide to knit, I scold myself for not writing on this blog, and so on. I haven’t allowed myself to do a lot of things lately, knitting is a good example. Last weekend though, Jane Fonda -my boyfriend’s mom, a fellow knitter- signed us up for a knitting class. I was excited but also pissed, because this class had an assignment; we needed to complete a few rows before showing up. I complied and did it, and I realized what I had been missing: an activity that allowed me to create AND to relieve my stress. I found myself enjoying the class immensely too, not only because I was the best knitter there and could unleash my inner Monica Geller, but also because I just threw myself in my project without thinking about all my work, for the first time in weeks.

539a25bba04b683802338d52ea9a459dYou go, girl.

So, I started thinking: why am I feeling guilty about all these other activities? What is so bad about prioritizing anyways? I’m writing on here right now, because I don’t have the energy to do any work, but also because it helps me relax and reflect on things. Also, in my free time, I watch TV a lot. What’s so bad about that? TV can be relaxing, and it can sometimes spark reflection. TV can be quite powerful, actually. Within the past month, two of my favorite shows have tackled the crucial question of abortion (no relation whatsoever with my previous topic: knitting). I’m going to try and stay out of politics for this one, because I always said that this is not a place for debates or politics in general, but I believe certain topics are even more powerful in light of recent events. Certain topics need to be referenced and to stop being invisible and, therefore, stigmatized. Both Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex Girlfriend handled abortion very tastefully in the past few weeks, and I thought I would talk about it a little bit today, because in my opinion, this issue is closely linked to guilt, too. In Jane the Virgin, –SPOILER ALERT–  Jane’s mom Xiomara has a medical abortion off-screen after finding out she was pregnant with Esteban’s baby. She doesn’t only have an abortion because it’s Esteban’s and not Rogelio’s; she literally does NOT want another child, and this is even what ended her relationship with Rogelio, whom she loves so much. Her decision is really that, a decision. She’s not a kid anymore, she could technically handle another child, even if money would be a little tight. But she doesn’t want to have to handle it, because she doesn’t want it. Her biggest problem is telling her very religious mom -can you blame her? I’m still shuddering from the gif I posted above-, but she had no problem telling her daughter, and her daughter’s husband (and probably Rogelio, too). In Crazy Ex Girlfriend, Paula gets pregnant right when she finally gets into law school. Her husband points out that she has options right away, without saying the word, and Paula brushes it off quickly, stating that those ‘options’ are for teenagers who got knocked up at prom -I’m paraphrasing. I got really upset at the show after hearing this conversation, because I was expecting more from the writers. But by the end of the episode, Paula has realized that her dreams would literally be shattered by this pregnancy, and that she would be miserable. She also has an abortion off-screen, and the word is finally pronounced by her son, who hilariously says he will get the door ‘because you just had an ABORTION’. I giggled at that one, because it’s funny, but then it hit me: this is important. Don’t hide the word, don’t use metaphors, don’t treat it like something shameful. Paula told her son, because this act of family planning concerns him. He is part of this family, he has the right to know, just like she would have had the right to hide it from him if she had wanted to. Everything about this is a question of choice.

Everything about it is also a question of guilt. The common ground between these two women is their absence of guilt. Xiomara voices it when she tells Jane that Alba is punishing her because she does NOT feel guilty about her abortion, and Alba thinks she should. People’s relationship with abortion is a catch-22: (some) women who have had one feel guilty because society is telling them that it’s shameful. But society is saying this, partly because no one is vocal about abortion. Sure, people talk about it as a societal problem, so it gets some screen time, but as a secretive practice that is, above all, private, if not downright shameful. What these two shows have done recently is take the stigma out, and prove that you can choose to have an abortion and be right back on your feet. It doesn’t make you a bad person, either.

tumblr_ofnhf326zv1qa3emao5_540Another spoiler alert: Abuela comes through.

So yeah, TV can spark discussion, it can be deep.

Watching TV needs to be destigmatized. I should not be shamed because I have watched TV, and I refuse to feel guilty.

 

 

Publicités

Constructed

I like to let my mind wander when I drive. On my weekly commute yesterday, I got to thinking about social constructs. Mainly because of the discussion I had with one of my friends that same day. Her boyfriend was born in Bangladesh 32 years ago, but his passport says he’s only 31. The embassy must have made a mistake with his date of birth and now, in America, where he’s lived for about 10 years, he’s officially a year younger than he actually is. The crazy part is that he has now internalized his new age, and refers to himself as being 31, not 32. My first reaction was a mix of ‘Wow, how lucky, he gains an extra year!’ and ‘It’s disturbing that such a big error would be made on such an important document.’ Then, I found it pretty weird that he would ignore his real age and act like he is only 31. I thought that, if it were me, I would be very aware of the reality and never mix up the two.

And then, on my drive, it dawned on me: what if age was yet another social construct? It’s all about perception, after all. For instance, I’m a person for whom it’s very important to keep track of time. Anniversaries, dates and duration are a big deal to me, and you *may* have noticed that I talk about my age quite a lot. When I’m older, I’ll probably never lie about my age, because I personally find it unsettling. I need to be aware of time passing, and be firmly grounded in a timeline. But, come to think of it, my behavior and comfort zone are completely determined by the society I live in. Every date is documented, people know exactly when they have sent and received every email, and everyone’s birthday is on Facebook. So what if I started telling people that I’m 32, all of a sudden? What would it change for me, besides their perception of me?

Image result for younger tv show gif

I also realized that I’ve always been very judgmental of people who lie about their age, because it unsettles me personally. Take the plot of the show Younger, for instance. (I know, I know, any excuse to start talking about TV, right?) Liza (pictured above) is a 40-year-old mom from NJ and pretends to be 26 in order to land an assistant job in publishing. The premise fascinates me, because of the implied social experiment, but I find myself judging the main character pretty hard. For me, she is a liar first and foremost, and people deserve the truth. But the interesting thing is: why? Why does this particular truth matter? If she were lying about anything else that we consider a pure fact, like her height, her weight or blood type, it wouldn’t matter at all. But because age is such a heavily loaded question, because it allows us to put people in categories according to where they are in life, we find it crucial. So sure, the main character is lying to everyone in her life, but the point is, she didn’t have to try really hard to make that lie stick. She introduces herself as a 26-year-old and BOOM, everyone believes her, just like that. Because people will believe what you tell them, most of the time.

So really, is age all that important? We could argue that it’s just a number, that it’s all about how you feel on the inside. It sounds cliché but it might just be true. Liza lies about her age but she is sincere with the people in her life, about everything else. So why should it be a big deal? Maybe I would be less afraid of the passing of time if I let go for a minute and stopped counting the days, weeks and months.

That’s what I reflected upon, on my drive yesterday.

Then, I looked in my rear view mirror for a second.

I saw my frown lines.

And then, I concluded that age exists, after all.

 

Image result for wilhelmina botox

Betty

betty-beautiful

I’m just gonna come out and say it: I LOVE Ugly Betty. It’s my feel-good show, and it certainly is NOT a guilty pleasure, because there is nothing guilty about it at all. I feel like it’s one of those very underrated TV shows that no one really gave enough credit to, because the premise sounds pretty silly (yes, Jane the Virgin, I’m looking at you). I mean, you hear there’s a show about an ‘ugly’ girl who is propulsed into an assistant job at a fashion magazine and you scream ‘CLICHÉ’ at the top of your lungs. But believe me, this show is not a cliché; it makes fun of the clichés.

  • First of all, the title character is SO much more than just an ‘ugly girl with a big heart’. Betty is not a trope, she is a fully-formed, complex character who does not apologize for who she is. I have talked about how Jane’s virginity does not define her, despite being the title of the show. Well, same goes for Betty: the title puts it out there and kind of gets it over with. Alright, we know she’s not magazine-pretty, now let’s move on. Betty *knows* that she does not have the style that people expect her to have, and she *knows* she looks slightly unconventional. But does she care? Nope. Within a couple of episodes, and by the time she has shown up at work in her butterfly costume for Halloween, you realize that Betty does not indulge in shame or embarrassment. She has better things to do with her time, like being a kick-ass assistant and attempting to shatter the glass ceiling, for instance. Then, it’s important to point out that, despite her unconventional looks, Betty is NOT a loser in the love department. She has several boyfriends throughout the series, and she even has 2 men fighting over her at some point. Betty is not a walking ‘ugly girl with a heart of gold’ stereotype, and she is not a perfect person deep inside. Yes, she can be too nice, and she always has her loved ones’ backs, BUT she is also occasionally envious -she takes pleasure in her older sister’s misery at times- and an opportunist -she does not hesitate to betray Daniel for her dad to be able to stay in the US (although I agree that someone’s immigration status is more important than a lot of petty issues that Daniel has). There’s a lot of moments when Betty is the perfect friend, daughter, sister, aunt, assistant. But there are also moments when she lets herself be selfish, and that’s okay.

 

  • There is a tremendous amount of character development in this show. Betty, of course, grows up a lot over the 4 seasons. Let’s not forget she was only 23 in Season 1! But there’s also Daniel, originally a pretty flat character, destined to be a playboy who got his job through nepotism. Sure, even towards the end, Daniel is not a model of selflessness, but you can see how much he cares about his family, and about Betty.
daniel-meadeWhat a wonderful career path.

Despite what this scene might suggest, Daniel does not stand in Betty’s way and he is rooting for her more and more as the seasons go by. Throughout the whole show, I appreciated how Betty and Daniel were portrayed as genuine friends, without any possible ambiguity (not because Daniel is out of Betty’s league, but because there is no MUTUAL attraction). It would have been too easy to write the two characters into a nonsensical affair: the ugly girl becomes pretty, and BAM, the hot guy suddenly is interested in her. The very last episode of the show suggests that *SPOILER ALERT* Daniel has been having feelings for her, and it is implied that they do go on a date. So, did they decide to end the show on a cliché note? I personally don’t think so. First of all, the power dynamics have changed: Betty is now the boss, and Daniel is interviewing to be HER assistant. Betty is no longer the braces-clad, poncho-wearing awkward girl of the first season, BUT her transformation was progressive and subtle, and it wasn’t a makeover. It was more like maturation, and Betty still looks like Betty. Daniel is interested in her because he has evolved, and she has evolved. He is no longer the looks-obsessed brat he used to be, and Betty is no longer the naive kid she used to be. They are two adults who are best friends, and who *might* turn into something more, but off-camera.

 

  • Family is a huge component of this show. Betty has an adorable dad, Ignacio, a hilarious and hot sister, Hilda, and an awesome nephew, Justin. They are a tight family -for about 2 seasons, they all live under the same roof in Queens-, but they are also not picture-perfect. Their relationship feels real, because they get on each other’s nerves, and yet they always support each other. It always warms my heart when a good-intentioned Ignacio plans a very tacky coming out party for Justin after they all find out he has a boyfriend. It’s not the right move, it’s over-the-top, it’s not his place to choose the moment when his grandson comes out, but you know it comes from a place of love.

gays-color

Betty’s family is not the only interesting one in the show, either. The Meades have had their share of drama, but at the end of the day, they also have each other’s backs. Claire Meade, Daniel’s mom, is my personal favorite, because she is played by the amazing Judith Light, whom I have loved dearly since Who’s the Boss. But Rebecca Romijn also gets a special mention as Daniel’s sister Alexis. Alexis, a transgender woman, fakes her death in order to undergo her transition, and comes back as the woman that she is, without her family knowing at first. The plot is very telenovela-esque -do you sense a pattern in my interests?-, but it also hides very heartfelt messages. Let’s not forget that the show was made in 2006, and the way that it tackles transgender identity is not *really* dated, for something that was written 10 years ago. We see Alexis’ dad struggle with accepting his daughter as a woman, but Alexis is never made fun of, or misgendered by the main characters. We get a glimpse of Alexis’ body image issues that are related to her transition and her dating life, and when a guy in a bar calls her a freak, Wilhelmina punches him in the face, clearly antagonizing him. Transgender identity is not the focus of the show, but it is treated as a legitimate, complex topic instead of making a joke out of it.

 

  • Speaking of Wilhelmina, she is a wonderful character. This show has a lot of wonderful characters, but it is almost impossible to NOT mention her. Vanessa Williams is always perfection, and it looks like Wilhelmina is the role she was born to play.

wilhelmina

She might be the villain for most of the show, TECHNICALLY. Yes, she is a scheming bitch, and all she wants is to take Daniel down. But much like Petra on Jane the Virgin, she is a loveable villain. She’s strong, she’s funny, she’s driven, and she might be selfish, but she also sees the potential in other people. She never underestimates Betty, and she pretty much embodies female empowerment.

willie-slater

Let’s end on this gif, shall we?

 

Fun facts (2)

I know this is a lazy way to write an article, but a few things are battling each other in my brain and I can’t seem to find a point of focus, so here’s a bunch of thoughts that could be deemed as fun facts.

  • Today in my Women and World Literature class, my professor asked us a question that not many people have been asking me lately: she wanted to know what our favorite book was. When you are a literature student, reading becomes your job, and everyone assumes that your favorite book is the one you are working on, which is not always true. Well, for a while, it was true for me. When I was studying American literature in France, my Masters thesis was on Accordion Crimes, by Annie Proulx -the woman who wrote Brokeback Mountain. I hadn’t talked about this book in a long time, so I got all excited when telling my professor and my classmates about it. It’s a novel, but it reads like a bunch of short stories. The link between all the different tales of immigrants in the USA throughout the 20th century is, as the title suggests it, an accordion.
acc-crimesFor what it’s worth, I really recommend it.
  • I realized something about my dad today. I text him almost every day, and he ALWAYS texts back the same thing. For some reason, when I got his text this morning, I scrolled up and realized he might as well have copied and pasted his text from yesterday, or from the day before, because they were completely identical.
philOh, Dad.
  • People have a lot more fun/weird stories when they are not in a relationship, because dating stories are the best. But when you’re in a serious relationship, it’s *kinda* bad taste to bring up your past dates in order to entertain people at parties. So I’m just gonna throw a couple of them out there for you guys: I used to date a guy who refused to eat anything before 5pm, for a very mysterious reason. I once caught another guy scratching his balls WITH A FORK. Another one, after we broke up, asked me to proofread his new girlfriend’s thesis for mistakes (you guessed it, it was the same guy who emailed me right after his wedding). Alright, enough for today, but I’m just saying, dating stories are the best.
soul_funk.pngActually, Samantha’s stories are the best.
  • When I was 10 years old, my dream was to be a writer. I proceeded to write a short story about a girl who drifted away in the the ocean on a floating device, and in an unexpected plot twist, her schoolteacher rescued her and revealed he was her long-lost father. I guess I’ve always had a knack for telenovelas -although my own stories were pretty bad.
Rogelio-jane-the-virgin-39001463-500-240.gifThis is one hell of a cliffhanger.

Team Michael

rogelio (1).gif

I was just painting my nails with a very Rogelio-inspired lavender nail polish when it dawned on me: I never wrote a post about Jane the Virgin. And yet, one might say that I am obsessed with it, for a lot of reasons.

  • First of all, I am really into soap operas and telenovelas, especially when the genre is somewhat subverted. And Jane the Virgin has a voiceover narrator who is absolutely delightful and extremely sarcastic. He constantly breaks the fourth wall and reminds the viewers that it is indeed a telenovela, full of crazy twists and evil twins.

 

  • This show is full of love. The Villanueva family is a beautiful example of a tight-knit and supportive family, and those women will make you tear up on more than one occasion.

 

  • Speaking of women: this show is all about empowerment and making your own decisions and not caring about what society dictates. So, Jane wants to remain a virgin until marriage. It doesn’t mean she is a prude, and it doesn’t mean she judges anyone for having pre-marital sex either. It is simply her decision and it doesn’t define her. Xiomara, on the other hand, has a very healthy sex life and has had many boyfriends, but doesn’t apologize for it.
xothehoShe also shouldn’t apologize about those dance moves!
  • All the characters have something loveable in them, and even Petra, the supposed villain, has her sweet moments and you can’t help but root for her. Rogelio, at first a self-involved telenovela star, turned out to be so much more -he just needed to be around people who gave him a reality check from time to time.

 

  • The love intrigue is, well intriguing. In case you’re not familiar with Jane the Virgin, let me catch you up (I am channeling my inner narrator!): Jane is a young woman who decided to remain a virgin until she gets married, and yet one day, her OB-GYN artificially inseminates her by mistake. As it turns out, the sperm sample belonged to Rafael, hot hotelier (‘hot-elier’, as he is nicknamed at some point in the show) whom Jane met -and kissed- 5 years ago. Jane decides to keep the baby all the while getting engaged to her boyfriend of two years, Michael.
jane and mchaelAdorbs.

SPOILER ALERT, after breaking up with Michael to start a relationship with Rafael, Jane has her baby -adorable little Mateo- and realizes Michael is the one. After a rough patch, they end up getting re-engaged, and their wedding happens on the last episode of Season 2. The audience is clearly divided into 2 groups: team Michael and team Rafael. I do like Rafael as a character, but not for Jane. I have always been team Michael, for tons of reasons: he is a detective -my dream profession-, he loves Jane AND Mateo, he is honest and non-judgemental, he has an amazing bromance with Rogelio, and many more reasons.

michael rogelioAgain, adorbs.

If those who haven’t seen the show are still hanging on and reading this, please don’t continue. I’m about to engage in some serious spoilers.

In the last episode of Season 2, we were lucky enough to witness Jane’s wedding to Michael. And then, right after, we found out that Susanna, Michael’s partner, was in fact Sin Rostro, and as soon as Michael found her out, she shot him in the heart. This was the most heartbreaking season finale -no pun intended-, as I was rooting so firmly for Jane and Michael. The truth is, it was a little obvious that something was gonna go wrong. In fact, Michael’s demise was foreshadowed more than once throughout the show, and the whole wedding was a little *too* perfect for the twisted telenovela world that we know and love. I mean, Rogelio and Jane had a gut-wrenching father-daughter moment before their dance, Michael delivered his vows in Spanish -excuse me, I have something in my eye-, and Bruno Mars even made an appearance. So, when only 1 minute was left, Michael and Jane were about to consumate their union, and Michael stupidly decided to go get some ICE FOR THE CHAMPAGNE BUCKET -I mean come on, your beautiful wife is ready to lose her virginity to you and you worry about ice???-, I knew something was very wrong.

But I can’t help but wonder -Carrie Bradshaw get out of my brain-, is it too simple? Is Michael really dead? I sincerely hope he’s not, it’s been torturing me all summer and I can’t wait to have an answer this fall. But what are the alternatives? He was shot right in the heart, can someone survive that? (I know, I know, I should have an answer for this, because I basically have an honorary degree in medicine after watching so much Grey’s Anatomy.) Will he follow the classic telenovela trope and be in a coma for a while? Will he follow the even-more-classic telenovela trope and have amnesia? I guess we’ll find out in Season 3.

 

Expert in nothing

greys anatomy

I am one of those obnoxious people who think they’re an expert in everything because they watch certain TV shows. I caught myself so many times trying to lecture someone about something medicine-related, on the sole ground that I used to watch Grey’s Anatomy religiously. I don’t even know anything about medicine in real life, and I freak out when I see blood. I can barely put on a band-aid (alright, I might be underestimating myself a tad, because I’m not a moron).

But boy do I like medicine shows. It all started when I was little and became obsessed with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. It’s one of these American shows that most Americans have never heard of, but French people absolutely love. There were re-runs of this every single day. I loved seeing the titular Michaela Quinn live her best life as a doctor in 19th-century Colorado. I learned what trepanation was, and I found out that TB and influenza were really bad news. That’s about it.

doctorI wish.

There was also a heartbreaking episode about rabies and cute little Brian had to put down his dog.

Later in life, I got really into Nip/Tuck and thought I was a plastic surgery expert. Nowadays, my boyfriend and I love to watch Botched, the real-life and sex-free version of Nip/Tuck. I still firmly believe I know a lot about boob jobs and I throw the term ‘symmastia’ around a lot. (I am obnoxious.)

botchedI’m the dentist: ‘Yeah don’t worry, I got it; I’ve seen every episode of Nip/Tuck.’

Watching one of these shows with me must be a misery, because I turn into an insufferable know-it-all who makes comments about everything. Obviously, I know nothing about plastic surgery, just like I don’t know shit about regular surgery. I feel like this type of show was created for the sole purpose of turning people into monsters and alienate them from their family.

These days, my boyfriend and I have a new obsession: Chopped. At first, this show had the same effect as all the others: I morphed into an annoyance who couldn’t shut up about blanching and reductions and how this guy should have done the carrots julienne and blah blah blah. It should be noted that I am a very mediocre cook and that my specialty is noodles and butter (I used to make a great tiramisu but I became lazy with age and I think I forgot how).

And then, I discovered Chopped Junior. These kids are 10 or 12 years old, they still have a baby face, and yet they are wizards with a knife -I don’t mean that to sound creepy- and they are not afraid of the oven. I was afraid of the oven until I was about 24.

So, needless to say, I don’t feel smug anymore.

chopped

Carrie Bradshaw is the worst

shoes

Like a lot of young women, I used to think Carrie Bradshaw was the cat’s pajamas. I annoyingly claimed that I was ‘a Carrie’, while I should have aspired to be a Miranda -Miranda is an unsung hero. The truth is, I was really into shoes when I was 18-19-20 years old, and I thought that Carrie and I were twinsies. What I failed to comprehend is that EVERYONE is into shoes. Shoes are literally the best purchase ever: they make you feel good without ever making you feel chubby, and they are super easy to buy online because shoe sizes are somewhat consistent across the board. Sorry this post is getting boring, I guess I’m  getting old, I’m talking about shoe sizes, please help me. So, to recap, I loved shoes and thought it made me similar to Carrie.

And maybe it did. When I was 18, I was stupid enough to think that buying a new purse would help me get over heartbreak, so I guess I was pretty similar to Carrie after all. But really, I was 18, so I was allowed to be stupid. I wasn’t pretending to be anyone’s role model, while Carrie Bradshaw did a really shitty job at inspiring the masses. Let’s talk about the title of the episode in which the silver shoes above appear: A Woman’s right to shoes. OK, SATC, you’re telling me that you’re making a pun about one of the most important rights that women had to EARN with their blood, sweat and tears? Are we comparing shoes -I mean, I love shoes, but come on- to the right to choose what to do with one’s own body? I know I can’t really blame the Carrie character for this one pun, but again, COME ON.

So I’m gonna try to regain control of my anger emotions and tell you why Carrie is the most annoying ever.

  • First of all, she says stuff like that:
where does the love goCarrie, you’re in your thirties, get your head out of your ass.

She manages to say things so cheesy that her friends don’t even dare tell her that she’s a weirdo. She’s just too far gone.

  • She’s also so needy that I have started rooting for Big. What pains me the most when I re-watch episodes of SATC is that my former favorite character is annoyingly immature and naive. I used to tear up when Big refuses to tell her she’s the one in the first season, but now I’m tempted to cry angry tears. Why does she have to be so needy? Why can’t she just respect him and give him the time to fall in love with her? Did she really need to spy on him at church with his mom? Let’s not forget that she also threw rocks at Aidan’s window -how rude is that!- when she was begging him to take her back.
carrie annoyingRun, Big, run!
  • That brings me to the big no-no of the show: she thinks her relationship with Big is soooo f***ing special that it’s totally worth cheating on good ol’ Aidan for. Aidan is the sweetest man alive, he is literally redoing her floors for her and all she does is complain and run to the hotel to bang Big. And then, when she sees Aidan again, months later, when he lost the little tummy and the greasy hair, she *miraculously* wants him back and chases after him like a teenager…just to refuse to marry him in the end. Was it worth it, Carrie? Was it worth it??
  • She dislikes dogs and is mean to Pete. She also screams bloody murder when she sees a cute little squirrel.
squirrelcarrieMy old little neighbor might agree with her on that one.
  • She actually screams bloody murder all the time. She once squealed like a maniac because she got caught in the rain. Who does that?
  • (This is a big one) She is a BAD friend. She never listens to Miranda when she needs her help, while Miranda is a SAINT and always listens to her bullshit -well, sometimes she yells at her because she’s too annoying about Big, but friends ought to do that sometimes. Carrie also thinks that because she is terrible at managing her own money, she is somehow entitled to Charlotte’s old engagement ring to pay her bills. AND she gets mad at Charlotte for not offering her the ring on her own. WHAT? I could go on forever about how and why she is a bad friend, but here’s another one: Samantha was in a relationship with a woman for a hot minute, and needed to talk about it because well, it was a pretty big, life-changing thing that had happened to her. Did Carrie patiently listen? Nope. She somehow made it all about herself and how she had an amazing orgasm (??) (you’re in your thirties, a great orgasm should NOT be huge news). And later on, when Samantha calls her to tell her she was hurt by her attitude, does she listen? Nope, she lets Ray go down on her DURING THE PHONE CALL. Ugh. Oh, and she sent her boyfriend to pick up an injured Miranda when she threw out her neck, and Aidan had to carry her out of her bathroom NAKED. When Miranda was pissed and humiliated that her friend didn’t come to her rescue herself, Carrie doesn’t understand why, and as if she couldn’t be any more annoying, she brings bagels but forgets the cream cheese.
  • She makes puns about every freaking thing, and says annoying things like this:
single and fabulous.jpgNo.
  • She never calls her boyfriends by their real names. So sure, ‘Big’ sounds really flattering -and we all know it doesn’t *only* refer to the fact that he’s a big shot- but do you really think Jack wanted to be reminded every day that his last name is Berger? (For the longest time, I thought it was spelled Burger, thanks a lot, Carrie.) Does Aleksandr Petrovsky really want to be called ‘The Russian’? I know I wouldn’t like it if my boyfriend referred to me as ‘The French’. I would hate it, actually. The only guy that Carrie called by his real name is Aidan, but on the other hand, she cheated on him, so she owed him that much. (Yes I am really hung up on the fact that she cheated on him.

There’s a lot more that I could say about Carrie being the worst. But mostly, what annoys me is that she had me fooled for a long time. I thought she was the coolest bitch in town, and I am embarrassed that I once related to this character. I mean, sure, I was young and ridiculously naive, thinking that dysfunctional relationships were viable because look at Carrie and Big! I guess the moral of the story is: Carrie and I don’t have a lot in common. We both like shoes -although I am not in debt because of shoes- and we are both pretty annoying.

Guilty pleasures (3)

GOIsz

So, I really like Desperate Housewives. I always have, and I still rewatch some episodes once in a while. About a decade ago, my friends and I were so into it that we had Desperate Housewives viewing parties -well, ok, we weren’t very picky…we also had Nip/Tuck viewing parties, and we gathered to watch the French equivalent of American Idol. 

But, for the first couple of seasons, it wasn’t that embarrassing to be into Desperate Housewives, because it was hilarious, and such an original concept. The one-liners were fabulous -see gif above-, the characters very intriguing, and the plots were oh so mysterious. Sure, the characters are not very nuanced, but they never pretended to be. That’s why I still nickname my borderline-OCD mom ‘Bree’.

I was SO excited when my dad ordered the DVD boxset of Season 3 online. First of all, I had never really watched it in English, so I was thrilled to discover the housewives’ original voices, but I was especially happy to know what would happen to the characters. I think that Season 3 was probably the last season that I did not consider as a guilty pleasure. After Gabrielle married this weirdo Victor -who, in my mind, will forever be the man who wanted to pee on Carrie Bradshaw-, everyone pretty much lost interest.

But I didn’t! I kept on watching but didn’t really advertise it, except to my friend Fanny, who was, like me, a ride-or-die fan. We discussed the new twists every week but we were also well aware of the many problems this show had. To name a few:

  • They never knew what to do with Orson. 

In Season 2, he was the guy who ran over Mike, and in Season 3, he was finally deemed innocent because he didn’t kill that bitch Monique, and everyone forgot that Mike ever got run over. In Season 4, Orson was an amazingly supportive husband who was willing to raise his stepdaughter’s baby as his own, and who did everything he could to stay with Bree, including turning himself in for the hit-and-run. I loved Season 4 Orson. But after that, it seems like the writers forgot what he was supposed to be to begin with. Was he a frustrated klepto? Was he a resilient handicapable man? Was he a supportive stepdad? Was he a CRAZY MURDEROUS STALKER? (yeah, I will never get over what they did with him in the last season, even though it kinda made sense)

  • They just couldn’t remember anyone’s age.

Was Juanita older than MJ, even though MJ was born in season 4 and Juanita off-screen during the 5-year jump? (Another thing I won’t forget: MJ’s real name is Maynard.) Also, what’s with Zach Young claiming he was older than John Rowland, when John was already 18 in season 2? (that could also be a lie for Zach to get in Gabi’s pants, but it really bugged me) And how old was Julie supposed to be? Wasn’t she younger than Danielle? This is all too confusing.

  • The slut-shaming is unbearable.

Sure, Edie literally stole everyone’s exes. But why did everyone call her a whore, a slut, and other charming epithets?

tumblr_m7v09xnhVO1rvs3tdo1_500 Even she internalized the abuse, the poor thing.

Whenever we saw Edie in a relationship, she really seemed to care -a little too much when it came to Carlos, if you ask me- and did not deserve all the hate. Did the writers think that every show needs a whore?

  • The whole Kayla thing.

Full disclosure, I just finished rewatching Season 4, so maybe I’m thinking about this because I just saw it, but it might not be that much of a plot problem. Bottom line, I love Lynette, she may be my favorite, and however wrong she is, I can’t help but be on her side. But this whole Kayla thing just bothered me. So, she promises to take care of Kayla like she’s her own. She seems to be doing a good job, until Kayla magically turns into an evil child and makes Lynette’s kids jump off the roof and stuff. Ok, that’s not ideal, but come on, the kid lost her mom, and it’s not exactly her fault if Lynette’s kids are gullible enough to think that an umbrella = a parachute. But most importantly, she doesn’t feel loved, and it is clearly stated in the scene with the psychologist. Lynette basically admits that she doesn’t *really* love Kayla, and the kid is not stupid, she knows. So, sending her to live away didn’t seem like the kind thing to do. Also, she seems to be forgotten pretty quickly, because Tom, her FATHER, never mentions her again after Season 4.

  • Katherine.

I always hated Katherine. She was rude from the very beginning and didn’t really form any strong friendships on the Lane -there was this frenemy thing with Bree, but they kept trying to poison each other-, so I never understood why they kept her so long. I was just really annoyed with her when she became obsessed with Mike in Season 6, and relieved when she left. And then, when she came back in the last episode, she managed to piss me off by saying that French women don’t shave their pits.

  • A bunch of unnecessary deaths.

I get why *some* characters had to die. But some others just seemed to be unfairly punished. Like Karl, for instance. I always liked Karl. Burgi’s chemistry with Teri Hatcher was undeniable, and Karl was, after all, a loveable character. The karaoke scene where Susan screams at him while singing New York New York is hilarious, and the whole love triangle with Edie in Season 2 is delightful. But from the moment he started sleeping with Bree, I wondered what could possibly happen in order to undo this. Well, a tiny plane happened, and it crushed Karl to death -it also left Orson paralyzed. It just seemed very unnecessary to me. They could have found a better way to break him and Bree up. Also, it might seem obvious but MIKE’S DEATH. Mike has never been my *favorite* male character, but come on. Why did you need to make Susan a widow? This just sucks.

article-2113948-12228C6D000005DC-829_634x365 Even though it makes an original headline.

So, this show has a lot of problems. I guess I wanted to list a few, as a way to show that I’m not following it blindly. Maybe I just wanted to justify my guilty pleasure by showing that I’m not completely stupid. But there’s also a lot of good things about this show, and there are many moments that make it a pleasure to watch. For instance, the friendship between the women, so intense that Bree decides to take the fall for Carlos in the last season. Or the romance and the strong relationships: Tom and Lynette who can’t stay away from each other in the end, Susan and Mike who fall back in each other’s arms after almost losing their son, Carlos and Gabi fighting adversity together. What I like most about the show is the humor. A lot of good scenes are based on funny or ridiculous predicaments. What is coming through my mind right now is the epitome of an absurd situation: Bree giving Orson a lap dance by dancing to Tchaikovsky. The intrigue was usually well thought, and I always enjoyed the mystery around the traditional newcomers each season.

I don’t feel *that* guilty over this. All in all, I think Desperate Housewives is a good show, albeit a little ridiculous at times. What’s more embarrassing is that I actually enjoy the ‘soap opera’ genre as a whole, and that I *sometimes* -shamefully- watch other shows of the same type. But, again, more on that later. I’m not gonna divulge all my secrets on the same day.

Mindy is my hero

mindy

So, I said yesterday that I would tell you about my deep love for Mindy Kaling ‘another day’. Well, this day has come, my friends.

I have loved Mindy Kaling since I discovered her in The Office, and followed her faithfully when she created her own -amazing- TV show, The Mindy Project.  I originally wrote ‘I admire her confidence’, but I’m realizing that it’s kind of ridiculous to say. Why wouldn’t she be confident? It would be crazy if she wasn’t, because quite frankly, she’s the best. confidence

She’s a fantastic actress, one of the funniest around, in my opinion, and her delivery is always on point. Even her physical comedy is amazing. I don’t need to remind you of how hilarious Kelly Kapoor is even when she’s not saying a word, but here is an example:

kellym.gif

Mindy Lahiri, Mindy’s character in her own show, is a genius creation. As Kaling stated it multiple times in interviews, Lahiri is a flawed character and is never idealized, and yet the audience is drawn to her for being so great. She is simply amazing, and I am a little bit in love with her.

5fbb2dd2163d2f4df5ae9936f69d43b2 (This is why I refused to say I have a ‘girl crush’ on her.)

So I’ve remained faithful to her show, even when it moved over to Hulu, even when *SPOILER ALERT* Mindy’s endearing relationship with Danny ended, because, if we’re being real, Danny or no Danny, The Mindy Project is fabulous.

What made me fall even more in love with Kaling -note the absence of the term ‘girl crush’, I’m sticking to my/her guns- was reading her books. Yes, plural. I bought both of her books, Is everyone hanging out without me? in 2013, and, last year, Why not me?

Her writing is lively, intelligent, compelling, and many more positive adjectives. Sure, as she states it in her first book, the cover is mostly pink, so don’t expect a life-changing novel. But I loved reading about her childhood, her teenage years, which she talks about very candidly. I loved reading about her first steps as a comedian, and about her crazy life theories. If Mindy had a blog, I would read it religiously.

Now, why didn’t I title this post ‘Guilty pleasures (3)’? I mean, I think thrillers are a guilty read, so why don’t I feel a *little* guilty about her books? Well, I can’t explain it. As an aspiring academic, I cringe at the thought of my professors and mentors finding out that I adore Harlan Coben, but I remain very unapologetic about reading Kaling’s books. Maybe I’m subconsciously trying to channel her ‘entitlement of a tall, blond, white man’ after all.

IMG_4794

 

Guilty pleasures (2)

tumblr_n7nczwaf8W1qe7736o2_500

So, last time I talked about ‘guilty pleasures’, the ‘guilty’ part was more about what I’m *supposed* to like as an aspiring academic, than about it being really ‘guilty’. Today, I’m gonna talk about something way more shameful, but, as it turns out, not that different.

I love watching Catfish. I first discovered the movie, which has been criticized for not being 100% authentic, but personally, I don’t care. It’s a suspenseful piece, that touches upon a topic that is essential to this Internet-oriented generation: pretending to be someone else online. In the movie, Nev Schulman decides to investigate the woman he has been talking to online for a while, after becoming increasingly suspicious of her. She sends him songs that she said she recorded herself, but he finds the same exact songs on Youtube within the next 5 seconds. But, most importantly, she has *never* videochatted with him. The point is, he never even asked. This, to me, is a tale of trust. It shows that, when you like someone the way that Nev liked Megan, you can’t bring yourself to doubt them, or else everything would crumble down. However, in this day and age, when anyone can pretend to be anyone online, a little bit of distrust can’t hurt.

My favorite part was the investigation. Yes, I like the moral/sociological aspects of it, but most importantly, I love the moments when Nev, his brother and his friend try to figure out just *who* Megan is.

Then, I proceeded to watch the show. Every week, Nev and his awesome partner in crime Max Joseph help a person who is trying to meet someone they have been talking to online. Some of them are naive, they think they are really talking to a supermodel, a famous rapper, or even A COMPUTER SCIENCE MAJOR WITHOUT A WEBCAM. Some others actually know that there’s a problem but want to get to the bottom of it. Now, I don’t enjoy seeing the look of despair on someone’s face when Nev announces that the person they thought they were talking to is a completely different person. But I do enjoy the process, the way that Nev and Max leave no stone unturned, and look up pictures, telephone numbers, anything they can get their hands on in order to find out who the catfish really is.

It doesn’t hurt that the two hosts are adorable and share a lovely bromance that is really fun to watch.

tumblr_n860uuyteK1qcr4mlo2_500

My boyfriend finds my fascination for this show extremely creepy, because it stages deception and, mostly, sadness. But to me, watching those 2 guys investigate is like a live-action, much more mundane version of reading a thriller novel. Last week, I said that in Harlan Coben’s world, anyone can be a detective if their loved ones are in danger, well I find the Catfish world very similar. I secretly hope that one of my friends would be catfished (now I know this isn’t nice, but that’s why I said ‘secretly’), just so I can turn into Nev and Max and help them investigate. In another life, I would have LOVED to be a detective, but in reality, police work scares me because it’s way too dangerous. However, being part of an anti-catfish brigade is right up my alley.