Category Archives: Musing
Sorry, Lena Dunham; after winning me over completely with season one of “Girls,” you’re going to have to try a bit harder from now on. Despite a rather auspicious beginning, Dunham’s controversial HBO creation hit some major snags in its second season, quite obviously suffering from that dreaded sophomore slump. Really, though, it was bound to happen; especially as each character became less and less relatable, and more and more unwatchable.
I am, of course, talking about the girls here– most definitely not the guys. As Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna and Jessa continued to disappoint, Charlie, Ray, Eli, and yes, even Adam, were each responsible for restoring my faith in “Girls.” That’s why I, like many, was especially gutted to hear that Christopher Abbott would be departing the series. This recent, unfortunate turn of events has, however, presented the perfect opportunity to chat more about the boys of “Girls,” who have provided the show’s second season with its best moments, by far.
With the exception of a few poignant, brilliant episodes (“I! Don’t! Care!”, anyone?), our four favorite female Brooklynites faltered quite often throughout season two of “Girls.” Now, let me get one thing straight– I LIKE a character who falters. Perfect characters are not just unrealistic, but also boring, existing only within the realm of daytime soaps or Taylor Swift radio ballads. In particular, Hannah’s flaws have always been attractive to me; as a fellow twenty-something New York writer, I’ve always related to her quirks and struggles, even when they began to verge on the extreme. And to be honest with you, I was very much looking forward to life sucking for Marnie this season, as last season things were a bit too comfortable for the perfect gallery princess.
In the beginning, things did suck for Marnie this season– she lost her job, began to regret dumping her boyfriend, Charlie, and experienced a falling-out with Hannah. However, instead of eliciting our sympathy (as she had done before), Marnie made it far too easy to hate her just a little bit more each week. By the time the season finale rolled around, I was really hoping that Marnie would trip in her heels and get run over by a cab. I mean, come on; that cringe-worthy “Stronger” performance at Charlie’s work party? Her bizarre relationship with that guy from Lonely Island? That fucking ridiculous hostess dress from Mars, those obnoxious crocodile tears, not to mention the fact that everything ALWAYS has to be about her? It was all simply too much to bear, but it pales in comparison to the final episode’s nauseatingly neat fairy-tale “reconciliation” with Charlie. HOW/WTF/WHY would Charlie ever get back with Marnie after the way she treated him? In real life, a boy– or, let me just say it, MAN– of his caliber would never put up with so much shit, even for a hot girl. Charlie is an excellent, interesting character, but Dunham really dropped the ball, which I’m assuming is why Abbott decided to leave the show. Even the best actors must get tired playing the punching bag week after week.
Which brings me to Ray. Who didn’t love that scene between Ray and Shoshanna on the subway platform? Alex Karpovsky really hit his stride this season, and I’m hoping to see much more of him next year (despite the unfortunate dumping situation). I have a feeling that Shoshanna will eventually regret her decision to break up with Ray, because you know, he’s like, ambitious now! And he cries with dogs on park benches, which is actually pretty deep.
But what happens when a character is all-at-once charming, terrifying, and whole-heartedly polarizing? That, of course, is Adam, portrayed with almost menacing brilliance by Adam Driver, whose evocative performances were responsible for the most thrilling highs and lows of “Girls” season two. It’s impossible to discuss the guys of “Girls” without mentioning “THE” television incident of 2013, which shocked and horrified men, women, and children– actually, hopefully not children– from all corners of the world.
Did Adam actually rape Natalia? I don’t think so. Was what he did gross, and demeaning, and absolutely unbearable to watch? Without question. That is, I believe, also the point, and I don’t feel the episode shied away from conveying that fact. But where Hannah’s whole book deal/OCD scenario was supposed to give the character a new dimension of complexity, Adam managed to do that in pretty much one episode. I think, like a lot of people, Adam sort of hates himself, and hates himself for how he treated Natalia. That’s why he (literally) went running back to Hannah, a girl who doesn’t have her shit together at all, and for whom he can act as the bizarre, twisted version of a Knight in Shirtless Armor. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It is what it is. The finale’s closing scene was definitely cheese-tastic in the most saccharine of ways, but it still managed to set up a promising story for season three.
The one and only girl of “Girls” who didn’t totally suck this season– and believe me, I never thought I’d say this in my life– was everyone’s favorite “Sex and the City” superfan, Shoshanna. I didn’t much like Shoshanna in season one, if only because she seemed like someone I could never be friends with, ever. Despite this, Zosia Mamet’s portrayal of the character slowly but surely began growing on me, especially as Shoshanna became more and more complex with each episode. I still can’t deal with her hair (WHAT is she even doing with a stale donut plastered to the side of her head) or her prim, polished apartment that looks like the bedroom of a rich 12-year-old from suburban Connecticut. But we’ll see, Shoshanna. We’ll just have to see.
So what I’m trying to say here, Lena, is that I’m hoping you’ll (theoretically) shape up in time for season three. Until then, I’ll be tuning into “Girls” each week for those bad, brilliant boys of yours.
It may be Super Bowl Sunday, but the only hot-button debate I want in on is the one currently revolving around The Strokes’ new single, “One Way Trigger.” What do we think? Does it suck? If so, then how much? On a scale of one-to-ten, I’d say… actually, hold on. Let me think about this for a minute.
The Strokes are a band that require no introduction; as bona fide indie rock legends and a New York institution unto themselves, the Strokes are credited with (almost) single-handedly reviving the garage-rock genre and making leather jackets cool again (okay, so leather jackets have never NOT been cool.)
2011′s Angles was a major disappointment– over-ambitious, over-produced, over-everything– and, up until very recently, that was the last we’d heard of Casablancas and Co. You can imagine my excitement earlier this year, when the possibility of a new single was announced. All around the blogosphere, expectations were high, but it took practically no time at all for “One Way Trigger” to make an impact. Within what felt like seconds, the new Strokes’ jam was either the coolest late Christmas gift ever or the world’s biggest mega-flop.
As for me, I feel like “One Way Trigger” falls somewhere in between. Does it sound eerily similar to 1985′s saccharine sweet one-hit-wonder “Take On Me?” Um, that would be a yes. However, I’m not quite ready to give up on the Strokes just yet. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if the band’s new album– which drops miraculously near my birthday– is worth our time.
Until then, all we can do is keep our fingers crossed, pray to the garage-rock gods above, and listen to Is This It? for the millionth time.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert. I am simply an American, getting ready to watch a night of Election Coverage. I felt compelled to write down some of my thoughts, so here they are; take them or leave them.
My entire family loves Mitt Romney. The only thing is, he wouldn’t stand a chance at fitting in with my family– not for a second. As a conservative (in both policy and demeanor), white male, with many well-groomed children and grandchildren, I would actually pay money to see him try surviving one of my family dinners. Messy, loud, and fast with an abundance of both homemade food and vino, it’s a typical immigrant scene (think The Godfather, except thankfully, with way less violence).
That’s why I just don’t understand how I could possibly stem from a collection of Romney’s biggest fans. What do they have in common with him? I used to chalk it down to a phenomenon that I like to call MAR– Middle Age Republicanism. Otherwise known on the streets as ‘The Reverse Alex P. Keaton.’ Everyone’s parents are Republicans, because people seem to reach a certain age and (for the most part), all of their liberal ideals get tossed out the window. Maybe they wake up one day and realize that they’ve got a bunch of kids that they’ve got to put through college, car and mortgage payments that they’ve got to make, and their job just doesn’t cut it. Voting for Republicans seems to help to ease the pain of the lives that they’ve created for themselves.
And honestly, that’s fine; everyone has a right to decide which issues are most important to them, and if economics and business are what’s most important to you, you’re probably going to vote for a guy like Mitt Romney. I really have no problem with that! I mean, hey; I don’t think I would ever want to hang out with the guy, and his brood of sons and eerie Stepford Wife Ann (“I Love Women!,” anyone?) creep my shit out– but that’s their business. I’m sure they’re very nice people.
What I’m trying to say here is that I understand why people of a certain age– particularly those who lived (and thrived) under Reagan– vote Republican. What I don’t understand is why these same people can’t open their eyes and take a look around. Mitt Romney is NOT Ronald Reagan. Paul Ryan, and his attempts at re-defining the definitions of rape, are not only disgusting, but just plain ridiculous. The Republican party, which was once (albeit a LONG time ago) a radical vehicle for change and progress, has now been reduced to a group of Bible thumping, ass-backwards morons who don’t care that America continues to fall behind while the rest of society moves forward in other parts of the world. Need proof? Take a look below.
Obviously, I know that this video isn’t indicative of all Republicans; but unfortunately, it’s people like this who currently serve as the party’s face (we can thank the Tea Party for that). But I refuse to live in a country that claims all of its citizens are free, and then denies gay people basic human rights. I refuse to live in a country where women can be denied access to birth control because of “religious reasons.” After all, aren’t we supposed to have freedom of religion? Or is conservative Christianity supposed to be a way of life? Similarly, I refuse to live in a country where children are not taught evolution. I refuse to live in a country where the teen pregnancy rates are through the roof, and are actually higher in the states where only abstinence is taught. (Side note: Abstinence isn’t something that you “teach,” anyway. It’s common sense. What kids actually need are real facts, information, and science regarding their own bodies.)
I’m not going to pretend like I know a lot about politics– I don’t. I read articles, and watch the news on occasion, but I’m more likely to be watching a marathon of Dexter than doing anything to enrich my mind politically. I am just a person who cares about my future and the future of those less fortunate than me.
The rich will always be rich, and the poor will always be poor– that’s something that my grandmother used to say. But she also taught me that being a good person is what really counts. I voted for Barack Obama today because I believe that he’s a good person. I believe that he cares about the future not just for his daughters, but for all of America. I believe that– despite his mistakes and flaws in the past four years– he is the one who can truly take us forward. He’s the first President I’ve ever voted for, and the only President I’ve ever truly believed in.
So, no matter what happens tonight, I’m on his side, because he’s on mine. And that counts more than any vote ever could.
As an early-twenty-something New York English major-turned writer, it certainly felt, upon watching HBO’s recent comedy series “Girls,” that the character of Hannah was tailor-made for me (although I definitely wear less babydoll dresses). So naturally, I had to write about it! The kind folks at Highbrow Magazine are always nice enough to indulge me in consistently published work, so my most recent article for the site was, of course, entitled, “Why HBO’s Controversial ‘Girls’ Strikes a Nerve.” You can read that article (and I encourage you to do so, so that they continue to employ me) here.
However, since Highbrow Magazine reaches a broad, rather mature audience, I had to tone down my writing somewhat; I didn’t curse, or use the pronoun ‘I’ (not even once!), which is all a stark contrast to the maddening, narcissistic rants that I publish here on my own personal site. But my rants are just so awesome, right? Right?! Whatever!
So, since “Girls” just wrapped up its first season, what better way to celebrate than to publish the unfiltered, unedited, 2-fast-2-furious extended version of my article. I seriously can’t say enough about this show, whether it be good or bad. Do you love “Girls,” or hate it? Or, like some, do you fall somewhere in between? Have a read below, and feel free to leave your thoughts! This show has sparked such a huge debate, and it probably won’t be settling down anytime soon.
Why HBO’s Controversial “Girls” Strikes a Nerve
For something to be great– really, truly, great– does it have to actually be good? Not always, it seems. Way before it even premiered on April 15, HBO’s “Girls” was making headlines across the country. Created by 26-year-old Lena Dunham and executive produced by Judd Apatow, “Girls” is a comedy that was supposed to change the way that women in their early 20s are portrayed on television, from their love lives to their bank accounts. The only problem was, not everyone thought that the change was for the better.
To say that reviews for “Girls” were mixed is like saying the late-great Elvis was just kinda okay at swingin’ those hips. Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that “HBO has a real and rare gem in ‘Girls.’” Exactly one month later, Mother Jones published a review that called the show “as profoundly bland as it is unstoppably irritating.” Emily Nussbaum, writing for New York Magazine, said that “as a person who has followed, for more than twenty years, recurrent, maddening debates about the lives of young women, the series to me felt like a gift,” while Andrea Peyser of The New York Post declared that “‘Girls’ is not really about girls at all– a species uniformly presented as neurotic sex toys or psycho man-eaters.” Ouch. Or, perhaps, way to go. It all depends on how you look at it.
If you’re fifty years old with a teenage daughter, you will watch “Girls” with one hand partially covering your eyes and think, “Wow, I hope my kid doesn’t turn out like this.” If you’re twenty years old and living in New York, struggling to both pay your rent and figure out how you’re going to make it in this world, you watch and undoubtedly say, “Thank you, Lena Dunham.” It may not be perfect, it may not even be good. But “Girls” is great for one reason, and one reason only: if nothing else, it’s real.
“Girls” may currently be the most controversial show about x chromosomes, but it’s not the first, and it won’t be the last. The 2011-2012 television schedule seemed to be chock-full of female power; there was “2 Broke Girls,” “New Girl,” and even the upcoming “Push Girls.” Of course, let’s not forget that other HBO show about womanhood, a little indie affair that ran for six seasons called “Sex and the City.” If you take the horrendously cheesy film adaptations out of the equation, “Sex and the City” is a show that will be certainly remembered as witty, well-written, and sharply acted, all while having touched the lives of millions of women. On both “Sex and the City” and “Girls,” the highs and lows of the work, family, and love lives of four New York women are profiled. On the pilot episode of “Girls,” a velour jumpsuit clad character named Shoshanna even proclaims that she is “definitely a ‘Carrie’ at heart, but sometimes Samantha kind of comes out.” The premises of the two shows may be nearly identical, but– Shoshanna’s declarations aside– the comparisons stop there.
For Carrie Bradshaw, and the countless thirty-something women like her, the New York journey was about love, marriage, success, and attempting to redefine yourself if and when those things don’t happen. For Hannah, it’s about all of these things, too, but for the most part, it’s just about getting by. Women like Carrie knew what they wanted, even if they had to struggle to get it; girls like Hannah have no clue where to even begin.
For a girl in her early twenties, watching “Sex and the City”– and believe me, almost every one of them does, through DVDs or watered-down television repeats– is a total fantasy. It’s like catching an episode of “Game of Thrones,” or reading about adventures at Hogwarts in a Harry Potter novel; entertaining, yes, but wholly unrealistic. Watching “Girls,” on the other hand, is like viewing a documentary, one so real that it perfectly captures all the joy, pain, and confusion of our shared existence. You might love it or you might hate it, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Just the show’s title itself acts as the first and most telling clue to its power. To the average person, a 24-year-old female would be called a woman– a young woman, yes, but a woman all the same. However, Lena Dunham, who plays Hannah, made the bold choice to call her characters girls because, while they may not be children, they are definitely not adults. Even just twenty-five years ago, a woman in her mid-twenties was probably married, settled into some semblance of a career, or was very likely to have already become a mother. For the daughters of these women, this is simply not the case. Many of the real-life versions of Hannah, Marnie, Jessa and Shoshanna do not have full time jobs. Many of them live with their parents, and it’s not, for the most part, because of a poor economy or choices made by any one political figure. It’s because things like jobs, relationships, responsibility, and independence are for adults– unfortunately, something that they are not.
And whose fault is that? You can choose to blame the parents, or the kids, or the entire society in which they all live. Many of the show’s criticism and negative thoughts are aimed directly at Lena Dunham, which is definitely fitting, as “Girls” is a monster entirely of her own creation. Lena, the daughter of artists Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham, was raised in New York City, undeniably privileged. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2008, and in 2010 wrote, directed, and starred in Tiny Furniture, a film which won the award for Best Narrative feature at the South by Southwest Music and Media Conference. In the pilot episode of “Girls,” Hannah tells her parents– albeit while tripping on a particularly pungent form of opium– that she believes she can be “the voice of her generation.” This has prompted many to say, well, who is Lena Dunham to claim to speak for me?
Of course, she can’t speak for everyone, but Dunham can certainly speak for herself, loudly and clearly. She makes no bones about the fact that she and her co-stars happen to be the spawn of accomplished, well-off parents; Allison Williams is the daughter of television’s Brian Williams, Jemima Kirke is the daughter of musician Simon Kirke, and Zosia Mamet is the daughter of legendary playwright David Mamet.
But you don’t have to be a child of privilege (I am not) in order to relate to the themes and situations of the show (I wholeheartedly do). No, I’ve never accidentally smoked crack, lost my underwear, and ran through the streets of Bushwick half-naked– at least not yet. But I have been to warehouse parties almost EXACTLY like the one in which that particular episode takes place. I’ve worked at an unpaid internship, I’ve been on majorly awkward job interviews, I’ve fought fiercely with my roommate, who to me, is some twisted combination of best friend, sister, and bane of my existence. Just like with Hannah’s roommate, Marnie, and her sensitive boyfriend Charlie, I’ve watched my friends stay in relationships that really (really!) need to end, for the sole purpose of complacency, or fear, or just the comfort of knowing that there is that one person in the world that is obligated to have sex with you. Body issues, virginity, casual drug use, independence, friendships, money troubles– in other words, growing the fuck up– these are universal things that every girl will deal with at some time or another in her life. Other shows, like “Sex and the City,” have certainly touched upon these issues, but never in the same way. “Girls” is somehow able to exude the raw complexity that it takes to be truly honest.
Much of this is thanks to Lena Dunham’s expert writing, directing, and the clear yet malleable vision she has established for the show. Lena has portrayed herself in complete and brutal honesty, which features no-holds-barred nudity on her part and awkward sex scenes that would make any sane person cringe with revulsion. These are scenes that she herself has created, proving that she has no qualms about showing herself in an unflattering light. Hannah isn’t glamorous, and she’s not worrying about how she’s going to pay for her next pair of Manolos; she’s self-absorbed, insecure, and worrying about how she’s going to eat if she stays at her unpaid internship, the only place that will employ her. She’s got 99 problems, and being a girl is the cause of all them.
So, let’s get back to the main question– how is it that one show can be so incredibly polarizing? The answer is simple: when it truly strikes a nerve. Maybe the people who hate “Girls” simply hate the generation behind it. Maybe they see too much of themselves in the characters, all the complexity and uncertainty of being young (the truth does hurt, as they say). It could be for all of these reasons, or none at all. What we do know, however, is that if something is simple, easy, and pleasing to everyone, it is quite rarely note-worthy or special. It might be good, it might be fun, but “Girls” is a lot more than that. “Girls” is great.
There’s only one awesomely epic and epically awesome blockbuster in America right now, and it’s The Avengers. The superhero squadron have made 3.8 bazillion dollars so far, and with a 93% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, that’s nothing to laugh at. Have you seen The Avengers, and like everyone else, totally loved it? But did you know that the driving force behind the film is none other than the genius, beloved, yet under-appreciated (up until now, of course) fanboy director Joss Whedon?
I didn’t, at least not at first (a momentary lapse in my usually flawless IMDB knowledge). Now, I’m not that old yet, but I definitely remember a time when Joss Whedon creations were cult classics, virtually ignored by mainstream Hollywood. A lot of Whedon projects got scrapped far too soon, meeting untimely demises in the world of television (“Firefly” and “Dollhouse.”) The exceptions to this rule are, obviously, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off Angel, which ran for five and seven seasons, respectively. However, if you can even believe it, Buffy was never awarded any of the Emmy or Golden Globe attention that it so deserved– for what, you might ask? Well, only for being a totally genre-bending, game-changing series that is easily one of the greatest television shows of all time. Actually, scratch that. THE greatest.
All of this Avengers talk and Whedon-fever (he also put out the critically acclaimed horror flick The Cabin in the Woods last month) has got me feeling nostalgic for Buffy, and reflecting on the things that made the show so damn fantastic. Then, of course, there’s this:
And I was all like, well if Joss Whedon is picking his favorite episodes, then I’m doing it, too. But before I list my very own top ten, let’s dig a bit deeper– Warning: this is about to get NERDY. I’ve got Buffy Summers fever… and the only prescription… is more Buffy Summers.
While I like to pride myself on my self-proclaimed status as a total pop culture freak– a girl who has geeked out over more than one cult phenomenon in her day– Buffy the Vampire Slayer is the thing that started it all. In hindsight, I was probably too young to watch this show in the beginning (where was my mom?) but boy, am I glad that I did. If you think Buffy and her friends lived over a Hell Mouth, well, do you remember the late 90s? In a pre-millennial world of boy bands, butterfly clips, and frosted tips, my idol was Buffy Summers, and I pretty much just wanted to see her kick everyone else’s ass.
As I got older, I began to appreciate Buffy for more than just her slaying abilites; there are so many elements that made the show outstanding in so many ways. First, there was the premise. Devoted Buffy fans will be familiar with the show’s question of origin: what happens when the ditzy girl who dies first in the horror film becomes the most bad-ass killer of them all? It’s such a clever yet simple idea, it’s hard to believe that no one had done it before; well, it had been done, but not by Joss Whedon. He first turned the damsel-in-distress notion on its head with the 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer film, which was a start, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The movie also flopped at the box office, so for the television re-boot just five years later, a lot of things had to change. The first and most important thing was to find a replacement Buffy that not actually worked, but could carry the weight of the world– and a seven-year long starring role– on her small shoulders.
Enter Sarah Michelle Gellar. Blonde, cute, and pretty, but blessed with a quick wit, a relatable vulnerability, and a delicate power that took Buffy Summers from wannabe super-heroine to legendary television icon. The actors on Buffy never received the acclaim that they so deserved, because each one (my personal favorites being Giles, Anya, and Spike) brought an element to the show that was pure magic. The supporting characters were not merely side players, but important pieces to the overall puzzle; if you took one away, the whole thing was kaput (as was made clear by the departure of Giles for the slightly underwhelming sixth season). Buffy tackled giant issues– most memorably homosexuality, with the realistic and touching relationship between Willow and Tara– without the audience ever feeling like they were being taught a moral or lesson. It was a science fiction/horror show for sure, but at its core, it was a story of youth and the complicated, ever-changing state of being human. The writing was superb– phenomenal, insane, out of control. Whedon knew how to write, but so did his proteges like Marti Noxon and David Fury. Full of sincere moments and pop culture references alike, the dialogue was fast, clever, and oh-so-relatable to the way that teenagers talked at the time. I had never seen anything like it on television before, and I still attribute a lot of my wit and wisdom to watching (and re-watching) countless episodes.
I could go on, and on, and on some more– but I won’t. Instead, read through my list, and let it inspire you to hop on Netflix and re-watch some of these episodes. Or, pick any episode; there really isn’t a bad one in the bunch. There are two things I’ll never forget about Buffy: one, her bizarre yet complete devotion to leather pants, and two, how great it was to watch her on television every week. If I ever got the chance to meet Joss Whedon in person, I would try to express to him just how much this show meant/still means to me. Well, first I would probably drop all of my belongings and hide under a table or something, but after that initial shock, I would try to say “thank you.” Thanks for allowing Buffy to save the world, a lot.
10. “PASSION” SEASON 2
“Passion,” the episode in which an evil Angel murders Giles’ girlfriend and computer teacher Jenny, was what took a funny show about vampires and high school and turned it into a real thriller. I was never a fan of the weepy, lovesick puppy Angel, and couldn’t stand him until this point– finally, David Boreanaz started to act.
Buffy: It’s so weird… Every time something like this happens, my first instinct is still to run to Angel. I can’t believe it’s the same person. He’s completely different from the guy that I knew.
Willow: Well, sort of, except…
Buffy: Except what?
Willow: You’re still the only thing he thinks about.
9. “FOOL FOR LOVE” SEASON 5
Spike’s backstory is finally revealed in “Fool for Love,” and it’s a lot more interesting than any of us could have ever imagined. He began his journey as a timid, heartbroken poet, and ended it as a punk-rock loving, bad-ass killer. James Marsters’ portrayal– in this episode, and throughout the series– is truly brilliant. Spike is a once in a lifetime character.
Spike: Come on. I can feel it, Slayer. You know you wanna dance.
Buffy: Say it’s true. Say I do want to. It wouldn’t be you, Spike. It would never be you. You’re beneath me.
8. “CHOSEN” SEASON 7
The series ended with “Chosen,” and while the seventh and final season had both high points and low points, the finale was just as beautiful as it was satisfying. The town of Sunnydale is completely destroyed, Buffy finally confesses her love to Spike, and, oh yeah– they all save the world (but what else is new).
Spike: I can feel it, Buffy.
Spike: My soul. It’s really there. Kind of stings.
7. “CONVERSATIONS WITH DEAD PEOPLE” SEASON 7
“Conversations with Dead People” is unusually structured, and the daring premise really pays off. As the title suggests, the episode is made up of several different conversations: Buffy with a vampire who was once a guy from her high school; Willow with the ghost of a dead girl who pretends to channel her dead girlfriend, Tara; Dawn with a terrifying and menacing presence that takes on the form of her dead mother.
Buffy: I just – if you knew what I’ve done, what I’ve let myself become. My best friends don’t even – You’d laugh, if you heard some of the things I’ve done to them.
Webs: Buffy, I’m here to kill you, not to judge you.
6. “BECOMING, PART 2″ SEASON 2
The whole good Angel/evil Angel/Buffy love triangle came to a dramatic conclusion with “Becoming, Part 2.” Buffy, still in love with her vampire boyfriend, makes the decision to sacrifice him in order to save the world. In other words– she grows up. It’s just that the stakes (no pun intended) are a little bit bigger than they are for most teenagers.
Xander: Can you walk?
Giles: You’re not real.
Xander: Sure, I’m real.
Giles: It’s a trick. They get inside my head, make me see things I want.
Xander: Then why would they make you see me?
Giles: You’re right. Let’s go.
5. “ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING” SEASON 6
A musical episode of Buffy could have easily turned out to be the worst, most tacky idea, ever; but of course, with Joss Whedon manning the controls, you’re not very likely to crash and burn. The singing-and-dancing episode was all at once hilarious, clever, fun, and tongue-in-cheek. Most importantly, everyone involved was clearly committed to making it great, and it showed.
Anya: When things get rough he/Just hides behind his Buffy
Now look, he’s gettin’ huffy/Cause he knows that I know
Xander: She clings, she’s needy/She’s also really greedy
Anya: His eyes are beady!
Xander: This is my verse, hello!
4. “GRADUATION DAY, PART 2″ SEASON 3
Another season finale, another episode both written and directed by Joss Whedon. Another example of Buffy at its best. Like you could have guessed, Buffy and her friends graduate high school, but not before defeating the evil mayor and rival villainous Slayer, Faith. The entire high school is demolished in an epic battle of good versus evil. Exciting, and definitely fitting, as it was the end of an era.
Oz: We survived.
Buffy: It was a hell of a battle.
Oz: Not the battle. High School.
3. “HUSH” SEASON 4
Another daring episode, “Hush” was almost entirely silent, a good ten years or so before The Artist made the whole not-talking thing cool again. But when Buffy and her friends lose their voices, they don’t lose any of their ability to communicate a fantastic story. I mean, come on– the slideshow presentation scene, anyone? HILARIOUS. But what’s not so hilarious are the images of the frightening “Gentlemen” floating eerily towards their scream-less victims; the stuff that everlasting nightmares are made of, for sure.
(The Gentlemens’ Nursery Rhyme:)
Can’t even shout, Can’t even cry
The Gentlemen are coming by
Looking in windows, knocking on doors
They’re gonna take seven and they might take yours
Can’t call to mom, Can’t say a word
You’re gonna die screaming but you won’t be heard.
2. “THE GIFT” SEASON 5
This was written as if it were the series finale, because at the time, the future of Buffy was unclear. Thankfully we were blessed with two more full seasons, but if “The Gift” had had to be the last Buffy episode ever, it would have been a perfect one. I think that the whole Glory/the Key story line was one of the most original and exciting things that the show had ever done– and that’s saying something. Buffy ends her own life for the greater good without a second thought, and even though she eventually returned, the closing image of her gravestone was too touching to ever be forgotten.
Buffy: Dawn, the hardest thing in this world… is to live in it. Be brave. Live. For me.
1. “THE BODY” SEASON 5
Buffy, her sister Dawn, and her friends are shocked with the unexpected death of Buffy’s mother. Moving, delicate, and oh so realistic in its portrayal of grief– you feel it all. It took a show all about death to finally make an episode of television that touched upon what it really means to be alive.
Anya: I don’t understand how this all happens. How we go through this. I mean, I knew her, and then she’s- There’s just a body, and I don’t understand why she just can’t get back in it and not be dead anymore. It’s stupid. It’s mortal and stupid. And-and Xander’s crying and not talking, and-and I was having fruit punch, and I thought, well, Joyce will never have any more fruit punch ever, and she’ll never have eggs, or yawn or brush her hair, not ever, and no one will explain to me why.
Okay, so I get it. Everyone’s all worked up about the film adaptation of The Hunger Games being released next week, but that stuff is supposed to be for kids. I mean, they’re calling it the next Twilight, and on any given entertainment news program, you can find countless squirming pre-teen girls proclaiming their allegiance to Team Peeta or Team Gale. It’s pretty unfortunate because, is The Hunger Games anything like that whiny Mormon allegory of a supernatural romance saga?
Um, HELL no.
It’s not even really fair to compare the two book-to-film franchises, but since I’m clearly doing it anyway, there are several reasons why The Hunger Games is not only better than Twilight, but just plain good in general. First off, there is an actual story happening here; not just a love triangle. While Twilight is centered around Bella Swan, the modern day Juliet who lays down and wishes death upon herself every time her vampire boyfriend leaves her, The Hunger Games focuses on the story of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, an impoverished youth fighting for her family and her life in the ruins of what was once North America. Yeah, she sort of falls in love, or whatever, but that aspect of the story plays second fiddle to the greater, over-arching themes of hope, tragedy, political corruption, and what happens when a society becomes completely engrossed in its own decadence.
And while I won’t see the film until it comes out on March 23, I already know that The Hunger Games will be exponentially better than any movie from the Twilight saga. For one, there’s Jennifer Lawrence; a young actress who is not only incredibly beautiful, but is also a commanding presence on screen, which she proved when she was nominated for an Academy Award at age twenty for Winter’s Bone (an amazing film and performance– get on that if you haven’t yet seen it). Her portrayal of Katniss is already being praised critically, and she is joined in the film by veteran actors such as Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and Stanley Tucci. There is so much more of a world for these actors to create in The Hunger Games; I’m most looking forward to seeing the over-the-top luxury of the Capitol contrasted with the poor, rural wasteland of Katniss’ home of District 12. As Lawrence told the LA Times, “The thing I like about this movie, which is different from many others, is Katniss is focused on survival, focused on a revolution and not focused on who is going to be her boyfriend.”
And while series author Suzanne Collins is no Jonathan Franzen or Jeffrey Eugenides– this is a Young Adult series, you know– The Hunger Games books are fast, addictive reads filled with dynamic characters and an engrossing, revolutionary premise: what happens when the tables are turned on a nation which controls its citizens through fear and death? As someone who falls just a tad above the YA target age group, I didn’t think that I would ever want to read The Hunger Games. Once I did, I didn’t put them down until I had devoured every last word.
Finally, there’s just Katniss Everdeen herself. Would Katniss ever cry for a week– hell, even an hour– over a guy? No way. Would Katniss ever fall for a few cheese-tastic lines delivered by some sparkly stalker that comes through her window at night? Nope. Would Katniss ever be anything less than a strong, resourceful, capable heroine? Not a chance. Yes, she’s a human being– she has her doubts, her fears– but Katniss is a dystopian Joan of Arc for the future.
All of this makes me happy– really happy. For me, the thought of a generation of girls growing up and idolizing the lovesick Bella is worse than the prospect of enduring a real-life version of the 74th Annual Hunger Games. Katniss Everdeen is just the latest in a line of incredible female role models, from Xena the Warrior Princess to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Uma Thurman as The Bride. These are the badass bitches that girls should look up to! t’s now, as an adult, that I thank my lucky stars that I was a little less Cinderella and little more Mulan as a young girl. Katniss is a pop culture phenomenon, and not to mention, a pretty good shot with a bow and arrow. Who wouldn’t want to be her?
Six days and
shvitzing counting. Let the games begin!
IT’S HERE! And so much sooner than anyone expected it! The people behind FX’s brilliant breakout hit of 2011, “American Horror Story,” are already getting us excited by giving us a sneak peak at Season 2 with this 3D poster:
Ryan Murphy said that the clue to Season 2′s location is hidden in the Season 1 episode, “Birth,” but I think that this helps in a pretty major way. It has to be either a hospital or an insane asylum, and either way, it will be eerily awesome. And is it just me, or is there a kind of retro, early 20th century vibe happening? I think that we’ll all miss the Harmons, but I am really looking forward to October.