“Never go to Reno, girls.” – Life Lessons from Troop Beverly Hills

Posted by Sarah and Maggie

When Netflix added Troop Beverly Hills to instant streaming late last year, we immediately organized a group twitter watch and had the time of our lives sharing this movie experience for the first time. And, yes, this movie is FUN but watching it as adults made us realize how many life lessons they snuck into it, somehow without ever crossing that annoying after school special line. Phyllis Nefler is a queen, a fashion icon, and a role model. She and the girls are a team, and teamwork has never looked so enjoyable and so rewarding.

Which makes it all the more baffling that the Girl Scouts objected to this movie. In a special feature on the recently released Blu-ray, Shelley Long explains that the organization was sent a copy of the script, only to report that they wanted nothing to do with the movie and wouldn’t allow use of the Girl Scout name (we personally think “Wilderness Girls” sounds more badass anyway). Sure, Phyllis may not be the woman you automatically think of when you think of a troop leader, but the lessons she teaches the girls in her troop–and the lessons she learns herself–are lessons that any Girl Scout, Wilderness Girl, or human being should keep in their back pocket. Turns out shopping wasn’t Troop 332’s greatest skill after all.

-Sarah and Maggie

“Never go to Reno, girls.”

In the movie, Phyllis follows up this tidbit of advice to the girls at the divorce court hearing with “California property laws can’t be beat.” And yes, it’s practical (if a bit cynical?) advice. But I think the larger lesson to draw here is about self-worth and knowing your value. Phyllis becomes stronger over the course of the movie, but even at the very beginning when she and Freddie are arguing, she tells him not to mock her and states that he never acknowledges her contribution to their marriage. She stands up for herself, even though she’s vulnerable and doubting herself a little. And by the time Freddie tells her he’s proud of her during the check presentation gala in the middle of the movie, she’s grateful for his acknowledgment but I think it’s a more significant moment when she replies that she’s proud of herself too.

As a young woman in the professional world, I know a bit about being underestimated and not being taken as seriously as I should be so I relate pretty hard to Phyllis, who’s faced with this constantly throughout the movie. I think very carefully before I speak because I want people to hear the content of what I’m saying and not have an excuse to write me off as hysterical if I’m not perfectly calm. I have to know my worth and stand up for myself first instead of leaving it up to others to do it for me. There are always going to be people like Freddie who underestimate you or Velda who won’t give you a fair chance. You can’t let them shake you; you have to be confident in yourself and your abilities and carry on and prove them wrong.

-Maggie

“Good for her! Not for me.”

 
The first time I watched this movie after reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, it became glaringly obvious that Troop Beverly Hills is 106 minutes of “Good for her! Not for me.” In six words, Amy brings home an essential concept that Velda should have kept in the back of her mind for occasions like this: There is more than one way of successfully doing things.

Phyllis and the girls are pitted against Velda’s version of a Wilderness Girl for the entire movie, which is ridiculous when you look at Velda’s expectations of a troop leader. In the orientation meeting, she explains, “When we’re looking for new leaders, we’re looking for a real no-nonsense woman, a woman who can cope with anything, a woman who doesn’t cause a ruckus, but can still get the job done.” So let’s go through this checklist, shall we? The troop earns 36 patches in three weeks. Sure, some of them aren’t marking traditional achievements (although Gardening with Glamour should really be a mainstay), but everything the troop did still warranted hard work. They end up selling over four thousand boxes of cookies without going door-to-door, and I’d love for someone to explain to me why celebrating an accomplishment of that magnitude constitutes an embarrassment to the organization, VELDA. They make it to the jamboree and win despite the Red Feathers’ constant cheating AND making time to help an injured Velda get to the finish line. Perhaps most important out of everything, she adapts the teachings of the organization into lessons the girls can use in their everyday lives in Beverly Hills. If that doesn’t flat-out scream “Troop Leader of the Year,” I don’t know what does. Phyllis got the job done; it just wasn’t on Velda’s terms. But her terms are irrelevant, as Beverly Hills becomes the new poster troop.

Sorry, Ms. Plendor. Better luck with Velda’s Avengers. But once you secede from the organization, maybe you should teach your new batch of girls that life isn’t one-size-fits-all, that sacrificing yourself in order to squeeze into another person’s expectations only strips the joy out of success. And then you can commemorate the whole thing with a Good for Her, Not for Me patch.

-Sarah

“Uniforms blur an individual’s sense of self.”

I wore a school uniform from first through eighth grade and it still weirdly influences my sense of style, a full 20 years later. I tend to wear similar outfits every day, I feel anxious when I am over or underdressed, I can’t wear shirts with collars. I was a bridesmaid in September and wearing the same dress and shoes as five other ladies felt so soothing, I can’t even tell you. And sure, we personalized our school uniforms by choosing accessories but no one ever came close to the way Phyllis made her troop leader uniforms her own. I love how she describes everything wrong with the standard uniform to the girls when she tries it on for the first time, only to declare “But all of that can be fixed.” You don’t have to accept what’s given to you as is and you don’t have to let someone else mold you. You can have a great experience as part of a group or team while still being yourself and an individual. Yes, uniforms can blur an individual’s sense of self and the lesson here is not to let them.

-Maggie

“The most important thing is having friends.”

Leave it to Phyllis to hit on something so simple yet so vital. While she’s consoling Emily after learning of her family’s financial problems, Phyllis drops a truth bomb. In the end, material possessions don’t matter nearly as much as the people you choose to have around you. Friends are chosen family. They see you at your worst, help you wipe away your tears, and still love you unconditionally. They put a Tina Turner wig on and sing with you about chocolate chip cookies. They try out new dance moves with you in brightly colored spandex. They throw impromptu birthday parties for you when your parents are in Monte Carlo. They are your rock, your safety net, your level head, and your spontaneity. They make life seem less overwhelming and make sure you are never alone in your hour of need. And, of course, if you need a loan to pay for your patches, they can float you one with little to no interest.

-Sarah

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20 Times the Women of Mad Men Were Better Than Everyone

Posted by Kim

Tonight we say goodbye to Mad Men.  For me, despite the title, the show has ALWAYS been about the women.  It’s been about their struggles to find love, respect, acceptance, and their places in a male dominated society.  They all represent archetypes.  Betty the icy housewife, Trudy the perfect one.  Peggy the career girl.  Joan the bombshell.  But what has been so BRILLIANT about Mad Men is that it peeled back the layers of all these stereotypes and created REAL women with layers and complexity.  None of them are as they seem.  They all yearn for something more than what they have.  And they all had awesome moments throughout the series.  Let’s celebrate some of them, shall we?

1) Joan shows off for the two-way mirror. 

My favorite thing is the “fuck you” expression on her face to all the men she KNOWS are ogling her. As En Vogue would say “Never gonna get it…my lovin’, no you’re never gonna get it”.

2) Peggy Olson, Boss Bitch

I feel like, despite its title and protagonist, Mad Men has ALWAYS been Peggy’s journey.  She’s definitely had the most SATISFYING character arc.  We’ve watched her blossom from a naive girl with zero confidence to a powerful woman who knows what she wants and goes after it. Peggy makes a lot of mistakes but she never lets them break her.  She never takes her eye off the prize.  She IS the person you need to impress right now.

3) Megan sings Zou Bisou Bisou

 
What do you do when your new husband (who you KNOW shocked all his friends by suddenly marrying you) turns 40?  Serenade him in French wearing a SEXY black minidress and fishnets in front of all of his friends, of course!  Megan gives no fucks.

 
May we ALL have Megan Draper’s confidence.

4) Betty and the Gun

Sage and I were talking about this scene last night and she astutely pointed out that it was all about Betty taking back her power.  She KNEW Don was cheating and Don sent her to a shrink to try to convince her she was making it all up.  She did this to remind herself she was anything BUT.

5) Trudy Campbell kicks Pete to the curb. 

 
 
 
 How to Put the Fear of God in a Man 101, taught by Professor Trudy Campbell.

6) Sally demands truth. 

Sally may just be the most together person on the whole show and she has been since she was a little girl.

7) Bobbi Barrett, feminist queen. 

 
For all his flaws, Don Draper had exquisite taste in powerful women that he could never really handle, especially in the early seasons.  I need to get this quote embroidered on a pillow.  Bonus points that Bobbi is played by Melinda McGraw aka Melissa Scully.

 
8) Joan nails the ULTIMATE insult. 

All of the women of Mad Men faced various forms of sexism.  Joan often took the brunt of it because of her body, her confidence, and the fact that she OWNED her sexuality and power as a woman.  She didn’t just own it, she demanded that she be respected BECAUSE of it.

 
So when she was only viewed as a pair of tits by some of the SCDP underlings, she delivered the most blistering and truthful insult you could ever give to someone in the late 60’s.  And she said it with a perfect straight face and even-keeled voice.  Because Joan Holloway Harris raises her voice at no one.

 
 Except idiotic secretaries.  We’ll get to that.

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“Is everyone else’s life this chaotic?” – Orphan Black Recap

Orphan Black Season 3, Episode 4
“Newer Elements of Our Defense” 

Posted by Kayti

Orphan Black embraces the ickiness in Season 3, Episode 4 (“Newer Elements of Our Defense”). Seriously, I spent this entire episode flinching and/or hiding behind my hands. In itself, this is neither a compliment nor an insult — at least from me. I don’t seek out unsettling gore in TV, but I am also not turned off by it. For me, it’s all about how this viscerality is treated, i.e. how it’s being used to tell a larger story and, in that context, Orphan Black gets full marks.

“I know you don’t trust me, but I’m all you got.”

Yay, Mark is alive! And he and Sarah teamed up! And by “teamed up,” I mean Sarah and Mark bonded over DIY surgery — aka Sarah sticking her fingers into Mark’s bullet wound to try to feel the bullet. Though Sarah seems to have some kind of familial sympathy for Mark, she doesn’t do this for nothing either. She barters her steady hands for answers about Helena’s whereabouts. ( This is why Sarah is the most effective clone.)

 
This is the second week in a row where we’ve gotten Sarah leveraging some definition of family to get information out of someone. Last week, it was Gracie and the fact that she was carrying a Leda clone. This week, it’s Mark and the fact that their genetic donors were brother and sister. I mused that this reveal didn’t mean much to me; it largely only affected the narrative in how much it affected these individual Leda and Castor clones. After watching this episode, it seems to mean something to both Mark and Sarah. It kept Sarah from letting Mark die in that cornfield and it kept Mark from letting Rudy kill Sarah in the final moments of the episode. Sure, it looks like now Sarah will be the Castors’ prisoner, but that’s arguably better than being dead — especially at Rudy’s hands.

“Oh my god. Is everyone else’s life this chaotic?”

Last week, I mentioned that I wasn’t sure how long I would enjoy Alison’s story because it was so disconnected from the larger clone plot. I take it back, Orphan Black. Can you ever forgive me for doubting you? Give me more of Alison and Donnie as drug dealers because it is great. This week, the two hit a potential snag when the local drug kingpin contacts them, confiscates their stash, and asks for a meeting. In the kind of genius hyperbolic suburbia twist that Orphan Black is so good at, it turns out that the kingpin is actually Alison’s high school boyfriend.

Jason Kellerman is very impressed with Alison’s marketing skills (soap? genius!). Also, if the long gazes they share are any indication, these two still have some serious chemistry. Also, Alison’s mother gets another mention. We’re ready to meet her now, show.

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“This is sickness.” – Live Writer Commentary on “Dalek” and Enduring Dirt [Contained]’s Easy Laughter

dalek

Posted by Sage

Last week, I had a double dose of English playwright and screenwriter Robert Shearman. First, I sipped on a Twelfth Doctor cocktail while Shearman gave live commentary at The Way Station on his one and only Who episode, series one’s “Dalek.” Then I sat inches from the heavily-trafficked bar cart in the first New York production of his 1992 play, Easy Laughter. With those two pieces of work running around in my brain, I have made one assumption about the man. For being such a congenial gent IRL, Robert Shearman’s sure got a dark side.

"Doctor Who is for kids!"

“Doctor Who is for kids!”

Of course, every monologue and piece of dialogue drops a shade darker when delivered by Chris Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor. In fact, Shearman told us that Chris, who was “extraordinary to work with,” did things with the Doctor’s private encounter with the Dalek that the writer never expected. Eccles performed the scene in a “very non-Doctorish way,” which initially horrified Shearman – and then he saw the final product. (Fun fact for all you censorship heads: “Dalek” carries a higher advisory rating than the other episodes in the season because the Doctor purposely tortures the captive Dalek.) Shearman described Eccles as an actor without vanity, remembering that he insisted a take where his forceful delivery generated a pretty gross spit bubble that stayed on his lip not be reshot.

Shearman has the unique honor of being the writer who introduced the Daleks to a modern audience. Obviously, he felt the pressure of the job. “This is the only Doctor Who episode I don’t consider to be canon,” he told us. “Because I know I made it up.” Even watching the full episode that day was an unusual experience for him. He finds it difficult to go back to his own work, and guessed he hadn’t seen “Dalek” in its entirety in almost ten years. (I asked him about Series 8’s “Into the Dalek” and he said he was surprised and flattered that his episode was well-regarded enough to merit a bit of a sequel.) But from the moment the episode kicked off, it was clear that the writer remembered every moment of the process just fine. Even which actors shared their sandwiches (those were his favorites) and which extra broke his confidentiality agreement by selling photos of the updated creatures to a salivating British tabloid press.

dalek van statten

Fans have Shearman’s wife to thank for his characterization of the Daleks, especially that “oh shit” moment when one levitates up a flight of stairs. He did his best in his episode to address all the reasons she found the monsters a bit lame; to thank her, the no-nonsense Goddard took her name. Even more adorably, Bywater’s namesake is a schoolmate of Shearman’s, who introduced the writer to the show when they were just 11 years old. Aw.

In the Q&A session, Shearman went on to discuss the mascot-like nature of the modern-day Dalek. Its image has been used to sell practically everything: stuffed toys, salt & pepper shakers, the “I Dalek London” shirt I wore to the bar that day. And that’s disturbing, considering the villains were developed in 1963 to represent the fascist force that held the world in its grasp not two decades before. The Daleks are Nazis. They wield plungers and talk in funny voices, but that doesn’t change their hateful insides.

Easy Laughter Press

Courtesy of Dirt [Contained]

In Easy Laughter, produced by Dirt [Contained] Theatre Company, Shearman imagines a grotesque future where these ideas have fully taken hold. We meet a wholesome nuclear family unit, who’ve stepped right out of ’50s sitcom: wife Patsy (Maria Swisher), husband Dennis (Michael Broadhurst), son Toby (Jay William Thomas) and daughter Judy (Tana Sirois). Their interactions are both irritatingly effusive and worryingly robotic as they prepare for a holiday that resembles Christmas, but only just. The audience surrounds the action on three sides, the open fourth of the stage housing what we learn is the Christtide tree. As I mentioned earlier, my friends and I were sitting directly behind the bar cart, which was a popular spot as everyone from dad down on to the kids imbibes whiskey heavily throughout the play. I could’ve used a drink myself.

Easy Laughter is an unflinching, pitch-black satire. The horrifying history that made this family what they are unfolds throughout the play, but it takes no exposition to know from the very beginning that something is deeply, deeply wrong here. Patsy is almost vibrating with fear as she waits on her husband, children, and eventually, her visiting father-in-law (Nick Dematteo). Dennis takes confusing pride in being a glorified pencil-pusher; he’s the head of the family unit anyway, as his constant jabs and chastisements remind his wife. But he’s slowly being supplanted by his own son, a Rolf-looking motherfucker whose rosy cheeks and ridiculous short-pants can’t disguise his pulsating ambition and razor-sharp meanness. Little Judy still takes joy in the magic of Christtide and the celebrated miracle whose eventual reveal sent half of my audience into tears of revulsion and shock. Underneath their hearty apologies and compliments (“Thank you very much, indeed.”), the family looks like they’ll begin tearing each other apart at any moment. When the shared values are so in-human, even your loved ones are your enemies.

Shearman wrote the play as a student, and that makes so much sense to me. Easy Laughter goes hard; the idea is executed to extremes. It feels immediate. Subtlety is for the grown-ups, but we idealists don’t have time to fuck around. It’s an audience assault. The Dirt [Contained] production (the play’s first New York staging) fully commits, as do the actors. I was exhausted for them by the end of the piece; that kind of sustained mania has to be depleting, not to mention their very inhabiting of such a monstrous universe. Tana Sirois especially stood out. Casting adults as children doesn’t always work out (though Clifford holds a special place in my heart), but I nearly forgot that Sirois wasn’t actually 8-years-old. Stephen Massaro’s direction uses the space nicely, making the audience looking in on the Simpson family holiday about as uncomfortable as we could be. (Thanks, man.)  After the well-earned but subdued bows, we filed out of the theater, barely looking at each other the whole way.

Easy Laughter ended its run, but you can still support by voting for the production in the New York Innovative Theatre Awards. 

“God, is this all we are?” – Orphan Black Recap

Orphan Black Season 3, Episode 3
“Formalized, Complex, and Costly” 

Posted by Kayti

Orphan Black stepped up the Castor clone narrative in Season 3, Episode 3 (“Formalized, Complex, and Costly”), but at what seems to be the cost of Mark’s life. For those keeping track at home, this is the second subsequent episode that a Castor clone was killed. Not cool, Orphan Black. Not cool….

“Please, I love her.” “Not like her mother.”

OK, Mark better be alive! I mean, it wouldn’t be the end of the TV universe or anything if he died, but I am still on the fence about the inclusion of the Castor clones on this series and Mark’s character goes a long way to quelling those fears. Are the Castor clones an unnecessary distraction from the characters and storylines we really care about? Or, conversely, are the clones’ inclusion an exciting, compelling expansion of this fictional world that will pay narrative dividends in the long run? For me, Mark goes a long way towards bridging those two possibilities. He is the Castor clone we have known the longest and arguably the most sympathetic of the lot — at least so far. It is telling that, when Helena meets the other Castor clones, she (awesomely) calls them the “Mark-faced boys.” At first, this is how I saw them, too. Mark is the Sarah of the Castor clones, our way in as a viewer. Sure, he has his flaws (like, a lot of them that sometimes involve torturing farmers to death accidentally), but we still have some kind of connection to him.

I also kind of found myself rooting for the messed up love story between Mark and Gracie just a little bit.

 
At the very least, Mark seems a better option for Gracie’s confidante than her mother. Gracie’s mom is the worst, right? We got to know her last season as the mother who had no problem sewing Gracie’s mouth shut as punishment. This week, she admits to having had reservations about her husband using his own daughter as a surrogate for his baby with another woman (i.e. Helena), but she did nothing to stop it. After last week’s review diatribe about the diverse portrayal of motherhood on this show, I am very OK with Gracie’s mom being terrible. Because there are some IRL terrible moms out there (because moms, too, are people and people are sometimes selfish and horrible). A mother’s relationships with her kids can be destructive and unhealthy, and it’s cool to see Orphan Black include that in its complex spectrum of motherhood.

Anyway, back to Mark. We didn’t actually see him die, so I am still holding out hope that he pops up out of that cornfield in the next episode, joins forces with the Leda clones, and becomes a force to be reckoned with. Then, when he probably eventually dies, at least it will be after his character has had more of a chance to develop and after we’ve made a (fingers crossed) successful transition into this Castor clone-included world. Sure, it will hurt more, but my disappointment over the potential death of this character in this episode was partially informed by the slight affection I have for him, but mostly informed by my belief that his character is a relative linchpin within the context of this narrative.

“The last thing we need is another violent mess.”

However, if I had to choose between keeping Mark or Gracie around, I would choose Gracie. She has a been surprising, strong-willed character ever since we first met her in Season 2. It will be interesting to see if her perspective on the abominations has changed since Helena helped her escape in Season 2, she became impregnating with a clone child, and she inadvertently married a Castor clone. Gracie showed some badass moves in this episode, taking charge and finding a way to retrieve the information from her father’s old friend. If only her independence had lasted through her interaction with her mother. It’s understandable that Gracie would fess up to her mom, especially given the clone bombshell Sarah just dropped on her. But, again, I really don’t want Mark to be dead. I was also intrigued by Sarah’s mention of Gracie as family.

 
Sure, I think it was mainly a manipulation on Sarah’s part to get Gracie to tell her what she wanted to know, but Sarah doesn’t throw the “f” word around without weight. Could Gracie end up joining The Clone Club? Because that would be awesome. It’s little scenes and unexpected interactions like this one that make Orphan Black stand out.

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Avengers: Age of Ultron – A Comprehensive List of the Times We Overreacted

avengers leap

Posted by Sage

Summer movie season, YOU ARE WELCOME HERE.

Nothing feels quite so decadent as spending a blistering summer day in the treasured air conditioning of a movie theater, sipping that giant Diet Coke I only allow myself on such occasions, and watching good-looking people kick ass and/or fall in love. Months of that practice were kicked off last week with the release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel’s much anticipated sequel to the 2012 original. Did we overreact to it like the slavish fangirls that we are? Would Jeremy Renner call your grandmother a “slut” without batting an eye? Of course we did!

ZOMG, Star Wars trailer!

star wars chewie we're home

Kim grasped my hand and we both let out a restrained squeal when the Lucasfilm logo materialized on screen. The guy sitting to the other side of us: “I like your style.” That’s good, buddy, ’cause you’re in for two plus more hours of the same.

ZOMG x 2, Jurassic Park trailer!

chris pratt jurassic park

The Jurassic Park trailer is 10% Bryce Dallas Howard’s bob; 10% dinosaurs and stuff; and 80% Chris Pratt’s cleavage in that henley. I appreciate it when films are marketed just for me.

Language.”

captain america son just don't

ANYWAY: Age of Ultron. As those of us who stuck with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. know, that week’s episode gave us a nice lead in to this movie, with Cobie Smulders making a cameo and Coulson directing her to call in the Avengers. We meet up with those guys almost immediately after. They’re on a mission to retrieve Loki’s scepter from a Hydra base in the (fake) Eastern European country of Sokovia. (LOKI, I MISS YOU. HOW’S ASGARD? DO THEY KNOW YOU’RE ODIN YET? SEND ME A POSTCARD.)

In the midst of the battle, Steve tries to banter along with his team and ends up saddled with the burn that never goes away. Stick to what you know, Steve: patriotism, ultimate disc, and looking great in pants. Ilu so much.

Nat and Bruce is totally a thing.

hulk widow

OKAY. You wanna get into this? We can get into this.

Of course, I shipped Widow and Hawkeye in the first movie and all the way through Winter Soldier. I’m not (wait for it) a monster. But as soon as Bruce and Nat started to show itself, I got it. People have opinions about this, which is fine, though they would be better expressed with the death threats edited out. I could write a whole post about why this ship made sense to me and why it didn’t diminish Natasha at all in my eyes. But I’ll try to keep it brief.

I watched Agent Carter. I’ve seen what the average graduate of the Black Widow Program looks like. Devoid of emotion; no loyalty to anything but the mission; with no higher aspirations for herself beyond getting the job done and (hopefully) dying in battle. Nat’s ability to fight and lie is in her bones. That was beaten into her. But her LIFE – her friendships, her desires, her capacity to connect with anything is WELL FOUGHT FOR. The fact that Natasha has a deep emotional life is her victory over the horrors of her childhood. It only cheapens or lessens her if you think that experiencing feelings is cheap and less than.

And as feminist, humanitarian, and haver of great hair Mark Ruffalo expressed to a disgruntled fan on Twitter: Bruce is the love interest. Natasha pursues him and rescues him. Maybe it’s not a perfect one-to-one mirror of the damseling that’s plagued superhero movies forever, but it is well-intentioned. Clearly, Nat would fall for Bruce, the guy who takes no joy in battle. She hates the part of herself that enjoys it. No matter how much we love to see Black Widow lay some suckers out, we have to remember that she had no choice in the matter. Her agency was taken from her long ago. Anyway, are we going to fault her for being attracted to a gorgeous, wounded genius with a gentle soul? Get outta here.

No, but really: it’s adorable.

brutasha age of ultron

Give into it. Let the Brutasha wash over you. Look at these nerds. I hate them.

mark ruffalo scarjo

“He’s fast and she’s weird.”

scarlet witch avengers

With a fuck-ton of characters in the mix, the Maximof twins weren’t actually afforded much screentime. But they were very sweet together, and, like a lot of people on this planet, have a valid reason to loathe Tony Stark. We can all agree that Scarlet Witch was cooler of the two, especially since X-Men: Days of Future Past kind of blew the wad on Quicksilver. Aaron Taylor-Johnson didn’t get to do anything as rad as that “Time in a Bottle” sequence.

avengers quicksilver

The Secret Life of the American Clint Barton

clint it's a trick

Dry your eyes, Clintasha shippers. I know it hurts, but didn’t we LEARN a lot about Clint Barton here today? I love the characterization of Hawkeye as a serviceman going off to war. (He already has an appropriately military-sounding nickname, no?) He’s the only Avenger with a traditional family unit. It doesn’t make him more heroic than the rest by any means, but it does bring up themes of duty and sacrifice that don’t weigh as much on, say, a god or a scientifically-enhanced super-soldier. Also, I fucking love Linda Cardellini. She should be in everything.

Aunt Nat. Hold me.

avengers nathaniel

traitor avengers

Again: CHARACTER. Natasha was forcibly sterilized by Julie Delpy (JULIE, HOW COULD YOU), and yet she can open her heart enough to become Aunt Nat to Clint’s children. My Clintasha feelings easily transferred to the bro-iest of BroTPs, (“My best friend is alive because of you.”) and I’m just so glad that Black Widow is family enough to know that the Bartons always eat in the kitchen.

I still want to know what happened in Budapest though.

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“You’re gonna be okay.” – Orphan Black Recap

 
Orphan Black Season 3, Episode 2
“Transitory Sacrifices of Crises”
Posted by Kayti

Can we take a minute to talk about Orphan Black’s badass, nuanced, complex depiction of motherhood? Thanks. This feminist drama has always been a refreshing, revolutionary representation of what it means to be a mother on TV (i.e. you can be a mother and still get to be, you know, a person), but Season 3 is stepping it up with its diverse depictions of motherhood. Season 3, Episode 2 “Transitory Sacrifices of Crises” doubled down on this theme, showing us motherhood in some of its many forms…

Sarah is allowed to be both a mother and a badass protagonist. In this week’s episode, Sarah ultimately sends Kira away with father Cal so that she will be safe while she stays behind to a) get Helena back from the Castor clones, b) take down Dyad, and c) be a badass protagonist.

It is so, so heartbreaking to watch Sarah say goodbye to her daughter, the most important thing in the world to her, but — in watching this scene — I couldn’t stop obsessing about how great and rare it is to see a mother as the chief protagonist of a show, let alone a representation of a mother as badass as Sarah Manning.

 
 
Sarah’s decision to send Kira away is a storyline you almost always see told with the opposite gender roles: i.e. the father as protector stays behind to fight the evil men/corporation/whatever, while the mother as caregiver hides with the child. Like many tropes, there isn’t anything inherently wrong with this scenario — caregiving is an important, heroic role. It’s when the trope becomes an all-consuming pattern, the only conflated representation of a specific type (in this case: mother) to move through the world, that it becomes problematic. Orphan Black just straight up refuses to reinforce this strict gender narrative, allowing Sarah to be both the mother and the hero, both the caregiver and the protector.

This is kind of amazing because, forget badass action hero, women on television hardly ever get to be both a mother and the freaking protagonist. In Orphan Black, however, motherhood isn’t something that weakens or sidelines Sarah. On the contrary, she is all the stronger for it. Furthermore, she is allowed to have identities outside of her role as mother and not be judged for them. She is allowed to sometimes make mistakes as a mom and not be narratively punished because she is a complex, flawed human being who is just trying her best in a crazy, messed up situation. You know, just like action hero fathers are portrayed. All. The. Time.

 
I’m sure (read: hope) there are other TV examples of mother characters allowed to have action-oriented identities outside of their roles as mother, while still being portrayed as a good mother, but the only ones that come to mind right now are Farscape’s Aeryn Sun and The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ Sarah Connor.

Man, do I ever want these three fictional characters to start a support group. Except none of them would ever go. A drinks night, maybe? They can drink Bourbon and polish their guns and trade stories about their scars — some of which have been earned in battle, and some of which have been earned through the ordinary, mundane realities of motherhood. Make it happen, Internet.

 

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From Rowan With Love – Scandal Gif-Cap

scandal hope you don't

Scandal Season 4, Episode 20
“First Lady Sings The Blues”
Posted by Sage

Nothing like the exquisite chaos of the last few episodes of a Scandal season. Let’s get straight to the gifs.

Quinn comes into the OPA office early morning, turns on the lights, puts on the coffee, and sees Jake bleeding out. “Oh, they got you. Oh, I let them get you.” WELL, that’s one way to open an episode.

worst thing parks

“Still warm.” “Warm enough?” Huck slams Jake on the chest without warning. He wakes up. JAKE BALLARD IS GONNA LIVE FOREVER.

broad city omg yes

“If Jake goes to a hospital, a digital trail is created.”  Dirty warehouse, it is!

minority report

“It’s coming, it’s all coming. You guys called me ten minutes ago!” Charlie provides a safe house and a sketchy mob doctor. Charlie’s a genuine part of the team now, which is weird but not unpleasant.

doctor who got a gang

“Mrs. Grant, you already have a job.” Mellie is starting her campaign for Senator in Virginia and the sexist bullshit has already begun pouring in.

stay out of it nick

“How deeply insulting – not just to our intelligence, to the people of Virginia. And to all the gracious and patriotic first ladies who quietly and proudly served our great nation before her.” Sally Langston is running her mouth and someone’s gotta put a stop to it.

girlfriends female fight club

Also, remember when First Ladies had cute nicknames like “Ladybird”? Can we bring that back?

“Somebody always dying.” So, sketchy mob doctor = not exactly a cheery gig.

grim reaper ahs

“Pretty lady looks familiar.” The doctor tries to talk about Olivia in front of her. Olivia schools him by responding in fluent Russian.

chris evans smack

louis peasants

“You help my friend, I help yours.” Sketchy Mob Doctor is tight with a Russian assassin who Olivia and others presumed dead. Black Sable is her code name. Also a really nice defining shade for a classic smokey eye.

help me help you jerry

“Now you, scared man with glasses…” Will can always answer to that.

broad city baked a whole cake

“These days it’s Mary…Mary Peterson. Come on in, I just baked cookies.” Olivia and Huck find Black Sable, but she’s not exactly the kind of woman they were expecting.

hobbit right house

“Growing up, we were poor. Not American poor. My little brother starved to death because we didn’t have any food: Russian poor.”

haunted mine snl

“Why would I say no to that? It was the greatest thing that every happened to me.” Mary became an assassin out of necessity. It pulled her out of poverty, even though she never saw her family again.

belle snl

“The people telling me who to kill stopped telling me who to kill.” But why didn’t she go to like, Fiji or something? Escape to Washington DC? Be the FBI’s next-door neighbor? Great plan, Nana. REAL GREAT. 

loki tell me

“Putin’s hit the re-start button.” It’s on this puppy.

putin puppy

Mary’s been contacted about a job. She doesn’t know what it is, but she fears for her life if she doesn’t do it.

Sally has gotten the nation all riled up about Mellie’s run. Now they think there’s a conflict of interest because Mellie is “sleeping with the president.” Heeeeyyyyy.

best song ever harry zayn

Except the only thing more frigid than Fitz and Mellie’s marriage was my dead, black heart before I discovered Harry Styles.

“First Lady is not a job, it’s a title.” Can’t be accurately called a job if this is what you do all day:

first lady eat your vegetables

“I wanna hear what Abby has to say.”

bitch me too

“You need to distance yourself from your husband.” I’m listening.

first lady dancing

“So, Mellie Grant’s run for Senate is legal because of misogyny. In this instance, misogyny is our friend.” Abby calls David to find out if the haters have a point. In this case, the haters are our friends.

gaston women reading

“Quinn, we need blood.” Quinn ties up some techs and raids a blood bank for Jake. Aw, guys. We got some real camaraderie happening happening over here.

fringe cotton candy

David is giving a phone interview with the talking head show while overseeing the warehouse with Jake. Huck watches Mary’s handler make the drop.

pretty serious

“Blood!” “Blood?”

blood shining

“Ballard has been eliminated.” “Untrue.” Rowan, is Mycroft aware that you’re boring the Diogenes Club?

diogenes club

“Then find him, and cut the thread.” Fly, my pretties.

hercules thread won't cut

“You’ll get busy and use my body in any way you want, however many times that you want. Conversation optional.” Russell booty calls Olivia in an attempt to keep her on the line and trace her phone. I hate it when that happens. Men, amirite?

fist me orphan black

“Does she buy meat here?” Mary’s handler is a butcher. Olivia goes to his place of business to intimidate him, but he’s got jokes.

it crowd motherflippin

“Some people have bark, some people have bite, I have both.”

new girl celebrate me

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