Tomorrow marks one month since my surgery. One month is a lot of time for someone who mostly just gets to watch TV. For the first couple of weeks of recovery, I didn't have the focus or energy for much other than TV. But good news for you: I've kept up with most of what I've watched, so you can learn what's worth watching & what isn't!
Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, & Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
This was a fun read. Not the best thing I've ever read, but entertaining. Lauren Graham has led a very interesting life, & she tells a variety of stories throughout this book. At first I was confused, because the chapters seem disjointed, but I later saw this described as a "collection of essays," which makes a bit more sense. Although it was interesting, there were times when I felt that she tried too hard to be funny, or times when I wasn't sure why she included certain stories (or even chapters). Overall, though, I enjoyed revisiting Gilmore Girls & Parenthood through Lauren Graham's eyes, if only for a few pages.
The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino
This is the story of Chip & Joanna Gaines, who started the Fixer Upper TV series & the Magnolia Market in Waco, TX. It's cute because it tells stories from both of their perspectives. I'm not quite finished with this one yet, but it goes through all kinds of things from their relationship - dating, engagement, the wedding, starting their business, starting the show, etc. & has a lot of interesting backstory for fans of the show!
Trashy reality TV at its finest. There's not much more to say, except that I want to go to all three of the Vanderpumps' restaurants someday. I had finished most of the show before surgery, but finished the last few episodes afterwards.
Everyone has been raving about this show, so I decided to give it a shot, & (...brace yourselves...) I really wasn't impressed. Annie was fun, but I didn't like Sophia at all, or most of the other main characters. I watched the entire season, waiting for the big turnaround, but it stayed pretty solid the whole way through. I think I laughed twice during the whole thing. So if you like it, that's awesome & great, & props to all the girl bosses out there, but this show just wasn't for me.
Master of None
After getting recommendations from both Whitney & Kiefer, I decided to check this out. I love Aziz Ansari, but was a little nervous to watch this (I sometimes find that comedians aren't as funny when they try to write multiple characters or do TV shows). I will say... The pilot is my favorite episode (I watched it twice!), but the rest of the show was still enjoyable. He definitely pulled a lot from his stand-up & even from his book, Modern Romance, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I like that he used his real life influences, & even included his real family members. It made things seem relate-able... (Spell check is not liking that word). There were a couple of episodes that I could have done without because they were pointless to the plot, but even those were interesting & had some good character development. I will also say there were a LOT of characters in this show. Like almost Game of Thrones level, but probably not really. Apparently Dev/Aziz has way more friends than me & is way more involved in their families' lives than I am.
The Crazy Ones
I had watched most of this show already pre-surgery (it's only one season), but finished the final few episodes. It's a light-hearted comedy about the advertising agency, & focuses on Robin Williams' character, Simon, & his daughter, Sydney, who is played by Sarah Michelle Gellar. Although I hate watching shows that have characters with my name, this one is fun, & I enjoyed it. I especially love the character of Lauren (played by Amanda Setton, one of Blair Waldorf's minions from GG who went on to bigger & better things apparently). But this show was also one of Robin Williams' last projects, & I couldn't help but wonder what his mindset was like while he worked on this. It's sad to think about all of the struggles going on in others' lives that we have no idea about.
World of Dance
I love dance shows. I have watched almost all of them, I think (I skip out on Dancing with the Stars). So when I saw that World of Dance was coming, I got really excited. But honestly, I've been slightly disappointed. Granted, there have only been three episodes so far, but there are so many commercials, they only show about 6 dancers per episode. & they only show really great ones for the most part, so we see 5 amazing dancers, & 1 who doesn't make it. I like seeing the actual audition process, hearing the judges' comments, etc., & I like seeing more than one dancer per commercial break. Also, I love Jenna Dewan Tatum, & I was so excited to hear that she was the host, but she mostly just says, "woo" a lot. Plus, it's weird to me to have world-renown dancers who have already won major competitions (like Jabbawockeez & Super Cr3w) competing with people who are new to competitions. Like children. It doesn't really seem fair. But I'm hoping things only get better from here.
I haven't watched The Bachelor since the Jason/Molly/Melissa season because the whole thing made me so angry. That's actually the only season I've ever watched. But again, I'm stuck at home, & it's pretty uneventful around here. So when the Bachelorette popped up on my Hulu suggestions, I figured that would at least give me something to talk about with everyone I know that watches it. Which is most of the people I talk to. I'll try not to give away much in case anyone isn't watching yet but I'll say there are a couple of...
I think my favorite is Kenny so far, but there have only been a couple of episodes, so that could change. There are several guys that I still know nothing about, but several I have major issues with. Is it just me, or do some of the contestants look a lot alike? I struggle to tell Blake E. & Brady apart... Alex & Bryce... Jamey & Jack Stone... When they're all close up, I can tell the difference, but more than a few feet away, & I have no idea. On the subject of Jack Stone... Why do we call him Jack Stone? There's no other Jack there. Is that his first name? Like Jack Stone Smith or something? Adam should have been sent home the second he got out of the limo with that doll. Nope, nope, nope. I'm not big on gimmicks, so 99% of those guys would have been gone right out of the limo for me, but Adam for sure. Diggy said in the first episode that he had something like 500 pairs of shoes. If we assume he only spent $40/pair (which, let's be honest, it was way more than that), that's $20,000. On shoes. Plus all his clothes & accessories & whatever. I'll pass. I think the most important thing though is that Jonathan HAS GOT TO STOP TICKLING HER IT'S WEIRD JONATHAN GO HOME.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I'm really not crazy about this show. I watched the first two seasons a while back when everyone was raving about it, & only watched the third out of boredom. Best part was Daveed Diggs. I feel like there were way too many Titus songs in this season, & I'd be okay if we never saw Mimi again. Or Lillian, honestly. Mostly I watch for Jacqueline & Xan.
13 Reasons Why
I had watched the first 11 episodes pre-surgery, but couldn't motivate myself to finish. I know everyone has been talking this series up, but honestly, I was disappointed. I couldn't contain my rant to a small paragraph, so I wrote a separate post here.
America's Next Top Model
I've been watching old seasons of ANTM & my vocabulary has expanded so much. It now includes words like "booch," "tooch," & "flawsome."
I saw this movie in theaters back in 2009, but hadn't watched it since. It was my first 3-D movie to ever see, & I remember really enjoying it & thinking it was beautiful. But then for some reason I never watched it again, so I guess I didn't enjoy it THAT much. With all of the ads & photos of Disney World's new Pandora park everywhere, I decided to watch it again. I actually did enjoy it quite a bit. There's a good story line, & it is a beautiful movie. It annoyed me a bit that Sam Worthington's accent fluctuated so much, but I was happy to make the connection that Zoe Saldana was Neytiri. I really enjoyed her as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, but hadn't realized she was in Avatar since it had been so long since I watched. I guess she just likes playing brightly-colored aliens.
This movie was a bit of a surprise to me. I think I found it on one of those "best things on Netflix" lists & added it to my queue (is it still called a queue?) & forgot about it for a while before deciding to give it a chance. I love the scary movie/suspense/psychological thriller genre, but it's so hard to find good ones. I'm really good at guessing the endings, & I don't like needless gore, so most of them end up being duds. This one actually kept me guessing. My only big complaint is that I'm still not 100% sure where Claire ended up...
Secret Life of Pets
Laker & I really enjoy animated kids movies, so we had been meaning to watch this one for a while. It was cute, but not the best one we've ever seen. Seeing all of the different animal personalities was fun - We were quick to point out things that Lily & Padfoot do ALL. THE. TIME. My favorite was Gidget, mostly because I love Jenny Slate.
That bit at the beginning where the lawyer falls walking over the rocks is either the greatest acting ever, or he really fell & they just kept going & kept it in the final cut. Either way, I love it. I've also been missing Universal Studios a lot lately, & this is feeding that craving. Obviously this is pretty much a classic, & I can't say anything bad about it or Cary & Ethan (& probably my mom) will disown me. There really isn't a lot of negative to add anyway, but I will say that I blame Jurassic Park in part for my unrealistic expectations about the huge size of dinosaurs. I remember being disappointed that Sue - the largest, most extensive T-Rex skeleton ever found - wasn't as big as movies made the T-Rex seem.
My brother had been trying to get me to watch this for ages, & I finally got around to it. I'm not one for chick flicks, so it never appealed to me, but this isn't just a typical rom-com. The humor is dark, interesting, slightly inappropriate, & actually funny, & I loved it. Plus, as soon as it was revealed that Natalie Portman's character had a medical condition, I assumed the movie would take a dark turn, but - here's a huge shocker & semi-spoiler - unlike most movies out there, her medical condition did not control the plot. & as someone with a lot of medical conditions, I truly appreciated that. Good job, Zack Braff. Side note: When I told my brother I finally watched this, he had no memory of recommending it & said he didn't really remember the movie much. Oops.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
I actually loved this movie. I am a huge Colin Firth fan, & I've wanted to see this since I saw the trailers. Laker isn't really into action movies though, so it was never at the top of our list. My mom gave me a big stack of movies to borrow, though, & this was included. Highly inappropriate in so many scenes, but so so funny. The whole cast was incredible, as was the ending scene. Now I can't wait for the sequel to come out in September. I also feel like a Gazelle cosplay would be awesome. Anyone know how to make me some boots that look like her legs?
Lara Croft: Tomb Raider
I don't think I'm going to win anyone over with this one. While a Lara Croft cosplay would also be fun, & is a classic cosplay, I feel like the movie was a bit cheesy for me. It's one of those plots that has been done a million times with slight variations, & this just wasn't my favorite of the bunch. I'm also pretty sure the Illuminati was meeting in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, & that Jorah Mormont looks better with red hair.
Pleasantly surprised by this one. Whitney recommended this to me, but I was still a bit skeptical since she likes chick flicks a lot more than I do. However, since it had Mark Ruffalo & Keira Knightley, I was willing to give it a chance. & when it opened up with James Corden, I knew it was going to be a winner. Then Adam Levine showed up, & it was confirmed. It wasn't the best movie in the entire world, but it was cute. I was also surprised to learn that Keira Knightley did her own singing (I didn't think it was her voice). So good for her. The ending was weirdly abrupt, but the final song & the ending credits scene were really good, so... balance, I guess?
Playing It Cool
This was another recommendation from Whitney, & all she had to do to get me to watch was tell me Aubrey Plaza was in it. The movie was cute - I don't really like stories about guys trying to steal away girls who are in relationships (or vice versa), but the flirtation was cute, & I liked all the re-enacting of the scenes with Chris Evans in them. & Aubrey Plaza was fantastic, as usual.
Viva Las Vegas
This was a fun movie. I had to ignore some blatant sexism throughout, but I have a slight crush on Elvis, so all of his songs made me a little more forgiving. Plus the dance scene was the greatest. The ending just kind of happens, without much explanation as to how everything gets resolved, but I wasn't really watching with the expectation of an A+ plot anyway.
This movie is about three popular girls at a high school fighting over the first "out" gay guy at their high school so he'll be their gay best friend (G.B.F.). This was a super cheesy, stereotypical, high school chick flick, but it had my homegurls Sasha Pieterse, JoJo, & Evanna Lynch in it, & there were a lot of over-the-top puns, so I (barely) made it through. Although it was hard to watch Evanna Lynch be a hateful, homophobic high schooler.
Can't Buy Me Love
This is kind of a classic chick flick. I've been in the mood for chick flicks lately I guess. Honestly, I was kind of frustrated most of the time at how much of a jerk Patrick Dempsey's character was being that I didn't really care if he ended up happy, but I guess he learned his lesson in the end (Is it considered a spoiler at this point? I mean, I hadn't seen it, but it's a chick flick, so we all knew what was coming). Also, Amanda Peterson is gorgeous & it's so sad that she passed away so young.
Anya Taylor-Joy is gorgeous & she reminds me of Dylan Gelula (Xanthippe on Kimmy Schmidt - I actually thought they were the same person at first). This was a good movie. I won't say too much to avoid spoilers, but I feel like the final scene should have been a post-credits scene. Also, the most unrealistic part is when one of the characters gets their leg cut open & the EMT lets them keeps their sock on to get it stitched up. That would never happen. I also forgot to watch a certain movie beforehand that my brother recommended, which could clarify some things, & forgot until it was over. I guess I'll get to that later.
Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List
Another stereotypical high school chick flick. This one is about a girl & her gay best friend who fall for the same guy. Pierson Fode is one of the main characters & he looks a lot like Armie Hammer. I don't have any real opinions on the movie, other than that. All of these movies about gay best friends did make me reminisce about all of the gay best friends I've had in my lifetime. So many fun memories with great people... & thankfully we've never gone for the same guys.
Hello, My Name is Doris
This is a cute movie about an older woman who falls for her hot young coworker who happens to be Schmidt from New Girl. They form a friendship & go see Bleachers (one of my favorite bands) in concert, although under a different name, & it shows how he kind of breaks her out of her shell & she teaches him new things, too.
I left the house, guys! My mom & I went to go see Wonder Woman, & we loved it. This was really cool for me for several reasons. My mom is the one who got me into sci-fi, superheroes, & fantasy, & broke that stereotype that those things are for boys. Also, I always think of my mom as Wonder Woman, because she has always taught me & my sisters that we can do whatever we want, & there are no limits on us because of gender or anything else - But also because she leads by example, & got her doctorate while working full time & raising four kids. I also loved the movie because it was actually a good movie. It wasn't over-sexualized, & she didn't need a male superhero to save the day. Instead, it was funny, subtle, had a plot, & had a real, female hero. It wasn't a perfect movie, but it was a very good movie!
My mom loves Star Trek, & I really wanted to love it too. I just couldn't get into this movie. The Vulcans were really the only interesting part to me. I would probably watch a Vulcan movie.
This is another one my mom sent over in a big stack of DVDs for me. It's one from the 1980s with Michelle Pfeiffer & Matthew Broderick (pre-Ferris Bueller), & it's about a man who turns into a wolf at night, & a woman who turns into a hawk during the day. They're in love, but only get to see each other in human form during a split second between transformations. Matthew Broderick's character is accompanying them on a journey. I found this one a bit hard to follow, & at one point I thought it had ended, but looked up ten minutes later & realized it was still playing. Oops. Also, Broderick's accent fluctuates so much, it's a bit distracting.
Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust
I know Sarah Silverman is controversial, but I love her. I could do without her religious jokes & a few of her others, but I enjoy her comedic style & like that she's just blunt & says what she's thinking. She has a fun way of observing things that always keeps you wondering what she'll say next.
Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King
This was funny, but I watched it right after Sarah Silverman's, which I personally thought was funnier. Minhaj has more of a storytelling style, & had me laughing several times, but he also mostly discussed race. If you're unaware, racism is something that just infuriates me, so instead of finding his stories of experiencing racism to be funny, they kind of just made me mad. He had a way of injecting humor into more heartfelt experiences, which was entertaining, but it wasn't straight comedy all the way through.
I watched the first 11 episodes of 13 Reasons Why, & could not motivate myself to finish. So many things just truly bothered me.
I will say that I have read the book twice, & that I recently graduated with my Master's degree in Counseling Psychology. So while I am no expert, I tried to go into the show without unrealistic goals, but I did have some hopes & expectations of what it would be.
However, after those first 11 episodes, I was disappointed. & after finally finishing the last 2 episodes last night, I am even more disappointed. & after reading now that there has been a "copycat" suicide based on the show, I am sick to my stomach. Here is my reasoning (Lots of spoilers ahead):
1. No matter what they all did, none of them killed Hannah.
In one episode, Clay asks if, based on what he had heard, Tony thought that Clay had killed Hannah. Tony tries to shrug it off & say they all could have done more to help, but eventually says, that yes, Clay killed her. This, to me, is not okay. First of all, Clay didn't even do anything to Hannah. But second, no matter what any of those kids did, no matter no horrible, NONE of them killed Hannah. Hannah killed herself. It's the same for any person who commits suicide. It is no one's fault. It is a horrible tragedy & an awful thing, but to blame someone else does not help anyone.
2. They did not need to show her suicide.
They showed her suicide in a somewhat graphic manner. I couldn't even watch. Who does that help, to watch a girl slit her wrists in a bathtub? I highly doubt it helps anyone struggling with self-harm, or suicidal thoughts, or the loss of a friend or family member, to have such a graphic visual.
3. They did not need to show her rape.
Again, I can't imagine a victim of rape or sexual assault, or their family and friends, being thankful to have seen that. I feel like they could have gotten the point across with less being shown.
4. The "added drama" took away from the point.
Speaking of less, in the book, "less" happened. It was not rape, but another form of sexual assault. That is not to say it is any less emotionally damaging or physically violating, & I feel that in the book, that was made very clear - Sexual assault of any kind is a major violation. But this is just one of many examples where the show seemed to feel the need to add more "drama" to things. They added the story line of the trial & all the kids getting subpoenaed to testify, which didn't really have anything to do with... anything, really, in the end. Tony was gay (Tony was hardly discussed in the book), which is irrelevant to anything, so why did his boyfriend need to exist/follow him everywhere? Also, why did we need to see Justin & Tyler getting guns? To keep us curious about who got shot for an episode? Or to leave it open for a sequel (please no)? It was unnecessary & just added pointless dramatic suspense that led nowhere. More examples of this are below.
5. The focus was too much on revenge & hiding what they did.
The point of the book was to learn from mistakes & move past it. Maybe I'm remembering wrong, but I got the sense that in the book, everyone was ashamed of what they had done to hurt Hannah, & that was the main reason they didn't want to talk about the tapes. But the whole point of the show, for at least the first half, was all these kids trying to hide what they did to keep their popularity, denying they ever knew Hannah, & even threatening to kill Clay if they exposed him. The whole "let's kill him!" attitude honestly seemed like a bad movie about a bunch of thugs. I can't imagine high schoolers saying that kind of stuff in real life.
6. The counselor could not guarantee that Hannah's rapist would go to jail.
This is a 100% accurate scenario. Even if a girl gave every detail of the crime, our justice system is so messed up these days, there's still no way to guarantee the rapist would go to jail. With Hannah being unwilling to give a name or details, that's not a lot to try him with. I will say that the counselor could have phrased some questions better, he could have turned his phone off, he could have chased after her, etc. But there are ways she could have improved the situation too, & placing blame on either side won't help. The thing I can say he definitely should have done differently is that if she had even hinted at having suicidal thoughts, he should have questioned that further, without a doubt.
7. People cannot read minds.
Throughout the episodes, there are so many times when Hannah gets upset with people for not knowing something is wrong. But when people ask what's going on, she says everything is fine. Then her little off-screen dialogues say they should have known to ask more, or follow her, or whatever else it may be. That's not really fair to blame people for not knowing what's going on if she won't tell them when they ask. She denies every attempt Clay makes to get close to her. She doesn't talk to her parents. She tried to make the counselor guess what her situation was, & got mad when he was wrong. She expects everyone to come to her in most situations, but doesn't seem to reciprocate when they try.
8. The show does not mention mental illness.
Suicide is highly linked with depression, among other mental illnesses. There are so many other kids in this show who are going through horrible things, & some of them are coping, while others are not. Hannah could not cope, possibly because of depression. This show could have explored how depression can damage coping skills, & discuss how depression is a mental illness, not a feeling - something that causes people with this illness to see things and manage things differently, & possibly why she pushed so many people away.
9. It doesn't address dangers of the "ripple effect."
Often, when there is one suicide, there will be a "ripple effect," & other students will begin to report suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide. I believe the show mentions it once, but doesn't really address the issue. Later, Alex attempts suicide, & two other characters mention contemplating suicide, but it is never mentioned that this could be part of the ripple effect. This seems like a missed opportunity to discuss the dangers of this situation - how one person's death can impact the lives of so many others, to reflect on the pain that Hannah's death brought, to think about what their lives mean, to discuss what their deaths would mean, to discuss how suicide is not a solution to problems, etc...
10. They also focused too much on hatred for Hannah.
No one seemed to care that Hannah was dead, other than her parents, Tony, & Clay. Everyone just brushed it off as "Well, she's dead now, so why does it matter?" or "We have to hide what we did. No one will believe a dead girl." To me, this is problematic for two reasons. First, it distracts from the point that Hannah is gone & that should change things. Second, it isn't realistic. As someone who has experienced the death of several classmates, I have seen acquaintances come out of the wood works to mourn the loss of classmates they barely knew, cherishing even the smallest memories, simply because the loss of someone so young is such a tragic thing. If Hannah hung out with the popular crowd at a small school, 1) everyone would know who knew her & how, & 2) everyone would be discussing all of those details.
11. The point of the book seemed to be learning a lesson, but the show brought about the opposite.
The book makes me think of learning lessons - seeking forgiveness, changing your ways, etc. But in the show, everyone kept bullying each other, fighting constantly, lying about Hannah & everything else... Even Clay got brought into it BECAUSE of Hannah. No one seemed to learn anything from the tapes except how to be more manipulative, until the very end, & even then, a lot of it almost seemed forced - a couple of people confessed to their parts, a couple confessed because others did & they knew the truth would come out eventually, & most still lied.
12. It didn't really teach anything to look out for/do to help.
The last episode did have Clay's speech to the Counselor (of all people), saying we need to change how we treat people. But at that point, still, no one really had changed much. Clay talked to Skye in the hall, but honestly, she wasn't very nice, either. There was a tiny blip in one episode where the teacher discussed signs to look out for if someone was suicidal, but that was short & got cut off.
13. Overall... It could have been an incredible platform, but instead it's basically a trigger warning.
Because of the success of the book, this was bound to be a big success too, & it has been. But instead of using that platform to make a difference - to show people how to speak out against sexual or domestic violence, to show how to look for warning signs in a person contemplating suicide, to tell who to contact if you know someone who is self-harming, or suicidal, or experiencing violence, or if YOU are going through any of these things... They used that platform to show off some really great music & production, & some far-too-graphic examples of harm.
So I will try to right a bit of that wrong by providing links to some places you can contact for info or help below.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or call 1-800-273-8255
National Sexual Assault Hotline or call 800-656-4673
National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233
http://www.crisistextline.org/ has a big list of resources for different crises, & you can also text 741741 (just remember it's straight down the number key pad twice) if you are in an immediate crisis to text with a real person.
Christ. Laker. Lily. Padfoot. Puns. Polar Bears. Travel. Tea. Tattoos. Tigers. Books. Belle. Buffaloes. Wonderland. Creativity.