In Defense of the "Strong Independent Woman"

 

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I never thought there would come the day where I would disagree with Bishop Robert Barron on anything, but his latest article about the “You Go Girl” culture made me uneasy.

While I agree that parents in television, particularly dads, are usually portrayed as stupid at best and abusive at worst, I don’t agree with Bishop Robert Barron’s perspective that males are being made to appear weak in order to make women look stronger.

My friend Emily A. said

Men write these characters. In fact, I would claim that these are not elevations of women so much as parodies of both the male AND female characters.
These women aren’t smart, they are smart-asses. They are insufferably naggy women with impossible standards who don’t trust their spouse. And time and time again, the husband seems to prove them right.
The buffoon father is actually a stereotype perpetuated *by men* who want less responsibility.

Additionally, there is something to be said for stereotypes/archetypes: they exist because they *resonate* with people. Stereotypes are merely a compilation of common factors within a certain group. While they fail as a blanket statement, they are not altogether fictitious.
I think Father Barron is mixing up the concept of a caricature and a stereotype. They aren’t equivalent.

At the end of the day, though, we are all humans with failures, husband and wife alike. And we tolerate the worst on the bad days and sometimes have trouble recognizing and celebrating the best on good days. That’s human nature. It’s easier to laugh at those failings embodied in a character than dwell on them and get depressed.

I believe that when Bishop Robert Barron describes the “all conquering female,”  he is thinking of the “Mary Sue.” The best definition I can give of a “Mary Sue” is one I got from video blogger Tommy Oliver (no relation to the Power Rangers): “A character so perfect that they are never challenged by the events of the narrative.” Bella Swan from Twilight is a perfect example of a Mary Sue because the worst problem she ever had to deal with, according to her perspective, is when Edward Cullen dumped her in New Moon. She deals with having a baby and taking down an evil band of vampires way too easily and she gets rewarded for essentially doing nothing of substance. She gets the boyfriend she wanted, the perfect baby, a lavish lifestyle, and immortality, but she never earned or overcame anything in order to get those things.

Rey from The Force Awakens was cited as an example of the “all conquering female,” but she’s not a good example of what Bishop Barron is thinking about. It’s true that Rey is often mistaken for a Mary Sue because of how she was able to use the Force so easily. However, it’s shown throughout the movie that she has her own challenges and weaknesses to overcome. She fights toe-to-toe with Kylo Ren and also has to overcome her fears of abandoning her life in Jakku to become a Jedi. The male characters in The Force Awakens stand on equal ground with Rey. Finn especially is considered a deuteragonist because the movie focuses just as much on his character growth as it does Rey’s.

I think Bishop Robert Barron is trying to advocate for better role models for men in the movies and TV shows we watch. I think that the potential for good role models expands beyond Sully and Deepwater Horizon. Captain America, while not perfect, is a role model for any man because he’s willing to do anything for the ones that he loves.  The Flash has a few good male role models as well, including three characters who are fathers: Joe West, Henry Allen, and Harrison Wells from Earth 2. Barry Allen is also a good role model for young men because while he makes his share of mistakes, he does his best to learn from them in order to become a better person.

While I agree that women have been portrayed as weak in the past, the task of trying to make women strong and independent have led to a whole new kind of female stereotype: The Broken Bird. To quote the Nostalgia Critic:

“Women in the media for so long were always the emotional support, the damsels, the smiling pretty faces, so in the 90’s, there was a desperate need to change that. Oh, not by making them unpretty, we wouldn’t do that, but we suddenly made them cold, bitter, confrontational, and overly strong, to go out of their way to show that they’re not those old emotional stereotypes, and instead make way for new emotional stereotypes. For you see, in every 90’s film, the woman behind this strong independent wall that won’t let everybody in,  is a sad little bunny rabbit that will eventually let down her defences and reveal a tragic backstory. So you see, she wasn’t a strong, confident worker just because she was a strong, confident worker. Deep down she just wants to be held like any other fragile woman. Oh, I don’t want to think! I just want to be loved!”

In other words, the “strong, independent woman” in a lot of movies and TV still needs all her problems solved by having a man in her life. To quote my friend Mary: “Closed off? Man will open you up. Insecure? Man will make you feel better. Lonely? Man got you covered.”

There’s one example in my life of a wonderful, strong, female heroine that doesn’t sacrifice her femininity in order to be badass. And the men in her life aren’t made weaker in order for her to be stronger. Ironically, she was created by someone who loved the atheist philosophers Sartre and Nietzsche.

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I can’t imagine my life without Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The overall theme of the show is dealing with things that come with growing up and becoming an adult. While Buffy, may appear to be a good example of what Bishop Robert Barron is talking about, she is actually a great example of a well written strong female character. She is strong, but she has her moments of vulnerability. She defeats evil on a weekly basis, but she also has friends and family that she loves unconditionally. She’s a force for good, but she also makes some mistakes that she has to learn from. And no male character is made weaker so that she can be stronger. All of Buffy’s male enemies were formidable opponents. Giles, Buffy’s mentor and father figure, contributed his intellect and wisdom. Xander, in spite of his flaws, was a young man with a good heart and has saved the day a couple times. And Spike goes through a lot of changes that kept his character interesting and complex without sacrificing his own strength and charisma.

I think that strong, female characters can be created without the women needing a man or without a man becoming weak at her expense. Men and women, fictional or nonfictional, need to be treated as equals. To quote my friend Jillian:

Male characters, particularly father types, shoud not be dumbed down to make way for “strong independent female”? But should female characters be written to be the worst qualities of men in order to be strong/independent (unless it’s some kind of well fleshed out redemption arc)? Heck no. Is it possible to have a realistic strong female character alongside a realistic non-dumbed-down male character? Yes, and there are a plethora of examples. Should we stop fighting for fair treatment of and well written female characters in movies/comics/tv because some male characters are written poorly? No, because the former does not cause the latter.

Tl;dr: Strong female characters are not the cause of the bumbling dad/emasculated male character.

Souper Star Nun Wins #Chopped Thanksgiving Special!

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I’ve been a devoted fan of Food Network ever since I was in high school. I credit the network for helping me learn how to cook through Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals and Alton Brown’s Good EatsChopped is not a show I watch all the time, but when I heard of a nun competing on last night’s Thanksgiving special, I decided to put my usual Monday night TV schedule on hold to watch.

Sister Alicia Torres is a member of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist and her order serves Our Mission of the Angels in Chicago, Illinois. As soon as I saw her I thought “Wow, she’s so sweet!” She’s a young, vibrant nun who wanted the world to see a different side of religious sisters. She already breaks the stereotype that nuns are all old. Not to mention, she’s a cradle Catholic and she’s been a nun since she was 24, which puts that concept of millenials leaving the church in droves to shame. She’s already 30 and thankfully avoiding that “I’m 30 my life is over” crisis that I often see in women’s fiction.

This isn’t Sister Alicia’s first time on camera, either. Check her out in these other videos here. (Thanks Sr. Theresa Aletheia!)

The other chefs competing were Chef Gretchen, who worked in The Bowery Mission in New York, Chef Victor who works for the Open Door shelter in Connecticut, and Chef Bonnie who volunteers for the Crib, an LGBT homeless shelter in Chicago.

The three rounds had various takes on the Thanksgiving staples of turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and cranberries. The appetizer round consisted of leftover versions of these staples. The chefs had 30 minutes to cook. Sister Alicia decided to make a quesadilla out of these ingredients in honor of her Hispanic background. Coincidentally, Chef Aaron Sanchez, a fellow Hispanic, was one of the judges on the panel.

I really loved that the show allowed Sister Alicia to emphasize how much she prayed before going into this. When I watched this episode, it was clear that the Holy Spirit had her back. Sister Alicia pointed out in the first round that she initially wanted to put the green beans in her salad, but decided to put them in the salsa so that they would stand out more. Considering that she isn’t a professional chef, I feel like that was the Holy Spirit nudging her in the right direction.

At the judging, Sister Alicia presented her turkey quesadilla with a cranberry salad, mashed potatoes with sour cream, and green bean salsa. The judges praised her on her presentation and creativity. Marc Murphy asked Sister Alicia if she ever made mashed potatoes with sour cream before, to which the good sister said “No.” The judges said that some kind of divine intervention was at play. They would be proven right. It was also during this judging that Sister Alicia explained how she entered into the order. She worked off her student debt by starting a campaign called Run for Nuns and was able to pay off her debt within a year and a half’s time. Major kudos to you, sister.

While the four contestants waited for the judges to come to a decision, they traded stories about what their respective soup kitchen does for Thanksgiving. Sister Alicia said that the Mission does a Thanksgiving brunch the Saturday before the holiday so that the families can go home with the leftovers. Chef Bonnie pointed out that while it’s great that so many people contribute during the holidays, they forget about how soup kitchens need food the rest of the year as well. The judges chose to eliminate Chef Gretchen due to her overusage of the cranberry sauce, but Ted Allen said that Food Network will make a donation to The Bowery Mission, which was a really good consolation prize.

In the entree round, the three chefs remaining had to cook fresh turkey breast, potatoes, cranberries, and green beans. Sister Alicia chose to go Mediterranean with the entree by making curry-flavored turkey with a sweet potato and cranberry hash. As she was cutting the sweet potatoes, Sister Alicia accidentally cut her finger. Usually, they would cut to a commercial break and the chef who cut himself would have a breakdown, but Sister Alicia kept calm and carried on with her cooking even as the medic was bandaging her finger. She said that the hash was a play on a dish that she often cooked for her order. She also pointed out that she usually doesn’t get the opportunity to make the plates look pretty, so she loved that she got the chance to express her creativity in this show.

At the judging table, Sister Alicia presented her Mediterranean Thanksgiving with her curry-seasoned turkey, sweet potato cranberry hash, and goat cheese green bean dipping sauce. Judge Amanda Frietag complimented Sister Alicia on the moistness of her turkey, which was a major contrast to Chef Bonnie’s undercooked turkey. The only criticism Sister Alicia received was from Marc Murphy, who said her hash needed a bit more cranberry. Chef Bonnie was more than happy to concede the round due to how badly her turkey was cooked and Sister Alicia complimented her on her humility. The judges chose to eliminate Chef Bonnie due to her forgetting the mashed potatoes and not cooking the turkey properly. However, Ted promised a donation from Food Network. Chef Bonnie hugged Ted Allen and left with her head held high.

In the dessert round, Ted asked Sister Alicia and Chef Victor if their ruthless sides will come out. Sister Alicia, being Catholic, says “I don’t know about ruthless, but winner, yeah.” The only way you can ever put “nun” and “ruthless” in the same sentence is if you say “The nun ruthlessly hit me with a ruler for talking during class.” (I grew up with nuns as teachers so I am allowed to make that joke.)

The ingredients in the dessert round were turkey ice cream cake, mashed potato candy, cranberry salsa, and green bean ice pops. It’s at this point that I wonder “Where the heck do the producers get these from?” I mean, I know I can find green bean ice pops in my local Asian food market, but who in their right mind thought that turkey ice cream cake and mashed potato candies were great ideas for appetizing desserts? Even Sister Alicia was grossed out.

Regardless of how she felt, Sister Alicia decided on making a green bean ice pop pancake and a milkshake from the other ingredients. Chef Victor gave the sister major kudos for how well she was doing in the competition in spite of her lack of professional experience. Even Amanda Freitag thought that Sister Alicia must’ve had some culinary experience that she’s not telling anyone, but Ted points out that the skills she gains from her work are being put to the test here. If I was giving commentary, I would’ve said that it’s a combination of Sister Alicia’s natural creativity and innovation and the Holy Spirit at work.

It was during this round that Sister Alicia brought attention to her habit. Now this is no offense to the plainclothes nuns in my life, but I love that she said “Dressed like this, I am not representing myself but I’m representing something much bigger.” It’s one reason I love nuns in habits so much. But at the same time, she shows a more human side to her when she says that she also wants to prove herself on how great her abilities are.

I was a little scared when she decided to add cocoa nibs to her pancake, thinking they would melt like chocolate. I was yelling “No! No! Chocolate chips, sister! Chocolate chips!” I thought her lack of familiarity with unusual ingredients would be a detriment. But once again, the Holy Spirit worked through her. Sister Alicia decided to take a risk based on what she knew about the show and the judge’s love of having texture in their desserts. At the end of the round, Chef Victor compliments Sister Alicia on the visual excellence of her dish. “I think she needs to be teaching me,” he said. Sister Alicia, however, is hoping she wins this round.

Sister Alicia presented her dessert to the judges, who complimented her on using fresh fruit and the texture and flavor of the cocoa nibs. Sister Alicia credits her talent for cooking to the Lord. As someone who’s also a creative spirit, I totally understand seeing the kitchen as a creative canvas.

Now for the last round of Chopped, the judges pick the winner based on overall performance, factoring the dessert along with the other two dishes. Since Sister Alicia and Chef Victor both did amazing in the dessert round, the judges looked at the appetizer and entree rounds to evaluate how well the chefs did. I loved that Sister Alicia felt confident that she won before the actual winner was revealed. It’s not exactly humble, but on the other hand, you can argue that the Holy Spirit was fueling her confidence. Ultimately, they decided on eliminating Chef Victor due to some technical failures in the first two rounds. But really, the judges had to get down to the nitty gritty in order to make that decision and Chef Victor left with gratitude, knowing that Food Network will make a donation to Open Door and that he raised awareness of his cause. Both contestants did well, but I already knew that Chef Alicia had it in the bag.

Since Sister Alicia was chosen as the winner, she gets the $10,000 prize. Ted Allen said that the money is hers to use as she sees fit, but as my fellow Patheos blogger Sr. Theresa Aletheia pointed out on her Twitter:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsOur Lady of Angels Mission said on their Twitter

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Talk about “The Lord will provide!”

One thing I loved about this Chopped was how loving Sister Alicia was to everyone. Ted Allen is openly gay and Chef Bonnie worked with LGBT teenagers, and yet there was nary a judgmental word from the Franciscan sister’s mouth. Her kindness towards her fellow competitors, the judges, and the host reminds me of how Mother Teresa approached the people of different faiths in India, treating them as people and not as “the enemy.” It’s a stark contrast to, say, “Christians” who are up in arms over Starbucks choosing to have red cups for Christmas. I don’t even drink Starbucks coffee and even I know that this so-called “campaign” is ridiculous.

Matthew 7:20 says “By their fruits you will know them.” It’s part of a passage that talks about how to distinguish false prophets from true ones. Sister Alicia is a great example of someone whose actions and spirit show what the Catholic Church is actually like. And since she won this Chopped episode, there’s the possibility that she could compete in Chopped Champions tournaments in the future, if she ever gets asked and if her order allows her to do so.

I always love seeing nuns portrayed in a positive light, especially in mainstream media. I hope that there will be more opportunities for nuns to evangelize to the world in the future. For now, Sister Alicia’s victory is a very good start.

Top 10 Reasons October is My Favorite Month

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Lots of people look forward to certain seasons. Schoolchildren count the days to summer. Many corporations and television networks count down to Christmas. Baseball fans look forward to springtime. But my favorite season is and always will be autumn. Unlike everyone getting on the pumpkin spice bandwagon, however, I have my own reasons for loving October.

1) So. Many. Feast Days!

St. Therese of Lisieux, the Feast of the Guardian Angels, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, and the feast of St. Faustina all took place within the last few days. October also has the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary and Fatima, St. Teresa of Avila, and Popes Saint John XXIII and John Paul II. And that’s just naming a handful of feasts! November may have All Saints Day, but so many famous saints have their feast days in October. It almost makes me wish that October was dedicated to the saints.

2) Halloween

Of all the holidays on the calendar, Halloween is still my favorite. Horror movies, nostalgic Halloween specials, costumes, and candy! What’s not to love? Oh yeah, the fact that a lot of Christians see Halloween as associated with the devil and the occult. I’ll be doing a post about the Dos and Don’ts of Halloween later this month. But for now, all I’ll say is that for me, Halloween is the day of revelry. I learned in college that there were days devoted to merry-making as a reminder to not take ourselves seriously. And for me, Halloween is that day. Not everyone can go to conventions, after all.

3) Rosary Month

October is also the month of the Rosary. I have been praying at least a decade every day since the month started. I still remember watching a children’s movie centering on Our Lady of Fatima and the children of Fatima. In all honesty, I still struggle with praying the Rosary. But praying a decade every day is a good start.

4) So. Many. Birthdays. 

Today is my dad’s birthday. I’ve been busy celebrating Dad’s big 6-0 all weekend. Some of my relatives from the East Coast came to visit. It was my aunt’s birthday as well. On my Mom’s side of the family, we’re going to be celebrating my grandmother’s big 99th. My grandfather on my mother’s side, God rest his soul, was also born in October.

5) TV Specials and Movies

Aside from the awesome Halloween Specials, many TV shows sometimes premiere in this month. I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Supergirl for the first time. I’m also catching up on The Flash as best as I can. A lot of movies are also premiering this month. While I’m tentative about Goosebumps and Hotel Transylvania 2, Bridge of Spies and Steve Jobs are intriguing me. And btw, whatever you do, avoid Jem and the Holograms. It’s not gonna be worth the price of admission.

6) Special Drinks

While I avoid anything with the Pumpkin Spice label due to my allergies, the cooler weather allows me to enjoy some dairy free hot chocolate courtesy of Burnham and Mills Silly Cow Farms Hot Chocolate Drinks. I also make more tea during this time of year. My personal favorite is English Breakfast Tea.

7) Cooler Weather

After living in Texas for almost a decade, I have learned that there are just two seasons in my side of Texas: rainy season (starts around October thru February or March) and hot/humid (the rest of the year). It took me a while, but I eventually became what you call a pluviophile, a lover of rain. It’s a peaceful sound, especially during this time of year. Things are starting to cool down here. Mornings have become cool and eventually, things will be cool throughout the day. And while I sadly don’t get to watch the leaves changing color like I did as a kid, feeling a cool breeze in the morning has become my new favorite thing.

8) Baseball/Football

October is the time of the playoffs and world series for baseball. Currently, the Houston Astros are doing surprisingly well. They’re gonna face off against the Yankees tonight. I’ll be rooting for both teams, but I’m honestly hoping the Astros will get to go all the way. They were the first team I got to watch live, after all.

Football, of course, is also going on. It took me a while to actually like it. In all honesty, I love high school and college football as opposed to the professional stuff. And I still don’t understand fantasy football. But there is something about watching a local football game. There’s still a little bit of Miss School Spirit in me, after all.

9) Local Festivals and Plays

In Texas, there is a lot more than Oktoberfest going on. Back when I lived on-campus, there were a lot of festivals going on. Many parishes hold fall festivals around this time of year. My college hosted an Italian Festival and the Greek Orthodox school next door holds Greek Fests every year. My school’s drama department also premiers its fall play around this month. Last year, I got to see them do Romeo and Juliet. Check out your local university’s drama department to see what they’re showing. It’s always good to support local theatre.

10) My Buffyversary

It all started two years ago. I had an anxiety attack. My first one in months. I needed to watch something, anything, to take my mind off things. I opened my laptop, picked a show about a blonde girl with the power to fight vampires, and clicked “Play.” October was when I first watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer and I haven’t been the same since.

So, starting today, I’ll be posting a recap of my Top 10 Favorite Buffy Episodes. With rumors of a new Twilight book being released, it’s time that people learn what real vampires are really like.

So why should you check out my recaps and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Because it’s not really about the monsters or the magic. It’s about dealing with problems that come with growing up. It’s about the characters you love and love to hate and wish you were real. It’s about the emotional catharsis that this show gave to me and many others.

There will be fangirling and feels in the days ahead. You have been warned.

A Not So "Ordinary" Update

In the world of television, theatre, and other media that involves actors, there are always going to be changes. Such in the case of the web original sitcom “Ordinary.”

Timothy Quigley, the creator of Ordinary, recently announced that three of the major actors have left the show. Given that the show was crowdfunded, Timothy turned to his audience for help regarding this situation.

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(I voted for option C, which involves Ruthie and Frances being so badly damaged by the fire that they get major reconstructive surgery, which explains why they look different.)

Casting calls for Ruthie, Frances, and Brigit have been posted on Craigslist, IMDBPro, and Backstage. If you are in the Lancaster area or even within the tri-state area, I highly recommend you audition for this show. And if you want to know more about the show, you can watch the videos on demand at Vimeo.

 

 

 

Women of Christ Wednesday: Leah Darrow

Photo courtesy of The Grable Group

Photo courtesy of The Grable Group

Back when I was in high school, I used to be obsessed with America’s Next Top Model. I got into it when I found out that one of the contestants, Heather Kuzmich, had Asperger’s Syndrome. Little did I know that I would later learn of another contestant who left the modeling lifestyle and became a well known Catholic speaker. When I first heard of Leah Darrow, I knew her as a speaker, not as a reality show contestant. Later on, I watched her when she gave her conversion story on The Journey Home and found myself fascinated.

After watching her testimony on The Journey Home, I found a video clip of her elimination from America’s Next Top Model. I watched in awe as the judges said that her outfit was more suited for a “secretary contest,” telling her to take off her jacket since she was wearing a tube top underneath. In my honest opinion, she was definitely less “soccer mom” than Tyra Banks declared her to be.

With beauty queens these days showing themselves to be less-than-stellar when it comes to world matters, Leah Darrow stands out as a woman who wears a better crown on her head: the crown that God gives to all of his daughters. And the fact that I first knew her as a speaker rather than a reality show contestant tells me that she’s come a very long way.

What did your time on America’s Next Top Model teach you about being on TV and the “glamorous” lifestyle?
My time on ANTM taught me that there is no such thing as the “glamorous lifestyle” – that’s only something that Fergie and Beyonce sing about. The lifestyle perpetuated by fashion, music, and movies is one focused on instant gratification and constant conformation to a ridiculous standard of beauty and entertainment that one has no control over.
Tell me how you met your husband and how things are for you and your family now.

We were introduced by friends. When we met in 2008, Ricky had just returned from his first deployment to Iraq (he’s a US Army Special Forces Green Beret) and was prepping for his second deployment, so, a “relationship” was a bit out of the question. We started and maintained a friendship, and for the next four years and really got to know each other. In 2011, we just happened to be in the same place, at the same time — and that’s when Ricky knew I was the love of his life and he couldn’t live without me…that’s at least my version of the story.
What advice would you give about relationships?
We are obsessed with relationships today and define ourselves by them. Sadly, we have forgotten the art of friendship. We end up dating strangers and attempt the friendship while we navigate the dating process. Try friendship out first before you go and date a stranger. People who have a strong relationship with Jesus tend not to jump into relationships too quickly because they have a stronger sense of self, worth, and dignity. When we allow our identify to be defined by HIM, we don’t seek it in the world or in others.
How do you define beauty?
Beauty should inspire and empower love. Beauty should not reduce a person to a collection of parts or use. True beauty is rooted in service to another – “The beauty on the outside never gets into the soul. But the beauty of the soul reflects itself on the face” Ven. Fulton Sheen.
What is your favorite go-to outfit for a typical day? How would you describe your style?
My favorite go-to outfit for a typical day is something that snot, markers, and banana can be washed out of quickly – my fashion choices are now inspired my daughter, Agnes. However, I’ve always leaned toward classic pieces that stand the test of time. I update them with accessories (jewelry, scarves, jackets, shoes) but rarely go with “trends”. Instead, I stick with what works for my figure and budget.
Who are your go-to saints?
I like St. Theresa of Avila because she’s feisty and she ‘gets’ my lack of patience that I am forever trying to quell, Venerable Fulton J. Sheen because he is a pro when it comes to evangelization with a microphone, and St. John Paul II because, well, he’s John Paul II.
What would you say to girls who want to audition for reality TV shows or pursue a career in fashion/acting?
Don’t audition for reality TV shows. It’s not worth your time and people rarely take you seriously afterward. Just take a look at all the reality TV contestants out there today and their lives – for most of us, it didn’t exactly help our situation in life.
Acting and designing are both amazing creative arts that require God-given talent, time and practice. In either one of those fields, a strong faith community is a must for accountability and support.
To see more of what Leah Darrow is doing right now, go to Leahdarrow.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Comedy Tonight: A Review of Galavant

Way back three weeks ago, ABC showed a new promo about a musical named Galavant. With Alan Menken’s songs, how can this girl go wrong by being interested in Galavant? Plus, it had a lot of real cool guest stars. Concept was intriguing by far. Sweet! I tuned in every week. Now here is my critique about the musical called Galavant.

I’ll admit that while I am a sucker for a good musical, I found myself having mixed feelings about Galavant after watching the whole first season. First of all, I thought it was going to be a mini-series. I’ve watched a show where every episode was a musical episode before. The format is a great idea on paper, but there’s one major problem: Musicals eventually have to end at some point. The idea of musicals is to combine storytelling and songs and most of the musicals I love have a wonderful self-contained story. Even musicals like Songs of a New World and Working are considered to be self-contained in spite of the episodic songs because they revolve around a common theme, which you can compare to a short story anthology.

What I liked about Galavant was how it took ideas and concepts that were familiar to fairy tales and lighthearted musicals and turned them on their heads. The titular hero goes from being a self-centered jerk to someone who puts others first. The damsel in distress, Madalena, turns into an opportunistic, Machiavellian woman when she marries King Richard. The evil king gains a lot more sympathy as he is not as ruthless as he seems. The squire is a great source of comic relief and the second princess, who becomes Galavant’s traveling companion, shows that she can hold her own by her wits and cleverness.

I liked some of the episodes I saw more so than others. The problem is that the episodes don’t flow together all that well. I also didn’t like the finale as it was clear that it was more interested in getting a second season than keeping everyone in character or having anything make sense. If you want spoilers, you can find them elsewhere.

What I will say is that I liked the acting overall. Joshua Sasse can’t carry a tune, but he gave his best. Mallory Jensen had the most range in the show overall and she made her character’s transitions fun to watch. I was always surprised at how devious Madalena could be. The same can be said for Timothy Omundson, who you may recognize as Detective Lassiter from Psych. He was always fun to watch and he balanced the transition from seemingly ruthless tyrant to unexpectedly sympathetic villain really well. And as stated before, Luke Youngblood was great at providing comic relief, but also showed Sid’s vulnerability. But, by far, my favorite character is Princess Isabella, played by Karen David. She had the most to work with. She wasn’t just a sidekick. She was the brains of the group, but also hid a lot of feelings. It’s what the writers did to Isabella at the end of the first season that made me disappointed with it.

Overall, I’m glad I gave Galavant a chance, but I wish that they made it a mini-series as opposed to a comedy musical series. I hope that things turn out for the best.

True Love Tuesday: Why I Ship Spike/Buffy and Faith/Angel

In October 2013, I started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer to get myself hyped up for Halloween. Since all 7 seasons were available on Netflix, I went through all 7 seasons in a matter of 5 months.

At first, I liked the Buffy/Angel relationship. I thought it was cute. I also loved Spike as a villain and I loved him with Drusilla. I was fairly certain that I would ship Bangel given how much Buffy loved him. And I still like Angel’s character to this day, but when he became Angelus, it was basically the most emotionally driven story arc I’ve ever seen next to Seasons 5.

Then everything changed when I started watching Season 3. It kept showing just why Buffy and Angel could never work in the long run. She is desperate to hold onto him while he keeps her at a constant distance, knowing the consequences of what happened in Season 2. It culminates with Buffy forcing Angel to feed on her and it shows that that is the closest thing the two of them get to having sex without Angel losing his soul.

As I said, I love Angel as a character, but what irks me about him is that his brooding demeanor. He has a reason to brood, obviously, but that kind of attitude is all wrong for Buffy. So when Faith came around in Season 3 and tried hitting on Angel, I was actually intrigued. When I watched the episodes where Faith appeared in Angel, I was even more certain that they would be better together.

Faith and Angel are birds of a feather. Both of them have seen the darker side of life and are working towards bettering themselves as people. However, Faith can bring something to Angel’s life that Buffy can’t: a wild, rambunctious spirit that can lift Angel out of the dumps and a more direct approach to life. Even if Faith and Angel had sex and Angel would lose his soul, they’d still work together and become the hottest evil couple ever. In an AU where evil rules the world, Faith would be a hardened vigilante who plays by her own rules and Angelus would encourage her to embrace the darkness she loves.

So where does that leave Buffy? Should she be with Riley? Uh, no. Riley is boring and a total hypocrite. Intimidated by Buffy because she’s stronger than him and then he goes and marries someone that can fight alongside him? Someone beat him over the head with a shovel. Repeatedly. Until he dies.

No. I ship Buffy with Spike. It started in Season 4’s “Something Blue.” The intent of the episode was supposed to show how ridiculous the Spike/Buffy relationship. Instead, I loved the idea of it. I literally went from “I know they’re under the influence of a spell, but this is so cute” to “Get a room already!” in the span of one episode. Then as soon as it was established that Spike was falling for Buffy in Season 5, I wanted Riley out of the picture way earlier than when he left and for Spike and Buffy to start hooking up. I ship them so hard, that I’ve started writing fanfiction about them. And I haven’t posted anything on fanfiction.net in years.

Why? Because again, it’s about bringing out what the other person needs. Buffy needs someone who brings fire into her life. Spike’s devil-may-care attitude combined with a softer, romantic side is perfect for Buffy who has a bad tendency to close off her emotions. It’s shown that the two of them work wonderfully together in the Becoming 2-Parter. He also gets along with her mom and when Dawn enters the picture, Spike is the one who acts as Dawn’s confidante and protector. Need we bring up the events “Intervention” (stupid BuffyBot aside)?

Yes, Spike and Buffy have a complicated relationship and Spike attempted to rape Buffy in “Seeing Red.” Attempted rape is always going to be a horrible horrible thing but the problem is that it was kind of the end result of a series of complicated events that I’ll explain on Friday. I’M NOT SAYING THAT SHE WAS ASKING FOR IT OR THAT SHE DESERVED WHAT HAPPENED. I ACKNOWLEDGE THAT WHAT SPIKE DID WAS WRONG. A really well written defense is shown in this post.

Funny thing is after that happened, he went off to get his soul so that he can become the man Buffy deserves. And their relationship was actually at its best in Season 7. It was also one of the few good things in Season 7, especially the episode Touched.

To quote Spike in Touched: “I’ve seen the best and the worst of you and I understand with perfect clarity exactly what you are.” Which is true as evidenced by this post.

Even if Spike were to lose his soul somehow, they could still work because Spike sans-soul and sans-chip has been shown to be a good ally to Buffy in Becoming Part 2. The best picture that shows their relationship was in Chosen when the two of them held hands and their hands caught fire as Spike was about to sacrifice himself. Buffy and Spike are the fire that the other one needs.

On Friday, I will cover the form of love everyone is familiar with but also misunderstands the most: Eros.