Friday, March 14, 2014

...

I know at the end of last year I made this grand announcement that I would be "taking back my blog" and writing more here since I wasn't really writing professionally. I also know that that's not what happened. It wasn't for lack of trying, but more times than not, when I sat down to publish something new, I stopped myself before actually letting my words go live. I started to feel like I was just contributing to the noise without a real reason. For example, after seeing just how much weight the most recent Biggest Loser champion lost and how drastically different she looked, I thought about writing something about the competition (as opposed to health) aspects of the show. But why? Is my opinion, as an untrained non-professional in the areas of health, wellness, and exercise, necessary? Is it revolutionary or even a little bit different than what countless of others probably said first (east coast feed ends hours before we on the west get to view, which often means by the time we see and comment on things, our comments are just redundant to the ones that came before from other time zones. Is it benefiting anyone (other than the oddly thrilling validation I feel when I get into a discussion with someone about what I wrote)? These are all similar questions to the ones I started to ask myself about the productions on which I worked. It's really easy to keep putting stuff into the bottomless pit that is the internet, but that doesn't mean you should.

So right now I'm reevaluating this blog-- what I wanted it to be when I started it, if I accomplished that, if I got too sidetracked, if there's still interest and possibility to accomplish it now. I have accepted a full time position with a PR firm here in Los Angeles, so I will be transitioning professionally but will probably still contribute the occasional article (review or interview or video) to other (read: paying/professional) sites. This blog therefore may sit dormant for a little while as I settle into this new position/corner of the industry, but I am still continuing to put random crap up on shorter form platforms of social media, so if you want, follow me over there:

Twitter: @danielletbd

Madison's corner of the internets:
Twitter: @MrMadisonC

Monday, March 10, 2014

Danielle Does 'Dallas'...

Did you miss any of my video interviews from my recent set visit to Dallas down at Southfork? Do you just love the actors so much you want to look at them over and over while they talk about season three on TNT? Here is a handy-dandy round-up of all of my chats!

Emma Bell

Jordana Brewster 

Patrick Duffy

Julie Gonzalo 

Linda Gray 

Josh Henderson 


Jesse Metcalfe 

Juan Pablo di Pace 

Mitch Pileggi


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

'Revolution' Round-Up...

Did you miss any of my video interviews from my recent set visit to Revolution down in Austin, Texas? Do you just love the actors so much you want to look at them over and over while they talk about the back half of season two? Here is a handy-dandy round-up of all of my chats!

Billy Burke

David Lyons

Elizabeth Mitchell 

JD Pardo

Tracy Spiridakos

Mat Vairo
 


Saturday, March 1, 2014

This May Be The Closest To a Food Blogger I'll Ever Be...

What does a newly employed, still in her twenties, single woman living in one of the most colorful cities in the country do on a prime Saturday night? Well, if she's me (and in this case she obviously is), the answer is clearly go on a road trip looking for Ben & Jerry's new Core ice creams. 

If you follow my Tumblr, you already know that March 2014 is seeing four new flavors debuting for the ice cream conglomerate. Designed to be two separate flavors of ice cream separated by a thick, rich core in each tight package, these pints should appeal to everyone with a sweet tooth. The four flavors are Hazed & Confused (chocolate ice cream with fudge chips, a “core” of Nutella-like hazelnut fudge, and hazel nut ice cream on the other side), That’s My Jam (chocolate and raspberry ice creams separated by a raspberry jam core, Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge (chocolate and peanut butter ice cream flavors, mini peanut butter cups, and a fudgy center), and Salted Caramel (sweet cream ice cream, blondie piece, and a (duh) salted caramel core). Being that today was the first of the month, I didn't think it was too much to ask that my local supermarket have a full shelf in stock.

Unfortunately my local supermarket (Ralph's) disagreed. When doing my regular grocery shopping this afternoon, I stopped in the frozen aisle with Hazed & Confused on my mind...only to find they had no Core flavors. Not completely deterred (because there is a Gelson's right across the street), I figured I'd be spoon-deep in no time. Gelson's did not have any Core flavors either. Neither of these supermarkets had tags for the Core flavors, showing that they were once in stock and now just sold out. The absence of tags led me to believe they had not been delivered to stock yet at all. Things were starting to look a little bleak. 

Yesterday a friend Tweeted that she found the Core flavors in her local Target. She lives over the hill from me in Los Angeles, and I was not about to get on a freeway for some ice cream (apparently I have some limits and they involve the 101), but I thought my local Target would surely have what hers has, being that we're in the same general metropolitan area and really only about two dozen miles apart. When I arrived there in the early evening, I found three favors, and not my beloved Hazed & Confused but one called Karamel Sutra that had not even been on the initial new flavor release. Suddenly my energy was reinvigorated. What other previously unannounced flavors might I find if I soldiered on!? I was up for the adventure!

As I went along, I Tweeted about my stops, and in doing so my friend Jean alerted me that Karamel Sutra was actually an old flavored that they re-branded with the Core label, probably to drum up some new interest. I had never seen it before, though, and not only did it sound like the original Core but also flavors that were right up my alley, so I took this as a sign I was on the right track.

Normally I would start at my closest stores and expand a small circle outward (a trick anyone who has ever had to find street parking surely knows), but my friend Diane pointed me in the direction of the Vons on Laurel Canyon in Studio City. She had visited earlier in the day and purchased a pint there, so rather than make a bunch of stops that might be closer but also might be busts, I headed east to what I thought was a guaranteed purchase point.

They only had Karamel Sutra.

Since I was in the neighborhood, I popped into the Ralph's on Coldwater Canyon (an old stomping ground of mine), but they did not have any Cores either. Apparently Ralph's didn't get the memo that these are a must stock!

Another friend tipped me off to the Target on Victory in North Hollywood. He assured me they had the Cores, but it is a location that is usually outside my radius for errands-- and a location that smells oddly of an airport inside, which just makes me uncomfortable-- so I put it off, thinking there was no way I wouldn't find a closer option first. It turns out, I should have just listened to him and skipped all of the in-between stops because sure enough, it was a sure thing.

I mean, jackpot, right!? All the four Core flavors! 

Could I have found them closer if I stuck to my original, usual strategy of checking all of the half a dozen different supermarkets in my neighborhood and the directly adjacent ones first? Perhaps, but let's pretend that's not true. Could I have saved myself time if I didn't make the stops I did but instead went only to the ones I was told definitely had them? Of course. If you feel the need to learn a lesson with each blog post, the one here is clearly to stick to one strategy when tackling a project, not try to mix and mash up two or more. But I had nothing else to do on a rainy night, and at least my car got a free wash as I drove around.

And just which flavors did I bring home? Well the coveted Hazed & Confused, of course, considering I could have stopped after my trip to the first Target if I wasn't looking specifically for that one. But I snatched up Karamel Sutra even though it "doesn't count" and the Salted Caramel Core, which is the only one to offer only one flavor of ice cream in the pint, and I'm curious if it works better in that more simple recipe. I passed on Peanut Butter Fudge because I'm just not that into peanut butter, and I passed on That's My Jam because the raspberry jam core has seeds, which is a texture I just don't need in my ice cream.

I expect them all to be delicious and well worth the drive, and maybe I'll just have to review them on video ala Community's Leonard next...


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Unboxing the 'Hollywood Game Night' Home Edition...

Martin Short. Jason Alexander. Julie Bowen. Rosie O'Donnell. Penny Marshall. Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Chris Colfer. Matthew Perry. Lisa Kudrow. Felicity Huffman. Angie Harmon. These are just a sampling of the celebrities that have played Hollywood Game Night on NBC, and now YOU can play, too!



The Consumer Products division of NBC Universal has created a Party Game home edition board game that combines some of your favorite Hollywood Game Night games in one small box, bringing big laughs and hours of fun into your living room for your very own game nights. The game is available at Walmart and on nbcstore.com and fits the parameters of a classic, throwback board game, meaning it comes with a scoreboard, hourglass timer, and stacks of cards that feature each round's game. Unfortunately there is no DVD component for some of the more technical games like Facial Fusion-- though you can probably rig your own bowl if you want to turn any of the included games into a round of Clue Boom.

I took a look inside the Hollywood Game Night Party Game in a very special unboxing video. Below I explore just which Hollywood Game Night games made the cut of this Party Game, which perhaps obviously and of course ends with a round of classic Celebrity just like on the show. Of course seeing that prompted me to launch into a few anecdotes about my own game nights, as well, which really just amount to tips on how (or how not) to play with your own friends.


Hollywood Game Night returns with all new episodes on February 27th at 9 p.m.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Report from the Set: NBC's 'Revolution'...

It was an overcast morning in Austin, Texas. I had been in the "weird" and wonderful city for just over 12 hours and still had the previous evening's barbecue dinner on my mind when I pulled up to the state capital building downtown.* Just off to the side of the landmark political attraction-- through which Segway tours rolled tourists-- bleachers and a podium adorned in the Texas flag had been erected and a few dozen bystanders hung around, some with tinier versions of the Texas flag waving in their hands, awaiting a speech from their leader at a very special cadet ceremony. Just a bit further away from those bleachers were a table of weapons-- some rifles, some side pieces, some hand guns-- that a lone guy in black checked out for safety before carrying them off to the action. It seemed a fitting welcome to the set of NBC's Revolution, the post-apocalyptic drama in which all the electricity in the world went out 15 years prior. I may not have actually been allowed to personally play with the weapons this time around, but watching a stunt involving a very excited featured player and strategically placed squib was equally enjoyable.


The cast and crew of Revolution were working on the 18th episode of the season when I spent the day observing production and talking with everyone who was filming that day plus Elizabeth Mitchell who was gracious enough to come over on her day off to help promote the show-- which means that they were much farther ahead in their stories and locations than I had last seen. The action on Revolution moves fast, even if the characters often have the same arguments and stand-offs (for the record, both Billy Burke and Mitchell admitted they did not believe their characters could ever kill Monroe, despite threats otherwise and despite all of the terrible things he has done to their family-- maybe blood is not truly thicker than water...). As this begrudging familial fighting unit moves forward together, dynamics between them are constantly shifting. While it is not uncommon to see characters pair up and go off on little detours or side tasks, on this particular day the majority of the show's heroes were working together to stop a terrible act. What was most interesting was watching the placement of each individual as the five of them literally walked side by side out of a building together. Some whom you might expect to be front and center, puffing chests out to command and acting as leaders were actually trailing further behind, perhaps implying more "along for the ride" with this particular mission.

A lot can certainly change in a short amount of time, as evidenced simply by the fact that the post-Olympic return episode that I was on set to preview had these five characters off in three different directions. The one thing that seemed to be remaining a constant, though, was that Aaron (Zak Orth) was separated even further-- still on his mission to figure out what exactly is going on with him and the nanotechnology. Orth was not one of the actors I spoke with on set, so admittedly I wasn't able to obtain any insight into just how big a part the sci-fi part of this story was going to play into the final episodes. The industry savvy side of me knows the implication is most likely that Aaron will work stoically, coming into his own as a hero, and then rejoin the group for the tail end of the season with new knowledge and a new, bigger picture mission that includes the tech. Sitting on set and watching the much heavier character and relationship driven work that was being done, though lets me hold out hope that the fact that it's so isolated now is the show's way of containing it and phasing it out. What inspires the most connection, after all, are the character and relationship (read: human) stories. These people were all disconnected enough with technology before the blackout; I don't want to see it consume them again, even if it's on a much larger scale or profound level. My life is consumed by enough technology as it is, too!

Revolution is an extremely location-heavy show-- both in terms of where the production actually goes to film and the utilization of changing landscapes as a part of the physical journeys the characters make. Therefore most of the sets Revolution houses at South Side Studios are wild, which means the walls are easily changeable into something new on any given week. With a show that keeps its characters on the road, anything from local bars to hotel rooms to cave-like hideouts may be built one week-- for one episode-- only to be repurposed for the following one. That's not all that unusual for a post-apocalyptic show but it's also really not unusual for creator Eric Kripke. What makes Revolution a bit more unique, though, is that while the locations are ever changing, the wardrobe the characters wear is not. 

A tour of the costume department not only showcased the nuances in different cities' military uniforms but also the sheer volume of the same outfit that had to be created for each character. Since the characters can only fit so much in their backpacks (or in the case of Burke, just likes to keep things simple and comfortable), they only have a few changes each. But as episodes go on and the actors get dirtier-- or bloodier, as is more often the case-- versions of their outfits need to be created with the appropriate amount of wet or dry elements. And then the looks need to be duplicated for their stunt doubles.  

Revolution's wardrobe department leaves no new piece of clothing clean, either. Since everything is supposed to be taking place after 15 years without electricity and therefore washing machines or dry cleaners, the various department personnel may purchase brand new items (which usually cost a couple of hundred dollars each) but then spend hours tirelessly aging them. This is done not only for the principle actors like Burke, Mitchell, David Lyons, Tracy Spiridakos, etc but also the extras, who are all also given their own unique look.

Hearing the kind of care and detail the wardrobe department pays even to the extras (who are sadly all too often instead treated with the attitude of "no one will notice" when it comes to things like moving actors from one side of the scene to the other in coverage, effectively duplicating the person in the scene) was certainly a bonus, but I have to admit that the highlight of visiting Revolution was sitting down with Jeff Wolfe the show's Emmy award winning stunt coordinator. Next to weapons I am most personally interested in stunts (I guess it's the whole wish fulfillment of watching people do things I know I never could personally), and Revolution has some of the most varied kinds between hand-to-hand, martial arts, horses, wagons, guns, swords, and this season, people being set on fire.

Wolfe shared that Kripke often just writes into the scripts "The best damn action sequence we've ever seen", which gives Wolfe free range and creativity to choreograph something new each time. Wolfe feels that for Revolution what matters the most when it comes to these fights is the style of the character-- that each weapon involved and each move made feels like something the character would do based on how they feel in the moment and who they're fighting.

Again I have to point out: with character driving so much-- everything from allegiances to goal detours to the stunts-- that means we can drop the surreal, slightly supernatural smart tech and focus on the grounded everyday people, right? RIGHT??

My formal write up on the return to Revolution (NBC, Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. starting February 26) will be on Studio System News.

Interested in checking out my relationship heavy (with light spoilers) video interview chats with the cast? Keep an eye on my YouTube page!


** Travel and hotel accommodations provided by WBTV


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

REVIEW: "Something Real", what every YA novel should aspire to be...

I am the first to admit that I usually shy away from reading Young Adult literature because I often find the themes repetitive and the writing style too simplistic, but with new authors like Heather Demetrios, the market is a whole lot more creative, interesting, and intelligent!

Yes, "Something Real", Demetrios' debut novel, does draw on many themes common in YA: her main character is a teenager who is dealing with all kinds of issues and pressure from her family, her school, her friends, and her budding first love/relationship. But Demetrios sets her story in a world so rich that it immediately springs up around you and sucks you in. The world is also somewhat larger than life in the way many YA stories tend to be, but instead of being a downer in dystopia, Demetrios chooses to showcase her story in a world that is happening in reality as you read, which grounds even the craziest seeming parts of the story.

"Something Real's" heroine Chloe Baker is a former reality show star, but not by choice. From birth, she was a part of a reality program about her large and somewhat unorthodox family-- a family that features a "Baker's Dozen" worth of people with kids adopted from all parts of the globe. She thinks (and therefore Demetrios writes) in "seasons" rather than years, in that "In season 7" instead of "When I was 7" sort of way that is heartbreaking but yet still lends itself as just another incredible detail to immerse the readers in Chloe's world. Additional such details are specially stylized chapters that are "lifted" from various interview transcripts or show episode transcripts.

When readers meet Chloe, her show has been off the air for a few years, and she has managed to change her name (to Chloe) and live a normal life in a real high school. She has kept her upbringing and family a secret from her new friends and somewhat miraculously has managed to go unrecognized by anyone in her new California town. But that is all about to change as her mother has signed a new deal for the show to restart, exploding Chloe's new life and bringing the most painful parts of her past to the surface once again.

"Something Real" does a remarkable job of depicting the truth behind reality TV in an insider's look sort of way without making the book about exposing reality TV. That is the setting, the world for Chloe's story to take place, but it does not define Chloe. We spend a lot of alone time with Chloe, so we get to know how she thinks and feels better than anyone, as we would with any good protagonist. But "Something Real" features an ensemble that rivals even "Baker's Dozen" and *all* of her characters-- from Chloe's older brother and confidante Benny, to her new, almost too good to be true boyfriend Patrick, to her image-obsessed mother-- are so finely crafted the astute reader can anticipate how they, individually, will act in most situations, too. Everything and everyone has its place and purpose within the story; no one gets lost in the mass; there is no filler, and there is no pandering or expository repetition. Demetrios trusts her readers, but perhaps most importantly, she respects her readers.

Personally, I want to read novels about interesting characters who happen to encounter unique and equally interesting situations, scenarios, and events. The plot is always less important to me than the characters themselves because "where" they get to doesn't really matter if I haven't enjoyed spending time with them and therefore actively rooting for them to get to their destination in the first place. Demetrios has certainly created characters with whom you will want to spend a lot of time (I would love to read a whole separate book from Benny's perspective, for example, but there is certainly room and interest warranting each Baker child to tell their story in individual novellas, should the publisher so choose). But obviously Demetrios has also created a complicated story with unique markers to match.

Good YA has its protagonist "coming of age" and learning some lessons along the way-- lessons that the readers can take to heart, too. But great YA has its protagonist empowering his or herself and inspiring change. "Something Real" does that in spades as Chloe refuses to just play into the reality TV game and adopt the character "type" the show wants her to be but instead decides to stand up for herself and what she-- not her mother, not the cameras-- really wants her life to be. Today's youth should all be so brave.

"Something Real" is available in Hardcover and e-book form now.
 

REVIEW: "My Letter To Fear: Essays on life, love, and the search for Prince Charming"...

My friend and producing partner, Patricia Steffy, recently published her first book. It is an essay compilation that she wrote after conducting a series of interviews with the various women in her life. Some of these pieces made up the basis of the equally-titled staged reading charity event IBG Inc held in 2012, as well. To help support her, I wrote a brief review, which you can read below. If it entices you, as I hope it will, the link to purchase her book is also below.
 

"My Letter to Fear" is a compilation of stories about what women worry about-- from relationships and career changes, to aging and anal bleaching, to worry itself. Some pieces will have you chuckling to yourself, some will have your eyes tearing up, and some will have you nodding along as if you're reading about your own life. In fact, it is impossible to read this book and *not* feel like at least one piece is written directly about or directed to you.

One stand out piece in particular includes three distinct characters within it: three women at drastically different numerical ages, as they and the reader come to realize their similarities despite assumptions based on outward appearance. Another is a letter talking about suing the makers of fairytales for false promises; another is about expectations one puts on one's self; another is a letter to a 10 year old self. All are reflective and therefore heartwarming, and heart-tugging, in nature.

Though "My Letter to Fear" takes on a wide range of ages and female perspectives within its pages, author Patricia Steffy manages to connect each individual one with a raw emotionality than lends itself to being universally relatable. Perhaps the best part about Steffy's writing, though, is that she knows how to end each "essay" style chapter on a resolved note for the story within while still leaving you wanting more of her voice and wit. 

"My Letter to Fear" is available in paperback or e-Book form now.

 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Informal Discussion about Fandom...

With all of the bad celebrity behavior in the news these days, from allegations against Woody Allen to Justin Bieber's...everything, I have been thinking more and more about what kinds of behavior we as a public excuse from celebrities. Some behaviors are criminal and aren't always entirely excused but perhaps still treated with more leniency than is deserved. Things get downplayed and downright defended. Some are social or sexual; some are political; some are just born out of ignorance or fame going to their heads. Aside from the courts and the media, the audiences-- the fans-- determine a lot about what is deemed "acceptable", and often times the results prove that celebrities get special treatment because the fans decide they are worthy of being put upon pedestals or because their work is just too pleasing, and they don't want to risk losing it. I am not here to make any judgements or assessments, but I can't help but be fascinated not only by what behaviors from favorite celebrities their biggest fans will defend or downplay and why but also where the dividing line is and what are the behaviors that cause a diehard fan to be unable to look at the celeb's body of work the same way. The whole "knocking off a pedestal" thing- whether your learn their fave celeb is an addict or an adulterer or just a bit insensitive-- what crosses the line, breaks your unspoken lust, colors your devotion, and ruins the enjoyment of being their fan? 

It doesn't always have to be the extremes of someone being accused of rape or murder or constantly caught by the cops for DUIs or in possession of an arsenal of weapons, heavy drugs, or for drag racing. It can be as simple as learning your favorite celebrity is anti-abortion when you believe every woman has the right to choose or for being anti-gay when you are gay yourself or have loved ones that are, or vice verse (maybe you're pro-life and the person keeps leading pro-choice rallies; maybe you believe only a man and a woman should be allowed to marry and this person does ads for NOH8 or GLAAD). Maybe someone is an addict, and you think addiction is a choice-- a bad choice. Maybe someone who seems to be in a serious, seemingly monogamous relationship is actually cheating on his or her significant other-- with pretty much everything that walks on two legs. Maybe someone is learned to be in an open relationship, and that's not something of which you approve. Maybe someone is verbally and emotionally abusive to his or her staff, driving employees by fear, firing those who don't stop what they're doing to say "Hello, good morning" when he or she enters the room, not allowing eye-contact with any below-the-line crew members, telling the female cast they will have weekly weigh-ins and anyone who doesn't lose weight will be written out. Maybe someone continuously refuses to sign autographs for fans or pose for photos. Maybe someone denounced a particular ship or pairing or interpretation of a singular character or event and therefore any and all fans who would feel that way. Maybe someone just presents the version of themselves they want to be to you, their adoring public, and are knowingly and willfully feeding you just another character.  

Are you suddenly seeing different themes or messages in their work or, are you just unable to look at their face the same way without it invoking newly conflicting feelings, and when?

Insert your individual favorite celebrity's name where the pronoun in each scenario above was. Now think about it again. Will it offer a deeper look into our own subconscious, tell us a little something about how far we will go for those we love and are attached to, despite not necessarily truly knowing? Will it matter? What should their obligation be? They signed up to create great work, not to be picked apart by the public. But by default, being in the public eye, they were also presented with a rare opportunity and somewhat of a responsibility to be worthy of the adoration the public will bestow upon them.

Many of the above scenarios are things you will never have to worry about because your favorite celebrity is not like that-- genuinely, truly. But many of the above go on every day and are just things you will never learn about because it gets decided that it is not relevant to those outside of the industry. But along the way, fans decide their own things about their favorite celebrities. They take the little information they do know about the person from promotional interviews, character traits from pieces of work they want to attribute to the real person behind said work, and social media pages and paint themselves the picture they want to see. They feel an ownership over the person, not just because the person is a public figure but in great part because they really did create the person-- at least the version of the person they are admiring. And so like any parent, they are defensive and they are loyal, but there's a flaw in any argument or any system that is only one-sided, and so I would imagine at a certain point it is no longer unconditional.

I personally believe that everyone is entitled to his or her own personal life and that only when their personal life is continuously brought to their work, getting in the way of the way they or their co-workers do their job should it become something that affects the way they work. But I am only human, and I fully admit that learning about trouble behind-the-scenes often affects whether I want to even watch a particular project because I don't want to reward or condone what I perceive as bad behavior. There have been quite a few things I have thought differently about after getting to know particular people involved. That's me, though. It's entirely subjective and personal. Which is why I am so curious about where others stand and where their individual tolerance lines are.

...
Feel free to leave some thoughts and examples of your own in the comments or email me through my Contact Me page. While I plan to use your answers as research for a longer upcoming feature, no one will be published without permission.


Let's All Learn From 'The Fosters' Today...

Last night ABC Family's The Fosters held such an honest and in this day and age brave conversation about differences of opinion and perceived bigotry. It couldn't have come at a more (completely coincidental) perfect time, either. The show was talking specifically about a character's discomfort with his daughter being a lesbian and marrying another woman, but the points they made are ones we should all take to heart when stirring a discussion or having a debate of any kind with someone who doesn't agree with our individual, particular point of view. In the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman's overdose (and you know what, in the wake of that Coca Cola Super Bowl commercial, too), there has been an incredible amount of insensitivity through social media and the more mainstream media in general. Today's technological world has given us all a platform to speak our minds at any given time, and often that creates a whole lot of snap judgements and noise that result in us yelling our opinions and perspectives at each other without listening to anyone around us at all.

The Fosters won't make a blip on today's morning television headlines. It's a shame, but it's because the show is too respectful and therefore really hard to argue with or get mad about. But the point they made and the perhaps inadvertent lesson they gave last night is one we all need to hear and take to heart today.

Stef and Lena were offered a free car by Stef's dad. Stef's dad is a gruff, somewhat old-fashioned man who refers to their relationship and his daughter's lesbianism in general as "a lifestyle". He was not comfortable with his daughter coming out years ago, and their relationship has been strained ever since. He was even uninvited from their wedding because Stef felt he didn't truly support her. And now here he was, trying to make amends the way he knew how or trying to buy her love (depending on who you asked) by offering a free car. The conversation that followed was not just about the car, though, but about the point of view and approach in general.

Lena: "Intolerance works both ways."

Stef: "I'm sorry, exactly how am I intolerant?"

Lena: "You're not, but you're operating under the assumption that we're right and he's wrong...From his perspective, he's right and we're wrong."

When we were in school, we were taught that the proper way to write papers was to present a clear and decisive thesis or argument and show evidence to support our side. It was a way to educate us and teach us how to formulate a logical, rational, calm thought. But we had to acknowledge the opposing argument, too, even if briefly, to explain why we believed our side was correct or more advanced; we couldn't just cross our arms over our chests and huff and yell that it was our way or no way and everyone who disagreed was wrong and worse, stupid for believing what they did. There are reasons people are ill-informed or old-fashioned in their beliefs. We don't have to like them-- after we hear the reasons we don't always have to respect them-- but we have to be willing to hear them in order for everything to be well-rounded.

We may not have to write thesis papers once we graduate (though I would argue that those of us who work in the media have more of an obligation than most to acknowledge multiple sides, sources, and comments), but that doesn't mean we shouldn't still apply the same parameters and principles to the conversations we have in our real, daily lives. Understanding the other side of the argument actually helps you further develop and firm up your own stance, but it also helps you understand your fellow human beings. We're all flawed, but if we could all work together toward being a little less ignorant, intolerance would slowly but surely start to slip away, too.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If A New Chapter Starts But No One's There To Watch It, Did 'Coven' Matter At All?...


Does anyone else feel like they just had their time wasted by American Horror Story?

I feel like Ryan Murphy and Co. got bored with their own story mid-way through the season and just delivered week after repetitive week of the same story with no stakes. It wasn't enough to blind Cordelia once; they had to do it again later. Literally every one of the potential Supremes (not to mention a few other key characters) were killed only to be resurrected. Even the shock value of the burning at the stake only worked the first time around. And what about the race relations between the witches? It didn't matter much in the end, now did it; it's not like Queenie overcame expectations or broke down barriers and earned that crowning. And for what? It took 13 episodes-- the entire course of the season-- just to learn who the next Supreme was, kick-starting what should be a whole chapter in the life of this coven. But why should we care when we don't get to see it?

The finale episode would have worked extremely well to set up another season-- one with a whole bunch of new witches learning to come into their powers, learning how to navigate the politics within the coven and with the council, learning how to thrive while not tempting Cordelia to turn into her mother too much. But American Horror Story is an anthology series, so Coven is one and done, not granting us the chance to watch anything actually happen with the coven itself-- especially now that the outside world knows about its existence in a way that should be threatening to at least a couple of those crazy religious groups that boycott everything from abortion clinics to gay marriages.

Coven as a season didn't feel arced out properly at all. If it had been, the writers surely should have come to the realization that nothing really (especially nothing that had lasting effects) was happening and moved up The Seven Wonders (test and episode) to mid-way through to actually allow to see the regime change. But it didn't feel like they even knew who they wanted their Supreme to be. The first episode seemed to promise the title to Zoey, but the show very quickly distanced itself from her individual journey. We as an audience got to care about Cordelia, especially in the wake of all of the blindings and her dysfunctional maternal relationships with both Myrtle and Fiona (and later her own maternal inklings towards the next generation), but we'd care more if she learned she was the Supreme and be awoken to all of the pressures and pain her own mother had been. 

How great would it have been to watch this over the course of the last few episodes? To have those Academy doors open to a wide variety of girls, any of whom posed a potential ally but also a threat to Cordelia? To see her struggle and perhaps succumb a bit to being the Supreme she never wanted to be, even if just out of fear-- to see her slip despite her immense power-- to see that there is still another generation under her with a Supreme in it and she has to suss out who it is to take true control-- those are all the things that would have highlighted her humanity that much more, not to mention provided real character turns, dramatic stakes, and yes a chance to see a wider emotional journey for a woman who forced herself to be a hero just because she came from a villain.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Another Year, Another (Old) Story...

A few years ago I wrote a story that helped me work through some stuff from my childhood. The story attracted some attention and helped me obtain an agent. As she shopped it around, I mentioned my love of pop culture, and her voice got much more excited about the possibilities of an essay-memoir project instead. They were really hot at the moment, and she encouraged me to work on one. I did. That was the book that ended up getting published first, while my other, initial story got pushed aside. 

That story is "pseudonym: a novel" and it has just (finally?) been published as an e-Book (it's just so easy to do so these days, I figured 'Why not!?')

It's only $2.99 on Amazon.com, but in case you need a little more about the story, the summary is below.

 
At the age of thirteen, Megyn Alessi lives a double life.
After witnessing the September 11th attacks first-hand, the precocious young woman retreats into her own little world online where she adopts the persona of a Hollywood television writer. She buries all of the things about her own life that she doesn't like and pretends to be someone else every afternoon after logging online after school. In one of those "sessions," however, she meets a guy named Chris, around whom she finds she can actually be herself. Realizing she has started their relationship as someone else and unsure of how to come clean to him now sets Megyn on an emotional journey on which she is forced to acknowledge that just because she can fool virtual strangers into thinking she’s older, doesn’t actually make her as mature as she likes to think she is.
 
Like everything I write, it's a coming of age story
 
 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

'We Have Thoughts': Picking Favorite (and Disappointing) Moments of Fall 2013...

It may be a new year, but We Have Thoughts isn't completely finished rehashing things that happened on television last year. A lot went down, okay!? So Marisa and I wanted to wrap up some of those thoughts with a little more flashcard fun. In our latest vodcast, we took some key categories and selected our favorites from this past fall season. What we selected was a surprise to each other as we chose in secret and revealed only on camera. Then we discussed why we made said selections and in a few occasions went into deeper discussion about the picks because we just had so many thoughts. With shows like Scandal, Arrow, Sleepy Holow, Homeland, and Once Upon a Time making the cut, though, you can probably see why!

Favorite Twist
Favorite New Show
Favorite New Character


Favorite Fall Finale 


Most Disappointing Show (Returning)


Most Disappointing Show (New)



What would you have selected? Leave your own thoughts in the comments below!


Friday, January 10, 2014

We Need to Change the Conversation...

Every TCA press tour there is at least one panel that sparks controversy amongst attendees and casual observers (via social media and publications' immediate posts). Only one day into this winter's tour, and we have already hit upon one-- but what is sure to be just the first of a few. Yesterday Judd Apatow, Jenni Konner, Lena Dunham, and the rest of the female cast of HBO's Girls took the stage at the Langham hotel in Pasadena to talk about the comedy, which is entering its third season. It is not as rare a luxury for returning shows to be presented at TCA in the world of cable, and therefore it is not uncommon for questions to be repeated or expanded upon from previous years, now with more content behind the production and more context for the person asking the question. Still, yesterday's Girls panel opener of what basically amounted to "Why all the nudity on the show?" from The Wrap's Tim Molloy set things off on a defensive tone for the panelists.



The way these TCA panels work is that a couple hundred critics, reporters, and bloggers (and yes, there is a distinction!) sit in a ballroom, press conference style, with the show's producers, writers, and cast on a stage. The TCA attendees raise their hands to have microphones brought over to them to ask their questions when they think of them. There is no order; there is no vetting of the questions beforehand; and often, there is no time for follow-ups as their is more than one microphone circulating the room and others are ready to pounce with their question often before the one currently being answered is even finished. A lot of times, the loudest person gets their question in, literally actually talking over others to be heard. With so many different publications being represented (trades to tabloids and everything in between), needless to say there are a lot of different agendas at play. There is often not a lot of flow to the way or when of the questions being asked, and it is not the time or place for thoughtful back and forth, in-depth discussion between the person asking the question and the person answering it. And that latter point is not just because of the questions but because of the panelists who are all there to smile and promote their new show, whether they actually like their new show or not and whether they plan to answer questions with anything other than pre-planned soundbytes or not.

With that kind of context for the situation, the way questions are answered (jokey, anecdotally, personally, politically, etc) do often have the most to do directly with the way the question was asked, though. Phrasing and tone are key, especially in a setting like the TCA press tour where you are not even allowed to clap as panelists take or walk off the stage because that could show bias.

As a somewhat casual viewer of Girls (I loved the first season but tuned out in season two when I realized I was not rooting for any of the characters), I have to admit when the show first started, I had questions for Dunham about her writer's process that were not dissimilar to what Molloy asked. We as an audience have been so trained by other, older films and television that on-screen nudity must be for a purpose, often simply just to get it past censors or even to get actors to agree to do it. It had to be "tasteful" or "artistic" or "pretty". Otherwise it fell into the "gratuitous" and oftentimes "salacious" camp, being done simply because it could or to let two usually classically attractive people roll around together. Things are different overseas, but in America, casual nudity was never commonplace, especially for female characters. But what this has taught us about nudity is that it may only be acceptable if it is a certain way, and that created a moment of jarring disconnect when a viewer first encounters something that doesn't fit into the traditional or stereotypically accepted molds.

Dunham utilizes casual nudity easily, often, and oftentimes seamlessly simply as tool to fully immerse the audience in the world of these characters. In a key scene in season three, Hannah (Dunham) is engaged in a conversation with her boyfriend and a house guest, but she is also getting ready for the next stage in the day, and in the middle of the conversation she strips off her shirt and slips on another. Not a word is said by any of the characters about this; their conversation continues on as normal. Had this happened in season one-- and when similar things did happen in season one-- I fully admit I would have been thrown by it-- by how free Hannah as a character was to do such a thing and by how accepting and used to it those in her life were to not remark about it while it was happening. While their responses (or lack thereof) say everything about the characters, even more can be said for the audience. 

In season one, the adjustment to casual nudity included moments of disconnect for me personally. I wasn't uncomfortable by it, but I was surprised by it. Simply not expecting it to come in the random moments it did often distracted from the story for a second while I looked for the other characters to be as thrown as I was. When they continuously and consistently were not, it was easy to slip into their frame of mind and no longer think about it in the same limiting ways. In many ways that was freeing and opened the door to a lot of realizations about what we have been trained to believe is "okay" or "acceptable" by societal and censorship standards-- after all, not that long ago seeing gay characters on television wasn't common either and the introduction of them certainly probably threw many viewers initially, but that doesn't mean they are not a part of life and don't deserve to have their stories told. It really was a can of worms that could be a couple additional blog posts long...

By utilizing casual nudity in the show, though, Dunham has asked audiences to accept something as "normal" and "regular" that for too long before had been used selectively and often strategically, to control and contain power. By season three, the fact that I no longer think twice about these instances of casual nudity means Dunham has done the job successfully. But as a writer myself, that doesn't mean there aren't still questions.

Now the questions that come to mind (for me) are process ones in the sense of how many of these instances are actually written into the script as specific, clear descriptions and actions Dunham plans out ahead of time for visuals versus things that just happen organically on set, in the moment of a scene because it feels real and right and natural for the character. Questions about why write a scene that takes place in a bathtub into the script in the first place-- is it just to reflect all aspects of reality (Dunham answered Molloy's question by saying that it's real to be nude, leaving me to assume these moments are just so natural in her own life she doesn't think twice about them the way so many of us do when viewing them), or is it to set a conversation in a new and somewhat unique location-- or is it even to more intentionally make a point to be with a character in an intimate situation? Questions about whether or not she has felt that divide of acceptance and understanding shift over the years. Questions about comparisons she may draw between different ways to express a character's self. Questions that give us peeks inside her brain and her unique brand of creativity that may not make us like her product more or less but certainly allow us to understand where she is coming from and why. We're all better off when information and inspiration is shared.

Unfortunately, that was not the way the question was posed in the room at TCA (and before you get up and arms and then say I should have raised my hand for the microphone-- I fully acknowledge that being in a room like that is not the way to get a real, deep conversation going). In fact, the way the question was posed may have proven how taboo or at least different and difficult casual nudity still is to many. Everyone doesn't have to love it, but the idea of limiting an artist's sense of storytelling just feels wrong (and archaic) on so many levels.

Hopefully what can come out of these stories that are more about this one reporter's take on Girls and Dunham rather than the show as a whole now is a discussion about how people are watching and responding to these things. After all, that matters just as much as the product itself.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

'We Have Thoughts': Reviewing Most Exciting Mid-Season 2013 TV...

Mid-season television has already begun premiering, so We Have Thoughts sat down to consider what new major network shows we are excited to watch over the next few months. Admittedly, not all of the upcoming shows were even available for review when Marisa and I sat down to film this, which was disconcerting for its own reasons, but it did severely limit our choices, so some of what we talked about was selected simply because we felt we had to select something. We weren't necessarily excited at all, which I guess broke our own rules about how we were supposed to make the selections, but either way, it doesn't bode well for what's new and upcoming this mid-season at all! ...Though I feel it important to point out there is a lot of great returning shows this mid-season, so it's not all bleak!

ABC (Killer Women, Resurrection)

CBS (Intelligence)


FOX (Enlisted)


NBC (About A Boy)


The CW (Star-Crossed, The 100)



What are you excited to watch in 2014?


Monday, January 6, 2014

The "Simple Pleasures" of 'Shameless' (Season 4 Preview)...

I usually don't worry about spoilers when it comes to Showtime's Shameless. Not because nothing happens in the episodes (actually quite the opposite; that show is on par with Scandal for amount of crazy crap these characters endure each week!) but because the network usually takes the term summary to heart with each episode description, going story by story and explaining exactly what's about to go down. And the best part is that even when you know exactly what's coming, you still get so much out of watching the episodes because it is how what happens (not the "what" itself) affects the characters that matters the most. You see it on their faces and you see it in their actions. But for season four, Showtime is being a bit more conservative with what they are putting out there pre-episode airing, so I, too, want to be careful about the details I give you before you watch. Because some things really are just extra juicy when you don't know they're coming (even if you suspect they might).



It is no secret that Fiona (Emmy Rossum) is the rock of the Gallagher family and in many ways the center of the show. Sure, there are a lot of them running around, and yes, they wouldn't be where they are-- or worthy of their stories being told-- without Frank (William H. Macy) being who he is. But Fiona has always been the most interesting enigma simply for the fact that she pulled herself up by her bootstraps and kept everyone together and alive-- and this season, even a bit thriving. She so easily could have just followed in her father's footsteps (it is literally in her blood after all) and dropped out of school to sit at a bar all day, leaving her little brothers and sister to fend for themselves. But she didn't. She stepped up as head of the household, as sole breadwinner, and as a maternal figure. And now, that is finally paying off for her.

Fiona is excelling at her new job at the cup company, on track for promotion, about to receiving full employee status, and yes, still dating her boss. But where she is doing well professionally, providing better food and clothes for the kids, she is still struggling personally. It isn't because she is still waiting for Jimmy/Steve (Justin Chatwin) to come back but because she doesn't really know what happened to him. She thinks he just left, which is just another tear in her fabric that's eating away on a subconscious level. Meanwhile, her new boyfriend is providing stability in ways she is not used to and therefore with which she is not quite comfortable. He doesn't know nearly as much about her as Jimmy/Steve did, and that's not just because the relationship is new but because they come from different worlds. Jimmy/Steve understood the Gallaghers because he was choosing to be a hoodrat in their world, rebelling from his upper middle class upbringing. If Fiona confides in Mike (Jake McDorman), his response is bound to be uncomfortable laughter when he thinks she's just messing with him and then silent judgement where he's weighing how much he likes her versus the red flags his own upper middle class upbringing has taught him she should be. Their relationship is still too new to be testing the waters with what she can get away, though (she wants to keep this one around for now after all), so instead of sharing, Fiona is just struggling alone. And her silence, even when she's in protector role (though who she is really protecting is herself), upsets Mike. Conflict and chaos are very different things, though, and normal people problems are a bore for Fiona, so she's just trudging along alone, not even sure at first what is wrong within her. But it is that lack of self-awareness that often later causes a spiral.

Fiona isn't completely alone physically (how could she be in that house, right?), but with the exception of Liam, the kids are all old enough that they don't need her the same way. Lip (Jeremy Allen White) stepped up last season to actually help her with money and Frank when things got tough, but now he's off at college and learning he's now a small fish in a big pond who has to actually work to get the things that used to come so easily. Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is gone, too, off in military training, though his family doesn't know that; they think he has just run away (another tear for Fiona, riiip). Kev (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) are dealing with their ever-expanding family and an additional financial burden they thought was going to be a blessing. Debbie (Emma Kenney), who just wants to grow up already, has a new group of friends from the neighborhood who have her dressing differently and doing everything to meet boys. Carl (Ethan Cutkosky) has always puttered around the neighborhood getting into trouble but now his focus is on Frank, who is dying but who doesn't want to give up his lifestyle just for a few extra months. More than ever, everyone has their own thing going on, and what is most interesting is that now we're getting a clearer sense of not whether nature or nurture is winning but who is letting one win over the other, even if they don't realize it. 

Fiona railed so hard away from Frank's lifestyle a few years ago not necessarily for herself but because there were little mouths to feed, but was she just fighting her own true nature and what may be inevitable? And without a similar burden, will Debbie go the other way? She's at that age where kids start experimenting, and though she should be more careful than most because of the addiction that runs in her family, it is doubtful anyone has explained such things to her. And if she (and Carl) are free to make their teenage mistakes when Fiona didn't, will that cause resentment? Or just a later in life rebellion for Fiona herself, who now sees the kids all grown enough that they may not need her the way they once did and now she wants to regain some of the youth (and therefore youthful mistakes) she missed?

So much of what the premiere of season four sets up is tragic for these young Gallaghers, but after three years of being with them through similar insanity, it is impossible not to want to give them all hugs and assure them they deserve to succeed, even if you're not quite sure they will. Personally I have this fear that they'll pull the whole soldier at the door "sorry for your loss, ma'am" thing with Fiona where they say Phillip Gallagher died in combat, and the family thinks it's some crazy mistake because they know Lip is at college-- while the audience knows it was Ian's fate. Fewer things more tragic than that, right? Season four really lays it on the line so that you're not sure any of them will succeed anymore, even though just an episode ago, you thought things were looking up. That is the beauty of this show, though: it can warm and break your heart so quickly, just like a real family. 

Everyone has their own storyline this season, and they're all meant to be humbling for the Gallaghers who really did manage to do the impossible for "just kids" with the hand they were dealt in life. But it is Fiona who is delivered a blow from Frank at the end of the second episode of the fourth season who will have the farthest to go. What he drops on her will, perhaps for the first time ever, make her start to think of the "what ifs?" that could have been for her life had she not had to step up to be the matriarch. And for a character who already feels lost without the usual brand of Gallagher-infused chaos, it might just be the thing that sets her off down a very Gallagher-like path.


'Revenge' Reduced Its Protagonist to a Prop...

The third season premiere of Revenge got me excited again about the show in a way I didn’t think possible after the scattered second season full of subplots that distracted from our flawed heroine, her mission, and the overall point of the show anyway. The third season premiere put Emily Thorne back where she belonged: front and center and going hard at the Graysons to finally bring her revengenda to fruition. But as any savvy TV watcher knows, if the show itself doesn’t have an end date, then the character can’t truly have one for her plans, either— at least they can’t march successfully to that end, anyway. And the fall finale set this up nicely by having Emily’s plot to fake her own shooting death turn into a very real shooting and near-death experience. It was full of delicate complications that left me wanting more right away, especially when it came to seeing how everyone reacted even while knowing how most would (they have been very clear cut character archetypes, after all). Unfortunately, though, the mid-season premiere of Revenge proved that delicate threads just unravel everything if not pulled with care.


Here’s why I am once again thinking about quitting Revenge:
  • An amnesia plot straight out of Nashville. Let’s face it, when a character experiences a trauma, the easy reach on TV is to have that character conveniently forget about it. It’s a reset of sorts, even if it is the cheapest and cheesiest of them. After all, the minute a smart and always in control even when wrong character loses that aspect about herself, she is vulnerable— not just to her enemies but also to her friends. Everything about her life can be manipulated based upon what others want for her, and she is no longer really an active character at all. Here there was amazing opportunity for that not only because the Graysons are the most manipulative bunch there is but also with the ones in her corner (Aiden, Jack, Nolan)— ones who at times have conflicted with her plan simply because of how narrow focused, dangerous, and anger-driven it is. Even Emily’s father wanted better for her, wanted her to move on, but she couldn’t. There was opportunity here, even if it meant having three men control Emily’s life which is never a good message, to at least have the discussion about what they should want Emily to remember and therefore what her life will be. If she remembered her alliances and relationships without all the trauma, pain, anger? Then maybe she really could sail off into the sunrise and be happy. But there was no time for such discussion here. The episode moved along at such a seeming-to-try-to-match-Scandal clip with reveals that we couldn’t linger with characters, and it was unfortunate because Emily deserves much more weight and respect than that. So my issue is not so much with the amnesia itself as with how much it was used as a mere story device to catapult a bunch of characters around Emily ahead of her to make her so vulnerable (we’ll get to this in more detail in a minute), while regulating our protagonist to a prop rather than a person, let alone the most important person on this show.
  • What the hell happened to Charlotte!? Just before the wedding Charlotte was scheming to break up Emily and her brother and yet after the fact, here is she by Emily’s bedside telling her how much she admires her and playing a loving friends and now family member. If the show wants to make Charlotte a baby Victoria, the writers are not doing a good job with making that clear; instead Charlotte just comes off as wishy washy and a bit bi-polar, latching on wherever she can for as long as she can, never seeming sincere. It feels like they don’t truly know who she is and are just making up her actions without motivations as they go along.
  • A return to the love triangle. Earlier this year we were promised the love triangle was dead, that Emily knew her true allegiances and her true love and her true mission. Jack was a childhood friend, the one who got away, a “what if?” that was full of pain and regret and innocence, while Aiden was the male version of Emily today, hardened and pained by tragedies of the past, focused and steadfast in their ruthlessness now. Daniel, was the one who could have been saved but proved himself unworthy (seriously, he is not a good guy; if he really wanted to do the honorable and responsible thing and turn himself in for shooting Emily, he would have just done that; he wouldn’t have told Victoria about it first. He knew she’d do anything to cover it up, and he could claim he tried to be noble but was thwarted by Mommy. He’s such a product of his environment I can’t stand him.). Everyone had their place in Emily’s life, and not everyone (audience included) liked it, but it was to be accepted as it was canon. But now the writers are returning to yet another soap opera (primetime or otherwise) trope of the triangle by having Jack be the one who pulled Emily out of her funk— in a very “true love’s kiss” kind of pure way. It gave the shippers the hope they needed to torture themselves further, even though Jack is so pure there are still so many things about who Emily has become he probably could not look past to truly be with.
  • Hamptons cops are morons. Look, anyone from New York has heard the horror stories about Hamptons cops being lazy or ineffective or on the take and always looking the other way when the rich and famous get into trouble. But here we had a boat full of these rich and famous people and a truly terrible thing happened and they’re just standing around taking people’s words for alibis without even doing the most basic forensic analysis like GSR tests? Come on, Revenge; you are asking us to suspend way too much disbelief for a show that’s not all that fantastical!
  • A cliffhanger that only caught a character up to where the audience— and the show— had been for the whole episode. I was left with a big feeling of “So what?” after Emily remembered things and told Jack who her shooter was. I had known who the shooter was since the minute it happened, of course, but over the previous 44 minutes while Emily was in the hospital, other key characters had learned the truth as well. In fact, the story was moving fast while Emily lay dormant— so fast that plans were in motion for cover ups and deeper connections were being made between Emily and Nolan and maybe even David Clarke. Everyone but Emily was active, and that moment at the end was meant for a sigh of relief that she finally remembered and things could get back to normal. But everyone but Emily was so active, any sigh of relief would have been extremely premature because she didn’t have anyone on the boat after she was shot or anyone in the Grayson manor as she was in the hospital; she has no idea just what has gone on or how many pieces are being put together or new plans are in play. She will be playing catch up for a while. As I mentioned before, that allows her to be vulnerable in a way that should be a fascinating challenge for the character, but it’s a way that is extremely frustrating for the audience who is ahead of her, too. She doesn’t just have to catch up (and then get ahead of, if she still has hopes of her revengenda succeeding) the other characters but the show itself. There can be fun in watching characters struggle— especially the ones who are so out of their element while doing so that it adds new layers and colors to their complexity— but is not fun to be so far ahead of the story you’re just sitting around waiting for that character to get to where you already are and have been for quite some time. Emily was always the perfect protagonists because she was commanding and in charge and learning things along the way that may made her question or detour or bring others further in. But she’s no longer “in the know” and without the power seat, it’s hard to see her as a protagonist at all but rather part of an ensemble, someone who really needs to rely on those like Aiden and Nolan and Jack, just for the most basic of information. It’s a real blow to what was once a strong female character.