I knew Michael’s winning streak wouldn’t last very long. Read my Jane the Virgin Chapter 27 recap!
What’s between snowflakes and flower petals? Maybe rain, baby tears? Whatever it is, Jane is in that in between state now. Neither Michael nor Rafael have come away with her affection, because she’s realized she should focus all of that affection on Mateo.
This week’s Jane the Virgin review is up over on Just About Write!
In addition to raving about the episode and the differences between Team Michael (Team Snowflakes) vs Team Rafael (Team Flower Petals), I discuss the small ways in which series creator Jennie Urman empowers women in all aspects of her show. From it being a woman-led series, to she herself being the showrunner, Urman also laces the Miami telenovela industry with powerful women. Here’s a screenshot of what I wrote:
It’s important for shows that proclaim powerful women or proclaim diversity also show it behind the scenes. Practice what you preach.
How is every single episode of Jane the Virgin a delight to watch, but also heartwrenchingly emotional? This week was no exception. As usual, it ran me through the gamut of emotions, from joy that Jane got into grad school, anger over everything related to Petra, relief that Rafael is telling the truth, confusion over being Team Rafael when Michael is also so wonderful, and the buckets of tears produced at Mateo’s baptism. Let’s swim through this sea of emotions together!
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I fell in love with an extraordinary number of new characters this TV season. Looking back in the ones I loved or connected with the most, I decided I’d make a list of my favorite new characters from this TV season. Once I made my list, I realized that they were all people of color. This was not on purpose, but it delights me greatly.
Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) ⇒ The Flash
When Caitlin and Cisco guest starred in Arrow on season two, I didn’t care about them. I couldn’t really grasp who they were or connect with them at all. Once The Flash started, however, they quickly came into their own and Cisco proved to be one of the seasons funniest and savviest characters. I think what draws me to Cisco is the same thing that draws me to characters like Abed Nadir from Community or Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock. All of these characters are like me: pop culture savvy, people who make references to movies and TV on a daily if not hourly basis and are always looking for the hope and the humor in life. Cisco, by nature of his pop culture obsessed nature, is one of the meta characters on the show, the fact that he has recently been revealed to be a metahuman makes that even more meta. All things I love.
How do you not love him?
Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) ⇒ iZombie
iZombie’s Ravi is the most recent addition to this list, but definitely a character I want to protect at all costs. (Being that it’s a zombie show, all characters run the risk of dying, but don’t do it to Ravi!) I think what first struck me about Ravi was his loyalty. He meets Olivia Moore, this weird girl who used to be an ER doctor, and when he discovers her secret, he doesn’t tell anyone, not even her. He vows to keep her secret and help find a cure for zombieism with no personal gain. His immediate loyalty to both her and Major is extremely endearing. He’s also snarky, has fantastic hair, a great accent, and looks great in a suit. I hope season two provides for Ravi backstory and opportunities for Liv and Major (and Peyton?) to return the loyalty favor.
It’s hard to introduce a new character when your show is 11 seasons in, but Grey’s Anatomy manages to consistently add new characters and have fans come to love them. One of the first things I loved about Maggie was her hair. As a natural black girl myself, seeing curls like hers on TV is always a delight. I was hesitant about her character, as she was introduced so soon around Cristina Yang’s exit—I feared they would try to replace Cristina in Meredith’s life, especially once you find out she is her sister. And while Maggie is slowly plugging the hole that Cristina (and now Derek) left in Meredith’s life, she isn’t trying to replace her. She is her own character who interacts with Meredith in a different way, a way that Meredith needs now that she’s lost those who were previously so close to her. Maggie brings loyalty (have I mentioned I love loyalty in fictional characters? Because I do.), a willingness to be there no matter what the question (her offer to babysit Mer’s kids), and a somewhat normal family background. She’s also awkward, nerdy (she’s an expert crossword puzzle solver—a cruciverbalist), and she’s interested in helping other people. These are all wonderful qualities and I can’t wait to get to know Maggie more.
You’re too good for this hospital, Maggie. Save yourself!
Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) ⇒ Jane the Virgin
Ask anyone who’s seen Jane the Virgin and they will extol the wondrous and many virtues of Gina Rodriguez. You’ve probably seen the think pieces, her Golden Globes speech, and her (amazing) Emmy campaign poster by now, so you know that she and her character Jane are well loved across the TV fandom. Nearly everything about Jane makes me love her (even her faults, because they are things I relate to), but the things that I might love most include the fact that she’s a writer (who is still trying to figure out her writing path), she’s loving to her mother and grandmother, she’s funny, she shops at Target, and she fearless even in her insecurites. Even if Jane is unsure, she determines to find out the answer, to become sure. She does her research, but she also listens to her heart. She allows herself to cry and still know that she is strong. She’s a great model for young female characters. I am so glad we have Jane.
I hope we get more rapping Jane in Season 2.
Diane Johnson (Caila Marsai Martin) ⇒ blackish
Kids on TV are hard to cast. Sometimes they can be seen as annoying or too sweet or unrealistic. blackish’s Diane Johnson defies these challenges. She’s cute but she’s smart, she’s fierce but she’s relatable. She’s funny but not in an annoying way. I love that Diane speaks her mind. That she’s smart and knows it and doesn’t back down or apologize for it. I love that she realistically puts down her twin brother, but won’t let anyone else mess with him. I love that she scares Charlie. Also I love her dimples and her sass and her glasses and the way her hair is different in every episode and that once they even put her in a headscarf (because Lord knows she’d need to wear her headscarf in order to keep those barretts in place at night). Diane is shaping up to be a fantastic person and I am so excited to see her grow older.
Love how semi-neatly she’s making it rain.
Emery & Evan Huang (Forrest Wheeler & Ian Chen) ⇒ Fresh Off the Boat
I think Evan and Emery Huang come as a package deal for me. They’re both adorable and it would be easy for them to be written similarly (especially in their contrast to Eddie and especially due to their closeness in age), but the show gives them distinct personalities that still have an opportunity to shape and grow.
Emery gets all the girls and is clearly sweet to them and his family.
Evan uses his cuteness to get away with everything, including his sharp tongue, and he’s well aware that that’s what he’s doing.
Both boys are smart and funny, the actors have excellent comedic timing. I can’t wait to see who they become as characters because they’re so young that they can still change and grow depending on the writing.
Who were some of your favorite new characters this TV season?
I wrote the following for the #EWCommunity, to share some shows that have made me smile even half as much as Parks and Rec did. There aren’t many, but click through for some shows that celebrate optimism, love, and friendship.
Parks and Recreation was lauded for its combination of comedy and earnest sweetness. The people of Pawnee, Indiana, are “first in friendship, fourth in obesity,” and they proved the former to us for seven seasons. The characters love each other, love the work they do (even as underappreciated public servants), and taught us to celebrate Galentine’s Day, waffles, and ourselves (Treat yo’ self!).
Very few shows allow themselves as much happiness as Parks and Recreation did. So many shows are gritty and dark, or concern us with which major character is being killed off this week. Nothing is wrong with that; I love a lot of shows that raise my blood pressure in a very real and probably unhealthy way. But sometimes you need to balance it out with shows that make you smile every single time you watch an episode. Parks and Recreation was one of those shows.
Now that it’s gone, I want to reflect on other shows that celebrated friendship, love, and optimism, and were unafraid to be bright spots in a cynical and dark world. There aren’t many, but here are a few shows that exemplified a few of the qualities that made us love Parks so much:
Happy new year! Start off the year with some cool articles I found last year (ok, like three days ago):
In typical #Clicks fashion, I start off with a Jane the Virgin article. This one, by author Daniel Jose Older, praises Jane for being “unapologetically Latin” through it’s use of Spanish “without without issue or apology.” Older ends with this: “Art is at its best when it refuses to translate itself or cater to the lowest common denominator,” which, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see is similar to my favorite quote from The West Wing, “It’s not our job to cater to the lowest common denominator, it’s our job to raise it.” And of course he’s right. There’s a lot of talk about the global success of different genres of movie and TV shows. It’s something to think about when talking about how black films or POC centered TV shows do overseas, because a lot of times, those shows are given so many US-centered guidelines that of course they don’t do well overseas. They’re not authentic in their presentation. If black media, or Latino media were more like Jane the Virgin, “unapologetic” in the way they talk about and express their culture, they might do better overseas. People respond to truth and authenticity and can see through a false construct built by meddling executives who think they know how to sell any story, as long as it’s done their way. This article at Refinery 29 is about the head of original content at Hulu, Beatrice Springborn. She actually started in TV pretty late, having started her career in Journalism out of school. Places like Hulu and Pixar (which she also worked for) are sort of like what it sounds like to work at a place like Google or Apple. Aka, sounds like a dream!
Fun fact: On Sunday at 7pm I will be co-hosting a podcast with the kids from the show blackish. I’m super excited, they’re such cute and talented kids! In this article, the author writes about how the blackish family resembles her own.
[M]e being wrapped up in kente cloth is a thing that happened.
It’s so important to have a black family back on television. I could be wrong, but wasn’t Everybody Hates Chris the last network TV show with a family? If not, it’s still been few and far between. ABC’s last black family was My Wife and Kids (right?) which ended in 2005. As the author mentions, she and many viewers see themselves in various parts of the Johnson family. Shared experiences from childhood or finally understanding where her parents’ mindset was coming from when they made the choices they did. But it’s not just important for adults to see themselves on TV (which is certainly is). It’s a show you can watch as a family and it represents differences in generation when it comes to all kinds of things, like technology and social media but also the obvious differences in dealing with race. The blackish kids give their kid viewers people to relate to (barring any future child star problems of course). Just as I looked up to Olivia from The Cosby Show as looking similar to me while also hanging out with her funny, jazz loving grandfather, kids today finally have some peers to look up to. I hope blackish inspires more black families on network television (remember that not every family has access to cable, even today), so that more kids (and adults like us of course) have more families like their own representing them on television.
It’s stated all the time that we’re in a “golden age” of television, where there is a lot of high quality content and things are changing and evolving dramatically. Ad Week went over 5 ways in which the TV landscape has changed in 2014, including the expansion of the Neilsen ratings system to finally include new media, really good new media content (“We saw the first crop of streaming shows as good as premium cable.”), and a decline in reality TV ratings (praise emoji!).
TV is formula. I know this and Noah Charney over on The Atlantic is learning this. People always say to just sit down and write, but I need formula. Formula isn’t bad. One you learn a formula, if you’re the rebellious type, then you do what you want and break the formula. But I need structure when I write. I’ve been learning that my problem with actually sitting down to write is that there are too many possibilities. I am overwhelmed. So I come up with one way to tell the story, but then am paralyzed because what if another way is better? What if I get seven pages in a things aren’t working, do I start over with another direction? Or just go back a page and change things there? There are too many possibilities. Charney’s article breaks down the sitcom into bits and pieces and uses my current favorite sitcom as an example. (I need to compare this article to my 2/3rds written Parks and Recreation spec script and see if I can finally figure out Act 3, even if the show isn’t usable as a spec anymore.) Finally, here’s some much needed inspiration on actually calling myself a writer:
When can you call yourself a writer in private?
Now. Absolutely right now.
Tell yourself in the mirror before you brush your teeth, then again when you’re driving home from work.
Say it so many times that you get exasperated looks from your spouse. Heck, get business cards printed, too. [<– totally did that!] When can you call yourself a writer in public?
The answer to this question is also now — but this is a different matter altogether. The reason you want to take this step immediately in public is to apply pressure to yourself. [<– Mhm! The pressure is real! And works!]
The author goes on to say, “So don’t refer to yourself as a writer in public until you have a plan to deal with follow-up questions.” Those questions include: “What are you working on?” “Where can I read it?” He says to be confident, if you’re not confident in your answer to these questions, then you’re not ready to call yourself a writer in public.
[T]he sooner you start calling yourself a writer in private and in public, and the sooner you create a website and business cards, the sooner you will realize your career choice is a serious endeavor and demands your time and attention.
And that is what will drive you to sit down, put in the hard work and create.
That’s why I changed the name of my blog and made the business cards (I need new ones with my updated URL, but I still have so many of the old ones!), I am trying to treat writing as a serious venture, worthy of my time and attention, which will (and has) inspire me to write more and more and more.
Hmm, this week’s clicks gave me a lot to talk about. These weekly articles are a great way to get me writing and discussing things that I might not have otherwise. Happy 2015!
In which episode two exceeds episode one in humor, telenovela plots, characterization, and how much I wrote about it.
It also proves this gem:
“Didn’t you get my text?” “No, I didn’t. I have too many phones. If it’s important, the best way to reach me is through Twitter.”