Archivo de la categoría: Mixology

TV and the new depiction of masculinity.

It’s true, we’re really living on the golden age of television. A golden age where we’re able to enjoy new ways of telling stories and where we can take pleasure on a certain variety  of alternative platforms to binge-watch our favorite show, or even get to know  their very own stellar productions (such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon), and yet, nothing has drawn more my attention  than an interesting development on  characterisation of masculinity upon  male protagonists.

Nowadays, we’re more than wont  to have an stereotipical male figure on TV and films that will gladly shove down our throats his socially constructed ideas of what it really is to be man; let’s make a list of all them, shall we? A man has to be strong, powerful and dauntless, he also has to provide for his family (mostly for his selfless wife) and never (at all cost) shed a single tear  for nothing and no one. A dude with this ideals will always have the power to overcome any problem without showing neither harm nor weakness. He will always be a manly man.

Fortunately, we’re kicking off a new era, one where this stereotipic ideas are really worn out. You just have to turn the TV on to come across a whole new badge of glorious male characters depicting a new way to see masculinity. From Catastrophe to Kevin From Work, from Man Seeking Woman to Master Of None, even You’re The Worst, all acting out new ideals, breaking paradigms and demolishing old preconceptions of manhood.

The men depicted on this shows are not afraid to show his feelings (what a travesty!) and, above all, they’re used to talk about them (double travesty!), they’re also allowed to feel vulnerable and to show this side of their being without remorse or self-deprecation (The travesty apocalypse is upon us!).

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 We get to see how a sensitive guy as Rob cares so much about pregnant girflriend Sharon’s feelings in spite her constant and utter denial of it on Catastrophe. The same thing happens on Man Seeking Woman, when main character Josh fantasies on meeting the perfect girl for him even though his heart is completely broken after his girlfriend left him for another guy. Even Jimmy, from You’re The Worst, has to show his true colors as he is being supportive when his girlfriend Gretchen falls through the black hole of clinical depression.

It really is a delight to come across such enlightning, enthralling and enriching new ways of portraying masculinity. We’re not empty vessels ready to be filled up in real life. Us men should, and must look for, and look up, another masculinities. Those that really defy our way to see life.

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That’s why I, for one, was more  than excited to welcome Kevin’s best friend, Brian, crying his heart out for the loss of the girl he thought was his true love on Kevin From Work and, even better, having an enthralling chat about his feelings, that doesn’t seem contrived at all, with his best friend while drinking some tea. Before this, I was really starting to worry that we’re going to be cursed with the perpetual, and godawful idea, of portraying men as a nonchalant non-crying Rambos.

I even get more excited when I stumble upon Dev, from Master Of None, trying to understand the way his girlfriend felt when she was mistreated by his boss after being totally polite to him. In fact, Aziz Ansari (creator and main character of the show) takes his time to tackle the clear differences between the inequal ways society treats men and women as a main theme on one episode of season one.

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So yes, I do know we will always have Rambos, Terminators and Conans The Barbarians to look up when its needed, but they’re not the only (and necessary) depiction of masculinity that the world needs. They’re the ones that the world want us to be.

Men in real life do have feelings in spite all the constant reminders, and reproachs, to not doing it so. Role models are everywhere too, we just have to look for those that matches with our way of seeing things and not by the ones who are trying to define us.

 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: Or how to do a great musical sitcom.

It’s well known that cinema and television have been blended since the dawn of entertainment -figuratively speaking-, to produce all sorts of musical theatre adaptations.  Nowadays, we’re pretty much used to watch musical numbers  on TV and on big screens.

From Barbra Streisand to  Idina Menzel, ‘Glee’ to ‘Smash’  -even a special musical entry on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’- we’ve seen a handful of musical stories, lovely voices and passionate lives grow, and thrive, in order to enthrall TV and film audiences.

For a musical theatre fan, as myself, musicals aren’t just a tawdry representation of a bunch of people bursting out in a song for no good reason. No, musicals are more than this. They are the most utter depiction of our exhilaration to feel and express something so big that simple words can’t. Music makes us feel the same way feelings make us think about music. Music and feelings are forever linked.

Just think about every broken heart you’ve lived. Every laughter. Every promotion. Every downfall in your life. I bet there is a song that reminds you of it. And that’s fine. That’s the most human thing to do.  Musicals delves into this very idea.

So, you could imagine how excited I was when I’ve heard that The CW was going to produce a musical-themed TV show starring  Rachel Bloom (Youtube musical geek). I was literally screaming to the TV out of excitement. And, dear lord, was I right about it.

‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ narrates the life of Rebecca Bunch, a twenty-something lawyer living in New York. She, as any other musical theatre fan, likes to see everything behind a musical lense. So, when her ex-boyfriend Josh reappears in her life only to tell her he’s moving away the next day to a city on California named West Covina (only 2 hours from the beach; 4 with traffic!), she, naturally, decides it’s a great idea to do so. Whilst singing a song.

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From Rebecca’s point of view, every decision she makes is not (at all!) related to the fact that she’s still in love with Josh (at all!). Therefore, abandoning everything from her previous life to start a new one, in a city that she barely knows, it’s a totally plausible  thing to do within the context of her contrived yearning to do some changes in her life. The fact that her ex-boyfriend lives in the same city is just a simple (and very convenient) coincidence.

Thus, understanding this premise, we have the privilege to see through her life’s behind the scenes. Where  everything it’s perfectly (and wonderfully!) fine whilst all her cracks are hidden behind a riveting facade of happines and (false) confidence embedded with her constant need of self-deprecation.

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You see, Rebecca needs to sing in order to convince herself she’s doing the right thing; to assure  she has control over her life. Her constant need to burst out in a song is the only way she can accept the woeful reality upon her constantly smashing into her face. Singing is her way to become bystander of her own life. And that’s really the beauty of it. Music in ‘Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’ allows us to learn more about her than any other aspect of the show.

Rebecca sings about the smiling skies of West Covina whilst “this guy Josh” also happens to live there. At the same extent, she serenades her sweet “girl crush” on Josh’s girlfriend whom she only wants to lock in the basement with a soundproof wall and take over her identity.

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The introvert quirky lawyer, who doesn’t sings on a daily basis, is that part of Rebecca that everybody in the show knows. Not the real one. Her cracks won’t be visible to us until she (or any other person) start to sing out of nowhere. It’s really in that moment when we can quite see through her insecurities, fears, hopes and dreams. That’s when we’re allowed to poke around her mind.

Rebecca isn’t different from any of us, really. Whereas we all use all sort of mechanisms, to some extent, to run away from our realities and problems, she draws uppon music and long colorful sequences to quench all her demons. And on that precise moment is when we, as an audience, are capable to see  that the show is really hitting the bull’s-eye.

Ryan Murphy: The sloppy king of shock value moments.

There was, once upon a time, a -glorious- time when Ryan Murphy’s shows had a sense of cohesion and coherence. Characters were -more or less- taken seriuosly, narrative had -some- interest on putting story before shock value, and social statements were meant to tell something beyond the obvious.

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It feels like so long ago when we first enjoyed Glee’s  former season quirckness, or American Horror Story: Murder House’s simplicity. When characters depicted real-ish people and not cartoons of themselves.

How can we forget gleeful (sorry) charaters, as Rachel Berry, bare her soul with an anthem, without making a drama about it? How can we erase of our minds troubled individuals, such as Tate, managing the moral conundrums they always bump into, on American Horror Story: Murder House, without the  constant need to make a blood bath about it? (there’s literally an episode named like that).

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Nowadays, there’s not even a reminiscence left of what could’ve been Murphy’s (and Co.) path of glory. He, like every other director/writter/producer/entrepreneur that have had the opportunity to fly near the sun, fell off quickly. And I mean, really quickly.

And I get it, there’s really no easiest way to make it to the top than to be on everybody’s mind and conversations, I really do. But, in order to make great TV, the whole show has to be grounded onto something palpable, not onto one-liners, shock value moments or gruesome scenes.

At this day, theRyanverse is full of contradictions and incoherent displays. Therefore, it’s perfectly logical – and super funny- to mock people with disabilities in order to make a statement of not mocking people with disabilities (I know, right?) the same way is somewhat reasonable to victimize a not-so-helpless minority before giving a speech about the wrongs of unequal minority treatment.

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You just have to take a look to his recent ouevres from, at least, the last five years to identify his distinguished blatant speech: Cheesy over the top nonsense looking for shock value to feed uncomfortably unconscious audiences.

Really, there’s no need to portray a series of appaling moments, on a tv show -as Murphy, clearly, tries to do on everyhting he touches- to keep an audience watching your show. I mean, yeah, it’s funny and quite fascinating to get a little startled, once in a while, with some disturbing scenes, but not on a daily basis and, surely, not in every sequence of your story.

No, Ryan, you don’t have to show us graphic scenes of a murderous doctor sawing the legs of an unfortunate prostitute to help us understand the consequences of violence, nor do you have to condemn drugs by showing us a junky being raped, after getting high, with a drill, by a faceless monster . It’s excesive, it’s tacky and it feels really worn out.

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It only seems that these group of people are more concerned into making a perfect ‘gifable’ moment before a grounded, hell, decent story.

Yes, we live on that age when technology has surpassed us, but that doesn’t mean that our stories have to depend entirely on social media responses and conversational topics. Great stories are always made with the perfect combination between jawdropping moments and well written arcs.