Archivo de la categoría: Hablemos Seriamenta

Abortion and the decision to be a mother on TV shows.

I think there’s something wrong with our society when, still nowadays, people aren’t able to talk openly of abortion without being subjected to a reprimend. It doesn’t matter if you are in favor or against it, people still would snap out of their minds with the very mention of it and this needs to change.

Women are still having -and will keep having- abortions wether people like it or not, it’s a fact. Our responsability, as active members of a society, is to dig in into this controversial -and troublesome- ideas, no matter how (un)comfortable that makes us feel.

We need informed people, we need individuals to be confronted head on with this subject now more than ever, because we can’t keep avoiding it. Abortion is part of our reality and we need to see that. Wee need to accept that and carry on with our lives.

Lately, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to know that TV shows had surpased us on this very subject. Just last year, I’ve came across with four shows that aired different episodes with a variety of colorful stories were abortion has been treated like it is, a  non-judgmental day-by-day decision made by women about her own bodies. Sometimes accompanied by their partners, other times, alone.

Take Bojack Horseman for example, not only did they succesfully managed to make an entire episode (Brrap Brrap Pew Pew) devoted to treat the subject from diferent angles -controversial song included- but it also singlehandedly managed to create an enthralling story for Diane in which she decides to have an abortion with the full support of his boyfriend, Mr. Peanutbutter, and with no regrets whatsoever.

Within Bojack Horseman‘s world, abortion is a delicate topic to engage with too, thus, women are also demonized. What’s refreshing is the much human take of the situation. There is this strong and confident woman who’s not ready -or doesn’t want – to have a child and her life partner is, nonetheless, by her side all the time. Talk about relationship goals.

Something similar happens in a stelar episode (When Will Josh And His Friend Leave Me Alone?) of the wonderful second season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, when Paula finds out that she’s pregnant right after receiving the news that she was accepted to study law in order to follow her dreams of becoming a lawyer.

And the show comes up with an interesting take on the matter and certainly one that a lot of women has to deal with in any given moment in their life: how much self-sacrifice should women have to face in order to achieve their dreams? What happens when life gets in your way? What you shoould do? How it will affect your life and the way everybody sees you?

The answer is, and as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend perfectly sums it up, to go on with it, whatever the finally decision is or would be. Eventually, she decides to go on with the abortion, with her husband by her side, holding her hand and taking care of her. Paula already has two kids and a prominent future looking right at her, waiting for her.

As we can see, motherhood is not, and shouldn’t be, an obstacle in one’s life.  Motherhood it’s neither a burden every women has to carry on their shoulders, nor an obligation that should be imposed on their lives.

This is something that crosses Lindsay’s mind on a poignant episode of You Are The Worst (Talking To Me, Talking To Me) when she is met with a crossroad deciding if she wants to go on with her pregnancy because she really wants to have a baby or just because it’s what her husband needs to be happy.

As an audience, we’re aloud to see through the cracks of Lindsay and Paul’s relationship. They are -and had been- together more out of a rutine than by a shared sense of love or mutual respect, for that matter; and, as later Lindsay realizes, a baby will no help improve it either way. They are not meant to be together, pregnancy aside or not.

Lindsay, as immature and impulsive as she is, ends getting the abortion without consulting it with his husband. Eventually he learns about it and, after a big fight, he too acknowledges that even a baby would not save their relationship.

The series is so nuanced and invested on telling this story, that they manage to make a powerful argument with it: being a mother is, as any other aspect in life, a decision that needs to be made, not by others, but by the couple involved; and, first and foremost, by the woman herself.

Fiona Gallagher, the matriarch and the (somewhat) moral compass of the Gallagher family in Shameless US has to make the same decision on an episode (NSFW) of the sixth season. After she learns she is pregnant she decides, with the help of her boyfriend, to have an abortion. As we can see throughout the whole episode, they are not ready to have a kid, nor they want to.

Praises aside, these four bold series have managed to do what any other show couldn’t, treat abortion not as the main event of an episode, but rather as a part of each of their characters’ stories. By not making a big fuzz about it, they’re really changing the way we should be treating the subject, like a life decision more than a game changer.

One Remake At A Time

There is no rulebook for a perfect time to premiere a TV show, but, if it were, then the new Netflix series One Day At A Time would’ve ticked all the boxes. In an era where remakes are around the corner, this particular TV show, even though is a remake of the 1975 classic, feels particularly fresh and very aware of the context its living in.

I don’t think that the showrunners, Gloria Calderón Kellet and Mike Royce, would have pictured this particular show as a remedy for the Post-Trump election audience, but it sure feels like it. In this day and time, there’s nothing more radical than a TV show starring a cuban veteran nurse of Afghanistan living in Los Angeles and trying to raise her two kids with the help of her mother, as the life of Penelope Álvarez in One Day At A Time.

Granted, the very idea of the selfless single mother navigating through the challenges of life, has been made countless of times both in movies and TV shows, but, and this is what it makes this serie so profoundly adequate, they have never focused the attention on the challenges of being a woman, specially an immigrant.

Focusing the narrative only on the problems of motherhood without understanding what’s like to be a woman, and on the essence and construction behind a woman’s perspective, has always been an usual problem on stories like this. They have been telling us that motherhood (and especially single motherhood) is something inherent to womanhood, something to suffer about, to embrace as something women must own.

Netflix’s One Day At A Time understands this particular issue and depicts it on a whole new view, by building their characters from scratch. Yes, Penelope is a single mother of two, but in no way the series confines her to portray only that role in her arc. She also is a nurse, a veteran, a divorced woman, a daughter and a single lady looking for love.

Of course that she has problems raising her kids by her own, but what’s really meaningful about this show is that her role as a mother is not the one that is carrying the story along. Her collected experiences as a woman living in the USA are the real focus, motherhood just happens to be one of them.

The same thing happens with the depiction of her mother Lydia and Penelope’s daughter Elena, they are both full and well-rounded characters with their own opinions and agency, trying to understand what does it means to be a woman nowadays. Thus, the more profound and enjoyable episodes are the ones that keeps challenging each and one of their personal opinions with the ones around them, and specially with each other.

Lydia is a catholic woman who migrates to USA in the midst of Castro’s goverment looking for a new place to call home, Elena, on the other hand, is cuban girl born in the United States with a particular interest on social challenge and new ways to improve the world she lives in. They both understand life differently, but because the great love they share, they are capable of grasp their opinions and respect each other.

The show not only finds many ways to give her women a voice, but it also manages to put it front and center with a handful of serious debates, that the characters have in each episode, around women’s rights, sexism, religion, lesbianism and gender pay gap. Make no mistake, giving this women her own voice and agency in no way means that the male roles are overshadowed by them, if anything, it helps them to be portrayed in a happier and more fulfilling light.

One Day At A Time makes an incredible effort to present flawed but caring men, that are usually influenced but not defined by toxic masculinity, capable of having profound discussions about homosexuality, mansplaining and sexism without being subjected or depicted as the villains of the story. Something that, at least in my case, helped me to confront the social perspective around of what’s really like to be a man nowadays.

It feels quite refreshing to find a TV show, with the narrative structure of a sitcom, capable of going to the places that even some serious series hadn’t had the nerve to go. Because in a world full of remakes, the ones that are here to propose instead of playing common patterns are the ones that are more likely to succeed.

 

 

 

 

 

The TV-obsessed-guy’s guide to enjoy Peak TV

We live on an incredible era, one era where audiences  have the opportunity to navigate through countless channels and streaming platforms for them to choose from a innumerable amount of shows that are constantly delving through important issues, like mental illness, gender, race, consent, identity and love, along a great variety of genres and situations. Yes, we are living in one era  that many people are calling ‘Peak TV’.

These days —mostly thanks to the elevated costs of movie tickets and the so called “lack of originality on Hollywood” that is been going on— people are consuming and relying much more in TV shows than in cinema.

Each new year we get a handful of new  (and interesting) shows waiting to be devoured by its audiences. Naturally,  it’s physically impossible for an actual human being to consume so many hours of  new and old TV whilst succesfully managing to maintain a job and a social life.

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There are so many TV shows and not enough time to weigh in on all the options. Every day I constantly find myself asking a lot of questions: Is this show gonna be worth of my time? Am I going to enjoy it? The premise looks fine, but, is it original enough? Does the characters look interesting?

If you ask yourself the very same questions every time you want to catch on with a TV show, then we share the same problem, but fear no more! I have some useful tips for you! Follow me through and by the end of this post you will be able to decide which show is worthy of your time and which one isn’t.

  1. Spring, summer and fall TV

The first thing you need to know before picking up the shows you are going to watch is that TV scheduling is really weird.  You either could wait for one or two, even three, years between season or you could watch two seasons of the same show on the very same year, something that happened with Shameless US this year.

Much of the time this has to do with network budgets ans the actor’s free time to wrap up a season. Benedict’s Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman’s busy schedules are the reason why Sherlock’s seasons have so many years of separation within each other.

But some other times this often happen due season’s scheduling. Typically, the networks distribute their shows between spring, summer and fall. The latter is always destinated for the most watched and rated shows, whilst the former and the one in the middle are more prone to be used to premiere risky shows. That way, you could only catch American Horror Story  on fall TV and Girls on spring TV.

My advice here is to never forget this scheduling, that way you could watch tons of different shows between seasons without missing the ones you are more interested about. Search for awesome new options and prioritize them between each season.

2. TV previews

If you follow any platform that is dedicated to write about pop culture, TV and movies you already should know that they usually post their TV previews before the beginning of each new season. Seize it.

What I tend to do is to look after this lists to search and select the shows that will draw on my attention. Entertainment Weekly and Filmschoolrejects are the ones that I am more prone to check and the ones that are most likely to be very helpful with their shows summaries.

3.  Helpful apps

I know, keeping up with a lot of shows could be a bit overwhelming and it could turn out to be a really difficult  task to accomplish. Notwithstanding, there’s a really useful life hack that has made my binge-watching experience a lot easier: Apps.

There’s actually a full catalogue of helpful apps made with the sole purpose of organizing and scheduling the shows you’re watching currently. My personal favorites are iTV Shows for apple users, and Next Episode for Android users. In them you can look for the synopsis of each episode, the day and time of the premiere and, in some of them, a list of the shows that are trending right now.

But the most important feature, at least for me, is the notifications. You can personalize your app to alert you when your favorite show is going to start, when it’s cancelled and even when it gets a premiere date. This will help you to follow each episode and to prevent you to miss out on a new one.

4.  The three episodes rule

Even if you already have selected a handful of shows to watch, you must prioritize the ones that you really want to keep on watching and discard the ones that you don’t. Otherwise, you will find yourself in the middle of a tricky situation between a lot of episodes to catch on and no time to do it whatsoever.

I have the theory that if a show doesn’t manage to captivate you and capture your attention in the first three episodes it will never manage to accomplish it in the near future.

Typically, the first three episodes of a show must give their audiences enough information, character-wise, story-wise and arc-wise, to really know what kind of show they’re getting into and what they can expect of it. Three episodes, in my book, are more than enough.

So, with that in mind, you either keep on watching it after episode three, because you like it, or you don’t, because you didn’t like what you saw, or you didn’t get enough information to enjoy the show by episode four.

Don’t waste your time on shows that doesn’t fulfill your needs as a viewer and stop doing senseless hate-watching. If you do this, you’ll see how easy will be for you to get rid of a show you felt obligated to watch and how rewarding will be to keep the ones you really loved on the first three episodes.

5. Enough is enough

Look, I love to watch a show from the very first season through the last  like the next person, but sometimes we have to accept, and then realize, that some shows could, and would, lost their way, and that’s fine. We don’t have to stick around until the very end of a show.

Precisely this very year I had to stop watching Pretty Little Liars because it became so tiresome and predictable that I ended up not enjoying it at all,  and I don’t even feel bad about it. I had my time loving it and I got some pretty good episodes, but that’s it.

So, if you feel like a burden to wacth  one of your favorite shows, then stop doing it. It will make you some room to enjoy a new one and you will feel much better with yourself by stopping all that hate-watching you’ve been doing lately.

6. Enjoy the experience

There’s nothing better than finding a great show to hang on to. Enjoy it and embrace it. Peak TV is really upon us and the best way to honor it is by consuming all the great things that are airing and streaming out there.

Have a great day and an awesome binge-watching season!

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Transgender visibility on Transparent

Warning: This post might have minor spoilers of the third season of Transparent ahead. If you haven’t seen it or don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading.

Just this week Amazon dropped off the new season of its award-winning show Transparent, the amazing serie that revolve around the Pfefferman family’s lives after their father (portrayed by the always magnificent Jeffey Tambor) comes out as a transgender woman named Maura. As you can imagine, this TV show’s main concern has always been to tackle important subjects and themes concerning the transgender community.

If there’s something I must celebrate about this show is its hability to put me through a handful of situations that had made me feel uncomfortable more times than I’m able to admit. For three seasons, Transparent  not only have  singlehandedly managed to confront and transform all my paradigms, ideas and notions -even the ones I didn’t thought I had- about gender identity.

Thus, it didn’t came as a surprise when I felt this way again last night when I was watching  episode 6 of this season: The Open Road. In it, Josh (Jay Duplass), one of the Pfefferman’s siblings, makes a road trip with Maura’s transgender friend, Shea (Trace Lysette), a woman who dances on a strip club as a way of living and with whom he has a crush on.

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Naturally, the road trip rails off the road (pun intended) when Josh manage to singlehandedly insult Shea and make her feel awful after she gets honest with him about being HIV positive, as you can read on the quote below:

Shea: There’s something I need to talk you about.

Josh: Ok.

Shea: Look, I’m totally healthy and it’s really nothing to worry about, but I just have to tell you that I’m HIV positive. I have to. I just don’t want you to find later and hate me or murder me or something.

Josh: Well, we were just kissing, I mean, you can’t get it from kissing, right?

Shea: No, you can’t get it from kissing.

Josh: Ok, I’m not going to murder you, I’m not going to hate you. It’s cool.

Shea: So, are you Ok?

Josh: Yeah.

Shea: I have some condoms in the car.

Josh: Are condoms are like a 100%… they work?

Shea: Look, there’s this pill that pretty much eliminates the chances of you getting it.

Josh: Uhm… Pretty much?

Shea: Well, they’re still researching it.

Josh: Ok, do you have it here? With you?

Shea: No; I don’t have it here. It doesn’t work like that.

Josh: Ok.

Shea: If you want to slow things down… figure out where this is going. Maybe we can go and see a doctor when we come back, to explore this in a long term.

Josh: Long term? It’s just a lot of build up.

Shea: Let’s just go.

Josh: Are you mad?

Shea: Yeah, I’m mad!

Josh: At me? Why?

Shea: Why?

Josh: Yeah! I’m, like, I’ve been totally cool with everything.

Shea: Yeah, you know, you deserve an award. What a hero!

Josh: Ok, you were just about to fuck me and told me that you probably would not give me HIV. I’m not aloud to ask some questions? I’m not aloud to, like, pause? And feel weird?

Shea: Why the fuck did you bring me here?!

Josh: I brought you here because it seemed fun. This is fun.

Shea: Fun?! Like a sex-worker-good-time fun?!

Josh: Ok, now that you mention it, I pay for all of this.

Shea: Fuck you, Josh! You needed a fucking date to go tell your son his mother kill herself? I see right through you and I’m not your fucking adventure! I’m a person! I’m not your fucking adventure!

This particular scene kept me awestruck not only by its raw bluntness but also by what really lies beneath this conversation: transgender visibilty and the social imaginary behind transgender people.

Nowadays, most TV shows and films have succesfully managed to introduce some transgender characters into their worlds,  but not for the right reasons. Much of them just have been doing this in order to check their transgender quota and to pat themselves on the back by consider themselves so diverse and inclusive, not for actual representation.

Precisely this week Modern Family ‘s producers made a lot of fuzz when they told several people they were going to have a transgender child playing an important part in an episode. Along came Tom, a transgender boy (who was also known as Tina) who befriends Lily, Cam and Mitchell’s little daughter.

Tom’s important part in the episode was esentially reduced to act, and function, as an example of tolerance and inclusion from this family, He played the part alright, but not only his character hadn’t had lines and no important participation in the story whatosever, he also didn’t have the chance to portray a full-fleshed character. He wasn’t a person.

It’s easy to see when a transgender character it’s added into some story to let people pride themselves about their tolerance and diverse casting, like in this case. These people are all the Joshes that consider themselves to be “totally cool with everything” and expect to receive a badge or recognition for their level of acceptance and their rejection-free conscience when dealing with another human beings.

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And that’s the real problem, they don’t see transgender people  as normal human beings. For them, transgender people are individuals to take care of and to befriend in order to feel good with themselves, when, in reality, they are not their “fucking adventure” to sink their teeth into. Each and every one of them are real persons, with feelings and their own stories to tell.

If Transparent‘s main goal is to make people feel uncomfortable by confronting them with their own realities and the way they understand and transform their life, I’m up for it. It’s really hard to find TV shows that make you question everything you think and thought it was right, and that’s something we must celebrate.

If you want to get a closer look of this particular scene and what the actrees who portrays Shea felt, don’t miss out the fantastic interview Esther Zuckerman made to Trace Lysette for A.V. Club.

The problematic approach of This Is Us

If there’s something that television loves to rub on our faces is that they truly do understand families, real and proper “American families”. From Married With Children to Modern Family  we have had our fair share of modern depictions of what truly means to belong to a family.

I must admit that, in spite of everything, Television Networks had made enormous efforts to represent and transform accurately the family structures that have been evolving along with society’s constructs and paradigms of what a family is. Now, it’s possible to see a family formed by a gay couple or even a trans matriarch.

So, it really strikes me that, knowing all of this, there’s still networks betting for shows that, instead of proposing something new, they’re still playing safe whilst using really dated and problematic tropes as  NBC’s new show, This Is Us.

The premise is simple: Three different families, formed by a married couple with three children, a pair of two adult twins and another couple with two children, are linked by something more (that I won’t say in order to save you from a possible spoiler) than their shared narrative.

The first thing that came to my head when I watched the first two episodes (the only ones that have aired yet, there is) was that all three families has their fair share of men and women participating as important members.

The first family is formed by Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) a thirtysomethings who just happen to have three children. The second one it’s made by twins Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Kevin (Justin Hartley). Finally, the thir family is formed by Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson).

However, there’s a tenuous, but problematic, difference in the way their roles and characters are depicted. Whilst men are concerned with their jobs outside their homes and being positive role models for their children, women are preoccupied  about their look and taking care of their families inside their houses.

Now, I know that at least one of these families are from 1944 and the construction of this concept on that era was totally different from ours, notwithstanding, would it be too much to ask if one of the other families doesn’t perpetuate the already worned out, and tiresome, “concerned mother” trope?

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How many times do we have to put women trapped between the four walls of their house on TV? How many more women do we have to portray as the selfless wife that waits patiently for her family to arrive home to have at least one story within their narratives? How many more private spaces are we allow to use in order for a woman to have a place to belong to in our shows?

I would like to know why these people still thinks that women are not aloud to have ambition or goals in life beyond their kitchens and why these very places are still considered as the inherent place for women to live in.

It’s worrisome to think that women’s only motives in life are their families and the way society sees them, because it does not only reduce them to become cheap tropes, but also they pale in comparison to the full and well-rounded men characters whose interests are much more than that.

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Which brings me to my second concern: men’s objectification. It’s really confusing to me that, if this show’s main concern is to shine a light on its men why do they keep showing Jack’s butt and Kevin’s abs more than once in only two episodes? It’s even more incoherent when the latter’s main concern its the fear to lose his credibility as an actor when his career choices are compromised when he is asked to take his shirt off on the show he’s working on.

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Does the show is really aware of its meandering and inconsistent narrative? Is it on purpose and, if so, what for? To make a statement? To make a meta comment on how the entertainment industry exploits men and women’s bodies for its own benefit? Maybe I’m just overthinking it.

Whilst This Is Us  has a lot of good ideas around the concept of a modern family to dig into, they usually fall apart when they are portrayed by its characters. So, In order to portray them accurately, and reflect on the conflict that they have with each other, the writers need to get through their dated stereotypes and start to think on new ideas to help their stories to follow through.