Television

FOX’s Kobiyashi

This morning I noticed something.

Here’s FOX’s 2016-2017 schedule.

Sleepy Hollow isn’t returning until the middle of the season. (From what I can remember, that’s when…? January?)

Although upset over Abbie’s elimination, I’ve been thinking. Last night, I came up with what I think is an appropriate analogy.

In my opinion, this season’s finale was Sleepy Hollow ’s Kobiyashi Maru.

For those of you who don’t know Star Trek, give me a minute. In the Star Trek universe, the Kobiyashi Maru is a test that Outer-Space Explorer School Startfleet Cadets have to take in their journey to graduate from Space Explorer Camp the Academy.

I’ve read a definition that says the Kobiyashi Maru exists to test a cadet’s character.

However, I’m not referring to it that way.

I’m speaking of something every Trekkie knows:

The Kobiyashi is a no-win scenario.

Now then. Get your head out of Star Trek and step into Sleepy Hollow.

I wish everyone involved good luck, and there’s a side of me that has faith in the show’s original team. But they need to know that my wishes are conditional: I do not see Sleepy Hollow succeeding without Abbie.

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Fans’ and critics’ reactions have made things crystal clear. Talking about this elsewhere, I once said, “They can’t make things any worse.” That wasn’t a complaint, but a statement of fact.

In my most positive moments, something inside keeps saying,”They can’t make Sleepy Hollow without Abbie, and they won’t.” But I don’t hold the keys to this show’s destiny.

Ultimately,  I’m convinced that the only way for Sleepy Hollow to improve is through a complete change of course. Season 4’s scheduled appearance gives them time to make corrections.

I’m going to watch and see how things unfold.

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Television

Imagining Underground – What’s next?

For those who missed that last scene:

Yesterday I saw a prompt to discuss what people think will happen on season 2 of Underground. My mind went in several different directions…

Rosalee will be working as Harriet Tubman’s apprentice (for lack of a better word). I’m glad to know that Harriet is a character in a television series. There’s so much about her to celebrate and even more that the audience will learn from Misha and Joe’s decision to bring her to life. I look forward to seeing her relationship with Rosalee unfold.

Noah won’t stay in jail for long. I can’t wait for him to escape. As I drafted this post, I wondered if Noah, John, and Elizabeth would continue to work together. Specifically, in what capacity? Would Noah be employed in a free area as both a blacksmith and Railroad liaison? Would he have to pretend to be the Hawkes’ slave?

I’m concerned about James’ fate alone with Ms Suzanna. Will we see anything of the Macon plantation on Season 2, or will our focus be elsewhere…? And if we still see their plantation, will Bill still be around? (A bottle to the neck couldn’t stop him.) Who knows?

Ernestine. I can’t help but fear for her safety. She’s a compelling character. By the time season 2 premieres, Stine will probably have been sold to a new owner. There’s no telling who she’ll end up with. She could be facing a situation similar to the one she encountered on the Macon plantation, or things could be even worse.

I predict that August will change his mind about his profession, but I don’t know if we will see that take place in S2. I’m glad that Ben is alive, and I hope he and Jay are still around to question Mr. Pullman’s lifestyle.

What will life be like now for Boo? Will she still be living with the Hawkes’ family, or somewhere else? Meanwhile, I predict Elizabeth and John’s “station” will be fully up and running as a regular stop on the Underground Railroad. I want to see the stress they experience as they live double lives.

Hell, I want to see that for all of the characters. Underground invigorates me, like an action-packed spy thriller.

Also…

I’m glad Cato‘s alive! Watching him in Undergound‘s first episode, I never thought I’d say that, but here we are. He has a trunk full of money, so I imagine he might try to buy his freedom, or simply make a way for himself among free Black people. (The nerd in me wants to research what would have been possible.) Meanwhile, I assume Cato thinks the worst of Noah for leaving him to face that Patty Cannon Gang alone. When they cross paths he just might have vengeance on his mind.

Speaking of Patty Cannon, will she be Season 2’s new villain…?

How about you? What do you think will happen on next season of WGN’s best series?

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losing my religion

Introducing – No Shame Movement

In the past, I’ve been told it isn’t a good idea for me to write about about religion. But I can’t help it–I’m drawn to spirituality. It’s a huge part of people’s lives. Here in Canada, only 23.9 percent of the population claims to not have some sort of religious affiliation. Therefore, those who believe in (a) God are in the majority.

Whether it’s discussed or ignored, religion has tremendous cultural and personal power. Most people’s understanding of the divine likely colours the way they view themselves and others. Faith also has the power to determine the way folks perceive every part of their lives, including their sexuality.

When religion has a healthy influence over the way someone sees relationships, it can promote a deeper level of things such as commitment and self-care. When its impact is unhealthy, it can lead to distorted ideas concerning oneself and others. Among Christians, this negativity can manifest itself through purity culture, an entity that

…encompasses the emphasis on virginity before marriage and on maintaining emotional purity that pervades fundamentalism and evangelicalism, made visible in purity balls, purity rings, purity pledges, and modesty teachings. These teachings are not limited to fundamentalism and evangelicalism, and can be seen in the culture at large with the slut/virgin dichotomy and the prevalence of abstinence only sex education in public schools. In its most extreme, the purity culture involves giving up dating for a return to parent-guided courtship, and even arranged marriages.*

Fortunately, some are daring to turn the tide. Not too long ago, I got in touch with Lola Prescott, creator of No Shame Movement, a platform committed to countering purity culture’s stifling hold on Christianity.

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I asked her some questions, and I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share her thoughts on my blog.

What’s your religious background? Were you born into a church family?

I grew up in a Christian household, around conservative evangelicals and Pentacostals. I also attended Christian schools during my preteen and teen years.

Growing up, what were you taught about sex?

Explicitly, I was taught to believe that sex is a gift from God to be enjoyed between husbands and wives. Implicitly, I learned that sex was something that men do to women: Men want sex and women must do everything they can to keep them from getting it.

Any discussion of sex outside of marriage was considered disgusting. For instance, TV characters who talked a lot about sex were thought of as “raunchy” and cast in a negative light.

Policing or shaming people’s sexuality is an integral part of purity culture. Can you give me an example of a purity culture tool that you think has been especially harmful?

[Purity culture] infantilizes teens and young adults. They’re taught to “avoid temptation” in a variety of ways instead of learning how to set healthy boundaries and communicate with their partners; it also doesn’t teach the concept of consent.

It’s harmful because it has resulted in a whole generation of Christians who have no idea of how to have a healthy relationship and believe they’re “damaged” [because of] any physical activity they’ve engaged in outside of a heterosexual marriage.

When it comes to myths that some Christians perpetuate about sexuality, what do you think is the biggest one?

You’re either Chaste-y McVirginton or you’re a sex fiend, running around having sex with any and everyone. Also, [there’s] the notion that having sex outside [of] a hetero marriage will ruin your life…When you’re told consistently that sex will result in heartache and depression, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Suppose someone tells you that we need “purity culture” to keep us on the right track in our Christian walk. What would you say to them?

I have a website full of receipts that say otherwise. One of the main reasons I started NSM is to have a place for people to share stories. It’s easy to argue with one person, but a multitude of people sharing stories with a common theme is harder to ignore.

In terms of deconstructing or destroying purity culture, what do you think people can do? Do you think it’s possible…? Better yet, how can people heal from its influence?

It is definitely possible, but it’s an ongoing process. People [need to] start with educating themselves. Many people who grew up in purity culture are woefully uninformed about sex ed. Get to know your own body and discover what you like and don’t like. Be patient with yourself. Recognize whether or not you’re ready to be sexually active, and don’t be afraid to communicate that clearly with your partner.

Also, [it’s important to] talk to people who share your experiences.

The bottom line is to understand that the things that are best for YOU don’t necessarily equal things that are best for ALL.
How can people find out more about you and the No Shame Movement? What’s your URL, social media handle, etc.?

You can visit noshamemovement.com for more info. We’re also on Twitter @noshamemov, as well as Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Flipboard.

Thanks again to Ms. Prescott for her time.

*Definition taken from The “Purity Culture”–a definition and resource list on pathos.com

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Television

LAST week on Underground

If you missed the latest episode and don’t like spoilers, this isn’t the post for you.

Most shows that cover serious subjects avoid giving children a lot to do. Certainly, when I’ve seen programs depict slavery, the majority of screen time is given to adult actors, while the kids appear merely for minutes, if not seconds. However last Wednesday, Underground flipped this ratio. There are several young performers on the show. Each of the last episode’s acts focused on how one of them was affected by his or her circumstances.

James’ story grieved my spirit. No longer T.R.’s playmate, the show opened with Sam and Ernestine preparing him to begin life as a field slave. Over the course of his scenes, you could see young James transform. As the reality of slave life sunk in, everything about him changed–even his posture. My heart broke when his mother, Ernestine, acknowledged the truth about her youngest child: Before his first day in the cotton fields, he didn’t even realize that he was a slave.

Ben’s segment didn’t deal with slavery. Instead, we picked up where we left off in the previous episode. He and his father, August, went to find his mother. (You might remember that she’s a patient in a mental hospital…) Eventually they located her in a nearby forest. These scenes brought to mind stories that I’d heard about healthcare before the modern age. I felt Ben’s frustration over his mother–a woman who is lost to him, yet very much alive.

Little Boo broke my heart. Moses’ death (seen in flashbacks) has left her all alone. Thankfully, Elizabeth found her, and they were able to spend a few precious moments together. Her fear and struggle over whether or not to trust a stranger really resonated with me. I can only imagine what the real Boos of her day endured.

I won’t spoil this next part in great detail, but by the end of Henry’s scenes I couldn’t help but wonder if he’s okay. In “Cradle”, his dialogue revealed an interesting note about his backstory. Period dramas that discuss slavery usually stick to tales of slaves born either to their parents in bondage, or sold away. I can’t remember one ever referencing a slave born on a breeding farm.

T.R.’s scenes revealed the end end of his friendship with James–with powerful acting by both Maceo Smedley and Toby Nichols. I also noticed a glimpse of something else. Remember the scene in the pilot when T.R. was sticking green beans up his nose? I thought,”What a harmless brat!” Yet as always, Underground‘s writers aren’t here for viewers’ assumptions. I can still hear T.R.’s last line. In spite of his initial good intentions, I believe we’ve witnessed the beginning of his heart being hardened.

Other elements that caught my eye:

Did they use modern music in “Cradle”? I couldn’t tell you. I was too much in love with the sound of the children’s choir. Kudos to Underground’s music supervisors for including their voices.

All of the children’s scenes left me thinking, and in the wake of T.R.’s scenes, I couldn’t help but ask the unanswerable: How many slaves’ lives were ruined by the whims of their owners’ children?

My next question relates to the preview for tonight’s episode:

Why do Tom and Ernestine want Sam’s departure to remain a secret? Is it because of the Reverend, or something else? If I didn’t believe otherwise, I’d think Sam was Mr. Macon’s son.

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PodPost, status report

Mic Fright?

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Source

Dear Reader,

I thought I’d give you a bit of an update on one of my projects—the claire.she.goes podcast. I’ve been working at it sporadically over the past few years, and I’ve been thinking about taking things to the next level.

If you were at last month’s Paris Lectures event, you already know some of this story. If not, bear with me.

I’ve been thinking a great deal about my podcast. A little while ago I decided that I wanted to engage in dynamic storytelling. One way of doing that is to include interviews on my show. I felt inspired to start a series, but hit a huge roadblock.

Something happened shortly after I began booking appointments. I recorded my first interview, but things didn’t work out.

Firstly, I had a technical issue. My setup was somehow off, and only my side of the conversation got recorded. Secondly, something significant went on that I couldn’t ignore. It was a Friday when I tried to record that ruined interview. Would you believe that as soon as I pressed record, I started to develop a pain in my chest?

It didn’t leave me until over 24 hours later.

After that, I cancelled the other interview that I had planned. I decided instead to focus on email-based conversations.

And yet…In spite of my body’s behaviour, I knew what I wanted and STILL want to achieve.

I put my game face on and went to Paris Lectures. It was a special evening. Normally presenters are invited to chat in front of the audience and share information about their pet projects. However, in the weeks before I showed up, folks were allowed to submit to present in front of their peers. I was one of them.

I spoke about my podcast—my dreams, but also my discomfort.

That night, I felt inspired to start interviewing some of my town’s locals. We have a lot of very talented, interesting people around. I figured, ”Why not?!?”

I began to reach out and emailed a few folks.

At first, I felt fine.

THEN, as I started to think more seriously about making arrangements, something uncomfortably familiar happened. I began to feel sick to my stomach.

I realize thanks to editing you might not be able to tell, but when I record my shows, I’m very, VERY nervous. In spite of this, a part of me is determined. I believe I have something to offer the world of podcasting. Hence, my physical reaction doesn’t make any sense. Not even to me.

So what am I doing about it?

Moving forward.

Last week I recorded an interview and I survived. I think it helped that I told myself over and over again, ”It’s just a conversation, Claire.”

Because really, that’s all a good interview is. A conversation.

As I edited my latest episode, I felt myself becoming critical.

You could’ve been more confident, Claire. Why’d you have to laugh so hard?!?

On and on I could have gone, but in the end it means nothing. Especially in light of where I now stand: At the threshold of possibility.

Really. In spite of any lingering sense of fear, I feel like I could talk to anyone!

I’m a great writer. I can become a great interviewer.

What else have I learned…?

Don’t be afraid to look your dreams in the eye. Give them the attention they deserve.

Also, in your journey as a creator, give yourself room to grow. I firmly believe that can only come by owning your awkwardness and accepting your limits…

So you can CRUSH them.

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Television

Nicole Beharie Deserves Better

Have you seen this?

Video via Nicole Beharie Daily

Shortly after I pressed “PLAY”, I almost started to cry. I definitely started to think.

As a fan, I realized how selfish I’ve been. I don’t want to let Nicole Beharie’s Abbie go. But you know what else I don’t want? For Ms. Beharie to have to put up with an abusive work environment.

One of the women in the video used the word “toxic”. I can only imagine what Nikki went through, but I have a feeling that the anecdotes that have been swirling around are only the tip of the iceberg.

Nicole Beharie,

Thank you for inspiring the girl inside of me to keep on dreaming.

Since I’ve been talking about what I want in a TV show so much these days, how about what I want for someone else…?

Photography by Indira Cesarine

Image Source

I want Nicole Beharie to wake up any given workday with a sense of fullness in her heart, knowing she’s going to spend time on material she enjoys, with colleagues and BOSSES who know and honour her worth.

If the people at Sleepy Hollow or FOX couldn’t give that to her, then shame on them.

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Television

Crane’s Angels?

I know, I know. Another piece on Sleepy Hollow‘s relationships. Sorry.

After I asked about her, Jamie from Black Girl Nerds referred to Betsy Ross as “another Katrina”. Back in the day I’m pretty sure I snarked about her on Twitter. However in retrospect, I actually understood why Katrina existed. She was there from Sleepy Hollow’s beginning. She was Crane’s wife. Although the middle of Season 2 left me cold, its bookend episodes didn’t really bother me.

But Betsy Ross? What’s the point of her character? That’s my question as I watch Sleepy Hollow‘s 3rd season. Her presence has given me a really bad impression. In every season of Sleepy, were we going to be introduced to yet another of Crane’s historically-relevant girlfriends? TPTB almost had me thinking that eventually Crane was going to come to my neck of the woods for a tryst with Laura Secord. Luckily that idea fell apart…Because I realized she was from a different era.

Not that I blame the writers and producers for trying to give Crane a love interest. I mean, it’s a shame. If only he had an intelligent, hard-working, gorgeous woman to talk to…

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In all seriousness, I’m not a hardcore Ichabbie shipper. However, there’s an affectionate dynamic between Abbie and Crane. TPTB’s intentional avoidance of pairing them together–depicting them as obviously in love but not physically affectionate–seems odd. (And when I say “odd”, I’m being generous.) It simply doesn’t make sense.

 

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Television

No Chance for Romance? A word about Ichabbie.

The possibility of their paring isn’t the only reason I watch Sleepy Hollow, but I think it’s time I addressed the elephant in the room.

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^From lissinator.tumblr.com.

I’ve recently gotten caught up and watched every episode of Sleepy Hollow*. In my honest opinion Abbie’s scenes with Danny, and Crane’s scenes with Zoe aren’t believable. Their so called “relationships” seem like a contrivance. On the plus side, their interactions have given me the answer to one of the SleepyHeads’ eternal questions: Why can’t the leads fall in love?

It isn’t that TPTB didn’t want Abbie and Crane to be romantic. They just didn’t want them to be romantic with each other. Given the characters’ history and chemistry, I can’t help but wonder why that is.

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Just kidding. I don’t wonder. But overall, I have yet to hear an answer that doesn’t sound like an ignorance-driven excuse.

To some extent I get it. There’s a natural concern about a show going straight to hell once its lead characters cross the line from friends to lovers. But things don’t always have to be that way. Programs like Sleepy Hollow aren’t improvised. Every line and story arc are planned.

I feel silly that this has frustrated me, but honestly, it has. Do Sleepy Hollow‘s writers and producers really need an example of how to avoid well-worn cliches?

Lucky for them, I’ve got one.

Let’s look for a moment at another show that I enjoy: Underground. If ever there was a trope-laden genre, it’s a slave drama. Yet in every episode the series’ plot and characters defy expectations.

Uniqueness in storytelling doesn’t come about by accident. It’s clear to me that TPTB at Underground have consciously decided not to give in to their genre’s conventions.

Concerning the idea of Crane and Abbie being in love, the show’s latest showrunner said that a potential romance between the two

cheapened the deep, abiding love [that Crane and Abbie shared]; a love very few people obtain in their lives.” (emphasis added)

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It’s sad. Apparently, the people who work on Sleepy Hollow only know folks who are bitterly divorced and not happily married.

Now, I’m single and I realize that I may be speaking of modern day unicorns. Yet I know people my age and younger who have fallen in love—TRULY in love—and managed to stay that way. Depicting the nuances of such a relationship isn’t unrealistic. Real life includes real love. Warts and all.

I’ve been seeing series’ leads fall in love since Scarecrow and Mrs King. As I tried to say earlier, nothing on a TV show happens randomly. Written together, Abbie and Crane have always been charming and witty and wise. A television romance is only as cringe-worthy as a show’s staffers choose to make it.

*Edited – When I first wrote this post, I had seen about 2.5 seasons worth of episodes.

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