New TV Shows To Get Excited About In Fall, 2014!

TV Premieres I’ll Definitely Be Tuning In For This Fall!

gotham

by REBECCA, August 25, 2014

It’s a glorious time of year: the horrors of summer are nearly behind us and the Fall TV lineup has been announced! With one of my favorite books newly kicking ass on screen (Outlander), my expectations are high. Will this year’s shows cut it? I can’t wait to find out slash watch them anyway.

a to z

A to Z (NBC) premieres October 2. Let’s start on what will likely be a low note.

Andrew Lofland, while a guy’s guy, has always been a secret romantic . . . not above crooning to Celine Dion while driving to work, with dreams of finding “the one.” He imagines her to be just like that shimmering beauty he spotted that night in that silver dress at that concert two years ago. Zelda Vasco is a no-nonsense lawyer who has strong feelings about being her own person and prefers the control of online dating. However, when a computer glitch sends her a total mismatch, she’s asked to come in for an interview at Wallflower Online Dating, the agency where Andrew works.

Andrew and Zelda meet for the first time and despite their differences, sparks fly. She thinks it’s chance. He thinks it’s fate. After all, he’s convinced she’s the shimmering girl in the silver dress. Is it true love forever or just a detour in destiny? Andrew and Zelda will date for eight months, three weeks, five days and one hour. This program is a comprehensive account of their relationship—from “A to Z.”

The pilot of A to Z is available online now.

constantine

Constantine (NBC) premieres October 24. I’m excited about this one, but it’s a real bummer that it looks like NBC is not going to make Constantine bisexual like he is in the comic.

Based on the wildly popular comic book series “Hellblazer” from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine is armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and a wickedly naughty wit. He fights the good fight—or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he’s decided to abandon his campaign against evil until a series of events thrusts him back into the fray, and he’ll do whatever it takes to protect the innocent. With the balance of good and evil on the line‎, Constantine will use his skills to travel the country, find the supernatural terrors that threaten our world and send them back where they belong. After that, who knows . . . maybe there’s hope for him and his soul after all.”

gotham

Gotham (FOX) premieres September 22. Whee! If this isn’t awesome I will be so so sad.

Before there was Batman, there was Gotham.

Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them—the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker? Gotham is an origin story of the great DC Comics Super-Villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. Gotham follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil, and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.”

happyland

Happyland (MTV) premieres September 30. I’m not sure about this one, since the only MTV show I’ve ever seen is Teen Wolf (<3), but I’m game to try it.

MTV’s newest scripted teen drama exposes the soapy inner workings of one of the country’s most popular theme parks, revealing the less-than-magical reality of what goes on behind the scenes. Lucy is a cynical teenager who grew up in the park (her mom works there as a princess) and wants to leave so she can experience the real world. Naturally, that all changes when she meets Ian. He’s the son of the park’s new owner, who sweeps Lucy off her feet . . . until a scandal comes to light that turns both their lives upside-down.”

Jane the virgin

Jane the Virgin (CW) premieres October 13. This sounds fucking nuts, but . . . maybe also funny? Or maybe just an extended chance for me to yell at my tv, “GET AN ABOOOOOOOORTIOOOOOON!” Only time shall tell.

Gina Rodriguez stars as a young woman named Jane, and Jane is a virgin! What more is there to know? Well, okay, there is the fact that she’s pregnant because she was accidentally artificially inseminated by her gynecologist. Whoops! And to make matters even more complicated, Jane has to decide whether or not to keep the baby after discovering the sperm specimen belonged to cancer survivor Rafael, who’s not only a former crush of Jane’s, but also her new boss.”

red band society

Red Band Society (FOX) premieres September 17. This is the show that 10-year-old Rebecca really wanted when she was reading all those Lurlene McDaniel books. It’s apparently based on a Catalan show.

Red Band Society is a coming-of-age dramedy about a group of rule-bending friends and the adults who mentor them through the ups and downs of adolescence in Los Angeles’ Ocean Park Hospital. Exploring everything from strong friendships, and first loves, to humorous mishaps and heartbreaks, the series is a story of life, with an edgy comedic tone all its own.

Twelve-year-old narrator Charlie is in a coma and introduces us to this band of unlikely friends, including the “new kid,” Jordi, a 16-year-old who comes to California to seek out treatment at the renowned hospital. What Jordi soon discovers is that it’s not his illness that’s going to change his life, but his new friends. Also at Ocean Park is Leo, the 16-year-old, charming and independent “leader” of the group. Leo’s best friend is Dash, a 16-year-old “rebel” with a big personality, who is determined not to let his cystic fibrosis stop him from living his life. Also on the ward is 15-year-old “know-it-all” Emma, Leo’s on-again-off-again girlfriend who is coping with an eating disorder. Rounding out this group of patients is Kara, a “mean girl” cheerleader who shares a room with Charlie. Although her heart is failing, she is realizing for the first time that she actually has one and begins opening it up to her new friends.

You can watch the pilot online now.

Survivor's Remorse

Survivor’s Remorse (STARZ) premieres October 4. Well, Starz is kind of killing it with Outlander, so maybe this will be delightful? Even though I don’t care about sports, I love sports movies, so I’m game (get it?). Also I have a fantasy that Survivor’s Remorse might be the new Friday Night Lights . . . because it’s about sports + it’s set in Philly and Friday Night Lights ended in Philly . . .

This basketball comedy follows a young amateur baller Cam Calloway as he lands his first multimillion-dollar contract with a professional basketball team in Atlanta. Cam, along with his cousin and confidante, move to Georgia to start Cam’s career. The two confront the challenges of carrying opportunistic family members and their strong ties to the impoverished community that they came from.”

So, what will you be watching this Fall?

Oops, I Am Addicted To Witches of East End

A review of Witches of East End, based on the books by Melissa de la Cruz

Lifetime, 2013

Witches of East End

by REBECCA, August 20, 2014

witches of eastwickWhoopsiedoodle! My sister and I just accidentally scarfed the first half of a season of Witches of East End. I won’t lie: I took one look at the fact that it’s on Lifetime and the fact that it’s set in North Hampton and thought, “this will be terrible; I must watch this.” But, while I was expecting the show to be a kind of Revenge + witches, with lots of conspicuous consumption, low-cut dresses, and people having incredibly strong opinions about canapés while they ruin people’s lives, it’s actually . . . so funny. No, really. Within five minutes of the pilot, my sister and I were hitting each other and shamefacedly saying, “OmigodIlovethisshow.”

witches of east endWitches of East End is based on the books by Melissa de la Cruz, best known for her YA series, Blue BloodsNow, I’ve never read anything by Melissa de la Cruz, but I am totally not surprised that it’s based on the work of a YA author because what Witches of East End is totally winning at is not taking itself too seriously. Witches of East End could easily seem like a seen-it-all-before show about thin, pretty, white women who can do magic—and let’s face it, do we need more when we have Practical Magic?—but instead, it’s a really fun, funny family drama with a little romance and a few thrills thrown in.

Joanna Beauchamp (Julia Ormond) is an immortal witch. Her daughters, Freya (Jenna Dewan-Tatum of Step Up pedigree) and Ingrid (Rachel Boston) don’t know that they have any special powers (a change from the books, it seems). Joanna is cursed to see Freya and Ingrid die over and over and be born again—she’s lived through their lives in every century and seen them die in every way imaginable. So, this incarnation, she’s decided that she’ll keep their magic a secret, hoping to protect them from themselves. This has worked fine for the last thirty years, and the Beauchamps have been happy in North Hampton. Freya is engaged to marry rich doctor, Dash (Eric Winter), and Ingrid is pretty happy with her job at the local library.

Witches of East End

don’t mind me; i’m just smelling your face now

BUT, before you go thinking that everything is fine, dunh duh duh duh, there is a CAT. A black cat. And is not JUST a cat. It is Wendy (Mädchen Amick from Twin Peaks!), Joanna’s sister, who is a cat shifter (avec proverbial nine lives). Joanna and Wendy haven’t spoken in a century, but now Wendy has had a VISION: someone is after Joanna and they have to stop them. And with Wendy around, there’s no way that Freya and Ingrid will remain in the dark about their magic because SHENANIGANS ensue. Not only can the person who’s after Joanna shift into any form, but Dash’s estranged brother is back . . . and Freya might also be in love with him. WHAT? YOU GUYS. No, seriously, though, it’s so FUNNY. Ingrid is hilarious and so, so nerdy.

Okay, so Julia Ormond is kind of terrible (but I have fond feelings about her from Legends of the Fall and Smilla’s Sense of Snow . . .) because she just seems like a very cold person (and also her accent, which is apparently her real Britamerican accent, is whackadoo), BUT Aunt Wendy totally makes up for it. And did I mention INGRID! Best thing: it’s two sets of sisters!

Are you watching Witches of East End? What do you think?

Finally, Outlander!

A Review of Outlander (episode 1), created by Ronald D. Moore and based on the books by Diana Gabaldon

Starz, 2014

Outlander

by REBECCA, August 13, 2014

Battlestar GalacticaY’all, I have been dreaming of seeing Outlander on the big screen since I first read Diana Gabaldon’s book circa the turn of the century. Like many fans, I approached news of Starz optioning it with the mixture of hope and trepidation that always attends beloved adaptations. Would they cast it right? Would it evoke the same feelings of the book? What if I hate Claire and Jamie onscreen? Knowing Ron Moore, of Battlestar Galactica fame was at the helm made me hopeful, though, because he has such a great track record with sprawling, epic stories, of which Outlander is certainly one.

But, like many fans . . . I don’t actually have TV, much less Starz. Rather than watching episode one, “Sassanach” when Starz put it up for free viewing last Saturday, then, I waited until I came to visit my parents (who do have Starz—and a large TV) to watch. But now I have, so, though I’m late for the game I’ll be goddamned if I don’t talk about it. In list form. Because . . . mostly it’s just stuff I liked.

Most importantly, for me, I really liked Claire (Catriona Balfe). She was capable and brave and spunky without seeming like she had a chip on her shoulder. She seemed wise and mature, which she’s supposed to be, but still with a sense of humor.

I didn’t love Tobias Menzies as Frank, Claire’s husband. Since he and Black Jack Randall are played by the same actor, I really wanted someone who, as Frank, looked really appealing and cultured, and to me he looks like a villain as Frank, too, making his transformation into Black Jack less striking. He did a good job, though, and, most importantly, Ron Moore was smart to spend the meat of the first episode developing their relationship so that it will be understandable why Claire wants to get back to her own time.

OutlanderJamie. We didn’t see much of him, but he’s clearly Jamie-ish. Sam Heughan definitely looked the part and seemed to have Jamie’s tender youth and bravado pretty much sewn up. Also, you know, extremely handsome. Still, Jamie makes me slightly concerned about the cheese-factor . . .

My problem with the episode is actually a problem with genre. Diana Gabaldon’s book is not really a romance novel. It’s sweeping historical fiction at the center of which is a couple. But it’s often shelved in the romance section (I learned the embarrassing way in high school) and spoken about in terms of the romance genre. The character of Jamie isn’t actually the problem. The problem is that when viewed in romance terms, Jamie’s character has become a huge romance cliché: the strapping, red-headed 18th-century Scottish agitator who speaks with a brogue, threatens to throw women over his shoulder (in a nice way . . . ) and has, for the times, relatively progressive gender politics. It’s practically a staple now, nearly twenty-five years after Gabaldon wrote the book. So, I worry that simply by virtue of presenting Jamie faithfully, Outlander will verge into cheeseball territory.

OutlanderOf course, I would still happily watch a cheesy, romantic version of Outlander, but I don’t think that really does justice to the complex drama of the books, and it makes me a tidge worried that Starz won’t get the extra-literary viewership that it will want to justify renewing the show.

Okay, but aside from the tragic problem of Sam Heughan’s attractiveness and chest muscles, I thought the episode was great. Maybe this was a testament to my parents’ TV, but the long, sweeping shots of Scotland . . . that shit looked amazing. I loved the way the 1945 scenes were shot with a muted palette and dim or washed-out light; it makes the gorgeous natural colors once Claire goes through the stones really pop.

OutlanderThe music was gorgeous (not that I’d expect anything less from Bear McCreary, who also did the music for Battlestar), as was the cinematography. And I can already tell that I like the pace Ron Moore has chosen. It’s lingering, like Gabaldon’s books are, but not plodding. It meant that we got the great scenes of Reverend Wakefield’s housekeeper reading Claire’s palm, and the quiet moments of walking and driving around Inverness. The episode did a great job of establishing Inverness as a respite after the war—a safe place for Claire and Frank to reconnect after a long absence—which made it all the more shocking when Claire was ripped from it. Good show!

Scotland Decides 2014I am a little freaked out to see that Starz is splitting the first season, though, with episodes 1-8 running through the end of September and then going on hiatus until after New Year’s. I guess it’s good in that it will stop me from sitting in front of my computer staring and wishing I was in Scotland. Sigh. Also, I love that a show about independent Scottish clans will be airing simultaneous with the Scottish independence referendum (September 18).

Anyhoo, I was pleasantly surprised and cannot wait to snuggle back into the familiar world of Outlander! Did you see it? What did you think?

5 Reasons You Should Watch Master Chef Junior!

Master Chef Junior

by REBECCA, April 21, 2014

First things first, because this is an elimination show, be careful of going to the homepage for the show because it’ll spoil the finale.

See that adorable, food-smeared child holding what looks like a restaurant-quality dessert? Well, whereas usually that would imply that the annoying child just shoved their face in someone’s beautiful dessert, in Master Chef Junior, it means they freaking made it.

Now, if you’re anything like me, you might be thinking: I hate reality shows about children because they are always either victimized by their parents’ ambition, or independent psychopaths who will surely grow up to be bullies and serial killers. HOWEVER, Master Chef Junior is not like that! My sister and I watched the whole thing a few weeks ago—it’s only seven episodes, so it’s a great mini-marathon show—and it is bloody amazing. So, here are five reasons why you should definitely check it out!

1. Expertise! There are few things I love more than watching people who are brilliant at something execute that thing well. I love cooking shows because you can see every step of what people do: you can see them brainstorm ideas; you can see them make mistakes and have to fix them; and you can see them receive feedback on them. I’m a pretty good cook/baker and I know there is no way I could ever be on a food competition show. I just don’t have an encyclopedic knowledge of recipes or the time management skills to cook that fast. The regular Master Chef (a competition of adult home chefs) is impressive enough to me for both those reasons.

mc jr 4When the experts are children, it’s mind-blowing. These are 8-13 year-old kids and they are cooking at the same level as the adults on Master Chef. To see an eight-year-old with professional knife skills . . . well, actually, it’s a little creepy. But, no, it’s amazing. And it isn’t only that they’re experts on a technical level; they’re also incredibly knowledgeable about food, which allows them to create unique, diverse, sophisticated, restaurant-quality dishes. Y’all, it’s seriously amazing!

2. Competitors With Heart! In most competition shows—certainly in Master Chefthe competitors talk a lot of shit. They’re nasty and cutthroat and they refuse to acknowledge the talents of their competitors as if it could, in some way, lessen their own. Not in Master Chef Junior. Almost more surprising than the incredible culinary skill these kids have is their amazingly positive attitudes toward one another. They encourage one another, they say lovely things about each other’s work, they cry when competitors leave because they’re friends, and they help calm each other down when they’re stressed out. I think this was actually my favorite element of the show. I hate to sound all from-the-mouths-of-babes, but it’s incredibly inspiring to realize that at a young age, kids don’t just assume that they have to cut people down to elevate themselves. This also made the show so much more pleasant to watch because there was none of the yelling, complaining, and other garbage that so often goes with the truly amazing cooking.

131004masterchef-junior1_300x2063. Young Adults Rule! There is an episode where the contestants take over a restaurant and have to work in the kitchen, cooking all the food for the restaurant. It’s a real challenge because it’s not just about having the ability to cook. It’s about expecting 8-13 year-olds to work together, take instruction, delegate, move quickly, all of it while being yelled at. And, man, they are amazing. After the diners have eaten their food and raved about it, when those kids come out from the kitchen and they see who cooked it, you can see every one of those diners reevaluating everything they’ve ever thought about what young people are capable of.

4. Appreciation of Food! In a culture where kids are stereotyped as being either picky or addicted to junk food, it is so refreshing to see kids who are delighted by bok choy in a delicate ginger sauce or put fresh arugula on a cheeseburger. And it’s not only about whether these ingredients are to the kids’ personal tastes, but about the appreciation of each ingredient that they demonstrate. They work hard and truly honor food, showing how important it is to give kids access to fresh ingredients. I hope that every person in charge of school lunches, programs that bring food into neighborhoods and schools, and policymakers watch this show and see what kids can do when they’re given access to food and cooking instruction—even if that instruction is in the form of the Food Network.

jrmc_104-elim_03315. Self-Motivation! A few of these kids have family members who have restaurants, but most of them learned to cook from family members or they figured it out for themselves. When the chefs ask them if they’ve ever made things before, many of them speak about how they cook for their families three or four days a week. I love this approach to kids contributing to their families. Rather than just doing chores, this approach allows kids to explore their passions and also be responsible for providing for their families, whether they’re trying out gourmet dishes with exotic ingredients (for those whose families have access and cash) or whipping up homestyle comfort foods and elevating basic ingredients.

And, bonus, if you’ve ever seen chefs Gordon Ramsay and Joe Bastianich on the regular Master Chef then you know that they can be exacting, blunt, and intimidating. To see them interacting with kids is at times funny and at times touching (Graham Elliot is as nice as always).

You can watch Master Chef Junior on Hulu HERE.

In the end, even if you’re not a fan of cooking shows in general, the show has a lot in common with YA novels I’ve reviewed that are about teens with obsessions and skills through which they express themselves or, sometimes, into which they escape. Here are a few.

readalikes

The Sea of Tranquility Katja Millay

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay (2012). Two people in pain who find each other and express themselves through their obsessions, Nastya through baking and Josh through woodworking. My full review is HERE.

With or Without You Brian Farrey

With or Without You, Brian Farrey (2011). Evan is used to getting beat up for being gay and used to having parents who don’t understand him. He can deal with all of it as long as he has an escape plan after high school and his painting. Evan has studied the techniques of all his favorite painters and he painstakingly imitates their styles in the expression scenes from his own life. My full review is HERE.

5 Reasons I’m Provisionally Enjoying Star-Crossed (and a few reasons I’m not)

A Review of Star-Crossed, created by Meredith Averill

The CW, 2014

Star-Crossed

by REBECCA, April 10, 2014

Star-Crossed, as the title suggests, is a science fiction Romeo and Juliet. Ten years ago, in 2014, an Atrian starship crash-landed in a small town in Louisiana. Six-year-old Roman (Romeo) takes shelter in the shed of Emory (Juliet) when the shooting starts, and they form a bond in the few minutes before soldiers rip them apart. After a bloody battle, the Atrians are interned in a camp called the Sector. Now it’s 2024 and, as the result of an integration program that has long been in the works, seven teenage Atrians are going to begin attending a human high school, to test whether Atrians and humans have the potential to integrate.

romeo-and-julietSo, I’ve mentioned before how much I generally loathe adaptations. There is NO reason why this needed to be an overt Romeo and Juliet—in fact, it really hampers what Star-Crossed can do by telegraphing what are going to be the major issues and stakes of the show. I will say it again. I just do not understand why people cut off narratives at the knees like this?! In the case of Star-Crossed, it seems likely that either the CW thinks sci-fi is low art and needed a little cultcha or that they worried that sci-fi would turn off their core teen female audience unless they very overtly announced that it would be a romance. Either way, it was a stupid move. Also, can we please agree that, in 2014 (and definitely in 2024), Romeo and Juliet is really not the only text that comes to mind when we think about people from different worlds whose social situation dictates that they not be together. In fact, it’s become something of a cliché at this point—a story that’s concretized into utter predictability. So, yeah. WHAT THE?

Tami-Julie-friday-night-lights-4533494-2560-1920More bad news. Emory, played by Aimee Teegarden, aka Julie Taylor from Friday Night Lights, has the unfortunate fate of being a really boring character. No idea why they’re writing her like this when most of the other characters are more interesting, but Emory is completely blah and has no real chemistry with Roman, or with Grayson—yeah, sorry, they’re going with that whole love triangle thing, at least for a little while. (Grayson is played by Grey Damon, also from Friday Night Lights, and another character, Zoe, is played by Dora Madison Burge, who played Becky on Friday Night Lights, so while you’re thinking how boring Emory is, what a bad actor Grey Damon is, and how much makeup they’ve slathered on poor Zoe, you can just close your eyes and think of how good Friday Night Lights was).

That bad news aside, Star-Crossed has, so far, been a pretty enjoyable watch, if you go into it eyes open. I mean, it’s a CW show, so. Here are a few reasons I’ve enjoyed the first eight episodes.

1. Civil Rights Conversations. The morning the Atrian 7 start school with the humans their bus pulls up to the school where there is a mass of protesters who harangue them and throw things at them. It’s a citation of the morning the Little Rock 9 enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in 1957.

Little Rock 9 star-crossed

As in any aliens-landed-on-earth tale, there are people who believe that the Atrians are a threat to earthlings, those who are fascinated by their culture, and those in between. Emory and her best friends, Julia (a delightful Malese Jow, who played Anna on The Vampire Diaries) and Lukas (Titus Makin Jr. who was one of the Warblers on Glee) are excited to befriend the Atrians, but there are many who antagonize them from the beginning. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but, to my mind, any show that is having explicit conversations about the ways that fear of the unknown leads to prejudice, which leads to violence, which leads to retaliation, which leads to war, is succeeding, at least in some small measure.

The Atrian 7 disagree about what integration means, too. There’s one scene where the Atrian 7 are lectured about how they have to be a model minority, which some embrace and some revile. Roman, at one point, thanks Julia and Lukas for helping him and Lukas replies “We minorities have to stick together,” and Roman says, “You guys are minorities?” (they’re non-white); Lukas replies, “Before you got here.” So, there are some useful conversations going on, and I hope things will get more complicated as the show goes on.

2. The Atrians! Once you get over the fact that the Atrians look exactly like humans except for their tattoo-like birthmarks and the fact that they are all OVERLY ATTRACTIVE, the Atrian 7—well, we only know four so far—are pretty delightful characters. Roman (our Romeo) is played by Matt Lanter, who I’ve never seen in anything (though he did play Edward Sullen in a satire of Twilightesque movies that apparently exists?) but who I find strangely compelling. No, not just because he used to be a model. There’s something natural and straightforward about the way he plays Roman, which turns a character that would otherwise be chokingly goody-two-shoes into one who seems mature and interesting.

Teri & Drake

Teri & Drake

Sofia (Brina Palencia) is the wide-eyed, human-loving optimist who wants to make human friends because she doesn’t fit in that well with the Atrians. Teri (Chelsea Gilligan) is her opposite. She’s a fierce, badass fighter who doesn’t take any shit. Her mother is the leader of an Atrian splinter group that is willing to use violence to overthrow humanity. Last is Drake (Greg Finley), a bruiser who wants to be tough, but isn’t quite sure where his loyalties lie.

3. Plants. The Atrians’ main sources of power, as well as their main weapons, are plant-based, and one tribe of Atrians is particularly skilled in that regard. Cyper, for example, is a plant that can both heal and kill, and if humans found out about its properties when mixed with Atrian blood, they’d kill for it. I’m not sure if it’s true, but I’ve decided that this was inspired by the centrality of herbs in Romeo and Juliet. Even if it’s not true, it’s an interesting choice.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 10.40.18 PM4. Pansexuality! In a show that is based on Romeo and Juliet and, therefore, pretty much tells us who the main romantic drama will concern, we learn that Atrians are pansexual, which at least opens up some possibilities for the plot going forward. I mean, we were all pretending that Roman and Drake were together anyway, right?

5. Star-Crossed. Come on. That’s actually a really excellent name for a show that is about Romeo and Juliet and aliens who came from SPACE! (I can’t think of a fifth thing that’s actively good.)

SO, have you all been watching Star-Crossed? What do you think? Do the good things make up for the dopey CW-elements, or will these violent delights have violent ends?

“They Call Me the Crapper,” But Reality Boy Is Anything But

A review of Reality Boy by A.S. King

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013

Reality Boy A.S. King

by REBECCA, February 27, 2014

hook

When Gerald Faust was five years old, he was a reality television star—well, villain—known for throwing angry tantrums and pooping all over the house. He was called “the Crapper.” Now Gerald is seventeen. Still angry, but trying desperately to control it and have a normal life, Gerald can’t seem to leave his bad-boy image behind—or his old nickname.

review

Gerald and his older sister, Tasha, were featured on the reality show, Network Nanny (like Supernanny), in which a fake nanny tried to teach them better behavior. Gerald pooped places when he was upset, sure, but Tasha was constantly provoking him and then making it look like she was innocent. Tasha, Gerald is sure, is a psychopath. Gerald was an angry kid who got into trouble and couldn’t make friends.

crapperNow, though, he’s seventeen and everyone still thinks of him as the Crapper. Kids at school call him retarded because he’s been so unable to focus in regular classes because of his temper; people recognize him where he works, serving snacks at the local convention center, and ask him if he crapped in the food; and now Tasha, his number one trigger, has moved back into their parents basement, and has aggressively timed loud sex with her boyfriend when the whole family is just upstairs in the kitchen.

Reality Boy follows the same narrative structure of A.S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz, which I reviewed a few months ago. We alternate between moving through two narrative timelines: we begin from Gerald in the present, soon after Hannah, the girl he’s crushing on but refuses to talk to, begins working with him. Alongside that, we move through the episodes of Network Nanny and Gerald’s stint as the Crapper. It’s a beautifully constructed narrative, with the two storylines sparking resonances between them as more and more pieces are revealed.

Gerald’s plight is heartbreaking. He is trying desperately to move forward and remake himself while the whole world—and especially his sister—is trying to hold him to the image that they had of him more than a decade ago. He is trying hard to work through his anger—not just the anger he had as a kid that landed him on the show to begin with, but the anger he still feels at his parents for basically pimping him out for reality TV money. And, now that Tasha’s back, he has to deal with his anger at her and also at his parents for letting her terrorize the entire family.

It’s the writing that’s the real star of Reality Boy for me. Gerald’s voice is painful and funny and raw. Here’s the description Gerald gives of himself on page one, describing a time when his mom left him in a dressing room while she went to get pants:

“To protest having to wait, or having to try on pants, or having to have a mother like her, I dropped one right there between the wicker chair and the stool where Mom’s purse was. . . .

You all watched and gasped and put your hands over your eyes as three different cameramen caught three different angles of me squeezing one out on the living room coffee table, next to the cranberry-scented holiday candle ensemble. Two guys held boom mikes. They tried to keep straight faces, but they couldn’t. One of them said, ‘Push it out, kid!”‘He just couldn’t help himself. I was so entertaining.

Right?

Wasn’t I? . . .

Now I’m a junior in high school. And every kid in my class has seen forty different angles of me crapping various places when I was little. They call me the Crapper. When I complained to the adults in my life back in middle school, they said, ‘Fame has its downside.’

Fame? I was five.”

the real world san franciscoA.S. King manages to capture precisely the cocktail of grotesque humor, humiliation, and shame that makes reality television so abject. The details of Gerald’s story are so ridiculous that it’s difficult to look at their effects without giggling, so the trauma he went through as a result of Network Nanny and the terrorization he experiences at the hands of his sister are easily minimized. It’s masterfully done: I laughed, I cried, I cursed reality-TV-culture, I laughed again.

The weak spot in Reality Boy is what I find to be the weak spot in so many stand-out contemporary YA reads: the romance. Gerald is drawn to his co-worker, Hannah, and they begin a slow dance of acquaintance that leads to more. Now, there’s the most basic problem, which I think is just a matter of taste: I really disliked Hannah. I found her obnoxious, manipulative, and annoying. But the bigger problem was that the Reality Boy A.S. Kingemotional texture of Gerald’s first love with Hannah didn’t feel markedly different from the emotional texture of the rest of the book. It was, for Gerald, equally frustrating, upsetting, traumatizing, and confusing—even though moments of it were certainly appealing. For the reader, then, it felt like a tip of the hat to a genre knee-jerk: first love changes course of young protagonist’s life. I could absolutely have done without it because I didn’t think it added much to the story, besides using Hannah’s family troubles as an example of how many different ways there are to have a fucked up home-life. But I think we already know that.

In its place, I would have loved to see more of Gerald’s relationship with his family, especially his other sister, who seems like she could have an interesting perspective to shed on the family dynamic. Disappointment in the romantic interlude aside, though, Reality Boy was a smart, funny, touching exploration of serious issues against the backdrop of a reality TV excoriation.

For a great list of other YA books that feature reality TV, check out Kelly’s post about this mini-trend over at Stacked.

readalikes

 Just Listen Sarah Dessen

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (2006). While the tone of these two books isn’t terribly similar, Owen in Just Listen is a super angry dude who depends on techniques of anger management to get through the day. In his case, honesty is tantamount to dealing with things. And honesty is something Annabel has a really hard time with. Whereas Owen couldn’t control his anger, she holds all hers inside. Together, they can each teach the other their coping techniques, and maybe find love in the process. My full review is HERE.

Carrie Mesrobian Sex & Violence

Sex & Violence by Carrie Mesrobian (2013). Another story of a boy trying to be a new version of himself in the aftermath of a very different kind of trauma. Sex & Violence excavates Evan Carter’s new life as the new kid in a rural town where he’s moved with his father after leaving boarding school. Like Gerald, he’s trying to distance himself from who he was in the hopes of becoming a better version of himself. Check out my complete review HERE.

procured from: the library

Why Fans of Young Adult Literature LOVE The Voice

The Voice

by REBECCA, October 2, 2013

Obviously, I am talking about myself; I love The Voice with a passion that I usually reserve for soft cheeses in ash rinds. I love it because I love music and great vocalists, but there are plenty of other shows I could be watching were it only good singers I was after. No, it’s the narrative structure of The Voice that makes it so compelling, and its tropes are straight out of YA fiction.

With or Without You by Brian Farrey1. Overcoming an obstacle to get a chance at your dreams is a major trope of YA lit. The Voice milks this trope for everything it’s worth: each singer tells the story of how she got into music—stories of everything from disfiguring accidents, racism, and terminal illness to the deaths of loved ones, brutal bullying, and devastating acts of nature. But what gets each and every one of them through their hardships is the power of freaking music, y’all. Now, I know that probably sounds cheesy (and not in the good, ash-rind sort of way), but there is really nothing that gets me as much as the way that people can transform the horrible, the unfair, and the devastating into art. I did a whole post last year that was a list celebrating YA books that feature characters who use creativity as an outlet because I really think it’s one of the most powerful stories there is. And to hear those stories and then watch these singers come on stage and just annihilate . . . well, it’s pretty inspiring.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills2. Relatedly, unlike American Idol et al, which operate according to a cattle call mentality, where we laugh at as many contestants as we clap for, The Voice is totally sincere. Sure, the coaches make fun of each other good-naturedly, but at the end of the day their genuine passion for the voices they’re hearing is humbling. Relationships between a mentor and a hopeful are definitely the stuff of YA fiction, even though many of the contestants on The Voice aren’t young adults. The show’s sincerity, further, makes it doubly easy for me to feel good about my devotion to it. Where some similar shows either take themselves too seriously or seem to be laughing at anyone who really invests in them, The Voice feels more like the Magic: The Gathering group that met at lunch in your middle school and was legitimately psyched to find other people as excited about getting down to it as they were.

Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going3. Because the premise of The Voice is that the coaches cannot see the singers until they choose to turn their chairs around for them, the disconnect between what a singer sounds like and what she looks like is a theme on the show with which any YA reader will be very familiar. Dynamite singers discuss the way the music industry has been unwelcoming to them because they aren’t white enough, young enough, thin enough, attractive enough. Over and over, we hear stories of prejudice and bullying that makes the singers feel like their only fair shot is to audition blind, which is what led many of them to The Voice. This is an issue that looms large in YA fiction, certainly. The limitations that we place on ourselves, our talents, and our ambitions based on how others treat us, or how we believe they see us, is at the heart of a lot of YA lit, as is breaking through the ceiling of those limitations.

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins4. Once the blind auditions are over and each coach has assembled a team of twelve, the Battle Rounds begin, in which two singers from the same team sing one song in an epic sing-off for the chance to continue in the competition. This is a Hunger Gamesworthy drama that wreaks Machiavellian havoc on the singers, the coach that must make the decision, and the viewer. Forcing the coach and the viewer to choose between two very different, but both appealing, singers is precisely the tension that makes the much-loved/oft-scorned trope of the love triangle so powerful (and so polarizing) in YA lit. It’s intoxicating to know that there is so much talent to choose from, empowering to decide who is worthy of staying, and humbling to have to end someone’s dream. I mean, at least that is totally how I feel every time I’m forced to choose between two really attractive, really talented people who want to date me. Right?

The Culling by Steven dos Santos5. Because The Voice has to be watched in real time (if you have tv, which I don’t) or online (which I do), there isn’t the option to marathon it (my favorite way to watch tv), which is a real shame, because the arc of The Voice is not that of your mama’s reality show. Unlike most reality tv shows, which are episodic and therefore repetitive, there are multiple phases of The Voice, so we watch the singers develop, see their personalities as artists cohere, and get attached to them, just like characters in a novel or fictional tv show, which is a really smart narrative choice. First we’re introduced to the singers’ backstories and fall in love with their voices. This is like the first quarter of a book where we meet the characters and see who’s who. Next, before we’re too, too committed, but after we’ve formed allegiances, we have to watch singer after singer die from exposure, arrows to the throat, poison berries, and tracker jacker stings be eliminated from the competition in the Battle Rounds. But wait! There are steals, whereby some lucky singers are saved and switch teams, shifting allegiances immediately—just like when a character is blackballed by her friend group and has to find another table to sit at in the cafeteria (or my father moves cities and has a new favorite sports team).

Friday Night LightsThen, after the teams have been whittled and stolen down to their very essences, when you think you couldn’t bear to lose even one more person, most of them leave you and go off to college! Ahem, I mean, get eliminated. Because the third stage of competition finds us in the Knockout Rounds, where two singers from a team compete against each other with songs they each choose for themselves. Here singers’ personalities emerge even further and who the judges choose to continue in the competition depends as much on their song choice and vision as it does on their execution. This is the part of the book where a character realizes that she has to be true to herself because even if she succeeds, if she does so on someone else’s terms, it ain’t nearly as sweet. Finally, the Live Rounds shift the power from the judges to the voting audience, changing it from Debate Team to Popularity Contest (there goes the neighborhood) in a display of “taste” that has often been as heartbreaking as having your school cancel its football program, if you know what I mean.

So, it is for these reasons (and more, like, say, awesome music, and the fact that it resurrects Carson Daly from his mid-to-late-1990s MTV Total Request Live VJ past and puts his crooked little face back in the action) that I am totally, unapologetically a fan of The Voice. And, I’d wager, they’re why a lot of YA lit-loving folks love The Voice when they couldn’t care less about shows like American Idol. What do you think? The Voice: love it? hate it? indifferent to it? Tell me why in the comments!

Favorite New Show? White Collar!

5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching White Collar!

White Collar

by REBECCA, January 21, 2013

For a few years, Netflix has been recommending White Collar to me and for a few years I’ve summarily dismissed the recommendation. My logic: “You know what’s boring? White collar crime.” But, through a series of (frankly uninteresting to anyone but me) circumstances, I found myself deciding I’d give the pilot a whirl, just to prove to Netflix that they were wrong. That, while, sure, I love me some Law and Order SVU and some Bones and some Lie To Me does not mean that I’m a sucker for any procedural show with a unique premise and a set of codependent partners.

Boy howdy, was I wrong. Turns out, I am a sucker for a smart and unique show with codependent partners, which White Collar definitely is. So, to save you from making the same mistake that I did and, thus, depriving yourself of a true joy, I present to you: 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching White Collar!

1. Expertise & Monomania! Holy hell, is there anything that delights me more than people who know a shitload of super-specific information about a lot of things and a single-minded drive to pursue those things? No! (Or, at least, nothing that’s any of your business.) So, the premise of White Collar is that Neal Caffrey (played by the delightful Moby Dick final chaseMatt Bomer)—expert art forger, counterfeiter, thief, confidence man, and all around freaking charmer—cuts a deal with the FBI to be released from prison (he’s already escaped once, NBD) as an expert consultant in the white collar department. He’s partnered with agent Peter Burke, who put him in prison in the first place. The point? Neal is an expert in all things associated with forging, art, counterfeiting, breaking in places, stealing things, puzzles, and math. He can forge the Mona Lisa, signatures, and any piece of identification you can imagine.

But, just as interestingly, Neal is an expert at reading people. He is immensely charming and can tell what people want and what their weaknesses are. It doesn’t hurt that he is distractingly handsome and dresses really well. (Seriously, though, he’s the kind of handsome—not so model beautiful that it’s ridiculous and smiley enough to be super engaging—that I can’t imagine having to deal with it on a daily basis. Like, I wonder if Matt Bomer’s boyfriend is ever trying to tell him that, like, he put too much chili powder in the stew and instead finds that he’s just been staring at Matt Bomer’s face, not having noticed that forty-five seconds have gone by?) As the show continues, Neal’s many and varied expertises keep revealing themselves. Seriously, it’s goddamned beautiful to watch (just make sure you’re not feeling like a failure when you start watching).

2. A Married Couple Without Kids! Peter Burke and his wife Elizabeth (Tiffani Thiessen, aka Kelly Kapowski from Saved By the Bell in a charming turn) have been married for ten years and have no kids. Why does that matter? Because it’s one of the few portrayals on tv (at least that I’ve seen) of a couple who have a great relationship where they actually care about the details of each other’s lives as opposed to being bored with each other, cheating on each other, or only caring about their kids’ lives. They’re pretty cute together, and not in a gross, schmoopy way. Elizabeth runs her own party planning business but she’s also super into hearing about FBI stuff; she often gives Peter insights and likes to talk through cases, and she’s smart, so it’s charming. Anyway, I didn’t notice for the whole first season how rare (and refreshing) it is to see a couple that is crazy about each other (and their super cute dog!).


white collar 3. Odd Couple In Love!
Speaking of couples in love, Peter and Neal totally adore each other and the show delights in how much they respect, admire, and infuriate each other. Peter (played by Tim DeKay, who I loved in Carnivàle) was the agent who pursued Neal for years and eventually put him in jail, and it’s clear that he respected the hell out of Neal as a brilliant criminal. When Neal was in prison, he sent Peter birthday cards and other such cheeky things. From the moment they start working together, it’s obvious that Peter is absolutely delighted by Neal, both professionally and kind of like a little brother. Neal clearly feels genuine affection and respect for Peter. Peter admires Neal’s charm, intelligence, and ability to always land on his feel; Neal admires Peter’s honesty, principles, and dependability. They are the perfect odd couple and goddammit it is delightful to watch their relationship develop. This is the definition of a buddy-buddy homosocial partnership (think Supernatural, but without that whole . . . brothers thing).

White Collar Mozzie4. Nerd Power! White Collar is definitely a show that celebrates the nerdy, from science to obscure historical factoids. Sure, many of the nerds in question are overly attractive, but not my favorite nerd. Enter, Mozzie (Willie Garson)! He’s Neal’s oldest friend and is brilliant, well-read, and nerdy! He has a penchant for wine, cravats, hanging out at Neal’s house, and clever turns of phrase. In combination with Neal, he’s devastating in a number of areas. Like, I think between the two of them they could probably topple governments or steal the entire contents of the Louvre.

When I first started watching White Collar, I thought it was a superficially fun show that kept me intrigued because of all the above. However, after a few episodes, I started thinking that it was a really smart show, in terms of writing. In each episode, there is a crime/scheme that Neal and Peter need to solve (that’s the procedural part). As such, each one is a little mini-mystery, like most procedurals, but unlike many shows of the whodunnit variety, White Collar‘s crimes are often much more complicated and smarter. These are elaborate schemes by criminals of Neal’s ilk, so it’s often as delightful to see the criminals’ intelligence as it is Neal’s. But it isn’t just the plots that are smart, it’s also the writing. One of my pet peeves in television writing is when characters don’t have properly differentiated voices (vocabularies, knowledge sets, syntaxes), but White Collar definitely delivers. Mozzie, in particular, has an awesome voice and backstory. You know a show’s writing is good when you don’t even notice it for a few episodes.

5. A Conflict Of Interests! One surefire way to create persistent and natural dramatic tension is to have characters who share one goal or interest, but have essentially conflicting interests in another area. The reason Neal wanted to be let out of prison (and treasureescaped in the first place, as we learn in the first five minutes of the pilot, so I’m not spoiling anything) is because his ex-girlfriend left town and he wants to find her. So, alongside the cases that he works with Peter, Neal is also trying to solve the mystery of where she went. Then, in later seasons, he has even bigger personal . . . pursuits. This makes for a really awesome dynamic: Peter trusts Neal intrinsically as it concerns his expertise, and adores him as a person, but knows that very expertise could allow Neal to try and escape or perpetrate schemes under his nose. Neal, on the other hand, has obligations and desires that force him, again and again, to choose between them and his loyalty to Peter. It’s all very dramatic!

White Collar seasons 1-3 are available on Netflix now.

10 Reasons Why You Should Be Watching Suburgatory

by Tessa

I’d finished Breaking Bad. The new New Girl was under Hulu embargo. I watched all of Don’ Trust the B*tch in Apt. 23 when I visited Rebecca (it counts as bonding, ok?). Make it Or Break It was sadly cut short in its prime. I still am resisting Gossip Girl for some reason. What was I to do with my “turn off the brain” time?

Then I read an article about Suburgatory. Which I can’t find right now. But it does exist, because it’s too boring of a reason to make up. I felt compelled to watch it, because A. the girl’s name is Tessa, and I have to scrutinize all bearers of my name who appear in popular media B. the article compared it to the WB’s Popular, which I remember liking and should watch again and C. it’s on ABC which is apparently home to all shows that I will become addicted to.  But what, you may ask, is the particular appeal of this show?

1. A Gilmore Girls-style family pairing

In no way are Tessa and George fast-talking homebody small-town bffs like Rory and Lorelai, but they are a father and daughter who have grown up with only each other, have their own inside jokes, and, because George has moved Tessa out to the richie-rich suburbs of Chatswin, NY, they have a us-against-the-world vibe going on. It’s touching to see and a little different than some of the nuclear family stuff or blended family stuff you see on sitcoms.

2. Suburb satire

The cafeteria offerings.

Everyone in Chatswin is obliviously ridiculous and the set designers and writers aren’t afraid to go over the top, while keeping everyone human.  After all, we’re supposed to see why Tessa feels like she’s an alien but also see how she can get used to the Chatswin bubble. So the water fountain in the school has fresh lemons and limes in its holding tank, and prime rib and sushi for lunch. There ends up being a pet kangaroo for one of the characters. Dallas, the lonely wife who commissions a skylight from George only to become his first new Chatswin friend and a strange kind of mother figure for Tessa, opens up a store that sells only crystal, as in blocks of crystal etched with portraits of loved ones, crystal chef hats, and crushed crystal called “Tears from Heaven.” The Halloween episode this season is about “The Witch of Chatswin” who ends up just being… a feminist.  And the bumbling, self-absorbed, but genuinely enthusiastic guidance counselor, Mr. Wolfe, comes out to the student body by saying something like “I’m gay, which means I will now be driving a Mazda Miata.” I think the best part about the absurdity of Chatswin is that it’s not all in your face suburb satire all the time. It comes out in one-off jokes and sub-main plotlines, and no one reacts to it except for Tessa and George, which heightens the feeling that this is real life for these people.  It doesn’t stop to explain itself and that’s funny.

3. A great cast

Although I think Jane Levy is cute as a button, droll, and good at stomping around like a real teenager, she still seems a little too old to be believable. Luckily, the good attributes outweigh the weirdness, Jeremy Sisto and the other main cast members are great (more on that later), and George and Tessa’s next door neighbors played by are Ana Gasteyer and Chris Parnell. Jay Mohr plays Dallas’ oft-travelling husband who is mainly worried about shoes being worn in the house while he’s gone. Mr. Wolfe is played by Rex Lee from Entourage; I don’t know if that means anything to anyone but he’s really funny on this show. Tessa’s next door neighbor and best friend comes to us from Weeds, and even though I’m sad to see that she lost her normal body to become thinner and blonder as the seasons progress, she’s still hilarious and a treat every time she’s on screen, so it hasn’t affected her character. And she did just graduate high school (omg) so I shouldn’t judge at all because bodies are still settling into themselves and forget I said anything.

4. Jeremy Sisto acting funny.

Sisto has played so many douchey characters that it’s surprising to see him play a dad. A normal, slightly neurotic single dad who attempts to make his daughter break a date by planning a surprise board game night with her friends.

And it works! Except when he tries to date Alicia Silverstone. I didn’t buy that at all.

5. The Mean Girls aren’t really mean.

Dalia, the daughter of Dallas and what passes for Tessa’s nemesis, is clearly modeled on Paris Hilton, with her blonde hair, eyes ringed with smudgy black eyeshadow, and deadpan delivery of all her lines, often ending with a crisp “bitch.”  Her minions are, as so often is the trope, foolish followers. No one, though, is really following them, and no one is really their target. (Except for one instance in the pilot episode, and I think the writers realized their misstep after that).

Most people at Chatswin High have their own money and social status, which makes for an almost neutral playing field.  We catch glimpses of nerdy characters, but they are clearly preoccupied with their AP classes, and Tessa, who often interacts with and is therefore insulted by Dalia, has too much self-esteem to let it effect her. Dalia’s insults are more because she has no etiquette or filter between her brain and her mouth, rather than a desire to hurt anyone. If anything, she just wants people to go away because she’s so solipsistic, not have a crowd of worshipers following her. It’s kind of refreshing.

6. Awkward neighbor is not really awkward

Lisa might be my favorite character on Suburgatory. She starts out being a flustered girl who wears a cream-color based palate, accented with tiny flowers, bullied by her controlling mother. Early in the first season we have this exchange at the end of a forced neighborly dinner between the Shays and the Altmans:

Lisa: May I be excused? I’m having a terrible time.

George: What about dessert?

Sheila: Lisa can’t have dessert.

George: Whu-uh, Why not, the sugar?

Sheila: No.

But she slowly takes a page from her own mother’s book and uses it to rebel against her tyrannical reign. And I don’t think it’s all due to Tessa’s Manhattan influence. You can just tell that that spark was living inside of Lisa, waiting to start burning. Everything she says has this undercurrent of plotted derangement, and there’s no episode about how she’s afraid to get a boyfriend. She just gets one, no angst, and proceeds to gross Tessa out with her PDAs.  (And her boyfriend, Malik, is also a funny character. He’s mostly a well-rounded dude who is very into the school paper, but is also part of a Medium fan club and will very occasionally be seen to dress like Patricia Arquette.)

Lisa is disgusted by high fives.

7. Cheryl Hines rocks her character, and has the best accent.

Cheryl Hines plays Dallas, and she imbues the stereotype of a bored trophy wife with real charm.  Then she subverts the stereotype by being a happy-go-lucky loon, not at all weighed down by the grim business of beauty. And she has the weirdest accent that is not southern, but sort of is. If a voice could be “tangy” that would be Dallas’s voice. Here’s the first time we get to hear it:

8. Alan Tudyk’s crazy smile.

9. Jane Levy plays a kind of reverse teenage Carrie Bradshaw/Daria/Cady from Mean Girls hybrid and it somehow works.

Ostensibly Jane Levy’s Tessa is the crux of Suburgatory. It’s her life that is being upended and her voiceover that delivers the Carrie Bradshaw-like homilies at the end of the episode. As you can tell, though, the show is about much more than Tessa.  Instead of a woman embracing the big city and writing about it, Tessa is forced to embrace the suburbs and live… about… it. And instead of being fashion obsessed and finding herself she’s obsessed with being true to herself and not caring about fashion (her outfits are still cute).  She wears motorcycle boots and skirts and plays the outsider/observer, but she’s also not so invested in that role that she won’t become involved in the world of Chatswin. And she’s not too cool — in fact, when she goes out of her way to define her coolness it ends up making her look dorky, and that’s very endearing.  For instance, her favorite band plays at her 16th birthday party and for the first song it’s just her rocking out on the dance floor, with that face that means that you’re REALLY FEELING THIS SONG more than ANYONE ELSE, and when a poetry class is being taught by a tattooed teacher, Tessa trips all over herself to try to be the star pupil, creating a monster of a mother poem in the process.

the I’m Feelin’ It face

Which leads me to my last reason–

10. Because if there’s going to be a character named Tessa on American TV, I’m cool with this one.

Fall’s Young Adult (ish) TV Lineup

A List of Exciting YA(ish) Shows Premiering Fall, 2012 & Some to Catch Up On Before They Return

By REBECCA, August 13, 2012

Well, folks, it’s that time of the year again. The time when, were I still a student, I’d be getting jazzed about buying shiny new pencils and woodsy-smelling notebooks. Instead, now that I’m an adult (cue laugh track), I can put aside childish things and—you know—decide which characters I want enter into borderline unhealthy but oh-so-enjoyable emotional relationships with. Yes, it’s time for a roundup of the YA(ish) tv shows I’m excited about for the fall!

Now, I don’t have cable tv, so my relationship with shows has long been a model of binging once things are out on dvd or on Netflix. This has always worked out fairly well for me because I am inherently a glutton with no self-control or patience whatsoever, so I don’t like to have to wait and watch shows one episode a week. However, lately I’ve felt like tv is getting too good to have to wait months or years to try a new show. And, let’s face it, Netflix is deteriorating into total crap with the advent of other avenues of streaming video. So . . . just this week I decided that, goshdarnit, there is NO REASON why I should deny myself the joys of watching shows in (quasi-)real time any longer! So, I’m going to try out Hulu Plus for the Fall premieres and see how I like it.

(Also: I shall attempt to live in a world where shows only come on once a week, thus hopefully breaking the breakout cycle of glutting myself on a show, feeling bereft when it’s over, and then immediately needing to fill the void with a new show, no matter how awful—yes, Dawson’s Creek, I’m looking at you! Extrapolate from this statement any hypotheses about my personal life that you will.)

YA(ish) Show Premieres I’m Excited For This Fall (by premiere date)

Nashville, ABC

Series Premiere: Wednesday, October 10th

Nashville Connie Britton Hayden Panettiere ABCHoly rusted pickup, Batman, am I psyched about Nashville! It stars my beloved Tami Taylor Connie Britten as the queen of country music whose label thinks that she could use a hot young thing (Hayden Pannettiere) opening for her on tour to spice up her image. Naturally, this turns into a mega diva-off, when it becomes clear that the newcomer is trying to steal her spotlight. So, basically, it seems like it’ll be Country Strong meets All About Eve—or at least that’s what I’m hoping for. I really cannot stress how much I love musicals or how strongly I feel that there should be more of them.

Arrow, the CW

Series Premiere: Wednesday, October 10th

Green Arrow CWThe CW’s take on DC Comics’ character Green Arrow. Dudes, I’m a sucker for anything superhero related, so I’m open-minded about this show, even though I can’t quite imagine what a superhero show on the CW would look like. There have, of course, been many a comic-based movie franchise lately, but I’m jazzed to see the kind of comic-like scope that serial tv can bring to the Green Arrow world.

The New Normal, NBC

Series Premiere: Thursday, October 11th

The New Normal Ryan Murphy NBCThe new show by Glee creator Ryan Murphy tells the story of a single mom who is looking to escape her small town (and bigoted grandmother) allows her young daughter to convince her to move to L.A., where she gets the money to follow her dream of going to law school by becoming a surrogate for a gay couple. I’m kind of scared that this show is going to be a horrible tale of metro-homonormative assimilation, but I’m totally going to give it a chance because a.) Ryan Murphy and b.) the preview looks mildly hilarious due mainly to the antics of an extremely racist and homophobic Ellen Barkin.

Beauty and the Beast, the CW

Series Premiere: Thursday, October 11th

Beauty and the Beast the CWBeauty and the Beast meets crime procedural (maybe?). Homicide detective, Cat, meets the mysterious man—or beast—who once saved her life. He has been hiding out for ten years, protecting his secret: that when angry he totally Hulks out into a beast. Cat agrees to keep his true identity a secret, and he begins to help her solve cases. And, of course, they become drawn together in ways that I’m sure are mutually delightful and destructive. I know, I know: this show will probably be terrible, but I can’t help but hope that maybe it’ll be kind of like Angel meets The Vampire Diaries meets Jean Cocteau . . . no?

YA(ish) Shows I’m Most Excited Are Returning in the Fall

Once Upon A Time, ABC

Season 2 Premiere: Sunday, September 30th

Once Upon A Time ABCI really enjoyed the first season of this show by the producers of Lost. All the fairytale characters we have read about in books have been cursed by the evil queen to forget who they really are, and are trapped in the small town of Storybrooke, Maine. Throughout the season, the lines between their Storybrooke lives and their fairytale lives become dangerously blurred (and shit gets dark near the end!). Sure, Once Upon A Time has silly moments, but I was always intrigued by its machinations and slow unfolding of the relationships between characters in both worlds.

Supernatural, the CW

Season 8 Premiere: Wednesday, October 3rd

Supernatural Sam and Dean WinchesterOh, Supernatural, how do I love thee? Lots and lots. I know: it’s in its eighth season, so if you haven’t been watching, there is a lot to catch up on . . . so you better start now! Sam and Dean Winchester are brothers who fight evil. Done. This delightful gem of a genre show began with humble one-off mysteries and slowly built to a totally epic scale. Ok, so the last season wasn’t the strongest season of television ever written, but I am choosing to have faith that the brothers Winchester can keep it worth my while.

Gossip Girl, the CW

Season 6 Premiere: Monday, October 8th

Gossip GirlThis is the final season of Gossip Girl, friends, and I’m expecting it to be epic. Not so much because the last season was so good, but because I imagine all the writers and costume designers and directors being, like, “hey, it’s the final season of a totally over-the-top show; of course I must make everything outrageously showy and dramatic!” For those of you who haven’t watched the double G, you should check out my list of 10 Reasons Why You Should Watch Gossip Girl here and GET ON IT.

Smash, NBC

Season 2 Premiere: Midseason

Smash NBCSo, you know what I said above about loving musicals? Y’all, I loved the first season of this show! It chronicles the journey of writing, casting, and premiering a musical about the life of Marilyn Monroe. There a lots of fun characters and we get great character development, but it’s still a fast-paced show, and for the love of god it’s a freaking musical. The songs are catchy; the lyrics are charming; the singing is awesome; the dancing is fun; and there are people pretending to be Marilyn Monroe—what more do you want? Me? Nothing. I know the title of this section says that these are shows premiering in the Fall, but this one is too good not to include, and also I simply can’t believe it got bumped to midseason in the first place.

So, that’s just a brief preview of the Fall shows I’m jazzed about. What did I miss? What would you recommend?

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