#CurrentlyWatching: The Royals

Here we go continuing with my weekly theme of “UK Shows (sort of?)” after Tuesdays post centering Our Girl. Today we take a step away from the realistic and venture into a bit more manufactured drama with The Royals. The theme is really fitting here, because despite it being about a fictional version of the British monarchs, this show is produced by an American Network (E!) that usually has more reality shows than purely fictional content. So … it might be set in the UK (they film there as well as far as I know) and it might be about the royal family but there’s definitely Americans behind it.

The Royals is another show that I have talked about before and I have called it a guilty pleasure back in the day. I would go away from that expression now, because there is no guilt involved with watching this show. I have chosen this specific Friday to talk about the Royals, because it is returning for its 4th Season this upcoming Sunday (March 11th)! It’s a return I have awaited eagerly and am just so excited about. I am a hardcore Loyalist (what the fandom is called) and for some obscure reason, the show even follows me on Twitter and that will always give the show a special place in my heart.

The Royals centers on the struggles and drama of a fictional version of the British Royal family after an unexpected death in the family is bound to change the entire future of the monarchy.

When I first thought about watching the show, I was sure it would just be silly over the top drama and I wasn’t wrong, but it is also so much more than that. Over the seasons, the Royals has proven to provide quality entertainment that surely never gets boring. It has witty and humerous writing but also real heartfelt moments. I think a lot of it has to do with a very visible increase in production value over time and a regular change in the cast aside from the main characters (bitter about some exits, but insanely happy about some of the new additions).

In general, I want to give a huge shout out to whoever did the casting for this show, because the actors actually look like family. There have been some photo edits where you can see the similarities in the faces and I am living for that kind of attention to detail! Sometimes the accents slip a little, as people on this show tend to play other nationalities than the ones they are in real life, but overall, I am sure you will quickly fall in love with this cast!

There are some … hints at who the real life counterparts of the characters might are, but this is by no means a satire show targeted at the current monarchy. Rather it is just supposed to be a fresh and modern take on the subject with a familiar environment to put them in. Quite frankly, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference if they had made them rulers of a fictional country, except that they maybe would have had to change the color schemes because the flag would have to be changed.

Usually I like to focus on all the positive things surrounding a show, but there is something that is nagging at me and I feel like I need to mention it as well. There have been several sexual harassment allegations towards Mark Schwahn, creator and showrunner of the Royals as well as formerly responsible person for One Tree Hill. A lot has come to light during this past year and I am always in shock when I hear something from shows I really treasure. I was so relieved to hear that E! fired Schwahn, because neither the cast nor crew should be subjected to a man like him. I was so sad to hear the accounts of the women involved as well as the tense climate when he was on set, but I was also really glad that their male co-stars and co-workers had their back. However, despite me very much approving of how this was handled, I just really hope it doesn’t put the show in jeopardy.  There are no news on Season 5 yet, but if you are able to, please tune in live or tweet about the show regularly. I don’t want these women, who were brave enough to come forward and give their support to the women from OTH, to not be able to continue work that they love because of one man. I am sure they will find excellent replacement for him, but the show still needs our support. 

Now, it’s time to get to my favourite part of these posts – the character spotlight! There were so many people to choose from and there was no way I would just be going with one. So, I want to start right with my OTP – ELEANOR & JASPER aka Jaspenor!

Thinking back, their relationship had such a problematic start. I mean, there was literal blackmail for sex involved. But my babies have grown so much with time. When this all started, Eleanor was a spoilt brat and Jasper pretty much a con man, but they uncovered each other’s layers and with that the genuinely caring and good people they are. Do they have issues? Yes, but that’s what makes them three dimensional characters with a past and baggage. If they are not endgame, then I renounce my title as Queen of TV, but it is such sweet torture watching them either way.

Another person I simply could not resist talking about is Willow. She entered the show a bit later on and replaced someone as a love interest, which was why it took me a bit to warm up to her. But as soon as Season 3 came around, I feel for her character hard. She is someone I can most relate to as she is honest, ambitious, witty and smart. She knows what she is doing as the royal family’s social media consultant but she is a generally humble person. Also, she’s a fellow Ravenclaw and the reason I keep using the below gif over and over and over and over.

There’s other people I would like to talk about but SPOILERS. As I mentioned above, I really appreciated some of the additions that came with the seasons. The show definitely has one of my favourite villains out there and I will love him even when everyone else hates him, cause I can.

That’s it for today! If you have watched the show already, how excited are you for the new season? Will you be giving this one a shot if you haven’t yet? Feel free to ask me anything in the comments if you need more info! Let’s talk!

#CurrentlyWatching: Our Girl

I am going to be upfront with you, but today’s theme is a bit of a stretch. I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to showcase this week, but I struggled to give them a connecting link, so “UK shows (sort of?)” is my theme. Let me explain! I am starting this week with Our Girl, which is a BBC show about the British military, so it is definitely a very British show, but I am sure it’s 90% not set in the UK because of the tours they are on and that’s why there is that question mark.

This is actually not the first time that I have talked about the show! It all started out with the 2013 movie (of the same title) about young Molly Dawes, whose life changes drastically when she signs up with an Army Recruitment Office. It was so well received that her story subsequently received an upgrade to a mini-series in 2014. There were five episodes in that season and I reviewed all of them very spoilery except for the pilot (here are the links for Part 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5). Unfortunately, there were scheduling issues with the main actress, so for season two and three the focus changed to another medic by the name of Georgie Lane. To this day, the reviews for the earlier episodes are some of my most visited posts and therefore I thought it was time to talk about the rest as well!

This is going to be a little different than usually, because I am going to show both the trailer for the movie and the TV show (for Molly as well as Georgie). It is not strictly necessary that you watch the movie before the show (I watched it later on but I understood perfectly fine what was happening in the mini-series), but I still want to include it for completion’s sake. Also, the Molly and Georgie storylines are separate, even if there are some characters that stayed the same and there are references to Molly’s life.

Both, the movie and the show, focus on how the Army can change a person’s life with a special focus on women in the military.

I hope I didn’t confuse you too much with my explanation of the show. It’s really a lot simpler than it might have sounded. Our Girl focuses on strong women in the military and delivers a seemingly authentic experience through and through (seen as I was never part of the military, this is just my personal feeling and not based on experience!). Even through all that, it never glorifies the actions of the military or war itself, but rather questions them and their rules.

The characters are all very likable. They are regular folks in very non-regular situations. There’s a lot of heart and personal drama that went into this franchise, but they also managed to show life while being on tour and all the different kinds of dangers the service personnel might face. However, they also show the contrast of how displaced the affected people might feel upon their return home.

It’s difficult to talk about one particular part of Our Girl, because it keeps changing focus. Each series puts the characters in a new setting with new faces and challenges all around them. As I have mentioned before, some people remain constants throughout the different storylines, but at the same time I recommend not getting too attached to anyone.

There’s a beautifully chosen soundtrack, with a new theme with each season. I feel like they got more budget for the series than they did for the movie, as it is a lot more aesthetically pleasing.

Obviously this show is about women. It’s in the title, it’s in the premise and I think it’s such an important focus as well. The women aren’t just army wives or the daughters here (although there is nothing wrong with that and those experiences carry their own struggles with them), but here the women are a vital part of the team, they are right in middle of things. I adored Molly’s character and was devastated when I first found out that she wouldn’t be returning. At this point, I have gotten so used to Georgie though, that I couldn’t even imagine the show without her. They are both strong in their own ways, not afraid to face their fears and conquer life, but there is one person connecting them and through that being that glue for the entire show – Captain James!

He is the kind of person who sticks to rules, but always takes care of his people and someone you would absolutely want in your corner when things get tricky. I don’t think there was a single person who didn’t eventually fall for him as he slowly started to open up in series 1 and I was more than happy to see that he became the constant the show needed when Molly was replaced. Through him, the story still made sense and provided that link to make it all work.

I will never forget the gruesome weeks it took until they revealed his first name and how I laughed when we finally found out. Or how he made me feel like I was in a certain coffee brand’s commercial, direly needing to try the Rosabaya flavour, even though I don’t like or ever drink coffee. Someone stop me from swooning over him all day long, please!

Anyway, this was my very rambly post about Our Girl. I feel like this wasn’t as comprehensive as it maybe could have been, but I hope my love for the show still came across! It definitely won’t ever get boring!

Do you watch Our Girl? Is it about something you are interested in? Let’s chat!

#CurrentlyWatching: A Series of Unfortunate Events

I know it feels that way, because I am posting this rather late, but I did not forget about #CurrentlyWatching. Not at all! To continue this weeks theme of “literary adaptations not just for kids“, I want to talk about Lemony’s Snickets a Series of Unfortunate Events.

After the movie adaptation (which I really liked to be honest, but the world apparently found to be quite forgettable), I was a bit cautious about Netflix attempt at doing this in the shape of a show. Of course, considering that there are 13 books based on the fictional life of the Baudelaires alone, the format makes a whole lot more sense and I am glad I gave the show a chance (can someone already make me Netflix’ official hype girl? I’d be so good at it!). Each book is roughly 2 episodes long although some liberties have been taken with the material and the storyline starts to diverge from its source material at one point or another. Currently there is one season out, but Season 2 starts on March 30th. (Also, I believe Season 3 is already approved for 2019)

After their parents die in a terrible fire, the Baudelaire orphans have to maneuver a series of unfortunate events as they uncover family secrets and try to flee the grasp of the unrelenting Count Olaf.

When I was little, these books were my entire childhood. Thinking back, I can’t remember the plot in detail, but I know how excited I was whenever a new part was released, how stupid the adults were in that story and how that proved to be closer to the truth some days than I would have liked it to be. Also, I remember that I should have taken the title of the series more literal. There’s a difference between seeing the misery of characters during the course of a series and knowing that the information you get now is the last bit you will receive, whether you like it or not.

Following the same recipe, but with a couple changes (as I have mentioned above), the show manages to capture the sinister and gloomy vibe of the books, yet also the hope and love shared among the siblings. There has always been a certain style element to this franchise (a kind of Wes Anderson influence if you ask me) no matter which format they took on and I appreciate it so much. It always adds to the cinematography in my opinion.

Since this is so near and dear to my heart, I was really critical about it in the beginning. I am happy to say that it turned out great and that I loved the show, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a couple of things that bugged me or surprised me at times. For one, I was really wary about Lemony Snicket having a face. This may sound strange, but for years and year the man was a shadow and to have him present in scenes and just face camera, took a second to get used to. I was pleasantly surprised by how well it worked. However, I am still on the fence about Neil Patrick Harris being Count Olaf. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s a great person and actor, but something in my brain won’t shut up about this just being another one of Barney Stinson’s terrible stunts. Having that mental image always in the background just really changed my view of his character and sometimes it simply felt like Neil Patrick Harris’ own personality or Barney Stinson was overshadowing Olaf. Overall, I definitely think they did a great job with casting though (seriously, my favourite version of my favourite guardian, Uncle Monty, so far!). There are so many amazing actors and actresses that fit into the show just because of the vast number of possible cameo slots. I bet you will love some of the unexpected faces that pop up over time!

There were some real twists and turns I did not see coming and I enjoyed that different take on this story that has accompanied me for so many years. Somehow the show managed to add depth and backstory to characters I thought I already knew everything about. Oddly enough, it works across several age groups and isn’t just doom and gloom at all times. It has light-hearted moments and, just like the books, it can teach you a thing or two.

I adore so many of the characters in this universe, but it is always the kids who really get to shine. Violet Baudelaire was a role model of mine with her amazing invention skills and strong character. Sunny was always a bit of a weirdo, but gave way to direly needed comic relief and sass. In the end, it was always Klaus Baudelaire I related to the most though (as already mentioned in this post here).

He is the bookworm in all of us, even though I could never share his passion for reading anything as long as it is text. Manuals just aren’t my thing. Of course, he has his faults as well. He can be stubborn and a know-it-all, but he always has his family’s best interest at heart. It’s not easy having to be such a responsible person at a young age, but he manages to remain a truly precious person that you want to protect at all times.

I don’t know if my memory is failing me, but I also appreciated that the Baudelaires and especially Klaus didn’t just let life happen to them but actually fought back. Again, I could be wrong, but I have the sneaking suspicion that they were push overs for a bit longer in the books, which is understandable when you are surrounded by mostly idiots who don’t believe a word you say.

So, that’s it for today! Have you watched or read A Series of Unfortunate Events? Are you excited for the new season? Let’s chat!

#CurrentlyWatching: Anne with an E

This week’s theme is “literary adaptations not just for kids” (I know, I am so fabulous at coming up with something new all the time) and I am very excited to talk about this particular show. I was pretty late to the bandwagon, but Anne with an E definitely needs to be talked about at one point or another.

This, by far, isn’t the first adaption of the Anne of Green Gables book series, however, Netflix really managed to give it a fresh take with a fantastic young cast and extraordinary detail concerning the set and costumes. So far there is one season, but production for the second one has already started in November 2017. Again, I have not read the book (BUT I have ordered it – progress! But seriously, Anne of Green Gables just wasn’t really a thing in my country, so you can’t blame me for not knowing it.), but I have heard that there were some changes made to the original narrative as well as tone, probably to fit into the darker and more drama-filled TV landscape of today.

Anne with an E chronicles the adventures of a young orphan girl as she finds a new home, love and friendship on Prince Edward Island during the 19th century.

Okay, I have to admit that I started watching this because I missed Canada. I am not sure how much sense that makes, considering the time this is set in and that Canada is huge and I wasn’t actually in that part of the country, but I still got the vibes that I wanted. Anne with an E is such an easy show to fall in love with. The visuals are simply stunning and no one on this planet can tell me that this isn’t the most stylish adaptation of the source material yet. But it really shines because of how emotional and gripping it is. Thinking back, I don’t believe there was a single episode where I didn’t need tissues.

As I mentioned above, there were some changes made to the story and that resulted in the show getting edgier than the books. In my opinion, this added greatly to the realism and the exploration of Anne’s past. Having said that, I don’t want you to think this is a super dark show, because it definitely is not. Anne with an E is a beautiful visual treat with a slow pace to accompany the gorgeous cinematography. You will laugh and cry, both out of joy and sadness.

I also really want to applaud all the actors and actresses involved in this series. Netflix always manages to pull amazing young talent out of seemingly nowhere (at least it feels that way for me), but the adults really hit home with me as well. The performances (aside from a very theatrical Anne at times) were so quietly convincing. It’s all a big part of what makes Anne with an E so charming.

Overall, I just really enjoyed the themes that were explored on the show. It is about all kinds of things, each of them relatably portrayed even with the very different setting from our world today. It is about growing up and finding that place called home. The adoption process and Anne’s background were an emotional roller coaster for me and her continued fight to be heard and accepted was so very inspiring. It’s about poverty and friendship. It’s about first love, loss and grief. Also, there’s a real feminist element to everything Anne does and I love her all the more for it.

Lastly, the show has an amazing theme song “Ahead by a Century” by the Tragically Hip, which doesn’t just fit the vibe of the show, but is another celebration of Canadian culture.

I could talk about Anne for days. She’s quirky, charming, smart, wonderful, has the biggest capacity for imagination I have seen on screen and probably knows more complicated words than me. She can also be overly dramatic and a real scene stealer, but I guess that is what makes Anne so very Anne. Even when I will admit that it can border on the point of being a tad annoying behaviour, Amybeth McNulty really made that role her own and I cannot imagine that being easy at such a young age. However, I feel like this part of the post is not just here to feature the main character and that is why I want to talk about Gilbert Blythe.

Gilbert is the guy everyone loves, except Anne. Even though the poor boy immediately takes a liking to her, Anne feels like he is just making her life harder and that’s true even if he never intended for that to happen. He is kind, smart, confident, incredibly cute (except when he pulls girls’ pigtails) and most importantly he doesn’t judge people by where they are from but rather who they are.

He is an overall good guy and doesn’t give up on Anne so easily, but rather uses her aversion towards him to start an academical rivalry he knew she wouldn’t be able to resist. I hope you can see where I am going with this, but it’s the perfect set up for enemies to lovers/the hate-to-love-trope. I adored seeing how Anne slowly changed her view of Gilbert and through that her feelings for him. I am really looking forward to where this is going in the future (although everyone who has read the books already knows, but the journey still counts!).

So, in the end, I don’t know how this show will fare with people who absolutely adore the books. I went into it pretty unknowing and that might have been the best way to watch the show. After all, there are changes! And they aren’t just minor ones either, but I still think that this show is like a piece of art that should be appreciated anyway.

Did you watch Anne with an E? Did you read the books? What are your thoughts? Let’s chat! (Bonus question: can you guess which show I will talk about on Friday?)

#CurrentlyWatching: Altered Carbon

And on we go with this week’s “Freaky Sci-Fi” theme. I like to present shows that are quite different from each other together and so this pick is the opposite in style to Travelers in many ways. I am talking about Altered Carbon.

Like many other shows and movies these days, Altered Carbon is based on books, in this case written by Richard K. Morgan. As seems to be a reoccurring theme with these posts, I have not read those books yet, nor am I sure I will pick them up. This just means I cannot draw any real comparisons between the source material and the screen adaptation, but I think we will all survive.
Altered Carbon is a Netflix show with one season out so far. I usually don’t say this, because I am a greedy person and always want more, but I quite liked the ending of the season. I think there are talks about season 2 (which have some storytelling quirks to figure out due to the finale), but I personally wouldn’t mind if that was all there is to the story, which is almost refreshing.

Human consciousness can be stored and transferred. A former prisoner now has the option to win his freedom, provided he can solve a highly complex and dangerous murder case.

Those of you who follow my tweets, probably saw me binge-watching and binge-tweeting about Altered Carbon on release weekend. When I was done, I knew that I had liked it but I had watched it while being sick with borderline hypothermia, so I wasn’t sure how accurate my judgment really was. But in the following days I saw everyone else’s reactions and I knew this was one of the good ones.

Altered Carbon brings you into a world where, if you have the money, you can live forever. Don’t like the body you were born with? Well, just upgrade your sleeve (what bodies are called) and you are settled. In all the stories I have ever read/watched/otherwise-consumed, I have never encountered one where it was smart to give humanity access to immortality. We simply aren’t built for it! This already brings me to one of the main topics throughout the series – immortality and all its moral ramifications and repercussions. It’s very thought provoking in some ways. If you are rich, you can’t just buy any body you like, you can also clone the one you have infinite times without ever even having to age. Would that be ground for unlimited freedom or a prison in itself? There’s a religion featured that absolutely doesn’t want to be reborn in a new sleeve, as it would taint the soul. But if you had the possibility to talk to murder victims by giving them a new sleeve to testify, wouldn’t that almost eradicate violent crimes? It’s questions like that, which although not always front and center, are the underlying current of the show.

Where Travelers is very understated, Altered Carbon is almost overwhelming you with information and vibrant visual cues. The CGI is great, in my opinion, and we gradually get to explore all the dark corners of this particular universe, while never getting all the information. I believe this is necessary if the show is thinking long-term, but I also think it might have been too much information otherwise.

With all the love I have for the show, it definitely isn’t perfect. I know I am terribly bad at giving trigger warnings, but let me tell you the violence in this one is real! There are multiple cases of sexual abuse and downright torture. In an almost Blade-Runner-esque fashion, women are definitely sexualised but I think the series really tried to show almost equally as much male nudity. I am really bad about talking about these parts of a show, because if I don’t care about it much, my mind can very easily just blank those parts out. Let’s just say, be prepared for some disturbing stuff.

This time, I really couldn’t decide on just one character. So, I am going to feature two. One is the main character, Takeshi Kovacs, and the other is a really quirky AI, going by the name of Edgar A. Poe (yes, exactly like the poet), who I sometimes loved more than the humans on the show.

As the name Takeshi Kovacs already suggests, the character is of Japanese and East-European descent. He comes from a very different world to the one we get to see and I especially enjoyed slowly rolling up his past episode by episode. And, not being a fan of flashback episodes whatsoever, I also really valued the background we got during that particular part of the show, even if I will always stand by the opinion that it is a tiny interruption of the natural flow of the storyline. Anyway, he is a very tortured man, who had to fight for survival from an early age on. I think he does what he has to, however, I do believe that he’d rather do what’s right in the process. He seems very loyal to the people he loves and respects, but also easily closes himself off from the world in order to not get hurt or hurt anyone else. In my mind, he will always be haunted by the things he has done.

In some ways, I think it was a bold choice to go with a white actor for Takeshi’s main sleeve during the course of the first season. In the book, you got Takeshi’s inner voice to show how he felt about basically being whitewashed, but that wasn’t possible to portray as easily in a visual way. I appreciated that the creators made sure to have two Asian actors portray other bodies Takeshi inhabited at least. There is still an element of racism in the 26th century setting and to show that, only minor roles in the book were expanded for the adaptation and cast with POC as well (Lizzie, to this day, being one of my favourites).

Now finally on to my lovable AI! Poe is the owner of the Raven Hotel (you see he can stick to a theme) and finds his first guest in over 50 years in Kovacs. As I understood it, no one uses AI run hotels anymore, because they become obsessed and stalkerish with their guests and that’s, of course, bothering. However, Poe is a real life saver. He would literally die for his inhabitants and is in general quite fascinated with humans. While other AIs seem to be fed up with humanity, he genuinely wants to help wherever he can. I think of him as the funny sidekick, who can be very weird, but is probably a better person than some of the actual people. Also, I will forever love him for quoting one of my favourite poems. I am easily swayed that way.

Okay, this post got super long! I hope you have a better understanding of what Altered Carbon is like but, please, don’t hesitate to ask questions if anything is unclear. The body swapping and such can be quite confusing.

Did you watch Altered Carbon? Is it something you’d be interested in?

#CurrentlyWatching: Travelers

At this point, I don’t think I necessarily have to say it, but I got another weekly theme for you! We are talking “Freaky Sci-Fi” today and on Friday and are starting it all off with Travelers. From what I’ve noticed, not that many people know it. So, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to showcase it a little.

So, far there are 2 Seasons of the time travel drama out there. You can watch them on Netflix, but they originally air on Showcase in Canada. There’s definitely more to tell, but it has been well received among viewers and even made it onto some list of Netflix, ranking it among the top 10 shows to marathon/binge-watch. So, here’s to hoping Season 3 will be greenlit soon.

The future is in peril! To prevent humankind from extinction, brave souls go on a suicide mission and transfer their consciousness into the 21st century to change what’s to come.

Usually I decide whether I am going to keep watching a show or not within the first 10 minutes. Whatever you do, do not base your opinion of Travelers on the first ten minutes! I might be sightly exaggerating, but they were dreadful. I didn’t understand what was going on and when I finally did, I didn’t enjoy seeing those situations over and over with different people. It just took way too long to really get going, felt hacked up and not like a good flow at all, but in the end I am really glad I stuck around.

The so-called Travelers leave their original identity behind and enter their new host body shortly before their moment of death, which they then prevent. Most of their information is based off of social media accounts or official records and digital papertrails. This makes for a great fish-out-of-water-scenario as the main characters have to pretend to be someone they don’t know in a time they’ve basically only read about.

Other than most Sci-Fi shows, Travelers is very understated. There’s not a lot of CGI or pompous effects, but rather a focus on interpersonal relationships and the drama that comes with wanting to save the world, but also having to preserve the cover of being an ordinary person. It’s more on the slow paced side, which gives the show room for character development and the exploration of the moral predicament the cast is facing at every other turn. After all, there are rules to time travel but nothing is what it seems and there comes a time when they have to decide which rules might be worth breaking and which ones aren’t.

Now it’s time for a new official part of my #CurrentlyWatching posts. I’ve already started to implement this a little in the past, but most of the time, it’s really the characters that make the show worth watching. So, from now on, I want to do a specific section to feature and spotlight one or several characters of a show that particularly enticed me. I am trying to get you attached here, but at the same time, I will try not to give too much away. Otherwise where is the fun in watching, right?

Already I struggled a bit to just spotlight one person for this post. After all, there is Trevor – one of the oldest travelers, yet the one who ends up in the body of a High School student. He is invigorated by youth, but struggles to fit into the shallow and reckless life the real Trevor used to lead. Then there is Philip – the historian of the team who has perfect recall and has to carry the weight of remembering all the deaths of all the people they might encounter, knowing that he is not allowed to change history, while also coping with a drug addiction that wasn’t made privy in death records of his host. Or maybe Carlythe tactician and soldier of the group, who finds herself with an abusive boyfriend and newborn baby that she cannot help but feel maternal for. But in the end I went with Marcy.

Marcy, the team’s medic, also fell victim to expecting a different life from her host, due to fake social media profiles. In truth, the real Marcy was a intellectually disabled woman and did not in fact have a relationship with David, who, in reality, is Marcy’s social worker. On the one side, I really enjoyed watching Marcy’s journey as she is one of the most enigmatic characters, but then again there is so much … problematic (not sure that’s the right word, but it’s what I am going with for now) with her character. Aside from the fact that they basically “cured” an intellectually disabled woman (which gets a whole new spin in Season 2 that I will not go into right now but I am also still not sure how to feel about), there is also the fact that she then proceeds to have an on and off relationship with her former social worker. Don’t get me wrong, they are incredibly cute. David is one of the most precious people out there, but the implications that come with that are staggering.

I am glad that it’s a topic that is discussed, challenged and by no means just accepted. David in particular struggles with his growing feelings for Marcy and knows what that means for his career and life.

There’s a lot happening in the two seasons so far. Some things I really liked, others I felt more iffy about. There is a tranquility to the show that is really appealing to me, but there are also single episodes that don’t work particularly well for me. In general, I feel like the show works better as a binge than one episode per week. There’s still so much potential in this story and their characters, so I am curious to see where they will go next.

Have you ever watched Travelers? Do you think you would want to check it out?

#CurrentlyWatching: Peaky Blinders

Let’s continue with this week’s theme of “family business“, but with a show vastly different from Dynasty. If you follow me on Twitter, you will have seen me gush about it all of last week and that show is Peaky Blinders!

I joined in quite late, considering that the show premiered in 2013 and already has 4 seasons available, but then again, I am really glad I could binge it all in a short amount of time, instead of waiting a year or more between season (seriously, Season 5 won’t be out until 2019 and I am dying a little bit inside, but am also super grateful the show continues). Peaky Blinders is made by the BBC, but is also available on Netflix in most territories as far as I know.

**Please ignore that the official BBC speaker pronounces Cillian as Sillian, because it is Killian and I am ashamed for them**

Set in the early 1920s, Peaky Blinders chronicles the life of the infamous gang by the same name run by the ambitious and ruthless Shelby family.

While the Peaky Blinders as a gang really did exist, the show has no claim on being factually correct whatsoever. Whereas the series starts in 1919, the real Peaky Blinders operated from around 1890-1920 and would have most likely been extinct by the time the show begins. There is no proof of any of the characters having existed (except maybe some of the opponent crime bosses) and the razors the gang has sown into their caps were a luxury product at the time that probably not even the Peaky Blinders could have afforded. So, I personally do not care about any of these things at all, but some people might want to know that this is not based on real history. I always saw it as a pure work of fiction to begin with.

Right from the get go, I quite enjoyed the family dynamic of the Shelbys. Whereas the family business, in this case a buzzing gambling den, is usually run by the eldest sibling, it is Thomas Shelby (the middle child) everyone looks to. None of the brothers have come home from the war the way they left for France, but he has taken up the responsibility to care for his family and to get them the life he thinks they deserve for their service to their country – by whatever means necessary.

Thomas Shelby is a complex character and I love him all the more for it. Is he a good man? Debatable for sure. I wouldn’t even go so far as to say that he always has good intentions in mind, because it wouldn’t be the truth. People fear him, but they also adore him. He provides protection, but at the same time he is often the reason people need protection to begin with. Whatever he does, it always feels like a two-edged sword. He wants to go legit, but in the end there is always one more thing to do, one last heist, one last mission. I am not sure he would actually be able to be content with a life in peace if it was right in front of him.

Cillian Murphy’s portrayal of Thomas is perfection in my eyes. He has no problem showing his callous and ruthless side, he can turn on the charm and self-confidence that is required to navigate certain situations, but there is also an underlying vulnerability and endless sadness to him. All this affects his every relationship at one point or another and shows how broken war has left him.

Women were at a clear disadvantage in the 1920s, however, I appreciate that there is an element of progressiveness among the Peaky Blinders. Women’s issues are discussed, equality is at least attempted and it is in no way implied that they are just damsels in distress that need to be saved and protected all the time. Women have their own head in this show and oftentimes sneakily manipulate the men in their small ways. I am not saying that the female representation is perfect, but considering the time period it is set in, I certainly enjoyed the direction they decided to go in.

There is no denying that the show can go quite dark and violent. I suppose that is part of the whole ogranised crime topic we are dealing with. However, it also handles topics such as mental health and PTSD in particular. Considering how little regard there was given to mental health issues at the time, I always find it interesting to see how people dealt with it. There is a lot of emotional trauma to deal with throughout the series and they constantly managed to break my heart.

All in all, I hold Peaky Blinders in high regard. It has most stellar acting in all roles, be it the main casting or supporting characters. The setting is not one you see on TV every day and even throughout several seasons, it never seizes to amaze me in terms of intricacies of the plot and characters. Also, one final shout out to all the epic walking scenes on that show. You should never underestimate how difficult it is to walk normal or cool while being filmed.

So, by the order of the Peaky Blinders, I command you to watch this show. Just kidding! But if you do think this one is for you, check it out and tell me what you think!

 

#CurrentlyWatching: Dynasty

I am on a roll, because this week has a theme as well! It’s all about family business, which usually means a lot of drama, backstabbing and generally business equating or overshadowing what one might call regular family life. Today’s show is a perfect example for that and it’s Dynasty!

Dynasty is another remake, because that’s just the kind of time we are living in. My mum still remembers watching the original show, but I can’t say that I do (admittedly, that show aired before my time). You can watch it on the CW or Netflix. I’ve stayed away from promoting shows on the #CurrentlyWatching feature that don’t even have one season out yet, because when I did that last year, some of them got cancelled and I was devastated (RIP No Tomorrow, Emerald City, Sweet/Vicious and Class). But then again, shows are always in danger of getting cancelled no matter what season they are in.

Dynasty follows one of the wealthiest families of America, the Carringtons, as they battle family drama and business scandals alike.

I wasn’t too impressed when I first started the show, which could have something to do with a certain person dying that I would have liked to see on the show for longer, but whatever. It fulfilled about every cliché I could possibly think of for this kind of show and I figured I would soon be bored. But for some reason I stuck with it nonetheless and that was a good decision. If you are looking for something with a lot of over the top drama that gradually escalates over time, then Dynasty is the show for you.

My favourite character so far is probably Fallon Carrington and despite her being far, far from likable, I do have my reasons. First, I love having Elizabeth Gillies on my screen whether it be on Victorious, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll or now this show, she is always highly enigmatic and worth watching. And second, Fallon is ruthless and ambitious – she is my new Blair Waldorf, who, to this day, is one of my all time favourite characters (despite inconsistencies and Gossip Girl being far from perfect). Both of these women were incredibly strong but with deeply rooted insecurities that surface in a certain mean girl attitude. Where Blair was focused on approval from everyone and her love life, Fallon is all business. I adore that about her, she just wants to make it on her own merits and won’t let anyone or anything get in her way of success. That doesn’t mean she has no love interest, in fact she has two. At first I wasn’t sure who’s side I was on, then it became more clear, but in the end I will just always be Team Fallon.

There’s a couple of things the Carringtons have to deal with, most of them having to do with murder and otherwise illegal activities. One of their biggest opponents through all of this is the Colby family. There is clear history concerning the parents, but we only slowly find out what the kids are up to. There is so much duplicity going on and I am mad about some developments, yet I am not completely against them. Before I make the judgment, I would like to have all the info, because usually there is some reason for vendettas.

Another character who grew on me immensely with time, but definitely not from the beginning, is Sammy Jo. He is Cristal’s nephew and starts living with the Carringtons after having tried to con Steven, Fallon’s brother. He develops such an interesting dynamic with both Carrington siblings, I feel like he has become an invaluable part of the family. Also, he brings all the snark and his banter with the head of the household, Anders, is just hilarious.

As you may have been able to guess by the characters I spotlighted, I don’t care too much for the “grown-ups” aka the life of Blake and Cristal and the likes. There’s still loads of drama there, but often I don’t understand their reasons behind their actions as well as I do with the younger generation, which in turn makes it even harder to relate to them (taking aside the fact that they are super rich and therefore have problems the average person wouldn’t particularly relate to to begin with).

In the end, I think this is either going to be an addictive kind of guilty pleasure for viewers or they will hate it. At least the opinions I have seen so far have been very polarising. I, for one, quite enjoy it and am looking forward to the upcoming episodes.

Are you watching Dynasty? What’s your take on the show?

#CurrentlyWatching: One Day at a Time

One Day at a Time is the perfect embodiment of this week’s them on #CurrentlyWatching – sitcoms with depth. As I’ve mentioned quite a lot now, I am not really the type to watch sitcoms and after posting this, there is really only one left that I haven’t talked about on here and that’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Anyway, that’s not why we are here today.

One Day at a Time is technically a remake of a TV show from the 70s, but I have never seen it. According to others, the show pays homage to the original sometimes, but I honestly wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about it. At this point in time, there are two seasons available for streaming on Netflix!

The show revolves around three generations of a Cuban-American family who lives in the same apartment together.

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I don’t even know where to start, because there is nothing not to love about this show. From what I’ve seen around social media, everyone is talking about the show and rightly so! One Day at a Time is fast paced, with SO much heart. While it may only follow the everyday life of the family, it manages to integrate so many different and very important topics, I am still amazed this show is real.

Penelope, divorced mother of two teens, seems like an actual superwoman. She is ex-military and now a hard-working nurse who handles the stress of raising two kids, having an old-school diva as a mother and battling with PTSD and mental health issues like a champ. Nothing she goes through is ever discarded, it is talked about and therefore easier to understand for people who might not have to deal with the same stuff. It is so very important to normalise things like therapy or needing medication to help with mental health as to make it less of a stigma.

Elena, Penelope’s daughter, is a feminist badass who has one of the best coming out stories I have ever watched. Seen as she is from a pretty conservative and religious family, it was interesting to watch how each of the other family members reacted to her revealing that part of herself.

Also, Ariela Barer plays her best friend and I love that girl (you may recognise her as Gert from Runaways). They face way more than teens should when immigration, deportation and long-distance friendship comes into play.

Alex, Penelope’s son, has traits that might be categorised as seeming feminine, but he is never made fun of for that. Also, I adore his relationship with his grandmother, Lydia. She is such a strong personality and together they are super sassy. Lydia in general is a dream come true. She shows that you can be religious and still accept the LGBT+ community in their entirety.

Lastly, there is Schneider, their landlord and friend. He adds the goofy element to the story and often helps to educate on topics such as “mansplaining” or white (male) privilege. In all of this, he never comes off as the bad guy. He genuinely wants to learn and just be part of the family. One of my favourite parts of the show is his friendship with Penelope. While a lot of shows would have tried to pair them off, it hasn’t happened yet and I am so glad about it! I personally only see them as being in a platonic friendship. I’d even go so far as to say that she sees him as a brotherly kind of figure in her life.

I am still amazed that the show managed to pack so much in those short 13 episodes per season. The second season was just as intense as the first one, but still had moments where you could simply laugh out loud. I can only recommend it to everyone out there!

Do you watch One Day at a Time? What are your thoughts on it?

 

#CurrentlyWatching: The Good Place

By some miracle, I am able to keep having a theme for each week of #CurrentlyWatching posts and this week is all about sitcoms with depth. I can’t exactly say what it is with sitcoms, but usually they are terrible at holding my attention. It’s not so much that I don’t enjoy watching them, but they rarely have a compelling overarching theme or storyline that compels me to watch every single episode. Well, until the shows came around that I am going to present to you now, starting with The Good Place.

The Good Place airs on NBC, has currently 2 seasons available and is already renewed for a third one (Major YAAAS! for that). As I mentioned, it’s a sitcom, so episodes are usually about 20 minutes long.

Eleanor died and made it to the Good Place. Or has she? A seemingly small mix-up that Eleanor refuses to clear up in fear of having to go to the bad place, leads to consequences for all the inhabitants of her new neighborhood.

Is everything really fine? No, it is not and it’s hilarious. Surprisingly enough, I keep meeting people who haven’t even heard of The Good Place yet, but for me it was such a breakout star when it premiered at the end of 2016. While it is funny at all times, it also manages to carry a life message or get an ethical point across without ever turning really heavy. I can appreciate that, because there are days you don’t want the heavy stuff on your screen.

Also, while the concept may seem formulaic, I can promise you that there are tons of twists and turns that you won’t be expecting. Obviously I am not going to give anything away here, but let’s just say it’s big and very good!

During the past two season, I’d say we’ve gotten a pretty good look at the main characters, without having seen ALL there is to them. With flashbacks (that are thankfully not overused) we discover more about the humans, but also Michael – the architect of the this particular neighborhood in the Good Place.

I like that there is such variation in the personalities. You are bound to recognize both, good and bad, traits in each of them that you are probably also able to find in yourself. Eleanor, for example, may be rude and selfish, but it’s mostly because she had to fend for herself from a young age on and therefore knows the world doesn’t hand out freebies. Or Chidi, the ethics and moral professor, who is so flustered by the idea of making the right choice that he sometimes fails to make any choice at all. I’d like to go more into detail, because these characters are absolutely fantastic, but I just realised how many spoilers are potentially in their description, so I’d rather have you discover them yourselves.

There is so much to love about this show. Janet, who can’t technically be classified as a person, is definitely among the favourite parts of the show. However, there was always something about Eleanor and Chidi’s relationship that fascinated me the most. Actually, all relationships Eleanor has are interesting, because they don’t just make her but the other person a better being as well. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that there are several main characters, with Kristen Bell’s Eleanor kind of being the main main character among them.

So, that’s it for today. I hope I could pique your interest for this show a little bit. Again, it is funny, explores some moral issues but never fails to surprise and stay interesting as it continues on the long run (seriously, the season finales are the bomb!).

Have you watched The Good Place? Do you like it as much as me? Who else is pumped for Season 3?