English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Category: Review Topic 2 (Page 2 of 5)

The New Girl Feel

While New Girl highlights significant matters regarding gender and relationships, the series rarely dwells on a particular topic for too long or with too much depth.  Like Jess, New Girl has been lighthearted and optimistic throughout each episode so far.  While the episodes have touched on issues such as body image and gender roles, there are merely threads of these issues, rather than ropes, maintained through the episodes.  Part of New Girl’s charm is that there is no real overarching plot or end goal that the characters are trying to reach.  As a result, each episode has little continuation from the one before except the same main characters and their daily lives.

Elizabeth Meriwether is the creator and executive producer of the show, while Luvh Rakhe is credited as the writer for the most recent episode I watched.  Meriwether’s most notable works include New Girl and No Strings Attached, a rom-com starring Natalie Portman and Aston Kutcher.  Luvh Rakhe is known for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, New Girl, and A.P. Bio, a new comedy TV series released this year about a philosophy professor teaching AP Biology.

Dialogue in New Girl episodes generally flow pretty well with little pauses or silences except when to prove a point or to generate some awkwardness.  The writers often include flashbacks to fill in the backstories of characters or explore the lives of the guys before Jess came to live with them.  In episode four, there was a flashback to a chubby, young Schmidt in a bunny suit trying to get his mother’s attention, which highlights his desire for attention and warmth, as well as his body image issues that have continued into adulthood.  Episode seven’s flashbacks regarding Nick’s handyman role hints at a socioeconomic difference between Schmidt and Nick through their views on when to spend money and when to put in the work yourself.

Nick fancy-fixing the toilet

With the series set in modern times and meant to feel relatable to its audience, it makes sense that the writers include snippets of witty quips and pop culture references to appeal to its young adult audience.  With the main characters in about their thirties, though, some of those references admittedly go completely over my head.  Regardless, part of what makes New Girl entertaining and relatable across generations are the situations that the main characters find themselves in and how they interact to solve those problems.  For example, Schmidt and Nick provide models for problems of class and financial discord in relationships, while Schmidt’s characterization magnifies issues of self-confidence and gender roles.

Unlike shows with more drama, such as Jane the Virgin, New Girl draws in its audience with quirky Jess and its more or less realistic experiences and struggles of four(ish) young adults trying to figure their lives out.

Perfect Timing in Fresh Off the Boat’s Writing

In the conclusion of season 1, the Huang family struggle with their cultural heritage. They feel that they have become so assimilated into American culture that they have forgotten their roots. In the end, however, they realize that, in fact, they have not lost their heritage, but instead choose to put on an American persona when necessary. In this blog I will discuss the writing of this episode.

The episode, just like the rest of the show, was written by Nahnatchka Khan. She has written episodes for American Dad and Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. Her parents immigrated to the US from Iran, so she can relate to the crisis that the Huang family face in the episode.

One of the most significant scenes in the episode is the revelation that Jessica has that the family is losing their culture. This scene occurs towards the beginning of the episode so as to clearly illustrate that this is the central topic. Jessica’s worry starts when their neighbor, Honey, tells her that “[the Huang family] are just like regular old Americans to [her].” During the scene, Jessica recounts all the American things they have started to do that completely contradict Chinese traditions. It seems as if one more contradiction keeps appearing. It starts with Louis allowing shoes to be worn in the house, then Evan comes in asking how to ask Grandma to speak English in Mandarin. As if on cue, Eddie walks in wearing a Rastafarian outfit for his world cultures project. Then, the scene culminates as Jessica realizes that she made mac and cheese for dinner. Obviously, Khan made each thing happen on perfect timing to add a comedic tone and dramatic effect. On top of the perfect timing of each element, the scene ends with a slow-mo huge crash as Jessica drops the pan of mac and cheese that fades out into silence. Khan does a great job in this scene of introducing the audience to how significant Jessica’s culture is to her by using such dramatic sound and perfectly timed dialogue.

The ending of the scene where Jessica drops the mac and cheese

In other parts of the episode the writing style is relatively similar to the rest of the season. There are a lot of events that happen quickly and right after each other with quick cuts between scenes with a small sound snippet used as a transition so as to keep the audience engaged and maintain an overall positive mood. This style is common among all shows in the sitcom genre and is comfortable and normal for an American audience. Khan decides to use this style because she strives to demonstrate the commonalities between an Asian-American family and a typical American family. Had she decided to choose a more unique and different style, it may counteract this goal.

The Musical Writing of The Mindy Project

Masterfully weaving together elements of comedy and romance without being overtly cliché is a difficult feat. Thankfully, The Mindy Project is stocked with witty, creative writers who are unafraid of leaning into classically complicated tropes to make them fresh and original. One clear example is the season one finale episode “Take Me with You” written by Mindy Kaling and Jeremy Bronson. Both writer’s careers are littered with household names – Mindy from The Office, an off-Broadway play Matt & Ben, and a host of stand-up comedy tours, and Jeremy from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Grandfathered, and Speechless. Outside of television, both wrote for their respective college newspapers (The Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern and the Harvard Lampoon) and Mindy has written two bestselling memoirs.

The fast pace nature of the show is what allows it to follow rom-com tropes without feeling overdone or boring. Specifically, Mindy is shown trying to seem “outdoorsy” on a camping trip to prove she is ready to move to Haiti with her boyfriend. The writing here uses the tent to demonstrate Mindy feeling trapped in her current relationship. The dialogue is quick to respond to the events bothering Mindy – before she is finished politely explaining why the lack of space is suffocating, the next irritation is already executed.

With most of the show’s dialogue being conversational, the lack of dialogue in scenes are notable. However, while there are periods of time when no one is speaking, there is never pure silence. Pivotal moments are emphasized with no dialogue, only music. This was used three times in the season finale. The first moment was Mindy alone, eating cake, overlaid with soft classical music. This returns to the main theme of the show – life will never work flawlessly, even when it externally looks perfect. She seems to have everything – the handsome boyfriend and a strong career, but she still retreats to be alone. This establishes Mindy as the heroine we know and love, as she wants her life to be like a romance novel but is never satisfied with the happily ever after.

The second musical interlude was upbeat pop and a montage of the doctors going into surgery. This reestablishes Mindy as a formidable doctor: while her personal life is reflective of the middle chapter struggle of a romance novel, she is excellent at her job.

Finally, there was the classic running through the streets to profess love trope, this time with music of increasing intensity. Here Mindy reveals she cut her hair off and is ready to change her life and move to Haiti. This scene had the potential to be cliché, but due to the comedy weaved throughout – her unsuccessful first attempts to reach her love and the clothes hangers chucked out the window at Mindy – it felt new. That is what is special about the writing here, the bones of the premise, theme, and scenes are all overdone, but the writing is so original and surprising that it allows everything to flow together perfectly.

Mindy unveiling her new short haircut to Danny.

Works Cited

“Mindy Kaling.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Oct. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindy_Kaling.

“Jeremy Bronson.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Sept. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Bronson.

Jessica Jones’ Suspenseful Writing

Dana Baratta wrote most of Jessica Jones season 1, but today I am going to analyze just episode 5. Baratta is known for writing several other shows such as The Secret Circle and Red Widow, but Jessica Jones is definitely what she is most famous for. She is responsible for most of the dialogue in Jessica Jones which is one of the most important aspects of the show.

The dialogue in Jessica Jones helps define the show and make it the great show that it is. Whether it be dramatic pauses or heated arguments, the dialogue helps add to the characters and plot to make the show amazing. Everything each character says fits in perfectly with their persona which helps make every conversation impacting and meaningful.

Most of the dialogue this episode is between different characters, but there are several points in the episode where there is no dialogue at all for a few minutes over a scene. Silence is used in this episode to make certain scenes more intense or scary for the viewers. These scenes are usually when Jessica is spying on someone or if there is a fight or chase. There is usually music or background noise during these scenes. This leaves the viewers to react in their own way to this scene and add to its suspense.

Jessica Jones Scene

During this scene, Jessica follows her neighbor Malcolm while he meets with her enemy Kilgrave. This is all done without dialogue, which makes certain parts awkward and others intense.

There are several flashbacks in this episode which gives certain characters more character development and lets the viewers know why some things are happening. Flashbacks this episode are primarily used to give viewers more context on Jessica’s past and add to her character.

Overall, the dialogue in this episode of Jessica Jones is mainly just people talking to each other with several flashbacks to give context. There are no voiceovers this episode, and there is rarely ever one in other episodes. Jessica Jones relies a lot on silence and the show wouldn’t be what it is today without it. This show relies solely on conversation dialogue and silence to keep it going and its viewers engaged.

New Girl’s Nitty Gritty Witty Writing

What would television be without masterful writing? Each television show has a different style of writing that makes it unique, and it is ultimately up to the writers (along with the director) to create a show that resonates with viewers. New Girl does just that, through its witty writing and attention to nitty gritty details that ultimately add a relatable humor to the show.

In the writers’ room for New Girl

In season 6’s “Last Thanksgiving” episode, the gang gets together for a holiday (because they are ~family~). However, chaos ensues as Jess tries to tell Robby, her handicapped friend, that he needs to stay in the friend zone. Schmidt’s father’s cheating scandals make matters worse, and Nick’s girlfriend bales at the last minute. In “James Wonder”, Winston takes on the alias ‘James Wonder’ for no apparent reason other than that he was bored. So while lying about his personal and professional life to Jess’ coworkers, Winston finds himself in a bit of a pickle, but he manages to get himself out of it and help Jess gain the trust and respect of the parents at the elementary school she works at. Are these plot lines ridiculous? Definitely. But, they are written in such a raw, witty way that the viewer can’t help but look past the absurdity and empathize with the characters.

“Last Thanksgiving” was written by Elizabeth Meriwether and Joni Lefkowitz. Meriwether is most well known for her writing for New Girl, No Strings Attached, and The Squid and the Whale. Lefkowitz is best known for Saw, Chasing Life, and Life Partners. Writer Ethan Sandler wrote season 6 episode 8, “James Wonder”. Sandler is known for his writing in Meet the Robinsons, The Bourne Supremacy, and The Princess Diaries. The dialogue is fast paced; jokes are quick, so the viewer either gets it or doesn’t. There is no voice-over, the viewer is intended to be a part of the gang. The writing reflects how the plot is heavily based upon the relationships between the main five characters.

Liz Meriwether, creator, writer and executive producer of new comedy series ‘The New Girl’, takes questions during a panel session at the FOX Summer TCA Press Tour.

Silence is used in many meaningful ways in these two episodes. In “James Wonder”, silence is used to show anticipation and the unknown after Jess made her ‘running for principal’ speech. She clearly thought the audience would not like her speech, and the silence included served to emphasize that point. However, what is most prominent about the writing is its wittiness. The writing in these episodes had a quick and inventive humor that is distinct to the show and its aesthetic. In “Last Thanksgiving”, Schmidt acted very similarly to Buddy the Elf, wanting to spend a ridiculous amount of time with his father participating in holiday festivities. The spats of dialogue and spars between father and son exemplify this wittiness in the writing.

Friendship is what ties this show together! They love each other!

New Girl is its writing. The viewer quickly realizes that friendship is what ties this show together. The viewer wants to be a member of the gang with Cece, Schmidt, Winston, Nick, and, of course, Jess. But it is the writers that make that occur.

Writing about Writing

The writing in Broad City is always very strong and funny. Particularly, in season 3, episode 7, the writing simultaneously explores two directions for a night ending that are completely different as Abbi and Ilana leave the club without each other. Abbi goes through an epic and eventful night that she is not proud of. Meanwhile, Illana sleeps with Blake Griffin and has a night that is more comical as Griffin is shown to be the perfect person. The writing is impressive as the viewer feels for Abbi who was robbed and laughs as Griffin and Ilana interact in over the top ways. Few shows have writing that can elicit more than one emotion effectively. The Ilana and Griffin storyline seems to have come straight from a Female writer’s fantasy. There interactions begin with both bringing up that they need to stretch before physical exercises which they both decide is getting undressed. Griffin undresses, censored to the audience, and Ilana laughs for a very tense time as Griffin crosses his arm. Later revealed to the audience that Griffin is too big, the two get creative with yoga and other clearly non-sexual activities til both climax. Their pillow talk includes Griffin talking about how women’s basketball is better than men’s and saying that women make everything better. As good as the scene is, an individual writing that amuses me more.
As always the show makes multiple callbacks near the end of the episode, similar to the function of a callback in stand-up comedy, it reminds you of how smart the writers are. As impressive as they are funny, it reminds you all the places the episode took you and that you accepted that two regular people went on a ridiculous journey often spanning large areas of New York.
The writers articulate the purest forms of comedy in their writing for Hannibal Buress as Lincoln, a dentist with a mind that scopes and works like no other. There is not a scene he is in that does not bring me to laughter.

See the source image

Here is Blake Griffin swaddling Ilana Glaser because his member is too big for traditional goings on.

The Writing of Julius Pepperwood – Zombie Detective

This week I watched Season 2, episode 14 of New Girl. This episode (“Pepperwood”) was written by Nick Adam. He has also written episodes of Men at Work, Bojack Horseman, and People of Earth, which are all shows that are somewhat like New Girl in their comedic styles. The dialogue in this episode is structured to keep constant conversations between the characters. There is not a voice over on the show unlike some others, so there isn’t a narrator to fill in the gaps. There is not a narrator in New Girl because the show is very relaxed and doesn’t need heavy direction. Shows usually use voice overs to inform the audience about the plot or more about the characters and what they’re thinking. Those additions are not needed here because New Girl is obvious on the motives and situations of the characters.

Silence is not really used in this New Girl episode. When there is silence, it is usually to set up an interaction between two or more of the characters. Since this episode was very comedic there was no need for silence to create build-up or tension. This episode was very dialogue heavy. Especially since this episode created a high amount of tension between everyone in the loft while trying to discover their “pogo’s”.

What’s your pogo?

One main issue seen in comedies is that the dialog can seem to be forced or awkward when jokes don’t fit but are still added. In contrast, the writing of New Girl and especially this episode, seems very natural. New Girl creates their humor through the interactions between the characters. This makes the show very easy to watch and very entertaining. I always like watching this show because it helps me relax and just de-stress. I can’t wait to binge even more of this show this semester!

Close your mouth. Close your eyes. His mom, I mean lover, is there!!

A Little Too Lighthearted

Episode five of Fresh Off the Boat is written by Sanjay Shah, who has written six other episodes of Fresh Off the Boat and five episodes of King of the Hill. Like all other episodes of Fresh Off the Boat, this episode features a voiceover, which is Eddie Huang’s thoughts as he remembers the events taking place. He clears up his thoughts at important times and gives some extra information we might not know as we progress through the show.

The writing of this episode is very similar in structure to that of the other episodes. A main story arc is introduced and concluded within the same episode, with smaller conflicts along the way. Also like the rest of the series, the humor in the episode is very persistent. I definitely enjoy this facet of the writing. It keeps me engaged and gives the show a very lighthearted and fun tone.

Sometimes the show’s focus on being comedic gets in the way, though, of which this episode is a very good example. The episode’s major conflict involves sexual harassment, and by extension sexuality. Louis is forced to give Eddie “the talk” after a sexual harassment video makes its way through Eddie’s school. This talk is shown in one scene in which Louis mentions that one of the reasons he came to America was so that Eddie could have a more liberal experience with sex than he could in Taiwan. But that’s about as far as it goes. Following that, the scene is composed of a bunch of jump cuts to other parts of Louis’s talk, all of which are comical in nature. Eddie’s voiceover in this scene expresses his gratitude that his father didn’t use the corny school-issued book to teach him about sex, which is something of a viewpoint that the writers may be expressing. However, I don’t think this can be read into very far, since the talk Louis gave was once again the punchline to a joke.

Louis gives Eddie “the talk”

This is a problem for me- the show brings up an important topic and begins to dive into it, but then cuts itself off and doesn’t really bring the discussion anywhere. It’s honestly confusing to watch, since I can’t tell what’s supposed to be a statement and what’s a joke. It leaves me unsatisfied- the show opens up a lot of very good opportunities for the writers to use their medium to convey a message about something important! But instead, they opt to keep the tone very lighthearted and cover things up with more jokes. This tendency is observable in other episodes, too. I understand the want to keep the tone of the show light and comical, but it still leaves things to be desired since the show by nature has a lot of important issues it can address.

Sometimes Silence can be the Greatest Storyteller: The Writing in Jessica Jones

Whenever I find myself analyzing Jessica Jones, I find myself realizing how unique the show is compared to its competitors. In accordance with the conclusion I made in my last blog, the dark mood of the show is also developed through the writing. This blog post will be analyzing a single episode, Season 1 Episode 7: AKA Top Shelf Perverts. I’m looking at only a single episode because 1) I haven’t seen the entire first season and 2) the writers vary per episode. This episode was written by Jenna Reback and Micah Schraft. Reback has written 9 episodes for Jessica Jones, and Schraft has written 3 episodes, although he has a variety of experience producing and writing for 3 and 10 shows, respectively. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that these two writers wrote the story as the producer intended it to be written, so it can be used as an accurate representation of season 1 as a whole.

Season 1 seems to open every episode in a similar fashion: there is almost always a full minute, or more, of near silence as we are transported into the world of Jessica Jones. This first minute of silence feels like it eases us into the show before everything picks up as the action begins. In fact, I would argue that most of the storytelling is carried by said action, rather than by speech. Jessica Jones, in particular, prefers to act instead of monologue out her plans. Many times, the show takes the viewers along for a ride, rather than holding our hands through the story. Conversation is used more as a tool for developing relationships between characters than driving plot. Because of this, nearly all conversation is between the 4-5 main characters, and chatter is kept to a minimum.

The infrequency of chatter further develops the show’s dark mood. In contrast, dialogue-heavy shows like The Good Place, one of my personal favorites, feel very lively. The rhythm of dialogue in Jessica Jones can be more appropriately characterized by alternating periods of heated conversation and periods of very little conversation. This reinforces Jessica Jones’ stance that the world can be a depressing, lonely place; the show may revolve around Jones, but that doesn’t mean anyone on the streets of New York cares about her presence. The moments of silence really bring that idea to life, in my opinion.

Above: Not only do the writers want to keep talking to a minimum, but so does the antagonist! Also, notice how much we can tell about the antagonist from the indirect characterization provided through this character’s line.

while (true) families = shocked; or why Switched At Birth hits its viewers over the head.

In any television show, the pilot episode’s writing commonly establishes the viewer’s expectations and the plot’s quality for the entire series, and Switched At Birth is no exception. Unfortunately, though, Switched At Birth, with its lackluster writing quality and pacing in the pilot, establishes itself not as a quality family television series but instead as a series that attempts to create a multi-faceted cast yet instead repeats plot lines ad nauseam and overuses musical cues, even in scenes centered around Daphne, the Deaf character, to the point of cliche.

Even from the beginning, it is apparent that much of the appeal of the series relies on obvious mood-shifting music. For example, in the first few establishing seconds of the pilot, with no action on screen, the writer (Lizzy Weiss, also known for producing Blue Crush and Cashmere Mafia) actively includes upbeat music, thus quashing the usual silence, which would normally be welcomed, in order to attract viewers. However, within mere minutes, another set of depressant music was included in an obviously emotional scene which would usually be silent, to indicate the severity of the gripping sadness, while within the next minutes, lyrical anguished music played over Daphne’s anguish when viewing Bay’s house. Although music can, and oftentimes is, used as a theme-setter for varying scenes, when played so obviously, not only does the series destroy most silence, despite the episode being premised on John, Kathryn, and Regina’s contemplation of their lives’ total reshuffles, but in addition, the very music that would otherwise be reserved for the most tear-jerking scenes instead over-saturates every moment, thus trivializing the writing.

In addition, though, each character lacks any depth; Bay is always seen as the rebellious teenager, considering her love of graffiti, art, and counter-culture, while Daphne is universally portrayed as the accepting, grateful daughter willing to use any resources available to its fullest potentials, and Regina is continually portrayed as the fiercely protective parent. Again, it is perfectly acceptable for a single character to lack depth, but for main characters to be one-dimensional shows a lack of skill in writing.

Depressingly, this photo summarizes nearly all of Bay and Kathryn’s personalities, and their dialogues do not improve.

Admittedly, there are positive aspects to the pacing and writing of the series; for example, voice-overs are never used, thus allowing characters to speak for themselves, and dialogue transfers easily from character to character, thus creating a more natural ebb and flow between, for instance, Daphne and Toby (when playing basketball). However, overall, the pilot episode simply lacks subtlety in terms of character development or musical arrangement to influence writing, leading to a disappointing episode.

 

Fresh Jordan’s… Fresh Writing… Fresh Off the Boat

“Home Sweet, Home School”, the second Episode of Fresh off the Boat, really sets up the way the rest of the show will operate based on the style of the writers. A team of four is responsible for writing this episode, including Kourtney Kang (known for her role as a producer of How I Met Your Mother) and Eddie Huang, the focus of the autobiography and the narrator of the show. I think part of what makes this show so interesting is that Eddie narrates his own past life. He knows exactly how he felt in the moment and how he feels now that he’s grown up. As much insight as this offers, it’s also valid to check ourselves with how much we trust him- I mean he is writing out his life for the world. The combination of he and Kourtney Kang in writing this episode makes for an interesting personality in the writing- with her Emmy nominated comedy writing skills and his life experience it really makes the show a worthwhile watch both as a social commentary and as a chill binge watch.

Image result for hannah montana gif

the best of both worlds ;)

This show is absolutely filled with noise. There is literally never silence. Even when the character to character dialogue isn’t going, there’s Biggie, Stephen King movies, NASCAR races, 90s hip-hop, and restaurant chatter in the back. The amount of constant noise makes the show really full and fun to watch. AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON EPISODE THREE
My goodness, when Evan did the voice over of the white moms talking at the neighborhood meeting, I laughed harder than I have in a while. Between the hip-hop tracks which emphasize Eddie’s moods, the clapback narrations, and Evan… well, being Evan, this show doesn’t stop with the jokes. The writing of this show is just absolutely on point for the message of it. The constant allusions to quintessential American favorites- Whitney Houston, Biggie Smalls, Karaoke, NASCAR, Blockbuster, block parties, basketball, denim jorts, and Jordan’s- make this show what it is. Hilarious.

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Jessica having her Whitney moment #mood

The “Personality” of Annmarie Morais’ KillJoys Episode

Throughout season 1 and 2, the different episodes of KillJoys were written and directed by various people. Although the central theme and storyline remain constant within season 1, if we look hard enough the “personality” of each episode can often be found here or there.

Today, I’ll be writing about the “personality” – writing aspect of one of the episodes in KillJoys, S1 E6, “One Blood”. Without a doubt, this is one of the episodes I believe to be the most interesting to analyse.

Written by Annmarie Morais, directed by Michael Nankin, the episode “One Blood” first aired on July 24, 2015, follows Dutch and her teams’ journey as they respond to a Black Warrant for a rogue Killjoy – Big Joe, who was wanted for stealing from company ships. It was later revealed that he had stolen a genetic bomb (although it is believed that he did not know what it is). After overcoming various obstacles, and revealing reasons, Dutch and her team finally finds Big Joe who in the end was voluntarily killed.

 

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Big Joe After Being Found By Dutch

 

To understand how and why a television show is written in a particular way, it is essential for us to understand the lead writer’s background. The writer of our episode, Annmarie Morais was born in Jamaica in 1973 to a Jamaican-Canadian family.  Annmarie Morais works as both a writer and producer and have won the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting in 1999. She is well-known for her involvement in hit TV shows such as Killjoys (2015), How She Move (2007) and Haven (2010). From a quick look at her profile, we can easily notice Annmarie Morais has been involving greatly in television shows featuring a “strong” and inspiring female lead character.

 

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Annmarie Morais

 

Annmarie Morais’ involvement in Killjoys and her leading role in episode 6, which we are focusing on, certainly brought in her style with her. This can be seen in the episode through how Dutch faced one obstacle after another; first disagreements within the team, then finding out her target is her respected mentor, afterwards getting abducted, but still staying strong and assertive throughout. This is pretty much unlike the other episodes by different writers where Dutch would often fall back a bit and have her team take over the lead such as that of “Sugar Point Run”. Furthermore, the whole episode is written with Dutch as the centre of focus throughout while for other episodes it’s usually an equal split between Dutch and her teammates. Moreover, the discussions between characters in also considerably more dominated by Dutch in this particular episodes, especially when she holds the monopoly over the decision making.

 

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Dutch and Her Team

 

Although Annmarie Morais is not known as feminist, her toughness and strong female character have indeed leaked into her writing, making her episode of Killjoys filled with its own kind of unique personality, just like her other television works. However, how much of this is due to Annmarie Morais’ influence and how much is from the writing team as a whole is certainly debatable.

Fresh Off the…Caddyshack?

Entitled “Showdown at the Golden Saddle,” the seventh episode of season one finds the Huang family pretty well settled into life in Orlando.  Keith Heisler wrote this episode and several other episodes of Fresh Off the Boat, as well as numerous episodes of American Dad! and Guys with Kids.  In addition to writing for these shows, Heisler has also produced multiple episodes for each show.  (see: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1510546/)

“Showdown at the Golden Saddle” is written very similarly to most episodes of Season One: Jessica and Louis argue/make up/bond, Eddie desperately tries to get a pretty girl to notice him, and Emery and Evan are perfect angels.

Since I knew I would be focusing on the show’s writing as I watched this episode, I paid extra close attention to dialogue, music, and references made by characters.  As with all other episodes, “Showdown at the Golden Saddle” is narrated by the real-life Eddie Huang, so it’s as if grown-up Eddie is reminiscing on his childhood.  This perspective shows viewers that our narrator knows exactly how everything will turn out because he lived it.

Intercharacter dialogue doesn’t make up all the noise in the show—we hear lots of exclamations and comments that characters make to only themselves.  However, we don’t get much silence in Fresh Off the Boat.  While there are frequent periods in which nobody speaks, these gaps are typically filled by rap songs, R&B songs, or background chatter.  This constant noise creates a stimulating, fast-paced effect, and I believe this intentionally symbolizes the tone of Eddie Huang’s childhood.

Generally, Fresh Off the Boat characters drop plenty of pop culture references: Eddie’s friends talk about the latest coveted video game, Jessica is obsessed with Stephen King movies, and of course, Eddie frequently shares his latest obsession in the rap music world.  However, in this episode, I found my favorite reference ever: Caddyshack.  When Jessica learned that Louis’s success at Cattleman’s Ranch landed the two of them a spot at a party at the local country club, she expects the place to run exactly as Bushwood Country Club did.  Even though she embarrasses Louis when she quotes the movie at the dinner (“Hey everybody, we’re all gonna get laid!”), her enthusiasm over visiting a completely new environment is palpable.  I think the show was intentionally written that way, too.  Jessica’s only expectations for a country club came from a highly stereotyped sports comedy, so naturally, her assumptions greatly differed from reality.  When the characters get most of their expectations from movies and TV, their reactions when they actually experience these things is humorous.

Overall, Fresh Off the Boat is written lightheartedly, but below the comedic surface, it depicts childhood the way Eddie Huang remembers it.  Every kid struggles to fit in at some point, but as the child of immigrants, that difficulty is magnified.  With both comedy and not-quite-but-almost-documentary, Fresh Off the Boat’s writers certainly have a full plate, but so far, they’re excelling.

The sole reason Jessica enjoyed Caddyshack, amiright

Fresh Cinematography in Fresh off the Boat

This blog review is about the cinematography and direction of episode “Success Perm” from Fresh off the Boat. The show starts off with a conversation between the mom and dad and when they are expressing their love for each other the directors used a close up shot of their hands and then panned up to show the children’s reaction in the background which really helped the viewers feel the vibe of the scene. The montage in this episode implements a bunch of quick shots and then is immediately juxtaposed by the long shot of the parents when they finished and got perms. The lighting in this episode is mostly bright lit to reflect the warmth of the house that was prepared for the visitors. The show also uses zoom effects in order to show intensity and seriousness in particular scenes. This episode, compared to the previous ones uses a lot more pans to show the shift in reactions from the parents to the children. Every time the parents express their love for each other the camera pans to the children showing disgust. Whenever the grandmas come into the scene, they are shown from a low angle shot to express their dominance and wisdom over their children and grandchildren. During the restaurant shots, the scene was introduced with a wide angle of the whole restaurant to show that the restaurant was actually completely empty. And during the conversations between the people sitting at the dining table, there would be quick shots going back and forth so that the viewers actually felt as if they were part of the conversation. Overall, the show does a great job of direction and cinematography in the sense that the viewers always feel immersed in the show.

Long shots and bright lighting like this exemplify the success that the parents are trying to project.

Wynonna Earp? More like Wynonna Sucks.

The writing in Wynonna Earp is mediocre at best, specifically the character writing. Not only are the characters all tropes, but they are also written in an incredibly boring manner. I will focus in on Episode 2 to give a closer look at how sucky the writing truly is.

 

I’d like to start first with Agent Dolls, a character so one-dimensional every conversation he has is the same. To be fair, it does not help he only interacts with one character, Wynonna, but he still fails at having any character traits other than serious. Dolls is ALWAYS talking about work and he ALWAYS sounds threatening. Most of the time he is talking to Wynonna, who is never serious, but even when he has a chance to talk to another character, he fails. When Officer Haught comes in to his makeshift office, he threatens her with death if she ever barges in again. Dolls is a simple character whose only motivation appears to be destroying the demons. Even when Dolls has a redeeming moment, saying he argued against the destruction of the town in New Mexico, the show does not explore it in any depth. Unfortunately for the show, Dolls is a totally weak character with no unique qualities.

 

Wynonna, the title character, is not written much better than Dolls. Admittedly, she does have more than one side. She has two sides. Wynonna’s first side is when she is speaking to Dolls. Here the show writes her as the exact opposite of him. When he is strict, she takes events with levity. Wynonna’s responses almost always consist of some wise-crack that usually fails to include any semblance of humor. I think the show is trying to portray her as a bad-ass that doesn’t take orders from authority, but instead she seems like an asshole. Dolls is usually trying to help, but Wynonna just makes a stupid joke. Wynonna’s second side is used when she is talking to her sister, Waverly. In these interactions Wynonna actually seems like a real human being. She speaks like a normal older sister would to her little sister, except she can’t resist cracking jokes. For some reason, the writers have Wynonna make wise-cracks while she is comforting her sister. Overall, Wynonna is a failure as the main character of the show. She has a flat personality and she fails to be even a little funny.

An example of Wynonna’s terrible one-liners

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