English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: #English1102TVFem (Page 3 of 4)

All In One Take

After watching the first season of Broad City, the episode that stands out the most for me in terms of its visual design is the eighth episode of season 1, titled “Destination: Wedding.” Right from the beginning, the episode opens with a long sequence of Abbi, Ilana, and some friends frantically running in formal wear down a New York street, late for Abbi’s friend’s wedding in Bridgeport, CT. The opening scene continues in one uninterrupted take, and the camera frames Abbi’s and Ilana’s exhausted faces with the skyscrapers of the city. Broad City usually employs long scenes in each episode because the scene flows more naturally, so the opening scene naturally sets the storyline, and we are drawn in with curiosity to see if the group will reach their destination. It is like we as the viewers are running alongside Abbi and Ilana, making the situation more personal even if we are not physically with them.

Opening scene of “Destination: Wedding”

Another example of these natural long takes occurs within the same episode when Abbi and Ilana board a sketchy bus to Bridgeport. Although Abbi is initially relieved to be on the bus, her relief fades as she observes sick passengers, live animals on the loose, and a tank of frozen fish. The camera takes the place of Abbi’s eyes as the viewer sees the monstrosities on the bus. This perspective camera movement is used in this episode because it elevates the comedy of Abbi’s disbelief without the necessity for dialogue. Instead of hearing Abbi bicker, we as viewers can see what she sees, and subsequently understand her disgust for being on the bus. Therefore, the inclusion of long takes in Broad City, especially in episode 8, helps to make a more natural, flowing, and comfortable scene where the viewers can easily recognize the humor and emotions of Abbi’s and Ilana’s characters.

While Broad City utilizes long, uninterrupted scenes to elevate its humor, the show also uses light to solidify the realistic nature of their situation. In episode 8, the opening scene and the bus scene are normally lit with daylight, implying a passage of time as well as a tone of familiarity with the situation. Abbi and Ilana are late to a friend’s wedding, a very relatable situation to most young people. Also, the color scheme of the show does not pop with certain colors to signify a certain mood. The colors of each scene are relatively neutral, even Abbi’s and Ilana’s dresses in episode 8, because the show is trying to make the lives of these women mimic reality, along with added humor and craziness.

Overall, Broad City has a visual design that plays into the understated yet wacky comedic situations of its two protagonists, Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler. Whether they are late for a wedding or having a seriously improvised conversation, the cinematography and direction of each scene exude the natural, realistic atmosphere of these two women’s lives. 

Broad City title card

The Writing of Crazy Ex Girlfriend

One of the most interesting things about Crazy Ex Girlfriend is that Rachel Bloom, aside from starring in the show, is also it’s co creator and co head writer along with Aline Brosh McKenna. I cannot even imagine the hours Rachel Bloom must log writing lines, memorizing those lines, and then performing take after take. Rachel Bloom, interestingly enough, does not have a background in script writing. Before Crazy Ex Girlfriend, her main output in regards to writing were her comedy music albums (If you’re Jewish, and you haven’t yet listened to Chanukah Honey, do yourself a favor and google it. Seriously, it has the line “Chanukah Honey, at the JCC you play basketball! So tall. You must be 5’8″”) of which she wrote two. However, her creation of Crazy Ex Girlfriend does make logistical sense because of Rebecca’s (the main character) tendency to burst into song in fully choreographed musical fantasy sequences. Bloom’s particular brand of off kilter, brutally honest humor displayed in her earlier albums is easily found in Crazy Ex Girlfriend, particularly in the Sexy Getting Ready Song, where Rebecca ironically demonstrates how unsexy the typical woman’s preparations for a date night are.

Aline Brosh McKenna’s writing background, however, is a little harder to detect in Crazy Ex Girlfriend. She is most notable for her movie adaptation of the book The Devil Wears Prada, a story which does deconstruct some of the “perfect woman” myths we see surrounding models and businesswomen, but still features an effortless makeover and consistently stunning women. In one horrifyingly memorable moment, Emily Blunt’s character announces that her new diet is to eat nothing, except for a cube of cheese whenever she feels like she is about to faint. McKenna’s second most notable writing credit, the 2014 musical movie Annie, is even more difficult to detect amongst the adult themes of Crazy Ex Girlfriend. Where Annie is overwhelmingly sweet with a central father-daughter relationship, Rebecca’s most impactful relationship is with her neglectful, spiteful, and emotionally/verbally abusive mother. Where Annie focuses on a brave, morally pure girl, Rebecca in cowardice takes advantage of her friends and hurts many characters around her (read: leaving her date with Greg to sleep with a guy she met while on the date with Greg). True, Annie and Crazy Ex Girlfriend were made for vastly different audiences, but there is almost zero overlap in the writing styles of the two. As I watch the rest of the show, I will be keeping my eye out for any similarities to The Devil Wears Prada and Annie.

Overall, I do love the writing style. The dialogue is fumbling in a natural way, with enough ums, uhs, and likes to make me feel like those conversations could be happening in real life. This realism injects a much needed dose of the mundane into a show that has a sometimes larger than life plot (not to mention the musical numbers).

Me whenever another musical number plays on CEG

“Aline Brosh McKenna.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/name/nm0112459/.

“Rachel Bloom.” IMDb, IMDb.com, www.imdb.com/name/nm3417385/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1.


Family is Everything

Well, I’m six episodes into Fresh Off the Boat, and so far it’s SO GOOD!  I realize that’s probably about as subjective as I can get, but I am thoroughly enjoying seeing the world through the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy facing a lot of challenges in a new, unfamiliar environment.  I also find the focus on the family element to be extremely refreshing.  While many modern dramas highlight family conflict (kids disrespecting their parents, parents tearing each other down, grandparents being portrayed as old-fashioned and therefore irrelevant), Fresh Off the Boat depicts the Huang family as people who love each other and genuinely want the best for one another.  That’s not to say that they don’t ever argue, or they live without EVER making each other’s lives miserable every now and then.  They’re not perfect, despite what Jessica desperately wants her sister to believe (“Success Perm”).  But at the end of the day, they’re all on the same team, which leads me into the first theme I’ve noticed in this show: Family is everything.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking.  What about the guy who grew up in an abusive home and hasn’t spoken to his parents in decades?  Or the little girl with an alcoholic father?  Is family everything to those people?  And no, that’s not what I mean.  As we’ve talked about in class, shows like Murphy Brown and Jane the Virgin present the idea that family isn’t necessarily two parents and two children in a suburban house with a white picket fence.  Sometimes, family isn’t even who DNA says family is.  Family is all about love, kindness, patience, and support.  In some cases, family may be all that you have.  In a setting where an immigrant family moves to a new city, everything that was once familiar to them has changed.  Everything, that is, except for family.  I think Fresh Off the Boat argues that if you have your family around you (no matter what form that “family” may take), everything else will fall into place.

I see this theme clearly displayed in the episode “Home Sweet Home-School,” in which Jessica begins supplementing her sons’ education with some extra assignments at home.  Eddie is upset because this new homeschool program means he can’t spend his afternoons playing basketball with his neighbor friend, and even Louis thinks Jessica has taken it a little too far.  The episode ends with Jessica lightening up and Louis playing basketball with all three of his sons, and even though Eddie’s friend later joins them, Eddie realizes he’s happy with just his family.  His whole world has changed, but his family has his back, no matter how crazy they drive him.  The show uses this episode to prove that family love manifests itself in different ways, even if it’s as overbearing as Chinese Learning Center at home.  No matter how much his life changes, Eddie always has his family.

C’mon, admit it…deep down, y’all love each other.

Why Settle For One Visual Aesthetic?

First episodes are a tricky thing to get right. There’s a lot of information to unpack, so many shows’ first episodes are a bit awkward. After watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s first episode, though, I wouldn’t include this show within that category. “Josh Just Happens to Live Here!” is an engaging episode, and its cinematography and direction especially stands out. There’s major visual appeal, and not only does this stand out – this also compliments the show’s other aspects. One example of this: the color tone. The tone of the show varies from scene to scene, based on what’s happening, and this contrast of warm- and cool-looking scenes adds to the viewing experience. By seeing moments like Rachel, the show’s protagonist, first arriving in West Covina tinted with a warm tone – and Rachel’s mom berating her for moving, via-phone call, with a cool tone – we, the viewers, get a better understanding of how different scenes affect Rachel.

As you can see, Rachel is very excited to be in West Covina.

Another example of the show’s quality cinematography and direction comes from the composition of the scenes themselves. The scenes are directed in such a way that they last for as long as the director intends. Scenes that would typically feel too long, like when Rachel waits for Josh to text back, don’t drag at all, and this is thanks to effects like the superimposing of her typing her text. In contrast, any of Rachel’s awkward interactions, especially with Nathaniel at the party, appear painfully long. Besides this, the scenes also don’t feel bloated. For all that’s being introduced, most of the scenes only possess as much detail as is necessary. The best example of this is Rachel’s mom: throughout the episode, the viewer never catches a glimpse of her. All we get of her is her voice – and yet, from the dialogue she has, that’s all we need to know that she’s cold, ruthless, and ambitious. Of course, this only applies to most of the scenes. There’s one significant exception to this observation, and that’s the musical scenes.

These scenes are very elaborate, complete with choreography, costumes, and back-up dancers. There’s a lot of detail within these scenes, and this is best exemplified in how the locations and actual happenings of the scene affect the songs. A shot of the music program being cut is shown just as Rachel sings a reference to it – and later in “West Covina,” the same band plays before being forcibly stopped. The explanation-parts of “West Covina,” where Rachel justifies moving to West Covina, are set to shots of her defending herself in conversation. The rapper in “The Sexy Getting Ready Song” stops rapping after seeing the state of Rachel’s bathroom and leaves to apologize to the women “he’s wronged” (which the show kindly shows us at the end.)

If only there hadn’t been a budget cut…

Overall, the cinematography and direction in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s first episode was excellent and has left me eager for what comes next.

Suppress the Jess?

Suppressing the Jess

Jess’s awkwardness and eccentricity is what makes her unique and more relatable as a character because of her multifaceted personality.  She isn’t perfect, and her flaws and insecurities often mirror what we see in ourselves.  While the other roommates’ lack of full acceptance had been hinted at in previous episodes, their expectations for Jess are more thoroughly explored in episode three.

The premise of episode three is that the roommates will be attending a wedding.  However, the issue is that Nick’s ex-girlfriend Caroline will also be attending.  Through various flashbacks, we understand that Nick is still deeply attached to Caroline and can’t seem to let her go.  His attachment is borderline unhealthy and imitates the trope of a clingy (ex-)girlfriend who constantly wants some sort of attention and can’t seem to move on.  Jess is brought along as his date, but Nick refuses to let her be herself, which Jess reluctantly agrees to, jokingly stating the phrase, “suppress the Jess”.

The theme of the episode is how Jess preserves her eccentricity and continues to be herself in face of judgment and lack of support from those close to her.  Schmidt wants to hook up with Brooke, Nick wants to reconnect with Caroline, and meanwhile Winston gets into a competition with a child.  Each of the guys wants something different from the wedding, but Jess doesn’t have the ability to accommodate them all and nor should she have to.  She becomes just a tool for the guys to achieve their desires, yet they blame her when things fall through.  This situation is especially evident when Jess tries to fix Nick’s renewed fixation with Caroline but ends up scaring off Brooke from Schmidt.  One girl can’t do it all, and Jess finally realizes that in a symbolic move when she takes her fake teeth back to finally have fun at the wedding, which was all she wanted out of the event.  Besides being a symbol of her eccentricity, her fake teeth also represent her autonomy and power as a person since we lose them when we are not fully able to care for ourselves.

Intertwined with the main theme of the episode and interspersed throughout other episodes are threads of traditional masculinity versus femininity.  Schmidt’s characterization is often the most blatant portrayal of flipping the script on what is traditionally considered masculine versus feminine.  Schmidt used to be “Fat Schmidt,” with body image issues often being portrayed in media as solely an issue for women.  While coming on too strong in his conversations with Brooke, Schmidt has an entirely different relationship with Gretchen with her being assertive while he is more submissive.  In fact, he is essentially being used for his body like women tend to be portrayed in media with Gretchen having little interest in pursuing an actual relationship with him.

Pobody’s nerfect, and through the events in episode three, Jess grows as a person to reach self-acceptance and fulfillment, which redefines her future relationship with her roommates.

Piper? Oh you mean Chapman…

Orange is the New Black starts off the show by introducing newly prison inmate Piper Chapman after charged with smuggling drug money internationally with her previous lesbian love affair. She committed the crime five years before the time of her sentence, of which she surrendered to the prison officials. Now, she is struggling to adjust to prison life.

I am focusing on discussing the writing of “I Wasn’t Ready”, the first episode of Orange is the New Black, which was written by Liz Friedman and Jenji Kohan, and directed by Michael Trim. Liz Friedman has in the past written known shows such as Conviction, Law & Order, Notorious, and even produced House M.D. Jenji Kohan has also written other shows such as Weeds and The Stones, a pair of older shows that were produced before the 2000s.

The main writer for the first episode, Jenji Kehan.

Throughout this first episode, Kehan and Friedman do a superb job of setting the tone of the show. During Piper’s first several minutes in prison, it is evident that the writers created many different personalities to accompany the characters in the show. For example, Piper’s dialogue I’ve noticed is on the straightforward side. She likes to get her point across but is rather hesitant in voicing her opinion against people of higher power, such as the security guards in the prison. With Red, it is seen in the first episode that she acts along with her will and power in the system, being the chef of the prison. This is directly seen when she discreetly gave Piper an unpleasant meal after Piper accidentally insulted the prison’s food in front of her at the lunch table. Not only these two characters, but it is seen that there are numerous types of varying attributes assigned to everyone in the prison, creating a unit of diversity and makes the interaction between the inmates more interesting. It is also noticed that in the dialogue, the writers utilize many metaphors and references to past events and culturally separated groups to signify the division within the prison mates.

A component highly worth discussing in the first episode was the initial voiceover at the beginning of the show, where Piper’s voiceover describing both her life back home and life in the prison, signifying the difference in environments and truly assisted in introducing the plot effectively.

The main character of the show, Piper Chapman.

The way the first episode was structured by Friedman and Kehan was extremely well-done, the plot was clear to understand and the various transitions with scenes and character personalities kept me engaged and interested the whole way. Overall, it left me wanting to keep watching.

What the Hell is a Handmaid?

A womb on legs, basically.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a horrifying show, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. It’s a different type of horror from a scary movie; instead of bracing yourself for a jump scare, you stare with your mouth open in disgust, eyebrows furrowed in disbelief. However, I will refrain from purely rambling about how shocking this show is to say this: this show is brilliant.

A pilot episode is supposed to draw a viewer in and introduce one to the storyline and dynamic of the characters. In The Handmaid’s Tale, I was thrown right into a terrifying society where torture, sexual abuse, and zero respect for women were the “new ordinary.” During desperate times of war, the US falls back on military rule and religious extremism, in which freedom and democracy are stripped from everyone. Although the setting is a modern United States, the “new ordinary” makes the environment (almost) unrecognizable.

“It’s forbidden now. So many things are forbidden now.” Things that we once okay are now punishable by death.

Both the stylistic elements of the writing and the plot demonstrates this new society and the unfamiliarity of it. The first episode starts off with an intense flashback, then all of a sudden a silhouette with a voiceover: “A chair. A table. A lamp. There’s a window with white curtains, and the glass is shatterproof.” Most of the time, there is silence or very quiet, somber music. Sounds of rain, breathing, and footsteps are emphasized. The new world is so much simpler, but the short dialogue immediately conveys the silencing of many. The main character, Offred, even thinks in a peaceful tone, using short but sarcastic sentences because silent mockery is the only way she can show resentment.

Offred has been living in this society for long enough to establish a routine, but not long enough to adjust completely and often reminisces about her past life as a wife and mother. This in-between place allowed the show writers to utilize first-person narration and express ambiguity. So many terms confused me: “Handmaid, Ceremony, Martha, Eye, Unwoman, Colonies, etc.” I kept asking questions about what they were wearing, why something was happening, and felt general confusion. But by building this confusion, the writers captured my attention and kept me intrigued.

Even though the showrunner, Bruce Miller, is male, he based the first season on Margaret Atwood’s novel; hopefully, he continued the theme of feminism in season two and acknowledged the opinions of the female producer and writers. Though, just judging based on the first few episodes, Miller effectively conveys the importance of feminism by removing it from the characters’ society. The contrast between the two societies, along with the parallels with reality, are well-written and make this show so jarring and thought-provoking.

Putting the Girl in New Girl

So far in this course, I’ve watched a lot of television and tweeted more often than I ever have before, and if I’m being honest I’ve enjoyed it.  And as much fun as it is to watch these great shows it’s easy to forget that there is a purpose here, and it is to investigate how feminism is making an impact on modern day television.  So let’s get to it, let’s look at the portrayal of gender in New Girl.

Firstly let’s break down the representation of gender within the main character’s.  There are a total of 6 main characters as of now:  5 male and 2 female.  The four male characters (Nick, Schmidt, Coach and Winston) all live together with Jess.  The two female characters (Jess, and Cece) are best friends going through an interesting point in their lives with Jess recently moving in with the guys.

The men do perpetuate the common idea that all guys in their 20’s love to drink beer, go to bars, and watch sports.  Schmidt’s stereotypically male character, who is obsessed with hooking up with attractive random girls, is balanced by Nick’s emotionally vulnerable persona.  Then there is Coach who’s so guyish that he can’t talk to women (hilariously so).

Then there’s the female characters and for the purpose of this blog we are going to ignore Cece since (two episodes in) she hasn’t contributed much to the plot line.  So let’s talk about Jess.  Jess is an emotionally unstable grade school teacher who loves to sing to herself and, no matter how hard she tries, can’t seem to be one of the guys.  There is a strong dynamic that exists in the show based upon the fact that the guys and Jess are fundamentally very different, but not in the way that I expected.  I expected Jess to be an over the top feminine character who struggles to deal with the guys life.  Instead, Jess struggles to fit in with the guys, not because she’s girly, but because she’s incredibly awkward (and fun to watch).

Jess stands out as a very unique female character the likes of which I haven’t seen before in a comedy.  And perhaps the most interesting part of this show is that Jess and her actions are the driving force of the show.  No matter the advice given by other characters or the desires of others, the show relies on Jess to make decisions to move the plot of the story.  You might think this is obvious since Jess is the main character, however, in other shows this is not the case.  For example, in Jane the Virgin, Jane is the main character but her decisions usually have little effect on the storyline and rather the decisions of those around her drive the plot.  New Girl stars a unique female lead who is, without a doubt, making her own decisions and in charge of her own life.  An interesting development when looking at feminism in television.

An Issue For All Women

Crowded around each other expressing excitement and joy, the men of FYI discuss a night of opportunities that awaits them. When Murphy Brown enters the conversation is quickly hushed, as the subject is something they know will agitate her. The night they are discussing takes place at the last men’s only club in D.C, meaning Murphy is excluded simply because of her gender. The episode chronicles her fight against this, illuminating the sexism that continued to exist in the wealthy workrooms of 1989 America.

While the episode follows Murphy in her individual battle, the overall issue is one that affects more than just her. A notable moment occurs in the beginning of the episode when Miles is explaining that Murphy has no place in the club. At this moment, Corky quickly jumps into the conversation and her interruption is met with a cold shoulder as Miles shrugs her comment off stating “Corky, you’re not even in this conversation”. “Every woman in this room is in this conversation”, Corky quickly responds, illuminating that this single argument is undeniably connected to a greater issue of gender inequality. Backed by a multitude of other women, this statement is powerful, despite it being subsequently dismissed by the writers with an offside joke.

As the storyline progresses, we see Murphy’s multiple attempts at “breaking the sex barrier” and the rude and demeaning responses she receives from the men she encounters. When she first attends the club the manager bars her, claiming that her “behavior is inappropriate”, despite her being a highly respected journalist whose behavior is perfectly in line with the clubs policies. Later, when she manages to become a member due to discrepancies in the rulebook, every fellow member treats her rudely and eventually all of the men leave due to their discomfort with her presence. It is a disheartening and frustrating scene, documenting the ridiculous and childish attitude men had (and some still have) towards the other sex. While Murphy Brown often is able to triumph over her challenges, she fails in this episode, a smart choice by the writes which acknowledges that it will take more than one woman, no matter how incredible she is, to fight the system of inequality that women are subject to.

The episode does create hope in the matter, however, with the change witnessed in the character Jim. When first confronted with his good friend and coworker Murphy Brown’s desires to “infiltrate” the men’s club, he completely shuts her down. This dismissal continues throughout the episode until he experiences first hand the disrespect Murphy has to endure from the men in this club. A final scene depicts him fighting against the men in the club who he previously stood beside, showing that progress is possible when it comes to sexism and gender inequality.  

Murphy Brown: Always relevant.

Visual Design that Fits the Protagonist: Cinematography in Jessica Jones

Jessica Jones, the character, is rather bitter, sarcastic and owns a dark personality, as revealed by the first episode of the show Jessica Jones. She often displays rudeness, foul temper, and lives alone in an apartment without a lock in the vast New York City. The cinematography of the show therefore exemplifies many dark elements, from certain dialogues to settings to color schemes, to mirror closely to her dark personality.

Jessica Jones’s Apartment

The first episode begins with a backdrop of New York City during night time, followed by Jessica Jones’s narration: “New York City may be the city that never sleeps, but it sure does get sleepy around here” while overlooking a shady part of the city. In addition to laying the foundation of her current job as an investigator, this opening scene gives a glance towards her sarcastic personality and her self-confidence due to her preference of being a night owl in such a vast and potentially dangerous city. This self-confidence begins to mold into more of self-centeredness as the viewers begin to find out that despite being an investigator and wielding superhuman powers, Jessica Jones’s main motive is to simply be able to thrive each day and keep her powers under cover over excelling in her job, even though she has managed in completing each investigation assigned.

During one of her sleepless nights, Jessica Jones leaves her apartment to pretty much stalk on other people through a balcony of a run-down building like her own apartment, appearing to be one of the side effects of being an investigator. Then, all of a sudden, a man-like figure approaches to her face then disappears instantly, sending her into what appeared as a PTSD panic. This same PTSD panic, which initially seemed very uncharacteristic of the otherwise emotionless Jessica Jones, repeats again two days later in the morning, one of the few scenes during daytime in the first episode. The imaginary man therefore appears to the viewers as some sort of villain who may not only know about her secret powers and be stronger than her but may very well have encountered her before and tortured her, as the echoing audio following each time she encounters him in her mind suggests.

Image result for jessica jones ptsd gif

Jessica Jones’s Only Weakness: Her PTSD

Finally, the first episode successfully lays the cinematographic foundation of, for the most part, all other episodes of the show, starting with the title pattern of “AKA” before its name to display Jessica Jones’s sarcasm regarding most everything. A few of the following episodes also run for nearly an hour, with several long takes to not only make each episode function like a small version of a movie, but also to center most of it around Jessica Jones, the self-centered protagonist. Overall, although the episode was rather dark for my taste, it is rather intriguing to see a female encompass a role such as Jessica Jones in television and I am certainly excited to see more of it!

New Girl: Simple Cinematography Unlike the Normal Sitcom

While watching New Girl, the show takes on the generic format of a T.V. sitcom with quick shots where the camera will shift to the character speaking. Throughout the episode, specifically during the most recent episode, “Kryptonite”, the shots would consist of the characters talking to one another, and the camera would quickly shift to the face of another to highlight their reaction to the others. The reactions of characters to each other is the main basis of comedy for this show. The quick shots are important to the show because they keep the audience engaged. In fast-moving shows like New Girl, quick and dynamic shots are important because if the camera work is not crisp, the audience is likely to get bored.

In terms of lighting, the show is very well lit. The episodes are generally colorful as Jess has a very colorful personality and it’s enhanced by the background of the shots. Specifically, in this episode, about half of the episode is shot outside which is different from the previous episode, where most of the episode took place within the apartment where all the main characters live. The color scheme of this episode was still colorful but even when the characters were outside, the colors were still a bit subdued. I believe that the colors were subdued at times to fit the theme of the episode. The episode was about Jess getting over a breakup and finding herself again and it could represent Jess losing the happy part of herself for a guy for a period of time.

The directors of cinematography and visuals of New Girl do a great job of keeping the audience engaged without being overwhelming.  This means that the cinematography is very simple

This shows how the camera shifts from one character to another

Usually, sitcoms have fake audience laughter in the background and more sound effects to enhance the show. This allows New Girl to be more simple and for the comedy to be more natural through the show. Watching New Girl has been great because it’s a simple, funny and unique T.V. show that always finds new ways to make me laugh!

Jack O’Lantern

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Piper looking like a Jack O’Lantern

Working inside out, I think it is important to evaluate the episode in the middle of the season when thinking about writing because the first episode doesn’t give an accurate depiction of what the season will be like and the last episode usually ends on a tragic note to promote for continuance for another season.

Episode five of season six on the show Orange is the New Black starts pretty f*cked up…We visualize the guards practicing the same behavior that you think about during the 1800’s when auctioneers were selling and biding slaves. Luscheck creates a way to make tracking each inmate easier (similar to the cotton gin????).

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CO Ginger convinces Piper to fight Ruiz

Written by Anthony Natoli, a common writer and editor for the show, he uses comedy to lighten the darkness of the show. While the guards try and collect points for their fantasy inmate game, CO Ginger influences Piper to start a fight with another inmate in order to get her tooth back. She makes a joke saying that she resembled a Jack O’Lantern which pushes Piper off the edge.

Throughout the entire episode Natoli writes with the purpose to manipulate all of the main characters in the show. We experience manipulation with Piper and “Badison” when Badison demands a favor for her in exchange for a favor that Piper did not even ask for. Because of emotional distress, Linda tries to manipulate Fig into building a relationship to get back a Joe, and we experience manipulation between inmate and guard relationships. Further in the season Natoli is also responsible in writing episode 11 where Frieda manipulates Suzanne into thinking they are friends so she can watch her back. He also edited the script for episode 6 in which Pennsatucky manipulates Linda into getting her into Florida (the elderly section of max). Seems like Natoli’s common theme is manipulation.

It Takes an Army to Create a World

The first episode is often the dealbreaker for many show viewers, and thus, it is critical to make good first impressions. Needless to say, this episode did just that. The pilot introduced us to the wild West that is Westworld, enthralled us with a complex musical score, and left aspects shrouded in mystery so that we would be compelled for answers. I was intrigued.

Creating a TV show is no easy matter, however. It requires creative minds and effective writers. In this case, those two minds were Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy. Lisa Joy is credited with being a writer for the shows Burn Notice and Pushing Daisies. Jonathan Nolan, brother of the well-known Christopher Nolan, has writing for The Dark Knight trilogy, Memento, and more under his belt.

We hear a dialogue only in the beginning of the episode. This voiceover is later revealed to be that of one of the creators of these droids, talking to a droid in a sort of interrogation. We have yet to discover if this will be a permanent feature of this show, or if it was just for effect in the first episode. Nevertheless, it was an addition which granted mystery and then revelation to the viewers.

The writing incorporates many strategies to keep us intrigued and wanting more. Most of the time, music, dialogue, or background noise covers up silence in this show. However, instances where silence is used are often for dramatic effect, including after a death or dramatic dialogue. We see the writers reference Shakespeare and common idioms throughout the episode, and while we never see the world outside of Westworld, references to it are made. It keeps us shrouded in mystery and compelled to watch more of the show to gain closure.

This series will clearly be complex to write. The writers have to incorporate the lives of robots, humans, and a western world which is otherwise long gone into one show. The script does this well, all the while still leaving the origins of this place, its characters, and the outside world a mystery. Many times, it’s hard to know who’s real and who’s fake. And it can’t help but leave me thinking who the bad guy really is.

Some people are thirsty for some more Westworld


Works Cited:

“Full Cast & Crew – Westworld.” IMDb, IMDb, www.imdb.com/title/tt0475784/fullcredits?ref_=tt_ql_1.

A Broad Gender Overview in Broad City

Broad City is unique in that female representation exists at the forefront of each episode in Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, but there often are more male characters in any given episode. The male characters tend to provide obstacles or annoyance like Bevers or comedic relief in a show that is mostly comedy, Lincoln. Abbi and Ilana’s characters often have to work around the stubborn and problematic male characters, yet they still have a high degree of agency. Characters like Lincoln, Ilana’s friend with benefits, are strung along at the whims of whatever Ilana is pursuing. At one point Ilana says that they had been together five months; Lincoln corrects her that has been eighteen months. Lincoln, played by Hannibal Buress, is the only character in the show with such little agency, and he is the most prominent male character.
Gender is often connected to the class of the characters. Abbi and Ilana struggle to fund all of their escapades, and in one episode they clean a strange man’s house in their underwear to fund their Lil Wayne concert dreams. The man is shown to be creepy, but Ilana still has much of the agency and desire to do so as she had advertised her and Abbi online. Abbi usually has her agency limited for comedic effects: her dead end job, following Ilana’s impulsive lead, and living in an apartment with her roommate’s boyfriend that she hates. Still, there are moments where she has agency such as when she fakes needing to get AIDS test results to get off work.
Race has little influence on the show as Ilana’s boyfriend and her roommate both are successful dentists and drug dealers respectively despite being minority males. Ilana’s character is the primary queer character, and it is never shown to impede her or slow her down. It more often comes up as she tries to get Abbi to do small vaguely sexual things. And while the bosses on the show are male, they have little role in keeping Ilana and Abbi from cutting work, so the show appears to represent gender and other representational axes in a very fair and often funny way.

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Here is an example of Lincoln being held at the whims of whatever Ilana wants to do.


Switched at Birth? Maybe not. Switched for this class? Oh Yeah.

Hey! My name is Matthew So, I am a Computer Science major, and I plan on graduating in 2022, assuming all goes well. Although for most of my life, I have lived in the U.S., for my earliest years, I was raised in Hong Kong, so there’s that.

Although I have, of course, taken English classes in the past, including AP English Language in high school, this is my first English class at Georgia Tech. However, as you may know, this class certainly diverges from most other English classes; for most, I remained unconvinced in my abilities to write, which led me to treat such classes begrudgingly, as only busy work to finish. As such, for me, I most enjoy non-verbal communication, since unlike most types, it remains hidden yet enhances other, more visible, communication modes; even the raising of an eyebrow can completely alter the connotations of a sentence. However, I still struggle with verbal and oral communication; it’s just that every word matters, and because of that, it’s difficult to balance both clarity and emotiveness, meaning that half the time, I act far too formally, causing me to speak nearly condescendingly or incomprehensibly, while in the other half, I become so informal that it outright becomes inappropriate (hopefully, this blog will address that). With this class, however, and the fact that this class involves significant interpretation of verbal and oral communication, since the class requires analyzing television, I’m confident that I’ll be able to become more aware of visual implications. Speaking of television, for me, I never really engaged with current TV, simply because I either couldn’t allow myself enough time or because none of the TV shows available on major networks at the time interested me. However, with many of the current TV shows that this class has introduced me to, such as Jane the Virgin and The Good Place, I believe that I might re-enter the realm of TV, especially with the wide variety available today (after all, this is supposedly “peak TV”).

My face after realizing that I get to watch TV for a grade

As for the TV show to review, I have chosen Switched At Birth primarily due to its handling of not only class distinctions but also deaf/hearing distinctions as a television show from a national broadcaster in prime-time. The plot centers around two girls, Bay, and Daphne, the former of which was raised in a wealthy suburb and the latter of which was raised in an impoverished neighborhood and became deaf after contracting meningitis, which were, like the namesake, switched at birth. Overall, though, I’m excited for this TV show, especially considering the high representation of deaf or hard-of-hearing actors and actresses in this program.


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