English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: freechoice

Mainstream sells- Culture does not

Somehow all pop culture seems to get a wave of unintentional mainstream which destroys the integrity and their original “voice”. This especially happens with a lot of underground music artists when they get signed to various labels. Their idea is that mainstream music is equivalent to sells, so the sound has to change to fit societal norms. Television has a similar paradigm shift in the originality of the content, specifically the show I have been studying this semester- Orange is the New Black. 

The Beginning of the New Wave

Season four writers did an incredible job creatively showing social issues that were happening worldwide even with the limited cast that they had. This season was home to fighting for social justice, gender rights, the road of self discovery, and much more. Watch the season four recap below:

Season 4 Recap

However as the show progressed it seems that this season was in fact “too” raw. The show takes a dramatic turn and includes way less relevant social issues. Still being a prison show, there is your everyday drama of killing, stealing, and smuggling but in the later seasons it doesn’t feel like the girls are actually fighting for something. Everything turns into a mess.

The shift was mainly in the direction and the take home message that the show intended to give it’s audience. Here’s season five’s trailer:  Season 5 Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix. Based on the trailer you’d think that this would be a season of substance like the previous. However the rawness is toned done by 1000%. While in season four we had things like a underlying religion war between two inmates of same race, season five showcases how limited the minds of inmates can really be (making guards embarrass themselves in a talent show). Season five was a season of revenge, four was a season of purpose and fight.

The most recent season, season six strayed even farther away from the take home message, however ended on a more serious note which confused the entire season. In my opinion the worst season of them all, this was home to a rivalry based on colors of khakis because of a rivalry between two sisters which were having a rivalry about something that didn’t even happen to them! Stupid…I know. The creators seemed to be trying to work with what they had since almost half of the beloved cast wasn’t even included in any of the episodes however what they did do was devalue the impact of the show. The season barely included content and substance that was relevant to the world today until the last five minutes of the last episode. Take a look here OITNB SEASON 6 ENDING.

Pop culture takes a major hit to the fans that have been there since the beginning when they move towards mainstream production. Unfortunately it reaches a wider audience but distracts the overall goal of whatever media it was when it started.

Eddie Huang’s take on his memoir turned sit-com ‘Fresh Off the Boat’

Fresh Off the Boat is the first Asian American sit-com, to air on American prime-time television, in 20 years; it is based off of Eddie Huang’s memoir “Fresh Off the Boat.” Despite this Eddie Huang is quite the critic of the show saying, “I’m happy people of color are able to see a reflection of themselves through #FreshOffTheBoat on @ABCNetwork but I don’t recognize it.” and “I had to say something because I stood by the pilot. After that it got so far from the truth that I don’t recognize my own life.” Eddie has criticized the show for taking the easy route and twisting his story into something unrecognizable. “This show isn’t about me, nor is it about Asian America. The network won’t take that gamble right now.” Fresh Off the Boat was meant to be a truly Asian-American story based on Eddie’s story; instead the route the producers decided to take completely diverge from that of Eddie’s story. Many Asian-American are still able to connect to the sit-com, but not in the way that Eddie had hope they would.

Over time Eddie has come to accept the sit-com as a gateway to more shows starring Asian-Americans. “”I don’t watch it, but I’m proud of what it does.” While Fresh Off the Boat diverge from his memoir, Eddie still understands the importance of having a TV show with Asian-Americans as its main cast. He has many acknowledgements to the fact that now with Fresh Off the Boat success that it has proven that diverse stories about Asian-Americans can be successful which could lead to better shows for the Asian minority in the future. “But for all the bullshit I heard at studios about universal stories and the cultural pus it perpetuates, I felt some truth in it.… It takes a lot of chutzpah to launch a network comedy with a pilot addressing the word “chink”, yet it works because it’s the safest bet the studio could have made.” 

While over time Eddie Huang has seen the benefit of having an Asian-American show on prime-time, it is still hard to see something he’s written turned into something that he is unable to recognize.

Eddie Huang Critics Fresh Off the Boat for diverging from the source.

Eddie Huang in real life is a clothing designer, restaurateur, TV host and author.

Why the music in the Bold Type is Amazing

Music like all art has duality. The Bold Type takes advantage of this duality by using each song to add an extra depth of meaning/emotion to its scenes.

In the finale of season one, the song Quiet by MILAK plays as Jacqueline takes the weights from Mia. Everyone’s silent stance is contrasted against the music’s lyrics, “ I can’t stay quiet”. The repetition of this lyric implicitly reflects Jacqueline’s acceptance to share her story with others. In that same episode, the last scene the music choice reflects the overall theme of the show. While Kat embarks on a spontaneous journey across the world, Jane leaves Scarlett beginning her solo career, and Sutton is dealing with a complicated goodbye the song Living Out Loud by Brooke Candy evokes feelings of hopefulness for all three girls and encourages living life to the fullest by stating “Living out loud, is the only way I know how.”

Songs also play a part in foreshadowing, like during the scene in S1E6  when Kat seems to be causally texting Adena about getting a new idea. While the song Fire in Me by Julia Stone could emphasize the ignition of Kat’s new daring idea, it also helps foreshadow the spark between Adena and Kat’s relationship.

It is an important observation that all the songs used in The Bold Type have a positive vibe to them, the reason according to the show’s music supervisor, Rob is simply to reflect the overarching theme of the show, Empowerment. He mentions that even though there are sad moments, the show is more concerned with

highlighting the triumphs of overcoming the sadness… – Rob Lowry

Overall the songs in The Bold Type are carefully curated and play a significant role within each scene. They are not just background noise, but rather a way to foreshadow later scenes and emphasize the character’s thought process.

PS here is the official The Bold Type playlist for anyone who reads this blog post.


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Last Names on Broad City (easter egg!!)

Today when thinking about ideas for my free choice blog, I decided that I would write about how Judaism plays a role in both Abbi and Ilana’s comedy, identity, and the plot on Broad City. Researching to confirm both were jewish, I stumbled upon the maiden names of both of the stars’ mothers. Wexler and Abrams were both maiden names. This blew my mind as these are the last names of their characters on Broad City. As both characters keep their first names on the show, using their mother’s maiden names seems to be a clear nod to feminine power or something of the sort.
Rather than switch my topic to how being a woman affects the show’s comedy and plot, I am choosing to explore this new found trivia and its connotations. The fathers of both on the show do not represent the typical patriarchal role the father figure displays on Television. Ilana’s father is meek and defers decisions to the mother, and Abbi’s father dances with both women in the kitchen during the only episode he has featured in that I have seen thus far. Ilana’s mother is powerful and often loudly incorrect about things but never challenged.
Perhaps this is all leading back to my original direction for this blog entry. Judaism is matriarchal in the sense that having a jewish mother makes one jewish, but having a jewish father does not. Again though, this could just be a open yet hidden facet of the show, an easter egg of sorts, a nod to the representation of women apart from past barriers rejecting the symbolic ownership men had over women when women had to take the man’s last name. There names on the show differ from their names in real life, but only our social construct of taking the man’s last name makes this the case.

See the source image

Here, Abbi and Ilana are shown boarding their birthright trip to Israel.

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