English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Tag: theme (Page 2 of 2)

Kimmy Learns to Put the Past in the Past!

When exploring themes present in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, it can be difficult deciding where to start. I chose the third episode because I feel like it conveys a theme that is relatable and essential to myself and a lot of my peers. This episode makes an argument for leaving the past behind and branching out to experience more. The episode opens with Titus being awakened by Kimmy in a delusional state because she is having flashbacks of her days in the bunker. Titus suggests that Kimmy should go on a date to get her mind on a boy and off of her tragic past, but Kimmy insists she is nowhere near ready to go on a date. However, Kimmy is once again pressured into going on a date by Mrs. Voorhees who claims to have been in Kimmy’s position once, single in Manhattan. The show makes the argument that it is positive to branch out and have new experiences through flashbacks into Mrs. Voorhees’s life. It becomes revealed that she grew up as a Native American to a family that had little, but now she lives in a penthouse in Manhattan. Mrs. Voorhees’s success serves as the main argument for Kimmy to pursue a date that is set up for her.

The theme of leaving the past behind and branching out is most evident in this episode because of the multiple arguments presented through Kimmy and Mrs. Voorhees, but is also evident in the show as a whole. The whole show is about a young woman who had most of her life experiences robbed from her and faces the decision of whether to remain in that state or make the most of her newfound opportunities. A good indicator of this theme is the naming of the episodes. Each one is named after a new experience that Kimmy has. These include getting a job, going on a date, and graduating high school. I think this theme is culturally relevant to a lot of people like myself. College signifies newfound independence and with it comes opportunities that people should open up to trying. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt does a great job highlighting this lesson.

Her date didn’t go as planned; he was old as rocks!



More Homework Means “I Love You”

For this blog post I chose to discuss the theme of season 1 episode 2 – Home Sweet Home-School. This episode focuses heavily on family values versus personal wants and needs.

To begin with, here is a quick summary of the episode. It begins with Jessica Huang being disappointed that her son, Eddie, got straight A’s because school is too easy. Evan is annoyed with Jessica because she is too commanding at the restaurant so he sends her to tutor the boys afterschool for more stimulating work. Eddie is annoyed by this because he wants the free time to play outside like the American boys. While Jessica is gone, Evan bonds with restaurant employees and makes the restaurant a more joyful environment. Eventually, Eddie discovers what his dad has done, and helps his mom Jessica catch him, so she moves the studies to the restaurant. A few boys dine and dash on the restaurant which would not have happened had Jessica taken care of it instead of Evan. When a few of the workers offer to pay for the meal themselves, Jessica realizes that the restaurant is benefiting from spending money to foster a better environment. She tracks down the boys who dined and dashed and forces them to apologize to Evan to restore his faith in the goodness of people. She also gives the boys the afternoon off from their studies in order to play basketball with their dad.

Throughout this episode, every character learns a lesson. Jessica learns that relationship growth and happiness are also worth time and money. She begins to change her actions at the end of the episode. By giving Eddie free time and forcing the boys to apologize to Evan, she shows how her perspective and values have shifted.

Eddie learns a similar lesson, while playing basketball with his dad and siblings. While he plays, one of the neighborhood boys approaches him and is jealous that his family pays attention to him. His dad was playing basketball with him and that shows how much his dad cares. He then finally understands how much his mom cares. All together the family realizes the importance of prioritizing each other’s needs and recognizes that they show their care in untraditional ways. They don’t say “I love you” but they show it.

The Huang family does not say they love each other unless they are hiding something. They show their love in different ways.

This connects to the rest of the show by proving that the Huang family doesn’t have to conform to look and act like those around it. All the other families don’t spend as much time together or don’t care about grades that much, because the members of the family don’t care about each other that much. The Huang family can be unique and independent and has nothing to envy from other families.

This is what the show is trying to portray to the audience. All families or individuals are special in their own way and being different from those around you isn’t necessarily a bad thing. All families and individuals are unique and awesome in their own way!

Treachery and Forgiveness: the ups and Downs of Friendship

     In the episode of New Girl titled “Secrets” (S1E19), the theme of the story is very clearly about the consequences of keeping secrets from close and dear friends. The main focus of the episode is on the fact that Cece and Nick, Jess’ best friend and roommate, have been romantically involved form months without telling her about their relationship. When Jess’ other roommate Winston discovers this relationship, news quickly spreads to the small group of friends and infuriates Jess over the betrayal of the supposedly open friendship she has with Cece. However, ultimately Jess comes to understand that Cece was trying to hide from her own emotions and subsequently forgives her.

Jess confronts Cece and Schmidt about the truth. #awks


     While Jess’ initially responds to the situation with anger, the reason for which she forgives her best friend demonstrates the complexity behind the seemingly ill-intentioned decision to keep a secret from friends. By saving the revelation of Cece’s obliviousness to her own emotions until the last few minutes of the show, the show emphasizes to the viewers that the primary source of Cece’s secret stems from insecurity rather than some disdain for Jess. Therefore, the way in which the general arc of the plot for this episode accentuates this theme demonstrates the care taken in the narrative to substantiate and support the exploration of secret-keeping among the friends in the show.

     Within the greater context of the entire show, this episode is yet another facet of the intricate interactions that friends often have with one another. In an attempt to create believable characters in a believable reality, such an exploration of this common problem among friends further develops Jess, Winston, Nick, Schmidt, and Cece into real people and not just characters in a sitcom. While not a grandiose commentary on the problems in society, the characters and their struggles in New Girl still relate to the daily lives, problems, and relationships of real people one secret at a time.



Netflix. “New Girl S1:E19 ‘Secrets’.” Online Video Clip. Netflix. Netflix, 2018. Web.                25 September 2018.

Don’t forget. Everyone is a person.

Sense 8 is a television show that is known for its diverse cast and filming locations. This is done very intentionally. I mean, it would be significantly easier and have taken a lot less money to have the same concept shot only in one country or with one type of people. Yet, that is not what they did. The show is founded upon the idea of human interconnection. Eight people from eight different cities across the globe all come together because they have been ‘reborn’-a term used in the show which entails that ability to see and feel from other people’s bodies.

Throughout the show the viewer watches these eight individuals find the extent of their new abilities while learning about each person and their struggles. Overwhelmingly, all of the people are very open-minded and empathetic to each other. There is no hatred or discrimination amongst the group of eight. Is this because they are all sharing this common connection and the struggles that come with it? or Is there a greater message to be seen from the interactions between characters? In episode 5, Capheus and Sun share a moment where they have a conversation on some steps in the street of Seoul, Korea. During the conversation, it is obvious that they share very similar family struggles and end up helping each other cope.

You may be wondering- how on earth can these people realistically communicate? Yes, in everyday life language barriers are very troublesome. Many times they allow people to distance themselves from other large groups of people and their respective cultures. Nevertheless, after being reborn, the group of 8 share such a strong and immediate connection such that they posses the language skills of all the other characters. Not only do they possess their languages, but, done right, they can posses other’s skills as well. Overall, the theme that I have been building up to here is that beyond languages and cultures, everyone is a person and we are more alike than many want to admit.

-sierra villarreal

Jess teaching valuable lessons

I’ll be honest, the first two episodes of New Girl didn’t quite “hook” me, but episode three both hooked me and taught some valuable lessons in the process.  Any show that can spread a positive message while making me laugh earns my respect as a T.V. viewer.  This episode focuses on two main themes: dealing with past relationships and being true to ones self.  I want to discuss the latter and less obvious theme so let’s go!

Having the confidence to be your self is a theme that naturally come’s along with Jess’s quirky personality, however, this episodes shows her, and Schmidt, struggle to do so.  When the whole gang get’s ready to go to a wedding, Nick requests the help of Jess to be his fake girlfriend to make his ex, Caroline, jealous.  After a couple of drinks Nick begins to fall for Caroline again, Jess begins to make a fool of herself and Winston begins a fight with a child (let’s not dwell on that).  Jess, trying to be a good friend, pushes Caroline away leading to an outburst from Nick where he calls her a “ruiner”.  Jess is now stuck in a place where the guys don’t want her to be herself, but they got mad at her even when she tried to be different… alright now let’s look at the struggles of Schmidt.

Schmidt, the wannabe lady killer, spends the whole night trying to find a way to “get with” a girl he is supposedly crazy for.  But the whole night he ignores the advances of a girl named Gretchen with whom he shares an odd (mainly sexual) connection with.  

The only problem is, this girl isn’t exactly his type.  Schmidt ends up miserably chasing after a girl with whom he doesn’t connect because she would be better for his appearance and confidence.  He ignores his true desires, his true self because he’s worried about the thoughts of others.  Also, I know this might be too deep of an analysis of the womanizer that is Schmidt, but I really do believe it was the writer’s intentions to convey this message in parallel with Jess’s struggles.

So what happened?!  Well once Jess decided to unleash the weirdness that is her personality, she and the guys ended up having a great time blowing bubbles (don’t ask just watch).  And for Schmidt?  He ended up getting with Gretchen and I assume he enjoyed it.  So once our favorite characters decided to do what they really wanted to do, the results are better for everyone.  Sends a pretty clear message and set’s up a theme I think New Girl will relate to in many upcoming episodes.  And I promise to keep you updated.



“Fresh Off the Boat” Theme of Cultural Assimilation and Identity


A common repeating theme in “Fresh Off the Boat” is the struggle that immigrant families go through when they move to America. The struggle of maintaining their ancestral and individual culture; while at the same time trying to blend in with the American people around them. This comes into the shows forefront during the last episode of the first season of “Fresh Off the Boat.” During the episode, Jessica come to the realization that they had assimilated so far into American culture that their kids were starting to lose perspective of the ancestral culture that they came from. Jessica’s epiphany compounded through several events: Marvin mentioning that they seem like an average American family to him, Evan requesting to know how to say “can you say that in English” in Mandarin, and the fact that she cooked mac and cheese with bacon bits for dinner. In contrast in episode 3 “The Shunning,” Jessica made stinky tofu to take to the block party, a Chinese dish. In fact, what Marvin said was a response to Jessica calling themselves Asian-American with an emphasis on Asian. While it’s the main plot behind episode 13, it has sat in the background for a bit. In an earlier episode, Jessica asked why Eddie couldn’t just a good Chinese boy like Emery or Evan. This is made because Eddie seem to desire to become more like the rest of his classmates; while Emery and Evan were more stereotypical Chinese kids with good grades and Evans even paints some beautiful Chinese inspired art. The most noticeable lost of cultural identify can be seen through the three generations living in the house hold with the grandma being the most tradition and the kids being the most assimilated. In episode 11 “Very Superstitious,” there is a great example of this is the superstitious of the characters. The grandma is seen as being highly religious with incense, Jessica is highly superstitious having typical Chinese superstitions such as the number 4 being bad luck, this is then contrasted with Louis, who has assimilated further into American culture, being only superstitious about not having his jade necklace, and finally the kids aren’t shown to be superstitious, at least not in the traditional Chinese sense, in the episode. This was all use to symbolize how over several generations kids slowly get assimilated into the culture that they live in losing the cultural identity that their parents and grandparents had. This is a very common phenomenon in the real world often happening across three or so generations where the first generation that immigrates to America keeps their own culture passing it down on to their kids that mix it with the culture they live in. Finally, when they have their own kids they past much less of their culture along often with the third generation fully assimilating.

Jessica hopes to hold on to their native language by getting her entire family to only speak in Mandarin when at home.

Eddie wanting to be less Asian and more like his white friends representing the lost of cultural identity over the course of a few generations.

The Confrontational and Disheartening Nature of Birthdays

Throughout my short tenure at college I’ve discovered one main lesson: being an adult is hard. This is also the lesson that Mindy discovers in the episode “Mindy’s Birthday”. This episode centers around her birthday, but being in her thirties, she is disillusioned with the party her friends decide to throw for her: a glitzy, public bash complete with presents that teach cooking for one and an elliptical. As people grow other, birthdays are no longer what they were when they were kids. Birthdays, events designed to be celebrations of life allow people to become disappointed in the events of their lives. It’s generally a time for people to come to term with the shortcomings of their own lives, as birthdays are milestones that can pass without certain moments of success. For Mindy, this is most evidenced by her lack of a relationship. Thus, the argument here is that birthdays force adults to evaluate their life choices, many times in a harsher way than reality.

The episode demonstrates the introspective, sometimes disheartening nature of birthdays by a series of bad choices made by Mindy. After confronting her lack of romantic relationship, she abandons her friends and coworkers to drink alone at a bar. This leads her to make a group of superficial friends before wandering NYC with her belligerent office assistant. Mindy became transfixed on what her ideal life should be in her mid-thirties, and when she realized she hadn’t achieved it, she ran away. She forgot to be appreciative for the wonderful things she already had in her life – her friends.

This ties back to the larger theme evident throughout the entire show – life is not a fairytale romance. Life is messy, difficult, not always enjoyable, and it certainly will not go perfectly. Mindy is an eternal optimist – she has high expectations and she really, truly believes she can achieve everything she wants. At the times when things don’t go perfectly, she breaks down. The show is technically considered a romantic comedy, and as such, Mindy strives for the same ideals perpetrated throughout the genre: to be happily married, have a successful career, and be perfectly content. She has achieved much of this, but she is still missing a crucial (in her opinion) piece – the relationship. This relates to the crushing expectations placed on women by society – they must be perfect and achieve milestones by specific times in life. As each birthday passes, Mindy feels herself drifting away from cultural perfection. However, as she discovers at the end of the episode, she has enough in her life to be happy. Even though she isn’t at the picture-perfect place in her life, life will always be chaotic, and people have to learn to leave their expectations and plans behind and just live life to the fullest with what they have.

Mindy’s least favorite birthday present of the night – Microwave Cooking for One

The Non-Serious Theme of Marriage and Serious Relationships in Broad City

In season two, episode seven of Broad City, the show takes on the concept of marriage and romantic relationships. One character on the show, Bevers chickens out of proposing to his girlfriend of three years because Ilana convinces him that he is too young and more so his girlfriend is too young to be constricted by marriage. Shortly after, Ilana herself struggles with the concept of being with someone for a long time. She realizes that she had not slept with Lincoln in four days and had just been hanging out with him. At the realization that that was a sign of a more serious relationship she breaks down for a small period of time, overwhelmed by the idea that she could be soon constrained to her relationship with Lincoln as Bever’s near proposal brings to light.
Marriage and serious relationships are not praised or desired on Broad City as they often are in American media. The show’s female creators and staff have written female characters that can talk about other things and are driven towards a goal of marriage. The episode before episode seven featured a dog wedding where two gay men married their dogs seemingly as a ploy to get more intimately acquainted with one another. The show puts more emphasis on enjoying life than traditional relationships, critiquing America’s romanticising of romance.
The show provides a view of two young women that want to get high, have fun, and engage in sexual actions sometimes outside of relationships, and it is displayed as completely fine. Broad City displays alternate desires that women and people can have and refreshingly so. Ilana and Abbi from episode to episode have different goals and desires that often do not include men: going to a concert, getting out of work, or enjoying a good restaurant.

See the source image

Here is the dog wedding referred too earlier.


Fresh off the Boat episode 4 review, Success, Success, and… Perms!

Ah, the family success struggle, a very relatable topic to many. It seems like many families always have the dynamic of one well-off sub-section of their family, and all the rest looking on in envy. In the fourth episode of ‘Fresh off the Boat,’ this very theme comes up and is portrayed surprisingly well.

Curls = Power, this is another, albeit humorous, ‘theme’ that is explained to the audience. Chinese. Love. Curls. (apparently)

Even if the family dynamic above isn’t something you can related to, almost everyone can relate to the classic ‘family get-together.’ In ‘Fresh off the Boat,’ the get-together is used as a device to bring about the conflict, and the major theme. The show makes a statement towards the end of the episode, that being that money and success are all important, but sometimes in your effort to show off, you may fail to see that the people you are trying to show off to also have their own problems.

This theme of showing off and competitiveness is shown in the Huang family’s actions in preparations for their family visiting. They put their youngest kids into the pantry to sleep, making sure that their family doesn’t notice that the house doesn’t have enough room for visitors, they get a fake fax line, to make it seem like their restaurant is successful, and they get the ‘success perms’ from which the episode gets its name.

Their visiting family also does certain things to show off. Jessica’s sister gets fake breasts and Jessica’s brother-in-law Steve even drives the full trip to Florida in his sports car to show off.

Eventually, both families realize that they are both going through problems, Steve is in debt like Louis, and Jessica and her sister still have to fight for the very little love their mother shows. Eddie even goes through his own little version of this. He attempts to show off his knowledge of hip-hop to his cousin, but when his cousin comes over and listens, he says that hip-hop is for kids, and that he doesn’t listen to it anymore. Eddie, like his family, realize that their family have as many problems as they do, and that it wasn’t worth the effort to try and show off.

The theme portrayed in this episode can be observed in almost every family get-together. Everyone tries to show their family how pretty their house is and how well they are doing, but in that, they forget that their family’s situation is probably more like their own than they think.

The Huangs vs the World

Season 1, episode 2 of Fresh Off the Boat is very rich thematically. The theme of the episode, however cheesy and overdone it is, is that family is important. This episode is very early on in the series, so it makes sense that the Huang family dynamic would be explored in such an episode. This exposition of the family dynamic may also set the stage for further developments in the series.

This family dynamic is extremely relatable, serving to give the episode some pathos when communicating the theme. The Huang parents each make members of the family do things for their own good, which they don’t want to do. Jessica forces her kids to practice math and reading outside of school, something I know I wouldn’t have liked in the moment, but that I would appreciate now. Louis eventually tells his wife to stay out of his business concerning the restaurant to make it a more inviting environment for customers in the future, improving business. Throughout the episode, the Huangs tell each other “I love you” when they’re hiding something. This in itself isn’t a problem, as everyone has a different means of showing love, but it, too, serves to have the audience identify more with the main characters. In my case at least, this is something I can identify with. I actually texted my mom the other day to tell her I missed her, and she replied with, “What’s wrong?”

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The Huangs say “I love you” when they’re hiding things.

In this episode, the Huangs stand up for each other in many ways. Eddie’s parents defend him when the school tries to get him in trouble for fighting another kid after being called a racial slur. Additionally, Jessica deals with customers who dine and dash at Louis’s restaurant and she takes on teaching all of the sons outside of school.

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Jessica dealing with customers who dine and dash

The Huang family is repeatedly juxtaposed with that of their neighbor, whose dad is not around.  This underscores that despite its dysfunction, the Huang family is always there for one another. This dysfunction manifests itself when Louis gets irritated with his wife at the restaurant. He half-tricks her into staying home and tutoring their sons. However, he eventually has to come clean to her. This reveals an important subtheme of this episode; that openness is important, especially through the lens of family concerns. Your family is meant to be there for you, but they can’t help unless you are open with them.

The episode ends with Louis playing basketball with his kids. This scene serves to drive home the theme, as everything is resolved because the family stuck together. This theme will likely be referenced again when members the Huangs go through hardship. They’ll turn to each other for help. As we’ve already seen, there is going to be a lot of conflict involving their cultural identity in the future, and they’re the only people they know with the same experiences.

Killjoys Experiences with a New Theme – Non-Sexual Relationships

Today, we’ll be exploring the themes present in “Killjoys”. Since you’re back, I expect that you have a genuine interest in “Killjoys” and have already watched it. I’ll try to minimize the number of spoilers, but if you are still worried you may consider watching the first 5 episodes before reading on.


「Michelle Lovretta」的圖片搜尋結果

Michelle Lovretta


In August 2015, the showrunner of the Killjoys series Michelle Lovretta interviewed with Veronica Scott of USA Today – Happy Ever After. In the interview, Michelle points out one of the major themes that ran through season 1 of Killjoys – a “non-sexual relationship” between characters of different genders. In fact, the sexual relationship of main characters with others of opposite sex have become somewhat defining of television shows since the 2000s. This includes major hits such as Jane the Virgin, Game of Thrones and The Good Place, which have featured sexual relationships between characters of opposite gender (or sometimes the same) as one of the storylines, for some being the entire driving force of the show.


Hannah John-Kamen as Dutch and Luke Macfarlane as D'avin on Killjoys. (Photo: Syfy.com)

Main Characters Dutch and D’avin of Killjoys


Michelle’s Killjoys certainly proves that sexual relationship between characters within a TV show isn’t the key to a successful series. Adopting a non-sexual relationship theme, the relationship between Dutch and Johnny, as well as D’avin who joins later on, is more of a brother and sister relationship. They certainly do not have any sexual affection towards each other (please don’t argue the relationship between Johnny and Lucy is), and none of their action and the decisions they make can be attributed it. Instead, the whole season is progressed by the values of each character, both similar and different, such as families, friends and loyalty. The departure from using sexual relationships as a storyline and adopting a non-sexual relationship theme brings out the brotherhood and sisterhood in the series together with the added benefit of making the motives of characters appear much brighter. At the same time, this usage of the theme of non-sexual relationship criticises the overgeneralisation of sexual relationship in pop culture while providing an alternative for the audience.


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Lucy in Killjoys


Furthermore, the successful adoption of a non-sexual relationship theme demonstrates romance isn’t essential for TV shows to grasp the attention of its audience. Instead, one without could still have the same elements of action, sympathy and arguments while being more easily understandable and relatable. This provides the audience with a completely different experience, probably one that the general population would easily connect and relate to. After all, not everyone has experienced or like romance, while on the contrary, everyone has experienced some kind of brotherhood/sisterhood.

This brings us to what this theme of non-sexual relationship contributes. While it certainly makes us reflect how pop culture has been overusing sexual-relationship to capture audiences’ attention, it also brings out the decisions we as human beings often must make; what is more important? Family? Friend? Loyalty? Responsibilities …… In case you need a reminder, life is not always a choice between who do you love or choosing between a sexual relationship or something else.


Liszewski, Bridget. “KILLJOYS’ MICHELLE LOVRETTA WRITES WHAT SHE LOVES”. Thetvjunkies.Com, 2016, https://www.thetvjunkies.com/killjoys-michelle-lovretta-writes-what-she-loves/. Accessed 11 Sept 2018.

Sara-goodwin. “Interview: Killjoys’ Tamsen McDonough Talks Fan Experiences, Playing a Spaceship & Being Part of the MCU.” The Mary Sue, The Mary Sue, 1 Nov. 2016, www.themarysue.com/interview-killjoys-tamsen-mcdonough/. Accessed 12 Sept 2018.

Scott, Veronica. “Interview: Michelle Lovretta, Creator of SyFy’s ‘Killjoys’.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 29 June 2016, happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2015/08/20/veronica-scott-killjoys-michelle-lovretta-interview/. Accessed 11 Sept 2018.



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.

Who’s ready to party!? And talk about the world we want to leave our grandchildren?

The second episode in New Girl’s sixth season, “Hubbedy Bubby,” has a powerful theme, despite its foolish name. Throughout the whole episode, Jess, and optimistic and outspoken woman, is trying to encourage people to register for the upcoming 2016 election. The theme of the episode is that it is important for people to make their voice be heard and have an impact in their future.

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Jess and Cece were ready and excited to encourage young Americans to vote.

The episode begins with Schmidt arguing that democracy is dead and that politics is all money and special interest groups. His cynical attitude sets him up to be Jess’ foil. In fact, he makes a bet that if she gets 5 new voters, he will vote for Hillary Clinton. His character supports the theme because he represents a large population of people who choose not to get involved because they think they have low political efficacy. He ends up getting dragged into helping campaign for Hillary, which is ironic because he is a Republican. This builds to the episode’s theme by showing that being a little involved is better than nothing.

Jess wants to campaign for Hillary, but when she gets to the campaign center, she is dissatisfied with the tasks given to her. The manager informs her to “just be respectful and informative” but Jess want to actually get out and recruit people and make change first-hand. She goes to a sorority house where she is greeted at the door by a woman saying “ew bye.” This is when Jess gets creative. She joins the party, but then talks about the importance of changing the world for their grandchildren and redistribution of wealth. After a long rant, she finally inspires the sorority girls to go and register (though she later leaves them because they support Trump). This emphasizes the theme in an unconventional way. Younger people may not be as attracted to politics and voting, but their votes are just as important, and sometimes they can only be reached through their interests, which is why television can be a powerful education tool.

The idea of creating change and speaking up for what you believe in is a theme throughout the majority of New Girl. Jess is a powerful and opinionated woman and she is always encouraging her friends to do more outside their comfort zone and speak out. She is always a positive character and leads the group into many adventures.

Speaking out and using your voice is so important in today’s age, which is why the theme of this episode is so relevant. Regardless of people like Schmidt, who are tired of politics, or people like the sorority girls, who just don’t care, democracy is still alive. This episode did a great job of using comedy, satire, and irony to convey a very important message and inspire young people to stand up for what they believe in.

Good People Do Bad Things Sometimes

Search Party is a pretty complex show. It follows multiple interwoven storylines between four different lead characters, while still trying to highlight the main plot. Within the show’s intricate plot design, several themes are heavily outlined. Season 1, episode 8 of the show (The Return of the Forgotten Phantom) explores the themes of dishonesty and self-interest through Elliot, one of the series’s four main stars.

Elliot, a narcissist and compulsive liar, is finally outed as a big fat phony. Once a successful water bottle mogul and philanthropist, his entire life’s work crumbles after a magazine article uncovers his biggest lie to date: he didn’t actually have cancer in high school. In fact, Elliot was actually in play that year (or was he?), which would have been too physically taxing for someone undergoing radiation therapy.

So here’s the big question: was Elliot justified in his lie? He exploited his fraudulent cancer for sympathy, fame, and influence. On the other hand, it fueled charitable endeavors distributing clean water to impoverished African villages. The pragmatic cynic in me wants to bash the show’s writers for making this issue so gray, but even I can still decode the message the show is trying to convey. The Return of the Forgotten Phantom is a warning to the viewer; an explicit message that lying, no matter what the intention, will always have some detrimental consequence.

You tell ’em Sammy

Elliot’s lies have the greatest impact on Portia than any of his other friends. Portia gets her just desserts, though. She outwits Elliot at his own game, spinning a mendacious tale about her father to spark his sympathies. Elliot sputters out an apology, really-truly-sincerely, until Portia reveals she “was only telling you that story so that you would think I was really cool and empathize with my struggle.” Ouch.

The beauty of this show lies in how dishonesty and deception become so important to the four leads that they end up tearing their lives apart due to it. Elliot, Dory, Drew, and even Portia become so caught up in the web of lies they’ve spun that bad things keep happening, even after they save Chantal (sorry, spoiler). Season 2 of the show further explores this notion, but this post isn’t about season 2.

The episode also explores how the consequence of ongoing dishonesty “might be the biggest punishment for a millennial like Elliott, who’s used to using social media for affirmation” (Chavez). That line from an AV Club review of the episode really highlights the bigger picture here: in the age of social media, people IRL aren’t ever who they say they are online. Hundreds of apps exist to retouch Instagram photos; you could literally make a fake profile pretending to be someone else. So where do we draw the line? Is it okay to bash someone like fictional Elliot, while the real life Kardashians and their fake diet teas are still terrorizing our news feeds? How can we champion truth when we eat dishonesty for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?


Works Cited:

Chavez, Danette. “The Collateral Damage Is Accumulating on Search Party.” Review of The Return Of The Forgotten Phantom. AV/TV Club, tv.avclub.com/the-collateral-damage-is-accumulating-on-search-party-1798189971.


Paycheck vs Passion

Following your heart doesn’t give you an excuse to do stupid things.

This picture is a great representation of an important component of the theme of this episode: leaving your comfort zone.

Episode 2 of The Bold Type had the girls feeling its title “O Hell No”. Sutton was offered an advertising job that wasn’t anything close to her dream job. Jane had to write a sex column even though she wasn’t well-versed in such a topic. Kat had to face her romantic feelings for Adena even though she has always considered herself a “hetero”. The theme of this particular episode is easily summed up by a number of cliché sayings like follow your dreams, don’t let your head get in the way of your heart, don’t hold yourself back, etc. On top of serving up a very cliché theme, the episode presented the theme very explicitly; the  characters repeatedly regurgitated some form of the previous clichés. The show’s overall theme tends to take the form of women empowerment. Encouraging women to follow their dreams and take risks falls right in line with the show’s uber feministic standpoint. In terms of cultural conversations, following one’s heart is a cliché, but although it has proliferated in society, the majority of the population still chooses paycheck over passion. Where this episode succeeds is in its representation of why it’s so difficult to escape one’s comfort zone. For Sutton the appeal of settling for less than her dream job was high not only because of the money but also because she had grown up relatively poor and with an unstable mother. Money and stability meant so much more to her than its surface level value. Additionally, she felt stuck in a dead-end position and that she had ran out of time to fulfill her fashion industry dreams. The advertising job was her ticket out; even though it wasn’t a ticket to where she wanted to go, it was at least an escape from where she was. For Jane writing a sex column was not only difficult because she was inexperience and reserved, but also because she had just been promoted to join the writing team, so she felt excess pressure to succeed and to please. For Kat she proclaimed that she was hetero, but her feelings for Adena made her doubt herself. She was tumbling into identity crisis. Worst of all, at Adena’s art exhibit, Kat witnessed Adena kiss another girl, so she had to combat the fear of rejection infused with her struggle to address her feelings. Irony is this episode’s last bit of beauty. Kat is portrayed as the bravest of the three girls. The one with no fear. The one who takes risks. However, she was the one who had the most difficulty following her heart. Sutton rejected the job that promised security and released her safety net. Jane was completely honest in her article and made a last minute decision to use her real name instead of posting anonymously. Kat talked to Adena, but failed to confess or even confront her feelings. It just goes to show that someone doesn’t have to be the bravest person to do the bravest things.

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