Fangirl Thursday: Let’s Play Dress-Up!

Tomorrow is one of my favorite days of the year—Halloween! For as much as I love the whole “excuse to eat candy” part of the holiday, my real favorite thing about Halloween is dressing up. Halloween has always given me yet another outlet to show how much I love the fictional characters who matter to me, and that’s dressing up as them.

One of my favorite costumes—from Halloween 2010.

One of my favorite costumes—from Halloween 2010.

I’ve never gone to Comic Con (and I just started going to Star Wars Weekends, only dressing up for it this past year), so Halloween is a way for me to try my hand at cosplaying. In the last few years, I’ve really tried to make an effort to choose costumes based on fictional characters I like and not just whatever looked good at the store. It’s fun to show my passions through the costumes I’ve chosen, and it’s also fun to see other people’s costumes and figure out how those reflect things that matter to them.

When I was a little girl, my Disney princess costumes meant the world to me. (I can still vividly remember my Cinderella dress.) This year, I’m returning those roots to pay homage to my favorite Disney princess: Belle. (Expect plenty of photos of my costume to make their way to social media this weekend.)

Whether it’s Hermione from Harry Potter or Red from Once Upon a Time, my recent costumes have reflected fictional characters that mean a lot to me. This year, my costume is also going to reflect that, and I am so excited to wear a costume that connects 26-year-old me to the little girl I was when I first watched Belle sing about the “great, wide somewhere.”

Tell me, fellow nerds, what have been some of your favorite Halloween costumes from your childhood or your more recent past? And what—if anything—are you dressing up as this year?

TV Time: Castle 7.05


Title Meme Is Murder

Two-Sentence Summary The team from the 12th precinct investigates a pair of murders involving Internet celebrities, whose dead bodies were photographed and put online. The case leads them to a victim of cyberbullying who has found a sense of power in creating a legacy of brutal murders.

Favorite Line It’s not a line, but I think we could all use another viewing of this video:

My Thoughts “Meme Is Murder” felt like a filler episode before something huge, which we all now know that it was. It was fairly case-heavy, and we all know those aren’t my favorites. And while last week’s episode was also more about the case of the week and less about the characters and their growth, it got by on its charm and some pretty significant development for Castle and Alexis. It’s not that I need for Castle’s disappearance to be brought up every week in a major way, but after integrating it really well into the lighter episodes so far this season, it felt a bit strange for it to not have any presence in “Meme Is Murder.”

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.05

Title Breaking Glass

Two-Sentence Summary As Regina and Emma seek out the Snow Queen for different reasons, Emma attempts to mend their broken relationship, which Regina feels is damaged beyond repair. Flashbacks to Emma’s past as a runaway teenager show that Emma was once in Regina’s shoes, feeling alone and unable to forgive after feeling betrayed.

Favorite Line “Now she’ll be able to reach us on our drive, our hike, if we fall through a portal to Asgard—wherever we are.” (Charming)

My Thoughts Once Upon a Time is a show rooted in the idea that love is strength, and I’ve always appreciated that it isn’t afraid to show the other side of that statement, too: A life without love robs us of our strengths and keeps us from being our best selves. “Breaking Glass” reflected both sides of the “love is strength” idea in the tumultuous interactions between Emma and Regina throughout the episode, in the flashbacks to Emma’s lonely life as a runaway, and in even the smallest character beats throughout the episode.

At first glance, Snow and Charming’s little side plot may have felt like nothing more than a sweet little break from the heaviness of what Emma and Regina were dealing with. And yes, it was pretty darn adorable. (But when have Josh Dallas and Ginnifer Goodwin shared a scene and been anything other than perfect together?) But it also reflected the central theme of the episode: When you feel like someone is supporting you and loves you, you are more willing to move beyond your fears and be the best version of yourself.

Will is the example of what happens when you feel alone and lost—he’s a shell of the happy man we last saw in Wonderland with Anastasia, reverting to his worst traits. But Snow was stronger than we’ve seen her in a long time in this episode, even if she did pardon Will when she shouldn’t have. And what gave her the strength to find her groove after being afraid to leave her son? Knowing her husband loves her and wants her to be her best self, even if he didn’t actually set up Will’s escape. It’s what made their last scene so sweet. These are two people who have been through hell and back together, but they’ve survived it all because they know someone will always be there to lean on when things are hard, reminding them of the best they can be. And that’s why they’re this show’s shining example of True Love.

On the opposite side of the spectrum from Snow and Charming, we have Regina. You don’t have to like Regina’s behavior in this episode (Goodness knows I bristled at some of the stuff she said to Emma.), but it’s important to remember that she’s behaving in a way that is so true to her character and so true to the entire ethos of this show: When you feel alone, you forget your best self. And Regina feels completely alone at this point. The shots of her holding the picture of her and Robin were so important (Who are we supposed to think took that photo and Emma and Neal’s photo, by the way? That briefly took me out of both moments.) Lana Parrilla plays heartbreak like she was born to show all the facets of that emotion, and even though I knew I should be frustrated with her for pushing Emma away and being so harsh with her, I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for her. Regina is in so much pain, and she needed to process and let out all of it before she could even begin to think about growing from this experience, and that’s what this episode was all about.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (10/19 – 10/26)

This week in television started off with a very emotional hour of Once Upon a Time, a fantastic Halloween episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and another strong episode of The Good Wife. Monday’s Castle basically gave all of us everything we never knew we always wanted: Nathan Fillion interacting with a room full of cute kids. On Wednesday, Black-ish addressed a controversial issue in a way that was both sensitive and genuinely funny, and Nashville introduced another “dad who didn’t know he was a dad” storyline. Finally, Thursday’s episode of Scandal was the most tense and dramatic of the season (and that’s saying something), and it was followed by another master class in acting from Viola Davis on How to Get Away with Murder.

It was impossible for me to pick just one thing I saw on TV as the best of the week, so I’m going to cheat and pick one night. Sunday nights are a TV lover’s dream this season, and this Sunday was an exceptionally great night. Once Upon a Time‘s much-hyped date between Hook and Emma exceeded even my high expectations with just how genuinely sweet and romantic it was (especially that “goodnight” scene outside the loft’s door). Brooklyn Nine-Nine‘s Halloween episode had me laughing from start to finish, and Holt’s description of how he pulled one over on Jake was another highlight reel moment for Andre Braugher and made me love that character more than ever before. And the showdown between Alicia and Peter on The Good Wife had me thinking Emmys already in the middle of October. There’s nothing better than ending a weekend with some excellent television shows, and Sunday TV is exactly what I need to put me in a good mood to start the workweek.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

Fangirl Thursday: A Magical Anniversary


Three years ago today, the Once Upon a Time pilot aired, bringing some much-needed magic to primetime network television. I will admit; I didn’t watch the show that first night. But I caught a marathon of the first seven episodes on New Year’s Day 2012, and it was love at first sight for me. I knew from the opening of the pilot episode that I was watching something special, and I know I wasn’t the only person who felt that way. And three years (or almost three years in my case), dozens of plot twists and new characters, and far too many hours spent analyzing this show later, so many of us still feel that way. And that’s something worth celebrating.

Once Upon a Time and Nerdy Girl Notes are intrinsically linked. The day I first watched the show was also the day I made the resolution to start this website. In no small way, Once Upon a Time has shaped the look and feel of NGN more than perhaps any other piece of media I’ve written about. Nothing inspires me as a writer like Once Upon a Time (just in case you didn’t already know that from the length of my weekly posts or the number of essays I’ve written about this show), and I am forever grateful that I found a show to write about that challenges me the way this show does with each new episode.

Once Upon a Time has taught me to write from a place of optimism and positivity. It’s taught me that it’s okay to acknowledge flaws, but it’s also important to acknowledge the good stuff—and there’s always good stuff. It’s helped me see that writing for me is a lot like magic for this show’s characters—it’s all about emotion. I write my best when I write from my heart, and Once Upon a Time celebrates the beauty and power of approaching everything with an open heart. Because of that, this show has undoubtedly made me a braver writer. It’s helped me feel like it’s okay to wear my heart on my sleeve, and I know for a fact I’m a better writer because of that.

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TV Time: Castle 7.04

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, I wasn’t able to watch this week’s episode of Castle in time to write about it. Thankfully, the lovely and talented Heather was kind enough to step in and write this week’s review!



Title Child’s Play

Two Sentence Summary Castle goes back to second grade to help track down a potential witness to a crime. Back at home, Alexis struggles with Castle’s disappearance.

Favorite Lines
Mrs. Ruiz: I didn’t do much to deserve this.
Beckett: Are you kidding? You put up with Castle for two days.

My Thoughts There are weeks when the case on Castle really interests me, and there are weeks where I watch because I love these characters. This week was definitely one of the latter for me. The case itself felt a little bit scattered and never really came together in a way that made me feel much of anything as twists were revealed or the criminal was caught. It was overly convoluted for an hour, with a fake passport ring, the Russian mob, and a war criminal who was felled by marbles (in a very nice move from Castle).

Fortunately for the episode, the character moments were incredibly entertaining to watch. Nathan Fillion is so good at bringing a childlike joy to episodes that allow Castle to believe in the impossible (like last week’s episode), so to surround him with a bunch of actual children was a real treat to watch.

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TV Time: Once Upon a Time 4.04


Title The Apprentice

Two-Sentence Summary Hook uses his knowledge of the truth about the dagger to get his severed hand back from Rumplestiltskin before his big date with Emma, but that proves to have disastrous consequences when his hand appears to still possess the darkness he’s learned to let go of. As part of a deal to get Rumplestiltskin to take back the hand, Hook is forced to help him capture the sorcerer’s apprentice, whom we’re first introduced to in flashbacks, as Anna learns about the danger of making deals with the Dark One.

Favorite Lines
Emma: I don’t pillage and plunder on the first date, just so you know.
Hook: Well that’s because you haven’t been out with me yet.

My Thoughts There are two ways you could view “The Apprentice.” You could worry about what this episode means for certain characters and their arcs and relationships, letting yourself get caught up in the potential negatives. Or you could choose to believe that the storylines introduced in this episode will actually lead to really good things and focus on the many positive parts of this episode.

I’m choosing the second option. I’m choosing to hope. I’m choosing to be happy. I was reminded recently of the importance of choosing positivity and optimism when it’s easy to believe the worst, so I’m going to apply that little real-life lesson to fandom. And I hope that any of you who feel disappointed or discouraged after this episode can walk away from reading this feeling a little bit better.

Was “The Apprentice” perfect? No. It had its moments of contrived drama and angst. However, this was a “setup episode” if there ever was one, and the potential for character development in the stories it set up is phenomenal.

At its heart, “The Apprentice” was an episode about Rumplestiltskin, and it was so much fun to see my two favorite sides of this character come out to play: the impish, evil glee of the Dark One in flashbacks and the controlled malice of Mr. Gold in the present-day storyline. Of course I enjoy watching him be romantic with Belle (or at least I did before he was constantly lying to her) and trying to be a better man, but I like my Rumplestiltskin best when he’s working in the darker shades of gray. It’s when he’s at his most compelling as a character, and it’s when Robert Carlyle is at his most compelling as an actor. He makes me furious as I’m watching him, but I can never look away.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (10/12 – 10/19)

This week kicked off with another strong Sunday night of television. On Once Upon a Time, we spent some more time with a mysterious new villain; on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, we were introduced to the “Jimmy Jab Games;” and on The Good Wife, we were reminded what brilliant blending of comedy and drama looks like. Monday’s Castle put some spice back into Castle and Beckett’s relationship. Tuesday’s New Girl featured a new phone for the loft and a new man for Jess, and The Mindy Project featured a fun cameo from Shonda Rhimes. On Wednesday, Black-ish tackled the differences between moms and dads, and Nashville made my heart ache for Juliette more than ever. And Thursday was a night of big twists—from the president’s daughter’s sex tape on Scandal to the last nine words of How to Get Away with Murder.

It was impossible for me to pick just one standout moment for this week, so I’m going to talk about two moments that shared the same theme: vulnerability. The final scene of this week’s How to Get Away with Murder was absolutely astounding in the complete vulnerability showed not just by the character of Annalise Keating but also by Viola Davis as an actress. As I watched her take off her makeup, peel off her eyelashes, and show her real hair, I was floored by the honesty Davis brought to that moment when Annalise stopped hiding and let her guard come down completely before confronting her husband. It was a moment that showed total honesty for this character, and Davis brought total honesty to this moment as an actress. While watching the restrained emotion in that scene, I was ready to give Davis her Emmy immediately.

The second moment of vulnerability that floored me this week came from Once Upon a Time. Emma opening up to Hook about why she was pulling away from him was such a huge moment for a character who has been given every reason to fear vulnerability. To say she trusts Hook was a monumental moment of growth, but even that was topped by her telling him she can’t lose him. It was the most open and vulnerable we’ve ever seen this character, and I loved that her vulnerability was met with love and reassurance from the man she was opening her heart to. In opening her heart completely, Emma finally let hope in. In a way, it was the opposite of what happened with Annalise. Annalise admitted to her husband that she didn’t trust him at all, while Emma finally let herself trust. Both moments were outstanding portraits of character growth, and both left me incredibly excited for what’s next for these two great characters.

What was the best thing you saw on TV this week?

TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.05

TMP 305

Title The Devil Wears Lands’ End

Two-Sentence Summary Mindy’s attempts to win over the new hospital administrator lead to disaster when she almost breaks up a marriage. Meanwhile, Peter and Jeremy’s friendship gets its groove back during a Dartmouth beer pong tournament.

Favorite Line “Am I the new mayor of Shondaland?” (Peter)

My Thoughts After a bit of a misstep last week, I really enjoyed this week’s episode of The Mindy Project. I thought it was the funniest episode of the season so far, and it was also the most balanced. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this was another episode where I liked the B-plot better than the A-plot, but this time it wasn’t because the A-plot was terrible. It was because the B-plot was really good.

I’m happy that Peter and Jeremy’s story was as strong as it was because Mindy and Danny’s was a little weak and clichéd in terms of its basic plot. I know that Mindy Lahiri is supposed to be a character who’s hard to like at times, but that doesn’t mean I can just excuse episodes where the character is really grating just because she’s supposed to be that way. I did, however, like seeing Danny act as her conscience because that’s what a partner is supposed to do—tell you when you’re not being your best self.

It was a bit unbelievable that one night out with Mindy would be enough to not just make the new doctor think she was lesbian but also to cause her to cheat on her wife. But I was happy to see that this episode didn’t focus on mining comedy out of Mindy pretending to be a lesbian (which could have gotten really offensive really fast) but instead on Mindy pretending that Danny was upset about the kiss.

And while the A-plot wasn’t terribly compelling on a plot or character level, it did give us the comedic genius of Danny trying to interpret what Mindy wanted him to say during his rant about her “infidelity.” This was such a great use of Chris Messina and Mindy Kaling, and it might have been the single funniest moment I’ve seen so far this season. When he interpreted hanging as “I will go to the Statue of Liberty,” I was actually crying from laughing so hard, and it was all because of Messina’s perfect delivery. Danny was trying so hard to be convincing even as he was saying ridiculous things, which made it even funnier. And all of that was topped off with the brilliant bit of physical comedy that was Danny throwing the wine in Mindy’s face and then yelling “I can’t have a baby!” Once again, Messina’s commitment to the joke was a thing of beauty.

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Fangirl Thursday: A New Dress and an Open Heart

This post is a little different from my usual Fangirl Thursday ones, but sometimes you just have to go where the inspiration leads.

I love clothes. I love to shop for them, to look at them in magazines and on red carpets, and to talk about them. As such, dissecting a character’s costume choices is one of my favorite ways to analyze any piece of media. From the evolution of Kate Beckett’s hair to the bright colors worn by Mindy Lahiri, the outward appearance of a TV character gives us a lot of insight into exactly who they are.

Therefore, when a character shows up wearing something different from what we’ve come to expect, it’s important. It’s worth talking about.


This—Emma Swan in a soft pink dress with her hair pulled back, ready for her first real date with Hook—is worth talking about.

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