Fangirl Thursday: Making an Impact

parks prom

We’ve all seen those lists popping up on our Facebook feeds—“15 Movies that Changed My Life,” “10 Books that Stayed with Me,” “10 Albums that Have Defined My Life,” etc. We’ve probably even made one or more of those lists ourselves. (I’ve done both the book and movies ones.) But I haven’t seen any of these “challenges” devoted to television.

That’s about to change.

I am the woman I am in no small part due to the movies I’ve watched and the books I’ve read in my 26 years. However, I’m also the woman I am because of the TV shows I’ve watched and the television characters I’ve loved. More than any other form of media, television has given me characters and stories to grow up with, to be inspired by, and to learn from over the course of many years.

Therefore, today I’m making a list of the 10 TV shows that have had the deepest impact on me. And I’m challenging all of my fellow nerds to make their own lists and post them in the comments!

1. Sesame Street: My love for television as a medium and my respect for it as a positive force in people’s lives can be traced back to mornings spent watching Sesame Street with my mom. It was the first TV show I was ever exposed to, and I want it to be the first TV show I expose my own children to someday. I love Sesame Street not only for the things it taught me (Spanish, letters and numbers, the continents…) but also for how happy it made me as kid and still makes me as an adult every time I see Grover or Big Bird or Cookie Monster spreading joy to a new generation of kids.

2. Boy Meets World: This was the first show to teach me that a piece of media can mean different things to you at different times in your life. I grew up with these characters not only when the show first aired but also through reruns that seemed to air just when I needed them in high school, in college, and even now. Boy Meets World’s series finale is one I treasure as an adult far more than I did as a preteen watching it for the first time, and it gave me some of the most profound advice any TV show could ever hope to give: “Dream. Try. Do good.”

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TV Time: The Mindy Project 3.01

Welcome, friends, to the first of my weekly reviews of The Mindy Project! I hope you’re ready to spend this season discussing all things Mindy and Danny with me, because if this premiere was any sign of how this season is going to unfold, we’re in for a fun ride!

Source: NPR

Source: NPR

Title We’re a Couple Now, Haters!

Two-Sentence Summary As Danny and Mindy’s conflicting stances on privacy present an obstacle in their new relationship, Peter and Jeremy find themselves both vying for the affections of the same woman (Peter’s girlfriend Lauren). And Mindy’s promise to keep the details of her relationship with Danny out of the office becomes difficult to keep when she finds a mystery thong in Danny’s drawer.

Favorite Lines
Mindy: I think the reason I tell everyone about us is because I want it to be real, and the more real it seems, the less likely it is that it could all get taken away from me.
Danny: It’s real.

My Thoughts Let’s not bury the lead here: Danny Castellano (aka Diamond Dan) did a striptease for Mindy at the very end of last night’s premiere of The Mindy Project, and none of us who watched it will ever be the same.

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when Danny gave Mindy her choreographed Secret Santa gift in last season’s “Christmas Party Sex Trap,” so I think it goes without saying that if I wrote what was really going through my mind at the end of “We’re a Couple Now, Haters!” this entire review would consist only of “OH MY GOD,” “HOT DAMN,” and “I CAN’T EVEN” (which is an accurate reenactment of my Tweets from last night…and this morning…and probably every day for the rest of my life now that this exists). What I will say is Mindy Kaling certainly knows her audience, and she’s thankfully not above giving them everything they never knew they always wanted.

All fangirl freaking out aside, that last scene said a lot about both the character of Danny Castellano and The Mindy Project as a whole as the show enters its third season on the heels of a spectacular second-season finale. It was a moment that oozed confidence. Although the “belt move” (as I’m calling it) and the ridiculously hot kiss at the end both had their merits (as did a million other details in that scene), my favorite part was at the very beginning of it, when Danny walked into the doorway to the opening beats of “American Woman” and proceeded to do a little shoulder shake perfectly in-time with the music. It was so effortlessly confident that it drew me in completely, and if the scene had ended right there, I still would have loved it.

Confidence is so attractive, and it’s something Chris Messina as an actor, Danny Castellano as a character, and this show in general have in spades right now. For as excited as I was about this season, I wasn’t sure anything could live up to my expectations after a finale as strong as “Danny and Mindy.” However, “We’re a Couple Now, Haters!” took everything that made me feel hopeful after that finale and brought it to life in a premiere that has me even more excited for this whole season than I was two weeks ago, if that’s even possible.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/7 – 9/14)

This week was the last before shows begin returning for their season (and series) premieres, so it was a bit of a slow week in terms of original programming. Monday’s Bachelor in Paradise finale featured Marcus and Lacy’s engagement and Cody and Michelle surprising everyone (including themselves—or at least Michelle) with how deeply they’d come to care for each other. Wednesday’s episode of Top Chef Masters was a showdown between Dale and Tiffani. And there were plenty of NFL games on Sunday (and Thursday) to keep fans busy, including a huge overtime win by my beloved Buffalo Bills.

Like last week, my favorite thing I watched was probably an episode of Masters of Sex (“Brave New World,” if you were wondering). However, if I had to pick a moment that aired on television for the first time this week, I’d say my favorite moment came from Jimmy Kimmel Live. I’m always a fan of Kimmel’s “Lie Witness News” segment, and I think this week’s edition from New York Fashion Week may have been the best of those segments yet. It had me in tears from laughing so hard, and it was a clip I had to share with everyone in my office because I loved it so much—so I want to share it with all of you, too.

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

Fangirl Thursday: Summer Love

I love the fall for many reasons—the return of football and hockey, the abundance of pumpkin-flavored treats, and new seasons of my favorite TV shows. Fall is when a sense of routine returns to my life, and the creature of habit in me loves that.

But there’s something to be said for summer and its lazy hours in air-conditioned houses, filled with time to explore the media we simply don’t have time to consume during the rest of the year. Summer is the perfect time to fall in love with a new book (or series of books) or binge-watch that TV show you keep saying you’ll “get around to eventually.”

In this strange space between summer and fall, I find myself hopelessly in love with both a television series and a book series, and I have to talk about them or else I might explode from too many unexpressed fangirl feelings.

I had a list of television shows I wanted to start this summer, but only one ended up making the cut: Masters of Sex. Thanks to Heather’s effusive praise of this show and its incredible leading lady (the fabulous Lizzy Caplan) over the past year, I bought the first season on DVD last week to tide me over until the rest of my dramas return at the end of this month. I’m not so sure I’ll be able to make it last until the end of the month, as I’ve made it to the halfway point of the first season after only two nights spent watching it. I can’t stop, and I don’t want to.

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What Are You Watching? Fall 2014 Edition

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—TV premiere time! After a long summer filled with only small moments of scripted brilliance in the middle of reality show after reality show, it’s time once again to curl up on our couches, grab a favorite TV-time snack, and fall back in love with our favorite shows—while maybe finding a few new shows to love along the way.

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: I love the start of any season—TV, sports, etc.—because it means hope. There’s always a chance that this year will be the year something amazing happens for your favorite shows and characters, or it could even be the year you’re pleasantly surprised by a show you never expected to love. I’m ready for all of that and more.

Without further ado, here’s what I’ll be watching this fall. This list doesn’t include reality shows (Dancing with the Stars and Top Chef being my most anticipated returns in that genre) or variety shows (like Saturday Night Live). Any pilots I’ll be checking out will be highlighted in pink, and the shows I’ll be reviewing each week will be marked with an asterisk (*).

MONDAYS
Castle (10 p.m. on ABC)*
I will be the first to admit that I was less than impressed with last season’s trope-heavy finale. However, I’m hopeful that the car wreck that ended last season in such a frustrating way will actually open up deeper avenues of storytelling for Rick Castle as a character and Nathan Fillion as an actor. No matter who was behind the crash (and we all have our theories), it’s going to make for plenty of dramatic storytelling. And with the Johanna Beckett arc wrapped up, I’m interested to see what the next big arc is going to be and what kind of material it gives this talented cast.—Season Premiere 9/29

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (8/31 – 9/7)

This week in television began with the penultimate episode of Bachelor in Paradise, which mercifully featured Jesse Kovacs’s exit from the show while basically everyone else found a romantic partner. On Wednesday, Ricky was crowned the winner of Season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance. And Thursday brought the NFL back to our TV screens, as the Seattle Seahawks dominated the Green Bay Packers in the league’s opening game.

If I’m being honest, the best thing I saw on my TV this week was probably the first three episodes of Masters of Sex, which I started watching on DVD Saturday afternoon. However, I know that’s cheating, so I’ll go with my second choice, which happened on Wednesday’s SYTYCD finale.

While I was disappointed with the fact that my favorite and pick to win (Zack) came in fourth, I have to admit that the most technically talented dancer won. And I couldn’t stay mad for long when there was so much good dancing to watch. In an episode full of reminders of some of the show’s best moments of the season, my favorite routine was a new one: the group routined that combined this season’s Top 10 and All Stars. It was incredibly cinematic; this routine was like something out of a movie musical. Sonya Tayeh and Christopher Scott created something so contagiously joyful. It was a true celebration of these dancers, and it was incredibly fun to watch.

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

A New Hope: Emma Swan, Captain Hook, and a Different Kind of Fairytale

good form

Happy endings aren’t always what we think they will be…

From the fairytales of old to today’s most popular Young Adult novels, there’s a recurring theme when it comes to the idea of happy endings: The happiest ending imaginable is one you share with your first love. No other kind of relationship is romanticized the way first love is romanticized. We’re taught over and over again that there’s no love as great as first love; you’ll never love again like you did the first time, when you were innocent and open and full of hope.

Once Upon a Time is a television show that revolves around the idea of happy endings—what they are, who they’re meant for, and if they’re even possible. Throughout the course of the show’s first three seasons, it’s challenged many basic fairytale tropes—the damsel in distress, the irredeemable villain, etc.—but for a long time it still relied on a very basic piece of classic fairytale mythology: First love is the love all the stories get written about.

For as far as we know (and it would be shocking to find out this isn’t the case), Snow White and Prince Charming are both each other’s first loves and true loves. Their love has grown and matured as they have; it’s been (quite literally) tested by fire and strengthened by shared experiences of joy and loss. Snow and Charming represent the kind of first love that lasts because it didn’t begin with rose-colored glasses or idealized notions of who the other was. But the fact still remains that they—to the best of everyone’s knowledge—have never loved anyone else. And while that’s beautiful, it’s not always relatable.

If there’s one character who grounds Once Upon a Time in the real and relatable, it’s Emma Swan. In Season Three’s “The Heart of the Truest Believer,” Emma told her parents, “My experiences are different.” And one of the biggest differences is how Emma and her parents experienced first love. For Snow and Charming, their first love is their only love, and that’s all they know. But Emma’s first love didn’t end in happily ever after; it didn’t survive every test it faced like her parents’ love has. Emma looked at her parents and saw the kind of love she believed wasn’t meant for her—because she was the savior, because she wasn’t born in a fairytale world, and because her first experience with love left her afraid to let someone get too close again.

Season Two’s “Tallahassee” featured a young Emma who was genuinely happy, unguarded, and as hopeful as a girl who grew up the way she did could be. Emma and Neal’s relationship throughout most of that episode showed the way first love can light up a young person’s life like nothing they’ve ever experienced before and like nothing they’ll ever experience again. However, it also showed that first love can go wrong. Sometimes it doesn’t lead to the happy ending it feels like it’s heading towards.

Learning to open your heart again after it’s been broken is an important theme of Once Upon a Time, and it’s been at the crux of Emma’s character development from the start. Emma has learned to open her heart to her son after it broke her heart to give him up. She’s learned to open her heart to her parents after it broke her heart to feel like an orphan for most of her life. She’s learned to open her heart to a home after it broke her heart to never have a real home growing up. And she’s also learned to open her heart to romantic love after it broke her heart to feel abandoned by her first love.

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Fangirl Thursday: Returning Favorites

It’s September, and you know what that means: pumpkin-spiced everything, football, and TV season premieres! And while I love a good pumpkin spice latte and my Buffalo Bills, my favorite thing about this month is all of the new TV that comes our way.

Sometime next week, I plan on breaking down my fall viewing schedule and discussing what shows we’re all watching this year. (Until then, I highly recommend taking a closer look at what new shows you might check out with Heather’s helpful guide.) Today, however, I want to focus on the premieres we’ve been counting down to since May, the beginnings of brand new seasons for our favorite TV shows.

There’s always that one season premiere you’re looking forward to slightly (or not-so-slightly) more than any other. Whether it’s because the season finale set some great things in motion, the show’s been surrounded by cool casting buzz, or your appetite has been whetted by exciting spoilers, we all have to admit that there’s one show whose premiere we wrote in slightly bigger letters on our September calendars.

For me, it’s The Mindy Project.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (8/24 – 8/31)

I apologize for the slight delay with this post. I’ve been enjoying the holiday weekend, and I hope all of you who are celebrating this unofficial end of summer have been enjoying yourselves, too! 

An entertaining—if very unimaginative—Emmy telecast began this week in television. The week continued with a “dramatic” two-part episode of Bachelor in Paradise that featured way too many people falling in love way too fast, an emotional breakdown in the middle of the jungle, and even a trip to the hospital. Wednesday’s So You Think You Can Dance performance finale was quite possibly the most entertaining episode of the season. And the Labor Day holiday weekend featured plenty of marathons of both TV shows and movies to keep viewers thoroughly entertained as they enjoyed their days off. 

While part me thinks I should choose Billy Crystal’s incredibly personal and moving tribute to Robin Williams at the Emmys as the best thing I saw on television this week, I decided to go in a bit lighter direction. August has been a heavy and often sad month on a lot of levels, so it was nice to leave this month with a smile brought to me via the SYTYCD stage. I’ve said probably too much already about the brilliance of Zack and Aaron’s “Piano Man” tap duet, but I could talk about it for days and never be able to fully express how happy it made me to watch (and re-watch…and re-watch…). Dance has always been my greatest source of happiness when other areas of my life have been stressful or sad. So it was a beautiful thing to see that happiness brought to such a large audience with the pure, easy joy of this tap routine. 

Thanks, Aaron, Zack, and Anthony Morigerato, for this lovely dose of instant happiness that we can all turn to whenever we need to smile. 

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

TV Time: SYTYCD Season 11 “Top 4 Perform”

What a time to be a fan of great dancing. Last night’s So You Think You Can Dance finale felt like a true celebration of dance—from the lack of eliminations to the adorable final moments of camaraderie at the end of the episode. Even with so many routines, each dancer managed to keep their energy impressively high, and they actually seemed to get stronger as the night went on (maybe the presence of the All Stars helped). In doing so, they produced my favorite Final Four night of routines in quite some time. However, that might just because of all the tapping.

Yes, this week was a great week to be a tapper or even just a tap enthusiast. Having one of my all-time favorites, Aaron, back as an All Star was the icing on the cake that was this week’s joyful explosion of tap. As someone who spent years wishing this show would throw even the tiniest of crumbs of attention towards tappers, this episode was a feast. Each of the duets and solos showcased not just how technically difficult tap is as style but also how much fun it is to watch and to dance. If nothing else, I hope this finale inspired some little kid to try their first tap class because they want to be like Aaron, Valerie, or Zack.

More tap love to come later on in this recap. For now, let’s get to the rest of the dances!

Top Four Routine
When Travis Wall is at his best, there is nobody better. And this was Travis at his best. No dance this season moved me with its message like this one did, and that that’s because we weren’t told ahead of time that we were supposed to be moved by it. We could interpret it however we wanted to, and I chose to interpret it as an ode to marriage equality. The story unfolded through the choreography in such a beautiful, gentle way, with gorgeous contemporary partnering between both girls and both guys. Ultimately, I think the guys caught my eye a little more than the girls did because of their total commitment to every emotional facet of this piece, but that final image—with the two guys and two girls holding hands before joining to form one unified line—was so powerful and inspiring and joyful that I forgot for a second that this was still a competition at all.

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