TV Time: Once Upon a Time 6.01

Welcome back, fellow Oncers! I can’t wait to spend another season discussing all the fairytale fun and feelings with you, so don’t hesitate to jump in and start a conversation in the comments. Just remember, we like to keep things as positive and respectful as we can here at NGN!

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Source: ibtimes.com

Title The Savior

Two-Sentence Summary As Hyde and the others from the Land of Untold Stories arrive in Storybrooke, Emma struggles with side effects of being a Savior, including visions of her death. Meanwhile, Rumplestiltskin attempts to wake Belle, and Regina tries to work through her grief after losing Robin.

Favorite Line “I choose to believe that this story will have a better ending.” (Regina)

My Thoughts If Once Upon a Time has taught us anything, it’s this: We have the power to choose how our stories end. We have the power to push back against the forces that try to tell us what our story will be. And that power comes from belief—belief in our own strength, belief in those who love us and want to help us, and belief that light and love is stronger than fear and darkness.

In “The Savior,” that lesson—that the only way we can get a happy ending is by believing we can have a happy ending—was at the center of its three main storylines: Rumplestiltskin’s quest to wake Belle, Regina’s difficulty working through her grief, and Emma’s discovery of her decidedly unhappy fate.

Like most Once Upon a Time season premieres, this one spent a fair amount of time setting up conflicts for this season. However, it also featured a surprising number of emotional moments for a season premiere, especially for a show that tends to favor plot over prolonged character beats. The return to a Storybrooke setting certainly helped: Less world building means more time can be spent on the characters and relationships we already know and love. And it seems that this season is going to explore the benefits of characters actually dealing with what has happened to them in a healthy way, which is a wonderfully realistic approach to emotional health for a story about fairytale characters.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/18 – 9/25)

The fall 2016 television season kicked into high gear this week, starting with Sunday’s Emmy Awards, which featured some nice surprises (Tatiana Maslany) and beautifully sincere speeches (Jeffrey Tambor, Sterling K. Brown, Sarah Paulson, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus). On Monday, Dancing with the Stars gave us “TV Night,” and little did we all know how empty our lives had been before we saw Laurie Hernandez dancing to the theme from DuckTales. Also on Monday (and Thursday), The Good Place proved to be the smart, funny, and emotionally engaging comedy I was hoping it would be. On Tuesday, Brooklyn Nine-Nine returned with a hilarious look at Jake and Captain Holt’s life in the Witness Protection Program; New Girl reminded me why I fell in love with the show years ago, thanks to a stellar season premiere; and the pilot of This Is Us lived up to every expectation I had for it. Wednesday’s ABC comedies were all excellent, with a perfect Breakfast Club tribute on The Goldbergs; a fantastic pilot episode of Speechless; an entertaining return for Modern Family; and a fun Walt Disney World trip on black-ish. On Thursday, the pilot of Pitch showed enough heart, style, and substance to hook me from the start. And Friday’s episode of Girl Meets World reminded us all of a very important lesson: You can’t control every aspect of your life; you can only control how you react to what happens in your life.

Overall, this was the best week of television I’ve watched in a very long time. I wasn’t disappointed with anything I watched, which is impressive because I often have unrealistically high expectations for premieres and pilots. I enjoyed every minute of television I watched this week, and I watched many minutes of television.

Grouped together, I loved the three big twists that new shows served up this week, which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone given how much I love when television shows can still pleasantly surprise me.

SPOILERS FOR THE GOOD PLACE, THIS IS US, AND PITCH AHEAD!

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week (9/11 – 9/18)

Welcome back, fellow TV addicts; I hope you had a wonderful summer! Now that the fall television season is upon us, it’s time for the return of our weekly breakdown of the best television moments! 

This was a warmup week in the world of television before things return to normal in the coming days (and weeks). However, even with a short list of shows airing new episodes, there were still some standout moments. Sunday saw the return of NFL games for most teams, which is either the best news ever or cause for another year of disappointment. (Can you tell I’m a Buffalo Bills fan?) On Monday, the new season of Dancing with the Stars premiered with some unexpected drama (protestors charging at Ryan Lochte on live TV) and some fantastic dancing. (Let’s just give Laurie Hernandez the Mirror Ball trophy now; she’s that good—and that much fun to watch.) Wednesday’s season finale of Suits was one of the show’s best episodes in recent memory, reminding us all why Jessica Pearson (and Gina Torres, by extension) is the queen of all she surveys only the break our hearts with her departure in its closing moments. Finally, Friday’s new episode of Girl Meets World touched on some incredibly deep and painful topics (the Holocaust, slavery) while never losing sight of the good in the world as shown through friendship, the diversity that makes America beautiful, and the belief that human connection—being part of something—is something to treasure and respect.

This is a week earlier than I’d planned to bring these posts back, but as soon as I watched the Suits finale, I knew I had to write about it. In a season where I found myself bored more often than usual (I actually missed a few episodes and discovered I didn’t really miss anything plot-wise.), Jessica was still a highlight every time she was on screen. And this finale—with its tight focus on Jessica and her backstory—was the finest episode of the season and one of my favorite episodes of the whole series. Watching Jessica own a courtroom was something I’d always wanted to see, and when Torres was given the chance to show this side of her character, she didn’t disappoint. But it was the way show peeled back Jessica’s layers to reveal her motivation behind what she did in that courtroom that really resonated with me.

Jessica Pearson’s father sacrificed his family at the altar of his career, but he believed he was doing something for the greater good. And even though Jessica chose a different career path (law instead of medicine), she did so as a young woman believing she would also serve the greater good. She became a lawyer to help people, but somewhere along the way, the relentless pursuit of power and prestige blinded her to the reason why she became a lawyer in the first place.Like her father before her, she chose her career over personal relationships, but her career choices didn’t offer her much comfort in the end. She’d stopped helping people who needed help and instead became so focused on protecting her firm that she lost her way. And that’s easy to do as a woman in a position of power (and probably even easier as a woman of color in that position, but that’s an experience I can’t personally speak to). You have to work so hard for the smallest victories that it becomes easy to lose yourself and your ideals in the fight to protect what you’ve earned.

But this death row case helped Jessica find herself again. It allowed her to reconnect with the young woman she once was, and in doing so, she learned a scary truth: She didn’t want to keep living the life she’d been living. She wanted to be better; she wanted to be happy. It was clear in the scene in which she told Harvey and Louis she was leaving: Jessica couldn’t keep fighting these battles to protect the firm; it was crushing her spirit. She’d fought for so long, but what was it all for? And as such, she chose to walk away from the firm she’d sacrificed so many things to protect.

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2016 Emmy Awards

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Audience

(Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The 2016 Emmy Awards are upon us, and this is the first year in my Emmy-viewing history (which extends back to my early high school years when I first felt the bitter sting of disappointment every time Alias didn’t win) that I have a rooting interest in nearly every category. Although I’m still frustrated by some of this year’s snubs and the overall lack of pleasant surprises among the nominees, it’s nice to see some of my favorites from the world of television with a fighting chance to take home an award this year.

The Emmys give us a chance to celebrate television while eating pizza on our couch and freaking out every time our favorites are shown in the audience (or is that just me?), so no matter how annoyed I get about nominees and winners, I watch them with rabid enthusiasm every year. And you can join in the rabidly enthusiastic fun on Twitter, where I’ll start live-tweeting with my reactions to the red carpet coverage at 6 p.m. EST!

Without further ado, here are my picks for who I think will win each of the night’s major awards (except Outstanding Television Movie because I didn’t see any of the nominees) and who I wish would win. Don’t forget to share your hopes and your predictions for this year’s Emmys in the comments!

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick and My Wish: The Americans
My Thoughts: I’ll be honest with all of you; I really think Game of Thrones has the best chance to win this award. But I can’t pick against what I consider the best show on television when it has finally found itself in this position. And if Emmy voters want to go in a different direction since Game of Thrones won last year (which isn’t likely, but it could happen), then I think The Americans is in a prime position to move to the front of the pack. This season was universally loved by critics and fans; it has more buzz around it than ever before; and it nicely fills the “20th century American dramatic period piece” void left behind by Mad Men. The Americans is simply a brilliant piece of television and has been for years, and it’s time Emmy voters took notice.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Veep
My Wish: black-ish
My Thoughts: I don’t think any show is going to upend Veep’s reign of dominance, especially considering the plethora of other awards it’s nominated for. However, I’d love to see black-ish shock everyone with a win in this category. It had a stellar sophomore season that tackled important issues with honesty and heartfelt emotion (“Hope” was one of the most profound episodes of television in all of 2016.) while never losing its sharp sense of humor.

Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick and My Wish: The People v. O.J. Simpson
My Thoughts: The People v. O.J. Simpson could have gone wrong in so many ways, but somehow it ended up being a true triumph. It managed to take an event analyzed for more than a decade by legal experts and everyday Americans and open our eyes to the humanity that got lost in the media circus. That focus on the personal stories of the people on both sides of the trial allowed its stellar cast to shine, and its strong ensemble work and surprisingly deep and nuanced tone is what will help it emerge victorious.

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What Are You Watching? Fall 2016 Edition

To me, fall has always felt like a season of new beginnings—from first days of school to season premieres of favorite television shows. The long hiatuses are finally over, and we can finally reconnect with our favorite stories and characters as if they were friends from school we’d missed during summer break. And there’s always the hope that a new show will come in to steal your heart just like a cute new kid walking in to your homeroom on the first day of class.

This is now my fifth of breaking down my list of must-watch season and series premieres to share with all of you, and it has continued to bring me joy year after year. This is NGN’s longest running feature, and I think it’s had staying power because it’s filled with the one thing that has kept this site going since the beginning: excitement. It’s been fun to see how this list has changed (and grown!) over the years, with shows that are now some of my favorites showing up as pilots I wanted to check out back when I first started this list. This year—with many of my favorite shows saying their goodbyes in the last couple of years and others not starting until the winter—I have a large number of new pilots I want to watch, and I’m hopeful that at least one of those will join the ranks of Nashville, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and black-ish as shows that started as possibilities on this list and have since stuck around on it for years.

To kick off our fifth TV season at NGN, here are the shows I’ll be watching this year, along with their season or series premiere dates. This doesn’t include reality TV shows like Dancing with the Stars or variety shows like Saturday Night Live. New pilots I’ll be checking out will be highlighted in pink. And don’t forget to share what you’ll be watching this season in the comments!

MONDAYS
Jane the Virgin (9 p.m. on The CW)
This show was one of my TV happy places last season. It always felt like coming home when I spent an hour with the Villanueva family. No matter what kind of crazy drama was happening, I always found myself laughing, crying, and often doing both in the same hour. After the intense cliffhanger that ended last season’s finale, I’ve been waiting all summer to see what’s next for Jane, Michael, Petra, and the rest of this amazing cast of characters.
Season Premiere October 17

Conviction (10 p.m. on ABC)
Part of me wants to be angry with this show, since the day it was announced was the day I knew Agent Carter was a goner, but once I saw the trailer, it was love at first sight. Shows featuring complex female characters who learn to let themselves care and become a part of something bigger than themselves are my ultimate weakness, and that’s exactly what this show seems to be about. Add in the fact that its supporting cast includes Merrin Dungey (who I’ve been a fan of for more than a decade) and it stars one of my favorite actors on television (Hayley Atwell), and there is no doubt that this is one of the new shows I’m most looking forward to adding to my viewing schedule.
Series Premiere October 3

Timeless (10 p.m. on NBC)
I have a soft spot for time travel, and the trailer for this show hooked me immediately by including World War II-era scenes, which has always been one of my favorite historical periods. This show seems like it could strike a great balance between action, drama, science fiction, and romance, and that is a winning combination in my book. Also, if the success of this show means the excellent Abigail Spencer won’t show up on Suits anymore to ruin my Donna/Harvery shipper dreams, then that’s even more of a reason to watch it.
Series Premiere October 3

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Fangirl Thursday: Feel the Magic

Henry’s speech about the power of belief and the necessity of magic in the Season Five finale of Once Upon a Time will always be one of my favorite moments in the history of one of my favorite shows. And that is because it touched on something I believe with all my heart: Magic is real. You just have to be open to it in order to experience it.

Kids find magic everywhere—the stars in the night sky, the waves in the ocean, the worlds they create in their own imaginations. But as we get older, we tend to stop looking for magic. We get cynical, and then we start looking for reasons to roll our eyes at others who still see magic around them. We learn facts about the world, and we think that means we need to throw away our sense of wonder because we know how things work now. We become busy, and we put our heads down to get where we think we need to be—losing sight of the places where magic lives.

But that magic is still there. It’s just waiting for us to find it again. And those places where we find it—where we reconnect with what it means to believe—are special. They are places where we are reminded of one beautiful fact: Sometimes even grownups can still be believers.

Belief creates magic. There’s something profoundly magical about a room full of adults who put aside their cynicism and even their logic in order to allow themselves to experience they joy and excitement that can come from the willing suspension of disbelief. I’ve seen it in movie theaters, during plays, and at TV screenings at conventions: the way a group of adults all cheer when something great happens, cry when something emotional happens, or gasp when something surprising happens. Logically, we all know we’re watching actors performing words and actions from a script. But something special happens when you find yourself surrounded by people who let themselves believe the emotional truth of what they’re watching and experiencing: You start to believe, too. And that is the strongest kind of magic there is—the magic that comes from a group of people believing together, even just for a moment. Communal belief. Communal participation in magic.

Everyone has their own special place where that sense of communal belief is at its strongest. For some, it’s a darkened theater the night the latest Harry Potter or Star Wars or Marvel movie premieres, where you get to watch and react with other fans who find the same magic on the big screen. For others, it’s a stadium or an arena, where sitting in your seat just the right way or cheering at just the right time or saying a prayer right before overtime actually feels like it might make a difference.

For me, it’s Walt Disney World.

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“That Perfect Girl Is Gone”: A Letter to Elsa

This is the latest in my series of letters to inspirational female characters that will be compiled in a book alongside letters from my fellow fangirls and fanboys. If you are interested in being part of The Fan Mail Project, I’m still taking submissions on a case-by-case basis, and you can check out all the information here

elsa

Source: frozen.disney.com

Dear Elsa,

You weren’t around when I was growing up. Instead, I had a plethora of Disney princess role models who were all strong and kind and incredible in their own ways. I grew up with Belle teaching me to love books, Jasmine teaching me that I wasn’t a prize to be won, Pocahontas teaching me to follow my heart, and Mulan teaching me that I was just as capable and powerful as any man. I will always be thankful for the lessons they taught me, but a part of me will always wish that I could have grown up with you.

Those princesses were smart and fierce and courageous and…pretty close to perfect. And while it’s wonderful for little girls to grow up with an ideal image of all they can be, it’s also important for them to see that it’s okay to have moments when they’re not perfect princesses, even moments when they hurt people—not because they mean to, but because they are struggling with things that feel beyond their control. It’s important for them to know that every princess (or queen, in your case) is flawed, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make them unlovable or unforgivable; it makes them human.

So thank you for giving a new generation of girls something I didn’t have when I was little—a Disney princess who struggled with something internal rather than external, a Disney princess who lived out the conflict women often struggle with between the perfect image we feel we need to project and the messy reality of who we really are. The biggest fight many of these girls will face in their lives won’t be with some terrible villain; it will be with the darkest parts of themselves. And in you, those girls will see a champion, a symbol of their own ability to accept the parts of themselves they feel they’re supposed to hide and hate—and their ability to turn that acceptance into power.

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The Sky’s the Limit

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Source: cosmopolitan.com

I know I don’t typically write about politics, but NGN has always been a place for me to write about what moves me and inspires me. And, as you’ll see, the following is something I have been passionate about for a long time but nervous to talk about so openly before today. But if any day is a day for a politically active woman to speak what’s on her mind and in her heart, it’s today.

When I was a little girl, my mom used to tell me, “Girls can do anything boys can do.” I’m sure this is a common refrain in many American households, especially ones that are predominantly female. While I took those words to heart as a kid and never let anyone stop me from doing things because of my gender—whether it was graduating top in my high school class or running a sports blog in college—there was one thing I never really dreamed of doing—not even during that stage of childhood where you pretend to have a thousand jobs at once.

I never dreamed of being the president.

Sometimes we have no idea what we can dream of being until we see someone like us achieving it. Some people can believe without seeing, but even from a young age, I was a bit of a Doubting Thomas. I had trouble dreaming without knowing in the back of my mind that there was a chance that—if I worked hard enough and had enough support—my dream could come true.

Sometimes we limit ourselves without even knowing we’re doing it—all because we have never seen the full extent of what is possible.

Last night, I finally saw the full extent of what is possible. And I hope that parents let their little girls (and little boys) stay up past their bedtimes—or watch in the morning—so they could see the full extent of what is possible, too.

Last night, I saw Hillary Clinton accept the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, and in her speech, she said something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about:

When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.

That “highest, hardest glass ceiling” has hung over my head for my entire 27 years on this Earth. And when you’re born under a glass ceiling, sometimes you don’t even know that there is anything for you beyond it. I dream big—I always have—but I never thought to extend those dreams beyond that ceiling, to think of achieving what Hillary did last night.

But from this moment forward, little girls will grow up thinking there is no limit to what they can achieve because of their gender. They will grow up believing that the sky is the limit and that there is a desk waiting for them to sit behind in the Oval Office. They will grow up with footsteps to follow in because a trailblazer named Hillary Clinton made the uneven path smoother with her strides. They will grow up in a world where someone who looks like them and their mothers and their grandmothers can be a major political party’s nominee for president. They will grow up with the fullness of the American dream made visible for them: that someone like them could do amazing things through hard work, a strong support system, and belief in herself.

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Let’s Go: A Letter to the Women of Ghostbusters

This is the latest in my series of letters to inspirational female characters that will be compiled in a book alongside letters from my fellow fangirls and fanboys. If you are interested in being part of The Fan Mail Project, I’m still taking submissions on a case-by-case basis, and you can check out all the information here

ghostbusters

Source: ghostbusters.com

Dear Erin, Abby, Patty, and Hotltzmann,

You made me cry. Normally, this would not be much of a surprise to anyone, but even my intensely emotional self can usually keep it together during action scenes in summer blockbusters. But there you were, battling ghosts, guns blazing, and I couldn’t help it. I thought of the millions of little girls who would watch that scene in the coming days, weeks, and years, and I felt so overwhelmingly grateful for the fact that they will grow up in a world where women like you get to save the day.

A group of girls will grow up with that image—four female friends fighting ghosts without any help from a man and without ever having their looks become the focus instead of their skills—being their introduction to action movies. They’ll grow up with that image stuck in their minds and written onto the fabric of their fangirl hearts, and that’s a kind of power that not even the strongest proton pack can produce.

That’s why all the talk about the four of you “ruining” people’s childhoods was such garbage. You can’t ruin a childhood that already happened. But you can help create a brighter childhood for a new generation of young girls. And that is exactly what you’ve done. Your purpose isn’t to create nostalgia for the past; it’s to create inspiration for the future.

The world you inhabit is a world where women fighting ghosts isn’t seen as a big deal. And that matters. (It’s also sadly far away from the world we actually inhabit.) If they only paid attention to the movie, young girls watching Ghostbusters might not ever think that there’s something atypical about you being heroes, and that’s how it should be. You’re treated as people and not as paragons of feminism or stereotypes of “strong female characters,” and it’s so important for girls to see a world where women aren’t defined by their gender or limited by it. You’re ghostbusters who just happen to be women, and that kind of normalcy in terms of the treatment of female heroes is so rare, which makes it so important.

That doesn’t mean, though, that you aren’t examples of how to overcome common problems women face throughout their lives. So much of your collective story is based on the fact that no one will take you seriously when you talk about what you believe and what you’ve seen. Even when you have proof, what you say makes people uncomfortable, so you’re belittled and ridiculed and painted as delusional. People try to silence you, but you stand your ground. Thank you for being an example of what it means to own your truth in a world that is often uncomfortable with women speaking out about what they know, what they believe, and what they’ve experienced.

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Fangirl Thursday: Emmy Nomination Highs and Lows

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Audience

(Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

For TV fans, few days spark passionate discussion like Emmy Nomination Day. Especially during this time of “Peak TV,” there are so many good shows with so many great performances that the Emmy nominations provide the perfect vehicle to talk about why our favorite shows are deserving of awards—and why those who choose the nominees are either brilliant for agreeing with us or idiots for not seeing genius in the same place we see it.

On most Emmy nomination days, I find myself disappointed and angry about the same actors and shows being nominated year after year, leaving little room for fresh blood—and the shows and performances I love—to make the cut. This year, there is still plenty to be said about the stale taste of some nominations (We’re still nominating Modern Family and Homeland?), but there were more than a few new faces joining the party this time around. And that made today much more exciting than past Emmy Nomination Days. For once, my joy over who made the cut actually outweighs my frustration over who was snubbed.

Of course, that’s not to say there was nothing I would have done differently. There are still actors, shows, and entire networks I feel the Emmys are overlooking. But one very specific set of nominations today proved to me that even if the Emmys ignore a great show and its talented cast at first, they might eventually come around to seeing the light. So don’t lose hope, fellow TV fanatics. Next year might be the year your favorites finally break through.

Without further ado, here are my five favorite Emmy nominations announced today and five things that disappointed me about today’s Emmy news.

THE HIGHS

1. The Americans
FINALLY! It took four seasons, but the Emmys finally invited the best show on television to stand in the spotlight with not just one big nomination but a handful. Last year’s Outstanding Writing nomination was repeated; this time for “Persona Non Grata,” which featured one of the most beautiful and revelatory pieces of TV writing I’ve seen in William’s deathbed speech about the “absence of closeness.” And, of course, Beloved Character Actress Margo Martindale was nominated again. But I was pleasantly surprised to see those nominations joined by Best Actor, Actress, and Drama Series nominations. It’s about time the show itself was praised, but I’m most thrilled about Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell’s nominations. Both have been doing such great work since the show’s pilot, and I’m so happy that they are finally being recognized on the biggest stage for it. I think Russell turned in one of the most incredible season-long performances I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and more than any other category this year, hers is the one I can already feel myself investing the majority of my emotions in.

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