The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: A Terrific Trio

It’s been a while since I’ve written from a dancer’s/choreographer’s perspective on here, and I’ve missed it. Few things in my life bring me more joy than combining my two passions: dance and writing. I knew it was only a matter of time before this season of Dancing with the Stars made its way into one of these posts—it’s been a phenomenal season with one of the most talented and charismatic casts in recent memory. I just needed the perfect routine to inspire me.

And then two Disney Channel boys teamed up with a creative choreographer, and I had no doubt what I was going to write about this week.

I dare you to watch that without dancing in your seat and smiling from ear to ear. It’s impossible. The joy this combination of dancers—Corbin Bleu, Lindsay Arnold, and Jordan Fisher—radiates is infectious, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen people look like they’re having more fun on the Dancing with the Stars dance floor.

I know it’s a weird thing to say, but this routine made me cry the first time I watched it. There’s something moving and magical about watching people having so much fun doing what they love. The joy of performing is something I’ve never been able to accurately describe, so I love those rare moments when I can point to a performance and say, “That’s it. That’s what it feels like.” This was one of those moments. It brought me back to my days as a competitive dancer, stepping onstage to perform a routine you’re 100% confident in with people you love dancing with. Every so often as a dancer, you’re part of a routine you know is special from Day One, and when you know you’re performing it well on the biggest stage, everything about you radiates happiness: your body language, your facial expressions, the sharpness of your movements, your eye contact with your audience…You can tell when a dancer knows they’re on, and I’ve never seen three people on this show as on as these three were in this routine.

I could go on and on about the technical brilliance of this trio—the way Lindsay’s choreography flowed and seamlessly utilized everyone’s strengths, the tricks, the rhythms—but what made this dance were the smiles all three dancers had the whole time. Dancing has always made me happier than anything else—yes, even happier than writing—and it warms my heart whenever I get to see other people find joy in it, too, and project that joy for everyone watching.

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

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: A Romantic Reunion

My love for a good love story is well documented around these parts. And there is no more sweeping love story on television than Jamie and Claire’s epic Outlander romance. Every chapter in their story feels cinematic, so I was thrilled when it was announced that their long-awaited reunion episode, “A. Malcolm,” would be almost feature-length (74 minutes, and I could have watched another 74). Their farewell in last season’s finale was one of my favorite TV moments of 2016, so it was safe to say my expectations for their return to one another were high. But even the (probably too many) hours I spent imagining how the show would depict their famous “print shop” reunion could never have prepared me for how wonderful it would be to see Jamie and Claire—and Sam Hueghan and Caitriona Balfe—together again.

The chemistry between Hueghan and Balfe is something special, and sometimes you have to go without it for a while in order to fully appreciate how much it elevates the already beautiful story they’re telling. “A. Malcolm” asked them to do a lot of heavy lifting—imagine how cheesy some of those lines could have sounded coming from anyone other than Hueghan or how long some of those silent beats could have felt without all the emotions we see so clearly in Balfe’s eyes. And one of the hardest things they had to do in this episode was play this reunion as realistic rather than pure wish-fulfillment. Obviously, both the audience and the characters end up quite satisfied with their return to one another, but it’s not all smooth sailing. There were awkward moments, shy glances, secrets told and some still kept, doubts, anxieties, insecurities, bumped heads, and many other complications that needed to be shown beyond pure relief, joy, and passion, and Balfe and Hueghan gave us a true sense of the roller coaster of emotions these characters were on. It would have been easy to play this reunion as a one-note explosion of passion and longing, but that wouldn’t have felt real. Instead, by infusing this reunion with an honest sense of hesitation, they made it even more beautiful because it was believable.

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The Best Thing I Saw on TV This Week: A Perfect Proposal

It’s finally back! I apologize for the delay, friends, but everyone’s favorite celebration of the best of the week in television has returned here at NGN—and with a slightly new look. Instead of titling it with the days the post will be covering, I’m now leading with a hint at what the choice will be. And as you’ll see as you keep reading, I decided the scrap the little weekly rundown of TV shows to just get to the best of the best. I hope you enjoy—and that you share your favorite moments with us each week in the comments! This has always been one of my favorite features to write and read your responses to here at NGN, so no matter how busy the rest of my life gets, I’m excited to get back to sharing this special part of my Sundays with all of you! 

There’s nothing like a great television proposal.

From Ben and Leslie to Emma and Killian, I’ve written about some beautiful proposals over the years here at NGN, so when another one happened this week on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, there was no way I could keep myself from writing about it.

There was so much to love about “HalloVeen” even before its genuinely surprising ending (everyone joking about Jake in prison, the Tramps, Andre Braugher’s perfect delivery of “This bitch?!,” Jake getting a lot of enjoyment out of Amy being mean to him, Terry eating all those GPS trackers, etc.), but let’s cut to the chase: Jake and Amy got engaged, and it was perfect.

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A Happy Beginning: A (New) Letter to Emma Swan

I know I’ve already written one of these, but so much has happened in both Emma’s journey and mine since I wrote my first letter to her that I needed to write something new. This is also felt like the right way to say goodbye to a character who has meant so much to me. If you’re interested in writing a letter like this one to a female character who’s inspired you, this post has all the details about The Fan Mail Project! And if you’ve already written a letter to Emma (or any other character) but want to change any part of it, you can always send me an edited version at nerdygirlnotes@gmail.com!

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Source: ibtimes.com

Dear Emma,

As I watched you and your husband step toward a portal to return home to live a happy life with your growing family, it hit me…

This might be the last thing I ever write about you.

I’ve written thousands of words about you over some of the most tumultuous years of my 20s, and as I approach this last post, I keep thinking about what could possibly sum up the journey we’ve been on together for more than half a decade.

When I started writing about your story, my entire life changed. I wrote things that reflected parts of myself I never imagined showing to the world. As I wrote about your discovery that there is bravery in vulnerability, I became a more vulnerable writer because I wanted to be brave like you. As I wrote about your story, I began to write my own story.

I found myself as I wrote about you finding yourself.

Needless to say, it’s a little intimidating to think of how I can put all that into a proper tribute. But because you taught me that opening your heart is the most heroic thing you can do, I’m going to try.

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What Are You Watching? Fall 2017 Edition

Even though we’re in the midst of a crazy heat wave here in Western New York, it’s still the official first day of fall. And although I love all the same cliche things about the season as everyone else—the pumpkin spice lattes, the clothes, the apple cider—my favorite thing about fall is that it brings some much-needed renewal to my fangirl soul. My favorite sports (football and hockey) are back, the fall movie season begins with blockbusters mixed in with early Oscar contenders, and, of course, new television shows and seasons are found everywhere you look.

The return of this most wonderful time of the year means the return of our longest-running feature here at NGN. Whether this is your first time visiting this post or your sixth (Time flies when you’re writing about good TV!), very little has changed. Below you’ll find my fall TV viewing schedule with premiere dates (or next episode dates for shows that returned early), times, and networks included to help make your scheduling easier. And as always, new pilots I’m checking out will be highlighted in pink (because of course they will be). I’m also going to stick to scripted shows and leave out reality TV and variety shows because there’s just too many of those to keep track of!

After you finish perusing my picks, tell me what your fall in TV Land looks like in the comments. I always love comparing viewing schedules with my fellow fans!

Monday
The Gifted (9 p.m. on FOX)
The X-Men were my first favorite group of superheroes (I learned all about them from my comics-loving cousins as a kid.), so media about mutants and young people with special powers will always be a kind of catnip for me. For being someone who adores superhero movies, I haven’t found a ride-or-die superhero show yet (especially after The Flash disappointed me in Seasons 2 and 3), so I’m trying a couple of new ones this season and hoping one will stick. This one looks like it has a great cast (Amy Acker!) and an intriguing premise (What happened to the X-Men?), which might finally be enough to satisfy my superhero-loving heart.
Series Premiere October 2

Tuesday
black-ish (9 p.m. on ABC)
This is one of the returning shows I’m most excited about. The way this incredible cast blends humor, real conversations about real issues, and just enough sincerity to tug at your heartstrings is unlike anything else on television, and I can’t wait to see where this next season takes one of my favorite TV families.
Season Premiere October 3

This Is Us (9 p.m. on NBC)
I’ve stocked up on plenty of tissues in preparation for this season premiere. Although I’m ready to put the focus on Jack’s death behind us (the uncertainty surrounding it made me incredibly anxious last season) and I know the show is certainly not, I’m still looking forward to seeing what this incredible cast brings to the table every week. With two-time Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown leading the way, my emotions are certainly going to get a workout.
Season Premiere September 26

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (9:30 p.m. on FOX)
I feel like I start every season of this show wondering how the writers are going to work their way out of the corner they backed their characters into, and they have yet to disappoint me in how they do it. In fact, I have loved every season opener of this show, and I expect this premiere to be no different. The Nine-Nine has been my TV “happy place” for years now, and I’m read to be back there among one of the funniest casts on television and a writing crew who has managed to outdo their own brilliance year after year.
Season Premiere September 26

The Mayor (9:30 p.m. on ABC)
This is the new show I’m most looking forward to trying out this season. First and foremost, my love for Lea Michele and the characters she plays is well-documented around these parts, so even though I still wish she’d return to Broadway, I’m excited to see what she does in this role. But even more than my support of former Glee cast members, what drew me to this show was the heart the trailer showed. This seems like more than a satire; it seems like a show about someone who learns to become a part of something bigger than themselves, which is my favorite kind of story. There’s a real story to be told here about neglected communities, civic engagement, and what it takes to make real change—and I’m hopeful that this show will be brave enough to tell those stories with laughter and love.
Series Premiere October 3

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Nerdy Girl Predicts: The 2017 Emmy Awards

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards - Audience

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

My relationship with the Emmys has always been complicated. I can still feel the bitter sting of teenage years spent waiting for the day Jennifer Garner and Victor Garber would be recognized for their work on Alias, the bitter sting that happened all over again every year Amy Poehler was passed over for Parks and Recreation. Every year, I rant about the unfair snubs (RITA MORENO! THE AMERICANS FOR BEST DRAMA!), and every year I find myself praying for a rule change that says you can only win one time for playing a role.

With all that being said, I can also still feel the joy of young adult years spent watching wins for LOST and Grey’s Anatomy, joy that was echoed last year when The People vs. O.J. Simpson took home so many well-deserved awards. And every year, my anger at certain snubs is balanced out by joy over some pleasant surprises. (I literally leapt off my couch in excitement last year when Kate McKinnon won.)

No matter how you feel about who ultimately ends up with nominations and wins, the Emmys are a night for those of us long-time TV nerds to enjoy getting to see our favorites in the spotlight. It’s a celebration of a medium that has given me so much over the years, and I’ll always be thankful for times when I get to reflect on just how much good TV there is in the world right now.

I love award shows. I love eating pizza on my couch in sweatpants while I look at gorgeous celebrities in designer gowns and tuxedos. I love seeing what clips they choose for nominees and yelling about what I would have chosen instead. And I love making my predictions and sharing them with you.

Below you’ll find my picks for most of the night’s major categories, and I’d love to read yours if you want to share them in the comments! And if you want to get in on the Emmy fun on Twitter, I’ll be live-tweeting the entire evening (including the red carpet) starting at 6 p.m. EST!

Outstanding Drama Series
My Pick: The Handmaid’s Tale
My Thoughts: This is a category that could go in so many different directions depending on what Emmy voters want to honor—buzz (Stranger Things), popularity and bringing strong storytelling back to network TV (This Is Us), complexity (Westworld), beautiful period pieces (The Crown), or unflinching political statements (The Handmaid’s Tale). I might want to change my pick based on how the rest of the evening goes, but I think the timeliness and fearlessness of The Handmaid’s Tale will push it over the edge. And not only is it an important piece of drama in our current political climate, it’s a great television show—plain and simple. Its performances are incredible, its cinematography and direction make every episode feel like a movie, and it did a phenomenal job of adapting a beloved piece of literature into a bold and brilliant drama.

Outstanding Comedy Series
My Pick: Atlanta
My Thoughts: Although I haven’t had enough time to watch Atlanta yet, I can’t see Emmy voters looking past its fresh point of view and smart execution. Everything I’ve heard about the show makes me think it’s a breath of fresh air, and I’m hopeful that Emmy voters will give new voices the praise they’re rightly due this year. Out of the shows I’ve seen, I would be thrilled if black-ish won, but I won’t be upset at all if (and most likely when) Atlanta takes home the victory instead.

Outstanding Limited Series
My Pick: Big Little Lies
My Thoughts: Big Little Lies was the best thing I’ve watched on television so far this year. Every single episode left me breathless, and it struck the perfect balance between making me laugh, making me sob, and making me so physically upset and anxious that I could feel my entire body shaking during certain scenes. The cast was filled with A-list stars bringing their A-games. And what struck me the most while I was watching it—and what I hope Emmy voters recognize—is that this told a story about women as we really are, and that’s not something shown on television very often. These women were trauma survivors and moms and no-nonsense bosses in the boardroom (sometimes all three at one time), women with careers and women who gave up their careers, women who are fierce and flawed and who love and hate deeply. No two women on this show are the same—there are no tropes, stereotypes, or one-note characters among them. Instead, this show aims to go beyond the surface to reveal that every woman has her own story. Big Little Lies is a show about the power of women—women who might be completely different but who will fight like hell for each other when they sense a threat to one of their own—and that focus on telling the truth about the strength of women and the complexity of our relationships with each other made for the most powerful and poignant story told on television in 2017.

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Game of Thrones Season Finale Roundtable: Part 4

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Source: time.com

After a week of fun discussion, it’s time for the conclusion of our Game of Thrones roundtable! For those who need a quick recap, this exciting exercise has featured a collection of supercool fangirls sharing their thoughts on “The Dragon and the Wolf,” with segments dedicated to the Dragon Pit summit, the show’s various relationships, and the best moments and performances.

Now, let’s wrap this thing up and start looking toward the coming winter!

Before we go our separate ways, “The Dragon and the Wolf” ended a season that had everyone talking—even more than usual. What were your feelings on this season and on the way this episode closed it?
Katie: This was the first season of Game of Thrones I’ve watched live from premiere to finale since Season 4, and I was honestly happy that I came back after how this season ended. It had its fair share of bothersome moments (the Arya/Sansa tension, Cersei’s pregnancy, the plot holes and logical flaws in the timeline, the general lack of Brienne), but it also had some incredible moments that will rank among my favorites when the whole show is done (Arya/Brienne sparring, Jon and Daenerys holding hands on the ship, Tyrion and Varys talking about the leaders they’ve served, the first dragon attack on the Lannister forces, etc.). After a lot of thought, I’ve come to appreciate this season as a place-setting season. It got the characters where they needed to be physically and emotionally for the final battles to come, but it didn’t always do so in the most graceful way. However, I do like where most of the characters found themselves at the end of this season in terms of the stories set up for the final six episodes, so as a penultimate season, I think it did its main job—preparing us for the end—really well.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 3

Who’s ready for the next installment of NGN’s Game of Thrones finale roundtable? To recap, I gathered some fellow writers and beloved members of the NGN Family to join me in sharing our feelings on “The Dragon and the Wolf.” In Part 1, we gave our general thoughts on the finale, and in Part 2, we broke down some of the show’s most important dynamics.

Today, it’s time to start playing favorites!

Littlefinger’s death was a huge “OMG!” moment, and this finale was filled with others, too. What moment produced the biggest reaction from you?
Katie: I was spoiled for quite a few of the episode’s biggest moments (because I have no willpower), but I think the part that still managed to genuinely shock me was Bran finally putting his powers to good use and proving that what Sansa said about Littlefinger was true. And even though I knew the Wall was going to come down, actually seeing it happen still made me freak out. There are no spoilers you can read that will accurately prepare you for the visual of the Night King riding an ice dragon and using its flames to bring down something that has been a constant in this universe from the very beginning.

Shauna: Again, I cheated and read spoilers, so nothing here was too much of a shock for me. There were a few little moments that still got to me though—Jaime challenging Cersei to kill him, the undead army emerging from the haunted forest, that first shot of the Night King on the back of the undead dragon, Tormund in danger—I was definitely holding my breath during those scenes.

Maii: For me, it was Littlefinger’s death. I knew it was probably coming, but it still got me so hyped. Just know it’s the scene I’ve rewatched the most from the finale, other than the final Stark Sisters scene, of course.

Runner Up: Theon coming into his own and achieving the point of half Stark/half Greyjoy. It was fantastic and everything that was needed. The way he kept getting up and used what they saw as a weakness to his advantage, culminating in his rebirth in the Greyjoy fashion (baptising himself). Theon was one of the few that had a clear arc in this season and Alfie Allen was just so good. This is the rebirth of Theon Greyjoy (Stark), and I can’t wait to see what Allen has in store for us in the last season.

Heather: Since I was spoiled, nothing really shocked me, but lots of things made me strongly react. The biggest was Sansa and Arya taking down Littlefinger. Not even his death necessarily, but the moments leading up to it with Sansa verbally taking him down with Arya smirking at him. I was so proud of these girls and happy that they would finally be free of the toxic presence Littlefinger had been in their lives for so long. It was taking all of my willpower not to scream at my computer screen (and I didn’t want to miss things), but I did nearly leap of my bed.

Lizzie: I wasn’t spoiled, so yay me! My biggest reaction came at the Jaime/Brienne conversation and also at Jon being so stupidly noble and good, which both made me want to strangle him and hug him. I imagine that’s a good thing, that something so predictable—Jon being honorable—can still get me riled up. Also, the Theon/Jon scene gave me unexpected feels, which I think speaks more to the acting than anything.

Gissane: Yeah, I wasn’t spoiled either, so essentially, a lot surprised me, but other than the scene with Littlefinger, it was definitely the ending. I feel like I had been holding my breath for a solid 10 minutes (seemingly forever) at that point where the dragon brought the Wall down. That was it. It’s the finale that showcases the fact that everything we’ve ever known about Game of Thrones is changing and the end is near.

Dalissa: I didn’t see Littlefinger’s comeuppance coming in the moment it did, especially his death. So it was a definite OMG moment. But the moment that made me hold my breath was when Tyrion calls Cersei’s bluff to have him killed and she doesn’t do it. Peter Dinklage had me convinced he wasn’t getting out of that room alive—Cersei killing off her last Achilles heel. The ending, while spectacular, was anticlimactic for me because frankly, I still wasn’t over pulling the dragon from the water and resurrecting it for the army of the dead. Of all the things for this show, that was one I never saw coming.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 2

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Source: Hindustan Times

Welcome back to our Game of Thrones Season 7 finale roundtable! In Part 1, I assembled some of the most intelligent and passionate fangirls I know to share their thoughts on “The Dragon and the Wolf” as a whole and the Dragon Pit scene specifically. Today, the discussion moves on to some of the show’s core relationships.

Jon revealing that he’d bent the knee to Daenerys was a major part of the Dragon Pit scene, and, of course, that wasn’t the only major moment those two shared in this episode. What did you think of their season arc’s climax (pun totally intended) on the ship? Was it sexy and romantic, or did Bran narrating over it make it weird? And—the eternal question for us fangirls—do you ship it?
Katie: First of all, if you couldn’t tell by my post after “Beyond the Wall,” of course I ship it. I love Jon Snow so much at this point that I will pretty much ship him with anyone, and I can’t deny that he and Daenerys have shown a level of mutual respect and understanding that’s rare in this world between men and women. However, I will admit that I found “Beyond the Wall’s” boat scene to be actually more satisfying than this one (with the exception of the work of art that is Kit Harington’s butt, which was very satisfying…). Don’t get me wrong—there were some lovely beats in that scene, such as the moment they locked eyes and he held her face, which was so romantic it was downright swoon-worthy, and the lovely parallel between Bran saying Jon’s parents were in love just as Daenerys opened the door to Jon, proving that this wasn’t just some passionate tryst; it’s love—potentially (and probably) tragic love, but still love. But that narration was also the thing that made this moment less romantic than I would have liked it to be. It’s not that I cared too much about the reminder that they’re aunt and nephew; I got past that long ago. It’s that using this love scene to also remind us that Jon is going to be revealed as the rightful heir to the Iron Throne made it hard to be fully happy with what was happening when you know things are going to get way more complicated very soon. I just wanted to enjoy a ship sailing (in more ways than one), but the combination of the narration and Tyrion’s very creepy presence near their door made it feel more ominous than I was expecting, which was probably the point, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

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Game of Thrones Season 7 Finale Roundtable: Part 1

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Source: ew.com

Winter has officially come, fellow Game of Thrones fans! As the penultimate season came to a close, we’ve been left with so much to talk about—more than I could ever cover on my own. So I enlisted the help of some amazingly articulate and passionate members of the NGN Family to talk about the finale and the season as a whole. Naturally, we all had so many feelings that one post can’t contain them all, so our entire roundtable discussion will be posted as a series, with the first part available today and a new portion posted every day for the rest of this week.

Today’s segment will cover our general thoughts on the finale and one of its centerpiece scenes: the Dragon Pit.

Without further ado, let the discussion begin!

Let’s start fairly general: What was your overall opinion of this episode? Did you love it, or did it leave you underwhelmed? Did it live up to the incredible amounts of hype surrounding it?
Katie: Although this wasn’t my favorite Game of Thrones finale (That goes to last season’s epic ending.) or my favorite episode of the season (I still can’t stop thinking about “The Spoils of War.”), I still really enjoyed it—and I have come to appreciate it even more as I rewatch certain scenes and see the nuances different actors brought to their time on screen. Overall, it did exactly what a penultimate season finale should do: It set the table and raised the stakes for the final season while still containing some genuinely shocking, compelling, and moving moments of its own.

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