Like most people, I spent my summer evenings binging a lot of Netflix shows including the ever-so popular and possibly unexpected hit, Stranger Things. At first glance I wasn’t sure if this eight episode, sci-fi seeming, show would be my cup of tea but it turned out to be one of my new favorites. Aside from the wonderful acting and intricate story line, I was really drawn to how the character of Eleven was written. Although characterized as a bit odd and at times, frightening, Eleven embodies strength, resilience and extreme loyalty to a group of boys that haven’t yet put their full trust in her. Her bald head signifies fearlessness and when she’s on screen with her male counterparts, she steals the show. About halfway through the series, the boys decide to dress Eleven more like a “girl” with a pink dress and blonde wig. Although she plays along with it, you have the sense that she will not conform and stays true to who she’s been all along.
We learn that Eleven was taken away from her parents or was a lost child (I think). Although she was held captive and tormented by her “Papa,” I feel as though her personality is still very much in line with who she once was and who she continues to be. Eleven doesn’t apologize for who she is and her character teaches us that we shouldn’t either. It’s important to be an individual and to stay true to who we really are. As the meme says, “in a world of 10’s, be an eleven,” and I couldn’t agree more!
Like a lot of people, I tend to get emotionally invested in GOOD TV shows and why shouldn’t I? I cried when Izzy found Denny dead on Grey’s Anatomy. Jumped for joy when Joey finally chose Pacey at the end of Dawson’s Creek. Breathed a sigh of relief when Walter White ended his journey on Breaking Bad. How could moments like these not tug on your heart strings? I must say though, there are not that many quality shows where I make it a mission to watch it in real-time except the one that for the past 4 years has kept me on my couch every Tuesday at 10:00 pm, Sons of Anarchy.
Okay, I’ll be truthful.
I didn’t start watching it until Season 4 but when I did, I was immediately hooked. I even bought my dad the first three seasons on DVD for Christmas and ended up tearing off the plastic just so I could watch them before I started wrapping! Sons has everything you would want in a show; violence, injustice, brotherhood, love, tragedy, brutality, nudity, and a great lead actor in Charlie Hunnam. Sadly, this seven season ride ended last night and although, the episodes were long, sad, scary, and all out tragic, it was surprisingly beautiful to see it end the way it did. I don’t think that I have ever shed a tear of pure amazement for any other show I have ever watched and I’ve watched a lot of shows! So yes, I’m still emotionally invested even though it’s officially over and probably will be for some time. Will I ever be able to look at a carving fork the same way again? Probably not and that’s OK because it will be a constant reminder of what once was on Tuesday nights. Will there be a new show to fill this new void? Well, like any relationship that comes to an end, I’m not emotionally ready yet.
The Departed was on for about the 90th time this month and I couldn’t help but get sucked into watching it. Of all the Boston based movies out there, I’d have to say that it’s one of my all time favorites. It may be the “Dedham Mall” reference (the town I grew up in) or the fact that most of the accents on our point, that keep me tuning back in.
Speaking of the infamous Boston accent, let it be known that it is poorly demonstrated in a number of movies and television shows. Hearing Blake Lively slur “I want a LAWYA” in The Town literally sucked the life out of me. Why are the roles depicting Boston women revolve around drug addition, single motherhood, and little to no education? I believe Lively was even quoted as saying that she slept in her makeup and outfit the night before she had to shoot so she could look more authentic for the part. I’m sorry..WHAT? Granted every city and town have their own mix of citizen high and low but not every female in Boston looks and acts this way. We are among the top universities in the country and have a number of successful women leading the charge in all different areas. Even the 20 somethings are hungrier than ever and don’t need to be half dressed or knocked up to make their money. (May you RIP “Breaking Boston” cancelled after one episode)
In the last few years, there has been a consistent uprising of television and film coming out of this city. Is Boston the newest trend or are we getting set up to be the latest embarrassment, Jersey Shore style? Watching the short lived reality series Southie Rules and Wicked Single made most of the locals skin crawl. At least we have some positive shows to fall back on like Wahlburgers and Boston’s Finest. (Both produced by the Boston based Wahlburgs. Hmmm, interesting!) There are also some great gems like Good Will Hunting, The Fighter, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, and Boondock Saints to name a few. Notice I left out The Perfect Storm? Diane Lane’s butchered accent is actually listed in the top 5 of worst Boston accents in film. I can’t watch that movie anymore..sigh!
To those who have yet to experience the real side of Boston, MA, I highly suggest that you don’t let you $10.50 at the Showcase Cinema be your education. We are more than accents, Bulger, and New Kids On The Block and we don’t need some high priced actress to drop some “wicked’s” to represent who we are.
If you haven’t noticed by some of my postings, I am very much about “girl power.” Maybe it was the influence of the strong women in my family or growing up during a time when females began to emerge and prove that women can do things just as well or better than men. I’ll never forget watching the 1999 Women’s World Cup and Brandi Chastain ripped off her shirt after scoring the winning goal for the U.S. It wasn’t so much received as something sexual but a celebration of accomplishment, strength, and liberation and if men can celebrate that way, why shouldn’t she?
What has been troubling me over the last few weeks is how strong female television characters are being received by some, not all, viewers of highly rated shows. Two characters that enter my mind right away is Skyler White from Breaking Bad and Tara Knowles from Sons of Anarchy, each of whom are married to a “King” of the underworld (Walter: drugs. Jax: guns) Although Breaking Bad had finished it’s run back in September, I am constantly reminded of the power struggle Skyler dealt with when I watch Tara weigh the options of what is right for her children and family. This season of Sons, writer Kurt Sutter kicked deception up a notch when he had Tara fake a miscarriage so she could push away from her husband and put distance between her family and the dangerous life of the motorcycle club. Although I did not agree with the way the character played out this scheme, I still understood the reasoning behind it and why it needed to be so extreme. After the episode aired, social media erupted with a lot hateful and irrational ideas about what should happen to this character. Some included death by the hands of her husband, suicide, and other unworthy demise ideas for Tara, who all along has been the moral compass of SOA. Skyler White’s character experienced the same reaction when she did not agree with her husband’s destructive and dangerous behavior in the drug business, which had a downward spiraling effect on her family.
The reality is, if this was a real situation for any person let alone a woman with a family, most wouldn’t blink an eye over one’s desire to leave this life. Anna Gunn, who played Skyler on Breaking Bad, said it best in a piece she contributed to the New York Times: “Could it be that they can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or “stand by her man”? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up?” Gunn then goes on to describe how she came to terms with the fact the hatred of her character wasn’t about her but the perceptions that some viewers had in regards to females.
To coincide with Gunn’s statement, I think this mind-frame goes beyond wives struggling with power hungry husbands in dangerous worlds. One of my favorite book series, “The Hunger Games,” centers around Katniss Everdeen, a strong girl from a poor district that becomes a symbol of hope and strength during a time of poverty and disarray. When the movie came out, I was excited to see Jennifer Lawrence make this character come alive by climbing trees, shooting arrows, and saving her male counterpart while still looking feminine. Even though most of the online “chatter” agreed with this feeling, there were also messages targeting the way the character looked and even her WEIGHT! Did Anna Gunn hit the nail on the head or what?
As these thoughts continue to dwindle in my mind and I struggle to accept the ignorance of others, I do still have hope that “Hollywood” is moving in the right direction with strong, heroine-type of female characters. Not all may be role models or make the best decisions but they are not June Clever, and dear I say, I’m grateful for that!