English 1102: Television and Feminism

Dr. Casey Alane Wilson • Georgia Institute of Technology

Category: Review Topic 6 Page 1 of 5

Fresh off the Meaning of TV

For my final post, I figured I’d review what I thought the show was trying to tell us overall. I began my blog talking about the themes of the show, and progressed to talk about the role of gender in the show. Because I did these heavy- hitting topics towards the beginning of my blog, I feel that it could be useful to revisit now that I’ve seen more and been able to have a clearer idea of how these review topics have influenced the overall meaning of the show.

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look back at it

The show revolved around central abstracts like feminism, gender roles, family dynamics, and immigration.  The show was first aired in primetime in the slot directly following Modern Family, a telling fact which I missed in earlier reviews. This shows the audience that they were targeting as set up by the viewers of Modern Family and can indicate the style the show follows. Both shows are a little sarcastic, comedic, family-friendly sitcoms with adult twists here and there to keep it interesting for the adult viewers. They are overall family friendly but make a point to revolve around key social issues like homosexual marriage, mixed families, immigration, women’s roles, and more. This pattern holds their target audience and is extended through the show’s presence on the online streaming network Hulu. The show wants to have its audience but make its point too.

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yes, you can be both fully Asian and fully American

Fresh off the Boat normalizes and brings down to earth characters which challenge the norm. The main female lead is very much in control of her family and leads her husband in many ways, being a strong-willed yet feminine and sweet character. The father is an Asian-American immigrant who is pursuing the American Dream. These characters border on satirizing the norms of American culture and bring to light the ‘melting pot’ aspect of American culture in a positive and endearing way. This results in not only a huge following but also a meaningful one which reflects that these ideas will have an effect on mainstream culture with its audience.

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Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – A Children’s Book Formula in Disguise

             Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt follows the expected and successful sitcom formula, but behind all this lies yet another: the children’s book.

Kimmy’s Colorful World

             The show presents itself mostly from the perspective of Kimmy, the main protagonists. Her world is covered in vibrant colors and bright sets. Because the show is mostly from her perspective, the show is able to maintain the optimism and innocence, prevalent characteristics of children’s books, that comes from the perspective of Kimmy. For example, in the first episode, Kimmy is confro

Kimmy’s optimism drives her in her challenges.

nted by several challenges but approaches each innocence and naivety that creates humor reminiscent of children’s books like Amelia Bedelia. The show also tries to veil darker topics with humor. For example, Titus’s repressed sexuality living in the Deep South and Kimmy’s time in trapped in the bunker could both be used as plots to serious, dramatic movies or tv shows. Disguising these topics with humor allow the show to include them without changing the sitcom formula (the happy endings, the “happy-go-lucky” vibe). The same applies to children’s books; darker themes are veiled with euphemisms, metaphors, and humor.

Kimmy’s ten second rule

             In addition, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episodes are didactic in nature. The end of every episode leads to a certain moral or lesson. This formula corresponds with the children’s tales like The Tortoise and the Hare or Hansel and Gretel. When I’m watching the episodes, I’m quite frequently surprised by how applicable some of the lessons are. For example, in episode two, Kimmy tells Jacqueline that she can get through anything if she splits the time into ten seconds, and, in episode five, “Kimmy Kisses a Boy!” Kimmy realizes that she needs to confront her problems instead of ignoring them. The viewers are able to learn vicariously through Kimmy’s experiences like how children are able to learnt through the characters of their books.
             The creators of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt apply to children’s book model to the TV show to  provide the childlike optimism and didacticism in an accessible manner to adults. 

 

An Ode to Greg

Having watched Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, there’s a lot I’ve taken away from the show, and there’s a lot I admire about it. One aspect I really appreciate, and which I’ll focus on in this blog post, is Greg’s character. Throughout season 1, he’s consistently been one of my favorite characters – if not my favorite – and that’s because I think he’s a complex, deep character.

One way this is true is that he’s unapologetically quirky, and yet his importance and relevance to the show aren’t negatively affected in any way because of that. The show is very good about organically incorporating his quirky personality into his interactions with the others, especially Josh and Rebecca. Perhaps the best way his quirkiness comes across is through songs he sings in. In “Settle For Me,” for instance, he’s suave and well-spoken for the most part, but he has moments where his awkwardness dominates the scene. Sometimes, it’s charming and clever:

I know I'm only second place in this game

But like 2% milk, or seitan beef,

I almost taste the same

Other times, it’s more grimace-worthy:

Don't make me feel like a little girl;

Exposed and raw, whose boobs can't even fill a training bra

...Let's pretend I didn't say that

Despite his quirky demeanor, though, Greg is not a character’s that lacking in struggle. He has several legitimate issues to grapple with throughout the show. He wavers on whether he should date Rebecca, which represents the larger problem of people struggling to leave and quit relationships that they know aren’t healthy for them. His parents went through divorce, and his commitment issues due to his fear of being left by the people he loves is proof of how the divorce still affects him. He also struggles with pursuing his dreams; while he was accepted into Emory, he was initially unable to go due to his father’s ailing health. While he eventually is able to attend Emory, this doesn’t change the fact that this was a difficult situation for him, and one of his solo songs – “What’ll It Be?” – does a great job of portraying his resentment and fear over the situation and whether he’ll ever be able to leave to go pursue his dreams.

In summary, I think Greg is a very dynamic character. He has a lightness and darkness to him that makes him a very realistic-seeming character, and it’s in large part because of this duality to him that he’s stood out as a highlight of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Works Cited:

“Settle For Me,” Genius, https://genius.com/Crazy-ex-girlfriend-cast-settle-for-me-lyrics

The Show Awakens Your Intentions

One of the biggest struggles of narrators in the movie industry today is when to reveal the hidden intentions of characters in order to catalyze a plot and reach the peak captivation of a crowd. Westworld writers Lisa Joy and Dominic Mitchell decided to go about this in a pretty intriguing way: Hunger-Games, you-versus-the-world, fend-for-yourself style when they decided to initiate the path for all of the potential revolutionaries in episode five: Contrapasso. Although, the format does take away from the importance of each character like androids Maeve and Dolores or park tourists William or The Man in Black having the separate field of gravity around their eureka moment, it does bring in an interesting dynamic of screenplay of creating suspense at peaks because it allows the three stories that are destined to meet to investigate the parks various aspects to reflect on mankind.

The arguably most important moment of plot development comes with the union of William and Dolores in their search for the release of the androids “at the center of the park”. William, being a loner in the real world, is able to sympathize with the helplessness of Dolores in the park. However, we must value Dolores’s struggle as something more than that of an object, but one which is supposed to destroy the park completely due to the immorality of maltreatment of psuedo-humans solely because of their difference in construction. The bonding which occurs between William and Dolores shows that the bonding between man and machine much like that between bonding between man and animal is true love, regardless of the appearance.

William kissing Dolores signifies the intersection of man’s need for machine to find purpose.

The journeys of Maeve and The Man in Black differ from the sentiment of love in the trade for the seeking of purpose and revenge. The complement of the love story allow the writers to develop a multifaceted turning point in the series by having all of these four revolutionaries confront their battles at the same time because someone like Maeve will figure out who she literally is and her purpose in the park in the same way and outsider like The Man in Black will learn and discover about himself on the path  driven by the greed for an answer to a “game”.  This juxtaposition of life as love versus greed and ambiguity versus clarity forces the viewers to hold all these theme in their mind at once while trying to force them to figure out which narrative has the most value. In the end, the story the viewer ends up choosing to follow the most attentively will speak more volumes about the viewer as a person than the plot lines of the show itself.

Light and Dark: Cinematography of Orange is the New Black

While the first season of Orange is the New Black is generally shot in the drab confines of Litchfield Penitentiary, frequent flashbacks spice up the visuals while providing intriguing backstories to many of the prison’s residents.

The show immediately kicks of with a series of quick cuts from a flashback of Piper enjoying getting clean, ending with a jarring closeup of her which eventually zooms out to reveal the confines of prison. Although the show is pretty much entirely shot in third person, the camera follows a variety of perspectives, some with minimal relation to the protagonist. The scenes generally only contain a few characters, but may start with a zoomed out view of many characters (such as in the mess hall), before focusing on the primary character in the scene.

The confines of prison are generally drab, but relatively well lit. There are several scenes that take place at night or in darker environments, such as in the prison theater or late at night in the dorms. There are also a fair number of romantic and sexual scenes, which are shot with much longer takes than other parts of the show. The solitary confinement is shot with an alternating focus on the inmate and the emptiness of their cell, giving the viewer a sense of that character’s isolation. Overall, there are many scenes with one on one interaction where the camera switches perspectives frequently, such as Piper’s meetings with Larry and Healy.

I believe the frequent cuts of the show serve to demonstrate how quickly change can occur in prison, while the longer shots emphasize individual relationships and emotions. The generally uninteresting background draws more focus on the colorful personality of the characters, who keep the prison from becoming too boring. Overall, the producers of the show did an excellent job keeping their shots in tune with the plot of the story, and using visuals to emphasize characters and emotions.

Below, I have linked an article that goes into much more detail on the equipment used in shooting OITNB.

https://www.creativeplanetnetwork.com/news-features/doing-time-inside-netflix-original-series-orange-new-black-423037

Dutch – The Key of Killjoys

The whole series of KillJoys have revolved around Dutch, D’avin and John each of them with a unique personality affecting the interesting relationships between. In this last blog, I’ll be performing an in-depth analysis of the personalities, actions and backgrounds of Dutch, exploring the implications of her character and the contribution towards the KillJoys series as a whole.

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Dutch

 

Played by actress Hannah John-Kamen, Dutch is one of the first characters we get to know at the beginning of season 1. As the leader of a Killjoys team, Dutch is a bounty hunter of the quad. Being a tough and intelligent character, Dutch has a fun-loving and bold personality. In each of the missions Dutch and her team goes on, we can always see Dutch making quick and decisive decisions. Whether it is fending off an enemy attack or confronting one of the villains, Dutch can often be seen well-thought decisions within a few seconds achieving her strategical goals. However, just like how Dutch’s other side is hidden from us, Dutch herself is protective deep under. Although she is great at gaining trust from others as seen from her ability to temporary pretend to get along with other characters such as Delana and Khlyen, she herself rarely trusts others. Although this presents Dutch’s personality of a protective mentality very well, it also results in the audience to be perplexed.

From the beginning, many of Dutch’s actions have been hard to understand. For example, her indecisiveness in the mission to capture Big Joe and her relationship with Aneela and Alvis. It is only when we as the audience are revealed Dutch’s past – born from a wealthy family, being forced to join a harem, tortured by Khlyen and ending up in the Quad – that we finally start to have a better understanding of some of Dutch’s actions in past episodes. We also begin to understand why Dutch seem to have an upper-class etiquette especially in her interaction with The Nine and the decisions she makes, answering various questions that have arisen throughout.

 

Dutch on the Mission After Big Joe

 

Although this gradual reveal of Dutch’s background and inner self throughout the series added an element of uncertainty and suspense into the plot, it has, on the other hand, hindered the development of the connection between the audience and Dutch and their ability to sympathise with her. Instead audiences, just like me are more likely to sympathise with D’avin instead, who was known early on to have a traumatic past as a soldier and a broken relationship with his brother. Although this does not affect the show’s ability to attract and keep its audience, it does inhibit the show from its goal altering female’s character on TV.

 

「Da’vin and dutch」的圖片搜尋結果

Intermate Relationship between Dutch and D’avin

 

Nonetheless, we should not overlook KillJoys success in portraying a female “superhero” who encompasses the characteristics of a traditional male superhero but supplemented by stereotypical female trait. It also brings out the fact that woman or anyone in general shouldn’t be defined by their past, with determination and staying tough, no dreams are too far to reach.

Corrupted Justice in Jessica Jones

From the beginning of my journey into Jessica Jones’s world back in Season 1 to where I stand now, halfway through Season 2, an aspect that always interested me more than any other, while equally intriguing me, was the law system in the show, more specifically its corruption. Anomalies within the justice system was present in many episodes, such as in the very first, when a married male strip club owner caught having an affair with another woman by Jessica, and issued a subpoena to attend court, still leaves with a verdict of not guilty, to the episode I am on in Season 2 where Jessica and her step-sister Trish are released from prison after falsely being accused of a murder committed by, pretty much, a monster. This constant repetition of false trials and incorrect decisions, in addition to representing the inevitable inconsistencies in the justice system in the real world, especially in a populous city such as New York (the show’s setting), also demonstrate the fact that justice is simply a relative term that can easily be manipulated by people looking to take advantage of its inconsistencies.

Jessica Jones is presented as an ideal example of someone who not only endures a lack of justice provided in the first place given her minority status in the overall population around her (a female with super-powers), but also someone who constantly has to endure the consistently manipulated justice. From the reaction of passersby whenever Jessica reveals a snippet of her superhuman strength to the reaction of the jury whenever her super-powers came into picture in the court, which she has visited plenty of times due to falsely being accused of crimes, it is obvious that the society dislikes anyone with such abnormalities, even if they have them without their consent, as is the case for Jessica as she was experimented upon as a child. In addition, she has also witnessed several instances of people using this flimsy justice system to their advantage, a prime example being Kilgrave, who, as Jessica herself has recalled several times, has raped her, forced her to kill someone, and provided her with a strong case of PTSD because of those reasons and his mind-controlling abilities, all without suffering any consequences. Jessica, however, after successfully managing to kill him in the end of Season 1, is sent straight to prison for murdering someone who has tormented her and several other lives.

Finally, as it can be seen by the instances above, Jessica Jones has made many more visits to courts than any male character in the show, including her neighbor Malcolm, who has been present with her following many of the murders (although to help her most of the time) and still remained unquestioned by the police. This trend can therefore relate the justice system in the show to gender axes as well, making the law system in the show that much more corrupted but still interesting to discover more corruption of.

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“One, keep denying it…”

Who/What is normal?

For the fifth and the last Blog Entry, I am focusing on the writing of the “Normal”, the twentieth episode of season 1 of New Girl. It was written by Luvh Rakhe. He also wrote It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005) and A.P Bio (2018).

In this episode Jess brings her boyfriend Russell to the loft to meet her roommates. Her roommates and her boyfriend were awkward at first but then after talking for a while, they started bonding while playing True American, a drinking game. The next morning, Nick accidentally hurts Russell with the prototype of his idea for real apps. Russell leaves the house and Jess becomes disappointed.

The dialogue here is mainly the conversations between the characters. There is not much of a self-talk. This is important because it allows the viewers to make interpretation on the feelings of each characters and analyze it by themselves.

There were external references when Jess says act cool to her roommates. They think of what cool means to each of them and what they would do when Russell is in their house. After a couple of minutes, Jess says to them to act normal. The silences in this episode is to move from one scene to another. It is also used right before they started True American. This increased the tension of the game.

Jess, her roommates, and Russell playing True American.

I believe this episode stands out because it has a good sequence of introduction, development, turn and conclusion. At first there is a new person introduced in the relationship between Jess and her roommates. And then they get to know each other by playing True American. There is a turn when Nick accidentally hurts Russell, leading to Jess and Russell fighting and lastly, the conclusion where Jess and Russell make up. I think it is an intriguing way to engage the viewers by increasing the tension between the characters.

Why OITNB is so Popular!

Since its inception, Orange is the New Black has captivated viewers and challenged many stereotypes and generalizations. In fact, it has even received the distinction of being one of the most popular series on Netflix. This can be attributed to the show’s incorporation of certain key elements.

One component that serves the show quite well is its willingness to include secondary characters in major plots. Although this frequently occurs throughout the show, this characteristic does not divert the audience’s attention away from the show’s protagonist, Piper. In the first few episodes of the opening season, Piper engages in a conflict with Red, a character of a lesser role. Throughout this dilemma, several flashbacks of Red are depicted , and she also appears more often in the aforementioned stretch of shows than in latter ones. In like manner, the show gives the audience the opportunity to better comprehend the personalities of such figures. With the amount and variety of secondary characters that are highlighted, the chances of viewers becoming attached to specific characters increases significantly.

In addition to giving supporting figures large platforms, the show also connects the audience to its characters by employing a somewhat diverse cast. Although the show features women heavily, it does make an effort to portray characters belonging to other minority groups. Some of the represented groups include the Hispanic, African American, and the LGBTQIA communities. Through these groups, the show evokes a sense of inclusion for those that identify with them, and thus speaks to a wider range of viewers.

Perhaps, the most instrumental aspect in the show’s success is its use of realistic plots. Often, these plots expound upon occurrences in society that are currently relevant. One particular instance of this is displayed in the storyline where Daya, a female inmate develops an intimate relationship with one of the corrections officers. Although events such as these are rarely discussed, they have become more common in recent years with the rise in prison populations across the country. Additionally, the show addresses the experience that some individuals endure when transitioning into prison for the first time. This is mainly seen through the lens of the featured protagonist Piper, who struggles with this reality in the show’s first season but adjusts to it in subsequent seasons. Lastly, the sentiments and emotions that families go through when a loved one is incarcerated is also displayed, especially with Piper’s family. This is shown effectively during earlier episodes, with some of Piper’s family members, who surround themselves with objects that bring her to their memory.

Piper and her Fiance getting used to seeing each other in a prison setting

For the last few years, Orange is the New Black has cemented its stance within the minds of its followers and even popular culture. The vast number of viewers that Orange is the New Black attracts suggests that there are some components within it that keep people captivated. With the trajectory that Orange is the New Black seems to be on, it is almost inevitable that the show will have a large cult following after its conclusion.

Why the Unrealistic Everything in Grey’s Anatomy Works

Final thoughts, huh?

There is so much wrong with Grey’s Anatomy, but it works. There are so many incidents of events where, in real life, the interns or doctors could have lost their medical license or even been arrested. Patients are given MRIs with metal inside them and wake up right after surgery. Seattle Grace hospital deals with bombs in patients, gunshot wounds, deadly motorcycle races, train crashes, and so much more. Wow, Seattle must be really eventful!

This aside, I had to look for the bad in the show by reading several “15 Facts About” articles. When I watched the show, my only annoyances were small unrealistic hospital details that longtime patients would know. I was so prepared to complain until I realized that this unrealistic yet realistic world works.

At it’s core, Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama, not a documentary. The truth is stretched in favor of conflicts between doctors and nurses, relationship drama, and friend squabbles. The focus of the show is centered on this as well as the medical aspect. Without some of the unrealistic elements in the show, it would be boring. For example, when Meredith Grey punctures a heart during surgery and her mistake is found out, she would have realistically been punished much more severely than she was. However, a clever statement from Dr. Burke, who had left a towel in a patient years ago, saved her. It’s not what would really happen, but his clever vouch for Meredith interests the viewers and provides an unexpected resolution to the episode’s conflict. Plus, how fun would it be if the show lost it’s title character in Season 1?

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RIP Meredith Grey. Almost.

In the end, unless people are in the medical field or experienced patients, little unrealistic things can be easily thrown away for the drama. Who cares if the doctor is present during an MRI if said doctor is considering important relationship decisions? These relationship issues will most likely be an important plot point, not a slightly unrealistic scan.

Rushed: Story in the Sense8 Series Finale

The final episode of Sense8 came early due to the show’s cancellation by Netflix. Soaring costs from filming across the world resulted in a two hour finale in lieu of a third season. The altered format of this episode begs the question, how does this change affect the actual story of the episode? Further, how does the storyline of the show as a whole stack up?

Netflix canceled Sense8 season 3, leading to a two hour series finale released after season 2

From the very beginning, Sense8 has somewhat relied on it’s impressive visuals and unconventional format to support a somewhat underwhelming story. With so many main characters it was difficult for the show to maintain a good pace while giving them appropriate backstories. This becomes very apparent as the show wraps up the final episode. There seems to be a last minute scramble to give characters like Wolfgang and Amanita, whose pasts had largely been glossed over by the show until now.

The result of this is that the show gives us flashbacks to Wolfgang’s childhood, his abusive father, and his eventual death at Wolfgang’s hand. These flashbacks feature many cuts between young Wolfgang and current Wolfgang which serve to further confuse what is an already very confusing part of the episode. The clips are hard to follow and as a viewer I got little more than “Wolfgang had a hard childhood” out of them. The show also decides to take this opportunity to introduce a rape storyline involving Wolfgang’s mother that comes out of nowhere and is not resolved or brought back up. Overall the flashbacks to Wolfgang’s past felt poorly-done and confusing. Similarly, Amanita has a moment on the roof of the apartment in Paris where she shares her dreams of living in Paris with Nomi. The moment is touching but a bit out of the blue, and it only serves to remind us that we know absolutely nothing about Amanita’s past. Furthermore, the show tries to throw in a love interest for Sun at the very last second, bringing back the detective that Sun had fought almost a season ago, and stating that he “missed her like he had never missed anyone before”. The characters are simply underdeveloped.

Speaking of underdeveloped, let’s talk about BPO. The Biological Preservation Organization is the main “bad guy” organization in the show. It is ever-present in the plot, and the characters are constantly battling it, but the viewer knows next to nothing about the organization. Whispers, the most visible face of the organization has no backstory and his motivations are never explained. BPO has some drone/zombie program where they use lobotomized sensates to… well, we never really learn what the point of the program is. The entire organization feels like a really generic enemy with enormous resources and influence but ambiguous motives beyond just being evil.

Among these major issues, there are a slew of minor annoyances. Name-dropping, random characters from past episodes reappearing in the story, new characters being introduced, and the ever-present backstory-cramming. The show’s story suffered heavily from the shortened format of its conclusion.

My Final Farewell Before Being Fresh Off the Blog

Alright, yay! Last blog post! Party time! My journey with Fresh Off the Boat is finally coming to an end. Looking back, I am going to be honest. I did not like the show to begin with, and I still do not like the show now. However, it is a good show. I see that. It is just not my sense of humor, but it is well made and touches on real issues going on in the world today in a subtle way.

However, I feel like it’s only gone downhill. I love analyzing themes in shows and the deeper messages and the commentary on society. All shows do this (even the funny ones), but Fresh Off the Boat has lost its touch. They started the season really strong discussing topics such as stereotypes and gender roles. Now I have no idea what the show is talking about.

I saved my choice blog post topic for last, and I always had the intention of writing about theme for this one because it’s so interesting for me to discuss. But if I’m being honest, it hasn’t been interesting at all in the last few episodes. I watched 3 episodes today (I’m last minute I know) with the hopes of something worth talking about coming up and I got nothing.

The first episode I watched was about a gay man who came to visit who thought he had dated Louis Huang and had dated Jessica Huang as a cover for his sexuality. There’s nothing there so I try to search for some significant theme in the Huang family children. Eddie is unable to think of a science fair project, so he tries to get infected by his brothers’ chicken pox to avoid working and fails. In the end he learned so much about chicken pox by accident that he did his project on that with the help of his brothers. So, yay for comradery, but what’s the message. Learn about things you are passionate about? Even though he doesn’t actually care, and it was a ploy to do his work?

This is the Wham Halloween costume of Louis and the visiting college friend. It was too good to not include.

Fresh Off the Boat is doing good things in terms of putting a spotlight on important topics, but I don’t think that just because a show is lost in the middle of the season it should give up on delivering an important message. The writers don’t even have to come up with new themes and messages every episode – just thread the same ones throughout the entirety of the show. But, hey, I have to cut them some slack; I am basing this off of half of their first season. Maybe there’s more to discover if I keep watching?

Getting Fresh on the Boat

For this free blog post, I am going to evaluate how Fresh Off the Boat deals with issues regarding sexual harassment because this episode revolves around sexual harassment.

Eddie, who is Asian, is often excluded from things at school by the other kids. He is finally invited to a sleepover when the other kids heard about he touched the butt of an attractive woman (without her permission). At the sleepover, they plan on looking at a dirty magazine. Eddie, when he is unable to go to the sleepover because his mom wants him to have it at their house, tells the boys that he has a dirty movie. This instance shows how women are sexualized very early on by boys. Their social status revolves around their ability to do so. When Eddie is unable to steal a dirty movie, he ends up asking a girl to film her while she washes a car. This is another instance where he sexual harasses a girl in order for social status. Instead he uses a sexual harassment video that his parents use for the restaurant as a dirty video. This starts a sexual harassment epidemic at school. The principle calls in Eddie’s parents to tell them that they need to have a talk with their son. Without proper education children can have wrong ideas about what sex, consent, and sexual harassment is exactly. The only thing his dad told him that was educational was that he need to “wrap it up”. His mom then wanted to make sure he understand that rape is wrong.

While Eddie struggles with trying to climb the social ladder, his parents deal with how to have a sexual harassment seminar at work. When Jessica first tries to have the seminar, she insults and sexually harasses the employees at the restaurant instead by objectifying the women and giving examples of dirty jokes which leave people offended.

Jessica and her Dirty Jokes

Overall this episode did carry a message about sexual harassment, but not quite as educational as one might assume. Their attempt at a sexual harassment seminar was one similar to what Michael Scott might do on the Office.

Cinematic Crash

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Image of the plane crash from Scandal S1E

Good evening, people. I am signing on just one more time. In my last blog post, I plan to revisit cinematic elements in the Scandal show, but in episode 5, “Crash and Burn”. The cinematographers capitalize on portions of the show where characters face tragedy and crises. Specifically, the cinematographic tactics used when Olivia and her team see the plane crash site and when they listen to the black box recording of the crash.

This episode begins with the disappearance of Pope and Associates’ client, Amanda Tanner. The team goes into a frenzy and cameras switch quickly between their faces as they scramble around. The show then suddenly cuts to Quinn and Harrison stumbling down a hillside to discover the horror of a deadly plane crash. The cameras flash horrific images of burned plane pieces, smoking fabrics, scattered clothes, and even dismembered body parts. Then, it pans back to the shocked faces of Quinn and Harrison. Dramatic music plays in the background and there is a grim filter on the lens as it blinks between these somber pictures. I believe Rhimes and her directors wanted Scandal viewers to feel the gravity of the situation just as Quinn and Harrison were experiencing. Olivia and her client, the husband of the plane’s pilot, visit the site later, and the somber mood is amplified by the client’s explanation that the red flags symbolized parts of passengers bodies. The cameras then proceed to pan around the crash site to demonstrate the hundreds of red flags scattered throughout the smothering plane pieces and all along the ground.

However, I think the most cinematographically intense scene occurs when Olivia and her team must listen to the black box recording of the crash. The pilots start out just conversing between each other in a friendly manner and the camera remains zoomed out at a long distance from the team while they listen. But, as the action picks up and the crewmembers become increasingly stressed, the camera starts focusing in closely on the facial expressions of Olivia’s team. Eventually, the camera starts cutting faster and faster between their horrified faces as the recording on the box intensifies. Finally, after all this action has built up, the camera stops on Olivia’s face, which fills the entire frame, at the exact moment that the plane crashes and the audio cuts out. Thus, viewers are left with her intense look filling the screen and it is completely silent. This very dramatic sequence of cinematographic elements increases the heart rate and suspense of viewers as they watch and listen carefully to this scene, just as the team’s heart rate and suspense rose when they listened to the black box recording.

Therefore, I believe in this episode of Scandal,  the cinematographers desire to use their filmographic art to connect the viewers to the emotions and experiences of Olivia and her team.

How to Avoid Existentialism

Today, I’m going to take us ALL the way back to the season one finale of Fresh Off the Boat, “So Chineez.” True to the underlying theme of the show, this episode directly addresses the issue of being Chinese in a mostly white community, and losing a grip on one’s identity. This is actually a very deep, existential problem that extends far beyond the realm of one’s culture, but the show keeps it reigned in and lighthearted in nature, true to its genre.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the show takes few things seriously. Cultural identity is one of those things. While it becomes the target of some jokes along the way, most of the discussion, and even the context of the jokes, in the episode is framed in order to tackle this issue and make it more approachable for the average person watching the show. In this episode, Jessica is concerned because she feels that she is letting the boys down by losing her grasp on her heritage and culture and failing to expose them to it. And, true to character, she overreacts and goes overboard trying to get them involved in Chinese culture.

As you could probably guess, this is a struggle that I do not relate to at all. I don’t have any kids (thank goodness) and I’m not culturally isolated by any stretch of the imagination. However, the presentation of this dilemma in the episode really allowed me to feel what it would be like to be in this situation. I definitely had seen the value of preserving one’s culture before, but I was not aware of such a struggle to do that. As such, the show does a good job addressing the issue in a way that gets people involved, but also retaining its voice.

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Jessica doing what she does best: the most

In the end, Louis comes in clutch and saves the day, reminding his wife of all the things they do that keep them plugged in to their roots. The episode ends in a very oddly perfect visual metaphor. The family gets a Florida vanity plate with the plate number “SOCHINEEZ.” I don’t think there would be a better way to represent the meshing of these two cultures.

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The only reason the Huangs aren’t getting into the good place

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