The sexuality that must not be named

This summer as a young woman who belongs to the lgbtq+ community, I decided that it had finally come time for me to delve into Litchfield Prison and watch Orange is the New Black. Revered for its portrayal of lgbtq+ women, issues of race, and the corrupt nature of the prison system- it really did deliver for me. For any readers who may be new to the series, or unsure what it’s about here’s a brief synopsis I’ve written.

Based on the novel by Piper Kerman of her own experiences in women’s prison, OITNB follows Piper Chapman as she turns herself in to Litchfield prison on drug charges. In her 20s Piper’s ex-girlfriend, Alex Vause, ran a international drug smuggling operation that eventually goes south. The warrant for Piper’s arrest is due to those charges, so she and her fiance, Larry, decide its in her best interest to turn herself in before she’s arrested. Season 1 follows Piper’s life as she adjusts to life inside the prison and soon the story expands to encompass other women and their lives before and currently in the prison.

So let’s talk about the distinct words mentioned in that synopsis I provided you. Did you get that? Piper had an ex-girlfriend and a male fiance.

The question I’ve been asking myself since season 1 (and I’m on season 3 right now) is why does Orange is the New Black treat Piper as if Bisexuality doesn’t exist?

Let’s start with how the show opens. Piper is already in prison but allows the show to back track into how she got there. We move from prison to innercity New York and into the domestic life of Piper and Larry. They’re in love, planning their upcoming wedding, and they are a bit quirky but in a sense that provides more backing to the fact that they love each other. There is never a vibe that Piper feels heterosexually pressured into being with Larry. She’s not trying to please her parents by marrying him. She’s not pretending here. Piper is in love with Larry. End of story. Now once it’s discussed more at length, Piper’s past with Alex is brought up and for highly educated people, Piper’s fiance and her best friend (Polly) are kind of…slightly…homophobic about her past relationship.

When you hear homophobic, most people jump to yelling, screaming, violence- but there is a more subtle form of homophobia at play here. Piper’s old feelings about Alex are invalidated because frankly they can’t believe she ever felt anything for a woman when she’s getting married to a man. They turn up their noses, they treat her like it was a poor mistake in judgement, or that it was just her doing what young people do and it meant nothing. Now once we arrive in prison and it becomes clear over the course of season 1, Alex is in prison with her. We see over a series of flashbacks through all seasons just how intimate Piper’s relationship with Alex was. It clearly defies all of the accusations of her friends and family that ‘it was just a phase’. (the oldest response to bisexuality in the book)

But what’s even more frustrating is hearing the phrase “She used to be lesbian” or “She’s gay now”- OITNB has used all of these phrases and more throughout its time. Understandably for other characters there is a sense of poor education, and a lack of care about correct terms which I get, they just label girls into girls as lesbians. But guys…Piper Chapman is NOT a lesbian.

You’re telling me a woman who tried so hard to keep up her relationship with her fiance while in prison, until ultimately they broke up because of her feelings for Alex returning, and then when she’s on furlough she tries to have sex with and is clearly clinging to the sense of home he instilled in her…is lesbian?

No.

I am a bisexual woman. I fall in love with men. I fall in love with women. Not at the same time. Not all at once.

If Piper were a lesbian she would have an out once in prison, to never have to have sex with Larry ever again. So why does she initiate it when she’s home for furlough? Yes Piper is acting out for attention, but no lesbian wants to have sex with a man. That’s common sense.

I understand sexuality is fluid and can change over time, but this isn’t over time. This is back and forth. I see all of these articles and pages “top ten tv bisexuals” Piper is in but Piper also fits into the sad category of “is bisexual but never says it out loud”.

Read here:

Piper says, I like hot girls and I like hot guys

Piper says, Gay is a spectrum 

Piper is number 44 on the list of Bisexual & Lesbian characters

Even this article mentions that other people are frustrated by the lack of bisexual phrasing in OITNB

I think you get the point.

We have an issue when it comes to bisexuality. No one wants to say it or label it. The characters are either straight or gay pertaining to who they’re in love with. That’s just not true. Bisexuality isn’t gay or straight, or 50/50 half and half. It’s a spectrum. I see a common trope of women starting in love with a man and then falling for a woman and suddenly she was gay. But the relationship with the man was loving, it was mutual, it had actual substance. Just like Piper’s with Larry.

We deserve characters to label themselves as bisexual. We deserve them having coming out stories and being un-apologetically themselves. I want Piper to OWN her sexuality. I want her to make a big fuss and claim a nickname for her sexuality, a phrase, a term. I want it to be something she’s proud of. There’s no need to conflict with her current relationships but as a bisexual viewer, I know she’s bi.

I mentioned before about the education level of other members of the prison and how they may not know the term for bisexual. That’s completely valid but it does not apply to Piper. For a character who spends her time often spouting off random knowledge, who would probably win jeopardy, she’s frankly uneducated about sexuality. OITNB overall treats it like there’s just gay and straight. Which is so much further from the truth.

Then to add onto this I began watching behind the scenes videos, interviews, because well I’m a TV nerd do we really need to ask why? I fell in love with the cast and I love the advocacy of the entire group and they really understand the impact they have on television. It’s beautiful. But there’s a twinge inside of me every time I hear Taylor Schilling asked about lesbian sex scenes, and Piper’s lesbian sexuality. Even the cast is under the guise that Piper is straight up gay. I would have liked some back up in my beliefs of Piper’s sexuality but it’s just not there.

It’s irresponsible to make a show be the standard of progressive and to mark on all of these issues and normalize same sex relationships on tv but to fail when discussions of sexuality comes forward. Representation matters, and we deserve representation. Maybe OITNB has missed the mark, missed the opportunity, to define Piper’s sexuality as bi. But that doesn’t mean they can avoid it completely. Bring in another bisexual character. Making Piper claim her sexuality does nothing to her current relationship. It doesn’t threaten it. It doesn’t invalidate it. It simply means that her previous relationship with Larry was true, and her one with Alex was as well.

It’s also frustrating knowing that OITNB isn’t on network TV, so the writers have less constrictions in terms of being afraid of backlash or having to censor themselves for a timeslot. There’s no reason for the erasure of bisexuality and what it encompasses.

Bisexuality isn’t Voldemort. It isn’t the sexuality who must not be named. It’s real. It’s valid. It’s here. I advise creators to get on board and stop polluting media with tropes and interchanging us with lesbians and straight girls who kissed a girl once at a party. We are here. We deserve characters who will actually say the label, and be unafraid of what lays out for them. It’s all about loving and who we love, and we need to see more love and let other members of LGBTQ+ know that who they love is valid.

Piper could have been one of those great characters that did so.

oh and the purple flowers in her poster art reminds me of the bisexual pride flag which is blue purple and pink respectively.

tea: orange bubble milk tea from Quickly

Push one of epi: A look into medical tv series

Anyone who knows me knows one thing. That I’m self proclaimed “medical show trash”. The interest comes from a love of medical series that my mom, who’s worked at hospitals and medical offices since before I was born, and I watched together. This summer I decided to binge two historic medical tv shows, ER and Saint Elsewhere. Two very different shows, but who’s work I can see reflected in current shows.

St Elsewhere really takes a look into doctors personal lives, and brings a sense of identity to the medical community that I argue didn’t really exist before. Doctors in other shows would be white coats with cold personalities that often just were used to scare the character they were treating. With St. Elsewhere we see a surprisingly diverse cast for a show from 1982, with star studded cast such as Denzel Washington and Christina Pickles. I was also interested in not only was there a female doctor, but they did discuss her over working herself to prove her right to be on staff as a doctor and not a nurse. There was a female Asian medical student, and a student that had traveled abroad that didn’t know English. That’s not to say that show didn’t have a problem with racism or sexism, it did through dialogue and story as unfortunately a lot of shows in the 80s and 90s had.

Speaking of the 90s, in 1994 the medical drama ER premiered and I’ve been binging that as well. ER is such essential viewing if you’re interested in creating a drama, or a medical show because it really set off the idea of emergency medicine and how doctors respond to it. It was one of the longest reigning drama shows on US network television with a record 15 seasons, only rivaled by NBC’s Law&Order with 20 seasons, Law & Order SVU at 19 currently going into the 20th, CSI ended at an equal 15, and the current medical drama Grey’s Anatomy which finished season 13 this year and will be going into 14 in the fall.

ER took the concept of bringing human qualities to those in white coats with a different twist than St. Elsewhere, because what is more dramatic than an Emergency department in downtown Chicago? Location is a very big key reason why this show did so well, shooting in local Chicago areas and developing the industry in the city but also because the amount of trauma they saw seemed relevant to the urban legend of Chicago being such a dangerous city. The cast changes as the seasons grow, and while I have just finished season one I can not speak for the diversity or the topics covered through all 15 years but I can talk about the 26 episodes I have seen. As a viewer you’re thrust into the fray without much explanation of who, what, and where- almost like you’re a medical student alongside doe-eyed John Carter who starts his first surgical ER rotation in the first season.

Notable other series I’ve watched and recommend are: NBC’s The Night Shift, canceled Emily Owens MD (on netflix), Black Box (canceled),  Saving Hope( which is a sort of Canadian Grey’s Anatomy that deals with life between death), Private practice, Code Black, Strong Medicine, Chicago Med, and Rosewood.

I think that medical dramas are such a rich environment that really looks at the human condition in such a unique way. There’s this quality about them that writers should strive for, and that’s what’s so beautiful. The best medical dramas to me are not just the white coat doctors trying to save a life, they’re the ones that show you every person’s flaws. If a doctor believes he’s gods gift by saving lives, the intern who just can’t get their confidence up, the kid who followed the family dream and has yet to find our their passion for the art of medicine- all of these characters that exist alongside us in our own civilization.

What a driving force of Grey’s Anatomy was, is the nostalgic feeling of not knowing what you’re doing as an intern. Things got messy personally, and then the patients reflected the personal challenge in the doctors lives. The key for everything is humanity. To show characters as well rounded individuals.

Some TV doctors you see preforming to their best, being messy but saving the day eventually and you say, I don’t want them to save me- but I argue that one of them probably has and you just didn’t know.

I think that the beauty in TV medical shows is that it’s this secret world, you think just happens there but really it doesn’t. You see what makes the news but you don’t know every story of your local ER. It’s magical to think these situations could exist from interns sleeping with their boss and not knowing, to nurses over dosing, irony of neurosurgeons dying from the lack of head CT, or doctors struggling to not become cold and shells of themselves from working so hard. These are human issues. You can sympathize with these amazing casts.

That is what a medical drama should be. You should feel a pull at your heartstrings from the sheer imagination of real people going through this, but also a wonderment of them pulling off the most heroic day of their lives only to wake up and try to outshine it the next day.

Every day heroes. That’s what they all are at their core, and it’s so beautiful to watch them. Medical dramas teach you about medicine, yourself, and what it takes to be a doctor. I’ve learned so much about who I am from the characters I love, and I’ve learned terms, and how to talk myself through injuries, or situations in my life that parallel the screen. You can always learn from TV, never let anyone tell you that you can’t.

So here’s to the tv doctors, the tv surgeons, to the lives saved at St. Elgis, from Seattle Grace to Grey Sloan Memorial, to Cook County, and the lives lost. Thank you for being there. Thank you for being human.

tea: orange zinger celestial tea

 

 

 

TV saved my life last fall

This post is going to be deeply personal for me, I just want to preface. I may cover topics such as implied sexual harassment, and mental health so I want to warn readers that I will try my best as to not be overtly detailed as to cause triggers. But I will let you know I do cover those topics. Also I have omitted names, as well as some other fine details because they’re too sensitive or not in my place to speak of.

So I started my first year of college last year. This drastically impacted me being across the country from home, being in a large city, and being alone from all my friends. It’s no surprise I felt depressed at times, or I struggled with opening myself up to making new friends. But something that really hindered this was my living situation at the time. I’ve opened up to close friends who know exactly what happened as I told them in real time because some of what I witnessed or lived through is quite honestly something so bizarre and unspoken about it could be a tv pilot.

But I do want to say that in that time Television was my solace. I had several moments inside my apartment where I did not feel safe. It was during this time that I sought out using the tv as a distraction. Thing is I would binge 30 Rock, and eventually completed the series last fall because it was all my distracted mind could focus on. That and Grey’s Anatomy. Which I had finished the year before and can basically recite like the back of my hand.

Now when I say I didn’t feel safe in my apartment you have to understand some things.

First, I shared a bedroom and a bunk bed with another girl. I was on the top bunk. She over the time spent in our room was a terrible roommate. And no it wasn’t that she was just loud. There’s really no excuse for doing laundry only twice from August 31st to October 28th. She would let her hamper overflow to the point where she began to leave laundry on her bed, she never put away clean clothes so they laid with the soiled ones, and then it became a large pile that stacked all the way up to our window sill. Once I climbed out of bed and found she had thrown a thong onto my chair. This was not all though of course it couldn’t be.

I told you I wasn’t safe.

See as the laundry accumulated, she had also moved out of our room. She began sleeping in our living room next to the couch on the floor, which she littered with instant noodles and chocolate pudding cups. She did not tell us why.  I, being a shy and timid person, had not really interacted with her much. Through all this she had boyfriend troubles so every few nights we all pitched in and did damage control for her emotionally. So as things progressed she just grew angry and agitated, coming back home from spending the night at her boyfriend’s dorm and slamming the bedroom door as she came in while I ‘slept’ (or pretended to be asleep so she wouldn’t talk to me). Throughout this time she had been coming in and out with her boyfriend through the days and there were a lot of moments where they had sex in the bathroom and we all could hear it. There wasn’t so much of a group text to let us know to leave. I was locked out of my bedroom without my phone once. But then she broke up with this boyfriend. There was a period of time where she would bring home random guys.

There is nothing wrong with a woman having a lot of sexual interaction, but when it puts other girls at risk that’s where it’s a problem. Not only was my roommate putting herself in danger with a stranger, she put us in danger as well. One such time when she was agitated if I remember correctly, I did what any logical person would have done. I went to the room next to mine, closed the door, sat on the floor with my other roommates and I made them watch the Grey’s Anatomy pilot.

Watching the pilot made me feel so at peace in a time where I did not know what was going to happen to me. I think what made such an impact on me was that I was watching characters who didn’t have a firm grasp on life as I did in that moment. They felt lost, they felt unsure of the world they had just stepped foot in and so did I. We felt safe for 43 minutes.

Then the random guys brought alcohol into the mix as well. So the girl I shared a bedroom with would bring men we both did not know home, while intoxicated and underage, and not tell any of us. I guess I slept through a few nights where my other roommate walked some of the men out of the apartment in the middle of the night because this girl was too drunk. So as this was happening I was sleeping.

I can not tell this story without mentioning that she sexually harassed my other roommate while drunk however that story is not mine to tell but I will say my story comes back into this because she and I discussed it a few days after.

I felt guilty over it because that was one night when this girl came home very drunk, crying and she eventually called her mom and she was very loud. It was 11 or 12 at night and I had an 8:30 the next morning so I closed our door, and tried to block out the noise. That was when the harassment occurred and I wish that I hadn’t shut down and knew what to do in the situation but I didn’t.

So the victim and I were talking about what happened and about reporting her when she tells me that the girl had been bragging to her the night before about having sex in her bunk with a random guy while I slept.

I couldn’t sleep for weeks. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t feel safe, my privacy had been violated. The worst part of all of that is that I do not know exactly what occurred and I do not know if I myself was touched by them at any point in time. My sense of self was so out of place from then because I truly do not know. I woke up clothed that is all knew.

We eventually reported her and that was when my other roommate and I began to binge Grey’s Anatomy together because it was something that took our mind off of what was happening. Suddenly we were afraid to come home at times we knew she was there.  The process of deciding to report her and to who was a messy blur. I remember hiding at our starbucks around the corner and then in our lobby until I knew she wasn’t there.

But once it came to the time where the sexual harassment offices got involved I did not report, although my roommate reported and then I went with her to follow up meetings with officials to verify her story with my own. It was because of this that the biggest incident happened.

I was sitting, doing homework on a Thursday afternoon where I didn’t have class. Everyone was having class. Or so I thought. She had been taken into the title ix offices and told of the accusations against her. I got a phone call from her that I stupidly picked up.

I heard “Why are you lying,” and I automatically responded by saying that it wasn’t me filing a claim against her that it was the other roommate and it was confidential so I could not discuss the case with her before hanging up.

I felt my heart racing to the point of I felt faint. My face was blushed, I could feel the heat rising in my cheeks. I had no choice, I didn’t know when she was coming home. I did NOT want to see her. I felt in danger. I closed my laptop. I sent an email to my RA, I told her I didn’t feel safe and I also let my other roommate know. She asked me to come to her room. At this point I felt very weak. My heart was pounding in my ears, I felt the need to pack everything up because every bad thing I could think of raced through my head. What if she came back and broke my camera? My laptop? What if she stole my clothes? What if she…what if she-?

I eventually grabbed my purse and made my way down the hall. I knocked on my RA’s door. While I waited the elevator dinged multiple times, and each time I jumped with panic that it was this girl coming back to our apartment. Once inside my RA’s room she led me to her couch while she went to make a phone call to her adviser to tell her the situation.

I found myself on her couch watching whatever she had turned the TV to.

It was Grey’s Anatomy.

I didn’t touch anything, I didn’t even realize until my heart had slowed down and I heard that voice that made my days so much better.

Grey’s Anatomy actually saved my life. Hearing just the familiar voice of Meredith Grey that I had developed a connection to over 13 seasons actually ended my panic attack. At that moment nothing mattered. I watched for those five minutes before my RA came back in and talked to me. Those five minutes took me away from the emotional hell I had been living in for weeks. It took me to a hospital where I knew everyone’s name, and I didn’t feel at fear for what could happen to me. That’s all that mattered. Grey’s Anatomy made me feel safe. I will always be in debt to Shonda Rhimes, and to the cast, to Ellen Pompeo- for making a show so full of heart that it became the light in my dark.

and to my RA for  having it on. She didn’t know. She was catching up on some studying with it on as background noise when I came to her. TV transcends itself by being such a staple we live on and for me it was such a sign. TV came to me when I needed it the most. I needed it for an escape and it provided that. I don’t know what would have happened had it not been playing when I came over because it was such a terrifying situation. This girl was also bipolar and off her medication and had been for weeks. Her behavior was erratic and extreme which made me fear for my safety a lot and knowing she was angry at me led me to a lot of anxious thoughts.

Now that she’s gone, Grey’s doesn’t leave our TV often. After having binged the entire show my roommate promptly started again. It’s on when we eat, it’s on while we study- it brings peace to us because we had to make our apartment our safe space again. We didn’t move out, she did. But the places where she hurt us were still there.

“When something bad happens there’s always a handful of beautiful things that come out of it “- Ellen Pompeo

I write this because I was just diagnosed with anxiety/depression and I made a promise to myself. If Greys can last this long, why can’t I? Obviously my livelihood does not depend on the show but understanding that I have over 300 options of episodes to calm me down during the worst of times is comforting. It is time that I stop blaming myself, or questioning why this happened to me but to put myself forward to not be prisoner to my anxiety anymore. So what, something bad happened to me but I found beauty in how I was saved.

“What’s broken can be mended, what’s hurt can be healed. No matter how dark it gets, the sun’s gonna rise again”- Meredith Grey.

TV will always be there next year too.

It’ll be there and it’ll be safe.

tea: wildberry zinger 

Coincidence

Life is kind of a series of coincidences. I’ve lived through many of coincidences, and I’ve reflected on them a lot but there’s one that just blew me away.I mean it’s something significant when just days before you officially change your concentration to something, one of your role models breaks the news they’re pursuing it too.

What do I mean by that?

Well, I’ve always kind of separated my interests from career to the point where I don’t actively search out people to idolize with my same exact goals in my career because I don’t want my story to be me trying to be a carbon copy of them. I am my own person under a realm of influence by the people I look up to and interact with. My want to go to ‘film school’ was that I already knew I wanted to create media within the cinematic elements, not because I idolized anyone.

So like let’s fast forward here to my first year of college, and I’m in this TV program because around sophomore year of highschool I realized I don’t want to make movies, I want to make TV. My sort of goal for TV has always been a way to bring stories to screen that made my classmates feel represented. I will always have a young white woman to represent me, I’ve found several. But I had started to realize my friends didn’t watch TV as much as me because they felt disconnected as POC, or lgbtq+ members and so on. Anyway so that’s why I’m in TV. I also, not to brag, have a real skill in it and have had background training starting from a highschool level ( I was broadcast director & won a few film festivals). I made sure to get into a TV program versus a film program because I knew that the specifics would benefit me, but I originally was in a editing concentration. I love editing but my school combined it with a lot of graphic and visual design, which I have played with and learned I don’t enjoy. So time came around and I changed my concentration this year. I had been planning for months. Then the news broke.

 “It took 13 years, but Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo will boldly follow in several of her co-stars’ footsteps when she directs an episode of the ABC medical drama this spring, TVLine has learned.”
Hold up…you’re telling me I changed my concentration just before I learned Ellen Pompeo, someone whom I’ve looked up to for a few years now, and have always dreamed of seeing what her production company does…actually became a director which is what I changed my concentration to?
I changed from an editing concentration to directing/producing concentration.
My mind was made up before I my appointment time with my counselor, so the actual timing is officially after Ellen’s announcement. I was stunned. As a creative person who over analyzes, seeing someone you look up to or idolize and seeing how their creative mind works is honestly a fever dream. There is nothing better than the rush that comes when trying to analyze someone’s work, that you feel so connected to. I’ve never met Ellen, probably never will; but the life that comes from interviews, and from social media influences how I view her work obviously. Fast forward to now and I got to screen the episode at Paley Fest (side note here, many people met the cast at Paley, my seats were in the balcony and security did not allow anyone from those seats down to orchestra where the cast was signing and taking selfies).  I already talked about the episode and it’s meaningful impact to me last post, how I watched with my mother, so I’m going to talk more about directing here.
First off its a beautiful episode and I don’t only want Ellen to continue to direct Grey’s Anatomy, but this only made me more excited for her production company. Not many people know but Ellen has her own production company, Calamity Jane and she’s bought the rights to multiple movies and mini series. As a media person myself I’m so excited to see her career develop, and I think that’s what made me so excited about all of this. I’m very young and going to college for my dreams, but I see that my dreams can come true at any age. I could discuss more but I’ll just mention here about Ellen’s career, that it didn’t start until she was in her 30’s as an actress that when she moved beyond the Law&Order guest star phase into her first movie role, Moonlight Mile. Quickly after that she was cast in Grey’s Anatomy after Shonda Rhimes suggested to Betsy Beers, “Can we get someone like the girl from Moonlight Mile?” to which Betsy replied they could actually get that girl.
For an actress 30 is considered by majority of Hollywood to be too old, and Ellen felt the backlash of that by being cast as a mother, girlfriend, and love interest in several of her other films. She saw that Meredith Grey was more than the idea of someone’s lover, and a very complex character which is why she’s played her for over 13 years now. So Ellen broke that boundary on TV in 2004 when Grey’s first aired but she didn’t stop there. We can’t mention her directing without talking about the numbers. The number of women directors.
I don’t have numbers for television, and I think they are slightly more than the numbers I have for film alone but the statistic that I go to the most is that there’s only 13% of directors that are women.
13%
Shondaland has made progress with this number for years, for example co-star Chandra Wilson, has directed episodes of Grey’s Anatomy herself, as has Debbie Allen who helped coach Ellen Pompeo on her journey to directing. But the reason for me that Ellen’s episode is such a big deal is because she’s much more visible by viewers, known for this role she plays,  and the influence of this one episode is so great. Because it tells her fans, it tells these young girls, that you can do more. Besides acting Ellen’s always been an activist as well, and really put forward the notion that celebrities are real people. It is so easy to knock away all of her big fancy things because she’s very down to earth in the outlets she uses to interact with people. So that combined with directing is basically a show stopper.
There will probably never be a clear way for me to express the joy I feel knowing someone I adore so much, I can sympathize with in terms of struggles job wise but this is me trying.
This is an open letter to Ellen saying you did amazing, you have such a talent you probably had no idea you had, thank you for listening to Debbie when she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Thank you for documenting it over social media, thank you for being so open at Paley Fest about your process, the vulnerability of your story being told, the personal touch that needed to be shared. Thank you for giving a young aspiring director like me hope, and thank you for breaking barriers.
Love Danielle, a TV student with a directing producing concentration.

Sunshine

I want to open this with a foreword, I had the privilege of being a member of the 2017 Paley Fest event featuring the Grey’s Anatomy cast yesterday afternoon. During this event they streamed 13×18, due to air in two weeks, and Ellen Pompeo’s directorial debut. I will try my hardest not to spoil the episode in this post but the overall theme of what was discussed and viewed hit very close to home for me and as such I will be mentioning that. This is your warning now.

My mother had a life change as we transitioned from the 90’s to the 2000s. She had been working at a hospital in the bay area, on night shifts forever. That didn’t change when I was born either. Due to this she missed a lot of pop culture television, for example she didn’t get to watch Friends. She only watched whatever was on in the hospital offices at the time. In 2001, when I was 3 or 4, we moved and then she decided to become a stay at home mom while being a paid “nanny” close personal friends. My mother was taking care of up to 5 kids at once, when only 3 were her own. Throughout this time tv was obviously an educational tool as we grew up.

Let’s talk about how my passion for TV developed from this, since I am a TV major after all. We had a Tivo I remember, and what I would do before elementary school is as I got ready and ate breakfast- this was before I had developed my craving to watch broadcast news-I would watch as much as I could of something we had taped. I also did this with DVDs. I would watch until I finished my breakfast and then got ready, and watched a little bit more because my mom needed to wait for the 2 other kids to be dropped off at our house for carpool. It was a routine of mine, and my mom never found it to be an issue. I mean I was watching children’s programs after all.

My mom was always constantly encouraging me, and watching with me, and taking me to movies too. I have the luck of having a birthday in May, right before summer. Which is when a lot of children’s movies come out, so of course those were my birthday celebrations. Movies! And what’s really special about this is I kind of view it as her making up for the time she didn’t have to enjoy these things before. I’m also very blessed because I’m the only daughter she has. I’m also the youngest. We ‘baby sat’ a little girl as well, but that ended by the time I was about ten. Strangely, although I had become almost a sort of older sister to the little girl we watched over, I still never viewed myself as one.

Now bring this into middle school and suddenly my mom and I could enjoy the same TV shows. I’d say as early as 6th grade I was watching “real” TV with her because, not to be arrogant but I’m always told I’m far more mature for my age than I should be. I’m an old soul, I would watch I Love Lucy with my mom on weekends when I was younger. I didn’t mind that it was in black and white. I had a love for crime dramas as well, simply because I could figure out killer pretty quickly. I started to use TV to boost my curiosity about the world. But thing was I never watched it without my mom. It wasn’t some sort of parental guidance at all, but we clearly enjoyed the same programs, and discussing them.

Summer before freshman year of highschool I remember doing my first real binge watch with my mom. And of course it was the most perfect series to choose from…

We watched Gilmore Girls.

I remember we had gone to the library one day, and I was looking around the CD selection because I had realized I could rip the CDs and put them onto my IPod Shuffle which meant I didn’t have to buy so many songs. I also really liked early 2000s soft rock music, from the likes of Snow Patrol, Five For Fighting, The Fray and so on. My mom was looking at the DVD rack. It had so many options on it. Dawsons Creek, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-files, ER, I’m sure Grey’s Anatomy was there, and Gilmore Girls! We started renting season after season from the library. It was great because my mom came home from work around 3-4 pm, she would make dinner, and then afterwards we would curl up in her bed and just BINGE.

The impact of watching a show with such a strong mother and daughter plot with your own mother is something I truly can’t explain. I felt such a strong connection to Rory Gilmore, because I was not in highschool yet but I had this feeling I would be like her when I was. (That turned out to be true and not true at the same time).Both active readers, dreamers, passion for journalism…so on. The wit and humor of the show was something my own mother and I also shared. That made my year once we completed all 7 seasons. I also felt very accomplished.

I mentioned this in a previous blog post but another notable series my mother and I binged together was Grey’s Anatomy. Which she had always watched. She started with the pilot and stopped after the season 8 finale, which was when she returned to working at a hospital. When I said I wanted to start it she decided it would be fun to rewatch. And it was fun having her beside me watching how I reacted to what she had seen years ago. I remember as we reached season 2, she kept teasing me because she knew the scene with the bulletin board and the panties would happen. Just the guessing game of who, what, why, and when was fun. And again Grey’s in a separate sense is about motherhood as well.

Gilmore Girls is known for it’s portrayal of Rory and Lorelai’s relationship, but also has Lorelai’s strained relationship with her own mother. There is a contrast there. Grey’s has a multitude of contrasts with the motherhood relationships. Watching with my own mother, who adamantly tells me to not put her in a home, and to let her go because she doesn’t want to suffer. While we watch Meredith deal with Ellis in a care home. It’s all this circle. Ironically enough my mom had just started a job where she works with Alzheimer patients as we started the show, which is why she tells me she doesn’t want a care home. She deals with these patients every day.

I connected very personally to Meredith Grey emotionally throughout the course of the series even if I did not have the same circumstances in my life. Of course my mom and I have fought, there’s a lot of things I still don’t tell her but I do have the option to and I suppose this weekend really taught me that I should take advantage of that.

My mom and I loved binging Grey’s so much, and even if we’ve not enjoyed the current seasons so much, we decided to go to Paley Fest together this past weekend. I’m only back from college for a week, because I’m that kid that didn’t go to a local californian college for TV. I attached to the Grey’s cast very closely, and have followed through being a pretty big fan of them because of my attraction to TV. I love to research, I’m a highly curious person. I spent middle school researching everything I could about the Harry Potter Film series, because I wanted to know how they did everything. Same with Grey’s, I researched everything. Then I like to analyze, and I find things that parallel between actors and stories, or what techniques used for scenes and so on.

At Paley Fest my mother and I sat side by side and watched 13×18. Which if you don’t know, is based on Maggie Pierce’s adoptive mother. It’s about their relationship as the nature of her breast cancer changes. It’s a beautiful episode, and was directed by leading lady, Ellen Pompeo. I could spend an entire page talking about the importance to the industry that Ellen directed her own episode, she joins the 13% of Women Directors in Hollywood, and is pushing to break boundaries. People still have the notion that actresses are simply pretty faces, but Ellen Pompeo is a pretty face with a compassionate soul, wisdom beyond her years, insightful mind, and amazing heart. But we need to cut to the chase here. Some background information that Ellen has mentioned in previous interviews is that her own mother died of a prescription drug overdose when she was about 4, almost 5.

As a viewer who thoroughly analyzes everything insanely, I had read this and I was immediately struck because I was like, the Meredith and Ellis storyline in GA is so strong, and you’d think that for an actress to portray that sense of anger and frustration, they had to know what fighting with your mom feels like. But in fact its the opposite. 13×18 has a voiceover about a note Ellis left for Meredith that was incomplete. The sense of being lost in what your mother wants for you, or wants to let you know is seen through the episode, and I can only assume that brings back to Ellen’s loss of a mother. I really don’t want to spoil the episode for anyone but I am so glad I watched this episode with my mother. I wouldn’t trade it for anything to know she’s right beside me.

Another moment that stood out for me and personally touched me was when the q&a started for the episode. It was emotional, almost everyone had wet eyes. Kelly McCreary was crying during her section of the panel. And again Ellen directly addresses the loss of her mother while discussing her direction of the episode. One particular scene, which I as a TV major adored so much because of the use of color theory and emotion conveyed through the simple set design, Ellen explained that she used yellows and oranges to represent sunshine. She associates sunshine with every mother and that warmth you get from the sun, is a mothers warmth.Obviously this painted a picture to me of Ellen seeing her own mother reflected in the warmth of the sun rays. It was very moving to watch, listen to, and feel with my own mother beside me.

The whole idea is that you have only so many moments and to live life the best you can, without worrying too far ahead and loose what’s in front of you. Living my life to the fullest is a little drab, but its warm and cozy curled up binge watching television with my mother. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Photo Mar 19, 12 22 50 PM

Actors are not their characters except when they are

You know the phrase. You know that actors are simply acting as their characters. Nothing more nothing less. Actors well they act. It’s simply their profession. This phrase is very handy in dealing with actors who are playing villainous roles and not quite the most amazing human beings. You write off what they’re doing as a character and make sure that crazy internet stalkers can distinguish them as a real person.

Acting is a real and true profession one of which I respect with my whole heart and it is actors that have had a great and profound influence on my life. But that’s just it right there. Actors have influenced me, and so have their characters. I think we need to discuss that while actors are not their entire characters, in situations such as TV especially, an actor is our first experience of a character.

What I mean by this is obviously characters are the sum of their writing but each actor has their own flare and style, yes? So you take that style and apply it to a character and thus you get what culture perceives as what character was written. Little bits and pieces of an actor are sprinkled through out each character. Which is why I really don’t like to ‘separate’ them so much more as fluently understand who the writer wanted portrayed and what really comes through in an actor. I don’t believe seeing portions of themselves in a character is bad acting because I think some people can only play a role if they’ve experienced a said feeling.

It’s fun to see an actor’s quirks and how they bring those to the table, or nevertheless hid them from the table. I believe in strong characters coming from strong actors. Or if they haven’t been in that emotional situation then they can empathize with it and that’s what’s very important. Empathy.

Empathy is a wonderful thing and I don’t think we have as much of it as we once did. Empathy towards actors is also important. I don’t want to go on too long about it but we have to treat actors as they are. Human. That’s simply it and have empathy for them despite their lifestyle. Behind every ‘rich’ person there is a person who’s dedicated to their craft and we should treat with respect as we would a coworker or friend.

Sometimes actors can be their characters, they can feel them so deeply and be so moved that they sign on for that very reason. Are they always exactly their characters? No. And don’t expect them to be throwing every ounce of themselves behind someone who’s a polar opposite on them. Just simply watch and see, let them show you who they are and who they play. Sometimes its not what you expect.

Just like life

This is a follow up I suppose. My last post was all about how my life restarted as the snow fell across Chicago, which by the way has become a winter hell vortex. And now?  My school semester has ended. I survived in more ways than one, but enough about that. Maybe another time.

Something I noticed while trudging through the streets, being pelted with snow, and a wind chill was that- snow isn’t like rain. Rain falls steadily and fast, or sometimes slow with heavy drops. But it’s always the same way. Its straight forward, it falls down to the ground in steady streams. But with snow…snow is more like life. It’s crazy. It’s erratic. It stops and starts again. It falls in the most beautiful way, it floats down from the sky. It goes left or right but it’s path is never straight forward. Life isn’t straight forward, and it shouldn’t be. My life this semester wasn’t. But I shouldn’t expect it to, and I have to work on that.

I like control. I like order and structure and when I can’t control something I get anxious. It’s no surprise I was planning my first year of college since I was in middle school, and it was no accident that I got where I am today. I worked and I worked. It’s probably why I tend to focus on live TV technical producing, I control what’s on screen. Why I like to edit. Because I put everything together, I’m calling the shots for the project. But this need for structure and control goes beyond just career, it impacts everything.

Even relationships. Not to say that I’m a terrible person in relationships but control is a powerful thing. Repetition and control of that. I have to let that go. I have to stop expecting everything to be so perfect or shaped how my mind wants it. I have to let my love take me in different ways that I never expected. I should want spontaneity- which is hard when social anxiety is constantly telling me to plan every single event I ever go to. Being in love with the unexpected is hard, and very hard to say yes to.

This year I picked up Year Of Yes by Shonda Rhimes, and it struck me because it was me. Simply me. The excuses, the neverminds, I ‘never say yes to anything. I wouldn’t be so brave to claim that 2017 will be my year of yes, because I know my faults, but it’s time to stop shying away from what I truly need.

My life should be like the snow. It should be me falling gently through hardships and letting life take me where it’s supposed to.

(like someone’s masterclass and Hamilton SF 2017...)

Drink of choice this post? Kava Stress Relief from yogi tea (which I ironically didn’t open until after my finals were over. It’ll keep me company while I continue my Jake Gyllenhaal movie binge watch between plane delay watching.)