Web Crush Wednesdays: Binging With Babish

Through whatever machinations of fate and luck, sometimes I manage to hop onto a big thing before it becomes big. While sometimes that thing is a little more niche (like a mysterious little dating sim for mobile devices), making it that much more surprising when it does become huge, this time it felt inevitable that this YouTube channel would rise up in the ratings and take the internet cooking world by storm. If you’ve checked out the front page of YouTube at any point in the last year and glanced at the trending videos, then I’m sure you’ve seen a link to the show Binging With Babish. If you’ve avoided them because trending videos are typically trash and not indicative of what’s actually good on YouTube, then I’m here to tell you that you need to watch at least one episode immediately. I’ll even let you pick.

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Orphan Black: “Manacled Slim Wrists” Review

(via denofgeek)

We left last week’s episode with Cosima locked in Westmoreland’s basement and Kira determined to take a more active role in her family’s crusade against Rachel. So of course the clone we start out with this week is… Krystal? With only a few episodes left, it makes sense that she would come back to wrap up her plotline, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it quite so much.

Spoilers below the jump!

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Black Sails Sets Both High and Low Bars for Gay Pirates

Back when it premiered in 2014, I settled down excitedly to watch Starz Network’s early-1700s pirate drama Black Sails. I had a notion going in that it was being marketed as Starz’s answer to HBO’s Game of Thrones, and would be trying hard to fold in a comparable amount of sex, depravity, and violence. I wasn’t wrong, but the first episode of Black Sails introduced a lesbian relationship that felt so painfully tailored to the male gaze that I actually lost interest and stopped watching, certain that the rest of the show would be cringeworthy. I only gave the show another shot as of a few months ago, when my partner kept asking if we could watch it together. Had it not been for them, I would have done the same thing over again, because the lesbian scenes were as bad as I had remembered. But we slogged through episode one, and as the show went on, I was surprised to find that things turned around in the best possible way.

Spoilers for the entirety of Black Sails below.

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I still feel like I’m hearing the Game of Thrones theme in my head (via vignette1)

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Orphan Black: “Ease for Idle Millionaires” Review

(via denofgeek)

If two weeks ago was an Alison-centric episode, and last week was mostly-Sarah-plus-everyone-else, Cophine fans can rejoice this week. “Ease for Idle Millionaires” showcases Cosima working out just what’s going on behind the scenes at Camp Revival, and the answers are horrifying. The last few seasons of Orphan Black have been too complex for its own good; it’s hard for the un-obsessive viewer to keep track of all the plot threads. Luckily, this episode stays fairly straightforward in its reveal of P.T. Westmoreland’s nefarious plans, allowing more time to consider what they mean for Clone Club.

Spoilers after the jump.

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Sexualized Saturdays: The Life-Changing Magic of Being Not Like Other Girls

As I recently read S. Jae-Jones’s YA novel Wintersong, I noticed something troubling. The book seemed designed to appeal to me: it was a fantasy romance with strong (really strong) inspiration from both the movie Labyrinth and my favorite poem, Christina Rosetti’s Goblin Market. However, something about Liesl, the main character, bugged me, and it took me a while to figure it out. Not because it wasn’t obvious, but because I thought that, in this, the Year of Our Lord 2017, we had done away with the “not like other girls” trope.

It’s a tale as old as time: a girl who’s just ~not like~ the other girls around her, against all odds, wins the day. These stories are appealing to us because these girls are framed as the outcasts; we can relate to their being bookish or plain or unpopular. But a problem that uniquely affects the female characters who fit these roles is that they often succeed or achieve victory at the expense of other women and girls, or by denigrating traditional femininity (or both). Liesl is an on-the-nose example of this trope: she is terribly jealous of her sister’s physical beauty, a trait Liesl lacks and constantly laments. Liesl is a genius composer, but her skills are downplayed or overlooked because of her gender. Meanwhile, it feels like her gorgeous sister is set up to be resented, as she at least can win men’s attention with her looks.

The cup of a carpenter is not like those frilly other cups. (via indygear)

However, when offered a beautiful fae gown by the servants of the Goblin King, Liesl instead chooses a plain dress, and this is played like Indiana Jones correctly picking the right Holy Grail. But instead of just rejecting the wealth and majesty of the other dresses, it reads as though Liesl is casting a value judgment on the majority of the other women in the book, who did choose to wear frills and finery.

This is just the latest example of this issue, rather than the only one. Pop culture has a long and varied history of celebrating these not-like-other-girls, from formative Disney flicks all the way up to watch-at-your-own-risk premium television like Game of Thrones. These portrayals enforce a terrible message: that there’s only one right way to be a girl, and that it’s totally acceptable to tear down other girls who don’t meet those standards. Continue reading

Orphan Black: “Beneath Her Heart” Review

(via denofgeek)

Welcome back, Clone Club. This week’s episode is centered almost entirely on Alison. During the last few seasons, Alison’s plotlines have functioned more like comic relief than anything else. She’s a sparkly, suburban foil to her darker, more serious sestras, and it’s easy for all of us (including the viewers) to not take her seriously. This episode changes that. Because it’s the final season, we’re actually getting an Alison-centric episode that explores the depths of her heart.

Spoilers, of course, for “Beneath Her Heart” below.

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Magical Mondays: Using Magic to Make Drama

Pretty much all shows have some drama, because drama means conflict, and conflict means an interesting story, but drama for the sake of drama aggravates me. For example, if you kill a character and give them a big emotional send off that makes sense with the plot, then great. However, if you then somehow magically bring that character back so that the other characters have to go through the drama of killing them again, that is just drama for the sake of drama and it’s pretty stupid.

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The Real Eldritch Abomination Was Racism: Lovecraft Country

Jordan Peele, long known as a comedian, is apparently now cornering the market in the genre of anti-racist horror. Having broken all kinds of records with Get Out, news broke last month that he will be adapting Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country for HBO, backed by J.J. Abrams.

lovecraftcountrycover

(via Amazon)

When I heard the news, I grabbed a copy of the book to get a sense of what we’ll be in for. Lovecraft Country is an excellent novel which makes a few daring choices in transmuting 1950s America into the sort of non-Euclidean horrorscape that made Lovecraft himself a household name. Better still, it does not shy away from confronting the shocking racial hatred that always underpinned Lovecraft’s work: the man who invented the Cthulhu Mythos also penned “On the Creation of N******”.

We’ll be in good hands with Jordan Peele bringing this to the screen: Peele has proven himself more than capable at fulfilling the promise of his genre.

Trigger warning for frank discussion of racism below.

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Sexualized Saturdays: “I’ll Make My Own Gender, with Blackjack… and Hookers!”—A Critical Look at Futurama’s Handling of Bender’s Gender Identity

Futurama is one of my all-time favorite shows. I have watched these episodes so many times I think I broke Netflix’s suggestion algorithms. While there are many aspects to the show that are brilliant and remarkably nuanced, one topic that they have addressed repeatedly, and one that their exploration has handled in widely disparate and often problematic ways, is gender and gender identity. While not a main theme of the show, various aspects of gender and sexuality are regularly explored and put under the lens of Futurama’s satirical distant future.

Futurama calendar pic

A genderbent recreation of the Barbarella poster with Fry and Leela. (Screenshot from Futurama)

In examining how this is generally handled, the good and bad alike, there are some specific episodes scattered throughout the show’s run that specifically deal with these issues and demand specific attention; mostly through changes to the gender identity of one of its most widely known characters: Bender B Rodriguez.

TW: Discussion of transphobic and homophobic themes.

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Orphan Black: “The Few Who Dare” Review

(via denofgeek)

First of all, let’s get this out of the way: this season’s titles come from the fiery-badass poem “Protest” by Etta Wheeler Wilcox, which y’all should read. Really, it’s short.

Done? Cool, let’s get on with the show. This week’s premiere picked up pretty much right where the Season 4 finale left off: Sarah injured, Cosima reunited with Delphine, and everything happening so much with Alison, Donnie, and Helena.

Spoilers after the jump!

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