Rewatch: Snog Marry Avoid?

In an old job I used to work a lot of night shifts, and discovered that the gods of late night TV were fickle. They’d occasionally bless you with a late night showing of some obscure movie or a repeat of a quality show, but often it was a wasteland of repeats, infomercials and tedium.

The best options were usually trashy TV- reality shows, light hearted documentaries or the soap operas. At 3am all you really want is something to keep you awake. Nothing too challenging or grim, ideally something fun and light. The two best channels for this were E4 and the now defunct BBC Three.

One personal favourite was Snog Marry Avoid?, which ticked the boxes- light, dumb, easy viewing. But last week I caught an old episode on TV.

p01l3nt2

It was awful.

I remember it being quite cheerful, jokey and fun. But watching it again it left an extremely unpleasant taste in the mouth.

For those unfamiliar with the show the premise is simple: People are brought in to POD aka Personal Overhaul Device, which was a computer that would give them a “make under”. It announced itself as being pro-natural beauty and declaring “war on fakery”. Hair extensions, lots of make up, fake tan, fake eyelashes- these were what the show was against and it would transform them into more natural vision.

Now, originally I considered this all quite good fun, but maybe I’m going soft but it really isn’t. While still nicer than the US version, which I had to stop watching halfway through one episode, there is a rather nasty side to the show, even if they mask it with montages, upbeat music and Jenny Frost’s cheery presenting.

First of all, the whole premise is dodgy as hell. You’re basically telling people how they should look (it’s predominantly women, but they did have a few guys on the show), and that’s not cool. Watching it back it feels like a massive attack on individuality and choice, with “fakery” being bad and a more understated look being good.

They’d choose extreme cases (girl who applies three layers of fake tan, guy who takes 2 hours to get ready etc.) but even these seem a bit mean spirited. They liked how they dressed or felt comfortable that way why give them grief for it? What makes the natural look so morally superior?

Secondly, the title of the show highlights the meanest part.

Once they’ve dragged the person in front of the camera they’d explain that they’d asked 100 people whether they would snog, marry or avoid the participant (I’m guessing “f**k, marry, kill” would have been a bit too risque a title). We then get a couple of talking heads where the public insult them or explain they would avoid them as they were “trashy” or fake.

It’s quite hard watching a young person hearing people talking smack about their appearance so bluntly. While some fire back you can genuinely see that some of them are getting quite hurt by the criticism, and can you blame them? Imagine having to stand there while some stranger says they’d avoid you because you look a mess.

Making it worse is the fact that they then hit them with a percentage, usually quite high for avoid.

As it’s usually women in front of POD, it’s basically telling them to change for men’s approval and ignores the fact that some of those participants may be lying. I think a lot of the guys were being less than honest about which girls they would snog given the chance. Regardless, just because 80 guys say they would steer clear that still leaves 20 who’d snog you, which isn’t that bad.

The next part that sucks is that POD is actually a bully. She makes quite nasty gags about what they look like and ridicules them. Jenny Frost is the good cop, making a few light hearted gags about how long it must take them to get ready or how much of their hair is actually theirs, and then POD comes in like an insult comic who then turns preachy.

The contestant is then stripped down to a robe, robbed of anything that is unique to them and scrubbed of make up until they are a blank canvass for the show to turn them into a more acceptable version.

For a show that bangs on about people following trends it seems to be determined that women everywhere should wear pretty dresses and only have tans in the summer. That makeup should be applied in a minimal way and that everybody shun hair extensions.

There’s a dull quality to many of the make unders. It turns them into bland, mainstream versions of themselves. For example, here’s Jodie Marsh:

jodie-before_after__726928a

Often this is for reasons like the person has to be “taken seriously” or fit a perceived idea of how someone should look when they’re a mother or professional. Rather than questioning whether it’s fair to judge on appearance the show just decides that they should change to fall into line.

There’s no thought given to the fact that the make up and loud outfits are in any way helpful to them. That it serves as a mask or armour for their insecurities or a way of showing their personality, nope, it’s just shown as being stupid and ugly.

Last of all is a definite streak of slut shaming, with countless of the girls being called out for wearing skimpy clothes. Even back when I was watching the show and enjoying it I thought this was a weird aspect. Being scantily clad wasn’t being fake, was it? And again, this was where the show sided with those who made judgments based on looks.

With a fresh look the cheery, fun vibe starts to crack. The montages are crafted to make them look ridiculous and feature their friends and family ragging on them. Then the partners get involved, talking about how they dress, which smacks of hypocrisy. They started to  date the person as they were and now want to change them? That seems like a d**k move.

Jenny Frost talks about how bad the fakery is, but she’s not out there without makeup. It’s all bollocks.

You could make a show about natural beauty, and discuss things like society’s pressure on women to look a certain way. The risks of some treatments and the problems of how important looks are, but this show does none of these things.

It just sits there, smugly looking down its nose at those involved, ridiculing and humiliating them based on their looks. It wants everyone to fit within a narrow field of what’s considered attractive and criticises anyone who falls outside those confines.

If you like to wear makeup and fake tan, then crack on. If people judge you on what you wear then screw them, that’s their problem.

Watching it again the show is terrible, and I’m going to avoid it from now on.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Big Bliss, Mixed Feelings

I’ve written before about the fact that MWF and I watch a lot of wedding shows on TV (here and here) and while we took a break after getting a bit of a wedding overdose we still stick on Say Yes To The Dress from time to time.

They’ve added another spin-off recently (joining Atlanta, Bridesmaids and Canada, with a UK based version on the horizon too) and we caught our first episode today. The show is called Say Yes To The Dress: Big Bliss.

The difference with the latest offering is that it exclusively features plus sized brides. This is kinda cool as it shows that a perfect wedding isn’t just the preserve of thinner women and it’s probably inspiring and reassuring for the curvier ladies out there.

image

Also the staff featured are lovely, and treat their customers with kindness and sensitivity.

These are all good things, and I’m glad to see that body diversity is being addressed and celebrated. Both here and on the other TLC show Curvy Brides.

image

While I applaud this there is something that nags at me about these shows.

Why do the plus size brides have to be exiled to their own little boxes? Why couldn’t Say Yes just feature more body types on their original shows?

It feels like while it’s a step forward in acceptance of body diversity it’s not a massive one, and it still sets curvier women on the outside, as being “different” and not letting them join the party properly.

I’m glad the new show exists, but it’s kinda sad that the “mainstream” show doesn’t include different body types. Still, a small step forward is still progress.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Jumping the shark? Why I might be done with Don’t Tell The Bride

For quite a while Don’t Tell the Bride has been one of my favourite shows, it’s the very best of trashy TV.

For those unfamiliar with the premise it works like this: a groom is given £12k and three weeks to plan his wedding, with the wife not knowing what he’s doing.

The drama, and hilarity, comes from the grooms being clueless about weddings and having to muddle through, while the narration let’s us know just how off the mark they are regarding what their bride-to-be wants.

image

MWF and I watch the show together, picking out what we like and dislike every week.

But the current series has seen me fall out of love with the show.

The problem is that in order to keep the attention of the audience and make the trailers look good they’ve gone for increasingly outlandish themes and OTT grooms. And the result is that I’ve started turning on the grooms.

Previously the show worked because the daft, but well intentioned grooms were trying their best and had silly ideas for a reason (one groom booked a burger van to cater as it was where the couple had eaten on their first date). But the recent grooms have been bellends who’s themes revolve around stuff they love or wanting to have a laugh. Of course, this is to heighten the drama element.

The nadir of this was a groom who was obsessed with roller hockey (because he’s teenage boy in the late ’90s, obviously) and who was so infuriating I found myself hoping the bride would jilt him. He was utterly self absorbed and childish, including making sure his entrance at the ceremony was more elaborate than the bride’s. He threw a wobbly and did a “I love that girl” speech but it seemed a bit more due to his tiredness and plan falling apart.

image

He's probably saying something annoying here

This episode had me fuming, but several of the grooms have done similarly selfish actions.

As a soft git I normally root for them, especially if they get grief from the bride’s family, or diva-like behaviour from bridesmaids (I could do a whole post about why the bridesmaids are the worst and what they should do).

It also showed how bride centric weddings have become. The groom having the power and choice highlighted how normally the bride has everything sorted to her tastes, and I think the show works to illustrate that it’s probably best if both are involved.

The “it’s the bride’s day” thinking is so prevalent that the fact MWF consults and involves me has been received with amazement and surprise.

In fact, some think it’s weird and I should just let MWF have free reign. I think that’s bollocks. I know it’s not my day. It’s not her day either. It’s our day.

It just seems odd that as you start your life as a partnership you’re expected to cater to just one half.

DTTB has lost it’s way in focusing on stupid gimmicks and self-centred grooms. While some of it remains entertaining it’s lost the simple, sweet nature of the older shows.

At it’s best it was never about the theme of a wedding and more about a groom trying to do something special for the woman he loves. He’d cock up and struggle, but he always had wanting the day to be special and to make her happy.

It’s the human stories that made the show work, not the daft gimmicks.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Yes Man

Resistance is futile. You can complain, you can try to distract yourself, but sooner or later trashy TV will get you.
This was the case with TLC’s Say Yes To The Dress and its sister show, Say Yes To The Dress: Atlanta.
MWG has been obsessed with both shows recently, and to start with I did not get it. The premise of the show is simple- brides go to a wedding dress shop, try on dresses and see if one takes their fancy (being asked if they’ve found their dress at the end, giving the show it’s title and catchphrase).

image

Of course, this is reality TV so there’s a bit more drama to proceedings- family feuds, stroppy brides, stroppier bridesmaids and the bride’s insecurities, for example.
Anyway, it drove me nuts, I marvelled at how much people spent on a single dress (thousands of dollars) and all the fashion speak was like Klingon to me.
But slowly, slowly I found myself getting sucked into it. I found myself giving opinions on the dresses, sympathising with the brides who struggled with how they looked and fumed at the annoying bridesmaids (worst offender? A girl who wanted to wear a tiara to her sister’s wedding. A tiara for crying out loud!)
Seriously, how hard is it for a bridesmaid to shut their mouth, and know their damn role?!
You help the bride, keep her calm and smooth over any dramas. You don’t cause unnecessary grief, you don’t make it about you and you try not to steal focus. Or “do a Pippa” as it could be known.

image

Now I put up a token resistance when MWG flicks to TLC, but we both know that deep down I enjoy the show. Not as much as MWG, but then again I’m never going to go wedding dress shopping for myself, whereas that will be part of her future. And mine, hopefully.
The show, like the best reality TV, does a good job of pushing your buttons. Slick editing, simple stories and some hyping up of drama all gets the audience to go along with it, and for a soft git like me, the happiness of the brides who do find a dress and some of their relationship stories are quite heartwarming.
What can I say? I like a good wedding, okay, and a romantic story. And most of all, I like seeing people being happy.
Also, I like a trashy show that makes you tell at the TV or causes a bit of debate (see also: Don’t Tell The Bride, Take Me Out and Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents). MWG and I debate who’s in the wrong, judge the dresses and laugh at the more ridiculous characters on the show.
And there’s no denying, even to a fashion ignoramus like me, that some of the dresses are gorgeous. Even I chip in with “that doesn’t suit her” and other comments, despite not knowing what the hell they’re talking about.
There are still aspects that bug me- the expense, the brides who seem more concerned with being the centre of attention than the serious commitment that is marriage. This bugs me because I think lots of people go in giving more thought about the wedding than the marriage.
But these aside I’m slowly getting hooked on the show, and enjoying the little soap operas that unfold. This is a prime example of the whole “no guilty pleasures” thing I’ve written about before, because I’m not guilty about liking the show, just that I could have spent my time a bit more constructively, but you can say that about pretty much all TV shows.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Book Review: Heat Rises by Richard Castle

This is the third installment in the Nikki Heat series, the tie-in novels for the TV show Castle. The premise of the show is that novelist Richard Castle shadows Kate Beckett an NYPD detective and turns their crime solving adventures into the fictional Nikki Heat. They then decided to actually release some of the books, which are chock full of nods and references to the show, meaning that fans get an extra level of enjoyment.

image

For non fans there’s still quite a bit to enjoy, with this being an entertaining crime thriller. The plot revolves around Detective Nikki Heat who’s called in to investigate the murder of a priest in controversial circumstances. However, the investigation runs into problems especially as her boss, who’s been acting oddly, tells her to ignore viable leads.
With whispers of internal affairs and Nikki dealing with personal problems. The case touches on various questionable characters, building mystery around the deceased Father. What exactly was he involved with?
Signs point to a conspiracy, and things get more complicated following an attack on Nikki and the apparent suicide of a close ally. Can she work out why the priest was killed and who else is involved and can she do this before the bad guys come gunning for her again?
I really dug this book. As a fan of the show I guess I’m predisposed to, but I found that for much of the book I’d separated it from the show and just went with it.
It’s a well written thriller, and sits comfortably with airport thrillers, but what gives it an edge is the humour on display and the nice little character touches. Even the supporting cast are given individual quirks and handled deftly.
The plot unfolds nicely and there are plenty of red herrings and distractions to keep you guessing and the conclusion is satisfying. Once it hits it’s stride I found myself eagerly turning pages and losing myself in the story, always a good sign for a book.
It’s the kind of book you could devour on a holiday, or over a few commutes and enjoy immensely, even if very little stays with you, but that’s true for quite a few thrillers.
It’s probably the best of the series so far and the one that feels most like it can send by itself, that being said there are a few nods to the show and even a Firefly reference.
Verdict: A solid and engaging thriller, fans of the show might get an extra level, but even for newcomers I think this would work as a quick, lively and fun thriller. It won’t change your life, but it’s a damn fine way to pass the time. 7/10.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


My Thoughts on Plus Sized Wars

At the weekend MWG and I watched Plus Sized Wars a Channel 4 documentary about the plus sized fashion industry. It’s available on their on demand service All 4 and I recommend checking it out.
We decided to watch it because one of MWG’s friends is off to work for one of the companies featured and had mentioned the show.
It was interesting to watch as it dealt with the challenges facing both sides. The plus sized brands (Yours, Evans and Taking Shape) had more customers but especially in Evans’ case, they had to struggle to look fashionable. My Mum once described Evans as “the fat lady shop” (she shopped there at the time) and it’s clear this was the brand’s image.
The companies needed to address what their audience wanted, and to do this they enrolled a group of plus sized fashion bloggers, to advise and model their collections. This was something MWG really liked because it showed that the company was interesting in using real women and listening to them.
It was cool to see and the bloggers seemed a nice bunch of ladies who got on well and who were pleased that finally the fashion industry was trying to cater for their body shape. It was wonderful to see these confident, stylish women talk passionately about their bodies and their acceptance of their differences.

image

Some of the women featured: (L-R) Danielle Vanier, Callie Thorpe, Bethany Rutter, Georgina Horne and Tess Munster

Body positivity and confidence is a big deal, far too many women (and men) struggle to be comfortable in their own skin. Constant comparison with the narrow view of beauty the media puts forward is damaging to self esteem, happiness and can ruin lives.
The bloggers were doing good work in changing this, in showing that you can be confident and stylish regardless of your size (one of the designers interviewed said that he wasn’t there to talk about size, but style and said simply “style has no size”). The bloggers showed a different path, a path of acceptance and happiness. They argued that fashion should be for everyone and that bigger women shouldn’t be left out, pushed to the side and given dull, shapeless outfits.
Hear, hear I say.
The bloggers’ online popularity meant that the fashion world had to listen. If there are thousands of people saying one thing or following these blogs it was simply good business to try and cater to them. The bloggers were actually changing things, being involved in the process and helping these companies move forward.
MWG, a voluptuous girl herself, thought this was a very good thing, that “real people” were used as models, replacing the previous use of slightly bigger models who still didn’t really reflect the customer. And she also liked that the people interviewed were respectful and that the show’s tone mirrored this.
Of course, with documentaries like this the real strength and interest comes from the personalities involved and their own stories. The bloggers, including Bethany Rutter (Arched Eyebrow), Callie Thorpe (From the Corners of the Curve) and Danielle Vanier (self-titled) were engaging, vocal and charming in their interviews.
Yours decided to call in the big guns for their new range, hiring American model and social media phenomenon Tess Holliday aka Tess Munster. I’ve mentioned Munster in a previous post and am a fan, especially of her #effyourbeautystandards movement. She appeared to be a force to be reckoned with and it was interesting that the doc captured the changing attitudes of the fashion industry with Holliday signing for a major agency.

image

Tess Munster- founder of the #effyourbeautystandards campaign.

It was further evidence of the power of social media, as her large following helped open doors but its hard to argue that she didn’t deserve it or that it wasn’t a big step forward. Bethany Rutter celebrated the decision particularly as Munster was vastly different from anything that had come before. She was a true plus size woman, who many could relate to more than any other model who’d been put forward.
Munster’s trip to the UK also included a meet and greet with fans, which showed the positive impact she and her body confidence stance can have. Nervously on route to meet her heroine was Hannah Boal, a UK based blogger (Fabulously Fat Fashion). Bullied for years it was clear that Munster had inspired her and helped her learn to love and accept herself. Their meeting was sweet, moving and you couldn’t help but appreciate the positive effect Munster’s success has had on young women and how they view their bodies.

image

Boal with Munster

The other story followed was that of blogger and model Georgina Horne (Fuller Figure Fuller Bust), who joined others for a photo shoot and who highlighted a problem with the plus size community. Horne was like many of the others in her passion for fashion and belief that the plus sized woman has been ignored, however she differed in one respect. She was trying to lose weight and get in slightly better shape.

image

Georgina Horne

It was here that she encountered problems. Like Dylan going electric she was viewed as a traitor by some. I felt this part of plus sized community was mistaken.
Horne was still proud of her body, and confident in it, but she wanted to improve herself, for herself, and I think that’s fine. You can be happy and confident and still feel there’s room for improvement without being a hypocrite or betraying the cause. Horne wasn’t talking about losing tons of weight and becoming a size zero, neither was she hating herself or other larger women, she just personally felt as though she’s be happier if she got in slightly better shape. And isn’t that what the whole movement was about, women being happy with themselves?
It was a great doc, well made and engaging and it’s good to see the plus sized woman finally being treated with respect and catered to on the high Street, and to be introduced to some fabulously confident women. I’ve included links to their blogs because if you’re into fashion and are plus sized I think they’ll be a positive thing to see, and they all seemed quite nice, with no bitchiness.
If anyone knows any male plus size fashion bloggers let me know, so the young men can get the same thing.
I think the show was good and I think it’s great that the internet and social media allows women to express themselves and find a community of people like them and to realise that beauty is a varied thing. This can help them gain more confidence, accept themselves and generally be a bit happier, and that is most definitely a good thing.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


TV Round Up: Time, Travel and Things That Go Bump In The Night

Okay, so it’s TV round up time again, a quick catch up on the TV shows that I’ve enjoyed, most of which have been binge watched while cwtched up with MWG. Let’s crack on:

The Enfield Haunting

enfield haunting

What It’s About: In the late 1970s a family are tormented by a poltergeist in Enfield, much of it seemingly centred around Janet (Eleanor Worthington Cox), the young girl who lives there. Paranormal enthusiast Maurice Grosse (Timothy Spall), to investigate and he confirms there is something going on.

Reinforcements arrive in the shape of suave writer Guy Lyon Playfair (Matthew Macfadyen), who is initially skeptical and fears that Maurice, recovering from personal tragedy, may be too invested in Janet and her family. What is really going on? Is Maurice going to be able to help, and is his obsession with the case going to derail his home life?

Why I Like It: I don’t buy the “Based on Real Events” stuff, but this is still a well done and creepy horror series. The tension is built up beautifully and there’s a definite sense of unease throughout.

MWG’s not great with horror so there were lots of jumps and shrieks of fear as we watched it, and she got scared too. What sets it above is the fantastic performances, particularly Spall who is sensational in capturing the damaged, fragile Maurice who does his best to reassure the kids but is quickly out of his depth. Macfadyen is also great as the smooth, cocky Playfair and the child performances are pretty strong as well.

Outlander

outlander tv

What It’s About: 1945, and married couple Frank and Claire (Tobias Menzies and Caitriona Balfe) travel to Scotland, trying to reconnect after being separated during the Second World War. Claire visits standing stones and is cast back in time to 1743, where she becomes embroiled with Scottish rebels and meets Frank’s sadistic ancestor Black Jack Randall (Menzies again), a British army officer.

For her protection Claire is married to Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), a Scottish rebel who’s smitten with her and proves quite gentle with her. Can Claire get back to ’45 and, as she gets to know Jamie, does she really want to?

Why I Like It: The premise is a little bonkers, and it shifts gears alarmingly in places (there’s some daft humour before things get seriously dark towards the end of the first season), but it’s an engaging drama and the characters are pretty well done. It zips along at quite a pace and is filled with action and incident, and the writing is rather fine at times. Credit also to Balfe and Heughan, who do extremely well in their lead roles.

Peter Kay’s Car Share

peter kays car share

What It’s About: When the supermarket they work for starts a car sharing initiative colleagues John (Peter Kay) and chatty Kayleigh (Sian Gibson) are buddied up. Despite seeming to not have much in common they begin to warm to each other with each episode being about a different day of their commutes.

Why I Like It: The set up is simple and most of it takes place within the confines of John’s car, but the writing is wonderfully observed and full of laugh out loud lines. It also helps that Kay and Gibson are excellent in their roles, real and natural and bouncing off each other to great effect. I hope it returns for a second series as this is the best thing Kay has done in years.

A Young Doctor’s Notebook

young doctor

What It’s About: In 1930s Russia a doctor (Jon Hamm) is confronted about irregularities in his morphine prescriptions, and given his old diary. The diary tells of his early career, when as a young doctor (Daniel Radcliffe) he practiced in a small, isolated village hospital. As he struggles to manage his patients and the isolation, the doctor’s older self appears to him, offering advice and conversing with him.

Why I Like It: The tone is messy, but works for me. The young doctor’s life is filled with farcical events, awkwardness and jet black comedy, while the older doctor’s story is much darker. What works for me is Hamm’s sarky comments to his younger self. Originally smug and superior these start to become angrier and more serious as he is forced to confront his past failings and flaws.

The second series gets incredibly dark, and there are times when your sympathy for the young doctor waivers, but it’s here the conceit works, as the older doctor reflects are disgust while also capturing the bitterness and regret that consumes him.

The performances are strong and it’s entertaining, mixing comedy and tragedy expertly, at times it’s a tough watch because of just how unlikable Radcliffe’s character becomes, but for the most part it’s a well crafted gem. And Radcliffe deserves praise for taking on such a challenging role and capturing the selfish tunnel vision of an addict.

I’m quite glad that MWG nagged me to watch this as it didn’t really appeal but fair play, it was a solid pick and I enjoyed it a lot.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


Awkward Silence or Let Jay Go!

One of my favourite shows at the moment is Gogglebox. The set up is simple, cameras have been set up in people’s houses and we watch them watch TV and react. Despite what seems like a daft concept the show works, mainly because of the families they’ve chosen, who give some funny reactions to the week’s TV highlights.
Bucking this trend is Jay, who sits with his girlfriend, Eve, and her parents (see above). Unlike everyone else Jay’s appeal is that it he doesn’t make funny comments, he doesn’t make any comments.
Dubbed “Silent Jay” he’s become a fan favourite and is oddly charming as he sits there as the others lose their minds over stuff, the calm eye of the storm.
However, the recent series is a bit of a tough watch due to behind the scenes events.
Jay and his missus, Eve, have broken up. Which is rough, but what makes it worse is that as they’ve signed for the series, Channel 4 is making them keep filming.
Apparently it was fairly amicable, and they’re still “good friends” but whatever the circumstances I’m a firm believer that post-breakup you need to get some distance between you.
They were never overly coupley, her parents were right next to them, but there’s bound to be some tension now. And it’s gonna be awkward, I can’t help thinking it would be best if they let Jay go, or filmed him at his, with mates or something.
Just not on his own, sitting alone staring at the screen in silence, that would be a grim affair. Like a weird art film about a man on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Let Jay go, man! It just ain’t cool.
I know he signed, but things have changed, and for a show based on a natural atmosphere, this is an incredibly unnatural situation. Who still hangs with their ex and her folks after breaking up?
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


TV Round Up: Girls, Ghouls and Goofiness

So this is just a run down of some shows I’ve been liking a lot recently most of which have been enjoyed during binges as I’ve been cwtched up with MWG , it’s sort of recommendations for you guys to check out, let me know if there’s anything you think I should give a watch.

Adventure Time

adventure time

What it’s about: Young teen Finn and his shapeshifting dog Jake go on adventures in a crazy fantasy land. These usually involve them encountering weird beasts or having to stop the Ice King from kidnapping princesses.

Why I like it: It kinda reminds me of the Powerpuff Girls in that it’s kinda for kids but also works for grown ups, the show is filled to the brim with weird invention and surreal gags. It’s so damn weird that it’s captivating and there’s some funny writing on show too. It’s a goofy gem of a show.

Constantine

constantine tv

What it’s about: Based on the DC character, John Constantine. A paranormal investigator and con man who’s called in to fight the coming darkness and investigates various ghouls and demons as the show progresses.

Why I like it: Confession time, I like the Keanu Reeves movie, but this is a lot closer to the source comics. John Constantine is a cynical, sneaky bugger and is played with real skill and charm by Matt Ryan, who manages to make him human without softening him up too much, plus I kinda dig the whole snarky PI vibe and I’m a sucker for supernatural shows.

For balance I should point out that of all the shows featured this is the only one MWG isn’t into.

Girls

girls

What it’s about: Hannah, a neurotic writer struggles to find her place in life in New York as her friends do the same.

Why I like it: Hannah, played by the show’s creator Lena Dunham is a fantastic creation, funny but also extremely frustrating at times, the show’s writing is fantastic in that it shows us all of the ways the characters fail and their flaws, but manages to keep most of them likable, even the unlikable ones still feel well rounded. They feel real and while some of the situations are a little cliche, the writing keeps it moving and the performances are great across the board.

My only real problem with it are the sex scenes, which try to so hard to move away from glamour and be “un-Hollywood” to such an extent that they just seem exaggeratedly awkward. Or maybe I’ve just been lucky to have non-awkward sex, it’s just I can’t imagine MWG and me talking this much bollocks when we’re in the mood, you know? That aside, the show totally works for me.

Sleepy Hollow

sleepy hollow

What it’s about: Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), a British double agent for the American revolution is brought back to life in the 21st century, as is the horseman who he’s connected with. In the present day he teams up with Lt Abbie Mills (Nicole Beharie) a cop who’s also connected to the supernatural events in Sleepy Hollow, together they team up to try and stop the oncoming apocalypse and the demons that are let loose.

Why I like it: Like I said earlier, I love supernatural shows and what I dig about this is that while there’s a plot running through the whole show it keeps things simple, with a lot of episodes being “freak of the week” affairs like the early seasons of Buffy and Supernatural. I also love the interplay between Ichabod and Abbie, and the fish-out-of-water aspect. The writing is funny in places and the chemistry with the leads brings to mind Castle and Bones, both shows that I love.

Stella

stella

What it’s about: The life and loves of Stella Morris (Ruth Jones), a single mother in a small Welsh valleys town, and also her friends and family.

Why I like it: Ruth Jones created this show too and, like with Gavin and Stacey, it’s wonderfully well observed capturing the weirdness and comedy of everyday life. The writing is consistently funny and there are some wonderful characters, particularly Aunty Brenda (Di Botcher), who’s the kind of interfering loud mouth gossip who most of us will have come across in our lives. I do worry that it might not travel as well out of Wales, but it seems to be doing alright.

Ruth Jones is extremely likable as the main character and the series keeps the right balance of drama and comedy throughout.

MWG introduced me to it and we’ve blazed through the first three seasons and are watching the fourth at the moment, and it’s only now it’s starting to falter a bit. It’s still very funny and well written, but the constant focus on Stella’s love life is getting to me a bit now, and it just feels as though the writers think that the only way they can write her a happy ending is to get a man, and it’d be nice if they showed us her being happy by herself.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


TV Thoughts: Un-Date my heart

There’s a show on TV I really can’t get with and that’s Channel 4’s The Undateables, which is a show that follows, to quote the brief “people living with challenging conditions” as they look for love.
It’s not the love aspect I mind, I’m a soft git and will watch stuff like Don’t Tell the Bride and First Dates with no real complaint, and even root for the people involved. Yes, even on their first dates I’m hoping for a happily ever after.
But this show leaves me cold, and I couldn’t really figure out why, and stopped watching but MWG’s housemates are fans so I saw some of the recent series, and I’ve figured it out.
It’s because it just feels patronising.
It feels as though the audience is meant to feel pity for the participants or find them cute. And I don’t think that’s a good thing.
These people might have conditions, and difficulties, but they should still be seen as people and not just something to “Aww” over. You do that to kittens and babies, not adults.
The show might have been intended to highlight the difficulties that these people face in their romantic endeavours, but now it just seems to be a well intentioned example of disability porn.
Its viewing these people for their conditions and using that for audiences to coo over, and that, to me, diminishes how we view them as individuals.
It reminds me of those awful documentaries featuring “extraordinary people” which use poignant music and softly spoken narrators to mask what they really are, modern day freak shows for people to gawk at.
The Undateables isn’t quite that bad, but there’s still the vibe that these people are being used for entertainment and that irks me.
You might argue that it’s at least a slightly more positive reaction to those involved, but patronising them isn’t a great thing, and harmful in a different way.
Autism or Down’s Syndrome shouldn’t be viewed as a cute thing, they face their own challenges and some of the responses I’ve seen diminish them as individuals.
Sorry, rant over. I hope I got my point across properly.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.