Monday, October 11, 2010

Rickie: The other half is, like, you know, the tough half

Angela: Which is?
Rickie: Which is, like, just... you know. That I belong nowhere, with no one. That I don't fit in

In one of my Christmas blogs at the end of last year, I talked about my favorite holiday television episodes. One of those episodes happened to be from My So-Called Life. I had a lot more to say about the episode than I wrote in the blog, but in trying to not make the post too long, I cut out most of it. Since today is National Coming Out Day, I figured that it was as good a time as any to share these additional thoughts.

But first, to refresh your memory, here were my initial comments:

This episode always makes me cry and as a teenager I really did not like it because it depressed me so much and I did not fully understand what it was about. Watching it later in life, I realize how much it truly affected me and was a part of who I was and who I have become. The episode starts with no one really appreciating the true meaning of Christmas. At one point, Angela questions her parents about why they do not go to church to which her younger sister replies: "Do we have to keep talking about religion? It's Christmas!" Rickie is getting beat up at home because he is gay, has no where to go and ends up at an abandoned warehouse with other homeless teenagers. Angela is concerned about him and tracks him down with the help of a mysterious homeless girl. Rayanne and Sharon volunteer for the teen help-line and Brian's parents leave him home alone while they go on a cruise over the holidays.

I love this episode because it is about helping others who are less fortunate than you and accepting everyone for who they are. It is about being thankful for your family and friends and all the things in life with which God has blessed us. The episode ends with the family all ending up in a church together, not "finding God" but more, realizing the importance of being together and inviting others into their home who have no where else to go. It is about the true spirit of Christmas, which I think gets lost among the all the shopping and commercialism of the season.

Shows like The Secret Life of An American Teenager give teen-agnst a bad name. It makes real issues seem hokey and unrealisticly dramatic. My So-Called Life addressed the same problems, but did it in a way that did not make me think I was watching an after-school special, or an episode of Full House, where someone sits down with you at the end of each episode and tells you what you should have learned from what you just watched. The show was about a high school girl who thought about sex with the boy she was dating, but also about the zit on the middle of her face that ruined her week. The characters talked to each other like teenagers (not adults trying to talk like they think teenagers should talk) and daydreamed about their crush's hair in the middle of Social Studies. They did not have philosophical conversations about issues happening in the world, they talked about the things that teenagers talk about: the things that directly affect their lives at that particular moment.  It was realistic and real teenagers could relate to what these characters were thinking and experiencing.

In the DVD commentary for this specific Christmas episode, actor Wilson Cruz talks about making the episode and how it affected his life. He had come out to his father the previous year and had not spoken to his father since then. The writers, unknowingly, wrote this episode basically mirroring his experience. Cruz talks about how hard it was to make the episode because it brought back all of those feelings that he had not yet dealt with and how much better he felt after it was over. He also says that his father saw this episode when it aired on TV and subsequently called Cruz and that this episode is pretty much the only reason he now has a relationship with his father. That makes me love it even more. Thinking that this show could, not only affect the life of someone making it but also, affect the lives of who knows how many teenagers and parents watching it, in such a profound way. It created a way for many teenagers to talk to their families about their sexuality.

You watch things and are told things as a child and you do not fully comprehend how they will affect you, until you grow up and look back at those things that influenced your life the most and realize how they shaped your view of the world. You realize how certain things affected the way you treat the people around you and helped you figure out how you want to be treated by others.

I am not saying that this one show shaped my entire being, but it certainly played a small part. This thing that I love, television, was just a part of what shaped me into the person that I am today. Just like the church that I grew up in taught me to love all of God's creatures, no matter where they come from, what they look like, or who they love. And like my parents never forced their views of the world on me because they wanted me to figure things out on my own, but always made sure I treated everyone with respect and love.

I do not mean for this post to come across as me preaching to you about how to treat others. I guess it was more about me trying to explain part of my journey to you.  How I relate television and movies to my life. 

For me, as a straight woman, National Coming Out Day is not about pushing your views onto others or shouting your sexuality from the rooftops. It is about being true to who you are and feeling comfortable to share that with others. It is about being supportive of those people around you who are trusting their true selves with you and not judging them or making them feel like an outsider.

The lessons we learn as children, about treating others as you want to be treated and being yourself, are often the behaviors we forget as adults.  Sometimes all it takes is a TV show, or a blog, to remind you.

Please, have the courage to be yourself and share it with the world today!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Nathan: I'm not strong enough for this...

My whole life, I've willed myself to face things.  Anything that was bigger than me, anything that defeated me, I just kept going until I beat it.  Not this.  This is too big.  I never really understood what you faced when you lost your mom until today.  I'm not strong enough, Haley
Haley: Yes, you are, and when you're not, you have me

All of my shows have premiered and I am ridiculously over-scheduled this year.  Luckily, there is not much to watch on Wednesdays, so I have a day to catch up on what I DVR'd Mondays and Tuesdays :o)

I really enjoyed Lone Star and am very sad that FOX has canceled it after only two episodes.  Although, I am not terribly surprised because FOX has a habit of canceling really good shows (ie. Firefly and Dollhouse).  I really liked James Wolk and am hoping he will land an even better role.  Of my other new shows, I have also really enjoyed Blue Bloods, My Generation, No Ordinary Family and Hawaii Five-O.  Nikita, on the other hand, despite its continued good reviews, I just could not get into.  I love Shane West, but it just is not holding my interest at all.

Other new shows that I have checked out OnDemand include: Terriers, The Event and Chase.  The jury is still out on The Event.  I really, really liked Terriers with Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James and it has now been added to my list of shows to watch.  I was hoping Chase would be better, because I like Cole Hauser, but it was just not.

My newest TV obsession these days, though, is Friday Night Lights.  I did not like the movie with Billy Bob Thornton very much so, when the show started in 2006, I had no interest in watching it.  I am also not a huge football fall in general, so I figured it was a show that I could skip.   Over the past couple years though, it has gotten really good reviews from the critics and it seemed like maybe I should check it out, but I was already watching way too much television, so I continued to ignore it.  But then, a few weeks ago, ABC Family started playing the entire series from the beginning every week day.  So I decided, now was as good a time as any to see what all the hype was about and, from the first episode, I was hooked.  The show is focused around the town of Dillon, Texas and their obsession with high school football, but it is really about the people of this town and how they deal with every day issues.  As one of the actors, Scott Porter, put it in one interview, "You can't build a show around a sport, you build it around the people."  It is beautifully shot on location in Austin and the writing is simple, but brilliant.  I am a little disappointed that I waited so long to find this show, but highly recommend you watch it.  

As you can tell, I have been mostly occupied with television the past two weeks, but I did get out to the theater to see a couple new movies: The Town and Easy A.

The Town was awesome.  It was gritty and exciting and everyone should see this movie.  I was particularly impressed with how good Blake Lively was in her role.  I enjoy her on Gossip Girl, is Gossip Girl, so who is really expecting all that much?  Her part was not very big, but she played it very well.  Jeremy Renner and Jon Ham were phenomenal, as usual and Ben Affleck did a great job directing and starring.  If this does not at least get nominated for a few Academy Awards, I will be shocked.  Seriously, go see this movie.

I also found Easy A to be very well done and pretty hilarious.  While I was not a huge fan of the theater full of obnoxious teenagers, the movie kept me entertained throughout.  Emma Stone is great as Olive, the modern-day Hester Prynne, and Amanda Bynes is great as the pious antagonist.  I think my favorite characters, however, were Olive's parents played by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson.  How Stanley Tucci does not have an Oscar is beyond me, because he is amazing in every role he plays, no matter how small.  Some of my favorite lines from the movie include:

Brandon: Is there an Olive here?
Olive's mom: There's a whole jar of them in the fridge!

I know, totally corny, but it made me laugh, as did this:

Olive's Mom: No offense, but you kind of look like a stripper
Olive: Mom!
Olive's Dad: A high-end stripper, for governors or athletes

This movie is not going to win any awards, but if you want to be entertained and/or just need a good laugh, then this is the movie for you :o)

Starting next Wednesday, my Phillies start their run at world domination...or a World Series, either is fine with me :o)  I will, therefore, be distracted by baseball for a little while.  Also, make sure you check out my dream Phillies movie cast.

I hope you are all enjoying some new fall TV shows and please let me know if there are any movies you think I should be seeing!