Tag Archives: serial tv

‘Kinda Rapey’ Part 2: Jessica Jones saves power, sex, and violence in 2015

 

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Last week I wrote about the problem of rape in serial television this year — in particular the hoopla surrounding Sansa’s rape on Game of Thrones* and Jamie’s rape on Outlander. A friend on Facebook also commented on “glamorized” rape in American Horror Story which I must say I’ve had several water cooler conversations about with fans who find it borderline unbearable this season (emphasis on the borderline!). If, as I suggested, a flooding of sexualized rape and violent sexuality is desensitizing viewers to discerning the difference between the two, is there any place on television where this is not happening? And can we learn from it?

[* GoT showrunners announced last week that they will be toning down the sexual violence on the show following Internet backlash to this scene.]

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“Kinda Rapey” Part 1: The Problem of Rape on Serial TV in 2015

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You don’t have to be an entertainment or art critic to pick up on a trend when it’s going around on television. Superhero adventures, modern family dramas, and epic fantasy macro-trends multiply from one channel (ahem, streaming service) to the next, faster than you can say “season two”. On the other hand, micro-trends like repeating character archetypes, story arcs, and racial or sexual themes sometimes take a finer toothed comb to sift through. Yet, these are just as prominent and often a much better measure as to our collective subconscious than the common genre oversaturation.

This year, there was one emotionally uncomfortable trend  which stuck out so vividly I didn’t even need that fine toothed comb for it: rape. The truth is that outside of procedurals the likes of Law & Order: SVU, television (and modern serials in particular) has not dealt with the issue of sexual assault quite as frequently or wisely as one may think considering its resonating dramatic impact.

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‘Homeland’ Season 4 Finale or Silence is the Battlefield of Self-Reflection or War Is Over (And That’s Okay!)

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Last night’s episode of Homeland was brought to you by the letter S. S stands for Silence. And silence needs no explanation.

Cards out on the table: YES, I APPEAR TO BE THE ONLY PERSON WHO ENJOYED LAST NIGHT’S HOMELAND. (1) I have no shame in admitting it. (2) I was well aware throughout the episode that this may very well be the case. Like you I was waiting around in the silences between the silences for the proverbial shoe to drop. I tweeted at the time that “Every time someone steps into a car and smiles, I swear it’s going to blow up“. But alas, no one blew up. Nor did the CIA operative asking Quinn to join him shoot him in the back and face down into the community pool, either. Nor was Saul not poisoned by Dar Adal over Chicken and Waffles… But see, here’s the thing: I feared it. I imagined it. I wallowed in the expectation of it. In anxiety. In paranoia. We (the audience, as much as the characters) have been in the thick of a personal and violent war in the Middle East for months and in a state of unrelenting and impending horror and mistrust. The season (not the episode) built those expectations into our psyches, and successfully so. And now, it’s just over? Yes. Take a deep breath, and accept it. Eventually war ends. (And that’s a good thing.)

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which severe physical harm occurred or was threatened.  (source)

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‘Homeland’ 4.11 or “Failure Protocol” or Carrie Talks Someone Off A Cliff Part 3

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Last night’s episode of Homeland (“Kreig Nicht Lieb” — “War, not Love”) was brought to you by the letter B. B stands for Bummer. Was the entire penultimate episode of the season a bummer? No, but penultimate episodes have a reputation for being the strongest of a season, and this week Homeland showed a chink in it’s new shiny armor with a weaker, and slightly misguided hour of television. It wasn’t the worst episode of Homeland, or of the season, but the characters were all around inconsistent and several plot devices felt forced. In my best German pun, they were doppelgängers of the characters we’ve come to know and recognize. Also, yes, I totally called it last week that Dar Adal would be making a play for Lockhart’s position as CIA Director. I think.

So first issue: Carrie’s father’s death. It’s certainly believable that Carrie would be deeply affected by the news, however I would have appreciated something (even if it was very early in the season) to have built up the emotional impact of this considering that Carrie and her father have not been in contact in well over a year, nor has the matter weighed on her. Yes, Carrie is sad and Claire Danes is to chin-quivering what Meryl Streep is to accents, but it felt just a little cheap to throw an extraneous tearjerker in this episode. Did it make some of us cry? Sure. Did it have any meaningful impact on the season, characters, or plot? No. Therefore, cheap.

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‘Gracepoint’ 1.06 or Forecast Says A Slight Chance of Rain or The Pedophile Card

gracepoint107Thursday night’s episode of Gracepoint was brought to you by the letter R. R stands for the Rain.

After last week’s review of a very mediocre episode (and series), I was left hoping that this week would bring something big and bad that would shake the town up and cover it in the grey muck it so needed. In that review I spoke of how incongruently sunny the lighting and set design (i.e. tone) was, and so the metaphoric equivalent of an answer would have been a nasty storm.  What we got this week was an overcast day with some showers; and that rainstorm of anger and fear was carried over by a big grey cloud called the media.

Throughout the weeks we’ve seen young journalists, Renee and Owen, attempting to chip away at the case of Danny Solano. At Renee’s behest, the two have been working to break the big story inside the bigger story, or be the first to reveal some great secret or cover up for their own glory. Renee seemed to have bitten off a small piece with first person interviews from the Solanos, but the real story, of course, had to be imminent. It had to be juicy. It had to be shocking. And like lightning, it was: striking down Jack Reinhold, and killing him in the process.

With only four episodes left, this week I’ll catalog where we are with each character to see if we can catch where they may all finally collide.

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‘Homeland’ 4.06 or The One Where Carrie Pulls A Walter White

drone queenLast night’s episode of Homeland was brought to you by the letter D and the letter Q. That stands for Drone Queen. (I just had to bring back the cake [above] from the season opener to drive the point home.)

This brilliant episode says everything about why Homeland is so important on television right now. Carrie quite literally had to be restrained from pushing the button that would kill, Saul Berenson, the closest thing Carrie has ever had to a loving family, in the name of her country. Right.  Sure, Carrie has been utterly irrational and lost her shit many times in past seasons — no argument there — but when she has it’s always been in a manic state consequential of her bipolar disorder. And last night this was not at all the case, at all.

I’ve not seen something this demoralizing and low from a series lead since Walter White started using children as pawns and body shields to get ahead in his own war.  Certainly Carrie blew Don Draper getting caught banging his downstairs neighbor by his daughter, out of the goddamn water.  In other words, it’s somewhere up there with Tony Soprano asphyxiating Christopher Moltisanti. Tell me I’m wrong (I dare you). The only difference being that Quinn was there to stop her because no doubt Saul would be a pile of dust in the Pakistani desert otherwise.  The de-evolution of Carrie Mathison is happening just as it has with the greatest television characters of all time.  Just when you think she’s getting better, she’s actually just learning how to be a more terrible and selfish person than you even gave her credit for.

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