TV Shows Pop Culture

These are the real causes and effects of binge-watching, says science

Binge-watching is all the rage, these days, thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.

Peruse any social media app and you’ll find users joking about having to pull themselves away from their computers or TVs because they just have to finish the latest season of Stranger Things. Some go as far as contemplating calling in sick or pushing back their homework so that they can spend more time online. Hopefully, they are actually joking. Spending too much time on such a sedentary activity can come with unwanted health risks (as well as retaliation from one’s employer if they neglect their responsibility).

Health and professional risks aside, have you ever wondered how binge-watching, defined by Merriam Dictionary as watching many or all episodes (of a TV series) in rapid succession, affects your viewing experience as a consumer? That’s the topic I spoke about with Matt Johnson, a researcher at Hult International Business School, who holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience from Princeton University.

Keep reading for three possible side effects of binge-watching, as well as a little bit about why we feel compelled to binge in the first place.

You Might Not Remember All That You Binged

Think of a show you binged, and one that you watched traditionally. Chances are, you can recall the show watched over weeks better than the one you binged.

Sure, you might be able to remember major plot points, but that one-liner that people are raving over? The shocking reveal from that B-character? You probably have no recollection of it. This happens because binging doesn’t allow enough time to actually process the information we’re digesting, according to Johnson.

“There is a lot of evidence that your memory for events in long streams like this is not as strong as it would be if the information was broken down into larger chunks.” The reason, Johnson continued, “is that memory needs to time for consolidation – the process by which the brain (via the hippocampus and nearby regions) takes experiences and lays them down into long-term memory,” so watching a show that originally aired over three years in three weeks, probably isn’t enough time.

You Might Not Enjoy What You Do Remember

Ever experience what I call post-episode(s) depression? It’s that period when the high you achieved from being inundated with a constant stream of something you enjoyed wears off, and you end up feeling kind of, well, bummed. Johnson says this may be due to “short term enjoyment at the expense of longer-term satisfaction.” He reasoned that we can “enjoy these experiences as they’re happening, but there’s evidence to suggest that we actually regret them in retrospect. Watching in smaller chunks, spread out over a longer period of time requires more deliberate choice and effort” Johnson continued, “and these types of decisions usually incorporate a better understanding for our longer-term sense of well-being/satisfaction,” so we regret them less.

You Might Grow Emotionally Dependent On The Fictional Worlds

Though there’s no formal research available to support this, it’s possible that there may be a link between the blues you experience after completing a binge and an increased emotional dependency to the fiction world you’ve spent hours and hours immersing yourself in. “We may feel compelled to binge-watch because of this emotional connection, or the emotional connection might be the result of binge-watching.  It’s unclear which way the causality goes.”

As for as the reason we binge-watch at all, it’s possibly influenced by Netflix’s post-play feature (which causes one episode to play after another) according to Johnson. “This really compels us to binge more than we otherwise would, because it takes individual episodes and makes them feel, psychologically, like one large seamless experience. This compels us to continue via the Ziegnarik Effect – we have a difficult time stopping something when we feel like we’re in the middle of it.”

Well, that explains it.

Movies Pop Culture

Critics might have hated A Wrinkle In Time but as a Black sci-fi lover, I can’t stop thinking about it

A Wrinkle In Time is the beloved science fiction novel (written by Madeleine L’Engle) which centers around Meg Murray, a fearless 12-year old who ends up traveling across dimensions to rescue her scientist father after he disappears. Along the way, Meg and her two younger siblings encounter three women called “The Mrs.” who help them thwart the effort of malevolent beings that attempt to throw them off of their path.  Over a half-decade after its release, the on-screen adaptation, finally premiered in theaters on February 26 of this year.

The film sticks closely to the source material (though it does take some creative liberties), except the fact the cast mirrors more closely to the diverse world we live in. Unlike the novel where Meg and her family are White, movie Meg (Storm Reid) is a curly haired, biracial girl with glasses. Two of The Mrs are played by Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling, who are of African and South Asian descent. The third is played by Reece Witherspoon, a White woman. Chris Pine rounds off the main cast as Dr. Calvin Murray — Meg’s father.

With Ava DuVernay at the helm, this also marks the first time that an African-American woman has directed a film with a $100 million dollar budget. All in all, the casting choices, as well as the team behind the movie, reflect the progress we’ve made as a society that just wasn’t a reality when the book was written.

[bctt tweet=”I’m an unapologetic nerd today, but growing up, I never felt comfortable embracing my true interests. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

As a young, Black woman, who loves all things science fiction, I nearly squealed when the news of the casting came out last year. I would have probably been excited regardless, considering that A Wrinkle In Time is the book that kick-started my love of science and fantasy novels. And knowing that the movie would feature so many people of color was the icing on the cake.

I’m an unapologetic nerd today, but growing up, I never felt comfortable embracing my true interests. Nor did I feel like there was much representation on screen in that genre for girls that looked like me. I’ve always felt that there were unspoken rules about what interests are suitable for Black people. Not to mention that the Black experience is often stereotyped — negatively, mind you — in the media, and oftentimes in our own community as well. I wish more people understood that Black people aren’t a monolith, and “Black” is a race, not a personality trait.

Knowing that A Wrinkle In Time’s diverse cast was going to challenge that narrative enthused me. To say that I was excited about this film, and wanted it to do well, is an understatement. Coming off of the heels of Black Panther, which brought in 1 billion dollars in 26 days, its release couldn’t have come at a better time.

[bctt tweet=”I’ve always felt that there were unspoken rules about what interests are suitable for Black people. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

That’s why I was disheartened to read so many Black people who were praising Black Panther in one tweet,  saying in another that they “weren’t here” for A Wrinkle In Time. Why? Well, among other things, because it was a children’s movie, or because it wasn’t a superhero film. Michael B. Jordan wouldn’t be taking off his shirt. Oh, and because the lead actress was mixed instead of dark-skinned. If you can think it, people have said it.

Whatever personal biases people may have about why the film isn’t the “right” kind of movie, I don’t think any of that compares to the cultural significance of it. Historically, Black girls have been largely left out of the booming YA market — in both books and on screen. (I’m still waiting for my Black Katniss Everdeen or Hermione Granger.) 

Sadly, films with Black leads that don’t fit a certain mold don’t seem to get that benefit of the doubt beforehand. When our films don’t sell, movie executives use it as an excuse to decrease the already limited roles out there for people of color.  

Movie studios don’t respond to public outcry alone. They respond to revenue. If Black Panther had bombed at the box office, regardless of what the end credits suggest, it would not be getting a sequel.

By judging A Wrinkle In Time prematurely, we’re saying “we don’t want more girls of color in roles like this” or “we’ll only support certain genres of diverse films.”  If we want movie studios to realize that mainstream audiences can appreciate movies with diverse casts, I think we need to show support to the ones that do get produced, so that the trend will continue.

[bctt tweet=”Historically, Black girls have been largely left out of the booming YA market — in both books and on screen.” username=”wearethetempest”]

In my honest opinion, it’s not even a matter of whether or not this is the “type” of movie you’d watch. It’s more so about ensuring that more of its kind will be made. So that, eventually, you’ll get to the movies that you do like.  

All in all, if you’re always spouting about representation, but are only referring to: movies made for adults, certain genres, or movies that fall in line with the stereotypical media perception of us, then you’re doing a disservice to the new generation. A generation maybe, just maybe, want to see themselves in a variety of roles — not just a select few.


TV Shows BRB Gone Viral Pop Culture

5 best new fall TV shows you absolutely have to watch in 2017

Fall is my favorite time of year for several reasons, but mostly because of the onslaught of new TV shows that I get the opportunity to obsess over. Summer can be a great time to catch up on favorites, and even add a few new summer premieres to my binge-list. But fall is still the best time of year to find new shows.  When I was doing the research for this article, I must admit that I was slightly disappointed by what I feel were slim pickings, but I did still manage to find a few gems.


1. The Gifted (Already on!)

The Gifted, based on the X-Men, will follow the Acker family after the parents, Reed and Caitlin, find out their teen kids are mutants. As with most shows in this genre, people with powers are not trusted and hunted by the powers that be. So eventually, the family is forced to seek refuge with a secret, underground organization which protects and hides mutants from the government. Reed works for the agency that rounds up and prosecutes mutants, which means it’s highly likely that his kids will suffer for his sins in some way.

Network: The CW

2. Dynasty (Premieres October 11)

Dynasty, the show that your parents probably argued about over lunch in high school, is coming back in a major way. Originally a soap opera about the exploits of the wealthy Carrington family in the 80s, Dynasty is getting the 2017 treatment by Gossip Girl creators, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage.  Variety reports that the reboot will follow two families — the Carringtons and the Fallons — as they feud over their children and their fortunes. It’ll be told through the eyes of two women Fallon Carrington, the daughter of billionaire Richard Carrington, and her soon-to-be stepmother, Cristal, who are naturally, at odds.  

Aside from the fact that rich-people being petty is an unofficial genre I’d watch any day,  I’m most excited about the fact that Elizabeth Gillies has been cast in the lead role as Fallon Carrington. She was born to play the role of a spoiled, self-indulgent, ruthless heir, which is not the insult it sounds like, I swear.  

Network: The CW

3. Marvel’s Runaways (November 25)

What would you do if you found out that your parents, who were there when you took your first steps, were actually super-villains in disguise? If you’re the six teens from Marvel’s Runaways, then you would band together to break free from your parents (whom you’ve just witnessed participating in a human sacrifice) and try your best to figure out what the heck is going on. If you were the aforementioned parents, you would probably utilize everything in your evil arsenal to get back your pesky, meddling offspring. 

Sounds fun, right? Well, maybe not for the kids, but as a viewer, I’m absolutely stoked about this series. I’m an absolute sucker for the “villain with a soft side” trope that writers love incorporating into their work. While I’m sure these villains are ruthless, something tells me they’ll have to get a little creative when wrangling in their own offspring, so as not to severely injure, or you know, kill them.

Network: Hulu

4. Young Sheldon (Already on!)

The Big Bang Theory has just entered its 11th season, which means that its best years are probably behind it, but that’s no reason to be sad.  Young Sheldon, a spin-off of TBBT is headed for your television screens this fall. As the title gives away, it will focus on a young Sheldon Cooper who spends his days attending college classes, dealing his ultra-religious mother, and explaining why he has to wear gloves before he can hold hands to say grace.  

Basically, Young Sheldon will give viewers an in-depth look into how Sheldon got to be the way that he is. From the looks of it, he was destined to a life of Sheldon-ing from the beginning.

Network: NBC

5. The Good Doctor (Already on!)

The Good Doctor revolves around Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young, autistic doctor with Savant Syndrome. The drama, made by the creators of House, seems to rely heavily on the sensational aspects of savants, more so than perhaps, the realistic capabilities someone diagnosed with the order would actually possess. However, it has the potential to be interesting enough to keep me occupied right up into winter.

Fall marks the end of summer and, for most of us, the start of school and work. But that doesn’t have the mean the end of fun! When real life gets overwhelming, pull up a few of these premieres and allow yourself to escape for a few hours. Sometimes binge-watching is the best remedy for stress.

Network: ABC

TV Shows Pop Culture

You really need to see “The Bold Type”

The Bold Type is Freeform’s newest original series. Though it was inspired by the life of Joanna Coles, Cosmo’s former Chief content editor, the show actually revolves around three millennial employees who work at the fictionalized Scarlett Magazine: Kat, Sutton, and Jane.

It’s already been dubbed a replacement for Pretty Little Liars, which unfortunately ended this year. With tons of drama, fierce fashion and forbidden romance, it definitely has all of the needed elements to fill that PLL shaped hole in your life. But don’t get it twisted—The Bold Type is carving out a lane all its own. Here’s why you need to check it out!

(The rest of this article contains minor spoilers for The Bold Type’s series premiere.)

Awesome Characters

The Bold Type follows the lives of three women that all started together as assistants, and have each been promoted in their respective fields within Scarlett. Picture perfect wardrobe aside (which we’ll get to later), these girls are definitely not living in a fairytale. Journalism is a hard business and The Bold Type addresses some of those realities.

Jane is Scarlett’s newest writer.  Near the beginning of the episode, she’s totally beaming about walking into Scarlett’s headquarters as a writer, instead of as just an assistant. Her enthusiasm is short lived, however when Jacqueline shoots down all of her pitches, leaving her a little defeated. And when she finally gets assigned her first story, Jacqueline encourages her amend it because it’s not “personal” enough.”

Speaking of Jacqueline, as the Editor-In-Chief, she’s totally the HBIC– and she knows it. Silence immediately falls over the board room when she arrives, and she totally demands the respect that she’s earned. That said, she’s no Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada). There’s a huge heart underneath her designer clothes, and she does her best to balance being a total boss and mentor to Jane and the other writers. (Though it’s probably not realistic for the EIC to have the time to personally mentor a newbie writer, her insistence on doing so is admirable.)

Then there’s Kat. She is Scarlett’s feminist, uber stylish social media editor, who’s all about gender equality and female empowerment. She says what’s on her mind, even when it’s to her own detriment. During a board meeting, she quips, “It’s not 2006,” when the health editor asks the room’s opinion on the word “va-jay-jay,” garnering her a cold stare. She also lands in a little international trouble after encouraging a Muslim photographer named Adena to smuggle vibrators into her country (where they’re banned), a decision that gets her detained at the airport. Then Kat wants to use Scarlett’s Twitter account to bring attention to Adena’s emergency, against the advice of another employee.

Finally, there’s Sutton. She’s a high-level assistant, who works directly with Jacqueline. Only thing, she doesn’t want to be an assistant forever. She’s got big dreams and she’s not afraid to go after them. She first goes after a job in the ad department, but she soon admits that she really wants a job in the fashion department. She’s also dealing with a conflict of interest, as she’s secretly sleeping with an exec from the ad department.

The Friendships

The premiere of The Bold Type showed us that the friendship between Kat, Sutton, and Jane is just as important as their career aspirations—as it should be! Whether it’s Kat and Sutton helping Jane stalk her “unstalkable” ex for a story, or Kat apologizing to Sutton for not being enthusiastic about a career change, it’s clear that their differences are not more important than the things that bring them together.

The Realistic Relationships

No matter how many preconceived notions we may have about what love will mean to us, there really is no right way to do it, as the characters all learn. Sutton’s secret affair with an ad exec named Richard becomes a source of conflict between her and the girls. Kat, who self-identifies “proud hetero,” finds herself questioning her sexuality as she spends time with Adena, who’s a lesbian. And Jane, well, she’s totally dealing with getting over her ex-boyfriend who just totally ghosted her. Relatable much?

The Glamour

The Bold Type definitely focuses on the sexier aspects of journalism. Between the shots of NYC’s high rises, the glossy pages of Scarlett, the industry parties and the gorgeous fashion, it’s safe to say that The Bold Type is super glamorous.

Speaking of the fashion, The Bold Type has been garnering comparisons to Sex And The City since its trailer was released. And while I’m not sure if Kat, Jane and Sutton’s lives mirror those of Carrie and co.’s (at least not yet), they’ve definitely given them a run for their money in the fashion department. Allow yourself to live vicariously through these ladies by checking out the show’s Instagram account.

After that, give The Bold Type a watch or two (if you haven’t already)—and revel in designer digs, supportive friendships, and spicy flings hopefully, for years to come.

TV Shows Pop Culture

5 new shows that you absolutely need to be excited about this summer

Summer used to be the stretch of time dedicated to crying over looming cliffhangers, and hiatus-induced depression. However, in recent years, TV studios have started producing more than enough quality content to hold us over until fall.

So, even though we just said goodbye to all of our favorite shows (anyone else still crying over Once Upon A Time?), we don’t have to grieve for too long. The summer TV season is just around the corner, and we’ll soon have a new batch of shows to binge and obsess over.

Where, oh where to start?! Fret not, because we’ve scoured the web for the five absolute best new shows premiering this summer!

1. The Bold Type (premieres June 11)

Freeform’s newest show is sure to delight all of the aspiring writers out there who dream of living and working in NYC.

Based on the real life of Cosmo’s former Chief content editor, Joanna Coles, The Bold Type will follow three friends into the cutthroat world of magazine publishing, as they navigate New York City’s social scene, celebrity interviews, and spicy rendezvous.

Basically, it’s The Devil Wears Prada meets Pretty Little Liars. Sold yet?

Where to watch: Freeform

2. Claws  (premieres June 11)

Claws is a dark new comedy that will follow a group of five women who use a nail salon as a front for organized crime. Yeah, that’s right. Money laundering might be a man’s sport but that won’t stop these divas from dipping their toes in the shark – or should we say alligator (they’re based in Florida) – infested waters.

Of all the shows, I’m positive this will probably end up being my favorite show by a long shot. Between the sass, colorful clothes, and witty comebacks, it won’t be short on the laughs or the drama.

Along with veteran actress Niecy Nash, Claws will also star newcomer, Karrueche Tran.

Where to watch: TNT

3. Friends From College (premieres July 14)

No one told them life was gonna be this way. No, seriously. This group of friends are all Harvard grads who once had the world at their fingertips. But that was way back in the ‘90s. (Yes, way back.)

Today? They’re all in their forties, and let’s just say they’ve seen better days. Friends From College will follow the group of friends as they reunite in New York after twenty years.

They’ve experienced a few highs and a lot of lows.

Together again, the group reminisces about the good times, help each other navigate their lowest moments, and experience a few more highs (there may or not be cocaine involved)–together.

Where to watch: Netflix

4. Still Star-Crossed (already on!)

Allow me to preface this by saying Still Crossed Crossedbased on the 2013 novel of the same name by Heather Mitchell, is being brought to life by Shonda Rhimes, who you may know as the creative genius behind Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder, and Grey’s Anatomy. If that isn’t enough to sell you, then keep reading.

We all know the story of Romeo and Juliet, the tragic tale of star-crossed lovers. Still Star-Crossed is a period drama that picks up where Romeo and Juliet’s story ended. It centers around Rosaline Capulet, who ends up betrothed against her will to Benvolio Montague. After the deaths of Romeo and Juliet, Prince Escalus hopes that Rosaline and Benvolio’s union will end the feud between their families.

Whether or not these warring families will ever reach a resolution remains to be seen. In the meantime, there’s sure to be more bloodshed, love triangles, and gorgeous, gorgeous fashion.

Where to watch: ABC

5. The Mist (premieres June 22)

The world was completely enamored by 2013’s Under The Dome. I assume it will be as well with Stephen King’s latest foray into television: The Mist.

Unless you live under a rock, then you know that “The Mist” is one of Stephen King’s most beloved novels, and for good reason.

Once a mysterious mist envelops a quiet Maine town, the citizens are haunted by terrifying otherworldly monsters and other hallucinations. Much of the story focuses on a group of strangers who have barricaded themselves inside of a grocery store. They must band together to survive, and severity of the situation causes some of the people to wander outside into the eerie fog.

What happens next is anyone’s guess… but since it’s Stephen King you can probably make a few educated guesses!

The TV series won’t be a direct adaptation, but it will rely heavily on the source material. Check out the trailer below and see if you can spot the differences between the novel and trailer.

Where to watch: Spike

Summer means vacations, beach days, barbecues, and pools. But let’s be honest, there’s no way you’re totally giving up TV. Check out these series for the next time you get a sunburn or don’t feel like sweating and swatting mosquitoes!

Books Pop Culture

10 amazing young adult novels featuring women like us

Even though I’m 22 years old, I still read  YA books religiously. Some people dismiss YA books because of the dramatic, know-it-all teens, shallow plots, and love triangles; but I embrace them for these very reasons. Like a lot of folks, I use books and stories as a form of escapism. I love getting lost in the teenage love stories and magical quests. Everything doesn’t have to have an intricate plot, though many of them do. I just want to be entertained!

That said, I do have one complaint about the genre that I’m sure many of you can relate to. The YA genre, like much of the publishing industry, seems to push aside diverse characters written by diverse authors or for diverse audiences.

Front and center of most YA novels (especially the popular ones) are protagonists who are white or racially ambiguous. Meanwhile, the characters of color, if there are any, are always in the role of the token friend.

When we finally do get our own stories, they’re centered around the struggles of our past. While I’m aware that these stories are important, and need to be told,  we are so much more than our hardships. Sometimes, I want to read books where the women of color get to fall in love, save the world or just be completely carefree as our white counterparts.

That’s why I’ve made it a priority to support YA books that feature complex people of color in the shining lead role, however few and far in between they are. Keep reading for 10 awesome YA books written with women of color in mind.

1. “The Sun Is Also A Star,” Nicola Yoon

The Sun Is Also A Star

Natasha is a 16-year-old Jamaican girl who doesn’t believe in fate—not that she has time to. Because her father got into a car crash, her family is 12 hours away from getting deported to Jamaica. So, she uses her time left in the U.S to make one last plea to save her family, and the life she isn’t ready to leave behind. Daniel, on the other hand, is a poet who wants to go against his parent’s wishes and pursue a career in the arts instead of academia. He’s been accepted into Yale and as a reward, his parents have given him the day off from school. What will happen when their paths cross?

Buy here.

2. “Tiny Pretty Things,” Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

Tiny Pretty Things

Tiny Pretty Things, described as Black Swan meets Pretty Little Liars, takes you into the cut-throat world of ballet. It follows three girls: a Black girl named Gigi White, a White girl named Bette and a half- Korean girl named June. Gigi just moved to town from California, has a heart condition that makes dancing life-threatening, and is having a hard time dealing with some of the shadiness from the other girls. Bette has been at the American Ballet Conservatory the longest of the three and she is a conniving narcissist who wants to get out of her sister’s shadow. June has also been at the conservatory for an extended length of time but feels like she’s always getting overlooked and must improve before her mom puts and end to her dream.

Buy here.

3. “Everything, Everything,” Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything

Maddy Whittier was diagnosed with severe combined immune deficiency at birth, which means that she can’t leave her house without getting really sick. Despite being confined to her home for 17 years, Maddy has made the best of her situation by reading and spending time with her mom and nurse, Carla. That changes when a cute boy named Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door and awakens feelings in Maddy that she’s never experienced. Everything, Everything chronicles their blossoming romance and the unique challenges that come along with Maddy’s disease, before a major twist at the end that will leave your jaw on the floor. Everything, Everything is being made into a major motion film that will star Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson.

Buy here.

4. “Poison’s Kiss,” Breeana Shields

Poison's Kiss

Marinda is a visha kanya, or “poison maiden,”meaning a young girl (in Indian folklore) whose blood and saliva are poisonous. Marinda has killed dozens of boys with just a simple kiss on the lips. Why? She receives orders from the Raja and believes that she’s doing good until she receives an order to kill a boy she knows, Deven. Nothing that Marinda knows about him says that he deserves to die, so the order has her questioning whom she is really serving. Once she start to pry, the life she knows slowly starts to unravel.

Buy here.

5. “The Kayla Chronicles,” Sherri Winston

The Kayla Chronicles

Kayla Dean is a self-proclaimed feminist and journalist who’s about to break the biggest story of her life. She believes that the Lady Lions dance team discriminates against girls with small breasts. With the encouragement of her friend, Rosalie, Kayla undergoes a makeover and decides to test her theory. She knows that she’s a great dancer, so if she doesn’t make the squad it’ll be because she’s not as well endowed as the other girls. She doesn’t get her story, though, because she blows everyone away with her audition and makes the team. Her views about feminism and womanhood are challenged when she realizes the girls on the squad aren’t who she expected them to be.

Buy here.

6. “This Side of Home,” Renee Watson

This Side of Home

Maya and Nikki, twins living in Portland, are on the same page about pretty much everything. They have the same goals; share the same friends; and even like the same types of boys. After graduation; they plan to attend the same historically Black college together, too. When their neighborhood gets revamped with new coffee shops and fancy businesses, Maya is thrilled, while Nikki feels like she’s losing the essence of their home. For two girls who have always been in sync about everything, the gentrification of their hometown makes them face the fact that they might not always see eye to eye and will have to stand on their own.

Buy here.

7. “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before,” Jenny Han

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Lara Jean is a teen girl who has had her fair share of crushes—one of them being her sister’s ex-boyfriend! When she gets over these feelings, she writes each boy a letter that she never intends to send and stores them under her bed. One day, she realizes that someone has sent out the letters and her life gets super complicated when she has to confront each of her past loves.

Buy here.

8. “The Secret of a Heart Note,” Stacey Lee

The Secret of A Heart Note centers on 16-year old Mimosa. She is one of only two aromateurs left on the planet. As such, she spends her days her mixing the powerful elixirs that help other people fall in love. There is a catch, though. If she ever falls in love herself, she will lose her very special and unique gift. When she accidently gives an elixir to the wrong woman, she must enlist the help of the woman’s soccer star son. With his help, she will undo her mistake and learn that you can’t always control whom you fall for.

Buy here.

9. “The Education of Margot Sanchez,” Lilliam Rivera

Margot Sanchez attends a prestigious private school paid for by her father, who owns two grocery stores. She’s shallow, self-centered and downplays her culture in order to fit in with her rich peers. When she steals her dad’s credit card to buy fancier clothes, he forces her to work in one of his stores. Though she’s embarrassed at first, she learns more about being grateful for what she has, loving herself, her family and her culture.

Buy here.

10. “Lucy and Linh,” by Alice Pung

When Lucy wins a scholarship to a prestigious private school, she soon learns that it’s a whole new world than that she’s been used to. For starters, a powerful trio named “The Cabinet” sets their sights on her, but she realizes that the powerful clique isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. As she works to fit in and live up to impossible expectations, she confides in her friend Linh, someone she knew before, through a series of letters. That relationship also gets tested as they realize they might not have much in common anymore.

Buy here.

These are just a few of the great YA books out there that feature smart, funny, flawed women of color. They show that we don’t always have to be strong or someone else’s support system. We can be the lead, the funny one, the math wiz and even the ballerina. Though they might be a little harder to find, it’s definitely worth putting in the extra effort.

TV Shows Pop Culture

5 Binge-worthy shows to get you through the holidays

Thanksgiving might be over, but the holiday season is still young, my friends. Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa are getting closer by the day and if there was ever an appropriate time to forego adult responsibility to have a binge-watching marathon, it would be now.

The only problem with that plan is that there are so many great TV shows —past and present—to choose from. It can be hard to decide just what to watch. If you aren’t careful, you might waste all of your time searching for titles instead of actually bingeing. Lucky for you, I’ve put together a guide to fulfill your binge-loving heart this holiday season.

Here are five great shows that you should binge watch this holiday season.

1. iZombie

Despite my love of “The Walking Dead,” most zombie-themed media makes me roll my eyes. The television/publishing industry is saturated with zombies shows and books—most of which are full of boring cliches. So, when “iZombie” premiered in 2014, I didn’t even give it a second look. I should have. iZombie is loosely based on a DC comic and is a fresh new take on an overdone premise. The show centers on Liv, a once-promising medical student. She had her entire life ahead of her…until one ill-fated night at a boat party where she is turned into a zombie. To survive, she must feast on brains of murder victims at the morgue she works at. But when she does, she inherits the victim’s memories that ultimately help her solve their cases. As ridiculous as it sounds, it’s really well written and super funny at times. If you haven’t already, you definitely need to check it out!

Where to watch: CW

Current Season: 2

2. The Flash

If you only have room in your life for one superhero show, then it should definitely be “The Flash”! Grant Gustin, of “Glee” fame, is Barry Allen: a CSI turned superhero speedster. It’s one of the few superheroes shows that doesn’t take itself too seriously and you’ll love it for that! Barry Allen is likable, a bit impulsive, and has a heart of gold. The show also has dazzling special effects—how else would they convey Barry’s super speed?—family values, romance, science, and humor. What more could you ask for?

Where to watch: CW, Netflix

Current Season: 3

3. Gilmore Girls

As you very well know, “Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life” recently premiered on Netflix. Set a few years after we left last saw our favorite mother-daughter duo, the revival shows us the state of Rory Gilmore’s life as a lost millennial, how Lorelai has fared as an empty nester and her complicated relationship with Luke. It also addresses the passing of Richard Herman, who portrayed Richard Gilmore during the original run. Of course, you could watch it as a standalone series, but you would definitely benefit from watching the original series first! Thankfully, all 8 seasons are available to stream on Netflix,

Where To Watch: Netflix, Freeform

Current Season: Completed

4. Friends

“Friends” is one of those shows that’s probably never going away. After all these years, we are still obsessed with the lives of Rachel, Joey, Chandler, Ross, Phoebe and Monica. And with good reason, too! Pretty much every millennial can all relate to dealing with sucky love lives, crazy bosses and just feeling like life isn’t going how you want. But as long as you have your friends by your side you know that everything is going to be okay! Spanning 10 seasons, “Friends” also has a ton of holiday-themed episodes to get you into the Holiday spirit.

Where to watch: Cable, Netflix

Current Season: Completed

5. Younger

“Younger”, based on Pamela Raymond Satran novel of the same name, is a show about a 41-year-old woman who must get a job at a publishing company after her husband’s gambling problem leaves her without enough money support herself and her daughter. She ends up landing the job, but she feels out of place among her young co-workers. That’s when Lisa’s friend convinces her to undergo a makeover so that she can pass for 26 and fit in with her peers. In addition to Sutton Foster as Lisa Miller, “Younger” also stars Hilary Duff (aka the best part of the show) as Kelsey Peters.

Where to watch: TV Land, Amazon Prime

Current Season: 3

Whether you have a break from school or work, it’s cold and icy outside, or you just need a new show to watch, check out these picks before the new year!

TV Shows Pop Culture

How the kick-ass women of “Once Upon a Time” are flipping the script

Editor’s note: Spoilers for seasons 1-6 of Once Upon a Time.

Like most young girls growing up,  I was obsessed with Disney princess movies. Living in a castle and falling in love with a Prince were my biggest priorities so as far as I was concerned. Cinderella, Snow White, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast had it made.

But that was then.

As I got older and learned about feminism, I couldn’t help but view the movies through a different lens. I noticed that a recurring theme in princess movies centered on the women being oppressed, whether they knew it or not, and living in the shadows of the men in their lives.

Belle and Beast’s relationship, for example, was a captive story in which Belle developed a case of Stockholm syndrome. In Snow White’s case, her misery was brought on by the fact that she was beautiful, furthering the notion that women only see each other as competition. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Considering that the stories had been largely adapted from tales that were written by the Grimm Brothers in the 1800’s I wasn’t exactly shocked that the stories reflect the antiquated values of that time.

What is shocking, however, was that these stories had been marketed to impressionable young girls.

That’s why Once Upon A Time’s (a fantasy-drama series on ABC) portrayal of strong, female characters has been like a breath of fresh air.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Once Upon A Time is a show that flips the script on the classic fairy tales that we know and love. For starters, it’s about fairy tale characters who were stripped of their real identities and brought to a town called Storybrook in our world by a curse cast by The Evil Queen. Aside from the Queen, the only person who knows what’s really going on is her 9-year old adopted son, Henry Mills.

Since its premiere in 2011, OUAT has been praised for its representation of strong independent female characters, which is a far cry from the source material.

Let’s start with Emma Swan, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. She was born in the Enchanted forest and shipped to our land through a portal shortly before the Queen cast her curse. As such, she grew up without her parents and in our world’s system for abandoned children. Her early life was riddled with hardship and she eventually ended up in jail for theft. Despite Emma’s rough upbringing, she managed to turn her life around. After she gave her son up for adoption, she became a bail bonds-woman, which is where we’re at at the start of the show.

Once Henry comes to find her, she eventually (after a lot of self-doubt) embraces her destiny to become the “savior” and break the Evil Queen’s curse.

Then there’s Snow White/Mary Margaret. Our world’s version of Snow White was a beloved school teacher, but in her world, she was a sword-wielding bandit in the enchanted forest who could kick anyone’s butt if needed. Her skills were acquired by necessity because she was being chased by her former step-mother, the Evil Queen, but unlike the original tale, it’s not because of vanity, but because she told one of the Queen’s secrets.

She went from being the heir to the throne to living in the wild, but she didn’t sit around and cry. She adapted and did what she had to do to survive. She eventually fell in love with a Prince whom she nicknamed “Charming,” and even had to save him a time or two.

There are other examples, like Red Riding Hood. Instead of battling hungry wolves, it’s revealed that she herself becomes the wolf at sundown. At first she’s terrified because she doesn’t understand what’s happening to her, but eventually, she stops suppressing her true self, she learns how to control her phasing.

These are just a few examples of characters who may not be perfect but are living life on their own terms.

Of course, feminism isn’t about female domination, but equality among both genders and Once Upon a Time has its fair share of powerful men, some good and some evil. Like the powerful trickster, Rumpelstiltskin (known in our world as Mr. Gold), who has a hand in nearly every conflict that arises. Or Prince Charming and the (later) reformed Captain Hook.

There’s also Belle, who is Rumplestiltskin’s lover. Long before the curse hit, she gave up her freedom in exchange for Rumple saving her father’s kingdom from Ogres in a war. Similar to the original tale, Belle always saw past the Dark One’s bad side and instead, focused on his good qualities.

But that didn’t negate the fact that he was a murderer who had little regard for human life and didn’t respect Belle enough to ever tell her the complete truth.

In the early seasons, she was really meek and forgave his behavior over and over again, which drew criticism from the viewers. But by the fourth season, she was finally able to stand up to Rumple and demand that he either change or she’s going to leave him. Belle’s evolution proves that even if you’ve been in an unhealthy relationship for years, it doesn’t mean that you have to stay in one. I think that makes her a great example of a strong woman.

Once Upon A Time is not the perfect representation of feminism, but what is? It’s a far cry from the Disneyfied tales that we grew up watching. Instead of women being depicted as meek and helpless, they’re right on the forefront. They’re not portrayed as perfect little damsels; they’re flawed, multifaceted woman who take responsibility for their mistakes and try to make good. Once Upon A Time shows that women are not just meant to be sheltered and protected. They  can be just as  strong, resilient, tough and determined as any man and therefore should gain the same respect. For that; it should be applauded.