TV Shows History Pop Culture

I love history, but I can’t stand historical TV shows

I’m a big history nerd. I’m not only a history major, but someone who collects and wears historical clothes, who owns figurines of historical figures, who collects books on my favorite parts of history, and who played history games throughout my entire childhood. Studying history has always been a huge part of my identity, and one I’m still happy to include in my life today. But it’s probably time to admit it: I hate historical TV shows. As a history geek, I should love them, but it’s hard for me to stomach a single one.

These shows forget that people in the past did, in fact, have fun.

I have one main reason, and it’s that these shows are straight-up boring. The lighting is too dark, the costumes too beige and ugly, and every word of dialogue is spoken in a raspy whisper. Everything is so bleak it’s almost impossible to follow. Try watching The Medici or The Tudors. I have difficulty figuring out anything that’s going on. And don’t get me started on the lighting in The Crown. 

A disheveled white man with a beard and a loose top.
[Image Description: A dark-haired white man in a dark shirt] via BBC. This is how Da Vinci’s Demons dresses its protagonists — in dull, disheveled, and downright ugly clothing.
And trust me, I won’t hear the excuse that real life was just as bleak back then. As a keen student of historical costuming, I know that a lot of historical clothing was bright, extravagant, and sometimes just ridiculous. I admit it’s not the biggest issue, but it still rubs me the wrong way. I feel like these shows forget that people in the past did, in fact, have fun occasionally. You rarely see any entertainment or festivities in these shows, unless they’re doomed to go horribly wrong. You almost never see any characters genuinely laugh in these shows. Sure, living in the past was terrible in a lot of ways, but people still retained a sense of humor.

I’ll give you an example. I once made the horrible mistake of attempting to watch Da Vinci’s Demons, which loosely follows the life of Leonardo da Vinci, and encapsulates everything I hate about historical television. The show portrays Leonardo as a tortured, edgy womanizer, despite the fact that he was almost certainly gay and, by all accounts, a very pleasant person. Throughout the show, he almost exclusively wears dark, tattered shirts and dusty trousers, whereas the historical Leonardo wore brightly-colored tunics and tights. It might sound ridiculous to the modern viewer, but personally, I think we should acknowledge the absurdity of history. And let’s be honest, sometimes it’s easier to relate to people who don’t take themselves too seriously.

A brightly colored Renaissance painting of a wealthy, finely dressed family.
[Image Description: a Renassaince painting showing a group of people dressed in beautiful costumes.]This is how people in the Renaissance actually dressed! Short tunics, leggings, bright colors…it may not be as sexy, but it’s way more fun!
There’s also a lot of unnecessary drama in historical TV shows. I’ll admit, this trend strikes me as odd because there’s already so much drama in real history. Shows like The Tudors, The Borgias, The Last Kingdom, and The Medici like to make a big deal out of political battles and sex scandals, and rarely imbue these plot lines with any humor or humanity. Drama is important for entertainment’s sake, but we can still try and make the drama seem somewhat human. Most relationships aren’t built on stolen glances and steamy affairs. Why not portray these love stories with affection, awkwardness, and a tiny bit of down-to-earth humanity?

History isn’t all epic battles and heaving bosoms, a lot of it is everyday life.

Even the grand, epic battles are a little too dramatic for my sake. They ignore the disease, the squalor, and the sheer tedium of real-life battles. It might not be fun to acknowledge the unglamorous parts of history, but it makes for better television. If we’re going to relate to these historical figures, we need to at least see them as human.


Most historical TV shows seem totally unwilling to have any fun with history. They refuse to acknowledge that along with the drama and sadness of history, there’s also comedy and absurdity and awkwardness. Historical people were real human beings. Sometimes they wore ridiculous outfits, joked around with each other, and made awkward mistakes. History isn’t all epic battles and heaving bosoms, a lot of it is everyday life. I certainly don’t think these shows are evil, but they do make history feel so much more distant and detached than it really is.

We should remember that history has plenty of dimensions, some good and some bad, some funny and some serious, some totally normal and some downright weird. It doesn’t help to glamorize or romanticize history, but it doesn’t help to dull it down either. Historical figures were people too, and our television should at least recognize them as such. Besides, it’s more fun that way anyway.

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The Ultimate Guide to Dating Love + Sex Love Advice

Here’s why your single friend always gives the best relationship advice

Not to toot my own horn, but I think I give excellent dating advice. However, if you were to ask me for my dating credentials, I would hand you a blank piece of paper.

For some, being serially single is not a choice. But for me, it’s a lifestyle.

I have been single for all of my adult life, and I thoroughly enjoy the independence and solitude—which I know freaks people out. While some single people date, I do not.

So how does this make me—and other serially single people—expert at giving dating advice?

Let me let you in on a few secrets of the trade.

The first secret is not actually a secret but a well-known fact: Almost all forms of content are about love.

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Even content that exists outside of traditional romance genres usually includes love and sex. For example, that action movie you just watched, was there a romantic arc in it?


Most movies, television shows, and books have provided blueprints for all kinds of relationships. A lot of these blueprints have helped me understand what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like.

I’ve also read more than a fair share of fanfiction. Honestly, when you asked for my dating credentials, I could have sent you the link to AO3 and, if you’ve ever read any fanfiction, you’d have immediately understood why this gives me so much credible dating insight.

Even being someone who grew up alongside the Internet has made many of us mini experts on random topics. Most of us didn’t necessarily seek this information out; it just appeared on our Tumblr, Twitter, or Instagram feeds.

Here’s the real secret: All relationships are the same.

Whether platonic or romantic, open or closed, monogamous or polyamorous, all relationships are made of the same ingredients. The dictionary definition of relationship describes the connection between people. And we all have experience with that. I may not date, but I do have lots of friends.

Some of my friendships have failed while others have thrived. This has helped me gain insight on communication, boundaries, and respect—insight that applies to both platonic and romantic relationships.

I’ve also watched most of my loved ones experience all kinds of different relationships. As you can imagine, being single gives those of us who are serially single plenty of free time to observe other people’s relationships—and, if you’re a Virgo like me, judge these relationships in order to perfect the advice we give to those who may (or may not) ask.

Just because your single friends haven’t dated anyone—casually, seriously, or at all—doesn’t mean we’re not familiar with the territory. All of our observations add to our dating advice credentials.

In fact, we’re kind of like therapists.

Because we’re removed from romantic situations, we have clarity uncolored by personal bias and experiences.

Most importantly, your serially single friends arguably have the most experience with prioritizing themselves and their needs. This makes us adept at keeping your best interests top of mind if you come to us for romantic advice.

We want you to be yourself and to love who you are. We will encourage you to take the time to learn more about your wants, needs, and goals before diving further into romance.

The best advice I can give as a serially single person is to try out being single. Being single has a lot of perks, the top of which is that it can give you the time, space, and energy to explore you who are.

I’m not saying everyone should be single. I’m just saying don’t knock it till you try it.

And, don’t worry. I promise I won’t say “I told you so” when you realize being single helped you become a better romantic partner.

Happy dating!

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TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

Why are plus size women always relegated to the comic relief sidekick?

We all know the trope. The main character is skinny, white, pretty. She can be goofy, but rarely at her own expense. Her love stories are the focus of the plot. She always has a funny sidekick, often a woman of color, and most commonly a plus-size woman. She’s there to provide emotional support and a witty one-liner or two. Think of Sookie in Gilmore Girls, who plays second fiddle to thin and quirky Lorelai Gilmore. Or think of Etta Candy in every incarnation of Wonder Woman. Even children’s shows, like Total Drama Island, Good Luck Charlie, and Austin and Ally repeat these tropes. Don’t fat women deserve better?

It’s nice to see fat women in the media, for once, but why do they always have to be funny? Almost every larger woman in TV or the movies is basically a walking joke. Sure, it’s gotten more diverse, but the representation itself has barely improved. Fat women are still relegated to comic relief or goofy sidekick. You might say we’re a long way from the Fat Monica gags on Friends, but that’s not true. Think about Insatiable, featuring Debby Ryan, which treats its main character as a joke until she loses weight. That’s the same formula, isn’t it?

Let’s consider some of the most popular plus-size actresses around now. Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson both broke into the mainstream years ago, and their popularity has rarely floundered. They’ve both been in dozens of TV shows and movies, usually playing comedic roles, which they do brilliantly. Rebel Wilson just recently had her first starring role in a romantic comedy, for which she garnered critical praise. Melissa McCarthy won an Academy Award for her dramatic lead role in Can You Ever Forgive Me? However, if you ask most people, they primarily think of them as comedic actors or side characters. Why is that? They’ve both shown that they have range, and both immense comedic and dramatic talent. They’ve both played lead roles. So why do we relegate them to comedic side characters when they’ve proven that they’re capable of so much more?

These two women are success stories, however. Most plus-size actresses never get the chance to expand into dramatic acting. Skinny comedic actresses have plenty of opportunities to break into dramatic acting, even if they’re not particularly talented actors. Skinny comedic actors also get totally different treatment. Actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Anna Kendrick are in plenty of rom-coms, but when they’re funny, it’s quirky and cute. They’re rarely the butt of a rude joke. Furthermore, these skinny comedic actors are able to break into dramatic roles with ease. Plus size actresses have to prove over and over again that they’re worthy of serious roles, whereas skinny actresses can easily transition from comedy to drama and vice versa. 

The problem I see with this is that plus size women constantly have to prove their worth to others time and time over to be taken even remotely seriously. They need to be funny and willing to make jokes at their own expense in return for our consideration. We require humor and self-deprecation from fat women, in return for the common human decency we all return. Fat women don’t need to put on a performance to earn their keep. They are capable of the same range of emotions and humanity as the rest of us.

Get rewarded for everyday activity. $10 sign on bonus.

We deserve more fat women on television, and not just as comedic sidekicks.

I want fat women in periodic dramas, with pretty dresses and dramatic love triangles. I want to see fat women in rom-coms, having meet-cutes and falling for handsome heartthrobs. Let’s see some fat girls in coming-of-have fantasy stories, as the chosen one, as the hero.

Plus size girls and women have every right to just as beautiful, dramatic, and tragic as their skinny counterparts. For once, I’d like to see a version of Gilmore Girls where a plus size mother and daughter are the protagonists, and get to be cute and quirky and fun. I’d like to see a fat Wonder Woman too.

A woman’s value should never be dictated by her size, and that’s true in television as well as in real life. Let the big girls be the heroes for once. They deserve it.

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Pop Culture

Need a few tricks to beat our constant need to bingewatch shows? You’ve come to the right place

Have you watched the latest episodes of Suits? Wait, you haven’t watched Game Of Thrones in your life? You gotta be kidding me. The latest episodes of Insatiable have released, let’s bingewatch immediately!

Do these situations sound familiar?

We’ve all ditched plans every now and then in favor of staying home to bingewatch shows. Some of us more so from the anxiety of not watching a show that the entire planet seems to have. Well, the Fear Of Missing Out On Telly aka FOMOOT is a real thing.

I recently realized that FOMOOT is a phenomenon that I have been dealing with right from childhood, a time when all the children in my class had access to cable and would discuss shows like Pokémon – there I would sit, clueless amidst all the discussion.

Fear Of Missing Out On Telly is a real thing.

Now, with multiple streaming options, it only means there is so much more content to be caught up on. I have often feared becoming an outcast and found myself succumbing to pressure, investing all my free time in bingewatching popular shows. If I haven’t watched as many documentaries or shows on Netflix as possible, will that mean I will be looked down upon? If I don’t bingewatch shows on weekends, will I have nothing to talk about on Mondays? These thoughts were persistent and had started to shake the peace inside of me. The constant anxiety was unsettling and the worst part about the whole ordeal was that I was constantly looking at the screen.

Why the fear, though?

It stems from missing out on something exciting and interesting happening elsewhere. After all, people tend to post their best pictures on social media making it look like they have the most fun life ever. This often leaves one with the feeling of FOMO.

If I don’t bingewatch shows on weekends, will I have nothing to talk about on Mondays?

I wanted to break the circle and so the first thing I decided was to not watch a single episode of Game of Thrones. Go on, judge me but it was my way of taking a step back and reclaiming my sanity and sense of calm. I slowed down. That is one of the most important aspects of releasing yourself from the grip of FOMOOT. We belong to fast-paced lives and are constantly working more than we are required to. Watching series, movies, and shows are a form of entertainment, so one shouldn’t have to work hard, get anxious, and stress out about having to keep up with them. I was spending eight hours at work already, I shouldn’t start a second shift with shows; there was no ‘me-time’ or ‘free-time’ that I could spend on myself.

I couldn’t have it all and I needed to accept this. There is no way to watch all the shows and movies, socialize, commit to family and self, and focus on work. I am only one person and I cannot do it all. I accepted this which refreshingly made life and things so much easier. The other thing that the current generation needs to realize is to learn to do one thing at a time. There is no need to multi-task and make a mess of all that you try to do, especially when multitasking has its own set of disadvantages.

It’s my way of taking a step back and reclaiming my sanity and sense of calm.

I also went for a few yoga and meditation classes that taught me to be more mindful of the things around me. I learned to invest my energy correctly and pay attention to the nicer things in life. Instead of expecting to be a rockstar, I learned to enjoy some of the regular boring things in life.

Another big takeaway for me was to never ditch plans with friends or family for a television show. Television cannot replace human beings. Always remember people come first and then everything else; prioritizing that is important.

There was a time when I bingewatched Suits and almost felt like a lawyer. It took me a while to return to reality. Bingewatching had that effect on me where I entered a world of fantasies and found it difficult to return. Then comes the post-series depression. Save yourself from the entanglement of television shows.

These steps might seem preachy but one must learn to slowly but effectively incorporate them in to feel the difference. Enjoy the process, let yourself relax, and give yourself the gift of learning to let go!

TV Shows Pop Culture

Pakistani morning shows are toxic for women, and drastically need change

Pakistani morning shows are the staple of morning routines of many a housewife. They’re promoted as fun and informative ways to start the day and are a popular form of Pakistani women’s entertainment, even when they don’t live in Pakistan.

But shows like Jago Pakistan Jago (Wake Up Pakistan Wake Up), Nadia Khan Show and Good Morning Pakistan are probably responsible for spreading the most toxic concepts and condescending ideas about what women should find entertaining and how they should be thinking.

Considering the popularity of these Pakistani morning shows and how big their viewer base is, they could be invaluable resources for empowering women, starting meaningful discussions, and encouraging the breaking of stereotypes. And yet day after day, what we find instead are rehashes of the same ideas, same topics and often outright offensive stereotypical ways of thinking.

The predominant themes among most Pakistani morning shows are marriages, appearances, and gossip. If a show is featuring makeup artists, you can safely bet they’re doing bridal looks. If they’re teaching exercise routines, it’s obviously so you can look good in time for your wedding. And if they’re having pseudo-innovative discussions, it’s about married life.

A recent trend is to call celebrities who have recently gotten married and get them married on set again. These people seriously sit through about 3-5-day marriage functions and relive their weddings for the sake of a morning show, sometimes more than one morning show. Dear God why? Was your real wedding that boring?

And then there are the very problematic and degrading contests. Cleaning and cooking competitions between maids and their employers for money. Contests where beauticians and makeup artists try to make up girls with naturally lighter skin tones in darker shades, because, as a rule, beauticians in Pakistan are never taught to match someone’s skin tone, but always to lighten it. So this was a real challenge. Especially when you’re pretending there are no dark-skinned girls in Pakistan and making light skinned girls wear blackface.

image description: two fair skinned Pakistani girls are wearing bridal dresses with their faces made up in shades much darker than their skin tone
[Image description: Two fair-skinned Pakistani girls are wearing bridal dresses with their faces made up in shades much darker than their skin tone.] Via Facebook
The excuse that the hosts of these shows use to justify this dumbed-down content is that most of their viewers are “uneducated women sitting at home”. This is apparently a good enough reason for them to be given mindless entertainment.

One episode of the morning show Jago Pakistan Jago was outright teaching parents that they shouldn’t trust their children, using justifications such as password-protected phones and dramatized videos of how children could be defying you when they pretend to go to group study or smoking in their bedrooms when they should be studying. The purpose of this? Creating mistrust and suspicion between parents and children to justify snooping.

If these morning shows really hold the impact and high viewership that they claim they do, why not take advantage of your platform to change the stagnant mentality of the so-called “uneducated housewife”? Instead of drumming it into their heads that their only job is to be the best wives they can be, these shows can encourage women and tell them that they are not in fact stuck in one role. That they can still be anything they want to be. That their lives don’t have to be all about makeup, weddings, gossip, and cooking.

The worst part is that while they peddle these mind-numbing topics to the masses, they claim they’re being helpful to them. Giving them access to tips and information that they can’t afford to get otherwise.

What they’re really doing is giving women who look up to them and loyally watch them and admire them the disservice of keeping themselves in their little boxes and making sure their minds don’t do that dangerous thing called thinking outside of the box.

Pakistan is a country that needs bold and forward-thinking women. It needs women who break stereotypes and traditions in favor of conquering the world. In a day and age where people strongly oppose the Aurat March (Women’s March) on International Women’s Day by calling women unethical, shameful and disgraceful for their willingness to walk the streets to protest their rights and fight against the unfair double standards women in Pakistan face every day, you can’t afford to feed women the kind of entertainment that keeps stifling their thinking.

We know change takes time. Morning shows that are by now the epitome of mindless entertainment can’t completely change overnight without losing a huge chunk of their audience. The shift will need to be gradual.

But a complete refusal to step outside the typical for fear of losing viewers is the main reason for the bad reputations of these shows. Don’t feed into the stigma of housewives only being capable of absorbing dumb entertainment. And don’t take advantage of that kind of thinking to promote shows and make money.

We as a nation can do better. We owe it to the strong, smart and courageous women our nation has.

image description: women holding signs and protesting at the Aurat March in Pakistan
[Image description: Women holding signs and protesting at the Aurat March in Pakistan.] Via Dawn News
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.

The Internet LGBTQIA+ Movies Music Books Pop Culture

The most iconic moments of 20gayteen – and why entertainment matters in normalizing minorities

Didn’t you hear? Word on the net is that 2018 has been canceled, replaced by 20gayteen, which sounds much cooler and much more diverse. Jokes aside, this year counts many amazing contributions in the entertainment industry by queer artists and about LGBTQ+ narratives. They were much needed and will continue to be if we are to win the fight towards de facto equality. Yes, the road to equal rights is still long, and entertainment is by far less important than laws and policies, but it’s a step in the right direction.

How does a marginalized group come to be tolerated, accepted and finally beloved in society? A phobia always originates from ignorance. We fear what is different, what is unknown. As long as something is conceptualized as Other, there will always be a certain fear that translates into hatred. The necessary normalization should take place in common spaces that are constant sources of information for society: the easiest way to change people’s minds is to do it through entertainment.

Films and television have an almost omnipotent power that is expressed in a vicious circle: they are reflection of our society, yes, but our society also mirrors what it sees in the media. Therefore, without further ado, here’s a list of relevant media events that might not be perfect, but that are definitely helping changing people’s minds little by little.

1. Janelle Monae and her Dirty Computer

Janelle Monae
[Image decription: Janelle Monae wearing a rainbow gown at an event]
Janelle has always been an outspoken activist. This year, she’s gone above and beyond to express herself in the most creative and artistic way, not only through her music, but visually as well, through videos and fashion choices. Her music video for Pynk is, quite literally, an ode to vaginas. It also teases a not-so-hidden jab at Donald Trump, with “pynk grabs back” written on panties. Iconic. Dirty Computer, her 46-minute dystopian sci-fi “emotion picture” companion to her album of the same title, is a metaphor for being Other in a white patriarchal heteronormative society that represses anything that is different. Janelle’s multiple identities conflict with the repressive societal standards: she is Black, wild, free, and in a queer polyamorous relationship with the character played by Tessa Thompson and a man. The futuristic visual vibes of her creations are always evocative and tell a story as beautiful as the lyrics.

2. Love, Simon

[Image description: two boys are about to kiss]

The film Love, Simon directed by Greg Berlanti, based on the book Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli was a real pioneer, as the first mainstream teen comedy about gay love. A globally acclaimed hit, it grossed $60+millions at the box office. The takeaway message from the film is that being gay really shouldn’t be a big deal in 2018, it should be normalized. See the hysterical sequence of Simon’s friends coming out to their families for being straight. In fact, the film was marketed not as a niche product for a specific audience of LGBTQ+ and allies, but as a story about love, the way all stories should be presented.

3. Hayley Kiyoko and her Expectations

[Image description: a woman sitting in a chair looks at a naked woman on the floor, who in turns look back at her]
Everything our Lesbian Jesus does, every interview, every social media post is a blessing for the LGBTQ+ community. Expectations is Hayley’s first album and it is impossible to pick a favorite song or music video that she released this year. From the Pride anthem Curious to What I Need ft. Kehlani, and the less known tracks like He’ll Never Love You. Sadly, until recently, Hayley’s audience was limited to queer communities online. Now she’s finally being recognized by the media and even won the Push Artist of the Year Award at the VMAs in September. It’s only fair she’s finally made it into stardom. After all, she’s the one who came up with the hashtag 20GAYTEEN.

4. Bloom by Troye Sivan

Troye Sivan
[Image description: Troye sitting sideways in an armchair wearing an unbuttoned saffron shirt and turquoise feathers on his head]

Troye’s second album is full of beats, but nothing will be as aesthetically pleasing as the Bloom music video. Glamorously vintage, steamy, visually daring and stunning, Bloom also challenges gender norms, with Troye proudly wearing make-up and clothes that are considered feminine by heteronormative patriarchal society. As usual, he’s having none of that. He dances in bright red lipstick, skirts, dresses and sings in front of elaborate flower arrangements, because boys should be allowed to wear whatever they feel like.

 5. Call Me By Your Name

[Image description: two boys are sitting at a table on a sunny day]
The film by Luca Guadagnino based on the novel by André Aciman got four nominations at this year’s Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and brought home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. Before you say that the age gap between Elio and Oliver is illegal, I’ll tell you that it’s completely legal in Italy, where CMBYN is set. This story had a powerful impact on thousands of people because it is a common tale about finding oneself in and through others. It’s about human connection and self-discovery, self-acceptance and – only at the end – romantic love, that just happens to be between two Jewish males. The film’s cinematography is one of the most beautiful of this decade, and it will make you feel nostalgic of places you’ve never been in a time you weren’t born yet.

According to you, what are the media events, films, videos, songs, television episodes, personalities, etc. that made 20GAYTEEN?Let us know by tweeting me at @ladymultifandom, and you could be featured in a future The Tempest article!

The queers thrived in the media in 2018. Let’s keep it up next year, shall we? Twenty-nineteen also rhymes with 20gayteen. Or maybe it’ll be twenty-bi-teen? And then, what, you ask? Twenty-gaynty anyone?

TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

My depression makes it impossible for me to watch dystopian sci-fi shows like Black Mirror and here’s why

I need to issue an apology to my best friend for that one time we watched an episode of Black Mirror.

She had already seen all available episodes of the show whereas I had avoided it. However this evening, we were having a grand old time showing each other videos and episodes of tv shows the other hadn’t seen yet and so when she suggested Black Mirror, I said yes. I had heard positive feedback, even if part of that feedback focused on how desolate the show was.

We watched just one episode and it wasn’t even that tragic relative to the others, but after this episode, I spiraled into a brief depressive crisis. Oh my goodness, I thought, there’s no hope for humanity, we’re all awful, we’re all doomed, what’s the point of even trying?

A birds-eye view of a black, white, and gray spiral.
Via [Image description: A birds-eye view of a black, white, and gray spiral.]
A good time was had by none.

I tend to respond very strongly to what I watch. Some might call it being overly empathetic to fictional characters. I am a sympathetic crier in response to those I see on the screen, and I get disproportionately mad on behalf of characters when it comes to injustice. So when a dystopian show like Black Mirror comes along, I take it perhaps a little too seriously. Balance that with walking the tightrope of depression and anxiety, and it turns out a show like Black Mirror and a girl like me do not make a healthy fit.

There are a lot of dystopian shows and movies out there of this vein, that in some ways act as a warning for humanity. A great degree of popular series tend to focus on the destruction of humanity. Maybe humans are needing to be shot into space because we have neglected this earth. Maybe a zombie apocalypse has broken out because we have neglected one another. Maybe robots have have finally taken over because we have neglected our own decision making skills. The message is consistent: we are destroying ourselves and our world and hurtling towards a doom of our own making.

The stories we tell are shaped by us as we are by them. The stories that resonate with us say something about us. If there is an uptick in the popularity of apocalyptic tales, maybe we really are more fearful of our own demise than ever before, and these shows act as a warning or a wakeup call.

Entertainment and art serve different purposes for different people. For some, these dystopian shows are a call to action. “Wake up!” they shout, “and do something to prevent this.” Or maybe they show the inevitable, and instead say “this is your future, deal with it.” Or perhaps people don’t see these shows as indicative of what’s to come at all, but just a way to be entertained.

When I take in fictional media about how we have doomed ourselves, I tend to walk away feeling dejected. The world is horrible, people are horrible, everything is horrible. These sentiments fuel my depression (as if it wasn’t already self-sustaining), and leave me feeling hopeless and empty. When this is the case, instead of taking these warnings as cues, I curl into a ball and wonder what the point is anyways. Maybe this is a sign of a weak mind or a weak will, but it’s where I’m at right now.

This rabbit hole is at the very least unproductive. Even if there is a part of me that feels like I need to do something to make the world better, it drowns in despair. As such, I tend to stay away from these dystopian stories of desolation. Until recently, I tended to beat myself up over this. Does this mean I can’t handle hard truths? There is a performance to everything, and perhaps the performance of being an intellectual and someone who cares about pain in the world means taking in inconvenient truths.

But what is performance without productivity? What is useful about the performance is it takes away from our ability to actually be useful?

Right now, for me, it comes down to productivity. If I am at a point right now where I need to fuel myself with hopeful stories instead of tragic ones, than that’s what I need to do. There is difference between what is performative and what is productive. It is imperative we understand the difference for each of us.

TV Shows Movies Pop Culture

Why isn’t Disney’s newest royal addition considered a “true” Disney Princess?

When I was little, I used to think that becoming a Disney Princess would be a dream come true. I would live in a castle, marry a prince, and sing about everything I did. Of course, even as a child, I knew only certain types of people could play the part, so I didn’t mind giving up the role to fictional characters. Then I discovered not all fictional characters get to play the part either.

The Disney Princess club is more exclusive than just being a matter of reality versus fiction.

How exclusive? To the point where some princesses will never get to be called a “Disney Princess.” This is the case with Disney’s newest character, Elena of Avalor of whom breaks some new boundaries, but has a few setbacks in the process. Here are three crucial differences that separate Elena from the rest of the Disney Princesses.

1. Elena will not have her own movie.

Instead, she appears on a TV show. Why does this make a difference? Every other Disney Princess has had her opportunity to shine on the big screen. Television shows don’t receive the same audience reception as movies with a larger marketing campaign. Their legacy will eventually die out with the end of the season. Even her appearance, meant to be less doll-like, has the drawn-on features of a cartoon. 

When I bring up the name Elena of Avalor in conversation, most people won’t know who I am talking about unless they watch Disney Channel. Elena has a target demographic of young girls and teens, but that target demographic is keeping her hidden from the rest of Disney’s fans.

2. Elena is the first Latina princess to be created by Disney.

The news of her arrival was a long-awaited moment for Hispanic and Latino communities to finally rejoice at their share of representation. Her series, inspired by Latin cultures, is another attempt at diversity by Disney, which has a reputation for preferring their best-selling white princesses. To say some were disappointed by her unveiling would be an understatement. The way her character was presented coupled with the absence of a movie left some fans feeling robbed. Rebecca C. Hains, the author of The Princess Problem, points out that Elena has an American accent while the older characters have Spanish accents

Box-office success is one of the biggest determiners for who makes it into the princess line-up. However, Elena has already proven her popularity and success with the company. Her identity stands for a large part of the population so, hopefully, Disney will attempt to make her just as large in the future.

3. This Princess does not have a prince.

Nor does Elena need one.

Her television series is meant to depict Elena as a good leader, independent from romance. The teenage princess is capable of taking care of herself with the help of magical powers given to her by the scepter of light, a weapon which can reveal what is behind doors or walls, but which also has consequences in using it. Traditionally, each Disney Princess, except Merida, has their princely counterpart, ready to save them from the evil of others. Elena fits in with the characteristics of a newer Disney; one in which the heroines are strong-willed, adventurous, and determined.

Although Elena did not fit into the Disney Princess group, she is making a name for herself through other means. Her release has still generated a lot of excitement around her character; in no way has she become invisible without her own movie. Regardless, her addition to the Disney family is a matter to celebrate more diversity and a new role-model for girls of every race and background.

As a fan of Disney, I do not pay attention to the franchises or the Princess lineup. What matters to me is discovering a character, which I can appreciate for who they are and what they stand for. I never thought including the word Disney would make such a difference to having the princess title, which is already a desirable trait. 

Disney Princess or not, Elena is still a princess in my mind.

Tech Now + Beyond

Here’s the big secret behind Netflix losing your favorite shows

If you’ve been on Netflix recently, you’ve probably been binge-watching Stranger Things and Luke Cage (we know we have). Over the last few years, the online television streaming service has produced original favorites like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards that have garnered as many, if not more, views than its traditional content. Yet Netflix made the news this week, not because of its original content, but rather changes that original content has wrought.

Jessica Jones Image

This week, the streaming blog Exstreamist announced that Netflix’s catalog had shrunk from 11,000 titles in 2012 to 5,300 today. Wow.

Analysts have attributed a number of different causes to Netflix’s shrinking numbers. Some say Netflix has tried to budget for popular titles (going for quality over quantity). Others say Netflix’s international audience is changing the game (Netflix has 13,500 titles internationally, but only those 5,300 in the US). And yet others believe that Netflix’s emphasis on original content is changing its business priorities.

Netflix has in fact announced its goal to move towards original, self-generated content in the coming years. Netflix CFO David Wells has even said, “You should expect us to push toward more 50/50 in terms of original exclusive content and licensed content.” By the end of 2016, Netflix is looking at releasing over 600 hours of original content. 600 hours!

Netflix Show Image

Though its been a little weird to see Netflix’s catalog shrinking (if you’re anything like us, you’ve watched your favorite show 800 times rather than pick a new program), we have to say that we’re a fan of Netflix’s original content.

Netflix’s original shows, especially favorites like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things, Jessica Jones, and the recently-released Luke Cage have been pretty game-changing. They’ve tackled difficult issues and done so tastefully.

Look at Orange is the New Black, for example: that show’s redefined the conversation about American prisons, incarceration, and race in the US. And it’s done so in a fun, and sometimes challenging, way.

Same goes for Jessica Jones, the show that centered around ideas of consent and harassment. The central theme of the series turned around asking women to smile, and it gave us a powerful example of a woman who said no.

This week, when Netflix released Luke Cage, it gave us another example of the difficult issues its willing to take on. Have a look at their promotional images and you’ll see why: their protagonist is a black man in a hoodie riddled with bullet holes. That’s saying something.

Luke Cage Image

While the media may be up-in-arms about Netflix’s shrinking catalog, we can’t say that we mind. At least, not if Netflix continues to produce such moving original content.

We’ll take another season of OITNB or a follow-up to Jessica Jones and Luke Cage (can you spell, The Defenders?) any day over ten seasons of reality television or soap operas.

TV Shows Pop Culture

Here’s why canceling the show “Mail Order Family” wasn’t enough

The internet erupted in outrage this week when NBC announced the production of a new “comedy” series about mail order brides. We were going to include a link for you to go and sign the petition to cancel the series (which, at the time of publication, had reached 9,885 of its needed 10,000 signatures), but NBC has already scrapped the idea. Looks like online protest can actually get stuff done sometimes.

mail order family

The half-hour comedy, titled “Mail Order Family,” would have followed the lives of a of a widower and the mail order bride that he purchases from the Philippines to raise his two preteen daughters. You know, slavery and human trafficking are GREAT themes for a comedy show.

The NBC show would have been written by “Superstore” writer and producer Jackie Clarke and produced by Ruben Fleisher and David Bernad. NBC decided that the show had potential because of its ties to real life: “We purchased the pitch with the understanding that it would tell the creator’s real-life experience of being raised by a strong Filipina stepmother after the loss of her own mother,” NBC said in a statement.

Yet, following great uproar from the Asian-American community and online protest, NBC has decided not to move forward with production. Those protests can largely be tied to online writers and activists, and to the protest started by GABRIELA USA (an alliance of Filipino women’s advocacy organizations).

poster protesting nbc show mail order family

The protesters at GABRIELA USA and other activists across the Asian-American community criticized “Mail Order Family” for its normalizing depictions of human trafficking, exploitation, and imperialism.

We have to say that we’d love to see more Filipino and Asian-American women in the entertainment industry, but that DEFINITELY does not mean we want to see them in stereotypical and harmful roles.

Two years ago, when ABC Family stopped production of Alice In Arabia after protests from Muslim advocacy groups, they joined the list of television companies approaching representation from the wrong angle.

Just because activist groups are demanding better representation of minorities on television, doesn’t mean that they’re looking for stereotypical representations. Not every Muslim actor on television should be cast as a terrorist, not every Latin@ actor should depict a drug-dealer, and not every Filipino actor should act a mail-order bride (and on, and on, and on). But, television companies SHOULD make room for minority actors in their shows.

poster featuring a silenced mail order bride

As a culture that consumes so much of our media from television (Netflix binges and television-series marathons alike), the characters and situations that we see on TV determine our expectations for the world. If every Filipino we see on TV plays a mail-order bride, then we’re going to grow to expect every Filipino in real life to be one too. As we like to say, representation determines expectation.

Our media needs more diverse voices and varied stories. Straight white men can’t be the ones telling all of our stories. But when we get stories about more diverse characters, they need to be written tastefully and non-stereotypically. We want to see Black doctors, Muslim teachers, Latin@ activists, LGBT lawyers, women journalists, and everything in between, not the stereotypes our culture has already taught us.

Keep an eye out for shady comedy series’ as shows return this fall. Just because “Mail Order Families” is off the table, doesn’t mean media companies aren’t going to be producing similarly awful shows. Try having conversations with your friends about programs that ARE doing a good job recognizing marginalized groups (we recommend Netflix’s Luke Cage and Jessica JonesGrey’s Anatomy–so many diverse doctors!, and Jane the Virgin, but there are so many more).

After all, representation defines our expectations, so go ahead and raise your standards.