In Television, TV on March 7, 2014 at 7:22 am
On television, nerdy girls are few and far between. In what is clearly a wish-fulfillment fantasy hatched in the depths of writers’ rooms populated by men who are former social outcasts, the dude-nerds of shows like Freaks and Geeks, The O.C. and Friday Night Lights tend to spend their time around the popular girls of their dreams—Sam and Cindy, Seth and Summer, Landry and Tyra.
When nerdy girls do make an appearance on TV, they’re typically sassy, confident pixies, boasting about their in-depth knowledge of Neil Gaiman’s graphic novels while clad in ironic t-shirts and edgy haircuts. That is an awesome way to be, but these characters hardly seem like they’ve logged time at the very bottom of the social totem pole. It’s doubtful that Anna from The O.C. has ever sat by herself in a cafeteria while jocks fired spitballs at her through a straw. (Not that I would know anything about that, ahem ahem.)
The Fox sitcom Super Fun Night, starring Rebel Wilson, attempts remap the nerd landscape by featuring a trio of women with genuinely awkward personalities. Kimmie (Wilson) is a naïve young lawyer whose idea of a romantic Valentine’s Day surprise is an elaborate restaging of Phantom of the Opera. Her roommates are prim and proper Helen Alice (Liza Lapira) and gruff, sporty Marika (Lauren Ash). The show follows the friends as they decide to abandon their trusty group motto—“Always together! Always inside!”—and venture into the world of bars, karaoke clubs and other venues that exist outside their apartment.
In girl culture, misogyny, Pretty Little Liars on February 27, 2014 at 6:52 pm
The four of us sit in the grass by the farmer’s market. Together we form a baseball diamond, a compass rose.
Chelsea wears a printed sundress. Her short hair is perfectly mussed; her mouth is a red cupid’s bow. When I first met her I thought she was so glamorous that it was a little intimidating. As it turns out she’s fiercely loyal and easy to trust, the kind of friend who’ll usher you into the kitchen when you’re feeling sad to cook you a bowl of pasta. She’s equal parts sass and Southern sympathy as Melissa acts out scenes from last night’s party.
Melissa’s proud and fiery and mostly legs, equally comfortable pitching a tent in the middle of a rainstorm and spinning across a dance floor with a perfect cat’s-eye. I love listening to her tell stories because she always acts out all the parts. Now she waves her arms over her head, forms her hands into claws and growls.
Phoebe mock-recoils with a laugh. She’s warm and poised with bright blue eyes, quick with comebacks and questions and bear hugs, and sure about the things she loves in a way that makes her habits contagious. Spend enough time with her and you won’t be able to understand how you ever lived without over-salting your salads and speed-walking for at least an hour a day.
As for me, I’m fresh off a breakup. My bangs are awkwardly short because I was too depressed to tell the stylist when to stop cutting. It’s an appropriate look, as I am pretty sure I’m having at least three identity crises simultaneously. But together with these three women, for what seems like the first time in weeks, I don’t feel like crying.
In Streaming, TV, Viewing Habits on February 24, 2014 at 12:02 pm
When I ditched cable–just a short six months ago–I was nervous. After all, I study TV. What would I miss? How would I keep up with conversations about contemporary TV? What if I couldn’t get access to my favorite shows? What would life be like without Tuesday night Pretty Little Liars dates or Monday nights with Castle? Sure, maybe this all sounds overly dramatic, but I was seriously anxious.
Nonetheless, after a big cross-country drive and a move from Portland to Atlanta, it felt like a good time to give streaming television a shot. After all, cable was and is super expensive and we were aiming to save money. Moving cross-country is by no means cheap and I have a deep and abiding love for British murder mysteries like Midsomer Murders and Inspector Lewis and the fantastic Canadian Murdoch Mysteries, so streaming seemed liked a win-win. I mean, I already had a Netflix subscription and Amazon Prime and I could get Hulu Plus. Surely, I figured, I wouldn’t miss too much.
After six months without cable or any live television, it is safe to say there is something lost in watching certain television shows the day, or sometimes week, after they air. However, there are very few shows that meet this criteria for me: Scandal, Pretty Little Liars, and perhaps Drop Dead Diva are truly the only shows I watch that fall into this category. When I had cable, I made appointments with these shows each week, sometimes with friends and wine and sometimes with just me, myself, and I (and usually wine).
I miss the sense of real-time community that unfolds as viewers discuss the latest twists and turns via Facebook and Twitter. Plus, the knowledge that people across the country (or at least in my time zone) are all tuning in at the same time to do the same thing has long intrigued me. Even if I couldn’t see them, I knew they were there, and there is something comforting about that sensibility.