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Archive for the ‘The South’ Category

Re-Plotting History: Omission, Race, and “The Vampire Diaries”

In race, teen soaps, The South on December 5, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Aoife Ní Dhochartaigh

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES

It’s no secret that The Vampire Diaries is obsessed with history. I suppose it’s kind of a given on a show about immortality. The past informs the present: the characters constantly react to, reference and repeat history. Mostly, of course, they engage with their own, private histories. Stefan thinks of the people around him in terms of people from his past: Caroline as Lexi, Elena as Not-Katherine, Klaus as Damon (once upon a time.) Damon casts his sexual partners as himself, and himself as Katherine – reliving that particular shitstorm over and over – which has resulted in some pretty horrific abuse over the course of the show.

And one of the great things is that TVD references its own history – the history contained within the show – in really effective ways. They don’t need to tell us that history is cyclical, because they do such a good job of showing us. The dialogue and visuals contain so many parallels that the repeated settings and lines become hugely meaningful, especially to dedicated viewers like me. (To name but a few: Wickery Bridge, Elena’s porch, the whole ‘always’/’right now’ thing.)

Despite this historical obsession—both American history and the show’s own history—the story TVD tells is structured by one clear and egregious absence: slavery. Instead, the hideousness of slavery keeps being suppressed, and keeps manifesting in gross, awful ways: compulsion, sire bonds, the relentless economics of the doppelganger body. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Nashville”: This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Them. Or Is It?

In class, gender, Nashville, The South on October 15, 2012 at 9:46 am

Firstly, welcome back Tami Taylor! I mean, Connie Britton! You are the best. Secondly, Nashville premiered this week on ABC–a show we at GLG have been super-excited about since the upfronts came out. So we wanted to take a little time to ponder the new series, its leading ladies, and its representation of the South.

What did you think about the Nashville pilot?

Phoebe B: I enjoyed it in part because I sort of love country music and really adore Connie Britton. I am also intrigued by the politics side of things, which appear ridden with mystery and corruption and family drama. I also was intrigued by what seem to be a criticism of youth culture in the music industry and the ways in which female musicians, for example Rayna (Connie Britton), are pushed out in favor of autotune and youth. I also worry, however, about the women in competition with each other aspect but also the show seems to figure that competition as perpetuated by the men of the music industry. Basically, I am excited for more Nashville but also wary of certain aspects of it.

Sarah T: As a fellow lover of Connie Britton and of Nashville (pretty much my entire paternal side of the family lives there), I’m rooting for this show to knock my cowboy boots off. So far I like, but do not love it — but hey, it’s only one episode! The show’s original music is great, and I’m excited to see the relationship and rivalry between the two female leads develop. I am also somewhat confused about whether or not Nashville owes Country Strong a cut of its royalties, since it has the exact same plot minus the older star’s alcoholism. And there are no baby birds in boxes. YET.

Chelsea B: Like both of you, I mostly watched because I adore Connie Britton and had my fingers crossed that her Nashville character would just be Tami Taylor in sequins and with a slightly different drawl. Rayna wasn’t quite that, but she also wasn’t a total disappointment. I also am bummed that the central storyline revolves around building competition between two female leads. I comfort myself (as a long-professed Taylor Swift anti-fan) by imagining that Hayden Panettiere’s character, Juliette Barnes, is actually a direct portrayal of Taylor Swift, despite claims to the contrary. I’m also into the political intrigue, even though Rayna’s daddy issues driving a lot of that conflict are already a bit wearisome. And I’m totally with you on the Country Strong comparison, ST! Leighton Meester could only have improved this show.

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