Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel Character Review: Joyce Summers

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Read at your own risk if you have not watched one or both television series. In this series of character reviews, I will strictly be writing about the characters from the television series, not the 1992 film.

There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

To be the parent of a teenager is not easy. Especially when your teenager is different from their peers. On Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joyce Summers (Kristine Sutherland), is Buffy Summers’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) single mother. Joyce hopes that moving to Sunnydale will give both of them a fresh start. But while Buffy is caught up in her new identity as the slayer and Joyce focusing on creating a life for them, their relationship becomes strained.

When Joyce finally comes to understand who her daughter is, she is understandably shocked. She gives her daughter an ultimatum: stay home or leave. Buffy make the decision to leave her mother’s house and Sunnydale. After spending time in Los Angeles, Buffy returns home and learns the difficulties her mother faced without her.   But underneath those difficulties, Joyce has never stopped loving her daughter.

Joyce appeared for the last time in the fifth season. She has not one, but two daughters. Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) is the key placed in human form so it can be protected by Buffy. As far as anyone knows, Joyce has always had two daughters. When she tragically dies from cancer, she leaves two heartbroken daughters and a circle of characters who are grieving as much as Buffy and Dawn are.

To sum it up: Being a parent requires love, patience and understanding. Joyce Summers embodies all off these qualities, even if she is not always the perfect parent. Despite her initial misgivings and frustration about her older daughter’s abilities, Joyce never stopped loving her children. If nothing else, that is what anyone would wish to receive from their parent?



Throwback Thursday-Total Request Live (1998-2008)

Music and television were made for each other.

For a decade, Total Request Live (1998-2008) or TRL for short, was a staple of MTV’s schedule. Hosted by Carson Daly for most of the original run, TRL was sort of American Bandstand for the MTV generation. Guided by the fans, the crux of the show is the countdown of the most popular music videos of the day. In addition to the countdown, artists and actors would stop by, often to promote their latest project.

For a generation, TRL was appointment television. Airing just after school had ended, it gave us a chance to show our love to our favorite artists and perhaps act like a crazy teenage fan-boy or fan-girl.

I recommend it.

The Wartime Sisters: A Novel Book Review

Sometimes, the relationship we have with our sibling is a complicated one. Just because we came out of the same womb and have the same parents does mean that we are close to our siblings.

In the new book, The Wartime Sisters: A Novel, by Lynda Cohen Loigman, Ruth and Millie are sisters from Brooklyn in New York City. But they don’t always see eye to eye or get along. Ruth is quiet and bookish. Millie is outgoing and popular. Labelled by their parents and the community around them, both internally resent each other for the treatment they receive. As adults, their relationship is fragile, seething with unspoken emotions.

While World War II rages on, Ruth lives with her officer husband and children in Massachusetts.  When tragedy strikes and Millie has nowhere else to go, she travels to Massachusetts with her young son to live with Ruth’s family. With the sisters living in close quarters, old tensions rise to the surface as new faces challenge both Ruth and Millie.

This book is amazing. The sisters are clearly drawn, allowing the reader to empathize with both Ruth and Millie. The world around them is equally drawn in a way that pulls the reader in and does not let go until the final page.

I absolutely recommend it.

When One Door Closes, Another One Opens (I Hope)

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about an unexpected curve-ball.

The curve-ball was confirmed yesterday. While I won’t go into details, I will say that the curve-ball was not as shocking as I thought it would be.

It has been said that when one door closes, another opens. I hope that is the case.

Change is scary, period. I don’t know about anyone else, but I thrive on the familiar and the comfortable. I need that schedule and that routine to get me through the day. But the reality is that we don’t grow until we step out of our comfort zone.

I am a believer in fate, that everything happens for a reason. I also know the value of hard work.

This curve-ball creates an opportunity. Though to be honest, the curve-ball is anxiety inducing, I know that I will come out of this stronger and better than I was before.

Thoughts On The Michael Cohen Hearing

When we were children, we were taught that lying is bad. There are consequences for not telling the truth.

Today, Michael Cohen appeared before Congress for the second time. He appeared to be contrite and from a certain perspective, he appeared to finally speak the truth. The question is, was he really telling the truth or was he again lying to save his own skin?

He stated that you know who is a cheat, a liar and a con man. The 2016 election was not about the genuine belief that you know who could govern this country, it was a marketing ploy to increase business. The payments to Stormy Daniels were directed by you know who to ensure that the affair would stay a secret until after the election. You know who also knew about the Clinton emails before they were released to the public.

Both Republicans and Democrats wanted the truth, at the end of the day. While the Republicans focused on the fact that Mr. Cohen lied during his previous hearing, the Democrats seemed more interested in the facts.

Though I am a Democrat and proudly so, I have to agree with the Republicans in this instance. If Mr. Cohen lied previously, can Congress and the American people trust that he is telling the truth this time? Even if he is finally telling the truth backed up by cold, hard facts, he is still going to prison for three years while his former client is free as a bird.

As a fellow Jew, I am sure that Mr. Cohen is aware of the Al Chet prayer we chant during Yom Kippur. Al Chet is basically a confession, where we admit to our creator that we have sinned during the past year. Where he is going, from my perspective, it will take more than chanting Al Chet to be absolved of his sins.

P.S. Mr. Cohen also lost his law license yesterday.  It’s not karma, but it’s a step in the right direction.


A River Could Be a Tree: A Memoir Book Review

Religion and faith can be seen by two different points of view. One point of view is that religion and faith provide a community, comfort and an understanding of how the universe works. But other point of view is that religion and faith are divisive and rigid; forcing us to judge our fellow human beings by their religious identity and not as an individual.

Writer Angela Himsel‘s childhood could have never predicted the direction her life as an adult took. In her memoir published last year, A River Could Be a Tree: A Memoir, Ms. Himself tells her story. Born to a conservative German-American Christian family in Indiana, she was raised to believe that salvation would only come if she followed the Bible to the letter of the law. With the future of her soul in mind, Ms. Himsel decided to spend part of her college years in Israel. She expected that living in the Holy Land would bring her closer to her Christian faith. Instead, the experience opened her eyes to a world of different perspectives and people. The time in Israel led her ultimately to a conversion to Judaism and a new life as a Jewish woman living in New York City.

This book is a marvel. It’s a marvel because it speaks of the power of faith and the idea where we start in life does not always dictate where we go in our later years.

I recommend it.

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love Book Review

In home DNA kits are all the rage these days. Whether they are used for serious genealogy research or just to satisfy one’s curiosity about their family’s past, millions have taken these tests. But what happens when the DNA tests reveal that the person you have referred to as Mom or Dad are not your parents?

This is the basic narrative in writer Dani Shapiro‘s new memoir, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love. In 2016, Ms. Shapiro decided on a whim to take a DNA test. She was shocked to discover that the man she knew as her father was not her biological father. This revelation led Ms. Shapiro on a journey to uncover decades old family secrets, the identity of her biological father and most importantly, her own identity in the process.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I enjoyed reading it because it was thrilling to read. It starts with a huge question hanging over the reader’s head and does not let go until the final page.

I recommend it.

What Men Want Movie Review

Though the Feminist movement has made great strides over the decades, there is still much work to be done.

In the new film, What Men Want (a gender flip of the 2000 film What Women Want), Ali Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a sports agent who is expecting to receive a  promotion. When she does not receive that promotion, which goes to a colleague who is Caucasian and male, she is not pleased to say the least.  During an outing to celebrate a friend’s upcoming wedding, they visit a psychic who gives Ali a questionable tea to drink. This drink allows Ali to hear men’s thoughts. She uses her new skill to advantage, but at what cost?

Yes, one could argue that this film is formulaic. It could also be a bit shorter. But, it speaks to the very timely issue of respect and equal pay within the workplace, a very real situation that women deal with everyday.

Do I recommend it? I could be leaning toward yes.

What Men Want is presently in theaters. 

Thoughts On the Potential Defunding of Planned Parenthood

Among 1st world countries, the United States ranks 50th in terms of healthcare coverage.

Last week, the US Department of Health and Human Service released its final draft to revise the final Title X rule Family Planning program. This change is designed to hurt, not help millions of Americans who rely on Planned Parenthood.

While Conservatives and those on the right obsess over abortion and Planned Parenthood’s family planning services, they overlook the fact that the organization does much more than family planning. The organization provides much-needed healthcare to those who are unable to afford to visit their local doctor.

You know who claims that he is there for the voters. But the reality is that he is there only for his base and his supporters. If he actually backed up his promises with actions and research, he and those in power who would happily defund Planned Parenthood would realize that they are hurting the voters they promised to help.

The job of a politician, regardless of whether they are representing voters on the local level or the national level, is to be responsible to all voters. This includes the voters whom they disagree with and more importantly, the voters of limited income who rely on the government when they are unable to support themselves.

Carnegie’s Maid Book Review

Between 1850 and 1930, millions immigrated to America, looking for a better life and a brighter future.

Clara Kelley was one of them. She is the heroine in Marie Benedict’s 2018 book, Carnegie’s Maid. In her native Ireland, Clara knows nothing but poverty and hunger via the great potato famine. The daughter of farming family, she has nothing to lose when she emigrates to America. But she has everything to lose when she takes the identity of another woman with the same name who died on the voyage to America. The job she has taken is that of lady’s maid to the imperious mother of steel magnate and future philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Mrs. Carnegie knows what she wants in a lady’s maid and makes no bones about firing girls who do not meet her exacting standards.

Intelligent and very capable, Clara becomes friends with her mistress’s son. As they become closer and their friendship becomes something more, the harder it becomes for Clara’s secret to stay a secret. Will her true identity ever be revealed and will the consequences of that revelation be?

I loved this book. Ms. Benedict has a way of immediately drawing her readers in and telling the stories of women whose stories would normally not be told. Though the narrative has a Jane Eyre-ish undercurrent, it does not end the way I would have expected the narrative to end.

I recommend it.


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