Category Archives: Feminism

Roseanne and The Conners Character Review: Darlene Conner

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series  Roseanne and The ConnersRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

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 of 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 Roseanne and The Conners to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

Having a sense of humor is a good way of getting through life. Having a sarcastic sense of humor is a great way of getting through life. On Roseanne and The Conners, Darlene Conner (Sara Gilbert) is sarcastic, creative, tomboyish and not afraid to speak her mind. The second daughter and middle child of Roseanne and Dan Conner (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman), Darlene is very much her mother’s daughter.

In her early teens, Darlene is very much a tomboy. As she grows up, she becomes very vocal about her art and her beliefs in animal rights and veganism. She also starts to date David Healy (Johnny Galecki), a young man who is usually the compliant one compared to his girlfriend. After a tumultuous time in Chicago, (where Darlene is in art school), she and David become pregnant, get married and bring their daughter, Harris into the world.

Though it appears that David and Darlene are headed toward their happy ending, their relationship ends in divorce. After Darlene looses her job, she has to move back to Lanford to live with her parents.

To sum it up: It would have been easy for the writers to create the typical compliant teenage girl. But Darlene is far from typical or compliant. Partially due to her sarcastic nature, she stands out from the pantheon of sitcom daughters. That is why audiences have loved her for three decades.

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Anne Brontë is 200!

bardessdmdenton - author- artist

If she were more perfect, she would be less interesting

Finally

it’s Anne’s own Brontë200:

Today is the 200th Anniversary
of Anne Brontë’s birth, January 17, 1820!

A very special day as

she is subject of my novel …

Above all, through the well-measured words of Denton, a young Anne emerges more and more. She frees from the web of religiosity with which she traditionally is painted, [and] tries to leave something good in the world through her measured but deliberately targeted writing. A different Anne at the beginning of the book, timidly in love; then resigned to accept her own death with dignity and fortitude. A meaningful homage to the memory of Anne Brontë.

~ Maddalena De Leo, Italian Representative of The Bronte Society

STC98097 Portrait of Anne Bronte (1820-49) from a drawing in the possession of the Rev. A. B. Nicholls, engraved by Walker and Boutall (engraving) by Bronte, Charlotte (1816-55) (after) engraving Private Collection The Stapleton Collection English, out of copyright STC98097 Portrait of Anne Bronte (1820-49) from a drawing in the possession of the Rev. A. B. Nicholls, engraved by Walker and Boutall (engraving)…

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Jagged Little Pill Broadway Musical Review

Family is complicated. Life is complicated. Bring those together and you have a complicated reality.

The new musical, Jagged Little Pill (based on the groundbreaking 1995 album by Alanis Morissette) takes place in suburban Connecticut. The Healy family appears to be picture perfect. Steve Healy (Sean Allan Krill) works long hours in the city, creating an emotional rift between himself and his family. His wife, Mary Jane (Elizabeth Stanley) does everything she can to be the perfect wife and mother. But an off stage car accident and a prescription for post surgery pain killers has led Mary Jane down the road to addiction.

Their son, Nick (Derek Klena) is everything a parent would wish for in a teenage son. His collegiate path seems to be headed straight to the Ivy Leagues, but Derek is not sure if this is the best option for him. Adopted daughter Frankie (Celia Rose Gooding) is unsure about her place in her mostly White community. Focused on social justice and getting into a relationship with her best friend Jo (Lauren Patten) is only the beginning of her struggles.

With a book written by Diablo Cody, Jagged Little Pill is more than the standard jukebox musical. The narrative includes thorny issues such as addiction, sexual assault, finding your sexuality, growing up, etc. But instead of being written as if standing on a soapbox, Cody naturally integrated the issues into a story of a family going through a rough patch.

Though the impression is that one needs to be a fan of Morissette and her music to enjoy the show, that is not necessarily true. It helps to know the songs, but not knowing them is not a deterrent for seeing and enjoying the show. I don’t see Broadway musicals very often, but this (for me at least) is one for the books.

I will warn that some long time Morissette fans might be a little put off by change of some lyrics. The changes were only made to match the narrative and are still the same songs that we have known and loved for 25 years.

I absolutely reccomend it.

Jagged Little Pill is playing at the Broadhurst Theater in New York City. Check the website for showtimes and ticket prices.

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Filed under Broadway Musical Review, Feminism, Music

Will the Equal Rights Amendment Be Ratified in My Time?

In 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment was introduced to Congress. It is designed to level to playing field for all Americans, regardless of sex. For nearly 100 years, this amendment has been bouncing around the halls of power and throughout the public consciousness.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. In the century since American women were given the right to vote, our achievements are nothing short of mind blowing. But those achievements only came by way of the hard work of generations of women.

As of this week, it appears that the ERA is one step closer to becoming the law of the land.

We live in a country and a world in which women are still second class citizens. For all of our achievements, there is still a long way to go until we are truly equal. Ratifying the ERA and writing it into the Constitution would go a long way to ensure that American women are truly and completely equal in the eyes of the law.

The question is, will our lawmakers have the balls to finally stand up and do what is right? Or will they put their put their heads in the sand and pretend that its still 1950?

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Roseanne and The Conners Character Review: Becky Conner

*For the foreseeable future, some Character Review posts may not be published every Thursday as they have in the past.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series  Roseanne and The ConnersRead at your own risk if you have not watched the show.

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 of 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 Roseanne and The Conners to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.

The path of life is riddled with potholes, missteps and walls. The question is, do we let them stop us or do we find a way to move on? On Roseanne and The Conners, Becky Conner (played by both Alicia Goranson and Sarah Chalke) is the oldest child of Roseanne and Dan Conner (Roseanne Barr and John Goodman). The audience initially meets Becky when she is a young woman. Like many girls in their preteens and early teens, she is interested in clothes, makeup and boys. But though she can act like a brat at times, she also takes on a good amount of household responsibilities.

The challenges come as Becky begins to grow up. She becomes a full on rebellious teenager, complete with underage drinking and dating boys whom her parents disapprove of. One of these boys is the Mark Healy (the late Glenn Quinn), her future husband. Their marriage is emotionally and financially rocky, ending in his off screen death.

In her 40’s, Becky is single, dealing with addiction issues and working as a waitress at a local restaurant. When she gets pregnant after trying to be a surrogate for another woman, Becky decides to keep her baby and raise her daughter with the help of her family.

To sum it up: Becky Conner is a survivor. She has been through a lot, but has come out of the other side stronger, smarter and tougher. It is that message of resilience that appeals to audiences and why after two decades, fans still come back to this character.

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Why are the Oscars Still So White and Male?

This time of year, the buildup to the Oscar nominations is palpable.

The Oscar nominations were announced earlier this week.

Not surprisingly, most of the nominees are white and male. Among the major acting nominations, Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) is the only performer of color who was nominated. In the directing category, Bong Joon-ho (Parasite) is the only non Caucasian to receive the nomination.

Not that those who were nominated don’t deserve their nominations, but there is something to be said for representation. Two of my favorite movies from 2019 are Little Women and The Farewell. Both were directed by women and both were brilliant films. Little Women has 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The Farewell has a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet, in the major categories, did not receive their due.

I don’t know what is in the water in Hollywood. But it feels like like a slap in the face. It’s as if the powers that be are either afraid of diversity or don’t want it. They are content with the status quo which holds up their place in the world.

It’s 2020. It’s time for women and people of color to be seen and given the opportunity to succeed in Hollywood. But that will only happen when the Academy finally admits that they have a problem with diversity.

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Throwback Thursday-Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (2016-Present)

For the most part, late night TV has been a boys game. Only a handful of women have been able to be successful in the genre.

Samantha Bee is one of them.

Her late night talk show, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee premiered in 2016 on TBS and has been a smash hit ever since. Combining news with satire, social commentary and a biting feminist wit, Bee presents the news of the day with a perspective that I believe is sorely needed.

I am huge fan of this show. Bee is smart, inquisitive and incredibly funny. This show is the perfect antidote to the staid and sometimes scary news that tells the story of our era.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Feminism, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Howards End/Sanditon Review

Classic and beloved novels are easy targets for stage and screen reboots. The question that fans have to ask is if these reboots hold up to the text.

Last night, the new adaptations of Howards End and Sanditon premiered on Masterpiece.

Based on the E.M. Foster novel, Howards End is the story of the intermingling of three families in the early 20th century in England. The Wilcoxes are upper class, the Schlegels are middle class and the Basts are lower class. With a cast led by Hayley Atwell and Matthew Macfadyen, this story of cross-class differences and secrets is bound to delight audiences.

I have a confession to make: I have heard of the book, but I have never read it. That will soon be remedied. In the meantime, I was completely taken in by the first episode and as of now, I plan on completing the series.

Sanditon was started by Jane Austen just months before she died. An eleven chapter fragment of a novel, respected television writer Andrew Davies continued where Austen left off. Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams) is part Elizabeth Bennet and part Catherine Morland. The daughter of a large landed gentry family from the country, Charlotte is young and eager to spread her wings.

When an offer comes her way to visit Sanditon, an up and coming seaside resort, she immediately says yes. But Sanditon is a different world than the world she grew up in. One of the people she meets is Sydney Parker (Theo James, who played the infamous Mr. Pamuk on Downton Abbey), the brooding and sometimes rude younger brother of the couple who she is staying with.

For many Austen fans, Sanditon is a what-if experience. With only eleven chapters completed, we can only guess what the completed novel would have looked like. As an adaptation, so far, I have to say that I am impressed.

Like his previous Jane Austen adaptation, Davies knows when to stick to the script and when to add a little something extra.

What I liked about the series so far is that unlike most Austen heroines, Charlotte’s main reason for going to Sanditon is not to find a husband. Most of her heroines (with the exception of Emma Woodhouse) are motivated to marry because of family pressure and/or financial needs. Charlotte goes to Sanditon to see the world and experience life outside of the family that she grew up in. She is also curious about the world and shows interest in certain subjects that would not be deemed “appropriate” for a woman of this era.

I really enjoyed the first two episodes. It is a love letter to Austen fans and contains plenty of Easter eggs if one knows where to look.

I recommend both.

Howards End and Sanditon air on PBS on Sundays nights at 8:00 and 9:00 respectively.

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Filed under Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, Jane Austen, Television, TV Review

With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace Book Review

To be a woman in a man’s world requires one to have a backbone. To be a woman of color in a white man’s world requires one to have much than a backbone.

Nikki Haley was formerly both the Governor of South Carolina and a state legislator. She was also the US Ambassador to the United Nations. In her new book, With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace, Governor Haley writes about her perspective on politics, national events, and international events.

Though I don’t agree with her on everything in regards to politics, I admire her ability to be who she is and stand up for what she believes in. She is thriving in a professional world in white men still dominate. Women, especially women of color are still too much in the minority.

My problem, however, is with the book. The first third of the book is too slow for my taste. There were moments when I was ready to throw in the towel. It was in the second third of the book when it finally picked up.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History, Politics

Little Women Movie Review

For 150 years, readers have read and adored Little Women. Louisa May Alcott‘s timeless tale about the March sisters is a universal story of growing up, sisterhood and finding out who you are.

The new adaption, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, was released a couple of weeks ago.

Told in a non-linear narrative, the film starts as the girls are setting out on their own paths in life. Meg March (Emma Watson) is juggling marriage and motherhood. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) has a day job as a private tutor and sells her stories to local newspapers. Beth March (Eliza Scanlen) remains content to be at home. Amy March (Florence Pugh) is in Paris and living with Aunt March (Meryl Streep) while she is pursuing her dream of becoming a painter.

The movie then flashes back and forth, from the present to the past. Growing up in New England during the Civil War, the girls are being raised by their mother, known as Marmee (Laura Dern) while their father fights for the North. Early in the story, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothee Chalamet) introduces himself to Jo. He is literally the boy next door and becomes Jo’s best friend.

Though some fans might disagree with Gerwig’s choice of narrative, I think it was a wise choice. Given the number of filmed adaptations of this beloved book, she chose to make her adaptation stand out because of that unorthodox narrative.

One of the things that impressed me about the film is how Amy is no longer a brat. In most adaptations and in the eyes of many fans, Amy March is disliked because she is spoiled and remains so throughout the book. But in this adaptation, Amy is spoiled like many youngest children are spoiled. But she also grows up into a woman who knows she wants, in spite of a world that would hold her back.

Anyone who has ever watched a film adaptation of their favorite book are likely to be disappointed. Changes to either character or narrative are certain. But Gerwig remains true to the text, retelling this beloved tale with a modern spirit and a reminder of why 150 years later, Little Women is a cherished novel.

I absolutely recommend it.

Little Women is presently in theaters.

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