Category Archives: Television

Thoughts On The 50th Anniversary Of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was a staple of the education of American children for nearly fifty years.

Premiering on February 19th, 1968, the program originally aired on what would later become known as public television. Unlike other children’s programming, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood spoke directly to its young audience. Neither overly dry/educational or over the top cartoon-y, the program was and still is the model of children’s educational television.

Like many members of my generation, I remember watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as a young child. Fred Rogers did not feel like a much older adult, he felt like a friend who encouraged those watching to think, to feel, to be curious about the world around them and to ask questions. I feel like multiple generations of Americans have a level of emotional intelligence that they would have not developed, had Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood not been a part of their early years.

Fred Rogers passed away during my final year of college. As an adult, I’ve come to believe that one of the markers of adulthood is loosing someone or something that was integral to your childhood.  His passing was a subtle reminder that the shift from childhood to adulthood was coming rapidly.

While Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is no longer on the air, the program still lingers in the hearts and minds of the multiple generations of American children whose childhood was shaped by the program.

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Jennifer Aniston Is Single Again. And The Problem Is…..

Romantic relationships break off all time. It’s just a fact of life.

It was announced this week that Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux are going their separate ways after two years of marriage.

I don’t get what the problem is with their divorce. Yes, they are actors who are in the spotlight, but they are first and foremost human beings who, for whatever reasons (which are frankly, no one’s business but theirs), decided that the marriage was not working out.

The issue that I have is that is we, as a culture, still have a problem with a woman being single. When a man is single, no one blinks an eye. But when a woman single, it’s like the world is ending. She must have something wrong with her and the only way to fix her is to find a man.

I could go on, but I think the ladies on The View says it all. Skip forward to the 2:09 on the clip below.

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Throwback Thursday-The Ernest Green Story (1993)

To be the first in anything is to become a hero. It is also a difficult journey that tests the strongest among us. Ernest Green is a part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were chosen to desegregate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also the first African-American student to graduate from  the school in 1958.

In 1993, his story was told in The Ernest Green Story.  Morris Chestnut played the title role in the television movie.

I feel like this is one of those movies we should all see, regardless of race or ethnicity. America in 2018 is not the same America of the late 1950’s. But we are also, not so far away from the period. If nothing else, this film is not only a reminder of how far we have come, it is also a reminder that the battle for civil rights and true equality still needs to be fought.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under History, Politics, Television, Throwback Thursday, TV Review

Trumped

There is nothing so important to a legit democracy than the ability to openly satirize and mock those in power.

Donald Trump has been an easy target for satire since he announced he was running for election. Now that he is unfortunately sitting in the most powerful office in the country, the target has become larger and easier for satire.

That being said, I give you Trumped, starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, reprising their roles of Max Bialystock and Leo Bloom from The Producers.

I will caution that one does need to know the overall plot from The Producers to get some of the jokes, but the skit also stands alone as a moment of political satire that is absolutely needed during this time in our country’s history.

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Brave Book Review

One of my favorite quotes, famously spoken by Gloria Steinem is as follows:

“The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.”

Actress Rose McGowan is beyond pissed. She is furious at the way women are treated, especially women in Hollywood.

She recently released her new memoir, Brave. The book is a balls to the wall, complete reveal of her life up to this point and her anger at those (especially men) who abused her and took advantage of her. In the book, she describes two cults: the one was born into and the Hollywood cult that assaulted her and sold her as a marketable product.

This is one of the most mind-blowing books I’ve read in a very long time. Both a memoir and a manifesto, Ms. McGowan is not only pissed for everything she has been through, she is pissed for every woman who has been shoved aside or thought as a sex object because she is a woman.

I absolutely recommend it. I would also go as far to say that it is one of the best books of 2018 so far.

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Throwback Thursday-One Day At A Time (1975-1984)

In the 1970’s, the world was changing. Women were starting to throw off the chains that kept their foremothers in literal slavery and were blazing new paths of their own making. Just as he did with his previous series, show runner Norman Lear looked to the changing culture to add to his list of hit shows.

In 1975, One Day At A Time premiered. On the air for nine years, the premise of the show centered around Anne Romano (Bonnie Franklin), a single divorced mother raising her teenage daughters by herself. Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) is the drama queen. Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli) is the tomboy. The man in their lives is Dwayne F. Schneider (Pat Harrington Jr.), their building’s super who becomes one of the family.

For it’s time, One Day At A Time was quite progressive. It was and still is very funny. It was also a show where the lead characters were mostly female and not dependent on the male characters to define who they were. Beloved by television audiences, it was one of the staples of the television schedule while it was on the air.

I recommend it.

 

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As With All Good Things, Once Upon A Time Must End

Today, it was announced that this season will be the last for Once Upon A Time.

I have two gut reactions to this announcement. Logically, I know that seven years of being on television is pretty good. Many shows don’t make it past the first season, much less seven seasons. It has had a good run. Perhaps in fifteen or twenty years there will be a nostalgia for the show and it will be brought back just as many of popular television shows from the late 1990’s/early 2000’s are successfully being rebooted for today’s audience.

My other reaction is sadness, to be honest. The genius of this program is to take the very basic fairy tale characters/narratives and twist them into characters/narratives that the audience has not seen before. When it premiered in 2011, it was different, exciting and felt new and old at the same time. I’ve been a fan since the pilot and have not missed an episode.

We have until the end of the season to say goodbye. I have a feeling there will be quite a few tears shed before, during and after the series finale.

To ease my tears and yours, I give you the last minute of the end of last season. It never fails to bring a smile to my face.

 

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Thoughts On The 30th Anniversary Of The Wonder Years

Looking back, adolescence is the defining era in our lives. It the stage that starts us on the path, for better or for worse, to adulthood.

The Wonder Years, premiered 30 years ago today.  In the late 1960’s, Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) is on the verge of his teenage years. Layered into the narrative is the memories of Kevin as adult (Daniel Stern) told via voice over. As Kevin grows up and the late 1960’s turns into early 1970’s, he experiences the joys and heartaches of young adulthood with his best friends Paul (Josh Saviano) and Winnie (Danica McKellar), who is his first crush/first kiss/first romantic everything.

What makes The Wonder Years stand out and still holds a place in the hearts of the television audience thirty years later is that Kevin’s experience is incredibly universal. Everything he went through, we all have gone through or will through. That is why we are still talking about this show 30 years later.

 

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We’ll Meet Again Review

There are two types of people we meet in our lives. One type is a blip on the radar, we don’t think twice when they are gone. The other type is the person who influence in our life is so so ingrained in our psyches that we never forget them.

On Tuesday, PBS aired their new show: We’ll Meet Again. Hosted by veteran journalist and anchor, Ann Curry, the focus of the show is to reunite the subjects with someone whom they have not seen in a very long time.  The subjects of the pilot were two adults whose childhoods were overshadowed by World War II. In California, a young girl of Japanese-American descent is forced into the internment camps with her family simply because her parents immigrated from Japan a generation before. She wants to reunite with the school friend who only saw her friend and did not see color.

A young Jewish boy is living in Shanghai, with his parents. They are refugees from Nazi Germany. He becomes close with his father’s business partner and his business partner’s wife. They have a daughter and emigrate to Australia after the war. He wants to reunite with their daughter, who was a baby at the end of the war.

If nothing else, this show speaks to the our shared humanity. It is also a reminder that friendships and emotional connections can last a lifetime, even when our lives shift and we begin to move away from the people we were once close to.

I recommend it.

We’ll Meet Again airs Tuesday Nights at 8PM on PBS. 

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Thoughts On The Aziz Ansari Sexual Allegations

Since news broke last week that comedian and actor Aziz Ansari was accused of forcing himself on a woman, I have to be honest that this accusation is not so clear-cut for me.

By reputation, Mr. Ansari is far from the likes of Matt Lauer and Harvey Weinstein. He comes off as a genuine nice guy. I was honestly surprise when the woman making the accusation, known as Grace, seemed to putting him in the same category as Lauer and Weinstein.

My interpretation of the story is that it was a date gone horribly wrong. For whatever reason, Mr. Ansari believed that his accuser wanted to sleep with him, despite the verbal and non verbal cues that she allegedly says she was giving him.

The lesson I think we need to learn here is two-fold: first is that we have to stop teaching our daughters to only be caregivers. There is nothing wrong with that lesson, but we also need to teach our daughters that it is ok to speak up. Women were given voices for a reason, we need to use them. The other issue is that we need to teach our sons, especially when they get to age when they start to go on dates, on how to read the cues, both verbal and non verbal from their date. If their date is obviously uncomfortable or saying that they are not interested in having sex, our sons need to learn to read, understand and respect the wishes of their dates.

While the accusation against Mr. Ansari is not as extreme as others, it is still symptomatic of much larger cultural issue of how we treat our daughters compared to our sons and what we teach our daughters compared to our sons. To find a cure, we must diagnose the problem based on the symptoms. If the symptoms in this case are the treatment and education of our daughters compared to what their brothers are receiving, then the cure is equal treatment and respect for both sexes.

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