Throwback Thursday: Tiny House Hunting (2014-2017)

Not everyone needs to live in a 3000-square-foot home with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, a garage, and a huge tract of land. For some, smaller is better.

The FYI reality show Tiny House Hunting (2014-2017) follows homeowners as they search for properties that are a downgrade from their current or previous homes. As with its sister show Tiny House Hunters, the subjects of each episode are shown several homes that potentially fit their needs. By the time the credits roll, they have chosen their new residence.

Though the narrative is standard, what I find interesting is the realization of how small some of these properties really are. It becomes a question of how much one truly needs and what is important in terms of material goods.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. May your meal be joyous and filling.

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Throwback Thursday: My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance (2004)

When we find the one that we will (hopefully) spend the rest of our days with, the hope is that we will get along with our in-laws. While that is the wish of every couple, that is not always possible.

The 2004 reality show, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, is based on this premise. Hosted by Claudia DiFolco, Randy Coy was then a teacher in her early twenties. She was introducing her fiance, Steven Williams, to her family. She believed that he was a fellow contestant. What Randy did not know is that “Steven” was played by actor Steven W. Bailey.

His job was to be as big an asshole as possible. If Coy was able to convince her family that their relationship was real, she would have won $500,000. But in order to do that, she had to play her part.

Obviously, the audience is in on the secret. Bailey was one heck of an actor, making everyone involved squirm. While it was mildly entertaining, I have to question why anyone would put themselves and their loved ones through this, just for some extra cash?

Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward no.

Throwback Thursday: Escaping Polygamy (2014-Present)

For most of human history, marriage has not been between one man and one woman. Polygamy was a common practice. Though it is not the norm these days, there are still men who are married to multiple women at the same time.

Escaping Polygamy is a reality show that has been on Lifetime’s schedule since 2014. It can also be viewed on Hulu. The program follows three sisters from Salt Lake City who escaped a polygamous group. Their goal is to help as many women as possible to do the same. They come from the FLDS and AUB Church, where polygamy is the norm and young girls are often married off to men who are sometimes many years their senior.

Though this is reality television, I feel like it is more “real” than other programs in the genre. What these women are doing (if they are being truthful) is allowing these girls to live on their own terms and not be forced into second-class citizenship.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

The title of “classic” is sometimes thrown around without considering whether or not an IP is worthy of the distinction.

The 1982 film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, is one of those films that is deserving of that honor. Directed by Steven Spielberg, it is the story of a young boy, Elliott (Henry Thomas) who befriends a lost alien. Drew Barrymore plays his adorable younger sister, Gertie. When the authorities find out about their outer space visitor, Elliott must find a way to help him get home.

This is one of those movies that has become a cultural touchstone. We all know and hopefully, we all love it. What makes it special is the story of the character’s friendship and loyalty, in spite of their differences. It is a lesson that after forty years, is still timely and universal.

Do I recommend it? Of course.

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Throwback Thursday: Pinocchio (1940)

Disney has been part of our collective culture for almost a century. The characters and narratives have become part of who we are as individuals and as a society.

The original animated film Pinocchio (1940) is one of the company’s earliest classics. Based on the fairy tale of the same name by Carlo Collodi, it is the story of a man who wants to be a father and a puppet named Pinocchio who wants to be a real boy. Guided by a Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio must learn right from wrong and how to trust his instincts.

Though the message is a bit simplistic, it certainly sticks. What makes the movie for me is the story of family and growing up, two subjects that we can all relate to. Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday: Toy Story 2 (1999)

In a film series, the second is the most important. It is a litmus test of two important questions: 1. Is there an audience appetite for the sequel? and 2. Is there enough of a narrative to warrant a second movie?

Toy Story 2 (1999) is the second tale within the Toy Story franchise. After Woody (Tom Hanks) is stolen by a toy collector, it is up to his friends to save him. While Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) works on the outside to free Woody, Woody makes friends on the inside. Jessie (Joan Cusack) is a cowgirl and a part of the wild west line of playthings.

I enjoyed Toy Story 2. It has everything that made its predecessor great and then some. It is funny, entertaining, and suspenseful, and the addition of the new characters provides enough stretch to make the story plausible.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

Throwback Thursday: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

The legend of King Arthur is a potent one. A warrior who saves his kingdom from evil, leads a nation into prosperity and creates a democracy within his governing body is an ideal that we all strive for.

One of the newest iterations of the tale is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017). Charlie Hunnam plays the title role. The purpose of his journey is to free the land and take the throne from his Uncle Vortigern (Jude Law).

This is one of those movies that looks good on paper. The cast is top notch and the narrative is a twist on a story that we all know. The problem is that it is bad. It also, like many films, has a lack of female characters, as compared to the number of male characters. I was only able to stomach a few minutes of the film before I had to turn it off. It is essentially unwatchable and boring.

Do I recommend it? No.

Throwback Thursday: Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999)

For all of the strengths of a superhero, there is a weakness. It is therefore expected that their antagonist will use that weakness against them at some point.

The 1999 film, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me is the sequel to Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) uses a time machine to travel back to the 1960s to steal the mojo of Austin Powers (also Mike Myers). With the help of CIA Agent Felicity Shagwell (Heather Graham), Austin has to both save the day and get his mojo back.

I love this movie. Myers took what made the first movie the brilliant comedy that it is and explodes it tenfold. It is quotable, hilarious and one of the most perfect spoofs I’ve ever seen. Though it’s been years since I’ve seen it, I can still quote it.

The issue I have with the film is two-fold. Though Felicity is on par with Austin both sexually and as an agent of the law, she is also a love interest. Though it is par for the course for female characters, it kind of takes off some of the shine of her badassness for me.

There is also Fat Bastard (again, played by Myers). Though I am perfectly aware that this is a satire, I cannot overlook that he is a punchline merely because of his size.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Throwback Thursday: Legends of the Fall (1994)

There is a unique and complicated relationship between siblings. You may love one another, but that does not mean that you always get along or agree.

The 1994 movie, Legends of the Fall is the story of the three Ludlow brothers: Tristan (Brad Pitt), Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and Samuel (Henry Thomas). Led by their father, Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins), they live in the wilds of Montana in the early 20th century.

After Samuel is killed in World War I, the dynamic between Tristan and Alfred changes. They both fall in love with Susannah (Julia Ormond), Henry’s fiance. As they compete for her heart and their future, their formerly tight bond starts to fray.

Nearly 30 years on, it has become a modern classic. It is beautifully shot and tells the story of an ordinary family living through extraordinary times. While I appreciate the humanity of the Native American characters (who in the past have only been shown as 2D stereotypes), I dislike the portrayal of Susannah.

As usual, her sole role is that of the love interest and the reason for the division of the male characters. She does not have any agency or any other reason for existing within this narrative. Which is a shame, because Ormond has proven herself as a capable actress.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Throwback Thursday: Ricky Nelson: Original Teen Idol (1999)

Though it may seem that the concept of the teen idol is an old one, it is actually rather new in terms of cultural history.

The 1999 TV movie, Ricky Nelson: Original Teen Idol, tells the story of the late actor/singer Ricky Nelson (Gregory Calpakis). The younger son of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson (Jamey Sheridan and Sara Botsford), Ricky was a performer from a young age. Starring with his family first on radio and then on television on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, he was sold to the then young audience as a heartthrob. Then as he aged (as many young performers experience), his name fades from the headlines and he has to deal with no longer being in the spotlight.

Though the narrative is by the book, the story is familiar to anyone who has seen the trajectory of many young actors and singers. After being in the limelight and dealing with everything that comes with that while growing up, they become an afterthought or a piece of nostalgia when the newer model comes along.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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