The best way to learn about someone who is different from us is to spend a day in their shoes. Though the outcome is not 100% guaranteed, the hope is that we see that person behind the stereotypes and the labels.
NBC‘s new reality show, Home Sweet Home premiered last Friday. Created by writer/producer Ava Duvernay, it is a sort of gentler version of Wife Swap. Each episode follows two families who switch lives and homes for four days. While in the other’s house, they live as that family does and meet their loved ones. At the the end of that period, they meet for a meal and get to know those who they have temporarily shared their lives with.
Though the show could border on schmaltzy or the typical overly dramatic reality television formula, it doesn’t. It has a nice balance of tension and the predictable narrative that the audience has come to expect for the genre. What I found appealing was that it spoke to the humanity in all of us. The connection between the two families was the thing that drew me in. Despite their differences, they not only got along, but they became friends. The hook that will keep me watching was a statement by the father. He realized that it is possible to raise children that are happy and successful without forcing the traditional cis gender two parent structure down our throats.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
Home Sweet Home airs on NBC on Friday night at 8PM.
The Anne we are introduced to in Greeley’s novel is not the quiet, retiring character that exists in Austen cannon. She is vivid, intelligent, and curious. But because her imperious mother continues to believe that her daughter is unwell, she is prevented from the experiences that she would have had otherwise. Finally gathering enough nerve to break with Lady Catherine, Anne flees to London, where is she welcomed by her cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam.
When Anne’s strength has recovered, she begins to see what life can truly offer. But being that she has been locked away from society her entire life, she is unprepared for the not so polite underbelly of the season. This includes love with a person that she could have never expected. Anne must not only contend with forbidden romance, but with her mother, who is still determined to rein her daughter in.
I loved this book. This is how fanfiction is done. The balance between what the reader knows about Anne de Bourgh and where Greeley goes with the character is fantastic. I loved the LGBTQ twist that she adds, elevating what could be a predictable narrative into a story that the reader does not see coming.
*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday the latest from now on).
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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. Love sometimes makes us believe what we want to believe, regardless of how far from the truth it is. It is up to us to decide if we are devastated from the truth, or accept it and move on.
In Clueless, Christian Stovitz (Justin Walker) enters the scene, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is intrigued. Due to his parent’s divorce, Christian spends one half the year with one parent and the other half of the year with another parent. She immediately sets her romantic sights on him, but her attempts to claim him for herself ultimately fail. Like his literary predecessor, Frank Churchill, he is elusive, but in a different manner.
When her friends tell her that Christian is gay, Cher does not believe it. When they hang out at her house, he prefers to watch a movie than sleep with her. He is oblivious to her unsuccessful attempts to seduce him. Ultimately, they remain friends due to her appreciation of his love of art and fashion.
To sum it up: Not every love interest is going to walk into the sunset with the main character. Sometimes they are better off as friends. opening the door to not only growth for both characters, but for each to find a partner that can make them happy. Christian stands out because his relationship with Cher leads to her ending up with her step-brother, Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd).
P.S. Back in the 1990’s, the idea of members of the LGBTQ community being visible and open with the world was only beginning to find acceptance. Though Christian is just one character, his mere presence in this film is a significant one in the long and hard march towards equality.
This will be the last character post for Clueless. Come back next week to find out the next group of characters I will be reviewing.
It would be easy to wish, that as adults, the experience of our childhood have no effect on us. But the truth is that as much as we have grown up, who were and what we went through when we were young is always with us.
Growing up, writer Helen Fremont knew two certainties. The first was that she knew that her parents lived through and survived World War II, but refused to share the details with their children. The second was that what happened in their house stayed in their house.
Her new memoir, The Escape Artist, was published last year. Her story is that of long held secrets (her parents were Jewish Holocaust survivors from Poland), mental illness, and the heart breaking discovery that her father wrote her out of his will. Add in the questioning of sexual identity and you have a messy youth that has the power, if allowed, to destroy the chance of having a productive and happy adulthood.
I loved this book. Her story has all of the complications that life throws at us. It was at times, painful to read. I kept wishing that I could have given her the innocence and happiness that I knew when I was a girl. I’ve read more than a few memoirs over the past few years. This book is one of the best.
When we are young, many of us are told getting a college degree after high school is a must. There is truth in that statement. Without that degree, our career potential and possible income is stuck in the mud. But there is another truth that is often ignored. College is expensive and getting more expensive with every passing year. Our young people are graduating with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans that seems impossible to get rid of.
Writer Michael Arceneaux is one of these people. In his 2020 book, I Don’t Want to Die Poor: Essays, he talks about his own student loan debt and how it has affected his life so far. He discusses being both black and gay, trying to earn a living while making ridiculous payments, and going after your dreams.
I really loved this book. He is funny, charming, and authentic. I found myself laughing, crying, and knowing exactly what he was going through. I remember being in my twenties and having the college debt hanging over my head. Thankfully, it was relatively low and I had help in paying it off. Not everyone can say that.
The beautiful thing about art is that it is never static. It adapts to both time and culture, giving creators the ability to match what is going on in the wider world.
The new eight part mini-series CNN miniseries, History of the Sitcom, premiered on Sunday night. Each episode focuses on how the sitcom evolved over time and reflects on how it explores the different aspects of our lives from family to work to school, etc. Interviewing actors, writers, and producers, it delves into how this genre has shaped American culture.
I really enjoyed the first two episodes. The first one focused on the evolution of the family sitcom and how it has evolved from the white, suburban Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show programs that populated the television schedule of the 1950’s. The second one talked about how sex, sexuality, the LGBTQ community, and the different variations of gender have been seen by audiences.
Do I recommend it? Yes.
History of the Sitcom airs on Sunday night at 9PM on CNN.
Food is more than the physical nourishment our body needs to function. It can also be stand in for something else in our life that has not been entirely dealt with.
In the new Melissa Broder novel published earlier this year, Milk Fed: A Novel, Los Angeles transplant Rachel was raised Jewish, but those days are long gone. Outside of her job at a talent agency, the most important thing is her physical appearance. She counts calories like the world is ending and can be found after work at the gym, furiously working off whatever she eat earlier that day. Following up on her therapist’s recommendation, she cuts of all communication with her mother for 90 days. Since she was little, Rachel has been constantly reminded to watch what she eat.
Shortly after, she meets Miriam, the zaftig employee behind the counter of one of Rachel’s favorite frozen yogurt places. Miriam is more orthodox in her practice of their mutual faith and intent on making sure that her soon to be new friend is well fed. Taken by Miriam, Rachel goes on a journey of family, faith, sex, and learning to love yourself.
I loved this book. Instead of being one of those obnoxious skinny women who makes the rest of us feel unattractive, Rachel is human, complicated, and completely relatable. I loved her emotional trek as she opened herself up to eating, Miriam (and everything Miriam represented), and learning to let go of the parental criticism that makes itself too comfortable in our consciousness.
*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 movie Clueless. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the movie. 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. If you watch enough high school movies, you might get the idea that the popular girls are all versions of Regina George (Rachel McAdams). The surprise comes when we realize that what we see on film does not always match reality.
In the movie, Clueless, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is a modern teenage version of Emma Woodhouse, the heroine of the Jane Austen novel Emma. Living in Beverly Hills with her widower father, Mel (Dan Hedaya), Cher has a good heart, but her head is not always in the right place. She buts heads with her stepbrother Josh Lucas (Paul Rudd) and spends most of her time with her best friend Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash). When new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) arrives at Cher’s school, she sees an opportunity to do some good in the world via a makeover and a potential match with Elton Tiscia (Jeremy Sisto).
She will soon learn that what she sees, the rest of the world does not see. Elton would prefer to be with her than Tai. Tai is crushing on Travis (Breckin Meyer), who is equally into her. Christian, her new boyfriend (Justin Walker) is gay. The only relationship that works is out between her teacher Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Ms. Geist (Twink Caplan). Her pest of stepbrother is not only right about a few things, he is also the right boy for her.
To sum it up: Cher is an interesting character because unlike other similar characters, she is not a b*tch. She is may say and do things to hurt other people, but she does not do that on purpose. She just thinks she knows everything, when she clearly doesn’t. This makes her likable, even if she is completely frustrating to the audience and the people around her.
The difference between high school and college is night and day. Though we may not feel it right away, it is a transformation that will soon become obvious.
The 2001 film, American Pie 2, is the sequel to the 1999 film, American Pie. Jim (Jason Biggs) and crew have just finished their first year of college. Renting a beach house for the summer, they plan a end of summer party that will last forever in their memories. Along the way, shenanigans will ensue and a few lessons will be learned.
First of all, the fact that this film is twenty years old is mind-blowing. I feels like yesterday when I saw in the theater. This is TheEmpire Strikes Back of the franchise. It is raunchiest and funniest of the three original movies. It is also a love letter to that time in our lives when we are growing, but it is not felt until we can see it in hindsight.
My favorite scene, though it wouldn’t fly today if it was released, is the scene with the “lesbians“.
I loved the book. It is a joy to read. He is as delightful, entertaining, and authentic on the page as he is on social media. I first noticed him when he played Beverly Leslie, the frenemy of Karen Walker (Megan Mullally) on Will and Grace. Of the many side characters, I think I laughed the most when he came on screen.
It is a wonderful book and definitely worth the read.