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Erin Watches: Steven Universe, Army Wives, The Late Show September 27, 2015

Posted by Erin Ptah in Erin Watches, Works Roundup.
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Steven Universe: Latest episodes are good episodes. Was really into “Sadie’s Song”. I love how they avoided the trope of “shy person doesn’t want to dress up and go out on stage and perform, but their friends push them to do so, and they’re amazing and end up loving it!”, instead going with “shy person doesn’t want to dress up and go out on stage and perform, and you shouldn’t push them to do so, because their comfort zone is valid and deserves to be respected.”

Plus, Steven got to wear a skirt and heels with little rosettes, and it wasn’t played for laughs or presented as Subversive and Important, it was just treated like any other outfit a boy might wear. Well played, show.

And “Catch and Release” confirmed so many Peridot theories. She’s tiny! She’s basically imprinted on Steven! She’s scared and confused and thinks basically every human thing could be a weapon, which makes me wonder what exactly they’ve been told about Earth back on the Gem Homeworld. Bonus worldbuilding: her dialogue lets us know what Gem swearing sounds like.

Some people are thinking “omg she’s actually a child” now, but she didn’t act like a child in her first appearances — she acted like a competent, calm, almost robotic technician. I’m sticking with the theory that she wasn’t designed to have much personality, and is haphazardly developing one as an attempt to adapt to this crazy new environment she’s been thrown into. Which explains why she’s so darn feral.

And I bet she’s responding to Steven because he has the Rose Quartz gem. Even if Rose was a rebel/traitor, she’s still high-status enough that Peridot (like Pearl?) has an automatic/instinctive reaction to this Important Gem.

Army Wives has made me tear up at least three times now. It’s a series with a lot of grief and trauma built into the premise, and it’s really good at portraying them.

Portraying other things, it can be…schmaltzy? Overly rosy? One of the earliest storylines involves a couple nearly splitting up, until the woman gets pregnant, and they decide to stay together for the baby…and this totally works, they’re still happily and relatively-non-stressfully married six seasons later. That’s the kind of thing I mean.

You kinda have to suspend your disbelief about the goodness and morality of the US military as a whole while watching. None of the characters are highly-placed enough to change who our country goes to war with, but most of them don’t argue much about it, either. And there’s heavy representation for Christianity, none at all for anybody else.

On the plus side: lots of female friendships, women doing a variety of highly-skilled jobs (a lawyer, a cop, a nurse practitioner, a colonel!), one recurring lesbian couple plus a few other queer characters popping up in the background, a realistic (afaict) character with diabetes, and traumatic brain injury, and HIV. Also, a general aversion to “manufactured drama caused by two people being unable to speak to each other like adults.” So many conflicts get resolved by the characters doing some mature reflection on what they’re really upset about, and then talking it out!

The last season shuffles out most of the regulars and tries to get you invested in a new main group. No surprise it got canceled after that. But the replacement goldfish were likeable enough that I’m glad I watched through to the end, and non-invested enough that I’m not too distraught about the cliffhangers they got left on.

Okay, I’m gonna say it: I’m underwhelmed by The Late Show.

A fair amount of it is just TCR on a bigger stage — the intro-to-the-Pope segment the other night was exactly what “Stephen” would have delivered, except that he would have called it “Better Know A Pope” — which is all well and good. And there’s been at least one sketch that was basically an Exit 57 throwback.

But I’ve started skipping the interviews unless I care what the guest has to say. Never did that with TDS, TCR, or the Nightly Show. (Although if either Trevor Noah or Larry Wilmore decide to have Donald Trump as a guest, I will skip that like a flat rock on a long pond. Good lord, why would you give that man any more publicity?)

I mean, come on, Ted Cruz complains about how same-sex marriage isn’t in the Constitution, then five minutes later he’s complaining about unelected judges in Washington getting to interpret the law for the whole country — and Colbert doesn’t point out that that is in the Constitution? That was one of the most obvious setups he could have gotten, and he just let it whoosh past, untouched. Where’s the interviewer who blindsided the sponsor of a Ten Commandments bill by asking him what those commandments were? What happened?

Skipping the musical performances too, although I probably would have done that no matter what else was going on in the show.

The Nightly Show‘s panel discussions are sharper, funnier, and more listenable, with a lot fewer softballs. Last Week Tonight doesn’t do guests at all, delivering a pure concentrated fake-news broadcast that doesn’t pull any punches. Can’t be sure yet what Samantha Bee’s upcoming Full Frontal will become, or whether I’ll like how Trevor Noah handles the Daily Show, but at least I feel secure in counting on Larry and John Oliver to keep delivering a satisfying fake news fix.

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