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In which I have a lot of thoughts about Michiru March 7, 2017

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All caught up with the Sailor Business podcast. They get better about doing research as it goes on! Plus, by now they have a large-enough listener base that a lot of solid, deep information is being called/sent in. Good stuff. Very listenable.

Followed a rec from one of their episodes to the Love and Justice podcast, where the shtick is that they compare plots across all the different versions. Starting with the Crystal episodes.

I did wince when they got to Ami’s introduction, and were confused that the manga was “more modern” than the ’92 anime, because she uses a CD instead of a floppy. Guys, your whole thing is comparing different versions, and you don’t realize the manga had two different releases? (Well, three at this point, but the uber-high-quality edition hasn’t been released stateside.) The version used for the Kodansha translations has a whole lot of updated art, most of which involves fixing wonky figures and adding more details, some of which involves the Dark Kingdom tech getting an upgrade.

Again, it’s still early episodes, and fun enough that I’m sticking with it. Hopefully someone eventually clues them in.


I ended up writing a long thing to Sailor Business, because they’ve been really doing a disservice to Michiru’s character. And apparently I have a lot more Feelings about her than I realized.

Context: They just passed the two-parter where Usagi is a daimon target. Before Uranus and Neptune arrive on-scene, Michiru asks Haruka if she’s really okay with the possibility of that cute girl being sacrificed. Haruka, stoically, insists that she’s fine. They gotta do what they gotta do.

…So our hosts keep saying Michiru is “passive” or “go along to get along.” Because Haruka is the more overtly loud and confrontational one…and that means Michiru is just following her lead, taking cues from her.

But now they’ve seen Michiru’s episode with Ami — she didn’t waver or wait for direction, she went straight for the jugular. And that’s a microcosm of how she’s approaching the whole quest: do something ruthless and cruel in the short term (pulling no punches with Ami/killing the Talisman holders) for the sake of a greater good in the long term (making Ami stronger/saving the world).

There’s an old butch-femme trope/cliche, that femmes are “steel wrapped in velvet,” and that’s Michiru. On the surface she’s all soft graceful feminine hobbies, but underneath she’s perfectly capable of knifing you in your sleep.

The flip side of the trope is that butches are “velvet wrapped in steel,” i.e. Haruka has a tough exterior but is a marshmallow underneath. Which lines right up with the podcast’s favorite relationship trope — “which of these people is the dog, and which is the cat?” Haruka is the dog! She barks really loud, but she’s a sucker for belly rubs. She yells a lot about how they have to kill the Talisman holders, to cover the fact that she’s the one who wrestles with it most in private.

Michiru handles the idea much better. Michiru is the cat who will knock all your stuff onto the floor, and look you in the eye while she’s doing it, with zero remorse. Michiru is the senshi who would win Most Likely To Become A Supervillain — not from brainwashing/hypnosis, we already know who’s most likely to go through that, but based on her own personality and for her own reasons.

So when Michiru asks Haruka if she’s okay with killing that cute innocent Usagi to save the world, there are two things going on here.

First is basically a supervillainy spot-check. Michiru knows it makes sense to her to kill a few people for the Greater Good, but is that really the moral strategy, or just the most coldly efficient one? Well, Haruka wouldn’t be capable of doing this for the sake of cold efficiency alone. So Michiru can reliably calibrate her moral compass by Haruka.

The second angle is Michiru being a concerned girlfriend. What if they get the Talismans and save the world, but afterward Haruka can’t handle the guilt? What if she has lifelong nightmares about Usagi’s death?

We don’t see what would have happened if Haruka had broken down and said “no, I’m sorry, this is too much, I can’t go through with it.” So different viewers can have different interpretations. My guess is that Michiru would say “it’s okay, sweetie, you don’t have to, we’ll find another way”…and then send Haruka home and go to Tokyo Tower on her own, making herself solely responsible for whatever happens to any Talisman-holders who show up.

Because sacrificing three lives for the sake of the world is one thing, but making Haruka feel bad about herself? That’s a bridge too far.

So, yeah, ruthless…but also, to be fair, a teenage girl in a traumatic situation. Part of the way she’s handling it is by telling herself, “look, I know I’m not a Good Person. A good person wouldn’t be this resigned to murdering three innocent people. But at least I can protect Haruka’s soul from being crushed along the way. I still get to draw the line somewhere, and I choose here.”

It takes another level in heart-rending when (and wow, I am looking forward to these episodes) you find out that Haruka got into the senshi game for Michiru. She told Haruka not to do it — trying to protect her, although at that point it was in an impersonal, “nobody should have to deal with this stress” way — and maybe Haruka would’ve listened, except then Sailor Neptune got in a monster fight she was going to lose without Sailor Uranus as backup.

So on some level Michiru is trying to atone for not being strong enough to keep this cute girl out of the fight.


…and you know, this makes it all the more satisfying when we get to that one SuperS special. A minor antagonist claims he has world-destroying powers, but Uranus and Neptune aren’t intimidated by that threat anymore. And Neptune cheerfully leans into her ruthlessness — she’s 100% bluffing, but she’s very good. Terrifies the pants off the guy. She has the power to simultaneously be a Big Damn Hero and out-villain the villains.

(Would you believe it, when I was a teenager, Michiru was the senshi I was least interested in? No, really. Even accounting for the context of her relationship with Haruka, who is probably my team-wide fave, I was not expecting to have this many Michiru feelings. But someone was Wrong On The Internet, and bam, here we are.)

“On The Subject of Noncon Fanworks” September 25, 2016

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An excellent essay about darkfic and sexuality (cw: author discusses her own trauma/abuse history). Centered on Sherlock fandom, though the general ideas apply no matter what characters you’re writing about.

I wanted to highlight this part:

If, instead of normalizing the existence of fics that portray noncon and underage, we make these themes taboo, if we pathologize them, if we require noncon works to be kept in a separate archive, if we insist that it be labeled with derogatory terms like “rapefic,” then what will happen is that writers who think that their work has “a bit of dubcon” in it will not tag it as such, in the hopes that it will fly under the radar and they won’t be banished to the leper colony with the filthy rapefic fans. This will have results that neither the responsible creators and consumers of noncon, nor the people who dislike it and categorically oppose it, want: that someone who doesn’t want to see noncon will see it.

I wrote the above paragraph close to a year ago, and my predictions are already coming true. I have seen noncon and underage fanworks being posted without appropriate tags and warnings. Some of these inadequately tagged fics are being posted by the same people who accused me and my fellow gender politics panelists of being rape apologists and pedophiles. The creators of these works defend them as being somehow different than the works the so-called rape apologists create, because they themselves were underage when they drew the fanart or wrote the fic, or because the work features the right” pairing, or the “right” kind of non-consensual situation, or because they don’t “eroticize” the noncon aspect, or because there’s a sufficient amount of comfort to offset the hurt, or for any number of other reasons.

It’s framed as a prediction, and maybe with respect to Sherlock fandom it is, but for fandom in general it’s nothing new. I remember wrestling with the same kind of cognitive dissonance more than a decade ago:

“Okay, I like stories where characters get hurt, but that’s a Bad Thing to enjoy. But I also like the emotional payoff when characters are rescued at the end! So when describing this, I should emphasize the rescue part. Imply that any scenes with pain and suffering are just a necessary evil on the way to the morally-acceptable payoff. Or, hey, maybe don’t mention the suffering at all.”

That mindset not only discourages people from warning for dark story elements, it stifles the general discussion about them, so that even if you want to warn, you can’t pick up the vocabulary to do it well.

I remember one fic of mine — it had a brief sex scene, and it was consensual, just incredibly unhealthy. Potentially very upsetting! And the only warning I put on it was a general sexual-content label. Partly because I was erring on the side of what looked more Morally Pure, but also because it was neither “non-con” nor “sex that is positive and affirming and healthy in every way” — and I didn’t have a handle on how to articulate the situations in between.

Fandom in general should be a place that helps people figure this stuff out, not a place where people get shamed and shouted down for trying.

So here’s a thing I didn’t know about Monstrous Regiment. September 3, 2016

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Section 28 of the UK’s Local Government Act 1988 put a ban on things like “promoting homosexuality” and “portraying homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle” by “local authorities” in the UK.

Part of that was inspired by the AIDS panic, part of it by voters being mad that Arts Council funding was going to, in short, gay stuff. Or just general feminist stuff. Theater companies with names like Gay Sweatshop or Monstrous Regiment (that last one named after a 16th-century polemic against women getting to rule anything).

In practice, this spiraled out into a broad climate of caution and self-censorship. School boards were afraid the law covered them, so they shied away from anti-bullying initiatives that would have protected LGBT+ students. Support groups for these students shut down. School libraries wouldn’t even stock books with LGBT+ characters….

And publishers, knowing that would put a crimp in their ability to sell and market those books, generally erred on the side of “not even gonna try it.”

Only four Discworld books had been published before 1988. Another 26 were published over the next decade and a half. None of them had any of the gay stuff.

The 31st Discworld novel — also called Monstrous Regiment — is the one with the lesbians. Lots of crossdressing, characters trying to hide their genders, some whose actual gender identities are arguable, and two who are undeniably girlfriends.

Section 28 was repealed on September 18, 2003.

Monstrous Regiment came out in hardcover on October 1, 2003.

Which means Pratchett, and who knows how many people at all the other stages of publication, had it ready. They had it queued up and on-deck, and must have put things in motion literally as soon as they found out it was marketable, because it was on shelves two weeks later.

You did good, Pterry.

Whyyyyyyyyy. [queer women on TV edition] March 24, 2016

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I would not have guessed there had been 147 lesbian/bi female characters on TV total, let alone 147 lesbian/bi female characters who got killed.

And that’s just TV! First thing I thought of was Cloudburst (2011), a film I was loving right up until ten minutes from the end, when one of the sweet old lesbians randomly drops dead. Why, movie? Why did you have to do that?

Couldn’t remember the title off the top of my head…so I found it by googling “old lesbian couple movie.” Not “old lesbian couple movie where one of them dies,” wasn’t necessary to get that specific, it was the top result anyway.

Someone ran stats for this year, going off of GLAAD’s stats for primetime broadcast programming. “In 2015 there were only 35 fictional wlw characters on television and 80 days into 2016 they’ve killed 8 of them. That is a fourth of them. In less than 3 full months of the year.”

Why, industry? Why did you have to do that?

Good stuff. (Madoka, Empowered, Lancaster County, Abd el-Kader, and more.) December 13, 2015

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Fandom good things:

More Madoka is on the way! No idea what I’m going to think of the plot, but it’s going to be lovely. And lend itself beautifully to Princess Tutu crossovers.

Empowered is coming up online! (Legally, even.) The whole first volume is up — and for those of us who have already gotten nine or ten volumes into the hard-copy version, there’s long-winded author commentary as a rereading bonus.

We invited the translators of the [Ancillary Justice] into Bulgarian, German, Hebrew, Hungarian and Japanese to discuss the process, with particular interest in the translation of gender. What emerges is an insight into the work of translators and the rigidity and versatility of grammatical gender in the face of non-standard demands. Where necessary, translators turned to innovative and even inventive ways to write their languages.”

Nonfictional good things:

“Why do so many ex-cons end up back in prison? Maybe they don’t—a provocative new study says recidivism rates are drastically lower than we think.”

Thanks, Obama: “Between 2007 and January of 2015, overall homelessness fell by 11%, and chronic homelessness declined by 31%. […] Homelessness among veterans declined by 35%, and over a shorter span of time — between 2009 and 2015. The number of unsheltered homeless veterans across the nation has plummeted by 50% in the past four years.

“In the days following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, a coalition of Muslim-led groups in Southern California and elsewhere around the nation has committed to raising $100,000 for the families of the shooting victims.” And they were at $97K when that article was posted.

“Your drunk uncle posting ‘Homeless Servicemen Should Come Before Any Refugee’ memes on Facebook is utterly full of it. Lancaster County is doing both. It has ended homelessness among veterans in the county and it is welcoming and assisting desperate refugees fleeing ISIS’s brutality in Syria.

Best for last: “Given the cowardly, inhospitable opposition to Syrian refugees that all of these candidates have decided to make an issue, it’s safe to say that not a one of them knows anything about the person that gave Elkader, Iowa its name.”

His name was Abdelkader El Djezairi, and when there were riots and a planned massacre of Christians in 19th-century Damascus, he mounted an incredibly hardcore armed defense/rescue/refugee-smuggling operation. Had people crowded in his own house, paid reward money out of his own pocket to get other Christians there, organized his own small army to escort groups of them safely out of the city.

“At least 3,000 Christians were killed before it was all over. Abd el-Kader was credited with saving upwards of 10,000 Christians, including the entire European diplomatic corps.”

This guy is amazing. Where’s his big-budget action movie? (Apparently Oliver Stone is working on a biopic, but it isn’t finished, and we could really do with people going to see it on-screen already.)

Erin Listens: Great Gildersleeve, Amos’n’Andy, My Friend Irma December 1, 2015

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The listening to old-time radio continues. Seriously, I can burn through 19 episodes in a single work day, I’ve gotta keep ’em coming.

The Great Gildersleeve has gone downhill since its first season. Shifted from comedy to more soap-opera drama, which is not nearly as interesting as the show seems to think it is. (They did two storylines in a row where Gildy spends all season courting a woman, they’re engaged for half of it, then in the season finale he decides he doesn’t want to marry her and frantically tries to sabotage the relationship. At least the other characters kept lampshading it the second time around.)

(In both cases he gets out of the engagement for unrelated reasons, and in the seasons since, his relationships with both of them have gone back and forth between “flirting” and “jealously trying to agitate each other.” Straight people, I swear.)

On the plus side, the historical angle is still interesting — I just passed the end of WWII, and the characters are slowly moving out of the era of war bonds, rationing, and high interest in the Red Cross. And I’ve only caught a few of the vintage pop-culture references — to “oh, you kid“, to Alphonse and Gaston — gotta wonder how much I’m missing by being born 50+ years after the target audience.

Worth noting: the unintentional subtext between Gildy and Judge Hooker keeps cropping up. Sample line: “All that time I was flirting with [yet another love interest], I was thinking of you!” They literally did a “we rented a single hotel room together and ended up sharing a bed” episode. Then spent New Year’s Eve alone together, complimenting each other. “You’re a he-man, a real masculine personality.” / “I’ve noticed women looking at you on the street. Recently!” Really, guys. Really.

Intercutting that with Amos’n’Andy, which is…not as racist as pop-culture osmosis had led me to expect? The leads are a couple of white actors doing dialect voices to play black characters, so there’s that. But it’s not like they’re the Two Black Stereotypes in an otherwise-white world — most of the characters are black, and there’s as much variety and characterization as in any of these other shows. I don’t know that I can unpack it any further than that.

Our heroes fumble their way through get-rich-quick schemes, romantic entanglements, and the schemes of unscrupulous friends and unsavory relatives. Oh, and there was that one time they got arrested by the FBI on suspicion of stealing military secrets for the Nazis. (I’m listening through the war years here, too.)

Wikipedia let me know that Calvin and the Colonel is actually an Amos’n’Andy remake with cartoon animals. Neat. I knew the voices sounded familiar, but I wouldn’t have guessed they were the same.

Speaking of familiar voices, one of the side cast members is clearly trying to do the Mel Blanc thing (most familiar today from Porky Pig), “try to answer a question one way, stutter over some phoneme too hard to get through it, try to phrase it another way, stutter, try again, stutter…” Except that the actor is not Mel Blanc, or even Mel-Blanc-league, so what he’ll do is…say the whole answer (with a few ums and ahs around it), then say a whole new phrasing of that answer, and so on.

Makes me miss the Mel Blanc Show. Unfortunately, limited stores of preserved episodes means I burned through all of those at least a year ago…

Lighting up my days more than anything since running through all the Our Miss Brooks episodes is My Friend Irma. Our heroines are Jane and Irma, a couple of working girls sharing an apartment in NYC, which right away puts you on a more progressive foundation than some of these shows.

(I know Gildy is supposed to be a buffoon, but it’s still pretty teeth-grinding when he lectures his niece about how she should learn to be a good wife rather than planning to get a job. …And then, with no sense of irony, complains about girls with career aspirations to his female cook. Followed by his female secretary.)

Jane’s the sensible and sardonic narrator; Irma is a sweet, dreamy Cloud Cuckoolander. Sometimes Jane’s treatment of her crosses the line into patronizing, but there’s enough real affection to make it worthwhile. Similarly, Irma’s love interest is kind of a shiftless bum who’s always chasing schemes and making bets rather than settling down to a normal job, but it’s clear that he isn’t dating Irma because she’s gullible. And he tries to do genuinely selfless things once in a while (though they inevitably blow up in his face, because it’s funnier that way).

It’s sweet and fun, and has a steady pattern of not making me want to pull my hair out in frustration. Would rec.

Erin (Re)Watches: 30 Rock, 3rd Rock, Damages, Burn Notice, Grace and Frankie November 24, 2015

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Another post with reactions to the TV which has played on my computer over the past however-many months.

…including all the way back to March, which is when I watched Burn Notice. Did I ever mention that?

It was suggested as a follow-up to Leverage. Not quite as unrelentingly feel-good, especially during the last season or so, when it takes a turn for the unnecessarily grimdark…and our ex-spy hero is even more wrapped up in his own quests than Nate Ford is. But there’s still a healthy amount of Scrappy Underdog Do-Gooders Helping The Helpless, as well as Lovely Detailed Competence Porn.

And what I said mid-watch still holds: Michael Westen has the greatest mom. She has her own life and concerns separate from the action characters’ shenanigans, but she helps them out in increasingly involved ways as the series goes on — you really come to appreciate how much she has the unpolished version of some of Michael’s skills and abilities, and that’s where he got it from.

On the comedy side of things, Grace and Frankie was a lot of fun. When lawyer-friends President Bartlet and Sam the Eagle reveal that they’ve been secretly having an affair for years, their shocked wives, Jane Fonda and Ms. Frizzle, end up forming an unconventional support-group/friendship as they struggle to cope.

It’s funny and snappy and sweet by turns. The premise has a tough tightrope to walk — being queer and closeted and in love with someone you can’t be open about is hard, but being lied to and cheated on and divorced is also hard, but when the lies are about queer stuff the reaction can go to a homophobic place very easily. IMO the first season does a really nice job of letting everyone be hurt and angry for legitimate reasons, without vilifying anyone.

There’s plenty of room for them to bomb at it whenever the second season comes out, especially after the S1 cliffhanger. But given their track record, I’m optimistic — they’ve been good about the characters’ flaws being the product of these specific characters, rather than sweeping statements on the behavior of All People of Sexuality X and/or Gender Y.

Made it through a rewatch of 30 Rock more recently.

It kinda suffers on second viewing because the good jokes are no longer delightful surprises, so there’s not as much delight to distract you as much from the terrible bits. (I don’t want to say there are a lot of terrible bits…they’re just really outstanding in their terribleness. Like “this thing they’re referencing is rape, but the show doesn’t realize it’s rape, and seems to expect you to find it hilarious” levels of terrible.)

But, y’know, the characters are still mostly lovable in their ridiculousness, Liz Lemon is still great, and Liz and Jack’s relationship is still all kinds of heartwarming. The guy she marries didn’t wow me,  but they’re believably happy together, and the wedding was excellent. (“I’m a princess!” Ahhh, had forgotten that happened.) It’s a series with a good finale! So few manage to pull that off.

And I totally did not pick up on Kenneth’s immortality during the first viewing. That was a worthy second-watch bonus.

These days, comedy-wise, I’m working through 3rd Rock From The Sun. (For reasons other than “thematic naming.”)

It’s a nice mild sitcom about aliens. The main actors are all really good at interacting with human society in weird and confused ways — you get genuine sci-fi vibes out of it, even with, so far, absolutely no special effects. (The hilarious ’90s 3-D animation in the opening doesn’t count.)

There’s some awkwardness about social issues, nothing I haven’t been able to shrug off. You just have to keep your “product of the ’90s” filter up. Sometimes it’s even pleasantly surprising. There’s an episode where the alien family is trying to figure out how race/ethnicity works, and one of them tries to go “I don’t see race, there is only the human race”…to which a co-worker immediately replies, “dude, I’m black, it’s a thing, deal with it.”

And it’s doing pretty well in the “unrelentingly feel-good” department. To the point where I don’t think any of the characters have been mean or vindictive or petty, even for purposes of hilarity. The comedy all flows from the culture clashes, and from the aliens being sweetly, earnestly bizarre.

Back in the dramatic end of the pool: did a rewatch of Damages not long ago.

It’s a very different experience when you know from the start who’s plotting to kill who, and for what reasons! Less tense in some ways, more satisfying in others.

I would really love a show about the lawyer that Patty Hewes is pretending to be when she first meets Ellen. Tough but fair, relentless in the pursuit of justice, and without, y’know, the murder-y streak.

…and since I originally checked the series out on the promise of complicated adversarial f/f potential, I would also love a show that’s basically the same as Damages, but without Ellen getting that one reason to reeeeeally hate Patty. I mean, as-is, the hatesex would be intense, but there’s no plausible way to get anything else! If Ellen’s feelings were left to be more ambiguous…if she was pushing back against the ruthlessness of some of Patty’s methods but undeniably impressed by the results…also, drawn along by her own ambition, and slowly growing into her potential to be just as terrifying, with Patty wary of the potential competition and not allowing herself to show just how appealing she finds Ellen’s progress….

That would be some good shipping, right there.

(Basically, I want The Devil Wears Prada as a law-office AU.)

So here’s what you missed on the OTW November 22, 2015

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  • Organization holds elections to fill 2 full-term Board seats
  • There are 6 candidates, which makes this [eta: almost] the first time they’ve had more candidates than free seats
  • (There were 8 candidates to start with, but the Board disqualified one of them via some hella shady maneuvering, and another dropped out in protest)
  • (There’s also a whole thing with one of the Board members using a sockpuppet to ask questions in an open elections chat)
  • OTW voting membership (a privilege which costs $10, by the way) casts their votes
  • Top 2 candidates get the 2 seats
  • Board goes “oh btw, there’s a partial-term Board seat that also needs to be filled, and instead of appointing the 3rd-place runner-up, we’re going to vote one of the outgoing candidates — who ran for re-election, and came in last — into this spot.”
  • Massive outcry from other people working in the OTW (including the AO3), and from all the people who paid actual money to vote in this thing.
  • Within a few hours (?!?), the entire current Board resigns.


I mean, the fallout from this is gonna be chaotic as all get out, but hoooooopefully to good results? The popular candidates were the ones with reformist agendas anyway, so when the existing Board burns itself to the ground, that leaves a whole lot of clear territory to build up fresh new everything. Even though that’s a much bigger job than the 2 newly-elected candidates (plus whoever gets finagled into the 5 newly-freed seats…I assume the 3 electoral runners-up, and who else?) signed up for.

Fingers crossed that they can turn the OTW into an organization I’d be comfortable giving money to.

Erin Watches: Jessica Jones (and Don’t Trust The B—–) November 22, 2015

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First time I’ve gone ahead and binge-watched a Netflix show on the weekend it dropped.

Jessica Jones is good, often in terrifying ways. If you have any squicks around mind control…particularly around mind-controlling sociopathic villains who order people to maim and/or kill themselves…there is a lot of that.

Never read any of the comics she appears in, so I did some backstory review on Wikipedia. Was entertained to find that our heroine’s non-powered BFF has a long history as a superhero…but before that, her character originated in a line of teen romantic-comedy comics. They did the equivalent of lifting someone from Archie and importing her into the Avengers.

(Last night I had this dream in which Wikipedia said the character of Jessica Jones had also appeared in the Precure series. For some reason, she was Cure Lemonade. IDEK.)

Notable good things:

  • Our heroine doesn’t keep her powers secret from her friends and loved ones For Their Protection. On the contrary: her BFF has known about them almost since she got them, and when it comes to her love interest, there’s a great mutual “wait, you have super-strength too?” realization.
  • The BFF, Trish, doesn’t have powers in this continuity (yet?), but has taken some serious self-defense training. One of her earliest scenes involves flipping someone over her shoulder and slamming them to the mat.
  • Jessica and Trish are extremely shippable. (There are a lot of female characters with whom Jessica is extremely shippable.)
  • Lots of fun references to comicverse. At some point Trish comes up with a mockup of comic!Jessica’s first costume, excited about having her become a Proper Superhero. (Jessica is having none of it.)
  • About the non-fun parts: the bad things are gritty and intense. (And bloody enough that I looked away for some scenes. Fortunately not so visceral that I couldn’t finish the thing.) The initial plot-hook case is heartrending, the first-episode twist horrifying.
  • Good, evocative depictions of a character having PTSD.
  • Good, unambiguous depiction of an abuser being evil. There’s a point when Kilgore basically tries to self-woobify, talking about how he was raised by abusive parents who didn’t teach him right from wrong, and how traumatic and confusing it is to have uncontrollable persuasion powers behind everything you say. And, you know, there’s a lot of potential angsty story about a well-meaning character with those issues who’s desperately trying to redeem himself…but Kilgore is so clearly not that guy.
  • Contrast that one arc in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. where two characters are each claiming to be the put-upon victim of the other…and they’re both good liars, the only flashbacks you get include the narrator’s bias, for a long time you don’t have enough objective information to know for sure what’s going on. It’s realistic, it isn’t bad storytelling or anything, but there’s a specific frustration in not knowing how much you as a viewer are being manipulated.
  • …also, there’s a certain anxiety when you don’t know if the narrative is trying to get you to sympathize with a character in order to bait-and-switch you, or if the show is going to reveal something terrible and still expect you to find the character sympathetic.
  • So, yeah, no ambiguity here. Kilgore is an unrepentant rapey sociopath with an entitlement complex the size of Mars. The viewer knows it. The show knows it. You can sit back and cheer on Jessica in her quest to make sure all of New York figures it out.

Footnote: if you liked the actress, don’t miss her last starring series (also Netflixable), Don’t Trust The B—– in Apt 23.

Lighthearted comedy, also Netflixable, also with hella f/f vibes. This is the one where I couldn’t bring myself to watch the last episode for months, because I didn’t want it to be over. (Finally took the plunge a week or so ago. Aaaaugh, June and Chloe, just kiss already.)

And the shoe just dropped [My Favorite Husband vs. Burns and Allen] October 31, 2015

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Welp, I’ve gotten to the domestic-abuse jokes in My Favorite Husband. Or, to put it another way: wow, this show talks about spanking a lot. Maybe it would work if you could headcanon in some kind of kinky domestic-discipline negotiation backstory, but mostly it just feels very Fifty Shades of Cooper.

…which is compounded by the fact that “making out” is the only thing Liz and George seem to really enjoy about each other. The narration bills them as a Happy Couple, but a fair amount of the comedy is from the “straight married people fight with each other” school. A regular gag is George saying something vaguely positive about another woman, and Liz bursting into tears about how clearly he doesn’t love her anymore. George can be super condescending, and both of them will end up in situations where they’re yanking the other’s chains, and the joy they take in it has an edge of meanness, instead of, say, fondness.

It has its charms, and at their best they’ll hit genuinely funny and clever notes, so the series is still in the “listenable” pile. Re-listenable, not so much.

For the record, there are things that don’t make the “listenable” pile. I’m not so desperate for audio material that there’s nothing I won’t bounce off of, honest.

A few old-school radio comedies that got rejected: Vic and Sade; Duffy’s Tavern; Fibber McGee and Molly (Great Gildersleeve was a spinoff of this, but even the Gildy episodes felt subpar); the radio version of The Red Skelton Show.

I said MFH felt like watered-down Burns & Allen Show — you know, it’s possible George and Gracie could’ve made something better out of the same material? Their IRL happy marriage, and their general adoration of each other, glows through their characters. (Same way Stephen Colbert’s general human decency showed through in “Stephen”, come to think of it.)

But the material they got was different, too. They don’t make fun of each other. There’s that power balance I talked about, where Liz’s George doesn’t seem to rely on her for anything, while Gracie’s George relies on her to have the talent and make the money. (And Gracie, in turn, relies on George to have good business sense…and do the housework.)

Here, have some demonstrative episode recs….

1948-10-07 Kleptomaniacs: George becomes convinced that Gracie is the compulsive thief who’s been stealing from local stores.

This is the point when George Cooper would have sat Liz down for a lecture (and maybe a spanking, for good measure). George Burns, though? He worries about her — considers that maybe he’s been contributing to her compulsive behavior by not paying her enough attention — tries to cover for her — and, when he gets caught, pleads guilty.

Gracie, who is not the thief, hears about this, becomes convinced George is really the thief…and, you guessed it, takes it upon her own shoulders to cover for him.

1949-02-17 George Collects Alley Cats: Lots of shenanigans with cats, until the new neighbors adopt one from George and Gracie. Meanwhile, Gracie gets the idea that George is being wooed by the neighbor wife. She ends up going over and demanding him back…and of course “George” is what they named the cat.

(Gracie: “…you want to buy him?” James Mason: “Yes, I’ll give you fifty dollars!…Is he worth more?” Gracie, earnestly: “No, the price is right, but I love him!”)

And this is where Liz would have started wailing, or maybe gotten all jealous of Pamela Mason and ended up cackling with joy when something bad happened to her. But Gracie? When she hears about how “George” loves sleeping at the foot of the Masons’ bed, and is all frisky and excited about living with them, she decides that if this really is best for her husband, she’ll resign herself to giving him up.

Burns & Allen are undoubtedly staying on my hard drive for re-listening purposes. Repetitive ads and all.