ConStar Writes on TinyLetter

Subscribe to my TinyLetter for weekly updates on what I’m writing each week. Blog posts, articles, TV recaps, and links to my adventures in podcasting.

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I’ll try to be better at blogging here too.

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Jane the Virgin 2×04 “Chapter Twenty-Six” (Winter is Coming) [Contributor: Connie]

This week’s Jane the Virgin review is up over on Just About Write!

In addition to raving about the episode and the differences between Team Michael (Team Snowflakes) vs Team Rafael (Team Flower Petals), I discuss the small ways in which series creator Jennie Urman empowers women in all aspects of her show. From it being a woman-led series, to she herself being the showrunner, Urman also laces the Miami telenovela industry with powerful women. Here’s a screenshot of what I wrote:

Retweeted by Jennie Urman herself!

Retweeted by Jennie Urman herself!

It’s important for shows that proclaim powerful women or proclaim diversity also show it behind the scenes. Practice what you preach.

ConStar Watches, young black girl watching tv, black girl watching tv

NOC Recaps Arrow: The Room Where it Happens

Really proud of my Arrow recap from last week (episode 4.04 “Beyond Redemption”) because I combined it with my current Hamilton the Musical obsession. There are so many references to “The Room Where It Happens” and I didn’t even force it!

The #HamiltunesWritingChallenge encourages Hamilton obsessed writers to include as many lyrics from ONE Hamilton song in an essay not about the man or the musical as possible. I totally made it up and the rules are fluid, but I rose to my own challenge.

Click the link for my thoughts on an awesome episode of Arrow, links to interviews with episode director Lexi Alexander, and, of course, the song this recap inspired.

Enter the room where it happens: NOC Recaps Arrow: The Room Where it Happens | thenerdsofcolor

ConStar Watches, young black girl watching tv, black girl watching tv

Jane the Virgin 2×03 Review Chapter Twenty-Five (Let Your Faith Be Greater than Your Fear) [Contributor: Connie] ~ Just About Write

Team Michael has a serious leg up right now…

My latest Jane the Virgin review is up!

How is every single episode of Jane the Virgin a delight to watch, but also heartwrenchingly emotional? This week was no exception. As usual, it ran me through the gamut of emotions, from joy that Jane got into grad school, anger over everything related to Petra, relief that Rafael is telling the truth, confusion over being Team Rafael when Michael is also so wonderful, and the buckets of tears produced at Mateo’s baptism. Let’s swim through this sea of emotions together!

Click through for excellent section titles such as

  • Time to Dance
  • Petraland Wishes to be a Russian Oligarchy and
  • Baptizing my TV with My Tears

Jane the Virgin 2×03 Review Chapter Twenty-Five (Let Your Faith Be Greater than Your Fear) [Contributor: Connie] ~ Just About Write

How Orphan Black’s Helena is Harry Potter Without Hogwarts

I just realized that I never shared this post on my own blog. I submitted this post to Black Girls Nerd Out (@weblackandnerds on Twitter) comparing Helena from Orphan Black and Harry Potter from, yes, Harry Potter. The two characters had a lot in common, so read about their similarities through the link!

Orphan Black’s Helena has lived a rough life. Every episode opens up a new way in which her horrible childhood led her to be the dangerous, awkward, socially inept, starved for love, clone-killer that she is and was. In Season 3 Episode 5, “Scarred by Many Past Frustrations,” Helena reveals this little tidbit: “In convent, I lived for 4 months in a broom closet. I do not rot.”

My Harry Potter-obsessed brain immediately thought of another character who was forced to live in a broom closet as punishment, Harry himself. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Helena is Harry without his Hogwarts education. (I’d also say, without magic, but there’s definitely something more about Helena.)

Read the rest: How Orphan Black’s Helena is Harry Potter Without Hogwarts — Black Girls Nerd Out

My Favorite New TV Characters From the ’14-’15 Season

I fell in love with an extraordinary number of new characters this TV season. Looking back in the ones I loved or connected with the most, I decided I’d make a list of my favorite new characters from this TV season. Once I made my list, I realized that they were all people of color. This was not on purpose, but it delights me greatly.

Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) ⇒ The Flash

When Caitlin and Cisco guest starred in Arrow on season two, I didn’t care about them. I couldn’t really grasp who they were or connect with them at all. Once The Flash started, however, they quickly came into their own and Cisco proved to be one of the seasons funniest and savviest characters. I think what draws me to Cisco is the same thing that draws me to characters like Abed Nadir from Community or Kenneth the Page from 30 Rock. All of these characters are like me: pop culture savvy, people who make references to movies and TV on a daily if not hourly basis and are always looking for the hope and the humor in life. Cisco, by nature of his pop culture obsessed nature, is one of the meta characters on the show, the fact that he has recently been revealed to be a metahuman makes that even more meta. All things I love.

How do you not love him?

Ravi Chakrabarti (Rahul Kohli) ⇒ iZombie

iZombie’s Ravi is the most recent addition to this list, but definitely a character I want to protect at all costs. (Being that it’s a zombie show, all characters run the risk of dying, but don’t do it to Ravi!) I think what first struck me about Ravi was his loyalty. He meets Olivia Moore, this weird girl who used to be an ER doctor, and when he discovers her secret, he doesn’t tell anyone, not even her. He vows to keep her secret and help find a cure for zombieism with no personal gain. His immediate loyalty to both her and Major is extremely endearing. He’s also snarky, has fantastic hair, a great accent, and looks great in a suit. I hope season two provides for Ravi backstory and opportunities for Liv and Major (and Peyton?) to return the loyalty favor.

We’re glad you are, Ravi.

Maggie Pierce (Kelly McCreary) ⇒ Grey’s Anatomy

It’s hard to introduce a new character when your show is 11 seasons in, but Grey’s Anatomy manages to consistently add new characters and have fans come to love them. One of the first things I loved about Maggie was her hair. As a natural black girl myself, seeing curls like hers on TV is always a delight. I was hesitant about her character, as she was introduced so soon around Cristina Yang’s exit—I feared they would try to replace Cristina in Meredith’s life, especially once you find out she is her sister. And while Maggie is slowly plugging the hole that Cristina (and now Derek) left in Meredith’s life, she isn’t trying to replace her. She is her own character who interacts with Meredith in a different way, a way that Meredith needs now that she’s lost those who were previously so close to her. Maggie brings loyalty (have I mentioned I love loyalty in fictional characters? Because I do.), a willingness to be there no matter what the question (her offer to babysit Mer’s kids), and a somewhat normal family background. She’s also awkward, nerdy (she’s an expert crossword puzzle solver—a cruciverbalist), and she’s interested in helping other people. These are all wonderful qualities and I can’t wait to get to know Maggie more.

You’re too good for this hospital, Maggie. Save yourself!

Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) ⇒ Jane the Virgin

Ask anyone who’s seen Jane the Virgin and they will extol the wondrous and many virtues of Gina Rodriguez. You’ve probably seen the think pieces, her Golden Globes speech, and her (amazing) Emmy campaign poster by now, so you know that she and her character Jane are well loved across the TV fandom. Nearly everything about Jane makes me love her (even her faults, because they are things I relate to), but the things that I might love most include the fact that she’s a writer (who is still trying to figure out her writing path), she’s loving to her mother and grandmother, she’s funny, she shops at Target, and she fearless even in her insecurites. Even if Jane is unsure, she determines to find out the answer, to become sure. She does her research, but she also listens to her heart. She allows herself to cry and still know that she is strong. She’s a great model for young female characters. I am so glad we have Jane.

I hope we get more rapping Jane in Season 2.

Diane Johnson (Caila Marsai Martin) ⇒ blackish

Kids on TV are hard to cast. Sometimes they can be seen as annoying or too sweet or unrealistic. blackish’s Diane Johnson defies these challenges. She’s cute but she’s smart, she’s fierce but she’s relatable. She’s funny but not in an annoying way. I love that Diane speaks her mind. That she’s smart and knows it and doesn’t back down or apologize for it. I love that she realistically puts down her twin brother, but won’t let anyone else mess with him. I love that she scares Charlie. Also I love her dimples and her sass and her glasses and the way her hair is different in every episode and that once they even put her in a headscarf (because Lord knows she’d need to wear her headscarf in order to keep those barretts in place at night). Diane is shaping up to be a fantastic person and I am so excited to see her grow older.

Love how semi-neatly she’s making it rain. 

Emery & Evan Huang (Forrest Wheeler & Ian Chen) ⇒ Fresh Off the Boat

I think Evan and Emery Huang come as a package deal for me. They’re both adorable and it would be easy for them to be written similarly (especially in their contrast to Eddie and especially due to their closeness in age), but the show gives them distinct personalities that still have an opportunity to shape and grow.

Emery gets all the girls and is clearly sweet to them and his family.

Evan uses his cuteness to get away with everything, including his sharp tongue, and he’s well aware that that’s what he’s doing.

Both boys are smart and funny, the actors have excellent comedic timing. I can’t wait to see who they become as characters because they’re so young that they can still change and grow depending on the writing.

Who were some of your favorite new characters this TV season? 

#ConStarClicks: Learn to Talk Like a TV Writer [GQ]

ConStar Clicks: Learn to Talk Like a TV Writer – GQ

True ConStar Clicks posts are returning in June (if all goes according to plan) but here’s a cool article I’ve been reading (and memorizing) about words TV writers often use in the process of putting an episode together. It seems to be mostly focusing on TV comedy jargon.

Some of my favorites from the piece:

  • Button – I prefer button to blow.
  • Chuffa
  • Cranberry Sauce
  • Hanging a Lantern – I learned this on TV Tropes. If you’ve read my About Me, you know I love me some TV Tropes.
  • Schmuck Bait

Click through to find out what they mean.

‘Orphan Black’ Clone Club MVP Week 4: Helena and her teeth of steel

An angel of death is still an angel.

We were only about 10 minutes into this week’s Orphan Black episode and I already knew who the Clone Club MVP was going to be. While Sarah patches up Mark, Alison confronts an old boyfriend, and Cosima contemplates finding a new girlfriend, Helena is all alone with her imaginary scorpion and yet seems to have more control over her situation than any of the others.

Click through to read more of why I chose Helena this week. And check the previous MVPs for this season of Orphan Black so far over on HelloGiggles.

Orphan Black Clone Club MVP Week 2: Seth

Week Two of Clone Club MVP is up on Hello Giggles! This has been a fun way to recap the episode. This week, I wasn’t expecting to pick the male clones… I wanted to focus on the girls. But they successfully drew me in to the Project Castor clones, so I had to give them the MVP for that. Click through to read more!

Each week, we’re recapping Orphan Black by choosing a Clone Club MVP. See past recaps here

This week’s story was once again very Sarah driven, but with the new Project Castor clones given more spotlight and personality. We saw four of our boy clone brothers: Seth (mustache) and Rudy (scar), Mark (who ran off with pregnant Grace), and the unnamed military brother who waterboarded Helena. I give Seth the Most Valuable Clone award for this week. May he rest in peace.

Read More: ‘Orphan Black’ Clone Club MVP of the Week: It’s Seth, hands down.

Quick Update: I Officially Completed My First Spec Script

This weekend I finished my first official spec script! I call it my first official script because I actually sent it out to the Nickelodeon Writing Program. It was due to be postmarked by midnight on the 28th and I arrived at the post office 45 minutes before they closed at 4pm.

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That face on the bottom right says, “Ahhhh!”

Since completing it only a few days ago, I been trying to figure out how I feel. I am definitely glad I finished a script. I have two three-quarters finished scripts (for Parks and Recreation and Scandal) and a finished Castle spec that will never again see the light of day because of how bad it is (it was my first real attempt at script writing ever). So finishing feels… good. I guess. I think I am just trying to be realistic. Cautiously optimistic, maybe? Because having just one completed script isn’t enough. I need to do so much more. Thankfully, since sending my spec in, my brain has opened up a little more with ideas for some of the other (original) projects I want to work on.

But the sense of accomplishment is muted. So here I am making a post about it so it feels more real, feels more like a joyous occasion that I should celebrate. Not many people finish things. I never thought I’d finish anything. But I am finding that once you finish one thing, you start to feel more like you can finish another, and another, and another.

So here’s to finishing the next thing.

The Happiest Shows on Earth: ‘Parks and Recreation’ and optimism on TV via #EWCommunity

Parks and RecreationI wrote the following for the #EWCommunity, to share some shows that have made me smile even half as much as Parks and Rec did. There aren’t many, but click through for some shows that celebrate optimism, love, and friendship.

Parks and Recreation was lauded for its combination of comedy and earnest sweetness. The people of Pawnee, Indiana, are “first in friendship, fourth in obesity,” and they proved the former to us for seven seasons. The characters love each other, love the work they do (even as underappreciated public servants), and taught us to celebrate Galentine’s Day, waffles, and ourselves (Treat yo’ self!).

Very few shows allow themselves as much happiness as Parks and Recreation did. So many shows are gritty and dark, or concern us with which major character is being killed off this week. Nothing is wrong with that; I love a lot of shows that raise my blood pressure in a very real and probably unhealthy way. But sometimes you need to balance it out with shows that make you smile every single time you watch an episode. Parks and Recreation was one of those shows.

Now that it’s gone, I want to reflect on other shows that celebrated friendship, love, and optimism, and were unafraid to be bright spots in a cynical and dark world. There aren’t many, but here are a few shows that exemplified a few of the qualities that made us love Parks so much:

Click through to find out the shows: The Happiest Shows on Earth: ‘Parks and Recreation’ and optimism on TV | EW Community | EW.com.

In Defense of Felicity via The Nerds of Color

I wrote a piece defending the writing of Arrow’s Felicity Smoak this season, because I think her storyline this season has been oversimplified by viewers who think that all of her actions have had to do with Oliver’s waffling over their relationship.

Badass Digest recently wrote a piece explaining how Arrow has “failed” Felicity Smoak in its third season. It brings up a lot of great points about the ways in which her character has changed, but I think it unfairly places the blame on the Oliver/Felicity relationship, when I think things are a bit more complicated than that. Sara’s death, pieces of Felicity’s (of the admittedly little) backstory that we know, and the overall darkness of the season all help push Felicity to a darker place this season. And I think that’s okay for the show overall.

Read more over on the Nerds of Color: In Defense of Felicity.

Adventures in Speccing & The Trouble with Choice

I don’t really do New Years Resolutions, but I’d love to finish something I write this year. My first challenge? Finishing a spec script. Tis the season for TV writing fellowship submission deadlines and I think I am going to take a crack at actually submitting something. So, right now, I am working on a spec script for the show Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

The best thing about spec writing? Rewatching a show you love and getting to call it research.

The best thing about spec writing? Rewatching a show you love and getting to call it research.

I’ve worked on a few specs before. I wrote a Castle spec a few years ago that got completed, but wasn’t good story wise and was way too short. I wrote a Parks and Rec spec that, upon reread, felt authentic to the show and actually had some jokes (!) but was missing a third act resolution and pieces of a plot point were done by the show itself after I’d stopped working on it. And earlier last year, I tried my hand at a Scandal spec. It seemed to be going well while writing it during a show hiatus, but once the show returned, a lot of little points I’d thought of were used on the show and plots/relationships/etc were more and more invalidated each new episode. I’ve also written a few short teaser-type scenes for a sit-com pilot and the first few pages of a drama pilot. Again, nothing I’ve completed.

A lot of my scripts have places where I just keysmash the clever things they should be saying and bracket the actions that should happen between the scenes I've thought of.

A lot of my scripts have places where I just keysmash the clever things they should be saying and bracket the actions that should happen between the scenes I’ve thought of.

Even though each script has gone unfinished or left something to be desired, I’ve felt stronger and stronger about my writing after each attempt. But it is time to finally finish something. The point of writing fellowships is to hone your craft, so hopefully, should I finish something and submit it, it is more about the potential within my script rather than how brilliant it actually is, but as with most writers, you want it to be brilliant from the get go.

Instructor feedback from my unfinished Scandal spec. There's hope for me yet!

Instructor feedback from my unfinished Scandal spec. There’s hope for me yet!

I mostly write this so I am putting it out there. Connie should be working on her spec script. I’ve got an A story (recently developed, but I finally feel good about the direction it’s going), a nemesis for the main character (though I’m still working out obstacles), an emotional trajectory, a B-story involving Terry, Rosa, and Gina, and a vague idea for a C-story that maybe should tie into the A-story?

What I’ve noticed is that I am paralyzed by choice when it comes to writing fiction. There are so many paths a character could take, so many ways a character could be, which determines where the story goes. What if I choose wrong? If I pick between two ideas and one isn’t working, does that mean the other is better? Or should I break my brain trying to make idea number one work? I spend a lot of time stuck at the fork in the road and when I pick one, I keep wondering what’s down the other path. It’s definitely a struggle. And that’s all in the outlining. Once I’ve started, the characters start speaking and want to do different things than what I’ve planned, which affects where the story goes and thus all the little pieces I’ve thought of start to fall apart. Hence why I never finish anything. Even if I stop thinking about the road to the other side of the last fork in the road, a new one comes and I become overwhelmed with choice and the fear of missed moments of awesome. Also, there’s the giving up and the getting distracted, and the chronic procrastination, and ooh books! –ooh, new TV shows! –ooh, other ideas I should write! Typical writer problems.

So my goal for early 2015 is to finish this spec script. I bought an iPad around Christmas and it’s actually been helping me to be really productive. I’ve written about 7 pages of notes in Pages solely on my iPad while rewatching the show and on my commutes to work. And I bought Final Draft for iPad, which I think will be a really good way to write while on the go. So here’s to finishing this spec script. Hopefully the abundance of choice won’t be so paralyzing — I can just use those ideas in a second script. This post is to get my feelings out and for you readers to hold me accountable via comments, or Twitter, or wherever you see me lurking on the internet. Because if I’m on Twitter, I’m not writing. (But don’t take away my internet, research spurns ideas!)

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Reaction to an act out I think for my Scandal spec. LOL!

Happy writing!

Are any of you working on some works-in-progress that you’d like completed this year?

NOC Recaps Arrow: A Battle He Was Always Going to Lose | thenerdsofcolor

Arrow 3.09 The Nerds of Color

In which I discuss the Arrow midseason finale and note that most superhero/action-adventure shows pull the same stunt Arrow did. And that’s not a bad thing. TV is not about the big moments — that’s for movies to focus on, it’s often about the aftermath. This major moment on Arrow, and this episode, is merely a transition to a new stage in the story and that’s exciting.

Major spoilers for Arrow 3.09 “The Climb” are below and beyond the jump.

There is a point in most TV series (especially action/adventure shows like this one), where everything seems to burn to the ground. It’s the awful part where you get to it in your rewatches of even your favorite TV shows and you wonder if you can stomach those episodes again. Not because they’re bad, but because they’re painful for the characters. They reach a low point that it seems they can’t get out of, a fire they must endure to come out the better for it. At some point, Buffy dies, Angel gets buried at the bottom of the ocean — my fellow NOCs can probably give a Smallville example — I’m sure your favorite long running action/adventure show (any drama really) has had a moment like this one.

I am ready for the next leg in the journey of the story and the development of all the characters who must come out of this moment the stronger.

Also, in the comments, there’s an interesting, though brief discussion on another way in which the show doesn’t lend proper representation to a cultural group. This time with R’as al Ghul, who has suffered this before time and again. These conversations are important to have because if we don’t have them and bring them to the light, they will keep happening. Join the discussion!

Read more:  NOC Recaps Arrow: A Battle He Was Always Going to Lose | thenerdsofcolor.

NOC Recaps Arrow 3.08: A League of Their Own

*Mad props to my awesome Flarrow tag-team buddy Christelle for the subtitle. We are Flarrow. She’s The Flash, I’m Arrow and together we bring you these recaps. It’s our superpower.

The first thing I thought of when preparing for the Arrow portion of the crossover was how would they Flashify the title card? Instead of the arrowhead, we got a beautiful lightning bolt.

And so begins the Flash team’s adventure in Starling City! We’ve actually seen all of these characters here before. Barry, obviously in his debut last season, as well as Cisco and Caitlin when they briefly helped Felicity on a case also last season. But it’s our first time seeing them all together like this and It. Was. AMAZING!

[Read the actual recap: NOC RECAPS ARROW: A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN]

Phew! We did it! We survived the crossover and it was as awesome and epic (if not more so) than we could have dreamed or anticipated! Hopefully we get one at least once a season now (probably on the 8s) and some mini crossovers. Because while we may be getting a big budget Justice League movie, these boys have a league of their own right here on the small screen. (With what some say is better writing, action, and special effects than even the big movies have. Your mileage may vary, but I certainly enjoyed the last two episodes as much as I would a cinematic venture.)

I love writing about Arrow and can’t wait for the Fall finale next week that will certainly drive all us fans bananas with excitement and post ep-theories as to what will happen after hiatus.

Let’s chat about The Flash/Arrow. I can talk about them for hours.

NOC Recaps Arrow: A League of Their Own | thenerdsofcolor.

Castle 7.09 Review: “Last Action Hero”

Castle post for the week is up! I link to a lot of TV Tropes because action movies are FULL of awesome movie tropes.

Castle Action Hero

In this week’s Expendables  themed episode, Castle meets some of his favorite action stars and Kate says goodbye to her old apartment.

[…]The crew walks towards the camera in a typical action movie/tv show Unflinching Power Walk (well, Castle flinches when a car explodes for no reason, again, typical of an action movie). In a heist monologue (on TV Tropes called the “I Know What We Can Do” Cut), Brock explains how Castle and the Indestructibles crew will infiltrate El Jefe’s club and steal the boxcar. After a close call with El Jefe and a well-timed fire alarm, the crew flees the scene with the boxcar (““I’m starring in my own action movie! this is the best night ever!”).

Something I love about Castle episodes themed like this one is listening for title drops, it’s a really fun game. How many action movie title drops did you catch? I don’t know too many action movies, but here are a few titles and heroes/actor references I noticed:

  • The clear Expendables theme
  • Lethal Weapon
  • Jason Bourne
  • “Eastwood, McQueen, Bronson”
  • Indiana Jones

Now I want to rewatch the Bourne Trilogy (I stopped after 3, who needed a fourth without Matt Damon?) and maybe a couple of heist movies.

What action movie references did you catch?

Read more  Castle Season 7 Episode 9 Review: “Last Action Hero”.

Flash vs Arrow: Two Different Hero’s Journeys | The Nerds of Color

Flash vs Arrow (Heroes Journey)

Click through to read the post I wrote on The Nerds of Color to celebrate the Flash/Arrow crossover happening this week. I love both of these shows and can write/talk about them for hours. I decided to delve into Barry Allen and Oliver Queen as heroes with different journeys. These differences will set them apart as they come in contact with one another, but eventually will unite them as a strong duo.

Oliver and Barry have very different hero’s journeys to make. One is about choosing to be a hero, the other is learning how to be hero. One is brave (def n: ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage). I believe this to be Oliver. He is prepared (both mentally and experience-wise) to face whatever dangers and has definitely endured a lot of pain in order to save those he needs to. The other is bold (def n: showing an ability to take risks; confident and courageous). This is Barry, he’s more about confidently taking the risk, regardless of if it’s the smart thing to do or not. Both words have slightly different definitions, but at their core mean the same thing, just like our two heroes have different methods, but at their core are just that: heroes.

These fundamental differences are what makes me so excited for this crossover. They may get in the way in the first part, divide them and put them at odds with one another, but with a combination of these personalities, a “two heads (teams) are better than one” mentality, they should be able to defeat any enemy that comes their way.  They will go from meeting as rivals in “Flash vs Arrow” to working in conjunction in “The Brave and the Bold.”

I am so excited for this crossover and can’t wait to discuss it to bits on the internet. Read more of my character analysis over at The Nerds of Color: Flash vs Arrow: Two Different Hero’s Journeys