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Jane the Virgin 2×05 “Chapter Twenty-Seven” (Insert Britney Spears Pun Here) [Contributor: Connie] ~ Just About Write

I knew Michael’s winning streak wouldn’t last very long. Read my Jane the Virgin Chapter 27 recap!

What’s between snowflakes and flower petals? Maybe rain, baby tears? Whatever it is, Jane is in that in between state now. Neither Michael nor Rafael have come away with her affection, because she’s realized she should focus all of that affection on Mateo.

Click me baby, one more time: Jane the Virgin 2×05 “Chapter Twenty-Seven” (Insert Britney Spears Pun Here) [Contributor: Connie] ~ Just About Write

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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.

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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

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Jane the Virgin 2×01 “Chapter Twenty-Three” (She’s Armed, She’s Fearless) [Contributor: Connie] ~ Just About Write

I reviewed the Jane the Virgin premiere over at Just About Write! The show is back and just as good as when they left us. Chapter Twenty Three is merely the next chapter in the same awesomely hilarious and emotional book. I missed this show and am so glad it’s back in my life.

Read more: Jane the Virgin 2×01 “Chapter Twenty-Three” (She’s Armed, She’s Fearless) [Contributor: Connie] ~ Just About Write

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? 

Castle 7.12 Review: “Private Eye Caramba!”

Castle Season 7 Episode 12 Review:

This week’s Castle takes a telenovela twist (just minutes after I watched Jane the Virgin, no less!). A telenovela star is murdered and it’s up to Kate to find the killer and Castle to find… the purse?

Click through for the full recap, but here are some things I loved from the episode:

– Another nice moment between Kate and Martha, but once again no Alexis in sight…

– Castle’s pencil dropping from the ceiling at just the right time.

– “I thought you were a writer. What happened?” “Nothing happened. I’m just expanding my brand if that’s alright with you.”

– Castle learns that the number one skill a private investigator has is dropping $20s for information.

– Esposito’s frustration and Beckett’s amusement with Ryan’s “Castling” makes me laugh every time. Oh Baby Castle.

– I loved the detail of Castle being unable to get Beckett’s top button undone.

– I figured I’d be the only review to not mention the “private dick” line, since it was all over the commercials anyway, but here’s an obligatory mention.

– I loved Castle using Ryan’s badge number to get info from the DMV. Ryan’s the least likely to kick Castle’s butt if he finds out.

– I was glad for Kate’s concern when they find Castle with Mathis: “We would have had no way of finding you.” Obviously, it’s because they’re married, but also his disappearance is still weighing on her mind, and it shows here right beneath the surface. I hope that storyline is returning soon.

– “So you’re saying I solved my case, and your case, and I apprehended the killer… Hm.” “Yeah. You disarmed a 110lb woman. Must’ve been a tense moment.”

– Javier speaking Spanish. ::heart eyes emoji::

Full recap here: Castle Season 7 Episode 12 Review: “Private Eye Carumba!”

ConStar Clicks

gina rodriguez golden globes speech

Preach it, Gina!

Award season is here and after last Sunday’s Golden Globes and this week’s Oscar nominations, a lot of the articles going around have to do with the severe lack of diversity in Hollywood. Here are just a few (from before Oscar noms were announced — they didn’t change the conversation much anyway) articles on the diversity deficit.

This USA Today article talks a lot about the lack of diversity in Into the Woods and other fictional pieces, but also delves into the excuses made when diverse actors aren’t considered for roles and how even with a PoC director on a film or showrunner on a TV show, it’s still hard to achieve the diversity needed to match the actual demographics of this country.

♠ Here’s an interview with Selma cinematographer Bradford Young in the Huffington Post on how the lack of diversity in the industry spreads beyond even the top roles we normally think about, the above the line players (actors, producers, directors, etc). Here he points out that the lack of diversity exists below the line too — he’s speaking primarily as a cinematographer, but it counts for editing and sound design and costumes and all the rest of the crew. Most of the Selma crew was not people of color. Hollywood sets and Hollywood Academy voters, neither represent the diversity of America.

♠But it’s not all bleak, the Golden Globes honored my most recent fave Gina Rodriguez with a best actress in a comedy win — I literally screamed when they said her name. Her speech was amazing (see top photo and the one below for quotes).

gina rodgriguez i can and i will

Gina is full of inspiring quotes! Click the photo for the full video.

If only other people in power were more like those at CBS/CW and Jane showrunner Jennie Urman who took a chance on Jane. See what it gets you? A new hit show and award nominations! The CW is on the map now, all because they went with a person of color. Others networks could benefit from the same choice.

♠ Shameless self promotion of the week: After the Globes, I felt my post on New Emmy Categories was especially relevant. Let’s be honest, there were some weird category combinations — shows like Jane the Virgin, Orange is the New Black, and Transparent all in the comedy category? Jane is pretty funny, OITNB has some humor, but I’ve never, ever gotten the impression that Transparent was a comedy/musical. (Chelsea Peretti tweeted something about how even comedy and musical aren’t even similar — though it was in true Chelsea Peretti fashion) Ads always lean towards serious. And these shows submit for comedy categories because the drama categories are over-saturated and straight comedies have no room! All of this would be resolved with a Dramedy category. More shows get more recognition. No? We don’t want that?

I love this article on Hitfix on how it’s a Golden Era for geeky TV shows because I watch a lot of these shows. As I explained last week when I talked about the “mid-reputable” TV shows article, a lot of the shows I watch tend to be sci-fi/fantasy/mystery (most of whom are never Emmy/Golden Globe contenders), so it’s great that there are more and more “mid-reputable” shows that happen to be SFF/mystery on network television. If I have to deal with a continuing lack of diversity, at least part of my geek soul is being fulfilled.

♠ In that same vein, here’s an article in Ad Week about The Flash and the other DC Comics shows on The CW (and mentions of Supergirl coming to CBS) and the way they are bringing life to television. The article goes through a bit of Marvel vs DC in terms of their known strengths: Marvel excels at movies, while DC excels at TV. This, to me, has always been true. I don’t know a lot about the comics themselves, but each creator has shown their live-action/animated strengths known since the 90s. Marvel had massive success with the Blade movies, the Spiderman movies, even the X-Men movies even before the current MCU revitalized the superhero blockbuster. In the TV-verse, DC was always better: besides the X-Men cartoon series, Marvel didn’t really have any standout cartoons in the 90s; compare to the different Batman and the Justice League cartoons and their incarnations. In live-action, I was always partial to Lois and Clark, the New Adventures of Superman, whose 90s cheese was absolutely perfect the era. And of course there was Smallville. It’s great that each company, Marvel and DC, are succeeding somewhere specifically. It just means everyone has somewhere to go to get their superhero fix.

And for a random take away from that same article: “Under Time Warner, DC is tied to a broadcaster (the CW), cable networks (Adult Swim, Cartoon, TBS, TNT) and, of course, the movie studio.” Just a random fact for when thinking of your favorite DC comics and what networks you could match them with (don’t forget CBS, as they own The CW). Remember, of course, that Marvel is owned by Disney, so when mentally pitching Marvel TV shows, stick to Disney owned nets (though now there’s Netflix getting in on the Marvel game).

♠ Finally, how do I combine the two main themes above, diversity and geekdom? Easy, with this article by Daniel Jose Older in The Guardian on the lack of people of color in fantasy fiction. “And while “urban” has become publishing industry code for books by and for black people, throw the word fantasy on the end and suddenly the characters and authors are very white.” The work of achieving diversity is still being labored at in all media.

Oof, these Clicks are long. Should they be shorter?

ConStar Clicks

Happy new year! Start off the year with some cool articles I found last year (ok, like three days ago):

Abuela speaks Spanish to Jane, who speaks English back. The show makes no apologies for it’s subtitles.

In typical #Clicks fashion, I start off with a Jane the Virgin article. This one, by author Daniel Jose Older, praises Jane for being “unapologetically Latin” through it’s use of Spanish “without without issue or apology.” Older ends with this: “Art is at its best when it refuses to translate itself or cater to the lowest common denominator,” which, if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll see is similar to my favorite quote from The West Wing, “It’s not our job to cater to the lowest common denominator, it’s our job to raise it.” And of course he’s right. There’s a lot of talk about the global success of different genres of movie and TV shows. It’s something to think about when talking about how black films or POC centered TV shows do overseas, because a lot of times, those shows are given so many US-centered guidelines that of course they don’t do well overseas. They’re not authentic in their presentation. If black media, or Latino media were more like Jane the Virgin, “unapologetic” in the way they talk about and express their culture, they might do better overseas. People respond to truth and authenticity and can see through a false construct built by meddling executives who think they know how to sell any story, as long as it’s done their way.

This article at Refinery 29 is about the head of original content at Hulu, Beatrice Springborn. She actually started in TV pretty late, having started her career in Journalism out of school. Places like Hulu and Pixar (which she also worked for) are sort of like what it sounds like to work at a place like Google or Apple. Aka, sounds like a dream!

BGN blackish podcast

I’m co-hosting this podcast with Black Girl Nerds!

Fun fact: On Sunday at 7pm I will be co-hosting a podcast with the kids from the show blackish. I’m super excited, they’re such cute and talented kids! In this article, the author writes about how the blackish family resembles her own.

[M]e being wrapped up in kente cloth is a thing that happened.

It’s so important to have a black family back on television. I could be wrong, but wasn’t Everybody Hates Chris the last network TV show with a family? If not, it’s still been few and far between. ABC’s last black family was My Wife and Kids (right?) which ended in 2005. As the author mentions, she and many viewers see themselves in various parts of the Johnson family. Shared experiences from childhood or finally understanding where her parents’ mindset was coming from when they made the choices they did. But it’s not just important for adults to see themselves on TV (which is certainly is). It’s a show you can watch as a family and it represents differences in generation when it comes to all kinds of things, like technology and social media but also the obvious differences in dealing with race. The blackish kids give their kid viewers people to relate to (barring any future child star problems of course). Just as I looked up to Olivia from The Cosby Show as looking similar to me while also hanging out with her funny, jazz loving grandfather, kids today finally have some peers to look up to. I hope blackish inspires more black families on network television (remember that not every family has access to cable, even today), so that more kids (and adults like us of course) have more families like their own representing them on television.

It’s stated all the time that we’re in a “golden age” of television, where there is a lot of high quality content and things are changing and evolving dramatically. Ad Week went over 5 ways in which the TV landscape has changed in 2014, including the expansion of the Neilsen ratings system to finally include new media, really good new media content (“We saw the first crop of streaming shows as good as premium cable.”), and a decline in reality TV ratings (praise emoji!).

Basically my notebooks are filled with charts and images like this. I need formula. You may not, but I do.

TV is formula. I know this and Noah Charney over on The Atlantic is learning this. People always say to just sit down and write, but I need formula. Formula isn’t bad. One you learn a formula, if you’re the rebellious type, then you do what you want and break the formula. But I need structure when I write. I’ve been learning that my problem with actually sitting down to write is that there are too many possibilities. I am overwhelmed. So I come up with one way to tell the story, but then am paralyzed because what if another way is better? What if I get seven pages in a things aren’t working, do I start over with another direction? Or just go back a page and change things there? There are too many possibilities. Charney’s article breaks down the sitcom into bits and pieces and uses my current favorite sitcom as an example. (I need to compare this article to my 2/3rds written Parks and Recreation spec script and see if I can finally figure out Act 3, even if the show isn’t usable as a spec anymore.)

Finally, here’s some much needed inspiration on actually calling myself a writer:

When can you call yourself a writer in private?

Now. Absolutely right now.

Tell yourself in the mirror before you brush your teeth, then again when you’re driving home from work.

Say it so many times that you get exasperated looks from your spouse. Heck, get business cards printed, too. [<– totally did that!]

When can you call yourself a writer in public?

The answer to this question is also now — but this is a different matter altogether. The reason you want to take this step immediately in public is to apply pressure to yourself. [<– Mhm! The pressure is real! And works!]

The author goes on to say, “So don’t refer to yourself as a writer in public until you have a plan to deal with follow-up questions.” Those questions include: “What are you working on?” “Where can I read it?” He says to be confident, if you’re not confident in your answer to these questions, then you’re not ready to call yourself a writer in public.

[T]he sooner you start calling yourself a writer in private and in public, and the sooner you create a website and business cards, the sooner you will realize your career choice is a serious endeavor and demands your time and attention.

And that is what will drive you to sit down, put in the hard work and create.

That’s why I changed the name of my blog and made the business cards (I need new ones with my updated URL, but I still have so many of the old ones!), I am trying to treat writing as a serious venture, worthy of my time and attention, which will (and has) inspire me to write more and more and more.

Hmm, this week’s clicks gave me a lot to talk about. These weekly articles are a great way to get me writing and discussing things that I might not have otherwise.

Happy 2015!

Constar Clicks

[I did say it might be less than every two weeks… I’ll blame every article on the media being about the Movie That Must Not Be Named for nearly an entire week.]

Okay, so these Clicks posts are becoming little Jane the Virgin shrines, but I don’t particularly care when it’s one of my favorite shows on television. Here’s post on Jane’s honesty as her superpower in a show (and a world) full of liars. And here’s another piece on Jane, an interview with showrunner Jennie Urman in HuffPo’s Latino Voices.

If my blog were her locker, it’d be 75% pictures of this show. The other 25%? Scandal and Arrow/The Flash probz.

But before this becomes a Jane the Virgin only blog (it kinda is anyway), there’re non-Jane related clicks too!

I’m gonna miss Stephen Colbert and the Colbert Report. I’m super sad Letterman isn’t retiring until May (I really thought it’d be earlier in the year), but perhaps it’s 5+ months for Stephen to do awesome things he won’t have time to do once he takes over Late Show, like maybe host SNL? In the meantime, here are some times Stephen’s broken character, rare but hilarious and adorable.

Annie‘s out this weekend, and while I haven’t seen it yet, it’s so important that Quvenzhane gets to play her. I wrote recently about my quote in Bitch Magazine regarding the movie as well.

In other movie news, Film Fatale urges director Angeline Jolie not to white wash Cleopatra, as has been done countless times in the past.

 Similar to my Midseason Diversity Check-in is Shadow and Act’s “Best Black Television of 2014,” mentioning the network TV shows with breakout black characters this season.

“For the first television season in a long time a lot of hubbub has been made about diversity on television, primarily on the major networks. While there has been a greater emergence of one or two Black characters on various shows over the past few years – in some cases token characters, but most often not really – the major difference for the new 2014-15 television season is that many of the hyped shows are headlined by very recognizable Black talent and in a few cases also produced and created by Black talent.  There is another difference – a lot of them are really good!”

I used to compile similar links posts for Amanda Pendolino’s blog The Aspiring TV and Screenwriter. So it’s great to see this interview with her on Maximum Z blog on how she became a script reader and things she looks for in a good script.

7. What are the 3 most important rules every writer should know?

-Writing is rewriting. Don’t send a script out until it’s ready.

-Read scripts and watch TV/movies voraciously.

-One single script probably won’t launch your career. Sometimes the best thing to do is move on and write a new script.

Betsy Beers and Shonda Rhimes

Betsy Beers and Shonda Rhimes, creative dream team

This article in the Hollywood Reporter talks about what it takes to get a job in Shondaland. Everyone wants to be Shonda Rhimes, but sometimes I think I want to be Betsy Beers. It seems she does a lot the behind the scenes work that lets Shonda focus on writing, but doesn’t get the bad press when the public doesn’t like certain things. “Beers, who also identified Scandal inspiration Judy Smith as a potential storytelling vehicle for Rhimes, says she looks for depth and three-dimensionality when she reads scripts for potential Shondaland vehicles.”

It seems like a lovely and educationally gratifying work environment:

“Across the board, there’s opportunity to grow yourself as an artist,” Wilson says. “We have our script supervisor that directs and also acts on the show. One of our grips is a director on the show now. Two of our editors, three of our writers, there’s such opportunity for movement if you can really appreciate where you are and soak that in. The writers constantly move from position to position every season; I don’t know if other universes work that way but ours certainly does and I really appreciate that.”

I’d really appreciate that too! I would of course love to benefit from such an environment, but I also love looking out for people in that way myself. seeing the potential in them and giving them a nudge in the right direction. Sometimes I feel like I am not the person meant to be a big name, but the person behind that person. But maybe that’s just the introvert and fear in me talking. But it’d be nice to have the careers of either one of these game changing women.

And finally, get your friends who are Parks and Recs fans this tasty looking Waffle Keyboard. It won’t come in time for Christmas, but maybe for premiere or finale parties?

keyboard shaped waffle

Leslie Knope wouldn’t know if she should type an acceptance speech or reach for the whipped cream.

Midseason Diversity Check-In

From what I’ve noticed of this season’s midseason finales, is that it’s been a rough one. Characters have died left and right, been fired, gone missing, etc — I’M SO WORRIED ABOUT ABUELA! — and a whole bunch of other trials that don’t even happen at season finales! But let’s check in with some of our new and returning characters of color this season. How are they doing as characters and how are their shows faring so far this season?

[a few midseason finale spoilers below, particularly Sleepy Hollow, Scandal and Jane the Virgin. Proceed at your own risk.]

Sleepy Hollow

They did what to who? #RIPBelovedCharacter

Over on Sleepy Hollow, it seems like Abbie (Nicole Beharie) has been getting the short end of the stick and fans are noticing. I’m three episodes behind, but from what I saw before I needed to catch up and what I’ve heard with regard to the over-inclusion of Katrina and the killing of Captain Irving (Orlando Jones), it seems that what we once loved about Sleepy Hollow is being written out of existence. (Killing Irving feels a bit like the Black Guy Dies First trope, honestly. Though John Cho’s character did die last season and he was also a major character. That felt more nuanced, however, and Orlando Jones was promoted to main cast and then killed off, so it certainly speaks to the typical horror trope. Le sigh.) Here’s hoping that Irving is magically resurrected and brings new life back to the show. Also, less Katrina. Hopefully this is mere sophomore slump and things will turn around, but if they don’t do it soon enough, it won’t make it to a season 3.

Gotham

Jada Pinkett Smith Fish Mooney

Gotham’s downfall but the show’s saving grace?

One time slot later, Jada Pinkett-Smith has been owning things as Fish Mooney in Gotham City, but can she save an otherwise kinda dull show? I’m also three episodes behind on that one, but I’m not sure I have the desire to tune in again. Fish is the brightest (visually, and she’s definitely up there intellectually) and most interesting character on the show (Penguin holds about even in most fans opinions), so hopefully they give her enough to do. But I’m a little bored by Gotham so far.

Jane the Virgin

Villanuevas

Sorry Sleepy Hollow, but if you continue the way you’re going, Jane the Virgin is going to get my Mondays at 9pm live-viewing points. It’s one of the best shows, new or old, on television now, flawlessly weaving from comedy to drama to mystery to melodrama in the blink of an eye without losing its momentum. Definitely the strongest writing of the season, especially for a new show. The Golden Globes recently recognized nominated it for Best Comedy, as well as star Gina Rodriguez for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. I’m not holding my breath that they’ll win, but hey, miracles happen. My only concern for Jane (besides what happened to Abuela in the midseason finale — !! –) is how long can they stretch the premise? I can see the show going one strong season and maybe a season 2, but what are the plans for after she has the baby and for when she’s perhaps, no longer a virgin? Will the show just outlive it’s title? It seems that audiences have shown, with their lack of patience for will-they/won’t they, that they won’t be content to be strung along to wait for Jane to marry a suitor. So far, I’ve been no reason to not trust the creative team, but the concern is in the back of my mind. (Side note: After writing about Sleepy Hollow’s death above, I’ve realized that Zazz’s death was also “Black Guys Dies First”… ::sigh::)

The Flash

Iris and Barry

You’ve got a lot cut out for you, Iris, if you want us to love you as much as we love your dad. And to ship you with Barry, rather then the SnowBarry love that’s snowballing through Central City.

I love The Flash. I love Joe West, played by the impeccable Jesse L. Martin. He and Barry (Grant Gustin) have amazing father-son chemistry and usually at least once per episode, a scene between them pulls at your heart-strings. Iris (Candice Patton), on the other hand, has a little ways to go. Barry loves her — this is great for black women being presented as the love interest, especially since she’s not a black female stereotype. But is she too tame in the other direction? I don’t want a sassy black girl — been there, done that ad nauseam– but she’s a bit perfect in every way which makes her a little boring. She also never realized that her so-called best friend is in love with her and has super powers — makes her seem a little self-absorbed. Candice is lovely, I like her a lot, but I think her character needs to find her purpose a little more. We don’t want a Laurel situation…

Shondaland: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder

The ladies of Shondaland!

We already know that Shondaland Thursdays has been knocking it out of the park. And we already know that Shonda Rhimes’ shows have always been champions for diversity as well as color-blind casting (both purposely casting people of color as well as not limiting non-specific casting to only white actors). And this season has been no different. Meredith Grey has a black sister (Kelly McCreary) on Grey’s Anatomy (which I no longer watch outside of the 5 minutes before Scandal comes on)! Scandal’s Olivia is trying to get past her romantic hang ups and finally choosing herself — though it looks like someone else wants to choose her too and kidnapped her to have her. Meanwhile, Joe Morton continues to give the best monologues on television while being deliciously evil! And while we’re all here for Viola Davis (and her manipulative ways) and Alfie Enoch (and his perpetual confusion) being our lead actors, surprise audience interest perhaps goes to Oliver (Connor’s bf played by Conrad Ricamora) and Detective Bae (I mean Nate) played by Billy Brown. All three shows have Image Award nominations, while Viola alone will hold down Shondaland at this year’s Golden Globes (though award for best giraffe goes to Alfie) for How to Get Away With Murder. When we return from hiatus, I can only imagine where these shows will go!

black-ish

black-ish cast

Say “hi” to several NAACP Image Awards

In the comedy arena, black-ish has been holding strong, being touted as ABC’s #1 new comedy this season (I think ABCs cancelled most of their other ones already…). It’s already snagged a few NAACP Image Award nominations for Best Comedy, Leading Actor and Actress in a Comedy, as well as some supporting actor and actress noms. The show is quickly finding it’s legs and allowing for more diverse conversations on race to happen on the show — my initial hesitance with it stemmed from a kind of one note portrayal of how black people should be (coming from Anthony Anderson’s character Andre), but I think as Dre learns that his family is still black no matter what they like to do or eat or play, hopefully America learns this lesson too. Shows like this are important in bringing different perspectives into the homes of those who may not (somehow) interact with black people on an even weekly basis. Plus, I am loving Tracee Ellis-Ross and young Marsai Martin is a scene stealer. She’s really going places. Keep a look out for a Black Girl Nerds podcast featuring some of the cast members of this show.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Look at this beautifully diverse cast!

Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been holding it down on Sundays. I still think it’s a terrible time slot and foolish to split up the comedies on the network, but it’s a great show that has been giving more and more focus to the two Latinas (Amy [Melissa Fumero] and Rosa [Stephanie Beatriz]) and the black men (Terry [Terry Crews] and Captain Holt [Andre Brauer]). Just looking at the cast photo, it’s really wonderful to see that not only does the show realize you can have more than one black person at a time, you can ALSO have more than one Latina person at a time. Very few other shows (outside of Shondaland) realize that. Not that it couldn’t be even better with some Asian, Native American, Indian or Arab representation; but even without, it’s doing much better than a lot of shows even on this list in terms of a wider range of diverse characters. Though it wasn’t nominated this year, I am still incredibly proud of it winning the Golden Globe for best comedy last year. And Andre Brauer has been getting more and more kudos for his hilarity even while playing the incredibly staid character of Captain Holt– he’s even been nominated for an NAACP award this year.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Cristela (Cristela Alonzo) is holding steady with a full season pick up! I haven’t been watching it, but it the few tweets I’ve seen about it say that it’s still pretty funny. Though I suppose your mileage may vary.
  • Fresh Off the Boat hasn’t premiered yet, but it will soon add some Asian representation to the network landscape.
  • Not really a network TV show, but I must say I am getting more and more excited for The Minority Report — I mean The Nightly Show Starring Larry Wilmore. I’m still sad they can’t use the title Minority Report…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX6xoYMNJfw

We Still Have Some Work To Do:

Ted Grant Arrow

Gotta fight for better representation of your fello Latinos, Ted. I mean esse.

In less than stellar representation is Arrow (shame on you, one of my favorite shows this season!), for their portrayal of Latinos in one episode this season and for once again whitewashing R’as al Ghul (though your mileage may vary on whether having a brown person play this character benefits representation).

Sadly, John Cho’s Selfie was cancelled. I didn’t watch it, but the few who have are growing to love it before just as they watch it fall into the cancellation abyss. If you like, go #SaveSeflie over on Hulu! I must say that having an Asian-American get to play a romantic lead is awesome and hopefully Selfie’s downfall won’t stop future shows from casting Cho (or any other Asian actor) as their lead.

I feel like this is how we all look at Katherine Heigl…

State of Affairs was seriously underwhelming when I watched it, even Alfre Woodard (whose character is also named Constance) couldn’t compel me to watch episode 2 and its lukewarm reception leaves me wondering if it will survive its first 100 days on TV (I had to make a presidential joke, had to!).


That’s my TV midseason diversity check-in! I can’t watch everything on TV, so I may have missed some (didn’t a black character bite the dust on Agents of SHIELD? How’s Watson doing on Elementary or Michonne from The Walking Dead?) Some characters are on an upward swing, but others still have work to do. Either way, I am glad to see their faces and hope that there are more and more faces like theirs in seasons to come. The NAACP Image award television nominations had a lot of these actors (Viola, Gina, ), when last season they wouldn’t have had as many options, so there is some slow progress being made. The massive successes of especially How to Get Away With Murder and Jane the Virgin will hopefully finally show studios and networks that you can take a chance on people of color and unique storytelling and people will respond to it.

What other shows have PoC in them and how have they been treated this midseason? 

ConStar Clicks

Really wack title (or is it?!), but being inspired by the Screenwriting Links posts I used to do over at Aspiring Screenwriter blog and by Black Girl Manifest‘s Link Brigade, I want to do weekly (or less, because I’m still learning consistency) link posts of cool TV/screenwriting/diversity/industry things I’ve read this week. Sometimes I do this when I share one link and semi-officially post on it, but sometimes links require less commentary. I like how BGM is sort of conversational, so I might take that approach.

Anyway, here are some things I’ve been reading this week, features two Gina’s and a Jennie.

gina rodriguez

I love Jane the Virgin and have been loving Gina Rodriguez as the title character. Reading this Entertainment Weekly article on her desire to smash stereotypes was really insightful. Plus, I really appreciate her show of faith and the honesty of her prayer before she got the part. A prayer I hope to pray everyday:

“If it’s mine, it is, and if it’s not, give it to the person that’s meant to have it. Take this away, and I let it go. I lay my career at your feet. Just give me the patience and understanding to accept the story you have for me.”

So great. Then read her statement on Buzzfeed at this summer’s TCAs on how she waited for Jane, because the only roles out there for Latinas shouldn’t be maids.

Jennie UrmanOh, more Jane the Virgin? This time, showrunner Jennie Urman speaks over on the AV Club on her experiences adapting Jane for The CW.

“It was in that third and final draft that I decided to put the frame on with the narrator and have a bit of a meta-telenovela happening at the same time. Once I did that, I felt like it unlocked for me, tone-wise.”

I love the insight she gives on creating a show and presenting it to the important studio people and the way she both fought for it,  but also the way it seemed to have all been meant to be. This is fantastic considering Jane was just nominated for 2 Golden Globes! There’s a lot here, on writing the pilot, casting the actors, the color scheme, music, it’s all important!

Gina Price-Bythewood I recently saw Beyond the Lights in theaters. I loved it, but what I love even more is writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s push for authentic stories for people of color.

I feel what’s discriminated against are my choices, which is to focus on people of color as real people. Those are the films that rarely get made and those are the films that take a lot more fight. But I’m up for the fight, because if we don’t fight for this we stay invisible.

She makes a statement for her film over at the Huffington Post.

Finally, for this week, after my Arrow recap (hmm, should shameless plugs also be a part of my Clicks posts?), a commenter referenced the double edged problem of casting vaguely Arabic R’as al Ghul of Batman/DC Comics lore as a white actor (again). He says, in the comment and in a longer blog post that while we may complain that characters like R’as aren’t played by people of color, he questions if we want them to be. Should the only options for PoC be to play stereotypical villains who’s purpose was to mock a culture and represented eras of fear again [Muslims, the Chinese, the Japanese, insert your allegorical villain here]? Instead of wishing R’as was played by an actor of Arab-descent, let’s include better written characters of Arab descent.

That’s it for this week. Hopefully I can keep this up and bring more links throughout the week in this way. Until next time!

Jane the Virgin: Chapter Two

Jane

When Jane was 15, she had the perfect quinceanera, until her mother danced to Milkshake and embarrassed her in front of her “superfly” date. But Jane is determined to not let things affect her plan, and this baby won’t either. I’m sorry, I meant “milkshake.”

Jane doesn’t initially want to file a lawsuit, but by the end she accepts that things are really going to change in her life and that she should charge back at the things she can control. Jane didn’t think to look up Rafael and Petra before committing to her decision, so she Googles Raf and learns about his party boy past. She can see that he’s changed now, but as I said in my last review, he’s going to continue to deal with the consequences of his former lifestyle. But he and Jane begin to spark their chemistry, unknowingly in front of the watching eyes of Detective fiancé Michael. She and Raf share a moment in the OB-GYN examination room as well as at the hotel, being open and honest with each other in ways that their actual significant others don’t seem to get. Continue reading

Jane the Virgin: Chapter One

Jane the Virgin might be my favorite new show of 2014, in addition to it’s fellow incoming sister show The Flash on the same network. Both shows know exactly what they want and aren’t afraid to give it to the audience. Jane the Virgin‘s narration is very Pushing Daisies with a telenovela twist, as I wrote in my initial pilot viewing, especially due to the “thirteen and a half years ago” and “8.2 miles away” specificity. I love the typography and the writerly feel to it (appropriate since Jane wants to be a writer when she’s ready to be brave [me too, Jane, me too]). Jane the Virgin stays true to it’s telenovela roots (based on Venezuelan shows “Juana le Virgen”) but is a fun, heartwarming, addition to network television. It’s diversity and it’s humor are two of it’s strongest assets and it displays both in the pilot episode. I think it plays well in not dumbing itself down for audiences, there are several moments where they could have telegraphed character relationships or backstories, but didn’t, in honor of believing the audience would catch up if they missed it. I think the show gets off to a great start, with strong, but believably flawed characters. I think reviews will be easiest by grouping characters together and exploring their stories in each episode.

Jane Villaneuva

Continue reading

Link: More Diversity in Prime Time: It’s Not Your Imagination – The Root

More Diversity in Prime Time: It’s Not Your Imagination – The Root

This article mostly talk about black-ish in the aftermath of it’s premiere yesterday, but it also spotlights Jane the Virgin, which I must say was probably my favorite pilot this fall. Check it out!

Also check out two more articles regarding blackish:
In ABC’s ‘Black-ish,’ everyone has racial issues [Washington Post]
Black-ish: “Pilot”: Don’t call it the black Modern Family [AV Club]

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Jane the Virgin

My favorite pilot for this season is Jane the Virgin. I love that it’s about a Latino family, I love that the grandmother only speaks Spanish (a reality they’re allowing to shine on TV), I love the characters and their relationships and where they’re taking their secrets, I love how funny it is, and how ridiculous it is at times, but also how real and loving. Most of all, I love the tellanovella narration.

I can’t stress enough how much I loved the narration. I think it’s so fresh and original. It reminds me of Jim Dale doing the Pushing Daisies narration. It fits tonally, adds humor, and gets exposition out in an innovative way. I’ve definitely never heard a tellanovella voice over before. It’s clearly inspired by the idea of tellanovellas and their ridiculousness (possibly inspired by an actual tellanovella?), but still doesn’t feel like too much a soap opera, even with soap opera plots (and camera work at times).

I already wanted to see it, but now I am really interested. It was definitely my favorite new pilot (since I’d already seen the Flash and knew the character). I really want this show to succeed and I really think that it will.

Verdict: It’s now definitely on my fall calendar, but when I’ll have time on Monday nights? I don’t know!

PaleyFest Previews

Me at the Paley Center in front of their fun step-and-repeat.

Me at the Paley Center in front of their fun step-and-repeat.

The Paley Center for Media “leads the discussion about the cultural, creative, and social significance of television, radio, and emerging platforms.” There are two locations, in Los Angeles and in New York, the two entertainment capitals of the world. The New York Center has archives of classic TV shows, historical videos only found there, and has events and screenings dedicated to television and media. I’ve been there before for an airing of the Lost pilot that they did right before the series finale, and I think I went to a pilot previews event before as well. I think it’s a great institution to have, focusing on keeping records of media that can sometimes be transient—they have one of kind footage of early TV shows as a part of their collection and mission. The PaleyFest pilot previews are a great event to host, to get fans of television (if you know about the Paley Center and don’t work in the industry, you’re probably a big fan of television) to watch the upcoming season’s show; they also hand out surveys for feedback–not sure where they go, but it made me feel a bit like my voice was counted.

It’s always really fun to see shows with an audience and to see and build off their reactions. I did so once for a screening of Scandal and it remains to be a fantastic way to watch TV occasionally. There’s something different about watching TV than watching a movie—obviously people will shush you during both if you’re too loud, but it’s still more of a vocal atmosphere, even during dramas, probably a cultural sense memory of all television being live (that’s my crack theory anyway). I think it heightens the viewing experience, but could also skew the way I see a show, in that I laugh when others laugh, sometimes when something isn’t necessarily funny. But today, I think I was able to see those moments and grasp whether or not I’d laugh at home alone when there are other distractions available to me. There were some great shows though and I’ll go through the ones I saw (I missed Selfie and most of Manhattan Love Story, but I caught the end of that one) in various posts and some of my thoughts!

Links to each show are below as I post them through the day:

Some common things I noticed among the shows are a reliance on voice overs (done most cleverly by Jane the Virgin and most dryly by Forever) and I noticed there were a lot of fistbumps.

My top choice among the ten I watched? Jane the Virgin

My least favorite? Forever

Biggest Surprise? Cristela

Biggest Disappointment: Mulaney

Check each individual post to find out what I thought and tell me if they’re on your Fall Schedule or not! If you’ve watched any early (some are available on Hulu or their network website), what do you think? Am I right or wrong?

Let’s discuss!

Minority actors land the lead roles in fall’s diverse TV lineup | New York Post

Check out the Post’s article on the PoC led dramas coming this fall. And a few are led by women! Numbers are getting better, but no where near where they need to be.

The link and a couple of quotes below.

With “Scandal” commanding $200,970 per 30-second advertising spot, it’s a cash cow.“The color Hollywood loves the most is green,” says Wilmore. “Shonda Rhimes really showed that you can have a black lead in your thriller and you can have a great show. She broke down that wall, and Hollywood follows success.”

Hollywood definitely follows the money. Hopefully these new shows prove to be great television as well. The problem we’ve faced in the past has not always been a lack of content (well, yes, this is the problem, but) sometimes the content put out there isn’t good. There are a lot of times people of color will watch a show featuring someone of their background and that will boost ratings, but ratings will drop off if they don’t consider the show good. It’s not just about representation in numbers, but representation in quality and content. Don’t just give us a show with a black person and say it’s diversity, the content has to be good as well.

Rina Mimoun, executive producer of “Red Band Society,” says that, because of the Rhimes effect, “people will open up their casting. There’s no reason not to.”

More and more producers are realizing this, but things still aren’t where they need to be. The Emmy’s certainly showed that with the small amount of PoC nominees and smaller winners (most weren’t even televised). Hopefully, with this new crop of PoC led shows, next year’s Emmy’s will feature more PoC nominees and winners (now that Breaking Bad is finally out of the race; and maybe Emmy voters will finally be over Modern Family).

(In addition to these current shows, let’s not forget Sleepy Hollow, also led by a black female–I don’t think the article mentioned it.)

via Minority actors land the lead roles in fall’s diverse TV lineup | New York Post.