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

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September is Emmys Month at ConStar Writes

It’s September! That means TV IS BACK SOON! YAY!

As I’ve blogged before, summer 2015 basically became a blog hiatus, but during that time, I tried to brainstorm ways to be a more productive blogger. In addition to TV reviews (I’ll be reviewing FOUR shows this season so far! Wish me luck!) and ConStar Clicks, I want to have more original stuff too. I was inspired by the monthly themes over on Girls in Capes, which I thought might be a great way to kickstart more writing. So each month, I will (should, because I like to push myself but also be honest with myself) have a different theme! Hopefully I can add other non-themed posts in there too, but it’s all in the effort to write/blog more.

All of this to say: September is Emmys month!

The Emmys typically look at the work of last year’s shows, actors, writers, and production teams. I want to look at the Emmys in a wider lens than just who is nommed this year and who will be snubbed. I’ll take a look at how awards are made (physically, where do they come from?), black actors and actresses who have been nominated for the Emmy award (perhaps tracking winners and losers), and I’ll revisit my post on The Emmys Need New TV Categories.

This month, also look for:

Want to contribute to Emmy month? Contact me!

ConStar Clicks

The 2015-16 TV season is fast approaching, and with that comes endless articles on various trends and the state of television today. This week’s ConStar Clicks features a few of those articles and a couple of older ones. Click away!

Over on NPR: Television 2015: Five Shows They Will Never Stop Making including: The Adventures Of Mr. Superabilities And Detective Ladyskeptic and Healing Dr. Chilly. 

Another NPR piece: Television 2015: Are We Done Hating Television? which discusses how movie stars are moving to TV, which used to be a shocking thing, as TV was what movie stars did when they couldn’t get movie roles. Now things are different.

Disdain for television is so old and so powerful that HBO used to try to repurpose it into something useful, like fuel made from old French-fry grease. That’s what “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” was.

Another great line:

Disdain for television is so old and so powerful that HBO used to try to repurpose it into something useful, like fuel made from old French-fry grease. That’s what “It’s not TV. It’s HBO.” was.

TV NOW: Are You Cheating On Your TV Shows? [Seat 42F] considers the sheer amount of television that is on the air today and the way social media and other factors force us to choose which shows to watch live and which to save for that DVR/Netflix binge

Total scripted television shows rose from 340 shows in 2013 to 371 shows in 2014 and now there will be over 400 shows at the end of 2015 — that is an increase of over 60 additional television shows in the past 2 years.

Also:

It became essential to triage which TV shows had to be watched immediately or LIVE or suffer the repercussions.

An important question is asked: Is TV Writing the Best Job Ever? [Huffington Post]

(and answered by TV writer Jane Espenson, who’s worked for some of the best SFF shows on TV, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time, and Battlestar Galactica.)

This piece on the BBC America Anglophenia blog wonderfully explores how Tatiana Maslany perfects the various accents and dialects she performs so flawlessly on Orphan Black:

In playing these diverse characters, the Canadian-born actress has the Herculean task of defining each individual through speech and behavior without tripping over into Saturday Night Live-level caricature. And that’s not even accounting for the performances in which a clone pretends to be another clone. Nuances are layered on nuances.

If you’ve ever watched Orphan Black, you know those nuances are serious! Also why hasn’t Tatiana hosted SNL yet?!

ConStar Clicks

I’ve been on hiatus (not really on purpose, just life and work getting in the way), but sometimes I still collect links for ConStar Clicks and then never post them because I either have too few or no time. Here are some links I’ve accumulated during this sorta hiatus. More Clicks coming soon (for real, there’s already a draft for next week’s!).

How Does an Aspiring TV Writer Get Discovered by an Agent? [Splitsider]

Search for a story that is meaningful to you, and excavate the depths of your imagination — what have you dreamed about writing, what do you wish you could watch? It doesn’t have to be a pilot, even. Is there an indie movie idea you’re dying to get out?

Basically, write what you want to write, no matter how wacky or unconventional, because agents will see the potential of it and it could get you work. Definitely something I needed to hear. Lesson of the day: Write it anyway.

Two articles on TV Staffing season (which has passed for this year, but is always useful for next spring!)

I’ve applied to three writing fellowships this year (!!). As notification season quickly approaches, this article was a very helpful read. Cross your fingers for me guys!

 

TV is BAE

I made an image proclaiming TV IS BAE

TV is BAE

Still working on my graphic design skills—thinking of alternate ones to make—but I kind of like how it turned out. The heart in the middle was mostly an accident, then I brought out its shape a little more. Any graphic designer types out there have any suggestions? Link back to this blog or tag me on twitter if you wanna use it, please!

Inspired by this “books are bae” poster I saw:

Books are still bae, but TV is also bae, television is very entertaining, but do not forget to go out for a walk once in a while, when you go out take your baby with a baby trend range jogging stroller. I think bae, like best friends, (as Mindy Lahiri would probably state) is not one person/one thing but a tier.  

Recap Finale Fever (Castle & Arrow)

While I’ve been a bit behind, here are the recaps for the Castle season 7 finale and the last two episodes of Arrow Season 3!

Castle 7.23 Review: “Hollander’s Woods”

Castle ends an imbalanced season with a decent episode that could have served as the series finale had the stars not signed their contracts and the network had decided to cancel the series.

NOC Recaps Arrow 3.22: Don’t Stab Yourself In the Foot

NOC Recaps <i>Arrow</i>: Don’t Stab Yourself in the Foot

This episode is a bit of a mess and introduces a ridiculous plot twist that doesn’t serve the rest of the story.

NOC Recaps Arrow 3.23: The City’s Under Attack, Must Be May

NOC Recaps <i>Arrow</i>: City’s Under Attack, Must be MayThe Arrow season 3 finale finally gets us out of the Ra’s al Ghul arc that has been killing the shows cred with fans. Now that we’re moving on, hopefully season 4 will be better. That said, this episode splinters our main characters that could lead to interesting places come season 4. I’m also proud of an Aladdin joke and a Captain Planet joke that you should click-through to enjoy in its full glory.

ConStar Clicks

Here are some cool links I’ve come across since we last met up for these Clicks.

Ξ Who doesn’t love Ava DuVernay? Here’s the Selma director at South by Southwest giving a Keynote speech which featured many wonderful pieces of advice. Watch the whole thing but Indiewire conveniently compiled a list of some of the awesome things she said. Among my favorites:

  • “If your dream only includes you, it’s too small.”
  • the principal goal must be to serve the story.
  • the Oscars are, simply, “a room in L.A.” “It’s cool, it’s very cool,” she says of the Academy’s recognition. “But my work’s worth is not based on what happens in, around, for or about that room.”

Ξ I’m obsessed with MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) personality tests, especially when it comes to guessing TV character types. While there are tons of people who denounce it for not being science, I think it more accurately describes you based on what you are actually like more than say, a horoscope, where you may or may not match to the traits of someone born in your season or whatever. So when I saw this Myers-Briggs TV Personality Test over on Vulture, I was upset I hadn’t actually thought of it! My friend and I spent maybe 2+ hours thinking of questions they could have added (which dissolved into a ‘How Obsessed with TV Are You’ Game Show), but on the surface it’s pretty cool. I got CSMH (Comedy, Serialized, Mainstream, Highbrow), but I think I could have gotten Drama, Serialized, Cult, Highbrow as well, considering what I watch (basically comedies and superhero dramas). Take the test and find out what you are, then let’s debate if that’s actually correct.

Ξ I really like this Fiction Diversity essay by Em Liu who talks about how sitcoms can normalized family dynamics on television. Starting with I Love Lucy to Will & Grace, she discusses how these shows presented different family dynamics than the ones viewers were used to. THe article was written with regard to Selfie, but she shared on Twitter as she felt it was appropriate to the campaign to ensure Fresh Off the Boat gained a second season.

Ξ This Vulture article discusses the rampant trend of rebooting old TV series rather than coming up with new ones. It talks about how reviving an existing series creates instant buzz on social media, which can provide for higher ratings and interest when the show premieres, as opposed to many new shows that premiere to abysmal numbers. (Unless you’re Empire or Fresh Off the Boat or blackish or How to Get Away with Murder, all of which had pretty decent or juggernaut ratings—wait, could it be that we need more PoC produced series to get those premiere ratings boosts they’re talking about?! Golly gee, let’s try that!) For me, if we’re gonna do this, I like the idea of continuing where the old show left off, just years later, rather than creating it with different actors. I hope there are at least more shows by PoC producers/writers than are reboots next year. ::crosses fingers::

“This is still a business where 90 percent of it is original.” For now, at least.

Ξ Two Boston University alum, Mike DiCenzo and Arthur Meyer, are on the writing staff for the Tonight Show and they spoke to BU Today about what it’s like to write for the show. I’m no comedy/stand up writer, but I love The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. As Arthur says,

“It’s a very sincere show, a positive show,” says Meyer. “It’s not steeped in sarcasm. It celebrates more than it takes down.”

These are the things I love about the show. While being a TV writer is hard and challenging and daunting to think about, being a sketch/stand-up comedy writer sounds even more frightening.

The job requires a thick skin: Meyer estimates that while he writes about 25 or 30 jokes a week, only about one actually makes it on the air.

I’ll stick to trying to write narrative stories, thanks.

Ξ And finally:

 

This is probably true. Until next time, clickers!

Recap City

I’ve been slacking on posting my most recent recaps here, so here they are! I think I’ll get back into the blogging groove soon, I feel it.

Castle

Castle Season 7 Episode 18 Review: “At Close Range”

Castle Season 7 Episode 19 Review: “Habeas Corpse”

Arrow

NOC Recaps Arrow 3.17: Couple’s Therapyar317a0153bjpg-991056_640w

NOC Recaps Arrow 3.18: Everybody KnowsNOC Recaps <i>Arrow</i>: Everybody Knows

 

ConStar Clicks

Wow, I’ve really been slacking on these haven’t I? And I’m going on vacation next week, so there likely won’t be one next Friday. But no one seems to read these so, raise your hands if you care and I’ll be more consistent.

Anyway, here are a few interesting things I’ve come across this week!

Ω I watched the below TEDxTalk on television as social conscience. I found it of course to be true (television both reflects and changes our society) and I appreciated Lauren Zalaznik’s research in investigating how people felt about the television they were watching and how that changed over time. Seeing the graphics she presents with the rise and fall of comedy vs judgement and the other comparisons she makes with the knowledge of the socio-political issues we know happened during those eras really puts things into perspective. It’s about 15 minutes, check it out if you can.

Ω I really liked this interview in Color Web Mag with writer Sanjay Shah who writes for Fresh Off the Boat. I love that show so much! I’m glad it’s getting the spotlight it deserves. And I hope it leads to more colorful families on TV and that networks aren’t satisfied with having Fresh and blackish fulfill the diversity quota that we always seem to be limited by.

Ω Lilla Zuckerman writes on the Save the Cat website on different kinds of television act breaks that you can look for when watching TV or use when writing it. I’ll definitely have to come back to this page.

Ω And just for fun: Hundreds of boxes of Twizzlers spill onto Pennsyvania highwayRostraver Central Fire Department

ConStar Clicks

Welcome to this week’s (slightly delayed) clicks! Let me know which articles you’ve been reading. And if you have any suggestions for links to share, leave a comment or shoot me a tweet! Let’s jump right in!

Belafonte and Clarke Interracial Touching TV

This was a controversy in 1968. For context, it happens a month before MLK is assassinated.

This Huffington Post article goes through a few major landmarks in black television. From Amos and Andy‘s outrageous stereotypes to the present day where a black woman is a president on TV (for however long State of Affairs manages to sustain itself). That in and of itself is cool for those who didn’t know about these shows and their legacies, but this quote really stood out to me:

Such a torrid romance [re: Scandal’s Fitz/Olivia] marks a head-spinning change from 1968, when, during the taping of a duet for her NBC special, British pop singer Petula Clark clasped the arm of Harry Belafonte, the beloved calypso star and social activist. It was a gesture that spurred the sponsor, Chrysler, to demand this instance of “interracial touching” be edited out.

The emphasis is mine, because wow! I know that there were such strict rules on television back then (I mean, Lucy couldn’t even say she was pregnant with a baby she got by sleeping in the bed next to her husbands!), but for the sponsor to want an arm touch edited out…! Seems so silly. “Interracial touching.” Tch!

Also:

In a few cases, in the weeks following the incident, as at CBS, there were directives from on high to writers, producers, directors, and studio programing heads instructing them “to intensify immediately the portrayal and use and actual number of Negroes in entertainment programs.” [x]

Uhm, can we get CBS to have a similar “intensification?”

♥ I shared a piece by this author, Eric Haywood, last week about banning the word “aspiring” from your vocabulary as a writer. This time, I’ve found another bit of searing Haywood advice: “If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” The article is about having work ready to show someone always, at a moment’s notice. I am still working on having one thing finished, much less a constant flow of work-in-progresses, but it’s still important advice that I need to let marinate. Because as a writer, I should never be done writing. There are times when I am “finished” and something is ready to go off into the world (again, still working on that part), but then I should already be on the next thing. As it is, I do have a backlog of ideas for certain things, they’re just, unfortunately, not all TV shows, aka the medium I want to work in. “But that means you should already have a current piece of submission-ready material available at a moment’s notice.” As a chronic procrastinator who often needs deadlines to work, I need to work on “staying ready” more than “I can do it later if you tell me when it’s due.” Writer!Connie still has a lot of work to do.

Also this was great advice for all of us writers, no matter the field:

“In the age of smartphones and cloud computing, there is absolutely no reason for you to ever leave home without a PDF of your latest writing sample just a few thumb-clicks away. Not ever. Period. Let me repeat that being prepared is no automatic guarantee of success.”

♥ I was going to share this article on the end of TV shows we love, and I technically still am, but once I read this line, I immediately disliked it: “It can be argued that a show like Friends never jumped the shark, but I would argue that happened some time between when Ross and Rachel first broke up to when Monica and Chandler got together.” NOPE. The Monica/Chandler arc was the best thing to happen to Friends. You can’t jump the shark then UN-jump it, unless this author just thinks that everything that happened after season 2 was awful? Which is utterly ridiculous. Aside from overuse of the phrase “jumping the shark,” I do agree that shows end for a reason and sometimes it is before we want them to, but that’s just so they don’t end after we hate them. Ugh, that Friends blasphemy just riled me up! (Blasphemy, another word I think I should probably stop overusing…)

♥ This article, “What is a Universal Story Anyway,” is fantastic with regard to discussing what “universal” means and how it silences so many stories. I’ve plucked out some great quotes. Please check out the entire piece because I never thought about the term “universal” in such a way.  My favorite quote, “It’s not our job to cater to the lowest common denominator. It’s our job to raise,” (from The West Wing) definitely fits in with the jist of this piece.

“It’s hard to tell your own story to a broad audience, when you have been deemed “other” from birth.”

“[T]his new shift offers a glimpse into what media might look like if it had always been this way, if “universal” were defined in someone else’s favor.”

“The definition of “universal” is owned by those whose stories have already been told—and told with complexity. Writers who lie outside of this boundary are pressured to adopt the same stories, the same language, used and approved by others. Readers who have never seen themselves reflected back are expected to continue not existing. Using “universal” to enforce only makes our stories narrower, but using it as an opportunity to explore the lives of others, so unlike our own, takes back the term and gives it the meaning it’s meant to have.”

♥ As January passes us by, February into spring means the peak of pilot season! Shows are being picked up for pilots, names are being attached to projects, and soon enough, production will begin on the slate of offerings for the 2015-2016 season (already!?!). Between the midseason premieres, summer limited series, and the onslaught of Netflix/Hulu/Amazon shows we’re expecting, this is a list of a few nerd-friendly TV shows that are coming this year so far.

What are you looking forward to watching?

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

[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.

Flash v Arrow Video Podcast with The Nerds of Color

Replace Barry with Christelle, replace me with Oliver and you have the Nerds of Color’s Flarrow Team!

Looks like podcasting is an official part of my life now. Before last month’s live podcast with Black Girl Nerds and Eric Dean Seaton, I’d never considered being a part of a podcast before. How would I even get involved? But one thing led to another and here I am doing a second podcast/show with at least two more slated for January! I seem to be on a roll!

On this show, for The Nerds of Color‘s weekly “Hard NOC Life” series (great title, right?), I get to virtually meet some of my fellow writers and fans over at the Nerds of Color and we talk about this week’s amazingly epic crossover between The Flash and Arrow, definitely two of my favorite shows this season. I’ve been writing recaps for these two shows for the last few weeks (barring the weeks when my TV broke, where Christelle and Keith took over), so it was great to verbally talk about the show in a cool format with other cool and level-headed fans who are equally passionate about the shows.

So if you want to see me talk about The Flash and Arrow, their trajectories this season, where I think they’re going and other nerd/TV things, watch below!

Or click through here: Flash v Arrow: Dawn of Just Awesomeness | thenerdsofcolor.

Podcasts are kinda fun! And my co-hosts were very easy to talk to, Keith had to cut our 2 hour conversation down to the hour and nine minutes presented before you! I’m glad to be getting more opportunities to meet new people and express my opinions. Maybe I have a future in TV criticism!

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 7.08 Review: “Kill Switch”

After a bit of a broken TV, breaking news, work all day delay, my Castle review is up over on TV Overmind! Click through to check it out!

This episode was a great return to a standard episode, an episode that could be placed in any season. Though it was Espostio-centric, we also got to see a lot more Gates and Lanie (who we got to see in more than one scene over a dead body), more Tori–who some fans suspect could have had a thing with Espo had he not been so hung up over Lanie) and even Marissa, a new cop. It was a great episode to shine some light on lesser seen characters, while remaining true to the Castle formula. The mythology episodes and the romantic episodes are great, but it’s also nice when we can return to a typical case of the week and not slow things down.

I love that this episode had so many people of color as the focus, Esposito, Lanie, more Gates, and even Marissa the uniformed cop. It was great to see. More at: Castle Season 7 Episode 8 Review: “Kill Switch”.

Castle 7.05 Review: “Meme is Murder”

On this week’s Castle, the team investigates the death of a viral meme star and Castle himself is a victim of the dark side of memes.

[…]

This case was a really interesting one. Aside from a few weak links in why Adam chose these particular stars (I’m curious if it was too much for these stars to have been bullies at Adam’s school–he’d already axed his high school bully before this–making his Snappamatic choices a bit weak), it’s a scary thought that this could happen somewhere. We already know of crimes committed via introductions on the internet, but if someone were to post awful things like Netslayer did (and they do, somewhere), would the number people outraged and reporting the account be greater than or less than people following the account to… enjoy… the show? It’s been a while since we’ve had a serial killer episode (especially one not in some way connected to 3XK) and I think they did a good job of his choices in teasing the cops (if not in the choosing of his victims). There was equal parts suspense and humor, rare in serial killer themed episodes.

Read more Castle Season 7 Episode 5 Review: “Meme is Murder”.

Watch Castle’s viral video here: http://abc.go.com/shows/castle/news/castle-news/141027-official-raging-heat-webmercial

Link: How To Make It As A Black Sitcom: Be Careful How You Talk About Race

Link: How To Make It As A Black Sitcom: Be Careful How You Talk About Race on Huff Post Black Voices

Several people have sent this to me and I want to share it here. I haven’t been able to dissect it just yet, as it’s a long read, but it looks to be a really, really in depth piece discussing several decades of black sitcoms and comparing their successes and the ways in which they handle race. All of this as black-ish finds its legs and receives a full season pick-up.  There are some great graphs and discussion of a proposed “era” system of black sitcoms from the 50s until now.

 

Check it out.

Episode 2: A Second Chance at a First Impression

As Fall TV pilots air and verdicts come in from critics and audiences alike, I’ve been thinking a lot this year about how pilots are different from episode 2.

Pilots are written usually by one person (or the initial creative team/duo) and shot early in the year. By May there’s usually a greenlight verdict, when shows can go forward with production of season one. This is when the writing rooms are hired and the creative team proper begins to form.

[This Washington Square Journal article from gives a mini breakdown of the pilot season schedule from pitches in summer to writing in fall to pilot requests in January to pick ups in May. TV writing books break it down better but I couldn’t find a handy link.]

So the writing process for episode 1 sometime in December or so of the year before is going to be different from an episode written by a writing room, sometimes with a different showrunner, and with additional network and studio notes going forward. Most times this coalesces the show into something that gets better and better as the season(s) progress. Though of course, sometimes instead of getting better, a show can get worse for these very same reasons.

In this way, television boldly asks for a second chance at a first impression. This is why characters go missing from pilot to episode 2 or get dropped very early on, why sets look different. TV Tropes related to his phenomenon: Chuck Cunningham Syndrome, Dropped After the Pilot, Early Installment Weirdness. More people are making decisions and this can help or hinder a pilot in the view of the audience.

Pilots have too much work to do. A lot of pilot episodes place a character in a new setting and they must meet their supporting cast and get a feel for the many different problems a character could face in that situation/place. Pilots are about potential. Episode 2, on the other hand, gives you a better feel for what the show will be on a weekly basis. Where the pilot may introduce many different characters and problems, episode 2 can settle and focus on one of those problems, episode 3 another.

Some of the criticism of Gotham, for instance, has been all of the baby villains being shoehorned into episode 1. Sure, it was a clunky way of doing it, but it was about potential. If episode 2 features all of these cameos with little reason for them, then I’d be concerned, but I am hoping that they will take one piece of episode 1 and focus on it in episode 2, therefore giving us room to breathe in the story. Other shows struggle do this as well. Lost was known for introducing loads and loads of characters in its pilot (though it’s pilot is a bit unfair as it was 2 hours long and produced like a feature film), then focusing on one character per episode via the flashbacks.

On the comedy side, I think of the comparisons of black-ish to The Cosby Show. As I state in my black-ish post, it’s a bit soon to be comparing black-ish to Cosby at its height and when comparing pilots, I think The Cosby Show‘s is stronger writing and humor-wise. But I think Cosby brings to mind something that I hope remains true for black-ish. It had really great ratings (of course it is–it has the coveted Modern Family lead-in and a summer’s worth of anticipation), but it wasn’t flaw free and many are concerned about the message it’s presenting about “being black”–a discussion for another day–so they may not tune in for episode 2. The Cosby Show pilot, besides having a different set, also only features four Huxtable children–poor Sondra was all forgot about (ahem, didn’t exist) when Claire/Cliff (I forget which) states that they have four children. I bring this to mind to say that between the writing of the pilot and episode 2, a decision to make the family actually match Bill Cosby’s real-life family make up was made and the show progressed from there and gained additional story potential for it.

Anything can happen between episodes 1 and 2, there’s so much time between them. So if there’s a show you were invested in and the pilot didn’t quite grab you, at least give episode 2 a shot. Things could have changed for the better.

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]

Link: Stephanie Beatriz on Why Diverse Casts Are Needed on TV | Latina Roles on TV & Movies

Stephanie Beatriz on Why Diverse Casts Are Needed on TV | Latina Roles on TV & Movies

Stephanie Beatriz on Why Diverse Casts Are Needed on TV | Latina Roles on TV & Movies

Everyone PLEASE read this awesome blog post by actress Stephanie Beatriz on Latina.com. I love Brooklyn 99, not only because it’s funny and it’s so similar to Parks and Recreation (same showrunner, so duh on that part), but because it’s so diverse and tries to actually look like a New York police station. The fact that there are TWO black men and TWO Latina women on the show feels like a first on network TV (psh, cable even) and it shouldn’t. But it is and the fact that Stephanie didn’t think she had another shot on the show after Melissa Fumero was cast is absolutely ridiculous but completely indicative of how the business works for people of color.

I am so glad that there are two Latina women on the show and the one is the main love interest and neither are made to be stereotypes of their culture, they just are and they don’t compete for men or attention, they coexist like real human beings. Just the fact that they’re both on the show and have such different personalities is fantastic because it immediately disproves the idea that people of color can only fulfill one type at a time on any given show. Brooklyn 99 just makes me really happy and I am glad that in this dwindling age of network comedy, it’s a beacon of hope for both a brilliant, hilarious show, but also for the future of what television will look like. I quoted Stephanie below, but click through for more of her blog posts.

When I was waiting to hear about my screen test for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I started looking at Deadline.com constantly. It’s a website that often posts up to the minute casting news, and is pretty handy during pilot season if you want to drive yourself absolutely bananas. I checked it, at minimum, eight times an hour. I was a woman possessed, because this show was the thing I wanted more than anything in the world. And then I saw that Melissa Fumero had been cast as Amy Santiago on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I felt my guts roll up into my throat and try to escape out of my mouth. Omgomgomgomg that’s it then. There’s no way in hell a major network is gonna cast two Latina actresses in such a tight ensemble show I AM SCREWED.

And then next day my agents called and told me I’d booked it.

I couldn’t believe it. I had been saying to my boyfriend the night before how there was JUST NO WAY. Normally, The Latina is a singular element of the ensemble she is working in. She’s there to provide contrast, or sexuality, or humor. Or she’s there to clean the floors and/or steal your man. There are some serious stereotypes very much alive in film and TV today, and The Latina is one of them.

Here’s the thing though. The world is changing. Slowly but surely, television is changing. The character stereotypes are changing, or being turned inside out by some fantastic writers and actors (I’m looking at you, Orange is the New BlackScandal, and The Mindy Project). People of color are on TV playing roles that are fleshed out, complex, human. And yes, some of those characters are maids. Some are sexy heartbreakers there to steal your man. Some own BBQ joints, while some are Chiefs of Staff. Some are prisoners, and some are cops. All are real people with hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, and all the other vast human emotions and desires.

Right now, you can turn on your television or log onto your Netflix or Hulu account and SEE YOURSELF. Not always, and maybe not as much as you’d like, but you can. You can find characters who look like you. I couldn’t do that very often when I was a kid, and it subtly informed me that I might be kind of unimportant. Thank God for Luis and Maria (Sonia Manzano and Emilio Delgado) on Sesame Street, who were the first Latinos on TV I ever saw. I was fascinated by them both, and remember thinking how lucky I was that my mom looked just like Maria. I watched Sesame Street into junior high, simply because I loved seeing Maria and Luis on TV. In fact, in my memory, PBS was one of the only places I regularly saw people of all races on my television.

This is important. Because young women are watching TV, and they are getting messages about who they are in the world, who the world will allow them to be. And in big important steps, television is showing a reflection back to those young women that YOU CAN BE WHATEVER THE HELL YOU DAMN WELL PLEASE, and that two Latinas on one show is NORMAL. I think that’s a win for everybody. 

–Stephanie Beatriz

Blog Rebrand!

Hey you, fellow TV junkie!

Now that the Fall 2014 TV season is approaching, I’m looking to do more with my blog and my tv writing career in general. I decided one way to foster that was to change the domain name here, so Constarstudiestv.wordpress.com is now ConStarWrites.TV!

Same banner, new words.

Same banner, new words.

I’m excited for the domain change because it describes both aspects of what I want this blog–and my life–to be: writing for and writing about television. I hope to continue to post links to articles and write episode reviews and discuss issues of diversity both in front of and behind the camera–and who knows what else! I’m keeping my mind open for ways to expand my online writing presence.

So enjoy the quicker URL and come chat with me about TV. Either leave a comment here, or say hi over on Twitter.

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!

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: The Flash

I’d watched The Flash already (shhh), but I enjoyed it again the second time, which is a great omen. Obviously, I’ve been ranting and praising Arrow for the last two months and I really enjoyed Grant Gustin as Barry on that show, so I was pleased that the pilot held up to that portrait of him (even if they did fudge the order of events from the way they happened on Arrow). I think the characters are in solid places and it’s not too much a replica of its sister show. It’s whimsical and light and fast and fun and I really enjoy that.

I love its diversity: the Wests are black and Cisco is Hispanic and there were some other background characters of color that made me feel like I was more in the real world than most other tv shows. I love that Jesse L. Martin gets to be a cop again, but with fantastical story lines. He’s such a NY good cop icon, especially in TV land, so it really helps sell Central City as this Metropolis type place, compared to Arrow’s dark Gotham like elements.

In fact, the two shows play light and dark the same way Superman and Batman do, which I think will help make them awesome sister-shows. The way that people love Batman and Superman to interact and reference each other. If anything, if Batman is always in our mental periphery when watching Arrow, I think that Superman could be when watching Flash. Barry is clearly more readily willing to be a hero, a lighter beacon than the Arrow, so it’ll be fun to see what his hero’s journey is. I think Oliver knows how to save people, but doesn’t know how to be a hero, a symbol, just yet; while Barry knows how to be a hero, but doesn’t quite know how to save people yet. He’s got powers, but is still learning how to use them. Something deep and analytical like that. Either way, rewatching this pilot only made me more excited for it to premiere.

Verdict: Yes, yes, yes!

ConStar’s Pilot Watch: Gracepoint

I watched the Broadchurch pilot once, then never made it back for the rest of the series. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, but maybe at the time it was a bit heavy for what I wanted to watch? I have But from what I remember of it, this show is a scene by scene American recreation of most of that pilot. And of course the star is the same–with his American accent. Wasn’t sure David Tennant’s accent was working for me, but it seemed to ease itself into naturality (a word I’m making up, yes) by halfway through the episode.

I really liked that the dad of the dead boy was Hispanic and I think his performance surprised and pleased me most of all. (Oh and that the daughter’s boyfriend was black—can’t remember if that was the case on Broadchurch.) There was something about the dad, especially in the scene in the morgue, that I loved. He portrayed what it might look like for a father to lose his son really well. In fact, the silence that reigned in the theater I watched this in when Tennant and Gunn (I’m bad at character names upon a first viewing, apparently) inform the family was a true testament to the great job the actors and the director did of pulling the viewers in to such a horrifyingly sad and intimate moment in this family’s life. Anna Gunn was great and I think a perfect fit for this role.

I would like to know what happens, but I’m not sure my patience will hold up, I apparently didn’t have it for BC. I like mysteries though and this certainly reminds me of some random mystery novels I read as a kid—small beach town, murder, where everyone is a suspect. I meant to binge Broadchurch when it was done airing in the US on TV, but I never did. Maybe I’ll make the effort here. (Then watch the original, because it’s bound to be better.)

Verdict: In truth, I might DVR the show then never watch it, like I did with Broadchurch and that’s nothing against the show, that’s all me. But it’s not something I wouldn’t watch, I just might not watch it. Make sense? If not, ask me about it and convince me to watch it.