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Wednesday, Jun 22, 2011
We stuck around for the whole season, got our hopes up when things improved in the last few episodes, and this is the way it ends? Ugh. Spoilers abound, of course.

In the space of a week, AMC’s The Killing was renewed for a second season and wrapped up its first season. And the conclusion was mightily unsatisfying. Most TV critics and discerning viewers gave this show a shot based on both its pedigree and its strong start. AMC has launched a small group of highly intelligent original series over the past few years, including Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and the unjustly-ignored, now-canceled Rubicon. At first, The Killing seemed to fit right in with that lineup. It was dark and uncompromising, purporting to follow a murder investigation over the long term, with each episode covering another day in the case. But the show wasn’t just going to stay with our intrepid detectives, the dour Linden (Mireille Enos) and the twitchy Holder (Joel Kinnaman). It was also going to follow the mayoral campaign of Darren Richmond (Billy Campbell), the candidate in whose car Rosie Larson’s body was discovered. Most importantly, the show was also going to track the grief process of Rosie’s family, as they first learned of her death, through the funeral arrangements, and going forward.


This all worked beautifully for the first three or four episodes of the show. But things started to go astray in the middle of the season, as the detectives circled around Rosie’s teacher Bennet Ahmed (Malcolm David McLaren), a Muslim with a thing for pretty young students. Ahmed’s alibi for the night of Rosie’s death didn’t add up, but viewers knew that he wasn’t going to be the killer. So we spent a whole chunk of episodes as the show tried to convince us that it really was him, only to find out that of course it wasn’t. Things picked up again as the series entered its final stretch, with plot twists that seemed organic and actual headway being made in the case. An episode-long detour in the 11th episode, “Missing”, turned out to be valuable character development time as Linden and Holder spent the day searching for Linden’s truant teenage son. “Missing” was a great episode, far removed from the main premise of the show, and it would’ve fit nicely about halfway through the season to help us get to know our leads better. But coming two episodes away from the season finale, it almost felt like too little, too late.


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Friday, Jun 10, 2011
As it enters its 400th (or 11th) season, Degrassi: The Next Generation has clearly discovered the secret for success are equal parts addicting and guilty pleasure.

I read a quote once that I now am unable to find via the usually helpful Google search, but the gist of it was, “One should never feel guilty about pleasure.” I want to say that the quote is from Mae West, but that might just be wishful thinking. Anyway, while I want to agree with the spirit of that quote, I feel too much embarrassment about some of my television choices to fully accept that mantra.


There are many shows I’m not exactly proud to say that I watch, but none that cause me quite as much shame as Degrassi: The Next Generation. This reigns supreme as my guilty pleasure, beating out such favorites as The Real Housewives franchise, Jersey Shore and even House Hunters: International, for a variety of reasons. First and the most obvious, it’s a show that revolves around kids aged 13 to 17 and I am a grown woman of 21. Second, the plotlines consist of the stuff you’d expect to see in bad ‘70s after school specials (were there good after school specials? Probably not). And third, on a good day the acting can only be described as mediocre.


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Tuesday, Jun 7, 2011
A potential exploration into the drama behind the glamour, The Playboy Club cast Amber Heard as the new Bunny in town, Naturi Naughton, who wants to be the first black Playboy centerfold, and Laura Benanti as their Bunny Mother.

Upfront season is a time of cautious optimism; the pilots you’ve long been praying would make it through have been shot, picked up by networks, and the actor that you love is finally getting their big break (or second shot). But the worst feeling is when you’ve put too much stock into a show that just isn’t panning out the way you’d like.


At first, I had high hopes for NBC’s The Playboy Club, and on some level, I still do. Set in my favorite era, the ‘60s, I thought I’d be a network version of Mad Men, except Chicago-style. A potential exploration into the drama behind the glamour, The Playboy Club cast Amber Heard as the new Bunny in town, Naturi Naughton, who wants to be the first black Playboy centerfold, and Laura Benanti as their Bunny Mother.


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Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Since it's inception, reality TV has divided our culture into two camps; those who love to hate it and those who hate to love it.

My feelings about reality TV are hard to explain. As a person who wants to make a living writing for television I think it’s a horrible trend that needs to end soon. Preferably in the next year. Yet, as a young woman of Generation Y, I am absolutely addicted to reality TV. I love it the way I love candy corn, even when I feel myself becoming sick as I gorge myself, I can’t stop eating it. I would say that reality TV is my guilty pleasure except that I don’t feel the least bit guilty about it. My guilt mostly comes from the fact that I don’t feel guilty, if that makes any sense.


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Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Downton Abbey is the How the Other Half Lives of period dramas. But rather than inside/outside, upstairs/downstairs emerges as the central division.

The house is everywhere. Whether it ‘s one of the stock movies about haunted houses or in literature such as Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street, it’s clear that the house has another function that transcends its materiality. The house (or rather, mansion) figures prominently on British television, rather like a never ending royal wedding. As urban theorist Anthony King observed;


“Socially, buildings support relationships, provide shelter, express social divisions, permit hierarchies, house institutions, enable the expression of status and authority, embody property relations; spatially, they establish place, define distance, enclose space, differentiate area;culturally, they store sentiment, symbolize meaning, express identity; politically, they symbolize power, represent authority, become an arena for conflict, or a political resource.” (King, Global Cities. Routledge 1990)


The house is thus never a given, an uncultured or objective setting where the lives of the characters happen to take place. It’s rather a force in itself, at once reflecting and shaping value systems that are inherent to society and that are incarnated in individuals themselves. ITV’s Downton Abbey is a perfect case in point, as even the title of the series indicates the importance that the house will come to assume; Downton Abbey is the estate of the Crawley family, inhabited by them and their small army of servants.


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