In Memoriam: Binge Watching Cease and Desist

It was a long journey, but I’ve finished Gilmore Girls. It was with mixed emotions because though I very much enjoyed it, as it grew towards the end of the series, it felt like it was time.

It’s funny because I started watching the show near the end of the summer and would play episode after episode while I worked in the background, applying for jobs and whatnot. It obviously slowed once I started working, so I think it took me longer to watch the final season than the other six combined.

For now, I won’t be jumping onto a new show anytime soon. I want to get on a reading kick, considering all the books I placed on hold are coming in at the same time. It’s overwhelming! There is nothing better, however, than sitting by the tree, curled up on the couch, with a fire going in the fireplace. I have a ton of books I want to read, so it’s time I got to it!

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In the coming weeks, there will be a lot of reviews to cover, but for now let’s focus on Gilmore Girls. Over the years, I watched an episode here or there, but it never captured my complete attention. It took me a few episodes to really get into it, but once I did, it turned into full blown binge mode.

The best part of the show is the relationship between Lorelei and Rory, mother and daughter for those who haven’t seen the show. Lorelei had Rory when she was 16 and raised her on her own, away from her wealthy, overbearing parents. For Lorelei and Rory, it’s the close friendship before parental relationship that is fun and works for 1% of the population. Rory happens to be this straight A, innocent 16 year old who is a breeze to raise and whose only real issues are boy troubles. It’s the whole, tv fantasy thing that allows it to be slightly believable and enjoyable.

Gilmore Girls contains all the aspects a successful tv show needs- relatable characters who you care about for better or worse, good traits and faults; familiar, comforting settings, such as Luke’s Diner, where the characters can return in order to break up momentous, show-altering events in order to alleviate stress for the audience; and quirky consistencies, characters, settings, and behaviors that an audience latches onto in order to remember and care about the show, for example the town where the majority of scenes takes place, Stars Hollow.

More so than with movies and theater, television allows an audience to grow and understand characters. It’s like Orange Is The New Black in that people have more sympathy for these characters in prison than they probably would for people in real life in these situations. We have a view of the minds of the characters, who they are, what their actions say about them, and we sympathize, whether or not we love or hate them. As long as the characters are fleshed out and an audience is invested in them, you can take them almost anywhere, with the thought that at least part of the core of that character remains.

Gilmore Girls was good in this sense because both the main characters, as well as the supporting ones who are just as loveable, undergo transitions from the first to last episode, yet by the end of the show, you still see similarities within them. The ending was not major, life-altering (for me or them), or overly significant, but I did have some teary moments. Listen, watching a season from start to finish is an investment. It’s sad that there’s no longer a journey to go on with these characters, but at least it didn’t end with a blank screen or everyone dead. You’re also left with a binge watching hangover that leaves you sleepy, fuzzy,and wondering why the hell you do things like this to yourself.

Many people talk about how unrealistic the show is with the premise and how seemingly perfect the characters are, even with their flaws, but I think it’s part of the quirkiness of the show. It wasn’t trying to be meaningful, and though it still had its moments of poignancy, it remained true to its cute qualities it flourished using. Another topic of contention was the dialogue because seemingly no one speaks so quickly or wittily within conversation. Again, I think you could say that about almost any show. Stumbling over words or thinking of the perfect thing to say after a conversation, are things that happen to me regularly, but it wouldn’t work in a show all the time. Dialogue has an opportunity to be perfect and smart on tv and it should be. So often, quality dialogue does not exist.

I say this for television, movies, and theater. It would not matter what a writer does to his/her characters, so long as the consumer cares about the characters and the dialogue is fluid and NOT cheesy. The most poignant and effective moments on television are inspired by subtlety. There are so many shows out there that I love the idea of, but cannot watch because the dialogue doesn’t make it feel real. Glee is a good example of this from where it was in season one to how it is now. When it first started, it was super effective because it was showing something that hadn’t been done before and was a great source of influence on a younger audience. The writers saw what they were capable of and completely messed it up by magnifying the subtlety and turning the show into a parody of itself. No offense to fans of Glee though…

I’m not saying Gilmore Girls was perfect or the best written show on television. There were definitely some moments through the show that made me cringe or roll my eyes, but that is the nature of a tv show made for a young female audience- and I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. It was an enjoyable show that was too easy to binge watch, and though I probably wasted an embarrassing amount of time streaming it, I’m glad I went back and watched it.

However silly it seems, I am sad to say goodbye to those characters and the cute town of Stars Hollow. It’s time I tap into my creative and intellectual side now and dive into all the books I have to read!

Amy Poehler Is Better Than You

As promised I have an entirely loving book review for Amy Poehler’s Yes Please, which I only have amazing things to say about. I want to be her protégée. I want to be brave, hard-working, confident, and resilient like she has been throughout her career from the first time she ever improvised on stage as a fourth grader in The Wizard of Oz to now where she is finishing her last season on Parks and Recreation.

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There is something completely endearing about Amy Poehler and the work she has done. To me, she is the embodiment of quality entertainment, creating work that is vibrant, sweet, and hilarious. During my reading of this, and let me tell you, I tried with all that I had to slow down, I awed as much as I laughed out loud. As a writer, she is relatable; as a comedian, she takes risks and doesn’t hold back; and as a person (at least from what she portrays in her book because I, unfortunately, am not blessed to be her friend-yet), she is kind, smart, and passionate.

In the book, she remarks how it never occurred to her that she wouldn’t succeed because she knew she would do whatever it takes to get there. For her, as it should be for all entertainers, it wasn’t about the money or fame, but the satisfaction she takes from expressing her creative inspiration for others to enjoy. Too often we consume entertainment that is all for the fame, or infamy, it can garner, from going viral to having one’s face plastered all over the internet. Listen, I get that, especially for this profession, one needs to get attention in order to be successful, but Amy Poehler is just one of the amazing writers and actors/actresses who create quality content rather than cheap hi jinks.

The book is titled Yes Please because that is her motto in life, personally and professionally. One can never have too many incredible, supportive, passionate people in their lives to get them through anything. There can never be a job or opportunity too small if it offers you experience and important lessons. Part of what she drills home is that she didn’t get to this point in her career all by herself. There were other people surrounding her and they included mutual, beneficial relationships. We can’t think too highly of ourselves or expect to get anywhere by putting others down. As she also says in her book, what’s good for you, might not be good for me, but I respect that (paraphrased). Competition is important, but the secret power to success is support and hard-work.

I won’t analyze every point or comment in this book, but I could if you wanted me to, because I think Amy’s voice and stories will do it better. However, there is one more thing that I found incredibly poignant and relatable and I wanted to address it. In her preface, and throughout the book, she talks a lot about how certain things are hard, such as writing. I’ve said before how writing can so often be seen as coming from a romantic, poetic flow, when really it is a difficult process comprised of many different stages. Amy gets it. She also says something that seems so obvious and yet, I find myself constantly failing to realize.

Talking about or planning “the thing,” is not doing “the thing.” My thing, as it is for Amy, is writing. I find myself getting frequently caught up in the semantics of writing, trying to finds the best apps, the best space, and the best processes to promote my best writing. The truth is, my best writing probably will never come from the first draft of anything. I can plan and blabber and brag all I want about writing, but none of it counts until I’m actually doing the writing. Getting it all down and putting in the time is the only way I can produce anything of substance. If I want my “thing” to be writing, then I can’t just call myself a writer and look like a writer, I have to write. The same goes for anything I do in my life. Putting the time in gets results. Hard-work and effort leads to bigger accomplishments. Doing “the thing” is the only way I can be successful with “the thing.”

Being productive can be hard, especially in this instant gratification obsessed world. Many times when I finally sit myself down to write, and I of course have better days than others, I will write for five minutes then somehow find myself back on Twitter doing nothing of substance. It’s almost a sickness as much as it’s a joy and convenience. Amy admits that it’s hard to follow-through and find time to fit things in, but she is glaring evidence that doing “the thing” works.

Reading this book has only confirmed what I always knew, I want to be Amy Poehler’s best friend, or at least her mentee- actually that’s exactly what I want to be. She has fallen prey to awkward moments like anyone, saying things she didn’t mean, not knowing how to resolve conflict, and living through difficult phases in her life, but she kept constantly working and heading towards something.

Her stories are funny and well-written. She goes from poignant, beautiful descriptions of her love for her family, to weird poems written for Tina Fey. There are discussions of her early career working in Chicago and New York that was sometimes messy but always important, to all the late-night hits or misses on SNL. Relationships are appreciated and respected, even if they never lasted. She doesn’t apologize for being who she is or wanting what she desires, which exudes confidence that can only come from experience, both successes- for example, being nominated for awards and orchestrating funny on-stage moments- and failures- for example, not winning said awards. She doesn’t simply tell her views on life, but she shows it, which is the mark of any great writer.

Though she mentions how being a woman in this culture has sometimes made it more difficult, she doesn’t linger on it. She is one of those people who allow their work to do the talking for her. She is a proud feminist and embodies what many women do and should do-be confident, efficient, and fearless even when you are scared witless. She doesn’t put down other women or men because she knows she doesn’t have to in order to be who she is. That is wonderful. And refreshing.

There are so many more things I could say and reflect on about this book, but I won’t because I think it’s an important read. There are facets on childhood, womanhood, career struggles, career successes, motherhood, and just working so hard at what she loves. Anyone can find inspiration through this and I wish I could read it all again without knowing what it holds. Though I will read it again eventually and am certain I will still enjoy every sentence.

I’m also certain that at some point in the summer of ’89 when Amy worked at an ice cream shop my parents frequented, I consumed ice cream she scooped from my mother’s stomach. If you don’t think that is not equivalent to meeting her, then I don’t think we can be friends anymore.

Read this book! You’ll be sad when it ends, but you will be better, smarter, and happier when you do.

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