Mockingjay: What Goes Into A Revolution

I’ve talked a little bit about Mockingjay my past two posts, but I thought I would detail more about it for this week’s Rave Review Tuesday.

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To be honest, I didn’t remember much about the book going into it because it was not my favorite and I was bored through a lot of it. It is rare that I will ever claim to have liked a movie better than a book, and to be fair, I won’t make the official claim because I would need a refresher on the book, but I enjoyed it a lot in this format.

The acting in this film is what set it apart. Jennifer Lawrence is a no brainer in every movie I’ve seen her in and she seems to have gained a full grasp on Katniss. It will be interesting to see how she does in the final film as it finishes its run. One thing I will say is that I didn’t care for how Suzanne Collins portrayed Katniss in this book.

I was talking to my cousin Mikey as we were leaving the theater and we agreed that there’s more of a lovesick angle going on with her, rather than the struggles she undertakes as the brave, reluctant heroine she begins as. To make it more effective, I would liked to see her accept her role in the revolution without it being all about the boys and her mixed feelings on them. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be elements of love involved because it’s so natural to human nature. One series that incorporated both love and war extremely well was, of course, my beloved Harry Potter. I rooted for relationships and enjoyed seeing them be fostered and mature, but the characters made full progressions with and without who they were with in the end.

The other standouts for me were Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Elizabeth Banks. I feel like I missed a few of their lines because people were laughing so hard every time they talked. Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore were also excellent, but underused thus far. I believe they play a larger role in the next installment, though I don’t quite remember. As for Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson- I’m more of a Gale girl myself- they also did a nice job, even though Josh wasn’t who I envisioned for Peeta.

Without comparing it to the book, because I don’t think I could make a fair assessment, I will say that the action scenes played out very well. There was a heavy element of suspense that built throughout. This was due in part to how emotional the characters and the events progressed to a point of desperation. I can’t say more though because I try to remain relatively unspoilerish. The purpose of here first part of the story is to establish the set of circumstances that lead people towards revolution and end at the climax just before it begins. I say this as general as possible and I think they do an excellent job of this.

As we go forward, I am paying more attention to the posts that get the most hits or likes, not because I’m focused solely on that, but I’m trying to gain a better theme for my blog. I’m not certain my reviews are effective enough to be worthwhile sharing, but I’m not sold on quitting just yet. I know that my reviews on books are better than other mediums and I think that has a lot to do with my experiences analyzing literature.

Perhaps I should focus on formulating a thesis of sorts before just writing and reflecting as I go instead of giving it up. Please let me know your thoughts!

Family Dynamics As Shown In Books

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book I will be reviewing today because I did, I promise. It’s just that, the excitement coursing through me as I force myself away from Amy Poehler’s new book Yes Please to be a productive, functioning human rather than a cackling fiend on the couch is impalpable. Next week, you’re going to get a really long, loving review of how much I love that book and I can say that with confidence even now because though I’ve had it for just a few hours, I’m tearing my way through it. And it is phenomenal.

But, I can’t get ahead of myself and allow this other excellent book from falling into a black hole of never being appreciated by me. The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout has been on my reading list for awhile now, but got tossed aside a few times when all of my on-hold books kept surging in and I had to finish those on a deadline.

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The story begins with from an outsider’s perspective, showcasing how humans have the tendency to observe and react to another’s life, particularly those who live around us, are close to us, or are celebrities that we feel belong to us (Amy Poehler and I are basically best friends for reals though, I promise). In this case, a mother and daughter focus on a small family who lived in their neighborhood, two boys and a girl, whose family mysteries seem alluring and intriguing and unknown. In this method, Strout also establishes the characters’ personalities through an outsider’s view, so when we finally meet the Burgess’ we feel as though we already know them. This is interesting because oftentimes when I’m reading, I feel as though I am next to the main characters, undergoing every event with them. In this case, I felt as though I was watching them, much like a neighbor might, and I wonder if that was the author’s intent.

From the preface, I thought the story was going to be focused on a mystery that was highlighted, but ended up being a sort of “MacGuffin” or otherwise an afterthought to the actual plot of the story. In the end, that mysteries so-called resolution doesn’t really matter to the characters and after reflecting on it, I found it doesn’t matter so much to me either. As in life, with books, you travel on a journey with complicated people whose ordinary lives are turned extraordinary through quality writing, interesting plot twists, and obstacles that arise quickly because it usually needs to be resolved by the end of the story. How things turn extraordinary often depend on the genre because an extraordinary fantastical tale about a young wizard facing the world’s evilest noseless man is different than an extraordinary memoir about a young woman embarking on a months’ long hike by herself. Yes, sometimes plot lines in stories are juiced up in order to make them interesting and oftentimes what happens to the characters wouldn’t happen to your real-life next door neighbor, but a piece of the story and those characters feel alive and recognizable.

This is the case in The Burgess Boys. There’s nothing aggressively extraordinary about these characters when you observe them at a glance, but the fact the Strout brings them to life, gives them a voice, and makes them breathe, allows a reader to see that mundane life is fraught with complications and hardships that are born from both how a person feels and acts as well as anything that might happen to them.

Part of what attracted me to the novel is not what happened because I didn’t feel as though a lot did happen. What’s interesting is seeing these different personalities that make up a dynamic of a family. My own family is close and loving and we definitely have our similarities, but there are tons of differences between us. From our family, we find the voice of reason, the comedian, the drama queen (YUP, that’s me), etc, as all families do. Sometimes our family members do things that don’t make sense to us or are wrong or are exceedingly kind, but the best types of families, the closest ones, stick through it to support, even if it looks messy and is full of mistakes.

To me, that is the essence of The Burgess Boys whose main characters are a family who are different from each other, both on an emotional level based off of life experiences and on a personality level that stems from an inherent narrative (and probably other scientific things I won’t pretend to understand), but they share a similarity that, if nothing else, is due to the fact that they are family.

Life and family are complicated and sometimes we get frustrated by that and it takes reading a book to make us understand how fragile everyone else is too. To our families and those closest friends, we are at our most vulnerable because they see us through our best and worst times. Other than just family members, sometimes we put certain people on pedestals or judge others as somehow lesser than us, or we even put people in boxes and expect that we know who they are and what they do. But people have the remarkable ability of surprising us, even those we know and love best, and regardless of if that surprise is good or bad or in-between, we have to accept it or we don’t.

I can’t honestly claim any hard feelings or angst with my family or other people (unless I’m oblivious), but it is interesting to read about. I would definitely recommend this book because it is not only a good read, but it makes you reflect on your own family and the part you play in it. Enjoy!

Books, Books, Books

I finally went ahead and did it. I read a Gillian Flynn book. Wait, no, not that one. Not yet at least because just as I was ready to settle down with it, you know, Gone Girl, my mom lent it to someone else. Instead, I found Flynn’s novel Dark Places that drew me in with an interesting storyline.

It’s rare that I’ll stick with a book without finding some remote interest in characters, but the mystery had a hold on me that made me power read through. I cannot say I was overly invested in these characters and it’s not because they were flawed and “dark.” When reading, I don’t need to love characters or relate to them, but I do crave a fascination in them, wondering what will happen and how they might react in a situation. To be honest, as much as I liked the book overall, I didn’t care enough about the people in the beginning, which I think would have left more of an impact, in order to care in the end. All I wanted was to solve the mystery.

The mystery is what happened to a family of five, a single-mother, her three young daughters, and her teen son, who was arrested and convicted for the murders of three of them. These are not spoilers, but the premise offered on the back of the book. To start, we, the readers, are taken to a point years later when the sole surviving victim, the youngest daughter, is still very angry at the world (rightfully so), especially when no longer being able to rely on living off of the infamy that tore her life apart. An assortment of characters both living in the present and those dead looking back on the past to that last day carry the storyline along only in the sense that they fulfill necessary roles. There was some decent character development, but nothing that heightened my investment in them.

In mysteries, I’ve found that this is often the case. The premise, mystery, and resolution are far more intriguing than what characters may have to offer. It doesn’t matter who they are so long as they take you to the places you need to go, or more appropriately, can be carried to the places you need them to go. One person who incorporates both a great story and well-developed characters is JK Rowling in her Cormoran Strike series. Okay, yes, I suppose I’m slightly biased when it comes to my Literary Queen, but that is an excellent series so far! (Harry Potter will always be better, sorry I’m not sorry).

Please don’t think that I am bashing Flynn’s writing because I did enjoy reading and I could not put it down. The ending wasn’t terrible, though I was disappointed I didn’t figure it out, and at least it had a resolution! I will always be cautious about reading mysteries in the fear that they will not be resolved in the end thanks to In The Woods by Tana French.

I recommend this book, especially if you are a fan of Flynn’s Gone Girl, but then again, I haven’t read that yet.

Another book I read this week was Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs. To put it lightly, this was a strange novel. Spoken through the main character’s inner monologue, nothing big really happens, save for a few intriguing moments, so the story has to be carried along by characters. Though the main character definitely left me wondering of what she was capable, I didn’t care enough about the supporting characters that the protagonist is obsessed with and I think this hindered my appreciation for the book.

As a reader, such as in life, you don’t have to agree with a character’s motive, but it’s important to be able to understand where in which an action or feeling stems. I kept waiting for something momentous to happen, which is not a bad writing device, but was left a bit confused as to where it ended. That’s not to say that I was in the mourning stage of having finished a book because I didn’t love it enough for that (that is a real thing by the way, it has to be), but it also didn’t leave me seething mad, so I will take it.

I didn’t hate the book by any means, I just thought it was strange. Again, not necessarily a bad thing.

To end this edition of Rave Review Tuesday, here’s a bit of a tangent. Since connecting my e-reader to the library, I’ve found some books that I wouldn’t normally have read, but I’m also missing that inspired feeling I get when I step into an actual library or bookstore, surrounded by books and creative, imaginative spirits. That’s why I try to alternate where I access my books. Yes, the e-reader is more convenient, but there is something to be said about holding an actual book in your hand to connect with it.

When a Book Isn’t Worth Your Time

There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book. The question is, how far into it do you allow yourself to go before you decide if it is a good book or not worth your time?

I’ve been really enjoying the liberty I have to read books at my leisure and not textbooks. I’ve gone through quite a lot these past few months, some I’ve loved and left me sad when it was finished, and others I thought, eh, and tossed aside. There is one book I started last week that I had high expectations for when starting. I won’t name it.

Travel books in particular have piqued my interest as of late. I love reading about the Mediterranean and other European cities in memoir form. There is something special about being a part of that travel experience, seeing different perspectives of the places and food known to that culture. That is why I latched onto this book and prepared myself to become immersed in a different world. Until I didn’t.

I kept waiting for that moment. I guess you don’t know what that moment is until you’re already there, so it can’t be defined. You just have to wait to cross the threshold and then you’re making your way through the book and surprised and dismayed when it’s over.

The food was mentioned as well as the idea of traveling, but the focus was more on the subject and his/her feelings rather than where they are. It was a well-written book and I can see why people may have enjoyed it, but I came for something I wasn’t getting and it didn’t grab my interest.

And so I stepped away from it.

We are so fortunate to be surrounded by books of all different genres, interests, cultures, and twists. So many, that there is no way to read them all. I got about one-third of the way through the book when it occurred to me that I didn’t have to finish this book. I could put it down unfinished, return it to the library, and carry on to another, without guilt.

It wasn’t one of those books that everyone claims will make you a better person for it, but even if it was, there are so many others out there that can do the same. It’s not that I’m against reading and learning about things that are different because that would go against the point of reading. In NBA endless array of selection, I have the option to pick and choose, and so I did.

I was inspired to do this because of my grandma who is an avid reader. She is open to read anything and everything, but she’s told me that now, if she doesn’t like it, she won’t continue because there are others waiting for her to open. I won’t go as far as to say that finishing this book would have been a waste of time. Reading all the way through may have granted me further insight and perhaps I would have ended up liking it in the end. But I didn’t feel it necessary.

There’s so much entertainment in all mediums out there that we have a right to decide what to enjoy or at least get through and what to skip over and put aside. We have so many things in life that we don’t have control over, and so I think, as preachy as this might sound, that we should try to maintain control over our entertainment.

If I have to be sick with a cold, again, I want to curl up on my couch, cup of tea in one hand, box of tissues in the other, and reading something that helps get me back to normal as quickly and smoothly as possible.

To be fair, if I had bought the book and not taken it out of the library, I would have agonized my way through it. That’s just the principle of it.

The One Where I Watch A Cartoon

This summer, I’ve run through patterns where I will find a new TV show and all I want to do is watch it, or there will be other periods where all I want to do is read. While I do other things in my life that are actually productive during these times, I’ve found my recent freedom from school-related things to be indulgent.

I’ve talked in length about my annual Harry Potter re-read and that did not disappoint. On Rave Review Tuesdays, I have also talked about Orange is the New Black and Mitch Albom’s The First Phone Call From Heaven. While I am currently reading David Sedaris’s new book Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls (and only have two days to finish since it’s from the library), I went through a phase the past couple of weeks of watching a new TV show (for myself, not new in general).

Disclaimer, if I’m even using that in correct fashion, but I have never really been one to watch cartoons. Growing up, I absorbed Disney princess movie after Disney princess movie, where I think my proclivity for crowns stems from, but when it came to sitting down to watch Saturday morning cartoons, I was never into them.

This might be due to the fact that my sister is three years older, had three years older taste, and I wanted to follow her in every step, including TV shows. I only ever would glimpse cartoons here and there when my brother, who is five years younger, would watch them, and at that point, I had no patience for them. I was the freak who watched Friends when she was much too young. I always preferred Saved by the Bell or Sweet Valley High because it offered much more drama and romance.

My family went through a phase when we were older of watching Family Guy and I thought it was funny in parts, but never my favorite. We were never allowed to watch The Simpsons when we were growing up and when I got older it just never occurred to me to watch that. It especially became easier to not have to watch what was actually on TV because of DVR and other forms of new media that allowed me to watch my favorites anytime I wanted.

There was also the period of my life from seventh grade to my freshman year of high school that all I watched was Friends. I don’t know why I was allowed to buy all of the DVD sets, especially because a year later they were so much cheaper!

Anyways, back to the topic, when it comes to cartoons, I am pretty much all about the Disney princess movies and that’s it, until I found a new show.

It all started with Tumblr. Browsing through my feed or whatever they call it on that, gifs and quotes from Bob’s Burgers kept popping up. I thought they were kind of funny when reading them, even without knowing any of the background. People were commenting about how funny it was and how they relate to it in odd ways.

After a couple of weeks, my neighbor mentioned she watched it and loved it, as well as my cousins, so I checked on Netflix and decided to give it a try. When I watched the first episode, I was taken aback because most of the characters’ voices, men and women, were voiced by men. At this point, I was thinking it was going to be another show that I would roll my eyes at and get annoyed with, thinking it was some anti-feminist attack and all about fart jokes.

I was wrong and I’m so glad I kept watching.

Much of the humor is actually very clever and each character is fleshed out in a brilliant way. I can’t decide which character I like best between Tina, Gene, and Louise because they all have very specific personality traits that are hilarious, ridiculous, and somehow quite endearing. I also adore Linda and Bob and the entire family dynamic because to its core, the show features a very close, sweet family relationship who mock each other, get annoyed by one another, but always stick together and support one another.

There is something very relatable about the characters, which I think I’ve discussed on here before about that’s how any media draws me in. I don’t care about the storyline, or rather, in some sense I’m more lenient about what is happening to characters if I like the characters. In any medium, book, movie, TV show, musical, or play, there is going to be a premise that is not quite regular and borders on the fantastical, or is completely fantasy. It has to be interesting to draw in an audience.

Within the show there is a realness to how quirky people in real life are, whether they don’t quite fit in with other people’s realm of normativity, whether because they are a little nerdy, can’t read social cues properly, somewhat introverted, or are just so eager and excitable that it can be overwhelming for other people. Bob’s Burgers even shows the struggle of a person, and the family they have to drag along with them, when they own a family business.

Yes, the show is built on hijinks, makes the occasional fart joke, and sometimes goes for the obvious joke, but that’s all part of its charm. I think sometimes that some other shows similar to this have the objective to offend, however they can, however badly they can make it, which causes them to lose form. The shock factor works best when it’s used sparingly because you don’t expect it, but it also doesn’t take away from the show you’ve created.

However, what do I really know, because I don’t have a multi-million dollar TV show or movies coming out. Yet…

I will watch or read anything if it adds a touch of cleverness and beauty to it. Perhaps I am analyzing the show way too much outside of the scope of what the creators want, but I think that what they have created is a quality, fun show that takes a somewhat simple premise and makes it outstanding. The writing and dialogue is smart, but not overwhelming or trying to be too far above what this genre entails. It kind of reminds me of 30 Rock in that smart, but ridiculous form that takes nothing to be serious, but also has heart and truth.

Actually, I would say it has the cleverness of 30 Rock and the endearing factor of Parks and Rec…

I watched the three seasons featured on Netflix faster than I should have, but they were only twenty minutes per episode, so I flew through them. I was sad knowing I had to wait until fall to see new episodes until someone told me that the fourth season had already aired and would probably be on On Demand. It was the gift that kept on giving.

I realize that I’m sort of jumping on the bandwagon that has been plugging on for awhile now, but Bob’s Burgers will definitely be something that I’ll continue watching when the new season hits. I might even watch it when it actually airs, which means it’s special if I’m going to deal with commercials.

I mean, if I didn’t convince you with this edition of Rave Review Tuesday to check it out, because if nothing else, it’s just fun, then maybe the fact that it just won a Creative Arts Emmy might sway you.

Books That Hurt Your Brain (In a Good Way)

I know what you’re thinking, finally a review on Rave Review Tuesday. I finished my annual reread of Harry Potter, which means I’ll have some more time freed up to read/watch and review new material. I already have another idea lined up for next week’s post!

Though I’ve had a Nook for a couple of years now, I haven’t taken advantage of the perks until now. I finally cleared my library debt-side note- WHY is it so hard for me to return books on time? I worked at a library for four years!

Regardless, I am a free woman and was able connect the Nook to the e-resources. There was a plethora of options, which was frustrating in the beginning because every one of my choices were already taken out. Once I figured out the filter button, I saw Mitch Albom’s new book The First Phone Call From Heaven on the first page and was excited.

Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven is one of my favorite books. His writing style and premises are intriguing because they center on the spiritual without being preachy. In his books, he features complicated characters and mixed emotions that are very real.

Before even reading the book, I wondered how I might react receiving a phone call from Heaven and the answer is more complicated than I would initially think. While ultimately I think I would be overjoyed, my feelings would also range from terrified to skeptical. When a loved one dies, there is the anxious beating in your heart that yearns for just one more conversation, one last hug, to even see them one last time. He correlates these desires with the idea of Heaven and the comfort it offers, or quite the opposite for others.

At the finish, I can’t say I have a definitive answer for how I would react, but I don’t think that was the idea of it. The premise is to make you think while reading and after you’ve finished, and I would say that Albom accomplished this feat.

The book itself is not complicated, but an easy, quick read that was enjoyable. There were many characters who were the focus and it kept going back and forth to show each perspective, but I didn’t find it difficult to remember them. My investment in the story might have been emphasized in the actual storyline, but I did care about the characters, their feelings, and how the phone calls affected them.

While reading, observing how the characters’ react to the news that a small town in the mid-west was receiving phone calls from deceased loved ones, I found my own opinions floating between them. Each character, whether central or in the background, had a very strong reaction to the phone calls and it was easy to understand why and how they would feel this way.

I like reading stories that make me question my own vantage point and help me to understand others. People and their motives are not easily understood in real life, which makes literary- or fictional in general- characters that much more compelling. When reading, watching, or observing, I want to care about the characters, but I also don’t want them to be perfect. I want to see them going through simple daily tribulations, as well as mysterious events that wouldn’t necessarily happen in real life. Throughout, I want to be surprised and disappointed in them. And I want the story to drive them to places where I *probably* will never be, but they help me wander down that road in my imagination.

I won’t spoil the story in any way, but I will say that I was satisfied by the ending. This has proved difficult lately whether in books or movies. I often find endings to be too cheesy or dissatisfying. Sometimes I’ll feel cheated or rushed, or maybe I’m just sad the story is over. I blame the writer in me for this as lately I find myself rolling my eyes or tossing the book aside unceremoniously. In this case, however, I was very pleased, despite being worried about the ending throughout.

Once, I chose to read a book from the back cover that summarized the story. The mystery was exposed right there and left me so curious that I just kept flipping through the pages, waiting so anxious to see how it would end. I had to prevent myself from screwing it all and going right to the back to find what happened. The mystery was so interesting that I was worried the entire time that whatever the answer would be, it could never be enough for the curiosity it piqued in me. In the end, I think the author took the same route of thinking because it was never concluded. There wasn’t even a hint of implication. It was just, “Oh, it was never solved.” To this day, I can’t decide if that was a stroke of genius or a cop-out because she couldn’t come up with anything good enough. I was so angry I threw the book across the room and made my mother read it too so I had someone in which to sympathize.

Connecting that rant to the topic, I didn’t throw Albom’s book across the room. And that’s all I’ll say about that.

If you are interested in reading about the spiritual in a manner that offers you context and a thinking point, but also lets you think and establish a perspective of your own, then I suggest reading Albom’s books. In the Five People You Meet in Heaven, I connected with the main characters more and cared more about where and how they ended up then the actual plot, but in The First Phone Call From Heaven, it was the opposite.

Regardless of what is what, I think it’s a mark of a good author when the reader is so captivated they don’t even allow the sounds of construction crunching down around them. I would even state on record that Albom is one of my favorite authors, though we know, without a doubt, who holds the title of absolute favorite. And if you can’t determine that without me telling you, then you have a quite a bit of reading to do going back in my blog!

Let me end by posing a question (which could have embarrassing results if no one responds). How would you react to a phone call from Heaven?

I Don’t Normally Do Orange, But….

I realize that it’s Rave Review Tuesday, but I find myself in quite a predicament because I haven’t exactly read anything new this week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been reading quite a bit, but as I am in the thick of my annual re-read of Harry Potter, I don’t have any new information in which to report.

And I know you will all groan and roll your eyes if I repeatedly talk about my love for Harry Potter. In fact, I am going to an all Potterverse trivia game on Saturday and I plan to dominate. I almost feel bad for the competition…

Knowing this, I tried to think back on any films I have seen recently, but the truth is I haven’t seen a movie in awhile. The horror! I know, but since it’s summer, I try to spend as much time possible outside. I’ve also been traveling a bit and haven’t had time.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of the one thing I was obsessively watching for two weeks and can’t believe I forgot! Orange is the New Black. Which by the way deserves all of the Emmy nominations they received.

To be honest, I sometimes prefer television over film because it gives off a more relaxing vibe when watching. There isn’t as much time you have to dedicate to viewing it, even though somehow, miraculously, you end up watching an entire season in two days and didn’t even realize. Happens way too often. I still love movies, especially going to the theater, but there’s something that has always driven me to TV.

It’s strange because over the past year, I haven’t had as much time to watch TV, and therefore haven’t gotten into Breaking Bad or House of Cards even though everyone keeps telling me I have to. Eventually, I think I will watch those shows, but Orange is the New Black was most recommended, so I chose wisely.

The biggest observation about OITNB for me was that the writing on the show is phenomenal. I’m always intrigued by dialogue because it really is the largest factor that drives the show. Obviously the acting is phenomenal and will make or break a show, but as a writer, I am more apt to analyze how the show is written.

I can tell you one thing about that show, I would never survive in prison.

Not knowing much about actual prison, I couldn’t tell you how much of it is accurate, but it certainly is like its own little world and I have enjoyed getting to know the characters. In any media forum, I always love how writers and actors can transform the characters, all of the good and bad about them, and make you care. This show is a prime example of that because from a general standpoint, all of these women are criminals, having done something to some degree that was corrupt, and yet, they are human, sometimes frustrating, sometimes loveable. Just like all of us.

Without giving too much, okay anything, away I will say I enjoy the setup of having recurring characters pop up throughout the hour, while focusing on a new individual each episode, learning their background. You start to realize the factors that led to them ending up where they are and there is something so fascinating about it. You think you have a general idea of how they function, but then the backstory throws you a curveball and you end up screaming at the screen. Especially- okay I won’t say it- but OH MY GOD.

Ack. I have to control myself as I do not have a reputation for remaining inconspicuous when it comes to spoilers.

I know that the person the show is based on wrote a book and eventually I do want to read it because it would be interesting to know how much of this is real.

Being on Netflix, I think it allows a lot more freedom to depict the messiness of life, including cursing and sex. There have been a few instances where my brother is watching a show on network TV and the characters are enraged and all they can yell is “What the hell!?” I’m sorry, but that is not the grittiest statement you can scream when you are so frustrated. It’s not realistic.

Regardless of the realism of the scenarios, I think what gets me most about OITNB and the characters are that they just seem real. I’ve mentioned before how I gravitate to more character-driven media. Maybe it’s because I feel as though I can relate to them. Maybe it’s the writer in me wondering how to create those people while relying mainly on dialogue. Or maybe I should have been a psychologist.

No matter what circumstances you throw them in, no matter what ridiculous, otherworldly, mystical things that surround them, if you have a strong core of characters who live, breathe, and bleed as quintessential humans, I will follow along with the story with bated breath.

Orange is the New Black is an absolute must-see. It’s sometimes silly and sometimes anxiety-ridden. I’ve laughed, cried, and wanted to throw the screen across the room while screaming and covering my eyes. That is the mark of quality television.

And it has a killer theme song that, albeit, runs a little too long.

When is season 3?!