Subjectivity and the male gaze: in defense of that controversial scene in 13 Reasons Why

SPOILERS FOR 13 REASONS WHY ABOUND!

The controversies surrounding 13 Reasons Why have been numerous and well-enumerated; critics claim that the show glorifies teen suicide by presenting it as a suitable revenge for bullying, that portraying teen suicide at all (especially using attractive young actors) is irresponsible, and that Hannah’s rape scene is triggering for victims. But arguably the biggest point of contention is Hannah’s suicide scene, which is incredibly disturbing. It’s one thing to hear about a child slitting their wrists, it’s another thing altogether to see it happen in graphic detail.

But does the graphic nature of the scene automatically make it irresponsible? I’m not a mental health professional, so I can’t comment about whether the show is responsible about suicide on the whole. But in regards to this particular scene, I tend to agree with 13 Reasons Why writer (and suicide attempt survivor) Nic Sheff, who wrote in Vanity Fair that they included as much detail about the act of suicide as possible in order to shatter the “myth and mystique” surrounding suicide, and especially to “dispel the myth of the quiet drifting off.” For those who are worried that the show “glamorizes” suicide, if nothing else, that scene definitely showed viewers that there is nothing glamorous–or peaceful–about the act itself. Continue reading →

Links We Loved This Week — 7/7/17

The New Yorker released the first English translation of Italo Calvino’s short story, “Adventure of a Skier.” We loved it, and wished that more New Yorker stories were as weighty yet enjoyable as this one.

The Onion‘s Spider-Man review (via Indiewire) hilariously objectified Tom Holland the way movie critic David Edelstein slobbered over Gal Godot. “Superbabe in the woods” will never be a thing.

Why is Jane Austen so popular? Big Data can give us the answer by analyzing her word choices. (via NYTimes)

Stephen Greenblatt wrote a powerful article for The New Yorker about how Shylock can teach tolerance even while exemplifying anti-Semitism.

Have you read Roxane Gay’s book Hunger yet? If you weren’t already planning on reading it, we dare you to read this adapted excerpt in The Guardian and not put it on your Amazon wish list.

Rayna looks freaked out while an angry man behind her holds onto her and a gun points towards them both.

Taking The Leap: Our All-Time Top (or Bottom) Jumping-the-Shark Moments

You may or may not have noticed that we have stopped recapping Nashville, and it’s not because we’re lazy and/or behind (although that’s often the case). It’s because–and we’re sad to say this–Nashville has jumped the shark, an especially impressive feat for a show that was already about feuding country singers. So instead of recapping a show that has become too ridiculous even for our teen-soap-loving sensibilities, we’re going down the list of the best (or, more accurately, worst) jumping-the-shark moments that we’ve seen on television.

There are only three (loose) rules for something to qualify as jumping-the-shark: 1) It has to be f*cking ridiculous, in direct proportion to how ridiculous the show was to begin with; 2) it should preferably be a ratings ploy; and 3) it has to mark the point-of-no-return that begins a downward spiral, an evolution into a significantly stupider and/or offensive show that we never would have watched if we weren’t already attached to the characters. Enjoy.

SPOILERS ABOUND! Continue reading →

Ranking the All-Time Personal Growth of the ‘Girls’

After six seasons of controversies, hot takes, empowering female nudity, depressing racial politics, and a few near-perfect bottle episodesGirls has finally taken its final bow. Girls grew immensely over the years, transforming from a tragically self-conscious drama about privileged brats into a slightly more self-aware and compassionate story about (still privileged) young women adulting for the first time. But while the show itself became vastly more mature, the same cannot be said for all of its protagonists. Here are our final personal growth rankings for all of the Girls characters, based on their respective farewells in the last three episodes. Continue reading →

Personal Growth Rankings: Girls 6×05 “Gummies”

I have to say, I was definitely a naysayer about Adam and Jessa’s movie, but now I’m a believer. Not in the sense that I think the movie itself will be good; it still looks like a corny and even more twee version of 500 Days of Summer. It checks all the boxes of the worst kinds of indie movies: a manic pixie dream girl (because OF COURSE that’s how Hannah looks from Adam’s perspective), stereotypes about mental illness (“My head feels so noisy, I just want it to stop!!”), a dysfunctional relationship, and a cute yellow sundress.

But I’m on board with the movie as a plot device, if only because it gives us a hilariously meta spoof of Girls‘ early seasons. Hannah clumsily dancing half-naked to an ironically cheerful song, Hannah and Adam being ridiculously melodramatic about their relationship (“I don’t care if you ruin my life, at least you’ll have been in my life”), and Hannah wanting to be treated like shit by a guy, because that’s just so painfully edgy.

But anyway, let’s get to the personal growth rankings: Continue reading →

Personal Growth Rankings: Girls 6×04 “Painful Evacuation”

Well, that was unexpected. Girls‘ final season just took a completely different direction in its fourth episode, courtesy of a huge reveal that was surprising by virtue of being entirely too conventional. All we need now is a wedding, a funeral, and a tearful going away party, and we’ll have the perfect ending to a very un-Girls-like 90s sitcom.

All right, let’s get to the personal growth rankings: Continue reading →

11 Unpopular Opinions About Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Today is the twentieth anniversary of one of the shows that changed my life (or, since I started watching when I was nine, determined it): Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In so many ways, Buffy is the quintessential 90s show (mostly because of the so-bad-they’re-good outfit choices), but two decades later, it still stands up as a feminist, literary work of art, one that spawned an entire academic field, not to mention an impassioned, opinionated fandom.

There are a few things almost all Buffy fans can agree on: seasons 2, 3, and 5 were the best, Dawn was the fucking worst, and no one cares about Riley. But there are at least a few aspects of Buffyhead dogma that I can’t get behind. Here are my eleven most unpopular opinions about Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Continue reading →