Uncategorized

You Should Watch Arcane if You Don’t Already

A spoiler-free review  I have watched quite a few good shows in the past year, but Arcane is by far the show I’ve watched all year. If you haven’t heard

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Uncategorized

You Should Watch Arcane if You Don’t Already

You Should Watch Arcane if You Don’t Already

A spoiler-free review 

I have watched quite a few good shows in the past year, but Arcane is by far the show I’ve watched all year.

If you haven’t heard of this one, Arcane is a show based on the video game League of Legends. Now, I don’t normally play mobile video games nor pay much attention to what happens to them, but two of my friends recommended it. It is well written and an amazing show, they said. You will like it, they said. I gave it a shot. Wow, They were right.

The story takes place in the fictional rivaling cities of Piltover, the city of progress, and Zuan, the city of iron and glass or the under city. The show mainly follows the story of two sisters, Vi and Jinx, who live in Zuan, but it also features characters like Mel, Jace, Caitlyn, and Viktor who hold power in Piltover.

The premise immediately drew me in. Perhaps it is my Grove City College education setting in but I’m skeptical of a city of progress. There is no way it can be that perfect–nothing is in this world is–especially in this show based on a war game. But the people in Zuan aren’t automatically good either.

The character development makes it hard to dislike or write any characters off as purely bad. Everyone has deep-rooted flaws and backstories that explain why they act the way they do. The writers understand so well how humans think and how they react to trauma. I understood why Jace behaved as he did and why Jinx became who she became. I liked all the characters, because I felt like I understood all of them.

They also show an older authority figure with Heimerdinger, he’s not completely good nor is he completely bad. I’ve read that the show is politically neutral, and somehow it works. Perhaps because the characters and relationships feel so realistic and tied to a real world full of flawed people and systems that can’t easily be fixed.

The way the characters relate to each other feels natural. All of the relationships were well written whether they were friends, siblings, mentor-and-mentee (whether official or unofficial; Vander and Vi, Jinx and Silco), or romances (Mel and Jace, Vi and Caitlyn).

The dialogue is amazing. It is serious, funny, and charming.

But I can’t talk about this show without talking about the animation. The art style bewitched me, body and soul. It drew me in completely like I’ve been thrown into a fantastic virtual reality world. The animation takes over my thoughts, and I can’t think of anything else.

Everything they animate is amazing. The animators put effort into accurately portraying people’s facial expressions and reactions. The animation really makes the show what it is. The writers and animators understand human psychology well and you can tell when you look at their anger, sadness, or excitement. I’d go on to say I prefer it over a lot of live-action shows because it feels very real and vulnerable. The art style is just beautiful overall. I love Jinx’s blue hair and Vi’s pink hair, and Mel’s and Viktor’s styles. I adore all the details of Piltover and Zuan.

The battle scenes are super cool to watch. The characters actually look like they’ve been injured and they don’t always need to look good or beautiful. They look human. I appreciated how none of the characters were sexualized, especially since the main characters are women. The animation style and the outfits are so so cool. 

The soundtrack is also fantastic. The song “Enemy” by Imagine Dragons sets the tone for each episode.

The writers also wrote women really well, so well. I liked the men as well. Honestly, I love them all so much. I want to protect every one of them from harm forever.

Overall, it’s a great show. Can you tell that I watched the first season of Arcane over a single weekend? I watched a few months ago. The next season was supposed to come out this September, but it seems we’ll have to wait. But whenever it comes out, I’m super excited for Season 2. I’m curious about where the conversation will go next and what will happen with all these characters. Will it be as good as Season 1?

Have you seen Arcane? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Books, Uncategorized

Why You Should Read I’m Glad My Mom Died

Trigger Warning: mentions of eating disorders and child abuse

I don’t rate memoirs. I have seen several people write this in their Goodreads reviews of this and similar memoirs. I have to agree. The point of these stories is to share one’s personal life experience with the world. This book is a heavy one, so I’m going to mention that first. I have no idea how to review this exactly, or whether or not I’m spoiling everything. But most of what I mention

Jeanette McCurdy talks about her abusive mother, her experiences as a child actor, anorexia and bulimia, and her life. Jeanette’s mother Debra was emotionally, physically, and mentally abusive to Jeanette for her entire life. It is a hard book to read, but it is worth it.


I listened to the audiobook that Jeanette reads out loud, and I am glad that I went with that route. Hearing her talk about her past experiences and traumas is sadder to read, but it feels more impactful. I saw a few reviews that said Jeanette’s book was funny. Which might surprise some people since it deals with such sensitive subjects, but it works.


The language is witty and straightforward. Phrases pack a punch and sometimes stab you in the gut. Seriously, it hurts. I enjoyed the little details she includes in her memories. You feel like you are there with her as she dives into how her childhood and young adult self felt in those moments. You get to both adult’s introspection and a child’s experiences.

Jeanette talks about her experiences with abuse and with bulimia. I read reviews that she’s pretty relatable to anyone who has struggled with either.


Jeanette never wanted to be an actress. Her mother drug her to an audition when she was young because she dreamed of being an actress herself, but her mom (Jeanette’s grandmother) wouldn’t let Debra act. She was shy, but her mom told the directors that she would get over it. Jeanette hated acting, but she had to pretend to like it to keep her mother from bursting into tears and anger.

Jeanette once told her mother that she wanted to be a writer and her mother shut that idea down. Debra also told her daughter that they would start calorie restriction together as a bonding activity when Jeanette was eleven. She was also physically abusive–she didn’t let Jeanette shower alone and regularly performed breast and vaginal exams on her to check for cancer. She was highly manipulative and emotionally abusive. Jeanette goes into detail about how she learned to memorize her mother’s every mood so that she wouldn’t upset her. Debra’s husband was also completely emotionally absent from Jeanette’s life.


Most of her time was spent acting or on set. Acting was terrible for Jeanette. She hated it ever since she was a child, and the roles she played didn’t help. Her character in iCarly was obsessed with food while Jeanette struggled with anorexia. She felt embarrassed of a character she was forced to play. She also talks about The Creator of the show and how he was abusive on set. The Creator offered Jeanette $300,000 to not say anything about what happened on set, and she refused.


She said that her friendship with Miranda Cosgrove was the one good thing that came out of Nickelodeon.


“With Miranda, it’s always been so easy. Our friendship is pure.”


I enjoyed reading those sections, because there haven’t been many happy memories up until this point. She admires Miranda for her independence and self confidence. Their friendship outlasts the show and Jeanette says that Miranda was there for her when her mom passed. When Jeanette said she wouldn’t do the iCarly reboot, she said:


“There are things more important than money. And my mental health and happiness fall under that category.”


The Creator treated all of the actors on his shows horribly both on and off set. We learn that he gave alcohol to underage actors, and when Jeanette didn’t want to drink, he said that the Victorious actors would do it. He also was responsible for a bikini photo shoot when she was 14. He also gives Jeanette an unsolicited back rub at some point. He’s beyond creepy to say in the least.


Jeanette frequently mentions how her childhood and young adult years were stolen from her. No one asks if she wants her first kiss to be on camera or if she’s okay with doing more takes until the Creator is happy. These moments that should be romantic and private are manufactured and put out for the world’s judgment. It is deeply uncomfortable to read, as are many scenes in this book. This story made me think more about the entertainment industry and how horribly it can treat the people inside of it. They really screw her over in the end.

Jeanette also talks about her relationships with men and dating. Her mother wouldn’t let her date because she wanted her to focus on her career (and she wanted to control her), but she starts dating once she gets a bit of independence from her mother and it doesn’t go well for their mother-daughter relationship to say in the least.


A large section of the book also shows us what happens after Jeanette’s mom dies. Jeanette falls apart again. Her eating disorder develops into bulimia, and she doesn’t know what to do with herself because her purpose in life up until that point had been to act and make her mother happy.

She talks about how her mother’s abuse affected her for years, and it still does. But she’s working on healing and making the life she wants for herself. She got help for bulimia and is in therapy. I’m glad that she’s listed as a writer now on the internet.


I would highly recommend reading this book. My description in no way does it justice or explains what Jeanette went through and how she began to heal. I hope that Jeanette finds peace and healing, and I’m glad her mom is no longer with us.

Shows

Tuca and Bertie Season 3: Episode 8 Review: “Fledgling Day”

I’m jumping ahead a bit in terms of episode reviews, but I recently saw this new episode, and it may be one of my favorites this season.

“Fledgling Day” is another version of Mother’s Day and like most holidays, it takes over in this episode. Parent birds celebrate by spitting into their children’s mouths, just like real birds. Bertie is spending the day with her mom, which makes her nervous. She and her mom aren’t super close, so Bertie plans it all out. They’re going for dinner and getting their nails done. Bertie is anxious about what they’ll talk about and if they’ll have enough to say.

She decides that they’ll bond over a weird neighbor that Bertie’s mom, Anna, can’t stand.

Because this is television, and perhaps because art imitates life, all of Bertie’s plans and conversation topics fall flat. Dinner is awkward as they watch a close mother and daughter act cutesy together. The mother and daughter are ducks, of course. It turns out that the annoying neighbor and her mom are friends now. All attempts at conversation turn into a puddle of awkward. Bertie’s mom thinks that Bertie should have her own bakery by now and not work under someone. Any attempt Bertie makes to show her mom Winter’s pastries in the shop that Bertie came up with the ideas for fails. it doesn’t help that Bertie considers Winter a mother figure. Anna keeps making passive aggressive remarks about how Bertie could do better. Top it off, the nail place is actually a spa.

Luckily, Bertie and her mom start to bond at the spa. This sort of reminds me of the Gilmore Girls episode where Lorelai and her mother, Emily, go to the spa and bond reluctantly.

I like how in this case, they bond after they stop trying to make conversation. It feels like that’s how it always happens in real life too. They let their guards down as they chill in the spa and enjoy the a relaxing experience together. Then, when one of the women asks if Bertie is having kids, Bertie tells her mom that she doesn’t want kids. Bertie’s mom, Anna, bursts into tears, but not for the reason you expect.

Anna cries because she’s happy that her daughter knows what she wants in life. She confides that her ex invited her for dinner and that she isn’t happy with Bertie’s dad or the life she’s in now. It was nice that Anna was chill with Bertie not wanting kids. I wonder if Anna saw her daughter sand saw her own potential and puts some of her hopes for herself onto Bertie. She wants Bertie to do her best and doesn’t want Bertie to feel like she’s living under someone else’s shadow because she feels stuck herself. She also feels like her husband doesn’t make her feel special and their married life is kind of dull, at least lately.

Maybe that’s why she was so hard on Bertie earlier, she wanted her daughter to succeed. I don’t think it was right for her to be so harsh on Bertie, but I’m glad she seemed to come to realize she needed to love her daughter where she is now. In this case, Anna’s former flame is a bit, over the top, and Bertie spits into her mom’s mouth. So, they do the fledgling day tradition, but this time, a daughter cares for her mother. I don’t know if Anna’s marriage is going to improve or not, they kind of kept that vague, but she did go back to Bertie’s dad in the end. I hope they are able to work it out. I wouldn’t mind seeing Anna more. She was hurt earlier when Bertie said her mentor Winter was a mother-figure, but I feel like she needed to hear that so that she could realize her daughter needs her.

Berties mom tried their best, but doesn’t always understand her and why she acts as how she does. Bertie’s mom wasn’t there for her when she was younger, but it seems like maybe she could get better. It seems like they are starting to understand each other more.

The episode was also pretty cool about nudity. The birds at the nude spa are blurred out (probably because of regulations on Adult Swim’s end), and the space scene definitely includes nude characters. I like how the show is pretty body positive. Body image isn’t a storyline and no one makes comments on each other’s bodies. People exist as they are in different body types. It is nice to see, and watch women encouraging each other, like when Bertie encouraged her mom to be comfortable in her skin at the spa.

I also liked how Anna supported Bertie when Bertie said that she didn’t want kids. I’m not sure I want kids myself, and I appreciate that Tuca and Bertie shows a couple (Bertie and Speckle) who are happy without kids.

For our B plot, we learned in the last episode Speckle was laid off from his job as architect (after he made a big scene at work), and now he has no clue what to do with his life. Speckle also doesn’t really know who he is outside of architecture, so he is having a crisis. The show is pretty over the top over Speckle getting fired/quitting the job, and I was honestly surprised when it happened. Now he has to rebuild and start over.

Speckle definitely overreacted or at least reacted poorly (although the people that he worked with were terrible, greedy people). If it wasn’t a comedy, I’m not sure how we’d feel about this scene, but I can relate to having to start over and figure out what the next step in your life is. I wish we’d gotten some self-reflection on his end, but hopefully we will get that later. I really hope we get more Speckle screen time, because his character is obviously going through a lot. He needs time to learn that he doesn’t need to always be the perfect/good guy, and he also needs to get out of denial and confide in Bertie about how he’s feeling.

Speckle has been having a crisis throughout the entire season, but I’m not sure Tuca is the best one to help him. In this episode, Tuca decides to teach him how to be lazy. She tell him to wear messy clothes, lay around and eat chips, and pressures him to spend money on a bunch of hobbies. At first, this sounds pretty harmless. Speckle buys a skateboard, a book to learn Spanish, a guitar, and a skateboard. All of this sounds like fun. Maybe he can enjoy a new hobby so that he doesn’t define himself on his job alone. And maybe he can find a new job or a way of approaching work that excites him.

I wouldn’t mind trying a new hobby myself, so I’m excited for Speckle, but then Tuca tells him that he should never try any of the hobbies he buys! According to Tuca, this is part of the process, spending a ton of money on hobbies you never try. Speckle is sad that Tuca won’t even let him play guitar. I’m getting disappointed with how Tuca keeps dunking on Speckle. Let the man enjoy his guitar. In the end, he goes to play guitar in town and sings Spanish on a skateboard. It was pretty funny to watch, and Speckle is pretty talented even if the people around him disagree. Tuca seems happy for him in the end though. I feel like Speckle and Tuca are friends that sort of mess with each other. Speckle is definitely going through a hard time. Tuca doesn’t really get how to support him, but she is trying.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode. I might review some older episodes, but I’m not sure if I will or not yet. I’ll definitely look at the season 3 finale that premiered. Tuca and Bertie is definitely an unusual show. It has absurd humor and the characters are totally over the top, but underneath all of that, and perhaps within the chaos, there is a heart. I love watching these characters and their relationships, and I’m excited to see what happens next.

Have you seen this episode of Tuca and Bertie? What do you think of this season so far? Let me know down in the comments below!

Shows

Helluva Boss Season 2 Episode 1 Reaction

The one where Stolas goes from a lonely child to a lonely adult

Helluva Boss is back and I have some opinions. In this episode, we see Stolas as a kid on his birthday. I’m glad we get to see him happy, even when he doesn’t have a reason to be. His father barely acknowledges or explains the gift he receives, and he doesn’t remember Stolas’s name.

Stolas doesn’t seem to notice though. He’s just happy it is his birthday and that his father acknowledges him a bit. He doesn’t know what the gift is exactly, but it makes him feel important.

He takes Stolas to the circus, and he sees Blitz for the first time and falls in love instantly.

Meanwhile, Blitz is hired by Stolas’s dad (who also voiced Blitz’s dad) to spend a day with Stolas. Blitz’s dad then instructs Blitz to steal from Stolas’s family while he’s there.

I like how we see Stolas as a kid. He’s cute. I enjoyed the moments between the two of them in this episode. Stolas is so excited that Blitz is spending time with him, he doesn’t even care if their “game” involves throwing his family’s possessions out the window.

Blitz and Stolas are at that age where the future sounds far away and all their dreams can come true. Blitz wants to run his own circus with an office and Stolas dreams of using his dad’s powers. I’m not sure their dreams are too far off, Blitz runs his own business, IMP, and has an office.

He seems put together on the outside, but his insecurities have come back to haunt him. Stolas has his powers, but they don’t provide him with any joy. He was forced to marry Stella, who treats him horribly and hits him, and his only happiness is watching his daughter have a somewhat normal life.

The writers were going for a contrast between childhood innocence and the brutalities of adulthood and it hit. But if we look back, we’ll see that both of their fathers were bad parents who will continue to let their children down.

There has also been some discourse online about Stella’s character. Some fans wish that her character had more nuance and that that her marriage with Stolas wasn’t all about her being the abusive one. In many unhealthy marriages, both parties are at fault and both sides have reasons for why they act so badly toward the other person. I’m conflicted on this. On one hand, sometimes one person in a relationship is a abusive, and they don’t need a backstory as to why. There are cases where men are victims and I feel like it doesn’t hurt when a narrative acknowledges that.

I kind of get that people would want nuance. Stella’s character is less interesting almost if she’s completely bad all the time. And in real life, marriages can be complicated. Maybe Stolas tried to love Stella but he didn’t and maybe Stella felt the same way. Maybe Stella was hurt by Stolas cheating because their family was all she had. In this episode, Stolas is a really sympathetic character and that’s awesome.

But I also think it could have been interesting if he was more morally grey. It is interesting to see characters who have some control over their environment and live with regrets and grow from there. It makes for a more interesting story than one where everyone is stuck in bad circumstances. It would be cool especially since the writers don’t seem to afraid to include morally grey elements to the story. This is Hell, so why not?

And with Blitz’s narrative, it would fit for Stolas to also have hurdles to get over before starting a relationship. After all, Blitz clearly has faults himself that he needs to work on.

Overall, I loved this episode. The animation style was gorgeous and the characters were fun to watch.

What did you think of this episode? Let me know down in the comments below.

Shows

Tuca and Bertie Season 3: Episode 3: The One Where Bertie Gets Eaten by a Snake Review

Tuca and Bertie Season 3: Episode 3: The One Where Bertie Gets Eaten by a Snake Review

In this episode, we pick up where we left off where Tuca and Bertie adjusting to the events of the previous episode. Tuca talks to Bertie about how she and Figgy have made some rules about his drinking. No home-brewing–it is gross apparently. Figgy follows up with one rule of his own–don’t tell him to stop drinking. Tuca is concerned, but she is excited about their next date.

Side note: Tuca and Figgy have this conversation when they went hunting. Bertie is surprised at what they are doing, but hunting seems like a popular activity in this world. In the Tuca and Bertie universe, hunting is essentially paintball game between two teams. No one dies, and all animals are safe. One paintball team just happens to include a deer. This is sounds more fun than actual hunting. Tuca can also climb up Figgy’s branches to get a better shot. I have no idea how the writers come up with these things.

Their date goes surprisingly well. Figgy doesn’t drink all afternoon, despite an offer of free wine, and it isn’t until dinner that he tries a drink that the waiter promotes as intellectual and special. The drink fits Figgy’s aesthetic, and Tuca says he can have a drink this time. She herself could never have just one drink without going overboard, but Figgy does okay. He has several drinks, but he doesn’t lose control or act differently. He and Tuca have fun together for the rest of the date, and she tells Bertie that it went well.

Bertie’s Self Perception and Her Snake

Meanwhile, Bertie is anxious about her new job. I’m still a bit confused about what is going on with Bertie. Did she quit her old job? There was no mention of her quitting before, but I assume she must have quit. There is no way she can hold a day job and go to the bakery during the day. She probably quit her old job offscreen when she decided to start her own bakery.

Bertie’s boss, Winter Garcia, wants her to present an idea to her for a new desert. Bertie spends all night racking her brain for ideas to lofi music, much to Speckle’s concern. We even get a clip of Bertie sitting at her desk by the windows jotting down ideas while lofi music plays. There is a cat at the window. I love the little reference there.

Also, someone needs to make a playlist with Bertie at the window. The writers are begging us to notice the lofi creation opportunity. If no one does, I’m about to seriously consider it. This series is starting to remind me of BoJack Horseman with all the references and gags, and I love it. I also like how this show features fairly relatable characters and talks about normal life stuff. If this show keeps going in this direction, it will be good.

This episode dives deeper into Bertie’s psyche and how her insecurities come to light throughout the day. She is frustrated with how she is viewed by other people. On the bus, people see her as cute and fairly helpless. Strangers see her as a pushover, as a man starts talking to her on the bus when she wants to be left alone and a woman hands her baby to Bertie to watch. Even when the man is clearly annoying her and the baby throws up on Bertie’s work clothes, no one cares.

Instead, these strangers feel entitled to her attention and her help, and neither of them even asked her before barging into her space.

The mom’s excuse is that she feels like she as a mom deserves a break, and she sees Bertie as a temporary caregiver. She thinks that her baby is everyone else’s job to care for as well as hers. Her child is her (and the father/her partner, or anyone who is raising the child with’s responsibility) alone. The man feels like he is interesting enough to deserve a woman’s attention. Bertie tries to defend herself and tell these people to leave her alone, but no one listens.

When she presents a her idea for Bug Bundt cakes, her boss isn’t impressed. The Bug Bunt cakes are super cute–all the bugs have different personalities and color schemes. (I want the recipe now.) But Winter finds them boring.

Why? The only reason I can think of why she’d disapprove is that bugs aren’t necessarily appetizing, but that’s not even valid. Bertie and Winter are both birds–they eat bugs, so the cakes should look delicious. Winter does approve Bertie’s male coworker’s lame idea–triangle shaped cookies.

It hurts when Bertie’s ideas are not chosen and when her boss refuses to take her seriously. Her boss sees her is the same way that the people on the bus see her. Winter looks at Bertie’s appearance, and she doesn’t listen to her ideas. For Bertie’ her self-image and confidence is determined by her physical appearance and how people view her. People see her as cute and timid, and thus, easy to trample all over. And Bertie has to battle people’s perceptions of her before she even begins to speak. Then, once she acts shy and like a people pleaser and confirms their biases, people treat her that way.

Bertie longs for a world where people will respect her and listen to her, and earning that respect isn’t easy.

Of course, this show has to include some wacky shenanigan to address Bertie’s appearance, so Bertie is eaten by a snake. When she is inside the snake, she can go about her day normally, but her appearance is hidden, and she has a little snake sitting at her feet that occasionally demands her attention.

Her doctor tells her that she will have to wait, and in a few days the snake will poop her out.

Bertie is initially terrified about what her boss will think, because apparently being swallowed by a snake is not contagious or harmful to those around you. So, she has to go to work, even if she’s looking a little green.

After, Tuca compliments Bertie and says that she looks great, and Bertie decides to embrace the snake. After all, people will see her differently now. They won’t see the cute, shy bird that they normally see when they look at her. This predicament could be life changing.

Bertie gets on the bus and everyone’s perception of her is altered. The talkative guy on the bus won’t sit anywhere near her, and the woman with a baby stays away. Bertie even stands up for herself and gets the talkative guy to leave another poor, unsuspecting girl on the bus alone.

When she gets to work, she suggests a new idea: desert salads. Her boss loves the salad idea and compliments her. She goes home to Speckle and she feels more confident when they are together. No longer focused on how he perceives her, she can focus on enjoying herself–snake and all.

Meanwhile, Tuca is insistent that she won’t get eaten by a snake during her date. Other people in town are getting eaten by snakes too, after a bunch of baby snakes were released from the bus. Figgy just listens to her and doesn’t comment. But when she is eaten at dinner, she tells Figgy not to say anything about it. Tuca decides to embrace the snake skin as well.

Not everyone will agree with me, but I liked the snake shenanigans, they were quite amusing to watch, and I love learning about all the different ailments in this universe. This world is quite unusual, and the interspecies relationships aren’t exactly clear. I like learning about this world that Hanawalt has created. As long as the shenanigans don’t impede character development, I don’t mind them. In this case, I felt like character development and worldbuilding worked together. I would like to see more of this.

Snake-free Life

When the snake poops Bertie out, the other snakes follow its lead, and Tuca is free as well.

Life returns to normal, as Bertie tries desperately to stay inside the snake before presenting her idea to her boss. The snake refuses to let her stay in the suit, and Bertie is left to resume her presentation in her own skin.

Bertie fails to impress her boss for a second time when she tries to promote her bundt cakes again. Her boss likes the idea of salad deserts. But, don’t salad deserts already exist? And if you replicated a salad exactly, what would you use for lettuce? The salad would likely be very thin. Would you use candy? That sounds kind of gross personally.

Winter says that you could sneak a desert salad to work to give the appearance that you are being healthy to your coworkers. Um, why would anyone do that? I mean, maybe? I feel like people would notice it was a desert, but maybe not. I once tried a desert that strongly resembled grilled cheese, so I guess I get the appeal–kind of. Bertie’s idea is still better, but it doesn’t matter because she works for someone and doesn’t have her own business where she can make the rules.

She goes back to being her normal self, and she learns that her appearance does impact how people view her. After questioning whether or not it was the snake that made people take Bertie so seriously or if Bertie the confidence all along. Tuca says:

“It was the snake.”

Bertie doesn’t find confidence easily, nor do the biases people have of her change. This scene felt realistic, and although Bertie doesn’t get a perfect solution, she does have the support of her boyfriend and friends.

Bertie comes home and complains about her baking troubles to Speckle, and he says that she had a great idea and loves her as she is. Bertie feels better and lets hope her boss starts to listen to her ideas in the future.

Her boyfriend, Speckle is sweet as usual in this episode, but I am a bit worried about him. He mentioned a “predatory loan” at work, but he seems to be putting his own needs aside for Bertie’s. Hopefully, Speckle gets some screen time, and Bertie can be there to support him. Speckle always seems chaotic and silly, but I wonder if he uses this to cover up for anxiety sometimes, either anxiety about work or with just life in general. He definitely has more to him that what meets the eye.

Tuca and Figgy: The Aftermath

Tuca also faces reality when Figgy tells her to leave him alone after their date. He wants some time to himself after their date. Tuca is a bit worried and decides to check up on him, and when she does, she walks into a dark room. The color contrasts with the show’s bright and colored scenery. Dead leaves and bottles are scattered on the floor, and Figgy sits in a chair with his roots in a tub of alcohol.

I didn’t expect the end of this episode to hurt so much. Figgy doesn’t drink like Tuca did, at parties. He was waiting to be alone to drink.

I don’t quite know what will happen to them next. Tuca broke up with him, but I’m not sure if he’s going to remember that she told him. He was pretty out of it at the time. I do know that his storyline can’t end, not yet. Even if he and Tuca are done for good, I am way too invested for the writers to give up on his character now.

I’m also not sure Tuca has entirely processed why her relationship with Kara was so unhealthy either. She might stay in another unhealthy relationship all over again with Figgy. I really hope not. I want her to be happy: either with Figgy, someone new, or single.

Have you seen episode 3 yet? What did you think? Let me know down in the comments below.

Shows

A Defense of Johnathan Byers in Stranger Things Season 4

Note: I will only be talking about his actions in Season 4. I still think it was gross for him to take pictures of Nancy in Season 1, and it is terrible that he never apologized for it. That being said, I think that the writers were terrible to him in Season 4 and I like his character overall.

In Season 4, Jonathan starts smoking weed and hanging out with his friend Argyle. He and Nancy are still together, but they are not visiting each other during Spring Break. I’m not sure if anyone has said this is out of character for Johnathan, but it is a disappointing storyline for many, especially people who like Johnathan and Nancy as a couple. I personally liked them as a couple, but I didn’t mind if they broke up either.

When it comes to fictional relationships, I like to see good writing, chemistry, and compatibility between characters. If characters have all three, sometimes I can enjoy couples who weren’t as good together in past seasons, but have since shown improvement in those areas. Character development can be a huge game-changer.

Jonathan and Nancy have several of these developments, so I liked them in general. Nancy and Steve… I don’t know. I like them both individually, but when they broke up in Season 2, they just weren’t in a good place. Nancy didn’t love him. It made sense. character development was good.

But in Season 3, the writers just made changes without really developing the characters. From then on, the writers of Stranger Things started doing this a lot.

One example would be Hopper and Joyce. In Season 3, I didn’t ship them at all. Hopper often yelled at Joyce, ignored her, and acted spiteful for no reason. His anger toward Mike and El was overblown, and he acted entitled to a date with Joyce. His anger alone was a red flag.

I remember feeling so uncomfortable just watching Hopper in Season 4, but I didn’t exactly have the words to say why. Especially after his final scene with El. He seems so genuine, but (almost) dying doesn’t automatically make you a better person. Nor does writing a heartfelt note (where you don’t actually apologize) redeem you for your wrongs.

I found a YouTube video that talks about this if you’re interested in learning more.

Basically, they were still supposed to be a couple. We were supposed to think they yelled—mostly Hopper yelled at her—because he liked her.

In Season 4, Hopper is a better. He doesn’t get angry or act the way he did in S3. He is much closer to the S2 Hopper that I loved. He and Joyce reunite, and I feel like I want to ship them now. They have chemistry.

Because Hopper changed and became a better person in Russia apparently. That’s good I guess, but the character development was weak.

But Jonathan becomes a joke character in the fourth season. But his relationship with Nancy—and their falling out—at least feels realistic.

It is a bit sad, watching them go in different directions.

I feel like Jonathan is one of those characters who people either like or don’t. He’s not charming and funny like Steve, and he doesn’t have a strong arc. He was never a jerk, and he wasn’t perfect. He had to step in and help his mom after his father left. He always has been there for his family, and the kind of love he has for them is often under appreciated. He does what he’s supposed to do. Jonathan doesn’t expect a thank you.

He doesn’t want to go far away for college because he doesn’t want to leave his mom and brother behind.

His girlfriend is the exact opposite. She loves her parents and she and her mom are sometimes close, but she doesn’t want their life. Nancy wants to be a journalist and to travel; she doesn’t want to let life happen to her. She wants to fall in love and stay in love and she won’t settle like her parents did. She wants to go to her dream school, Berkeley and succeed there.

Jonathan is different. He has a family that needs him—he feels, and he doesn’t have the financial ability to just go to college wherever he wants. He has to think about life differently. Jonathan has other things to consider. He realizes that he has to be practical when it comes to college.

He also doesn’t want to hold Nancy back. He knows she has big dreams and hopes for her future.

Johnathan knows their choices are tearing them apart, but he knows there is little either of them can do about it. He has no idea what the future holds for himself and he can’t imagine life after she heads off to college. He likes photography, but he doesn’t feel like he can pursue it as a career like Nancy can. But it hurts too much to think about, and he doesn’t have many people to talk about it with.

Will is going through his own stuff and so is his mom. He loves his family and he wants to help them and be there for them in any way he can.

And he’s lost, and I can’t blame him. I hope Season 5 remembers this Jonathan, the guy who is trying his best.

Steve used to be the same guy in Season 2. He is lost and confused about his place in the world. He has few friends, and he just lost his girlfriend. But now we know he’s going to be all right. He is happy.

And if Hopper—after all his behavior in Seadon 3— can be be happy with Joyce, why can’t any hero on this show get a happy ending?

What do you think? Do you have any predictions for Season 5. Let me know in the comments below

Shows

‘Tuca and Bertie’ Season 3 Review of “Leveling Up” and “The Pain Garden”

The first two episodes of the new season of Tuca and Bertie premiered on July 10 on Adult Swim and HBO Max, and the first two episodes are better than I could’ve imagined. The show continues to be zany, fun, and profound in each roughly twenty-minute episode.

Season 3 makes a splash with new jobs and romances. The new season is promising and exciting, and it deals with pressing real-world issues. I liked Season 2, but I’m even more excited for what Season 3 has in store. These characters never cease to surprise me, and I am excited for what’s next.

Tuca is the biggest surprise. She starts a job as a tour guide and takes tourists out on giant inflatable ducks and gives them tours and makes everything up as she goes along. Somehow, likely due to her charming personality and ability to come up with ideas on the fly, her boss and customers love her.

She has also moved on from her ex, Kara, and is dating a tree named Figgy. He does bear fruit and Tuca is over the moon for him. I thought BoJack Horseman was strange for introducing animal and human romances, but I’d never thought I’d see a bird and plant. But I like them together–Figgy is a cool dude.

Figgy and Tuca together. They’re quite cute, aren’t they?

These changes are overwhelming at first, and Tuca has an urge to self-sabotage. She has settled into a new routine compared to season 2. She has this long-term job and a boyfriend she really likes, and she’s worried she’ll mess it up.

Tuca and the Epic Self Sabotage

In this episode, there are two different sides of self-sabotage. Tuca, overwhelmed by her boss’s praise and her new relationship, quits her job and heads back to Bertie’s apartment. She proclaims to Bertie that she is self-sabotaging, ignores plans with Figgy, and invites herself to Speckle’s gala. She arrives and starts entertaining gala guests with similar jokes that she makes on her tours. Not the best look. I also noticed that they don’t address her blowing off plans with Figgy in the episode at all. Unless she canceled their plans, but the way the scene looks, it sounds like she didn’t text him.

As to her job, that works out, somehow. Her tour guide is also dramatic and more impulsive than she is, and he doesn’t know what he is doing. She is understandably worried and starts to spiral when he says:

“I staked my whole future on you, Tuca. And if you let me down, I’m ruined.”

“I’m Tuca, I’m distracted because I’m unreliable and no one should trust me.”

Her illustrated doubts bring to mind Diane and BoJack’s anxieties in BoJack Horseman. She imagines Bertie and her boss drowning in the water while she stands on land and refuses to help them. Tuca doesn’t spiral quite to the level that Diane does. She is more extroverted, so rather than stay in her head, she starts to go out and get outside of herself. She doubts herself mostly because of what other people have said about her, the most notable person is her Aunt Tallulah. It will be interesting to see how her doubts affect her in future episodes. She is doing well, but her problems and insecurities are still there. But she does have the opportunity to overcome them or go forward despite of all those doubts.

Tuca finally has a job where people take her seriously, and she is the responsible one for once. The feeling is overwhelming, but it can also be freeing. During tours, she can be herself and build connections with the people around her. Tuca can be responsible but doesn’t have to give up herself to fit a mold about what a responsible adult looks like. She doesn’t have to wear pants.

Tuca wearing pants is not the Tuca that I know and love. “It’s is what the pants represented. It represented that she made me wear pants.”

She is becoming more of herself as she doesn’t have to put on a face or pretend with this job or in her new relationship. But, of course, life isn’t that easy, and the new episode throws Tuca a curveball.

Tuca and “The Pain Garden”

In the next episode, The Pain Garden, Tuca’s storyline shifts when doctors refuse to acknowledge or take her seriously when she comes in experiencing pain. Tuca feels extreme pain every time she gets her period and throws up.

She has felt like this since she was a teenager, but she never got treatment because no one told her getting help was an option. Tuca thought she had to suffer in unexplainable, terrible pain in silence.

When she feels like this, she can’t do anything and feels like she has to hide away for a week because it hurts so badly. When Bertie suggests she see someone, she goes hopefully like one usually does when they visit a medical professional for help.

But, when she gets there, her doctors dismiss her pain and refuse to listen to her when she says her pain doesn’t feel normal. It is more than painful periods; this pain is chronic and debilitating. Her doctors are bees, and they’re completely unhelpful. They have no idea what is wrong with her, but instead of trying to figure it out, they blame her.

Tuca’s Pain Garden, ouch.

They suggest that she should lose ten pounds, or three pounds, or seven pounds or that her pain comes from “anxiety” and they don’t know what they’re doing at all. Tuca goes to different doctors in different specialties because she’s told they will help, but no one will listen. They keep trying to look at one part of Tuca, and they don’t look at the whole picture.

“My body is a galaxy, not just a planet. Is there anyone who can look at my whole being and not just all the parts?”

Tuca (the galaxy animation in this scene is also awesome)

After a day of hearing nothing, Tuca brings them all together and stands up for herself. The bees are lost without their Queen, so Tuca declares herself the Queen Bee. So they listen, and after a whole day of hearing nothing, they run some tests.

This scene is funny, but Tuca’s problem is a real issue that many people face. The problem of doctors not taking people seriously when they are in pain is a big one. Periods, in particular, tend to be dismissed, as extreme pain is seen as “normal” and a part of the cycle. But endometriosis and PCOS are serious medical problems that need proper treatment and care. There is also a history of doctors telling patients that losing weight will solve an unrelated issue and misdiagnosing patients because of their weight.

At the end of the episode, Tuca has been tested and the results are “inconclusive.” She has a conversation with her Aunt Tallulah who admits that she experiences the same levels of pain during her period, but she never got it treated. Viewers suggested that she has endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which both could be the case. For now, Tuca will have to wait. Luckily, she has Bertie and her supportive boyfriend, Figgy, are there to support her.

Speckle, Bertie, and Figgy

Bertie in this episode was waiting in the waiting room and noticed Tuca getting a text from Figgy. Watching her in this episode was a nice respite from Tuca’s pain. She starts answering questions concerning Tuca’s birthday and then falls into a full-on conversation using Tuca’s name. We also see Speckle dressed up as Tuca, which is an image I can’t quite get out of my mind.

Speckle is so oblivious; I don’t know anyone who would dress up as a friend and go to their apartment to pick up a pizza for a friend’s boyfriend and ask no questions. But he obviously would do anything for Bertie, which is valid. Speckle and Bertie clearly adore Figgy.

Figgy says to Speckle in a Tuca disguise:

“I like all of you, every part of you.”

Figgy loves Tuca for who is is and adores all her quirks. He buys her a gift that she’ll like for the heck of it. Figgy is intellectual, serious, and British. I’m not sure what will happen with Figgy. He admits to Tuca that he drinks, a lot. At first, I thought he meant he drinks a lot of water because he is a plant. I really hope that is what he means, but if he does have a problem with alcohol, it could cause problems with his relationship with Tuca, as she is sober. He also likes taking care of people and seems like a sweet plant.

He is a likable character so far, so hopefully, he and Tuca are happy together or he tells an interesting story. I’m hoping for both, and if it doesn’t work out, I wonder if Tuca will meet someone new or stay single for a while. He contrasts with Bertie’s boyfriend, Speckle, who is nerdy and zany. I’d also like to see more of Speckle and his relationship with Bertie as the show goes on.

At the moment, he and Bertie are doing well, and his career as an architect is flourishing. He has plans for affordable housing after a flood and he gets to host his own gala.

Bertie’s Bakery Dreams and Choice Feminism

But Bertie is anxious about her place in life. Her bakery business, SweetBeak, is floundering, and she needs some business, any business. She decides to cater Speckle’s gala the day before and tells him to fire his current caterer. She even hires a wannabe baker, a woman named Tyler, a millennial-stereotype character who requests an extra hour for a lunch break and calls it “self-care.”

Tyler is everything that people criticize about millennials and young people. She doesn’t want to work; she is condescending towards Bertie and manipulates her into hiring her. Bertie cares about mentoring young women, right? She should hire this girl, who is young and making her way in the world.

Tuca and Bertie likes to criticize what you could call choice feminism and ideas about self-care. Choice feminism is essentially the idea that women should have choices to do what they want with their lives and that those choices are justified and right because they made them. If a woman does what she wants in life, that is inherently feminist and good. Self-care is the same way. If you look out for yourself and take care of your needs, that is always a good thing.

But the problem is, people aren’t inherently good, nor are their actions. To Bertie’s assistant, Tyler, “self-care” is looking out for one’s self, regardless of the impact that has on others. Anyone getting her way is “micromanaging” her, she screams to Bertie. To Kara, “self-care” means ending a relationship with Tuca by ghosting her because Kara was “too busy” working on her mental health to consider her relationship with her girlfriend.

Bertie Lets go of the Bakery

When it comes to the assistant, Bertie too easily says yes. She’s a people pleaser, and she is also desperate to get the job done as soon as possible. She does get it done, without the assistant’s help, because she’s a great baker.

Bertie doesn’t give up on anything either. She meets her favorite celebrity chef, Chef Winter Garcia, at the gallery. Bertie wows Winter with her baking knowledge and ideas, and the two get along great. When Winter suggests Bertie to join her bakery as an “idea person.” Bertie is flattered, but she is hesitant. She dreamed of running her own business. Winter knows this and advises her:

“Look, sometimes as you get older, all you can see are the doors closing, but here is an open door. Don’t get hemmed in by the dreams I had in my twenties. That’s the advice I’d give myself at your age. Think on it.”

Bertie closes down her bakery on Yak, a review website, and then slips on a piece of desert and shakes her new boss’s hand. Her boss is friendly, but will Bertie be happy closing that door? I’m a bit doubtful, but we will see as the rest of season 3 comes out. It could turn out that maybe she didn’t need to run her own business to be happy. She and Winter get along well, and working with someone could lessen the workload and stress of owning a business on her own. Episode 3 coming soon, so hopefully we find out what happens.

The animators are also clearly having fun with this. The inflatable ducks crash into the gala and it turns out tha one duck is sick and needed to recover. Tuca’s pain garden looks like real dirt and it serves as a good metaphor. I’m excited to see what they do next with animation, and I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Are you curious to learn more: I included some links to articles about the show here:

How ‘Tuca & Bertie’ Season 3 navigates menstrual health

Tuca and Bertie Speaks Loudly to Millennials

Have you seen the recent episodes of Tuca and Bertie? What did you think? What would you like to see in Tuca and Bertie’s futures?

Let me know down in the comments below!

Books

Under One Roof Book Review is full of Terrible communication, Decent Banter, Awkward Endings, and Bachelor References

Pros

  • Good banter
  • Sweet relationship between Helena
  • Friendship between Mara and her friends was
  • Good concept- EPA environmental scientist and Corporate Oil Lawyer
  • Hooked me in
  • References to The Bachelor

Cons

  • Weird prologue returns to the ending
  • Overly clueless MC
  • Plot by communication issues
  • Seriously…their inability to communicate make me want to jump off into the abyss
  • Confusing Demisexuality representation (although the idea of rep is good)

I absolutely loved The Love Hypothesis, so I was pretty excited to read Ali Hazelwood’s new novella, Under One Roof. The book was only $2.99 on the Kindle store, so I figured why not give it a try while I wait for her next book to come out. It wasn’t a bad choice.

This book was a fun read. The dialogue was entertaining and the idea worked fairly well. I think it would have been better if Hazelwood either turned this into an entire book or if she included Liam’s POV as well. The book all takes place from Mara’s perspective, which is fine, but since this was an enemies-to-lover story, I wanted to know what Liam was thinking about Mara and the house situation. I learned about his character primarily through his facial expressions and his stoic demeanor, which isn’t the best way to understand someone.

I liked his character (maybe because I like law and lawyers and his love of video games), and I liked seeing a more reserved/quiet character in a book, but by the end, I still felt like I didn’t know him that well.

The other relationships were pretty well done. Mara’s friends Sadie and Hannah were sweet, and I liked the scenes of three amazing scientist friends talking about their relationships, work, and life stuff. They like to watch Parks and Rec and make brownies together and…Same Sadie. Same.

I enjoyed Mara’s relationship with Helena and the memories that she shares about Helena’s life. Helena felt like a real person, and I could imagine her bold personality as I read. Even though she was dead, she was much more than a plot point. You can tell Helena was a good mother-figure/mentor to her. It feels heartfelt and not too sappy. I enjoyed reading the letter that Mara wrote to her; it felt funny and real.

Mara’s relationship with her mentor, Helena, and her response to Helena’s death is one of the most interesting parts of the book. Helena was a strong-willed and unpredictable woman, and I kind of aspire to be her someday. She cheats at chess, loves Mara like a daughter, sets up her nephew with her by giving her the house, and hates cheesiness and sentimentality I feel like Helena is dropped once Mara and Liam get together, and it is a damn shame. It would have been interesting exploring their grief. Mara’s letter to Helena was one of my favorite parts of the book. I’m going to share some of my favorite parts.

Mara is someone who doesn’t quite believe in an afterlife, or is at the very least unsure about it. She says:

“Truth be told, I stopped pondering eschatological matters in high school after they got me anxious and made me break out in hives”

I feel that, can’t say I don’t ponder these things, but thinking about life after death is anxiety-inducing. There is unpredictability no matter what you believe. I never got hives, though. She also says:

“You probably just sit on a cloud all day being omniscient. Eating Triscuits. Occasionally playing the harp. You lazy bum.”

I don’t get the pervading myth that people play the harp in heaven all the time. Maybe Hazelwood took this idea from Huckleberry Finn. In the beginning of the book, Huck says that going to heaven sounds boring, because people just go around and play the harp all day. I can’t picture omniscient God would make heaven boring–at least Mara’s version sounds kind of fun. I love a good Triscuit and a lazy day. I’m not sure I’d want to know everything though. That sounds overwhelming.

I liked how Helena’s house is her safe harbor, it is a place where she feels comfortable. We never get the ending to that letter she writes.

Mara’s Relationship with Her Parents

I actually liked Mara’s character development. We learn that her parents were people that didn’t want to be parents. We get little details like that her parents saw her as too energetic, and they enrolled her in sports to keep her busy and out of their hair. This is why her relationship with Helena is so important; she acted as a mentor and cared about Mara like a daughter. Apparently Mara only talks to her parents once or twice a year, and she is the one who calls.

Helena also isn’t as close to her family either. I feel like these scenes could be expanded upon more though. I feel like I liked the idea of Mara’s character development, but it didn’t show up as much as I hoped. We never really learn more about Liam’s relationship with his family either, except that he isn’t too close with them.

Other than that, I do have some complaints. This book felt very fanficy, and while that isn’t entirely a bad thing–it feels like it was thrown together or written chapter-by-chapter. The Prologue and last scene mesh together awkwardly.

He likes you, Mara–why don’t you see this?

It bugged me how Mara is completely clueless and has no idea that Liam could possibly be attracted to her. I think Ali Hazelwood likes writing main characters who are oblivious about matters of human attraction and interaction, because Olive was the same way.

But he obviously likes her! The man looks at her awkwardly and then looks away, looks distant when she says she’s moving out, cuddles with her when she’s cold, and feels left out when she’s with another guy. She assumes that he likes his friend Emma and wants to be with her, even after he plainly tells her that he and Emma are just friends and neither is interested in each other. He thinks she’s brilliant and enjoys spending time with her.

And there is SO MUCH TENSION between them in these scenes. The man is flustered around her ALL THE TIME. She has feelings for him. How could Mara not consider, even for a minute, that Liam might like her too?

I understand a bit though. I can be oblivious about how people feel, especially if they’re quiet like Liam, but if I had a feelings for someone (like Mara did for Liam during at least half of the book), I would overanalyze every single interaction to find out whether or not my affections were returned. Mara never does this, she just assumes. But Mara is convinced that Liam is dating someone else and just wants to be friends with her.

I’d like to see a confident MC for once. Why wouldn’t he like her? Because he has muscles? She is fit too. Because he is annoyed with her? He doesn’t seem too annoyed when they become friends. I feel like she disliked him first. It could be awkward to admit feelings for your roommate, but still. Get it together. But enough complaining about roommate drama for now, lets talk about the height of romantic drama and tension–The Bachelor.

The Bachelor References

Liam and Mara watch The Bachelor, and I am all here for it. I enjoy watching The Bachelor and The Bachleorette sometimes, and I appreciated their comments on the show. Mara even runs a bachelor franchise blog. I approve. We don’t get real references though, because she talks about season 12, which is JoJo’s season, but they talk use another woman’s name. It is a shame; I wanted to know their thoughts on the real bachelorette. Is there a copyright issue? I’d hope not. It was still pretty fun though. I can relate to rooting for the bachelor/ette to end up with a contestant that they don’t end up with. They also could have talked about all those weird challenges that the producers put them up to; that would be great.

I feel like I would read a whole story of these two reacting to a real season of the bachelor, not because their banter regarding the subject was anything amazing, but I feel like it could be a fun story.

The book was marketed as “demi rep”, which basically means that one of the main characters is demisexual. According to Web MD, “Demisexual people only feel sexually attracted to someone when they have an emotional bond with that person.” The definition goes on to say,

“Demisexual people do not feel primary attraction — the attraction you feel to someone when you first meet them. They only feel secondary attraction — the type of attraction that happens after knowing someone for a while.”

I originally thought Mara might be demi, but I wasn’t sure. She has problems with guys and finding someone that she is attracted to, as many of us do demi or not, but her relationship with dating seems a bit different than other people’s.

“But even at their best, all my romantic relationships felt like work in a way Sadie and Hannah and Helena never did. In a way actual work never did. And for what? Sex? Jury’s still out on whether I even care about that.”

It was a bit confusing on that end.

I didn’t like the ending. It seemed like Hazelwood decided to throw all the ending, conversation, and dialogue that needed to be had into the middle of a sex scene. it is also kind of creepy how Liam keeps saying “is this how you wanted it?” to Mara.

Liam basically starts recreating a fantasy that he overhears Mara talking on the phone to her friends about. It is so awkward… The characters barely talk to each other beforehand. There seems to be consent… but is very confusing.

Overall this was a fun novella. I enjoyed reading it for the witty banter alone. If you like Ali Hazelwood’s writing style and humor–and if you are willing to suspend your disbelief–this novella is a solid choice. Just don’t put your expectations too high.

Have you read Under One Roof or The Love Hypothesis? Do you plan to? Let me know down in the comments below 🙂

Shows

This is Us Finale Reaction. Reflections on what if Kevin was Child-free?

THIS IS US — Season: 2 — Pictured: (l-r) Mackenzie Hancsicsak as Kate, Parker Bates as Kevin, Milo Ventimiglia as Jack, Mandy Moore as Rebecca, Lonnie Chavis as Randall — (Photo by: Maarten de Boer/NBC)

The conclusion of This is Us was on this Tuesday. I have been watching this show since the beginning with my mom. When the show first came out, I was sixteen-years-old. Donald Trump had not yet been sworn into presidency and a worldwide pandemic was unthinkable for most of us. Back then, my favorite tv-shows were teen dramas. They were filled soap-opera drama and unexpected twists, but despite all the tragedies the characters went through–from their partner cheating on them to a dog eating their father’s heart before the transplant–they all lived in typical suburban happiness afterwards. People get married, have kids, and live their happily ever after. Friends tried to stay close, but they also had their own lives and families. They were supposedly very happy in the end. I can name a few of these shows easily: Friends, One Tree Hill, How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, and Gossip Girl. I haven’t watched too many shows in my life, but I have noticed they tend to follow a formula.

This is Us is a great show. It is not a perfect show, but it is heartwarming and makes an honest effort at telling the stories of characters with different life experiences and priorities. Of course, it can be overdramatic sometimes. No one really gives speeches like Randall, Jack, Rebecca, Kate, and Kevin do, at least not on a weekly basis. Perhaps this was why I was so surprised why the show ended on such a quiet note.

In the last episode, a scene of the triplets are at Rebecca’s funeral is juxtaposed with a flashback of them and Jack and Rebecca on a day when everyone is at home. Randall had a math competition that day, but he says it is cancelled, so the family all decides to do something fun; The Pearsons mostly spend the day at the house, and nothing extraordinary happens. Each of the kids get upset about something that day, and either Jack or Rebecca comforts them. They watch home videos; Jack teaches Randall and Kevin to shave; and the kids play pin the tail on the donkey. Other than Rebecca’s funeral, this episode feels like a typical filler episode of This is Us.

I loved “The Train”— it had the perfect ending. I didn’t mind this episode, but I feel a bit disappointed with a few parts. My first thought is that the ending felt rushed. I’m still in denial that it is over, and I wish they’d taken more time to show everyone’s future. Even though I have had this show in my life for six years, I selfishly want more. I want to know why Randall wanted to be a senator, or how Kevin and Sophie made their relationship work, or what happened to Kate and Philip.

After all, this series was never about endings; it is about how life keeps going, making bold moves and decisions about where we want to go.

Rebecca told her kids to:

Take the risks. Make the big moves. Even if they’re small moves. Forge ahead with your lives in any and every direction that life moves you. I’m asking you to be fearless.

Rebecca Pearson

This felt a bit unexpected from her; honestly, it gave me whiplash. She loves her kids, and I can imagine that she would want them around as she’s dying. But she does not expect them to “pause” their lives for her. But despite her focus on the future, the final episodes empathize the importance of their family–of the big 3–and those small but amazing moments together. The writers could create a conflict between staying close to your family and following your dreams.

But they refuse to create a dichotomy and make the triplets choose. They make the big moves. Randall moves to Philadelphia and becomes Senator and Kate goes to grad school and runs the music school with Philip. Kevin starts a business, builds the cabin, and marries his childhood sweetheart.

They also spend time together and grow closer. Kevin takes care of Rebecca in the end, and they all help out. When Kate worries that the triples will drift apart after Rebecca’s funeral, her brothers say that they will drift with her.

Disappointing Parts of the Finale

I didn’t mind the episode as a whole, but I do have a few complaints.

1. Tess and Annie are totally ignored

In the first scene of the future, the one when we learn they’re going to see Rebecca, we see Tess and Randall together. Tess became a Social Worker. But does this come up again? No.

Tess is totally sidelined. She is Randall and Beth’s oldest biological daughter and she has been on the show since the beginning. She isn’t like Kevin’s kids. She has a character and backstory. She also came out as gay, and her and Beth’s relationship was complicated. Tess starts dating Alex, who is non-binary, and we don’t learn what happens to them. Tess is barely in the future episodes, and we aren’t told what happens to her. What is she like in the future? Does she move away or stay close to home? No one knows.

We get to know Deja better. We see how she like science and goes on to be a doctor. We see her fall in love with Malik and marry him and have a baby with him.

We don’t know if Tess ends up with anyone or has a partner. In a show that gives so much attention to straight romances, it would have been nice to see her find happiness and maybe have a partner in the end.

We also know nothing about Annie. She was ignored so much during the show. What does she do with her life? The writers give us nothing. For a show so focused on new life and different generations, they could have put a bit more effort into showing what happens to the youngest generation of Pearsons. I mean they showed us adult Tess only to ignore her. Come on!

I didn’t care as much about Kevin’s kids. They seemed like they were in the background. It would probably take more time to introduce them, but I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Kate’s son Jack and his wife and child or her daughter Hailey.

2. The Final Episode Ignored Kevin and sidelined Kate

In the finale episode, we don’t hear much from Kevin. The actor who plays Kevin, Justin Hartley, said he was pretty disappointed:

“So, I go up there — I had no dialogue that day, I was basically an extra.”

He is a big part of the big 3, and his arc was sidelined. I feel like Kevin’s ending in general was rushed. The writers created all this drama about who he would marry. Who is the love of Kevin Pearson’s life? They asked us. Some readers shrugged. Who cares? They said. But I am kind of invested. I’m a sucker for a good love story, and I like to know who ends up with who. The stakes are high. It is unlikely that all fans will satisfied with the ending; but if a couple is written decently well and it improves a character’s distort, fewer people won’t complain.

The writers presented a few choices: Madison, the mother of his twins; Cassidy, a war veteran and close friend; and Sophie, his on-and off again girlfriend since childhood and his ex-wife. Of course, there were other options. He could have ended up with someone he met in the last two seasons, or Sophia Bush, who he had more chemistry with in a single episode than he did with anyone. At least, that is what the internet seems to think. I personally love Sophia Bush (I was a big One Tree Hill stan back in the day), but I can’t picture him with her.

Honestly, Kevin’s love life was one of the least popular aspects of the show. Viewers have complained that the writers spent too much time on his love life.

But I like Kevin, and I feel like he deserves a good love story as much as Kate and Randall. I didn’t notice any strong chemistry between him and any of the cast. His story with Cassidy was one of my favorites. They were both adults who had been through a ton of crap, but together, they were a little less alone. I wouldn’t have minded them getting together, but I don’t mind that they ended up as good friends. There are far too few men and women on television who are good friends.

I liked the idea of him and Madison together. They have kids, and they’re close friends and parents. They could have been cute. But Kevin wasn’t in love with Madison. He loved her as a friend, for sure, but not romantically. I didn’t love her and Elijah, but she was happy with him.

So, that leaves Sophie. I’ll be the first to say that I don’t love childhood friends to lovers stories. I enjoy them when they’re done well. Not everyone ends up with their childhood sweetheart, especially after you cheat on them and then they marry someone else. I’m not sure what I would do in Sophie’s situation. I like them together. They have chemistry. Sophie is the one who laughs at Kevin’s jokes and he never seemed to fully get over her. My main complaint is that their reunion was underdeveloped.

This is Us creates so many great love stories, and Kevin always dreamed about a love story like his parents. I wish they’d taken a season or two to develop their relationship instead of playing will-they-won’t-they for so long.

Final Thoughts

The other couples were pretty good. I wish Miguel got more screen time. His episode was rushed, but I enjoyed what we saw of his backstory, and he and Rebecca were one of my favorite parts of the last season. Philip and Kate’s relationship was rushed. The writers gave Toby more care then they did Philip. I don’t blame them, in fact, this worked well. Toby was a part of Kate’s life and always will be—Philip is still kind of an outsider.

The show is not really about the Big 3’s future. I’m not sure I would say the show is about Rebecca. It is about their family and maybe Jack; he got the most backstory. I mean, we have his brother, his father, the Vietnam storyline.

But even though Jack and Rebecca are major characters, I still wouldn’t say what this show is all about. This show is about a family, it is about life, and it is about us.

That is what they call the show. Look at how the writers use characters that aren’t even related to the Pearsons to make a statement about people. Look back at the painting scene; Kevin’s painting is all about the connection between death and life. Rebecca’s death is not truly the end, no one’s is—and the impact we have on the people around us —for better or for worse—is never truly finished.

The final episode spent so much time on Deja and Randall, because they needed a way to tell us that life keeps growing. Rebecca’s death and the void that she left in the Pearson family is not a total loss. Showing a new Pearson pregnancy is a simple way not to make this show so sad it’s a message like The Lion King, circle of life sort of stuff. I’m happy with that. I like Deja, and I’m happy that she is happy with Malik and pregnant with their child.

I do wonder if we could have balanced their story with Kate and Kevin’s. More episodes would have helped for sure. The series had to handle a difficult task. They had to manage and tell the stories of a large cast of characters, and they had to give development to characters outside the Pearsons. The writers insisted that this cannot be merely a family story.

I think the show sometimes suffered for this approach. Tess’ story, Annie’s, and Kevin and Kates kids took a backseat. I sort of wish they focused more on the generations.

One of my earliest attempts at a novel was the story of a family. It was a fun story about a bunch of crazy siblings, but I enjoyed it a lot. The decision to make a big statement about life as a whole is a difficult one, but somehow, This is Us managed.

The writers are good at developing characters, especially Randall’s family. Some of my favorite episodes were about Randall’s father, mother, and Beth.

I can’t say I entirely mind that the show ended with a focus on Randall. The writers did a good job. They also made a decent attempt at showing the lives of those who exist outside of the nuclear family structure. I don’t quite want to make the analogy, but this show reminds me of Friends, and how none of the characters have children the traditional way.

This is Us highlights surrogacy and adoption. It shows a couple who almost marry after getting pregnant, but then decide they work better as friends and co-parents. And that’s great. A lot of times, it can be better that way.

The show does not quite explore the idea that not everyone wants a sexual and/or romantic relationship.

I found it interesting that Kevin longs to be married and have children, not necessarily because the idea of raising kids appeals to him, but because he wants to be like his father. He wants to be a good man like Jack. In Jack’s case, being a good man meant being a husband and father. Jack certainly was good at both, not perfect, but pretty good. He made a huge impact on his kids lives.

But when I think of Kevin, I can’t help thinking back on Zoe, Beth’s cousin and Kevin’s love interest. Kevin and Zoe had good chemistry and they came together when both were in a somewhat broken place. But they worked together. They communicated; they moved in together.

But they didn’t work out because Zoe didn’t want kids. I have to applaud the writers for showing a woman who didn’t want kids and didn’t change her mind.

If we compare this with Friends, where everyone married and had children, and The Big Bang Theory, where Penny had gave birth after adamantly not wanting kids, this is a big step up for respecting womens’ choices. I will say that I haven’t watched the entire series of Big Bang Theory, but this does not sound great. Why does she have to change her mind?

The weird thing is that to some of the audience, it doesn’t matter what tv characters want. We have to acknowledge that a lot of TV is full of wish fulfillment; characters do not always follow the rules of character development, realism, or logic.

Sometimes the writers keep a couple together or end a character’s arc to please the audience. That is why in Pretty Little Liars, all of the characters end with their high school sweethearts. That is why Arthur Conan Doyle brought Sherlock Holmes back from the dead.

I don’t think wish-fulfillment is inherently a bad thing. Stories belong to readers (and viewers) in a sense (to paraphrase John Green), and sometimes the fans have better ideas than the writers.

Fans are a mixed bag—they can bring different perspectives and challenge the norm for better or worse, or they can cling to convention with a death grip. They might beg for stasis and a return to a story’s roots. Fans are like that. And Kevin isn’t a completely autonomous character. His development doesn’t rely on simply what he would do or want or even what is best for his arc.

Disclaimer: Not everyone wants children. Not everyone wants to be childfree. Some people are in the middle. I feel like I am personally in the middle at the moment. Those people in the middle might be lukewarm about kids. They might be okay about the idea, but later realize they really want kids. Some people feel like they should have kids because “it’s what people do.” My reading of Kevin is that he grew up idealizing his family and thinks that he should do it because it is what people do.

Conceiving also isn’t easy for everyone, and not everyone has kids regardless of the strength of their desire for them.

I think with Zoe, the show took a step outside of the nuclear family that the show centers on. So, when I think of Kevin, I can’t help but think of Zoe. They built a relationship and got to know each other as adults. Kevin chose her over kids at first. They had potential to be something great. So, when I think about Kevin’s future, I can’t help but think about Zoe. She is a what-if.

I’m not saying it would be perfect. Showing how a couple shouldn’t settle if one partner does not want kids and the other does is a good one to tell. Especially when other shows end up showing one partner to “give in” and agreeing to have kids. You rarely see the reverse.

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure that reluctant parents don’t automatically turn into perfect parents. The same is to be said with someone who really wants kids—it isn’t an easy dream to give up. I don’t think their storyline was handled badly. Zoe and Kevin shows how relationships help us grow, even if the person isn’t in our lives forever.

But part of me wonders what Kevin’s life would be like if he chose to live a child-free life with Zoe. I can only imagine what the writers could do if one of the major couples of the show didn’t have kids. Imagine if Zoe and Kevin built their lives together. What if he decided that he could be happy with her without children, and that he could still be like his father, a good man, without creating a new generation. What if he realized that maybe fatherhood was something he thought he wanted, but it wasn’t what he needed?

If we look at the scenes with Kevin and his kids, they aren’t anything special or memorable. None of his scenes with them are like the scenes get even a little close to what we get with Rebecca, Jack, and the Big 3.

I imagine if he was child-free he would still take care of Rebecca when she got older and build his mother’s house. I’d like to think that he would have been there for her just as much, if not more.

Would they have stayed together and settled down in LA eventually? What would Zoe’s career have looked like? Would she stay a photographer? That’s a cool job. I wish we’d learned more about her overall.

Kevin has been a great uncle to Tess, Annie, and Deja. We’d get to see all of them and the girls. Maybe we’d get more of a focus on their stories if they went that route. I think it could also be important for people to see how you can live a full life without kids. You can be a part of a great family and live a great life.

Imagine instead of all this rush to settle down and have a family, he spent the series building something. I loved watching Kevin build his mother’s house and start a business. What else could he have done if the writers took screen time away from his love life drama and focused on his character development and relationship with someone who had been there with him for years? Or what if he didn’t find someone and settle down at all?

I think their story could have been great, just as flawed and full of ups and downs as Randall and Beth, Jack and Rebecca, and Kate and Philip.

Zoe is a bit of a foil to Kevin’s family. She grew up with an abusive father, and she is independent. Beth describes her as a “maneater” who goes through different relationships with men. We learn later that this is because of her abuse. But she likes Kevin. She didn’t grow up with Jack and Rebecca, the super parents.

Jack and Rebecca created an amazing family and had a great life together. But not everyone’s lives will look like that. Look at Miguel and Nicky’s stories.

The writers concoct a one-night stand and then bring back his high school ex just so that he can get the marriage and babies fantasy that everyone is told is what life should look life. It is what you’re told is what happens; but it doesn’t, always, and often for the better. If Kevin and Zoe stayed together, the show would look very different. But I think it could be a good thing, a great thing for TV.

I think for future shows, it could be interesting to think about what it means for someone to have a happy ending or to live the good life. So many shows follow this path. Start with lost characters who don’t understand themselves. End their stories with them a changed person. Sometimes means they’re single, in a relationship or marriage, or with children. All of these are parts of life, and it is tiring only seeing mostly one to live a fulfilling life.

My Thoughts

I wrote another article about parenthood a while back. This one is called BoJack Horseman Argues Parenthood is a Choice. This topic is one that I think about quite a bit. I am a woman in my twenties, and as I started my last year of college, I started to think about these things. When I was a student at Grove City College, I remember that marriage and children were part of a lot of people’s futures.

If we look at the US, the stereotype of married with kids in a baby carriage, isn’t the truth for a lot of twenty-somethings and millennials. I had a college professor that would mention this to us all the time, how people aren’t having kids, how sad it is, etc. It always made me feel uncomfortable. I mean, it is a very binary/hetero view of the world, but it is also useless to bewail. Some people won’t be happy with kids. And it is a terrible idea to tell those people they need to be parents to contribute to society. Those situations can leave kids miserable.

Why does it matter what decisions other people make? I also think that I’ve always felt uncomfortable with people assuming that I would have kids someday. I felt uncomfortable with people assuming that everyone should be a parent–or that life without a marriage and children is inherently tragic.

That brings me back to This is Us. So many shows want to end and tie everything up in a bow. He meets the woman of his dreams, they have kids and name the child after their grandparents. Are we scared in a way, of imagining a life where someone is happy without those things?

A feminist reading could be that people don’t think (especially) women should be happy making their own choices, and that essentially they want people to surrender to a higher force, God, or destiny. Yet, they always hope that destiny ends one way– marriage and children. The thing is, you’re not broken if you don’t want or don’t get those things.

Note: In these few weeks, I can’t talk about this without thinking about the recent Roe ruling. Not everyone one needs to be a parent, wants to be one, or should be. Not everyone has the resources: financially and emotionally. Even with resources like child support centers or even a helpful family, it isn’t fixed after giving birth, or after the child is enough to outgrow diapers.

So, that is why I think I wonder what would have happened if Kevin could have ended up without kids. I mean, he grew up in a world where he couldn’t imagine any other life.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. I think it could be nice to see life in all its forms. Say, this is a family with three daughters. This is a couple who fell in love, had kids, divorced, but still cares for each other. And this is someone who is child-free and found happiness. This is Us.

Books

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo Book Review

One of the first things I wanted to do when I got home from college was read something again. I looked at the popular Instagram books; and, because I enjoyed The Love Hypothesis, I decided to listen to the audible audiobook of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. This book was written by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Three different people read this one: Alma Cuervo, Robin Miles, and Julia Whelan. I haven’t listened to an audiobook in full in a while, but I enjoyed listening to the narrators. Evelyn’s voice was strong. It fit her personality well. We also get the voice of the reporters who do stories on Evelyn.

So, what is this story even about? I would call it a fictional biography. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo tells the story of a life, and her life no means a simple one.

I’m going to be honest with you, when I picked this book up, I expected pure escapism. I expected to hear the tales of a wealthy, glamorous, larger-than-life actress. I imagined I’d enter a world like Gossip Girl. The picture in my head wasn’t entirely inaccurate, but it was also reductive. It was unexpectedly sad, though I wouldn’t say it was tragic. Well, it is a little tragic.

Note: I didn’t any research before reading, and I found out later that Reid is cishet and white (like myself). Some of the criticism online makes sense when you realize she’s writing outside her experience. I can’t say whether she portrayed a bisexual Cuban woman accurately, but Reid appears to have done some research.

Summary

We begin with Monique Grant, a reporter for Vivant magazine, who is selected to write a cover story on actress Evelyn Hugo. It sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime. Evelyn refuses to give an interview to almost anyone, and for some reason, she wants Monique to listen to her life story.

Monique has a story of her own. She is a thirty-five-year old reporter who has been working for Vivant, a drama magazine for quite some time. She is always writing fluff pieces and rarely gets to write anything real. I am starting out in my career, but I understand Monique. I’d like to be a writer, but I’m not sure what I want to write yet. I’d like to write something meaningful outside of this blog, but I’m not sure what yet. Monique wrote a piece about assisted suicide that she felt passionate about, but otherwise, her job just hasn’t given her the opportunity. Journalism sounds exciting, finding a story and telling it, but not all stories are going to interest you.

Celebrity gossip is something that would bore me, and I’d imagine years in the field would grow tiring. It is all so. . . fake. But I do find myself reading articles about famous people. But I have to remind myself that even if I read every article and make the right google searches, I still won’t know everything. I cannot figure out everything about a celebrity’s life.

We won’t ever find out know the intimate details of their relationships or their deepest imperfections. Even if they go on trial or host podcasts about their personal lives, we aren’t actually there. The audience feels like they are a part of their lives. They call it a parasocial relationship I believe. I am certainly guilty of feeling like I know a youtuber or famous person.

Monique falls into this a bit, she decides to watch all of Evelyn Hugo’s movies, and she falls a bit in love with her. After reading this book, I am not sure I’m in love with Evelyn, but she certainly fascinates me.

We learn soon that Evelyn wants Monique to publish a whole book about her after Evelyn dies. That’s quite the task.

I like how Reid doesn’t just push Monique to the background. She pushes against Evelyn at times, and she is inspired by her. Monique is half-black and half-white. We learn that her father died when she was a young. Her husband, David, recently moved out of her home. She keeps ignoring his calls. Talking to Hugo makes her bolder, stronger. She makes her realize that she has to fight for what she wants.
They share similarities, the two of them. Evelyn was born Evelyn Elena Herrera. She is Cuban, but she has changed her name to get parts. She dyed her hair blonde.

I was surprised, and saddened to learn that Evelyn’s first marriage was out of desperation rather than love. She was a teenager. The men she interacts with early on are pedophiles. There is no other way to say it. There was one scene where a boy at a grocery shop grooms her and gives her candy for time with him. She is convinced as a child that she should use her body to move ahead in her career and get what she wants. These scenes aren’t explicit, but they’re pretty awful to hear about. Her father also abused her as well. Those are parts of her life that she doesn’t talk about as much. She doesn’t really deal with them or have an opportunity to heal.

She ends up in an abusive second marriage with her husband, Don, as well. Don was different at first. She married him when she was 19, she loved him and he liked for who she was or at least what she was trying to be. She views sex as a transaction until she meets Don. Then it is making love. They started dating for publicity and he was the one guy she liked.

He started hitting her after the marriage. His family was famous and he wanted to be successful like them. He kind of reminds me of toxic masculinity. The writer, Reid, is a feminist, so I imagine she wrote this way on purpose. He struggled to play the tough guy and action heroes early in his career and faced criticism. So, he decided to be super tough at home. He wanted Evelyn to settle down and have children and hurt her when she said no.

I found Don to be a disappointment, and after he leaves, we dive into the pop culture world. Evelyn is always meeting celebrities to grow her image. She gets a role in Father and Daughter.

The world of celebrities is just like you’d expect. Their lives are glamorous and luxurious and fake and petty. The relationships between these people were so petty that I felt sad. Women are expected to compete with each other for roles. She goes out to meals with other women, but they do not become close. Her relationship with Ruby was a difficult one. They were so fake to each other, but they also understood each other. I wish that they’d have become good friends.

She does make one true friend, her producer at Sunset Studios, a man named Harry who says that she is “too young” and “not his type,” and Evelyn and Harry both know that means he is gay.

Celia St. James

Evelyn meets someone new after this. She finally gets to play Jo in Little Women, and she is thrilled. But she is intimidated by her co-star, Celia St. James, who plays Beth. She worries Celia will steal the show from her. They end up getting milkshakes together. Evelyn knows the game. When someone wants to meet her in a public place, they want to take photos of them together. She has no problem using people.

I liked Celia immediately. She always plays the good girl role in movies, like Beth in Little Women. She acts naïve at first, but she is way smarter than she lets on.

Celia is an idealist. She played Beth in Little Women and won an Oscar. Method actress- she became her character. She admires Evelyn’s way of rising to the top and wants to learn from her. She admires how Evelyn manipulates the system to rise to the top. She admires how she is cunning and quick. Celia is pretty quick herself. If I were to place these two in Hogwarts Houses, Evelyn would be a Slytherin. She even sports the green dress. Celia is a Gryffindor. She is an idealist. She hopes for a better, more accepting world. She has deep principles. She generally wants to get to know Evelyn.

Evelyn and Celia fall in love. It turns out that she was the love of Evelyn’s life. We actually learn this pretty early in the story. Their love story is genuine and real, sensual and beautiful. I enjoyed the scenes where they are just talking, getting to know each other. Evelyn opens up to another person like she hasn’t before. Their masks fall with each other. Their romance begins in the 1960s, and almost no one in the industry is “out.”

They disagree on what to do, on how to be together. Evelyn tries more marriages, most of them to hide her relationship with Celia. Their relationships is rocky and difficult.

We learn that Evelyn is bisexual. Celia is a lesbian.

“I’m bisexual. Don’t ignore half of me so you can fit me into a box.”

Monique mistakenly thinks that Evelyn is only attracted to women, but Evelyn calls her out. She falls in love with Don Adler and experiences attraction to men. The book touches on gay rights issues. During the Stonewall riots, they are unable to protest because doing so would distract people from the real issues. They all donate to help during the AIDS crisis, and Evelyn donates to LGBTQ+ causes her entire life.

I loved how Evelyn maintains that Celia is the love of her life. They have a soulmate energy. At one point in the book, she marries Harry, her producer, and she marries a man named John. John and Harry are in love and Celia and Evelyn are in love. They are each other’s bards. But they all develop into a family who deeply care about each other. The world that Evelyn lives in feels so fake. There are no scenes of acting, and Evelyn says that she really became an actress to prove herself. Celia is a good actress. She is a method actor, she becomes her character and seems to like the art of acting more than Evelyn.

I feel like Evelyn spent so much time trying to make it in the world that she didn’t really get to know others or herself as much as she could have. For instance, she feels out of touch with her Cuban identity. She stops speaking Spanish and dyes her hair. She does become close to a Cuban maid named Louisa, and they form a years-long bond.

Evelyn is confident in her abilities, but she still ties much of her talent to her looks and struggles a bit to see herself as a good actress.

“What good did I have other than to be beautiful.”

My favorite scenes are probably the ones between Evelyn, Celia, Harry, and John. It is the one time when she is part of a family. They are an unconventional family, and there is something beautiful about it. Harry and Evelyn end up having a baby together because they both want a child.

I wasn’t expecting a child in this story, but it works. Their daughter, Connor, is a great addition. Their relationship is entirely platonic, and it is beautiful. I loved the scenes of them together raising Connor and taking her to the park. Harry went through so much.

“But if you have to go, then go. Go if it hurts. Go if it’s time. Just go knowing you were loved, that I will never forget you, that you will live in everything Connor and I do. Go knowing I love you purely, Harry, that you were an amazing father. Go knowing I told you all my secrets. Because you were my best friend.”

You already know how many husbands she will have, so it is a bit tiring waiting until the last one comes.

I feel like the ending was a little rushed. There aren’t many scenes with her and Connor, and her daughter goes from a wild teenager to a Stanford graduate pretty quickly. I get that Blair Waldorf characters exist in real life, but it seemed like all it took was a single conversation, dinner promise, and decent father figure to set things right. I appreciate the beauty of motherhood and every scene they had together, but that plot felt incredibly rushed. I get that Evelyn would want to make her daughter look good for the story, but her plot (and her daughter dying) felt a bit cliché.

I honestly was fascinated by the idea of Evelyn’s biography. The story focused one on moments in time that Evelyn remembered and less on the everyday trials of an actress. I wish we’d seen more acting scenes, but I liked the format a lot. I liked seeing Monique’s reactions to Evelyn. I liked her subplot with David. I’m not sure about her subplot with her father though. I feel like this story didn’t need another twist.

But Evelyn was a good character. She was witty and honest; immoral and a rare example of morality in Hollywood; and she wasn’t good or necessarily bad. I found myself sympathizing with her, even after the plot twist. I liked almost all of the characters, and I disliked the men I wasn’t supposed to like. I do think she could have been written better, all the characters could have been. My biggest problem is the lack of nuance and the author’s refusal to leave the reader with any lasting questions. A reviewer on Goodreads said it better than me. On June 14th, 2020, a book reviewer and blog youtuber named Chan commented:

“she doesn’t want the reader to form their own opinions, she’s rather just hold your hand to the “point.”

I didn’t finish this book with many questions. I finished it in awe. I was captivated the entire time that I was reading. I didn’t want to stop until I knew how Evelyn’s story ended. But when I finished, I didn’t have any meaningful questions. My only one was maybe, what happens to Monique?

“she doesn’t want the reader to form their own opinions, she’s rather just hold your hand to the “point.”

I feel like some of the romantic lines were a bit dramatic, and so were Evelyn’s pieces of advice. I might have had a different experience if I read the book instead of listened to it. I didn’t remember any of the specific lines very well, but I still feel like it was good.

There was one thing I did find rather profound. Evelyn notes how she always went after what she wanted; she chased after happiness and grabbed it. Meanwhile, other people seemed to fall into happiness in life. She wonders which is better. I feel like my life has been a mix of both. I have ended up in situations and places that I didn’t choose. I was fortunate enough to know the right people at the right time. But I also go after what I want when I see it. I’m also pretty passive sometimes. I want something, but I hesitate, like Evelyn warns against. I feel like it depends on the circumstance, but I do feel like Evelyn spent so much of her life (after becoming rich and famous) trying to prove herself. In a way, it was worth it for her. She didn’t get a perfect happy ending, but she ended up with the love of her life and many joys.

I do admire how Reid takes a stance with her writing. The sexism and terrible men are called out and Evelyn wouldn’t need seven husbands if she could marry the woman she loves instead. Meanwhile, Hollywood seems to excuse anything other than being LGBTQ+. Adultery, swinging, abuse, and pretty much anything else is accepted, used for clicks, and brushed under the rug. She isn’t afraid to call out the Reagan administration and show how hard it was for LGBTQ+ people during that time. Evelyn herself reflects on what it is like to feel like a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and how she feels connected even though she is closeted and does not attend the protests.

Another thing I want to mention. Celia’s code. Celia is a sort of moral center for Evelyn, even though Evelyn fails to meet that code several times. Celia wants Evelyn to be honest with her, to remain loyal to her, and she just wants to be with the woman she loves. Evelyn’s Vegas marriage, for instance, hurt Celia. It makes you want the world to be like Celia sees it. All of Hollywood just feels so fake. It makes me never want to be famous. I wouldn’t trade lives with Evelyn Hugo for anything.

Have you read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo? Let me know what you think down in the comments below!