Month: September 2022

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.